Wednesday, October 31, 2007

DVD Review - Twin Peaks: Definitive Gold Box Edition (*****)

I've spent a good chunk of this decade vainly attempting to piece to together the complete Twin Peaks experience. After the shows final episode in 1991, the series surfaced in a massive VHS collection which left more than a little to be desired in regards to picture quality. At the time however, it was the only way to relive David Lynch and Mark Frost's miraculously original journey into the land of damn fine coffee and cherry pie. DVD was just around the corner though, so who really needed it, right? Well little did we know that the show would hang in legal limbo between studios for the better part of the next decade. The first season (sans pilot episode) saw release on DVD right at the turn of the millennium, but quickly and unceremoniously went out of print not long after. And then silence...

Twin Peaks would linger in obscurity for the next six years, with dedicated fans paying large sums of money for the 1st season DVDs, but even more for VHS copies of the extremely rare pilot. Footage would sporadically show up on the internet, along with copies of the shooting scripts, but not a word from CBS/Paramount about the release of season two or the re-release of the season one, not to mention the two highly sought after versions of the pilot. Word came early in 2007 however that David Lynch and CBS/Paramount had come to an agreement for the release of season 2 - great news for fans like me who had obtained copied of the 1st season, but no such luck for neophytes or less tech savvy fans. We were still without the pilot however, a 90 minute piece of television that had built up such as mystique that a release seemed nearly impossible.

October 30, 2007. That day will now live in infamy among Peaks Freaks, as that is the day that the complete Twin Peaks series - 90 minute Pilot episode (US & European versions), 7 Season One episodes and 22 Season Two episodes - was released on DVD. Spread over 10 discs and housed in a gold sheathed case, The Twin Peaks: Definitive Gold Box Edition is quite simply the best and most important DVD release of the year. Each episode has been remastered by David Lynch himself, as well as being remixed for 5.1 surround sound. To say the least, the show looks amazing - colors are vibrant and nicely corrected to accentuate all the muted tones and rainy environs of the shows Pacific Northwest locales. The only thing not remastered are the log lady introductions to each episode. The soundtrack is now full and heavy, wonderfully bringing to life Angelo Badalamenti's beautiful music. From a technical standpoint, this is a nearly flawless presentation of the show.

Unfortunately, as most TP fans know, a majority of the deleted scenes from the series have been destroyed over the years, but 4 are indeed included on the 9th disc of this set - none too revelatory, but nice nonetheless. The 10th disc is given over to a complete set of new special features however, and it is an embarrassment of riches. As much as I enjoyed the interviews that accompanied both the previous seasons on DVD, they were a little slight. The Gold Box remedies this however, as a large chunk of the features is given over to a massive 105 minute making-of documentary, broken down into 4 segments, which covers every facet of the show, from conception to cancellation.

Another bonus: for the first time ever, Lynch speaks openly about the creation of the show, in a nice coffee shop sit-down with stars Kyle Maclachlin and Madchen Amick. You also get the SNL skit which starred Maclachlin, a mini-doc on the annual Twin Peaks fan festival, including footage from the weekend as well as a tour through the various locations where the pilot and subsequent film was shot. And if that wasn't enough, there is a bevy of promo materials: TV spots, production photos, tie-in commercials, on-air promos and bumpers. The whole thing retails for close to $90, but for anyone who knows how difficult it has been to obtain the entire series in one place, they will be more than happy with their purchase. Twin Peaks is, was and forever will be the most innovative, influential and groundbreaking show of all time, and it finally has received the release it so richly deserves. Bravo.

DVD Review - The Return of the Living Dead: Collector's Edition (****)

In the long and storied lineage of the Zombie film, there are a handful of films that really stick out as landmarks of the genre, and Dan O'Bannon's 1985 splatter-fest The Return of the Living Dead is without a doubt one of the shining examples of just what a horror/comedy can accomplish. Just looking at the George Romero-referencing title, you can tell what O'Bannon was shooting for, and he scored a direct hit with this schlocky combination of punk rock teenagers and the undead, taking elements of Romero's Dead Trilogy and adding a number of new twists, including the debut of quick moving zombies who have the ability to speak. Also, these Zombies are slightly harder to do away with than the typical bullet-in-the-head, which leads to some inventive kills in the process. This in no way meant to label the film as being the slightest bit scary however, because it is not. What it is though is one of the funniest movies of the 1980s, bursting it's slim 90 minute frame with loads of gratuitous nudity, over-the-top blood shed and hilariously cheeky dialogue. If you've seen the Robert Rodriguez directed half of Grindhouse, it shouldn't be too hard to spot the similarities. It's also one of the very few Zombie films where the actual Zombies are just as memorable as the main characters, with a number of unique twists put on the living dead and their personalities (my favorite being Linnea Quigley's pervasively naked grave dancer).

