Monthly Archives: February 2014

Song Review-“Don’t Save Me” by Haim

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There seems to be a comeback of eighties-ish pop synth rock in the past couple years. It may not dominate the mainstream, but it’s close, lurking all phosphorescent, moody, upbeat. Even the soundtrack from the bloody film Drive featured moody, poppy, synthy vibes. Gotye and his incredibly popular song from last year, “Somebody That I Used to Know,” flooded the airwaves incessantly and now there’s the terrific Blood Orange and suddenly very popular Haim (amongst many others).

Haim’s whole album Days are Gone is tight from start to finish. It’s pop, its unique, nearly R and B, and it’s fun. And it’s also a girl-power-three-sisters-trio. My favorite song on the album, one I’ve been listening to incessantly over the past couple weeks is, “Don’t Save Me.” It’s perhaps their second or third most popular song, next to “Falling” and “The Wire.” The basic premise of the song is, as per the song title, “Baby, Don’t Save Me,” but there’s a caveat. “If,” and it seems a big If, “If Your Love Isn’t Strong.” So, “Don’t save me now (if you’re love isn’t strong).

 From the first couple of listens of the song you hear the much larger cry of “Don’t Save Me” as opposed to the quieter, parenthetical “If.” The cry of “Don’t Save Me” seems to be a fist of feminism in the face of the old idea that women need a man to come along and “save” them It’s a concept familiar to most of us, while views on the subject differ tremendously. But the lyrics seems to proclaim, highlighted by rocky guitars and echoing drums that, I do not need to be saved. I’m quite fine with how I am thank you very much.

 

However, it’s not like the Haim sisters or perhaps just main singer Danielle (lead singer) are completely opposed to being saved. After all, the reverse negative of the statement “Don’t save me, if you’re love isn’t strong.”  Is “Save me, if you’re love is strong.” She sings later,

 

“If I have to beg for your love

(again, and again and again)

Tell me, tell me

Oh will it ever be enough?

 

 Will it ever be enough? Is anything ever enough? No. But she/they just want love like we all want love. But we want love that is meaningful and strong, not rooted in some since of patriarchy or ancient male: strong, woman: weak sort of archetypes.

 The song’s meaning could be interpreted either way gender-wise or perhaps even be gender-less. The whole idea of “saving” someone has a tendency to be rooted in condescension and in the grips of one’s own ego. If you started dating someone and told them straight up, no ice, that you wanted to “save” them, a second date would be a distant chance.

So if you say you’re gonna save someone, you better mean it. Enough messing around.

Amen.  

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Look at That Perm! Look at That Paunch! American Hustle is Good Con Fun

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               American Hustle is like Goodfellas with more women, less violence, and a lot more humor. If I didn’t know it was David. O Russell who directed this fantastic piece of work I’d think it to be a dead ringer for a Scorsese flick.

        As the movie opens it’s narrated in similar fashion to Goodfellas by protagonists Irving (Christian Bale) and Sydney (Amy Adams) and has the same winning combination of mobster/con/showmanship variety that has made that movie a classic.

            The film follows Irving and Sydney as they are one day nabbed by the F.B.I for conning people out of loans (something they never explain very well) and are then forced to work for eccentric Richie DiMaso (a permed Bradley Cooper) who forces them to work with the F.BI. to nab white collar criminals. The biggest case they work on mostly consists of them trying to bribe a politician (Jeremy Renner) with the promise of cash from a sheik who would like to invest in the New Jersey area. There is no sheik of course, but throughout the film we see each characters basic outside motivations at work against their inner, hidden agendas of which we can only guess. Some are obvious, like DiMaso who sees this case as the chance to make a name for himself and others are more hidden. Has Sydney fallen in love with DiMaso or is she conning him? Has Irving been conning her all along? After all Iving still refuses to leave his unpredictable and explosive wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) or does he really care for both?

            It’s overt and not very subtle in the film but the whole idea of the “American Hustle” is on full display throughout the film. Meaning, each character is basically doing what they need to do to survive and hustle their way out of either jail or to make a living or a career. Some of them are egotists, some are shady, and most are both. Jeremy Renner’s Carmine Polito is a congressman with dubious ethical stances with regards to bribes, and yet at the same time, genuinely sees the possibility of a revived Atlantic City and the possibility of the creation of thousands of jobs as a wonderful thing for his state and city.  He really does care. Irving loves Sydney but wants to do right by his son and Rosalyn even though he probably should’ve left them a long time ago. “The Power of Intention Irving!” You’ll get it when you see it. Jennifer Lawrence is so great. Too bad I’m married. Or that I would have absolutely no chance either way.

            Anyways, it’s a fun film with excellent performances, if a bit surfacey. Sometimes I forget how great of an actor Christian Bale is and in American Hustle he’s barely recognizable with a stout paunch and a hideous comb-over. I read an article in Slate the other day about how Christian Bale was the opposite of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Bale transforming his body for roles by gaining weight or losing weight or getting ripped, and yet still sounding similar, and Hoffman, who barely changed his appearance at all and yet managed to don completely different characters and role from movie to movie.  Everyone’s great though and it’s by far the most fun film of the year even if it’s not the best.

            Check the Slate article out here: http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/movies/2014/02/philip_seymour_hoffman_death_remembering_an_actor_who_could_do_everything.html

 

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