Category: 2004

2004, Books, Fiction

The Plot Against America (2004)

This is a flawed but near-great alternative history of the United States in the first years of World War II that manages to be incredibly compelling and affecting even while you suspect the premise might be slightly implausible. However, Roth is such a good writer that you kind of stop caring and if his handling …

2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, TV

The Wire (2002)

It’s been about 10 years since The Wire finished and 16 years since it started. In that time, I have managed to watch the first three seasons four times (I think), the fourth season three times and the notorious fifth season twice. (The only other dramatic show I have ever watched more than once is Deadwood.) I …

1995, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2014

Augusta Read Thomas: Selected Works for Orchestra (2014) by Various Artists

This is a compilation of performances of some of Thomas’ writing for orchestra. I got this from the library by accident but decided to listen to it anyway.

1965, 1967, 1985, 1986, 2004, Music

Kagel: Pan; String Quartets I-III (2004) by Arditti String Quartet

This disc collects the first three of Kagel’s quartets and pairs them with a piece he wrote for string quartet and piccolo (Dietmar Wiesner guests on that piece).

1915, 1919, 1922, 2004, Music

Ives: Concord Sonata; Songs (2004) by Pierre-Laurent Aimard with Susan Graham

This is one of those discs that pairs two different types of music and so, right off the bat, kind of annoys me. Ives has plenty of songs to release a whole disc (or many discs) of them, without instrumental music. (For example, one of his collections is called 114  Songs.) And he’s got plenty …

2004, Movies

Being Julia (2004, István Szabó)

I haven’t read the novel (I gather it’s one of Maugham’s lesser regarded works) but I feel like the edge that I have always felt in his writing is present here, which is no small accomplishment. Benning gives a bravura performance in the title role (though everybody’s good) and the production design is excellent. But …

2004, Music

Friends Seen and Unseen (2004) by The Charlie Hunter Trio

This band plays pretty traditional jazz for the 21st century – sure, there hints of more radical stuff, including odd syncopation and some relatively out playing by Ellis. But, for the most part, this is pretty mainstream jazz., primarily rooted in the blues. What makes it more interesting is Hunter, who is a phenomenal player …

2004, Movies

Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt (2004, Margaret Brown)

Like most music obsessives, I know of Townes Van Zandt. But I don’t know his songs too well – I have only ever heard his debut and Steve Earle’s tribute album. This is an impressionistic film: though there is some attempt a chronological portrait of Van Zandt’s life, it is inter-cut with performance and interview …

1920, 1924, 1928, 1933, 1946, 2004, Music

HONEGGER: Symphony No. 3, ‘Liturgique’ / Pacific 231 / Rugby et al. by New Zealand Symphony Orchestra conducted by Takuo Yuasa

This is a collection of some of Honegger’s works, pairing his three most famous pieces – the “symphonic movements” with one of his symphonies and a symphonic poem. The third symphony begins with a loud, fast movement that has been aptly described as “stormy.” It’s the kind of thing that makes me think maybe I …

2000, 2002, 2004, TV

Black Books (2000)

This is one of those mildly amusing sit coms that everyone goes nuts for because it’s British. Okay, maybe that’s a little mean. But I feel like this premise (irascible shop owner and his friends) has been done before. To be honest, it took me a really long time to warm up to this show. …

2004, Movies

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007, Gore Verbinski)

I’ve generally enjoyed these movies way more than I ever thought I would, but this one is so ridiculous, so convoluted, so unbelievable that whatever goofiness really doesn’t make up for the mess. (Though, I can’t help but think that the second one was maybe more of a mess than I remember.) It shouldn’t be …

2004, Movies

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004, Kerry Conran)

A manchurian slave camp?!?!? Seriously, who writes this stuff? There’s no fear of consequences for anyone because so many of the background characters are animated and it feels like most of the human characters will make it. Super worshipful of old comics, old movies and particularly Frank Capra’s Lost Horizon (not one of my favourites). …

2004, Music

House of Secrets (2004) by Otep

Not having heard the initial album, where she apparently rapped, I can’t say what exactly about this is supposed to be nu metal (though I’m hardly a nu metal expert). To me it sounds more like what I might call emo metal, way to metal to be emo, but way to artsy fartsy to be …

2004, Movies

The Universe: Cosmology Quest (2004, Randall Meyers)

Full disclosure: I never once took physics in high school and I certainly never took physics after that. My math background is so far in my past that I cannot rely on it. So you have to take everything I have to say about the physics of this film with a grain of salt. But …

2004, Music

Camouflage (2004) by Acoustic Ladyland

Coming at an artists backwards is always a big of an issue. Not only as it’s sort of unfair to the artist – we get our notions of what the artist sounds like when they are “mature” and try to apply that to their early work – but also as it’s unfair to the listener, …

2004, Movies

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004, Alfonso Cuaron)

It’s amazing what a great director can do with material that might otherwise turn you off. The ex-girlfriend assured me that the third book is considerably better than the first two, and that may be true, but it’s pretty much astounding to see the quality improve so drastically with the change in direction.

