Sunday, September 28, 2008

Burn After Reading - Movie Review

Burn After Reading (R) 96 minutes A-
Great performances and another great film from the Coen brothers
Starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, and J.K. Simmons

Last year the Coen Brothers brought us No Country For Old Men, one of the most talked about films of the year. Their latest film, Burn After Reading once again delivers, and proves to be one of the best films of 2008 thus far.

When ex-CIA analyst Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich) loses a disc that contains drafts from his tell-all memoir, things begin to spiral out of control and numerous people get burned.

Happy-go-lucky doofus Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt), and his desperate co-worker Linda Litzke (Frances MCDormand) are at the heart of this comedy thriller when they find the aforementioned disc and attempt to blackmail Cox. Meanwhile Cox's wife (Tilda Swinton) is having an affair with oversexed U.S. Marshal Harry Pfarrar (George Clooney).

All of these characters are somehow interconnected but don't know it. Needless to say things get pretty hairy and lives are at stake if you end up at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Burn After Reading is an offbeat story about desperate, horny, bitter, stupid, and self-absorbed people... who happen to be kinda lovable in their own pathetic way.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Man on the Moon

Tom Moon at the Tattered Cover, September 26th, 2008

Last night I had the privilege of meeting award winning music journalist Tom Moon at the Tattered Cover bookstore. He was pimping his new book 1000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die.

In addition to being a great writer, Moon is truly passionate about music. I had the opportunity to speak with him about the current state of music journalism, and his advice was extremely valuable to a budding music critic like myself. The future doesn't look particularly lucrative for anyone wanting to write music, film, and book reviews for a living, but I still felt inspired by Mr. Moon.

Here is Tom Moon's top 10 cds of 2007

10. KT Tunstall - Drastic Fantastic
9. The Sea and Cake - Everybody
8. Charles Mingus Sextet with Eric Dolphy - Cornell 1964
7. M.I.A. - Kala
6. Robert Plant/Alison Krauss - Raising Sand
5. Neil Young - Live at Massey Hall 1971
4. Floratone - Floratone
3. The National - Boxer
2. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
1. Radiohead – In Rainbows

Friday, September 26, 2008

Walking Away With Dignity

Juliana Hatfield - How To Walk Away B

At first listen I missed the old Juliana... the angst, the guitars, the self loathing. Replaced by Sheryl Crow type melodies and a gentler (perhaps more mature) vibe, Hatfield explores the nature of loving, leaving, and stagnation. Check out these lyrics from the song My Baby,
"He used to look into my eyes and talk to me/now we just have sex and watch TV /and when he touches my body/there's something off with the chemistry"

Some of the best tracks on this album sound like the greatest songs Sheryl Crow never wrote (see Just Lust and Now I'm Gone). Hatfield doesn't always sound like herself here, but relationships, life, and love sometimes changes a person... we walk away a different person than we started out being.

Currently my favorite tracks are --> My Baby and Such A Beautiful Girl

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Holly's still a Hoodrat & I Stay Positive

The Hold Steady - Stay Positive A-
One of the best albums of 2008, Stay Positive is an impressive follow up to Boys and Girls in America. The lyrics are sharp, witty and beautifully f*cked up. Currently my favorite tracks are: Stay Positive, Navy Sheets, Lord Im Discouraged, and Sequestered in Memphis.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hootie Goes Country

Darius Rucker - Learn to Live C
I bought Hootie's first solo album, 2002's Back to Then. That album sucked! And if he attempted to make another neo-soul, hip hop album I might vomit... or at least dry heave.

So when I heard that his second solo album would be on the other end of the spectrum- "country", I must admit that it seemed like a more logical choice even though I'm not really a fan of country music.

Learn to Live
is receiving decent reviews, most critics are calling it a "pleasant listen"or an "enjoyable album". I could stand for a little more "alt" country, oppose to this straight-up stab at the genre. But he does a nice job that's guaranteed not to disturb the neighbors.

