30 Day Song Challenge (in one day)

I was late to this. Today I saw Chris Caines tweeting about his songs (he was catching up too) and decided to find the list and join in. So here they all are. I found it on Doctor J’s blog. So here we go, mind the step …

30 Day Song Challenge (2015)
DAY 01:  your favorite song   A Forest (Tree mix), The Cure (from Mixed Up. I’ve seen two of their “last concerts ever”.)
DAY 02:  your least favorite song  Who Are You, The Who (mainly now because of CSI, but I hated it well before they started using it & I refuse to provide a link to it)
DAY 03:  a song that makes you happy  Mack the Knife (live version, Ella Fitzgerald (she forgets some words and improvises)
DAY 04:  a song that makes you sad  re: Stacks, Bon Iver (because I associate it with Dad’s death last year)
DAY 05:  a song that reminds you of someone  And It’s Alright, Peter Broderick (because I had this played at my brother’s funeral. It was very sad.)
DAY 06:  a song that reminds you of home Helplessness Blues, Fleet Foxes (I don’t know why, but I love the change of time signature that they pull off at about 2:45)
DAY 07:  a song you never tire of hearing  True Faith, New Order (and the iconic music video I linked to broke new ground in 1987 – it is worth a whole blog post I think; or She’s Gone, The Brian Jonestown Massacre – for me this song is almost like tripping, it is all-encompassing and I just dive into it, all 7+ minutes of it)
DAY 08:  a song you know all the words to  Take a Picture, Filter (or Ripe & Ruin, Alt-J)
DAY 09:  a song that makes you want to dance Peter Pan, Jinja Safari (because ugly dancing)
DAY 10:  a song that helps you fall asleep Harry Patch (In Memory Of), Radiohead (it doesn’t send me to sleep, but it is soft and a melancholy)
DAY 11:  a song from your favorite band/artist In Between Days (Shiver Mix), The Cure (from Mixed Up)
DAY 12:  a song from a band/artist you hate  Anything by Justin Bieber (once again, no link)
DAY 13:  a song that is a guilty pleasure  Kids, MGMT (and I really don’t feel that guilty, but it was this or something from Coldplay)
DAY 14:  a song no one would expect you to love Unite Us, Pnau
DAY 15:  a song that could be the theme song to your life Ordinary, Red Riders (I wish they’d not split up, but I was fortunate enough to see their last Sydney show; or You Are A Tourist, Death Cab for Cutie – watch the video, I think it is brilliant!)
DAY 16:  a song you used to love but now hate Jelly Legs, Children Collide (I guess I don’t really hate it, but I do skip if it comes up on the Nano)
DAY 17:  a song you hear often on the radio Time to Wander, Gypsy & The Cat (well, I used to hear it when I was listening to the radio some years ago)
DAY 18:  a song that every bar band should know Closer to Fine, Indigo Girls
DAY 19:  a song that bar bands should stop playing Anything from Hot August Night, Neil Diamond (it could be banned or made illegal, so no link.)
DAY 20:  a song to listen to when you’re angry Johnny Appleseed, Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros (calms me down; makes me smile again)
DAY 21:  a song that is best heard live  Go Or Go Ahead, Rufus Wainwright (but I’ve also heard a fab version by Matthew Mitcham in his cabaret show)
DAY 22:  a song you wish you had written A Stillness, The Naked and Famous (I LOVE this song)
DAY 23:  a song you want played at your wedding Intro, M83 Feat. Zola Jesus (from Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, Disc1)
DAY 24:  your favorite song this time last year We Are Fine, Sharon Van Etten (& I still love it because it is truly beautiful. I first heard it on the US TV series Rectify.)
DAY 25:  a song with utterly mysterious lyrics Moth’s Wings, Passion Pit (I’ve never really tried to understand the lyrics)
DAY 26:  a song that is an “earworm”  Symphonies, Dan Black (in a good way mostly)
DAY 27:  a song you wish you could play/sing  The Shining, Badly Drawn Boy (another very beautiful song first heard on the US series Queer As Folk. They always selected outstanding music to close each episode.)
DAY 28:  a song from your childhood  The Boy With a Moon and Star on his Head, Cat Stevens (I was a big fan)
DAY 29:  a song you want played at your funeral Read My Mind, The Killers (The lyrics are wonderful, especially “The stars are blazin’ like rebel diamonds, cut out of the sun…”)
DAY 30:  a song you discovered this month (during the Challenge)  Love Will Tear Us Apart, Joy Division (well, more rediscovered actually, but I love that someone had it down as a song to be played at a wedding)

