Home » Reviews

Category: Reviews

Film Review: “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968)

I finally re-watched Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968) last night for the first time in 45 years.

It was too long and lofty for me as an 10 year old back in the early 1970s to actually understand it–and I almost felt that way again this time around again.
But with the modern technology of FF and REW i was able to really see it in full detail and each scene several times over.

The entire film is actually 5 movies rolled in one. And only the middle section had any real drama to speak of.
It took Kubrick a full hour to finally introduce Dave and HAL, our protagonist and nemesis, respectively.
And their story-line only lasted 50 minutes. I really wished it was longer here.
The film is too long in 2 of the 5 sections: Parts 2 and 4.

Here are the 5 sections:

1) Prologue: Prehistoric man’s encounter with a strange, inert obelisk. Rectangular, slender, tall, ebony and shiny. While inanimate, it exudes an aura that fascinates the cave men. They see value in it. Is it Beauty? Power? Safety? What do those concepts even mean to a cave man? One thing’s for certain: Early man’s curiosity is awakened and this prompts the innovation of his first crude tool.

2) PanAm TV Commercial: Dr. Haywood’s trip to the moon is a visual masterpiece, albeit lengthy. It seems more about bragging rights for conceptual designs of future space travel than a movie sequence. Very little drama to speak of. Uneventful and existential. But in the end we arrive at the reappearance of the obelisk.

3) Dave and Frank travel to Jupiter. HAL9000 goes haywire.Bad things happen. Lots of tension and excellent storytelling.

4) Dave’s voyage unexpectedly jettisons past Jupiter to the far reaches of the universe. Very psychedelic and trippy. Way too lengthy.

5) Epilogue: Dave’s arrival at the end of his trip. The end of life (his life?) yet also a (or “the”) beginning. Did he discover life’s meaning?
This is the most fascinating sequence. I’ve had it memorized for over 40 years and seeing it again gave me the old familiar chills.

Kubrick had an agenda to demonstrate what our future would look like on an existential level…so he was stingy with compelling, forward-moving plot points. But it was realism, if only hypothetical. And it made its point loud and clear. It still does. You can count me as one person who is thankful to not be a space traveller because it looks DAMNED boring!

The accuracy in predicting how space travel and technology would look was uncanny. Including the introduction of iPad-like tablets, almost mimicking to their current size in 2018.

-Nick P

Labyrinth from Eighth Tower Records

Labyrinth from Eighth Tower Records

Labyrinth is the latest compilation from Eighth Tower Records, purveyors of fine ultraterrestrial dark ambient, drone, and electronic music. With a total of twenty two tracks there’s enough darkness here to swallow the Earth whole.
The compilation starts off with “When the Shadows Come” from Psionic Asylum, a deep, dark ambient track that starts you down the path to the Labyrinth. Some of the standouts are track 3, “Luft” by Monocube, which wades into static like you are waste deep in murky waters of the mind. A train whistle is used expertly to disconcert the listener, sounding much like a plane crashing.
Track 6 brings “The Labyrinth” by Warpness with helicopter sound effects that increase the tension. Track 17 is “Hostile to the Past” by Soliloqua which uses creepy organ music that plants the seed in your mind that perhaps coming here was a mistake.
Track 18 is from Traansmutt, entitled “HehBethKathDaleth” and its packed with plenty of disturbing sounds like you’ve accidentally intruded on some kind of ritual in an old Hammer horror film. Other tracks include “Tre” from Necrophorus, “Verminephrobacter eiseniae” from Stigmate, and “We’ll Return to Our Departed Selves” by IOK-1.
Finally, the compilation contains an interesting passage about the nature of the labyrinth itself:
Mazes must be solved, a left brain activity that involves choices and an active mind and logical, sequential, linear thinking. A maze is multicursal, with many paths. If you don’t pay attention, you can get lost in one. Not so with a labyrinth. It is unicursal – one way in, one way out. There are no decisions, no choices, no thinking required. The only choice is to enter. To walk one is a right brain activity involving intuition, creativity, and imagination, and it requires a receptive mindset. You must trust the path, surrender to it.

      A labyrinth is not a puzzle; it is a mystery. Theologian Diogenes Allen illuminates the difference: “When a problem is solved, it is over and done with. We go on to other problems. But a mystery, once recognized, is something we are never finished with. Instead, we return to it again and again and it unfolds new levels to us. Mysteries, to be known, must be entered into. We do not solve mysteries. The deeper we enter into them, the more illumination we get.”

