Sunday, 28 April 2013

The Velvet Underground: A Retrospective

Is the Velvet Underground the best rock band of all time? Possibly the most underrated. Are they the most iconic rock band ever? Surely the coolest. It's hard to speak in generalizations when it comes to VU because theres never been an official consensus on them: commercially ignored on release (the only success they received was from a small underground following), they were far too experimental to ever compete with The Stones or The Doors, instead they broke up after only a few years and waited for a slowly-building following to hoist them up into the halls of rock and roll greatness, so much so that a band that received no attention when they were around has now received a huge backlash from music fans claiming them to be an overrated band, only remaining famous as a source of hipster cred because of their unflinching ability to ignore the direction of the mainstream.

So where do I stand on such matters. Are they a rock and roll great or simply a band who has long outstayed their welcome for all the wrong reasons? Well all I have to do is look at my official rankings of my favorite musicians of all time (which, because of my current slowness at updating this site, so far remains only in my mind) to see I rate them second to only Nirvana, a band that Kurt Cobain admitted was heavily influenced by the Velvets (or whatever their nickname is).

So, in what I hope will become a common feature on this site, I will be going through the entire Velvet Underground back cataloge and giving my opinion, supposedly helpful to both newcomers to the band, and fans desperately hoping for validation on their musical tastes. 

The Velvet Underground & Nico 

The most famous album to ever sell only 30,000 copies, the Underground's collaboration with German singer Nico might not have been the success the band hoped for at the time, but it has became a beacon of light to all indie artists since, showing a band doing their own thing and nothing else. Not to mention the now iconic cover art, drawn by the bands manager, and minimalist genius (or pseudo-artist hack, depending where you stand) Andy Warhol.

The album sounds gritty and naturalistic; a million miles away from the studio manipulation of today. The songs (even on the remastered versions of the album) sound very... unclean. Like some of the songs were rough cuts of songs which should have been improved later. Yet that's where the charm of the album comes from. Even on one of the records highlights, the heavy (yet lyrically simplistic) "Run Run Run" the rough-sounding recording just makes you feel like your sitting in a sleazy bar, listening to the VU playing songs that perfectly fit the mood.

Truthfully,  I don't really love any of the songs here. It's an album thats great more for keeping up the same tone throughout, not for producing countless hits. The only bit of true greatness here is "Heroin" a 7 minute song from Lou Reed that distills what its like to be high on the drug, both through Reed's lyrics ("and I feel just like Jesus' son") and through the guitar riffs, subtly changing from fast to slow. Yet this isn't to say I dislike the songs here; all the tracks are competent and none sound terrible, just unadventurous. But I do give the band brownie points for keeping up the same mood and style for the whole album: nothing irks me more than an album that feels like lots of different unrelated recordings stitched together.

The other highlights of the album are "I'm Waiting for The Man" Reed's tale of waiting for his dealer to arrive, "Venus in Mars" a song that I can only describe as scary, mainly from it's unnerving sound and patronizing lyrics ("shiny, shiny"), "There She Goes Again" a decent bluesy song, and the aforementioned "Run Run Run" a perfect example of the band making a memorable rock track without disregarding their style.

The other tracks are simply there. Not exactly filler as they all try to do their own thing, and also because many have became fan favorites; according to Spotify the bands most listened to track is the albums opening track "Sunday Morning" a slow mournful song that mimics that of what you might play to make a child fall asleep. "Black Angel's Death Song" is the weirdest song on the album. It's hard to describe it's sound, but I imagine it would go perfectly at the end of a fantasy film at the hero's funeral... but that might just be me. I wouldn't put this track on for fun, but for what it is, it's an accomplished piece of experimentation.

If there's one person that does let the album down it's Nico. I've heard sources that have claimed her voice to be "beautiful", one of the last words I would ever use. "All Tomorrow's Parties" "European Son" and "Femme Fatale" while liked by many fans, did absolutely nothing for me, they just simply showed me a band trying too hard to be artistic, and flowing too heavily into the realm of minimalism. While "I'll be your Mirror" just illustrates what a rough sounding singer Nico was.

