Movie Review: Words & Pictures

What a lovely film Words & Pictures is. Clive Owen plays an arrogant literature teacher andĀ Juliette Binoche is his equally arrogant art-teaching rival. Their inevitable romance is more sarcastic than sweet and the personal demons of the two teachers threaten to make their mock “war” real. The best parts of the film are the literary quotes (by everyone from Shakespeare and John Updike to Ian McEwan and Jeanette Winterson) and various forms of art (from paintings and charcoal drawings to cartoons and cyber art) that are woven into the story. It’s an enjoyable, artsy, indie rom-com.

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Movie Review: Run & Jump

Will Forte garnered critical claim for his performance in Nebraska, but the SNL’s dramatic debut in the lesser known film Run & Jump was just as noteworthy.

Based on a true story, the poignant Irish indie dramedy depicts an uptight neuro-psychologist (Forte) who moves in with a boisterous Irish family while conducting a case study on their formerly comatose patriarch.

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Movie Review: A Case of You

A Case of You is an indie romantic comedy starring Justin Long and Rachel Evan Wood with some hilarious cameos by Sam Rockwell, Peter Dinklage and Vince Vaughn. I had mixed but mostly very positive feelings about this odd little film.

Justin Long stars as a struggling writer who basically stalks and seduces Rachel Evan Wood’s not-so-manic pixie girl barista through social media. He pretends to be the man of her dreams based on interests listed in her Facebook profile.

Thankfully the film’s direction, script and acting is so strong and interesting you quickly get caught up in the somewhat creepy romantic comedy premise. And Long’s character does redeem himself by the end – after a cleverly self-aware scene with his editor.

The romantic plot aside, the film is worth watching for two very hilarious scenes: one in which Sam Rockwell portrays a has been guitar teacher and the scene-stealing elderly dancer “Raymond” in the film’s finale.

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DVD Review: The Man on the Train

The Man on the Train is a quietly remarkable, intelligent, intensely poetic film about the unlikely and somewhat bittersweet friendship between two very different men.

A remake of the French film, L’Homme du Train, The Man on the Train stars U2’s Larry Mullen and the brilliant Donald Sutherland — the latter of which really deserved an Oscar for his performance.

Mullen effectively portrays a mysterious, sullen drifter whose chance encounter with a retired, lonely poetry professor (Sutherland) leads both men to examine their respective life paths and personalities.

As the silent drifter is forced to stay with the overly chatty professor, their initially stilted, socially awkward conversation grows into a thought-provoking dialogue spanning several days as each reveals their unexpected envy of the other’s life.

The unusual relationship is summed up best by two scenes: one in which the repressed professor pretends to be Wyatt Earp with the drifter’s gun and the other in which the tough drifter peruses books and listens to classical music with the professor’s unlit pipe in his mouth.

It’s a slow moving but beautiful, literary film with refreshingly elegant direction and acting.

A subtle suspense simmers just beneath the surface of the story as it becomes evident that both men hide their own deep, dark secrets…which come crashing into the light on their final day together. The end was a bit too darkly ambiguous for my taste (proving, I suppose, the Professor’s Henry James quote that “Americans want tragedies with happy endings”), but it was clever and I otherwise loved the film.

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Peter Gabriel: So (25th Anniversary Edition)

It’s hard to believe Peter Gabriel’s landmark album, So, is 25 years old. So is the rare ’80s album that sounds as if it could be a new release. In fact, it wasn’t until I listened to the new 25th Anniversary Edition that I realized just how much of Peter Gabriel’s influence can be heard in the moody music of bands like Gotye and Fun. as well as the worldlier sound of Xavier Rudd. Peter Gabriel’s remastered and expanded So – 25th Anniversary Edition will be released in several formats (see below for details) on October 23rd.

So opens with the brooding, dramatic “Red Rain.”

The hit single “Sledgehammer” follows. It remains an unusually constructed pop song and the quasi-Gospel crescendo of voices at the end still feels like a surprise.

Yet it’s the quiet, heart-stirring ballad “Don’t Give Up” that remains my favorite. A duet with guest vocalist Kate Bush, the song is a moving examination of someone at the end of their rope and an emotional plea for them to hold on to hope.

Strange as it may be, “Big Time” was one of the first songs whose lyrics I memorized (the first was Starship’s “We Built This City,” yes I was an ’80s child). The catchy pop song enjoyed similar success to “Sledgehammer,” most likely due to its similarly semi-animated video.

The album’s final ballad, “In Your Eyes,” may forever be remembered for its use in Say Anything‘s iconic boombox scene, but it’s still a beautiful love song in its own right.

So – 25th Anniversary Edition will be released as a stand alone remastered CD, a deluxe edition 3-disc boxset with 2 additional live discs, and a limited edition “Immersion” boxset with all of the above as well as an extra CD of song drafts, a vinyl LP of the album and 2 DVDs.

I received the 3-disc boxset version (pictured above) of the So – 25th Anniversary edition for review. The 3-CD boxset includes the original album and liner notes, postcard pictures of Gabriel from the era and a two-disc live album from the final So tour concert in Athens in 1987. The live discs include such other Peter Gabriel hits as “Shock the Monkey” and “Solsbury Hill.” I’m not usually fond of live albums, but the sound quality of the concert recording is remarkable and confirms Gabriel puts on a great show.

Buy So (25th Anniversary Remaster) CD @ Amazon

Buy So (25th Anniversary 3-CD Deluxe Edition) @ Amazon

Buy So (25th Anniversary Immersion CD/DVD/Vinyl Boxset) @ Amazon

Peter Gabriel Official Site