Saturday, May 30, 2009

Beirut's Sunday Smile

In light of this weekend's wonderous weather here's one of my favorite groups, Beirut, doing "Sunday Smile" during a one-off (or take away as they call it in Europe) show in France a few years ago.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Film Review: The Arrival

1996 was a good year- Deep Blue the chess computer beat world champion Garry Kasparov, we cloned sheep, and how could anyone forget the discovery of “element 112” better known by it’s stage name, Ununbium? It was also the year that brought us David Twohy’s Sci-fi thriller, The Arrival, starring Charlie Sheen and recently deceased character actor Ron Silver. The concept behind the film is clever and certainly timely focusing on global warming as Sheen who plays Zane Zaminski, (worst character name ever) a radio astronomer, stumbles upon an extra terrestrial radio transmission than leads to a conspiracy which leads to a very campy special effects extravaganza in Mexico.

It’s quite an interesting ride even though the plot is a bit predictable at times and moves too quickly. There is a certain John Water’s over-the-top Attack of the Killer Tomatoes feel which is enjoyable especially because it takes itself absolutely seriously at every moment. Sheen is totally 90’s sheik in the film and shortly after the opening credits becomes a stereotype of the “impassioned, scientist who is trying to save us all at any cost” and Silver plays one of his trademark roles as “the guy in the suit who’s pulling all the strings.”

The film is interesting because it shows some of writer/director David Twohy’s early style (he went on to write and direct Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick) and although it doesn’t come through on its potential it’s fun in it’s own unique way. It’s just been re-released on Blu-Ray and it’s a perfect choice for Science fiction nuts, LSD fanatics, and the people of Tepotzotl├ín, Mexico where it was filmed.

Film review for Short & Sweet NYC

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Art Anywhere, Improv Everywhere

Here's a great recent mission from the improv group Improv Everywhere where they took the 23rd street subway station and made it an art gallery- Marcel Duchamp would be proud! If you want to be part of the next mission and you're free next weekend they are doing their 6th Mp3 Experiment on Roosevelt Island.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

2009 New York Photo Festival

I recently reviewed the The New York Photo Festival for Short & Sweet NYC. The festival, which runs through May 17, has a terrific opening party (pictured above) and a number of different exhibitions, workshops, talks, and events on hand which focus primarily on the future of the photographic medium. Well known photographers such as Eugene Richards and Lauren Greenfield will be making their way to the stage as well as representatives from some of the photographic establishments which are tuned into the cutting edge of the medium such as Aperture and JPG magazine.

Some of the highlights of the festival include Jon Levy’s curatorial show “Home For Good” which focuses on the many forms of visual storytelling, Veronique Bourgoin’s “Magic Trick” which shows off the wonder of the soon to be deceased Poloroid, and the work at the Randall Scott Gallery (especially the series by Brad Harris and Henry Leutwyler) all of which have a documentary edge to them. Also, make sure to check out William A. Ewing’s “We Are All Photographers Now” which is a projection of the very diverse work of anyone and everyone who submits it online and well might be the most interesting show in the festival.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Film Review: Extreme Movie

If you’re locked in a foreign prison camp and your captors have reduced you to the bare essentials of human existence they might just use the new DVD release, Extreme Movie to push you past the brink of sanity. The film is incredibly terrible with nearly no redeeming qualities whatsoever. What is truly ponderous is how such a large group of talent could produce such a large steaming pile of excrement, in fact the only extreme thing about the movie is how extremely difficult it is to sit through. The film credits a plethora of writers (who may or may not have sold their soul to the devil and done this film to fulfill the contract) including Saturday Night Live’s Will Forte, Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone. It also features well known actors such as Michael Cera, Jamie Kennedy, Matthew Lillard and Frankie Muniz whose families were probably all being held hostage while the movie was being shot.

The film itself is a collection of sketches focused on teens and sex much in the style of films like Another Teen Movie, Scary Movie and well, who cares. There are sketches that work but I defy you to make it through the film to find them. In addition, the film is unrated so there are a few occasional nude scenes but most of the “edgy material” is just stupid, like crazy stupid.

The film’s failure is so all encompassing that it is hard to identify the precise fault lines of the disaster but from looking at the carnage, the film sat on a shelf for a number of years, so it appears that the problems were overt from the beginning. On a positive note, the DVD case is made out of plastic and is reusable and the back side of the DVD itself can be used as a makeshift mirror in emergencies. If you sincerely don’t like someone, it makes a really good gift.

