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).