Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I hope you'll forgive...

The lack of a Monday edition. I was off work, and, frankly, not really focused. I was trying to get a few things done at home.

The good news is that I moved forward on "Reason." Drum track is set, I finished a basic rhythm guitar track, and then laid down a bassline. I'm pretty happy with it, at this point. I am still tweaking guitar tones, and that's another area where I can get kinda lost in the minutia.

Somewhere, there's a guitar tone that's raunchy and crunchy, but still clear enough to carry over the bass and rhythm. I haven't found it yet, but it's out there. I've been experimenting with stomp boxes, and pretty much put the effects processor behind me. That might make the work harder, especially if I EVER play live again, but there's something about simplicity that's really compelling for me.

It's kinda pathetic, in a way. I continually look at these tracks I'm doing with this misguided idea of, "oh, when I play it live, I can make it work like this." All the while knowing that the chances of me playing this stuff live are somewhere below slim and none.

Oh, well....

This cycle of tracks is definitely skewing to a harder, more metal sound. Of course, that makes it that much more difficult to not let things get muddy, especially with my recording equipment. I want a big sound, but I don't want a big swath of sludge.

All that said, things are sounding pretty good right now.

Rented GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra and Inglorious Basterds last night. Managed to get through both of them, even with a side trip to the Stage Left office (that turned out to be unneeded, but that's another story.) Here's the story of the day...I found the Joes vastly more entertaining than Tarantino's latest...indulgence.

GI Joe is by no means a great movie, oh, far from it. It's kinda awful. However, it has, to my ears, the exact amount of cheese and genuine morality that a movie based on a toy line and cartoon ought to have. Put that against Transformers 2, which was cheesy, and also morally repellent. I'll take tin-eared dialogue and bad jokes over a robotic stepin fetchit routine any day. Plus, the film...kinda gloriously...seemed to know it was junk.

It took me back to seeing Pearl Harbor, and just cringing at the awfulness. Then Alec Baldwin marched on screen as General Doolittle, and (as my buddy KenG would say) with the aroma of Aqua-Velva almost literally pouring from the screen, you realized he got it. Baldwin seemed to just understand he was in the middle of a huge piece of trash, and by playing Doolittle with that sideways glance that let you know that he knew, instead of the cloying earnestness of the lead cast, the film became entertaining.

I felt everyone in GI Joe was in on the joke, without playing camp and tearing the guts out of the stakes. It doesn't make it a better movie, and I can't really 'defend" it, per se. I can only say that I chuckled out loud at things like the undersea military base and the fast attack subs that "flew" like jets. It's preposterous, and just runs with it.

I had a good time. No more, no less. For a movie called GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra, you can't expect much more.

Inglorious Basterds. I'm sure to get hate mail for this, but I cannot for the life of me fathom why this got a Best Screenplay nomination. It's plodding, too long, and, in it's own way just as cheesy and ham-handed as GI Joe. The parts are good enough, I suppose. The story of Shosanna and her movie theatre is truly compelling, yet we keep spinning back to Aldo the Apache and the Basterds, who, for being the title characters, are ultimate just empty husks.

I mean, seriously, if you've seen it...can you tell me ANYTHING about any of the Basterds other than Aldo and Donny "The Bear Jew" Donowitz? OK, I'll grant you Hugo Stiglitz, but only because he gets a "mini-movie" to explain himself. B.J. Novak's Utivich? Who is he? I shouldn't even mention Samm Levine's Hirschberg, who doesn't even register as a presence in the film.

What do we know about any of these men? That they're Jewish and like to kill Nazis. Those that get the most "character" are those that do this in extremely gruesome or brutal ways, such as Donowitz beating them to death with baseball bats, or are played by Brad Pitt.

There are exceptions, of course, Christoph Waltz is truly amazing as Hanz Landa, which is a character Tarantino manages to actually give something to play. Also Melanie Laurent as the aforementioned Shosanna Dreyfuss is the absolute bright spot of the film, her work with Jacky Ido is just gorgeous and worthy of a better movie around it.

I'm sure there's folks out there sharpening their knives and thinking I'm an asshole for pointing out fault with Quentin Tarantino's work (I know you people are out there), but, here's the deal...Tarantino came on the scene and promised something new and exciting. Yeah, it was a little overly-ironic and arms-length for me, but you felt like he was taking these genres he loves and pushing them forward with a new energy and vitality.

Well, I don't feel that vitality anymore. I feel a guy grinding out re-hashes of other, better films, and dropping in wordy, irony-laced passages that fly in the face of the very genres he's supposedly honoring. I mean look at Death Proof, his portion of the Grindhouse release...it's just plain awful.

I can see what he's trying to do with Inglorious Basterds, he gives it away, in a more-than-obvious way, with the first "chapter." He's trying to make a Sergio Leone film set in WWII. That's a fine enough goal, and one that could produce an amazing film. However, Tarantino isn't Leone. Every character in a Leone film becomes interesting to me, either with the writing, or with how Leone cast and shot them.

Tarantino only manages two, really.

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