Friday, August 28, 2009

Film Review - Big Fan

Image courtesy of First Independent Pictures

As a lifelong Philadelphia Eagles fan, I have to admit, it's hard to objectively look at a story on a New York Giants die-hard. But Robert Siegel's Big Fan is great no matter who you root for -- and actually, I think it's the Eagles fans that'll have the most fun with this.

Regardless, here's my review from Enjoy!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Black Crowes Let The Fans Rule

Photo courtesy of Matthew Mendenhall

It seems I go through stages with this blog, but as my writing pace picks up this month, I plan to start posting more regularly. Here's a recent interview I did with The Black Crowes' drummer, Steve Gorman. The Crowes have been through some ups and downs over the years, but always seem to put out solid music. With the addition of Luther Dickinson a few years back, they've got to be a formidable live act, though I've never personally seen them.

The band has a new record (actually, two of them) coming out on Sept. 1, and the first single, "I Ain't Hiding," (download it here) isn't what you'd expect from the typically Southern-rockers. It's sort of disco, which is actually a good thing. Wait for the applause at the end of the song — the band recorded the entire record, Before the Frost, in front of a live audience at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, NY. It creates a looser vibe, yet the song shows no signs of sloppyness.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Film Preview - Avatar

Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Avatar preview day was, if nothing else, pretty damn interesting. Check out my full report over at

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Film Review - Inglourious Basterds

Image courtesy of The Weinstein Co./Band Apart

Gotta say, I'm sort of shocked that I'm in the minority of opinion among critics (so far) in that I really didn't enjoy Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. Sure, it's got some train wreck appeal and may be the most interesting disaster I've seen on the big screen in ... well, maybe ever.

Not that it's completely without redeeming qualities, but - ah, hell, just read my full Inglourious Basterds review over at

Film Review - Cold Souls

Image courtesy of The Samuel Goldwyn Co.

Yeah, yeah, yeah - there are quite a few similarities between Sophia Barthes's Cold Souls (her feature debut) and the works of Charlie Kaufman. And she doesn't quite have the emotional kick to match her intellectualism, but as far as clever exercises go, Cold Souls is pretty damn enjoyable.

For my full review of Cold Souls over at, please click here.

Enjoy and look out for a review of Inglourious Basterds.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

DVD Review - Julia

Image courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

Julia is exactly the sort of indie film that is destined to get lost in the theatrical shuffle -- small, character-based, impeccably crafted. I don't even recall seeing this in theaters around Philadelphia/South Jersey, though it may have had a short run that I missed while blinking.

What a shame.

I was extremely pleased to be able to catch the film on DVD, so, without any further ado, here is the link for my Julia DVD review over at Enjoy!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Taken By Trees Mini-Doc

For those who aren't familiar with Taken By Trees, it's the current moniker that singer Victoria Bergsman is flying under. Now, for those who aren't familiar with Bergsman, she's the lead vocalist on Peter Bjorn and John's hit single, "Young Folks" and was formerly a member of the band The Concretes (you may recognize their song "You Can't Hurry Love" from a great number of Target commercials).

To record the latest Taken By Trees album, East of Eden (out Sept. 8), Bergsman went to Pakistan to record the album. National Geographic put together the accompanying mini-documentary above, and for anyone interest in Taken By Trees or just world music in general, it's definitely worth a peek.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Film Review - Ponyo

Image courtesy of Disney-Pixar/Studio Ghibli

Being that Ponyo is a Miyazaki film, I went into this one expecting to be blown away. And I wasn't, which isn't to say Ponyo is bad, but just not one of Miyazaki's best.

Check out my full review over at and, as always, thanks for making the pit stop at Music|Movies|Misery.

I will say this -- if you've got younger kids, this is one flick they'll probably eat up. Personally, I think you're better off renting them My Neighbor Totoro, but if you're dead set on taking the young'ins to the the movies, there's nothing for adults to gag on in Ponyo.

Still smarter than your average G-rated movie and beautifully animated.

