Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Prankster Kings Go Back to Well (Again)

Sure, I root bigtime for the Farrelly Brothers, and I also truly think that they are very funny fellows. Same goes for Ben Stiller, a comic actor of the first degree, truly the epitome of the movie comedy everyman, and a man with a persona that’s hard to dislike. All of that is to say that the new Farrelly/Stiller concoction, The Heartbreak Kid, doesn’t quite meet, or more importantly, exceed my predisposed expectations. The 1972 movie that this is based on was directed by Elaine May from a Neil Simon adaptation of a Bruce Jay Friedman short story, and it starred Charles Grodin as the title character, a me-guy who dumps a brand new bride during his honeymoon and chases another woman. It was a broad but brittle little gem with an obvious subtext about Jewish self-loathing. The Farrelly’s know from broad of course, and the typical gags abound—bodily functions, sexual provocations, and physical peculiarities, hardy-har-har. The Farrelly Boys continually position themselves as the prankster kings of fraternity row. It’s time to graduate finally, and to hone their satire into something more incisive, utilizing vulgarity as an occasional punch line instead of the prime source of humor. Their last effort, Fever Pitch, may have been a touch soft around the edges, but it allowed for some genuineness, and it seemed a step into an adventurous direction.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Ectasy (kinda, sorta)

Sweeeeeeeeeeet sweeeeeeeeep! What is there too say besides that, mark this somewhat sad and all too frightful moment, we’ve made the odd transition from a team propelled by the frayed nerves of all of dour, doom-and-gloom, puritanically suppressed New England (and under the sway of a nearly 100-year-old Curse) to a team, that’s (gulp) expected to actually win rather than just compete, a team followed by fresh-faced fans who’s sense of history circles back to the Cowboy Up Idiots of 2004; greedy, cocky, sure-of-themselves frontrunners who have no concept of Pesky holding the ball, Teddy Ballgame’s perpetual disdain, Bob Gibson’s killer glare, Tony C’s unfulfilled promise, Calvin Schraldi’s before-the-firing-squad-look, Bucky Motherfuckin’ Dent’s banjo swing, the Oil Can Film Fest, Stan Papi, Dave Stapleton looking on from the bench in horror, Wade Boggs astride a goddamned horse, Danny Cater for Sparky Lyle, Bill Lee’s ephus pitch, Grady Little’s eight inning brain freeze. Yes, we are The Champs, but something’s inexplicably changed. For some of us, it will always be “wait until next year” spoken with a dreamy mix of anticipation and dread, for the rest it’s now “wait until next year” pronounced with a Yankee-like trill and accompanied by a worrisome, all-too-happy, frighteningly blank, gleam in the eyes.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Macho Mythology (with Banjos)

When Deliverance (Deluxe Edition,Warner, $19.97, 107 minutes) first appeared in 1972 it was somewhat disparaged by the film nitcrits of the day, who found it pretentious, overreaching, and tarted up with macho posturing that was supposed to convey something deep about the psyche of the American Male and the basic survival of the fittest, a movie not up to the inspired level of director John Boorman’s similarly themed 1967 Point Blank. Yet it struck a chord with audiences, and it’s strange oil and water mix of natural born ham Burt Reynolds and method man Jon Voight still clicks today, and their backwoods odyssey (alongside the cardboard cutout characters well played by Ronny Cox and Ned Beatty), the great Vilmos Zsigmond’s awe inspiring cinematography, and the unforgettable sound of those good ole dueling banjos, make Deliverance an intriguing sample of 70’s zeitgeist. The DVD’s extras aren’t all that special: a making-of, recent interviews with the principles, and a Boorman commentary that’s recycles some familiar tales

