Monday, November 30, 2009

Best Films of the Decade 65-61

65. In the Bedroom

A small town doctor takes justice into his own hands when the legal system lets him down. Todd Field's efficient direction showcases the first-rate acting. Tom Wilkinson and Sissy Spacek were robbed on Oscar night and Marisa Tomei proved that yes, she did deserve an Oscar after all. Field has made 2 films (see #74), both excellent. He must have been paying attention on the Eyes Wide Shut set.

64. Pan's Labyrinth
Try as I might, I just can't love this film like others do. But it's still a unique, fascinating, surprising, memorable ride.

63. Babel

Not all the stories were tied together nicely, but that was sort of the point. Brad Pitt could have starred in perfectly passable genre films like the Oceans films and Mr. and Mrs. Smith ad infinitum, but chose to do some brilliant character work at the height of his popularity. And was in an even better film the following year. Adriana Barraza deserved the Oscar.

62. United 93
The shaky camerawork thing that took over the decade's action films is best done here since it feels like an actual documentary. Brit Paul Greengrass somehow captured exactly how 9/11/01 felt and delivered a riveting, tense nail-biter of a film - even when everyone knows the ending since they watched on TV as it actually happened.

61. Inland Empire

Falls a little bit farther down the list every year since it now seems that David Lynch had no idea what he was up to before and while he was shooting it - probably assuming his undeniable genius will eventually figure it out. Not quite this time. Still, it remains a bewildering triumph of sound design and imagery, even if the sum total is much less than the parts.

66. Monsters, Inc.
67. The Pianist
68. Batman Begins
69. 3:10 to Yuma
70. King Kong
71. In Bruges
72. No Direction Home
73. Intolerable Cruelty
74. Little Children
75. Gangs of New York

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The Road - B+

In theaters. Rated R, 119 minutes. Trailer.

To call The Road bleak doesn't quite get it - more like suffocatingly grim. This is not a movie for people that can sit through Bride Wars or Old Dogs non-ironically. Based on Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer prize winning book of the same name (reviewed by Priest here), the film is faithful to its unflinching apocalyptic vision. Director John Hillcoat does his best to make a man and his son's ashen struggle for survival watchable. Click below for more on THE ROAD:

Viggo Mortensen is perfectly cast as the noble and devoted father struggling to preserve his son's life for no apparent reason. The film shows a few days of their struggle to reach the coast and its (hopefully) warmer weather. Hillcoat efficiently uses flashbacks of Charlize Theron (Mortensen's wife) and life with her to provide some minimal tonal breaks. Robert Duvall has a few brief scenes and again provides gravitas and lots of interesting interactions. The gray and dying landscape is beautifully shot and provides lots of interesting pictures. The cannibalism and death are tastefully handled, but still haunting in their portrayal.

The film's main question is how to survive in a death-ridden world while still maintaining your soul. Viggo is ruthless in his protection of his son, but his son provides his conscience and makes sure they continue to 'carry the fire'. It is a question dealt with in The Dark Knight and also in Slumdog Millionaire. I am fascinated by the question and this film/book does the best job of really getting into the philosophical analysis of it. Fascinating stuff.

The film is not enjoyable, but it is very good.

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DVD and Blu-ray Releases 12/1/09

A Christmas Tale (Criterion) - #
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian - #
Paper Heart - #
Terminator Salvation - #

Click below for this week's Blu-ray releases

Gimme Shelter (Criterion) - *
The Green Mile
The Legend of Zorro
Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels
The Mask of Zorro
Secondhand Lions

# - Also on Blu-ray
* - Doctor approved

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Song of the Day - Bridge Over Troubled Water, Simon & Garfunkel

Folk music doesn't get better. Amazing every time.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Best Films of the Decade 70-66

70. King Kong

It's overblown and overlong, but the 1933 era is impeccably recreated and the action is thrilling (and relentless) once it gets going. Naomi Watts gets 4 gold stars for her superb performance. We actually believe what is happening because she does. Adrien Brody and Jack Black are slightly miscast. But this is a first-rate technical exercise from Peter Jackson. The aerial shots at the end are mind-blowing.

69. 3:10 to Yuma
Foreigners Russell Crowe and Christian Bale are right at home in America's Old West playing well off each other but it's scene-stealer Ben Foster whom you'll probably remember the most. Marco Beltrami serves up one of the best scores of the decade.

68. Batman Begins

After this "reboot" of a dead franchise, many a series followed suit not only by getting a "do-over", but by going realistic - and darker. By focusing on old-fashioned stuff like character, dialogue, and plot, Christopher Nolan laid the foundation for a huge franchise. Nolan's direction of the action sequences was often confusing, but this would improve with the sequel. Favorite moment: Bruce overcoming his fear of bats as they fly into his face.

67. The Pianist
Roman Polanski created an authentic account of one man's survival of the Holocaust. The piano is terrific symbolism for the human spirit, the soul, etc. Adrien Brody pulls off the role of a lifetime. And Polanski stages war scenes as we've never seen them, giving the camera a God's eye view of the horror.

66. Monsters, Inc.

Pixar entered the decade with its funniest film. Billy Crystal's last great role is one-eyed monster Mike Wazowski and John Goodman is equally great as the large and in charge Sully. It's surprisingly touching at the end.

