Tom Green hospitalized in Central America

Tom Green
Tom Green was hospitalized this past week in Central America after a fishing accident. While testing out a new rod on some rocks by the ocean, a massive wave hit throwing Tom against the rocks, breaking several of his ribs. After walking to his house covered with blood, gasping for air, town locals took him to a hospital. Still feeling pain, he is back at his house there recovering and updating his blog, where he goes into much further detail of his near death experience. Read it here.

Natalie Portman pulls a “Lazy Sunday”

Natalie PortmanWatching Saturday Night Live last night I knew this would be on the Internet within hours, and I was right. I’m sure many of those who weren’t caught off by this live might be more critical this time around, directly comparing both skits as though SNL knows they had a hit and that’s the only thing they do now. But while “Lazy Sunday” went hardcore about cupcakes and childrens fantasy films, this time Natalie Portman just went straight hardcore, cut between shots of her doing an insipid interview. The sketch also features Samberg and Parnell again, and maybe one of the best parts of the sketch is that Natalie is actually… pretty good. Her voice seems to have been tampered a bit with, but she ends up sounding quite a bit like Lady Sovereign. Hopefully SNL won’t wait too long to put video up this time, but for now you can check it out on YouTube. . Oh, and anyone who finds me an mp3 is my friend.

Bonus – Natalie’s SNL monologue

Live Action Simpsons Intro

Simpsons For years many people wondered what a live action Simpsons would look like. That is, without tonnes of yellow makeup, four fingers on each hand, plastic looking buildings and cartoony colors. Well a video has just popped up on Youtube that shows exactly what that would look like. I’m not sure exactly where it came from but the research I did do seems to indicate it is a promo made for SkyTV (a British Television station) for the Simpsons. This seems a reasonable explanation considering in the video Marge is driving on the “British” side of the car (yet Homer drives on the other?). There’s other things within the video people would certainly gripe about, such as Lisa’s hair for example, but overall its a well made video that’s sure to be emailed to everyone in the whole world. Watch it here

Strangers With Candy: Season 3

Strangers With Candy: Season 3 (DVD)

SWC
Strangers With Candy was a cult show on Comedy Network that aired around 2000, which I had actually never heard of until this year. It’s a sitcom that follows the format of cheesy after school specials, and is noteworthy for two main reasons – it stars and was written by Stephen Colbert (from the Daily Show and now his own show, the Colbert Report), and its pretty damn politically incorrect – probably even more so than South Park.

The show revolves around Jerri Blank (Amy Sedaris, who you might know from Sex in the City, Elf, etc), a 46 year old “boozer, user and a loser” who goes back to high school to try and pick her life back up. She’s disgusting, dirty, very racist, slutty, and plays for both teams. Basically, theres nowhere this show won’t go, and it goes there often. The writing of the show is “smart stupid” – as in, egghead writers who are being silly, while also playing base humor in an ironic way. It’s this strange charm that appeals to me as well as maybe what confused viewers back when it aired. Like after school specials, the subjects of the show generally follow the same format – lessons about racism, unity, school spirit, boyfriends, popularity, with a lesson to be learned by the end of the show that’s pretty much the opposite of what would you would normally see.

Other than Sedaris, Colbert, the main characters are an art teacher and principal played by actors who are very funny and memorable yet I’m sad to say haven’t done much else outside the show. There are many cameos throughout the series, and in this particular season (admittedly a little weaker than the first two, but still good) we see David Cross, Jeneane Garofalo, Winona Ryder and Andy Richter.

The DVD contains a few decent commentary tracks, a blooper/highlight reel, and the best feature, a compilation of dance sequences. You see, each episode ends with every character from the episode in a dance party. Its their equivalent of the Simpsons couch gag, and in a couple cases, such as Colbert doing a dance routine to the Hebrew song “The King of Glory”, it’s the highlight of the show. – Goon

Bill Hicks: Sane Man

Bill Hicks: Sane Man (DVD)

Sane ManIt’s been over 10 years since Bill Hicks died of pancreatic cancer. I remember the first time I heard his material, his “Rant in E Minor” album was a random purchase of mine that I made because of the snippets of his jokes that appeared in a song off Tool’s “AEnima” record, and I think it may have changed my life forever. I’d never been shocked that a person said the things he did. I didn’t agree with him on everything, and I certainly didn’t have the drug and alcoholism experiences he did and like Richard Pryor before him, openly discussed and turned into material. But I could relate, and I could understand him. Here’s a man who is simultaneously in love with and angry at the world: so frustrated, knowing that man can do better, that he lashes out with extreme, cruel jokes, detailed and disgusting jokes. At the same time he showed so much wisdom and could describe topical issues in a way that became timeless. The things he says about politicians, drugs, sex and art are just as relevant today as they were in his time. It’s sad that Bill is not with us today to talk about today’s world, but in reality he still does through his catalogue.