I dig the first single, Don't Think I Don't Think About It, but there are several songs I can do without. I'm hoping Learn to Live learns to grow on me more.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hey Babe

This picture is from a Boston Globe article written last month (by Joan Anderman). Good article, cool picture.

Juliana's new album is pretty good (my First Impression review is coming soon), and I'm anxiously awaiting her memoir (in stores next week, not this week like I previously reported).

Find the Boston Globe article online at

The new album is called How to Walk Away, and the new book is entitled When I Grow Up: A Memior.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Lakeview Terrace - Movie Review

Lakeview Terrace (PG-13) 110 minutes C+
Fear, Loathing and Jungle Fever
Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Wilson, Kerry Washington, Eva La Rue, and Bitsie Tulloch

A racist cop (Samuel L Jackson) harasses the young interracial couple that moves in next door. This is a decent film by one of the best filmmakers around- Neil LaBute. But unfortunately the film doesn't live up to the standard of his earlier more provocative work.

Lakeview Terrace has shades of LaBute's misogynistic style but ultimately plays out like most films in the suspense/thriller genre. Samuel L. Jackson is fantastic, Kerry Washington is beautiful and Patrick Wilson is solid as always.

By no means is this a bad film, but there is nothing new or surprising. I recommend checking out some of LaBute's earlier films which are much more tantalizing and astute (see In The Company of Men or The Shape of Things).

This is definitely worth renting or seeing at your local second run/discount movieplex. Critic Roger Ebert loved this film, claiming that "it's a challenging journey LaBute takes us on. Some will find it exciting. Some will find it an opportunity for an examination of conscience. Some will leave feeling vaguely uneasy."

I found it entertaining but fairly mediocre...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Disenchanted in the Lone Star State

RW & her conspiracy theories at the grass knoll in Dallas.

When I travel to new places I usually get a sense of whether or not I could ever live there. Fort Worth, TX is among the places I could never see myself living. Two weeks isn't enough time to determine the worth (pun intended) of any city, but I was a little underwhelmed with Fort Worth- the 17th largest city in the United States (larger than Denver, Seattle, Boston, and more).

But instead of dwelling on the negative, I've decided to compose a list of the best things I discovered during the last two weeks.

1. Half-Priced Books
Used Books, DVD's, Vinyl, CDs, Magzines- A chain store with a Indie vibe.
2. World Burrito
Like Chipotle & Qdoba but with healthier & tasty alternatives.
3. Genghis Grill
Yummy, healthy Mongolian stir fry- only one location in Colorado...?
4. Jalapeno poppers
Not very healthy, but oh so delicious!
5. Plums
I never met a plum I didn't like in Texas.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Righteous Kill - Movie Review

Righteous Kill (R) 100 minutes C
Starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Curtis Jackson, Donnie Wahlberg, and Carla Gugino

I hate to sound like a broken record, but here is yet another entertaining film that's not bad... but it's also not that good.

Here you'll find two great actors (De Niro and Pacino) reprising bits and pieces from their past tough guy films. Curtis Jackson (aka 50 Cent) plays a thuggish drug dealer -a major stretch for him (wink wink), and Donnie Walberg plays a cop (the same role he has played in 3 or 4 other films and/or television shows).

That being said, the aforementioned actors played their characters well. But the one standout here is Carla Gugino. Granted, she's the "eye candy factor" in the film, but she plays the role nicely and steals nearly every scene she's in.

This might be worth renting if you've seen everything else... otherwise, it's just your average "dirty cop" film.

Three to see at the Tattered Cover

Talented author Chuck Klosterman will be at the Tattered Cover (LoDo) on Thursday, September 18th. He'll be pimping his debut novel, Downtown Owl. The book is receiving a lot of good buzz.

Some of you may have heard about a little show called Sex in the City... Candace Bushnell aka the real "Carrie Bradshaw", will be at the Tattered Cover (Highland Ranch) on Thursday, September 25th. She will be reading and signing copies of her latest creation, One Fifth Avenue.

