Moon--Let me chime in and say that this film is wonderful. It strikes me as somewhat miraculous that it got made at all. It's so quiet and so patient and so taut and so mature. Sam Rockwell is fabulous; when that guy's good, he's superlative. It's also one of the most audaciously anti-capitalist things I've seen in recent memory, literalizing the plight of how a person can be wholly exploited by a system that depends on the service s/he can provide yet doesn't reciprocate in any meaningful way, until the person is spent and discarded. Don't sleep on this one, guys.
Reservoir Dogs--OK, ready to feel old? Do you realize that this film came out in 1992? A full 17 years ago? What the hell! Anyway, when's the last time you've watched this, kittens? It holds up sooo well. I've decided that in anticipation of the release of Inglourious Basterds I'm going to work my way through Tarantino's directorial output in chronological order, so last weekend I settled in for a total dude night of pizza and beer and bloodshed. But for all the violence that often clouds people's impressions and interpretations of this film, I was shocked to realize that this movie is basically a love letter to restraint, to patience. Patience and language. After the jewel heist goes wrong, everything that happens happens while they're waiting for the gang boss to show up and tell them what to do. And, of course, Tim Roth's undercover cop character is secretly waiting for the boss to show up so he can bust him. That's it. That's the whole movie! The sheer perversity of it tickles my brain. And, that's why the ear-slicing scene is actually so crucial. It's upping the stakes beyond the beyond, asking how long do you wait? how long can you stand it while everything is going to hell around you? how much of a professional can you possibly be in the most extreme circumstances? And, of course, other than that grizzliness, what else fills the time while you're waiting? Language. Talking, idle chatter, storytelling, jokes, debates, random bits of remembered pop culture detritus, ribaldry, reminiscences--in other words, all the stuff that Tarantino is (rightly) most remembered and renowned for as a writer/auteur. It's delicious to listen to, but also, at bottom, it's really kind of delightfully old-fashioned. That he was able to fool everybody into thinking he's this rock-'em, sock-'em bad boy when he really just wants to put people in a room and get them talking is the ultimate credit to his talent.
Micachu and the Shapes, Live at Schubas--I was really thrilled to see how good Micachu was live. Her songs' charms rely way less on Matthew Herbert's production than, say, Pitchfork would have you believe. The music is a bit cracked, to be sure, but to paraphrase that great Leonard Cohen line, it's only so the light can get through. Mica Levi herself is completely adorable, a born performer and bandleader, a fact made all the more apparent because it doesn't feel like she's trying at all. Her drummer and keyboard player support her ably, taking every left turn in these songs with ultimate grace and ease. Local viola virtuoso Anni Rossi opened. After seeing string players like Owen Pallett and Andrew Bird process their instruments through an arsenal of looping pedals, it's nice to hear someone just play for a change. She's a bit like a less affected Regina Spektor--quirky without wearing the quirk like a badge of honor. Plus, she's got a lovely, lilty voice. Look for more good things to come from her. Pictures from the show here.
Baby Teeth, Hustle Beach--It's the moment we've been waiting for, kittens: Hustle Beach has finally been unleashed on the world. Yay! I couldn't be happier for the guys. I've only had a chance to listen to it once through so far, but most of the songs are familiar from their recent live sets, various Daytrotter sessions, and Abraham's 52 Teeth song blog. It all sounds great. I'm glad to see many of the reviews that have been posted so far are dealing so directly with the humor in their sound and songs, as that's one of the things I cherish most about them and feel truly sets them apart. Although, the somewhat tortured response that "Big Schools" has received as an album opener is a bit curious. I know he's not the coolest reference point these days, but this kind of epic narrative of mute, unacknowledged suburban discontent and myopia seems straight out of Ben Folds's playbook (in a good way--think "Army" or even "You to Thank"). Anyway, check their MySpace page for upcoming tour dates; I would strongly advise you to check out their live show if they're going to be anywhere in your vicinity (New Yorkers especially: August 7 at Cake Shop).