After releasing all his proper albums, a few extra live albums and a rarities collection, last year the first Bill Hicks DVD was released, which covered a number of shows as well as a TV documentary about Bill Hicks’ life. It’s an absolutely essential purchase for any Hicks fan. Sure the records are amazing, but watching him on stage is an extra treat. The facial expressions, the sometimes arty cuts (inspired by Pryor’s comedy films), the manic energy and pacing – this is the way to enjoy Bill Hicks.

This second DVD features the one piece of film they couldn’t get for the previous release: Sane Man. Before releasing any album, “Sane Man” was recorded as sort of a pilot to try and get an HBO special. The show was named “Sane Man” after a character Hicks created, a superhero whose power was logic and rationality. This show, like the live releases, is material a Hicks fan has heard before, but what’s of note is this is that this early in his career, he was already so very polished in both his performance and writing. There are two cuts of this Austin Texas show available, but I don’t know why anyone would watch anything but the extended performance, where there’s material I’d yet to hear at least, more interactions with the crowd and off the cuff remarks. There are some other short special features, but generally as a whole this doesn’t DVD doesn’t nearly live up to the first DVD release. Still, for the Bill Hicks completist, you won’t be disappointed. For those unfamiliar with Hicks, “Sane Man” isn’t the best place to start, but its certainly not a bad one either. – Goon

Air Date Set for Kenny Hotz Documentary

kenny hotz All of us here are big fans of Kenny vs. Spenny , the ‘reality-sitcom’ starring the Vince Vaughn-ish Kenny Hotz and the whiny Spencer Rice (who you cheer for in each episode, since he’s doing the weekly challenges honestly). It turns out while the show is growing in popularity thanks to DVD, bittorrent and airing all over the world, Kenny has been busy with other projects. Hotz has produced a new documentary which will air on the CBC on February 19th entitled “The Papal Chase”, in which on a bet Hotz must somehow meet the Pope. Will Kenny succeed in his mission? Tune in and find out. Somehow I bet Vatican security isn’t as naive as Spenny. Kenny is a chronic self-googler so maybe he’ll drop in and give us some spoilers.

Vincent Schiavelli Dies of Lung Cancer

Vincent SchiavelliVincent Schiavelli died of lung cancer today. The droopy-eyed actor, who enhanced so many films with his presence, was one of my very favorite “hey, its that guy!” character actors you see hanging in the background of so many films. Whether it was in “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest”, “The People Vs. Larry Flynt”, “Death to Smoochy” or one of the other approximately 150 television and movie appearances, you could always count on Vincent to be the perfect creep. He was 57.

Munich

Munich
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Written by: George Jonas (book), Tony Kushner and Eric Roth (screenplay)
Starring: Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Geoffrey Rush, and many more.

In my opinion, the majority of the reviews of Spielberg’s “Munich” have failed their readers. From what I’ve read, so many people are reviewing this movie’s message rather than the film. Like “Fahrenheit 9/11″ or “The Passion” before it, I think some people’s political leanings and/or allegiance to Spielberg (I love Spielberg, but well… you’ll see) is tainting the scores. “Munich” tells the tale of the 1972 massacre of the Israeli Olympic by Palestinians. A group was sent out across Europe, “unofficially”, with a list of names of people supposedly involved in the planning for them to hunt down and kill.

While there are many hailing this as a great film, Spielberg is getting nailed from all directions: Israeli groups say he is naive about terrorism, Palestinian groups are saying it doesn’t humanize them enough or show what their motives really were. There are some that instead say it is too even-handed, that Spielberg has tried too hard to please everyone. If I really had to pick, I’d go more with the latter — it seems the only message of this film is about the haunting price of revenge, that violence only creates more violence no matter who does it. I can deal with that. Neither side has exactly been angelic, and I’ve been attacked so many times for even saying so that I’ve kind of given up on even having an opinion. Did this really factor into my opinion of the film?

No. I found “Munich” to be the worst Spielberg movie I’ve seen (no, I haven’t seen Hook). It’s the least commercial, and the least watchable, and my opinion has nothing to do with politics whatsoever.

