IT'S A LIVING… BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #12.91
J Church/Honey Bear July `04
A minute of silence can last a long time… a whole eternity

 

SOCIETY IS A CARNIVOROUS FLOWER

I am finally looking at the record with my very own eyes. Our sixth full-length record is finally here and it sounds much better than I remember. I was a little worried that I was gonna hate if after all this time. But not listening to it for the past year has made it seem really fresh and new. While this record may be our only foray into Pro Tools and analog may be the way to go for a band like us, it's an interesting new sonic area for us. It sounds different. It's an interesting change of pace.

The songs are faster than I remember (for the most part) and I do think that these songs are by far the best part of that recording session that also reaped the five songs from last years split with Storm the Tower. I'm left feeling like there's a world of possibility for the next record. It will be something different again, I hope. But still marching on in the general J Church direction.

 

JAPANESE CD

I think the title of the CD on Snuffy Smiles will be Seishun Zankoku Monogatari. It's the original title of the Nagisa Oshima film that is known in the states as Cruel Story of Youth. It's one of my favorite films of all time and he's one of my all time favorite directors. With the songs a mixture of new material and covers, it seems oddly appropriate. Still, that is subject to change.

 

LINKS

I thought the new Spider Man movie was okay. I used to love that comic as a kid. I like Sam Raimi. I think I like this even better. Check it out, it's cool. My friend Bobby from Vulcan Video and Waterloo sent it my way.

Our pal Sonja in New York (though on her way to Boston) sent this. It's strangely satisfying. But you need to do it with the sound on.

 

MILESTONES

STEVE LACY (1934 - 2004)
If you are at all familiar with avant-garde or free jazz, and I mean the real stuff from the `50s, `60s and `70s, you'll know the name Steve Lacy. Inspired by Sidney Bechet, he was one of the most fluid and inspired soprano sax players of all time.

Like many players of that generation, he seems to have had some sort of great epiphany in the mid `50s. In one year, he went from playing Dixieland to complete free composition. In the subsequent years he worked with Cecil Taylor and was equally known for some adventurous solo performances.

He did some great recordings with Walter Zuber Armstrong and Don Cherry and Roswell Rudd. But I think my favorite record is a solo concert on Emanem recorded live at Avignon in 1972. For many, this was really late in his career. But his solo, unaccompanied playing is bold and forceful. Each piece is a tribute to a different influence ranging from Gil Evans to Roswell Rudd. More interesting are the non-musical influences he chooses like Kafka and sociologist Elias Canetti.

It makes sense, as another thing I loved about Lacy was his need to combine ideas and formats culminating musical accompaniments to Melville, Burroughs and Beckett.

Lacy died in Boston of cancer.

 

IN THE J CHURCH VIEWING ROOM

DREAMERS, THE (directed by Bernardo Bertolucci)

The first time I saw this film, I really felt like it was made for me. You can probably understand why. First of all, Paris, May 1968, you know what goes down. Second, three people brought together by their love of film in the `60s. I was at the edge of my seat slack jawed. It's the kind of movie I wish everyone could appreciate and made me desperate to find someone to talk to that could understand this movie the same way I did.

The story follows Michael Pitt though your identifying with him as a main character comes and goes. He is a young student studying for the year in Paris in 1968. He meets two fairly affluent twins, Theo and Isabelle, whose poet father and British mother are going away for a while. They meet at Cinematheque Francaise, which was the most important place at the time for film lovers. It's where Truffaut, Chabrol and Godard and others would come to discuss film. It was the essentially the birthplace of Cahiers Du Cinema. The first time we see Michael there, they are showing Sock Corridor and we get to see some of the key moments of one of Sam Fuller's greatest works.

With their parents away, they invite Michael to move in with them. They are intrigued by his intellect and his encyclopedic knowledge of film. From there they live a life half in and half out of film constantly quoting and referring to films such as Breathless, Freaks, Blonde Venus and one of my all time favorites Mouchette while the director encourages them by switching from the three characters to the actual film footage seamlessly. In one amazing sequence, the trio reenacts the classic scene of Anna Karina and friends racing through the Louvre in Band of Outsiders. The three are determined to break the films record of nine minutes and 45 seconds. Bertolucci switches back and forth between the original Godard film and his recreation to dizzying effect. For fans of the film, it's titillating and decadent far beyond any of the sex the film (as well as director) is known for.

