May 28, 2015

My Barenaked Ladies Phase

Between 1999 and 2003, I placed
eleven different Barenaked Ladies
songs on twelve mix CDs. It was an
intense but short-lived affair: I saw
BNL live in concert twice, and even
had a BNL sticker on my car bumper.
The turn of the century was a exciting
time to be ALIVE! I suppose this list
makes a de facto Nat's Best Of BNL?

Saving Mister Banks

Amazon Instant Video Presents: Saving Mister Banks
An niche curiosity, I can only recommend Saving Mr. Banks to Disney fans in general and lovers of Mary Poppins in particular.
London 1962: P.L. Travers, the author of the Mary Poppins book series, is forced to finally unpack and come to terms with her long repressed childhood trauma (which serves as the inspiration for the Banks family of her books) when she consults with Walt Disney's creative team on the 1964 film adaptation.
Travers' travails in sunny Anaheim are intercut with the sad tale of her suicidal mother and alcoholic father. You don't need to be a psych major to notice the strong Electra complex in the relationship between the pre-adolescent daughter and the free spirited drunk dad who encourages and inspires her imagination.
The adaptation process is extremely rocky: the creative team is literally adapting her book, but for Mrs. Travers, they're adapting her own childhood.
It's not clear why Travers is so reluctant to grant Disney any creative license with her book- she seems to be both fully aware of the parallels between her childhood and the fictional book, and at the same time, struggling to make the connections between her life and her work. Emma Thompson does her best with a character that barely moves from Point A to Point B until the very end of the movie, and Tom Hanks is strong as a nice but also powerful and demanding leader.
The intercutting between Australia 1904 and Anaheim 1962 is developed with care at first, but eventually the stories switch back and forth without much design.

Director John Lee Hancock has made a careful and conservative movie without much inspiration or creativity. As the movie lies at the heart of the Disney mystique, I am sure that suits his Mouse House producers just fine. My Stub Hubby Grade: C-plus.

May 24, 2015

Guys Movie Night: MAD MAX - FURY ROAD

Patton Oswalt believes every sci fi nerd can be sorted into one of three classes: Zombie, Spaceship, or Wasteland. I am a strong dominant Spaceship nerd, but I appreciate a Wasteland story that explores a post-civilization world. I am a fan of the first three Mad Max movies, but I haven't seen them 100 times or anything like that. The Mad Max films are characterized by their terrific action sequences (although I don't remember any car chases in Beyond Thunderdome), totally insane production design, and a unique vision of the post-apocalyptic society.
Director George Miller is a curiosity in feature filmmaking- his first three feature films are the original Mad Max (1979) and its two sequels The Road Warrior (aka Mad Max 2) in 1981, and Beyond Thunderdome (1985). In the following 30 years he directed the following feature films:
  • The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
  • Lorenzo's Oil (1992)
  • Babe: A Pig In The City - he produced the original Babe movie but did not direct it (1998)
  • Two Happy Feet movies (2006 & 2011)
  • ...and that's it.
I don't intend to turn this into a biography, but I wanted to give you some context before I exclaim that Miller has lost none of his flair for the post-apocalyptic; the long-germinating FURY ROAD is a crackerjack thrill ride with the same vision, finely tuned action sequences, and inventive imagery we'd hope for, cranked up to 1,000. I kept marveling over how thrilling, well-constructed, and inventive the movie was, when not doing double-takes at all the totally batshit images of this beyond-civilization world Miller's created.
My Stub Hubby Grade: A! (AMC Burlington with George, Yuval, Angus, and Pete)



May 9, 2015

151 Alles Klar, Herr Kommissar?

  1. "The Creator" ↔ Pete Rock & CL Smooth
  2. "Take A Walk" ↔ Passion Pit
  3. "Awaiting On You All" ↔ George Harrison
  4. "What You Need" ↔ INXS
  5. "Shotgun" ↔ Gerald Levert sings and Tom Scott plays lead saxophone on this track from Standing In The Shadows Of Motown
  6. "I'm Losing You" ↔ A demo/rehearsal recording from John Lennon backed by Cheap Trick!
  7. "I Remember California" (Green World Tour Live) ↔ R.E.M.
  8. "Selling The Drama" ↔ Live
  9. "How You've Grown" ↔ I heard this 10,000 Maniacs song in an episode of Community, and just telling my wife this made her laugh.
  10. "Racing In The Street" (live at the Meadowlands 1981) ↔ Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
  11. "Heaven Knows Your Name" ↔ Blackie & The Rodeo Kings
  12. "Sitting Still" ↔ Another R.E.M. song, this time covered by Matthew Sweet & Susannah Hoffs from Under The Covers Volume 3.
  13. "Gamble Everything for Love" ↔ Ben Lee
  14. "Oo-De-Lally" ↔ I heard a version of this song (which I assume is from the Disney Robin Hood movie?) in a TV commercial and went looking for it on iTunes, when I stumbled across the album Los Lobos Goes Disney, which I bought immediately.
  15. "Twilite Speedball" ↔ Mos Def
  16. "He Was Really Sayin' Somethin'" ↔ The Velvelettes
  17. "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb" ↔ Spoon from their album Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
  18. "Flexible" ↔ Depeche Mode
  19. "Major Tom (Coming Home)" ↔ Peter Schilling; When I was a kid in the early 1980s I used to confuse/conflate/combine "Major Tom (Coming Home)" and "Der Kommissar" in my head.
  20. "Der Kommissar" ↔ After The Fire; They don't sound similar, unless singing with a German accent counts.