Saturday, February 6, 2010

Review: The Lovely Bones

I wanted to punch every single person associated with this film, from the stupid people in it to the stupid people who made it to the stupid people who spent their money to make the book a #1 best seller.

There is no way that I can take Mark Wahlberg seriously anymore. I can't hear his voice without thinking of SNL skits: "Hey, Lovely Bones. How's it hanging? Say hello to your mother for me."

In the first few minutes, the ugly redheaded girl gets murdered. I was jealous, because...being dead...she did not have to sit through the next seven hours of penguin topiaries, rainbow sunsets, and collapsing gazebos.

At one point, the dead girl's sister risks her life to find the bad guy's Murder Book, which proves once and for all his guilt. She turns the book over to her grandmother.

And we never hear about it again.

It is also worth pointing out that about halfway into this cineturd, there is an extended "hilarious/crazy grandmother doing things her own way, damn what society thinks" montage. It is incredibly jarring. But sure takes our minds off all the rape and murder!

It's as if they took the "Say A Little Prayer" table singalong from "My Best Friend's Wedding" and dropped it into the middle of "Se7en."

Oh, and the bad guy gets his justice.




Least satisfying justice EVER.

Lots of messages here.

1. If your daughter is raped and murdered, just accept it. Or else you might get beaten mercilessly in a corn field by a horny teenager.

2. If your daughter is raped and murdered, and you are her mother, you should abandon your family and go pick avacados in California.

3. If your sister is raped and murdered, and you nearly die getting the evidence that will clearly convict the perpetrator, just hang on to it. Nobody will care about it.

4. If you are raped and have a lot to look forward to!

I hated this movie more than I hated this movie.

Rating: Minus infinity ignored Murder Books (out of plus infinity)

Review: Zombieland

"Zombieland" stars Jesse Eisenberg, the guy movie producers hire when they can't get Michael Cera.

Which is something to really consider, when you stop to think about the absolute crap that Michael Cera makes.

Anyway, this Eisenberg fellow was the cat who got all sorts of indie cred for sleepwalking through "Adventureland," a real snooze of a hipster b.s. film.

Don't let the similarity of the titles confuse you. Eisenberg's acting is so catatonic that you might think "Zombieland" is the sequel to "Adventureland," with a more accurate description of Jesse's approach to dramaturgy.

In spite of his lousy screen presence, "Zombieland" is fairly entertaining. Woody Harrelson is bat-s insane. The broad is sort of hot. And there is an extended cameo by a famous comedian - in what passes for funny these days. You know. Hey, look - it's that guy - coasting through some scenes, expecting us to laugh out of simple recognition - without really being (in retrospect) all that humorous.

But whatever.

Better than I thought it would be - especially after all the undeserved reach-arounds the media gave "Shaun of the Dead."

Rating: 3.5 Man alive - Woody Harrelson is just SO bald (out of 5)

Review: Amelia

Remember Amelia Earhart? She's famous because she could fly a plane, except for when it mattered.

She is best known for disappearing off the face of the earth. I dare you to name one other famous female aviator.

I am sure it is just a coincidence that the only woman pilot anybody knows achieved fame by being a terrible plane driver.

Yep. Coincidence.

Oh, this movie sucks worse at being entertaining than the real Amelia did at arriving at her destination.

Best quote of the film:

"He looks like Richard Gere." - the person I watched the movie with.

Oh. And it WAS Richard Gere.

Rating: Zero failed pilots who just happen to be female (out of 5)

Review: More Than A Game

"More Than A Game" tells the story of Lebron James' high school basketball team and their quest to win a bunch of state championships.

Spoiler: They do.

Entertaining enough sports doc. Fairly straightforward, with plenty of tales of young people overcoming adversity (drugs, violence, athletic disappointment, family problems, etc.).

The primary attraction is seeing baby 'Bron. Cool music. Happy ending.

Rating: 3 pampered hyper-entitled adolescents (out of 5)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Nails It

Every fool’s got a reason for feelin’ sorry for himself...

Three Things I Believe: Grammar

1. I believe one should always spell out the word "okay." OK seems so...unpleasant and gruff.

2. I believe in the serial/Oxford comma. Without it, one ends up thusly:

My favorite sandwiches are turkey, ham, pastrami and peanut butter.

That's ridiculous! Nobody likes pastrami AND peanut butter.

My favorite sandwiches are turkey, ham, pastrami, and peanut butter.

