Category Archives: Reviews

Film, books, TV, theater, magazines…

Let’s Finish That Feast

Last night while watching the Oscars I saw a Fancy Feast commercial that got all messed up somehow… I think they played it in the wrong order or something. I swear the first part came last and then they cut it off… I was pissed! I thought I’d missed out on a Fancy Feast saga!

In case this happened to you, too, I went and found it on YouTube. Turns out it’s just a lame cat food commercial… and yet, so much more compelling than those Oscars were.

I did think of a way James Franco and Anne Hathaway could redeem themselves – they could remake this commercial together and give it some darker ending. I mean, no kitties can be harmed. But maybe the woman loves the cat more than the man and she breaks up with him. Maybe the woman really has curly hair and then straightens it so she can make it in Hollywood and then the man thinks she’s a manic loser.

I don’t know… Franco is the one with all the ideas.

Black Mama, White Mama & Motorcycles

My parents kept a copy of the edition of the Appleton Post-Crescent from the day I was born – May 3rd, 1973. Recently, this paper came into my possession (along with all the other flotsam and jetsam from my childhood when my parents cleaned out their storage shed).

Keith took this photo of some of the movies section of the paper on that day:

I think this says a lot about the time I was born into. The 41 Outdoor was playing two X-rated films – Love Under 17 and Sensuous Teen. Not only can I not imagine these films ever playing at a theater now, I really can’t imagine them playing at an outdoor theater on a 50-foot screen. There would be an uproar.

The other big thing seems to have been movies about motorcycling – The Wild Angels, Hell’s Angels ’69, Hells Angels on Wheels and Angels From Hell. Is it just me or does this seem like many variations on one theme?

But the most interesting films are definitely Black Mama, White Mama and Night of the Cobra Women at the Tower Outdoor. How cool is that double bill?

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These Liaisons… They Are Dangerous

dangerous castI made a disturbing discovery this weekend. My teenage self was an unreliable narrator. How else to explain how I’d convinced myself for years, since first seeing the film on VHS, that Dangerous Liaisons (1988) is a story well-told? Was it the same misguided taste that led me to believe that Ponderosa Steakhouse was a place to get a superb meal?

My memory of this film is of a breathless, tightly-wound drama full of sex and intrigue acted by amazing thespians (Glenn Close, John Malkovich, Michelle Pfeiffer)  in gorgeous period costumes. Clearly, my high school self was blown away. (It didn’t take much.)

But the cold (adult) reality? A horribly written mess with comical casting. The official summary of the film is, “Rich and bored aristocrats in Rococo France play high-stakes games of passion and betrayal.”  My summary would be more along the lines of, “Rich and bored aristocrats try to keep themselves busy and, in so doing, change their motivation once every day or so, so often, in fact, that the viewer gets lost and bored and starts to concentrate on John Malcovich’s teeth and why they were not fixed if he was going to pursue a life in the movies.”

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Nothing On TV, Let’s Watch a Movie: The Devil’s Advocate

devilsAdvocateRebecca: So I think it’s interesting that we decided to watch this movie now, right when we’re talking about moving to New York so you can take a job at a law firm and I can paint the walls of our expensive “classic 8” apartment every other day. Uh, are you rethinking this decision at all?

Keith: Listen, woman, I’ve never lost a case, I have an undefinable Southern accent and I like to bite women on the ass while dancing. New York is the place for me.

Rebecca: Well, I learned a lot from watching this movie. Yellow walls and maroon furniture don’t go well together.

Keith: Did you notice the way the wall colors of the apartment kept changing and Mary Ann (Charlize Theron), in her final breakdown, even said something like, “Did you like the green?” There was this weird agenda in the movie that only evil city people try to decorate their apartments, and then they do it badly.

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Golden Globes 2011 – The Recap

Well. If you look at many of my predictions for the Globes, I was sorely mistaken. My biggest mistake was in overestimating just how much Johnny Depp Kool-Aid the HFP was drinking. Depp got two nominations but was then passed over in favor of Paul Giamatti for his role in a movie called Barney’s Version or Barney’s Vision that I’m fairly certain only 13 people in Manhattan ever saw.

Besides, now the mystery of Johnny Depp has moved on from, “Why did he get two nominations for two very mediocre films?” to “Why is he so orange?” And I do mean orange. ORANGE.

This is what Depp used to look like:

depp not orange

And this is what he looked like last night, although this photo does not capture the full Tangy-ness of the man:

johnny depp orange

It’s as if he got a bit too enamored of his Pirates of the Caribbean make-up and decided to keep it as his day look.

