Apr 23, 2013

Film Review: Dogtooth

     Yorgos Lanthimos's Dogtooth may be best described as a glimpse of hell. Its' vision of systematic child abuse is simple and striking. In the world created by deeply insecure parents, a cat (which, happily for me, meets a gruesome demise) is a deadly beast and commercial jets can easily fall from the sky, shrinking to the size of a toy one should covet. The confines of a large estate are all that keeps the ignorant kids safe from the numerous dangers of the outside terrain.
     We're left to guess and my guess is that the dad is ultimately the mastermind of the nightmare. Mom is totally in favor, I'm sure, because it's a way to keep the kids around indefinitely. She gets visibly upset after certain incidents of physical trauma brought on the kids by either Dad or themselves. Nothing seems to phase Dad except the unravelling of his evil plan.
     The kids look to be in their mid-late 20s. The two girls are older than the boy. To pass time, they often devise physically dangerous challenges, I'm sure as a way of awakening what might feel dead in their innocent souls. Dad hires a woman to relieve his virile son, every week, of the nasty testosterone that may aid in an unexpected mutiny.
     This dark tale is mostly filmed during mid-day, taking full advantage of the piercing, natural light by which Greece is blessed. Most of the clothes worn by the kids are made (handmade?) of plain, white linen. The high walls of the compound are only shown a dozen or so times. A tricky illusion is created by how positive, if not stark, the rest of the atmosphere around the house is. Who wouldn't want a large pool in which to dip everyday?
     If horrifying his audience was Lanthimos's goal, he's certainly succeeded. I don't get the feeling that Dogtooth is merely an exercise in horror as it is cause and effect. But if it's cause and effect he wanted to explore, the scenario he presents relies too much on suspension of disbelief. Many holes can be poked in what particulars he's given us to consider. The films' ambitions are ultimately as shaky as the family's psyche.
                                             The Verdict: 3 Bedpans

Apr 17, 2013


Spill my numbers.
Melt my face.
I'm talking to the cereal.
I'm swimming in the splash
Of epileptic wonder,
Echo-cave slug trails.

Make me an offer.
Push me past the docks.
I long to be subservient.
I'm singing through the mouth
Of a cherry blossom trash can,
Blissfully repugnant.

                                                    © Dull Lead 2013

Apr 14, 2013

The First Frontier

I crossed the place where heaven meets all whores
Where gold of the earth seared a hole in my head
Where I'd be foolish to trust anything
And irony makes heroes of cowards
Where the only currency is dust
And the only language understood is noise

Everyone had left but were content to stay
As a part of the hollow, neon nightmare.
The First Frontier will make me whole.
It's just enough to ward off want.

I believe that my life is not my own.
I believe that my story is a wretched one.
But it's important to laugh as though I'm free;
To live by occurrence rather than thought.

                                                   © Dull Lead 2013

Apr 10, 2013

Every Story

A useless tug,
An empty jug,
Acutely suffered stings;
If only they'd subpoena me,
I'd tell them everything;

All the truth of every story
Whispered through the wires;
Blinding shimmers of dragon scales,
Psychedelic fires,
Ice picks, card tricks,
Sympathetic wound-licks,
Dusty eyes, quivering thighs,
Plastered concert poster skies

As if they're an audience of mice
And I, a friendly cat;
My whiskers won't sense their esteem for
The decorum I clearly lack.

                                                   © Dull Lead 2013

Music Review: Fiona Apple:-The Idler Wheel is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Chords Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do


   I suspect that us fans will always be pining for every Fiona Apple release. We don't mind that she takes her damn sweet time when the result is so satisfying. Who else can give us such biting lyrics sung jazz-vocal style? Who else writes so many songs with dissonant chords? Oh, and as long as she stays on a major label, we'll blame them for her long absences.  
     I don't really know where to start with this one. I guess it's strange that every song on here but the last, 'Hot Knife', has already been done by her in some fashion on previous efforts. It's our basic Fiona with slightly less orchestration added. And since the strings and horns are dialed down to a bare minimum, percussion takes more or less center stage on 'Daredevil', 'Left Alone', 'Regret', and 'Anything We Want', making them compelling cuts on the list. 
     Okay, so 'Hot Knife' is a major departure for her song-wise. It's mostly acapella, Gospel/20s Big Band Era sound. By these facts alone, not only does it stand out, it might be the most exciting song in this collection. She repeats the same refrain at least 20 times but it never gets old. And it only gets better when she invites a small choir of voices to join in.
     Another welcome change she embraced is using names. 'Jonathan' is written for/about an actual guy, Jonathan Ames. Apple's been linked to many famous creative-types. Whatever she had with them has been used in song but names have never been given, either by choice or by request.
     The last difference seen on this 4th release is the artwork. All sketches scrawled about the lyric insert and front/back covers are credited to Fiona. None of it's too insightful but it lets the audience glimpse by what she may or may not be inspired.
     I won't fault The Idler Wheel... for not sounding grand enough. Every ingredient for grand statements is available to the listener. Fiona has chosen to arrange them more simply, stately, dare I say, maturely. The lyrics read dramatically but aren't delivered as such. If I can't accept that then I can't accept her and I should listen to something less challenging.
                                              The Verdict: 3 Bedpans

Music Review: Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra-Theatre is Evil



     No matter what some may think *cough!* (I agree) of Amanda Palmer, there's no denying the chick can write a tune. Lots of music made by females in 2012, and this is by far my favorite. Leave it to the one who wears the most make-up, shows the most skin, and conversely, boasts an only competent voice to out-shine the rest.
     Theare is Evil is, firstly, FUN and secondly, mostly LOUD. Amanda likes to write pop anthems and we should be thankful for this 'cause a great anthem can uplift just as well as horrible ones have straight made me want to commit violence. She only allows the music to slip into superdramatic/morose territory on cuts like 'Trout Heart Replica' (Captain Beefheart reference), 'The Bed Song', and 'Berlin'. The other ten songs are bangers with 'Grown Man Cry' and 'Bottomfeeder' keeping mid-tempo time. Plenty of guitars here. I kinda never imagined her going in such a direction (she's usually manning some keys) but it works. I'd say it's a testiment to her songwriting ability.
     Amanda Palmer wrote another collection of great tunes. She likes to remind us that she grew up in Boston and that may account for how tough her skin is or why she seems whip-smart. Through it all, she ingratiates herself to her audience and I want to be her best friend by the time it all ends.
                                                  Verdict: 4 Bedpans

Apr 6, 2013

Adventure Time

Had I a sword, a shield, a helmet, shin guards,
A Crossbow & arrows, a pistol, a sniper rifle, a bazooka,
A tank, anthrax, coffee, cyanide,
Mescaline, a Global Positioning System, an alias ID, a machete,
A Rewards+ Platinum Card, Creedence tapes, a Game Genie,
The Bible, a Phoenix Down, a Life Alert bracelet,
Photos of loved ones (including Elvis Costello, Bill Cosby), pomade,
A finished script, KNBR AM 680/1050, a Moog synth, soap,
Dick Cheney's cell #, and 8 companions, I'd feel somewhat prepared.

I mean, as long as everything functions properly and
My companions stay loyal...
As long as I'm guaranteed 8 hours of rest every night and
We're given advance warning of any sink holes...
As long as every cop is aware that we're on some
Sort of official business and
Security clearance is confirmed...
As long as I don't end up winning the Power Ball lottery
Before our departure...

                                                 © Dull Lead 2013