Hotline to the Underground Week 6 By Joe Viglione

The Cantab’s downstairs cellar-full-of-noise, Club Bohemia has an after Thanksgiving party on Saturday Nov 30. Just use this Tiny URL – forward slash bohemia nov 30 and you can rock out with TIFFY Fur Purse, Wetsuit and Slept Doors at 8… @728 Massachusetts Ave in Central Square, Cambridge…and on New Year’s Eve at the club you can see this writer perform the songs of Lou Reed at 10 pm December 31, the last day of the year, with Lady Carolyn performing the songs of Nico and Lou Reed. It’s Kenneth Highland’s Happy LOU Year New Year’s Eve party with special guest Andy Pratt who will sing “Avenging Annie.” Club Linehan A Go Go opens the show at 9 pm ….Kenneth Highland will be onstage at midnight with Andy Excuse on bass, Schmel on guitar, Captain Keyboard, it’s going to be lots of fun… What is Sedagive Music? See Instagram:

Sedagive is a band that plays Western, Mass, and they are looking to come our way. George Lenides sent me the Spotify and it knocked me out, instantly, which doesn’t happen often. Power pop, Pop Rock, Sunshine Pop? Sedagive has all the elements! The song “Massachusetts” opens up the 5 song e.p. entitled SUMMERS OVER (no apostrophe on summer’s) – so here’s a Tiny URL check it out. “Massachusetts” has flavors of Bob Lind, sixties star whose birthday is Nov. 25, day I’m writing this. “Flowers” follows, and it’s upbeat, bright and rocks smoothly…with delicate and elegant musicianship and vocals. “Nine” also has the sparkling guitars, a “Girl from Ipanema” feel with vocals out of Pere Ubu or Psychedelic Furs, but just a touch, more pop than new wave…delightful. “Little Angel” goes to more hard-driving Beatles by way of the Seeds or Paul Revere & The Raiders…these guys know how to change rock genres in an instant…and, no, “This Girl” is not an answer to John, Paul, George and Ringo’s “This Boy” – I can’t place my finger on the influences at this moment, listened last night too and can’t figure it out, but it is highly listenable and worth your attention…reminds me of how great the music of Steve Dennis is, so let’s go there.

It was almost a year ago, December 2018, that the self-titled Steve Dennis 5 song extended play went into release. Offering production polish on the exquisite “Quicksand,” light, simple and very radio friendly, it will catch your attention immediately – “Baby, I don’t know, where it went wrong…your emotions never show, maybe it’s been too long” almost a psychological self-study. Doesn’t matter that at 4:45 it pushes the airplay envelope, it is an attractive melody with grooving instrumentation that calls for repeated spins.

“Real Love” has the same folksy charm that made the 2017 songs so moving and heartfelt. Guitar and harmonica blend to give an overall feeling of hope tucked inside this blues/pop ballad that floats down a river as introspection falls into place.

“As Much as I Loved You” will tug at your heart – it did to this writer – especially if the love affair you have is in some sort of conflict, short and sweet and effective, a powerful quick statement on the state of emotion.

“Try Me On” has a dance beat and dominant guitar work and is a stark change of pace from what we’ve heard from Steve before. The artist knows how to pitch a catchy chorus with dangling musical sounds embellishing the story.

“The Swell” seems drawn from the musician’s time in Hawaii, a bit of Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground’s “Ocean,” in the minute plus opening. I thought it would be an instrumental but the voice of Steve Dennis sings at 1:08 in over the simple strum and slow-motion splashing of the cymbal, a nice vibration that closes out in a most hypnotic way. Along with being very musical the five songs elegantly capture feeling and heart in a beautiful and compelling way.

Do you watch Law & Order: SVU? Mariska Hargitay, daughter of Jayne Mansfield, looks like the Dark Phoenix on Hulu’s deep red website. The 21st season chugs along, it’s the 1950s/1960s hit show Perry Mason for a future generation. The vehicle still has the momentum and the current two-parter which probably won’t conclude until January is taken right from the creepy story of Jeff Epstein. So the formula is to rip stories from the headlines, reinvent them, and put an Erle Stanley Gardner (Perry Mason author) spin on them.

