Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Quick Movie Reviews

I saw a bunch of movies on dvd recently, let's go through 'em real quick:

Moonrise Kingdom - This movie by Wes Anderson is really good, a sort of modern day yet nostalgic fairy tale about first love.  Acting, direction, story all aces.  Good stuff.

This Means War - Captain Kirk and Shinzon are spies fighting over Reese Witherspoon.  Dumb Dumb Dumb film making but no denying the stars know how to shine in this flick.

Our Idiot Brother - This was advertised as a broad comedy but it turns out it's a sort of heart warming dramedy about a simpleton who wreaks havoc in his sister's lives.  Kind of boring.

Fast enough?

Friday, November 09, 2012

The Killers - Runaway (2012)

This past month one of the songs I've been obsessed with has been "Runaway" by The Killers.  And it's kind of funny because the first time I heard the song I didn't think much of it, just seemed like The Killers doing that Killers thing.  After a few plays I started to really dig that tune, man.  Changed my way of thinking yo. 

The Song:  "Runaways" initially reminded me a bit of their big hit "When You Were Young" off their sophomore album Sam's Town.  The songs seemed to go at a similar pace and have that Bono style chorus, not to mention being the lead single to their respective albums.  "When You Were Young" had a lot of comparisons to Bruce Springsteen's "Born To Run"  back when it was released, though I don't think "Runaways" fell into that trap.  What made "Runaways" different was the amount of synthesizer and that surging drum bit, it gives the song a nice flavor that separates it from "Young".  Made it a little more 80s retro, plus I love that part where it gets synth heavy in the bridge.  So now I wonder, what is this song about?

The Lyrics:  I'm not good at lyrics, remembering or interpreting them.  I've just read the lyrics to "Runaways".  I think it's about marrying some blonde girl who keeps talking about how we all are just runaways in some deep philosophical way.  This is really one of those things that plays out better in songs or poetry than it would in life, some one saying meaningfully "I think we're all just...runaways!"  It's one of those things where the person it was said to would go "Huh?  What?  Ohhh, I get it now.  Kinda a stretch but I get you" situations.  Anyway, they have a baby and then the guy character screws up somehow leaving him kicked out of the house.  But he's determined to win back the love of his life because they're both runaways.  Matched with the music the story gets blown up to a sort of mythological status, since we're all just runaways then maybe the story of these two people are a microcosm of all runaways consisting of all of us.  I'm a runaway, you're a runaway, my dog is a runaway - you get the picture.  And for some reason when it goes "Are you lonesome now" I think they're referring to Elvis' "Are You Lonesome Tonight".  And when the singer goes "Oh! Oh! Oh!" I flash to Tom Petty's "The Waiting"

The Video:  You know the music video for this song is pretty good.  It's got this flying road, a mic stand that changes colors like a lightsaber, a lot of pointing - the things that make for a good music video.  And seeing those floating red squares drift into each other was dope!  Ooh, shapes!  Although I like The Killers I don't know a whole bunch about them so I just think of them as Brandon Flower's band.  But I notice how much screen time the Jason Lee My Name Is Earl looking drummer gets so I get the impression he's an important part of the band too.  Like he's second in command to The Killers.  The Mr Spock to Flower's Captain Kirk.

Free Association:  My first thought about "Runaways" is the Tom Selleck movie called Runaway.  That was a pretty decent 80s B movie sci fi flick.  It had Kiss' Gene Simmons as the bad guy firing heat seeking bullets from his love gun.  And that's why it's good to be...me.  Kirstie Alley was in that one, bridging that career gap between Star Trek II and Cheers.  Alley recently confessed her love for John Travolta who she knew from Look Who's Talking, who had co-starred with Alley's Runway co-star Cynthia Rhodes in Staying Alive.  You know the most memorable scene for me from Runaway was that robot extracting a bullet from Cynthia Rhodes' shoulder?  Cynthia Rhodes was also in Dirty Dancing, which was big in '87.  You know who else was big in '87?  Bon Jovi.  Who had a song in '84 called "Runaway".  Which sounded nothing like The Killers song at all.

