Cocaine Cowboys (2006, Billy Corben)

Categories: 2006 and Movies.

I have heard about this film from a number of people and wonder if we watched the same movie. This is a poorly made film that absolutely reeks of early digital technology (even if 2006 would suggest it wasn’t made with early digital technology). Why is it that so many people are okay with watching movies that look like they were assembled in somebody’s basement? Read More

Brand Upon the Brain (2006, Guy Maddin)

Categories: 2006 and Movies.

I didn’t go see this in theatres, with its live orchestra, and that is now to my eternal regret. Because I feel like that experience might have made this the greatest of all Maddin experiences. On the small screen, it’s just not quite as immersive as I assume it would have been in a theatre somewhere, with a live orchestra, and someone like Crispin Glover narrating (not that I mind Isabella Rossellini). Read More

Bonneville (2006, Christopher N. Rowley)

Categories: 2006 and Movies.

This film is absolutely not for me but I’m glad that such movies exist. This film takes the evil step mother of so many Hollywood films and imagines the loss of the father from her perspective instead, and it feels like that’s been a long time coming. Combine that with a road movie and you have an interesting idea, even if it’s geared at a different gender and age than I am. Read More

Black Snake Moan (2006, Craig Brewer)

Categories: 2006 and Movies.

This is a fascinating, provocative and, in its own way, uplifting film about The Blues and redemption. However, at it’s heart is a really strange idea about (really) tough love being necessary for some psychological problems (though it acknowledges the opposite is true as well) that I’m not 100% comfortable with. But that doesn’t mean the film isn’t worth watching, particularly given the strong performances by Jackson and Ricci and a strong supporting turn from Timberlake who, whatever you think of his music, must be admired for his willingness to take on risky films, especially this early in his career Read More

Elgar: Violin Concerto; Introduction and Allegro (1984, 2006)

Categories: 1984, 2006, and Music.

This disc is a reissue of a famous performance of the Elgar violin concerto with his Introduction and Allegro, presumably recorded at the same time. (I say presumably because it was not on the initial LP and I am listening to it from the library’s stream, and so I don’t have the liner notes to confirm if it was recorded at the same time. But it’s the same personnel.) I have heard the concerto before, but never the Introduction and Allegro. Read More

Jon-Rae and the River Knows What You Need (2006)

Categories: 2006 and Music.

At some level, it’s understandable why a certain section of Toronto’s (and Canada’s?) music critics lost their minds over this band back in 2006. There probably weren’t a lot of bands like this at the time, I suppose. And from listening to this record, I can imagine they are a good live band. I can imagine that, if you like energy in your shows above everything else, they are probably a great live band. But… Revivalism is revivalism and this band revives others’ music. They revive it very well, and the energy translates a lot better than you might have Read More

From Fear to Eternity: The Best of 1990-2010 (2011) by Iron Maiden

Categories: 1990, 1992, 1995, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2010, and 2011.

I accidentally picked this up thinking it was a compilation of their ’80s music. Ah well. I learned a couple of things from this record: First, Iron Maiden has a formula and they stuck to it (at least on the songs considered their “best”). Second, I should never get a live Iron Maiden album. It’s pretty clear from listening to this record that Maiden is just milking their sound for all its worth. Sure, some of these songs are pretty catchy and everything is very professional and competent, but so many of these songs follow the exact same formula. And Read More

Handel: Messiah (2006) by Freiburger Barockorchester, The Choir of Clare College conducted by Rene Jacobs featuring Kerstin Avemo, Patricia Bardon, Lawrence Zazzo, Kobie van Rensburg, Neal Davies

Categories: 1740s, 2006, and Music.

This is, by some accounts, the finest of the various available performances of Messiah. I have literally no idea if that’s true or not as I have only ever heard one other complete version and, moreover, I am not sure I yet at the stage where I can detect minute differences in orchestration (though my ears tell me there are some rather obvious differences between this and the other version I’ve heard so far). All I can say is that this is a deservedly famous piece of music performed quite well. I like a lot of Handel’s other music better, Read More

Come Clarity (2006) by In Flames

Categories: 2006 and Music.

Call me crazy, but of the two In Flames releases I’ve heard, I like this one more. It feels a little more varied than the other album of theirs that I’ve managed to listen to, and it feels like the band may have some (slight) versatility. This is still not my favourite stuff – the melodic vocals too often remind me of post grunge, for example – but I can appreciate their attempt to expand their boundaries (if only slightly) more than when it sounded like they were resting on their laurels. 7/10 Read More

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006, Scott Glosserman)

Categories: 2006 and Movies.

