All posts tagged: Scott Malchus

Basement Songs: Living Colour, “Broken Hearts”

Living Colour are a band I wouldn’t have invested in if it weren’t for Steve. In ’88 and ’89, I’m sure I would have latched on to their funky metal anthems of their debut album, Vivid, like the rest of the general public when “Cult of Personality” and “Glamour Boys” were living on the airwaves and the band was opening for the Stones. But I never would have dug deeper into their album and heard songs like “Desperate People” or “Broken Hearts.” I’m surprised that Steve was at all interested in the band; he’s never been a metal head. But I believe the band’s mixture of hip hop, hard rock and socially conscious lyrics, combined with the heart they wore on their sleeves, made them appealing. Then again, “Broken Hearts” is a hell of a song. For my first spring break, in ‘89, I climbed in a compact car with two girls I’d known since childhood and drove straight through the night, leaving behind cold Cleveland weather until we reached the southern warmth of Chapel …

DVD review: Travolta and Williams are old and tired in “Old Dogs”

Old Dogs, the latest family comedy from Walt Disney Pictures, certainly lives up to its title. The jokes and situations are tired and have been seen hundreds of times in one form or another making this is one of the weakest films I’ve seen in a long time, especially coming from a major studio. The only laughs I got out of this movie came from the cameos by Justin Long and the small screen time allotted to the hyper talented Seth Green. If Disney wants to make a movie starring those two guys, I’d buy a ticket for it right away. Unfortunately, their leads are John Travolta and Robin Williams, trying to wring laughs out of a mediocre, cliched script, Travolta and Williams star as Charlie and Dan, lifelong best friends who run a sports marketing firm. On the eve of landing their biggest client ever, the two bachelors learn that Dan’s brief marriage to Kelly Preston’s Vicki resulted in twin children! After six years, Vicki comes to Dan for help: she’s about to go …

TV on DVD: “Matt Houston: The First Season”

In the early ’80s you had rough and tumble men who investigated crimes and brought down the bad guys. And they did it proudly with the stache. Of course, we all immediately think of Tom Selleck and Magnum P.I. The popularity of that series begat a slew of imitators, one of which was Aaron Spelling’s charming and enjoyable series, Matt Houston. Lee Horsley, starred as the mustachioed Matt Houston, a former football All American turned wealthy Texan who manages off shore drilling along the coast of California, dabbles in diamond mines, is one of the world’s most eligible bachelors, and of course, is the best private investigator in the city of Los Angeles. That’s right, Los Angeles. Fed up with the attitude of his homeland, Houston left the longhorn state and went off to make his fortune in California. Assisting him in his business affairs and helping manage his crazy lifestyle is Houston’s very own girl Friday, C.J., played with a wink and a smile by Pamela Hensley. It’s obvious from the first episode that …

DVD Review: Robin Wright Shines in “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee”

Halfway through Rebecca Miller’s excellent The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, I began to wonder whether actress Blake Lively (Gossip Girl) was channeling Robin Wright’s performance, or vice versa. Both women play the titular character at different stages in her life. It s a credit to Miller’s strong writing and focused direction that Lively and Wright, who, from what I gather, were not on set together, create one cohesive character. Their performances are just two in a movie that includes fine work by Maria Bello, Alan Arkin, Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder. In the present, Pippa Lee (Wright) is the loving wife and caretaker to retired book publisher, Herb Lee (Arkin). She is also the mother of two adult children, Ben, who respects her for all that she’s done for the family, and Grace, who resents her mom because she sees Pippa as a woman who never took any chances in life.  Herb, a refined, educated man, is thirty years older than Pippa. After three heart attacks, his doctors have insisted he take it easy. …

DVD review: Sam Rockwell can’t save “Gentlemen Broncos”

