Author Archives | John Laird

About John Laird

Show Of The Week

January 17, 2018


I know that getting out for a show in icy Austin seems ludicrous right now, but the weather is actually supposed to be much more tolerable by tomorrow.  So, I believe that means you have no excuse to not go to Cheer Up Charlie’s tomorrow night for a rad local affair that features My Golden Calf, Royal Forest, Linen Closet and Jana Horn.  Have fun!

BONUS Recommendations:

- Aimee Mann, Jonathan Coulton at the Paramount Theater

- Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Night Beats at Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater
- Hiss Golden Messenger at 3ten ACL Live

- The Dream Syndicate, Erika Wennerstrom (of Heartless Bastards) at 3ten ACL Live
- Jessica Lea Mayfield, Sun Seeker at Barracuda
- The Crystal Method at Empire Control Room
- Bon Iver at ACL Live at the Moody Theater
- Otis Wilkins, Sun June at Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co.
- Scott H. Biram at the Continental Club
- Brockhampton at Emo’s

- Pinback, Major Entertainer at the Mohawk
- Bon Iver at ACL Live at the Moody Theater

- Bon Iver at ACL Live at the Moody Theater

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Quickdraw: Jay Som, Car Seat Headrest, Walter Martin, Jack White, Frankie Cosmos

January 16, 2018



Jay Som – Pirouette

Jay Som became a big favorite of mine last year with her debut album, Everybody Works.  On January 26 she’s going to put out a 7″ with two unreleased tracks from the EW sessions.  The A-side is what I have today – it’s good.

Car Seat Headrest – Nervous Young Inhumans

While I would prefer a wholly brand new album from Car Set Headrest, I’m still excited about the re-recorded version of Twin Fantasy (due February 16), an older effort of his that I’ve seen tagged as a “Bandcamp classic.”  The first single is super catchy and charming.

Walter Martin – Ride Down The Avenue

Walter Martin (formerly of The Walkmen) has a new album, Reminisce Bar & Grill, coming on February 16.  I whiffed on the really solid track he put out back in December, so I’m making sure you get the new one that was just released.  It’s a must-listen if you’re a big fan of AAA radio.

Jack White – Connected By Love

Jack White is back.  I’ve always been into whatever he’s doing, so I’m feeling a little weird about being pleasantly surprised by the new single.  I may have been subconsciously about to burn out on him.  In any case, his album, Boarding House Reach, will be out later this year.

Frankie Cosmos – Jesse

Frankie Cosmos will release their Sub Pop debut, Vessel, on March 30.  If it’s anything like their 2016 release, Next Thing, then I’ll love it.  They’re certainly off to a strong start with a stellar first single.

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101X Homegrown Podcast

January 15, 2018


Here’s the latest 101X Homegrown!  It features the premiere of Belcurve’s cover of AC/DC’s Dirty Deeds (off of The Stacks: Songs From The Oasis), new songs from Mind Spiders, Blushing and Thee Conductor, and a variety of show recommendations for this week.  Enjoy.

Hit me up via Facebook, Twitter or email if you need something.

Good Field – Surface Tension
My Golden Calf – Young Pioneers
Royal Forest – Goldwallpaper
Fever Bones – It’s Hard To Look Away
(PREMIERE) Belcurve – Dirty Deeds (AC/DC Cover)
The Hermits – Ruby Red Summer
(NEW) Mind Spiders – Outside
Hovvdy – Cranberry
(NEW) Blushing – Hidden Places
Booher (Featuring Pocket Sounds) – Rebel Yell (Billy Idol Cover)
Loma – Relay Runner
(NEW) Thee Conductor – Oh, The Raven

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Movie Breakdown: The Post

January 11, 2018


Pre-Screening Stance:

As much as I like Steven Spielberg when he’s in full on spectacle-mode, I really love his historical dramas.  If we’re lucky, The Post will be another Bridge Of Spies or Munich.  If he swings and misses here, at least we’ll get to see Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks on the big screen together.

