Archive for February 2007

It’s Right to Resist

February 26, 2007


After four years of slaughter, the time has come to take matters into our own hands. The U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq is wrong. If our leaders won’t stop it, then it is up to us to do so.

Last week peace activists across the country occupied congressional offices, pushing for commitments to vote against President Bush’s request for an additional $93 billion to fund the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Arrests occurred in Fairbanks, Alaska; Chicago, Illinois; Toledo, Ohio; Portland, Oregon; and St. Louis, Missouri.

The actions were part of the Occupation Project, a campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience to end Iraq war funding. A lead group in the effort is Voices for Creative Nonviolence.

Next week five peace supporters, including myself, go on trial for refusing to leave Congressman Steve Chabot’s office. We hope to convince the jury to send a message to Chabot and Bush: Stop the killing!

— Gregory Flannery


Is There An Echo In Here?

February 26, 2007

(creepy Arcade Fire photo by Win Butler)

Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible, one of the more highly anticipated new CDs of the young year, is out next Tuesday (March 6), but you can stream the whole thing right here, right now, for free. (Thanks!) The album may not pull a No. 2 chart entry like fellow Indie Rock sensations The Shins did earlier this year, but I’ll bet it lands in the Top 10 (a real coup for Merge Records, the little label started by a couple of members of Superchunk in 1989).

The album features guests from Calexico and Wolf Parade and Butler says the record is “about the way culture and religion intersect.” Hmmm, where could he have gotten that inspiration?

Some of the early reviews have picked up on this (and the ones due this week will likely also make reference), but there is a strong Echo and the Bunnymen influence evident on this offering (either by design or accident), as singer Win Butler conjures the throaty, low croon and majestic, high wail of Ian McCulloch, particularly on “Black Mirror” and “Intervention.” Could Echo be the “influence du jour,” like Queen was last year (thanks to albums by Muse and My Chemical Romance). It would certainly be much more welcome (there’s nothing worse than a bad Freddie Mercury impersonation).

— Mike Breen

WWCD? (What Would Cobain Do?)

February 25, 2007

MTV News has posted an interesting article that asks the question, “What would Kurt Cobain be doing if he were still alive?” Cobain would have turned 40 last Tuesday (Feb. 20).

The story features quotes from some of Cobain’s old peers: producers Jack Endino and Butch Vig and biographers Michael Azerrad and Charles Cross. Most of them say Kurt would probably still be making music in some capacity but that Nirvana would be no more — begging the question of whether the band would have indulged in the now-trendy reunion craze.

It’s, of course, an impossible question, one that’s been asked for years about artists like Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. But what do you think: Would Kurt have gone into hiding and made art purely on his own terms? Would he just take a job as Burger King manager in Iowa somewhere and give up music totally? Or would he have gotten some help for his mental and physical problems, sorted things out and re-emerged as the next American Idol judge?

— Mike Breen

Smells Like Indie Film Spirit

February 25, 2007

The Oscars are tonight, but yesterday the Film Independent Spirit Awards (formerly the Independent Spirit Awards; why the awkward name change?) rewarded filmmakers, actors, writers and directors who don’t have the luxury of big (well, blockbuster, at least) studio backing. Some of the winners overlap with Oscar nominees (most notably big winner Little Miss Sunshine), while others are more obscure (though perhaps no longer).

I imagine Ellen DeGeneres will be somewhat funny on the Oscars, but she’ll be no match for FISA host Sarah Silverman, who was her usual filthy, hilarious self. I promise you this: Ellen will not be graphically simulating sex with cheese onstage tonight. If you happen to catch a rerun, make sure you can see the ceremonies on IFC if at all possible; the re-airings on AMC are censored for language, lopping off a lot of the funnier bits.

Below are the winners, courtesy of the FISA’s official site. Now I’m off to call my bookie, based on Gargano’s picks for tonight. That’s $13,000 on Basic Instinct 2 for Best Picture, right?

— Mike Breen


That Other Coppola

February 25, 2007

Where have you gone, Francis Ford Coppola? It’s been 10 years since your last movie, The Rainmaker, and 15 years since one of your films has even been on the cultural radar (1992’s uneven Dracula). Hell, your daughter has eclipsed you at this point.

Well, I recently came across the Web site for Coppola’s new film, Youth Without Youth, a “pre-WWII drama where a life-changing incident turns a professor (Bruno Ganz) into a fugitive.” (It’s tentatively slated for a fall 2007 release.) The site itself is spare to the point of barely existing, but there’s a brief, interesting diary section that finds the director in a candid and contemplative mood about his career.

— Jason Gargano

Friday’s Flicks (and Oscar Predictions)

February 25, 2007

I’m still suffering from a post-Sundance hangover, and a typically horrible February release schedule hasn’t helped matters. This week offers little respite.

Opening films:

The Abandoned: Not screened for review

Amazing Grace: B

The Astronaut Farmer: C

The Number 23: D-

Reno 911!: Miami: D+

Flick of the Week: Amazing Grace

But the big news this week is, of course, the Oscars on Sunday night. Always a deliciously decadent train wreck of self-importance, the Oscars remain a guilty pleasure for cinephiles no matter how often they criticize the Academy’s choices. Here are my predictions:

Best Picture
Will win: The Departed
Should win: The Departed

None of my Top 10 films of 2006 were nominated for Best Picture, which is no big surprise — Oscar bait ain’t my thing. But The Departed and The Queen were in my next tier, and Babel and Letters from Iwo Jima — a pair of overextened, earnest, emotionally resonant films that teeter on pretension without quite getting there — are understandable nominations.

I can’t say the same about Little Miss Sunshine, which is one of the most overrated movies of 2006, an entertaining if flawed film populated by cardboard cutouts of dysfunctional family types rather than organic characters (the exception is Abigail Breslin, whose performance makes the film bearable.)

Yet I wouldn’t be shocked if Sunshine wins — it’s the kind of underdog film Academy voters think is edgy, which says a lot about its voters. My guess is that The Departed still pulls it out as a corrective of past Scorsese slights and a nod to its big-named cast. (more…)

Fringe Festival Close to Announcing Performers

February 24, 2007

Check back here on March 3 for details of what will be onstage during the 2007 Cincinnati Fringe Festival (set for May 30-June 9). The Fringe, which is now wholly organized by Know Theatre of Cincinnati, has taken a big, positive step toward involving the entire theater community by creating a selection committee consisting of six local arts leaders who have their fingers on the pulse of what is likely to be cutting-edge material: Michael Haney (associate artistic director of Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park), Jefferson James (artistic director of Contemporary Dance Theater), D. Lynn Meyers (producing artistic director of Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati), Victoria Morgan (artistic director of Cincinnati Ballet), Brian Phillips (artistic director of Cincinnati Shakespeare Company) and Know’s own artistic director, Jason Bruffy. (more…)