Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Apartment hunting in the big apple! Back next week.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Dude's been missed.

Two years after the break-up of Hot Snakes and Rocket From The Crypt, John Reis finally has a new combo. Ladies and gents, The Night Marchers!

Also of note, Rick Froberg's Obits!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I'll be there for you...will you be there for me too?

So Cloverfield does the plot of The Host (people retreating from a monster attack are forced to return thanks to a distressed phone call from a loved one, while the government tries to kill the beast and quarantine those who got infected by it) like it's The Blair Witch Project (entirely shot from a character's POV), and I don't prefer it to either of its antecedents. In BWP you had no idea what was lurking beyond the camera's scope, in Cloverfield you know its a monster movie. The Host had more engaging performers, arguably an even more exciting monster, and themes that went far beyond "we don't appreciate life until Godzilla takes it away." The action in The Host may have been less IN-YO-FACE, but it also never felt like mere noise.

Critics seem to be harping on the unlikability of the characters, but during the opening sequence I found them no more annoying than the cast of a halfway decent CW pilot. I was almost disappointed that this modest comedy of manners was so rudely interrupted by the beastie, as I knew nothing novel would come from the actors after (other than the implication that nothing matters more to people today than self-documentation). I'm grateful that the 9/11-xploitation of the ad campaign was barely present, and as far as high-concept B-movies go, this is easily one of the most realized.

If they really wanted to capitalize on an "unlikeable" cast, they might have thought about this one:

Rob - David Schwimmer
Beth - Jennifer Aniston
Jason - Matthew Perry
Lily - Courtney Cox
Hud - Matt LeBlanc
Marlena - Lisa Kudrow

Think about it, won't you? Thank you.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I may have been disappointed by Pan's Labyrinth, but at least it attempts to subvert expectations and revamp stock storylines. The Lives Of Others spends its last fifteen minutes in flash forward after flash forward in search of a happy ending, settling for an epilogue that implies no good deed goes unrecognized. Aww. It's not even the best film released last year to feature Sebastian Koch discovering his office was bugged.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Leila once spotted him at a coffee shop in Brooklyn. She didn't recognize him at first, just thought she was watching a ridiculously good-looking guy making faces at a baby seated at the table across from him.

I feel selfishly relieved that his death was most likely accidental. If he succeeds in making one of the most cartoonishly morbid characters in film history his own, it won't be awkward or nauseating, just tragic.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The song is underrated enough (guitars the glossy cousin of "Pretty Persuasion," released the same year, and the singer's anger makes the off-rhyme of "love" and "up" in the second pre-chorus sound not so much forced as evidence that he's too pre-occupied to deal with niceties), but NOBODY ever told me how crazy the video is. The band isn't seen performing the chorus until the last minute. Instead, we get footage of wild horses. And why pause the woman-scorned drama for thirty seconds of slo-mo ponies anyway? Metaphor? Why do we hear the gunshot? Why is the tramp pawing the wedding singer? Is he the cheater? Is that why the bride steps on the burning guitar? All this as well as the cars, fireballs and ugly beardos you expect from early '80s AOR videos (I love when you catch the singer looking down at his guitar, like it matters if his hand is at the right fret). Now that video budgets have been dramatically slashed, it's time for this kind of unrefined pretension to make a comeback.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Ten things Christopher Nolan could put in The Dark Knight that would make me stop wishing someone else was directing it.

1. Robert Wuhl cameo
2. And end to Christian Bale's raspy "Batman" voice. No previous Bat-lead felt the need to make a distinct, monster-like voice for the character, because no one else was thinking like a five year old.
3. Joker dancing to a minor Prince single.
4. Harvey Dent's courtroom acid splash, filmed in DePalma-esque slo-mo.
5. Twice as much screen time for Cillian Murphy than he got in the last one.
6. Batman realizing his commando vehicle looks like a clump of charcoal, and deciding it could do with a little more style.
7. No one saying anything like "you've never tasted desperate," "justice is balance," or "my anger outweighs my guilt."
8. Robert Wuhl cameo
9. Eric Roberts' "Salvatore Maroni" and Anthony Michael Hall's "Mike Engel" getting a combined screen time of one minute.
10. The Joker asking Batman if he's feeling "itchy."

