Monthly Archives: April 2010

Happy Town: We’ll See…

Tonight, ABC launches their newest drama, Happy Town.  I’ve been seeing previews for it a lot and am pretty intrigued, so I looked up some reviews, though, and a lot of vitriol is being spewed its way, mostly because it’s being called a low-rent Twin Peaks, but I’m willing to see for myself before I decide.

The cast of ABC's Happy Town.

Now, I love me some Twin Peaks. It was originally broadcast when I was a toddler, but thanks to the wonders of the Internet, I’ve been able to catch the entire series.  It really was pretty awesome, too.  Incredibly insane, but great nonetheless.  I mean, supernatural murderers, (possible) alien abductions, backwards-talking midgets, you can’t go wrong, right?

Happy Town appears to be treading in the same waters, mostly thanks to the small-town locale and spooky melodrama its previews indicate.  Some reviewers are saying it is poorly written but competently acted, and nobody seems to think its chances of survival are strong.  Either way, I think it looks promising with a kooky, foreboding tone and it offers some opportunities for the fun quirky things its predecessor was known for.

I’ll reserve my judgements until tonight when it’s actually broadcast.


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Lisa Schwarzbaum on ‘Kick-Ass’: Lighten Up

Lisa Schwarzbaum from Entertainment Weekly wrote this blog post today in which she rails the creators of the weekend’s box office champ, Kick-Ass, for being overtly homophobic.  This qualifies as the overreaction of the day.

Kick-Ass is apparently a homophobic atrocity.

It doesn’t bother me so much that Schwarzbaum is uncomfortable with the way the lead character, Dave, pretends to be gay to impress a girl, even though she was being far too sensitive about that, too.  We’ve all done dumb things to impress girls.  Hell, I’ve read The Crucible, watched the entire series of Roswell (which I’ll admit to actually enjoying, but it doesn’t make it any less lame), and even waxed my thatch of chest hair once, all in the name of making girls like me.  The way Dave went about his deception in the movie, when the girl of his fancy mistook him to be gay, wasn’t even stereotypical of homosexual behavior; he just continued being himself except for the omission of his sexual orientation.

The thing about Schwarzbaum’s essay that really bothers me is when she talks about the early scene after Dave gets sent to the hospital following his first attempt at super heroics.  He’s beaten, stabbed and hit by a car.  He asks the paramedics not to tell anyone about the super hero suit so the medics say they found him naked.  Dave’s dad brings this up to Dave when he’s recovering.

Dave’s father asks him if anything else happened.  He doesn’t outright say what was on his mind, but it’s very clear he wants to know if Dave had been sexually assaulted during the mugging, due to his “nudity” at the scene (Dave has the paramedics throw out the costume during the ambulance ride to the hospital).  Schwarzbaum insinuates–incorrectly–that Dave’s father is simply worried his son might be gay.  The scene is pretty clear he’s just concerned even worse things may have happened to his son than a beating and is just checking to make sure.  There is no implied homophobia at all, but Schwarzbaum creates some to help her case.  As a film critic by trade, she should have caught on to this instead of twisting what was actually shown to champion her cause.

Schwarzbaum also mentions the way Dave’s friends tease him for the gay rumors, and besides, they are generally making fun of him for not being brave enough to go after the girl he likes. And, you know, a boy liking a girl in the first place is super gay, right, Lisa?

Schwarzbaum acts shocked that this would happen.  As a guy who’s only a couple years removed from high school–an all-male Catholic high school, no less–I can assure you, Ms. Schwarzbaum, that it happens and I’ve never once seen anyone get too bothered by it.  The razzing in Kick-Ass wasn’t even close to the worst I’ve seen in real life, and it actually helped heighten the reality of the movie, because these exchanges are pretty similar to conversations I’ve heard or participated in myself.

Schwarzbaum and other people on the hyper-political correctness bandwagon, particularly in regard to Kick-Ass, need to relax a little.  It’s a little action movie which holds a mirror up to extremely violent action movies and works as a great satire, and these homosexual overtones Schwarzbaum’s alluding to don’t exist between the credits of the movie I saw.

