Saturday, December 27, 2014

Top Five - Movie Review

Top Five (R) 102 mins B+
Ice Cube, EPMD, Ice-T, Krs-One, Public Enemy 

Starring Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, JB Smoove, Gabrielle Union, Tracy Morgan, Leslie Jones, Anders Holm, Cedric the Entertainer, Kevin Hart, Jerry Seinfeld, Adam Sandler, Whoopi Goldberg, Hayley Marie Norman, Sherri Shepherd, Ben Vereen, Jay Pharoah and Karlie Redd

Top Five is Chris Rock's third directorial effort. The film is a little raunchy, a little rough around the edges, but underneath it all is a thoughtful celebrity satire. Rock plays Andre Allen, a comedian-turn-movie star who is tired of making mindless Hollywood films. Desperate to be taken seriously as an actor, our protagonist is in New York pimping his first dramatic film, Uprize! In New York he is shadowed by Chelsea Brown (Dawson), a New York Times reporter assigned to write a piece about him. (Spoiler Alert!) Allen and Brown proceed to have a New York love-hate-love story of sorts. Meanwhile, his reality star bride-to-be (Union) plans their television wedding in Los Angeles.

The film features a lot of cameos, a lot of laughs and inescapable Woody Allen references (it's the New York thing). But, overall this is a layered film about being black, being famous, and living in reality. If you can get past some of the language, you'll find a highly rewarding film and a budding directorial talent.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Interview - Movie Review

The Interview (R) 112 Minutes C+
Botched Interview

Starring Seth Rogen, James Franco, Randall Park, Lizzy Caplan, Diana Bang, Timothy Simons and Reese Alexander  

All of the controversy aside, The Interview is a silly, undercooked Seth Rogen comedy- not a political satire.  There were enough funny moments to keep me interested, but this is not even close to his best work.  If not for the media frenzy surrounding this film I suspect it would have come and gone without much fanfare.  Recommended for curiosity seekers and those who enjoy Rogen's brand of bro humor.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Interstellar - Movie Review

Interstellar (PG-13) 169 mins  B
Overly Ambitious Space Opera Entertains, Saddens

Starring Matthew McConaughey, David Oyelowo, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Wes Bentley, Michael Caine, John Lithgow, Mackenie Foy, Topher Grace, Timothee Chalamet and Casey Affleck

Interstellar is an ambitious space odyssey, a film that I can't pretend to fully understand or explain. After the disappointment that was Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity, I was afraid Interstellar would be more of the same.

Directed by Christopher Nolan (Inception, Memento and the The Dark Knight films), Interstellar is a surprisingly heartfelt film that is both epic and exhausting. At 169 minutes, the film provided plenty of food for thought, cool cinematography and science. Things got a little hokey at the end, but that's Hollywood for ya. All in all, it's a solid film.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Gimmie Something Great Mr. Adams (Album Review)

Released: September 2014
Ryan Adams - Ryan Adams B-

Initially, I listened to this album while multitasking - email, laundry, cleaning, etc... After one not-so-attentive listen I generally thought the album was good, not great. It's mainstream Ryan Adams, which means it will appeal to the masses and leave me (who prefers Adams a little less subdued) torn. A couple of days later I re-visited the album, listened to it multiple times and gave it my undivided attention. My feelings didn't change- good album, not great.

This, his 14th solo album, feels surprisingly 1980ish with mixed results. During the first six or seven spins the album had a very bonfire, beer drinking, open-air, retro coolness- the kind of album someone might have cranked from their car stereo back in the day while a bunch of dudes (and a few hotties) stood around a smoky blaze drinking their sorrows away and back again. This self-titled, self-produced album sounds like a soundtrack for those times. Most of the songs are catchy and introspective; however, they just don't wear well after repeated listenings. Having been a Ryan Adams fan for as long as I have, I know he can sh*t out albums like this anytime. I guess I was hoping for something that was more III/IV and less Easy Tiger.

Favorite tracks: Gimme Something Good, Am I Safe and Tired of Giving Up

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) - Movie Review

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (R) 119 mins B
The Comeback
 
Starring Michael Keaton, Naomi Watts, Andrea Riseborough, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis and Amy Ryan.

During this time of year when the movie world is giving us their best, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is a solid black comedy, but not a great one. Frankly, I don't understand the hype surrounding this film. Michael Keaton is currently nominated for numerous awards for his performance. He is also the winner of the 2014 Chicago Film Critics Association Award for "Best Actor." Keaton is good, but Edward Norton Is better. Norton is the main reason why this Birdman works- he is the most interesting and unpredictable character in the film, he makes everyone else better.

Riggan Thomson (Keaton) was once a Hollywood A-Lister. He was the star of a popular superhero film franchise. But, Riggan walked away from the gig a decade ago and has struggled to find success ever since. Now he is trying to revive his fading career on Broadway as financier, director and star of a Raymond Carver play. Our protagonist has family problems, relationship problems, ego problems, and super powers... all of which is a blessing and a curse. This film is entertaining and offbeat. But, it never quite takes flight like I hoped it might.

Bonus Review 
Happy Christmas (R) 82 mins A-
What happens when the unwanted houseguest is family...

Starring Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey, Mark Webber, Lena Dunham and Joe Swanberg

Let me say upfront, you're probably not going to like this film as much as I did... and that's okay.  This low budget, talky independent film starring two of my favorite leading ladies, Lynskey and Dunham, is my kind of film. It's a smart, no frills indie in which I could see myself as any of the main characters.  The dialogue is mostly improvised and maybe that's why everything here seemed so natural.

Jenny (Kendrick), is a twenty-something party girl who just broke up with her boyfriend.  In need of an escape and a new beginning Jenny moves in with her brother (Swanberg), his wife (Lynskey), and their two-year-old son. After striking up a new relationship with the babysitter/pot dealer, Jenny begins to head down a path of selfishness and irresponsibility that threatens to break-up the family.

This dramedy was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize in the "U.S. Dramatic Competition" at Sundance 2014. Anna Kendrick was also nominated for "Best Comedic Actress" by the Women Film Critics Circle earlier this month. 

