The Man with the Iron Fists

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Quentin Tarantino should be sincerely flattered right now. Rapper and musician RZA (who also worked on the score for Tarantino’s Kill Bill), has just directed his own schlocky debut feature, The Man with the Iron Fists. Spoiler alert: the titular Man is RZA himself. While certainly not impressive, RZA’s debut film is relatively entertaining; equal parts good and bad.

RZA plays a cool-headed blacksmith living in China where he is paid rather royally to basically outfit all the rivaling clans with weapons they can use to kill each other. The blacksmith also narrates the film in that uniquely lispy urban poetry-like voice he has going for him. It’s frankly one of my favorite things about the whole movie, despite his less-than-remarkable acting.

The story starts off a little sloppy in its narrative, and keeping track of all the rival gangs is almost laughable in itself (maybe intentionally?), but by the middle of the film when things take a turn for the worst for the blacksmith, the story (which up until then was disposable), becomes a little more gripping. Unfortunately, storyline, directing style, set design, characters, nor props in many cases can be seen as anything original and it seems that inspiration for RZA seems to have quite obviously come from Tarantino’s Kill Bill, or the more widely seen martial arts cult classics such as Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon.

The problem with a movie like this is, it’s trying hard to imitate and be inspired by these types of grindhouse movies where it’s more about sensationalism than plot and filmmaking. But what we now look at as cult classics or grindhouse genre films are just movies that were doing what they could with what they had back when they were made, probably not even trying to fall into the trash cinema classification which they have since then (retroactively marketably) fallen into. RZA, however, has the assistance of Tarantino (a master in his craft of revitalizing the cult and trash cinema genres to critical acclaim), way more resources and budget than many of the films he’s trying to channel from the ’70s and ’80s, and yet Iron Fists still looks cheaper and is weaker than most of those predecessors.

Tarantino gives the film a lift with his name attached, of course, and maybe that will help with marketing it to QT devotees, and even smartly help increase the awareness and anticipation for Tarantino’s latest revitalization, Django Unchained. There’s even a special trailer for the film running prior to Iron Fists, where QT himself intros it (also giving props to “his man” RZA’s film you’re about to see).  So see, it really all comes down to advertising, and if I was just a tad more cynical, I’d even go so far as to suggest RZA only got the damn greenlight for this film because of the beautiful marketing opportunities it would present.

Fincher’s Tattoo Remake Gets Its Best Trailer Yet

I find myself having to begin warming up to this whole remake/reboot market which Hollywood seems to be in lately, and with Fincher, an amazingly unique and original filmmaker, I have total confidence in the fact that he will put out a fine film, but deep down it’s still hard for me to handle the fact that he has to be getting sloppy seconds on this one. What I look forward to most about the first remade feature in the Swedish crime trilogy is that with Fincher’s eye, I am sure it will look gloriously dark and seem almost Ikea-perfect. However, the original Swedish films were damn near perfect, although they regrettably had the feeling of television miniseries more than cinematic experience. (For those of you living under a rock this year, I’m of course talking about Stieg Larsson’s The Millenium Series and, in particular, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.)

Anyway, I ran across this little promo spot which the filmmakers seem to have put together to promote the film in a most unique way – highlighting both the artistic, marketing and musical perfection which both David Fincher and his new-found scoring partner Trent Reznor constantly (and usually successfully) strive to. Check it out below.

Sigur Rós “Inni”

If you have never witnessed Sigur Rós as a live show, you should do yourself a favor and take the next opportunity you get. I had the rather rare opportunity during their first-ever American tour to see them in the dank confines of a pre-Katrina New Orleans House of Blues, and let me just say, I’d never once before and have never once since been to a concert where the crowd was so enveloped by the music that during a quiet moment in “Viðrar vel til loftárása” you could literally hear a pin drop – no one was chatting, glasses never clinked together, and everyone just stood watching in sheer amazement.

Aside from being the phenomenal musicians and artists that they are, they are outstanding live performers. As expected, they’re not prolific US tourers. A few years back they released a concert film called Heima which was a fantastic way to experience all they have to offer both sonically and on stage.

Surpassing that, we now get another glimpse of their ethereal live experience in the new concert film INNI. Debuting recently at the Venice Film Festival, it’s now playing in some select cities and also available to purchase. Below is a promotional clip from it called “Festival” which runs about 7 minutes long and while giving you a fantastic excerpt of what they’re like live (just wait till about 2 or 3 minutes in), the filmmaking is also replete with Alphaville-like strobing lights and Murnau-esque, grainy, saturated black-and-white imagery.

