Oh it is on.
The new Johnnie To. All you need to know.
GHOSH RIHR: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE 3D
I know. It can’t possibly be good. I know this. Go ahead – tell me in the comments. It’s just…I’m on that Neveldine/Taylor train. If I get just a bit of that breed of gonzo, it might be worth seeing once. Once.
THE GOLD RUSH (CRITERION)
Charlie Chaplin does the Little Tramp as a gold miner who finds more than that while prospecting in the Yukon. Criterion mounts a restoration of a film whose elements have not been treated kindly by time. There are those who have said – Chaplin included – that this is the man’s best. I’d fight for The Great Dictator forever, but certainly this features some of his most iconic moments.
HAROLD AND MAUDE (CRITERION)
The greatest love story of our time finally makes it’s Blu bow.
Meatballs is out on Blu Ray today.
And sure, it’s a terrific comedy. It got the best restoration that money can buy – hell, the restoration supervisor on the disc had his own personal masseuse!
Do you know…that the Meatballs Blu Ray was mastered in 1080 progressive scan? That it features a DTS-HD audio mix? Do you know that the disc is coded Region A – so that it won’t play in the former Soviet Union or East and West Germany – but it will play in the fast-growing home video market of Trinidad/Tobago?
But it doesn’t matter! IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER!
‘Cause even if we buy the Blu – HAH! Even if we buy the Blu Ray – and even if we watch it so many times that our noses bleed for a week to ten days…even if GOD IN HEAVEN COMES DOWN FROM ABOVE AND SITS DOWN ON OUR COUCH…EVEN IF EVERY MAN, WOMAN, AND CHILD HELD HANDS TOGETHER AND WATCHED THE MEATBALLS BLU RAY WITH US – IT JUST WOULDN’T MATTER – BECAUSE ALL THE REALLY GOOD-LOOKING GIRLS WOULD GO OUT WITH THE GUYS WHO BOUGHT HAROLD AND MAUDE ON CRITERION DISC!! IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER!!
RED SCORPION (CRITERION)
Synapse Films unloads and unleashes The Dolph as a Spetznaz Kommando who has a change of heart after being tasked with crushing an African revolutionary in the awesome Joseph (Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter) Zito-helmed propaganda actioner/money laundering scheme crafted by D.C. Lobbyist/Right-Wing buttplug Jack Abramoff.
SHALLOW GRAVE (CRITERION)
The joy of your world is a nasty little thriller from Danny Boyle. They need to get around to A Life Less Ordinary next.
Also – look everybody! A Criterion release with artwork that doesn’t look like something I’d have done when I was eight!
Behind Enemy Lines II: Axis Of Evil
Chicago: In Chicago
Entourage: The Complete Eighth Season TV Series
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 3-D
The Gold Rush (Criterion)
Harold And Maude (Criterion)
Humans vs. Zombies
A Little Bit of Heaven
Shallow Grave (Criterion)
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Superman vs. The Elite
Too Big to Fail
BOBBY WOMACK – THE BRAVEST MAN IN THE UNIVERSE
A key figure on the R&B periphery since the late 50’s, Womack never really crossed over, and rarely dented the mainstream charts (one hopes he was getting royalties on the Stones’ cover of “It’s All Over Now”); in the blaxplotation theme-song race of the early 70’s, he came in well third behind Hayes and Mayfield, though “Across 110th Street” actually feels less dated today than either “Shaft” or “Superfly.” But the familiar story of drugs, booze, personal and physical problems (including being shot by at least one wife), have left fans expecting Womack to join the parade of half-forgotten soul obits for years now… and dammit, the man refuses to oblige! He had a brief streak of strong work in the early 00’s, but this new Richard Russell/Damon Albarn-produced effort (following Womack’s appearance on 2010’s “Stylo”) merges the harrowing toughness of that ragged voice with more modern production. That may not make it a better album than, say, The Poet, or So Many Rivers, but given the man’s years of hard living, it’s an amazingly effective one.
“The bravest man in the universe / Is the one who has forgiven first.” The title track would serve as valedictory for most aging soul men; Womack deliberately places it at the beginning, facing with open-faced honesty the closing of a life of physical and emotional frailties. I don’t know if it’s a production choice, or a matter of necessity, but Womack’s familiar guitar is less prominent throughout, with the downtempo rhythms and echoing synths and keyboards driving the sound. And out of the intriguing cast of performers, including Mali’s Fatoumata Diawara, and samples ranging from Sam Cooke to Gil Scott-Heron (on the wickedly cynical “Stupid Interlude”), the most surprisingly effective is Lana Del Rey, providing the perfect cool femme-fatale counterpoint to Womack’s spoken-word samples on “Dayglo Reflection.” Womack’s vocals on The Bravest Man in the World are masterful, from the regret of the opener through the self-awareness of “If There Wasn’t Something There” to the celebration of “Love Is Gonna Lift You Up” and the deep affirmations of faith on “Deep River” and the closer, “Jubilee (Don’t Let Nobody Turn You Around).”