Sex is a big part of the film as the twins try to be aloof, but are as ultimately affected as Michael. During one of their many film quizzes, Michael is drawn into having sex with Isabelle. Only when they're done does he realize that for all her freeness and sophistication, she was a virgin. It is one of the few moments when she is completely emotional and not playing a part as she cries in his arms.

The twins themselves are trapped in what can best be described a Platonic incest. This is where Bertolucci starts mining in familiar areas. His exploration of sexuality and un-discussed areas of possibility have been a theme in most of his twenty or so films. I first remember being fascinated by Luna when I was a kid. I had been in love Jill Clayburgh for some, probably Oedipal reason. In that 1979 film, she has an affair with her teen son. While moody and erotic, the film was dealing with such a taboo subject; it seemed like know one knew how to describe it other than surreal. It really wasn't. It was very real only dealing with an area of sexuality in a mostly objective manner.

The backdrop of the film is Paris in 1968. I've probably written too much about this already. The student over-population in Nanterre mixed with their isolation outside of Paris mixed with the boredom of being a student while the world was erupting lead to massive political upheaval. By May, the students and workers were together having brought the entire country to a standstill. It was the closest thing to revolution in Europe since the Spanish Revolution. The three characters in this film don't represent what was really happening in the streets and that is probably a good thing because a lot of the film's success is its hands off attitude towards politics. Mathew is smug in his bourgeois ideas of non-violence and his fear of collectivization. Theo is completely dogmatic in his ill-informed Mao-ism ignorant to the fact that he is from the bourgeois and has totally alienated himself from the street battles happening daily. Isabelle lives for her brother and is ultimately un-phased by the world outside of their apartment.

Bertolucci, for me anyway, is sort of hit or miss. It's fascinating to me that a man that can make The Conformist and Last Tango In Paris could also make Besieged. It's hard to separate analysis and my deeper feelings about this movie. It's a love letter to May '68 and it's beautiful.
(www.the-dreamers.com)

FLOWER OF EVIL (directed by Claude Chabrol)

Incest that isn't incest is also a theme in Chabrol's latest La Fleur Du Mal. A brother and a sister, who are engaged in a physical relationship, are siblings due to a marriage and not blood. Again, guilt is so far removed that even their parents had always hoped they would become a couple.

The film starts with the brother returning from a four-year stint in the states. He is picked up by his father who seems to be an affable and simple guy. His stepmother is a local politician who comes across as grossly ambitious pushing her family to the side with the characters vaguely implying at some infidelity with her running mate. His sister, it seems, is attracted to him while he rejects her.

But all this is half-truth as slowly unravels in this light mystery about upper middle class decadence and what they think is communication. There is the mystery in the foreground, in public discussion, about the family's relationship to Nazi collaborators in the past. There is a secondary mystery out of the public eye that becomes the most important about the father, his own motives, and how they grow closer and closer to the family.

Chabrol's influence from Baudelaire, well as a fan of both, I don't really get it. I see this movie, like some of Chabrol's other critiques of the petit-bourgeois, more of an alternate reality that I'm not privy to. It's socialism of the privileged, and it's intriguingly perverse. The incest is safe while alluring. The murder is secondary and unresolved by the films end. The film closes with credits running during a party while a corpse waits unacknowledged. What will become of the characters ends up being unimportant.

In many ways, this is Chabrol at his most sophisticated. The need to move between audience-aimed actions is replaced by built-up realism. The dialog is smart and the uneven story progression seems especially real. He's sacrificed his scathing wit to allow for the characters to organically develop at the limitations of their own wisdom.

Part of the original nouvelle vogue and as important historically as Truffaut and Godard, this is just one part of a larger body of work matching that of Eric Rohmer and Stephen Frears.
(www.mk2.com/fleur/site.html)

 

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