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CD Reviews
I Origins PDF Print E-mail
Written by David T. Lindsay   
ImageI Origins [R]: The theory that biometric eye scans are unique to the individual causes a non-believing molecular biologist to discover his spiritual side. Partially to blame is his relationship with a quirky Argentinian/French mystery woman who when they get separated leads him to India to find a child with her exact eye pattern. Both a romantic encounter and spiritual awakening, the recurrence of the number eleven, or 1-1 as a foreshadow of eyes, i.e. “I”s as a gateway to eternity, adds to this intricate mystery that is both hauntingly realistic and a captivating expression on the existence of God.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes PDF Print E-mail
Written by David T. Lindsay   
ImageDawn of the Planet of the Apes [PG-13]: In this sequel to the 2011 prequel Rise of the Planet of the Apes, we discover that Cornelius, who will eventually end up being played by Roddy McDowell, had a pretty rough childhood before following Caesar’s lead to have sympathy for humans.

It appears that humans can’t abide living in squalor and are desperate to keep the lights on after nearly being wiped out by the ALZ-113 virus, commonly referred to as simian flu. Venturing into the Muir Woods just north of Golden Gate Bridge, human survivors find the genetically evolving apes have exponentially multiplied! Led by Caesar, who if memory serves is honored with a statue in 1973’s Battle for the Planet of the Apes, the apes simply want to be left alone.

That prehensile thumb hasn’t limited apes from flourishing, building communities and hunting deer, so that what they may lack in skill is adequately compensated for by determination. Plus apes don’t have an environmental regulatory board breathing down their neck or activists telling them what is and isn’t moral to consume. Bolder, darker and more ape-oriented, Dawn is focused on a fragile peace where mistrust is fueled by reactionary humans and renegade apes, each hoping for an advantage against the other.

In that sense, this movie is structured similar to a ‘50s western where the fort needs water and a search party is sent to convince the Indians to grant them safe passage.

Caesar doesn’t trust humans any more than his lieutenant Koba does, but he’s willing to hear them out, which is perceived as weakness. In the 1950s, resistance to seeing Indians portrayed as sympathetic led filmmakers to introduce the plausible scenario that like townsfolk, Indians could have both good and bad elements.

In Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, we get the first inkling as to how apes became the dominant species discovered by those returning astronauts in the original film: apes realized guns gave them a better advantage. Koba knows apes to be stronger than humans but guns counterbalance that strength, so he sets his sights on the humans’ arsenal.

Both the police state and tyranny hinge on the availability of guns. Sticks and pitchforks can’t stand up to automatic weapons. When the Soviets rolled into Hungary with tanks, guns would’ve at least given some resistance, more so than pitchforks.

Dawn, like the western Broken Arrow, examines that for their basic differences, both apes and humans stand to equally lose in any confrontation. It recognizes the autonomy and authority of a culture that isn’t ours but has an idea of how ours works. The moral blot here isn’t conflict but the failure to see the other side as civilized.

And in some ways the apes are more civilized than the humans who congregate in mass gatherings behind fortified rubble. Apes just want privacy, which is the cornerstone of civilized behavior. Apes believe in the closely-knit family unit. Humans, separated by disease and social collapse, have redefined the family unit.

Many will see this movie as nothing more than one huge battle royale, a slam-bang blockbuster, which may be premature and a better description of what’s to come. Dawn plays like the middle of a three-act play and may well be!

In the key scene, Cornelia, Caesar’s spouse, is struck ill, and once discovered, Ellie (Keri Russell) offers to share her antibiotics which were possibly developed via animal testing. Caesar permits it, suggesting he remembers medicine as one of the beneficial advantages of civilization.

Throughout Dawn of the Planet of the Apes the dichotomy persists that good apes and good humans can forestall the rising bad blood, creating a reversal of sympathies within the viewer: one minute you pull for the apes, next those “damn dirty apes,” to quote Heston, can’t be trusted.

The abyss that threatens to swallow ape and human alike looms on the horizon, and once implemented, gorillas will seize the opportunity to trade-up as the controlled become the controllers.