Thursday, October 25, 2007

TV EYE--Vanilla Sitcom, Revenge of the Dorks, Alias Without Smarts

A large portion of the TV nitcrit posse has showered the new Kelsey Grammer-Patricia Heaton sitcom, Back to You, (Fox, Wednesdays, 8:00 PM) with critical bouquets, and, after sitting through the first few episodes; I’m forced to wonder exactly why? It’s an old school, workplace comedy shot in front of an audience, created by two vets Christopher Lloyd (Taxi) and Steve Levitan (Just Shoot Me) that, while never delving into inanity or obviousness, seems both pre-packaged and trite. Grammar and Heaton are nicely cast as two local news anchors (alongside the crackerjack Fred Willard as the sports reporter) and the duo deliver their back-and-forth repartee effortlessly, yet none of it really registers, seemingly more like a time warped throwaway before Heaton discovered Raymond and Grammar reigned on Frazier. The talents involved may all deserve a wait and see, and it is more than possible that Back To You may need some time to hit its stride, but at this point its pure sitcom vanilla-you’ve had it before you’ll pass it by again.

Dorks, nerds, and geeks are all over the TV fall line-up, serving as a possible antidote to the grim-faced tough guys and sad-eyed avengers holding down the fort in the CSI’s and The Shields or 24’s or any other rough and ready procedural. NBC’s Chuck (Mondays, 8:00 PM) and CW’s Reaper (Tuesdays, 9:00 PM), share enough that it’s scary, down to likable slacker heroes (Zachary Levi and Bret Harrison), fetching love interests (Yvonne Strahovsky. Missy Peregrym), and comedy relief sidekicks (Joshua Gomes, Tyler Labine), big box workplace settings (one modeled after Best Buy, the other Home Depot) and an overall goofy suspense structure. Chuck’s premise is that the title character gets zapped by a computer downloading top-secret information forcing him to become a reluctant spy while the Reaper allows its reluctant slacker hero to discover that upon his 21st birthday his coddling parents had signed his soul over to the devil, and Satan (Ray Wise, stealing every scene he’s in) wants him to become a bounty hunter for escaped souls. Both shows traffic in a steady stream of wry one-liners, cartoonish close encounters, and an arch sensibility derived right from the pages of Mad Magazine parody. In a way it’s a relief to sit down in front of an hour-long comedy adventure and simply enjoy the flakiness on display, rather then being drenched in ennui and overwrought inner drama. Chuck and Reaper are fairly charming nerd fantasies, simultaneously bright and trite.

The new Bionic Woman (NBC, Wednesdays, 9:00 PM) is not so much a remake as a total rethink, a sleek and cliché-ridden TV actioneer that substitutes the dark shadows of paranoia and conspiracy bebop for the crayon glow of the original 70’s camp classic. It’s Alias without the in-yer-face costumes (and the mighty Jennifer garner), with Brit actress Michelle Ryan pouting and glowering as Jamie Sommers, the girl with the replaceable parts, an All-American hard luck bartender who, despite her wondrous IQ hadda drop out of college, keeps house with her bratty teen sister (Mae Whitman), and dates and is impregnated by a professor/scientist/government tool guy who looks like a male model(Chris Bowers), engages in disdainful dialogue with her officious handler (Miquel Ferrer), gets some old fashioned lethal training from the Asian expert guy (Will Yun Lee), and gets guided by the Bionic Whisperer (Isaiah Washington, slumming bigtime) all the while dodging the steely stare and deadly mambo of the bionic women before her (Katee Sackhoff, bound to be an immediate fanboy fave). It’s Alias without the smarts, the Bionic Woman without the dumbo charm.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Rocky Colavito, meet Orson Welles

Who among you dared not believe in The Curse of the Colavito? That was some sad, bad, shit-a major choke job from the Tribe, although I have no problem with the end result- a World Series trip for the Sox. Gotta tip for you dear, nervous Red Sox fan and reader--come on down to Local 121 (121 Washington Street in Providence) this Wednsday the 24th at 7:00PM and temporarily assuage yer pre-game hysteria by watching my second showing in the Film Noir Series (see below)and then off to witness a victorious Game 1.

