Saturday, July 24, 2010

Inception - Movie Review

Inception (PG-13) 148 minutes D-
Wake me when it's over

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, and Michael Caine

I applaud director Christopher Nolan for trying to make a dark, complex and innovative film but in my opinion he totally misses the mark. Many friends and critics loved Inception (and more power to ya!), I on the other hand didn’t understand what was happening nor did I care.

I wanted to like it, after all, it had been called the ultimate "mind f*ck". Yet I disliked this film from the start. It felt disingenuous and reminiscent of an issue of GQ magazine; full of high fashion, smug expressions and slicked back hair.

Quarterbacking the film is Leonardo DiCaprio, he delivers one of the most insincere performances of his career. Even the Keanu Reeves-like Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the adorable Ellen Page couldn't save what critic Rex Reed called “pretentious perplexity”.

A 148 minute hodgepodge of corporate espionage, extracting dreams, unfinished business with the dead, secrets of a dying father, endless high speed chases, gun fights and slow motion action scenes... what's so dreamy about that!

Inception is easily the most disappointing f*ck of the year.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Kids Are All Right - Movie Review

The Kids Are All Right (R) 104 minutes A-
Donor dad turned father figure falls in love with a lesbian.

Starring Annette Bening , Julianne Moore , Mia Wasikowska, Josh Hutcherson, and Mark Ruffalo

Sometimes the best films are the hardest to write about because I desperately want to convince you that The Kids Are All Right is one of the best films of the year.

It's the story of a middle-aged lesbian couple raising two teenagers. Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore) are no different than any other couple (gay or straight) and when their 18 year-old daughter (Mia Wasikowska) contacts the biological father - aka sperm donor (Mark Ruffalo), their marriage and family unit are threatened.

Sounds pretty intense but the film never takes itself too seriously and the dialogue is whip-smart, witty and realistic. It's an outstanding comedy/drama with universal appeal; a terrific alternative to the over hyped and underwhelming summer blockbusters.

The Kids Are All Right and you'll be too after seeing this wonderful film. Highly recommended!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Secret Lives of Housewives (Book Review)

In The House by Lynn K. Kilpatrick B
Publication date: February 2010

In The House reminds me of a Radiohead album- creative, beautiful, odd and smart. With its starts, stops and variations it's like an album in book form.

My favorite among this collection of character sketches, shorts-lists, scripts and directions is a story called My Neighbors. Kilpatrick's debut is darkly poetic and highly intriguing, I'm already looking forward to the next level of domestic bliss. Knives Out!

Friday, July 16, 2010

The New Lonely (Book Review)

Lonely: A Memoir by Emily White C+
Publication date: March 2010
Despite the subject matter I thought this memoir might be inspiring (lonely lawyer pursues real passion, succeeds as writer) and a good way to explore my own loneliness. White's personal story is interesting and White herself is extremely likable, but too much of Lonely focuses on research and case studies which are informative yet repetitive.

I would have preferred more memoir and less technical writing, nevertheless it's still a worthy examination of depression vs loneliness and various stages/conditions of being lonely.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Best Music of 2010 so far: A Mid-Year List

5. Bettie Serveert - Pharmacy of Love

4. Xiu Xiu - Dear God, I Hate Myself

3. The Hold Steady - Heaven is Whenever

2. Spoon - Transference

1. Pernice Brothers - Goodbye, Killer

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Pretty Girls With Guitars (Concert Review)

Katie Herzig w/Megan Burtt B+
@ the Walnut Room 7/8/10

RW has been raving about this Katie Herzig since she saw her open for Brandi Carlile this past January. The singer-songwriter grew up in Fort Collins and went to school at the University of Colorado in Boulder before moving to Nashville four years ago. It had been a long time since I've gone to a rock show to see a headlining artist I'm completely unfamiliar with but tonight I was up to the challenge.

The opening act was a personable and talented singer named Megan Burtt. Burtt struck me as a somewhat typical female singer-songwriter with an acoustic guitar- she played well, sounded nice, looked good and had a few standout songs. Yet in a field saturated with artists who can do just that she pulled off a nice opening set but nothing that motivated me to explore her further.

