Archive for the 'Articles' Category

I won't be observing Noirvember this year, in the first year I've truly considered it. Not sure I have the time or the bandwidth to watch 30 movies, one per day, from the same genre/type. If I did, though, the list would look something like this, with five 6-packs of films covering topics like classics, pairs, need (I need to see these, and I haven't yet), foreign, and extras.

Crossfire (1947)
Railroaded! (1947)
The Big Sleep (1946)
D.O.A. (1949)
M (1931)
The Scarlet Claw (1944)

The Maltese Falcon (1931)
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Pickup on South Street (1953)
The Naked Kiss (1964)
Blood Simple (1984)
The Man Who Wasn't There (2001)

My personal need-to-see list
Criss Cross (1949)
Double Indemnity (1944)
Laura (1944)
Lady in the Lake (1946)
Following (1998)
Dark City (1998)

Foreign-language films
High and Low (1963)
Shoot the Piano Player (1960)
Umberto D. (1952)
Coup de Torchon (1981)
Alphaville (1965)
Todo Modo (1976)

L.A. Confidential (1997)
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Body Heat (1981)
Brick (2005)
Palmetto (1998)
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

In case that last choice, which is valid, is too controversial ... here's a substitute pick:
No Country for Old Men (2007)

Happy Noirvember!



Dear Criterion Collection or other parties of interest,

Looking around the United States in 2020, I can’t fathom an argument that the themes in Elio Petri’s penultimate feature film, Todo Modo (“One Way Or Another”) have no application here and now. 

The plot set-up from Wikipedia currently says, “During a mysterious epidemic that claims numerous political leaders, big industrialists, bankers, and business leaders of the ruling party, the Christian Democrats arrive in a hotel/hermitage/prison called Zafer. They gather for an annual three-day retreat (inspired by the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola) to atone for their past crimes of corruption and unethical practices. These exercises are practiced under the guidance of the unusual Don Gaetano (Marcello Mastroianni), a very influential but corrupt priest, who dominates all those at the retreat.”

I’ve heard the notion that understanding Petri’s film or the novel by Leonardo Sciascia would require a deeper awareness of 1970s Italian politics than an American audience could have. Logic like that has restricted the release of other films, like Carlos Saura’s underrated Spanish surrealist masterpiece The Garden Of Delights.   

That same insufficient argument didn’t stop the release of future Oscar-winning films like Z (Costa-Gavras) and Petri’s own Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion. Both of those films carry additional meaning in the countries they came from; still, their artistic impact is unquestioned internationally. From the 20 minutes of film clips I have found online in Italian with no subtitles, Todo Modo seems more outrageous than similar films, but we are living in outrageous times right now.

Mysterious epidemic disrupting both political and social life in the country? Check. 
o As I’m writing this, the United States alone has 6.3 million positive cases of COVID-19 with almost 190 thousand deaths.

Unparalleled, and often corrupt, intermingling of church and state? Check. 
o If you doubt this one, check out the Netflix series The Family from last year, covering events going back decades.

Bomb threats and other violent menace directed toward political figures and journalists? Check. 
o There have been more than a dozen documented cases of domestic terrorism threats in the United States since the current president was inaugurated, including one where 16 different pipe bomb packages were mailed by suspect Cesar Altieri Sayoc Jr. to perceived critics and “enemies” of President Trump.

Todo Modo cannot be deemed inappropriate for consideration because its plot and themes are too remote and unrelatable to Americans today. In some ways, “One Way Or Another” may be too on-point. This risk of hitting too close to home should not be a concern. First, it is set in Italy almost 50 years ago. Second, even the storytelling then was intentionally stylized to send the message pointedly but somewhat indirectly. 

Those stylistic touches are another argument for delivering the highest quality video as quickly as possible, whether DVD or Blu-ray. Location, art direction, and cinematography set this film apart, even among Petri’s experiments. All that is balanced, somewhat, by world class actors like Mastroianni, Gian Maria Volontè, and Michel Piccoli among others. Todo Modo is rated highly among Petri’s work for a reason. 

Image quality is always a question with older films, but by the 1970s the notion of film restoration and archiving was well established. 
In 2014, the Museum of Modern Art showed a restored print at MoMA in New York. 
A year earlier, Senses of Cinema in Australia ran a feature about the film.
More recently, the Daughters of Darkness podcast closed out a series on Petri in 2016-17 with Todo Modo noted as his last true masterpiece.