Gentlemen Broncos is the brainchild of Jared and Jerusha Hess, the creators of Napoleon Dynamite. Whereas that cult classic was able to capitalize on the quirks of small town Utah weirdness, Gentlemen Broncos fails miserably. The film begins very charming and has some funny moments early on. However, the charm wear off very quickly, and when that happens what your left with is a listless movie that drags to the end. What a complete disappointment. Gentlemen Broncos wastes the talents of Michael Angarano (One Last Thing, Sky High) Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Concords), Jennifer Coolidge, Mike White, and the always entertaining Sam Rockwell. Angarano stars as Benjamin Purvis, a budding young science fiction writer who lives with his widowed mother (Coolidge). Benjamin attends a writing camp where he meets his idol, Ronald Chevalier (Clement), a pretentious hack whose idea for enhancing stories is to add suffixes “onius” to the end of the name (as in “Haronius” or “Dunphyonius”). Chevalier announces a writing contest for the participants at the camp and Benjamin eagerly submits his …

DVD Review: Kurt Russell Is the King in John Carpenter’s “Elvis”

The 1979 biopic, Elvis, has finally found a home on DVD thanks to Shout! Factory. This made-for-TV movie was a huge success when it originally aired. There’s no question why: The movie came our just a year and a half after his unexpected death. Although this movie could have been a glorified puff piece about Elvis and all of his achievements, it turned out to be a solid production with a lot of creative talent involved, and of course some great music. Looking at Elvis some 30 years after its release, besides the film stock looking a little grainy, the story and plot structure don’t feel dated. In fact, in Elvis you see many of the same story devices and themes that have become cliché in practically every musical biography since Elvis, from Coal Miner’s Daughter to La Bamba to What’s Love Got to Do With It to Ray. These same clichés were sent up hilariously in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. I’m talking about the tragic or poverty stricken childhood, the drive and …

DVD Review: Take That, Beotch! “Bitch Slap” Arrives on DVD

Outrageous, over the top and a purely visceral experience, Bitch Slap is a throwback to the grindhouse pictures of the ’60s and ’70s, the kind of films that featured women dressed in low cut tops and revealing skirts. Just like those films of yesteryear, there is plenty of cleavage in Bitch Slap, but surprisingly little nudity, even during the obligatory lesbian tryst. However, Bitch Slap has its tongue firmly planted in its cheek while still being cleverly constructed.  The story cuts back and forth between events happening in the present and those that happened further and further in the past. By this I mean, each flashback occurs farther back in time: two days, two weeks, two months, etc. And with each flashback, more answers are given as to why these three beautiful, scantily clad women are in the middle of the desert, digging in the sand. Bitch Slap was written and produced by Eric Gruendemann and Rick Jacobson and directed by Jacobson. It was shot for just $200,000 using a high tech Red camera and …

Popdose Country! CD Reviews: Josh Turner “Haywire” and Easton Corbin, “Easton Corbin”

When offered the opportunity to review some country music for Popdose, I was excited. Our site does not have a bias against any particular genre (obviously), but it’s rather apparent that most of our writers have deep roots in rock and roll. I’m no expert on today’s country sound, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate and love country music. My iPod has music by Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris and Willie Nelson; alt-country acts such as Lyle Lovett, Lucinda Wiliams and Uncle Tupelo, plus albums by newer superstars like Carrie Underwood, the Dixie Chicks and Sugarland. So, even though I’m not a country musicologist, I feel like I can give you all an honest opinion of music that drops in my mailbox and steer you toward it or away. I suppose this will be a periodic column, as I don’t know what will be coming my way. Let’s get started: Josh Turner has a rich, deep voice that wraps itself around you like a blanket and makes you feel cozy. It’s …

DVD Review: Paul Giamatti as Paul Giamatti in “Cold Souls”

The latest entry into the category of Kaufman-esque surreal comedies, derived from the name of writer/director Charlie Kaufman, whose films include Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, is Sophie Barthes’s Cold Souls, a film in which a tormented actor has his soul removed from his body and placed in storage while he tries to make it through a staged production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya. Paul Giamatti, the exceptional character actor and star of such critically acclaimed films as Sideways and American Splendor, portrays the actor. His character’s name is… Paul Giamatti.  Giamatti (the character) reads about a soul removal/storage as a way to alleviate the burden in your life. The article appears in The New Yorker, so you know it has to be legit. Giamatti (the character) meets with Dr. Flintstein, whose name should have clued him in that this whole scenario isn’t going to work out as expected, and arranges to have his soul deposited into a storage facility until the run of Uncle Vanya is completed. David Strathairn, another brilliant character actor who has …

