Wednesday, December 30, 2009
The movies are a great escape from real life, and in the 2000s, we all were in need of a lot of little breaks. So it's time for the big one folks, my personal favorite, The Top Ten Movies of the 2000s. So without further rambling, let's see what's on the list...
10. Casino Royale (2006)
A stunning revival of the Bond franchise with a whole new level of seriousness. Featuring the unexpectedly great performance of new Bond, Daniel Craig, this movie set a new standard for a formerly campy and stagnant franchise. With its only weak points to audiences being extended scenes of poker playing replacing excessive action, it truly shined with its strengths which were in plot and character development. What was a great beginning to the new Bond franchise was cut somewhat short by the extremely disappointing follow up, Quantum of Solace.
9. Walk Hard (2007)
At first glance, Walk Hard is just another comedy, vulgar, goofy, and featuring John C. Reily. However, where Walk Hard differentiates itself from the rest is its features as a parody. With half of the parody being done in the casting itself, which such hilarious choices as having Frankie Muniz play Buddy Holly, or having Jack White play Elvis, the movie seals the deal with songs depicting different musical styles in a hilarious manner. Throw in some general hilariousness and inappropriate jokes, and you've got yourself a great movie.
8. The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
Though, in many peoples eyes, the following statement is punishable with death, The Darjeeling Limited is my favorite Wes Anderson film. With richly developed characters who share a brotherly relationship so real that it feel as though you're at a family dinner, this movie endears you to its possibly far fetched concept quickly. In the film three brothers share a vacation traveling by train through India in order to reaffirm their relationships with each other, and work through their own personal problems. With a wonderful soundtrack featuring some rarely heard songs by The Kinks, and a beautiful setting, this movie is hard not to love. So who says this can't be my favorite Wes Anderson movie? After all was Royal Tenenbaums really all that amazing?
7. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)
The Lord of the Rings trilogy maintained a standard of excellence that earned this particular chapter basically every oscar ever. While a bit overlong (especially on the dvd version), the film still never let up in how interesting and exciting it was, as we finally got to see the most epic film journey of the 2000's, and possibly all time, come to a close.
6. Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
Where the Wild Things Are is based on a book that is under 20 pages. So it seems to be a bit crazy to think that the source material was turned into such a rich tapestry of beauty and childlike wonder. With director Spike Jonze at the helm, the movie was definitely going to be different than most that you see, but luckily Jonze put together a beautiful visual world in the land of the Wild Things, and characters that were easy to relate to, while still maintaining a unique style. With a perfect soundtrack done by Yeah Yeah Yeah's Karen O, the movie stands as a testament to how wonderful childrens movies can be for people of all ages. The only real way to describe this movie and do it any justice would be to say that it's like being 11 again, if only for a precious few hours.
5. (500) Days of Summer (2009)
Sometimes it doesn't hurt to play to a crowd and stick to a stereotype. It gives you a chance to expand the concept a bit. 500 Days of Summer sounds like just another indie romance movie at first glance. Two witty hipsters lost in their own relationship troubles, while set to a wonderful soundtrack. However, 500 Days of Summer really becomes its own because of the performances of the leading couple, Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon Levitt, both of whom knock their role out of the ballpark. With very interesting direction by Marc Webb, this movie stands out from the crowd, and then some.
4. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
The beginning of the Lord of the Rings trilogy created a lot of anticipation for future continuations of the series. With the obvious successes that made the rest of the movies in the franchise so successful, where this particular installment really shined was in its setting of the overall tone and scene of middle earth and the shire, with soundtrack and set choices that almost made you nostalgic for a place that's fictional.
3. Big Fish (2003)
Typically, I'm not a fan of Tim Burton. Now I'll admit I haven't seen any of the movies I'm about to make fun of, but correct me if I'm wrong when I say that movies like Coraline and stuff are all just set ups for new tee shirts for emo tweens to buy at Hot Topic, while still harkening back to their bible, The Nightmare Before Christmas. With that being said, Big Fish is one of the most beautiful movies I've ever seen, so maybe live action is what it takes for Tim Burton not to make me angry, but this tale of a man who was awesome at everything really tugs at the heart in all the right ways, as much a story about the age of American story telling as it is a story about a father and son finally getting to know eachother. The movie is amazing, though I feel like the movie would have better merchandise if all the characters were skeletons of some kind.
2. Lord of the Rings : The Two Towers (2002)
With consistent character development, action, and adventure found in the previous installment, The Two Towers shined as my personal favorite in the series mostly because of its inclusion of the most well made battle scene in film history and an ending fit for any movie viewer, that left me almost more satisfied than I was at the end of the entire trilogy itself.
1. Dark Knight (2008)
Really? No one saw this coming? This movie made Batman cool again! With the almost excessively honored, but in no way overrated performance of Heath Ledger as the Joker, this movie already had everything it needed to be a success, however the movie stepped it up a notch with a script so well written, that it's still hard to believe after all this time that this movie didn't get a Best Picture nomination. After all, the themes of this movie were themes that purveyed through this past decade. A lack of trust for those around you, a constant questioning of our own decisions, and the pursuit of some sort of peace, even if it's nearly impossible to reach. Who knew that Batman was the one who knew us best? Because, in a way, it feels like everywhere in the world has a little of Gotham City in it somewhere.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Here's my personal favorite list of all to make. Mostly because you have my personal guarantee that Kid A is nowhere to be found on it. Anyone reading lists has seen about enough of that album. In a decade where the mainstream began to embrace Indie, and in certain cases, Indie began to embrace the mainstream, there was a lot of great music to be had. So enough talk, let's get down to what matters. So here it is, my top 10 albums of the decade.
10. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix - (2009, V2)
Best Tracks: Lisztomania, 1901, Love Like a Sunset
Reason for picking: This french group, though having been around for a while, really jumped onto the "Indie conquering the mainstream" train with not only an SNL performance, but an awesome album to boot. With a title just audacious enough to be awesome, and songs with hooks that won't leave your head for days, Phoenix spends this entire album proving that indie music isn't incapable of producing some real, fun, and legitimatly good, top 100 style pop.
9. Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head - (2002, Capitol)
Best Tracks: Clocks, The Sceintist, In my Place
Reason for picking: A classic album to say the least. Airy and relaxed, with songs that flow beautifully into eachother, giving the whole album great continuity. With the album not only providing some of the biggest hits of the early 2000's, it showed the enduring influence of British music on the mainstream.
Best Tracks: Jesus Walks, Family Business
Reason for Picking: Bringing hip hop back to an art form, and with throwbacks to classic R&B, Kanye spawned a decade's worth of influence for the entire genre, while simultaneously breaking the boring lyrical trends of Hip Hop in the 2000's for something more personal and meaningful, but without being preachy or annoying.
Best Tracks: Fake Empire, Start a War
Reason for Picking: Maintaining a certain calm aesthetic, this album really just brings it home with a unique sound that's a mix between nostalgic and fresh. Though not the first effort from The National, it seemed to give The National some real mainstream attention as its songs were used in a lot of popular media including a personal favorite of mine, NBC's Chuck. This album showed a promising new style for the band that one can only hope they maintain in future efforts.
Best Tracks: Poison Oak, At the Bottom of Everything, Lua
Reason For Picking: With a sound that throws you back, this album is grade A proof that classic folk is not dead.
5. Sufjan Stevens - Illinois - (2005, Asthmatic Kitty)
Best Tracks: Chicago, Casmir Pulaski Day
Reason for Picking: Full of energy and fun, while still capable of being serious, this album does my home state's name good. If only Sufjan Stevens could get around to making more music. That'd be nice.
4. The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America - (2006, Vagrant)
Best Tracks: Stuck Between Stations, First Night, Southtown Girls
Reason for Picking: It seems as though classic rock style songs about partying will never get old, especially not when paired with the lyrical ability of Craig Finn.
3. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago - (2008, Jagjaguwar)
Best Tracks: Skinny Love, Flume
Reason for Picking: An unexpectedly awesome debut album, with a wintry overtone that just couldn't be better. This album leaves me extremely optimistic for future works from this group.
2. The White Stripes - Elephant - (2003, V2)
Best Tracks: Seven Nation Army, Black Math, Girl You Have no Faith in Medecine
Reason for Picking: The White Stripes were undoubtedly one of the most influential bands of the 2000's, with a revolutionary minimalist concept, and influences older than most of their fans, and this album represents the White Stripes at their peak. With such
1. Funeral - Arcade Fire - (2004, Merge)
Bringing a new level of honesty and energy to indie rock, and speaking about relationships,
growing older, and just about the general ups and downs of life, Arcade Fire's debut album set a new standard for music in the next decade. With one of the few bands that seems capable of inspiring people, and an album that revives the art of listening to an album from start to finish, Arcade Fire get a beautiful 10/10 for this one. Let's see if they can do better.
Best Tracks: Wake Up, Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
Monday, December 14, 2009
25. 1901 - Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Friday, December 11, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
It's nice to know that there can be lighter hearted horror movies that aren't based around the concept of "Super Chill Sexy Vampire Teens." It's also nice to know that the industry is capable of releasing a good horror movie that isn't a torture porn along the lines of Saw (XII? XIV? Where are they now?) and the like.
Friday, October 2, 2009
This story begins with a brief, but important confession of bias. Andrew Bird is one of my favorite musicians of all time, and consequently, I have seen him live before. Twice before to be precise. However, walking into the Blue Note this past Thursday night, I knew I was in for something different. My past live experiences with Andrew Bird had been at Chicago’s Civic Opera House, a venue that can only be described as colossal, and at Lollapalooza, an outdoor festival with a crowd to big to be contained by any building. However, in the Blue Note’s intimate setting, Bird truly shined like never before, playing songs both new and old, all the while conversing with the crowd, making for a show that none of the audience will be forgetting anytime soon.
The show began with a short set from St. Vincent, the group currently touring with Bird through the Midwest. Having not heard of St. Vincent up until the point of the show, I found myself pleasantly surprised with their sound. With frontwoman Annie Clark looking like another cute, young, indie artist, the crowd was treated to something else entirely, a sound that bordered on electronica, while still staying fun with a pop based sound. The music had a distinct and unexpected darkness to it that really added another level to the show, as Clark danced like the world’s most adorable robot, to the steady beat of songs like “Your Lips are Red.” St. Vincent left the stage, but not without piquing my curiosity, and the curiosity of most of the crowd. After a brief break, the lights went down, and Andrew Bird took the stage.