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Song of the Day - Just Breathe, Pearl Jam

A new classic off of their new album, Backspacer. I watched part of this concert with my daughter this week and when they started this song she looked at me and said "Dad, that guy has a REALLY good voice." Ahhh.

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Weekend Box Office: 11/27-11/29/09

The Blind Side and A Christmas Carol increased their take over last weekend and the new titles crapped out. The public chose not to step in Old Dogs.


1. New Moon: 42.5 mil / -70% / 231 mil
2. The Blind Side: 40.1 mil/+18%/100 mil
3. 2012: 18 mil / -32% / 139 mil
4. Old Dogs: 16.8 mil / (-) / 24 mil
5. Christmas Carol: 16 mil/+30 %/105 mil
6. Ninja Assassin: 13 mil / (-) / 21 mil
7. Planet 51: 10.2 mil / -17% / 28.5 mil
8. Fantastic Mr. Fox: 7 mil / (+) / 10.1 mil
9. Precious: 7 mil / -35% / 32.5 mil
10. Men Who Stare at Goats: 1.5 mil / -46% / 31 mil
11. The Road: 1.5 mil / (-) / 2 mil

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Best Films of the Decade

Obviously not a final list with lots of 2009 titles still unseen. 2007 was by far the best year with 12 on the list. 2008 and 2004 each have 6. 2009 only has 4, but hopefully a couple more will reach greatness. And lots of names keep popping up - Martin Scorsese, Michael Mann, Charlie Kaufman, Pixar. We'll go 5 at a time.

75. Gangs of New York

Scorsese probably spent too much time developing this since it's all over the place and he tries to cover too much territory (Civil War, immigration, riots). But shot after shot is fascinating and there's an incredible and intense authenticity to the whole affair. And if we're talking best male performances of the decade, Daniel Day-Lewis has 2 of the top 5 and Leonardo DiCaprio has one - just not for this Scorsese film.

74. Little Children
A little formal and safe technically, but extremely well-acted and the Barry Lyndon-esque narration is right up my alley. Patrick Wilson has the tough job of choosing between Jennifer Connelly and Kate Winslet. Jackie Earl Haley is the comeback of the decade runner-up. If you don't know the winner, you slept through last year's awards season.

73. Intolerable Cruelty
Cedric the Entertainer's Gus Petch is a classic character and if you're into art direction and costumes, you could do a lot worse than the Coens' lone attempt at a romantic comedy. The first couple of scenes drag, but the directing duo is back on track at the 10 minute mark. This slot could have gone to the equally funny Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou?, but that film's structure falters more toward the end. And Clooney is always better playing smarter.

72. No Direction Home
As a Bob Dylan fan(atic), I certainly find this 4 hour documentary assembled by Martin Scorsese more fascinating than most, but it seemingly encompasses the important events of not just Dylan's young life, but also the nation in the turbulent 60s. Great music, stranger than fiction events, and terrific stock footage are masterfully brought together.

71. In Bruges

Who knew Colin Farrell was a great actor? Obviously casting directors since he got a lot of work this decade, but not me until this small gem written and directed by esteemed playwright Martin McDonagh. Brendan Gleeson has always impressed and acts in perfect tandem with Farrell. Ralph Fiennes is effectively menacing as a mob boss. One of the funniest films of the past few years due to McDonagh's unpredictable, un-PC script.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Bloody Sunday - A

On DVD (2002). Rated R, 111 minutes. Trailer.

Before Bourne Supremacy and United 93, Paul Greengrass wrote and directed Bloody Sunday, a docudrama exploring the 1972 march and associated military response in Derry, Northern Ireland. The film centers on Ivan Cooper, the Member of Parliament for this portion of Ireland and one of the sponsors of the march, which was intended to be a peaceful march on behalf of civil rights and protesting the unjust internment of thousands of Irish by the British government. This film grabs you from the first frame and doesn't let go until the last strains of Bono's voice at the end of the credits. Click below for more on Bloody Sunday:

Cooper is an affable politician genuinely interested in civil rights and inspired by Martin Luther King. He ambles through Derry trying to get everything organized the night before the march, during the march and in the aftermath. He is fighting to keep the march peaceful - difficult with both the militant IRA and the trigger-happy British army chomping at the bit for a conflict. Greengrass joins this story with 3 or 4 other stories of those on both sides of the day's march.

Each of the stories offers up a level of nuance and thoughtfulness rarely found in film. You see each perspective and watch as the characters work through their decisions. The film's editing, Greengrass camerawork and setting is grippingly realistic as the tension builds.

James Nesbitt is a revelation as Cooper, displaying a staggering array of emotions and locking in one of the most powerfully emotional exits in recent memory. The film is clearly biased in favor of the marchers, but Greengrass keeps it honest throughout.

A must see.

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Song of the Day - The End, The Doors

Love the dissonance between the sounds and the words. Genius use in Apocalypse Now for one of the best opening sequences ever.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Holiday Movie Releases - 11/27/09

Old Dogs

Robin Williams and John Travolta are best friends who are forced to take care of 7 year old twins. Because judges make single dirty old men take care of small young kids all the time. Don't fill out those worst of decade lists quite yet, folks. From the director of Wild Hogs (what's next - Fast Jogs? Sawed Logs?).

