Marginal Utility
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When shopping nirvana shrivels away like the mega mall growing incrementally smaller behind you at the end of a long day, and buyer's remorse begins gnawing at your nerves, and you begin to fret the futility of it all, Rob Horning's blog, "Marginal Utility", steps in to stimulate your woefully neglected neocortex. Read, laugh, weep, but above all: realize. You'll feel smarter again in no time.
More Recent Features

9 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

Gigli (2003)

It's tempting to imagine what extras might have been like for a Gigli DVD, given that the film received what had to be the most vehement critical drubbing of any released this past year.

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9 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

The Dark Crystal (1982)

It's ability to inspire terror is indicative of its creators' amazing craftsmanship.

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9 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

Bonjour Tristesse (1958)

Draws much of its visual and dramatic effectiveness from Preminger's intelligent use of the screen process of the 1950s, Cinemascope.

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9 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

Bad Boys II (2003)

In almost every way, Bad Boys II is larger, louder, and longer than the original. It is also more of the same.

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8 Dec 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Various Artists: Blues Story [DVD]

The best thing about this blues documentary is that it doesn’t speak for itself. It has no narrator; instead, it organizes interview clips (real

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	Simon and Garfunkel: The Essential Simon and Garfunkel

Naturally, we are duty bound to consider the music, the recordings, first of all. Most perhaps, come to Simon and Garfunkel by way of the

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8 Dec 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Slipstream: Transcendental

I’ve been living with Slipstream’s latest release, the incessantly languid Transcendental, for about a month. I’ve listened numerous times and the more

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	Jason Ringenberg: A Day at the Farm with Farmer Jason

Jason Ringenberg is better known as the hell-raising frontman for country-rock band Jason and the Scorchers. The touring and gigs has resulted in him being

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	Virgínia Rodrigues: Mares Profundos

There is such a thing as beauty, beauty that exists and cannot be denied or dismissed or even really explained, and Virgínia Rodrigues’s

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8 Dec 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Iggy Pop: Skull Ring

As music is an ever-changing landscape of trends and tastes, each cyclical period will be highlighted by a handful of albums that stand apart from

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	The Pleased: Don’t Make Things

In their brief career, the San Francisco, California, five-piece band the Pleased has already racked up quite an impressive tally of scene points having played

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	Jean-Michel Pilc: Cardinal Points

This has turned out to be quite a year for piano trios. 2003 has seen the release of the Keith Jarrett Standards Trio’s Up for

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	Jimi Hendrix: Jimi Plays Berkeley [DVD]

Seeing as how little exists in the way of Jimi Hendrix archival material on film, it’s easy to get excited over the release or

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8 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

The Tracy Morgan Show

Tracy Mitchell (Tracy Morgan) is more bland than 'streetwise,' a means to market 'blackness' to NBC's viewers.

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8 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

The Simple Life

Nicole Ritchie and Paris Hilton have no discernible talents (I haven't seen the video) and personalities as pleasant as a bout of dry heaving.

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8 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

Married to the Kellys

If you watch 'family' sitcoms at all, you're already familiar with the Kellys: quirky kinfolk whose weekly crises are tied up with a big laugh and a group hug.

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8 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

Line of Fire

Line of Fire trots out an entire season's worth of supporting cast in its initial 60 minutes, each with his or her own thumbnail typology.

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	Various Artists: The Motown Story - Volume I: The 1960s

Forget the Beatles. Forget the British Invasion. Forget Haight-Ashbury. The musical world of the 1960s was shaped and subsequently dominated by the entity known as

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7 Dec 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Peaches: Fatherfucker

Even though Peaches could be argued to be one of the progenitors of the genre, electroclash has always seemed to me to be one of

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	Lucero: That Much Further West

With Ryan Adams off on his own planet where he can impress rock critics with his CD collection, where’s an alt-country-punk fan supposed to

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	Abbey Lincoln: It’s Me

I have poignant memories of the day after Betty Carter died. It was October of 1998 and I decided to take time out of my African-American

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7 Dec 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Lovetap: There’s This Girl

Sometimes working in retail leads to better things. Take the case of Omaha, Nebraska’s Galen Keith and Gene Sanny, who worked together in the

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7 Dec 2003 // 11:00 PM

	The Joggers: Solid Guild

The Joggers are smarter than most bands. Having spent their time paying attention to details in their music that lesser bands overlook, they’ve turned

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	Paula Frazer: A Place Where I Know: 4 Track Songs 1992-2002

Paula Frazer has made a name for herself when it comes to dark tales and the South. Growing up in Sautee Nacoochee (say that three

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	Various Artists: Ministry of Sound: DJ Skribble and David Waxman Present American Anthems

The first couple of times I listened to the latest compilation bearing the Ministry of Sound imprimatur, I was reminded of Kenneth Branagh’s bizarre

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4 Dec 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Yellowcard: Ocean Avenue

Having reviewed more than my fair share of pop punk CDs this year, I have no qualms announcing that too much of the scene is

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4 Dec 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Kanye West: Get Well Soon / I’m Good

:. e-mail this article:. print this article:.