MILD SPOILERS This film begins as the horror movie equivalent to the classic 1992 Belgian black comedy Man Bites Dog. It’s literally the same concept: a documentary team follows a serial killer around. However, the additional conceit here is that the audience sees what the horror movie would look like, were one being made. Does that sound a little confused to you? Because it is. And that latter part is soon dropped, as the film becomes more of a conventional horror (comedy?) movie when Leslie Vernon and the documentary team have their falling out. There are a number of really Read More

The Departed (2006, Martin Scorsese)

Categories: 2006 and Movies.

Note: I haven’t seen the original film. Many years ago, I watched Scorsese’s remake of Cape Fear and hated it. I have no idea if that teenaged opinion is valid, but I think the experience scarred me for a long time, and so I avoided this remake. (Also, I didn’t like the previous two films he made.) But, if Hollywood is going to remake a film, this is probably how to do it. (Though I say this in ignorance.) Scorsese’s rather incredible skill as a director is fully on hand here, as he deftly handles the two competing stars and Read More

Away from Her (2006, Sarah Polley

Categories: 2006 and Movies.

This is a deeply moving film about Alzheimer’s, featuring excellent performances and an appropriate pace. It’s a note-perfect movie (except for the awful Neil Young cover over the closing credits) with one rather significant program: this is a film that focuses on the emotional devastation of the disease (for the relatives of the afflicted), but it pretty much ignores the other aspects, such as the inevitable physical issues. So it’s a bit of an idealized portrait. It’s still a very good movie, but it’s a little unrealistic. 8/10 Read More

Boys and Girls in America (2006) by The Hold Steady

Categories: 2006 and Music.

Springsteen’s influence hangs over much American 21st century indie rock. For many, this is good. For me, never a Springsteen fan, it is beyond annoying. This is among the most Springsteeny of Springsteen-American indie rock albums I have ever heard. Maybe it’s the most. It’s so unbelievably in his shadow that I feel like I am listening to a different album than everyone else. People think this albums is fantastic. (Do they also think it’s original? That’s another question for most of you, I guess.) Having just struggled through Born to Run, I find so many moments on this coming Read More

Hindemith: Ludas Tonalis; Suite 1922 (2006) by Boris Berezovsky

Categories: 1922, 1942, 2006, and Music.

This collects two of Hindemith’s solo piano works, the most famous ones and those that are usually considered “essential.” Ludas Tonalis is Hindemith’s attempt at a modern version of The Well Tempered Clavier. And though it is obviously not quite up to that standard, it’s still a noble attempt. This is far and away my favourite of his music so far. I have found his orchestral music to be rather conservative, but this piece manages to both honour tradition (obviously, if it’s a Bach homage/re-imagining) and push the way we think about music, albeit while remaining conventionally tonal. It’s quite Read More

Amazing Grace (2006, Michael Apted)

Categories: 2006 and Movies.

How like us white people to make a film commemorating the British abolition of the slave trade by focusing entirely on the efforts of a rich, white man. Yes, I understand that his efforts were important, and it’s not like slaves outside of Haiti were in a position to do much themselves, but this is such like us westerners to tell only one side of events. Anyway, this is a decent period piece, with very good performances (from a who’s who of British actors – this is quite a cast) and the typical British attention to period detail. There are Read More

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006, Jonathan Levine)

Categories: 2006 and Movies.

I watched the first 30-35 minutes of this maybe a year ago (in pieces) while someone else was watching it. I figured I should watch it all the way through, even given my reservations. My reservations were a few: I didn’t go to a school like this. I guess there were one or two girls as attractive as Amber Heard, but did the boys really behave this way around her? Maybe, I don’t think so. Not being cool, I didn’t go to parties or go to weekends away, but was everyone this sex obsessed? I mean, it wasn’t even this Read More

Blood Diamond (2006, Edward Zwick)

Categories: 2006 and Movies.

This is film feels like an attempt to cross an adventure movie with a war movie with a Hollywood message movie. At times it succeeds rather well but at other times it’s borderline terrible. The film suffers from the typical Hollywood problem when making movies about Africa, which is that it has to be seen through the eyes of white people. At least this time the white person is from there, though. DiCaprio is excellent and remains and not that likable throughout the movie (when another film would have made him progressively more likable). Honsou is also great in what Read More

Arrested Development (2003)

Categories: 2003 and TV.