The Road

The pedigree looks good: Based on Cormac McCarthy's novel, directed by an interesting director (John Hillcoat - The Proposition) and starring Viggo Mortensen and Charlize Theron (whose longtime man - Stuart Townsend was originally cast as Aragorn). The Road looks oppressively grim and depressing with its post-apocalyptic setting filled with cannibals. Still, the principles have enough in the bank to warrant a viewing. In limited release.

Me and Orson Welles

Richard Linklater's first film in 3 years stars Zac Efron as an Orson Welles employee who witnesses his legendary stage productions. Christian McKay co-stars as Welles, and it's said he's very good. Claire Danes plays Efron's love interest. This is a good choice for Efron - seeking out talented directors. In limited release.

The Princess and the Frog

In New Orleans, the classic frog-kissing story gets modernized - with hand-drawn animation. The makers of Aladdin and The Little Mermaid go retro and the PC police win another one. In limited release.

Ninja Assassin

V for Vendetta's James McTeigue directs yet another chop-socky kung fu crappily edited flick. A man is trained to be an assassin and betrays his trainers. I don't know I can do this type of film anymore - I couldn't sit through John Woo's latest, Red Cliff, and I couldn't get into a recent re-viewing of Hero.

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Song of The Day - I Just Called to Say I Love You, Stevie Wonder

Listen to this one again. My favorite SW song always has me singing along.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

"Those aren't pillows!"

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Song of the Day - End of the Line

By The Traveling Wilburys

Uplifting and upbeat, sometimes it's nice to relax, think positive, and be thankful - even for the little things.

Well it's all right
Riding around in the breeze
Well it's all right
If you live the life you please
Well it's all right
Doing the best you can
Well it's all right
As long as you lend a hand

You can sit around and wait for the phone to ring
(at the end of the line)
Waiting for someone to tell you everything
(at the end of the line)
Sit around and wonder what tomorrow'll bring
(at the end of the line)
Maybe a diamond ring

Well it's all right
Even if they say you're wrong
Well it's all right
Sometimes you gotta be strong
Well it's all right
As long as you got someone to lay with
Well it's all right
Every day is judgment day

Maybe somewhere down the road a ways
(at the end of the line)
You'll think of me and wonder where i am these days
(at the end of the line)
Maybe somewhere down the road when somebody plays
(at the end of the line)
Purple Haze

Well it's all right
Even when push comes to shove
Well it's all right
If you got someone to love
Well it's all right
Everything will work out fine
Well it's all right
We're going to the end of the line

Don't have to be ashamed of the car I drive
(at the end of the line)
I'm just glad to be here happy to be alive
(at the end of the line)
And it don't matter if you're by my side
(at the end of the line)
I'm satisfied

Well it's all right
Even if you're old and gray
Well it's all right
You still got something to say
Well it's all right
Remember live and let live
Well it's all right
The best you can do is forgive
Well it's all right
Riding around on the breeze
Well it's all right
If you live the life you please
Well it's all right
Even if the sun don't shine
Well it's all right
We're going to the end of the line

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Curb Your Enthusiasm - Seinfeld

The season finale had the Seinfeld icons finally putting on the reunion. Jerry was the best part with comments about the "wood detective", "C for coffee", "No-con", and the way he quickly said "You're welcome, Mocha Joe". His stand-up bit opening the faux-reunion was well-delivered. The Larry-Jerry stare-down was hilarious as was Larry impersonating George Costanza.Having said that (!), the episode was disappointing. Not using coasters for drinks, jealousy, and favors is not really great comedic material. And this was the 4th episode this season (out of 10) that had a bit about tipping. The elongated running time (45 minutes instead of 30) made the uncomfortableness of the situations a little bit unbearable. And the way the multiple storylines came together is what every Curb episode does, but didn't work as well here. Probably because nobody was yelling at Larry. They didn't really screw up the first Seinfeld finale, but it's funny that they keep commenting on it. This finale was very funny, but a letdown after all the terrific episodes that preceded it. B

"How could you be so fiscally irresponsible?"

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Song of the Day - An Olive Grove Facing the Sea, Snow Patrol

Today's song was a suggestion from Golfy. Bonus: Bill Hader as Eddie Vedder. Bonus: Adam Lambert = Lawyer's current least favorite American.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Pirate Radio - B-

In theaters. Rated R, 115 minutes. Trailer.

In the mid-60's the British government banned rock and roll on the radio, so "Rock Radio" on the high seas was born via a boat with a broadcast tower. The disc jockeys live on the boat as the arts minister of the British government tries to find ways to stop them from operating. This premise is so boring I can't stand it. The whole 'rock n roll overcomes' angle combined with a rehash of 60's rock is beyond a cliche and trailers that feature "Give me some lovin" generally portend a horribly cliched and boring movie. Click below for more on PIRATE:

The film is written and directed by Richard Curtis (Notting Hill, 4 Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually), whom I like a lot. But the overdone premise and shockingly boring and uninteresting central character sucked the life out of an otherwise enjoyable film. The lead character, Carl, is the 18 year old godson of the owner (Bill Nighy - combining his Love Actually and State of Play roles) of the radio station. He is perposterously boring and his 'coming of age' story plagues the film, dragging it down to the depths. The other characters are vary in interest, Philip Seymour Hoffman's "Count" as the best (of course), with Rhys Darby, Rhys Ifans (2 Rhys's!), Nick Frost, and Bill Nighy also turning in solid performances.

