Monday, July 30, 2007

Talk to Me - Movie Review

Talk to Me (R) 118 minutes B+
Starring Don Cheadle, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mike Epps, Martin Sheen, Cedric the Entertainer, and Vondie Curtis-Hall

Sometimes the best films are the hardest to write about, such is the case with Talk to Me. This bio-pic is based on the life of Ralph Waldo "Petey" Greene, a Washington DC radio and television personality during the 60's and 70's.

Mr. Greene had an extraordinary life, he dropped out of high school, joined the army, was discharged from the army, and later convicted of armed robbery. He served time at the Lorton Reformatory Prison, and while incarcerated he honed his skills as a DJ.

To say the least, Greene achieved a lot when he got out of prison. In 1978 he was invited to the White House by President Jimmy Carter. This is quite a feat, considering that was then, and I can't imagine someone like Petey Greene being invited to the White House now (in 2007).

Don Cheadle and Chiwetel Ejiofor are outstanding in this film. Cheadle is already one of the best actors on the planet and Ejiofor is quickly becoming one of my favorites (loved him in Woody Allen's Melinda Melinda & Spike Lee's Inside Man).

Respected Wall Street Journal film critic Joanne Kaufman wrote that the dialogue in Talk to Me is "equal parts uptight honky and jumping jive", and some viewers may agree. But watering down the language/dialogue might take away from the artistic integrity of the film. The language isn't always pleasant but it's the way some people felt during those times... and maybe even now (to some extent).

I thought this was a strong film, and one of the best of 2007 thus far... but it may not appeal to all audiences.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Bright Lights and Laser Surgery

I survived (laser) eye surgery this morning. I'd like to thank all my fans, and even the paparazzi for all the gifts and well-wishes.

Today's surgery was preventive (not corrective), and in short, the goal was to laser shut several holes in my retina which had been producing fluid. I was surprisingly calm before surgery, but during the procedure things got a little tense. I experienced more discomfort than I expected, and I am just now starting to feel normal again. For most of the day my eye was very sore accompanied by a dull ache. But maybe the Tylenol is finally starting to kick in.

Currently, Denver is under siege by rain, thunder and lightning. It's kind of cool. I'm home alone with only the sound of weather outside my window. The sky is dark, ominous, and inspiring as I sit here typing by candlelight (very Transylvania).

Suddenly a loud crash of lightning! All power in the house is gone...then re-appears, in the distance I hear sirens... I check on the animals to make sure their ok. The dog is cowering behind the bed, while the cat looks afraid underneath a desk. The lightning crackles strangely, and I'm distracted by each silent flash of outside light.

But anyway- I actually talked to my dad today. It had been two or three years since we last spoke. It was good talking to him. All those feelings of trepidation I felt about him are in the past, and although we'll never be bosom buddies, it feels good to talk to him man-to-man every once in awhile.

A little depression has been weighing on me recently. Talking about it here is tricky, the few people that read my blog worry that I'm a "head case", which might not be too far from the truth, but writing about it is somewhat therapeutic. Besides, we all get a little down sometimes, different people handle it in different ways. For me, I absorb myself in music, film, and/or writing... it's my escape. Some people get drunk, do drugs, have anonymous sex...which, within reason sounds pretty good. But those things are not only self destructive, their dangerous.

Speaking of self destructive- Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton... Hey, I'll admit, I think that all these ladies are hot... but their also crazier than a bag of squirrels! Their all going through some sort of drama queen-identity crisis-self destructive thing right now, but as long as they don't kill themselves first, they will be alright. They will continue to get work, and continue to be rich celebrities well into their golden years. With the exception of Lohan's role in "Mean Girls", it's too bad that none of them have done anything that matters.

Lastly, 13 or so NFL training camps opened today, with more opening in the coming days. Man do I love football! And, as if it's humanly possible, I want to immerse myself in it even more this upcoming season! There are so many aspects of football I'm looking forward too in the coming months. I'm getting excited just thinking about it! Oh how I love my sacred Sundays during the NFL season.

"I put on hooves, horns and an attitude, and nonchalantly find I'm alive."
- A. Cordes of PM Dawn

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Cashback - Movie Review

Cashback (R) 97 minutes C+
Starring Sean Biggerstaff, Emilia Fox, Shaun Evans, Michelle Ryan, Stuart Goodwin, Michael Dixon, Michael Lambourne, and Marc Pickering

I'm assuming that most of you have never heard of the film Cashback. It was originally an Oscar nominated short film (18 minutes) in 2004, that has now been adapted into a full length feature (97 minutes).

