December 31, 2001

2001 Year-End Wrap-Up

My Top Five of the year: The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, Monsters Inc., Ocean's Eleven, The Royal Tenembaums, and Shrek

December 26, 2001

A Beautiful Mind

The trailers and commercials hyped A Beautiful Mind as a code breaking spy thriller only if it were...

beautifulRussell Crowe stars in the story (based on real events) of John Forbes Nash Jr, a mathematics genius. In the first third of the film, we learn that Nash is brilliant, intolerant of lazy thinking, and introverted to a fault. "I don’t like other people, and they don’t like me" he remarks. His whole mind is tied to creating a 'truly original idea'. Director Ron Howard (Apollo 13, Ransom) goes to great lengths to show us how revolutionary and cool Nash’s ideas are. Thankfully, Nash only explains himself once, and then at a suitably earthy level that everyone can understand.

The first half of the film feels like Good Will Hunting crossed with North By Northwest. A math genius plunged into cloak-and-dagger intrigue. Only at the midway point do we learn that there’s more in Nash’s (and Howard’s) Mind than we thought.

Howard is the king of the safe, dependable movie you can safely take your parents to see. Nothing challenging, nothing revolutionary, just quality, mainstream entertainment. There’s nothing remarkable here, except for another (sigh) revelatory performance from Russell Crowe. There are no great lines, no great scenes, but to watch Crowe react to the outside stimulus to his interior world. Howard draws out Nash’s overactive mind through a labyrinth of mathematical notation, but we can see Nash’s wheels turning in the eyes of Crowe.

Jennifer Connelly (Pollock, Requiem for a Dream), in her highest profile role of her career, is splendid as Nash’s wife and only connection to the real world. She is an intelligent, educated woman who loves Nash’s heart over his mind. Her character is well-formed on the page, and she plays the conflicts between the heart and mind, the real world and the metaphysical, with grace.

Ed Harris is Ed Harris. Always superb (Pollock, Apollo 13), he does a fine job as a G-man doggedly pursuing Nash’s genius for the good of the country. In his 1940’s spook suit, he looks tough and mean enough to beat up Humphrey Bogart.

The movie has the potential to be 'excellent', but steps back into 'very good' territory in the last third. When making a biopic of a real person (Nash is alive and well) you must choose whether to tell THE story OF a man’s life, or A story IN a man’s life. Howard tries for both and the movie suffers for it. Once Nash conquers his struggles, the film continues for (what feels like) twenty minutes, covering the Sixties, Seventies, Eighties and Nineties. This incredibly boring section is necessary to get us to a 1994 Nobel Prize ceremony scene, and a completely fictional accepance speech. The story IN his life was over decades earlier. If Nash were a fictional character, these 20 minutes would never have made the final cut. Howard felt the need (out of respect) to conclude the movie on the best, happiest, and least ambiguous note possible. No doubt can be left in the viewer’s mind that everything turned out okay.

Crowe shines in this otherwise solid, workmanlike biography. You can always count on Howard for quality product, but it wouldn’t hurt the film to trim a little. (AMC Framingham, wth my friend Lyza)

December 25, 2001

The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring

lordBetter than I hoped for. As soon as the closing credits began, I thought to myself "I could watch The Two Towers right this second. Bring it on! I am pretty sure I had read all of Fellowship before I saw the movie. I remember I wasn't finished reading all three books yet, though...

The first time I saw The Fellowship of the Ring was Christmas Day, at Showcase Cinemas Randolph. The second time I saw The Fellowship of the Ring was December 30, outside Salt Lake City, UT, with Laurie and Joel.

In the eight years + four months since I saw LOTR:FOTR, I have probably put this movie in my DVD player more than any other movie. That doesn't mean I've watched all three hours every time, but the LOTR movies are our first choice for "something to watch while puttering around the house on the weekend."

Overheard At A Lord Of The Rings Trilogy Marathon

  • "I know they're lonely and a long way from home, but should Sam and Frodo be spooning?"
  • "If the cave troll and the Incredible Hulk had a fight, who would win?"
  • "When do the Hobbits play Quidditch? Did I miss it?"
  • "I think I see Peter Jackson."
  • "You know, once you've made it with an elf, you never go back."
  • "Would it kill them to "accidentally" leave a few reels out?"
  • "If Frodo and Sam would just drive to Mount Doom, this film would be a lot shorter."
  • "I will not rest until there's a black elf in Hobbiton."
  • "You know what this film needs? More dancing."
  • "I think I sprained my imagination!"
  • "Gee, there are a lot of furry feet in this movie."
  • "I can't feel my ass- will you carry me to the bathroom?"
  • "I just stepped out to watch Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star next door. Did I miss anything?"
  • "Seven hours of trailers for "Return of the King," what were they thinking?"
  • "I think I just saw a Hobbit with Birkenstocks?"
  • "Frodo dies!" (shouted by interloper at theater door; riot ensues)
  • "Wow, these extra scenes add so much nuance to the zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz..."

