Sacred & Profane – Art, Beauty & stuff that doesn't suck

"Life has been your art. You have set yourself to music. Your days are your poetry" -Oscar Wilde

Stuff that isn’t Christmassy or crappy October 7, 2009

I am particularly excited for my New Release Tuesday post today. “Why?” you ask. “Is it because of the new Backstreet Boys CD or the Creed re-release?” Well, I can honestly so that it is not. It is however the first week of October which means the official beginning of the Christmas season for record labels and movie distributors, thus kicking off the nauseating three month frenzy of crap being dumped into the marketplace. Sweet!

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CD’s

The-RaveonettesThe Raveonettes – In and Out of Control

Emily Haines

Emily Haines

For those unfamiliar, The Raveonettes are a brilliant band from Denmark by way of Brooklyn consisting of Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo who I am in love with. Sharin shares a special place in my heart with Metric’s Emily Haines. I indeed have a weakness for waify non-American blonde indie rock chicks who play guitar. Anyway…on to the music.
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The Raveonettes’ last album Lust Lust Lust was my absolute favorite of 2008 and I’ve since been patiently anticipating its follow-up. Their music is like pre-Beatles pop songs recorded by the Velvet Underground and then covered by a Psychocandy era Jesus and Mary Chain who sent the tracks back to the future through a time warp to be mixed by a pre-felony/incarceration era Phil Spector. Helpful? After three attentive listens I’m prepared to say that In and Out of Control isn’t quite on par with Lust Lust Lust, but I didn’t expect it to be. The same seamless harmonies and efficient songwriting, just much less adventurous sonically.
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Here is their incredibly catchy new single “Last Dance”

GoslingDead Man’s Bones – Dead Man’s Bones

Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling

Two things can be expected from actors who become bored with acting and decide they want to be rock stars: A) Their album will suck. B) No matter how bad it sucks some label will take a gamble and release it. For this reason I was terrified upon hearing Ryan Gosling, one of my very favorite actors and man crush objects, started a band with his neighborhood’s hipster children’s choir and they were releasing an album. Initially I feared that best case scenario it would be dismissed as an indulgent novelty and forgotten before doing any permanent damage. Well, sorry I doubted you Ryan.
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I am relieved to say that after listening, my respect for Gosling as an artist has only deepened. Dead Man’s Bones can’t easily be summed with comparisons so I’ll just recommend listening to it. The best I can do is say that it’s eclectic, charming in a creepy sort of way and best experienced with a fake life-sized doll.

hope sandovalHope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions – Through the Devil Softly

Best known as the former singer of mid 90’s shoegaze folk duo Mazzy Star whose song “Fade Into You” still finds its way onto soundtracks and TV shows. Hope could sing through a phone book and make it haunting and rich, (though I hope she never does because that would make for the worst album ever), and to me that’s why this album as a whole doesn’t grab me. Too much gets stripped down and cleared away to make room for her vocals and as a result sometimes the songs either run into one another or just don’t go anywhere. Through the Devil Softly was produced by former My Bloody Valentine guitarist Colm O’Coisoig who I wish would have brought some of his former band’s sonic adventure with him to this one. Click here for more good times (more…)

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Ryan’s Beautiful Wounds (Stuff on YouTube that Doesn’t Suck) March 13, 2009

ryan_dvdMuch to my surprise and delight, I’ve semi-recently discovered that YouTube is more than a digital compost heap of grainy home videos of fat amateur jugglers, ignorant opining talking heads and webcam performances of beginner guitarists sharing their stirring renditions of Stairway to Heaven. It also has worthwhile material. Who Knew?!?! So in an effort to steal some screen time from videos of homeless guys boxing for cheeseburgers, I’d like to share some videos that are actually worth people’s time.

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Do you know those Academy Awards categories like “Best Animated Short” and “Best Short Film” that most people wait for to use the bathroom or refill their drink? This is one of those films you’ve never heard of that wins the Oscar while you’re in the bathroom.

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Ryan, the 14 minute 2005 Oscar winning film by Canadian artist Chris Landreth pays tribute to the life, work and decline of one of the most influential and celebrated pioneers of film animation, Ryan Larkin.

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Landreth uses a method of CGI animation he developed and termed “psychorealism” that aims to visually explore the complexity of the human psyche in a way that realism and dialogue are unable. Landreth’s surrealistic, fractured characters portrayed in this film could have stepped directly out of a Salvador Dali painting. He brilliantly uses vibrant, expressive color to symbolize how the most beautiful and unique parts of ourselves can sometimes cause the most pain.

