Saturday, 18 November 2017

The Holy Mountain


To truly understand how powerful The Holy Mountain is, you have to realize it's a comedy of acerbically embittered wit aimed directly at the heart of the western world, and ultimately a wider consciousness of compassion. It’s a film that pokes fun at ‘art cinema’- but as a friend. One that shares their struggle under the crushing weight of manufactured profundity, terrified by the masses that demand excellence at a moment notice and punish weakness with undying insults. To express what I mean, take an early scene in which a toad and lizard circus re-enacts the Spanish Conquistadors landing on Meso-American soil, sanctioning a brutal massacre of the beasts that are themselves forced into slavery for the entertainment of others. It’s a scene mortifying in its raw sincerity- both ridiculing such a comically freakish affair whilst also attempting to sew its own artistry into the seams. There is a repressed memory of hopeful creativity lost at the peak of The Holy Mountain- one that informs its story with blistering insight into the mind of its maker: Writer, director, producer, editor and actor Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Favorite Songs

1 - Wish You Were Here (" , 1975, Pink Floyd)
because it's touched the void
2 - Shine on you Crazy Diamond (Wish You Were Here, 1975, Pink Floyd)
because it's the best song ever written
3 - Echoes (Meddle, 1971, Pink Floyd)
because in the waking unknown could be terror incarnate
4 - Close to the Edge (", 1972, Yes)
because it's always ahead of you
5 - Starless (Red, 1974, King Crimson)
because it's incandescent
6 - Stargazer (Rising, 1977, Rainbow)
because it's ready to burst
7 - Supper's Ready (Foxtrot, 1972, Genesis) 
because it's Odyssean
8 - Kashmir (Physical Graffiti, 1975, Led Zeppelin)
because it will play forever
9 - A Day in the Life (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967, The Beatles)
because it does as it says
10 - Time (Dark Side of the Moon, 1973, Pink Floyd)
because the sun is the same in a relative way, but you're older
11 - Welcome to the Machine (Wish You Were Here, 1975, Pink Floyd)
because there is no hope
12 - In the Court of the Crimson King (", 1969, King Crimson) 
because nobody could write this kind of music
13 - Comfortably Numb (The Wall, 1979, Pink Floyd)
because for just one track, The Wall comes crashing down
14 - Child in Time (Deep Purple in Rock, 1970, Deep Purple)
because it's rock as legend
15 - Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin IV, 1971, Led Zeppelin)
because it will never be bettered
16 - Firth of Fifth (Selling England by the Pound, 1973, Genesis)
because it feels like being shot through spacetime
17 - Epitaph (In the Court of the Crimson King, 1969, King Crimson) 
because dying thoughts should never be shared
18 - Achilles Last Stand (Presence, 1976, Led Zeppelin)
because Bonham was a poet
19 - 21st Century Schizoid Man (In the Court of the Crimson King, 1969, King Crimson) 
because it is the seething scream of a place and time
20 - Roundabout (Fragile, 1971, Yes)
because it's the most unlikely single ever
21 - Layla (Layla & Other Assorted Songs, 1970, Derek & the Dominoes) 
because they went with the coda
22 - 2112 (", 1976, Rush)
because it's so earnestly in love with rock
23 - High Hopes (The Division Bell, 1994, Pink Floyd)
because it's the perfect ending
24 - Burn (", 1974, Deep Purple)
because it never lets up
25 - Us and Them (Dark Side of the Moon, 1973, Pink Floyd)
because the men behind the sun are scared shitless too
26 - Pigs (three different ones) (Animals, 1977, Pink Floyd)
because it's sweltering
27 - Dogs (Animals, 1977, Pink Floyd)
because it's primal
28 - Tom Sawyer (Moving Pictures, 1982, Rush)
because in one note, a legend was born
29 - Brain Damage (Dark Side of the Moon, 1973, Pink Floyd)
because only god can comprehend what Barrett was going through
30 - The Great Gig in the Sky (Dark Side of the Moon, 1973, Pink Floyd)
because death is beautiful
31 - Black (Ten, 1991, Pearl Jam) 
because we have to find our own star
32 - Ambulance Blues (On the Beach, 1974, Neil Young)
because it weeps
33 - Freebird (", 1973, Lynyrd Skynyrd)
because it's so gleefully aware of how great it's going to be
34 - Sheep (Animals, 1977, Pink Floyd)
because it rolls on down the hills
35 - Tarkus (", 1971, Emerson Lake & Palmer)
because who doesn't want a side-long about a weaponised armadillo tank battling for the future?
36 - Cortez the Killer (Zuma, 1975, Neil Young)
because it's a promise fulfilled
37 - Karn Evil 9 (Brain Salad Surgery, 1973, Emerson Lake & Palmer)
because Keith Emerson was the Keith Emerson of keyboards.
38 - Since I've Been Loving You (Led Zeppelin III, 1970, Led Zeppelin)
because it roars
39 - Smoke on the Water (Machine Head, 1972, Deep Purple)
because it's crown king of rock riffs
40 - Hotel California (", 1976, The Eagles)
because it's a woozy summer dream
41 - Like a Rolling Stone (Highway 61 Revisited, 1965, Bob Dylan)
because the critics have a point
42 - Xanadu (Farewell to Kings, 1977, Rush)
because I don't doubt Coleridge would rock out
43 - While My Guitar Gently Weeps (The White Album, 1968, The Beatles)
because Harrison was the best of them
44 - Have a Cigar (Wish You Were Here, 1975, Pink Floyd) 
because art has a price