December 16, 2001

Vanilla Sky

Vanilla Sky is a bold, experimental journey into man’s dreams and desires. But has Cameron Crowe has taken a radical departure from his typical style, or a departure from his senses?

Vanilla Sky is based on the Spanish film Abre Los Ojos, co-written and directed by Alejandro Amenábar (The Others). Tom Cruise plays David Aames, a millionaire playboy whose wild, womanizing ways have led him into a disastrous affair and a crippling accident with his lover, Julie Gianni (Cameron Diaz). The same night of the accident, he meets another woman: the enigmatic, adorable Sofia (Penélope Cruz, who played this role in the original). After the accident, David’s life comes falling apart. His face resembling the Frankenstein monster and limping like Igor, he falls into a deep depression. His best friend (Jason Lee) appears to be stealing away Sofia, and control of his family business is slipping away at the hands of his board of directors. While we are supposed to believe that his mental crisis is abetted by the symptoms of his injuries, it’s hard not to believe that David’s depressed because, frankly, he’s gone from looking like Tom Cruise to the Elephant Man.

The events described above are told to us from prison. A police shrink (Kurt Russell) is evaluating David while he awaits a trial for murder. We know early on that he is supposed to have murdered someone, but for the first two thirds of the film, we are not sure exactly who. Until we learn more about this murder, it is fairly easy to take the narrative at face value. But when the shrink starts dragging more memories out of the reluctant David, we discover that not all of what we have seen makes sense.

vanillaThe last third of the film completely falls apart. We are shown more and more about what led David to be charged with murder, but there is no logical way to piece together the narrative. When the story started winding around itself like a boa constrictor, I held out hope that we were supposed to puzzle out the solution to the contradictions. We hope to get inside David’s head before the shrink does, but it’s not that simple. In fact, there’s no way to solve the puzzle. I am not going to reveal the film’s explanation for the contrarian nature of the plot. Audiences love to solve mysteries and draw their own conclusions, but in this film, the solution is given to you in the last half hour and the choice to interpret the events is yanked away.

Filmmakers love it when people walk out of the theater discussing their perspectives on the story, but after this film, you have nothing to do but scratch your head. We are forcibly pushed out of the film; when you don’t know who is real and what really happened, how are you supposed to care about the fate of the characters? While Cruise is effective as the former playboy tortured by the hand of fate, he plays at a strong disadvantage. For about a third of his screen time, he wears an amazing, award-worthy prosthetic face that transforms his million-dollar mug into a hideous, lopsided pile of skin and bone. For another third of the film, he wears a skin-tone therapeutic mask, which transforms him into a short, limping, well-dressed mannequin. The problem is, we only get to see any of his face for the scenes when he is untroubled and content- when he really gets to sink his teeth into meaty material, we can’t see it.

Penélope Cruz is the Hype of the Year. All she has to do here is talk sweet nothings with a Spanish accent, bat her fifty-yard eyelashes at Cruise, and her freckles are supposed to win me over? There’s nothing happening there. Cameron Diaz, however, is fabulous as the jilted lover on the verge of mental collapse. Diaz plays the quiet desperation and ragged edge of sanity with subtlety and aplomb. Given the chance to shine in a brief but complex role, it’s nice to see her rise to the occasion.

Something about the original 1997 Spanish film Abre Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes) clearly drew Crowe and Cruise to this project. You have to respect them for attempting such an experiment. But that doesn’t mean you have to enjoy watching it. (Loews Boston Common)

December 9, 2001

Ocean's Eleven

It's all too rare that a film packed with big stars is any fun. When major studios put A-List, $20 million talent onscreen together, they don't want to take any chances on the movie- there’s so much money at stake, the final product is boring, but safe. The good news about Ocean's Eleven is that a studio did not put these stars onscreen together- Steven Soderbergh did. Since making a big splash with his debut Sex, Lies, and Videotape in 1989, Soderbergh has earned the respect of actors with smart, classy, and sophisticated projects like Out Of Sight and The Limey. With the one-two punch of Erin Brockovich and Traffic in 2000, major studios are now willing to trust him with big budgets. However, the studio’s bankroll didn’t get all these names on the marquee- Soderbergh did, and he did it at a bargain.

oceansSoderbergh set out to make a fun, popcorn flick involving a casino heist, in the spirit of the Frank Sinatra/Rat Pack movie of 1960. The new Ocean's Eleven stars George Clooney, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Brad Pitt, and Julia Roberts. Clooney, with Pitt, scheme to steal $160 million from Andy Garcia's casino. They enlist nine con men and hustlers to make it happen. The Eleven of the title pull off the heist, Mission: Impossible style- no guns, no violence. Hardly anyone even gets their hair mussed. There are plenty of kinks in the plan as we go along- but are they kinks or a part of the plan we're unaware of?