Cashback is a whimsical comedy-drama that teeters between goofy comedy and heartfelt drama, when this technique is done well it can truly enhance a story. But in this film, it creates a schizophrenic-type ambience.

Ultimately Cashback is about love and those frozen moments in time that we hold close to our hearts (for better or for worse), yet most will remember Cashback for its artistic ode to the nude female form. Here you will find plenty of nudity; slightly overdone, but completely enthralling.

Film critic James Berardinelli noted that the 2004 Oscar nominated short "gained some degree of notoriety because of its extreme nudity- full-frontal shots of women posed in grocery store aisles while frozen in time." The feature film retains all of this nudity and perhaps more, but Berardinelli also goes on to say that "the act is artistic, not prurient... and it is presented as such. There is nothing erotic about these scenes; they are ethereal."

Despite the sporadic nature of the film, this is a respectable debut feature by Sean Ellis. He has put a fresh twist and on an old formula (boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-tries-to-win-girl-back), created engaging and likable characters, and has given us a hint of his future potential as a filmmaker.

Looking much like a young Dermot Mulroney, the young cast is led by Sean Biggerstaff (you might recognize him as "Oliver Wood"from the Harry Potter movies), Michelle Ryan (soon to be TV's Bionic Woman) and the understated but talented Emilia Fox.

This film is currently in limited release, but I'm told it will be on DVD in certain regions sooner rather than later.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Bob Dylan Disappoints, Watercolors Excite!

Thursday night I went to the Bob Dylan concert at Red Rocks. Opening for Dylan was My Morning Jacket.

This was one of the largest concert crowds I've ever seen. It was a breezy and beautiful night at Red Rocks, the atmosphere was electric and enthusiastic. Unfortunately MMJ came out and played an uneven set, a far cry from that magical night I saw them perform in Boulder a few years ago.

Next up was Dylan, he appeared on stage to an eager and adoring crowd, then he proceeded to deliver one of the most boring shows I've ever seen at Red Rocks. Yes, the man is a legend, and he's wrote some remarkable songs. But I was very underwhelmed Thursday night. This was my second time seeing him and definitely my last unless he does an acoustic tour in small venues.

In other news, here is a my review of the current watercolor exhibit at the Arvada Center. I like watercolors, who knew...?!

To conclude my trilogy of museum visits, today I explored the Arvada Center. Touted as the seventh largest cultural attraction in Denver, the Center is lavish and comfortably spacious. Here, the art has room to breathe and the viewers have space to wrap their heads around the the stunning collection of watercolors.

I was thoroughly impressed by the watercolors I observed today. The colors were beautiful, alive and natural. Some of the most ordinary subjects were awakened with a brilliant mixture of colors, exceptional shading, and smudgy detail. Each picture seem to endlessly bleed and flow into a natural form. I never knew watercolors could look so flawless. I also took notice of the framing today, some of the frames enhanced, while others subtracted from the beauty of the art.

I loved the homegrown feel of the exhibit upstairs (by local artists). One of my favorites included Littleton's S. Williams- Denver Dusk. It romanticized the city and gave it that cool, melancholy, smokey-jazzy vibe. It said to me- whether your just venturing out for cigarettes and milk, or enjoying an expensive dinner at a posh restaurant. The city is quietly mysteries... full of possibility and despair.

In the downstairs gallery (watercolors by Western artists), I fell in love Celeste, a work of art by Al Zerries. At first glance, Celeste is simply a portrait of a beautiful woman in a colorful dress, but at second and third glance you'll notice a strong, sexy and independent woman. There were two or three alluring portraits of women that were eye catching. Their bodies didn't necessarily look soft in watercolors but perhaps it's the enticing use of color that pulled me in.

My only knock against the Arvada Center isn't so much the fault of the Center, but more about the patrons. Many visitors today were extremely loud. My daydreams were frequently interrupted by intrusive voices and boisterous conversations. Even at the DAM (Denver Art Museum) on free Saturday, I didn't remember it being this loud. But all in all I enjoyed my visit today and I am now a big fan of watercolors! (I'm sure Jason and Mike think I'm a sissy now... but I'm still cool).

"Nothing stinks like a pile of unpublished writing." - Sylvia Plath

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Broken English - Movie Review

Broken English (PG-13) 97 minutes B

Starring Parker Posey, Melvil Poupaud, Drea de Matteo, Justin Theroux, Gena Rowlands, Peter Bogdanovich, Tim Guinee, and Josh Hamilton

Caveat - I just had a nice dinner and one too many glasses of wine. So I thought I would sit (and I just opened another bottle of wine) and write a completely brilliant and witty review for Broken English. So here it goes...

