Category Archives: Film Review

Film Review: WE FUN (2009)

Full Title: We Fun: Atlanta, GA Inside/Out
Director: Matthew Robison
Year: 2009 (shot between October 31, 2007 and September 27, 2008)
Comments: Kids Like You & Me (KLYAM) has and will always be about rock ‘n’ roll. A few years ago the kids were introduced to a handful of bands that changed their outlook on rock ‘n’ roll forever. Chief amongst these crusaders is the infinite Black Lips from Atlanta, GA. Black Lips showed us the light and whilst we hopped on the righteous path we came across countless other sage voices in the form of The King Khan & BBQ Show, Deerhunter, Jay Reatard and many more.  For us, these aforementioned characters were already “indie” (fucking disdain that term) darlings; it was 2008-2009. Through creating this site our knowledge and passion for rock ‘n’ roll of this raw, aggressive, punk slime variety grew stronger and stronger to the point that we became scholars, detectives almost. It became our mission to trace back the steps of these legends and become fully aware of their roots. So, in the case of Black Lips and Deerhunter- we looked to Atlanta.

For years Atlanta was a punk rock town, storing a crazy, vibrant music scene filled with miscreants and mad men galore. With this in mind, WE FUN is the ideal flick for a KLYAMER. Going into this to movie I hoped to find out a vast amount of information on the place that fostered some of my favorite artists. The film opens with a mini manifesto from a true rock ‘n’ roller, King Khan.  Ironically, not an Atlanta dude per se, but Atlanta in just about every other sense of the word. King Khan is aesthetically part of this scene and is the perfect dude to deliver a speech summarizing what happened in Atlanta and abroad in the mid-late 2000s amongst this small group of garage rockers and inadvertently revealing my own feelings about this music and the people that create it. Khan, looking quite stoned, stares straight into the camera and prophetically utters these words: “It was the first time in my life that I heard albums that made my mouth drop and made me so glad that I play music now. Because for a long time I wish I had been born in the 60s or 70s and doing my thing back then, but then I am so proud to live today because today I’ve heard the greatest music I’ve ever experienced… And finally the kids are tapping into it. We created our own myth. We created out own legend, and domination is just a step away.” This goes back to what I mentioned earlier about this specific group of people, the death cult as they are known to some folk: Khan, BBQ, Black Lips, Deerhunter, and certainly Jay Reatard is a must on that list. These are men that came from the underground for years and made enough noise to reach the masses .. well maybe not the masses. Now, one of the questions emerges. Why now? Why in Atlanta especially? Why these bands? How did it happen? And how has this changed the Atlanta punk scene? Just some of the questions I have in mind going into this film, and of course I hope that they are answered.

The documentary constantly makes a huge point of the fact that Atlanta has a tremendous party atmosphere or as Black Lips bassist Jared Swilley puts it in one of the film’s interviews, “First and foremost people just want to have fun.” And most of the bands seem to adhere to Jared’s words – partying and alcohol consumption is frequent and celebrated, on and  off stage. Surely, this is part of any music scene (minus straight edge!), but clearly it is important enough to further note this about Atlanta and how the scene’s fast, primitive, pop music reflects this let loose, rowdy, and joyful attitude. With that being said, before the film even hits the ten minute mark the filmmakers are quick to note that this is not all of what Atlanta is. Queue the music for Deerhunter.  While bands like the Black Lips and The Carbonas play party hardy punk/garage music, Deerhunter slimes its way into the darker realms of the pop landscape, while keeping in touch with the same rock ‘n’ roll spirit.

Bradford tells the audience, “When a lot of people think of Atlanta they think of the party element… I mean there is that element, I definitely had a lot of fun in the past eight years hanging out with all these people, but I was never afraid to be a little bit boring.” Boring is too harsh! But, I see what Bradford means and I acknowledge the stark difference between a band like Deerhunter and say an Atlanta band like Gentlemen Jesse and his Men, that has more of a power pop sensibility. What I really love however is the fact that all these bands can exist together and be apart of the same scene without being rivals simply because they play different styles of music. It’s not that case at all; while Deerhunter may be more far out then their “garage” comrades, it’s still rock ‘n’ roll, it’s still coming from the same place in every sense of the word.

