Friday, December 31, 2010

My Gray Morning - Best Music 2010

My Gray Morning's Musical Soundtrack 2010
"Of all noises, I think music is the least disagreeable" - Samuel Johnson

15.1,000 Years - Corin Tucker Band
She will always remind me of Sleater Kinney.
14. Love and Its Opposites - Tracey Thorn
I always over use this term but it truly is "heart-breakingly beautiful".
13. How I Got Over - The Roots
I still don't think this album has reached it's full potential with me.
12. Brothers - Black Keys
Surprisingly infectious, I liked this album more than I thought I would.
11. Write about Love - Belle and Sebastian
Always embodies my pouty, whimsical, lovable side.
10. Dear God I Hate Myself - Xiu Xiu
Not their best but it made an emotional connection.
9. Transference - Spoon
I'm surprised how much I like this album every time I listen to it.
8. Swim - Caribou
Inspires me to dance like a dehydrated Helen Keller.
7. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy - Kanye West
It took awhile but it finally clicked... believe the hype.
6. Grinderman 2 - Grinderman
It's true, Nick Cave is my dark, twisted, cool soul brotha from another mother.
5. Lonely Avenue - Ben Folds & Nick Hornby
Where literature and music collides, breaks my heart and makes me smile.
4. Heaven is Whenever - The Hold Steady
Hurricane J might be my favorite song of 2010, it makes me feel alive.
3. Goodbye, Killer - Pernice Brothers
I'm not sure I listened to any other cd more in 2010.
2. Thank Me Later - Drake
A hip hop album with indie sensibility, the most surprising album of the year.
1. High Violet - The National
The National has never been an easy listen but this album is epic in a very modest manner.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Black Swan - Movie Review

Black Swan (R) 107 minutes B
Lose Yourself

Starring Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassell, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey and Winona Ryder

Black Swan begins as a gritty, intense melodrama before venturing into David Lynch/skinemax/bloodletting high-art. Yet Black Swan is no less intriguing even when director Darren Aronofsky overreaches; specially the eurotrash club scenes with "Tom" and "Jerry" and the much talked about sex scene (you'll know it when you see it).

The aforementioned sex scene is sexy but it feels a little cheap and slightly unnecessary despite providing one of the film's funniest one liners shortly thereafter.

This film is good, Natalie Portman is great! It made me want to go to the ballet, It made me feel sorry for the protagonist (Portman) while feeling simultaneous frustrated with her.

If you're like me and go to see Black Swan without knowing much about it be prepared for a ride. It's creepy, sad, sensual and weird but never boring.

With award season just around the corner I doubt this film will win any Best Picture accolades but don't be surprised when Portman walks away with multiple Best Actress statuettes. It's an interesting film to say the least and worth checking out!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tiny Furniture - Movie Review

Tiny Furniture (R) 98 minutes A-
Postgraduate delirium and other bad choices

Starring Lena Dunham, Laurie Simmons, Grace Dunham, Jemima Kirke, Alex Karpovsky

How could I not like Lena Dunham? She's talented, charmingly funny and full of naked ambition. In this semi autobiographical, deadpan comedy the twentysomething writer/director/actress has created a wickedly entertaining film that has been compared to Woody Allen's earlier works.

Tiny Furniture was reportedly made for around $50,000, shot with a $1,500 camera, filmed in the family's New York loft and stars Dunham's mother and sister. Many of the actors were not professionally trained, yet several moments here feel authentically awkward, sad and real (see the film's lone sex scene).

The film follows the plight of Aura (Dunham) who has just graduated from college, been recently dumped by her college boyfriend and "temporarily" moved back home with her family. The plan is to get a job, an apartment and figure out what she wants to do with her life. But Aura quickly finds that the transition from college life to real world responsibility can be daunting. Especially when you're vulnerable, unmotivated and living in the shadow of an overachieving mother and sister.

This is a good film that's not for everyone but highly recommended for those who like low-budget, bittersweet indie comedies.
Bonus DVD Reviews
Man Push Cart (NR) 87 minutes B+
Missing someone and something he can't forget

DVD Release Date: October 2007
Starring Ahmad Razvi, Leticia Dolera, Charles Daniel Sandoval and Ali Reza.

A very heartfelt story about a man who once had it all- a beautiful wife and a promising music career. Now he's just a "Pakistani guy selling coffee and doughnuts" and trying to survive in New York City.

The film was one of Roger Ebert's ten best of 2006 and nominated for three Independent Spirit Awards.
Blind Date (NR) 80 minutes C
Desperately trying to save the date

DVD Release Date: December 2009
Starring Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson.

A surprisingly sad and depressing film about a couple who try to cope with the death of a child by pretending to be strangers and meeting for blind dates. Tucci and Clarkson are two of my favorites, if this film was done by anyone else it would've been a total disaster.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I'm Doin' Me Before the World Ends (Music Reviews)

First Impression Music Review Drake - Thank Me Later A-
Release Date: June 2010
Full disclosure: Before I heard this album my only exposure to Drake was that catchy Sprite commercial where he's in the studio, not feeling the flow, he drinks a Sprite and his face, body and mind explodes into a gushing, carbonated wave of lemon-lime refreshment and rejuvenation- "Last name Ever/first name Greatest".

Later I noticed Thank Me Later was racking up good reviews, both Time and Rolling Stone magazines hailed it as one of the top ten albums of the year. Yet, despite the warm critical reception I was still skeptical of the unknown mainstream artist. Especially since the rap game doesn't excite me like it use too.

But to my surprise, Drake, once the star of a teen television drama called Degrassi: The Next Generation, has delivered one of my favorite albums of the year. One that I've been bumpin in my car nonstop. It started as a grower and has blossomed into a bonafide mainstay in my rotation.

The review stated that Drake "sings or raps the word I 410 times on his debut album. Even in the realm of hip-hop-- a style famous for its unswerving solipsism-- this is a feat." However, a little self indulgence isn't so bad when you have something worth saying, something that connects with a lot of people on a humanistic level. That bond is part of what hooked me along with a refreshing vulnerability and lush, atmospheric beats that rarely grandstand like another highly praised hip hop album I reviewed a few weeks ago. Thank Me Later is worth being thankful for now!

Favorite Tracks - Fireworks, Karaoke, Over and Fancy,28804,2035319_2034644_2034627,00.html

Pernice Brothers - The World Won't End B
Release Date: June 2001
The World Won't End is vintage Pernice Brothers; smart, sympathetic lyrics wrapped in acute reflection and observations. At first listen it's not as accessible as later releases but ultimately very rewarding. More than just a sad sack record, Pernice proves once again he's one of the best songwriters of our generation.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tenspeed and Blackshoe (Book Review)

Walter Mosley - Fear Itself B-

I've always thought of Walter Mosley as a legendary figure in literature. Fear Itself probably wasn't the best place to start but it was enough to inspire further reading.