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Archive for August, 2007

TEST YOUR MIGHT! Quiz #3: Punk Goes to the Movies

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on August 18, 2007

So, mad props to Christopher Argento and Mitchell Stirling, both of whom scored a very impressive 19/20 on last week’s Sopranos quiz (interesting, both missing the same question–it’s eggs that are the harbinger of death throughout much of the series). Once again, I have no specific prizes yet, but if they have a request, the doors of IITS remain open to them.

Doing a little medium cross-breeding with this week’s quiz–all questions are about punk rock as it applies to modern cinema. Answers taken til Monday, and answers to last week’s of course at the end of this quiz.

1. What real-life punk band plays a a punk gang named “Street Scum” in Martin Scorsese’s 1983 movie The King of Comedy?

2. What 1981 documentary by Penelope Spheeris focused on Black Flag, X, The Germs, and other bands from the L.A. punk scene, followed a few years later by a sequel featuring L.A. metal bands?

3. What 2007 film features the band Green Day performing the movie’s title theme?

4. What future rock star had an early acting role as Nancy Spungen’s best friend in Alex Cox’s Sid and Nancy?

5. What two real-life punk/underground rock figures have a conversation at a bar in which they both point out the other one’s absence on the bar’s jukebox in Jim Jarmusch’s Coffee & Cigarettes?

6. What punk band covers “I Wanna Be Sedated” at the school dance in late-90s death comedy Idle Hands?

7. Matthew Lillard’s protagonist character in SLC Punk! shares his name with what reality TV figure?

8. In 24 Hour Party People, Tony Wilson relates a fictional account of how his first wife Lindsey cheated on him with what Manchester punk?

9. The Circle Jerks, The Untouchables, and LA radio personality Rodney Bingenheimer all have cameos in what 1984 cult comedy?

10. What ska-punk revivalists appear as the band that plays the club at Cher and Elton’s first date in Clueless?

11. What actor had a relatively early role as the journalist doing research for a piece on missing glam-rock idol Brian Slade, which provides the framing for Todd Haynes’ Velvet Goldmine?

12. Instrument was a documentary by Jem Cohen assembling ten years of footage about what late 80s and 90s punk band?

13. What indie rock band plays an anonymous but obviously Velvet Underground-esque Factory band in the movie I Shot Andy Warhol?

14. What three bands provide the focus for the grunge-era tour documentary 1991: The Year Punk Broke?

15. Dee Dee Ramone was such a failure of an actor that his lines in Rock and Roll High School were cut to two, both about what subject?

*******

And now last week’s answers:

1. A group of what type of animal shows up in Tony’s backyard in the series premiere, the departure of which arguably triggers his first panic attack? (Ducks)
2. Dr. Melfi’s own personal therapist, Dr. Eliot Kupferberg, is played by what filmmaker, best known for his 70s work? (Peter Bogdonavich)
3. What time of day does Christopher tell Paulie he was given as a message from Brendan Filone and Mikey Palmice on his possible trip to purgatory? (3:00)
4. What is Hesh’s actual first name? (Herman)
5. What Emmy-winning actress played Julianna Skiff, the realtor Tony almost gets involved with and Chris eventually starts an affair with in Season Six? (Julianna Margulies)
6. Analogous to the use of oranges symbolizing impending death or danger in The Godfather, what food product presages a number of deaths and misdoings in The Sopranos? (Eggs)
7. Finish Christopher’s quote from the season five episode “Long Term Parking”:

“Where the fuck have you been? You’re late!”
“Sorry, the highway was _____” (nine words) (Jammed with broken heroes on a last-chance powerdrive)
8. What three members of the Aprile family died in the show’s first three seasons, one per season? (Jackie, Richie, Jackie Jr.)
9. After a post-affair rebuking by his cousin’s wife, a film assistant played by Alicia Witt, Christopher refers to her by what derogatory film industry title, also the title of the episode? (“You fucking D-GIRL!”)
10. What 2005 comedy do AJ and Blanca watch on their first date? (The 40 Year Old Virgin)
11. What Oscar-nominated actor played a teacher of AJ’s that Carmela had a brief fling with during her season five separation from Tony? (David Straitharn)
12. What was the name of the horse co-owned by Tony and Ralphie in season four, whose demise is one of the main reasons behind Tony whacking Ralph? (Pie O My)
13. In the third-season episode Second Opinion, Junior insists on being treated by a certain doctor because he has what prestigious name? (Dr. John Kennedy)
14. What’s the name of the rock club owned by Adrianna and used by Christopher to conduct drug deals and other shady business? (The Crazy Horse)
15. What dehabilitating medical condition cuts short Silvio’s possible family coup during Tony’s sixth-season hospitalization? (Athsma)
16. What actor does Tony constantly refer to in his therapy sessions as wishing he could be more like, “the strong, silent type”? (Gary Cooper)
17. What’s the name of the lame dude Meadow gets engaged to in season five, disappearing without explanation in between the two halves of season six? (Finn Detrollo)
18. What is Paulie’s food-related nickname, related to a the contents of a truck he once hijacked, thought by Paulie to be full of electronics? (Walnuts)
19. What’s the name of the British band that does the show’s classic theme song, “Woke Up This Morning”? (Alabama 3, or A3 for us USers)
20. What is the three-word title to the show’s final episode? (Made in America)

Posted in TEST YOUR MIGHT | 3 Comments »

For the Love of God: Minimum Ten-Year Moratorium on Using “Cobrastyle” in Anything

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on August 17, 2007

Show “Punkrocker” some non-Cadillac love already

Using a song in more than one TV show or movie pretty much automatically cheapens its value more with each successive use. This was one of my main problems with The Girl Next Door, an otherwise fairly decent 21st century Risky Business update–all but one or two of the songs it used to underscore particularly emotional moments in the movie were already used in earlier, better movies. I find it particularly annoying, not just because it’s uncreative, but because it’s almost sort of insulting–as if it’s trying to say “this program/movie you are watching is the only worthwhile piece of pop culture that currently exists, therefore no other reference points are valid”. Bullshit.