This new Collector's Edition of the film is a welcome one, as the original DVD was bereft of features. Here we get a two great documentaries, one on the making of the film and one on the rise of the 80s horror film. There is also an entertaining audio commentary that unfortunately gets bogged down in it's own concept when the participants (members of the cast and crew) invite their zombie cast members to help elaborate on certain scenes. The packaging of the DVD is also noteworthy, as the limited edition slipcase is glow-the-dark. The only setback here is that the film still doesn't have all the correct music cues, with certain songs being trimmed and edited, with one in particular - The Damned's "Dead Beat Dance"- being completely excised. It probably has to do with rights issues, and truth be told it doesn't really detract from what is still one of the very best Zombie films ever made.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Stylus' 2007 Best-of Lists

As you should know by now, Stylus Magazine is sadly calling it quits at months end, but they have left us with their yearly Best-of lists, or rather Best-of 2007 so far lists. Liking most of it, although a couple of those films were technically 2006. They also served up their list of the best films of the millennium, which is very nice, with the top 2 films being my choices as well. Good stuff all around though. Thanks for the memories Stylus.

Best Albums of 2007:
10. Radiohead - In Rainbows
9. The Field - From Here We Go Sublime
8. M.I.A. - Kala
7. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
6. Kanye West - Graduation
5. The National - Boxer
4. Lil' Wayne - Da Drought 3
3. Panda Bear - Person Pitch
2. Miranda Lambert - Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
1. LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver

Complete Top 50 List

Best Songs of 2007:
10. LCD Soundsystem - Someone Great
9. Lil' Wayne - Upgrade U
8. Grinderman - No Pussy Blues
7. The National - Fake Empire
6. Radiohead - House of Cards
5. M.I.A. - Jimmy
4. Justice - D.A.N.C.E.
3. Los Campesinos! - You! Me! Dancing!
2. UGK featuring Outkast - International Players Anthem
1. LCD Soundsystem - All My Friends

Complete Top 50 List

Best Films of 2007:
13. Knocked Up
12. Brand Upon the Brain!
11. 12:08 East of Bucharest
10. Inland Empire
9. Exiled
8. Superbad
7. Zodiac
6. Death Proof
5. Away from Her
4. Eastern Promises
3. The Host
2. The Wind that Shakes the Barley
1. Once

Complete List

Best Films of the Millennium (so far...):
12. Cruel Winter Blues
11. The Best of Youth
10. A.I. Artificial Intelligence
9. Far from Heaven
8. Y Tu Mama Tambien
7. The Son
6. Before Sunset
5. You Can Count on Me
4. The New World
3. The Royal Tenenbaums
2. Children of Men
1. Mulholland Dr.

Complete List

Live - Battles @ The Epicentre; San Diego, CA. 10/29/07

One of the main reasons I wanted to see Battles in person was simple: I had to find out once and for all that there are in fact human beings behind this music. This half man-half machine math-rock super group - comprised of ex-Don Caballero guitarist Ian Williams, ex-Lynx guitarist Dave Konopka, guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Tyondai Braxton (son of avant-jazz man Anthony Braxton), and last but certainly not least, the bionic man himself, ex-Helmet drummer John Stanier - have crafted some of the decades most technically complex and accomplished music of the decade. Seamlessly blurring the line between rock, improv and electronic music, the band is a technical marvel, drowning in a sea of rainbow colored delay pedals, laptops and keyboards, all of which they use to tweak out their hypnotically motorik grooves and math-y arrangements. The fact that the band can so accurately replicate the sound of their ridiculously labyrinth albums is quite simple awe-inspiring.

Taking the stage at the criminally under-capacity Epicentre last night, Battles packed their equipment tightly together, setting Stanier's kit front and center. I'll tell you right now, coming face-to-face with Stanier's drum set and it's 6 foot tall high hat will put the fear of god in your heart. To call the band a well-oiled machine is an understatement - it's nearly impossible to know who is making what sound at any given time. Konopka stands behind the maelstrom, twiddling pedals and looping effects, while Braxton and Williams attack their guitars and stab at keyboards, all the while letting Stanier go all caveman on his poor drums. They stuck rather closely to songs from this year's groundbreaking and utterly stunning Mirrored, a strong contender for album of the year. "Rainbow", "Race:In", "Tonto" and the heart stopping "Leyendecker" were are rendered in mind boggling accuracy, with each member locked into an unspeakable symbiosis. And then there was "Atlas", which brought the small crowd to near frenzy with its chipmunk vocals and truly infectious hook. It was one of the best shows I've seen all year. A note to Battles though: Never play an all ages show again.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Stylus Magazine R.I.P.