Wrap It Up:  "Runaways" wasn't a huge hit, it was a sort of middle ground hit that says to people "Hey, they're still around".  Just the same I think "Runways" is a smashing good time.  It's from their 2012 album Battle Born.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The Rundown 10/3/12

I can't figure out the new blogger system so all the items ran together into one paragraph. Pretty annoying. Ruh roh Shaggy, it's been a month. What's new? Moneyball - being an Oakland A's fan for the past four years or so, the movie Moneyball confirmed a lot of what I expected about the franchise. The low budget roster, the taking of a lot of pitches at the plate, the constant wheeling dealing all made contextual sense after watching this. The film itself was good stuff, watching Brad Pitt and Phillip Seymour Hoffman needle each other as interoffice opponents was particularly fun. It gets a lot of good dramatic tension out of something that should be mind numbingly boring. And hey, the A's won their Division today! Let's Go Oak-Land (clap, clap, clapclapclap)!!! The Real Housewives Of Rambo - In a reality tv show classic moment, two New Jersey housewives who are related to each other (Teresa Giudice and Kathy something)go at it to the point they start insulting each other's parents. Teresa then unwittingly pisses off who I assume is Kathy's sister by insulting their dead father. The sister heads for Teresa unleashing a barrage of death threats while Teresa sits in shock and Kathy goes all Colonel Trautman (Trautman was Richard Crenna's character in the Rambo movies, the guy who did all of Rambo's trash talk for him) letting Teresa know a beat down is coming. Kathy's condescending look and "you know who it is" comment to Teresa while the sister rages on was just so Rambo to me. For fun, thought I would compare Kathy's demeanor from the Real Housewives scene with a scene from Rambo First Blood The Real Housewives Link is here The Rambo Trautman speech is here I'm Tired - The latest song to follow me around is one from Adele's first album, called "Tired". I've heard it twice this week in different places. It's a good song, and with news that Adele will be singing the new James Bond theme I'm sure I'll be going on an Adele kick. The fall seasons begins...I guess - A lot of my favorite comedy shows have started off their new seasons the past two weeks, but most of them are a little flat. How I Met Your Mother hasn't been very funny the last two episodes, they seem to be out of stuff to do. Tosh.0 also is a bit lackluster, missing some of that snarky zing from better times. The premiere of Key and Peele had some funny spots but overall did not rival anything from season 1. Big Bang Theory is getting lost in girl friend relationships and is quickly losing it's geek mojo. At least New Girl has remained consistently amusing so far. Billy Corgan, right on - speaking of mojo, I listened to the recent Smashing Pumpkins disc Oceania and I liked it a lot. Despite being the only original Pumpkin left, Corgan has succeeded in resurrecting his 90s alt rock juggernaut with a strong album. Probably the best Smashing Pumpkins album since Mellon Collie.

Friday, September 07, 2012

The Rundown 9/7/12

Whatcha gonna do when Bubba runs wild on you? - My wife accurately pointed out to me this week that the Democratic National Convention ran more like a WWE event than a political convention. The hype! The big names! President Obama's motorcade steadily approaching the arena while action takes place! And like a retired WWE legend being called in for a main event Wrestlemania stunt match, Bill Clinton lit things up with a rousing speech that proved he's still better at big money politics than anyone left in the game today. Here's to hoping Vince McMahon is allowed to produce at least one of the presidential debates.

Lay Lady Lay - The latest song to follow me around, I've heard it three different times in the past week in three different ways. On music choice, then at a thrift store, then on my ipod while in shuffle mode. This song I've liked since before I really paid attention to music. When I found out this was a Bob Dylan song about 20 years ago, I was surprised. Just doesn't sound like Dylan to me, I guess because it is not political and has a warm sound to it. Anyway, it's the jam of the week.

The Most Effectively Annoying Advertising Campaign - is Carl's Jr's Memphis BBQ Burger ads featuring two women who you know don't go near a burger like this in their own lives fighting with each other over a BBQ grill so they can stuff their meat down their throats. This ad is on saturation airplay mode in my area right now, it's on just about every channel in every ad break. It's on so much I'm thoroughly annoyed, but I remember it because of this so I guess I've fallen into their master plan. Damn you Carls Jr.

Time to close down The Newsroom - HBO's The Newsroom started off strong but I guess because it has a pretty decent cast the show turned into a hydra monster of subplots. As the first season drew to a close, my best summary is a decent show with too many actors.

Cookie Monster Batman -
this was just a random click on You Tube tonight, thought it was pretty funny.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

The Rundown 8/31/12

Ugh, I have a cold. So let's do the rundown!

John Mayer Born And Raised - Been listening to this disc, I like it. When I heard he went all 70s country rock I became interested, and even though the sound he evokes is derivative it is still enjoyable. Particularly when he ropes in Graham Nash and David Crosby to do vocals on the title track, it's the best CSN rip since The Thorns on that one.

TAKE A XANAX! CALM DOWWN!!! - just when it seemed like the Real Housewives Of New York had run it's course as fun trash tv, they inject fresh blood with an almost all new cast to provide a heady mix of flash and trash. Now that Ramona Singer has seniority on the show, she feels free to run wild offending everyone in the range of her hyperactive gaze. Thanks to the commercials, I find myself yelling "CALM DOWWWNNN!!!" for no reason. And yes, I just admitted to watching this show.

A Very Harold And Kumar Christmas - this movie was mostly a waste of time, except for the few minutes where Neal Patrick Harris shows up. That part was legend - wait for it -dary!

