The Carl Online

Review of Gomorrah by tatgers
December 28, 2008, 5:30 pm
Filed under: movies


boys and toys

boys and toys

I didn’t know anything about Gomorrah when I went to it, other than it won some big big awards in Europe and that it was on the cover of the most recent issue of the BFI’s Sight and Sound publication before I left campus. Boy am I glad that’s all I knew.  Had I seen one of the trailers, some of the most shocking moments of the film would have been spoiled.  Perhaps this is a fateful nudge for me to stop breaking down trailers and their edits.


Initially, the film is disorienting.  I spent the first hour wondering who all these people are and how do they fit into the the greater picture. Hierarchy is not immediately communicated, and viewers have to categorize characters of all ages and roles as we navigate their stories. My instinct to first identify the perimeter, where the mob begins and ends in relation to the rest of society, was disappointed. Unlike the The Godfather, Sopranos, Goodfellas, or The Departed there was is no seducing of innocent outsiders.  Parents aren’t encouraging their kids stay away from the big men in dark rooms and get a decent job because, well, the legitimate jobs in the fashion industry, waste removal, and who knows what else are part of the community. The system that houses the characters is so massive it can’t be seen in relation to a “non-mob” society, but as a primer on how an entirely different community from our own (or so we believe) operates. Perhaps this is one of the most unsettling, and pertinent, issues that the film points to, seemingly shrugging: we are implicitly involved with the sins of the system that we rely on survival. Yes, the film is explicitly about a mob community, but the complacency of the characters in a violent causes me to reflect on my own complacency when I hear about the bad things I think my society is responsible for. 

Like an immersive language classroom, the rules and relations of this society’s political and financial economy are slowly rendered, and every now and then, violence suddenly punctures the flow of the film. Sometimes it strikes when suspected, but more often we are reminded violence can occur at any time—suddenly and without foreboding to let us brace ourselves. On a few occasions killers and/or their victims are offscreen, and the camera whirs to capture moments just missed.  There is a heavy use of a handheld camera effect, but more than any other film I can think of, this is often has tactile effects besides “engaging the audience”**. The camera’s perspective in Gomorrah actively hides and reveals information.  I certainly don’t know all films, but I can’t think of another that uses style to embody thematic questions of violence’s “scope” in our society.

See this if you can.  IFC is distributing so it’ll be available in theatres the same time as in other formats.

**(which is what one producer in a Q&A session for another film said the intent was.  Honestly, I think an unspoken plus it that it might save time and be easier to shoot a tight shot not using a tripod or mount all the time). In general, the most common use of handheld camera shooting is to create a sense of authentic observation.  I am thinking of when conversations are shot, it is usually a series of steady shots edited together, “popping” from one perspective to the other (shot of person A from B’s side, shot of person B from A’s side).  You see this in TV talk shows as well as in fiction. It is debatably more authentic looking when the camera pans (but not quite perfectly) between two speaking characters, as though the camera is a third person’s eyeballs looking back and forth following characters to see what reactions occur, or following a character as they actively move a room.


by Alex Sciuto
December 27, 2008, 11:43 pm
Filed under: Internet | Tags: , , , , ,
Aren’t you amazed when one of your really smart friends, or really smart people on tv or in magazines throws out some idea or tidbit so obviously cool and interesting that you think “Why can’t I think of this. It’s so obvious.” I’ve noticed that lots of cool blogs usually have that same Ah Ha! moment. To showcase one of these conceptual jewels, here’s the fourth installment of Why Didn’t I Think To Make That Blog. Of course, if you find one of these great blogs, you’ll shoot them our way won’t you?

(stairs, and nothing but)

About (from the site): stair porn is a weblog featuring cool stairs from around the world. Posting will be relatively sporadic, so we recommend subscribing to the feed for updates. >> If you came here looking for sex, you’re plumb outta luck, bub.

Why It’s Great: This site first caught my eye when a really cool staircase was posted on MAKE Magazine’s blog. The image to the left really sums up the gestalt of the blog. The images are exclusively stairs, and having flipped through the blog’s archives, all the stairs are stunningly beautiful. But the images tell a story so much more expansive than just a device for altering personal elevation. They sum up entire buildings succinctly and beautifully. I don’t know who the photographers, but they all can really spot great architectural shots. It seems sometimes a coincidence and afterthought that a stair takes center-stage in the photo.