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Landreth reintroduces the world to Ryan Larkin; or rather his ghost, long stripped of his creative spirit and reduced to a frail, penniless, bitter drug addict left with nothing but his memories and regret of who he once was and what his life could have been.

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(be sure to click the “HQ” button)

 

Are you anybody’s favorite person? March 9, 2009

Filed under: Art,Film,Musings — davidjdecker @ 7:56 am
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I came across this very simple 4 minute short film this weekend that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind. It stars two of my favorite people, John C. Reilly and Miranda July, who also wrote the script. Watch it, and then we’ll discuss…

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“Are you anybody’s favorite person?” “Are you the favorite person of anybody?” Don’t look too deep into the responses from the three people taking the survey. The point I think of the film is to elicit a reaction prompting us to turn the questions inward. These are some of the questions I’ve been trying to process:

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–        What does it mean if I’m not?
–        What does it mean if I am?
–        Do I even want that responsibility?
–        Does it really even matter?

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I consider myself incredibly fortunate that I don’t have to explore these questions from a position of insecurity. Even during the darkest stretches of my past when I’ve felt alone and desperate and tried to isolate everyone, I have never been unloved. I assure you that says far more about people in my life than it does me. Few people can say that, and I hope I don’t take it for granted.

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This is the conclusion my questioning has produced…For me the more relevant question is:

–        “Who is my favorite person and is the sentiment reciprocated?”
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My favorite person is my beautiful wife, Bekah “Buttons”, and I am hers and that is enough for me.

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I am not one for forcing out life applications from art, but I’d encourage all of you to think through who your favorite person is or just someone whose place in your life has meant a lot to you, and let them know. Maybe even respond to this post with a story of that person and send them the link.

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This is far cheesier than I ever get but I can’t think of a better reason to make an exception.

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Oscar Wrap-up February 24, 2009

Well the biggest Oscar surprise I think was the relative lack of unbearably awkward moments that typically plague most awards shows. It was a welcome change. Hugh Jackman proved himself to be a classic entertainer and showcased talents I didn’t even know he had. The writing was very good and the show moved along less sluggishly than normal (the first half anyway). I must add that I hope the 900 commercials that JC Penney aired during the show doesn’t put them out of business…Mainly because I have a gift card for $17 from Christmas ’06 I received in exchange for a plaid sweater vest I returned.

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As far as my predictions are concerned, I suppose I did reasonably well. 8 out of 11. I feel as if I’m deserving of some sort of award…Perhaps a plaid sweater vest? I was thrilled that Slumdog Millionaire did so well but the Best Leading Actor fiasco really messed me up. I was back and forth between Mickey Rourke and Sean Penn. I went with Rourke but ultimately the Academy just couldn’t resist a very very gay Sean Penn; they don’t do well resisting a straight Sean Penn either. Penn is a classy guy and well deserving of his 2nd Oscar.

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It’s just as well though, as my previous statement about the lack of awkwardness would not have been possible had Rourke taken the stage. Anyone who saw his speech at the Independent Spirit Awards knows what I’m talking about. So in light of this here is my advice to any male actor who wants to win an Oscar: Star in a biopic (biographical film) about some guy who was once alive and is now dead. Just go back over the last 5 years and ask:

sean_pennSean Penn

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forest-whitakerForest Whitaker

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ps-hoffmanPhilip Seymour Hoffman and

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jamie20foxxJamie Foxx. They’ll all concur.

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I’m growing bored so in closing let me congratulate my all time favorite actress Kate Winslet for her first Best Leading Actress Oscar last night for The Reader. I was thrilled but I will go on record saying that it’s absurd that she wasn’t also nominated for Revolutionary Road. But whatever…Peace everyone.

 

Worst Blogger Ever… February 18, 2009

Filed under: Film,Musings — davidjdecker @ 1:01 pm
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So I’m pretty sure I’m the worst blogger ever. I was under the impression that a successful blog follows a “two weeks on, three weeks off” pattern. Apparently I was mistaken. I can however explain and exploit your sympathies at the same time…

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I am a casualty of the economic employment downsizing we all hear so much about and found out that I fell outside of the unemployment extension eligibility by 6 days. Seeing that my clock is ticking quite rapidly I have been spent all of my blogging time doing additional fruitless job searching and feeling sorry for myself. So now that all 4 of you forgive my inconsistency I will move on.

