Tuesday, September 30, 2008

5-4-T: Memorable Taxicab Conversations

As I was returning home from a bar, yammering with my roommate about things I'm sure our driver found wholly uninteresting, it got me thinking about the great taxicab scenes in the movies. So, today's Five-For-Tuesday runs down five truly memorable movie conversations that took place in cabs.

5) Pulp Fiction - "What does it feel like?"

4) Taxi Driver - "My wife is in there."

3) Breakfast at Tiffany's
Paul Varjak: You know what's wrong with you, Miss Whoever-you-are? You're chicken, you've got no guts. You're afraid to stick out your chin and say, "Okay, life's a fact, people do fall in love, people do belong to each other, because that's the only chance anybody's got for real happiness." You call yourself a free spirit, a "wild thing," and you're terrified somebody's gonna stick you in a cage. Well baby, you're already in that cage. You built it yourself. And it's not bounded in the west by Tulip, Texas, or in the east by Somali-land. It's wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.
[takes out the ring and throws it in Holly's lap]
Paul Varjak: Here. I've been carrying this thing around for months. I don't want it anymore.

2) Night On Earth - "Fresh hat!"

1) On the Waterfront - "Let's face it..."

What's your favorite Taxicab Conversation?

Monday, September 29, 2008

One Word Review: Wimbledon

66: Sporting

Friday, September 26, 2008

One Word Roundup

Where have all those One Word Reviews gone, you may be asking? The dishonest answer is that we lost them in the move. The honest answer is that they made the move but we haven't found the time to look them up. Shame on us. Anyway, we hereby pledge to get the OWR train chugging again next week. In the meantime, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at the 158 OWRs we've already posted. Remember that these ratings out of 100, but are not letter grades. If you're new to this, check out the criteria laid out in advance.

And rather than give them to you in chronological order (because movies are timeless, right?), we've organized them by the rating. Have at it, and leave comments about where you disagree.

Film Review Rating
Date Movie Worthless 16
Failure to Launch Stupid 19
Batman & Robin Vomit 20
27 Dresses Weak 21
Mrs. Henderson Presents Boobies 22
Shanghai Noon Inauthentic 26
My Best Friend's Wedding Foolish 28
Crash Inane 28
Penelope Sloppy 34
Party Monster Draggy 34
The Evil Dead Flimsy 34
Gladiator Banal 35
Cars Vacuous 35
Jesus Camp Condemny 38
Team America: World Police Spewey 38
Dogtown and Z-Boys Self-centered 39
Beer League Slutty 39
The Break-up Juvenile 39
Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic Schtuck 42
Transformers Blatant 42
Fever Pitch Whiffy 42
The Devil Wears Prada Skinny 46
The Simpsons Movie Gaggy 48
Die Hard With A Vengeance Ridiculous 48
Me and You and Everyone We Know Absurd 50
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe Slippery 52
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby Slow 52
Clerks II Chunky 52
Mean Girls Vapid 53
The Darjeeling Limited Sour 53
Eight Below Dorky 53
Water Low 53
In Good Company Gimmicky 54
March of the Penguins Vacant 54
I Am Legend Haphazard 55
The Squid and the Whale Conceited 55
Big Fish Corny 55
Bringing Up Baby Batty 57
Once Upon a Time in Mexico Stuffed 57
Nashville Tedius 59
American Hardcore Nostalgic 60
Cloverfield Blaring 61
Millions Squawky 61
School of Rock Aggressive-passive 61
Hot Fuzz Punchy 62
Ocean's Thirteen Winky 62
Click Cute 62
The Aviator Fluttered 63
The Kite Runner Plotty 63
The Host Scattered 63
The Proposition Tough 63
Death Proof Self-parodic 64
The Savages Shouty 64
Garden State Harebrained 64
North Country Heavy 64
Babel Rambled 64
Gone Baby Gone Episodic 65
Hero Vibrant 65
Mr. and Mrs. Smith Jolly 65
Napolean Dynamite Lucky 65
Idiocracy Jocose 65
Repo Man Pointy 66
Marathon Man Muddy 66
The Prestige Ostentatious 66
Ocean's Eleven Smooth 67
Michael Clayton Limpid 68
Million Dollar Baby Dubious 68
Hard Eight Soulled 70
Blood Diamond Schemey 70
Pan's Labyrinth Stormy 70
The King of Kong: A Fistfull of Quarters Square 71
Super Size Me Blithe 71
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari Oblique 71
Thief Lonely 72
No End In Sight Damning 72
Syriana Recondite 72
Misery Maniacal 73
Superbad Rambunctious 73
Juno Inconsistent 73
300 Red-blooded 73
Lord of War Ambitious 73
Long Day's Journey Into Night Dark 73
The Assassination of Jesse James Deliberate 74
A History of Violence Indecisive 74
Sicko Illuminating 74
Bonnie and Clyde Gutsy 74
Capote Intimate 74
Broken Flowers Circumspect 74
Oldboy Alive 74
Half Nelson Lonesome 74
The Illusionist Extravagant 75
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Unabridged 75
V for Vendetta Amplified 76
Brick Loaded 76
Deathtrap Sly 76
United 93 Taut 76
Thank You For Smoking Slick 76
Standing in the Shadows of Motown Fond 77
Everyone Says I Love You Adorable 77
Eastern Promises Pinpoint 77
The Fountain Challenging 77
Match Point Crafty 77
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia Explosive 77
Three Kings Shrewd 78
Black Snake Moan Robust 78
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou Self-indulgent 78
Casino Royale Manic-depressive 78
Good Night, and Good Luck. Lucid 79
Being There Fragrant 79
An Inconvenient Truth Cogent 79
In Bruges Patient 80
Lost In America Jaunty 80
Knocked Up Jocund 81
Sanjuro Playful 81
Murderball Muscular 81
Grizzly Man Obsessive 81
The Queen Deft 81
Away From Her Dour 82
49 Up Merited 82
Static Spooky 82
The Warriors Digable 82
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead Overwrought 83
The Barbarian Invasions Remissive 83
Little Miss Sunshine Winning 83
The Dark Knight Sensational 84
The Killing Fields Demanding 84
No Country for Old Men Muted 84
In the Heat of the Night Striking 84
For A Few Dollars More Sudden 84
Sin City Colorful 84
Adaptation. Clever 84
The 40 Year Old Virgin Eruptive 84
Touching the Void Gripping 84
The Departed Tensey 84
Collateral Sleek 86
Miller's Crossing Smart 86
I Know I'm Not Alone Welcome 86
Amelie Darling 86
Zodiac Meticulous 87
Once Upon a Time in America Rich 87
Cinema Paradiso Bellissimo 87
O Brother, Were Art Thou? Bonafide 87
The Fog of War Potent 88
Children of Men Captivating 88
Casablanca Proud 89
Borat: Cultural Learnings… Outrageous 89
Smiles of a Summer Night Sparkling 89
Ratatouille Delectable 90
Running on Empty Honest 90
American Splendor Exceptional 90
Fight Club Provoking 91
Rushmore Sincere 92
There Will Be Blood Ruthless 93
Hoop Dreams Phenomenal 94
Network Profound 96
Pulp Fiction Respectful 99
Dr. Strangelove Marvelous 99
Chinatown Wistful 100