45 - Sorrow (A Momentary Lapse of Reason, 1987, Pink Floyd) 
because if Momentary Lapse is throwaway pop then I'm Bo Derrick
46 - Highway Star (Machine Head, 1972, Deep Purple)
because Blackmore always got two
47 - She's Leaving Home (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967, The Beatles)
because it has no right to be famous
48 - American Pie (", 1971, Don McLean)
because McLean had no shame
49 - Learning to Fly (A Momentary Lapse of Reason, 1987, Pink Floyd)
because it proved everyone wrong
50 - Bat Outta Hell (", 1977, Meat Loaf)
because GONE! GONE! GONE!
51 - Ghost Town [single, 1981, The Specials)
because it remains arguably the best single of the last 40 years
52 - Strawberry Fields Forever [single, 1967, The Beatles]
because the boys made an über pop hit out of popping shit
53 - Step-On (Pills n' Thrills n' Bellyaches, 1971, The Happy Mondays)
because it might as well be laced with acid
54 - Red (", 1974, King Crimson)
because KC improvise like they've been learning all their life
55 - Moby Dick (Led Zeppelin II, 1969, Led Zeppelin)
because god bless John Henry Bonham
56 - Common People (Different Class, 1995, Pulp)
because it's still stunning
57 - Bell Bottom Blues (Layla & Other Assorted Songs, 1970, Derek & the Dominoes)
because he has humility
58 - Siberian Khatru (Close to the Edge, 1972, Yes)
because we'll never know
59 - Yesterday [single, 1965, The Beatles) 
because no-one has done it justice
60 - The Weight (Music from Big Pink, 1968, The Band)
because are we the first ones up?
61 - Whole Lotta Love (Led Zeppelin II, 1969, Led Zeppelin)
because you need Kool-Aid
62 - Paradise by the Dashboard Light (Bat Outta Hell, 1977, Meat Loaf)
because he's so full of life
63 - I Talk to the Wind (In the Court of the Crimson King, 1969, King Crimson)
because it glides
64 - Limelight (Moving Pictures, 1982, Rush)
because they deserve it
65 - Tears in Heaven (Rush soundtrack, 1991, Eric Clapton)
because no one else should sing it
66 - Sultans of Swing (Dire Straits, 1979, Dire Straits)
because it could make a dead man sway along
67 - The House of the Rising Sun (The Animals, 1964, The Animals)
because it's tortured
68 - Kissing a Fool (Faith, 1987, George Michael)
because it gets a chance to soar
69 - Fat Old Sun (Atom Heart Mother, 1970, Pink Floyd)
because you don't always want the world in six minutes
70 - Hey Jude [single, 1968, The Beatles]
because it's still being sung
71 - Knocking on Heaven's Door (Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, 1973, Bob Dylan)
because god damn Slim
72 - Baker Street (City to City, 1978, Gerry Rafferty)
because holy shit
73 - Childhood's End (Obscured by Clouds, 1972, Pink Floyd)
because Gilmour just couldn't get a word in, for better or for worse
74 - Ritual (Tales from Topographic Oceans, 1974, Yes)
because the final few notes betray a feeling little music has the maturity to face
75 - Telegraph Road (Love Over Gold, 1982, Dire Straits) 
because it crackles on a midnight walk
76 - Knights of Cydonia (Black Holes & Revelations, 2006, Muse)
because it rolls you back into the future
77 - What's Going On? (“, 1971, Marvin Gaye)
because peace is ever elusive
78 - Goodbye Stranger (Breakfast in America, 1979, Supertramp)
because he has so much love to give
79 - Dogs of War (A Momentary Lapse of Reason, 1987, Pink Floyd)
because lyrics be damned, that music is absolutely colossal
80 - Dance of the Dawn (Tales from Topographic Oceans, 1974, Yes)
because the world is a wondrous place
81 - One More Red Nightmare (Red, 1974, King Crimson) 
because On the Run can stuff it
82 - Nights on Broadway (Main Course, 1975, The Bee Gees)
because it moves so smoothly
83 - Temptation (The Luxury Lap, 1983, Heaven 17)
because higher and higher
84 - Carry on my Wayward Son (Leftoverture, 1978, Kansas) 
because it's just cool, yo
85 - Dancing With the Moonlit Knight (Selling England by the Pound, 1973, Genesis)
because for her merchandise he traded in his prize
86 - Up the Junction (Cool for Cats, 1979, Squeeze)
because it all falls away so fast
87 - This is how it Feels (Life, 1990, Inspiral Carpets)
because we'll never know
88 - In the Flesh? (The Wall, 1979, Pink Floyd)
because it's too early to wear thin
89 - Amoreena (Tumbleweed Connection, 1970, Elton John)
because Sal didn't deserve to die
90 - Life on Mars (Hunky Dory, 1971, David Bowie)
because it's perfectly penned
91 - Heart of the Sunrise (Fragile, 1971, Yes) 
because it sealed the deal
92 - One of These Days (Meddle, 1971, Pink Floyd) 
because Richard Wright will be missed
93 - Holy Diver (", 1983, Dio)
because Dio might have my favourite set of lungs in music
94 - Money (Dark Side of the Moon, 1973, Pink Floyd)
because of how many people so beautifully miss the point
95 - What is Life (All Things Must Pass, 1970, George Harrison)
because it's glad
96 - Bohemian Rhapsody (A Night at the Opera, 1975, Queen)
because the intro justifies Mercury's legend and then some
97 - Something (Abbey Road, 1969, The Beatles)
because Pattie Boyd was a sparkling well of inspiration
98 - Dazed & Confused (Led Zeppelin, 1968, ")
because it booms
99 - Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da (The White Album, 1968, The Beatles)        
because it couldn't be happier
100 - Awaken (Going for the One, 1978, Yes)
because it's a final fuck you to the man

