by Dave Thomas
Lucky Number Slevin
I don’t know which is more disturbing; that there is a fourth Scary Movie, or that it’s likely to be the month’s highest grosser. Since April begins on Saturday, this month’s new releases officially begin next Friday, but hey, this is a movie preview. If you’re itching to see a new release this week, you can check out the new Lynchian high school noir, Brick.
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Three grown men (David Spade, Rob Schneider, and Jon Heder, so I use the term loosely) take on a bunch of little league teams all by their lonesome.
WILL IT SUCK?
Well, you’ve got the director of Saving Silverman and the writers behind Grandma’s Boy up in here. Granted, that same director did Happy Gilmore, but did I mention Beverly Hills Ninja, National Security, and Problem Child? This is not a film festival you want to attend.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Fans of stupid comedy will have much more to rejoice about the following week, when Scary Movie 4 takes the stage. In the meantime, this will sate them, though I doubt Spade and Schneider combined will equal Heder’s draw. $49mil.
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
They are girlz. They are phat. And overweight.
WILL IT SUCK?
I have no idea. But what’s curious is the writer/director is newcomer Nnegest Likk√©, who is young, black, female, and not the slightest bit overweight. For shame. Seriously, though, how many young, black, female directors can you name? (Actually, even if I remove only one of those adjectives, I bet you’re still confined to one hand).
Also, if you like Mo’Nique, she’s one of the girlz in question, and Raven Goodwin, whom you might remember as the really cool kid from Station Agent (or, far more likely, from Everybody Hates Chris) makes an appearance. Plus: Eric Roberts alert!
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
A little bit of demographic competition from Take the Lead, but it should have a core following of, well, phat girlz, or really anyone fed up with body image fascism. Not that any of that helped Real Women Have Curves make bank. $14mil.
TAKE THE LEAD
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Mad Hot Banderas
WILL IT SUCK?
Newcomer writer and director, though the director has done plenty of music videos which, in this case, is appropriate. The trailer, I have to admit, looks a lot better than it should.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
This probably has about as much star power as anything else opening wide this week. Still, I see it as an uphill battle. $26mil.
Archive for March, 2006
by Dave Thomas
Cat Power, who cancelled her tour early this year for alleged “health reasons,” has announced new tour dates. Frustratingly, she’s yet to announce any info about refunds for all of us dumb enough to buy tickets for her New York performances in Feb. Anyone have any info on this? (We truly hope she’s well, but given Chan Marshall’s track record for erratic behavior and bailing on shows, we are skeptical about her claims in February).
A big thanks to Kevin for manning the FREEwilly controls for the past three weeks. Without further ado, we’ll immediately lower the bar with a post about the upcoming Samuel Jackson film Snakes on a Plane. From Hollywood Reporter:
This month, New Line Cinema’s “Snakes on a Plane,” which wrapped principal photography in September in Vancouver, went back before the cameras for five days of additional shooting at the Lot in Los Angeles.
The second round of filming …. came about because of intense and growing fan interest in the movie…
“Snakes” stars Samuel L. Jackson as an FBI agent who has to fight a planeload of snakes unleashed by an assassin bent on killing a witness in protective custody. Sight unseen, the movie has grown from something of a joke into a phenomenon slithering untamed throughout the Internet.
It all started with the provocative and buzzworthy, if also reductive, title. New Line picked up the script in turnaround from Paramount Pictures in March 2003 — in the wake of Sept. 11, terror-on-a-plane movies had fallen out of favor. And even within New Line, there were skeptics who viewed “Snakes on a Plane” as nothing but a simple programr with a “stupid title.”
After Jackson came on board as the star, the title was upgraded to the more generic “Pacific Air Flight 121.” …
“Who wants to be in a movie called ‘Snakes on a Plane’?” asked one talent agent at the time, seeming to echo the studio’s concerns.
Movie fans… seized upon the title and started spontaneously creating fan sites, blogs, T-shirts, poems, fiction and songs. The title itself, sometimes abbreviated as “SoaP,” has emerged as Internet-speak for fatalistic sentiments that range from c’est la vie to “shit happens.”
Jackson publicly endorsed the move. “That’s the only reason I took the job: I read the title,” Jackson told entertainment site Collider.com. He added, “You either want to see that, or you don’t.”
New Line execs, concerned that it is too early to discuss the movie, declined comment. But sources now insist the studio never abandoned the “Snakes” title in the first place and that “Pacific Air” was just an internal working title.