At least The Girl Next Door used some pretty good songs, though. Teddybears’ “Cobrastyle,” a melange of accordion, “Rappers’ Delight”-inspired scatting, handclaps and (according to wikipedia) the piano riff from Fine Young Cannibals’ “Good Thing,” is easily one of the most grating, lowest common denominator-pandering, basically downright evil pop songs of the last few years. The pop charts were smart enough to avoid it, but the rest of the world wasn’t so fortunate. If you think you don’t know it, trust me, you do. Check out this utterly ridiculous (and once again, Wiki-cribbed) resume:

In the media

Fucking what the fuck. Dear Lord, it’s everywhere–not just movies and TV, but commercials, video games, sporting events, just about every possible venue for background music minus religious ceremonies, which can’t be more than a few months off. What’s worse, this isn’t even a time-concentrated sample–the incessant “Cobrastyle” usage started about two years ago, and it’s been consistently insistent ever since. By the time this blitz is over, Teddybears are going to be the richest band in the world to be unable to even sell out a 500-seater.

But all this was OK. Well, not OK, actually very fucking far from OK, but y’know, bearable, sort of. But then they had to go and use it in the trailer for the upcoming Harold & Kumar: High Alert.

UNACCEPTABLE.

Beyond unacceptable, really. Not like the Harold & Kumar producers really need to be held to such diamond standards, but c’mon, I thought at least they were above this. “Cobrastyle” is just such the song for a very restrained, PG-13 kind of zaniness–the kind of song that was designed for those awful “things are really HEATING UP on next week’s all-new Men in Trees!” previews. A movie whose raunchiness is as legitimate as the first Harold & Kumar‘s is shouldn’t need to put up with that shit (unless they’re planning on pulling a Major League II on us, in which case there is no God).

See, guys? This is why the big beat era should never have ended. In a world where Cyrstal Method and the Lo-Fidelity All-Stars were still roaming the planet, we never would’ve had to resort to this sort of heathenly pap.

Posted in For the Love of God | 9 Comments »

Say Anything: The Songs from the Superbad Trailers

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on August 16, 2007

I have waited a lifetime, spent my time so foolishly

With tonight’s long-awaited release of Superbad, I feel sort of like Kent Brockman in “Deep Space Homer,” anticipating the inevitable with great trepidation. For it is unknown whether Judd Apatow will consume Hollywood or merely enslave it, or if dorky up-and-comers Jonah Hill and Michael Cera will use this is a stepping stone to coked-out DUI-laden 20-something infamy, or if anyone will ever have cause to utter the words “Christopher Mintz-Plasse” again. But one thing is for certain, there is no stopping it–Superbad will soon be here.

And I, for one, welcome our new frat overlords. Like to remind them that as a respectted member of the blogging community, I can be helpful in rounding up extras to toil in their profanity-laden, purple-hazed mid-and-quarter-life-crisis comedies. Anyway, yes, I will be seeing Superbad at midnight tonight, and forgoing an extreme dry in topic matter, I won’t be writing about it, because it’s a completely foregone conclusion—of course it’s going to be awesome. There’s nothing really even approaching room for error.

So instead, I want to write about an aspect of the Apatow wing of the Frat Pack that’s gone somewhat overlooked–the ingenious use of pop music. Apatow, Mottola, McKay et al. aren’t exactly at a Scorsese or Anderson (Wes or P.T.) level of soundtracking yet, but they sure know how to play a song for its maximum musical (and more importantly, cultural) power–“Afternoon Delight” in Anchorman, “Heat of the Moment” in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” in Knocked Up, the examples are countless. Rather than using the songs as a sort of Voice of God background commentary, though, the FPers have the characters actually interacting with the songs, responding to whatever social associations the songs carry for them, and inviting the audience to do the same.

From the trailers, Superbad looks to be a fine continuance in this tradition. Here’s what we’ve got so far:

The Bar-Kays – “Too Hot to Stop” At first I just assumed that this song, played as the badass background music for Hill and Cera walking off the schoolbus in slow-motion, was Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Shining Star“. It’s got the same slow-burn funk rhythm, the same opening horn blast, even the same chords, I think. Looking it up at Wikipedia tells me that it’s actually this ’77 Bar-Kays number, and bully for them for using it–it might be the funkiest of the Bar-Kays songs I’ve heard, replete with vocoder hooks and even a trombone solo. Can’t wait to hear the more full-length version used in the movie.

Van Halen – “Panama This looks to be the breakout retro hit from Superbad, and it’s about fucking time. All three of the big 1984 singles would’ve worked brilliantly, but “Panama” is the least obvious and probably best choice for a movie soundtrack. There was just something so propulsive and exciting about those Roth-era Halen singles, and Eddie’s riffing on “Panama” is some of his most white-hot (the pre-chorus riff sounds like he’s actually burning his fingers on the guitar). Custom-made for scenes of cops doing donuts with underage kids in abandoned parking lots.

Foreigner – “Feels Like the First Time What I expect the entire to feel like, pretty much.