From NPH to EVH... - Van Halen has postponed some tour dates for emergency surgery due to diverticulitis. Certainly wish the guitar god well, but can't help but wonder if anybody said...

Ark II - had some nice flashbacks watching the 70s sci fi show Ark II on dvd. My backpack got jets! Logans Run, Jason Of Star Command, Space Academy, original Battlestar Galactica those shows were tha bomb.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Rundown 8/21/12

Happy Birthday Honey - A few days ago my wonderful wife had a birthday. So I will dedicate this song to her, a song that has followed me around playing at a few places I went to last week.

And now let's run down the other things to happen in the last ten days -

How much do I tip? - Jiro Dreams Of Sushi is an excellent documentary about a man's lifelong commitment to making kick ass sushi. Mmmm sushi. There's other stuff too about tradition, work ethic, having standards, overfishing of the seas and so on but in the end it's about imbuing sushi on a tv screen with soul. And it works.

Factory Of Funk - Red Hot Chili Peppers I'm With You came out last year and I thought it was solid. The new guitarist doesn't have a big impact on the sound yet doesn't get in the way either. I've enjoyed playing this the past week, groovin on Flea's funky bass lines. Can't get the groove to "Factory Of Faith" out of my head.

Dana is going to talk fast and then SHOUT AT THE END OF THE SENTENCE!!! - Dana on the tv show Hell's Kitchen has found a interview promo pattern that guarantees her tv time. She starts talking fast, builds up speed and then SHOUTS EVERYTHING! And she does it all with a SLEEPY LOOK IN HER EYES!! It's addictively annoying because after a while you FIND YOU ARE DOING THE SAME DAMN THING SHE IS!!! AARGH!!

Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! Mr Kotta! - When I was a kid I went through a phase where I pretty much wanted to be Horshack from Welcome Back Kotter (this I think was between times when I wanted to be The Fonz or Jimmy Walker). So sad the actor who played this great character Ron Palillo died recently. Also another sad passing is William Windom, the actor who played Commodore Matt Decker from Star Trek.

Premium Rush - enough with the commercials for this movie already. In an age where package delivery men can't even be bothered to deliver something without throwing it around like a shot put, we're supposed to believe a bike messenger will risk his life to protect...he doesn't even know what he's protecting. Not that it will stop him from putting everything on the line as people try to kill him for the package, that package must make it to it's scheduled destination! Where it will be signed for by some anonymous person scribbling an indecipherable signature on a clumsy lcd pad and the delivery guy says "What's your name?" and you say "Mike" and the delivery guy says "Thanks Mark" and leaves. And does it count as six degrees from Kevin Bacon for Quicksilver? And can Premium Rush beat bike dancing to cheesy music?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Rundown 8/11/12

In honor of one of the shows I've watched lately, I'm going to put together a catch-all post RIGHT NOW. Okay, it's not that big a deal, but anyway...

Mission Impossible 4 - I watched MI4 this week and had a reasonably good time. Lots of running, fake outs and high tech stuff going on to hold my interest. A little more humor this time out as well. The movie does get carried away with the CGI though, there are sequences (like the sandstorm chase in Dubai...I think that's where the chase was) where I felt like I was playing a video game more than watching a film. Seems like a good warm up for Jeremy Renner in getting down the whole spy moves thang for his Bourne films.

The Newsroom - The new HBO series is for the most part a winner. It kicks off with a fictional news anchor making one of the best public speeches I've heard (and can only exist in fiction) before portraying a news program attempting to adhere to strict journalistic standards. Shades of Broadcast News, one of my all time favorite films, runs through the whole bit with moralistic ethics being discussed among soap opera characters sweating out each others love lives. Jeff Daniels goes gunning for Emmy glory with a strong turn as a hyper intelligent, narcissistic, insecure news anchor. There are some weak points, Daniel's character Will McAvoy is the most left leaning Republican ever and as my wife has noted there is a blatant The Office style Jim and Pam relationship going on with two characters. Plus when it comes to ethics, they are sticklers on verification of information on specific news stories (and make a big deal about it), yet feel free to carry out their personal political agendas on air (such as doing a week long tear down of the Tea Party). The Newsroom does capture a feeling of an adrenalin rush in the pursuit of factual information as well as reveal some nice pocket sized bits of knowledge (the 1 minute modern economics lesson was cool). And hey, Sam Waterston sighting!

Skyfall -
The James Bond trailer is out and I have the same reaction every time before I see the whole movie. This movie's gonna be dope yo! Even if they did bring back the "signature gun" gimmick like in Licence To Kill.

