Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Prick Tunes: Todd Rivers featuring Dean Lerner and Garth Marenghi "One Track Lover"

Sure, this is from a TV show (the brilliant Garth Marenghi's Darkplace) and isn't a proper song like typically fills this space, but that is not going to stop me from posting this gem here. As within the context of the show, "One Track Lover" is cut off, there will be two clips. The first is of the song with the glorious partial music video, but as you'll see at the end of the clip, the song is cut off. The second clip will be of the full song, but the pictures are simply stills culled from the show. 

Video 1:
Video 2: 

Man on Film: Tower Heist

Clearly when one elects to go to Tower Heist, they are doing so because of the cast. This has to be the case as Brett Ratner is the director of the film. A quick perusal of his filmography sorted by IMDb user ratings shows that his highest rated feature-length 'film' was 2002's Red Dragon, which garnered an impressive 7.2. With his next highest showing being the atrocious X-Men: The Last Stand at 6.8, one should certainly temper his expectations regardless of other factors such as cast or screenplay. With Jeff Nathanson--one of the scribes responsible for IJ: KoCS and the second and third Rush Hour movies--as one of the two credited screenwriters, expectations get lowered once more.

The other credited screenwriter is Ted Griffin. If this means little to you, one of the films on his curriculum vitae proves especially meaningful when setting expectations for Tower Heist, and that is Ocean's Eleven. When I say that it proves especially meaningful when setting expectations, I mean that you can pretty much expect to see a working class, post-recession edition of Ocean's Eleven.

The problem with that statement lies with the credited directors of each respective film. Where Ocean's Eleven had Steven Soderbergh directing*, Tower Heist has Brett Ratner at the helm. No strength in casting is going to overcome that.

*While Soderbergh certainly has his detractors, I don't think many would put him in the same tier of directors as Ratner. For those keeping track at home, Soderbergh has directed 17 movies that have higher user ratings at IMDb than Ratner's second highest film. On a tangential note, the most disturbing aspect of these ratings, is that somehow Red Dragon's 7.2 rating is higher than The Limey, Out of Sight, and Sex, Lies, and Videotape, which all came in at a 7.1 rating. Now, when one looks at their Metascore, the stars realign and Red Dragon nets a 60 while The Limey (73), Out of Sight (85), and Sex, Lies, and Videotape (86) net ratings much more representative of their quality in relation to Ratner's oeuvre. I suppose all this proves is that IMDb user ratings are populist to a fault (albeit in an entirely anecdotal and incomplete fashion), but we all probably knew that.

So we find ourselves with a movie featuring the likes of Ben Stiller, Casey Affleck, Tea Leoni, Michael Pena, Alan Alda, Matthew Broderick, and Eddie Murphy, who in aggregate have more than enough comedic chops to carry a film. Stiller is not saddled with the role of the pensive and neurotic jew. Murphy, too, seems to have been freed from the shackles that have bound his funniness for the past 15 years. Yet, there are not enough laughs to go around in the screenplay. The only one who sticks out as being especially funny in Tower Heist is Michael Pena. This is sad.

There is a bevy of talent wasted here. Murphy had been given what everyone hoped was an edgier role--one that should have been an ideal vehicle from which to begin a comeback--but when all is said and done, the role has little in the way of comedic substance. Really, the same can be said for all the other roles. I'm not entirely sure that Pena's character had anything particularly funny written for him either. It could well be Pena breathing life into the movie on his own. This would make more sense than believing that somehow one role is funny as written in an ensemble film. It is easier to believe that we live in a world in which one character is funny because of how Michael Pena played him than the alternative in which two screenwriters and a much-maligned director combined to succeed in making one character amusing while the rest fell flat.

