{fv_addthis}

Latest Blog Posts

by Kirstie Shanley

10 Jul 2009

If you were to take the lush vocals found in bands like Starflyer 59 and combine them with the beautiful melancholy of fellow Texans Midlake, you might get something close to resembling Robert Gomez. Backed by a keyboardist and French horn player, Gomez, on guitar, played selections from his last two stellar albums, 2007’s Brand New Towns and his most recent, 2009’s Pine Sticks and Phosphorous. It’s a difficult task, but Gomez manages to construct sad pop songs that tend to linger inside your brain long after the song has finished without the interference of drums and bass. Though he does use drums on some of his studio recordings, the loss of them live made it seem more personal rather then something was missing.

Gomez appeared rather thin and tall on stage and yet his demeanor was a very understated and modest one. He filled the room with alternating dreamy instrumentals and then more structured pop songs with lyrics. His voice is never insistent or even passionate but has a gentle quality that suggests a man trying to find his way in the darkness of the world. When he’s not singing, the instrumentals he creates are heartfelt, similar to what Jon Brion does for soundtracks. You can’t help but experience a sense of wonder listening to them as if they are part of a soundtrack to your life and your life has become a strange sort of cinema.

Though he’s an adept guitar player, with some intricate finger picking now and then, his best skill lies within the overall creation of these delicate laments. They are sad dreams for when you’re awake. Gomez began his forty-five minute set with “October 3rd Post”, a glorious symphony that seems in essence to instrumentally describe the wonder of fall and simultaneously the dread of the coming winter. That seemed to set a certain tone and worked as a wonderful companion for “Middle of Nowhere”. Other highlights of the set included “Hunting Song” and “A Paper Figurine”.

by Matt Mazur

10 Jul 2009

Almodovar is one of the most consistently exciting auteurs in the world, and in celebration of his newest film Broken Embraces, PopMatters is readying a week-long look at the director’s life, work and themes. While our inaugural “Directors Spotlight” series is a bit far off (look for the section to run in mid- to late- November, the excellent, nicely-cut English subtitled trailer is out now! Let the countdown to Almodovar Week officially begin!

by Joe Tacopino

10 Jul 2009

Chad VanGaalen has put aside his singer-songwriter persona to explore his electronic side under the name Black Mold. Check his Dan Deacon-like electro wizardry on “Tetra Pack Heads”.

Black Mold
“Tetra Pack Heads” [MP3]
     

by Chris Conaton

10 Jul 2009

Harper’s Island finishes its run with a two-hour series finale on Saturday night. For those few of us who are still watching, it will be a kick to finally see who was behind it all. The main killer has already been revealed, but the question of which cast member or members were his accomplices is still up in the air. But the answer to the question “Why are there so few viewers left?” is worth pondering. Harper’s Island premiered to much fanfare in early April. CBS promoted it relentlessly during its primetime shows and during its coverage of the NCAA basketball tournament in March. The network even gave it a plum schedule slot, right after the still-powerful CSI on Thursday nights. The premiere episode scored great ratings, and yet by May the show was airing in the network dead zone of Saturday night. Even worse, CBS pre-empted the program during the final week of May sweeps in favor of airing reruns of other shows.

So what went wrong? Well, the viewers who tuned into that first episode expecting a taut murder mystery with a healthy helping of violence received the latter, but not much of the former. Truth is, Harper’s Island is not a very good show. There are too many cast members running around to give any character depth to all but the primary three or four leads. The rest are typical stereotypes you see in any soap opera or horror movie. There’s the rich daddy who isn’t happy that his daughter is marrying a commoner, the sleazy uncle who parties too much, the sullen drugged-out brother, the blonde princess with a tiny yappy dog, the earnest foreigner, the bride’s menacing ex, the bumbling fat guy, the douchebag, and the token black guy. Not to mention the residents of the island where the wedding was supposed to take place: the groom’s female best friend, her nice but sorta creepy ex-boyfriend, the bully with a chip on his shoulder, and the sheriff with a history. They needed all these characters because it was a given that the body count was going to be high. But in the early episodes this cast was handled with all the finesse of a daytime soap. They all came with pre-existing backgrounds with each other, but we couldn’t be bothered to care about any of it, especially since we knew most of them were just going to be offed anyway.

by Bill Gibron

10 Jul 2009

I am tired of all the “social commentary” accolades. I am fed-up with the entire “holding a mirror up to homophobic America” excuses. As I was when Sacha Baron Cohen arrived on these shores with a movie made from his hit HBO TV series, I am still not convinced he is the future of comedy. He did indeed change the face of post-modern humor—over to Judd Apatow and the gang. Now the man who made Borat an adolescent after-party merriment (and in turn, banked a few million bucks in the process) is back, ready to redefine funny business once again (I hope the cast of The Hangover is paying attention…). This time around, it’s gender politics that’s getting the ribbing, and like my last run-in with a British comic as faux foreign correspondent, Brüno is far from brilliant. Indeed, it’s a one note movie that forgets said message early and often. 

