Saturday, August 29, 2009

Julie and Julia - Movie Review

Julie and Julia (PG-13) 123 Minutes B
When Food is Life and Life is Food

Starring Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, Chris Messina, Mary Lynn Rajskub and Linda Emond.

I met the real Julie Powell in September of 2006. She wore a retro cool blue sweater dress and black knee high boots; she was striking in a New York sheik-literary savvy sorta way. She seemed a lot more intriguing than the movie version of Julie Powell (Amy Adams) who struck me as sorta vanilla. However, much of this perception is because Meryl Streep is completely illuminating as Julia Child, Stanley Tucci is phenomenal as Paul Child and Mary Lynn Rajskub is brilliantly understated in a minor sidekick role as Sarah.

Julia Child's life overshadows Julie Powell's life. I suppose that's the point of the film but it also creates an unbalance for the viewer. The relationship between Julia and Paul is as inspiring as the recipes Julia creates. Beyond the food and the cooking this is one of the year's best love stories.

P.S. After the film I went home and made an inspired turkey sausage and green onion omelet- yummy!

Friday, August 28, 2009

D-Mode Delivers Music for the Masses (A Concert Review)

Depeche Mode @ Red Rocks Amphitheater 8/27/2009 A

Wow! This will most likely be the best rock show I see in 2009. These guys put on one helluva show and my only regret is that I didn't see them (live) sooner.

An ageless and slinky Dave Gahan, 47, shook his money maker and worked the crowd in true rock star fashion. While the brilliant Martin Gore played various instruments, sang backing vocals and stepped front and center on songs like Jezebel and Somebody.

In my head this band is bigger than life and their live show gave me no reason to think otherwise.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

(500) Days of Summer - Movie Review

(500) Days of Summer (PG-13) 95 minutes A
Summer of Love/Winter of Discontent

Starring Zooey Deschanel, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Clark Gregg, Minka kelly, Matthew Gray Gubler, Rachel Boston, Geoffrey Arend and Chloe Moritz.

This is not a love story, but it is further evidence that it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. This film presents us with many romanticized and disillusionment theories about relationships. But most of all (and perhaps most importantly) it reminds us of how falling in love makes us feel euphoric and invincible... how in those moments of bliss we are making memories that will last a lifetime even if the union does not.

(500) Days of Summer ties together the sad bastard music I love so dearly with the heartbreaking beauty of love gone wrong. And although there is at least one movie cliche near the end I could've done without. This is a winning effort and one that will stay on my mind for days to come.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The joy of cooking, the perils of love (A Book Review)

I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti - Giulia Melucci A

Besides being a fabulous cook and a terrific writer Giulia Melucci has a lot to offer. As I was reading this intriguing and funny "food is love" memoir I'd often flip to the back inside cover of the book and look at the author's photo. From what I was reading and seeing Giulia seems like a great catch. Chances are these perspective suitors will never find anyone better.

Love and the human heart is complicated, thank god we can lose ourselves in good food and good books. Not only is this an excellent read but it's filled with easy to make and delicious recipes. I'm probably not the targeted demographic but I have to say that I loved this book - my favorite of 2009 so far.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Docuwest Film Festival August 6th - 9th (All documentaries all the time)

The 1st annual DocuWest Film Festival hosted by the Foothills Art Center (Golden, CO) wrapped up yesterday. Not only was this inaugural year a success but I honestly believe that this festival will become instrumental in promoting, celebrating, and mainstreaming the art of documentary filmmaking. RW and I attended 4 films:

Kimjongilia - C+
A timely documentary about North Korea and the ruthless regime of Kim Jong-il.

My Son the Pornographer - B+
A bitter young man makes the adult film industry seem pedestrian while his father lends physical and emotional support.

Talhotblond - C+
An internet love triangle ends in death, jail time and a shocking twist.

$100 a day - C+
An innocent man spends 12 years in jail for a murder he didn't commit. Exonerated- he will receive $100 a day... hmmm, that should make up for losing the last 12 years of his life.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

My Top 3 John Hughes Films

As many of you know John Hughes passed away this past week. In honor of his passing I have listed my three favorite John Hughes films.