Needless to say, Tower Heist was not an impressive film. I suppose it wasn't awful, but a film in which the 99% try to get even with a member of the 1% who bilked them that fails to fully capitalize on a plot that has built-in goodwill cannot be classified as great either. This is essentially a middle-of-the-road caper comedy, which given this cast (yes, even with Ratner at the helm) is a disappointment.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Prick Tunes: Bon Iver "Holocene"

With the release of the Deluxe Edition of Bon Iver, Bon Iver with accompanying videos for each song (story here), it only makes sense to throw this great video for "Holocene" out there. The videos will be available as free digital downloads on iTunes with purchase of the album or (if I understand this correctly) at participating record stores on DVD with purchase of the album. This is set to be released today, November 29th.

Kids, ask your parents for an advance on your allowance and then figure out who is getting your extra copy of the album.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Prick Tunes: Michael McDonald "I Keep Forgettin'"

Smooth. As. Fuck.
It was a clear black night, a clear white moon...

Man on Film: Inni

There is a stark contrast between the previous Sigur Rós film, Heima, and the new one, Inni. Past the obvious differences in the visual palettes of each film, Heima sets the band against the backdrop of Iceland--their home country--while Inni is more intimate, essentially being a concert film. This makes sense, as their titles translate to "home" and "inside," respectively, from Icelandic.

While Heima sets off to contextualize the band with performances all over Iceland in various locales, Inni directs its gaze on the band themselves. This serves the apparent goal of the film. Filmed almost exclusively in close shots of the members of the band, often paring its focus down to shots of just the playing of the instruments or Jónsi's face while singing, Inni definitely brings the audience close to the band. Its grainy, 16mm feel is contrived--literally, in this case, as it was actually produced by filming the original digital stock in 16mm "sometimes through prisms and other found objects" as per their website--but does produce the desired effect of drawing the audience in to the concert experience.

That concert experience is much more the band's experience than the audience's, as the audience a largely removed from the film, which is honestly preferable. Unfortunately, in setting his aim so tightly on the band, director Vincent Morriset (and possibly the band) eschews the grandeur ever-present in Sigur Rós's epic brand of post-rock. The epic scope and the geography that makes itself known in their music are not completely gone, but they are certainly diminished. Perhaps this loss is meant to be supplanted by increased emotional investment, and the interstitial archival footage set between the songs does work toward this end, but the lost element of what worked so spectacularly well in Heima (and really, what works for the band as a whole) is not completely replaced by the heightened kinship.

Having said all that, Inni is a different glimpse at the band. It succeeds in bringing the audience to the stage, enabling them to experience the show vicariously through the band. When viewing Inni in a disappointed light, one does so by comparing it to the inimitable Heima, which may be the best music documentary out there. In a vacuum (or without having seen Heima), Inni is damn fine. Its stark black-and-white palette is engrossing. The light that intermittently bleeds into the frame bends the band into and out of the black, adding an affective expressionistic flair to the film. While the band's performances aren't set against the arresting backdrop of the Icelandic countryside, the filmic presentation of these nine songs is enthralling, even at this scale.

As the film concludes, one cannot help but look forward to 2012, as Inni whets the appetite for new Sigur Rós material tentatively scheduled for a spring release. This feeling is likely the most important thing take from this experience. When it's over, you want more.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Prick Tunes: Ice Cube "It Was A Good Day" and "Check Yo Self"

If ever there were a pair of songs that perfectly encapsulate my day-to-day life, it's these. To all you upstanding church-goin' folks out there, there's some coarse language in this one. You've been fucking warned.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Prick Tunes: R.E.M. "Pilgrimage" and "Begin the Begin"

Happy Fucking Turkey Day.

In honor of Thanksgiving, here are two songs from the recent disbanded R.E.M. that are very loosely tied to Thanksgiving in that one had "pilgrim" in its title and the other contains the lyric "Myles Standish proud" in it.
Standish, dandy man, killer of Indigenous North Americans
That's all I got.


Begin the Begin:

(Neither of these songs had particularly good videos that didn't just have the album image, so unfortunately that's what you get.)

What the hell. Here's a little Artie Shaw for you, having popularized the original Cole Porter tune with this swing band arrangement.

