1. Intro
  2. Favorites Lists
  3. Film Reviews
  4. TV Series Reviews
  5. Book Reviews
  6. Record Reviews
  7. Latest Reveiws


It’s ironic that the reason its taken till my 30th year to actually write a review about a film is not that I haven’t been that interested or motivated to do so, but rather that I love films, books and music so much and have for so long wanted to be a reviewer that I have always felt too overwhelmed to make a start. I’ve always thought, “well if I start now it will be so inadequate as I have seen thousands of films that have inspired me and whatever films I choose to review will be such an insignificant small number compared to that prolific list” or I’ve felt that to do it properly I’d need to go back and write a review about every film I’ve ever seen which is a task far to laborious and time consuming for me to ever start. So finally I’ve decided to ignore these debilitating extremist tendencies and do my best to do short reviews of films, books and records as I come into contact with them and for all the exhausting list of records, books and films that have touched me in the past I will endeavor to include those of them that I can recall on some lists below that I will continue to add things to as I remember them and come into contact with them.

Lastly before I write my first review I will state two more disclaimers. The first being that when I write these I have no intention or desire to be objective. I will hopefully write from my most passionate human part, the part that is totally grandiose and opinionated and believes that his word is gospel. I hope that this is not a large part of me these days but to do my passion and emotions justice I need to be liberated from self-consciousness and fear, so I will endeavor to write from my most candid and unbalanced self.

Please do not be offended or disappointed if I totally slam something that you personally loved and please don’t feel that this difference is a reflection of anything other than our tastes in this specific area and please don’t stop trusting me as a narrator in the wee roll I play in your musical world.

The second disclaimer is that I have no training in film, music, or literature of any sort and all my comments will be based purely on my own experiences-of and responses-to. They will be utterly ignorant in the most part as to any specific technical prowess or skill that may be at work, I will probably not get much of the symbolic and metaphorical stuff and I will likely miss many of the references and homage’s that the artists may be displaying. If I had another lifetime I may like to study literature and film. I would certainly love to study music, however in his life, for now, I am content to write it and find ways to pay the bills and enjoy as much of these three artistic mediums as I can.

Please note that my reviews do not give any information about the film in terms of the plot or sometimes even what its about neither do they give you any credits for whose in it other than the main star to identify it. For this type of info look at imdb, rotten tomatoes or wikipedia.

My scale is somewhat thusly

0 abhorrent, repulsive, I was angry at the people who made it

1 really bad, terrible

2 bad

3 bad but with one or two redeeming features

4 not quite right, misses the mark

5 ok

6 good

7 really good

8 excellent, brilliant

9 fantastic, nearly perfect

10 a masterpiece, perfect

Favorites Lists

Below is a list of favorites I’ve come up with haphazardly and without much thought or research. I’m forgetting hundreds from every category and will hopefully add to them from time to time. everything on the record and book lists are kind of first equal. Every book and album listed is at least a 10 out of 10.

With the films lists In general the ones at the top are my most favorite, though I haven’t taken much time to make sure this is accurate. Also some of the films are perhaps only a 8 or 9, but that I love in spite of, and sometimes because of, their flaws just like I would a real baby.

Also the films are rated for there respective genres and some comedies and actions etc are not necessarily held up to the same artistic, or philosophical standards as dramas or art films etc and they are often rated more for sheer entertainment value.

These lists give you an idea for what my tastes are and if, in general, you like the same things you can use that to choose how much weight you put on my individual film reviews. I originally was going to have a record section and a band section incase some of my favorite bands hadn’t written a whole album that I’d rate 10 out of 10 but had written many songs that I would rate 10, but then I figure these lists are gonna take so much time and still be completely incomprehensive and incomplete so why bother about another category. The thing is to keep updating them from now onwards. To backdate stuff thoroughly is far too big a job for me. Lastly lots of the films could be in many categories so I just put them in one of the categories they suited.

My favorite films

action/ sci-fi /adventure / fantasy

Batman Begins
Batman the Dark Night
Lord of the rings (all three)
The Bourne identity (all three)
The matrix
The Departed
Mission impossible 3
A history of violence
Iron man
James bond – quantum of solace
James bond – casino royale
The 5th element
True lies
Total recall
Infernal affairs (china)
The goonies
Prizzi’s honour
Inglourious basterds
Once upon a time in china (china)
Into the east (Ireland)
Way of the gun
Spiderman 1
Spiderman 2
Crouching tiger hidden dragon (china)
Rush hour 2

drama/ sports/ true story

Good will hunting
Charlie Wilson’s’ war
Almost famous
Stand by me
Nixon vs. frost
Fight club
Remember the titans
American beauty
Cold mountain
Michael clayton
Walk the line
The contender
the Brokeback mountain
The hurricane
Rules of attraction
Dead poets society
The rainmaker
In the name of the father (Ireland)
Catch me if you can
Gangs of new york
Peters friends (uk)
The queen (uk)
25th hour
Dead poets society
Cinderella man
8 mile
Chopper (Australia)
Shawahank redemption
The legend of bagger vance
The insider
love actually
Hurly burly
The hudsucker proxy
New jack city
Hustle and flo
Thriller/ horror/ suspense/ mystery / detective

Let the right one in
The usual suspects
State of play
The lost boys
Gone baby gone
Donnie darko
In bruges (belgium/UK)
Midnight in the garden of good and evil
Falling down
China town
Run lola run (german)
From dusk till dawn
Cruel intentions
The game


Old school
Ricky Gervais stand up (all three)
Clerks 2
Human traffic (uk)
Funny People
Wedding crashers
Tropic thunder
I love you man
Jay and silent bob strike back
Bottle rocket
The royal Tenenbaums
The life aquatic
Napoleon dynamite
Very annie marie
Waking ned devine
Chaseing amy
Team america
Forgetting sarah marshall
Happy gilmore
Talladega nights
There’s something about mary
Groundhog day
Money talks
Freddy got fingered
Road trip
Harold and Kumba
Van wilder
Joe dirt
Me myself and Irene

Festival/ Foreign/ Documentary/ Everything else

My dinner with André
Mysterious skin
The sweet herafter
I’m not here
Open your eyes (Spanish)
All the real girls
Six degrees of separation
Life is beautiful (Italian)
Baghdad café
Southland tales
Pulp fiction
True romance
The big Lebowski
The last temptation of Christ
Oh brother where art though
Love and a 45
Waiting for Guffman
Best in show
Before night falls (Cuban)

My favorite TV series

The west wing
Arrested development
The office (uk)
30 rock
Friday night lights
Boston legal
Grey’s anatomy
Battlestar galactica
Summer heights high (Australia)
Band of brothers
Flight of the concords (NZ/USA)
Rome (uk)
The sopranos
My name is earl
Monty pythons flying circus (uk)
Jeeves and Wooster (uk)
The family guy
The young ones (uk)
Faulty towers (uk)

My Favorite books

The road- Cormac McCarthy
The grapes of wrath- John Steinbeck
On the road- Jack
The border trilogy- Cormac McCarthy
Autobiography of a yogi- Paramahansa Yogananda
The time travelers wife – Audrey Niffenegger
A time to kill- John Grisham
Chronicles volume 1 – Bob Dylan
Scar tissue – Anthony Kiediss
Lord of the rings – J R Tolken
Shakey – Neil Young
The brother lionheart – Astrid Lingren
The dispossessed – Ursula Leguin
Selected poems- Rumi
The complete works – Dylan Thomas
The power of now – Echhart Tolle
The electric kool-aid acid test – Tom Wolfe
Tom sawyer – Mark Twain
Huckleberry finn – Mark Twain
Out of the silen planet – C.S Lewis
Winnie the pooh – A.A Milne
Hose at pooh corner – A.A Milne
Pippy longstocking – Astrid Lingred

My favorite records

Didn’t it rain – Songs ohia
Heartbraker – Ryan adams
Cold roses – Ryan adam
Tracy chapman – Tracy chapman
Crossroads – Tracy chapman
after the goldrush – Neil young –
harvest – Neil young
making movies – Dire straights
blue – Joni Mitchell
court and spark – Joni mitchell
for the roses – Joni mitchell
the creek drank the cradle – Iron and wine
holywood townhall – The jayhawks
tomorrow the green grass – The jayhawks
Ys – Joanna newsome
The boxer – The national
Aligator – The national
Tunnel of love – Bruce Springsteen
Born in the usa – Bruce Springsteen
Graceland – Paul simon
Little creatures – Talking heads
True stories – Talking heads
America – America
Crosby stills and Nash – Crosby stills and Nash
De ja vu – Crosby stills Nash and young
Working mens dead- The grateful dead
The boatmans call – Nick cave
The trails of van ocupanther – Midlake
Master and everyone – Bonnie prince billy
The fine art of self destruction- Jesse malin
Antics – Interpol
Whats next to the moon – Mark kozelek
Magnolia soundtrack – Aimee mann
Lifted – Bright eyes
I – Magnetic fields
Sticky fingers – The rolling stones
Tonight at the Arizona – The felice brothers
Memories and dust – Josh pyke
The golden age of radio – Josh ritter
Only by the night – Kings of leon
For emma forever ago – Bon iver
mic club – Canibus
caught in the trees – Damien jrado
on the way – Dinosaur jr
august and everything after – Counting crowes
echoes – Gene Clarke
moving pictures – Great lake swimmers
servants in heaven- Jedi mind tricks
bobby digital – Rza
stone cold rhyming – Young mc
heist of the century – La the drakman
we were dead before the ship even sank – Modest mouse
Lucinda Williams – Lucinda Williams
Astral weeks – Van Morrison
Sojourner- Magnolia electric co
The baby and the satellite – Micha p hinson
Volume one – She and him
at dawn – My morning jacket
the stage names – Okkervile river
by the way – Red hot chilli perppers
so jealous – Tegan and sara
the evil one – Roky ericson
blood on the tracks – Bob dylan
blonde on blonde – Bob dylan
infidels – Bob dylan

Film Reviews

(I will just list a couple of actors to identify the film, for proper credits check imdb)

24 Hour Party People 7/10

Drama/comedy about the music scene in UK in the late 70’s and 80’s starring Steve Coogan.

This film is funny and engaging but its very subtle. Its not rock and roll, its no Walk The Line and it’s no Spinal Tap it is however very good and Steve Coogan is fantastic. It’s also about an era and type of music that I, and most people, for the most part couldn’t care less about. It feels like a quality film that’s just a little bit less entertaining than you’d hoped. Back to Film Reviews

500 Days Of Summer 9/10
Romantic Comedy starring Joseph Gordon levitt Zoey Daschenell

For the first half of this film I had a nagging feeling that this film was failing to meet my incredibly high expectations. I’ve been an avid fan of Zoey since All The Real Girls and was delighted that she emerged from that wonderful obscure indie film to actually develop a mainstream career. Joseph I first saw in Mysterious skin (I didn’t recognize him at all from 3rd rock from the sun) and then in Brick and decided that he already is but will further prove himself to be the finest actor of his generation. So the thought they were paired up in an indie film had me already give the film a 10 without even seeing the shorts. 45 minutes into it im wondering why they didn’t cast Josh Hartnett and some newcomer Hollywood hottie. I kept thinking “if I thought this was a mainstream romantic comedy id be amazed at how quirky and indie it is. But thinking of it as an indie or art film I’m just perplexed at how conventional and mainstream it is”. Even still the actors are amazing and the script is really good so I was still totally diggin it. Then what happens is it gets better and it gets deeper and then it walks right off the beaten track into realness uncommon in mainstream films and it trades in its clichéd Hollywood heart for a real human heart with depth and complexity but (for my tastes) a more authentic beauty. Back to Film Reviews

A Serious Man 7/10

Drama about a conventional modern American Jew in the late 60’s struggling to fit into the times. Starring a bunch of unknown actors written and directed by the Cohen Brother

What I love most about this film is you can imagine the Cohen brothers talking shit about films and stuff and going, “imagine if you made a film that ends a few minutes after where most films would start?” and what I really love is that these creative geniuses went out and did it, seemingly just for the sake of it. It’s a very small story that goes almost nowhere and has no hugely engaging or attractive qualities. Yet it remains a well made, well acted, well directed film. Its not interesting enough to be brilliant but it is poignant and clever enough to be very good. Back to Film Reviews

A Single Man 9/10
Drama about being Gay starring Collin Firth

Whole film brilliant, last 2 minutes rubbish. Colin slightly expands his emotional palette for this roll to masterful affect. It’s a simple story but emotionally and philosophically complex. Its shot and directed with wondrous beauty and stunning finesse. It never try’s to be deep or clever, it just is. Back to Film Reviews

Adventureland 6/10

Teen coming of age comedy starring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart.

While lacking the offbeat-geek humor of napoleon dynamite and freaks and geeks and never quite nailing the shock humor of superbad, adventureland still has some laughs. I guess it was more aimed as a coming of age drama than a comedy but it lacks the nostalgia and whimsy of many of its influences and despite the central character having some backbone and values the whole production wears its moral ambiguity a little to proudly for a film that isn’t really saying very much. That aside the brilliant cast and the laid back vibe make the film entirely watch-able and at times the strength of the supporting cast turn a fairly vacuous script into some hilarious, if fleeting, moments. Back to Film Reviews

All About Steve 6/10
Romantic Comedy starring Sandra Bullock

Totally average Rom-com starring Sandra Bullock playing a roll that’s all too familiar for her. Had some funny moments but all in all nothing special or original here. That being said if your in the mood for a lightweight Hollywood movie, this film wont frustrate you or put you to sleep so why not? Back to Film Reviews

An Education 9/10
Drama set in the early 60’s starring Peter Sararsgard.

I’ve watched three movies today (a very unhealthy part of me judges the level of pleasure ive had in a day by how many movies I’ve seen so by this standard this is a very successful day for me nowadays) all of which I enjoyed. Unfortunately I saw this film first and it may be the reason why the other 2 films both got 7’s instead of 8’s. this film raised the bar very high. Its brilliant, in every way, its fucking amazing, brilliantly crafted clever script, with very sharp yet believable dialogue. Sensational performances from the fantastic cast and from what I can gauge every other element of the film process was also first rate. Sometimes I find with these reviews its not about saying what’s right about the film but what’s not and in a film this close to perfect that’s certainly the case. There’s only 2 reasons why I don’t give it a 10 (which I’m very tempted to do anyway) and that’s 1) the challenge that the central character has to go through to change in the third act doesn’t seem to have enough gravity or weight behind it, you never feel emotionally compelled to actually worry about her, and you are in love with her so it would be easy to worry about her if the stakes were high. And 2) it feels like the writer hit a sweet spot where he was coming up with this lovely , witty, charming, dialogue and thought “I’ll just stick in this sweet groove I’ve got” and therefore never rocked the boat or strove for greatness. When you’ve created something brilliant and amazing it may seem redundant to take a chance for true genius but just a couple of staggeringly witty or thoughtful lines from the two love birds would have transcended this film in to one of the best films of the year to one of the best films ever. Back to Film Reviews

August 5/10

Business drama starring Josh Hartnett

Some good dialogue and a fantastic performance from josh Hartnett couldn’t redeem this vacuous, all too familiar, tale of greed, ambition and big business. The story was too small with no subplots or twists to engage you fully and no real insight into the world that the lead protagonist fancys himself an expert in. Back to Film Reviews

Avatar 3D 8/10

Sci-fi Action starring Sigourney Weaver

For a big dumb action film this would get at least a 10 out of 10 for an effects based sci-fi it would also easily get a 10, judged as a deep film with an important message it would get about a 5 and as a credible drama it would get about a 5. These two latter categories are perhaps categories it shouldn’t even be considered in and therefore me taking marks away from it for rating so lowly in those areas may be unfair but it seems that a fair portion of the film is committed to trying to fulfill those elements and therefore the failing to do so with much competency needs to be addressed in a review of the film as a whole. That being said those failings are insignificant compared to the enormous achievement of the film as a whole. It wont blow your mind like the matrix did when it first came out but it is exhilarating and it will be the most visually stimulating film you’ll see for some time. Back to Film Reviews