All in all it's a good place to start with the Velvet Underground, despite not being as perfect as it's reputation makes it out to be. It perfectly distils what The Velvet Underground was all about, and is worth a listen just for the brilliance of Heroin. 6/10

White Light/White Heat

This might be frequently sighted as the bands best album by fans, yet it remains the bands least accessibly work. To put it one way, if there's a singular reason why VU is thought of as an experimental band, this is it. At only 6 tracks this is the bands shortest album, yet all of what you get is great stuff, or at-least worth a listen to hear the album's avant-garde nature. 

"White Light/White Heat" opens the album, a fast, aggressive track that many say had a big influence on the punk rock movement, which was still quite a few years away at the time of recording. Yet I disagree, it's the easiest listen here, and what I'd put forward for the closest the Velvet's would ever come to making a Beatles-esque track. 

The two most accessible tracks are "Here She Comes Now", a floaty piece of simplistic lyricism that stands as the calmest (and best) thing on the album, and "Lady Godiva's Operation" a song about a failed lobotomy. It shows Reed's deadpan humor in full-swing, with the track's name taken from the name of a ancient noblewoman from British Legend. 

Then comes the two tracks I'm guessing people will have the most trouble with. "Sister Ray" is a 17 minute rock track that starts out pretty good, before descending into agonizing repetition long before the tracks over. It's hard to decipher the lyrics, but from what I can scavenge from Reed's horrifically confusing explanation I believe the song is about the point some police arrive to break up a drag-queen orgy. On the other hand I've heard many say that "The Gift" is a one time listen, but I'd say it's one of the best tracks the band ever played. It's 8 minutes long, and has John Cale reading out a short story that comes out of the left speaker, while an aggressive rock instrumental comes out of the right. There's something about this track which just draws you in. A hypnotic quality to Cale's dry, dead-pan delivery. And that same guitar riff, building and building, as if showing the lead characters growing paranoia, then his growing excitement, and then just silence... 

The only song here I have a problem with is "I Heard Her Call My Name". The guitars on the track were distorted, and the song uses guitar feedback heavily throughout. But it just sounded dull to me, nothing special about the weird distortion of the song. A read somewhere that the band were unhappy with the song as well, and that they preferred the live version. 

White Light/White Heat comes off as the high point of the bands more experimental days. The album shows how enjoyable and original an avant-garde album can be, and both "Her She Comes Now" and "The Gift" are essentials for rock fans. 9/10 

The Velvet Underground 
After the departure of John Cale (replaced by Dough Yule) the band's sound changed dramatically. The aggressive sound of the guitars on their previous albums was gone. Replaced by a calmer, less experimental sound, that had the band move into a more country music direction.

The 10 tracks here come across as a mixed bag. It has some of their best stuff and their worst. It's got nothing as experimental as White Light, yet apart from a few tracks there is still very little interest from the band in cracking into the mainstream. 

"What Goes On" has to be one of the coolest sounding rock songs ever written, and "Beginning To See The Light" is the highpoint of their trek into folk music. While "Pale Blue Eyes", despite being a 5 minute song that never speeds up or changes, has remained one of the bands most memorable tracks, if a bit un-lively. 

Those where the tracks that I instantly picked up on, as for the rest of the album I had a much harder time getting into the sound of this one than the others, but over time the album has grown on me greatly, if not into their best album then at-least into their most varied. They no longer sound like underground artists with something to prove, by this point they were matured musicians who could put out an album of competent material and be pleased with it. 

The albums opening track "Candie Says" instantly sets up the calm, soothing mood that will follow. It's a song Reed wrote about 60s cross'dresser Candy Darling, a bit of a tortured soul that worked with Andy Warhol. Reeds lyric's perfectly convey the sadness and confusion of a character who (especially in the 60s) people can react very hostile to. "Jesus" is another more slow, moody song, that at first felt a bit too minimalistic empty, but over time this simplistic song has grew on me through, and the music fits well when you think of what a primal nature it is to some people to cry out to Jesus and be troubled by religion. 