Back in the late 70's (or there about), musician Joe Jackson wrote a song called It's Different for Girls. Sometime during the mid 90's Chris Isaak wrote a song called Pretty Girls Don't Cry. These two songs remind me of how some girls will never experience the type of loneliness that I have felt... even when their lonely, it's a different type of loneliness. Chris Issak sang "pretty girls don't cry, they know exactly what to do."

In the film Broken English, Nora Wilder (Parker Posey) is a pretty girl, but she doesn't know it. Some would say that's the best kind of pretty girl. But the down side is, she doesn't know she's pretty, so she thinks she's crazy.

This film is all about a girl... excuse me, a woman, trying to find love. I don't want to make too many assumptions about the main character because (obviously) I've never been a woman. But I can speak about being in my late 20's/early 30's and being the "single guy". Essentially, Nora is the "single girl" (translation= something is wrong with you because you haven't found a man), and she's not having any luck finding Mr. Right.

In the real world there are many reasons why beautiful people can't find love... and in this film it is evident why Nora can't find love. People these days have so many preconceived notions of what love should feel like, look like and be like. Yet, does anyone really know? Sure, there are some core values/rules when it comes to love but for the most part it should be observed on a case by case bases. Half the battle is timing and luck. Love is one of life's biggest mysteries, but that's part of what makes it so incredible yet so painful.

When you analyze Broken English, one can run through a gamut of cliches such as; love yourself first, there's more to life than being in a relationship, don't sleep with him on the first date, yadayadayada... But what I took most from this film is that my loneliness might be different from her loneliness, but it all hurts the same.

I liked Broken English but it's not for everyone. It's a little talky, and it definitely has that "indie" feel. The feelings may not resonate with all of you as it did with me. But I think this film is a decent character study of a person desperately wanting to be loved, hating her own desperation, and being in love with love. It's not all wine and roses, but sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a bigger frog that is more financially secure :-)

Really quickly, I want to say that I'm a huge Michael Vick fan! He's one of the most exciting athletes on the planet. But, if what they say is true, it's not only sick, it's despicable! If he did the crime, he must do the time.

It's easy for me to say because I'm not in their shoes, but If I was a millionaire I think I could find plenty of hobbies that don't involve murder, maiming, and abuse. Jesus! What's the appeal in seeing animals beat the sh*t out of each other? I've seen some freaky sh*t, but damn bro! Vick can do most anything he wants and this is what he gets off on...?

For anybody else that has so much money that they don't know what to do with, or your thinking about investing in a dogfighting or cockfighting ring. I'll save you the money and the jail time, just send your cash (check or money order) to Curtis, c/o of My Gray Morning @

"For birth control I rely on my personality." - Milt Abel

Monday, July 16, 2007

Joshua - Movie Review

Joshua (R) 90 minutes B

Starring- Sam Rockwell, Vera Farmiga, Celia Weston, Dallas Roberts, Michael McKean, Jacob Kogan, Nancy Giles, and Linda Larkin

Joshua might be a film you haven't heard of, and it's bound to get lost amongst the legion of Harry Potter and Ratatouille moviegoers. But if you like psychological thrillers and creepy little kids, this is the film for you!

Critics have tauted this film as being very Hitchcockean... Perhaps Jacob Kogan, the young actor starring as Joshua is a young Anthony Perkins in the making..? This film initially feels like a cross between watered down Hitchcock and Twin Peaks. But after some annoying piano music near the beginning of the film, Joshua settles into a groove and stands on it's own.

Nine-year-old Joshua Cairn (Jacob Kogan) is the prodigy son of Brad (Sam Rockwell) and Abby (Vera Farmiga) Cairn. Josuha is one of those children that doesn't take after Mom or Dad, and he's definitely the black sheep of the family. But as parents, you love your children unconditionally... or do you? What if your son or daughter was simply rotten! A bad seed! What do you do?

The Cairn family has a newborn baby, mom is struggling with postpartum depression, dad is under a lot of stress at work, and their nine-year-old manchild might be a murder.

This film is a little bit of a downer, but it's an interesting look inside the lives of two parents at their wits end. I couldn't help but wonder throughout the film, what would I do?

In other news, another weekend is in the books. It was a very busy weekend, with the highlight being RW completing her 1st triathlon. Congratulations!