A variety of little problems were evident from the get-go. While this movie has the watchword “inspired by true events”, some characters are historical figures I don’t recognize, such as the female Prime Minister of Israel. Some way of pointing out who she was while she was on screen would have been helpful rather than finding out who she was much later. There were no location subtitles despite frequent scene changes. Many scenes feature characters speaking in foreign dialects that in my opinion should have been subtitled. The characters took off on their quest before ever being properly developed, and would fail to be adequately developed as the film progressed beyond generic ‘types’ – the hothead, the smart one, etc. The film is overly quiet and distant, and most of all, bloated, with too much time between anything happening. It feels like we were given a director’s cut DVD of a b-revenge flick that wasn’t good at a regular running length in the first place. So basically, this movie bored the holy hell out of me.

I love Spielberg, and saw this movie not because of any specific interest in the story, but because I trust him to hold my interest. Spielberg has made movies about serious subjects before, and as much as we don’t want to say it, Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan are entertaining films. “Munich” is not.

Despite a cast of people I like including Daniel Craig, Geoffrey Rush and Eric Bana, each character is stone faced and dull, with noone giving a standout performance. Eric Bana in particular is atrociously bland here. When he isn’t staring off into space with dead eyes, he’s required to go into amazingly forced crying fits. The conversations between any set of characters rarely show any passion, and most situations they find themselves in feel really phony. The only tension the entire movie has is the occasional feeling that something is going to go very wrong, because the group is very incompetent in carrying out their cold blooded revenge.

Much has been made of that violence. Yes, it is loud, realistic, and kind of exploitative. But that doesn’t really matter, since these action scenes are also incredibly repetitive, and eventually fail to even work as a tool to wake up the audience. I don’t know if we were supposed to feel all that sympathetic for either side, but some of the revenge murders are vicious enough to make me wonder just what the point was by making them so graphic. I guess this was supposed to reinforce just how nasty killing actually is – that the images can and should haunt you forever – but really all it does it make you feel less sympathetic for everyone. I eventually stopped caring what happened to any of these people, and that’s when I began praying it would end. But it kept going and going and going and going.

I found out that the script was given a run through by Tony Kushner, writer of “Angels In America”, and it is said he had an influence on the set. It shows. “Angels” is probably the one piece of media I’ve hated most of this past decade, as there hasn’t been a movie or series more boring or pretentious. Without saying what it is, there is a scene near the end of “Munich” that is so kitschy, so overblown and ridiculous, I’m sure it was Kushner’s doing.

I’m definitely not alone in my dislike of this film – I’ve got a significant roster of well known, thoughtful reviewers who also hated this movie for the technical aspects of filmmaking alone. So decide for yourself, but don’t make my mistake of going to see it just because it’s Spielberg. — Goon

Lightning Bolt – Hypermagic Mountain

Lightning Bolt – Hypermagic Mountain (Load)

Until recently, very few people paid attention to noise music, and as much as it may generate some angry posts in the comments section, i daresay theres a reason why: I think the vast majority has really sucked. Lightning Bolt however? My boys.

The reason I like Lightning Bolt is simple: unlike almost every other noise band I’ve ever heard, they don’t annoy me with what I would call, wanker bullshit. They simply tear a hole through your speakers with a brutal intensity that would make Slayer jealous, rather than just playing anything, hoping if they’re unlistenable enough some critic might declare them a ‘Caviar band’ . They don’t worry about progression or stagnation from record to record, and they don’t need to – all they have to do is deliver a mastodon of a record. We get impressive riffs, superior energy and the amazing distorted fuzzy bass sound that often does more than a legion of guitars could hope to do. When I listen to this stuff I picture cavemen beating the living crap out of each other.

I don’t care much for the fact that many reviewers are trying to deny how metal this album is for the sake of converting Mogwai fans… but who cares. This album is amazing and anyone who listens to it should figure that out or turn in their headphones for a cane and dentures. This album makes me feel like a badass, and runs circles around every other band who attempts to play this style. — Goon

Jello Biafra and The Melvins – Sieg Howdy

Jello Biafra with the Melvins – Sieg Howdy! (Alternative Tentacles)

Last year, aging punk icon Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys) teamed with the equally legendary Melvins to put together a collaborative effort called “Never Breathe What You Can’t See”. There was a lot of material from those sessions that were not released until this record. You’d think that maybe these were just the castoffs, but instead I find “Sieg Howdy!” to be the better release, which I think is because the album sounds like the Melvins were more in control of writing this one.

