The Good, the Bad, and Daniel Day-Lewis

my latest cinematic exploits

In my never-ending quest to work for free, I caught two press screenings for Press+1: Whiteout and The Informant! One was fantastic and the other was terrible. I’ll leave you to guess which is which. It’s been nice. Seeing films. I haven’t seen anything else since, rented, theatrical or library-loan or anything. Actually – I lie. I borrowed St. Trinian’s from my parents last night. Decent. You have female anarchistic rebellion for the women in the audience; Emily Strange’s School Days for all the kids and goths; and sexy schoolgirls for the guys. Roommate Shannon made me watch Scorsese’s Gangs of New York with her. My review in a few short thoughts: lose Cameron Diaz, as I can’t think of any film that was actually improved by her presence; Daniel Day-Lewis was fantastic, but what I really saw was a character ripe with the mind-blowing awesomeness that would become Daniel Plainview; and, just like I said with Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, somewhere in there – somewhere over that muddy, top-hatted rainbow – was a good film.

‘Dirty King’? Yeah, it’s kinda like that.

Review below originally published at A’n’E Vibe

I spent about a week procrastinating and finding a million others things to do than write this review. (When I finally did it just now, it only took ten minutes.) I was supposed to have it done awhile ago. The album was out June 23. God damn it. Why do I say ‘yes’ to things so quickly? It always ends with me pissing someone off and feeling guilty and as full of shame like a doughnut is full of jelly. Horrible analogy, I know, but let me indulge: The shame, like that jelly, is so bad for it almost gives you cancer at first bite, yet so, so, so good. But no, it’s not good, is it? It’s quite sickly and very untrustworthy. YET WHY DO YOU GIVE INTO IT? Why do I do these things to myself?

I think the answer is I am far too spontaneous. Sometimes this is fun, most of the time this is fun. In fact, the pros would whip the cons in a Celebrity Death Match, but still, I get myself in trouble a lot. Spontaneity is what caused me to suddenly plan a four-month trip to Europe, and spontaneity is what got me through most of it.Yet Spontaneity is what made me realize the NIGHT BEFORE I flew to Paris that I hadn’t got my line of credit signed off. Spontaneity got me wandering drunk through a Bavarian forest at midnight (true story). Spontaneity even got me laid a few times. Okay, several times. I do regret about 78% of those, however. Kidding. Kidding…. sort of.

Spontaneity is also what made me apply for film school, and get in. Spontaneity got me my job right now. Spontaneity made me start a zine distro. Spontaneity made me jump of a bridge. Spontaneity made me say ‘yes’ to starting a film company, to starting a magazine, to end up living where I am. I make decisions at the drop of a hat. On the turn of a screw. On the flip of a coin. Usually, however, they are something that has been flitting through my mind for awhile, the way we consider all life’s possibilities in that near-dreamlike state, until something triggers them, giving me the opportunity. I usually pounce at it before I realize exactly the magnitude of what I’ve done.

Sure, I regret some things I’ve done. But they are all frivolous regrets. Nothing worth turning back the clock on. The only few serious regrets I have are all of inaction. Isn’t it better to regret things you’ve done rather than regret things you haven’t done? Especially, of course, if the thing you haven’t done is write that review on time.

THE CLIKS – DIRTY KING (2009) (Warner Music Canada)

I feel lucky enough to say that I picked up The Cliks’ Dirty King back in May when they opened for the New York Dolls at Richard’s on Richards in Vancouver. The third album by the Canadian band, Dirty King is a deeper, richer, more diverse effort, that shows the band, and especially songwriter Lucas Silveira’s true coming-of-age. While the band has received plenty of attention due to Silveira’s status as a transman, this might appear unjust, as it truly is the music that deserves to be heard.

It is far to easy to listen to the album with the theme of sexual identity running through one’s mind, but that would be selling it short. Musically, Silveira’s work treads emo water, especially on tracks like Career Suicide and We Are the Wolverines; treads, yet transcends. Other tracks, like the eponymous Dirty King and Henry are simply great rock songs. These ones pull you in. Slower, deeper efforts like Not Your Boy and Henry keep you there. The only song I found myself skipping when I had the CD on repeat was Love Gun, which isn’t really that bad, but I just couldn’t get over the inherent cheesiness of the title. Alas, nothing’s perfect.