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Also, I’ll just throw it out there…if anyone wants to write me giant monthly checks I’ll happily cash them, stop job searching and blog daily. I’m just throwing it out there. I also accept cash. But sorry, I don’t currently accept stock, bond or mutual fund transfers.    : )  

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Seeing that The Oscar’s are on Sunday I will be posting some musings tomorrow and Saturday on which actors/films should win and make predictions on which ones will win followed by a rant on Monday about all of the ceremony’s awkward moments and injustices.

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Thanks for being patient and awesome…Peace

 

The Piano and things to come… January 21, 2009

So today is Jan. 21st which means tomorrow is Jan. 22nd – the day that Oscar Nominations are being announced, which means I’m excited. I’m in the process of viewing all of the films that will be up for significant awards. I’ve seen several, and I will begin posting reflections on them as well as opinions/predictions of the Oscars and the Independent Spirit Awards that will be held Feb 22nd and 21st respectively. First up will be a film that fared reasonable well at the Golden Globes and also has what seems like a 2 to 1 “F”-bomb to normal word ratio. Quite an impressive feat!

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Until then…Here is a very short animation video I’d like to share that is absolutely beautiful. The video by Aidan Gibbons is built around the main theme of Jean-Pierre Juenet’s wonderful 2001 French film Amélie that was composed by Yann Tierson. It very delicately shows a man in the twilight of his life looking back on the passage of time. Very touching. I hope you all enjoy.
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Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

New Release Tuesday January 20, 2009

What’s happenin’ everyone? Awesome…I’m going to start a new ongoing weekly category of the notable CD’s & DVD’s that are released every Tuesday.

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And if there are any that I overlook I’d love for people to post others…Thanks for reading! Peace

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CD’s – Greatest day ever! Several great new album releases and a new president all before lunch!!! (I had lunch at 1pm ET so I did eat it under the new and current administration…If you had lunch at say-11:45 am then that statement was not true for you. Sorry…It may also not be the “greatest day ever” if you don’t share my political affiliations in which case I am also sorry and would recommend finding someone and requesting a hug or perhaps a frozen treat such as a milkshake or a banana that has been left in the freezer. Hugs and frozen treats usually brighten my day.) Anywho…Here you go:

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blood-bank-epBon Iver – Blood Bank e.p.

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I am ridiculously excited about this one and am listening to it right now. For those unfamiliar, Bon Iver (pronounced – Bonnie Vare…French for “good winter”) is the brain child of Wisconsin’s Justin Vernon. He recorded his stunning 2008 debut For Emma, Forever Ago alone in a secluded cabin over the course of 3 months and in the midst of a breakup and serious illness. He released it independently in late 2007 and was re-released to a wider audience by indie label Jagjaguwar several months later.

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There has been some concern among fans that new recordings produced in a polished environment won’t produce the same raw magic and emotion of Emma. I had the same hesitation, but even though Blood Bank is fuller and more polished, it in no way detracts from the quality or power of the songs and performances. I will warn that there will be an initial knee jerk reaction to the Imogen Heap, Hide & Seek inspired vocoder and auto-tune drenched track Woods. Great start for 2009. Hope we see a full length later in the year.

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noble-beastAndrew Bird – Noble Beast

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This is Bird’s follow-up to his 2007 excellent Armchair Apocrypha album. He stated in an interview that “the record I want to make here and now – the one I wish I could find in my local record store, is a gentle, lulling, polyrhythmic, minimalist yet warm tapestry of acoustic instruments. No solos, just interlocking parts.” If he’s looking for that album I would recommend he go purchase his previous release that accomplished that objective quite well. I’m looking forward to hear how well he’s able to build on his past successes.

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Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion

Challenging, experimental set from Baltimore-based Indie rock super group.

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antonyaAntony & the Johnsons – The Crying Light

One of the most unique and intimate singers around today.

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getguilty1A.C. Newman – Get Guilty

Pop rock craftsman behind The New Pornographers

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athomyorkeremixessingle

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Remixes of Thom Yorke’s- as good as it needs to be- solo record

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Steve Earle & The Del McCoury Band – The Mountain

Reissue of 1999’s classic collaboration between two country music legends.

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DVD’s
Nothing too exciting that struck me for this week with the possible exception of The Express which is the story of Ernie Davis-the first African-American Heisman Trophy winner for those of you into inspirational sports movies. Several great DVD releases the next several weeks.