Already Gone - I haven't had a song follow me around in many a moon, but it happened today. Kelly Clarkson's "Already Gone" played twice in my presence at two different places. I think this was the song co-written by that guy from One Republic, that Clarkson said he recycled the beat he already had given to Beyonce for her hit "Halo". Meaning that the beat to her song was...you know what I'm going to say...already gone...

The Olympics - Just can't get excited about this thing. I saw the women's bronze volleyball match on tv though, that was a good match. Also saw some of the closing ceremonies. What a weird program that was. It was supposed to invoke the best of Britian, but after witnessing warmed over new wave hits, a creepy giant sized John Lennon face and too much Jessie J it all seemed like a big mistake. On the upside, USA won the medal count.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

It's Creed!

Last Friday night I went just outside of Sacramento to see post grunge rockers Creed at the Thunder Valley Casino. It was the first time I had been to that venue and see a band that started after the 80s. A rock band with members younger than me? Does such a thing exist?

It was a mildly hot summer day, a factor I didn't think would matter much until I got to Thunder Valley and saw the bands were playing at an outdoor stage. So much for air conditioning! The Thunder Valley venue was one of the most confusing I've been to despite it's very simple floor plan (the seating area is essentially box shaped). There are two entrances, one for VIP and the other for general admission. The problem is the tickets are sold with section and seat numbers, usually the opposite of general admission. So we (I went with my brother in law Brian. Hi Brian!) couldn't tell right off which entrance to take since it seemed we were neither VIP or general admission. It took a venue worker to explain there was no assigned seating, only assigned seating sections. You bought a ticket to sit in a certain area, but where in that area was a free for all. So we (and I'm sure others) took our time getting into the show thinking we have seating reserved only to find out we don't. We still were able to get seats we wanted though.

That's because we arrived ahead of the crowd, even though we went in a few minutes after the 7:30 start time. Surprisingly, we had already missed the first opening act. But we caught all of the 2nd opening act, Eve To Adam. Even with the terrible band name, E to A wasn't bad. They played perfectly competent hard rock in the vein of headliners Creed. The growly vocalist was a decent showman, but the guy that really made that band go was the bell bottomed guitarist. E to A's axe man had a steady variety of riffs and some nice sizzling solos. As a band there wasn't enough there to truly stand out, still their performance won me over and I liked their set.

During Eve To Adam's show the two video screens started a text scroll that many fans took as their opportunity to be Maury Povich. A lot of funny messages about how someone wasn't really someone else's father or dumping a person at the show went by.

As night began to fall Creed took the stage. Creed exists in a rare space of the music world - a successful group that is absolutely detested by their detractors. Just about a month ago the guy on the TMZ tv show was slamming Creed as the worst music ever - and that's not even a music program. They stand with artists like Michael Bolton or Winger, considered overblown and cheesy beyond redemption.

For me personally, when it comes to Creed I like the hits and a handful of album tracks. I don't love everything they do, some of their music sounds like generic post grunge and the tone of constant struggle (which is the main feeling I get from all their music) can get wearing. But when they get it right, I have a good time. Fortunately for me the band played a lot of the songs I liked that night. Creed's set list was:

Are You Ready / Torn / Wrong Way / What If / My Own Prison / Unforgiven / Beautiful / Bullets / Say I / Faceless Man / A Thousand Faces / One / What's This Life For / With Arms Wide Open / Higher
encore: One Last Breath / My Sacrifice

Creed opened fittingly and predictably with "Are You Ready" from the Human Clay album. Ah, the sound of 2000. We had just survived Y2K, 9/11 hadn't happened yet and the economy wasn't tanking. The audience got on their feet and more or less stayed there throughout the show. "Torn" followed before slowing things down with "Wrong Way". I had read online before the concert that they were focusing on songs from the first two albums, which worked great for me since I barely remember much from the second two albums. Still "Wrong Way" was starting to bore me, which is why I'm glad they kicked into "What If".

"What If" is one of Creed's songs that I like a lot, it has a monster swaggering groove. The song answered a question I had about the texting crawl on the bottom of the screen, I wondered if someone could get the chorus of the song on screen while it was still playing. To put me out of my misery, I saw the words "WHAT IF WHAT IF WHAT IF WHAT IF" scroll by during this song. Awesome.

Though it wasn't really needed, lead vocalist Scott Stapp mentioned something about the 90s before going into "My Own Prison". You know, as much slagging as Scott Stapp has gotten in the past decade I've gotta say that live Stapp is the show. He is the only guy on that stage (except maybe the drummer but that guy is hidden behind a drum kit) that works the crowd and puts energy out to the audience. Yes, that energy is overblown and sometimes made me laugh a little but still he gets a crowd going. When the music would get all thrashy Stapp would crouch down and sharply move his arms about like one of those guys that signals airplanes with flags. Then if the music got soft, Stapp would sort of sway and cup his hands together like a ballerina holding a flower. While the rest of the band played fine, they more or less alternated walking left or right on stage. The guitarist even gave away most of the solos to an unnamed 2nd guitarist. Man, when you can afford to hire someone to do your guitar solos for you, you know you've made it.