Monday, 23 October 2017

Heaven's Gate


I’ve been spoilt for choice when it comes to candidates for my review this month. The sequel to Ridley Scott’s landmark neo-noir in Denis Villeneuve’s tragically de-fanged Blade Runner 2049 was ripe for roasting, but I feel so exhausted by this year’s river of critical dissolution in the face of big pictures that ripping on something as unreservedly acclaimed as 49 would just be an extension of my review for Dunkirk: A disappointing step back into harmful comfort for Christopher Nolan just as Villenueve has further diluted the incendiary drive that made his Canadian productions so imposing. And it is in this climate of mostly harmless Hollywood blockbusters that I find myself reminded of the tragedy that doomed us all to this desolate expanse of plain, artless features with the occasional peppering of smart-arsed ‘auteurs’ execs nab out of the indie darlings and plug into massive projects they soon realize they were wrong about dreaming about. The dreams of these directors drive the last sparks of passion and promise in Now Hollywood and I think it’s a crying shame that the machine seems geared to grind these glowing ideals into mulch… but it was these same aspirations of complete creative control that forced the hand of survivalist cynicism for the American film industry- one that drowned a decade of movies in Über-consumerist focus before the independent movement finally began to blossom by the end of the eighties. All of this sets the cross-hairs on an inescapable question: Was Heaven’s Gate worth it? 

