Author: rnhaas

1988, Movies

Cinema Paradiso (1988, Giuseppe Tornatore)

There is a genre of film that is basically someone remembering their life growing up in a small town. (As opposed to the genre of going home to a small town.) For reasons beyond me, most of the movies I’ve seen in this genre have been Italian -maybe they are better reviewed? – so it’s …

1980, Music

Uprising (1980) by Bob Marley and the Wailers

I am on record as stating that I think Peter Tosh’s departure from the Wailers was not good for the Wailers. Tosh is, to me, the better songwriter. (Shock! Horror!) Not melodically, necessarily. (Really, I should say “of course”. Who has more hits, Marley or Tosh?)

1975, Music

Main Course (1975) by Bee Gees

This album is considered a bit of a landmark in the Bee Gees catalogue because it marks the transition (or the beginning of the transition?) from their earlier baroque pop sound to their disco sound, as well as the introduction of Barry’s falsetto. This is as far as I know one of their albums.Personally, I’m …

1975, Music

Why Can’t We Be Friends? (1975) by War

This is my second ever War album but I didn’t remember The World is a Ghetto until I looked up my review. I was going to say they reminded me a little of Earth, Wind and Fire on this one, but not that much. (In the sense of combining ballads and funk on the same …

1975, Music

One of These Nights (1975) by Eagles

I have an irrational hatred for the Eagles that was developed long before I could articulate why I hated them. Now the reasons are that I dislike the whole aesthetic of the Mellow Mafia (and their sheer dominance of American popular music in the 1970s) and I don’t like what they did to country rock. …

1975, Music

The Heat Is On (1975) by The Isley Brothers

When a band attempts more than one style, I usually prefer when they mix things up in the sequence. I find the “one side this, other side that” a bit annoying. I’m not sure why I don’t like it, but it bothers me enough that I often find myself docking a point for sequencing like …

1965, Music

The “Angry” Young Them (1965)

When I was younger, I was really into British R&B. But the older I get the less essential it seems to me: it’s not the genuine article and so much of it sounds the same. 55-60 years later, do we really care about British interpretations of American music? I mean, it made sense at the …

2016, Movies

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City (2016, Matt Tyrnauer)

I always thought Jane Jacobs was from Toronto. Shows you what I know. This is an interesting documentary specifically about the battles between Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs over roads in New York and more generally about the urban renewal and how to plan cities in general. It’s interesting, informative and thought-provoking. As one of …

1981, Movies

Die Fälschung aka Circle of Deceit (1981, Volker Schlöndorff)

This is an extraordinary movie, a little like a more cynical Killing Fields, or a less plot-driven Quiet American. A German journalist with marital problems is sent to cover the war in Lebanon. The film was shot primarily in Beirut, during the civil war, and the location shooting does a ton of the work.

2004, Books, Non-Fiction

Out of Gas (2004) by David Goodstein

Note: I read this book in 2020. It was published in 2004. It’s not that wise to read a book about energy reserves and climate change 16 years later, when the situation is continuously evolving. This is a book by a physicist about the energy crisis caused by “peak oil” with some discussion of climate …

2006, Movies

Shut Up & Sing (2006, Barbara Kopple, Cecilia Peck)

Can you imagine being so angry at a band that you drove over their CDs with a tractor? I can’t imagine Jeff Tweedy doing something that will that would make me so angry I would drive over my Wilco CDs or light them on fire. I just can’t relate to it. At all.

1936, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1952, 1953, 1956, Books, Fiction

Ficciones (1941, 1944, 1956) by Jorge Luis Borges

I read “The Aleph” possibly in university or, if not, then a few years later. I thought it was pretty crazy and incredible and resolved to read more Borges. And then I just didn’t for 15 years or so. (Not entirely true: I stumbled upon one other story – a late one – at some …

2000, Music

The Marshall Mathers LP (2000) by Eminem

I am always at least partially at a loss with reviewing hip hop records but it’s so much more true with lyrics like this. Fortunately, Eminem is a white guy (like me), so I feel a little less like a jerk writing about what he has to say. My experience is still very far removed …

2000, Music

Ooops!…I Did It Again (2000) by Britney Spears

A lot of people think pop music is supposed to be ephemeral, disposable. I guess that’s one reason I don’t like so much of it. One of my criteria for deciding whether or not something is “great” is transcendence. And, if pop music is supposed to be disposable, it should be very hard for it …

2000, Music

All Hands on the Bad One (2000) by Sleater-Kinney

I like this band. I really like their aesthetic and I like their songs. But, at some point, I’ve come to realize that they are an AC/DC type band rather than a band that is concerned with making big artistic strides on each record. (I should probably pick a bett4er comparison given AC/DC’s lyrics, but …

2013, 2014, 2015

Hannibal (2013)

In 2014, when Hannibal was in its second season, four different publications listed it as the best show of the year. It made many other Top 10 lists. The first season had made some Top 10 lists as well. In 2015, it was again declared the best show of the year by at least three …

1978, 1979, 1980, Radio

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1978)

Full disclosure: I ended up not reading the novel. I polled some friends about what I should consume “first” and the verdict was that I should listen to the radio play first. So I listened. And then I listened to the Christmas episode, and then I listened to the “second season” (which, I believe, is …

1995, Music

Everything I Long For (1995) by Hayden

Despite being Canadian Hayden has mostly eluded me. (And I’ve, um, seen him live. Seriously.) I don’t know why but I’ve just never taken the time to listen to his albums. I’ve heard some of his songs at friend’s places and, yes, I’ve seen him at a festival. But I’ve never paid much attention and …

1995, Music

I Should Coco (1995) by Supergrass

Every couple of years – hell, sometimes more than once a year – a new British band comes along that sounds like many previous British bands, but just different enough to sound “new” to enough people, and the British music press and some of their public lose their fucking minds over them. The band makes …

2010, Books, Non-Fiction

At Home: A Short History of Private Life (2010) by Bill Bryson

Full disclosure: I am a big fan of Bryson’s writing style and eat-up everything I’ve read by him. So i’m predisposed to like this book. But I must say that this is one of his lesser books and it feels like it’s a book at which a concept was created to fit content that was …

1995, Music

Destroy Erase Improve (1995) by Meshuggah

Metal is a curious thing, a world which values extreme forms of expression but which often doesn’t value diversity of expression. So many metal classics are albums that establish the conventions of a particular sub-genre, which will later ossify into something many people view as inviolable. Not this record.

1995, Music

Tilt (1995) by Scott Walker

Scott Walker had one of the most incredible second acts in popular music, utterly transforming his sound at a point at which most people could be forgiven for having forgotten about him (if they knew about him at all). His late career albums are some of the most vital, original singer-songwriter albums you’ll ever hear. …

1995, Music

Electr-o-Pura (1995) by Yo La Tengo

My biggest issue with many dream pop bands is that they make music that just doesn’t appeal to me, it’s just a not a sound I particularly enjoy. But there is a subgenre of dream pop which includes noisy guitars, and that’s a subgenre I can usually get behind. That’s the world that Yo La …