Archive for August, 2008

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Midnight Man (live)

August 29, 2008

Love this live recording from this legendary group’s new, outstanding record, “Dig Lazarus, Dig!!!”. Watch and love…

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more about “Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Midnight …“, posted with vodpod


Some Lists Inspired by “Pineapple Express”

August 28, 2008

My Favorite David Gordon Green Films (Snow Angels is coming to DVD on September 16th!)

1.All the Real Girls
3.George Washington
4.Pineapple Express

My 10 Favorite Judd Apatow-Produced Projects

1.Knocked Up
2.Pineapple Express
3.The 40-Year-Old Virgin
4.Forgetting Sarah Marshall
6.Freaks & Geeks
7.Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
8.Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
9.Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
10.The TV Set

My 5 Favorite Seth Rogen Performances

1.Knocked Up
2.Pineapple Express
3.The 40-Year-Old Virgin
5.Freaks & Geeks

My 5 Favorite James Franco Performances

1.Pineapple Express
2.City by the Sea
3.The Great Raid
4.Freaks & Geeks
5.The Company

My 3 Favorite Danny McBride Performances

1.All the Real Girls
2.Pineapple Express
3.Tropic Thunder

My 5 Favorite Gary Cole Performances

1.Office Space
2.Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
3.A Simple Plan
4.The Gift
5.The Brady Bunch Movie

My 5 Favorite Rosie Perez Performances

1.White Men Can’t Jump
3.Pineapple Express
4.Human Nature
5.Riding In Cars With Boys

My 10 Favorite Kevin Corrigan Performances

1.Slums of Beverly Hills
2.Trees Lounge
3.Walking and Talking
4.Lonesome Jim
5.Chelsea Walls
8.Pineapple Express
10.The Departed

My 5 Favorite Bill Hader Performances

1.Forgetting Sarah Marshall
3.Tropic Thunder
4.Knocked Up
5.Hot Rod

Apatow and David Gordon Green break new comedic collaboration ground with “Pineapple Express”

August 27, 2008

R, 111 minutes, Columbia Pictures

From what can be traced back to basically the start of this decade, both mega-producer Judd Apatow and independent filmmaker David Gordon Green have been steadily escalating to the top of their craft, cementing themselves as stand-outs amongst their comparable colleagues, at least in my opinion. It has been a tough, under-appreciated road to get here for both men, whose works early on this decade (Apatow with the television shows Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared, and Green with the poetic debut, George Washington) didn’t find an audience until much later on, with Apatow’s in particular eventually becoming cult classics. Still, they both had the momentum of unanimous critical acclaim working on their side with everything they were creating, and it would only be a matter of time before they found an avenue into widespread appeal. For Apatow, that avenue was certainly in the choice of producing Will Ferrell/Adam McKay projects, which started out with his breakout hit, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. Looking back, that was definitely the lift-off point for Apatow’s career, the spot where his uncanny comedic knack was finally paying wealthy dues. For Green, however, it has been a much longer wait for exposure. Since his Sundance Film Festival breakthrough in 2000, he has been at the helm of three more films. In 2003 he made what I consider to be one of the top 5 films of this decade, the heartbreaking All the Real Girls. He followed that a year later with a Terrence Malick-inspired masterpiece, Undertow. In the time since then, we now know that he was finally making his attempt to segue into comedy (all while creating another hard-hitting piece of serious cinema, Snow Angels), something that he has stated in the past that he was eager to do and was ready to show the world he could pull off well. Somewhere along the line, Apatow heard that Green was waiting for the perfect chance to make that venture, and the producer is at the risk-taking point in his career that he made it happen. The most impressive, poetic new filmmaker of this generation, known for dark, human dramas, has teamed up with the new whiz-kid of comedy. Needless to say, it all culminates in a unique experience.

One of the main ingredients in concocting his many successful comedy projects is Apatow’s decision to keep a closely knit, old school family together, and in Pineapple Express there are a ton of familiar faces both at the front and in the background. He enlisted the likes of Freaks and Geeks alumni Seth Rogen and James Franco to play the film’s stoner buddies, and what makes the casting even more ingenious is the fact that it’s Franco, not Rogen, who is playing the oblivious-to-life drug dealer…and it’s so much fun just to watch these two play off of each other. Rogen co-wrote the screenplay with his longtime friend and Superbad partner, Evan Goldberg, and combined with the eye of Gordon Green, have turned Pineapple Express into an unpredictable, over-the-top of over-the-top, standing ovation throwback to 80’s buddy comedies. The movie’s idea is an extremely simple one taken to insane heights of hilarity – two stoners are on the run from a psychotic drug lord after one of them witnesses him murder a member of the opposing Asian force. Gary Cole plays the villain with an entirely serious tone, and that’s what makes the character so funny, because it’s almost like he knows he’s in a carefree comedy but refuses to give in to the zaniness, for something inside him tells him that he needs to be straight-laced and ruthless. Along for the ride is a cast that, as I mentioned before, is peppered with some of the usual faces we’re so accustomed to expect in an Apatow production. In an opening sequence that is so unexpected that I won’t even mention anything about, Bill Hader appears and makes himself very memorable, along with the very odd addition of James Remar mixed in.

