Monday, November 5, 2012

The Best Thing About Sunday Night's "Revenge"

Scratch that. Make it the two best things. For the most part, I found the November 4 episode of Revenge (the sixth of season two) to be somewhat underwhelming, but that's mostly because it felt like a tame set-up shot for future far more explosive frames.

Two particular scenes, however, stood out. The first was Madeleine Stowe vs. Jennifer Jason Leigh on Victoria Grayson's bedroom balcony. You've got to love a house guest who just strolls into her host's master bedroom like she belongs there. I loved the look of sheer terror in the eyes of Victoria Grayson as she wondered whether Kara Wallace Clarke was about to go all single white female on her and push her right over that edge. Stowe and Leigh were two of my favorite film actresses of the early to mid '90s, and watching that scene made me feel like it was 1993 all over again.

That was the year they both appeared in Short Cuts. I remember loving the Robert Altman-directed ensemble film when I saw it in the theater in 1993, but I can't recall if they actually shared any scenes together. I doubt it. Watching their acting tango on Revenge, though, I had the strangest deja vu feeling. Weren't they cast as warring sisters in some other '90s movie I used to love but have long ago forgotten?

Maybe not, but I wouldn't mind the dropping of a few unnecessary Revenge story threads -- chief among them being the financial woes of those adorable-but-oh-so-boring Porter brothers -- in favor of more staring matches between two of the baddest movie divas of two decades ago.

More memories of the '90s came roaring back at the end of the episode, thanks to the song playing on the soundtrack during the final moments: "Paradise Circus," from Massive Attack's 2010 album Heligoland. The track's featured vocalist -- Hope Sandoval -- puts it right up there with the best of the duo's work with world-class singers, namely Massive Attack's collaborations with Tracey Thorn on 1994's Protection and Shara Nelson on '91's Blue Lines. Ah, those '90s!

Massive Attack "Paradise Circus"

Remember Hope Sandoval? If you do, it's probably from "Fade Into You," the near-hit single (No. 44 on the Hot 100) from Mazzy Star's platinum 1993 album So Tonight That I Might See. I haven't heard a peep out of Sandoval's old band since Mazzy Star's less-successful 1996 follow-up Among My Swan (Read my People review of it here), whose title always annoyed me because it was so frustratingly ungrammatical, but she hasn't dropped off the face of this bitter earth.

Mazzy Star "Fade Into You"

In fact, it's Sandoval's post-Mazzy Star work -- as well as her extracurricular appearance on the Jesus and Mary Chain's 1993 "Sometimes Always" single -- for which I most fondly remember her. As much as I loved JAMC back in the day, when I saw them live at the Academy in NYC in '93, and Sandoval joined the brothers Reid onstage to perform the duet, I don't think I once looked at either Jim or William, who was dating Sandoval at the time. It was all about Hope.

The Jesus and Mary Chain "Sometimes Always"

She'd unexpectedly catch my ear again in 2001 with Bavarian Fruit Bread, the debut album by her second band, Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions. I first heard it during a trip to London while I was browsing through an indie record store (Remember those?) near Covent Garden, and for months afterwards, it was in heavy rotation on my DVD player. Thanks to Revenge, a show that's proving to be better than any other when it comes to closing arguments to tune in next episode, my faith in Hope has been renewed. She's going to sound great on my iPod tomorrow.

Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions "On the Low"

Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions "Suzanne"

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