Gus Van Sant:"Drugstore Cowboy" (1989)

Like the best outlaw movies (Midnight Cowboy, Easy Rider), director Gus Van Sant's breakthrough sophomore film seeks neither to legitimate the junkie's life nor to moralize against it. The film avoids glib portrayals of its "cowboys" as fun-loving free-spirits; indeed, they're anything but free. Though it paints a corrosive picture of drug abuse, Cowboy also shows the itinerant abusers as real people and not caricatured sociopaths. Van Sant's and Daniel Yost's adaptation of the unpublished memoir of James Fogle -- who served a 22-year sentence for similar crimes -- no doubt adds to the unique realism of the film. Matt Dillon's career was revitalized by his laconic, charismatic, and sad performance as the gang's leader, and the young Heather Graham also garnered notice for her memorable performance as the junkie clan's newest inductee. Beat author William S. Burroughs even turns up for a particularly disturbing cameo. Van Sant presents the group as a monumentally dysfunctional family, but a family nonetheless: They care about each other, and we grow to care about them. Drugstore Cowboy is a rare film that takes on a potentially loaded topic and addresses it with originality, sentiment, and real power.

Le Tigre:"Le Tigre" (1999)

The debut effort from Le Tigre sounds like the best new wave album not to come from the 1980s. Here, frontwoman Kathleen Hanna expands on the lo-fi sounds she tinkered with on her debut solo album, Julie Ruin. Le Tigre melds punk, new wave, and hip-hop into a seemingly cute package. Each song is hummable, and Hanna's "valley girl intelligentsia" voice is perfectly deceptive. In "Deceptacon," a song loaded with the kind of simple contradictions that made Kurt Cobain's lyrics so effective, Hanna sings, "Let me hear you depoliticize my rhyme." "What's Yr Take on Cassavetes" is the best song about an auteur since King Missile's "Martin Scorsese." "My My Metrocard" and "Les and Ray," two of the best songs on the album, display a welcome sort of contradiction: both songs seem to be about escape and exploration ("Think I'll go a little/but then I go far"), but the catchy hooks of these tunes are inescapable. With Bikini Kill, Hanna's politics were as subtle as the Empire State Building. But with Le Tigre, as with the great Tom Tom Club song "Genius of Love," the listener is left not only humming and dancing, but exploring the wealth of reference material hidden within its confines.


Happy Mondays:"Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches" (1990)

At their peak, the Happy Mondays were hedonism in perpetual motion, a party with no beginning and no end, a party where Pills 'N' Thrills and Bellyaches was continually pumping. The apex of their career (and quite arguably the whole baggy/Madchester movement), Pills 'N' Thrills and Bellyaches pulsates with a garish neon energy, with psychedelic grooves, borrowed hooks, and veiled threats piling upon each other with the logic of a drunken car wreck. As with Bummed, a switch in producers re-focuses and redefines the Mondays, as Paul Oakenfold and Steve Osborne replace the brittle, assaultive Martin Hannett production with something softer and expansive that is truly dance-club music instead of merely suggestive of it. Where the Stone Roses were proudly pop classicists, styling themselves after the bright pop art of the '60s, the Mondays were aggressively modern, pushing pop into the ecstasy age by leaning hard on hip-hop, substituting outright thievery for sampling. Although it's unrecognizable in sound and attitude, "Step On," the big hit from Pills, is a de facto cover of John Kongos' "He's Gonna Step on You Again," LaBelle's "Lady Marmalade" provides the skeleton for "Kinky Afro," but these are the cuts that call attention to themselves; the rest of the record is draped in hooks and sounds from hits of the past, junk culture references, and passing puns, all set to a kaleidoscopic house beat. Oakenfold and Osborne may be responsible for the sound of Pills 'N' Thrills and Bellyaches, certainly more than the band, which almost seems incidental to this meticulously arranged album, but Shaun Ryder is the heart and soul of the album, the one that keeps the Mondays a dirty, filthy rock & roll outfit. Lifting melodies at will, Ryder twists the past to serve his purpose, gleefully diving into the gutter with stories of cheap drugs and threesomes, convinced that god made it easy on him, and blessed with that knowledge, happy to traumatize his girlfriend's kid by telling them that he only went with his mother cause she was dirty. He's a thug and something of a poet, creating a celebratory collage of sex, drugs, and dead-end jobs where there's no despair because only a sucker could think that this party would ever come to an end.