Throughout the documentary, we get the sense that this is a close knit community and that is much of the reason why this scene survived over the years. Although, it seems like at times some of the interviewees are uncertain why they are even being interviewed or confused that someone is making a film about Atlanta. During The Carbonas interview they jokingly state that “Atlanta is lame” and that “it’s not worth making a movie over.” I’m not sure if these are just passing jokes or if they truly are questioning the motives for making this film. Of course, they love their music and their home, and the whole scene they have created, but they seem hesitant to display the same feeling of conquest shared by that of King Khan earlier in the film. In that same interview, one of the Carbonas says “They do it better in other cities,” but this is never elaborated. This interview also helps viewers understand the nature of this underground rock band lifestyle. The Carbonas humorously discuss their time on tours, sleeping and shitting in vans, and how it is far from glamorous. Touring is a theme that comes up often in WE FUN and it becomes clear that this is crucial to the existence of these bands. Their story, their legend, their survival.

We start to see how touring aka “getting out of Atlanta” is the name of the game. Of all the Atlanta bands featured in this documentary, Black Lips are most often cited as an example of a band that built its following from aggressive and incessant touring. In one of the film’s interviews Jared Swilley even goes so far as to say that “I don’t know if anyone would have known us if we hadn’t left this city.” Cole Alexander chimes in “Yeah we probably didn’t get much respect in Atlanta till we got respect in other places.”  This is an interesting point to say the least. Is this unique to Atlanta? Or is this the truth for most cities? I tend to think this can be seen as a message to young bands to TOUR!!!  and perhaps not get too caught up in trying to make it huge locally because at the end of the day the world needs to experience your band not just your local scene. And to the bands that are not as big in their hometown, don’t worry none of these bands never got too much attention until they blossomed outside of their own city.

One thing I really LOVE LOVE LOVE about this documentary is hearing stories from the past. Stories about some of these folks that later went on to become pivotal figures in this Atlanta music scene and current music in general. A few of my favorites include a teenage Cole Alexander handing Creative Loafing Atlanta (a weekly Atlanta music magazine) editor/writer, Chad Radford  a beat up 7-inch of what is  presumably the Black Lips first release, “Ain’t Comin’ Back” (2001/2002). OR hearing a story of Bradford Cox inadvertently seeing the Black Lips for the first time, expecting them to be a shitty bar band and instead being blown away. Stuff like that makes We Fun neat. Maybe not the most factual, historical or critically poignant pieces of information to be dispensed, but they help the viewer gain a better understanding of who these people are and where they came from.

This film does a nice job of capturing some of the city’s characters. Focal people that were/are crucial to this Atlanta music scene. You have the likes of Dry Ink Mag’s Tom Chesire, Chunklet Magazine’s Henry Owings, and best of all the late, great B Jay Wommack aka Bobby Ubangi, a man that truly put the FUN in WE FUN. BJ represented the scene in many ways and we see him play an active role as a musician in his own right (motherfucker played in some kick ass bands: The Lids, Gaye Blades, Carbonas, Bobby and The Soft Spots, and his solo work) and simply as a fun loving friend to many of the other Atlanta musicians, always keeping the party going.

We also start to see the importance of local independent labels, specifically Mark Nauman’s Die Slaughterhaus Records and Trey Lindsy’s and Travis Flagel’s Rob’s House Records. The latter articulate the point that none of these bands were ever in it to “make it.” Even going as far as to say that if you told them a few years ago that they would be where they are today, they wouldn’t believe you. This gives the story of these bands and the Atlanta scene as a whole a humbling quality that I admire. But, how did this transformation happen?

Okay, I clearly like this film, no I love it. But, it is certainly not without its flaws. Firstly, there is not enough clarity for people that do not know anything about this music or these individuals. I understand that if you are not into this style of music, this scene, or these bands then why would you watch this documentary? But, that can not be used as an excuse. If you are making a documentary you should not automatically assume the audience already knows about your subject matter. For example, I think this film could use a clear definition of what this music is, more biographical information on these bands, how they formed, how they evolved, how they got their sound, how it changed- if it did, and how some of these bands extended their audience and/or how they garnered wider exposure. There could be a mention of this transition and how it affected the bands. I could see why the filmmakers would decide not to focus too much on this aspect because these bands have always been great, not just 2007 onward. But, it seems like the documentary constantly makes it a point to say that these bands and Atlanta are bigger now specifically because of the commercial successes of some of these musicians. Overall, it just seems random and lacks cohesion. I would like to just see a bit more focus and explanation. I think the best documentaries are the ones that are able to appeal to both insiders and new comers. I am not sure if this would appeal to new folks, who knows? Maybe it would, but I think they would feel awfully lost, and I doubt they would comprehend just how big of a difference this transition was and how pivotal it was for these bands in their careers and how it affected Atlanta.

Now, being a 22 year old Bostonian, I was nowhere near Atlanta (never been!), but I love several of these bands and have over the years. Point being, I don’t know too much about music in Atlanta overall, but I have read of complaints from others in Atlanta, claiming that this film is elitist, exclusive, etc. I’m curious to anyone that can fill me in on this. What are your thoughts? Perspectives? In any situation, I know what happened in Atlanta and what is documented here is legendary and you can’t take anything away from that. I highly recommend this film and maybe this a cool way to get into these bands. I could (and do) watch this film over and over again, and now you can too! Check it out on You Tube below!

Film Review: Better Than Something (2011)

Full Title: Better Than Something Jay Reatard
Year: 2011
Director(s): Alex Hammond & Ian Markiewicz
Film Screening: Museum Of Fine Arts (MFA) – Remis Auditorium (Thursday, August 30, 2012)
Comments: Preliminary Happenings
So, movie starts at 8 we arrive at the Museum of Fine Arts at 7:58, an unbelievable feeling of relief washes over me because in my mind we have two minutes to spare- buy the ticket, take the ride. Batta bing, batta boom. Well, unfortunately I’ve never been to the Museum of Fine Arts! Yeah “art” art and KLYAM don’t really mix, we’re tards after all. Needless to say we spent the next ten minutes or so searching for the auditorium. If one were to take a shot of us from the sky we would have looked like mice on speed rushing through a maze, scurrying to find the Remis Auditorium. At one point, I felt like I was being played. Jay Reatard at the Museum of Fine Arts; I never thought the words Jay Reatard and museum would ever find themselves together in the same sentence. But, here we are. Thankfully, with the help of some kind  employees we found our way, only to discover four other mutants in attendance. WTF?! I was/am disappointed in you Boston music fans. Glen and I caught a nice seat in the second or third row – just like pretty much every other show we want to be as close as we can until we get too close for comfort.  Then again, comfort is the last thing on my mind when it comes to Jay Reatard.

Review: The film opens almost abruptly with footage of Jay playing in France, all pumped up and ready to go, but his mic won’t work. He is screaming his heart out, but there is no sound. Finally when the vocals come through Jay mutters something to the effect of “glad, we have a fucking professional.” I can’t think of a more perfect way to introduce the story of Jay Reatard. This brief live clip and the painfully awkward, but hilarious interview that accompanies it, in many ways sums up Jay’s entire persona. He was going to do his own thing with total commitment and if you were not on the same page as him then you were just a creep. I must say this opening scene is brilliant in its own little way and a very wise choice from directors Alex Hammond and Ian Markiewicz. If you didn’t know Jay coming into the film then you know from this moment on that you are not watching some bullshit Behind the Music story on a David Cassidy wannabe, instead this Tard is the real deal. Now, just to give a little bit of  background on this documentary, before Jay passed he put out his final LP Watch Me Fall on Matador Records and the label wanted to make a short video to promote the record. This little video transformed into an insightful portrait of the man from Memphis – far beyond anyone’s expectations.  Waiting For Something was a Tard creep such as myself’s wet dream! For once, fans were able to see Jay Reatard, not just as some tough guy rocker, but as an actual human being. Fast forward a few months and fans and friends all around the world are devastated to discover that one of rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest practitioners passed away at the age of 29.  Alex and Ian’s film Better Than Something builds off of their initial project and includes additional footage, interviews, and other appearances that put the overall story in a better perspective. I was obviously a tremendous fan of the first film, so going into this show knowing that there would be mostly new material, I didn’t know how this would factor into the overall quality of the documentary. In other words, I wasn’t sure how strong this new material would be: would it just be filler? Or would it develop the story of Jay even further? Well, my friends, it certainly was the latter.  In fact I was pleasantly surprised at how awesome some of this new material was. Not to say I thought it would be pointless or what have you, but damn it was pretty cool. I mean there is some priceless, invaluable archive footage here. Great, great live videos of Jay performing at house shows with The Reatards and The Lost Sounds. Not to mention numerous other performances including some at various Gonerfests over the years.  I also must note the sheer number of new scenes in this movie. For those that saw the last flick, please don’t think you pretty much already saw the movie before. There are new, fascinating interviews with Jay’s family (dad, mom, sisters) and through these interviews we get to see Jay through the eyes of the people that love him. I know that seems obvious, but honestly it is necessary because 90% of the time you either hear folks talk about Jay being a total miscreant or you hear people suck his dick off about how amazing he was and how many records he put out and so forth. His family doesn’t see him as this giant rock star, which he wasn’t anyway, but they simply see him as their son/brother- Jimmy Lee Lindsey Jr.

Through meeting his family and tracing Jay’s Memphis roots, the audience gets to see how Jay came from extreme poverty and grew into an accomplished musician responsible for a vast, intimidating discography that dates back to his teens.  With this in mind, every viewer knows Jay had to work his ass off to get to where he was at the time of his death, but I worry that some viewers might not understand just how much music he actually created with his previous bands and for how long they were active. For example, we see some stunning archival footage of Jay’s two prominent earlier bands, The Reatards and Lost Sounds on tour. And the way in which the filmmakers use this footage to tackle some of the main themes of Jay’s story such as his wild behavior and his aggression towards his peers is outstanding and appropriate. My only complaint is that viewers that don’t have a ton of knowledge about Jay and more specifically the underground “garage scene” that he was a part of, will they think “ohh, it’s cool to see these early videos of Jay before he took off and did his thing.” But, the truth is The Reatards and the Lost Sounds were well established bands for a while  (7-10 years) and they were the main musical acts consuming Jay’s life/career. I just hope people don’t get the wrong impression. In other words, these bands were not mere stepping stones to his solo career, they are entities unto themselves. I don’t think the filmmakers intended any harm or anything like that, but I just think some clarification might have helped. Maybe more of a historical, chronological approach, explaining the significance of each band? I don’t know, perhaps that would fuck up the flow of the film, which is sound and consistently captivating. One of my other qualms with the documentary is the lack of narrative. I do appreciate the fact that Alex and Ian truly let Jay and those close to Jay communicate directly to the audience instead of having some random yahoos tell the story. That is a special touch which I think distinguishes this documentary. But, at the same time, I kind of feel like had Alex and Ian placed themselves in the picture then maybe we would have a more unified story. They do an excellent job of articulating the various themes of Jay’s life/story; I guess I am just looking for some sort of narrative like the one we see Todd Phillips deliver in the G.G. Allin documentary Hated (1993). In that film, Todd is not really visible on screen per se, but he provides a voice over that frames the narrative in an incredible way. Then again, I can totally respect them for choosing not to include themselves in the film.

Lastly, I want to make it a point that I enjoy this film very much, so do not get discouraged from viewing it because of some of my minor gripes! I like to leave reviews on a positive note, so let me tell you one of the best things about Better Than Something is the way in which the filmmakers let the interviews linger, often revealing some oddly thoughtful and/or comical comments from their interviewees. It’s like they kept in the stuff that most directors would toss in the trash can , deeming it as outtakes or deleted scenes. Some of my favorite examples of this are parts of conversations that are omitted from the first documentary Waiting For Something i.e.  Eric Oblivian and Jay’s discussion of retired professional wrestlers such as Jake the Snake and Koko B. Ware. Firstly, I love this scene because I grew up watching WWF religiously. More importantly, this scene makes a great point about Jay. On the surface this appears to be merely humorous banter between two friends (and in a way it is), but within the context of the film, we realize that this is Jay’s way of laughing at all of the shit life is hurling at him. He points to the fate of Jake the Snake as a sixty year old man locked inside a character, wrestling his personal demons in front of a camera for the whole world to see. Being nearly half Jake’s age Jay declares that he cannot go down this road and just be another TV figure, another face on a magazine, another talented individual destroyed at an early age. Regardless of the outcome, I agree with Jay and I think we should see him in the same light, as a man above all of that “tragic rock star dies young” junk. Jay knew he was more than that. Better than something.

Cheers to Alex Hammond and Ian Markiewicz for bringing the story of Jay Reatard to the big screen! Your film is an astounding portrait of a man sadly most people never knew, hopefully your work will help Jay reach greater audiences than ever imagined, as I am confident it already has.

Classic Film Review: American: The Bill Hicks Story

Full Title: American: The Bill Hicks Story
Director(s): Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas
Year: 2009
Comments: Bill Hicks has been my personal hero since I was young enough to act out Goat Boy and it wasn’t sketchy. Well, that’s not true, Goat Boy was always sketchy. But, horniness aside, American does an amazing job of recreating Bill’s world for all of his fans to appreciate every nuance that made Bill Bill. Using a cut and paste style of animation (really something I and several other viewers have never seen before), the movie literally recreates the special events of Bill’s life. The whole documentary is actual stills of the people, places, and perceptions that mattered the most to Bill. Over these images we hear the voices of the characters that shaped our hero’s story the greatest. Everyone from best friend/music and film collaborator Kevin Booth to Bill’s mother the proper, sweet Mary Hicks. I think that’s what separates this documentary from others; the fact that it is so personal, with all the interviews coming from people who knew Bill very personally, instead of just random celebrities. Despite the caustic, dark, and savage comedy of Mr. Hicks, with this film we see Bill’s true vision to its greatest potential, we realize how amazing and unique Bill was (like we didn’t already?). This film and the people in it articulate Bill’s message of love, laughter, and the truth in some ways better than he ever did. This is a rather affectionate documentary and honestly, as a fan, I couldn’t ask for more. I’m so glad to see the “Dark Poet” get so much respect and admiration. At the end of the day, while I totally enjoyed this feature, very little of it was new to me, but that’s not so much a flaw of the film, but more of a case of my excessive fandom. I’d seriously recommend this to fans and non-fans alike, but for die-hards, I’d say from my experience Kevin Booth’s autobiography, Agent of Evolution (2004) is the most detailed account of Bill’s life. In general, watch and/or listen to Bill’s comedy itself- it’s life altering, life affiriming, and best of all just plain fucking hilarious.

In the spirit of Bill.

Grade: 9/10

Mini Classic Film Reviews: True Romance…

Full Title: True Romance
Director: Tony Scott
Year: 1993
Comments: First up is Tony Scott’s classic True Romance. TR is a film geek’s film. And whadya know, the geekiest film geek wrote the screenplay: none other than Quentin Tarantino! This is one of Tarantino’s earliest screenplays and one of his finest. His didja get it? nerdy comic book, obscure Kung- Fu flick references are splattered all over this drug/crime thriller. In brief, the story concerns a quirky, young couple- an ex call girl, Alabama (Patricia Arquette) and a comic book store owner, Clarence (Christian Slater) in a fast paced race to sell a shit ton of uncut cocaine following the murder of bama’s psychotic, off kilter, wigga gangsta (Gary Oldman), the rightful owner of the blow. Now, his men are after the dynamic duo and hellbent on reclaiming their narcotics. I’m not going to lie this movie isn’t flawless and often I wonder what would a Taratino directed version be like. For sure, Scott’s direction is vastly different from anything we’ve seen from Quentin and this definitely makes TR appear to be more like your average action flick… but it’s not. Not at all. It’s not the strongest crime film, but it is a fun ride with elements of comedy, drama, and even “CSI” esque televison. I don’t know if that’s just me, but I get those vibes, I often feel like I’m watching a high quality television program. Certainly, the star here is the screenplay, from the first few moments anyone even slightly familar with Tarantino’s style can identify that these are his menacing words. Though let’s not forget the many sound performances here; there is an all star cast that includes Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken, James Gandolfini, Samuel L. Jackson in a hilarious cameo, Chris Penn, Bronson Pinchot, and Brad Pitt as a pleasant stoner almost of the Hurricanes of Love variety my heavenly brothers. And yes the action is exquisite, very fun, very badass, I think most action fans will dig it and will be able to easily digest thee other more intelligent matter floating in between all the blood and bullets. Don’t worry fuckheads, this is pure high quality action, not too much to think about, but not D U M B dumb either. By the way, the exchange between Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper (link below)  is one of my all time favorite pieces of dialogue and appears to be quite popular amongst cult film fanatics. That’s one thing I will say about this movie that stands out, the individual scenes. Several of the scenes themselves I enjoy more than the whole feature. Don’t get me wrong it is a very good film and there’s a feeling completion when the credits roll, but overall I’d say I prefer some of the scenes as opposed to the whole cinematic experience. To wrap things up I hope people really do check out this cult classic because it seems like no one has seen it and that’s a damn shame!

Grade: 8/10

Full Title: Blue Velvet
Director: David Lynch
Year: 1986
Comments: Ahh another Dennis Hopper film. Dennis Hopper don’t let him mark ya, it’s so much darker don’t let him touch ya. Don’t fill a KLYAMer up with dread.  Okay, if you don’t know the song “Spidey’s Curse” by the Black Lips then you must be saying WTF?! to yourself, and more imporantly you are a fool! You deserve the ambiguity. But, enough of that for now. Let’s talk about David Lynch’s masterpiece. For twenty-five years now people have dissected the shit out of this picture and with great reason. Lynch sets you up with the wonderful, colorful, suburban, American Dream in the form of the town Lumberton, only to rip the heart out of that idyllic image and flush it down the toilet. Lynch offers us a view of a world most of us have never been close to and pray that stays the same. We see that beneath the pleaseant, peaceful town of Luberton lies a seedy world of gangs, hardcore drugs, and rape. Enter the movie’s villian and one of my favorite characters in all of film, the nitrous inhalin madman, Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper). Lynch mixes campy comedy with extremely distubring imagery of the gothic tradition and the result is one of the 80s’ greatest films.

Grade: 9/10– Roy Orbison- “In Dreams” scene

E-I-E-I-OMG, California, this is your Governor, excuse me, Governator.

Full Title: Kindergarten Cop
Director: Ivan Reitman
Year: 1990
Comments: Okay, this is clearly not a good movie in the traditional sense, but I loved it as a kid and I still enjoy watching it now. I think it is silly to slap a grade on this kind of movie, but I have to say for what it is worth the story is decent and it mixes the action, comedy, (cop)drama, and kids/family entertainment genres fairly well.

Grade: N/A

And check out this video!

Classic Film Review: 1981

Full Title: 1981
Director: Ricardo Trogi
Year: 2009
Comments: This film is truly delightful, a word I rarely use to describe a film. The movie is a semi-autobiographical account of Ricardo Trogi’s family life as Italian immigrants in Quebec in 1981. The plot takes place when Trogi is twelve years old and therefore the film itself is (brilliantly) seen through the eyes of a twelve year old. Though this flick deals with several serious issues such as immigration and the resulting prejudices that come with it, it is overall a light hearted, amusing work, and as I said earlier, delightful. Trogi uses 1981 as a character; the young Ricardo Trogi needs to keep up with the fast paced times and all the new gagets and hoodwinks (stylish jackets, trapper keepers, video games, etc) and what have you that every cool twelve year old must have or they ain’t shit. Since, Ricardo is the new kid with a funny accent, it makes all of these “necessities” all the more important and in fact, it would be the end of the world if he didn’t have them. The adult Trogi, the filmmaker, uses these humorous adolescent anecdotes to highlight the more serious, social perils, anxieties, if you will, of being working class and not being able to afford everything everyone else (seemingly) around you has. Ultimately, being happy. Over the course of the film the boy grows up…. a little and he learns that at the end of the day, sometimes the world is just a phony place.

Grade: 7/10

Classic Film Review: Away We Go

Full Title: Away We Go

Director: Sam Mendes

Year: 2009

Comments: Sam Mendes blew my mind before with the 90s classic American Beauty and though this film does not live up to that fine piece of cinema, it is without a doubt a smart film worthy of praise.  Away We Go centers around two thirty-somethings about to bring a baby into the world, uncertain of where they should raise their newborn; the couple spends the rest of the film scouting for new locations for their future family life. On the way, they encounter various, amusing, often bizarre characters that either promote or deter their search, usually the latter. This most definitley keeps the film interesting and entertaining, it is always moving forwards and doesn’t linger on irrelevent details like most movies do. At the same time, despite the sharp writing and direction of AWG, I can’t say I love this film and I have to admit, I find nothng about this moive particularly memorable. In terms of quality, it is without a doubt above average, bettet than most hip, “indie” flicks, the acting, the screenplay, plot, etc. is decent. But, for me there really isn’t much to make this feature stand out from the next “big thing.” I feel like this movie tries to be both Garden State and Juno, but lacks the sentiment and the joy of both, respectively. All in all, a good film, but not in the league of the best of the “indie” films of the Double Ohhs.

Grade: 7/10

Classic Film Review: Faat Kiné

Full Title: Faat Kiné
Director: Ousmane Sembène
Year: 2000
Comments: Faat Kiné is a Senegalese woman, who runs a successful gas station- a rare feat in the male dominated, oppressive world of Senegal. Kiné’s character is seen as a heroine in her community, having suffered and struggled most of her life to give her kids (whom she had out of wedlock) the education and privileged life she never had. One of the film’s main themes is the repudiation of the old generation. The movie makes itself clear that the former traditions of Senegal are slowly dissipating. As a whole, I thought this message was communicated well and I would say for a movie, this is informative in terms of learning about Senegalese culture. With that being said, it was overall pretty average and did not floor me in any way. There is enough to be appreciated, but not enough for it to stand out as anything of significance. Some parts were mildly amusing, some things were shocking, but the running time without a doubt could have been trimmed, much like most American films. If you read this site’s film reviews, you know we don’t really cover too much foreign material (for no particular reason other than not coming across them and/or not making any effort to come across them either), but I don’t feel like my lack of enthusiasm for this feature has anything to do with a language/culture barrier; I treated this review like any other one. All in all, I would only recommend this to someone that wants to learn about Senegal (and/or how it has changed in somewhat recent years) via entertainment.
Grade: 4/10

Classic DVD Review: Dinosaur Jr Live in the Middle East

Full Title: Dinosaur Jr: Live in the Middle East
Director: Philipp Virus
Artists: Dinosaur Jr: J Mascis- Vocals, Guitar. Lou Barlow- Vocals, Bass. Murph- Drums
Year: Filmed in 2005, released in 2006
Set List:
1) Gargoyle
2) Kracked
3) Bulbs of Passion
4) Little Furry Things
5) Lose
6) Forget the Swan
7) The Post
8) Budge
9) The Lung
10) The Wagon
11) Raisans
12) Sludgefeast
13) Mountain Man
14) Chunks
15) In a Jar
16) Repulsion
17) Just Like Heaven

Comments: I’ve seen Dinosaur Jr live and without a doubt they are a tour de force, one of the most powerful live bands in the world. This concert in particular is special for two reasons: 1) It was not too long after their reunion, sixteen years after the demise of the original line up. 2) This concert is shot at the Middle East in Cambridge, MA (for the most part) the home state of Dinosaur. The venue is a small, comfy place and gives the band/DVD a certain character. It makes the performance feel homey and intimate. Typically, most Concert DVDs you see feel the total opposite. Since, the Middle East is my favorite venue, I also felt a greater connection and it seemed like Dinosaur was right at home. Overall, I enjoyed the performance and the band were incredible as usual, playing mostly 80s, You’re Living All Over Me (1987) material, which naturally added its own vibes and made the concert/DVD feel all the more like the good old times of the original Dinosaur years. With that being said, the band really carries this DVD. In other words, the DVD offers very little beyond filming the band and a few crowd shots, not much more. It is akin to a youtube video and for me this is surely not enough. In terms of bonus features, we have some treats: interviews with Thurston Moore, Kim Gordan, Steve Albini, Mike Watt, Mat Dillon, and others. They provide great insight and clear appreaciaton for the group. Here, we also see the lack of dedication for this DVD, for the footage itself is given little treatment and poor audio/lightning, but once again the content saves the viewer from running away. We also see a few performances from the band and a radio station performance/interview, which are decent.

