Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 In Review: Movies

**** Manchester By The Sea
**** Too Late
**** The Lobster
*** Love And Friendship
*** The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years
** Arrival
** Cafe Society
** Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them
** Finding Dory
** Hail, Caesar!
** Inferno
** Mascots
** Pee-wee's Big Holiday
** Star Trek Beyond
** The Conjuring 2
** The Jungle Book
** The Nice Guys
* Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice

2016 In Review: Music

**** Lush - Blind Spot EP
*** Basia Bulat - Good Advice
*** Bob Mould- Patch The Sky
*** Bun E. Carlos - Greetings from Bunezuela!
*** Cate Le Bon - Crab Day
*** Charlie Hilton - Palana
*** Colleen Green - Colleen Green EP
*** David Bowie - Black Star
*** Eleanor Friedberger - New View
*** Fascinations Grand Chorus EP
*** Flyying Colours - Mindfulness
*** High Violets, The - Heroes And Halos
*** KT Tunstall - KIN
*** La Sera - Music for Listening to Music To
*** Ladyhawke - Wild Things
*** Monkees, The - Good Times!
*** Muncie Girls - From Caplan to Belsize
*** Nada Surf - You Know Who You Are
*** Posies, The - Solid States
*** Pretenders - Alone
*** Shonen Knife - Adventure
*** Tacocat - Lost Time
*** Teenage Fanclub - Here
*** Trashcan Sinatras - Wild Pendulum
*** Travis - Everything At Once
*** We Are Scientists - Helter Seltzer
*** Yeasayer - Amen & Goodbye
** Beau - That Thing Reality
** Case Lang Veirs - Atomic Number
** Cheap Trick - Bang Zoom Crazy Hello
** Cotton Mather - Death of the Cool
** Joy Formidable, The - Hitch
** Maria Taylor - In The Next Life
** Marika Hackman - Wonderland
** of Montreal - Innocence Reaches
** School Of Seven Bells - SVIIB
** Sting - 57th & 9th
** Weyes Blood - Front Row Seat To Earth

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Why Obama waited 8 years to take on Netanyahu – Mondoweiss

As Elise Labott said last night on CNN, Obama did not push the settlements/Palestinian state issue before the election out of deference to Hillary Clinton. Labott was saying, without saying it, that Clinton was so dependent on the Jewish establishment and large Jewish donors, that she could not “undermine [the] party’s fundraising capabilities” (as the National Journal says) by saying a word against Israel. Today on NPR Daoud Kuttab said very much the same thing: that presidents take these actions in their last months when they are freed of “domestic, political, lobbying” pressures. This is a central truth of our politics that ought to be explored. But NPR promptly brought on Aaron David Miller to refute it; Miller said it was a “myth” that lobbying affects US policy.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Jeff Fisher knew in 2012 that Kroenke was moving to LA | Ben Frederickson |

"I was very fortunate to have some options," said Fisher, referencing his return to coaching in 2012. "I decided on L.A., or St. Louis, at the time, knowing that there was going to be a pending move. More importantly, I took the job because of Stan, and because we had a quarterback in Sam Bradford. That's how you win in this league, with a good owner and a quarterback. So, Stan gave me the opportunity. To answer your question, I'm disappointed. But I didn't win enough games. I get that part."

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Sugar is a toxic agent that creates conditions for disease | Aeon Essays

The sugars and refined grains that make up such a high proportion of the foods we consume in modern Westernised diets trigger the dysregulation of a homeostatic system that has evolved to depend on insulin to regulate both fat accumulation and blood sugar. Hence, the same dietary factors – sugars and refined grains – trigger both obesity and diabetes. By focusing on the problems of eating too much and exercising too little, public health authorities have simply failed to target the correct causes.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Manchester by the Sea (2016) ****

Casey Affleck essentially plays me (brilliantly) in this very well directed tale of a grief observed in a very un-Hollywood way.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

I, Cringely News we aren't supposed to know - I, Cringely

I’m writing this post on Wednesday evening here in California. Normally I wouldn’t point that out but in this case I want to put a kind of timestamp on my writing because at this moment we’re at the end of the second day of a concerted attack by the UAE Electronic Army on various DNS providers in North America. If you follow this stuff and bother to check, say, Google News right now for “UAE Electronic Army,” your search will probably generate some Facebook entries but no news at all because — two days into it — this attack has gone unnoticed by the world at large. My last column was about fake news. This one is about real news you never hear about.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Godfather Wars | Vanity Fair

Brando was intrigued, because he saw the project as a story not of blood and guts but “about the corporate mind.” As he said later, “The Mafia is so American! To me, a key phrase in the story is that whenever they wanted to kill somebody it was always a matter of policy. Before pulling the trigger, they told him, ‘Just business, nothing personal.’ When I read that, [Vietnam War architects Robert] McNamara, [Lyndon] Johnson, and [Dean] Rusk flashed before my eyes.”

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Hayao Miyazaki Calls A.I. Animation ‘An Insult To Life Itself’ | IndieWire

After seeing a brief demo of a grotesque zombie-esque creature, Miyazaki pauses and says that it reminds him of a friend of his with a disability so severe he can’t even high five. “Thinking of him, I can’t watch this stuff and find [it] interesting. Whoever creates this stuff has no idea what pain is whatsoever. I am utterly disgusted. If you really want to make creepy stuff, you can go ahead and do it. I would never wish to incorporate this technology into my work at all. I strongly feel that this is an insult to life itself.”

Near the end of the clip, after hearing that the animators’ goal is to create a machine that “draws pictures like humans do,” Miyazaki’s comments are even more grim. “I feel like we are nearing to the end of the times. We humans are losing faith in ourselves…”

Monday, December 12, 2016

Is Sugar Killing Us? - WSJ

The sugar industry has long defended itself against the notion that sugar is uniquely fattening by repeating the mantra that a calorie is a calorie. The worst that can be said of sugar, the industry argues, is that it tastes good, which leads us to consume too much of it. “There is no difference between the calories that come from sugar or steak or grapefruit or ice cream,” proclaimed industry ads in the 1950s.