The great casting continues below the title, with Carl Reiner and Elliott Gould as old-school Vegas cronies looking for one last hand; Don Cheadle as the bomb expert, Bernie Mac as the inside man at the casino; plus Casey Affleck and Scott Caan as the bratty, feuding footsoldiers of the gang. Everyone took pay cuts to join in the fun, and it shows; the set must have felt like a class reunion as it seems everyone has worked together before. Soderbergh has directed Clooney, Roberts, and Cheadle before; Clooney worked with Cheadle in Out Of Sight; Affleck and Damon were in Good Will Hunting, and Gould was on Friends with Brad Pitt's then-wife.

You'd think with a big cast and a fast-moving story, that there wouldn’t be enough screen time for all the principals. With such a long list of stars, you might expect some bruised egos as some of the cast could get short shrift. However, Soderbergh does a nice job of giving everyone at least one scene to shine. For example, Cheadle (Traffic, Boogie Nights), in some ways, is barely in the movie. But he gets a few brief moments to be noticed which count for a lot. A few of the great moments: Pitt's first and last scenes begin with his character eating junk food. We just watch him eating nachos for 5-10 seconds. How he can look so cool and yet funny while eating nachos is beyond me. Clooney has a scene where he plays with his wedding band. His character is not aware he's doing it, but he fiddles with his ring finger while talking to his estranged wife, and it says more about his feelings that any dialogue can.

I had some problems with the Roberts/Clooney relationship. Clooney played a similar role as a thief in Out Of Sight and squeezed out sexy sparks opposite Jennifer Lopez, including a pivotal scene at a secluded table in a dark restaurant. In Ocean’s Eleven, Clooney and Roberts’ big scenes take place in a similar setting, and suffer by comparison. Without giving too much away, suffice it to say her character is supposed to harbor a grudge against Clooney. She does unleash some sharp jabs in their snappy dialogue. However, we need more romantic magnetism underneath to develop her character arc.

It’s rare when all the pieces come together for a fun and exciting film these days. Hollywood seems to have forgotten that movies can be thrilling without gunplay, explosions, and car chases. We can only hope that the rest of Hollywood follows Soderbergh’s example. This film is not genius, it's just first-class entertainment.

Rated PG-13 for language, and one brief scene with a strip show in the background (no nudity). Hardly any violence (a few punches are thrown); no gun violence. Hardly any smoking. Hardly sounds like a Vegas movie, does it? (With Dan, Beth, and Mike. Mike announced LL was expecting twins! Framingham Premium Cinema)

December 1, 2001

075: Baby, We're The Same

  1. "88 Lines About 44 Women" The Nails; from Mood Swing [1984]
  2. "People Who Died" Jim Carroll Band [1980]
  3. "Groom's Still Waiting At The Altar" Bob Dylan, from the Biograph box set
  4. "Change The Locks" performed by Lucinda Williams, later covered by Tom Petty.
  5. "Cinammon Girl" Neil Young & Crazy Horse; from Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere [1969]
  6. "Wicked Game" Chris Isaak
  7. "Easy" The Commodores [1977]
  8. "Slow Love" Prince; from Sign 'O The Times [1987]
  9. "If I Were You" (Single Version) k.d. lang [1995]
  10. "Could've Been Anyone" Aimee Mann; from Whatever [1993]
  11. "We're The Same" Matthew Sweet; from 100% Fun [1995]
  12. "Lady In The Front Row" [1993] This one-hit wonder from Redd Kross reminds me of my year interning at WFNX in 1993-94.
  13. "No More No More" Aerosmith; from Toys In The Attic [1975]
  14. "Give It Everything" I think I found this Al Green song on a soundtrack CD, but I don't have the CD anymore.
  15. "Mr. Wendal" [1992] from 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of...Arrested Development
  16. "I Know" (single edit) Dionne Farris used to be in Arrested Development. This single (which reached #4 in 1994) is from her solo debut, Wild Seed Wild Flower.
  17. "I Found A Love" I found this song (written by Leon Russell), with an awesome drum solo, on Eric Clapton's Crossroads box set.
  18. "What Is Life" George Harrison had just passed away from cancer (after a lifetime of cigarette smoking) when I made this mix.

