Sunday, July 12, 2009
His name is Blake and he is biking across the US to raise money for an AIDS orphanage in Honduras.
Check out the great photos and live diary of the journey right here. Apparently he's really into showering. I guess the road is dirty.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
The plot is pretty simple – humanity’s future
Beyond that, Connor himself is not really someone who screams savior of humanity. He’s not even the lead in the film but a strong supporting character the people look at in awe… but the film never really gives a reason why. The character doesn't actually do anything. The actors aren’t even at fault here – again it’s just the cold, robotic script that hurts what is otherwise a visually compelling film.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Take Up (please!... sorry) – the industry trades of record (Variety and The Hollywood Reporter) each gave the film a score of 100… 100! Really? So this is an immaculately conceived and flawlessly delivered piece if work that will herald the sweeping of the world in joys unity like a 70’s Haskell Wexler ad? Seriously how much sway do these folk’s have?
Anyway, no this film will not teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. Though it fits the Pixar formula nicely - two odd couple type characters learning that they need each other despite initial reluctance on the part of one or both of them. Toss in a goofy sidekick or 3 for comic relief and you got yourself yet another Pixar flick.
The opening act is actually pretty interesting. We start off with newsreel footage and a young boy taking in his hero – Charles Muntz, a world renowned adventurer at a local theater. On his way home he (the silent type) meets a girl (very much NOT the silent type) who is equally enthralled with Mr. Muntz. They play in a broken-down house for a bit and realize that they are both determined to follow their hero on a great adventure in
The emotional build-up of the first act echos thru the film but I never felt as though it was done all that successfully. Carl (the old man) talks to a picture of his wife that sits in this house (furnished with love) and eventually the house comes to symbolize the spirit of the wife but its never totally sold to the audience and its brought back every so often in a clumsy way that screams “EMOTIONAL MOMENT!.” Much like Ratatouille, partially realized ideas on theme hold the film back from true enjoyment.
The adventure itself is filled with slapstick that is often funny but sometimes very predictable – to the 8 year old who called out the upcoming sight gag for all to hear, you are awesome. There are also some nice allusions to other films including Star Wars that will work for the parents. On the technical side I thought they were a bit lazier in how they used light in this compared to their last beautiful flick. The shadows move around the characters very nicely but the colors of the source and its reflection are strangely off at times. Also the whole picture didn’t spring to life nearly as well as their last couple of films, everything felt quite flat. That cannot be said though of the fine vocal performances nor of Michael Giacchino's strong but simple scoring. Over all I wasn’t wowed by this nearly as much as Wall-E, which is a shame because there is a core here that could have been really great.
Oh and I did not see the 3D version of this – maybe that will pack more of a visual punch than this one did.
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
With his first feature film (500) Days of Summer, Marc Webb quickly launches himself into the New Quirk cannon. Stirring indie rock soundtrack? Check. Brief flirtations with animation? Check. Intertitles as storytelling device? Check. Humor that is both wry and charming? Check. Idiosyncratic characters including a young person way too wise for her age? Check. Show stopping dance sequence from outta left field? Check. Its all here and it makes for yet another essential post-millennial quirky boy meets girl yarn.
We are introduced (via ironic baritone voice over) to our leads and their specific philosophies on love at the outset and thru the next hour and a half the film jumps back and forth through the titular 500 days of their relationship, or rather through Tom’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) lengthy obsession over The One called Summer (Zooey Daschanel). He’s shy and insecure, she is strange and guarded but they are both caring people who feel for each other… but not always to the same degree. They meet on her first day working at a greeting card company and finally consummate the relationship a couple weeks later... leading to the aforementioned dance sequence which is a riot. From there they have ups and downs but the story mostly stays true to a traditional 3 act story arc.
I do not use the term Quirk disparagingly but rather as a genre that includes specific tropes and identifiers like any other. Webb would seem destined for this style of film given his 12+ year background in music video direction for the likes of Miley Cyrus, Maroon 5, My Chemical Romance & Matisyahu… and that’s just the Ms! He sets so much of the action in this film to music and the film has a certain rhythm that pulls the viewer into its world. Its IKEA furnished, art musing, Joy Division t-shirt wearing world. Writers Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber give us in their script a film about a relationship that hits so many perfect notes even before Webb gets his hands on them though. From the opening dedication you get the sense that this is a very personal story for them (a girl is named… then disparaged) and it’s these personal connections that make for wonderful characters with all the minor hang-ups that make you fall for them instantly. And when the characters are brought to life from two perfectly cast actors like Joseph Gordon-Levitt (with boyish good looks and a tendency to brood) and Zooey Daschanel (aloof but with eyes to get lost in) it all makes for a sublime viewing experience if you’re into the Quirk. And why wouldn’t you be? Does life not hum along to its own soundtrack? Is Swedish furniture not the shiz? Don’t we all just want to live in Annie Hall?
Monday, January 19, 2009
Top 50 Albums of the Year
50. Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer
49. Fleet Foxes - S/T
48. Cold War Kids - Loyalty to Loyalty
47. Oasis - Dig Out Your Soul
46. The Ting Tings - We Started Nothing
45. R.E.M. - Accelerate
44. The Verve - Forth
43. Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs
42. The Killers - Day & Age
41. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
40. V/A - A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All
39. Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip - Angels
38. DeVotchka - A Mad & Faithfull Telling
37. The Roots - Rising Down
36. Flight of the Conchords - S/T
35. Islands - Arm's Way
34. Amadou & Mariam - Welcome to Mali
33. The Mars Volta - The Bedlam In Goliath
32. Hot Chip - Made In the Dark
31. Beck - Modern Guilt
30. Okkervil River - The Stand Ins
29. V/A - Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog
28. School of Seven Bells - Alpinisms
27. British Sea Power - Do You Like Rock Music?
26. Sigur Rós - Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust
25. Coldplay - Viva La Vida
24. The Streets - Everything Is Borrowed
23. The Music - Strength In Numbers
22. Kings of Leon - Only By the Night
21. Girl Talk - Feed the Animals
20. Kanye West - 808s & Heartbreak
19. Santogold - S/T
18. Man Man - Rabbit Habbits
17. TV On the Radio - Dear Science
16. The Raveonettes - Lust Lust Lust
15. Pale Young Gentlemen - Black Forest (Tra La La)
14. Portishead - Third
13. Q-Tip - The Renaissance
t11. Glasvegas - S/T
t11. Frightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ Fight
10. Hercules and Love Affair - S/T
9. Raphael Saadiq - The Way I See It
8. The Republic Tigers - Keep Color
7. Bloc Party - Intimacy
6. Gnarls Barkley - The Odd Couple
5. M83 - Saturday=Youth
4. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
3. Conor Oberst - S/T
2. MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
1. Vampire Weekend - S/T