Track Listing:

1 Psionic Asylum “When the Shadows Come”

2 Sysselman “Submarine” (featuring Radio Feskslog)

3 Monocube “Luft”

4 Necrophorus “Tre”

5 Sonologyst “System: Maze of Control”

6 Warpness “The Labyrinth”

7 Xerxes the Dark “The Omen”

8 Damballah “Syel Lannwit”

9 Alphaxone “Awakeness”

10 SiJ “Few Sounds From the House Near the Sea”

11 Taphephobia “Twisting Journey”

12 Ashtoreth “Uncertain Path”

13 Globoscuro “Dedalo’s Architectural Liver”

14 Stigmate “Verminephrobacter eiseniae”

15 Silent Chaos “Daedalus of Possibilities”

16 IOK-1 “We’ll Return to Our Departed Selves”

17 Soliloqua “Hostile to the Past”

18 Traansmutt “HehBethKathDaleth”

19 Knobstat – Dirac

20 Monica Vlad – Distant

21 vAaristyma – ei muistiinpanoja alkuliemi

22 SKR Project – Death in Nibiru

https://eighthtowerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/labyrinth

Blu-ray Review: The X-Files – The Event Series

The X-Files The Event Series Blue-Ray disc The truth is still out there and maybe, just maybe we’ll get some answers with the release of The X-Files six episode Event Series.  Airing earlier this year on Fox to disturbingly little fan fair – this 6 hours of The X-Files might just be some of the best hours of the entire series run.

I have to say – watching this Event Series on Blu-ray is by far the better method by which to catch up with Mulder, Scully, and the gang.  It really plays more cohesive – more film like not having the constant commercial interruptions that network TV brings.  It really makes me consider if perhaps a third stand alone film might have been a better platform for telling the tale we get and the quick – short answer is no – there’s not enough information revealed to support a feature and also – we would be unable to get the fun little “go for it” episodes we get.  Season X is broken down into six episodes – three of them play to the X-Files mythos and three of them are little, stand-alone episodes – all of them are pretty damn good.

Things kick off with the episode titled My Struggle and we are re-introduced into Mulder’s motivation – the search for his sister – the search for the truth.  The conspiracy is explained in more depth as is the personal relationship between Mulder and Scully.  Don’t want to say more as the fun of uncovering the secrets for yourself is part of the joy of this little exercise.

The second part of the two-night premiere titled Founder’s Mutation plays heavily into the government conspiracy aspect that the series has used so well throughout its run.  Ultimately, though – this segment kind of goes nowhere and while at the time entertaining,  once you watch the entire season it turns out to be a rather unneeded exercise.  It’s a mythos building episode that doesn’t seem to build the mythos.

Once we get through the two-night premiere episode we veer away from the mythos of the show and head full bore into what for me was always the meat and potatoes of The X-Files – the monster episodes.  We get a couple really well done – fun as hell exercises in the strange.

Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster is unadulterated fun – it’s what makes the genre fun to watch – it makes The X-Files fun to watch.  Again – don’t want to spoil the view but we get a Carl Kolchak homage, we get a great monster that squirts blood out of its eyes and we get some really hilarious tongue in cheek humor.  It’s a wonderful break from the drama and at the end of the day, they take this episode in a direction that I didn’t see coming – that has to stand for something.  The disc is worth buying for this episode alone – it’s one of the best of the entire series run.

Equally fun is Home Again where we once again get another original X-Files monsters, Band Aid Nose Man and he is pure nightmare fuel.  Tim Armstrong of Rancid fame nails his role as Trashman.  While in this episode we do dip our toe just a bit into the show mythos when Scully finds herself having to deal with a personal tragedy that ultimately leads to some personal growth that gets explored more fully in the final two segments. fifth episode

The fifth episode – Babylon – is an important episode on many levels.  The subject matter, which centers around terrorism is timely and scary and at the same time we are also introduced to a duo of new characters – Agents Einstein and Miller who are introduced as another version but not a replacement for our beloved Scully and Mulder.  It certainly sets the series up for a new road that can be traveled.  But even given the heaviness of the subject matter this time around there is still some light-hearted fun as we get Mulder tripping on some mushrooms and going on a little adventure that leads to many firsts for the series. Also in this episode, we herald the return of The Lone Gunman and while they are not key players in this tale – it’s great fun to see them.

