Friday, October 19, 2007

Michael Clayton's Lies Cease To Begin

Several new albums I want to talk about (e.g.Radiohead, Stars, Sunset Rubdown, etc.) but I will get to them another day. For now, I want to focus on one of my favourite films of the year so far.

Random Song 1: Stars - Today Will Be Better, I Swear! (buy)
Random Song 2: Bobby McFerrin - Don't Worry Be Happy (buy)

Michael Clayton

If Michael Clayton were a basketball team, it would easily be the Phoenix Suns. The cast is filled with an all-star level of talent; who all bring their A-game. At first glance it is easy to assume that Michael Clayton will be yet another by the books “lawyer with a conscious” film similar to Civil Action. Yet the stellar performances, coupled with a great script, make this film a much deeper and more engrossing than most of its peers. George Clooney’s Michael Clayton is wonderfully layered character. The man is a corporate “fixer” whose own self is broken beyond repair. In fact, all the characters in the film are corrupt in their own way. Yet you fully understand the reasoning behind their actions. Twilda Swinton’s Karen Crowder goes above and beyond to maintain the status quo, yet you see the conflict and desperation that she struggles with every step of the way. The same can be said for Tom Wilkinson’s Athur Edens, whose actions constantly tread a fine line between morality and insanity. In regards to Wilkinson, I hope his performance at least gets an Oscar nomination. Truth be told, I feel all three actors should get nominations. Yet it is Wilkinson’s character that will make or break this film for audiences. I loved how his performance always left you guessing about Arthur’s true mental state. Just when you think Athur is completely bonkers, he quickly shows his sane legal prowess (and vice versa). It is moments like these that make Michael Clayton so riveting. The film is easily one of my favourites of the year. If you haven’t seen this film yet, get thee to a theatre pronto.

Random Song 3: Mark Ronson - Valerie (ft. Amy Winehouse) (buy)
Random Song 4: Radiohead - 15 Steps (buy)

Okay, so I snuck in one album review...

Band of Horses – Cease to Begin (buy)

On their previous album, Everything All The Time, Band of Horse was a nice blend of brooding emotion and southern “anthem style” rock. The album was not ground breaking by any means, yet I found that it was an easy album to put on repeat. So what has changed in their new album? Not much really. The guitar riffs and the lead singer’s unique vocals are the strong points for the group. The main problem I have had with both albums is that their slower tracks all seem to blend together. The once exception to this is the wonderful “No One's Gonna Love You.” Although it may appear simple on the surface, the song’s form and tone perfectly encapsulates the complexity of relationships. Another highlight for me was “Island on the Coast” which is just a straight up catchy song, which will have you humming the hook for sometime after the song is done. I just wish there a few more moments like this to off set the numerous “slow building” tracks. If you enjoyed Band of Horses previous work then you should enjoy this album for the most part. Yet if you are new to the band, I would suggest checking their debut prior to plunging into this album.

Band of Horses - No One's Gonna Love You (buy)
Band of Horses – Island On The Coast (buy)

Video: Band of Horses – Is There A Ghost (buy)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Darjeeling Not So Limited

Now that the wedding craziness is winding down it's time to get back to this little thing some call a blog.

Random Song 1: Talib Kweli - In The Mood (feat. Kanye West) (buy)
Random Song 2: The Go Team! - Flashlight Fight (feat. Chuck D) (buy)
Random Song 3: Timbaland - Scream (feat. Keri Hilson and Nicole Scherzinger) (buy)

The Darjeeling Limited

Wes Anderson’s latest film, The Darjeeling Limited, is set around three brothers (Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman) who embark on a journey through India. Similar to Anderson’s previous film, The Life Aquatic, Darjeeling deals with issues of estrangement, conflict, and lost within the family dynamics. Although the plot devices are similar, I found that overall execution was far better here. Stylistically, the film is everything you expect from an Anderson production: smart deadpan humour, wonderful shots in slow motion, and a killer soundtrack.

The film features several Anderson regulars in the cast, who all deliver good performances. Yet it was the newest addition that steals the show. Adrien Brody’s comedic timing is great; he also brings enough weight to the role to keep the character grounded. He is a perfect fit for the world that Anderson has created. Another thing that stood out for me was Anderson’s treatment of the surroundings. He could have easily made this a slapstick comedy about Americans in India. Instead the film is more of a love letter to the country. There is a lot of attention given to the various rituals and customs within the land. The Darjeeling Limited is definitely worth taking a look at.

Random Song 4: Kevin Drew - Lucky Ones (buy)
Random Song 5: Radiohead - No Surprise (buy)
Random Song 6: Animal Collective - Unsolved Mysteries (buy)

Video: 50 Cent - Ayo Technology (feat. Justin Timberlake) (buy)