There is a buzz. It may not be as noteworthy as the organ and piano from Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack, but Todo Modo should strike chords and find an audience. I have spent time with other films and TV movies set during pandemics this year, but this overlooked gem may be the most relevant and important of them all. 

Find a way to release “One Way Or Another” to an American audience with subtitles and whatever supporting extras you feel is necessary to provide point-and-time context. It is the right thing to do.


We are here now, going nowhere, for very loving reasons.


As the old saying goes, imitation is the highest form of flattery, a well crafted remake is the musical version. 

Years ago, I named Mark E. Smith as a Different Drummer on an episode focused on used record stores, which is how I discovered his band, The Fall, during the transition from high school to college in the American Midwest. They are still my favorite band, or as close as I'll ever get to naming a favorite. 

The amount and quality of remakes by The Fall was not evident to me early on. Their approach to music was so unique that songs rarely stood out as remakes. There are exceptions, not always from the Country & Western genre but often enough. Here is a list:


It isn't an exhaustive list, either. 

Used Record Stores and a Healthy Aquarium


IC-Fest, Day 3


Spotify Day 3 is only missing a couple of these tracks, one by Imani Coppola and one by Chris Rice. The problem is that "Thirsty" from the missing Rice album, Past The Edges, is probably my favorite of all the songs Spotify does not yet have. 

The final day in this hypothetical music festival features some of the longest sets at the beginning and end, a bit like bookends. Most people might not consider Todd Snider a headliner for something like this. I certainly do. Whether with a band or in a man-with-guitar format, Snider brings something live that even his live albums only barely capture. 

Todd Snider

New Connection
New York Banker
Conservative, Christian, Right Wing Republican, Straight, White, American Males
You Got Away With It (A Tale of Two Fraternity Brothers)
Statistician's Blues
Beer Run
Just Like Old Times
Somebody's Coming
Once He Finds Us
A Lot More
Yesterdays and Used to Be's

Reba McEntire

Take It Back
Rumor Has It
If I Had Only Known
The Greatest Man I Never Knew

Chris Rice

It is Well with My Soul
Me and Becky
Smell the Color 9
Go Light Your World
The Final Move

Laurie Anderson

Difficult Listening Hour
Sharky's Day
Beautiful Red Dress
Mach 20
Let X=X

Imani Coppola

I'm a Tree
Voice in my Head
Contributing Member of Society
Cock Block (Little Jackie)
Lying to my Therapist
The Legend of a Cowgirl

Michael Franks

Sometimes I Just Forget to Smile
The Lady Wants to Know
Every Time She Whispers
The Art of Love
Three Today
Now I Know Why (They Call It Falling)

Dolly Parton

9 to 5
Red Shoes
I Will Always Love You

Neil Young

After the Gold Rush (with Dolly Parton)
My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)
Out on a Weekend
Old King
Southern Man
Oh Susannah
Harvest Moon
Rockin' in the Free World
Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)
One of These Days

Jarring transitions on this day, which is something I like. Ironically, I've envisioned what is probably both the most and least jarring transition with a duet. Could a Dolly Parton collaboration with Neil Young work on his "After the Gold Rush" classic? I'd say yes, in part because both Parton and Young have delivered surprisingly effective collaborations in the past. With Linda Ronstadt unavailable due to debilitation and Emmylou Harris not yet named a Different Drummer, Young and Parton together is the nearest substitute for a Trio performance

I won't take up the space required for other Different Drummers who could have made this list because they are still performing. I'll just note a couple that I've seen in concert, even though I didn't include them here: Al Stewart and King Missile (John S. Hall) would have been the next ones in. 
At the same time, it's heartbreaking that health or death blocked any consideration for -- among others -- Don Ellis, Queen (Freddie Mercury), Gisele MacKenzie, John Coltrane, John Fahey, Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen, The Fall (Mark E. Smith), Rush (Neil Peart), and Ronstadt. 

Mentally sunburned and exhausted, I'll stop here, refreshed nevertheless.

IC-Fest, Day 2


Spotify Day 2 represents every song from every artist.

Getting 25 into thirds, to simulate three days, puts the extra artist in the middle. I'm still linking the artist name to the episode that cited each as Different Drummers, along with putting at least one key track in italics.

Indigo Girls

Fill It Up Again
Land of Canaan
Power of Two
Prince of Darkness
Let It Be Me
Share the Moon
Closer to Fine
Kid Fears (with Gordon Gano?)