Away We Go 7/10

Comedy starring the guy from CHUCK.
Again I cant help but feel like Hollywood has gotten lazy now. Like they’ve so clearly developed a bunch of archetypes for us that they expect that we will just accept their characters as being funny, scary, deep, sexy etc without them having to go to the effort of writing them that way. Don’t get me wrong this is a really good film with brilliant acting and loveable characters. It’s really interesting and entertaining and I do totally recommend it. But there was a time when filmmakers didn’t assume you knew anything about a character based on there clothes, grooming, accent and vocabulary and when they had to do all the work of giving you a feeling for a person, they put a little more of themselves into it. Again its slightly unfair to put this rave onto this one film when it’s really a comment about 90% of films I’ve seen in the last 10 years. Back to Film Reviews

Bad Lieutenant 2: port of call 1/10

Action starring Nicolas Cage

I turned it off before I even got to see Eva Mendez. And I like Eva Mendez. Back to Film Reviews

Bandslam 0/10
Bandslam 0/10
Comedy starring whoever

More likes shit slam. Without doubt one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. In terms of annoyingness I give it 10 out of 10 and falseness and script by numbers 10 out of 10 and just plain shitty manipulative industry disguised as rebellious youth bullshit; 10 out of 10. Fuck this film; fuck it in its corporate ass. I read several reviews that said it was like high school musical but with intelligence and/or humor and/ or heart. Having not see high school musical that makes me absolutely horrified about what those films are like. There’s a pizza parlor where they play sky and I think it’s the teen Disney channel and I’ve seen fleeting moments of Hannah Montana and another show with male twins maybe and this one with a geek and anyway the point is all of them as I’m watching them fill me with such malevolent revulsion and hate. Its like the most obvious example of the corporation poisoning kids minds to make them buy products and not think. Back to Film Reviews

BBC The Great Depression 9/10
Documentary abut the stock market crash of the 30s

Brilliant documentary, filmed well, great choice of interviewees and an absolutely captivating story. Great archival footage and no superfluous material or wasted time. The film makers had no huge agenda and told the heartbreaking story with remarkable objectivity. Even if you don’t think your interested in economics, this will fully engage you. Back to Film Reviews

Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day 7/10

Action about Irish American brothers cleaning up the neighborhood of corruption and violence. starring two good looking unknowns and Billy Connolly

If you’ve seen the first one you know what to expect and this film delivers big time. Its your basic low budget violent vengeance film with a pseudo-neo-Irish mythology underpinning it. The women FBI agent is dazzling as a powerful contemporary female archetype and as being uniquely gorgeous. It’s funny because the guy who made these two films had a documentary released about him a couple years ago and he’s a complete fucking dick and yet these films have real charm and heart. Back to Film Reviews

Broken arrow 4/10

Army Action starring John Travolta and Christian Slater

So why was I even watching it in the first place? Recently I got out CON AIR from my favorite DVD store (old releases 5 for $10) for a bit of 90s teen nostalgia and much to my surprise it was fucking fantastic. This month I have some time off to watch DVDs and record a new album at home I decided to get out a bunch of others from the same time and genre, broken arrow, face off etc. broken arrow was a total fucking disappointment , I fell asleep twice and only made it through the whole thing by going to bed and watching the last 15 minutes in the morning. The only inspiration for watching the end being john Travolta’s predictable, but brilliantly delivered, one-liners. Even for nostalgias sake you honestly don’t need to bother. Back to Film Reviews

Bruce Lipton The New Biology 8/10
Filmed lecture on Quantum Physics and biology

If it had any production values whatsoever it would get a 9 and if they were good then a 10. the content is exceptional and exceptionally well delivered by charismatic excitable Bruce Lipton. The sound is atrocious, the graphs are all filmed from the whiteboard and projector and it’s shot on about 3 mini DV cams. That being said, who gives a shit? Watch it. It will change your life.
I think the reason that skepticism and cynicism have always been much cooler and had much more street cred than optimism is that we think somehow Optimism is delusional, thinking positive is unrealistic and even unconstructive. I think a lot of people chose to disregard healthy things like yoga and alternative medicines etc and even spirituality as a whole on the basis that its ‘airy fairy’ and unable to stand up to the might of rational thought. Here’s a very talented scientist whose given it all a shit load of thought from a highly informed, scientifically tested viewpoint. If your having a crisis of faith or science, then this is for you. Back to Film Reviews

Case 39 8/10
Thriller featuring Renee Zelwigger

This film is so much better than expected I can’t believe it wasn’t a huge hit, its got great actors, brilliant atmosphere, original enough premise and is scary as hell. This is a really great thriller/horror. Highly recommended. Back to Film Reviews

Charlie’s Angels 7/10
Charlie’s Angels 1 7/10
This film was epic in its time and is still a really honest self aware fun-ride. The women are beautiful and grounded, the stunts and action is exhilarating And the plot doesn’t feel like an add on. For its time a definite 10 but as it is a definite 7 Back to Film Reviews

Charlie’s Angels 2 9/10
Charlie’s Angels 2 9/10
In my opinion this film raised the bar for modern action films and though it hasn’t aged perfectly I’ll still give it a 9. It’s so ballistic over the top it took 7 years until the new A team in-air tank battle to have a competitor for most crazy action sequence. The film has the same self parody and ‘girls just wanna’ have fun’ spirit. It’s just a little slicker, sexier, smarter and more fun than last time out. Back to Film Reviews

Che pt1 8/10
Drama featuring Benecio del Toro
This film is not a masterpiece it is simply a really satisfying well made thoughtful film using great actors and beautiful cinematography. Back to Film Reviews

Che Pt2 4/10

Drama featuring Benecio Del Toro
This film is slow and boring for no reason and when you see the special features the writer/director basically says I chose to make this film about this part of his life not because I thought it would be interesting or because it was relevant to him as a man or because it was exciting or because it had any significance of any sort but purely to be different, what a waste of millions of dollars. Back to Film Reviews

Chronicles Of Riddick 6/10

Sci-fi/ action starring Vin Diesel, Helen Mirren and Thandie Newton

Vin is pretty much always Vin isn’t he? I haven’t seen his Disney kids flick the pacifier but everything else I’ve seen he’s pretty much the same guy, and despite the guy being fucking cheesy I always kind of like watching him go through hell and then giving his persecutors a beating. This time the setting is ‘out of space’! It’s actually fairly enjoyable but somehow it feels a little insular and it tends to drag and I wish my darling Thandie wasn’t so mean in it. Back to Film Reviews

Cinderella Man 9/10

Historical drama/ true story starring Russell Crow and Renée Zellweger

This film was like the boxing film equivalent of the brilliant Steinbeck novel Grapes Of Wrath. This film has so much heart and soul that it had tears pouring down my cheek for the majority of the film. I’ll always have a soft spot for the underdog and I’ve always loved redemption stories but this film is no mere collection of platitudes. The script always feels natural and never sentimental or grandiose. Needless to say the ever brilliant Zellweger gives another powerhouse, if slightly under utilized, performance and Russell gives Hollywood another demonstration of why millions of us believe him to be an extremely talented, diverse and truly timeless leading man. Back to Film Reviews

Cold Souls 7/10
Existential Drama about a guy who goes on a journey of losing his soul. Starring Paul Gianatti

It’s no being John Malkovich and its definitely no Adaptations but has a sweet melancholy and poignancy and showcases Paul’s tremendous talent as an actor better than anything else he’s done. It’s not very funny and it’s pretty slow but its interesting enough and the quality of the things is very high. Back to Film Reviews

Constantine 7/10

Thriller with biblical and supernatural premise. starring Keanu Reeves and Rachel Weisz

After the first 40 minutes of brilliant tension building, a ferociously absorbing plot and a wickedly enigmatic central character your thinking “why the fuck didn’t the critics get more behind this?”. Another 40 minutes later and the excellent special effects are the main thing keeping your interest. Perhaps this is the problem it’s a film that at first glimps has heaps of substance as well as great style but at some point the style takes over and your left enjoying the ride but not feeling like it took you anywhere. Back to Film Reviews

Couples Retreat 7/10
Romantic Comedy about couples working things out in a holiday setting. starring Vince Vaugh and Jon Favreau

Probably got bad reviews everywhere else but I really liked it. I love Jon and Vince and while this film isn’t as innovative or funny as their first two partnerships it’s still packed full of their character wit and sarcasm and it also makes a reasonable insightful comment on relationships, in a stupid American rom/com kind of a way. The performances are all brilliant except Vince who I think is a comedic genius seems a little like maybe he’s going through the motions, just a little… maybe not even. Back to Film Reviews

Crazy Heart 9/10
Drama starring Jeff Bridges

I’d heard great things about this film and as a musician I was really keen to see it. I immediately liked it and felt interested and engaged, the characters were good and the feel of the movie was excellent. About half way through the film for a short while I couldn’t help but wonder if it wasn’t really going anywhere or if it just wasn’t going anywhere worth making a film about. This wonder was short lived and by the films conclusion I was left fucking humming! Back to Film Reviews

Crossing The Line 7/10

Drama about racism and border patrol starring Harrison Ford
Ok so it’s no CRASH but this film is seriously good. It’s got an incredibly thoughtful script with captivating performances and a real heart beating at the center. Why it got bad or dull reviews is a mystery to me. It’s very well done and compelling throughout. Back to Film Reviews

Crude 8/10
Documentary about the legal battle between indigenous Amazon peoples and a Big bad Oil company .

This film covers an exhilarating year in a 20 to 30 year legal battle between the native people of the Amazon and Texico, now Chevron, Oil. It shows a remarkable amount of leniency on the oil company giving them many opportunities to articulately state their case, it doesn’t demonize them but lets both stories be heard, the facts be seen and the cards fall where they may. This is hugely effective storytelling as it lets you make up your own mind and you never feel cajoled or manipulated to “sympathize with the poor little jungle men”. They do a brilliant job of letting you into the legal maneuvering of both sides of the debate and I fell in love with not only the amazing native lawyer but also his refreshingly honest and hugely ambitious Yankee partner from a major corporate New York law firm. Back to Film Reviews

Date Night 5/10

Action/ Comedy starring Tina fey and Steve Carrell
This film is kind of weird, it doesn’t have enough jokes or funniness to be a comedy action and yet the action plot and scenes are so pedestrian as to be the type of thing you would only employ as a lame framework to house brilliant funny moments from expert comedians. The pairing of these two as a homogenized couple trapped in domestic familiarity was inspired. What the script then should have done was put them into therapy, or on a vacation, or something else relatively pleasant and let them be who they are which is fantastic comedians totally under utilized by this confused script writer. Of course it’s still got them in it so it was still funny enough for me to say I enjoyed it, only just. Back to Film Reviews

Deep Impact 6/10

Action starring Tea Leoni, Morgan Freeman

I think I remember this film as being surprisingly deep and emotionally engaging for a blockbuster. The second time around 7 years later it seems far less so. My guess is that filmmakers have found clever, albeit homogenized, ways of adding similar substance and emotionality into block busters far more effectively in the last 10 years and therefore this film comes across not as deeper just as longer and less interesting. You kind of find yourself saying, much to your own mild mannered surprise, “90 minutes before a single fucking explosion!” Back to Film Reviews

Die Hard 8/10

Action starring Bruce Willis

Superb action with fantastic plot, great humor, excellent action sequences and whole lot of heart. There’s some dialogue that’s dated badly and rings kind of false but that doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyment its kind of like an extra bit of comedy. Bruce has a lot of emotion and warmth to him in this roll which he doesn’t often display as the world weary alcohol divorcee cop that he plays in so many of his other films. After watching this I’m really looking forward to the other 3 sequels that ive also completely forgotten or perhaps haven’t ever seen.Back to Film Reviews

Die Hard Two 7/10

Action starring Bruce Willis

Like most sequels based on a fairly simple premise, the second film suffers from a lack of originality and some repetition. Luckily the scriptwriters were intelligent enough to know this and place some ironic self awareness of this into Bruce’s character. This film though made a couple years later also seems to have worse special effects and gore. Its still good mindless fun and has some genuine laughs and warmth. Back to Film Reviews

Die Hard with a vengance 6/10

Action starring Bruce Willis, Samuel L Jackson and Jeremy Irons

Though the films were never revered for their realism, the amount of willing suspension of disbelief required to watch this is unbelievable. That being said having Jackson on board makes you feel like Bruce has a substantial charcter to play with for the first time and Samuel is excellent. There are some interesting ideas and the action is much bigger, as well as the franchises’ signature one liners. Back to Film Reviews

Die Hard 4.0 7/10

Action starring Bruce Willis

At some point in the last two films of this franchise they decided to make Bruce the character from THE LAST BOYSCOUT instead of the character from the first movie. This makes him more morally ambiguous and gives him less to lose but doesn’t make him anymore interesting and take a little heart from him and the films in general. That being said he has a cool sidekick to bounce off again this time and the action is better than ever! Back to Film Reviews

Disgraced 5/10
Drama starring John Malkovitch set in South Africa

For me brilliant acting and, darkness and heartbreak are no longer enough. What happened to getting you to like your characters before you torment them. Just because Malkovich can act the pants off a Mormon doesn’t mean I give a fuck if the bitter old bastard he’s playing goes through a hell of his own design. Because unless the writer and director put in a an effort to provide some depth (beyond just being set in Africa) I’m not going to like him or his poor stubborn victim daughter. Back to Film Reviews

Everybody’s Fine 7/10

Drama about family starring Robert DeNiro
I often find DeNiro a little one-dimensional and though he doesn’t exactly transform his emotional palette here (it’s no jackknife) he does portray soft and unassuming surprisingly well. The film is a lot sadder and less funny than I’d imagined but then I thought it was a comedy and it’s actually a drama. The all-star supporting cast are all perfect in their various rolls and the film plods along pleasantly in interesting directions. It makes you laugh and cry and keeps you happily watching, without doing anything profound. Back to Film Reviews

Expelled! No Intelligence Allowed 6/10
Documentary about the treatment of Intelligent Design Theories

The first half of this documentary seemed very balanced and well rounded. I don’t believe a documentary needs to be purely objective, I’m not aware of any journalism that is so I certainly wouldn’t judge a film for having an agenda. The reason this film that I at first thought was excellent ended up getting a 6 was he goes from well presented informative information that paints an interesting picture and follows a logical course into a full on tangent of holocaust shock tactics and that point losses all credibility. Still the first half is really interesting. Back to Film Reviews

Face Off 6/10

FBI Action starring John Travolta and Nicolas Cage

Really good mindless big dumb fun, not enough wit in the dialogue, originality in the plot or excitement in the action sequences to rate it as a classic but very enjoyable nonetheless. Back to Film Reviews

Fan Boy’s 8/10
Comedy starring some guys.

This film is not as funny as American Pie or as touching as Super Bad. But as far as teen-comedies go its pretty cool. The actors are great and the whole things pretty creative and elaborate and good fun. Back to Film Reviews

Fire Proof 3/10

Christian/Drama about a failing marriage starring Kirk Cameron.
This film was given to me by a Christian friend who has an interest in Kirk Cameron’s church’s theories about intelligent design. I was feeling like watching an easy film and was kind of interested to see what an overtly Christian drama would be like. Within the first 3 minutes the low production values, appalling script and shocking acting were all screaming at me to turn it off but I wanted to see what would happen to the characters and how the lord would change their lives. While the film script and acting remained dreadful I have to admit my interest never waned and at times I was suckered into letting them tug at my heartstrings. I don’t know why but for some reason there is something comforting for me about watching things so deeply moralistic and safe. Even when their not morals I share and at times are the kind of morals that are easily manipulated into holocaust and genocide. Back to Film Reviews

Fist Of Legend 7/10
Fist Of Legend
Chinese historical Kung Fu action starring Jet Li

For the genre it must deserve at least the 7 and probably more and I really enjoyed it personally. I guess the issue here is I don’t really like Kung Fu films, I loved Once Upon A Time in China when I was 17 and I suppose I compare all Kung Fu films to that. If you like the genre you’ll love this film. Back to Film Reviews

Forgetting Sarah Marshall 8/10
Romantic Comedy starring Russell Brand, Jason Segel, Kristen Bell

This comedy/drama is brilliant. Not only did it launch Jason Segel into the Hollywood mainstream and take Kristen out of TV into film but it also brought comedic genius Russel Brand into the Public Eye beyond the UK. As a part of the Apatow family of films it has some pretty high standards to live up to. Its not as laugh-out-loud funny as Superbad but it doesn’t try to be. It has a little of the classic shock humor but really its just a light hearted rom/com done really well with a fantastic cast. Back to Film Reviews

Four Christmases 5/10

Romantic comedy starring vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon.

