Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Half-ass Movie Preview: The Source Code

I adored the 2009 movie, Moon, by David Bowie's progeny, Duncan Jones (aka Zowie Bowie). It was a smart, well-written sci- fi movie with an excellent cast, and a design sense that favored old-school models to tech-crazy CGI.

I just don't understand how the same director could have made The Source Code. The trailer, at least, makes this look like a run-of-the-mill thriller with your regulation number of explosions and desperate embraces in the face of disaster, with a dash of mind-bending sci-fi thrown in to differentiate it from other run-of-the-mill thrillers. It seems to be getting good reviews (91 on Rotten Tomatoes, 75 on Metacritic), so maybe this is a case of misrepresentative trailers.

It is important to note that Jones did co-write Moon, and that it was an independent film that went through Sundance, SXSW, and the Tribeca film festivals. Source Code, on the other hand, smacks of big studio. The two movies don't share any cast or crew beyond Jones.

Maybe it's actually good. Maybe I'll actually see it. But it's not looking so good at the moment.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

RIP Leonard Weinglass

Lawyer Leonard Weinglass notably defended the Chicago 8, Mumia Abu Jamal, and Daniel Ellsberg. He will be missed. We need many more like him.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Imported From Detroit

As a Michigander with family roots in the auto industry - my grandfather was rank-and-file UAW who knew Walter Reuther and one of my uncles was a long-time Chrysler worker - I'm captivated by the new Chrysler "Imported from Detroit" ad campaign, which premiered during the Super Bowl.

I get sucked in every time I see the ad, even though I know I shouldn't. It strikes a perfect note of midwestern ethos - fierce pride in the face of a hardscrabble existence and a belief that the final product is all the better for its humble origins. Detroit native Eminem provides the soundtrack for the ad via his biographical song, "Lose Yourself," suggesting that, like himself, Detroit is in Recovery.

The ad is a fascinating combination of social history and pop culture, gospel and rap, blight and luxury, all effectively combined to reinforce a deluded belief in the "American Dream," convince people that the economic recovery is real, and promote consumerism. The ad is so compelling that I want to believe it, I want to buy in to its message. No worries: I have no desire to buy a Chrysler. But I do want to buy the ad's faux populist message. I can't even remember the last time I was so drawn in by an ad campaign.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Damn These Vampires

No, I'm not referring to the recent spate of vampire-themed movies, books, and tv shows. (Readers of this blog will know that I am in fact obsessed with said trend.) I'm referring instead to the excellent new single, on the soon-to-be-released album All Eternals Deck by The Mountain Goats. You can get a free download of "Damn These Vampires" here. I love way the lyrics and music combine to deliver a song that is at once witty and serious. When John Darnielle sings "God damn these vampires/for what they've done to me," he seems to be both recounting an apocalyptic western fantasy and delivering a damning statement on popular culture.

Bonus: Mountain Goats' frontman Darnielle recently posted a version of the classic "Power in a Union" in support of the current struggle in Wisconsin.

Power In A Union from JD on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

RIP Mike Starr

Alice in Chains bassist and, more recently, Celebrity Rehab participant. Another needless addiction death.

Friday, March 04, 2011


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