Anders Bergstrom's blog on Words, Films, and Music

Monday, August 28, 2006

Just a heads up that they're streaming the new Bob Dylan album, Modern Times over at AOL Music.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Here goes Sean Penn again, following in his Mystic River mode. Translation: taking an otherwise really good-looking film and ruining it with his "realistic acting" and a laughable accent. Check out the trailer for All the King's Men.

No joke, Penn's accent reminds me of Bob Odenkirk's southern right-wing Senator Tankerbell from HBO's Mr. Show with Bob and David. Of course, Penn wouldn't get the joke. He had his sense of humour removed during a fund-raiser for Iraqi Hurricane victims.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Fall movie season is finally upon us. Common wisdom holds that summer is full of big, dumb films that are meant to appeal to the lowest common denominator and that with fall comes the serious Oscar contenders and critical favourites. People who know me also know that I sometimes like those big summer films as much as the fall ones, but this year has really disappointed and lived up to the stereotypes of summer dreck. Only a handful of pictures really satisfied me (Pirates of the Caribbean 2, M:I-3, A Scanner Darkly) and many of the one's I was looking forward to were trainwrecks or at least mildly disappointing (Superman Returns, X3, Nacho Libre). The fall however brings great promise with lots of interesting premises, great directors and great actors/actresses getting into the game. Here's a few of the one's I'm looking forward to each month, and until then I'm going to go see Snakes on a Plane and at least get intentional laughs out of a big dumb movie.

September seems to be the month of "true crime" thrillers based in Hollywood. Hollywoodland looks at the mysterious death of George Reeves (Ben Affleck), while The Black Dahlia is directed by Brian DePalma and has a screenplay from the writer of L.A. Confidential that explores the famous "Black Dahlia" murder.

But it's not all murder in September; The Last Kiss sees Zach Braff return to drama-comedy for young adults in this film penned by Paul Haggis. And Beatles buffs like myself will want to see the documentary The U. S. Vs. John Lennon which explores how Lennon's politics were opposed by the United States government in the late-Seventies, reminiscent of the book John Lennon and the FBI Files.

For more esoteric fare, there's this uniquely animated action thriller starring the new Bond, Daniel Craig, called Renaissance. Or check out director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) in The Science of Sleep.

October is when the big directors start dropping their films. In her follow up to Lost in Translation, Sofia Coppola takes us back to eighteenth-century France with Marie Antoinette starring Kirsten Dunst. Martin Scorsese, who is always exciting, tackles this remake of the Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs called The Departed starring Scorsese's new go to guy Leonardo DiCaprio along with Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, Mark Wahlberg, and Matt Damon. What a cast! This is probably one of my most anticpated films of the year along with Christopher Nolan's The Prestige, which I've commented on before. This cast is equally crazy with Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Michael Caine, and Scarlett Johansson. Which film will end up thrilling? Let's hope both.

Clint Eastwood directs and Steven Spielberg produces what is likely one of the sure fire Oscar contenders, Flags of Our Fathers. Eastwood's story of the Battle of Iwo Jima is the first of a two part project which then looks at the Japanese side later in another film, titled either Letters from IwoJima or Red Sun, Black Sand (I've heard both titles thrown about). Pretty ambitious project, but not really doubting it will be good with those two names attached.

Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential, Wonder Boys) brings us a poker film starring Eric Bana called Lucky You and the director of Amores Perros and 21 Grams, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, gives us
Babel starring Brad Pitt.

contains a good mix of comedy, drama, Oscar contenders and action flicks. We start laughing with the brilliant satirist Sascha Baron Cohen (Ali G) in Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. If you haven't seen Borat yet and been inundated with your friends quoting him, stay away from me and my brothers in November.
Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny should also be a good laugh, as Jack Black and Kyle Gass bring the greatest band in the world to the big screen. And then Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, and Dustin Hoffman star in Stranger Than Fiction from the director of Finding Neverland in a plot worthy of Charlie Kaufman.

A Good Year reunites Russell Crowe with Ridley Scott in this story of a London businessman in Provence. Also in November, Richard Linklater releases his second film of the year (the first being A Scanner Darkly), Fast Food Nation in the adaptation of the non-fiction bestseller. Then Christopher Guest and company bring us another mockumentary For Your Consideration and this time also starring the brilliant Ricky Gervais (BBC's The Office).

The big blockbuster of the month is the revival of the James Bond franchise with Casino Royale, which I am feeling enthusiastic about. Daniel Craig's James Bond looks to take the character in a new direction, while still feeling like Ian Flemming's classic character. Also, Darren Aronofsky (Requim for a Dream) finally gets to release his long in gestation sci-fi epic The Fountain. It looks great.

December has a mix of films as well, including the seasonal films like Catherine Hardwicke (thirteen, Lords of Dogtown) directing the Whale Rider star Keisha Castle-Hughes as Mary the mother of Jesus in The Nativity Story. The guy who last brought the Bible to the cineplex has instead turned his attention to the story of the ancient Mayan culture in Mel Gibson's Apocalypto.

Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney reteam for The Good German which I know very little about, but the fact that those two are involved is enough to make me interested. And director Edward Zwick (The Last Samurai) directs Leo and Djimon Honsou in Blood Diamond.

Will Smith tries his dramatic chops again as a single father in The Pursuit of Happyness which looks pretty good to me. And Jamie Foxx tries to do for Beyonce what Ray did for him in the musical drama Dreamgirls.

Finally on Christmas day we get Clive Owen starring in Alfonso Cuaron's new film The Children of Men which gives us a fascinating apocolyptic future where people are unable to conceive children. We also have Oscar bait starring Ewan McGregor, Renee Zellweger, and Emily Watson in the biopic about the Peter Rabbit author, Miss Potter.

It should be a good fall with that line up. At least it will keep me busy, and probably therefore blogging as well. Get your Oscar predictions ready, because it's going to be a good fall for movies.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

TV On The Radio's new album, Return to Cookie Mountain is among the best new albums I've heard so far in 2006.

