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Posts Tagged ‘Bruce Springsteen’

Easy Rider (1969) didn’t chronicle the end of the decade/era, and the death of hope and optimism that the 1960’s promised, but it certainly symbolised it. It could be argued that the loss of hope wasn’t followed by despair, but by a new more measured hope with less lofty ambitions, a more weary even cynical hope, but hope none the less. And this is what we saw on the big screen, the cinema of new Hollywood. In truth, a child of the 70s, I saw it on late night TV, and VHS in the 80s and 90s. The Watergate scandal of 1972 may have ground zero for the political and conspiracy thrillers of the time, films like The Parallax View (1974), The Conversation (1974), but the spirit, or lack thereof found a place on screen before that, it found it on the road!  There has always been a link between cars and movies, the two were invented around the same time, and both found popularity in the United States, a country built out of exploration, and a country built on a dream; and as Mark Cousins reminded us The Story of Film: An Odyssey is a (2011) “movies look live our dreams”.


While there had been movies about cars and drivers before, the road movie as we know it was born in the 70s, buit on a foundation from the Golden Age of Cinema. We are not talking the capers of Gone in 60 Seconds (1974), Smokey and the Bandit (1977), or the various Gumball/Cannonball movies (various movies from mid 70’s to mid 80s), I am referring to the existential road movies like Two Lane Blacktop (1971), and Vanishing point (1971). Existential movies, where to drive is to live, to stop is to die. Kowalski (Barry Newman), the hero of vanishing point is just driving, we never understand why. He drives for the sake of driving the way we live for the sake of living.  If you don’t know the film, the plot of the film revolves around a man delivering a car 1,200 miles from Denver Colorado, To San Francisco.  He has a week to get there but for reasons never explained is compelled to do it in a couple of days.  There is little plot, and almost no explanation, but flashbacks give us an idea of what is going on.  The Driver (James Taylor) and Mechanic (Dennis Wilson) in Two Lane Blacktop may not have names but they have more of  purpose, or do they.  They cruise around looking for action in the shape of drag races like the subjects of a Bruce Springsteen song, but when we look a little deeper, they have no purpose, they are racing for money to fund their lifestyle, so they can continue racing.  They are not the unwilling or repentant criminal looking for one last job so they can go clean, they are living day to day, a modern take on the hunter gathers of our past.  But does that make them any different to anybody working a day job, as Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt from Fight Club ((1999) said nearly 30 years later “working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need”.  Are they closer to the breadline than the average wage earner, or do they have a fallback? Both films have an other-worldly character enhanced by uncertainty and ambiguity,  this was lost in the 90s, made for TV remake of Vanishing Point, everything they gave Kowalski by way of motivation, stripped away a layer of meaning from the subtext of the movie. 

Although most associated with America, the genre isn’t exclusive to the nation. By the end of the 70’s the angst and desire had been forgotten, swallowed up by “blockbusters”.  Australian filmmaker George Miller fussed the road ideas of the road, if not the road movie itself with a dystopian future.  For a more recent generation, their knowledge of the Mad Max franchise may not stretch beyond the fourth, and most recent instalment: Fury Road (2015), but it started long before that in 1979. Inspired by the fuel crisis and economic crash of a few years earlier the first film depicted the beginning of society crumbling. Max, the movies “hero” first hits the road for revenge, but by the end of the first movie, he disappears down the road.  Not with the glory of a cowboy riding into the sunset, but a long and dark road, as a man with nothing, and nothing to live for.  Max’s only option for survival it to live, to exist, and he can find this simplicity, only after he has lost himself on the road.  A generation later, the characters of Fury Road think they can find hope, redemption, or even eternity on the road, for most none of this is true. 

Both as surreal and mainly masculine genre, director Chloe Zhao gave her a new take, and grounded and more real take.  Nomadland is loosely based on Jessica Bruder none fiction book of the same name we see real life people living a nomadic existence.  This, like many other road movies was exist in the traditional heartland of the western genre, but this isn’t a pioneering story of A to B, of someone with a destination. It is the story of a person not looking where to live, but how to live.  As the world gets smaller, and cars have begun to lose importance in the world, we may think the days of the road movie are numbered.  I don’t think they are, we may see a day were they become nostalgic chronicling relatively recent past rather than telling their own contemporarily stories, but in the hands of talented filmmakers, this artifice will not prevent the real story, one that is lingering beneath the surface. 

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Following my last post inspired by Stranger Things and featuring my favourite movies of 1984, here are my favourite albums of 1984.  The criteria, I only picked actual albums not compilations or best of albums.  And most importantly, I only picked albums that I own.