Begin the Beguine:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Prick Tunes: Blind Melon "Walk" and "Skinned"

Before we get down to it, I'd like to give y'all a glimpse behind the curtain for just one second. I've been simultaneously having both internet connection issues (fuck U-Verse) and computer issues (it's running slow as fuck, and I can't properly watch the videos I'm embedding because they're playing choppy). This has made the past few weeks insanely frustrating from a blogging standpoint, and I can't watch Netflix because the PS3 will not stay connected to the horribly substandard AT&T U-Verse newer wireless modem. There are some Netflix things I've been wanting to do--one by request--but simply cannot do until this issue is resolved. Apologies. 

It isn't always easy finding the ideal video for these songs as many of them are not the typical songs for which a proper video is made. However, this does often mean that I will find nice live performances, some of which are more than 15 years old.
Spiderlanding it.
I would imagine that the bulk of America would categorize Blind Melon as a one-hit wonder. I suppose in the strict sense of the term they did just have "one hit" in the form of "No Rain," but one definitely would be remiss to judge them based on that one song, no matter how fucking catchy it was. In their original incarnation, they were led by the seemingly impossible to pigeon-hole Shannon Hoon, an Indiana boy who was comfortable enough to sing backing vocals on Guns N' Roses Use Your Illusions sessions and to usher in a somewhat drastic change from Blind Melon's first self-titled (and multi-platinum) album to their much thematically darker and heavily New Orleans-influenced sophomore release Soup. Soup was met much less enthusiastically than it should have been, and Hoon overdosed on cocaine while on tour, having been found on the tour bus in the city in which Soup was recorded, New Orleans.

From a MuchMusic program called Intimate & Interactive, here are my two favorite songs off of their second LP, Soup.



Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Prick Tunes: Elliott Smith Lucky Three

Back in the early days of peer-to-peer filesharing, when one had already exhausted the depths of an artist's catalog from proper releases, he started searching far and wide for any other songs. Covers. Rarities. Demos. Alternate live versions. This was a largely frustrating experience, as downloading an entire user's shared catalog of The Kinks meant you were getting "Turning Japanese" or of Bob Dylan resulted in having a duplicate file of "Stuck in the Middle With You" as you had obviously already downloaded every Stealers Wheel song you could get your hands on.
Elliott Smith was an artist who got such a hold on the listener that it was impossible to sate that hunger for more material. His covers of "Harvest Moon," "Walk Away Renee," "Waterloo Sunset," "Because," and "Trouble" were so striking that they began to take over your memory of the original song, wiping it from your memory altogether and making each time you heard the original seem like they were covering him. There was perhaps no cover that accomplished this more completely than Elliott Smith's cover of Big Star's "Thirteen." This song was often labeled as being from Lucky Three, although to all but a few rabid fans, what Lucky Three was exactly was a bit of a mystery.

It's a short film shot in October of 1996 by Jem Cohen, who directed the Fugazi documentary, Instrumental, and the documentary about the frontman of Smoke, Benjamin Smoke. Seeing Lucky Three makes me sad as hell, as his death still sort of fucks me up.

Lucky Three:

Monday, November 21, 2011

Prick Tunes: Hayden "Bad As They Seem"

Hayden, who is perhaps best known for doing theme for Steve Buscemi's feature-length directorial debut, Trees Lounge, has  sporadically released six proper albums since Everything I Long For came out in 1994. Despite having toured with such acts as Feist and The National, his big break seems never to have come.
Born Paul Hayden Desser, the Toronto-based singer-songwriter recorded his first album Everything I Long For on a four-track recorder in his bedroom. "Bad As They Seem" is the primary single off of this first record. While it may not be the strongest track on the album, it did have a proper video made, so it is embedded here.

Now, I don't want to undersell that song. I do like it. I love how he captures the wandering gaze of the male eye and the ability to love nearly everyone who we can't have but are around constantly. Despite the simplicity of his longing for a girlfriend who isn't either of his unattainable neighbors, he manages to infuse the song with a wisdom he may not have even been aware of when penning the song.