Billy Wilder:"Sunset Boulevard" (1950)

Tackling the kind of movie "that never quite worked," Billy Wilder made one of greatest films about Hollywood. In his pungent satire of the industry's sordidness, Wilder turned Hollywood history back on itself, with the presence of silent film star Gloria Swanson as aging silent diva Norma Desmond and great silent director Erich von Stroheim as her butler eloquently commenting on the ephemerality of fame. Her writer/gigolo Joe Gillis incarnated corruptly desperate young Hollywood, dismissing forgotten greats like Buster Keaton as "waxworks" while imagining that he can escape unscathed from Norma's fantasy world. Shot in ultra-noir black-and-white in a 1920s Hollywood mansion, the looming ceilings, overstuffed rooms, and oblique lighting rendered Norma's environment alluringly sinister in its deteriorating decadence, while Joe's famous "entrance" -- floating face-down dead in Norma's pool while recounting his story in voiceover -- caustically upended narrative conventions. Greeted with raves, Sunset Boulevard became Swanson's cinematic triumph; William Holden's performance as Joe (replacing Montgomery Clift) reignited his own stardom. Despite offending the movie moguls, Wilder was rewarded with eleven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Actor, and Actress. Along with wins for Art Direction and Franz Waxman's score, Wilder, Charles Brackett and D.M. Marshman, Jr. took a Screenplay prize. Adapted as a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber.


Woody Allen:"Annie Hall" (1977)

One of the greatest pleasures of Woody Allen's early work is his ability to skewer himself while skewering the conventions of the comedy genre. Annie Hall is perhaps the best example of this: a blend of slapstick, fantasy, and bittersweet romantic comedy, it is not so much about two people falling in love as about two brains trying to negotiate a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship. The neurotic, self-obsessed commentary on display in Annie Hall is pointed but relatively gentle, free of the bitterness that sometimes marked Allen's later work. The film is a series of insightful musings that leave the viewer feeling strangely optimistic--or at least very amused--about human nature. Much of this is due to Alvy and Annie themselves--unlike the oddly but perfectly matched couples fated to walk off into the sunset in the majority of romantic comedies, Alvy and Annie are consigned to further introspection, obsessive analysis, and bittersweet reflection. Part of the appeal of Annie Hall is that there are no pat answers: in watching the struggles of the characters, we see a reflection of our own struggles, without the condescending message that everything will be fine in the end. Annie Hall elevated Allen to the forefront of contemporary filmmakers, promoting him from a comedian who happened to make films to a comic filmmaker. The film also set a new standard for romantic comedies, its name alone becoming synonymous with the sub-genre of the intelligent, New York-based romantic comedy. On a less far-reaching scale, it also launched a fashion trend, with Diane Keaton's baggy menswear providing a welcome alternative to polyester pantsuits and flared trousers, anticipating the craze for androgynous clothing by almost twenty years.