There are very funny supporting performances that assist the Express in chugging along as well as it does throughout its runtime, and most notably from Danny McBride as a two-timing middleman dealer named Red, and also Craig Robinson as one of the idiotic henchman sent to track the two down. McBride has been on the same rocky road to stardom as Green, the two being schoolmates at college many years ago and since collaborating on lots of things. The stand-out among the old friends’ collaborations before this point was in All the Real Girls, where Green had the role of Bust-Ass entirely written with McBride in mind. He knew his friend was a natural with comedic timing, and in Pineapple Express he gets a chance to hold his own alongside Rogen and Franco, and he does. It’s good to see not only Green becoming successful with this project, but also McBride, who is catapulting between this and another nice little supporting role in Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder. Craig Robinson and Kevin Corrigan are also familiar Apatow faces, with Robinson shining the most in this film, nearly every line he has elevating to the top of my favorite moments of the entire experience. I look for Robinson to start to appear in more significant roles in the future, especially after this and his small but gut-busting performance as the bouncer in Knocked Up. There are many more faces that will be noticed throughout, including veteran actors Rosie Perez, Ed Begley, Jr, and Nora Dunn, all having a really good time. This is what I imagined it being, and more – a new, innovative comedy that found a marriage between perfect comic timing and a brilliant captain behind the camera. It is an experience that has to be seen at least twice to fully savor and appreciate. It is the mighty Pineapple Express.

* * * *

Justin Vernon is one of the best working today…

August 26, 2008

Bon Iver covering one of the new Okkervil River songs, “Blue Tulip”. It is too beautiful to not share with you all on here.

Burstein’s “American Teen” is a sensational, genuine documentary

August 22, 2008

PG-13, 101 minutes, Paramount Vantage

The best thing that can be said about Nanette Burstein’s new documentary, American Teen, is that it is stays completely focused on making sure all types of the high school student is given examination. That is certainly the biggest compliment on a list that is full of good compliments that can be paid to this entertaining, accessible, and easy to relate with film. Burstein decided to make Warsaw, Indiana the setting for the entire senior year of four students on different ends of the social galaxy, and although I’m sure it added some extra incentive for my liking of the film because I live rather closely to this area, I think that anyone who has been to high school (especially over the last twenty years) will find many things to relate to here.

From the opening moments, the filmmakers do a terrific job of quickly introducing all of the main subjects and grabbing our interest. We see sort of our main “character”, Hannah, an outspoken artist who constantly dreams of leaving Indiana immediately after high school. There is also Colin, the star basketball player who is king of popularity not only in the school but in the community, and all because of the fact that he is responsible for making the team successful. Jake is the introvert who plays video games more often than even the normal teenager, all while struggling to find out why he is socially murdered. Then we are introduced to Megan, the girl who has it all and gets whatever she wants, “The Princess”. Burstein does a fantastic job letting us first get acquainted with these people by not immediately diving into their lives, but instead letting us become familiar with the surroundings and the lifestyles and the expectations. It’s all drawn from what is obviously thousands of hours of video footage that was literally filmed throughout a ten month span that would exist inside an entire high school year, and it’s edited together in fitting, entertaining fashion. As the film gets deeper inside the minds and feelings and hidden emotions that all of these people share, even if they are entirely different at the surface, it became something more than just a simple documentary about high school seniors, at least for me it did. I was taken back to the decisions that I made and didn’t make at that defining point in my life, hoping the best for these people and hanging on every little thing that happened like it pertained to me…and in a way it sort of does. I consider this to be a universal story that can be shared with all different types of people, and for generations to come, and along with some new interesting documentaries that have been released in the last couple of years, it is making the genre more easy to enjoy and seek out, even for the easily bored audience member.

I had these feelings that I hadn’t thought about since I was in high school when I was watching this film, the kind where I was always wondering how amazing it would be to capture everything that happened in those defining, priceless times in a life on film…and here they have made that movie. I’m sure I share the feeling of imagining a film that would capture things beyond the plastic surface that high school is mostly credited with, one that actually just understood the struggles of being a person with too much on their mind, not being able to put it all together in favor of confusion. This film is sort of like a blessing to all of the people who wanted this but never got it from their time in high school, for the people who only have bits and pieces in memory about it, and even for those who mostly hated everything about it – this film can remind you that were indeed some things that you will want back. I was affected by this film as I was watching, and even more as its credits rolled and the students’ lives were updated some two years later. I cared for these people and appreciated the film so much that I sort of realized just how much I loved certain aspects of that time in my life as well. This is going to be that will gather a big audience as time goes by.

* * * 1/2