November 24, 2001

Spy Game

spyWell scripted, but empty spy thriller. (Showcase Cinemas Randolph with my parents)

November 18, 2001

Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's Stone

harryA punishingly literal and faithful staging of the entire contents of the first Harry Potter novel. Dan talked me into seeing this movie with him and Beth, although I had not read the book. We then spent our post-movie dinner arguing over how boring I found the movie. (Showcase Cinemas Lawrence)

EPILOGUE: I recently watched the second half of this movie on TV, and I yearn to make a Personalized Cut of the movie which knocks out 10-20 minutes of unnecessary crap. For example, when Harry catches the Snitch in his first Quiddich game, it takes at least 30 seconds from the moment he catches the Snitch before the scene ends. If this scene were in one of the sequels, like Prisoner of Azkaban or Goblet of Fire, the scene would have been over a millisecond after Harry touched the Snitch. Or, even better, the scene would be gone completely!

November 11, 2001

Heist

heistToo dark and violent to be enjoyable, plus I have learned to loathe David Mamet screenplays. plus plus I hate Rebecca Pidgeon. Plus plus plus, the "bomb on the passenger jet" hoax turned the entire crowd off, two months after 9/11... (Showcase Cinemas Randolph)

November 4, 2001

Monsters, Inc.

monstersMike: Sulley, you're not supposed to name it. Once you name it, you start getting attached to it. Now put that thing back where it came from or so help me...[Mike pauses, realizing that they suddenly have the attention of the entire scare floor]
Mike: Oh, hey. We're rehearsing a... a scene for the upcoming company play called uh, Put That Thing Back Where It Came From Or So Help Me. It's a musical! [singing] "Put that thing back where it came from or so help me... so help me, so help me..." and... cut. We're still working on it, it's a work in progress but, hey, we need ushers? (November 4th and December 1st, Showcase Cinemas Randolph)

November 3, 2001

K-Pax

kpaxSo-so. Kevin Spacey has gone downhill since the one-two punch of L.A. Confidential and The Usual Suspects. I'd like to think I would not have gone to see this below-average drama if Dan and Beth hadn't talked me into it...at Showcase Cinemas Lawrence.

October 21, 2001

The Odd Couple

Still as fresh as the playing cards (after Felix cleans them). (Brattle Theater)

October 14, 2001

073: I'm Feeling Good...For Now.

Mis-labeled "74".
  1. Better Than Nothing Jennifer Trynin
  2. Here We Go Again Everclear
  3. 5-Piece Chicken Dinner, and
  4. Looking Down The Barrel Of A Gun- Beastie Boys
  5. Personal Jesus (7" Version) Depeche Mode
  6. Why Don't We Do It In The Road? An out-there cover by Lydia Lunch. This is the only Beatles cover I have ever heard which includes a sample of the original Beatles song! There's some car-crash sound effects too...
  7. Blind Talking Heads
  8. You're All I've Got Tonight The Cars
  9. I Love Every Little Thing About You Stevie Wonder
  10. Somebody To Love Queen
  11. Down the Line Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (This is a very odd, rare track from Tom Petty's box set. The production has a very slick soulful R&B flair.)
  12. Darling Lorraine Paul Simon
  13. Wishlist Pearl Jam
  14. Be Mine R.E.M.
  15. Winona Matthew Sweet
  16. 32 Flavors Ani DiFranco
  17. Silver Springs Fleetwood Mac (The original 1976 B-side, not the performance from the live reunion album.)
  18. Northern Sky Nick Drake
  19. Crossroads Tracy Chapman

October 6, 2001

Serendipity

serendipityJohn Cusack's most forced romantic comedy. I don't find Kate Beckinsale to be convincing as a romantic lead. She also needs to dial back the dieting- she is distractingly thin! This movie marks the spot where Cusack got bored with rom-coms.

September 8, 2001

Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back

jayThe biggest "personal nudge-nudge in-joke" movie since Tim Burton pleased only himself with Mars Attacks. Kevin Smith and his collaborators don't seem to care if most moviegoers won't get it. I always found it puzzling that Kevin Smith, whose greatest talent is writing great dialog, always casts himself as a man who does not have any dialog, and performs opposite Jason Mewes, who cannot act, and gets stupid dialog anyway? How did these two become so interesting? Jason Mewes is a drug addict who spouts bull***t seemingly at random, and Kevin Smith waggles his eyebrows. This is the equivalent of replacing The Empire Strikes Back with 104 minutes of C-3P0 and R2-D2.

