Thursday, July 14, 2011

Music and Movie Thoughts

From, say, 1983-1993, I was 100% devoted to jazz. The managers of Slipped Disc Record Co-op at SUNY-Binghamton were given free records instead of a cash stipend. Some geniuses well before my time as General Manager devised a point system that maximized the amount of records we could take to gibe with the equivalent cash value of a similar campus job. After one year as GM, I had fairly well maxed out my pop and rock needs and, looking for a new musical outlet, I tried jazz, loved it, and that was that for the next decade.

The only exception I made was for new releases by old favorites: McCartney, Dylan, that sort. I knew I was missing out on bands I really liked, but choices had to be made. I find myself catching up now, buying bulk lots of instant record or CD collections on eBay. It takes a bit of patience, but I'm making my way towards fixing that hole.

The Smiths are one of those groups I liked but never bought. I had entire John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins catalogs to make my way through! There was no time, or extra money, for Meat is Murder. Yet, lately, The Smiths are all I hear in my head. If I listened to "Half a Person" once this morning, I listened to it five times. Don't get me started on "Girlfriend in a Coma," which seems to be swirling all around me the last few weeks. So, as I watch and wait, looking for all The Smiths albums in one fell swoop, I'll keep playing Louder Than Bombs and watching You Tube clips. I will end up with all their records eventually.

I've seen every Marlon Brando movie save two or three. There are lots of stinkers in his canon, but Brando is always a sight to see and one scene can make the time well spent. Crapfests like Morituri (or, Saboteur: Code Name Morituri) are made memorable by Marlon moments. Robert DeNiro had that skill for some time, but now that his acting skill has been reduced to the permanent Focker grimace and mugging that was once comedically fresh (Midnight Run) but is now annoying and pathetic, Bobby has become almost impossible to watch.

It's Edward Norton that is the real heir to the Brando throne and, paired with DeNiro in Stone, it shows. Norton's convict of the title is deep, inscrutable, and natural. DeNiro, as his parole officer, can't keep up. It' s hard to believe I could write that but it's true. The film itself is mediocre, but Norton is what makes it worth watching. There is one scene, towards the end, when DeNiro gives up on believing in Norton's character. It's old time great DeNiro and coupled with still great Norton is brilliant work.

Harry Potter. I've never read the books and when I'd hear adults tell me they read them and "they're really good," I have no doubt. But, you know, it makes me sick.

"You're an adult," I scream internally," read Crime and Punishment or something. Half Blood Prince is where you make your mark on reading? And go no further? Come on, don't be so infantile." Exhale.

The movies are OK, but each one's marginal return is less and less. I finally saw Deathly Hallows Part 1 last night and it was fine. It was the first one in the series I hadn't seen in the theater and it was good enough that I didn't regret the time spent. A little too much Lord of the Rings-y for me. Could Dobby be any more Smigel-like in concept, or the Horcrux that, when worn, makes the wearer behave badly? "Precious" anyone?

I know we're all supposed to believe in the love triangle of Harry-Hermoine-Ron, but does any sentient being over the age of 10 believe in the sexual chemistry between any of those three dweebs? Seeing Weasley with his shirt off is enough to make me call in the Death Eaters.

I have no reason to see these films other than completing the set, and I will dutifully see Part 2, but I can't say when. It'll definitely be without any enthusiasm.

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