Violent John Wick on DVD:
On February 6, 2015 the Wachowski Brothers….errr…the Wachowski Sisters….uhhhh…what the hell, the Wachowskis delivered a terrible Jupiter Ascending with a production budget of 176 million. This boring piece of alleged film-making brought in about 184 million worldwide, chop that in half and you see what a bust this was for the directors who should have given the world what the world wanted: Matrix 4.

John Wick 3, for all intents and purposes, IS Matrix 4. It reunites Neo, Keanu Reeves, with his mentor, Morpheus, Laurence Fishburne, a duo who last appeared together in the November 5, 2003 The Matrix Revolutions (150 m budget, over 427 million return,) and the May 2003 The Matrix Reloaded (both films shot at the same time; budget 150 m, 742 plus return; and for good measure the original March 1999 The Matrix cost around 63 m and brought in around 463m)

According to WICKipedia, the 122 minutes of the 2nd John Wick film cost 40m and brought in 171.5 m. Wikipedia, usually reliable with the film costs, doesn’t have info for JW3 budget just yet. – Joe Viglione

Ultra-violence is the theme here with cutting and slashing and gore beyond gratuitous. So much so that, despite my enjoying the film for its acting, spectacular cinematography and many, many Matrix elements, I probably won’t be watching it again anytime soon. Was I judging the film for the MPAA I would rate it X for the extreme meat grinder that it is.

But there IS the taxi cab in the pouring rain, a la Matrix 1, chase scenes a la Matrix 2 and 3, Keanu and Laurence back together again, images reminiscent of Neo vs Mr. Smith, and ninja battles that are so reminiscent of the fight scenes in Matrix that you get the marketing at play here: this is Keanu Reeves “Mission Impossible,” the safety net Tom Cruise has when he needs a little career jolt. Reeves’ acting is superb, twenty years after the naive Mr. Anderson/Neo, Keanu Reeves is in full control, superb acting from all involved. Anjelica Huston? Marvelous, brilliant, as is Halle Berry, Lance Reddick, Ian McShane, they all came to this deadpan humor fest with tons of brío,

Indeed, the bloodletting is offset by the humorous camera shots, director Chad Stahelski and the actors adding dark humor to the ax to the head or the dozens of slice and dice moments. The younger audiences want the lurid killings, and that’s a shame. Svengoolie on METV playing The Bride of Frankenstein this past weekend (May 11, 2019) is Exhibit A as to why the vintage early sound horror movies had a touch of class when it came to the bloodshed. Words like “macabre” and “morbidly gruesome” were used by critics for the 1935 film which was a masterpiece of movie-making and certainly in my Top 25 of all-time great films. Eighty-four years later you have overkill, hacking away at the human body, deconstructing Frankenstein’s monster with so many bullets flying beyond the two hours plus that the NRA probably would give this film its stamp of approval.

And that’s the dicey part at play here. For today’s young slasher film audiences, John Wick 3 is going to make money hand over fist. For those of us who see the potential of the brilliant acting, cinematography and thick, dark humor – the bullets and the killings are a detriment. Were this film more vague about the butchering, an opaque mind twist leaving more to the imagination, it would be in a class by itself. But, alas, the kids want the slasher flicks, and this is high-quality slash, slash on a stylish and sophisticated level, the pluses being the minuses, but ones that will deliver hundreds of millions at the box office, and for the bottom line, that’s what it is all about. Money over true art. But for those in need of a Matrix fix, this is as close as you are going to get until the Wachowskis are forced to plug us back in. The feel of this motion picture, especially the zombie-like “adjudicator,” Asia Kate Dillon, makes it FEEL like you are back in the Matrix. Dillon is known as “non-binary” with Wikipedia explaining the person as ” having a fluctuating gender identity (genderfluid).” Back in the Star Trek pilot with Jeffrey Hunter, The Menagerie/ The Cage, the Talosians were women with men’s voices, so Gene Rodenberry had the idea long before people started exploring different aspects of gender. There’s even a line from the Oracle (the Matrix series) though not bringing my notebook, I can’t recall it at the moment. Visceral vagueries and more cerebral parlance would have made this an extraordinary epic. But, alas, ruthlessness and barbarity are the order of the day here, so let the bullets fly!

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