Much better!

(Aside: For the record, there is only one acceptable PB&J sandwich. Strawberry jelly + Jif Extra Crunchy on Honey Wheat. The end.)

3. I believe that when a word ends in S, the correct way to make it possessive is to add an apostrophe to the end. None of this new-fangled (probably socialist) apostrophe S nonsense.

Correct: That is Tomas' bobsled!

Incorrect: That is Tomas's bobsled!

(Aside: Another way to make it possessive is to let it see other words getting attention from attractive gerunds. Only then will it realize that you don't know what you've got until it's gone. Just ask Cinderella. The band, not the cartoon.)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Dear Barenaked Ladies

So, just to be're doing two shows in Florida, then heading straight to VANCOUVER?

Have You Heard the New Single "You Run Away?"

Head over to to listen to the new single "You Run Away" from the upcoming album "All in Good Time" coming March 23rd (Canada) and March 30th (US).
Upcoming Shows

2/6 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL - South Beach - Free Show!
2/6 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL - Broward County Convention Center - Buy Tix
2/16 - Vancouver, BC - BC Place (2010 Olympics Victory Ceremony) - Buy Tix
2/17 - Whistler, BC - Whislter Village - Free Show!
2/20 - Toronto, ON - Nathan Phillips Square - Free Show!
4/6 - Victoria, BC - Save On Foods Memorial Centre - On Sale Now
4/8 - Calgary, AB - Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium - On Sale Now
4/12 - Saskatoon, SK - TCU Place - On Sale Now
4/13 - Regina, SK - Conexus Arts Centre - On Sale Now
4/14 - Edmonton, AB - Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium - On Sale Now
4/17 - London, ON - John Labatt Centre - On Sale Now
4/20 - Kingston, ON - OLG 1000 Islands Casino Theatre @ K-Rock Centre - On Sale Now
4/24 - Halifax, NS - Metro Centre - On-Sale 1/30 @ 9AM
4/28 - Hamilton, ON - Hamilton Place Theatre - On Sale Now
4/30 - Montreal, QC - Metropolis - On-Sale 1/30 @ Noon
5/1 - Oshawa, ON - General Motors Centre - On Sale Now

The Prince William County Fairgrounds would be a great halfway concert venue!

It was good enough for President Obama. It's good enough for Canadians!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Review: The Boys Are Back

Ever had one of those days that almost seems it went too well? Like, you were tempting fate with your good fortune? The equivalent of racking up a triple double, or your birthday falling on Super Bowl Sunday, or having a beautiful woman call you out of the blue?

You feel as if everything's coming up're skipping down Michael Jackson's Billie Jean video light-up sidewalk. Or that you are hanging with Katrina and/or The Waves...walking on sunshine. Just whistling the 59th Street Bridge Song.

Feeling groovy.

Perfect day behind you, you settle in to watch what is billed as (reading from the Netflix envelope) a "touching and often hilarious tale..."

First off, that was most assuredly NOT the day I had. I had a pretty miserable day all the way around. So I could have used some hilarity.


The mother dies of cancer in the first five minutes.

The little boy announces to everyone who will listen "my mum's dead of the cancer."


There is screaming, crying, kids beating up their father, failed relationships, abandonment, and child endangerment.

Yeah. A real pick-me-up.

It ends with a car driving off into the distance. And on the bonus DVD commentary, Ol' Yeller, Bambi's mom, and Brian Piccolo discuss how it's the bleakest thing they've ever seen.

Clive Owen has made some amazing movies. This is one of them, in the sense that you will be amazed that you sat all the way through it without killing yourself.

Final Ranking: 1 Hurty-stomached Kurt Cobain

Welcome to the last big thing!

Tweet on me, tweeters.

In my next post, I will provide links to my Friendster and Xanga accounts.

But not Linkedin. Never, ever linkedin.

Top 10: Hall & Oates Hits

Who cares about album cuts. I'm all about the HITS, man. And here is the undisputable list of the Top 10 H&O songs of all time.

10. Adult Education
It isn't that great a song - it's produced to within an inch of its life. I simply include it to point out that despite pronouncing it two different ways (AH-dult, and uh-DULT), the word "adult" is not...repeat...NOT...a heteronym.

(Sorry. Showing off a bit.)

9. Method of Modern Love

"Damn it, Daryl...I'm sick and tired of doing nothing but 'ooh' this and 'ooh' that. I want to sing!"

