Two recent things I’ve really, really enjoyed:
I’ve been listening to Infected Mushroom since 1999, when they released their first full-length album, The Gathering. I’m often bored by four-on-the-floor techno, but this album really caught my attention. You could tell they didn’t take themselves too seriously, and the songs were fun, and well written and produced. Their next album was in the same vein, especially with tracks like Dracul, where an orchestral sample from the score of Dracula turns acapella mid-way through the song.
I had a chance to see them live, and their show was nothing short of incredible. Their last two albums, however, were ‘serious’ trance, and not very interesting at all. And so, I mourned for the loss of yet another electronic act destroyed by a desire to be accessible.
Which brings me to Converting Vegetarians. This is a double-cd release, the first disc consisting of ‘old school’ Infected Mushroom tracks. Very blippy, goofy, and not at all self-involved. Fantastic, but not too interesting unless you’re a fan of the style (which I am). The second cd is mainstream trance, complete with uplifting synth lines, and cheesy female vocals. Chord progression, and all that. Fantastic, but not too interesting unless you’re a fan of the style (which I am not).
Overall, the album is excellently accomplished, and intelligent. Regardless of which style you prefer in your goa-slash-psytrance, there’s at least an hour of music you’ll enjoy. Listen to it.
This is a first film by Kurt Wimmer, who wrote, directed, and kicked my ass. Seriously, this film would have been an instant sci-fi/dystopian classic if Dimension Films had marketed it whatsoever. I had never heard of it before I stumbled across it in a binaries newsgroup, and I thought it’d be a funny Matrix rip-off that’d be worth a few laughs. Instead, I got the ass-kicking.
This is simply one of the best movies I have ever seen. Visually, it’s beautiful. Set in an Orwellian post-war world, the visuals mix imposing real-life architecture (Hitler’s Olympic Stadium) with paintings instead of models, giving the setting a washed-out, surreal feel. The action sequences show the first real innovation in film gunfights since Bullet Time, or when Chow-Yun Fat first jumped onto a dolly with two handguns. All the actors are perfect (really, perfect) in their roles, and the lighting is the best I’ve seen since a Coen film.
Wimmer manages to do more with a ridiculously short shooting window and a tiny budget than most action directors have ever done. No distracting CGI, no wires (really – no wires), and for at least half the action sequences, no choreographer and no rehearsal time. The only thing more impressive than the movie itself is that it came out of production conditions terrible enough to sink most films.
In addition, the movie is brilliant. Obviously drawing from Bradbury, Huxley, P. K. Dick and other great dystopian writers, the world this movie is set in gives me the same chills that I felt the first time I read 1984. The plot is simple, but the narrative is complex, and repeated viewings reveal insight and subtleties into the motivations of the characters.
I’ve seen a dozen reviews that have called it the worst piece of cinema since Battlefield Earth, but I can’t say enough good things about this film. It’s science fiction, it’s dystopian literature, and it’s a fantastic action movie. Rent it. Buy it. If you can’t find it, I’ll give you a copy. Just watch it.