Monday, June 30, 2008

Lust, Love and Understanding

No One Belongs Here More Than You - Stories by Miranda July is creepy, erotic, and mesmerizing. I'm convinced that she is one of the coolest human beings ever to grace the face of the earth. This book is like the literary equivalent of Radiohead's OK Computer. When that album came out it seemed straight out of left field... it baffled some fans, while others thought it was pure genius. Apparently this book is having the same affect, yet I'm having a hard time understanding how anyone can deny the charm, originality and appeal of July's quirky, yet seductive prose. These stories are completely enthralling, albeit a little strange at times... This is an excellent example of creative fiction at its best. A must read!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Get Smart - Movie Review

Get Smart (PG-13) 110 minutes B-
Smarter than you think
Starring Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Alan Arkin, Terrence Stamp, Terry Crews, David Koechner, and James Caan

Steve Carell is funny, Anne Hathaway is easy on the eyes, and overall this film was better than I expected. It's lite summer fare- a little cheesy, a little predictable, but always fun.

Get your popcorn & pop and prepare to be entertained!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Wackness - Movie Review

The Wackness (R) 95 minutes A
Summer of 420
Starring Josh Peck, Sir Ben Kingsley, Method Man, Mary Kate Olsen, Olivia Thirlby, Famke Janssen, and Aaron Yoo

The Wackness is the stunning new film by Jonathan Levine and winner of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival's Audience Award. The film opens in limited release on July 3rd and this is an early review.

Luke Shapiro (Josh Peck) is a loner, awkward teen and dope dealer with a heart of gold. He pays his psychiatrist with weed in exchange for therapy sessions and the two form a genuine bond built on misery, depression and all the harsh lessons that life has to offer.

This coming-of-age/buddy film is hilarious, heartbreaking, and a great example of what happens when we focus too much on the "wackness", instead of just living life and taking it as it comes.

Highly recommended (no pun intended)!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Music to slit your wrists to

Here's a run down of the music I've bought this month.

Alanis Morissette - Flavors Of Entanglement
When Alanis first bursted on the scene with You Oughta Know, I hated her. The song was good, but I got sick of hearing it, I resented how popular she became, and I despised all those wannabes jumping on the bandwagon and declaring her a "genius".

But after hearing Hand in my Pocket and Ironic, I admit that I changed my tune. Those songs were undeniably catchy, and after hearing them I couldn't get them out of my head.

Then came Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie and the single Unsent. I remember exactly where I was when I heard that song and it rocked me to the core. I had to have that song! So I bought the album and to this day it's probably my favorite Alanis album (if I had to have a favorite). It's not a great album, but the songs I like, I really like... and then there are some I always skip.

That would become a very telling sign because I own 4 Alanis Morrissette albums, and none of them are great. I always like about half of the album and skip the other half. The half that I like is always brilliant, but the half I don't seems like fluff.

So, when I bought her latest cd I hoped that she had put together a complete album. I admit, that I expected this to be a break up album (the whole Ryan Reynolds thing), and I hoped it would be dark and confessional.

But what I got was a very poppy sounding album and one that I am utterly disappointed with. I've only listened to it 2 or 3 times, and I guess I should give it a few more chances. But I remember thinking (when I first listened to it) that it sounds like Debbie Gibson making a come back with a high profile producer; dressing up the music with snappy sounds and bouncy beats.

That being said, I will give it a few more spins and hope that I am very very wrong. After all... I've been wrong before. Case in point, it took me a long time before I realized the genius of Radiohead's OK Computer.

Coldplay - Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends
I loved Parachutes... it might be a classic! I was disappointed with A Rush of Blood to the Head, and I thought X&Y was ok- it had its moments.

Now comes their latest which is by far their most diverse album. It sounds really cool actually. It almost has a U2 vibe, back when U2 was cool (specifically the Joshua Tree days).

Freedy Johnston - Live at McCabe's, April 25th, 1998
One of the best singer-songwriters around. This intimate setting services him well, but still, I think this release will mostly satisfy his core fans. I really dig it.

Iron & Wine - Our Endless Numbered Days
See my post from yesterday

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Our Endless Numbered Days

Iron & Wine - Our Endless Numbered Days. I've listened to it twice and it's absolutely beautiful and amazing! I love it!

Someone on had this album listed as one of the greatest acoustic albums of all time... So I read some reviews, purchased the disc, and indeed it is a brilliant album. Bravo!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Revolution Girl Style (Feminism Rocks!)

