Friday, February 27, 2009

marlon brando wins the oscar for the godfather, refuses

One of the most famous moments in Academy Awards history is Marlon Brando's decision to refuse his Best Actor Oscar for The Godfather in 1973, sending Sacheen Littlefeather, a Native American activist, to decline the award for him. It's a piece of Hollywood legend more discussed than actually witnessed, but the good people at the Oscars YouTube channel have the clip up currently. Of course, you can't embed it, but it's certainly worth checking out. (P.S. There are a lot of good clips up on the channel -- I'll be watching Diane Keaton's Annie Hall acceptance speech next.)

usc's basketball season ends

OK, technically, it's not over yet, but after last night's loss to Cal ... well, here's how Los Angeles Times writer Chris Foster started his story:
This may be the time for those at USC to begin considering the advantages of playing in the NIT.
Part of me wishes they could still somehow sneak into the NCAA tournament as a 12-seed just to see what would happen. The other part of me already knows what would happen.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

u2 - 'no line on the horizon' review

I was not the biggest fan of U2's last two records, so I wasn't expecting much from No Line on the Horizon. How surprised I was when I ended up liking it so much. Here's a brief tease ...
U2’s albums this decade have struggled to return to the classic styles of established masterpieces like The Joshua Tree, but No Line on the Horizon successfully and winningly recaptures the yearning quality of the band’s early days while at the same time takes smart creative risks reminiscent of experimental ‘90s efforts like Achtung Baby.
The rest is here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

the oscars

I was a big fan of this year's show -- I explain why in Consumables. Also in there are my reviews of Miracle at St. Anna, Of Time and the City, Serbis, Burn After Reading, Heartbeat Detector and Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired.

Friday, February 20, 2009

conan o'brien

Tonight is the last night of Late Night With Conan O'Brien. This may not be my favorite Conan clip of all time, but it's close.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

gene siskel has been dead for 10 years now

I can't believe it.

The two men who most made me care about movies at a young age, outside of my Uncle Steve, were Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. Ebert we still have, although it looked scary there for a while, but Siskel died on February 20, 1999. Ebert has a good piece up now about the 10-year anniversary of Siskel's passing, but I prefer the below tribute he did on the show right after it happened ...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

interiors

At some point, I need to see Interiors again -- it's been more than 10 years now. This trailer makes me want to see it right this instant.

2009 pop conference

Every April in Seattle, the Experience Music Project puts together the Pop Conference, which "joins academics, critics, performers, and writers of all kinds in a rare common discussion." Put another way, it's an excuse for those who love music to participate in panel discussions built around a central theme. This year, it's "Dance Music Sex Romance: Pop and the Body Politic," and I'm proud to say I've been invited to speak as part of a panel called "Sexual Healing?" My topic? How George Michael's "Father Figure" Made Me a Man.

Monday, February 16, 2009

crossing over review

"Crossing Over? Wasn't that supposed to come out last year?"

"Crossing Over? Isn't that the movie Sean Penn was in before he asked to be cut out of it?"

Those are the two things I've heard the most in regards to this Harrison Ford ensemble piece that's a mixture of Crash and The Visitor. (And the answer to both questions is "yes.") The other question is: "After all these delays, can the movie possibly be any good?" My review is here.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

amarcord, back on the big screen

Caught Amarcord at the Nuart this weekend -- who of us is not a sucker for the words "restored print"? Lance Goldenberg has this to say about Fellini's film in L.A. Weekly:
Amarcord often comes off like a series of loosely connected vaudeville routines, its players pumped up into a realm of caricature, where gestures and emotions are as outsized as those famously enormous butts and breasts so dear to the director’s heart.
Goldenberg likes the film, but this apt description gets to the heart of why I don't think it's a complete success. Ebert says it's "Fellini's final great film," but while Amarcord grew on me, it's not in the same league as La Dolce Vita or Nights of Cabiria. Still, even minor Fellini beats the hell out of so much else, especially during the dregs of wintertime moviegoing.

