Monday, September 29, 2008

st. louis rams fire scott linehan

Well, that wasn't unexpected. Last year's terrible season and an 0-4 start this year doomed him. I wonder if they'll bring back that stupid "I Believe" slogan any time soon.

Friday, September 26, 2008

de la soul: a roller skating jam named saturdays

After a week of bad financial news, I need something light. So here's this great De La Soul track off of 1991's De La Soul Is Dead, which still might be my favorite album of theirs. Remember when we thought they were going to change the face of hip-hop? It didn't happen, but it was still a thrill to interview the band a decade later. (Fun trivia fact: It was the same night that the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees to win the World Series.)

the best rock band cameos on the simpsons

The Simpsons has been on the air for 20 years now. To celebrate, I list my 11 favorite rock band appearances on the show. (Hint: I decided not to include Aerosmith.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

freebird

Freebird is a British biker comedy that's surprisingly charming and funny. I say nice things about it at L.A. Weekly.

hank and mike

Did you think Bad Santa was hilarious? Did you wish someone would do a version of it with swearing, drinking Easter bunnies? Your wish is granted: Hank and Mike comes to the Nuart this weekend.

P.S. What's wrong with you people?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

loudon wainwright III: recovery

Loudon Wainwright III looks back on his career on Recovery, a collection of remakes of his '70s material. In its modest, imperfect way, the album pieces together scraps of memories to find the emotional truths that have remained over a 30-plus-years career.

fringe: the ghost network

After kicking off with two so-so episodes, Fringe finally started to come to life last night -- and not a moment too soon. My recap is at Vulture.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

nights in rodanthe

Nights in Rodanthe will appeal to the tearjerking base, while alienating moderates and men. If you want an excuse to sniffle in a movie theater, it's the film for you. My review is up at The Village Voice.

plain white t's: big bad world

The “Hey There Delilah” pop-rockers return with Big Bad World. My review of the latest from the Plain White T's is up at Blender.

the replacements: remastered and reconsidered

The Replacements' Warner Bros. albums are being reissued today. History remembers those records as the era when Paul Westerberg imploded. I disagree.

Monday, September 22, 2008

kanye west goes into a love lockdown

I liked the original version of Kanye West's "Love Lockdown," and I like the new version, too. I write about it in Consumables, as well as review the Broken West's great new album, The Duchess, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, and Jellyfish.

Friday, September 19, 2008

sonic youth: 100%

"100%," from my favorite Sonic Youth album, Dirty. Good lord, does this video capture the alternative-rock scene of the 1990s or what?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

broken west: idolator and i agree

Big Gray over at Idolator loves the new album from the Broken West, Now or Heaven:
If there is any justice in the world, The Broken West will take off in the way Spoon did. Their first record was a nice slice of Teenage Fanclub-lite, and that's never a bad thing. But the band's new album, Now Or Heaven, really pushes the band out of the powerpop formula. While the album is sharply produced, it has the right kind of slickness: it sounds like it came from California in all the right ways.
I agree -- although I liked their first record, I Can't Go On, I'll Go On. I'll have more to say about Now or Heaven in my Consumables column on Monday.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

fringe: the same old story

"The Same Old Story" was the name of last night's episode of Fringe -- it also could have been called "The One Where the Team Makes Like MacGyver." My recap is up at Vulture.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Igor

Igor is a cute but forgettable animated movie for kids about a hunchback (voiced by John Cusack) who wants to show the world he's more than just a stupid henchman. It's no Nightmare Before Christmas. My review is at Screen International.

metallica: death magnetic

Metallica's new album, Death Magnetic, will remind older fans of some of the band's earliest records. For my money, it comes closest to resembling ...And Justice for All -- long songs, epic reach, etc. My review is up at About.

buckcherry: black butterfly

The L.A. bad boys of hard rock return with Black Butterfly. Is it just me, or are they mellowing?

Friday, September 12, 2008

matt damon on sarah palin

Right, it's a celebrity mouthing off about politics and voicing an opinion I share. But unlike some of the more snide snipes at Sarah Palin, he's extremely even-tempered and civil about his objections to her. Some people won't listen simply because it's Matt Damon. But his point about access to nuclear weapons is a fair one.

rappers turned actors: the list

Over at VH1.com, I assess the track record of 15 rappers who caught the acting bug. It's a mixed bag of blinding success stories and what-were-they-thinking cautionary tales.

righteous kill

How many people still get excited about a movie starring Robert De Niro or Al Pacino? The faded icons are both in Righteous Kill, and the good news is that it isn't awful. (Yes, that's what it's come to.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

could oliver stone give the election to mccain?

