House Logo
Explore categories +

Neil Young (#110 of 5)

15 Songs About AIDS

Comments Comments (...)

15 Songs About AIDS
15 Songs About AIDS

Today marks the 32nd anniversary of the first report of the virus that would become known as HIV. In 1998, singer-songwriter Dan Bern released a song called “Cure for AIDS”; there have been countless jokey songs about the disease, including Ween’s “The HIV Song” and “Everyone Has AIDS” from Team America: World Police, but Bern’s seemingly lighthearted track was profound in its idyllic vision of a world free of the disease. Fifteen years later, an end to the epidemic feels like a very real possibility. Nearly 30 million people have reportedly died from AIDS, but each week seems to bring news of another breakthrough in the decades-long quest for a vaccine or cure. We thought this would be a good time to look back at some of the music inspired by the crisis that (eventually) galvanized a generation into action.

Berlinale 2013 The Grandmaster, Gold, & A Single Shot

Comments Comments (...)

Berlinale 2013: The Grandmaster, Gold, Vic + Flo Saw a Bear, & A Single Shot
Berlinale 2013: The Grandmaster, Gold, Vic + Flo Saw a Bear, & A Single Shot

Since coming home from the sumptuous, if lopsided, American road trip of My Blueberry Nights, Wong Kar-wai has been hard at work on his martial-arts epic The Grandmaster. Perhaps the most explicitly in dialogue with film history of all his works thus far, the film will read as a much-needed strike of lightning to wu xia for connoisseurs of the genre and a feature-length TV spot for others. Which is to say that its visual design is (surprise, surprise) magnificently original, but it lacks Wong’s characteristic elliptical approach to storytelling that has won him so many admirers. Pierre Rissient allegedly dismissed Wong as “postcard cinema”—and it hurts to say it, but The Grandmaster might be more impactful as a series of stills than a motion picture.

Set mainly over the course of the 1930s in Foshan, a city in southern China, the film narrates the Ip Man’s (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) rise to prominence as a Wing Chun grandmaster, focusing especially on his brushes with Gong Er (Zhang Ziyi), the daughter of one of the grandmasters from the north. Although they cross paths across many years, Wong forgoes the melancholic romanticization of time we’ve come to expect from him and opts to tell their story in a disappointingly linear fashion, Hollywoodian flashback included. Essentially a biopic wrapped in a kung-fu art film, The Grandmaster’s ambition but feeling of incompletion brings to mind Sam Peckinpah’s analogous probing of national history, mythology, and masculinity.

Review: The Limits of Control

Comments Comments (...)

Review: The Limits of Control
Review: The Limits of Control

If you were listening to a piece of groovy music and were responsive to it, you wouldn’t mind following its vibe, nodding at refrains, enjoying the use of instruments, tempo, rhythm—so why is it audiences get impatient when movies attempt to do the same thing? Jim Jarmusch’s The Limits of Control feels both formally rigorous and genuinely spontaneous, the way good musical improvisations allow for freedom within selected confines. And I’d argue it’s enough to create a movie about an actor with a very strong presence (in this case, Isaach De Bankolé) moving through spaces (in this case, various locations in Spain) and allowing the images to convey a sense of mood, tension, atmosphere, whatever you want to call that feeling we get from watching moving pictures on the screen. The narrative is pared down to a man purposefully going forward, occasionally stopping for Tai Chi or two separate cups of espresso.

"I’m a lot like you were": Jonathan Demme and Neil Young’s Heart of Gold

Comments Comments (...)

“I’m a lot like you were”: Jonathan Demme and Neil Young’s <em>Heart of Gold</em>
“I’m a lot like you were”: Jonathan Demme and Neil Young’s <em>Heart of Gold</em>

Jonathan Demme’s Heart of Gold, a concert film starring Neil Young, is not just a record of a performance, it’s an example of great filmmaking at its most direct. It encourages you not just to contemplate Neil Young, the man and the musician, and connect his music with his life, but also to think about art and what it means to be an artist while admiring a brilliant movie’s crystalline construction.

Shot in 2005 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, the original home of the Grand Ole Opry, just five months after Young survived an operation to neutralize a potentially fatal brain anyeurism, Heart of Gold features Young, his backup band, his regular collaborator Emmylou Harris, a horn section, a string section and a gospel choir. The set list is broken cleanly in two. Part One is a live performance of Young’s biographical concept album Prairie Wind, the third panel in a series of albums that also includes 1972’s Harvest and his 20-years-later followup Harvest Moon. Part Two cherry picks songs from earlier in Young’s career. The juxtaposition of older and new material prompts the viewer to realize, with delight, how much of Young’s output seems to be told from the perspective of an older man looking back on life or a younger man looking forward to wisdom.