All posts filed under: Film

I predicted every one of these would be hits. Also, "Pixels."

The Worst 2015 Box Office Predictions Ever

Sometimes I wonder, “Why doesn’t Hollywood call to ask my opinion about what kinds of movies they should be releasing? Surely I have the type of incisive man-on-the-street insight they’re looking for.” And then I think about the movies I predicted would be hits this year, and I remember that I’m an idiot. If you recall, last January I came up with a list of 10 movies that didn’t have “Star Wars,” “Avengers” or “Jurassic Park” in the title that I predicted would be the box office hits filling in the blanks around those tentpole blockbusters. What I learned from that endeavor is that it’s probably not a good idea to base your pre-release opinion of a movie on the official studio descriptions. Apparently they’re notorious for failing to mention when the movie will suck. But don’t take my word for it — here are the 10 films I picked, along with a roundup of how they actually performed. (Grosses via Box Office Mojo.) 1) “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water” Rotten Tomatoes score: …

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2015: ANOTHER FINE YEAR!

So it’s the time of the season, when I get into that reflective mood and begin working my way backwards over the year’s music, books, movies, etc.  And 2015 was equally as rich as 2014 was, so I thought I’d share some of what I feel are the highest of nearly-innumerable high points over these last twelve months.  I acquired quite a lot of music – some purchased, some sent for review; I saw as many shows as my schedule would allow and read as much as my free time would give – which, of course, also means that my own new album is slower in coming along than I’d hoped (actually, it’s just stalled at the station for the time being), but it’s worth it.  And this year-end review is to help turn some of you on to these good/great/amazing things, in case you hadn’t heard about them previously.  So let us begin: TOP 3 ALBUMS FOR 2015:  these were the three albums that I listened to most often, after their respective releases.  There …

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DVD REVIEW: “Jaco”

There are few people I can think of who come close to the sheer/unadulterated musical genius, skill and chops of Jaco Pastorius – the nearest that comes to mind is the late John Entwistle, the bass player extraordinaire for The Who.  But Entwistle was firmly entrenched in the rock world and Jaco Pastorius was clearly from a different, more fluid musical realm.  The argument could be made that he is one of the founding fathers of what became “jazz fusion” in the 1970’s – the melding of jazz, rock and soul/funk to create a groove of its own. This brilliant documentary is a labor of love from Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo who co-produced it along with John Battsek; it was directed by Paul Marchand and Stephen Kijak,  and through the help of crowd funding, tells the story of the celebrated but tragic bass-master/legend in straightforward detail, memories and footage through family, friends and fellow players.  Among the giant names interviewed are Bootsy Collins, Sting, Herbie Hancock, Joni Mitchell, Flea and Wayne Shorter; two of Jaco’s …

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Review: Kurt Cobain – Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings (Deluxe Edition)

Kurt Cobain’s first solo record – recently released 21 years after his 1994 suicide and paired with a suspect “documentary” film project of revisionist mythmaking and iconography – is a jumbled, scraping-barrel-bottom mess of an affair. It’s not to say that, for die-hard fans, there are not things to like about it. There are moments of, I’ll go so far as to say, genuine beauty. The opener “The Yodel Song” shows how easily Cobain could toss off a Nirvana-style melody without giving a second thought, and tunes like “The Happy Guitar” make you feel like, alone sometimes, Cobain genuinely just had a good time making music, even if – maybe especially if – there was no audience to intrude sans himself. And, yes, the acoustic take on “And I Love Her” and the instrumental “Letters To Frances” are sweet. But for every engaging moment (an epic “Do Re Mi,” a frequently bootlegged “Sappy” demo, the Melvins-ish “Reverb Experiment”) there’s a lot of grime. The scattered montages and audio collages, while interesting ephemera, are dated sonically and haven’t aged …

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DVD/BLU-RAY REVIEW: “Minions”

From their first appearance in 2010’s Despicable Me, the little banana-colored henchmen known as the Minions have instantly become favorites – of children and adults alike (present company included).  Their presence in the two movies (including the 2013 sequel) made the movie even funnier and added a certain innocence and sweetness.  These are simply entertaining and lovable characters. This past summer, the Minions’ story was told from the beginning in the box-office runaway smash hit, Minions.  As the synopsis tells you:  “evolving from single-celled yellow organisms at the dawn of time, Minions live to serve, but find themselves working for a continual series of unsuccessful masters, from T. Rex to Napoleon. Without a master to grovel for, the Minions fall into a deep depression. But one minion, Kevin, has a plan; accompanied by his pals Stuart and Bob, Kevin sets forth to find a new evil boss for his brethren to follow. Their search leads them to Scarlet Overkill, the world’s first-ever super-villainess.” (played hilariously by the always-delightful Sandra Bullock).  Amongst the voice talents that …

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DVD & CD REVIEW: THE BEATLES, “1+”

Objectivity be damned; this is The Beatles we’re talking about.  The single, most important cultural entity to happen in my lifetime; merely a rock and roll band who re-shaped traditions – musically and on a grander, far deeper social scale.  But not to quickly digress, they also made the most memorable and beloved music in modern history.  Two of them are now dead and they continue to live on as new, younger generations are finding them/finding out about them and how crucial they were and are, most importantly, musically. So here’s another repacking with a neat addition.  The stripped down and wildly successful 1 collection (originally released in 2000) has now been remastered and reissued with a restored DVD/Bluray set of the band’s promo films – some actually shot when the Fabs were a going entity – to create 1+.  The pictures are sharper than before; the sound is dynamic and, of course, the music is just as thrilling now as it was then. From the CD edition, you get all the singles that reached …

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DVD REVIEW: “Amphetamine Reptile – The Color Of Noise”

A lengthy and, at times, wildly entertaining look at the (long time) Minneapolis-based label/arbiters of “noise core” or whatever you care to call it.  The Color Of Noise chronicles – at detailed length, which gives great insight into Amphetamine Reptile’s story – the foundation and rise to this label and its founder, ex-U.S. Marine, Tom Hazelmyer.  Done with a great deal of humor, the label, Hazelmyer and the history unfolds an important link to the mid-’80’s rise of “American Underground” and what was to follow throughout the early ’90’s. By establishing AmRep as an outlet for his own outfit, Halo Of Flies (which had been turned down by several labels), it opened the door to many other groups who would gain a great deal of traction:  The Melvins, Helmet, Helios Creed, The Cows and so on.  Aside from a musical forum, AmRep also helped shape its own sense of style with the graphics and designers employed to do the album covers and poster art, none more famous than Frank Kozik. Aside from the necessary factual …

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DVD REVIEW: ADAM ANT, “The Blueblack Hussar”

What can one say about someone who was as entertaining and enjoyable as Adam Ant; when he and the (second version) Ants came upon these shores in 1980 with “Antmusic” and “Dog Eat Dog”, it was impossible not to get a kick out of those songs.  Their look was different; they had a certain charm, style and playfulness about them and they knew how to write a catchy hook.  While Ant’s moment in the sun faded by the late ’80’s, I always sing along whenever any of the Ants tracks (or “Friend Or Foe”) comes on the radio. Over the last five or so years, Adam Ant has found himself unfortunately in the British headlines at times, due to what has been found to be emotional problems (I’m trying my best to be diplomatic and sensitive to what the man has gone through).  Somehow, starting in 2012, he decided to try and stage a comeback in England.  During this comeback period, filmmaker Jack Bond began filming Mr. Ant as he prepared to do shows, rehearsed …