Andrew Bird jumps right into his set, kicking off his shoes, putting a sock monkey on top of one of the speakers, and starting with a crowd favorite, Fiery Crash. Throughout the show, the benefits of the close quarters setting become apparent as Bird spoke with the crowd, discussing the MKT bike trail, life in general, and most interesting, his thought process on a new song he showcased for the crowd entitled, “Lusitania.” The show continued with Bird playing through songs not heard as often live such as “Opposite Day” and “The Birthday Song.” The show came to an apparent end with Bird’s most popular song, “Fake Palindromes,” however an encore was given without much coercion as Bird played the song, “Why,” which became a sort of dialogue between Bird and the crowd, as he shook and waved around the stage. The show finished off with “Tables and Chairs,” ending the show on the highest possible note, and waving to the crowd as he picked up his sock monkey and left the stage.
If Andrew Bird has his way, at the end of the world there will be no elaborate judgement day, no violent doom, only a party with pony rides, dancing bears, and most importantly, snacks. It’s not hard to buy into his philosophy on life after spending an hour and a half listening to this man play, as he truly seems to put himself into everything song, showing an unbelievable amount of focus and enthusiasm for what he’s doing. The only thing that two of Andrew Bird’s shows have in common is that they leave anyone fortunate enough to be in the audience happy with not only their evening, but with life.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Below is my first published article in the University of Missouri paper, The Maneater, Check it out, and check the awesome official website version here.
Humbug a failed experiment
New Arctic Monkeys album is change we don't need.
By Dan Sheehan
Published Sept. 1, 2009
The Arctic Monkeys stormed onto the music scene in 2006 and took no prisoners, as their debut album became one of the fastest selling albums in British history. With front man Alex Turner's incredibly detailed and insightful lyrics and powerful instrumentals, the Arctic Monkeys quickly made a name for themselves, proving they were going to be sticking around for a while.
With smash hits like "I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor," the Arctic Monkeys rocketed into mainstream fame, getting radio play and festival appearances alike. Now, three successful years later, Arctic Monkeys have found themselves on the center stage of the music world and in an attempt to keep the world interested, the band tried doing things a little differently this time.
From a band that's been known for its energetic and aggressive sound, their newest album, Humbug, seems to venture into a bit of a darker, more reserved direction. The lyrics, though still interesting, touch different topics from the usually lighter fare about partying and having fun the Arctic Monkeys have put forth in the past.
With lyrics such as, "Your past-times/consisted of the strange/the twisted and deranged/I loved that little game," it's clear the band has departed not only from their usual topics, but potentially from their old genre altogether. In leaving behind their aggressive, overly rambunctious roots, the Arctic Monkeys test the boundaries of their hard-earned mainstream status, seeing just how much they can really do with their sound. And they show a lot of range with potential for future change and experimentation through new sounds.
The band's use of different techniques and new instruments, such as organs, create a much darker, almost sinister sound that works very well on tracks such as "Pretty Visitors," but less successfully on the clichéd spelled-out chorus of "Dangerous Animals."
With this less upbeat style, the Arctic Monkeys have taken a lot of risks, showing they're very capable, not only of stretching their limits, but redefining their sound. Unfortunately, the album makes some pretty heavy sacrifices in overall album quality in doing so. Granted, Humbug is not a bad album, not by far. The songs are interesting and enjoyable, but they lack what makes the Arctic Monkeys the Arctic Monkeys.
By giving up on the high energy sound fans have grown so fond of, the album never really succeeds in taking off, flirting several times with its true potential, only to once again lose energy and delve into more depressing riffs.
It might seem unorthodox to recommend that a band experiment less, but in the case of the Arctic Monkeys, it would seem sound advice. When a band is famous for making fun, energetic music, it's a bit of a shock to one's senses when they put out an album that can best be described as morose. Although musically entertaining, Humbug has little potential to be listened to multiple times and will tend to leave most diehard Arctic Monkeys fans disappointed in the end.
Friday, August 21, 2009
You just read the name of that song and mentally asked your self, "What the hell?"
Yeah. Me too.
Now Pitchfork had been doing SO well combining mainstream and indie into a pretty comprehensive list of great songs from the last 10 years, and they had to go and mess it up with one song left by picking a song that, to quote the article justifying their choice, "Sadly never dented the top 100."
Now that's indie kid talk for "We know about this one song by a popular artist, and you do not. We know more about music than you."
Honestly, its just annoying and pretentious and I don't know why I keep reading their site, but no one else unearths the sheer volume of new music that they do on a daily basis. Call me a glutton for punishment, but I'm still itching to see their top 200 albums of the 2000's even though number one will be the, in my opinion, overrated Kid A by Radiohead.
If Pitchfork really wanted to keep hold of the position of most influential music magazine, they really could stand to embrace the mainstream just a little bit more. Being musically pretentious doesn't make you cooler than anyone else. Even when John Cusack did it, it wasn't cool, it was just good for a laugh.
Case and Point:
These guys are pitchfork. For serious.
Pitchforks List on the Awesometer?
1 [------5-----] 10
A 5. That's straight up average. They worked really hard to make a good list but then went and ruined it. Now they get this.
That's about as awesome as:
Ordering a sandwich and having it arrive on time, with proper ingredients.
Finding out that your bag of M&Ms has an abundance of browns.
Losing Your cell phone for a few minutes, but later finding it was in your pocket all along.
Oh. There it is. That was a close one.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Since I heard one of Bon Iver's songs featured on one of my favorite TV shows, Chuck, I have been hooked on everything they have released. Bon Iver has a beautiful wintery aesthetic that is undoubtly the product of the fact that the brains of the outfit, Justin Vernon, wrote most of the songs he has released while spending a winter in a cabin in the northern portion of Wisconsin. For my copious amount of foreign readers unfamiliar with Wisconsin, shit's cold.