In any event, “Snakes”-ophiles already were hard at work. Chris Rohan of Bethesda, Md., created an elaborate, R-rated audio trailer that lovingly mocks the title and movie. “It’s a genius title,” Rohan said. “It’s so stupid it’s great. It invites satire, but it’s something you just love. It’s something I can’t explain. You either get it or you don’t.”
The audio bit uses a Jackson sound-alike shouting, “I want these motherfucking snakes off the motherfucking plane!” Soon, the growing legion of fans added their voices as they demanded that that phrase also appear in the movie.
Apparently, the studio got the hint. When Ellis assembled Jackson and others for the recent shoot, the filmmakers added more gore, more death, more nudity, more snakes and more death scenes. And they shot a scene where Jackson does utter the line that fans have demanded.
Those involved with the film said the reshoots weren’t prompted by fans but rather by the existing footage that already was a hairline into R territory. Within the studio, the thinking was, “We’re already going to get an R, why not go all the way?” But the filmmakers do concede that the Jackson line will be in the movie for the sake of the fans.
by Kevin K.
Topped with one of the most gorgeous CD covers to come around in years, o’death’s Head Home kicks off with the righteous growl-stomp of ‚”Down to Rest” and continues to plow through fourteen more roots-infused beauts until you find yourself shocked and saddened that your trip through ‚”Gas Can Row,” the last track, has ended. Compared erroneously to Tom Waits (except for a few percussive and guttural moments) in a few music blogs, o’death is really more Will Oldham meets the Holy Modal Rounders with a splash of the drunken sprawl of the Pogues and the youthful energy of early Violent Femmes—the association is unavoidable on ‚”Nathaniel” —tacked on for good measure. A lot of the material on Head Home consists of knee-slapping, banjo-and-fiddle fueled stomps that throw sparks in every direction imaginable, but the haunting ballads really shine, too. So often current alt-roots/country music tends to slide into the abyss of mediocrity, assuming that a slide guitar run or a few plunks of a banjo can cure just about any ill, but this NYC six-piece knows full well how to kick that shit in the ass (maybe breaking a bottle or two over its head on the way) and breathe life into a genre that’s often seen slow-choking under a cardboard apple tree. Yee fucking haw! O’death done good. Real damn good.
You can purchase Head Home (and sample a few tracks) at o’death’s MySpace site. (Also available at CD Baby) Upcoming local gigs listed here.
In the biggest campaign fund-raiser yet on behalf of State Senator Thomas H. Kean Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney traveled to New Jersey on Monday and praised Mr. Kean as someone with “the experience, the values and the vision to be a superb United States senator.”
But there was one problem: Mr. Kean was a no-show.
Actually, Mr. Kean did show up at the event, which was held at the offices of the IDT Corporation in downtown Newark. But he did not make it until 6:15, roughly 15 minutes after Mr. Cheney’s motorcade had left.
So what should have been a routine political story about a successful fund-raiser, netting close to $400,000, became one in which Mr. Kean was asked repeatedly whether he had deliberately avoided being photographed with the vice president, who is deeply unpopular in New Jersey.
Mr. Kean’s spokeswoman, Jill Hazelbaker, said: “There was no concerted effort. It was two ships passing in the night.”
For his part, Mr. Kean said he had been in Trenton all day, voting on important bills, because “I would not miss votes in order to make a political event.” As soon as the Senate wrapped up, around 4 p.m., he traveled north “as quickly as I could.” But instead of taking the New Jersey Turnpike, like any regular commuter between Trenton and Newark, he and his driver chose Route 1, which is usually crawling with bumper-to-bumper traffic at that hour.
Mr. Kean said he did so because there were delays on the Turnpike in the morning. But at 6 p.m., there were no reported delays between Exit 7A, not far from Trenton, and the George Washington Bridge, according to the Turnpike’s Web site.
And Anton Peters, an executive producer at Shadow Traffic, said that Route 1 was relatively trouble-free on Monday afternoon, with the only significant problem a northbound accident near Linden that was cleared up by 2 p.m. “If he was going north, it wouldn’t have affected him,” Mr. Peters said.
In any event, by the time he arrived in Newark, Mr. Kean said, “I ended up running down the street” to make the event.
Kean later clarified that he wasn’t driving a car to the fund-raiser but “one of those Flintstone-type vehicles you propel with your feet” and that he was actually running down the street “blind-folded and in a potato sack.”
by John Rickman
Noise rock is a genre that’s easy to identify but difficult to describe. Punk-inspired but cryptic in presentation and heavy on abstraction, its practitioners clearly operate in uncharted territory. The ruckus that’s all the rage is also largely a northeastern phenomenon as exemplified by popular purveyors Black Dice, Lightning Bolt, Magik Markers, and Excepter. While vastly influential, the left coast is still the best coast for unearthing the most interesting in neo no-wave noise rock.