Not that I won't be seeing it either way.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Here's my ballot for the Idolator Pop Critics Poll. I miss the Dean's List. I miss the Dean (the DEAN, mind you) shaping everyone's comments to his whims (I don't want to read countless unedited, self-involved spiels). I miss his year-end essays. Supposedly my Hinder "campaign" got ref'd in that EMP-only wrap-up last year, and it would have done my heart good to see it for myself. I guess I should be grateful and Father Time are consenting to keep the Consumer Guide afloat. Sigh.

ALBUMS (descending points)
1. LCD Soundsystem - Sound Of Silver
2. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
3. Electric Six - I Shall Exterminate Everything Around Me That Restricts Me From Being The Master
4. White Stripes - Icky Thump
5. Queens Of The Stone Age - Era Vulgaris
6. Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank
7. Lloyd - Street Love
8. !!! - Myth Takes
9. The Stooges - The Weirdness
10. Low - Drums And Guns

1. Ne-Yo - Because Of You
2. Justin Timberlake - LoveStoned/I Think That She Knows...
3. The Cribs - Men's Needs
4. !!! - Must Be The Moon
5. Good Charlotte - Dance Floor Anthem (I Don't Wanna Be In Love)
6. Maroon 5 - Makes Me Wonder
7. Avril Lavigne feat. Lil' Mama - Girlfriend (Remix)
8. Timbaland feat. The Hives - Throw It On Me
9. Bobby Valentino feat. Timbaland - Anonymous
10. Modest Mouse - Dashboard

Double sigh! Three people each voted for Electric Six, !!! and the Stooges, and four voted for Lloyd, so I guess my albums ballot is unique enough. But as retarded as it sounds, I'm a little embarassed that six of the albums I enjoyed most this year came from popular hipster rock combos that made the poll's top 100. How common! I need to start scouring myspace for unheralded combos that will give my ballot a little more novelty next year (my singles ballot is the dorky dance party it should be).

Here's an alternate ballot featuring ten of the fifteen unrepresented 2007 albums I still have in their entirety, ranked in order of Idolator unpopularity.

1. Enrique Iglesias, Insomniac (no votes)
2. Bryan Ferry, Dylanesque (no votes)
3. Michael Hurley, The Ancestral Swamp (1 vote)
4. Rakes, Ten New Messages (1 vote)
5. Timbaland, Timbaland Presents: Shock Value (1 vote)
6. Chromeo, Fancy Footwork (2 votes)
7. R. Kelly, Double Up (3 votes)
8. Weakerthans, Reunion Tour (3 votes)
9. Shocking Pinks, Shocking Pinks (6 votes)
10. Rihanna, Good Girl Gone Bad (9 votes)

ENRIQUE IGLESIAS? That Dylan cover album with the butt nasty cover? Shock Value? WTF DUDE? Now I feel better.

(The other five albums I've kept: Against Me!, the Black Lips, Les Savy Fav, Marnie Stern and Tegan & Sara. For some reason I hold 2006 UK release dates against bands like the Fratellis and the Brakes, even though I'm huffy in the other way about movie release dates. I'd make exceptions for truly undeniable delayed albums, though.)

(See what I mean about unedited ballot comments?)

Monday, January 14, 2008

DVD Of The Week

The most accurate criticsm of The Ten I've read is that it's a 13-year-old's take on Monty Python. I'd replace "13-year-old" with "post-SNL," but I can't think of a film since Holy Grail that so valued comedy over narrative, refusing to give us a single scene of laugh-free exposition or closure. Even Mr. Show, which mastered the form on TV, went with a stock character progression when they made Run, Ronnie, Run. Director David Wain's previous film, Wet Hot American Summer, while nearly as irreverent and successful, still followed a standard story arc in the tradition of Mel Brooks and Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker. The Ten is so unblinking and accurate in its mockery of cinematic cliche that it almost seems nihilistic. If you don't feel included in the humor (like the person who wrote "oh so when it suddenly gets unfunny I'm supposed to laugh at THAT?" on imdb), sitting through The Ten must feel like watching a high school Quiz Bowl team discover they can suck their own dicks. As a crude media nerd whose friendships frequently involve the recollection of Simpsons quotes, I think this is the best comedy of the decade.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Dear God, Time-Life thinks I have this much money to spend on revisiting my adolescence.

