by RIC HICKEY
We are barely halfway into this thing and Bonnaroo's memorable performances and highlights already seem too good to be true. In addition to 12 stages featuring live music for 18 hours a day for four days straight, the assembled press are privy to gut busting scenes of spontaneous hilarity in Bonnaroo press conferences twice daily. Without fail, these press conferences will feature provocative observations from the panelists about their respective Bonnaroo experiences. But more often than not they will degrade into an impromptu exchange of silly quips, wacky tales from the road, and dirty jokes. Friday was no exception.After setting the bar obscenely low for the 1pm press conference with multiple references to sex acts taking place on and off stage, it was the affable Matt + Kim who stuck around for nearly 45 minutes afterwards, smiling broadly, Happily answering more questions and posing for photographs. The press conference itself was a chaotic and ramshackle riot that teetered on the brink of peep-show perversion for the duration. Perhaps this was no surprise as its schizophrenic panel included TV star Ed Helms and classic rocker John Oates alongside the eager upstarts Matt + Kim, Nicki Bluhm and Michael Angelakos from Passion Pit. Aside from a brief description of Oates' charity work, the discussion was a lighthearted group improvisation on the pros and cons of playing big festivals.Helms is doing double duty at this year's Bonnaroo, presenting a comedy revue in the festival's comedy tent and hosting a Bluegrass jam on one of its main stages. Asked why he loves the banjo, Helms sighed, "I believe that banjos are very irritating and that's why banjos and comedians get along.""Hey Ed," a smirking Oates chimed in, "Do you know why there's no banjos on Star Trek?""No John. Why is that?""Because it's the future."Later in the day there was a 4 p.m. press conference that featured some very insightful exchanges between country rocker Jason Isbell and Jazz Fusion guitar legend John McLaughlin (pictured). The Bonnaroo crowd warmly embraced McLaughlin's evening performance in That Tent, causing the master musician to grin from ear to ear from the first notes of his set to the very last.Though they started 30 minutes late, Rock icons ZZ Top performed a smoking midnight set in This Tent to a capacity crowd who sang along to nearly every song in the bands hit-laden set.
by Brandon Barb
at 08:59 AM | Permalink
Indie dude comedy feels more real than most in genre
So I recently tried to force myself to buy a ticket to The Three Stooges, but in the end my better judgment prevailed. Standing at the box office trying to convince myself that the Stooges wouldn’t be that bad was a near impossible task. There are just so many things wrong with the Stooges movie — mainly that there is one out there and the fact The Jersey Shore cast fist pumped its way into the plot. In the end I kept myself from the train wreck and saw the Jason Segel film, Jeff, Who Lives at Home.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."Segel plays Jeff, a thirtysomething man living in his mom’s basement. The film starts like a stoner comedy with Jeff sitting on the couch watching infomercials while smoking weed. We are introduced to his belief that everything is connected somehow like in the 2002 M. Night Shyamalan movie Signs. A simple wrong number phone call leads Jeff into an eventful day.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.Susan Sarandon plays Sharon, Jeff and Pat’s mom. There is a subplot involving a secret admirer that gives the audience a break from the two brothers. But every character seems to come together randomly at the climax on a stretch of highway.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.The same can said about each of the main characters, really. Mothers are upset with their children for lying around not doing anything, while husbands make stupid decisions like buy expensive sports cars without talking it over with their wives — Pat buys a Porsche in the early going of the movie.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.Jeff, Who Lives at Home is a man-boy comedy but it feels more real than others in the category. Maybe it is the close up camera work or down-to-earth characters; either way Jeff, Who Lives at Home is a breath of fresh air amidst the spring time blockbusters.
Coming-of-age comedy propelled by stellar cast
0 Comments · Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Director Miguel Arteta knows how to handle outsiders caught in comedic flux and, in Ed Helms, he’s got an emerging performer who gets the laughs without overplaying his hand. Helms displays an engaging charm and an understanding of the real human drama, even in the face of utter outrageousness that puts him squarely in the camp of comedic actors like Paul Rudd and Steve Carell. Grade: B-plus.