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Best Character Dancing Scenes – Featuring Band of Outsiders, Pulp Fiction, and Simple Men

Best Character Dancing Scenes – Featuring Band of Outsiders, Pulp Fiction, and Simple Men

I usually post video sets on Fridays but, since football season has ended and my Sundays have become quite boring, I’ve been watching movies, and the one I watched today inspired me to post some videos. My inspiration was really great film by French New Wave director, Jean-Luc Godard. His 1964 film, Bande à part (Band of Outsiders), features what must be the most influential character-dancing scene in a non-musical drama. Here’s what the actors; Anna Karina, Claude Brasseur, and Sami Frey, called “the Madison Dance”. French composer Michel Legrand wrote the mostly jazz-based soundtrack, but the music for this scene is more R&B than jazz and it sounds a lot like Booker T. and The MG’s.


Quentin Tarantino loved the scene so much he had Uma Thurman and John Travolta watch it as a form of inspiration for their dance to the Chuck Berry song “You Never Can Tell” in the 1994 film Pulp Fiction.


Hal Hartley was a fan too. His 1992 film, Simple Men, features an homage to Godard starring Robert John Burke, Bill Sage, and Elina Löwensohn dancing to the music of Sonic Youth’s “Kool Thing“.

James Dean

James Dean

Fifty-one years ago today, James Dean died in a car accident.

Watch Rebel Without a Cause tonight.

James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause

MOTHER:  No!  I don’t want you to go to the police!  There were other people and why should you be the only one involved!

JIM:  But I am involved!  We’re all involved, Mom!  A boy was killed! I don’t see how we can get out of that by pretending it didn’t happen!

FATHER: You know you did wrong.  That’s the main thing, isn’t it?

JIM:  No!  It’s nothing!  Just nothing!  You always told me to tell the truth.  You think you can just turn that off?

MOTHER:  He’s not saying that!  He’s saying don’t volunteer!

JIM:  Just tell a little white lie?

FATHER:  You’ll learn as you get a little older, Jim.

Rock on.

Smells Like Teen Spirit

Smells Like Teen Spirit

The October issue of Uncut features a photo of Kurt Cobain on the cover, and the magazine features a series of articles about the Seattle grunge scene that took off fifteen years ago.  There are interviews with Eddie Vedder, Mark Arm, Mark Lanegan and many more. 

Here’s a sidebar piece appearing next to the article about Cobain:

“I love myself and I want to live”
We imagine an alternative future where Kurt hadn’t died…

May 1994 Kurt leaves rehab, declares himself a changed man, puts Nirvana on hold. Rumours begin to circulate that he has suffered a motorcycle crash on his Seattle estate.

November 1994 Unplugged In New York is announced as Nirvana’s “final” album.  Kurt breaks his silence with a guest appearance on Neil Young’s new album, Sleeps With Angels.

January 1995 Kurt divorces Courtney Love, citing ongoing “drug and lifestyle issues.”

March 1996 Kurt releases his debut solo album, recorded in Nashville, but his new born-again Christian country-rock direction fiercely divides fans.  Inspired by his 12-step rehab and newly positive outlook, the album, I Love Myself And I Want To Live, sells poorly.

October 1997 Dropped by Geffen records for poor sales, Kurt announces his retirement from the music industry and claims he is looking for work as a janitor.

February 1998 Kurt is spotted holidaying in the Bahamas with actress Nicole Kidman.  Their alleged affair will later be blamed for Kidman’s divorce from Tom Cruise.

July 1999 Kurt releases a new solo album on his own label and plays Woodstock ’99.  He helps to calm rioting fans but almost comes to blows with Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst.

September 2000 In response to Kurt’s scathing comments about his misogyny and homophobia, Eminem disses the grunge godfather onstage.  As a result, sales of Kurt’s solo albums enjoy a surge in popularity.

November 2000 Nirvana surprise the world by putting their differences n hold for a one-off reunion tour to mobilize the anti-Bush vote.  Kurt dedicates “Negative Creep” to Bush at every show.  The massive sell-out tour is later credited with helping Al Gore wind the White House by a narrow margin.

October 2002 Kurt digs out and finishes a couple of sketchy old songs for Nirvana’s best-selling career retrospective, Heart Shaped Box.  He then shocks the world by marrying Amanda de Cadenet.

May 2005 Kurt makes his acting debut playing “asshole art dealer” in Gus Van Sant’s Last Days, a semi-abstract meditation on Andy Warhol’s death.

July 2005 Kurt and Dave Grohl hug on stage during a mixed set of Nirvana and Foo Fighters songs at Live8 in London.  “This is more important than any beef between us,” they say.

March 2006 Kurt delivers a stripped-down acoustic album, produced by Rick Rubin.  The record is widely hailed as a return to classic form.  His new internet radio show, Drivetime with The KC, also becomes a huge success.

September 2006 In Martin Scorsese’s epic documentary profile of Kurt, Stupid And Contagious, the goatee-bearded singer gives a shifty and selective account of his career.  It is hailed as a masterpiece.  Kurt is bigger than ever.

Buy the magazine to read the rest of the articles.  In it you’ll find this quote from Mark Arm: 

“Kurt was taking all kinds of pills and shit.  He was asking how I’d quit, and I said you have to want it bad enough.  I should have also said: ‘You should get away from your junkie wife.'”

The magazine always comes with a CD featuring mostly new music, and this month’s CD includes a song off the upcoming Sparklehorse CD that for some reason hasn’t yet been released in the U.S.

Edward R. Murrow

Edward R. Murrow

Born 98 years ago today.

Died in April 1965.

Resurrected last year in Good Night and Good Luck, a great movie.

Some quotes:

Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn’t mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar.

Anyone who isn’t confused really doesn’t understand the situation.

Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. No one can eliminate prejudices – just recognize them.

The obscure we see eventually. The completely obvious, it seems, takes longer.

We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.

We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it.

Good night, and good luck.

bio page here.

Sponge Bob

Sponge Bob

During the second half of No Direction Home one of the musicians featured throughout the film (I think it was Dave Van Ronk, but I’m not certain…) said something about how Bob Dylan had absorbed, like a sponge, all the music and styles that he was exposed to and then invented himself as something new. The movie documented Dylan’s metamorphosis into a near god-like pop star with interviews, photos, movie clips, and archival footage of performers that influenced him.

During the first half of the show, there were some great clips of old folk and blues artists like Bill Monroe, Hank Williams, Howlin’ Wolf, Billie Holiday, and Odetta, who scared me (in a good way.) But the one clip that I thought was the most interesting was of a freaky old guy sitting to play a guitar on a table with a few people standing around listening to him as he sang with “Lon Chaney” like facial expressions in an operatic folk style. I had no idea who the guy was until today when I visited this site (Thanks Reid!) and found out it was John Jacob Niles.

The weirdest scenes in the second half of the film are the Dylan press conferences. Do pop stars have press conferences these days? I can’t recall any recent interviews with pop stars that were even remotely like what I saw in the film: Dylan sitting at a table in front of dozens of reporters asking him very stupid questions about the meaning of his shirt or why he sings.

Anyway… It was a great documentary of Dylan’s life and career through the mid sixties, and I must highly recommend it to everybody-Dylan fan or not.