Welcome to the DFL's new go to blog about music and movies! Here at the Duxbury Free Library we have a wide array of movies in all genres from Action and Adventure to Comedy and Horror. We also have a ton of television shows including new seasons of True Blood, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and of course Downton Abbey. So if anyone is like me and is saddened by the demise of movie rental stores, fear not! The DFL is the place for all your video rental needs. As if a great selection of DVD's wasn't enough, the DFL also has a fantastic selection of CD's covering all styles of music from all eras. Be sure to check in and see reviews and write ups on some of the best music and movies, new and old, that the DFL has just waiting for you to take out

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Unbroken is Powerfully Motivational and Inspiring

        “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand was one of those books that EVERYONE read.  People couldn’t speak highly enough about this story of perseverance, determination, and heart.  Many hailed it as one of the best WWII stories ever told.  Thus, when the movie was announced people were anxious for a film which lived up to the emotional weight of the book.  I myself never read the novel, so I went in with fresh eyes.                
        Directed by Angelina Jolie, the film tells the story of Olympic runner Louis “Louie” Zamperini who spends 47 days adrift in the pacific aboard a small life raft after his bomber breaks down midflight and the crew is forced to ditch the plane.  Louie is eventually picked up by the Japanese and spends the remainder of the war in various POW camps.  Many critics felt the film didn’t live up to its full potential.  Most believed Jolie bit off more than she could chew and the opportunity for one of the greatest war films of a generation was lost.  Now again, I can’t speak to how accurately the movie represented the book but
I can say that I thought it was a stunning war film.  Starting off with Zamperini in the midst of a dangerous bombing mission, flashbacks show us a troubled boy who rose from a seemingly meaningless life to one of glory and greatness eventually running in the 1936 Olympics in Germany.  The film does a terrific job of showing how far someone can push themselves if they are determined to survive and succeed.  The hardship suffered by Louie over the course of his time at sea and eventual internment is beyond motivational.  The pain, hopelessness, and degradation he faces at the hands of his Japanese captors is unbearable to even conceive of.  And yet throughout it all he remains positive and committed to making it home one day.  His staunch determination is matched only by his love of others and his willingness to take the pain if it means keeping his co captives out of harm’s way.  A rivalry develops between Louie and a young Japanese officer in charge of the camp nicknamed “The Bird” who reminds him of the Japanese Olympians he encountered years before.  Now under very different circumstances, The Bird does everything in his power to break Zamperini’s spirit.  Despite coming so close to death on multiple occasions Louie is able to persevere.
        Near the start of the film, just after Louie gets on the train bound for the Olympics his older brother reminds him that a moment of pain is worth a lifetime of greatness.  This ends up being central to the film, always popping back up in your mind as you witness the horrors encountered by both Louie and the other prisoners.  In this way Louie’s running ends up being analogous to his experiences in that if you push yourself beyond what you thought capable, you can make it through anything.  Overall, I found the film to be not only uplifting but inspirational in a way I haven’t encountered in some time.  The critics can say what they will, but I think Unbroken will be considered one of the better war dramas of the 2010’s, no question.

New Podcast is Up!

Our 6th podcast is up on the Soundcloud!  For this episode we discuss musical genres and how they affect what we listen to.  We discuss whether or not you can take generic genre's like "Indie" at face value and if artists should reserve the right to call themselves what they feel best represents their art.  We dip briefly into the movie realm with a minor bit on actors getting typecast but stick to the tunes for this one primarily.  Check it out and let us know your opinion in the comments!!

What genre is that artist??

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Another Playlist!!

