August 31, 2004

MOVIE REVIEW: Infernal Affairs

...I will try to post a review of this movie - which has been snatched up by Miramax for a North American remake) - soon. The foreign DVD has been available for some time now. In fact, Infernal Affairs II and Infernal Affairs III are already out on DVD, too, outside of North America. Although Miramax is remaking it (supposedly with Brad Pitt in one of the lead roles), at least they are still planning on releasing the original version next month, even if It will only receive a limited run. So anyway, I've seen the DVD. Most of you will have the luxury of (maybe) getting to see it in the theater your first time. So I'll put some information together about it soon.

August 18, 2004

MOVIE NEWS: "Life Aquatic" Trailer

Well, well, well. We finally have something to envision in our heads when we're daydreaming of that day ahead in December, when we get to sit in those cushy seats at our local cineplex and witness Wes Anderson's next film, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. The first trailer for the film has just been released and can be viewed in multiple formats (QuickTime, Windows Media).
After watching it myself, I can tell you it looks to be nothing short of another classic.
The Life Aquatic was written by Wes Anderson (Royal Tenenbaums, Rushmore, Bottle Rocket) and Noah Baumbach (Highball, Mr. Jealousy, Kicking and Screaming), as well as being produced and directed by Anderson.
It stars Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett, Willem Dafoe (in an unusual role for him), Michael Gambon, Anjelica Huston & Jeff Goldblum. One thing you may notice when perusing that cast is possibly the only downfall I can Kumar (a regular on Wes Anderson's sets)! I guess he was too busy filming The Terminal with Tom Hanks. Nonetheless, this looks like it will be well worth the wait.

August 13, 2004

BOOK NEWS: Craig Thompson's New One

I've been meaning to post something about this for some time now, but one book that I'm going to have to pick up real soon is Craig Thompson's Carnet de Voyage. I'm actually pretty shocked that I haven't already picked it up and read through the whole thing.
Craig's last book, Blankets, was the first graphic novel I've ever read. And I absolutely loved it. Although it was over 500 pages, It was a real quick read (obviously, since it's all pictures). But the thing I loved about it was that I could identify with the book's main character (who was very much based upon Craig himself) so well. I can't count how many times I stopped in the middle of reading to think about similar things that happened in my life while growing up and and to remember having the very same feelings about those events. I seriously couldn't put it down, as overused of an expression that is! But I think even if you didn't identify with his story as much, you'd still be captivated by Craig's storytelling ability and his incredible talent for illustration. It's sort of a coming-of-age book, an incredibly powerful and endearing story of self-discovery, love, and the search for meaning.
Anyway, Carnet de Voyage is Craig's new book. Thompson has made it clear, though, that this is in no way the follow-up to Blankets, and if you expect that you may be disappointed. Rather, it's a chronicle of Craig's own travels through Europe while he was out there gathering material for his next story. Carnet de Voyage is more of a travel journal - but one that is illustrated, of course.
Without knowing much more about it - I want to go into it with a clean slate in my head - there's really nothing else I can tell you, except that I'm sure it's very well done and it will be a part of my collection someday very soon.
Have I piqued your interest at all?

MUSIC NEWS: P.T.L. - More Free Downloads!

Dear Pedro,
Wow. You are so kind. Really. You must really love us. Everything you do makes us just want to love you back even more. Thank you for offering up more free downloads of live recordings from your last tour, specifically 21 songs from your recent show in Omaha, NE. That was awfully nice of you. We really do appreciate it. I visited your site Wednesday and downloaded the first seven that were made available. And you can bet I will be back next week to sweep up the next septuplet and the following week to seal the deal with the final seven songs from the show.
As I was saying, you're such a nice guy for giving to your fans so much. I guess that's why I bought your record, Achilles Heel, you support what you're doing and to say thanks in return. By the way, great record, man. You've really outdone yourself this time.
Hey! I just remembered something. I think I saw you shooting some pool down at Snookers last weekend. Was that you? I know it was. Sorry I didn't come over and say 'hi'. You know how it is, though. I was with some people. You were with someone. We were both having a good time with our respective company. Besides, I didn't want to disrupt your game. If I see you down there again sometime, I'll come over.
Anyway, I'll wrap it up here. Don't wanna get gay. Thanks again for those free mp3s. Can't pass those up. I'll be listening to them a lot. I'm sure of it.
Well, see you later, dude. Like, maybe sometime after November, when the rubber hits the road and you're back out on tour. I'll definitely have to make it out to see you if you come through Detroit again (the show at the Magic Stick last month was really great). Well, In the meantime, you have yourself a nice little break! Take it easy for awhile. Oh, and say hello to Mrs. Pedro for me. Later, DB.
Your loyal friend,
Mike Jonze

