Sunday, January 01, 2017

Happy New Year 2017

Well 2016 is behind us, and baby 2017 has shown up in clean diapers.  Looking back it was a pretty good year at least art-wise, which is what I pay more attention to anyway.  I really didn't pick up much music from this past year.  I'm sure I bought some albums, but I can't think of anything from  2016.  I'm sure I'd like the new Radiohead album, and perhaps David Bowie's last album.  I always bought Bowie's albums in the past, but the last one I bought was on vinyl, which was the Tonight album.  It had the FM radio hit on it Blue Jean, and he had many albums after that, so I rather moved on to other music and genre after it.  But I collected just about everything up until then.  I think Black Star would be a good album to own, if not a bit depressing now that he's gone.

I've spent more time this year just listen to the radio.  One of my main stops is over at:  They have many different genre there to choose from: country, rock, indie, jazz, classical, electronic, whatever.  You're sure to find something.  I usually tune in over there to either jazz or some of the more mellow, New Age, ambient music.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year can be depressing times if you're alone that's why if you have family be happy that they are still around.  When my parents were alive I always enjoyed when I could be with them over Thanksgiving or Christmas.  There were a few times though when that was not possible with the job I had.  They gave us the day before the holiday, the holiday itself, and after, but if that happen to fall on the weekend, and you had the weekend off, you really didn't get any extra time off.  You had to work those days before and after, or you'd miss out on the holiday pay--Catch 22.  So when my family moved to East Texas seven hours away, that meant a day of driving down, and a day of driving back, which meant I spent one day with them.  We are really a workaholic nation.

Now there was a time when I first started working that you could fudge that a bit, and I did take advantage of it some, some might accuse me of more than some.  You could layoff an extra day before or after, but I noticed when Reagan got in power, that soon ended.  It seemed that corporate American got the upper hand and tighten the belt, and it was either suck it up and conform, or find some other line of work.  A lot of people don't recognize that change in America, particularly younger people that never lived through that era.  Where I worked (the railroad) they wanted to tighten their employment to the bare minimum, with just enough extra guys to cover a vacancy here and there for a couple of days of sickness or emergencies of some type, but they wanted you back to work pdq.  They wanted you to work longer hours as well. 

I also noticed that it was around this time that corporate American gradually started to fade out retirements for workers that had put in most of their lifetimes for a company.  Remember in movies where someone would retire and get a gold watch for being an elevator operator in a skyscraper for many years and there would be a party with co-workers wondering and asking him what he planned on doing with his life?   He might say in an aw-shucks manner, I dunno, maybe I'll go fishing more, travel a bit, or work more in the garage.  Something homey.  Those days are long gone, never existed, or existed only in movies, ha.  But at least there was a time where more companies offered retirement.  I guess I'm reminiscing.   I guess as my generation dies off, the next generation will reminisce about their first Apple computer or Nintendo gaming system.  Heck,  we are already there now!

At any rate, I digress, I've not seen the new Star Wars movie either.   I should plan on going to see this over the weekend as they are forecasting a bunch of rain later here, which is why I haven't been out to see it already. 

I watched the movie, The Nice Guys, which I did not enjoy.  I don't know why so many people enjoyed it.   It's sort of a buddy picture and a nostalgic romp through the 70s years, but even that didn't do much for me.  I found the comedy boring and vular and not to my taste.  But hey, you might enjoy it, many others have.
I did enjoy Hell or High Water.  It was a modern take on westerns with local bank robbers robbing the man, in this case small town banks, to pay off their small homestead.  It's a low key western with good characterization, dialogue, and nicely shot.  It supposedly takes place around parts of Texas which I enjoyed, however, I don't know if it was actually shot in Texas or not.  It certainly looked like it was with the exception of one scene where they are driving up toward the Lubbock area, which is flat as a board, and they sort of enter this mountainous area.  I question that location, but who knows?   Some have found the ending not to their liking, but it didn't bother me.
Both of the movies, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and The Girl Who Played with Fire, are pretty much kicked ass, I thought.  They are Swedish films adapted from the trilogy of books of the same name, the third being The Girl That Kicked the Hornet's Nest.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was also adapted into an American movie as well with Daniel Craig in one of the starring roles.  Both are mysteries, the first one deals with a journalist hired by a wealthy donor to find his niece that disappeared many years ago. Michael Nyovist plays the journalist, and Noomi Rapace is a computer hacker whom meets up with Nyovist's character about midway through the film.  The second movie, The Girl Who Played with Fire, deals with a sex ring among some other plots.  I think it's best to go into these movies cold for better impact.  They are suspenseful and at times edgy, but if you enjoy that type thing, they're great.
I can see why The Neon Demon would be such a polarizing film to a lot of people.  I enjoyed it myself.  The imagery in it was really good, and it's more or less an art film or what they used to call an art film.  It's been noted as a horror movie, and I think you can go with it in that way or you can sort it out however you want to.  It's filled with metaphors and such, but that's one of the reasons I enjoyed it--it's not so easy to digest or pigeonhole.  It's mostly though about the fashion industry in LA, and Elle Fanning plays an under age ingenue trying to break into acting or modeling.  Pretty good movie.
San Andreas is definitely a guilt pleasure type film.  I wouldn't say it's bad as I did watch the entire thing, whereas I couldn't make it through The Nice Guys.  Having said that though, it is a over-the-top blockbuster popcorn movie.  It's rather ridiculous and has many scenes in it that induces eyerolling, but hey if you are just wanting to watch a big dumb, action flick it works on that level.   I imagine had I have seen this when I was around eighteen I probably would have enjoyed it all the more.