Violent Femmes

Girl Trouble
Rejoice and Be Happy
No Killing
Dating Days
Add It Up
I Held Her in My Arms
He Likes Me
I Know It's True, but I'm Sorry to Say

Larry Kirwan & Black 47

Second Coming Blues
40 Shades of Blue
James Connolly
Different Drummer

Phil Manzanera

Diamond Head
Law and Order
Postcard Love
Rongwrong (with Brian Eno)

Brian Eno

Baby's on Fire (with Phil Manzanera)
Sombre Reptiles (with Phil Manzanera)
Burning Airlines Give You So Much More
Iced World

Elvis Costello

The Other Side of Summer
Less Than Zero
Two Little Hitlers
Every Day I Write the Book
The Beat
Human Hands
London's Brilliant Parade
Tripwire (with The Roots)

The Roots

Walk Us Uptown (with Elvis Costello)
Here I Come
You Got Me
Break You Off
Don't Feel Right
The Seed 2.0

Holly Cole

Take Me Home
I Told Him that My Dog Wouldn't Run
I Thought of You Again
Make It Go Away
Don't Let the Teardrops Rust Your Shining Heart
If I Were a Bell
Tango 'Til They're Sore

Tom Waits

Jersey Girl
Warm Beer and Cold Women
Murder in the Red Barn
Down There by the Train
Way Down in the Hole
Picture in a Frame
Once Upon a Town / Empty Pockets (Purple Avenue)
(Looking For) The Heart of Saturday Night

My focus on this day's lineup was on points of potential collaboration. Whether films like Monterrey Pop or The Day The Music Died (or Woodstock), unexpected collaborations are among my favorite part of festivals. This one could have Gordon Gano stepping in for the Michael Stipe harmony on "Kid Fears" by Indigo Girls, Phil Manzanera and Brian Eno almost sharing a set, and Elvis Costello's album with The Roots providing songs to transition between their sets. 
I wouldn't mind seeing a Holly Cole and Tom Waits duet on one of his songs, too. "Jersey Girl" seemed less optimal for that than something like "Little Boy Blue" or "Falling Down" but I left those two tracks off of both their lists.

IC-Fest, Day 1


Spotify Day 1 does not include Garth Brooks at all. We know why, but I did mention it during his Different Drummer segment

I intend to italicize the one key track, if I can narrow it to one, that truly sets the beat for me on each of these Different Drummers, too.

Garth Brooks

We Shall Be Free (written by Stephanie Davis)
It's Midnight, Cinderella
Two of a Kind, Workin' on a Full House
Unanswered Prayers
How You Ever Gonna Know?
Wolves (written by Stephanie Davis)
The River
Friends in Low Places

Nanci Griffith

You Were on My Mind
Drive-In Movies and Dashboard Lights
The Loving Kind
Time of Inconvenience
It's a Hard Life Wherever You Go
More Than a Whisper

Victoria Williams

What a Wonderful World
Why Look at the Moon
Summer of Drugs
I Can't Cry Hard Enough
Holy Spirit
Crazy Mary


In the Light
Lose My Soul
Jesus Freak

Sophie B. Hawkins

Strange Thing (Walking in my Blue Jeans)
Don't Don't Tell Me No
Betchya Gotta Cure for Me
Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover
Carry Me
No Connection
As I Lay Me Down
Saviour Child
Lose Your Way

Dana Gillespie

You Just Gotta Know My Mind
Move Your Body Close to Me
Empty Bed Blues
More Fool Me
Cry To Me

Maria McKee

Effigy of Salt
I've Forgotten What it Was in You (That Put the Need in Me)
A Good Heart
Am I the Only One (Who's Ever Felt This Way)?
I Can't Make It Alone
Let Your Light Shine on Me
Absolutely Barking Stars
Drinkin' in my Sunday Dress
You Gotta Sin to Get Saved
Show Me Heaven

T Bone Burnett

I Can Explain Everything
Fatally Beautiful
The Long Time Now
Shut It Tight

I also couldn't find "I Can Explain Everything" on Spotify, and that was a key song for the 200th episode of Inappropriate Conversations, The Sound of Dissent.

One other note about song sequences. Perhaps it is noticeable; perhaps not. You can almost take the last song from each artist and presume it's an encore. McKee's set, for example, would end brilliantly with audience call-and-response for "You Gotta Sin to Get Saved" leaving "Show Me Heaven" as a perfect -- albeit vocally challenging -- encore.

Inappropriate Conversations
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