The film had a limited theatrical release during this past summer and a home/DVD release last month.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

I Don't Go To Sleep, But I Go To Bed (Album Review)

Released: Dec 2014
Content Nausea - Parquet Courts (as Parkay Quarts) - C+

I love Light up Gold and Sunbathing Animal. I like Content Nausea. The latest from PCs was recorded in two weeks on a four-track tape machine. There are some gems here; but, it has also been a hard listen. After five or six spins my favorites include:

Everyday It Starts
Content Nausea
Pretty Machines
Uncast Shadow Of A Southern Myth



Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Young Tells a Story and Changes His Tone (Album Review)

Released: Nov 2014
Storytone - Neil Young B

Neil Young has quietly released one of the most sentimental and understated albums of the year. A deluxe two-disc set featuring a 92-piece orchestra and choir on one disc, and a stripped down solo version of the same songs on the other. Speaking mostly of the stripped down solo disc, these songs feels strikingly genuine and intimate. Rolling Stone music critic will Hermes wrote, " Neil Young's only style is doing what he wants, with zero fucks given about anyone's co-sign." Hermes is spot on in his assessment and I can't help but feel that sentiment shining through as I listen to Storytone.

Favorite tracks: Plastic Flowers (Solo), Who’s Gonna Stand Up (Solo), I Want To Drive My Car (Solo), Tumbleweed (Solo) and I’m Glad I Found You (Solo).

Monday, December 1, 2014

Epiphanies: Past, Present, and Future (Book Review)

Thirty-One Octets: Incantations and Meditations - Steven Wingate B+
Published: October 2014

Steven Wingate's latest book, Thirty-One Octets: Incantations and Meditations, is an ambitious poetic narrative that continued to resonate long after the last octet.  We have all been told never to judge a book by its cover, but consciously or subconsciously that's exactly what I did with Wingate's latest effort. I asked several of my friends to describe the book's cover in one word. Without hesitation, they said things like "epic," "biblical," "supplication," and "Jesusy."

My opinion of religion is skeptical at best, but I am always fascinated by what people believe and why. Steven Wingate is one of literature's best kept secrets; yet, I admit I still approached Thirty-One Octets with caution because the cover looked "Jesusy."

The first four octets peaked my curiosity, but didn't necessarily grab me. I put the book down and went to bed. The next morning I continued reading where I left off the night before, beginning with "Octet In Great Praise of Misunderstanding." Almost immediately there was a sea change. I was reading without pretense and the poems surprised and engaged me. I finished the book during that sitting and re-read my favorite octets straightaway.

Despite the repetition of thirty-one octets, the form never wore out its welcome. The more I contemplated these pieces, the more enlightened and entertained I became. It didn't matter whether or not these octets were about the babel of humanity, the babel within one's self, or the Tower of Babel, Wingate's commentary is compelling, vital and humorous. It almost felt like a memoir in thirty-one octets.

My favorites include:
Octet for Future Medicines, as Yet Uninvented
Octet to the Temple of My Body
Octet in Memory of My Proletarian Hypocrisy
Octet of Distorted Affection for Paris
Octet of Praise and Animosity for New York
Octet for Angel City
Octet of Supplication to the Muse

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Nightcrawler - Movie Review

Nightcrawler (R) 117 mins B
The title no longer reminds me of a Pete Yorn album

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton, Rick Garcia

In one of the most underrated performances of the year, Jake Gyllenhaal is Louis Bloom, an overachieving sociopath. Lou canvasess the streets of LA under the cover of darkness. His mission is to be the first film crew at every grisly murder scene, deadly car crash, destructive house fire, etc... If it bleeds it leads and pays a lot of money. The film also stars a cougered up Rene Russo as Nina, a veteran television news director desperate for ratings. The pairing of Nina and Lou makes for one of the year's most unlikely on-screen couples.

Recommended for those who like their drama dark and gritty with a side of bloody.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Rosewater - Movie Review

Rosewater (NR) 103 mins B-
Oppression

Starring Gael Garcia Bernal, Kim Bodnia, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Dimitri Leonidas, Haluk Bilginer; written by Jon Stewart from a book by Maziar Bahari and Aimee Molloy

Rosewater is sort of a quiet little film that is highly enjoyable but not particularly memorable... and I feel bad saying that because there really isn't much to criticize. Maybe it's because I knew how the story would end. Or, because the film is overshadowed by it being Jon Stewart's impressive theatrical writing and directing debut.  Whatever the case, this one quickly slips under the radar.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Starz Denver Film Festival Wrap-up - Movie Reviews

Uncertain Terms
Wild 
Uncertain Terms (NR) 75 mins  B+
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wxUaWM1JV4
A provocative look at the unpredictability of love. 

Wild (R) 115 mins B+
http://howwilditwas.com/
Reese Witherspoon is great- believe the hype. 

Wild Canaries (NR) 96 mins A-
http://www.wildcanariesmovie.com/
Refreshing and original

Heaven Adores You (NR) 104 mins B+
http://heavenadoresyou.com/
Remembering Elliot, a gentle reminder

Hotline (NR) 82 mins C
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvIAn0caANE
Interesting, but a little too dry. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Heart Wants What The Heart Wants (Book Review)

Happens Every Day: An All-Too-True Story - Isabel Gillies A-
Published: March 2009

Before her 2009 divorce memoir, Happens Every Day: An All-Too-True Story, became a New York Times bestseller, Isabel Gillies was a semi-famous film and television actress best known for her role on television’s Law and Order. Now, she is the author of three books (two memoirs, one novel) and on her way to becoming best known as a semi-famous bestselling author.
Despite her fame, fortune and beauty, Gillies was not immune to cold-hearted rejection. When her husband unequivocally announced he wanted out of their marriage, Gillies’ life became less “law and order” and more “woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown.” However, all her self-pity, insecurity and stalker-like instincts read like fiction... It made for an honest and captivating memoir.