Today is indeed a dark day, as indie-rock website
Stylus Magazine has announced their decision to close up shop. I've been feverishly reading Stylus for nigh-on 4 years, and I can unequivocally state that it change my life, both in how I listen to music and how I perceive it's place in modern times. It may be hard to believe, but I don't have a never-ending rolodex of symphonic art-rock bands and Swedish ambient producers to dive into whenever I need a fix. So Stylus had, up until and including this week, been a favorite stop for me and my unwavering search for new and inspiring music. The list of bands that they exposed to me is longer than my arm, but to name just a few that I wouldn't be enjoying if it weren't for their passion for both music and the power of the written word: Eluvium, Wolf Eyes, Benoit Pioulard, Patrick Wolf, The Moutain Goats, The Degaldos, Xiu Xiu, William Basinski etc etc etc...

My memories of the site are abundant, from their constant stream of best-of lists and endlessly entertaining columns, to their sometimes pompous writing - it all worked so well. I will never forget when they took the brave step and voted The Fiery Furnaces landmark album Blueberry Boat as the best record of 2004. No other site had the balls or the smarts to do that.
And they weren't all about music either, they had an excellent film critic staff as well, which hewed closely to the artistic side of cinema, which was always a refreshing change of pace compared to major publications and their by-the-numbers recommendations. Even as the are going out, they are leaving us with some great stuff though: by week's end there will be their requisite Best-of 2007 lists (truncated obviously, but nonetheless vital in my book), and a list of the 10 Best Zombie Films Of All Time. Yet all good things must come to an end I suppose, and I salute Stylus and their staff for imparting enough unnecessary knowledge in my brain to last a lifetime. I wouldn't have it any other way....

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Austerity Program - "Black Madonna" Promo

I'm not sure quite what to make of this. The Austerity Program - the harsh New York noise-metal duo behind this year's pummeling assault on the ear drums, Black Madonna - goes the comedic route in this promo video, demonstrating their Valnott pedal. I particularly like the bass demonstration - just cheeky enough to warrant a look.

Of course, the clip doesn't really give you any idea of how the band sounds, but I'll leave that up to "Song 12". Warning: not for the faint of heart.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

DVD Review - Days of Heaven (*****)

The legendary Terrence Malick made the now seemingly unfathomable leap from his good but commonplace debut Badlands to the poetic pageantry of one the greatest films of the entire 1970s, Days of Heaven, in only a five year span. But labeling Badlands as embryonic would be to sell short the accomplishment that was his sophomore film - there was nothing in his debut that could have prepared the viewer for the unfiltered beauty and dreamlike ambiance that Days of Heaven would all but perfect. To look at it from a completely different artistic perspective, it would have been the equivalent of predicting the strides that Radiohead made between Pablo Honey and The Bends - it just couldn't happen. As fate would have it though, Malick didn't generate a fraction of the fame and fortune that many of his contemporaries received during the period, probably due to the fact that his films move at a snails pace and tend to work on a completely cerebral level rather than a visceral one - a no-no in the 1970s. In fact, the film did rather poorly, and in it's wake Malick all but fell off the face of the planet, only emerging 20 years later with his follow-up film, the landmark WWII film The Thin Red Line. With the benefit of hindsight however, it's not hard to see that Malick was not only decades ahead of his time, but simply working on a completely different plane than any other filmmaker of the period.