Post-Screening Ramble:

There’s two sides to The Post.  One is Steven Spielberg succinctly detailing what happened when the Washington Post risked everything to expose the Pentagon Papers, a secret government report that essentially pegged the Vietnam War as unwinnable.  This is, of course, fantastic stuff.  I couldn’t get enough of both Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee, a man hell bent on doing what’s right regardless of the consequences, and Bob Odenkirk as Ben Bagdikian, a relentless scoop-hound.  They’re such great characters, and watching them develop such a massive, dangerous and important story makes for good fun.  The other side of this movie is centered around Meryl Streep’s Kay Graham, the inspirational owner of the Washington Post during the whole Pentagon Papers fiasco.  She starts out as an unwillingly decision-maker when it comes to things at the newspaper, but as the film goes on you watch her take charge of her life and her company, and it’s as equally fantastic as the more suspenseful side of the The Post.  I think it might actually be some of Streep’s best work, which somehow feels silly to note.  In any case, this is the sort of historical drama that will make you want to cheer.  Go see The Post.

One Last Thought:

David Cross plays Howard Simons in this movie, and he’s barely recognizable as the former employee of the Washington Post.  He also doesn’t have very many lines and in general he doesn’t do much of anything.  Maybe he had some scenes that got cut?  Otherwise I can’t figure out why he signed up for this one.

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Show Of The Week

January 10, 2018


Due to timing and a post-Free Week absence of shows, my pick this week is actually for a show that’s next week.  Ha.  Anyhow, the great Destroyer is set to play the Mohawk on Monday, January 15, and that just seems like something you should definitely attend.  I can’t be there, so you’ll have to get weird for me while listening to tracks off of Destroyer’s super solid 2017 release, Ken.

Tix are $20 in advance of the show, $22 the day of.  Mega Bog will open.

BONUS Recommendations:

- Soaked, Teevee, Sour Notes, Goldbloom at Hotel Vegas

- Belcurve, Harvest Thieves, Western Youth, Pongo at Hotel Vegas

- Magnet School, Jay Satellite, Ex-Optimists, Man Temple God at Beerland
- Hard Proof, Tomar & the FCs at Antone’s
- Josh Ritter & The Royal City Band, Nicki Bluhm at ACL Live at the Moody Theater

- And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Borzoi, Buck Gooter, Morgan Garrett, Daniel Francis Doyle, Sexual Jeremy at Beerland
- The Rotten Mangos, Pearl Earl, Model Zero, Pollen Rx at The Electric Church

- Black Label Society, Corrosion of Conformity, Eyehategod at Emo’s

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Quickdraw: Sufjan Stevens, Rhye, Lucy Dacus

January 9, 2018

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Here’s a few gems that were released while the site was on break for the holidays.  Enjoy.

Sufjan Stevens – Tonya Harding

Over the last week I’ve listened to this pretty number from Sufjan Stevens (a lot), watched I, Tonya, and revisited 30 For 30: The Price Of Gold.  I think I may be obsessed with Tonya Harding.  This is a one-off release, by the way.

Rhye – Count To Five

I don’t know what it is about Rhye, but they just make my body happy.  I’m excited for their upcoming album, Blood (due February 2).

Lucy Dacus – Night Shift

I like Lucy Dacus, but I didn’t realize I was in a hurry to get a new album from her until this song arrived.  I appreciate that she pulls no punches here.  Historian is due out March 2.

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101X Homegrown Podcast

January 8, 2018


101X Homegrown has returned!  Last night was the first show of 2018, and it included the premiere of Booher’s cover of Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell, new tunes from Mind Spiders, Good Field, Go Fever, The Octopus Project, Fever Bones, Loma and Hovvdy, and where to see And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Soaked, The Sour Notes and Magnet School live this week. I even tossed in an overdue holiday track from Summer Salt!  It’s good to be back.

Hit me up via Facebook, Twitter or email if you need something.

PS – The Booher track is from an upcoming compilation called The Stacks: Songs From The Oasis.  It’s made up of 16 Austin artists covering 18 classic 80s songs, and 50% of its proceeds are set to go to Kids In A Groove.  Below is the pre-order link, plus a standalone stream of the Rebel Yell cover.

