Monday, March 14, 2005

What have you been listening to, watching, reading?

Lewberry recommends DVDs: The Blind Swordman: Zatoichi and Word Wars. He also suggests you leave Halle Berry-Sharon Stone fights where they belong: in the forefront of your imagination and off of your TV.

Project Greenlight
I watched this show last season on HBO, even though it has lots of I'm-embarrassed-for-you-cringe-moments, which normally I hate. This season it's on Bravo and starts this week. I still think it's funny that Ben Affleck gets to help decide which script seems most promising and worthy of effort and money. I'm not saying they should fire him - it's his show. I'm just saying it's funny.

Tim Riley on Pete Townshend on Petra Haden singing The Who Sell Out
I don't know The Who well at all. Or Petra Haden. But this seems to have interesting people interested.

Heard Live over the Weekend
Caught 2 interesting bands over the weekend at Exit/In. VHS or Beta (kind of like if Tears for Fears and The Cure had a love-child.) was an opening act for Ambulance, who I really liked. They both seemed a bit annoyed with the Elliston Place crowd, because there was not much dancing (the former), and because a good 1/3 of the audience trickled out before the show was over (the latter). But that's what you get in this town when you don't start until after 12. Even on a Friday.

Woody Allen
I've always been a big fan, but even I have been unable to see the last film or 2 (not sure really how many I've missed). Crimes and Misdemeanors is the last brilliant one I think. But others since have been nice: Husbands and Wives, Alice, Mighty Aphrodite, Manhattan Murder Mystery. I even thought Everyone Says I Love You had some nice moments. But I can't escape the feeling in most of the last 10 or so that if I hadn't known it was his film, and wasn't trying to search for redeeming qualities, that I would have really--really--disliked them. (Here's a list of all his films)

AO Scott in the Times thinks that just the opposite is true: that we expect too much, and all the wrong things, because they are Woody Allen films:
even his most successful movies have been held up against, and have suffered in comparison to, the standard of his earlier work. Not an aesthetic standard - it is hard to deny that his skill and resourcefulness as a filmmaker have grown over the years - but one that is more invidious because it is impossible to live up to. His newer movies - 25 years' worth! - are found wanting because they don't live up to our memories of what the earlier ones meant to us.

Which was what, exactly? In the 1970's, Mr. Allen seemed to be a representative man, always a dangerous position for a popular artist. For one thing, he crystallized a distinct ethnic identity in the midst of a generational odyssey from lower-middle class provincialism to worldly success and cultural prestige - from that noisy shack under the Coney Island roller coaster in "Annie Hall" to the labyrinthine Upper East Side apartment where so many of his subsequent films were shot. But more than that, his high-strung, nebbishy, woman-crazy persona embodied a newly emergent urban male type, one prefigured in the comic strips of Jules Feiffer and the novels of Philip Roth. And Mr. Allen's particular blend of high culture and low, his autodidact's ardor for Dostoyevsky and Ingmar Bergman coupled with his roots in Borscht-belt standup, represented something new and potent on screen, a sensibility at once romantic and cynical, utterly silly and striving after some kind of intellectual seriousness.
There is also the intimation that the world he conjured up so brilliantly - of anxious, white, erudite New Yorkers falling in and out of love as they haunted revival houses, used book stores and the paths of Central Park - no longer quite exists, either as a social milieu or a cultural reference point.
Manhattan remains my favorite film of all time I think. And anyone would could write Love and Death, or Hannah and Her Sisters, should be heard just for the chance to run across the occasional poignant or hilarious (or both) line, even inside a mostly craptacular movie. All this comes up now because his newest film, Melinda and Melinda, is set for US release this weekend. I'm hopeful - and will probably see it - if for no other reason than Will Farrell.

Million Dollar Baby: A Liberal's Disappointment
Boston College law professor and friend to Article 19, Kent Greenfield, expresses his wariness about the film as a guest poster to the American Constitution Society blog here. Warning: It is a spoiler. He addresses many of the issues that have concerned me in earlier posts, but he says it way better. Meanwhile, the NYT profiles the film's screenwriter for, among other things his complex characters...

The Northeast vision of the poor South is really shockingly, cynically stupid.

More on Beatallica
Boing Boing posts on the band and its plight can be found here. I only recently actually heard the music. Mash-up is probably the wrong word for it. It's really arrangements of Beatles songs in a different style and with significant changes to the lyrics. Echoes of the Beatle versions can be heard throughout (melodies, counter melodies and background vocals). It's in a funny place between a cover and a parody. Kinda like Weird Al, but funnier in a more creative kind of way. And without the permission Weird Al gets, whether he needs it or not.

Listen to SxSW Music Online
In the comments, Doug and Stevie T recommend (and I agree!) the South by Southwest Music Festival site that lets you listen to tunes for free.

Metacritics on New Music
Highest reviews of new and recent music releases on Metacritics:
1. Antony and the Johnsons--"I am a Bird Now" (87/100)
2. LCD Soundsystem--"LCD Soundsystem" (87/100)
3. Roots Manuva--"Awfully Deep" (86/100)
4. Bright Eyes--"I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning" (84/100)
5. Buck 65--"This Right Here is Buck 65" (84/100)

Weekend Box Office
1. Robots
2. Pacifier
3. Be Cool
4. Hostage
5. Hitch

Haven't seen any of the top 5--and no plans to. You?

Arrangements of Beatles classics in the style of Metallica. With some lyrics changed to indicate Metallica influence. Sadly, Beatallica is under a cease and desist order (thanks, Sony) to keep them from distributing the music online. It's great fun, though. "And justice for all my loving..."; "Sgt. Hetfield's Motorbreath Pub Band.."

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