Over the course of his decades long exile, his stature grew to mythical proportions, with his two subsequent films (the other being the masterful The New World) being rapturously received. And now we finally have the chance to look back at Malick's first true foray into his idiosyncratic world of loss, longing and the eternal power of the soul, with Criterion's fantastic release of his 1978 feature, the majestic Days of Heaven. It's well documented how Malick decided to shoot the film, with his rotating cast of cinematographers shooting almost completely outdoors with natural light, preferably during the "magic hours" (the moments just as the sun sets and rises), so it comes as no shock that the film looks beautiful here, in it's new, Malick approved transfer. What strikes me most again after seeing the film for the first time in a few years, is just how Biblical it is. On the surface, the film is a kind-of love triangle between the Richard Gere, Brooke Adams and Sam Shepard characters, and on another it is the story of a young girl (Linda Manz) discovering the intricacies of life and the power of memory. But buried underneath that are allusions to - and parallels with - the story of Abraham in the book of Genesis, as well as the quite obvious metaphor with the climatic plaque of locusts. And all this in only 90 minutes, with less than half of that time given over to dialogue. Of course it is open to interpretation, which is probably why it has held up so well and continues to be discovered by younger generations almost thirty years after it's release. There aren't very many movies that occupy the same head space as Days of Heaven, and for that reason alone, it will remain near the top of the greatest accomplishments in American film making.

This Criterion release of the film is a single disc affair, with a commentary track by editor Billy Weber, art director Jack Fisk, costume designer Patricia Norris, and casting director Dianne Crittenden, as well as new interviews with Richard Gere (audio only), Sam Shepard and cinematographers Haskell Wexler and John Baily. There is also a nearly 50 page booklet with essays on the film by film critic Adrian Martin and Academy Award winning cinematographer Nester Almendros. This was a long awaited release for Criterion, and they have done it proud.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

DVD Review - Stanley Kubrick: Warner Home Video Directors Series

I'm not going to go into an in-depth analysis about any of the 5 films included on Warner's new Stanley Kubrick - Director's Series box set, since it bears no discussion - all these films are classics. There is a lot of debate about what exactly constitutes the contents of each disc however.

Please note that all these DVDs, except Full Metal Jacket, were released separately the very same day as the box set (10/23/07).

First off, the art work for the individually released DVDs of 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, and Eyes Wide Shut are all different than what is included in the box set. It seems Warner wanted to give a different look to the box set to keep things uniform, which is all well and good, except the artwork isn't consistent. For these 3 movies - plus Full Metal Jacket, which wasn't released on it's own for some reason - the artwork features nearly all black covers with lower case white writing at the top of the case, while a somewhat cheap looking image from the film is superimposed underneath (for example: Hal's eye from 2001 or the 'Born to Kill' helmet from Full Metal Jacket). The Shining DVD does however feature the same artwork as the individually released DVD (the "Here's Johnny!" moment), albeit without the slipcase. It's a minor quibble, but nonetheless an odd decision by Warner Bros, who aren't exactly known for putting out quality product all the time.

The good news is, all the films included are finally presented with Anamorphic Transfers, so you can now take advantage of your wide screen TVs. I'll get to the aspect ratios in a second.

2001: A Space Odyssey
Film (*****)
Extras (*****)

Out of all the DVDs included, this is the most thorough. The features include:

Disc 1
• Commentary by Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood
• Theatrical trailer
Disc 2
• Channel 4 documentary: 2001: The Making of a Myth (43:04)
• Standing on the Shoulders of Kubrick: The Legacy of 2001 (21:23)
• Vision of a Future Passed: The Prophecy of 2001 (21:30)
• 2001: A Space Odyssey - A Look Behind the Future (4:3 - 23:10- vintage clip)
• What is Out There (20:40)
• 2001: FX and Early Conceptual Artwork (9:26 with Christine Kubrick)
• Look: Stanley Kubrick! (3:14)
• Audio-only interview with Stanley Kubrick (1:16:24)

A Clockwork Orange
Film (*****)
Extras (*****)

The best movie here, and some very good extras to boot.

Disc 1

• Commentary with Malcolm McDowell and historian Nick Redman
• Theatrical Trailer

Disc 2

• Channel Four documentary: Still Tickin': The Return of Clockwork Orange (43:35)

• Featurette: Great Bolshi Yarblockos!: Making A Clockwork Orange (28:15)

• Career Profile O Lucky Malcolm! (1:26:05)

The Shining
Film (*****)
Extras (*****)

Here is where the controversy arises. This new transfer is presented in a 1.78:1 ratio, which is different from the 1.33:1 ratio of the old Shining DVD, which was how Kubrick intended the film to be seen on regular 4:3 TVs. But now, in the age of 16:9 TVs, everyone wants widescreen, so this new disc has been formatted to appease. However, you will lose some picture on the top and bottom of the frame, albeit by gaining a good amount on either side as well. It's really a pick your poison ordeal, as no one knows how Kubrick would have reacted to widescreen television. For a shot comparison of each version, I'd recommend looking here.