1. Life - Modern Hut
2. Black Books - Salem Wolves
3. Circle One - The Germs
4. Giant Steps - John Coltrane
5. Green Eyes - Coldplay
6. Tiny Dancer - Elton John
7. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1 - The Flaming Lips
8. Waiting for a Girl Like You - Foreigner
9. Region of Fire - JEFF the Brotherhood
10. Carnival - Bikini Kill

Whiplash Was a Violently Emotional Film

        Everyone I spoke to about the musical drama Whiplash had nothing but good things to say about the film.  That is was brilliantly acted, deeply emotional, and all around captivating in its intensity were just a few of the glowing remarks I’d heard about this seemingly random film which gained momentum after its premier at Sundance and eventually won several academy awards including a nom for Best Picture.           
       Based on the high school experiences of director Damien Chazelle, the films protagonist Andrew Neiman played by Miles Teller aspires to be one of the best jazz drummers of all time.  Idolizing the greats like Buddy Rich, Miles’ entire life revolves around his drum kit.  After Terrence Fletcher, an infamous teacher and conductor overhears Andrew practicing, he invites him to join his prestigious jazz band made up of the best musicians at the school.  Starting as alternate drummer, Andrew moves up and down the proverbial ladder jumping from core to alternate several times as he struggles to live up to the ridiculously high expectations of Fletcher who is constantly verbally and physically abusive.  J.K. Simmons deserved the Oscar win for Best Supporting Actor without a doubt.  His anger and rage is palpable and the response it evokes in the viewer is at times unsettling.  The way he treats his students is unacceptable, but it’s done in the interest of pushing the few who have the potential to become legends to the limits.  While you sympathize with Andrew has he struggles to be the best and to impress Fletcher, you can’t help but feel that the two were meant to work with each other.  Andrew wants history to remember him alongside his idols like Rich, and Fletcher is the kind of person who will help him achieve that.  After they have a falling out, Fletcher and Andrew meet at a jazz club where Fletcher explains his methodology by stating that the worst thing anyone can ever say to someone is “good job” implying that it only convinces the person to not push themselves further and the only way to become great is to never stop pushing yourself to be better. 
      While I agree the acting was top of the line and the drumming is other worldly, I wanted a little more from the film.  Andrew’s love interest is barely even relevant and felt like a wasted storyline.  The same goes for his father.  We find out almost nothing about Andrew’s past and his absent mother and while his father fills the roll of emotional support system, their relationship with each other is barely touched on leaving you feeling like the possibility for added emotional weight was missed.  The film clearly intended to focus solely on the relationship between Andrew and his teacher so the other “half storylines” feel unnecessary.  In the end if you like jazz music, Whiplash was a good movie.  If you like drumming, it was a superb movie.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Montage of Heck Lives Up to the Hype

