5 Things you need to know… 9/21/11

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Calvin James Pynn

cpynn@radford.edu

Film:

“Bronson”:

Few biopics capture the madness like “Bronson” does. The film follows the true story of Charles Bronson (real name Michael Peterson), a witty minded bodybuilder, boxer and all around psychopath, who earns a reputation as Britain’s most violent prisoner.  While Bronson has been known for his insane antics during his ever-increasing prison sentence, the film’s narrative style is what takes the cake. In a way, the style can be described as Guy Ritchie meets Stanley Kubrick, juxtaposing gritty violence in a British crime setting against the tongue in cheek, yet psychotic mindset of the whimsical Bronson, who narrates his story in a monologue style to an audience in shadow.  The prisoner’s story is one that garners a plethora of emotions, at some points making the viewer feel pity for him, laughing at his unfiltered actions, while at the same time feeling intimidated by his presence. For Charles Bronson, life is a free for all, and the film’s pattern follows his exact mindset. “Inception” star Tom Hardy plays the lead role spot on, immersing himself so deep in the character, that his identity as an actor is completely absent. After watching “Bronson,” do some research on the actual person – I promise you will be entertained. The man is still alive, still in prison, and still as crazy as ever.

Music:

Thickfreakness:

While many became familiar with The Black Keys following the release of their 2010 breakthrough Brothers, some would be surprised to find out the two-man team of Patrick Carney and Dan Arbuck had been hard at work for over a decade prior. Before hearing  “Tighten Up” on Subaru commercials, and “Howlin’ For You” in various movie trailers, the blues rock duo released this grimy, distortion laden opus in April of 2003.  Six months earlier, The Black Keys recorded Thickfreakness, in 14 hours, in drummer Patrick Carney’s basement, using only a 1980’s Tascam 388 8-track recorder. In general, the simplicity and rawness of this album is what set the bar for these guys. While the album kicks off with the dirty southern riffage of the title track, other highlights include  “Midnight in Her Eyes,” and my personal favorite, “Hold Me in Your Arms” which features a Mississippi Delta-inspired slide riff, courtesy of guitarist Dan Arbuck. While The Black Keys have gained the recognition they deserve and will continue to release great albums, Thickfreakness captures who they really are. In reality, the duo has made a name for themselves, playing simple, down and dirty electric blues, and their sound could not be described any other way. I highly recommend this album for anyone who might have just recently discovered The Black Keys’ newer material, as well as any blues guitar enthusiast looking to understand the genre.

Ritual:

I feel like I say this about every album by The Black Dahlia Murder (TBDM), but these guys always manage to top themselves, and Ritual just might be the most evil record made in the past ten years.  At this point, TBDM have made their name as the pinnacle of modern death metal, and Ritual does not cease to undermine their reputation following its release this past summer. The album follows a general theme that concerns the occult and witchcraft, driven by the technical rhythms of drummer, Shannon Lucas, and bassist, Bart Williams, the blistering leads of guitarists Ryan Knight and Brian Eschbach, and the demonic shrieks of vocalist Trevor Strnad. As Ritual  opens up with the nightmarish “A Shrine to Madness,” the brutality never stops with other amazing tracks such as “Conspiring With the Damned,” “Malenchantments of the Necrosphere,” and “The Window.” I managed to catch The Black Dahlia Murder this past August in Washington D.C. on the Summer Slaughter tour, and though this was the third time I had seen them, hearing the material off of Ritual  was a treat beyond all comparison.  I can cope with the fact that a majority of the world would rather listen to a car alarm than put on a death metal album, but for the sake of witnessing the best of a genre, I urge anyone to give Ritual a try, especially around Halloween. It would make a perfect soundtrack to a night of demonic conjuring, as well as drunken mischief.

Web:

Spotify:

We are now living in an age where music is becoming more accessible than it ever has before, and even as online outlets such as iTunes and Amazon keep a consistent price on every song, Spotify seems to be coming into its own as a streaming music service. Spotify, briefly, is just that, but manages to stand heads and shoulders above other streaming services such as Grooveshark, by providing accessibility to the increasing dominance of mobile technology. I was personally drawn in by the fact that their music selection is incredibly broad. As a fan of heavy metal, a majority of bands I enjoy fly under the radar, but can still be found on Spotify. Most impressive of all is the fact that music on Spotify can be played offline, a feature currently offered for a small price on mobile devices. Like still-developing services such as Google+, Spotify profiles are available only by invite as of now, but once open completely to the public, I have a strong feeling that it will take off as a music service. Due its the offline capabilities, Spotify could very well prove to be a worthy competitor to iTunes.

Book:

“The Painted Bird”:

To start off, this book is definitely not for the faint of heart. I mean that sincerely. While Jerzy Kosinski is known for his work on the comedic novel “Being There,” “The Painted Bird” is the polar opposite. The story follows an unnamed boy as he travels throughout Eastern Europe during the Holocaust. His experience, in a word, is harrowing. The boy starts out living with an old woman in a remote village while his parents try to hide from the Nazis. Oddly, neither the boy nor his parents are gypsies or Jewish, but display the identifying physical features that could lead to persecution. When the old woman unexpectedly dies, the boy is left to fend for himself and starts his journey. He is taken in by various people in a series of villages, where he experiences all of the world’s horrors, including torture, incest, bestiality, as well as the familiar atrocities of the Holocaust, among others. His experience is one of pure savagery, and while it may be too much for some to bear, the boy’s endurance of such brutality, and uncorrupted perception of it, is what drives the novel. It makes one contemplate what would motivate Kosinski to write such a heart-wrenching novel, but at the same time, it’s that exact quality that defines the story. In that sense, I believe that everyone, at some point in life, should read “The Painted Bird.”