Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Flying Under the Radar

This year has been filled with some memorable movie moments. From No Country for Old Men to Michael Clayton to Hot Fuzz, we've seen some great screen gems. There are always a few great films that fly under the radar and never get noticed. As I have yet to see everything considered in most top lists, I don't know what the best movie of the year is going to be. However, I do know that a certain film flew under the radar of most critics lists and deserves a fair shot as one of 2007's best films.

The film in question is Werner Herzog's Rescue Dawn. The true story of Deiter Dengler, a German American pilot during the Vietnam War, is a riveting, harrowing and uplifting tale of survival. The story takes place early in the Vietnam Conflict when most people wouldn't have expected it would turn into a full scale war. The mission was top secret and Dengler was shot down somewhere over Laos. His capture leads to a trek through the jungle, torture and then imprisonment. His is held with only a few other hostages, two other Americans and three south Vietnemse. With the help of Dengler, they are able to escape the camp, but then are on the run from the Viet Cong, the elements and even friendly fire. The harsh Jungle is the biggest threat to the saftey of Dengler, yet through a miracle and through his ingenuity, he is able to get rescued and become a hero to many other Vietnam pilots.

Christian Bale fills the role of Deiter Dengler and, as usual, brings his A game. Throught the film, he slowly gets thinner, shaggier and more convincing in the role of an imprisoned man. Another challenging role for the actor, he doesn't miss a beat nailing the performance of a man who would not give up on his life.

The surprise joy of this film comes in the performance given by Steve Zahn. Yes, that Steve Zahn. He plays another military pilot named Duane Martin and immediately becomes a friend of Dengler. Zahn approaches his role with that borderline shell shocked attitude that so many Vietnam Vets came home with, but it comes off convincing and authentic rather than goofy or inappropriate. The relationship between Dengler and Martin is one of the films finest touches.
The other triumph is the cinematography. The wild and dangerous jungle of Laos and Vietnam is captured in all it's untouched beauty. The dangerous and safegaurds of the jungle are used to the advantage of the characters and the scenes of transit through the jungle are beautifully shot. Werner Herzog's documentary work in the past gives this feel a realistic vision which makes the story all the more riveting and exciting.
Amongst one of many movies that will be forgotten this year in the awards race, Rescue Dawn has a lot to offer. An emotional and engaging story, interesting characters with realistic struggles and gorgeous cinematography leads to one of the best film performances of the year.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Sci-Fi Noir

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the darkness at Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain...Time to die."

With a little help from a new and improved final cut, Blade Runner has the chance at impacting another generation of minds. With it's utterly impressive ahead-of-its-time special effects, brilliant screenplay and stand-out performances, it's no surprise that Blade Runner is one of the greatest films in Hollywood history.
A bumpy first release of Blade Runner will forever plague it's brilliance. Originally released in 1982 with a dense, overbearing voice over by Rick Deckard and a crappy tacked on ending, Ridley Scott quickly was unhappy with the way his film was released. A few years later, he released a Director's cut which polished it up, took away the crappy ending and voice over and was considered the definitive edition. Now in theaters for a short time and on an intense 5 disc collector's series, the "Final Cut" is being released. The Final Cut only polishes the film more making the transitions clearer, the effects sharper and some small differences that even most fans can't tell.

Why re-release Blade Runner now? That's what I'm thinking. It may be the 25th Anniversary of the film's original release, but it might be because the dystopian epic is just as relevant today is it was in the 80's during the technology revolution and the impending doom of the Cold War.

For those unaware, the film is based (only loosely) on Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. The film takes place in the future. A race of Artificial Intelligence known as Replicants were created basically as Slave labor on outer world colonies. These replicants start an uprising as they have some emotive responses and are almost human. A group of replicants escape their slavery and head back to earth, which is illegal. Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a Blade Runner taken in to hunt down the replicants and "retire" them before they can cause any harm. The plot runs thicker when a new model of Replicant is able to have memories, true human emotions and even learn their own emotive responses. This poses interesting ethical issues and shows the danger that replicants can now face.

There is a lot more to it, but delving much further is unnecessary in this post as it would give away what's so special about Blade Runner. The most important thing in this film is it's central characters. Deckard, modeled after your typical noir anit-hero is brilliantly played by Harrison Ford. He gives the character a strange demeanor that shows a dark past and an interesting question that fans have wanted to know for years. It's these kinds of roles that really show the true extent of Ford's ability as an actor. Usually getting these brute, tough-guy roles would type cast the actor (Han Solo, Indiana Jones, etc.) but Deckard has a lot more going on beneath his tough guy attitude that makes it a truly unique performance.

The real acting triumph is in the demonic/heroic Roy Batty. Rutger Hauer, a fallen angel of sorts, poured more than everything into this role making it one of the most stirring and brilliant performances, if not the best, of his career. Batty has the kind of scary maliciousness that offers not only an edge of your seat villain, but in the long run, a sympathetic hero for the replicants. His goal is to extend his life and that of his four comrades. Isn't it the goal of every human to live as long as they can? With only a four year lifespan, it's harder for a replicant. This sympathetic side shows true depth to these characters.
Edward James Olmos plays the most strange and elusive character in the entire film. His brilliant line "It's too bad she won't live! But then again, who does?" is the whole point of the film. More existential then most would assume, Blade Runner is a film ahead of the pack. It's an action sci-fi film with film noir elements and a deep subtext about identity, life and the struggle to stay alive. The Final Cut of Blade Runner is a great big-screen experience and a fantastic classic that deserves a new generation of fans.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Top Albums of 2007

Although this is mostly a movie blog, I do however do this every year at the end of the year. Although there are a few weeks left, I'm going to say that nothign can top the ten albums that I will put on hear (that I can forsee.) If something brilliant comes along, I will add that as an addendum to this post another day.... if you care. So here are the ten best albums of 2007.

10. Radiohead - In Rainbows - Although overall slightly not what I was expecting, Radiohead's ambitious and somewhat groundbreaking In Rainbows makes the list. Not jsut for it's over hyped online for "whatever price you want" without a label "gimmick", but because it's Radiohead as a cohesive, audible band again. Not that Kid A, Amnesiac and Hail to the Theif are bad, but it's nice to hear Johnny Greenwood's guitar again. Songs like "Bodysnatchers" show us that Radiohead can rock out and be brooding at the same time. The re-recording of "Nude" is a beautiful arrangement of ambience, orchestration and simplicity that was missing from Radiohead in past efforts. It's a beautiful album of great songs. I can't wait for the Disc Box which is en route. This will make it even more of a contender for this list as a bonus disc of tracks as well as album art will make the In Rainbows experience more worth while.

9. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible - Following up one of the best debut albums in the past 10 years is tough, but Arcade Fire has done a decent job of side-stepping the Sophmore Slump. Not much has changed in the style of arrangements and the array of instrumentation we heard on Funeral, but Neon Bible still stands out as a sequel to their Baroque Pop sounds. Pipe Organs, orchestras, grandiose harmonies and piano driven songs are the backbone of the album. The lyrics are as romantic and epic as in the first album and Win and Regine take the helm at the vocals adding the flair of mixing it up. Losing their sense of urgency and with more of a brooding overtone, Arcade Fire strikes a bit darker than it's predocessor. "Black Mirror" points in the direction of where the album takes you, the two-part "Black Wave/ Bad Vibrations" shows the many facets included in the album in one song and "Intervention" stands as the albums full on Baroque Prog epic with booming organs that sound from a time long lost. Overall, the album stays true to what we would expect from Arcade Fire and is a good new full-length entry in what is hopefully a fruitful career.

