Archive for the mod Category

Review – Brighton Rock (2010)

Posted in cinema, mod, movie posters, reviews/opinions with tags , on February 7, 2012 by reccaphoenix

Recca’s note: Sorry for the paucity of reviews and posts lately.  I’ve been in law school, which basically means no time for anything, especially not watching films.  I’ve also just been lazy.  When I’m exhausted, I can only stomach light comedic television nowadays.  That being said, I just got Hulu Plus last year (Netflix drove me away) and they have a large selection of Criterion films.  So expect something periodically in the future.  I’ve been on a bit of documentary kick lately, though, and I highly recommend The Eyes of Tammy Faye.  Anyhow, I can’t say no to a mod movie review (the specialty of this blog), and when the mod remake of Brighton Rock presented itself on BBC iPlayer the other day, I had to watch it.  So on to the review!

Brighton Rock (2010, UK) dir. Rowan Joffe

I saw the original Brighton Rock (1947) a few years ago on film and fell in love with it.  When I heard that there was a remake in the works both based more on the novel AND set in mod-infested 1964 Brighton, I squealed fangirl squeals of delight.  I picked up the Brighton Rock novel by Graham Greene right away and while reading it, imagined how the remake would transfer the plot into the mod era.

So, naturally, I was quite excited to see this film.  Overall, it’s a solid watch, though it is not without its issues.  I am inevitably going to make a few comparisons with the original film which, though excellent, is also not without its issues, so please bear with me in that regard.  I would highly recommend viewing both (in any order) as well as reading the novel (if you’re into crime novels with a twist of Catholic subtext).

The plot concerns a young gang leader named Pinkie, who struggles against an established mob run by Corleone (played brilliantly in this adaptation by Andy Serkis of Gollum fame).  When Fred Hale gets caught between the two gangs, Pinkie has to murder him.  A young waitress named Rose becomes the only remote witness to Fred Hale’s “disappearance” and Pinkie starts up a relationship with her to keep her quiet.  Both of them are Catholics, which figures into the plot extensively.  In the meantime, busybody good-time girl Ida (who in this adaptation also runs the cafe where Rose works and is played by the great Helen Mirren) becomes interested in the mystery and will stop at nothing to make sure Pinkie is caught.

The most interesting part of the story, in my opinion, is the relationship between Pinkie and Rose.  This part of the story is what the 2010 adaptation excels at portraying.  Rose is a little bit overacted in the 1947 version and I tended to pity her less in that adaptation.  Rose is far more dimensional in the new film.

The new film sticks to the novel in some ways more than the 1947 film, but it’s a little superficial.  Characters are condensed (Ida and the cafe owner) and changed, along with the time period.  While this largely works, I found Ida to be the weakest character in the new film, while she was far more interesting in the 1947 version and in the novel.  Helen Mirren’s Ida is too serious and comes off as pretty boring overall.  The shorter length of the film may be to blame, but she barely gets involved and the tension surrounding her investigations has little time to develop.  Kudos to the new film for expounding on the Brighton Rock candy metaphor, a central feature of the novel’s plot.

The cinematography in the 1947 film is far more interesting and black-and-white lends itself to the gangster film noir atmosphere of the plot a bit better.  The 2010 film is well shot, but it can never beat the fantastic murder scenes in the original.  Interestingly enough, the ending of this film is shot-for-shot an homage to the 1947 version.  Color does help capture the mod world quite well, though, and I loved the use of colors in Rose’s clothing throughout the film.

I really appreciated that this film didn’t become complete mod-sploitation.  That being said, a few of the “mod moments” felt a little bit forced, such as when Rose goes shopping.  The scene where Pinkie dresses in the full mod kit – fishhooked parka sleeves included – is pure mod porn.  These scenes didn’t detract from the film as a whole, though (and I rather enjoyed most of them, being a mod myself).  These moments fit the plot – Pinkie seems to be a bit of a mod, and he steals a scooter and uses a mod disguise to escape into the crowd.  However, mods are notoriously picky and even I, not hardcore by any means, found a few issues.  Some of the men had more “freakbeat era” long haircuts which you probably wouldn’t see in 1964, and a few of the girls had more mid-60s Carnaby-type dresses as well.  This is ‘pop culture’ mod, but it doesn’t fit the time period.  I also spotted some older people as extras in the scooter parade scene, which is also completely inconsistent with the era (although I bet those old-timers were glad to be in the scene…it probably reminded them of their youth).  On a positive note, the Brighton mod riots add a fascinating new dimension to the film’s thematic focus on the conflict between young and old (Pinkie vs. Corleone, Rose vs. Ida, mod rebels vs. Brighton businesses).