I had the opportunity to see them last fall in Seattle when they opened for Franz Ferdinand. They were good, but this new studio album is a big step forward. This is a big sounding experimental rock album, full of layers, distortion, and atmosphere - but not obtusely so, like so many of indie rock bands.

The band's arrangement with a major label (this is their Interscope debut), has also afforded them the opportunity to have David Bowie provide backing vocals on "Province"; but the song holds its own, the rock legend's vocals merely providing the icing on the cake.

If there is one song that defines this album it is "Wolf Like Me," the first single and fifth track off the album. It's sonically dense and engaging with a barrage of noise, but it's also a straight up, hard rocking single that should be seeing more radio play than it has been getting.

Definitely check out TV On The Radio, it's a great late summer album to put on when you're tired of dancing your feet off, but still want to rock out a little bit before the end.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

This (long overdue) post is in response to my good buddy Luke's concerns about one of my favourite food products here.

Now, I haven't seen the ad in question, but the fact is that when one claims that Nutella is "FREAKING CHOCOLATE," that is inaccurate. Nutella is a HAZELNUT spread that contains cocoa as one of the ingredients. In fact, cocoa is fourth on the list of ingredients. The jar that I'm looking at says it contains 106 roasted hazelnuts, 1 3/4 cups of skim milk...and "a hint of delicious cocoa."


According to Wikipedia (which granted may not be a perfect source), Nutella isn't chocolate but an Italian confection called gianduja made by blending chocolate and hazelnut paste. And apparently cocoa makes up only 7.4 % of the mixture. Hard pressed to call it "chocolate."

Ok, now I'm having a wee bit of fun with Luke here in my "defense" of Nutella, but I would imagine that my prime concern with giving Nutella to a child EVERYDAY wouldn't be that it has cocoa (or chocolate) in it, but rather that the most abundant ingredient in Nutella is...sugar. But so are many peanut butters and cereals in the same camp.

But then again, I eat Nutella nearly everyday and I can attest to my own good health and slim size, so maybe the ad isn't lying...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

What I'm currently listening to:

Shoegazer Mix AKA A Short History of the Genre, 1990 - 2005 (Thanks to Kwaya Na Kisser via Opuszine)

Galaxie 500, "Here She Comes Now"
Ride, "Vapour Trail"
My Bloody Valentine, "Come In Alone"
Swervedriver, "Rave down"
Drop Nineteens, "Delaware"
Catherine Wheel, "I Want to Touch You"
The Lilys, "Claire Hates Me"
Slowdive, "Some Velvet Morning"
The Boo Radleys, "Lazarus"
The Verve, "Weeping Willow"
Brian Jonestown Massacre, "Jennifer"
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, "Shade of Blue"
Autolux, "Turnstyle Blues"
Engineers, "Let's Just See"

The CDs currently piled on my desk as I work on my Master's Essay:

Editors - The Back Room
Elbow - Cast of Thousands
Goldfrapp - Supernature
The Libertines - s/t
U2 - Zooropa
U2 - Pop
U2 - Boy
The Stone Roses - s/t
She Wants Revenge - s/t
Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere
Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
Elbow - Leaders of the Free World
Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde
Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisted
Jeff Buckley - Grace
The Jesus and Mary Chain - Psychocandy
Joy Division - Substance
U2 - October
Madonna - Ray of Light
The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead
Pulp - Different Class
LCD Soundsystem - s/t
Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Jacksonville City Nights
Kanye West - Late Registration
Sigur Ros - Takk...
The Smiths - Meat Is Murder
The Strokes - First Impressions of Earth
Jets Overhead - Bridges
Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
Joy Division - Closer
Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures
The Organ - Grab That Gun
Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better
Depeche Mode - Violater
The Darkness - One Way Ticket To Hell...And Back
Metric - Live It Out
Metric - Old World Underground

Friday, July 14, 2006

For my artist friends.

This is just so much fun, and beautiful.

I finally got around to seeing Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest last night. After a summer of disappointing films it was nice to have a film that was nothing but fun from beginning to end. By far the best movie of the summer thus far. Really, there aren't too many films this summer that I was dying to see anyway, at least compared to summers past.

Speaking of films that I'm dying to see, here's the trailer for what may be my most anticipated film of the year. Christopher Nolan. Hugh Jackman. Christian Bale. Michael Caine. AND Scarlett Johansson. Based on a book that I read and really enjoyed, here is The Prestige.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Am I Predisposed to Not Like the new Superman film?

NOTE: I have not yet seen the film and this is just based on what I've seen and read, and what I, as a long time comic book fan, would like to see in a Superman film. If Singer's film delivers, I will happily eat my words and admit I was wrong.

I'm getting the impression from some that people might think I'm against Superman Returns without going to see it. This is not entirely true. Oh, of course I'm going to see it, and I'm sure I'll enjoy it (like Luke said on his blog, it's gotta be better than X-Men: The Last Stand, right?).

I'm not even saying I think it's going to be a bad movie. It's just that from everything I've read and seen, Singer's vision of Superman is not what I would do if I was making the film. I just don't think that making this a psuedo-sequel to the first two Chris Reeve films is a good idea. Why handicap yourself and tie yourself to continuity that way. Especially a continuity that, nostalgia aside, had some pretty stupid elements to it that took away from the epic feel of Superman (e.g. Otis, turning back time, amnesia kisses, levitation beams?). I think that the series could have used a fresh start like Christopher Nolan did with the Batman films. Though, I guess I would keep John Williams iconic Superman theme. That I'll give Singer. Good idea.

Heck, if I was going to make a Superman film with a $250 million dollar budget, I'd go back to Byrne's 1986 Man of Steel mini-series and use that as a basis for a screenplay with a few modifications. Here's what I'd put in the film. A Luthor who is a legitimit threat -- a billionaire scientist with the tech to actually take on Superman, and whom the world trusts and loves, and who's lust for power and glory makes Supes a rival. A love triangle for Superman and Lois -- involving Luthor no less; I know this was done on Lois & Clark but it worked. Not killing off Pa Kent, as the love of his adopted parents is what helps keep Clark grounded in the human world. Those are just a few things that I would work into a film.

