Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Enough is enough

So it all started with Sarah Silverman's video tribute to her boyfriend late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel called I'm F--cking Matt Damon. It was funny and cute.

After the Acadamy Awards on Sunday...Jimmy Kimmel broadcasted his response entitled I'm F--king Ben Affleck. Though it is funny and filled with crazy cameos...the swearing that is being beeped out is so prevelant, you can barely hear the song. But you have to love the We Are The World vibe to it.

And now others in Hollywood are jumping on the bandwagon. Stars Seth Rogan (you know him from Knocked Up and the 40 Year Old Virgin) and Elizabeth Banks (the lovely Beth from The 40 Year Old Virgin) have teamed up for a video called I'm F--king Seth Rogan. Seriously, enough IS enough. According to wikipedia, this was allegedly put together by director M. Night Shyamalan.

Rogan and Banks are currently filming a new Kevin Smith-directed opus entitled Zack & Miri Make A Porno. So really, as opposed to being a spoof, this really ends up being an early promo for this movie that is scheduled to be released later in 2008. Smith, who desperately needs a hit film as his last hit film was probably Dogma in 1999 certainly could use the advanced hype.

Top 5 Kevin Smith films
1. Clerks
(it is going to be a stretch to finish this list)
2. Chasing Amy
3. Mallrats
4. Dogma
5. Jersey Girl

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Back In The High Life...again

I have always felt bad for Steve Winwood. This guy may be a genius but no one knows it. He is one of the most famous organ players in rock history and is a pretty solid guitarist as well.

Before he was 20 years old, he co-wrote one of the greatest songs of the 1960s Gimme Some Lovin'. But a combination of bad luck, bad choices and bad music has made Winwood an afterthought in the industry.

When he was 16 years old, he joined the band The Spencer Davis Group with his brother Muff. Together, they were part of that band for two albums Gimme Some Lovin and I'm A Man (U.S. titles).

Here is a rough sounding Winwood in 1966 singing Gimme Some Lovin. The song really needs some back up singers...but wow, the power of Winwood's organ playing really drives this song.

After leaving the Spencer Davis Group, he became involved with the band Traffic. Although they had some hits in the UK with Dear Mr. Fantasy and Paper Sun...they did not have the cross over success in the United States that his first band had. I am not a huge fan of this stuff as it seems to mix the art rock sound that became more in vogue with Yes, Genesis and The Moody Blues along with the blues sound of Spencer Davis and a hint of acid jazz.

As Traffic plugged along, he also joined the first known supergroup Blind Faith with the guitarist and drummer from Cream, Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker. Together they recorded a six song album entitled Blind Faith. It reached #1 in both the UK and North America and a tour soon followed. The tour was shortlived and no further albums were ever made by the trio. A sad fact as this still remains the best Steve Winwood material I have ever heard. Backed by Clapton's stellar guitar work and Baker's manic drumming...the six songs still sound as fresh today as they did in 1969.

Top 5 Steve Winwood songs
1. Gimme Some Lovin' (with The Spencer Davis Group)
2. Can't Find My Way Home (with Blind Faith)
3. Every Little Bit Hurts (with The Spencer Davis Group)
4. The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys (with Traffic)
5. Roll With It

It's Winwood's solo career that really seems to go astray and go against the music he made in the 60s and early 70s. His first official solo album was self titled and released in 1977. It did not garner one single hit song.

Three years later came Arc Of A Diver. It featured the over produced hit single When You See A Chance. It did reach the top 10...but it was more pop sounding than anything Winwood had done before.

His next solo album, Talking Back To The Night featured the hit song Valerie...even more overproduced and glossy than his previous hit.

Trying for a bigger sound, 1986 had him release Back In The High Life with had the multi grammy winning single Higher Love along with other hits Back In The High Life, The Finer Things and Freedom Overspill. Two years later, he had another hit with the song Roll With personal fave of his solo career along with the hits Don't You Know What The Night Can Do and Holding On. The album had more organ work than his previous three and reached #1.

Albums followed into the 90s such as Refugees Of The Heart, Junction Seven and About Time were released but did not reach any of the success he had in the 80s.

Why am I talking about Steve Winwood? I was checking out his website today and noticed he has a new album coming out called Nine Lives and the lead single Dirty City is being streamed on the website. It features Clapton on guitar. It is more than 7 mins long so it has no chance of being a hit...but it is the best thing I have heard him do since the break up of Blind Faith.

What am I saying with this lengthy post? Steve Winwood was a musical prodigy. He wrote a gigantic hit song before he was finished puberty. I would hate to think his life peeked before his 21st birthday. In an industry that revels in mediocrity...Steve Winwood deserves more...and frankly, so do we.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Why am I sadder about Roy Scheider than Heath Ledger?

