Dedicated to classics and hits.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Venue Review: El Dorado Cocktail Lounge 1030 Broadway San Diego

This is the exterior of El Dorado Cocktail Lounge, located at 1030 Broadway San Diego 92101.

Venue Review:
El Dorado Cocktail Lounge 
1030 Broadway San Diego 92101

  I've been in a jury trial for the last two weeks.  The subject of this trial is a fight that happened in the heart of the Gaslamp district after closing time on a Saturday night.  If you don't already know, most of what a trial lawyer does during a two week trial consists of sitting very still with his/her hands steepled in front, staring straight ahead.  Being overly emotive or twitchy is frowned upon.  It turns out that sitting directly in front of my line of sight for the last two weeks has been a map I made of where this activity took place- a map of the Gaslamp.  So I've been sitting perfectly still, and thinking about little else besides the Gaslamp for the last two weeks.
This is the interior of El Dorado Cocktail Lounge, 1030 Broadway San Diego, dj booth is at the end there.

 And to be honest, I think I've been pretty unfair and judgey about the whole area.  Condescending? Yes.  Up Tight? Yes. After all, there are many simpatico traits between the Gaslamp and what I do- first of all- there is a lot of crime- a lot of DUI's start in the Gaslamp, fist fights, drug busts, etc.  Second of all, there is an Audience for live music (if you count DJ's in that category, and I do.)  Third of all, plenty of hot chicks.

  Another bonus is I can walk to the Gaslamp from my house, so I don't need to worry about drinking and driving.  Also, the prospect of waiting in line and NOT getting into a show would be the most novel experience of my life, and I would be just as happy, so there is no down side to getting there super duper late.

  I've been to El Dorado on multiple occasions for their excellent Happy Hour where craft Cocktails are five bucks a pop, AND DELICIOUS, but I'd never been to a bonkers DJ night there, and when I saw, on Facebook, that Dam Funk was playing a DJ set at El Dorado on Wednesday night I was like, "Well ok."

  Got there around 11 PM and it was already bonkers so I walked down the street to Chee Chees, which used to be San Diego's most disgusting dive bar but post-crack down has been transformed into...a regular dive bar.  It's not the true Chee Chees experience unless there is a pack of shit faced trannies holding court, and that was regrettably not on offer Wednesday night, but it was a good place to actually drink vs. El Dorado- which was a mob scene.

  Returning at midnight for the headlining DJ set, got in after a five minute wait in line because people were already leaving.  Inside it was wall to wall, managed to carve out a spot on the dance floor and soak in the vibe...which was... generally cool/normal looking girls and A LOT of bros in ball caps.  Who wears a baseball hat when they go out?  Street fashion aside, it seems so insane to wear a hat to a place where you know it will be hot and sweaty.

  Dam Funk was playing a high energy Funk centered set, with some vintage hip hop (Check the Rhyme, anyone? anyone?) the crowd was digging it and getting funky with a few trainspotters intermingled (for the purposes of these review I myself am a trainspotter.   I made it about 30 minutes before my companion complained about a headache and we had to go.  I would repate the Chee Chee's/ El Dorado pairing- the key being not arriving at El Dorado until about midnight to insure a minimum of waiting for the headlining DJ.

  Now tonight there are a couple intriguing propositions- Jaytech at Voyeur and Xzibit(!) at Stingaree. Of course, you can never go to a hip hop performance at a night club, you are asking to be disappointed. Straight up rap CONCERTS are bad enough.  Which leaves Voyeur. Talk about diving into the deep end of the pool head first.

And God Created Woman (1956) d. Roger Vadim

Brigitte Bardot, bomb shell.

And God Created Woman
 d. Roger Vadim
Criterion Collection #77

  It's funny how films and novels are both treated with the same level of respect by critics because, let's face it, any moron can watch a movie- even a really hard to understand movie- whereas that same person is roughly one thousand times less likely to read a 400 page 19th century novel.  There's just no comparison. Really, you should watch a movie twice through to give it something close to the same weight as a novel.
Brigitte Bardot 

   And God Created Woman is the first Criterion Collection title where it's a performance that drives the release.  Here, it is Brigitte Bardot as the scandalous orphan Juliette.  This film was a smash international hit and introduced Bardot to a global audience (although it was her 33rd film.)  Truly, it is one of the most eye popping performances by an actress you are ever likely to see.  And to think that this film was released in 1956.  YOWZA.  She must have blown minds in the USA.
Brigitte Bardot

 One reason that And God Created Woman is NOT in the Criterion Collection is director Roger Vadim.  He is strictly a one hit wonder from the perspective of the Criterion Collection- he has zero other films in the Collection- Barabrella, anyone?  No?  Not sure what happened with him.  He sounds like a monster according to the accompanying Criterion Collection critical essay by Chuck Stephens.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Sisters (1973) d. Brian De Palma

This is an example of the split screen technique that Brian De Palma uses in Sisters (1973) to generate narrative tension

Movie Review
d. Brian De Palma
Criterion Collection #89

  Film director Brian De Palma, Auteur? Hollywood Hack? Both? Neither?  It's a question which has sorely vexed an entire generation of film critics, but certainly his work during the 1990s, which included Mission Impossible (1993), Snake Eyes (1996) and Mission to Mars (2000) pushed the argument towards the "Hollywood Hack" side of the argument.   As someone who essentially formed his taste during that decade, it was hard to square the De Palma of Scarface and Carlito's Ways with the De Palma of MI/Snake Eyes/Mission to Mars.  It's not so much that he made those movies, it's that he made those movies with so little passion or flair it was like watching a robot De Palma direct- or not direct, as in the case of Nicolas Cage's lead performance in Snake Eyes.
Brian De Palma used black and white film to shoot dream sequences in Sisters (1973) here we see Kidder attached to her Siamese twin, with her future husband Emil pictured in the background.