The Lady from Shanghai (1948). What happens when exceptional talent and undeniable artistry hit noir head on? This movie, a cult classic offering from writer/director/star Orson Welles, a noir outing that is overflowing with sheer filmmaking ingenuity and directorial audaciousness. Adapted from a pulp novel, Welles turns this low budget, small scale narrative into something special, utilizing his prodigious skills to elevate a genre piece into something quite complex and dreamlike, creating a film more baroque than most noir films, with a shimmering juxtaposition of locale, character, and imagery adding up to a stunningly ellipitical movie; an 86 minute ticking time bomb of fate, with Rita Hayworth (Welles’ wife at the time) incandescent as one of the most memorable femme fatales evuuuuh.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Rock and Roll Writing Hoochie Koo

When’s the last time you read any sorta rock nitcriticism that mattered? Or provoked or inspired you? Much of what passes for rock writing these days is so generic and devoid of spirit, spark and ingenuity that it might as well be on the back of a cereal box. The rock noodlin’ practiced on the pages of Spin, Rolling Stone, or Entertainment Weekly largely bleeds into every other piece, short takes and brief summations delivered in standard Journalism 101 style, stale and trite summations offered up without imagination or humor, deserving of the cursory glance that the majority of readers render any of it. Well, well, well, this week presents us with not one, but two, cool daddy exceptions. Old pal and Rhode Island Rock and Roll guru Lou Papineau briefly steps away from his editing duties to bang out a heartfelt paean to smart aleck rockers The Hold Steady in this week’s Providence Phoenix, while Sasha Frere-Jones hits one out of the park in the current issue of The New Yorker, with an examination of indie rock’s drive away from it’s once inherent connection to black musical traditions in a piece entitled “A Paler Shade of White”, two exquisite example of rock writing that lives, breathes, thinks, and matters.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Joey Bye-Bye

Don’t fault me, don’t blame me, and don’t worry about me, but I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time looking at showbiz photos, pop cult paraphernalia, movie stills, album covers, and the like. As I’ve teetered towards 50 and beyond I’ve become particularly fascinated with all things Rat Packian, and I can’t help myself from gazing deep into any group photo of the Clan, the Boys, the Hotshots, the Showbiz Devils, and losing myself, contemplating their lives, their times, their pleasures their sins, their regrets; simultaneously examining each photo like an ancient artifact, delving beyond the surface in a fervent attempt to discern what lies beyond, drawing interpretations from gesture, posture, spatial positioning, and visually perceivable interaction. Check out any random Rat Pack photo and what do you see—Frank, angular and jaunty, self-anointed royalty, a Kingpin with one fancy foot dipping into the back alleys of New Jersey. Dino, self-satisfied and smug, a glorified con man who could conjure up a pinch of his prodigious talent whenever needed for the next skin game, and a strangely empty man holding council with only himself in a self-created inner universe. Sammy, all out all the time, blazing with gumption, artistic abilities, a deep need for acceptance and approval, a black man atop a white persons world, a proverbial stranger in a strange land. Peter, a chappie with an adolescent lust for success, women and the good life, a none-too-bright overachiever with matinee looks and a dick that did his thinking, a glorified errand boy with a B-movie resume, caught between the buddy-buddy machinations of the Kennedy brethren and the showbiz blood brothers. Finally, Joey, the Bishop, the Jester, the well-heeled regular shmoe, the shorty, the sidekick, the Jewish Tonto, the guy with a quip in place of an act, the schlemiel as straight man. Yet Joey (born Joseph Gottlieb in the Bronx) managed to be way more than a certified member of the Rat Pack—he had a talk show on ABC from 1987-69, a sitcom from 1961-65, starred in nightclubs, had movie roles, guested on dozen off TV shows, made the most of whatever indeterminate talent he had. The biggest, longest, and indisputably final joke? He outlasted them all-Big Time Frankie, Inscrutable Dino, Sweet Sweet Sammy, and Sad Sack Peter. Joey went the distance, baby. RIP Joey Bishop, 1918-2007.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Prayer for the Day