While “Sieg Howdy!” isn’t the classic album you could hope to get from this teamup, its still a worthy record I recommend a fan of either band to search out. The album opens with a cover of Alice Cooper’s “Halo of Flies”, which is better than the original, though I don’t know if thats saying much since I never really cared for ol’ Alice. Jello continues to rant and rave against the current state of the world in an extended version of “Never Breathe”‘s “The Lighter Side of Global Terrorism” and a Schwarzennegger bashing update of “Kali-Fornia Uber Alles”.

Jello also apparently couldn’t seem to resist an attack on his former bandmates, with “Those Dumb Punk Kids” taking aim at old punks reuniting to make a quick buck. The highlight though, and an indication of why we should encourage Biafra to keep hanging with Buzzo is “Lessons in What Not to Become”, easily one of the best punk songs to be written in the last decade. It might be safe to actually call this an EP, as depite there being 10 tracks, 3 of those are remixes, the best of which is done by Ministry’s Al Jourgensen, who puts his spin on “Enchanted Thoughtfist”. — Goon

King Kong

King Kong
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Written by: Merian C. Cooper, Edgar Wallace (story), Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson (screenplay)
Starring: Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Andy Serkis

After successfully turning the Lord of the Rings books into critically and commercially successful films, Peter Jackson immediately took on another risky project, updating the film that inspired him to make movies: King Kong. The story is simple enough to have been echoed in countless films, from the Jurassic Park movies to Hulk… in this case specifically we find a filmmaker hiring a crew to find the mysterious Skull Island, where he intends to shoot his film. His leading lady is captured and sacrificed to the titular ape. Kong and the actress eventually pretty much fall for each other, as much as a woman and an 8000 pound orangutan can. Monster is captured, monster destroys city. Poor poor monster.

It’s harder to make a movie as groundbreaking effects-wise as King Kong was for its time, yet Jackson’s version still manages to end up as THE film spectacle of the year when it comes to visuals. Yes, even after Star Wars and War of the Worlds, this is the show. The look is often similar to LOTR, there are fights with dinosaurs, giant insects, weird leech things, giant bats, and an early 1900s New York City torn to pieces by the Kong. Jackson uses the CGI and action sequences to both make you squirm (there were several audible collective gasps in the theater in some scenes), make you laugh, develop character, or just make your jaw drop. Some scenes are frankly pretty ridiculous, even campy in the “Mummy Returns” sort of way, yet it is obviously intended and probably (I haven’t seen the original) necessary to pay tribute to the original.

The story itself is simple, yet engaging, thanks to a script that takes the time to develop almost every character. This way, any character that dies (and there are several that bite the big one) isn’t simply ‘meat’. I like it when this sort of attention is paid to characters you know will die anyways, like in “Predator”. The dialogue is fitting for the film, it doesn’t try to sound all that realistic, yet the lines from each of the characters seem so natural thanks to how well defined each character is, particularly the main team of Jack Black (as the sleazy filmmaker), Naomi Watts (the actress) and Adrien Brody (the scriptwriter). The best character of all though is Kong himself – who thanks again to the green screen acting of Andy “Gollum” Serkis – is amazingly expressive, is successfully turned from the big bad monster into a sympathetic character you’re rooting for by the end.

The few detractors of this film have mentioned the films length as its major drawback. While I could see how some would face frustration at the fact that it’s nearly an hour before you see the beast, I don’t want to live in a world with a shorter “Kong”, since
there’s just so much fun to be had. There have been better films made this year, but “King Kong” tops the list when it comes to the term ‘must see’. – Goon

311 – Don’t Tread On Me

311 – Don’t Tread on Me (Zomba/Volcano)

311 have been around for some time now, and I was into them at the peak of their popularity, the self-titled release some refer to as the Other Blue Album. With the hits “Down” and “All Mixed Up”, 311 made a name for themself with both the emerging nu metal crowd, as well as with many of the same people who took ska and swing and made it into a fad for about a year. I too, got burned out with 311 by the time “Soundsystem” came out in 1999. 311 to me were treading water, and as they got more repetitive, I felt it even began to hurt their old work. Eventually I came to see their old work as nothing special too begin with, one of those bands teens like because they don’t really know any better.

5 years later, I see 311 still have a pretty stong following, enough anyways to warrant a greatest hits compilation and seveal more albums, with this release “Don’t Tread on Me” being he most recent. Once again I have to say 311 are playing the same-old, same-old.

Since I’ve had a break from the band (and since they took a step up in coolness in my eyes after beating up Scott Stapp), the Omaha culture-hopping stoners aren’t so objectionable to me these days, but at the same time, this is still nothing special. Tracks blend into one another, they don’t seem able to put together riffs like they did on the first few albums. Basically, this is bland stuff for your college fratboy who thinks he gets Bob Marley. – Goon