Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Underlings vs Troll Hunter!!!

Last night before I went out to The Underlings cd release, I watched a really cool movie called Troll Hunter.  First off: my self-assigned plan to watch every movie in David Thomson’s Have You Seen...? kind of bottomed out when I realized I’d have to watch three movies a week for five years, or something like that, to methodically get through the book.  My Netflix list would be dictated by a film critic’s book.  Why would I want to do that? Hundreds of great films have come out since it was published.  So, it remains my random go-to film book; I’m into the B’s and really enjoyed Bay of Angels a few nights ago. 

Anyway, Troll Hunter looks like a Blair Witch-type premise crossed with a monster movie--the found footage of a young, inexperienced documentary film crew who is terrorized in the woods by ugly old trolls.  But what makes the film different is the central character of the troll hunter, who is as methodical, low-key, and unimpressed by pretty much everything as the kids are hysterical and freaked out.  His loneliness and his melancholy duty to his job working for the nation’s top secret Troll Security Service is central.  He’s like the old guy from Dursu Ursula, living out of a trailer.  He’s as comfortable with trolls as a bear hunter would be with bears, or a fly fisherman with steelhead.  He cooks Troll Stink on his gas stove so that he can move among them without smelling human.

As a monster flick, it’s really funny and cool when the trolls finally come out of the shadows.  They're ugly, dangerous, grotesque, and totally dense.  But I flashed on something totally different--Thomas Moore’s Jungian psychology book The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life.  By being very stereotypically Norwegian--quiet, stoic, non-emotive, matter-of-fact--the troll hunter creates a real sense of enchantment.  So riding my bike down to Luckies in the dark to see The Underlings was kind of magical in the resonance of this film.   Troll Hunter could have gone the route of low-budget, low-visibility, victim-attrition sheer terror but was more about a woodsman teaching these smart-ass kids to calm down.

I got to Luckies kind of later and only caught the last four or five songs of the Soothesayers set.  Brian, whose house I can almost see from where I sit and write, was ripping some wicked garage punk solos.  Sam was in fine, throat-shredding form.  The Soothesayers: a garage punk institution in Eugene.  Then the Love Sores came on--apparently this is the singer from The Humpers with a bunch of PDX vets.  It was extremely competent, kick-ass punk rock and roll a la Lazy Cowgirls and X.  They really clobbered the crowd with a super tight set.  

Earlier in the evening I spun The Underlings new album “Edgy” while I painted a section of the front room at home.  It is totally ripping.  It just tears out of the speakers, sounding vintage and very now at the same time.  They’re a tight band, they can all play, so the ferocious feel of it isn’t out of control or juvenile or shticky in any way.  Ed really is a remarkable singer and songwriter, singing in Lou Reed range over smoking three-piece rock, more and more comfortably and soulfully.  Much more up front and toothy than their first album Operational Excellence, which has its own vibe. 

This record is coming out just as Ed moves to Portland.  Very excited for him, and sad to see him go too.  Overall, I’m just always happy to see friends transition out of Eugene.  And I love Eugene. (Watching Mr. Random dance last night--one of the reasons I love Eugene.  Also dancing myself with Bruce Hartnell and being spun like a squaredancer--did not see that coming!)  It’s a personal paradox.  

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