September 1, 2001

072: Brevity Is The Soul Of Wit

"All Songs Three Minutes Or Less...Guaranteed!"
This is a good mix to listen to in the car if you're taking lots of short trips! I had made similar "short song" cassettes in the past: Mixes 21 and 32 were very similar. To make it slighly more interesting, I mostly excluded 1950s & 1960s pop songs that are almost all under three minutes anyway!
  1. [Untitled Instrumental] Bo Diddley
  2. "One Week" Barenaked Ladies
  3. "In God's Country" U2
  4. "Get Up" (Live) R.E.M.
  5. "Tears Of A Clown" The English Beat
  6. "Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard" Paul Simon
  7. "Second Hand News" [alt mix] Fleetwood Mac
  8. "Waterloo" ABBA
  9. "The Apartment Song" [demo] Tom Petty & Stevie Nicks
  10. "Let My Love Open The Door" Pete Townshend
  11. "Is That Love" Squeeze
  12. "Crazy Love" Van Morrison
  13. "Time Wounds All Heels" Nick Lowe
  14. "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes" Elvis Costello
  15. "She's Too Good For Me" Sting
  16. "I Fought The Law" The Clash
  17. "When I Come Around" Green Day
  18. "War" (live at the Los Angeles Coliseum) Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
  19. "Supernova" Liz Phair
  20. "Sunshine" Paul Westerberg
  21. "Come To California" (demo) Matthew Sweet
  22. "Blood Makes Noise" Suzanne Vega
  23. "Someone Keeps Moving My Chair" They Might Be Giants
  24. "In Between Days" The Cure
  25. "The Break" Soul Asylum
  26. "The Great Big No" The Lemonheads
  27. "Stop Your Sobbing" The Pretenders
  28. "Something So Strong" Crowded House
  29. "Groove Holmes" The Beastie Boys
(My typical mix on an 80 minute CD-R will hold about 20 songs.)
I goofed around with Photoshop to extend the checkerboard tile floor
behind Evan Dando to fill the rest of the background of the CD tray insert.

August 19, 2001

Apocalypse Now Redux

apocalypseAn amazing movie. I was never a big fan, but it is still impressive. This "director's cut" (aka Redux) included additional scenes, specifically a long talky scene at a French plantation which attempts to put the Vietnam war in some broader political and historical context. Also, there were no opening credits, and maybe no closing credits either? We were given a pre-printed cast and crew credit sheet at the door. (With Kevin at Boston Common Cinemas)

August 16, 2001

071 The Great Compromise

  1. Elvis Costello & The Brodsky Quartet: "Jacksons, Monk, and Rowe"
  2. The Rutles: "Another Day" Despite sharing a title with a Wings song, this Beatles parody is a spot-on goof on "Martha My Dear".
  3. World Party: "When You Come Back to Me" from Reality Bites
  4. Billy Joel & Cyndi Lauper: "Code Of Silence"
  5. John Hiatt: "Cry Love"
  6. Van Morrison: "Call Me Up In Dreamland"
  7. Bruce Springsteen: "Spirit In The Night"
  8. R.E.M.: "Nightswimming"
  9. The Wallflowers: "Three Marlenas"
  10. Bob Dylan: "Positively 4th Street"
  11. Roxy Music: "End of the Line"
  12. John Mellencamp: "Your Life Is Now"
  13. "You Make Me Feel" --> "Afternoons & Coffeespoons" I really wanted the Jeremy Toback song to slam into the Crash Test Dummies, so I edited them together.
  14. The Rolling Stones & Dave Matthews: "Memory Motel" [live]
  15. Electric Light Orchestra: "Can't Get It Out Of My Head"
  16. Sarah McLachlan: "Ol' 55"
  17. Stevie Wonder: "I Believe When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever" [High Fidelity edit]
Created 8-16-01; Burned 9-8-01

August 13, 2001

The Others

othersCreepy. Once again, a scary movie with no special effects needed. I thought I had the "twist" ending figured out, but I was fooled after all. I love when that happens!

August 10, 2001

The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai: Across The 8th Dimension

taobbatedA favorite adventure comedy movie from my childhood. It's impossible to describe its appeal to someone who did not grow up with this one, but here goes: A "Who's Who" of classic character actors (John Lithgow, Christopher Lloyd, Dan Hedaya, Vincent Schiavelli); A Scientist/Rock Star/Brain Surgeon/Adventurer named Buckaroo Banzai, a comic-book hero which Peter Weller takes completely seriously; delightful 1980s fashions; and Jeff Goldblum in a cowboy suit + chaps. Who could ask for anything more? (Brattle Theater)

August 3, 2001

America's Sweethearts

americasWith the talent involved, it should have been much funnier. I don't really buy John Cusack as the star, and Julia Roberts as a personal assistant? Usually the star (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is so gorgeous and other-worldly, that their assistants look like trolls by comparison. Julia Roberts is not my favorite movie star, but she's no troll! Perhaps Hollywood stars have been satirized in movies far to often to offer any freshness in 2001? I found the Hollywood self-parodies in For Your Consideration lacking the same freshness. (Loews Boston Common)