Posted in Say Anything | 2 Comments »

Mixed Emotions: Duran Duran f/ Timbaland & Justin Timberlake – “Night Runner”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on August 16, 2007

Talk to me, Simon


My excitement over the prospect of Duran Duran teaming up with Timbaland for their new album is well covered on this blog, and that excitement has little faded over the last few months. Despite some of Timbaland’s friskier attempts on solo album Shock Value to bridge the rap-rock divide turning out a little half-cocked (to be fair, collaborating with The Hives and She Wants Revenge is never really a great idea), Duran Duran have always been far more of a pop band, and given the critical and commercial success of that blue-eyed-funk-y Maroon 5 single, it seemed like Timbaland would be just the man to throw the unfortunate has-beens back in the spotlight they still so richly deserve.

And for all I know, he still might be. Comeback single “Night Runner,” which leaked in an unfortunately poor-quality rip via a stream on the Entertainment Weekly site, is definitely the fucking jam, no question. It’s the exact kind of fortune-reverser of a groove that revitalized Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake’s careers and gave people a reason to give a shit who D.O.E. and Keri Hilson are, the sort of shiny, breathy, sweat-soaked beat-rocker that Timbo has become Hitman #1 crafting these last few years. For all I know, it’ll give Duran Duran their first legitimate hit in over a decade, and I sincerely hope it does.

But as a Duran Duran single, it’s hard to view this as anything but a flop. Talking about “purity” with a band as crassly commercial as Duran Duran immediately verges on the hypocritical, but in any of the countless skins they’ve adopted in the past 25 years–new wave, disco, soul, adult contemporary, techno-pop, even a couple questionable stabs at hip-hop–however ill-advised, I could still feel Duran Duran’s presence behind the song. But even half a minute through “Night Runner,” it’s abundantly clear–this isn’t really Duran Duran featuring Timbaland, it’s Timbaland featuring Duran Duran.

And really, it’s just Timbaland featuring Guest Artist. It’s hard to tell, especially on such low quality an MP3, where Simon Le Bon ends and where Justin Timberlake begins on this track, but if you had told me that this was just one of the tracks on FutureSex/LoveSounds that I had somehow yet to hear, I’d probably have believed you. Le Bon’s vocal lacks any of the wailing urgency that made his singing on their dozen or so 80s classics so inimitable (and believe me, I’ve tried), his potential for stunning histrionics wasted in the song’s low whispers. As for the rest of the band–it’s sort of hard to hear where they even fit in to this track. How bored are Roger and John gonna be playing this song live?

Some people weren’t too thrilled with it, but I thought “Earth Intruders,” the Bjork / Timbo collab from earlier this year, was an awesome, hugely inventive single, and a perfect example of two entirely unique artists mind-melding to come up with something that’s not only totally new, but still bears the thumbprints of both artists. “Night Runner” just sounds like Duran Duran showing up at Timbaland’s doorstep with a pouty look and their hands out, and while it’s probably the best single the band’s put out in a decade or so, it’s definitely not what I was hoping for.

Oh, also, the song might actually be called “Nite Runner,” not “Night”–the Wikipedia entry lists it as the latter, but google has far more hits for the former. So don’t give me shit if it turns out to be the other one.

Posted in Mixed Emotions | 7 Comments »

Time of the Season: S1 of Six Feet Under (’01)

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on August 15, 2007

“I’ve never worked in a funeral home that was more depressing!”

Well, I’d put this one off as long as I could. I knew it was only a matter of time before I’d have to buckle down and watch the first season, and possibly the next four, of Six Feet Under–it’s just one of those shows that you can’t really write seriously about TV without having watched. But I was real fucking hesitant to do so, since barely anyone I knew seemed to much like the show, and I was rarely in the mood to watch ten or so straight hours of what I’d assume was going to be some of the most depressing and disturbing TV I’d ever watched.

It’s weird, though–I wasn’t sure exactly how I’d react to finally watching Six Feet Under, but I expected it to be bigger than the reaction I had. It wasn’t that depressing or that disturbing, it was just a bunch of episodes of significantly above-average relatively dramatic and blackly comedic television. It’s good, sure, but it didn’t really strike me as GREAT, and from everything that I’d heard about this show (a webboard I frequent recently voted it the #5 TV show of all-time), I was expecting something that either rocked my perceptions of what GREAT TV was, or something I didn’t give a shit about at all.

In case you somehow managed to avoid this show for even longer than I did, the central premise is this–Seattle-residing Nate Fisher (Peter Krause) is begrudgingly re-uniting with his family, who own and operate a funeral parlor out of their own home, for Christmas, when patriarch Nathaniel (Richard Jenkins) gets killed in a car accident. Nate decides to move back home to help run the family business after his father’s death, along with his uptight brother David (Michael C. Hall), his loner teen sister Claire (Denise Flemming from Can’t Hardly Wait) and their domineering, off-balance mother (Frances Conroy). In addition, Nate connects with Brenda, a woman he met on the plane in, having sex with her in an airport supply closet.

Needless to say, everyone and everything is fucked up. David is a closeted homosexual, having an affair with black cop Keith, who is growing increasingly frustrated at David’s secrecy. Claire becomes an outcast at her school after her asshole semi-boyfriend (Milo from 24) tells everyone that she sucked his toes (I had no idea this was such a sexual taboo, honestly). Mom has been having an affair for two years that only now does she tell her kids about (at the father’s funeral, no less). And Brenda is the worst of all, the daughter of two insane psychiatrists, and the sister of the most creepy-jealous brother since Joacquin Phoenix in Gladiator (Elton from Clueless). I said goddamn!

Really, though, all this insantiy doesn’t add up to too much more than a super-quirky drama, in an age where super-quirky dramas are increasingly becoming a dime a dozen. Honestly, it feels more like a Showtime show than an HBO one to me–more in common with those formulaic but off-kilter enough to remain compelling shows like Weeds or Dead Like Me than the grand, epic theatrics of a show like The Wire or The Sopranos. And too often, it feels like the show is shoving those quirks in your face, as if the characters were competing to see who could act the most unscrewed.