Bikini Kill is not for the faint of heart, but it is this week’s album of the week. Bikini Kill is one of my favorite band names of all time, and The Singles is a decent overview of the band’s catalog.

Lead singer Kathleen Hanna (who I recently discovered is married to Ad Rock of the Beastie Boys) is a very talented writer, artist and activist, as well as a pivotal figure in the Riot Grrrl /feminist rock movement. I admit that I don’t know much about Hanna outside of Bikini Kill, but during my brief research I’m finding out that she is a multi-layered and inspiring individual.

I don’t own any Le Tigre albums, nor am I familiar with her solo project released under the name Julie Ruin in 1997… but I’m very intrigued. I'll also be sure to check out Don't Need You: The Herstory of Riot GRRRL, a documentary about the Riot Grrrl movement featuring rare footage of Bikini Kill.

Hanna has created, published, and/or written numerous zines, and according to Wikipedia she has also taught art at a NYU grad school. I look forwarding to learning more about her, and if any of you listen to Le Tigre, feel free to send me your recommendations (your favorite LeTigre album or ep).

"That girl thinks she's the queen of the neighborhood, I got news for you- She is!"
- Bikini Kill

Monday, June 23, 2008

Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day - Movie Review

Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day (PG-13) 92 minutes C
A Cinderella story
Starring Frances McDormand, Amy Adams, Ciaran Hinds, Shirley Henderson, and Lee Pace

There is no doubt that Frances McDormand is a wonderful actress. I loved her in Fargo, Laurel Canyon, Friends with Money, Somethings Gotta Give, and countless other films.

Amy Adams is very cute in this film, she's definitely a star on the rise. But the real showstopper here is Shirley Henderson (you might know her from the Bridget Jones and Harry Potter films). She stole every scene she was in, and turned in a top notch performance in an otherwise average film.

I'm not saying this is a bad film; it does have some mainstream appeal. But I found it to be a little too typical and predictable. However, if 1930's London and "feel good" endings are your thing, you might consider checking this one out.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Promotion - Movie Review

The Promotion (R) 85 minutes B
Desperate husbands, desperate measures
Starring John C. Reilly, Seann William Scott, Jenna Fischer, Lili Taylor, Fred Armisen, Gil Bellows, Bobby Cannavale, and Rick Gonzalez

Once in awhile a film comes a long that's a little different than the rest. On the surface it may look like your run-of-the-mill offbeat indie comedy, but at the core is something a little more distinct... an odd and humanistic glimpse into the world of two average joes trying to become better than average. The Promotion is a needy film... but in a good way. The more I think about the film, the more endearing it is to me.

In a nutshell, it's the story of two men who are competing for the same promotion at a Chicago supermarket. Each man is happily married and desperately wants to make his wife proud. They also have insecurities and obstacles that prevent them from being all they can be.

I think a lot of critics don't know how to take this film, is it a comedy? a drama? or what? New York Post critic Lou Lumenick said "this is easily the worst movie I've seen so far this year", while Kirk Honeycutt of the Hollywood Reporter insinuates that it might be "one of the unfunniest comedies ever".

But I liked it. The film does feel a little peculiar in the beginning, but it eventually comes together and settles into a nice meditation in desperation. It's not for everyone, but it's definitely worth seeing if you crave something a little different.

This is the directorial debut for Steven Conrad, he also wrote The Weather Man starring Nicolas Cage (that film was borderline genius!). The two films have been compared in several reviews, although I think The Weather Man is the funnier and darker film. Nevertheless, if you liked The Weather Man, you might like The Promotion.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Jen Lancaster: Such a Pretty Fat

I don't know if book trailers are a new trend or if they've been around for a while? Nevertheless I love them! Trailers for books are a great marketing tool, they just need a bigger audience. Check out the preview for Jen Lancaster's latest... If you like what you see she'll be at the Highlands Ranch Tattered Cover tomorrow night. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Stuck - Movie Review

Stuck (R) 85 minutes B
Sad but true
Starring Mena Suvari, Stephen Rea, Russell Hornsby, and Rukiya Bernard

Some of you might remember hearing or reading about the Texas women who hit a homeless man with her car, panicked (because she'd also been drinking and taking drugs), drove home with him stuck in the windshield, and parked the car in her garage. The man spent two days (alive) stuck in the broken windshield before eventually bleeding to death.

