We're going to see Luke Skywalker again… right?
I'm not sure how old you were in 1999, but for those of us who were first generation "Star Wars" kids, there has never been anything like it in terms of hype. The crazy part is that a good 50% of the hype had nothing to do with the studio and everything to do with our own expectations and a powerful sense of nostalgia. By the time "The Phantom Menace" opened, I'm convinced that even the single greatest movie ever made would have been a disappointment simply because of the weight of expectation.
One thing that made it hard to accept the prequels as real "Star Wars" films was the lack of familiar faces. Sure, the characters were related to other characters or they were younger versions, but for the most part, you're talking about a brand-new cast, and one of the basic mandates of a sequel is giving the audience more of the thing they've already enjoyed. As a result, there is a chance that all of that crushing, vocal "Phantom Menace" frenzy is just going to look like a warm-up to the deafening buzz as we build to the release of a true sequel to the original trilogy, complete with Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and, yes, Han Solo.
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We're going to see Luke Skywalker again… right?
Before we get to the reviewing, a bit of housekeeping — as in, my house finally got power, heat, cable, etc. last night, which meant we could return from our post-Sandy exile to the lovely, well-powered streets of West Hartford. There will be a podcast sometime later today (Dan and I were interrupted yesterday by the news that I could return home), and hopefully everything else will return to schedule (give or take a Nor'easter later in the week).
And now a few thoughts on last night's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I channel my inner goddess...
Well, given what's going on out there, it'd seem inappropriate to lead with news of some minor precursor award announcement or random pre-release bumf for "The Hobbit" -- it's Election Day, and that weighs as heavily on Hollywood's mind as anyone else's. Variety Ted Johnson breaks down the implications for the film and entertainment industry of an Obama or a Romney victory, which could have a significant impact on issues ranging from piracy to censorship to same-sex marriage, and also examines the California propositions, some of them with starry cheerleaders, pertinent to showbiz folk. Good luck, America. Do the right thing. [Variety]
The ladies who lunch in L.A. are back, and the good news is that I see no sign of the pricetag-dropping Dana. Instead, we get a new housewife, Yolanda, who is married to songwriter David Foster, is also the ex-wife of Lisa's pal Mohammed, and (if you go by the promos) can throw down with the best of them. Not that we see any sign of that in this episode. No, we have to wait a bit for the women of Beverly Hills to sharpen their claws. Their manicurists are, like, totally booked in advance, people. Where did you think we were, Atlanta? Pfft!
So, because there will be no results show tomorrow night (there's this thing called an election you may have heard about -- and if you were going to vote for anything, it probably shouldn't be "Dancing with the Stars"), Tom Bergeron has to inform us that this will be a VERY IMPORTANT EPISODE nevertheless. "Once dance's DNA will get torn apart and fused with that of another!" he says in an ominous tone, which makes me feel as if there's actually going to be some screaming and surgical procedures and it's going to feel more like "American Horror Story" than "Dancing with the Stars." But the good news is that this Frankendance thing looks a lot better than Tom leads us to expect, at least when it's done by the show dance troupe. Maybe it will be more terrifying when celebrities attempt it.
Few bands that are still standing have as twisted and troubled a history as Aerosmith It’s nothing short of a miracle that the five principals are still alive, no less still together, making music.
It’s been 11 years since Aerosmith released an album of new material (the last studio album was blues cover set, 2004’s “Honkin’ On Bobo”). “Music From Another Dimension,” out Nov. 6, is a welcome return that sonically spans that band’s full history, usually for the better than for the worse.
Given the title, it should come as no surprise that the album opens with a “Twilight Zone”-like voice over that heralds, “you’re about to enter a great adventure...from which you may never return.”
Then the band is out of the chute with “Luv XXX,” a Beatlesque track that also incorporates elements of “Love In and Elevator” without the sharp sparkle. Still, it’s a strong opener: a cohesive, inviting track that shows off Steven Tyler’s still healthy rasp.
From there, the band leaps into “Oh Yeah,” a track that crosses The Stones with Blur. It’s one of the album’s catchiest tunes and should be a single contender, even if it doesn’t have a strongly memorable chorus.
The members of Aerosmith can do mid-tempo rockers like “Tell Me” in their sleep, but the acoustic-leaning “Tell Me,” still has its appeal, with Joey Kramer’s hypnotic drumming and the band’s background vocals hitting all the right beats. A similarly heard- this-before vibe penetrates the loose-limbed “Out Go The Lights,” a rock slab that includes the classic Tyler lyric, “Liquor in the front/poker in the back” (if you don’t get it from reading it, read it outloud...Tyler’s harmonica ending is a welcome coda. First single, the rollicking “Legendary Child,” which details the band’s history, should have done better at radio, given Joe Perry’s blazing guitar and the steady, welcoming rock thump.
