Monday, June 27, 2011

Trailer: Brave


The teaser trailer for next summer's Pixar output: Brave.  Too bad it wasn't this summer's Pixar film, is what I have to say.  The company is getting in on Disney's Princess racket, contributing one flame haired tough cookie in Merida.  The visuals and character design are gorgeous thus far, and the synopsis doesn't sound half bad either:
"Brave is set in the mystical Scottish Highlands, where Merida is the princess of a kingdom ruled by King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). An unruly daughter and an accomplished archer, Merida one day defies a sacred custom of the land and inadvertently brings turmoil to the kingdom. In an attempt to set things right, Merida seeks out an eccentric old Wise Woman (Julie Walters) and is granted an ill-fated wish. Also figuring into Merida’s quest — and serving as comic relief — are the kingdom’s three lords: the enormous Lord MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd), the surly Lord Macintosh (Craig Ferguson), and the disagreeable Lord Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane)."  [source]
Have fun waiting until June 2012.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Back in the Day #17 (Quadruple Header): Moloko


Whoa.  So, apparently I haven't done one of these little flashbacks since last August.  That's a pretty big fail, as these aren't exactly time consuming or particularly tough to jot down.  So, let's relaunch Back in the Day with a band that warrants a quadruple header of music videos out of the vaults of my personal history:  Moloko.  A Clockwork Orange references aside, Moloko is one of those groups I stumbled upon during my adolescent obsession with checking out as many soundtracks as possible from the library.  Though they never hit it big in America (though many have heard "Sing it Back"), Moloko were basically "music from and inspired by" superstars.  My first run in with them was circa the summer of 1997.  Ah yes, I remember it well.  Age 12, wearing my Tamagotchi on a lanyard around my neck, painting door murals at Art Camp, running about in the woods playing capture the flag...and having absolutely no shame about really, genuinely enjoying the films like, um, Batman and Robin.  I've seen Batman and Robin more than a couple times and you just need to shut up and deal with that because 1. I was twelve.  2. it had bright colors.  3. I did think it was hilarious.  4. I've always really liked Poison Ivy.  5. motorcycles.  6. everyone else at school liked it too.  No, I wouldn't have jumped off a cliff if everyone else at school was.  I mean, please, I hated those kids.  My point is: when you're 12 these things tend to seem more appealing than they actually are.  Also...we're way off topic.  MOLOKO!


Moloko had a song on the Batman and Robin soundtrack (which was not a bad album, all things considered) called "Fun for Me."  If you remember the movie the way I do (which you are likely fortunate enough not to), this song is played as Alicia Silverstone goes to the sketchy land of the Gotham miscreants pre-motorcycle race.  I didn't own this CD, but my friend E. (who was also in Art Camp), did. We were pretty sick of an older camper's domination of the boombox for the last couple weeks.  She was obsessed with Beck, and while I do enjoy Beck and wound up purchasing Odelay...we'd been listening to Odelay on repeat for days and days and days.  Enough was enough, obviously.  One of us had decided that it would be a good idea to exact our revenge take-over via the construction of the weirdest mixtape we could manage with the tools at our disposal.  As we were 12 and really didn't own too much that could be described as 'random' or 'odd' at that moment in time, the cornerstone of our effort was going to be "Fun for Me."  Honestly, I don't even think we managed to finish putting together the tape.  The song did, however, turn up on another of the personal mixes I tried to force on my friends during our carpools.  If they'd actually listened to my mixtapes, they probably would have been way more into legit music instead of Hanson, but no, no, they just ignored the knowledge I'd accumulated from my precious soundtracks.  Their loss, obviously.

Post-Batman, I encountered Moloko on other soundtracks.  The truly oddball "Indigo" showed up in Mystery Men, but it was "The Time is Now" on the 2000 Sex and the City TV soundtrack that made me start actually seeking out their other music.  "The Time is Now" was pretty much 16-year old me's favorite song.  It's also a song I can karaoke the fuck out of if necessary.  Because it's slow, I tend to avoid it, but, I mean, I slay that shit.  Million goddamn Singstar points.  True fact.  I dig Moloko and sought out Do You Like My Tight Sweater? and Things to Make and Do like a junkie in search of a fix.   Long before we had Lady Gaga, we had Roisin Murphy.  Granted, Murphy never took the costumed avant garde approach to pop music quite as far as Gaga now has, but her music certainly accomplishes something significantly more enigmatic than Gaga's rah rah dum de dum ga ga repetitions have yet to.  Me and my camo-print Tamagotchi were clever enough to catch on back in the day.  The band proper may be, for all practical purposes, broken up, but I can still use them as one of the many reasons my record collection from that time period forward started slanting more towards Anglophilia while everyone else went through that Goo Goo Dolls/Matchbox 20 thing.