August 1, 2001

Jurassic Park III

jurassic3A bunch of talented actors who should know better, cashing in. (Showcase Cinemas Randolph)

July 27, 2001

070 Constant Forward Motion

  1. Jane's Addiction "Stop!"
  2. The Breeders "I Just Want To Get Along"
  3. Pearl Jam "Glorified G"
  4. Dave Matthews Band "Too Much"
  5. The Who "Magic Bus" [live at Leeds 2/14/70]
  6. The Beatles "Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me and My Monkey"
  7. Alice In Chains "Would?"
  8. The Presidents of the United States of America "Lump"
  9. Barenaked Ladies "Shoebox"
  10. Stevie Wonder "Superstition"
  11. The Police "Canary In A Coalmine"
  12. XTC "Generals and Majors"
  13. Meat Puppets "Sam"
  14. US3 "Cantaloop"
  15. Beastie Boys "Sure Shot"
  16. Soho "Hippy Chick" [remix]
  17. Eric Clapton "Motherless Child"
  18. Republica "Ready To Go"
  19. U2 "Beautiful Day"

July 16, 2001

It Happened One Night & Sullivan's Travels (double feature)

It Happened One Night is a timeless "road trip" comedy. Thank God they haven't (literally) remade it! In the second half of this double-feature, Sullivan's Travels: I am not a big fan of "wrongly imprisoned" stories, so Sullivan rubbed me the wrong way. I left about halfway through. (Brattle Theater)

July 8, 2001

Sexy Beast

sexyFabulous performance by Ben Kingsley. However, I missed half the dialog in the heavy English accents. (Loews Church St, Harvard Sq.)

July 4, 2001

069 The Williams Sisters

Lucinda, Dar, and Other Songs

This mix starts super-strong, and ends with a whimper. 
  1. Michael Penn "Try"
  2. Soundgarden "Black Hole Sun"
  3. The Church "Under The Milky Way"
  4. Eric Clapton "Lonely Stranger" [unplugged]
  5. Lucinda Williams "Lonely Girls"
  6. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers "Angel Dream [no 4]"
  7. The Lemonheads "The Outdoor Type"
  8. Dar Williams "As Cool As I Am"
  9. Violent Femmes "Please Do Not Go"
  10. Jeff Lynne "Nobody Home"
  11. The Beatles "No Reply"
  12. Morphine "Gone For Good"
  13. Pretenders "My Baby"
  14. Peter Gabriel "Come Talk To Me" [Bob Clearmountain remix]
  15. Neneh Cherry feat. Michael Stipe "Trout"
  16. Cranberries "Twenty-One"
  17. 10,000 Maniacs "Gold Rush Brides"
  18. Mazzy Star "Fade Into You"
  19. Bob Dylan "Tangled Up In Blue" Alternate version from The Bootleg Series

July 2, 2001

The Anniversary Party

anniversaryJennifer Jason Leigh and Alan Cumming write and direct a de facto home movie about a bunch of Hollywood industry types and their informal party in the hills. Lots of "oh this must be what movie stars are like when no one's watching" moments, but then they take Ecstasy, souls get bared, resentments boil over- a dark mess. It is kinda surreal to see Kevin Kline & Phoebe Cates & their kids play fictional versions of themselves. (Kendall Square Cinema)

July 1, 2001

057 Something In The Air

I think I put Dar Williams on three mix CDs in a row in this era, and Lucinda Williams is on two of those as well! Then I ran out of Dar Williams songs I knew, and I haven't used her music on a mix since. This photo, taken through a rainy picture window, is from the inner sleeve art of R.E.M.'s Out Of Time, I think. R.E.M. famously never used a photo of the band on any of their album covers, so I take perverse pleasure in forcing them to appear on my mix CD covers!

  1. "Something In The Air" ⇔ Thunderclap Newman
  2. "Subcity" ⇔ Tracy Chapman
  3. "World Leader Pretend" (live) ⇔ R.E.M.
  4. "All The Young Dudes" ⇔ Mott the Hoople
  5. "Doctor My Eyes" ⇔ Jackson Browne
  6. "Einstein on a Beach (for an eggman)"  ⇔ Counting Crows
  7. "Anywhere But Here" ⇔ k.d. lang
  8. "Simple Kind Of Life" ⇔ No Doubt
  9. "Whip-Smart" (Remix) ⇔ Liz Phair
  10. "What Do You Love More Than Love?" ⇔ Dar Williams
  11. "Crazy for this Girl" ⇔ Evan & Jaron the poor sampling rate on the MP3 of this one-hit wonder reveals this mix to originate from the Napster era of the turn of the millennium.
  12. "Found Out About You" ⇔ Gin Blossoms
  13. "If Love Was A Train" ⇔ Michelle Shocked
  14. "Natural Blues" ⇔ Moby
  15. "Essence" ⇔ Lucinda Williams
  16. "Waiting on a Friend" ⇔ The Rolling Stones
  17. "When You Say Nothing At All" ⇔ Alison Krauss
  18. "So Bad" ⇔ Paul McCartney
  19. "Shape Of My Heart" ⇔ Sting


