Monday, November 26, 2007

New DVD O' The Week

I'm a little embarassed that I'd pick this kind of Oscar-bait in a week that included I Know Who Killed Me, Skin Walkers, Drunken Angel, Hot Rod and Who's Your Caddy? (never got around to watching Paprika or Guy X), but sometimes you have to admit that there are things better than trashy crap. For instance, the story of an Indian couple raising a family in New York. A boy becoming a man! Earnest, generation-spanning shit like that.

Kal Penn is ostensibly the star of the film, but Irfan Khan and Tabu's portrayal of his immigrant parents are what make the film rewarding. Their exchanges are probably some of the most memorably romantic I've seen in a recent film, not due to sexual intensity or saccharine effect, but rather the kindness and kinship they reveal. The growth of their connection is laid out so delicately that its annoying when Kal Penn, as their son Gogol, first appears as an unsympathetic, rebellious teen. Allegedly Penn got the role because Mira Nair's children are die-hard Kumar fans, and while he's not charmless (he's right behind Michael Cera in a lot of friends' comedy stud top 10s), he fails to show any of Irfan Khan's attractive gravity, coming off collegiate even when Gogol's allegedly five years into a marriage.

Aside from location and knocking the storyline up a decade, Leila says the movie is pretty faithful to the book, and I wish they'd been willing to diminish Gogol's importance in order to acknowledge Penn's comparative lack of range. A performer needs to be transfixing if we're to connect with their character in a film that jumps rapidly through periods of time. When Penn becomes the film's focus, the film ironically seems to lose a dimension. It doesn't help that Penn's romantic partners are basically archetypes that flirt with being caricatures (WASP representive Jacinda Barrett shows up at a memorial service in an outfit that anyone would find inappropriate, Zuleikha Robinson's international jetsetter seems to have a different accent in every scene). I haven't seen Nair's other films, but I was surprised at how cursory and simplistic most of the female roles were; Gogol's relationships seem so superficial compared to his parents' that they only serve to alienate us from him. But part of the reason Gogol's appreciation of his parents' experience seems so protracted is that we experienced it for ourselves, and it's hard to regret that.


I promise I'll do capsule reviews of the other films I've watched the last two weeks or so soon, at least the ones I finished. Doesn't seem fair to Kurosawa's Drunken Angel or Big Boi's Who's Your Caddy? to pretend I know that the film didn't become more rewarding further in.

Friday, November 23, 2007

TJ, Anthony, Will...Harlem Heat.

Are you one of those incorrigible dumbasses who tell critics "if you know so much about music, why don't you make some?" Well, here's your chance to discover how much I know about making sweet music and MY chance to make you eat three minutes of stfu. Check out "Sky Car" by Harlem Heat, a little trio I was part of four years ago. It's track #6 on the ILX Comp II, now available for download thanks to Mark Grout.


Ride the a Sky Car!

My Chrysler don't work no more
so I went to the new car store
said I wanted to go far
so he gave me the keys to a new Sky Car
it's a sweet ride, there's no question and
y'all better recognize, and I'm guessing that
none of you is a real rock star and
none of you got your own very own Sky Car

I'm gonna check my shit out (woo hoo)
so check my shit out (woo hoo)
better check my shit out (woo hoo)
please come and check my shit out (woo hoo)

All the haters come and kiss my ass
the girls press their chests up against the glass
kick the boosters and blast on by
cuz you can't touch this car when it's in the sky
children smile cuz I'll be droppin' coins
and a real sweet lady's sittin' on my loins
rush hour is a thing of the past
Sky Car driving with a magnum blast, uh!

You better check my shit out (woo hoo)
come check my shit out (woo hoo)
you know you better check my shit out (woo hoo)
so please come and check my shit out (woo hoo)

It's a beautiful dream
it's a sweet machine
you can drive to a star
so get yourself a Sky Car!

All the guys in the world want a Sky Car
all the ladies in the world want a Sky Car
every government's bonin' for my Sky Car
but only I've got myself a Sky Car

So check my shit out (woo hoo)
you know you gotta check my shit out (woo hoo)
please come and check my shit out (woo hoo)
know you gotta check my shit out, check my shit out!

I play guitar and keys, TJ Fogelsanger drums and Will Barton plays bass. I sang lead on this one, but that's TJ on the bridge and we alternate vocals throughout All The Elements/Forever, our 30 minute, two EP comp I'll happily copy for anyone who sends me a 60 minute cassette or two bucks or a SASE or a very nice e-mail..

