It’s really sad that when people are talking about this film, they are usually only making jokes about Michael Fassbender’s giant penis. I mean, granted, it is a giant penis, but that’s like the 12th most interesting thing about this film.
Obviously, the mere fact that you see a man’s penis in the film means it isn’t for everyone (it’s rated NC-17), so this isn’t a blanket recommendation. However, this film is the epitome of what it means to depict something without glorifying it. If Shame had captured a wider audience, Evangelicals would have gotten out their signs and bitched about the film degrading our culture and loosening our morals. It would have been yet another example in a long list of signs of stupidity, because Shame isn’t about how great it is to have loads of meaningless sex with anyone we can find. It’s a film about pain, addiction, and devastating brokenness. I’m not saying the film is an indictment against sex, but you’d have an easier time proving that than proving it was a glorification of sex. The sex scenes in this movie are not sexy, they are heartbreaking. The graphic sexuality is used narratively to show the viewer how crippled our protagonist is by his quiet internal suffering.
Carey Mulligan’s turn in her supporting role is wonderful, but Fassbender’s is even better. This is as good as acting gets. Many of you already know about how quickly Fassbender became one of my favorite actors (it took about 30 seconds of his performance in Inglourious Basterds), and this role just cemented that standing all the more. Every character he portrays is complex. He has an uncanny ability (unintentional X-Men joke) to portray quiet vulnerability, with rage and pain beneath the surface, behind the eyes and the stoic facial queues. Even in blockbusters, from Magneto to his performance as David the android (the most redeeming quality of Prometheus), Fassbender’s performances are deep and layered.
In Shame, he gives an achingly beautiful performance as a man who has been too crippled by his past to experience any sort of intimacy, and so he drowns his pain in the most meaningless sexuality he can find. It was one in a wonderful list of films lately that struck me dumb with its emotional power and beauty. It is one of the most emotionally nuanced and engaging films I’ve ever seen.
Oh yeah, and the directing and cinematography! Perfecto! The jogging scene is one of the notably impressive scenes that comes to mind without digging too deeply into my memory. I need to watch the film again, so I won’t be as engaged by the emotional weight and can just revel in the technical beauty. Steve McQueen is one young director who makes me excited about the future of film.
I’ve already shared it before, but here is the trailer again, anyway. I really loved this film!
It’s been a really long time since I’ve done one of my traditional movie genre months. Or, as they came to be called in time: Another Day, Another Movie. I’ve loved the hell out of it every time I’ve done it, and it is time I resurrected the habit. It began with the shorter Halloween Movie Fest, which is a ten to fourteen day event where I watch one or two scary-ish movies a day in preparation for Halloween (side note: I didn’t do a Halloween Movie Fest last year, but I’m bringing it back in 2012 for anyone who wants to join me).
Doing that for the horror(ish) genre was so fun that I decided to try other genres, some for an entire month. I’ve done Westerns, Post-Apocalypse, Time Travel… that might be it. It’s time for another one.
I’ve decided, in the last hour while I sit here procrastinating, that I’m going to watch at least one noir film a day during the month of July.
I’ve decided to focus only on ‘classic noir’ from the 40’s and 50’s to make it easier to choose which films to watch. I’ve made a list of 32 movies, and I plan to watch all of them next month. I decided to only allow myself four that I have already seen, with 28 brand new experiences. I compiled the list using a combination of IMDb’s Noir list and They Shoot Pictures’ Quintessential Noir list. I’m not familiar with all of the titles, so I’m taking it on faith that they all belong in a noir list.
Here is the list, beginning with the four I’ve already seen:
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
The Big Sleep (1946)
Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Double Indemnity (1944)
The Killing (1956)
Touch of Evil (1958)
Les Diaboliques (1955)
Strangers on a Train (1951)
Ace in the Hole (1951)
The Night of the Hunter (1955)
Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
White Heat (1949)
The Lost Weekend (1945)
Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
Out of the Past (1947)
The Big Heat (1953)
The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
Mildred Pierce (1945)
In a Lonely Place (1950)
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
The Killers (1946)
Pickup on South Street (1953)
Deadly is the Female (1950)
Leave Her To Heaven (1945)
High Sierra (1941)
The Naked City (1948)
Scarlet Street (1945)
Night and the City (1950)
The list is in no particular order so far. I normally try to schedule movies, as much as Netflix allows, based on when folks can join me for their favorites/movies they’ve always wanted to see.
