Sunday, June 13, 2004

Catching up:

Burma on Thursday: I wasn't in a state of mind to focus my attention for every second of a 45-min set plus an hour-set plus an encore, but it wasn't a matter of having had enough by a certain point -- whenever I thought "well, they've played everything I've got to hear," out would come something amazing: "Forget," or "The Set-Up," or said encore of "Peking Spring"/The Wipers' "Youth of America"/"Ballad of Johnny Burma" (especially the last, a VS. song that somehow doesn't cross my mind much. For all the conventional wisdom that Clint Conley wrote the hits, I often find Roger Miller's more aggro sense of what constitutes a hook at least as effective; I think he may sing (read: bark) better live than on record. Conley on the other hand, somehow looked physically younger at the end of the show than at the start -- as though he's not completely looking forward to expending the energy, but finds a reserve as the band gets going.

Not as well attended as the last L.A. show (floor of the Henry Fonda was full, but not the balcony); given their audience, it's touch to go up against Sonic Youth (Troubadour) and J Mascis (House of Blues) the same night. I was told that the rest of this leg has been fine, though. Bob Weston reports having won $400 at craps in the New Orleans' casinos during the TapeOp convention; one way to defray costs.

The Stepford Wives: See, when you don't see many first run movies, you can get suckered by trailers (I think I saw this movie's at Mean Girls). I've read the novel but not seen the original film version, so I didn't have much to feel disappointed by, but this is pretty eh -- sketchy script, nowhere performances by Matthew Broderick and even Christopher Walken, moments (mostly early, before the plot just moves her around) from Kidman. Mainly, I was hoping for a more saturated, hyper-something visual style, esp. from Frank Oz, but even this was pretty tame -- probably a mistake to use various 'kitchen of the future' promo footage in the credits, which had all the phantasmagoric campiness that the movie itself lacked. That said, Glenn Close is the best thing in the movie (after being intolerable in Le Divorce; very theatrical, way more in on the joke than anyone else, holding entire scenes in a not-especially-cinematic way. Bette Milder does a decent Better Midler; Faith Hill is stunt casting -- I've already forgotten which wife she was.

Odd moment: There's a joke at the expense of AOL's slowness, which gets more of a gasp than a laugh from the audience I saw it with, as if invoking and making fun of a real corporation was taboo, like a form of ethnic humor. (That said -- palpable anticipation in the theater during the Farenheit 9/11 trailer.)

The Five Obstructions: Diverting while I was watching it, but it hasn't stuck -- Von Trier's degree of insight into the supposed battle between formalism and expressiveness is modest at best. I was hoping for a cinematic Eunoia, and it's considerably less than that. Found myself interested less about the film's explicit problematic than whether the Von Trier/Leth frame conversations were scripted reconstructions of however this encounter actually went. Also, it seems to me that the 3rd ('no rules') and 4th (animated) version that Leth makes are more personal, self-revealing, whatever than the original in something close to the way Von Trier wants, so why does the latter think he's 'failed' at the end? My reaction may not say much: The real film sophisticate in our department, who essentially hates Von Trier, says she kept thinking about it for days. I can also well imagine renting the DVD, assuming it contains the entirely of the various shorts, including Leth's original.

Last night, pretty invigorating Refrigerator show in downtown Upland (the usual 'revitalized' downtown of antique malls and hair salons that can't possibly survive long), capped by Dennis handing off his guitar to Nathan Wilson during "State Trooper" and leading most of the audience out of the 'club' to the area's central gazebo, reprising "Tourists" from there and, well, running around hitting and hugging people. Oh, and earlier, yelling at me, "Get out! I've never liked you!" because I had walked across the street to window shop with Bree (who can't take loud for long) for a while earlier in the set. Interpolations of "Goody Two Shoes" and "Little Red Corvette" as well (Prince's publishers seem to have finally noticed Dump's cover CD on Shrimper, with predictable results). I'm puzzled that this depressing brew-pub is allowed to have live music his late in a staid part of town -- you really could hear the band more than a block away. The Upland police station isn't far off, and I'd have expected a cop or two to drive by during all this, but, happily, no. The Uncalled For, opening, debuted their cover of The Who's "A Quick One" -- all twenty or so minutes of it.

Tzadik-associated cellist Erik Friedlander (think he's played w/ Courtney Love as well, but I don't know on what) at Temple Bar tonight, if the late-afternoon Phil Department party doesn't sap my will.

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