Check out NPR's Maureen Corrigean Review from 2009
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=101968700

Sunday, November 2, 2014

An Entertaining, Bittersweet, Hipster Chic Romance (Book Review)

Office Girl - Joe Meno B
Published: Summer 2012
 

Office Girl almost feels like a guilty pleasure. It's cutesy, clever and hipster chic- a bittersweet romantic comedy set against a cold, snowy Chicago backdrop. The story follows two twentysomethings as they try not to let their soul-crushing office job and the world around them diminish their artistic ambition. There's also a lot of tomfoolery and bicycling in the snow. Quirky and fun.

Additional reading: Here's The New York Times book review of Office Girl written Lucinda Rosenfeld http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/07/books/review/office-girl-by-joe-meno.html?_r=0

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Gritty Japanese Lit (Book Review)

Snakes and Earrings - Hitomi Kanehara A-
Published: 2003 in Japan (2005 U.S.)

Japanese novelist Hitomi Kanehara wrote Snakes and Earrings when she was just twenty one years old. The novella sold over a million copies, won the Akutagawa Prize in 2003, and was adapted to film in 2008. Snakes and Earrings is gritty, unflinching and raw. The parts about body modification are cringeworthy, but affective. Kanehara does a masterful job capturing the essences of self-destructive, sadistic youths engulfed in a world of darkness. The protagonist, a nineteen year old named Lui, is especially convincing as a nihilistic young woman spiraling out of control. Snakes and Earrings is definitely not for everyone; however, it is an intriguing trip into another state of mind.

Snakes and Earrings Trailer --> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9onKczFG5M

Sunday, October 12, 2014

New Pornographers & The Pains of Being Pure At Heart (Concert Review)

Gothic Theatre, Saturday, October 11, 2014 - New Pornographers and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart B+

I'm not sure which set I enjoyed more, but It really doesn't matter.   This was a clean and crisp rock show with a lot of groovy noise and very few surprises.

  The Pains of Being Pure at Heart Set List
         Until The Sun Explodes
Heart In Your Heartbreak
Kelly
Simple and Sure
Come Saturday
Young Adult Fiction
Coral and Gold
Belong
Life After Life
Eurydice
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

New Pornographers Set List
Brill Bruisers
Myriad Harbour
Use It
War On The East Coast
Moves
All The Old Showstoppers
Fantasy Fools
Jackie, Dressed In Cobras
Another Drug Deal Of The Heart
The Laws Have Changed
Hi-Rise
Testament To Youth In Verse
Crash Years
Adventures in Solitude
Spidyr
Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk
Backstairs
Silver Jenny Dollar
Champions Of Red Wine
Born With A Sound
Mass Romantic
First Encore
Dancehall Domine
Sing Me Spanish Techno
The Bleeding Heart Show
Second Encore
Twin Cinema
The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism

Friday, October 10, 2014

Gone Girl - Movie Review

Gone Girl (R) 149 minutes B+
Marriage Gone Wild

Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit, David Clennon, Lisa Banes, Missi Pyle, Emily Ratajkowski, Casey Wilson, Lola Kirke, Boyd Holbrook and Sela A. Ward

Adapted from Gillian Flynn best selling novel of the same name, Gone Girl is not the best film of the year. But, it might be the most intriguing. When Nick Dunne's (Affleck) beautiful wife (Pike) goes missing on their fifth wedding anniversary, it's not long before the façade of their happy marriage crumbles. Nick becomes public enemy number one, while it is also revealed that his wife, Amy, is bat sh*t crazy. This film is a glimpse (albeit, an exaggerated one) into the minds of a young couple who thought they were in love, before realizing they are in hell.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

This is Where I Leave You - Movie Review

This Is Where I Leave You (R) 103 minutes B-
Dysfunction Junction

Starring:  Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Kathryn Hahn, Connie Britton, Corey Stoll, and Timothy Oliphant.

This Is Where I Leave You is an entertaining film adaptation of Jonathan Tropper's popular 2010 novel of the same name.  Directed by Shawn Levy (Date NightThe Internship, Night at the Museum), the film features a good cast, a few laughs and lots of dysfunctional family drama.  The problem is, the drama stuff quickly wears thin and the comedy goes bland.  Eventually the story grows trite and overblown.  But, luckily there is just enough star power (mostly Bateman) to keep the film afloat and enjoyable.    

Watch the trailer ---> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fH0cEP0mvlU

Monday, September 22, 2014

Return to Sender (Album Review)

Released: May 2014
A Letter Home - Neil Young D+

I tend to think of Neil Young as a prolific musical genius.  He has a tendency to go a little rogue (artistically), but that's one of the things that intrigues me.  Before I listening to A Letter Home I was warned (by friends) that the album was a disappointment.  Yet, I was encouraged to check it out because of my affinity for Young and my leanings toward the stripped-down acoustic sound.  After a couple spins, the best way to describe A Letter Home is, "old-timey."  The album, which was recorded in a Voice-O-Graph recording booth, has its moments.  But, there's not enough of those moments to make the album worthwhile.  The snap, crackle and hiss of the recording hampers the music more than helps. The best tracks: My Hometown (Bruce Springsteen cover), Early Morning Rain (Gordon Lightfoot cover) and Girl From the North Country (Bob Dylan cover).

Monday, September 15, 2014

Slow burning Masterpiece (Album Review)

Released: June 2014
Sunbathing Animal - Parquet Courts A-

Sunbathing Animal does not have the hooks of its predecessor, Light up Gold, but critics have held it as a more evolved album. It's a slow burner that I have come to love more and more with each listen. Favorite tracks include: Sunbathing Animals, Black and White, Always Back In Town, Ducking and Dodging, Vienna II, Dear Ramona and Raw Milk

Friday, August 29, 2014

A Few Great Moments (Book Review)

Published: September 2013
The Book of Goodbyes - Jillian Weise C

This book was the winner of the 2013 James Laughlin Award, winner of the 2013 Isabella Gardner Poetry Award, and recognized by NPR and Publishers Weekly as one of the best books of 2013.  I think I expected more than it could deliver. There are a few outstanding moments, but not nearly enough to warrant a higher grade.  That being said, I think Jillian Weise is an intriguing writer and I'd be curious to read more of her work. A few of my favorite poems from The Book of Goodbyes include:
Up Late and Likewise
I've Been Waiting All Night
Poem for His Ex
Poem for His Girl
 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

All My Friends & Lovers (Book Review)

