Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Once - (An Advance Screening) Movie Review

Once (R) 88 minutes A
Starring Alaistair Foley, Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová, and Geoff Minogue

Once is an ode to a girl, and perhaps one of the best music films ever! This is an endearing, inspiring and quietly sad film. It is one that reminds me how shitty a writer I really am; I can't begin to describe how magical this film is. I simply want to write- "Best film of the year so far (PERIOD!)"

Maybe it just caught me on a vulnerable day...? Early on in the film, during their first duet, I had to fight back the tears. At that point I knew this was going to be something special.

In retrospect it almost felt like an 88 minute music video and love story rolled up in one. But it's much more than that, and not your typical musical. This is a near perfect blend of romance and song.

"He" had someone he couldn't forget and "She" had someone she could barely remember. Together they had each other, broken vacuum cleaners, broken hearts ...and lovelorn songs to sing.

Winner of the world cinema dramatic audience award at this year's Sundance, this small gem is well worth a trip to the theater. It's currently out in limited release, but check your local listings!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Waitress & Disturbia - Movie Reviews

Waitress (PG-13) 104 minutes B+
Starring Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Cheryl Hines, Adrienne Shelly, Jeremy Sisto, Andy Griffith, Eddie Jemison, and Lew Temple

Waitress is a delightful and highly enjoyable film. Written and directed by the late Adrienne Shelly (who was murdered last November), it is a well served slice of life film. Jenna (Keri Russell) is a waitress at a small town diner located off the main highway. She's a pie making genius, and trapped in a dreadfully unhappy marriage. When Jenna needs a mental escape, she closes her eyes and invents new pies in her head, for example:"I Hate My Husband Pie" made with bittersweet chocolate. Her husband (Jeremy Sisto) is a total jerk! He's one of those characters that if he was a real person, I'd kick his ass.

What makes Waitress so enjoyable is its subtle and offbeat humor, along with a well-balanced blend of humanistic emotion, romance and comedy. Little things in the film stuck with me long after I left the theater, and although the ending is a little contrived, under the surface the film has plenty of heart.

Disturbia (PG-13) 104 minutes C+
Starring Shia LaBeouf, David Morse, Sarah Roemer, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Matt Craven

Disturbia is a pretty entertaining film. It's not one that will stick with me after leaving the theater, but it was well worth the price of admission (I only paid $2.50). I suspect that the teenage type will enjoy this film more than I did, but that doesn't mean it was bad. The film grabbed me from the get-go, and Shia LaBeouf was an excellent choice to play Kale, the film's protagonist.

After the death of a family member (I won't give away which one) Kale descends into a downward spiral which lands him under house arrest. He's befriended by the new hot chick that just moved into the neighborhood, and together they discover that they may or may not have a serial killer living next door. The films feels a little long but there are a number or suspenseful moments along with a couple laughs here and there.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Shop Boy

Today was shopping day. First stop was the Twisted & Tattered tent sale, essentially a Tattered Cover and Twist and Shout sidewalk sale. It was pretty much what I expected-overstock, obscure, and special interest stuff they couldn't sale. But amongst all of that were a few gems. Items were drastically marked down, and I picked up Neil Finn's first solo album - Try Whistling This for fifty cents, The Breeders - Last Splash and REM - Monster (which I previously only had on cassette) for two dollars each. From there it was on to Argonaut Liquors where RW added to her wine collection.

After breaking for lunch we hit the Mall. Sometimes when I go shopping at the mall I think of Woody Allen's 1991 film -Scene from a Mall. I'm not a big fan of shopping at the Mall, but it is what it is. I bought some new sandals.

After catching a matinee, we visited Old Navy where I bought 2 t-shirts. Then Barnes and Nobles were I bought a reference book on American Writers (bargain bin). On to Target for cat litter, chapstick and other random toiletries, and finally to Lowes for two 5 gallon jugs of water (for RW's water cooler).