That is not actually true, though nutritionists have been slow to come around. Beginning in the 1960s, researchers led by the British nutritionist John Yudkin began to publish the results of experiments in animals and trials in humans suggesting that sugar’s distinctive chemistry had a role in producing an entire cluster of biochemical abnormalities known today as “metabolic syndrome.”

Among these abnormalities is resistance to the hormone insulin, which orchestrates the body’s use of fuels—proteins, carbohydrates and fats, and whether we store them or burn them. That key function apparently goes awry when we consume too much sugar and our cells resist the hormone. Insulin resistance is also the fundamental defect in Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, and it is common in obesity as well.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that some 75 million Americans now suffer from metabolic syndrome. If sugar consumption is the trigger, as 50 years of research suggests, then it might be as much of a direct cause of diabetes as smoking cigarettes is of lung cancer. Without sugar in our diets, diabetes might be an exceedingly rare disease—as it appears once to have been.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) **

As a CGI spectacle and introduction to a series of films, this flick is ok. Would probably be better enjoyed as a binge with the next 4 films after they are completed. Redmayne affects a nearly inaudible accent/word-slur which becomes very annoying as the proceedings progress.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Andrew Sachs, Manuel from Fawlty Towers, dies aged 86 | Media | The Guardian

He became a household name in Britain as the hapless Manuel in the 1970s sitcom. Worried that he could not do a Spanish accent, Sachs initially wanted to play the role as a German.

But Cleese, who played Basil Fawlty, insisted that the character should be Spanish. He said despite his anxiety Sachs took to the role instantly.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Cleese said: “If you met him you would never think for a moment that he was a comedian, you would think he was a rather cultivated bank manager possibly retired, because he was quite quiet and poised and thoughtful. And then you stuck that moustache on him and he turned into a completely different human being. He was wonderful.”

Friday, November 25, 2016

Arrival (2016) ***

A terrific first half is not enough to save this well designed take on classic 50's sci-fi, which is a shame since it's not a superhero flick and that's marvelous.

UPDATE: A second viewing made everything clear to me. Now I know why Amy Adams always looks confused!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Finding Dory (2016) **

Technically impressive (though not nearly as much as the accompanying short) this exhausting hero-in-peril fish story is primarily for the 7 and under set.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Steve Bannon Trump Tower Interview: Trump's Strategist Plots "New Political Movement" | Hollywood Reporter

"Like [Andrew] Jackson's populism, we're going to build an entirely new political movement," he says. "It's everything related to jobs. The conservatives are going to go crazy. I'm the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. With negative interest rates throughout the world, it's the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything. Ship yards, iron works, get them all jacked up. We're just going to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. It will be as exciting as the 1930s, greater than the Reagan revolution — conservatives, plus populists, in an economic nationalist movement."

The Lobster (2015) ****

Exceptional direction from Yorgos Lanthimos of an allegorical tale about love and how to find it. Or something like that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Trump in the White House: An Interview With Noam Chomsky

On November 8, the most powerful country in world history, which will set its stamp on what comes next, had an election. The outcome placed total control of the government -- executive, Congress, the Supreme Court -- in the hands of the Republican Party, which has become the most dangerous organization in world history.

Apart from the last phrase, all of this is uncontroversial. The last phrase may seem outlandish, even outrageous. But is it? The facts suggest otherwise. The Party is dedicated to racing as rapidly as possible to destruction of organized human life. There is no historical precedent for such a stand.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

3quarksdaily: An American Tragedy

The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism. Trump’s shocking victory, his ascension to the Presidency, is a sickening event in the history of the United States and liberal democracy. On January 20, 2017, we will bid farewell to the first African-American President—a man of integrity, dignity, and generous spirit—and witness the inauguration of a con who did little to spurn endorsement by forces of xenophobia and white supremacy. It is impossible to react to this moment with anything less than revulsion and profound anxiety.

I don't know, I'm TRYING to feel the hyperbole but perhaps I've become inured to it since November 7, 2000.

Monday, November 07, 2016

The Seventh Seal (1957) ****

A great film, clunky in parts but filled with iconic images and some powerful, memorable scenes.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Inferno (2016) **

Easily the best in the series (quite a low bar there) this goofy thriller boasts a fine international supporting cast and lovely Florence as scenic backdrop. Don't worry too much about the plot, trust me. Too bad director Ron Howard didn't seem to put much effort into his job relying on a shaky camera for the action scenes and extreme close-ups during most conversations.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Adolescence is no longer a bridge between childhood and adult life | Aeon Essays

With the concept of adolescence, American parents, especially those in the middle class, could predict the staging of their children’s maturation. But adolescence soon became a vision of normal development that was applicable to all youth – its bridging character (connecting childhood and adulthood) giving young Americans a structured way to prepare for mating and work. In the 21st century, the bridge is sagging at both ends as the innocence of childhood has become more difficult to protect, and adulthood is long delayed. While adolescence once helped frame many matters regarding the teen years, it is no longer an adequate way to understand what is happening to the youth population. And it no longer offers a roadmap for how they can be expected to mature.

Deep time’s uncanny future is full of ghostly human traces | Aeon Ideas

Yet almost every piece of plastic ever made remains in existence in some form, and their chemical traces are increasingly present in our bodies. It is ironic that the characteristic ‘new’ smell of PVC is the result of the unstable elements in the material decaying. Although ostensibly inert, like Chernobyl’s ‘undead’ isotopes, plastics are in fact intensely lively, leaching endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Single-use plastic might seem to disappear when I dispose of it, but it (and therefore I) will nonetheless continue to act on the environments in which it persists for millennia.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Nice Guys (2016) **

Begins promisingly as an amusing retro-noir but seems to care more about ostentatious displays of 70's-ness instead of any connection to physical or emotional reality. Russ Crowe does a nice job.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Syria’s “Voice of Conscience” Has a Message for the West

What do you say to those who concede that Bashar al-Assad is a tyrant but argue that he is a lesser evil than ISIS and should be kept in power to preserve stability?

