Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Can You Believe I Haven't Seen - The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski

Well, I wrote almost this entire post and then I thought, “Hey I haven’t saved this yet.” So I hit “SAVE” but it opened another window so I said “no” to saving document 2, but then it erased both! I know this has nothing to do with my movie review, but I must vent. Seriously, I was 90% done!

It’s the last day of the month and time for my review of another flick that I really should have seen by now. I’m realizing that I missed a lot of films that came out in the 1990’s. My kids were small then so it’s understandable. What’s funny though is I had Showtime and HBO, but it was before the DVR pause feature, so an entire film was a challenge.

This month I watched The Big Lebowski. I like The Coen Brothers and every actor in this film so it’s amazing I still never found the time for this one.

Jeff Bridges plays schlub Jeff Lebowski who is mistaken for millionaire Jeff Lebowski. This mistaken identity turns their lives and everyone around them completely upside down.

It was great to see John Goodman in such a sizable role as Bridges’ lunatic friend. I must admit to being disappointed in Steve Busemi’s role. He was wasted! He barely had a dozen words in the whole film!

I have a hard time judging this movie fairly. I enjoyed it and I loved the whole “Dude” persona. I was surprised that bowling did not play as central a role as I thought, however, this film has gained such a cult status over the years that a lot of expectations have built up since its original release in 1998. I’m not sure it would have stuck with me the way it has with others. I’ve also heard it’s a love it or hate type of film and I must day I can’t agree with that. I had a good time, but I wasn’t rolling around with laughter. It didn’t strike the same chord with me as Fargo or O Brother, Where Art Thou?. Time will tell if certain things stick with me, or if I feel compelled to watch it again.

I’m not sure what’s in store for September. Maybe I’ll let you guys decide. Here are two films that couldn’t be more different, but the one thing they have in common, I haven’t seen them! So next month, should I check out Babe or Easy Rider?

Chris Issak - Free Download

I've always been a big fan of Chris Issak. I even watched his Showtime TV show. I think I was the only one. Unfortunately, I've never seen him in concert. It's a goal of mine. Anyway, he has a new album coming out soon. Download his new song Live It Up for free!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Song of the Week - Mat Kearney/Hey Mama

A nice toe-tapping diddy from Mat Kearney. You know this one makes you want to get up and move!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Louie Season One - TV Review


*As I went to write my review for Season Two of Louie, I found this entirely written post on my impressions of Season One. For some reason, it never got posted. So, tonight I will post this old one and tomorrow I’ll post my insights on Season Two.

I realize this show is certainly not for everyone, heck Louis C.K. is not for everyone, but some of us need him.

See I was raised to be a connoisseur of comedy. My father loved stand-up comedy and funny was funny, there was no censoring in my house. I grew up listening to comedy albums by clean comics like Bill Crosby and The Smothers Brothers, but there was also, George Carlin, Richard Pryor and Red Foxx. Believe me; Red Foxx’s stand up was nothing like his character in Sanford and Son! In our house comedy was king and stand-up was a true art form. All this needs to be taken in to account when you spend time with Louis C.K.

Watching his new FX show made me want to really dive into to his comedic history. I remember watching a few episodes of his short-lived HBO show Lucky Louie, but at the time it didn’t stick with me. I went back and watched every episode and all of his stand- up specials. He’s truly a comic’s comic.

Look, there’s a lot of stuff he says that I find offensive, but when he hits that right thing…man! His observations on parenthood are spot on. Really listen to him, this guy loves his kids, but it doesn’t mean they don’t work your every last nerve. We know that’s true, you’re just not supposed to say it. This is where I respect Louie as a comedian. He is raw and really puts it out there. To not censor yourself the way he does is amazingly impressive. I think even he’s not okay with some of the things he says, but to be true to the process he’s putting it all out there.

Louis C.K. has been around for a long time and has done a lot of writing for other comedians and TV shows. In the past, it would have been difficult for a guy like him to get a show, but with shows, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and Tosh.0the masses have finally come around the accepting his type of crude un-censored humor.