And some of the show’s quirks can be kind of grating. The idea of the funeral shop’s corpses talking to the main characters, voicing their insecurities and giving them the necessary closure, sort of works for the first episode, especially when it’s the father they’re talking to. But as the season goes on, it starts to feel kind of cheap, especially because these characters are literally speaking out loud to these characters, not just imagining conversations in their head. I mean yeah, these characters are all nutty and whatnot, but the idea of them all talking to imaginary people on a regular basis is a real stretch, and the amount the show uses it as an expository device (“Oh, so that’s what they were thinking!”) feels like cheating.

It’s not to say that I didn’t like the show. The characters are mostly pretty good, the set-up is interesting enough, and the acting is definitely all-around solid–it’s even got the same great sort of Tragedy of Suburbia look that made American Beauty so visually striking (no coincidence, as SFU creator Alan Ball wrote the film’s screenplay). But I’m just not seeing the greatness, or even the uniqueness, yet, and for a show that’s supposed to be so love-it-or-hate-it, it’s a little disappointing.

That said, it’s promising enough that I’m willing to believe that it might get better. I’ll probably end up seeing the show through, in any event, if for no other reason than because I keep hearing how perfect the series finale is, which I’ve only got about 50 more episodes to get through to get to. Dammit. Maybe I just need to stop talking to people about TV altogether.

Posted in Time of the Season | 5 Comments »

IITS Standing Order / Commercial Break: “Rip Things in Half” .Gif

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on August 13, 2007

Do it…..DO IT!!!!

Undoubtedly, if you’ve watched a shred of post-10:30 P.M. television in the last five or six months, you’ve seen this commercial at least once. Indeed, I’ve seen it far more than just once, especially sicne eventually I got to the point where just seeing it once on TV wasn’t enough anymore, and I would end up going to YouTube and rewinding the clip over three or four times to properly get my fix. It’s not even a very good commercial–in fact, I had to re-watch it just now to remind myself exactly what product it was advertising, and the connection between the commercial’s gimmick and the product it’s selling is a real fucking stretch.

But that dude. Oh, that dude. You know the one, he’s the only part of the commercial really worth remembering. I can’t even imagine how many people they auditioned to find just the right guy to yell “RIP THINGS IN HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALF!!while holding a coolatta in one hand and pumping his fist with the other, but goddamn was it time well spent. I just wish I possessed the technical wherewithal to put a freeze frame of the “RIP THINGS IN HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALF!!!!!” guy in all his ridiculous, metal-up-your-ass glory up there on the top of the page, to give him the immortality he deserves.

But then again, if I did, there probably wouldn’t be any need for this post. For you see, friends and well-wishers, ever since I first saw this commercial, my soul has itched for an endless loop of the RTIH guy, one I can watch for hours upon wasted hours, without having to sit through the rest of that otherwise largely unremarkable commercial. And that’s why I am prepared to make IITS’s first-ever STANDING OFFER:

.

$25 For a RTIHG .gif

.

That’s right. For a job that I imagine would most likely take competent internet folk at most a mere hour to complete, you can make yourself a princely, tax-free sum of $25. But before you get too excited at this hot proposition, let me just define the terms:

  • The .gif must be an appropriate size–say, anywhere in the 200-400 pixel range in height and width.
  • It must only consist of the Rip Things in Half Guy, and of no other part of the commercial.
  • In addition to the visual of seeing the RTIHG lip-synching his catchphrase, I would also like the phrase’s four words to appear on the screen, one at a time, as he says them. The appearance of the words should not obstruct the view of the RTIHG.

That should about do it. You can take your payment, once the .gif is provided, over paypal, or I can send you a check, or wire you the money, or personally fly to your continent of choice and deliver it to you in person, I don’t much care. And as the term “standing offer” implies, this offer is good for as long as IITS exists–that is, unless someone else takes it up first, at which point the deal of course becomes entirely null and void.

The $25 amount is negotiable, naturally. Wouldn’t push your luck too much on that, though, IITS’s World Series payday is still a couple months off.

Posted in Commercial Break, Standing Offer | 11 Comments »

100 Years, 100 Songs: #80. Otis Redding – “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on August 13, 2007

“Watchin’ the ships roll in / And then I watch ’em roll away again”

Untimely deaths have a way of imbuing even the most relatively inconsequential of songs with a sort of gravitas that would never have otherwise seem intended. It’s why John Lennon’s “(Just Like) Starting Over” sounds haunting and tragic instead of just boring and retro, why Blind Melon’s “No Rain” is far more likely to make you weep than smile despite being one of the most utopian songs of the 90s, and why INXS’s “Not Enough Time” temporarily became the definitive sound of a nation in mourning back in 1993. Or, at least, it might have if Michael Hutchense had killed himself about a half-decade earlier. Whoops.

And so when viewed in context with the plane crash that would claim Otis Redding’s life a mere few days after its recording, we tend to see the hard-earned tranquility of a song like “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” as something close to a transmission from the next world, saying that he’s finally achieved total peace and serenity. Which, especially when compared to the irrepressible energy of so many of Otis’s earlier hits, definitely carries some logic to it, but it’s an incomplete picture, since the song isn’t really quite the celebration of life’s doldrums that it initially seems.

