Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Le Noise Sounds Fresh But Will It Stick? (Music Review)

First Impression Review
Neil Young - Le Noise C+
Release Date: September 28, 2010

Sonically I love the way this album sounds, lyrically I'm not sure if it really breaks new ground. The more I listen to Le Noise the more I like some songs and the less I like others.

For whatever reason I'm afraid I might shelve this one sooner rather than later, however I've yet to listen to it on headphones which I think will add another dimension.

Not a bad album but once you're pass that initial excitement of raw, electric gutiar fuzz I'm not sure Le Noise has long term staying power...

Favorite tracks: Rumblin, Hitchhiker

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Town - Movie Review

The Town (R) 124 minutes A-
A Gritty and Compelling Crime Drama with Heart

Starring Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Pete Postlethwaite, Chris Cooper and Jon Hamm

The Town grabbed me from the beginning and kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. Based on Chuck Hogan's 2004 novel Prince of Thieves and directed by Ben Affleck the film brilliantly takes an old theme (one last heist/an honorable thief) and creates something thrilling, fresh and humanistic. Affleck proves that his first directorial feature, Gone Baby Gone was no fluke. The Town cultivates the gritty, blue-collar Boston formula of his last film and delicately balances adrenaline filled action with heartfelt melancholy.

The Town is short for Charlestown, Massachusetts, a place reportedly known for its bank and armed car robberies. Doug MacRay (Affleck) was a local kid, from a broken home, who had a shot at playing pro hockey but instead he inherited the family business - robbing banks. He and his band of brothers were a well-oiled machine until MacRay fell in love with Claire (Rebecca Hall), a hostage from one of their heists.

Ultimately (without knowing) Claire became MacRay's “Yoko Ono”, motivating the ringleader to turn away from a life of crime and live an honest life. However, he must complete one last job, and we all know what happens when the criminal with a heart of gold vows to do "one last job".

Nevertheless this is an excellent film and one that might require a bit of patience from moviegoers expecting nonstop action. Small performances by Blake Lively (Gossip Girl), Chris Cooper and Pete Postlethwaite are tight and on point. While Jeremy Renner is just as good here as in the Hurt Locker. Jon Hamm (Mad Men) seemed a little out of place at first, yet by the end he and his five o’clock shadow will grow on you... as will this ambitious film.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps - Movie Review

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (PG-13) 127 minutes B+
Greed is back and better than ever.

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Susan Sarandon, Josh Brolin and Frank Langella

A rare sequel that's better than the original, that's the case with Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. A timely film about greed, revenge and of course, Wall Street.

It's not essential that you see the first Wall Street film from 1987 but if you have it makes the sequel more enjoyable.

The performances are solid all around and the film maintains a nice balance of serious drama and light-hearted moments. It feels a little long at 127 minutes but rarely is there a dull moment.

Gordon Gekko (Douglas) is back and he's as smooth as ever!
Bonus DVD Review
Wall Street (R) 126 minutes B
Rise and Fall of a Hustler

DVD Release Date: November 2000
Starring Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen, Martin Sheen, James Spader, Daryl Hannah and Hal Holbrook.

Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) is a young broker from a working class family. He has big dreams, big ideas and nothing gets you there faster than money- lots of it! . Wall Street is really an age old story of greed and corruption, ironically that's pretty much the story 23 years later in real life.

Watching it now the film is a little dated (in a good way) and a little long... it also helps if you understand all the Wall Street mumbo jumbo. All in all it's a solid film that gets better as it goes along not to mention an Oscar winning performance by Michael Douglas.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

You Can Get With This or You Can Get With That (Literary Event Review)

Dave Zirin w/ David Sirota @ Mercury Cafe A-

Tonight I gave up seeing the ultra-talented and very beautiful Koren Zailckas (at the Tattered Cover), she's the author of one of my all-time favorite books, Smashed: the Story of a Drunken Girlhood.

To see an equally talented, but not as visually appealing (no offense) writer, Dave Zirin... and I can't say I was disappointed. Zirin, the author of a new book, Bad Sports: How Owners Are Ruining the Games We Love made a tour stop at the Mercury Cafe with special guest David Sirota.

His new book is very enlightening and a little scary. Do I really want to know about the politics behind sports? Why owners, teams and cities are motivated to do the things they do? Big business, shady deals, yadayadayada... It's all very thought-provoking but is ignorance bliss or does knowledge equal power?

Check out his book and decide for yourself.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I'm Still Here - Movie Review

I'm Still Here (NR) 108 minutes INCOMPLETE

Starring Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck

Back when I thought this documentary was real (for a week after I saw it) I was going to give it a solid "B". I thought it was a striking exposé of a troubled and tortured soul, not too mention the crazy beard, whores, blow and excrement- pure entertainment!