Three tracks that did nothing for me were ones that fell very heavily into the relaxing feel of the album, yet seemed to drain the energy out of the whole thing; "Some Kinda Love" "That's the Story of My Life" and "I'm Set Free" are all bland songs, both offering nothing personal in terms of lyrics, and all feeling unneeded due to the musical offerings of both tracks being a lot better on the albums other tracks. 

And now we come to the most polarizing track The Velvet Underground ever made. Personally, I wouldn't listen to this track for fun, yet it's more than a wasted attempt at art for the sake of art. All four band members appear in"The Murder Mystery", during the verses Reed and Morrison recite poetry simultaneously, while in the chorus' Yule and Tucker sing different pieces at the same time. It's a mad song to be sure. The middle of the song has a freaky piano beat come in, and all of the voices coming at you at once starts to take it's tole on you by the end of the song. But believe me it's more than just a quick-throwaway pieces of weirdness, it's a hypnotizing track, and one that I've actually found it a lot easier to return to than I originally thought it would be. 

The album ends on "After Hours". It's the only song of theirs that features Maureen Tucker, the bands drummer, as the singer. After reading it Reed decided he couldn't sing it himself because it was "too beautiful". Make of that what you will, but I see it as Reed basically saying he himself was tarnished too much with Heroine and the New York underworld to ever put his voice on such a simple, sweet little tune. It's not an insanely over-the-top rock orchestra to send off the album, just a short track, with as the man described it himself "beautiful" lyrics, and a catchy rhythm. 

I found it the hardest to write about this album. From it's name to it's obscure black and white front cover, the Velvet Underground's third album feels like it lacks the personality that runs through each of their other albums. The band started to go in a lot of directions after making this one, so in a way this stands as the high point of what could be seen as the bands mission at the time to create very experimental, non-mainstream music and deliver it in a way people could enjoy. Then again, it features fewer standout tracks as on the other albums, and is probably the worst place to start for newbies. 8/10

I suppose people could say (and probably did say) that for their fourth and final studio album that The Velvet's sold out. That they sold their artistic integrity and chucked it away, along with their guitar feedback, distorted instruments and risqué lyrics. Yet the people who say that are idiots, as this is a showcase for a band that had grew and changed hugely in the 3 years since their first release. 

And not only is this the most accessible album on this list, I'd also argue it's the best. The album features the two most well know songs by the band; one of my all time favorite tracks in "Rock & Roll" a joyous pieces of rock celebration, that distills the power of music not only in it's lyrics but in the guitar solo. A song that should be-able to boost anyone up, even in gloomy times. "Sweet Jane" was also a decent success for the band. The music is good here, but it's really Reed's singing that boosts this song up into greatness. Most of the lines don't even rhyme, it's just that great conversational style of singing that only some types of voices can handle. 

Both of these songs actually received quite a bit of radio airplay when they were released, and pointed to possible future success for the band if most of the members hadn't already left the band by the time Loaded released, most moving onto solo music careers. 

"Whole Loves The Sun" sounds a bit similar to the Beatles track "Here Come's the Sun" but with a bit of Underground sarcasm thrown in ("Who cares about the rain? Who cares if it makes plants grow"). It opens the album and sets the surprisingly happy tone that is felt throughout. "Cool it Down" is another highlight, a cool-ly relaxed song that further shows the bands mainstream aspirations with its simple beat and... charming lyrics ("She's got the power, to love me by the hour, give me L-O-V-E). 

"New Age" feels like the closest thing the albums comes to-to evoking the sound of the bands previous albums with its slow mournful pace. It involves a man at a diner asking for an autograph from a once-famous movie star. "I Found a Reason" also has a more slower, melancholic sound to it, yet the lyrics, as the title suggests, are anything but. The cliche romanticism in this song is the sort of thing that would have been chucked off of previous albums because of it's yucky, mainstream interiors yet here it fits in perfectly. 