Moloko / the time is Now from Xelob on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Review: Bad Teacher

It would be easy to step up and blow apart Bad Teacher.  Really just too easy.  If I wanted to attack it all I'd have to do would be to start ragging on its loose plot, its underuse of some really fantastic supporting actors, and the way it never manages to be little more than a cheap presentation of a superficial character performing superficial gags, flitting from semi-predictable plot point to plot point with a flippant refusal to mine anything for a little bit of depth.  If I really wanted to nail this film to the cross I could start (as some have) picking apart the film's protagonist as a nasty blow by Hollywood in which they once again make their strong female character a manipulative, selfish, rather skanky lady who feels the need to get attention by pulling on her daisy dukes and writhing all over a car or two.  Yeah, it would be pretty easy to tear this movie apart.  The thing is, though, I actually liked it...


finish this review @

Friday, June 24, 2011

RIP: Peter Falk

Actor Peter Falk, who famously portrayed one of pop culture's most famous detectives, Columbo, died Thursday at his home in Beverly Hills.  Falk was 83 years old, and while he has been suffering from Alzheimer's since 2007, the direct cause of death has not been disclosed.

Falk made a name for himself over a span of over three decades, multiple made for TV movies, and thirteen seasons as the bumbling, beloved Columbo.  As any film aficionado will be quick to remind you, however, he also appeared in a bevy of now classic/cult films (The Princess Bride, It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, Murder by Death) and art house favorites, collaborating with John Cassavetes and appearing as himself in Wings of Desire

He is survived by his wife and two daughters, and will be remembered by generations. [source]

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Seen & Heard: Weird Al



This video...nails it.  Well played, Weird Al.  You have successfully reinvented yourself for a new generation.  Also: You look just like Jenna Maroney.  Or, at least, like Will Forte dressed as Jenna Maroney.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Review: The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life, Terrence Malick's fifth directorial effort, has been described already as a 'tone poem'.  There is perhaps no better way of defining it, though I will try at various times throughout this entry.  It's less film than symphonic union of music and image.  It rises and falls and sweeps through emotions and time, contrasting microcosms with macrocosms and finding intangible comparisons in all that's bound by simple molecules.  Malick does not presume to define the outline of his story.  He sets his pieces on an infinite stage that traverses all of time and space, and within these largely unnamed characters we glimpse both vague and specific.  They are bodies in orbit, pushing and pulling away from one another.  They're a family unit, ourselves, our parents, our neighbors, our friends, and yet they are none of these people just as The Tree of Life is as much a movie as a photography exhibition, opera, or anthology of poetry...

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Review: Beginners

Beginners is another confused little love story filled with male anxiety, partial adolescence, emotional hang-ups, whimsy, and quirk.  It has its own sort of manic pixie dream girl in the form of Melanie Laurent.  It has typical indie-film melodrama packaged with aging relatives and cancer cells.  There's a Jack Russell terrier that plays a critical character role.  Yes, it's rather twee.  If you add up the elements, it should be too twee to function outside of the dorm rooms of girls wearing floral print summer dresses in the dead of winter.  Thankfully, though, it is not (500) Days of Summer.  The characters, the organizational structure, and the simple guilelessness of what would otherwise be entitled melancholia see to that...

finish this review @

Friday, June 17, 2011

Seen and Heard: Lady Gaga's "Edge of Glory"


Edge of Glory or Pit of Despair?  Critics and fans are not impressed with Lady Gaga's bland, off-Broadway strutting and singing video for her latest ballad, calling it her "Gimme More" moment.  I agree with them.  It seemed as though a narrative was being constructed for this album with the "Born This Way" video, but since then, the visual element has been pretty disappointing.  Dear Gaga: if the Haus needs new blood, I'm available to infuse your aesthetic with a whole lot of real pop trash.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Seen and Heard: Metronomy



WASPy hipster summer dance party!  Let's break out the boats!  Oh man, I am totally calling my friend with the boat and telling them that we are going on three hour tour like right now.* I've featured Metronomy before, but the "The Bay" speaks to the desperate need I have this week for being near bodies of water and being able to wear shorts if I so choose.  

*or possibly when it's actually daylight, sunny, and seasonably warm instead of unseasonably bitter fucking cold.

Novelty Treats: Tuition...Paid For.

Today, the internet taught me how to behave when I ride on the train.  You see, it turns out I had it all wrong. If you're a well-educated person, you apparently do have approval from some higher power to be loud and obnoxious on your cell phone.  I didn't know this and have just been quietly muttering in the hopes that no one will hear.  Obviously, the next time I will speak loudly and then rant and rave to anyone who politely asks me to quiet down about how many degrees I have and the locations at which they were obtained.  Yes.  Because this is obviously what people care about on the train more than anything.  They've just been sitting there forming opinions based on how well-educated you appear to be.

