Thursday, November 29, 2007

Food is Love

Food Porn- my top five guilty pleasures: cheese (in all its glorious forms), hot wings (specifically Hooters), breakfast burritos, pho, and powdered doughnuts. This morning I skipped my healthy breakfast (an apple and yogurt) and gave in to sin. A pack of powered doughnuts and a cup of java. To justify this decision I told myself that I would only eat a few of the doughnuts with my Irish creme coffee, and eat the rest later. Of course I devoured the entire pack within a matter of minutes. Still cool.

As some of you know, Paste is one of my favorite publications. A couple days ago I received their best of 2007 issue. I was pleasantly surprised to see some of my favorite films of the year make their list, especially films like Year of the Dog and Once. Two films that I was afraid would be forgotten.

Musically, a lot of the big names made their list: Ryan Adams, Kanye West, Josh Ritter, the Shins, Springsteen, Spoon, Wilco, etc... but their number one was a band that I have never heard of- The National? The album is called Boxer, and apparently it's pretty great. Guess I'll have to check it out.

RW and I are beginning to prepare for Sundance 2008. It should be a lot of fun. If anyone is interested in going drop me a line. It's a fairly inexpensive trip (to Utah), and we'll probably only be there for a long weekend. It's pretty low key, but it's cool to be around people that love films and it's really cool to learn the stories behind the films.

Speaking of Sundance, the Independent Spirit Award nominations came out earlier this week... check it out (scroll down to see the categories and the nominees)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

No Country for Old Men - Movie Review

No Country for Old Men (R) 122 minutes B
No Country for anyone
Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson, and Kelly Macdonald

Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles upon a butt load of cash and a bunch of dead guys. Either you take the money and run, or you run! But of course, in the movies logic goes out the window.
This was my first problem with the film, because I found myself thinking, "no one would ever be that stupid!" or "no one would do it that way!"

But as the story unfolds, the Cohen Brothers takes us on one of the oddest and intriguing thrill rides of the year. Initially, the film plays like a violent and brutal episode of Twin Peaks, but by the end I was applauding its style and originality (the film is an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel).

Javier Bardem is unforgettable and Oscar worthy and Tommy Lee Jones is also outstanding. This film was a little bit of a slow burn for me, but it's worth seeing and undeniably enthralling.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

American Gangster - Movie Review

American Gangster (R) 157 minutes B-
The Boyscout vs The Apprentice
Starring Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Cuba Gooding Jr., Josh Brolin, Yul Vazquez, Armand Assante, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Ted Levine

American Gangster is a good film and a compelling film... but it's not a great film. Denzel Washington is intense, captivating and always a pleasure to watch. Russell Crowe and Josh Brolin are also terrific.

But frankly, I found the film to be a slightly underwhelming and drawn out. The material here seemed a little too familiar even though it was well constructed and nicely done. Surprisingly the film had little or no emotional impact on me despite finding most of the characters very likable.

American Gangster is a lot like the last Pearl Jam album I bought... I went in expecting (hoping for) a classic, but what I got was a "nice", entertaining album that's better than most...but didn't quite live up to my expectations.

Lions for Lambs (R) 88 minutes C+
Metacommunication for Lions & Lambs
Starring Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Michael Pena, Derek Luke, and Andrew Garfield

This film probably isn't for everyone, and it is a little talky... but there is some important and interesting things being said.

In a nutshell the film is basically three parts- Activism/Getting Involved, Politics/Media and War/Sacrifice.

The film is a bit of a downer but performances by Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep are worth the price of admission.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

West 36th Ave, Sayonara!

Today I said good-bye to the old house on West 36th Ave... my first house. It was a good starter home I suppose. I learned a lot. I thought I would live there for a long long time, but life has a way of throwing curve balls.

When I walked out the door for the final time, I turned and looked around... I saw highlights and low lights from the last two years and four months.