August 12, 2004

MOVIE NEWS: Eternal Sunshine DVD Release

September 28th. That's it. That's the day Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind will be playing at my house, on my DVD player. Could be the same for you if you want it. No details yet on what kind of special features will be included, but I'm sort of expecting something good, based on how experimental and imaginative this movie was. I will be sorely disappointed if Focus Features gives it the same boring treatment that they gave the Lost in Translation DVD.

August 11, 2004

MUSIC NEWS: Garden State O.S.T .

The soundtrack for the film Garden State was released in stores yesterday (Aug.10). It definitely qualifies as one of the better soundtracks in recent years. Here's the tracklist:

1. Coldplay - Don't Panic
2. The Shins - Caring is Creepy
3. Zero 7 - In The Waiting Line
4. The Shins - New Slang
5. Colin Hay - I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You
6. Cary Brothers - Blue Eyes
7. Remy Zero - Fair
8. Nick Drake - One of These Things First
9. Thievery Corporation - Lebanese Blonde
10. Simon & Garfunkel - The Only Living Boy in New York
11. Iron & Wine - Such Great Heights
12. Frou Frou - Let Go
13. Bonnie Somerville - Winding Road

You people should already have much of the music from this in your collections already. If not, consider yourself scolded. But in the event that you don't have any of it because you haven't heard of any of these artists or if you're a completist like me (there are a few there even I haven't heard) and you just have to have it because you love the movie so much, then you must definitely go pick this soundtrack up.
If you live in a small podunk town without access to a record store that would actually stock this album, or if you just don't feel like leaving your home b/c you're too busy surfing the net and magazines, reading all the praises of this sure-to-be stellar film, then just go and buy it from Amazon or wherever else is your preferred source for ordering music online.

August 6, 2004

MOVIE NEWS: "Zatoichi" hits more screens

Takeshi Kitano's "The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi" gets an expanded release in theaters today, after being released in limited engagements back on July 23rd. Check it out soon! It probably won't be showing in this many theaters for very long. Since it's subtitled, most dumb Americans won't want to have to read while watching their movie and Miramax will probably pull it off screens.
But it's a wicked cool movie - go see it!

The official "Zatoichi" website
Trailer (in Quicktime)

August 4, 2004

MOVIE REVIEW: Maria Full of Grace

We caught a special free screening last night at the Maple Art Theater. It was for Joshua Marston's debut film, Maria Full of Grace. Upon exiting, when approached by an employee of the theater holding a clipboard and asked what I thought of it, I deftly came up with this remarkably unique response: "It was really good." Yeah, It'll probably end up on the movie posters. Keep an eye out.

Maria Alvarez is a seventeen-year-old girl with enormous resolve growing up outside Bogotá, Colombia. She works a sweatshop-type job pulling thorns off of roses. Her paychecks end up going straight to her mother to help care for her unemployed and unwed sister's baby. As if not seeing any of her hard earned money isn't enough, she also has an aimless boyfriend and she's missed her last two periods. Maria finally decides she's had enough of being treated like crap at work and quits her job. Though her mother and sister relentlessly pressure her to go back and apologize and ask for her job back, she refuses to do so. And though her boyfriend suggests they get married because of the baby-on-the-way and move into his house, which already has ten people living in it, she has no intention of doing that, either. Instead, Maria plans a trip into the city to visit her friend who works as a maid for a rich family, hoping something might open up for her there.

