Tuesday, 10 December 2013

POST 10 : Into the Wild

This movie deals with the theme of nature, where a young man starts a new life in order to disconnect with our society. We could relate this to the notion of spaces and exchanges, as nature is a different space in which the human being is not normally pleased. We can relate this as well with the theme of myths and heroes, because we can interpret the plot as an actualization of the myth of the good savage that consists in associating an uncivilized men with a good soul and good intentions. He can be also considered as a hero, because, like many other heroes, he has a quest and lofty goals. Finally, this movie can also be related to the notion of progress as this movie deals also with the excessive ways of life that we are living in our society, and all due to progress. This is the main reason why this young man leaves the civilized world. 

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Dusty Early Morning

          As this is a free post, I decided to talk about something special : Dusty Early Morning. This is the name of the album from my Blue Time Blue, that is ready to be published. 

We are not really a band, because we are only two members : my friend Erik Da Silva (guitars and vocals) and myself (guitars, bass, vocals, and production). But as we are not able to play more instruments, we had some special guests to play for the album, such as a drummer, a sax player, two singers and a piano player. 

This project comes from back in 2011, when Erik and I met. We started doing some music just for fun, but we both wanted to compose our own stuff. Besides, we have a lot of music tastes in common, so that made it all really easier. So we've been working on this project during two years, until every song was ready to be recorded. We did the drum takes in April, but we didn't really start recording until this summer. At the beginning of September, I mixed all the songs and did the last takes. There we go. 

       Recording the drums.

The D.E.M. record is composed by 10 songs, and has a length of 33 minutes. The genre of music is not quite well defined, as it is a mix of progressive rock, with influences of alternative rock. Its sort of making new stuff with old one. 

A really important aspect of this record is that it is a concept album. We could even say it gets close an opera-rock because of the story which has a beginning and end, with characters and a setting, but its not as long and complex as Pink Floyd's Wall or The Who's Tommy.

Setting up for the recording sessions...

This is basically the story of Dusty Early Morning...

1) The Crimson March :

The story starts with a flashback of the end of the story (the second part of the last song is a reprise of the Crimson March). It is basically an invitation to the march that the characters are living, as they are trapped in the desert. 

2) On the Way :

Here is where the story starts. Its a band going on tour, and they're full of joy and hope. But the plane crashes in the middle of a desert, getting all the members lost in different places. They will have to face themselves, their fears, etc...

3) Dusty Early Morning :

It is the awakening of one of the members that describes the landscape and expresses the fact that he is completely lost. 

4) Dreaming With Flowers :

This song talks about a girl that is overwhelmed by isolation and drowns herself into the river of some oasis.

5) I'd Like to Join You Too :

One of the members describes seeing the girl getting herself drown b the waters, and says that he would actually like to join her because of the difficult situation. 

6) Monster Under My Bed :

The monster is a metaphor of all the fears that the characters could be experimenting, but in the end, the monster is only in their head.

7) A Brighter Sun (Part 1) :

This is a song of hope where the character asks the sun to lead him, instead of hiding himself behind the clouds. 

8) Les Braises :

This song does not really make part of the story. It starts with a speech of Allende, right before he gets killed by a bomb. This is follow by a succession of bass tracks that increase the tension of the song to symbolize the horror that Chile live at that moment. 

9) Walk Under the Rain :

Getting back to the story, it starts to rain. So the main idea is to 'let the rain take it all away'. 

10) A Brighter Sun (Part 2) :

The album closes with an instrumental song, that as I said before, is a reprise of the Crimson March.

D.E.M. should be released in December by the Cd Baby corporation, and sold on iTunes, Amazon, etc...
Here can be heard the first song the album.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

'' A Basterd's work is never done ''

               In 2009, Inglorious Basterds was released. This movie by Quentin Tarantino is considered by many as a masterpiece. The plot is actually a western that takes place in the occupied France by the Nazis during the World War II. The name of the first chapter is 'Once Upon a Time in occupied France', which is a clear reference to Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West. The story of the film is composed of different plots that find each other at some point. The main one is the 'Inglorious Basterds' : a group of non-official Jewish soldiers under the orders of Lt. Aldo Raine, and they have one mission, which is killing Nazis in the cruelest way possible. There is also the story of Shoshanna Dreyfus, a Jewish girl that escaped from death when the Colonel Hans Landa (a.k.a. the Jew Hunter) killed all her family that was hiding in a French's home. She will go to Paris, and work in a movie theater that she will own at the owner's death. 

Even if this movie takes place in a historical context, there is no pretension of making it real. This is NOT a documentary of the WWII, it is a fictional story that shows how the war should have ended according to Tarantino. What makes this movie interesting is : the perfection of the script, as some scenes are just long conversations where there is no action, but it never gets boring ; the analogy between this movie and a classic western film ; and the filming techniques which reveal Tarantino's talent of making movies. 

