The American - USA - Anton Corbijn
This the first film for director Anton Corbijn since his acclaimed Joy Division bio-pic Control. In place of the once thought un-filmable Ian Curtis, the French director takes on the not so difficult roll of filming George Clooney as the titular death dealing international Playboy. Audience members expecting another Bourne like high octane romp will be very disappointed by The American's slow, methodical pace and deliberate with holding of exposition. Unlike the herky-jerky Greengrass cam that has permeated the international intrigue genre, The American is composed of beautiful, fixed shots across the high definition worthy Swedish and Italian country sides. The events play out like a Mellivile or Antonioni film, very slow but with an attention to detail that drives the plot instead of ham fisted story telling. Even though I am making it sound like the film consist of Clooney reading Proust under a Spruce tree, there is still a healthy amount of gun play and nudity to be found. You can sell it to your Dad by referring to it as a "thinking man's" action movie. This is one of the few films recently to actually live up to the often thrown about label.
Mark Ronson and the Business International - Record Collection
Mark Ronson has gained a reputation in Europe as a snide bastard and a ruthless Playboy, which is totally understandable after listening to his second solo release. The dude's got it going on. Through out the course of the album, Ronson and crew make their way through nearly every pop music genre and sub genre of the past 30 years. Some how in this mish mash of retro styles, Ronson created an album that sounds totally contemporary at the same time. Having read more about his exploits in Rolling Stone than actually hearing his music, I expected the album to be more of a megalomaniacal outing than it is. Yes, Ronson does sing on a few tracks and the production can be more than a little showy, but it is the strength and variety of guest artist such as Q-Tip, Ghostface Killah, Simon LeBon, Boy George, ex-Pipette Rose Dougall and Spank Rock among others that elevates this album from ego-trip to party record of the year. I think the scatter shot nature of the album threw some reviewers off leading to a lackluster release when the album hit stateside. It's a shame smart and fun pop music like this will never stand a chance on the U.S. pop charts.
For the past couple of years Time Bandits owners and all round Denton power couple David and Lisa have been soaking in the sights and sounds of the local music scene while quietly banging away at their instruments in the back of their vintage clothing/record shop which also doubles as their home. What the duo have created in that time is some of the freshest and genre defying music the scene has seen in awhile. Of the many Cuckoo Byrds' performances I had the pleasure of attending, my favorite would have to be the infamous Mabel Peabdodys performance which literally brought the show to a stop. The music may be difficult, but it is just what the music scene needs right now. The recent addition of Christian Teenage Runaway/Orange Coax vocalist Sashenka Lopez with her kinetic stage presence and anarchist pen, will without a doubt lead to great things for the Byrds in 2011.
Bored to Death Season Two - HBO
The first season of this half hour detective comedy series never really grabbed me. I appreciated the dark humor and perfectly cast ensemble, but something about the underlying premises fell flat for me. Series creator really stepped it up this season by focusing more on the 'side-kick' characters played by Ted Danson and Zach Galifinakis. The wacky trio, rounded out by Jason Shwartzman, find themselves getting into all kind of adult themed situations centered around solving mysteries for celebrity guest stars. The surprise plot turn that Ted Danson's character took this season was a great touch and helped to level the show which frequently becomes too wrapped up in the absurd.
The funniest show ever created finally on DVD. Wish the transfer on this release wasn't so poorly done, but they still look much better than my worn out VHS copies.