I appreciate the risks taken in this adaptation, and unlike most adaptations of great films, I enjoyed it and could easily re-watch it.  Again, though, while Rose came across better in this film, I miss the Pinkie and Ida in the ’47 film, and the murder scenes that shone in the original can’t be matched.  I find myself in the odd position of recommending both films.  They are both fun to watch and look great.  I especially recommend the new film for fellow mods (let’s face it, this is the closest thing to another ‘Quadrophenia’ that we’re going to get in this decade).  I hope the film sparks another revival (we need one!)

(chants) We are the mods, we are the mods, we are, we are, we are the mods…..

Sorry, I got carried away there.  Check out both films….and/or read the novel!

–Recca 2/7/12

Rating (2010 film): 7/10


Review: What’s New Pussycat (1965)

Posted in animation, cinema, mod, reviews/opinions with tags , , , , , on August 15, 2010 by reccaphoenix

What’s New Pussycat (1965, UK) 35mm, color, dir. Clive Donner & Richard Talmadge, written by Woody Allen

I’d been dying to see this one for a while.  I love Woody Allen’s films, my two favorite Peters (O’Toole and Sellers) are in this film, it’s from the ’60s, Tom Jones sings the theme, Burt Bacharach did the music, and Richard Williams (great animator) did the opening titles.  If you, like me, fell in love with Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia and wanted to see him in a film with some women, then….this is one for you.  At least it would be, if not for some major issues.  The many things I mentioned above make the film appealing on a cosmetic level but are not combined in the best way they could be.

This film concerns a great number of characters and love polygons, which I will try to sum up the best I can…showing one of the film’s weaknesses – too much going on.  But then again, it’s a kind of Continue reading

Review – Modesty Blaise (1966)

Posted in cinema, mod, movie posters, reviews/opinions with tags , , , , on April 3, 2010 by reccaphoenix

(heavy emphasis on the MOD in Modesty)

First of all, how could I not see this film?  It features two of my favorite actors of the ’60s, Monica Vitti (of Antonioni fame) and Terence Stamp (the attractive young idol of Swinging London and a damn fine actor – see my review of The Limey for one of his more recent works) in the leading roles, has some MODTASTIC architecture, costumes, and sets, a hip score, and action-packed espionage…. so, given the opportunity to Continue reading

Amazing Pete Townshend quotation

Posted in mod, music, reviews/opinions with tags , , , , on November 10, 2009 by reccaphoenix

“I wasn’t tough enough to be a member of a gang, not good-lookin’ enough to be in with the birds, not clever enough to make it at school, not good enough with the feet to be a good football player. I was a loser.
*cheer from the crowd*
And, uh, I think everybody feels that way at some point. And somehow, bein’ a mod, even though I was too old to be a mod, really, kinda got me right there.  And I wrote this song with that in mind.  Jimmy, the uh, hero of the story, is kinda thinkin’ he hasn’t got much goin’ for himself, but at least he’s, uh, ‘one.'”
– Pete Townshend of The Who introducing the song “I’m One” in Largo, Maryland in 1973 (Quadrophenia Tour).

This little gem came off a Who live bootleg, Taking the Capitol, recorded at the Capitol Centre in Largo, Maryland back in ’73.  It’s not the best recording or the best performance, but it does have a very prominent bass and some wonderful snippets of Townshend explaining Quadrophenia.

I can really relate to that quote, though.  Quadrophenia changed my life.  I finally had something to relate to for my various identity crises and struggle to be a mod.  And mod has been the only subculture I’ve been involved in that I really clicked with and didn’t make me feel like a poser trying to assert myself.

What can I say, they’re my favourite band.  And they always will be.

My “mandala” for The Who

Posted in artwork, mod, music with tags , , , , on October 1, 2009 by reccaphoenix

I made this several years ago, and recently re-discovered it on my computer while cleaning out my art folder…

(c) 2008 Recca Phoenix

(c) 2008 Recca Phoenix

(click for fullsize)

It’s a “mandala” of sorts for my favorite band of all time, The Who.  The way much of their music and albums are organized sort of lends itself to the mathematical and geometric organization here, I guess.  4 (band members) is such a nice number, and it plays into many of their works.

Now for the explanation.

