Album of the Week: Revolver (Super Deluxe) by The Beatles


Album: Revolver (Super Deluxe)
Artist: The Beatles
Release Date: August 05, 1966, Super Deluxe release: October 28, 2022
Label: Calderstone Productions Limited
Favorite Tracks:

  • Eleanor Rigby
  • I’m Only Sleeping
  • Yellow Submarine
  • Good Day Sunshine
  • And Your Bird Can Sing
  • I’ve Got to Get You Into My Life
  • Tomorrow Never Knows
  • Paperback Writer
  • Rain

Thoughts:

A few years back I reviewed the Super Deluxe re-release of The Beatles’ “White Album” so I figured I’d do the same for Revolver.  This is, in fact, my favorite Beatles album and we’ll be seeing in it in my All Time Favorite Albums countdown in a couple of weeks. Revolver is well-known as the transitional album for The Beatles from the lovable moptops of Beatlemania to a studio-oriented art rock group.  The new instruments, studio experimentation, and influence of psychedelic drugs and philosophy are all well documented, so I won’t get into that here. It’s a bit mind-boggling that the Beatles were on their final U.S. tour when this was released, including their final show in San Francisco, but were performing songs from 2-3 years earlier because Revolver could just not be played lived with the technology og the time.

Here are some reflections  and personal memories on the songs:

  • “Taxman” – probably the one song on the album I don’t love because it’s rich people whining about having to pay their share to society, and thus The Beatles’ most conservative song.  It’s got a great groove though, so it’s easy to ignore the lyrics.
  • “Eleanor Rigby” – when I was a kid my family had the “Eleanor Rigby/Yellow Submarine” 45 and I used to listen to it a lot!  The song about lonely people was always very poignant, even as a kid.
  • “I’m Only Sleeping” – Kind of a theme song for me as I, like John Lennon, enjoy spending time in bed.
  • “Yellow Submarine” – even before listening to the single, I remember the neighbors putting this on their old stereo system and all the kids dancing around.  Kind of perfect that it was already a classic children’s song a decade after it was released.
  • “She Said She Said” – kind of weird that this song is inspired by Peter Fonda being obnoxious at a party.  Can’t imagine what young Beatles fans who’d never used drugs thought of this one in 1966.
  • “Good Day Sunshine”  – my sister made a short documentary about newspaper hawkers in Boston when she was in grad school and used this as the theme song.
  • “And Your Bird Can Sing” – kind of the perfect power pop tune, and ideologically opposite to “Taxman.”
  • “I Want To Tell You” is a great George tune that fits in the style of “Paperback Writer” and the Monkee’s “Last Train to Clarksville”
  • “Got To Get You Into My Life” – I’ve always loved this song and when I was a kid I didn’t even know it was a Beatles song because it was played on the radio all the time.  Later I learned that it was released as a single in the US in 1976 and somehow fit in perfectly with 70s soul.
  • “Tomorrow Never Knows” – I remember this being discussed in the documentary The Compleat Beatles and thinking it was so weird and wonderful and just needing to hear the whole song.  Only this year I learned that the “seagull” sounds are actually recordings of Paul McCartney laughing that were speed up and played backwards.

In addition to a remastered version of Revolver, that sounds excellent, the Super Deluxe edition includes two albums of demos and outtakes from all of the songs, the complete album in mono, and the “Paperback Writer”/”Rain” single remastered in stereo and mono.  It’s all good!

 

Rating: *****

Album of the Week:  2022

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Song of the Week: “Problems” by Floating Points


Floating Points – “Problems”

Floating Points is the nom-de-tune of the British electronic music producer, DJ, and musician Sam Shepherd.

Song of the Week 2022

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November

Movie Review: 28 Up (1984)


Title: 28 Up
Release Date: 20 November 1984
Director: Michael Apted
Production Company: Granada Television
Summary/Review:

28 Up is the movie that Roger Ebert put on his ten favorite movies list. I’ve kind of dodged the issue by putting the entire series as one entry into my personal top ten, but 28 Up is definitely a landmark of the series.  All the participants have come into their own as adults in this entry and we’re beginning to see the ways that they’ve been molded by their childhood and how they’ve defied societal expectations.

