I loved Joan Jett when I was a kid. I listened to side one of I Love Rock N’ Roll almost every day — often multiple times a day — for more than a year. I turned the volume up on my crappy little radio every time the title song came on Q102 — which at the height of its popularity, was about once an hour.
The collision of simple, classic guitar chords, her tough-girl voice and her sexy, goth-informed visage staring out from the album’s cover left me endlessly fascinated. As a pre-teen, early-’80s suburbanite, I’d never experienced anything like her.
What’s up with the current vampire/zombie craze?
Yes, there’s always been interest in the genre and its preoccupation with the dark side of human nature and sexuality — from the books of Bram Stoker and Anne Rice to the movies of Bela Lugosi and George A. Romero to the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. No doubt blood and bare necks and sucking and such will always be alluring, but what is it about this cultural moment in time that has so many geeking out on the idea of the undead?
As I pointed out last week, there have been an uncommon number of strong movies released of late, including four last week: The Descendants, Hugo, The Muppets and My Week with Marilyn. That quartet follows the recently released Martha Marcy May Marlene and Like Crazy, which means a half-dozen movies in the last three weeks have garnered an A- or better from CityBeat's typically stingy crew of critics.
Hearing the police knock on your door never gives anyone the warm fuzzies. It’s nerve-wracking. But imagine opening your door to a police officer who’s come to take away a member of your family. They’ll be locked in confinement until a) you can permanently relocate him or her, or b) time runs out and your loved one is killed.
That’s been the harsh reality for many pit bull owners in breed-discriminatory cities, as depicted in Beyond the Myth: A Film About Pit Bulls and Breed Discrimination by filmmaker Libby R. Sherrill.
And now this from the CityBeat entertainment gossip desk: A couple of actors with Cincinnati ties announced marriage engagements today.
If you haven’t heard of Jeff, Who Lives at Home that's probably because it wasn’t widely advertised and only saw a limited release in theaters. It was a stroke of luck that the AMC at Newport on the Levee was showing it that night, or, as Jeff would put it, “a sign."
Ed Helms plays Jeff’s older brother, Pat. Helms is a little out of his wheelhouse here, playing an all-around jerk who is trying too hard to be a successful guy, but he pulls it off nicely. Jeff and Pat don’t get along but through series of synchronistic events end up helping one another.
Jason Segel tends to play lovable characters that a good number of people can relate to. Jeff isn’t any different. Sporting unkempt hair, a scruffy five o’clock shadow and an old hoodie through the majority of the movie, Jeff is a guy you could find walking down the street right now, although maybe not as big — Pat calls him sasquatch at one point.
This was the first Indie-type film that I have seen in a theater and I was impressed. This was also the first Duplass brothers movie I’ve seen. Their last film, Cyrus, featured a son way too attached to his mother and had the same charm that Jeff, Who Lives at Home does.
What’s up with the fuss surrounding Twilight?
Hundreds of multiplex sellouts for last night’s midnight opening? Fans camping out a day early to catch a glimpse of stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart as they arrive for the film’s Hollywood premiere? Hordes of screeching teenage girls going gaga over Pattinson during a recent promotional appearance at a mall in Pennsylvania?
We’re a long way from September 2007.
Remember when nearly every political pundit was frothing at the mouth to cover the inevitable Hillary Clinton vs. Rudi Giuliani presidential battle royale?
Well, some 13 months later, Hillary is campaigning for Barack Obama and Rudi is left to drop divisive, stereotype-laden cultural bombs (all the while being one of the East Coast elites he rails against) and to brood about the demise of his beloved New York Yankees.
Oh, and more than a year after I caught it at the 2007 Toronto Film Festival, Cincinnati movie buffs finally have a chance to see Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park ... on DVD.
Picked up by IFC Films in late 2007 and distributed in many markets in early 2008, Paranoid Park never made to a Cincinnati movie house largely due to The Esquire/Mariemont theatres’ policy of not screening films available on pay-per-view TV, a format IFC simultaneously makes available in conjunction with its theatrical releases.
Business-based, behind-the-scenes details aside, Paranoid Park is the latest entry in Van Sant’s recent string of strangely poetic, curiously impressionistic films that includes Gerry, Elephant and Last Days. It’s also one of the best films of Van Sant's varied career — a thriller that subverts nearly every genre convention while still generating an odd, almost subliminal tension.
The setup, per the truncated press notes at Toronto, is simple: “Alex, a teenage skateboarder, accidentally kills a security guard in the vicinity of Paranoid Park, Portland's tough skate park. He decides to say nothing.”
Van Sant infuses this bare-bones framework with a hypnotic array of technical flourishes: the use of ambient noises, vintage Nino Rota score snippets and Elliott Smith songs; a non-linear, overlapping narrative technique; cinematographer du jour Christopher Doyle’s striking visuals; and non-professional actors that give Paranoid Park an extra layer of authenticity.
Curiously, it looks as though Van Sant will return to more conventional techniques for his next film, Milk, a look at the life of trailblazing San Francisco politician Harvey Milk (played by Sean Penn), the first openly gay man to be elected to public office.
(Paranoid Park was released on DVD on Oct. 7.)
The new trailer for the next Batman movie is two minutes of pure excitement for fans of the Christopher Nolan trilogy. The Dark Knight Rises will be the last in the Nolan trilogy, and by judging from how the stakes were continuously raised on Gotham City in his first two films, this one should be a beautiful ending to Bruce Wayne’s Batman. That is, until someone else gets a hold of the cash cow franchise.
[Read tt stern-enzi's take on The Avengers here.]
Despite releasing the trailer, DC is taking a back seat to Marvel. For
years Marvel has had better movies than DC, with the exception of Nolan’s
Batman, and recently the former has had a string of successful hits. This past
year along saw Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger, two
widely popular characters that Marvel needed to establish before going ahead
with The Avengers.
DC has tried to branch out from Batman and Superman, but most of their efforts have resulted in ridiculed movies. The last Superman movie was terrible, but a new one is still in the works. Last year Green Lantern came out to mixed emotions from fans. Ryan Reynolds was surprisingly good; it was everything else that fell short in the movie. Weak villains and missed opportunities were the downfall of Green Lantern, but that is a whole other story. I will say that it was a decent attempt to start the push toward a Justice League movie.
In a way, Marvel wins the movie race because they are the first to release a movie based on their group of high profile characters. According to MovieTickets.com the pre-sale ticket numbers suggest that this movie is going to be bigger than the two Iron Man movies, Thor and Captain America. With sequels in line for the Captain, Thor and Iron Man, Marvel is going to be sitting pretty for the next few years.
This summer is going to be a great one for comic book fans. Not only is The Avengers opening up the summer blockbuster season, but The Dark Knight Rises releases July 20 and The Amazing Spider-Man on July 3. The third Men in Black movie comes out in a few weeks on May 25.
When the quietly haunting notes of Nicholas Hooper’s score begin to play a little past midnight on July 15, cueing the opening scene of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, my heart feels like a hot cauldron bubbling with a jumble of emotions: excitement, anxiety, and even a slight trace of fear, in case things — god forbid — go horribly wrong.