• Commentary by Garrett Brown and John Baxter
• Theatrical trailers
Disc 2
• View from the Overlook: Crafting The Shining (30:12)
• The Visions of Stanley Kubrick (17:15)
• The Making of The Shining with optional commentary by Vivian Kubrick (34:58)
• Wendy Carlos, composer (7:30)

Full Metal Jacket
Film (*****)
Extras (***1/2)

This is the only single disc DVD in the box set, which explains the lack of extras. What's included though is quite good however.

Audio Commentary by Adam Baldwin, Vincent D'onfrio, R. Lee Ermey and Critic/Screenwriter Jay Cocks
New Featurette - Full Metal Jacket: Between Good and Evil
Theatrical Trailer

Eyes Wide Shut
Film (*****)
Extras (****)

More controversy: Contrary to the advertisements, there is NO commentary track by Sydney Pollack included. Also, despite what the box says, you cannot chose between the censored and uncensored versions of the films. Fortunately the only choice you have is for uncensored version, which has never been released in the US prior to this DVD. The Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman interviews are hold overs from the previous DVD.

Disc 1
The Movie - 1.78:1


• Featurette - The Last Movie - Stanley Kubrick and Eyes Wide Shut

• Featurette - Lost Kubrick: The Unfinished Films of Stanley Kubrick

• DGA - D.W. Griffith Acceptance Speech, 1998

Interviews with Nicole Kidman (17:45 min), Tom Cruise (08:23 min) and Steven Spielberg (07:49 min)
• US TV Trailer: Jealousy (00:34 min), Combo (00:34 min)

Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures
Film (***1/2)
Extras: None

A 2 1/2 hour documentary on the life and films of Kubrick, narrated by Tom Cruise. This was included in the old box set, but up until now wasn't available on its own.

Despite some poor decision making on the part of Warner Bros, this is still a very good set, with some well above average documentaries and audio commentaries. Packaging aside (and not to mention that they left out both Lolita and Barry Lyndon, both of which were included in the prior box set), this is still one of the years most important releases.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"Control" Racks Up 10 (!) BIFA Nominations

Anton Corbijn's wildly anticipated bio-pic about the life of late, great Joy Division front man Ian Curtis has received an amazing 10 nominations at the British Independent Film Awards. Things are now looking up even more for the film in terms of Oscars, as Control already picked up some awards at the Edinburgh Film Fest a while back. Our review of the film will be up by weeks end. Here is the complete list of BIFA nominees:

Best British Independent Film
And When Did You Last See Your Father?
Eastern Promises
Hallam Foe
Notes on a Scandal

Best Performance by an Actress in a British Independent Film
Anne Hathaway for Becoming Jane
Tannishtha Chatterjee for Brick Lane
Sophia Myles for Hallam Foe
Kierston Wareing for It's a Free World...
Judi Dench for Notes on a Scandal

Best Performance by an Actor in a British Independent Film
Jim Broadbent for And When Did You Last See Your Father?
Sam Riley for Control
Viggo Mortensen for Eastern Promises
Jamie Bell for Hallam Foe
Cillian Murphy for Sunshine

Best Performance by a Supporting Actor or Actress in a British Independent Film
Colin Firth for And When Did You Last See Your Father?
Tony Kebbell for Control
Samantha Morton for Control
Armin Muehler Stahl for Eastern Promises
Cate Blanchett for Notes on a Scandal

Most Promising Newcomer
Imogen Poots for 28 Weeks Later
Matthew Beard for And When Did You Last See Your Father?
Sam Riley for Control
Bradley Cole for Exhibit A
Kierston Wareing for It's a Free World...

Best Screenplay
David Nicholls for And When Did You Last See Your Father?
Matt Greenhalgh for Control
Steve Knight for Eastern Promises
David MacKenzie, Ed Whitmore for Hallam Foe
Patrick Marber for Notes on a Scandal

Best Director of a British Independent Film
Anand Tucker for And When Did You Last See Your Father?
Sarah Gavron for Brick Lane
Anton Corbijn for Control
David Cronenberg for Eastern Promises
David MacKenzie for Hallam Foe

Best Achievement In Production
Black Gold
Exhibit A
Extraordinary Rendition
Garbage Warrior

The Douglas Hickox Award
Nick Francis, Mark Francis for Black Gold
Anton Corbijn for Control
Oliver Hodge for Garbage Warrior
David Schwimmer for Run, Fat Boy, Run
Steve Hudson for True North

Best British Documentary
Black Gold
Deep Water
Garbage Warrior
In the Shadow of the Moon
Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten

Best Technical Achievement
Enrique Chediak for 28 Weeks Later
Trevor Waite for And When Did You Last See Your Father?
Martin Ruhe for Control
David MacKenzie for Hallam Foe
Mark Tildesley for Sunshine

Best British Short Film
A Bout de Truffe - The Truffle Hunter
Dog Altogether
The Girls
What Does Your Daddy Do?