Basement Songs: The Greg Kihn Band, “Jeopardy”

The first time I kissed a girl (other than a relative) was in the 7th grade at a birthday party. Mind you, this was innocent, spin the bottle kiss on the lips type kissing, no tongue involved (my parents just went “phew!”) Her name was Jan (not her real name, but I didn’t know any Jan’s, so it works… not that any girl by any other name would even recall the peck on the lips she gave me in the 7th grade- I digress) and I knew her from the school band. She played trombone. Jan had a cute smile with teeth covered in silver braces; feathered brown hair and she mostly wore tight Levi’s and flannel shirts. She had a 70’s vibe about her that was so different from the skintight Calvin Klein/Izod wearing girls that made up most of the school. Jan was foxy. She was also smart as a whip, which made her even more foxy as far  as I was concerned. Jan wasn’t in any of my classes besides band, so …

Book Review: Tony DuShane’s “Confessions of a Teenage Jesus Jerk”

“One lone pubic hair sprung from my baby smooth pelvis area. I didn’t even see it start to grow. It just made its appearance and told me more were coming. “I raised my hand to my cheek and felt for hair and there was no stubble. One pubic hair below. Adulthood cometh.” So begins the novel, Confessions of a Teenage Jesus Jerk (214 pgs. Soft Skull Press), the first novel by author Tony DuShane, a darkly funny and bittersweet coming of age story about Gabe Dagsland, a teenager growing up a Jehovah’s Witness in the 1980’s. Gabe is a teenage boy, with hormones raging through his developing body and one thing on his mind: sex. There’s only one problem, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have a strict belief system and impure thoughts about sex can lead to eternal damnation when the Armageddon comes, which, according to them, was right around the corner. Gabe lives in a run down apartment with his parents. His dad is an elder at the hall where they worship; his mother suffers from …

DVD Review: Uma Thurman Takes On “Motherhood”

Writer-director Katherine Dieckmann’s new indie film, Motherhood, has the look and feel of an extended episode of Sex in the City, if Carrie Bradshaw settled down in an old apartment overrun with books and toys and she wrote a parenting blog instead of a column for one of the New York papers. Uma Thurman stars as Eliza, a harried mother of two who spends the film preparing for her daughter’s 6th birthday.  Her long to do list includes: buying a new dress; taking her son to the park; moving the car; purchasing the cake, goodie bags and all of the food for the party (using her bicycle as transportation); and making regular updates on her parenting blog, “The Bjorn Identity” (cute name). Added to her list is an contest essay she’s trying to write in hopes of becoming a paid journalist for a mothering magazine. Eliza is married to a scatter brained, compassionate man played by the ever reliable Anthony Edwards. He works as an editor for a travel magazine, a job he only took …

Basement Songs: Kelly Clarkson, “Breakaway”

Sophie’s school held its annual father/daughter dance was last week, an event that we’ve attended for several years now. The two of us began our night with a pasta dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant; Sophie wore a pretty dress and looked gorgeous. It’s a rare occasion that Sophie and I go out to eat on our own. When those times occur, I consider them treasured moments. Even if our conversation is about mundane everyday events, it’s a pleasure to hear her thoughts and to witness the way her mind works. The dance was held in the school’s multipurpose room. Tables were set up to the sides, leaving a large open space in the center of the room; a deejay had his laptop set up on a podium and large speakers blasting various rock and dance tunes. We arrived early and had our picture taken before the line became too long, then we listened to the music as more fathers and daughters arrived. Throughout the course of their evening the DJ played a variety of …

TV on DVD: “FlashForward: Part One, Season One”