As for casting, I cast a Superman who's a bit older than Brandon Routh. Superman can't look like a kid. We already have a young, inexperienced hero -- his name is Spider-man. Routh's age wouldn't be a problem, but if we're to believe that this is the Superman from the first two films who's been away for 5 years shouldn't he be like in his mid-thirties at least? That said, I do like the idea of casting a non-movie star in the role. I really can't see any of today's Hollywood elite as Superman, and then he brings no baggage to the role (I'll give Singer this, Routh makes me much happier than Burton's ill-concieved idea of casting Nicholas Cage in the role).

As for supporting cast, I'm looking forward to seeing what Kevin Spacey does with the role; I hope he takes Luthor and really goes with it, because the last thing I want to see is a Luthor in the vein of most of Spacey's roles; you know, the self-righteous, soft spoken guy who's just so smug. I want a Luthor with a bit of kick to him. I was thinking, "who would I cast?" and I came up with what I think would be a really interesting bit of casting: Ed Harris! Just think, he's got the aggressive, intelligent, determined thing going for him. He can play great villians, and we're used to seeing him bald anyway so that wouldn't be a distraction for people (like Spacey's egghead is). I think Ed Harris as Luthor would kick ass!

Now for the most important casting decision: Lois Lane. I'm sorry, I don't know if I'll be able to buy Kate Bosworth as a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. Lois has to be not just beautiful, but someone who you believe could track down a story, who could win the heart of the most powerful men on earth through her energy and aggression. I always thought that Terri Hatcher was the best Lois in any of the live action incarnations. She was easily the best part about the Lois & Clark show. But her time has passed, and she's now known to most as one of those Wisteria Lane women. Why not go after another TV actress, an up and coming starlet who I think would do a good job playing both a gutsy and beautiful Lois Lane. Why not Evangeline Lilly from LOST? I think she would do a fine job. What do you think?

With the right casting and the budget that Singer had, I'm positive we could have a definitive take on the Superman myth. But we have what we have, and I guess I'm going to have to see it for myself this week.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Well, I'm almost half way done my essay at the moment, and it seems to be coming together alright (I don't feel like I'm stretching my material at all).

I recieved an invitation from my friend Ryan Fisher to attend Superman Returns. I'm still not sold, as the reviews come pouring in. I'm very skeptical of how marrying the new film to the old films will work. I have a feeling it will be awkward. The fact is that the Superman comics are much more interesting than the old films (for example, why have Luthor be a crook who has to come into possession of his fortune. He's much more interesting in the comics as a multi-billionaire whom the public thinks is a good guy). I guess I'll know for sure how I feel on Thursday night.

That said, here's a film that I'm sold on from the beginning. This looks good. Real good.

Forget Superman. SPIDER-MAN RETURNS!!!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Well, it's been a week now since The Loss. And it's been ages and ages since I posted anything on this blog. And I'm working on the final essay for the final class of my MA program. Victoria has been HOT lately! In excess of 30° and wonderfully sunny. I spent most of Saturday at the beach reading and getting a nice tan/burn. Of course, beach weather interfers with one's concentration when you're trying to get a paper done for Wednesday. The papers not due until Friday, but I'll be back in Saskatoon on Thursday morning so I figured I might want to get it done before then.


A few thoughts on the Oilers. Now it was a glorious--and more importantly UNEXPECTED--ride to the Stanley Cup , which makes the ending that much more sad. Why? Well, given the state of things, you never know when they're going to be able to repeat that again. In the "new NHL," basically every team is competitive and could make a similar run if the stars align properly. It's both the hope and the frusteration of any fan hoping to see their team make regular runs at the silver. You have to enjoy it when it happens. So with that said, I'm getting over it. Really.

However, Edmonton Oilers fans can now move on to the fact that our "Conn Smythe candidate" defenseman, Chris Pronger, has requested a trade from Edmonton for "personal family considerations." Translation: his wife doesn't like Edmonton and would like to move out east. Harsh blow: lose the cup, now possibly lose your franchise player?

Things are not nearly a dismal as it might seem though. Pronger has just finished the first year of a 5 yr, $ 6.25 million a year deal with the Oilers. He's just come off a Playoff MVP quality post-season run. He's arguably one of the best defenseman in the league. So what's that hope I'm talking about? The hope is that Pronger is a huge bargaining chip for Oilers GM Kevin Lowe (and that story says that the calls are already pouring in). Lowe, known for being one of the shrewdest GMs in the league, knows this and this makes the next week fairly exciting for the prospects of making the team strong.

Of course player Free Agency begins on July 1st, and Lowe is going to want to re-sign a few of the key players that are UFAs this summer; prime among those I would imagine are Pisani and Roloson. Of course, the signing of Roloson and what happens among other teams on July 1st is going to make a big difference in the decision that Lowe makes.

Firstly, if Roloson doesn't re-sign with the Oilers, filling the space between the pipes is going to be Lowe's first concern. Barring that, Lowe's concern is going to be getting fair market value for Pronger. Now, Pronger wants to move out east, so those are the teams to be looking at for this deal. The reports are that Toronto is interested in Pronger, and the offer of Kaberle and Steen has been thrown out there. Now, Kaberle would be ok for shoring up the defense of the Oil, but neither of these guys are really on the level of Pronger (I'd be more interested in McKabe). For me, the more interesting move would be to make a deal with Ottawa. Both of Ottawa's star defensemen are UFAs this summer, and if Ottawa fails to sign Chara and Redden, they could be very interested in Pronger. I think that if this happens that Havlat/Heatley/or Spezza and a defensemen like Phillips could be a good option for Edmonton.

The next week or so should be very interesting for a lot of teams.


Last night I re-watched Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction with a couple of friends and it just reiterated how great a film it is in my mind.

It's such a cliche to say such a thing, but the film honestly just cracks with energy, despite the fact that it's a two-and-a-half-hour film that is very dialogue heavy. But Tarantino makes the most of this with his outstanding cast. Just about ever actor is perfect for their role, and brings so much to their portrayals.