I'm comfortable with Mark McGrath hosting Extra (what better gig for the leader of the most admirable sell-out rock act of the 90s than celebrity journalism?), but it's embarassing to see him smiling through 30 minute infomercials for The Buzz Box. That really seems like something Art Alexakis or the dude from Fuel should be doing. After all, McGrath still has his Extra gig. Sugar Ray just headlined Singapore's first international musical festival this August! Infomericals fondly recalling songs by Vertical Horizon, Eve 6 and Candlebox? This is beneath you, dude.

Things seemed so much more promising in 2004, when Shania Twain invited him to duet on her single "Party For Two." There's so much enthusiastic mugging here, you'd think an NBC logo was about fly out of his ass.

It's funny how differently the video for the "country" version plays out, despite its identical treatment. Where Billy Currington sways gentlemanly beside the beaming Twain, McGrath's frenetic moves leave her visibly weary. Both versions feel like they were released much, much, much, much earlier than 2004. Nobody in music is that happy now.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hello, you bastards. I am here to present you with a story. One day when I was playing with my Ron Popeil food dehydrater, it occured to me: you all suck. How's that for a story? I've got another one. Dear everyone, you suck. How's that? Have you ever heard the expression, "suck the shit out of my ass?" Just wondering.
From "Der Springer."

I am proud to present Letters From Andy, an ever-expanding resource compiling the correspondence and erotic fiction of a gentleman considered by a privileged few to be both the Henry Miller and the William S. Burroughs of central Pennsylvania. Not for the humorless, not for the weak of heart, and not safe for work.

Some recent highlights:

Spasm, a rumination on the legacy of Allen Ginsberg

The confessional Hey.

Smoke, Poisoned Freedom, Diseased Tongues Of Lies, a poetic critique of George W. Bush.

A Special Night With The Family Dog, the story of a boy screwing his family dog.

Please tell your nastier, more seasoned peers about the delicious work of this undiscovered literary genius.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Itunes' #1 rock song of 2007, a total rip off of "Take Me Out," an anomalous jam from typically boogie-free butt-rockers, a much better role model for hit-seeking rock-donkeys than Nickelback, welcome evidence that Electric Six could have a hit someday.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

This was hip once.

I took the thirty or so cassettes I still own back to State College over Christmas - the only cassette player I still have access to is the one in my mom's car (My VHS collection will head home before I move to NY as well; it's all about friends, family and outdated media whenever I visit). The first tape I put on was Urge Overkill's The Supersonic Storybook, beating out such worthy contenders as Teenage Fanclub's Bandwagonesque, Girls Against Boys' House Of GVSB, Sugar's Besides and mixtapes with names like Listenable Out Of Unlistenable No. 3, Gimme Indie Schlock! and Shake Some Jangle.

A new CD of The Supersonic Storybook costs less than $10 on Amazon, and I'll buy it eventually. Christgau gives the album a C in the consumer guide, accusing the flashy dandies of "mix-and-match hipster one-upsmanship." That quality isn't as easy to hear as the "sludgy hooks, whiner groans, and arrogant exoticism" today, and that arrogance that has been rendered merely ridiculous by the ravages of time and a lack of success outside of a Neil Diamond cover (which means no songwriting royalties of note for King Roeser, Nash Kato and Blackie Onassis).

Examples of said one-upsmanship and exoticism: reading off the big cities in which "The Kids Are Insane," promoting a "Bionic Revolution," covering Hot Chocolate's melodramatic suicide ode "Emma," and writing their own six minute tale of Native American love and warfare, "Henhough: The Greatest Story Ever Told," immediately followed by the instrumental "Theme From Navajo." My favorite track is "Vacation In Tokyo," which mourns a love who's left Nash and/or King "feelin' the breeze," begging God to "give me back my fantasy." Finally, he asks that girl remember him in his robe on their vacation in Tokyo, as the song climaxes with a repeated run through the opening notes of the Vapors' "Turning Japanese." I shit you not.

In the 90s update of Stairway To Hell, Chuck Eddy, praising them for "making fun of '70s AOR riff-fully and tunefully enough to pass for both satire and the item itself," also observes that these guys could be "Replacements-flimsy," with wimpy vocals that don't quite fit the hey-baby fashion sense. It's that odd presence of a heart on their leisure suit sleeve that endears me to the band. Their last album (though a reunion is afoot), 1995's Exit The Dragon, is a beautiful drag full of heartbreak and angst, peaking with their then-junkie drummer's overdose ballad "The Mistake," which conveys plenty of tragic pathos despite opening with "Travellin' 'cross the USA, it's hard sometimes to keep it together. Nothing but the songs that you play, and a couple kids believin' your sound." It's as if critics misjudged these guys, assuming they were too-cool-for-school jack-offs when rawk cliches and artifice were their only means of expression. Their legacy may be the sole property of clearance CD bins, like so many of their Geffen Records peers, but the final product is more dynamic and affecting than most of the fuzz the era provided.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Daniely Day-Lewis will next appear in 2010's The Diabolical Mr. McGillicutty, tying a woman to the railroad tracks.