I'm not oppose to shopping at all if I'm in the mood and have an adequate amount of fundage. I think my wardrobe is lacking, but whenever I buy clothes lately I'm disenchanted after I bring them home and wear them once or twice. Rarely do I find clothes that look great on me, and it seems that either I've lost my sense of style or men's clothes have gotten uglier, dull, and more expensive. I think the mirrors at those clothing stores are fun house mirrors. Things are not what they appear and are falsely distorted.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

It started recreational and ended kinda medical

The Hold Steady live at the Ogden Theater, May 22nd

I thought that Westword writer Cole Haddon was just being mean when he wrote that The Hold Steady is "fronted by a guy who can't really sing" in last week's issue. But turns out he was absolutely right. Frontman Craig Finn isn't a great singer, he has more of a "talk-singing" thing going on. But his lyrics are borderline genius and pure poetry.

Finn is charismatic, energetic, passionate, and last night he moved around the stage like a dehydrated Helen Keller on speed. Finn looks more like a dentist than a rock star, and his neurosis makes him both interesting and personable.

His lyrics can get a little "wordy" at times, and it's hard to distinguish what he's saying while the band rocks their balls off and he jumps around on stage. During the live show it was a double-edged sword when the band rocked out and the great lyrics were being drowned out. Such was the case during the songs "Chicago seemed tired last night", "Guys go for looks, girls go for status", and "Everyone's a critic and Most people are djs". But overall, I thought this was a good show.

The opening bands were- Swayback and Heartless Bastards. Swayback sounded great as a band- good sound, nice rhythm. But the lead singer's voice didn't fit. His voice sounded a little too theatrical for the music. Heartless Bastards were ok, but slightly underwhelming.

The final grades;
Swayback B-
Heartless Bastards C
The Hold Steady B+

Monday, May 21, 2007

Daddy's Gone

I'm a sucka. One of my many guilty pleasures is watching The Bachelor. Tonight was the season finale and this latest edition (an Officer and a Gentleman) might have been one of the best installments ever! OK- so the guy was a bit of a goof ball and a little cheesy... but I believe that he was genuine- or at least as genuine as one can be on such a show. He picked the right girl and I hope that they last. I thought she had a moon face (no offense) at first, but she eventually won me over. She seems like a real woman and someone who would make a fabulous wife/mother/friend/ yadayadayada.

I started doing some writing exercises today. Nothing major, but I'm reading "Writing Down the Bones" and so far it is really inspiring me to write. Almost every writer I have asked (what books they recommend) have suggested this book.

Today during my writing exercise I wrote about my dad. It was random- but it was a good subject to free write on. I definitely have mixed feelings about not having my dad in my life. I miss talking to him about "adult" matters that we can relate too man-to-man, and I also wish that he was around to help/teach me how to fix and build things.

When I was young I wished him out of my life many times, and now that wish has come true. I always said that the day he and my mom divorced was the happiest moment of my life (up til that point). But I've let go of that anger and the resentment, and part of me can't blame him for being a recluse. God knows I use to fantasize about running away, being alone, and starting anew all the time.

Ultimately, I don't need him in my life- we talk once every year or two and I guess that is enough. I think that my brother needs him more and it's a shame those two don't communicate at all. Hey- it is what it is. I think I'd rather talk to him once a year than talk to him once a day. I'd rather talk to him once a year than never talk to him at all.

I'm tired. Goodnight.

"Religions change; beer and wine remain".
-Hervey Allen

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Here's a few older albums I dusted off and recently listened to.

