January 16, 2015


There is no normal life for the ultra rich. What happens when you're raised in a universe where no human relationship is not tainted with unlimited wealth?
Steve Carell's John du Pont is a pathetic, creepy, and terrifying character.
Born and raised without attachment to other people and denied simple friendship and affection between human beings, John du Pont is like one of those fish that live at the bottom of the sea. His entire persona is malformed by his environment. All he wants is for his mother to respect him and for genuine kindness from his fellow man, but he's utterly incapable of connecting with anyone, and he lives in a world where his unlimited wealth insulates him from honest human relationships.

What an incredible performance from Steve Carell. I have seen him act in 138 episodes of The Office and a handful of movies, but none of that is onscreen in this movie. Not only is John du Pont a radically different man than any he's played before; it's as if Carell has put aside his toolbox and has opened a whole new toolbox for this performance. He's spellbinding. Not a false moment in the whole thing.
Landmark Embassy Cinema, with Adam

January 1, 2015

150 Pretzelvania

This playlist is named for the punchline of a joke my son made! I finished this mix around the end of the year. Sometimes you don't know you're not going to futz with a playlist anymore until long after you last futzed.
By weird coincidence, this playlist shares two songs* with a CD mix of mine from 13 years ago: Idolatrous
  1. "All Down The Line" The Rolling Stones are one of those bands where I'm not always 100% sure which guitarist is playing which parts. I appreciate that Keith has a distinct style, but I'm not always certain.
  2. "Gardening At Night" (Different Vocal Mix) I used to think R.E.M. drummer Bill Berry was the most boring drummer of any band I really liked, but my taste has evolved over the last few years, and I appreciate him much more than I used to.
  3. "Fix This" The Colourist
  4. "Crosseyed And Painless" Talking Heads live, from Stop Making Sense.
  5. "The Love You Love" The Walkmen
  6. "What's The World Got In Store" Wilco
  7. "Junior's Farm" Steve Miller and Paul McCartney have been buddies for a long time, so it makes great sense for Miller to sing a Wings song from the same era (and style) as those classic Steve Miller Band songs.
  8. "Alex Chilton" (outtake)* The Replacements
  9. "Shake Some Action" The Flamin' Groovies; I think I first heard this song when Cracker covered it?
  10. "When The Levee Breaks" Led Zeppelin; I bought myself the remastered Led Zeppelin IV for myself for Christmas.
  11. "Hide and Seek" Imogen Heap
  12. "Listen To What The Man Said" Owl City; I love it when a band covers a song from more than one generation earlier.
  13. "Even Better Than The Real Thing" U2
  14. "King For A Day" (Versailles Mix)* XTC
  15. "Sun Goze Down" Robin Loxley & Jay Hawke; heard on the TV broadcast of the Red Bull Signature Series super-cross racing event Romaniacs.
  16. "Congratulations" Traveling Wilburys; Bob Dylan singing a comically pathetic and passive-aggressive lament.
  17. "Slip Kid" From The Who By Numbers.
  18. "Cindy" Tammany Hall NYC; heard on the tv show Scrubs, I think.
  19. "My Little Drum" Vince Guaraldi Trio


or, the Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance

Birdman was excellent, fun, inventive, meaningful, and only a skosh self-important. Michael Keaton & Ed Norton are hilarious, Emma Stone was great.
Keaton is a aging movie star searching for relevance and definition by directing, financing, starring in, and adapting Raymond Carver for the Broadway stage. Can he keep his rickety play and incestuous cast together through previews until opening night?
Most of the movie takes place in real time, and no "cuts" from angle to angle or scene to scene. Far from being a gimmick for its own sake, it was easy to become immersed in the movie's style. I'm not sure if this style could work for any genre, it works great for a movie with only six principal actors that takes place in one building.

I also liked the percussion score- mostly performed on a drum kit, it works better than I expected. I would totally go see it again. What fun. My Stub Hubby Grade: A.
TRAILER NOTES: I didn't read the book, but the Fifty Shades Of Grey trailer is laugh-out-loud funny. The trailer makes the most ordinary sex play look so dangerous and forbidden. I've never used whips, blindfolds, or candlewax, or had a special sex dungeon in my penthouse, but this trailer made kinky sex between consenting adults look as debauched as cannibalism.

THEATER NOTES: The small Screen 2 at Embassy Waltham was sold out, and the crowd was mostly 50 and older, but thankfully remained completely silent throughout the movie. Actually it was kind of weird how silent it was. I laughed out loud a few times - not very loudly, but no one else was laughing!
Because I never listen to my instincts, I hung my eyeglasses on the front of my shirt during the trailers. I thought "this is not a smart place to put these" but did I listen? NO! ...and almost immediately they fell on the floor...but I didn't know it at the time. I figured it out two hours later, after the movie was over, while putting my hat on in the lobby. I rushed back into the theater, and voila, my glasses were sitting lenses-up on the floor under the seat in front of me, completely undamaged. Another moviegoer called out "that's a good sign for luck in the new year!" and I hope to remember that for all of 2015.