Yes I saw it, and I’ve seen far worse as you’ll discover… unfortunately even my fervent appreciation of the two leads couldn’t quite pacify the nagging feeling that this was a plot by numbers kind of an affair and that the overly qualified cast were just going through the motions. I laughed from time to time but less than id hoped to from a Vince Vaughn film and the parts where we were meant feel touched or inspired fell short as the characters hadn’t developed enough chemistry for me to feel very invested in there futures. Back to Film Reviews

Fuck 5/10
A documentary interviewing celebrities about their thoughts on swearing and censorship.

A lightweight film about a relatively lackluster topic. It wasn’t really about censorship or the FCC, it wasn’t anthropological, about evolving culture in society, it wasn’t about etymology or linguistics, it was kind of like that film THE ARASTOCRATS but less interesting. Some good interviews but who really gives a fuck? Back to Film Reviews

Funny People 9/10
Drama/comedy about comedians starring Adam Sandler

I don’t remember reading amazing reviews of this film I remember it more like people were saying it’s not as funny as the other films that Judd Apatow (director and writer) has been involved with. Maybe that’s true but that’s like saying a Big Mac doesn’t have as many calories as a Quarter Pounder with cheese, they’ve both got more than enough and your not left wishing you had more. Now I don’t eat meat let alone the butchered Peachtree-dished mutant meat that the assholes and McDonalds Inc serve up so my metaphor wasn’t saying that “you’ll feel as satisfied as if you ate a Big Mac” cause that would make me about as satisfied as prison sex. I’m just saying that the fact that it may not be as funny as his other films is a moot point, its Judd Fucking Apatow, it’s funny as hell. It’s also got a shit load of heart and soul, which is also part of his standard recipe. Perhaps this time round he’s showing more heart than humor. He pulls it off brilliantly, every actor, every cameo, every scene in 150 minutes feels poignant and delightful. I was so close to giving this a 10 I changed it three times, normally I don’t even think about the number rating that much. Back to Film Reviews

Get Me To The Greek 9/10
Drama/Comedy Starring Russell Brand and Jonah Hill
With two of the very funniest people in cinema starring in this film to say my expectations were high is like saying sex is a bit of fun. I was waiting for this film for 6 months I got to the cinema early I nearly peed when I heard it was screening in my town. I sat down trying not to scream like a 13 year old girl when the Beatles came to town. Then the film started and I was laughing a bit but waiting for the big guns after about 45 minutes I found myself thinking about this blog and wondering if I could justify giving it more than a 7. Then ‘the scene’ happened and you’ll know it when you see it cause form that point on this film is everything I’d dreamed of, all the way to the end. Fucking brilliant. Back to Film Reviews

Grandmas Boy 5/10
Comedy starring some guys.

This film is just funny enough for me not to totally slam it. It has nothing else even mildly going for it. Back to Film Reviews

Green Zone 9/10
Political Action starring Matt Damon

I still don’t get what matt stone and trey parker meant by their famous Matt Damon dig in WORLD POLICE. Name one fucking film that he’s not brilliant in. Not all his films are brilliant, but he always is, and most of the films are pretty fucking good too for that matter. This film is as good as the last two Bourne films but with a political message that I resonate with. Matt is becoming the white Denzel Washington, bringing such effortless authority and natural goodness to his characters. The story basically rocks and the excitement is relentless. If you read the back and think “this looks vaguely interesting” you will fucking love it. Back to Film Reviews

Greenburg 5/10

Drama about an emotionally volatile middle aged dude in L.A starring Ben Stiller.
Remember for me a 5 is still OK, it’s just not good, great or fantastic. The film is directed, acted and shot well, the music is fantastic and there are some genuinely funny moments. I just didn’t relate or like the central characters enough to feel emotionally engaged. It felt like the kind of thing we’ve seen so many times that its no longer unique or indie anymore and just a series of platitudes written on a over-used pick-a-indie-film-path. Back to Film Reviews

Gomorrah 5/10
Italian dram/suspense about the Italian Mafia in Italy

The first time I watched it I got 30 minutes into it then I picked it up a couple days later and watched another 30 then I tried to finish it last night but after another 20 minutes I’m just left going “I just don’t care”. I love foreign films and I love a lot of slow English-speaking films, but I think im coming to understand about myself, as terribly superficial as it sounds, that I just don’t like slow foreign films. I’ve always wondered why I’ve loved Spanish cinema but not like much French cinema and now I know. For me if its slowly paced and subtitled I just cant get very engaged and right now I can’t think of a single exception (though I’m guessing there must be?)
My bet is its actually a well made, well acted and well written film which is why I don’t give it less than 5. This film is typical of the type of film that you watch that creates a subconscious compartment of your brain that when anyone suggests going to a foreign film pops up and says “hmm I just don’t feel like that tonight”. Back to Film Reviews

He Was A Quiet Man 3/10
Drama/Suspense starring Christian slater.

This film is rubbish, totally bullshit. Christian Slater proves he can act a little bit but that doesn’t redeem the film. The reason I didn’t give it a 0 is that for brief moments it has some quite interesting moments and you cant really tell until you’re an hour in what a boring obsolete stinker it actually is. those moments are the sort of artistic deep profound moments that you have in films like Donnie Darko or American Beauty. In those films those aren’t so much moments as the entire film, but in this film they really are just fleeting moments before the inept bored writer carries on his pedestrian take on a thriller. Back to Film Reviews

Hooligans 2 2/10
C grade British film trying to be like the football factory which was trying to be like a Guy Ritchie film.

What did I expect? Nothing. What did I do? Turned it off after 20 minutes. Back to Film Reviews

Hot Tub Time Machine 6/10
Scifi/Comedy starring John Cusack
I wanted this film to deserve a 7 or 8 well I guess I mean I want every film to be a 10 but realistically based on the reviews I’d read I thought this film might be a 7 or 8. It’s got funny bits and its interesting and its overall fun but it doesn’t live up to the promise of any of its individual parts, e.g. actors, premise and crew. You wont regret seeing it but it’s THE HANGOVER or BILL AND TED. Back to Film Reviews

I Love You Man 10/10
Drama/Comedy starring Jason Siegel
This film is perfect. It’s a miracle of a comedy where all the main characters are not only phenomenally funny and zany but also utterly lovable. It’s a film about nice people who you fall in love with and who love each other, but retains a totally wild sense of humor and never makes you feel patronized or shmultz like a Disney rom-com. Back to Film Reviews

If Drugs Were Legal BBC 7/10
Documentary about the pros and cons of the legalization recreational drugs.

This film interweaves interviews with really well informed and articulate experts with a fictional scripted short film to assess the pros and cons of legalizing recreational drugs as well as imagining what that might actually be like. All and all the Documentary is engaging, unbiased, informative and well researched. The Shirt-film plays like an episode of a sort of British pseudo-LAW AND ORDER with an engaging premise. It doesn’t give you a huge amount of information or research but what it does give is really good and its unique in that it really lets both sides speak, not only through the experts they enlist but also in the short films plot. It’s certainly not essential viewing for your average person and its not an authoritative or definitive exploration of the debate but it is well done, interesting and very thoughtful. Back to Film Reviews

In Bruges 10/10
Drama/comedy starring Collin Farrell.

This film is perfect. Its insanely hilarious, deliriously clever and at the same time a brilliantly crafted and poignantly touching film. It’s a masterpiece on any of its individual strengths alone but the sum of its parts is more masterful still. You will love this movie. Back to Film Reviews

Inception 8/10

Sci-fi action starring Leonardo Decaprio
This film is not the next Matrix and it’s not the next Batman Begins either, but maybe it is a cross between the two that is weaker than the sum of its parts while still being a great film. The actors are all brilliant, the idea is intriguing and the effects are awesome. The action is a little lack luster and the pace is a little slower than expected. The relationship between Decaprio and the apprentice architect (played brilliantly by Ellen Page) is never justified and therefore feels contrived and her insight into him feels false. The films tone is a little sad which stops it being as fun as it could be, which is a shame because that’s not really compensated for by depth, whimsy or poignancy. Back to Film Reviews

Iron Man 8/10
Action starring Robert Downey JR

I think I enjoyed this slightly more the first time but 18 months later and at home on DVD this still stands up as one of the most interesting and engaging super hero films of the last decade. Robert is a revelation as Tony Starks and perfectly cast. The script is brilliant, in a more flippant and stylized way it’s almost on par with Batman Begins. Of course it’s not that good, as few films are, but for real though, its good. Back to Film Reviews

In The Electric Mist 9/10
Drama/suspense about a murder in the US south starring Tommy Lee Jones

The opening lines to this film are unbelievably effortless charming. They are a little metaphor for the whole film which cruises along like a forest brook little twists and turns but no dams and no waterfalls. It’s a gentle paced southern gem full of folksy charm and heart. Back to Film Reviews

Hulk 7/10
Action starring Eric Bana

This film is much better than I’d remembered it being and totally worth a watch. If you’re in the mood for big dumb fun its pretty good, though it gets dragged down in a unlovable father/son thing that slows the pace a little much. Back to Film Reviews

Hunger 8/10

Drama about the IRA prison hunger Strikes in the 80’s
This film has a scene in the middle that is about 20 minutes long and its just one shot on a tripod of two people talking. That scene is the most engaging brilliant and intelligent piece of dialogue I’ve ever seen in a film and makes this an incredibly informative, fascinating and important film. Please trust me on this you want to see that scene and it makes the slow pace of the rest of the film an effortless burden and the overall experience a profound one. Back to Film Reviews

Independence Day 5/10

Sci Fi/action starring Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum

Smith and Goldblum are both pitch perfect and deliver brilliant, and at times hysterical, performances. The special effects still look good 10 years later and the cheesy bullshit hasn’t aged a day either. This film could have been great but instead due to clichéd bad writing its merely watchable. Back to Film Reviews

Inglourious Basterds 9/10
Historical action starring Brad Pit, Eli Roth and amazing Melanie Laurent.

My friends responses to this film were very mixed, as were reviewers in general, after watching the film I can honestly say that I have absolutely no idea why? This film is an absolute masterstroke from a genius film maker whose talents I was beginning to question. This film is brilliant on every level other than historical accuracy which is of course exactly the point, none judges Lord of the rings for its historical accuracy either. While the gore and dark humor will not be to everyone taste nor the ‘eye for an eye’ pathology that lies as the central premise, the intelligence of the script, the skill in the direction, cinematography and directing and the delightful talent of the eclectic cast mean that this film should be on everyone’s ‘best of 2009’ list. Back to Film Reviews

Invictus 10/10
True Story Drama about Nelson Mandela’s becoming president and the significance of the following years Rugby World Cup. Starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon

What do you want me to say? I fucking love it! Despite having no interest in sport whatsoever I constantly find myself loving films to do with sport and similarly despite being so uninformed about current political affairs, I love films, books and TV about politics. Clint Eastwood made this film and like everything he’d done in the last 20 years, it’s a fucking masterpiece. Matt Damon is absolutely always on form and is nothing short of exceptional here and Morgan Freeman proves yet again how much class and talent he possess as one of the senior statesmen of Hollywood. They leave out the food poisoning conspiracy completely as it would certainly detract from the story but as large and telling as omission as that is, the film is so good and important you forgive them it completely. Back to Film Reviews

Its Complicated 7/10

Comedy Drama starring Alec Baldwin and Meryl Streep
After 30 ROCK I gotta tell you Alec is back! I can’t see him now as anyone other than Jack Donahughe and that does wonders for this fairly predictable under-significant film. It doesn’t try to be great but it certainly seems to market itself as something more akin to THE BIG CHILL for people in their 50’s than 50 DATES for people in their 50’s. In reality its not as touching as the former or as funny as the later but the Baldwin and Streep salvage the clichéd script. Back to Film Reviews

Joni Mitchell – A Women Of Heart And Mind 10/10
Documentary about the life of Joni Mitchell

Yeah I had tears pouring down my cheek constantly for the first our. The intensity of the longing I feel for Joni Mitchell when I hear her sing or read about her (and now when I see or hear her interviewed) is so intense I can’t begin to describe it. It’s like a love that transcends not only time and continents but life times like the truest deepest most fantastical love of them all. The longing isn’t a sexual one, though her beauty is part of what flaws me, its more of a need to be with her again and to feel that special exclusive emotional/psychic connection that only lovers share. Joni has this affect on many people I know and I’m not narcissistic or grandiose enough to believe that its evidence of any past life love affair. For people like me this film is gold its like the sacrament. Its so deeply rewarding and fulfilling its perfect. For those with only a mild interest or who are just interested in music history in general, it will still be hugely satisfying and compelling viewing. It works as an insight into so much more than just Joni’s life but also for her generation and for the era in which they lived as well as the exclusive creative community of which she was an integral part. I had to see this film, I loved it more than I’d hoped. Back to Film Reviews

Just Add Water 1/10
Drama/Comedy Co-starring Jonah Hill
This film is so unengaging that I cant give it a 0 as I was unable to hate it or have any emotional reaction whatsoever. Instead it walked a fine line of being mind numbingly boring to the point where I turned it off half way through, but somehow not being boring enough that I got mad at the people who made it. It seemed like every aspect of the film could have been ok so it was kind of understandable how such a nonevent could have been created without the entire team noticing that they were making the least interesting production of their lives. Even for Jonah Hill its just not worth it. Back to Film Reviews

Land Of The Lost 7/10

Sci-Fi Comedy starring Will Ferrell
I really don’t get it, why was this slammed? What did people expect? What did they want? It’s a piss-take remake of a totally kitch TV show starring Will Ferrell being pretty much the guy he always is. What’s wrong with that? Nothings wrong with that. It’s fucking hilarious. The story is actually relatively interesting and the action fairly exciting, but even if it wasn’t, the comedy still holds it all together. If you like Will you’ll love it. If you don’t probably just fuck off. Back to Film Reviews

Last chance Harvey 7/10

Drama/ Rom-com starring Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson
This understated little gem is surprisingly heavy, poignant and heart warming. If you didn’t hear about it at the time its likely you never will but if you see it on the shelve as part of 5 or 10 for $10 for the week and you feel like watching middle aged people be sad and change their lives in a funny and touching way, then get it out. These are two of our finest actors doing brilliant performances in a charming film. Back to Film Reviews

Live Forever 8/10

Documentary about the rock scene in UK in the 90’s

The film isn’t always laugh out loud funny and they possibly could have employed some tactics to make the pivotal events feel more dramatic or important. I suppose I’m saying its not amazing storytelling just a really good story and the interviewee (especially Noel Gallagher) are fucking brilliant. Back to Film Reviews

Man on Wire 9/10
Documentary about a great tightrope heist from French performer

It was hard for me to imagine how this film could live up to the hype of the reviews on the promotion for it. Circus arts do not interest me in the least and I’m not a huge fan of French cinema or culture in general. The realization of all the promise those reviews held was then a fantastic surprise. This film seems to have been infused with the spirit and passion that the main protagonist possesses and displays in spades. There’s a slight melancholy that underpins it that I totally resonate with and grounds the film from being too fantastical but when I wonder why id dint give it a 10 I cant think of any reason than perhaps it dint give itself that extra little permission to soar. But don’t be fooled this film is riveting not slow, boring and… French. Back to Film Reviews

