Vintage Movies: “Il Postino: The Postman”

MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’90s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

IlPostino

Il Postino: The Postman (1994. 108 minutes)

Il Postino: The Postman features Massimo Troisi as Mario Ruoppolo, a working-class man from a small island off the Italian coast, in the early ’50s. Dedicated to finishing the film even though heart surgery was pending, Troisi, who’d suffered from rheumatic fever as a child, died from a heart attack at the age of 41, in Rome at the apartment of his sister, the day after shooting was completed.

Unless he finds another occupation, Mario is doomed to a life on his father’s fishing boat. Over a simple meal at home, he tries to explain to his old man how he feels. “I got the sniffles again today,” he says, in a lazy, mumbling manner that owes something to Brando and James Dean. “I only have to set foot on that boat and I become allergic, even if the boat isn’t moving.” As he eats he reads a postcard from two of his friends, Gaetano and Alfredo, now living in the U.S. “They say they’re about to buy an American car. And meanwhile, we’re still here.”

While riding his bike home from the harbor, Mario spots a sign advertising a job opening at the Ufficio Postale, the local post office, that reads, “WANTED: Temporary Employee With Bicycle.” He’s ushered to the desk of the tiny postal facility’s only worker. “Are you illiterate?” the postal official asks the fisherman. “No, I can read and write, but not very fast,” answers Mario. “I need someone to deliver mail to Calla di Sotto,” the postal manager says. “That’s great. That’s where I live,” says Mario. “There’s just one addressee who receives mail. Everyone else there is illiterate,” explains the manager.

The only mail delivered on the island is for its newest inhabitant, Pablo Neruda. Mario gets excited, having just sat through a news story at the local cinema about Neruda, a world famous poet recently exiled to this very island by the Chilean government. “He’s the poet loved by women,” says Mario. The postal manager corrects him: “He’s the poet loved by the people. He’s a communist, and he currently has a mountain of mail. Pedaling uphill with all that will be like carrying an elephant on your back.” The manager introduces himself to his new employee. “My name is Giorgio. I’m your superior, and you should call me, ‘Sir.’ But I won’t hold you to it, because I, too, am a communist.”

After a few trips up the mountain to Neruda’s home to deliver his mail, Mario begins to practice in the mirror, asking for the poet’s signature on a slim volume of his verse. Further interest in the work of the legendary Neruda, he reckons, may come in handy as he tries to win the heart of the local girl of his dreams, the lovely Beatrice Nusso.

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From The Desk Of The Faint: Noise

Nearly six years after the release of strangely desiccated 2008 album Fasciinatiion and one lengthy stroll down wait-is-this-a-hiatus-or-a-break-up? lane, the Faint has reemerged from the shadows to deliver up Doom Abuse—a vital, manic comeback triumph shellacked in an exquisite devil-may-fucking-care electro-sheen. Guitarist Dapose will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all wee. Read our brand new Q&A with him.

Noise

Dapose: “Music” is the unknown. Outer space. It is inverting all the colors of the world. It is the end of everything. The birth of a life. It is me and my thoughts. It’s me inside your head. It has no meaning and no boundaries and is thoughtfully empty.

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From The Desk Of The Faint: Gardening

Nearly six years after the release of strangely desiccated 2008 album Fasciinatiion and one lengthy stroll down wait-is-this-a-hiatus-or-a-break-up? lane, the Faint has reemerged from the shadows to deliver up Doom Abuse—a vital, manic comeback triumph shellacked in an exquisite devil-may-fucking-care electro-sheen. Guitarist Dapose will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all wee. Read our brand new Q&A with him.

Gardening

Dapose: To me, gardening means designing and cultivating mysteries. They are magic places where anything can happen. Every garden I’ve ever seen says so much about the owner. I truly believe that all the world’s problems would be greatly diminished if everyone gardened and treated the land around their homes as a place to learn, a place where their food comes from, etc.

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From The Desk Of The Faint: Pu-erh Tea

Nearly six years after the release of strangely desiccated 2008 album Fasciinatiion and one lengthy stroll down wait-is-this-a-hiatus-or-a-break-up? lane, the Faint has reemerged from the shadows to deliver up Doom Abuse—a vital, manic comeback triumph shellacked in an exquisite devil-may-fucking-care electro-sheen. Guitarist Dapose will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all wee. Read our brand new Q&A with him.

Tea

Dapose: It’s what gets me going each and every day. It’s fermented and aged like wine, but more delicate and susceptible to spoiling. They have earthy, smooth flavors that help warm up the digestive system and have a more balanced way of energizing you.

