1999, Movies

Calculating Infinity (1999) by The Dillinger Escape Plan

I came into this fully expecting to say it’s the “birth of mathcore”. But a little bit of research suggests that many bands had been making music at least somewhat similar to this for a little while, perhaps even years. I don’t know any of those bands, basically, so I have no idea how many …

1994, Music

Ruby Vroom (1994) by Soul Coughing

Beginning sometime in the mid to late ’80s, there was a curious trend in the UK where a bunch of white guys began to appropriate much of the music of hip hop to make music that was, mostly, decidedly not hip hop. This music has very little rap in it (sometimes absolutely none) and had …

1989, Music

Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989)

I’ll be honest. I have no idea what the state of R&B was in 1989, outside of Michael Jackson and Prince. (And, I guess, Whitney Houston’s early hits.) It’s a genre I never spent much time with once you get past the early ’70s. Well, until very recently, anyway. So I really don’t have the …

1964, Movies

Children of the Damned (1964, Anton Leader)

A long time ago I read something which told me to add this film, and not the earlier film, to my list. Watching this movie now, I have no idea why someone thinks this is the better movie. Because this film is worse in basically every way.

2008, Books

Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood (2008) by Mark Harris

This is an excellent and enthralling survey of the five films nominated for Best Picture for the 40th Academy Awards, a symbolic moment in the history of Hollywood when both “new Hollywood” and “old Hollywood” films were up for Best Picture. The movies are Bonnie and Clyde, Doctor Dolittle (seriously), The Graduate, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and In the Heat …

1960, Movies

Village of the Damned (1960, Wolf Rilla)

This is one of those horror classics which has aged pretty poorly, with both the script and the effects having dated kind of horribly. But the production values outside of the effects are otherwise excellent and it really is on the good side of horror films of the period.

2019, Movies

The 2019 Toronto International Film Festival

Once again I only saw 5 movies this year. As with previous years, the reason for that will become apparent in a month or so. But, as usual, we managed to do a pretty good job picking movies and only saw movie I wouldn’t recommend seeing, which is a pretty good ratio.

2019, Movies

Incitement (2019, Yaron Zilberman)

This is a nearly flawless dramatization of the radicalization of the man who assassinated Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. It is apparently the film time a film has been made about the assassination, likely because of how raw the wound still is 25 years later. But I would say that this is absolutely the film to …

2016, Movies

Deepwater Horizon (2016, Peter Berg)

Peter Berg excels at a kind of hyper competence, where his films are technically extremely well made and impressive but which lack subtext or critical thinking. I often hate his films even though I have to grant that they always have exceptional production values. But this one is (a little) different. I think this is …

2019, Movies

A Herdade (2019, Tiago Guedes)

This absolutely gorgeous film is one of those epic films which attempts to tell the history of a place or country though the experiences of a family. It’s the kind of high concept we might associate with classic Hollywood. But it is not a classical film in terms of the content.

2019, Movies

Lyrebird (2019, Dan Friedkin)

Do you ever watch a film with high production values and, from the opening scenes, you’re thinking, ‘this is is not going to be good’? Well, Lyrebird is such a movie. It’s the kind of movie you spend wondering if it’s the director’s first film (it is) because nothing works like it’s supposed to. SPOILERS …

1984, Music

War and Pain (1984) by Voivod

I had heard the name Voivod a bunch before I listened to this record. And I think I had always heard them mentioned as a thrash metal band. But somehow, right before I listened to this, I read they were a speed metal band. And though I think I knew that was wrong, that primed …

1984, Music

I Often Dream of Trains (1984) by Robyn Hitchcock

A few months ago I was listening to one of Robyn Hitchcock’s ’90s records – Jewels for Sophia – and I was completely uninterested in it. I’m not sure if it was actually boring, but it definitely sounded out of time (and conservative) compared to what was being made at the time. It seemed like …

1984, Music

Forever Young (1984) by Alphaville

I don’t love synthpop and I approach these records with trepidation unless I already know the bands. (Sometimes even if I know the band.) It’s just not my thing and it has to really stand out for me to care that much. Usually I prefer when a synthpop band has a broader palette than just …

