Archive

Archive for April, 2011
29 Apr

A Blip of a Movie Review: “Water for Elephants”

Alternative Title: “Dehydrated Pachyderm”

Short Plot: Robert Pattinson is on the verge of a beautiful life, but then it all falls through in an instant. He is homeless and penniless and ends up riding the rails and getting involved with a traveling circus run by a brutal tyrant. Of course, the tyrant has a beautiful wife and soon the hero is deeply involved with the circus and the wife. Can they follow their true love and escape the evil husband? Can someone get the elephant some damn water?

Pros: A film like this better have great sets and design (and it does), Christopher Waltz is wonderfully cast as the dark-edged circus owner, Robert Pattinson is actually pretty good, Hal Holbrook was the best part of the film, and I like the elephant.

Cons: For the first time ever Reese Witherspoon was miscast (though I still love her dearly), the characters never really gel together, this should have you crying by the end and it does not, the climactic “disaster” scene is a non-event, and all that elephant ever got to drink was lemonade and whiskey.

Verdict: The whole film was a bit sluggish and I really did not care about any of the characters. There are deaths of people and animals and yet I was not really moved by any of it. The filming was well done and I appreciated the sets and detail, but the story left me a bit cold. The best parts of the film were the segments with Hal Holbrook who is looking back on his life. You only see him at the beginning and end, which is unfortunate. Had he narrated the whole film and had they cut back to him several times (like they did with Jessica Tandy in “Fried Green Tomatoes”), it might have had more impact. Overall I was disappointed. I didn’t read the book, but from my understanding had they followed elements of the book better, it could have been a terrific film. But this result leaves me as empty as a circus tent after the show with only the horse poop to clean up.

Rating: 2 out of 5 Blips ••

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25 Apr

The Listen List

What’s spinnin’ in my ears this week:

Albums

1. “Patchwork” & “The Delta Sweete” by Bobbie Gentry (a great songwriter and highly under-appreciated artist)

2. “Hatful of Rain: The Best of Del Amitri” by Del Amitri

3. “Some Guys Have All the Luck” by Rod Stewart (a nice best-of set I got in the UK)

4. “The Best of Cilla Black” by Cilla Black

5. “Rain” by Joe Jackson

Songs

1. “The Ice Cream Man” by Lisa Hartman (yes, the TV vixen on her debut album – a deliciously awful slice of cheesy 70’s pop that is totally my style)

2. “Courtyard” by Bobbie Gentry (so quiet, so beautiful)

3. “Somebody Like Me” by Bobbie Gentry (terrific bit of blue-eyed soul)

4. “Bright Lights Bigger City” by Cee-Lo Green

5. “Look At Me Now” by Chris Brown w/Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes (out of my element here, but something about the weird sound effect and the super fast rap fascinates me)

Categories: Music, The Listen List Tags:
18 Apr

The Listen List

Each week I will compile a list of albums and songs that I have been spinning along with a spotlight video from one of the selections.

Albums

1.  “Scott,” “Scott 2,” “Scott 3,” and “Scott 4” by Scott Walker  (my Scott Walker obsession continues)

2.  “21” by Adele

3.  “Femme Fatale” by Britney Spears  (don’t judge!)

4.  “New Traditionalists” by Devo

5.  “Rickie Lee Jones” by Rickie Lee Jones

 

Songs on Repeat

1.  “The Killing of Georgie (Pts. 1-2)” by Rod Stewart (I love this song – one of Rod’s best and a reminder of how dang good he was in the heyday.)

2.  “The World’s Strongest Man” by Scott Walker

3.  “Dust and Dirt” by Aaron Latham (hey, it’s mine and I like it!)

4.  “Montague Terrace (In Blue)” by Scott Walker

5.  “Till the World Ends” by Britney Spears

Categories: Music, The Listen List Tags:
10 Apr

A Blip of a Movie Review: “The Town”

Alternative Title: “This Should Erase My Debt for Gigli”

Short Plot: A band of four Charlestown neighborhood guys are expert bank/truck robbers who work for an aging thug. When one bank job goes a little awry, they become concerned about one specific witness they had to kidnap and then set free. Ben Affleck follows her to make sure she isn’t going to spill anything to the FBI and through an odd meeting begins to get involved with her without telling her of his involvement with the robbery and her kidnapping. He then has to keep the relationship a secret from his partners in crime. He’s done with this criminal life and wants to leave and get out, but there is always another job to do and pressure to do it. Can he do a final job and get out? Will the girl find out about his secret? Will the guys find out about Ben’s relationship?

Pros: Ben Affleck is actually a good actor here but an even better director, Jeremy Renner deserved his Oscar nom for this film, it has one doozie of a chase scene – probably one of the best I’ve seen in years, the plot sounds a bit unreal and melodramatic but totally works, an action film that almost had me in tears, and the rare film where you root for one of the criminals rather than the “good” guys.

Cons: A slight quibble that the last 5 minutes feel like it was added for test screening audiences.

Verdict: Had I actually seen this last year it would have easily made my “best of” list – even a contender for the top film. I’ve never been a fan of Ben Affleck, but this changes everything. He really did a great job acting, but the real props should be saved for his directing. He reminds me of one of the middling actors who truly came to life when they directed – folks like Clint Eastwood and Robert Redford (minus the excellent films they starred in before directing, obviously). I was thoroughly engrossed by the film, even more so than I expected. As mentioned, I didn’t much care for the last few minutes of the film and there was a point they could have just stopped and ended it and it would have been brilliant. Regardless, the film overall still was terrific and I’m hoping Affleck can continue to make quality films like this.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Blips ••••

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