Category Archives: Movies

This week in NYC

What follows is why I’m earnestly glad that social media exists. Here’s what happened last week in New York City.

1. John Mayer started tweeting again in the last month, which is really not a big deal, except when it’s regarding him recording music. And in the last week, he had a lot to say about recording music. He first tweeted that the John Mayer Trio would be reuniting to perform on Late Night With Seth Meyers, as well as hitting the studio to record an LP with some “legendary guests.” The first JM3 record was released in 2005, and their last release could be considered 2008 if you count the set they played for JM’s Annual Holiday Revue concert in ’07, the entirety of which eventually got released as Where The Light Is: Live In Los Angeles in 2008. We haven’t heard legitimately new music from JM3 in 6 years.

So the mere fact that they’re recording a new LP is nearly the biggest news to that could possibly rock my musical world (second only to the release of you’know’who’s forever-in-limbo third album). Then JM tweets that the Trio will be joined in the studio by living legend Chick Corea. Are you kidding me?! This is monumental news. Add to it they’ve also got Miles Davis-approved trumpeter Wallace Roney in the sessions as well. JM also posts some photos up of Pino, Chick, Steve, and Wallace all clearly enjoying the results of their musical collaboration.

On top of that, he posted two videos on Instagram of Chick playing a gig with fellow jazz legends Ron Carter and Roy Haynes at the Blue Note, a jazz club with some notoriety. Very cool, but not particularly significant, until…

2. James Poyser, keys player for The Roots and the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (he’s the guy who plays Thank-You Notes), posted a picture of him chatting with Chick Corea (see below). Only then did I put it together that Late Night With Seth Meyers tapes in 30 Rock, as does the Tonight Show, and the Blue Note is a venue in New York, and JM3 was doing Late Night this week. Also, James Poyser is one of the four-founding members of the Soulquarians, which is always worth stating, even if it doesn’t necessarily tie to anything else.

poyser

3. Back to JM, his Twitter account led me to the Twitter account of Chick Corea, on which were posted several pictures of the actual recording session in which he took part with JM3.

It was at the Electric Lady Studios in New York City, a historical recording studio where countless landmark artists have recorded, including:

  • Jimi Hendrix (the original creator/founder of the studio)
  • The Roots
  • Chic
  • Led Zeppelin
  • The White Stripes
  • Diana Ross
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Erykah Badu
  • Common
  • D’Angelo

And that’s a short list of artists who have recorded at this studio. Insane.

4. Finally, D’Angelo’s sound engineer Russ Elevado (who has now replied to me via Twitter 3 times. That’s right, a Grammy-winning artist has tweeted me 3 separate times. This is my 15 minutes.) retweeted a picture posted by drummer Chris Dave of the same Blue Note gig JM was at. Except in his picture, Savion Glover was on stage.

This has suddenly become the craziest gig ever. Dave also posted a picture of him with Chick, Steve and Pino, right around this time. Which is awesome and notable, mainly because of this last bombshell: Chris Dave has contributed a great deal of the drum work on D’Angelo’s new album. You’ve got a guy in a band with JM taking a picture with a guy in D’Angelo’s band, plus an extra guy who is playing for both JM and D’. Then throw in a jazz legend to boot.

All of this culminated with JM3’s first performance on TV in over 5 years on Late Night With Seth Meyers, where they were joined by Chick Corea, Wallace Roney, and former Weather Report percussionist Manolo Badrena. They did a cover of J.J. Cale’s “After Midnight” which featured fantastic solos by Wallace, Chick, and JM.

It was a very groovy performance, and it was a good reminder that as far as career choices go, JM could play/record exclusively with older, established musicians, and all of his output would be fantastic. He doesn’t need to guest on Frank Ocean’s album to stay relevant (although when he does, it’s awesome). He just needs to keep creating awesome, powerful music, which is a rare commodity nowadays.

What I love about all of this is how interconnected music is. Being a musician is being in a big club, and a bunch of clubmembers who might not normally interact came into each other’s orbits this week, and I can only hope strong connections were made (i.e. a D’Angelo/JM collaboration would be the pinnacle of all my musical hopes and dreams). Here’s hoping we get a full on jazz record from JM3 soon.