The first season has been a bit of a hit and miss. The 5th episode where he does a gig in the South was hysterical! But then on the flip side, I don’t think episode 11, dealing with religion, really came across well. I appreciate the creativity though, I really feel like there’s something new and fresh going on here and I’m willing to let the creators work it out.

Another interesting note, much like a Seinfeld episode, each episode of Louie is interspersed with clips of him doing his stand-up act. Unlike Seinfeld, these are often the best part of the show. His bits are fall down funny. I’m often rewinding to hear the jokes again and again. Remember how cheesy Jerry Seinfeld’s bits were? You would groan and hope they would hurry back to the great sitcom banter.

I look forward to season two. The first season ended so sweetly with Louie eating pancakes with his daughters at a diner at 4:00am. It truly warmed my heart. I certainly do not want or expect the show to go in a more gentle and sweet direction, but these tiny touches, thrown in with the brashness, really feels authentic.

Lastly, I enjoy reading credits. You can pick up a lot of interesting facts. It’s common to see an actor has directed a particular episode, but I was surprised to see Louis C.K. with the credit of editor on most of the episodes. That’s different!

I did write about Louie a couple of times last summer. You can check those out here and here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Song of the Week - It's Good to be in Love/Frou Frou

Post script*8/27/11
What a bad blogger I am! I scheduled this video in advance and never added text to it. I'm in the processing of trying to catch up since my back injury. What I wanted to say originally, is how much I love Imogen Heap's voice. She has a unique sound that I find very soothing. I'm a full time cubicle dweller. I NEED music to get me through my day, but I have to keep the volume pretty low. Frou Frou is perfect for keeping it chilling without it being too "elevator!"

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Joss Stone LP1 - Album Review

So if Adele isn't quite bluesy enough for you, give Joss Stone's new album a try. She continally puts out stellar music. Her voice is a little less formal. I can easily picture her at a bus station sing her heart out with a cup on the ground. For this album she paired with Dave Stewart of The Eurythmics fame. I found an interesting video of their collaboration on "Landlord," clearly the break out song on this offering. Also check out "Karma" and "Boatyard."

Do you have this album? What do you think? What are your favorite tracks?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Song of the Week - Jason Mraz/The Remedy

The best songs of the week are the old ones that I've forgotten about. This song came on the radio last week and my reaction was of course, "I love this song! I haven't heard this in forever!" To me, this is why there could never be a replacement for radio. The whole mystery aspect and uncovering buried treasure, is something that can never be replaced by an iPod.
I was not able to embed the original video, but I did find this live performance. He doesn't quite hit that high note in the chorus...
On a side note, I have some old posts that are half done. I threw my back out on Friday, so sitting long periods at the computer were not an option. I'm feeling old, but I'm on the mend. So, look for some backdated posts for last weekend. I'm hoping to get them all up tomorrow. I'm also working on Woody Week. I have three more Woody Allen movies to watch and hopefully, I'll be ready to launch this Sunday.
I'm also dealing with back to school. Tomorrow is a half school day and then "the getting of the school supplies!" Is everyone else's life this crazy right now?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ric Ocasek Sits Down With Stephen Colbert

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Ric Ocasek
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I enjoyed Ric Ocasek's recent interview on The Colbert Report. It was interesting to see because I saw The Cars in concert back in their heyday the 80's. It was the worst concert I ever went to. This was in large because of Ocasek. He clearly did not want to be there and he actually sat on a stool and glared at the audience when he wasn't singing. I felt that he was ungrateful for his fame and wasn't giving his fans their money's worth. Now this was pre-interenet so I never heard anything about that night. For all I know he was very sick, but in "the show must go on" mode. I was a kid and I judged solely by what I saw that night and so he was always an asshole after that to me. Getting older can be a wonderful thing though. Maybe he became sweet or maybe I'm more open minded that something must have been going on that night. Anyways, he won me over and I was ecstatic to hear that he was still married to supermodel Paulina Porizkova. How many of those marriages last? By the way, that woman looks fantastic! So Ric, you're back in my good graces. I also totally dug the new Cars song. I just might download that album. I've put it here for your listening pleasure.
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The Cars - "Keep on Knocking"
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Also, enjoy one of their classics. If you happen to be young and reading this blog, maybe you didn't know who I've been rambling on about. If you listen to this you'll say, "Oh yeah! I've heard that song!" Don't they sound amazing for a bunch of old geezers?