3. Career Opportunities (Writer)

2. Weird Science (Writer & Director)

1. Sixteen Candles (Writer & Director)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Funny People - Movie Review

Funny People (R) 140 minutes B+
Depending on your sense of humor

Starring Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Eric Bana, Jonah Hill, and Jason Schwartzman

I like a little bitter with my sweet and here Judd Apatow does a nice job of mixing the two. This film isn't for everyone, but not in the "it's too artsy fartsy or too indie" sort of way. There's a lot of penis jokes, crude humor and the film is ambitiously long. But despite the length I enjoyed every minute (pun intended), and apparently I enjoy penis humor when it's done right.

Compilations: The good and the not so good (A Music Review)

First Impression Review

The Jayhawks - Music From The North Country: The Jayhawks Anthology C

I'm not a big fan of "Greatest Hits" collections but there is a time and place for them. Since I've always been curious about The Jayhawks (other than what I heard on the radio) I thought this would be a nice teaser before I bought one of their critically acclaimed albums (like 2003's Rainy Day Music).

But unfortunately Music From The North Country was a disappointment to me. My first impression was that these songs are very "safe" and "clean" bordering on boring. It's nice, pleasant, Americana/folk rock but to steal the words of another music critic, "it's guaranteed not to wake the neighbors".

Neil Young - Greatest Hits A+
On the other hand, sometimes a "Greatest Hits" collection can really capture the essence of an artist even without some of the deeper album cuts. Neil Young's Greatest Hits collection from 2003 is such an album.

I was having a discussion with a couple of co-workers today about his best album and one mentioned this album. My first inclination was that compilations don't count, but a few hours later when she gave me a copy of this album I was blown away! I'd heard all but 5 or 6 of the tracks before, but some I hadn't heard in a long time -Hey, Hey, My My (Into the Black) & Ohio. While songs like Down By the River (from Everyone Knows This is Nowhere) and Comes A Time (from Comes A Time) sounded vintage and timeless.

This is a superior album and one that I highly recommend for anyone who craves a perfect Neil Young album from beginning to end.

My favorite Neil Young albums based on the ones I've heard/own (excluding compilations)

5. (TIE) Living with War (2006) & Greendale (2003)
4. Harvest Moon (1992)
3. Sleeps with Angels (1994)
2. Silver & Gold (2000)
1. Harvest (1972)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Adam - Movie Review

Adam (PG-13) 99 minutes D
A love story without the love

Starring Hugh Dancy, Rose Byrne, Peter Gallagher, Amy Irving, and Frankie Faison

When I first saw the trailer for this film the main character, Adam (Hugh Dancy), tells his very attractive neighbor, Beth (Rose Byrne), that he has Aspergers. Initially I thought he said "Assburgers" and that was suppose to be some sort of joke. But Asperger's Syndrome (AS) is not a joke, it's a neurobiological disorder that's closely related to autism (or at least that's what I gathered from watching the film).

The film raises awareness of AS and sheds a bittersweet light on the disorder. A noble gesture that unfortunately results into a dull film. Frankly, I thought that the relationship between Adam and Beth was completely unrealistic, Beth's daddy complex was totally contrived and stupid, and Hugh Dancy (who I loved in the 2007 film, Jane Austen Book Club) seemed to be overacting the part.

Many people at the advanced screening last week and at Sundance last January loved this film. I on the other hand am surprised that so many people liked it. Perhaps you should see it for yourself and report back, I'd be curious to know what you think. The film opened in limited release on 7/29, and opens nation-wide in a few weeks.
Bonus DVD Review
Stardust Memories (PG) 88 minutes C+
The reluctant celebrity

DVD Release Date: July 5, 2000
Starring Woody Allen, Charlotte Rampling, Jessica Harper and Tony Roberts

This was one of the few Woody Allen films I hadn't seen and reportedly one of Woody's personal favorites within his catalog of work. The film didn't quite live up to my (very high) expectations, but if nothing else Stardust Memories is worth seeing for one scene near the end of the film (called A Profound Moment on the DVD's scenes menu) in which a young Charlotte Rampling lies on the floor, flipping through pages of a magazine and gazes into the camera with a look that could bring a man to his knees- hypnotizing and alluring it's a classic cinematic moment.

Sonically Ageless in a Daydream Nation (A Concert Review)

Sonic Youth @ the Ogden Theater 7/31/09 A-

There is nothing like a Sonic Youth show. I've seen them numerous times and I'm always hypnotized by the sound.

Friday night's sold out show at the Ogden Theater was another stellar performance. Their set list consisted mostly of the new album, The Eternal, with a heavy dose of Daydream Nation.

Standouts included Cross the Breeze, Silver Rocket, The Sprawl and Antenna. SY did two encores and I wish they would've done five more.