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thursday Youtube


If you don't find these as hilarious as I do, I feel sorry for you.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Unyielding Commissioning is Perturbed

See You at the Party Richter - Over at The Movie Blog, they've posted their "10 Most Talentless People In Movies." According to them, the #1 least talented person in Hollywood is... Arnold Schwarzenegger. Well, you can imagine how I reacted to such a thing. I originally posted the following comment:

How can you put Schwarzenegger on this list at all, let alone in the top spot? Arnold's popularity never stemmed from his muscles. The guy's talented. Having him included corrupts your whole list. Having him number one makes you a rabble-rousing punk.
But minutes later, the comment had disappeared. Perhaps I went too far? Let me know what you think. I really like The Movie Blog. They are truly devoted to film and to blogging and deserve what they've achieved. They work hard. But to put Schwarzenegger above the likes of Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson, and Dane Cook? Please. If you personally don't like Schwarzenegger or his movies, fine, but there's a reason that every film he's been in makes piles and piles of money, winning over millions of fans while The Hottie and the Nottie is the IMDb's 15th worst movie of all time and grossed $27,696. If you really believe that Arnold has less talent than these people, then you're less of a movie fan than I thought. And if you are doing this just to ruffle feathers and garner comments, then you're being dishonest and are worse bloggers than I thought. I don't know what to think, actually.

I discussed the Arnold mystique a bit when I set up the Schwarzenegger Sunday feature. And in reviewing the majority of his leading roles last year, I discovered he was even more gifted than I believed. I find myself offended at this point, and not just because of the time I put in. It feels like someone has just told me that Sarah Palin will be a good president because she can see Russia from her home state.

I doubt my comment was intentionally removed from their site, but if it was, that would be an act of cowardice. Given some of the others that remain, and the fact that they generally seem to let the complaints fly most of the time, I have to imagine it was simply a technical error. But I'm annoyed at the list anyway. I've lost a little respect for the guys. It pains me to say that.