Best Foreign Independent Film
Black Book
La Vie en Rose
Tell No One [Ne le dis à personne]
The Lives of Others

The Raindance Award
Exhibit A
The Inheritance
Tovarisch: I Am Not Dead

The Richard Harris Award
Ray Winstone

The Variety Award
Daniel Craig

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Spoon - "It's Gonna Take an Airplane" (Destroyer cover)

Spoon shows usually involve some cover tunes, and recently their song of choice seems to be "It's Gonna Take an Airplane", a fantastic song from Dan Bejar's underrated 2004 record Your Blues. Spoon's new album Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga has been rightly praised as an instant classic and is available for purchase right this second.

Beach House - "Some Things Last a Long Time" (Daniel Johnston cover)

Baltimore dream weavers Beach House have a new album arriving early next year, and in true touring band fashion they have been debuting new songs at their recent shows. I heard a couple new tunes myself not too long ago, but what I didn't get was a cover of Daniel Johnston's "Some Things Last a Long Time", which the band has included on Devotion, the album in question. Here they are seen playing the Johnston classic at a show in Columbus. But they're not the only one fixated with Johnston - folk troubadour M. Ward included his take on Johnston's "To Go Home" on last year's quite wonderful Post-War. As the two groups have proven, it's pretty difficult to screw up these timeless tunes. (Via Forcast)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Music Stream - "I'm Not There" OST

My two worlds collide on November 21st, as that is the day that Todd Haynes' Bob Dylan "interpretation" hits theaters, along with a soundtrack of a whole slew of the indie elite tackling Mr. Zimmerman's tunes, including perennial Stereo Sanctity favorites Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth, Tom Verlaine, Cat Power, Stephen Malkmus (with Steve Shelley at the kit) and Antony and the Johnsons among many others. And living in 21st century America, what would a soundtrack be without a Myspace? Well Columbia has set one up and is currently streaming 4 tunes by the likes of Sufjan Stevens, My Morning Jacket's Jim James with Calexico, Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and the aforementioned Cat Power. They will probably be rotating songs in and out, so listen soon. Thanks once again to Forkcast for pointing this out.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

In Rainbows Cassette

P4k's is running a feature today that is measuring fan reaction to Radiohead's celestial new record In Rainbows. Most everyone can agree that the music is top-notch, but there is a lot of debate going around about the quality of the MP3s. Each MP3s is 160 KBPS see, and some fans ain't too happy about that. The record sounds fine to me, but I'm no audiophile. And besides, the album is free if you want it to be, so get over it. Above is a funny little photoshopped cassette version of the album made by an outraged fan.

I'm back...

Finally back home after nearly 3 weeks of vacationing. I'm trying to post lots of stuff that popped up on the net since I've been gone, but a good deal of it will fall through the cracks. You'll find the highlights around these parts for the next couple of days though. I'm also going to try and get up reviews for We Own the Night and Elizabeth: The Golden Age in the next day or so and also for The Darjeeling Limited and Lust, Caution by the end of the week. So stay tuned.

Black Lips - "Boomerang" (Live from Tijuana)

Before this year, the Black Lips were known more for their chaotic live shows than their records, and here's one of the reasons why. Recorded live in TJ, this promo video for the Lips' fabulous live record
Los Valientes Del Mundo Nuevo, is visual proof that, yes, Black Lips will do just about anything. Of course this is old news now as the Lips have silenced the naysayers and released a great new studio record called Good Bad Not Evil (both out on Vice). So that's 2 quality records in a single year. Buy both.

Justice - "D.A.N.C.E." (Live on Jimmy Kimmel)

If you haven't seen this already, you are probably living under a rock or something, but just in case.
I mean, this has to be the best late night TV appearance of all time, right?

Walk Hard Trailer + One Sheet

Okay, if that poster doesn't make you laugh, I swear to god you aren't alive. Movie's probably gonna suck, but who cares, LOOK AT THAT POSTER.

