Thursday, September 27, 2007

At the risk of sounding excessively nerdy...

Variety reported earlier this week that Jessica Biel is in talks to play Wonder Woman in the planned Justice League of America film. Shortly thereafter, UnderGroundOnline posted some possible spoilers.

Hey, Biel sounds like a fine choice to don the golden lasso, and the supposed plot sounds fine, I guess, but does anyone else think this movie is a really bad idea? Some of us don't want to see Batman's (newly absolved) good name tarnished. Prove me wrong, Warner Bros. - prove me wrong!

Biel passed. Meh.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

They had Pop-Pop in the attic

The two may not share any scenes in the film, but this winter's much buzzed-about Juno, co-starring Arrested Development alums Jason Bateman and Michael Cera, remains the closest thing fans of the Bluth family will see to an 'Arrested' movie...for now. In the meantime, anything with a cast that also includes Allison Janney (The West Wing) and Rainn Wilson (The Office), directed by Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking), should certainly be enough to peak our interest.

Riding the Toronto International Film Festival success of the movie, which revolves around a high school girl (Hard Candy's Ellen Page) whom Cera gets pregnant, Fox Searchlight moved its release date up from spring to Oscar-qualifying December 14th, no doubt hoping to promote it as their Little Miss Sunshine for 2007.

Check the trailer here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

God, That's Good

The official website for Tim Burton's upcoming Sweeney Todd recently got a satisfyingly spooky makeover, and yesterday, the above graphic appeared on the Paramount site. Rumors abound that the trailer will be attached to Elizabeth: The Golden Age, which bows October 12th, but this is certainly fodder enough to set eager fans' hearts aflutter - especially after eight minutes of clips from the movie premiered earlier this month at the Venice Film Festival.

Since Sweeney - starring the singing Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and Sacha Baron Cohen (aka Borat) - doesn't open until December 21st, Burton devotees may have to settle for the 2nd annual rerelease of The Nightmare Before Christmas 3D over Halloween.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Ayatollah does not give it 2 Thumbs Up

Fresh off its win as France's entry for best foreign film at the Oscars (not to mention its Jury Prize at Cannes), Persepolis, the animated adaptation of Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel, picked up the best feature award at the Ottawa International Animation Festival yesterday. The movie, which tells the story of a girl growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution, has already had a strong critical and commercial showing in France, and will make its English language debut (featuring the voices of Iggy Pop and Sean Penn, among others) at the New York Film Festival next month, but opens theatrically on Christmas Day in the U.S.

Checking out the trailer and making-of feature on its website (the film's MySpace page also has several clips in French), it's easy to see that Persepolis is great-looking, and seems to have translated from page to screen beautifully. It's worth noting that before the success of Sin City, black-and-white animated features like this one or Renaissance would probably have had a much more difficult time getting made. Still, we shouldn't expect a Maus movie anytime soon.

Friday, September 21, 2007

This movie just gets cooler & cooler...

MTV reports that Jay-Z is recording a concept album, American Gangster, to coincide with that film's November release.

Although Denzel Washington - who stars in the Ridley Scott-directed Gangster along with Russel Crowe, Common, T.I., and RZA - was apparently pushing for Jay to provide all the movie's songs, Def Jam will also release an official soundtrack featuring '70s-era artists.

American Gangster will mark Jigga's second release since, y'know, his retirement.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

New record to include lush harmonies, weird percussion

Anathallo, currently at work on their follow-up to last year's Floating World, will be embarking on a mini-tour next month. Washingtonians can catch them at the Rock & Roll Hotel, which, incidentally, has snuck up on us to rival the Black Cat as the District's hippest place for all your indie rock needs - and certainly owns Northeast. (If you need convincing, a quick look at RRH's fall calendar reveals dates with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Thurston Moore, Damien Jurado, and John Vanderslice, not to mention members of Super Furry Animals and The Beta Band.)

For more Anathallo, here's a video from their blog featuring a lovely snippet of a new song. For even more Anathallo, check out my Sojourners interview with them.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Don't fret, Ann Coulter - you've got more to complain about!

Now that Rage Against the Machine have finished Rocking the Bells and are only scheduled for two more planned performances (next month's Voodoo and Vegoose fests, respectively), those in search of something against which to rage can take heart....Billboard reports that frontman Zack de la Rocha has completed his loooong-awaited solo album.

Having learned my lesson that word of new de la Rocha material doesn't necessarily spell a new record, I won't get my hopes up. But I sure would like it to happen. And if RATM wanted to go ahead and reunite for a new album of their own, as well, that'd be great, too.

Michel Gondry + Mos Def + Jack Black = made exclusively for me?

Eternal Sunshine; Block Party; a million insanely brilliant music videos...Gondry can do no wrong. The latest evidence? The Be Kind Rewind trailer.