For us, as Syrians, let me be frank: ISIS is the lesser evil. They have killed maybe 10,000 people, whereas Bashar al-Assad has killed hundreds of thousands. Ask yourself how anyone could tolerate such a situation. Could you imagine that in 10 or 15 years, after crushing all opposition, perhaps the son of Bashar al-Assad will proceed to rule the country after him? How horrible. How criminal. If Bashar al-Assad survives, after killing hundreds of thousands of people, expatriating 5 million more, displacing 6 million within the country, inviting the Iranians and the Russians and Shia militias from around the world to invade Syria, if such an abhorrent criminal survives and maintains his political power, the world will be a much worse place for everyone.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Café Society (2016) **

Stunningly photographed (a little too much yellow in the color correction however), this Woody Allen film is better than most thanks to Kristen Stewart who walks away with the flick.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Most Important WikiLeaks Revelation Isn’t About Hillary Clinton | New Republic

Michael Froman, who is now U.S. trade representative but at the time was an executive at Citigroup, wrote an email to Podesta on October 6, 2008, with the subject “Lists.” Froman used a Citigroup email address. He attached three documents: a list of women for top administration jobs, a list of non-white candidates, and a sample outline of 31 cabinet-level positions and who would fill them. “The lists will continue to grow,” Froman wrote to Podesta, “but these are the names to date that seem to be coming up as recommended by various sources for senior level jobs.”

The cabinet list ended up being almost entirely on the money. It correctly identified Eric Holder for the Justice Department, Janet Napolitano for Homeland Security, Robert Gates for Defense, Rahm Emanuel for chief of staff, Peter Orszag for the Office of Management and Budget, Arne Duncan for Education, Eric Shinseki for Veterans Affairs, Kathleen Sebelius for Health and Human Services, Melody Barnes for the Domestic Policy Council, and more. For the Treasury, three possibilities were on the list: Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, and Timothy Geithner.

This was October 6. The election was November 4. And yet Froman, an executive at Citigroup, which would ultimately become the recipient of the largest bailout from the federal government during the financial crisis, had mapped out virtually the entire Obama cabinet, a month before votes were counted.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Mascots (2016) **

Disappointing near-reboot of Best In Show is not nearly as funny but it does manage a few guffaws. Note to director Chris Guest: Modesto, CA is not funny.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Knight of Cups (2015) **

A journey that doesn't go anywhere is interesting as a concept, unsatisfying as a movie. Beautifully shot images in the Malick style, good actors trying their hardest to do something.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Sunshine Cleaning (2008) **

Tries too hard to be quirky, and the direction is unoriginal and uninspired, but this indie dramedy is watchable thanks to the two leads.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Naoko Yamano Talks Kurt Cobain, Deep-Fried Shrimp, and 35 Years of Shonen Knife

What’s the future of Shonen Knife? Will we be talking during your 50th anniversary?

Fiftieth anniversary? How old will we be during the 50th? Hmm. But I’ll be younger than Sir Paul McCartney. I’d like to continue as long as I can. I have to keep myself healthy and continue to play tennis.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Alcohol Is An Antidepressant Too

I have to believe when Science discovers that alcohol also makes everyone around you more interesting, keeps you from wanting to be alone all the time and allows you to, even for a few hours, say things without your brain screaming, “Shut up you stupid idiot, why would anyone ever care what you think about anything?” it will caution against enjoying those effects for the same reason. The reason is Science hates you and doesn’t want you to be happy. You and Science have a lot in common, if you think about it.

Monday, September 19, 2016

President Trump’s First Term - The New Yorker

On rare occasions, a President’s nuclear orders have been too unsettling for his staff to accept. In October, 1969, Richard Nixon told Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird to put nuclear forces on high alert. According to Sagan, the Stanford nuclear-arms specialist, Nixon hoped that the Soviets would suspect that he was willing to attack North Vietnam. Laird was appalled, and he tried an excuse: the alert would conflict with a scheduled military exercise. Sagan recalls, “He understood that Richard Nixon believed in the so-called ‘madman theory’”—deterring aggression by encouraging America’s rivals to suspect that Nixon was irrational. “But Mel Laird believed that the madman theory was pretty crazy, and that threatening to use nuclear weapons over something like Vietnam was not going to be effective, and might actually be dangerous. He tried to delay implementing the President’s orders, in the hopes that Nixon would calm down. Nixon did that a lot; he would make an angry comment, and if you ignored it he wouldn’t come back to it.” In this instance, Nixon did not forget, and Laird eventually complied. The operation, hastily organized, went poorly: eighteen B-52s, loaded with nuclear weapons, flew toward the Soviet Union. Some came dangerously close to other aircraft, an incident that an after-action report ruled “unsafe.”

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Wind in the Willows - Chapter 7

As they stared blankly. in dumb misery deepening as they slowly realised all they had seen and all they had lost, a capricious little breeze, dancing up from the surface of the water, tossed the aspens, shook the dewy roses and blew lightly and caressingly in their faces; and with its soft touch came instant oblivion. For this is the last best gift that the kindly demi- god is careful to bestow on those to whom he has revealed himself in their helping: the gift of forgetfulness. Lest the awful remembrance should remain and grow, and overshadow mirth and pleasure, and the great haunting memory should spoil all the after-lives of little animals helped out of difficulties, in order that they should be happy and lighthearted as before.

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years (2016) ***

I say in speeches that a plausible mission of artists is to make people appreciate being alive at least a little bit. I am then asked if I know of any artists who pulled that off. I reply, 'The Beatles did'.
Kurt Vonnegut, Timequake, 1997

The film is a welcome reminder of the joy and hope The Beatles brought at a time when we needed it most. In the long run, it didn't matter. (Does anything? CAN anything?) But lives are lived in the short run and Vonnegut is absolutely correct.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Lost in America (1985) ****

Albert Brooks' best film. His character is still the total schmuck but at least he gets his just desserts throughout the picture instead of just once at the end so he's easier to take. But did everybody really wear so many sweaters in the '80's?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) ****

One of Woody's best blends of comedy and drama with a fine group of actors and his usual directorial flair.

Friday, September 09, 2016

The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001) **

Not played broadly enough to compensate for major casting errors, it still has a plethora of good one-liners some gorgeous art direction and cinematography to recommend.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

1966 interview with William Shatner - Framework - Photos and Video - Visual Storytelling from the Los Angeles Times

The high point of his career, however, remains “The Intruder,” which is the original title of “I Hate Your Guts!” (it was also known for a while as “The Stranger”). Made on location under the direction of Roger Corman, best known for his stylish adaptions of Edgar Allan Poe, it is the boldest, most realistic depiction of racial injustice ever shown in American films and is based on an actual incident.

