Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Prick Tunes: The Flaming Lips "Look... The Sun Rising"

When At War with the Mystics came out in 2006, I was honestly worried about the future of The Flaming Lips. I was so disappointed by the record after hearing it the first time that I never even bothered to buy it, and my distaste for the album made me very leery about checking out their next proper LP, Embryonic when it came out. Thankfully, I eventually did, and Wayne Coyne, Steven Drozd, & Co. treated me to their boldest album since The Soft Bulletin. The newest Flaming Lips release, The Terror, takes that dark vision driving Embryonic and cranks it up. While the upcoming collaboration with Ke$ha has left me scratching my head, the last two proper Lips LPs have me back on board, for serious.

This is a live performance of the album opener, "Look... The Sun Rising." I have no damn idea where it was recorded, but it looks like it was in the basement of a VFW hall.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Prick Tunes: Junip "Line of Fire" and "Your Life Your Call"

There's no better time than the present to highlight Junip, whose new self-titled LP came out this week. I've featured them here before, but for the uninitiated, Junip was a side-project that José González first got involved with in 1998. About seven years later, they released the Black Refuge EP, which featured a pretty fucking sweet cover of "The Ghost of Tom Joad" along with four original Junip compositions. This was, of course after González had gotten quite a bit of attention for his first solo record which had been released in 2003. Five years later, González, Elias Araya, and Tobias Winterkorn released their second EP, Rope and Summit, and their first LP, Fields. The next year saw them release a third EP, In Every Direction, and now their second LP hit shelves this week, featuring the singles "Line of Fire" and "Your Life Your Call," whose videos are intertwined and featured below.

"Line of Fire"

"Your Life Your Call"

Is it weird that whenever I think of life in Sweden, it's basically like that? A bi-curious cuckolding nightmare in which I'm stuck in a near-catatonic state while my aged bride who never quite looked the same after the "Black Hole Sun" video goes off getting pile-driven by the 17-year-old version of the lead singer of The Darkness, braces-and-all.

Man on Film: Bullet to the Head

I know what you're thinking: Didn't this come out like two months ago? It might have been longer ago than that. You might wonder what (other than depression) could have kept me from writing about a Sylvester Stallone/Sung Kang star vehicle directed by Walter Hill and co-starring Christian Slater, Jason Momoa, and a partially nude Sarah Shahi.

Sadly, Bullet to the Head was not another standout film in this late-era Sly Renaissance, and it was not the film that got Walter Hill back on track. The script was hokey. The quips were flaccid. The generational joshing between Kang and Sly was as ineffective as it was in A Good Day to Die Hard. The fact that Bulleit never seemed to be available at any bar in New Orleans was absurd, but the fact that this was called back upon later in the film was ridiculous.

It was hard not to hope for Bullet to the Head to hearken back to the 48 Hrs. flicks, but it didn't measure up to those hopes, and frankly it was forgettable. Well, except for the Sarah Shahi nudity.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Man on Film: A Good Day to Die Hard

After the surprisingly enjoyable fourth installment of the series Live Free or Die Hard, there was actually a bit of hope that the fifth film in the series was going to go the way of the Fast & Furious franchise and kick a whole lot of ass.

That did not happen.

A Good Day to Die Hard was D.O.A. This much should have been expected, I suppose, given that the director (John Moore) this time around was last seen directing Max Payne, but the viability of its predecessor gave false hope. Sadly, the film was a lackluster entry into the canon in nearly every respect. As has been the case far too often lately, Bruce Willis never dialed it in, and his chemistry with his son (played by Jai Courtney) never felt natural. The script was weak. The plot thin. Worst yet, it was completely forgettable, the only film in the series you can say that about.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Man on Film: G.I. Joe: Retaliation

It makes as much sense to do this one now as any. What does one say about G.I. Joe: Retaliation? For starters, it's another lackluster Dwayne Johnson vehicle that fails to utilize his gifts. Add killing off Channing Tatum (and going back and filming a new open and another scene with Tatum and The Rock at Roadblock's house that pushed the release date back nine months) into the mix, and Bruce Willis's inclusion as an afterthought, and you're looking at a whole lot of charismatic talent not being utilized.

If there was a scene from the trailer that had me somewhat excited that at the very least this might have an interesting action sequence or two, it was the cliff-side suspended ninja scene, but the CG was not quite good enough to keep me engaged. It was sort of cool, I guess, but it wasn't like the scenes on the side of the Burj Khalifa in Ghost Protocol or anything.