Oh yea Baseball Gods, hear my plea. Please don’t allow those ridiculous home run hankie/diapers to burn their image into my eyes for all of winter. Please don’t allow the rest of America to be forced to watch a battle of the great unknowns-Colorado and Cleveland. Please heed the call whispering softly from the vaunted heights above, issued by the likes of Jimmy Fox, Joe Cronin, Ted Williams, Tony C and Joe Foy, the clarion call emanating from proud warriors such as Dom D, Bobby Doerr, and Gentlemen Jim Lonborg, the call of the wild transmuted by Bill Lee and Bernie Carbo, and the sturdy, calming, hypnotic call of the eternal and everlasting Saint Yastremski. Please, oh please, let Manny be Manny without being Manny, allow Papi to strike a few more thunderous blows, allow Schill and Dice-K to follow up Becket’s wondrous outing, permit young Dusty to roam the bases free and easy for another week or two, the Mighty Lowell to come through once again, the stolid Youlk to firm up his backbone, the ever wise Tech to call a good one and deliver in the clutch, make it possible for Julio and Coco a base theft or two by getting on base in the first place, and, most of all, to wipe of the sins of Terry and the stain of Wake so that they might both live onto another crisp, clear, no-snow-yet, fall Baseball day.(Also, Mofo-It's my Dad's 82nd today. Just think-wotta present!)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Indie Classic

Twenty plus years ago, 1984 to be exact, budding young filmmaker Jim Jarmush delivered Stranger Than Paradise (Criterion, 89 minutes, $39.95) to an unsuspecting indie-film public, and immediately carved a spot out for himself as the most effortlessly hip American director since Cassavetes with this downbeat, nonchalant exercise in laconicism, a deep American dish served up on a European platter. A story of three drifting misfits (John Lurie, Eszter Balint, and Richard Edson, the ultimate hipster doofus) that barely starts and doesn’t really end, a film made up of 67 single takes broken up by the occasional black screen, yet sublimely modulated and strangely amusing, it’s a captivating paean to nothingness, also the most ironic road movie evuh up until the director’s own 2005 Broken Flowers. As much as Jarmusch’s singular vision may be a formal construct, mere arty minimalism, his ability to draw deeply from his enigmatic and distinctly un-Hollywood characters helps breathes life into his find-me-a-pulse cinematic rhythms, and Stranger may still stand as his finest effort. The new two-disc set includes his first little-scene feature Permanent Vacation, and includes no actual commentary by the filmmaker himself, which might arguably be for the better.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Eyes of Tommy Lee Jones

From CultureVultureTime pal and trenchant observer Jimmy Celenza:

Go see Tommy lee Jones in the Haggis’s defective film, In the Valley of Elam,

It’s not so much the film but his eyes they are the eyes of those countless hard rock heart stoned workers of mills and mines and military rectitude

Who labor against the odds…

The films itself has a strong current but gets upset when it hits the rapids

Some witless implausibility about small town police and military bases

But that’s okay

When I saw it there were ten people in the theatre, and yes

It’s a hard tussle to swallow

But growing up I did know some

Who for whom the military was a way out

They would lie about a felony

Isn’t it is odd that, for many, there are things worse than war.

So jug eared, straining to embrace to the intimacy and electronics

Of a weaker congenitally privileged generation

T L J rests on a plastic chair waiting to assemble the remnants of a story

And the story is the same. Just the same.

When he cocks his head, listening to the diesel soaked

whispers of the insane and the

interminable pleas for help.

Of those stranded and wounded and lost in the undefeatable struggle to survive in a zone of human experience so extreme so ruthless so relentless,

Even in defeat his bones bending like a willow, his eyes remain beacons, perhaps not of hope but of accommodation. For we are a culture of privilege and excess,

IN the day they used to sing on patrol if I die in a combat zone, zip me up, and send me home.