Originally Published: 1986
The Ballad of Sexual Dependency - Nan Goldin B+ 
 
The Ballad of Sexual Dependency is Nan Goldin's most seminal work. This visual dairy chronicles the life and times of her friends and lovers (i.e. her "tribe") spanning from the late 70s to the mid 80s. These photographs are not glamorous, they are real life... warts and all. I can see why many consider this a classic. The photos lingered with me long after I closed the book. Each time I re-examine the pages I find something I didn't see before. The good times, the bad, the longing, and the introspection are uniquely captured here. Reading about Goldin's life and the story behind the photographs add fascinating depth and perspective. This is very interesting work indeed.
 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Off-Roading (Book Review)

Published: September 1957
On the Road - Jack Kerouac C-

On the Road wore out its welcome. I was sort of diggin' it at first, the Colorado stuff was interesting. But, eventually I grew tired of the characters - Sal's ramblings and Dean's antics. I just wanted it to end. On the Road may have been a trendsetter in 1957; however, it doesn't feel vital to me now.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Crushing It (Book Review)

Crush - Richard Silken B-

Published: April 2005
Some have described this book as a cult classic. I have seen so many good reviews of this book I feel like I should like it more than I did. Reading the poems over and over is not just a suggestion, it's a requirement with Richard Siken's award winning debut, Crush. These poems pulled me in, disenchanted me, and pulled me in again. Crush didn't dazzle me as a whole; however, there are moments of pure mastery-

"Tell me about the dream where we pull the bodies out of the lake/ and dress them in warm clothes again./ How it was late, and no one could sleep, the horses running/ until they forget that they are horses." ~From the opening poem, "Scheherazade"

What I admire most about these poems is their ability to feel so damn emotionally vulnerable. As I revisit them in the near future, I hope to peel back the layers I initially missed because my expectations were so high.

Favorite poems include: "Scheherazade," "Driving, Not Washing," "Visible World," and "Dirty Valentine"

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Antagonistic World Peace May Not Be For Everyone (Album Review)

Released: July 2014 
World Peace is None of Your Business - Morrissey B
Misery Loves Company

The more I listen to World Peace is None of Your Business, the more I like the tracks that initially didn't catch my ear. This latest offering from Moz is a hard listen. It's an album that will surely satisfy Moz's core fans, but may or may not convert new listeners. World Peace, his first album in five years, is antagonistic. On the track, "I'm Not a Man," Moz challenges macho stereotypes and delivers the most memorable barb on an album full of memorable barbs - "wolf down, wolf down, T-bone steak, wolf down cancer of the prostate." Track seven, "The Bullfighter Dies," is a short but rousing animal lover's anthem that's sure to please diehard fans. As will the album's second single, "Istanbul," which finds Moz sounding virile and vital on the album's most confident track.

After repeated listens, "Neal Cassady Drops Dead" and "Kiss Me A Lot" may not to have the staying power I initially thought. That's also the case with the flamenco-flavored "Earth is the Loneliest Plant," where our good looking man about town croons, "humans are not really very humane."

Nonetheless, World Peace is more enjoyable than 2009's Years of Refusal. Years is my least favorite Moz solo album and ironically the album Moz claimed to be most proud of in 2011. While World Peace isn't a homerun, it's a solid effort worth listening to. At 55 years of age, Moz is still making interesting and important music. Misery rarely sounds this lovely and sincere.

Favorite tracks include: "I'm Not a Man," "Istanbul," "The Bullfighter Dies," "Kick the Bride Down the Aisle," and "Oboe Concerto."

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Life Itself - Movie Review

Life Itself (R) 120 mins A-
See you at the movies

Starring Roger Ebert, Chaz Ebert, Gene Siskel, Martin Scorsese, Werner Herzog, Ramin Bahrani, Marlene Iglitzen, and the voice of Stephen Stanton

Based on his memoir of the same name, Life Itself is an extremely fascinating, highly entertaining, and ultimately heart-wrenching documentary film that chronicles the life of Roger Ebert. It revealed a side of Ebert that I never knew about - the drinking, the arrogance, the brooding and what one of his friend's called, "the worst possible taste in women." The film also inspired me because he was so passionate, engaging, and open to new/independent film endeavors. But all of that being said, it's impossible to escape the presence of cancer. The disease took a devastating toll on Ebert and those around him. After watching the graphic nature of his battle against cancer, it's hard not to feel sad, helpless and scared. One film critic (who I can't remember) wrote that Life Itself documents "a life well lived." I would add that it also documents how the love of film, love of a companion, love of a great story, can keep us inspired and alive in the face of adversity.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Lucy - Movie Review

Lucy (R) 90 mins B-
Pretty on the outside, empty on the inside

Starring Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Choi Min-sik, Amr Waked and Julian Rhind-Tutt

I probably don't watch enough sci-fi films to know if this film is smart, or trying to be smart. Nevertheless, watching Scar-Jo kick-ass for the better part of 90 minutes isn't a bad way to spend an afternoon. Lucy is what I would describe as a "popcorn movie." I was highly entertained. I enjoyed some buttery popcorn and a cold carbonated beverage. But, I will have forgotten this movie two days from now.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Boyhood - Movie Review

Boyhood (R) 165 mins A
Life

Starring Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater, Marco Perella, Evie Thompson, Brad Hawkins and Jenni Tooley

This film is amazing for several reasons. Filmed in sequence over a 12 year period (2002 to 2013) using the same actors, I found it interesting to watch this cast/their characters grow up and grow older. It seems remarkable that everyone stayed on board with this project for over a decade. Furthermore, no three hour film I have ever seen has done so little (in regard to plot), yet expressed so much. After the credits rolled I walked out of the movie theatre and thought, "that was great! Immediately followed by the thought, "it's too bad more people won't see it. It's cliché to say, but experiences like this is why I go to the movies. This film is real life, full of real ups and downs, yet it's not depressing. People tell me all the time that they go to the movies to escape real life. Boyhood is as good an escape as any 3D alien film, action-adventure film, etc... and one doesn't have to suspend belief.