Really, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” is closer to being the Waiting for Godot of 60s soul. Despite the blissful feeling of inactivity implied by the song’s famous chorus (“watchin’ the tides roll away / wastin’ time”), the verses are sort of unnerving in their despair over the inactivity. “I left my home in Georgia / Headed for the ‘Frisco bay / ‘Coz I got nothing to live for / And looks like nothing’s gonna come my way,” Otis bemoans, plagued by “this loneliness [that] won’t leave me alone”. This isn’t the statement of hope and faith implied by the last testament of the similarly taken-before-his-time Sam Cooke. This is Otis saying a change isn’t gonna come, and it’s fairly dispiriting to hear.

But there’s still a certain dignity to Otis’s acceptance of his static fate that keeps the song from ever lapsing into melodrama. It’s in the song’s climactic (and even somewhat empowered) bridge, in which Otis concludes “I can’t do what ten people tell me to do / So I guess I’ll remain the same, yeah.” It’s in the music, a sturdy, clipped rhythm punctuated by some exceptionally placed horns, and by the wave and bird sound effects that give the song its sealegs. And of course, it’s in Otis’s brilliant vocal, appropriately restrained and mellow but maintaining enough fire to make his going gently into that good night all the more heartbreaking.

Mostly, though, it’s in the whistling. Arguably the most famous whistle hook to ever appear on a modern pop song, the outro to “Dock of the Bay” says everything necessary to say that Otis couldn’t possibly vocalize in words. And I don’t even know what that is, exactly, but it’s something rousing and melancholy and peaceful all at the same time, and it’s one of the best musical epitaphs a legend like Otis could possibly have hoped for. And beyond that, it’s just an insanely catchy hook, so its use as the formative break for De La Soul’s similarly divine “Eye Know” 20 years later is both insanely inspired and totally unsurprising.

And even if Otis was still alive today, it’s hard to believe the song wouldn’t be just as powerful.

Posted in 100 Years 100 Songs | Leave a Comment »

Listeria / Don’t You Forget About Me: The Top Ten Reasons Go is So Underrated

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on August 11, 2007

“Just so we’re clear, you stole a car, shot a bouncer, and had sex with two women?

Go was one of the last movies I fought with my parents about letting me see back when it came out in 1999, and probably one of the bigger cinematic bones of contention I had with them. Caught in between my days of strictly commercial film viewing and my period of irrepressible film snobbery, Go was that rarest of creatures–the critically-acclaimed (or, at least, critically accepted, but I do remember my paper giving it 3 1/2 stars out of four) flick that also held the promise of decent amounts of car chases and nudity. Luckily, at the time, I found a loophole in my parents’ allowance that if I was with my friends when they were all watching a movie I wasn’t supposed to see, I didn’t have to be the only one preventing them from doing so, which I totally exploited to mean “it’s OK to rent whatever you want as long as you’re with your friends when you do it.” Heh.

I loved Go then, and watching it again for the first time almost a decade later, I still love it. It’s a movie very, very much of its time–more than any movie I can remember, it just feels like the late-90s–but it’s one that’s still held up remarkably well. Of all the “crazy intertwining action-filled plots hinging on bizarre coincidences and lots of pop culture references” movies to come out in the wake of Pulp Fiction, I’d say it’s the one that best manages to maintain its own identity, and it’s a damn shame that no one seems to care about this movie anymore.

So, ten reasons why maybe you should:

10. The Threesome Scene. Not quite as hot or explicit as I was hoping at the time, but probably one of the funniest sex scenes of recent years. British guy Simon, on a trip to Vegas with his friends, ends up smoking pot with a couple of bridesmaids from a nearby wedding, almost setting the room on fire when the tissues one of the girls stuffs in her nose to keep the smoke in nearly catches fire. The near-danger of the fire incites the three-way, but they don’t quite put it out entirely, and eventually the whole room goes in flames, forcing the three to flee naked for the elevator. The best part is how Simon initially dismisses the fire, despite it having spread to half the room, as a sort of common, “wow, things are really starting to get hot!” effect of good sex, before the fire alarm goes off and sort of snaps him into reality. Still funnier, though: Annette Benning getting nailed by Peter Gallagher in American Beauty. “FUCK ME, YOUR MAJESTY!”

9. Sookie’s Cameo As the Make-Up Guy’s Roommate. The movie’s third story, with Scott Wolf and Jay Mohr as closeted TV actors in a secret relationship with each other, is probably the weakest of the three, and the whole thing with cop William Fichtner and his wife trying to sell them on some Amway-esque retail company is just sort of weird. But the story at least has some humor in Mohr & Wolf finding out that they’ve been cheating on each other with the same dude, Jimmy, the make-up guy on their set. This is confirmed by Jimmy’s roommate, played by, of all people, Gilmore Girls‘ Melissa McCarthy, who can’t stop giggling when the two show up looking for him. “You know you guys once missed each other by like, three minutes?” she tells them.

8. The Chase Scenes. And there are a bunch, mostly in Simon’s Vegas story, but with at least one decent foot chase in Ronna’s (Sarah Polley) as well. Nothing too extraordinary, but good pursuits accompanied by good hi-octane music and the verve for action director Doug Limon would later bring to the first Bourne movie.

7. The Title. Simple, effective, and immediately energizing. Besides, nothing beats a good title reference in a movie’s dialogue, and with a title like Go, the flick packs in at least a dozen of ’em, and you probably wouldn’t even notice if you weren’t listening for it. Supposedly it’s also a drug reference as well, making it about as brilliant a title as Canadian rapper Snow’s Twelve Inches of Snow album (see if you can spot all three puns!)

6. Timothy Olyphant. He may have kicked off his career of playing teeth-clenched lowlifes as one of the villains of Scream 2, but his role as Todd, the scummy drug dealer in Go would make him one of the coolest That Guys of the last decade, before Deadwood would make him a leading man in earnest. Ripping on Family Circus, making creepy Breakfast Club jokes, saying lines like “I didn’t know we’d become such good friends, because if we had, you’d know that I give head before I give favors and I don’t even give my best friends head so your chances of getting a favor are pretty fucking slim.” Awesome guy.