Tony, the working class kid from the East End, has become quite prosperous as a London taxi driver.  When he was younger he wanted to be a jockey, a taxi driver, and an actor, and by 28 he has achieved all of those things.  The fact that he wasn’t a very successful jockey or that he only plays bit parts in TV shows doesn’t bother him as he’s achieved his goal, which I think is a good way of looking at life.  On the other end of the spectrum, Bruce, who has a child at a militaristic boarding school wanted to be a missionary, has instead become a socialist and now teaches at Tony’s old school in the East End.

Two of the wealthier boys, John and Charles, declined to participate in this movie (Charles will never return).  The remaining wealthy boy Andrew seems, maybe not humbled, but more grounded than in previous episodes and married to “a Yorkshire lass.” Suzy is also happily married and a parent after being completely cynical about those things in 21 Up.  In fact, many of the participants are married and interviews with the wives (and Suzy’s husband) give new perspectives to Britons of their generation.  I know that Tony’s wife Debbie practically becomes a participant in future films, but her first appearance here was actually less significant than I remembered.

Probably the biggest disappointment is that three of the four women – Jackie, Lynn, and Sue – are still being interviewed and profiled together.  Apted would receive a lot of criticism (including from the participants) for his sexist angle in portraying the working class women and it is fully deserved.  I know from later installments that all three of these women have fascinating insights so it’s disappointing that they don’t get an adequate share of time.

Finally there’s the issue of Neil, whose life story is among the most compelling.  In this film we see him living as an itinerant in rural Scotland, clearly suffering from mental illness and isolated from society.  Many viewers in 1984 feared that Neil would die or take his own life, but later films showed that Neil is full of surprises.

Rating: *****

 

Favorite Movies of All Time: 20-11


Over the past few years I’ve made a concerted effort to watch lots of movies considered to be among the best of all time.  Now, for the first time, I’ve made my own list of favorite movies of all time.  Every other Wednesday throughout 2022, I will be revealing ten movies in my list of 250 Favorite Movies of All Time.

250-241 200-190 150-141 100-91 50-41
240-231 190-181 140-131 90-81 40-31
230-221 180-171 130-121 80-71 30-21
220-211 170-161 120-111 70-61
210-201 160-151 110-101 60-51

 

20

Title: Grave of the Fireflies
Director: Isao Takahata
Cast: Tsutomu Tatsumi, Ayano Shiraishi, Yoshiko Shinohara, and Akemi Yamaguchi
Year: 1988
When did I first watch this movie?: April 2021
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: A heartbreaking story of the cost of war on the most vulnerable people as well as a sweet story of sibling love.


19

Title: 2001: A Space Odyssey
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Cast: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, and Douglas Rain
Year: 1968
When did I first watch this movie?: early 1980s
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: Mind-blowing visuals, perfect scoring, limited but pointed dialogue, and a scene where the death of a murderous computer makes you cry are reasons why this is an all time classic.


18

Title: Raiders of the Lost Ark
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey, John Rhys-Davies, and Denholm Elliott
Year: 1981
When did I first watch this movie?: 1981, in the theater
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: The memory of watching this movie with my sister every time it returned to $1 second run movie theater alone would make this one of my favorites, but it’s also a great action/adventure/comedy/special effects spectacular.


17

Title: Sunset Boulevard
Director: Billy Wilder
Cast:William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson, Fred Clark, Lloyd Gough, and Jack Webb
Year: 1950
When did I first watch this movie?: December 2019
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: “Yep, that’s me. You probably wonder how I got myself into this predicament,” is something you can imagine William Holden’s body floating in a pool saying as he narrates this caustic and funny deconstruction of the Hollywood mythos.


16

Title: Ikiru
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Cast: Takashi Shimura, Shinichi Himori, Haruo Tanaka, Minoru Chiaki, Bokuzen Hidari, and Miki Odagiri
Year:1952
When did I first watch this movie?: March 2020
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: Kurosawa’s story of a dying bureaucrat trying to make some meaning of his life is a film that deeply appreciates what it means to be human.


15

Title: Donnie Darko
Director: Richard Kelly
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Drew Barrymore, Mary McDonnell, Katharine Ross, Patrick Swayze, Noah Wyle, Stu Stone, Daveigh Chase, James Duval, and Seth Rogen
Year: 2001
When did I first watch this movie?: 2004, the director’s cut in the theater
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: I kind of relate to the Catholic school kid in the suburbs in the 1980s aspects of this movie.  Lucky for me I never had to deal with time travel, aircraft disasters, or creepy rabbits.