The Latest Top Ten

I often link to Scene Stealers Tuesday Top Ten. Well, I'm linking again today. However, you have extra incentive to read the list, cause this one was written by me. So head on over to check out my Top Ten Unfairly Maligned Sequels.

54T - White Dudes Who Hired Chicks Who Can Wail

It's high time for a new feature 'round these parts. Until further notice (i.e. when I change my mind), we're going to be doing a Tuesday Five-fer. Each Tuesday, we'll throw out a unifying theme and the top five examples we can think of. Today, five British acts who hired some women who can really wail and made it work. Not much commentary needed on this one, but plenty of Youtubes to go around.

5) Spiritualized - Come Together (The London Community Gospel Choir)
4) Basement Jaxx - Good Luck (Lisa Kekaula)
3) Joe Cocker - With a Little Help from My Friends: (Madeline Bell, Sunny Weetman, and Rossetta Hightower)
2) Pink Floyd - The Great Gig in the Sky (Clare Torry)
1) The Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter (Merry Clayton)

So tell me, which ones did I forget?

Monday, September 22, 2008


Sir Ben Kinglsey impersonating Ian McKaye. And why not?

Sir Ben Kingsley STOMPS into the shoes of Minor Threat's Ian MacKaye from Mean Magazine on Vimeo.
(HT /film)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Unyielding Commissioning Hopes He's On Cloud Nine

Love Don't Live Here Anymore - It seems like we've been linking to obituaries more and more lately. Legendary producer and songwriter Norman Whitfield has passed away at the age of 68. That man who wrote many of The Temptations greatest accomplishments, not to mention Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight & The Pips, and many other Motown acts. From my earliest interest in soul, his work has been at the forefront of my experience. Check out Dan's excellent obit, and if you have the time, the Allmusic Guide biography is worth reading.

Please celebrate the man by listening to Rose Royce's "Keep On Keepin' On", just one of his indelible contributions to the soul of America.

Free Stuff! - Well, not exactly stuff, but Scene Stealers is reporting that you can now watch oodles of movies on the IMDb for free. That's, um, like worth doing and stuff.

Wax On, Wax On - I'm not sure what's up with Roger Ebert lately, but he's really opening up on his blog. A few months ago, he opined on the movie of his life. Then, just a few days ago, it was an explanation of his ratings. Now he's discussing the role of the critic. This one's a pretty interesting read. But I wonder why he's getting so philosophical lately. Either he's contemplating retirement, or he's simply hitting his stride as a blogger.

Crom Laughs At Your Four Winds - Coming on the heels of the news that McG is directing the fourth Terminator installment, The Movie Blog is reporting that Brett Ratner is helming the remake of Conan The Barbarian. Ratner, known best for his three Rush Hour pictures along with the last of the X-Men films, has never shown the ability set up a reality in the way that John Milius did so masterfully in the original Conan. Now, if we have to compare the two appointments, there's no question that the odds of Ratner putting together something interesting are significantly higher than McG putting out something remotely passable. McG suuuuucks. Still, this hiring does nothing to get me more excited about a project I assumed was doomed from the start. As one of the TMB commenters said, they should be making the King Conan feature with Arnold reprising his role. Maybe once he's done while the whole governor thing.

Here There Be Tygers! (just click on it - not as scary as the a usual "tygers")

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Heard These Guys Yet? - Sept 08

We're back with another healthy dose of recommendations! Take your medicine:

Recommender: Biz
Band: Dianogah
Blurb: Sticking with what I know... another Chicago band! Although named after the trash compactor creature on the Death Star, Dianogah's sound is not garbage. In the past Dianogah has been a 3-piece featuring 2 bass players and drums in a mostly instrumental format. I have always liked the 2-bass sound, and Dianogah delivers it with deep grooves of interest. For their latest album released last month, Qhnnnl, their first in about 6 years, they have brought in many special guests, including vocalists and an occasional guitarist. It also features the always amazing Andrew Bird on violin on many tracks. Dianogah also appeared as Bird's backing band, as they do in this recent video for Lull. Bassist Jay Ryan is a man of many skills, probably better known as a talented poster artist. In fact, it is likely you've seen his silkscreen prints used in poster and album artwork for your favorite bands. Just like in Jay's artwork, you can hear lots of squirrels in the Dianogah sound... if you listen carefully! Even with the more diverse instrumentation, the new album still features lots of cool bass sounds. I think Qhnnni is an exciting direction for the band, and I hope we can hear them collaborate with Mr. Bird more in the future, as they have expressive, yet complementary styles.
Reminds me of: A bass-heavy more fun version of Tortoise
File Under: Diggin' for the Disco Dump
But don't take my word for it: Dianogah at Myspace

