In their penultimate week of discussing Mad Men season 2, AJ, Kenn, and Joe take a look at “The Inheritance,” in which the Drapers experience a stroke of bad luck; “The Jet Set,” the charming tale of a young German man whose quest is to overcome adversity to see a Bob Dylan concert; and “The Mountain King,” wherein Don meets an old friend out Californee way. Plus, Hamm Watch makes its triumphant return!
Late one evenin’, the boys were recordin’
Talkin’ about Bob Dylan
How AJ saw him live
To see if he was still freewheelin’
Paul, he said he liked Oblivion
Oh, that Tom Cruise
Hemlock Grove, Paul liked the pilot
AJ thought it’d make him snooze
And Boston unfolded right before our eyes
Police scanners heard
Fake tweets and false news
Also, Paul was attacked by a bird and now threatened by a herd
Tangled up in bluuuuuuebirds
Next: the Summer Movie Preview!
I’ve often wondered about tribute acts. What’s it like to devote your life to recreating the sounds of another band? Don’t you ever want to play your own material? The tribute groups I’d seen before were Beatles acts, and though some of them were very impressive (I’ve seen Rain twice, and I’d like to see them again), they attempted to slavishly recreate everything about the band, which included adopting fake Liverpudlian accents and calling each other “John” or “Ringo.” Inevitably, a little something was lost in translation. As Lez Zeppelin took the stage at Musica here in Akron, Ohio, this past Saturday, I was curious to see how they would attempt to recreate the sound and fury of Led Zeppelin, especially since their gimmick is that–as their name implies–they’re an all-girl band.
Turns out, their gimmick isn’t so much a gimmick. From the moment they launched into a ferocious “Immigrant Song,” all of my questions seemed suddenly irrelevant. Lez Zeppelin rocks so hard that you don’t want to think about why they would perform the music of a decades-gone band; you just want to revel in the how. And how, indeed. Musica is a pretty small place, one that would seem more suited to opening act Thom Chacon, a Dylanesque singer-songwriter. Yet those close quarters played to the band’s strengths. I’m sure they can kick up quite a ruckus in a larger venue, but at Musica, the audience simply found itself dwarfed by sheer, glorious noise.
Paul and I rambled on and on about our favorites of 2011 in our second season finale, but that isn’t gonna stop us from rambling some more. This is the first in a series of top 10s that will be spread out over the next couple weeks; the rest will concern television, albums, and comic books.
But first, a word about lists. Paul has described my obsession with list-making as a “sickness,” and that’s probably close to the truth. However, even one such as I, beholden to rating and ranking everything known to man, know that these kinds of things are imperfect, to put it lightly. For one, no matter how all-inclusive you try to be, there’s always going to be a movie (or show, or comic, etc.) that you somehow missed; for example, as of this writing, neither Paul nor I have seen The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Shame, or Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, just to name a few. And more importantly, lists are always subject to how their makers feel at the moment they’re making them. Each of our top 10s represent the movies we love right now, and with the exception of our #1 choices, their order could be fluid, changing from day to day, mood to mood.
Right now, though? These are the films we adore, and which we feel exemplify 2011.
PAUL: 10. RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (dir. Rupert Wyatt)
The summer blockbuster that was better than any of us had any right to expect. Not only a remarkably capable relaunch/reboot of a beloved but dated franchise, but also just a damned good popcorn flick in its own right. Andy Serkis brings heart and humanity (pun intended) to the “inhuman” protagonist. It’s Pinocchio and Moses and Che Guevara.
AJ: 10. GEORGE HARRISON: LIVING IN THE MATERIAL WORLD (dir. Martin Scorsese)
It has been lazy shorthand for decades to refer to George Harrison as the “quiet Beatle,” and though that might have a kernel of truth to it, the man himself was far more complex. Publicly, he was quiet because he desperately hated fame; professionally, he was quiet during the Beatle years because John and Paul vetoed his material, and later, because he was content with tending to his family and to his garden. Martin Scorsese’s Bob Dylan documentary No Direction Home definitively captured that 60s icon’s brilliance and enigma, and while Living in the Material World doesn’t quite do the same for this 60s icon, it comes close enough. In the first part of this two-part doc, the entire life cycle of The Beatles is rehashed yet again, though considering it’s Scorsese at the helm, it remains of interest. It’s in the second part, however, when things truly come alive. By telling of his unsung career as a film producer, enticing candid stories from a number of those closest to him, and showing private home movies, Scorsese paints a portrait of Harrison as a man perpetually struggling to reconcile his spirituality with his materialism, caught between divinity and mortality.
Gobbledygeek episode 40, “Etewaf,” is available for download right here. This week, we discuss how certain creators gain or break our trust as audience members, and how far we’d be willing to follow them into the abyss. Those discussed include Richard Kelly, Neil Gaiman, Joss Whedon, Bob Dylan, and Robert Plant, among others. Following that, we take a look at upcoming DVD releases, I share my thoughts on Megamind, and Paul talks about re-reading Watership Down for the first time in years as well as reading the acclaimed graphic novel Return of the Dapper Men for the first time.
Next week: Saturday morning cartoons!
Are you ready to get chills?
“Why do you live?” “Because I have something to live for.”
Yeah, you got chills.
As I’ve said before, I’ve been lukewarm on the latter films in the series, but I thought Half-Blood Prince was a step in the right direction and I’m really hoping that David Yates can bring everything to a satisfying close. This trailer is certainly promising, with plenty of thrills, tears, and wonderful photography.
Man, I’m having to relive the end of Harry Potter all over again. I can’t believe it’s been nearly a decade since the first movie, and 13 years since the first book. Wow. The times, they are a-changin’…
Hey, Mr. AJ is a new column in which I plan on writing some things about the new music I hear. They’ll be brief reviews, divided into sections: MAXIMUM GOBBLING for the masterpieces; GOBBLE IT for the merely great; WORTH GOBBLING for other good releases; GOBBLE? for those albums which aren’t really good or bad, just sort of okay; DO NOT GOBBLE for the shitty; and RUN, DON’T GOBBLE! for the awful. Got it? Now, don’t ask me again.
by Tame Impala
I’m a Beatlemaniac, so I see the Beatles everywhere. Bear with me. On their debut album Innerspeaker, Australian psych-rock band Tame Impala manage to do what the Olivia Tremor Control did on 1996’s masterful Music from the Unrealized Film Script, Dusk at Cubist Castle; without compromising their creativity or their own unique vision, they capture the spirit of the post-Sgt. Pepper, pre-Abbey Road Beatles. Specifically, both albums remind me of the more freewheeling psychedelic cuts on Yellow Submarine, like George Harrison’s “It’s All Too Much.” Indeed, lead singer Kevin Parker’s voice reminds me of Harrison’s in that soaring, nasally way, which also makes it at times resemble John Lennon’s. But as I said, this is no rip-off, and Tame Impala sound like their own band, embracing the hazier realms of psychedelia that the Fab Four rarely did. It’s misty, delightful music that lulls you into another world with its spiraling distorted guitars, insistent drums, and far out yet pleasingly retro production techniques. Innerspeaker hasn’t made its way to the States yet, but whenever you get the chance, take a listen. You’ll be glad you did.