Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Take A Bite (Music Review)

Released June 2012
First Impression Music Review
Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel... A-

There's something oddly fascinating about this album, and it gets better and better with each spin.  Clocking in at 42 minutes I love how concise and focused this album sounds (despite its 23 word title).  The Idler Wheel is classy, mature and vital- a sure-fire candidate for best album of the year. 

Favorite Tracks - Anything We Want, Every Single Night, Jonathan,

Monday, August 27, 2012

Frank Ocean's Sex, Drugs, & Money (Music Review)

Released July 2012 
First Impression Music Review
Frank Ocean - Channel Orange B+

Those of you who follow this blog might remember that Frank Ocean's 2011 mix tape, nostalgia ULTRA was My Gray Morning's album of the year for 2011.  I was anxious and a little nervous to hear Channel Orange because the bar was set high.  But the album is a vulnerable, catchy and satisfying effort by hip hop's newest sensation. 

Favorite tracks- Forrest Gump, Thinkin Bout You, Super Rich Kids, Sweet Life, Monks

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Loner's Revenge (Music Review)

Released January 2012 
First Impression Music Review
Craig Finn - Clear Heart Full Eyes B+

I really dig this album.  It might be a hard listen for those unfamiliar with Finn.  But, the dude exudes an everyman appeal that makes everything he says believable. Clear Heart Full Eyes is a desolate and confessional record that paints a bleak picture through first-rate narration. 

Favorite Tracks - Western Pier, Apollo Baby, No Future, Balcony   

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises - Movie Review

The Dark Knight Rises (PG-13) 165 minutes B+
Eye of the Tiger

Starring Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Matthew Modine

The Dark Knight Rises was epic, exciting and a very good film.  It wrapped everything up nice and neat.  But, as good as the last three Batman films were, coming back for more would be a mistake.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom - Movie Review

Moonrise Kingdom (PG-13) 94 minutes B+
The Kids are Alright

Starring Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Bob Balaban, Tilda Swinton

Moonrise Kingdom was a bit of a surprise.  An island of cute kids and strange adults makes for a fantastical journey that is totally satisfying.  Directed by Wes Anderson.  

Believe the Hype (A Book Review)

The Discomfort Zone - Jonathan Franzen B+
Publication: September 2006

Despite the criticisms, controversies and perceptions that he is a pretentious ass, Jonathan Franzen intrigues me.  As a matter of fact, from what little I know about him so far, he seems a little iconic.  The Discomfort Zone is an entertaining account of some of his personal history- parents, academic years, marriage, and birds.  I was hooked right away, and I look forward to reading more from Franzen.               

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Dark Horse - Movie Review

Dark Horse (NR) 84 minutes C+
Life doesn't come with a receipt

Starring Selma Blair, Mia Farrow, Jordan Gelber, Zachary Booth, Justin Bartha, Christopher Walken and Aasif Mandvi

It was Friday afternoon. I rushed home to let the dog out, and rushed to the theatre to catch the last matinee showing of Dark Horse. In my haste, I forgot that it was a Todd Solondz film. Forty minutes into it I wasn't sure if I was going to like the film. Abe (Gelber), the main character, was annoying, as was the music.  I couldn't figure out if Abe was supposed to be mentally challenged, or just an underachieving 35-year old slacker who collected action figures and lived at home with his parents. His arrested development was further compounded by his lack of social skills and piss-poor attitude.  Yet, in a strange twist of fate Abe found an attractive (but horribly depressed) woman to marry him. She had her own set of issues, and a deadly secret.

Married or not, Abe has no intentions of moving out of his parent's house. His life began to unravel.  Through numerous dream sequences he began to understand the harsh realities of life. Once the film ended and the credits rolled I remembered, "Oh yeah, this is a Todd Solondz film." His work is always a little unpleasant, unorthodox and darkly humanistic. There's a certain intriguing dullness to Dark Horse; however, the message is powerful and lasting. It 's a decent film that requires a little patience.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Pretty Young Thing (A Book Review)

Publication: November 2007 
Tamara Drewe by Posy Simmonds A-

A delicious graphic novel that is hard not to devour in one sitting. The characters are rich, the illustrations are spot-on, and the story is cleverly scandalous without being cheesy. It is based on Thomas Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd, and centers around Tamara Drewe, a young temptress who moves back to her family's countryside estate. Her arrival gives the locals plenty to talk about. An entertaining read that adapted nicely to the big screen in 2010.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Queen of Versailles - Movie Review

The Queen of Versailles (PG) 100 minutes A-
There is no limit to what money can do for and to a man

Starring David Siegel and Jackie Siegel

When it comes to this documentary, you will probably hear it described as a "riches to rags" story.  Yet, more importantly, this film teaches us two things:  1) Money can buy you love, albeit, love that is addicted to spending.  2) Always have a plan B.  

The Queen of Versailles is what film critic Noel Murray so brilliantly described as a "gawk-doc."  I couldn't stop gawking at the embarrassment of riches (among other things).  David Siegel was a man of extraordinary wealth and power.  His curvy wife, a 43 year-old former beauty queen (he is 74 years-old), and their 8 children live in an Orlando mansion that spans 26,000 square feet, with 17 bathrooms, countless pets, an army of maids/nannies, and lots of chaos.  The film documents their fall from grace, and you almost feel sorry for them... almost.  

Director Lauren Greenfield won the Documentary Directing Award for this film at Sundance last January.  Highly recommended.