8. Pelican - City of Echoes - A lot of friends of mine were talking about this band early in the year and so I went on the search for Pelican's City of Echoes. Once I found it, which I got in conjunction with a compilation with another Pelican song on it, I immediately heard what everyone was talking about. Although not their debut (that was a self titled EP in 2001), this is a perfect disc to get into a great rock band. One thing to note to thsoe who may be unfimiliar with Pelican as I was pre-summertime: this is an instrumental band. Think Explosions in the Sky or Mogwai, but harder at times. The songs are thought provoking workouts in both heavy rock and calm instrumentation. The crafty guitar playing and intricate beats set up bring the listener into a world of strange beauty. The songs elucidate a truly gratifying feeling inside. The disc kicks off right with "Bliss in Concrete" and this melodic metal (if you can call it that) sprawls over the next few tracks giving way to the acoustic and organic "Winds with Hands." Picking up the kick of the first few tracks is the traumatizingly hypnotic "Dead Between the Walls." All the grandiose epic rocking leads to the cathartic and calm track "A Delicate Sense of Balance." leaving you cooled, refreshed and ready to start the album over again.

7. Wilco - Sky Blue Sky - Back to it's roots, Wilco's Sky Blue Sky is a meditative reflection for Jeff Tweedy and Co. Less of it's drug addled jamming and more straight-from-the-heart lyrics than their last two efforts, this album is a beautiful reflection peice in the vein of most tracks off of Being There. When the songs do jam out, their is no heavy distortion or ambience filling in the holes, it's just the band as is without all the frills attached and over production. Keeping it simple, Tweedy's lyrics are more of the centerpiece than the overall experience of the songs. Songs like "Sky Blue Sky" and "Please Be Patient With Me" are the albums most straightforward tracks. "Impossible Germany" and "Side With The Seeds" are the most jamtastic tracks teh album sees, but again the simple straightforward guitar work tells the tale and fills the space. "Walken" is the happiest tune on the album making one feel glad to be alive while "Hate It Here" is a heartbreaking anthem with a misleadingly catchy jaunt to it. Overall, Wilco can't go wrong writing good songs the make you feel all sorts of emotions. The real triumph is in it's simplicity.

6. Vietnam - The self titled debut from Vietnam is the kind of album that is labeled retro or throwback before giving it a chance. Not that being retro or throwback is a bad thing, but it's definitely worth setting aside all the similarities to electric Dylan and other electrif folk and blues bands out there. That being said, it's best to describe this as a classic late-60's revolution rock group. If there is any time that resembles the 60's, it's our current state of affairs. Although the innocence of the 60's is gone, the sound of it's musical revolution is clearly still impacful on new groups today. Vietnam packs in some epic classic rock, tongue twisting Dylanesque poems and reverb-tastic guitar work. Vietnam also packed a brilliant punch live when they opened for The Lemonheads late in '06. At that point, they just had an EP, but the self titled release shows the promise of good old American Rock and Roll to come. "Step On Inside" is the perfect mission statement with it's gospel choir style harmonies and building music. "Priest, Poet and Pig" is where you get your biggest slab of Dylanesque storytelling where "Mr. Goldfinger" shows their more tongue in cheek social conscience peering through the reverb. Listening to these tracks is a refreshing reminder that straightforward songwriting and rocking is no longer a thing of the past.

5. The Shins - Wincing the Night Away - One indie rock band that has yet to dissapoint (minus there cult success after the lackluster movie Garden State sent them into somewhat-super stardom) is The Shins. With their third album, although overall not a huge leap forward, there is something about Wincing The Night Away that shows growth, development and adding sleek production to the table. With songs about the lead singers insomnia (hence the album title and the first track "Sleeping Lessons") we get a dreamscape of melodies and lush lyrics that resonate much like the tracks off of Chutes Too Narrow. The dreamy melodies are enchanting and altogether soothing. The songs jumpiest anthem, "Australia", is easily one of the best songs of '07 with it's danceable beat and groovy melodies. "Sea Legs" and "Split Needles" both have a jaunty aura stretching the mold of sounds that The Shins have done in the past and what they are doing currently. "Red Rabbits" is more ethereal with a strange ambient feel to it, but still shining it's bright pop music light on the listeners ears. Wincing the Night Away is another stellar outing for The Shins who seem to be one of this decades finest indie rock bands.

4. The Earlies - The Enemy Chorus- When whittling away the last four albums of the year, it was hard for me to rank them. In my interim best of 07 list mid-year, The Earlies wound up at #1. But with the release, discovery and overall aesthetic, they dropped a few spots still within the top five. That being said, nothing is wrong with this album. If anything, everything is right with it. A great spectical and fanfare of psychedelia is ladeled over Beach Boy style harmonies and frenzied orchestrations. With a variety of songs, this album has some of the best pacing on an album like any good concept album should. Kicking off with the frenzied "No Love In Our Hearts" and plowing through several frantic tracks, the listener is sucked into the world the Earlies have created. The pace slows with the beautiful ballad "The Ground We Walk On" and gets a brooding outlook on both my personal favorite "Bad is as Bad Does" and the instrumental "Gone for the Most Part" only to burst back triumphantly with the horn driven "Foundation and Earth." Quite the listening experience overall, The Enemy Chorus will bring forth images of granduer and of a foreign world.
3. Charlotte Gainsbourg - 5:55 - This is gorgeosity manifested in audio. With the french duo Air taking care of the music, Jarvis Cocker and Neil Hannon covering the poetry and Nigel Goodrich helming the project by producing it, Charlotte Gainsbourg's first effort since she was 13-years old, 5:55 is a triumphant pop record. Charlotte's voice is a soothing, sultry and innocent tone that is enrapturing. As usual, Air creates gorgeous arrangements that float through the atmosphere that they create. The lyrics are truly wonderful love songs of love lost and found or strained. "The Operation" has some of the strangest imagery for a love song making it utterly unique and beautiful at the same time. The singles "5:55" and "The Songs That We Sing" are that kind of radio friendly songs that you will never hear on th radio. "Tel Que Tu Es" is the only track in Charlotte's native tongue and "Beauty Mark" is a lullaby for the ages. The standout track from this album is far and away the passionate "Everything I Cannot See." The exassperation in Charlotte's delivery matches the fragile notes pounded out on the piano. It's to be noted that Air released their album Pocket Symphony this year as well, however, it seems their finest work was put into this project, one that hopefully will spawn more works of staggering beauty.

2. Dinosaur Jr. - Beyond - The comback of the year lies within the fossil restructuring of Dinosaur Jr.'s original lineup. J Masics, Barlow and Murph reunite for the furiously amazing Beyond, an album crystallized in the amber of late 80's grunge. Although more polished and less sludgey than their earlier works, Beyond most resembles the trios first few albums, namely their masterpiece (up to this point) You're Living All Over Me. 22 years since the original line-up recorded and 10 years since the Dinosaur Jr. name walked the earth, Beyond acts as if they never left or ever ceased to be a cohesive entity. From the opening licks of "Almost Ready" to the closing fury of "What if I Knew", we see the remergence of Dinosaur Jr. as a viable rock band and hopefully one that will continue to sludge forth. Barlow's "Back to Your Heart" reeks of flannel, ripped jeans and stage diving. The sound of a youth of yesterday that still rigns true today is a refreshing feel. It's also strange to realize the fact that the sound of this album is now 20 years old. Weird. My choice for best song of 2007 comes in "Pick Me Up", a 6 minute anthem of epic proportions which has the structure of genius and guitar licks to peirce the ears when fully blasted, but to be fully appreciated by anyone walking down the street when your car windows are rolled down and the song is playing at maximum velocity. It's good to have an old favorite back, and their live show is one to be rivaled by any other band out there.

