Archive for July 2011
(Today, FP film critic Franklin Laviola begins his mid-year recap with the worst films of 2011 to date. Check back on Monday for Mr. Laviola’s best films of 2011 thus far. You can read the rest of his work for Frontier Psychiatrist here.)
Severely Overrated …
Woody Allen’s latest is an overly familiar assembly of buzz words, name-dropping, stereotypes, and canned worldview. When it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and then opened stateside immediately afterwards, the film was inexplicably lavished with praise. It’s now poised to become both his biggest domestic and worldwide box-office hit ever. Owen Wilson stars as a hack screenwriter, vacationing in Paris with his fiance, played by Rachel McAdams. An “unhealthy” obsession with the Lost Generation of Hemingway and Fitzgerald is his defining personality trait. One night, while taking a lonely stroll, he is magically transported back to the Paris of the 1920s. It’s a premise that sounds potentially rich and romantic, but, unfortunately, the storyline turns out to be completely under-nourished, just like in the majority of Allen’s last fifteen features. The cast’s French beauties are all wasted — the always luminescent Marion Cotillard gets about three scenes, while sexy ingenue Lea Seydoux and French First Lady Carla Bruni get two very brief clips apiece. But I’m not sure which is more irritating — Allen’s compulsive need to have his star Wilson imitate his own trademark mannerisms and speech pattern, or his casting of the appealing McAdams, as the nagging, castrating fiance? A lazy and flaccid one-joke comedy.
Worst of the Art House …
I received my first piece of reader mail this week, from a memoirist:
Dear Chic Fatigue,
I just saw on my weekly e-sale roundup a “poet blouse.” (I admit, at first I felt jealous cause there was no “prose blouse.”) I looked it up and saw it was similar to the “peasant blouse,” with which I am very familiar. That got me thinking about how many pieces of clothing have names related to class and occupation. Were artists and peasants once lumped together in ways they are not now? Or are we artists still thought of as peasants? Then I realized that the poet blouse is also sartorially similar to clothes worn by pirates and wenches, and that’s when I had to write because I’m confused but absolutely fascinated!
This Prose Needs Clothes
There’s nothing like a burger, and New York has its fair share to offer. Some are overrated, some are truly excellent, and most of the latter require patience unheard of by the sane and reasonable (ahem, Shake Shack on a sunny day). And while I am consistently impressed by the creativity of some burger joints, generally speaking, there’s nothing better than a home-cooked burger. Maybe it has something to do with my intolerance of long lines, but I’m often happiest with the burger borne from my own kitchen. And, hey, it doesn’t have to come pink in the center to qualify as a true burger. I personally get the same amount of pleasure from a delicious veggie burger done up with the works as I do from a nice hunk of meat, so I have an offering for the vegetarians too. No more Boca Burger for you!
Jason Isbell has been an ex-Drive-by Trucker nearly as long as he was a Drive-by Trucker. Still, to most music fans he’s known almost exclusively for his work with that band. That’s a shame, because since his departure Isbell has put out three wonderful records both on his own and with his current backing band, the 400 Unit.
The first anyone heard of Isbell’s voice was likely Outfit, one of Isbell’s two contributions to the DBT’s 2003 album Decoration Day. In the song Isbell sings about advice given to from a father to a son. It’d be southern schmaltz if not for the details of the telling. In the opening verse, a father asks, “You want to grow up and paint houses like me? /…You want to feel old after 42 years? Keep dropping the hammer and grinding the gears.” The song itself follows the familiar Springsteen model: blues in the verse, where father recounts the compromises that he’s made as bit by bit the world has ground him down, and gospel in the chorus, where father offers son what little advice he can (“Don’t sing with a fake British accent / Don’t act like your family’s a joke”). In the final verse, father warns son “don’t let me catch you in Kendale with a bucket of wealthy-man’s paint.”
This weekend, Wisconsin’s native son kicked off his coming-out sold-out summer tour at Milwaukee’s Riverside Theater. Both a homecoming and a send-off, Saturday’s Bon Iver show was a time to enjoy what our fair state has produced and provide support for a brother-in-arms as he travels into the world.
Bon Iver, with all its triumphant highs and sappy lows, should only be experienced live. The eight-piece backing band–including two woodwind players, two drummers, and probably eight different keyboards–fleshed out tracks, providing space for the sounds to move and meet. Opening with the humongous “Perth,” Vernon and his Midwestern transplants laid the groundwork for an emotional and epic event. The first half of the show was largely dominated by tunes from Bon Iver, with Vernon going through the album’s first four tracks. Live, the album grows and shifts in the natural air, rather than the at-times overproduction of the recordings. Read the rest of this entry »
Given the fact that one of our editors has spent the month of July in sub-optimal physical condition, some of our regular columns have been turning up a bit late this month. Among these is our top 5 videos column for June, which finally sees the light of day at the end of July. Its arrival in the midst of a suffocating heat wave seems appropriate, however, as the month’s best videos include many distractions from summer’s dog days, including snowy landscapes, barren trees, and school. Be advised at always that the work environment in non-ideal for enjoying this particular column.
5) (tie) Explosions in the Sky – “Last Known Surroundings”
This is the first music video from Texas cult band Explosions in the Sky, and it’s quite good, but I have to admit that I’ve included it because of its striking similarity to the 1980s Nintendo game 3-D Worldrunner, a game that absolutely no one played except me. I hated those Serpentbeasts. Read the rest of this entry »
Kanye West & Jay-Z ft. Otis Redding – “Otis”
Pusha T ft. Tyler, the Creator – “Trouble On My Mind”