Song #26: “Things Have Changed”

Years ago I got stuck in the back of a car during a road trip with some friends who played early heavy-on-the-harmonica Bob Dylan non-stop for about three days, and I just about lost my mind. That experience prevented me from getting on board the Bob Dylan bus until he released Time Out of Mind in 1997. I still don’t listen to much early Dylan, but I’ve come to appreciate the overall body of his work and his development as an artist, how he absorbs (and steals from) traditional music and makes it singularly his own. (I like Tom Waits and Jolie Holland in the same way.) He’s a master vocalist and lyricist too. I don’t know what most of his songs are about but they’re about something and it draws me in. I like how his songs are open to interpretation. You can take what you like from them regardless of his original intention. I’d pick “Moonshiner” as the first song of his that made a strong impression on me, but I can’t find that anywhere on YouTube, so I’ll pick “Things Have Changed” instead.

(It was a toss up between “Things Have Changed” and Mississippi.) I also admire Dylan for playing his music the way he wants to play it. Instead of replicating the studio versions on stage — which seems to piss off a certain segment of his audience who’d rather hear “Like a Rolling Stone” exactly like it sounds on the album — he’s always trying new things with his songs during live performances, often completely transforming them. Here’s a bootleg video for “Things Have Changed” that doesn’t sound anything like the studio version. I love that.

See You at The Movies

Yesterday’s comments on Midnight in Paris constitute the last movie review type thing I’ll post to Steel White Table. About a week from now, I’ll be done with this blog altogether. Probably. Anyhow, if you really can’t stand missing out on what movies I’ve been watching, I offer you my two big movie lists available through the Internet Movie Database.

List #1: All the most recent movies I’ve seen with a rating out of 10 (click the image to view the list).

I’m not too stringent with the 10 star rating scale. I was used to thinking within the 4 star scale with no half stars (because then it would just be an 8 point rating system, and if you’re using 8, what not just use 10?). So for me 8, 9 or 10 stars = a 4-star movie. Most movies are such a total waste of time and brain energy, when I come across something that engages me, makes me laugh, makes me cry, makes me think or feel something I wouldn’t have otherwise thought or felt (besides annoyance), then it’s a 4-star movie. A 3-star movie, an average okay kind of flick, is 7 stars using the IMdB rating system. Anything lower than that is pretty much crap. Okay then…

List #2: Movies that, according to my brain, aren’t too shabby — the more or less 4-star movies (click the image to view the list).

My current favourite or most recommended movies (and television series) will show up near the top of the list (the first 10 or so), but the list can be ordered according the release date and other criteria.

I might add comments to some of the movie descriptions and I might create a list of guilty pleasure movies some day. But otherwise, that’s it. See you at the movies.

A Movie for Writers: “Midnight in Paris”

  Midnight in Paris was the most enjoyable movie I saw in the summer of 2011. A disaffected writer visiting Paris experiences something surreal during a midnight stroll that changes his outlook on life. The movie is funny, smart and full of subtle insights about life, the universe and everything. I can’t say any more without giving away the best parts.

The trailer is careful not reveal any of the key elements of the movie. The linked review is one of the few I’ve found online that discusses the relevant qualities of the movie without giving anything away.

“Hanna” Just Misses the Mark

  Hanna is about a girl raised in the woods by her former super secret agent father who has trained her to be the ultimate soldier and killing machine. But really she’s just sad and lonely and misunderstood. Or something. Watch the trailer to see all the best parts of the movie.

“Hanna” could have been tense and emotionally engaging, but I began to lose interest about 10 minutes into it because all the musical cues and the editing were too obvious. Quiet music or no music + slow edits = empathy. Loud music + frantic edits = tension. Repeat and rinse, then fade to black. The elements for an exceptional action thriller are there, but they’re diminished by unimaginative choices made in post-production.