1984, Music

Powerslave (1984) by Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden are a little like the AC/DC of NWOBHM. At least they are to my ears. Once they dispatched their original lead singer, their sound really settled into place. And the listener is left with a lot of animals that, on the surface, sound very similar to each other. The distinguishing feature from album …

1979, Music

154 (1979) by Wire

Perhaps the shock has warn off. Chairs Missing is so different from Pink Flag – not to mention it helped invent a genre – that one sort of expected a similar leap between Chairs Missing and this record. I’m not trying to say they’re that similar, but they’re certainly more similar than I had been …

2019, Movies

Mano de obra [aka Workforce] (2019, David Zonana)

This a very well-made, fascinating drama about manual labourers in Mexico City which threatens to become a thriller but consistently subverts your expectations and ends up having more in common with classical tragedy. It’s a debut, so I was very wary of choosing to see it, but this is a remarkably self-assured film. I strongly …

1979, Music

Solid State Survivor (1979) by Yellow Magic Orchestra

This is some shockingly ’80s-sounding discofied synthpop. It feels like it’s miles ahead of the British synthpop bands. And if I didn’t know about Kraftwerk’s existence I might be tempted to claim it’s the birth of synthpop. But frankly I don’t have the context to properly assess music like this. When it comes to the …

1979, Music

Cut (1979) by The Slits

I am having a hard time thinking of this band as something more than “not the Raincoats” or “lesser Raincoats”. And that’s utterly ridiculous. A quick google will demonstrate that this album came out two months before the Raincoats’ debut album. And it’s not either band’s fault that I have listened to multiple Raincoats albums …

1979, Music

Join Hands (1979) by Siouxsie and the Banshees

The problem with listening to much of band’s catalogue before listening to their early records is that those early records inevitably sound primitive or immature (or both) in comparison. And that was very much my first impression of this record when I listened to it, as if I was listening to the Banshees before they …

1979, Music

The Pleasure Principle (1979) by Gary Numan

Gary Numan’s debut album continues where Tubeway Army’s final album left off; basically it feels like it’s nearly the logical conclusion of what their second album suggested: a fusion of Synthpop and New Wave that sounds far more like New Wave than virtually all other Synthpop music of the time.

2019, Movies

Heroic Losers (2019, Sebastián Borensztein)

This is an enjoyable, albeit flawed, heist comedy about a group of townspeople whose dreams of resurrecting their town’s granary are devastated by the “Corralito”, a reaction to a run on the banks during the Argentine Great Depression. It’s hits the standard heist movie beats, but it is refreshing both because of how funny it …

2014, Movies

Children 404 (2014, Askold Kurov, Pavel Loparev)

Ever since we all started recording ourselves, there has been an absolute trove of material for filmmakers to use to cover basically any subject they want. I don’t know when this started exactly, but I feel like this must have been one of the earlier films to take full advantage of this new facet of …

2018, Books, Non-Fiction

LikeWar (2018) by PW Singer and Emerson T. Brooking

This is a terrifying and depressing book about the weaponization of the internet, and social media in particular, by countries and other actors, in order to alter what the average person thinks is “true” or “factual”. The good news is that this isn’t necessarily the most rigorous analysis, meaning that some of their most dire …

1938, Movies

The Childhood of Maxim Gorky (1938, Mark Donskoy)

This is the first part of a three part adaptation of Maxim Gorky’s autobiographies, released in the years after his death. I don’t believe I have ever read any Gorky, but I know he’s considered one of the greats of his era.

1974, Music

Crime of the Century (1974) by Supertramp

Before I knew what Prog Rock was, Supertramp was just a band on classic rock radio that I didn’t exactly love. Once I figured out what Prog Rock was, they became this caricature for me – my friends who hated prog hated it because they hated Supertramp but, to me, Supertramp wasn’t prog at all, …

2019, Music

Hootie and the Blowfish Live at the Budweiser Stage August 29, 2019

You read that right. Last night, I went to see Hottie and the Blowfish. The band I wrote this review about. I went because my girlfriend wanted to go. I hadn’t been to the Molson Amphitheatre Budweiser Stage in so long I almost forgot what it was like. It seems they have made it a …