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Exclusive - The Cars - "My Best Friend's Girl"
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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cowboys and Aliens - Movie Review

It seems like summer 2011 is all about fun at the movies. Cowboys and Aliens is yet another, popcorn-munching, special effects extravaganza.

I think a lot of people were on the fence about this one. Seriously, a western involving alien attacks? Even with the star quality of Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig and Jon Favreau in the director’s chair, this still could have been a huge stinker.

Surprisingly, the concept works. Largely, this is because the western storyline is very strong. The aliens didn’t need to show up to make this movie compelling. You have all the right elements of a great western. A struggling town, stranger with a past and an overbearing colonel making the whole town jump to his orders.

Craig and Ford turn in strong performances and play well off of each other. You can always count on Ford to bring a little bit more. His character is not one-sided. His scenes with his son, his assistant and the young boy in town are his strongest moments.

I haven’t seen a Daniel Craig film so I was not familiar with his work. I’m also one of the few women to not find him attractive; he’s a bit rough around the edges for my taste. Frankly, I’ll still take Ford over Craig! I was impressed though and I feel pretty good now about him taking over the lead for the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. He was a believable cowboy and tough guy. He played the role straight, as did all the actors, so that even in the midst of alien absurdity, the plot stayed grounded in some form of reality.

We do need to talk about those aliens though don’t we? Well they were pretty cool. They were cringe inducing and made me jump few times. The audience does have to buy into the fact that this is where this movie is going to go. A little crazy and different, yet accepting it fully will guarantee you one fun day at the cinema.

So what are your thoughts? Did you see it? Did the concept work for you?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Song of the Week - Comeback Kid/ Brett Dennen

Comeback Kid – Brett Dennen

"Comeback Kid (That's My Dog)" Official Music Video from Brett Dennen on Vimeo.

This guy always seems to make fun songs that just make me feel good.

Monday, August 8, 2011

In Time - Trailer

I got my first glimpse at this trailer when I went to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes. This movie looks very interesting. I was quite impressed with Justin Timberlake's acting skills in The Social Network and it will be interesting to see if he carry a whole film. Since I'm not a fan of his music, yet enjoy his SNL stints, I would be completely okay if ditched bringing sexy back and concentrated on acting. How about you? Will you see this? Do you think Timberlake can handle a lead role?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

David Cook - This Loud Morning

CD Review

Something funny happened while I was listening to David Cook’s new CD, This Loud Morning. The first listen I found myself disappointed and none of the songs really stood out. However, when I went to give it a second go round, I found myself excited as each song started. The whole album seemed to have really stuck in my head without me realizing it.

David Cook has a very sexy voice and I think I want his songs to showcase that sexy quality, but he tends towards a more rocker edge. His sound is very middle of the road so it works for me since I don’t listen to a lot of heavy rock. We Believe, Fade Into Me and Take Me As I am are all solid songs and the first single The Last Goodbye is definitely one you’ll be humming. It looks like Mr. Cook won’t be fading into post American Idol obscurity just yet.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

This has been the best summer for movies in years. It’s a shame they can’t stretch these out over a few summers instead of cramming them all in now. Yesterday, my husband had to work from home so my immediate thought was, “What’s the earliest time we can see Rise of the Planet of the Apes once I get home from work?” There was a 6:20pm showing that seemed like it would work.