Charlie Wilson's War Trailer

Here's the long awaited debut of sight unseen Oscar front runner Charlie Wilson's War. It looks a little more light hearted than I though it would, but you never know, this is only the trailer. It could pack an emotional punch. In any case, Phil Hoffman looks awesome.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Sexiest Woman Alive?

Who am I to argue with Esquire, and to be fair, Charlize Theron is gorgeous, but "The Sexiest Woman Alive"? I don't know, I would have gone with Sienna Miller or Kate Beckinsale. But that's just me; to each his own I suppose. Oh, and don't forget to catch Charlize in Paul Haggis' In the Valley of Elah (she's an actress remember?).


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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Race for the Prize 10/9/07

As I prepare for yet another vacation, I leave you with the latest "Race for the Prize" column, monitoring the years Oscar Race. Much has changed in the week or so since my last predictions, most notably the buzz for P.T. Anderson's There Will Be Blood. Reviews have begun to trickle in, with more than one critic comparing it Citizen f'n Kane. Such lofty comparisons could prove deadly, but as of right now, it registers as buzz. Into the Wild and Michael Clayton have all taken slight jumps as well, mostly on the acting side of things, but also in the writing categories. The wild card is still Charlie Wilson's War however, which is set to have it's trailer released tonight. No one knows a thing about it besides the impressive pedigree, which alone should keep it afloat until the critics weigh in. It'll be interesting to see what happens with the Coen Brothers' No Country for Old Men, which along with There Will Be Blood, should end up the best reviewed film of the year. Will the Academy turn their heads at the violence? I think that The Departed proved that they could take it, but are they willing to let the brothers back into the fold? It reeks of a film that could pull the lone director nomination. And Kris Tapley at Incontention has been the first to mention Denzel Washington's directorial effort The Great Debaters as a contender. Could this be another Million Dollar Baby-esque last minute entry? I need to see some more solid buzz before I give it a spot, but it is worth noting.

Main Category Predictions as of 10/9/07

Best Picture:
1. Atonement
2. There Will Be Blood
3. Charlie Wilson's War
The Kite Runner
5. Into the Wild

Five On the Fringe:
No Country for Old Men
American Gangster
Sweeney Todd
The Diving Bell and Butterfly NEW

Dropped Out:
Michael Clayton

Best Director:
1. Paul Thomas Anderson - There Will Be Blood
2. Joe Wright - Atonement
3.Mike Nichols - Charlie Wilson's War
4. Joel and Ethan Coen - No Country for Old Men
5. Sean Penn - Into the Wild

Five of the Fringe:

Marc Forster - The Kite Runner
Ridley Scott - American Gangster
Tim Burton - Sweeney Todd
Julian Schnabel - The Diving Bell and Butterfly NEW
Jason Reitman - Juno NEW

Dropped Out:
Andrew Dominik - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
David Cronenberg - Eastern Promises

Best Actor:
1. Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will Be Blood
2. Tom Hanks - Charlie Wilson's War
3.James McAvoy - Atonement
4. Emile Hirsche - Into the Wild
5. Johnny Depp - Sweeney Todd

Five on the Fringe:
Phillip Seymour Hoffman - The Savages or Before the Devil Knows Your Dead
Tommy Lee Jones - In the Valley of Elah
Denzel Washington - American Gangster
George Clooney - Michael Clayton
Viggo Mortenson - Eastern Promises

Best Actress:
1. Keira Knightley - Atonement
2. Ellen Page - Juno
3. Cate Blanchett - Elizabeth: The Golden Age
4. Julie Christie - Away from Her
5. Marion Cotillard - La Vie En Rose

Five on the Fringe:
Laura Linney - The Savages
Angelina Jolie - A Mighty Heart
Halle Berry - Things We Lost in the Fire
Helena Bonham Carter - Sweeney Todd NEW
Jodie Foster - The Brave One

Dropped Out:
Nicole Kidman - Margot at the Wedding

Best Supporting Actor:
1. Javier Bardem - No Country for Old Men
2. Hal Holbrook - Into the Wild
3. Phillip Seymour Hoffman - Charlie Wilson's War
4. Phillip Boscoe - The Savages
5. Tom Wilkinson - Michael Clayton

Five on the Fringe:
Casey Affleck - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Paul Dano - There Will Be Blood
Russell Crowe - American Gangster
Max Von Sydow - The Diving Bell and Butterfly NEW
Benicio Del Toro - Things We Lost in the Fire