                The day finally arrived.  Monday May 4th, the much anticipated and widely acclaimed Kurt Cobain documentary Montage of Heck premiered on HBO.  Named for a violently sporadic and twisted mixtape recorded by Cobain in 1988, the film garnered intensely positive reviews and as such, I was looking for a game changer.  A documentary which not only captured the man’s genius but also depicted the human element so often left out of Cobain and Nirvana documentaries in the past.  The film did not disappoint. 
               Consisting of hidden archival materials brought to the table for the first time by Cobain’s wife Courtney Love and daughter Francis Bean who was an executive producer, the film showed a side of Kurt which is often forgotten.  One that the history books gloss over with demented tales of drug abuse and emotional instability.  Segments of Cobain’s diaries juxtaposed over early demos of songs and haunting audio recorded by Cobain himself piece together a collage which showcases a man determined to be taken seriously, committed to feeling accepted, and above all else resolute in his need avoid humiliation. 
                Starting with home movies of the Cobain family in the early years, we see Kurt as a young and happy child sharing Christmas with family and always smiling.  Interviews with Cobain’s mother and father indicate a loving household, albeit one with a darker underside.  Kurt’s father Don wasn’t supportive of Kurt’s creativity and the verbal abuse he received from the man was something that stayed with him throughout his formative years.  After his parents’ divorce, Cobain spent much of his early adolescence moving around between homes of relatives and friends.  It wasn’t until Kurt found the Underground that he felt truly accepted and from there on out, he was in the fast lane. 
                The early Nirvana footage is top notch and high quality showcasing favorites like “Dive”, “School”, and “Floyd the Barber” performed in houses or small basement venues to crowds of people varying in size from two middle aged workers from down the street to 15 disillusioned punks.  The footage when interspersed with portions of Cobain’s notes and journals help provide detailed background into the enigmatic front man’s thought process and offer unique insight into the development of Nirvana.  From a montage of handwritten band names to scribbled lyrics, the viewer see’s the other side of the famed rock band.  It was something that grew organically over time, not a sudden outburst.  Kurt didn’t have a grand idea beyond playing music he found to be meaningful and trying to get famous.  Although as the world now knows, fame had a much darker side which only made itself clear to Kurt once it was too late, fueling his drug abuse and emotional insecurity. 
                The latter half of the film, besides dealing with the obvious fame of Nirvana through interview snippets and stadium concert footage shows Cobain in the privacy of his home.  Between arguments with Courtney half naked in the bathroom, discussions in bed, and playing with young Francis; each show a man who cared deeply for his family.  A man that was proud of his accomplishments and guilt stricken over his failures. 
                In the end, Cobain was exactly what he claimed to be, a loving father and husband who despite his vices wanted nothing more than to sacrifice his own happiness for theirs.  This is a film that any Cobain, Nirvana, or music enthusiast MUST see.  It toppled all that came before it and all that will come after through its genuine honesty and forthrightness.  It doesn’t attempt to gloss over the dark spots.  Rather, it highlights them in a way that depicts Cobain as a product of his environment, family, politics, sexuality, and mental state which when combined birthed the kind of authentic creativity that comes along only once in a generation.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Some Songs from Today's Playlist

1. Net Babes - Free Pizza
2. Hollow Bedroom - Waxahatchee
3. Gone Daddy Gone - Violent Femmes
4. Schism - Tool
5. Look What Happened - Less Than Jake

Latest from Music and Movies with Mike and Ted

Check out the latest podcast with my partner in crime Ted Wahle as we interview local Duxbury up and coming rapper Jon Bartley.  We discuss his origins, inspirations, goals, and a whole slew of things relating to the experience of the independent musician in today's musical landscape.  Find his first two albums on Soundcloud and check out one of his tracks at the end of the interview.  IT'S CRAZY GOOD.

Movies and Music with Mike and Ted - Jon Bartley Interview

Waxahatchee Continues with Sincere Acoustic Alt Rock

Back in 2010, singer guitarist Katie Crutchfield then a member of indie rock outfit P.S. Eliot recorded a few dreamy acoustic pop songs in her bedroom.  The songs were deeply personal and would eventually lead to a debut album under the name Waxahatchee, named for a creek in Alabama where Katie grew up with twin sister and P.S. Eliot bandmate Alison Crutchfield.  The songs made up American Weekend released in 2012 on Don Giovanni Records.  The album was tight, definitively lo-fi and resonated with listeners.  As such, her follow up in 2013 was a highly anticipated record.  That follow up, titled Cerulean Salt was everything Waxahatchee fans hoped for and more.  Recorded in her basement this time, the songs retain their personal simplicity while adding layers of simple alt rock to push the tunes into new territory.  Recorded alongside her sisters band Sweain’ minus drummer Jeff Bolt, the tracks keep Katie’s voice and lyrics as the centerpiece with backing drums and haunting riffs supporting her ethereal, deeply intimate vibe.  Tracks like “Dixie Cups and Jars” are heavy in their own right with Swearin’ guitarist Kyle Gilbride’s succinct solos breaking up Crutchfield’s poetic ranting.  The light, happy “Lips and Limbs” gives off a campfire sing along vibe before the childlike “Blue Pt. II” which has the Crutchfield sisters singing in perfect unison.  While most songs keep things more low key fueling the feeling that you’re sitting in a living room watching her perform, some push things into static rock territory like the short “Misery Over Dispute” which gives way to one of the softer tracks “Lively”.  Closing track “You’re Damaged” give you goosebumps as Katie returns to the roots of American Weekend with a beautifully constructed acoustic gem.   Each and every track is better than the last and mixes up the sound of the album while maintaining a cohesive and understandable aesthetic.  Waxahatchee’s latest album Ivy Trip released earlier this month is her first away from Don Giovanni and also marks the first time she’s recorded in a studio instead of her own home causing many longtime fans to question her motives and sincerity.  However, the songs are all a product from a reclusive year spent with boyfriend and Swearin’ bassist Keith Spencer holed up in a house in Long Island.  As such, fans can expect the same 90’s infused poppy alt rock which Crutchfield has been known for since her days in P.S. Eliot.  The heartfelt lyrics, and profound sense of understanding which radiates from her songs is still present.  The studio space allows her to grow as an artist and while I appreciate the suspiciousness of leaving the lo-fi game behind for more polished compositions, I think it is something which Waxahatchee will only use to their advantage.  So much more than the solo project it began as, this is a musical endeavor which is quickly becoming one of the best acts of the 2010’s and is certainly cementing Katie Crutchfield as one of the preeminent songwriters of her generation.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Some Songs from this Morning