The Foo Fighters - Nothing Left to Lose
David Bowie - Reality
Mad Season - Above
Better than Ezra - Deluxe
Sinead Oconner - Universal Mother
Mazy Starr - So Tonight That I might See
Freedy Johnston - Never Home
Janet Jackson - The Velvet Rope
Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation
Trespass (Soundtrack) - featuring Ice-T, PE, Donald D, Black Sheep, & more

"God made everything out of nothing, but the nothingness shows through."
-Paul Valery

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Reign Over Me - Movie Review

Reign Over Me (R) 124 minutes C
Starring Adam Sandler, Don Cheadle, Jada Pinkett Smith, Liv Tyler, Saffron Burrows, Donald Sutherland, Robert Klein, Melinda Dillon, and Mike Binder

Charlie Fineman (Sandler) and Alan Johnson (Cheadle) are former college roommates. Charlie lost his wife and daughters on September 11, 2001 and Alan is a successful, but melancholy dentist. Charlie is sad, and years after his tragic loss he still can't seem to function normally in society. Alan is happily married but feels suffocated by his wife, he longs for male bonding time with the boys... Except he doesn't have any male friends.

This film is mainly focused on Charlie's pain, and how it affects and inspires everyone around him. But frankly, that got boring and predictable after awhile. More interesting was:

1. Saffron Burrows - a strikingly beautiful tall drink of water who plays a crazy patient that just wants to give Alan a BJ in the worst way. Her character is intriguing but oddly out of place here.
2. Liv Tyler - I always forget about her until I see her in a film. She's very pretty, she is a classic beauty. But her role in this film also seems a little out of place.
3. Don Cheadle - One of the best actors on the planet! His character was interesting but seemed to lack depth.
4. Adam Sandler - I like him in serious roles, but I couldn't stop thinking that he looked like Bob Dylan.

This film was ok but it just didn't grab me.

In other news, I picked up the new Wilco album today. I was a little worried because most everything I read and heard from people I know said - It's good but it's a slow burn.

One review I glanced at called their new album "Dad Rock" and another said "it's the best Eagles album the Eagles never made." So far I've listened to it 4 or 5 times and it sounds good while I'm working or cleaning the house... few songs have jumped out at me, but it's definitely not bad. It has an old school/classic rock feel to it. These songs will probably sink in one day when I least expect it... it's that kind of album. So far my favorite track is probably "Hate it Here" or "Leave Me (Like You Found Me)".

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Good In Bed

Good In Bed is Jennifer Weiner's debut novel. Like many great bands/musicians their first album is often considered their magnum opus. A friend once told me that a band's first album is always their best. Perhaps it's because they've had a lifetime (till that point) to create that debut.

Although it is true that some bands will never top their debut releases, I believe that the majority of bands evolve, grow and eventually out do their debut albums. Case and point- Radiohead, U2, Public Enemy, Beck, Wilco, and Prince (just off the top of my head) have made impressive debuts but went on to create classic albums.

Such is the case with Jennifer Weiner's Good In Bed. My expectations were high considering that Weiner is one of the major reasons I wanted to become a writer. She's witty, she's smart, and she's laugh-out-loud funny. Good in Bed is also one of RW's favorite books, and one that she has a special affinity for. So I was intrigued...

Good In Bed didn't grab me initially like I thought it would. I guess I expected it to be witty and funny right off the bat (like her blog and like she is in person). But the story has to build and gain momentum before it really takes off. Cannie, the heroine of the story is a 28 year old plus size woman, dealing with all the issues that come with being a professional women, fighting the battle of the bulge, family issues, men, yadayadayada.

Comparisons to Bridget Jones are inevitable, but Weiner's character holds her own and this debut novel only hints at the greatness that followed. Not the best I've ever had, but not bad...in Bed. B-

"I have an intense desire to return to the womb. Anybody's."
-Woody Allen

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Lucky Lisp Was Not Wasted On You

Morrissey - Live at the Fillmore May 9, 2007

Is it wrong to love him? Morrissey, who turns 48 years old this month, put on another electrifying concert at the Fillmore last night. Definitely the loudest show I’ve ever heard at that venue, Moz shows no signs of slowing down. As the messiah of misfits everywhere, Morrissey’s show is almost a religious experience.

The SetList for last night’s show:


My favorites included- Lucky Lisp, Disappointed, Far off Places, and Ganglord. As I was browsing through the Morrissey discography today, I realized he didn’t play anything from Kill Uncle, Maladjusted, and Southpaw Grammar. Arguably three of his most unsuccessful commercial albums, but they are must-haves for Morrissey fans.

