Gargoyle guide to the week in entertainment, March 5 - 11
Gargoyle staff reporter
Posted Monday, March 5, 2007, The OG, arts
EACH WEEK WE'LL look ahead to the next releases in entertainment, from movies opening in C-U to DVDs and CDs hitting the stores. Plus we'll give you the heads-up on the best local concerts and performances scheduled for the coming week. (Erin's partner in putting together this guide, Jono Baron, was in the Wisconsin Dells on the senior trip this weekend, so she's still flying solo.)
MOVIES OPENING IN C-U THIS WEEK
“300” (official site)
This latest graphic-novel-turned-movie by Frank Miller (known for 2005's “Sin City”) combines virtual backgrounds and live action, bridging the gap between animation and reality. “300” tells the tale of the battle of Thermopylae, where King Leonidas of Sparta (played by Gerard Butler) led his army of 300 men against massive invading Persian forces, headed by their great King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro). Xerxes' attack forced Greece to unite against the Persians in one of the most glorious and fabled wars of history. The Spartan defense of the pass of Thermopylae led to the famous epigram: “Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by/ that here, obedient to their laws, we lie.”
Opens Friday at the Beverly 18 and Savoy 16.
“The Ultimate Gift” (official site)
When the grandfather of rich-boy Jason Stevens passes away, Jason is expecting a large inheritance. What he gets, however, is a series of 12 challenges devised by his grandfather (Oscar-nominated James Garner) to teach him life lessons, and force him to realize that money does not equal happiness.
Opens Friday at the Beverly 18 and Savoy 16.
Erin's Pick: “300.” While I'm not familiar with the actors of this film the way I was with those of “Sin City” (the actors included Benicio Del Toro, Elijah Wood, Jessica Alba, Bruce Willis, and Brittany Murphy), the animation looks nothing short of mind-blowing, and according to IMDB, post-production took nearly a year to complete. I've seen ads for this film on MySpace for months now, and despite the obvious political reference (all of Greece unites tragically against Eastern forces in a glorious effort to protect democracy!), I'm ready to brace myself and go see the darn thing, for better or for worse. I'm putting my money on “better.”
NEW CD RELEASES (in stores Tuesday, March 6)
Arcade Fire, “Neon Bible”
This indie rock outfit was deemed “Canada's Most Intriguing Rock Band” by Time magazine in 2005, and not surprisingly so. After their debut record “Funeral” received a sparkling 9.7/10 rating from Pitchfork Media in September 2004, Arcade Fire's popularity grew exponentially, until “Funeral” became Merge Records' first album to break into the Billboard 200. “Neon Bible,” their second full-length record, contains similar instrumentation to “Funeral” (including pipe organs and hurdy-gurdy), but takes a darker turn with its lyrics, discussing the end of the world, lack of hope, and distrust in the media.
Nico, “The Frozen Borderline: 1968-1970”
Singer, model, actress, heroin addict, you name it — Nico was a little bit of everything. As a Warhol Superstar, and a collaborator of artists such as Brian Eno, Bob Dylan, and The Velvet Underground, she was a key figure of the artistic explosion of the late Sixties and early Seventies. “The Frozen Borderline” features music produced by The Velvet Underground's John Cale and shows off Nico's distinct sound, blending avant-garde art rock with European folk. This two-disc set includes two of her albums, 1969's “The Marble Index” and 1970's “Desertshore,” but revamps them with previously unreleased material, including seven alternate song versions, six demos, and several session outtakes.
!!! (Chk Chk Chk), “Myth Takes”
This American dance-punk group (whose name is commonly pronounced “chk chk chk,” but can be pronounced as any sound repeated three times) unveils their third full-length album since their formation in 1996. !!! have a colorful history, having toured with bands such as Red Hot Chili Peppers and shared members with groups like LCD Soundsystem. “Myth Takes” features their single “Heart of Hearts,” an irresistible number filled with howling guitars, intense house beats, and vocals that weave a rich tapestry of styles, from disco and Nineties pop (think Real McCoy) to grungy post-punk.