But as anyone who has been in combat (and combat happens even on the streets of LA and Detroit, Bed Sty and Baltimore, Miami and Milwaukee; and sometimes even on the couch in yr living room) accommodation is the only way to remain sweetly sane and survive.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Politics + Action=Disorientation

The Kingdom is a strange conglomeration of flag-waving, things blowing up, first rank actors, political intrigue, and a stretch towards profundity. Think Rambo meets Syrannia, with the crowd-pleasing (and jingoistic) action shoulder-to-burly-shoulder against the humanism of the main characters. A debate is already underway among movie nitcrits, some convinced that actor-turned –director Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights) has purposefully shaped the movie as a fire powered adrenalin actioneer in order to subvert it with political disorientation, while others see it as pure and simple box office bloodlust. One way or the other, Berg handles the chaotic action with filmmaking gusto, and it also must be noted that amidst the heavyweight American main faces (Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Chris Cooper, Jason Bateman) and side ones (Danny Huston, Richard Jenkins, Jeremy Piven) the most riveting performance is that of Israeli actor Ashraf Barhom, as a grounded Saudi police Colonel.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It's High Noon Again

Reprinted from the October issue of Providence Monthly.

Eyes Wide Open
by Scott Duhamel

Most cineastes’ desire for the return of the western is so much more than a sugary wish to revisit the simple past, to kick it old school, to bask in the Remington-like burnished glow of unaffected times, elementary genres, and unfussy cinematic rituals. No--the western, at it’s best—is as essential an American mythology as we have, encompassing and including the age old debate concerning man-made laws and intrinsic morality and the continual pull between self-reliance and the tug of community, all the while utilizing a stage that features both the pure splendors of open land versus the muscle and sweat fueled swelled pride of towns in their infancy. James Mangold, a filmmaker on-the-rise (Heavy,Cop Land, Girl Interrupted, Walk the Line) seems to understand all this, even acknowledge it, in his newly remade 3:10 to Yuma, a 1957 western helmed by Delmer Davies, both movies as lean and austere as their shared title.
The original film, adapted from a short story by then pulp writer Elmore Leonard, featured Glenn Ford as Ben Wade, a sociopath with charm and Van Heflin as a rancher at the end of his tether, was part of a batch of 50’s western movies that smartly and subtly grafted psychological intonations onto the inherent physical actions and basic formulas of the genre. These films, of which the most popular was High Noon (1952), but include the sublime Anthony Mann-Jimmy Stewart films (The Naked Spur ’52, and The Man From Laramie ’55) and the Budd Boetticher-Randolph Scott collaborations;(Seven Men from Now ’56, Ride Lonesome ’57), were mostly compact, unglossy, dirt-strewn examinations of cowboy outsiders forced into conflict by the constrictions of the land, the law, or encroaching civility.
Mangold and his writers, Halstead Welles and Michael Brandt, have pried open the new version just a bit, although the dramatic focus remains on the tug and weave of character and ideology between the down on his luck rancher Evans (Christian Bale), who finds himself escorting (for cash) the notorious outlaw Wade (Russell Crowe), to the soon-to-arrive train of the title, which will deliver the baddie to prison. While Mangold manufactures more action in the contemporary version (the majority filmed with taut expressiveness) the gist of the film is the inner struggle and physical interaction between the two disparate men, one losing a slow battle to the unpredictability and the wildness of the west, the other self-sufficiently exploiting the wide-openness of the far country to do exactly as he sees fit. The new film’s success depends on the combustible chemistry sparked betwixt Bale and Crowe, as did the earlier one with Ford and van Heflin. In both cases the actors deliver, and deliver without telegraphing anything, particularly Crowe, sporting a beguiling manner along with a lethal dose of magnetic viciousness. (Although one has to question the fact that the central cast of the current film is filled out by an Englishman (Bale) and an Aussie (Crowe). It’s hard to believe that they weren’t more than a few American actors-Penn, Clooney, Gosling, Eckhart, Mortenson, Wahlberg, Damon, come immediately to mind- who could have filled these roles.)
Mangold ‘s version of 3:10 to Yuma also adds two new characters to the mix, one a grizzled and mean-spirited bounty hunter (Peter Fonda, ex-hippie avatar, doing his best John Wayne-gone-foul), and the rancher’s son (Logan Lerman), a 14-year-old filled with teenaged contempt towards his father’s ongoing futilities. The icing on the cake is the expansion of the role of the outlaw’s chief gunsel, Charley Prince, a slight figure in the original portrayed by a young Richard Jaeckel as a bright-eyed punk with a bantam rooster’s gait. Here, Ben Foster, virtually stealing every scene he’s in, does it up as a lethal dandy, giving us a right-hand man exalting in his own ruthlessness, and also exuding some weird sort of sexual ambiguousness, unabashedly worshipping Crowe’s smart guy killer. It’s a showy and vastly entertaining performance, made all the while more lustrous by the downplaying of Bale and Crowe.
While 3:10 to Yuma doesn’t achieve classic western status (the original was also a minor gem), and it’s extended finale strains the tenants of plausibility, it’s a fine character-driven actioneer and a skillfully enacted western, lithe and acute, a genre remake that manages to be both faithful and astute.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Drinking (and eating) at the Movies

