M.Ross.

Books, movies, music. as they are digested.

I sometimes write music reviews and features for this publication.
Feel free to submit items for review to:
19 Kensington, Pleasant Ridge, MI, 48069, or cactuswax41[at]yahoo[dot]com.
I can't guarantee that the Metro Times will publish the review, but what doesn't end up there will end up here.

6th March 2012

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Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Rust Never Sleeps
Pretty awesome.  1978.  Acoustic, the Horse, giant things and Jawas.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Rust Never Sleeps

Pretty awesome.  1978.  Acoustic, the Horse, giant things and Jawas.

Tagged: neil youngcrazy horserust never sleeps1978music

6th March 2012

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Tim Buckley - Dolphins

live on the Old Grey Whistle Test, 1974.

Tagged: tim buckleydolphinsold grey whistle test

6th March 2012

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The Old Grey Whistle Test Volume 2
Honestly, this is one of those unfortunate cases where it’s obvious why these performances weren’t selected for Volume 1.  Second-tier performers and second-tier performances from first-tier acts.  That said, there’s still some great stuff here.  Roxy Music, a great solo performance of Disney Girls by Bruce Johnston, The Pogues … and the piece de resistance, Tim Buckley and his band doing Dolphins in 1974.  It’s good - it’s just not as marvelously consistent as Volume 1.  And man, the Meatloaf segment is really hard to watch.

The Old Grey Whistle Test Volume 2

Honestly, this is one of those unfortunate cases where it’s obvious why these performances weren’t selected for Volume 1.  Second-tier performers and second-tier performances from first-tier acts.  That said, there’s still some great stuff here.  Roxy Music, a great solo performance of Disney Girls by Bruce Johnston, The Pogues … and the piece de resistance, Tim Buckley and his band doing Dolphins in 1974.  It’s good - it’s just not as marvelously consistent as Volume 1.  And man, the Meatloaf segment is really hard to watch.

Tagged: old grey whistle test

5th March 2012

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Man Bites Dog, 1992, directed by Remy Belvaux, Andre Bonzel, Benoit Poelvoorde
This film made me feel incredibly filthy.  After watching I felt I needed two showers, and to scrub everything else unfortunate to be in the living room. 
Of course, I watched it last night around 2am deep in a fever between bouts of hurling, so an already striking film was that much amplified.  But the central points are still true: Benoit is a despicable human being.  And the complicit filmmakers are just as bad.
I’m getting ahead of myself, though.  This French black & white faux-documentary about a gregarious, intelligent man beloved by his friends, a patron of the arts, a sensitive musician who, above all else, happens to be a ruthless and shameless serial killer is really difficult to watch, and then it ends and you’ve gone ahead and watched the damn thing and are wondering why.  The shaky documentary style makes the violence ultra-realistic, all the worse for Benoit’s nonchalance and lack of any regard as he talks over the day’s killings (most of which occurred in broad daylight) loudly and drunkenly to his “friends” (whom, it seems by the end, remain friends with him only out of fear of being taken out themselves).  Children, the elderly, postmen - doesn’t matter.  The only second thoughts come when trying to decide how to dispose of the bodies.
Anyway, it certainly didn’t help my fever, and now it’s making me feel icky all over again.

Man Bites Dog, 1992, directed by Remy Belvaux, Andre Bonzel, Benoit Poelvoorde

This film made me feel incredibly filthy.  After watching I felt I needed two showers, and to scrub everything else unfortunate to be in the living room. 

Of course, I watched it last night around 2am deep in a fever between bouts of hurling, so an already striking film was that much amplified.  But the central points are still true: Benoit is a despicable human being.  And the complicit filmmakers are just as bad.

I’m getting ahead of myself, though.  This French black & white faux-documentary about a gregarious, intelligent man beloved by his friends, a patron of the arts, a sensitive musician who, above all else, happens to be a ruthless and shameless serial killer is really difficult to watch, and then it ends and you’ve gone ahead and watched the damn thing and are wondering why.  The shaky documentary style makes the violence ultra-realistic, all the worse for Benoit’s nonchalance and lack of any regard as he talks over the day’s killings (most of which occurred in broad daylight) loudly and drunkenly to his “friends” (whom, it seems by the end, remain friends with him only out of fear of being taken out themselves).  Children, the elderly, postmen - doesn’t matter.  The only second thoughts come when trying to decide how to dispose of the bodies.

