POF Archive: February 2017

I have been writing this drivel for decades. Browse through my archives by clicking the links below.

La Califfa
Ennio Morricone - CD (10/10)

For a brief period, this CD was my holy grail of Morricone soundtracks. I took to eBay in search of it only to find sellers who listed the CD but didn't have it in stock (my only negative feedback came from one of these failed purchases). Eventually I found an honest seller and to this day the album remains one of my favorites from the Maestro. It's far more symphonic than his horror or western scores, so it doesn't have that immediate hipster/cool factor to it. Nevertheless, it delivers an emotional wallop as it moves from sparse piano, to dissonant vocal washes, to full-on orchestral…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Mon, 02/27/2017 - 10:26

Ms .45 (8/10)

This one casts itself off as a female version of Death Wish complete with two uncomfortable assaults of the lead actress in the first ten minutes. But rather than being a standard tale of revenge, it becomes a decent into madness as Thana grows more and more unhinged in her killing spree. The visuals, especially the insane climax, are really quite astounding. There is not much of a story here, but I was glued to it all the way to the bizarre, slow-motion ending.

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Fri, 02/24/2017 - 14:50

Il Poliziotto Della Brigata Criminale
Ennio Morricone - CD (9/10)

I finally bought this CD after being nagged by my Discogs.com wishlist alert for months. I shouldn't have waited because this disc, like all of the Morricone releases by Dagored, is worth having. The opening track and much of the record features a pounding piano rhythm that is not dissimilar from many 70's Italian police drama scores. Then there are creepy dissonant noise tracks and even an easy-listening gem, "Sospiri Da Una Radio Lontana."

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Fri, 02/24/2017 - 12:16

I Figli Chiedono Perché
Ennio Morricone - CD (10/10)

Don't be dissuaded by the fact that all the tracks lest one are titled, "I Bambini Ci Chiedono Perche." This isn't one of those Morricone scores that is just slight variations of the same song over and over (I'm looking at you Indagine Su Un Cittadino Al Di Sopra Di Ogni Sospetto!). Although the main melody, often sung by Edda Dell'Orso, is the focus throughout. It ranges from mysterious to bittersweet to spine-chillingly epic.

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Wed, 02/22/2017 - 15:12

Super Mario Galaxy 2 on Nintendo Wii (8/10)

Super Mario Galaxy 2

Well, it took me about half a decade, but I finally finished Super Mario Galaxy 2. I really liked the first one and this is a lot more of the same. There's a bit of "been there, done that," in my opinion of the game. A few new additions have been added, like being able to ride on Yoshi and use his tongue like a grappling hook. But, for the most part, this is pure 3-D platforming at about the best it will ever get. Which is to say, yeah it's pretty good for a not-so-deep game.

As with the original, gravity and orientation are used to mix things up and give everyone in the room motion…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Tue, 02/21/2017 - 14:17

John Wick (6/10)

Now that the sequel is in theaters, I thought I should see the original since since a lot of people who opinions I respect loved it. Maybe I had inflated expectations, but I wasn't impressed. What it has going for it is a nice character build up in the first twenty minutes and an original fantasy-ish world that is gradually built up. Everyone seemed to rave about the action, but I found it to be sterile and dull. Its action sequences are a never ending flow of perfect head-shots and zero danger for John Wick. It was like watching a blase slacker staple gunning flyers up on every pole around…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Sat, 02/18/2017 - 13:50

Connecticut Privateer Samuel Smedley by Jackson Kuhl (7/10)

A short book about a lesser known hero of the American revolution. As the captain of a Connecticut privateer vessel, Smedley captured a dozen or so prizes, ran aground, was captured twice and escaped from a British prison. It's all pretty exciting stuff, but there aren't too many first-hand accounts of the action so the book is a little sterile in its telling of the facts. I had to remind myself that this is straight up history and not an Aubry-Maturin novel.  Even so, enjoyed the book for what it was.

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Thu, 02/16/2017 - 21:09

Giornata Nera Per L'Ariete
Ennio Morricone - CD (9/10)

Although this disc is part of the Crime box set, the music here is very much in the vein of Morricone's giallo scores. There is a lots of dissonance and free form improvisation. The title track features Edda Dell'Orso and it serves to reel in the experimentation as it's reprised over the course of the CD. Many years ago I used some of this music in my horror remix trailer for the film Junior High School.

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Thu, 02/16/2017 - 13:00

Gli Intoccabili
Ennio Morricone - CD (7/10)

Gli Intoccabili opens with the tense and pounding, "Ballad of Hank McCain." It's reprised three more times on the record and I love it every time. The song feels like a spaghetti western pop song alá "Lonesome Billy" or "Keep Your Hand on Your Gun" but with a mafioso vibe. Unfortunately, a huge chunk of the record after that gets way too mellow. We're talking quiet dinner music mellow. I love lounge music but even I have my limits.

