Seeing less films these days and I'm re-reading a book I already reviewed and nobody responds to my book reviews anyway and the other book I read recently was about social anxiety so zzzzzzzzzzz.
Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story: Thanks, Pugmeat. I guess it was worth watching once, so I could tell people I watched a movie acted out by Barbie dolls. As is well known by anyone who's heard of this thing, Richard Carpenter comes across like a dick. The Barbie doll novelty wears off pretty quick, so 43 minutes of this, or whatever it is, is probably enough, and of course it's a VHS tape that I'm watching on Youtube so it looks like a fart taking a crap. COME BACK ALPHA HAMMER WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU WE NEED YOU. I don't know why I said that just now. I mean, I know WHY, but not why I said it NOW. Those Tres Leches Mexi-pancakes at IHOP are just freakin' pancakes, I didn't taste any three milks you goddamn corporate food dump. Oh who am I kidding it's not like I'm going to stop eating there! LOL, America!
Patriots Day: Competent if slightly messy. I only watched it once and compulsively at that. Mahhk Wahhhlbuuugh is playing a composite of several people as the cop hero and, oh who cares, no, he's just playing Maaahhk Wahhhlbugh again. The Tsarnaevs emerge as weirdly more interesting than any of the heroes, with Tamerlan portrayed as controlling and evil, but Dzhokhar, who actually did the bombing, is depicted as a nice kid. Later there's a total Hollywood movie explosionfest of a shootout between the Tsarnaevs and the police that I, uhm, didn't know about, to say the least, but I didn't really follow this story *that* much when it happened, so I also didn't know about that baseball player loudly using the word "f***" at a game when declaring #BostonStrong. Wanna know what the best scene in this movie is? It's when Tamerlan's wife (played by Supergirl) is being interrogated by Khandi Alexander who used to be on NewsRadio and she doesn't break her.
It: This handily beats the dreadful 1990 miniseries but that's setting a really low bar because Tim Curry was literally the only remotely good thing about that pile of crap. I enjoyed some of this, but mostly only for the 80s-movie nostalgia vibe, in particular the way it recalls Stand By Me, which I also don't like as much as I used to. (It also takes place in a Charlie Brown never-never land where there seem to be almost no adults, which is amusing.) Its tone is all over the place, though--the humorous bonding scenes, the horror scenes and the bullying scenes all sort of bounce awkwardly off each other. Bill Skarsgard does alright as Pennywise, but I sort of realized that everything that there is *to* the character is in that now-iconic opening drain scene....and that scene's almost the exact same thing as the old scene from the miniseries, except they actually show the kid's arm getting ripped off. The 3D jump scares are silly-looking, and the end scene fighting Pennywise in the sewer is only an improvement over the miniseries' godawful "yelling a mnemonic device at an obvious spider puppet" by virtue of not just being that a second time--it's a completely unwatchable load of poorly-lit crap where you can't see a damned thing and I have no idea how all the kids didn't just get slaughtered. The kid actors got a lot of acclaim but I only thought "Beaverly" , the lone girl, really stood out all that much. A very mixed bag.
The Disaster Artist: This is no classic like Ed Wood, but it got enough belly laughs at the showing I attended to be worth watching. The book supposedly makes Tommy Wiseau's on-set antics circa 2003 seem much worse, but I haven't read it. That's weird, because Greg Sestero a)wouldn't be famous at all without Tommy, and b)according to the end of the movie, still talks to him every single day. Tommy comes across as a strange but faintly likable head-injury-victim for most of the movie, then when he starts making the movie he comes across as hateful--if he really refused to give his cast water during 110-degree heat or actually acted the way the movie says when he filmed the "bellybutton-humping" sex scene, then God knows how brain damaged Tommy would actually have to be in real life not to simply hang his head in total and utter shame, let alone approve of this movie! Franco, possibly the world's single most inconsistent actor, does a mostly-interesting job playing Tommy, but the accent sounded off to me--the real Tommy is much throatier and Franco reads most lines as if slightly drowsy or drugged. I also completely forgot that Dave and James Franco were brothers the whole time.
