Friday, August 29, 2008

See Daniel Knox while it's still affordable

This is the second Knox video I've done this year. Originally, the footage on the screen was going to be Kelsey and I dancing on rooftops with July 4th fireworks going off behind us. I shot a version of this but wasn't too happy. I went with what's below.

Daniel Knox is playing in the Hamptons this weekend. He's opening for Rufus Wainwright. On Monday he plays the Cake Shop on the Lower East Side of NYC.

Please watch the video. I promise you'll enjoy the song.


76. "Conversations with Other Women"
What a wonderfully simple story. A man and a woman that once knew each other and connect at a wedding. That's it. There are four, maybe five, speaking parts. In less than 90 minutes we get a good glimpse of why these two can't be together. Simple but great.

What groundbreaking camerawork. Using a split-screen, first time director Hans Canosa focuses on her two characters. Occasionally the frames will overlap. Occasionally we'll see flashbacks that might have happened or alternate endings to scenes. Think "Eternal Sunshine" but without any of the Michel Gondry effects. Canosa uses something simple like using two cameras at all times to create something wholly original.

I can't rave about this film enough. I seem to be enjoying works that could've or were plays. "Conversations with Other Women" would work as a play. With solid performances by Aaron Eckhart and Helena Bonham Carter, the relationship seems real. All in all, watch this film.

Side note: Though I'm not sure if this is true since I read it on Wikipedia, it seems that the director cut the film herself because an editor that was brought in couldn't cut two cameras at the same time. Since Canosa never edited a film, she taught herself Final Cut Pro and did it all on a Mac.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Last show(s)

Twin Wrecks the Memory is playing their last show tomorrow night (8/29) at the Empty Bottle. Kelsey and I will be DJing in between sets. While it'll be fun, it does suck that these guys are calling it quits. They've been one of the most consistently good garage rock bands in Chicago for the last five years.

If you can't make it out to this show, head over to Ronny's, where another band I like is calling it quits. Beard, a three piece consisting of violin, bass and drums, is also tossing in the towel.

All bands breakup. Some do it too soon. I think that's what is happening this Friday night.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

This was nominated for an Oscar?

75. "The Stranger"
Orson Welles directed this 1946 film about a Nazi that has come to Connecticut to begin a new life. Welles plays the Nazi being followed by Edward G. Robinson. The story could have been told in 2/3 the time. What keeps "The Stranger" watchable are Welles interesting camera angles.

Welles' character has a fascination with clocks. The town clock hasn't worked in years. Welles works on the clock day and night until it finally chimes. It's pretty clear that this clock will play some role in his demise early in the film. Nevertheless, this aspect of the film doesn't get too predictable. Multiple shots of a rickety ladder at odd angles give the viewer a sense of unrest. Though I may be observing something from film school 101, I still enjoyed it.

Fans of Welles will enjoy the film. Fans of noir, which is how "The Stranger" is usually classified, will be disappointed.

Worst thus far?

74. "The Onion Movie"
This was filmed in 2003. It was released in June of 2008. It shouldn't have seen the light of day. Everyone that distanced themselves from it was correct.

It is that bad. It's worse than bad "Mad TV." It's worlds from The Onion News Network. It's difficult to imagine how bad this thing is. I can't really do justice to it.

Don't rent or buy this thing. This blog,, has a rip of the entire movie. I dare anyone to get through 20 minutes. I watched all 80. I thought there would be one redeeming moment.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


73. "Meet Bill"
Aaron Eckhart is one of those actors that I'll watch in anything. I should stop doing that. "Meet Bill" didn't work. I wasted 90 minutes because I happen to like most of what I've seen of Eckhart.

Bill works in a bank. The band his father-in-law owns. His wife is sleeping with the local news anchor. Bill is stuck in a rut. He begins to mentor a free spirit kid that either wants to fuck Jessica Alba or just needs an excuse to wear women's underwear. Bill gets high, begins to eat better, possibly fucks Alba's friend and does other things that make his eyes open up to blah blah blah.