The film starts strongly, and boasts a ridiculously great soundtrack (including the underappreciated 'father and son' from Cat Stevens), but you'll spend the whole time trying to figure out if there is a story being told or this is a pointless series of sketches on a boat (the latter). I should acknowledge that there are several funny moments, but the basic plot and Kenneth Branagh British stuffiness is all bad (except the Christmas dinner scene). It gets a B- for the amount of laughing I did, but it rose up from a C+ last night.

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DVD and Blu-ray Releases 11/24/09

Angels and Demons - #
Four Christmases - #
Funny People - #, *
Gomorrah - #
Imagine That
The Maiden Heist
Santa Buddies - #
Shorts - #

Click below for this week's Blu-ray releases.

Air America
Angel Heart - *
Frailty - *
Ghost in the Shell
Ichi the Killer
The Monster Squad
My Bloody Valentine
My Brilliant Career
New Police Story
The Way of the Gun - *

# - also on Blu-ray
* - Doctor approved

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Song of the Day - Golden Age, Beck

One of my favorite Beck songs, this one should be the first song in any family's slideshow of their life. "Put your hands on the wheel, let the golden age begin..."

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Saturday Night Live - 11/21/09

Calling last night's episode the best of the season is faint praise, but host Joseph Gordon-Levitt provided plenty of energy and the writing in the opening segment was the best in a long while. More amazingly (an unavailable online) is JGL's opening monologue where he recreated Donald O'Connor's "Make 'Em Laugh" performance from Singin' In the Rain. And nailed 2 backflips on live TV. Well done, sir. Other well-written episodes included "The Mellow Show" and "What Up With That". The Thanksgiving skit was OK but the Secret Word gameshow sketch is further proof that Kristen Wiig's 15 minutes might be running out. The show ended with a pretty good Say Anything parody. B+To round it out, there was a forgettable Woman to Woman talk show skit and a humorous, but underwhelming Andy Samberg song. Al Gore showed up twice and used his persona to pretty good effect.

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Weekend Box Office: 11/20-11/22/09


1. Twilight Saga: New Moon: 140.7 mil / (-)
2. The Blind Side: 34.5 mil / (-)
3. 2012: 26.5 mil / -59% / 108 mil
4. Planet 51: 12.6 mil / (-)
5. Christmas Carol: 12.2 mil / -45% / 79.8 mil
6. Precious: 11 mil / +87% / 21.4 mil
7. Men Who Stare at Goats: 2.8 mil / -53% / 27.6 mil
8. Couples Retreat: 2 mil / -53% / 105 mil
9. Fourth Kind: 1.7 mil / -62% / 23.3 mil
10. Law Abiding Citizen: 1.62 mil / -58% / 70 mil
11. This is It: 1.58 mil / -69% / 70.2 mil
12. Pirate Radio: 1.45 mil / -50% / 5.2 mil
13. Paranormal Activity: 1.4 mil / -65% / 106 mil
14. An Education: 0.9 mil / +38% / 4.4 mil

New Moon had the 3rd biggest opening weekend ever (behind The Dark Knight and Spiderman 3). Too bad Obama didn't seize control of the Twilight books instead of GM, all the banks, and the healthcare system. Maybe we could start paying off the national debt. Precious is becoming the indie hit of the season as it continues to add screens.

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Song of the Day - Bad Romance, Lady GaGa

You knew this was coming. New song from her new album is great (complete with a whole verse dedicated to Hitchcock films) and a superweird video. Enjoy, Doc.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pearl Jam at Austin City Limits - TONIGHT

Looks like its airing at 10:00pm on PBS - check local listings.

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Song of the Day - Nothing from Nothing

By Billy Preston

After the last song of the day, I thought I'd lighten things up. It's OK to love something that makes you feel like a million bucks - but doesn't mean that much.

Nothin' from nothin' leaves nothin'
You gotta have somethin'
If you wanna be with me
Nothin' from nothin' leaves nothin'
You gotta have somethin'
If you wanna be with me

I'm not tryin' to be your hero
'Cause that zero is too cold for me
I'm not tryin' to be your highness
'Cause that minus is too low to see

Nothin' from nothin' leaves nothin'
And I'm not stuffin'
Believe you me
Don't you remember I told ya
I'm a soldier in the war on poverty, yeah
Yes, I am

Nothin' from nothin' leaves nothin'
You gotta have somethin'
If you wanna be with me
Nothin' from nothin' leaves nothin'
You gotta have somethin'
If you wanna be with me

You gotta have somethin'
If you wanna be with me
You gotta bring me somethin' girl
If you wanna be with me

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Phillips-Scott Update - Week 5

As their #6 picks of the decade's best films, At the Movies co-hosts Michael Phillips and AO Scott have chosen Zodiac & The Best of Youth (not really a film, but a 6-hour Italian miniseries). I'll side with Phillips for the 5th week in a row. Zodiac looks better all the time and I remember creating the time to see The Best of Youth, but it's not necessarily required viewing, depending on how pretentious you are.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Fall Movie Releases - 11/20/09

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Director Werner Herzog takes a break from challenging documentaries for this remake of sorts of Abel Ferrara's unwatchable 1992 film starring Harvey Keitel (though if we're talking great performances in bad films, Keitel's is near the top). This time around, Nicolas Cage plays the drug-addicted, prostitute loving cop going rogue in the city of New Orleans post Hurricane Katrina. Eva Mendes and Val Kilmer co-star. It's always great to see Iceman - chubby or not. In limited release.