“It’s the best I’ve ever done,” says Shatner, who superbly portrays a satanic rabble-rouser who quickly reduces a small town on the eve of integration to a state of chaos.

“Our setting was the boot heel of Missouri. Discrimination was worse than in the Deep South because there the white southerners have taken a position – the lines of war were clearly marked. But here it was a fringe area and therefore more explosive.

“Literally, this movie was made at the risk of our lives. We even has escape plans. The state militia had to be called in when we shot scenes depicting the Ku Klux Klan bombing a Negro church.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Woody Allen Interview (Which He Won't Read) | Hollywood Reporter

How has your wife, Soon-Yi, changed you?

Oh, well, one of the great experiences of my life has been my wife. She had a very, very difficult upbringing in Korea: She was an orphan on the streets, living out of trash cans and starving as a 6-year-old. And she was picked up and put in an orphanage. And so I've been able to really make her life better. I provided her with enormous opportunities, and she has sparked to them. She's educated herself and has tons of friends and children and got a college degree and went to graduate school, and she has traveled all over with me now. She's very sophisticated and has been to all the great capitals of Europe. She has just become a different person. So the contributions I've made to her life have given me more pleasure than all my films.

You're saying how you changed her. How has she changed you?

(Allen pauses.) Well, she's given me a lot of pleasure. I adore her, and she's given me a wonderful life. We've been married 20 years. And we were together for a few years before that. And she has given me the great years of my life, personally. She's a great companion and a great wife. She has given me a stable and wonderful home life and great companionship. I guess whenever you meet somebody and they're the right person for you, there is a great emotional contribution they make to your life.

But has she changed you in any way?

WTF dude? Are spouses SUPPOSED to change each other? Is that a thing?

Friday, August 26, 2016

U.S. Secret Bombing of Cambodia |

The initial operation was authorized by then President Richard Nixon, but without the knowledge or approval of U.S. Congress. The bombings became public knowledge in 1973, after which they were stopped.
The United States dropped upwards of 2.7 million tons of bombs on Cambodia, exceeding the amount it had dropped on Japan during WWII (including Hiroshima and Nagasaki) by almost a million tons. During this time, about 30 per cent of the country's population was internally displaced.

Laos: Thousands suffering from the deadly aftermath of US bomb campaign | World news | The Guardian

It is 50 years since the first US combat troops entered Vietnam in March 1965. During that notorious conflict, the US dropped more than 270 million bombs in Laos as part of a CIA-run, top-secret operation aimed at destroying the North Vietnamese supply routes along the Ho Chi Minh trail and wiping out its local communist allies.

One-third of the bombs failed to explode on impact and have since claimed an average of 500 victims a year, mainly children and farmers forced to work on their contaminated fields to sustain their families. Despite tens of millions of dollars spent, only 1% of Laos territory has been cleared so far.

Our Little Sister (2015) ***

A beautifully made film, guaranteed to lift your spirits and leave you with a warm and contented feeling with a bare minimum of schmaltz. Reminiscent of Ozu but doesn't achieve the gravitas of the master.

Monday, August 22, 2016

A Farewell to Ice by Peter Wadhams review – climate change writ large | Books | The Guardian

Wadhams puts this plainly. “There is no period in Earth’s history where the rate of rise of atmospheric CO2 is as great as it is today.” The asteroid that finished the dinosaurs blasted 4.5 gigatonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, “yet the CO2 rate rise [in the aftermath] was still an order of magnitude lower than the current rate”.

via J Barger

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Paul McCartney Looks Back: The Rolling Stone Interview

Are there people you can turn to now for advice about a new song or album?
In music, no. I rely on the experience and knowledge of what would have happened if I'd brought it to the Beatles. That is the best gauge.

What about life in general?
I have some very good friends. Lorne Michaels and I are pretty close. I can always go for a drink with him – we can talk pretty genuinely. I have relatives, my brother and my wife. Nancy is very strong that way. But music, no. It's very difficult. You can't top John. And John couldn't top Paul.

Wait, what???

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Wetherby (1985) **

An all star British cast including the incomparable and radiant Ms. Redgrave are told to fill in the blanks basically and try very hard to do so. They don't quite succeed.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

TCAs: Mitch Hurwitz Talks Secret 'Arrested Development' Project - Hollywood Reporter

On Wednesday, Hurwitz said he's actually recut the entirety of the 15-episode fourth season (episodes ran more than 30 minutes, with one as long as 42 minutes) into — wait for it — 22 episodes with a running time of 22 minutes.

Um, what?

It's true. And right now that creator's cut of season four — which even features new Ron Howard narration — is just sitting on a shelf. There's a lot of moving parts when it comes to Arrested Development, and who knows if those 22 episodes will appear on Netflix or some 20th Century Fox showcase of some sorts. How and when this private project of Hurwitz's sees the light of day is probably more business-based than any of us can figure out.

The important thing is just this: We need to see those 22 episodes.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Star Trek Beyond (2016) **

Marked improvement over the previous outing with some inventive action and a lot more of the "classic trek" earnestness and humor. Still way too many illogical scenes, gaping plot holes, and where the heck is Dr. Carol Marcus?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) *

Ben is not the problem in this turgid, pompous and silly waste of $250M. What hath Christopher Nolan wrought?

Monday, July 04, 2016

The Big Short (2015) **

Making a watchable film that stays remarkably faithful to its non-fiction source material is no small feat but it's not something I want to see again.

The Conjuring 2 (2016) **

Effective jump-scare flick with some distractingly bad '70's period cliches (I don't recall the plethora of awful sweaters and sideburns). Nice to see some underused talent get some screen time.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Rock the Kasbah (2015) *

Another movie that takes an actual non-white, non-male person's hard fought battle and turns it into a story about a white male's struggle to redeem himself. Reprehensible AND a waste of a top notch cast. Incredibly cliched script including, but not limited to, a hooker with a heart of gold.