June 30, 2001

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence

aiThe post-millenia coda ruins the whole film. Why does Steve have to make every movie about children with absent parents? (Showcase Cinemas Randolph)

June 23, 2001

Monty Python & The Holy Grail

Much funnier in the theater than on home video. Watching it with a crowd makes a big difference. (Kendall Square Cinema)

June 15, 2001

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

laraLike an Indiana Jones film, but it takes itself too seriously. To play the computer game character, who has ludicrously oversized, gravity-defying, unnaturally spherical breasts, Angelina Jolie's boobs are artificially boosted- not as ludicrous as the real Lara Croft, but in the same boobular spirit as the videogame character.

June 11, 2001

068 It's A Swing Thing, Baby!

  1. They Might Be Giants "Extra Savoir Faire"
  2. The Beatles "Honey Pie"
  3. Sting "Nice Work If You Can Get It"
  4. Barenaked Ladies "Hello City"
  5. Joe Jackson "Jumpin Jive"
  6. Pete Townshend "Face the Face"
  7. Brian Setzer Orchestra "Jump, Jive and Wail"
  8. Sheena Easton "Strut"
  9. The Rolling Stones "She's A Rainbow"
  10. Joan Osbourne "St. Teresa"
  11. Traveling Wilburys "Heading for the Light"
  12. John Wesley Harding "The Person You Are"
  13. Edie Brickell & New Bohemians "Love Like We Do"
  14. The Replacements "Kiss Me On The Bus"
  15. Wilco "Box Full of Letters"
  16. Jon Svetkey "Dead End Streets"
  17. Bruce Hornsby & The Range "The Valley Road"
  18. Warren Zevon "Excitable Boy"
  19. The Small Faces "Stay With Me"
  20. "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" --> "Jack Ass" The Beck song samples the Van Morrison song, so I cross-faded them together.
Created June 4, 2001; Burned June 11.

June 7, 2001

The Tailor of Panama

tailorNot bad, but not wonderful either: Pierce Brosnan does the flipside of James Bond, to comedic effect, much like he would later in The Matador. Jamie Lee Curtis still looks great. I may have been hallucinating when I saw Brendan Gleeson playing a Panamanian?

June 2, 2001

067: UNusual Suspects

The title Unusual Suspects refers to my effort to populate this mix with artists I don't normally (or ever) include in mixes. The cover features singer Tracy Bonham. I had to do a major edit to Track 10, "Midnight Voyage", because the song, as featured on my Sixteen Greatest Hits CD, includes an extended breakdown in the middle, where the singers work out the harmonies. Track 12, "Chinese Firedrill", is from an odd solo CD from Minutemen lead singer Mike Watt: Ball-Hog or Tugboat? is like a "Mike's friends who are Alt-Rock Stars" variety show:
These included fellow SST Records alumni like former Black Flag vocalist Henry Rollins, members of Sonic Youth, Curt and Cris Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets, Dinosaur Jr's J Mascis, Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, Nirvana's Pat Smear, Krist Novoselic, and Dave Grohl, Jane's Addiction and Porno for Pyros drummer Stephen Perkins, Red Hot Chili Peppers's Flea, Soul Asylum's Dave Pirner, former Pixies singer Frank Black, The Lemonheads frontman Evan Dando, and Mike D and Adam Horowitz of the Beastie Boys.
  1. Sinead O'Connor: The Emperor's New Clothes
  2. Tracy Bonham: Second Wind
  3. Pearl Jam: Nothingman
  4. Dire Straits: I included "Brothers In Arms" due to it's inclusion in the West Wing TV show season finale.
  5. The Smiths: Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want
  6. Nick Drake: Cello Song
  7. Caetano Veloso: O Leaozinho
  8. Ben Folds Five: Selfless, Cold, and Composed
  9. Extreme: More Than Words
  10. The Mamas & Papas: Midnight Voyage [edit]
  11. World Party: Is It Like Today?
  12. Mike Watt featuring Frank Black: Chinese Firedrill
  13. Prince: 4 The Tears In Your Eyes
  14. Duran Duran: Save A Prayer
  15. Hall & Oates: One on One
  16. Oasis: Champagne Supernova
  17. The Black Crowes: Thorn In My Pride

June 1, 2001

Moulin Rouge!

moulinIt's joyous to watch characters use the entire breadth of popular music to express themselves: there are no borders between "The Sound of Music" and "Your Song" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit" here. I did find it kind of silly that Nicole Kidman has tuberculosis, a terrible respitory illness, yet the only symptom she suffered was an occasional discreet bloody cough into a hanky. (AMC Fenway)

May 25, 2001

Pearl Harbor

pearlI want my three hours back! The tearful farewell scene, where Ben Affleck's character catches a train from NYC to London was hilarious. (Showcase Cinemas Randolph)

Also On Memorial Day, Through The Years

I have been to the movies on Memorial Day Monday 13 times in 24 years, but it's not a great track record. 