But now that I hear it was all a hoax, I'm not sure what to think... Much like the Blair Witch Project circa 1999 and the Crying Game in 1992, this film was better when I didn't know the "secret". Nevertheless Joaquin Phoenix deserves credit for such a convincing performance, many of us truly believed he was really that f*cked up. Touché.

Read more about this hoax at Chicago Robert Ebert's Journal

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Range Life (Concert Review)

Pavement w/ Jenny & Johnny @ the Ogden Theater C

I will admit that I have a pet peeve about bands who "goof off" too much on stage and it overshadows the music. I'm not trying to be a buzz kill, I love witty rock star banter between songs and interaction with audience. But when it comes to the music it's serious business. I've spent hours upon hours marinating in these songs and losing myself in the lyrics so at a live show I want to soak it all in.

I was stoked about seeing Pavement tonight, one of the seminal alt-rock bands of the 90's. For the past week I'd been listening to Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain and Slanted and Enchanted, albums that sound just as good today as they did 18 and 16 years ago. But maybe my expectations were too high or maybe I just missed the boat (both the Westword and the Denver Post raved about the show).

This stop on their highly touted reunion tour was light-hearted and fun, yet it felt uninspired and forgettable. There were moments of brilliance and moments when I thought that euphoric feeling was about to kick in... but no, instead my feet started to ache from standing and I grew less and less enthusiastic. It made me wish I'd seen them in the early 90's when they still had something to prove.

It wasn't that Malkmus and Co. were being goof balls all night, it was more that the songs didn't resonate. I didn't feel that rhythm in my soul when they played my favorite songs. At times it seemed like the band was rockin their balls off but songs were sung half-heartedly, other times it seemed like Malkmus didn't care about singing at all while Bob Nastanovich did his best Flava Flav impression.

It pains me to sound so negative about a band who has provided me with so much pleasure but I guess you can't win them all. For a more positive spin check out the reviews below.

Denver Post

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Answer Key - NFL Preview 2010

My annual picks and predictions for the upcoming NFL season.
*Wildcard teams

AFC East
The Jets are good but not as good as everyone thinks.

1. New York Jets 10-6
2. Miami 9-7 *
3. New England 8-8
4. Buffalo 5-11

AFC North
Ravens D is getting old but on paper this team looks solid through and through.

1. Baltimore 11-5
2. Pittsburgh 9-7
3. Cincy 9-7
4. Cleveland 6-10

AFC South
Colts will win a division full of talented but inconsistent teams.

1. Indy 10-6
2. Houston 9-7 *
3. Tennessee 8-8
4. Jacksonville 6-10

AFC West
Chargers strength of schedule is one of the weakest in the league.

1. San Diego 10-6
2. Denver 7-9
3. Oakland 6-10
4. Kansas City 6-10

Number in parentheses = playoff seed
(6) Houston over (3) San Diego ............... (4) NY Jets over (5) Miami
(1) Ravens over Houston ..................(2) Indy over NY Jets
Ravens 21 Colts 14

NFC East
I'm hoping Shanny can derail the Cowboys.

1. Dallas 11-5
2. Washington 8-8
3. NY Giants 8-8
4. Philly 7-9

NFC North
Brett Favre probably should've retired after last season.

1. Green Bay 10-6
2. Minnesota 9-7 *
3. Chicago 7-9
4. Detroit 6-10

NFC South
Atlanta has all the tools and could be the NFL's biggest story this year.

1. Atlanta 11-5
2. New Orleans 10-6 *
3. Carolina 8-8
4. Tampa Bay 5-11

NFC West
Singletary gets it done in a competitive but woeful NFC West.

1. San Fran 9-7
2. Seattle 7-9
3. Arizona
4. St. Louis 4-12

(3) Green Bay over (6) Minnesota ..... (5) New Orleans over (4) SanFran
(1) Dallas over New Orleans ............ (2) Atlanta over (3) Green Bay
Atlanta 27 Dallas 17

Baltimore 20
Atlanta 17

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Get Low - Movie Review

Get Low (PG-13) 100 minutes B
Life, love and getting low

Starring Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek and Robert Duvall

Get Low is loosely based on real-life events that happened in Roane County, Tennessee in 1938. It tells the story of Felix Bush, a recluse who wanted to throw his own funeral party while he was still living. The goal was for people to share their stories about him, the same ones they've been telling each other (behind his back) for years.

For decades the mysterious hermit with a bad reputation lived in a self-imposed prison deep in the woods, his only companions; an aging horse and memories he can't forget.

As word of his funeral party spread Bush realizes that people are too afraid to share their stories, most of which are bad, because of what he might do to them (rumor was he had killed several people). So instead of listening to stories Bush decides he needs to tell his own, set the record straight and separate fact from fiction.

Not a lot happens in the film, it relies heavily on acting and storytelling which are both above average. Get Low won't get you too high but it will stay with you and it might even evoke a little emotion.