Wednesday, October 31, 2018


postscript: Chuck Eddy chirps in with commentary about the nostalgia overload in pop, with folks simultaneously ransacking and remembrancing the Eighties, Nineties and the early 2000s

too much pop past innit

retro (on the) gaming

a piece by Dr Kate Lister on those prostitute micro-ads in phone boxes, which have now become part of urban history - collectibles

Thursday, October 18, 2018

La La Lame / Blah Blah Bland

I knew there were good reasons why I hated the movie, I just didn't know there were so many

From a Bright Lights Film Journal essay by Richard A. Voeltz, titled “The Joke’s on History”: Retro-Reality, Twee, and Mediated Nostalgia in La La Land (2016):

"La La Land is more of a composite remake; even better, an archive, where Chazelle cleverly uses a combination of parody, homage, and nostalgia to continue, remake, and reimagine nostalgic themes or franchises established in earlier times that places it in the epistemological category of the nostalgic remake as defined by Lizardi that blocks engagement with the past or present.... “La La Land ultimately feels bloated by its references, by the mad rush to imitate all Chazelle’s inspirations,” writes Christos Tsiolkas. 

"The movie opens with the old CinemaScope logo in a similar way that Quentin Tarantino pays homage to the movies that he is imitating. The shooting of the film in CinemaScope is important because “the technique represented a groundbreaking new widescreen process that revolutionized filmmaking in the 1950s,” which explains why aesthetically the film manages to look like a classic movie-musical even when it’s just panning across a modern-day traffic jam at the beginning of the film.25 This is a film that draws on classic musicals and films that most people would only know from watching TCM religiously: Singin’ in the Rain (1952), Top Hat (1935), Shall We Dance (1937), The Band Wagon (1953), Broadway Melody (1936), An American in Paris (1951), An Affair to Remember (1957), West Side Story (1961), Bogie Nights (1997), Funny Face (1957), Moulin Rouge (2001), and Sweet Charity (1969) among many others. Sara Preciado has, in fact, compiled a YouTube video comparing scenes from La La Land with ones from these famous musicals.26 Rebel Without a Cause (1955) also plays a significant role in the film. Even Annie Hall (1977), Pulp Fiction (1994), and 8 ½ (1963) make the list. But none resonate as much as Jacques Demy’s The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) and his lesser-known The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967). Demy’s Umbrellas provides not only inspiration for the plot, ending, along with the 1927 silent film 7th Heaven, and music of La La Land, but also for Chazelle’s use of vibrant colors of blue, red, green, and yellow in the cinematography."


"Sebastian drives a 1982 Buick Riviera convertible and listens to music on a tape deck. He plays vinyl jazz records at home. And the needle-scraping ending of such records figures prominently as a metaphor for his relationship with Mia winding down as well. Early in the movie, a dinner conversation between Mia’s then boyfriend Greg, his brother, and his wife deals with the subject of “nowadays theatres … they’re so dirty – and they’re either too hot or too cold – always people talking.” When Mia and Sebastian meet at the vintage Rialto* theatre in Pasadena, later shown as closed (Chazelle loved the old red velvet seats), to see Rebel Without a Cause, the celluloid film during the scene of the drive up to the Griffith Park Observatory melts in the projector. This is a retro-intertextual reminder of when the film burns in the middle of Ingmar Bergman’s Persona (1966)"

Yeah it's just pure pastiche puke from start to finish... meta upon meta...  and these quotes are just a fraction of Voeltz's inventory of the ways in which La La sucks

But the other thing, though - the real failing is on a much more basic level. It harks back to a golden age of song and dance movies, but the dancing is not very good and the songs aren't much cop either.  If you're going to resurrect the lost golden age then you have to compete with Singin' in the Rain, High Society and West Side Story, on the toon and tap front... 

 * that Rialto Theatre  is just up the road from us in South Pas..  was where a crucial scene from The Player was filmed (so that layers even more retro-referentialism)...  was a ghost cinema for a long while...  has recently been refurbished, but not to show pictures: on Sundays it hosts the "hipster church" Mosaic

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

remembering the last days of collecting

Pitchfork's Jeremy D. Larson on the imminent rebooting of Winamp and feeling wistful about a lost pre-stream moment "when MP3 were collectibles, like bugs or baseball cards":

"I’m not saying that I miss Winamp, the popular ’90s shareware program that is being rebooted like “Will & Grace” and “The Connors” (née “Roseanne”). But what its revival makes me realize are the manifold ways in which I have let the actual connection to the definite article of music fall by the wayside. Somewhere between paying $10 a month for access to everything that’s happening in music right now and buying physical LPs to fill up the space in my heart evacuated by digital culture, there is the memory of the halcyon days of downloading MP3s, pirating music, ripping CDs onto my computer, making CD-Rs for my car, making CD-RWs for my friends. It was a liminal ownership of music. I miss that, that last moment where it felt like I had some fleeting connection with digital music."

I don't miss CD-Rs - horrid things, especially when in paper sleeves.

But yeah, streaming - it's hard to establish any attachment to music in those conditions, or even to remember what you've listened to already, what you want to go back to, etc. 

My compensation strategies include assembling monstrously large playlists on Spotify that in 19 out of 20 cases I never ever return to.  That's a form of quasi-collection - setting yourself a listening task, a genre or a single artist's whole oeuvre gathered in one spot, that would be absurdly daunting (day after day of continuous listening) if it were not INSTANTLY unappetising the moment you've completed the 22 album long playlist -  any originating impulse of curiosity or desire snuffed by the dismal drag-and-click process of pulling together its contents.

But I am actually still harvesting MP3s - valueless little clots of sound-data in themselves, but that still accrue some marginal trace of libidinal investment on account of the foraging effort expended, plus a faint after-image of libido-stirring obscurity (as with the MP3s I audio-strip off of YouTube and Vimeo - impossibly hard to find, or never ever released even in this age of releasing everything, like the soundtracks on obscure experimental films and animations, especially East European animations).