If you’re interested in purchasing the live album/video, I suggest the Limited Special Edition version which is packaged in a 7″ x 7″ x 1″ box, printed inside and complete with:

  • an exclusive (and unique to each box itself) artifact from the live show which is sealed in a printed and numbered envelope
  • a one-sided 7″ colored vinyl with unreleased track “Lúppulagið” with etching on reverse
  • a 75-min performance on DVD and Blu-ray with 4 bonus performances in both PAL and NTSC
  • DVD with exclusive 5-min short film “Klippa”
  • 2xCD live album
  • 4 7″-sized photographic prints
  • an enamel “Inni” pin badge
  • black opaque envelope with 10 pieces of A6-sized light-sensitive paper and a special URL for creating your own “Inni” images and uploading to the band’s website

Blakroc 2

Grinderman, Part Deux

Some of the best news I’ve heard this week (yes, I’ve been out of touch for a while) is the re-occurrence of Nick Cave in the world of media. While always delivering new material in various formats (film, music and literature), his Grinderman musical work has been one of my favorites.

The first Grinderman album was like beautiful little knives being slid across your ears, but so softly it nearly tickled.

Their new LP is simply titled “Grinderman 2” and is set to release on September 14th. Apparently the first cut from the album will be released on August 31st as well. In the meantime, there’s always this:

New Black Keys Video "Tighten Up"

In case you haven’t been keeping up with the Black Keys lately, they have a new album called Brothers. It dropped yesterday and leading up to it there were a series of videos involving a T-Rex hand puppet. Hysterical, but according to the scrolling note at the bottom of the video, the band themselves were not pleased with the video concepts for their new album. It was a “label” decision.

Ok, well, whether comedy or not, there is maybe actually some truth to that statement as there’s now a fresh new, glossy, well produced music video in promotion of the single “Tighten Up.” It’s quite cute. Well, as cute as an indie blues rock band’s video on a school playground could be, anyway.

Need I Say More?


Nine Inch Nails may be dead as of 2009, but Reznor is alive an well and that’s really all I care about. A long-standing fan of literally everything Reznor has ever created (yep, even down to that stint in Light of Day), I was excited to discover that the reason he was back in the studio again was to record what is to become music for his latest project How to Destroy Angels (later referred to here as HTDA) with his new wife (and frontwoman of West Indian Girl) Mariqueen Maandig.

Without assuming too much, I’d like to think this is homage (or direct reference actually) to the early album and 17 minute song of the same name by the band Coil, which when their “HTDA” was recorded Peter Christopherson had just come on as a member (after being part of Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV). Christopherson later went on to collaborate with Reznor (John Balance of Coil also did as well) both musically as well as visually. By the debut of Coil’s first LP, they had also picked up J.G. Thirlwell (who once again went on to collaborate with Reznor). Christopherson certainly isn’t working with Reznor on visuals anymore, that’s now in the capable hands of Rob Sheridan who Reznor seems to have employed since as long as I can recall. Sheridan is clearly behind the artwork surrounding HTDA given the signature style he’s developed.

All that’s been made available in promotion of HTDA is the following (with the exception of a couple cryptic photos of broken glass and uneaten rice with roses. (Find those at Twitter). These are only 40 second teasers, but man do they make you want to hear more. Let’s review…

“01”

This may be the coolest instrument I’ve heard Trent Reznor break out yet, and the teaser of it just makes me want to hear more. I have absolutely no idea what it is, other than something that obviously is pitchshifting. Apparently, I’m not alone in my quest to uncover the secrets of Reznor’s new sound though, on HTDA’s new Facebook page there is actually a discussion on this very topic. Though not definitive by virtue of the discussion thread, the speculation is that the instrument is “rare.” I’m not so sure about that since Mariqueen recently Tweeted about playing Reznor’s MS20 (the keyboard in the video) and something called a “Dewanatron Swarmatron,” which he had just purchased from Big City Music. So I Google search this instrument and voila!

“02”

So this installment of the teaser series gives more than just a sneak peek at a woman’s hand (assumed to have been Mariqueen’s), and reveals a face! The face of Atticus Ross I believe? (I don’t know, I haven’t seen Ross’s face enough to recall – sorry.)

“03”

Teaser #3 invites us to sneak peek at Reznor’s part in some of this, tearing up and down the fret giving us the shiny fuck you slide finger. This is great clip of a classic sounding, textural guitar FX. It almost makes we want to go back and re-listen to the “Fixed” EP. But first…

“04”

Number four is a very cool clip indeed. Finally, some light is shed on what the combination of Mariqueen + Atticus + Trent equals. If this is a highlight into a final cut of one of their EP tracks, this album will be pretty awesome. At this point, adding up all that I have heard (the four pieces above, that is), it’s almost like a new updated Coil album, if Coil were to ever make industrial or EBM music that were more repeat-listenable like this.

I’ll update this blog (and repost) as new materials are made available.

Summer 2010!