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From The Desk Of The Faint: Sean R. Ward

Nearly six years after the release of strangely desiccated 2008 album Fasciinatiion and one lengthy stroll down wait-is-this-a-hiatus-or-a-break-up? lane, the Faint has reemerged from the shadows to deliver up Doom Abuse—a vital, manic comeback triumph shellacked in an exquisite devil-may-fucking-care electro-sheen. Guitarist Dapose will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all wee. Read our brand new Q&A with him.

SeanWard

Dapose: Artist. See A Pre-Conscious Space: a cave installation built with reclaimed lumber, 40,000 pounds of recycled glass and local Nebraska red clay. The space was a speak-easy style, outsider venue for weirdos and late nighters. Sean is very influential to me. He helped me learn that all artists are lazy pieces of shit and should get jobs.

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Film At 11: Arc Iris

Arc Iris (a.k.a. ex-Low Anthem member Jocie Adams ) just released a new video for “Canadian Cowboy,” off the band’s self-titled debut album. Watch the clip below.

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From The Desk Of The Faint: Wildflowers

Nearly six years after the release of strangely desiccated 2008 album Fasciinatiion and one lengthy stroll down wait-is-this-a-hiatus-or-a-break-up? lane, the Faint has reemerged from the shadows to deliver up Doom Abuse—a vital, manic comeback triumph shellacked in an exquisite devil-may-fucking-care electro-sheen. Guitarist Dapose will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all wee. Read our brand new Q&A with him.

Wildflowers

Dapose: I really love wildflowers, also known as weeds to the unobservant, busy, non-gardener. These are unassuming plants hidden in the cracks of our crumbling infrastructures, quietly and nobly restoring fertility to the soil we continuously poison. Did I mention they are cute?

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MP3 At 3PM: Frances England

FrancesEngland

San Francisco-based singer/songwriter Frances England stared off playing children’s music, and her first music acted as a fundraiser for her son’s school. Four albums down the line, the new Paths We Have Worn (out May 6) includes songs that allow us to contemplate each other and be available for one another. Download first single “Fall Out Of The Sky” below.

“Fall Out Of The Sky” (download):

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From The Desk Of The Faint: Michael Pollan

Nearly six years after the release of strangely desiccated 2008 album Fasciinatiion and one lengthy stroll down wait-is-this-a-hiatus-or-a-break-up? lane, the Faint has reemerged from the shadows to deliver up Doom Abuse—a vital, manic comeback triumph shellacked in an exquisite devil-may-fucking-care electro-sheen. Guitarist Dapose will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all wee. Read our brand new Q&A with him.

MichaelPollan

Dapose: I love Michael Pollan‘s writing because he is an advocate for plants, ultimately. He writes in such an invigorating and relatable way. I have gained so much from his personal journeys in discovering the secret worlds around us. His passion for educating the modern “intelligent” world we live in with forgotten knowledge that is lost in our industrialized world. He’s a breath of fresh air.

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Q&A With The Faint

Faint

Nearly six years after the release of strangely desiccated 2008 album Fasciinatiion and one lengthy stroll down wait-is-this-a-hiatus-or-a-break-up? lane, the Faint has reemerged from the shadows to deliver up Doom Abuse—a vital, manic comeback triumph shellacked in an exquisite devil-may-fucking-care electro-sheen. Guitarist Dapose was kind enough to take a break from tour prep to chat with MAGNET about abusing doom, rekindling creative fires and rocking jams on the set of the children’s television powerhouse Yo Gabba Gabba.

How important was the break after Fasciinatiion to the creation of Doom Abuse?
It was critical. We just overdid it on Fasciinatiion. We tried too hard for too long for various reasons, and it sounds that way. We worked so long on that record that the idea of making more music as the Faint the same way just did not excite any of us. The Faint is about inspired ideas usually. Some of us went off and made club and party music. I went off and explored heavy noise and experimental improve music. Just pushing our ideas farther to see where is too far,

I feel like a lot of the disparate post-Danse Macabre sonic things the band dabbled in have cohered here. Does that seem fair or accurate to you?
Yes, but we just know a lot more about sound now. We pretty much know what every frequency is going to add or takeaway from a song because of all the years of labor making the last few records.

Did the 2012 Danse Macabre-in-its-entirety tour play into any of this at all?
Ha! No. That tour was fun to do. And that was the first step in doing this band again was learning to have fun again as the Faint. So I guess it was helpful.