Five titles that would have more accurately captured the atmosphere of Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood, the latest critical favorite to starkly depict The Evil That Men Do.

1. Oil!

2. Bill The Butcher Goes West

3. Beverly Hillbillies: Year One

4. A Moustache For All Seasons

5. Citizen Kane Too: Don't Mess With Texas

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

By my accounting, I saw 60 "2007" movies in 2007 (I excluded anything I couldn't finish, so in some sense Hannibal Rising might be considered better than Who's Your Caddy? if you're into considering things like that). Here they are, in order of preference.

1. The Ten
2. The Host
3. Knocked Up
4. Planet Terror
5. Superbad
6. Spider-Man 3
7. Notes On A Scandal
8. Breach
9. Balls Of Fury
10. Venus
11. Reno 911: Miami!
12. Shoot ‘Em Up
13. Away From Her
14. Black Book
15. Hostel: Part II
16. Bourne Ultimatum
17. Children Of Men
18. Lookout
19. Live Free Or Die Hard
20. Namesake
21. Enchanted
22. Shooter
23. Hot Fuzz
24. 3:10 To Yuma
25. Hawk Is Dying
26. Gone Baby Gone
27. Transformers
28. Hot Rod
29. Ocean’s Thirteen
30. Eastern Promises
31. Redacted
32. I Think I Love My Wife
33. Zodiac
34. No Country For Old Men
35. Talk To Me
36. Alone With Her
37. Southland Tales
38. Blades Of Glory
39. Alpha Dog
40. Severance
41. I Know Who Killed Me
42. Letters From Iwo Jima
43. Pan’s Labyrinth
44. Black Snake Moan
45. 28 Weeks Later
46. Perfect Stranger
47. Halloween
48. Mr. Brooks
49. Aqua Teen Hunger Force: The Movie
50. Death Proof
51. Rescue Dawn
52. Ghost Rider
53. 1408
54. Smokin Aces
55. Number 23
56. TV Set
57. Vacancy
58. Dead Silence
59. Hannibal Rising
60. Fracture

New year's resolution: watch fewer crappy horror movies. In two months I'll be moving in with my girlfriend - not a noted gorehound - and no longer working at a video store, so this should be pretty easy.

Movies On Metacritic's Best Reviewed Movies of 2007 I haven't seen, and why.

1. Ratatouille (Disney, movie where critic learns an important lesson)
2. There Will Be Blood (Played for ONE WEEK in TWO THEATRES in 2007 so fuck you to anyone who calls it a 2007 movie, you are an Oscar season shill and part of the problem)
3. Killer Of Sheep (The fifteen minutes of Army Of Shadows I saw was boring)
4. Diving Bell And The Butterfly (Because I don't know anything about it)
5. Persepolis (animated, released in America on Christmas)
6. No End In Sight (current event doc burnout, George Clooney box quote)
7. Once (didn't get around to it over preview weekend, stars one of the Commitments and nobody acknowledges that)
8. This Is England (mistook it for a doc on skinheads and/or Joe Strummer during preview weekend)
9. The Savages (Indie family comedy is risky enough that I tend to wait for DVD, see Margot At The Wedding)
10. Offside (Box cover is very Bend It Like Beckham, no idea if the film is or not)
11. Atonement (no.)
12. In The Shadow Of The Moon (I have no idea what this is)
13. King Of Kong: A Fistful Of Quarters ("Gordon's feature directorial debut mostly stops being about video-game obsession and turns into a film about what it takes to make it in America.")
14. Triad Election (Nobody told me it was a critically acclaimed!)

"Preview weekend" refers to the weekend before a movie is released on DVD, during which staff at my store are allowed to watch it for free, as we won't have the opportunity again until it comes off the New Release wall. You'd think I'd be sorry to lose this boon, but last week I watched most of Living & Dying, a hostage thriller starring Edward Furlong and Bai Ling. I obviously cannot be trusted with this kind of privilege.