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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Let’s Get Greedy!

I want a new White Stripes album.

I want a new Fiery Furnaces album.

I want a Toboggan Monster LP.

I want a new Wes Anderson film.

I want a new P.T Anderson film.

I want to make out and write sonnets with Joanna Newsom.

I want to reclaim our title on Monday night trivia.

I want a finished copy of Love is a Bad Poem.

I want to hear that new Michael Jackson album.

I want all the screenplays I’m working on to be finished already.


WHAT DO YOU WANT?

By Zach Hart with 1 comment

A Great Moment in Film

A clip from True Romance...oh, the glory days of Andrew Pierce quoting this scene line by line, impression by impression...impressive.

By Zach Hart with No comments

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

HALL OF FAME ALBUM

The Fiery Furnaces - Rehearsing My Choir


I find this album simply beautiful and very complex. The critics pan most concept albums and they were pretty rough on this one. The album needs to be heard from start to finish like a film, the tracks acting as scenes and setting separate moods…in the end an overall theme is then built. The music is at the highest level of mastery of visual instrumentation, creating a perfect syncopation between the story (lyrics) and the background (instruments). The best example of this is when they talk about the music of a funeral being drowned out by construction work and Matthew comes thumping in with a razor sharp distorted guitar line. Joining Matthew and Eleanor (very hot, in that woman jamming on a guitar way) is their Grandmother Olga Sarantos, who tells the story of her life. I find it charming that they immortalized her childhood and the subject matter being so close to those who created it shows throughout. I would compare this masterpiece to a French new wave film…stupid people just don’t understand it. I know that’s heavy handed but like a French new wave film, if you don’t work to understand the material then it’s easy to dismiss it as bad. I worked at hearing the intention and understanding the story by reading the liner notes…and it melted my heart. What a perfect album that has no semblance of anything ever created before it. Here is what Matthew had to say (I guess he was frustrated by those who weren’t quite understanding his brilliance.)

Dear Listener, Tracks 3 and 4 take place in the 40's; tracks 5 and 6 in the 20's and 30's; track 7 in the later 50's; track 8 starts in the very early 40's; track 9 goes back and forth; track 10 takes place in the early 60's; the final track takes place in the early 90's. Track 2 takes place a few years ago; track 1 took place when it was recorded. The action depicted in "The Wayward Granddaughter" and "Slavin' Away" does not include the character Olga Sarantos plays on the rest of the record. "Slavin' Away" imagines that character--the main character-- fantasizing, a bit remotely, about the hard lot of other women. Now, I wouldn't guess that the Main Character actually thought the woman concerned was riding around in a Norton side-car and operating her own cottage industry trinket assembly/sweatshop: but it might have pleased her to picture it so. "The Wayward Granddaughter" is about a different Greek-American grandmother and her popular granddaughter ("Connie"). They're from Chicago's south suburbs and don't figure in the rest of the record; I wanted to have another (slightly younger) grandmother and family in there for perspective or comparison's sake, so to speak. Thank you for your time, Matthew Friedberger

By Zach Hart with 2 comments

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Come on America...Epic Movie?....Really?

If you haven't heard the blistering news yet, let me bring you up to speed: The lowbrow (now that's an understatement) spoof Epic Movie opened this weekends box office at number one with 19.2 million dollars! Pan's Labyrinth to date has 16.5 million. Come on America. Come on.

By Zach Hart with No comments

Friday, January 26, 2007

Sorry MTV, you hear it HERE first

THE ARCADE FIRE - NEON BIBLE - 9.2

If heaven is anything like this album then I'll wait in line. The much anticipated sophomore album is a great departure from Funeral and serves as a reasonable response to why beer costs five bucks at an indie rock concert. The album was recorded in a church outside Montreal and features contributions from Final Fantasy's Owen Pallett, Calexico's Martin Wenk and Jacob Valenzuela and Wolf Parade's Hadjii Bakara. Wow. The best track on the album is "No Cars Go." A track that I don't expect the likes of Pitchfork to praise but it does everything for me except my laundry. Anyone who is anybody has been "bumping" the leaked tracks "Intervention" and "Black Mirror" and unlike some bands, The Arcade Fire doesn't hide behind those two tracks. The album is a journey. Yes, a slow hike through beautiful lyrics and an orchestra of sounds. I usually give an album at least 24 hours before a review and by rule only give classics over a nine rating, but after hearing this masterpiece...it had to be blogged upon. Arcade Fire...you've been blogged....but you got the last punch in...my face is officially melted. Thank you.