For something with a bit more weight, I'll point you in the direction of "Skates" from the same album. Sadly, we've not got a proper video of any sort to insert here, so you'll get to look at the album cover and use your goddamn imagination. It's a sad damn song if you stick around for it.

For those interested in more, here is the link to an NPR interview for the Bryant Park Project, something with which I am unfortunately unfamiliar. The interview is fine, and he performs "Worthy of Your Esteem" from In Field & Stream and "Killbear" off of Elk-Lake Serenade if you would like a taste of later Hayden.

Man on Film: Melancholia

One could hardly qualify me as a Lars Von Trier fan. Having loathed Dogville and counting Breaking the Waves among my five most hated films, Dancer in the Dark was the only Von Trier film I've seen that I liked. But, I was absolutely taken with Dancer in the Dark and were I pressed to make a top ten list of the best films of the year 2000, the only one that I'd rank above it would have been Requiem for a Dream.

Obviously, Von Trier is a divisive auteur, particularly for this reviewer.

Now setting aside the fact that--if the now 13-year-old information that I gleaned from class my freshman year Astronomy class is correct--the entire premise of the film is impossible, Melancholia certainly has some arresting aspects to it. There are shots that are absolutely magnificent. The surrealistic nightmarish premonitions of the apocalypse at the film's open are fantastic in the truest sense of the word. The lavish wedding reception in "Part One: Justine" is the paragon of opulence, and setting it at an idyllic Old World manor injects an air of class into the film against which to contrast Justine's debilitating depression. Von Trier's lens also manages to capture Kirsten Dunst nude in as flattering a light as possible, pleasing those remaining holdouts hoping to see the girl in (insert appropriate decade-old film that was the last Dunst film anyone cared about here) naked.
As for Dunst, who took home Best Actress hardware at Cannes, she is actually pretty outstanding here. The role of Justine calls for her to reach manic highs and depressive lows. It requires that she be an at times evil bitch to her sister, played by Charlotte Gainsbourg. It sees her discard a merely hours-old marriage to real life Scandinavian God Alexander Skarsgard (how is that even possible, ladies?) while remaining utterly detached. And for the bulk of the time, she reaches into the depths of despair and wallows there, crippled. One could not qualify me as a Kirsten Dunst fan at this point in time, but she knocks this one out of the fucking park.

So far this review seems like a rave. I would be remiss if I didn't call attention to insanely long First Part. A lot of time is spent, and one could argue wasted, setting up just how beset by depression she is. Justine cannot evade the grips of depression, even on her wedding day. Luckily for the audience, writer/director Lars Von Trier's vision calls upon us to sit through a solid 58 minutes to establish this point. I am all for deliberate film-making, but there is a fine line between deliberate but compelling and slow enough that the viewer keeps checking their watch. This first act unfortunately falls into the latter category. Given that one is already checking the watch, the also long "Part Two: Claire" does little to alleviate the condition.

With the negatives out of the way, it is clear that this doesn't fall into the category of drab Danish masturbation that is Dogville or utterly loathsome filmmaking that Breaking the Waves qualifies as, which certainly says something. While not entirely without flaws, Melancholia is good. Perhaps that's a weak qualifier, but I am reticent to step out any farther onto this precarious limb on which I find myself. Maybe I should watch Antichrist to reconnect with my disdain for Von Trier.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Prick Tunes: Kurt Vile "Baby's Arms"

Former member of The War on Drugs, Kurt Vile has set off on his own with two DIY solo records (an LP and a mini-album) that were released on very small labels before latching on to Matador's wagon to release Childish Prodigy in 2009 and Smoke Ring for My Halo in 2011.
Coming off the latter of the two Matador releases, "Baby's Arms" is a pretty traditional love song. This is somewhat atypical for Vile, whose catalog isn't nearly as sweet and sincere as this, but the sincerity rings true. It opens Smoke Ring well and sets the hook in the listener.

Man on Film: X-Men First Class

Yes, this came out months ago. There were extenuating circumstances with the delay on this one. I suppose there must be a DVD coming out soon. (I just checked and it comes out next week.) Regardless...