Film Review - District 9

Image courtesy of TriStar Pictures

And the best film I've seen so far this year goes to ... District 9. No disrespect to the likes of Julia (DVD review to come soon), Two Lovers or The Hurt Locker, but there's something about a great sci-fi flick that just totally does it for me.

Head over to for my review.
And, if you're into the R-rated sci-fi thing even just a little bit, go see this film. It's clever and has more heart than almost anything else I've seen this year that didn't have aliens it.

Yes, films with aliens in it can be gory, thrilling AND have heart.

Friday, August 7, 2009

MMM Remembers John Hughes

Image courtesy of Universal Pictures

Anytime a 59-year-old man dies, it's a tragedy. And so first and foremost, on that basic human level, I was very saddened to hear of John Hughes's death yesterday. But beyond that, as a film fan, a writer, a journalist (more or less), I've been trying to weigh out what exactly Hughes meant to me as an artist.

There a plenty of people who have expressed their unequivocal love for Hughes's oeuvre as a writer and director (I defer to Drew McWeeny at Hitfix and Massawyrm at AICN), especially those that fall into what can only be described as "A John Hughes film", not only to denote his involvement as a director, writer or producer, but to suggest a tone and setting.

Shermer, Illinois and the pubescent turmoil of high school. The films teeter between adolescent wish-fulfillment (Weird Science, Ferris Bueller's Day Off) and the slightly more melodramatic tales of misunderstood teenagers (the "trilogy", Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Pretty In Pink).

I can't claim to hands down, absolutely adore any one of these films. I'm not sure I completely agree with the numerous assertions that Hughes completely nailed what it is to be a teenager, because let's face it - the aforementioned films are of there time, and therefore, give a tidier reconstruction of adolescence.

Yet, at the same time, there's no denying that these films have affected me - as a writer, a consumer of film and probably as a teenager to some degree. Because all these Hughes films were basically required viewing by the time you were 12-years-old, they inevitably impacted my generation's expectations (for better or worse) of those high school years.

If I'm not falling over in praise for Hughes's work, I'm not condemning it either. In the evolution of the American teen film mythos -- something I've tried to work out for term papers and in my own writing -- Hughes is an essential piece in the puzzle.

Never mind that his films stand above any of the garbage that gets filed under teen film today, or that he was outdone in his own time by Fast Times at Ridgemont High, a film that gives a more realistic, R-rated portrayal of high school (because life, as Judd Apatow once asserted, is R-rated). A "John Hughes film" has become nearly synonymous with those formative years (and also, the 1980s in whole), and whether we agree with it or not, these movies are a part of our cultural language.

Just listen to M83. Or watch Dazed and Confused or Adventureland. Hughes film made his mark. And given everything I've said about not being the biggest fan of any one of his movies, it's rare I'll turn off any one of them when flipping channels.

Blame it on nostalgia for youth or something like that.

The Green Hornet finds its Kato

Image courtesy of

Well, after the Stephen Chow fall out and the ensuing search, Michel Gondry/Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg's The Green Hornet has its Kato to Rogen's Green Hornet. There's probably not too many Americans familiar with Taiwanese star (music and film) Jay Chou, but Wikipedia has quite a bit on the guy if you're so inclined to read more.

In a press release from Columbia-TriStar, Michel Gondry said, Jay is incredibly unique and charming and fights like a wild dog! When I filmed him next to Seth they had such great chemistry, and I knew the movie will be great."

Chou had this to say:

“It’s an overwhelming experience to take on a role made famous by Bruce Lee. I won’t try to be Bruce Lee’s Kato – I will try to bring my own interpretation to the part. Of course, it’s a dream role, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Interested to see how this flick shapes up. I'm not 100 percent convinced that I can buy Rogen as a superhero, even one that will presumably have a humorous bent to him. But I've enjoyed Rogen/Goldberg's script work on Superbad and Pineapple Express for the most part, and am a shameless dupe for Gondry when he's in fighting form.