1. Justice - † - And here it is, the numero uno, the surprise of the year. The French Duo, Justice, was first discovered by myself on the Death From Above 1979 remix album Romance Bloody Romance. Their version of "Blood on Our Hands" was hypnotic and primal. It was danceable and brutal. It led me to search far and wide for anything and everything else they did. I stumbled upon †, or Cross if you will, at the beginning of the summer and immediately was entranced by it's gorgeous rollicking techno. It was a mechanical techno that wasn't afraid to bear it's fangs and bite into your ear drums with pulsating beats and fantastic melodies. If it weren't for the seamless dance epic it is, Cross would not be as high on this list. What makes Justice brilliant here is it's one long epic dance fest. Where Girl Talk drops the ball and just has a gimmicky feel of mixing tones of songs to create one dense track, Justice creates all original licks with a few samples here and there to create the sexiest atmosphere on record in 2007. From it's opening fanfare on "Genesis" to the frantic nature of "Let There Be Light" and into the radio friendly and utterly remixable "D.A.N.C.E.", we have a frenzied first three tracks with seamless goodness. French techno diva Uffie makes a guest appearance on "TTHHEE PPAARRTTYY" for the albums late in the game mission statement and the duo of "Phantom" and "Phantom Pt. 2" give the album it's most enjoyable one-two punch. All in all, a genre not taken too seriously, and yet maybe a little too seriously at times, Justice's Cross is anything but a burden, except maybe to your whole body after so much dancing. Their tour this year was also a sick delight of mixing the best worlds of the album and a live performance.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

American Gothic

When it comes to the dark side of Americana in cinema, no one captures the essence of America like the Coen Brothers do. In their latest American Gothic tale, the Cormac McCarthy adaptation of No Country For Old Men, many facets of American life are focused on. Beyond this, a mesmerizing tale of brutal violence is told through three amazing characters. It's not often a director (in this case, brothers) can come back form a hiatus and make yet another masterpiece.

The Coen Brothers have somewhat fallen by the wayside with their last few efforts. The disappointing remake of The Ladykillers and the lackluster Intolerable Cruelty were tough films to watch from a reliable source. The days of Fargo, The Big Lebowski and Raising Arizona seemed to be in the distant past. Lucky for us, with great source material came greatness on the screen. No Country For Old Men, which has similar themes to Fargo, is an amazingly riveting addition to the Coen Brothers repertoire.

The story begins as Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles upon a massacre along the border of Texas and Mexico. He finds a large amount of Heroin and a satchel filled with $2.4 million dollars amongst the bullet riddled bodies. Here in lies the main point of many conflicts. When someone finds that much money, you know someone else has to be looking for it. Enter Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), the "ghost" who has no moral compass, no soul and is armed with an industrial cattle prod and a shotgun with a silencer. Anyone who lays eyes on him is dead shortly thereafter. Hot on his trail is Sherriff Ed Campbell (Tommy Lee Jones.) He's your typical southern law man. Quick on his toes, smart, funny and a man of the people. He echoes the heroes of the old west with one difference: he's on his last legs as a lawman and hanging up his gun. Needless to say, the murderous rampaging of Chigurh.

The film takes an amazing approach to suspense. The stark, fiery landscapes are veiled in a soundless expanse. Unlike many thrillers, suspense is built in close to total silence. The lack of a soundtrack may have been the best move. No string arrangements were necessary to keep you on the edge of your seat and watching your back.

The three lead performances were incredible. Josh Brolin, who before now I would never peg as anything more than the older brother from The Gooines, plays his 'Nam Vet with a cool, calm and collected atmosphere. Although his character is flawed, he is the kind of tragic hero that you just can't help but like. There is something dark about him, but you can't but help to route for him throughout.

Tommy Lee Jones puts together yet another great performance. His character is very similar to the one he played in his directorial debut The Three Burials of Malquiedas Estrada (check out me Neo-Western post for more on that fabulous film.) His character is the moral epicenter of the film, which without him would show a world without heroes or people with morals. It's a good balance between Moss and Chigurh.

And now onto Javier Bardem. When I think of purest evil, this will now be the face, voice and overall demeanor I want to see. Forget Darth Vader. Forget Hannibal Lector. Forget the Devil himself. Anton Chigurh has no moral compass, no regard for any human life (minus children surprisingly) and a strange set of principles that he has to live by. Literally putting lives up to the toss of dime and killing anyone who lays eyes on him put with a few unexplained exceptions (children and those who win the coin toss) is a chilling attribute that makes him one of the greatest movie villains you will ever encounter. His little boy haircut, his pressurized cattle prod and his blank stare are enough to leave you on the edge of your seat.
With a film of this caliber and this amount of excellent acting, not to mention superb cinematography, this is sure to be one of those movies you can't forget and hopefully one of those moveis that goes on to acheive great awards and legendary status.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Wholphins Can('t) Suck It!

Thanks to a friend's brother, I was introduced to an amazing Film Magazine (of sorts) released by McSweeny's. Entitled Wolhpin, most of the films collected on these DVD magazines are rare or unseen shorts by some of today's best directors and older unseen footage. Basically just like McSweeny's started as a magazine for rejected works of literature, these are rejected or unseen works of filmmaking. With the likes of Spike Jonze, Bob Odenkirk, Steven Soderbergh and many more, these itneresting peices of filmmaking definitely show that Wholphin is something any art student/film nerd is going to want/need in their veins.

I was able to see most of volume one and parts of three and I have picked out a few to talk about here, but these are best watched and discussed by many. I highly recommened everyone who reads this to check it out.

1. Untitled Al Gore Doc~ Spike Jonze- On Wholphiun Vol. 1, a documentary that should have been released when it was made shows the amazing contrast side of Al Gore during his campaign in 1999. Spike Jonze invades a weekend visit with the Gore family and shows a soft, loose side of the man who came off as a stiff loser during the 2000 election. He makes great statements about his campaing that I don't remember hearing and he shows that he's more human than robot. Definitely an awesome 13 minute doc.

2. Tactical Advantage- Seriously, this is my vision of God. I hope he is like this and I hope heaven is like this.

3. The Big Empty ~ Lisa Chang and Newton Thomas Siegel (2005) - This is a fantastic short about a woman and her big, empty vagina. Yes, her empty Vagina, folks. It's Hartley meets Allen meets Vonnegut. A beautifuly love story and cinematic eye candy. Selma Blair has never been so good.

4. The Writer ~ Carson Mell (Animated) A hilarious look into the mind of a Writer and what makes him tick. I think this one is on his website.

Once I get the DVD's, I will host a viewing of these great shorts.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Romantic Rights (Part Two)

Most of these are going to be unlikely movies of romance, but it's in the quirky comedies and such that true romance shines.

2. The Jerk- "Tonight You Belong to Me"

First watch.

Now, the reason I find this to be one of those cinema moments where I get all warm inside is because of the naivete of Navin R. Johnson. Here we have one of the most naive and lovable characters to ever grace the screen. So out of the loop, he believes he is black until his parents finally tell him. He knows nothing of the world outside what he has known (which is a poor black family living in the south.) He is filled with the urge to learn new things but his scope is so small, that people living in the outside world see him as a fool. He meets the lovely Marie Kimble, as pure as snow and comes off just as innocent. They hit it off and after Navin dumps his biker girlfriend who taught him he has "a special purpose", they go on a date or two. The scene above is one of the sweetest moments mainly for the post song dialogue when Navin says that he wishes he could float through the coronet that she's playing, through the valves and through the tubes and give her a kiss on the lips. When she asks why he didn't, he says "I didn't want to get spit all over me." It's this innocence that makes Navin R. Johnson utterly the romantic.

God I love filmmaking.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Upcoming Awesomeness

Before The Darjeeling Limited, I was treated to seeing some fantastic previews of movies I was unaware of that were coming out. Let's take a look:

1. Juno- Directed by Jason Reitman, who treated us to Thank You For Smoking in 2006, Juno looks like an excellent follow-up. The movie looks like Knocked Up but involving teenage pregnancy. Quirky characters, starring the likes of Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, Rainn Wilson and soon to be a big star Ellen Page (remember her as Kitty Pride in X-Men 3), this is sure to be at the very least entertaining and heartwarming.