I have to take a moment here to mention how spoiled I’ve been lately. I live in a cluster of small towns in the San Francisco East Bay. I currently live in one of the older, larger towns, because of this we had the first multiplex theater (but I wasn’t living here yet). Over the years some of the neighboring towns have built up and become quite fancy. My downtown now seems shabby in comparison to their sleek, modern stores and state of the art movie houses. And you know what? I love it!

My theater in no ghost town, but it doesn’t offer the “see and be seen” aspect of some of the newer ones. Due to this fact, there’s never a line and I can literally leave my house 15 to 10 minutes before showtime. Friday, we left around 6pm (20 minutes early) to see Rise of the Planet of Apes, because it was opening night, yet all three of us got good seats. Plus, because we are no longer one the hipper areas, we get incentives to patronize the downtown area. We get free parking that is easy to find and our theater lowered ticket prices to $8.50! Since I boycott overpriced movie food, it’s actually affordable for me to go the movies. I spent the week convincing my teenage son to join us. At his age, he pretty much protests anything I say will be cool. I told him he didn’t want to miss this one. He caved and went along.

Talk about an effective trailer. I saw it months ago and I just knew this film was going to awesome and you know what, it was? It’s the first film this summer I would happily go see in the theater again, right now! The best review I can give is simply to say you should stop reading this and run out to see it right now.

There were many pleasant surprises in this film and I don’t want to give anything away. It a great film that unfolds in its own way and should be viewed as such. The first half is gut-wrenching as you watch the relationship between scientist Will Rodman (James Franco) his subject, a chimp named Ceasar and Will’s father he is in the final stages of Alzheimers.

I cried a lot during the beginning part of this film and my husband informed me I’m no longer allowed to see movies that feature monkeys because I always break down in this way. It’s these strong emotions however, that serve the viewer well in the second half. The CGI in this movie goes to a whole new level. There are no real apes in the film at all, which opens a whole new arena for future films that could be made if you did not need to use trained animals. Of course, the computer alone is not what makes this film better than any other CGI film. The genius of Andy Serkis as Ceasar makes me believe that this performance could garner an Oscar nomination. If you don’t believe Cesar you don’t buy into this entire movie. It completely rests on Serkis’ shoulders and he delivers big time!

It was so much fun to see the apes wreck havoc on San Francisco. This movie holds nothing back on the ape rampage and it is the ultimate summer movie fun. The only complaint I had was the lovely Freda Pinto as a compassionate veterinarian was a completely wasted and undeveloped character. It was unnecessary to give Will a love interest simply to have a love interest. Other than that, the summer movies seem to keep one upping each other. I’m not sure any will top this one. Don’t be Afraid of the Dark? Maybe. Probably not.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Beavis and Butthead Are Back!

This clip was recently unveiled at Comic-Con. MTV is bringing the boys back!

Look, I know I’m a grown woman, but dang if that Beavis & Butthead don’t still know how to me crack up. As happy as I am to see some new Cornholio, please watch to the end of this clip when they start riffing on Jersey Shore. They played just the audio on my local radio station and I was laughing so hard in my car, I almost had to pull over. I can’t wait till these guys are back on MTV.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Stolen Life - Jaycee Dugard

Book Review

I recently read the new memoir by Jaycee Dugard. Her story is amazing.

Jaycee Dugard was eleven years old when she was kidnapped while walking to the school bus stop in Lake Tahoe, California. For eighteen years she would endure a life that no one should ever have to go through, let alone a child. She was a victim of horrible sexual and emotional abuse from her captor, Phillip Garrido. His wife, Nancy Garrido, aided in the abduction of this innocent child and spent years helping him satisfy his sick desire for young girls.

It’s amazing that Jaycee was held captive for eighteen years by this monster. Her story is difficult to read and it will make you angry. You will be angry that someone this sick exists. You will be angry that law enforcement had opportunities to discover her and they didn’t. You will be angry that she never tried to escape and that Nancy, Phillip’s wife, never tried to free her, especially when Garrido was in prison for months. There are many reasons this book will make you angry and that’s okay. What you can’t do while reading this book is judge Jaycee Dugard.