While his recorded works are serene and quiet, with layered vocals and little more than just an acoustic guitar, Bon Iver live is an entirely different experience. Playing with 3 musicians backing him, Vernon's voice doesn't sing alone, but still manages to be a haunting presence floating over the crowd. However, playing as a part of a quartet, Vernon finds himself with an electric guitar, drum set, and other fun instruments, and the group makes great use of them, turning already fantastic songs like Blood Bank from relaxed ballads into a showcase of thumping bass and potent guitar skill, creating a situation where Bon Iver the recording artist and Bon Iver the performers could quite honestly be classified as two different, albeit utterly intwined, groups.
Also Skinny Love is as mesmerizing live as anyone could ever imagine. Blew my mind.
There's not a whole lot to say about Ben Folds that the world doesn't already know, he's a fantastic musician, and it really shows in his live performances. I'd dare to say that, unless Sufjan Stevens is AWESOME, Ben Folds is the best pianist out there right now.
As for his Lolla performance, I regrettably was pretty far back in the crowd because Bon Iver ran right into the beginning of his show, so the people around me probably didn't even know who they were going to see. That was unfortunate merely because half the fun of a concert is being surrounded by an enthusiastic crowd. However, Ben Folds tore up the show live, improvising piano solos left and right, and more or less playing a laundry list of hits and lesser known great songs. The intense rain that day seemed to keep him from taking part in any of the on-stage antics he's known for, but it didn't matter too much seeing as he still managed to turn the crowd into a horn section at the end of Army, and that made me ridiculously happy. The whole show just made me wish that I could go to a full Ben Folds concert because 45 minutes is far too little time for a musician with Ben Folds' body of work. If you have the chance to see Ben Folds, see him. Don't think twice.
Andrew Bird may very well be the best live musician I have ever seen in my life. Bird, being an accomplished violinist, guitarist, singer, and whistler, is in no way short on talent, but live, he mixes it up a bit. Using a recording device, Bird records himself playing various parts of songs, and loops them, to give the unique experience of a one man band. Except for the fact that he also has a band. Andrew Bird doesn't dissapoint live, giving the crowd constant entertainment with his improvised whistle solos, and violin interludes between songs. Bird also sells it with a sense of utter gratitude to the crowd. As a Chicago native, when Bird said, "Home town shows always scare me, it's because I care about you guys!" and it wasn't hard to believe that he meant it, as on stage Bird's presence is extremely focused, almost compulsive, as he seems to be so consumed by the music he plays. Andrew Bird never failed for a minute to keep me utterly captivated by each song he played, and even suceeded in making me enjoy songs of his that previously hadn't been high on my list of favorites. If given the chance to see him, Andrew Bird is not an act to miss. Having seen him twice, I am utterly and entirely hooked, and every time I youtube the videos from his shows, I just start counting the days until I can hear Fake Palindromes live again.
When recorded, I'm a pretty big fan of Animal Collective. As Merriweather Post Pavillion proved, they still know how to make a great album. However, that being said, when performing live, Animal Collective is boring and terrible. Allow me to elaborate.
Animal Collective started their set with a very slow build to an as of yet unreleased song, which was fine. It isn't abnormal to start a set with some built up suspense, Andrew Bird does it all the time. However, between songs, it seemed as though the slow build was getting beaten to death as it was used as an interlude almost every time. However, it could hardly be called an interlude when the "songs" that it introduced were little more than mixes and hybrid of various parts of other Animal Collective songs, none of which were coherent enough to truly be enjoyed. To my recollection, really only one song was played in its entirety (Brother Sport), and it wasn't even the song that would've been perfect for the occassion (Summertime Clothes, the weather was ridiculously hot.) Now, while I can't expect the band to adhere to my personal ideal set list, I think it isn't too much to ask to hear a song or two. If Animal Collective comes to your town, save yourself some money, buy a sandwich or something fun.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Now, when I heard that Beastie Boys frontman Adam Yauch was (POOR TASTE BEASTIE BOYS/SICKNESS JOKE ALERT) too ill to perform, I was extremely dissappointed, especially considering I was never a huge Yeah Yeah Yeahs fan. I knew the same hit song everyone else did. However, Yeah Yeah Yeahs knew how to put on a fun show, and had a really fun stage presence. They had the energy and enthusiasm of an up and coming band playing on one of the festival's tiniest stages, clearly playing their biggest show ever, and loving every minute of it. Karen O's shrill but beautiful voice filled Grant Park with some sweet tunes, and an acoustic version of Maps, despite some botched lyrics, proved a wonderful way to calm down after a very tiring day.
Well, where do I begin here? The Killers wrote the songs that soundtracked my teen years, and despite not being a fan of their more recent work, I was excited to see them. However, I had no idea that the show put on would be so incredible.
The Killers know what it takes to write an amazing set list, starting with some lesser hit songs like "Human" and "Somebody Told Me" to get me hooked into the show, and utterly willing to dance along to songs I don't know the words to, and ending with their greatest hit songs, "Mr. Brightside," "All These Things That I've Done," and "When You Were Young." All in a row. As the crowd crooned along with the ending of "All These Things That I've Done," everyone in the audience knew that they were bearing witness to something amazing, as the singing of the crowd drowned out all other sound, and all that could be seen were the flashing lights and smoke of the brilliantly bright stage in front of us. At the finish of their closing song, "When You Were Young," I couldn't help but think that there was no better show that could've closed out my Lollapalooza experience. As one of the most popular rock bands in the world, The Killers are a must see if you ever get the chance, because their songs will be the ones our kids call classic rock.