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Band Pimping: Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips released a new album, Embryonic, a couple months back and at the beginning I thought it was all right but nothing special.  But I’ve been listening to it more and more, playing it for my radio show, and it has really grown on me.  This is a band that has always been a little “off” and this album in no different in that respect.  However, this new stuff is more focused on bringing out the psychedelic rock in full force.  It’s filled with all kinds of hard rocking tracks, particularly the album closer, “Watching the Planets”.  That’s an awesome song, but the one that’s really caught my ear lately is the fifth song on the CD, called “See the Leaves”, with its sound of impending doom on the guitar and bass.  If you want a song to listen to while driving very fast, there are worse options out there.

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Cowboys & Aliens Adds Harrison Ford, More Geek Cred

Cowboys & Aliens, a comic book series by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg which will be made into a movie by Jon Favreau (Iron Man director), just gave geeks everywhere reason to be happy by adding Harrison Ford to the cast.

James Bond meets Han Solo in next year's Cowboys & Aliens.

Director Favreau announced yesterday Ford will join Daniel Craig in the self-explanatory sci-fi western, written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof (the team behind the new Star Trek and frequent collaborators JJ Abrams).

I’ve read a little of the comic and can say it’s absurdly interesting.  These two genres don’t normally comingle but it works.  And with the talent involved, it could end up being a nerd paradise.

Favreau is an avowed comics fan and it showed in the massively entertaining Iron Man and (I’d assume) its upcoming sequel.  He knows humor and a property like this is perfect for his wily comedic sensibility.  Orci and Kurtzman are the current screenwriting golden boys in Hollywood, with hits like the Transformers movies and the aforementioned Star Trek to their credit.  And Lindelof is pretty much my hero, as the co-creator of Lost. And of course, Craig is the best Bond since Connery.

But the real coup here is Ford.  The man is a legend.  Han Solo, Indy, Blade Runner, “get off of my plane,” etc.  Everyone knows this stuff and he brings a certain amount of authority to the proceedings.

As an aging actor, something that stands out enough for Ford to want in is enticing.  The script sounds like it could be something special and I am very excited to see what Favreau and the growing cast can do with it.

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Band Pimping: Archie Bronson Outfit

Everyone is gone.  Being in a college town during breaks is like living in a ghost town.  But I have the advantage of a job at the campus radio station, and I can come in whenever I want during these breaks and play music for the good people of Kirksville, MO.  Today is one of those days, and I became reacquainted with a band I hadn’t heard in a while: The Archie Bronson Outfit.

I’m sitting here in the DJ booth just tossing whatever CDs I want into the disc trays and letting ’em rip, and I came across the ‘Outfit’s new album, entitled Coconut.  If you’re into psychedelic rock at all, you need to give this group a listen.  This song, “Magnetic Warrior”, is a heavy, hard-charging tune and it’s just the tip of the iceberg on the album.  I’ll be playing some more of it tonight, that’s for sure.

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The Libertines Reunite!

The Libertines announced yesterday they are reforming to play the Reading and Leeds festivals in England this summer after six years of drug abuse, squabbling, and mediocre side projects.

The Libertines: back together again.

The English band, which hasn’t played together since guitarist, singer, and notorious crack (and heroin, and alcohol, and… you get the idea) addict Pete Doherty burglarized his bandmate, Carl Barat’s, apartment looking for drug money.  It’s a shame because the band was one of the best from the famed early 2000’s Garage Rock Revolution, with two great albums and a boatload of potential for further glory before spinning out of control.

And boy, oh boy, do I love the band.

I love The Libertines because their ramshackle guitars, raucous singing, and fascination with mythological England combine to create the sort of special, poetic punk rock you don’t hear every day.  They took the best parts of early Clash–not surprising considering how Mick Jones produced their two albums–and threw it into a stew with The Smiths and tossed in some Lemonheads for good measure.

I love The Libertines because they opened my early high school mind to the possibility there was much more to music than pop punk.  My current favorite band, Arctic Monkeys, would not be here today if it weren’t for the Libs inspiring them to start a band.

I love The Libertines because they are closer than most bands.  Where contemporaries The Strokes have devolved into a band of guys who can’t even record their albums together, The Libs have overcome a lot of betrayal on Doherty’s part to still want to make good music.  It’s refreshing to see these guys working together–even if it is partly just for the money–to do that.

But mostly I just love The Libertines for the songs.  They’re catchy, they have gravitas, and above all else, they’re fun.  Here’s one of the many highlights from their first album, Up the Bracket.  It’s called “Time For Heroes”.  Hopefully they can keep it together and return to being heroes.

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