You are not allowed to second guess any decisions she made or emotions she has felt unless you too were held captive for eighteen years and made a sex slave to a pervert. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking there were times when she could have escaped or tried to contact someone, but that is not fair to this amazing woman.

As I read this, I tried to recall my eleven year self. I tried to be honest with what I knew and how easy it would be to manipulate someone so young. This woman had no contact with other human being other than these sickos, for years. It’s impossible to know what you would do to survive this type of situation.

Dugard did survive and she raised two daughters that Garrido fathered. Since she was found in 2009, she has been reunited with her mother and younger sister. Dugard not only goes through the painful years in her book, but also gives you a glimpse into her life now. To know that now she is still not truly “free” because she is dogged by the media is quite troubling. I hope as the fascination of her experience wears off she can live in peace.

As far as a book goes, Dugard talks in a very frank and simple style. She’s also careful to keep her experiences in the same way they appeared to her as an innocent young girl. At the end of each chapter she shares a reflection of how she now views the situation. This is not a long book, yet I was compelled to read it quickly. It’s hard to stay in Dugard’s world for long, it’s amazing she was able to.

Her story has an even deeper connection for me because Antioch, California where she was held captive for 18 years, is only a few towns over from where I live. I felt if she was brave enough to tell her story I owed her my time to read it. I’m so impressed with her as a human being and because of her laws will be changed and we can only hope this will never happen to another child.

I wish peace and love to be in her life and after learning a bit about her, I’m confident that she’ll know how to make this happen for her and her family. In the end, this is a story about hope and never giving up. It’s a tough read, but I hope you will read it. I’ve also included her sit down interview with Diane Sawyer.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Captain America - Movie Review

If everyone has been telling you that Captain American is a much better film than you would expect, hold on while I jump on that bandwagon.

I loved the first Iron Man film and the rebooted Hulk with Ed Norton. I’m down with The Avengers movie next summer, but I didn’t feel pressured to see ALL of the movies. Thor looked a bit far-fetched to me, but then I heard some good things. By the time I finally decided to give it a try, I missed it. I’ll have to catch it on DVD, but since I have a dinosaur of a TV, something will be lost.

I also wasn’t quite sure about Captain American. The suit looks a bit cheesy and Chris Evans already played Human Torch in The Fantastic Four. I had a lot of other summer movies on my list…then I saw the trailer.

I have a general knowledge of super heroes, meaning that I have at least heard of them. As far as origins go, I’m a bit weak. I did not know that Captain America takes place during World War II and that he was created to fight Nazis. This already had my interest. Then when I found out he was a scrawny little guy who becomes a fine fighting machine, I was sold. I’m a tiny woman and I always like seeing the little guy kick some ass!

If you wonder why Chris Evans was cast as another superhero, you’ll understand early into this film. This guy is not simply a gob of muscles. He’s very likeable and quite funny. He manages to make character Steve Rogers, sensitive, tough and heroic. You want to see this guy whip the Nazi’s, save his friends and hopefully, get the girl.

There was also a deeper story than I initially thought. It’s not as simple as they pump this guy up and then let him loose. Every bit of the story is well earned and if you’re looking for a super creepy villain that gives you goosebumps, this is your film. True, Stephen Colbert accurately referred to him as a sunburnt James Carville, Red Skull is one menacing dude!

Even with a great a hero and villain, you still need the supporting characters to be interesting and well-rounded. Here too, this movie delivers. Stanley Tucci as Dr. Erskine, doesn’t disappoint as a German scientist who refuses to help Hitler’s army, Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, is a tough British female officer, who just may be falling for our hero and Sebastin Stan is simply delicious as Steve Rogers devoted friend and fellow solider Bucky. Captain American had a few too many muscles for me. My eyes were on Stan whenever he was on the screen. Funny, when I looked him up later, I discovered I’d seen every film he’s been in! The only one I can remember noticing him in was Hot Tub Time Machine, because he stood out as the only good looking guy in the film.