So that's Lollapalooza 2009 in a nutshell! I've got other stuff from it to discuss, but I've already given you two posts in one night, so I'll let you folks catch up, but stay tuned!
Other Bands worth checking out that I didn't review for one reason or another:
Blind Pilot (Only Caught their last 2 songs)
Arctic Monkeys (Only Caught 3 of their Songs, then free sunglasses were calling my name.)
I MET ANDREW BIRD. THAT SHITS A 10 ON THE AWESOMETER. NO COMPARISONS BECAUSE THAT SHIT'S IMPOSSIBLE. ITS THAT GOOD.
Friday, July 31, 2009
Allow me to introduce you to Funny People. A not-so-little movie about life. In Funny People, Adam Sandler plays George Simmons, a famous comedic actor who has just been diagnosed with a form of leukemia that leaves him with only an 8% chance of survival. George meets Ira Wright (Seth Rogen) at a comedy club, and gets him to write jokes for him and serve as his personal assistant. After being told that his disease is in remission, George begins to reexamine his life and the choices he's made.
Now that we all know each other, let's talk about if this movie was good or not. I saw Funny People at the midnight showing, which I highly recommend. Seeing movies at midnight makes me feel oddly important. Almost as though I'm seeing the movie before everyone else, just to make sure that it's good. As if to say, "Don't worry world, Dan has seen this movie already. He approves." However, that being said, I hold no power to stop the movies that make me upset in the stomach. (*cough* Year One *cough*)
To get the initial suspense out of the way, Funny People was most definitely worth seeing. The movie paints a great picture of a man with everything and yet nothing in Adam Sandler's character, and following him through his life, near death, and rediscovery of life is not only entertaining, but endearing, showing that Sandler is quite capable of playing roles with some depth. Sandler's character also provided what was, in my opinion, the most entertaining part of the movie, in his brief cameos in fake clips of comedies his character had made. These clips of about 10-15 seconds managed to get me laughing every time; for instance, one shows Sandler taking part in a hotdog eating contest as his son proclaims, "This won't bring mom back!!" Along with these fake film clips are hilarious clips of Ira's roommate Mark's (Jason Schwartzman) fake NBC sitcom called simply, "Yo, Teach!" These clips capture the essence of a bad sitcom so perfectly that I almost feel like it's a show I would watch on a tuesday night. However, this leads me to one of my bigger complaints in the movie, and that was the complete under utilization of Rogen's roomates, Mark, played by Schwartzman and Leo, played perfectly by Jonah Hill. These two characters compliment Rogen's so well that it seemed criminal to make so little use of their relationship. However, relationships involving Rogen's character seemed to take an overall backseat, especially in the romantic department, making his love affair with Daisy, played by the extremely attractive Audrey Plaza, seem somewhat rushed and underplayed. Ira is a very interesting character, and I wish that there had been more focus on his personal journey throughout this story, because Rogen played him perfectly in all his quirky and awkward glory.
In the end, what this movie lacked wasn't drama, but moreso the right kind of drama. The movie focused plenty on Sandler's character's mistakes in life, and his attempts to right them, but failed to hit the overall point I was hoping to see in this movie, but then again maybe that's selfish.
Allow me to explain myself. I'm going to level with you readers, because you guys are all so cool, so buckle up. If for some bizarre reason you read my blog and you aren't a personal friend of some kind, an important fact about me is that I'm a standup comedian. As a comedian, when I saw the previews for this movie, I freaked. Finally! A movie I can hold up as my banner, saying with modest pretention, "Hey! Look at this! This is vaguely what my life is like! You don't understand this movie like I understand this movie!!" However, Funny People wasn't about stand-up comedy, and really wasn't about comedy at all. One of my greatest personal philosophies, and probably the reason I love comedy so much (Oh here he goes....) is the belief that laughter is one of the only ways that you can truly stand life. Life isn't terribly fair, and often isn't a whole lot of fun, but something that life is, is funny. You can always laugh at yourself, even if you think you're too cool, and it makes life just that much better to be able to, which I guess was the philosophy I was hoping this movie would convey. Through George's disease, and surrounding disaster of a life, maybe George would use the power of comedy and laughter to find his own bright sides and begin making changes. Instead the movie went with more of the typical, "life is precious, enjoy it while you can," moral, which I found a little dissapointing.
The movie is most certainly not a gut busting comedy, but it keeps the laughs coming, even if every now and then they're reduced to chuckles. However, despite the fact that this movie's philosophy didn't match my own, and despite the fact that it didn't even give me a chance to be pretentious, and despite the fact that it was 2 and a half hours, I still was glad that I saw it, as the ending leaves you feeling unexpectadly satisfied, and full of laughs. Funny People is not the Apatow-Opus that I was hoping for, but it's definitely better than Knocked Up and The 40 Year Old Virgin, so that's something the director can really hang his hat on. However, good luck making a better movie than Heavyweights, Mr. Apatow. Good Luck, indeed.
A 7 you say?
Why that's about as awesome as....
Being sent a delicious christmas ham, free of charge.
Seeing a Grizzly Bear battle a baby sasquatch.
Telling my friends I want to see The Time Traveler's Wife and NOT having them call me gay."But guys, their love can't even be contained by TIME."