Gondry's last feature, Be Kind Rewind, was a Gawd-awful mess, but his most recent film work, the opening segment of Tokyo!, Interior Design, was phenomenal. (To check out my DVD review of Tokyo!, click here.)

His name definitely came as a shock when it was announced as The Green Hornet's replacement for Chow (who was originally slated as director and actor), but it was a pleasurable shock, to be sure.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

R.I.P. Budd Schulberg

Image courtesy of WGA West

To be perfectly honest, my gut reaction to hearing that Budd Schulberg died was, "Wow. Budd Schulberg was still alive?" The guy lived a full life -- he was 95 -- during which he wrote two great screenplays, On The Waterfront and A Face In The Crowd. Our condolences go out to his wife and family.

For MMM's look at A Face In The Crowd, click here.

For a more extensive Schulberg obituary, we defer to The New York Times.

Finally! The Lovely Bones trailer hits!

Image courtesy of DreamWorks pictures via

Fans of Alice Sebold's incredibly compelling novel The Lovely Bones and Peter Jackson's filmography (minus the wholly unnecessary King Kong) ... join hands and rejoice.

Jackson's big screen adaptation of The Lovely Bones finally has a trailer. Click here to watch it courtesy of Quicktime.

I was intrigued when Jackson was first announced as the director, but once I finally saw the Kiwi director's Heavenly Creatures, I was 100 percent convinced that he was the right man for the job.

To my eyes - everything looks right, although Susie's sister, Lindsey may have been rewritten as an older sister. There's a six-year-plus difference between Saoirse Ronan (Susie) and Rose McIver (Lindsey), so I don't think anyone is buying McIver as Ronan's younger sister.

Especially if the film condenses the book's time line (which it probably does since the same, 21-year-old actress plays Lindsey throughout the film, lest have its facts wrong ...) this seems to make sense. If anything, this goes to show just how wrong Ryan Gosling would have been for the part of Jack Salmon -- not that he doesn't have the chops, but the age just doesn't work on any end of the equation (Rachel Weisz, as Abigail Salmon, is seven years Gosling's elder, so do the math in respect to the McIver and ... it doesn't work out).

More importantly than the minutiae of age changes and whatnot - the visuals look great. If Che hadn't already sold me on the HD Red camera, this trailer certainly would have. The colors are stunning, especially in Jackson's interpretation of Susie's heaven, and it looks like they've captured the 1970s period without tossing in that faux grainy look that too many 70s-set pics tend to use.

This one is WAY up on my list of anticipated flicks before the end of the year. Hopefully, Jackson and Co. just knock this one right out of the park. Let's see Marky Mark get another Oscar nod.

Radiohead Has a New Song: "Harry Patch (In Memory Of)"

(Photo courtesy the BBC.)

Stop the (metaphorical) presses — there's a new Radiohead song this morning. "Harry Patch (In Memory Of)" is a tribute the namesake, the last surviving British World War 1 veteran, who died recently at age 111.

Thom Yorke — who's been all about new music lately, see: his Mark Mulchay cover, "All For the Best," and "The Present Tense," which he premiered during a surprise set at last month's Latitude festival — was inspired to write the song after hearing a radio interview with Patch. Yorke took to deadairspace and wrote:

Recently the last remaining UK veteran of the 1st world war Harry Patch died at the age of 111. I had heard a very emotional interview with him a few years ago on the Today program on Radio4. The way he talked about war had a profound effect on me. It became the inspiration for a song that we happened to record a few weeks before his death. It was done live in an abbey. The strings were arranged by Jonny. I very much hope the song does justice to his memory as the last survivor.

Fittingly, "Harry Patch" is a somber tune, with a lush Jonny Greenwood string arrangement, and Yorke's desperate vocals. Take a listen here:

Then, go purchase the song at for £1. It's for a good cause, as all proceeds benefit the British Legion.

With all this new material from Yorke, does this mean a new Radiohead album could be closer than we expect? We're not sure, but remember, we had no idea In Rainbows was coming out. Then, on Oct. 1, Radiohead made a surprise announcement — 10 days later, it was on our hard drives.