I hope to see a few of you at my new venture, a bi-weekly Wednesday movie series at good pallie Senator Josh (The Kingpin) Miller's new joint, Local 121. The first series is all about the noir, and you know you can't go wrong with that.

Great Food & Great Film Nights
in the Speakeasy
Begin October 10th, 7 PM
We're tremendously excited to roll out our very own film festival! Join host Scott Duhamel (Providence Monthly Film Columnist, CultureVultureTime Blogspot) for our film noir nights in the Speakeasy.

Come early and enjoy dinner and a show!!
Stay late and have some dessert with your discourse!!

Kiss Me Deadly (1955) Director Robert Aldrich kicks this 1950's noir classic into total vroom-vroom overdrive in this brutally streamlined version of a Mickey Spillane/Mike Hammer book, with deadpan hunk-of-beef Ralph Meeker as the ultimated Hammer, a callous and sadistic not-so-white knight. A hipster fave for many reasons, including a picture perfect supporting cast (Albert Dekker, Cloris Leachman, Gaby Rodgers, Jack Elam, Strother Martin, Wesley Addy), an outre literarty subplot/clue, the provocative private eye meets-cold-war search for "The great whatsit", and Aldrich's richly textured but ultimately simplistic narrative-driven direction. A true one-of-kind noir offering.

see the entire schedule at

Don't forget parking is taken care of at Local 121!
You have your choice of Complimentary Valet Parking or 2 hrs Validated at Civic Center Garage

Thursday, October 4, 2007

TV EYE-Captivating Period Piece

When the chaos and hurly-burly of the 2007 television season finally dies down, Mad Men (Thursdays, 10:00 PM), AMC’s first original series, may indeed take the prize as the sharpest, smartest, best executed series of the year. Created by Sopranos writer/producer Matthew Weiner, the show delves into a captivating period in recent American history (the brief, false idyll when Eisenhower reigned), and depicts, more specifically, the day-to-day orbits of the square-jawed men and well-rounded woman (wonder bread white and middle-class uppity)—all drinking deeply from the artificial fountains of newly minted suburbia-- who peopled the Madison Ave, New York advertising world. Mad Men’s impeccable set design deserves a love song to itself, but the look, the tone, the toe-dipping bits of understated drama, all contribute to a project that is as well conceived, as it is unerringly delivered and unimpeachably penetrative. The central figure, Don Draper (Jon Hamm, in a simultaneously subtle but breakout performance), is a Gregory Peck/William Holden-type, straddling the cusp of the 50’s-into-60’s with an air of existential distance, a no nonsense seducer brimming with a just under-the-surface combination of anger and disdain, a man in a gray flannel suit heading towards either a mid-drift bulge and a drinking problem, a break out and head turning first novel, or a leap into the whirling void of the oncoming sixties. (Both John Slattery as the unctuous boss man and Vincent Kartheiser as the agency’s high strung lost soul register highly, and the supporting cast of women, especially Elisabeth Moss, Maggie Siff, Rosemarie DeWitt and January Jones are amazingly lovely to look at while turning in fetchingly unmannered performances.) Weiner has hit upon something special here—a look at the filtered past with a gaze from the present that is in turns disapproving and envious, a gut shot and a blow to the head, a scintillating TV cocktail that’s part-Martini and part-mother’s little helper, with a drop of acid sure to come.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Trippin' to the Mall

