Saturday, September 18, 2010
Originally, Band of Joy was the name of Plant’s first serious rock band and they were only together for a couple of years from 1966 to 1968. He was just 18 years of age when he fronted the group along with John Bonham on drums. He took Bonham to Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones and formed Led Zeppelin: a band that musically re-imagined the blues with close attention to their English folk roots. Both Plant and Page were able to absorb many musical forms and adapt them to Led Zeppelin. This record widens the musical pallete to include sounds that Led Zeppelin dare not tread: gospel, soul and country-blues.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest: A Fully Satisfying Conclusion to Stieg Larsson's 'Millennium' Trilogy
Having now finished all three books, which revolve around Lisbeth Salander, an angry and highly antisocial young woman who has been horribly mistreated by the Swedish legal and medical systems, and her friend and protector, crusading investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist, I can only add more bouquets of effusive praise to what I wrote about the first two novels. Suffice it to say that the concluding ‘Millennium’ novel, in a series which had already managed to touch on everything from Sweden’s vicious sex trade to the country’s past flirtation with Nazism to the prevailing sexist atmosphere in most of that nation’s major institutions, among many other subjects, widens the scope even further by unveiling a political and constitutional scandal that makes Watergate look like a minor kerfuffle. (This is not a spoiler as much of this was revealed in the previous two books, particularly in The Girl Who Played With Fire). And The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest does all this without ever losing the thread of the unique, moving but unsentimental relationship between Salander and Blomkvist. It literally picks up minutes after the exciting conclusion of The Girl Who Played with Fire when – SPOILER ALERT – Salander confronts her vicious father, a Soviet double agent who defected to Sweden, with dire results. That confrontation rips the lid off many a long-held secret as the chickens -- namely, the revelations behind the myraid injustices endured by Salander -- finally come home to roost.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
“They're here already! You're next!”
Kevin McCarthy, who passed away on September 11th, was a journeyman actor who worked constantly from his uncredited debut in Winged Victory (1944) right up until earlier this year when, at the age of 96, he starred in the short film Drawback. He is and always will be best remembered for playing Dr. Miles Bennell in the original version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) for which the line quoted above is his best (and probably only) remembered line of dialogue. Journeyman actor he may have been, but his talent always shone through in whatever he did. A committed stage actor, his filmed credits were mostly guest shots on TV shows. His first was The Ford Theater Hour (1949), but many other shows he guested on from the 1960s through the 1990s are still remembered today: The Twilight Zone (1960), Ben Casey (1961), The Fugitive (1966), Burke's Law (1966), The Man From Uncle (1966), The Invaders (1967), Mission: Impossible (1971), Columbo (1973), Hawaii Five-O (1976), Flamingo Road (1980-1982 – he had a role for the show's entire run), Matlock (1989) and Murder, She Wrote (1992). There were dozens of others – shows you've heard of and ones nobody but agents and trivia buffs remember.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
His films, and Another Year is no exception, invariably present sympathetic multi-faceted portraits of ordinary Britons, middle-class, lower middle-class or working-class folk, who are simply trying to get through life, be they the disillusioned socialists of High Hopes (1988), the determined chef trying to make a go of his own restaurant in Life is Sweet (1990) or the troubled families coping on a run down council estate in All or Nothing (2002). The beauty of Leigh’s films – and most of them are fully successful efforts – is that his protagonists are drawn so sympathetically and with such complexity that you feel that you know them and come to care about them deeply. That’s not nearly so common in our current cinematic age of crass, facile and empty movies like Kick-Ass, Life During Wartime and Grown Ups, to name just three of the year’s most offensive movies. (Leigh also made a film called Grown-Ups for TV in 1980 but any commonalities between it and the puerile Adam Sandler movie stop at the title.) I actually saw the word humane used by a reviewer to describe Todd Solondz’s Life During Wartime, which only goes to suggest how one can pervert the English language. Solondz’s films are anything but humane while Leigh's movies are suffused with humanity.