Archive for May, 2004

Wednesday, May 26th, 2004

Stories Often Told

I was really only lukewarm on the first Shrek – it was pleasant but a little bit milquetoast for my liking. It felt overly restrained, maybe because of the poor track record to that point of any animated feature that wasn’t Disney. Well I think that the success of the first one gave them the confidence to go all out on the sequel, and it’s fantastic. Shrek 2 is far and away the most fun I’ve had at a movie in recent memory. It starts a little slowly with the same safe tone as the first film, but completely takes off when Shrek and Fiona travel to the land of Far Far Away. The sight gags and jokes keep coming fast and furious for the duration of the film and don’t let up for a minute – Everything from the prison break through the grand finale is non-stop laugh-out-loud funny. Antonio Banderas’ Puss-In-Boots steals the show, no mean feat considering the level of voice talent involved. Hell, even the soundtrack is impressive. Not surprisingly, two more sequels have been given the go-ahead and the studio is in talks to secure the voice talent. As much as I’m looking forward to The Incredibles this Fall, I can’t imagine it topping Shrek 2 as best animated film of the year. Hell, restricting it to the animated category is doing it a disservice – this is easily the best movie I’ve seen this year. Go see it.

Harvey Pekar originally did this strip singing the praises of Billy Bragg for publication in Entertainment Weekly, but they backed out after a previous strip with Sean Penn got a little too controversial for their tastes.

One show I’m looking forward to at NXNE this year is the Rainbow Quartz Records showcase at Healey’s on Friday June 11, which will feature Volebeats, Myracle Brah and Denise James. Not familiar with the artists? The label (the self-proclaimed “source for perfect guitar pop”) has set up a special NXNE minisite to get you acquainted..

The final 24 commentary for the year. Sniff. So yeah, I dunno. As I expected, season 3 sputtered out at the end. As promised, they did manage to write out most of the current cast which at least offers the opportunity of a blank slate for season 4, and hopefully with the late season start date they’ll have the time to put together a better storyline and not fly by the seat of their pants so much. I got excited at the start of the finale when the warning came up promising graphic violence, but I guess their standards for ‘graphic’ are different from mine. I guess cutting a guys hand off with a fire axe is graphic. My question is who on earth keeps an axe in a classroom in this day and age? I thought kids weren’t even allowed to bring butter knives to school. Geez. I’m a little surprised Chase survived – telling Jack that he was quitting the field before the mission was over was just dumb. Hasn’t he ever seen any cop revenge movies? He may as well have pulled out a picture of the boat he just finished paying off and talked about his plans to sail around the world when this was all over. It’s a shame Palmer is leaving but after this season, there’s really no way he could have stayed on without it being contrary to how the character was written from day one. Finally, Jack’s breakdown at the very end? It was affecting – it was good to show the other side to his ultra-intense super-agent persona. Poor Jack needs a vacation. But honestly, in every scene from the hospital on, I was waiting for his nose to start bleeding. So there you have it. Let’s get on with our lives, shall we?

Update: The Toronto Sun has its own snarky review of the 24 finale.

np – The New Pornographers / Electric Version

Tuesday, May 25th, 2004


Finally. Brooklyn’s finest (to my ears, anyway) Sea Ray will make their Toronto debut at the Rivoli Sunday June 27, tickets $10 in advance. Their record Stars At Noon is chock full of wonderfully lush and dreamy pop, but not wimpy in the least, and is getting some serious mileage in my playlist. All reports are that they put on a fantastic show. This will be so good. That last week of June is shaping up to be one crazy week of shows – Sea Ray Sunday, Iron & Wine Tuesday, Nellie McKay Wednesday, The Magnetic Fields Friday. Thank goodness that that Thursday is a holiday and Friday just a half day.

Also cool – Heart Murmur brings word of a Beulah DVD due out late Summer or early Fall. A Good Band Is Easy To Kill follows the band on tour through North America last Fall in support of Yoko. Their October show at Lee’s Palace was one of the best concerts I went to last year, so I’m obviously looking forward to seeing this.

Despite their roster being down one keyboardist and up one guitarist, New Order says their new record sounds “more Techniquey in its feel than Get Ready is and we’re all feeling uppy and it sounds uppy”. This sounds completely contrary to earlier reports that their sound was “much more like Joy Division again”. Oh well. The album probably won’t be out till next year.

Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning talks to Billboard about goings-on in the BSS camp, including the follow-up to You Forgot It In People (which had been given a working title of Windsurfing Nation at some point in the distant past) being pushed back to next Spring to accommodate their Lollapalooza touring plans.

The most interesting Stanley Cup final in recent memory kicks off tonight – two young, fast, exciting and low-payroll teams duke it out while the old, trapping big-spender teams (my beloved Leafs included) sit on the sidelines and watch. I truly hope this is the start of a trend and that more teams will buy into the systems that have turned Calgary and Tampa Bay from laughing stocks just a few seasons ago into legitimate champions. Are you paying attention, Leafs management? No, of course you’re not. Idiots. For the record – I’m pulling for Calgary, naturally, but wouldn’t be sad if Tampa and Dave Andreychuk took the Cup.

The passing of the May 2-4 long weekend means two things – one, apparently it’s no longer a fashion faux pas to wear white pants? And two, I’m on Summer hours at work. What this means is that I get up an hour earlier Monday through Thursday to get into work for 8AM, and then I finish at noon on Fridays so I can go home and nap to make up for the four hours of lost sleep from earlier in the week.

np – Neil Young & Crazy Horse / Zuma

Monday, May 24th, 2004

Girls On Film

So I’m standing in the lobby of the Paramount yesterday afternoon, trying to decide – Mean Girls or Kill Bill Vol 2. I was pretty much guaranteed of catfights either way, but decided to go with the lighter fare so the jailbait won out. And it gave me an opportunity to pretend I was for a day and post a pic of Lindsay Lohan.

Comparisons of Mean Girls to benchmark high-school black comedy Heathers are pretty way-off. Heathers was much much darker and more vicious. Mean Girls is much more in line with Clueless, though it does have a fair bit more nastiness. While it does have a goodly amount of fun at the expense of snooty. bitchy teenage girls, it’s careful to keep it all reasonably harmless, light-hearted and PG. No one is getting killed and no schools are getting blown up. Which is okay, I suppose, I personally have no deep-seated need to see pretty blondes get decapitated, but I admit I had been hoping for something a little more pointed. Still, it was pretty good fun though I’m thinking I might be past the age where I can wholly relate to high school movies. Now it’s like, “Kids these days! They didn’t dress like that when I was in school!”. And they didn’t. But I was amused to see the math Olympics thing shot in Convocation Hall down the street at the University of Toronto (I totally forgot that it was filmed here) and that they were using the same calculus textbooks as I used in high school.

And on the topic of girls kicking ass – very disappointing season finale of Alias last night. Hardly any of the ongoing storylines were resolved and considering all the balls they had in the air, their choice of a ‘cliffhanger’ scene was pretty weak. Yeah, we all know that Sydney was born and bred to be a spy by her parents. Blah blah blah. Come on, you can do better than that. I am rather excited that almost all my regular shows have wrapped up for the season, though. Come Tuesday when 24 wraps for the year, I will be free from the oppressive yoke of the boob tube for another four months. Which is good, because it means I can catch up on my DVD watching! Ha.

And on the topic of 24JAM! reviews the past season of 24 and takes a look into the future, and reveals something I didn’t know for next season – it’s not debuting till January (!!!) and will run for 23 weeks uninterrupted till May, the premiere being a two-hour episode. I’ve also heard it’s moving to Monday nights. That’s crazy. They’re messing with the natural order of things. What the hell am I supposed to do till January, and on Tuesday nights for, like, the rest of my life?

Oh, and to backtrack just a bit, this article says that ABC is pulling the same January premiere stunt for Alias. BOOOO. I hope that it will still get to run a full 22 episodes, and doesn’t get stuck with a truncated half-season.

Rummy has a solution for the vexing problem of those pics of prisoner abuses in Iraq – ban cameras. Yeah. Not even worth further comment. Thanks to Gary for sending me the link.

Yeah, I’m posting late. It’s a holiday, cut me some slack.

np – Sigur Ros / Ágætis Byrjun

Sunday, May 23rd, 2004

Turn On The News

So Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 won the Palme d’Or at Cannes. This simultaneously thrills and disgusts me. Thrill, because the timing is such that it’ll undoubtedly stir up a shitstorm of controversy about the Bush presidency in the crucial months leading up to the November election, and disgust because I don’t look forward to having to listen to his fans parrot everything he says in the film as gospel. See, I don’t trust Michael Moore. I don’t like how he builds his cases on half-truths, exaggerations and stunts to get his points across. Don’t get me wrong – I stand on very much the same political ground as him, but I think the facts in support of these beliefs are strong enough to stir the necessary debate without having them spun and giving opponents a legitimate beef with their presentation.