By Zach Hart with No comments

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Let's Take a Look at Mr. Oscar
(Why wait until Feb 25th when you can see the winners here?)

Best Picture
BABEL
THE DEPARTED
LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
THE QUEEN

Prediction: The front-runner unfortunately is The Departed. A star studded cast that is basically a one removed friend of the entire Academy Award voters. But, let's not forget Crash last year flipping out with huge buzz in the last moments of voting to clench the award. Babel is looking strong after the Golden Globes but guess what, that's the Hollywood Foreign Press and the voters never seem to agree with them on best picture. The two sneak attack films are my favorite Little Miss Sunshine and Letters From Iwo Jima. Sunshine could be a shocker because it is a fan favorite and seems to have great lasting power in the mind of the viewer. Iwo Jima has an outside chance just because of Hollywood's obsession with Eastwood...everyone loves him but his recent win with Million Dollar Baby negates a chance (the academy loves to spread out the awards over a five years span, unless your Tom Hanks.) I'm saying right now, The Queen has no chance. There you have it...The Departed with Babel clipping at its heels and hopefully a Sunshine upset.

Best Actress
Penelope Cruz - VOLVER
Judi Dench - NOTES ON A SCANDAL
Helen Mirren - THE QUEEN
Meryl Streep - THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA
Kate Winslet - LITTLE CHILDREN

Helen Mirren will win this...hell, she's won every award up until this point and the academy loves to give best actor and actress awards to people who appear in films that don't have a shot at Best Picture. (The last actor to win the same year his film won best picture was in 2000 with Crowe and The Gladiator. Swank won two years ago along with Million Dollar Baby.) No one even stands a chance to rally because the actress everyone loves is Streep and guess what???-comedies don't win awards. Winner-Mirren.

Best Actor
Leonardo DiCaprio - BLOOD DIAMOND
Ryan Gosling - HALF NELSON
Peter O’Toole - VENUS
Will Smith - THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS
Forest Whitaker - THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND

Wow, the biggest surprise of this years noms was Leo, Gosling, and O'Toole! Who saw any of this coming...Leo has received more noms for the Departed to this point and then BAM!-Blood Diamond. But none of these people have a chance. It's all about Forest Whitaker who look Mirren has bought storage space for all the hardware they have collected in the last months. BUT, and this is a big but, Will Smith has a great chance. It's a popcorn flick and Smith gives an Oscar worthy performance (no joke). The buzz for this film has gone through the roof and let's not forget a huge predictor for the academy awards: EXPECTED GROSS vs FINAL GROSS. Crash had a huge one, Million Dollar Baby had one, and this years huge jumps were The Pursuit of Happyness at 146,531,286 in the US and growing. The winner of this formula is Little Miss Sunshine with 59,594,615 and a start at Sundance not the market. The winner at this point is Whitaker but look out for Smith.

Best Supporting Actress
Adriana Barraza - BABEL
Cate Blanchett - NOTES ON A SCANDAL
Abigail Breslin - LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
Jennifer Hudson - DREAMGIRLS
Rinko Kikuchi - BABEL

This is where predictions get messy. Who knows how supporting awards will go because every year the big upsets occur in these categories. Hudson is the front-runner but after her poor speech at the Globes, her "new actor" status seems a bit forced and unworthy of an Oscar. The only one who could upset the far and away Hudson is Blanchett. I haven’t seen the film but the buzz is crazy and the key to her win is that the film is fresh, just recently being released. She is also a Hollywood standard and voters pick off of name if they are overwhelmed with their screeners. Bebel has no chance so knock those two off. Then the wild card is Breslin for Sunshine. She is really young and seems to feed off the other characters in the film rather than carry her own performance. I'm going to stick my neck out on Blanchett and a film I've never seen.

