Archive for August, 2009

NO DEACHUNTER: new Neckbrace music video

August 10, 2009

Three very loud and very different artists took the stage at Rhino’s in Bloomington this past Wednesday for a round-robin monster set, and it was a glorious experience. No Age provided the rough energy….Deerhunter gave us their trademark rocking weirdness….and Dan Deacon – well – the Baltimore-based electronic artist is every bit the maniacal genius that his albums suggest.

Here is the music video I edited last night.

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A John Hughes (R.I.P. 1950-2009) List

August 8, 2009

My 20 Favorite John Hughes-Involved Films
1.The Breakfast Club (1985, producer/writer/director)
2.Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987, producer/writer/director)
3.Pretty In Pink (1986, writer/executive producer)
4.Uncle Buck (1989, producer/writer/director)
5.Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986, producer/writer/director)
6.Curly Sue (1991, producer/writer/director)
7.Home Alone 2: Lost In New York (1992, writer/producer)
8.Home Alone (1990, writer/producer)
9.Sixteen Candles (1984, writer/director)
10.Some Kind Of Wonderful (1987, writer/producer)
11.She’s Having A Baby (1988, producer/writer/director)
12.Weird Science (1985, writer/director)
13.Only The Lonely (1991, producer)
14.Vacation (1983, writer)
15.Mr. Mom (1983, writer)
16.Dennis The Menace (1993, writer/producer)
17.Home Alone 3 (1997, writer/producer)
18.Career Opportunities (1991, writer/producer)
19.The Great Outdoors (1988, writer/executive producer)
20.Dutch (1991, writer/producer)

Awesome Music Video Postings of 2009: #21

August 4, 2009

Tony Marshall recently performed at an open mic at the Old Town Ale House. He uploaded this video yesterday, which features two stellar performances of “Nothing Is The Center Of Everything” and “Slight Reprise”, both from the album Centralia.

Things get complicated for “Funny People”, too

August 3, 2009

Funny570

Rated R : 2 hours 26 minutes : Universal/Columbia Pictures

There’s really nothing left for Judd Apatow to prove to us as far as the world of comedy is concerned. He owns it. Most all of us know by now that he has produced some of the elite films of the genre over the last five years, including Anchorman, Talladega Nights, Superbad, Walk Hard, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and Pineapple Express. As a producer he has brought together a group of actors and crew who are now labeled “The Apatow Family”. They are the assembled, rotating team of familiar faces that we have come to count on in our times of need for consistent laughter. It took him a while to break into the mainstream, but Apatow has cemented himself to become the busiest comedy producer in the world, delivering several projects a year. What I find most intriguing about the mastermind, though, is the writer/director side of him. In 2005 he had to prove to Universal that he could direct just as well as he writes and produces, so he started out by teaming with the popular Steve Carrell for the laugh fest, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, which became such an immediate hit that he quickly found the freedom to take on whatever kind of film he wanted to next. It would be with his second feature at the helm, Knocked Up, that we would come to find the major difference between Apatow-produced films and Apatow-produced/written/directed films: the attention to serious undertones and endearing, realistic situations life puts us in….all the while mixing in a boatload of his trademark comedy, of course. He had showed major improvement with his direction in just his second full-length, and ever since the June 2007 released of Knocked Up, I considered that the finest achievement of his career. That was until he decided to continue the trend of one-upping himself with the next directing effort, this time with the seriously affecting Funny People.

It’s been an extremely long wait for Apatow to finally work with old college roommate Adam Sandler on such a major project like this. They did a bit of collaborating in the past, like in the excellent but sadly cut-short television series, Undeclared, where Sandler played himself in one of the shows most memorable episodes. Apatow also co-wrote the script for the uneven You Don’t Mess With The Zohan, but the old friends hadn’t done anything with this much weight to it yet. I’m glad they saved Funny People for the first time they were to do something substantial together, because it gives Sandler his most challenging role since Paul Thomas Anderson wrote and directed him in 2002’s Punch-Drunk Love. Like the actor did in Anderson’s film, Sandler brings out a side of him we rarely get to see, playing George Simmons, one of the world’s most popular comedic actors who in his middle-aged days finds out that he has been diagnosed with a form of leukemia and has limited time left on earth. George lives in a California mansion that is occupied only by himself and the hired help, for he has driven all of the family and friends out of his life over the years. When he learns of his illness, Simmons notifies no one, he just heads back to the stand-up clubs that he started out in when he was young, surprising the audience-hungry promoters with his presence and the request to perform. It is at The Improv that he will first come into contact with Ira Wright, a dime-a-dozen aspiring comic who writes with promise but has a bumbling stage presence. Wright saves his set from failing by taking a stab as Simmons’ complete failure to generate laughs just a few minutes before, and with the audience opening up he goes on to have what must be the comfortable set he’s ever done. Simmons take a liking to Wright’s sense of humor and hires him to write jokes for him as he plots a stand-up tour, which he assumes will be his last. He is a complicated individual, one who we come to find has buried emotions deep inside for many years, and the relationship that unfolds between he and Ira, no matter how much he would consider it to be of the “hired help” kind, will prove to be just the kind of real friendship that he has always needed and, really, desired.

Of course there is far more to be told in this truly epic comedy, where Apatow once again puts on display the necessity of a strong supporting cast of characters who all get their dose of depth in the sharply written screenplay. The ensemble of actors is as stacked as any Apatow production to date, including Leslie Mann, Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman, Eric Bana, Aubrey Plaza,and a long list of other familiar faces showing up for minor roles. The most impressive thing (among countless impressive things) about Funny People, is the daring, unconventional approach that Apatow took with the structure of the screenplay. He knew that he could take any sort of risks he wanted to this time around, because having Adam Sandler on board is going to guarantee that the box-office numbers will be high at the very least. Knowing this, he takes his characters on an emotional journey that is unpredictable and always veering off the standard “three act” path of a normal screen story. By doing this, Apatow challenges his three main actors, and especially Sandler, to tag along with him as he attempts to mature in his storytelling. He also gets the two most human performances of both Rogen and Mann’s careers to date. Funny People was the most anticipated film in over a year for me personally. It had a lot to live up to, what with me talking about wanting to see it and all of its potential greatness for nearly an entire year after hearing of the talented involved and the premise. What Apatow has accomplished with this film is incredible and really too brilliant to put into words. I saw it twice on its opening day last Friday, and it only got better with the second viewing. Like all of the great comedies he is involved in, I suspect this will continue to endear with each passing watch, but because it was made with such a sense of personal involvement and an obvious long history of understanding the people working alongside him, it will become not only a favorite, but an essential piece of work out of everything I will see. This is where Apatow goes from making one of the funniest films of the year, to one of the best. It’s a masterpiece.

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Cast
Adam Sandler
Seth Rogen
Leslie Mann
Eric Bana
Jonah Hill
Jason Schwartzman
Aubrey Plaza
Maude Apatow
Iris Apatow

Written & Directed by
Judd Apatow