5. The Poster.

I dunno, I always found it exciting for some reason. Especially that tagline.

4. The Rave. Growing up in the late-90s, practically a decade after the rave peaked in the UK as a legitimate social or musical movement, raves just mostly seemed like an excuse for American teenagers to take a lot of drugs, wear a lot of bright clothes and act like total idiots for a night. The rave scenes in Go–probably the first mainstream American movie to prominently feature one–confirmed all my brigest hopes (communal vibe, thrilling atmosphere, cool flashing lights) and worst fears (asshole drug dealers, terrible music) about what raves were actually like, as well as making me realize that I would never be either cool or lame enough to attend one. Oh well.

3. Katie Holmes. Watching this back-to-back with Magonlia a few nights ago was somewhat depressing. It’s almost hard to remember a time when I didn’t view Katie Holmes & Tom Cruise as totally insane fucks, incapable of genuine human emotion or relatability. At the time of Go, though, Katie Holmes was about the cutest, most innocent-seeming creature in US popular entertainment, and her scenes in the movie as Claire, Ronna’s best friend and temporary drug collateral, while frustratingly devoid of actual sex or nudity (The Gift was still a few years away at this point) were still fairly heart-tugging. Holds up better than Disturbing Behavior, at least.

2. The Soundtrack. Go is what partying like it’s 1999 would actually sound like. Filled with trashy, third-tier big beat and trip-hop groups (Lionrock, BT, Esthero) and other quintessentially 90s artifacts like Eagle-Eye Cherry, Natalie Imbruglia, and Philip Steir’s 90s so-cal update of Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride,” the soundtrack really couldn’t possibly be more of its time and place. And it even includes two legitimate gem singles, No Doubt’s super-underrated non-album “New” and LEN’s bubblegum classic “Steal My Sunshine”.

1. The Last Line. The best part of Go isn’t any of the individual stories, but the way they all come together at the end. Then as Ronna and Claire return to work the next day after a Christmas night of bad drug deals, attempted murder and stairwell sex, they realize they forgot to retrieve Mannie–their X-dropping friend that Ronna had to hide at the rave under a piece of scrap metal when his dry-heaving was slowing down her escape from the pissed-off Todd. They go back to the now-empty rave site and discover aqhighly groggy Mannie in the exact same place Ronna left him. Finding Ronna’s car and driving back to work, Mannie gets the film’s should’ve-been-classic closing line–“So…what are we doing for New Years?”

Still holding out for a sequel.

Posted in Don't You Forget About Me, Listeria | 5 Comments »

TEST YOUR MIGHT! Quiz #2: The Sopranos

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on August 10, 2007

Pop quiz, hotshot

First of all, congrats to Bonnie H. and her winning performance on last week’s Spoken Word lyrics quiz. What she wins, if anything, is still yet to be determined, but if she has a particular request, the full services of Intensities in Ten Suburbs are at her services. The answers, for those of you that are still curious, will be at the end of this blog post, but before that, we have the questions to quiz #2, this time for possible the most regularly blogged-about show here at IITS, the recently departed Sopranos. Be warned, some of the questions tend to be geared towards the obsessive, but honestly, is there any other sort of Sops fan?

E-mail me your answers at fadeout95@gmail.com. And for the record, no, the questions are not swiped from the trivia game pictured above. And spoiler alerts, obviously.

1. A group of what type of animal shows up in Tony’s backyard in the series premiere, the departure of which arguably triggers his first panic attack?

2. Dr. Melfi’s own personal therapist, Dr. Eliot Kupferberg, is played by what filmmaker, best known for his 70s work?

3. What time of day does Christopher tell Paulie he was given as a message from Brendan Filone and Mikey Palmice on his possible trip to purgatory?

4. What is Hesh’s actual first name?

5. What Emmy-winning actress played Julianna Skiff, the realtor Tony almost gets involved with and Chris eventually starts an affair with in Season Six?

6. Analogous to the use of oranges symbolizing impending death or danger in The Godfather, what food product presages a number of deaths and misdoings in The Sopranos?

7. Finish Christopher’s quote from the season five episode “Long Term Parking”:

“Where the fuck have you been? You’re late!”
“Sorry, the highway was _____” (nine words)

8. What three members of the Aprile family died in the show’s first three seasons, one per season?

9. After a post-affair rebuking by his cousin’s wife, a film assistant played by Alicia Witt, Christopher refers to her by what derogatory film industry title, also the title of the episode?

10. What 2005 comedy do AJ and Blanca watch on their first date?

11. What Oscar-nominated actor played a teacher of AJ’s that Carmela had a brief fling with during her season five separation from Tony?

12. What was the name of the horse co-owned by Tony and Ralphie in season four, whose demise is one of the main reasons behind Tony whacking Ralph?

13. In the third-season episode Second Opinion, Junior insists on being treated by a certain doctor because he has what prestigious name?

14. What’s the name of the rock club owned by Adrianna and used by Christopher to conduct drug deals and other shady business?

15. What dehabilitating medical condition cuts short Silvio’s possible family coup during Tony’s sixth-season hospitalization?

16. What actor does Tony constantly refer to in his therapy sessions as wishing he could be more like, “the strong, silent type”?

17. What’s the name of the lame dude Meadow gets engaged to in season five, disappearing without explanation in between the two halves of season six?

18. What is Paulie’s food-related nickname, related to a the contents of a truck he once hijacked, thought by Paulie to be full of electronics?

