Saturday, June 27, 2009

Away We Go - Movie Review

Away We Go (R) 97 minutes C
Away We Go feels like a familiar trip

Starring John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph, Jeff Daniels, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Allison Janney, Chris Messina, Catherine O’Hara, and Paul Schneider

Away We Go is an ambitious film about love and couplehood that falls short of originality and real substance. John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph are very likable on screen but I didn't find them necessarily believable. Their aloof and whimsical love affair is one to be admired (to a certain extinct) yet unfortunately this outing felt like a generic collage of several hip films within the genre.

Away We Go is an interesting film fully capable of keeping your attention throughout even though it tries a little too hard to be "different" and cool (note how the introspective music kicks in at all the opportune moments begging the audience for compassion). Performances by Allison Janney, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Chris Messina and Jeff Daniels, all talented actors/actresses are wasted. Their characters are contrived and cliche, the slow subtlety of the film leaves their dialogue hanging like bad punchlines.

I know it sounds like I'm ripping on this film but it does have some redeeming qualities. It is worth seeing at one of the second run/discount movie houses in your area, I was disappointed but that's partly because I had such high expectations.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson 8/29/58 - 6/25/09

My Top 10 Favorite Singles by the King of Pop
10. Say Say Say w/ Paul McCarthy (1983)
9. Who Is It (1992)
8. Billie Jean (1982)
7. She's Out Of My Life (1980)
6.Smooth Criminal (1988)
5. They Don't Care About Us (1996)
4. Dirty Diana (1988)
3. In the Closet (1991)
2. Scream (1995)
1. Human Nature (1983)

Wilco Continues to Lose Their Summerteeth

Wilco - Wilco (The album) C+

Ok, I'm giving the new Wilco album the benefit of the doubt. I've listened to it several times and at first I thought it was pretty good. But after a few repeated listens I think it's kind of boring. So I'm thinking (hoping) it'll click with me after I shelve it for a few days and come back to it. Bull Black Nova is an awesome song and a definite standout, I also like the first track, Wilco (the song). But otherwise I'm wondering if Wilco is becoming the new Steely Dan (no offense). I'm starting to like Son Volt better than these guys, and that's something I never thought possible.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dinosaur Jr Goes Farming

Dinosaur Jr. - Farm A-

I own a total of 8 Dinosaur Jr/J Mascis albums and this one is my new favorite. Farm is a pleasant surprise even though it shouldn't be. Their last album, 2007's Beyond was good but it didn't leave me eagerly anticipating a new album. Yet this one grabbed me from the first song of the first listen. It has more hooks than a Bass Pro Shop, and J's lazy vocal delivery coupled with his signature slacker lyrics are unmatched.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Hangover - Movie Review

The Hangover (R) 100 minutes B
Four dudes blackout in Vegas...

Starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Heather Graham, Justin Bartha, and Jeffrey Tambor

I have to give props to The Hangover because even though the trailer looked funny, I couldn't imagine how they were going to put a new twist on an old formula. Essentially I thought this would turn out to be nothing more than the sequel to Very Bad Things (a 1998 film starring Jon Favreau, Christian Slater and Jeremy Piven).

But after numerous people told me how good this film was I had to see for myself. It's not as good as some of the previous (summer) comedy blockbusters (aka- Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Knocked Up, and The 40 Year Old Virgin) but it is a funny and entertaining film about four dues who blackout in Vegas and can't remember what happened the night before. It's a wild ride and worth seeing on the big screen.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fragments Found Inside Me (A Book Review)

Some Ether by Nick Flynn A

Some Ether is Nick Flynn's debut collection of poetry, winner of the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award (1999), and an astounding work of beauty wrapped in a ball of pain.

Flynn takes us on a journey through his childhood- divorce parents, a troubled mother, strange men, and his mother's suicide. Pretty dark stuff, but written with a sense of enlightenment. The way he recalls these memories is so poetic and honest, it's what I hope to achieve every time I write but I'm nowhere near as graceful.

After I read the first poem in this collection, Bag of Mice, I was hooked. Check it out...