The special effects were amazing and truly offered every type of action chase scene you could want, except for maybe outer space! Speeding trains, car chases and airplane sequences were gorgeously filmed and kept me on the edge of my seat. I even inadvertently cheered out loud a couple of times.

This definitely got me more revved up than ever for The Avengers movie next summer. I was a bit shocked at how many people left the theater as soon as the credits started to roll. I can’t be the only nerd who knows they show a clip of the next installment at the end of each film. One couple stayed for 90% of the credits and then walked out! Maybe they all saw it at Comic-Con? Anyway, don’t worry, there’s a juicy bit for you if you stay till the end.

Now I liked Green Lantern, but Captain American truly did surpass it in every way. The storyline, the acting and the special effects, were all high class. Plus, as far-fetched as super hero movies can be this one never took itself too seriously. First Harry Potter, than this, I’m on a summer roll!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Song of the Week - Skyscraper/Demi Lovato

There are so many teen singers right now and kids starring in shows on The Disney Channel and Teen Nick, that’s it’s next to impossible to keep track of them all. Now that my kids are older they do not watch these shows so it’s even harder to know who half of these fresh-faced teens are. Demi Lovato we all know though because she famously stepped away from the teen bubble and sought treatment from bulimia and other speculated issues. Apparently, her rock bottom doesn’t even come close to what we’re use to seeing these days in Hollywood. Now she’s back with a song that’s growing on me a little more every time I hear it. I think it’s because she now has what these other teenyboppers lack, wisdom and personal pain to draw on. You can hear it in her voice. You go Demi!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part Two

It was a long journey with young Harry Potter. I’ve been there since the beginning and just as Harry and his classmates have grown and changed, my life is also different.

When the first film came out my kids were 8 and 5. Now, I’m the mother of an adult who was working and couldn’t go with me and a teenager who had no interest in attending the final film with his parents. The first film was a family event with my brother-in-law and close family friend in attendance. We kept that intact through the first few films. Slowly, things changed. Our busy lives found us struggling to make sure we saw the films on the big screen. My oldest stopped reading the books as school work became more difficult, but she’s remained a fan. My son doesn’t seem to care what happens to Potter and the gang, what are you going to do?

So it was my husband, me and my brother-in-law, no kids, to sit down and find out how it all ends. Lately, I’ve wanted to stay away from the 3-D gimmick, but since this was the last one, we all decided to go for it. I’m glad we did because the 3-D quality was top-notch.

I had a lot of problems with The Deathly Hallows Part One. Just because you title something Part One doesn’t mean you can get away with it not being a stand alone movie. The entire film was all build up without any payoff. If they wanted to do it that way then they needed to release the films much closer together.

However, the long wait was over and where part one was meandering, part two was a roller-coaster ride. Harry, Hermione and Ron are ready to do battle against the evil Voldermort and they will not back down.

What has always set the Harry Potter films apart is the fully fleshed out storylines. Nothing ever seems to be the easiest way to tie up a story. The characters are complex and while there were no knock me out of my seat surprises, the final installment did take me places I didn’t expect.

I’m sure I’m the last person on the planet to have seen this, but I’m still not going to give anyway any plot points. I will say that I think you will be satisfied with the conclusion. I have not read the books, I’m saving them for my retirement years. I’m sure the book readers did not feel all their desires were met, but how could you possibly cover all that materiel?

It will be interesting to see where Radcliffe, Watson and Grint go from here. I know Radcliffe is making quite a name for himself on Broadway. I like that he’s okay with being attached to Harry Potter and seems to appreciate the opportunities it has provide him. He’s also a pretty funny guy. Check out this great interview from The Daily Show.
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Daniel Radcliffe
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Check another review of Harry Potter over at Top 10 Films.