August 31, 2015

153 Froghorn

"What's tall and green and loud and hops?"
  1. "The Electric Co." I finally saw U2 for the first time in July (see photo) and this was their opening song. I subsequently listened to Boy all the way through. I appreciate their early mix of punk energy and New Wave romanticism.
  2. "A-Punk" Vampire Weekend more fast-paced guitar rock.
  3. "Lovers Jamboree" Nick Lowe I'm going to put a Nick Lowe or Dave Edmunds song on every playlist until my head explodes.
  4. "Hey Hey" [unplugged] Eric Clapton I think I listened to this CD every day in 1993.
  5. "Budapest" George Ezra I am fascinated by this song- it's half folk/blues mellowness, but also the singing has a Roy Orbison/Elvis Presley vibe. I carefully picked the songs before and after "Budapest" in order to best frame that dichotomy.
  6. "(Marie's The Name Of) His Latest Flame" Elvis Presley this Top Ten hit single, with its strident acoustic guitar riff, seemed a good fit.
  7. "My Love Will Not Let You Down" This Bruce Springsteen tune from the Born In The U.S.A. sessions is prominently featured in the film Rikki & The Flash. (From the 1972-1992 Tracks box set, )
  8. "There Goes Another Love Song" The Outlaws I've been going heavy on the 1970s rock lately, especially focusing on bands who I have overlooked in the past.
  9. "Abracadabra (Have You Seen Her?)" Blue Ash: a one-hit Power Pop wonder.
  10. "Ruby" Kaiser Chiefs yes I am being too clever with these three songs...
  11. "Ruby Baby" The Drifters (I almost picked the Donald Fagen cover for track 11)
  12. "Baby" Brandy ...but it isn't too clever if it still works!
  13. "I Love You" Climax Blues Band another 70s band I never noticed when I was becoming a rock and roll fan.
  14. "Find Your Way Back" Jefferson Starship a tremendously uncool song. Another song from this LP was played at a Sox game this summer, which inspired me to track this one down.
  15. "Feeling That Way" A good Journey song that didn't make it onto the Greatest Hits CD.
  16. "Bargain" The Who I think I listened to the Who's Next cassette (that I stole from a stranger's house party) every day in 1990.
  17. "Impossible Germany" I just bought the Wilco tour documentary DVD Ashes of American Flags; with my purchase I was granted a license to download the MP3s of the concert performances. A sweet bonus!
  18. "Here Comes My Girl" [Live] Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers from the Tom Petty Live Anthology
  19. "How Does It Feel To Be Back" I am getting into the Daryl Hall & John Oates deep album cuts, including this track with John Oates on lead vocals.
  20. "Don't Dream It's Over" Crowded House I love this song, but I didn't quite stick the landing on this playlist.
  21. "Jamaican Rock" Monty Norman; one of the Jamaican songs from the soundtrack album to the James Bond movie Dr. No.

August 13, 2015

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

Truly awful. Peter Jackson has lost sight of what made his Lord of the Rings movies so magical, and has become bogged down in battles for their own sake with no emotional dimension...and no connection with the Tolkien stories.
Smaug the dragon dies 12 minutes into this three-hour beast.  The remainder of the movie is devoted to the five armies of the title crashing into each other in a CGI mishmash. Jackson has invented all of the villains and monster characters in this movie, and scores of Laketown humans, and the Tauriel love triangle. The 'return of Sauron' arc which stretches across all three Hobbit movies has also been invented in an attempt to more fully prequel-ize these films. Yes, the novel has a battle for the elf mountain at the end of the book, but this is like taking a child's tee shirt, ripping open the seams, and sewing in massive panels of new fabric to fit a 300 pound man. The tag may still say "3T" but it's not for a toddler anymore. Much more than Hobbit 1 and Hobbit 2, Battle of the Five Armies has been bloated to justify a third feature film, when a very pleasant family adventure could have been produced for the entire novel in three hours or less.
As a devout fan of the Lord of the Rings movies - I own all three theatrical and extended editions on DVD - I was shocked to find myself fingering the Stop button halfway through this movie. There's only so many ways you can battle Orcs before I've seen it all. On this blog I called An Unexpected Journey "Very good but flabby" and when reviewing Desolation of Smaug, conceded I was ready for the movie to be over after two hours, but this third installment never had me in the first place.

August 12, 2015

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

I watched a five-quel and a six-quel this week:
Rogue Nation is another quality thriller from the Tom Cruise Consistency Machine. Jack Reacher was a little bit fascist, Oblivion was derivative, and Knight & Day didn't make a lick of sense, but the word I'd use to describe his average action thriller is dependable. The action scenes are airtight, if sometimes too unbelievable (no one can hold their breath that long.) The riverside cafe confrontation, and the final chase/battle across the streets of London were the cleverest part of the movie.
  • Rebecca Ferguson is terrific as a double agent...or is she a triple agent? She's practically the co-lead of the movie - she has much more to do than Jeremy Renner - and thankfully, her romance with Tom Cruise is kept to a minimum.
  • Simon Pegg has been promoted to third banana, and his character has a dramatic arc!
  • Jeremy Renner has nothing to do in this movie except let the plot points pivot around him. He has no action scenes, he's turned into a boring boss!
  • Ving Rhames is also only in half the movie, but he looks damn fine in his caramel brown jacket + hat...
  • Alec Baldwin is the director of the CIA, which is a nice touch for the original Jack Ryan. I wish his character were slightly more clever and slightly less a political animal. It would be possible to make his character as clever as Ethan Hunt, but always two steps behind. As it is, I was disappointed watching his character slowly connect the dots.
My two major gripes- the villain was creepy looking but his plans were boring, and Ethan Hunt's motivations for his impossible plans seem more reckless and illogical than ever. I have to agree with the Senate panel at the beginning of the movie that believes most of the IMFs success is due more to luck than talent.


August 8, 2015

Shaun The Sheep Movie

A big surprising disappointment. The animated children's show is easily the best and most enjoyable kids show I watch with my son: from the Aardman team that created Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run, each Shaun The Sheep story is 6-8 minutes long, with no dialog, featuring the adventures of a flock of misbehaving sheep and their clueless owner on his little farm in the English countryside. How did they go wrong? They strayed from the formula that made Shaun The Sheep so endearing- the farmer gets amnesia and moves to London, and the flock goes to the big city to find him and rescue him. As a result, all the characters are removed from the farm for most of the movie, and the sheep are separated from the farmer for almost the whole thing. Don't mess with success, I say. I am amazed that a show that my son and I have enjoyed for many years was adapted into a movie that my son didn't like all that much and he hasn't asked to see it again. Oh well. Stub Hubby grade: C