101X Homegrown Playlist – 01.07.18

And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Bells Of Creation
(NEW) Mind Spiders – Furies
(NEW) Good Field – Surface Tension
(NEW) Go Fever – Dancing With Myself (Billy Idol Cover)
(PREMIERE) Booher (Featuring Pocket Sounds) – Rebel Yell (Billy Idol Cover)
(NEW) The Octopus Project – LEG
(NEW) Fever Bones – It’s Hard To Look Away
(NEW) Loma – Relay Runner
Summer Salt – Abominable Snowman
Soaked – Julia
The Sour Notes – Clock Strikes Twelve
Magnet School – British Monuments
(NEW) Hovvdy – Cranberry

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Top 10 Films Of 2017

January 5, 2018


John’s Best Films of 2017

You know, 2017 was a pretty good one for film.  I know there were too many sequels, reboots and comic book adaptations, but overall I think quite a few good to great movies were released.  Hopefully 2018 will be as snazzy or better.  We’ll see.  Anyhow, below you’ll find my Top 10 Films of 2017!  Well, it’s actually a Top 25, and I included a whole slew of honorable mentions.  Like I said, 2017 was a good one!  Read on.

PS – Scroll down to the bottom to check out Noah’s year-end film list!

25) 20th Century Women
24) All The Money In The World
23) Good Time
22) The Killing Of A Sacred Deer
21) John Wick: Chapter Two
20) Logan Lucky
19) Get Out
18) Guardians Of The Galaxy 2
17) Thor Ragnarok
16) Spider-Man: Homecoming
15) Blade Of The Immortal
14) War For The Planet Of The Apes
13) The Post
12) The Big Sick
11) Three Billboards Outside Of Ebbing, Missouri

10) Baby Driver

If Baby Driver is proof of anything, it’s that you always let Edgar Wright go full Edgar Wright.  Kudos to the guy for rallying up this rad film after that whole Marvel debacle.

09) Coco

Coco is the most culturally significant movie that Pixar has ever made.  I adore it.

08) Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi

Most fans seem to still be side-eyeing The Last Jedi, but I loved it.  Rian Johnson made a Star Wars movie that’s more about failure than success, and in doing so he pushed the franchise in a much-needed new direction.

07) Logan

Logan came out way early in 2017, but I’m still buzzing about Hugh Jackman getting to say goodbye to the titular character via a movie as fantastic as this one.  I even dig the unnecessary (and gimmicky) noir version of this film.

06) Dunkirk

I got a distinct “Oscar bait” vibe from Dunkirk before it was released, but I ended up really digging it.  Christopher Nolan keeps proving he’s one of the best directors working right now.

05) The Shape Of Water

Guillermo del Toro didn’t outdo Pan’s Labyrinth with The Shape Of Water, but he came close.  He should put out adult fairy tales more often.

04) Wind River

I really hope that Taylor Sheridan gets some recognition from the Academy for writing and directing Wind River.  Talk about an intense film.  Also, it will rip your eyes open in regards to what life is like on a Native American reservation.

03) Blade Runner 2049

This movie didn’t make a lot of money, so I guess it’s a failure?  Nope!  Denis Villeneuve made a near-perfect sequel to … well, a near-perfect movie that also didn’t make a lot of money.  What a coincidence.  In any case, I can’t wait to watch this over and over in 4K.

02) Lady Bird

Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird is quite possibly the most relatable movie of 2017 and definitely one of the best coming of age films ever.  Here’s hoping she doesn’t wait long to direct a follow-up.

01) The Disaster Artist

I’ve long laughed at Tommy Wiseau’s The Room, as it’s such a weird film.  My brain just doesn’t understand anything about it, and for years I’ve watched it and totally cracked up at how bizarre it is.  The Disaster Artist, however, made me realize that Tommy poured everything he had (passion, money, weirdness) into a movie for himself and his friends, and you know what?  That should be the driving force for all movies.  I now look at The Room not as a shitty movie, but as a misguided attempt at glory.  It’s wild!  Thanks for tearing me apart, James Franco.

