Friday, December 06, 2013
I first saw Inside Llewyn Davis at Cannes more than six months ago. I loved it then, but it's grown in my estimation ever since. Today, it hits select cities. For Deadspin, I talk about the film and the fact that it's part of my favorite subsection of Coen brothers films, which includes Barton Fink, The Man Who Wasn't There and A Serious Man. Here's my essay, which I hope you enjoy.
Southeastern will definitely be making my Pazz & Jop ballot. It's Jason Isbell's most consistent post-Drive-By Truckers album, but it took me a while to get into it. These songs initially felt a little too blandly "confessional" for my taste, but a few spins in the car and a little concentration made me realize how touching and pointed so many of these stripped-down tracks were. Take "Elephant," which is purely fictional, as far as I know, but has such rich, precise detail that it seems based on fact. Regardless, it rips your guts out.
Thursday, December 05, 2013
How do you solve a problem like Robert De Niro? For two decades, he was easily one of our finest actors. But since then? Much harder to be so effusive in one's praise. I tackle both halves of his career in my latest installment of "The Greats" for Paste.
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Britney Jean is the first studio album Britney Spears has released in her 30s. (She turned 32 on Monday.) For Playboy, I dissected the record and tried to understand why her sexy music feels so incredibly unsexy. My review is here.
As you may have seen, American Hustle was awarded Best Picture by the New York Film Critics Circle. (My group, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, votes on Sunday.) I was a bit surprised at the announcement. It's not that I don't like American Hustle -- I think it's quite entertaining -- but it's also a bit flawed. Still, I cannot deny how much I enjoyed watching this comedy-drama hum along. My review is up at Screen International.
Sometimes you learn something about yourself from the movies you see. For instance, I discovered from Out of the Furnace that I always want to spell "furnace" as "furnance." It's actually quite maddening: I instinctively type that second "n" and later realize it doesn't belong.
As for the movie itself, it's a solid, unremarkable follow-up from Scott Cooper, the director of Crazy Heart. Christian Bale leads a fine cast, and yet I confess that I'm not sure why Relativity decided to release Out of the Furnace in the heat of awards season. This movie is simply too modest and minor to stand out. I can't help but wonder if it might have enjoyed higher visibility elsewhere on the film calendar.
My Out of the Furnace review, which isn't concerned with release schedules or my spelling problems, is up at Deadspin.
Monday, December 02, 2013
For Backstage, new Executive Editor Mark Peikert and I wrote about the strongest ensemble films of the year. How is that different than the year's best films? Well, I suppose you could say that this list focuses more on movies that boast a collection of quality performances. (These aren't star vehicles by any stretch of the imagination.) Mark handled Part 1 of our rundown; I took the reins on Part 2.
Saturday, November 30, 2013
That's the question I tried to answer in a podcast interview I did with Mousterpiece Cinema, which is hosted by the quite fun Josh Spiegel and Gabe Bucsko. I was on to discuss Vince Vaughn's latest, Delivery Man, but we soon moved on from the movie to grapple with Vaughn's career crossroads. I had a fine time chatting with them. You can hear it here.
Friday, November 29, 2013
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
In case you hadn't heard, I wrote a book about Wilco. Published through Omnibus Press, Wilco: Sunken Treasure is a critical biography that traces the band's history and examines their complete catalog. (It's available through Amazon.) Paste is running an excerpt from the book that focuses on the final days of former Wilco member Jay Bennett. For most Wilco fans, Bennett's story ends when he was booted from the group. I dug a little deeper for my biography. Hope you enjoy this excerpt.