Tuesday, January 31st, 2006
I’m not too proud to admit that before I went to see it on Saturday, I kept getting Woody Allen’s latest Match Point mixed up with Wimbledon. Not that I’d seen the latter. Anyway, it’s decidedly not a romantic comedy about tennis, rather a slow, taut suspense about a former tennis pro who tries to juggle his upper crust, social climber lifestyle with a mistress and does a rather poor job of it. Okay, that’s a rather flip description of the film, but I don’t want to get into it any more for fear of spoiling the plot. I believe this is exactly the third Woody Allen film I’ve seen, and based on that incredibly comprehensive sampling of his ouvre, I can say I definitely preferred it to his comedies – Allen’s humour, or more accurately his persona which he insists on projecting onto his characters – just doesn’t do it for me.
But Allen’s skill as a director is undeniable and he does a fine job in Match Point. It’s a slow film – so much time is spent building the situation and relationships that when it begins to shift gears from drama to suspense, it comes as something of a surprise. Once it does slip the thriller robes on, it builds the tension effectively but remains refreshingly grounded. There’s no giant lapses in plausability, breakdowns in logic, or frustrating moments of deus ex machina – just wholly believable luck, good and bad. Jonathan Rhys Myers and Scarlett Johansson are an absurdly handsome couple onscreen, especially contrasted against the relative dowdiness of the rest of the cast. Rhys Myers is particular effective in remaining inscrutable – by not coming off as obviously either a manipulator or opportunist, it’s hard to read exactly what he’s willing or going to do next. Overall quite a good film and it seems that getting out of New York City has done Allen’s creativity a world of good.
Bradley’s Almanac has converted another of his bootleg cassettes to MP3 form to share – this time a Spooky-era Lush show from Chicago taken from a radio broadcast, so the audio quality is pretty damn good (though you can hear the wow and flutter from the zillion times Brad has probably played the thing).
The New York Times thinks her audience might be a little scandalized to find out that Jenny Lewis likes country music. Once you’ve picked yourself up off the floor from that revelation, head over to her website and check out the video for “Rise Up With Fists”. Do kids these days even know what Hee Haw was? I mean, I barely do, and I’m old.
Mercury Rev alumnus Hopewell are at the Horseshoe April 11. I only know a little about them, but they seem like they might be up my alley. Anyone want to testify one way or the other? And Norwegian psych-rockers Serena Maneesh are at Lee’s Palace on March 30. I will not be around for that one, so I’ll have to try and catch them at SxSW (perhaps at the just-announced Under The Radar/Tag Team day party). What I’ve heard of them is pretty damn good – From Blown Speakers has an mp3 right now that may persuade you to agree. I can’t seem to find out exactly when the album is being released on these shores, I think it’s available as import right now but surely with the touring, a domestic issue is forthcoming? And Pitchfork has a live review (and references Match Point! Oh, synchronicity!).
Amazon.com offers some advice on how to woo an indie rock girl via mix tape. Don’t ask me how I found this.
PopMatters wonders who will be the greatest bands ever once the classic rock generation is dead and buried.
24: Overheard at the White House last night – “Hey Dick, could we get away with that nerve gas thing? Jack Bauer’s not real, is he? He looks real.” This WMD twist is a good one. Clever clever. Bet the current administration wishes they thought of it first. Sure they did the White House coup thing a couple seasons ago, but this one is far more interesting and has more potential. It’s a shame Logan found a backbone so quickly – it’d have been pretty cool if they’d milked it a bit and had Jack working directly against the President for at least part of the season. But at least we got a fine (almost) tortune scene out of it. I wanted to see Cummings cry like a little girl. I just hope they have some more twists in store and it doesn’t settle into “chase the terrorist” for too long. That’s so done.
np – Lush / Topolino