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Pop Culture Q&A, Vol. 4: What non-existent sequels would you want to see?

This installment of Pop Culture Q&A asks:

  • What movies would you like to see sequels to?

Great question, because it’s challenging to find the perfect movie that wouldn’t be ruined by adding more to the story. The inherent problem with answering this question is that a truly good movie is one that can stand alone on its own artistic merit. It doesn’t need to be enhanced by a prequel/sequel. It always surprised me that Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King won the Academy Award for Best Picture because it was really the third part of a really long movie. On top of that, Hollywood has already answered this question for us many times over by tapping into some great sequel material (Godfather Part II, Back To The Future 2, Home Alone 2).

So here are two sequels that I’d go see.

1. Inception 2

I feel dirty even writing that title out. Inception is the story of dream-planter Cobb and his team of dream-manipulators who have to pull off a grand heist, or rather the inverse of a heist. This movie was from an original screenplay written by Christopher Nolan over the course of eight or nine years. That’s a large part of why I loved it so much. It felt like nothing I’d ever seen before. It wasn’t a reboot of a character or a continuation of a franchise, it was just Cobb and his mission. It was inventive and unique and so complex. And I would love to see what Nolan could do with a sequel. I feel like rather than focusing on Cobb, the emotional pull of the story would have to come from another character, like Arthur or Ariadne. It’d be difficult to hinge the sequel on Cobb again because Inception so perfectly follows the story of his emotional redemption and it’s put a period (at the very least, an ellipse) on his character’s arc. But Nolan is a master film maker and I wouldn’t put it past him to dive back into the dream world and create something equally as stunning and powerful as Inception.

2. The Sting II

Yes, yes, I know this movie was already made in 1983 with Jackie Gleason. However, it hardly qualifies as a legitimate sequel, as the main characters have essentially different back stories, hell, they even have different names (Henry Gondorff becomes Fargo Gondorff and Johnny Hooker is now Jake Hooker? Weird.). This could be thought of as a reboot, and I want to see a sequel. Give me Newman and Redford back in their title roles. I’m not sure where the story goes after The Sting ends; it was emotionally grounded because the con started from a place of vengence but quickly grew into something more important, Gondorff and Hooker’s letting go of the grief over the loss of their dear friend. I’m not sure how a continuation of Gondorff and Hooker’s story could have that sort of emotional punch and this makes me think a sequel would be dead in the water after the opening credits. A major twist to the format would be to pit Gondorff and Hooker against each other in some sort of con gone wrong or con gang war and see how that dynamic played out. Again, these are not perfect ideas and they’d most likely flop, but the joy of seeing Gondorff and Hooker on screen (as played by only Newman and Redford) is just too much for me not to kind of wish a real sequel had been made.

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Fame doesn’t mean you’re good at everything.

Justin Timberlake’s solo musical output in the last six years:

futuresex futuresexloveshow suitandtie

Justin Timberlake’s cinematic output in the last six years:

edisonedisonedisonedisonedisonedisonedisonedisonedisonedisonedisonedison

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Just a thought…here’s to The 20/20 Experience.

-Jon

P.S. Technically, Edison came out in 2005, but it’s just so awful I couldn’t leave it out. And I thought The Social Network was a fantastic movie, but certainly not due to JT.

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Rap Doc.

So…this looks awesome.

The audio is off, and it’s directed by actor Michael Rappaport, which is unexpected. But other than that, this whole documentary looks super interesting. Tribe is almost certainly my favorite hip hop “group” versus single rap artist, and getting to hear thoughts and interviews by the group members themselves along with other prominent members of the hip hop community is bound to be very interesting. Sign me up for anything where ?uestlove talks about music. I’ll keep my radar up for this thing on DVD.

-Jon

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"Hey, wha’ happened?"