This movie can be clearly related to the notion of power in many different ways. The most obvious one is the military power, as we see the strength of these armed american soldiers fighting the Nazis, and organizing their forces and strategies. We can see as well the power of media, which is the one the Basterds use to scare the Nazis, as they appear on the newspaper whenever they make an assault. They get to build a hole reputation between the Germans, and that is what gives them strength, The rumors is also a theme that appears repeatedly in the movie, which can be considered as a form of power. These rumors are the names that each soldier receives from the enemy. Aldo Raine is called the Apache, as he makes his soldiers scalp their victims. The colonel Hans Landa is called the Jew Hunter. Many names are given, as the reputation of each character grows in the movie. The power of media is also shown by the presence of Joseph Goebbles, minister of propaganda in Germany at the time, which makes a movie called The Nation's Pride, that deals with the story of Frederick Zolla, a german soldier that killed around 300 soldiers all by himself.  This theme is ridiculed as the movie is just a compilation of violent scenes of Zolla, which interprets the character in the movie himself.

Finally, we can also talk about the power of the director, Tarantino, which owns a special power : the power of changing the past. This is a movie, so the director is completely allowed to change what happened, and do it the way he wants it to be. And that is what makes the movie amazing, even it raised some controversial themes, and some people did criticize the movie for treating such a delicate theme as the WWII in a humorous way. Anyway, this is certainly his masterpiece up to this point of his career. 

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Post 7 - THE NOTION OF POWER (as exemplified in Brian De Palma's Redacted movie)

          These three videos are trailers from Brian de Palma's Redacted, released in 2007. This movie is a criticism to the Irak war which has been (and is) a very controversial theme. Being based on real events, the characteristic of the film is the realism of the filming techniques, as if the camera was in the field, which makes it really realistic. The cruelty of war is shown by really shocking images from the fighting scenes.

This can be clearly related to the notion of power, because of the behavior of the American soldiers in Irak shown in the movie. The movie is done as if it was the 'unseen' things that media did hide from us, which is also a hard critic to the control of information by the media. It can also be related to the notion of power as the media is a form of power that can control the public opinion and knowledge. It is clearly thanks to this kind of controversial movies that the truth can be revealed to everyone. 

Synopsis :

This film is about the real-life rape and killing of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl by U.S. soldiers with shocking images that will leave some viewers in tears.

Inspired by one of the most serious crimes committed by American soldiers in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, it spares the audience no brutality to get its message across.
Made in a deliberately episodic form, Redacted tells various stories about the war in Iraq, ostensibly from different viewpoints. One film portion by a French filmmaker tells the story of U.S. soldiers watching over checkpoints. In another episode, a superior soldier makes a casual mistake dealing with garbage that was set out in a road and is blown to bits. It's all leading to the pivotal rape and murder of the pretty girl who is discovered by the soldiers on a raid of an Iraqi house in order to find evidence. One night, the drunken and mostly morally lost U.S. soldiers discuss going back for the "skank" whom they saw in the house they raided. One soldier straps a camera to his helmet, and the footage of the girl's rape is secured.
The rest of the film mostly deals with measures taken by the army against the criminals. A final scene has a soldier from the criminals' unit confessing to his friends a war story that he will never forget: the plundering and murder of the Iraqi girl.

Review :

Despite the many criticisms by others on this site, Redacted is a compelling film based on an actual incident that occurred in Baghdad in 2006. Yes, the acting leaves something to be desired, the 'mixed-media' approach is distracting, and there are some manipulative moments (the beheading, the final still); But this is still an eye-opening film on the state of events in Iraq and the trials that *both* Iraqis and Americans have to deal with daily. The scenes at the checkpoint are particularly well done. Some of the dialog between the soldiers in the unit is compelling in its own way; Similarly so the scenes with the Iraqi reporters and 'embeds.'

I've seen all the recent films about Iraq ('Valley of Elah', 'Lions for Lambs', 'Rendition' ) and think that 'Redacted' provides insights none of the others do. In particular, it does an excellent job illustrating the clash between the respective cultures of Iraq and America. (50% of Iraqis can't read the signs at US checkpoints!) 

Is this film a bit of an unholy mess? Yes, but see it anyway and make your own mind up. I think this one deserves at least a 6 out of 10.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

MadTV - iRack

This (hilarious) video by the MadTV humor series makes fun of many things such as Steve Job's Apple company, which is seen as a real Hollywood star by many people. 

But the 'hidden' message is a hard critic to the USA's implication on the Irak war, that started with G. H. Bush and was re-started by G. W. Bush, aka Junior. The forces that the USA used to tear down Saddam Hussein and creating a democracy in the country have been a disaster in terms of dead soldiers and economically. 

This document could be classified in the Places and Forms of Power section, yet this video concerns political actions, and the power of the USA face to the world with its army invading a hole country, and getting it rid of a dictator.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

POST 3 - The Bright Side of New Technologies

          Obviously, we can criticize the impact that new technologies have on our lives, and that big corporations are making huge money on us because they managed to make us need their products. That's something. But now let's look at the bright side, specially focusing on smartphones. 

As this Samsung add says for its new smartphone, it's kind of a 'life companion'. First, we're going to put apart the marketing idea conveyed in this expression, and ask ourselves : why do they say it ?

