Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Ned's Random Secular Musings

This is where I collect all of my Kulturblog-esque observations that don't really fit in with my usual posts. Here are my recommendations for movies, music, and television.


Match Point

The first thing you'll hear about this movie is that it is a Woody Allen picture. Personally, I love Woody, but I know he turns some people off. This is not your typical Woody Allen movie. For starters, he's not in it, it's not a comedy, and the plot doesn't involve an ugly old man hooking up with an improbably young and attractive young woman. This is a complete departure from his recent work and you'd never guess in a million years that he wrote it.

Did he write all the British dialogue? There is only one American character, and this movie is full of British slang. How good is this movie? It's so good that not even Scarlett Johansson can ruin it. See this movie.


Death Cab for Cutie, "Plans"

When I was younger, I used to worry that eventually I'd stop liking new music. My parents never seemed to like anything recorded after they had graduated from high school and I guess I thought that was normal.

Fortunately, this hasn't happened to me (yet). Some of my favorite bands have come out in the last couple years, like Bloc Party, The Bravery, Franz Ferdinand, The Killers, and The Postal Service. I thought Death Cab's previous album, "Transatlanticism," was just okay, but this new one is great. I love-love-love this album, especially "Soul Meets Body." It's so good that it will soon get way overexposed. I heard it at a Starbucks the other day, so you've been warned. Enjoy this album before it shows up in a Volkswagen commercial.


The Alternative, VH1 Classic. Shown Wed., Thurs., Sun., 11 am and 11 pm Eastern.

Do you remember when MTV used to play music videos? It wasn't all that great. They played the same videos over and over again, usually something terrible like "Naughty Naughty" by Danger Danger or "Funky Cold Medina." However, there were always two hours a week when they played great, new music, during the alternative music show "120 Minutes." There used to be a time when getting a video shown just once on 120 Minutes could make a no-name band. Most famously, when the members of Garbage were looking for a lead singer, they saw Shirley Manson on 120 Minutes and recruited her.

MTV eventually moved the show to MTV2, where I watched it for a few years (when I actually got MTV2). They finally killed it off in favor of Wild Boyz re-runs. Isn't that how life works? Well, 120 Minutes may be dead, but into the breach steps "The Alternative" on VH1 Classic. It's only an hour long, but it's on three times a week. Does anyone actually get VH1 Classic channel? Yes, it's one of those sixty channels in the hundreds range on digital cable that no one ever watches. Well, you should watch this show.

I tivo the show so I can fast-forward through the videos that I don't like. They skew mostly eighties and nineties alternative, which is perfect for my musical taste. Many of the videos from the early eighties are very amusing but nearly unwatchable. That is okay, because the music is great. I've already ordered two cds because of this show. I saw a Nick Cave video ("Do You Love Me?") I hadn't seen since I was 16 and had forgotten how much I liked. Also, though I am a huge Depeche Mode fan, I had never heard early DM song "Get the Balance Right."

To give you a better idea of the type of music, here is a list of the videos shown on the most recent episode (I've bolded the songs I like):

The Church, "Reptile"
Liz Phair, "Supernova"
Sonic Youth, "100%"
P.J. Harvey, "Down by the Water"
They Might Be Giants, "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)"
Dramarama, "Last Cigarette"
Bob Mould, "See a Little Light"
Live, "I Alone"
My Bloody Valentine, "Only Shallow"
The Cure, "Fascination Street"
Depeche Mode, "Shake the Disease"
Gang of Four, "Cadillac"
Utah Saints, "Something Good"
Fishbone, "Everyday Sunshine"

Sure, there are a couple of duds in there (sorry, Susan M!), but who knew they were still playing Cure and Sonic Youth videos on actual television? Not me.


Tom said...

Funny, I really like Transatlanticism and I think Plans is just OK. The songs have gotten flatter, I think.

That is an awesome list of songs for the VH1 show. I'm jealous. I want my VH1 Classic!

Ann said...

I was looking for some streaming audio on the 'net the other day and actually heard "Naughty Naughty." I thought it was the ick back in the day, and I think it's the ick now.

m said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
m said...

i totally love wild boyz! i can't stand bam margera's show, but to me wild boyz is pure genius. but yes, the demise of 120 minutes sucks, regardless of what they fill its timespot with.

Pris said...

Ned, I know I've made fun of you in the past for liking Morissey. I did so because I believed it to be an abberation and that your musical tastes were generally okay. I now see that the problem goes much, much deeper. I am sorry I laughed at you. Get some help, Ned, please, for all our sakes.

Wendy said...

I saw Match Point over the weekend--fantastic! As a fan of Jonathan Rhys Meyers since the very beginning of his career, I almost couldn't believe that was him. He started out very unschooled and full of distracting, yet endearing, mannerisms. He really has evolved as an actor and
I can visualize him in a wider range of movie roles now.

If you like Death Cab you might also enjoy The Decemberists. Their latest, Picaresque, is full of catchy, quirky tunes. They are my favorite new find of the past couple years.

rick said...

No bold for Fishbone?

I stand amazed.


NFlanders said...

Tom-- contact your local cable provider. Just kidding. I hate when they say that. Has the cable company ever added a channel because people called up and asked for it?

Ann-- Frankly, I'm surprised that anyone has heard that song in the last fifteen years. Very icky.

M-- I hate Bam Margera too.

Pris-- You get very touchy when someone makes fun of "Funky Cold Medina." I understand that now and I apologize.

Wendy-- Thanks for the recommendation. Amazon keeps recommending the Decembrists to me. I'll have to check them out.

Rick-- Have you heard that particular Fishbone song recently? I was under the impression that Fishbone was fairly loud, but this song was more Arrested Development's "Mr. Wendell" sounding.

ed said...

OK, then...

No bold for Bob Mould or My Bloody Valentine?

Watt Mahoun said...

Ned, fantastic. A thrilling adventure in voyerism, and you never fail to connect.

The only church I'm passionate about is The Church.

...listening to "Under the Milkyway" right now..."Reptile" is up next.

I think about the loveless fascination
Under the Milky Way tonight

Wish I knew what you were looking for
Might have known what you would find

And it's something quite peculiar
Something shimmering and white
Leads you here despite your destination
Under the Milky Way tonight


Watt Mahoun said...

BTW, have you seen Donnie Darko recently?

A modern music video gone cinema. :-)

NFlanders said...

Fair point, Ed. I was expecting a little blowback from that, especially since Susan M just posted her appreciation of Bob Mould.

Actually, it was the first Mould song I've ever heard. Maybe it just needs to grow on me.

As for My Bloody Valentine, I hate how you can barely hear the vocals on that whole album. It sounds like someone needs to turn up the vocals on the mix.

Thanks, Watt. "Reptile" is one of those songs that everyone has heard but no one realizes it. At least, that's how it was for me.

I love Donnie Darko in spite of the plot holes/Noah Wylie/Drew Barrymore but I haven't rented the director's cut yet. I've heard it makes more sense than the original. That bunny still freaks me out.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ned...120 Minutes on MTV2 is now called Subterranean. It seems to be mostly commercials, but occasionally you can catch some good Death Cab or Interpol videos.

Also, The Alternative is the best...

Keep the Morrissey love coming! ;)

NFlanders said...

Thanks for the tip, anonymous. I'll have to tivo Subterranean. It's always nice to meet a fellow Moz fan. His new single is already available on iTunes: "You Have Killed Me."