Thursday, July 31, 2008

the mummy: tomb of the dragon emperor review

The buzz has been very bad for the new Mummy movie with Brendan Fraser and (in the Rachel Weisz role) Maria Bello. Well, I saw it, and Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is a pretty joyless affair. Who wants a no-fun mummy movie?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

photo op

In case anyone out there wonders what I look like, here's a picture of me from my page.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

the bronx speaks, and i marvel at slipknot

In the new issue of Kerrang, I interview Joby Ford of the critically acclaimed punk band the Bronx. If that's not enough for you, I also covered the Rockstar Mayhem tour, which gave me new appreciation for Slipknot.

Monday, July 28, 2008

the dark knight: my take

Most concede that The Dark Knight is quite good, but just how good is it? I weigh in over at my Consumables column. And if you're sick of all the Batman talk, I also review Baghead, Boarding Gate, Frozen River and Man on Wire.

Friday, July 25, 2008

john prine and iris dement: in spite of ourselves

"In Spite of Ourselves" is the title track from John Prine's 1999 comeback album, a collection of country covers. This song (a duet with Iris DeMent) was the only one he wrote, and as he explains in this clip from Sessions at West 54th, he did it for a Billy Bob Thornton movie. Prine is the example of a great country songwriter who writes with sentiment without being overly sentimental. (OK, he can be overly sentimental sometimes, too, but he's earned it.)

Special note for my wife and I to ponder: I'll sometimes say to her "you're my baby, don't mean maybe" -- did I get that from a line in "In Spite of Ourselves"?

step brothers review

Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay have been on a hot streak since Anchorman and Talladega Nights, but with their latest, Step Brothers, it appears they've gone to the same comedy well once too often. My review is at Screen International.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

ebert looks back on his life in the balcony

As you've probably heard, Ebert and Roeper is no more. For me, after Gene Siskel died, there was simply no way to carry on -- there was no way to replace him -- but Ebert has tried gallantly in the years since. With he and Richard Roeper officially walking away from the program, Ebert writes about the show's long history (33 years) and his memories of Siskel. Among many striking moments was this recollection of discovering that he and Siskel were famous because of their show ...
The day we fully realized it in our guts, I think, was the first time we were invited to appear with Johnny Carson. We were scared out of our minds. We'd been briefed on likely questions by one of the show's writers, but moments before airtime he popped his head into the dressing room and said, "Johnny may ask you for some of your favorite movies this year."

Gene and I stared at each other in horror. "What was one of your favorite movies this year?" he asked me. "Gone With the Wind," I said. The Doc Severinson orchestra had started playing the famous "Tonight Show" theme. Neither one of us could think of a single movie. Gene called our office in Chicago. "Tell me some movies we liked this year," he said. This is a true story.

You can read the entire piece on Roger Ebert's blog.

electoral college: the time-wasting game

If you haven't seen this on, you really need to: It's a computer simulation that plays out all the different electoral scenarios for this fall's presidential election based on different polls. I went from zero to obsessed in about 0.3 seconds.

Oh, and Obama fans? I've run the simulation enough times to see several outcomes where McCain wins, so don't start celebrating yet.

'Asian Stories (Book 3)' Review

Asian Stories (Book 3) is getting a brief L.A. theatrical run, presumably thanks to the fact that its star, James Kyson Lee, plays Ando on Heroes. If anybody is wondering whether to see this comedy-drama or just go to Comic-Com this weekend, well, maybe my review will help make up your mind for you.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

buckcherry and norma jean speak to me, separately

I have two features in the new issue of Revolver. I interviewed Buckcherry about their forthcoming album, Black Butterfly, and I profiled the Christian metal band Norma Jean who will be putting out The Anti Mother imminently. The articles aren't available online, but the magazine should be on shelves as we speak.