Monday, July 27, 2009
Here's the deal nipple guy. No one wants to see your nipples. No one. But the sad thing is, Nipple Guy isn't listening. He's too busy showing the world his bod. But there isn't just one nipple guy, there's actually quite the variety. Let's break it down.
Nipple Guy (Skinny White Guy):
Alright buddy, when you walk around with clothes on, you look like the majority of America, which is sweet. However, when you remove that shirt, you just start to look sad. Like a puppy wandering around looking for food, with your pale white boy arms facing the elements in what will surely end as the world's worst sunburn due to your blatantly irish or german descent. Do your skin and yourself a favor and wear a tshirt, you're far too weak to be left exposed like that. Trust me, I'm doing this for you.
Nipple Guy (Fatty McFatty Fat Fat):
Holy shit. Stop. You're out of control! Fat people can go where they want and not face ridicule seeing as they have such abundant numbers now, but christ man, you need to robe up! Fat Nipple Guy typically isn't tan, and usually has some nice back-ne. You look like a walrus in the midst of it's awkward teen years. I'd say lose some weight and work out but that doesn't excuse being a nipple guy.
Nipple Guy (Well Built):
HEY. STOP IT. YOU'RE MAKING ME FEEL INADEQUATE.
Nipple Guy (Tattoo'd):
Okay, I would never say this to your face because chances are you're an unstable douchebag, but you are a huge tool. Accompanying your tattoos are usually some large number of piercings, sometimes even in your nipples, and that shit's offensive. You're usually pretty drunk, and looking for a fight, and for that, among so many other things, I dislike you. Since telling you to put on a shirt seems pointless, maybe you should just stay home and watch UFC.
So there it is, Nipple Guy. Right out on the table. Go home and put on a shirt like a normal person. No baseball team or otherwise cares about your nips. You're just making the crowd sad and giving something for me to blame losses on.
Next time, watch me tear a new one for all those people who clap after movies. Seriously, what the shit is that?
(Worst part of this post? Googling "Shirtless dudes" and having to pick out those pictures.)
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
This list of 100 songs is derived purely from my personal opinion and doesn't take into account influence over other music, popularity, or anything else like that. Feel free to post any agreements, disagreements, or questions. Basically just made this because I'm bored and wanted to give people a chance to see my top 100, and maybe inspire them to make their own.
1. Wake Up - Arcade Fire
2. First Day of My Life - Bright Eyes
3. Kryptonite - 3 Doors Down
4. Sleeping Lessons - The Shins
5. Stuck Between Stations - The Hold Steady
6. Rag And Bone - The White Stripes
7. Baba O'Riley - The Who
8. Fake Palindromes - Andrew Bird
9. Konstantine - Something Corporate
10. Eileen - The Hush Sound
11. Skinny Love -Bon Iver
12. This Time Tomorrow - The Kinks
13. How I Go - Yellowcard
14. Take It Easy - Eagles
15. Army -Ben Folds Five
16. Say It Ain't So - Weezer
17. Do You Realize?? - The Flaming Lips
18. Fake Empire - The National
19. I Will Follow You Into The Dark -Death Cab for Cutie
20. Sunday Bloody Sunday - U2
21. Steady, As She Goes - The Raconteurs
22. Hey Ya - Obadiah Parker
23. Paranoid Android - Radiohead
24. American Pie - Don McLean
25. Lisztomania - Phoenix
26. Blood Bank - Bon Iver
27. Citrus - The Hold Steady
28. Tables and Chairs - Andrew Bird
29. Momentum - The Hush Sound So Sudden
30. I've Just Seen A Face - The Beatles
31. Poison Oak - Bright Eyes
32. Constructive Summer - The Hold Steady
33. Rich Kid Blues - The Raconteurs
34. Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) - Arcade Fire
35. Piano Man - Billy Joel
36. Hurricane - Bob Dylan
37. Rebellion (Lies) - Arcade Fire
38. Hey Jude - The Beatles
39. Falling Slowly - Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
40. Rockin' The Suburbs - Ben Folds
41. Subterranean Homesick Blues - Bob Dylan
42. The Deaf Girl's Song - Cloud Cult
43. The Scientist - Coldplay
44. Go Your Own Way - Fleetwood Mac
45. Wonderwall - Oasis
46. Powerman - The Kinks
47. Daylight - Matt & Kim
48. You're Gonna Go Far, Kid - The Offspring
49. My Name Is Jonas - Weezer
50. Life In Technicolor II - Coldplay
51. Carolina Drama - The Raconteurs
52. Hotel Yorba - The White Stripes
53. The Luckiest - Ben Folds
54. Road to Joy - Bright Eyes
55. Antichrist Television Blues - Arcade Fire
56. The Way We Get By - Spoon
57. All These Things That I've Done - The Killers
58. Casimir Pulaski Day - Sufjan Stevens
59. Boston - Augustana
60. The Seeker - The Who
61. I Summon You - Spoon
62. The Modern Leper - Frightened Rabbit
63. The Kids Aren't Alright - The Offspring
64. Don't Panic - Coldplay
65. Fix You - Coldplay
66. Float On - Modest Mouse
67. Blackbird - The Beatles
68. Passing Afternoon - Iron & Wine
69. Now We Can See - The Thermals
70. 3rd Planet - Modest Mouse
71. 2 Atoms In A Molecule - Noah And The Whale
72. Electioneering - Radiohead
73. What'd I Say Parts I & II - Ray Charles
74. Here's Your Future - The Thermal
75. Otherside - Red Hot Chili Peppers
76. Yeah Yeah Yeah Song - The Flaming Lips
77. Sabotage - Beastie Boys
78. The Denial Twist - The White Stripes
79. Con te partiro - Andrea Bocelli
80. Still Fighting It - Ben Folds
81. May Your Hearts Stay Strong - Cloud Cult
82. C'mon C'mon - The Von Bondies
83. Runaround Sue - Dion
84. Mr. Brightside - The Killers
85. Everything Is Alright - Motion City Soundtrack
86. Bodysnatchers - Radiohead
87. Only To Haunt You - The Von Bondies
88. Mess - Ben Folds Five
89. Take Me Home, Country Roads - John Denver
90. Just a Dream - Griffin House
91. Spilt Needles - The Shins
92. I Gotta Feeling - Black Eyed Peas
93. Disarm - Smashing Pumpkins
94. Feeling This - Blink-182
95. Minority - Green Day
96. Homecoming [feat. Chris Martin] - Kanye West
97. Starlight - Muse
98. Alive With the Glory of Love - Say Anything
99. No Taylor, No Scar - Norwegian Recycling
100. Summertime Clothes - Animal Collective
Friday, July 3, 2009
Alright guys, it's been out for a while, but it's never too late to talk about Up. (Spoiler Alert. Whole thing. Fuck you?)