Mott the Hoople:"All the Young Dudes" (1972)

Just at the moment Mott the Hoople were calling it a day, David Bowie swooped in and convinced them to stick around. Bowie spearheaded an image makeover, urging them to glam themselves up. He gave them a surefire hit with "All the Young Dudes," had them cover his idol's "Sweet Jane," and produced All the Young Dudes, the album that was designed to make them stars. Lo and behold, it did, which is as much a testament to Bowie's popularity as it is to his studio skill. Not to discount his assistance, since his production results in one of the most satisfying glam records and the title track is one of the all-time great rock songs, but the album wouldn't have worked if Mott hadn't already found its voice on Brain Capers. True, Dudes isn't nearly as wild as its predecessor, but the band's swagger is unmistakable underneath the flair and Ian Hunter remains on a songwriting roll, with "Momma's Little Jewel," "Sucker," and "One of the Boys" standing among his best. Take a close look at the credits, though -- these were all co-written by his bandmates, and the other highlight, "Ready for Love/After Lights," is penned entirely by Mick Ralphs, who would later revive the first section with Bad Company. The entire band was on a roll here, turning out great performances and writing with vigor. They may not be as sexy as either Bowie or Bolan, but they make up for it with knowing humor, huge riffs, and terrific tunes, dressed up with style by Ziggy himself. No wonder it's not just a great Mott record -- it's one of the defining glam platters.

Ethan Coen,Joel Coen:"No Country for Old Men" (2007)

No Country for Old Men, the darkest, bleakest film yet by Joel and Ethan Coen, manages to be both an unsettling thriller and a statement of great concern for the future. As has always been the case with Joel and Ethan's work, the movie is cast to perfection. Javier Bardem's personification of psychotic evil fills the screen with an unflinching power -- it's as impossible for the audience to look away from him as it is for his victims to get away from him. Josh Brolin plays the Vietnam veteran who kick-starts the plot with a perfect mix of practicality, durability, and quiet desperation. You can believe he's seen enough horrible things during his years in the military that he's willing to go toe-to-toe with someone as malignantly evil as Bardem's remorseless killer. As Brolin's wife, Kelly MacDonald serves up a vivid, tragic character with very little screen time. Tommy Lee Jones centers the film as a Texas sheriff who notes early on that the old-timers never even wore a gun on the job. He longs for a time like that, and although he is a man not prone to emotional displays, his recognition of the horrors he sees registers in unmistakable ways.
The Coens build the tension like the masters that they are, often going minutes without any dialogue. What sets this film apart from their others is the refusal to let their comedic impulses temper the material. As always, they get chuckles out of the Texas patois, and there are characters on the fringe who stick in the memory because of their distinct speaking patterns. However none of the levity breaks from the remarkably serious intentions or tone. The one scene Kelly MacDonald shares with Bardem echoes the final confrontation between Frances McDormand and Peter Stormare in Fargo. But where that film offered some hope, some sense that there is an essential rightness in the world worth preserving, No Country is about the world we know coming to an end. Those expecting a pure genre film may be taken aback by the final act, especially since the first 100 minutes rank as an expert thriller. Consisting primarily of extended dialogue scenes, save for one last shocking act of violence, the closing passages of the film underline the themes that Jones' character lays out in the movie's opening voice-over. In Fargo, Margie grieved because she realized not everyone has the simple decency not to kill. No Country for Old Men is an expression of mourning for a world that seems to have lost any semblance of decency or order.

Isaac Hayes:"Hot Buttered Soul" (1969)

Released at the tail end of the '60s, Hot Buttered Soul set the precedent for how soul would evolve in the early '70s, simultaneously establishing Isaac Hayes and the Bar-Kays as major forces within black music. Though not quite as definitive as Black Moses or as well-known as Shaft, Hot Buttered Soul remains an undeniably seminal record; it stretched its songs far beyond the traditional three-to-four-minute industry norm, featured long instrumental stretches where the Bar-Kays stole the spotlight, and it introduced a new, iconic persona for soul with Hayes' tough yet sensual image. With the release of this album, Motown suddenly seemed manufactured and James Brown a bit too theatrical. Surprising many, the album features only four songs. The first, "Walk on By," is an epic 12-minute moment of true perfection, its trademark string-laden intro just dripping with syrupy sentiment, and the thumping mid-tempo drum beat and accompanying bassline instilling a complementary sense of nasty funk to the song; if that isn't enough to make it an amazing song, Hayes' almost painful performance brings yet more feeling to the song, with the guitar's heavy vibrato and the female background singers taking the song to even further heights. The following three songs aren't quite as stunning but are still no doubt impressive: "Hyperbolicsyllabicsequedalymistic" trades in sappy sentiment for straight-ahead funk, highlighted by a stomping piano halfway through the song; "One Woman" is the least epic moment, clocking in at only five minutes, but stands as a straightforward, well-executed love ballad; and finally, there's the infamous 18-minute "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" and its lengthy monologue which slowly eases you toward the climactic, almost-orchestral finale, a beautiful way to end one of soul's timeless, landmark albums, the album that transformed Hayes into a lifelong icon