Well, at least it wasn't X-Men: The Last Stand. That's not saying much, of course, as X3 may as well have garnered Brett Ratner the designation of war criminal by an international tribunal. While X3 was the most ignominious of the X-Men films, the rest of the films in the series don't exactly do the comics justice. Where the X-Books were perhaps the most interesting of the Marvel universe, the series (including X-Men Origins: Wolverine) has featured only one film deserving of inclusion in the larger mythology, X2. Aside from X2, the films range from godawful (X3) to severely underwhelming (X-Men).
If measuring against those standards, I suppose X-Men First Class wasn't awful. As had been the case in earlier films, First Class was saddled with some shockingly inadequate performances. Where Halle Berry and Anna Paquin had torpedoed prior films, January Jones is startlingly cold and not in the intended way.  She is bad enough that it sticks out months later. Other actors' talents are underutilized. Whether the ability is there or not, Zoe Kravitz, Nicholas Hoult, and Rose Byrne are not given any opportunity to showcase their talents* with meatless roles.

*Well, the fetching Rose Byrne does have a scantily clad scene in The Hellfire Club...

Really, this film concerns itself almost entirely with the origins of Professor Xavier and Magneto. In this area, the film does work. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are both rock solid and make the most of their opportunities.

In the X-Men film spectrum, this film finds itself somewhere in the general vicinity of the first film, putting it firmly in the middle of the pack. Given what has followed X2, I guess this has to be seen as encouraging. Matthew Vaughn can put that in his pipe and smoke it, I suppose.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Prick Tunes: Robbie Dupree "Steal Away"

This actually took some effort to find. I hope this video works, but there's no way for me to know yet, because I'm scheduling this out on Sunday and the video is from a Japanese website.
Anyway, Robbie Dupree once emailed me. Suck it.

This song is gold.

I think You, Me & Dupree would have been a better movie if it was just you, me, and Robbie Dupree going out to dinner.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Prick Tunes: Doves "Pounding"

This comes off of what might just be the most underrated album of the past decade Doves' The Last Broadcast. The album is fucking epic. So is this track. Weirdly, a Keith Law post at Meadow Party, brought this back to mind. Really, the entire album is great, as was their debut Lost Souls. If you never got around to it, their fourth album, Kingdom of Rust was really outstanding as well.

They should have been bigger than Coldplay.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Prick Tunes: Justin Townes Earle "Slippin' and Slidin'"

This is a Garden & Gun film directed by Tim Sutton. If you're not familiar with Justin Townes Earle, he is the son of outlaw troubadour Steve Earle. Like his father, he, too, has struggled with addiction. Per his twitter feed, he has just sent his fourth album off for mastering. This comes off his third album, Harlem River Blues. If you don't own his entire catalog, get on it.

Here's the official video featuring the album cut if that's your thing...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Prick Tunes: The National "Bloodbuzz, Ohio"

This video endlessly amuses me. There is something about the way Matt Berninger makes the hand movement signifying the birds' flight that gets me. Regardless the song is great.
If you aren't insanely into The National, it is likely because you haven't given them a listen. They may just be the Great American Rock Band. Especially over the course of their last two albums, Boxer and High Violet, they have really come into their own.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Prick Tunes: Junip on Jimmy Kimmel

Jose Gonzalez's band Junip were on Jimmy Kimmel two nights ago. The Argentine by way of Sweden sat down with his band and played "In Every Direction"

and "Always"

from their album Fields. If you can get your hands on the deluxe edition which packages the Rope & Summit and Black Refuge EPs with the Fields LP at a very reasonable price, you should because the EPs are rock solid and there is a fantastic cover of "The Ghost of Tom Joad" on Black Refuge.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Prick Tunes: Tom Waits "Satisfied"

When Tom Waits says, "Jump," you don't ask, "How high?" You fucking jump. Any time he posts a video through Anti- should be regarded as a National Holiday, and said video should be played everywhere for the entire day.
Well, yesterday afternoon, he posted his newest video on his website. Here you go.

