Saturday, August 26, 2006

Days Change, Seasons Change, People Don't Change

16 Blocks

Nothing says it’s going to be a poor movie week at the McGavin house than seeing ’ (Moonlighting) mug on the DVD. For the last couple years, Willis has just been collecting paycheck while new action heroes half his age not only steal the roles he used to be offered but they even started to steal his women. But in this movie, 16 Block, Willis ironically plays a worn down detective for the NYPD who gave up a while ago and years of hard living has wrecked havoc on his life and left him with a limp and a massively receding hairline. Maybe because of tenure, or out of sympathy, he has been able to keep his job even though everyone know he keeps liquor bottles in his desk. He is also routinely assigned to jobs so easy, it’s an insult to give to an able-bodied colleague like watching a dead body until other authorities come to dispose of it.

Another seamlessly inane chore is to deliver a witness from lockup to the courthouse sixteen blocks away. Needless to say things don’t go as planned or this would have been the most boring movie since . Nope, instead we have another story of cops gone bad but luckily, this is revealed early on because crooked cop as the big plot twist has become a tired plot point (keep in mind the actual plot twist isn’t hard to guess). And in what could be a nod to , the movie seems to happen in real time aside from a brief prologue as Willis only has about 140 minutes to get the felon to the courthouse as the jury gets dismissed at 10:00.

The felon turned state’s evidence is portrayed by rapper (Black Head of CIA on Chappelle’s Show) is captivating once you get past his "Mike Tyson trying to imitate an Italian" lisp. Added to the great performance is how Mos Def’s character never stops talking, but Def is able to keep him from getting extremely annoying. You also have to give it up to Willis and Def, along with director (Superman), who keep the unlikely duo from becoming a cinema buddy flick cliché like for instance 48 Hours Donner’s Lethal Weapon franchise. And with any movie like this you need a bad guy and plays this one perfectly as he never goes over the top most likely because he never seems as if he thinks Willis will ever make it to the courthouse. There are a few plot holes (like why is one of the cops Def fingered still on the force, shouldn’t he be in jail or at least suspended until the result of the trial?) but as long as you let these minor hiccups go, you should be thoroughly entertained.

After you watch the movie, make sure you checkout the bonus features on the DVD. There are a few deleted scenes that are commented on by Donner and screenwriter Richard Wenk that are worth watching even though they were left on the cutting room floor. Then there is an alternative ending that is actually better from a storytelling point of view, although the original ending is more satisfying. You can watch the alternative ending by itself or within the context of the movie.

16 Blocks gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Friday, August 25, 2006

I Hear Them Screaming on the Radio

On the Outside - Starsailor

broke out in England and had massive success earlier this decade right around the same time as another melodic band from that country, . But unlike Chris Martin and the boys, Starsailor’s debut single stateside, Good Souls, failed to get as much play as Yellow and their follow up Silence Is Easy wise widely ignored here two years ago as another similar band gain notoriety with Somewhere Only We Know. Now Starsailor is back to see if the third time is truly the charm with the release of .

On the new album the band takes a decided harder sound, but instead of the crunching guitars or piano that Coldplay in known for, Starsailor instead assaults you with a wall of noise. Not coincidentally the inventor of the Wall of Sound, Phil Spector helmed their previous two albums, but wasn’t around for this one. Instead the disk was produced by Rob Schnaph who has worked with the like of and Elliot Smith. The one-two punch of In the Crossfire and Counterfeit Life come out you full force while lead singer James Welsh is found screaming at times which only builds the effect even more and isn’t afraid to reach for notes throughout the album. The emotion in the music and the singing never lets down on the whole album which could be attributed to the record being record live in the studio.

But it’s not all a melodic wall of noise, I Don’t Know is a straight ahead rocker filtered through American blues that is reminiscent to mid-eighties . Get out While You Can goes from a haunting acoustic guitar and piano verse to a more melodic chorus and back again. Jeremiah is a slow moving acoustic song with a lyric, “And every time I see the sun go down I think of you,” that can easily get stick in your head and is a great way to cap off the album (bonus track excluded). Speaking of the bonus track, Empty Streets, it is the closest song on the album that has the same melodic feel as previous works such as Good Souls.

