Some movie, music and television reviews for your consideration.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall: I’ve mentioned this one before, but must reiterate how funny this movie was. It also pointed out (to me, anyway) the difference between an adult comedy and one that just goes for cheap laughs (see below). There is a lot of sex, sex talk, and nudity, but it’s portrayed in an adult manner and never offensive. Quite a few laugh out loud moments including Paul Rudd as a surfing instructor, the over sexed British rocker, the newlyweds, and assorted resort workers make this highly entertaining. Bonus points for casting Mila Kunis, who has leapfrogged up my babe list a bit because of this movie.
You Don’t Mess With the Zohan: My bet is this movie would never have been made if Adam Sandler wasn’t associated with it. While this started out promising in a ‘Naked Gun’ kind of way (his infiltration of the terrorist hideout was the best part of the movie), it quickly bogged down with Zohan pursuing his dream of cutting hair and sexually assaulting old women. Very elderly women. Apparently all grandmothers want is to get screwed by middle eastern men with cultural references from 1984. I laughed exactly three times during this movie and one of those involved Chris Rock, who was in the movie for about 2 minutes.
I want to point something else out: This is the second Sandler movie in a row, where his character has been a chick magnet. Remember ‘I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry’? It also looks like Sandler has been getting in shape (he’s no longer the doughy, slacker, every man) which makes me concerned he’s heading into Joe Piscopo territory. Remember when Piscopo was funny, then discovered the gym and got in shape and became terribly unfunny? Let’s hope this is not where Sandler is heading.
Baby Mama: Tina Fey is quickly cementing herself as the Queen of Comedy. She’s smart, funny, relevant and sexy in a nerdy kind of way. Here she plays a career woman who learns she can’t have children (‘I don’t like your womb at all’). She decides to hire a surrogate mother (Amy Poehler) and hilarity ensues. Actually, that’s true. This is a funny movie with Poehler getting most of the laughs as the white trash, con artist in over her head. Steve Martin shows up as Fey’s boss, too, and it turns out he’s still funny. Who knew?
Speed Racer: Man alive this movie is a friggin’ mess. Pity, too, as the race scenes are spectacular. Unfortunately, the racing isn’t enough as they tend to flashback to Speed’s childhood, tell us about the death of this brother, how his father quit building race cars and how Speed and Trixie met and stayed together. And that’s just the first 15 minutes!! Once things get somewhat settled the overly complicated plot kicks in regarding fixed races, stock prices (???) and bizarre cheating techniques. For crying out loud, this is Speed Racer. We don’t need a reason for him to race other than to beat the bad guys. The filmmakers needed a refresher course in KISS: Keep it simple, stupid!
Fringe: No sooner had I expressed my displeasure at this show, when it hit the very next episode out of the park. The introduction of The Observer and an unexplained (so far) series of events got me hooked for a while. Some bizarre object emerges from the ground, is examined by the Fringe team, then disappears back into the ground with zero explanation. That this pale, bald, taste impaired Observer has been very much a part of all these strange events (going back decades, it seems) gave it a creepy, alien, ‘X-Files’ vibe that I always enjoy.
Life On Mars: Heard some good things about this so I DVRed it. So far I like it, but it remains to be seen how far this premise can be pushed before things start to fall apart. If you’re not aware, a cop in the year 2008 gets creamed by a car and wakes up in 1973 or around that time. However, he’s still a cop in the same precinct. While he’s trying to figure out what’s going on, he decides to work with the cops of that time in solving cases. They all think he’s a lunatic, of course, with his wussy 2008 cop ways and female equality and Miranda rights and warrants and such. Harvey Keitel and Michael Imperioli are perfectly cast, but I hope the old school ways start rubbing off on the future cop rather then the other way around. Think it would be more interesting and entertaining to see the main character enjoys his new found freedom as a detective.
What’s truly bizarre and a bit creepy about this show are the hints of the real world seeping in. He’s apparently in a coma in 2008 as revealed at one point while he’s watching television (no cable!) and a doctor is describing his medical condition. He pounds on the screen screaming that he’s still alive and wants to wake up. There are moments like this throughout the show – hearing his girlfriend talking to him over the car radio, seeing the present day police station reflected in a window, remote controlled robots scurrying then disappearing in the prison cells. There’s a touch of the surreal, too, as he wakes up from his accident to find the World Trade Center towering over him.
The Hold Steady – Stay Positive: Finally! While I’ve been a fan of The Hold Steady from the beginning, their prior releases have been prevented from being great by their unnecessary belief they needed slow ballads included to break up the pace. Unfortunately, their slow songs suck for the most part. Songs like ‘Citrus’ or ‘First Night’ from their last release just bogged down the otherwise foot stomping proceedings. Not so with ‘Stay Positive’ which rips open with ‘Constructive Summer’ and barely slows. There are changes in pace (‘One For The Cutters’, ‘Both Crosses’), they stick more to the strengths of the band then ever before.
This isn’t just the best CD they’ve released, this is one of the best CDs of the year. Behold a rock band combining it’s ambitious song writing, emerging confidence, and musicianship that is complex and challenging.
Favorite songs: Joke About Jamaica, Sequestered in Memphis, Slapped Actress
Kings of Leon – Only By The Night: Another band hitting it’s peak. Kings of Leon should be a lesson to all new bands on how to improve without sacrificing the basics of their sound. I’ve been a fan since ‘Youth and Young Manhood’, but lost touch with their last release. My loss, apparently, as this is far and away their best yet. (NOTE: I don’t have their third CD which someone informed me is better than this one). A testament to a great CD is my inability to stop listening to it. ‘Closer’, ‘Sex on Fire’ (which may be the best song of the year), ‘Notion’, ‘Crawl’, ‘Cold Desert’, ‘I Want You’ not only show off the Kings expanded song writing ability, but the improved lead vocals.
Sidenote: Why is it male singers get better with age, while most female singers hit their peaks in their mid 20s? Geddy Lee, Robert Plant, Steven Tyler, Mick Jagger, Sting, and a number I’m forgetting sound better as they age. Is it that they just finally learn to sing while early in their careers they were inexperienced and tended towards screeching and yelling? Or do men’s voices improve with age?
Glasvegas: Debut cd from a Scottish band that reminds me of an old Boston band from my college days – The Sheila Divine. Grand, ambitious, arena rock that is catchy as hell. Not great (although it’s growing on me the more I listen to it), but it’s good enough that I’m paying attention to what they do next.
Favorite songs: Geraldine, Polmont On My Mind, Lonesome Swan
Songs to skip: Stabbed (just awful).
That’s it for now. Catch up to you tomorrow if I have time (I’ll do my best).
Today’s distraction: Take a stress test. There are three figures and if they are moving rapidly, it means you’re stressed out. The faster they move the more stress you are feeling. I must be mellowed out because they were barely moving for me.