Blur, The Magic Whip: What the f***?!? THIS IS THEIR SECOND-BEST ALBUM!!! How come more of you people didn't talk about this?!? Because of the goofy circumstances surrounding its recording or something? (You remember that story, right--they spent five days recording in 2013 and Albarn left to do a solo album, then Coxon and Stephen Street went back and finished it over a year later.) Only Parklife is better! I love all the melancholy ballads--like they get the happy la-la-la Britpop vibe out for "Lonesome Street" and "I Broadcast" and "Ong Ong," and the rest is just one "Best Days" or "Yuko & Hiro" after the next! "Pyongyang," "New World Towers," "My Terracotta Heart," "Thought I Was A Spaceman" (plays like a dead Bowie song with Albarn singing), "Mirrorball"--that last one is like a sequel to "Peach," and I hope all you f*ckers know how much I love "Peach"! Practically every song here is good in some way or another! I might even BUY THE COMPACT DISC!!! Say something, Ken! Anything!
Pixies, Indie Cindy: The other reunion album I'd put off listening to, this has enough moments to be bearable. I didn't know that wasn't actually Kim Deal singing the trademark Kim Deal backing vocals on "Bagboy," the best song--it's a man, actually. "Magadalena 318" and "Greens And Blues" bring back the classic "surf beauty" vibe that I used to love on those classic Pixies albums, "Jamie Bravo" is a pleasant bye-bye of an album closer. I dunno, most of this is just okay--probably better motivated than your average Frank Black solo album but it doesn't really feel like wonderful music for college kids, maybe they're all just too old or something. Not that you could really guess their age from listening to it, or even what year the album was released. But that's okay too.
The Church, The Blurred Crusade: This 1982 sophomore effort is the most generic, nondescript guitar-rock album I think I've ever heard that I could still claim to like. It's perfectly good for what it is, but I don't know how to "describe" it at all--it's not too jangly, not too somber, not too heavy, not too wussy, not too ostentatious, not too simplistic....it's just a totally plain vanilla 80s alternative album. "When You Were Mine" (driving uptempo) and "To Be In Your Eyes" (dead and limp) and "Fields Of Mars" (slightly spacey) are the best songs. If anyone cares. Their three followup albums were all better, but I would still like to listen to more Church albums anyway.
The Chameleons, Strange Times: I thought this album was supposed to be some big sellout, but it's only slightly more diverse and slightly better produced than the two long-winded 80s-Goth pound-fests that precede it. It doesn't seem to go on forever and ever, which is sort of a plus, but then again I'm listening to these Chameleons albums as background music--I was blown away by Script Of The Bridge when I first heard it, then when I bought it and listened up close I realized the entire second half was bland and it lasted 57 minutes, so my opinion dwindled a lot. "Soul In Isolation" and "Swamp Thing" are the big standouts. I don't know if I'm going to hear any of their reunion albums, of which there seem to be four or five, which is more than they put out in the 80s.
Aztec Camera, Dreamland: Not yet 30 years old but still a pop veteran by 1993--look at that cover art!--Roddy Frame finally gave up on 80s pop and diversity and released the dull, glossy adult contemporary balladry album that was probably sadly inevitable for a guy like him. Oh, it's not bad at all, I just don't care for the genre, and probably neither do you, even if the critics who hated the 9 minute go-nowhere title track of "Knife" (I liked that, only as background music though) might not have also noticed that "Valium Summer" had the same chord sequence. He worked with Ryuichi Sakamoto on the album, for....some....reason, but God knows what Sakamoto really did here (not that I'm really familiar with Sakamoto much anyway.) I can't seem to even find much information on this album--few people seem to have heard it let alone reviewed it. The good tracks are "Birds," backed with some shimmery psychedelic carpet of organ tone, "Sister Ann" and "Black Lucia," which has a Cocteau Twins watch-the-birds-fly-away vibe to its chorus.
Jethro Tull, Minstrel In The Gallery: Dislike. Some of the riffage in the long winded title track is okay, and the song I always knew was "Cold Wind To Valhalla" which still has a magical acoustic drive to it. "Black Satin Dancer" is overwrought crap, and "Baker Street Muse" can go s*** the bed--16 minutes of plain lumbering dull crap that barely holds my attention, one of the weakest major prog epics this side of Keystudio. The problem is just that it's more of the damn same, the third album in a row of Ian rehashing the same general Tull styles (Lilting high-strummed acoustic guitar lines! Lumbering fat monstrous guitar riffs doubled with fat organ! Stately classical pianos! "Vulgar" Britannia humor! Get the flute!) that he mastered on Aqualung and Thick As A Brick to diminishing and diminishing and yet even some f***ing more diminishing returns. The bonus tracks are the usual slop. I plan on continuing with the rest of Tull's studio albums, even if already by 1975, the end of the prog era, I think I'm liking these albums less than f***ing Christgau would have. And that's not saying much!!