Title Comment Comment Date Comment Link
Favorite Movies

The best contemporary filmmaker is, in my opinion, Tsai Ming-liang; he released a string of outstanding films in the 2000's. What Time is it There? and Goodbye, Dragon Inn are the highest flights of cinema. They're very slow moving films, though, with little narrative propulsion. The best living filmmaker is easily Abbas Kiarostami, and I've very happy to see Taste of Cherry at 11; an absolute masterpiece, my favourite film that you list, edging out Pickpocket and Bicycle Thieves. His other 90's films--Where is the Friends Home?, The Wind Will Carry Us, Through the Olive Trees, Life and Nothing More, etc--are essential viewings. I'm excited to see this year's Cannes winner: Winter Sleep. The only Ceylan film I've seen, Climates, is a favourite.

12/19/2014 View
Film Log

Perhaps low expectations will salvage the experience, but I don't know. I went in expecting nothing and still felt I wasted my time. I sincerely hope you are not dragged to it!

12/19/2014 View
Favorite Literature

Three paragraphs long, and this is perhaps the best thing written on Shakespeare's life.

12/18/2014 View
Film Log

Yeah, he's just so damn intelligent. Some really perceptive remarks about Eisenstein and Russian literature as well, even though I'm not at all familiar with the majority of the material he cites. Although I think the interviewer pushed the Romantic question a bit too much, the answers are so thoughtful; I love where he discusses individualism and humility.

12/16/2014 View
My Favorite Albums (8.25+/10)

In regards to your "Under Consideration" list, although Scaruffi's rock picks generally don't mean much to me I think Astral Weeks, Double Nickels on the Dime (though it could have, perhaps, benefited from some cutting), Blonde on Blonde and Daydream Nation are all very great albums, and wouldn't be surprised to see any one of them ascend soon enough. Your jazz picks are brilliant (though there are too few of them!); A Love Supreme may well be, as far as I'm concerned, the greatest work of art of the last century. Judging by your current picks, and the kind of listening trajectory they signify, I assume you have heard, or intend to hear, the likes of Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, Thelonious Monk, etc.

I would love to see some canonized jazz artists who, by virtue of being absent from Scaruffi's lists, are mostly ignored by Listology, break into these lists. Louis Armstrong (his hot 5's and 7's work especially, he tragically falls off around 1930), Bix Beiderbecke, Billie Holiday (Ken Burns puts together a great compilation), Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Art Tatum (the Pablo recordings!), Jelly Roll Morton, Duke Ellington, etc etc. A very different kind of aesthetic compared to the jazz that's found on this list, but astonishing nonetheless.

12/15/2014 View
Favorite Music

I'd say, with some certainty, that the Beatles are one of my favourite rock groups of all time, but they don't mean as much to me as they once did (I hardly listen to the genre these days in any case). My favourite Beatles albums are Abbey Road and A Hard Day's Night... the latter album admittedly has a nostalgic pull, but it's filled with perfect songs. I probably like the title track least (overexposure, perhaps) but love everything that comes after: "Things We Said Today", "I'll Cry Instead", "You Can't Do That", "I Should Have Known Better", etc. Abbey Road is governed by the opposite kind of artistic impulses: more musically ambitious, simultaneously dissatisfied and adherent to normative structures (the closing suite closes with a nod to the great Robert Johnson), etc. Great stuff. I'll head on over to your list now!

12/15/2014 View
Film Log

A wonderful, revealing, personal, lengthy interview with Andrei Tarkovsky is the best film related text I've come across in ages.

12/14/2014 View
Please Recommend Music, Films or Paintings to Me

I don't at all mean this pejoratively, but is perhaps concentration the issue? I yield to no one my love for hip-hop but the kind of attention and awareness it demands is very different from, say, Coltrane, Bix Beiderbecke or Mozart. An example: I picked up Maurice Gendron's rendition of Bach's cello suites the other day, and had it playing in the background. It was very pleasant, but hardly a moving experience. It wasn't until I sat down--undistracted--and really listened, doing my best to stay with every note, and not let my mind wander that it began to open up. Listening to instrumental music--which is ultimately abstract--can be difficult, but rewarding work, and one has to practice, especially in the early stages. Listen, to say, the first movement of Beethoven's Op. 111 every day for a couple of weeks. That's what B.H. Haggin recommends in his wonderful book Music for the Man Who Enjoys Hamlet (available free on Archive.org, highly recommended). The idea isn't to force yourself to enjoy what you hear, but to give the music a chance to unfold properly, to allow your ears to acclimatize to sounds that are so unlike what we encounter in daily life. The point is not to ascertain what the music is "about" or what it "means"; nor is it to be overawed or have a profound spiritual awakening. Simply staying with the sounds--undistracted, moment to moment--is enough.