Stapp made a comment that the next song once represented his outlook on life but now he feels it's the opposite...sorry...antithesis before ripping into "Unforgiven". Which made me wonder why they played it, tho it was nice to hear a fast song. "Beautiful" followed, which reminds me that I was surprised by how many women were there to see Creed. In my head, I thought their audience would be a bunch of aging frat guys mixed with some holy rollers (Creed used to be known to have a Christian following at one time. Though that part of the audience may have been turned off by the famed Stapp sex tape.) In reality, about half the crowd were women who wanted to party. That's not a bad thing, just different than what I expected.

"Bullets" shot by (yes, intentional bad pun!) as the first song from the Weathered album made it's appearance. Then things got snoozy with the run of the mill heavy rocker "Say I" and slower jam "Faceless Man". I was more bored with the live version of this song than the album take, something about it just didn't connect live although Stapp added a little extra emotion in his vocal towards the end.

The pace stayed slow for "A Thousand Faces", the lone representative of the Full Circle disc for the evening. And then we hit the 7th inning stretch. It was hitsville after this.

"One" got things revving again as the sold out crowd held their pointer finger in the air in unison. Then Stapp made a plea for the children on "What's This Life For". Then Stapp made a dedication to his own child before starting off the monster hit "With Arms Wide Open" (A song that to this day makes me think of that Star Trek: The Next Generation episode where Captain Picard is trapped on a planet with an alien captain who can only communicate in metaphors. Darnak and Tanagra on the water. Darnak and Tanagra on the ocean. Darnak and Tanagra in the sea. You know which one I mean?) People were singing along like crazy through this patch which raised the energy to its peak on "Higher".

Seeing the band play "Higher" reminded me that it had been a long time since I'd seen a group this young play. Creed were able to plow through their set pretty handily, Stapp himself kept his energetic delivery up and his voice showed no weakness until this song. Even then it was just a slight weakness, I'm used to old guy bands that need to pace themselves between fast songs and singers who can't hit their most powerful notes anymore. Pretty cool to see a young band again in that respect.

After a break the group's encore was a one-two punch from Weathered. "One Last Breath" went well as Creed ended the show with their epic smash "My Sacrifice". Visions of Jeff Hardy doing a swanton bomb off the top an extremely high ladder went thru my head (the song was heavily featured during a WWE pay per view one year).

And that was the end of the concert. My only disappointment was that "Overcome" wasn't played, since I really like that one. Creed gave a good concert, if I was a Creed superfan who lived for every song I probably would have given the show 9 Dixie barks. But as I said I'm more of a hits guy when it comes to Creed, the album tracks left me staring at the text message board for entertainment no matter how well they were played. Which means I give the concert a

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Joe Walsh Goes Analog

Joe Walsh is one of those guys where I like the hits. "Rocky Mountain Way", "Life's Been Good", "Walk Away", "Funk 49", and a slew of others bring the party with goofy themes and crunching guitars. Even with all these songs I like, I haven't had an interest in Walsh's solo albums beyond hit compilations. This makes his recent disc Analog Man the first proper Joe Walsh solo disc I've owned.

And I gotta say it's pretty good. The title track and "And The Band Played On" have the biting guitar licks, slamming drums and buzzy vocals strong enough to fit alongside Walsh's best material on classic rock radio. Whether you agree or disagree with him, Walsh's old man complaints about the modern world and reflective moments about his life have some weight.

Like any long time rocker, there's gonna be some treading water moments like the sappy ballad "Family" or the reworked "Funk 49" as "Funk 50". Yet overall Walsh displays potency behind his six string sting and producer Jeff Lynne gives some of that Tom Petty sheen to make it go down smooth.

Analog Man is a good solid disc with a handful of killer moments. An above average solo album to me.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Quick Movie Roundup

...And now for a fast and dirty review of some stuff I've seen lately.

In Time - Is this the best we can get for a Logan's Run remake? Time is literally money in the future, you get paid and pay for things with a digital clock on your arm. If you always have time on your arm you can live forever. And when you're out of time on your arm clock you die. Not great but oddly watchable, it beats you over the head with its "we are the 99%" sloganeering of the haves living thousands of years while the have nots die on the street daily. Fascinating for a sea of recognizable faces (Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, that guy from Big Bang Theory, I think Olivia Wilde among others) working this low budget sci fi flick like they were doing somebody a favor. Despite story and plot holes, In Time stays OK until a Bonnie and Clyde angle starts up half way through and the movie strains for being cool. Then the movie...fake cough...runs out of time...