The video, directed by Jesse Dylan, is his first proper video (from what I can tell) in six years, when Orphans came out and this amazing video for "Lie to Me" was released:

Honestly, there isn't a cooler sumbitch out there than Tom Waits. For nearly 40 years, he's done nothing but release great albums. There hasn't been a creative trough like fellow cool dudes Bob Dylan or Johnny Cash experienced. Steady badass releases has been his modus operandi. And when he's got important stuff coming up like an album release

or a tour announcement,

he does weird-ass stuff like that.

Maybe this was a little video-heavier than most of the Prick Tunes posts, but there is not an artist out there who I am so thoroughly and entirely entertained by as I am with Mr. Waits. As for "Satisfied," the song that started this whole thing, it features Keith Richards and Marc Ribot on guitar, Les Claypool on bass, and contains a fun shout-out to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards as it plays around with their biggest hit.

Sadly, Richard Marx doesn't get the same treatment.

What a majestic mane...

I digress. Whilst doing promotion for Bad As Me, Waits also did Fresh Air just over a week ago. If you managed to miss it, here's the link. And if, for some godforsaken reason, you don't own the record, here's the link to the Tom Waits Store.

Man on Film: Martha Marcy May Marlene

In spite of the fact that this film possesses the hardest title to correctly recall since Synecdoche New York, Martha Marcy May Marlene is hard to forget. Given the fact that it features a storyline not especially concerned with packing in tons of action, this speaks volumes to the effectiveness of evocation that first-time feature-length director Sean Durkin displays. In Martha Marcy May Marlene, he has crafted a thriller concerned with mood first and foremost. 
As Martha (Elizabeth Olsen) sneaks away from the compound at the break of dawn, the audience is immediately beset with the question of what happened to her. From its onset, the film alternates between the present--where Martha is fully damaged--and the past--where the damaging takes place over time. Durkin doles out her past bit by bit, showing how she falls under Patrick's (John Hawkes) control. As she becomes more personally invested in the cult, more harm befalls her. As the traumas mount in the flashbacks, the tension mounts in the present.

It is really quite shocking to see a first-time director so deftly pull the strings in a low-key thriller like Martha Marcy May Marlene. Durkin is certainly helped by the two Oscar-caliber performances from Olsen and Hawkes.

There is considerable buzz surrounding Elizabeth Olsen's turn; a buzz of which either of her sisters must be envious. This attention is absolutely warranted. Given the complete lack of interesting roles for actresses in today's Hollywood, Olsen is nearly a lock for a Best Actress nomination, and she is likely the front-runner early on. She is called upon to run the full spectrum from strong individual to broken down cult follower to completely unhinged escapee trying to hold her tattered life together.

As the cult leader, Patrick, Hawkes elicits a superficial calm with an underlying violence of spirit that is unsettling to say the least. It isn't hard to see how the followers could be drawn to him. He embodies the qualities we assume all cult leaders to possess. He is charismatic, manipulative, and dangerous, and Hawkes encompasses all of these things seamlessly.

Perhaps it is these two turns that make the film, but Martha Marcy May Marlene is enthralling and ultimately unsettling despite the fact that very little happens in the present.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Prick Tunes: .38 Special "Second Chance"

Honestly, I forgot this song existed. If I did remember that it existed, I don't think there's any way in hell that I'd have remembered that .38 Special was the band that put it out. This may not be as good as anything off of Wild-Eyed Southern Boys or Special Forces, but the song has some sort of appeal to me. Sure, it's likely nostalgia, but if you don't like it, get your own blog.

You know what? .38 Special is too awesome to get just one video, so here's a video of admittedly shitty quality from everyone's favorite pre-Empty Nest Richard Mulligan star-vehicle, Teachers. "Teacher, Teacher" is the track. If you haven't seen the movie, your life thus far has been a waste.