Recommender: PMaz
Band: Blitzen Trapper
Blurb:If you like bands that have a consistent sound, then you are not going to like Blitzen Trapper. My first introduction to them was the title track off their latest album, “Wild Mountain Nation”. “Sounds a bit like Wilco…back when they were good”, I thought to myself. But songs like “Devil’s A Go-Go” combine the recklessness of Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks with the blues rock crunch of The White Stripes. And the playfully warped “Woof & Warp of the Quiet Giant’s Hem” (who named this song…Robert Pollard?) is in a league all its own, probably belonging on a Flaming Lips album. Speaking of Robert Pollard, BT is a bit “lo-fi”, and their songs rarely extend beyond the 3-minute mark for those of us with short attention spans. I hear a bit of a Beck influence in here as well, though Beck is quite the chameleon in his own right. The synthesis of all of these sounds comes together best in a song like “Murder Babe”, a piece of power pop/prog rock bliss. It’s doubtful you are going to hear anyone say, “Hey, I heard this new band and they sound a lot like Blitzen Trapper!” And that’s a good thing.
Reminds me of: The Flaming Lips covering the Grateful Dead
File Under: Son of Son Volt
But don't take my word for it: Blitzen Trapper at Myspace

Recommender: Jonas
Band: Fujiya & Miyagi
Blurb: I first stumbled upon Britain ’s Fujiya & Miyagi in 2007 while sitting at my computer listening to a radio stream from Seattle . I realized my head was bobbing up and down and determined that I needed to hear more. The album was Transparent Things, and I fell in love with it and them during the first listen. That’s rare for me, it usually takes 5 or 6 listens of an album to come to a conclusion like that. I would best describe the band as “indie electronic” because they really do an impressive job of balancing both synths and guitars throughout their albums. A good baseline is always present and can at times give songs a funk or almost disco feel. The electronics really come out on their instrumental tracks, and the beats per minute ramp up in these as well. The music is simple and is well done, and it wouldn't hold up as well as it does without the lyrical aspect. Their lyrics are always simplistic and quirky, but sung softly in a serious manner as to personalize their purposefully weightless subject matter. And what I mean by weightless subject matter is that in the songs “Reeboks in Heaven” or “Sucker Punch”, that is indeed what the songs are about. Nothing more. I highly recommend Transparent Things, and they have just recently release their follow-up to that, Lightbulbs. I am new to the latter, but I’m already pretty sure I’ll enjoy it just as much since it doesn’t stray far from the groovy, indie, electronic pop that got me hooked in the first place.
Reminds me of: A bit of The Beta Band with more energy and less attitude + a Casio keyboard from 1983.
File Under: Domo Arigato, light on the throttle
But don't take my word for it: F & J at Myspace

Recommender: Kyle
Band: Lykke Li
Blurb: After the initial shock of being freaked out slightly by her Little Bit music video wore off, I gave this gal a chance and she won me over. This Swedish tart has spacier vocals than most of her female pop counterparts. On a personal note, I absolutely love the mandolin in "Little Bit." Produced by the Bjorn from Peter Bjorn & John, every member of the band appears on the record for at least one song. This swedish tart has spacier vocals than most of her female pop counterparts. Even though it feels like she's sneaking around away from the microphone, she's not afraid to sex things up just a bit.
Reminds me of: Feist + Peter Bjorn and John
File Under: Makeout Music on Mars
But don't take my word for it: Lykke Li at Myspace

Recommender: Reed
Band: The Most Serene Republic
Blurb: I can't imagine a band with a name that's harder to remember. It has taken me two months of rote practice to get it straight. But all that effort has been worth it. I first heard of these guys when they crammed all 46 members (an exaggeration) onto a tiny stage at this summer's Wicker Park fest. Their band-geek appearance didn't exactly inspire confidence in their ability to rawk out. But from the get-go, their bright, high-energy indie rock wowed everyone in attendance. Their latest release, Population, features their strongest collection of tracks, but all three albums are worth checking out. Unfortunately, they're not on tour now, but the next time they roll through town, you'll need to see them live and in person, just for the sake of observing the sweet precision.
Reminds me of: The Harlem Shakes meets Broken Social Scene
File Under: Canadian Jumping Beans
But don't take my word for it: TMSR at Myspace

Thursday Youtube

This one's awfully genteel, no?