Honorable Mentions: Call Me By Your Name, Last Flag Flying, The Fate Of The Furious, Free Fire, Lost City Of Z, The Square, Gerald’s Game, Raw, Bad Genius, IT, Wonder Woman, Okja, Brigsby Bear, Super Dark Times, Brawl In Cell Block 99, Battle Of The Sexes, American Made, It Comes At Night, Rough Night, The Beguiled, Mother!, Ron Goossens: Low Budget Stuntman, Mary And The Witch’s Flower, Gemini, Only The Brave, Ingrid Goes West, Wheelman, Murder On The Orient Express, Atomic Blonde, Landline, Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle, Personal Shopper

2017 Films I Really Want To See But Haven’t Yet: I, Tonya, The Florida Project, Phantom Thread

Noah’s Best Films of 2017

2017, you were a shitty year for reasons both public and personal, and there is nothing I’m happier about than watching the door swat it on the ass as it fades into the memory books. This said, 2017 was a banner year for films of all stripes. I won’t attempt to sugarcoat a year of rampant political mayhem and horrible natural disasters by saying that artistically our filmmakers struck back against oppression and white supremacy, but I will say, it wasn’t easy making a list of my ten favorites.

But I did, and here it is!

See you later 2017, thanks for a burning brown bag of shit of a year. But also, thanks for the movies.

The Top 10 (from 10 to 1):

10. Logan, d. James Mangold

Amongst the deluge of superhero films this year (good ones, for the most part, at that) Logan stands out. James Mangold and Hugh Jackman retire the character poetically, jumping years into the post-apocalyptic future where a broken hero must protect a little girl and an addled Professor X. It sends the Jackman-version of the character into the sunset with grace and a whole lot of killing.

9. Get Out, d. Jordan Peele

It feels almost obligatory at this point in the game to drop Get Out on a Top 10 list, but it says a lot about just how powerful a low-budget, Twilight Zone-esque thriller climbed into the throats of America and refused to move. Peele’s a talented director, and Get Out is a jarring film that ably dances along the lines of comedy, horror and racial allegory.

8. The Big Sick, d. Michael Showalter

Perhaps the only movie I’ve ever seen that’s made me think “Ray Romano should get nominated for an Oscar.”

7. Super Dark Times, d. Kevin Phillips

This indie horror flick about a bunch of kids in the grim, depressing world of small-town middle America and the murderous act that tears their little circle apart caught me entirely off guard for a couple reasons. First, it’s a brilliant, visually exciting, suspense laden film that manages to entangle the struggles of youth with the struggles of covering a murder. And two, it’s the first film I’ve seen where the period of the “period piece” is my childhood. Sweet mortality, I beg you be kind.

6. It Comes At Night, Trey Edward Shults

All the bleak, post-apocalyptic plague horror I want or need.

5. Wind River, d. Taylor Sheridan

Anything Taylor Sheridan does, you need to see. Wind River manages to be one of the more pulse-pounding action films of the year while also addressing the horrible world White Americans have helped to create for Native Americans. It’s also Jeremy Renner at his aloof best with Elizabeth Olson continuing to evolve into a star. Beautiful film, start to finish.

4. Call Me By Your Name, d. Luca Guadagino

Guadagino is a master, plain and simple. Call Me By Your Name somehow manages to capture the throbbing loins of young love, the awkward stretch from boy to man and the languorous heat of a summer wiling away in the background. A beautiful, heart-breaking film with one of the great ending credit sequences of all time.

3. Lady Bird, d. Greta Gerwig

If I had to pick a single thing I loved most in 2017, it’d be Greta Gerwig. Her acting, her writing, her directing, her very presence are spectacular and Lady Bird seems to be the crown on a spectacular year. It isn’t a big movie – a young girl grows up in so many words – but the performances of Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracey Betts and Lucas Hedges paired with a near perfect soundtrack and Gerwig’s soft, sometimes screwball touch make this a frontrunner for film of the year. Hell, it would’ve been film of the year if not for two others. Also, DMB, I loooove you.

2. The Shape of Water, d. Guillermo del Toro

No film this year better captured mood and emotion then del Toro’s low-light, girl-meets-fishman horror-romance. This is del Toro’s brilliant answer to Singing In The Rain, a film rife with emotion but still pulsing with heart. Every actor should get nominated for it, but if Richard Jenkins doesn’t, I will revolt (quietly at home while watching The Crown).

1. Good Time, d. The Safdie Brothers

The gritty, grimy, sad, bleak and hilarious film about one smart (but stupid) brother trying to break his brother out of prison is like a mish-mash of a Cassevettes film, a drug trip and something entirely unlike anything I’ve seen before. Robert Pattinson is a revelation as the stumbling, but slick, down-on-his-luck convict Connie Nikas, and with the Safdie’s behind the driver’s seat his odyssey into the gutter is absolutely wonderful.