RJD2, “The Third Hand”
RJD2, a hip-hop producer and vocalist from Columbus, Ohio, has been extremely busy these past several years. In fact, “The Third Hand” will be the eighth record he has created since 2001. Yes, you read right. Eight full-length records in seven years. Indeed, he has spent that time more than wisely, collaborating with some of the best underground rappers in the business, including MF DOOM and Cunninlynguists. “The Third Hand” will hold 15 tracks, and will be released on XL Recordings, a prominent label that has signed acts such as Peaches, The White Stripes, and Thom Yorke. RJD2's skillful, electronica-infused style (which I have seen appreciated equally by hip-hop aficionados, punks, skaters, indie kids, hipsters, and music snobs alike) will undoubtedly come through on this record, making it enjoyable for anyone and everyone.
Erin's Pick: All of the above. Musicwise, this week is going to kick some major butt. I'll definitely be looking into all the records listed above, and unlike in previous weeks, this week will yield a notable release for almost anybody's tastes. Aside from the albums I've already mentioned, Idlewild (the Scottish rock band that claimed the name long before Outkast used it for their album) are releasing their latest, “Make Another World,” French indietronica duo Air are coming out with “Pocket Symphony,” Brazilian DJ-producer Amon Tobin unleashes “Foley Room,” and Relient K are following up their breakout record “Mmhmm” with “Five Score and Seven Years Ago.” There's even a Brian Ferry record coming out. Woo-hoo!
NEW DVD RELEASES (in stores Tuesday, March 6)
“Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” (official site)
Sacha Baron Cohen's renowned mockumentary hits stores this Tuesday, with 30 minutes of bonus footage. Cohen (previously known for his HBO hit “Da Ali G Show”) plays Borat Sagdiyev, a horrifyingly biased and hilariously idealistic journalist from Kazakhstan, as he goes on a wild goose chase across the U.S., trying to learn about American culture and get closer to his object of desire: Pamela Anderson.
“Fast Food Nation” (official site)
Based on The New York Times bestselling book by Eric Schlosser, “Fast Food Nation” is a political drama that accounts for the blood, sweat, and tears that go into your average fast food meal. Academy Award-nominated director Richard Linklater brings big-name recognition to the film, while up-and-comer Paul Dano (of “Little Miss Sunshine” fame) stars alongside a slew of actors, including Wilmer Valderrama, Luis Guzmán and Avril Lavigne.
Erin's Pick: “Borat.” This movie was one of the funniest of 2006, and had me thinking about it even the day after I saw it, trying to understand it. One of my favorite things about the film was the abundance of blatant examples of “constructed superiority” among the proto-aristocratic classes that history teacher Bill Sutton would want us all to notice. Overall, while sometimes resorting to base humor (take the scene with Borat and his manager, Azamat, pointlessly running around and wrestling … naked), this film provided an interesting satirical perspective on American culture, and will likely be a fun DVD to own.
LOCAL SHOWS & CONCERTS
Friday, March 9: Coco Coca, Sleepyhead, Chris Black, Mit'n, 8 p.m., The Iron Post, $5. One-man band Coco Coca visits The Iron Post once again, this time as a nominee for “Best New Artist” in the 2007 WPGU-Buzz Local Music Awards. Another local one-man act, Sleepyhead, will spice up the evening with his complex electronica, and Chris Black, an alternative rocker from Austin, Texas, will join them, along with the local experimental group Mit'n.
Saturday, March 10: Margot & the Nuclear So and So's, Page France, Headlights, Gentleman Auction House, Canada, 8 p.m., Courtyard Café, $5 students; $7 public. Margot & the Nuclear So and So's, a beloved indie pop group from Indianapolis, pay us a visit with C-U's own wall-of-sound, shoegaze sensation Headlights. Both bands are scheduled to play at South by Southwest later this month in Austin, Texas. Joining them will be Page France, the Maryland folk-pop group that will accompany Headlights on the majority of their U.S. tour this spring.
Erin's Pick: Margot & the Nuclear So and So's et al. I haven't heard that much of their music, but their song “Skeleton Key” (which I heard on the radio non-stop this winter), is a perfect sing-along tune, complete with melodramatic lyrics, ample snare use, and accents from a viola and various bells and shakers, so I expect their live show to be at least moderately engaging. Also, I saw Headlights live in December, but unfortunately I wasn't terribly impressed at the time (probably due to the lack of volume from their vocal mics), so I'd really like to give them another chance.