The Rewrite (2014) **

Watchable thanks to an appealing and adept cast but the director keeps piling on the cliches to its detriment. Hugh Grant is actually quite good in this weak romcom.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Love & Friendship (2016) ***

A period piece/romcom impeccably cast and performed, well directed by Whit Stillman. Clever, subtle, beautiful.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Festival Drops Band Whose Drummer Supported Brock Turner

“I don’t think it’s fair to base the fate of the next ten + years of his life on the decision of a girl who doesn’t remember anything but the amount she drank to press charges against him,” Rasmussen wrote in a letter, obtained by The Cut, to Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky. “I am not blaming her directly for this, because that isn’t right. But where do we draw the line and stop worrying about being politically correct every second of the day and see that rape on campuses isn’t always because people are rapists.”

Yikes where does one even BEGIN with such statements? Basic logic doesn't stand a chance. We must remember though, she IS a drummer. ;-)

How Did Consciousness Evolve? - The Atlantic

Consider an unlikely thought experiment. If you could somehow attach an external speech mechanism to a crocodile, and the speech mechanism had access to the information in that attention schema in the crocodile’s wulst, that technology-assisted crocodile might report, “I’ve got something intangible inside me. It’s not an eyeball or a head or an arm. It exists without substance. It’s my mental possession of things. It moves around from one set of items to another. When that mysterious process in me grasps hold of something, it allows me to understand, to remember, and to respond.”

The crocodile would be wrong, of course. Covert attention isn’t intangible. It has a physical basis, but that physical basis lies in the microscopic details of neurons, synapses, and signals. The brain has no need to know those details. The attention schema is therefore strategically vague. It depicts covert attention in a physically incoherent way, as a non-physical essence. And this, according to the theory, is the origin of consciousness. We say we have consciousness because deep in the brain, something quite primitive is computing that semi-magical self-description. Alas crocodiles can’t really talk. But in this theory, they’re likely to have at least a simple form of an attention schema.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Dame Helen Mirren: 'I love no longer being a sex symbol'

‘I have absolutely no beauty regime,’ she says in that perfectly modulated, husky voice. ‘I sunbathe – I know I shouldn’t but I love sitting in the sun. I drink wine and occasionally I’ll drink to excess. I eat French fries. I’ve never managed to go to the gym for longer than two months. I always forget to take my vitamins.

‘I’ve done everything but I haven’t done too much of anything – I’ve never had a Coca-Cola, ever. Sometimes I use hotel body lotion as conditioner for my hair. I’m not particular. Life is too short and too precious.’

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Roetemeyer, Joanne "Josie" - Kutis Funeral Home

Empty-handed I entered the world
Barefoot I leave it.
My coming, my going — Two simple happenings
That got entangled.
-- Kozan Ichikyo's Death Poem

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Good Dinosaur (2015) *

Unsettling combination of photo-realistic background animation (they have NAILED oceans, rivers, all things aquatic by the way) and Flintstones-style dinosaurs (who have developed language, agriculture and animal husbandry) in a by-the-numbers story. Disappointing from Pixar.

Bowfinger (1999) **

Some laughs especially in the first half, but falters badly in the second. Disappointing for Steve Martin.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Your brain does not process information and it is not a computer | Aeon Essays

Misleading headlines notwithstanding, no one really has the slightest idea how the brain changes after we have learned to sing a song or recite a poem. But neither the song nor the poem has been ‘stored’ in it. The brain has simply changed in an orderly way that now allows us to sing the song or recite the poem under certain conditions. When called on to perform, neither the song nor the poem is in any sense ‘retrieved’ from anywhere in the brain, any more than my finger movements are ‘retrieved’ when I tap my finger on my desk. We simply sing or recite – no retrieval necessary.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Dear "Skeptics," Bash Homeopathy and Bigfoot Less, Mammograms and War More - Scientific American Blog Network

Over the past half-century, physicians and hospitals have introduced increasingly sophisticated, expensive tests. They assure us that early detection of disease will lead to better health.
But tests often do more harm than good. For every woman whose life is extended because a mammogram detected a tumor, up to 33 receive unnecessary treatment, including biopsies, surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. For men diagnosed with prostate cancer after a PSA test, the ratio is 47 to one. Similar data are emerging on colonoscopies and other tests.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Too Late (2016) ****

A masterpiece of film making from start to finish. A stern rebuke to the fast edit, quick cut, extreme closeup directing style. Terrific cast, imaginative direction, excellent neo-noir beautifully shot on real film. An instant classic.

[The film was completed in 2015 but not released in theaters until 2016.]

Interview: Dennis Hauck on Taking on “Too Late”

Was there a fair amount of running through the scenes beforehand or would you run a lot of takes?

It was usually about 10 takes per scene.
[Each scene being 20 minutes long!] We almost invariably ended up using the last take of the day, just because everyone was so dialed in and we knew the sun was going down, or the sun was coming up and just the whole crew knew, “Okay, this is our last chance to really knock it out of the park.” Three out of the five scenes were the last take of the day.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

William Friedkin on Cannes Masterclass, ‘Disaster’ of ‘Sorcerer’ | Variety

Friedkin also reveals that at one point he had superstar Steve McQueen interested in the lead role, which eventually went to his “French Connection” star Roy Scheider. McQueen backed out of the project when Friedkin refused to give a producer credit to McQueen’s then-wife Ali MacGraw or shoot the film in the states, since he had already found beautiful locations around the world. “I was so stupid and so arrogant and so out of it that I did not realize at the time — which I do now — that a close-up of Steve McQueen is worth the most beautiful landscape in the world.”

Thursday, May 05, 2016

To Catch a Thief (1955) **

Eminently enjoyable, but not in Hitch's top tier. Cary, Grace and La Côte d'Azur are well worth watching regardless.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Daisy Miller (1974) ****

Terrific showcase for Cybill Shepherd and she delivers a standout performance in a well directed period piece. Cast, photography, costumes, production design, it's all there and all top notch.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Jungle Book (2016) **

Convincingly solves at least 2 problems with previous CGI heavy films: they got the eyes right, and the lighting (typically very dark) is not an issue. Hard to call this a "live action" film since everything but Mowgli is purportedly animated, but it is a technical marvel and enjoyable on that level alone. Everything else is mediocre owing to director Jon Favreau's constant eye on the bottom line approach to film making.