I also went to the Vance Kirkland Museum this weekend, there is no question that the Kirkland museum is an exquisite building, but my overall impressions were slightly mixed.

The Kirkland collection is full of explosive colors and retro-hip decorative components. The boundless collage of color and shape is slightly overwhelming and demands careful viewing. Artistically, there is so much going on it's hard to focus on one thing, and as a result the finer pieces are overshadowed by the endless assortment of items. That being said, the cozy home-like atmosphere is very charming, and amongst all of the decorative art, I found two breathe taking areas.

The Sculpture Garden Patio is both beautiful and tranquil, and the Vance Kirkland Workroom is romantically artistic and pensive. Cluttered with books, paints, and a paint-stained work table, I could almost smell of wet paint and inspiration. The clutter in the workroom is a natural clutter, very realistic and organic, oppose to the over-filled glass cabinets in the main showroom. The entire museum is bittersweet this way. Full of brilliant touches in some spaces, while over done in others.

One of my favorite pieces was the subtle and plain Ablution and Farewell by Norman Kester. Ironically, this is one of the most colorless pieces of art in the Kirkland collection. It reminded me of my childhood, and hanging clothes out to dry with my grandmother.

All in all, the Vance Kirkland is worth visiting because there is something for everyone.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Search for Sky Blue Sky

I've been listening to the latest Son Volt album, The Search and the latest Wilco album, Sky Blue Sky. I'm trying to determine which one I like best. I enjoy both bands but neither album grabbed me initially. That being said, both albums have the potential to grow on me.

The Search is a hard listen, I had to listen to it multiple times before I started finding the gems. It seems like a very mature and serious album, once I dig deeper into the lyrics I think I'll find The Search very rewarding.

Sky Blue Sky is a very easy listen, but few of the songs stand on their own. It might sound silly but I miss that weird vibe that I usually get from a Wilco album.

In other news, I'm a little behind on my movie reviews. This has been a really inconsistent year so far. For a month or two there are tons of movies I want to see, and other times there is nothing I want to see for weeks.

Anyway, you should have a few reviews by next week.

Lastly, I added a hit counter to my blog. I'm very excited about this addition. But I wonder if it counts when I read my blog.... If so, that might account for 90% of my hits.

"I have seen the truth, and it doesn't make sense."
- Unknown

Monday, July 9, 2007

Zach Braff's mix tape, It'll save your life

After work today I went to Super Target. The gift certificate my friend gave me was burning a hole in my pocket! Last night I made a list, checked it twice and even remembered to bring it with me today.

Once I was there, I got everything from my list and nothing else caught my eye. So as I headed to the checkout counter with cat litter, mouthwash, a cookie scented candle, and varies other household goodies, I decided I should get something fun. So I browsed through the books...nothing good. I grazed through the cds, and the only thing that grabbed me was The Last Kiss soundtrack. It has been on my "want" list since last year so I figured what the heck.

Some people have an addiction to shoes, I have an addiction to music... It's a sickness really.

Anyway, I loved the film and the soundtrack is also exceptional. "We all make choices. What's yours?" <--- (that's from the film)

In other news, I put some old furniture out for the trash collection yesterday. Trash is not picked up until Tuesday (yesterday was Sunday) and within hours it was all gone. Before my neighbors next door moved back to Virginia they had numerous yard sales, and after several weeks of this they finally left a bunch of stuff on the sidewalk with a sign that said-FREE! That FREE stuff sat there for days and days and days.

My junk is no better than their junk, but I put my stuff in the alley. Apparently the alley is a more appealing area. It's all about location, location, location!

"One man's folly is another man's wife." - Helen Rowland

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Best of 2007 so far... and the Denver Art Museum

This is a mid-year progress report... the best of 2007 so far...

1. Once
2. Knocked Up
3. Year of the Dog
4. I Think I Love My Wife
5. Waitress

1. Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger
2. Elliot Smith - New Moon
3. Nine Inch Nails - Year Zero
4. Michael Penn - Palms & Runes, Tarot & Tea
5. Once - Motion Picture Soundtrack

1. Henry Rollins - A Dull Roar
2. Chuck D - Lyrics of a Rap Revolutionary

It's Saturday night, it's late... This house is hot, and I've had one too many cocktails. Half of 2007 has passed us by, and it is only two months from the beginning of the NFL regular season (less than six months until Christmas). So far 2007 has been a decent year for films, but I think the best is yet to come.