14

Title: Delicatessen
Director: Marc Caro & Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Cast: Dominique Pinon, Marie-Laure Dougnac, and Jean-Claude Dreyfus
Year: 1991
When did I first watch this movie?: June 2003
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: A darkly funny take on post-apocalyptic survival films in the quirky Caro/Jeunet style.


13

Title: Duck Soup
Director: Leo McCarey
Cast: Marx Brothers (Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo), Margaret Dumont, Louis Calhern, Raquel Torres and Edgar Kennedy
Year: 1933
When did I first watch this movie?: 1992
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: The Marx Brothers funniest and most satirical film.


12

Title: Genghis Blues
Director: Roko Belic
Cast: Paul Pena, Kongar-ol Ondar
Year: 1999
When did I first watch this movie?: 1999, in the theater
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: A blind Blues musician from the US discovers the traditional music of Tuva and travels with a team of eccentric people to participate in a throat-singing competition.


11

Title: It’s a Wonderful Life
Director: Frank Capra
Cast:James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, Henry Travers, Beulah Bondi, Ward Bond, Frank Faylen, and Gloria Grahame
Year: 1946
When did I first watch this movie?: circa 1984
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: A movie that can survive the sheer repetition of its multiple holiday season airings back in the 80s and 90s and still be a joy to behold is a great film.


 

Movie Review: The Wonder (2022)


Title: The Wonder
Release Date: November 2, 2022
Director: Sebastián Lelio
Production Company:House Productions | Element Pictures | Screen Ireland
Summary/Review:

I’m game anytime Florence Pugh is in a costume drama.  The Wonder is set in rural Ireland in 1862 where Elizabeth “Lib” Wright (Pugh), an English nurse who cared for soldiers in the Crimean War, arrives at the behest of a village panel.  They want her to observe Anna (Kíla Lord Cassidy), an 11-year-old girl who claims to have not eaten food for four months.  Lib finds Anna to be healthy and not desiring to eat, while also not being denied food, and no clear indication that she is being fed on the sly.  Pilgrims visit her because they believed her holy, while the local doctor thinks she may have evolved to process nutrients without eating.

Lib and Anna form a bond, and slowly over the course of the film, Lib’s troubled past and Anna’s trauma are revealed. The film has some nice directorial touches and looks like an oil painting come to life. Food and hunger naturally play as themes in the movie picturing an Ireland still haunted by The Great Hunger which ended just before Anna was born. Lib also has many scenes where she does her best thinking while eating. The movie also has a lot to say about patriarchy, sexism, religion, and colonialism. Pugh and Cassidy are great in their roles with the cast including Tom Burke, Niamh Algar, Toby Jones, and Ciarán Hinds

Rating: ***1/2

Movie Review: My Father’s Dragon (2022)


Title: My Father’s Dragon
Release Date: November 4, 2022
Director: Nora Twomey
Production Company:Netflix Animation | Mockingbird Pictures | Cartoon Saloon
Summary/Review: An adaptation of a 1948 children’s book by Ruth Stiles Gannett, My Father’s Dragon is the latest offering from Cartoon Salon, the Irish animation studio that created standout films like The Secret of Kells, Song of the Sea, and Wolfwalkers. It’s streaming on Netflix and not for the first time this year I’m left wishing that there was more widespread opportunity to see the brilliant visuals of an animated film on a big screen.

Elmer (Jacob Tremblay, of Luca fame) is a resourceful kid who helps his single mom Dela (Golshifteh Farahani) run her store. When the Depression hits they are forced to move to a big city where they struggle to make ends meet. Some encounters with magical talking animals leads Elmer to Wild Island where he rescues a Boris (Gaten Matarazzo), a young dragon who is clumsy and rather goofy.  A gorilla named Saiwa (Ian McShane) chained Boris to the peak of the island to prevent it from sinking.  On the run from Saiwa, Elmer and Boris need to find an alternate way of saving Wild Island.

This movie is pure adventure, and full of fanciful images and ideas.  As always, the Cartoon Salon animation-style is vivid and imaginative.  The voice cast is stacked with noted actors including Dianne Wiest, Rita Moreno, Chris O’Dowd, Judy Greer, Alan Cumming, Yara Shahidi, Jackie Earle Haley, and Whoopi Goldberg.  I think this movie would appeal especially to families with younger children as the sentimentality might turn of bigger kids and teens.