 Any auteur who signs up for a Nic Cage action picture set in a Vegas casino is clearly a man who gives exactly no fucks about his critical reputation, so I guess, ultimately, you can't blame him for being involved in a movie that literally embodies every crappy stereotype about Hollywood high concept film making in a single picture.
This is what Margot Kidder looked like in 1973 when she was shooting Sisters directed by Brian De Palma.

 I was pleased to watch Sisters (1973), and early pre-Scarface film that brought him to the attention of the mass audience in America.  Sisters saw a Quebec-ois accent sporting Margot Kidder as Model/Actress/Recovering Siamese Twin Danielle Breton.  When a one night stand she picks up is murdered in her apartment, Danielle, her creepy ex-husband Emil (played by Bill Finley) and local Staten Island investigative newspaper journalist Grace Collier are swept into a psychic horror show.  To describe much more would ruin the "twist"- and I do recommend this film to watch.

  It is easy to see the directorial techniques that brought De Palma to wider attention after this film.  Particularly, he uses the split screen to simultaneously show actions taking place in two different places at the same time.  This serves to compress the run time and heightens the tension relative to the standard technique of cutting between the two locations in alternating takes.
Margot Kidder as erstwhile Siamese twin Danielle Breton in Sisters (1973), directed by Brian De Palma.

 Also notable is the score by frequent Hitchcock collaborator Bernard Herrmann.  It's a nice touch that adds some depth to the flat Staten Island location shots.  Finally, Sisters goes totally off the rails in the last 1/3rd of the film and it is worth sticking around to that point just to see De Palma go bonkers.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Dirty Beaches Interview in Liberation


  France may still be the third or fourth biggest market in terms of actual sales for Dirty Beaches and Crocodiles, but it is the second largest market in terms of actual numerical fans to the United States for both groups.

The Nose by Nikolai Gogol

The Nose

Book Review
The Nose
by Nikolai Gogol
p. 1836
Read in Diary of a Madman and Other Stories, Penguin Classics Edition

  This is another one where I had to actually break down and buy the book.  The Nose is an early short story by Nikolai Gogol- mid 1830s, and it's probably the shortest entry on the entire 1001 Books To Read Before You Die list. I'm interested to see how the list handles the increased popularity of the short story in mid 20th century literature.  Personally I am NOT a fan of the format: It's like getting a 7" of a band- great as far as it goes but how much time can it possibly occupy?

A human nose.

 That being said it's clear why this short story, written in the 1830s, would be included because the surrealist tone is way ahead of comparable literature.  This is probably the first entry on the entire list, chronologically speaking,  that would pass as work of modernist fiction.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Vagabond (1985) d. Agnès Varda

Agnès Varda

Movie Review
Vagabond (1985)
d. Agnès Varda
Criterion Collection #74

  Vagabond is not a "fun" watch.  It starts out with the Vagabond in question dead, frozen to death in a ditch so you get to watch the entire movie wondering "is this THE ditch where she dies, or just another ditch that this poor young woman has to trek through in the faceless French landscape.

 Agnès Varda also directed Cleo From 5 to 7, which was released in 1962 and Vagabond is conclusive prove that Varda did not lose the plot Francis Ford Coppola in the 90s style.
 Agnès Varda

  Sometimes I watch these Criterion Collection titles and read the accompanying essay at the Criterion Collection site and I'm tempted to simply provide the link and leave it at that because the essay is so good.  I wish there was a comparable site for the 1001 Books To Read Before You Die, but of course that series doesn't make critical editions, or editions at all, it's just a list.

  Varda had a back ground in photojournalism and documentary film when she made Cleo From 5 to 7 and if you look at her IMDB Director credits the documentaries and shorts overwhelm the features.

  The more titles I watch out of the Criterion Collection, the more I appreciate the revolutionary ramifications of the collaboration between streaming film and the appreciation of the history of cinema.  In 2013, we take for granted that all music from all time should be available for free instantly, but when it comes to film that is simply not true.  It's certainly not available for free, if it's available at all.  The very existence of the Criterion Collection essentially demonstrates the flaws in the existing system for distributing film art, so it's natural that bringing the Criterion Collection to streaming video via Hulu Plus would represent the correction of those flaws.

 And it does.  One of the major reasons I don't like films as much as novels is because the good ones are hard to find and often expensive to watch.  Criterion Collection on Hulu Plus solves that, instantly, for eight bucks a month.  For me, just trying to sit still and watch reality television with someone is enough to drive me batty.  I have to mentally restrain myself from leaving the room.  If you're going to suffer through that experience, why not make it a classic movie instead? Bad Girls Club Atlanta and Vagabond: They both make me super uncomfortable, but I feel better at the end of Vagabond.

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