The Blind Side

A homeless huge black kid is taken in by a Southern white family and succeeds in football, eventually reaching the NFL. Based on a true story. Sandra Bullock is said to be pretty good as the matriarch. Looks like it could be uplifting if you have a heart and haven't seen any sports movies in the past 10 years.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon

OMFG! CFW 4 this 2nite. 1st one soooooooooooo awesome! CUL8R! LOL!!!!

Planet 51

Will parents take their kids to anything for some solace? Apparently so. Dwayne "Tooth Fairy" Johnson, Jessica Biel, Justin Long, Stifler, Gary Oldman, and John Cleese provide voices. Another animated alien movie (at least the third one in the past 6 months).

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Song of the Day - He Stopped Loving Her Today, George Jones

The possum sings the saddest country song of all time (the album version is the best). Lyrics after the jump (careful, Priest).

He said I'll love you 'til I die
She told him you'll forget in time
As the years went slowly by
She still preyed upon his mind

He kept her picture on his wall
Went half crazy now and then
He still loved her through it all
Hoping she'd come back again

Kept some letters by his bed
Dated 1962
He had underlined in red
Every single I love you

I went to see him just today
Oh but I didn't see no tears
All dressed up to go away
First time I'd seen him smile in years

He stopped loving her today
They placed a wreath upon his door
And soon they'll carry him away
He stopped loving her today

You know she came to see him one last time
Oh and we all wondered if she would
And it kept running through my mind
This time he's over her for good

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Song of the Day - Heaven Can Wait, Charlotte Gainsbourg

Really cool video for a potentially great song (I'm still deciding) from actress/model/singer Gainsbourg and Beck.

On an unrelated but musical note, my favorite sentence of the day comes from a defense of Third Eye Blind that appeared in New York magazine back in August: "Today’s Pitchfork-endorsed bands, like Animal Ensemble, Bear Dress, and F*ck F*ck Goose, are noisy turd-tossers happy to play for small crowds of students and other elitists joined by their search for individualism."

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Brief Comment about New Moon

I don't care for the fantasy genre, so I don't have a good sense for why Twilight and its progeny are so popular, but, while looking for screentimes near me for this weekend for The Road and Fantastic Mr. Fox, my local theater's (Cinemark West Plano) Thursday night/Friday morning schedule was impressive:

New Moon: 12:01am 12:02am 12:03am 12:04am 12:05am 12:06am 12:07am 12:10am 12:15am 12:20am 12:25am 12:30am 12:35am 12:40am 12:45am 12:50am 12:55am 3:00am. Wow.

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Song of the Day - Blow up the outside, Soundgarden

Underappreciated gem is my favorite off of their last album.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Table Read

When Leon's family moved out at the beginning of the season and he chose to stay with Larry, I knew a potential meet and greet with Michael Richards could make some great comedy and LD certainly didn't disappoint story-wise. He even surpassed expectations by having Leon pretending to be a Jew by unknowingly dressing as a Nation of Islam member. Throw in a horribly inappropriate pedophilia situation and a horribly profane Marty Funkhouser joke, and the actual Seinfeld cast reunion and read-through was one of the least memorable events of this excellent episode . . .

I was as shocked as Jerry by the sudden profanity. You're lulled into thinking you're watching a classic Seinfeld episode when the shock comedy hits you hard. Richards should be commended for addressing and acknowledging his worst 15 minutes. The Jason Alexander-pen subplot didn't work so well and Elaine was wasted, but the Newman cameo was perfect. And LD's explanation at the doctor's office had be shaking my head in disbelief. And I thought the Jesus-splash back episode was offensive! Can't wait to re-watch it tonight. A-

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DVD and Blu-ray Releases 11/17/09

Bruno - #
Downhill Racer (Criterion)
Franklyn - #
Is Anybody There? - #
My Sister's Keeper - #
Star Trek- #, *

7th Heaven: 9th Season
Rome: Complete Series
The Sopranos: Complete Series

Click below for this week's Blu-ray releases

Chasing Amy
Fight Club - *
Galaxy Quest
Gone With the Wind - *
My Brilliant Career
The Professional
sex, lies, and videotape - *

# - also on Blu-ray
* - Doctor approved

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Song of the Day - Replay, IYAZ

I really should apologize in advance for this one - great chorus, though.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Song of the Day - Closer to Fine, Indigo Girls

Despite my greatest efforts, I love this song. "with a poster of Rasputin and a beard down to his knee". Bonus: Best timewaster website ever:

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Weekend Box Office: 11/13-11/15/09

2012 made a ton of money and most everything else had pretty good holds. Precious added many theaters and continues to play strong.