His “I’m a documentarian no wait I’m a satirist” schtick doesn’t do much to inspire confidence, nor does his typical bluster and outrage at anyone who would dare to call into question anything he says. It’s fact if you believe it, satire if you don’t. Consider Bowling For Columbine – a cursory internet search will no doubt bring up a multitude of hits for sites debunking much of the ‘facts’ he put forward in his breakthrough film. Would I suggest that they’re all right? Hell no, but they’re not all wrong either, and their POV is certainly worth investigating, providing you can cut through the polemic and rhetoric, and want to be fully informed and make up your own mind. Consider a couple seemingly innocuous ones – that the Columbine didn’t actually go bowling the morning of the shootings as the film alleges (they cut the class that day), and the bank where Moore gets a rifle after opening an account doesn’t actually just hand out the guns – they do FBI background checks first. And oh yeah – we don’t actually all leave our doors unlocked in Canada. Sure, what Moore presents makes for more interesting filmmaking, but it’s not true. And if he’s fudging that stuff, what else is he twisting? It may seem I’m getting pedantic about details, but the truth is sacred and if you start compromising the high ground, you lose your credibility. You can’t believe everything your guy says just because it’s what you want to hear and dismiss everything the other guy says, just because it’s not what you want to hear. I imagine that’s a lot what it’s like to be a Bush supporter these days.

From what I’ve heard, Fahrenheit 9/11 compiles a lot of third-party news reports to make its case and Moore himself stays, so hopefully it’s a little lighter on the stunts and spin. And I will see it. And I will no doubt be even more outraged at the Bush administration afterwards than I am now, which is a little hard to fathom. But you’re also damn right I’m going to question every single thing that I see in it. Don’t get me wrong – like I said, it will spur debate, and debate is always good (though in these times, I would not be surprised if it’s utterly ineffective – people are so entrenched in their beliefs these days). It’s just better when you can fully believe in the guys on your side.

So there’s a little light ranting for a Sunday morning. Slow day, y’know. It was either this or I complain about the weather. Which I’ll do anyway. Rain every single day of the long weekend? Feh.

np – Lambchop / Is A Woman

Saturday, May 22nd, 2004

Playing Kiss Covers Beautiful And Stoned

Glorious Noise has a review of Wilco’s show at Otto’s in DeKalb, Illinois this past Wednesday, one of the first live shows to support A Ghost Is Born. Anyone worrying about how the new lineup will sound apparently does not need to worry – survey says they rock. Hear it for yourself – Sharing The Groove has a bit torrent of the show and Sidewalkserfergurl has some pics from the show, including the one I’ve used for this entry. Dig Tweedy’s shaggy new ‘do.

With less than a fortnight to go before they go on sale, some details about Lollapalooza tickets are finally starting to come together. Ticketmaster has a sliding scale for prices depending on which day you’re attending – day one tickets go from $35.50 to $69.50, while day 2 tickets are only $19.50 to $45.50. That seems kind of odd, particularly since no other dates have had different prices per day. Chart says that 2-day passes will run $40 for lawns, $80 for seats. I would assume their sources are reliable, but you never know. If these prices are correct, however, I could easily be persuaded to go to both days and sit out on the grass, soak up the music. For all the questions about tickets, what does seem certain is the lineup for Toronto – see the full listing here. No PJ Harvey is unfortunate.

A miniature Swedish invasion hits Toronto as The Hives and Sahara Hotnights play the Phoenix July 24.

Watched David Mamet’s Heist last night. I love a good caper flick, but this one fell flat for me. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what didn’t do it for me. The script was decent though not really up to Mamet’s standards. Very heavy on what I assume is genuine crook lingp, but a little too slick and clever for its own good. Everyone in Gene Hackman’s crew was so cool and professional that they barely showed any emotion, it was all just part of the plan, part of the job, even as double-crosses turned into triple-crosses and quadruple-crosses. It was hard to believe they had much at stake at all. Not a waste of time, but nothing to write home about either.

np – Doves / Lost Sides