“The Dark Tower”: Film review

Stephen King began writing his Dark Tower epic series spanning nearly 4,000 pages across 7 key books at age 23 in 1970, drawing the story out in a series of short stories that he merged into the first novel in the series in 1982. The series hit some narrative bumps and weak moments, wavered, then in Twin Peaks style it refined and refocused and King came back laser-sharp and razor hearted, cold and clinical and merciless in his resolution of the saga with book 7 in 2004, nearly 35 years after the last gunslinger Roland Deschain first chased the Man in Black across the desert. The world of the Dark Tower which holds all of reality together shows up across multiple King novels, with parallel and mirror characters creeping far beyond the 7 main books of the saga. King also added a novella prequel and a kind of interlude novel to the main cycle.
King considers “The Dark Tower” series his magnum opus, and to my mind it is indeed in the vein of the true old epics: J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings”; Milton’s “Paradise Lost”; the Iliad; the Odyssey. Drawing on much of these influences, along with Sergio Leone spaghetti Westerns, Arthurian romance, and with its genesis in Robert Browning’s poem, “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came,” the cycle is rich beyond measure, full of psychedelic imagination and otherworldly mystery. Incredible characters like the dual-personality wheelchair bound Susannah / Odetta; the mafia-hunted drug addict Eddie; the lost boy Jake Chambers; the archetype antagonist Man in Black, the man with a thousand names; Roland himself – short of words, stoic, relentless, inspired by Clint Eastwood’s man without a name of the Sergio Leone films. Compelling and fascinating places where post-apocalyptic wild-west meets fading ancient technology and magic, where honor and chivalry are held in high regard but rapidly disappearing and a Force-like / Fate-like energy called Ka draws the characters on like puppets in a grand inexorable inescapable drama.
In these worlds, all things serve the beams which go to the tower, and Roland pushes on ever closer to his goal of winding his horn as he approaches the tower, ready to face his fate and his mind-killing destiny.
Eight illustrators added visionary perspectives to the narrative.
I read the first books as a teenager, then followed as King began to bring his tale to a close, re-reading at intervals. In a way this is one of those timeless stories that follows you through life, punctuating your own story and accompanying you as you age and look from new perspectives, so “The Dark Tower” is quite dear to me.
Somehow out of these incredible 4,000 pages and the silver-platter of illustration imagery, this shit film was derived. It’s absolutely fucking rubbish. Don’t bother.
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“Dunkirk”: Film review

Not the 1958 film of the same name about the same thing, or the 2014 dramatized documentary narrated by Timothy Dalton, 2017’s “Dunkirk” relies on tension more than the graphic gore and splatter realism of harrowing WWII war films like “Saving Private Ryan.” Dramatically retelling the story of the mass evacuation of the British troops surrounded on the French coast and somehow not annihilated by the Nazis (another of their odd strategic decisions that proved ultimately fatal to them and favorable to the Allies), “Dunkirk” is well-paced and sufficiently captivating to retain interest until the end.
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Slowdive’s “Pygmalion”: Album review

With more in common with The Verve (“Rutti”) and Love Spirals Downwards (“Miranda,” “Blue Skied an’ Clear”) and even U2 (think about U2’s “Bad,” for example, when you listen to “To Watch [Demo Version]”) than prior Slowdive offerings, “Pygmalion” is beautiful, lucid, floaty, dreamy, ethereal, captivating, mesmerizing.
The album was controversial for its departure from Slowdive’s earlier sounds, and forever associated with the end of Slowdive and the supposed end of the shoegaze genre. And to my mind, this just shows the narrow-mindedness of many listeners. They really want you to just stay the same, do the thing they like you to do. Don’t evolve unless you want to be labeled a traitor. Though if you keep doing the same thing over and over you might get accused of being unimaginative, running out of ideas, being stuck in a rut. The fickle listener has a lot to answer for.
Clearly this is a phenomenal album.
This 2010 re-issue contains 12 bonus demo tracks.

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“Trapped”: Movie review

Before “Taken” there was “Trapped.” He’s not quite a mercenarial killer guy but he’s a doctor with paralyzing drugs and a plane and a mean Irish attitude, so maybe he’ll find the kidnappers before they harm his daughter.
I’m not sure why this was called “Trapped” and not “Kidnapped” or “Ransom” or “Snatched for payback” or something equally stupid but more relevant.
I’m also not sure why I watched it.
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Lemuria’s “Pebble”: Album review

I’m not sure what prompted me to check out Lemuria but I imagine I liked one or two of their songs and decided to give them a closer listen. Whatever songs earned them my closer attention, I doubt they were on this album. This is kinda fun indie pop stuff, but really not too great, and in some ways just a bit annoying. Pass.
I’ll probably still check out other albums to see what else they’ve been up to.
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Lissie’s “Live at Union Chapel”: Album review

Lissie demonstrates the raw power and strength of her voice, performance, and songwriting, in this acoustic solo set at London’s Union Chapel. The songs lose none of their impact despite being stripped of the full band arrangements, which is typically the mark of a great singer-songwriter-performer.
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Lissie’s “My Wild West”: Album review

Stand-out tracks on Lissie’s 2016 album, “My Wild West,” her third studio album, include “Daughters” and “Hero.” Borne of her painful parting from California and return to the midwest, this is another strong album yet not quite as explosively memorable as her debut.
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