2. Funny Games- This looks awesome, yet doing some online research, this film is a remake... from 1997... and its the same director. This makes me seem a bit interested about if this is going to be any good. The trailer, however, makes it out to look like a cross between a Bret Easton Ellis novel and The Ref minus Christmas time. Tim Roth and Naomi Watts are sure to bring the goods.

3. Sleuth- Jude Law + Michael Caine = Yes. Another remake helmed by Kenneth Brahnah, this clearly will be good with the acting talents this movie has. An interesting plot and definitely great direction is a recipe for success.

Also frothing over the wait for There Will Be Blood & No Country For Old Men.

Friday, October 19, 2007

About A Documentary

Coming out this weekend at a theater near you is one of the years most interesting and ambitious film experiences. Played at the Philadelphia Film Festival this year was a film called Kurt Cobain: About a Son. Part documentary, part cinema verite, part slideshow, About a Son is a film of images juxtaposed with clips taken from hours of interviews. The only voice heard is that of Cobain himself talking about his childhood, growing up in the suburbs of Seattle and his inspirations on life, his relationships and, of course, his music.

What makes this film different is it's overall style. Mostly live action shots that have loose connection to the life of Cobain, no footage of the icon is used until the very end of the film. It's an interesting focus on the anti-icon that Cobain became. The useage of footage of the areas Cobain knew as home, mainly Aberdeen, Washington and the surrounding cities in which Cobain lived, wrote, played, went to school and the like is a startling look into the soul of Cobain. The stark landscape of Washington is as deep, empty and somewhat flourishing with life just as Cobain seemed to be on the surface.

The most documenting part is the interview clips. All through the voice of Cobain himself, we hear from the horses mouth his thoughts on his troubled life and his self-image which was a stark contrast to what the media made him out to be. His troubled childhood plagued with illness and severe depression shows a deep, startling insight into his death and his psyche around the time leading up to it. One thing is for sure: after seeing this film, Cobain comes off as a normal down to earth guy who did nothing but love his child, his wife and his life outside of the limelight.

One last tidbit that makes this even more interesting of a film is it's soundtrack. One would assume we would hear some versions of Nirvana songs or even jsut some Kurt Cobain solo demoes used as backing to his stories. Instead, the filmmakers use songs that reflect what Cobain enjoyed and was influenced by. The soundtrack has some classic rock, such as Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Up Around the Bend" which dates back to Cobain's time in a CCR cover band. Groups like Mudhoney, the Melvins, Butthole Surfers and Bad Brains which are clear examples of what Nirvana would soon to base their style of grunge and pop songs are also used and discussed in the film. Ben Gibbard's original tune "Indian Summer" is also sued in the soundtrack. He also co-wrote the score for the film.

Kurt Cobain: About a Son is definitely an interesting undertaking in filmmaking. It is a startling work of borderline genius. My only question here is does this style of filmmaking work? Would this work with any other icon or person? My guess is no given the way the interviews were done and then executed. However, this is not to say that it doesn't work for Cobain in a very breathtaking way. For lovers of cinema, this is a very impotant moment. For fans of Nirvana, this is a brilliant insight into its main man. To the average person, it may not eb the kind of moviegoing experience your looking for.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Train in Vain

When looking towards Wes Anderson's fifth film, a lot of people said "is it going to be any good?" My initial response was "It's Wes Anderson. You really can't go wrong." I was partially correct with this after seeing The Darjeeling Limited. What I didn't know was that not only would it meet my expectations, but it would far surpass them. Not that this is the greatest film in Anderson's catalouge, but it may be the first that shows some significant growth.

The Darjeeling Limited is a story of a relationship between three estranged brothers. Francis (Owen Wilson) is the oldest taking on the responsibilities of their deceased father and estranged, lost mother. Peter (Adrien Brody) is the most mysterious with secrets of his own that slowly unfold, is also the most independent and stubborn brother getting the best conflicts out of oldest brother Francis. Jack (co-writer and veteran Jason Schwartzman) is the youngest and the most volitile with a load of emotional baggage including his love of women and his paranoia about his girlfriend (Natalie Portman whose in a single wordless shot, but co-star of Anderson's short Hotel Chevalier.) Aboard the Darjeeling Limited on a highly organized "Spiritual Journey" nothing short of hilarity and conflict insues between the three estranged and strange brothers. Trips to temples where they ask what they should pray for, downing tons of watered down foreign perscription drugs to get a buzz going and squabbles over their deceased father's stuff lead to some hilarious classic Wes Anderson scenes.

As always, the light doesn't only shine on the protaganist(s) in a Wes Anderson film. Leave it to those with a few lines to sometimes steal the light of the journey. Amara Karan, who plays Rita, the apple of young Jack's eye is a beacon of truth and fragility on the train's volitie atmosphere. Waris Ahluwalia plays Rita's boyfriend and cheif steward of the Darjeeling Limited is now a two time vet of the Anderson clan (also in The Life Aquatic) plays as a good wall between the brothers on board antics. Anjelica Huston plays the Mother of the boys in a quicky performance, but an excellent one to boot. The best performance is from Ifran Kahn, who plays one of the locals in India whose performance of a yonug boys father gets some of the films most realistic and heart startling moments.

Where the movie excels into something different for Wes Anderson is in it's actual spiritual journey. After the brothers are thrown off the train, a series of at first hilarious events but shockingly realistic events occurs, they each see themselves for the first time as brothers and as non self centered humna beings for the first time in a year. Their is also a startling flashback scene that is comical and very hard to watch at the same time. This scene shows when the brothers for the first time were veering onto their own paths as self-centered individuals not caring about the importance of family and brotherhood.
Overall, I don't know if The Darjeeling Limited is going to be one of Wes Anderson's best received films, but it is definitely another notch in a great string of films. It's not much different from his other films, yet there is an air of something new here. Maybe the idea of spirituality, the usage of a moving location and the protaganist being a relationship between brothers rather than a specific brother. But all in all, for Wes Anderson fans, this is a triumph. For those who don't like Wes Anderson films, you probably won't like this one either. He's the kind of director that is hot or cold with audiences. The Darjeeling Limited is definitely worth checking out, especially for devoted fans.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Grindhouse Divided

Earlier this year, maverick directors Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino had a great idea: let's take two really shlocky movies and release it as a double feature with fake trailers in between them. This was their homage to the grindhouse films of the 70's. Exploitation films at their best. Over the top and filled with babes, guns, blood, gore and cheesey-yet-fantastic dialogue. They called it Grindhouse and it flopped (purposely? we may never know.)

Both films, Planet Terror and Death Proof, where in their own right perfect odes to their genre. Rodriguez's Planet Terror is the perfect zombie gore fest spoof and Tarantino's Death Proof is the an ode to movies like Vanishing Point and Bullit. The experience I got from the theater with both films plus trailers for non-exsisting upcoming Grindhouse features by other directors, was so much fun. Laughs, cringes of pain and awe inspiring dialogue (only awe inspiring for the cleverness of it.) I loved it and couldn't wait until the DVD release.