The Invitation – review #sydfilmfest

The Invitation is supposed to be a slowburn thriller or a “riveting horror film”, set around a dinner party reunion of a group of friends (plus two others). Our hero Will (Logan Marshall-Green) returns to his old home with his girlfriend Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi), two years after the death of his young son. His ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard) and her new husband David (Michiel Huisman) are hosting a dinner party for a group of old friends. Like most dinner parties, it begins very slowly, someone is late and it is all rather awkward. One of the problems with this film is that there are simply too many characters to be introduced and then ignored. This takes an age, isn’t effectively done and in doing so we are soon treated to a series of odd facial expressions straight out of the early years of Home and Away.

It continues to move along at a slow pace, with very little happening along the way. We know something is going to happen because you know, we bought tickets for a horror flick, but it just isn’t riveting, so I started getting distracted by things. From what I saw of the house, it didn’t look much like a contemporary home. It looked a little like a darkly-lit version of the Brady Bunch family home. Then it seemed that quite a lot of the guests (I won’t name them because most were not memorable) had been dressed by Alice the maid from Mr & Mrs Brady’s old wardrobe. Eden, however, was dressed and made up like the wife of one of those guys who runs tournaments for slaves, gladiators and lions in an ancient Rome TV series. But I digress …

Along the way we are introduced to a cult that has supposedly helped Eden deal with her grief. It was during this period that I started wondering whether this film was the Hollywood film version of an Instagram selfie. Let’s not get stuck there tho’.

Eventually, the ever suspicious Will has his first brain-fart, but his theory about what is happening is quickly assuaged when the missing guest finally shows up. Later on, much later on, after more gnashing of teeth (mostly Will’s), the proverbial does hit the fan and we are all relieved that something did eventually happen. It just wasn’t terribly thrilling and what does happen is left far too late.

Only lasts 90 mins but it seems much longer. 2.5/5

Phoenix – review #sydfilmfest

Billed as a mystery, I thought Phoenix was more of a complex exploration of forgiveness, love, betrayal and rebuilding in Berlin immediately after the Second World War. It moves at a gentle pace, allowing tension to build and this is very skilfully accomplished. We are left asking all kinds of questions about the reasons and motives for betrayal, and then perhaps wondering what we’d have done in the same situation. How much does true love influence forgiveness? And ultimately, are there limits to this kind of forgiveness?

It is easy to see the successful rebuilding of Berlin the city and now it is almost impossible to imagine the post-war destruction that obliterated some districts, but what of the people? How long does it take to heal, forget or forgive those wounds and losses? A generation or more? Phoenix made me think about all of this more deeply than my most recent visit to Berlin late last year.

The film is very well produced and presented and the story keeps you guessing right up to the end. It certainly didn’t end as I had expected and maybe that tells you something about how you might have reacted if faced with this kind of moral dilemma.

Everybody I spoke to thought highly of this film. Very well done. 4/5

Spring – review #sydfilmfest

This film very successfully blends romance, drama, comedy and the supernatural. It has something for everyone! The acting is good, the script is tight and contains some witty dialogue and it is very well shot in some spectacular locations.