UPDATE (Nov. 10, 2008): The Norma Jean interview is now available on Revolver's website.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

david bowie: live in santa monica 36 years ago

Live Santa Monica '72 is the finally officially released live album from David Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust period. I have a brief write-up at Vulture. For a longer appreciation, proceed to Blender to read Rob Sheffield's assessment.

Monday, July 21, 2008

brideshead revisited

The new adaptation of Brideshead Revisited starring Emma Thompson and Matthew Goode looks great and has several good performances, but its unrequited love story could use a little more heat.

Friday, July 18, 2008

the band: it makes no difference

It's Friday, it's been a long week, let's enjoy a little of "It Makes No Difference" from The Last Waltz. Deal?

Ebert Remembers 'La Dolca Vita'

Roger Ebert writes very well about a few classic movies -- not only that, he keeps revisiting them over time, and writing more about them as the situation dictates. La Dolce Vita is one of those films. It helps that I love the movie, too, but, it's clear Ebert responds to Fellini's film on a profound personal level:
Although it is great, I have seen greater films than "La Dolce Vita." But it is the film of my life. By its eternity I measure my time.
The whole piece is here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

beck: modern guilt

My review of Beck's Modern Guilt is up at Metro Times. What can I say? On the whole, I've really liked his recent stuff, and the new album is no different.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

hancock is underrated, wanted is terribly, terribly overrated

So says I in my latest Consumables column for The Simon. Also included are reviews of Garden Party, R.E.M.'s Accelerate and Erykah Badu's magnificent New Amerykah.

Friday, July 11, 2008

meet dave: a surprisingly not-bad eddie murphy film

Meet Dave is a perfectly respectable kids' movie, and Eddie Murphy is genuinely funny for the first time in a long while. But don't rush out and see it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

contempt: i remain unmoved

There are few cinematic classics that leave me so divided as Godard's Contempt. It's one of those films where I enjoy its lovely-worded reviews much more than I enjoy the film itself. The last time I sat down with Contempt on DVD, I watched it and then re-watched it with the commentary track, which added many great insights but didn't greatly change my muted feelings about Godard's overly intellectual deconstruction of "Hollywood" and "love" that wasn't nearly as emotionally devastating as its admirers claim.

Well, the film is returning to Los Angeles on Friday, where it will play at the Nuart, which is where I saw it the last time it was re-released back in 1997. I'm pretty sure I don't need to see it again, but Ella Taylor's terrific piece in the L.A. Weekly makes me wonder all over again.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

the stone angel

The Stone Angel, a tearjerker adaptation of the Margaret Laurence novel, would have benefited from a harder-edged approach, but nonetheless it's an affecting drama starring Ellen Burstyn and a pre-Juno Ellen Page. My review appears at The Village Voice.

my new gig at

In early June, I was selected to be the Rock Music guide at Organizing a site from scratch, under the direction of the great people at, has been a major undertaking, but now that I feel a little more comfortable in the role, I'm very much enjoying it.

At, I'll be doing reviews, profiles, interviews, and a blog that covers everything that falls under the category of Rock Music -- we're talking Foo Fighters, Soundgarden, Daughtry, etc. It'll be updated just about every day with new content, so come by often to see the latest and greatest.

And because it's run by me, there will be lots of Top 10 lists as well.

pixar's short films

They're available online now -- even the new one, Presto, which plays in front of Wall-E. Let the productive time-wasting begin.

Monday, July 07, 2008

kenneth turan on criticism

Kenneth Turan, film critic of the Los Angeles Times, writes today about the nature of being "right" in one's opinions. It's a brief, but thoughtful piece. There are several good bits worthy to frame above your computer, but here's my favorite:
If you come out of a film and aren't sure what your opinion is, it likely means you do know but are not comfortable with your thoughts.
You don't have to be a spineless jellyfish to worry on occasion if you've missed the point of a movie other people either love or hate much more than you do. For me, this creeps up if I'm inordinately tired or unhappy/distracted when I get to the screening. Turan's advice couldn't be simpler or more helpful: Relax, and just trust yourself.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008