104 posts categorized "Music"

December 29, 2023

MAESTRO

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel. Punk heart still beating.

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ColeSmithey.comIt's rare for an actor/director/screenwriter to become so enthrall with his or her creation that they get their hand stuck in the cookie jar of their own movie.

Such is the sad case for Bradley Cooper, whose deep impersonation of Leonard Bernstein obliterates everything around it, including Carey Mulligan's exquisite portrayal of Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein.

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Bradley Cooper's insistence on giving his historic character the stuffed-up voice of man with a constant cold, wears out the viewer early on.

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A lack of narrative focus exposes Bernstein's outrageous narcissism. The result leaves the viewer to wonder why we should give two cents about Leonard Bernstein as anything other than an abuser of everyone he came into contact with.

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What a monster of a human being.

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Perhaps there's room for a gay #MeToo movement.

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Here is a film that needed a serious rewrite, much tighter editing, and direction by a filmmaker other than Bradley Cooper.

At least "Maestro" is an easy movie to forget.

Rated R. 129 mins.

1 Star

Cozy Cole

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October 18, 2023

THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH — SHOCKTOBER!

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ColeSmithey.com"The Man Who Fell to Earth" is a brilliantly stylized science fiction satire about an alien who comes to our big blue ball with a methodic plan to deliver water back to his home planet, Anthea.

Director Nicolas Roeg expands on the success he enjoyed in his experimental film "Performance," in which he turned a British rock star into an imposing film actor overnight. Where Mick Jagger played an ironic character not unlike himself in "Performance," David Bowie transforms into his alien persona with a preternatural instinct that is purely seductive.

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Bowie's humanoid alien recasts himself as Thomas Jerome Newton, an orange-haired genius with a stack of original technology patents that will enrich him with the billions of dollars he needs to execute his water transportation plan. After touching down in New Mexico Newton seeks out patent attorney Oliver V. Farnsworth (Buck Henry) in Manhattan to handle his newly minted business World Enterprises Corporation. Newton returns to New Mexico where he plans to construct a spacecraft to complete his mission.

Bowie

Mary-Lou (Candy Clark), a helpful chambermaid at Newton's hotel, romantically attaches herself to the alien. The couple move in together and slip into a comfortable pattern of American married life. She introduces him to religion, addiction, and sex as he becomes obsessed with television. He tells her, “The strange thing about television is that it doesn’t tell you everything. It shows you everything about life for nothing, but the true mysteries remain. Perhaps it’s in the nature of television. Just waves in space.”

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Rip Torn plays Nathan Bryce with his usual maniacal glee. The character is a sex-addicted college science professor whom Newton hires to create an energy system for his spacecraft. Nicolas Roeg's intercutting of analogous sex scenes with Bryce's different female partners establishes the era's attitudes. There's playful violence in the sex scenes that is jarring for their honesty and subtext.

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Yet Bryce loses his proclivity for young women in the face of his enormous salary and the challenging nature of his work for Newton. But he also becomes excessively curious about his strange but trusting employer. Bryce's tendency toward exploitation will cost the alien his anonymity to government officials who co-opt his riches.

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Based on Walter Tevis's 1963 novel, "The Man Who Fell to Earth" is a prescient story about the clash between consumerism and intimacy, and between capitalism and the ecology. Newton's alien planet represents a fading utopia that is as much a state of mind as it is an actual place. Newton's flagging sense of responsibility reflects the systematic culture of betrayal that consumes him body and soul.

Rated R. 139 mins.

5 Stars“ColeSmithey.com“ SF SHOCKTOBER!Cozy Cole

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October 17, 2023

PERFORMANCE — SHOCKTOBER!

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

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Performance A collaboration between British directors Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg, "Performance" is a stunning experimental film.

It pioneered a slew of modern cinematic techniques adopted by such master filmmakers as Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Quentin Tarantino, and Gaspar Noé. Virtuosity of camera movement on display is spellbinding. Cammell's and Roeg's transposition of William S. Burroughs' literary cut-up technique to cinema is a key ingredient in the storytelling.

Jagger

Also on display is a self-reflexive ironic approach that puts class distinctions and prejudices under a sociopolitical microscope. The camera lens becomes a tool for providing a telescoping micro-macro vantage point for the audience.

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James Fox plays Chas, a well-dressed enforcer for East London mob boss Harry Flowers (Johnny Shannon). A sociopath by design, Chas considers himself an "artist." The egotistical criminal "performer" is ruthless in dealing with his targets regardless of their sphere of influence. An important attorney finds out the hard way about Chas's proclivity for punishment when the sadistic emissary takes a container of acid to the man's Rolls Royce before torturing his chauffeur. He forcibly shaves the man's head with a straight razor.

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Chas oversteps his boundaries with a childhood rival named Maddocks who in turn attempts a retribution hit that doesn't go as planned. The newly minted public-enemy-number-one goes into hiding in the basement rental apartment of a retired rock star named Turner (well played by Mick Jagger in his first film acting performance).

Jagger
Turner lives a comfortable bohemian existence with his bi-sexual girlfriends Pherber (Anita Pallenberg) and Lucy (Michele Breton). At peace with having lost his "demon" muse, Turner is curious about his right wing tenant who claims to be a juggler by profession. For all of his skills, Chas isn't a good liar. While preparing to leave England for America, Chas enters into a series of confrontational games with Turner. He also samples from the sensual fruits of Turner's groupie houseguests.

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"Performance" (1970) is a watershed of voyeuristic cinema. An undercurrent of BDSM roils through organic sex scenes rumored to have integrated actual copulation. The film's complex soundscape adds yet another level of editorial information. Its extraordinary musical score is years ahead of its time. Stand-alone musical set pieces later informed the production design for the music video industry.

Performance

Rated R. 105 mins.

5 Stars“ColeSmithey.com“ SF SHOCKTOBER!Cozy Cole

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