Clearly cobbled together after an initial approach didn’t work (got to give the fashionistas credit - they saw through Cohen’s ruse rather quickly) the four credited screenwriters return the narrative right back to Borat country, bringing Austria’s favorite TV boy toy to the bigoted US of A to see if lightning strikes this particular ambush angle another time. In what passes for a plot, Brüno is blackballed by the entire European media, unable to get a job after ruining a runway show with his Velcro suit. Setting up shop in LA with his sycophantic manservant Lutz by his side, he is desperate to be famous again.

He hopes to strike a deal for his own celebrity gossip show. When a focus group is less than enthused with his gay-bating gall, he tries to make a sex tape. After that, he goes charitable and adopts a baby from Africa. After a misguided talk show appearance, he is left with only one choice - go “straight”. Seeking the aid of a Christian ‘converter’, Brüno tries to fit in with a group of rednecks. Eventually, he realizes that his fawning assistant Lutz really does care about him. They go off to get married, secure in their belief that love will find a way.

Now, are you laughing yet? Does the plot description make you giggle uncontrollably? If not, you’re going to have problems with Brüno. This is a movie that relies more heavily on story than the “stop and shock” antics as before. There is clearly more scripted material here, attempts by Cohen and the rest of the cast to raise eyebrows by bringing gay life and its many sexual components to the mainstream. This is a movie obsessed with dicks—full frontal and blacked out, anal and oral acts simulated in order to give Joe Sixpack and his adolescent complements a couple of awkward orientation heart attacks. If you’re naïve, in high school, or a dedicated follower of scatology, you’ll think this is genius. Anyone with world experience, however, will feel left out of the loop.

That’s because Brüno never rises to Cohen’s previous levels of truth. When Borat challenged people on their racial or cultural biases, he did so knowing that real reactions merit the biggest laughs. But as we sit through a sequence where desperate stage moms (and a dad) agree to exploit their children for a shot at stardom, the joke is on our lead. All he has to do is watch an episode of Toddlers and Tiaras to see he is years behind the curve in mocking the “anything for fame” mindset. It’s the same when Brüno calls his agent while getting his ass waxed and his anus bleached. We are supposed to snicker at the entire set-up. But outside of a few backwater burgs in the Bible belt, these are subjects spoken about regularly on cable channels like E!

Borat had “gypsy tears” and the whole “stranger in a strange land” strategy. Brüno avoids any such outsider conceits. Our homosexual hero believes he is a player, an icon waiting to be discovered by a populace too dumb to see how fabulous he really is. So how, exactly, does the scene with two incredibly ditzy charity PR gals aid in that intention? Sure, it’s sadly comical, especially when you realize that these bimbos are probably bringing home more money than most hardworking, INTELLIGENT citizens make in a lifetime, but Brüno himself is not sparking their stupidity. Instead, he’s a passive provocateur. He just shows us and lets them destroy their credibility in one amazingly empty-headed example of career suicide.

In truth, Brüno is nothing but 82 minutes of genitals. Its makers want to believe that the sight of a male penis bopping around in extreme close-up will have you rolling in the aisles - and if you are 14, and inexperienced in the ways of the reproduction, it just might. This is a movie that needs you to be as unsophisticated and clueless as the “targets’ being skewered in order to appreciate the “satire” being shoved at the screen. As the line between what has been staged and what is “true” gets blurred and then completely forgotten, all meaning is sapped out of the material. Even the finale, which could have accurately riffed on the overridingly homoerotic nature of mixed martial arts is, instead, another showcase for Cohen to personally “push the envelope” as a performer.

As with all comedy, laughter is subjective, but at this point in the Borat/Brüno game, I’m out. I’m smarter than the people he mocks. I’m too sophisticated to view “found” humor as anything other than an accident. I don’ drape myself over the latest fad and flaunt it as the second coming of anything…and I definitely didn’t buy into the hyper-queer context Cohen was issuing. If I want broad, over-the-top stereotyping laced with genuine comic gold, I’ll dig into my DVD collection and throw on Pink Flamingos, or even better, John Waters’ brilliant deconstructionist camp classic Female Trouble. Ridiculing American rubes is like shooting dead, motionless fish in a barrel filled with Jell-O. The only “genius” involved is getting the public to buy it as scandal. Sacha Baron Cohen has managed that box office bait and switch before. Me? I’m over it.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Players Lose Control in ‘Tales from the Borderlands’

// Moving Pixels

"This is an interactive story in which players don’t craft the characters, we just control them.

READ the article