Here's a Woody Allen book review on a graphic novel, Mary Astor's The Purple Diary:  The Great American Sex Scandal of 1936.  
I've been reading Lee Child's first Jack Reacher novel, Killing Floor.  I enjoyed the first feature film so much starring Tom Cruise that I was curious about the character.  Killing Floor was not adapted into the first movie, which is a plus for me.  It starts out after Reacher has just gotten out of the military, and is just traveling around the country.  He stops off in a small town in Georgia for coffee and to find out more about the blues musician, Blind Blake on a whim.  While at the diner enjoying his coffee he is arrested for suspicion of murder.  It is tough guy fiction, and sort of pulpy, but I like the way Child writes, which is easy to read, and it moves quickly. 


At 4:47 PM, Blogger Richard Bellush said...

A good mix of sights and sounds.

Yes, for most (though not all) of us there is an age beyond which raunchy comedies full of adolescent humor cease to entertain. Your reaction to "The Nice Guys," which I haven't seen, is similar to mine to "Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates"; despite the presence of Aubrey Plaza, whose offbeat deadpan style is always an asset, the movie simply annoyed me.

Not that I sampled many, but my favorite new album of the year -- just old-fashioned blues-based rock-and-roll -- was "Rock Is Dead," the debut album of the band Dorothy. (Note: confusingly, there is a metal band also called Dorothy, of which I'm not a fan.) I also belatedly picked up and enjoyed the 2007 "The Return of Eve" by Devil Doll (aka Colleen Duffy). I liked her "Queen of Pain" album back in the day much better than anything by her contemporaries in a broadly similar category -- including Amy Winehouse. Regrettably Colleen ceased performing due to health issues.

I've read only one Lee Childs book, but I liked it well enough. In a similar vein, so to speak, I enjoyed Jeff Lindsay's 8th (and maybe last) Dexter novel, "Dexter is Dead."

Have a happy new year.

At 12:41 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

I don't know if you've heard early Fleetwood Mac before they turned into the pop unit, but they were pretty good during that early period. I always liked Then Play On, which is basically a blues album, but also has touches of psych, and some other styles. Another good one by them is the two-disc set, Fleetwood Mac in Chicago. They sometimes refer to that as the Peter Green era. I've not heard the albums you mentioned, though enjoy the Amy Winehouse I have heard. I saw the movie made about her too, fairly sad about her trajectory to stardom, yet dealing with her problems. I'll check out Colleen.

I've not read any Dexter but have had it in the back of mind to keep an eye out for it. I enjoyed the series up to the point I stopped watching it, which was after the demise of his wife. But I'd heard that they were different from the series as most adaptations tend to be. At some point I may start watching the series again, but I'd heard the series sort of petered out toward the remaining episode.

At 6:46 AM, Blogger Richard Bellush said...

Yes, Dexter of the series is a much kinder gentler version of the one in the books -- he even kills his victims at the outset whereas book Dexter finds his fun in their pain. Book Dexter is a true monster with a wicked sense of humor and a code for selecting only criminals for victims -- not as a code of ethics, but just as a practical code taught to him by his father to reduce his chance of getting caught. "Darkly Dreaming Dexter" is the first in the series.

If you liked Amy you'll probably like Devil Doll:

At 10:07 PM, Blogger Roman J. Martel said...

I watched the original versions of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and the sequels and really enjoyed them. Really great acting, intense plots and some edge of your seat tension. Just a great ride all the way around. The American remake wasn't bad, but seemed kind of pointless since the original did such a great job with it.

I need to check out "Neon Demon". It sounds right up my twisted/David Lynchy/art movie ally.

At 11:47 PM, Blogger El Vox said...

Yes, I haven't gotten around to the American version of The Girl series yet, but I'm probably like you. I felt that way about several movies that have gone that way like Let the Right One In, La Femme Nikita, and others.

You got it. The Neon Demon was fairly Lynch inspired, odd and sort of twisted with not everything over explained, yet highly stylized. Don't miss out on Hell or High Water, it's great and a throw back to a 70s feel for film making I thought.


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