Be Kind opens in January.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Not on our watch

Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern's powerful documentary on Marine Captain Brian Steidle's experiences in Sudan, The Devil Came on Horseback, may have ended its week-long run at DC's Avalon Theatre Thursday, but it will be touring independent moviehouses across the country this fall.
Adapted from his book of the same name, Devil follows Steidle's time in Darfur as an unarmed military observer with the African Union and subsequent return to the US to raise awareness about the ongoing genocide in the region. Empowered by his firsthand testimony and vast array of photographs documenting the atrocities, the viewer shares both Steidle's frustration at one's seeming inability to do anything about the situation, and optimism that, with the help of his and others' accounts, people will demand more attention be paid to the issue.

After winning several awards and standing ovations on the festival circuit, the doc began its theatrical run last month. Go to for screening info and to learn more. Another documentary, Darfur Now, featuring Don Cheadle and George Clooney, debuted last week at the Toronto International Film Festival, and opens November 2nd.

Friday, September 14, 2007

No Jesus questions, please

David Bazan recently stopped by Minnesota Public Radio for an interview, and peformed a couple of songs, including a new one, "Please Baby Please."

currently on tour with Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, and in case you can't get enough Bazan, check out my Sojourners profile on him here.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Kanye gets weirder...and we like it

While it lacks the first-listen “wow factor” of his 2004 debut, College Dropout, and the eclecticism and pop grandeur of 2005’s follow-up, Late Registration, no one can accuse Kanye West’s Graduation of not exploring new territory (a claim which 50 Cent’s Curtis can’t share). Surprisingly light on chipmunk samples, but heavy on synth beats and Takashi Murakami artwork, this record is spacey.

‘Ye has said Graduation is the future of hip hop, but with its old school keys, DeLorean references, and
Akira-biting “Stronger” video, it may exist more in the realm of the ‘80s than the future. Either way, I’ll take it.

The album needs some getting used to, which is ok. Though it’s full of solid songs, club bangers are conspicuously absent - with a couple of notable exceptions (including the aforementioned single, which, it should be said, derives most of its power from the best part of an already established Daft Punk track that West raps over -- I mean “samples”). But that’s ok, too. Yeezy has made an album that grows on the listener, and though its songs may not provide the immediate gratification of “Jesus Walks” or “Gold Digger,” that’s kind of why it’s great.

Who would’ve thought Kanye West would make a record one could almost call subtle? (Production-wise, of course…don’t think his MC skills would earn that description anytime soon.)

Grade: A-


Pitchfork gives music 6.8.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Yeezy vs. Fiddy: The Battle for DC

In the case of “The Teddy Bear vs. the Gorilla,” it looks like the backpack set may soon be claiming victory. Not only did 50 Cent and Kanye West both, in fact, turn out for 106 and Park on BET yesterday, Ye’s Big Brother stopped by to show love. Billboard reports that West holds an early lead in this week’s national sales projections…but what about here in the District?

Though most shoppers said they were there to pick up both records, FYE at Union Station reported yesterday afternoon that they’d sold three times more copies of Kanye’s Graduation than 50’s Curtis. Upon hearing this news, a customer at the counter responded, “Look where we’re at, though – Union Station,” pointing out that its geography may not be the best gauge of hip hop sales in the Washington area. So, how did other neighborhoods stack up?

The Borders in Friendship Heights emphasized the fact they didn’t have hard numbers yet, but cashiers said “it seemed like” they were selling more of Kanye. CD Warehouse in Georgetown unsurprisingly reported that their customers picked up “Way more Kanye, but that’s normal for us,” while claiming to have sold “a lot more” copies of 50 than expected. CD Game Exchange in Silver Spring had sold out of Graduation, while one copy of Curtis remained.

Kemp Mill Records (1113 F St NW), meanwhile, answered their phone with “Kemp Mill, where we’ve got plenty of Kanye and 50 Cent.” When asked which was selling more, the response was, “It doesn’t matter – we’ve got plenty of copies. 50’s not retiring anytime soon.” They suspected, though, that “Kanye has a little bit of an edge.”

First round: Teddy Bear? Ask Mr. West himself about when he appears for an
in-store signing at DTLR in Northeast tonight.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Barack Me Amadeus

On the heels of Vibe's first-ever cover story on a politician, CNN has an interesting piece about Obama's relationship with the rap generation.

"I'm old school, so generally, generally, I'm more of a jazz guy, a Miles Davis, a John Coltrane guy, more of a Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder kind of guy," Obama said in the interview. "But having said that, I'm current enough that on my iPod I've got a little bit of Jay-Z. I've got a little Beyonce."

What, no love for L-Boogie? So, should we assume the inclusion of The Fugees in the "Favorite Music" section of the senator's Facebook page is the work of a low-level hip hop head on the campaign staff?