Saturday, March 28, 2009

Monsters Vs. Aliens

Plot? Well, the title pretty much sums it up (I guess you could read some tolerance stuff in the subtext...but this isn't really a "subtext" kinda movie.) But that doesn't matter...Monsters Vs. Aliens is fast paced and beautifully rendered with enough slapstick and high-jinks to keep the kids happy and just enough jokes that will sail over the heads of the youngsters to keep the adults engaged (and stuff blows up...who doesn't like that? :-)

Keifer Sutherland is a hoot (and all but unrecognizable) voicing the the hard-bitten General W.R. Monger who has been keep the existence of monsters away from the public for 50 years, Stephen Colbert has a daffy turn as the clueless President, and Reese Witherspoon is at turns winsome, befuddled, and determined as Susan who is turned into a 50-foot woman ("Gigantica") after being exposed to a meteorite on her wedding day.

Hugh Laurie is grand as Dr. Cockroach, a mad scientist who turned himself into...well...a giant cockroach, Will Arnett is fine as the stalwart and prideful Missing Link, and Seth Rogen steals the show as the affable but brainless gelantious blob named Bob.

The movie wears its influences on its proverbial sleeve unabashedly...I saw winks to Star Wars, Men in Black, Independence Day, The Day the Earth Stood Still...and, of course, The Fly, Attack of the 50-Foot Woman, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and The Blob... among others...but it does so with such charm, verve, cheekiness, and good nature that you just go with it.

In the vein of full disclosure I eschewed the 3-D version in favor of a regular 2-D showing...eyes as old as mine weren't meant to try to cope with 3-D for an hour and half...but I could see many of the shots that probably really popped in three dimensions.

Is this a great movie? Nah. But it's a heckuva lot of fun and what more do you want from a cartoon?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bare Bones

I had to live with the new Madeleine Peyroux CD for a while…listen it to more than few times…before its charms revealed themselves to me more fully. Bare Bones is not as immediately accessible as her previous two collections (Half the Perfect World and Careless Love) but its highpoints are on par with the best tunes from those two delightful albums.

Unlike her past couple of albums, which featured a mixture of original tunes and cannily chosen cover songs, this one consists completely of original tunes (all of which were written or co-written by Peyroux.)

The first few tunes…the wistfully optimistic “Instead”, the quietly lilting title track, and the rueful “Damn the Circumstances”…have the same downcast, plaintive feel and that threatens to weigh down the proceedings with a brooding sameness. But, in all the cases, the strength of the lyrics (musical hooks are hard to come by) makes the songs work. The same is true for “River of Tears”.

The sprightly…and devilishly witty…”You Can’t Do Me” is a welcome change of pace when it turns up.

The second half of the CD glides sweetly between somber numbers…”Love and Treachery” and “Homeless Happiness”…and more upbeat tunes…”To Love You All Over Again”…with Peyroux’s charming and evocative vocals (yes, she has distinct reflections of Billie Holiday in her voice…that’s going to come up every time she puts out a record…but hey in her case it’s definitely a good thing.)

I had to live with it…play it while snuggled next to a friend…dance idly to it…find echoes of my own experience in the world…but Bare Bones proved worth the investment of time and attention. It’s not perfect…several of the songs would have been better served with shorter running times and tighter hooks…but it is, to quote the marvelous closing song, “Somethin’ Grand” just the same.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Just as I found myself about ready to drift away from Heroes they go and start acting like they want to get interesting again. Ain’t that always the way? :-)

This week’s offering was relatively taut…leaving some over-exposed characters on the sidelines (yes I’m looking at you Nathan and Claire…you too Sylar) and seemingly streamlining the cast (life expectancy for super-powered blondes seems very limited on this show…unless you’re a former cheerleader) and even bringing back an old friend (howdy “Rebel”, figured it was you.)

This “Fugitives” arc is indeed getting interesting (the creepy and cranky one-note government guy notwithstanding)…though I am well aware that this show sometimes fails to pay off on its promises so I won’t call it a comeback (sorry, LL, I had to do it) just yet. But they’ve bought at least a few more weeks of my attention.