Saturday, December 30, 2006


Strap yourself in for the latest Retro Bollywood mindblower - from the film Teesri Manzil (1966); this is very Powell/Pressburger.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Hussein Swings

Saddam Hussein is still alive at the time of this writing, but he's scheduled to be executed in a couple of hours. CNN is on in the background - they switched from Gerald Ford retrospectives to this story, and their coverage is shaping up to be a ghastly version of a New Year's Eve countdown - I'm waiting for the clock to start ticking down to 10 pm tonight, dawn in Baghdad, the time of the hanging.

I'm sure Hussein, the self-styled Braveheart of the Middle East, would choose martyrdom of a more spectacular nature (drawn and quartered? strapped onto a scud missile launched into Israel? crushed by a giant apple?) than a simple rope snapping his neck, outlaw style, but that's how the Iraqi government wants it. Low key.

Then there will be the aftermath. I remember when his sons Uday and Qusay were blown up in a firefight a while back, and footage of their bashed-in corpses were broadcast right afterwards, the excuse given that, well, in the Arab world, the people there would never believe they were really dead unless the evidence were thrust in their collective face. Right. So why execute this man during Islamic religious holidays? Perhaps they'll broadcast the whole thing live on Al-Jeezy, in Smell-o-vision®.

Last week I saw some promos from a new pseudo-controversial CBC sitcom called Little Mosque on the Prairie, which looks like a multi-cultural spin on the Corner Gas formula - the bumper-sticker marketing campaign describes the show as 'Coming Sunni' and 'Halal-arious'. May I join in? 'It looks like Shiite!'

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Be A Mindstalker

Can you still buy Tab?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I Have So Much Sorrow

French Pop Wednesdays claps it's hands and says "oui" with a jaunty pas de trois belted out by Annie Philippe - "J'ai Tant de Peine".

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Black Caesar

Maybe it was because he died on Christmas Day, but the passing of James Brown seems like a cultural afterthought - his death was the subject of a minute or two obituary halfway through the broadcast on the nightly news; they didn't even fade to black at the end of the piece, they just went on to the next story. I highly doubt if Bob Dylan had died on Christmas Day the coverage would have been as slight. But Brown was Dylan, Bach and Beethoven.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Cinq Coins

It's strange that Tony Bill's Five Corners has vanished into obscurity. It was a major Christmas release in 1987 for the arthouse scene, with a cast of young actors on the cusp of major fame; Jodie Foster, Tim Robbins and John Turturro. It wasn't a hit, but it had a lot of name recognition at the time, not least because it was written by John Patrick Shanley, who would win the Oscar for the other film he wrote that year, Moonstruck. He seemed like a major new screenwriter at the time.

Five Corners was tough to market: here's a one sentence summary of the film I just found on the internet machine:
A rapist gets out of jail and returns to his old neighborhood in the Bronx, setting off a series of events that bring together his victim, her boyfriend, a pacifist, two wise-cracking cops, an algebra teacher killed by an arrow and other assorted eccentrics.
So yes, escalating weirdness, and yet grounded firmly in impeccable production design that recalls photos from Look and Life magazines of the period (1964, the Bronx). It made for a very memorable film... actually I'm almost afraid to see it again in case it's not as good as I recall...

But there's no point in grabbing it in its present condition. Cannon put it out on home video in the nineties but they must have lost the rights along the road to ruin, for in the last days of the VHS era and into the DVD era, myriad public domain releases of Five Corners started popping up in discount movie bins at Wal-Mart, etc, most likely all mastered from a ninth-generation VHS dub. Not even the cast was enough for a major player to grab that one when the rights came into the market? I'm sure you can buy a fine quality version in France...

Pop Pop

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A French Pop Christmas

French Pop Wednesdays brings you frankincense, myrhh and more gold from the Dim Dam Dom vaults. Noël à Vaugirard, from 1966. A French Pop all-star cast tells the story of Christmas. Kind of. Starring Serge Gainsbourg as Joseph, Chantal Goya as Mary, and Jacques Dutronc rocking out in a room full of slabs of beef and dancing nuns. You read that right.

Joyeux Noël!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Don't Stop Till You Amitabh

My last Bollywood clip got the big gundown at the Youtube Corral a day after I linked to it, so to make up for it, here's the one and only Amitabh Bachchan from the Bollywood thriller Gangaa Jamunaa Saraswathi. Here Amitabh gives a masterclass on the art of Bringing It On.

Best of Summer 1989

Smooth Operators Are Standing By

I'm not sure where this clip was taken from (a Quebec telethon?) but sacré fils! Homegrown French Pop! Michéle Richard rocks the biggest kangol I've ever seen in my life while belting out "J'Ecoutais La Mer". Is it too late to donate?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Vinyl Fantasy

This jawdropping sci-fi disco number hails from the Bollywood musical Karz (1980).

You Won't Believe Your Mind

File under Super Inframan...

Friday, December 08, 2006

La Fievre Du Samedi Soir

Worked out pretty well for Stephané Dion, but the Quebecois icon I would have encouraged to run for the Liberal Party leadership would have been Guy LaFleur. For some reason he chose not to; was he afraid the disco album would come back to haunt him?

(Thanks for the headz, Tim!)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Jazz Bar

We've all heard about how John Woo drew inspiration for his dynamic Hong Kong action melodramas of the late eighties on the films of Jean-Pierre Melville, Sam Peckinpah and Douglas Sirk, but no one mentions what seems to me to be a key influence on his work - a music video that must have been in heavy rotation on MTV Asia - 'The Captain of Her Heart', by Swiss or Austrian (or Dutch?) one-hit wonders Double (pronounced doo-blay). Actually, I wouldn't be surprised to find out Woo directed it.

Dutronc Dutronc Dutronc !

French Pop Wednesday thinks, therefore... I forget. That's life.

Jacques Dutronc sings 'Et Moi Et Moi Et Moi' en direct. I've said it before and I'll say it again - what's the point of having a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame if Dutronc's not in there? He's been eligible for more than 15 years.