Monday, May 16, 2005

What have you been listening to, reading, watching?

Doug recommends the Gang of Four reissue: Entertainment!

New Yorker Music Review
Sasha Frere-Jones doesn't care for Bruce Springsteen's new release (neither does Tim Riley). I'm still waiting for my copy from one of those shady Amazon partners.

When Mr. Cordle discovered that he was no longer anonymous, he says, it felt like "a punch in the stomach." He was sitting on the couch, feet propped up, working on his laptop. While visiting a poetry-related blog, he noticed something strange: his name, address, and home telephone number. He checked another site and there they were again. "The cat is out of the bag," one blog declared triumphantly.

Ms. Halme happened to be in the room at the time. Mr. Cordle thought briefly about keeping it from her, then realized that would be impossible. When he told her, he started crying. Then she started crying.
Discover the "Michael Moore of poetry", and his no-longer-anonymous website.

MP3 Blogs
Not enough music on the Net you say? Check out this post at the Tofu Hut. Scroll down and marvel at the list, organized by type.

Cannes Festival Buzzes About Woody
I will probably fall for this again and again. Every year about this time, a European audience goes aflutter for Woody Allen's newest film, and a critic or two get caught up in the frenzy to declare it his "best work in decades." But this time, they sound like they really really mean it. Well, maybe. The real question is, how fast can the man make movies? I thought he was only working at the already-quick pace of one a year, but he released Melinda and Melinda in the US a few months ago(it was good/better than recent, but not great), and I assume he won't wait until 2006 sitting on "Match Point," which stars the lovely and talented Scarlet Johansson.

Book Query
I'm interested in Everything Bad is Good For You, a book recently profiled in BoingBoing, though I'm doubtful it will thoroughly convince me.
The thesis of Everything Bad is Good for You is this: people who deride popular culture do so because so much of popcult's subject matter is banal or offensive. But the beneficial elements of videogames and TV arise not from their subject matter, but from their format, which require that players and viewers winkle out complex storylines and puzzles, getting a "cognitive workout" that teaches the same kind of skills that math problems and chess games impart.
Anyone know anything about it? Or the author?

Video Releases
3 acclaimed films from 2004 are released on video this week: Kinsey, The Sea Inside, and Tarnation. I haven't seen any of them, but looking forward to it.

Fearless Freaks

A documentary about The Flaming Lips is released today on DVD. Sounds like a long time in the making. If you're in Nashville, The Basement is offering a free screening at 8, with a Flaming Lips cover band along for the ride.

Article 19 Film Recommendation: Crash
************** (14 out of 19)
Interesting and watchable, touching and crushing. I don't want to ruin any of it, but it's worth seeing. But be warned, you'll feel like you've been beaten up by the time it's over. Weaves stories in a way reminiscent of Magnolia, but doesn't try to dive so far beneath the surface as that one did.

Article 19 Film Recommendation: Old Boy
**************** (16 out of 19)
A really good, fascinating film, and not like anything we're ever able to see in American cinema. From what little I had read I expected a gory blood-fest but it's really not like that, though there are definitely a few excruciating scenes, and as Roger Ebert wrote in his rave (does he ever dislike movies anymore?) an "octopus was definitely harmed in the making of this film". This is no martial arts fight romp, more of a psychological puzzler themed around vengeance. I had read that it's a Korean "Kill Bill," but the fighting here is really secondary (at best), and while they are beautifully shot, the few fighting scenes are notable more for their pathos than as the thrilling choreography we've grown to know through Kill Bill, Crouching Tiger, and others.

There are still some things I don't really understand and you must work through the first 30 minutes or so just to get to a point where you grasp the thrust of the narrative. The good news for viewers is that it does, eventually, come, and that it is worth it. The revelations peel away with purpose, and even the twists that are foreseeable remain powerful.

UPDATE: An answer to the question about whether Ebert still dislikes any films: yes.
Watching "Monster-in-Law," I tried to transfer into Fan Mode, enjoying their presence while ignoring the movie. I did not succeed. My reveries were interrupted by bulletins from my conscious mind, which hated the movie.
Weekend Box Office
1. Monster-in-law
2. Kicking and Screaming
3. Unleashed
4. Kingdom of Heaven
5. Crash

Hitchhiker's Guide has to be considered a box office flop, with only $43 million made on a $50 million movie. And it's sure to be droppign like a rock with Star Wars hitting later this week. Highest non-fiction? Enron: Smartest Guys in the Room, coming in at #16.

Anyone see Palindromes? After Happiness, which kind of made me want to squeeze my head (and maybe everyone else's) in a vice, I swore I'd never see another Todd Solondz film, but I'm tempted. I need to be talked either in or out of it by someone who's seen it.

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