Ever since the band landed its first No. 1 with “Don’t Want To Miss A Thing,” syrupy sweet love ballads have become part of their legacy. It’s already looking like the band will have an AC hit with “What Could Have Been Love.” The song sounds straight out of the Diane Warren playbook, even though it was written by Tyler, Marti Frederiksen and the album's co-producer Jack Douglas (who also produced "Rocks"). However, Warren does make an appearance with the keep-the-faith, inspirational ballad, “We All Fall Down.” It screams for a major movie placement (just as “Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” appeared in 1998‘s “Armageddon").
Carrie Underwood, who previously duetted with Tyler various television shows, returns for a second helping on the mid-tempo, heavy track, “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You.” They are both belters, but they do a good job of not working together instead of out-shrieking each other. Still, unless there’s some major remix, you won’t be hearing this alongside Underwood’s other tunes on country radio.
There’s something comforting in the fact that after 40 years together, Aerosmith remains composed of the same bad boys making the same blues-based rock after all these years. To be sure, the musicianship feels strong, but more economical, these days and Tyler’s voice has yielded a small bit of its rubbery flexibility to time, but the band is still vitally and nicely intact. Furthermore, despite all the break-ups, the rough and tumble years, and times of personal enmity, they still sound like a band, very capable of leaving whatever issues still haunt them outside the studio door. Just listen to “Freedom Fighter,” a song featuring Perry on lead vocals, and the groovy pocket the band slides into towards the end. That’s something only time and triumphing over tribulations brings.
For older fans, “Sweet Jesus” provides the money shot. With its rumbling freight train vibe and long, propulsive outro, it would have sounded right in place on an early Aerosmith album from the mid-'70s.
The album closes with the gorgeous, dreamy “Another Last Goodbye” co-written with Desmond Child, who helped pen some of the band’s biggest hits during its ‘90s resurgence. A more restrained vocal by Tyler may have made it more radio friendly and help match his delivery with the lovely piano and strings, but his alley cat screeches sound authentic. To be able to say that after everything Aerosmith has been through feels like some kind of major victory.
This is the band's last album on their contract with Columbia. Should it be a swan song-- and hopefully it's not-- it represents Aerosmith and its legacy well.
The first time I remember seeing John C. Reilly was in Brian De Palma's film "Casualties Of War," and right away, he seemed fully defined. That's a movie full of big performances, with Sean Penn and Michael J. Fox going head to head, and even so, Reilly stood out as Hatch, a giant man-child who seemed to follow whoever was the biggest alpha male regardless of the direction of his own moral compass. It was a great introduction to the particular skill set of this actor, and in the years since, he has re-confirmed his gifts over and over again.
One of my favorite moments in his career was when he suddenly revealed, after breaking hearts for so many years, that he is also hilarious. I should have known that innately, though. You look at his work in "Boogie Nights," which is as crushingly sad a film as I can name, and it's tempered with some great comedy, especially between him and Mark Walhberg.
Growing out of live band performances of Thom Yorke's solo album, the members of electro experiment group Atoms For Peace have finished a nine-song album "AMOK" (XL) and will release it at long-last on Jan. 28.
Songs have been trickled out all this fall, of remixes and teaser bits, with excellent "Default" leading the way. You can hear it below. Yorke is joined by longtime Radiohead cohort Nigel Godrich, drummer Joey Waronker and Red Hot Chili Peppers players Flea and Mauro Refosco on the solo-project-ish thing, which was recorded out of New York's Electric Lady Studios.
According to a tidy interview with Rolling Stones' David Fricke, Yorke essentially wanted to make a dance record with the crew, but knew he needed to throw his vocals on top for it to get any traction.
"But you also have to give people something that moves," Godrich said. "This is the eternal battle with Thom. He's like 'I really want to make a dance record. But I have to sing on it, or nobody's going to f*cking care."
"[T]he best tunes I dance to always have at least one good vocal idea." Yorke continued. "There's no such thing, to me, as a good tune with no vocals."
I'm not sure he can bluff at poker, but when it comes to diplomatically not answering a direct question, Bruce Greenwood can hang with the best of them.
I've interviewed him before, I've watched him work on sets, and I've had the opportunity a few times to just chat with him informally. He strikes me as really down-to-earth, a decent guy who projects a certain kind of charisma. There's a reason he got tapped to play JFK in "Seven Days," and there's a reason JJ Abrams cast him as Commander Pike, who had such a great couple of scenes with Chris Pine as Kirk in "Star Trek."
I wanted to find a more graceful segue into "Star Trek Into Darkness," next year's sequel, than you'll see in this interview. It's because everything at the "Flight" press day was running off-schedule, and midway through this interview, the count went from "three minutes left" to "wrap it up" in what felt like about 45 seconds. When we wrapped, I wasn't satisfied with the answer I got from him on-camera, so I tried another tactic.
"So, listen… I talked to JJ Abrams, and he told me to tell you that it's okay to tell me everything."
He smiled. "I doubt that."