Thursday, April 30, 2009

bob dylan, the painter

Rolling Stone has a nice gallery up of some of Bob Dylan's artwork.

(No, I haven't heard the new album yet. I know, I know, I know. Hopefully once I get some stuff done today, I'll be able to spend some time with it.)

break

Good news: There's a movie opening this weekend in Los Angeles that stars David Carradine, Chad Everett and Michael Madsen. Bad news: It's Break.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

management

Management is yet another of those indie romantic comedies where the laughs come from the impossibility of the mismatched lovebirds staying together. This one stars Jennifer Aniston and Steve Zahn. Here's the opening from my review:
“Management” deserves some points for its quirky approach to romantic comedy conventions, but it doesn’t offer enough rewards to make the experience worthwhile. A story of a sheltered man-child and the professional woman he falls hopelessly in love with, this feature directing debut of playwright Stephen Belber is odd and touching, but it unfolds as a collection of disparate gambits that could have used a surer hand behind the helm.

wilco - ashes of american flags

Wilco's first live DVD, Ashes of American Flags, captures all that's right and wrong about this beloved band. The songs are expertly played and sensitively rendered, but Jeff Tweedy will forever be a touch too "arty" for my taste. My review is here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

obsessed

Everything you've heard about Obsessed is true -- it's a hoot. My review is at Screen International. Spoiler alert: Of the three leads, only the guy takes his shirt off. (Does that mean it really is a movie for the ladies?)

Friday, April 24, 2009

wilco - hummingbird

You've had a hard week, reader. Why not sit back and enjoy a cute animated video set to the music of Wilco?

kids write letters to obama

The whole story about Dear President Obama: Letters of Hope from Children Across America can be read here. But let me just say that this 12-year-old's letter might be my favorite.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

someone i loved

Someone I Loved opened last night's City of Lights, City of Angels festival in Los Angeles. I'll run my own review closer to the film's actual U.S. release, but Variety's Justin Chang sums up my thoughts pretty well with this sentence:
[Director Zabou] Breitman isn't afraid to use a few artful flourishes to blur the lines between past and present or heighten the melodrama of the moment; she's fond of letting cigarette smoke hang suggestively in the air, or adding a delicate layer of soft focus around the edges of the frame.
The artful flourishes are largely what I remember of this romantic-infidelity drama. But when it comes to suggestive cigarette smoke in my filmed entertainment, I prefer Wong Kar Wai.

glenn kenny on the whole miss usa "controversy"

Film critic Glenn Kenny draws the obvious parallel to a certain Woody Allen film. Brilliant.

neil tennant agrees with me about home and dry

From a very good interview at Idolator with Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant:
Actually, “Home and Dry” is one of my favorite songs of ours. I really love it. You know Brandon Flowers from the Killers told us that when he comes home from tour, his wife plays that song ..... I like it, I think it’s sort of beautiful, but at the time, seven years ago, it was a new Pet Shop Boys that some people had a quite a hard time dealing with. I just think it’s a beautiful song.
It's off Release, which I think is a very underrated record in their canon. (It's definitely their most romantic album.) "Home and Dry" came around at a time when I was single, and the song was the best advertisement for a happy, stable long-term relationship I could imagine. Here's the video...

brian lowry on life after people: the series

Seriously, this may need to become a regular feature -- Lowry is a zinger machine. Here's part of his review of Life After People: The Series:

"Welcome to Earth. Population: zero," the narrator says at the outset.

Faced with the option of sitting through subsequent hours of "Life After People," the same description could apply to my living room.

I confess that I was intrigued by the original Life After People special. Then I watched it. Unspeakably lame. But, as Lowry points out, it was the History Channel's most-watched program, so of course the network execs would be stupid not to keep churning out more of it for audiences.

Friday, April 17, 2009

off to seattle ....