These two clips are from the Christopher Guestdirected A Mighty Wind. The film is a fake documentary about the organization of a tribute concert featuring three old folk acts from the last 40 years and it stars much of the same cast as other movies directed by Christopher Guest: Best In Show, For Your Consideration, Waiting For Guffman, and the classic This Is Spinal Tap. I’m not a giant fan of any one of them; they’re all pretty funny but not laugh out loud. Except for these two clips. Each scene features Fred Willard as a ridiculous manager of one of the folk groups in this tribute concert. Colleen and I were crying after this first clip, we rewound it like four times. Not much else by way of introduction so here you go:

I can’t get over how funny his character is to me. The love of catchphrases, the fart machine, the whispering, his hair. His phrasing is just too funny. The “19seventymmmm” is such a funny idea, when I get that old and I ever have to reference anything from my 20s I’m going to do that everytime. Again, the movie as a whole is alright, but man this guy is thoroughly entertaining.
-Jon

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The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day

I just watched the trailer for The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day. Yes, the sequel to the “cult classic” The Boondock Saints.

This movie, or set of movies, now joins the list of “Why did they keep going?” franchises. I know that sounds negative but it’s not completely; I would add good movies to that list along with bad. This list includes, yet is obviously not limited to: Green Street Hooligans (yes, there is a sequel), basically any horror franchise, every single superhero franchise (good and bad included, I’m looking at you Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies and Fantastic Four, respectively), Lost Boys, most of the Disney Animated Classics, and loads more I can’t think of right now. The point is why do studios/filmmakers/directors/etc. continue movie franchises when continuing almost certainly means devaluing the franchise of any sort of credibility?

Let me go back a little bit. The Boondock Saints is a great movie. Funny, violent, exciting, artistic, it’s very entertaining to watch. While it doesn’t seem to have much premise other than “two Irish residents of Boston go on a violent God-ordained rampage and kill lots of bad gangsters in their city,” it makes for an interesting concept and really is more of a vehicle for how the killing goes down. Which sounds mindless but translates to a very cool movie.

So you have this movie. It was (apparently) a disaster to make, made no waves when it was released in theaters, and then became a huge hit released on DVD, thanks to the powerful effect of word-of-mouth between college kids. It’s considered a cult classic. And now, ten years later, a sequel is being made. I just watched the trailer, and it looks like they’ve replaced the Rocco character (comic relief sidekick from the original) with another Rocco-like character, and instead of Willem Dafoe playing the FBI agent tracking the Saints down, he’s been replaced with a “sexy” crime-fighter who’s “really gonna give them hell.” Those are not quotes from the trailer, just a way to emphasize the cliches of movie sequels, the whole “upping the ante” factor. Sounds awful doesn’t it?

Here’s the interesting part. It might not be. The same writer-director of the original is helming the sequel, and the whole main cast (excluding Dafoe) is returning. This means the same two Saints (who really sold the original), their same bushy-bearded dad, and the squad of Boston police officers who were Dafoe’s lackeys in the original. It actually seems like it might turn into a decent movie, as far as movie sequels go.

I think I was just a little annoyed by the fact they were making a sequel at all, as good as this might be. The Boondock Saints was a great movie, why can’t it be left at that? People sacrifice their art and continue to make something after the creative well has dried and it cheapens whatever of the original was good.

So unless I hear that it really is awesome, I probably won’t see this movie. Because honestly, how many people do you remember saying “Man Home Alone 3 is really where the series took off. I’m so glad they got rid of Macaulay Culkin”?

-Jon

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whatever works.

great news. the trailer is finally out for whatever works, a new comedy written and directed by woody allen. that’s not the great news. the great news is that it stars larry david. for the uninitiated, larry david co-created seinfeld along with jerry seinfeld and currently stars in curb your enthusiasmon hbo. i wasn’t allowed to watch seinfeld growing up, so i never really got into it when i was younger, and i’ve only recently started to watch it more often, and it’s funny. but it’s definitely no curb your enthusiasm. the character of george was based on larry david, but nobody plays that character better than larry david himself, and that’s why curb is funnier to me.

can’t get off track. i just watched the trailer and while it’s clearly no annie hall, it looks like the funniest woody allen movie i’ve seen in a while. and finally, FINALLY, a woody allen movie that doesn’t star the insufferable scarlett johansson. gosh i hate that woman. larry david is just a funny guy. he has funny mannerisms, his cadence is funny to me, his face just makes me laugh. and while the supporting cast isn’t full of any of my favorites, it still looks solid enough to make for a very good woody allen yarn. now i just hope it will be released somewhere around cedar falls. doubtful.
-jon

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