Showing posts with label Music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Music. Show all posts

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Rhymin' and Crimin'

Hip Hop and crime movies have been a match made in hell since the earliest days of old school rap but Masterpieces like Boyz in the Hood and New Jack City  have slowly been supplanted by limited vanity projects and barely watchable straight to video dreck.

There have been a few authentic masterpieces that advanced both the crime film genre and the artistic boundaries of Hip Hop as well.  Today we'll look at two gems, lesser known except among the cognoscenti.
"I think you know that there's no such thing as an American anymore. No Hispanics, no Japanese, no blacks, no whites, no nothing. It's just rich people and poor people. The three of us are all rich, so we're on the same side"

Deep Cover released in 1992 is an overlooked oddity that never really got the audience it deserved.  With a theme of tortured moral ambiguity and the existential terror of ethical compromise it also features a brilliantly appropo old school Dr Dre soundtrack and the introduction of a rapper known then as Snoop Doggy Dogg on the title track

Laurence Fishburne is the hero and poetic narrator, a fiercely straight edge cop compensating for the childhood pain of watching his drug addicted father gunned down on Christmas day with an iron self control.  A sleazy DEA agent tells him his 'criminal personality type' makes him perfect for undercover work and reluctantly at first he sets himself up as a drug dealer to bring down a cocaine network that traces back to a South American politician.

The neo-blaxploitation stylized film-making of Bill Duke (A Rage in Harlem) builds and maintains a dark atmosphere of moral dread as Fishburne's character hooks up with a corrupt lawyer played with edgy intensity by Jeff Goldblum, a successful family man with a yearning need for a gangsta lifestyle, who want's his cake and eat it too.

Lines blur, loyalty is tested and Fishburne's narration gets more and more lyrical and intense.  Some amazing dramatic set pieces, tight wire over the top performances and thoughtful political and philosophical speculation make this a film you can watch multiple times and find something new every time.

"It is a good viewpoint to see the world as a dream. When you have something like a nightmare, you will wake up and tell yourself that it was only a dream. It is said that the world we live in is not a bit different from this."

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai from 2001 is a masterpiece of slow burn suspense and dramatic artifice.  Director Jim Jarmusch (Dead Man, Down by Law) never makes the same movie twice, artistically and musically he always stretches boundaries with his films.

Ghost Dog takes the martial arts movie fantasy world of Wu Tang Clan alum RZA who does the soundtrack and tells a darkly lyrical story about the power to choose the world we inhabit.

The hero played with sleepy eyed intensity by Forest Whitaker is either a crazy assassin who lives on a roof top with pigeons and kills people for the Mafia, or he is a dedicated warrior, committed body and soul to the melancholy death worshiping code of the ancient samurai as laid out in the classic 17th century Japanese text Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai. Quotes by Whitaker from the book are interspersed throughout the film and are offered as a mournful poetic counterpoint to the ambiguity of the main character.  He serves an unworthy gangster master who once saved his life, a moment of essential defining purity for Ghost Dog, but a casual throwaway whim on the part of the gangster.

There's a lot of sly humor, Ghost Dog's best friends are a Haitian Ice Cream salesman, and most of their translated conversations consist of  good natured misunderstanding; "I'm sorry, I don't speak English" in response to "I'm sorry I don't speak French" and a little girl waiting for the book that will change her life. The elderly fading mobsters offer the most laughs, ancient Italian Mafiosi obsessed with old school rap and cowboys and Indians.

The theme is simple.  Your identity, your code, your very reality is what you choose it to be, and just because you live in modern day New York doesn't mean you can't choose to be a Samurai living by an ancient code of honor.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tom Waits gets his Mojo on

Brits make the best music magazines and Mojo is one of the best of the best.

Now, to celebrate their 200th issue they've given big chunks of the magazine to Tom Waits to edit with articles about Harry Belafonte and Ray Charles and an interview by Tom Waits of Hank Williams III and they let him pick the soundtrack of the issue's free CD.

Why are you still sitting there reading this instead of running to your nearest magazine dealer?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

You are my Asylum - Alan Moore knows the score

Alan Moore performs at the launch party of his absurdly wonderful magazine project Dodgem Logic.

Every issue is a stuffed to the margins collection of music, culture and humor.  It made the fan headlines recently, when Moore publicly resigned from the New Gorillaz Rock Opera project pointing out that as the band couldn't get their act together to produce a promised 3 page story for his magazine, Moore felt little inclination to make the time to contribute the script and design work for their project. Moore is clearly having more fun with this retro underground newspaper/magazine then he's had in years.  It's a loving evocation of a particular era of rebel press in British counter-culture.  One almost expects to find a double page spread of unspeakable things being done to Andy Pandy.

Moore is one of those rare and wonderful chimera, a lifelong idol and artistic north star who never disappointed or  disillusioned.  With a bibliography full of the greatest texts in the medium Watchmen, V for Vendetta, From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen to name just a few. Fiercely, unbendingly ethical and uncompromisable, he refused movie money, refused to be punked by corporate tools and refused to be bullied artistically.  My Alan Moore shelf sags under the weight of his output, comics that dragged the artform years forward, reinterpretations of heroes and monsters, elegant pornography, rigorous science fiction, social satire and critical analysis.

He's also a practicing ceremonial magician of an idiosyncratic Golden Dawn style but with an eclectic syncreticism of his own devising.  His ultimate exegesis on the subject, The Moon and Serpent Bumper Book of Magic is at the top of my wish list of anxiously awaited future projects.

Every issue Of Dodgem Logic includes extras, a CD in issue one featuring the song at the top of this post among other local alternative musicians in Moore's orbit, issue two had an 'insert' comic Astounding Weird Penises, both written and with a rare art job by Alan Moore himself.  The latest, issue three has an old fashioned classic iron on transfer of a plump pin up beauty by Moore's collaborator and lady love Melinda Gebbie.

Moore is able to put this out, in a model perhaps inspired by his early experience with the creative collective the Art Lab, while also producing multimedia extravaganzas and putting on magically transformative spoken word performances in the tunnels under London.

He also knows the score about the ducks.  Little bastards.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Doctor in the House

Orbital close out the Glastonbury festival with an ecstatic version of the Doctor Who theme with the Doctor himself Matt Smith rocking the synthesizer!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Bad Blood

Beck contributes a swampy, sexy blues rock swagger-stomp to the new season of True Blood and it is the shit:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Saturday, May 1, 2010


I admit it, I love bombast and narrative melodrama in music, and Shakespear's Sister's 1992 hit 'Stay' provides both in spades. It's a fun goth opera slice of high grade cheese.

Particularly fun is Siobahn Fahey's over the top performance as whacked out angel of death come to steal Marcella Detroit's boyfriend away. Neil Gaiman's Sandman comic was just getting big at the time and Fahey's performance seemed to draw from his goth-girl personification of Death in the plot of the video at least.

The portrayal though, was miles away from Gaiman's perky and kindly Death, drawing more from Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard and supposedly, the 50's 'classic' Cat-Women of the Moon.

Fahey was reportedly quite drunk when the video was filmed. Watch it and decide for yourself.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Now that's a f#%*ing magazine cover!

Like every decent human, the Dweller hates Fergie, but still that's one hell of a cover!

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