Music, etc.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Daniel Johnston at Warsaw- 5.15.07

Last night, standing up close to one of the best and most inspirational songwriters of all time, I realized that there was nothing to fear in life. If only for a brief moment, I felt a part of the collective unconscious; felt part of something larger than myself. Although he did not play any songs off of "Don't Be Scared," the same message rung through on each tune.

Daniel looked very good on stage. His medication, which makes him shake, also made him very personable and calm on stage. He told a few jokes (none of them anti-semitic) and even mentioned how he got into trouble for some comments he made recently. Also, he was very personal with the audience, expressing his worries on growing old and his wanting for a scientific agent to extend life. "I think this is the generation who wants to live forever," Daniel said; completely serious, completely hilarious.

Daniel painted beautiful songs of universal pain, but also universal happiness. He started the night with an acoustic guitar, by himself at first and then an old buddy (I don't remember the name). They played some classics, including "Do You Really Love Me?," "Silly Love," and the first track off of his first tape, "Grievances," which he has not played in quite some time. It was truely a special moment to be a part of.

After his friend played with him, a band came out and backed him up. He seemed really into the rock n' roll vibe and was obviously having a great time playing with a full band. The continued with more classics, "Walking the Cow," "Rock & Roll/EGA," and "Speeding Motorcycle." I was only really into the band for "Speeding Motorcycle," but for the most part, they acted like it was their concert instead of Daniel's, which was not cool.

There were times when you could tell he wanted them to stop playing, but they continued. The drummer was very good though and he seemed to really appericiate Daniel. After Daniel left, the drummer was off, meanwhile the rest of the band recieved the applause meant for Daniel. All in all though, Daniel really enjoyed playing with the band, so I can't get too angry at them.

After the band headed off, Daniel came back on stage for a beatiful rendition of "True Love Will Find You in the End." It was a really special moment and brought tears to my eyes. Immediatly after his second encore of "Devil Town (sing-a-long)," he went to the Warsaw food section and got himelf a plate. A crowd of people stood and stared at him while he was seemingly unaware that his prescence made any difference. My friend was able to tell him what a great show it was and even managed to get a hand shake.

I have no idea what he has planned for tonight, but after the energy and prescence he had last night, it should be an amazing show. I'm also expecting to see come celebrities, being part of the Highline Festival and all. I'll post the review for that one tommorow.

Grievances (From "Songs of Pain")

Friday, May 04, 2007

Spider-Man 3

Ever since 2004's "Spider-Man 2," (a film I consider to be the greatest comic-book movie ever made and one of the best movies so far this decade) left me on the edge of my seat, I've been long anticipating the next installment in the series.

I'm still decideing if the movie was as good as I thought it was or if I just went into it with such high expectations that I didn't want to let myself down. After some though, though, I recoginze that it is a mix of both, but mainly the part about it being a great movie.

I am not a comic book guy. I didn't watch this movie, nor any other Spiderman, and criticize it for differences to the comic book. I don't care that they didn't call Venom by his name and rather had him wander around aimlessly. I don't care that Stan Lee makes a cameo. If you want to read the comic, more power to you, but don't expect the same plots to pan out on the big screen. Think of it as a movie, rather than as a comic-book movie. As a movie, this is the most entertaining 2 hours I have spent in a theater in quite some time.

"Spider-Man 3" is not your sit down, munch popcorn and be mindlessly humorored kind of entertainment, though. Sam Raimi does an excellent job to furthur continue the saga of Peter and Mary Jane. Once again, not being a comic book guy, I don't care especially much about the villians and I am most concerned with the webed hero an his girl. Luckily for me (but not so much the comic-book people), this seems to be Raimi's approach too.

The film also has a certain sense of humor that was lacing in the first two installments. The montage of newly dressed, fly, Peter Parker is pretty hilarious. The Bruce Campbell cameo is also very funny. My complaint about the scene though is that they threw Bruce in there strictly because they knew he would draw a crowd reaction. If they put him as a character that would have been good, even with Bruce playing him, they could have doubled the awesomeness potential.

Seriously, Toby Maguire hit a "god damn" home run with this movie. I am even going to go as far as to say that he should be nominated for best actor when it comes time for Oscar season. Spiderman is at a dark period of his life and Maguire portrays this cross roads perfectly. He doesn't overact the drama, but rather he uses subtle facial expressions to convey his growing frustrations about being a hero.

Problems at work and a handful of evil villians are ruining Spidermans already depleting relationship with the woman he loves. There are even instances, and this is the first time in the entire series that I have noticed, that you are not rooting for Spidy. There are moments, when in confusion, he does some pretty horrible things. Toby plays Spiderman better than I could ever think possible. And since Raimi deides to focus mainly on the inner struggles of the hero, Maguire has a lot to work with.

All of the focus on plot, though, did not take away from the films stunning visuals. The fight scenes look absolutely spectacular. The villians are plentiful and Spiderman seems to finally have the odds stacked aginst him. A situation like that definatly will not help any problems at home.

Along with the Harry Osborne's alter ego, Hobgoblin, we are intriduced to Venom (once again, not refered to as Venom), played by "that 70's show" star Topher Grance and the Sandman, played by Thomas Haden Church. The two villians are extremely underdeveloped, having both spawned in this movie alone. The point though, is that the villians are secondary to Raimi's vision. Venom and Sandman come out of no where and still manage to bring suspense, along with great action scenes. If they can do it now, why can't they pull this same thing for furture installments?

A lot of the action and major events take place in the third act. In fact, "a whole lotta shit goes down." Some of the events, people are not going to like, people are going to bitch about. I do believe that entirely too (seriously, entirely) much happens in the final fifteen minutes. But it was a bold move; a risk the filmmakers decided to take. They didn't play it safe and I have to respect that. Some of the times, making a bold move here or there seperates a good movie from a great movie. This one falls into the latter category.

A film so important, so massive, is not going to rest without scrutiny. The film is not going to please everyone; but if you sit back and let it do its thing, you get a great piece of cinema. There are literary hundreds of different ways this movie could have gone and it seems as though most people do not like this one merely because it did not go their way as opposed to it actually be sub par.

I loved the awesome Spiderman charcater development that we've learned to expect from "Spiderman 2" and the fight scenes look absolutly amazing. As far a super hero movies go, the Spiderman franchise is king. "Spiderman 3" is no exception.