If you are not me as you are reading this page, then I say "How the hell did you get here?"

Oct 19, 2009

The Action - I'll Keep Holding On ----- Rating? Dyno-mite!!

I just got finished listening to a very old song that I was not familiar with, and yet I was.
It is a cover of a Marvelettes song called I'll Keep Holding On as performed by The Action. The appeal for me is the vocal, the period sound and arrangement, a kindred spirit of early Who and the drumming which aspires towards a higher similar style like Keith Moon of The Who or Bobby Elliott of the Hollies. I especially like how the insistance of the drums is emphasized in the final minute of the song.

Taste and enjoy the original by The Marvelettes

Here is the cover by The Action

I'm definitely hooked. I keep playing it and I hope I won't grow tired of it. If I had bought this as a kid back in 1966, my 45 would be hot from being played over and over again.

It was (according to wikipedia ) their highest charting single at #47.

The Action existed at the same time as some other mid-60's Mod bands who were left behind in the wake of the success enjoyed by The Who. Despite having been signed by George Martin, they did not reach the success they may have deserved.

It hits a nice positive groove that is really comfortable; I feel that I can recognize a little bit of the same mood in this uptempo song being applied in a slightly slower fashion in the treatment given by David Bowie and Tony Visconti to their cover version of Neil Young's I've Been Waiting For You on Heathen -his wonderful effort from 2002 . If this particular song from Heathen is not the one that reflects the connection I make, it may be the mood of Heathen (or possibly Reality the follow-up cd) that I link between Bowie and The Action cover. Why wouldn't he have that sense of feeling? He was recording and releasing singles between 1964 and 1966 trying to find his groove before the success to come in the 70's.

Here is David Bowie's Neil Young cover from Heathen

The production of this song is very cinematic and powerful - I love it.

It's nice to "rediscover" something you missed the first time around...

Oct 5, 2009

My brief backstory...

RRA - My backstory

The only thing I can claim to truly be an expert about would be the history of my life. I would never claim to be an expert on anything else. I am a big fan of popular culture. In some respects my attraction to music and film and comedy and visual content has allowed me to inhabit a world which has offered me shelter and a place to exist happily. I feel like I have always learned from what I have observed and been entertained. The singers and the musicians, or the films and their filmmakers, or the actors and the writers have spoken to me in such a way that I have formed an emotional bonding with their art.

The web is allowing everyone to express themselves and my point of view and my insights about what I am seeing and trying to understand when I see a film are certainly valid to me.

Oct 2, 2009

The Untouchables and De Palma and production design use of numbering in the train station sequence

Think of an especially tense, suspenseful scene or scene sequence from a movie....

How do you think the scene or scene sequence's length contributed to the suspense of the scene or scene sequence?" A few weeks ago, those questions were offered up to the students in an online writing class for consideration as a topic for a brief discussion. I selected the train station sequence in Brian De Palma's 1987 film The Untouchables. I started thinking about that scene and my love of De Palma's films and Alfred Hitchcock and even though I could only share a few sentences about that topic in the discussion area, I kept writing things down for myself. I have been a big De Palma fan ever since I watched Blow Out when it was released back in 1981. The movie was so engaging that my life was changed forever by the profound effect that it had upon me - it was like a religious experience.

Last week on September 7th, 2009, the Cinema Viewfinder blog page began a De Palma blog-a-thon that will conclude on Sept 16th. I submitted an overly long piece a day or so ago and I hope that they might choose to add some of my observations to the celebration. Like a child waiting to be embraced, or in my seeking that feeling of internal happiness that occurs when another person smiles back at you, I decided that I wouldn't -or couldn't-wait any longer.
I also realized that because I did not have a blog, I could only comment on other submissions. So back on Monday night, I started this blog so I can share my thoughts.

No matter how imperfect or juvenile the style, no matter how fawning I may inadvertently appear to be, regardless of the potential unpleasantness of the sickeningly sweet taste of my words to a reader who might consider it to be a puff piece, I'm going to paddle out into the water with my mind, an alphabet, and my heart and start riding the tides....


Part One
A quick look at the train station shootout sequence in Brian De Palma’s film The Untouchables

The production team -

Directed by Brian De Palma
Produced by Art Linson
Written by David Mamet
Original Music by Ennio Morricone
Cinematography by Stephen H. Burum
Film Editing by Jerry Greenberg and Bill Pankow
Production Design - Patricia Von Brandenstein

What follows is an attempt to provide some personal observations about De Palma’s use of numbers and visual storytelling in The Untouchables. My favorite De Palma films tend to be the ones that he has written and directed. I enjoy his work in general. I have always felt that De Palma has been mistreated, mischaracterized and discarded in print or online without being recognized for using the gifts and talents that he employs in his films.

We all know the line about opinions being like @$$holes because everybody has one.
My agenda, if there is one, is to offer a sincere appreciation of his communication skills as a filmmaker. An artist's work should speak for itself. No matter how gifted the creator may be, if the audience does not bring intelligence and an open mind to the encounter with the art, or a willingness to think about and try to understand what they are seeing or hearing, negativity ensues. If the audience is a co-creator in the creative dialog with the artist and they shirk the responsibility of thoughtful analysis, then meaning becomes meaningless and we all lose. I believe De Palma is a terrific artist who continues to be deserving of a much greater recognition and appreciation within his lifetime by film lovers throughout the world.

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