Honorable Mentions:

Spider-Man: Homecoming
John Wick: Chapter 2
Ingrid Goes West
Blade Runner 2049
Atomic Blonde
Brawl In Cell Block 99
Logan Lucky
I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore

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Titus Andronicus

January 4, 2018


Initially, I wasn’t quite sure what to think of the new single from Titus Andronicus.  It’s a heavy, punk ballad that’s nearly 10 minutes long, and it felt like a bit much here as I try to reacquaint myself with a post-holiday world.  I gave it some extra play-throughs though, and now I’m really into it.  I suppose it’s just too epic to not get wrapped up in.  I’m excited to check out their upcoming album, A Productive Cough (due March 2), and to see them at Barracuda on April 7.  Enjoy.

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Show Of The Week

January 3, 2018


Side One Track One is back!  Happy 2018!  Let’s celebrate the return to action by gathering for a SOTO PRESENTS affair this Friday at the Mohawk.  On the inside stage I’ve lined up Marmalakes, Growl, Lola Tried and Tres Oui, and then on the outside stage I’ve got Los Coast, Emily Wolfe, Otis The Destroyer and Palo Duro.  All of these bands either put out fantastic albums in 2017, or they’ve got rad new stuff on the way this year.  If you want to sample some of the best music that Austin currently has to offer, then come to the SOTO show this Friday.  See you at the Mohawk!  By the way, don’t forget that it’s FREE WEEK, which means that there’s no cover for this one.

Inside Stage:
12:30am – Growl
11:30pm – Marmalakes
10:30pm – Lola Tried
9:30pm – Tres Oui

Outside Stage:
12:00am – Los Coast
11:00pm – Emily Wolfe
10:00pm – Otis the Destroyer
9:00pm – Palo Duro

Bonus FREE WEEK Recommendations:

- Knife in the Water, RF Shannon, Star Parks, Julia Lucille at Cheer Up Charlies
- Tinnarose, Otis the Destroyer, Darkbird, Good Field, Hard Riffs at Hotel Vegas
- SMiiLE, Thor & Friends, Kraken Quartet at the Mohawk
- Mylets, All Eyes, Shmu, Chakra Khan, DJ Chiquita Bombita at the Mohawk
- The Human Circuit, Built By Snow, Residual Kid, My Education, The Ghost Wolves, Chill Russell, Cartright, Honey and Salt, The Well at Barracuda
- Ringo Deathstarr, The Halfways, Coattails, Teevee at Empire Control Room

- USA/Mexico, Borzoi, Exhalants, Missing Pages at Beerland
- Riverboat Gamblers, American Sharks, Eagle Claw, Billy King and the Bad Bad Bad at Barracuda
- Whiskey Shivers, Sailor Poon, Booher, Poly Action at Empire Control Room
- Holy Knives/Levees, Otis The Destroyer, Megafauna, Hard Riffs, Rival Waves at Empire Control Room
- Amplified Heat, Duel, Greenbeard, Tia Carrera, Crimson Devils at The Swan Dive
- Jackie Venson, Mobley, Melat at Stubb’s

- Ringo Deathstarr, The Reputations, Toma, Mean Jolene, Whit at Hotel Vegas
- Holy Wave, Leather Girls, Hidden Ritual, The Diamond Center, Teevee at Cheer Up Charlies
- Tinnarose, A. Sinclair, PR Newman, Girling, Abram Shook, Magic Rockers of Texas, Carry Illinois at Barracuda
- Cloudchord, Sphynx, Solid State Dream Suit at Stubb’s
- Mobley, Blastfamous USA, Trouble in the Streets, Fort Never at Empire Control Room
- Calliope Musicals, Whit, Magia Negra, Go Fever, Lowin, Jazz Mills at The Swan Dive

- Knife in the Water, Croy and the Boys, Sun June at Hotel Vegas
- Annabelle Chairlegs, Deep Time, Caroline Says, Why Bonnie, Robby at Hotel Vegas
- Quiet Company, BLXPLTN, Super Thief, Day Shifters at Barracuda
- TV’s Daniel, John Wesley Coleman III, Missing Pages, The Sour Notes at Barracuda
- Calliope Musicals, Whiite Walls, Darkbird at the Mohawk
- Megafauna, A. Sinclair, Chill Russell, Meanswell at the Mohawk
- Melat, Shy Beast, Scorpio Rising, Noelle Tannen at Empire Control Room
- Knifight, Light Wheel, The Clouds Are Ghosts, Carson McHone at Stubb’s