The great STV over at Defamer has made some predictions about the forthcoming fall movie season. This one seems the most likely...
W. (10/17) will tip the election to the GOP. Opening less than three weeks before Election Day, the film will be too muddled to move the Democrats yet irreverent enough to galvanize the Republican base against Hollywood one more time before voting. Oliver Stone will be recognized as the new Ralph Nader.
I also worry about Religulous in that regard. I'm curious how that movie will play for people post-Palin. When I saw it a few weeks ago, the religious right seemed to be lukewarm about the McCain campaign and therefore less of a potential factor in November. That's not the case anymore, and it'll be interesting to see how much Palin gets referenced in reviews nearer the film's release date. Backlash to Palin-mania will no doubt drive Obama supporters to see Religulous as a show of solidarity for their guy, but it'll no doubt also get conservatives huffing and puffing.

young people f***ing

This sex comedy would be more accurately called Attractive White People Nattering On. My review is at L.A. Weekly.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

fringe

Fringe premiered last night. What did I think of it? You can find all the answers over at Vulture.

no way, no how, no mccain

Andrew Sullivan encapsulates why I support Obama over McCain:
When he knew that George W. Bush's war in Iraq was a fiasco and catastrophe, and before Donald Rumsfeld quit, McCain endorsed George W. Bush against his fellow Vietnam vet, John Kerry, in 2004. By that decision, McCain lost any credibility that he can ever put country first. He put party first and his own career first ahead of what he knew was best for the country.
and in regards to his selection of Palin and those "Obama is a celebrity" ads...
McCain has demonstrated in the last two months that he does not have the character to be president of the United States. And that is why it is more important than ever to ensure that Barack Obama is the next president. The alternative is now unthinkable. And McCain - no one else - has proved it.
The entire piece is here.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

no end in sight: now on youtube

If you never caught No End in Sight, now it's gotten that much easier: The film is available in its entirety on YouTube. I say a few words in its honor over at Vulture.

Monday, September 08, 2008

trouble the water

Trouble the Water leads my biweekly Consumables column, but its equal is the also-wonderful Shotgun Stories, which I finally caught up with on DVD. Also in Consumables, reviews of Elegy, Momma's Man, A Girl Cut in Two, Flow and Matthew Sweet's Sunshine Lies.

towelhead

Towelhead, the button-pushing coming-of-age comedy-drama written and directed by Alan Ball, is neither as awful as its harshest critics claim nor as brave a satire as its champions suggest. Mostly, I just found it really immature.

Friday, September 05, 2008

bangkok dangerous

Nicolas Cage bonds with an elephant. And that's one of the highlights of Bangkok Dangerous.

matthew sweet: i've been waiting

Matthew Sweet has been on my mind lately as I listen to his new album, Sunshine Lies, which I'll be reviewing in Monday's Consumables. So I decided to find an old favorite off of 1991's Girlfriend. "I've Been Waiting" is the sort of muscular power-pop he is exceptionally good at -- straightforward, instantly hummable, etc. He also captures emotions well: "I've Been Waiting" is what the glow of new love sounds like. (And I always loved that line "You can wear my clothes.")

And in case you're wondering, Sweet's a big fan of Japanese animation, hence the video's look.



Monday, September 01, 2008

ed guthman, 89

I went to USC for the film school, but once I got there, I became interested in the university's highly regarded journalism program as well. As luck would have it, the school started offering a minor program in my sophomore year, and I enrolled immediately. Ed Guthman, who died Sunday at the age of 89, was my first journalism teacher.

I couldn't have asked for a better introduction into that world: He was a smart man who believed in ethics above all else. He would have quizzes about current events at the beginning of every class, which got me into the habit of reading the newspaper on a daily basis -- a habit that stayed with me. I was in his class when the O.J. verdict was read. He was an advisor to Coppola on The Godfather II in that film's sequence at the U.S. Senate, which he happily told me all about once I found out that fact. And he made a comment about a piece I wrote in that introductory class on newswriting that I have never forgotten: I referred to someone in their 50s or 60s as "old" and he politely pointed out that such labels were dangerously arbitrary, since he himself was already well into his 70s by that point.

The man taught me to be thorough and respectful in my journalism. He also introduced me to Norman Corwin, another professor at USC's journalism school, who changed my life forever. I thank him for all that.

In the AP's obituary, a USC student was quoted: "He exemplifies the ultimate journalist. I'm successful because of what (he) taught me." That's exactly right.