Tuesday, September 29, 2009

my new job title

Now that it's on the website for all to see, I can formally acknowledge that, yes, I'm the new vice president of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. It's a real honor for me. The membership of LAFCA are a passionate, terrific bunch, and I just hope I do them proud.

The other three officers I'll be working with are people I like and respect a lot, and I'm looking forward to being part of the gang. (They've all been officers before, which makes me the New Guy, I suppose.) The business of film criticism is in dire straits these days, but I have to say I always feel better about things when I'm at LAFCA meetings. Being around such opinionated men and women, one can't help but think that this profession won't go down without a fight.

Monday, September 28, 2009

dollhouse: vows

Along with Fringe, I'll also be doing recaps of Dollhouse this season for the fine folks at Vulture. My first Dollhouse breakdown is up now.

Friday, September 25, 2009

fringe: night of desirable objects

Yup, I'm back doing Overnights of Fringe for Vulture. Last night's episode was a stand-alone one that was pretty entertaining. You can read my full rundown here.

al green - call me (come back home)

Sure, nothing beats the studio version, but hearing That Voice coming out of that body is a pretty amazing sight.

Also, Fun Fact: annoying concertgoers who don't shut up during performances existed in the 1970s, too. No doubt if I was at this show, I'd be sitting right next to this idiot.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

moby - wait for me

As Moby tours the U.S., I take a moment to reflect on his fine new album, Wait for Me. Can it really be 10 years since he released Play?

Friday, September 18, 2009

ranking the best and worst of the toronto film festival

Now that the Toronto Film Festival is over, it's a time for quiet reflection -- and list-making. From worst to best, here are the films I saw (including ones I screened prior to the festival):

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
Leaves of Grass



Jennifer's Body

Youth in Revolt

Solomon Kane

Ong Bak 2

The Dirty Saints


Leaving (Partir)

Whip It

The Disappearance of Alice Creed

An Education

The Loved Ones

Fish Tank

The Invention of Lying

Farewell (L'Affaire Farewell)

The White Ribbon

Mother and Child


Up in the Air


The Damned United

The White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights

I Am Love

What does this list suggest? That I still have a lot of films to catch up on. It never ends.

white stripes - dead leaves and the dirty ground

Heading home today from Toronto. My happiest discovery here was the excellent White Stripes concert documentary Under Great White Northern Lights. I hope it gets a theatrical release. (Note to self: finally get around to seeing It Might Get Loud, will ya?) Anyway, I've been a little Jack White obsessed since seeing the movie the other day. So here's this ....

Thursday, September 17, 2009

'the disappearance of alice creed' review

The Disappearance of Alice Creed isn't up to the level of Shallow Grave, but its who's-zooming-who thriller plot is comparably fun. And Eddie Marsan rules. My review is up at Screen International.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

'youth in revolt' review

I'm not as high on Michael Cera's latest film, Youth in Revolt, as others are. While watching it, all I could think was, Haven't I seen all this before? My review is up at Screen International.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

'mother and child' review

Four years ago, I interviewed writer-director Rodrigo Garcia about his film, Nine Lives. He's back at the Toronto Film Festival with Mother and Child, starring Naomi Watts and Annette Bening. I think it's his best film yet. My review is over at Screen International.

Monday, September 14, 2009

'whip it' review

Caught Whip It last night during the festival. Drew Barrymore's directorial debut is a very likable film with likable performances and a likable spirit. Will that be enough for audiences? I think so. My review is up at Screen International.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

'triage' review

Triage is a war film that's so glum it barely registers. That's a shame since it comes from Danis Tanovic, the director of the Oscar-winning No Man's Land. I break down Triage's flaws at Screen International.

'solomon kane' review

If you like sword-and-sorcerer films, may I suggest Solomon Kane. The Kane character was created by the same man who gave us Conan the Barbarian. Yeah, you know what I'm talkin' about. My review is up at Screen International.

'daybreakers' review

I thought the Spierig brothers' first film, the zombie-horror flick Undead, was pretty mediocre. They step up their game significantly with Daybreakers. I saw it in Toronto, and here's my review.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

'ong bak 2' review

The first Ong Bak was absolutely tremendous -- one of the great martial-arts films of the last 10 years. How's the sequel? My review of Ong Bak 2: The Beginning is up at Screen International.