'Taxi Driver' Oral History: De Niro, Scorsese, Foster, Schrader Spill All on 40th Anniversary - Hollywood Reporter

PAUL SCHRADER (screenwriter) I had a series of things falling apart, a breakdown of my marriage, a dispute with the AFI, I lost my reviewing job. I didn't have any money and I took to drifting, more or less living in my car, drinking a lot, fantasizing. The Pussycat Theater in L.A. would be open all night long, and I'd go there to sleep. Between the drinking and the morbid thinking and the pornography, I went to the emergency room with a bleeding ulcer. I was about 27, and when I was in the hospital, I realized I hadn't spoken to anyone in almost a month. So that's when the metaphor of the taxi cab occurred to me — this metal coffin that moves through the city with this kid trapped in it who seems to be in the middle of society but is in fact all alone. I knew if I didn't write about this character I was going to start to become him — if I hadn't already.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Robert De Niro: 'Every day for 40 years someone has said: You talkin' to me?' | Film | The Guardian

Bernard Herrmann’s jazzy score for Taxi Driver is justly revered. Yet the legendary composer almost didn’t do the project, which would turn out to be his last. Producer Michael Phillips recalled a meeting with Herrmann, where the musician sneered: “I don’t do movies about cabbies.” Scorsese then met with Herrmann, convincing him to give Taxi Driver a shot. “[Herrmann] liked it,” Scorsese said of the script. “Especially when Travis poured peach brandy on his cereal in the morning. He really liked that.”

Scientists can now make lithium-ion batteries last a lifetime | Computerworld

"Mya was playing around, and she coated this whole thing with a very thin gel layer and started to cycle it," Penner, chair of UCI's chemistry department, said in a statement. "She discovered that just by using this gel, she could cycle it hundreds of thousands of times without losing any capacity."

"That was crazy," he added, "because these things typically die in dramatic fashion after 5,000 or 6,000 or 7,000 cycles at most."

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Harry and Tonto (1974) **

A little too unrealistic for any sort of drama and not funny enough to be a comedy. Tries too hard to be quirky at times. Still some memorable scenes and the overall themes are worth exploring. Plus it's good to see evidence that not too terribly long ago it was possible for the elderly and less well off to actually live and work in our great cities.

Pee-wee's Big Holiday (2016) **

For fans only, but if you are this is a well done riff on the Pee-wee universe. Nicely cast and Reubens is a gifted performer even if he is definitely way too old for the part by now.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Best in Show (2000) ***

John Michael Higgins steals the show from a top notch comedy cast in Christopher Guest's second best mockumentary.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

The sugar conspiracy | Ian Leslie | Society | The Guardian

One of the scientists who called for the retraction of Nina Teicholz’s BMJ article, who requested that our conversation be off the record, complained that the rise of social media has created a “problem of authority” for nutrition science. “Any voice, however mad, can gain ground,” he told me.

The problem of authority for nutrition "science" as it currently exists is not due to the internet but being horribly and disastrously wrong for such a long time. Hopefully this can change that.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

A programming language for living cells | MIT News

Users of the new programming language, however, need no special knowledge of genetic engineering.
“You could be completely naive as to how any of it works. That’s what’s really different about this,” Voigt says. “You could be a student in high school and go onto the Web-based server and type out the program you want, and it spits back the DNA sequence.”

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Marcia Clark’s Final Verdict on People v. O.J. -- Vulture

They asked for his testimony to be read back because he stated that when he pulled up to the driveway he noticed two cars in the driveway. And when Johnnie was cross-examining him Johnnie laughed and said, "Well, of course, that's not true, Arnelle was not home yet.” Alan Park was remembering the photos taken by the police after the fact. I asked him about that and he said, "Yeah that's true so there might have only been one car.” It wasn't really important to me how many cars were in the driveway. It wasn't important to anyone. But the jury said, Oh see. He said there were two cars in the driveway, so we can't trust anything he says. And if there could ever be a more clear illustration of the fact that a jury will buy exactly and only what they want to buy, that has to be it.

And if there could ever be a more clear illustration of the fact that a prosecutor will buy exactly and only what they want to buy, THAT has to be it. The prosecution bungled this case because they had too much faith in the blood evidence and never considered alternate defense tactics and ways to counter. Eyewitness testimony is typically least convincing, least accurate. I would've disregarded this testimony also and not because I had the verdict decided in advance.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Erik Bauersfeld, radio dramatist and ‘Admiral Ackbar’ voice, dies at 93 - SFGate

But he was best known in popular culture for voicing Ackbar in “Return of the Jedi” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” as well as being the voice for the “Return of the Jedi” character Bib Fortuna. Bauersfeld was a last-minute recruit for both roles; he said he provided lines for the characters in about 45 minutes with little direction from sound designer Ben Burtt.
“I went over, he showed me the picture of Admiral Ackbar, and I did it,” Bauersfeld told the Chronicle in 2012. “I saw the face, and I knew what he must sound like.”

Thursday, March 31, 2016

‘Minimal’ cell raises stakes in race to harness synthetic life : Nature News & Comment

With nearly all of its nutrients supplied through growth media, syn3.0’s essential genes tend to be those involved in cellular chores such as making proteins, copying DNA and building cellular membranes. Astoundingly, Venter says that his team could not identify the function of 149 of the genes in syn3.0’s genome, many of which are found in other life forms, including humans. “We don’t know about a third of essential life, and we’re trying to sort that out now,” he says.

Elvis Costello 2016-03-30 San Francisco ****

There's still no denying the man's a great performer and drawing on his own vast songbook and a nicely designed selection of covers he makes a set list that tells a tale, comments on contemporary issues and characters and still manages to be funny, touching, poignant and thoroughly entertaining. Still waiting for the acoustic version of "Episode of Blonde" however. ;-)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Interpretation of Screams -

George Lucas, in fact, later asked Lynch to direct Return of the Jedi. Of the roads not taken in film history, that was a highway Lynch was wise to avoid. He worked for hire on The Elephant Man and Dune before he fully abandoned notions of a conventional Hollywood career to make Blue Velvet in 1986. The Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin calls it “the last real earthquake to hit cinema.”