Any noir takers? Any you’re just downright pissed I left off the list? Anything else?
It was a long time coming, but I finally got my first platinum trophy on iCheckMovies!
For those who are unfamiliar, iCheckMovies is one of my favorite websites. I love it so much, and I have ever since I joined two years ago this month.
It is an entirely free site that combines my love of checking things off lists with my love of film. The site is full of popular film lists. There are the lists which cover all of film in its history, like the many lists at AFI and IMDb, Time Magazine’s 1000 Greatest Movies Ever Made, Steven Jay Schneider’s 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, Roger Ebert’s Greatest Films list. There are genre specific lists, like the 100 Greatest Sci-Fi films, the top 500 Horror Films, etc. There are even most often several lists per genre, for example, Noir has 250 films chosen by They Shoot Pictures, and an IMDb Noir list. There are also lists that are region specific, to help you brush up on the greatest German films of all time, or the best Korean cinema of the 20th century, or all of Asian cinema.
It’s a film nerd’s dream!
For one thing, it gets me to watch movies I otherwise would never have gotten around to. Maybe there is a film I’ve considered watching “eventually.” Well, I go to iCheckMovies and see that it is on no less than 17 different official lists of one kind or another. Suddenly, I find myself moving it higher on my Netflix queue.
Also, as a child born in the early 80’s, I am a product of video game culture. I love achievements and trophies. Well, iCheckMovies has you covered there, too. The number of films you’ve checked on any one list determines what award you have on your award shelf. You get a bronze trophy for having seen 50% of all movies in a top list, silver for having seen 75% of all movies in a top list, gold for 90% or more, and platinum for having seen every movie on a list.
I currently have 41 awards (1 platinum, 4 gold, 11 silver, and 25 bronze). I have a looooong way to go! I got my first platinum today, on the list of Reddit’s Top 250, after watching The Pianist. For a movie nerd, and a list nerd, it was quietly gratifying.
The site is a really great way to see just how many consensus great films you’ve seen and missed, and to broaden your movie horizons some. I highly recommend it. If you join, connect with me so we can be buddies. My tag is ‘escapedyourworld’.
Again, that’s iCheckMovies.com… tell ’em Scotty sent ya. Or don’t, since that’s not actually possible, and no one affiliated with the site knows who I am.
Until a few moments ago, I’d never heard any rendition of Carly Rae Jepsen’s enormous hit song. I’ve heard of it, but never heard it. However, then the Roots became involved, and the Roots are irresistible.
She’s been hovering at #2 on the charts for a long time now, because Gotye is still in charge. Unless something has happened that I haven’t heard about (very likely), she may never crack #1. Yet, how many time has Gotye gotten to perform in a tiny room with The Legendary Roots Crew? Zero, thus, Carly Rae wins.
I’m really behind in life right now. Every time I start feeling better, and think I’ve turned a corner, I slip back into feeling miserable again. It really sucks, and it is sapping my already dismal productivity. Hopefully I will get all of my Sasquatch posts up before Sasquatch starts again next year.
Sunday was the last really awesome day at Sasquatch. This is probably in part because it was the last day before I started getting really sick, but it was also largely because the lineup was right up our alley.
Gardens and Villa
We kicked things off with Gardens and Villa at the Yeti Stage. An enjoyable Santa Barbara band who drew a pretty big crowd, comparatively to the size of other Yeti crowds we saw over the weekend.
The lead singer performs with a literal quiver of flutes. So, clearly, this band isn’t exactly like anything else. The sound for this show was a little muddy, and for a song or so the entire right bank of speakers stopped working, but it was still a fun start to the day, overall.
After Gardens and Villa, we moved over to the Main Stage for the rest of the day. I know, we weren’t hip enough to spend the whole day listening to the most obscure music we could find all day. We went to Sasquatch because of how many bands performing there are near and dear to our hearts, and I caught as many as I could without compromising the standards I have to help me enjoy a concert as much as possible.
We caught the end of a hip hop act, Chiddy Bang, and then moved up front for the incomparable M. Ward. Neither of us had ever seen Mr. Ward before, and he was near the top of both our lists of acts we were most excited to see. He didn’t disappoint!
One of the primary things I love about M. Ward is that he’s just so fucking cool. Laid back, always wearing sunglasses but somehow without seeming like a dick because of it, with a soft sing-song voice when speaking… he’s just the epitome of cool.