Months later, as expected due to poor a box office run, it was announced Grindhouse would be released as two seperate DVDs. This, to me, is a very strange idea. The whole point and purpose of the Grindhouse esthetic is the idea that the experience is more important than the movies themselves. Each film on it's own is pretty weak. Both were purposely written to be cheesey, poorly developed (film stock is grainy and reels are "missing") and over acted. Watching just one at a time, although more normal than watching both, ruins this aesthetic. It takes the idea of the entire movie going experience and throws it out the window. This shows that the Weinstein Company has a lot of power in seperating the two to try and make up for lost box office profits.
Each DVD release is also an 'Uncut' version. Since Planet Terror hasn't been released yet, I Netflixed Death Proof to see what an extended version of a purposely bad movie would be like. Needless to say, the experience was not as gratifying. There were more scenes of dialogue which were highly unecessar. The Butterfly lap dance was not harshly edited out (although sexy, was one of the funniest moments of the original cut when the 'missing reel' happened to be her lapdance to Stuntman Mike.) The seperation of the films and the apparent omission of the trailers as special features (Don't, Werewolf Women of the S.S., Thanksgiving and Machete were omitted) is a travesty.
Will I purchase these DVDs? Only if they release a combination where both are intact in their theatrical version with trailers included. Call me stubborn, but a Grindhouse divided just does not stand.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Modern Day Noir

From its startling opening monologue delivered by Tom Wilkinson, you are quite ready for the kind of film that Michael Clayton is going to be: a tale of the filth of corporate America, rotten executives and lawyers and the dark underbelly of society. Sounds like a film noir? It is to an extent. Michael Clayton teeters on the edge of classic noir and the contemporary thriller. From first time director, but long time writer Tony Gilroy (The Bourne Trilogy, Devil’s Advocate) we are given a tour de force directorial debut with one of the strongest screenplay’s this year has to offer.

Michael Clayton, played by the illustrious George Clooney, is what you call a “janitor” in the world of corporate law. If something goes wrong, he cleans it up. In this case, a high profile account is in jeopardy of being lost due to the unraveling psyche of one of their most trusted lawyers, brilliantly played by Tom Wilkinson. As he reels out of control in manic-depressive states, he seemingly is sabotaging the case. Clayton is sent in by his boss, co-producer Sydney Pollack, to investigate what the problem is.

As Michael tries to clear the haze behind the events, he finds that there is more going on than just the unraveling of his friend and co-worker’s mind. There is a lot more going on behind the scenes. Beyond this, Michael’s own life is unraveling at the seems making it hard for him to focus on his family, his job and his own personal freedom.

Michael Clayton excels in its story telling through its characters. Clooney’s sullen performance sets the tone for the films mood. Wilkinson’s manic-depressive lawyer gives the film its fragile existence. Tilda Swinton as the head of the corporation plays the part so subtly, you don’t know what her deal is until near the end of the film. It’s a film about mystery, deception and bending the truth and all its characters do just this.

The triumph of this film is in its writing. Veteran Tony Gilroy writes a flawless script full of authentic dialogue, heartwarming and bone-chilling scenes as well as a story so tight, one will find it hard to find a plot hole to fall through. Although it has its twists and turns, it isn’t impossible to follow over its two-hour run time. It does get a bit complicated, but the character driven thriller as opposed to the plot driven thriller makes it much easier to follow.

Tony Gilroy is at his prime behind the lens and behind the pen in Michael Clayton. Apparently this was a project he has been working on for some time but was interrupted by the more commercial, yet still intriguing Bourne Trilogy. This latest outing shows the growth Gilroy is capable of. With power players like Clooney and Steven Soderbergh producing, a triumph in the thriller genre is upon us. Mixing elements of noir and the modern thriller make Michael Clayton one of the best films of the year. Keep your eyes out come Oscar time as Michael Clayton deserves various nods.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Romantic Rights (Part One)

Romance in film is something I don't always enjoy. That is mainly because what I find romantic is not basted with cliches (well, not entirely true) but is more the romance of the quirky kind. What makes something romantic? To me, it's the innocence of love, whether it be the folly of youth or the unknown pleasures to come that make something romantic. This is the first of a running series I will be working on mapping the scenes of romance that have shaped myself to becoming the young romantic I am.

1. Heaven Help Us- "I've Been Loving You"

Social Worker: [the police and social welfare people have arrived to close the store, arrest Danni's father and put her in foster care... a crowd outside has gathered] We'll make arrangements with your mother to have the inventory accounted for.

Michael Dunn: [rushing in] They made this happen, didn't they?

Danni: [crying] Nobody made this happen. [Dunn embraces her]

Danni: I just don't want you to be sad... 'cause I'm not. Promise?

Michael Dunn: [fighting tears] No.

Social Worker: We have to go.

Michael Dunn: [running up to car Danni has just been loaded in] Well, hey listen, I'm glad I got to dance with you [car speeds off, leaving a dazed Dunn in the street]

Rooney: Don't worry, Dunn... we'll find her.

Constantly played on Comedy Central in the mid-90s, Heaven Help Us isn't your typical 80s teen comedy. Much like other 80s teen flicks, this is filled with rebeling teens with raging hormones. But unlike others in its time period, this is a retro flick about parochial kids in the 60s. Beyond that, this movie has dueling personalities. Half of the movie is about the group of trouble maker boys who dream of sex, rock and roll music and getting around the brothers who teach and discipline them. The other half is a heartbreaking romance of teen passion.

The romance is between Michael Dunn (Andrew McCarthy) and Danni (Mary Stuart Masterson). The two come from different backgrounds. Dunn lives with his grandparents and sister in your typical Irish Catholic family. Danni lives with her father, who is mentally ill, and takes care of herself and the store that she runs to keep her and her father alive and well. The two cross when Dunn enters her diner and in his innocence shows her the side of life that she never had. They both have their family problems which are reflected in their melancholy outlooks on life, however the innocence of youth is still there and strong. This is why this makes Heaven Help Us a unique love story and one of my favorite film romances.

The peek of the beauty of young love is in the boardwalk scene. Dunn and Danni are walking the beach on a cloudy day and it starts to pour. The two hide beneath the cover of the boardwalk soaked by the rain. Otis Redding's powerful love ballad "I've Been Loving You Too Long" starts to play as the two passionately kiss. It's moments like this in cinema that are truly romantic.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Return of the Western

A genre long forgotten, like a tumbleweed on an empty stretch of road, is seeing a comeback in the mainstream. Over the past few years, more and more well made westerns have cropped up. Although the idea of the Western as a genre has returned, in fact it has morphed into something new and different. Just as Film Noir returned in the 70s, the Western returns to the 00's. The Neo-Western, if you will.

The Neo-Western is something a little different then the westerns of John Ford and Howard Hawk's day. Beyond the more violent portrayals, there is a deep seeded ideology of loneliness, vulnerability and the dangers of freedom relevant in the stories of these westerns. Could this be because of world affairs or just because the ratings system is a lot less strict? I think it's more of a sign of the times. A reflection of the violence of our modern era and how the rugged idealism of the West still gave way to dangers of the human spirit and conflicting idealism. The next four films, ultimately different from each other, show how Westerns have adapted to the climate of modern film and are still a relevant form of filmmaking.

Although it is a remake, 3:10 to Yuma still has some new influences than it's predecessor. This is the most classic and standard in style then the next few films. It is still an important addition to the genre. 3:10 to Yuma shows that the power of the Western doesn't need to adapt to a new mold, but can still update itself for the kinds of audiences looking for something that mixes more intense action and intricate filmmaking. The most important part of 3:10 is that it is character driven. The desires of Christian Bale as a family man trying to make ends meet and live up to being a hero to his children really hits hard. Russell Crowe's initial self-righteous, almost demonic, warrior against the powers at be takes the most sharp turn as the film progresses as he feels for the sad tale of Bale's existence. The two play off of each other so well and side-step all the pitfalls the Western genre could have by making unique characters, and unique heroes on opposite sides of the law.
Beyond the characters, since this is a remake, the story is nothing new. Bale joins a odd mixture of men to bring Crowe to justice. Bale is hell-bent on getting Crowe in the 3:10 to Yuma train to have him hung for countless murders and stealing. Crowe slyly plays his captured criminal not as one looking forward to his death, but looking forward to the onslaught this gang will give the crew bringing him to justice. Ben Foster of Freaks and Geeks and the upcoming vampire film 30 Days of Night gives the most blood curdling performance as the would be successor and right hand man to Crowe's aging yet still tough as nails outlaw.

