Obviously the publishing companies are getting jealous of the major labels as they’re pushing their own scheme to destroy the industry. The issue is royalties for webcasts and this has been haunting Internet radio stations for the past few years as the rate is set to sky-rocket. The end result has been a disaster- Internet radio firms say royalties limiting choices. Many stations have already shut down and many more will be gone soon too, even some of the bigger ones (Pandora, Live365). The royalty costs are just too much for them to stay in business. So then, web users will have one less legally-sanctioned way to experience music online and where do you think they’ll probably flock to then? Songwriters and publishers should get fair money for their work but when the end result is that the groups representing them (SoundExchange) destroy an industry that would ideally support and promote their work, who wins in that deal? It’s monumental stupidity and yet another example of the music industry killing itself. Publishing houses and songwriters should pressure SoundExchange to come up with a fairer scheme so that these stations can stay in business and the writers get paid fairly.
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Is it fair to judge a comedy as a failure if it doesn’t make you laugh? That’s not really a rhetorical question. Indeed, it is meant to be more reflective than anything else. If an action spoof satisfies genre requirements without ever making you giggle, is it an outright failure, or something more complicated. It’s the issue that arises when discussing Drillbit Taylor, the newest offering from the Apatow et. al. inspired humor conglomerate. On the one hand, screenwriters Seth Rogen and Kristofor Brown (based on a story by none other than John “Breakfast Club” Hughes) do a wonderful job of recreating the awkward freshman dorkdom of early adolescence. But as an intended riotous rib tickler, there is barely a belly laugh to be found.
For skinny, geeky Wade and chubby, curly haired Ryan, the first day of high school is supposed to begin their ascension into cool. Unfortunately, after sticking up for the wussed out, braces wearing idiot Emmit, they become the ongoing target of big time bully Filkins and his ferocious flunky Ronnie. Hoping to find some personal protection, the trio decides to hire a bodyguard. Into their life walks Drillbit Taylor, self-proclaimed Army Ranger and master of martial arts. For a fee, he will guard the boys and help them avoid any further humiliation. What they don’t know is that Taylor is a con man, a beach dwelling homeless bum who needs some quick cash for a planned exile to Canada. Wade, Ryan and Emmit are hoping for a miracle. They get a messed up proto-hobo instead.
Bereft of jokes while overloaded with keenly observed individual moments, Drillbit Taylor can best be described as an almost success. This also means it’s a figurative failure. Like Superbad without the potty mouth, or any number of Apatow-inspired efforts sans the sexual obsession, what could be a bright and breezy coming of age effort gets bogged down in an unnecessary desire to be clever and cutting. Unfortunately, by staying within the confines of a PG-13 rating while pushing the very envelopes of such a standard, Taylor gets equally confused. Instead, it accurately recreates how teens talk and act while failing to illicit a single snicker from the adaptation.
Part of the problem is the now familiar ‘skinny and fatty’ set up to the friendship. It’s becoming an archetypal Apatow trademark. Wade and Ryan are nothing more than surrogates for other symbols from the writer/director’s cinematic setup. One gets the characteristic nerd voice (in this case, a love of magic) while the other is a frat boy without the grain alcohol gimpiness. Nate Hartley and Troy Gentile are winning enough, but since each is doing little more than extending an already formulaic routine, they aren’t offered much room to explore. And things are even worse for Ring boy David Dorfman. His Emmit is a missed opportunity, a Broadway musical loving loser who gets more mugging time than Jerry Lewis during the Labor Day Telethon. But we sense there are other facets to his character than the endless flashing of his metalled mouth.
Yet the biggest letdown comes from Owen Wilson as our so-called adult hero. Smacking of later day Hughes - think Dutch, Uncle Buck, or any number of his substitute parental surrogates - Drillbit possesses a bumbling oaf quality that no longer seems endearing. In fact, it can grow grating at times. And just like almost every movie the Sixteen Candles man has been involved in since Home Alone, burglary is an important plot point. Thankfully, director Stephen Brill doesn’t turn the heist into a slapstick set piece. It happens organically, without any cartoon histrionics. That Wilson waltzes through most of the movie like the sour smell emitted from a pair of rank gym socks is one thing. But his motiveless maneuvering (he doesn’t raise a fist against the bullies because…they’re underage?) and lack of comic bravado deadens his impact.
Indeed, it’s up to the boys to carry this film, and for a while, they do. Brill doesn’t do much more than provide the kind of snapshot touchstone montages that recall Reader’s Digest condescended memories of high school life, and the times when he turns things down (Wade’s crush on an Asian gal named Brooke), the drama barely breathes. In fact, Drillbit Taylor manages to feel like two separate and wholly incompatible movies tossed together and forced to make nice. Instead, they constantly pick at each other like unsettled siblings in the backseat of a long cross country car trip. Eventually, it’s the audience that gets nauseous and needs a rest stop to pull over.
By the time we get to the big showdown, the standoff between the unfathomably evil bully and our newly gonad-ed guys, there’s not much more to do than cheer on the fisticuffs. Drillbit Taylor even allows both kids and adults to get their own special brand of comeuppance. Since entertainment is subjective, and comedy specifically is the most personal of all genres for responses, it’s clear that this film cannot really be universally judged. It comes down to a person-by-person response, a case-by-case reaction to misfired jokes, unexplored cleverness, and a constantly competing sense that a simple, My Bodyguard like story would have worked much better. In the end, Drillbit Taylor is not an awful film. It simply fails to deliver in one obvious way while providing some unexpected insights. Not the greatest recommendation for an all out laughfest, huh?
Now here’s a church who knows how to get with the times—about halfway through the blog of San Francisco’s Mission Bay Community Church is the graphic you see to the right. Not nearly as controversial as, say, Halo 3 night would be, this is an appeal to youth by a church that knows how to hop on the gaming bandwagon without having to explain away all that nasty violent stuff that goes with it. Combine that with the idea that the style of Nintendo’s ‘Mii’ figures immediately recognizable at this point, and you have a brilliant little church marketing campaign.
It’s actually pretty amazing that the Wii has been out for 16 months now, it’s shown up everywhere from physical therapy routines to senior citizen centers to schools, and not once have I seen it used quite so effectively as an informal advertisement. Maybe it’s the burning-with-rage Easter Bunny that does it.
As it turns out, YouTube is chock full of tutorials that will teach you how to make your own Jesus Mii (not to mention Miis for pretty much every other famous person or character out there). The one below isn’t quite the same as the one in the flyer, but it features the Deku Palace music from The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, so it wins.
Enjoy your weekend, all.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre
(songs from My Bloody Underground out on 17 March)
Yeah - Yeah [MP3]
Black Hole Symphony [MP3]
Buy at Amazon
Living Well is the Best Revenge [Video]
Pull Me Out Alive [Video]
Robots in Disguise
We’re in the Music Biz [MP3]
Buy at Amazon
Moreland & Arbuckle
Fishin’ Hole [MP3]
Diamond Ring [MP3]
Never Far Behind [MP3]
This has already been quite a year for quick releases. A few weeks ago, it was Nine Inch Nails’ Ghosts I-IV and then soon after, it was the Raconteurs and Gnarls Barkley who decided to rush their latest albums on to the market. What’s significant isn’t just the speed that these are coming out (no doubt to try to thwart downloads) but also that they were sprung on the marketplace without giving reviewers an early start. Bad movies are usually released without any critic previews because they already know that they’re gonna get panned with what’s with these albums? Rest assured, it’s not because the artists think they’re gonna get panned.