Michael Clayton 9/10
Noir/Drama starring George Clooney

Cinematic gold! This film has absolutely everything going for it, well it doesn’t have any jokes, or beautiful naked women for that matter, but that’s not really the point. It builds tension with that most ingenious of tools: subtlety. At first your just captivated and interested half way through you realize you’ve become riveted and then it reaches its brilliant conclusion you just want to jump in that cab with him and have a little party. It’s a lot like Gary Oldman’s brilliant film The Contender, nothing else to actually say about that comparison really just thought I’d mention it. They are both fucking brilliant. Back to Film Reviews

Moon 8/10
Sci-fi/ thriller staring Sam Rockwell

This film made me fall in love with Sam Rockwell. He was only vaguely familiar to me but after this film I was like straight to I wanna see more! The film is a little slow but its incredibly interesting and just when you worry you might not be getting it, they let you in on what’s happening and it spins you out. It’s just really enjoyable to see such a brilliant actor do such a psychologically engaging performance. It’s no STAR WARS its more like Gary Oldman’s THE CONTENDOR, somehow… it’s a strange genre but it’s a really good movie. Back to Film Reviews

Next 2/10
Action starring Nicholas Cage

Total fucking bullshit; the premise, the script, the directing, even charismatic Nicholas couldn’t breathe any charm into this lost cause. If I wanted mindless big dumb fun there would be 200 other films I would watch for a fourth time before I’d watch this twice. The ending is not a fucking ending. Back to Film Reviews

Observe and Report 8/10
Comedy starring Seth Rogen

This film is fucking funny. Honestly I have no idea if I’m just crazy but I thought it was totally hilarious! You must be thinking it can’t be because it came out just after Knocked Up and a few other Apatow family films where Seth was starting to break through and yet you’ve never heard of it. Well let me tell you this: if you think Seth is a funny mutha fucka then you will love this film he plays a character who’s a cross between Jack Black and Ricky Gervais and yet is all Seth and it’s just really fucking funny. Its not a great plot or movie in any other way it just b-grade comedy the whole way but Seth alone is more than worth the admission price. Back to Film Reviews

Outlander 7/10
Action Sci-Fi starring James Caviezel
This film has great action, engaging characters and a fairly original premise. While it follows a fairly traditional plot arch the performances and the script make it a really good movie for the genre. If you like this kind of thing at all this is one to go see. Back to Film Reviews

Paranormal Activity 8/10

If I wasn’t left feeling so fucking weird afterwards and haunted three nights later I might have given this a lower mark, as it drags a bit and not that much happens, they could have added more interest by adding a few more subplots and additional characters without undoing the core premise. The reality is though that when I wake up in the night I feel scared and it’s because of this film, so its very very fucking good. Back to Film Reviews

Pathfinder 4/10

Action starring Karl Urban

What it has going for it are reasonable effects, costumes, fight scenes and the basic premise. What it lacks is a script. Back to Film Reviews

Pitch Black 6/10

Scifi,Thriller, Action starring Rada Mitchell and Vin Diesel.

I think I remember it being better or maybe I was just tired last night but I didn’t really dig it all that much. Its still got Vin being Vin which is a guilty pleasure not to everyone’s tastes (and I hate to admit is to mine somehow?). I think I remember it being scarier. I guess its kind of a small story that isn’t filled in enough with humor, suspense, effects or interesting characters to compensate for itself. Back to Film Reviews

People Are Strange 8/10

Ok first of all this is a fucking brilliant documentary that does everything a great band doco chronicling a bands entire career should do. It would have got a 10 out of 10 because it really is that good (what it gets right is staggeringly impressive), but here’s why I gave it an 8. Depp’s tone of voice and infliction is almost identical for every 4 sentences, following the same pattern and giving the same emphases and despite it being Depp doing it, it gets a little tired. There are some major inconsistency’s in the time line and plot points in the narrators script and being that it relies so heavily on narration this is frustrating, and lastly, and most importantly, is the ridiculous and just god damn awful last-days-recreation sequence that it flashes to every 5 minutes . That being said its fucking fantastic and for any fan of rock and roll it is essential viewing. Back to Film Reviews

Public Enemies 6/10

Drama/action starring Christian Bale and Jonny Depp.

This film is exactly what you’d expect and totally watchable. Depp and Bale are typically brilliant and delightful to watch but neither actor seems to be treading any new ground for that matter neither does the director or the writers or anyone else involved. We’ve seen these types of fills so many times before and done much better. The only criticism and its purely a taste thing but why does Michael Mann insist on using those terrible fucking cameras and film stocks? Its not like he’s part of the Dogma manifesto, these are big budget action films he’s making why shoot them in a format that looks like my uncle David’s Christmas 2005 home movie? Back to Film Reviews

Rambo 7/10

You know… it’s Rambo.
Back to Film Reviews

Rene Ruso’s America 6/10

Documentary about the Constitution and income tax

I didn’t much go for Rene’s narrative or interviewing style, I found my self a little patronized like in a Michael Moore film. It lost points for being to “us and them” . That being said it was pretty engaging material, especially the information the Federal Bank. For that reason alone it should be compulsive viewing. Back to Film Reviews

Shutter Island 7/10

Mystery starring Ben Kingsley and Leonardo Decaprio

I fucking love Ben Kingsley, I think he’s a genius, totally brilliant every time. Leonardo is also a phenomenal talent and with a pucker support cast including the very lovable Mark Ruffalo and the directing genius of Martin Scorsese this film should have been gold dust. Just how much it wasn’t gold dust is why I will spend the next few sentences criticizing this film which I’ve still given a 7. or to put it another way it should be obvious with the people who agreed to be part of this that its got a lot going for it but what it lacks is more interesting to mention.
Because I watched an illegal copy for the first hour I seriously considered was I watching a rough draft. The editing was either fucking appalling or Martin was trying (and failing) to disorient the audience and add an edginess to the story. Every shot seemed to have gaping special continuity issues with the one following and preceding it. This really takes you out of the reality of the world and makes it hard for the actors to seem believable. Next the story’s big endgame twist is the same big twist we’ve been seeing for the last 15 years and was like thriller by numbers. I felt patronized and I expected more. Back to Film Reviews

Sorry Haters 3/10

Drama about racism starring Robin Wright-Penn
I pretty much hate every film not shot on film. Its like they think its clever or stylish. It’s not it’s bullshit, and (except for COLLATEROL and the 30 DAYS LATER films) the films are pretty much always pretentious, boring, slow and have an over inflated sense of self-importance. Do not bother. Back to Film Reviews

Southland Tales 9/10
Action/ Sci-Fi starring Dwayne Johnson

This film exists in the sweet spot between totally fascinating and totally over my head. I only just manage to keep up. From memory it got slammed at Cannes and was heavily re-edited before proper release. It’s hard to know how much was changed but this version of this film is a masterpiece. It relies heavily on narration which is perhaps what was missing from Cannes? as without it you’d be totally fucking lost. It’s utterly unique, completely compelling and totally hilarious. Back to Film Reviews

Star Trek I 7/10
Sci-fi starring Leonard Nemoy, William Shatner
Before engaging on this mission of watching all 12 Star Trek films (inspired by watching the most recent one last year on a plane and loving it) I Googled which were the best and worst and then decided to watch them all in order regardless. This film was considered by most lists as the worst or more often the second worst behind 5. The criticism they gave it which was the suspicion id always had about these films was that it was long, slow, boring and had an inflated sense of its own importance or significance. Much to my surprise and merriment I found the slow speed and overly dramatic theme music charming and sweet. The film is now so hugely dated that its flaws just add to its quaintness and instead of making it seem foolish or weak just make it sweet. I was surprising interested and engaged throughout. Back to Film Reviews

Star Trek II 8/10
Sci-fi starring leonard Nemoy, William Shatner
This star Trek is considered by most fans as the very best of the bunch and I was surprised while watching it that to me it didn’t seem much different or much improved from the first one. Maybe I’m such a newcomer to the franchise that I’m unable to discern the wheat from the chaff but I found it similarly clumsy, slow , kich but utterly charming as the first one, with just a little more irony and story to make it more engaging. Back to Film Reviews

Still Crazy 7/10

Drama/ Comedy about ageing rockers reuniting starring Bill Nighy and Billy Connelly.

The premise and cast of this film alone should give it at least 6 stars it ended up with another one because it has such a heartwarming ending. The reason it doesn’t swan through to an 8 or 9 is that at some level it feels like it had the potential to be a little better? Maybe a bit more happening within the plot or more humor. Regardless it’s a great film with a lot of warmth and very engaging. Brittis actress Juliet Aubrey is absolutely mesmerizing in a totally understated unassuming way. Back to Film Reviews

Sunshine Cleaning 8/10

Drama/comedy starring Amy Adams
Amy Adams is possibly the best actress of her generation and if she gets some really amazing rolls in the next few years then the whole world will know. She is just unbelievably delightful and riveting in everything she does and turns any film into something, if not brilliant, highly watchable. This film is touching and whimsical on its own merit with lots of chuckles along the way, but without Amy it’d probably get a 6. That being said: get it out. Back to Film Reviews

Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 7/10
Action starring Denzel Washington
Nothing new here but damn if this aint’ one of the most enjoyable simple actions I’ve seen in a long time. If they’d put in a brilliant twist near the end this film could have been a legend. Both Travolta and Washington deliver brilliant performances they’ve each done a hundred times before. But just because its familiar doesn’t mean its not good. Doing something we all like really well is still a lot of fun. Back to Film Reviews

Taking Woodstock 9/10
Comedy Drama about Woodstock starring Henry Goodman, Emile Hersche

Watching this film brought up a lot of realizations for me. This era in America has always held so much magic and inspiration for me and a longing to have been part of it and quite a deep grief for not having been. The thing is whenever I’ve been involved in big festival type things in this life I always find myself overwhelmed and as much as I try and extend myself by doing these things and making the most of them once I am, more and more in the last 10 years I’ve found myself resigned to the fact that what I really love is emotional music and intimate conversations and small gatherings with close friends. Watching this film so close to watching the Joni Mitchell documentary and reading the hotel California book makes me realize that the Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter thing is my thing and the huge festivals and Height Ashbury scene is something I like to appreciate from a distance. This film shows the realities of the organization (or lack their of) of creating the most legendary musical event of all time. The film is as beautifully shot as Brokeback mountain and has characters equally real and vivid. The dialogue is beautiful and so is the way the themes are explored. I’m only 3 quarters of the way through watching it as I write because my Laptop which I feed through the TV keeps breaking down… just finished it and it just gets better and better. A truly beautiful film Ang Lee is a master. Back to Film Reviews

The Ant Bully 7/10
Cartoon featuring famous peoples voices.
I only see cartoons with kids. I take no pleasure in animations of any type and every time I’ve been coerced into seeing one under the premise that “even if you don’t like animations you’ll love this one” I’ve been let down because no I don’t fucking like them because why? I’m an adult. That being said this was pretty good for a young kids film. Just for me an adult I’d give it a 4 but I see kids movies to share with kids and for that experience it was definitely worth a 7. Back to Film Reviews

The Blind Side 9/10
Drama about rich whites adopting a poor black kid starring Sandra Bullock

If you can swallow the premise, and being that it’s based on a true story I can, and political correctness aside what’s so patronizing about white people helping out anyway? This film is genuinely touching, there is the comforting Hollywood veneer covering it all but this film has real authentic emotion and deep love at its core. It makes you feel good about being in the world in a real way. It absolutely deserves all the accolades it attracted. Back to Film Reviews

The boat that rocked 7/10
Comedy starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Bill Nighy

The preview for this film was brilliant and as a musician and pseudo rock historian of that era I was really keen to see it. I’m surprised it took me about 18 months to finally watch it but after watching it it seems somehow appropriate. Don’t get me wrong it’s a really good film and totally engaging with brilliant hilarious moments, the thing is with that story and that cast, how could it not be? The problem is its weaker than the sum of its parts. The premise and each of the cast members are under utilized and it feels at times a bit like British ensemble comedy 101. like if you swapped the records with weddings you’d have four weddings and a funeral or if you swapped the boat with Christmas you’d have love actually. Back to Film Reviews

The Bourne Identity 8/10
Action/suspense starring Matt Damon
This film upped the ante for both actions and thrillers, as well as western fighting choreography. It was revolutionary at the time and is still incredibly impressive now nearly 10 years later. It’s riveting and gritty, never flashy or synthetic. It is very stylish without being stylized and Matt Damon is a truly brilliant action hero. Back to Film Reviews

The Bourne Supremacy 7/10
A similar affair to the first one except the hunted becomes a bit more of a hunter. The storyline also becomes more complex and the political intrigue deepens, but the action and thrills never slacken infact in some ways they manage to raise the stakes. Damon remains riveting as an unlikely action hero. Back to Film Reviews

The Bourne Ultimatum 7/10
Though the style of the film as well as the storyline are now being repeated the premise is so captivating and the execution so brilliant that we feel like we’re watching a brand new film. If they pumped out a film just like this every year with even less variation than we get here, I’d still turn up each summer to see what he’s up to. Back to Film Reviews

The Box 3/10
Mystery Thriller starring Cameron Diaz

I think the short story this film was based on was used in a 10 minute story on the twilight zone. My memory is that it was brilliant and scary and highly original. This film is the opposite. I read all the negative reviews about it before I watched and though “fuck you guys, you didn’t like southland tales either” I did, I loved it. This film however is so slow and so boring and so annoying and so not clever, original or mysterious that all the dramatic music and suspense building feels like a rip off. That being said the writer/director is a master at atmosphere and the actor who plays the main bad guy is fucking brilliant. But still don’t bother. Back to Film Reviews

The City Addicted To Crystal Meth BBC 7/10
Documentary about Meth Addicts in and out of recovery.

My first impressions of this film were that it was weird and kind of sick, it felt kind of voyeuristic like that old show COPS. This was perhaps perpetuated by the BBC interviewer and narrator being so unbelievably straight and white (I’m white too I just cant think of any other way to describe him). After the first 20 minutes or so however you start to see things through his straight white eyes and you start to empathize with his level of shock and concern and then you start to really feel for everyone in that lifestyle as he does. As an addict myself I can feel very patronized by films about addicts or recovery when I feel they either over victimize the addicts or over moralize them, and eventually this film walks that fine line immaculately. There is a married couple of addicts who feature about halfway through and its hard to know what type of message their story sends but damn if they ain’t one of the most romantic couples I’ve ever seen, albeit completely dysfunctional. Back to Film Reviews

The Count Of Monte Cristo 8/10

Period revenge drama starring Jim Caviezel and Guy Pierce.

I fucking love a well done action romp which starts by making you love a guy then having some basted totally fuck him over and then see him plotting and executing a masterful vengeance upon him. The star of the show is the brilliant Luis Guzman whose far to infrequent one liners had me rewinding until my fiancée got fed up and made me stop. All the actors are brilliant and it’s a fantastic adaptation of the classic novel. I guess it only doesn’t get a 10 because at a certain level it seems like there was a little excitement missing perhaps from the fight scenes and also at times it dragged despite the density of the storyline. Back to Film Reviews

The Dark Night 10/10
Action Thriller featuring Christian Bale and Heath ledger
This is one of the all time best ever sequels ever. It’s so unbelievably good it is first equal to what was quite possibly the best action film ever made: batman begins. That film was so fucking mind-blowingly brilliant that even though I knew this would be a great follow up I had no expectation for it to be anywhere near as good. I was wrong. This film is just as gritty, just as raw, just as real and just as perfectly scripted. The characters aren’t predictable but instead do the perfect things to maximize their complexity and depth. The minor complaint about batman’s bellow is forgiven again in this film because its batman and he’s kick ass. Don’t, whatever you do, let yourself only watch it once. This should be at the very least a biannual event. Back to Film Reviews

The Fantastic Mr Fox 9/10
Animated family/comedybased on Roald Dahl’s book

For the first half hour I wasn’t sure if this was anything more than a bunch of brilliant scenes stuck together. I was enjoying it but the ironic block style of directing that Wes employs so well in adult films seemed to be breaking the flow in this animation family feature. After the first half hour though it seemed to really kick in and your left with pretty much what you’d hope for which is a great kids film with really charming whimsical animation and a simple fun plot for kids, mixed with an adult ironic comedy drama like The Royal Tenenbaums. Back to Film Reviews

The Girl Who Played With Fire 7/10

Action Thriller starring Swedish people.
I recently had a couch surfer come stay and he told me he’d seen the two films without having read the books first. He has great taste in film and music and is a big reader, he just hadn’t read these books yet. So when he told me he thought the films were both brilliant but that the second was even better than the first it was really interesting because the other 20 people I know who’ve seen the films have all read the books first and, like me, all thought they did a better job on the first film than this one. What is unanimous however is that this is still a very good film. Back to Film Reviews

The God Who Wasn’t There 5/10
Documentary attempting to disprove the validity of Christianity.