FlashForward began with a kick ass premise: On a regular day the entire world’s population simultaneously blacked out for 137 seconds. Those people who didn’t die in a car crash or when their bus took a dunk in a lake or by some other horrible accident experienced a “flashfoward” showing them a moment in their life approximately six months into the future. The entire phenomenon sends the world into chaos. Who or what caused the world to lose consciousness at the same time and could it happen again? Are these premonitions the truth? And what about those folks who only saw black? Are they to assume that they are dead in six months? Most of those people do. This overall mystery is at the heart of ABC’s latest sci-fi adventure/drama. FlashForward premiered to huge ratings last fall, but has seen its audience taper off steadily. The series went on hiatus in December and the network has wisely released this DVD set containing the first ten episodes before FlashForward returns to the air on March 10. …

DVD review: Robert De Niro wants you to know that “Everybody’s Fine”

Robert De Niro stars in Everybody’s Fine, a remake of a 1990 Italian film starring Marcello Mastroianni. You can feel the sentimental influence from the earlier film all over this remake, out today on DVD; it drips from every frame of the movie. It’s not necessarily what one expects from De Niro, the star of Raging Bull, Cape Fear and Heat, but after a lifetime of portrayals of brutal men on film like the ones he’s made with Martin Scorsese, if a master of acting like De Niro wants to make a film that pulls the heartstrings like Everybody’s Fine, he doesn’t have to answer to anyone. De Niro plays Frank, a retired widower with health problems. As the film opens, his four children renege on a family get together at his house. Instead of wallowing in self pity, Frank decides road trip it, surprising each of his adult children with a visit. First up is David, an artist who lives in New York City. Arriving by train, Frank spends hours outside his son’s apartment …

DVD Review: “Women in Trouble”

Women in Trouble is yet another L.A. ensemble movie in which various strangers intersect on one day and all lives are altered in some way. This film is unique in that all of the characters involved are women and that all of the very talented actresses (save for 13-year old newcomer Isabella Gutierrez) spend a least one scene stripped down to their underwear. Mind you, despite the presence of two characters who are porn stars and one who is a prostitute, there is no sex in this film. There is plenty of frank talk about sex, but no nudity and no copulation whatsoever. So any of you guys looking at the provocative box art thinking you may get a glimpse of Carla Gugino or Connie Britton’s goodies, you’ll be disappointed. However, Women in Trouble is a well-made indie film with some funny and tender moments, even if writer/director Sebastian Gutierrez’s direction is a little inconsistent at times. Gugino (Night at the Museum) is Elektra, a porn star who learns in the opening frames that she’s …

TV on DVD: “thirtysomething: The Complete Second Season”

purchase from Amazon: DVD Last year Shout! Factory released a fantastic box set of the first season of thirtysomething, the influential drama series that ran on ABC from fall 1987 to the spring of 1991. That box set was praised and reviewed by almost every media outlet, as well it should have. Shout! Factory recently released the complete second season of thirtysomething and there should be equal praise and excitement, if not more.  By the time season 2 began, the shows writers and producers (including series creators and television visionaries, Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick) had a better grasp of the show they were producing. thirtysomething was firing on all cylinders from the opening frame of the season 2 premiere. If you were a fan of thirtysomething when it originally aired, or if you became aware of the show because of the DVD release last year, you should definitely add season 2 to your collection. Season two picks up where the first one left off, with Michael (Ken Olin) and Hope (Mel Harris) still trying …

Basement Songs: Queen and David Bowie, “Under Pressure”

This year marks the fifth anniversary of my friend Matt’s death. He was my brother in every sense except for blood, and like siblings, we fought, had misunderstandings, hurt each other and went through periods in which we didn’t speak. We weren’t on speaking terms when he died, so there wasn’t a chance to say goodbye. It was an incredible loss, having known this man since we were first graders and we would walk home from school together. I would often stop in his house for a snack, or to check out his room full of the hippest toys, like Maskatron — enemy of the Six Million Dollar Man — an action figure that came with three interchangeable faces, or leafing through his latest issue of Mad Magazine or Cracked. Growing up, he was always forward thinking; he had the latest video games and a Commodore 64. You would have thought he’d embrace the digital age, with e-mail making it so easy for friends and family to reconnect and stay in touch. Yet as soon …

