No alarms and no surprises, please.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Unreviewable Reviews

The following are quick reviews of things that are damn difficult to review, mainly because you likely already have an opinion about them and I may be too excited about them to .

1) Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix - Good god, this movie kicked ass if you are a Potter geek. Probably the best performances by the cast in any of the films. The Portrayal of Dolores Umbridge was fantastic and the final scene at the Ministry of Magic was great. An obvious must-see for Potter fans, I can imagine anyone who doesn't recognize the characters off the bat would be completely lost. They trimmed a big fat book to the shortest running time of the series by trimming exposition and a lot of the bits that aren't central to the plot. Most notably the thread with Snape and Harry learning that his dead parents are real people with palpable faults. I remember reading this and thinking how Harry is really becoming a disillusioned youth. This is mostly left out of the movie.

2) Shut Up And Sing - This is a DVD, I picked up for my wife, who is a country music fan. Of all the country crapola I've been subjected to, only the dixie chicks has made it through the Fridge-Suck-Filter. I kinda liked them for a while. When they pissed off Red America, I really loved them. Then they came out with a completely unrepentant fuck-you album and I was hooked. I now consider myself a Dixie Chick fan. So, I finally got around to watching this movie, which is a documentary that begins with the Chick's lead singer in 2003 saying that they are ashamed that the president is from Texas. It follows them for the next 2-3 years as their careers hit a wall of whacko country radio political orthodoxy. They tank, record a new album, have babies and return to a legitimately smaller fanbase. It was a very interesting documentary, depicting the Chicks keep on keepin' on as they try to continue to do what they love to do without saying sorry. There were also a few interesting, "Wait, what?" moments. Moment #1) They hired a studio drummer to play for them on the new record. Looks just like the dude from the Chili Peppers. Turns out it IS that dude Chad from Red Hot Chili Peppers. Moment #2) The album is produced in part by Rick Rubin. Yes, that Rick Rubin of Beasties, Run DMC, Aerosmith, Johnny Cash, U2, Public Enemy. No wonder I really like this country album. Moment #3) Natalie Maines, the lead singer of the Dixie Chicks is married to Adrian Pasdar. He is better known today as Nathan Petrelli on Heroes. In fact, at one point, she's going on stage at a show, he gives her a kiss, says goodbye and I kinda expected him to fly off. That was weird. Disclaimer: I'm strangely obsessed with Natalie Maines. Not sure why.

All in all, decent movie and the highlight is definitely the end, where they go back to the same venue where the whole brouhaha began and instead of apologizing, they say the same damn thing. Kick ass. Good album, too.

3) Crowded House "Time On Earth" - I can't be even-keeled about Crowded House. I just can't. For the firs time since 1993, they have a new album out and if you like their others, you will like this one. It's more of the same exceptional song-writing from Neil Finn. This dude can write some gorgeous melancholy songs. Fantastic. I am seeing them in Northampton, MA on August 4th. See, they're from New Zealand and they basically haven't toured since their drummer Paul Hester committed suicide. Aside from being in Crowded House, Moms and Dads of little kids will recognize Paul as the cook from the "Hot Potato, Hot Potato" Wiggles video. Anyway, I never had the chance to see these guys before and I'm glad they're touring again. Every one of their albums has spent 4-6 months in heavy rotation after getting it and each holds up well over time.

There ya go. Three reviews, three things I loved but couldn't quite certify as empirically good.