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...