Rating: ***1/2

Book Review: Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia


Author: Kate Racculia
Title: Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang
Publication Info: HMH Adult Audio, 2021
Summary/Review:

Tuesday Mooney is a researcher at a hospital in Boston who looks into the backgrounds of prospective donors.  When an eccentric millionaire, Vincent Pryce, dies at a fundraiser, it kicks off a city-wide treasure hunt for the deceased’s fortune.  Tuesday teams up with her best friend Dex, her teenage neighbor and mentee Dorry, and Arches, the charming son of another first family of Boston.

There is a lot going on in this book with the treasure hunt a fun main plot around which various subplots orbit.  For one thing, Tuesday is dealing with her best friend Abby going missing (and presumably dead) when they were teenagers.  She can still hear Abby’s voice talking with her and advising her as an adult.  Arches, meanwhile, has famously had his wealthy father go missing in a boating incident 6 years earlier, the truth of which is something he is grappling with.  And that’s just scratching the surface.

I think the many stories going on within the novel make it needlessly complicated.  But it’s still a fun mystery/adventure/paranormal/romance novel with a lot of great Boston details.

Rating: ****

Movie Review: 21 Up (1977)


Title: 21 Up
Release Date: 9 May 1977
Director: Michael Apted
Production Company: Granada Television
Summary/Review:

There are a lot of firsts for the Up Series in 21 Up.  For the first time, each of the subjects will get a discrete portion of the documentary instead of everyone being mixed up.  There are also more probing questions with time allowed for in-depth responses as is suitable for the participants now that they’re adults (although Michael Apted still hasn’t built the rapport to the point where some of his questions don’t come of as intrusive or condescending).

There are also a number of lasts in 21 Up. This is the final time that the participants are brought together in a large group event (at least, on film) and wow, are those conversations interesting and I would’ve liked to see more of them.  Nick analyzing the entire experiment is particularly keen.  This is also the final movie in which all 14 individuals will participate (goodbye Charles!).

This movie is very transitional as we start to see how those children we saw in the first two films are shaking out on their first hesitant steps into adulthood, and beginning to set patterns for their future lives.  But there will always be surprises.

Rating: *****

https://image.tmdb.org/t/p/w600_and_h900_bestv2/mDh1KD00YVGP4eEBjwRK5MFuc3f.jpg

Movie Review: Rafiki (2018)


Title: Rafiki
Release Date: 23 September 2018
Director: Wanuri Kahiu
Production Company: Big World Cinema | MPM Film | Schortcut Films
Summary/Review:

Kena (Samantha Mugatsia), a young woman in Nairobi, helps out at her father’s store, hangs out with her male friends, and hopes to get good enough grades to pursue nursing studies. When she meets Ziki (Sheila Munyiva), there’s an immediate attraction, and the two women soon begin dating. Not only do they run a risk of prejudice and legal repercussions (homosexuality is illegal in Kenya) but their fathers are opponents in an upcoming election.

The romance in this film is very sweet and gentle.  The cinematography captures lots of bright colors that seem to reflect the joy of young love.  But most of the shots are also really close-up in a way that emphasizes how confining life is for Kena and Ziki.  I don’t want to spoil anything, but it should not be a surprise that love does not conquer all, and Kena and Ziki suffer from the prejudices of their community.  But this movie is not without hope.

Rating: ***1/2

Movie Review: 7 Plus Seven (1970)


Title 7 Plus Seven
Release Date: 15 December 1970
Director: Michael Apted
Production Company: Granada Television
Summary/Review:

I’ve kind of accepted that 7 Plus Seven is the Ugly Duckling of The Up Series. Michael Apted takes over the directorial reigns, but doesn’t seem quite ready to connect with teenagers while asking them questions.  To be honest, it’s a fool’s errand since 14 is an age where you’re not going to find many kids willing to be expository about their life.  Since there was still no plan to revisit the subjects every seven years, Apted has also not settled on the structure he would adopt for the latter films.  It’s basically, here’s the kids at seven and here are the kids now.

All that being said, it’s still a wonderful and necessary film.  For some reason Seven Up! feels ancient but the social change of the mid-to-late 60s makes this children in this film feel like they are living in more contemporary times.  Apted once again asks them about class, race, religion, education and career goals, dating, and what they think of the other kids involved.  Some of the kids are parroting what the adults in their lives have taught them but others are really thinking things out.  A surprising number of them support the Conservative Party which I guess is why Margaret Thatcher rose to power once they were old enough to vote.

The absolute highlight of this movie is when Suzy is talking about social class on her father’s estate and we see her dog slaughter a rabbit in the background.

Rating: *****