Boyhood not only follows the plight of a young boy maturing into a young man, it also follows the ebb and flow of adulthood. I usually dread films with running times that exceed 120 minutes. But, this is storytelling so delicate, so humanistic, it needed 165 minutes to unfold organically. By the end of the film I found myself intertwined in these characters- I cared about them. I applauded director Richard Linklater for last year's Before Midnight, hailing it mature film making at its best. But, Boyhood takes it to another level. This is the film that 2011's Tree of Life wished it could be. So, do yourself a favor and go see Boyhood. It is sure to get plenty of buzz six months from now when awards season rolls around. Highly recommended!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Oh, To Be Young, Pretty, and Über-talented (Book Review)

Published: Janurary 2013
I Will Never Be Beautiful Enough to Make Us Beautiful Together - Mira Gonzalez A-
 
I was filled with envy and admiration as I read this book. These poems are exquisitely undemanding, organic and naïve. Some of my favorites include:

"Ryan Gosling"
"Untitled 2"
"I can read a novel out loud while you lie on my floor..."
"McSweeney's caused global warming"
"I wrote a novel about you and saved it to my drafts folder"
"It is June and he wants to leave your room"
"You will roll around in an empty parking lot with him..."
"Untitled 5"
"I feel more lonely when I am with people..." 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Begin Again - Movie Review

Begin Again (R) 104 mins B-
Once but not Twice

Staring: Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Adam Levine, Hailee Steinfeld, James Corden, Cee Lo Green and Mos Def

Begin Again, formerly titled Can a Song Save Your Life? (which was a better title), is from director John Carney.  Carney is best known for his excellent 2007 film, Once.  But, do not go into this film expecting the same excellence from Begin Again.  This latest musical voyage from Carney is respectable and Keira Knightley is endlessly adorable.  However, it feels a little contrived and too pristine.  Mark Ruffalo, who was once my favorite actor on the planet, is serviceable here.  Catherine Keener, let's just say that she makes every film she is in better.   

I did love the concept of making an organic, outdoor album that is recorded in different locations. I also liked the way the film ended- yes it eventually won me over in the end and it even evoked a little emotion from moi. But, ultimately that emotion didn't last, the film is already evaporating from my memory. Begin Again is a nice way to escape the summer heat for a couple hours... just don't expect it to rock your world.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Natalie Merchant's Hungar Banquet (Album Review)

Released: May 2014
Natalie Merchant - Natalie Merchant B+

Natalie Merchant's first album of original material in 13 years promises not to disturb the peace.  However, that doesn’t mean it won’t tug at your heart strings.  During the last decade the former Maniac got married, had a kid and got divorced.  The disillusionment of love and other revelations are laid out here, on this self-titled and self-produced effort.  During an interview with Rolling Stone magazine Merchant explained, "It's a painful, difficult thing to do, to accept that a marriage is unsatisfying. It slowly dies. Or you have to murder it."  That quote is in regard to the first track on the album, "Ladybird." 

I wouldn't call this album a downer, but it's not exactly feel-good folk pop.  The two closing tracks "Lulu" and "The End" are to of my favorites; but, they break my heart each time I hear them. I like that this album sounds genuinely personal and introspective.  Those looking for lite summer fare, this isn't it. This album is a well-crafted, deliberate and effective in a "life-doesn't-always-work-out-how- you-planned" sort of way.  Yet, it also reminds us to move on and keep pushing on because that's what we're suppose to do.   

Favorite tracks: "Ladybird," "Texas," "Lulu," & "The End"   

Further reading:
Rolling Stone Magazine
http://www.rollingstone.com/music/videos/natalie-merchant-premieres-ladybird-video-20140424

NPR
http://www.npr.org/2014/05/07/310476605/album-review-natalie-merchant

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Epic Fiction (Book Review)

Published: September 2007
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz A-

This is an epic book that deserves an epic review; yet, all I can muster is "wow!" Diaz has delivered a novel, his first, that feels like the Pulitzer Prize winning classic it is. Our anti-hero, Oscar, is an obese, non-chick getting, J.R.R.Tolkien wannabe, "ghetto nerd." But, don't let that fool you.  At his core, he's just like the rest of us and that's what makes this book so wondrous. Much like his gritty critcally acclaimed debut short story collection, 1996's  Drown,  Diaz's writing in long form is equally electric and awe-inspiring.  Highly recommended!  

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Night Moves - Movie Review

Night Moves (R) 112 minutes B
Dam, I wish I was your cover

Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, Peter Sarsgaard, Alia Shawkat, James LeGros, Matt Malloy and Katherine Waterson

From the director of Meek's Cutoff (hated it!) and Wendy & Lucy (loved it!) comes Night Moves, a low-key eco-terrorism film that is slow but steady.  Thanks to solid performances by the principle cast, Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, Peter Sarsgaard, this film stays afloat and stays intriguing throughout.  It's likely to be a little too slow for some audiences, but I really enjoyed the quiet mystery and looming darkness that filled these characters.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Dream Big, Be Epic (Album Reviews)

Teeth Dreams - The Hold Steady B+
Epic - Sharon Van Etten A-                                                                              
 
Released: March 2014
Dare I say that Teeth Dreams is the best Hold Steady album yet... Well, I should probably revisit 2006's Boys and Girls in America before making that declaration.  But, the first couple times I listened to Teeth Dreams I was pretty blown away.  It's everything I love about The Hold Steady- gritty, smart, catchy, sensitive and a little geeky.  Plus, this album rocks out with its cock out.  It's alt radio ready with a tingle of arena rock thrown in.  Regardless of whether this is or isn't their best album, it's sounds great right here, right now.  Favorite Tracks: "The Ambassador," "On with the Business," & "I Hope This Whole Thing Didn't Frighten You" 

Released: September 2010 
Sometimes I hear an album and right away I know it's special.  That was the case with Sharon Van Etten's Epic.  Quietly, acoustically, and passionately this album penetrates and stays with me long after it's over.
Favorite Tracks: "A Crime," "Peace Signs," "Save Yourself," & "Don't Do It"

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Blood Jet is Ariel (Book Review)

