Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)***
I was more familiar with the 1956 version (which I find superior) but this one has its charms also. It's an amazingly fresh script with complex characters, a lot of humor and an exceptional shootout that seems very uncharacteristic for a Hitchcock picture. Some interesting, memorable shots and sequences, along with some laughable ones. This was the work of a genius on a shoestring budget. The later version was more assured, the sequences more masterful.
Finding Neverland (2004)*
One of the more depressing films I have ever seen. I couldn't find one character that showed any true emotion to latch on to. A pall of death and bitterness hangs over every scene. I can't imagine this as a play at all. The film even makes Julie Christie look bad.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The New Pornographers - Challengers (2007)****
From the Fleetwood Mac of 21st century power pop, another amazingly similar yet different collection of a dozen intense tunes. "Failsafe" is my favorite so far, propelled by a tremelo guitar and a driving beat. But they are all excellent, with atmospheric lyrics, intricate melodies, wonderful harmonies, the awesome Neko Case on the title track in particular, and a trio of some of Dan Bejar's best.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Paul McCartney - Memory Almost Full (2007)***
Paul McCartney has written some stunning songs in his career. So we do know he is a more than capable songwriter, musician, lyricist. What's so frustrating is not that he has missteps, or reaches too far, lots of folks do that. It's that half of his songs just sound like he didn't really care. On this record, the half that are good are actually pretty good. "Ever Present Past" has a nice hook to it and meaningful and clever lyrics, likewise with "Vintage Clothes" and "That Was Me" (probably the best track). "Mister Bellamy" is an enjoyable ditty with some nifty production, "You Tell Me" is a somber, sober reflection on a lost love. "Dance Tonight" is enjoyable enough but it is sorely lacking in the lyric department. On "House of Wax" he tries real hard, too hard actually, for something meaningful and just ends up with something unlistenable. The others are pretty bad. I really wish he always had a collaborator with him, someone to tell him "You know, this song might be good if we just WORKED at it a bit more" or "This thing stinks!"

Friday, June 08, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth (2006)****
A film that slowly grabs you and doesn't let go until the brutally honest and truthful end. My only quarrel with it is I could have done without the scene of the Captain "fixing" the cut on his cheek. We already knew he was a sado-masochistic monster. Uncompromising film making of high rank.