This one, too... kinda.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Unyielding Commissioning Gives An Explanation Two Stars

Everybody Is A Star - Roger Ebert tries to give some insight into why he rates movies too highly. Honestly, I have long thought Ebert to be the greatest film reviewer in history. I realize that we're kind of in "tallest midget" territory here, but the man has an undying love of the genre, an impressive knowledge base, and he's a damn fine writer to boot. Even though he's the best, he certainly throws out the three-star ratings far too often. It's evident if you read his stuff on a regular basis. But his explanation here comes off more like a bunch of excuses, and you can tell that his heart really isn't into it. He's long lamented his star ratings and his thumbs, but I'm sure they've been a major part of his success. It's always easier if you explain yourself at the outset, right? Then you have a clear definition of criteria. Speaking of which, where the hell are those One Word Reviews anyway? For now, you can peruse the complete list here. But I promise they will be coming back soon. Some things got lost in the move and I have to track down the master file. Yes, we've got hundreds more. Stay tuned.

The Ugliness Is Its Simplicity - Over at The Movie Blog, they report on Forbes Magazine's list of Hollywood's Top Ten Overpaid Actors. The analysis is a complete joke in that they only used a limited sample of films, and didn't account for anything (advertising, quality of film, co-stars, etc.). Perhaps someone with some statistical expertise could put something worthwhile together. Stop pointing at me, I don't have time. Not right now. OK, maybe I'll give this a crack someday. Even though I called it a complete joke, you're interested in seeing who's on it, aren't you? Go click.

You've Been Wrong All Along - Ten Movie Misquotations. The Mental Floss gang pretty much nailed this list. Worth checking out if you're anal like I am.

Baby Don't You Cry - Mental Floss covers the Wah Pedal. Like, really breifly.

Screamin Brothers - (Sorry my lead-in titles suck today.) Eric from Scene-Stealers gives you the Top Ten Corporate Greed Movies. As usual when Eric does these things, it's pretty impecable.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Unyielding Commissioning on C*$@% F&#!~@^$

I'm Just Talkin' About Shaft - 11 Words that Sound offensive, but aren't. If the title isn't compelling enough on its own, just trust me that this is not only enlightening but wildly hilarious. And if you don't believe me, may your home be overrun with cockchafer.

Suddenly I Realize - Greg Kot weighs in on Epiphany, the newest club opened by the Empty Bottle folks. Actually, he goes in to the history of the Empty Bottle and how the little guys are thriving while they stand up to the Wal-Marts of Chicago Rock N Roll. Reading that, for some reason, my mind wandered to long-ago radio ads for the Thirsty Whale, a club I never visited that no longer graces the Chicago scene. However, you can reminisce about the club and its demise which was likely due to its reliance on glam rock because they have a tribute website. When L.A. Guns and Trixter went belly-up, so did the Whale.

Hit Me - Roger Ebert was physically attacked by another critic at the Toronto Film Festival. Ebert, in case you haven't heard is still recovering from various ailments and can't even speak, let alone wrassle in the ailes. I have no worldly idea who Lou Lumenick is, but apparently he bopped Ebert for rather nebulous reasons. Even though I know nothing about the man, and because I originally misread his surname as "Limerick", here's my take on the situation:

There once was a man from New York
From his picture, he sure seems a dork
Roger gave him a tap
Which caused him to snap
Now Chaz may give his knees a torque

Wish You Were Here - Crooked Fingers has a new album to be released on October 7th, and you can check out one of the tracks, "Phony Revolutions" on their myspace page. The production level seems more suped up and it features an appearance from the mariachi trumpet that was employed on 2005's Dignity and Shame. They're on tour opening for Okkervil River and will hit Metro on October 14th. Just one of many shows I already regret missing down here in Argentina. Maybe this is the album on which they really break through? Frontman Eric Bachmann always delivers live, by the way. (Though if they never make it, it only opens the door for a potential Archers of Loaf reunion tour, right?) Also, Okkervil River asked him to cover one of their new tracks. He obliged. And here it is! His version of "Bruce Wayne Campbell Interviewed on the Roof of the Chelsea Hotel, 1979":

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Unyielding Commissioning Defends The Urban Achievers

The gang at Mental Floss has been speaking our language lately. So we're just going to run the voodoo down quickly for ya. The first four links come from them.

Ten Crazy Music Managers - just what it sounds like.

Me Quiz - a fun little movie quiz about movies with "Me" in the title. No, there's no Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, but there should be.

Flangers and Phasers - an understanding of Flangers and Phasers, complete with audio clips. A bit basic, but enlighening if you had no idea what flangers and phasers were before. I didn't. See, I'm not such a know-it-all soemtimes. This is about audio recording, by the way.

The Ultimate Spinal Tap Quiz" - They had the penultimate one earlier which was rather easy. This one's a bit tougher. Betcha can't get a perfect score. I got a 6. Therefore the review of my output is a mere two words: Shit Sandwich. I think my performance was affected by the little bread.