As is the case with his studio albums, I could have listened to him play all day long. He makes what he does appear effortless, even though he’s actually a really great guitarist. Making difficult things seem like their no big deal is pretty much the definition of cool.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again: it often takes conscious effort on my part to keep from heading down to Portland, finding Matt Ward, and following him around until he agrees to by my friend or has me arrested.
If only Zooey had shown up, which would have made things perfect.
The Head and the Heart
This was only my third time seeing The Head and the Heart live. I feel a renewed love for the band after seeing them live again, which is good, since they are Seattle’s ever more popular indie darlings who formed at Ballard’s own Conor Byrne Pub. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how excited I was about the show. I was kind of at the point where I thought maybe I was done with them for a while. I thought, “That may be fun, but I’m probably going to be a little bored with the old material.”
Not so! They wooed me back into love with them with another great set, including a new song in which vocalist Jonathan Russell seems to channel a bit of David Gray. They’re a band that people love to love, which means they are also a band that some sour-pussed contrarians love to hate. I think that even as their star rises they are still delightful. Their energy never wanes, and to be present for milestones in their career, and to watch their reactions to those milestones (especially those of Charity Rose, who I’m pretty sure was crying at the end of the set) is a really fun ride.
I’m looking forward to their sophomore album!
First, I love Beirut. Love! Second, this was a fairly boring live set. Remember when I was writing about The Civil Wars, and how impressed I was that they filled the Main Stage space with energy even though there were just two of them? Well, Beirut was the opposite of that. He had such a sparse band on stage with him, compared to the remarkable degree of instrumentation that we hear on the albums. The music just felt empty and flat.
He needs to figure out how to recreate his sound a bit on stage when he is missing most of the instrumentation that make his trademark sound so unique and enjoyable. Something needs to replace the horns when he only brings one extra trumpet player with him in addition to himself.
**I’ll have to go back eventually and find out where these photos came from. They were just on my desktop from a previous search, but we didn’t take any of them, aside from the last one, which Emily took from her vantage point farther back than me.**
However… after being fairly disappointed with Beirut, Bon Iver proceeded to shut my brain down with awe. His entire set was one long exercise in pure beauty.
I’ve been to so very many concerts in my day, but I have never seen anything remotely resembling Justin Vernon’s current live show. The stage becomes what seems like a pirate ghost ship, with what looks like torn sails hanging from the rafters above the stage, and fog filling the stage to varying degrees throughout the set. With lines of large lightbulbs of varying heights set at three points on the stage, so that the band is actually playing behind lights and not just in front of them, the lights change color and effects repeatedly during the set so that every song has it’s own mood.
One song is even performed lit from the main effects booth out in the center of the crowd, with an effect that made it look like the band was performing lit only through blinds looking out on a futuristic cityscape.
However, more than the impressive light show, Bon Iver’s performance was what was really overwhelming. With eight other band members, Vernon performed a passionate, remarkable set that was literally jaw-dropping. They were just so damned good!
Songs that were once small and intimate became large and somehow even more emotionally charged, and somehow the songs of last year’s masterpiece of an album shone through with all the depth, complexity, and layering that made the production of that album so wonderful.
All the video I could find on YouTube really sucks. Hard. I wish I could take you back in time with me to see this again.
It’s blasphemous to my Roots loving heart, but the Bon Iver show was the most mind-blowing show I saw at Sasquatch… it was close, but Bon Iver ekes it out.
I then proceeded to dance to a dub step show until 1 in the morning, because life is short and I want to try new things. It was really fun, but I still can’t hear the difference between one dub step recording and another… I guess I’m officially an old man.
Friday, to allow for travel to the Gorge, the festivities didn’t kick off until 4:00. On Saturday, with most already camped out, things began at noon. Were I home, that would be early for me, since normally I fall asleep between 4 and 7 in the morning, and then intermittently piece five or six ours of sleep together through the better part of the daytime hours. However, at Sasquatch, this was impossible. I may not have fallen asleep much earlier, but with the hot sun beating down on our tent by early morning, it was an oven by 9:00, making sleep a purely theoretical venture.
Up early in the day, we wasted most of our mornings laying lazily around the campsite or charging our phones near the kitchen. Then, we would drive into town and get some much desired AC and free McDonalds wifi. Even though we were awake, we never actually got our act together early enough to make it in by noon, but normally caught the second or third act of the day as our first show.