Hats off to Michael Townsend. Four years of living, building, and interacting in a forgotten space in the Providence Place Mall, a grandly subversive bit of art from this so-called “public artist” in a room without a view, it was undeniably the kind of local news story guaranteed to make your day, maybe even your week. I can say without a trace of sarcasm or irony that this was indeed the kind of art (whether classified as public, performance, temporary, an installation, etc.) that was keen, provocative, and yup, humorous. When caught, Townsend went down for the count appropriately, offering up a possibly sincere mea culpa, resisting the predictable prank-in-yer-face antics or MIT-styled faux revolutionary crapola. Give the man credit for a sublimely conceived and consummately executed vision, and give him a nod for the all too infrequent ability of conveying a sense of aesthetics to those of us out here sweating our way through our daily middle class machinations.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

the very best of mick jagger?

the gents and i were talking about the stampede of musical buffalo releasing stuff in time for christmas and i said i truly hope you don't miss this one: the very best of mick jagger. forget knopfler, springsteen, mitchell, fogarty, anka (oh, it's true), plant and krause, and the rest. you must have this collection of songs nobody ever heard, except maybe for the duets. there's the one with david bowie on martha and vandellas' "dancin in the streets." you've seen the video for sure. talk about a pair of pixies. where is sheldon leonard when you need him? and the thing with peter tosh__a message to you rudy (may you rest in peace), just 'cuz michael lays the blow on the table doesn't mean you have to sign the contract. sometimes it really is better to walk and not look back, mahn.
anyway, the kicker for me is memo from turner. can the jag really lay claim to this one? more of a group effort, methinks, since a swell version of it wound up on metamorphosis years ago. maybe he's never fully gotten over the failed movie career that left him stuck in a pallid indie trying to hump angelica huston, a woman who in her middle age is, how does one say this delicately, pretty gruesome.
well, that's enough for now
ha aha ahaha!
hapnik the nit crit (aka barely sentient)

Monday, October 1, 2007

Wherefore Art Thou, Travis?

No one will ever forget Jodie Foster’s turn as a child prostitute in Marty Scorsese’s 1976 Taxi Driver. The then 13-year-old was immediately afforded the transition to actress rather than a child performer, and the subsequent bad business with Reagan shooter John Hinckley and his movie-like obsession with Foster forever seared her as one of the earmarks of the Me Decades’ zeitgeist. Foster’s long career has been a worthy one particularly when she’s hooked up with directors who share her talent, and Irish/Hollywood filmmaker Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, The Butcher Boy) is certainly one. How strange it is then to see he and Foster collaborate on The Brave One, a New York vigilante picture, a movie that seems to riff on Death Wish (1974), but is strangely, eerily, nods it’s weary head to the seminal Taxi Driver. While set up as an urban thriller and revenge film, both director and actress purport the film to be a critique of those genres. It doesn’t work that way in actuality, and despite a sharp acting passé between Foster and the always solid Terrence Howard the movie, accented by the shadow of 9/11, panders more than it circumvents, and Foster’s wronged Erika Bain winds up more like a modernized and feminized version of Charlie Bronson’s Paul Kersey (a regular Joe-gone-avenger) than Robert DeNiro’s multi-layered and fascinatingly complex Travis Bickle.