- Star Parks, Go Fever, Abram Shook, Good Field, Big Breakfast at the Mohawk
- Zeale, NGHT HCKLRS, Pat G at Empire Control Room

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Movie Breakdown: Call Me By Your Name

December 22, 2017


Pre-Screening Stance:

I haven’t seen anything but enormous praise for Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name.  Here’s hoping it really is one of the year’s best films.

Post-Screening Ramble:

Is it weird to want to note that if you like Brokeback Mountain or Moonlight then you’ll love Call Me By Your Name?  I suppose that it’s no different than saying you’ll like Rocky if you love Raging Bull, but it sure does feel a little odd, like it somehow generalizes Call Me By Your Name.  Maybe I’m just overthinking things here?  In any case, director Luca Guadagnino’s latest film is beautiful.  I’m not sure it’s for everyone, as it is a fairly pretentious effort with a solid runtime (2 hours, 12 minutes), but those that can look past some of its more highfalutin moments will find an impactful movie that details a young man’s first love.  Personally, I found Call Me By Your Name to be fantastic.  Its slow, relaxed pace made me feel like I was actually spending a summer in Italy with the film’s leads, Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and Oliver (Arnie Hammer).  Not to mention that there being no rush to shove the story forward allows for more than enough time to take in every moment and to fully attach to the characters.  I also have to applaud the way that the patient, warm film provides little meandering moments that make you feel nostalgic about your own first love.  What great work by Guadagnino.

I highly recommend that you go and get lost in Call Me By Your Name.

One Last Thought:

Between Lady Bird and Call Me By Your Name, Timothée Chalamet has had one hell of a year.  I’m guessing he’ll start popping up in everything now.  I approve of this.  On another note, it caught me off guard that he also played Matthew McConaughey’s rough and tumble teenage son Tom in Interstellar.

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Movie Breakdown: All The Money In The World

December 21, 2017


Pre-Screening Stance:

I no longer know what to expect from Ridley Scott.  It’s either forgettable stuff like Exodus and Alien: Covenant, or something award-worthy like The MartianAll The Money In The World worries me a bit because it seemed to have zero buzz before Christopher Plummer replaced Kevin Spacey.

Post-Screening Ramble:

In case you don’t know, All The Money In The World is based on the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III and the efforts that his mother, Gail Harris, went through to get his billionaire grandfather, Jean Paul Getty, to pay the ransom.  It’s a hell of a story, mainly due to Gail’s refusal to give up hope and JPG’s unwillingness to cough up any measure of cash to save his favorite grandson, and director Ridley Scott does a great job of diving into its details while also managing to keep you on the edge of your seat.  There are a couple of oddball things, like Michelle Williams uneven Gail and Mark Wahlberg’s surprisingly muted Getty-lackey Fletcher Chase, but Christopher Plummer as JPG and Romain Duris as the kidnapper Cinquanta are both stellar.  Also, as I alluded to up above, the film is just an all-out entertaining ride.  It’s certainly dialogue heavy, but it’s snappy stuff that steadily keeps the story moving forward.  Also, what happened to that teenage boy is simply fascinating.  Expect to want to hit Wikipedia for more info before the credits have scrolled off of the screen.

Go see All The Money In The World.  It’s one of the better movies that Ridley Scott has put out recently.

One Last Thought:

I think that All The Money In The World shouldn’t be seen solely because Christopher Plummer stepped in for Kevin Spacey at the last possible minute, but he really is the best part of the film and one of the main reasons to watch it.  Go figure.

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Movie Breakdown: Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle

December 19, 2017


Pre-Screening Stance:

Despite having a cast I generally like, I scoffed when Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle was announced.  No one wants that!  Then I saw the first trailer and actually found myself chuckling.  Maybe I want that!