1. 2012: 65 mil / (-)
2. A Christmas Carol: 22.3 mil / -26% / 63.3 mil
3. Men Who Stare at Goats: 6.2 mil / -51% / 23 mil
4. Precious: 6.1 mil / +225% / 8.9 mil
5. This Is It: 5.1 mil / -61% / 68 mil
6. The Fourth Kind: 4.7 mil / -61% / 20.6 mil
7. Couples Retreat: 4.3 mil / -31% / 102 mil
8. Paranormal Activity: 4.2 mil / -49% / 104 mil
9. Law Abiding Citizen: 3.9 mil / -35% / 67 mil
10. The Box: 3.2 mil / -58% / 13 mil
11. Pirate Radio: 2.8 mil / (-)
12. Where the Wild Things Are: 2.4 mil/-42%/73 mil

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Song of the Day - Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want, The Smiths

One of the best songs of the 80's. "See the luck I've had could make a good man turn bad."

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Phillips-Scott Update - Week 4

As their #7 picks of the decade's best films, At the Movies co-hosts Michael Phillips and AO Scott have chosen United 93 & 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, respectively - 2 respectable & affecting picks. But you probably won't want to watch either more than once. I'll side with Phillips again since United 93 is the defining film of the defining day of this decade.

As a curiosity (perhaps only to me), the newest TGS cast member on 30 Rock looked familiar and was one of the retaliating passengers in Paul Greengrass's film.

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Song of the Day - Body Rock, Moby

This one takes off at 2:41.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

The Descent A-

On DVD, Rated R, 100 minutes
British film The Descent came out back in 2006 to some pretty strong reviews. I’m not a huge fan of horror, so I thought about going to it for the 1.5 weeks it was playing in my town and then forgot about it until both a good friend and my brother started hounding me to check it out. I wish I had a do-over. This claustrophobic, terror of a movie must have played phenomenal on the big screen. Alas, I’ll have to make due with a hi-def widescreen and surround

Hears the deal: A group of 7 girlfriends (college buddies? It’s hard to say. They all seem to be from different countries and the ages are a bit diverse) get together every year for some daredevil, extreme sports fun. Brit Sarah is recovering from the loss of her husband and daughter to an automobile accident when the crew meets up in the Smokey Mountains to do a little spelunking. American Juno has put the trip together and decides without consulting the crew that they should explore an unmapped cave instead of going to the tourist trap they’d all agreed on. Did I mention Juno might have had a little something with Sarah’s husband as well? In the words of Kramer, “Catfight”. Anyway, after a cave-in makes retreat impossible, they are forced to search for a new exit, only to find there are other things living in the deep that aren’t as interested in their survival.

This film, written and directed by Brit filmmaker Neil Marshall, shares the DNA of 28 Days Later. Both are ostensibly horror films that are actually more interested in exploring other ground; and both are structured in two parts, with the first part being full of traditional scares and the second interested in facing the terror of the monster within us all. The Descent masterfully brings the claustrophobia and fear of being lost in a cave home. The seemingly endless crawlspaces (some partially underwater) are mirrored in the narrow flashlight beams so that even large caverns feel constricting. By the time the killers from the deep show up, you’re wound so tight anything could set you off. But the frights that stick with you come from watching this group slowly fracture as they’re eaten off, insuring their demise.

There’s two endings on this one, the original and the American theatrical release. Don’t wuss out and watch the sanitized ending for The Colonies. If you do, you’ll miss half the point and an ending you won’t forget. A-

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Must Reads

The New York Times is starting their decade 'look back' on film in this Sunday's magazine, but some of the articles are already up:

1. Essay about films of the aughts, by A.O. Scott

2. Scott's list of "Movies of Influence". Scott's list of "Movies of Quality".

3. PASTE Magazine's top 50 films of the decade.

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Fall Movie Releases - 11/13/09


Director Roland Emmerich destroys the entire world as well as what's left of John Cusack's credibility. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, Thandie Newton, Danny Glover, and Woody Harrelson cash paychecks. Thanks a bunch, Mayans.

Pirate Radio

In the 1960s, a bunch of DJs in the North Atlantic play rock n roll from a boat to get around the laws of the land. Interesting (British) cast includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rhys Darby, Kenneth Branagh, Rhys Ifans, Nick Frost, and Bill Nighy. Expect some pretty good music that you've heard many, many, many, many, many times before.

The Messenger

Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson are military members who deliver bad news to the relatives of fallen soldiers from the Iraq War. Foster forms a connection with the recently widowed Samantha Morton. Looks grim, but Iraq-themed movies have been much better this year. In limited release.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox

Wes Anderson takes a break from live action to bring a beloved children's book to the screen. Voices are provided by Anderson regulars Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, and Willem Dafoe and heavyweights Meryl Streep and George Clooney. Reviews are strong. In limited release.

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Song of the Day - House of Cards, Radiohead

Love the sounds Greenwood comes up with in this one.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Money Links

Alright, a few solid links for the morning commute:
1. Date Night trailer with DLP crush Tina Fey along with Steve Carell. Looks real funny with solid cameos. Here

2. Vanity Fair interview with Wes Anderson, who we're all really hoping turns it around with Fantastic Mr. Fox.

3. There's a Clash of the Titans remake! Trailer here. It's hard to explain the importance of this film to my childhood (based primarily on its availability at my buddy's house while his parents got HBO free for an introductory month). The new one looks as ridiculous as its predecessor.

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Song of the Day - Watching the Planets, The Flaming Lips

Great new single from The Flaming Lips - cosmic and melodic with a tribal beat. Cool.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Just Because...(NSFW)

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Next Year's Movies

We already know about Scorsese/DiCaprio's Shutter Island and Greengrass/Damon's Green Zone, so here is a preview of some other 2010 films that look to be great (with cool pictures).