THE dB’s – FALLING OFF THE SKY
Not even the Beach Boys managed to get ALL their original members back for their latest album (though, to be fair, a couple of the Wilson brothers had good excuses). You listen to That’s Why God Made The Radio with a sense of relief that they didn’t fuck it up; you listen to Falling Off The Sky (the first album since 1982 with Peter Holsapple, Chris Stamey, Gene Holder, and Will Rigby) with a sense of “Yep–dudes still have it.”
Opener “That Time Is Gone” is a two-headed statement of purpose: “You better wake up, wake up, wake up / That time is gone,” it admonishes, while its churning guitar and farfisa wash acknowledge that three decades’ worth of rep will always be stuck in the band’s brief college-radio heyday, even while their musical vision grows its horizons. The album is peppered with classic jangle on “Before We Were Born” and “World to Cry,” but stretching its musical muscle in the tough, spare string backing and Abbey Road-style production on “The Adventures of Albatross and Doggerel” and “Collide-oOo- Scope.” The band is ably abetted by such local luminaries as singers Jeff Crawford and Brett Harris, horn players Peter Lamb and Al Strong, and onetime power pop wunderkind legend Mitch Easter, broadening the sonic palette.
And the album takes a surprisingly sober turn with the lovely “She Won’t Drive In The Rain Anymore,” inspired by the destruction of Holsapple’s New Orleans home by Katrina: “Everyone she turned to for grace / Spread out across so many states / What she’d give to see just one face / That would understand she had plans / And the plans just had to change / All it took was that much rain.” While he covered “What Becomes of the Broken-Hearted” for Katrina relief a while back, “She Won’t Drive In The Rain Anymore” is an even more humanizing look at the tragedy. The album concludes on “Remember,” perfectly swinging the mood back to wistful memories before building to a glorious mass of ringing guitars and harmonies.
PAT METHENY – UNITY BAND
The big buzz on Metheny’s latest is that it’s the first time in over twenty years that he’s done a studio recording featuring a reed player (Ornette Coleman on Song X). Personally, I think the most remarkable aspect is that Metheny’s evidently decided that the late-night makeout music gig (One Quiet Night, What’s It All About) wasn’t satisfying enough, and while I continue to find Metheny’s overall sound a little fussy and studio-hinky, the role of bandleader brings out his best.
The album’s a tip of a hat to the legendary 80/81 band, which featured the sax sounds of the late Michael Brecker and Dewey Redman. Today’s lineup includes Chris Potter, Metheny’s longtime drummer Antonio Sanchez, and fluid bassist Ben Williams, a name new to me. Whether evoking Latin dance grooves, vintage fusion guitar, swing rhythm, or Metheny’s familiar fleet-fingered acoustic stylings, Unity Bandis the kind of muscular ensemble that helps its leader stay in focus.
“Signals (Orchestrion Sketch)” is the album’s most ambitious undertaking, harking back to Metheny’s recent, experimental Orchestrion album, opening with a fascinating treatment of Potter’s looped bass clarinet, followed by layers of bass and guitar, finally building to an almost Reich-ian wall of sound; I won’t say that it sustains all of its nearly twelve-minute length, but longtime Metheny fans will find it the meatiest offering here. Other highlights include the insistent Celtic feel pulsing through “Roofdogs,” and the slyly bittersweet “Interval Waltz.”
OTHER NOTABLE 6/12 RELEASES:
Assemblage 23 – Bruise
Bigbang – Still Alive
Bodeans – American Made
The Bouncing Souls – Comet
Mary Chapin Carpenter – Ashes & Roses
Brian Culbertson – Dreams
Edens Edge – Edens Edge
Bill Evans – Live at Art D’Lugoff’s Top of the Gate
Jimmy Fallon – Blow Your Pants Off
Guided By Voices – Class Clown Spots a UFO
Hot Chip – In Our Heads
Jukebox the Ghost – Safe Travels
Steve Martin, Bela Fleck and Marc Fields – Give Me the Banjo
Metric – Synthetica
Miss May I – At Heart
Motion City Soundtrack – Go
Grace Potter & the Nocturnals – The Lion The Beast The Beat
Rush – Clockwork Angels
Ed Sheeran – +
Stevie Stone – Rollin Stone
The Tallest Man on Earth – There’s No Leaving Now
Josh Turner – Punching Bag
Mark Turner, Larry Grenadier and Jeff Ballard – Year of the Snake
Usher – Looking 4 Myself
LOLLIPOP CHAINSAW (360, PS3)
Suda51. James Gunn. And the title is motherfuckin’ Lollipop Chainsaw. If none of those things are worth sixty bucks to you, you’re on the wrong site.
DIRT SHOWDOWN (360, PS3)
Codemasters have fine-tuned the Colin McRae series into some of this generation’s best racers with the Dirt series. So after last year’s fantastic Dirt 3, why devolve the storied and respected franchise into a bro-festive demolition derby game? I don’t get their logic. Did Ken Block finance this game?
GRAVITY RUSH (Vita)
A pretty action/RPG with an interesting mechanic. Nothing special, but hey – a reason to play the Vita.
METAL GEAR SOLID COLLECTION (Vita)
And now an even better reason to play the Vita – Metal Gear Solid 3. We don’t get an HD Peace Walker like this collection’s big brothers, but portable MGS3 with proper frame rate is the only thing that matters anyway.
That’s how we do. See you fiends next week.