19. What’s the name of the British band that does the show’s classic theme song, “Woke Up This Morning”?

20. What is the three-word title to the show’s final episode?

******

And now, the answers to last week’s quiz:

1. “Yeah, we’re runnin’ a little hot tonight…I can barely see the road from the heat comin’ off of it…Ah, you reach down, between my legs….ease the seat back…” (’84) (Van Halen’s “Panama”)

2. “You can do anything you set your mind to, man.” (’02) (Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”)

3. “I’m not about to go and cheat on you, just like you did…But baby, that’s all right, hah, I love you anyway. And I’m still gonna be with you until my dying day. Right now, I’m just in so much pain, ‘coz you just won’t come back to me, will you? Just come back to me!” (’92) (Boyz II Men, the kings of the mid-song monologue, “End of the Road”)

4. “And this is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. To tell you, the woman I love, that I’m about to have a baby, by a woman I barely even know. I hope you can accept the fact that I’m man enough to tell you this, and hopefully you’ll give me another chance. This ain’t about my career. This ain’t about my life. It’s about us. Please…” (’04) (Usher’s “Confessions, Pt. 2”)

5. “Now, usually, I don’t do this, but, uh…gonna go ‘head and break ‘em off a little preview of the remix…” (’03) (R. Kelly’s “Ignition (Remix)”)

6. “Like I always say…what’s good for the goose…is always good for the gander.” (’85) (Ready for the World’s “Oh Sheila”)

7. “When the doctor told me I was gonna, um…I was gonna have a metal plate in my chin…I said, ‘Doc, don’t you realize I’ll never make it on the plane now? It’s bad enough I got all this jewelry on.’” (’03) (Kanye West’s “Through the Wire”)

8. “Now come on, what was I supposed to do? He was out of town, and his two friends were sooooooo fiiiiiiiiine……” (’96) (Los Del Rio’s “Maccarena”)

9. “You know what I’m saying? I got every dog in the neighborhood breaking my door down. I got Spuds MacKenzie…Alex from Stroh’s…” (’89) (Tone-Loc’s “Funky Cold Medina”)

10. “Honey, check it–tell your friends…to get with my friends…and we could be friends. Honey, shit, we could do this every weekend! A’ight? Is that a’ight wit you? Yeah…keep bangin.’…” (’94) (The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Big Poppa”)

11. “Get crazy with the cheese wiz!” (’94) (Beck’s “Loser”)

12. “C’mon girls! Do you believe in love? ‘Coz I got something to say about it! And it goes something like this…” (’89) (Madonna’s “Express Yourself”)

13. “C’mere baby…you know you drive me up the wall, the way you make good on all the nasty tricks you pull…seems like we’re making up more than we’re making love. And it always seems you got someone on your mind other than me.” (’93) (Aeromsith’s “Crazy”)

14. “Hey now ladies…we’re gonna break this thing down for just a few seconds. Now don’t have me break this thing down for nothing! I wanna see y’all on y’all baddest beahvior! Lend me some sugar, I am your neighbor!” (’03) (OutKast’s “Hey Ya!”)

15. “Good heavens, Mrs. Yakamoto–you’re beautiful!” (’82) (Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me With Science”)

16. “Ring the bell, school’s back in, sucka!” (’90) (MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This”)

17. “Darkness falls across the land, the midnight hour is close at hand…Creatures crawl in search of blood, to terrorize your neighborhood…” (’82) (Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”)

18. “Wooh, yes sir. I give to the needy…and not the greedy. Uh-huh, that’s right. “Coz you see, baby…when you’re lying…YOU’RE LOSING! AND I’M OUT THE DOOR!” (’92) (En Vogue’s “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)”)

19. “All right…I got something to say! Yeah, it’s better to burn out…than fade away!” (’83) (Def Leppard’s “Rock of Ages”–not quite Neil Young’s “Hey Hey, My My” and the year is wrong for that anyway)

20. “You know, I used to dream about this, when I was a little boy. I never thought it would end up this way…DRUMS!” (’02) (Justin Timberlake’s “Like I Love You”)

Posted in TEST YOUR MIGHT | 3 Comments »

OMGWTFLOL: 2007 VMA Nominees Announced

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on August 9, 2007

Get ready to ignite

There’s never really been a time when I haven’t dreaded the coming of September, but one of the things that always got me through returning to grade school was the promise of the upcoming Video Music Awards. The music video is generally a medium that never got the respect I felt it deserved, and even though it has only a fraction of the cred of even The People’s Choice Awards, it’s nice to see there’s at least one institution attempting to construct a canon of sorts for it. Add in the obligatory self-conscious attempts at creating paradigmatic pop culture moments (the Britney/Christina/Madonna kiss of ’03 being the worst/hottest offender) and you know I’m still watching every year.

The nominees this year, though, are a little different. Announced yesterday, at least half the categories have been jettisoned, including all the genre awards (Best Rock Video, Best Hip-Hop Video, Dance, R&B, Pop, etc.), most of the technical awards (Best Cinematography, Special Effects, Art Direction, etc.) the MTV2 Award, even the Viewer’s Choice Award. Taking their place are a number of extremely vague categories like “Most Earthshaking Collaboration,” “Quadruple Threat of the Year,” and “Monster Single of the Year,” which seem totally arbitrary, even for the VMAs. And then the majority of the surviving categories are no longer for the videos, but for the artists themselves–Best Female Artist, Male Artist, New Artist, and Group. Another knife in the back of the medium MTV practically birthed itself.