Published: 1965
Ariel - Sylvia Plath B+

During the last few months of her life Sylvia Plath wrote poems at a frantic pace, in a cold apartment (with no heat in the dead of winter), after her husband, Ted Hughes, reportedly abandoned her and the children for another woman. On February 11, 1963 Plath killed herself. Ariel is the poetry collection that best defines Plath. Not because it is depressing and angry, but because it is graceful, vivid and untamed. She was a remarkable talent and one of my biggest influences. Favorites include: "The Applicant," "A Birthday Present," "You're" and "Fever 103."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hHjctqSBwM&feature=kp 
"Daddy" from Ariel read by Sylvia Plath

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Fed Up - Movie Review

Fed Up (NR) 92 minutes B
Sugar is the new Cocaine

Documentary: Directed by Stephanie Soechtig and narrated by Katie Couric

Food documentaries can be a major downer; yet, they are the ugly truth. Complications from obesity kills more people than hunger these days. The culprit, according to Stephanie Soechtig's new doc, is sugar and the food industry's commitment to the almighty dollar. After viewing Fed Up I felt like I never wanted to eat processed foods again, but then I got hungry. I wish this documentary was required viewing in schools and offered up in the workplace. The message is compelling, relevant, and non-partisan. Realistically, people are never going to stop consuming massive amounts of sugar.  Futhermore, as long as there is money there will be food politics. But, Fed Up has the power to change the way people think about food and perhaps lead to healthier choices... and that's a start.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Neighbors - Movie Review

Neighbors (R) 95 mins B
The old me vs the new me living in disharmony

Starring:  Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Ike Barinholtz and Lisa Kudrow

Sometimes I feel like Seth Rogan is performing in a different version of the same film over and over again; yet, it's still funny. Neighbors is pretty much what one would expect from a comedy starring Rogen- a clever mix of penis jokes, stoner humor, and pop culture references. But, what stood out to me in Neighbors was truth about crossing the invisible threshold from youthful revelry to responsible adult without losing "street cred." While I have definitely embraced some of the quieter moments of middle age, I often struggle with the reality that I am no longer young. Nevertheless, Neighbors is bound to remind you of a time when it was fun to be young and dumb... regardless of if that time was then or now.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Lonely But Not Alone (Album Review)

Released: April 2014
Everyday Robots - Damon Albarn B

After hearing the review on NPR of Damon Albarn's new album, Everyday Robots, I knew it was something I needed to investigate further.  Albarn, who is best known for being the frontman for Blur and half of the virtual band Gorillaz, has finally ventured out on his own. But not without help from a few friends, namely Brian Eno, Natasha Khan, and The Leytonstone City Mission Choir. My least favorite tracks are those featuring the aforementioned choir. Nevertheless, Everyday Robots is a fairly penetrating affair that characterizes a few arresting moments of the human condition. Case in point, the tracks "Lonely Press Play," "Photographs," and my favorite, "The Selfish Giant (featuring Natasha Khan)." This album is easily accessible. It looks and sounds deeply personal from the cover art to the tripping Timothy Leary sample on the track, "Photographs." All in all, this is a very nice album that I recommend for those lazy summer days when one needs to hear something airy, smart, introspective and relaxing. Check it out.

Here is the NPR review by my man Tom Moon http://www.npr.org/2014/04/29/308068267/album-review-everyday-robots

"It's hard to be a lover when the TV's on and nothing is in your eyes." - The Selfish Giant

Monday, May 26, 2014

God's Pocket - Movie Review

God's Pocket (R) 86 mins B
A South Philly Tale

Starring John Turturro, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Richard Jenkins, Christina Hendricks, Caleb Landry Jones

God's Pocket is based on Pete Dexter's first novel (of the same name) published in 1983. The film is written and directed by John Slattery and Alex Metcalf. It features two of my favorite actors, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Richard Jenkins, as well as a voluptuously captivating Christina Hendricks. This gritty drama, sprinkled with dark humor, is set in a rough South Philly neighborhood circa 1978 and centers around Mickey Scarpato (Hoffman). Mickey is a blue collar, hard luck, second tier criminal who is struggling to keep his money right and his wife satisfied. When his maladjusted stepson is "accidentally" killed on a construction site, life gets considerably more complicated for Mickey.

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I enjoy a gritty drama with dark humor. This film is not necessarily the best example, because it feels a little watered down. Nevertheless, it is still highly intriguing and enjoyable. The performances are understated but effective. Fans of Hoffman's indie films won't be disappointed. Everyone else should proceed with caution (and/or wait for it on Netflix).

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Tales From The Hood (Book Review)

Published: July 2007
Drown - Junot Diaz A-

File Under: "Writers I am in awe of." This collection of stories offer an undaunted look at urban life in New Jersey via the Dominican Republic.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Morrissey 25: Live (Movie Review)

Morrissey 25: Live (NR) 92 minutes A-
Maladjusted & Magnificent
 
Tonight there was a special screening of Morrissey 25: Live in Denver - one night, one showing. The concert film marks 25 years as a solo artist for Morrissey. It was shot on March 2, 2013 at Hollywood High School after a sold out show at LA's Staples Center the night before.

If given the opportunity, this film is best experienced on the big screen in all its glory with the volume turned up. Morrissey 25: Live is simply about one night with Morrissey, his music, his band and his crazed fans. Anyone expecting anything else will be gravely disappointed.

Track listing
  1.  Alma Matters
  2.  Ouija Board, Ouija Board
  3.  Irish Blood, English Heart
  4.  You Have Killed Me
  5.  November Spawned A Monster
  6.  Maladjusted
  7.  Still Ill
  8.  People Are The Same Everywhere
  9.  Speedway
  10.  That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore
  11.  To Give (The Reason I Live)
  12.  Meat Is Murder
  13.  Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want
  14.  Action Is My Middle Name
  15.  Everyday Is Like Sunday
  16.  I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris
  17.  Let Me Kiss You
  18.  The Boy With The Thorn In His Side
 http://www.morrissey25live.com/  

Available on DVD & Blu-ray. 
 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Not That Srange, But A Lot Happened (Book Review)