Randall's Top Ten Descents Into Madness - Um, also just like it sounds. Kudos for including The Wall. But there are some good ones absent. Decide it yourself.

Decade of The Dude - a Rolling Stone article claiming that The Big Lebowski has hit its stride now, ten years after its initial release, because he is finally the man for his time and place. He fits right in there now. Well, permit me a rebuttal. I remember seeing this movie and laughing my ass off at times while the rest of the theater remained silent.

There's nothing profound about this article to me. It all rings true - only in ideas many have long thought about for ten years now. Even as I first watched the thing, I realized that there was a lot I could learn from The Dude. Like many, I have worked hard at cultivating my inner Dude - ironic though that may be. I know some Coen Brothers fans who claim that while The Big Lebowski is an excellent romp, there is no substance to it. Its staying power proves otherwise, and in that regard, I agree with this article.

The thing that's wrong about columns like this is that they talk about the fan mania as though it is suddenly significant. The true story is the "why behind the buy". There is a reason why people are obsessed. Greene touches on this, but incorrectly put it into today's terms. These fans have been around since the movie's theater run. If anything, their organization and ubiquity are solely because of things like e-mail, the internet and iPods. The Dude-heads I know have felt this way for ten years. It has nothing to do with our time or our generation. We don't idolize the Dude. We may find him endearing, but really, it's just that the movie is so goddamn hilarious.

Those prices are just too high - Caught this movie on TV the other night. I had forgotten how hilarious it is. Without context, this clip may make no sense, but do yourself a favor and go out and rent Used Cars starring Kurt Russell sometime. They don't make movies like this anymore.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Lollapalooza Sunday

This review obviously comes much, much later than it should have. But I moved to another continent so this blog is still in bounceback mode. Please forgive the delay. I promise to try to be snide in as funny a way as I know how.Despite some major high points, on the whole Lollapalooza had been a bit lacking after Saturday and Sunday. I couldn't quite put my finger on the problem. Probably a combination of the lack of pleasant surprises on stage and the sellout crowds that overstuffed Grant Park. I was determined to make the most of Sunday and I managed to catch at least a portion of 14 acts, so these blurbs will generally be short and sweet in the interest of my time and yours.

I had high hopes for Ha Ha Tonka who, at their best, sound a lot like Kings of Leon. While they sounded very much in tune, they were awfully vanilla. I'm sure it's hard to be first up on the last day and all, but if they brought the rock a little harder, they'd be a far more compelling act. There's potential there, but that's all we were left with.
From there, we messed up. Wanting to see Octopus Project, we went to the wrong stage. This would not have been a major gaffe, except that one of the bands due to perform on that stage canceled and they never bothered to tell the audience that was gathered there. After fifteen minutes of watching a roadie tap each drum, as roadies often do, a dude in front of angrily muttered to his girlfriend, "Forget this - let's go see Octopus Project." Wha-huh? We felt pretty stupid, so I at least took a picture of the non-announcing roadie:

I think that one dude's already asleep!

Missing the first half of Octopus Project's set proved to be a major mistake. Musically, they're a bit all over the place and feature a theremin played pretty much as well as a theremin can be played - artfully interesting. On some tunes, they rocked out with some serious crunch to their sound, and that's when they were at their best. It was a shame we missed so much of their set. They wanted to play one last song that reportedly only lasts two minutes, but the powers that be cut them off. The next band didn't start playing for at least seven minutes. Booo Lollapalooza!

The Blakes brought some fuzzy, blues-influenced rawk - and the two dudes out front looked rather fuzzy themselves. It was all pretty straight - kinda uninteresting, but it felt good. I don't know if that makes any sense. There was no climactic finish. Maybe they were high.
I previewed Wild Sweet Orange by saying that they are so from Birmingham, Alabama. Seeing them live, I didn't have much to say. They didn't leave much of an impression. My notes actually say: "They sounded fine I guess."
It was far less intense than this photo makes it out to be. Yes, I realize this isn't a very intense photo.

What Made Milwaukee Famous sounded somewhat on, but play just way too cheesy, sentimental wimpy stuff for me.

I think I was in kind of a sucky mindset because when The Whigs began their set I wrote, "I'm already bored." But then we moved closer to the stage and everything suddenly got better. With My Morning Jacket-esque vocals, pounding drums and garage-rawk strumming, the band made for a winning combo. With each song, the crowd got more into the set and the band brought more fire. Definitely a happy highlight.

Drummer Julian Dorio resembled Animal - right down to the crazy red hair.

Eat Drums!