RIP Richard Mulligan - 1932 - 2000

Monday, November 7, 2011

Prick Tunes: Beachwood Sparks "Desert Skies"

First things first: The video on the Josh Ritter entry has been fixed. I encourage you to check it out.
"Desert Skies" is the infectious first track from Beachwood Sparks' self-titled debut LP, a 2000 release on Sub Pop. Its jangly brand of pop skirts the fine line between evoking The Byrds and Buffalo Springfield while still being free of being derivative. Everything about this album leaves the listener wishing it wouldn't end and certainly piques an interest in much more. Unfortunately only an LP and an EP followed and a 2008 reunion has yet to lead to another release.

Regardless, this album is fantastic, as is its opener. As for the image on the video, I've got no explanation for that. People do some weird damn things.

Man on Film: The Rum Diary

If one were being honest with oneself, the source material for this film is a little unimpressive. Despite the fact that the name Hunter S. Thompson is attached to the novel as its author, The Rum Diary is definitely a lesser work. 

Bruce Robinson's adaptation is wholly unimpressive. If you haven't actually been to a movie in which you were actively checking the time but seeing one is one of your life's goals, then The Rum Diary is the movie for you. The verve that is supposed to be there is absent. The sexuality that Chenault (Amber Heard) is supposed to ooze is there but is not nearly as amped up as in the book. Johnny Depp is basically just doing a toned down version of what he had already done in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, only with less drugs and a much safer vision. 

Look, I like Withnail and I as much as the next guy, but I don't think Bruce Robinson would ever put himself in the same directorial conversation as Terry Gilliam. This film simply isn't good enough to warrant going into more detail. 

In short, The Rum Diary is interminable and lackluster. Those are not adjectives that get people out to the theaters.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Prick Tunes: Wilco "Art of Almost"

In what has to be their most sonically interesting an unique song (at least when in comparison to the rest of the Wilco catalog) since "Spiders (Kidsmoke)," Jeff Tweedy & Co. have kicked off The Whole Love with a song that I couldn't be more excited about seeing live. Judging by this clip from wherever the hell they played at CBS--I guess it could have been The Ed Sullivan Theater, but David Letterman is nowhere to be found--my excitement is justified.
You definitely want to wait around for the last two and half minutes of the song. If you've heard "Art of Almost," you know why. Three words (one a hyphenate): Nels. Cline. Freak-out.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Prick Tunes: Josh Ritter NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

Kicking off with my favorite song of his, Josh Ritter sits down in the NPR Music offices and runs through a short set of "The Temptation of Adam," "Lark," "Rattling Locks," and "Kathleen."
Thus far, I've refrained from putting longer clips like these up in the Prick Tunes columns, as it would be easy to just fall into the habit of simply posting Daytrotter or NPR Music sessions. I really wanted to put up his apocalyptic ballad "The Temptation of Adam," though, and I thought there was a fairly good chance that the good readers of Inconsiderate Prick may not have actually listened to Josh Ritter before.

If you don't have the time for that, here is the album version of aforementioned "The Temptation of Adam."

Reading Rainbow: Prayers for Rain by Dennis Lehane

Having just about completely caught up here, this is the last remaining Reading Rainbow entry in the backlog. Two movies and the baseball-related jam-up will have been remedied. 

Prayers for Rain is the fifth--and up until a year ago (when the series was surprisingly revisited in Moonlight Mile) the final--book in the Kenzie-Gennaro Series. Working solo after the fallout following the completion of the Amanda MacCready case (in Gone, Baby, Gone), Patrick Kenzie finds himself wrought with guilt after he fails to answer a call from a former client only to have that client turn up dead. As he looks into her demise, he sees that not only had he not actually solved her previous stalker case, but that she had actually been targeted by a sociopath deadset on destroying her. 

As Patrick delves further into the ruthless, calculated, and systematic dismantling of Karen Nichols's life, the man responsible for her demise turns his focus to Patrick. 

