31 January 2008

Hitchcock's Best: Notorious

This classic film from 1946, Notorious, has it all. Director Alfred Hitchcock and Screenwriter Ben Hecht are at their best. Ingrid Bergman is at her most luminous, starring next to Cary Grant in his prime. Supporting roles by Claude Rains and Madame Konstantin are exceptional. Hecht and Rains both received Academy Award nominations for their work.

The other star in Notorious is Rio de Janeiro in the '40s, one of the world's most visually gorgeous cities at the time.

If you own only one Hitchcock film, you can't go wrong with this one.

21 January 2008

The Funniest Book I Ever Read

Carl Hiaasen's Native Tongue (1991)

If you have never taken a dip into the mad, sleazy, funny world of journalist / novelist Carl Hiaasen, I would recommend starting here. If you already know Haissen's work, drop what you're doing and get your hands on this book.

When I read Native Tongue, I'd already read several of his novels so I knew what to expect -- I thought. I had no idea I was entering a humor hurricane, blowing me away about every five pages.

The Irish have a saying, "Happiness is a means of travel, not a destination." Native Tongue will make your journey through this crazy world all the more fun.

15 January 2008

The Grievious Angel and the Earthbound Angel

In the early 1970's, Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris collaborated in such a remarkable way that Parsons' untimely death in 1973 left both enormous unexplored possibilities, but also Emmylou trying to find a way to carry on. To this day, she has done so brilliantly.

On Gram Parsons and his influence on Emmylou Harris:

Album recommendation: Grievous Angel (Gram Parsons with Emmylou Harris (original cover credit changed upon posthumous release of Parsons' album), 1974). For an earlier post on Parsons, see here; on Harris, see here and here.

10 January 2008

Scorsese Makes His Stones Movie


Shine a Light is tentatively scheduled to be released on April 4, 2008, pending completion of post production. Shake your hips on down to what should be one of the best rock movies ever.

05 January 2008

"Django" Reinhardt: Jazz Guitar Master Without Peer

Belgian born Gypsy (Roma) jazz guitarist Jean Baptiste "Django" Reinhardt was the first significant jazz musician who was not American. He is one of, if not the best, guitar player I ever heard. But don't take my word for it, check out the Influence on and admiration by other musicians section of Wikipedia's essay. With little doubt, Django influenced elements of the popular music of every generation that followed his death in 1953.

Djangomania! covers not only the story of Django's life and work, but also tracks his influence today. Hats off, again, to the Sundance Channel for dedication to airing groundbreaking music documentaries.

Here's a little taste of Django and The Quintet of the Hot Club of France performing Minor Swing: