“After.Life” is as baffling as the period in its title.
“I’m not dead!” As signature lines in thrillers go, it’s not one that curdles the blood, at least not the over-emphatic way Christina Ricci delivers it as a dead girl in denial in “After.Life.” Perhaps first-time director Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo didn’t realize it’s also a memorable phrase from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” But her entire film feels like it was fostered by a limited sense of the movies. It’s about a young woman, Anna (Ricci), killed during a driving accident after an argument with her boyfriend (Justin Long). She awakens on the slab of a creepy mortician (Liam Neeson) who chides her when she complains of her circumstances. That’s right, Anna is still a whiny bitch, even though she’s dead. Or is she? “After.Life” is supposed to be a mind-blowing thriller, but it comes off more like someone’s rude parody of a conventional one.
“Stop!” by The Chain Gang of 1974 is a really good, verging on great, dose of jangling guitars and electronic beats – right up to the two minute and 30 second mark, where it breaks into truly great as another minute and a half of surging syth waves and a sublime female vocal sample roll in like good news.
Here’s a link to check out “Stop!” from TCGO’74’s forthcoming debut, “White Guts,” to be released April 27 on Golden Gold Records.
The band’s name conjures an image of several members, but there’s only one guy toiling here, Kamtin Mohager, whose efforts pretty much define what has come to be known as the chillwave or glo-fi movement – a mix of indie rock with processed sounds, all composed by one dude in what was more than likely a personal studio of some sort. Think bands like Washed Out, E and E, Blank Dogs and Wolf Gang, all of which preoccupy these pages lately. Mohager brings plenty of his own individual style, however, which is an indicative feature of what is becoming the genre du jour. Without a doubt we’ll be hearing a lot more about TCGO’74 soon.
“Hot Tub Time Machine” heats up with laughs, not sense.
Despite what your expectations might be, “Hot Tub Time Machine” doesn’t spend a lot of effort explaining the hot tub time machine concept, which whisks three middle-aged men back to the 1980s, right after an episode with a guy in a bear suit. Who needs explanations? The ’80s, if you recall, had plenty of time machines, from DeLoreans to telephone booths. A hot tub would appear to be the logical next step.
If you’re looking for a carefully executed and comprehensible plot you might want to party elsewhere, but “Hot Tub Time Machine” has its share of laughs. The movie is so unconcerned with details it feels edited by someone who was completely stoned. Read more…
“Clash of the Titans” is a Herculean mess.
Of course contemporary sensibilities must be taken into consideration in an update, but who involved in the “Clash of the Titans” remake decided to give the Kraken a hoodie? Or that ancient people should all look like Johnny Depp in “Pirates of the Caribbean,” or that high definition 3-D would benefit rubber swords?
The remake is superior to the 1981 original in one feature: It’s about eight minutes shorter. Otherwise the movie has achieved the Herculean feat of being more forgettable than a film that paired Harry Hamlin with a mechanical owl. Read more…
Somehow I missed the new Glass Candy EP earlier this past month (whoops, the month before that actually). And I was paying attention, too. Well, at least I’m more on the ball with the video for the title track, “Feeling without Touching.” Kinda silly, actually, but the song is typical Glass Candy brilliance – half new wave, half disco, all danceable goodness.
Take a deep breath… I’ve moved: wayneemme.com. I am still figuring out this pen name thing, and it’s not easy after ten years writing under one name. This change only matters if you are trying to find me, of course, as Google should still bring search queries to the subjects I now post on the new site. But if you found this site while searching for “Never Back Down” (inside joke, sorry) come get more movie reviews at the new digs, or continue to read my work every Wednesday at Style Weekly.
See you there!
Look on the Uptight Side
“Greenberg” asks us to stand a guy who can’t stand anything.
With its hip soundtrack and conventional pacing, “Greenberg” could give the impression of a standard indie comedy about life lessons. The drifting piece of soul at its center, Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller), a middle-aged crank washed up as a houseguest in Los Angeles, certainly would fit into one of those types of movies. He’s a 40-year-old failure who alienated everyone he ever knew and moved to New York to be a carpenter. Now that he’s back, the only question in most movies would be when he gets saddled with the child or the even crankier father who teaches him how to really live. But “Greenberg,” written and directed by Noah Baumbach, has the nerve to tell a more troubled story, a sad comedy about a guy you might never be able to like. Read more…
The zine. With all the online social media out there, who still wants to make these homemade mini-versions of magazines? (Like all others, of course, this meager blog is heavily indebted to the impulse of the zine.) Artist and writers behind today’s zines seem to purposefully emphasize their medium’s limitations. Fanzines and much of the political work has migrated to the Web. Being merely informational isn’t completely out of the question, but it’s fairly passé. You’re more likely to find something that simply doesn’t fit the Internet and its bent for up-to-the-minute information. Something like “Shoulder Friends,” above, a poetry volume with a picture on the back of Harry Potter with a topless vixen hanging from his shoulder. At the Skylight Books in Los Feliz, CA, a sort of anarchy of the absurd reigns. Zines line a small stand in the back of the store, near enough to the real magazine stand to create a humorous juxtaposition. The zines are nicely organized by the staff but hopelessly out of date, left to sit and wait, sometimes years, for a passerby to take notice. Titles include “Greetings from Space” (volumes 1 and 2), “Unloveable #4,” “Wiggansnatch,” and the above-mentioned “Shoulder Friends,” the last a riotous mix of poetry and prose that walks a line between earnestness and outlandishness almost too fine to be discerned.
Clad in an all-white suit more befitting a gospel preacher than the founder of an electronica band, Yacht frontman Jona Bechtolt marched across the stage at the Echoplex in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles last night fully in command of his audience. Capping a show (and the last date of a U.S. tour) that featured Picturplane, Washed Out and Small Black, Bechtolt and his equally charismatic vocal partner, Claire Evans, made the night’s long wait worthwhile with a rousing rendition of their solid album “See Mystery Lights” – ironic and slightly subversive pop deconstructions that recall Devo and Talking Heads. Read more…
Cheap thrills mix with universal truths in Atom Egoyan’s latest, “Chloe.”
“I’ve always been good with words,” are the first words we hear in “Chloe.” They’re uttered by the Chloe in question (Amanda Seyfried) in a state of undress that contradicts her notion of what her attributes are. Soon the movie, loosely about the challenges posed to a marriage, is involved in further complications. Chloe, a call girl for wealthy men, opens the picture, but in an immediate shift the central character turns out to be Catherine Stewart (Julianne Moore): wife, mother, gynecologist and hopeless paranoid, whose suspicions of affairs of her husband (Liam Neeson) lead her to hire Chloe. She wants to test his willpower. A more levelheaded woman might have picked someone a little less impossibly attractive, and Catherine’s selection leads to a schism within the film, which alternates between insightful commentary on the perils of aging and titillation. Read more…