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Thu, 02/16/2017 - 10:17

Revolver
Ennio Morricone - CD (10/10)

One of three discs included on the Crime box set of Poliziotteschi soundtracks. The highlight of the soundtrack is the nine minute long "Revolver." A gritty, 70s cop show epic that is structured around a pounding piano melody that keeps building and building until the end. It's repetitive and my family hates it when this one comes up on the shuffle, but I love it! There is more variety throughout the rest of the disc and it's all book-ended with a couple of versions of the mellow title song, "Un Amico."

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Tue, 02/14/2017 - 11:22

Gli Occhi Freddi Della Paura
Ennio Morricone - CD (8/10)

The final CD from the Fear box set is pure experimental improvisation. There isn't much method to this madness, just jazzy noise, bowed cymbals and the occasional distorted wah-wah guitar. This feels like an excerpt from the six CD set Sound Dimensions. It's great as background filler, but don't listen here if you want sweeping, epic Morricone melodies.

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Fri, 02/10/2017 - 22:38

Il Gatto A Nove Code
Ennio Morricone - CD (9/10)

With the exception of the title song, "Ninna Nanna In Blu," all of the tracks on this CD are solid Morricone thriller ambiance. Most of the experimental sounds are backed by jazzy, repeating bass riffs and brushed snare. Unlike his more avante-garde compositions, there are lots of recurring motiffs and themes to hold everything together. There is something about the tone that's very Scooby Doo mystery sounding. This would be great music for sneaking around a creepy old cemetery.

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Wed, 02/08/2017 - 09:47

The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture by David Mamet (7/10)

Mamet's political coming out book doesn't offer much new insight into conservatism. Instead it cribs a lot from Thomas Sowell and other prominent conservative thinkers. He even goes so far as to restate Sowell's ideas of the "constrained vision" almost verbatim. Large sections of the book seem to be rooted in his defense of the state of Israel. If anything, what Mamet brings to the discussion is his colorful and often dense style of prose. Although I am on-board with most of his positions, I do have to concede that he does invoke straw man arguments to some degree when he targets his ire…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Wed, 02/08/2017 - 08:14

Una Lucertola Con La Pelle Di Donna
Ennio Morricone - CD (10/10)

This was perhaps one of the first non-Spaghetti Western Morricone soundtrack that I discovered and it remains one of my favorites. The title track is a stirring, swelling masterpiece. The rest of the disc contains the type of experimental noise collages featured in most of Morricone's giallo scores, but, in this case, they're grounded and grooved out with rhythmic drums and funky bass lines. The style plays well with the film's theme of killer hippies and drugged out parties. There is a lot of variety here and I would rank it as one of Morricone's best, or, at the very least, the best example…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Tue, 02/07/2017 - 11:46

Super Metroid on SNES (9/10)

Super Metroid

We never owned a Super Nintendo so I never got around to playing the 16-bit incarnation of Metroid. Well, thanks to the Wii Virtual Console I have finally crossed this one off my list. These days I am much more familiar with the 3-D versions of the game and, even though I played it back in the day, I don't really have too much nostalgia for the NES version. There were some really frustrating moments of platforming incompetence on display as I made my way around the planet, but I eventually got the hang of the floaty physics and stuck it through all the way to the final boss battle.

The…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Sun, 02/05/2017 - 22:27

Kathy Rain on PC (7/10)

Kathy Rain

Kathy Rain is a point and click adventure which uses the same AGS engine that all the games from Wadjet Eye games use. Visually it's as impressive as the best games in this niche. The Wadjet connection goes a little further in that all the voice over direction was done by Dave Gilbert. Unlike his games, here there is no commentary track filled with gushing praise of New York based voice actors. Thank goodness.

So, with all that said, fans of the genre will know what to expect in terms of quality and game-play mechanics. I found the puzzles to be mostly fair, although there's a whopper of a…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Sun, 02/05/2017 - 14:44

Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri on PC (6/10)

Planet Boring

This game was a $5 budget CD when I bought it over a decade ago at CompUSA but I never got around to playing it until now. I have seen it rated on several lists as one of, if not the best strategy game of all time. I can see why it has its reputation. There is a ton of depth in the technology trees and every aspect of the game can be micro-managed to you heart's delight. The early stages of the game are fun as you explore the planet and set up your first bases. However, gradually the game becomes and overly-complex and tedious exercise in unit management. One might argue that is just the…

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Fri, 02/03/2017 - 15:51

Slalom
Ennio Morricone - CD (7/10)

I like this soundtrack well enough, but it doesn't have any of the jazzy or avante-garde elements of my favorite Morricone scores. It feels like a fairly normal sixties soundtrack in the vein of Nelson Riddle. The vocal parts in the main title are fun and keep this from being a total bust. This is part of the Maestro box set.

Submitted by Robert Gomez on Thu, 02/02/2017 - 14:02