(Snickering) "Okay, John. Why don't you stand in the corner and...uhh...just...spell the title of the song over and over again."

8. Kiss On My List
So the other day I sat down at the Starbucks, took out my moleskine notebook - you know, the one where I jot down my favorite Taking Back Sunday lyrics - and on the page opposite my ranking of favorite skinny jean manufacturers (THANK GOD for Hot Topic! Am I right?), I sketched out a list of the best things in life. You know what's on that list? If you insist on knowing my bliss...I tell you this.


7. Sara Smile
It's you. And me. FOREVER.

I would probably put this higher, but one of my least favorite people in the world is named Sara, and just hearing the name sometimes makes me throat vomit.

6. Maneater
The snare just hits. What you think? You get it for free? HA! YOU DON'T KNOW THIS MANEATER, MY FRIEND!

In putting together this list, I realize that almost every H&O song has some derivation of "ooooooooh" in it. This is no exception. I guess they had to give Oates something to do.

5. Rich Girl
Classic old-school. Funky keyboard sound and guitar sound.

It is SO easy to hurt others when you can't feel pain. And you know what else? Right is right: You ARE a bitch, girl! Oates is at the top of his game! Just listen to his "ooooooooohs." Delicious.

4. Everytime You Go Away
Sure, the Paul Young version was the hit, but this remains one of my all time faves. Truth be told, the PY version is a lot better, but I have to give H&O props for writing it...and the gospel-style backing vocals. A much slower burn.

And the Paul Young version...TAKE IT!

3. Private Eyes
You can't read a reflection on 80's pop without suffering through some exhausting masturbatory take on the claustrophobic tension of The Police's "Every Breath You Take." Yawn. You want creepy? Hows about DARYL FREAKING HALL happily chirping about how HE IS WATCHING YOU?

But don't panic. He's a spy...but on your side, you see!

2. She's Gone
The funky intro. The slinky vocals that slide along the groove...until they ERUPT IN A PLAINTIVE WAIL. You know why he's sad? Because SHE'S GONE. OH I! OH I!
Believe it, mister.

1. You Make My Dreams
Let the word go forth from this time and place...this is an absolute pop classic. "Like a flame burns a candle...the candle feeds the flame." It's like Keats! Except Keats never had transcendant "ooh you...ooh ooh"s. So, to summarize, suck it John Keats. Cause make-a my dreams come true!

I couldn't in good conscience include this as a H&O hit, since it's not their work, but one of the most underrated albums of the 1980s was their "Live At The Apollo." It features an 11-minute medley with Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin:

Apollo Medley: Get Ready/Ain't Too Proud To Beg/The Way You Do the Things You Do/My Girl

Can't embed it, but you HAVE to hear this one. Classic Motown, plus Oates "ooooh"-ing it up! We can all sing this one!

I'm all about the Top 10 lists. Name a band - or whatever - and I will drop science with defiance because I HAVE NO ALLIANCE.

Leave a comment.

Review: St. Trinian's

Is it possible to review a movie after watching only seven minutes of it?

Answer: Yes.

St. Trinian's is a colossal crapstorm. It's British.

But I repeat myself.

The dialogue is horrendus, the "humor" big and broad (girl runs into door, cartoonishly slides down), and Russell Brand plays some sort of drug dealer who employs tween schoolgirls as his mules.

Or something.

One thing DID make me quite happy: The satisfying feeling of pressing the EJECT button on the ol' DVD player.

Final Ranking: Zero Socialized Medicines

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Review: I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell

A couple years ago, my brother MPR sent me an email recommending I read Tucker Max's "I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell." It definitely has some hilarious moments. However, what makes you laugh in print can make you cringe in real life.

Tucker Max is a douchebag - the way he talks to people would get him repeatedly pummelled. Everyone is too clever by half, spouting overconstructed lines like an Bonaroo asshat Gilmore Girls. Nobody talks like that in real life - especially douchebags. They just talk like douchebags.

The film version is a huge departure from the book. All the hilarious vignettes are scrapped for what is meant to be a redemptive arc of Tucker (and his friends) finding out what's really important in life. There are long stretches where the Tucker character disappears completely.

Ugh. It's like making a movie of the New Testament where Jesus only appears for a few minutes, and at the end he retires to a villa in Cancun.

Stick with the book. This movie reeks more than the final toilet-clogging sequence.