Friday, February 13, 2009

wilco - wilco the song

Right before the election, Wilco went on The Colbert Report to play a new song. After Sky Blue Sky, these guys can do no wrong in my book.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

happy valentine's day ... from the onion

God bless them.
Despite having more than a decade of experience and being in fairly good physical shape, 32-year-old publisher's assistant Peter Graney told reporters Tuesday that he is inexplicably getting worse at sex.

"I don't get it," Graney said following an awkward evening of intercourse with a coworker he has dated for the past two months. "At this point in my life, I thought I'd be able to please a woman every time, no problem, but it's actually quite the opposite."

"It doesn't make any sense," Graney continued. "I'm starting to think I might have been better at this whole thing back in high school."

The rest is here.

Monday, February 09, 2009

radiohead win Best Grammy Comment

It's not a Grammy category yet, but Radiohead guitarist Johnny Greenword deserves some sort of award for this response to the ridiculous lavishness of the Grammys:
Everything I know about pop culture I know from The Simpsons, and they say the Grammys aren't very good.
For the record, I thought their performance of "15 Steps" with the USC marching band was just OK. It's not one of my favorite tracks from In Rainbows.

Friday, February 06, 2009

paul westerberg - we may be the ones

Paul Westerberg's Stereo/Mono double album is probably my favorite of his solo career -- it was recorded in his basement, and it sounds like a guy who's had it with the music business and just wants to do his own things all by himself. Themes of domestic bliss and bitter resignation go hand in hand on the collection, and it all comes to a head on "We May Be the Ones," which Westerberg did appropriately raggedy on Conan O'Brien's show.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

absurdistan

Director Veit Helmer's Absurdistan is the sort of modern-day fable that's almost always cloying. This film is the exception to that rule.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Animal Collective - 'Merriweather Post Pavilion' Review

The new year's most beloved album thus far is probably Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion. I've been lukewarm on them in the past, but I decided to keep an open mind about their new disc. My assessment is over at Detroit's Metro Times: They're a very good gimmick band.

2009 academy award nominated shorts

The 2009 Academy Award Nominated Shorts festival will be playing across the country starting this weekend -- five live-action and five animated nominees in total. They're not all terrific, but there are several that are absolutely worth your time. I pick out the gems over at The Village Voice.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

nous non plus

Nous Non Plus consists of a bunch of New Yorkers masquerading as a French pop collective. (They even have fake names like Jean-Luc Retard.) Their new album, Menagerie, should be a groan-inducing pun-fest, but it's actually a pretty smart batch of deceptively fluffy songs. My review is at Blender.

Monday, February 02, 2009

my unsolicited take on super bowl xliii

A terrific fourth quarter got people claiming this was the best Super Bowl ever. But it wasn't. That honor still goes to last year's thriller between the Giants and the Patriots. This year's was more closely aligned with the Patriots-Panthers or Rams-Titans games -- dull contests that got very exciting as they got closer to their great finishes. (The second-best Super Bowl remains the second 49ers-Bengals matchup.)

I also felt that Super Bowl XLIII again made the case for why we don't need the week off between the conference championships and the big game. The amount of penalties I think was at least in part due to the lack of sharpness on both teams' parts. (Except for those unnecessary-roughness flags, which were either bad calls or the result of total player stupidity.)

fanboys review

The endless infatuation with all things Star Wars continues with Fanboys, the long-delayed road movie about a group of buddies who set out to Skywalker Ranch to try and see Episode I before its premiere. Kristen Bell and Dan Fogler are decent in it, but for any true Star Wars fan, this movie never scratches the surface of what has made these films such a beloved and reviled cultural phenomenon. My full review is here.

coraline

As a huge fan of The Nightmare Before Christmas, I was very curious about Coraline, the new film from Nightmare writer-director Henry Selick. You can read my review here.