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

George Martin, Beatles Producer, Has Died | News | Pitchfork

He was a prolific producer beyond his work with the Beatles, helming records by Kate Bush, Jeff Beck, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Cilla Black, America, Billy J. Kramer, Cheap Trick, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Celine Dion, the Action, and solo efforts by Starr and Paul McCartney. He produced Elton John's 1997 single "Candle in the Wind," which is one of the best-selling songs of all time. He won several Grammy Awards over the years and was nominated for an Oscar for his work on A Hard Day's Night. He was knighted in 1996.

Tremendous talent. Still startling to listen to The Beatles' recordings and hear the precision and imagination in the arrangements. Perfect production.

Friday, March 04, 2016

The Visit (2015) *

An embarrassing attempt at a found footage fright flick by a director who should know better. Strained dialogue, extremely unfunny attempts at humor and a plot twist that's visible from Jupiter. Annoyingly bad.

AI & The Future Of Civilization |

It's another part of the Copernican story, so to speak. We used to think Earth was the center of the universe. Now at least we think we're special because we have intelligence and nothing else does. I'm afraid the bad news is that that isn't a distinction. By the way, that lack of a distinction is pretty critical for thinking about the future of the human condition.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Terrence Malick Madness: 5 Most Bizarre Takeaways From 'Knight of Cups' On-Set Story

It wasn’t until three days before the shoot that the actor was told the scene was a party in the Hollywood Hills. And nothing more.

Malick had no script to provide his actors during filming, all they were given were cards with phrases meant to inspire them during filming.

“We’re all standing there and Malick hands out these pieces of paper to all of us,” Lennon said. “And the one he gave me said, ‘There’s no such thing as a fireproof wall.’ And I ask, ‘Is this something I’m supposed to say in the scene?’ and he said, ‘I don’t know.'”

Monday, February 29, 2016

George Kennedy, ‘Cool Hand Luke’ Actor, Dies at 91 - SFGate

Kennedy’s grandson Cory Schenkel told TMZ that Kennedy had been in failing health since the death of his wife Joan slightly more than a year ago, and had been in hospice care for a month.

"He was smiling... That's right. You know, that, that Luke smile of his. He had it on his face right to the very end. Hell, if they didn't know it 'fore, they could tell right then that they weren't a-gonna beat him. That old Luke smile. Oh, Luke. He was some boy. Cool Hand Luke. Hell, he's a natural-born world-shaker."

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Witch (2015) ***

Like Barry Lyndon, a mostly successful attempt to make a period film from the perspective of the time portrayed not the time it was made. Director Eggers does not, as yet, match the visual genius of Kubrick but his film is remarkably concise, direct, well acted and thought provoking.

Aeon: Consciousness Creep

But who’s to say machines don’t already have minds? What if they take unexpected forms, such as networks that have achieved a group-level consciousness? What if artificial intelligence is so unfamiliar that we have a hard time recognising it? Could our machines have become self-aware without our even knowing it? The huge obstacle to addressing such questions is that no one is really sure what consciousness is, let alone whether we’d know it if we saw it. In his 2012 book, Consciousness, the neuroscientist Christof Koch speculated that the web might have achieved sentience, and then posed the essential question: ‘By what signs shall we recognise its consciousness?’

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Zero Theorem (2013) ***

There's a lot to chew on in this Gilliam fantasy that isn't fully realized but comes tantalizingly close. Terrific supporting performances from Lucas Hedges and Mélanie Thierry.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Anomalisa (2015) ****

Another brilliant Charlie Kaufman flick where nothing much happens and characters don't learn any life lessons or change. You know, like real life.

Clouds of Sils Maria (2014) **

Despite the nice work from its leads and the gorgeous Swiss countryside, it never seems to rise above its "A" soap opera story line to something meaningful to non-actors.

Monday, February 08, 2016


"We also use 'consciousness' for all sorts of ideas about what we are. Most of these are based on old myths, superstitions, philosophies, and other acquired collections of memes. We use these in part to prevent ourselves from trying to understand how we work-and in older times that was useful because that would have been such a hopeless quest. For example, I see that lamp in this room. That perception seems utterly simple to me-so direct and immediate that the process seems quite irreducible. You just look at it and see what it is. But today we know much more about what actually happens when you see a lamp. It involves processes in many parts of the brain, and in many billions of neurons. Whatever traces those processes leave, they're not available to the rest of you. Thus, the parts of you that might try to explain why and how you do what you do, do not have good data for doing that job. When you ask yourself how you recognize things, or how you chose the words you say, you have no way to directly find out. It's as though your seeing and speaking machines were located in some unobservable place. You can only observe their external behaviors, but you have no access to their interior. This is why, I think, we so like that idea that thinking takes place in a mental world, that is separate from the world that contains our bodies and similar 'real' things. That's why most people are 'dualists.' They've never been shown good alternatives."

RIP Marvin Minsky.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Hail, Caesar! (2016) **

A fine cast, impeccable production but disjointed and disappointing. Comes across as a series of sketches about studio-era Hollywood but there's no rug to tie it all together. Smart, but no heart.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Blue Crush (2002) **

Formulaic sports flick but the Hawaiian locales and appealing cast are worth it.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Pretty Maids All in a Row (1971) **

Almost HAS to be watched as a satire/black comedy, but aside from some cutesy character names ("Surcher" for the detective, "Tiger" for the football coach) it is played as a straight murder mystery/sex romp so it doesn't always work as entertainment. However as a time capsule of 1971 Hollywood it is a hoot and essential viewing.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Twelve Monkeys (1995) ***

Well put together sci-fi time travel flick stylishly directed by Terry Gilliam.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Economist's View: 'Paul Krugman, Bernie Sanders, and Medicare for All'

We do have to pay for the research, but the way we are now doing it is incredibly backward. It is like paying the firefighters when they show up at the burning house with our family inside. Of course we would pay them millions to save our family (if we had the money), but it is nutty to design a system that puts us in this situation.