Anyway, it certainly didn’t help my fever, and now it’s making me feel icky all over again.

Tagged: man bites dog1992flicks

28th February 2012

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Make Way for Tomorrow, 1937, directed by Leo McCarey
When Peter Bogdanovich asked Orson Welles if he’d ever seen this movie, Orson’s response was something along the lines of “OH MY GOD!! THAT IS THE SADDEST MOVIE EVER MADE!!!”  
I’m not really gonna disagree.

Make Way for Tomorrow, 1937, directed by Leo McCarey

When Peter Bogdanovich asked Orson Welles if he’d ever seen this movie, Orson’s response was something along the lines of “OH MY GOD!! THAT IS THE SADDEST MOVIE EVER MADE!!!”  

I’m not really gonna disagree.

Tagged: make way for tomorrowcriterion collection1937leo mccarey

26th February 2012

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My Dinner With Andre, 1981, directed by Louis Malle
A pretty great movie; who’d have thunk two people eating dinner could be revelatory?  Also, Princess Bride casting director Jane Jenkins insisted on putting Wallace Shawn into that flick based almost solely on his pronunciation of the word “inconceivable” in this one.

My Dinner With Andre, 1981, directed by Louis Malle

A pretty great movie; who’d have thunk two people eating dinner could be revelatory?  Also, Princess Bride casting director Jane Jenkins insisted on putting Wallace Shawn into that flick based almost solely on his pronunciation of the word “inconceivable” in this one.

Tagged: my dinner with andrelouis mallewallace shawn1981flicksandre gregory

26th February 2012

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I Drink Your Blood, 1970, directed by David Durston
Hippies are turning into zombies as the 60s become the 70s!  Decent people, run for your lives!

I Drink Your Blood, 1970, directed by David Durston

Hippies are turning into zombies as the 60s become the 70s!  Decent people, run for your lives!

Tagged: i drink your blooddavid durston1970hippies

26th February 2012

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Captain Ron, 1992, directed by Thom Eberhardt
Okay, now I know why everybody loves Kurt Russell?  This is sort of like King Ralph, but on a lower tier.

Captain Ron, 1992, directed by Thom Eberhardt

Okay, now I know why everybody loves Kurt Russell?  This is sort of like King Ralph, but on a lower tier.

Tagged: captain ron1992flicks

26th February 2012

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Henry Fool, 1998, directed by Hal Hartley
Kinda turns from one movie into another!  But they’re both good!  I couldn’t think of where I’d seen James Urbaniak before until he said something in this weird snide tone … and then I remembered he played Bob Crumb in American Splendor - marvelously!

Henry Fool, 1998, directed by Hal Hartley

Kinda turns from one movie into another!  But they’re both good!  I couldn’t think of where I’d seen James Urbaniak before until he said something in this weird snide tone … and then I remembered he played Bob Crumb in American Splendor - marvelously!

Tagged: henry foolhal hartley1998flicks

18th February 2012

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Graceland, by Chris Abani (2004 Picador)
This novel presents a life fraught with tribulation for a teenager living in Nigeria in the late ’70s - early ’80s.  The tales of political corruption on every level, crushing poverty and rampant depravity are eye-opening for sure, but the story seems to sort of periodically lose itself.  Conversations are often trite and unrealistic, and protagonist Elvis seems really detached from everything happening to himself and the people around him - which maybe serves to illustrate the ubiquity of violence in the Nigerian ghetto, but it undercuts the story by making it hard to care for the character specifically even while being disgusted at the state of affairs generally.
Still, I’m glad I read it, and I’d read another of Abani’s books - I think he’s a dynamic writer who’ll get better with each pass.

Graceland, by Chris Abani (2004 Picador)

This novel presents a life fraught with tribulation for a teenager living in Nigeria in the late ’70s - early ’80s.  The tales of political corruption on every level, crushing poverty and rampant depravity are eye-opening for sure, but the story seems to sort of periodically lose itself.  Conversations are often trite and unrealistic, and protagonist Elvis seems really detached from everything happening to himself and the people around him - which maybe serves to illustrate the ubiquity of violence in the Nigerian ghetto, but it undercuts the story by making it hard to care for the character specifically even while being disgusted at the state of affairs generally.

Still, I’m glad I read it, and I’d read another of Abani’s books - I think he’s a dynamic writer who’ll get better with each pass.

Tagged: gracelandchris abaninigeria2004books