The first aspect is the most obvious one, and it is the fact that you ALWAYS, no matter what, have your mobile phone with you. Seen by a modern and materialistic point of view, it makes of it kind of a life companion, that follows you everywhere. 

But one thing is clear, a phone nowadays is way more that a phone. The number of characteristics of a smartphone has increased considerably since the last 5 years. Who knew that one day a telephone could also be a instantaneous mail deliverer ? We don't seem to realize but this thing is totally revolutionary ! The pigeon thing was not doable after all... 

Then came the radio integrated, but we all know that no used it very much, and it consumes too much of the battery life. 

The camera, oh sweet lord, the camera. We all remember how badly we wanted one of those phones that had the first cameras ! For sure, the quality was really poor, but now some phones can make some really good pictures, with multiple effects, and 'scenes' that optimize the use of the camera. It is true that many persons don't have a classic compact camera because of their iPhone's or Samsung's. Now, we can take photos and videos of every instant of our life we want, such as concerts, promenades at the park, parties with friends, or even the famous 'selfies' that consist on taking a picture of ourselves and posting it on social media pages. 

All kind of applications appeared for the tiny screen of a phone such as Facebook, YouTube, The Times and countless more. This makes us have all kinds of accesses to the things we used to do on computers. Now we can make a video conference through the wireless internet connection without being home, and read the newspaper in the metro while going to school. We can even share our boredom on Facebook while endless classes at school ! (But shhh ! It's a secret !)

By the way, some schools are now trying to integrate tablets and/or smartphones into classes for educational uses. Some applications are being created for teaching, with exercises integrated and all the stuff. I don't really know what to think about that but let's say its a good thing because this essay is about the good things of new technologies...

Anyways, what used to be the good old red dialed phone is now something completely different. Thanks to the internet connection included on smartphones, the number of information and resources included is infinite. Our lives are definitely easier concerning communication and information thanks to smartphones. Thanks Samsung for giving us this unique chance of having a TRUE life companion !

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

2 Videos on Technology Issues

1- When technology is too much :

Description :

This video is structured around two main narrative voices and a character illustrating what the voice-over says while a singer repeats what's been said. The setting is a christian home and church, which is meaningful. We can notice that the character is addicted to high-tech products, mostly smartphones. He is shown as a family man unable to interact with his wife, except through texting. He is also shown as a church-goer incapable of attending worship without all his phones vibrating all the time, making him look like he's full of the holy spirit. 

Interpretation :

Basically, the video means that high technology has become a religion for many people, even christians who aren't supposed to be materialistic.Then, quite a few church-goers and believers tend to focus more on a materialistic issues than on spiritual ones. We can add that technology reigns supreme for many people who venerate it as a God enlightening his followers. The question is, is it a real progress for humanity ?

2- When technology is missing :

Description :

Two people are stuck on an escalator in a place that seems literally empty. The man looks upset and annoyed. He might be an office worker walking to his job. The woman claims that she's already late, so for her this is the last straw. At one point, she's about to cry and asks for a phone. In short, the two of them look helpless, clueless, powerless, hopeless.

Interpretation :

We can relate this situation to a fairly common one in real life : getting stuck on an escalator. The difference is, however, that in this situation, people have a right to feel panicked whereas on an escalator, there is no reason whatsoever to panic.
The video points out the increasing dependance of human beings on technology. If it goes missing it is as if a crutch had been taken away, so these two people cannot even climb up the escalator, which would be the normal thing to do.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

POST 1 : A Cartoon !

          This document is a cartoon taken from Google Images. There is actually no way we can know the publication date of this cartoon, but we can guess that it must have been during the 2000's, because of the obvious content. It raises the controversial issue of the violation of author's rights because of the illegal access to their work thanks to the internet. 

The three main characters placed in the middle of the image catch the eye at first sight. At the top, on the left side, we can see the 'Cannes' logo which indicates us geographically and  indacates the context which is crucial. At the bottom, there's the red carpet on which the artist, the artist's partner and the fan stand. The fan seems excited, but the artist seems not to appreciate his words : 'I've pirated them all !' In the background, we can see a mass of fans and reporters behind the red strap who acclaim the guests.This cartoon is made up of a drawing in colour,  signed at the bottom lefthand corner by the author. 

The author is clearly criticizing and making a caricature out of different things such as the progress in technology which is literally HELL for media producers, including musicians, film directors, photographers, etc... It also convays a criticism of the behaviour of today's youth toward the others and their work. Overall, the author wants us to think (and laugh) about this fact, and maybe also to reconsider doing that. 

This document is well made, the message is clear. But personally I think it is more funny than convincing after all. It's not because someone sees it that he's going to change his mind. It isn't enough to convince the readers, cause they're probably gonna think something like 'Ha-ha, so true. But anyways, he is ridiculous, I'm not like that !' and that's all ! I agree with the author's point of view, probably because I am also an artist and I publish music periodically... But still, I download stuff from the internet and I admit it. 

The Cartoon is a good way to remind us that pirating is synonymous with stealing, even if it is not really controlled by the authorities and everyone does it.