Saturday, we finally got organized and motivated to catch the shuttles over to the Gorge a bit after 12. This reminds me, I keep mentioning the shuttles, but haven’t mentioned that said shuttles were awesome decommissioned King County Metro buses. Complete with old ads and PSAs. There were two oldish buses, like this one:
And then two more really old buses, that had most certainly been active through our country’s shameful segregated bus history.
This added an additional bit of character to our daily bus trips.
Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires
We made it in on Saturday in time to catch the beginning of Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires. For those who don’t know Charles Bradley, I didn’t either. Apparently, he is the 64 year old “Screaming Eagle of Soul.” A less spectacular cross between Otis Redding and James Brown. And don’t take my statement he is less spectacular than Otis Redding and James Brown to be an insult, we’re all less spectacular than Otis, that’s just a fact of life.
At 64, Bradley still brings it on stage. Whether crooning about the woman he loves, or taking us to church with a song about America and Jesus [complete with an interlude during which he carries his microphone stand on his shoulder like the cross], Bradley is still every bit the showman.
He even mentioned my hometown during a song. It got exciting when he rolled into the lyric /I went to upstate New York/ I thought, “Hey, upstate New York.” Then he finished the line with, /to a little town they call Poughkeepsie/ After which Emily and I cheered and then needed to explain to our neighbors in the grass why we did so.
Blitzen Trapper was just about exactly what I expected them to be. On stage, just as in their recordings, they’re a good, talented, classic rock throwback band that takes bits from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s and throws it together to make really strong rock music.
I enjoyed their set, and I would write more, but it was already a week ago, and they were immediately overshadowed by what came next.
The Civil Wars
The Civil Wars. Dear Lord, The Civil Wars. Watching them perform, I didn’t sing along, I didn’t dance, I didn’t clap and yell. I was truly and entirely riveted, struck dumb by the remarkable talent I was witnessing.
The hardest thing about a small band [in size] playing the main stage is that the space is so much larger than most. Often, a band isn’t ready. It’s not just about filling the space with band members or noise, although that certainly helps. It’s about filling the space with presence, with energy, which is a lot easier for a band the louder they are. It should have been a remarkably tall order for The Civil Wars. It’s just him and her, and with the exception of one song, the only instrument used is John Paul’s acoustic guitar. At a festival, in the middle of the afternoon, it’s nearly impossible to draw people in and keep them excited without a big production of some sort.
The Civil Wars accomplished the nearly impossible. Just the two of them, with the power of their raw talent and charisma, blew the doors off the main stage armed with nothing but their bittersweet songs of love, life, hope, faith, pain, and disillusionment.
They were spell-binding. The way they play their characters is perfect. She is the innocent, sexy, seductive young woman. He is the rascal, with his tuxedo, his long hair, and the glass of whiskey he brings on stage with him. They are playful and winning, stealing each other’s microphones, joking back and forth. Watching the chemistry between them, it would be easy to assume that the two were together, that she was pregnant with his baby, and not that each is actually married to another.
Each song was stunning. When they performed their hymn “From this Valley,” a song I’d never heard before, I nearly broke down weeping. For me, it was the perfect song in the perfect moment.
We just missed the band the last two times they played Seattle (Ballard no less!), but now that we’ve finally seen them, it was remarkable, and I sure hope they are back in our neck of the woods soon!
This was easily the most uncomfortable concert I’ve ever witnessed. We were up front for Civil Wars, we wanted to stay up front to see Childish Gambino, and so we had no choice but to stick around for Jamey Johnson. As far as scheduling is concerned, this was the only truly massive failure we witnessed on the part of Sasquatch. I don’t know who is into Jamey Johnson, but it most certainly isn’t the people showing up for Civil Wars and Childish Gambino.
Everyone around us for the Jamey Johnson show was there for Childish Gambino, just biding their time. This means they were all in the mood for some energetic emcee action. What’s the furthest thing from energetic emcee action? How about pop-country music… yup, that’ll do it.
Maybe Jamey Johnson has tons of fans all over the country, but they weren’t at Sasquatch, and they certainly aren’t the kids waiting for Childish Gambino. We were surrounded by people having loud conversations that Johnson could most definitely hear from the stage. It was depressing, awkward, and remarkably uncomfortable. I spent the entire time just wanting the whole thing to be over.
Then, in came Mr. Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, to save the day. It was our second time seeing him, and once again he delivered exactly what we’d expect: fun, cocky, underrated emcee work to the delight of a good sized group of passionate fans who, in turn, rapped along to all his words while also shouting out Community references about Troy Barnes, Abed, and Annnie’s Boobs.