The closest thing this album has to filler is "Train Around the bend" and "Lonesome Cowboy Bill", both have a heavy blues/country music influence, and they sadly wear this high and proud, despite clearly being the bands weakest area of work. Both are listenable though. 

The album, and the band itself, finishes on a high note. "Oh Sweet Nothing" is 7 minutes of total rock'n'roll bliss, a track that truly deserves it's length, and ends what was a short yet brilliant journey by a small unknown indie band to becoming maybe not a huge commercial success, but a band that continue to inspire people to this day. 

If The Velvet Underground ever made a masterpiece then this is it, it's a close to perfect album that shows the variety of talents on display in the band, and also shows that even when not in their avant-garde comfort zone they were still masters of what they did. An essential piece of music. 10/10

And the rest
If you couldn't tell by now, I like The Velvet Underground a lot. I think the fact they were around for such a short time is a bug tragedy for rock music. They explored such a wide range of genres and experimented in ways bands today wouldn't even think about doing. 

And not just the band, but Lou Reed in particular, was a true original. I would happily rate him my favorite songwriter. He wrote about subjects like sex and drugs, but unlike most artists which sing about these things to big their own rockstar image up, Reed added a realness and personality to these subjects. His songs were brilliant in their simplicity and honesty, and not in their rebellion or supposed artwork like so many famous songwriters write about. I'd also recommend checking out Reeds solo work, I wouldn't say it's as great as VU but its a lot more prolific. 

I'm also not reviewing any of the further releases of the band. "Squeeze" their fifth official studio album was, for anyone who doesn't know, simply a Doug Yule solo album. The label wanted another album from the band, and as all of the other members had already moved on to other projects it was left to Yule to create another work under the bands name. It's not exactly a terrible album, just nothing like the other releases, and unimportant when dissecting The Velvet's career. 

I'm also not reviewing the live albums or the 80s release "V.U." which was released when the band was starting to pick up a following. It's a collection of unreleased material from the band, with some of it from their infamous "lost fourth album". It's a decent collection, with "Stephanie Says" "Foggy Nation" and "I'm Sticking with You" being highlights, but I wouldn't say that it stands up to their main releases.

I must say, that while always loving The Velvet Underground, by writing this piece and listening to all of their work back-to-back, I've discovered a new appreciation for the band. They're not always the easiest band to love, probably the reason they never received the success of their peers (something which still confuses me) but if you get stuck into their music then you will find a wealth of brilliant music, from some of the greatest musicians to ever play together. 

 Top 10 Songs 

10) I'm Sticking With You 

9) Cool it Down 

8) Heroin 

7) Oh Sweet Nothing 

6) What Goes On 

5) The Gift 

4) Stephanie Says 

3) Sweet Jane 

2) Here She Comes Now 

1) Rock & Roll 

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Learning to Read with Thomas Pynchon

Do you hate the kids these days? Do you often complain of them not being anything like the kids of your day? Do you blame a lot of this on the illiterate culture of today's world? All of it too focused on videogames and action films, throwing aside what was once man's go-to for complex storytelling and personal expression. If you do then 1) your an idiot, and 2) a few years ago I would have been one of your main targets.

That was until I decided to try out this whole "booking reading" fad, and discovered it wasn't half bad. I admit, I'm one hell of a slow reader, and since beginning my long trek into the land of the written word I admit I have bought way more books than a kid revising for his exams could ever hope to get through (at least for now) but thats part of the classiness of being a book reader, like being in some sort of expensive yacht club, isn't it?

Yet your probably thinking that I started off with something easy. Something that has a lot of pictures and is written in what Wikipedia hilariously calls "simple english". Yet I decided to jump straight into the deep end with "Inherent Vice", a 60s-set psychedelic detective story, in the style of the old Chandler-esqe noir novels.

I can't remember exactly how I find out about this book, but I can take a stab at it being from the announcement Paul Thomas Anderson would be making a film about it. Which to me, was basically a confirmation that this was a good book. Add to that-that every review used the term "Tarantino-esque" to describe the dialogue and everything I could find out at the time about Thomas Pynchon (which was very little, to be fair) made him out to be some sort of mystical figure, only seen by a small select group of people, and who writes ambitious and challenging books on a level of his own.