A little more unconventional and on another continent, The Proposition may be this generations The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Although taking place in the Australian outback, Nick Cave's (yes... directed by the Bad Seed himself) epic masterpiece shows a family at odds with itself, the law, the Outback and the world at large. Can a movie not about America be a Western, you might ask? In most cases you might say no, but in this case and hopefully more, it shows the spirit of the American West isn't only an American idea. There were cowboys in Argentina and definitely outlaws and ruthless murderers in Australia.
The Proposition boasts three outstanding performances. Guy Peirce plays the torn brother unsure whether he should murder his lunatic brother in order to free his younger brother or to go it alone, or to save both. Ray Winstone plays the Magistrate of the tiny province trying to keep the peace, protect his wife and failing marriage and his desire to finish off his obsession with the Burn's Brothers gang. The surprise victory performance is delivered by Danny Huston who is the crazed lunatic of an older brother. His murderous rampages in the outback not only include that of the indigenous Aborigine's, but of the settlers. His raping, pillaging and stealing is barbaric and twisted, but his spirituality with the land of Australia and love of the open country is something to admire.

Severely overlooked as one of the best films of 2005, The Proposition shows the expanding influence of the Western in other world cultures.

That being said, the most interesting Neo-Westerns are the ones that take place during present day. Tommy Lee Jones' directorial debut, The Three Burials of Malquiadas Estrada, is a modern day tale of redemption, violence and the haziness of borders (moral and geographical.) One thing that tips this to being a Western is the desperation of the characters. Whether it be Tommy Lee Jones' vengeful ranch hand to Barry Peppers lost almost empty Border Patrolman, the idea of emptiness and the vastness of the West sucks this into the genre of the Western. Tommy Lee Jones leads Barry Pepper on an epic journey somewhere along the border of Texas and Mexico. The lines of demarcation are so hazy that you never know where they are going. The idea of property, borders and who belongs where is just as relevant a topic in modern day as it is during the time of the Old West. More along the lines of a Sergio Leone western then a Ford or Hawks western, the silence and the vastness of the west takes the viewer in. The breathtaking cinematography (care of Chris Menges of The Mission and The Killing Fields) is an integral part of the story telling.

The final film discussed here is the least bit a Western, but encapsulates the spirit and ideas of the Western. Wim Wenders Don't Come Knockin' is a fantastic film, more of a character study than a journey and more about the American spirit than about Cowboys and riding the range. Sam Shephard plays an aging actor who rides of into the sunset... off of a Hollywood set of a Western production. He goes on a soul searching journey through alcohol, women and bumping into family issues along the way. Eva Marie Saint plays his sympathetic mother, Jessica Lange plays the love of his life that he left and Gabriel Mann plays his long lost son.
As little this film has to do with the other three in this blog, Don't Come Knockin' embodies the feeling of all Westerns in it's characters. All of them are lost in some way and are searching for something to fill the void. Whether it was the person you loved, the father you never had or the son that was estranged, these feelings of emptiness and loneliness are present. This calls back to Westerns like Shane or even Dead Man (maybe the most important Neo-Western) with it's fish out of water mysticism and it's soul searching through tragic events. Although not through gunfights and gun slinging, it's through emotional bonds and exchange of words that the characters are hurt, fulfilled or realized.
The Western is back. With more films coming out , whether the character crisis in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford or the noir western of the upcoming No Country for Old Men, the Western may be back and may be getting more exposure in the mainstream. Unlike the old days where the Western was limited to tales of adventure, the Western has become the embodiment of the American spirit and the American dilemma. The American Dream is a dream after all and some dreams lead to greatness and self-discovery while other dreams lead to destruction and strife. The Neo-Western is the blend of adventure and self discovery.

New Mission

This blog was next to dead, but I decided to totally just forget writing about normal everyday shit. Instead I will be doing something I usually did and star just writing about movies I feel like writing about at the time (whether new, old, recent but forgotten, indie, classsic, etc.)

So here goes. Something a little different.

Monday, August 20, 2007

2 Weeks to Labor Day?!

Here, again, is the usual post on how I say "Holy Shit, this year is flying by."

Updates on:

Work- Going good, but feeling a bit stale. Not that I'm not leasing a lot this month. I just feel stale about the job in general.

Facebook Mix Exchange- Last week went well. This week I'm hoping more mixes show up in the mail. If you received a mix, let me know how your experience has gone so far. Did you like it? Did you receive one that was effed up? Would you like this to be a continuing thing?

Birthday Events- I can't wait for Wednesday. All the good people of my life seem to be showing up. Danno is coming down, Lazor, Fleck and Deal, Stev, Noringo Boys, Carly, the list is never ending.

Noringo- Stay tuned....

Sexy Results- More awesome beats have been made, but nothing will advance for at least another month.

Love Life- Hung up on a dream. And as Warren Zevon says in "Poor Poor Pitiful Me"... "I don't wanna talk about it."

That is all.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Birthday Wish List

I actually didn't ask for anything for my birthday this year. Maybe it's because 1) I don't have a significant O or 2)Live alone or 3) Don't need any extra crap that I can't buy for myself.
But if I did have a wishlist of stuff... it would probably look like this.
1. Cap'n Danger Stunt Monkey

2. Cat-A-Pult

3. Cold War Unicorns (These hang me up to dry.)

4. Last Supper Long Box

6. What Would Bacon Do? Spin Folder (Clearly the goon owning this folder was too busy playing with it to get any better grades than a D+.)

7. Spanish Conversation Hearts (Corazones Dulces)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

These... are truly exciting times

Yes. Movie Season is not too far away. The goods are coming finally! The end of the summer blockbuster reign is extremely fuckign nigh.

In no particular order of mass excitement:

1. Be Kind, Rewind (d. Michel Gondry- starring: Jack Black, Mos Def, Danny Glover)

2. The Darjeeling Limited (d. Wes Anderson- starring: Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman)

3. 3:10 to Yuma (d. James Mangold...meh- starring: Christian Bale, Russel Crowe, Peter Fonda)

4. Trick'r'treat (yes I'm serious... this looks kind of cool and maybe half decent. Not too many good horror movies anymore.) (d. Michael Dougerty- starring: Brian Cox, Dylan Baker, Anna Paquin)

5. No Country for Old Men (d. Coen Bros.- starring Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Woody Harleson)

6. There Will Be Blood (d. PT Anderson- starring: Daniel Day Lewis, Paul F. Tompkins?!?)

And I'm sure more will be sneaking up on me.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Liev Schrieber Rules!

First off, see The Ten. Not for nuthin, but one of the finer film moments of the year. I won't go into detials but all I'm gonna say is that 'Thou Shalt Not Covet They Neighbors Wife' and 'Thou Shalt Not Cover Thy Neighbors Goods' are far and away the stand-out moments of the movie. The rest are good, but the conceptual genius behind these two are genius. Great comedy. Liev Schrieber and Justin Theroux add an excellent spice to the already seasoned vets of The State and Wet Hot American Summer that are already as always on top of their A-Game.

Second, I started Catch-22 and am definitely ready for the goods it will bring me. Forcing myself to read at the very least one chapter a day to et me back in the swing of things.

Next, I'm looking into the idea of rocking Philly Car Share for several reasons. My car is falling apart. It may be cheaper than a car payment, it's Eco-friendly, and who knows what else it might offer me (I put my resume in there so maybe I can work there... it's seriously around the block from me.)
Finally, I found a good bar in West Kiladelph. And there is another rumored awesome Saucery nearby. BRING-IT-ON!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Things That Rule

Charlotte Gainsborug's 5:55- A delightful album of arrangements by Air, lyrics by Jarvis Cocker and the vocal efforts of Charlotte Gainsbourg (The Science of Sleep.) The song "Tel que tu es" sounds like a song from Final Fantasy games as does the one piano bridge of "Little Monsters", "Everything I Cannot See" has one of the most gorgeous piano lines and "AF607105" is a delightful tune with goofy lyrics and the most Air sounding track on the disc. A full review to come on although this album was released in April.

