Review roundup

In the midst of the birthday week rush, I wanted to clear out some reviews of movies, books, and records that I’ve come across lately that you should check out. I’ve been meaning to write at more length about some of these, but just haven’t had the time. So here, blitzkrieg bop style is a quick roundup of each, starting with the films.

Films to watch

The Disappearance of Alice Creed

This is just a a good, old school thriller that was recommended to me by some co-workers. Most of the film takes place in a single apartment and follows two amateur crooks as they try to collect a ransom from the father of their rich kidnapping victim. Things, however, do not goes as planned thanks to some very well constructed plot twists. Recommended for fans of Hitchcock and well constructed crime thrillers.

The Trip

This British film is edited from a television sitcom of the same name, and stars one of my favorite actors and comedians, Steve Coogan as well as Rob Brydon, both playing fictionalized versions of themselves on a tour of high end eateries in Northern England. Along they way the trade one liners and impressions, take in some beautiful scenery, try to make sense of the culinary arts presented to them, and come to grips with their own lives. Funny always, but undercut with a very British sense of melancholy. Recommended for fans of The Office and Ricky Gervais.

The Muppets

Fair warning, I absolutely love The Muppets, so take my words here with a fanboys grain of salt. These two guys are looking down on my as I write this tonight.

The funniest duo in comedy.

Anyway, the new movie was just really a lot of fun, especially since it centered around putting on an episode of the old Muppet Show, which remains one of the funniest things ever to air on network TV. Plus it’s a throwback to an old kind of Hollywood movie, where everyone sings and dances and there are bad guys abound but they never get their way. Throw in some hilarious cameos, appearances by virtually every Muppet character ever (including Marvin Suggs and his muppaphone!), and some genuinely hilarious moments, and you’ve got an excellent reason to get to the theater to see this, kids or not. Recommended for people who enjoy laughter.

Books to Read

Codex, The Magicians, The Magician King – all by Lev Grossman

I read all three of Lev Grossman’s novels over the space of about a month, and enjoyed each to varying degrees, with the Magician King my favorite. One of the things I liked about all three books is that the “heroes” of each are reluctant ones, and sometimes are adamantly opposed to doing what is required of them. Eventually though, they do what needs to be done, whether by chance or plain old necessity. This is true of the first two books in the Magicians series especially, and makes a nice juxtaposition to the earnest Harry Potter characters that these books borrow and pay tribute to liberally (as well as many other fantasy novels, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe nods being my favorites). Recommended for those who think the prospect of a slacker Harry Potter sounds interesting.

Life – Keith Richards

It’s a book about Keith Richards’ life, do I really need to say anything else? Of course it is good. And it helps that’s Keef is a bit of a gossip, hilarious stories and asides abound in this really engrossing and surprisingly well told book. Recommended for fans of awesomeness.

Records to Buy

Running out of time so let’s cut to the chase.

Strange Mercy – St. Vincent

Standout track is Surgeon. Recommended for fans of Bat For Lashes and danceable PJ Harvey.

Hello Sadness – Los Campesinos!

The title track is the standout. I can’t tell whether this video is disturbing or just weird. Either way, the message is pretty clear: love stinks. Recommended for fans of witty wordplay, ringing pop songs and 90s style guitar feedback.

Long Live the King (EP) – The Decemberists

A nice companion piece to one of this year’s best albums, The King is Dead. Standout tracks are I 4 U and U 4 me and the playful take on the Grateful Dead’s Row Jimmy. Neither on of these is linked here, but Calamity Song from The King is Dead is plenty great enough anyway. Recommended for fans of witty wordplay and old school REM guitar licks.

Go forth and watch, read, and listen. Any interesting movies, books, or music that you have come across lately?



Posted on December 1, 2011, in Books, Movies, Music and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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