Dropped out:
Armin Mueller-Stahl - Eastern Promises

Best Supporting Actress:
1. Cate Blanchett - I'm Not There
2. Vanessa Redgrave - Atonement
3. Saoirse Ronan - Atonement
4. Jennifer Jason Leigh - Margot at the Wedding
5.Amy Ryan - Gone Baby Gone

Five on the Fringe:
Abbie Cornish - Elzabeth: The Golden Age NEW
Romola Garai - Atonement
Susan Sarandon - In the Valley of Elah
Tilda Swinton - Michael Clayton
Meryl Streep - Lions for Lambs NEW

Dropped Out:
Helena Bonham Carter - Sweeney Todd (now campaigning for lead actress)
Catherine Keener - Into the Wild

Best Original Screenplay:
1. The Savages
2. Juno
3. Once
4. I'm Not There
5. Michael Clayton

Five on the Fringe:
Margot at the Wedding
Eastern Promises
Things We Lost in the Fire

Best Adapted Screenplay:
1. Atonement
2. There Will Be Blood
3. No Country for Old Men
4. Charlie Wilson's War
5. The Kite Runner

Five on the Fringe:
Into the Wild
The Diving Bell and Butterfly
In the Valley of Elah
American Gangster
Lust, Caution NEW

Dropped Out:
he Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

IDA's 25 Best Documentaries

The International Documentary Association has released their list of the best documentary films ever made. I've seen a good majority of these films, and I can't really argue with the results. My only complaint would be the absence of Heart of Darkness, one of the most acclaimed films ever made, documentary or otherwise. My favorite doc is still probably Grizzly Man though. Or wait, I love Hoop Dreams too. And Crumb and Capturing the Friedman's changed the way I perceive documentary film making. And Roger & Me rules too. And on that note, there are 3 (!) Michael Moore movies on this list. I wouldn't be surprise if Sicko cracked a similar list in the coming years. To say the least, I don't envy the people who had to narrow down their lists. Thanks to Awards Daily for the tip.

Here's the complete list:

1. "Hoop Dreams," directed by Steve James, Peter Gilbert and Frederick Marx
2. "The Thin Blue Line," directed by Errol Morris
3. "Bowling for Columbine," directed by Michael Moore
4. "Spellbound," directed by Jeffery Blitz
5. "Harlan County USA," directed by Barbara Kopple
6. "An Inconvenient Truth," directed by Davis Guggenheim
7. "Crumb," directed by Terry Zwigoff's Crumb
8. "Gimme Shelter," directed by Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin
9. "The Fog of War," directed by Errol Morris
10. "Roger and Me," directed by Michael Moore
11. "Super Size Me," directed by Morgan Spurlock
12. "Don't Look Back," directed by DA Pennebaker
13. "Salesman," directed by Albert and David Maysles
14. "Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance," directed by Godfrey Reggio
15. "Sherman's March," directed by Ross McElwee
16. "Grey Gardens," directed by Albert and David Maysles, Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer
17. "Capturing the Friedmans," directed by Andrew Jarecki
18. "Born into Brothels," directed by Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski
19. "Titticut Follies," directed by Frederick Wiseman
20. "Buena Vista Social Club," directed by Wim Wenders
21. "Fahrenheit 9/11," directed by Michael Moore
22. "Winged Migration," directed by Jacques Perrin
23. "Grizzly Man," directed by Werner Herzog
24. "Night and Fog," directed by Alain Resnais
25. "Woodstock," directed by Michael Wadleigh

Arcade Fire - Kiss Off (Violent Femmes cover)

I know it's like a ghost town around here in regards to music posts, but I am drowning in the Oscar season, so don't expect too many music updates until my year-end lists, which will commence the first week of December. In the meantime though, here is another good band covering a great old song, following Subtle's rendition of Shellac's not-so-subtle "Prayer to God" from earlier this week. This time though it's those neon bible thumpers the Arcade Fire taking on the Violent Femmes' geeky-and-proud-of-it classic "Kiss Off" captured by a lucky soul after their performance at their Randall Island show, which happen to include be the insane triple bill of openers, Les Savy Fav, LCD Soundsystem and Blonde Redhead. From Forkcast via Brooklyn Vegan.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Subtle - Prayer to God (Shellac Cover)

I'm kind of in between vacations right now, but this it too good not to post. Here is a short clip of Subtle - the avant hip-hop/electro/rock/whatever band - covering Shellac's "Prayer to God", one of the most disturbing songs ever written. Subtle have a new record on the horizon (Oct. 23) with guests spots from members of TV on the Radio, The Notwist, Islands, Hood and others. Props to P4k for the tip.