So stepping back perhaps allowed you to see a little better how the pieces of the Faint puzzle might fit together?
Perspective can get lost for sure, and it’s always good to find some however you can. I like first impressions a lot. I like to walk out of the room and come back—helps me hear what’s good and bad about the music and lyrics quickly as apposed to convincing myself that something sounds great. If you have no context for the part or element in a song you’re working on you are just making more work for yourself by creating a problem.

Can you talk to me a little about process of writing and recording Doom Abuse?
This record was created with our live gear set up in our studio. We wrote a lot of the music just sort of live—jamming off of Todd’s demos; Clark will try some beats; Jacob and I will start making loud noises over it. And Todd might, too, but we’ll tell him to try his vocal melody over it. So Todd will bring lo-fi home recordings or some mumbling melody where he taps his phone with a pen and sings along. We’ll all listen to it and see if we hear anything in it we could turn into something. We tried some things, and on this record if it didn’t work it didn’t work. We move on. We used to focus more on the endless possibilities of the studio. We have learned the hard way that setting limitations or restrictions or deadlines for ourselves is a much more productive way for us to work.

Were you surprised at all by the material that flowed as you began to write?
Absolutely. We wrote so many great parts in this record very spontaneously. And much to all of our surprise most of those parts we still liked the next day and the next week! That’s just amazing to get all four of us on the same page about the direction of a song, and yet it just happened over and over this time.

Do you recall any initial songs or first impressions?
Fast. Punk rock. Noisy. Fuck it up has always been our mantra when one of us is on to something good.

Were there any new influences brought to the table?
We are pretty inquisitive dudes. And in the interweb era … I like looking to the past for inspiration.

Has this “let loose” attitude during recording bled over into the live performances?
We were trying to have our live performance bleed into our recoding sessions on this one. Studios can be comfortable. Live music on stage is not comfortable—it is pitch black except for constant strobing right in your eyes. You’re playing with ten times more vigor then when you’re writing. If your adrenaline wasn’t beating you into a full on sweat you’d realize you were drunk enough to get thrown out of a bar. In other words we were trying to have fun making this record.

Where did the album title originate?
It’s a mystery.

All right. Well, are there any particular manias explored in the lyrics this time out?
Mania is what we explored, really. We like to bitch about shit. And artfully craft it so it doesn’t sound like we’re bitching about shit.

I read Todd employed a ”stream of consciousness” singing technique on Doom Abuse—are you still peeling back layers of meaning?
It’s just juxtaposing meanings to create contexts that you would otherwise never explore. That’s the fun part about being an artist is changing what things mean.

You suggested earlier that he worked the vocal melodies out beforehand, though?
Yes. The melodies very often help supply the words through their own subjective powers—the power of suggestion and subconscious gelling.


I noticed this is coming out on SQE, not the band’s own post-Saddle Creek label blank.wav. Any particular reason for the change up? Did running too much of the show perhaps take away from the creative end of things?
Absolutely! DIY is a fabulous approach to many things but it doesn’t work beyond a certain point. We are stoked to be with SQE! Our friend Zane is running it, and he is a badass. Couldn’t be happier with that decision.

When the Faint first started garnering real widespread attention, it seemed like one of very few bands trying to put a new spin on synth-y electronic/rock ‘n’ roll. Now we hear a lot of echoes of what you guys were doing more than a decade ago—though perhaps not as dark. I’m sure, if you consider it at all, that it’s flattering, but at the same time does it also serve as impetus for the Faint to continue to break new ground?
We love doing our thing. We’re pretty uncompromising and are always trying to reach new places with music. I am happier these days when music speaks to others or groups. I used to spend a lot of time listening to music that one dude made with tons of time on his hands and a laptop studio. Now I’m listening to ’60s jazz. Old country tunes. I like songs that people can relate too as opposed to songs that are isolating and personal or supposed to be for only punks or hippies or metalheads. I like feeling connected with others more than being on an innovative island. All art is borrowed.

All right, you’ve got this awesome new record finished, the band is firing on all cylinders again. How does it feel? Is there a renewed love there? Newfound appreciation? An excitement for the future?

I got my shades on.

And, finally, just because my daughter Ruth is such a huge Yo Gabba Gabba fan, I have to ask: What was the experience of performing on that show like?
Ha! It was cooler than shit! We loved it. People were super nice. We got to see fun behind-the-scenes, making-of stuff that kids should never see. The song was fun to do. I would do it again in a heartbeat!

—Shawn Macomber

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