Hanna - Myley Cyrus stars as a teenage girl who is a student by day and rock star by night. Oh, wait, it's not that movie. This is that European movie, the one that seems like a Luc Besson thing with a young girl coming of age master assassin theme. Hanna reminded me of something some guy said about making the recent Lara Croft videogame, that the protagonist was made into a young girl so the audience will feel protective of her. After seeing Hanna what can you say, the trick works. The title character reeks havoc all over the world killin spies but you want to see her keep going.

Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - I know it's a David Fincher movie but it seems like an understatement to say this movie is dark dark dark. Like a few other Fincher movies, lots of people are up to no good behind a facade of style and manners. Fun to watch Daniel Craig play against Bond type, as a journalist who is pretty confounded by espionage and hazardous situations. To use a Randy Jackson phrase the intense investigation into evil intentions of others is right in Fincher's wheel house. He doesn't disappoint in ramping up the tension or sticking all kinds of violence and mutilation in yo face. Don't have anything negative to say about the film itself since it doesn't pretend not to be about that, other than you gotta be in the mood for a serious trip to the dark side to see this movie.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Checking In To The Marigold Hotel

Saw the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It tells the story of a bunch of unhappy retiring British people who buy into staying at a hotel in India that promises the ideal care for the elderly. Once arriving in India, the retirees find that the hotel is run down to the point that there are missing doors and walls. The situation forces people who felt their productive lives were over in the Western world to reinvent or rediscover themselves in a different place.

This type of story has been done before, so it's a question of execution more than originality. Despite a slow start where they introduce a wide range of characters, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel gives a warm, winning take on this tale. And how could it not when they stack the deck with an esteemed cast that includes Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Tom Wilkinson among others. The actors are uniformly great, in particular Dev Patel (that guy from Slumdog Millionaire) shines as the young hotel manager with big dreams.

Director John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) and crew do a nice job of giving the actors space, although with a cast this big (it's like ten or so featured characters) some people do get short shrift (Celia Imrie's man prowling Madge gets a lot less screen time than expected). The tonal shifts between personal drama and amusing comedy is handled nicely and with sensitivity.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel finds a group of talented people pleasantly performing a well worn story with good results. It's not the type of movie that sticks with you or reveals anything major, just a slight feel good film with a bad title ( I can't keep the title of this movie straight in my head no matter how many times I type it).

Saturday, June 09, 2012

I was watching a commercial for the The Grey and I came to one of those movie fan realizations: Liam Neeson constantly tells people what to do in his movies. He tells people how to walk, talk, eat, sleep, run, and anything else that comes to mind. Batman, Obi Wan Kenobi and even Mallory Keaton have been ordered about by the master of mentors. Neeson just has that cool commanding presence that has made him seem more physically imposing as he's gotten older. Like a pro wrestler, a big part of his game is trash talk. It's not that he's gonna hit you, but how he describes how he's gonna hit you that has an impact. Most action stars hit big in their 20s, Neeson I considered more of a dramatic actor early in his career so it's trippy how he's become an in demand movie hero laying the smackdown on bad guys all over the silver screen. So much so that someone on you tube named Dogfoodfilms has put together this cool R rated montage of Liam Neeson awesomeness:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


A nice song from Valentine's Day

One Headlight

I'm on a bit of a Wallflowers kick, playing a lot of their music. Although I had a lukewarm initial response to Jakob Dylan's last solo album it's grown to be one of my favorite discs. I actually like his music better than his father's although of course the historical/cultural impact between Jakob and Bob Dylan's music don't really compare. The Wallflower's catchiest song, the 90's monster hit "One Headlight" is in my frequent rotation on the Ipod.

I've mainly known the song for it's loping beat, cool organ blasts and chorus so I decided to look up the lyrics. It's a more morbid song than I expcected, seems to do with dealing with the death of a girl but it's hard to tell if the death is literal or metaphoric. In any case, what I get from the song is the feeling of trying to break free from grief. I Like the line "Man I ain't changed but I know I ain't the same".

It's Good To Be The King

Watched the movie The King's Speech last weekend, it lived up to it's hype of being a strong quality film. Nicely done with realistic, interesting characters and mildly dour direction. Colin Firth was thoroughly convincing in his portrayal of Bertie, the stammering Duke that would later be King. The King's Speech does a nice job of showing a friendship between the speech therapist and the Duke without making it seem like the most epic buddy pairing ever.