There is anger in the lyrics that coincide with the harder sound whether it’s love, “See that poor girl with the glint in her eye, she could turn you that way” (I Don’t Know), political, “I don't see myself when I look at the flag. Thank God for that” (In the Crossfire), globalization, “A war for corporate glory re-told as a fairy story” (Counterfeit Life), and life itself, “Tired of living in this modern land, too many ideals to meet with its demands” (Faith Love Hope). On the Outside may be a step backwards in trying to get commercial success stateside, but it is a step in making better music.

Song to Download - In the Crossfire

On the Outside gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

We on Award Tour: 2006 VMA Predictions

We are a week away from the 2006 MTV Music Awards and I have to say that I’m actually excited. Yeah the last two installments suck and many of the performers are frontrunners for my “Worst of 2006” list, but I still have a sense of optimism. First is that the show was routinely panned by everyone the last two years while exiled in Miami, you know something big will go down as the show goes back home to New York City, hopefully that surprise isn’t as big of a let down as the comeback three years ago. Second is that the first time since the last time , MTV has tapped a host that will actually be entertaining in Jack Black who did a great job co-hosting the Movie Awards a couple years back and hopefully this year’s monologue is heavy.

When I first reported the nominees to the VMA’s oddly enough the only category you couldn’t vote on was the Viewer’s Choice Award, but that is now up including a cool game where you can get extra points for the video of your choosing, so hear over to for that. I also wonder in that post what happened to the MTV2 Award. Apparently that are indeed doing that again and you can go over to to cast your vote, but a look at the nominees, you may just want to abstain. Personally, I voted for the award much like I’ve voted for president lately going with the one that sucked the least (for those keeping track at home, that would be Taking Back Sunday) but here are the nominees:

Stay Fly - Three 6 Mafia
The Kill - 30 Seconds to Mars
Fireman - Lil’ Wayne
MakeDamnSure - Taking Back Sunday
It's Goin' Down - Yung Joc

Also since my original post, the performers and presenters list have grown. Set to hand out the Moonmen are and (hopefully together so they can just get that out of the way), Jennifer Lopez (crap, she’s still around), and (aren’t these the same person, I can’t tell them apart), , , , (well unless he’s in jail at the time), Lil Jon, Amy Lee of , Jared Leto of 30 Seconds to Mars (actually I think people would more recognize the name is they said “of My So Called Life” instead), the cast of Jackass: Number Two (crap, their still around, who would have though out of all of them, Don Vito would be the only one currently in jail) and Shaun White. Joining this group is these artist jjust announced today including , , Diddy, , and (again hopefully together, seeing them catfight may be the only why I can stomach them), , and Axl Rose (seriously?). Then there are performers who I’ll predict what they will be performing (I am under the impression that are the house band as that is what they were originally booked as, but recently they have been listed under performers so who knows):

: This should be interesting because, as my sources tell me, she already debut her new single on the BET Awards so I’m betting she shows off her new all-female band with a medley of songs of her yet to be released album while everyone is at home is bored because they don’t recognize the song. It may be saved as the performance screams surprise guest, and I’m not talking Jay-Z.

: Speaking of yet to be released album, it’s a lock that JT will lip-syncing the cheesily named SexyBack with Big Head Timbaland doing his part. Much like when he debut the uer-horrible Like I Love You a couple years back no guest appearance can save this stinkfest, even a dude on dude kiss from Lance Bass.

: Since no other man was performed at the Movie Awards, the safe bet is that she will perform the new single Candyman next week. With the 50’s feel (in fact it blatantly steals from a song from that era I’m too lazy to look up) I wouldn’t be surprised if the turn the screen to black and white throughout the performance.

: Since I’m not a fourteen year old white girl, I could care less but most likely will be the song that got all the nominations.