Final Ranking: 1 Popped Collar (out of 5)

Review: Michael Jackson's This Is It

Sure, I was in the midst of (another) existential crisis, but I found myself quite moved watching "This Is It."

Yes. MJ was a wackjob. Set aside his personal sins, and just watch this for the entertainment. Even at 50 years old, he is in fine voice, and his dance moves are ridiculous.

And of course, the music is EPIC.

Watching his rehearse for his London shows MADE ME WANT TO SEE THE CONCERT. The concepts were amazing. The song choice was inspired. There is only one poor musical selection - some crazy Peter Pan sunshine and daisies song about hugging Mother Nature or trees or something.

I just kept thinking: Man. So sad. So Sad. SO SAD.

An amazing talent - which is really the only context in which you should watch the film. I loved it.

Final Ranking: 4.5 Emmanuel Lewises (out of 5)

Two-Word Movie Reviews: Hello 2010!

A quick digest of the Netflix movies I've seen since the start of 2010. All rankings are out of 5.

Week of 1/4
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: Boring. Typical. 2.5 Veal Chunks.
50 Dead Men Walking: Interesting. Confusing. 3 Car Bombs.
The Hip Hop Project: Hippity. Hoppity. 1 Pimp Cups.
Trucker: Surprising. Slinky. 3.5 Bastard Children.

Week of 1/11
In The Loop: Talky. West-Wingy. 4 Walk And Talks.
Big Fan: Intense. Crazified. 4 Beat Downs.
Post Grad: Mind numbing. 1 Predictable Soulsucking.
The Hurt Locker: Brilliant. Compelling. 5 You Should Not Have Pulled That Red Wires.
Amreeka: Foreign. Subtitled. 1 Stopped Watching 10 Minutes in.
Moon: Trippy. Mind-bendy. 4 Hidden Clonemen.

The Cove: Sad. Dolphiny. 4 No More Filet O' Fish For Me.

Week of 1/18
No Impact Man: Bland. Self-absorbed. 1 Take A Shower You Damn Hippies.
Outrage: Gay. Political. 5 Charlie Crist Sure Has Some Stories To Tell (Wink).
My Fuhrer: Hitlerish. Comedy. 3 Hogan's Heroes.

Week of 1/25 (So far)
Surrogates: Robotic. Loud. 2 Even An Idealized Bruce Willis Is Still Ugly.
Soul Power: Funky. Misleading. 1.5 Jesus Just Get To The Music.

Coming up: More thorough reviews of This Is It, I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell, St. Trinian's, and The Boys Are Back.

Game Change

I consume a lot of media. I am a degenerate Netflixer - My stats say I have rated 2,922 films. That is a whole lot of wasted life. On my coffee table is a stack of books I've been meaning to read - I've just never had the time.

It took me 11 months to figure it out, but I finally realized last month that I can read while riding the ol' stationary bike. As a result of this long-delayed (some might say painfully obvious) epiphany, I have read more books in 30 days than I did all of last year. Ninety minutes of dedicated reading: Nice.

Since I watch and read so much, I might as well post my thoughts on what I view and read. At the very least, it will serve as a record of how I allow terrible things to rip my life away.

But it's a great escape.

This afternoon I finished Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime. My favorite books pull back the curtain on how things work - as you will see from the next two books I read. "Game Change" is a quick read detailing the inner workings of the two DEM and GOP campaigns in the 2008 election. There are some pretty salacious tidbits, mostly having to do with the behavior of the Clintons and the vapidity of Sarah Palin.

(If you already thought she was brain dead and hopelessly out of her have NO IDEA.)

The best part is that the book humanizes politicians, allowing you to see them in a way their media handlers prefer never be made public. Excitingly, the final paragraph takes place at the Prince William Fairgrounds here in Manassas - where 90,000 people turned out to see Obama's final campaign speech before the election.

I give "Game Change" 3.5 Stump Speeches (out of 5).

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Invention of Lying

Last year, I spent several months writing The History Geek column for I enjoyed it to a certain extent - but found myself limited by the subject matter.

As much as I love history, I needed a place to opine on more than the shoddy care received by President Garfield. And since it isn't monetized, I can do what I want, when I want.

So here you will find my thoughts on music, movies, history, relationships, life, the universe, and nothing. I guarantee bitterness and cynicism, the profound and the stupid, the profane and the sincere.

If you like what you read, pass along the link. Add it to your aggregator (I'm a fan of google reader). Post links on Facebook. Tweet!

And so forth.