I had been meaning to write something about Heath Ledger's death. The problem is, I really have nothing to say. I have never seen a single movie Heath Ledger has been in. This is not some sort of anti-Brokeback Mountain thing. He has just never been in a movie I have wanted to see.

I feel bad about the circumstances of his death. Leaving his young daughter, possible hints of drug abuse...not sure of the whole story, I am just glad TMZ has stopped with the 24 hour Britney watch to follow this saga.

Over the weekend, veteran actor Roy Scheider died. I have always felt bad for Scheider as his greatest roles and the best movies he has ever been in...he has been overshadowed by co-stars. Whether you talk about Marathon Man with Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier or Jaws with Richard Dreyfuss...Scheider almost becomes an afterthough compared to those bigger stars with showier performances.

His best performance ever was probably the Bob Fosse directed All That Jazz. The problem is this movie has basically been forgotten as a confusing bit of cinema as the famed choreographer Bob Fosse directed this film which is essentially a bio-pic of himself during the time he was trying to finish the film Lenny while staging the broadway show of Chicago. I don't often agree with Leonard Maltin but he referrs to All That Jazz as self indulgent...and he's not wrong. It is just too bad that a great Scheider performance is lost in all of it.

Top 5 Roy Scheider movies
1. Marathon Man
2. Jaws
3. The French Connection
4. All That Jazz
5. 52 Pick Up

Post 80s, Scheider is probably best known for the television show seaQuest DSV. It lasted barely three seasons. He became quite vocal about the problems with the show during the second season, and only appeared in three episodes of the show's third and final season.

The show was a bit like an underwater Star Trek and, because of which, actually continues to have a bit of a cult following. The first season was realeased on DVD in late 2005 while the second season was released on DVD last month. Unfortunately, not a fitting end for one of the most underrated actors of the 70s.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

My weekend...and other shenanigans

So it was Super Bowl weekend and time for Jayman's annual Super Bowl/Chili party. Unfortunately as all members of the Jayman clan were sick, the party was cancelled. I took the opportunity to watch a screener of the Academy Award nominated film Juno.

As a quick review, let me say simply that it is the funniest, most surprising and most heartfelt movie of the year. As most people know, it is about a spunky 16 year old girl who finds herself pregnant. Now picture the kind of scenes you would imagine in a film with that subject matter. Trust me, none of those scenes will actually go as you would imagine.

The script is the most surprising aspect. The characters of her father and step mother are not what you expect. They are played, against type, by JK Simmons (you know him from Oz and the Spiderman movies) and Allison Janney (you know her from The West Wing). It is the kind of movie that I wish I could watch again without remembering that I had seen it before.

Of course, this film is not for everyone. I love this really negative review from DVD Talk.

Interestingly enough, it is the the third of the 5 Best Picture nominees that I have seen this year (the others being No Country For Old Men and Michael Clayton). It is the first time since 1994 that I have seen that many of the Best Picture nominees prior to the Academy Awards. If you don't remember 1994, that was one of the best years for the Academy Awards in decades. The nominees for best picture were The Shawshank Redemption, Quiz Show, Pulp Fiction, Four Weddings And A Funeral and the eventual winner Forrest Gump.

Other things I watched on the weekend included this tribute that comedienne Sarah Silverman gave to her boyfriend Jimmy Kimmel to commemorate the 5th anniversary of his talk show. She sung a song called I'm F--cking Matt Damon.

If you don't know, this is part of an ongoing fued between Matt Damon and Jimmy Kimmel. People magazine has outlined the details of this ongoing fued including clips.

Top 5 Matt Damon Films
1. The Bourne Identity
2. The Departed
3. Ocean's Eleven
4. The Talented Mr. Ripley
5. Saving Private Ryan

Anyway, these are things I did as opposed to watching the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, it means I missed some great pop culture moments like the new video by Paula Abdul that was aired during the game's pre-game hoopla...

Tom Petty believing it was still the 80s as his half time show set list included three songs from his 1989 solo album along with the band's big hit from their debut album from 1976. To make matters worse, he has been accused of lip synchinc during that show. Makes this quote of his from a 1978 Chicago Tribune interview a little more interesting...

"I just want us to stay honest, and keep making honest records. To me, an honest record is one that you feel the artist believes in, one in which the artist actually means what he's singing. A lot of people have an image that isn't really them. But I think kids know when that happens. They can tell when it's jive. I don't want to start slagging people and naming names, but everybody knows that rock and roll got very boring the last few years."

And finally, FOX is in trouble for using the Arcade Fire song No Cars Go during the pre-game broadcast. Oh, and apparently the heavily favoured Patriots lost to the Giants during the actual football game. It was buried there within the 14 hours of football programming this past sunday.

Well, I guess the good news is the writers strike looks to be over soon. Finally, it should give me something more to write about.

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