DVD Reviews: A Slam Dunk and a Missed Layup—”More Than a Game” and “Hurricane Season”

With the NBA All Star Game behind us and March Madness just around the bend, two new DVD releases about basketball should keep all you round ball junkies appeased when there isn’t a game on. Both films are true stories; one is essential viewing for any film fan, not just sports aficionados; the other is worth of a rental when you are looking for inspiration, but nothing more. More Than A Game is director Kristopher Belman’s wonderfully made documentary about the “Akron Fab Five,” a group of high school basketball players from St. Vincent-St. Mary’s High School in Akron, Ohio who became national champions back in 2003. You may have heard of his team as they had a basketball phenom on their team by the name of LeBron James. However, the movie isn’t “LeBron James: The High School Years.” Instead it’s a gripping drama about the power of friendship. Belman, an Akron native, was a film student going to school in Los Angeles and needed to complete a 10-minute documentary class assignment. He decided to …

DVD Review: “A Serious Man”

“Everything I thought was one way turns out to be another.” I don’t proclaim myself to be a huge fan of the work of Joel and Ethan Coen, the writer/director/producer brothers who’ve made some of the most critically claimed films in the past 25 years. I’ve seen most of their films, and even loved a few of them. However, I’m often left scratching my head and wondering whether they’re smarter than me or just being clever. While I love Miller’s Crossing, Fargo and The Big Lebowski, I still scratch my head at Barton Fink, parts of No Country for Old Men, and most of Raising Arizona (although that is a very funny movie). Perhaps the Coen sensibility is simply lost on me. Their latest work is the Academy Award-nominated A Serious Man, available now on DVD and Blu-ray. Using a cast of mostly unknowns, the Coens’ new story is about Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg), a college physics professor whose world is unraveling. His wife (Sari Wagner Lennick) is divorcing him for one of his colleagues; …

Basement Songs: Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys, “Empire State of Mind”

The email came on a Thursday morning, as I sat at my desk, waking up. My friend, Nancy, was running the Santa Monica half marathon in three days and she wanted to know if I was interested in being her running buddy, to jog alongside her to make the 13.1 miles go by a little easier. More than a year had passed since I ran my last half marathon and the longest distance I’d covered since then was a mere 5 miles. Yet I had been a dedicated runner for over nine months, so the idea wasn’t implausible. Nancy would be run/walking at a ratio of one minute running to one minute walking. I figured I would be fine for at least nine miles; and then gut it out for the remainder of the race. Nancy and I are more than just two people who like to punish our bodies; we both use these long races to serve as fundraisers for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Nancy has a son named Jacob, too, and he also …

DVD Review: A Cast of Many and a New York Setting in “New York, I Love You”

I have never been to New York City, so I can not refute any of the criticisms I’ve read about New York, I Love You, a collection of short films featuring an enormous cast, all tied together by the backdrop of New York City and the theme of love, that claim that claim that the movie fails to capture the spirit and charm of the city. However, I have been in love. I’ve been through the five boroughs of first love, unrequited love, sacrificial love, complicated love, and that ghetto called a broken heart. So I feel qualified to offer my opinion about he film’s overall theme. On that level, I found New York, I Love You, a movie inspired by the similarly produced film about Paris, Paris, je t’aime, to be quite enjoyable and, for the most part, very successful. As this DVD is being released just prior to Valentine’s Day (both the holiday and the upcoming, huge ensemble film) and it is a nice date movie that should leave plenty to discussion with …

TV on DVD: “Life on Mars” (The Original BBC Series)