: Since I’m not a fourteen year old white girl, I could care less but will most likely be the song where he steals a line from (didn’t he make his career stealing a line from Jay-Z?).

: With there album not out yet, the new single, When You Were Young will get the nod. With Brandon Flowers talking about all the influences on the new album, will The Boss pull another Wallflowers?

: Yet another performer whose album has yet to be released, but since the Neptunes produced his new song, it will be that.

: Odd choice here as they really don’t have the stature of the other bands something big maybe brewing here with a guest coming onstage with them. I believe the guitarist has tattoos all of his body of band logos from various inspirations and they did do the VH1 Rock Honors performing Def Leppard’s Photograph. I don’t understand how lead nominees aren’t on the performers list, maybe they will jump onstage here and recreate their Give it Away performance from the early nineties.

: Not only will they be battling for Video of the Year crown, Shakira will most likely try to have more weird performers than P!@TD (is that the right shorthand for the band, and by asking, I just defeated the purpose of the shorthand, but anyway) as she tries to recreate the Carnival theme of Hips Don’t Lie.

: Just announce the internet phenomenon will be taking the VMA stage. Just like the performance from last year, this performance will disturbing and be thoroughly entertainment at the same time. This maybe the only band that can get away with lip-syncing as long as they are doing some silly dancing, but I have a feeling they will be playing while others will be performing their treadmill opera but times ten.

You can check out the whole list of nominees from my original post - We on Award Tour: 2006 MTV Video Music Awards Nominations and you can also check out my list of best VMA performances I did last year which would most likely be unchanged - Best of the VMA Performances. And you can watch the VMA’s August 29 at 8:00, with the pre-show at 6:30.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Musings From the Back 9: Music Edition

There are a few albums that have been released lately but I either didn’t have time to give them their own post or the album didn’t inspire me enough to fill up a whole post. I’ve compiled some of those albums into one review. With the fall television season approaching leading to more posts on that leaving less for album reviews and music companies releasing more and more notable albums in time for the holiday season, this may become a new segment on the 9th Green.

This may shock my fellow fans of old school hip-hop but I never really cared for . Yeah there a few songs in their decade plus repertoire like Player’s Ball or Ms. Jackson but for the most part, the duo was a little too weird for me and I just never got their beats like on Elevators (Me and You). What’s interesting about their latest album, , is how most of the album was recorded with only one of the members present. I though that the solo double album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below was just going to be a one time thing. But anyway. The album itself is basically a soundtrack to a film of the same name which itself is a movie set in prohibition which leads to half of the album having a retro feel heavy on pianos and acoustic guitars which are more entertaining then the other half that feature classic OutKast odd beats that they are known for. Hollywood Divorse combines both to great effect and even features both Andre 3000 and Big Boi as well as a standout verse by and a less than stellar one from . The big problem with the album is it is like listening to the soundtrack to a musical you have never seen in that you are left thinking you need to see the movie to full appreciate the album.

Idlewild gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my Terror Alert Scale.

One reason why I had no reason to give the self-titled debut of is because it seemed like I just reviewed a couple a weeks ago when Cassie (see my review - It's Not that Deep) released her self-titled debut not so ironically on the same record label Bad Boy. The same over-production over the same paint-by-number lyrics are present. The main different is where Cassie seemed to be on anti-depressants while she sings, the five members of Danity Kane spend the album trying to out each other. And there in lies the problems of vocal groups since the explosion of the boy bands, they are filled with five lead singers singing melody with no one willing to sing the harmony like in groups from the Motown era. Another thing going against Danity Kane is that they were formed out of a reality show, a cable one at that and with the exclusion of , no reality act has been able sustain a career after the cameras stop rolling. Speaking of the reality show they spanned from, Making the Band 3, like most MTV reality shows I tried to avoid it, but one scene I did catch was when Diddy chastised the girls for acting like black dudes, something I totally agree with because there is nothing more annoying than white chick acting black, but fast forward to their first single Showstopper and the song is all about riding on “22’s” and acting “like big boys do.” I guess it’s okay to act black if it sell records.