My only minor complaint, and it is just a personal preference, is that the monster could have been defined a bit better and behaved more neatly. I prefer my monsters to be more predictable and reasonably good looking like most vampires or werewolves. The monster in this film is particularly messy.

A good night out. 3.5/5

The Tribe – review #sydfilmfest

So I decided to provide my review in a manner similar to the way the film was presented, with no dialogue, nor any subtitles for the Russian sign language.

The first paragraph is presented in the form of my written impression of the Russian sign language:                                                                                  .                                                                      .                                 !                                                                                    .                                                                  ;                                                                            ?

The second paragraph was going to be a long winded and repetitive set of points on exactly the same subject that would be really annoying and pointless to read, but I decided not to put you through that after all. (Unlike the film.)

The following 27 paragraphs are just more of the same. Work it and try to stay awake as this will take some time.

There is no concluding paragraph. I just could not be bothered.

Don’t read the critical self-indulgent reviews. In my opinion it isn’t radically new and pure expression, this film is a dud. 1/5

600 Miles – review #sydfilmfest

600 Miles does a number of things pretty well. It very effectively explores the absurd gun culture of North America. In this film I think you do get a sense of just how threatening and alarming hand guns and “hunting” rifles are. Even without ammunition. Every time we see someone handling a weapon you are aware of its weight, its mechanism and its potential lethality. The absurdity of gun laws in the US is also demonstrated when a youth buys some cartons of ammunition at a sports store, but is then asked for proof of age to purchase some cigarettes.

The plot is about illegal arms smuggling, and a law man (played well by Tim Roth) who tracks and investigates this, from the US to Mexico. Kristyan Ferrer as one of the young gun runners, captures the law man and then takes him across the border, where both need to rely on each other just to survive.

In Mexico we learn that almost nobody can be trusted, even members of your own family. This made me wonder why the film makers, who seemed mostly Mexican themselves, made all the Mexican roles seem so dark and sinister. Then I remembered that in the early scenes set back in Arizona, whilst the Americans were not all so obviously violent and corrupt, they were complicit in this whole problem and perhaps most at fault. Maybe we were meant to think that the whole world is black. There wasn’t much optimism in this film. Actually, I cannot recall any, even in the disjointed final scene during the credits.

The film only runs for 85 minutes, but the first hour is still pretty slow going and the plot is probably too thin to carry it well. There is a lot of gun violence in the last 25 minutes and then what I thought was a messy and weak ending. I realise that life isn’t always neatly concluded, but we go to the cinema to be entertained, educated, inspired and to escape reality, so I’d really prefer it if more film makers would question the vogue to leave so many loose threads or even the whole story up in the air before the credits start to roll. Sometimes it is as if they got bored with the production and just couldn’t be bothered.

Disturbing and depressing. 3/5

99 Homes – review #sydfilmfest

Wow. Billed as an intelligent thriller, 99 Homes is more of a true-to-life horror story. It focuses on the home property foreclosures by banks in the US in 2008 during the GFC. It is powerfully disturbing for its duration. I think I just sat there with my mouth open in disbelief, whilst knowing that all this actually happened. As far as I’m concerned director Ramin Bahrani deserves all the plaudits being showered upon him. The writing is just so brilliant and Ramin worked with Amir Naderi and Bahareh Azimi on this as well.

The film’s hero Dennis Nash is very well played by Andrew Garfield (who I noticed is also an executive producer for the film) and he is left with the dilemma of either looking after his family or doing what might be morally more correct. We learn, however, that this may not simply be a clear decision between the good side and the dark side. The dark side is represented by Michael Shannon’s brilliant portrayal of real estate agent Rick Nash. We are set up from the start to hate him, but this situation is soon complicated because he seems to be doing the right thing by Nash. And he delivers a couple of brilliant monologues that convincingly explain his motivation and his actions.

Ramin was present at this screening and mentioned the score that was composed by Antony Partos and Matteo Zingales. That too is great and helps set up some chilling moments of the film.

Go and see it! 4/5