All The Elements EP
1. Hot Shit Inc.
2. Sky Car
3. Swimming Away
4. Dirty Dog
Forever EP
5. Forever
6. Hot Tripe
7. Cherry-Flavored Freedom
8. Ghostbusters (Feat. Kael and Dave)

BUY curious? I bet you are!

Monday, November 19, 2007

New DVD O' The Week.

Based on this early entry in the upcoming wave of "one last jump from the fireball" sequels, I think we can assume that Rambo 4 (Indiana Jones 4 too, if Spielberg can't muster autumnal sweetness) will reveal that life has not been kind for our hero since we last saw him a decade or two ago. The few thrills gained from being dragged one more time into yet another shitstorm will be sadistic and vengeful in nature. Even when the supporting cast honor steadfast determination in the face of true evil, little pride will be confessed, as he's simply resigned to the "job," one only he seems able to do right. I'm guessing this is a very moving concept if you're an aging, popular actor with little chance of getting Oscar love anytime soon. But as far as popcorn Searchers go, this one's pretty enjoyable, shrewdly playing both sides of the fence: mocking the government while defending the country, letting the droll hacker drop conspiracy theories while he learns sometimes it's necessary to kill, getting away with the lead's fondness for the phrase "Asian bitch" by casting Maori Cliff Curtis as no-bullshit FBI Assistant Director Bowman, a character I assumed was Arab-American until imdb revealed his first name was Miguel.

As in Armageddon, Bruce Willis initially irritates his daughter by psychotically defending her virginity, but a climactic act of selflessness earns her love and respect. Justin Long finds the right tone for his character, wry but not distractingly deconstructive, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead is the strong kind of smoking hot. Maggie Q, even hotter, executes security guard after security guard with such gorgeous serenity that you resent Willis's glee in punishing her. Still, my only genuine disappointment with the film is that Timothy Olyphant's annoyed, glaring villain wasn't given an awful dyejob a la John Lithgow in Cliffhanger or Christopher Walken in A View To A Kill. Olyphant and Q looked so damn good bringing America to its knees that you wanted to see their sex tape more than their downfall (they'd do a great Thomas Crown Affair). Here's my pathetic attempt to fix this mistake:

"You have no idea what my band-aid is capable of, Officer McClane..."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Generation Y's Brando? Or Montgomery Clift? By default?

Dear Richard Kelly,

For someone who has made two films, your casting skills are amazing, and I feel your '80s reference points (Zelda Rubinstein AND Booger? I kiss you). But letting your movies revolve around the moral dilemma of a time-travelling messiah will nullify everything you have to say about adolescence, Iraq, or anything else that actually exists. It doesn't help that you have little of note to say in the first place. I'd suggest that you try your hand at surrealism without explanatory sci-fi, but I doubt Hollywood will give you the chance anytime soon. Hopefully someone else will, cuz I'll be heartbroken if Southland Tales is the trippiest film about 00's America we get.

Monday, November 05, 2007

A clip from Evgeni Plushenko's Art Of Ice special, obviously a warm-up for...

The internationally acclaimed, three-time Grammy Award winning singer and songwriter, Seal, announced today that he will perform live in a one-time only music and skating production, “The Music of Seal on Ice,” with a cast that features Olympic Gold Medalists Kristi Yamaguchi and Brian Boitano. The show is set for December 18 at 7:30 p.m. at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., and will be televised nationwide on NBC from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST on New Year’s Day.

The London-born Seal, has sold more than 15 million albums worldwide and will have a new studio album entitled System in stores November 13. Among his most popular songs are “Kiss From a Rose,’’ which won him a Grammy and was featured on the Batman Forever soundtrack, “Crazy,’’ and “Prayer for the Dying.’’ The son of Nigerian and Brazilian parents, Seal began his musical career playing pop funk and eventually became a hot property on Britain’s house music/rave scene and has since become one of England’s best-selling artists. He is married to German model Heidi Klum, and together, they have two sons.

Seal will perform several of his hits live, including music from his new album, while a cast of Olympic and world-class skaters interpret his music on the ice. Skaters confirmed for the one-time collaboration include Olympic Gold Medalists Kristi Yamaguchi and Brian Boitano, six-time U.S. champion and World champion Todd Eldredge, and three-time U.S. champion and two-time World bronze medalist Michael Weiss. Many more Olympic and world-level skaters will be added to the cast soon.