Take Uma Thurman's Mia Wallace (above). Not only does she handle the QT's dialogue in a way that never seems forced or contrived, but she brings all the little things to the role that make it memorable. The tension between Mia and Vincent throughout the entire chapter is apparent, just in the way she moves her eyes, or drags on her cigarette. It's no wonder QT brought her back as The Bride in Kill Bill.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Apologies for the long time between posts.

Anyway, anyone who was dissapointed/enraged by X-Men: The Last Stand should check out this hilarious webcomic: "X-Facts! The 'X-Men' comics vs. 'X-Men: The Last Stand.'" Hilarious!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Oh wow! Anton! Aren! Everyone! I've been wanting to see this for ages and now here it is. Any Star Wars fans should make sure they watch this! YouTube can be an amazing power for good!

Presenting, the Biggs-Luke Anchorhead scene that many claim was in the film with some prints in the original 1977 release of Star Wars.

(Thanks to Peter Chattaway for noticing this first.)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Oilers won! What a fantastic game. I was ecstatic. Being down 3-1 in the middle of the third and then coming back to win 6-3 is a wild game. A great performance by all the Oilers. Be sure to check out the highlight reel to see Samsonov's crazy goal coming out of the penalty box, picking up a huge bounce and stealing it away from Toskala to tuck it into the empty net.

Of course one of the great things about living on the west coast here is that games finish up relatively early, allowing one to do other things with one's evening. I was in the mood to celebrate, but everyone was either out of town or not doing anything. What does that mean I'm likely to do? Hey, it's summer movie season! I'm going to the theatre.


When you watch a movie and a character has to hold their breath underwater, do you ever catch yourself holding your breath along with them? Well, then Poseidon might not be the best movie for you.

Based on the novel and the 1972 disaster flick The Poseidon Adventure, starring Gene Hackmen and Shelley Winters, Wolfgang Peterson's new film is a solid summer film. The cast performs admirably for what is expected of them, but there is the slight case of knowing who is going to live at the end and who will die (Hint: Lucky Larry may not be so lucky).

But overall, while it's nothing profound, Poseidon is better than the original film and doesn't outstay its welcome. Peterson spends less than 20 minutes setting up the characters and situation before we are plunged (pun intended) into non-stop thrills and suspense, as our group of heroes attempt to find their way out of the doomed ocean liner that has been flipped on its back (as Dreyfus's character Nelson points out, "these ships aren't built to stay afloat upside down"). The movie's runtime is a brisk 99 min: short for this genre. But it's just enough to enjoy the heroics and special effects, which are impressive given that the Poseidon was created entirely in CGI. Everything is convincing and suitably impressive.

Sure the film falls into cliches at times (one particular sequence I like to call "the Armageddon moment" could be seen a mile away, and of course the loner gambler (Josh Lucas) is going to fall for the single mom and her precocious son). And really, some people in the audience may not be interested in seeing such large scale destruction for mere entertainment. But if you're looking for a good suspense action movie that's something different from superheroes or spies this summer, Poseidon isn't a bad choice.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

One last post for today. HALO 3 TRAILER!!!

It's no secret that I love dogs. Dog stories are one of those things that can make me all sentimental (ok, I guess I can be a sentimental person over a lot of things...).

Anyway, you all need to check out this crazy story about "Faith, the bipedal dog" who walks about on her two hind legs because she doesn't have front legs. It's amazing. I didn't believe it until I saw this video (care of YouTube and Montel Williams). Wow. Amazing what a creature can do when it's necessary for survival.

Guess who's on the TIME 100 list this year? The man who had the guts to do his bit right infront of the President. The guy who gives us not the facts, but truthiness. That's right: Stephen Colbert.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

As they say in Star Wars land, "This will be a day long rememebered." Basically all the old school Star Wars fans can just shut up with the complaints and allegations that Lucas has been trying to bury the original Star Wars films and replace them with his what-they-see-as-inferior versions. Well, we can all cheer and celebrate the love, as the Ewoks once sang and will sing once again! The Original Theatrical versions of the Star Wars Trilogy are coming out on DVD this September!

Oh, and what would an Anders blog post be without a couple of movie trailer links.

The new Superman Returns trailer is up. It makes me more curious than the last ones, but I still have reservations. But who am I kidding? I'll still be seeing it.

And even more exciting is the trailer for Casino Royale, and it looks like Bond is going to kick some serious ass in his twenty-first film. Sure Daniel Craig is no Connery, but I think he'll pull this one off nicely. And speaking of nicely, that's how Eva Green is going to do as Bond girl Vesper Lynd. Very nicely.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

To everyone out there, I wish you a happy Easter.

Unfortunately, most of my Easter afternoon is going to be taken up with finishing (as much as possible of) my last essay of the semester before I fly out of here tomorrow night.

I like to write my essays to music; with iTunes I make big multi-hour playlists so that I can just work and not worry about changing songs or searching for things. Here's the song of the day for all out there in blog land.

It's been around for a while, but Scissor Sisters cover of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" is fantastic. Hopefully you enjoy it.

"Comfortably Numb" - Scissor Sisters

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

It's been a while since I posted anything. I'm a delinquent blogger.

I have two things to say at the moment.

1) Writing massive papers for graduate school is like pulling teeth. I know I have to do it, and I can do it. I just don't like the idea of it. It's hard to get out.

2) The Stone Roses rule. (And yes, their defining album did come out 16 years ago. But I was 7 at the time).

Friday, April 07, 2006

Wow, if anyone thought that Sufjan Stevens' Illinois wasn't nearly long enough (or that the titles were too short and uncomplicated) then they can look forward to June 25th when Suf releases The Avalanche: Outtakes and Extras from the Illinois Album. I must say that I'm excited. It will contain 21 tracks, some new and some alternate takes, that didn't make the cut for the main album. Seriously, Sufjan is so ridiculously prolific. He's a machine. An acoustic machine that is. Whatever, yes, I am mixing metaphors (I'm not a music critic).

