Friday, June 24, 2011

Sobule, So cool (Concert Review)

Jill Sobule @ Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret B

Denver's own Jill Sobule made her annual stop at Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret tonight, and as usual the multi-talented singer-songwriter did not disappoint.  Each time I see her I can't understand why people aren't lining up down the block to see her perform.  Yet, I am always surprised at the amount of people who scream "I Kissed A Girl" when Jill asks for requests.  It's still a great song, and damn you Katy Perry for stealing her thunder.  But my god, Jill Sobule has made so much great music since that 1995 hit (the original "I Kissed A Girl"), it's a crying shame that people don't know or appreciate her impressive catalog of music.

Highlights from tonight include the acoustic rendition of "Bitter" from her 1997 album, Happy Town.  A brand new song called, "They Say They Want Our America Back" that I absolutely, positively, can't get out of my head.  As well as a cover version (featuring her mother) of Nelly's "Hot in Here".  I'm already looking forward to her visit next year.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Trip - Movie Review

The Trip (NR) 109 minutes C+
Eat Talk Fornicate

Starring Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Claire Keelan, Margo Stilley, Kerry Shale, Dolya Gavanski and Rebecca Johnson

If you're going to see The Trip, pack a little patience.  The film centers around British actors/comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, and is directed by Michael Winterbottom.  Coogan and Brydon portray exaggerated versions of themselves as they embark on a six day trip through the countryside of northern England.  They talk, they eat, they do great impressions (the Woody Allen impressions are my favorite) and they talk some more.  This dialogue heavy film is part travelogue, part road trip buddy comedy, with a dash of food porn sprinkled throughout.

Once close friends, the two forty-something men find themselves drifting apart, almost to the point of rivals.  Their strained relationship is one of the more interesting dynamics in the film because it feels authentic. Additionally, Coogan's not so subtle longing for commercial success and indecision about his love life makes this highly improvised duel somewhat intriguing.  Despite being well-received by critics, The Trip is not for everyone.  I would be surprised if anyone outside of film critics, a few cinephiles and fans of this British duo embraced this film domestically.  It's not bad at all, but I don't foresee at lot people taking this trip. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Good vs Evil in the Garden of Kim (Book Review)

Lucifer at the Starlite by Kim Addonizio B-
Publication Date: August 2009

The first time I saw/heard Kim Addonizio read poetry it blew me away.  She was unlike anything I had experienced before.  Her writing was brash, sexy, raw, and 100% unpretentious.  Furthermore, she delivered it with style and verve that indicated she lived it, been there and done that.  I remember thinking at the time, "this woman should be as popular as any female singer who has ever written a hit love song."

After that, I read more of her work, bought a couple of her books, corresponded (once) via email, and I even bought her hybrid music-poetry CD, Swearing, Smoking, Drinking, & Kissing. She is a tremendous talent. However, I did not think this collection lived up to its full potential. Lucifer at the Starlite definitely has its moments, but overall it didn't consistently grab me and pull me in.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Midnight in Paris - Movie Review

Midnight in Paris (PG-13) 94 minutes B-
An Ode to Paris, Nostalgia, and the Muse

Starring Owen Wilson, Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, Michael Sheen, Adrien Brody, Carla Bruni, Nina Arianda, Kurt Fuller, Tom Hiddleston, Alison Pill, Lea Seydoux, and Corey Stoll.

Everyone knows that I "heart" Woody Allen films.  Therefore, it is sometimes hard to write about his work without great affection.  Additionally, all of the hype surrounding Midnight in Paris elevated my excitement more than usual (I have yet to see a negative review).  So, with expectations high, I have to admit that I didn't love it as much as I thought I would. 

The film is clever, smart and beautiful.  However, it is missing a little of the edginess and cynical bite I often get from an Allen film.  For my tastes, Midnight in Paris could have benefited from less nostalgic ambiance and more profundity into the main character's psyche.  Yet, most literary and artist-types will find it quite amusing to see the return of Gertrude Stein, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, and other icons from the early 1900's.

I tend to like Allen's darker, more tragic material. Nevertheless, that doesn't change the fact that this is good film with mass appeal.  Furthermore, every woman I know who has seen Midnight in Paris really liked it.  This surprises me a little, but I guess there is no denying the mystical and enchanting charm of Paris, and the golden age of love, art and literature.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Beguiling & Magical Stories (Book Review)

Magical Thinking: True Stories by Augusten Burroughs B+
Publication Date: October 2004

How did I not know that Augusten Burroughs was so funny, interesting, outrageous and gay!?! Apparently, I mentally erased all remnants of the 2006 film Running with Scissors (which I saw and promptly forgot). 

Magical Thinking is a collection of true personal stories that hooked me from the beginning and ever so slightly waned near the end.  Yet, the book is still highly entertaining and recommended.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Something Borrowed - Movie Review

Something Borrowed (PG-13) 103 minutes D
A contrived love triangle

Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Kate Hudson, Colin Egglesfield, Steve Howey, Ashley Williams and John Krasinski.

Directed by Luke Greenfield and based on Emily Giffin's best selling novel, Something Borrowed could have been so much better.  But instead, it's overripe and contrived.  I'm convinced that Kate Hudson jumped the shark after Almost Famous in 2000.  Ginnifer Goodwin is the ultimate cutie patootie, but her character, Rachel (who is a lawyer), is way too clueless and too much of a pushover to be realistic.  While, John Krasinski (The Office) represents the comic relief and does an admirable job of playing a character that is both unoriginal and insignificant. 

The rest of the cast is more of the same.  Colin Egglesfield is "Dex," a character that most women will intially like and end up hating.  Additionally, he spends the entire film channeling his inner Tom Cruise.  In minor roles Steve Howey portrays the horndog friend plausibly, and Ashley Williams is entertaining as the smothering, fatal attraction gal pal.

Furthermore, New York Times critic A.O. Scott wrote, "the most dispiriting thing about Something Borrowed is that with a little more art, craft and wit it could have been a lot better, maybe even good."  The film features intiguing elements of real-world drama and emotion that could have evoked something substantial.  Yet, unfortunately these wishy-washy characters leave a lot to be desired.
Bonus DVD Review
Who Took the Bomp? Le Tigre On Tour (NR) (65 minutes) B
Girls Rock!

DVD Release Date June 7, 2011
Starring Kathleen Hanna, JD Samson and Johanna Fateman

It’s a little known fact that Kathleen Hanna has always been one of my biggest "celebrity crushes".  However, I wasn't sure what to expect in Who Took the Bomp? Le Tigre on Tour.  The documentary follows the band across four continents in support of their 2004 album, This Island.  The doc itself really isn't earth-shattering; although, it is an entertaining look at their socio-politics and electrifying live shows.  This toe-tapping behind-the-scences footage is sure to appeal to Kathleen Hanna/Le Tigre fans.  Everyone else may not be as geeked.