-Alex Sciuto

Have a Christopher Hitchens Christmas! by Greg Hunter
December 24, 2008, 3:55 pm
Filed under: Misc., Music, Politics | Tags: , , ,


I’ve expressed my fondness for Christopher Hitchens before on this blog.  In a time when political commentators are judged largely by who among them can shout the loudest, it’s hard not to like someone who’s such an unabashed stylist.  Hitchens is maybe our greatest living polemic writer, and it’s as much because of the control he exerts over his prose as anything else.  His favorite target is probably organized religion, and in this recent Slate article - – he vows to write a fiercer anti-Christmas column every year.  Now while I think Hitchens makes a great Grinch – calling the holiday a “moral and aesthetic nightmare” is an example of the elevated purple prose no one does quite so well – I don’t really buy his argument this year, that the U.S. “turns itself into the cultural and commercial equivalent of a one-party state” at Christmastime.

I’m a lapsed Catholic who plans to celebrate Christmas for the rest of my life.  Part of why I’m at ease with this is because the holiday as it is today seems like a bright, shining triumph of the secular.  At it’s core, Christmas is indisputably Christian, but do we really see Christianity casting a shadow over all American institutions each December?  Or do we see market capitalism using the holiday for all it’s worth, with Christians and non-Christians alike buying and selling lots of junk they don’t need?  (Less cynically: when Christmas gives Americans a pretense for family gatherings and gift-giving, I’d imagine those acts of gathering and giving are more important than the pretense itself for many people.)  Organized religions aren’t going anywhere, Christianity included, but seeing one of the two most popular Christian holidays fixed in such a secularized form should be, for someone like Hitchens, a source of holiday cheer.  And speaking of cheer, I’ve had this on repeat lately:

– Greg Hunter

…Nor will it ever be a music blog, but… by Alex Sciuto
December 23, 2008, 12:47 am
Filed under: Music | Tags: , ,

Well, here’s the third music related post in a row. I apologize. I know Tom and Greg can write cogently about music, but I can’t so I’ll keep this short. Everyone loves the Beatles and everyone loves Sufjan Stevens, right? Well, I found this track of Sufjan covering What Goes On, from Rubber Soul. It’s from an anniversary album of a bunch of different artists covering all the songs from Rubber Soul. I think the track sounds pretty cool.


-Alex Sciuto

’08 Favorites – A supplement by Tom

First off, I’d like to second a few of Greg’s picks – No Age, Times New Viking, Fucked Up, and Santogold. Alright. Click the links below to download individual tracks, or here for the mediafire folder.

The Magnetic Fields – California Girls

This could be the catchiest song I’ve ever heard. I don’t even listen to it that much, because every time I do, it sticks in my head for days afterward (along with fantasies of rampaging through Hollywood with a battleaxe).

Arthur Russell – I Couldn’t Say It To Your Face

Arthur Russell didn’t write many songs like this one. It’s a shame; “I Couldn’t Say it to Your Face” is as immediate and heartfelt as anything else I’ve heard of his (which, in the scheme of his monstrous output, is very little). Everything, from the stop-start chorus, to the understated horns, to Russell’s deceptively soulful vocal performance, is just right.

Big Boi – Royal Flush feat. Andre 3000 and Raekwon

Lil Wayne and his (totally awesome) nonsense are the big story in rap this year, but ‘Dre’s scattered guest appearances over the past two years, most recently on “Royal Flush,” serve as a reminder that off-kilter, virtuosic flow is nothing new. And then there’s the song’s heavy-ass beat and those other two solid verses from Big Boi and Raekwon. Wayne may be the future of rap, but the old guard is aging gracefully.

White Denim – Don’t Look That Way At It

The first song off of one of my favorite albums of the year (Exposion). Like most of the rest of the album, “Don’t Look That Way At It” sounds like three songs having a fight until about halfway through, when it pulls itself together and rocks your fucking face off.

Grizzly Bear – While You Wait For The Others

I’m not sure anyone expected Grizzly Bear to become one the tightest rock quartets playing after the meticulously arranged folk of Yellow House, but after a couple of years on the road honing their “live” sound, that’s exactly what they are. The first song to debut off of their forthcoming album, “While You Wait For the Others” is not only the best representation of the band’s new sound, it’s the best song they’ve ever written.

Deerhunter – Never Stops

I’m assuming that there are more casual Deerhunter fans than indie rock critics want us to think. Does everyone really think that Microcastle is that great? I don’t, and I’m skeptical. I do, however, think that “Never Stops” is awesome. Forget that it’s about inescapable depression; that wordless chorus slays.

Harlem – South Of France

“I hate every book I’ve ever read.” The battle cry of this compsing English major.

Tonisitcs – Holding On

Off of another great release from master crate-diggers The Numero Group, Soul Messengers from Dimona, “Hold On” is the “I Want You Back” of Jewish soul. Yeah, there is a serious novelty factor in play, here (see the collection’s backstory here), but the song stands on its own as a great soul record, and ought to make contemporary Christian music fans everywhere totally jealous (not that most of them would know a good song if it punched them in the ear).

