Monday, October 31, 2011

'janie jones' review

I'm still trying to catch up after being gone for a few days, but I reviewed Janie Jones, the low-budget indie starring Abigail Breslin and Alessandro Nivola. Breslin's career is at an interesting crossroads, which I talk about over at Yahoo.

Friday, October 28, 2011

massive attack - protection

OK, not the full-length version off the album. But nonetheless, still a total killer.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

'anonymous' review

Probably like you, I didn't have much faith in Roland Emmerich making a movie about the conspiracy theory that argues that William Shakespeare was a fraud. But, nope, I liked Anonymous just fine. But the movie's real secret weapon is Rhys Ifans, who's really fun. My review is up at Yahoo.

Monday, October 24, 2011

'like crazy' review

This year's Sundance dramatic competition turned out to be a pretty strong one. Higher Ground, Take Shelter, Martha Marcy May Marlene ... and now let's add Like Crazy, which ended up winning the Grand Jury prize. I think it's not quite as good as those three other films, but it's pretty remarkable in its own right. My Like Crazy review is up at Yahoo.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Coldplay - 'Mylo Xyloto' review

Apparently, any intelligent person worth his salt absolutely hates Coldplay. You wouldn't want to be caught dead liking these guys -- it would be akin to really digging No Jacket Required back in the day. Me, I'm Coldplay-neutral. I've liked a few songs off each of their albums, but beyond A Rush of Blood to the Head I've never considered any of their discs to be all that essential. So here comes their latest, Mylo Xyloto. It's more of the same, which I get into over at About.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

'father of invention' review

Were you aware that Kevin Spacey has a movie out? Well, too late, it's already gone from theaters. Father of Invention is a comedy in which he plays a former millionaire fresh out of jail who has to rebuild his life. Spacey's OK, the movie less so. Please enjoy my review over at Screen International.

Friday, October 21, 2011

uncle tupelo - new madrid

It's now been 18 years since the final Uncle Tupelo album, Anodyne, was released. Here's "New Madrid" off it. Yes, a Jeff Tweedy song. I still prefer Jay Farrar, but this tune just seemed right at the moment.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

'le havre' review

The latest from filmmaker Aki Kaurismaki, Le Havre, opens this weekend in New York and Los Angeles. I reviewed this gentle, likable fable for Yahoo. The movie's worth your time -- hopefully the review is, too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

'being elmo' review

I can't be the only person who finds Elmo kinda annoying, right? But even if you are like me, you may still very much enjoy Being Elmo, which is about the puppeteer who brings the character to life. I reviewed Being Elmo for Yahoo.

'oranges and sunshine' review

Oranges and Sunshine is based on the true story of Margaret Humphreys, a social worker who exposed a horrible secret about child deportations from the U.K. to Australia in the 1980s. Emily Watson plays Humphreys, and while she's her usual great self, the movie itself isn't quite up to snuff. My Yahoo review goes into all the details.

'paranormal activity 3' review

Has a franchise other than Paranormal Activity ever gotten progressively better with each installment? (Maybe The Lord of the Rings.) Much to my pleasant surprise, Paranormal Activity 3 is the best one yet. How did they do it? I reviewed the found-footage horror movie for Screen International.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

'The Catechism Cataclysm' review

The Catechism Cataclysm played as part of Sundance's Park City at Midnight section, but it's not nearly weird and/or offensive and/or nutty enough to be a truly great midnight movie. I dispense with this meager road comedy/surreal anti-religion satire at Yahoo.

Monday, October 17, 2011

'martha marcy may marlene' review

One of the big sensations at this year's Sundance, Martha Marcy May Marlene is pretty much as good as advertised. Even if Elizabeth Olsen never does anything as impressive again, well, she did this. My review is up at Yahoo.

jane's addiciton - 'the great escape artist' review

Don't tell anyone, but I was never a big Jane's Addiction fan. (Too hippie-dippy mystical for me.) But, hey, I am a man with open ears, and so I am pleased to announce that I enjoyed their comeback record, The Great Escape Artist. Maybe it's because I wasn't such a fan back in the day that I'm open to their new sound? Perhaps. My review is up at About.

Friday, October 14, 2011

'the rum diary' review

Johnny Depp's second adaptation of a Hunter S. Thompson novel, The Rum Diary, is more effective than his first, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Still, Rum is a bit of a mess, only sporadically arresting. I give a full rundown of its strengths and weaknesses over at Screen International.

bon iver - beth/rest

The final track off Bon Iver's new self-titled album is some sort of throwing down of the gauntlet. "You think I'm a sappy wimp?" he seems to be saying. "I'll show you just how much of a sappy wimp I can be!" "Beth/Rest" is like Bruce Hornsby-meets-Sting. Phil Collins would have killed to have come up with this song. So, yes, it is very sappy ... but I also find it sort of endearing for its outrageously wussy courage.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

'the big year' review

Marley & Me got me but good -- it's that rare tearjerker that's actually well-done -- but director David Frankel's new film, The Big Year, isn't quite as good. Mostly it's just nice and pleasant and bland. My review is up at The Projector, a high-quality film site that is never nice or pleasant or bland.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

'footloose' review

There's cheesy-good and cheesy-bad, and then there's Footloose, which is cheesy-so-so. I reviewed the film for Yahoo, where I can proudly say I made no bad allusions to kicking off my Sunday shows or cutting loose or what have you. I'm a professional, consarnit.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

'trespass' review

In 2011, a movie starring Nicolas Cage and directed by Joel Schumacher shouldn't inspire much confidence in anyone. And, alas, Trespass isn't very good, although it's not quite the laughable fiasco some might think (or hope). I dissect the corpse for Yahoo.

'fireflies in the garden' review

Did you know there's a movie coming out on Friday that stars Julia Roberts and Ryan Reynolds? Well, there is, and it's called Fireflies in the Garden, an indie drama about family dysfunction and grieving that's, unfortunately, very pedestrian. I reviewed the film for Yahoo. (And now that I have reviewed it, I can stop calling it Grave of the Fireflies by mistake. Now that is a great movie.)

Friday, October 07, 2011

tom petty - i'll feel a whole lot better

The Byrds originally recorded "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better," which you can hear here, but I've always been partial to Tom Petty's version -- probably because I heard it first and more often. Fun Fact: Contrary to what this YouTube video would have you believe, Petty's cover is not from Into the Great Wide Open. It's on Full Moon Fever. What would you people do without me?

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

blink-182 - 'neighborhoods' review

Just catching up on this, but for About I reviewed Blink-182's big comeback/reunion album, Neighborhoods. I never loved them back in the day, but I was pleasantly surprised by their new "mature" sound. Anyway, I go into all of that here.

'1911' review

Jackie Chan gets serious for 1911, a war drama tied to the 100th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution. As someone who doesn't pretend to know much Chinese history, I found it somewhat enlightening. But as a piece of cinema? Good lord, what a bore. I reviewed the film for Yahoo.