Monday, June 28, 2010

Plum Good Advice from a Bestselling Author (Book Review)

How I Write by Janet Evanovich w/ Ina Yalof B
Publication date: September 2006
I have never read a Janet Evanovich novel yet I bought How I Write because I was curious to know the "secrets of a bestselling author". However these secrets aren't really secrets at all, it's just good advice with excellent examples from her previous works.

Much of the instructional stuff I've heard before (school, writing panels, conferences, writing books, etc...), but what sets this apart is Evanovich's sense of humor in regards to herself and her writing. Much like her Stephanie Plum character this book is mainstream and likable with a down-to-earth approach.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Please Give - Movie Review

Please Give (R) 90 minutes B+
Giving us something to think about

Starring Catherine Keener, Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt, Rebecca Hall, Sarah Steel, and Ann Guilbert

Sometimes the best gifts come in small packages. That's the case with Please Give, a humanistic slice of life film that doesn't impact you all at once, rather it builds slowly on the screen and in your mind long after you've left the theatre.

Directed by Nicole Holofcener (Friends With Money, Lovely and Amazing, Walking and Talking), she quietly continues to make thought-provoking art that imitates life.

In short, Please Give is about living, dying and the mundane, complex and guilt that it often brings (without bringing you down).

Recommended for fans of indie films, Catherine Keener, Amanda Peet and/or Rebecca Hall who delivers one of her best performances.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Jill and Julia Show (Review)

The Jill and Julia Show
@ Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret 6/25/10 A

Jill & Julia is Julia Sweeney (SNL, Letting Go of God) and singer-songwriter, Denver native Jill Sobule.

We had seats directly in front of the stage, close enough for Sobule to apologize for spitting on RW.

The show was filled with heartfelt songs from Sobule and humorous heartfelt stories from Sweeney. Afterwards we had the opportunity to meet them both. Sobule and I briefly discussed being "music nerds" and an upcoming EP she's doing with John Doe.

It was a night I won't soon forget, a spectacular evening of songs, wit and commentary!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I Am Love - Movie Review

I Am Love (R) 120 minutes B+
Feast of Love - How Emma got her groove back

Starring Tilda Swinton, Flavio Parenti, Gabriele Ferzetti, Pippo Delbono, and Edoardo Gabbriellini

The film opens with postcard-like wintry scenes of Milan's snowy vistas blanketed by a bitter chill. I Am Love is poetic, symbolic and the most visually satisfying film I've seen this year. Director Luca Guadagnino has created a bold melodrama that's artistically astonishing and lustfully delicious.

Emma Recchi (Tilda Swinton) is a Russian exile who married into a rich Italian family. She's a quiet and dutiful wife whose eyes are filled with a mother's love. A wealthy husband, three adult children and a mansion filled with servants, Emma appears to have it all.

For the first ten or fifteen minutes I didn't know what was going on or where the film was headed. I sensed something stirring but wasn't sure why I should care. It's not until Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini), a talented young chef arrives with a mysterious package that the film begins to take shape.

Antonio eventually becomes best friends with Emma's son, Edo (Flavio Parenti), and impresses Emma with his masterful culinary skills and subtle charm. Winter soon turns to Spring, love comes out of hibernation and into bloom. Emma is reborn, overwhelming passion has resonated and can not be contained.

The love affair that ensues is utterly captivating and organic. Emma is insatiable and alluring, I became so engrossed in her that at one point I swear I could smell her perfume as she roamed the mountainside in a backless orange dress.

I Am Love may require patience from most mainstream audiences, but once this film kicks into gear all of your senses will thank you. Tragically beautiful and emotionally authentic, I Am Love is love at all costs...often the best kind.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

First Impression Music Reviews

I'm a little behind with my "First Impression" music reviews so here's a quick and dirty run down of old and new music I've acquired in the last 3 - 4 months.

Pernice Brothers - Goodbye, Killer A
Release Date: June 15, 2010
It’s extremely catchy, instantly gratifying and smart- maybe their best album yet.

Avett Brothers - I and Love and You C-
Release Date: September 29, 2009
I can’t explain it, these guys are talented but don’t appeal to me.

Bettie Seveert - Pharmacy of Love B
Release Date: March 23, 2010
My favorite and most underrated Dutch indie rock band delivers another solid album.

Tracey Thorn - Love and its Opposite B-
Release Date: May 18, 2010
I love the concept (Thorn has been quoted as saying it's "a record about the person I am now and the people around me ... about real life after forty.") yet the album has been a slow burn that grows on me with each listen.

Jay-Z - Vol. 3: Life and Times of S. Carter C+
Release Date: December 28, 1999
I have yet to find a Jay-Z album I love from beginning to end.

KRS-One - Adventures in Emceein B-
Release Date: February 19, 2008
It sounds like old school BDP despite getting bogged down from time to time with too much filler.

Cassandra Wilson - Traveling Miles C+
Release Date: March 23, 1999
A nice album that will not disturb the peace.

Pete Yorn – Live from New Jersey C+
Release Date: September 23 2004
I’ve seen Yorn in concert twice. The first time was phenomenal and the second time... not so much. This live album is more like the second time.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Convention - Movie Review

Convention (NR) 95 minutes C+
A conventional summer

Starring Katherine Archueletta, John Hickenlooper, Kevin Scott, Guillermo "Bill" Vidal, Chantal Unfug, Lee Ann Colacioppo, Kevin Dale, Curtis Hubbard, Jeremy Meyer, Gregory Moore, Allison Sherry, Barbara Cohen, Mark Cohen and Glenn Spagnuolo.

Convention is a new documentary film by AJ Schnack that chronicles behind-the-scenes planning and preparations during the 2008 Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Denver.

I enjoyed the film and was surprised by old emotions that resonated while reliving the historic event. But, unless you’re into politics, interested in journalism, live in Denver or was involved (volunteering, campaigning, attended, etc…) I don’t see this being of much interest to most.

Perhaps a better Denver documentary with slightly more universal appeal and shot around the same time period (summer of 2008) is ‘Hick’ Town. A documentary that followed Mayor John Hickenlooper pre-DNC, it’s less about the DNC and more about the charismatic politician that Time magazine called one of the top 5 big city mayors in America.

Convention may not be the best documentary you'll see this year but it's a worthy account of how the Mile High City handled an enormous and potentially volatile event.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

For the Love of the Game (A Book Review)

Playing for Pizza by John Grisham B-
Publication date: September 2007
He's best known for his legal thrillers but my first foray into John Grisham was a non-legal thriller called Playing for Pizza, a fictional account of third-string NFL quarterback Rick Dockery.

Dockery has spent most of his NFL career as a journeyman with the most recent stop in Cleveland. The story kicks off with the AFC Championship game where the Browns are facing the Denver Broncos.

After injuries to the first and second string quarterbacks, Dockery enters the game with 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and a 17 point lead. What follows is one of the worst single game performances in NFL history; Dockery turns the ball over multiple times and the Browns lose. He’s cut from the team almost immediately and instantly becomes the most vilified figure in Cleveland.

As a free-agent with no offers and pending legal trouble the NFL’s most infamous goat decides to play football in Italy in a league that amounts to nothing more than semi-pro.

Considering Grisham was the top selling author of the 90’s (with 60,742, 288 books sold) I was expecting a little more dramatic flair- this is light and fairly predictable. Nevertheless, I found it to be entertaining and fun, mostly because of the football element.

Publisher’s Weekly wrote, “the writing sometimes lapses into travel-guide and food porn, but it's invigorated by appealing characters and lively play-by-play.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.