I dreamt your suicide note
was scrawled in pencil on a brown paperbag,
& in the bag were six baby mice. The bag
opened into darkness,
from the top down. The mice,
huddled at the bottom, scurried the bag
across a shorn field. I stood over it
& as the burning reached each carbon letter
of what you'd written
your voice released into the night
like a song, & the mice
grew wilder.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tyson - Movie Review

Tyson (R) 90 minutes B
The Rise and Fall of Iron Mike

Once upon a time Mike Tyson was the most dominant boxer I had ever seen, he possessed the talent and the tools to be the greatest of all time. But unfortunately he couldn't keep his demons at bay and soon the most celebrated fighter in the world became the most disgraced athlete in sports.

Tyson, a new documentary by James Toback follows the once coveted fighter from his childhood on the mean streets of Brooklyn, to a broken adult desperately searching for peace and tranquility. This polarizing film documents his rise to the top, scandals, vulnerabilities and humility. It's an inspiring, funny, and sad journey through the life of a troubled man and a prime example of why it's so important to stay humble; fame and fortune doesn't always last forever (especially when your greatest weaknesses are sex, drugs and living like a king).

There is no doubt that Iron Mike has learned a lot of hard lessons, it's just unfortunate that he had to learn them the hard way.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Girlfriend Experience - Movie Review

The Girlfriend Experience (R) 78 minutes A
Sex and the Human Condition

Starring Sasha Grey, Chris Santos, Glenn Kenney, and Peter Zizzo

The Girlfriend Experience is the most intriguing film I’ve seen in 2009 so far. It’s directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by the same two guys who wrote Oceans Thirteen (which is amazing because the two films are polar opposites).

I saw The Girlfriend Experience several days ago and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. The film follows Chelsea (Sasha Grey), an upscale Manhattan escort who provides the ultimate "girlfriend experience (gfe)" to her clients. Simply put, time spent with Chelsea is like time spent with a girlfriend, albeit, one who has no sexual inhibitions and will cost you a cool $2000.00 a night.

Chelsea caters to successful businessmen in varies fields, she goes on dates to the museum, the movies, expensive dinners, but mostly listens to the men complain about politics, their jobs and the economy. Sex isn't always on the agenda, sometimes her clients just want to feel adored and listened to.

The film is set in New York City shortly before the 2008 Presidential election. This adds an interesting element to the film because there's a sense of panic over the economy and in stressful times there's no better escape than the solace of sex, beauty, passion and companionship- it's human nature and Chelsea delivers.

The other masterstroke of genius in this film is Soderbergh's casting of Sasha Grey, a real life porn star who has acted in over 100 porn films. She is absolutely brilliant in this role giving it authenticity, her character is very believable as she projects sex as strictly business. I'm not sure if she could act in a more traditional film but here she is completely captivating.

The Girlfriend Experience is definitely not for everyone, perhaps it's more of a niche film. But I loved it and would pay money to see it again; there's not a lot of films I can say that about these days.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I See Dead People (A Book Review)

You've Been Warned by James Patterson & Howard Roughan - C

Last month I reviewed The Quickie by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge, It was my first foray into the prolific world of James Patterson and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed that book. But I remained leery, yet curious about Patterson's mass market appeal. Was Patterson that good or was it novelty?

You've Been Warned starts off flat and somewhat similar to The Quickie. Our main character, Kristin Burns, is a nanny and aspiring photographer. She's having an affair with Michael, a successful businessman, and is repeatedly warned that she is heading down a dangerous path; Kristin sees and talks to the dead, gets long distance phone calls from herself, and has cockroaches underneath her skin. But none of this can stop her from pursuing what she desires most, Michael.

This book reads like a bad Sharon Stone movie, but there's enough of a hook to keep you (morbidly) curious and guessing.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tracyanne, Denver's Ready To Be Heartbroken (A Concert Review)

Camera Obscura at the Bluebird Theater June 1, 2009 B

This was my first time seeing Camera Obscura and I was impressed with how well their music translated live, especially the material from their latest album, My Maudlin Career.

After observing that no one in the audience was struck by lightening on their way to the show (it was stormy outside), Tracyanne Campbell opened their set with the title track from their aforementioned album. Campbell, who seems simultaneously pensive and charming has a humble stage presence that's immediately endearing. Wearing a vintage velvet dress, she and band mate Carey Landers are almost doll-like as they sang pretty songs about love gone wrong.

French Navy, Honey in the Sun and Lloyd I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken were among my favorites last night, and the only gripe I had was that some (not all) of the slower songs really killed the momentum of the show from time to time. But overall, I enjoyed the show immensely and look forward to their next visit to the Mile High City.