Best Supporting Actor
Alan Arkin - LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
Jackie Earle Haley - LITTLE CHILDREN
Djimon Honsou - BLOOD DIAMOND
Eddie Murphy - DREAMGIRLS
Mark Wahlberg - THE DEPARTED

Alan Arkin will win this award. I just have a feeling. Their are two people who can challenge and that is Murphy for Dreamgirls who everyone loves and Haley for Little Children...only because someone obscure always has a chance in the category. Good luck Arkin.

Best Director
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu - BABEL
Martin Scorsese - THE DEPARTED
Clint Eastwood - LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA
Stephen Frears - THE QUEEN
Paul Greengrass - UNITED 93

This is always the category that gives us hints for what film will win best picture. Scorsese is the front-runner along with The Departed because everyone loves him (I love his old stuff, the new stuff is shit) and he's never won an Oscar. Eastwood has a chance but I don't think he will get it...if he does win it's for both of the war films not just Iwo Jima, which is unfair. Greengrass and Frears don't have a chance. What's interesting is Sunshine could get the best picture votes but we won't know off this pick because they don't have a directing nom. I would say that if anyone other than Scorsese or Eastwood wins then you can go ahead and mark down The Queen or Babel as the winner of best picture...but this won't happen. This is the big category and Martin will win.

Best Foreign Film
AFTER THE WEDDING
DAYS OF GLORY
THE LIVES OF OTHERS
PAN’S LABYRINTH
WATER

No Volver? It's won everything else and doesn't get a nom, weird. I'm going with Pan's Labyrinth because it's the only one I've seen and has the best buzz going into the voting.

Best Animated Film
CARS
HAPPY FEET
MONSTER HOUSE

Who cares? This category is stupid. The way I approach this is: Cars has made the most money...Cars has won the most awards....Cars will win. My gut says Monster House and Happy Feet seems to be the critics favorite. But I'll stick to the formula and go with Cars.

Best Adapted Screenplay
BORAT
CHILDREN OF MEN
THE DEPARTED
LITTLE CHILDREN
NOTES ON A SCANDAL

This is a hard one. It seems that Little Children received a few acting noms which takes it off the block. Children of Men didn't receive any other big noms so it's out. Borat will receive the Wes Anderson award as I call it...a generous nom that nobody will consider. It's really between The Departed and Notes on a Scandal. I would go with Scandal but Adapted screenplay never takes chances...it always goes to the fan favorite...The Departed.

Best Original Screenplay
BABEL
LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
PAN’S LABYRINTH
THE QUEEN

Unless Babel goes on a Oscar winning spree or Pan's Labyrinth upsets here....Little Miss Sunshine is the clear winner. I say this because the film is nominated for Best Picture without a directors nom which means the film is strong in its writing and acting. Indie films always have a great chance of winning and if it is shut out in all other categories they like to dump off at least one statue to the Cinderella film of the year...Sunshine.

By Zach Hart with 1 comment

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Best Trailer to a Film I Don't Plan on Attending:

THE HILLS HAVE EYES 2



It's one amazing shot with Devandra Banhart's providing the soundtrack. Yes, that's right Banhart's classic "Insect Eyes" will forever be attached to The Hills Have Eyes 2.

By Zach Hart with No comments

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! - Some Loud Thunder - 6.7

Nobody would be guiltier of over-hyping the sophomore album from CYHSY then me (hell, Hank and I wrote a movie around their first album). Sadly, I cannot say too many good things about this great bands recent release. Everything that is amazing about their self-titled album seems to be absent. The opening track is misleading. "Some Loud Thunder" is a fun lo-fi track that boasts Alec Ounsworth's trademark singing...a sound that is lost on all the other tracks minus "Satan Said Dance" a track that has a better demo version then the final. I found myself asking why the band deviated from what brought them success but I guess the answer is found in the constant curse of the sophomore album. Bands want to go where they haven't before...but I want to draw CYHSY a map back to their old stuff. The highlight (a small keychain flashlight in Mammoth Cave) of the album is "Goodbye to the Mother and the Cove" a masterpiece that can be easily turned away from at first listen because of its simplicity. The track opens with a dripping drum beat and dueling guitars. Ounsworth doesn't even sing until 1:18 into the song and when he does it comes in strong. The song later pops out with synths and hard drums. Overall my disappointment can't be measured by anything man made or described by any human language (this blog entry contradicts this statement but shut up). I only have this to say...come back CYHSY, come back.