Danity Kane gets a Terror Alert Level: Low [GREEN] on my Terror Alert Scale.

and his half singing half spoken word delivery is the ultimate combination of R&B and rap music. His latest album (named after his son) leaves right off where his debut left off. That album chronicled his release from prison and his assimilation back into society. Now on the new album he goes on to sing about life since the first one’s release including the un-hip-hop anti-groupie stance on S.E.X. Lyfe would be best served to stick to R&B themes because when he goes into rap it just comes off as silly like on Biggie N****a where he suggests he’s the reincarnation of or his restyling of ’s Keep Ya Head Up. What’s cool about this album, as well as his first is that Lyfe gives a running commentary between songs connection each one, although this could get old real quick.

The Phoenix gets a Terror Alert Level: Guarded [BLUE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Anyone with cable could watch and then wife as they started their life together on the MTV reality show Newlyweds. Then anyone with a US Magazine or an internet connection could read about it falling apart. And then could see the couple participate in a “who can hook up the most people” contest. Nick definitely won if you are counting in terms quantity (quality can be debated though). But if his album, was any indication, he still wasn’t quite over his reality show co-star. I did give it a listen when it was released and marveled at how sad the dude was. Every song was about how he couldn’t go on and they all just sounded the same blending into one uber-long excruciatingly long song.

What’s Left of Me gets a Terror Alert Level: Low [GREEN] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Two weeks ago MTV hyped that you could listen to the whole album a week before it’s release so I took advantage of that and started to get ready for a review last week when it dropped. Then while watching a special on they played some songs I hadn’t heard only to realize they only streamed the first disk of a double CD (unless I’m a complete moron and couldn’t figure out how to stream the second disk). So I scrapped the review, but here are some thoughts of the songs I heard. It’s odd that she started off the first disk (intro excluded) with Pray, featuring on keyboards, which only conjured up thoughts of the M.C. Hammer song of the same name. But don’t worry, all that praying doesn’t mean she doesn’t still have that nasty in her as she explains on Still Dirrty. Oh, Mother is touching, but nowhere as good as ’s ode to his mama. I was a little disappointed that most of the songs weren’t as retro as the title would suggest but then again I still prefer my Aguilera to sing about rubbing her the right way.

Since I didn’t hear the whole album, I won’t hand out a rating on the Terror Alert Scale unless I can hunt down the second disk, but since I’m mocked for having her first album, I don’t think that will happen. If you are interested in a review of both disks, check out Neverending Rainbow for a full review.

OutKastChristina Aguilera

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Since I’m Already Screwed Here’s a Message to You

Paris - Paris Hilton

Nobody can set a bar as low as not even the thought of Kevin Federline rapping had as low of expectations. Quite a marketing strategy actually because no how bad it is, it’s going to better than expected. And just that happened when her song Stars Are Blind “leaked” (yeah, much like her sex tape leaked) onto the internet. But saying the song was better than expected would be saying after meeting Osama bin Ladin saying, “You know, he was less evil than I thought he’d be.” Just because the song was a two on a scale of a hundred instead of one doesn’t make it a good song. Not to mention if I were Deborah Harry I’d sue and point to every review of the song as proof that it blatantly stole from The Tide Is High.

On the aptly titled (not as catch as One Night in Paris, but anyways) Paris’ singing is very akin to her speech patterns; very little inflection which could explain why her vocals are distorted or layered thought the album and there are time where I’m pretty sure the lead vocal isn’t her especially at the end of Turn it Up. It’s so deliberate and overdone even could make fun of Paris’ singing without anyone mentioning pots and kettles. Paris even tries at spoken word and cooing but and the result is laughable at best. In the chorus of one song she inexplicably turns “fight” into a two syllable word. Most of the songs are about how sexy she is with titles including Fightin’ Over Me, Turn You On (where she disturbingly says she’ll be our “liquid dream,” did she not learn from how creepy that phrase is) and the apparently ironic Screwed.