That happened in October 2001, and Stuck is based on that incident. As usual with these kind of adaptations, the story has been dressed up and exaggerated. The names have been changed and certain details rearranged, but Stuck is surprisingly entertaining and suspenseful. Clocking in at just under 90 minutes long, the film pulls you in and before you know it- it's over.

There's not a lot to this film, it's not complex or deep. It's like a quick roll in the hay- superficial, satisfying, and recommended.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Week in Review

Below is a quick recap of my evening activities during the past week. Those of you that know me, know that I don't like being this busy. But most of these events were fun events... so it's all good.

Monday- Dinner with RW, Es, Bob, J & K
Tuesday- Dinner at North Star Brewery and Old 97's concert
Wednesday- Kickball game and beers at My Brother's Bar
Thursday- Work Picnic
Friday- School
Saturday- School and a movie

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Old 97's "Blame Gravity" in Denver

Old 97's, Hayes Carll & I Love Math - Live at the Gothic Theater, June 10, 2008

There is no doubt that the Old 97's put on one helluva show Tuesday night at the Gothic Theater- high energy, great sound, and plenty of sing-along/fan favorite tunes. It was one of the most enthusiastic and fun loving audiences I've been around in a long time. Fans of the band definitely made their presences felt, and the overall vibe was "fun" and "good times". Even Hayes Carll and I Love Math (the two opening bands) were impressive.

But I have to admit, I'm not your average concert goer. When I attend a rock show it's almost like I'm seeking a religious experience. When I see Morrissey live it almost brings tears to my eyes, and every time I see a Sonic Youth show it's absolutely hypnotic.

Some bands I could see over and over again... but the Old 97's is not one of those bands (I've seen them twice now). I like and respect these guys, but I need (and was hoping for) a little more pain with their passion. It's like watching Spider-Man 2- a well done and very entertaining film. When you'd rather watch Mystic River, which is equally as good and packs more of a emotional punch.

Old 97's are a sharp, entertaining and respectable live act, but not a cathartic one (at least not for me... different strokes).

"You've always made the mistake of being yourself"
- Eugene Ionesco

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Bull in the Curtis

My Dream
Last night I dreamt that someone broke into the house and robbed us blind! They took my computer and my entire music collection... but they left all of my books.

I was so pissed! I was an animal full of rage! I wanted revenge and I wanted to hurt someone. I felt like my livelihood had been taken away from me. I cried and cried on my front porch steps, and ate boneless chicken breast like a savage beast.

I was like Michael Douglas in the film Falling Down, but I was even more untamed and desperate. I wonder if I had that dream because we talked about material culture in Sociology class on Saturday? Oddly enough, I opened my email from Chicago Nobo this morning and she said that her home had been burglarized. Weird.

Androgynous Mind
The album of the week is the very very lovely Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star by Sonic Youth. This 1994 release is one of the most under-rated albums in their catalog. This album has such a great vibe and is sonically delicious. Dare I say that this album would be equally as satisfying if it was all instrumental... the music is that interesting. Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star is a multi-layered, low-fi, trashy masterpiece- a perfect combination of sleazy seduction and beautiful noise.

F*ck MTV
I wish you guys played music videos! I wish you had music news with Kurt Loder, music films/documentaries, concerts, interviews, explored music literature, had music programming like 120 Minutes, Head Bangers Ball, Yo Mtv Raps, etc... But like everything else, I guess all good things must come to an end.

"I'd get pregnant if I could be assured I'd have puppies."
-Cynthia Nelms

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Rocktober To The Extreme

The Rockies
The Sports Illustrated 2008 Baseball Preview Issue (March 31) predicted that the Colorado Rockies would win the National League West, and beat the Mets in the first round of the playoffs. They also said that the Rockies will either sustain last year's excellence or "join the likes of Vanilla Ice, Harper Lee, Johann Pachelbel, and Bobo Holloman- overnight successes without a follow-up act."

All I have to say is, "Ice Ice Baby".

The Broncos
Their starting to remind me of those John Elways years when the roster included names like Sammy Winder, Vance Johnson, Gerald Willhite, Randy Robbins, Dennis Smith, Mark Jackson, etc... Those teams had some success... often times surprising everyone while they overachieved and got blown out in the Superbowl.

The current day Broncos could shock the world in 2008 if Jay Cutler turns out to be the savior that everyone hopes he will be. I hate Super Bowl blowouts, but I'd rather see the Broncos get blown out of the Super Bowl than go 7-9 and miss the playoffs again.