Movie review: “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015)

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“If I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die historic on a fury road!”

I am a man who loves his adjectives, and, as a film and concertgoer (and general pop culture participant/enthusiast/reviewer/critic), someone who also, I think, chooses, deploys, and wields them with not a little facility. After thirty years of semi-serious or better moviegoing, I feel, on some level, that I’ve seen it all before, and lately it feels I’ve described a good deal of it to boot. Standard, shopworn superlatives shrink in the face of an uncompromised, uncompromising, full-tilt action odyssey like Mad Max: Fury Road, however. They feel laughably inadequate, and frustratingly incomplete. They burst into the same sort of flames director/writer/creator George Miller uses so often as visual punctuation, or else shrivel and blow away harmlessly into his vast desert setting, a merciless wasteland that, even in a film absolutely teeming with desperate, violent, flamboyant life, is still Fury Road’s most important and, at times, unforgettable character. Continue reading “Movie review: “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015)”

On Letterman, a very “Late Show”, and the noble endings of numerous things

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“It’s beginning to look like I’m not going to get The Tonight Show…”

Among a handful of standard, fallback jokes for the (temporarily) floundering late night talk show host – at least for as long as I’ve observed the form – is some variation of the following: any viewer who is still up and watching TV at this ungodly hour of the night has to have at least a little something wrong with him/her. It’s kind of a brilliant conceit, not to mention evergreen, not so much a blanket characterization as a sly, subtle method of bonding viewer to host via self-deprecating confession. There’s nothing more wrong with you than there is with me, the host is effectively saying. I’m the person you’re watching, after all. Why don’t we just be weird together! Continue reading “On Letterman, a very “Late Show”, and the noble endings of numerous things”

Movie review: “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015)

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“Does anybody remember when I put a missile through a portal, in New York City? We were standing right under it. We’re the Avengers. We can bust weapons dealers the whole doo-da-day, but how do we cope with something like that?”

“Together.”

“We’ll lose.”

“We’ll do that together too.”

Whereas comic book superheroes and heroines have a long-standing, time-tested, free-swinging tradition of either brokering guest appearances in one another’s pages or, occasionally, full-on intramural team collaborations against a common enemy and/or towards a common goal, superhero movies have generally operated in hermetically sealed bubbles all their own, using house money and fighting the simplest, most obvious threats. Marvel’s decision, circa 2006, to revamp its existing film studio into something more robust and thus shepherd its own projects, independent of the sort of uninformed, high level meddling that helped turn promising sequels like Spider-Man 3 and X-Men: The Last Stand into underwhelming, overstuffed disappointments, or worse, didn’t immediately signal a seismic shift in the superhero game, though it did strike most observers as a pretty good idea. Little could anyone then have truly realized the scope of Marvel’s master plan Continue reading “Movie review: “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015)”

Concert review: Southern Culture on the Skids (second opinion)

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also appearing: The D-Rays
Rumba Café, Columbus, Ohio – May 3, 2015

My left ear is still adjusting to life spent at a greater than two-foot distance from the hanging P.A. speaker at extreme stage right of Columbus’ Rumba Café, which freshly charms me each new time I enter. The stage harkens back to better, more defiantly low-fidelity times by standing little more than a foot off the floor, and is itself a weirdly angled thing that juts out from two walls like a peninsula from the mainland. I was jammed up against not just the hanger but a standing speaker as tall as Ryan Seacrest. On this, their second year in a row playing Columbus after many years of conspicuous absence, surf/garage/rockabilly juggernaut Southern Culture on the Skids put on a fantastic show, full of unflagging energy and crowd-pleasing, adrenalized rockers, countrified anthems and plucky underdogs drawn from every album (and several E.P.s) in their close to thirty-year career. Continue reading “Concert review: Southern Culture on the Skids (second opinion)”

“Money’s” Worth: Floyd Mayweather UD12 Manny Pacquiao

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Excessive time spent in the game has weathered me, and, consequently, I’m not nearly the boxing evangelist I was even a year ago, let alone five. Used to be, I was insufferable in addition to being long-winded, but now I’ve bumped up against the walls and limits of indifference (and that weird species of unsolicited antagonism that fans of other sports sometimes offer up to boxing) so much that I’m generally content to live, let live, and keep the majority of my opinions to myself. I can show you an entire parade of boxing matches that might curl your toes and make your hair turn white, not that it particularly matters. I am forced to admit that the sport will probably never again have a transcendent moment in the national sun of the likes that happened so regularly in the ‘70s, ‘80s and before. It’s just a different world. Continue reading ““Money’s” Worth: Floyd Mayweather UD12 Manny Pacquiao”

Miscellanity #1 (5/4/15): Notes from “Capacity Weekend”

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Did you ever have one of those weekends? I’m thinking of a tightly compressed span of days that was so abnormally packed with business and interest and distractions and various things of note that it exhausted and exhilarated in essentially equal – though, in real time, constantly shifting – measure? Yeah, me neither, or at least not with any regularity, though every once in a while the worm (or is it the screw?) just turns and turns. This debut edition of DAE’s (latest) new column, “Miscellanity”, may well end up being both its first and only issue. It’s a practical matter, really. This past weekend, which featured, in Saturday, the widely touted “busiest day in sports history” since at least the last one, was such a convergence of “must see” events in several of the arenas that most interest me – Music, Football, TV, Boxing – that I could well have emerged from it having written not one but four new columns.* Continue reading “Miscellanity #1 (5/4/15): Notes from “Capacity Weekend””