11.22.09

  

World’s Greatest Dad (2009)

Lance Clayton (Robin Williams) is a poetry teacher who cannot connect with his son on any level. And for good reason. Although he displays no openly nefarious characteristics, his son Kyle (Daryl Sabara) is devoid of any likable personality. Kyle is a relentless sexist. But in his defense, all he really wants is to be left alone in his pursuits of ogling women and masturbating (the only hobby he displays any interest in). Lance humors Kyle as much as he can, but seems resigned to ride this phase out and hope for a better future. Sabara strikes a masterful balance with his unlikable character playing Kyle for no sympathy. There are no contrived apologies between Kyle and Lance and no barn burning flare-ups that are typical in dysfunctional family movies. Williams reminds us he can be funny without the cavorting, cocaine humor that has inexplicably translated into terrible mainstream movies. Lance is sarcastic, defeated, and most importantly, likable. Williams is truly reborn in this role.

To reveal much more about the story would ruin the experience of seeing it. It is not so much that it is hard to figure out what is going on while you are watching it; I am not trying to imply that there is a twist ending or a rollercoaster of turns. World’s Greatest Dad is an interesting story operating on a crass premise. Bobcat Goldthwait deserves much praise for expounding on his unique brand of comedy. Shakes the Clown has a bit of a cult following for being loud and tasteless containing loads of gross out jokes, shouting, and pratfalls. I enjoy Shakes for what it is and have always considered Goldthwait to be a master of tasteless humor. But he has really expanded his horizons without abandoning his personality.

A few reviews have complained that the movie wraps a bit too neatly. I would concede that point except to say that the real fun for me was not so much how this strange story ends, but how my sympathies for Lance changed frequently as the movie progressed. Lance’s house of cards never seems in any real danger of falling on its own. Since the film refuses to impose a moral judgment by offering consequences for his actions, it’s left up to Lance as to whether or not to do the right thing. Perhaps I was snake charmed, but there are worse things to give into than World’s Greatest Dad.

 

11.20.09

The Invention of Lying (2009)

Written by Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson, The Invention of Lying imagines what the world would be like if no one had ever thought to bend the truth even for the sake of social niceties. I am always excited for a Gervais endeavor, but I remember seeing the trailer for Lying several times and not being very excited about it. But Lying is a smarter comedy than it lets on. After a particularly bad day, Mark Bellison (Gervais) has an epiphany at the bank and informs the teller that he has more money in his account than the computer shows. Since the world has never been exposed to the concept of untruths, the teller decides that the computer must be wrong and gives Bellison the money. Bellison runs out to tell his friend that he has told somebody something “that wasn’t” and it becomes clear that anybody will believe anything he says. It isn’t hard to put together that Bellison will attempt to use his new talent to save his job as a screenwriter and get a second date with Anna McDoogles (Jennifer Garner) who on their first date tells him bluntly how his physical defects will not bode well for them getting together again. Anna seems to like him well enough though, and this faint spark of interest encourages his pursuit. Bellison uses his newfound powers on Anna sparingly in light of the fact that a simple lie convinces a total stranger to agree to sleep with him. Bellison can have anything he wants, but decides to keep his gift of fibbing respectable and stays the course to win Anna’s heart rather than trying to trick her into sleeping with him. The movie suffers from its advertising, which makes the film appear to be a series of one-liners at the expense of Gervais’ physique. But Bellison gets into some interesting trouble when he is overheard telling his dying mother that death is not the end, and that when she dies she will meet the man who is in charge of creating the world and everything will be great. News of this revelation spreads quickly and Bellison is left to come to terms with the new hope he has sprung on the world. While it might seem this would be an open door for a thinly veiled attack on religious beliefs, what transpires is a fairly even handed consideration of faith. Lying is supported by a great cast of comedy actors reeling in their performances with very matter of fact line delivery that plays for exponentially enduring laughs rather than the short game imagined by the trailer. Much of what makes the movie work is that Gervais and Robison keep the world that Bellison moves in very small and this element of not seeing much out of his scope of things prevents the inconstancies inherent in this type of story from being too problematic. Lying is a nice bit of well-crafted writing for being able to present some big ideas without crossing itself or proselytizing. According to Lying, there is not much joy in a world without deceit, but it does not presume to convince you that there are any clear answers.  

11.18.09

Groove Tomb Playlist: November 18th, 2009

Curtis Knight W/ Jimi Hendrix- Fool for You Baby

Dumas King- Wish You’d Come Home

The Insects- She’s a Pest

Ranger’s Sound- Ricordami

Stranglehold- She’s Not Leaving

The Scientists- Frantic Romantic

The Registrators- Automatic Exit

The Mops- Blind Bird

 

Roky Erickson- I Have Always Been Here Before

Nervous Eaters- Rock With Me

Angry Samoans- Inside My Brain

Peter and the Buzzards- All I Want

The Younger Lovers- Danny

Bob Peck- Sweet 16

 

The Real Kids- Small Town

The Joneses- Pillbox

The Bobbyteens- Rock and Roll Show

The Buzzcocks- Boredom

The Dils- You’re NOt Blank, So Baby We’re Through

The Allusions- I Gotta Move

 

Stiv BAtors- Make Up Your Mind

The Rythm Kings- Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

The Beachwood Sparks- Make It Together

The Resonars- No Black Clouds Float By

Central High School Cafeteria Band- First Rhapsody for Knives, Forks and Spoons

Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs- Grasshopper

Belltones- Swingin’ Little Chicky

Little Ike- She Can Rock

 

The Plugz- Infection

The BAgs- We Will Bury You

The Distractions- It Doesn’t Bother Me

The Clash- Safe European Home

The Ramones- Slug

Hubble Bubble- Freaks…OUt

 

The Hondells- Little Honda

Mad Mike and the Maniacs- The Hunch

The Gamblers- LSD- 25

The Sir Douglas Quartet- Quarter to Three

The Gee Cees- Buzzsaw Twist

Nobunny- Tina Goes to Work

Frank Ballard- Trouble Down the Road

The Seeds- The Wind Blows

The Atlantics- War of the Worlds

 

 

The Groove Tomb- Garage. Punk. Horror. Other.

