Spectrum Check

I had a fairly busy week with Spectrum Culture. I had two different pieces post in the music review area, beginning with a consideration of the the first solo album from Sophia Knapp. The second review I wrote this week was probably more significant: the new album from Bruce Springsteen. I like the record quite a bit–probably more than anything he’s put out since 1995’s The Ghost of Tom Joad–which was a bit of a relief. It gave me a chance to make up for trashing The Boss in an earlier List Inconsequential feature, which felt like a bit of a betrayal against my fellow Bruce-devoted friends from back in college. I probably need to reach out to some of those individuals personally and see if I can get some of my demerits erased.

I had a week off from new movie reviews, but I was handed the last entry in our Ouevre series on Samuel Fuller. The site’s editor-in-chief needed to track down a pirated digital version of it for me because it’s not really available through other means, presumably as a bit of mercy towards the memory of Fuller. It’s brutally bad. Here are the quotes I made a point of writing down but couldn’t incorporate into the essay: “When a professional screws an amateur, everything goes wrong, chemically,” “You’re my brother, Meathead. Mom would never talk to me any more if I had you killed,” and “I’m getting combat pay in pennies.”

Spectrum Check

I reviewed two very different films for Spectrum Culture this week. First, I tackled a new release, writing a review of the new film from Valérie Donzelli, which was France’s official entry to the Best Foreign Film category at this year’s Oscars. Like everyone else, I’m certain that A Separation is going to win the trophy, and I trust the critical consensus that deems the film the worthiest of the honor. But the other nominees must have been damn good to keep this effort from the final nomination list.

The other film I covered couldn’t have been more different. We’re now well into the Oeuvre series covering the films of Samuel Fuller, one by one. At the beginning, all of the writers are invited to submit a list of the five films we personally want to cover and then a schedule is cobbled together from that. When I saw that Fuller directed an obscure movie at the tail-end of the nineteen-sixties that starred Burt Reynolds and went by the title Shark! (among others), well I knew I had one of the movies that I’d be writing on. I figured that there was a good chance it would be, at worst, an entertaining disaster. I had that half right.

Spectrum Check

So I’ve been a pretty bad kid. I’ve just been sitting on a couple music reviews, which are now both overdue. It’s not just neglect–I have had a strangely busy week–but I’m still is desperate need of some concerted time with the releases in question. Between that and some difficulty is securing a specific screener copy of a movie, I had another fairly light week at Spectrum Culture. At least I feel good about my lone contribution.

In general, I really like writing for our Oeuvre feature, and I had my third contribution to our ongoing survey of the films of Samuel Fuller. I wrote on China Gate, which, honestly, wasn’t very good. In its own way, that’s an especially interesting challenge, and I like the piece I pulled together. I’ve got a couple more efforts to which I’m obligated before we’re done with Fuller, and the next one promises to be a real doozy.

Spectrum Check

So I spent a good portion of this week feeling pretty ill. That’s ill in a lying in bed moaning all day way rather than a nineties fresh beats rap way. I don’t know that my condition compromised my writing at all this week, but let’s just say it’s a little more difficult to write a review of a deliberately languid, existentially fraught Russian mood piece under those circumstances.

My other piece of film writing was for the latest entry in our Oeuvre series on Samuel Fuller. After writing on one of his touchstone war pictures, I got a chance to review a crime thriller virtually shimmering with classic film noir style. It always takes a little extra restraint on my part to not simply spend my allotment of words repeatedly quoting tart, sharp lines of dialogue. I did manage to slip one characteristic exchange in there.

Finally, I tiptoed into a new area, writing a concert review for the first time. And I don’t just mean for the first time on Spectrum. I believe this is first time I’ve ever tried to encapsulate a concert-going experience into words more elaborate than, “Yeah, it was awesome.” (I’m usually a little more articulate than that, but the general point remains valid.) It was very odd to be sitting there in the venue scribbling down notes–I was never going to remember the details of the set list without it–and there are plenty of instances when the value of the free tickets isn’t going to outweigh my preference to just lean back and enjoy the show. Still, I surely wouldn’t have see a good Cut Copy show without this avenue. The next pricey ticket I have my eye on is in late November. We’ll see.

Spectrum Check

My posted work came entirely from the movie beat this week. I started with a French film that was a little wisp of of a thing. It may have sometimes felt like a foreign film softened into an American sitcom but it also featured Gérard Depardieu, who remains a marvelous actor, at least in his mother tongue, despite his recent unseemly exploits that made him the fodder for silly jokes.

I also reviews a documentary about the Black Power Movement of the late-sixties and early-seventies. It had some basic structural flaws, but much of the footage was amazing. Angela Davis, in particular, comes across as a wildly charismatic figure. A strong documentary that’s just about her is greatly needed.

Finally, I made my first contribution to the new round in our ongoing Oeuvre series, this time tracking through the films of Samuel Fuller. He’s one of those towering old figures of Hollywood that the cool kids gravitate towards, but I’m woefully incomplete in my viewings of his work so this will be a perfect impetus for me to play catch-up. As it rolls along, I was also finally get the chance to review a Burt Reynolds movie for the site.