The first thing I wrote about Brazilian Girls was, "I'm bored already." Unlike The Whigs, the situation did not improve. Everything was just ridiculously slow, boring and uninspired. Perhaps if you were closer and could apprecaite the crazy outfits, it was more worthwhile. I swear I heard lead singer Sabina Scuibba say "This is a song about the slowest orgasm I ever had. It goes waaaaaahhhhhhhhh wahhhhhhh." Or maybe that's just how it felt to me.

Nicole Atkins sports a good voice, though she goes in for the warbling too often for my tastes. Unfortunately, the songs weren't anything to write home about. She's cute, though!

Even though all of Amadou & Mariam's songs kind of ran together, they each were driven a great beat - like each tune was pushing forward. The blind, married couple stood beside each other during the entire set. It was cute. The smallish crowd had a ton of fun, dancing and clapping along the whole way. A conga line that grew to ridiculous proportions was surely dorky, but the kids had fun with it anyway. I somehow didn't condemn the practice.
Eli "Paperboy" Reed's music is part Wilson Pickett, part Sam Cooke and nothing else, but what's wrong with that? Seeing his act at a smoky club late at night would be more atmospheric than late in the afternoon in Grant Park. The bigger problem was that the mix was way too low on the guitars and horns. Eli's voice isn't strong enough to carry everything on his own. He carries his guitar with him the whole set, but rarely plays it. It's more of a prop. Eli needs to work on the showmansihp thing a bit, but he's going about it the right way. My exhuastion was becoming palpable at this point, so perhaps there was nothing Eli could do to wow me anwyay.
From the shady grass somewhat near the stage, Saul Williams sounded like he was breaking down musical barriers. Worried I'd just run out of gas, I jumped up and over to the stage. Then a slower song went on for too long and all the energy dropped out of the performance. The place was packed, and Williams probably should have been on a bigger stage, especially on "rap day." His female vocalist was voliently out of tune. I mean, someone should have killed her mic. This was not intentional. Directly in front of the stage seemed like the place to be. People were going nuts up there, particularly on "List of Demands." They closed with a horribly out of key cover of Sunday Bloody Sunday. Trimming the fat out of this set would have resulted in a brilliant half-hour. He should have gotten BSS'd.
When the Girl Talk set began, we had 3 tall dudes wearing Notre Dame hats directly in front of us. None of them danced a step. It was brutal. Of course, the area was packed, so we had to make a forceful move to get away from the trio of stringbeans. Once we did, all was right in the world. Everyone (aside from those three Domers) was really getting down. Gillis is amazing in that forces me to like songs that I detest. That's right. I danced to Whoomp There It Is with no regrets. I'm even writing about it.

Greg's in there somewhere

Way better than the smushy mess at Pitchfork last year, this was a jumpin', laughin', clappin' good time. Too many dancers on stage actually bent the platform. Good thing Gillis was the last artist to perform ont he Citi Stage. He closed the set by tossing an inflatable boat on the audience and jumping into it. What's more smiley than that?

Look at these happy people!

I really wanted to take in the set by The National, but Girl Talk was such a blast, I didn't get over to the north end of the grounds until their set was at least half over. I set up for Nine Inch Nails and took a load off for twenty minutes. From where I sat, The National sounde fantastic. The rockers were rockin' and the others were slick. Also, I finally figured out why some dorky people talk really loud. It's because they're afraid of making eye contact so their heads are not pointed in the direction of the person listening to them. Yes, that's quite the non-sequetur, but it's part of the Lolla experience. Nerds!

Nine Inch Nails opened with 1,000,000 which got everyone all crazy. 80% of the crowd were pretty intenst fans, with the other fifth mainly there out of curiousity. At this point, I had kind of forgotten what I wanted from the performance. I'm a devout fan, but haven't yet dug through Ghosts I-IV. I guess I was hoping for more of the classics.
So I don't know whether it's just me, or not, but it seemed pretty clear that Terrible Lie was the pinnacle of the set with Wish and Head Like a Hole not far behind. The middle of the set had a roughly 20 minute segment where various songs from Ghosts were performed with Piggy in the middle. It was a major downer, and for much of it, the band performed from behind a screen. So we weren't hearing anything catchy or heavy, and we couldn't even see the performers. This would have been bad at a club show, but at the end of a three day festival, it really didn't play well. Still, when they played them, the rockers fucking kicked. Trent Reznor tossed guitars and mic stands across the stage and ended up with a bloody hand for his trouble. Along with many of the die-hards, I found the strength to jump my ass off for just a few more tunes. The encore closed with Hurt and Reznor explaining that his voice was not at its best. I didn't really notice. A NIN show where they play even a handful of the songs I want to hear is still a win (and a handful was really all we got). Not the best I've seen them, but still brought some much needed intensity to day 3.
All in all, It was a relatively uninspiring Sunday. Girl Talk and NIN saved the day from being pretty much a waste. This is definitely the weakest overall Lollapalooza since the brough the festival to Chicago. There were high points, but few pleasant surprises. My top ten in order: Rage Against the Machine, Explosions in the Sky, Girl Talk, Yeasayer, Radiohead, Okkervil River, Nine Inch Nails, Gogol Bordello, Bang Camaro, The Whigs. The fact that I had to think hard to get to ten speaks volumes. Do I fly back from Argentina for the festival next year? Leaning towards Pitchfork instead, actually. See you then!