Tuesday Nights 12AM-2AM

91.3FM KXCI Tucson, Arizona.

11.10.09

Thanks to everyone who stopped by the Comic Con table this weekend. It was nice to get some Cramhole into people’s hands and see some of the awesome work people are doing regionally.  

It was a wild weekend for me ’cause I also went to the Tucson record show this weekend. Here are some shopping highlights.

The Beach Boys- Wild Honey

 I used to shy away from anything but the surf stuff, but if you put some time into the Beach Boys outside of the surf songs and Pet Sounds, there are some nice melodies.

 

Motorhead- Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers

Outtakes from the self-titled sessions on Chiswick.

Roy Orbison- More of Roy Orbison’s Greatest Hits

 There are those artist’s like Ernest Tubbs who I always pick up records when I see them. I have a stack of Orbison records, but there is always a song or two not on the other ones.

 

Whodini- Escape

The Freaks Come OUt at Night

Doesn’t seem too stellar, does it? Well, it’s a good show and there is always more shopping to do. 

 

11.07.09

 

Just in case anyone is looking in, today is the Tucson Comic Con and I’ll be down there all day today handing out flyers and (hopefully) selling some copies of CRAMHOLE. I also have some Razorcake back issues to give out. THey have been really cool to send me some stuff to hand out, which is good because I’ll look pretty pathetic on that long table with three comic books. Last year I shared a table with Dorothy, but that team moved back to Brooklyn. SPeaking of pathetic, I noticed my header was taken off the Citizen web site. It reminds me of that kid in Wet Hot American Summer who is broadcasting over the loudspeaker all summer, then at the end you find out that the wires are not hooked up. I don’t know how long it’s been like that. Maybe it works on the days you post or something, I never actually look into things like that, which I guess I should.   

A Serious Man (2009)

I still rush out and see any Coen brothers movie. A Serious Man follows Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) through a difficult stretch where his wife wants a divorce and his bid for tenure is tenuous. Set in Minnesota in the late 60s, Larry seeks advice from three rabbis, all of whom give somewhat vague guidance, and Larry trudges on trying to cope. The pace is a bit more on the side of No Country for Old Men. There are a few recognizable character actors, but the movie features no stars and that element brings life to this narrative as it relies on an ensemble that bring the look and feel of suburban life to the screen. The film does a good job of relating suburban malaise through Larry’s eyes; his problems come on strong, but they are not outside of typical fears and Larry’s plight is more complicated that the typical “loser’s life falls apart” story line. The Coens manage to shake up their style significantly from movie to movie without losing their personality. They do manage fit a ransom or blackmail in every film no matter how innocent the basic story is. Here it is in the form of a very minor sub plot and it is nice to see them stick to a theme and without it becoming contrived.  The comedy comes on a bit slower as the prototypical loud Coen characters are not on play in A Serious Man, but the payoff is in the subtle humor and the Coens have once again proved that they will not languish in their formula for success.

 Hope you are all well… 

11.04.09

 

Groove Tomb Playlist: November 4th, 2009

The Mummies- Your Love

999-high Energy Plan

Nine Below Zero- Eleven Past Eleven

The Monks- I Can’t Get Over You

Count Ferrell- Wizard of Ah’s

The NEw York Dolls- Frankenstein

The Pagans- Yeah Yeah

 

The Clash- Clash City Rockers

The Empallos- Hiccups

The Satellites- When Will You Stay

Black Daimonds- I Want, Need Love You

The Cramps- Surfin’ Dead

The Moods- Rum Drunk

 

The Younger Lovers- Danny

MC5- Shakin’ Street

The Saints- Do the Robot

The JAckson Kings- Watch Your Step

The Stooges- Gimmie Danger

The Customs- BAd News

The 13th Floor Elevators- You’re Gonna Miss Me

The Epics- On the Rocks

 

The Kinks- ‘Till the End of the Day

The Flaming Groovies- Shake Some Action

The Damned- Testify

The Chumps- The Mall

The Boys- Sick ON You

London- Everyone’s A Winner

The Germs- Lexicon Devil

 

The Angry Samoans- Gimmie Sopor

The Replacements- Customer

Naked Raygun- Blight

The Weirdos- We Got the Neutron Bomb

The Wailing Souls- Fire House Rock

The Upsetters- Dracula

Joey Warren- Goatee

 

the 5,6,7,8s- Bomb the Twist

tHE mODERNETTES- Barbra

DMZ- Barracuda

The Shirks- D.C. is Doomed

The Registrators- Angry Days

Them- Mystic Eyes

 

The Groove Tomb- Garage. Punk. Horror. Other.

Tuesday Nights 12AM-2AM 

91.3FM KXCI Tucson, Arizona.

billupsallen.com

11.02.09

It must be a combination of growing up punk and not communicating well with people, but every time I go to the barber, I end up looking like a bartender from an 80s cop drama. I wish they had those old charts I could point to on the wall. I would rather look like Ronald Reagan than have to bring along a picture of a rock star or something to show them; I would feel ridiculous. What I need to do is get a really good picture of myself, then say “make me look like this guy.”

HAir posted in: Writing | Comments (0)

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