Musically, many of my favorite artists (Wilco, Pete Yorn, Morrissey) have released interesting if not vital music. But there is a lot I haven't heard (yet).

Rarely do I read a lot of new books due to my backlog of old books. But being the music geek I am, I did manage to read 2007 releases by Henry Rollins and Chuck D. These aren't necessarily the best books of 2007, but their my favorites so far.

The Denver Art Museum... A review
My journey at the art museum began with the collected Japanese Art of John and Kimiko Powers. Upon entering the gallery, the most eye catching piece of art was Andy Warhol's distinctive and colorful portraits of John and Kimiko. Like many of Warhol's paintings, it demands attention, but these two "pop" portraits almost felt out of place once I digested the rest of the collection. This was an impressive collection, but I didn't find any of it particularly daring or precarious. The collection was dominated by ink on paper, ink on color and silk, ink on color and golden leaf, and basically ink on varies materials. Most appealing were the pieces that evoked a mood, often these pieces featured hazy scenery, houses, and people. One example of this was the simple yet elegant Autumn Landscape in the Style of Yosa Buson (Late Edo Period).

Next stop was the Anschutz Gallery. As soon as I entered the gallery I was staggered by the vibrant colors and exquisite mood of the art. Many of these pieces would represent my definition of art; unexplained, radical, disturbing, beautiful, and alluring. As I turned each corner I found a new favorite. Ultimately I settled on Jenny Saville's Hem, a 1999 oil painting on canvas; it struck me as warm, humanistic, familiar, and beautiful in its honesty. Another exciting piece was Love Your Neighbor, an oil and painting on canvas by Marlene Dumas. The Dumas painting displayed an amazing contrast of color, as well as being comforting and engaging. I liked many of the pieces here, and this gallery was by far my favorite.

I concluded my journey at the Dietler Gallery of Western Art. After visiting the Anschutz Gallery, this one felt very subdued and humdrum. Here, I discovered some nice Indian portraits, but being at the Dietler was like eating fast food, after dining at a five star restaurant. The oil paintings in the rustic golden frames seemed amateurish, and the Cowboy and Indian pieces were well done but ultimately seemed antiquated and under whelming. In all honesty, the Anschutz Gallery was a hard act to follow, and perhaps once I know more about this type art (Western Art), I'll have a better appreciation.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Sicko - Movie Review

Before I get to the movie reviews, I have to say that I had a laudable 35th birth anniversary yesterday. I am appreciative and lucky that I have so much love in my life. I am truly grateful and thankful, despite my occasional gloomy disposition.

Yesterday was capped off with a delectable meal at the Vesta Dipping Grill. Some of the sexy dipping sauces we tried included Pistachio Mint, Grilled Onion Jam, and Spicy Ancho.

My weekend was mellow, and I felt like a killjoy for not wanting to do much. I guess I had a lot on my mind and I admit that I spent a great deal of time pondering my vitality. As we all continue to mature, the world grows more and more surprising in every extreme. The older we get, the greater the fear. I will continue to be humbled, thankful, pessimistic, and a dreamer.

Sicko (PG-13) 113 minutes B-
Starring Michael Moore

I consider Michael Moore's films to be educational, I think that large amounts of people (especially young people) should see his films. Moore always hits upon critical points and touches a nerve, but perhaps he goes a little overboard with his sarcasm and japing. That being said, I can't blame Moore for his tone. Today's society is all about one-up-man-ship, and us versus them mentalities. So many people will take a film like Sicko personally, it's too bad that those people can't see the film for what it is... an alarming and depressing look at Health Care in America.

Not that this is a political film, but Moore's politics scare and anger people. If this film had been made by a no-name director, and without Moore's wit, editorialism, and politics... you'd have a less entertaining film, but you'd also have an Oscar nominated documentary.

My only knock on the film is that it feels longer than 113 minutes. Even though I'm not giving this an A or a strong B, this film worth checking out.

----------------------Bonus DVD review-------------------------------------

This Film is Not Yet Rated (Not Rated) 97 minutes B
DVD release date January 23, 2007
Starring Kirby Dick, John Waters, Kevin Smith, Matt Stone, Kimberly Peirce, Darren Aronofsky, Atom Egoyan, and Maria Bello

To conclude my weekend of documentary film, I recommend the charming This Film is Not Yet Rated. Who knew that the American movie ratings board was so interesting and scandalous. Plus, I didn't know that Private Eye's still existed for anything other than spying on cheating lovers.

This is a good rental!