Grade: 7/10- Great band, great show, but not a great DVD per se. Still if you’re a big fan I’d recommend it, I will watch it and enjoy it over and over again, because I’m just one of those kinda guys.

Film Review: The Fighter

Full Title: The Fighter
Year: 2010
Director: Davd O. Russell
Comments: From the very first shot of Marky Mark (“Irish” Micky Ward) and Christian Bale (Dicky Eklund) in a private, documentary, interview I had a feeling I was in for something special. Which, in retrospect seems retarded, but I just had the feeling and it turns out my gut was right. Since the film was set in Lowell it was nice being able to recognize the scenery and really makes the city a character. Overall, I enjoyed this film very much, much more than most movies I see, for two main reasons: 1) It’s heart. It sounds cliched, a boxing movie with heart, but the emotion here is real. It feels real. When Dicky reaches his worst bouts as a crackhead it’s more than painful to watch. I don’t want to give away too much, but in one particular scene we watch Dicky and his family as they watch a documentary about Dicky on what it is like to truly be addicted to crack. This is easily the most chilling part of the film. Which goes into my second point. 2) The flawless acting of Christian Bale. Bale is not himself. He is 100% Dicky, it’s scary how well he plays the part. In many ways he is the film, or at least its backbone, but considering this is supposed to be a biopic on Micky Ward, Walhberg’s character that takes this flick down a few notches. Walhberg and the crew do a decent job, but they pale next to Bale; his performance criticizes everyone else’s acting. I’d be suprised if he didn’t win the acamedy award for Best Supporting Actor or at least the nomination. With that being said, it’s just not the Dicky situation lol, it’s also the film’s structure itself. It tries too hard to do too many things. In other words, it should stick to emulating Raging Bull (1980) or emulating Rocky (1976), neither of which it comes close to. At some points it seems like they are tossing a love story at us, but this storyline is never quite pursued. And most significantly, the character of Micky isn’t developed enough for me to really care as much about him as say Dicky, whom I’m far more concerned with. Considering this is the main character in the film this should be noted. With all of these shortcomings one might think The Fighter
is a bad film… no way! Far from it. This movie is better and more entertaining than most flicks you will see at the show and I’d go as far as to say this is probably one of the better films of twenty ten, certainly amongst the best I’ve seen. So, in spite of it’s somewhat shambling screenplay, I really enjoyed this film and I highly recommend it. All in all, not an “excellent” film, but an above average film filled with some moments/scenes of excellence. I’ve heard some reviewers say the film should have been about Dicky instead of Micky, after reflecting on the movie myself, I share the same sentiment.

Grade: 8/10

Here is the link for High On Crack Street: Lost Lives in Lowell, the actual documentary on Dicky Eklund and crack addiction in Lowell, MA.

Classic Film Review: Punch Drunk Love

Full Title: Punch Drunk Love
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Year: 2002
Comments: Ever since I was a little kid I have been a fan of Adam Sandler as a comedian, but after watching this film I have gained more respect/appreciation for him than ever before. For years people told me to see this film and I put it off for whatever reasons (now, I’m kicking myself in the teeth for waiting so long!). I have seen Sandler in “serious” roles in Reign Over Me (2007) and Funny People (2009), but neither of these films convinced me that Sandler was (or could be) a terrific actor. PDL has done just that for me and so much more. Firstly, the story tells the tale of Barry Egan (Sandler), a businessman that suffers from severe social issues and has yet to make any real connection with anyone in his life, particularly a romantic relationship, which he clearly desires. Soon, he finds his sister hooking him up with a sweet friend from her work, Lena (Emily Watson), whom oddly takes a liking to Barry (and vice versa) and attempts to understand his peculiar, little world. Now, it is time for the timid, introverted Barry to obliterate his defense mechanisms and for once actually live his life. All in all, this is a top notch flick, Paul Thomas Anderson is a master raconteur: the story is slow, but purposefully slow, if that makes any sense. It revels in its characters, letting them develop, so when they finally ACT it is all the more meaninful. Also, the music is incredible and nicely complements what is happening on screen. We hear a loud, pounding score that perfectly corresponds to the mayhem occuring in the paranoid, disturbed brain of Barry’s. Without a doubt, one of the finest films of the last decade. I plan on revisiting this in the future.

Grade: A- (9/10)