1. Life is a Chore - Yeehaw!
2. Just Perfect - Laika's Orbit
3. Hallway - Bugs and Rats
4. Three Ducks - Dinoczar
5. No Wind - Funeral Advantage

The Babadook - Unsettling, Demented.....Scary

I have been anxiously waiting to see the Australian indie horror film The Babadook for months.  The film received widespread critical acclaim after it premiered at Sundance last year.  Since then it has flown under the radar and recently I finally had the opportunity to sit down and watch it.  For the first time in years, I felt incredibly unsettled while watching the film.  The dark, ominous house in which most of the film takes place contributes to a heavy sense of dread which is ever present throughout the movie.  The depression and subsequent psychological issues felt by the two main characters is a constant force which weighs heavily on the viewer and contributes to the overall sense of doom which permeates each and every scene.  The films protagonists, Amelia and her son Sam have been trying to maintain a normal life after the death of Amelia’s husband on the way to the hospital the night Sam was born.  Since then, Amelia has never been the same.  Deeply depressed and wallowing in regret and resentment, Amelia’s demeanor has no doubt rubbed off on Sam his entire life.  Sam has trouble sleeping and has psychological issues, undoubtedly from living with a mother who subconsciously blames him for the death of her husband.  After Sam asks Amelia to read him a strange pop-up book from his bookshelf entitled “Mister Babadook” things begin to take a turn for the worse.  Slowly, Amelia and Sam fall prey to a dark entity that is constantly following the two, day and night.  Despite Amelia’s attempts to destroy the book, the evil tomes message remains true… “You can’t get rid of the Babadook”.  The concept of the pop-up book I found to be wonderfully demented.  Such an innocent child’s toy is used to represent unimaginable horrors as the book changes to reflect the Babadook’s increasing influence over Amelia.  While instances of “shock” are few and far between, the films strength is in its ability to convey a sense of dread.  The viewer is sucked into the sleep deprived paranoia that begins to fuel Amelia’s descent into madness.  Ultimately, it is up to the viewer to decide who and or what the Babadook is.  Left open to interpretation, the meaning behind to monster’s sudden appearance is something which adds to the unsettling feeling throughout the course of the film.  While this often doesn’t work (at least in my opinion) here it is absolutely necessary.  This isn’t a demon.  It isn’t a ghost or a poltergeist.  It’s not a physical being.  It’s all of those things and none of them at the same time.  It manifests in situations where it can thrive and thus becomes a direct product of the hatred and resentment which exudes from Amelia herself.  In a way, she is the Babadook.  Or at least that was this viewer’s humble interpretation.  You’ll have to sit through the uneasy fright fest yourself to form your own opinion.