So how could I not think of the Eric Clapton pairing with B.B. King after this?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A New Kind Of Truth

Bought the new Van Halen disc this week, been impressed with it and like it a lot. A lot of the classic VH sound filled with Roth's hyper extroverted personality and Eddie Van Halen's fastball guitar licks. Like most Roth era VH albums the music pulls a lot from songs they wrote before they had a recording contract, this time including my favorite previously unreleased song "Let's Get Rockin" (now redone as "Outta Space"). As wrong as it is that Michael Anthony is no longer invited to the Van Halen party, Wolfgang Van Halen does a good job on the bass. It cracks me up how Wolfgang gets more room to play in than Anthony ever did, but hey it pays to be the son of the boss. Anyway, the new disc A Different Kind Of Truth is an entertaining album and my favorite song so far is the "Ice Cream Man" styled "Stay Frosty".

Saturday, February 11, 2012

R.I.P. Whitney Houston

2012 is off to a bad start for pop music, first Don Cornelius dies and now Whitney Houston. From 1985 to 1993 Whitney Houston's music dominated the airwaves, providing a radio soundtrack to much of my young adult life. So here's a clip showing Whitney Houston the way I remember her, performing on Soul Train.

Mike Seaver's Bad Attitude

Earlier today I went music shopping and almost bought Honeymoon Suite's The Big Prize cd which is a tape I played relentlessly in high school. Since I already had the songs I wanted on mp3 from it I decided to pass on buying it. Then later while eating lunch I was watching Growing Pains and what song is playing in the background while Mike Seaver is checking out a blonde in the school hallway? "Bad Attitude" by Honeymoon Suite.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Roger Wilco

I've been playing the last Wilco album The Whole Love lately. Wilco albums are always a tough listen for me at first, it takes time for me to "get it". Once I do get it though, I really like what I hear. It's unusual for a Wilco song to bowl me over on first pass, yet I really liked the final song "One Sunday Morning (For Jane Smiley's Boyfriend)". I don't know what the song is about, just like the easygoing 70s acoustic ramble it is. Even at 12 minutes long, makes me feel all peaceful like.

I've read the lyrics just now, very interesting. Looks like it tells the story of an athiestic man who did not get along with a religious father. The father dies and the man feels a mix of sadness and relief at the same time. Pretty deep and poignant song, the music is so pleasant I did not pick up on the story in it at all. Now that I know the themes of the song the muted tones and 70s style folkiness are that much more impressive.

Friday, February 03, 2012

It's Taboo!

While playing that Dawes album Nothing Is Wrong (I looked up the title!) I've been stuck on the 2nd song on it called "If I Wanted Someone". It's a stand out cut not just for the Neil Young guitar meets Jackson Browne chorus alchemy but for it's 70s styled sexism. Like Crosby Stills and Nash's "Triad", that sort of objectification of women under the guise of sensitive peace and free love spirit. While some bands have picked up on the 70s sounds for their indie rock, this is the first one I can remember to deliver a real 70s styled sentiment. It's kinda cool and kinda offensive simultaneously. The chorus goes:

If I wanted someone to clean me up I'd find myself a maid / If I wanted someone to spend my money I wouldn't need to get paid / If I'd wanted someone to understand me I'd have so much more to say / I want you to make the days move easy

"I want you to make the days move easy"? It just puts a picture in my head of some hippie in beat up blue jeans and no shirt with a sleeveless vest asking his "lady" or "mama" to get him a beer and stop being so "heavy" while sponging off her job. And then saying "C'mon baby, loosen up. Don't be such a square." Bitchin!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

F-F-F-Foolish Pride

Just a catchy song I've liked for ages. Daryl Hall (sans Oates) "Foolish Pride".

Alaska You Were Meant For Me

After watching tv last weekend I wonder: is it me or are there more camera crews in Alaska than there are actual state residents. There are at least three reality tv shows shooting up there (Alaska State Troopers, Alaska The Last Frontier and Gold Rush) making a big deal of living and working in a remote yet civilized area. Alaska The Last Frontier was the show I saw the most, an interesting program emphasizing homesteading and old school work-the-land values while driving expensive cranes and tractors. After hearing their last name I confirmed online that the featured family (The Kilchers) are related to the singer Jewel. So now I have some Jewel music on my mind.

Chuck Versus The End Of A Great Series

Last Friday was the end of the tv series Chuck, a low rated show I've loyally followed through five seasons. At the end of season four I thought the show was getting a bit stale and desperate despite great guest casting (Linda Hamilton! Timothy Dalton!). I went into this season expecting the program to limp to the finish line.

Instead the makers of Chuck turned in a lively season that had all the goofy magic, big action and involving drama that made it great in the first place. Loved season five, and going the high risk route in the finale of doing a Jamie Summers / Bionic Woman to Sarah was brilliant. Chuck has introduced me to a lot of great music too, as the program ended to this song "Rivers And Roads" by someone called The Head And The Heart they gave one last musical gift.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


No real reason for it, this week parts of Brenda Russell's quiet storm classic "Piano In The Dark" has been on my mind. It's a nice song to be sure with a relaxed mood. I've even seen it performed live, back in the late 80s I saw Russell open for Chicago while this was still a hit. It's a chill song. Chillin!

