What I’ve Watched Lately

New Order Live at Finsbury (2002)

Imagine my joy in seeing the disc in the bin; imagine my brows twitching while seeing Bernard Sumner dancing wildly in his glorious old unfitness. No matter, not even the now ex-member Gillian is nowhere, this is New Order, and they’re as noxiously potent as ever. What’s lovelier is they did a handful of Joy Division songs.

Intolerable Cruelty (2003)

Caught it on HBO, and decided to watch it throughout. As with most recent movies, this was one I had planned to watch in the theaters, but never did. Easily a good -not excellent; seems to be obviously targetted to the mass-market, attention-deficited audience- Coen brothers movie, clever in most spaces, and provides hope as to what Hollywood can -but will not- offer.

Ran (1985)

An exc/eptional TV network, ABC 5 is; this was shown last weekend. I’m not a connosieur of Kurosawa, but I believe I’ve seen less than a dozen, and though I’m mightily impressed by most, I haven’t been convinced with his work in color. Madadayo? Oh please, spare me the stereotype macho Jap sensei schtick. Dreams? Ok, it had its remarkable moments, but the pro-environment theme pouts vigorously like a really bad sore – Miyazaki does it better. Ran? Ran is undoubtedly a masterful work which possessed the most potent conclusions of any war-oriented film I’ve seen so far. Ran had scenes where you could’ve mistakenly sworn these warrior costumes were color hand-painted, with dead gray backgrounds. Easily one of Kurosawa’s best, and loveliest.

Buena Vista Social Club (1999)

This was a hard-sell disc, but two things fell on me after watching it: Havana is beautiful, and this was one Wim Wenders film where I didn’t experience sudden, but brief, drowsiness.

The film introduces the members of a musical collective known as the Buena Vista Social Club, composed of aged and forgotten musicians and singers, practitioners of soulful son music. About a third through the movie, I made a personal mind note that hooked me more to the film’s spirit:

I first had guitar lessons with a local musician back when I was in Obando, Bulacan, probably in my early teens, I recalled how he was present in most funerals and town gatherings, along with drummer and the occassional bassist. The death of the traditional band musician was probably the advent of multiplex’s and minus-one’s, and ultimately, karaoke. Why’d anyone invite any of these old-timers when they could just rent a crude lawanit karaoke machine for an entire day? The only remnant of that still visible now would be those grand bands with blind musicians, or those blind husband-and-wife guitar-and-singer tandems with donation boxes. Honestly, I’m always surprised and glowingly admire how exceptional most of them are, those keepers and renderers of forgotten songs; that sliver of pity never really comes to me.

Back to the film: this was fairly easy consumption. The viewer is provided with musician history and profiles, interspersed with band performances in Amsterdam and New York. Havana provided a marvelous backdrop, from the beat-up classic American cars, to the art-deco buildings; if the US colonized the Philippines before everyone else, things might’ve looked like this.

[Listening to: Chove Chuva – Thievery Corporation – Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66 – Sounds From The Verve Hi-Fi (3:17)]

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