The weirdest thing of all this year, though, has got to be the nominees for Best Video, the one surviving major category to still be for the video itself. Check out the six hopefuls:

Video of the Year
Amy Winehouse: “Rehab”
Beyoncé: “Irreplaceable”
Justice: “D.A.N.C.E.”
Justin Timberlake: “What Goes Around … ”
Kanye West: “Stronger”
Rihanna (featuring Jay-Z): “Umbrella”

See if you can spot the one that doesn’t quite fit in. I mean, I wouldn’t have quite expected “Rehab” or “Stronger” (which has been around for what, three weeks?) to grab a nod for top honors, but those were at least genuine hits (or are well on their way to being, at least). But Justice’s “D.A.N.C.E.“? I mean, the song’s been the toast of the blogosphere for a few months now, but aside from catching it once or twice on MTVU, I had no idea it had even touched the mainstream yet. It hasn’t charted anywhere, and though I’m not exactly watching the channel all the time these days, I had no idea it was even on MTV’s register. I personally don’t even like the song that much, but it’s crazy to see the French dance-pop duo get this kind of exposure.

The VMAs are gonna be in Vegas this year, with performances from Chris Brown, Lily Allen, Kanye West, Timbaland, Foo Fighters, Amy Winehouse and Fall Out Boy, among others. Here’s the complete list of nominees:

Video of the Year
Amy Winehouse: “Rehab”
Beyoncé: “Irreplaceable”
Justice: “D.A.N.C.E.”
Justin Timberlake: “What Goes Around … ”
Kanye West: “Stronger”
Rihanna (featuring Jay-Z): “Umbrella”


Male Artist of the Year
Akon: “Don’t Matter,” “I Wanna Love You” (featuring Snoop Dogg), “Smack That” (featuring Eminem)
Kanye West: “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” “Stronger,” “Classic (Better Than I’ve Ever Been” — DJ Premier remix, featuring Nas, KRS-One and Rakim)
Justin Timberlake: “Let Me Talk To You/ My Love,” “SexyBack” (featuring Timbaland), “What Goes Around … ”
T.I.: “Big Things Poppin’ (Do It),” “You Know What It Is” (featuring Wyclef Jean), “What You Know”
Robin Thicke: “Can U Believe,” “Lost Without U,” “Wanna Love You Girl” (remix, featuring Busta Rhymes and Pharrell)


Female Artist of the Year
Amy Winehouse: “Rehab,” “You Know I’m No Good”
Beyoncé: “Irreplaceable,” “Beautiful Liar” (featuring Shakira)
Fergie: “Big Girls Don’t Cry (Personal),” “Glamorous” (featuring Ludacris), “Fergalicious” (featuring Will.I.Am)
Nelly Furtado: “Maneater,” “Say It Right”
Rihanna: “Umbrella” (featuring Jay-Z)


Best New Artist
Amy Winehouse: “Rehab,” “You Know I’m No Good”
Carrie Underwood: “Before He Cheats”
Gym Class Heroes: “Clothes Off,” “Cupid’s Chokehold/ Breakfast in America”
Lily Allen: “Alfie,” “Smile,” “LDN”
Peter Bjorn and John: “Young Folks”


Best Group
Fall Out Boy: “This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race,” “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs”
Gym Class Heroes: “Clothes Off,” “Cupid’s Chokehold/ Breakfast in America”
Linkin Park: “What I’ve Done”
Maroon 5: “Makes Me Wonder”
White Stripes: “Icky Thump”


Most Earthshattering Collaboration
Akon (featuring Eminem): “Smack That”
Beyoncé and Shakira: “Beautiful Liar”
Justin Timberlake (featuring Timbaland): “SexyBack”
Gwen Stefani (featuring Akon): “The Sweet Escape”
U2 (featuring Green Day): “The Saints Are Coming”


Quadruple Threat of the Year
Beyoncé
Bono
Jay-Z
Justin Timberlake
Kanye West


Monster Single of the Year
Avril Lavigne: “Girlfriend”
Daughtry: “Home”
Fall Out Boy: “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs”
Lil Mama: “Lip Gloss (No Music)”
T-Pain (featuring Yung Joc): “Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin’)”
Timbaland (featuring Keri Hilson, D.O.E. and Sebastian): “The Way I Are”
MIMS: “This Is Why I’m Hot”
Plain White T’s: “Hey There, Delilah”
Rihanna (featuring Jay-Z): “Umbrella”
Shop Boyz: “Party Like A Rock Star”


Best Director
Beyoncé and Shakira: “Beautiful Liar” (director: Jake Nava)
Christina Aguilera: “Candyman” (directors: Matthew Rolston and Christina Aguilera)
Justin Timberlake: “What Goes Around …” (director: Samuel Bayer)
Kanye West: “Stronger” (director: Hype Williams)
Linkin Park: “What I’ve Done” (director: Joseph Hahn)
Rihanna (featuring Jay-Z): “Umbrella” (director: Chris Applebaum)


Best Editing in a Video
Beyoncé and Shakira: “Beautiful Liar” (editor: Jarett Figl)
Gnarls Barkley: “Smiley Faces” (editor: Ken Mowe)
Justin Timberlake: “What Goes Around …” (editor: Hollee Singer)
Kanye West: “Stronger” (editors: Peter Johnson and Corey Weisz)
Linkin Park: “What I’ve Done” (editor: Igor Kovalik)


Best Choreography in a Video
Beyoncé and Shakira: “Beautiful Liar” (choreographer: Frank Gatson)
Chris Brown: “Wall To Wall” (choreographers: Rich & Tone and Flii Styles)
Ciara: “Like A Boy” (choreographer: Jamaica Craft)
Eve: “Tambourine” (choreographer: Tahesha Scott)
Justin Timberlake (featuring Timbaland): “SexyBack” (choreographer: Marty Kuldeka)

Posted in OMGWTFLOL | 9 Comments »