Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Marxist Movies Reviews 10: Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982)

Marxist Movie Reviews attempts to look at modern and classic films from the perspective of what they say about society and social conflict.

The Plot: A group of friends from a small Texas town reunite to mark the anniversary of their James Dean fan club, where they experience revelations and long-hidden secrets about each other

The Best Part(s): Strong performances by the cast, including Cher, Karen Black, and Kathy Bates

One of my favorite recent quotes from a movie or TV show is from The Sopranos, when Tony advises one of his associates that “‘Remember when’ is the lowest form of conversation.” That bit of advice speaks to the toxicity of nostalgia, even as it dominates American thought in pretty much every area of life. Political ideologies and million-dollar ad campaigns are built on the longing people have for some mythical past when everything was better.

This 1982 film, directed by Robert Altman and based on a stage play of the same name, shows how damaging and damning it can be to stay stuck in the past. The entire film is shot in one location, the interior of a decaying five-and-dime in a Texas town that’s been passed by in every sense possible. The woman who runs the place and the people who come back to it are all living in the past in some way, except for one of the group who undergoes a substantial transformation that triggers much of the conflict.

The major theme I got from watching this story is that moving on is hard to do sometimes and scary most of the time, but the only thing worse is standing still. While the mise-en-scène is a little too static, the story and cast performances make this a very watchable movie.

My Rating: 7/10 (“Really Liked It”)

Art Link: Josh Sinn

The city at night is always a great atmosphere to capture images. This photo by Josh Sinn makes me want to take a walk at midnight.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Marxist Movies Reviews 09: The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973)

Marxist Movie Reviews attempts to look at modern and classic films from the perspective of what they say about society and social conflict.

The Plot: A small-time veteran criminal (Robert Mitchum) navigates his way through the world of organized crime in Boston, looking for a way to avoid an upcoming prison sentence and make enough money to get out of his situation

The Best Part(s): Fantastic performances by Mitchum as the title character and Peter Boyle as one of Coyle’s associates

As a gritty, unsentimental portrait of life as a foot soldier in organized crime, this movie has a kind of dramatic realism that would be repeated by films such as Goodfellas and Donnie Brasco. This film, directed by Peter Boyle, was released as a counterpoint to The Godfather, a film that presented mob life as the kind of Shakespearean epic the public perhaps prefers to see goes on with the Mafia and Mafia-like organizations. The social reality of being part of such an organization (the violence, the constant hustling, the imminent threat of prison or death) is a subject that lends itself to much more rewarding viewing, in the right film maker’s hands.

A message from this film might be that for all the social rituals and rules groups of people make for themselves, ultimately, when push comes to shove, it’s every man for himself. It’s a sentiment one would not find in typical mainstream political rhetoric but has found a home in the collected thoughts of Ayn Rand and various Libertarians who try to dress up such stark thinking as somehow virtuous. Are we, at the end of the day, just another species of wild animal fighting each other for survival? Or do we just choose to act that way and accept the consequences because it’s easier than the alternative?

My Rating: 8//10 (“Really Liked It”)

Art Link: Jeremy Booth

"Cool," "vintage," "mod," "art deco." I really like how Jeremy Booth uses a few colors and a lot of shapes to create something like this.

Jeremy Booth

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Million Year Trip (Vol. 78): The Sweetest Part of Life

Here’s the set list that I played on CHIRP Radio on Sunday, January 15th...
  • Coldplay - Viva La Vida (Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends)
  • Siouxsie & The Banshees – Passenger (Through the Looking Glass)
  • Makeout Videotape - Slush Puppy Love (Heat Wave!)
  • Azymuth - Bavcava Em Marte (Fênix)
  • Common - Home [feat. Bilal] (Black America Again)
  • Sleepwalk – Headtrip (Shimmer)
  • Daedelus - Slowercase D (Bespoke)
  • Jeanette Dimech & Pic Nic - Oi Tu Voz (Callate Nina)
  • PJ Harvey – Dress (Dry)
  • Lala Lala - Lala Lala Song (Sleepyhead)
  • Jeff Rosenstock - ... While You're Alive (WORRY)
  • The Pharcyde - Passin' Me By (Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde)
  • Everything But the Girl - Take Me (The Language of Life)
  • The Keithe Lowrie Duet - Snow Queen (International Anthem Vol. 8: The Private Press)
  • Swans - No Words / No Thoughts (My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky)
  • Apollo 440 - Lost in Space [Theme] (Gettin' High On Your Own Supply)
  • Cindytalk - Filthy Sun in Diminished Light (The Labyrinth of the Straight Line)
  • Indigo Spirit - Slow and Easy (Indigo Spirit)
  • Yung - Uncombed Hair (A Youthful Dream)
  • Kweku Collins - Vanilla Skies [featuring Taylor Bennett] (Nat Love)
  • The Seeds - Try To Understand (The Seeds)
  • Uranium Club - That Clown's Got a Gun (All of Them Naturals)
  • Vices – Lucky (American Consciousness)
  • Peach Fuzz - With Gin (Peach Fuzz)
  • Zun Zun Egui - The Sweetest Part of Life (Shackles Gift)
  • The Clash - Car Jamming (Combat Rock)
  • NAO – Trophy (For All We Know)
  • Daniel Bachman - The Flower Tree (Daniel Bachman)
I’ll be back on the air with more music on Sunday, January 22nd from 2:00pm to 4:00pm Central Time on CHIRP Radio!

Art Link: Kristina Lechner

Common objects become other common objects that have nothing to do with the first common objects under the skilled eye of Kristina Lechner. It's very cool how she sees these things hiding in plan sight.

Kristina Lechner