Herzig on the other hand is everything Burtt is not, granted, Herzig was accompanied by two outstanding musicians (Claire Indie & Jordan Brooke Hamlin) who added depth and richness to her songs.

First thing that stood out about Herzig was how her tiny voice effortlessly filled the room and made for a perfect companion to her quirky, rustic, modern/yet classic sound and lyrics. Even though I didn’t know any of the songs almost all of them hooked me immediately (especially a song called "Hologram" which sounded unbelievably powerful live/acoustic)

She has a nice stage presence that evokes a serious musician passionate about her craft, a quiet confidence and subtle sense of humor. I was very impressed tonight and I'm expecting greater things to come from Herzig.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Best Films of 2010 so far: A Mid-Year List

10. The Ghost Writer

9. Chloe

8. Kick-Ass

7. I Am Love

6. Please Give

5. Cyrus

4. Mother and Child

3. Greenburg

2. Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work

1. The Square

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Get Him to the Greek - Movie Review

Get Him to the Greek (R) 109 minutes B
Will you come for my bangers, beans and mash

Starring Jonah Hill, Russell Brand, Rose Byrne, Sean Combs, and Elisabeth Moss The first time I saw the trailer for Get Him to the Greek I thought this film would be good. Jonah Hill is always good for a few laughs and who better to play a rock star than Russell Brand (reprising his role from Forgetting Sarah Marshall).

But it's not quite as sharp, nor is it a laugh-a-minute riot I thought it would be. It's a little bit of a cluster f*ck at times and relies on a lot of over the top comedy that fortunately never jumps the shark. Once acclimated to the pace and mood the film is very rewarding.

Basically it's the story of Aaron Greene (Hill) and Aldous (Brand) as they try to come into their own personally and professionally. Aaron's mission is simple- fly to London and bring him back to L.A. to do the show. Aldous has other plans, namely women, booze and drugs. What incurs is a comedic thrill ride that's sometimes funny, sometimes sad but always entertaining.

Knight and Day - Movie Review

Knight and Day (PG-13) 110 Minutes D-
Mission Impossible - Night or Day is crap anytime

Starring Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, Viola Davis, Paul Dano, Maggie Grace, and Marc Blucas

Everyone who knows me knows that I'm an Indie film guy first. Many (not all) of the Hollywood films these days are mindless distractions that sacrifice art for profit. Yet with that said, it has been duly noted that I am a Tom Cruise fan.

Despite the popularity of Les Grossman, his Tropic Thunder character, it's probably uncool to like Tom Cruise these days but the guy intrigues me (Eyes Wide Shut, Magnolia, Vanilla Sky, Collateral, Jerry Maguire are my best examples). I've seen over 20 of his films and I'd have to say that Knight and Day is the most disappointing.

In this film Cruise has truly become a caricature of himself, and even though a few of the signature smirks and looks still remain the film is flat and ridiculously chaotic. I'm convinced that this was made with the hopes of capturing every audience/demographic possible.

Cruise and Diaz are present for looks and star power, Viola Davis for the African American set, Paul Dano and Peter Sarsgaard for indie cred, and stupid catch phrases like "I got this" repeated over and over for the sake of having a popular catch phrase. Let's not forget the abundance of car chases, guns, fight scenes, explosions, and a classic car or two for audiences who have a love for such shenanigans. Furthermore there's no nudity which also appeals to a wider audience, after all violence = ok, nudity = bad.

Bottom line- no art, lots of profit is the goal. I'm so disappointed Cruise signed on to do this. Next time leave this sh*t for the Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's of the world. Knight and Day was a waste of my afternoon.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Cyrus - Movie Review

Cyrus (R) 92 minutes B+
Creepy man-child, depressed divorcee battle it out in Cyrus

Starring John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei, Catherine Keener, Matt Walsh, and Katie Aselton

John (John C. Reilly) is a freelance editor who has been depressed and uninspired since his wife divorced him seven years ago. But his luck begins to change when he meets a beautiful, curly haired brunette named Molly (Marisa Tomei). Molly is divine, the woman of John's dreams and she also comes with baggage; a creepy 21 year-old man-child (Jonah Hill).

Dark humor, subtle comedy and excellent cast. Hill is becoming a comedic tour de force, while Reilly, Keener and Tomei are always worth the price of admission. Recommended!