Check out the acoustic version of "Chicago" here:

"Chicago (Acoustic)" - Sufjan Stevens

Thanks to "...good weather for airstrikes" blog for the link and mp3.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Today was a productive day. So that means I was allowed to go and rent a movie for the evening. However, I had a hard time deciding what to rent, but I saw something that I had wanted to rent had finally moved to the full week rentals.

Anyone who knows my taste knows that I'm not the worlds biggest TV fan. TV shows have to be pretty good, and my tastes run more to the comedic as far as TV goes. Dramas generally get a hard time from me. But tonight I decided to rent the first disc of Lost - Season 1.

I just finished watching the two-part pilot to J. J. Abrams hit series. Let me say that this is one of those times that I'm sad that I'm late to the game. The pilot is fantastic. It is intense. It is mysterious. It is scary. The characters are varied and interesting. It makes me want to watch more right this minute despite having to get up and go to my last class of the semester tomorrow morning. Seriously, I haven't been this hooked on a drama series after a single episode since Twin Peaks. And after seeing this pilot, I'm sure you'll agree with me that the comparison is not entirely without basis.

So, now I have something to look forward to in the evenings this week. The great thing about TV on DVD is that you can sit down and watch an episode (or two or three) in a sitting. You can fit it to your schedlue. And if my schedule includes working on essays, as my next week or two does, I can use the possibility of another episode as an incentive to work. And you don't have to wait on pins and needles for a whole week to see what happens next. That said, perhaps it destroys the serial nature of television somewhat. The effect of watching a show like Lost or Twin Peaks on DVD as opposed to serially, week-by-week is similar to the effect of reading Dicken's Bleak House all at once, rather than having to wait weeks, or even months, between installments. I don't think one is better or worse than the other, but it is important to note the difference in reception. I think serial storytelling is interesting (not surprising considering I'm a huge comic book fan), and it's nice to see that there's still quality being put out even in a medium as generally tepid as TV.

Ok, I can't go to bed just yet. Time for one more episode before I go to bed...

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

In case you're one of the two people on the Internet who hasn't seen this for whatever reason, check this out!

Summer 2007 and The Simpsons fans can finally see their favourite characters on the big screen.

Also, FOX has renewed the show for another two years, meaning that it will have be in its nineteenth season at least before it goes off the air. The Simpsons is now the longest running prime time entertainment show in history.

And there are rumours of Futurama's return as well. Matt Groening fans rejoice!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Movie journal time. I didn't watch a heck of a lot of movies this month. Probably something to do with being in graduate school and being a busy person, both professionally and socially. Still I managed to waste a lot of time watching bad movies on TV. I probably watched Rush Hour 2 more than the one time I have listed here if you count all the fragments I've sat and watched on TBS on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. And would I ever actually go and pay money to watch Armageddon? No, but it's one of those compulsively watchable films even as you know it's absolute shit. One could almost consider it a camp classic. Oh, and I rewatched The Matrix the other evening on TV as well. It holds up pretty well. I think it is a great movie (hence the four-star rating), but not one of the best of all time. Not by a long shot. Perhaps I'll have to revisit the sequels sometime. Or maybe not.

My theatre going was somewhat limited this month. I did catch Terrence Malick's The New World and it was easily my favourite first viewing of March. It's a shame it didn't get more recognition. It is one of the most beautiful films I've seen in ages. Visual poetry is what some people have called it, and I agree. I also caught V for Vendetta, since I'll pretty much watch anything with Natalie Portman in it and it's based on one of my favourite graphic novels. It's a solid adaptation. I also got to see The Big Lebowski in theatres at a midnight screening. Clearly one of the greatest cult films of all time. I also bought a few DVDs this month. One of them was American Psycho, which is a fantastic film that is a brilliant work of satire. And of course I bought Peter Jackson's King Kong. Do I need to remind you all that I love that film?

*First Viewing


3.05.06 Walk the Line (James Mangold, 2005) DVD, ***½

3.08.06 *The New World (Terrence Malick, 2005) Theatre, ****

3.11.06 Rush Hour 2 (Bret Ratner, 2000) TV, ***
Armageddon (Michael Bay, 1998) TV, **

3.18.06 *V for Vendetta (James McTiegue, 2006) Theatre, ***
High Fidelity (Stephen Frears, 2000) DVD, ****

3.19.06 *Election (Alexander Payne, 1999) DVD, ***

3.24.06 The Big Lebowski (Joel Coen, 1998) Theatre, ****

3.26.06 *The Squid and the Whale (Noah Baumbach, 2005) DVD, ***½

3.27.06 Wedding Crashers (David Dobkin, 2005) DVD, ***

3.30.06 The Matrix (The Wachowski Brothers, 1999) TV, ****
King Kong (Peter Jackson, 2005) DVD, ****

3.31.06 American Psycho (Mary Harron, 2000) DVD, ****

Sunday, March 26, 2006

I've only recently discovered the joys of the used CD store. Partly because Victoria has stores with slightly better selection than say Tramps back home in Saskatoon. The used CD store is a great way to fill in the "holes" in my collection, which are many (everytime I think about Joel's CD collection I realize how far I have to go). So I bought a few older CDs this past week that were new to me--and for prices that couldn't be beat. The first thing was to fill in one of the most glaring ommissions in my collection. After talking to Anton on Saturday morning and how he had been enjoying some Bob Dylan, I decided I needed to get some full albums (rather than just the random few MP3s of his that I had). So I picked up Highway 61 Revisted and Blonde on Blonde. And I've had a Bob Dylan weekend enjoying both these CDs immensely. Dylan really was a great songwriter and it's hard to pick out the best songs, but obviously "Like A Rolling Stone" stands out. Also, "Queen Jane Approximately," "Visions of Johanna," "Desolation Row," "I Want You," "Just Like A Woman," and "Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands" are among my favourites (yes, I like the really long songs that he ends both the albums with).
I also picked up The Stone Roses self-titled (or eponymous if you prefer) album, which was a must buy given my current interest in 80s Indie British pop music and the Madchester scene. It's a fantastic album that totally fits into my current mood and tastes. Of course so far the songs that I enjoy the most are "I Wanna Be Adored," "She Bangs The Drum," and "I Am The Resurrection." They do a greata job of combining the solid, hook laden psychedelia of the 60s with a touch of the 80s dance beats. The result is an album I have a feeling will become a favourite of mine.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

It's time for a music related post.