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Top Directors

60. John Boorman (cinematically active 1961 – present, UK)
Greatest Works: Deliverance, Point-Blank, Hell in the Pacific, Excalibur, Zardoz

59. Alfred Hitchcock (cinematically active 1922 – 1976, UK)
Greatest Works: Rear Window, Psycho, The Wrong Man, Notorious, Frenzy, Vertigo

58. Costa-Gavras (cinematically active 1958 – present, Greece)
Greatest Works: Z, The Confession, Missing, State of Siege

57. Max Ophüls (cinematically active 1931 – 1955, France)
Greatest Works: La Ronde, the Earrings of Madame De…, Lola Montes, Letter from an Unknown Woman

56. Gaspar Noé (cinematically active 1985 – present, France)
Greatest Works: Irréversible, Seul Contre Tous, Enter the Void

55. Nuri Blige Ceylan (cinematically active 1995 – present, Turkey)
Greatest Works: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Uzak, Climates

54. Shohei Imamura (cinematically active 1958 – 2002, Japan)
Greatest Works: Vengeance is Mine, Profound Desires of the Gods, Intentions of Murder, The Insect Woman, The Ballad of Nayamara

53. Apichatpong Weerasethakul (cinematically active 1993 – present, Thailand)
Greatest Works: Tropical Malady, Uncle Boonmee who can Recall his Past Lives, Syndromes and a Century, Cemetery of Splendour, Blissfully Yours

52. Yoshishige Yoshida (cinematically active 1960 – 2004, Japan)
Greatest Works: Eros + Massacre, Heroic Purgatory, Akitsu Springs, Confessions Among Actresses, Coup D’etat, Bitter End of a Sweet Night

51. Sidney Lumet (cinematically active 1957 – 2007, US)
Greatest Works: Dog Day Afternoon, 12 Angry Men, Network, Prince of the City, The Offence, The Pawnbroker, The Hill

50. Jacques Tati (cinematically active 1947 – 2002, France)
Greatest Works: Playtime, Traffik, Mon Oncle, Mr. Hulot’s Holiday

49. Abbas Kiarostami (cinematically active 1970 – 2016, Iran)
Greatest Works: Close-Up, Through the Olive Trees, Where is the Friend’s Home?, Certified Copy, The Wind Will Carry Us

48. Sayajit Ray (cinematically active 1955 – 1991, India)
Greatest Works: The Music Room, Charulata, The Big City, Pather Panchali, The World of Apu

47. Stanley Kubrick (cinematically active 1951 – 1999, US)
Greatest Works: Paths of Glory, Dr. Strangelove, The Shining, 2001: a Space Odyssey

46. Paul Schrader (cinematically active 1974 – present, US)
Greatest Works: Mishima: a Life in Four Chapters, Affliction, Cat People, Light Sleeper, Autofocus

45. Fritz Lang (cinematically active 1919 – 1960, Germany)
Greatest Works: M, Metropolis, Die Nibelungen, Destiny, The Big Heat

44. Paul Thomas Anderson (cinematically active 1988 – present, US)
Greatest Works: Magnolia, There Will Be Blood, Boogie Nights, Punch-Drunk-Love, the Master

43. Hsiao-Hsien Hou (cinematically active 1980 – present, Taiwan)
Greatest Works: A City of Sadness, Flowers of Shanghai, The Puppetmaster, A Time to Live & A Time to Die, The Assassin

42. Michael Haneke (cinematically active 1989 – present, Austria)
Greatest Works: The Seventh Continent, The White Ribbon, Cache, Amour

41. Charlie Chaplin (cinematically active 1914 – 1967, UK)
Greatest Works: City Lights, Modern Times, The Gold Rush, The Great Dictator, The Circus, The Kid, Limelight

40. Mikhail Kalatozov (cinematically active 1927 – 1969, Russia)
Greatest Works: Letter Never Sent, The Cranes are Flying, I am Cuba