I'd assume the same applies to Scaruffi picks like Royal Trux, Red Crayola, etc, but I don't listen to (or particularly like) a number of those works at all.

12/14/2014 View
Favorite Music

I've never been sold on White Light / White Heat: "The Gift" and "Lady Godiva" strike me as being almost novelty-like, the title track and "I Heard Her Call My Name" are inoffensive but don't move me in any particular way, "Here She Comes Now" is fine, if slight, and "Sister Ray" is a great track, but I'm rarely compelled to listen to it. I think that brings me closer to my issue with the album: replay value. It's just not there for me.

I do, however, like both Loaded and The Velvet Underground a lot, especially the latter. I find them to be very different: Loaded is a heavy dose of rock, while the self-titled is more melodic, fragile and low-key, if that makes much sense. Although neither mean as much to me as & Nico I do think they're very good albums. I also remember liking VU, but I've hardly heard it and can't say much. Given you rank WL/WH as your second favourite album it's safe to say this doesn't quite square with your perspective!

12/10/2014 View
Film Log

I don't know! This is why I don't even update my lists anymore :). Trying to rank this log is particularly difficult, regardless of its current brevity, because there's not a bad film in the lot.In fact, I'd wager that a number of the movies--Tarkovsky, Bresson, Kiarostami, Ritwik--are among the best films ever made. India was particularly astonishing because it was my first viewing, and I was immediately convinced it's a masterpiece. To rank, I would have to go by gut, and just sitting here typing this my gut is being inconsistent..!

That's not very helpful: if I were to make recommendations--and it seems you've seen the majority of these films, so I won't bother with those--they would be Lancelot, The Wind Will Carry Us and The Cloud Capped Star. I'm hesitant about the Kiarostami suggestion, because I remember you didn't much care for Taste of Cherry, but it's very different, and may be a better movie. His genius is, for me, incontestable, no matter what Ebert said. Really thoughtful, intelligent filmmaking.

You may like the latter one best: I haven't seen any other Ritwik films but Star is unbelievable. Rosenbaum has a great write-up about the distinctness of his cinematic style (I was happy to see he rightly emphasizes the strength and importance of the soundtrack): "[Ritwik's] methods of composing soundtracks for his films as well as his ways of interrelating his sounds and images are among the things I would point to first in order to describe his uniqueness as a filmmaker. One might conclude, in other words, that he reinvented the cinema for his own purposes both conceptually, in terms of his overall working methods, and practically, by rethinking the nature of certain shots he has already filmed—–specifically, by starting and/or stopping certain kinds of sounds at unexpected moments, sometimes creating highly unorthodox ruptures in mood and tone."

A diet of ambrosia isn't bad!...

12/4/2014 View
Film Log

Ha! I just restructured: it's now organized so that #1 is the most recently viewed film, and then descends in order. No ranking.

12/3/2014 View
Please Recommend Music, Films or Paintings to Me

I'm ashamed to say how long it took me to figure out you were typing Salomon...

I'll be back on this page Dec 2024, see you then!

12/2/2014 View
Greatest Comic Book Artists

Thank-you! Being a monoglot makes me seriously deficient when it comes to really digging into as many comics as I'd like to, but I'll definitely give this a look.

My own recommendation is Yoshiharu Tsuge, who is--for me--the greatest cartoonist of all time, bar none (English translations in the link). "Screw Style" and especially Munou no Hito are two of the best comics I've read. Not to overwhelm you with suggestions, but this site also has other Tsuge comics, my favourite being "Oba's Elecroplate Factory" and the adorable "Mushroom Hunting"

12/1/2014 View
Greatest Comic Book Artists

Breccia!!!

How wonderful to see his name. I've only seen samples of his work: incredible. If only he were being translated into English...

11/30/2014 View
Please Recommend Music, Films or Paintings to Me

I completely understand, while I really like Giovani's brand of Gothicism he is not necessarily the most moving of painters. I agree with everything you say about St Anthony Tempted. That said, I love The Blessed the most: its freakish and sinister claustrophobic space, the ominous, black doorway, the bizarre way the person emerges out of the wall (the whiteness of his arms blending into the ground)... The rigid geometry of the two buildings serves as a perfect counterpoint to the scene's action. The background may be conventional, but its fiery intensity adds to the strangeness of the scene, and echoes Ranieri's halo. Also the absurd cloud-like formation in the place of his legs gives him an unsettling sense of motion, which I find peculiar given that his other compositions are often so stiff and static. Even those running within the painting are decidedly inelastic, which throws into relief Ranieri's movement, giving the work an alluring tension.

I'm glad returning to La Meninas was profitable; Velasquez must have had one of those visitations of the muse...

11/29/2014 View