I'm not even going to add tension to this review, Up was incredible. Without a doubt, this was the best thing pixar has ever done. That's right Wall-E fanboys. You heard me. You wanna debate this fact? Count up the number of times Jeff Garlin (Who is quite possibly John Goodman's less evil twin) appears in both movies. Whichever movie has the lower score, is superior.
Just kidding, he's a funny guy.
But in all seriousness, Up exceeded my expectations, and yes, was better than Wall-E. Notice how I didn't say, in my opinion, was better than Wall-E. It just was better than Wall-E.
Up was beautiful because it simultaneously allowed you to suspend your belief in the laws of physics, the physical ability of the elderly, and the concept of geography, all while easily sharing the emotions of the characters in the movie. Within the first 5 minutes of Up, I was as close as I get to crying at movies. (see how I preserved my masculinity right there?) Up doesn't beat around the bush. Facts like the reality of death and age aren't hidden or made light of. Carl has lost his wife, and is now alone in a world that is rapidly changing, and leaving him behind. Carl's lonliness is palpable from the first scene, and in making his sadness real, Pixar made Carl the most real character they've ever created. The movie deals with the topics of lonlieness and inner childhood all throughout its entirety, yet it manages to keep a light tone, with the delightful supporting character of a young boy scout named Russel, whose interactions with talking dog Dug and exotic bird Kevin kept the movie from being defined as a "downer," and as a matter of fact, I challenge anyone seeing this movie to leave the theatre without a smile on their face, seeing as despite the problems encountered along the way, all the characters manage to find something within themselves that gives them a new outlook on life, which is fantastic to see in a children's movie. Themes like these are, at least in my experience, the ones that are important in life. Sharing your shit with the other kids, and learning how important family is are great values and all, but I personally am terrified of getting old, and I'm not even close to alone in that sentiment. Up manages to leave you with the impression that, although most elderly people don't get to go on journeys through the sky in homeade dirigibles, there is something to be said for the journey from young to old, and beyond.
Amazing plot aside, some other high points of the movies are old strengths of Pixar's, namely, the stunning visuals. We've all heard this before, and know the score pretty much by heart now, Pixar is amazing at making things look beautiful. They always have been. However, Up had some added zing with the use of this new 3D trend that's been in vogue these past few months. Now, I always hated 3D. I saw it as an eye straining excuse for anything and everything to be overdramatically tossed at the audience. (That being said, I fully intend to see Final Destination 4 in 3D. Stop judging me.) But Up in 3D was very subtle and added to the experience without seeming gimmick-y. Also, the score, done by Michael Giacchino was brilliant and really added to the movie's overall feel, merging an old sounding melody with light hearted overtones that give it a more childish feeling.
Another thing about this movie that I liked was that it really reminded me of my favorite book of all time, The Little Prince. That probably seems like a crazy comparison, but both deal heavily with the idea of inner youth and adventure, as well as loneliness. Also, the whole balloon-house concept in combination with the score give the movie an overtone that feels oddly french to me. Just some food for thought, feedback on that would be much appreciated.
So on the Awesometer?
Up's a fucking 9. That's cool as hell, bro.
A 9 eh? That's about as awesome as say....
Driving the WeinerMobile
Driving the WeinerMobile into the Dave Matthews Band's Tour bus
MY FUCKING NEW WALLET HOLY SHIT ITS A BACON WALLET
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
It works a little something like this:
1 l------------------5------------------l 10
This is The Awesometer. It is the standard in how I will be rating things from here on out. Figured it was about time I got a hold of a system. This highly advanced and well drawn diagram clearly shows that I'll be using a ten point scale. Unoriginal? To that I say nay. For, whichever point score the reviewed item earns, I will compare it to other things at that level of awesomeness. For instance, the ever coveted 10 on The Awesometer (a number I would only give out to something entirely awesome and free of flaws) would be comparable to say, hooking up with Megan Fox, or being that guy from the Dos Equis commercials.
Looking for more examples? Well you're in luck, I'm moments away from doing an entire review to christen this wonderful new system. Brace yourselves, Dan saw Transformers 2.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Well it's been a while since I wrote about much of anything, and now it's summer, and that means concerts, concerts, concerts! So I figured, why not start writing some concert reviews? Here goes!
