Thursday, June 30, 2011

'monte carlo' review

Monte Carlo is getting very little buzz, but, honestly, it's better than both Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Larry Crowne. That doesn't mean it's good, however, although it does have its charms. I review the Selena Gomez tween comedy for Yahoo.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

'larry crowne' review

I've always liked Tom Hanks. That's what made watching Larry Crowne all the more painful. That's not the only reason, though. I lament this misbegotten project over at Yahoo.

'terri' review

One of the best reviewed movies of the summer is Terri, a tart coming-of-age comedy-drama starring John C. Reilly and Jacob Wysocki. I'm in the minority in thinking it's very mediocre. I try to justify my stance over at Yahoo.

limp bizkit - 'gold cobra' review

Much to my surprise, Limp Bizkit's comeback album, Gold Cobra, is just like the Limp Bizkit of the late '90s: bratty, whiny, and, yet, oddly compelling. Fred Durst might be an obnoxious twit, but what can I say: The dude knows how to make his paranoia work for him. My review of Gold Cobra is up now at

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

'transformers: dark of the moon' review

This should explain what an eternal optimist I am: I actually had faith that Transformers: Dark of the Moon might be good. Michael Bay kept talking about how it was going to be more streamlined and action-packed. That sounded promising, right? And then I saw the movie. It's the same old bucket of bolts. My review is up at Screen International.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Derek and the Dominos - "Bell Bottom Blues"

You know, Layla has other great songs than just the title track. "Bell Bottom Blues" is a real standout. (Oh, and that stuff Clapton sings at the end about turning to another partner if his true love doesn't take him back? Who believes that? This man is hopelessly infatuated with his Layla.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

'bad teacher' review

After last night's screening of Bad Teacher, my wife commented that the movie wasn't as bad as she was expecting. Sadly, it was almost exactly as bad as I was expecting. My Yahoo review goes into all the reasons I think it's a pretty lame comedy.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

'a better life' review

I know a few critics who have cried at the ending of A Better Life, an illegal immigrant drama set in Los Angeles. I don't deny its impact, but I wish the film had earned it more. I review the movie for Yahoo.

'if a tree falls' review

If a Tree Falls is a documentary that looks at the Earth Liberation Front, a group of radical environmental activists. For Yahoo, I discuss why one of the film's best features is its reasonableness, which you wouldn't necessarily expect from a documentary about radicals.

Friday, June 17, 2011

'bernie' review

Last night's opening film for the 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival was Richard Linklater's Bernie. Starring Jack Black, it's based on a true story too bizarre to believe: A kindly assistant funeral director befriended a recent widow and ultimately killed her, much to the shock of their small-town Texas community. For Screen International, I discuss why I think the movie's just OK.

'green lantern' review

My love for Ryan Reynolds continues. He's a funny, intensely likable actor, which made me even sadder that Green Lantern isn't better. I go into the whys and hows over at Screen International.

paul simon - rewrite

An odd choice for a Father's Day song, perhaps, but I've really been feeling "Rewrite" off Paul Simon's latest album. For such a peppy, pretty melody, it's actually quite a sad, sad song. And, at the same time, it's also oddly uplifting too. Artists, what can't they do?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

'the art of getting by' review

You can't really hate The Art of Getting By, a coming-of-age indie film starring Freddie Highmore and Emma Roberts. It's sincere and heartfelt and all that. But, boy is it a pile of bad metaphors and cliches. I explain why over at Yahoo.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

'buck' review

Buck is a documentary about Buck Brannaman, a modern-day cowboy who teaches people how to train their horses. He's a soft-spoken man who had a horrible childhood that he thankfully escaped to become an incredibly decent man. (Plus, he was the inspiration for the book The Horse Whisperer and was a consultant on the film adaptation.) Buck is modest -- maybe to a fault -- but it's a nicely gentle little film. My full review is up at Yahoo.

Monday, June 13, 2011

'page one: a year inside the new york times' review

I found Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times to be a pretty fascinating film. But I'm a bit of a media nerd. Will normal humans be as interested? It's hard to say. I review the film for Yahoo.

Friday, June 10, 2011

best coast - goodbye

"I've had people say, 'Oh, your voice is reminiscent of Liz Phair.' And I take that as a huge compliment, but I don't hear it. I don't really listen to a lot of '90s alternative indie female stuff anymore, but I loved Liz Phair and Kim Deal when I was younger." -- Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast to Pitchfork

The Phair connection I noticed immediately when I heard Crazy for You, the band's debut, last year. At first, Cosentino's whiny lyrical complaints annoyed me. Then I went back to Exile in Guyville and noticed a similarity: Both women used humor and honesty as ways to express their heartbreak. Soon after, Crazy for You clicked for me. It's a great summer album for being bummed that you don't have anybody. Or as Cosentino said in the same interview, "There are a s--tload of songs about being in love with someone who doesn't love you back and I talk about weed and my cat and being lazy a lot."

True. But she does it well. "Goodbye" is a particular favorite of mine.

Monday, June 06, 2011

'the trip' review

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon play fictional versions of themselves in The Trip, a funny and oddly touching little comedy about two friends driving through the North of England. It's worth checking out. My review is up at Yahoo.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

'super 8' review

While I was watching Super 8, I was thinking a lot about Fringe, the sci-fi show J.J. Abrams co-created that I used to recap for Vulture. Like Fringe in its early seasons, Super 8 is what I'd call "theoretical fun": It's put together in a way that should be fun, but it's not nearly as fun as it should be (or thinks it is). Plus, like a lot of Fringe episodes, Super 8 is in part a mystery: What's the creature? What's its objective? Why are animals and machine parts going missing? In both the show and the movie, you can basically figure it out before the explanation comes, which isn't very satisfying.

None of these observations would have fit in my Super 8 review for Screen International, which you can read here, but I wanted to pass along those comments in case you are/were a Fringe fan. If like me, you always wanted to like the show more than you did -- and I'm not talking about this most recent season, which the few episodes I saw convinced me was a huge step up -- I'm here to warn you that you may have the exact same reaction to Super 8.

Friday, June 03, 2011

jessica lea mayfield - our hearts are wrong

Jessica Lea Mayfield turns 22 in August. I seem incapable of escaping her new-ish single, "Our Hearts Are Wrong," no matter where I go lately. So you win, Ms. Mayfield: You're my Friday Video.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

'film socialisme' review

You may remember that I first saw Jean Luc-Godard's Film Socialisme last year during AFI Fest. (It didn't go so well: The digital file didn't have subtitles.) Well, now I've seen it with the subtitles ... which only help so much. My review is up at Yahoo.