At first I just straight up hated this film . it seemed really pretentious posing as a documentary when it in reality it was just a really inept attack on Christianity. Christianity obviously has many flaws and the bible has hundreds of gaping flaws if its to be taken as historically accurate let alone as literal, yet this film seemed to be attacking all the wrong things in a very petty annoying adolescent kind of way. Just towards the end my version of it was corrupted and I couldn’t watch the last 10 minutes. These 10 minutes were starting to get interesting as the documentary was starting to reveal more of his story and agenda as he interviewed the principle of a Christian school that he felt had deprived him of a real education when he was a boy. I wont bother seeking out a another copy to see the end but it did improve once the agenda was made explicit. Back to Film Reviews

The Hurt Locker 8/10

Suspense/ Action about Iraqi war starring ??? and co starring Ralph Feinees and Guy Pearce
Expectations were high to say the least, a film with 5 academy awards including best screenplay and best picture, with no famous celebrities on the cover or in the promo and yes the film is fantastic but… it’s not as funny, clever or exciting as I’d hoped. The plot doesn’t really go anywhere and the characters aren’t that deep and don’t change, expand or grow that much. Also nothing happens that you wouldn’t totally expect. Those things aside it is gripping, engaging and exciting, not big dumb fun exactly, more suspenseful and dramatic. Back to Film Reviews

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus 3/10
Drama/ fantasy starring Heath Ledger

This film really sucks. It goes nowhere, it says nothing, it’s boring and self indulgent. It has a brilliant premise and it could have gone anywhere with such a brilliant cast but instead it goes poos. Lilly Cole is unbelievable beautiful. Back to Film Reviews

The Incredible Hulk 8/10
Action starring Edward Norton

I watched this immediately after watching the earlier Eric Bana version. I assumed this film was going to be hugely superior but it was actually pretty close. What’s good that I hadn’t realized is that in some ways this film is a sequel to that film just with different actors and a marginally changed back-story. This film is a bit more earthy and emotionally compelling and contains a great chase scene through south America. Back to Film Reviews

The Informant 9/10
Comedy Drama about a business informant starring Matt Damon

At first the film reminded me a bit of Confessions of a dangerous mind and I was a little worried that I wasn’t keeping up with everything, I was wrong. It was just taking time to establish itself. It had a dry wit to it kind of like Adaptations without the wild flights of fancy. This film however builds and builds and just gets better and better. I wont give anything a way and that might be easy to do so ill just say the script is brilliant and Matt Damon proves once again that matt stone and trey parker were fucking dicks to give him a hard time (though mostly they’re pretty fucking funny) Back to Film Reviews

The Invention Of Lying 7/10
Comedy set in a parallel universe starring Ricky Gervais and Jennifer Garner.

Its interesting that such a pretty woman can so often look like a bizarre plastic alien, its also interesting that I would open the review of a film that’s all about the shallowness and superficiality of the homosapien with such a surface level comment completely irrelevant to the film itself. This is a very good film and Ricky Gervais is very good in it also. What stops it being great is that the script, while being very interesting and engaging is also just very good and therefore none of the unbelievably talented supporting cast get an opportunity to shine or maximize their appearances. Even Ricky isn’t made the most of. From memory this film got generally better reviews than his first film Ghost World but I would say that Ghost World deserves an 8 where is this really is a 7, which means it’s a really good Ricky Gervais film and for an avid fan like me that’s fucking choice. Back to Film Reviews

The Legend Of Bagger Vance 9/10

Period sports drama starring Matt Damon Will Smith and Charlize Theron.

This film is directed by Robert ‘the heart of Hollywood’ Redford and this film is as full of whimsical characters, folksy charm and heart as you could hope for. Without being overly sentimental or schmaltzy this film also manages to inject a healthy does of existential wisdom into the mix. The phenomenally diverse Will Smith shines in this roll and delivers a powerhouse performance that’s equally comical and profound. this is the third time I’ve seen it in like 9 years and for the inspiration afterglow alone this is a film I imagine I will continue to revisit every few years or so. Back to Film Reviews

The Losers 7/10

Action about a betrayed U.S special ops unit, starring the guy from GREYS ANATOMY and Stringer Bell.
Similar to THE REPLACMENT KILLERS or the CHARLIES ANGELS this film is all about style and action. The thing is though that the actions good, the actors are great and the style (though overly stylized) hits its mark. It’s funny enough and has a half decent story with a very beautiful women in it. It doesn’t have the star power to be a block buster but they spent their budget wisely, if Mark Walberg and the guy from THE HANGOVER were in this you’d have heard all about it. Back to Film Reviews

The Men Who Stare At Goats 10/10
Comedy starring Ewan Mcgreggor and George Clooney

This film is absolutely Brilliant, totally perfect. Its hilarious, touching, totally unique and completely profound. It’s as good and weird as Adaptations which is one of my top 10 films. I almost gave it a 9 because for 10 minutes near the end it feels like they edited out a couple of unnecessary scenes but in doing so took out some of the feeling of time continuity. But who gives a shit about time continuity when your watching a post modern epic of such esoteric brilliance. Back to Film Reviews

The Midnight Meat Train 0/10

Horror starring Vinnie Jones and the guy from The Hangover
After 5 minutes in I started talking all the way through it belittling and ridiculing it. I can honestly say my doing that improved the film one million percent. It is the most ridiculously insignificant, atrocious and mentally retarded film I’ve ever seen. Don’t even watch it for a laugh. Back to Film Reviews

The Mutant Chronicles 0/10
Action/scifi starring the guy from HELLBOY

After 15 minutes I fast forwarded to see if the color would have any other color than grey, it didn’t and though I didn’t rewind back to the 15 minute mark and instead I just turned it off, I didn’t feel like I missed anything. Films this one dimensional piss me off so much it frightens me. The color palate is representative of the general lack of depth, substance, plot, dialogue and anything other than a certain over-used, boring style. Basically I’m mad as hell. “but Tommy, maybe if you’d watched more you’d have seen it had some genius twists and ideas” – “yeah, but fuck you, fuck you with a sledge hammer”. Back to Film Reviews

The Princess And The Frog 8/10
Animation about a princess and a frog

This film has really lovely 70’s animation a great storyline for younger kids. I loved the music but hated the cheesy Disney singing voices and lyrics. It could be a real classic and there’s something so rootsy and folksy about it that’s really refreshing in a kids film but something about it does feel a little like McDonalds so I nearly gave it a 7. Back to Film Reviews

The Real Dirt On Farmer John 8/10
Documentary about an eccentric rural farmer’s journey through life

This film is brilliant. Considering how unappealing and uninteresting the subject matter is its absolutely riveting. It quite quickly draws you in and takes you on a completely unexpected journey, not a big story just one mans story and it’s a beautiful story full of imperfections and heart. It makes you feel good inside watching it and kind of has some home-spun nutritional value for the soul. I won’t give it a 9 or 10 because it somehow just doesn’t feel right to but I highly recommend you watch it. Back to Film Reviews

The Road 9/10
Drama starring Viggo Mortensson adaptred from a Cormack McCarthy novel.

Being that the book this film is based on is my favorite book of all time and that Viggo is one of my top 10 actors, I had fairly high expectations of this film. I didn’t think I’d enjoy it as such, and therefore I left watching it so long that I nearly missed seeing it at the cinema. It doesn’t make you feel happy or comfortable but it does make you feel love, that beautiful raw mammalian love that is so intrinsic to our species and so fundamentally a part of who we are. It makes you feel it with a fierce protective passion that streaks your face with wet tears of evidence.
The book is less a story and far more a poem. The film compensates on the poetry as it must but only ever as much as it has to to make a gripping story of visual and spoken poetry. Fucking brilliant. Back to Film Reviews

The Runaways 5/10

Drama about Joan Jett’s early band starring Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning.
This is really a vehicle for Dakota to prove that she’s all grown up and is just as talented as an adult actress as she was a child one. Also it’s meant to showcase that Kristen can actually act and not just sulk. Unfortunately while Dakota achieves her goal to dazzling affect, Kristen ends up still pretty much just sulking more angrily and with a few more cuss words. I have seen so many rock bios and whether fictional or imagined (ALMOST FAMOUS) they are to me some of the most riveting and exciting stories available. This film is good but being that it should have been brilliant I’m going to say it was just ok. Joan should be pissed. Back to Film Reviews

The Spy Next Door 7/10
Family spy film featuring Jackie Chan
This is a good family movie. Jackie is as funny and athletic as ever and displays a real warmth in this film. The family dynamics are formulaic but well played and the whole things very fun and enjoyable to watch with kids over the age of 7. Back to Film Reviews

The Terminal 9/10
Drama Comedy starring Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta Jones

Some people may feel this film was patronizing to eastern Europeans, some may feel it got a little too Hollywood-schmaltz towards the end. Those people are chumps. Mean-spirited little chumpers who cant let go of their identities as cynical cool cats who see through the silver screen veneer. Well it’s 2010 and we all see through it, but don’t go to a movie and then complain that it was a movie. This is a mainstream Hollywood movie with a mainstream Hollywood ending. That being said it’s fucking brilliant, hysterically funny and has a fantastic message which in the telling makes you feel inspired rather than judged. Back to Film Reviews

The Time Travelers Wife 7/10
Drama with a time travel subplot starring Erick Bana

My guess is they wrote this screenplay exclusively for the book. It feels like a visual representation of the books greatest hits. As I’ve read the book I loved seeing the greatest hits played so skillfully by such great actors, if I hadn’t read the book I don’t know what the fuck I’d think, my fear is I might not bother reading the book, which would be a huge pity. As you can imagine by what I’ve described its about the time it takes to tell such a complex story properly and the fact that the bulk of my emotional investment in the characters came from my already loving them by projecting on to them everything I new about them from the book. Would I feel like the films events were plausible, understandable or held any weight from the brief build ups and explanations the film provides? I’m just not sure. Back to Film Reviews

The Tooth Fairy 8/10
Family fantasy film featuring Dwayne Johnson
This is one of the great family movies of the last 10 years. Saw it with a 12 year old and an 8 year old and we all loved it. Funny, moving, engaging, nice message and everyone’s favorite hulking big softy, the rock. Back to Film Reviews

The Truth About Charlie 4/10

Suspense/thriller starring Mark Whalberg and Thandie Newton

Despite my perhaps unmerited affection for Mark and my total infatuation with Thandie I turned this off halfway through. I might have given it more of a chance on another day, but not this day. I guess it was a case of not really caring about anyone and lots of moments where either the editing was atrocious or the acting was just actually appalling, sometimes I imagine if things were cut different the acting might not seem so bad but I’m no expert. Back to Film Reviews

The Yes Men Save The World 8/10
Documentary starring The Yes Men

The Yes Men are good people with a lot of heart and soul. With good intentions, creative ideas and a keen wit they go about doing good deeds that undermine billionaire bullies with flair and ingenuity. They don’t patronize their audience like totally forgivable Michael Moore but they also don’t have his budget. The film drags a bit as a result of repetition and they sometimes don’t build enough tension or gravity to what their doing as they are pulling off some amazing feats. I would have given it 7 but for the sheer goodness of them and their deeds I boosted it up. Back to Film Reviews

Timer 6/10

Rom/com about finding true love starring unknowns.
This low budget light weight drama is pleasantly interesting and engaging. It’s never laugh out loud funny or tingles in the spine touching but it keeps you interested and it looks good, especially the sister. It just plods along and you feel like eating ice-cream and that’s ok. Back to Film Reviews

Traitor 9/10
Drama/suspense about middle eastern terrorism in the US starring Guy Pearce and Don Cheadle.

To say these two front men give powerhouse performances is a huge understatement. Both of these actors have consistently delivered acting brilliance far beyond there acclaim and they do so here with total class and finesse. The story is captivating with underpinning themes and messages that are essential at this point in time and in Americas history. You just feel like the production was made with great love and care. High paced and yet thoughtful. Probably deserves a 10, but perfect is a big call. Back to Film Reviews

Tyson 7/10
Doco about Mike Tyson from his perspective.

If he raped that girl then fuck him, the muthah fuckah shows no remorse and should have done more time. If he didn’t (and he’s adamant he didn’t, and kind of convincing) then he’s the fucking man! This film is fascinating and engaging the whole way through and I don’t even know boxing. Either way he’s a strange dude but incredibly interesting and thoroughly watchable. Back to Film Reviews

Up In The Air 6/10
Drama starring George Clooney

Remember by my scale 6 still means good, not just ok, but good. Good means I will likely watch it again in 5 years when I’ve forgotten enough of it to be interested in it again. I guess I feel I needed to write that disclaimer because this film got such rave reviews and we all fucking love Clooney so much it feels sacrilegious not to give it at least an 8. but its not as complex or smart or deep as you might read into it. Its not that it tries to be smart, its just its got George in it so you assume it must be. It’s really not. It’s just mildly enjoyable. That being said Vera Farmiga is exceptional! Back to Film Reviews

US Now 4/10
Boringly presented and produced and now outdated documentary about the possibilities of the internet.

The information was ok though which is why it gets 4 instead of 1. Back to Film Reviews

Walk Hard 6/10
Comedy about a fictional rock star.
It’s a cross between an Apatow production and Scary movie 3. Relying heavily on film references from the musical biopic genre. Like the SCARY MOVIE franchise it seems to be a story scarcely hung together between gags and therefore isn’t really satisfying. The phenomenal comedic ensemble cast help increase the fun and the feeling that you’re watching a movie and not a SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE rock-movies theme tribute. Back to Film Reviews

Wall St7/10
Drama thriller featuring Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen
I saw this because the sequel was coming out and thought it would be brilliant, it was just good. It was dated and far too simple by today’s standards, I mean unless it was a drama and then it was too superficial by modern standards. Martin Sheen is the under utilized star as only his scenes have any real depth. That being said it’s a good old fashioned 80’s classic that remains interesting throughout. Back to Film Reviews


Action about a Triad battle with the Yakuza on US soil starring Jet Lee and David Stratham.

I was so in the mood for this type of mindless nonsense but decided I’d watch something more educational so I flicked on what I thought was BBC documentary about war and this came on, I was stocked! It is so dumb and so cheesy and so bad but exactly like what you’d expect and if you’re in the mood for that you wont be disappointed. That doesn’t mean it deserves anymore than a 6 there’s way to make these films brilliant and this film doesn’t even attempt to do that but also for its kind of genre its better than just OK but not by much. Back to Film Reviews

Where The Wild Things Are7/10
Drama/fantasy set in a parallel universe starring James galofini and Katharine Keener.