39. Alejandro Jodorowsky (cinematically active 1957 – present, Mexico)
Greatest Works: The Holy Mountain, El Topo, Endless Poetry, Santa Sangre

38. Stan Brackhage (cinematically active 1952 – 2004, US)
Greatest Works: The Act of Seeing with One’s Own Eyes, Dog Star Man, Mothlight, Window Water Baby Moving

37. Dario Argento (cinematically active 1970 – present, Italy)
Greatest Works: Deep Red, Suspiria, the Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Phenomena, Opera, Tenebrae

36. Ritwik Ghatak (cinematically active 1951 – 1977, India)
Greatest Works: A River Called Titus, The Cloud-Capped Star, Subarnarekha

35. Masahiro Shinoda (cinematically active 1960 – 2003, Japan)
Greatest Works: Pale Flower, Double Suicide, Assassination, Himiko, Captive’s Island, Silence, Under the Blossoming Cherry Trees

34. Wong Kar-Wai (cinematically active 1988 – present, Hong Kong)
Greatest Works: In the Mood for Love, Chungking Express, 2046, Happy Together, Days of Being Wild

33. David Cronenburg (cinematically active 1966 – present, US)
Greatest Works: Dead Ringers, Crash, The Fly, Naked Lunch, A History of Violence, Eastern Promises, Spider

32. Roman Polanski (cinematically active 1962 – present, Poland)
Greatest Works: Chinatown, Knife in the Water, Repulsion, The Pianist, The Tenant

31. Werner Herzog (cinematically active 1962 – present, Germany)
Greatest Works: Nosferatu the Vampyre, Grizzly Man, Aguirre Wrath of God, La Soufrière, Woyzeck

30. Terence Malick (cinematically active 1973 – present, US)
Greatest Works: The Thin Red Line, The New World, The Tree of Life, Badlands, Days of Heaven

29. David Lynch (cinematically active 1977 – present, US)
Greatest Works: Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, The Elephant Man, Eraserhead

28. Robert Bresson (cinematically active 1934 – 1983, France)
Greatest Works: A Man Escaped, au hasard Balthazar, Pickpocket, Four Nights a Dreamer, Diary of a Country Priest

27. Sergio Leone (cinematically active 1946 – 1984, Italy)
Greatest Works: Once Upon a Time in America, Once Upon a Time in the West, the Good the Bad & the Ugly, For a Few Dollars More

26. Sam Peckinpah (cinematically active 1958 – 2004, US)
Greatest Works: Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, Straw Dogs, the Wild Bunch, Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, The Killer Elite, Cross of Iron, Ride the High Country

25. Krzysztof Kieślowski (cinematically active 1966 – 1993, Poland)
Greatest Works: Dekalog I, Three Colours Red, Three Colours Blue, Dekalog VI, Camera Buff

24. Michael Powell + Emeric Pressburger (cinematically active 1940 – 1960, UK)
Greatest Works: The Life & Death of Col. Blimp, The Red Shoes, A Matter of Life & Death, The Tales of Hoffman, Black Narcissus, A Canterbury Tale, Peeping Tom

23. William Friedkin (cinematically active 1962 – present, US)
Greatest Works: The Exorcist, The French Connection, Sorcerer, To Live & Die in L.A, Bug, Cruising, Killer Joe

22. Glauber Rocha (cinematically active 1959 – 1980, Brazil)
Greatest Works: Black God White Devil, Land in Anguish, the Age of the Earth, Antonio Das Mortes, Barravento

21. Carl Theodor Dreyer (cinematically active 1919 – 1964, Denmark)
Greatest Works: Ordet, The Passion of Joan of Arc, Vampyr, Day of Wrath, Gertrud 

20. Jean Renoir (cinematically active 1925 – 1970, France)
Greatest Works: The Rules of the Game, La Grande Illusion, A Day in the Country, La Bête Humaine, The River

19. Larisa Shepitko (cinematically active 1966 – 1979, Russia)
Greatest Works: The Ascent, Wings

18. Andrzej Żuławski (cinematically active 1969 – 2015, Poland)
Greatest Works: On the Silver Globe, Diabel, The Third Part of the Night, Cosmos, Possession