Bon JoviBon Jovi

Bon Jovi – Like most people, I didn’t go back to discover Bon Jovi’s debut album until two years later when Slippery When Wet was a huge hit.  Standout track: Runaway

Born In the U.S.A.  Born In the USA

Bruce Springsteen – You couldn’t turn on a radio in the mid 80’s without hearing a track from this album.  Seven of the twelve tracks were released as singles.  There isn’t a bad track on the album making it hard to pick out a standout track, the title track is one of the most recognisable records of all time, I would go for either: Glory Days or Dancing in the Dark.

Like a Virgin Like a Virgin

Madona – I haven’t listened to this album for over twenty years but had to include it as it was the first record I purchased on CD.  Standout track: Material Girl

Private DancerPrivate Dancer

Tina Turner – I recently picked this album up on vinyl from a charity shop, it still sounds great, Standout track: The title track, Private Dancer written by Mark Knopfler.

Purple RainPurple Rain

Prince – I didn’t like Prince or listen to this album until I saw the movie Purple Rain a couple of years later.  Standout Track: When Doves Cry.

RecklessReckless

Brian Adams – Another one I haven’t listened to for about twenty years, but earns it place because of the amount I played it back in the day.  Standout track: Run to You or Summer of 69.

Ride The LightningRide The Lightning

Metallica – I didn’t start listening to Metallica until their fourth album …And Justice for All in 1988,  by the time their massively popular self titled album came out in 1991 I had purchased the first three albums including the excellent Ride The Lightning.  Standout track: For Whom the Bell Tolls.

She’s So UnusualShe_s So Unusual

Cyndi Lauper – Fantastic debut album from Cyndi Lauper.  The first single Girls Just Want to Have Fun is probably the best know, but for me, the standout track is: Time After Time.

The Unforgettable FireThe Unforgettable Fire

U2 – Having made the debut in 1980 with Boy, this was U2’s fourth album and a slight change in style.  Standout track: Pride (In The Name Of Love).

Various PositionsVarious Positions

Leonard Cohen – Cohen’s seventh studio album, and a new direction with a modern synth sound and backing singer.  The most famous (and covered track) is Hallelujah, but for me the standout track is: Dance Me to the End of Love.

Bonus selection.  As I said I have not included any compilations or best of albums, but had to mention Dire Straits fantastic live album Alchemy and the standout track, having first appeared on the 1982 album Love over Gold, the epic: Telegraph RoadAlchemy

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“For all the shut-down strangers and hot rod angels
Rumbling through this promised land”

Racing In The Street, Bruce Springsteen

The Fast and the Furious (2001) first appeared more than a decade ago with a title borrowed from a 50’s Roger Corman movie and a plot lifted from Point Break. Who would have thought all these years on we would be seeing a fifth sequel to what was basically a fun but routine movie.Fast & Furious 6 poster

All for of the main cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez return for this latest film (despite one of them appearing not to have survived an earlier instalment) whose trailer premiered at the Super Bowl this weekend. Since the first film Diesel has had his ups and downs, most of the downs involving ill judged attempts at comedy. Rodriguez remains a talented actress but has never found a part to match her debut in Girlfight. On the other hand, the franchise represents the high point of the careers of both Walker and Brewster. This smacks of if in doubt go with what you know! It also helps that the previous film Fast & Furious 5 (aka Fast Five) (2011) was not only a high point for the franchise but also retuned a healthy worldwide box-office in excess of $600 million. Depending on who you listen to, that movie may have started life out as an unused Italian Job sequel script with the imaginative title, The Brazilian Job. Whatever its origins, it was surprisingly good, Fast and Furious 6 is billed as a direct sequel.Fast & Furious 6

After years of destroying customised Japanese cars and classic American muscle cars it appears to have turned its attention to England and a couple of cars that will be recognisable to British viewers, a Jenson Interceptor and even a Ford Escort RS1600. Having taken over for the third film, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Justin Lin directs for the fourth consecutive time. It is interesting that having three different directors for the first three films Lin has made the franchise his own. He has certainly breathed some life into it. There are several familiar faces from the other movies including Dwayne Johnson in his second Fast & Furiouse movie. They are joined by Gina Carano as one of Johnson’s agents and British actor Luke Evans who appears to be the villain.

A little like the latest Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, The Last Stand, I don’t expect it to be very good, but as long as its good fun, I really don’t mind. Fast & Furious 6 is set for release on 24th May.

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