Just recently, three of my favorite noise rock bands released amazing new full-lengths practically simultaneously.
Mouthus – The Long Salt
On “The Long Salt,” Brooklyn duo Mouthus swings for the fence with a particularly painful new compendium of distorted disturbances. The guitarist’s feedback attack, which predominates the proceedings, is unrelentingly torturous but also strangely narcotic. The rhythm section pops away like an orchestra of nail guns, transforming the wall of sound into a metal shop soundtrack that crosses over into good, old-fashioned industrial music territory on a couple of occasions.
Mouthus come across more like medicine men then musicians the way their signature, strangled moaning haunts every song from within. Their unique uproar defies convention and is only marginally translatable as music. The rhythms make you want to move, but not to any step that’s recognizable, and the grief-ridden wailing penetrates the soul, but disturbs the mind. Not your parent’s magic carpet ride.
Sightings – End Times
“End Times,” the new full-length by Brooklyn trio Sightings, is a sound spectacle of fright. Their music violently disrupts the air and lashes out menacingly, arousing one’s defenses. The three-piece are presented through the prism of a muffled, in-the-red recording, establishing an aura of dominance and advantage over the listener. It’s a wry move that complements the physicality of their art form and compounds the difficulty in discerning where composition and improvisation diverge within their music.
Mark Morgan slices away at his guitar, cutting razor sharp spikes of sound from it. His maniacal vocalizing expresses a range of reactionary emotion from dread and depression to rage and horror, eliciting nervous laughter from this listener. The bass and drums, also in an unbounded state of excitement, transform the proceedings into a full-fledged, frenzied shit fit. On the last track, the instrumental “Slow Boat,” the band sounds consumed by its own psychic energy and aggression, perhaps reflecting the fact that on this occasion they’ve really outdone themselves.
Mindflayer – Expedition to the Hairier Peaks
The new Mindflayer full-length is another bag of hammers altogether. The duo, which originally hails from Providence, RI, consists of Lightning Bolt drummer Brian Chippendale and Forcefield knob-twiddler Matt Brinkman. This is the unit that puts the noise in noise rock. Chippendale, a rhythmic whirlwind on the drums, creates a monolithic din all by himself, and Brinkman’s deep, low-end electronic rumbling swirls the supercharged sounds into thick, cacophonous stew.
This new Mindflayer full-length is denser than usual, contains few vocal outbursts, and features epic-length tracks. If you have the constitution to survive the 11-minute opener, “Rally for a Wind War,” you’ve got what it takes to see the expedition through to the end. This is anti-music that satisfies on a purely gut level.
As the Iraqi insurgency intensified in early 2004, an elite Special Operations forces unit converted one of Saddam Hussein’s former military bases near Baghdad into a top-secret detention center. There, American soldiers made one of the former Iraqi government’s torture chambers into their own interrogation cell. They named it the Black Room.
In the windowless, jet-black garage-size room, some soldiers beat prisoners with rifle butts, yelled and spit in their faces and, in a nearby area, used detainees for target practice in a game of jailer paintball. Their intention was to extract information to help hunt down Iraq’s most-wanted terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, according to Defense Department personnel who served with the unit or were briefed on its operations.
The Black Room was part of a temporary detention site at Camp Nama, the secret headquarters of a shadowy military unit known as Task Force 6-26. Located at Baghdad International Airport, the camp was the first stop for many insurgents on their way to the Abu Ghraib prison a few miles away.
Placards posted by soldiers at the detention area advised, “NO BLOOD, NO FOUL.” The slogan, as one Defense Department official explained, reflected an adage adopted by Task Force 6-26: “If you don’t make them bleed, they can’t prosecute for it.” According to Pentagon specialists who worked with the unit, prisoners at Camp Nama often disappeared into a detention black hole, barred from access to lawyers or relatives, and confined for weeks without charges. “The reality is, there were no rules there,” another Pentagon official said.
Despite the task force’s access to a wide range of intelligence, its raids were often dry holes, yielding little if any intelligence and alienating ordinary Iraqis, Defense Department personnel said. Prisoners deemed no threat to American troops were often driven deep into the Iraqi desert at night and released, sometimes given $100 or more in American money for their trouble.
Back at Camp Nama, the task force leaders established a ritual for departing personnel who did a good job, Pentagon officials said. The commanders presented them with two unusual mementos: a detainee hood and a souvenir piece of tile from the medical screening room that once held Mr. Hussein.
We are a nation that tortures people.
It just rolls of the tongue, doesn’t it?