Monday, August 20, 2007

Catching Up: R.I.P. Max Roach, and more

Long time, no post.

What's kept me from writing? My day job (but of course); family (vacations/new school year); jazz gigs with Trio Vibe and others; music and film journalism; magazine reading; music listening; and the (too-) occasional reading of novels.

So, a few burning issues:

Max Roach, the last of the major architects of the bebop revolution, passed away last week. Roach was a great, incredibly sensitive and adventurous drummer who was involved in a variety of creative projects until nearly the end of his life. The New York Times, thankfully, justiably saw fit to run a story of Roach on the paper's front page. Here's Peter Keepnews' piece from the NY Times. Also from the NYT - Ben Ratliff's appraisal and Trymaine Lee's story about the immediate impact of Roach's death, via feedback from the likes of Jimmy Heath and James Moody.

I finally got around to seeing Sunshine, Danny Boyle's visually arresting SF film concerning an ill-fated voyage to the sun. The acting is a bit routine, but the look and the feel of the film are absolutely astonishing - I highly recommend seeing this on the big screen. Sunshine indeed does make references to 2001: A Space Odyssey, Solaris, Silent Running, the Alien trilogy and a few other SF film antecedents, but it's not what I would call derivative. It's a thoughtful, provocative twist on the genre. The film received mixed reviews, but I wouldn't be surprised if future scholars looked kindly on it.

Far less interesting among this summer's films are dark Brit comedy Death at a Funeral and The Invasion, the fourth adaptation of the '50s novel The Body Snatchers. I reviewed both for Las Vegas City Life: Death at a Funeral; The Invasion.

Reading report: In recent weeks, I've scrambled through (Tampa resident) Michael Connelly's The Closers, another in the author's series of novels focused on L.A. police detective Harry Bosch; the John Grisham page-turner The Last Juror; and Mark Childress's One Mississippi, a funny and maybe even wise coming-of-age story spoiled only by a predictable and violent closing sequence. As usual, I'm reading a bunch of books at once, including Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory, Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead, James Ellroy's Crime Wave: Reportage and Fiction from the Underside of L.A. and a book on pulp fiction. So what are the themes that link some of these books? Mississippi (two books); crime (four); L.A. (two).

Speaking of crime stories and other good television ... I'm enjoying F/X's "Damages," AMC's "Mad Men" and (to some extent) TNT's "Saving Grace."

And two recent blows to the world of film/film culture: R.I.P., Bergman and Antonioni.

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