Weeds: Season 2- Holy shit was this the goods. Martin Donovan is delightfully creepy, Mary Louise Parker may be a horrible mother, but you can't but feel for her, the list could go on and on. The show ends in a ridic cliffhanger, but thank GOD season 3 starts in two weeks! So Good!

Guitar Hero: Rock's the 80's- Mainly for Limozeen, Extreme, Dio and Ratt. But overall, a good halfway point to what will rule in Guitar Hero 3.

The band Romeo Void- So much 80's New Wave with jaunty guitars and sexy Sax. "Never Say Never" is an addictingly catchy song, but the rest of their stuff is just as awesome.

And that's all the stuff I am obsessing over right now.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A Period of Transition

Mixing it up again. I feel retarded that I even have this blog still. I never sometimes right stuff that has some purpose. The end might be near for this little outlet. Mainly because without a computer, it's hard for me to update. And because I don't have anything of interest to write. The only thing I can think of that I want to share is my Onion Headline I just thought of:
Bush's Colonoscopy Determines President is 'Still an Asshole'

I will probably keep this bad boy, but it won't be very often that I will post anything. Maybe just the usual bitch and moan no one will read.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

I Feel Like Going Home

Today is going to be long, slow, boring and sucky.

Last night, however, was fucking awesome. After a shitty, hectic day at the Towers filled with stupid mistakes that were my fault and a few tours that seemed mostly lukewarm in leasing possibilities, I rocked some sweet bar action with some of my favorite people. Sarah Deal and Joe Papa Giorgio were celebrating another year of being alive at the Bayou and Sapphire in the good old Yunk. I'm feeling the effects of rahter inexpensive Tanqueray and Tonics this morning. Regardless, hanging out with the Deal, Tara, Val and a sweet surprise visit from Ray, Kel and Flanny was te perfect cap to make what seemed to look like a crappy Saturday actually a lot of fun.

Things that make me happy as of late:
The Deftones cover of John Lennon's "Jealous Guy"
Radiohead on shuffle
Friends who live nearby
Dinosaur Jr.'s new album Beyond
I'll Sleep When I'm Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon
Drum Machines
David Bowie's cover of the Pixies "Cactus"

Things that make me not so happy:
Sleepless nights

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Hour Grows Late

It is coming. More like she is coming. Yes indeed, this weekend marks the date that the lovely, glorious and most wonderful woman I have ever met, Tara Fleck, moves in four blocks away. I'm not sure the city of Philadelphia is prepared for the amounts of Carnage that will ensue due to her coming. This will mark the first time in my life that I have readily available amounts of Fleck right down the street. This could be the most revolutionary thing to happen to my life since, well, since the Sexional.

It's tough living alone yet thanks to the good will of the luck of the draw, moving to West Philly has given me readily available awesomeness possible. Elise Lavender, George Giles and now Tara Fleck, The Real Deal and Judi Bad News right here. Walking distance. Once I get a bike, then the Drew's will be reinjected into my face and once Season 2 of Weeds is out on DVD, I will make it my bizznizz to make it to Lazor's for Season 3 action at his pad with the lovely Michelle.

It's a great city, Philadelphia. My first few months as a resident have been pretty good. But now that more people are around, and people that I love and trust, it's mutha fuckin' on.

In other news, I haunched on Resident Evil 4 for Wii and MY GOD if it isn't ever so fun to slay Zombie European Freaks on the Wii. It really is a revolutionary gaming console and should have been named "The Revolution" like it originally was going to be. Regardless, I can't wait for Kart, Smash and the other Mario game. Also, my reservations are in for both GH Rocks the 80's and GH3 all for PS2 though. The Kramer guitar will be mine!

Tonight I will see Live Free or Die Hard.
This is the goods.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Can't Forget

Aaaaand I'm back. I've been back for a few days.

Italia was quite awesome. I have pictures being developed. Maybe I can scan that shite in if any are worthy of seeing. I don't feel like going into mad details. I was going to, but most of the trip was sightseeing with the family, eating out every night at awesome delish restaurants and just other family trip type stuff. If you want any details, ask me. I will gladly tell you.

Other news and updates, I got a typewriter and porch furniture from residents at CHT who were throwing stuff away. HEYOO! The typewriter has a whiteout feature so if I spell a word wrong, it will delete it for me. BANG-O!

I've been writing for Ryan Carey's new website It's going well. My first article should be up by the time most of you read this blog. If not, shortly there after. I submitted two articles so far with more to come. I really miss writing reviews so I'm glad I can write for someone who wants reviews to be written. Maybe someday I can write more and maybe I will unt down Drew Lazor and get some free lancing shit although I'm still without a computer.

I've been listening to a lot of the new Earlies and Dinosaur Jr. albums and so far they are standing out above the other albums I posted as my best of 2007 so far. Mr. Dogg will be getting a Year-In-Review so far from me as per request.

Other than that, not much to say. I'm super fucking excited about the fact that Tara, The Real Deal and Ms. Judi will be moving 4 blocks from my apartment. Times are good.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Did I Tell You

That I am going to Italia?!

If not, sorry. But I will be back on the 24th of Junio. So prepare!

Until then....

Urban Dictionary.


1. v. to quickly eat.
2. v. to vomit or belch in a manner like that of vomiting.
3. n. vomit
4. v. to steal or pilfer, usually pertaining to items of little value.
5. v. screw up, make dysfunctional
6. v. to sell (a bastardization of *hawk*)
6. v. do (can mean essentially anything)
"I horked it down, then I horked it back up. Then he horked my hork, and horked it to this guy who was totally horked up. then I horked my sister."

Monday, June 04, 2007

My Heart's Reflection

I don't have much to report. Life is, chugging along, I guess. The only thing I got going for me these days is a trip to Italy next week. That and friends moving to the West Philly area. I need to get out more in my hood and I need to see more people living in the city on a weekly basis. I'm looking in your directions, Lazor, Stephan and Chwastyk. Other than that, these two quots can sum up my life at the moment.

"The head is always the dupe of the heart."
~La Rochefoucauld

"Between here and there is better then either here or there."
~Pavement "Conduit for Sale!"

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Styles of the Times

The year is more than half over right about now. It's a friggin ridiculous thought. Here is my year in review. Everything from events, movies, music and other random stuff.


So far I have been able to do some awesome things, but for the most part it's been work, sleep, eat, drink with friends and repeat. The events that have made this year worthy of it being good so far are the following:

Trip to L.A.- My first solo flight to the Golden State was pretty awesome. I enjoyed the solitude of the plane flight where I caught up on some sleep, watched Mad Max on my iPod and read a lot of The Iron Heel. Hanging with Justin and Doc was much needed. Those two are equally full of life and enjoy chilling out in a way that we at home are feeling a bit stale. We rocked an E6 show, a UCB Improv show, record stores, book stores, karaoke jams, a trip to Santa Monica and an amazing movie theater experience care of Hot Fuzz. I couldn't have asked for a better time.

Cedar Avenue- The new residence is almost turning two months old. I can't say more how much I love living on my own. I do get lonely sometimes, but it was a nice change of pace from the doldrums that was living at home. I need to have more people and events at my place, although more than 4 people is going to be intense. But yeah, open invite for the summer. Call me up and come by or I will plan a dinner for you guys so I can cook for you.


Not that this year has sucked, it has just been a little flat for new music but here is my quicky top 5 new albums.

5. K-OS- Atlantis: Hymns for Disco- Thank Dan Hodges of the Nighthawks for the intro to K-OS but this disc is the kind of no bullshit fun hip-hop that I'm down with. I got some Jurassic 5 action to listen to too, but this one has a diverse mesh of sounds including an Otis Redding style track and an apperance of Sam Roberts on a track.

4. Arcade Fire- Neon Bible- A good follow-up to Funeral. I don't think these guys can go wrong. I love their song structures and the variation in song styles. It's a lot more brooding than Funeral although it still has all the baroque charms that make Arcade Fire who they are.

