Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Spirit - Album Review

Released March 2017
Spirit - Depeche Mode B+

Spirit is Depeche Mode's 14th studio album. Produced by James Ford of Simian Mobile Disco, Spirit sonically finds the synth icons returning to their roots. Lyrically, it's the most socially aware album of their career. As a long time fan, even I was surprised by how much Spirit resonated after one listen. Depeche Mode has always been great at setting the mood - gloomy, soul-searching, sadomasochistic romanticism. This late-career album successfully marries that nostalgic sound/mood with current affairs. "Where's the Revolution," the album's first single is timely and sets the tone. However, it's just the appetizer prior to the main course. On "The Worst Crimes,"Gahan croons "/Blame misinformation/Misguided leaders/Apathetic hesitation/Uneducated readers." On the opening track, "Going Backwards," a poignant slow burner, the lyrics are direct and on target -"We are still in debt/To our insanities/We're going backwards/Turning back our history." But, my favorite album cut is all about the politics of dancing, the sultry "You Move." After listening to this album It's hard to believe it's been 36 years since Depeche Mode's debut, Speak and Spell. Spirit is an album that sounds more and more vital with each listen. My favorite tracks: You Move, The Worst Crime, Fail, and Scum

My Top Five D-Mode albums

1. Violator (1990)
2. Ultra (1997)
3. Music For the Masses (1987)
4. Some Great Reward (1984)
5. (tie) Spirit (2017)
5. (tie) Songs of Faith and Devotion (1993)

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Nix - Book Review

Published: Aug 2016
The Nix - Nathan Hill B

The Nix is a sprawling novel that has all the makings of a classic. It's witty, funny and surprising; a multilayered epic about family dysfunction, thwarted love and political unrest (among other things). This is one helluva debut. But, ultimately the novel is too ambitious for its own good. It's lengthy and I learned more about online gaming than I care to know. Otherwise, The Nix is sort of brilliant.

Check out the NPR review by Jason Sheehan below

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Lion - Movie Review

Lion (PG-13) 118 mins C
A fascinating story that fails to roar

Starring: Dev Patel, Sunny Pawaer, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara, David Wenham, Abhishek Bharate, Divian Ladwa, Priyanka Bose, Deepti Naval, and Tannishtha Chatterjee.

Saroo (Pawaer) is a five-year old Indian boy. He falls asleep on a train and wakes up thousands of miles from home. Suddenly, he's a stranger in a strange land lost and alone. Based on a true story, Lion is the kind of drama that should tug at your heart strings. However, the film had no such effect on me. Young Saroo was the best thing about the film, he was truly a lion. But, young Saroo eventually grows up and the film skips ahead twenty years or so. Adopted by a nice Australian couple (Kidman & Wenham), a mature Saroo (Patel) is now attending college, has a hot new girlfriend (Mara) and a bright future ahead of him. Yet, his past begins to haunt him more and more. He becomes sullen and emotionally divided between his past and present. Enter Google Earth. Saroo becomes obsessed with Google and finding his birth family.

This is an intriguing and remarkable true story. There's nothing inherently bad about the film; however, it felt flat and it didn't resonate with me at all. Although, judging by all the sniffling in the dark theatre, it resonated with a lot of my fellow moviegoers. If you're in the mood for a sentimental true life tearjerker with an adorable child act- this one is for you. Me, not so much.

See the trailer via YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVgzmj-bK0c

A Long Way Home via NPR http://www.npr.org/2014/06/22/323355643/with-memories-and-online-maps-a-man-finds-his-way-home

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Loving - Movie Review

Loving (PG-13) 123 minutes D
Love Crimes

Starring: Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga, Marton Csokas, and Michael Shannon

I can't express how significant Loving v. Virginia (1967) is to me. I do not take Richard and Mildred Loving for granted. They were the interracial couple whose love was deemed unlawful in Virginia when they married in 1958. But, I'm sorry to say that this film (directed by Jeff Nichols) did nothing for me. Ho-Hum.

See it for yourself and let me know what you think.

Check out the trailer via YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQMF5MSohPA

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Curb Service: A Memior - Book Review

Published July 2013

Curb Service: A Memoir - Scot Sothern C+

Scot Sothern has made a career of photographing prostitutes. His passion for photography and affinity for streetwalkers led to his first book in 2011, Lowlife (published in the UK), and subsequent photography exhibits around the world. In 2013, Curb Service: A Memoir was published by Soft Skull Press. It's an unapologetic narrative that centers around Sothern prowling for and photographing prostitutes, while trying to maintain a "normal" life that includes an ex-wife, a son he adores, and a steady job. The book is gritty and bleak. Sothern does not glamorize or attempt to rationalize his nasty habit. The women he documents are often homeless, drug addicted, and forgotten. Curb Service is part junkie memoir, part exposé. Sometimes it's flat, sometimes it's redundant, but mostly it's too perverse to ignore.

For more info about the book, see the link below via americansuburbx.com (NSFW!)

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Elle - Movie Review

Elle (R) 130 mins B-
Oh! So Twisted.

Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Laurent Lafitte, Charles Berling, Judith Magre, Christian Berkel, Virginie Efira, Authur Mazet, Jonas Bloquet, Alice Isaaz, and Anne Consigny

Elle is a rape-revenge drama directed by Paul Verhoeven (Total Recall, Basic Instinct, Robocop). Verhoeven has been quoted as saying, "No American actress would ever take on such an amoral movie." Hence, his first French-language feature, critically his best work, and a provocative mind f**k. It stars an ageless Isabelle Huppert who delivers a captivating performance that hasn't gone unnoticed. At last count, Huppert has been nominated "Best Actress" for at least a dozen awards- most notably (to general audiences) for this year's Golden Globe.

Michelle (Huppert) is unbreakable. She's the head of a sexually charged/violent video game company, she's sleeping with her best friend's husband, her son is a money sucking underachiever with a pregnant girlfriend in tow, and her mother is shacking up with a young gigolo... none of which comes close to the most dramatic event happening in her life. I went into his film with a vague notion of what it was about, and if you plan to see this film (she'll likely be nominated for an Academy Award) I suggest the same approach. The film, a thriller, kept me guessing- I thought I knew what I was getting into, then I didn't, then I did. The film goes on too long and it felt messy. Nevertheless, Huppert's performance is worthy of viewing and worth the price of admission. Elle is a challenging piece of art, not for everyone. However, it's been lingering in my mind since I left the theatre.

Based on Philippe Djian's novel "Oh..."

Check out the trailer courtesy of YouTube & Sony Pictures Classics https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gM96ne-XiH0

Saturday, January 7, 2017


Jackie (R) 100 mins B
A biopic that looks and feels a little different

Starring: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup and John Hurt

Jackie is Pablo Larrain's latest film and first English-language feature. The Chilean filmmaker provides a unique look at an iconic life that has spent most of its historical relevance in the shadows. Natalie Portman plays an emotionally distraught Jackie Kennedy during the aftermath of her husband's assassination. The film is sullen, abrasive, and slightly awkward; however, those qualities only magnify Portman's Oscar-worthy performance and Larrain's fresh perspective.

Check out the Fox Searchlight Trailer via YouTube