Tuesday, March 30, 2010

'the last song' review

Miley Cyrus built her fame on her Hannah Montana persona. But how long can that last? That explains her decision to star in The Last Song, a teen drama based on a book by Nicholas Sparks that gives her a more grownup role to play. It ends up being a bit of a disaster. My review is up at Screen International.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

'twin peaks: fire walk with me' at the new beverly

From April 7-9, the New Beverly will be running a double-feature of David Lynch films: Mulholland Dr. and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. Since everybody reveres the former film, there's no better time than the present for a defense of Fire Walk With Me. I do just that over at L.A. Weekly.

'clash of the titans' review

The original Clash of the Titans from 1981 isn't very good. So there was room for improvement in any potential remake. Sadly, the new Clash of the Titans -- in 3D! -- has almost the exact same problems as the first film. My review is up at Screen International.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

COLCOA jury duty

The annual COLCOA (City of Lights, City of Angels) festival will be taking place in Los Angeles from April 19-25. As the festival says, it's "A Week of French Film Premieres in Hollywood." I'm proud to say I'll be serving on the jury with four fellow LAFCA members, and our screenings start next week. The slate of COLCOA films is here -- in previous years, they've spotlighted such great films as The Secret of the Grain, Seraphine, Roman de Gare and Manon on the Asphalt.

I'm thrilled and honored to be part of COLCOA, and I'm looking forward to discovering a few gems -- as well as finding out what the super-secret "Blind Date" film that's screening during the festival will be.

Friday, March 26, 2010

the doors - the crystal ship

Maybe I've just been in a classic-rock mood lately. Or maybe it's because that Doors documentary will be coming out soon. Regardless, here's an underrated song from their first album...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

'the harimaya bridge' review

Do movies actually do anything to help cure social ills? I was thinking about that while watching The Harimaya Bridge, an earnest drama about a father who has to confront his own bigotry when he travels from San Francisco to Japan to collect his dead son's paintings. My review is up at L.A. Weekly.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

'joan rivers: a piece of work' review

Never been much of a fan of Joan Rivers, but the superb new documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work made me question some of my prejudices about her. At 76, she's an inspiring woman, even if she also seems like a handful. The film opens in June -- my review is here.

drive-by truckers - 'the big to-do' review

Anybody who knows me is aware of what a fan of the Drive-By Truckers I am. But, seriously, their new album, The Big To-Do, is pretty great. You can read my review here.

(P.S. If you need more convincing of this band's greatness, here are my reviews of Decoration Day, The Dirty South and Brighter Than Creation's Dark.)

Friday, March 19, 2010

television - venus

Every song off Marquee Moon is great -- you probably know that already. But right now I'm really loving "Venus."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

'the red baron' review

The Red Baron, the famed World War I flying ace, is a great subject for a film. But The Red Baron is not that film. I explain why over at L.A. Weekly.

emmett malloy, director of 'under great white northern lights,' speaks

I interviewed Emmett Malloy, the director of the White Stripes documentary Under Great White Northern Lights, which I saw and loved at last year's Toronto Film Festival. Our chat is up at Vulture.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

white stripes - 'under great white northern lights' album review

I've been raving about the White Stripes' tour documentary Under Great White Northern Lights since I saw it during last year's Toronto Film Festival. The accompanying live album of the same name is pretty damn great as well. I review the record here.

Friday, March 12, 2010

broken bells - the high road

I haven't had a chance to absorb the whole Broken Bells album, but this lead single is the sort of thing James Mercer does really well with his regular band, the Shins: It feels slight, but its melodic assurance helps give it a real heft.

'green zone' review

Director Paul Greengrass had a perfect track record heading into Green Zone, his new Iraq thriller starring Matt Damon. Oh well -- nobody's perfect. I write about the film at length at The Simon.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

'the cry of the owl' review

Paddy Considine and Julia Stiles appear in the thriller The Cry of the Owl, which opens this weekend. It's a small, intimate film, and for a while it's genuinely odd. But then things go wrong. I go into all of it at L.A. Weekly.

Friday, March 05, 2010

neil young - crime in the city

The original "Crime in the City" is an acoustic/country/jazz sort of thing from Neil Young's fantastic 1989 album, Freedom. It's great, and if you haven't heard it, you should -- some of the best storytelling Young's ever done. But as much as I dig that track, the live electric version blows it out of the water. Here it is:

the Oscars and the Spirit Awards: who will win and who should win

The nice folks at indieWIRE asked me to send in a ballot for the Oscars and the Spirit Awards. So here it is: My picks for who will win and who should win. (Note: In a few categories, I abstained from picking a "should win" if I didn't see enough of the nominees to feel comfortable making a selection.) If you want to see the consensus picks, click here for the Oscars and click here for the Spirit Awards.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

'dreamkiller' review

I have sympathy for DIY, no-budget filmmakers who stop at nothing to get their movies made and into theaters all on their own. But Dreamkiller just isn't that hot. It's playing at the Beverly Center here in Los Angeles -- my review is in the Weekly.

'alice in wonderland' review

When was the last time Tim Burton made a really great movie? Sadly, I can't remember, either. (And I'm one of those weirdos who really liked Mars Attacks!) His 3D Alice in Wonderland is more of the same from this very frustrating director. My review is here.