Which is probably the reason I went for this book in particular: because fans seem to have branded this as "Pynchon-Lite", which makes quite worried for when I get around to reading his earlier output. Yet despite being "Lite" it was a revelation for me in the way it was written. Pynchon writes in such as free way, his sentences are so long and ramble from one subject to the next, yet they never feel boring, they flow so perfectly.

I've read some really great stuff since then (most notably Blood Meridian and The Shining) from some of the most critically-acclaimed authors, and it's made me really notice something about great writing: that good writing is planned out, well structured, re-written and filled with good ideas and follows all of the correct marks which people are taught about to get good writing, but great writing goes past that, it breaks the rules (like McCarthy's complete lack of grammar, and Pynchon's long winding sentences), great writing is when the writer knows the craft so well they become confident enough to bend the rules around their own style, and Inherent Vice is a perfect example of Pynchon doing just that.

Like the two previous posts on this site, this post was just a introduction to the book based section of the site. I'll get around to writing more about Pynchon and Inherent Vice later, as I'm currently reading my way through Philip K. Dick's Ubik, and I'm planning on doing a book vs film article on The Shining. So as always, thanks for checking out the site, and I hope you find your way back here soon.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Bioshock Infinite and My Return to the Land of Gaming

Good god it's been a long time since I really jumped head first into a game. The last game I did finish was a christmas present: Halo 4, and I hardly jumped into that one, more like I wandered through it cautiously, wandering if I was really getting out all it had to offer me.

You see, a few years ago I would have been proud to hold up the title of a "gaming nerd" above my head, I would have been the first to write a detailed argument against Roger Ebert or anyone else to show why I thought videogames were art, and I would have been anticipating every new release of the year with bated breath. Yet something has happened to me over the last few years, something that has prevented me from giving hardly any loving thought to the medium of videogames in a long time, never mind playing the damn things.

But as I flew up into the floating city of Columbia at the beginning of the newest Bioshock game I finally felt invigorated by a game again. I'd say it's the first game since Heavy Rain that has given me that feeling of wonder and excitement that all great games should aim to give you.

I want to note that this isn't a post about Bioshock Infinite (I'll get around to that once I've finished the game) this is simply a way to introduce my game-themed part of the blog, and have a bit of a rant on the current state of the videogame industry and why I'm only now just getting back into games (which I must say has been perfectly timed, considering I'm going to make writing about them here a common occurrence).

I added this image in yesterday and I seriously can't remember
which Modern Warfare game I got it from. 
Look at that screenshot above. That could be from any of the three Modern warfare games, and lets face it, it's not exactly a million miles away from the Battlefield or Medal of Honor games. Don't worry I'm not going to go through this well known modern gaming rant, if you want to read it then go on Google and you'll be spoiled for choice. What I will say though, is that the video game industry has clearly run itself into a rut lately. The dollar sign has taken over the industry, yet unlike in film were indies can sometimes stand up proudly against their big budget counterparts, there is a huge divide between indie games and blockbuster, and there unfortunately doesn't seem to be any middle ground right now. 

It seems to me the real 'golden era" for gaming, if there has been one, was in the late 90s; the playstation one era. At that point gaming wasn't profitable enough an industry for companies to have to impose on the developers to get a profit, but gaming was by that point technologically advanced enough to give us some great experiences.

Since then the studios have taken over (damn this is starting to sound like a political rally now) the number of brilliant games being produced has decreased greatly. I won't argue if you want to say that the newest Call of Duty games aren't works of art. Why? because theres no real person with a vision pushing these games along, instead there seems to be a checklist that developers have been following to make sure they can get the most profit. There might be a lot of things wrong with the modern game industry but it's the real lack of ambitious developers that creates the real problem. Look at Bioshock, Irrational Studios is a group that have already proved themselves with lots of other great titles such as System Shock, Freedom Force, and the first Bioshock, which is probably why the men with the money have been so happy to let them go off an do their own thing. There are other developers out there who do this as well (Rockstar and Quantic Dream, to name but a few) but there is not nearly enough. 