The old house encapsulated a lot of my personality. It was an underdog from day one. It was (and still is) a work in progress, and despite its uniqueness it remains an acquired taste. The first meal I ever ate in that house was the last meal I eat today- Sesame Chicken from China Dragon (Chinese takeout).

Right now I'm listening Lyle Lovett - Joshua Judges Ruth. This is such a beautiful and introspective album. I think that every song on this album is perfect except for one, Church. That is the one and only song on the entire album I don't like (my apologies to Paul, I think I told you I liked that song).

Songs like She's Already Made Up Her Mind and She's Leaving Me Because She Really Wants To are so tragically beautiful. While the tunes North Dakota and Flyswatter/Ice Water Blues transcends place and time and takes me to another corner of my imagination. Pretty amazing stuff!

Finally, we had a yard sale today. We sold more stuff than I expected we would, the biggest surprise being all the books we sold. RW's old books were a popular attraction. I wouldn't be surprised to see them pop up in a used book store around town next week. As for my stuff, I'm always surprised that any one would be interested in my old junk... but I managed to make $30. That's about $30 more than I expected to make today.

"The only normal people are the ones you don't know very well." - Lewis Mumford

Friday, November 16, 2007

In Between Days

I'm back! Sorry about the long pause between postings. We have relocated to a new home and thanks to a snafu by Qwest, we have been without Internet service (at home) for a week. In between moving boxes, unpacking boxes, school and work... I acquired some new music:

Bruce Springsteen - Magic = C
I read a review somewhere that said this album is much more inspired than The Rising (his last rockin album with the E Street band). Well I beg to differ! While The Rising wasn't a masterpiece, it definitely exudes a sense of urgency, not to mention some of Springsteen's most inspired work (Lonesome Day, My City of Ruins). After 3 or 4 listens, Magic has it's moments but generally lacks "magic" as an album thus far.

Foo Fighters - Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace = B
A pretty good album that I think will only get better. A nice rebound after the overly ambitious double album In Your Honor.

Neil Young - Chrome Dreams II = B-
Neil Young is a great musician, but songs clocking in at 18 and 11 minutes don't really tickle my fancy... at least put them at the end of the album. Ordinary People is a great song that just goes on too long. Beautiful Bluebird and Dirty Old Man are vintage Young.

In other news - I also managed to catch a book signing at the Tattered Cover. Author Stewert O'Nan was pimping his latest novel Last Night at the Lobster. A poignant, blue collar tale about the closing of a Connecticut Red Lobster. It may sound elementary on the surface, but it's supposedly a good read about real people and real situations.

More movie reviews coming soon!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Gone Baby Gone - Movie Review

Gone Baby Gone (R) 114 minutes B+
Affleck's Mystic Boston

Starring Casey Affleck, Morgan Freeman, Cathie Callanan, John Ashton, Madeline O'Brien, Michelle Monaghan, and Ed Harris

Once upon a time Ben Affleck was pretty cool (Chasing Amy, Good Will Hunting). But after receiving an Oscar in 1997, aliens abducted Affleck and brainwashed him into doing films like Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, and Surviving Christmas (Affleck also dated J-Lo for awhile, but I can't blame him or the aliens for that).

In 2005 Affleck's friends held an intervention and apparently it worked. Affleck is now doing respectable films again (Hollywoodland) and Gone Baby Gone is a very impressive directorial debut.

I didn't know much about the film before I saw it... and I'm so glad I didn't. This film surprised the hell out of me and I was completely taken aback by the outcome. Gone Baby Gone is a dark maze of mystery that leads to a moral dilemma. Based on the Dennis Lehane novel, Affleck does a great job of creating a gritty and disturbing atmosphere... similar to the film Mystic River (In which Lehane is also the author).

This is (Ben's little brother) Casey Affleck's best performance of his career, while Amy Ryan gives us an Oscar worthy portrayal of a drugged out, irresponsible grieving mother.

Welcome back Ben!