Post-Screening Ramble:

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle is slow to start, but once it finds its footing, it becomes one of the more fun films of 2017.  Its story is pretty simple – the board game from the original movie transforms itself into a video game, and then four kids get sucked into it.  Once inside they realize that everything is setup like an actual video game – there are levels, they have limited lives, each of their avatars have certain strengths and weaknesses – and then they get on with figuring out how to complete it so that they can go home.  The film itself then harkens back to 1995′s Jumanji while tossing in a healthy bit of The Wizard Of Oz.  In the game Spencer is a hulk of a man (Dwayne Johnson) and Martha is a badass (Karen Gillan), but in real life they’re both people who are rather unsure of themselves.  Bethany’s avatar is a portly cartographer (Jack Black), but she’s actually the quintessential pretty girl who could really use a dose of humility.  Fridge is a selfish, big time football player, but in Jumanji he’s a small guy (Kevin Hart) and he has to humble himself so that he can properly support everyone else.  Obviously, it’s all a bit basic, but not only does this approach allow each character to grow, it also sets up a whole slew of funny scenarios.  I laughed a lot.  I also cheered quite a bit, too, because while the movie may be an overtly silly affair (complete with chunks of low brow humor and questionable CG), it has a lot of heart.  Oddly enough, that’s how I think of the original film as well.

I was honestly surprised at how much I ended up digging Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle.  You should go check it out.  By the way, even though the movie has some cursing and a handful of violent deaths, I’d still take the kids.

One Last Thought:

You know, I’d totally watch a whole movie that’s just Jack Black portraying a teenage girl.  The man is really good at it.  Who knew!?

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101X Homegrown Podcast

December 18, 2017


Here’s part two of my favorite local releases of 2017. Enjoy!

Matthew Logan Vasquez – Same
Emily Wolfe – Holy Roller
Big Bill – Stand Still
Growl – Date With Satan
Wiretree – JF Sebastian
Marmalakes – Vittoria
Tres Oui – Prince Of Pop
Loma – Black Willow
Hollow Coats – Fold
The Octopus Project – Small Hundred
Night Drive – Trapeze Artist Regrets
The Digital Wild – They Say
Bayonne – I Know

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Movie Breakdown: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

December 12, 2017


Pre-Screening Stance:

The teasers for The Last Jedi have been great, the early reviews have been very positive, and Disney supposedly liked it so much that they felt comfortable enough to give director Rian Johnson his own Star Wars trilogy.  I couldn’t be more excited to see this thing.

Post-Screening Ramble:

The Last Jedi is a tough one to review without dipping into spoilers, but I’ll do my best since it’s definitely a film that’s best seen with no knowledge of what’s coming.  Here’s the gist – Rey is on a mission to recruit Luke Skywalker to help fight the First Order, who are bearing down on the rebel army.  Now, here’s what I generally thought about The Last Jedi – I loved it.  The film picks up right where The Force Awakens ends, and then it plows through a ton of plot before gracefully throttling down and leaving you feeling spent.  I was honestly really surprised at how much ground the movie covers.  Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) are certainly at the center of it, but there’s also quite a bit that happens with Luke (Mark Hamill), Leia (Carrie Fisher), Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac), Snoke (Andy Serkis) and Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), plus more with newcomers Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), DJ (Benicio Del Toro) and Holdo (Laura Dern).  Seriously, there are a lot of storylines and characters, but thankfully writer/director Rian Johnson does well to keep The Last Jedi from ever feeling cluttered.  Speaking of Johnson, he also deserves kudos for the breezy pace that never falters over the film’s two and a half hour runtime, and for masterfully providing emotional heft to an oft-loud mix of action and humor.  Movies like The Last Jedi don’t often garner “best director” awards, but I really believe he should be in the running this year.

Go see The Last Jedi, as it’s one of the best Star Wars entries.

One Last Thought:

There’s definitely a variety of similar plot points in regards to The Force Awakens/A New Hope and The Last Jedi/The Empire Strikes Back, but I’ll say this, I have no idea what to expect from the impending third movie.  It definitely seems as though it could end up being the one entry in the new trilogy that’s fully unique.

One More Last Thought:

After watching The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, I now believe that clunky dialogue is just an overall Star Wars thing that can’t be solely blamed on George Lucas.  I mean, Laura Dern is an incredible actress in what’s one of the best movies in the franchise, and yet her character talks like one of those moms that can’t remember how to say the name of their child’s favorite band.

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