'up in the air' review

I've never been wild about director Jason Reitman's films in the past. That changed with Up in the Air, which I think is easily the best thing he's done. It's not perfect, but it's charming and thoughtful. My review is up at Screen International.

Friday, September 11, 2009

the beatles - you've got to hide your love away

Thanks to, of all people, Chris Cornell for bringing this video to my attention.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

jennifer's body review

Greetings from the Toronto Film Festival. Here's my review of Jennifer's Body, which is premiering at the festival before it haunts regular theaters in a couple weeks. (Yes, I just made a pun. Har har.)

Monday, September 07, 2009

'gimme shelter' at the cinefamily

If you haven't seen Gimme Shelter in a theater, you owe it to yourself -- forget best music documentary of all time, it's just a fantastic film. And lucky you if you live in Los Angeles -- it'll be playing at the Cinefamily on September 17. I sing the film's praises at L.A. Weekly.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

'Smother' on DVD; or, Who Called It "Hilarious"?

Killing some time at CineFile the other evening, I came upon the DVD of Smother, the not-so-funny Diane Keaton movie I panned last year for The Village Voice. Imagine my surprise, then, when I noticed the blurb "Hilarious" on the DVD's cover attributed to the Voice. "Wait a second," I thought. "I remember thinking that Keaton was kinda funny in it, but did I ever use the word hilarious?"

I went home and looked up my review. Here's the opening of the piece:
Noah (Dax Shepard) has just gotten fired, faces pressure from his wife (Liv Tyler) to have a baby, and must contend with her socially inept cousin (Mike White), who wants to stay with them for a few days while he finishes his screenplay. That’s when Marilyn (Diane Keaton), Noah’s high-maintenance mother, announces that she’s moving in, turning Noah’s bad day into a presumably hilarious and awful one.
Yeah, that's what I thought. For future reference, it's important to read all the words in a sentence before determining if something's being used in a positive way or not.

Friday, September 04, 2009

rob base and dj e-z rock - it takes two

As immortalized by that romantic-comedy classic, The Proposal ....

Thursday, September 03, 2009

scott foundas on lacma's film series -- and on los angeles moviegoers

My editor and friend Scott Foundas gets it all correct in his terrific piece about LACMA's decision to end its 40-year film series, but this section is particularly important because it correctly puts part of the blame on us, the audience:

Los Angeles moviegoers, it must be said, have their work cut out for them too. When friends and colleagues have written and called over the past few weeks expressing their dismay about the LACMA situation, a typical refrain has been: “How could something like this happen in L.A., of all places?” You know, Tinseltown. The nerve center of the entire worldwide film industry. To which my response has been: “How could it not?” What I mean is that while L.A. certainly doesn’t lack for a community of passionate, informed, dedicated film buffs who value the programming at LACMA and the city’s other specialized film venues, even the best of us have a tendency to take this cornucopia of cinematic offerings for granted in a way that audiences in other major cities don’t. It’s almost as if, this being the company town, we feel we have free license to embrace movies when we want to and ignore them whenever it’s convenient, certain that they will always be there. Oh, another world-famous auteur is doing a Q&A at the Egyptian tonight? Yawn, I’ll catch the next one.

Part of the reason Los Angeles seemed so appealing in my youth was its access to the best of everything -- movies, music, what have you. It's why I still love living here. But Scott's right -- to use a personal example, how many times have I missed a screening of Playtime figuring, "Eh, it'll come back again soon enough"? But that's the thing -- there is no guarantee. We are extraordinarily lucky to be filmgoers in this great city. And we should never take it for granted. And that means supporting the institutions we care about as much as we can.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

thinking about the jim thome trade

Kevin Roderick of LA Observed is with me on the Dodgers' trade that brought in slugger Jim Thome. He tips his hand by titling his post "Dodgers trade for a DH":
Thome has played the field four times since leaving the National League in 2005, including not once this year or last. Tells you about his glove. So he give them a power left-handed bat off the bench and theoretically could fill in precariously for James Loney when offense takes precedence.
This decision seems to be built almost entirely on the possibility that the Dodgers will use him every game if they get to the World Series. But that's a long way off, isn't it? Is he really going to be happy just pinch-hitting in the interim?

For the record, I think the deal for pitcher Jon Garland makes more sense.