There's a lot of stuff in this film that could have worked. None of it did. Instead, you get a film that seems 'indie' in all the wrong ways.


72. "Lars and the Real Girl"
Ryan Gosling should have been nominated for Best Actor, the film should have been nominated for Best Picture and it definitely should have beaten "Juno" for Best Original Screenplay. There are no flaws in this film.

Lars is a loner. He lives in a small town in what's supposed to be Wisconsin. He lives in the garage of the house he grew up in. His brother and wife live in the main house. Lars works in a cubicle. Lars can't stand human touch. Lars orders a Real Doll. Lars' Real Doll is his girlfriend in the most Christian sense of the word. The townspeople do not mock Lars. The Real Doll becomes something real. All of this sounds like the film would be awful, pandering for cheap laughs and social stereotypes. It does none of that. Instead, screenwriter Nancy Oliver wrote an original story that paints a portrait of delusion that is heartbreaking but, all in all, not that bad.

It's a simple film. The shots are beautiful. The acting is superb. It's heavy but not overbearing. I can not think of an original film released in 2007 better than "Lars and the Real Girl."

Clowning around

71. "Capturing the Friedmans"
The rare documentary that doesn't tell you who really does what. You may feel one way about the child molester, but you're never sure if he's actually a child molester. "Capturing the Friedmans" answers no questions in the best possible way.

The father is accused of abusing boys from his computer class. He's quiet. He denies the allegations. He does not deny that he has child pornography. The students accounts vary. The accusations seem exaggerated. The townspeople develop a mob mentality. The father takes a plea. The son that's also accused takes a plea. No question is accurately answered. At the end of the two hour documentary I found myself online, looking for what each living member of the Friedman's is doing.

A wonderful documentary that may make some with a history of sexual abuse queasy.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Jack Black on heroin = funny

70. "Tropic Thunder"
If anything, this film proves that Ben Stiller is a good director, Jack Black can still be funny, Robert Downey Jr. has a great sense of humor and most of all, Tom Cruise may be crazy but he seems to be alright with that.

Yes, the movie is insensitive but it's insensitive to everyone, so it's not as offensive, like Archie Bunker, right?

It's good. I don't think it'll be the funniest film of the year, but it's very good.

This photo should've been the cover

33. George Burns "George Burns' How to Live to Be 100 or More"
The book has a 14 point font and very large margins. If you sat down and read it for an hour you'd finish with 15-minutes to kill.

If you like jokes about old dudes making whoopee with young ladies, this book is for you. If you like jokes about being Jewish and old and making whoopee with young broads, you should get this book tattooed on your back.

Don't trust bongo players

32. Richard P. Feynman "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!"
What a dick. Sure, the guy helped create the atom bomb and won a Nobel Prize in physics, but he should keep his stories about fucking and charming everyone to himself.

This book consists of Feynman reminiscing about random events from his life, like deciding to play drums in Brazil, sketching nude women, hypnotism, building radios as a child and more. This style makes it ideal for bathroom reading. You're not stuck in any story too long and if you feel like the guy is just bragging, which is often, it's all over within three pages.

I did enjoy the last part of the book, which was taken from a lecture. Maybe I should just read Feynman when he's talking about science.

Hippy-Dippy Yippy?

69. "Butterflies Are Free"
Goldie Hawn is in her underwear for the majority of this film.

A hippy, Hawn, moves in to a San Francisco apartment that shares a wall with some dude that likes to stare at her. She's kind of pissed of her likes to stare. She goes over say hello. They talk. 10 minutes into their conversation she realizes he's blind. Wow! This guy can't see anything! He wasn't staring at all! Maybe they could work as a couple! He wants to be a singer-songwriter! Because butterflies are free! Like you and me!

This film was a play. There are five characters. It's set in three locations. It works. I enjoyed it.

The music kinda blows. But to be fair, the guy is blind, so maybe his lack of one sense made the sucking worse. What a bad joke.