1590s, 1610s, 1988, 2004, Music

Carlo Gesualdo Madrigaux a 5 voix (1988) by Les Arts Florissants conducted by William Christie and Tenebrae responsories for Maundy Thursday (2004) by the King’s Singers

How we remember the past is always fascinating. They say the winners write history and that’s fine when it comes to political violence, but how relevant is that to art? Why exactly was Gesualdo forgotten for a couple centuries?

2004, Music

Berlioz: Les Nuits d’Ete; Faure; Ravel (2004, Virgin Classics) by David Daniels, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris conducted by John Nelson, et al

I have always sort of been annoyed by our collective obsession with vocalists. The human voice is indeed a powerful instrument, but it is hardly the only instrument out there. And I always am mystified when I see releases credited to vocalists when that vocalist isn’t even present on every track.

2004, Music

Contraband by Velvet Revolver (2004 RCA)

I remember the instant hipster derision when this came out. Specifically, I remember watching the lead single’s video, and a friend of mine – a hipster if memory serves – was nearly apoplectic when Slash stepped forward to play the solo. Apparently such a longstanding expression of “rock” authenticity was just totally uncool, at least at that …

2004, Music

Seven Circles by the Tea Party (2004 EMI)

Though hardly the most original band ever, the Tea Party are clearly extraordinarily talented musicians (if not much else). Their second album, The Edges of Twilight, boasts as many instruments as you can possibly imagine on a mid-’90s rock album. And though they were never original (and they stole a little too much) they were …

2004, Music

The Greatest Songs Ever Written (by Us) by NOFX (Epitaph 2004)

When I was a little more musically naive I used to believe that NOFX were preserving something, let’s call it the ‘essence of punk’ or something silly like that. I didn’t believe this because I listened to them, but rather because the guys I knew who were into punk (I wasn’t really into punk at …

2004, Music

Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge by My Chemical Romance (Reprise 2004)

Totally over the top, totally histrionic… and that’s okay. I mean, that’s sort of why it’s not shitty. There could be some terrible emo balladry here and there really isn’t any. Instead there’s just immediacy. It’s short, it’s “sweet” (kidding). It’s enjoyable. It’s not ATDI, but what could be? It would help if the guitarist …

2004, Music

Once by Nightwish (Roadrunner 2004)

Can’t say I’ve ever heard this “symphonic metal” thing before. It isn’t very metal, really, but whatever. It’s extraordinarily ambitious, fairly overproduced and full of too many ideas. And part of that is pretty cool (not the over the top production). It’s super melodic and lacks anything in the way of memorable guitar solos (I …

1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1948, 1952, 2004, Music

The Music Master by Benny Carter (Proper 2004)

First, a disclaimer: my library only has the last three discs so I am not reviewing the first disc. Though this music (at least the music on the second and third discs) is not really my thing, I find myself becoming a big admirer of Mr. Carter. He appears to have mastered three separate instruments …

2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, Movies

The Best Movies of the Decade

Now that we’re through the aughts, here are my picks for best movies of the decade. The ones that make the initial list are movies that I rated a 10/10. The runners up are 9/10s, and the honourable mentions are 8/10s. Many of these movies I have seen only once, and remember that in 2000 …

2004, Movies

What the #$%& do I know? I know your movie #$%& sucks…

What the #$%& (Bleep) Do we Know? has some very fascinating ideas in it. Not knowing much about quantum physics or neurobiology I found some of this incredible and quite fascinating, but before I get to the subject matter I must point out that it is HORRIBLY written and directed. It attempts to be more …

2004, Politics, Society

American Exceptionalism strikes again…

Hey, I’m watching TV and stuff again so I’m writing more! Or I just don’t want to study. I have to say, I really don’t feel like there’s anything more for me to do. So, this attack in London is horrible. I will never understand how anyone can do such things. But at the same …