Review for: Short & Sweet NYC

Friday, May 8, 2009

Monster by mail

If you like mail and you like monsters, here's a cool project to check out called monster by mail by Len Peralta. For $25 bucks he'll draw a monster for you based on the name you send and for an extra $10 he'll post a clip of the drawing being made up on youtube.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

DVD Review: Leonard Cohen - Live In London

Each crafted word resonates as it lingers just above the music with a deep and elegant poignancy in Leonard Cohen’s new DVD, Live in London. It takes just one song to command the viewers complete attention in this live performance as Cohen, who is now in his early 70’s, sings in his trademark bass-baritone with enormous precision. The singer shows off his tremendous stage presence with beautiful, soulful melodies, even though he might be more well-known to mainstream audiences for his writing than his actual performance (with songs like “Hallelujah” and “Suzanne” often covered).

The performance was filmed in July 2008 at London's 02 Arena and opens up with a classic rendition of “Dance Me To The End Of Love”. He follows it up with some of his trademark songs such as: “The Future”, “Bird On The Wire”, and “Everybody Knows”. The first set includes wonderful versions of “Who By Fire” and “Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye” featuring some outstanding accompaniment by Javier Mas on the archilaud and Dino Soldo on the harp. The first set ends with Leonard stating that it’s a privilege to be able to “gather in moments like this when so much of the world has plunged in darkness and chaos” as he introduces “Anthem”.

The second set begins with a very humble Cohen talking about growing old followed appropriately by “Tower of Song” which opens with the phrase “Well my friends are gone and my hair is grey, I ache in the places where I used to play”. The show continues with all the favorites such as: “Suzanne”, “Hallelujah”, “Democracy”, and “So Long, Marianne”. The set includes a sorrowfully smooth version of “Sisters Of Mercy” and a heavenly rendition of a song that Leonard states is more of a prayer than a song, “If It Be Your Will”, which is sung by backing vocalists Charley and Hattie Webb. The show concludes with “Closing Time” and an encore featuring “I Tried To Leave You” and an A Capella version of “Whither Thou Goest” sung by the whole band.

In all, the show is a startlingly powerful performance by Cohen who proves he is as much a brilliant singer and performer as a writer. The band which is stocked with excellent musicians is perfectly in-tune to his every moment and brings the songs alive with their musicianship and diverse instrumentation. As an added bonus the DVD comes complete with all the song lyrics which allows the viewer to go back and appreciate the subtle craft of each line.

Review for

Monday, May 4, 2009

Film Review: Yes Man

Positivity has its benefits and it’s also totally entertaining when you watch Jim Carrey make the theory a reality in the newly released DVD Yes Man. The film is based on the true story of English humorist Danny Wallace’s theory of saying yes in situations where you would normally say no, which he chronicled in a book by the same name and the theory is truly interesting and wondrous. The film, which was directed by Peyton Reed (The Break-up and Upright Citizens Brigade), wins the audience over quickly and is absolutely fun to watch as it pairs a classic wacky Jim Carrey character in Carl Allen with an onslaught of weird and unlikely scenarios that do hammer home the concept of staying positive in life and making yourself open to opportunities.

The plot is a bit expected (in addition to being a bit too similar to earlier Carrey films like Liar Liar) as Carl, the tightly wound loan officer who denies everything by day living almost hermetically, accidentally encounters an old friend who opens him up to the theory with a pamphlet but the cast does a great job in making it fresh and once the action begins, Carrey falls right into place with his trademark silliness and boundless energy. Zooey Deschanel plays Allison, the off-beat artsy musician love interest who pops up to give Carrey’s character a ride and later reunites with him accidentally as he says yes to attend a show by her band "Munchausen by Proxy" (who are actually pretty good despite being a fictional band). Crazed wackiness ensues as Carrey’s character says yes to a Persian Wife finder website, guitar lessons, flying lessons, Korean lessons, and countless loans which he approves for everyone who enters and of course it all catches up with him.

The film won’t be put into the great American Canon any time soon but it’s perfect for a rainy day and is one of those films you can watch repeatedly without exhausting. The extras are also fun to watch as Carrey does most of his own stunts for the film including bungee jumping off a bridge and come on, who doesn’t love the Jim Carrey outtakes?

The review was featured on Short & Sweet NYC.