Friday, August 18, 2017

Arcade Fire - "Creature Comfort"

Apparently, I'm not supposed to like Everything Now, the new Arcade Fire album. This is now the second straight disc from them that's been dismissed out of hand almost as soon as it hit iTunes/Amazon.

I confess that I don't quite understand the sudden animosity that now greets this band's every action. I mean, on some level, I do: They are scorned by their detractors as being beyond the pale because of their ambitious, self-serious material. The cultural backlash seemed to occur after The Suburbs, which won them the Album of the Year Grammy, when Win Butler and the group decided to embrace a more dance-heavy sound. Since then, I've noticed that, especially on Film Twitter, it's very fashionable to slag these guys for being too big for their britches. You'd think they were U2 or something.

I wrote about their last album, Reflektor, for Playboy, defending the band's pretensions and arguing why I actually found them endearing, if also more than a bit cumbersome. Everything Now is not dissimilar: It overreaches, it's way too proud of its thematic depth, its songs aren't as great as on past records but, all in all, I enjoy the challenges Arcade Fire give themselves and their audience. In other words, sorry, I don't hate Everything Now.

That said, I don't quite love it, either. My feelings can be summed up by my reaction to "Creature Comfort," which is a ripping synth-pop track that's about ... uh, celebrity and spiritual isolation and maybe suicide and probably the pain of modern life. I'm not totally down with the lyrics, but the emotional struggle at the song's core is pretty compelling, and that's why I still value this band. They wrestle with big ideas, and even when they do so in an ungainly fashion, the friction that comes from it can be rather arresting. I fail to see why this makes them an embarrassment.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

What's Steven Soderbergh's Best Movie?

Vulture asked Will and me to rank Steven Soderbergh's movies on the occasion of Logan Lucky hitting theaters this Friday. We were only too happy to oblige. He's been a fabulous filmmaker for decades, but he's not someone who has a clear-cut best movie. So we put our heads together and came up with this.

'The Hitman's Bodyguard' Review

You can tell it's mid-August because we're still getting action movies, except they're not very good. The Hitman's Bodyguard isn't terrible -- it's just boring. Still, the film kinda crushed my spirits, which I talk a bit about in my Paste review.

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: 'The Glass Castle,' 'Ingrid Goes West' and 'Persona'

If you'd like to hear me do more raving about Good Time, you're in luck: I do my fair share on this week's podcast. But I was also happy to have the chance to talk about The Glass Castle and Ingrid Goes West, in which two very good actresses are trapped in pretty mediocre movies. For our Reboot segment, we took on Persona, which opened in the U.S. 50 years ago. I haven't seen it since college ... it still rules. Check out the whole show here.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

'South Park' and Kanye West

South Park returns for its 20th season on September 14. Over at Rolling Stone, I helped out on a list of the show's greatest moments. I called dibs on the Kanye West episode, obvs. You can check it out here.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Siouxsie and the Banshees - "Dear Prudence"

Tomorrow is my wonderful wife's birthday. So many songs make me think of her ... even in roundabout ways. For instance, whenever I play the Beatles' "Dear Prudence," she mentions that she grew up being more familiar with the Siouxsie and the Banshees version. So, this goes out to her.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

'Lucky' Review

Lucky has gotten good reviews out of South by Southwest and Locarno, with most critics raving about Harry Dean Stanton's performance as a 90-year-old man pondering existence and mortality. I like him in the film, but I'm less enamored with the film itself. Lucky opens September 29; today over at Screen International, I share my thoughts.

My Interview With Robert Pattinson and the Safdies for 'Good Time'

I've been raving about Good Time since Cannes, and this Friday the film hits select cities. Over at Rolling Stone, I talked to its star and its directors. Robert Pattinson is still best known for Twilight, but that might soon be changing. Josh and Benny Safdie previously made superb, intense dramas like Heaven Knows What. We discussed how this project came together, and what the film did for each of them. Hope you enjoy.

(P.S. I bang the drum for the movie over at Paste as well.)

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: 'The Dark Tower,' 'Columbus' and 'Anything Else'

We fit five movies into this week's episode. Will and I talk a bit about The Dark Tower, while I riff on Kidnap and Columbus. Then, in our Reboot section, we own up to the fact that we don't think Superbad is as fantastic as a lot of folks do. But much of the podcast is given over to Woody Allen's Anything Else. Back in 2003, we were both big defenders of the film. Has it held up? Listen below.

Monday, August 07, 2017

My Interview With 'Icarus' Director Bryan Fogel

Bryan Fogel is best known as the guy who co-wrote and starred in Jewtopia. But a few years ago, he decided he needed to reinvent himself. So, he hatched an idea to test anabolic steroids on himself, Super Size Me-style, and see how they affected him. But during his research, he met a Russian doctor who, it turns out, was deeply involved in that country's Olympic doping scandal. The resulting documentary, Icarus, details what happened. For MEL, I talked to Fogel about PEDs, Russian hacking, the notion of "clean" sports, and whether he feared for his life once he stumbled upon the country's doping operation. Hope you enjoy.