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Curb Your Enthusiasm - Officer Krupke

Larry lies to Jeff's wife to protect his infidelities. A fire alarm at Banana Republic leads to Larry walking around with pants which contain a security device. Larry meets a police officer named Krupke and sings the West Side Story song. Also, Larry yells at some lemonade stand kids and Elisabeth Shue auditions for the Seinfeld reunion. For so many ideas floating around, the ending was brought together nicely with LD admitting that he happens to enjoy wearing ladies' panties. This episode made even less sense and was more improbable than most, but overall, like last week's episode, this is exactly what Curb Your Enthusiasm is: a bunch of seemingly unrelated topics merging into comedy gold. B+

Other thoughts:

Jerry Seinfeld did make an appearance during a casting session, but was wasted. If you have Mickey Mantle in the dugout, why not start him instead of having him pinch-run in the 8th inning? The last 2 episodes of the season promise to use him more with the titles, "The Table Read" and "Seinfeld".

Leon could have been useful dealing with the panties's situation.

Was that Ben Affleck escaping the fire alarm behind Larry?

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Song of the Day - Bonfire, Third Eye Blind

New single "Bonfire" from the band's recently released album, Ursa Major. Not a bad song, I am still listening to it.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Song of the Day - Brass in Pocket

By The Pretenders

I have always loved Chrissie Hynde's attitude. This is perhaps the most catchy of the group's great songs.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

DVD and Blu-ray Releases 11/10/09

The Accidental Husband
Ballast - #
Christmas Angel
A Christmas Proposal
The Echo - #
Ink - #
Love Finds a Home
The Merry Gentleman
Spread - #
The Ugly Truth - #
Up - #, *

Click below for this week TV and Blu-Ray releases


Dawson's Creek: Complete Series
JAG: 9th Season
Justice League: Complete Series
Nash Bridges: 3rd Season
Sesame Street: 40 Years
3 Stooges Collection, Vol. 7


Cars Gift Set - *
The General (1927) - *
Hard Candy
Heat - *
The Killers - Live from Royal Albert Hall
Logan's Run
Monsters, Inc. - *
Near Dark
The Negotiator
Red Heat
Watchmen: Ultimate Cut

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Weekend Box Office: 11/6-11/8/09


1. A Christmas Carol: 31 mil / (-)
2. This Is It: 14 mil / (-40%) / 58 mil
3. The Men Who Stare at Goats: 13.3 mil / (-)
4. The Fourth Kind: 12.5 mil / (-)
5. Paranormal Activity: 8.6 mil / -48% / 97.4 mil
6. The Box: 7.9 mil / (-)
7. Couples Retreat: 6.4 mil / -0.5% / 96 mil
8. Law Abiding Citizen: 6.2 mil / -41% / 60.9 mil
9. Where the Wild Things Are: 4.2 mil/-29%/69mil
10. Astro Boy: 2.6 mil / -25% / 15 mil

Some surprising holds across the board, especially for Couples Retreat, maybe because it's the only chick-ish movie out there. Farther down, Precious made 1.8 mil on 18 screens, which is pretty good math-wize. The Fourth Kind ripped off Paranormal Activity's marketing campaign which obviously paid off.

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"Poker Face" - a good version (or 2)

South Park has started a new season with the best episode being "Whale Whores" by far. It's available on the South Park website on 11/28/09, but here is my favorite part: Cartman singing his own version of "Poker Face".And here is Cartman practicing on Guitar Hero (I think). In some ways, it's even better.

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Best of 2009 in TV - So Far

5. 30 Rock

The jokes are fast and furious and even though all don't hit their mark, most do. The supporting cast and guest stars know their roles and pull them off perfectly. The central 4 characters are endlessly interesting and entertaining. As good as Alec Baldwin was in the his late 80s - early 90s film heyday, he seems even more suited to fill right-wing executive Jack Donaghy's shoes. And Tina Fey may have presided over a particularly bad span on SNL, but she has certainly found her place in the world both as a writer and performer in the past 3+ years.

4. Taking Chance

This HBO original drama did many things all other Iraq War feature films had not. Coffins and military personnel bodies were respectively and honorably shown. The political points were subtle and indisputable. And "flyover country" was show exactly as it is: good people with happy, simpler lives. It also contained the best performance of Kevin Bacon's career.

3. Flight of the ConchordsThe original songs weren't quite as good as the first season, but the stories were better integrated with the songs and Jemaine and Bret seemed more comfortable. The interactions with Murray were less frustrating and more unusually funny.

2. Curb Your Enthusiasm

Larry David came back from a 2 year hiatus with his comedy guns blazing. The Seinfeld reunion was a unique idea on several levels that paid off with some of the best rapport of the decade with Jerry Seinfeld and David. It's not quite all-time classic material like the original Seinfeld since that show had David's misanthropy adequately tempered by the other performers and David doppelganger Jason Alexander's curmudgeonly appeal.

1. The National Parks: America's Best IdeaKen Burns's monumental 12 hour documentary about the formation and fight for the National Parks is the one lasting TV experience of the year. Invaluable as a history lesson, insightful in its observations of man's relationship with nature, and inspiring with its specific human stories, Burns can add this timeless archive to his impressive resume. One for the DVD library for your kids and everyone else.