I feel like I'm starting to rant on, so I'll try and wrap this up. I do feel like there is a big lack of gaming blogs on the internet right now, and while this isn't an entirely gaming focused blog, I do hope to try and fill a void that I've thought there has been there for a while.  

Theres so many great critics for music and movies that have became notable for doing a lot more than just saying if a work is good or not (speaking of which, R.I.P. to the wonderful Roger Ebert who passed away last week), that really know how to see a film, and that bring an extra understanding of the art from their writing. I've seen very few pieces like this about videogames, and while I don't claim to be an expert, I do think I have something to say about videogames that isn't being said right now. 

If you haven't noticed yet I haven't exactly got a room in my house filled with notes and rambling scribblings that plan out every post I'm going to write in detail, this is as Gonzo a blog as they come. I haven't updated as much as I'd like to have been lately but I'll be focusing more on the blog soon (especially as summer is coming up) but I'' have some articles up soon, and some developer retrospectives too. 

Friday, 5 April 2013

Kubrick and Tarantino or: Why I love movies

My last post, the one about Nirvana, was in my original intentions supposed to be a simple post that showed why I held Nirvana up as my favorite band, yet it spiraled out of control as I wrote it, turning into a sort-of "history of nirvana" type post, and lord knows the internet has enough of them (and still every music site jumps at the chance to write a new one whenever even the smallest bit of Nirvana news slips through). But on the brighter side it's given me the idea of writing an intro for the four main categories on this site by writing a post about my favorite artists in each medium; and when it comes to film - a medium I hope one day to work in - I can think of no two more inspiring figures for me personally than Stanley Kubrick and Quentin Tarantino. I'll try not to turn this post into a biography of these two artists, and instead I'll use it to write about how both of them show what I think is great about film.

For anyone who doesn't know (and shame on you if you don't) Stanley Kubrick is regarded by many as one of the greatest directors ever, and even if you don't like his movies his influence on other films is undeniable. Starting out as a photographer, before making his directorial debut in the 50s, Kubrick went on to make a number classics including the hugely important "2001: A Space Odyssey" which redefined special effects when it first came out, and the controversial "A Clockwork Orange", not to mention my personal favorite Kubrick film in "The Shining".

Kubrick is so highly thought of for a number of reasons. He did a perfect balancing act between commercial filmmaking and arty experiments (Could any other filmmaker get stars as big as Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman into such an un-commercial film as "Eyes Wide Shut") and because deep down he was a very brave director, he made the sort of movies most other filmmakers simply didn't have the guts to make: the reason why many of his films, including now-certified classics such as The Shining and 2001, were released to terrible reviews (and even a few Razzie nominations).

Yet for all the technical wizardry people praise him for, Kubrick's main strength was simplicity. He had a great skill with the camera, probably the reason why you won't find any weird swooping shots or odd angles in his films, he shot in very logical ways, but when he needed to he could create some truly wonderful camera work. Just think about the bathroom scene in The Shining wherein Jack Nicholson talks to Grady the ghost (hallucination?) and Kubrick breaks the 180 rule of cinematography by switching back and forth from behind and in front of the two men, who are arched so that there is aways one facing the camera at any given time. Why do I choose to praise this shot over the many out there that are said to be more dazzling or "technically impressive" whatever that means; well really its because thats what I find interesting in film, yes a good story and great visuals are important, as is the latest statistical achievement that a filmmaker has reached, yet its really the things that go on behind the scenes that interest me, the way that the film is put together, each little bit becoming the seamless whole you see on the screen. If you too are interested in films in this way then I'd argue there is no better filmmaker in this respect than Kubrick.

Tarantino on the other hand couldn't be a more different filmmaker. I'll admit that I had one of those moments, ones that some film fans talk about as the moment when they suddenly realized that film was like their new religion, and mine came when I watched "Pulp Fiction". Since then I've been through Tarantino's whole cataloge (except Django Unchained, which I'll be getting the day it comes out on DVD). His first film "Resevoir Dogs" is what instantly made him synonymous with film violence, and his second film Pulp Fiction (a gunner for my favorite film ever) turned him into a celebrity, and turned the release of each of his subsequent features into a big "event".