.... and the EMP Pop Music Conference. For obvious reasons, this song has been on my mind a lot lately. Everyone have a good weekend.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

the butterfly tattoo

In a parallel world, The Butterfly Tattoo is just a harmless, likable coming-of-age romantic drama about two English teens. Unfortunately, in this world, it's a coming-of-age romantic drama that tries to grasp for Shakespearean tragedy when it morphs into a crime flick. My review is at L.A. Weekly.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

brian lowry on sit down, shut up

My tastes tend to line up with Variety's Brian Lowry's quite often. So his take-down of Sit Down, Shut Up is a real bummer:

"Sit Down, Shut Up” is an odd hybrid, and not just because the series places animated characters against photographed backdrops. Mixing social satire with a relentless array of kinky sex jokes, the early episodes limbo beneath the bar of bad taste set by Seth MacFarlane’s animated fare, feeling more suited -- mostly for ill -- to Comedy Central or Adult Swim’s latenight menu than primetime on Fox. Despite a pedigree that includes “Arrested Development” creator Mitch Hurwitz and many of that program’s stars, “Sit Down” seldom rises above sniggering double entendre. Seemingly preoccupied with impressing teenage boys, the show should possess scant appeal outside that demo.
For the record, put me down as someone who's not clamoring for the much-discussed Arrested Development movie. But I'd rather have that than what it sounds like we're going to be getting on Sunday with this.

Friday, April 10, 2009

south park - the spirit of christmas

Right, it's Easter, not Christmas. But I suddenly started thinking about Jesus and this popped in my head. I still remember seeing this South Park pilot back in the mid-'90s -- it really did seem like the funniest thing in the world back then. And, come to think of it, it's still pretty damn funny. (By the way, NSFW.)




Update 4/13/2009: Hmmm .... that was fast. Viacom took down the clip. Sorry about that. Enjoy this instead .....

Thursday, April 09, 2009

'Old Joy' and 'Wendy and Lucy' at the New Beverly

Kelly Reichardt's two most recent films, Old Joy and Wendy and Lucy, will be screening at the New Beverly on April 14-15. I sing their praises in L.A. Weekly, arguing that Reichardt "has become one of our most perceptive observers of outsiders, turning the Pacific Northwest ... into a microcosm for the decaying individualist spirit in an increasingly-conformist American society." That sounds pretty bleak, I know -- and yet there's so much beauty in her films.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

alec baldwin agrees with me about rachel maddow

From Alec Baldwin's piece today in The Huffington Post (which is actually about the ongoing importance of The New York Times):
She is smart and charming but her writers are dreadful and the less cutesy she is, the better. She did an excellent interview with Colin Powell recently. The next night, I missed that tougher, less avuncular Rachel.
She needs to cut down on the aren't-I-adorable? moments. I still like her a lot, and the Powell interview was good, but I hope someone over at her show is in charge of watching out for encroaching smugness.

hannah montana: the movie

If you're going to go to the trouble of making a big-screen adaptation of your hit Disney Channel show, don't you want to at least put some ingenuity into it? Apparently not -- as Hannah Montana: The Movie suggests, maybe the best thing to do is hit ever cliche in the book so that the whole thing goes down very smoothly. My review is at Screen International.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

eels - hombre lobo

If the first single, "Fresh Blood," didn't make it clear, this trailer for the making-of documentary suggests that Eels' Hombre Lobo is going to be a rock album, possibly in the vein of Souljacker. I'm positively loving "Fresh Blood," and I hope there's more like it on the album.



Update, 5/6/2009: According to the Eels camp, Hombre Lobo is indeed going to be somewhat Souljacker-ish.

the lonely island

In my latest Consumables column, I review the Lonely Island's Incredibad and spend some time surveying several notable foreign films: Tokyo Sonata, Three Monkeys, The Song of Sparrows, Paris 36, and Tokyo!

(What? You were expecting an expert analysis of Hannah Montana The Movie? Don't worry: That review will be up tomorrow.)

Monday, April 06, 2009

the hold steady - a positive rage

I wanted to love A Positive Rage, the first live album from the Hold Steady. But I ended up only liking it.

Friday, April 03, 2009

jerry orbach - try to remember

A colleague and I were talking about how much we loved Jerry Orbach on Law & Order, but, of course, he had a whole career before that. As if to remind me, this video came across my radar.



He would have been 74 in October.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

leonard cohen

Leonard Cohen's first tour in 15 years has generated plenty of ink. I contribute my two-cents worth at the Phoenix New Times, where I analyze the ageless appeal of the Canadian singer-songwriter. I start this way:
One of the reasons we love Leonard Cohen is because we don't know him.

white lies, the band

White Lies' new album, To Lose My Life, just came out. My review is here. You want a preview? No sweat:
In the 21st century, this country has done its best to co-opt Britain's '80s gray-sky sound with homegrown groups like the Killers and Interpol. But as demonstrated by the new London trio White Lies on To Lose My Life, the problem with our bands isn't that they're ripping off their elders' torment, it's that they don't do it shamelessly enough.