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Song of the Day - Kiss Them For Me, Siouxsie and the Banshees

A perfect realization of 80's syncopated altrock.

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Phillips-Scott Update - Week 3

At the Movies co-hosts Michael Phillips and AO Scott have selected Mulholland Drive and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, respectively, as their #8 film of the decade. My only complaint is neither is high enough since they were #1 & #2 on my list well into 2007. Scott loses points by dumping on Lynch's masterpiece, but at least he chosen a great (let alone good) film this time. On their website, you can choose your own personal favorite. Readers currently have voted the top ten as . . .

2. There Will Be Blood
3. The Dark Knight
4. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
5. The Departed
6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
7. Mulholland Dr.
8. No Country For Old Men
9. Pan's Labyrinth
10. Children of Men

Not bad. Power to the people, well, at least the people visiting and voting on their website.

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Song of the Day: Martha- Tom Waits

When you're wanting to weep, (and who doesn't, occasionally?) Tom Waits is your man. Here's a recent little discovery of mine that punches every single button I've got.Martha.

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Song of the Day - I Am the Resurrection

By the Stone Roses

The Stone Roses never became the band they promised with their debut album. Their 2nd album was disappointing (and later became a great joke in Shaun of the Dead). But their first album is still excellent after all these years. "I Am the Resurrection" is the best on the album (but a recent run-through proves them all pretty great). It's straight Brit-rock with great individual contributions from the drums, bass, and lead guitar. The melodic vocal lines are inspiring even though the lyrics are pretty brutal toward an ex-lover turned stalker. Then halfway through the 8+ minute song turns into a long, tight, synchronized guitar solo. Listen to it here.

Down down, you bring me down
I hear you knocking down my door and I can't sleep at night
Your face, it has no place
No room for you inside my house I need to be alone

Don't waste your words I don't need anything from you
I don't care where you've been or what you plan to do

Turn turn, I wish you'd learn
There's a time and place for everything I've got to get it through
Cut loose, cause you're no use
I couldn't stand another second in your company

Don't waste your words I don't need anything from you
I don't care where you've been or what you plan to do

Stone me, why can't you see
You're a no-one nowhere washed up baby who'd look better dead

Your tongue is far too long
I don't like the way it sucks and slurps upon my every word

Don't waste your words I don't need anything from you
I don't care where you've been or what you plan to do

I am the resurrection and I am the light
I couldn't ever bring myself to hate you as I'd like

I am the resurrection and I am the light
I couldn't ever bring myself to hate you as I'd like

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Song of the Day - In a Big Country

By Big Country.

You gotta love one-hit wonder 80s bands who named themselves after their lone accessible song. Nice Gaelic feel and some pretty good lyrics. Check it out here.

I've never seen you look like this without a reason,
Another promise fallen through, another season passes by you.
I never took the smile away from anybody's face,
And that's a desperate way to look for someone who is still a child.

In a big country, dreams stay with you,
Like a lover's voice fires the mountainside..
Stay alive -

I thought that pain and truth were things that really mattered
But you can't stay here with every single hope you had shattered

I'm not expecting to grow flowers in the desert,
But I can live and breathe and see the sun in wintertime


So take that look out of here, it doesn't fit you.
Because it's happened doesn't mean you've been discarded.
Pull up your head off the floor, come up screaming.
Cry out for everything you ever might have wanted.
I thought that pain and truth were things that really mattered
But you can't stay here with every single hope you had shattered.

I'm not expecting to grow flowers in the desert,
But I can live and breathe and see the sun in wintertime


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Fall Movie Releases - 11/6/09

The Men Who Stare at Goats

A secret military specials forces unit that deals with psychics and mind control is discovered by a recently divorced reporter. Grant Heslov directs and George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey, and Robert Patrick star. The trailer looks amusing and this could be wacky enough to be great. Hopefully, it won't get bogged down with a message.

The Box

Director Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko, Southland Tales) takes a short story previously made into a 1980s Twilight Zone episode (spoilers here) & lengthens it. It's good that he's relying on another writer given his nonsensical original screenplays, but there may not be enough story to deal with an obvious moral dilemma. The likable James Marsden and Cameron Diaz co-star as a couple who are offered $1 million to press a button and kill a stranger.

A Christmas Carol

Director Robert Zemeckis returns to animated motion-capture (like Polar Express and Beowulf) as well as time-travelling, I guess. After dozens of updated versions, Zemeckis returns Charles Dickens's story to 19th century England. Jim Carrey, Colin Firth, Gary Oldman, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?'s Bob Hoskins co-star.

The Fourth Kind

In a small Alaskan town, many people have disappeared in the past few decades. Is it aliens? Is it the government? Is it a registered sex offender? Milla Jovovich, Elias Koteas, and the great Will Patton co-star.

Precious: Based on the Novel PUSH by Sapphire

A morbidly obese, illiterate, black 16 year old from Harlem is pregnant for the 2nd time with her father and is constantly verbally, mentally, and physically abused by her mother. She'll no doubt overcome all obstacles by the closing credits. Sounds like a great time at the movies. It's getting good reviews and looks interesting from a casting standpoint (Lenny Kravitz and Mariah Carey play straight dramatic roles). Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey produce, so that's something. In limited release.

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