Wednesday, February 26, 2014


I’ve decided to start doing an occasional post on movies that fall into the genre “cult classics” because often times they are artsy, lesser known, yet still incredible films which don’t show up on people’s radars.  I recently re-watched the Alex Cox sci-fi comedy film Repo Man starring Harry Dean Stanton and Emilio Estevez and felt that it was a perfect candidate for my first cult classic.  The film takes places in Los Angeles and centers around Otto (played by Emilio Estevez), a punk rocker who is dissatisfied with his home, his job, and his life.  Disillusioned, he spends most of his time wandering the streets and listening to music.  However, a chance encounter with a repo man named Bud (played by Harry Dean Stanton) pulls young Otto into a new life working for Helping Hand Acceptance Corporation, an auto repossession company.  As the two get into a series of crazy encounters, the most intriguing being the attempted repossession of a car carrying three dead aliens in the trunk, Otto is constantly reminded that “the life of a repo man is always intense”.  With an offbeat humor throughout and underhanded jokes and lines which can be easy to miss, Repo Man is a movie which should be seen more than once.  With all food generically labeled simply as “Beer” or “Cereal” or “Meat” and characters straight out of the early 80’s LA Hardcore scene, the film feels almost dystopian at times but that adds to the coolness factor as you inevitably find yourself asking “what is happening with this movie?” on more than one occasion.  The soundtrack is phenomenal as well with tracks by Iggy Pop, Black Flag, The Plugz, and Suicidal Tendencies just to name a few and was voted one of the best movie soundtracks by Rolling Stone Magazine.  Overall, it’s a cheaply made, DIY style film which feels like it was created by the very people who starred in it, but that is what makes it a cult classic.

Songs from Today's Commute

A few from this morning's playlist:

1. No Rain - Blind Melon
2. Longview - Green Day
3. If I Didn't Care - The Ink Spots
4. Rock this Town - Stray Cats
5. Call Me - Blondie

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

This Is The End - What Were You Guys Thinking??

This Is the End was a movie of epic proportions and epic failures.  The directorial debut of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the film was jam packed with an all-star cast including James Franco, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, and Craig Robinson.  The concept is interesting in that every actor plays themselves.  Seth Rogan and friend Jay Baruchel are spending the weekend together and Rogan suggests they attend a party at James Franco’s house.  While at the celebrity packed party which offers cameos from actors such as Michael Cera and Emma Watson, the two meet up with Franco, Hill, McBride and Robinson.  A loud noise outside suddenly halts the party and upon further investigation, the six friends realize that the apocalypse is upon them.  From there all hell breaks loose (quite literally) and the friends are forced to work together to survive.  While the plot was strong and sounds hysterical, the film failed to deliver jokes that supported the funny concept which was massively disappointing.  The film was over the top crude and disgusting, at times feeling more like Scary Movie 27 than anything close to the comedic genius of films like Pineapple Express or Knocked Up.  While there were several moments that were funny, nothing stood out as overly hysterical and I did not find myself laughing out loud at anything.  Overall, the film felt like something thrown together on a rainy afternoon by a bunch of middle school kids with an extensive budget to work with.  In the end, the film had a few moments but was ultimately a huge let down.  That being said, the two 12 year olds in the front row thought it was the best film since Casablanca.   

Devo Guitarist Bob Casale Passes Away of Heart Failure

As we all know, celebrity deaths always come in multiples and the death of Bob Casale, lead guitarist for New Wave superstars Devo was just as sudden and unexpected as the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman.  The Akron, Ohio band formed in the early 1970's as a way of expressing their political and social ideas.  They rose to prominence in the early punk rock scene and eventually went on to define some of the early new wave sounds pioneered by bands like Blondie and the Talking Heads in the late 70's.  Of course everyone will always remember Devo for their crazy red hats and that annoyingly catchy song "Whip It" but the ideas put out by the band both musically and politically were driven largely by Casale alongside his brother Gerald and lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh.  Recent talks of a Devo reunion can now be officially laid to rest alongside their founding guitarist.

Philip Seymour Hoffman - A Senseless, Tragic Loss

The death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman is a tragic loss to Hollywood and one that will not soon be forgotten.  With an illustrious career spanning over 50 films and stage productions, Hoffman was truly one of the great actors of our time.  Hoffman took home an Academy Award win for Best Actor in 2005 for his brilliant portrayal of Truman Capote in the Oscar powerhouse film Capote.  Since then he has continued to rack up Academy nominations for his roles in Charlie Wilson’s War, Doubt, and most recently The Master where he starred alongside Joaquin Phoenix.  In addition, Hoffman had a glowing career on stage having been nominated for three Tony Awards for his roles in the Broadway productions of True West, Long Day’s Journey into Night, and Death of a Salesman.  Unfortunately, Hoffman had a dark youth, consumed by drug addiction while he was attending college in the late 1980’s.  Addictions to alcohol and heroin caused the young actor more trouble than they were worth and he checked himself into rehab at only 22.  Since then he has been clean for over 20 years and has had three children with longtime girlfriend Mimi O’Donnell.  However, after their separation over a year ago, Hoffman began to go down the paths that led him to drug addiction in his younger days.  Recent reports showed he had checked into rehab recently but it wouldn’t prove as effective as it had two decades earlier.  Hoffman was found by a close friend in his New York City apartment, dead of an apparent heroin overdose, the cold, empty needle still protruding from his lifeless arm.  The world is now left with only a memory of an actor who loved what he did, gave everything he had to each and every role, and was destined to do many more great things.  Check out Rolling Stone's list of 14 Brilliant Seymour Hoffman Performances below.