Michel Gondry:"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (2004)

At once scathingly unsentimental and thrillingly romantic, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is the perfect date movie for smart couples. The film offers further evidence of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman's amazing talent for generating intense emotional investment from seemingly absurd situations, and visual fantasist Michel Gondry shows here (as he failed to do in his first collaboration with Kaufman, Human Nature) that he is the perfect director to bring the screenwriter's brilliant, twisted, solipsistic vision to life. Gondry's visual inventiveness matches Kaufman's enjoyably offbeat conceit. In the film's jaw-dropping centerpiece, Gondry and Kaufman literally deconstruct the typical romantic comedy "falling in love" montage, as the technicians of Lacuna work on Joel's (Jim Carrey) brain, erasing the high and low points of his relationship with Clementine (Kate Winslet) as fast as he can remember them. While there's a surface similarity here to the chase through John Malkovich's subconscious in Being John Malkovich, the emotional stakes here are higher, as Joel has a change of heart during the procedure, and, aided by his own mind's version of Clementine, frantically tries to preserve a memory of her, eventually going to comically desperate lengths. Gondry surprises us again and again with the images he conjures from Kaufman's labyrinthine script. In Human Nature, it often seemed as though the filmmakers were holding the bizarre characters up to ridicule, but Eternal Sunshine is, at its core, generous and humane. We can't help but empathize with Joel's yearning or fall for Clementine's passion and confusion. The film is so generously overstuffed with ideas and jokes that it demands repeat viewing. Capturing the joys and pains of romantic obsession as few filmmakers have before, Gondry and Kaufman have come up with a masterpiece.

The Make-Up:"Save Yourself" (1999)

Save Yourself, the Make-Up's sixth album in just over three years, reflects not only the group's prolific nature but the corresponding growth spurt in their sound as well. Though it's not as eclectic as their singles compilation I Want Some, Save Yourself's nine tracks include rave-ups like "White Belts" and moody, psychedelic pieces like the title track and "I Am Pentagon." Brendan Canty's clean production and the songs' intricate arrangements make this album the most accomplished and limber blend of punk, gospel, psychedelia, and soul from the Make-Up -- that is, until their next album.

J. Krishnamurti

Jiddu Krishnamurti was born on 11 May 1895 in Madanapalle, a small town in south India. He and his brother were adopted in their youth by Dr Annie Besant, then president of the Theosophical Society. Dr Besant and others proclaimed that Krishnamurti was to be a world teacher whose coming the Theosophists had predicted. To prepare the world for this coming, a world-wide organization called the Order of the Star in the East was formed and the young Krishnamurti was made its head.

In 1929, however, Krishnamurti renounced the role that he was expected to play, dissolved the Order with its huge following, and returned all the money and property that had been donated for this work.

From then, for nearly sixty years until his death on 17 February 1986, he travelled throughout the world talking to large audiences and to individuals about the need for a radical change in mankind.

Krishnamurti is regarded globally as one of the greatest thinkers and religious teachers of all time. He did not expound any philosophy or religion, but rather talked of the things that concern all of us in our everyday lives, of the problems of living in modern society with its violence and corruption, of the individual's search for security and happiness, and the need for mankind to free itself from inner burdens of fear, anger, hurt, and sorrow. He explained with great precision the subtle workings of the human mind, and pointed to the need for bringing to our daily life a deeply meditative and spiritual quality.

