cartwheels into your heart

Monday, October 31, 2005

I wrote about Suicide's "Frankie Teardrop" for the Stylus Halloween special this week.

Where the Truth Lies, the new Atom Egoyan film, is an effective pulpy thriller that kept reminding me of the Luisa Rey sections in David Mitchell's postmodern novel Cloud Atlas: both Rey and Karen O'Connor are plucky young reporters in 1970s California who are carrying on their father's journalistic legacies and who find themselves caught up in the cover-up of a murder.

After reading reviews of Cloud Atlas, I was surprised to find the Rey story described by more than one critic as deliberately generic. To me it was the most captivating narrative in the whole novel -- although perhaps my surprise owes to the fact that I don't often read airplane paperbacks. (Maybe I should.) Where the Truth Lies has its hackneyed moments (cf. Alison Lohman's breathless voiceover about the murdered O'Flaherty girl living on as the tree in her mother's backyard), and Lohman isn't quite convincing as a hard-nosed go-getter (though she is appropriately vulnerable when the scene calls for it, and I maintain her essential prettiness) -- but it's creepily entertaining nonetheless.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Thoughts on the trailer for Shopgirl:

1. Laundromat scene reminiscent of similar in Secretary, with Jason Schwartzman playing the Jeremy Davies role to Claire Danes's Maggie Gyllenhaal (and by extension, then, Steve Martin = James Spader: the older, more elusive man who's ultimately more attractive than the scruffy puppydog).

2. Schwartzman's line "Yes I am ... wait, what?" -- confidently bullshitting and then dropping the pretense for a laugh -- is a near replica of a scene of his in the trailer for I Heart Huckabees. (Tomlin: "Have you ever transcended time and space?" Schwartzman: "Yes. No. Uh, time, not space... No, I don't know what you're talking about.")

3. Overall Lost in Translation mood, which is okay with me, though a friend recently expressed skepticism toward what she called "man-rescues-wounded-sparrow" films as embodying some sort of male fantasy, and if I reacted defensively, it's probably because it hit too close to home.

Because nobody's in the habit of checking it anymore, I should announce here that I'm reviving Shouting the Poetic Truths of High-School Journal Keepers with an doozy of an entry this week. EMO YEAH.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Scott Woods has an interesting post (and follow-up) about recent trends he's discovered as a wedding DJ. I think part of the reason this kind of examination is interesting to me is that it's essentially about canonicity, with the wedding reception a microcosm for the broader popular-music environment.

It's always satisfying when I'm in sync with the other Jukebox critics, as has happened this week, for the most part: we agree that Common, Ashlee, and Teairra are all middling, and Dem Franchize Boyz and Goo Goo Dolls are dreadful. Of course, I'm the outlier on the Death Cab song, but I knew that'd be the case.

I was once going to write a little thing about how Death Cab for Cutie and Coldplay (whom I also like) are actually fairly similar, despite their contrasting pedigrees (although who knows anymore: British people call Coldplay "indie," as is their custom, and the fact that we're reviewing Death Cab in the pop-singles roundup is a sure sign they've escaped the studded-belt subculture -- a friend who went to the Death Cab show the other night said that she was okay when the teenyboppers started showing up to shows a year ago, but that the growing frat-boy contingent is starting to become intolerable).

Anyway, the term I'd use to describe both bands is "cozy blandness," which sounds like an insult but isn't in my mind: the affectlessness of Ben Gibbard's voice, for instance, has the effect of becoming a warm, familiar blanket, his words a string of sweet nothings. And both bands' reliance on tried-and-true minor-key signifiers means that, while you might not be challenged, you can at least wallow pleasantly in a mood. This counts for something, I think.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The best single this week is a country song.

It occurs to me that I never finished my 2005Q2 Singles Report. At this point, I'd rather write about new stuff than feel obligated to finish that up, so here's the complete top ten (unranked, as always) from April-June:

Architecture in Helsinki, "Do the Whirlwind"
Bloc Party, "Banquet"
Coldplay, "The Speed of Sound"
Common ft. John Mayer, "Go"
Killers, "Smile Like You Mean It"
Missy Elliott ft. Ciara, "Lose Control"
Spoon, "I Turn My Camera On"
Gwen Stefani, "Hollaback Girl"
Rachel Stevens, "Negotiate with Love"
Supersystem, "Born Into the World"
Kanye West, "Diamonds"

Actually, that's a top eleven, but I was going to combine AiH and Spoon into one entry because they have the same riff. Ha.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Here's my long-awaited takedown of Public Image, Ltd.