Billy Gray

Archive for April, 2012|Monthly archive page

Long Day’s Journey

In Movie Reviews on April 20, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Terence Davies’ “The Long Day Closes” is short. But the absence of narrative leaves you guessing when the impressionistic remembrance of childhood will, or should, end.  Despite an endearing lead surrounded by charismatic supporting characters and bathed in poised, fitfully striking cinematography, the closing credits come as a pity and a relief.  This is a coming of age movie devoid of saccharine, ham-handed present-day narration elucidating the life lessons distracted viewers missed, and, more impressively, nostalgia to underscore the passage of time and overwhelm the mnemonic portrait.

A pastiche of memory, effortlessly conjured by the mind, is hard to transfer to paper and film. Davies’s recollections wind through and hover over the shambles of post-War Liverpool, where 11-year old Bud (Leigh McCormack) lives in a row house with his kind, wistful Mom (Marjorie Yates), who’s alone for unexplained reasons, though one suspects she’s a war widow, and three significantly older siblings he’d like to count as gallivanting peers. On Christmas and birthdays, the home is bright and boisterous. Otherwise, the dark barely cloaks the squalid. It’s a similar picture outside. The opening shot of a narrow Liverpool street dwells on rubble, while other images revel in tidy independent shops and communal merriment. (The film came out in 1992, when both of these were already near extinction.)

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Mama Don’t Reach

In Music on April 17, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Madonna’s latest album and fourth attempt at past prime legitimacy, is “MDNA.” The clubbing set will take the title as a riff on MDMA, the chemical ingredient in ecstasy. Madonna loyalists or  those tolerant of the disemvoweling aesthetic that also begot the STK steakhouse chain, will instantly make out the alarmingly jacked pop dame’s name. A D.N.A. riff slinks somewhere in the background, stealing credit from H.G.H. for its effect on Madonna’s sinewy arms.

But Madonna has never relied on album names to propel her infamy or record sales. (Fiona Apple, another reemerged pop curiosity of similarly chiseled limb and with a penchant for novella-length titles, still does.) Instead, there was the pre-fame nude photo scandal; the breakthrough V.M.A. stage humping; the tendentious Christian imagery; the lesbian dalliances (with Sandra Bernhard and, later and faker, Britney Spears, which at least makes you wonder if any other notable Sapphic can claim both those notches on her belt); the “sex” book, and its attendant serial oversharing on national television as Madonna, a genius in cloaking the art of the Big Three network shill in the cone bra of provocation, plugged her collection of B&W bondage photography. More recently, we’ve been subjected to Madonna’s foray into Kabala and Guy Ritchie. Ritchie reportedly got $75 million from the divorce. And he’s grist for the mill on “MDNA,” which, if it moves units despite an unprecedented 88% sales drop-off from its debut, means the British director will have defibrillated another creaky icon in the wake of his “Sherlock Holmes” reboot. Read the rest of this entry »