Monday, August 29, 2005

What have you been watching, listening to and reading?

Lewberry recommends the documentary Gunner Palace, now on DVD. It's on my list to see.
SteveP is reading, and fuming, about Iraq.
Stevie T recommends Internet radio station, and seconds StevenP's recommendation of the podcast 2 Media Mondays ago.

"Utopian Hippie Outpost"
NYTimes Link
Started by Ryan Schreiber in his parents' house in suburban Minneapolis in 1995, Pitchfork ( has emerged as one of the more important indie music tastemakers in any medium, with 125,000 unique visitors a day and only three full-time employees. Bands like Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene and Modest Mouse have all received digital love from Pitchfork and soon after have sold hundreds of thousands of records. Web-based record retailers like Insound report big spikes in sales every time Pitchfork fires up a bandwagon. (Last month, the site curated the much-acclaimed Intonation Music Festival in Chicago.)

And perhaps not coincidentally, Pitchfork is home to the kind of full-on rant-think piece-takedown that was once the specialty of long-and-strong journalism legends like Greil Marcus and Lester Bangs. If someone were going to make "Almost Famous" for the current age, the young journalist on the rise would probably be filing hourly to a Web site his mom never heard of.
The Greatest Living American Playwright?
Lindsay Posner says it's David Mamet. Sadly, Mamet may be losing some primary competition soon--Pittsburgh resident August Wilson is stricken with liver cancer.

Kanye West
5 stars from Rolling Stone for his new album. That doesn't mean what it used to mean, but it's still a rarity. Jon Brion (who produced the lost Fiona Apple album the studio rejected, and produced Rufus Wainright's great self-titled album which he nonetheless hates, and composed the fabulous music for Eternal Sunshine) produced it.

Weekend Box Office
1. The 40-year-old Virgin
2. The Brothers Grimm
3. Red Eyes
4. Four Brothers
5. The Cave

Anyone see the Brothers Grimm? A new Terry Gilliam movie should be cause for excitement. Why does this one make me nervous? Because it took forever to come out? I hope it's good--but I'm staying away until I hear something good.

Shocker: Gory Nude-fest found Wanting
Reviewing the new HBO series "Rome" for, Dana Stevens notes:
At least in terms of sheer volume of nude scenes per hour, Rome is the dirtiest series I've seen yet on HBO.
I know - how can this possibly go wrong? Apparently it finds a way. I guess trying to do for ancient rome what "Deadwood" has done for the wild west just isn't the formula winner HBO thought it would be.

Article 19 Film Recommendation: Broken Flowers
*************** (15 out of 19)
Jim Jarmush's newest film, with Bill Murray, allows you to use your imagination to fill in the true subject: a certain state of mind, and stage of life. Disguised as a detective story of sorts, the real investigation is the one you as a viewer conduct on the main character, in a film where dialogue is sparse. What is he thinking? What was their relationship like? What is she remembering about him? Jarmusch sketches the vague outline of shadows and invites you to suppose the structures that would cast them, all the while spinning a mystery. Be prepared for a quiet film, more like "Dead Man" than (like you may have heard) Lost in Translation, and you will like Broken Flowers as much as I did.

NPR's Fresh Air interview with Jarmusch about the film is here.

By the way, favorite Jarmusch films:
1. Mystery Train
2. Stranger than Paradise
3. Night on Earth
4. Down by Law
5. Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai"

Article 19 Film Recommendation: The Aristocrats
I really can't give this one a number of stars. It's too much not-quite a film experience. I can only seem to echo what others have said. There are moments when I laughed very (very) hard. But you have to be prepared for a certain mood--I wasn't at first. I can only describe it like this: remember when you and your friends tried to out-gross and out-shock each other, like in junior high? with, i don't know, jokes about bloody clown suits? (or like the poetry of JM Stinson?) What this film confesses is that comics and entertainers have this underground running competition of sorts along those lines. Remember that SNL skit with Billy Crystal as the construction worker describing those "I hate when I do that" disgusting injuries? The Aristocrats aims for the same funny bone, but much much lower down.

In some ways, the film didn't live up to the hype, but that's probably the fault of the hype I think. The bottom line is that if you don't think that kind of humor is funny, with comedians trying to describe the things you would never do, say, or even really think about as if they did them daily (and that's the joke), then you may be like one of the 12-15 people or so that walked out of the theater when I saw it.

For me, some moments were incredibly funny: Bob Saget (who clearly participates in this competition often), the South Park kids, Kevin Pollack doing Christopher Walken come to mind.

The Weather Channel
That's where my head has been the last 24 hours or so. Maybe it's just me, but I don't see the attraction of the on-the-scene, rained-on reporters. How about we keep the satellite radar up to date to get some kind of global sense of what's happening, how bad it is, and where it's headed. The damage, or lack of, at one reporter's location really tells us nothing. If you want to do some hurricane reporting, talk to observers around the area who know what signs they're looking for (water levels, wind speed and then report on that like the news that it is. "The wind is blowing rain into Anderson Cooper's eyes" really isn't news, is it?

At any rate, the major New Orleans story seems to still be mostly unknown: whether the levees were completely overcome. Reports have water coming over in points, and some pump failure, hopefully not total. How many homes are damaged and lives lost remains to be seen.

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