On her way into the city, however, Maria is presented with another opportunity, one that involves travelling. Sounds good right? Well, no. It's actually a position as a "drug mule." In exchange for a fairly sizable - at least, for Maria - sum of cash, she'll have to swallow about 60 horsepill-sized balloons full of heroin, hitch a flight, take some laxatives and hand the goods over to some thugs in New York. She is warned of the dangers involved. If she's caught by foreign customs, she'll be put in jail. If she loses any of the drugs, the boss will go have a "talk" with her family. And, best of all, if any of the balloons burst in her stomach, she'll probably die. Her new boss alleviates any of her fears, though, and easily convinces her to go along with it.

It's a tense ride, as we witness Maria's determination and will to survive what was promised to be an easy job with little risk, but which turns out to be far from it. In order to pull through, Maria must exude extraordinary grace (hence the title of the film) and poise under circumstances which would normally have people buckling under in no time. It becomes clear why Maria keeps pushing forward; she wants more than anything to free herself from the confines of the life she left behind in Colombia and to find a better life for her and the baby growing inside her.

Writer and Director Joshua Marston, a U.C. Berkeley and N.Y.U. graduate, has crafted a highly impressive feature-length debut. This'll look very good on his resumé. Maria's journey is captured in incredible, grim detail. Marston's film is complimented by impressive performances all around (most notably from Catalina Sandino Moreno as the titular character) and through the use of vivid imagery thanks to Director of Photography Jim Denault, who has already received a good amount of praise for several of his previous independent works (City of Ghosts, The Believer, Boys Don't Cry).

If you're in the mood for a powerful film, a snippet of Colombian culture that doubles as an artistic representation of capitalism at its darkest, this film is a pretty good choice for you. And remember what it says on the poster: "It was really good. - Mike Jonze"

Official Website for Maria Full of Grace

MUSIC NEWS: Damn - The Beta Band Call It Quits!

This friggin' sucks! On Monday, the Beta Band posted news on their website that they have decided to punch out. What the heck for! Here's what they said:

"Sadly, eight years of hard work and critical acclaim but little return in terms of commercial success inevitably takes its toll and a group decision was made to finally lay the band to rest."

Right after they release a stellar new album, Heroes to Zeros, that is received well by almost everyone? Doesn't make any sense! I don't know what enormous level of success they were going after. I'd say they were pretty successful. Maybe they just had a bad record contract and weren't seein' any of the money. Or maybe they got sick of splitting it four ways. Anyway, the decision to end it was mutual and friendly. No hard feelings. They will be bidding everyone adieu with a farewell tour throughout the UK this fall. Yeah, like there's a chance in hell that I'll make it out to one of those shows. I drove three and half hours to Washington DC once to see them open for Radiohead, and God unleashed the seven plagues on us to ensure that it didn't happen. It was one of the most excrutiating days of my life. No way am I spending $800 or more on a plane ticket to London, a concert ticket, plus travelling expenses just to see that happen again. I just have to accept that I missed out on what was probably an amazing live performance.

Anyway, I'm not going to get too sad. I got dumped, but that doesnt' mean I'm not still in love with them. And it doesn't mean I'm going to quit stalking them. Steve Mason is now putting the finishing touches on King Biscuit Time's first full-length effort. If you've ever heard King Biscuit's New Style EP, you know that this release should soften the blow of the Beta Band's breakup quite a bit. In addition, Mason and Richard Greentree, another member of the group, are both working on their own respective solo albums. So there's still a lot in store for us from these guys.

The other two members of the Beta Band, John Maclean and Robin Jones, will both continue working in film and music. No specifics have been given.

August 3, 2004




A Few More Snapshots:
-Ryan and Emily entering the reception and cutting the cake.
-Dan and JaNell kissing in the aisle.
-Dana and I, after Ryan & Emily's wedding...and one more.

Just thought it'd be nice to share those pictures. I'm pretty sure none of these people read my blog or even know about it, but oh well. I also wanted to extend my congratulations to these friends of ours and thank them for allowing Dana and I to be a part of both of their wedding days. Dan and JaNell were married a little over a week ago now, and Ryan and Emily were just married this past Sunday. Both weddings were super nice. I know I had a good time at them, and I'm sure that Dana did, too (she was a bridesmaid in both weddings and was totally beautiful). So thanks for inviting us and allowing us to share in the celebration.

Anyway, we're excited for both couples and look forward to seeing what's ahead for you guys. Congratulations!