I’ve been on a tremendous Aretha Franklin kick lately. Her work in the late 60’s through the early 70’s is my favorite in her catalog. Here’s a good one to start your Monday.
Curtis Mayfield-penned hit from the 1976 movie soundtrack “Sparkle” (starring a pre-Miami Vice Philip Michael Thomas and Irene Cara). Aretha doesn’t sing it in the movie, but she does on the soundtrack. It’s a killer slow-burn.
I only ever knew about the En Vogue version from 1992, with the video drawn right from the film. It’s also great:
I feel obligated to share the Sparkletrailer here. It’s narrated by Casey Kasem, for one, and it is evidence that movie trailers have always given away the whole plot.
And then they re-made the movie in 2012 with Jordan Sparks and Whitney Houston?!? Crazy.
I went to the movies by myself over the holiday and saw Baby Driver, the new bank heist/car chase movie from Edgar Wright. I loved it and, without any spoilers, these are some the reasons why:
The Music – Have Mercy! The soundtrack for this movie is so great. There is a Spotify playlist of the songs that I’ve been listening to non-stop. The way it is used in the movie is smart, too. I stuck around through the credits and saw that Kid Koala made all of Baby’s tape remixes. He’s an excellent DJ you should check out if you haven’t heard of him.
(this post is about the new Star Wars movie and there will be spoilers, not that you haven’t already seen it…)
I’m a Star Wars kid. I was born in 1972 and had a childhood steeped in all of it. Nowadays, any sense of awe or wonder I had toward Star Wars was eaten completely away by the first two prequels. So much so that I didn’t even bother with the third. I thought that I had maybe outgrown the whole idea of getting geeked on Star Wars movies. I was really surprised to hear all of the good reviews of Star Wars 7 so I went with the family to see it on Christmas Eve. I already knew the big surprise in the movie, the death of Han Solo, but I had successfully avoided learning anything else about what was happening. I wanted to see it and talk about it before I heard about anything else.
I’ve cooked up this list of things I liked and didn’t like so my curmudgeonly attitude can be documented for posterity.
-Rey is an awesome protagonist. Smart, fast, brave, all of that crap you want in your hero.
-Finn was great sidekick material, but not structured like a classic Robin. He’s full grown with his own ideas, but he didn’t want to lead the way.
-The Millenium Falcon. It was one of very few throwback moments that worked for me. Probably because it didn’t have any dialogue.
-Kylo Ren. His modulated voice was creeeepy and the way he went into not-terribly-Jedi tantrums helped build out the character.
-All of the goddamn Fanservice. Every time someone over 45 started talking I was pulled right out of whatever cool/new Star Wars they were trying to build. It was really frustrating.
-R2D2 and C-3PO, see above. Nothing more than some fanboy slathering.
-Poe the new hotshot pilot. Super-boring.
-Maz Kenada, every time they said her name I could only think of the Sergio Mendes hit song. I thought the character was fine, but the name was terrible.
-The new, new, new Death Star. This was particularly dumb. Planet-sized guns again?
-The hologram chessboard. This was overkill on the throwbacks after the lightsaber training ball thing.
-The CGI monsters that ate everyone. They looked like something from a Men In Black movie, which is to say they were well-rendered but looked out of place in Star Wars.
For the record, my wife and kids thought it was great. They gave me plenty of the “cranky old man” treatment afterward. I deserved it.
We’re really into this show at my house. It does run a little grisly but I am willing to go along with the writer’s insistence that the gore is just how things went in hospitals at the turn of the 20th century. There have been a couple of hokey moments but the story has been cool so far. I even like all of the actors. The real star, for me, is the way this show looks. Steven Soderbergh has directed every episode so far and they’re so cool-looking I can get past any ill-fitting plot turn they throw along. He makes movingpictures that I like to look at.
Steven Soderbergh posted, for educational purposes (ha!), a black and white version of Raiders of the Lost Ark to study “how all the various elements of a given scene or piece are aligned, arranged, and coordinated. Soderbergh also took out all of the original sound and replaced it with the score from The Social Network, which works surprisingly well.
There are so many things that go on and into a minute of a feature film that this is an interesting technique to use to isolate one thing for study. The black and white really shows off the pulpy-ness of this movie. Some of these scenes could easily have been shot in the 40’s.
When the presenter, Anthony Hopkins, said the winners were Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary, television screens went black for a moment, which Avary says was payback for pranks Tarantino had played on him in the past. “I paid off a cameraman 500 bucks to have the camera turned off on Quentin when they announced the award,” claims Avary. “So if you watch it online, you’ll see it cuts to black briefly, and then they cut to me. Gotcha.” The two former video clerks hugged onstage as Pulp Fiction’s opening-credit music boomed through the Shrine Auditorium.
And you can see it here:
This is the personal blog of Mike Flynn. I’ve been at this a while.