Now it may only have a 7 and not an 8 or higher but remember on my scale a 7 stands for Really Good and this film was certainly that and at times it was more than that. But the sum of its brilliant parts and mediocre parts didn’t integrate into a whole that I can really value at higher than a 7, but still my point is it wasn’t just ‘ok’ or even just ‘good’. It was ‘really good’. The special affects are wonderful, the soundtrack is exceptional (see the review under Katherine o and the kids in the records section), the mood is a lovely melancholy but not he melancholy I thought that leaves you inspired and pining but the kind of melancholy that just leaves you a little sad, fragile and concerned. The roughness and rawness of the film is great too. The problems are thus, its kind of slow in a boring way (as opposed to a deep or poetic way) and none of the main characters are hugely lovable, there all a little self centered. Back to Film Reviews

Whip It9/10
Sports Drama starring Drew Barrymore and Ellen Page

This is Drew’s directorial debut and it reflects the same disarming clumsy funky cool that she emits as an actor. It’s a film without ego but huge amounts of coolness. It’s not a comedy but she has a fine comedic ensemble cast who all give brilliant supporting performances. It’s touching, exciting and utterly engaging. The star of HARD CANDY is destined for huge things. Back to Film Reviews

Worlds Greatest Dad0/10Back to Film Reviews

Youth In Revolt10/10Back to Film Reviews

Zeitgeist 6/10

Conspiracy theory documentary

Its good to do some research about this film before actually watching this film as its very compelling and quite believable while you watch it. Unfortunately its filled with some boring repetitive visual stuff during the sometimes too zealous, sometimes too new-agey monologues which make up the lion share of the documentary. The link between the badly researched initial religion conspiracy and the later more convincing war/money conspiracies is so tenuous as to undermine the credibility of the whole film. However if you give it a chance this film is highly stimulating and provokes some very interesting questions, worthy of some serious research. Despite not having brought the package of goods I will definitely watch the sequel. Back to Film Reviews

Zeitgeist Two8/10
Documentary about some conspiracies and some alternative ways for structuring society.

Were it not for the last 20 minutes of the film I would be giving this a 6 like the last one as it felt similarly negative, very ‘us and them’ and full of fear mongering tactics and really horrible visual/audio clips that grate on the senses and create anxiety. What happens towards the second half of this film however, which only happens slightly in the last one, is that the mood rises and they start focusing on solutions and introduce us to a profound organization called The Venus Project. I was left feeling so inspired that I went onto the Venus Projects’s website and became a member. Really you could skip the first film and watch this one from the halfway point and you’d get it. Back to Film Reviews

Drama/horror about zombies ruling the world starring Woody Harrelson

The second Lead Jesse something must have a hard time with the Michael Cera comparisons he must constantly get. The thing is Jesse has been around quite a while too and the shy, self-effacing, awkward, loveable geeks that they both play seem to be a creation not just of their own but its almost like the modern world willed them into being. Like the new millennium collectively spawned a few new archetypes and this is one of them. They both do it so well, Michaels more loveable and Jesses more infuriating, that why criticize. That being said film was funny, exciting, not too gross and really enjoyable. A great ride! Back to Film Reviews

TV Series Reviews

Friday Night Lights season four9/10
Drama about mostly working class families in Texas.

Friday Night Lights is the best kept secret in New Zealand, and from what I can gauge online, the world. Why this show doesn’t attract the lavish ratings such shows as Grey’s Anatomy enjoy is a total anomaly to me. Maybe it’s that people think its about sport and therefore million of thinking viewers haven’t bothered to give it a chance. I’m not sure but it is a huge loss as this show is more honest, real, beautiful, heartbreaking and inspirational than any other show I can think of. This season is another knockout with the focus back on the core heart of the show: good people struggling against adversity and demonstrating love and kindness with an admirable fierceness. Back to TV Reviews

Flight of the Concords season two9/10
Comedy about two New Zealanders trying to make it in Manhattan.

This season is a masterpiece its far more engaging emotionally and intellectually and it’s a shit load funnier. The songs are still very funny but aren’t quite as good musically a fact which is more than compensated for by the genius evolution of the supporting cast’s characters, primarily Mel. This season proves that this franchise is not a one joke wonder and could sustain a decade of diverse and hilarious story’s, if only the creators would desire it so. Back to TV Reviews

Huff season two6/10
Drama about a psychiatrist and his family.

Huff season one: 10 out of fucking 10, brilliant perfect, couldn’t believe I only had one season left to watch and it hadn’t been released on DVD. When I finally got a file-sharing copy of it I could kind of see why it got canceled and why the second season hadn’t been released on DVD. All the characters become unlikeable, its like the writers got lost trying to find interesting gripping storylines and ended up writing everyone as an angsty asswhole with no justification for it. Oliver Platt is as brilliant as ever but this time his storylines are more tired and his virtuoso talent isn’t as well utilized. Back to TV Reviews

Law and Order season five 7/10

Police/courtroom starring Chris Noth

After buying these TV series really cheap it’s taken me about 2 years to watch them all. There actually about another 20 seasons but I haven’t brought them all and as the last original cast member leaves at the end of this series I decided I’d finish at that point. It’s a series that I really enjoy whenever I watch and whenever I haven’t seen it for a couple weeks I never feel in the mood for. This series started out with this same pattern but after the 6th episode I ended up watching the remaining 16 in under a week. Its good quality New York crime drama done well. Back to TV Reviews

Outrageous Fortune season three9/10

Comedy/Drama about a white trash New Zealand family living on the edge of the law

This is the series where my friends constant praising of this show finally seemed justified. I’ve watched the DVD’s of the first two series very slowly cause I’ve never felt in the mood for it. I never much liked any of the characters (except the two Maori characters who had small rolls) and I was constantly shocked at the appalling acting and low production values, just not a consideration in most of the American TV I watch. This series not only does the acting and production values step up but so does everything else! The storylines are riveting, the scripts are crackling, my favorite two support characters get major storylines and they introduce a brilliant Australian character, the cast in general become more understandable and lovable and the show stops trying to be bad-ass and they let a little heart and soul in. its fucking brilliant. Back to TV Reviews

Outrageous Fortune season four7/10
Drama about a rough family from west Auckland.

This season the toilet humour gets a little thick and the storylines start to feel familiar. The soundtrack yet again proves that NZ still makes some pretty brilliant indie music. The acting and production values stay at the higher level established last season and they also keep a lot of heart in the thing. It’s not as strong as the last season but still a step up from the first two. Back to TV Reviews

Sex In The City season one7/10

Comedy about four thirty-something single women dating in New York

If I didn’t have a page where I’m committed to reviewing everything I consume I wouldn’t even admit to friends that I watched this but as it is I feel liberated, infact obligated to tell and the truth is: its really fucking enjoyable. In fact it’s almost kind of classy. It’s neurotic of course but not in an annoying way, in a kind of funky kind of cool way and compared to many other late 90s shows it has a real timelessness to it. The characters are really well individuated and believable (in a totally over the top kind of way) and the truth is it’s just very very smart. This and friends are probably the only half hour romantic comedies I’ve ever watched (I don’t consider 30 Rock, Arrested Development and Scrubs romantic comedies) so I’m not sure what the competition’s like, yet still I feel safe to bet that this show doesn’t even have anything even remotely in the same league. That being said it is totally superficial, hedonistic, and a guilty pleasure akin to plastic cheese so I’m not giving it an 8. Back to TV Reviews

Sex In The City season two9/10
Comedy about four thirty-something single women dating in New York

It’s only the second season but this show so far just gets better and better. It started out smart and sassy, original and well written but it’s gotten to a level now of quite inspired sophistication and, what’s more important to me, it’s really found a heart. The characters are all developing and the actors all coming into their own. It started out great and one season in its already fabulous. Back to TV Reviews

Sex in The City season three7/10
Comedy about 30 something’s in Manhattan.

This season doesn’t grow in sophistication and humor in leaps in bounds like the second one does from the first. Instead it treads the delightful waters it’s already in. things don’t need to change or grow to be wonderful and this season everyone seems to be content to just stay fabulous. If the show didn’t evolve next season in anyway maybe it would get tired but maybe not? I often wish Neil Young had just kept making records like After The Goldrush instead of Trans and this notes for you Back to TV Reviews

The Office season four 7/10

Comedy Mocumentary starring Steve Carrell

This program is brilliant! After a first season that was basically a Yankee-ified version of the exact same British scripts that left me perplexed as why you’d bother, the US version came into its own in the second season. The second and third seasons were both outstanding as the show branched off in new directions and gave character development and depth to the hilarious ensemble cast with smaller roles. The fourth season carries on in much the same fashion as the 2nd and 3rd and perhaps suffers as a result. It seems a bit like treading water or like “what now?”. About half way through I felt hooked again and there were some moments so funny that I actually stood up and kicked pillows around the room. But on the whole it wasn’t as engaging or hilarious as the pucker 2nd and 3rd seasons. Back to TV Reviews

The Royle Family season three7/10
Comedy Mocumentry about a working class family in England

Despite having a baby now nothing has changed for the Royle’s, not just in this season but in the entire history of the program. It’s the same sketch night after night, a rough family sitting the lounge watching TV, eating and smoking cigarettes. It has very little shock value and very few crude moments and it has no jokes and except the son the characters are either selfish or dumb. What could possibly be the appeal then? I don’t know but its very very good and its extremely charming and comforting and just plain lovable. Back to TV Reviews

The Unit season two5/10
Acvtion about a special operations unit in the US army.

Had I reviewed this series half way through I would have given it a 4 or a 3, make no mistake this is ‘crap tv’; Lazy writing, terrible values, preachy hysterical directing and too many unlovable actors. I don’t know if its that I lost my brain or soul and got addicted to the show or if it just got slightly better over the 20 something episodes but by the end I was watching 2 or 3 episodes a day and looking forward to it, albeit intermittently tearing out my hair with frustration at the incompetence of the writing staff. Back to TV Reviews

The Wire season three7/10
Drama about policing the drug trade in inner city Baltimore.

After hearing for ages how brilliant The Wire was, when I finally got round to watching season one a year or so back, I was totally perplexed. I thought the acting and editing was atrocious, the writing was pretentious and try hard and the storylines were boring. I loved omar and thought stringer and avon were great characters but really couldn’t see what the hype was about. the second season was slightly more interesting but the overall production values hadn’t improved and that was where I left the wire a year ago with almost no desire to see anymore. But then again I kept hearing people whose tastes we respect praising it and telling me I had to give it another chance, it just gets better. Well that wouldn’t be a huge achievement I thought, but curiosity got the better of me…, season three is brilliant, the actors have now got interesting diverse characters and they’ve learnt how to act. The storylines are expansive and insightful and they keep a great pace happening. It may just become my favorite ‘crap TV’ show yet, infact if it keeps this up it may leave the lowly ranks of Lost and 24 and move into the A team with Sopranos and Rome. Back to TV Reviews

The X Files Season Five 8/10

Suspense Sci-Fi starring David Duchovny

I didn’t watch the x files when they came out. From the age of 13 I strongly rebelled against TV and its pacifying affect on society. I took pride in the fact that I was constantly totally unable to participate in classroom conversations about shows and demonstrated my ignorance in these matters as vocally as possible. I’m not sure how many great shows were being made from 1993 to 2002 (when I started renting out TV series on DVD starting with the Sopranos) but X files is definitely one of them.

Nicola has watched almost every episode as a teenager and has an added nostalgia buzz to our watching the entire series from scratch but for me I can only judge it on its own merits and therefore compare it to any other modern TV show I might chose to spend my time watching. For this reason I often find myself going “nah I don’t feel like x tonight, lets watch 30 Rock or Boston Legal etc”. whenever we do watch it however im always amazed at how brilliant and often subtle it is. I constantly see storylines that were the seeds of future feature films and the production values are often staggeringly accomplished. Season 5 carries on what season 2 or 3 started which is having an over arching plot but with lots of little ‘monster of the week’ story’s in between. This would be fine if Fox wasn’t fluctuating between being totally skeptical as he’s become in the over arching plot and being a total believer as he is in most of the monster of the week episodes. This fractures the continuity and character development and makes the monster of the week episodes feel a bit like filler. Back to TV Reviews

True Blood season one 8/10

Suspense with a contemporary spin on the Vampire theology starring Anna Paquin.

After some rave reviews from friends about the show I was shocked to see an add for it on TV when visiting family (we don’t have TV), that made it look like I imagine Buffy The Vampire Slayer was probably like, shit. Still my friends had convinced me and when I saw the first series on sale I couldn’t resist. Much to me and my partners relief it was totally fucking awesome! Not quite as sexy or dark as had been intimated yet it definitely had appeal in those areas. The reason I really love the show is because of the gay Chef/Construction Worker/Drug Dealer, I forget his name now but he is the coolest character I’ve seen in recent memory. Hilarious, virtuous, staunch, articulate, intriguing and cool as fuck. NZ’s own Anna Paquin is a great actress though her character gets a little annoying at times and isn’t as fun as some of her co-stars. Every now and then the sexy male lead whose a ‘good vampire’ gets ridiculously cheesy but only for small moments, and he’s very cute and compared to twilight its like watching The Royal Shakespeare Academy. Back to TV Reviews

Veronica Mars season three 7/10

Teen Drama meets Noir Mystery starring Kristen Bell

Ok so I got the first two seasons so cheap it was like free and I’d heard good things online so I got hooked and then I brought this final series too. It’s a sharp, ironic noir show with interesting characters. I love a good mystery and what I like about this show is that its not just ‘monster of the week’ and each season has an overarching plot arch. This season has like 3 smaller ones instead of one big one, which works really well. The bad ass Latino gangster with a golden heart gets a bit marginalized this series and the show suffers, but it’s a realistic choice on the part of the producers in that not everyone who was around in high school could magically end up together in college. Back to TV Reviews

Book Reviews

Every Where That Mary Went 5/10
Lisa Scottoline

So here’s the deal: in the last 2 years I’ve methodically ready every single book John Gresham’s written except his last 3, which is a process I’ve considerably slowed down by making myself read a minimum of 2 books in-between every Grish. It’s not that I think he’s the best writer in the world or anything it’s just comforting and enjoyable like the thought of warm bath when your freezing in the arctic wind on top of mount Holdsworth in the dark and the snow and you find yourself thing “ooh err I’d love a little bath and/or The Summons right about now”. So I was at a second hand shop that had 10 legal thrillers by this Scottoline woman and I thought of my dwindling unread Grisham shelf and thought “hmm this could be my replacement”. After reading it I know it wont be and I certainly wont be longing for it up the top of Mt Holdsworth but it was enjoyable crap nonetheless. Back to Book Reviews

Grapes Of Wrath 10/10

John Steinbeck

Human Struggle and Drama set in the great depression era America.

I must have cried about every chapter in this book not because of the sad conditions of the folks involved but because of the love, generosity and courageous selflessness of the people inhabiting Steinbeck’s world (and I like to believe the real world too). I actually pulled out a pen at times and underlined passages as I was so provoked and inspired by the beauty of the prose and the people it spoke of. This book is one of those classics that reads as compulsively as pulp fiction. Its lovely to realize that not all of the masterpieces are heavy going e.g. War and Peace etc and that some go down as smoothly as a naughty little Dan Brown yarn. Back to Book Reviews

Hotel California 10/10

Boyd Hoskins

Before I read this book I read a lot of reviews about it. This is because it is a book that documents such a specific small part of the history of modern music and that part happens to be the very same part that changed my life more significantly than any other experience save getting clean. Starting with Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Crosby, Stills and Nash, music made in Laurel Canyon, by people who’ve lived there or by people inspired by the mythology of that time and place That California singer-songwriter music has always cut me the most deeply and the most transcendentally. Though I have no actual concrete belief in Reincarnation the way I experienced so many songs from that period as almost being like memories and with accompanying images and emotions is so vivid for me and has been from a very young age that it wouldn’t take a hugely talented snake oil salesman to convince me I was there before. With such an infinity then for the subject matter its only natural that I would not only have already read and studied it in countless other books, articles and documentaries but also that I would have a fairly critical eye going in for what I believe to be not only an interesting, engaging and hopefully informative book on the era but also on what would do it justice emotionally and feel authentic.
This book is a fucking miracle! In the same way that 1 song by Joni or Neil can epitomize the whole thing or a single photo by Henry Diltz can tell a million canyon lullabies. This short sweeping book which couldn’t help but leave out ten million details, eloquently gets to the heart and soul of the thing. He writes from the same rustic beauty as the writers he chronicles and his love of the music and his reverence for the events infuse his words with the very essence of the place itself.
The magic is that he does all this without ever coming off over like a star struck fan, you get the feeling he’s writing with the same objectivity and fascination that he might any story he was writing, any story with global ramifications as weighty as this one.
He gives an over view a global perspective it is not the autobiography of any individual rather a meta perspective of the collective that being said it feels intimate and is full of wonderful personal anecdotes about the key players. It is the one book that I will make compulsive reading for all future members of my band/s. Back to Book Reviews

My Booky Wook6/10

Russell Brand

I love Russle Brand, I really do and I’ve listened to hours and hours of his radio show just in the last few weeks. I find him captivating and articulate and his life story absolutely fascinating. As a writer I find him a little pedestrian and his personality which comes across so dazzlingly spontaneous comes across a bit contrived in the written, considered, word. Its as though when your marveling at how such flights of fancy come into his brain let alone leave his lips intact, your not given enough time to consider it’s all been rehearsed (and I refuse to believe it has) but it leads expectations as to what he might produce if given time to harness his spontaneous brain into a novel and the slightly disappointing result seems to be ‘more of the same’. And I use the word ‘slightly’ because more of the same of Russell is still pretty good. Back to Book Reviews

Shantaram 7/10

Gregory David Roberts

Brilliant boys-own yarn set in an amazing country.