We're three months into 2006 now, and I thought I'd give a little bit of a look at what some of my favourite music has been so far this year (always makes for an interesting comparison at the end of the year to see what stays on the list and what doesn't).

Top Five Singles of Jan.-Mar. 2006

5. "Skinny Boy" - Amy Millan or "Rise Up With Fists!!" - Jenny Lewis or "Hold On, Hold On" - Neko Case

I'm going to cheat and put all these together cuz they seem like a theme project. 2006 - the year of female vocalists from popular indie rock bands' solo projects. We have Amy Millan of Stars fame, Jenny Lewis from Rilo Kiley, and of course the beautiful vocals of Neko Case from The New Pornographers.

4. "Mushaboom (Postal Service Remix)" - Feist

I just loved this remix, having been a big fan of the original last year. Apparently Feist is busy at work on a remix album as we speak.

3. "White Collar Boy" - Belle & Sebastian

I linked to this as a "song of the day" a few weeks ago.

2. "I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor" - Arctic Monkeys

I love these guys. While you might be surprised that this wasn't my number one pick, overall this is by far my favourite album of 2006 thus far. Good ol' "drunken lad" music, this is the perfect soundtrack to a night out on the town with the gang, getting into trouble, or staying at home and pretending to.

1. "Number 1" - Goldfrapp

I might not technically count as a 2006 release (UK release was last fall), Ewan was allowed to call Free The Bees a 2005 release, so I'm calling this a 2006 release. It deserves the attention. This is just a fantastic electro-pop song, showcasing one of the most underrated pop acts out there. Alison Goldfrapp is incredible. I just love it. And the video is one of the most disturbingly fascinating I've seen in a while.

Some other songs that are right up there:

"You Only Live Twice" - The Strokes

The opener to their latest album is the best song on the disc. Too bad they didn't pick this as the single instead of the quickly tiresome "Juicebox."

"Who Left The Lights Off Baby" - Guillemots

It's hard to pick just one song off the EP From The Cliffs, the American compilation of the bands UK releases last year. So I'll just tell you to go out and pick up the whole thing.

"You're All I Have" - Snow Patrol

Just heard this one today (leaked onto the Internet), and it has potential to be a fantastic pop single. Worth checking out if you like this kind of thing.

If you hear any of these, hate any of these, or love them all, let me know.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

So I saw V for Vendetta this weekend. As a fan of Alan Moore and David Lloyd's comic book, I was quite excited for this. Also, I wanted to see if the Wachoski Brothers could atone for the lackluster Matrix sequels with the screenplay and producing credits on this film (poor James McTiegue might be the most ignored director of a major feature film since Tobe Hooper and Poltergeist).

It satisfied me. The story of one man fighting back against an oppressive and injust regime will always be popular. There were a number of tweakings to the plot, streamlining the serial nature of the original story and modifying things to fit better in today's climate of fear--for one they moved the film into the future 2020, as the book's "future" of 1997 might have seemed a little dated to those of us presently living in the 21st century.

Natalie Portman does a great job as Evey, even if her British accent isn't perfect. She is the human heart of the story, and it is through her that we really experience V's fight against the regime. Stephen Rea is good as inspector Finch, bringing some humanity to the enemies of V as well, and showing how a good person can get stuck in an oppressive beaurocracy.

Really I think the film is definitely worth seeing, if only to raise questions about the role of government, the definition of "terrorism," and whether the ends justify the means. I always enjoy the films that satisfy the "popcorn" desire to see some great entertainment (V's knife battle toward the end is one of the best action scenes in ages) and still have room left over for some interesting ideas as well. You can thank Alan Moore on this one, even if he doesn't think much of the films of his books thus far (and after suffering LXG and Constantine do you blame him?).

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

This is news for Star Wars fans only. Specifically those of us who actually like the films post-ROTJ. The rest of you piss off. Joking. Joking.

Rick McCallum has announced that the new Star Wars TV show will be about the adventures of young Luke Skywalker! Sounds pretty cool to me!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Ha ha. I bet you all thought I was done with King Kong related posts. Well, you were wrong. Peter Jackson and Co. won Empire magazine's Best Film award last night. Is it better than an Oscar? You can watch Peter Jackson's acceptance speech here, and enjoy the outtakes (WARNING: Lots of foul language in the outtakes, in case that kind of thing bothers you) as well as a special scene at the end showing the hitherto unknown way that they got Kong back to NYC!

Oh, and the DVD of Kong is out on March. 28th. Woo hoo!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Edmonton Oilers just made themselves a better team for the playoffs. They picked up a solid number one goaltender in Dwayne Roloson, which was a good pick up considering how hard to come by goaltenders are in the NHL these days.

But better yet, they added some offensive power by acquiring Sergei Samsonov from the Boston Bruins!

As Pierre McGuire said on TSN, "imagine having Ales Hemsky coming down one side, Sergei Samsonov flying down the other and Ryan Smyth crashing the net up the middle. There's a lot of weaponry in Edmonton now." Woo hoo!

Here is my belated list of my movie journal for February.

It was a slow month, partly because the weeks around the break were filled with school work and other activities that meant I didn't get a chance to get to the theatre as much. My favourite first viewing was Michael Winterbottom's 24 Hour Party People, which is a funny and fascinating look at the "Madchester" music scene in the early 80s, and bands like Joy Division, the Sex Pistols, and the Happy Mondays. Plus, Steve Coogan is just hilarious. Both Walk the Line and Capote were excellent films as well. And I reminded myself of my love for Spielberg's Jurassic Park films.