3. The Shins -Wincing the Night Away- Although it has it's dull moments at times, when the Shins write a damn good pop song, they write a damn good pop song. The songs on this album are pretty catchy, a lot of fun. After repeat listens, it's still enjoyable and it fits in well with the "No Complaints" philosoph of lfie I'm trying to grasp these days. Just pure fun.

2. Wilco- Sky Blue Sky- Is it bad for me to say that I already love this album only after a few listens? No it's not. It's simplistic, no bullshit songwriting. I'm kinda sick of people who are like "It's not Yankee Hotel". When I hear that, it shows how retarded that person is. Not everyone can churn out something like that everytime and bands don't want to do the same thing over and over and over again. This is more like Being There where the songs are honest and direct, avoiding flowery emotional speeches when they break the news.

1. Earl Greyhound- Soft Targets- Speaking of direct, this album is no bones about it awesome rock and roll music. With the infusion of Zeppelin and Television in their stlye, the Greyhound doesn't fuck around. The live show is great, and the disc is a great companion to keep me satisfied until the next time they come around. I want Wilco to friggin tour in Philadelphia and have these guys open. It would be the event of the year.


I hafta say that only a few movies have really been worth seeing this year and they are the following in order of appearence:

Grindhouse- Sucks that this didn't do as well as it should have. But then again. most of America is retarded.

Hot Fuzz- So far the best of the bunch I've seen. Ridiculously hilarious.

Waitress- God rest Adrienne Shelly. It may be a bit cheesey, but ya know what, it feels good to enjoy a nice sentimental movie. It's well done, quirky and definitely worth a view (esp. on a date. The gals will love you for it.)

That's 07 in a nutshell.... so far.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Paul Is Dead

Or will be. This week has been overbooked with things to do. Not complaining about this, per se, but I do love the idea of having a lot of things to do. Here is the itenerary.

Danno invades the War Room for Wii action, 40's and Pizza (bring your own jitney rag.)

Work till 7pm.
These Arms Are Snakes, Against Me!, Cursive and Mastodon... in ONE night! (Let the scenester fights begin!)

Work till 5pm.
Driving to Wilkes to see the lovely and amazing Ms. Tara Fleck. (God I miss this woman!) Sojourning with Ms. Deal shall be a nice treat as well. I miss our car lemgth talks.

Wake up and get some diner action in Wilkes.
Head back to Wiihawken to abduct Danno again and head to Rob Ealer's final party in Ewwing.

Then I work Monday.


Beyond that, life is good. Earl Greyhound is in my veins, Mother Night was a pretty decent flick, I finally started Player Piano after finishing The Iron Heel and just dropped a lot of money getting my car fixed. That's okay though as a paycheck is coming tomorrow and such.

Beyond those updates, the flux of life has not had much in the way of, well, flux

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Sleeping Pill

Recently, and ever since moving to Cedar Ave, I have had the most intensely vivid and sometimes effed up dreams. They have ranged from being the tour manager for Prince and being Robert Redford in a kinky fucked up version of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I can't really describe a lot of these dreams (minus the Prince one... it was pretty memorable... and the Redford one.. it was pretty, well, disturbing) but I can say one thing...

What the hell is going on in my life that all of a sudden I have to dream every single night? I really don't know. I guess I'm just stressed out about family, the single life and work.

But why dream? I guess no one will ever know why it happens, but it does. Last night I had at least 10 different dreams or at least one with 10 different parts that had no connection. The only one I remember was trying to get my car fixed at some shop and the guy was all annoying about it saying thigns like "What do you want me to do about it?" and I was like "Dude I fucking pay you to do this shit cuz I know nothing about cars." It was annoying because I woke up freaking out every hour and a half. I just want one normal nights sleep, dammit!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Speeding Motorcycle

It's May. It's effing May. What the hell is going on with time? I guess this happens when you get older. The sands of time get sucked through the hourglass a bit faster than usual. That's not a bad thing necessarily. It's just flying by.

Regardless, here are some life-updates.

Cedar Ave is awesome. I love my apartment. I need more people to come visit and I need to get out in the 'hood more often. I walked around the other day when it was really nice outside and I pretty much love my 'hood. I need to get new porch furniture however. I think my landlord chucked the old couch and chair that was right in front of my pad. But that has to change. I'm gonna go to the shady furniture store and rawk out some new chairs. I will be getting some new batteries for my camera and the next time I have off of work and a spare moment to wander, I will do a photo opp of my 'hood. Right now it's pretty gorgeous.

Work is work. Not much to report.

Love life is still no existent. Not really worried about that all too much. I would like to meet some people out there, and I have a few in mind I'd like to enjoy the company of, but as usual environment gets in the way of that.

That's just about it. Things are flying by and life is chugging along.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Blue Line Swinger

It was been wriit.

The Wii is in da house.
And it is wonderful.
So far I have Wii Sports, Wii Play and Zelda: Twilight Princess. They are shaping up to be the single most awesometastical video gaming experience I have yet to experience. And here is why. Although the graphics to the Wii don't hold a dime to either XBOX 360 (which if you have a HDTV is the most glorious looking video game experience and it's a lot of fun too) or PS3 (which I have yet to actually see anyone I know play or have one), it really nails the aspect of what video games should be: interactive and fun. So far, Wii Sports is the champion of fun.

On to other things that excite me.
First there was these:

And then there was this:

Basically a wam-blam-thank you ma'am of awesome movie going experiences. First I want to talk about Grindhouse and it's two films plus trailers.
Planet Terror was your basic zombie gore fest laden with blood, balls, Bruce Willis and bad-ass go-go dancers. The acting was cheesey, the stroy-line was cheeseir and the action sequences were anything but covered in cheese. It was pure fun. Good one liners, good use of Fergie getting pwned and a fucking Goonie as a doctor (and my personal dynamic relationship in the movie.) The chicks were hot, but where was the skin? Not needed as the purposely well placed missing reel told us. One thing Rodriguez and Tarantino strayed from was a lot of sex and boob shots which usually liter these kind of shlocky movies. And ya know what? It worked. Even thought they paid tribute to the 70's exploitation films, they didn't exploit the actors. Kudos.
The trailers were awesome. Machete should be made into a feature length and is getting press that it will be, Don't was a gloriously awesome one-liner from the guys who bring you the final review in this post, Werewolf Women of the S.S. had the best cameo of all time, and Thanksgiving looked the most like a crappy 80's slasher movie.
Then there was Death Proof. With it's Kurt Russel factor, amazingly gorgeous babes, awesome soundtrack and the most insane car chase scene I have ever seen. People harsh on Death Proof because it's so... badly structured. But as a film lover, it is a little too perfect. I recently saw a shitty movie from the 70's aptly titled Sssssss. Yes. Seven s's like a hissing snake. It was basically like Death Proof except no cars or babes. Just real snakes, snake stunts and an old man reading Walt Whitman... to a snake. It's about 90% meaningless dialogue and I wish there were reels missing when I saw it. Instead I fast forwarded. Regardless, the point here is Death Proof is like a lot of those 70's movies. It's a perfect throwback to the shitty movies that came out in that era. Except, it's way better because at least Tarantino can write interesting dialogue.
Then there was Hot Fuzz. Another kind of spoof movie. Paying tribute to such films as Point Break and Bad Boys....II. It was probably one of the greatest spoof movies of all time. It hit every genre convention on the head with a giant frying pan. And it did what Shaun of the Dead did for Zombie movies. It poked fun of them at the same time fit in with them. It was too good. Having Simon Pegg as the straight man was a stroke of genius. Also, I look forward to more Nick Frost/Simon Pegg team ups as they are an electric on screen duo. Any scene with those two at a pub will be great. I'm just hoping pub scenes like the ones in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz to come. I don't know why those scenes stuck out for me, but I found it kinda hilarious both movies had them. I guess thats what it's like in jolly old England.