Ugh; I enjoy having all this free time, but I crave a little structure. I need to get back to work, and I will in three weeks time. Until then, I sift through another box of CDs to review, think about movies to see, and places to visit if the rain ever stops. Here’s a little repprt, detailing the very, very good stuff I've come across as of late and... um, well, you’ll see.


I fell asleep during director Michel Gondry’s first Charlie Kaufman-scripted film, Human Nature. I was vibrantly awake all through this one. I approached it skeptically; how could this cleverly constructed metaphysical romp have the same finesse and emotional impact of The Return, my favorite film of the year so far? Well, it does, although I didn’t feel the love until I began to piece together what this ingenious little film was trying to do (and yes, on the scale of every other film Jim Carrey has ever done, it’s little). I dare not give it away here; if you know anything about the plot other than it involves a couple played by Carrey and Kate Winslet (surprisingly commanding and earthy) and a memory-erasing clinic called the Lacuna Corporation, you’ll miss out on the process of discovery and memory that makes the film so engagingly puzzling. Carrey (his realest performance—subdued, controlled, honest), Winslet, and Kirsten Dunst make it touching, and Kaufman fully atones for the wasted final act sins of Adaptation.


The most anticipated full-length debut of the year, and how could it not be a letdown? Last year’s Young Liars EP has the advantage of being the first salvo, and at five tracks, its brevity left me wanting more. The LP doesn’t, even though it’s only eight new songs to contend with, since it repeats the EP’s “Staring At The Sun”.

So, here’s a rundown. “The Wrong Way” makes great advances on the band’s Zappa-esque industrial jazz stomp. “Dreams” comes closest to realizing their new-wave pop potential, and Tunde’s slippery vocal interjections are the shit. The menacing “King Eternal” has a great hidden joke in its title and a few choice phrases. “Ambulance” is their very own doo-wop a capella composition (as opposed to the EP’s twisted Pixies cover), and they should do more of that, but no more than one track per LP. “Poppy” is the prize. A two minute beatific sludge drops out, gives way to street corner doo-wop, and then rebuilds piece by piece and sounds like pure bliss. “Don’t Love You” is Bill Withers' and Innervisions-era Stevie Wonder’s angry, funky love child. “Bomb Yourself” isn’t quite the bomb, but interesting nonetheless. “Wear You Out” lingers and threatens to evaporate, but never loses ground.

It’s cohesive, funny, smart, art-damaged, contained, and still very unique. Not perfect, but if they survive the hype (or if the hype survives them), they could have a future.


OK, now I understand what the fuss was about Barbra Streisand. I knew her voice was amazing, and she made me laugh in What’s Up, Doc, but ugly-duckling-turned-into-a-swan stage comedienne Fanny Brice was obviously the role she was born to play. She owns it, and, unlike most movie musicals, she completely owns the film. It’s really all about her, a rare argument for megalomania. Thank goodness she came of age when she did, in the waning days of Old Hollywood grandiosity. She might’ve pulled off Cabaret in another five years, but what could she possibly have done on this scale in another ten? (Oh, that’s right—A Star Is Born. Not the same, is it?). Pray she stays in Meet The Fockers.


Well-meaning, Oscar nominated documentary about Cuban refugees in America. That’s all you really need to know. It’s stirring to see what progress they’ve made within five years, but the jump between both time periods leaves a lot out that could’ve adequately fleshed out the figures and their stories, all of ‘em worth hearing. I just wanted to doze off at the lackadaisical pace and throw stuff at the screen whenever disembodied musical voices appeared on the soundtrack, repeating lines just spoken by one of the film’s subjects. Not in the same league as the other four nominees, which included winner The Fog of War and Capturing The Friedmans.

Or, as oft-pronounced in the film, CA-LEI-GOO-LAAAHHH!)

Once in awhile, a special film comes along, a one-of-a-kind motion picture event that’ll make you laugh, cry, vomit, and vomit some more. It may even give you a hard-on. This is a must-see, not for any of those reasons, or ‘cause it’s good or competent even, but because you won’t believe it exists unless you sit yourself down and watch all two-and-a-half hours of it. Imagine this: Penthouse impresario Bob Guccione gathers a bunch of A-List actors to star in a Fellini-esque Roman Empire epic, scripted by Gore Vidal, and directed by approved Penthouse pornmaker Tinto Brass. Alternate hardcore scenes of incest, rape, fellatio (and it’s not just women going down on those guys) and the like with a heapin’ helpin’ of equally graphic, brutal, bloody violence. Make sure all the stars (Malcolm McDowell! Peter O’Toole! Helen Mirren!) except for Sir John Gielgud (whose character luckily gets killed off right away) overact HORRIFICALLY.

Don’t miss the priceless hour-long making-of documentary on the DVD, which feels tailor-made for the Playboy Channel circa ‘81 (even though it’s Penthouse, I know). Noteworthy for the following things:
1. Bob’s dangling medallions and open-chested shirt. Hello, 1979!
2. In his plump raincoat and matching hat, Brass resembles both a sidewalk flasher and a child molester.
3. The stately, serious narration. Obviously done by either the criminologist in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, or a young James Lipton.
4. Meet the dozen Penthouse Pets whom Bob flew over to Italy just to be in his film and hear how much fun they had making out with each other!
5. Gore Vidal. He’s serious too, but he must’ve been more embarrassed by this than the film version of Myra Breckenridge.
6. Bob’s best quote: “The film is not pornography, it’s paganography.” Well, that clarifies everything.