*First Viewing


2.02.06 *Walk the Line (James Mangold, 2005) Theatre, ****

2.04.06 *24 Hour Party People (Michael Winterbottom, 2002) DVD, ****

2.05.06 *Capote (Bennett Miller, 2005) Theatre, ***½

2.06.06 *Croupier (Mike Hodges, 1998) DVD, **½

2.09.06 *Jacob’s Ladder (Adrian Lyne, 1990) DVD, **

2.12.06 *Hitch (Andy Tennant, 2005) DVD, ***

2.18.06 *MirrorMask (Dave McKean, 2005) DVD, ***

2.19.06 The Frighteners (Peter Jackson, 1996) DVD, ***½

2.20.06 Road House (Rowdy Herrington, 1989) DVD, **½

2.23.06 Jurassic Park (Steven Spielberg, 1993) DVD, ****
The Lost World (Steven Spielberg, 1997) DVD, ***½

2.25.06 GoldenEye (Martin Cambell, 1995) DVD, ***

Sunday, March 05, 2006

One little fact that may make tonight's Oscar's historically interesting: if Ang Lee wins Best Director for Brokeback Mountain, he will be the first non-white male to win EVER. That's right, every single recipient of the Best Director award has been a white male. So, Ang Lee could make history tonight. I know I'll be watching.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The song of the day is "White Collar Boy" by Belle & Sebastian.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

After the all the hype, and the thumbs up from Anton (which still holds more weight that just about any critic out there), I finally bought the Arctic Monkeys debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not. The verdict? It's good. I like it a lot. Possibly my favourite new album of 2006 thus far. They have a feel that vaguely reminds of The Strokes, The Libertines and any other combination of neo-classic punk, garage rock, with a touch of post-punk influence as well. That said, while they wear their influences clearly on their sleeves, they don't sound like they are merely aping those other bands or living in the past.

This is music for the moment, and that must be why they sold 118,501 copies of the album in its first day of release in the UK. That's the biggest debut since Oasis incase you're wondering.

I also bought the DVD of Walk the Line today as well: the 2-disc Collector's Edition. I'm a sucker for the "fancy" editions of DVDs. It's like they say, "This is the collector's edition" and I'm like Mickey Rooney on The Simpsons, saying, I'm a collector!. But I don't feel bad about this one. For one thing it was only $5 more. For another, the art was just a million times better. Also it comes with nifty cards of the various posters for the film, which I had earlier mentioned that I like quite a bit.

Critical scholarly editing is a somewhat disheartening activity. In our bibliography class today, we learned about the impossibility of creating the ideal text. We have documentary texts—the evidence left behind by authors and editors of the past—and we do our best to make something of them and justify our actions to our peers. But the ideal text is impossibility: one cannot say that we have, finally, the definitive text. We just have to do our best, knowing that in some way it will be a flawed attempt.

Some people dedicate their entire lives to such enterprises. The editors of an upcoming critical edition of Othello have been working for ten years; ten years knowing that what you created is still not perfect. I guess that’s what I find disheartening. I’d like to think that if I was going to dedicate all that time and energy to a project, I’d end up with some original work. I still hope to do so someday.

In the end, all this work is somewhat futile. It isn’t going to give our lives meaning. We need to take joy in the parts of life beyond what we do, what our labours yield. We can take joy in each other, in the relationships with family and friends, despite knowing that we will all fall short in some way.

And so our lives are somewhat like critical scholarly editing. We just have to make the best with what knowledge and ability we have, knowing that the end result will be inevitably flawed. But we keep going anyway. Who would have considered the existential ramifications of bibliographic work could be so grand?

In other news, I’ve been reading Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Some of it is somewhat repetitive, but there are flashes of brilliance and insight that have made it an enjoyable experience thus far. Seventy pages in an hour-and-a-half aren’t too bad. I find that when I want to really take in what someone is saying, especially in essay type books like this, I need to slow down and let it sink in. Her commentary on the experience of “seeing,” and particularly the experiences of those blind from birth, who through surgery are able to see for the first time, is moving and profound I think.

Monday, February 27, 2006

I stumbled across this song from this new Swedish band, The Envelopes and promptly downloaded their EP. It is so incredibly catchy, bouncy, rocking and...good. You can see the video here and check out their website here.

Today was a complete waste. I barely got anything considered work done, I just procastinated, dreading the week that is coming ahead. This song made the day worthwhile.

Friday, February 24, 2006

So, Venom it is? I guess the teaser poster for Spider-man 3 just goes to show that Raimi changed his song (he has been quoted in interviews as saying he never liked the character of Venom). Why else have the black suit/symbiotic costume without Venom? This should be interesting. I just hope Raimi doesn't pack the film too much; we have Sandman (Thomas Hayden Church), Venom, the promise of Harry as the new Green Goblin, and the introduction of Gwen Stacey (Bryce Dallas Howard). Let's just hope he can pull it off.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Ok, what the hell happened? How could we not score a goal? It's just mind blowing. Brodeur played well, but the offense was just lacking. I'm just wondering why players like Draper or Doan were selected for their "grit" and proven young goal scorers like Spezza or Crosby (who has international experience) weren't? I mean, Russia had their star rookie Alexander Ovechkin who scored the game winner. Some things to think about before Vancouver-Whistler 2010.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

These are hilarious. Happy Valentine's Day everyone.

I'll post this one for you here, not only because it's great, but also as a tribute to Phil Brown (Uncle Owen in Star Wars) who passed away at 89 this past week. He was one of those thankless, unglamorous roles in the film, but he added a lot of believability as Luke's cranky but well meaning uncle.

Monday, February 13, 2006

I have to say that this news makes me very happy. After Disney shut down their traditional animation division last year, AICN is reporting that John Lasseter (head of PIXAR animation studios) is planning on bringing back the traditional 2D animation division of Walt Disney studios!

I'm a pretty big animation fan. I own over 40 animated films or collections on DVD and have always had an affection for Walt Disney's work. While I can't claim to have the insight or critical acumen that Luke has into the process of animation, I still celebrate the return of 2D work to the House of Mouse. The almagamation of PIXAR and Walt Disney, under Steve Jobs, is turning out to be the most exciting movie news of the year so far. Since Brad Bird, who's Iron Giant is among the best non-Disney animated films ever, is now part of the PIXAR team, perhaps he can make another fantastic 2D animated film.