Then there is Jealousy which will obviously conjure up thoughts of Nicole Richie until you realize that would me that it was actually Paris who wrote the song. I’m just going to assume that she got writing credits for telling someone else things like, “write me a song about how evil Nicole,” or randomly dropping, “that’s hot,” into a song. I can’t image Paris would write the line in Not Leaving Without You, “Don’t ask me for my number because my number’s undercover,” when anyone with an internet connection can find her, and all her friends numbers there.

And for those who took the under for thirty second on how long it would take for Paris to say “That’s hot,” which also happens to be the most annoying catchphrase ever, on the album, time to call up you bookie because you won by twenty-five seconds. She also gives an early shout-out to her producer, Scott Storch three times in the first two songs, which is the most annoying innovation in music today, even more annoying than rappers who namedrop their label. Wait, I was wrong saying “That’s hot” is the most annoying catchphrase, no that title goes to guest rapper Morbidly Obese Joe (saying he's fat is the understatement of the decade) who for some reason has to say “Crack” every time he starts raping. He shows up on Fightin’ Over Me along with who I think wasn’t actually told that the verse for a Paris Hilton song as he doesn’t mention it or even raps about what the song is about.

Stealing is a big theme of this album. Aside from the previously mentioned Blondie rip-off (not to mention they obviously stole the idea for the Stars Are Blind video from ) there are plenty of other “influences” on the album. Heartbeat starts off just like Love at First Sight by and everything in-between sound like what would happen if someone was making an eighties movie but didn’t have enough money to license any songs from the era so they paid someone really cheap and the song is the result. Then there’s Nothing in this World which totally rips off 4Ever granted not as blatantly as did with her note for note grand larceny U + Ur Hand but there is something to be said about stealing from a song that someone already did a couple months earlier. Another “influence” you can find on the album is on Not Leaving Without You which has almost the exact same beat as I Need Love. The only legal theft sample is on I Want You which takes from the theme to (which my sources tell me is the word).

The album comes to a conclusion with I believe another reviewer called a sign of the apocalypse, and really I can’t think of a better comparison, when Paris tries sing Rod Stewart’s Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? In a word: No. I have reviewed a bunch of bad albums in the past but Paris is so bad I had to invent a new level to my Terror Alert Scale - TA:Black.

Song to Download - Are You Kidding?

Paris gets a [TA: Black] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Paris Hilton on iTunes

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Shat Hit the Fan

The man of the hour, William ShatnerThere is nothing more entertaining than a good roast basically because it is much more fun making fun of someone to their face then behind their back. A couple years back Comedy Central brought back the long and hollowed tradition but has sunk recently with roasts of non comedians like Hugh Hefner and last years lowest of the low Pamela Anderson-Lee-Rock where they hauled out unknown comic after unknown comic who would have every third word censored and half of the remaining word probable would have been censored also had it not been late night on basic cable. This year they tried to go back to a more dignified roastee with Emmy award winning William Shatner.

It usually not a good sign when the first bit of the night, but Leonard Nimoy’s refusal to appear at the roast was hilarious but I’m surprised only one roaster called Nimoy out for not showing (and with all the Jews onstage there was only two Mel Gibson jabs). But a few of Shatner’s Star Trek brethren showed up including the black chick and the Asian dude who recently came out of the closet. I was going to make a running joke on who received the more gay homosexual jokes between Sulu and Andy Dick but there were so many I lost track before the first commercial break.

The roastmaster for the night was Jason Alexander of Listen Up fame and as one roaster said it was nice to here him being funny again aside from reruns. The roasters were bookend by Greg Geraldo and Lisa Lampanelli, who were both leftovers from the Pam Anderson one last year and both showed why were haven’t heard anything from them in-between. They must have something on a higher up at Comedy Central to keep getting involved even though they have no connection to the roastees. They showed many Star Trek alumni, co-workers from Boston Public, and even the other dude from T.J. Hooker in the crowd. It would have been a lot more entertain had they just gotten a writer to help them out with a roast and had them deliver.