May 22, 2001

The Golden Bowl

goldenDull. I actually left early because I was so bored, and I never do that! Don't worry- I stuck around long enough to see Uma's sex scene. (Loews Church St, Harvard Sq.)

May 20, 2001

066 Not Too Soon, Too Late To Tell

  1. "Daughter" Pearl Jam
  2. "Atlantic City" Bruce Springsteen
  3. "Coming Up From Behind" I never need to hear Marcy Playground's one hit, the Gen X, grunge-slacker corporate rock cash-in "Sex and Candy" ever again. However, I liked this song from the first time I heard it, on the soundtrack to the movie Cruel Intentions.
  4. "Kate" Ben Folds Five
  5. "Night In My Veins" Pretenders
  6. "Falling for the First Time" Barenaked Ladies
  7. "Never Let You Go" As far as mid-90s pop-alt-rockers go, Third Eye Blind is better than, say, Smash Mouth, Sugar Ray, and Marcy Playground. This is my favorite song of theirs, probably because of the New Wave flourishes.
  8. "Not Too Soon" This Throwing Muses song always reminds me of the nine months I dated Kathy Belbin in 1991-92. She got me into Depeche Mode, The Cure, and New Order too.
  9. "Gee Angel" Sugar
  10. "Interstate Love Song" I also appreciated Stone Temple Pilots appropriation of grunge, when in fact they appeared to be more of a glam-rock band at heart.
  11. "Sexual Healing" Marvin Gaye
  12. "Fools In Love" Joe Jackson
  13. "People Get Ready" Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions
  14. "Windmills of Your Mind" Sting. I think this was on the soundtrack of the Thomas Crown Affair remake? It makes me think of Rene Russo topless, so that must be it.
  15. "Can't Do A Thing (To Stop Me)" I met Chris Isaak in 1995 and he is even more handsome in real life.
  16. "Live To Tell" One of my top 5 Madonna songs.
  17. "All Apologies" Ditto for Nirvana.
  18. "He Moved Through The Fair" -> "Big Time Sensuality" [Moby remix] The last note of the Sinead O'Connor a capella song (from the Michael Collins soundtrack) cross-faded into the Bjork remix.

Created May 16; burned May 20, 2001

May 18, 2001

Shrek

shrekI remember watching the opening sequence, where Shrek narrates from a fairy tale, then rips a page out, and (presumably) wipes his butt with it. Then the opening titles begin, set to a Sugar Ray pop song. I thought to myself, this is so unlike Disney, it's wonderful. It made the House of Mouse look like a bunch of musty old farts. (May 18th and June 2nd, Showcase Cinemas Randolph)

May 17, 2001

065 Old, Crazy & Stupid

  1. "Sick of Myself" My favorite Matthew Sweet song.
  2. "Chemistry" I like this song and love the production on this Semisonic song.
  3. "Imitation of Life" If I had a time machine, I would go back to 1992 and tell past Nat to stop buying R.E.M. CDs after Automatic for the People. As history shows, I kept paying out for four more albums, and some CD singles too, until Reveal (2001), which was enough for me to finally learn my lesson.
  4. "Love & Happiness" Al Green
  5. "This Time" Los Lobos
  6. "Safety In Numbers" Joan Osbourne
  7. "A Girl Like You" Edwyn Collins
  8. "Cuts You Up" I put Collins and Peter Murphy together because "A Girl Like You" (from a late-90s slacker movie I can't remember...Empire Records maybe?) reminds me of Peter Murphy.
  9. "Mint Car" --> "Mother Mother" The Cure song ends on the same note as the Tracy Bonham song begins, so I cross-faded them together. I don't remember how I discovered this.
  10. "Rudie Can't Fail" The Clash
  11. "The Tide Is High" Blondie is one of those bands that I have never liked. This song is okay.
  12.  "Genius Of Love" Tom Tom Club
  13. "Marching Through The Wilderness" David Byrne
  14. "Old" Paul Simon's album You're The One is unfairly overlooked. Some great songs on there.
  15. "Crazy" Alana Davis
  16. "Stupid Girl" Garbage
  17. "Here Comes Your Man" The Pixies