By Zach Hart with No comments

El Laberinto del Fauno (Pan's Labyrinth)-8.9

A wonderful movie that is much more about the hardships of life during war then the fairy tale world that it is advertised as. It's the mixture of the two worlds that makes this film come to life and investigates the power of the imagination. The cinematography (best of the year) is nothing short of the commonly used word spectacular and sets a tone for the entire film. The performances are natural and the editing does it job...taking nothing away from the unfolding narrative. I highly recommend this film to anyone and everyone and place it as a three way tie for my best 2006 films.

By Zach Hart with No comments

Saturday, January 13, 2007

TOP 39 SONGS OF 2006

(Why 39? Why Not.)

39.) Sparklehorse – Dreamt for Light Years… -- SOME SWEET DAY

Sole owner of the greatest opening to any song in 2006. A strumming beauty of a song that holds throughout.

38.) Matthew Friedberger – Holy Ghost – SEVENTH LOOP HIGHWAY

On an album that is almost unbearable, this track creeps its way into the subconscious and makes you come back for more.

37.) Josh Ritter – The Animal Years – GOOD MAN

This will do until Andrew Bird returns on the scene.

36.) The Little Ones – Sing Song EP – LET THEM RING THE BELLS

Simple and catchy. “Whoooa, ohhh, oh, oh.” Deep lyrics included.

35.) The Gothic Archies – The Tragic Treasury – SCREAM AND RUN AWAY

Accordion pumps float over Stephen Merritt’s raspy story time.

34.) Cold War Kids – Robbers and Cowards – WE USED TO VACATION

Amazing intro and a shredding guitar about 1:23 into the song. Would be higher but the lyrics are as lame as using the word lame to describe something.

33.) Xiu Xiu – The Air Force – THE FOX & THE RABBIT

I’ll defer to Phil for any Xiu Xiu descriptions…seems to be his thing.

32.) The Like Young – Last Secrets – ALMOST SAID YES

Most underrated album of the year with Tap Tap…this song riffles through at a blurring pace and shreds all the way home.

31.) The Killers – Sam’s Town – When You Were Young

I know…shut up! It’s the Killers, yes, this is true…but the song kills. I could keep it a secret but this is an official list and I’m not too ashamed.

30.) Beck - The Information – CELLPHONE’S DEAD

Poppy-hoppy bass dances over Beck’s quick banter resulting in a toe tapping classic.

29.) VCR – Power Destiny – MEGA GOD BLAST

One of my personal favorites is their EP, but this year they released their full length to many unhappy customers. This song however is a return to their earlier sound.

28.) The Raconteurs – Broken Boy Soldiers – LEVEL

Crippled by a summer release, I think a lot of people forgot about this album and song when they were making lists. A great guitar solo rounds this song out.

27.) Lupe Fiasco – Food & Liquor – I GOTCHA

“Kick, Push” is fun and all but this jazz piano; boom box drop track just does it for me.

26.) Grizzly Bear – Yellow House – LITTLE BROTHER

An epic song that never go out of its way to impress. A slow reveal proves to be the best approach for this folk masterpiece.

25.) Danielson – Ships – BLOODBOOK ON THE HALF SHELL

I think I like this song just for the amazing breakdown that occurs 3:33 into it…but the rest in nice as well.

24.) The Fiery Furnaces – Bitter Tea – NEVERS

A collection of sounds from every Fiery album to date.

23.) Bishop Allen - January – CORAZON

Simple song that kicked off the massive month by month EP treats by Bishop Allen. A great song to listen to while walking in the rain, snow, or any other nature-illuminating thing.

22.) Casiotone for the Painfully Alone – Etiquette – BOBBY MALONE MOVES HOME

Hands slamming on a piano and trotting along with the drums creates a tone that anyone can follow and love.

21.) Suburban Kids with Biblical Names - #3 – FUNERAL FACE

One of the most underated albums of 2006 (next to TAP TAP). This is a track that everyone will find and love three years down the road.

20.) Voxtrot – Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives – SOFT & WARM

Just a great listen…so listen

19.) Islands – Return to the Sea – DON’T CALL ME WHITNEY, BOBBY

A stupid track title, but one hell of a pop song.

