Freak – John Leguizamo

I don’t really go to the theater that often. I guess it’s just too hit or miss for me. Musicals are usually too – well – musical. Dramas usually seem to be too – well – dramatic. Most people in their twenties only seem to go to plays starring movie stars which usually suck (Wait Until Dark- Quentin Tarantino, Marisa Tomei), instead of attempting to tap into the world of true stage actors, a place where “do-overs” don’t count. I have seen a few good plays lately though, and the more good ones that I see the greater the likelihood that I will go see more in the future.

Freak I guess it took hundreds of reviews, a piece on CBS Sunday morning, a website, and some great marketing to catch my attention enough to actually get me to the theater three blocks from where I work to see John Leguizamo’s brilliant one man show “Freak.” Leguizamo, is far more talented than his sketchy filmography might indicate (To Wong Foo, The Pest, Spawn, Super Mario Brothers). In “Freak” he combines the extraordinary verbal dexterity of a Robin Williams, the range of perfect multicultural impressions of a Tracy Ullman, the weirdness of a John Belushi, and the physical comedy skills of a Jim Carrey. The resulting combination is a very talented and amusing guy.
[Read more…]

Richard Davies – Telegraph

Richard Davies - Telegraph

Label:Flydaddy / V2

Like the most pleasant voice wafting softly from an enchanted forest, Richard Davies has triumphantly one-upped his near perfect post-Moles-Cardinal solo debut “There’s Never Been A Crowd Like This.” On his one-off Eric Matthews collaboration called Cardinal, it was Davies’ quirky lyrics that so perfectly offset the cerebral lushness of Matthews’ orchestral arrangements. As a law student in Australia, Davies found himself day-dreaming more about poetry than about legal code. Not long after abandoning the latter, he was writing clever lyrics to perfect melodies.

“Telegraph,” however, is another form of communication entirely. It’s a brilliant fusion of pure mellow psychedelic rock and gentle dream-pop. Something about the rolling upbeat simplicity of this effort will, no doubt, allow it to endure the test of time. In fact, when I someday unearth this gem for the children I may have, I expect they will find it as anachronistic as I do.

Beginning with the infectious “Cantina,” Davies has created an album that somehow succeeds in giving off a certain feeling. The feeling reeks of purity and calm not usually associated with indie rock. His songs drift effortlessly about in a thoughtful almost conversational kind of way, making you think to the beat of your tapping feet.

“Telegraph” is more band-oriented project featuring Flaming Lips Guitarist Ronald Jones. Having co-written and co-produced much of this album, Jones helped Davies draw out stronger instrumental curves than on previous efforts. Although early comparisons aligned Richard Davies with Brian Wilson, “Telegraph” features a Davies more akin to John Lennon than to anyone else. With his slightly nasal voice and a sincere intonation, Davies is able to create a delicacy that is mixed with an indisputable hipness. I guarantee that this record will make heavy rotation most pop lover’s collection!

Order It Now From Amazon

Into The Wild by John Krakauer

Into The Wild by John Krakauer

I haven’t read John Krakauer’s “Into Thin Air.” Why bother when you’ve already seen “Everest,” and the made for TV version of the same story. However, I always did enjoy reading John Krakauer’s work in Outside magazine. My favorite of his stories included a long article about a 24 year-old boy found starved to death in an abandoned school bus in the Alaskan wilderness. This article soon became “Into the Wild,” Krakauer’s Sherlock Holmesian detective job tracking down the where and how Christopher McCandless spent the last three years of his life.

This book works for a couple different reasons: Krakauer is both a good writer and a good reporter; and he has honed in on a fascinating subject with which you can’t help becoming involved with for a few hundred pages. The premise of this true story is relatively simple: an upper middle class kid named Christopher McCandless graduates with honors from Emory University, gives away his $25,000 savings and disappears from the lives of his family without a note or a phone call. A few years later he is found dead in the Alaskan wilderness, alone and emaciated. Given only a beginning and an end, Krakauer was able to piece together what seems like a seamless recounting of the time that elapsed in between.
[Read more…]

Locusts

Locusts

Director : John Patrick Kelly
With : Kate Capshaw, Vince Vaughn, Jeremy Davies, Ashley Judd

“Locusts” is an old-school rural melodrama. The debut film by John Patrick Kelly oozes with a steamy sexuality and a bizarre gothic haze that makes it feel like a cross between “Giant” or “Hud” and a Flannery O’Connor story. On a hot sticky summer night in the 1950’s a tall brooding stranger played by Vince Vaugn (Swingers), dressed in a white T-shirt and jeans, thumbs his way into a small Kansas town and ambles, James Dean-like, into a brightly lit bar / kitchenette. After a tough-guy one punch fight with a local, over a feisty townie (Ashley Judd), he is lead by a new friend to see a woman about a job working on a pig ranch.

The woman turns out to be a sultry cigarette-smoking, bourbon-drinking widow (Kate Capshaw) with a reputation for sleeping with her employees. Not surprisingly he gets the job and a bed in the carriage house of her estate. The next day the two are seen eating dinner served by Capshaw’s painfully shy son Flyboy (Jeremy Davies). Flyboy, we learn, is 21 and has spent the last eight years in an institution after finding his father hanging, by his own hand, from a tree in the front yard. As a result he rarely speaks and lives in quiet servitude cooking and cleaning for his mother and her guests.

“Locusts” is a powerful but impossibly bleak midwestern gothic. Jeremy Davies’ performance as the emotionally paralyzed Flyboy rivals DeCaprio’s in “Gilbert Grape,” and Vince Vaugn’s poor man’s James Dean / Paul Newman act is surprisingly good. As the film weaves one gruesome scene into another (from pig castration to genuine emotional angst), an unending sea of secrets begin to surface. This is not a film for the weak of heart, but it is a unanimously powerfully display of acting and writing worthy of a rental on a hot summer’s eve.

Order It Now From Amazon

Chameleons UK – Strange Times

Chameleons UK - Strange Times
Label: Geffen

Between the years of 1985-1988, there was one record that got more play than the Fonz on a Saturday night. A record whose grooves became considerably more worn than imports like The Smiths, The Specials, The Jam and The English Beat … more worn than homegrown favorites like REM, Husker Du, and Camper Van Beethoven.

The Chameleons were a relatively unknown British band whose beautiful records were released on Geffen in the states to an audience smaller than the occupancy of a Brownstone in Brooklyn. Led by gentle flowing rock guitars, and an almost early U2 take on alternative music, The Chameleon’s “Strange Times” is truly a minor masterpiece.

Led by the somewhat dark breathy vocals of singer Mark Burgess, “The Chameleons” were rode parallel to bands like Echo and the Bunnymen, creating solid atmospheric rock melodies that were just far enough away from pop to make them seem inaccessible to popular audiences. “Strange Times” is a beautiful record beginning with one of the best album covers of all time- a surreal painting features characters that might have come from an “Alice In Wonderland” meets Salvador Dali collage. Featuring chilling tracks like “Soul In Isolation,” fragile acoustic numbers like “Tears,” explosive rock anthems like “Mad Jack” and covers of Bowie and The Beatles, “Strange Times” is the record everyone wanted new-wave-punk to yield but forgot to remember.

Order It Now From Amazon