This book lived up to all the praise that dozens of my friends heaped upon it in their recommendations for me to read it. I found it as interesting and captivating as id expected but the content of the story was far more straight forward than id guessed and the philosophical and spiritual themes that the book might have leant itself too never came to the foreground. I loved the affection the writer has for his characters/friends as well as self depreciating humor and self awareness about his flaws yet I found his aloofness and arrogance prohibited me from loving him as much as the people around him and the world they inhabit. Back to Book Reviews

The Boy In The Striped Pajamas8/10
John Boyne

This book is truly beautiful and magically infused with heart and soul. It is so good in so many ways that I want to give it a 10 or at least a 9 but I wont and here’s why. He uses a couple of conventions in his writing style to set a childlike tone and at first it’s really effective and well done and throughout the book it’s mostly fine but especially the phrases he repeat a lot by the half way point in the book start to get a little cheesy and by the end of the book made me feel a little patronized or perhaps embarrassed. This doesn’t detract from the story in anyway but just slightly took me out of the experience at times and certainly was noticeable enough to take this book out of the category of great fiction, which is sad because with literally 200 words chopped out I’d be flabbergasted by it’s brilliance.
Spoiler Alert: the following paragraph reveals the books ending do not read any further. Something funny happened while reading this book I was about half way through and I said to Nicola “you know how everyone raved about this book to you and then when you read it you were a little disappointed that it wasn’t quite as profound or amazing as everyone had said. Well its great for me because due to your reaction to them over-selling it you’ve now under-sold it to me and I had quite low expectations and I’m fucking loving it, I think its brilliant”. We then talked about that for a while as we were brushing our teeth and getting ready for bed and she said playfully and sarcastically “I just didn’t get what was the big deal, so some rich kid dies” and I said “what?” and she said “so some rich… kid… Oh… Nothing… oh sorry” and I said “what the fuck… what the fucks wrong with you?” and she said “oh sorry… oh every one know that.. oh shit… I thought you already knew that… oh sorry tom… oh tom I’m really sorry about that”. I was genuinely disappointed to have the ending revealed but I feigned more exasperation than actually I felt cause even as she said it I could see the humor in it and knew it was an accident. Back to Book Reviews

The Broker7/10
John Grisham

Gripping, page-turning stuff. Great story and interesting characters, that suffer just a little bit from not being likeable enough. Back to Book Reviews

The Game Of Kings7/10
Dorothy Dunnett

My entire life I have been haunted by this notion that my mum thinks, if not that I’m stupid, at least that I’m not as smart as my sister. In my mind this series of Dorothy Dunnet books has been her longstanding gauntlet to prove my intellectual worth. In my issue-tainted memory’s I recall her saying “only the most intelligent people can appreciate these books” and “many of my slower acquaintances have tried them but couldn’t get through them, lacking the literary sophistication to understand their abundant joys and merits.”
This challenge is one I’ve embarked on several times and even in finally accomplishing it this time and finishing (the first of 6 very long books) I nearly gave up on several occasions. The problem isn’t in the storylines or the style of writing per se it’s the myriad of literary references, the prose in a plethora European languages and the addressing characters by multiple titles that left me constantly perplexed at what the fuck was going on. Then there’s the slow pace for the first 200 pages of the book. On the other hand the joys of the book are, more than just my imagined entry into the elite intellectual snobbery of mother and sisters club, the fact that this is an incredibly well written book with fascinating characters and that the writer has a very clever and acutely sharp sense of humor. Just five more to go… Back to Book Reviews

The Grisl With The Dragon Tattoo, Larson 8/10

Steig Larsson

I was expecting a 10 out of 10 review for you with this book as everyone said it was amazing. I just thought it was fucking good. I read a lot of John Grisham in between reading great fiction e.g Cormac Mccarthy or the classics; Steinbeck, Kerouac etc. John is my guilty pleasure in-between books that actually matter. In saying that I see the academic snobbery and conceit in such beliefs and the reality is I do fucking like Grisham its just it doesn’t leave me feeling very emotionally or intellectually nourished and it’s a little formulaic. Anyway this book is like reading a really really good John Grisham that’s got fascinating loveable characters with a lot more depth and a writing style doesn’t rely on such simple conventions. Back to Book Reviews

The Grisl Who Played With Fire, Larsson 8/10

Steig Larsson

This is where you get the main protagonists back story and things in general get more complex. Now I loved it and I was on the edge of my seat but (and Nicola disagrees with me on this point) I think the main protagonist displays fighting skills and other talents that the author hadn’t attributed to her in the first novel, which by the way makes her way more kick ass and loveable. Lastly I think in this novel he reveals the answers and climaxes to the story in a fairly slovenly way. Its like the difference between a wild cataclysmic orgasm or going “oh no its so good I don’t want to cum just yet… oh maybe its too late… oh no its all right there we go … or do we… oh no… oh yes… oh well” you still had the pleasure preceding it and you still get the afterglow but the pivotal moments were somehow lessened. Back to Book Reviews

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest, Larsson 10/10

Steig Larsson

The previous two books are a wonderful prelude to this book which is a fucking masterpiece!
The second half of this book may be the most engaging and satisfying 300 pages I have ever read. The prose as always is clever and has a great wit and feel to it but the real strength of these books is the gripping storylines. The difference between this one and the previous two is that the climax here truly delivers and keeps on delivering. Back to Book Reviews

The Last Juror9/10
John Grisham

This is definitely one of Grisham’s best. The way he infuses the southern town with such a down home folksy charm full of whimsical lyrical characters just perfectly illustrates why I read his books in the first place. Some might like the suspense, or the thrills but I’ve always just liked the settings and some of the legal maneuvering and dialogue. This book has a fine story but for me it’s all about the characters and its got a touch more personal than some of his other books in that he writes in first person. Back to Book Reviews

The Road 10/10

Cormac McCarthy

Apocalyptic tale of a father and son.

This replaced ‘Grapes of Wrath’ and ‘On The Road’ as my favorite books of all time and despite the similar title it shares with the latter it has far more in common with the former. McCarthy shares, and even surpasses, Steinbecks gift for writing descriptions that are stories in of themselves. So often in a book I find myself really wading through the descriptions and more recently I just skip them (I know but there’s too many books on the planet to waste time). For someone like me who just loves dialogue it’s a real testament that a book almost devoid of dialogue could become my favorite book and this book simply is that good. Even for those people who aren’t huge McCarthy fans and have perhaps read his other novels and been nonplussed I implore you to read this book. Proof that even in this new millennium we have writers as talented as Shakespeare, Twain or Rumi. Back to Book Reviews

The Time Travellers Wife 9/10

Audrey Niffenegger

Romantic drama with magical scientific themes.

This novel eats other romance novels for breakfast. It has so much authentic love and passion in it and such genuine gritty human relating that it makes your average really good romantic drama novel look like agony aunt letter to a womans weekly publication. The central male character is a bit less holistic or selfless than I’m comfortable with but that edge just made his tenderness more touching. The reason I don’t give it a 10 is that I feel one of the central lessons of the book was undermined by the female lead seeming not to have learnt it in the last of pages of the book and that being romanticized rather than explored. But that’s just me. Back to Book Reviews

Record Reviews

Band of horses – Infinite Arms9/10

Sounds like My Morning Jacket, Fleet Foxes, Interpol
This new album is so good its made me go back to their first two which I thought had a good sound but too few good songs and give them both a second chance. They’re much better than I first thought but no way near as good as this one. This album has melodies and lyrics for 3 albums, but they wouldn’t be as good as this one. They finally got it right, it’s a fucking brilliant melodic melancholic masterpiece. Back to Record Reviews

Big Star – Big Star 9/10
Big star – Radio City 9/10
Sounds like; Led Zepplin, Gene Clarke
I can’t review these records separately as I have them on a single disk reissued a few years back. I’ve had this double album for years and when I first got it felt disappointed that it dint have more amazing mellow songs and had so much rock n roll. I’ve just pulled it out again after a couple years on the shelves and have been totally blown away! Radio City probably has more mellow stuff so I think id say I prefer that record most but my tolerance for loud guitars has gone3 up and I’m amazed at how beautifully melodic the rockers on both albums are. They’re also not as stock rock as I thought, often with quite intriguing little subsections and bridges taking straightforward rock into quirky territories. For me music is all about lyrics and these lyrics come under a sort of musical subsection of ‘simple street poetry’ where the lyrics themselves don’t stand alone as poetic or profound but when the emotion and melody are added the fact that what they’re expressing is conveyed in such a effortless everyday style gives it a creative authenticity that more than compensates for the lack of grace. Back to Record Reviews

Bill Hickman – ghosts of smoke8/10

Sounds like Mark Kozelek and Talk Talk
I’m not a huge fan of New Zealand music. Not because I’m not patriotic but because its mostly all shit. I mean it might not be more shit statistically than American music or English music I mean I probably only like about 1% of music from those countries too. It’s just as a New Zealander your supposed to say “I love NZ music”, but not me, I don’t. I do however love this little e.p. Bill also writes songs for (among other bands) THE SHOT BAND which is one of a small number of NZ bands I do like and his songs on their records while being very good have never been the standouts to me. This e.p reveals his true talent in all its understated haunting brilliance. The melodies are sadly beautiful and the lyrics are perfectly heartbreaking while always seeming effortless. There is nothing contrived or forced here. It feels like these songs just slipped out of him this way and he’s doing the slightly regrettable and onerous duty of recording and releasing them for us. To say bill has lived these songs is a major understatement and if the joyful banter he spellbinds you with on stage could throw you off the scent of how true these things are to him, the gravity in his eyes let you in. The frailty, emotion and comfort of his raw natural voice are captured here exquisitely and if none of this sounds like much fun, then let me say these are the most uplifting and catchy bunch of ballads I’ve heard since THE FELICE BROTHERS second record. Back to Record Reviews

British Sea Power – Do You Like Rock Music6/10

Sounds like; Oasis, U2, The Stone Roses
This album took a few listens to get into and then I never got into it that much. Its just not that melodically catchy. It does have a few great anthemic moments throughout but nothing about it hugely engages me. The production and instrumentation is however all first rate, but if the songs aren’t there… Back to Record Reviews

Dinosaur Jr – Green Mind 9/10

Sounds like; Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Nirvana

There are three dinosaur Jr albums that I heard all in the same period of time in the same Girlfriends flat when I was 17 or 18. In some ways I view that time as being my third introduction into modern music. At 11 I developed my for love hip-hop and in a crazy flat at 16 where I dealt drugs with an alcoholic flat mate who spent the rent on piss, and a gambling flat mate who spent the power bill on Pokies, I was introduced to grunge (which I’d briefly appreciated while roller-bladeing at 12 but gotten bored of by 13). Like most of my music loving life I was predominantly listening to various bands from the 60’s and 70’s and my personal song-writing style drew heavily from the psychedelic folk rock of Donovan and The Byrds etc. Hearing (and somehow actually liking) these three Dinosaur Jr albums was a bit of a revelation to me. What immediately struck me was the intensity of the emotion in the melodies despite all the distracting punk/grunge rock bursting out the seams. The way J Mascis could turn a casual conversational sentence into a whole world of deeply conveyed emotion, pining or angst totally opened me up to writing songs in a more direct and less veiled way. Listening to this album this morning for the first time in 5 years, which would have been the first time in 4 years, I was struck by the way that the blistering guitars and obnoxious drums somehow really don’t take me out of the songs and (as any punk appreciators would expect) actually intensify the emotion and mood. I thought I might find it to jarring and aurally demanding but I loved it and felt as inspired as I did when I was 18. It made me want to walk through the streets with a walkman on chain-smoking and thinking about some girl who’d never noticed me and longing. The album as a whole is a real concise journey and is a stunning document to the post-punk, grunge scene of the 90’s the references to the destruction inflicted by opiate abuse are particularly impacting and uniquely authentic, never fraying into sentimentality or moralizing. Back to Record Reviews

Dinosaur Jr– Where You Been10/10

Sounds like; Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Nirvana

This Is the third of three records that I’m reviewing of dinosaur Jr and like I’ve said in the two reviews above, I find it hard to differentiate between the three of them, this one however is my favorite! It has all the charms, and haunting mangled beauty of the first two but also boasts two obvious singles that take the brilliance of his indie styled songwriting and make it just a touch smoother and catchier. The first single Get Me I first heard on a Triple J compilation that I had on cassette tape when I was in my third and final rehab and I’d just rewind that song again and again as I’d walk through the forests of that sacred little mountain town. The second single Goin’ Home is like the best radio Ballad since Mr Jones And Me though I don’t know if they actually released it as a single. As with all his songs on these 3 records the street vernacular and effortless emotionally charged delivery give these songs a real authenticity and depth that is really unique and incredibly uncommon on radio. This album I think was given the worst review of these three records on which is a site that has turned me onto more bands than any other single source since My-Jack-Black-from-High-Fidelity-esque friend at Slow Boat Records on Cuba St. This album is a perfect starting point for anyone interested in discovering Dinosaur Jr. Back to Record Reviews

Dinosaur Jr – Without A Sound9/10

Sounds like; Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Nirvana

This is the second record of three Dinosaur Jr records that a huge impact on me when I was 18 which is why I’m not putting these three records in alphabetical order but chronological. I don’t have a huge amount of separation between the three records so I’ve made myself listen to them individually for these reviews (as opposed to all in a row, where I might confuse what songs fit where). I don’t notice any progression or difference musically between this album and green mind and I haven’t let myself re-listen to the where you been yet so I cant comment on that. Everything that I loved about green mind I love about this album too. One thing that I didn’t comment on on Green Mind though should have, so will here, is the effortless delivery of J Mascis’s singing. It has a real clumsy naturalism that makes the conveyed emotion feel so authentic and real. It was almost a shame seeing him play live when I did because the enigmatic highwayman with rough manners but a noble heart and emotions bubbling up just beneath the surface out of eyes reach who I’d imagined by his voice, was really let down by the Wayne’s World insecure slacker stoner persona of the actual author. The other thing about this record that I think might make it my favorite of the three is that it has in it either more of or just perhaps a few of the best of the haunting mournful rock ballads. Mascis has a way sometimes of making really spooky sad music with his falsetto harmonies and aching melodies buried in a Peter And The Wolf orchestra of distorted guitars. Back to Record Reviews

Gossip – Music For Men6/10
Sounds like; The White Stripes crossed with M People

Finn was sleeping in the back of the van as I was doing a 9 hour drive across the north island I’m listening to this for the energy and pulse to keep me awake after 4 hours of sleep built up on another two nights of 5 hours sleep. At some point I see Finn’s red puffy school boy face looming behind me from the back of the van. He asks me with a perfected naive innocence that he reserves for such moments of highly advanced and premeditated sarcasm “what’s this?”. I can’t tell if this is an authentically interested question or if I can now detect the set up so I say as concisely and ambiguously as I can “its Gossip”. He waits for a few seconds possibly deciding if I’m going to take the bait or not before giving it and just letting me know outright “it’s terrible”.
I’ve got tricks up my sleeve too however and counter with “oh yeah jack white (who he idolizes and has just seen live with The Dead Weather) loves them and took them on tour with The White Stripes”, “oh” says Finn, formulating a response, unable to directly challenge Jacks musical tastes. I add “they’ve got like 4 or 5 really amazing songs on this album but a lot of it is pretty mediocre filler”. And that pretty much sums up the album. Except to say that the song Love Long Distance is one of the best fucking pop songs of all time, derivative as it may be. Back to Record Reviews