The one thing Step Up 2: The Streets and Step Up 3D director Jon M. Chu did correctly is show the audience just how fantastic Adrianne Palicki can look when she got all gussied up to go to a ball in Washington. So thanks for that, Mr. Chu.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Man on Film: Snitch

It seems as though there are virtually no directors out there who are able to put Dwayne Johnson's assets to optimal use. Though he is both an insanely charismatic lead and a beast of a man, only Justin Lin has seen fit to utilize his unique skillset, and even then it was in the ensemble piece Fast Five. The Dwayne Johnson star vehicles over the past few years have done a positively woeful job of maximizing the return that could be yielded by letting the star have at it.

Ric Roman Waugh's Snitch was no exception to this.

Waugh, a long-time stunt man whose work you surely remember from Kuffs, Leonard Part 6, Teen Wolf Too, and Tango & Cash, has a relatively lackluster resume on the directorial front, so perhaps this shouldn't be surprising, but netting Dwayne Johnson and then simply putting him behind the wheel of a semi with little in the way of legitimate action sequences was a significant misstep. Proceeding to underutilize Michael K. Williams, slapping a comical goatee on Barry Pepper, and giving Susan Sarandon a less than one-dimensional role as a hard-nosed DA were just icing on the cake.

There are worse ways to spend one's time than watching Snitch, but it certainly doesn't stand out as anything other than run-of-the-mill.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Prick Tunes: the Smashing Pumpkins "Jupiter's Lament"

fashion victims chew their charcoal teeth
Most of the t-shirts were bad. Not the Zero one, but nearly all the others. I don't recall if I realized that at the time but it wouldn't have mattered. We were true believers. A poorly drawn group of swirling barcoded heads. "The World is a Vampire." But, like I said, it didn't matter then. In the year of '96 Billy Corgan was our rawk'n'roll Hero and we hung on to every note and lyric of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and we wore our bad t-shirts with pride. We tracked down the CD singles and the import singles and searched record stores for overpriced bootlegs. These were the days before Napster, kids, and you couldn't just hop on to your computer and get this stuff free with a click of the mouse. We wandered around strip malls in towns like Winona, MN hoping for Billy's home demos or a soundboard concert recording, but left satisfied with even a shoddy audience recorded boot. And it still wasn't enough until The Aeroplane Flies High hit store shelves around Xmas that year. The box set collected all the singles from MCIS and contained a number of previously unreleased demos, outtakes, and newly recorded songs. One song in particular ended up on many a mix tape back then, "Jupiter's Lament." It was the sort of song you hoped would impress girls but more likely left them wondering if you needed antidepressants and a sense of humor. In a track-by-track breakdown in Guitar World magazine, Corgan noted the AFH version of "Jupiter's Lament" was actually a demo and a full band recording was done with all the band members singing on it.

Even after I got old and mostly lost interest in the Pumpkins, I'd occasionally break out MCIS and sometimes wondered what the full band version of "Jupiter's Lament" would have sounded like.  Teenage me's dreams were finally fulfilled last year when Corgan and Co. released a massive six disc MCIS box set which included the song.  It's hard to explain the effect a song can have on you but for a moment I felt like I was 16 years old again and that's probably good enough.  Now if I can only find this Nicolas Cage t-shirt for Old Man Duggan's birthday... 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Reading Rainbow: Cosmopolis by Don DeLillo

I'm way behind for reasons that I don't really care to get into right now and which are only partly due to a weird TV binge that I'm on. I've got a sizable backlog of posts to get to, so some of these upcoming posts will be brief. That, of course, bears no weight on the random post from somebody like word mule, who has a Prick Tunes post coming tomorrow at noon. This will be a brief one.

I quite like Don DeLillo. I positively loved Underworld and White Noise. I liked Falling Man. Cosmopolis was a different story.

Cosmopolis felt like a novel from a bygone era. I suppose much of the reason for that was the author's intent, but that doesn't really make this novel feel any antiquated or played out. Frankly, Cosmopolis felt like a lesser version of Martin Amis's Money or a more recently penned version of Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho or Jay McInerney's Bright Lights Big City. Yes, the latter two writers couldn't hold DeLillo's jock, but that doesn't make Cosmopolis feel any less irrelevant.

Perhaps more importantly, Eric Packer, the lead character who I'll refrain from labeling a protagonist or anti-hero because frankly I don't know what to or care enough to call him anything. His story is one that never engages. DeLillo never draws the reader into Packer in any way, never gives any insight to the character, never imbues him with enough character or pathos or gravitas to ever make one give a fuck about him. Things happen to him and he does things, but they are simply a series of events that bear little in the way of importance to the reader.

Cosmopolis could very well have gone over my head. That doesn't change the fact that I didn't care for it at all.
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