Krishnamurti belonged to no religious organization, sect or country, nor did he subscribe to any school of political or ideological thought. On the contrary, he maintained that these are the very factors that divide human beings and bring about conflict and war. He reminded his listeners again and again that we are all human beings first and not Hindus, Muslims or Christians, that we are like the rest of humanity and are not different from one another. He asked that we tread lightly on this earth without destroying ourselves or the environment. He communicated to his listeners a deep sense of respect for nature. His teachings transcend man-made belief systems, nationalistic sentiment and sectarianism. At the same time, they give new meaning and direction to mankind's search for truth. His teaching, besides being relevant to the modern age, is timeless and universal.

Krishnamurti spoke not as a guru but as a friend, and his talks and discussions are based not on tradition-based knowledge but on his own insights into the human mind and his vision of the sacred, so he always communicates a sense of freshness and directness although the essence of his message remained unchanged over the years. When he addressed large audiences, people felt that Krishnamurti was talking to each of them personally, addressing his or her particular problem. In his private interviews, he was a compassionate teacher, listening attentively to the man or woman who came to him in sorrow, and encouraging them to heal themselves through their own understanding. Religious scholars found that his words threw new light on traditional concepts. Krishnamurti took on the challenge of modern scientists and psychologists and went with them step by step, discussed their theories and sometimes enabled them to discern the limitations of those theories. Krishnamurti left a large body of literature in the form of public talks, writings, discussions with teachers and students, with scientists and religious figures, conversations with individuals, television and radio interviews, and letters. Many of these have been published as books, and audio and video recordings.

Mr. Freeman – an online cartoon character that deconstructs offline reality

Mr. Freeman is a character of a series of black-and-white cartoons. The first episode [RUS] of a “Grim Fandango” [EN]-like animation appeared on Sept. 21, 2009. Since then, 11 episodes have been published and the total number of views surpassed 6 million. Mr. Freeman has its own blog on LiveJournal, a website and numerous representations on various social networks. Despite many speculations, the names of Mr. Freeman’s creators still remain unknown. It’s clear, however, that it’s done by a very professional team of artists and animators. On April 15, 2010, Mr. Freeman received [EN] a Deutsche Welle “The Best of Blogs” award for the best video blog.
Mr. Freeman cartoons have no political messages. They focus on existential, philosophical issues of everyday life. Mr. Freeman appeals to the spectators, portraying the emptiness of their lives, which consist of consumerism, entertainment and laughing at others. The first part of the movie was entitled “Are you sure about who you are and whether you exist?” “Are you real? Are you unique? You are just a small screw in the system,” says Mr. Freeman. He gradually and consistently deconstructs the world of a typical RuNet user, mocking values, common knowledge, morality and social hierarchies.


Nicolas Roeg:"Walkabout" (1971)

Arguably director Nicolas Roeg's most enduring success, Walkabout is a complex, poetic cinematic experience. Roeg's overactive sense of symbolism is well-suited to the films themes of loneliness, alienation and social consciousness. Walkabout retains the director's offbeat style -- very little dialogue, shifting points of view, graphic, often shocking images, and an almost misanthropic world view -- but has a coherence and emotional depth missing from much of his later work. Though film's plot is often fascinating, it is Roeg's use of the camera -- both in broad strokes and minute observations -- that propels the film. He treats his characters as just one aspect of the sumptuous beauty and horror at play in the Australian outback.