Triumph at the RNC

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Bonus Thursday Youtube

From last night. In Minneapolis. Right about when Governor Palin was making with the funny stuff. Tip your waiter.

(HT: Byronne)

And the doughy Republicans thought they were pumped up last night. Go America!

Thursday Youtube

One of my favorite movies meets one of the stars of this year's Pitchfork Festival. Be patient with these. They're worth your time:

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

RIP Jerry Reed

He had a long and fruitful career in both music and movies, but I will always think of Jerry Reed as the scalawag Coach Beaulieu in Adam Sandler's The Waterboy. He passed away today from complications from emphysema at age 71. Godspeed, Jerry.
His spot-on performance as Beaulieu sets the tone at the outset of the film:

And here's his biggest hit - Amos Moses:

Unyielding Commissioning Did It Better

Agreeing in Principle - In today's IMDb Daily poll, they ask their users to rate the most shameless of Entertainment Weekly's 25 "I Did It For the Money Roles." Well, we took on this subject in this space a couple months ago without the knowledge of the EW list's existence. They did this near the end of March. Who knew? The EW list follows:
1. Robert De Niro in 'The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle' (2000)
2. Richard Burton in 'Exorcist II: The Heretic' (1977)
3. Ben Kingsley in 'Bloodrayne' (2005)
4. Tony Curtis in 'The Bad News Bears Go To Japan' (1978)
5. Dennis Hopper in 'Super Mario Bros.' (1993)
6. Peter O'Toole in 'Club Paradise' (1986)
7. Orson Welles in 'Transformers: The Movie' (1986)
8. Judi Dench in 'The Chronicles of Riddick' (2004)
9. Michael Caine in 'Jaws: The Revenge' (1987)
10. Demi Moore in 'Striptease' (1996)
11. Laurence Olivier in 'Clash of the Titans' (1981)
12. William Hurt in 'Lost in Space' (1998)
13. Faye Dunaway in 'Supergirl' (1984)
14. Richard Pryor in 'Superman III' (1983)
15. Christopher Walken in 'Kangaroo Jack' (2003)
16. Jeremy Irons And John Malkovich in 'Eragon' (2006)
17. Buster Keaton in 'Beach Blanket Bingo' (1965)
18. Ben Affleck in 'Paycheck' (2003)
19. Elizabeth Taylor in 'The Flintstones' (1994)
20. Cuba Gooding Jr. in 'Chill Factor' (1999)
21. Matt Dillon in 'Herbie: Fully Loaded' (2004)
22. Marlon Brando in 'Superman' (1978)
23. Bill Murray in Garfield (2004)
24. Jason Alexander in 'Dunston Checks In' (1996)
25. Sean Connery in 'Never Say Never Again' (1983)

While there criteria was slightly different, we still have a few words here. We've already detailed the reasons, but no sellout tops Michael Caine's in Jaws: The Revenge. By his own admittance, he did it solely for the money. To include Peter O'Toole's Club Paradise role at #5 while there are four other more egregious sins right there for the taking is a major error. Connery should be pegged for other movies than a Bond reprise. I'm sure the cash was nice, but he did that one for his ego more than anything else. Chill Factor may be horrible, but Dady Daycamp surely must be above it. Finally, where is Jon Voight??? The Karate Dog? Baby Geniuses 2? They gave it a decent effort, but as per usual with EW, they didn't put much thought into this.

Doesn't Quite Go To Eleven - Challenge yourself with this Spinal Tap quiz. I got nine out of ten and will now punish myself by listening to heavy metal in Dubly.

You're The Man - Check out Eric's Top Ten Political Movies.

Another Legend Passes - Lost in all the hubub surrounding the deaths of Isaac Hayes and Bernie Mac, famed producer Jerry Wexler died two weeks ago at the age of 91. One of the founders of Atlantic Records, he produced songs by Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett and many other R&B stars of the era. You may remember his character depcited in the movie Ray by Richard Schiff (on the left in this photo). I could go on, but I'll let the article linked above do the talking. Jerry was long retired, but he gave us a lifetime of music. He will be missed.