14 Brilliant Seymour Hoffman Performances

Today's Playlist

1. Pioneer Spine - Speedy Ortiz
2. Seizure - Hunters
3. Watered  Down - Swearin'
4. Get Up - Sleater Kinney
5. The Art of Losing - American Hi Fi
6. Ballroom Blitz - Sweet
7. Follow You Down - Gin Blossoms
8. Punk Rock Girl - Dead Milkmen
9. Iris - Goo Goo Dolls
10. Drunken Lullabies - Flogging Molly

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Prisoners - Great Crime Thriller, Over the Top Acting

Prisoners was a great thriller but had some acting which was a little over the top.  The film focuses on the Dover family who live a quiet, normal suburban life alongside their friends the Birch family.  While attending Thanksgiving dinner at the Birches the families let their daughters Anna and Joy return to the Dover household up the street to search for Anna’s missing whistle.  However, as the families go their separate ways later in the evening they quickly realize that the girls are missing.  Anna’s father Keller played by Hugh Jackman frantically begins searching all over for the girls along with Joy’s father Franklin played by Terrence Howard.  A strange RV which was parked in the neighborhood immediately grabs their attention and they report it to the authorities.  The investigation into the girls disappearance and the RV is led by Detective David Loki, a greasy veteran detective played by Jake Gyllenhaal  who has never left a case unsolved.  The RV is quickly located and the driver, Alex Jones, played by Paul Dano is arrested and brought in for questioning.  Keller is convinced of his guilt and when the police fail to find any evidence linking him to the crime despite hours of interrogation and meticulous police work, Alex is released.  Keller becomes enraged and after realizing the police are not going to be actively looking into Alex any further, he decides to take matters into his own hands.  From there a well thought out and surprising thriller unfolds as Keller begins to make choices that make him no better than the kidnappers.  Shocking twists and turns follow as Detective Loki follows all leads and is eventually led to a stunning conclusion tying together a multitude of subtle clues.  Overall the film was entertaining and kept the viewer enthralled as you constantly wonder who the kidnapper is, where the girls are, or if they are even still alive.  Not having any children, it’s hard for me to comprehend how it feels to have one go missing; however, Hugh Jackman’s performance seemed rather over the top and extreme.  The same goes for Gyllenhaal’s performance as Detective Loki.  While he comes across as a committed and caring detective his methods are beyond extreme and would get any detective in the real world suspended or even fired.  That being said, the movie was surprising and keeps you guessing which is what anyone wants in a good crime thriller.

Swearin' - The Best of the 90's is Alive and Well

Just when I think I’ve found a band that couldn’t get any better it seems another one comes along which raises my expectations.  That is exactly what happened with Swearin’, a Philidelphia based four piece whose second album Surfing Strange released at the end of 2013 is a 28 minute explosion of everything that was great about the 90’s, mixed with some current indie influences and incredible punk rock undertones.  The albums 11 tracks are each as mind-blowingly awesome as the last and punch you in the face with some heavy Nirvana like riffs and incredibly catchy hooks.  Tracks like “Watered Down” and “Curdled” are carbon copies of the sound Pavement invented in 1992 with some modern influences which make the tracks a blend of both classic 90’s indie and current alt-rock which is VERY difficult to do well.  Other tracks like the slow/heavy/slow sound of “Melanoma” take that same Pavement sound and mix it with the Lemonheads in the best possible way.  The Pixies come through heavily on songs like “Mermaid” and “Parts of Speech” especially as singer Allison Crutchfield sings back and forth with singer/guitarist Kyle Gilbride over scratchy distorted guitars and that famous loud/quiet/loud song structure which made Surfer Rosa such a kickass record.  With Allison solely at the helm on “Lorretta’s Flowers” the band starts to take on the Breeders in a good way while the piano in “Glare at the Sun” turns a 90’s influenced alt rock track into a Beatles infused cacophony of guitar rock.  Just when the multitude of phenominal influences couldn’t get any more diverse, the song “Unwanted Place” clearly has elements of early 90’s pop punk like NOFX or Dookie era Green Day with heavier guitars.  But the band can also craft a sound all their own and that is exemplified in songs like “Echo Locate” and lead track “Dust in the Gold Sack” which show that the band loves the old stuff but know how to fit in to the modern indie alternative landscape.  Swearin’ are a group that pays intense homage to their predecessors in a way unlike any other band I’ve seen lately and they do it unfairly well.  It’s criminal that bands like this don’t get more attention today and for that I raise my glass to Swearin’ and say well done!  Now please make more records.