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	Muddy Waters: Martin Scorsese’s The Blues: Muddy Waters

Muddy Waters‘s sound is the sound of the blues. Even more than Chuck Berry is the prototypical rock artist, Waters is the prototypical blues

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Gerald LeVert: Stroke of Genius

LeVert has simply put in the work, rarely taking creative or stylistic risks, and easily becoming, if not the greatest, at least the most consistent male R&B artist of his generation.

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4 Dec 2003 // 11:00 PM

The Kingsbury Manx: Aztec Discipline

Should the Kingsbury Manx record an entire collection of songs this calibre, the band will have produced a classic record more than worthy of the praise that met its over-hyped debut.

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	Joan Baez: The Complete A&M Recordings

It’s easy to see Joan Baez as a historical artifact, a nostalgic icon capable of evoking a misty, sanitized vision of social protest without

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	The Autumn Defense: Circles

You can generally rely on a few albums each year that come out in the winter months to try and compliment the cold and falling

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4 Dec 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Atmosphere: Seven’s Travels

2003 will go down as the year when rap finally overtook dance pop (née disco) as the driving force of Top 40 radio. By this summer,

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4 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

Any game that has players choosing among a malt liquor bottle, a basketball, or an Uzi for playing pieces is certainly harmful.

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4 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

Timeline (2003)

Based on Michael Crichton's novel, Richard Donner's movie features a creaky father-son reconciliation story framed by a bizarre collision of Sci-Fi and Medieval Tymes.

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The Triplets of Belleville (2003)

Sylvain Chomet's first feature is a doggedly strange, if effortlessly whimsical, movie that fuses vaguely recognizable elements to form an exceedingly alien universe.

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4 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

My Architect (2003)

In a sense, his father's buildings are Nathaniel's villains, monuments to his father's priorities.

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4 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

The Last Samurai (2003)

It's a grand vehicle, with horses, martial arts, and vast armies, not to mention Tom Cruise's shiny shoulder-length hair flowing just right.

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4 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

In America (2003)

Everything in In America turns magical once Mateo appears.

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4 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

Honey (2003)

Honey's so good that local hoochie mama just has to challenge her.

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The Haunted Mansion (2003)

It is as feeble a film as you're likely to see this year.

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Gigantic (A Tale of Two Johns) (2003)

With a Grammy, dozens of connections to other media, the best-selling album on the Internet, legions of fans, and a 20-year music career, it's hard to think of TMBG as anything other than gigantic.

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4 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

Bad Santa (2003)

In its best moments, Bad Santa taps into a very real sadness that most people try to gift-wrap away.

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4 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

Anything But Love (2003)

Aspiration is the only thing Anything But Love has plenty of.

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3 Dec 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Polmo Polpo: Like Hearts Swelling

With the foliage here in the Northeast of North America turning their yellow worst, signalling as it were the start of another long winter, it

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	Ghosts & Vodka: Addicts and Drunks

Next to Ian Williams of Don Caballero (and now Battles), Victor Villareal is one of the most of the most inventive guitarists in indie rock.

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	Beth Gibbons and Rustin Man: Out of Season

Out of Season, released in England by Beth Gibbons and Rustin Man a full year ago, has been made available here in the US at

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	Guided By Voices: Human Amusements at Hourly Rates

By the time this page fully loads, Guided By Voices’ Robert Pollard will have probably composed, performed, mixed and pressed yet another tightly coiled pop-rock

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3 Dec 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Denali: The Instinct

The worst part about freezing to death would be the sheer boredom. You’d lose feeling throughout your body well before unconsciousness set in, and

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3 Dec 2003 // 11:00 PM

	The Dishes: 3

To be honest, I didn’t really like this album after the first listen. Partially, that’s because of the first track, which is more

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3 Dec 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Canoe: I Give You . . . Canoe!