J. D Souther– Black Rose8/10
Sounds like; Little Feat, Jackson Browne

This second record of J.D Souther has a similar mix of ballads and rock tracks as his first record but the difference is that this time around the rock tracks are less rock and roll and much more funky and rootsy. Having listened to this album 5 or 6 times already (and two of those yesterday) I still feel like I’m not quite sure exactly what I think of it other than I really like some of the songs and none of them are in anyway unlikeable and the ones that I haven’t grown totally fond of yet give me a sense that this album ia actually a classic, that grows on you and is perhaps one of those records that is absolutely perfect for a certain type of mood and when you feel in that mood and go “hmm I just want to listen to a certain sort of something… ahh that’s it J.D Souther, funky easy listening!”. Back to Record Reviews

J. D Souther– J. D Souther 7/10
Sounds like; The Eagles, Jackson Browne

For the uninitiated J.D Souther is basically an unofficial member of the Californian soft-rock group The Eagles. He wrote a few of their songs and they all hung together and toured together. His first album under his own name not surprisingly sounds a lot like an early Eagles record, fully equipped with Don and Glenn harmonies for authenticity. It’s a little bit less polished than The Eagles which many will appreciate yet its not raw enough to call it rustic or rootsy its got a few good songs and a few good arrangements and he’s got a pretty good voice. It was created in the golden era of early 70’s soft rock by some of the best in the business so it gets everything right, it just lacks the song power that made The Eagles records hits or Jackson Browne records classics. The record instead stands as a little demonstration perhaps of the reason why J.D Souther became obscure over the years as opposed to his buddies who became superstars. Its almost like he wasn’t introspective enough to be Jackson Browne or Neil young and he wasn’t showy or rocky enough to be the Eagles or Fleetwood Mac. My preference would be that instead of walking the middle ground he tone down the drums and electric guitars and add a few more acoustic guitar ballads, but I’m not sure that he ever really did. Back to Record Reviews

Jackson Browne – late for the sky 10/10

This is the album that turned me on to Jackson Browne and that I first heard it at 30 years old seems unfathomable. It’s a masterpiece, and from my immediate ravenous devouring of his other albums from that era I feel like it is his one true masterpiece. The albums immediately before and after have moments of greatness and carry the same charms but this is his ‘after the goldrush’ or ‘blue’. It’s amazing that so many artists who embodied the ‘canyon sound’ and created masterpieces at that time did so in such incredibly unique and diverse ways. Late For The Sky sounds nothing at all like BLUE or GOLDRUSH or DE JA VU or DIXIE CHICKEN and yet they are all part of this amazing Californian family from the same 4 year period. Jackson’s thing is pining and whimsical reflection and if that’s your thing you’ll fucking love it. He makes soft piano ballads seem earthy and bad ass. Back to Record Reviews

Joanna Newsom- Have One On Me10/10
Sounds like; Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks

It cannot be overstated that Joanna is unequivocally one of the major musical geniuses of her or any generation, she could easily be the most significant recording artist of the last 3 decades. Her first album was not everyone’s cup of tea and on first listen I ended up not giving it a good chance till I’d fallen in love with her second record which only had her unique voice and masterful skill at writing haunting transcendental melodies in common with its predecessor. Her new album is a continuation of her second record, Y’s, which had 5 songs on it each averaging about 8 minutes in length. This triple album has 6 long songs on each disk and is just as profoundly creative and stunningly beautiful as Y’s was. In place of the best string arrangements ever composed for modern music that Y’s had on every song, these songs have been arranged with much more rootsy and folky instrumentation but mostly to equally dazzling effect. If at moments the more conventional instruments fail to reach the dizzying heights of the Y’s strings they make up for it by allowing more space and rustic charm throughout. The impenetrable metaphors of her first two albums have softened a little and you feel like she’s revealing herself more clearly this time. The exquisite poetry hasn’t been compromised in any way but her experience as a woman and a human seem to be more clearly recognizable which makes songs such as ‘on a good day’ hit you so hard that just writing the title my throat is choked… and yep both eyes are now watering.
She is the Joni Mitchell of the new millennium not because she’s a woman whose good at music, and not because at times her adventurous melodies are reminiscent of Joni. But because, like Joni, she has taken contemporary music and stunningly revolutionized it beyond any comparison to any of her contemporaries, male or otherwise.
Ryan Adams, Iron and Wine, Midlake and all my favorite artists bring something new to the world of music so when I use the word Revolutionize I don’t mean because of the sheer quality of the songs I mean because the types of songs she’s writing have never before been seen on the planet. Joni’s integrating of open tunings and jazz with folk rock and her bizarre singing style were so new she was creatively and impactful more comparable to bob Dylan then Neil young in terms of how she changed music. Joanna’s complete disregard for conventional song structures and album structures and melody and everything is so singularly unique that the likelihood of the music being in anyway remotely enjoyable let alone popular is a feat of extraordinary success and another testimony to her natural brilliance.
Not that it’s at all relevant but she’s also as cute as they come. Back to Record Reviews

Judee sill – Dreams Come True8/10
Sounds like; Carole King, Jackson Browne
I got this record over a year ago and was immediately impressed by the brilliance of the production and arrangements and the intricate patterns and forms the songs flow through. I like her voice and her lyrics and her tragic crazy diamond story adds another layer of mystic and depth to her presence. I think I didn’t listen to it enough to fully grasp it though, I was all like “wow what a cool album amazing that there must be so many gems like this that have been buried in the past”, now I’m all like “this albums fucking amazing everyone who likes Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, early Elton John and J. D Souther will fucking love this record!” Back to Record Reviews

Longbeach Pennywhistle – Longbeach Pennywhistle8/10

Longbeach Pennywhistle – Longbeach Pennywhistle
Sounds like; The Byrds, Jackson Browne, Creedence Clearwater Revival

This is the first popular band of J.D Souther and it’s a brilliant slice of late 60’s rustic folk-rock and blues. Several brilliant songs and a lovely downbeat feel through out. Its one of the truly great gems form that time that you haven’t heard about. My version of it is a file shared version which has been recorded off a record player onto a computer complete with needle scratch and skipping, and I fucking love it. It truly sounds like your listening in on someone else’s front porch jam, someone very fucking talented and stoned and living up in the canyon in 1969. Back to Record Reviews

Midlake – The Courage Of Others9/10
Sounds Like; Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, Alan Parsons Project
Only heard this album about 5 times so far and in future months/years my score here could very easily move up or down but right now this feels right. After my first two listens it would have been a 6 or 7 as it seemed to be too same samey. I also felt like the lovely cheesy synths from Trials Of Van Ocupanther were sadly missing, they arnt.
The problem is you can’t release Trials Of Van Ocupanther and not have every album after it compared to it. That album was so amazing it made every other band in love with the 70’s and Indie-pop and alt-country go “holy shit that’s the standard, that’s where we can take it” I cant imagine the fleet foxes record would have been what it was without Van Ocupnather, though for all I know it was already recorded?
Anyway for me it was so good it was depressing it was like “oh what’s the fucking point now!” anyway this new album doesn’t have a song as good as Head Home or Roscoe but I think overall it actually has more good songs. Van Ocupanther had a few Good songs a few Great songs and a few Ok songs. Every song on Courage Of Others is really Good and I’m think the greatness is still revealing itself on every listen. Back to Record Reviews

Milli Vanilli – girl you know its true 7/10

Your likely wondering why this album is the first review here, and it’s a decent question. I was nostalgic for my first job selling newspapers to businesses in town as a 12 year old and I was remembering the tapes that Selwyn would play in his van as he dropped all us street urchins off. I got to wondering if perhaps Milli V weren’t as bad as there being exposed as frauds might have led many of us to remember them being. The review on allmusic .com gave me hope and when I downloaded the record and pushed the spacebar for the first time I was literally overwhelmed! This album is amazing! I downloaded bobby browns record from the same year at the same time and after two tracks put milli back on, loud. Its actually got more in common with abba than most RnB and pop in the charts then or now. Its only good in a totally funny kind of kicth way but in that way it’s a masterpiece! If I liked this genre of music more it’d get a 10 out of 10 but I’m not sure exactly what this genre of music is and I imagine most listeners will be predominantly liking it for a laugh. Back to Record Reviews

Pearl Jam – Binaural 6/10

Sounds like; Pearl Jam

Maybe its not fair to review this record after listening to it once in 8 years but in some ways I think that’s totally fair. That’s what I just did with Dinosaur Jr and they didn’t come off badly as a result. Pear Jam is one of the worlds biggest touring bands and this is one of their most forgettable albums, infact after listening to it yesterday I can only vaguely recall 2 songs one acoustic one just before the end and the great single nothing as it seems. It was at about this point in their career that I started to think one day Eddie might give us a solo album of mellow dusty country-rock tunes, his soundtrack for into the wild (though I haven’t actually ever heard it except for on the film) certainly wasn’t that. This album is just like every other Pearl Jam record but without any of the really emotional engaging or inspiring songs. Which means there’s a lot of energy and “Woohoo, we’re Pearl Jam!” but without much depth or substance. Back to Record Reviews

Raekwon – Cuban Links two 7/10
Sounds like; Wu Tang, Method Man, Ghostface Killah

Despite being a huge music aficionado and a rap fan since 1990 I’m no rap connoisseur and I find myself listening to it less and less. I actually went to see raekwon two nights ago and the experience really made me realize that hip-hop shows are not for me, I’d seen 50 cent 3 years earlier when I got free tickets and had the same epiphany, but this was Wu Tang and a real unique MC, surely this would be different? It was exactly the same, bullshit. It did however make a lot of the tracks on the new record seem a lot more party-ish than they do on the album which made me appreciate them a bit more.
All the reviews of this record say it’s brilliant and maybe their right? Maybe I’m too far removed from rap now to know what’s good anymore? But I suspect that its really just that quality of the majority of hip-hop releases is so poor that a mediocre album like this feels comparatively like its 93 and Wu Tang’s just released 36 chambers. That being said there are some great hooks at times and Raekwon’s characteristic croaky drawl and Mafioso authenticity are stronger than ever. Plus all the usual guest appearances from Wu members provide some great energy and stylistic diversity. Back to Record Reviews

She and Him – Volume Two 8/10
Sounds like; Carole King,

The second installment from Ward and Deschanel is as utterly charming and retro-pop-alicious as their first with arrangement and productions just aching with authenticity. The songs at first seemed stronger to me than the last album but on repeated listens lack the endurance of some of the first records. So I’d say all in all the album is an exact equal to its predecessor. It’s just what you feel like when your chatting with some really pretty sophisticated bohemian girls from the city when your serving them green tea on your dilapidated porch trying to keep up with the conversation but enjoying the feeling more than the content. Back to Record Reviews

Sunhouse – crazy on the weekend 8/10

Sounds like Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, the clash.
This is an album that I leant to Luke and Sam from phoenix foundation that took them 9 years to give it back. The band just made this one record and then did a soundtrack for a British bob Hoskins film and then started another band that’s ok. This album is not available online to buy or through file sharing and is no longer in any shops. Its not a masterpiece but its fucking good especially when they lay off the overdriven blues guitars and let the acoustics shine out. Its much more blues than country and the lead singer wears his working class British accent like a badge of honor yet it’s the most alt-country/ American album made by an English group since EXILE ON MAIN ST. Back to Record Reviews

The Flying Burrito Brothers – The Flying Burrito Brothers 8/10

Sounds like; Gram Parsons, Emmy Lou Harris, The Byrds

I often think of Gram Parsons as an iconic figure in my musical world but in reality none of his solo albums or his 2 records with The Burrito Brothers do a huge amount for me, certain songs he’s written are amazing but on the whole he’s more of an archetype to me than an actual musical inspiration. It’s not surprising then that my favorite Flying Burrito brothers album is the first one after Gram left the band. Chris Hillman from The Byrds wrote over half of these songs and in my mind it’s the strongest set of songs with the best arrangements the band ever did. Country rock at its best great feeling and harmonies matched with melodic and lyrical depth (as far as the genre allowed at that time). There are no revelations here and the conventionality of the structures and lyrics prevents me from giving it a higher rating. It’s not a landmark or anything just a really enjoyable record from one of the great genres and eras.
Back to Record Reviews

The Gaslight Anthem – Sink or Swim 8/10

Sounds like Bruce Springsteen, Rancid
This album is interestingly the most raw punk and also has the highest number of ballads/mellow rockers. Apart from these ballads It lacks the lyrical and musical sophistication of what’s to come but damn the heart and soul was there from the very beginning and in terms of creating a world and a mythology… its fucking anthemic. Back to Record Reviews

The Gaslight Anthem – The 59 Sound 9/10

Sounds like Bruce Springsteen, The Hold Steady, The Clash
This album has a song on it that I heard on a soundtrack that captivated me so much I couldn’t concentrate on what I was watching and I not only had to go and immediately find the song but the band and every piece of info and music I could find. After getting the whole catalogue and finding much to my surprise that they were a punk band, I assumed my fervor would quickly die but magically it didn’t and I can honestly say I haven’t been this consumed with a band for 2 years. For a fan of slow folk music this is truly saying something. This band has revolutionized my view of rock, punk and how to make music. These guys are the real deal and this music is full of real honest emotion and love. Not to mention some of the most underhanded iconic imagery of the last 60 years of rock n roll. Back to Record Reviews

The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang 9/10

Sounds like Bruce Springsteen, Aretha Franklin, The Hold Steady.
I can never decide if this is more of a masterpiece than the 59 sound or the other way around. This album is musically more sophisticated so it is another evolution for the band, without compromising the raw honesty and emotion that makes them so cathartic and appealing. At the same time however sometimes I wonder if for all the gains in sophistication and substance there’s just a drop less catchiness? Also this album, despite having a ballad at the end, has no real mellow songs where the overdrive lets up, which is hardly a complaint when you have 10 phenomenal songs to keep you riveted. Back to Record Reviews

The Killers – Hott Fuzz 8/10

This album is brilliant. Totally pumping Synth-Rock with its own recycled uniqueness. Sounding a million times more European than Las-Vegas-ian, this album is catchy, hooky and rocks out! The lyrics aren’t all that deep, but in their melodic context seem significant and symbolic in their own street way. Back to Record Reviews

The Killers – Sams Town 5/10

Described as an alt-country version of their sound I expected I’d like this record as much, if not more, than the first but it doesn’t quite work. They sound much more American now which just serves to illustrate how essential their gritty European sensibilities were to creating an urgency and excitement in their songs. Or maybe its just as simple as the fact that this time out they don’t have the songs? Its still ok but its no master stroke and probably relatively deserving of the term ‘the sophomore slump’. Back to Record Reviews

The Killers – Day and Age 6/10

Better than Sams Town but no way near as good as XXX this record is a return to intensity and rocking out but without the grit or hooks of the first. Its not good enough to be a return to form just a return to what works better. It still feels like they need to reclaim their inheritance of the dark side of the euro nightclub musical legacy. Back to Record Reviews

The National – High Violet 10/10
Sounds like; Thom Yorke, Interpol, Nick Cave

Their last official album The Boxer was a masterpiece and the album before that was too, their interim b-sides album was a delight and their song on the Dark Was The Night Soundtrack was one of the highlights. Expectations for this album were high for not just me but probably the world at large and especially for themselves. As I waited for the album to download I read every review I could find and found myself nodding my head in agreement suppressing tears as I read the positive ones and shaking my head furiously and incredulously at the negative ones. On listening to it however I realized that while none of the National’s music is exactly immediately accessible that this album in particular was going to take a while to grow on me. Don’t get me wrong I fucking love this album and make no mistake the songs on it our incredible and also very catchy. I think the arrangements and production are of a type that doesn’t naturally resonate with me and therefore the fact that I still rate this album a 10 is a testament not only to the brilliance of the songs at the heart of these productions but also the skill and genius in the production. This album is easily their third best album if not first equal with Alligator. Back to Record Reviews

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