The only thing that would have made it better would have been if Alison Brie had actually made an appearance.
After that, we spent the afternoon at the Honda Bigfoot Stage, relaxing in the sunshine, while eating our Beecher’s Mac’n’Cheese on our M’s blanket to the musical stylings of The Helio-Sequence, and then tUne-yArDs. We needed a rest, and fortunately at Sasquatch rests include listening to wonderful bands playing great music, soaking up sunshine (while properly sun-screened of course).
By the end of the tUne-yArDs show, there was a glorious desert sunset to accompany our wait for St. Vincent.
The first casualties
This evening also marked our first two major casualties. I would have loved to see The Shins and Jack White, but it wasn’t meant to be. I could have made it if I was willing to sit at the back and watch a bit of The Shins before hopping over to see St. Vincent, then walked back over and stood at the back for Jack White before rushing back to see The Roots. That’s how most people at Sasquatch seemed to do things. However, that’s just not how I watch a concert, or do anything for that matter. When I do something, I do it deeply and entirely. I immerse myself in it. The whole reason I have wanted for so long to spend all this money and travel out to central Washington for Sasquatch was because I love concerts so much. I love the experience of them, the energy and passion. I have trouble getting into concerts from the back row, as a passive observer. I just don’t think that is how a contemporary rock show is designed to be experienced.
Thus, I made the sacrifice of seeing parts of a bunch of shows in order to be up front for the performances by my very favorite bands. I skipped The Shins so I could be upfront for St. Vincent. I skipped Jack White so I could be three people from the stage for The Roots. Worth it.
I love St. Vincent. Apparently, so do The Civil Wars. Joy Williams has tweeted several times about that fact, and we watched St. Vincent’s show just a few feet away from John Paul White.
Her concert was in no way what I expected. She trades off many of the layers of her music in favor of a high energy show that gets more punk as it goes. By the end she is performing old 80’s punk covers and spastically crowd surfing, gyrating to the point that I was certain she was going to be dropped and get hurt.
I’m not going to lie, I missed much of what I love about her studio recordings, but it was still a really entertaining live set.
After St. Vincent, I spent an hour and half waiting for The Roots. Jack White was the headliner that night, and The Legendary Roots Crew was actually playing one of the weekend’s two late night sets, from 11:30-1:00. This is the reason why the waiting was so long. And wait I did. I’ve wanted to see them live for such a long time, they were the band I was most excited about, and nothing was going to get between me and a great position to stand. There was a little bonus during the waiting, when Captain Kirk came out to check the levels on his own guitar. Oddly, none of the other people waiting for The Roots seemed to have any idea who he was, so I just got to watch him do his thing on my own. Eventually, everyone figured out who he was, which ended sitting time and started the 30 minutes where we all stood waiting for the band.
It was totally, completely, 100% worth it. The Roots aren’t just showmen, they’re concert gods. The Roots are a throwback band live. ?uestlove’s father is Lee Andrews, the bandleader for a doo-wop group called Lee Andrews & the Hearts, and ?uest was in music clubs all his life. He ended up playing drums in his dad’s band as early as seven, and was the permanent drummer by the time he was a teenager. (Watch his episode of Hulu’s A Day in the Life).
Anyway, ?uestlove’s upbringing, combined with his remarkable talent and the fact that he has been performing with at least some form of The Roots for 20 years, makes for as much fun as a concert can be. It was just 90 minutes of unadulterated joy.
How many hip hop groups do you know who feature a 6 minute sousaphone solo in the middle? Oh, that’s right, your hip hop group doesn’t have a tuba player.
The band just has so much fun on stage that it is contagious. Dancing, chasing each other around the drums, improvised conversation between the keyboards and the tuba where each performer keeps trying to throw the other off, and a remarkably fun replacement to the traditional encore that had me laughing, dancing, and screaming. Oh, and Captain Kirk is the most underrated guitar player I’ve ever seen. He’s amazing.
Nothing I can write will articulate how fun this concert was. Also, all the videos I can find just don’t do it justice. All I can say is that from the first full song, “Paul Revere” to honor the late MCA, to the final note of the night, I was exhausted from sheer delight by the time it was over. It was a bucket list entry to see The Roots in concert for the first time, and now it is a major life goal to see them in concert again.
Below is video I shot from the show. Sadly, it’s missing so many of the delights the band had to offer that night, but it was the only time I could keep from celebrating long enough to record an entire song.