Friday, January 15, 2016

How the Brain Perceives Color Could Help Explain Consciousness - The Atlantic

The human brain insists it has consciousness, with all the phenomenological mystery, because it constructs information to that effect. The brain is captive to the information it contains. It knows nothing else. This is why a delusional person can say with such confidence, “I’m a kangaroo rat. I know it’s true because, well, it’s true.” The consciousness we describe is non-physical, confusing, irreducible, and unexplainable, because that packet of information in the brain is incoherent. It’s a quick sketch.

What’s it a sketch of? The brain processes information. It focuses its processing resources on this or that chunk of data. That’s the complex, mechanistic act of a massive computer. The brain also describes this act to itself. That description, shaped by millions of years of evolution, weird and quirky and stripped of details, depicts a “me” and a state of subjective consciousness.

This is why we can’t explain how the brain produces consciousness. It’s like explaining how white light gets purified of all colors. The answer is, it doesn’t. Let me be as clear as possible: Consciousness doesn’t happen. It’s a mistaken construct.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Anomalisa Interview: Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson Speak

You never let David Thewlis’ Michael Stone off the hook for some really unhealthy behavior. He’s a fascinating trainwreck of a character. Were you ever tempted to make him more more instantly relatable or, dare I say, likable?

Kaufman: I would never be involved in any production that would try to make any character more likable. This goes back to the thing I said just previous to this. It’s the wrong thing to do. It’s thinking about the eventual audience and not the work that you’re doing. Not being true. We had zero conversations about making anyone likable. I think some people are more likable than other people in this movie. You say this is damning of Michael and I feel that’s your interpretation of it. I’m not saying you’re wrong. In fact, I’m saying you’re right. That’s your interpretation of it. That’s not the only interpretation of it. That’s an interpretation of it. I try, and Duke tries, to have things be layered enough that what you bring to it as a viewer is supported. Your interpretation is going to be supported. This movie doesn’t come to any conclusions about anything. It puts Michael through a weekend. From his point of view, you get to see that weekend.

Kroenke, the 'victim'? That's the story he's telling in LA : Sports

Q: You’ve developed real estate for something like 40 years; what made the site so attractive?

Kroenke: I’ve done this countless times, literally hundreds of deals. You just look for certain things. For example, (at) Hollywood Park, there’s a Target store and development right next door. Starbucks is there. These are people we’re very familiar with. We do developments with them. For me it’s starting to click.

Wow, the man is a freaking GENIUS!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones exults in Rams relocation : Sports

Even as the Rams are leaving St. Louis, McNair said he thinks the city should try to lure another NFL team.

“I think they should keep trying,” McNair said. “Hopefully they can improve their situation and attract someone. I think the market is still there, but the stadium proposal just didn’t meet the standards that the Rams felt they could live with.”

And that standard was they wanted a new stadium for free. Again.

Monday, January 11, 2016

David Bowie - obituary - Telegraph

David Bowie, who has died of cancer a few days after turning 69, was a rock musician of rare originality and talent; he was also, variously, a producer, painter, film actor, art critic, the progenitor of bisexual chic, a family man and an astute multi-millionaire.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Most Violent Year (2014) **

It's very well made, with fine performances from the well-cast ensemble but I never really cared about the story or characters and it felt a little tedious at times.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) **

Silly, preposterous and nonsensical reboot of Thunderdome this time in 3-D with some impressive CGI. Almost merits 3 stars due to a terrific Tom Hardy, superb photography and crisp editing. Well directed by eclectic George Miller with minimal closeups.

Monday, January 04, 2016

2015 In Review: Movies

**** Mistress America
*** A Very Murray Christmas
*** Ex Machina
*** Inside Out
*** Shaun The Sheep Movie
*** Trainwreck
** Crimson Peak
** Fifty Shades Of Grey
** Irrational Man
** Jupiter Ascending
** Spectre
** Star Wars: The Force Awakens
** Survivor
* Insidious: Chapter 3
* Maggie
* Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation

2015 In Review: Music

**** Corner Laughers, The - Matilda Effect
**** Crocodiles - Boys
**** Decemberists, The - Florasongs
**** Menace Beach - Ratworld
**** Rose McDowall - Cut With the Cake Knife
**** Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin - The High Country
**** Talk In Tongues - Alone with a Friend
**** Twerps, The - Range Anxiety
**** Veruca Salt - ghost notes
*** Albert Hammond Jr. - Momentary Masters
*** All Dogs - Kicking Every Day
*** Belle and Sebastian - girls in peacetime want to dance
*** Colleen Green - i want to grow up
*** Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I sit and think, and sometimes I just sit
*** Dengue Fever - The Deepest Lake
*** Electric Light Orchestra - Alone In The Universe
*** Flyying Colours - ROYGBIV
*** Metric - pagans in vegas
*** Pure Bathing Culture - Pray For Rain
*** Regular Einstein - Chimp Haven
*** Richard Thompson - Still
*** Sleater-Kinney - no cities to love
*** Summer Fiction - himalaya
*** Surfer Blood - 1000 palms
*** Swervedriver - i wasn't born to lose you
*** Waxahatchee - Ivy Tripp
** Beach House - Depression Cherry
** Chills, The - Silver Bullets
** Decemberists, The - What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World
** Enya - Dark Sky Island
** Everything Everything - Get To Heaven
** Florence and The Machine - How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
** Julia Holter - Have You In My Wilderness
** Mew - +-
** Mikal Cronin - MCIII
** No Joy - More Faithful
** Orange Peels, The - Begin the Begone
** pinkshinyultrablast - everything else matters
** Potty Mouth - potty mouth
** Wilco - Star Wars
* Joe Jackson - Fast Forward
* Kathryn Calder - Kathryn Calder
* Squeeze - Cradle To The Grave
* the smoking trees - tst
* They Might Be Giants - Glean
* Torres - Sprinter

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Mistress America (2015) ****

Delightful screwball-chamber comedy mashup. Greta Gerwig seems to have picked up some influences from a few of her other films and Baumbach directs with his usual economy and subtlety.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) **

Disappointing reboot of the original with two dull leads and a way too similar plot. The best thing about it is some superb CGI animation, particularly the Maz character.