Artsy tits

68. "Cashback"
When I watched this film it was currently the most watched film on the Netflix "Watch Instantly" list. That is because there is a cornucopia of bare breasts.

"Cashback" is about an art school student that has just gone through a breakup. He suffers from insomnia and decides to take a job at a 24-hour grocery store. While working he realizes he can freeze time. While freezing time he admires the female form, taking off dresses and blouses and paints them. In other words, there are a lot of tits in "Cashback."

The story is alright, the dialogue gets a little annoying but the camera work is wonderful. If I didn't write about this film I would've forgotten everything within a month.

Side note: It sees that if you want to make bare breasts artsy, just have the actress not smile, move slowly (if at all) and have something like Mazzy Star or Elliott Smith music begin to creep in once the shirt or sweater begins to leave the shoulder.


31. Douglas Copeland "jPod"
I did not like this book. This book did not make me want to read anything else by Douglas Copeland. This book made me glad that I don't have discussions like the characters in "jPod." This book was loaned from a friend so I read it. He did a bad job with his recommendation.

I've waited to write this because all of my friends that have read "jPod" enjoyed every bit of it. From the 20 pages of Pi to the pages with five words in 40 point font, the conversations about fast food, Atari games and anime love, the absurd plot lines and unrealistic action, Copeland did no wrong. Everything they loved made me want to stop reading.

Another friend, not the one that loaned the book, told me that "jPod" is brilliant because it spits water at the people that panned Copeland's "Generation X." I didn't read "Generation X" and probably won't after this read. A book should stand up on its own. I doubt Copeland would agree. In order to understand the majority of "jPod," the reader needs a thorough understanding of Western pop culture for the last 30 years.

Most of all, I loathed Copeland writing himself in the book. If that kind of thing doesn't bother you, you may not hate this book.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Nothing like "Space Jam"

67. "A Certain Kind of Death"
"This American Life" did an episode about the people that sort out estates for those that pass away with no family or friends. This film is about those people.

This short documentary features no narration. Instead we get sparse dialogue images of bloated carcasses. All in all, it's kinda what you would expect to see. A very well done documentary about a subject most people would shy away from.

No reason this should exist

66. "Space Jam"
I figured, "Why not?" I wish I didn't.

Fuck you, Billy Murray. It's OK for basketball players to make awful films, but not you. This is just shit.

Awful title, good book

30. Richard Roeper "Sox and the City"
I am a Richard Roeper fan. I've read his columns since grade school and have always enjoyed them. I think I'm in the minority among people my age that enjoy Roeper.

This half memoir, half love letter is about the 2005 Chicago White Sox and the other Sox teams Roeper loved. He writes about his parents first date, at a Sox game, attending Disco Demolition as a preteen, placing money on the Sox going all the way in Vegas every year and why Cubs fans should thank the Sox for Harry Caray. If you're a Sox fan you'll love the book. If you like reading about baseball, you should like the book. If you don't care about the Sox or Chicago or baseball and aren't romantic about the game, stay away.

Boring and sad sex, drugs and rock and roll

65. "Mayor of the Sunset Strip"
Phil Spector isn't in a lot of films. He makes a brief appearance in this 2003 documentary about DJ and the original scenester Rodney Bingenheimer. By the time the producer graces the screen I was no longer thinking about the alleged murderer, I was too engrossed about how sad Bingenheimer's life seemed to me.

Rodney Bingenheimer moved to L.A. as a teenager. His mom dropped him off at a former stars home and let him figure out how to get by in the world. Within the next few years he became an extra for Davey Jones, working in A and R (at least it seemed like he did), opened a disco and hosted a show on KROQ. He still hosts his radio show and still seems to have some powerful connections in the record business. He still has a sad life.

Rodney is in love with a woman who does not feel the same way. He's surrounded by yes men and other sad souls. He seems to be aware of all of this, but wears a smile throughout.

This film makes me fearful of the entertainment industry.