Saturday, April 25, 2015

'Press Play with Madeleine Brand': On Kurt Cobain and Adam Sandler

On yesterday's Press Play, James Rocchi and I discussed The Age of Adaline, Adult Beginners and Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck. But we also took some time to talk about the latest controversies concerning Adam Sandler and Robert Downey Jr. It's a fun 15 minutes, and you can hear it all here.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Alabama Shakes - "Don't Wanna Fight"

Here's how I concluded my review of Alabama Shakes' debut album, Boys & Girls: "Alabama Shakes demonstrate they have the chops, but hopefully next time out they won’t worry so much about authenticity and instead focus on consistently stunning songs." I haven't listened to Sound & Color yet, but I love how the lead single, "Don't Wanna Fight," is all snarling, funky grime. Where plenty of songs off Boys & Girls settled for "They don't make blues-rock like this anymore!" niceties, "Don't Wanna Fight" has a natural, impressive, ferocious groove. In other words, I dig it. I bet you do, too.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

'Adult Beginners' Review

Adult Beginners is the type of film I, uncharitably, refer to as "a Sundance movie." A comedy-drama that focuses on the mild dilemmas of white people in their 30s, the movie (which actually didn't debut at Sundance) stars Nick Kroll, Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale. It's very likeable. But, sometimes, likeable just ain't enough. I reviewed the film for Paste.

'Avengers: Age of Ultron' Review

In the two weeks since I've seen Avengers: Age of Ultron, I've spoken to no one about the film, so I have no idea what folks think of this supersized sequel to the 2012 mega-hit. (I'll look at other people's reviews after posting this.) For my part, I think Ultron lacks the novelty and charm of the first installment. But it's sufficiently, if unevenly, entertaining. And who would have guessed that Hawkeye would turn out to be the Jerry Gergich of the franchise? My review is up at Screen International.

What's the Greatest Kanye West Song Ever?

With So Help Me God supposedly coming to us sooner rather than later, I decided to dive into a massive project: ranking every single Kanye West song. My god, what fun -- also, good heavens, was it hard. But, seriously, fun. My complete list is over at Playboy.

'The Age of Adaline' Review

I suppose that The Age of Adaline was better than I was expecting. And yet, it's still disappointing, taking a promising premise -- what would it be like to be forever young? -- and bungling it. Here's the weird thing, though: It contains one of Harrison Ford's strongest performances in a good long while. Is that enough to recommend this Blake Lively vehicle? Uh, no. I reviewed Adaline for Screen International.

Juliette Binoche Speaks

Back in October when I was at the Beirut Film Festival, Juliette Binoche gave a talk to students and aspiring filmmakers in which she looked back at her career. With her new film, Clouds of Sils Maria, now out, I present a few highlights of her chat over at Backstage.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Drive-By Truckers - "Ronnie and Neil"

Today, I fly to Athens, Georgia, to see my old buddy Will Leitch. So this song has been selected for two reasons. One, Drive-By Truckers (America's best rock band) are based in Athens. Second, I want to remind everyone that I've been raving about this band for years and years. Will, I am never going to let you forget that you once preferred Kings of Leon to these guys.

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Report From the 2015 MTV Movie Awards

The MTV Movie Awards began in 1992, with Terminator 2 winning Best Movie and Keanu Reeves winning Most Desirable Male for Point Break. For the first time, I attended the ceremony, which was held last night at the Nokia here in downtown Los Angeles. For Rolling Stone, I filed a report about all the things that happen inside the room that you don't get to see on TV. I had a fun time, and I hope you enjoy this wrap-up.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Banks - "Begging for Thread"

With Late Show With David Letterman ending next month, I've made a point of watching the show on a pretty regular basis in recent weeks. I've been glad I did; I didn't need to be reminded how much I love the man, but it's been a treat to be reintroduced to Letterman's day-in-and-day-out genius.

Last Friday, Banks was on Late Show to perform "Begging for Thread." It's a great song enhanced by the simple but evocative production design. And I probably would have missed it if Letterman's retirement wasn't just on the horizon.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

A Night to Celebrate Allen Ginsberg and 'Howl'

In the fall of 1955, poet Allen Ginsberg unveiled his epic masterwork "Howl." That poem, and the man behind it, were the focus of last night's star-studded 60th anniversary celebration in downtown Los Angeles at the Theatre at Ace Hotel. (Yup, the same place as last week's "The Music of David Lynch" show.) For Rolling Stone, I reviewed "A Celebration," which featured everyone from Courtney Love to Tim Robbins to Will Forte to Nick Cave. Hope you enjoy.

Summer 2015: Previewing the Upcoming Movie Season

This was a lot of fun. For Deadspin, Will and I dove into the summer release schedule, which we decided started this week and goes all the way through Labor Day, and previewed each weekend. That's a lot of movies, folks. Dig in.

'Desert Dancer' Review

Some movies mean well, taking on important topics and worthy causes, but that doesn't mean they should automatically get a pass. Such is the case with Desert Dancer, which is a fact-based drama about Afshin Ghaffarian, a young man living in Iran who, in 2009, helped form an underground dance troupe in Tehran, even though the repressive government forbids dancing. It's a movie about the power of art to confront tyranny -- which, hey, I'm totally behind -- but, good heavens, this movie is so bloody earnest. I reviewed Desert Dancer, starring Freida Pinto and Reece Ritchie, for Screen International.