Tonight, I had the wonderful opportunity of seeing The Hold Steady for a ridiculously under priced 10 dollars at The Taste of Randolph Street in downtown Chicago, and for a guy with relatively high expectations, I still managed to get my mind blown. In a time when concerts seem to be more about ticket sales than an experience, this show was just what the doctor ordered. A humble little one stage street festival in Chicago, with only a suggested donation of ten dollars for admission, inviting anyone and everyone to what they promised would be a wonderful night for everyone involved.
Coming onto the stage with a sharp opening of "Positive Jam" leading, with fans already singing along enthusiastically, directly into one of my personal favorites, "Stuck Between Stations," and the band made very clear that this show was going to be great, The show maintained a high energy level, with entertaining words between songs from frontman, Craig Finn, who made it feel more like he was having a conversation with you than introducing his famous band. One of my favorite songs of the night was "Southtown Girls," featuring an extremely skilled harmonica solo from Franz Nicolay, The band's keyboarder/ moustache enthusiast (see above photo) who seemed as enthusiastic as any band's frontman, as well as a chorus that everyone in the crowd seemed to know, and all were welcome to sing along. The show took a turn for the awesome when Nicolay, took out an accordion for "Lord, I'm Discouraged," only to be matched by guitarist, Tad Kubler, who got his hands on a double necked guitar in order to appropriately rip things up, and just as the show seemed over, the band was very easily coaxed into a few more songs, most notably, "Citrus," which provided a very welcome comfort that the crowd didn't even know it needed in preparation for the powerful closer, "Killer Parties," where Finn made especially sure to thank anyone and everyone for being a part of his band, proclaiming that "We Are all the Hold Steady!" and judging off of the consistant enthustic singing of the crowd from start to finish, it seems like Craig might be on to something.
Now, there are tons of simple reasons why the show was enjoyable, the most obvious being that the band has just as much talent on the stage as they do in the studio, however, what really sold me was the stage presence that frontman, Craig Finn, maintained throughout the night. Finn, at 37, shows no sign of aging past his twenties as he dances and emotes, almost adding annotations to his own lyrics with his motions and gestures. The enthusiasm that Finn shows on stage is what made the concert such a unique experience, because it was obvious that the band was just as happy to be there as the audience was, and when at the end of the concert, Finn yelled to crowd that, "There is so much joy in what we do!", you knew that he meant it.
Monday, May 11, 2009
I turned on my computer today to find out that Green Day's album had been leaked onto Comcast Rhapsody a few days early, and decided to give it a listen. By the end of the album, I really only had one thought in my mind and that was,
"What in God's Name is Green Day still complaining about?"
Well as it turns out, they're complaining about everything. Religion, Americans, Love, and surprisingly politics. That last one is interesting, as Green Day casually takes swings at God and Government, almost ignoring the fact that the Bush years have passed. However, I managed to put the slightly annoying topic aside, and listen to what Green Day had put together for the world. Needless to say, I remained unimpressed. Green Day has succeeded in becoming the kings of complaint, which begs the question, aren't they getting just a little bit old for this? As Green Day whined on in the chorus of American Eulogy with such creative lyrics as, "I don't wanna live in the modern world," I couldn't help but realize that, although Green Day might still have a penchant for pointless rebellion, I no longer could stand to hear them out. This album proved to me that Green Day is simply just trying to sell more records. When American Idiot came out, I was skeptical at jumping from song topics like masturbation to politics, but I accepted that the album was very solid. However, when the administration changed, and things in our country started to improve, if only slightly, Green Day just kept whining, and like most babies, if they whine long enough, eventually someone is going to put them in the garbage.
However, Green Day doesn't have much to worry about. Seeing as the album is modestly edgy in the least offensive of ways, and practically crafted for radio, the album is a safe bet for Album of the Year. However judging from previous winners of that award, true music lovers will realize that Green Day peaked in the 90's, a long time before I was even of age to like good music. The Green Day we know and love has long since passed, and made the very easy decision to write for the Grammys instead of their fans. But it's cool, my little sister and her squad of 14 year old cohorts all love Green Day. They also love these young gents. Misery loves company I guess.
Long story short, 21st Century Breakdown should consider itself lucky that I don't rate below one star, because this album just sounds like rehashed, reworked B-sides from American Idiot. Buy this if you like listening to animal rights activists, eating paint, or watching Akeelah and the Bee.
Monday, April 20, 2009
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with The Hush Sound's Greta Salpeter, and it was an awesome experience. I could tell you how she was down to earth, and about her upcoming solo career, but I think I'll let the interview do the talking. There's no video component, its supposed to be audio only. Also, a quick notice, this is my first time ever conducting an interview, so forgive me if my skill level is a bit low.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
I don't have a review in me right now, so I'll just discuss my day. Today was national Record Store Day. It was fantastic, I got a chance to see Lawrence Arms and Dissappears play live shows at Reckless Records, a place in downtown Chicago. Both bands played pretty great shows, and a record store was a fantastic setting. I managed to pick up a few records, another addition to my quest for the White Stripes vinyl discography, Bon Iver's full album, and some Godspeed You! Black Emperor, so my day was quite successful.
Then I saw Adventureland. I loved it, thought it had substance, heart, and characters so interesting that I didn't want the movie to end. However, they advertised this movie all wrong. It wasn't a teen comedy from the apatow vein like all the commercials led you to believe, but more of a mix between garden state and the 80's in general.
So yeah, good weekend so far.