17. Buster Keaton (cinematically active 1917 – 1966, US)
Greatest Works: The General, The Cameraman, Sherlock Jr., Steamboat Bill Jr., Our Hospitality, Seven Chances

16. Yasujirō Ozu (cinematically active 1927 – 1962, Japan)
Greatest Works: Late Spring, An Autumn Afternoon, Tokyo Story, Tokyo Twilight, Floating Weeds, I Was Born But…

15. Michael Mann (cinematically active 1981 – present, US)
Greatest Works: The Insider, Heat, Thief, Last of the Mohicans, Miami Vice, Collateral, Ali

14. Akira Kurosawa (cinematically active 1941 – 1993, Japan)
Greatest Works: High & Low, Seven Samurai, Rashomon, Throne of Blood, Ran

13. František Vláčil (cinematically active 1950 – 1988, Czech Republic)
Greatest Works: Marketa Lazarová, The Valley of the Bees

12. Elem Kilmov (cinematically active 1959 – 1985, Russia)
Greatest Works: Come & See, Farewell, Agony

11. Hiroshi Teshigahara (cinematically active 1953 – 1992, Japan)
Greatest Works: Woman in the Dunes, The Face of Another, Pitfall, The Man Without a Map

10. F.W Murnau (cinematically active 1919 – 1931, Germany)
Greatest Works: Sunrise: a Song of Two Humans, The Last Laugh, Faust, Nosferatu: Symphony of Fear, Taboo

9. Miklós Jancsó (cinematically active 1950 – 2012, Hungary)
Greatest Works: The Red & The White, The Round-Up, Red Psalm, Elektra My Love, Silence and Cry

8. Ingmar Bergman (cinematically active 1946 – 2003, Sweden)
Greatest Works: Persona, Fanny & Alexander, The Seventh Seal, Winter Light, Through a Glass Darkly, Cries & Whispers, Wild Strawberries, Hour of the Wolf

7. Béla Tarr (cinematically active 1978 – 2011, Hungary)
Greatest Works: Sátántangó, Werckmeister Harmonies, The Turin Horse, Damnation, Autumn Almanac

6. Masakai Kobayashi (cinematically active 1952 – 1985, Japan)
Greatest Works: Harakiri, Samurai Rebellion, The Human Condition, Kwaidan

5. Víctor Erice (cinematically active 1961 – present, Spain)
Greatest Works: Spirit of the Beehive, El Sur

4. Alain Resnais (cinematically active 1936 – 2014, France)
Greatest Works: Hiroshima mon amour, Last Year at Marienbad, Night & Fog, Providence, Muriel, Je T’aime Je T’aime, Mon Oncle Amerique

3. Theo Angelopoulos (cinematically active 1970 – 2008, Greece)
Greatest Works: The Travelling Players, Landscape in the Mist, Alexander the Great, The Hunters, The Weeping Meadow, Eternity & a Day, Reconstruction

2. Jean-Pierre Melville (cinematically active 1949 – 1972, France)
Greatest Works: Army of Shadows, Le Cercle Rouge, Le Samouraï, Le Silence de la Mer, Second Breath, Le Doulos

1. Andrei Tarkovsky (cinematically active 1962 – 1986, Russia)
Greatest Works: Andrei Rublev, Mirror, Stalker, Nostalghia, Solaris, Ivan’s Childhood

 Ooowowwhatatreathowaboutsomefunfactskillme
- The most prolific director here is Stan Brackhage, who directed 377 shorts over the course of 52 years.
- The director with the most ‘great works’ is Ingmar Bergman, with eight.
- The directors with the fewest ‘great works’ are Larisa Shepitko, František Vláčil and Víctor Erice- all with two.
- The longest career on show is that of Alain Resnais, who worked relentlessly over the course of 80 years. He directed his first short film when he was twelve years old.
- The most recent director, Nuri Blige Ceylan, started working in 1995. The oldest, Charlie Chaplin, began in 1914.
- The countries that produced the most ranked directors were the US (12), France (7) and Japan (7). The Japanese ranked the highest overall with a cluster of four in the top 16.