If I had to pick my favourite Disney film I'd probably have to say Pinnochio has always been my favourite, and Beauty and the Beast ranks closely behind it. I have a real appreciation for the landmarks that are Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Fantasia as well. I grew up watching Disney. Hey, how many 23-year-olds will admit that they bought Bambi on DVD? Yes, it's true. I'm a pretty hardcore fan.

What are your favourite Disney animated films?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy have started! I'm a huge fan of the Winter Olympics. Summer games, there's only a few events I really enjoy. Whereas I pretty much like every event in the winter games. How can you tell I'm a Canadian?

I also love the CBC coverage of the Olympics. For the next two weeks, Ron MacLean and Brian Williams will be on my TV pretty much non-stop. I've already been watching this morning as Canadian Jennifer Heil wins our first Gold Medal in women's moguls. Off to a good start. Go Team Canada!

Friday, February 10, 2006

I saw Phillip Seymour Hoffman in Capote this past week. Without going into an in depth review of the film, let me just say that I'll be rooting for Hoffman at the Oscars next month. The film focuses on Truman Capote's research into the murder of a Kansas farm family for his "non-fiction novel" In Cold Blood, and specifically the strange relationship Capote has with one of the killers, Perry Smith. Capote becomes fascinated with Smith and the insights that he gains for his novel. However, the film asks difficult questions about the nature and morality of such a relationship, especially when the ending of Capote's book becomes frusterated by the lack of closure to the killer's story. Catherine Keener is also good as Capote's best friend and research assistant, Harper Lee. I think it's a complex and engrossing film that deserves the accolades it's getting.

It's nice that Hoffman is getting the attention he is. After outstanding supporting roles in films like Almost Famous, Magnolia, Boogie Nights, and 25th Hour. I also love that he's going to be the villian in M:I-III. It will be fun to watch Frank T. J. Mackey,
from Magnolia facing off againsthis dying father's male nurse, Phil.

I think I've mentioned before that I quite like my little apartment here in Victoria. It's cozy, clean, has a skylight and really, it's everything I need for my purposes and it's starting to feel like mine. Even the location is great, nicely situated equal distance between downtown and the University. But it's also just off a main street, and for some people, the noise of early morning traffic might be frusterating. Fortunately, I tend to sleep through almost anything (even earthquakes). But this morning was the exception: I awoke earlier than I would have hoped (today was a day I could have slept in) because they were doing work on the sidewalk one house away with a backhoe and a jackhammer! A goddamn jackhammer! Seriously, who starts operating a jackhammer at quarter-to-eight in the morning? Infuriating.

In other news the Curious George movie opens today, with the voice talent Will Ferrell as the Man in the Yellow Hat. Often I'm frusterated with the constant efforts of studios to "update" classic children's stories for mass consumption (see the recent Winnie the Pooh alterations for example), so it's somewhat heartening to hear that the movie is merely pleasent and appropriate for very young children to enjoy the adventures of a monkey without being subjected to sexual innuendo (ala Shrek) for once.

I've been well known for bashing singer Jack Johnson on numerous occasions. I thought it should be known that I have no active vendetta against the guy. The fact that I can barely get excited enough to care is pretty much my problem. However, he has recorded the soundtrack for Curious George, and it has been the number one selling album this week. I think Roger Ebert sums up my opinion of this very well in his review (linked to above): "There are songs sung by
Jack Johnson, which are pleasant if kind of innocuous."

Monday, February 06, 2006

Since it seems to be popular on other blogs, I'm going to post my viewing journal for January. Hopefully I'll be a little more consistent in keeping track of my movie watching this year.

I watched a fair number of films this month, though not at either my summer time or my old "Blockbuster free rentals" levels. I spent an afternoon back during the break watching a bunch of shorts with Anton & Aren on the new Disney Rarities DVD. Some great stuff on there, specifically Ferdinand the Bull and Ben and Me. My favourite first vewing of the month would have to be Munich. Loved it. Also had a riot watching Swayze in Road House. Enjoyable in a completely ridiculous manner. Grizzly Man, Hustle & Flow and Woody Allen's Match Point were three of the 2005 releases I caught that were really good and probably would have been on my honourable mentions list had I seen them before I did my list.

* First Viewing
† Non-Feature Length Film


1.01.06 *Guys and Dolls (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1955) DVD
*Road House (Rowdy Herrington, 1989) DVD

2.01.06 †Ben and Me (Hamilton Luske, 1953) DVD
*†Alice’s Wonderland (Walt Disney, 1923) DVD
Ferdinand the Bull (Dick Rickard, 1938) DVD
Paul Bunyan (Les Clark, 1958) DVD
*†Noah’s Ark (Bill Justice, 1959) DVD
Chicken Little (Clyde Geronimi, 1943) DVD
The Hire: Hostage (John Woo, 2002) DVD
The Hire: Beat the Devil (Tony Scott, 2002) DVD
The Hire: Ticker (Joe Carnahan, 2002) DVD
The Hire: Ambush (John Frankenheimer, 2001) DVD
The Hire: Chosen (Ang Lee, 2001) DVD
Lola rennt (Run Lola Run) (Tom Tykwer, 1998) DVD

4.01.06 *Four Brothers (John Singleton, 2005) DVD

6.01.06 *Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog, 2005) DVD

8.01.06 *Munich (Steven Spielberg, 2005) Theatre

12.01.06 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Peter Jackson, 2001; Extended Edition) DVD
*Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005) Theatre
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
(Peter Jackson, 2001; Extended Edition; Commentary by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens Part 1) DVD

13.01.06 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
(Peter Jackson, 2001; Extended Edition; Commentary by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens Part 2) DVD

14.01.06 Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (George Lucas, 2005) DVD

15.01.06 *Memoirs of a Geisha (Rob Marshall, 2005) Theatre

19.01.06 *Hustle & Flow (Craig Brewer, 2005) DVD

21.01.06 Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Terry Gilliam, 1998) DVD

27.01.06 *Match Point (Woody Allen, 2005) Theatre