Obviously, the overall background motif is a British flag….because the Who were British and it has at least something to do with them.  Which leads me to the next feature, “MOD” at the center in a mod symbol, the R.A.F rondel.  The Who came out of the mod subculture and were originally sort of a “modsploitation band” called the High Numbers who wrote songs about mod stuff.  Moving outwards from the center, we have the blue ring of the rondel, the 4 band members as expressed by 4 songs showing the 4 personalities of Jimmy, the main character of the album Quadrophenia.  These songs are the “themes” of each of the band members: “Bell Boy” (Keith Moon), “Is It Me For A Moment” (John Entwhistle), “Helpless Dancer” (Roger Daltrey), and “Love Reign O’er Me” (Pete Townshend).  The red bars radiating from the center contain the names of the band members.  The “records” represent 4 of the Who’s most well-known/representative songs, “Baba O’Riley,” “I Can See For Miles,” “My Generation,” and “Who Are You.”  The lyrics of these 4 songs are written on the diagonal white bars that cut through them.  Finally, the 8 triangular blue sections in the background are the 8 best albums by the Who (which is obviously a matter of opinion, but most would agree with me): A Quick One, My Generation, Quadrophenia, Who Are You, Tommy, Live At Leeds, The Who Sell Out, and Who’s Next.

So that’s my little “fan art” for my favorite band.  Hope you enjoyed it.

“Human Metamorphoses” 「人間昆虫記」by Osamu Tezuka

Posted in anime, japan, manga, mod, movie posters, osamu tezuka, reviews/opinions with tags , , , , on May 26, 2009 by reccaphoenix

**UPDATE (12/29/10): Vertical has announced at Comic-con that they are translating Human Metamorphoses (they’re calling it “Book of Human Insects”….subtle….), so you can look forward to an English version soon-ish!**

Osamu Tezuka, my favourite comic artist of all time, the father of all Japanese comics and animation, branched out a lot in the late 1960s and 1970s.  At a time when many manga artists were moving towards more serious, sexually explicit, and violent subjects, Tezuka also wrote many of his most dark, mature, and psychologically profound works: Yakeppachi no Maria (a strange, sexual, pseudo-educational manga about which I will probably write another time), MW [Muu] (Tezuka’s darkest work in my opinion), Barbara, Ayako, I.L., and several others were all written by Tezuka between 1969 and 1978.  Though I love almost all of Tezuka’s work, this period is particularly interesting to me for many reasons.  Tezuka not only began to experiment with art style, layout, content, and presentation but also integrated some of the aesthetics of the times into his work.  As a fan of 1960s and modernist aesthetics, I find it fascinating to see ’60s and ’70s styles reflected in the medium of manga.  Furthermore, these works allow a glimpse into Tezuka’s true artistic talent; though he stuck to “cartoony,” Disney-like characters for much of his career, he was highly skilled at more realistic rendering and at adjusting his style to different genres and situations.

konchuki0Tezuka wrote Human Metamorphoses (「人間昆虫記」Ningen Konchuuki) in 1970-1, during this same fascinating period of experimentation.  It is unfortunately not available in English translation, but I recently finished reading it in Japanese and wanted to share my opinions.

I only wish I had a scanner at the moment, as the artwork and layout in many of the page spreads is fantastic; it’s hard to convey just how awesome this manga is without the images to back it up.  For now, you’ll have to settle with scans found on the internet.  Images that some may find objectionable due to mature content will be linked to off-site.

Human Metamorphoses, like another famous Tezuka work called Birdman Anthology, draws parallels between humans and animals – in this case, insects.  Many of the characters even have the kanji of the insect in question in their name.  The main character is the beautiful, fashionable Tomura Toshiko, likened to the haruzemi (the terpnosia vacua cicada), moves through life constantly reinventing herself amid a succession of lovers, shedding her previous identities like the cicada sheds its shell.  Toshiko is ruthless yet subtle, convinced that her actions are justified.  Most of her successes rely on plagiarism and blackmail, yet she is able to Continue reading

‘Gyakuten Meets Jazz Soul’ is awesome.

Posted in Ace Attorney/Phoenix Wright, merchandise, mod, music, reviews/opinions, video games with tags , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2008 by reccaphoenix

As I have said several times before, the video games from the Ace Attorney/Gyakuten Saiban/Phoenix Wright series have pretty great music compared with the usual stuff that comes out of the speakers on your DS/GBA.  And man oh man does it sound even nicer when it’s fully arranged, as on the “Gyakuten Meets Orchestra” album.

And even better is another album of real-instrument arrangements called “Gyakuten Meets Jazz Soul,” which features a whole bunch of great tracks from the game in a chill jazz swingin’ style.  This is an album I’d recommend even to those who have never played a video game.  It’s that good.  If you like jazz or lounge, that is.  Being a big fan of these styles of music myself, I loved this album (in case you haven’t guessed that already).  So don’t hesitate a moment longer.  Get this album now here.

Here’s another general thing about GMJS (as I will refer to it for the rest of this article) that I really dig.  Hip, modern/mod people like myself are often reluctant to admit that we play/really get into video games at all, much less listen to music from them habitually.  But this album can rub shoulders comfortably with my collection of lounge/jazz music and Continue reading