Friday, August 29, 2014

Tears for Fears - "Head Over Heels"

This video for "Head Over Heels" features...

1) a really cross librarian.
2) a dude in a gas mask.
3) a monkey wearing a Boston Red Sox jersey.
4) a Jew and an African-American putting aside their differences. (A message!)
5) flying index cards.
6) the worst attempt at faking a keyboard solo ever.
7) a really stupid canted-angle framing gimmick.
8) terrible permed hair.
9) a lead singer who can apparently float through the air.
10) animated four-leaf clovers. (They mention them in the song!)
11) leather jackets.
12) inexplicable flashbacks to childhood.
13) all of the above.

(Have a safe Labor Day, everyone.)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Summer Movie Season 2014: A Look Back

You know what? It was a pretty good summer at the movies. There were plenty of films, both big and small, that I liked. Over at Deadspin, Will and I take one last look at the fading summer movie season, spotlighting our highs and lows of the last four months. Enjoy.

Toronto 2014: 'Rosewater' Review

Rosewater won't screen at the Toronto Film Festival until Sept. 9, but it will most assuredly play at Telluride before then. (That festival hasn't announced its lineup or schedule yet.) But why wait? I reviewed the film for Screen International, and I went long because there is much to chew on in Jon Stewart's directorial debut.

As anyone who spends any time around me will know, I've long considered The Colbert Report to be vastly superior to The Daily Show -- to the point where I think Stewart's program might be more than a little overrated at this point. (That said, his show Tuesday on Ferguson was impeccable.) But the man's feature film is a fine, modest, sensitive piece of work, highlighted by strong performances from Gael GarcĂ­a Bernal and Kim Bodnia. Here's my review.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Greats: Terrence Malick

He's a man of mystery who lets his movies speak for him. He made two films in the 1970s, none in the '80s, one in the '90s, and three in the last 10 years. He, of course, is Terrence Malick, who's the latest subject of my Paste series "The Greats." Hope you enjoy.

(Note: Normally, I would include a photo, but Mr. Malick has so few of them out there in the world that I opted instead for the excellent opening sequence from The New World, his least-great movie.)

What to Watch at Home This Weekend

Nobody goes to the movies over Labor Day weekend, which is why the offerings are so pathetic. Instead, Will and I each recommended two indies available on VOD. These four films are all better than The November Man. (Plus, this gave me an excuse to finally write about Coherence.)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Operators - "True"

I'm that one weirdo who prefers all of Dan Boeckner's other bands to his main group, Wolf Parade, who are now on "indefinite hiatus." I loved Handsome Furs, I love Divine Fits, and I'm digging the first cut from his new group, Operators. For me, it's the anxiety in the keyboards and the bite in his voice that always move me.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

'Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For' Review

Title long enough for you? I really liked the original Sin City, but I was awfully disappointed with this sequel, which starts off well but then quickly loses altitude. I'm all for grownup, hyper-violent, trashy fun. (In fact, it's Robert Rodriguez's specialty.) But A Dame doesn't cut it. My review is live at Screen International.

My Interview With Ira Sachs (and John Lithgow) for 'Love Is Strange'

Yes, it's Love Is Strange Week around these parts. Yesterday, I ran my review of the film, and today I have a profile of its director Ira Sachs (along with a few thoughts from co-star John Lithgow, in the hat above) in Rolling Stone. They were both delightful. Hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

'Love Is Strange' Review

One of the bigger hits at Sundance, Love Is Strange finally opens this weekend in select cities. It's a sweet, sad, wise romantic comedy-drama. I missed the movie at the festival, but I finally caught up with it recently. My review is now live at Deadspin.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

What Are the All-Time Best Music Documentaries?

Rolling Stone has put together a list of the 40 greatest rock documentaries. I was quite happy to be asked to contribute write-ups for several of the finalists. As always, I didn't have a say in the rankings but, hey, I'm pretty happy with how it all shook out. (Truth be told, I'd probably put Gimme Shelter at No. 1, though.) Hope you enjoy.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Real Estate - "Had to Hear"

The opening cut from Real Estate's most recent album, Atlas, has grown on me over the months. A road trip to San Francisco loosened me up to its lilting, skipping guitar figure, and now with my wife out of town, the chorus is speaking directly to me: "I had to hear you/just to feel near you."

As for the "Had to Hear" video, its chief function seems to be demonstrating that the guys in Real Estate are so damn nice.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

'The November Man' Review

The fact that Relativity was screening The November Man weeks before its release gave me confidence. "Somebody over there must think it's good," I thought. Now that I've seen the film, my hunch is that the company decided that raising the movie's profile was worth enduring some negative reviews. Pierce Brosnan produced and stars in this subpar spy thriller that will be unfavorably compared to the James Bond series in every single article -- including my review.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams, 1951-2014

The news of Robin Williams' passing is devastating. For Deadspin, I eulogized the man, but I also took the opportunity to talk about why critics (myself included) spend so much time lamenting an actor's career choices when we probably should just focus on the work itself. Here's my piece.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Greats: Mike Leigh

With his acclaimed Cannes hit Mr. Turner on the way, writer-director Mike Leigh is the latest subject of "The Greats," my ongoing series for Paste. I realize the essay is, in part, a chance for me to remind everyone how great Another Year is. You can read the whole thing here.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Red House Painters - "River"

Write about music long enough and you'll start to notice that certain bands that used to be part of your consciousness just drift away into the muck, only to reappear without warning. I haven't thought about Red House Painters in a while. I was utterly charmed by their 1995 album Ocean Beach, but later label woes forced their swan song, Old Ramon, to be delayed for years. Finally, in 2001 it came out. Mark Kozelek couldn't have known it would be the group's final effort, but the album sure sounds that way: resigned, accepting, rather lovely. "River" is Old Ramon's longest track, and it starts off slowly and gracefully before segueing into an intricate layering of electric guitars. I find the song's aching need almost unfathomable -- even more so because I think it's about a cat.

Monday, August 04, 2014

'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Review

The worry about rebooting a beloved property is that the filmmakers will misplace the material's charm in the process. I'm not sure if anyone would call the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles "beloved," but an argument can be made that there was a sweetness to the characters underneath the martial arts shenanigans. Produced by Michael Bay, the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a dark rethinking of the franchise -- there's even a Dark Knight joke, har har har -- and, boy, is it a bummer. My review is up at Screen International.

Friday, August 01, 2014

James Brown - "Cold Sweat"

With Get On Up opening today, I've been thinking about James Brown's music a lot lately. I could have picked any of his many hits, but I decided to go with "Cold Sweat," the full-length version.