Ready for something loud and tasty from the capital of everything perfect in rock and roll, Austin, Texas? Then you’re ready for Canoe. You’

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Batman is no different than you or me: he adapts to survive in a constantly changing world, and there aren't many superheroes out there who can boast the same.

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3 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

Flipping through the book, you may finish and wonder just what it is you've been reading.

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3 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

Thompson's work is fluid, with broad sweeping lines that capture the childhood and dreamlike elements of the book magnificently.

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The Weakerthans: Reconstruction Site

In a move pretty much guaranteed to bewilder Serious Young Hipsters everywhere, John K. Samson—with his central Canadian band the Weakerthans—has embarked on a relatively gentle (and literate) pop heading seemingly very much at odds with the metronomic, angular (and angry) discord of his former punk band, Propagandhi.

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2 Dec 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Throwing Muses: self-titled

I made a big mistake. I thought I could talk about the first Throwing Muses album objectively enough to outline a rational explanation of why

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2 Dec 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Talking Heads: Remain in Light

By now, most people know that nerds are cool. I recently realized that my nerdiest relative, the uncle who went to MIT, gave me my

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Red Hot Chili Peppers: Blood Sugar Sex Magik

The best music sticks with us because it helps contextualize our pasts—is as much about timing and experience as it is about rhythm and sound—and because of this, Blood Sugar Sex Magik is the most important album I own.

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	Mark Lanegan: Here Comes that Weird Chill (Methamphetamine Blues, Extras and Oddities)

During grunge’s heyday, Mark Lanegan was best known for his leading role in Screaming Trees, one of the genre’s few bands that captured

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	Ladytron: Softcore Jukebox

Have you ever been handed a mix CD (or mix tape) by a friend, who happens to be a major music geek? You politely promise

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	Peter Gabriel: Peter Gabriel [2]

First, there’s the voice. It’s a scratchy tenor. Peter Gabriel was only 28 when he recorded his second solo album. I’m sure his

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	Carla Bley Big Band: Looking for America

It has been difficult to write about Looking for America, the latest disc from the Carla Bley Big Band, because it has seemed to mean

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2 Dec 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Blackstreet: No Diggity: The Very Best of Blackstreet

I have terrible, seething road rage. I’m the jerk who will honk at a moron who takes longer than a nanosecond to push his

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2 Dec 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Blue October: History for Sale

Blue October are a unique band, not only because of their ethereal brand of modern rock, but because they must be one of few acts

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2 Dec 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Edie Brickell: Volcano

“So young and beautiful”, sings Edie Brickell sweetly, a killer bass line played on guitar accenting the “if” in her voice. Building her way up

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2 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

S E T    L I S T CaravanCanteloupe IslandMilestonesTheme from the Naked CitySex MachineIt Was a Very Good YearPare CocheroGuajeo en DominanteI Like

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2 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

Leona Naess came radiantly onto the stage in a red gypsy blouse with long, dark curls falling around her shoulders, a plastic cup of wine

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2 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

S E T    L I S T Starlite #1Give What You TakeThis Road I’m TravellingSarahIn Love with a ViewBattle of the Broken

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2 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

Ted Leo can sure fill a venue. So far this year, he’s played four shows (that I know of) in Chicago, including this one,

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2 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

“We thought we’d ease into the evening,” said Eileen Ivers, as her audience wiped the sweat away after the opening tunes. A set of

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2 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

Firewater Sullies America: An Invitation to Release or a Rejection of the Beyond? Unexpectedly, I was forced to realign my top twenty bands and obsessions

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Ex Models In what has become a weekly exercise in sanctimony, I have come here once more to complain about how I saw a fucking

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2 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

Photo credit: Keri-Ann Laurito S E T    L I S T Grey GhostShunned + FalsifiedThank You, Lord, For Sending Me the F TrainThe Only

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Ultimate Punishment: A Lawyer’s Reflections on Dealing with the Death Penalty by Scott Turow

Ultimately, to Turow, the issue is one of moral proportion. The perpetrators of the most violent crimes, the most depraved of the depraved, would seem to warrant the most extreme of penalties.

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Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity by David Foster Wallace

This account of infinity is enough to make a head reel, as paradoxes, mind games, and riddles that left the greatest minds in mathematics stumped for ages are packed into a matter of a few hundred pages.

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Cool for Cats by Jessica Adams

The debate as to the merits of chick lit continues to rage: Is it just about girls, gossip and getting laid, or is there something deeper to be found inside those rainbow-colored covers?"