Novelty Treat: Ferris Bueller's Last Day Off

I'm a little late on this (damn not being able to actually watch short internet videos as work!), but Sidecar Comedy imagined what a day off for Ferris Bueller might look like 25 years later.  I highly recommend it.  It is so choice.  [via Atom]

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Review: Super 8

Super 8 is an incredible success as summer blockbusters go.  It's a rousing, good clean throwback to a simpler time that goes great with popcorn, air conditioning, roughly a gallon of Coca-Cola, and an ounce of willing nostalgia.  It helps, of course, if you also have a free Saturday morning, or a summer off from school.  J.J. Abrams has knowingly directed an old-school Steven Spielberg film, and Spielberg (sitting in the producer's seat) has sat back and guided this half-homage in all the right ways.  Super 8 is, perhaps, a celluloid version of Proust's madeleine.  Moments into our first bite, we're transported into a glorious remembrance of things past, of creature features, childhood games, and days spent biking to check out books on unexplained phenomenon from the library...

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Summer Fail, Restart?



I tried to start summer before, and it got up to 95 degrees. Then, you know, it dropped down to 50. Let's try this again, shall we?  I'm not sure where I've collected these pictures over the years (apart from the Magritte painting), so if you see a photo that needs crediting, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Squeaky Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?



The inclusion of Katy Perry in this only makes the insult worse.  I don't know how I missed this, but apparently while my back was turned Hasbro went and tampered with another of my childhood memories.    Transformers, Littlest Pet Shop, now My Little Pony.  Sigh.  Double sigh.  Equestria Girls?  There really are no words.  Quelle nightmare.  I think I'd be happier if they'd remodeled them as Tokidoki unicorns or whatnot.  I mean...they gave Applejack a cowgirl hat...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Seen & Heard: Katy Perry and Memory Tapes

I was hoping to avoid posting this, but apparently I can't because it's a big deal and Katy Perry owns summer or something.  This is the "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" video for the song that's apparently supposed to make you reminisce about slap bracelets and Skip-Its but is all confused about its chronology.  It's fun and stuff, I guess, but the most noteworthy thing is that she dug up Hanson and blended them with Kenny G. at her/Rebecca Black's in-video house party.  Let's think about that for a minute.


Here is a potential antidote for what you've just seen and heard: "Yes I Know" by Memory Tapes, with fancy video direction by Eric Epstein.  I wouldn't call it catchy, but let's hope it cancels out the infectiousness of Kathy Beth Terry.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Alamo Drafthouse Texting Solution



The folks at the Alamo Drafthouse have a pretty strict no-talking, no-texting policy for their theatergoers.  Recently, as the story goes, a texter was kicked out after a couple warnings and decided to leave the theater a lovely voicemail loaded with expletives and improper grammar.  What did the Drafthouse do with it?  They turned it into a PSA that now runs prior to every R-rated screening.  [via EW]

Monday, June 6, 2011

Review: X-Men: First Class

X-Men: The Last Stand was one of the single most disappointing film experiences in my immediate memory.  In the wake of the surprisingly decent X-Men and the remarkably improved X2, the third film attempted to inflate itself into something bigger, better, full of new characters, and weighed down with a plot it couldn't sustain.  We lost Bryan Singer on that one, and we the geeks continue to lament to this very day.  Of course, things got considerably worse in 2009 with the release of X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  In some spectacular effort to add insult to injury, Fox and Marvel decided to make a film in which logic was non-existent, the more interesting characters weren't present, and the effects weren't in keeping with the bulk of its comic book blockbuster contemporaries.  Wolverine was 100 minutes of Hugh Jackman screaming at the sky, so you could bet that when the first trickles of info and teasers for X-Men: First Class came around I didn't dare get my hopes up.  As time went on, though, I came around...


Friday, June 3, 2011

Review: Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen has managed to write and direct a film a year for almost every year since 1969.  He's a remarkably prolific filmmaker and a talent often deservingly revered by cinephiles and comedy writers.  When your resume is as extensive as Allen's is, people like to start breaking your work into 'periods.'  Early vs. late, comedies vs. dramas, New York stories vs. European stories, films starring you vs. films you're notably absent in, etc.  Tell someone you've just seen Midnight in Paris and the next question will be either "was it better or worse than Vicky Cristina Barcelona?"  or "how does it compare to the early work?" ....

finish this review @  

Wanna be Starting Something.

