Tag Archives: 2013

Begin Again (2013)

Cut to the chase — in fact, it makes sense for me me to start on that given how this film struck me.  The story is good, but it wasn’t the important thing to me, but it supported what I saw as the bigger point to the film … which maybe comes out to a musician viewing the film as opposed to a non-musician.  So maybe now you’re saying I haven’t cut to the chase, but you’d be wrong — I’m coming off as cryptic because I haven’t written the rest of my point supporting my what would be cryptic.

Right, so, let’s get on with it.

So here’s the basis of the story …

A British song-writer breaks-up with her rising-pop-star boyfriend and gets noticed for one of her songs by an out-of-work record producer when she performs at an open-mic in NYC the night before she was going to return to England.  The music producer convinces her to stay and record an album with him but they don’t have money or other support to make it.  Through portable gear and musicians of varying abilities they take her songs to the streets and record live around New York.  The first track gets recorded in an alley, another in Central Park, one on a train platform, the last on the roof of a building.

Here’s my thing from this film …

To date I have more than 30 concepts for albums that I want to record.  To date I have done a lot of work toward five or twelve of these and haven’t recorded a single note maybe beyond a few demos.  Five or so years ago I got myself into a playing-skill space over a three-day weekend.  I was back in school at the time — busy — I felt that if I could keep working during the coming school week that I could belt out recording my part the following weekend.  Well, I returned to school, was busy with school work (remember, ‘busy’), and didn’t continue to practice hence I didn’t make the recording.  But what if I had?  What if I just made the recording, even if I wasn’t that little blip further along in my ability.  I thought of it then, figuring that I’d be better off to do it, to make it, — to have a recording to work with it if I didn’t get to push for that little bit better playing ability.

Why not record?  Why not record every performance, record every time you’re close to the idea you want to record?  I’m not talking about studio recording – I can’t record that, many musicians can’t.  I’m talking about personal gear.  These days you can get good equipment that’s pretty easy to use, really for not much money.  At a guess, I’ve spent about a thousand dollars on music gear — about half new and half used.  I’ve read a little how to use it, I’ve experimented with it, I’ve asked advise of folks who are in the know, and I’ve captured recordings that sound at least pretty good – recordings that can be worked with.  Likely, had I recorded and later recorded the other musicians, got the album finished, let’s face it … it wouldn’t have been the last time I played those numbers … and I could have recorded them again.  I could have taken the album and booked myself for small performances, maybe had something special happen on some night, and recorded that too.

I’m not saying playing bad is good or making a garbage recording is acceptable.  Play well and make a good recording, but neither have to be some ideal of ‘perfection’.  It’d be better to play, perform, and record as opposed to never doing any.  The Grateful Dead recorded their songs, released, and once touring always played exactly as they did on their albums?  NO!  Their recordings were a foundation to work from, to create upon.  Record – get the playing, get the moment, do it instead of don’t, you may get something unique.

I didn’t cut to the chase, did I?

By the way … if you like Begin Again — which was directed by John Carney — I urge you to watch Once (2007), which Mr. Carney both wrote & directed.

Begin Again at IMDB and Wikipedia

Outpost: Rise of the Spetsnaz (2013)

Red Blood

As far as I’m concerned Outpost: Rise of the Spetsnaz does not deserve the honor of a review or a comment on my webpage — but — I bought a copy, I’ve seen it, and I’m fairly thorough …. and I’ll share my opinion for other film fans of a genere to see something great or avoid something terrible.

Outpost: Rise of the Spetsnaz = AVOID

So there are a few things that happen in HolloWood that really stink up art, films, creative ideas …. and I mean stink up like the scrapings from the dog park at the end of a July weekend.  One of them is excessive creative liberties …. “I paid for the license on this story, and now regardless of whatever that story is I can do what I want — and I do!”  Another one is the thought that world federation wrestlers, extreme fighters, or ultimate weight lifters can act …. instead of putting them out to pasture once they’ve body-slammed their brains out or whatever, someone tries putting them into film.  Sometimes that works — a great example would be Dwayne Johnson — not only did we get lucky there, we got a real gift.  Usually what’s done is they put them in high-action/low-story roles, and because there’s a bunch of action it must be a good film.  WRONG!

This film takes the setting of Outpost and tries to give the back-story — the origins of the machine and the experiments — and strings along a battle-royal with some Russian Special Forces soldiers who come off more as resistance fighters and ultimately does nothing to establish the subtitle of the ‘rise of the Spetsnaz‘.

The opportunity for a quality, meaningful, story-establishing prequel to Outpost (2008) was entirely missed with Outpost: Rise of the Spetsnaz.  As my understanding goes, there was more money wasted on Rise of the Spetsnaz than there was spent on making Outpost: Black Sun (2012).  Black Sun is in my mind a superior film to ROTSpetnaz.  Black Sun derivatives from the character of the original 2008 film but stays enough within the universe.  Rise of the Spetnaz just took the setting and did whatever it wanted for the sake of making some meatheads an acting career.  In Black Sun the world is being threatened by the machine and the un-dead phase-shifting nazi super soldiers, and had the money that was thrown away in making ROTSpetnaz been put to Black Sun it could have delivered this world-threat development better.

I now own the 2008, 2012, and 2013 Outpost films.  I’m glad to have seen all three to know all the ground covered with the original idea, but had I known what was done with Outpost: Rise of the Spetsnaz I wouldn’t have paid ten cents for a copy.

Outpost: Rise of the Spetsnaz (2013) at IMDB and Wikipedia