The Afghan Whigs:"Gentlemen" (1993)

The Afghan Whigs' sound was growing larger by the release during the days on Sub Pop, so the fact that Gentlemen turned out the way it did wasn't all that surprising as a result ("cinematic" was certainly the word the band was aiming for, what with credits describing the recording process as being "shot on location" at Ardent Studios). While Gentlemen is no monolith, it is very much of a piece at the start. While "If I Were Going" opens things on a slightly moodier tip, it's the crunch of "Gentlemen," "Be Sweet," and "Debonair" that really stands out, each of which features a tightly wound R&B punch that rocks out as much as it grooves, if not more so. Greg Dulli's lyrics immediately set about the task of emotional self-evisceration at the same time, with lines like "Ladies, let me tell you about myself -- I got a dick for a brain" being among the calmer points. The album truly comes into its own with "When We Two Parted," though, as sad countryish guitars chime over a slow crawling rhythm and Dulli's quiet-then-anguished detailing of an exploding relationship. From there on in, things surge from strength to greater strength, sometimes due to the subtlest of touches -- the string arrangement on "Fountain and Fairfax" or the unexpected, resigned lead vocal from Scrawl's Marcy Mays on "My Curse," for instance. Other times, it's all the much more upfront, as "What Jail Is Like," with its heartbroken-and-fierce combination of piano, feedback, and drive building to an explosive chorus. Dulli's blend of utter abnegation and masculine swagger may be a crutch, but when everything connects, as it does more often than not on Gentlemen, both he and his band are unstoppable.


Neil Jordan:"The Crying Game" (1992)

The Crying Game was heavily marketed based on its story's "secret" -- "the movie no one is talking about," quipped one news magazine about the burden of knowing the big revelation. The hype helped fill a lot of seats, but it's still a good twist -- if it hasn't been spoiled for you -- in a challenging, daring film. Writer/director Neil Jordan earned a well-deserved Academy Award for the expertly written script, which starts as a tense thriller and winds its way into a unique and engrossing love story. It is backed by the strong performance of Jordan regular Stephen Rea as Fergus, as well as excellent supporting turns from Miranda Richardson and Forest Whitaker, and a striking (to say the least) debut by Jaye Davidson as Dil. The Crying Game is much more than a mere setup for a shock. While Fergus must escape his own past, physically and emotionally, he and Dil enjoy a quirky romance that must survive the powerful revelations each has in store for the other, a romance that would be intriguing regardless of "the secret" at its core. Indeed, as strong as The Crying Game is as a thriller, it is even stronger as a study of people, their relationships, and, ultimately, human nature.

dEUS:"Worst Case Scenario" (1994)

About the only thing wrong with dEUS' full-length debut is that the band put its best foot forward right at the start with the great "Suds & Soda." A tense, energetic rip with Klaas Janzoons' violin the final touch that sends everything over the top, it has all the wired energy of early-'90s rock, but with its own arty edge. The only thing quite like it might have been PJ Harvey's early efforts, but with more feedback throughout the mix and a fine organ break. From that great start, the five-piece spent its time exploring its own interesting rock zone, referencing back to classic rock influences and jazz pioneers as much as any of its many frazzled contemporaries. It's a bit facile to say that if Tom Waits were a young guy in 1992 he might have formed this band, but there's something agreeably impassioned and rough about Worst Case Scenario which calls to mind Waits' own avant- garage jazz efforts in the mid-'80s. Having songs that sample Frank Zappa ("Little Umbrellas," surfacing in the slow burn of the title track) and Don Cherry gives an idea of both the members' backgrounds, and the desire to see what to do with them rather than simply be reverential. Tom Barman's singing hits both loud, full-bodied shrieks, and low-and-slow as needed, while the band in general strike a great balance between straight-ahead performance and subtle studio trickery, especially courtesy of percussionist Julle De Borgher, playing everything from drums to "gas heating." When the quintet turns in a sassy, snarling performance, as on "Morticiachair," it's not too hard to see them as European cousins of Girls Against Boys or even Rocket From the Crypt. Alternately, for songs like the "Right as Rain," dEUS become the best late-night, last-drink band out there, while the building crunch of "Hotellounge" finds them able to combine the two extremes just so.

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