Katy Perry – My War (Black Flag Cover)

-Tom Fry

08 FAVORITES – A Carl Mix by Greg Hunter

To download mp3s, copy and paste the link provided in a new window

AC/DC – “Rock ‘N’ Roll Train”

Come on.  It’s amazing they can keep doing this.

Be Your Own Pet – “Becky”

A lot of Get Awkward, BYOP’s second and last album, apparently sucked.  The lead single, “The Kelly Affair,” definitely did.  But not “Becky,” a smart, funny punk pop song that exists somewhere between Mean Girls and “Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell.”  The song was stricken from the US version of Get Awkward because of concerns over subject matter (it’s about school violence like a Roadrunner cartoon is about animal abuse).

Boston Spaceships – “You Satisfy Me”

It’s a relief and surprise that Robert Pollard is aging so gracefully.  In 2008, Fantagraphics put out a book of his collages, and his album with Boston Spaceships is thought to be his best since dissolving Guided By Voices.  On “You Satisfy Me” he sings like a big shaggy dog.  How do you make “seven in the morning” sound like that?

Fucked Up – “Son The Father”

People keep calling Fucked Up’s The Chemistry of Common Life a post-hardcore album, which doesn’t really mean anything (wouldn’t we at least be at post-post-hardcore by this point?).  Some reviewers are also saying it transcends the hardcore punk idiom, but didn’t half the bands on SST already do that 25 years ago?  (The only real innovation here is flutists.)  There’s nothing revolutionary about the album, contrary to the critical party line.  But that doesn’t mean it’s not really good.  Just call it a rock record?  A pretty awesome rock record?  “Son The Father,” particularly, DESTROYS.

Ghostface Killah (feat. Kid Capri) – “We Celebrate”

This one’s tricky.  The single was released in ’08, but the album came out in December ’07.  Just listen to it, though – it insists on being included.  Ghostface is not gonna be cut from the theatrical release of Iron Man and excluded from a mix on the Carl blog the same year.

The Hold Steady – “Slapped Actress”

The opening riff here is the sound of a ten-story building collapsing.  “Slapped Actress” makes a bunch of John Cassavetes references, but it makes me think of Leonard Cohen – this is a tower of song.

Jenny Lewis and Elvis Costello – “Carpetbaggers

Enjoying a Jenny Lewis song always makes me feel a little like a high school girl, but there’s a lot to like about “Carpetbaggers.”  The lyrics are corny, yeah, but it’s like everybody’s in on the joke.  And it sounds like someone forgot to tell Elvis Costello he was doing a faux-country duet – those vocals could be from a This Year’s Model outtake.

No Age – “Miner”

“Miner” is a great song from a great album, but No Age don’t fuck around live, either.  This show at Death By Audio was like, everything I want from a rock concert, and someone’s nicely captured it:

Santogold – “Lights Out”

The Bud Light with Lime remix is also gorgeous.  No joke.

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – “Glue Girls”

When Fuctape opened for SSLYBY in spring ’07, they were extremely friendly and gracious.  In spring ’08, Phillip Dickey, one of the band’s lead songwriters, agreed to an email interview with me and then never answered my questions.  It’s paradoxes like these that make such already fun power pop even more compelling.  I hope these big douchebags keep making such great songs.

Times New Viking – “The Early ‘80s”


Wilco – “Wilco The Song (Live on The Colbert Report

A while ago in The Carl I called Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky album “retirement rock,” and that’s still pretty much how I feel about it – don’t like it and don’t want to like it.  But this gem, played live on The Colbert Report, still makes me really curious about whatever Jeff Tweedy’s gonna put out next.  It’s Summerteeth-style pop plus Nels Cline’s weird ass jazz guitar heroics, and the sum is enough to keep me interested in Wilco The Future.

Wire – “One Of Us”

See: description, AC/DC’s “Rock ‘N’ Roll Train.”

– Greg Hunter

CarlMall? SkyNorthfield? Ack. by Alex Sciuto
December 17, 2008, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

When I’m flying, by the time the plane begins to land and I can see the buildings or farmland, I’ve usually got whatever was keeping me entertained packed-up. Because I can’t stand to sit quietly for even the twenty minutes before the plane lands, I pull out SkyMall. Everyone knows what it is.

But maybe I was particularly bored this flight, I started trying to think about items that a college/young-people/Carleton specific SkyMall would look like. I didn’t come up with any clever enough to share. But I’m wondering if any of you can think of any comletely useless items that every college dorm can’t be complete without.

-Alex Sciuto