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2 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

American Woman by Susan Choi

No matter how far they drive or how deep they hide, the fugitives cannot escape their compromised morality, their Americanness.

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1 Dec 2003 // 11:00 PM

	TRS-80: Shake Hands with Danger

Chicago’s TRS-80 is named after an old Radio Shack computer from the ‘80s that had the mental capacity of a pocket calculator and wasn’

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1 Dec 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Sister Hazel: Chasing Daylight

Clearly, the members of Sister Hazel don’t agree with the sentiments expressed in Sheryl Crow’s “A Change Can Do You Good”, and the

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	Nappy Roots: Wooden Leather

The coolest thing in the history of the world is the fact that September 16 of last year was “Nappy Roots Day” in the commonwealth of

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	Geoff Muldaur’s Futuristic Ensemble: Private Astronomy: A Vision of the Music of Bix Beiderbecke

Bix, as everybody called the short-lived musical genius with the unwieldy surname, was idolised by Doc Cheatham, who extolled wholeheartedly the influence which led earlier

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1 Dec 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Mates of State: Team Boo

Some peoples’ joy spills over into their music. And that’s just grand. And sometimes it serves to piss me right off. Their instruments are

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	John Mayer: Heavier Things

A few nights prior to writing this review, I reviewed John Mayer‘s Toronto concert. The very idea that he performed at the city’s

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	My Chemical Romance: I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love

Maybe I’m late to the party, but punk’s officially gone goth. A genre that could reliably describe grimy streets from London to L

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1 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

(Uhura's) USS Starship Enterprise world was both multiculti and alien, which offered a familiarity of what it is like to grow up black and female in America.

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The Honeymooners: Classic 39 Episodes

Watch an episode of The Honeymooners and you will understand why the 1950s is remembered as the 'Golden Age of Television.'

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1 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

X2: X-Men United (2003)

At once all powerful and utterly powerless, this involuntary terrorist is the first mutant you meet in X2.

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1 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

The Out-of-Towners (1970)

The real peril, though -- the one preceding all the others -- is that if you let it, the city can steal your thoughts.

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The Mondo Cane Collection (1962-1971) - PopMatters Film Review
)

Most everything in The Mondo Cane Collection is unconventional, from subject matter to editing and direction.

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1 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

The Marrying Kind (1952)

Hollywood did not allow Holliday to display the full range of her talent and intelligence; most of her roles were variants of the 'dumb blonde'.

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1 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

Millennium Actress (2003)

Memory fuses with fiction and history, and both are subordinated to Chiyoko's overwhelming drive to fulfill a girlhood desire.

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1 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

Le Cercle Rouge (1970)

It was one of Melville's most commercially successful features, which comes as little surprise considering the pedigree of its stars.

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1 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

Amateur (1994)

Its strengths lie not in this improbable plot, but in Hartley's challenges to conventions.

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1 Dec 2003 // 1:00 AM

Alice in Wonderland (1966)

Trapped by time, engaged in meaningless caucuses until they're utterly spent, the adults here are really just interested in beheading each other.

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	The Derek Trucks Band: Soul Serenade

Derek Trucks certainly has an impressive blues and Southern rock pedigree. He’s the nephew of Allman Brother drummer Butch Trucks, and he’s also

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30 Nov 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Diffuser: Making the Grade

After disappointing sales of Diffuser‘s debut album, Injury Loves Melody, Hollywood Records have obviously insisted that the band alter its alternative, melodic sound to

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30 Nov 2003 // 11:00 PM

	David Dondero: The Transient

Once upon a time in America, the tradition grew of the lonesome troubadour, traveling across this nation, guitar in hand, singing and writing songs about

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	Dub Pistols: Six Million Ways to Live

Six million ways to live, and just as many folks out there trying to express themselves, waiting to be heard. There are as many genres

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	The Beatings: The Heart, the Product, the Machine and the Asshole

Once upon a time, there was this band from Boston and they were called the Beatings. In 2002, they released Italiano, an album that had critics

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30 Nov 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Barely Pink: Last Day of Summer

The Tampa Bay quartet Barely Pink (named for a lipstick color mentioned in The Valley of the Dolls) is known for its hard straight-ahead melodic

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More Recent Features
//Mixed media
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'SUPERHOTLine Miami' Is Exactly What It Sounds Like

// Moving Pixels

"SUPERHOTLine Miami provides a perfect case study in how slow-motion affects the pace and tone of a game.

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