Wednesday, August 31, 2011

'gainsbourg: a heroic life' review

I first saw Gainsbourg back in the spring of 2010 when I was part of the jury for COL-COA. I liked it then, and I liked it again when I re-watched it this week in a slightly shorter version. (The original was 130 minutes long; the new cut is 122 minutes.) I couldn't tell you what was taken out, but the film's overall impact feels the same: Eric Elmosnino is quite good in it as Serge Gainsbourg, but the biopic as a whole is only so-so. My review is up at The Projector for you perusing.

'a good old fashioned orgy' review

Jason Sudeikis seems destined to be a movie star, but if that happens A Good Old Fashioned Orgy won't be one of the first films mentioned during his AFI Life Achievement Award ceremony. It's a likeable comedy but very forgettable, which is not what you'd expect from an orgy. My review is up at The Projector.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

red hot chili peppers - 'i'm with you' review

Every four years or so, Red Hot Chili Peppers emerge from their L.A. lairs and put out essentially the exact same album. This drives other people nuts because, honestly, when's everybody going to realize it's all a bunch of shtick? I remain neutral on the band -- on one level, I think they're overrated, but I also kinda marvel at their consistency -- and so I went into I'm With You with open ears. Well, they've done it again: Familiar as it is in some ways, it's another winning collection of tunes. They are who we thought they were. My review of I'm With You is over at About.

Friday, August 26, 2011

dj shadow - I gotta rokk

DJ Shadow's new album, The Less You Know the Better, comes out next month. I know a lot of folks gave up on Shadow after The Outsider, but I still love the man. And I absolutely love "I Gotta Rokk" from the new disc. The title tells you all you need to know: It's one long, indulgent, flash-them-devil-horns ode to arena rock posturing. Does it go on a bit too long? Maybe. But, man oh man, that beat.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

'chasing madoff' review

I don't think there would be many people who wouldn't like to learn how Bernie Madoff finally got his comeuppance. So why is the documentary Chasing Madoff such a disappointment? I go into that over at The Projector at Yahoo.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

'higher ground' review

Vera Farmiga's directorial debut, Higher Ground, is really special. Though flawed, it's impressively nuanced in its portrait of a woman's shaky religious conversion. Sensitive, touching, sincere ... there's a part of me that thinks I'm being a little easy on it, but I can't help it: The film moved me deeply. My Higher Ground review is up at Yahoo.

Monday, August 22, 2011

'don't be afraid of the dark' review

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark isn't a great movie, but it's an enjoyably nasty/cheesy/atmospheric one. As I told a friend while walking out of the screening, "As long as you don't ask me a single question about it, I think I liked it." Some movies are just like that. My review is up at Yahoo.

Friday, August 19, 2011

fountains of wayne - michael and heather at the baggage claim

I did some traveling recently, which means getting on an airplane, flying, landing somewhere else, and then waiting for your bags. "Michael and Heather at the Baggage Claim" off Fountains of Wayne's 2007 album Traffic and Weather always comes to mind when I'm wondering if my bag will ever show up. Plus, it's a love song, which even though it's a sad song always makes me think of my wife. What can I say: Whether it's a sad love song or a happy love song, I think of her. It's like what Stephin Merritt once sang: "You're in every song I know."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

'amigo' review

John Sayles is a filmmaker I love, but I have to admit that he hasn't made a great film in quite a while. Sadly, his latest, Amigo, is one of his weakest. It's a look at the Philippine-American Way, but it's clear Sayles is more interested in another conflict, our current occupation/misadventure in the Middle East. It's not very subtle and, unfortunately, just not very good. I reviewed the film for Yahoo.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

'flypaper' review

Flypaper is a heist-gone-wrong comedy starring Patrick Dempsey and Ashley Judd. Did I mention it's also terrible? Well, it is. Man, is it awful. I reviewed the film for Yahoo, if you care to give my words a look-see.

Friday, August 12, 2011

radiohead - codex

I decided to revisit The King of Limbs recently to see if it had grown on me at all. Sadly, it had not. I think it's their weakest album -- not terrible, just merely so-so. "Codex," though .... well, "Codex" is great.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

'littlerock' review

Littlerock is a micro-budget indie from director Mike Ott that opens Friday in New York. It's a small film that won the "Someone to Watch" award at the Independent Spirit Awards. I think it's got some real feeling in it, despite its modest trappings. I dive in over at Yahoo.

Friday, August 05, 2011

death cab for cutie - death of an interior decorator

Yes, it's true: Ben Gibbard once wrote a song inspired by Woody Allen's Interiors, which is a pretty underrated film of his. "Death of an Interior Decorator" is off Transatlanticism, which, you may recall, I like quite a lot. This is a fan-made video for the song. I wonder if these guys ever saw Interiors.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

'rise of the planet of the apes' review

I think a running theme in a lot of reviews for Rise of the Planet of the Apes will be "Wow, what a pleasant surprise." That's code for "We all kinda assumed it was going to be bad." But, no, it's actually pretty smart and assured, although it does have a few problems. Nonetheless, in a summer of pretty bad studio movies, Rise is one of the few bright spots. I reviewed the film for Screen International.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

'mysteries of lisbon' review

Director Raul Ruiz's Mysteries of Lisbon is a 257-minute-long soap opera about an orphan boy looking for his parents. That's just one of the characters whose story we learn about over the course of this sumptuous, often stunning film. My review is up at Yahoo.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

'the change-up' review

In theory, I'd watch just about anything with Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman in it. But that theory is tested by The Change-Up, a very dispiriting body-switch comedy. Serves me right for thinking the trailer looked funny. I reviewed the film for Screen International.

'bellflower' review

Bellflower is the audacious debut of writer-director-star Evan Glodell. Its first two acts are really terrific, but, man oh man, I wish its ending was better. I review the romantic drama/coming-of-age tale/apocalyptic whatsit for Yahoo.

drive-by truckers - 'ugly buildings, whores & politicians' review

Drive-By Truckers have never had a hit, but that didn't keep them from releasing Ugly Buildings, Whores & Politicians: Greatest Hits - 1998-2009. It's terrific.