Yep, Sulu is definately a gay homosexualAnd it was those closest to Shatner who gave the best roast with Sulu and Betty White both suggesting they have recently had sex with the man of the evening although both disturbingly made nut jokes. Plus you could tell Shatner liked (or hated depending how you look at) Sulu’s roast the most as he gave the same token laugh for everyone else to the point the I think he only laughed once and they just showed that again and again, but for Sulu he actually changed his expression for the only time last night.

Another stand out roaster was Patton Owsalt, who even though wasn’t a friend of Billy, his uber-geek made his roast entertaining nonetheless. Then there was the train wreck that is Farrah Fawcett who rightfully got plenty of Courtney Love comparisons who continually fumbled through her roast. It great that even though there were plenty of obvious edits throughout the show that they didn’t chop Farrah as she tried unsuccessfully three times to tell a joke. To add to the creepy, Clint Howard (Ron’s brother) reprised his role as an evil kid from a Star Trek episode. Must be seen for you to believed.

But as always the roastee got the last laugh with Shatner ripping into everyone there and even chided them for not making the easiest joke about him being a cheap Jew for having Scottie wait until after 7:00 to beam him up when charges are lower. Much like the first scene, it isn’t a good sign when the non-comedian roastee gives the best line. Since it is cable, I’m sure you can catch the repeat of the roast of William Shatner throughout the week and you can also catch uncensored bits and red carpet moments on it’s broadband channel Motherload.

In a bit of programming news, I must inform the readers of the 9th Green that tomorrow there will be a review up of the new Paris Hilton album. You have been warned.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

It’s Gonna Take a Stick of Dynamite to get Me Out of My Parents House

Failure to Launch

Not too long ago, there was an article I read in about a larger amount of twenty and thirty year olds moving back in with their parents due to growing cost of living, high college payments that they can’t payoff with their entry level job. Holleywood never one not to jump on trends promptly made a movie out of the movement and even named it after the phenomenon, Failure to Launch. But it’s hard as the general public to laugh at someone on the wrong side of thirty when that role goes to (Dazed and Confused) coming off People’s declaration as World’s Sexiest Man.

But unlike the reasons I stated above Matthew’s character instead stays at home because he likes it there; his mom still does his laundry, cooks him breakfast and dinner (and even packs his lunch), and cleans his room. It even seems that he doesn’t even help out with lawn care as dad is the one who cuts the lawn; I’m just hoping dude at least pays some sort of rent. In his spare time he even hangs out with his friends, (Alias) and (Gigli), who also still live at home but unlike Matthew actually make excuses to why. McConaughey is so lazy, he doesn’t even break up with his girlfriend, instead opts to take them home to “bump” into his parents making them bolt.

The story picks up when mom and pop, (The Waterboy) and Terry Bradshaw (Pittsburg Steelers), thinks it’s time for their boy to fly the coop so they bring in a professional, (Square Pegs), who’s job is it to get cozy with a boy, build up his self esteem to the point where he’s confident to move out. She pulls out all the romantic comedy stops in hopes of getting closer, but once he finds out what she and her parents are up to, even more hilarity is supposed to ensue but instead comes off like disturbingly enough just like McConaughey last foray into the romantic comedy genre, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.

And it gets worse than you already think, this may be a spoiler, but it’s something you definitely want to know if you actually decide to see the movie, Bradshaw gets naked. And the scene doesn’t cleverly hide his backside like Austin Powers; you get to see an old dude’s butt. How the movie still got a PG-13 rating after that is beyond me. The lone saving point is Parker’s moody roommate, played by (The New Guy), whose I’m only happy when it rains outlook is the only thing that is worth laughing at in the movie.

Failure to Launch gets a Terror Alert Level: Guarded [BLUE] on my Terror Alert Scale.