Read wiki on Russell, I did not know she wrote "Get Here" which was a big smash for Oleta Adams.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tunnel Of Love

The other day on the treadmill this song popped up on my Ipod. I hadn't played the track in a long while, sounded great. The Boss takes the obvious metaphor of the County Fair Tunnel Of Love ride for a relationship and works it into a detailed journey of jealousy and doubt. So many great lyrics like "Fat man sitting on a little stool, takes the ticket from my hand while his eyes take a walk all over you" and that's just the start of the song!

"Tunnel Of Love" is interesting to me in a music trivia sort of way too, since I've assumed the song is written about Springsteen's first marriage to actress Julianne Phillips. The album Tunnel of Love was released while he was married and has wailing background vocals by his mistress / future second wife Patty Scialfa. In 1988 I saw Springsteen play in support of this album, it was after the tabloid pictures had broke making Springsteen / Scialfa's relationship public. Maybe because of the press my strongest mental image from the show was the two of them harmoninzing face to face at the microphone in the center of the stage (I think that was during "The River"). Their romantic chemestry was visible from where I was standing. With Scialfa singing a lot at the end of "Tunnel Of Love", it sort of makes an unintentional statement that Springsteen's tunnel of love starts with Phillips and ends with Scialfa. Or maybe I just read too much into trivial stuff.

Speaking of Julianne Phillips, the woman who I will always remember as the girl in 38 Special's "If I'd Been The One" video, I think I remember her being on a tv show in the late 80s called Sisters. It had Swoozie Kurtz in it too. Anyway, I used to like that show.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

What's A Dawes?

I was reading best albums of the year lists a month ago on one of my favorite websites Popdose and they recommended a group called Dawes. They said it would be perfect for someone who thinks good music stopped at 1972 or something to that effect. Anyway, I checked out the album...aw crap, I can't remember what the album is called. Just the same, it turned out to be just as good a disc as they said it would be. 70s styled California rock, really nice stuff. This song in particular was the one that got me hooked on the disc, "Time Spent In Los Angeles".

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Surprising Angle

Earlier last year The Strokes released their 4th album Angles, which I was kinda ho-hum about. I liked the first three albums, yet it had been so long since the previous one that I wasn't too enthused about new music from them. And the reviews I read were on the fence and the lead single "Under Cover Of Darkness" didn't sell me right away so I put off getting it. After Christmas I got Angles and have found it to be an addictive listen including that same song "Under Cover Of Darkness". I liked how The Strokes were able to mix some 80s sounds into their familiar brand of sloppy indie rock. I've had this album play on my rotation regularly for weeks now.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Saint Sammy Strikes Again

Finally got around to listening to the recent Chickenfoot disc III, it's strong rockin stuff and surprised me with the best socially conscious rock song I've heard in a long while. "Three And A Half Letters" has Sammy Hagar reading what I assume are fan letters to him explaining their inability to find work and how it's leading to rising homelessness in America. The screaming desperation in the chorus nails the point home perfectly. I like how the song rumbles while Hagar intensely reads the stories before launching into the chorus. "Three And A Half Letters" really captures a feeling there.

Tramp Stamp

So Van Halen has released their first new song since...I can't remember exactly when that Sammy Hagar took place but it was a long time ago. It is definitely their first release with Diamond Dave since 1996. Tough to listen to this track objectively given this info. My kneejerk impulse is to declare it the best thing ever with exclamation points!!!

At the same time, I'm a little cool on the new song "Tattoo". It has that big slow groove VH loved to do in the Sammy Hagar days which takes time to grow on me. The song hook ("Tattoo Tattoo" refrained in an offhand way) isn't an instant grab. But to be fair, it took time for "And The Cradle Will Rock" to grow on me and in a roundabout way "Tattoo" reminds me of that track. Great to hear EVH's solo though. Too soon to tell if I'll love this (or the new VH album) yet I am so totally psyched to hear more.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

...This is my rewrite

2012, time to start posting in the new year. I haven't posted a lot lately and I think it's because I've pretty much ran out of things to say that's new. When I'd try to post things I'd find I was writing the same stuff over and over. Like the Boss once sang "I'm so tired and bored with myself". Not to say I'm like Bruce Springsteen. On top of that, a lot of my interest has boiled down to individual songs. So I'm going to try posting just individual songs I like for whatever reason and explain what I like and so on. See if it leads anywhere.

To kick off this is Paul Simon's "Rewrite" from last year's excellent So Beautiful So What disc. It has a nice mellow vibe and an amusing "internal voice" sort of vocal. I think the song is about moving forward with an optimistic view of the future. Anyway that's my take away.