Ultimately this all leads to the sixth and last episode in this little reunion and is aptly titled My Struggle II and in many ways answers a ton of fans questions about the future of the show and ties up tons of loose story ends while at the same time leaving things totally open ended while also bringing the series full circle.  Confused?  Good – that’s just how I want you.  You’re going to have to watch if you want to see where they take things but for this X-Phile – I was content with where they have taken things – I like Einstein and Miller and their interaction with Scully and Mulder – I’m sold and I think they have set the stage to continue with the X-Files as long as the fanbase supports them.

The Blu-ray itself comes as a duel disc with three episodes on each disc.  Special feature-wise, we are treated to a slew of amazing content:

The X-Files” – The Event Series Blu-ray & DVD Special Features
Deleted & Extended Scenes
Gag Reel
The Makings of a Struggle
Season X: An In-Depth Behind-the-Scenes Look at “The Event Series”
Monsters of the Week: A Recap from the Wildest and Scariest from the Original Series
“The X-Files” – Green Production PSA
Short Film – Grace by Karen Nielsen
Commentary on “Founder’s Mutation” with Chris Carter and James Wong
Commentary on “Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster” with David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Kumail Nanjiani and Darin Morgan
Commentary on “My Struggle II” with Chris Carter and Gabe Rotter

The feature titled Season X is well worth your time and chock full of great behind the scenes info.  I enjoyed it almost as much as the season itself.  Overall this release is a must-own for fans and a must see for anyone who has ever enjoyed even one episode of the series.

TheX-Files – The Event Series is out now and if you’ve yet to pick it up – go now and make it happen.

 

by Dave Dreher

 

 

 

Review of Big Sleep Little Death from Bedtime For Robots by Leo Zaccari

Big Sleep Little Death is the latest release from the purveyors of dark electronic music, Bedtime for Robots. This ambitious release comes on the heels of the enigmatic Music From an Undisclosed Location.

The album opens with the sprawling and spaced out electronic horror track “All My Idols Are Dead”. Given the pedigree of disparate musical acts that make up the brain trust behind Bedtime for Robots, this list of idols is undeniably quite impressive. The description on Bandcamp states that this album was inspired by horror and sci-fi films. The album does not disappoint, as one can easily hear certain tracks dropped into scenes of stalking or dismemberment (and who among us doesn’t love a good dismemberment?) But one can also hear glimpses of Junkie XL or The Crystal Method, and even The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, especially in tracks such as “National Lobotomy”.

The album features two centerpieces: the first is the title cut, which features dark electronica that is so sinister it sounds like it belong right at home in a William Friedkin film. The second is the final cut, entitled “Easter”, a bleak post apocalyptic sci-fi soundtrack that will make you think of all the possibilities and could have beens that the world once held while you’re staring at the mutated corpses rising from the wreckage of what was once your favorite record store.

Bedtime for Robots is the brainchild of Michael Ferentino. He was a musician once. You don’t want to know what he’s become now.

 

 

https://bedtimeforrobots.bandcamp.com/album/big-sleep-little-death

Review of Elementals from Sacra Fern by Leo Zaccari

Elementals is a very grounded recording based on the elements of earth, air, fire, and water. The wind plays a major role in this album which is described on their bandcamp page as ritual ambient soundscapes. According their label, Black Mara, Elementals is a “spirit of the Elements”.

“Elementals is a result of working with the subtle world, where the sounds becomes
the key to the unknown, to the mysteries of alchemy. This is an attempt to find the truth of a certain existence in the perceptions and emotions.”

The album is somber, and brings to mind images of autumn and winter, of desolate skies, over fields of rock earth untouched by human civilization. “Place of Force” has a tribal vibe conjuring up spirits of the long dead and forgotten. The centerpiece of the album is creepy sounding “Hole”. Clocking in at ten minutes, this track is by far the darkest and the most likely to be used in a horror soundtrack.

The album is mostly low key, more supernatural than horror, and uses low fi field recordings in place of mechanized synth pop, but it does have a sense of foreboding. Rather than a post apocalyptic world that is the realm of cyberpunk, this album has more of a portent of things to come. Dark things. But it’s a future that is not set in stone. One that may be changed. One that possibly offers hope for humanity.

 

 

https://blackmara.bandcamp.com/album/elementals