This is the thread that stitches the previous film to the 1968 original: social control determines the future.
The Muffs (July.14 issue) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jhoni Jackson   
ImageJust as Blonder as Ever
The Muffs Return Unchanged

It’s hard to comprehend why the Pixies ousted Kim Shattuck from their touring lineup last November. The Muffs singer and guitarist, who’d replaced Kim Deal as bassist, certainly had the chops, and there were no reports of botched performances. Still, she only lasted a few months. After talking with her for about 45 minutes, it’s now even more difficult for me, personally, to understand. Shattuck is cheerful, ending nearly every sentence with a giggle or a laugh. Her good humor is infectious; when the call ended, I found myself in an exceptionally positive mood.

At least there’s an obvious positive to her departure from the Pixies: The Muffs were able to focus on a new album. Whoop Dee Doo, their first LP in ten years, is due out July 29th, and it’s everything anyone who’s been a follower of the Muffs since their ’90s heyday could hope for. Shattuck managed to channel the same urgent angst and sandpaper-rough alt-pop as their debut, their sophomore (and fan favorite) Blonder and Blonder or any other Muffs work. You could tuck this brand-new collection in amongst the rest of their repertoire without sounding a single alarm.

“I think it’s just the way I am about what I listen to and stuff,” Shattuck says. “I’m really true to my own musical self. I don’t want to ever be stale, but at the same time I just have my own sensibility about song and melody and beat and guitar parts. I don’t think I really ever veered super far off of what I was trying to do in the first place.”

She did take some precautions, however, to ensure the sound was signature Muffs.  

“When I finally started writing something earnest – when I knew we were going to record – I actually made myself little challenges. The challenges were to find my original roots again. You know, people get older, they get soft, they get mellow, or they get, like, super-duper lame, just boring. I’ve seen so many musical artists do that. Like, I can’t believe [it], you’re so good, your first and second album were so good, and your last album was just so boring! So I had it in my head that I don’t want to be that person,” she says.

In alphabetical order, Shattuck revisited old inspirations. Shortly after the letter B, she was ready to write.

“The Beach Boys, Blondie, Beatles, maybe I listened to the Creation, I forget,” she says. “But I was like, ‘Oh, I love this song, I used to be influenced by this…’ I wasn’t trying to copy these guys, I just had it in my head to revisit my original influences, which totally sprung me in a direction of being really into rock ‘n’ roll again. I had started to listen to more jazz and other kinds of music, and it kind of spun me back into rock. I really wanted this album…to be really energetic again – just aggressive, and to have moments that were just, like, aghhh! Big outbursts and stuff.”

The Purge: Anarchy PDF Print E-mail
Written by David T. Lindsay   
ImageThe Purge: Anarchy [R]: The annual state-sanctioned killing spree borrows its premise from both The Most Dangerous Game where a Sadean Count hunts down human prey, and The Warriors where a small group tries to survive ’til morning moving through gang turf.  Once the commencement begins in this sequel, armed militia use traffic cameras to target housing projects forcing residents to flee into the streets where a couple is stranded due to car failure. But one of the revelers seizes the night to fight back, which catches government attention when an organized militant faction engages in a counter-Purge, thus the “Anarchy” in the film title! A subtext unfolds about the nature of heroism and why authorities need a structured chaos to hold onto power!
Tammy PDF Print E-mail
Written by David T. Lindsay   
ImageTammy [R]: A deplorably unfunny Melissa McCarthy vehicle produced in part with Will Ferrell that takes every opportunity to poke fun at and demean the average middle class American worker as dumb and confrontational whether in the fast food industry, a convenience store or at an amusement park all while portraying the well-to-do liberal community as compassionate and tolerantly insightful.  Cheated on, fired from her job and generally treated as the butt of the family, when McCarthy admits in one scene that she was, “fingered by Boz Scaggs who turned out not to be Boz Scaggs,” the movie evolves into one elaborate inside joke. Tammy seeks escape in granny’s car who demands to tag along. Susan Sarandon plays granny who wants to take a road trip to Niagara Falls. I just want to fall off the world while watching.
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