Published: Sept 2009

 
Strange Things Happen - Stewart Copeland B-

Strange Things Happen was not the wild and raunchy rock tell-all I expected from one of rock's most popular drummers, Stewart Copeland of the Police. Nevertheless, Copeland is an interesting guy and a true artist for whom I have a newfound respect after finishing Strange Things Happen. I have never been much of a Police fan, but I enjoyed his anecdotes about creating films scores and jamming with Oysterhead.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Under the Skin - Movie Review

Under the Skin (R) 108 minutes B-
Cruising for Oozing

Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Paul Brannigan and Lynsey Taylor 

I didn't realize how much this film had gotten under my skin until hours after it ended and I was still thinking about it. Under the Skin is weird. It's definitely not for mainstream audiences despite the presence of a mainstream Hollywood star, Scarlett Johansson. But, it is artsy, intriguing, and hypnotically obscure. This film is directed by Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast & Birth) and has the distinct claim of being Johansson's first explicit nude scene in a film.
Under the skin is adapted from Michel Faber’s extraterrestrial novel of the same name. The film is set in Scotland and driven by Johansson’s cryptic performance as Laura. With her plump bosom, vacant eyes, mysterious black hair and full pink lips, Laura cruises the streets of Glasgow. Innocently she talks unsuspecting blokes into her van. She then drives them to an undisclosed location where an inky black pool of deception awaits. I cannot claim to understand what it all means, or its purpose. But, I personally surmise that the film’s essential meaning revolves around the mundane alienation and vulnerability of the human spirit. In our self-obsessed existence we fail to truly understand what is under the skin.

This sci-fi drama is a puzzle film in which all the pieces do not fit; but, don’t get hung up on that. Under the Skin is a one trick pony as far as plot and it feels longer than it actually is. Yet, thanks to Johansson's allure, the Kubrick-like vibe, Mica Levi's ambient soundtrack and Daniel Landis' moody cinematography, audiences should spend more time appreciating the film and less time decoding it. Sometimes it’s just nice to go to the movies and experience something other worldly... even if it leaves you feeling a little mystified.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

An Object of Beauty and Mystery (Book Review)

Published: March 2013
No Object - Natalie Shapero A

In the poem, "Lean Time," Shapero writes: "Outcasts only care what outcasts think." After I read that line I knew I had fallen for Shapero's twisted enlightenment. No Object is smart, witty, challenging, and accessible. Yesterday, I was reading the book in a coffee shop and caught myself saying out loud to myself, "Oh my god, this is brilliant!" These poems are slightly odd, slightly menacing, and full of questions. My favorites include: "Stars," "Bad Key," "Lean Time," "News to Me," "Little Winter," "Our War," "Arranged Hours," "No Please After You," "Hot (Normal)," and "Close Space."

Friday, March 28, 2014

Dead Set with Desire (Book Review)

Published: Sept 2008
Indignation - Philip Roth B

Another Philip Roth novel, another slow starter. But, when Roth's stories kick into gear they tend to drive an emotional dagger through my soul and prompt a re-investigation of my own ruinous behavior and mortality. Indignation, Roth's 25th novel, is set in 1951 during the Korean War.  The protagonist, Marcus Messner, is an  overachieving college sophomore who recently transferred from a small college in his home town of Newark to a conservative college in Ohio... mainly to escape his overprotective father.  In Ohio, Marcus encounters the typical ups and downs of college life.  He also becomes enamored by the lovely, but unstable, Olivia Hutton.  On their first date, Olivia performs fellatio on Marcus and that pretty much signals the beginning of the end for our protagonist. 

However, Indignation is about more than I have described above.  It is about: the relationship between a father and son, life during war time, death, and being a Jewish immigrant in America. But, one of the moments that hit me hardest was an exchange between Marcus and his mother.  (Spoiler Alert!) She begs him not to see Olivia any more, she warns him, "Weak people are not harmless," which leads  Marcus to a crescendo of confusing emotions.

There is a "wow" factor that often accompanies a Philip Roth book, and this one is no exception.  His books may require a little patience in the beginning, but so far they have been worthwhile in the end.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Good God (Music Review)

Released March 2014
Withered Hand - New Gods B+

Spring has sprung and I have a serious contender for my 2014 summer soundtrack. The latest offering from Withered Hand is infectious, accessible, smart, and sounds great loud with the windows rolled down. Under the surface it flirts with some heavy themes, above the surface it just sounds like good, clean, commercial alt-pop. My favorite tracks here include: "Horseshoe," "California," "Fall Apart," "Life of Doubt," and "Black Tambourine."

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Nymphomaniac: Volume I - Movie Review

Nymphomasiac: Volume I (NR)  118 mins C
There will be sex

Starring: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgard, Stacy martin, Shia LaBeouf, Uma Thurman and Christian Slater

I went to see Nymphomaniac: Volume I not because I thought it would be a well-acted cinematic gem, but because the one and only review I read prior to seeing it promised (I'm paraphrasing): lots of explicit sex, intrigue, and a decent storyline. Despite the review I still had my doubts... and my hopes. But, I figured the worst case scenario would be having to sit through two hours of copious, nearly pornographic sex- it's a tough job.  And no, this is not (technically) a porno. It's playing at local art houses in major cities, it's written and directed by Lars Von Triers (2011's Melancholia), and stars the likes of Shia Labeouf, Stellan Skarsgard, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Christian Slater, and a scene stealing Uma Thurman.