Hilarious story, guys:  Nobel Prize-winning author V.S. Naipaul started some shit that decimates the Lars Von Trier Cannes-gate joke saga of yore and sealed his fate as a Nobel Prize-winning douche amongst writers.  In an interview with the London Evening Standard, Naipaul oh-so-helpfully pontificated on all the problems with women writers, and detailed the reasons they will forever be inferior to prose pounders with a Y chromosome. 

The 78-year old threw down detrimental (to him) insights that included (but were not limited to) the following gems:

""I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think [it is] unequal to me." Asked to elaborate, he said this was due to their "sentimentality, the narrow view of the world"." [source]

Oh really?  Please tell me more...

""And inevitably for a woman, she is not a complete master of a house, so that comes over in her writing too." [source]

Master of a house?  Hmmm...what century is this?

""My publisher, who was so good as a taster and editor, when she became a writer, lo and behold it was all this feminine tosh. I don't mean this in any unkind way." [source]

Pause for effect.  Squint. Slow nod.  Bastard.

These, ladies and gentlemen, are the opinions of a man once described as "the greatest living writer of English prose."  I have absolutely no idea who knighted him with this title, but recommend they revoke it immediately.  Obviously, Naipaul is woefully illiterate.  Otherwise, he'd never make these claims.  It's such a shame that at 78-years old someone with a Nobel Prize in the field seems to, perhaps, have never read a book.  I've heard he's a horrible narcissist, but you'd think a narcissist might profess to have some knowledge of what he's talking about.  Or, you know, maybe the senility is setting in?   Hey V.S.:  I know at least a dozen female fiction writers IRL who would be willing to throw down right now.  Myself included.  By the end of the contest, we'll see who's feeling like a sentimental, narrow buffoon.

Kathy Acker is rolling in her grave.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Review: The Hangover pt. II


In a rare occurrence brought to you by the holiday weekend, M. and I actually viewed The Hangover part II together. Consequently, the discussion in the wake of this screening has run the gamut and while we've had a surplus of conversations on the matter, one of us is just now getting around to writing about it. The facts are these: we both laughed during the flick. Honestly, we laughed a pretty reasonable amount. If that's all you need to know, then off with you. There you have it: this is a comedy that succeeds (in points) at being a comedy. Don't kid yourself. If you enjoyed the first film at all, you're going to watch this sequel. That's just how it is. The thing is, however, that as with most comedy sequels: you're going to get exactly what you thought you were paying for, and then probably be a little disappointed when it comes with nothing else...

finish this review @

Today



I just want to listen to this all day.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Photo Lab: Blade Running


Sean Young's Polaroids from the set of Blade Runner.  The better times, not the dark periods.  Goldmine of the day.  [via /Film]

Trailer: 50/50

Yes, it's Wednesday evening and this is my third trailer in a row.  You know why?  Holiday weekend.  That's why.  Besides, this one is totally worth a look.  Your boyfriend Joseph Gordon-Levitt and your stoner buddy Seth Rogen are teaming up for a melodrama that attempts to touch on the lighter side of cancer.  Anyone who's seen Showtime's fantastic series The Big C knows this is definitely possible, and 50/50 looks like the film to really do the subject theatrical justice.  Levitt plays a man diagnosed with cancer at age 27, Rogen the best friend trying to help him cope.  The cast is fantastic, the humor feels spot on and smartly placed.  If all the pieces fall properly, we could be looking at a sleeper Oscar contender.

Trailer: Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

After the red-band trailer for David Fincher's take on Steig Larsson's international bestseller The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo leaked the other day, it was only a matter of time before we had an official theatrical teaser.  That time is now.  The teaser?  Literal.  It's one big mashed-up montage of images that feel simultaneously fresh and yet completely ripped from the Swedish originals.  Things I like: the driving pace of the trailer action, the Karen O. and Trent Reznor cover of "Immigrant Song", Rooney Mara's look as Lisbeth Salander, the cold aesthetic, the improved titular tattoo, and the tagline: "the feel bad movie of Christmas."  Things that make me pretty uncomfortable: the ongoing sexualization of Rooney Mara as Lisbeth in the promotional material and photo spreads thus far.  For all of the book's flaws (and we know I feel that there are many.  Again: I'm of the belief that these are those rare instances when the stories make better films than novels), it does succeed in making Lisbeth sexual, but consciously fighting objectification.  Posters like the one above?  Call me crazy, but it's selling some nudity when what the film offers (spoiler?) is brutal rape, revenge, and sexual violence.  In real life, that character would not be alright with that shot.

That aside, I'm looking forward to the film with the usual Fincher anticipation.  The director has yet to really disappoint me, so consider my ticket already purchased.

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