As is always the case, Lehane combines his snappy dialogue, taut pacing, and disturbing ability to create truly horrifying villains to great effect in Prayers for Rain. He also sets Patrick Kenzie afloat on a raft with only the deranged but reliable Bubba Rogowski at his side. It isn't until she is absolutely needed that Angie Gennaro comes back to help Patrick. While it is their dynamic that sets the series apart, their separation at the novel's open is vital and gives insight as to what each of them means to the other. From cover to cover, there is no slowing down. The action, suspense, and intrigue is unfurled at a fever pitch. With Lehane, this may be par for the course, but only because the bar has been set so high.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Prick Tunes: GAYNGS and Iron & Wine "One More Try"

I guess we'll be going with two straight days of live covers ruling the roost here. 

First off, there is the Minneapolis/Eau Claire/Raleigh-Durham supergroup GAYNGS performing "One More Try" with Har-Mar Superstar on vocals. While I'd have personally preferred to roll with Mikey Noyce on vocals, this is what I've got for you. Also, I really wanted to find a video of them covering of "By Your Side," "Cry," or "Eye in the Sky" with good sound quality but that wasn't in the cards.
What you get instead is a cover of the soulful George Michael mega-hit "One More Try" from his massive 1987 solo album Faith
When searching for the perfect GAYNGS live cover, I also stumbled across this video of Iron & Wine covering "One More Try" for an Onion A.V. Club covers series, A.V. Club Undercover 2011. While taking a much different approach than GAYNGS, each group clearly shows a sincere affinity for the song.
If, for some whacked out reason, you don't know the original, here it is:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Prick Tunes: Sarah Jarosz "Come On Up To The House"

Having been heading down the rabbit's hole that are the interwebs for a few hours now, I ended up here. Seeing as though This Week In Prick Tunes seems to be shaping itself into a "Hey, look, I found usable live clips" week, it makes sense to throw this one out there.

It seems impossible to people in Austin, but there is likely a large segment of the non-Central Texas populace that has no idea who Sarah Jarosz is. Sure, she was a Grammy nominee at the age of 17 or 18, but it was for Best Country Instrumental Performance. That's something that most of the country simply doesn't give a damn about. For the unindoctrinated, Sarah Jarosz is a helluva bluegrass multi-instrumentalist who especially stands out on the mandolin. Here is her cover of Tom Waits's "Come On Up To The House" as seen on Austin City Limits.

If you didn't already know the song as the closer from Tom Waits's first record on Anti-, then here you go. If this was your situation, though, I'm not sure I want to know you...

Man on Film: Warrior

Over the past few years, I've been getting more and more into MMA. Not as something I actually do, but I have grown to really like the UFC.

Warrior was in my wheelhouse.

I don't need to expound too much on this one. Alcoholic father is good at exactly one thing, training his sons to fight. He cared much more about the angry fuck-up of a son than the son who stayed back when their mother left for her own good. There is fraternal strife and distance. Each of the brothers, played by Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton, is hard-up for money. Impossibly the two surmount the insurmountable odds stacked against them to face each other in a winner-takes-all tournament. You get the point.

What is easy to overlook is how well the film stirs conflict within the heart of the audience. This is where Gavin O'Connor's film sets itself apart. When Brendan and Tommy face each other, you don't know which one you want to win because you actually care about both of them. Hot off his great turn in Animal Kingdom, Edgerton plays a character seemingly inspired at least in part by former teacher-cum-UFC Middleweight Champ Rich Franklin. With a primary role in The Thing and another high-profile film on the way in the form of Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald masterpiece The Great Gatsby, it seems that Edgerton's career is about to take off like a rocket. This isn't unlike what has happened for Tom Hardy since his star-turn in Nicolas Winding Refn's Bronson put him on the map. The two are pretty evenly matched in Warrior, and the film works in large part because of them.

As a film, it may be somewhat lacking in originality on the screenplay side of the equation, but the fight choreography was tight, visceral, and most importantly intelligible. The cinematography, especially in Pittsburgh, had the gritty feel necessary to make you feel like this is where the Conlon boys could have come from. Throw in a couple of songs by The National, and you've got a solid recipe for an enjoyable if not entirely cliche-free sports movie.
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