Ps. I just realized that he also didn't play anything from Vauxhall & I.

"All of the rumors keeping me grounded, I never said that they were completely unfounded" -Morrissey

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

New Moon on Tuesday

The new Elliot Smith album -New Moon hit store shelves today. I bought it during my lunch hour and so far I'm very very pleased with what I've heard. After a long battle with alcoholism, drugs, and depression, Smith died in October 2003. This album is basically unreleased stuff he wrote and recorded between 1994 & 1997- 24 songs, 2 cds, and some of his best work ever! I can see myself spending lots of solitary hours listening to New Moon.

I've really been struggling with self discipline and self loathing lately. I've been thinking about how I'm going to have to work harder at the things I want or else I'm never going to rise above my own mediocrity. It's easy to say how I'm going to change but actually doing it is another story. It's a constant war inside my head... I can't keep myself away from me. Sometimes I really like myself and sometimes I truly hate myself.

Creatively I'm very disappointed with myself these days. I'm starting to wonder if I'm creative at all...do I have any talent? I'm artistically impotent right now. Going to see Morrissey tomorrow is just what I need... some inspiration. I've been thinking about "average joe" syndrome lately. It crosses my mind now and then. I never thought I'd be an average joe working a 9-5, 5 days a week. In my mind I think I'm special but the reality is that I haven't done anything (yet). In fact, most would consider me an underachiever.

What happen to the man I was 10 years ago? I'm older and wiser now, less likely to take risks, more self conscious, more reclusive, and... I could go on. But all that being said, I do have a lot to be thankful for. I tell myself that everyday, even though some days I don't feel that way.

Sometimes I am my own worst enemy, but that enemy is also what motivates me to rise above. I just have to win the battle (with myself) more than I lose.

"My Mother didn't breast-feed me. She said she liked me as a friend".
-Rodney Dangerfield

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Year of the Dog - Movie Review

Year of the Dog (PG-13) 97 minutes A-

Starring Molly Shannon, Laura Dern, Regina King, Thomas McCarthy, Josh Pais, John C. Reilly, Peter Sarsgaard, and Amy Schlagel

Year of the Dog is one of the best films I've seen so far this year. It is a penetrating story of loss, grief, alienation, and isolation. Mike White wrote and directed this film, and although it has a different ambience than 2002's The Good Girl (also written by White), it features that same down to earth humanistic feel.

Bonus DVD Reviews

Dreamgirls (PG-13) 130 minutes DVD release date May 2007 B+

Starring Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé Knowles, Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover, Anika Noni Rose, Keith Robinson, Jennifer Hudson, and Sharon Leal

Dreamgirls exceeded my expectations. Jennifer Hudson was deserving of the Oscar, Eddie Murphy was also impressive. I'm not a fan of musicals, but this film is top notch.

Confetti (PG-13) 100 minutes DVD release date: March 2007 C-

Starring Martin Freeman, Jessica Stevenson, Stephen Mangan, Meredith MacNeill, Robert Webb, Olivia Colman, Felicity Montagu, Jimmy Carr, Jason Watkins, and Vincent Franklin

A fairly entertaining mockumentary about 3 couples vying for the most original wedding ceremony of the year. Not as funny as the previews suggested...

Thursday, May 3, 2007


I'm not sad, but I'm not happy... That's the head space I've been living in the last few days. Maybe it's life beating me down like a dirty whore. But it's probably just me- over thinking and over analyzing.

In honor of my somewhat disenchanted state of mind, here is a list of 6 movies that made me cry like a little bitch. I'm not embarrassed that I cried, but I am a little embarrassed that 5 of these movies actually evoked enough emotion to make me weep.

6. Dave
5. Selena
4. When a Man Loves a Women
3. Jerry Maguire
2. Titanic
1. Meet Joe Black