Despite this, I found Dirty King to be one of those elusive, yet wonderful things. One of those albums where (almost) each track stands on its own, but the album as a whole is a powerful combination. Having to live up to the reputation of being compared to everyone from the likes of David Bowie to the White Stripes to Chrissy Hynde, The Cliks have a style that is at once unique and familiar. They fit well into the fabric of contemporary rock, not too “indie” sounding, not too bland, and thus should be able to find a wide audience with this decent release.

1. “Haunted”
2. “Dirty King”
3. “Not Your Boy”
4. “Red and Blue”
5. “Henry”
6. “Emily”
7. “Career Suicide”
8. “Love Gun”
9. “We Are the Wolverines”
10. “Falling Overboard”
11. “Animal Farm”

TV on the Radio in the Park

Originally Published at A’n’E Vibe

With their latest album, Dear Science, having been hailed as the best album of 2008 by a plethora of music giants (Rolling Stone, Spin, and MTV among them), the Brooklyn-based TV on the Radio brought their genre-defying act to Vancouver on Monday night. The eclectic, high-energy performance proved perfectly set within the Malkin Bowl at Stanley Park, complete with sea planes flying overhead, eagles circling, hippies, hipsters, and even small toddlers on their parents’ shoulders.

Continue reading “TV on the Radio in the Park”

Glasvegas at the Commodore Ballroom

Originally published at A’n’E Vibe

Sunday night’s Glasvegas show at the Commodore Ballroom is best likened to a first date with that person you’ve noticed several times on the bus and finally got the courage up to talk to. They were polite and sincere; just as grateful to be in your presence as you in theirs. My only disappointment was quickly their set seemed to end. They played their wee hearts out, sounding just like the album, lyrics as audible as ever (which is only marginally so, depending on your comprehension of Glaswegian). They jumped from song to song. One encore. No social commentary, no “hello, Vancouver,” no queries to the audience, just an incredibly paced show that was over before I knew it. Maybe they just know their strengths or maybe they just wanted to get it over with. Awkward nerves, perhaps?

Continue reading “Glasvegas at the Commodore Ballroom”

Nothing to Observe nor Report Here

Last night I caught a press screening of Observe and Report, the latest in an increasingly unfunny stream of Seth Rogen movies. I cracked a smile here and there, mostly at Anna Faris, who I think is actually ridiculously funny (see Just Friends). I do applaud films where solid, funny roles are created for women, except this isn’t one of them. She’s a sex object, and a crudely rendered one at that. Why, she’s nearly pixellated. Also, the film’s pacing is inconsistent, and best likened to myself in junior high gym class trying to get through the timed runs: violent bursts of sloppy, flailing speed followed by exasperated pain followed by casual strolling, over and over and over again.

Now, I like Seth Rogen. I think he’s funny, in a natural, relatable way. The problem with this film is he’s neither relatable nor hilarious. As Ronnie, he should be a lovable loser, but he’s just not lovable. Rogen’s almost too good at playing this nutjob. You want him to fail, and you feel a little (SPOILER ALERT) ripped off when he doesn’t. I don’t think I’ve as earnestly rooted for an unhappy ending since Titantic. Perhaps that’s an overstatement, and the film wasn’t terrible, it just wasn’t funny, either. In a week, I probably won’t even remember it.

Homechild at the Stanley

Taryn had tickets last night for the Arts Club’s Homechild, so she selected me to accompany her! All in all, the play was pretty good, with an amazing set. The perfomances, on the whole, were decent enough, slightly verging on sketch comedy personifications at times, with an overdrawn Scottish accent drifting in and out. Duncan Fraser, as aged homechild, Alistair, was a knockout. He was fantastic. If it weren’t for his tight, insular performance (only heightened after the character suffers a stroke), the rest of the ensemble would have bordered on farce.

As a script, Joan MacLeod’s play takes on the familiar trope of the uncomfortable unearthing of past family secrets and shadows and applies it to an aspect of Canadian history usually swept under the rug: home children. I must admit, I felt somewhat ashamed to find myself ignorant of this part of our history. Perhaps most home children found themselves out east, and thus there isn’t much history here in BC? I will definitely research it further.

While the conventions of the play did not seem overly original at first, I found that the ambition of the play lies in bringing history to light, rather than artistic innovation. With that in mind, the play is entertaining and accesible to any audience. It did not explicitly inform, but notified, urging you to find out more for yourself, much the same way Lorna must seek out Alistair’s long lost sister, Katie. Cliched, but worth it.