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Don’t Make Me Go All Black Swan On Your A**

black-swan smallThere’s been quite a bit of controversy over Black Swan, the new Darren Aronofsky-directed film starring Natalie Portman as a ballerina descending into madness as she prepares to dance the role of a lifetime and competes with a perceived rival (played by Mila Kunis). Is it good? Is it bad? People seem deeply divided. Manohla Dargis of The New York Times wrote that its got a, “giddy, sometimes sleazy exploitation-cinema savvy.” Some critics have said it’s cliched, others that it’s stunning. The Hollywood Reporter said, “The movie is so damn out-there in every way that you can’t help admiring Aronofsky for daring to be so very, very absurd.”

When I went to see the movie on Tuesday night the Uptown Theater in Minneapolis had a nice-sized crowd.This despite the fact that it was God-awful cold and parking was a bitch. But, then again, most of us had been trapped in our homes all weekend during the blizzard and were aching to get out. If getting out meant going to see something completely deranged, all the better. We need to take our minds off the fact that we are completely deranged for living in such brutal conditions. It’s always fun to watch people crazier than you are. Much more fun, by the way, than watching a preview of Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart alternately cry and yell at each other in a preview for thefilm Rabbit Hole.

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Ranking The Hits of Duran Duran

DD DecadeOn a recent afternoon I pulled out my copy of Duran Duran’s Decade, their collection of mega-hits from the 80s. I don’t think DD gets its due when it comes to discussing the hit makers of the 80s – some even described them as a “throw-away pop group.” Shudder. What other band so perfectly exemplifies the 80s use of heavy synth, nonsense lyrics and sex appeal? NOT Def Leppard, that’s for sure. If I were to order the songs on this disc into my perfect DD Queue Of Good Times, it would go like this:

1. Rio – my favorite DD song, hands down. I recently put it on a playlist that I will listen to while I fly to NYC. “Dancing on the sand” is such an 80s, Eurotrash thing to do. I love it. I wish I could say it was one of my hobbies on Facebook. I also hope that at some point in my life someone comes up to me and says, “I’ve seen you on the beach and I’ve seen you on TV.” The best DD beats. If you played “Rio” in a club today, people would still get out there and dance it up. Of course, they also still get out there for “YMCA.” There’s no accounting for taste.

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I’m A Drummer! Reliving Hysteria Part V

logo_def_leppardAnd now we come to the real “meat and potatoes” of this story. Ah, Episode V, where it all comes together and it all falls apart…

This section of the movie was partially based on a school essay by Cole Montgomery, age 15, titled “Why I Want To Be A Rock Star.” As you’ll see, his reasoning is somewhat sound – no homework, no adults telling you what to do (except for your manager and your band mates), lots of drinking, all-you-can-eat titty bar, lots of drinking, drugs, rad clothes, sports cars and drinking.

But, lo, what is this? Why, it’s a cautionary tale…

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I’m A Drummer! Reliving Hysteria Part IV

logo_def_leppardAs you may have been able to tell from the crankiness of my last post, I was in need of some serious rest and relaxation over the holiday weekend. I could not bring myself to face another episode of Hysteria! Even the act of eating had lost its allure. What? I have to eat something, like, again? And there’s nothing in the refrigerator because I threw everything away in anticipation of being out of town? Oh, bother. And let me tell you, that’s not my usual mode of operation at all.

Not at all.

Am I better now? Have I revived myself? Not quite. I would like very much for someone to braid my hair while I watch cartoons and rock back and forth.

But duty calls. Must view Hysteria Part IV…

And what is this? The best episode yet, that’s what! Hold on, kids, we’re covering a lot of ground today.

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I’m A Drummer! Reliving Hysteria Part III

logo_def_leppardThe work week before the big holiday weekend grinds slowly by… tick… tock. The clock, it hardly moves! Let’s take a break and get caught up on the trials and tribulations of Def Leppard. If you haven’t seen episodes one and two, let me catch you up. These guys lived in Sheffield, they formed a band, one guy got pissed and left, they made an album, played shows, got some sort of agent. But the dark cloud of trouble hangs over them…

We know it’s only a matter of time before someone mismanages funds, the record companies screw them, women leave them, they leave women, someone drinks themself to death, someone OD’s, someone punches someone else in the mouth, someone gets caught not paying taxes, someone shoots someone with an antique gun that wasn’t supposed to be loaded or someone sleeps with a minor…

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