19 July 2014

Heaven is a place on Earth: on Cocteau Twins' Heaven or Las Vegas

Heaven or Las Vegas is one of my most favored possessions. It was a constant companion during the summer of 2007 as I drove back and forth to DC. The dreaming lulls of the season’s heated hypnotism proved to be the perfect ambience for this music. Three hours driving either way, I spent an hour of it in some intermediate countryside which is when I listened to the album. The speed of the car and the lush surrounding fields were the perfect time and space for the likes of “Cherry-Coloured Funk” and “Heaven or Las Vegas” and “Iceblink Luck”. Chrome, asphalt, heat, grass, and petrol. Windows of the car rolled down, naturally. The utter beauty of “Frou-Frou Foxes in Midsummer Fires” at night was the perfect experience for that song in my mind. The red and yellow euphoria of the album during that summer made that hour of the drive fold into so many fewer minutes. It was a great summer and the perfect way to enjoy that album. Sometimes I wish I’d discovered Cocteau Twins as a teen, but that wouldn’t have worked as well. Being stuck at home without a car, the ethereal world of Enya was the ticket to a different world. All I had to do was lay down on my bedroom floor. But years later racing on my heart living my dream, the forward momentum (a la “Fotzepolitic”) and lush romance of Heaven or Las Vegas was all I needed to love this band so much. And now it’s a place of escape to greater peace when I’m stationary. I don’t have to choose Heaven or Earth in the Cocteau Twins. Both are always here when you need them.

05 July 2014

HHH and an ongoing Chinese film education

Since recently finishing three books on Chinese cinema - A City of Sadness by Berenice Reynaud, Wong Kar-Wai by Stephen Teo, and Confronting Modernity in the Cinemas of Taiwan and Mainland China by Tonglin Lu - I had the good fortune this morning to find HHH - Un portrait de Hou Hsiao-Hsien via Cinephilia and Beyond. Not only was it directed by Olivier Assayas, one of my favorite filmmakers, but it remains the only documentary about Hou. Because of the historical background and context to much of Wong Kar-Wai's cinema, I've been trying to learn more about Chinese cinema and the background to Hou's work is another opportunity. Tony Leung was another factor as I wondered how he'd be used in Hou's A City of Sadness. In any case, the documentary is worth seeing and I'm glad it can be seen online.

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