Last year, both seasons of the original BBC series, Life on Mars, were released in the U.S. to little press, despite the fact that the show is considered one of the finest of the last decade. Acorn Media has done a splendid job with these two DVD sets, maintaining the integrity of the show by presenting them uncut and keeping the original music from the series. Fans of the show who only saw it when it aired on BBC America (with commercial interruptions) will be thrilled to see the show with a crisp video quality. The premise of the show is as follows: Sam Tyler is a modern day Manchester detective who gets struck by a passing car and wakes up in the year 1973. Is he in a coma, time traveling, or just plain crazy? Tyler quickly realizes that in order to solve the mystery of his new surroundings he’ll have to fit in. This means taking up residence in the police squad  run by DCI Gene Hunt, a bullying, bad ass, take-no-prisoners cop …

Rock Court, Small Claims Division: The Romantics vs. John Mellencamp

All rise. The rules of this courtroom are simple. You will be presented with two songs, one by the plaintiff and one by the defendant. It is your task to decide if the defendant’s track is only coincidentally similar to the plaintiffs or, as members of the Bar Association put it, they’ve been a baa-aaad boy. You have been duly instructed. Today’s docket: The Romantics, plaintiffs vs. John Mellencamp, defendant The Romantics – What I Like About You from The Romantics (1980) It’s the same beat, the same chords, the same everything. You’d have to be deaf to disagree.

John Mellencamp – R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A. from Scarecrow (1985) “The subtitle is “A Salute To ’60s Rock” – At least I had the balls to admit it was a homage.”
Wait! Neil Diamond has just burst through the courtroom door, knocking over the bailiffs! Neil Diamond – Cherry, Cherry from The Feel Of Neil Diamond (1966) “It may only be three …

Basement Songs: Reflections on a School Closing

Families lined up to wait fifteen minutes or more for spaghetti served from a large aluminum tin, salad and a choice of lemonade or iced tea. Outside, the California rain had finally let up, leaving only the tree limbs dripping on the sidewalks and the sound of slick tires rolling as cars passed by. The large multipurpose room at Emblem Elementary School was packed on a Friday night; a night that many believed may be one of the last family functions the school would hold in a long, long time. As parents squeezed into seats at the same cafeteria roll out tables their children ate lunch at during the day and school kids chased each other around the room, dodging people buying raffle tickets or baked goods, the questions on everyone’s mind was, “could the school be saved?” The state of California’s cuts in education spending continued to affect even the best school districts, like Saugus, where my children go to school. You hear politicians deliver speeches about closing schools with poor performance records, yet …

Basement Songs: Shawn Colvin, “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)”

Pete’s Café and Bar is located on the corner of 4th and Main in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. It’s a trendy restaurant with nice large windows that look out on the street, reasonable prices, and good food. Although I’d never been to Pete’s, it was the ideal meeting place to see my friend Brett, as it’s centrally located between my work and the Long Beach hotel where Brett was staying. I must admit that I was slightly reluctant to make the drive, at the end of a Tuesday that saw some of the nastiest storms Southern California had been hit with in years. Despite what Google maps claims, I knew that with traffic my drive wasn’t going to last a mere 45 minutes. My past experiences had taught me that I was looking at a good hour, and that wasn’t factoring in the weather conditions. Still, I didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to see Brett, even if it meant spending a couple hours in my car. At least I would have my iPod …

TV on DVD: “Glee, Vol. One: Road to Sectionals”

The first 13 episodes of Fox’s new hit musical series, Glee, released here in a 4 DVD set, are an entertaining, yet wildly inconsistent group of episodes that sees the show finding its footing. As many of you probably know, Glee is a high concept show about a group of misfits at an Ohio high school who come together to form a glee club. It’s entertaining because the producers have been able to license popular songs, both current and classic, and somehow fit them into the storyline of each hour. Moreover, the characters are all quite likable and very easy to root for. However, the quality of the show’s writing is all over the place. There are episodes that deal with sexual identity, disability, teen pregnancy and marital strife that are so heartfelt and true that you come away hoping that Glee is the next Friday Night Lights (albeit, with singing football players). These standout episodes are generally followed by an hour that is so eye rolling ridiculous that you’ll think you’ve stumbled into an …