However, this film is not for the timid mainstream moviegoer. Some will consider this porn masquerading as art. Others, will simply consider it a two hour porno with too much talking.  Nevertheless, this very cheesy, often lame, and sometimes (unintentionally) funny film managed to peak my curiosity about what happens next (Volume II hits theatres within weeks). Nymphomaniac: Volume I is totally stupid; From the ridiculous metal soundtrack, to its philosophical leanings about love, sex, loneliness and nature.  But, this LVT film has just the right mix of absurdities to make it a bonafide cult classic and enough perversion to make it a guilty pleasure.
 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

You're the one for me, Fatty (Book Review)

Published: Sept 2011 
Fat Girl - Jessie Carty  A-

Fat Girl by Jessie Carty is a collection of poems that are memorable, authentic, and in a manner of speaking, naked. I love the imagery and reality these poems evoke. Much like the Woman of Willendorf, Fat Girl is a work of art that lets it all hang out. My favorites include:

Woman of Willendoff: The Artifact
Basic Geometry
Fat Girl at the OB/GYN
Class Reunion
I'm Trying Weight Watchers
Persephone

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sea Change Part II (Music Review)

Released Feb 2014
Morning Phase - Beck B+

Morning Phase is Beck's first studio album since 2008's Modern Guilt, and is billed as a companion piece to 2002's achingly melancholy Sea Change.  Personally, I really liked Sea Change because at the time it was a radical change in direction in Becks music and his life - a break up (I have always been a sucker for the "break up" album).  Morning Phase has nothing to do with a break up, that I know of, and ultimately it might be a better album than Sea Change because it's more consistent from beginning to end. But regardless of which is better, both albums cover similar terrain and both are delightful in that quiet, moody, introspective kind of way.  My favorite tracks include: "Country Down," "Blackbird Chain," "Unforgiven,"and "Say Goodbye." 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Getting Up to Get Down (Book Review)

Slow Getting Up: A Story of NFL Survival from the Bottom of the Pile - Nate Jackson B

Published: Sept 2013
Once I stopped trying to compare Slow Getting Up to 2008's A Few Seconds of Panic by Stefan Fatsis, I settled in and enjoyed this book. Jackson's account of life in the NFL is entertaining, insightful and light-hearted despite the brutal injuries and subsequent procedures he had to endure during his playing career. Jackson's stint in the NFL my have been cut short, but his writing career looks to be long and winning.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Stains of Despair (Music Review)

Released Feb. 2014
Angel Guts: Red Classroom - Xui Xui B

Xui Xui's latest album, Angel Guts: Red Classroom is the best horror film soundtrack that's not really a horror film soundtrack.  Frontman and songwriter Jamie Stewart is absolutely unapologetic for his doom and gloom, his isolation, and his suicidal thoughts.  On Angel Guts, perhaps their most abrasive album yet, Xui Xui ups the scariness, despair and loneliness.  The beauty is that it feels real, not manufactured.  The albums was inspired by a 1979 Japanese porno of the same name.  My favorite tracks include: "Lawrence Liquors," "Black Dick," "New Life Immigration," "Bitter Melon," and "Botanica de Los Angeles."

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Dispatches from the Desert (Book Review)

July 2013 
The Small Hearts of Ants - Mather Schneider B

I believe it was the English novelist George Eliot (aka Mary Ann Evans) who said, "Don't judge a book by its cover." However, a book's cover can sometimes be a portal or introduction to the writing. A great cover can enhance the reading experience by igniting one's imagination and motivating them to explore further. The Small Hearts of Ants has one of the most sublime cover photos I've seen in a long time. After stumbling upon Schneider's book and poetry online, I also learned of his blue collar background and subsequent adventures in the desert climate of Arizona. A combination of everything I was seeing and reading about TSHA convinced me that I MUST buy the book. At 200+ pages this book could have been a masterpiece had it been a little leaner and a little tighter. Nevertheless, it's still pretty good and one of the most entertaining books of poetry I've read in a while. Reading this book reminded me of listening to a Bruce Springsteen album - it's about hard luck and hard living. It's unpretentious, humanistic and honest. Like a good Springsteen album, it isn't trying to be something its not. Some of my favorites poems here include:
One Minute You're Free
After Reading a Copy of the American Literary Review
On Hitting Forty Three
Be Mine
Dream Girl
The Failure of Natural Selection
Sweet Saturdays
Time to Order More  

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Gloria - Movie Review

Gloria (R) 110 minutes B
Gloria tries to get her groove back

Starring Paulina García, Sergio Hernández, Marcial Tagle, Liliana Garc, Fabiola Zamora and Diego Fontecilla

Gloria (Paulina García) is a fifty-something divorcees seeking love.  I would not describe her as desperate, but she is definitely lonely.  At a night club for middle-aged singles she meets Rodolfo (Sergio Hernández), a retired marine who is recently divorced.  Rodolfo seems enamored with Gloria; however, his baggage makes him more and more unavailable (mentally and physically).  This film works because it is completely unpretentious, genuine, sensitive, perfectly restrained and wonderfully acted.  Written and directed by Chilean director Sebastian Lelio, the film has been nominated and has won numerous awards.

In Spanish with Subtitles

Monday, February 10, 2014

My Gray Morning's Best in Film 2013

1. Her 
2. American Hustle
3. Frances Ha
4. Fruitvale Station
5. Inside Llewyn Davis
6. The Way Way Back
7. Enough Said
8. Philomena
9. In a World
10. Before Midnight
11. The Spectacular Now
12. The Punk Singer
13. Salinger
14. The Butler
15. Dallas Buyers Club
16. Nebraska
17. Blue Jasmine
18. Cutie and the Boxer
19. The Wolf of Wall Street
20. 12 Years A Slave

My Gray Morning Awards 2013

Favorite Female in a Lead Role - Greta Gerwig (Francis Ha)
Cate Blanchett will win the Oscar, Greta Gerwig won my heart

Favorite Female in a Supporting Role - Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years A Slave)
Chiwetel Ejiofor was great, but Lupita Nyong'o might have been better...

Favorite Male in a Lead Role -  Joaquin Phoenix (Her)
His character felt real to me

Favorite Male in a Supporting Role - Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
Transformative performance

Best Director - Her (Spike Jonez)
What can I say, it's his year!

Best Original Screenplay - Her (Spike Jonez)
The film was completely original and unique

Best Adapted Screenplay - Philomena (Steve Coogan & Jeff Pope)
I can't imagine that the book was better

Best Film No One Saw - In a World (Directed & Written by Lake Bell)
It's a little cutesty, but it was also one of the best experiences I had at the movies last year.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

My Gray Morning's Best in Music 2013

1. Trouble Will Find Me - The National
2. Light Up Gold - Parquet Courts  
3. The Worse Things Get... - Neko Case
4. Yeezus - Kanye West
5. (tie) Drifters/Love is the Devil - Dirty Beaches
5. (tie) The Next Day - David Bowie     
 
Best Concert
Dar Williams @ L2 Arts & Culture Center - 1/8/2013