18.) The Flaming Lips – At War With the Mystics – YEAH YEAH YEAH SONG

FUN…lots of fucking fun.

17.) +/- - Let’s Build a Fire -- STEAL THE BLUEPRINTS

A massacre of sounds…thick guitars hit over simple vocals and constantly changing drums equates to a journey into the various possibilities of indie rock.

16.) White Magic – Dat Rosa Mel Apibus – HOLD YOUR HANDS IN THE DARK

A staggering 6:28 of pure magic. Watch out Joanna Newsom.

15.) Beach House – Beach House – APPLE ORCHARD

A haunting melody prances throughout the song transports the listener to a hypnotic world that I never want to live in.

14.) Tom Waits – Orphans – LONG WAY HOME

With 40+ tracks it kind of tough but this is the one I keep coming back to.


13.) Regina Spektor – Begin to Hope – FIDELITY

Best pop song of the year, hands down. Everyone has to sing along to: “It breaks my ha-ha-ha-ha heart.” Perfect.

12.) Tapes ‘n Tapes – The Loon – INSISTOR

I love this band. The song just makes you want to grab a guitar and play along…or pretend to strum along.


11.) Peter Bjorn and John – Writer’s Block – YOUNG FOLKS

The last minute favorite on a lot of people’s lists. The whistles are perfect and add a special touch to the song.

10.) TV on the Radio – Return to Cookie Mountain – WOLF LIKE ME

Ok, I know I’ve famously said, “TV on the Radio is wildly overrated.” I would like to publicly apologize and admit…this song is great.

09.) Sunset Rubdown – Shut Up I Am Dreaming – THEY TOOK A VOTE AND SAID NO

Much debate between Hank and I about the best track on this album…well this is the right pick.

08.) The Like Young – Last Secrets – FOR MONEY OR LOVE

Most addictive song of 2006. Old Weezer meets the Pixies, that’s all I have to say.

07.) Clipse – Hell Hath No Fury – TRILL

Best rap song of the year…nuff said.

06.) Peter Bjorn and John – Writer’s Block – PARIS 2004

“Young Folk” is everyone favorites and while it is amazing I just can’t say it’s better than this track. I love the beat, lyrics, and overall feeling I get when I hear it.

05.) The Fiery Furnaces – Bitter Tea – I’M IN NO MOOD

Old western piano…and then BAM! Synth heaven. “I was so drunk last night, I didn’t even undress for bed…and the pin in my hair is still stuck in my head.”

04.) Man Man – Six Demon Bag – ICE DOGS

Elvis on crack with angelical back up singers.

03.) Joanna Newsom – Ys – COSMIA

Beautiful. Just marry me…please.

02.) Tap Tap – Lanzafame – WAY TO GO, BOY

Pierce is responsible for this one…best track of the year. It is the year of the accordion so, hey, this is the perfect track. When those drums come in…you know where you stand in this world.

01.) Toboggan Monster – Keep Your Mouth Shut – DEMON WALTZ

Winner by default…what is the default??? It kicks ass.

By Zach Hart with 1 comment

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

THE LITTLE ONES

Great band with a big sound that calls for everyone to gather around the dinner table for large bowls of hot coco and smiles. They have an EP out called Sing Song and you should check it out.

http://wearethelittleones.com/

By Zach Hart with 2 comments

Monday, January 01, 2007

TOP 5 FILMS of 2006

Another just terrible year for film. People freaked out over The Departed which is Scorsese Lite packed to the brim with convoluted story lines, unbelievable accents, and a third act that felt rushed. 2006 brought us the fan favorite Casino Royale, a film that excites its viewers but is packed with some of the worse plot logic/continuity I've ever seen. The punch up scenes written by the "oh, so great screenwriter" Paul Haggis didn't blend with the tone of the rest of the film and anyone who thinks its a good film needs a few lessons in flickering image deduction. With out any further spite, here are my top five films of 2006 (Note: I usually do a top 10 but I honestly can't think of ten good films this year.)

5.) BORAT


4.) THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND


3.) THANK YOU FOR SMOKING

-TIE-

1.) LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE


1.) APOCALYPTO

By Zach Hart with 2 comments