Category Archives: Reviews
We traditionally have a post about the best of the past year in music or movies or television (or all three), so I thought I’d get us started on talking about 2012 by giving my list of the top contenders in each category. Read the rest of this entry
The first thing that is immediately obvious about the new Bond movie is that it is not a sequel. I guess maybe this should not be a surprise, given that most Bond movies have always stood on their own, but after Quantum of Solace picked up where Casino Royale left off, you might be excused for believing that story line would continue into this movie as well. But no. The second thing that becomes immediately obvious is that this is a very different Bond from any we have seen before. Read the rest of this entry
The Lower Lights is a group of amazing musicians and performers who have taken it upon themselves to rework church music in a style that is newer and somewhat less, well, churchy and starchy than you may be used to. The style of their albums is folky and bluegrassy, yet still spiritual and perhaps even more meaningful than the original arrangement, at least to some. We’ve talked about them before, when their first album came out. I’m happy to let you know that their second volume of hymns came out last month, and even happier to tell you that it’s even better than volume 1 (which is saying something). Read the rest of this entry
I like Dr. Seuss books. I enjoy reading them to my kids, so going to see The Lorax with my son Max was a fun way to spend a Saturday morning, especially for him. The visual effects are, as we take for granted now with animated and especially 3D movies, stunning. I have no doubt that Dr. Seuss would have been thrilled. The film is true to his visual style and to the spirit of the book. Children will like The Lorax, it is pretty, it moves fast and has lots of cute songs and a semblance of plot.
Despite the visuals, on the whole I was underwhelmed. I realize most movies come laden with a moral or social agenda, but unless it’s a documentary, it doesn’t make it better to have the “message” hold you against a wall with its fingers up your nose holes for the entire two hours. The Lorax hits you hard and fast from beginning to end with the messages that A. the Earth would be better off without people and B. corporations kill trees and harm small animals.
So yes, the guilt trip is a little disappointing. If you think about it though, most of Dr. Seuss’s books are pretty preachy. The Cat in the Hat–be good when mom’s out. The Grinch–don’t be stingy at Christmas. Green Eggs and Ham–try new food, etc. Taken in that context, The Lorax is par for course and rather than complaining I should just be glad that all the pretty pictures and fun songs make a great sugar coating for the sermonizing.
I also really appreciate the fact that The Lorax doesn’t seem to be affected by the Shrekification of animated films. It wasn’t tarnished by a single body humor joke. That said, after an hour or so with hardly a chuckle, I was kind of yearning for a good loud fart to liven things up. Rather than Shrek, The Lorax takes its queues from Tom and Jerry. Fuzzy creatures are flung mercilessly in all three dimensions at every turn in the name of humor. I’m sorry, but after movies like The Incredibles and Rango, there’s just no excuse for relying on such wanton violence to our furry friends in the name of a cheap laugh. It’s cruel and it’s just not that funny.
Still, the Lorax isn’t a total miss for adults. There are a few tender moments, some very creative animation, good music, an opportunity to spend some time with your kids and maybe even a chance to teach them that “Unless” they do their part the trees will all disappear and the Earth will be overtaken by corporate overlords in blimps.
We haven’t yet done our usual year end “best of” list for music or movies or TV of 2011, so I thought I’d do a combined list to kick off a discussion of all these categories. I’m a big fan of Metacritic, so, along with giving my own biased opinions, I’ll reprint some of their year-end lists here. Read the rest of this entry
Augustana is a band that evolves with every album, and their new self-titled album, out now, is no exception. We’ve talked about Augustana before here and here, and as previously noted, the band started out as straight-up pop-rock balladeers, but with their last album switched gears a bit into a bluegrass-influenced folk/americana sound. This new album continues in that path, while bringing along some of the pop hooks that brought the band fame to begin with. Read the rest of this entry
About a week ago someone mentioned the classic Beach Boys album “Pet Sounds” and I thought to myself: Oh yeah, I have been meaning to get my hands on a copy of that. So a few clicks and $9.50 later I had downloaded a copy.
I think I’ve listened to the entire album about 25 times since then. I just can’t get enough of the hypnoticky goodness of Pet Sounds.
Here are some interesting tidbits from the Pet Sounds wiki:
Pet Sounds is the eleventh studio album by the American rock band The Beach Boys, released May 16, 1966, on Capitol Records. It has been widely ranked as one of the most influential records ever released in popular music and has been ranked at number #1 in several music magazines’ lists of greatest albums of all time, including New Musical Express, The Times and Mojo Magazine. In 2003, it was ranked #2 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.
We are a good way into summer now. The days are long, the children are starting to say “I’m BORED!” and everyone is in need of some fun filled cognitive activities. Enter Ubongo, a game of quick puzzle solving.