And award-winning music journalist Tom Moon will be at the Tattered Cover (Colfax) on Friday, September 26th. He'll be promoting 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Fort Worth, TX

Currently I am blogging from Texas. Home of Erykah Badu (Dallas), Daniel Johnston (Waller), Lyle Lovett (somewhere north of Houston), and many, many more.

I've been here 5 days so far and it has rained 3 out of the 5 days. Hurricane Ike touched down along the Texas gulf coast earlier this morning, the latest reports on the local news say that 3 million are without power and the death toll is somewhere around 20. Here in Fort Worth there were heavy periods of rain and gusty winds. God bless all the people affected by the storm...

Today RW and I went to Half-Price Books, an awesome used bookstore that also sells used cd's, vinyl, DVDs, and magazines. It's a chain store with the look and feel of an independent bookstore. We also cruised up to Dallas and visited the JFK Museum (called Sixth Floor Museum). I'm not much of a history buff, but the museum was an interesting and educational experience for me.

Unfortunately I haven't had much time to explore the city due to my work schedule and lots of homework, but I'm enjoying being in a new city and getting away from the office for a few weeks.

RW bought (from Half-Price Books)
Bachelor Girl: 100 Years of Breaking the Rules, a Social History of Living Single - Betsy Israel
Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11 - Wayne Barrett and Dan Collins

Curtis bought (from Half-Price Books)
I Hate Myself and Want to Die: The 52 Most Depressing Songs You've Ever Heard - Tom Reynolds
Woody Allen at Work: The Photographs of Brian Hamill - Charles Champlin and Derrick Tseng

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Traitor - Movie Review

Traitor (PG-13) 113 minutes C+
Know Your Enemy
Starring Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Jeff Daniels, Neal McDonough, Archie Panjabi, Alyy Kahn, and Said Taghmaoui

I had no idea what Traitor was about before I walked into the movie theater. I just knew that Don Cheadle was in it and anything he does is usually pretty good. Traitor is a who's zoomin who espionage flick with a touch of Syriana and a hint of Jason Bourne... but not as good.

A good quarter of the film is complete ho-hum genre crap, but it eventually heats up and turns into a good edge-of-your-seat action thriller.

The ending doesn't feel natural and the film is full of holes, but Cheadle is good, as is Guy Pearce. This is recommended for fans of post 9/11, action thriller, and FBI/CIA films. For everyone else- it's a decent popcorn movie with an interesting perspective on Muslims and their faith. I don't know if it's necessarily a good, bad or fair perspective... But it will make you think twice about the people (who they are and what they look like) making sacrifices for their beliefs.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Feelin' Massachusetts

Juliana's new memoir, When I Grow Up will be in stores on September 22.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Tropic Thunder - Movie Review

Tropic Thunder (R) 107 minutes C+
Fun...but wildly uneven
Starring Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr., Nick Nolte, Steve Coogan, Danny McBride, Bill Hader, Jay Baruchel, Matt Levin, Andrea De Oliveira, Reggie Lee, Matthew McConaughey, and Tom Cruise

Watching Tropic Thunder was like watching an all-star game- lots of star power and a plethora of talent; but mostly show and not a lot of chemistry and/or substance.

Rarely do we remember the score or who won the NFL Pro Bowl or the NBA All-Star game after their over, but it's fun to watch when it's happening. Well, that's Tropic Thunder in a nutshell.

Outside of Tom Cruise and Robert Downey Jr, I probably won't remember much about this film two weeks from now. Yes, I was entertained, but this is not the type of film I'll think about after leaving the theater. Some of the comedy is pretty funny, while some of it is pretty stupid... but then again, it's suppose to be stupid (it's a satire on Hollywood).

I must say, it's one of the most original comedies I've seen all year and one stop shopping for fans of Ben Stiller comedies, satire, and action films.