His CV does have a big 6 year gap in the middle of it (although thats still nothing on Kubrick) but since coming back he's changed into a more comical, over the top filmmaker. It's still up to debate which side of Tarantino is better, but despite the factor that so many fans feel the need to choose one over the other, I'm happy to rank films like "Kill Bill" and "Inglorious Basterds" up there with his earlier works.

Tarantino's direction has clearly been influenced a lot by French New Wave filmmakers. He hasn't adopted the quick cutting style of most modern filmmakers, instead his direction comes across as being very specific and confident, making him share a lot of stylistic choices with another new wave-influenced filmmaker: Wes Anderson (another one of my favorite filmmakers). I'd say Jean-Luc Godard has had the most influence on Tarantino (Tarantino even named his production Company "A Band Apart" after one of Godards films) and if you want to see some of the early roots of where Tarantino's style has grew from, I'd recommend you go and watch some of Godards early 60s films such as Breathless and Alphaville.

Yet while Tarantino's direction is good - it's at the least very noticeable, filled with directional trademarks and references to other films, and featuring a trope of actors he loves to re-cast - it's his writing that is his strong-point. As you should probably know by now if your even remotely into film, his dialogue has became famous (and endlessly quoted) It has very conversational style, theres no obvious exposition or dialogue with the sole intention to get us to the next part in the film, his dialogue allows us to get to know the characters and their personalities, and allows us to find out the details of the story without being hit over the head with obvious explanation. It's the thing that has set him apart from other modern filmmakers, and is why he's one of my favorites.

... and me 

Please don't see that heading as some sort of arrogance on my part, trying to compare myself with the masters when I'm really not, what I am saying though is that I want to work in the film industry and while I hope that everytime I watch a movie or read a bit of criticism I learn something new, it's really the two above that got me into films in the first place, and it's them who I'd hope to try and emulate, as stupid a goal as some people might think it is.

I remember a few years ago when I first got into film, and I'm sure I'm not the first to get the feeling like I had just been dropped into the ocean with no guide on where to go, I simply didn't know where to begin. But two of my favorite films at that point (and still today) were Inglorious Basterds and The Shining, so I went with my instincts and bought the whole box-sets of these two directors. So after a summer holiday (I think it was 2010 when my ambition to being a filmmaker begun) filled with films by these two, I felt like I knew a thing or two about movies. No, I don't pretend to know everything, or even a small fraction of everything for that matter, but these two filmmakers definitely gave me a map and told me exactly which direction to head in.

Yet both of these directors are polar opposites in some cases. Kubrick was called a recluse by many people (although trying to not let the media intrude on your life shouldn't be called being a "recluse") while Tarantino has always been one to blab his mouth about his own movies (and everybody else's it seems). As well as this I'm sure many would praise Kubrick for his originality, yes he did take ideas and build on the filmmaking of those who came before him, but overall he came up with things that no-one else had thought of and all of his films are experiences that are unique to Kubrick and no-one else. On the other hand Tarantino's films could be described as pastiches, films that throw together an orgy of different films and ideas from a variety of filmmakers and styles. To me this makes him no less as good a filmmaker, and when you look at Tarantino and Kubrick as opposite sides on a huge spectrum it makes me happy to see just how far one can go in any direction they want when it comes to art, as long as they feel passionate about it.

Lets just pretend this is a picture of Jules shooting
HAL, for convenience 
So what now? Well I can't see myself becoming a regular reviewer of new releases, surely one of the pluses of being a blogger is the ability to review what I want, so expect some reviews and some looks back on my favorite films, that is if I can think of something insightful to say about them. I'll also be doing so director retrospectives and some listings (although I hope these will amount to more than generic favorites movies lists) so if you are already reading the blog at this early stage, thanks for reading and I hope you stay up to date with the blog and join in the discussion.