I watched the initial run of this show years ago, when it initially aired. And not entirely in order, I don’t think. It’s been so long that I don’t know that I can do it justice in a review. It’s a classic comedy that managed to create its own style that I’m sure has been emulated in later shows, though I haven’t seen enough network comedies since to know. The fourth season is a little more hit and miss than the original, but the format is pretty neat and it has its moments. It’s not so weak that it ruins Read More

Adama Meshuga’at aka Sweet Mud (2006, Dror Shaul)

Categories: 2006 and Movies.

This is an affecting coming of age drama about what it was like to grow up on an Israeli Kibbutz in the seventies with a single mother. All the performances are strong and they help take the very loose narrative to a greater level of pathos. I can’t imagine what it would have been like living in one of these pseudo-utopian communities where, surprise surprise, people continue to be people and xenophobia (or, rather, the general disregard for the “other”) is allowed to run rampant. Well worth watching. 8/10 Read More

Solomon (1984, 2006) by Georg Friedrich Handel, performed by Watkinson, Argenta, Hendricks, Rolfe Johnson, Montverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, conducted by John Eliot Gardiner

Categories: 1984 and Music.

This is a pretty magnificent oratorio that might best be described by the word sumptuous. Though only a small part of it was semi-familiar to me before hearing it, I think this is probably the greatest thing of Handel’s I have encountered to date. It certainly feels much more musically complex than most of his other stuff, which has always struck me as being Baroque-light. I am a big fan of this and it is causing me to rethink his work. 9/10 Read More

The Sopranos (1999)

Categories: 1999 and TV.

The Sopranos has been seen by many many people at this point and so the fact that this review may include some mild spoilers should surprise no one. The Sopranos was the first massively successful American cable drama that aspired to levels of sophistication (and violence) only seen in movies. It was not the first sophisticated American TV drama, it wasn’t the first drama to bring movie-style violence to television. But it was the first one of these shows to be successful at this, the first runaway hit of these types of shows, and it established HBO’s “It’s not TV…” Read More

Why I Gave Up on Big Love (2006)

Categories: 2006 and TV.

I just finished the second season of Big Love, and I am giving up. I don’t need to watch the other three seasons. I’m not sure the people who made the show really knew what they wanted it to be. At the times the show seems to be an attempt at making a less profound, polygamist version of Six Feet Under, but at other times the show feels like a farcical dark comedy or dramedy. And the tone seems to swing wildly from episode to episode, or even within individual episodes. But the other issue is the excess of characters Read More

The Door, The Hat, The Chair, The Fact (2006) by Ben Goldberg

Categories: 2006 and Music.

I love klezmer jazz – perhaps a little too much – and whatever the stuff that I refer to as ‘post free’ actually is. And this has both. Goldberg has written a fine set of tunes with features for every member of his band and there are opportunities for some strong unison playing as well. I always like it when composers / bands strike this balance; the balance between solos and ensemble playing that I feel is essential to most (but not all) great jazz. Goldberg stands out as an excellent clarinetist, and a composer who both understands how jazz Read More

Your Movie Sucked (2006) by Roger Ebert

Categories: 2006, Books, and Non-Fiction.

I used to read Ebert a lot while he was still alive. It’s not that I necessarily agreed with him all the time – I find that he both overrates some well-made children’s movies, and falls into that typical critic’s cliche of thinking the values of his generation are universal (more on that in a second) – but rather that I appreciated his sense of film history. To anyone looking to really get into 20th century cinema, Ebert’s list of ‘The Great Movies’ would be a fine entry point. That being said, we should recognize that, though Ebert is probably Read More

The Complete New York Town Hall and Boston Symphony Hall Concerts (1947, 2006) by Louis Armstrong and his All Stars

Categories: 1947 and Music.

So this is box includes both the complete concerts of the title and some additional performances from around the same time, including a performance held before a movie premier for a movie Armstrong was starring in, and some other miscellaneous recordings Armstrong features on that don’t really feel apiece.On the one hand, these concerts – in particular the Town Hall concert – are seen as really important step for Armstrong: the first time he had played with a small group in a really long time. And though I am not yet familiar with his big band work, I can see Read More

Battlestar Galactica (2003-2009)

Categories: 2003 and TV.

Battlestar Galcctica, the reboot, is probably the greatest science fiction TV show of all time. (That obviously depends on what we mean by “science fiction”, as if I included the original Prisoner in that genre, maybe I would be forced to rethink my position. And no, no version of Star Trek has ever particularly impressed me.) It has the highest production values of any science fiction show to date, it has the most complex mythology outside of Star Trek, and its characters are not one-dimensional – in fact most of them are quite complex. At its very best, it was Read More