Month: June 2005

This Must Be The Place

David Byrne played last night in Central Park to a house of dedicated, wet fans. Ann and I were among them. Accompanied by the Tosca Strings he played many songs from his solo albums (highlights: She Only Sleeps With Me” and “Like Humans Do”) plus some old Talking Heads chestnuts (“Life During Wartime,” “I Zimbra,” “Road To Nowhere” and many others.) I’ve seen Mr. Byrne five times now, and this is the only time that I’ve seen him take rockin’ Neil Young-esque guitar solos. He performed “Psycho Killer” pretty spare, with just the strings beneath him, until he ripped out his axe, so to speak, and the drums kicked in. It was an unexpected moment. Also unexpected was the gorgeous reworking of Jimi Hendrix’s “One Rainy Wish,” the title of which an unpredicted pun. Lastly, at the end of the show, Byrne and Co. disappeared and a wild collection of New Orleans brass performers took the stage. They were groovy. For millions of years, In millions of homes A man loved a woman, A child it was born It learned how to hurt and it learned how to cry Like Humans Do I’m breathin’ in I’m breathin’ out Ohhhhhh! So slip inside this funky house Ohhhhhh! Dishes in the sink TV’s in repair Don’t look at the floor Don’t go up the stairs I’m achin’ I’m shakin’ I’m breakin’...

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Outraged at this Outrage of the Outrage

This knucklehead writes that smoking guns like the Downing St. Memo (or the revelations in Bob Woodward’s book and Richard Clarke’s testimony to the 9/11 commission. . .but they were over a year ago so you can’t blame people for forgetting them) are a waste of time for the anti-war movement. He couldn’t be more wrong. Even people who support the war on ideological grounds (you know. . .fascists) can not argue down a lie. I’d hate to see this guy’s theories gain traction on the...

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A Frappe On The Wrist

Iced Greek Coffee looks soooo tasty on a hot day, and all the Greeks on 30th Avenue look so happy sipping them. While I would never think to patronize one of the hardcore coffee bars near the subway, the Galaxy Cafe on our block is usually empty enough to seem inviting. We had a nice table in the breeze, overlooking the natural beauty and splendor that is Queens. Anyhow, I hadn’t had a cup of coffee since late April, 2002. This is when I began having very nasty reactions to caffeine. For years I wouldn’t even drink Coca-Cola. I started having the occasional Coca-Cola about 9 months ago and so far so good. (I used to get a horrible throbbing in my carotid artery when I drank coffee. The final time I had it, the throbbing lasted three days. I was convinced I was having a stroke and saw my doctor, who told me to switch to decaf.) Anyway, I drank the frappe and it was soooooo good. But I made sure to drink a lot of water with it. I doubt if this does anything to dilute the caffeine, but I figured it couldn’t hurt. Almost instantly, I felt the effects. While I didn’t get a throbbing in my neck like I used to, I did get really antsy. I started talking really fast and then noticed that...

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History of the World: Part One (1981), Mel Brooks, A+

Brooks’ best, one of the funniest films ever. And what a cast! Cameos from Shecky Green, Bea Arthur, Sid Caesar, Henny Youngman, Jackie Mason, Ronnie Graham, Spike Milligan, John Hurt, etc. etc. And this doesn’t include the list of Brooks’ regulars like Madeline Kahn as Empress Nympho. Ms. Kahn’s ability to be daffy, cruel and sexy all at once is an unrivaled comedic triumph; she truly was one of the most gifted performers of the 20th Century. “History of the World” was incredibly ahead of its time — the Spanish Inquisition bit alone has inspired a season’s worth of Simpsons episodes. What Brooks does so well is mix in very complex jokes (eg “The Jig Is Up!”) with dopey old vaudeville schtick you can see coming down Broadway (“These Fifteen. . .oy! Ten, Ten Commandments!”) and some jokes that are just so stupid you have to laugh (“Nothing! I have Nothing for sale!”). This is one to be studied and...

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Napoleon Dynamite (2004), Jared Hess, B+

Ann bought the DVD, so now we can freeze-frame and read all the little signs and posters and stuff in the back of the frame til the cows come home. Indeed, the props and costumes and overall attention to detail is one of the big stars of the show. The other is just Napolean muttering IDIOT! under his breath. How did they know that would be so funny? You look at that in a script and you think, “is this going to be funny?” Somehow, they pulled it off. I’d forgotten many things since seeing this in the theaters — the Happy Hands Club and Rex Quan Do. I wish the movie had more of, um, a plot. . .but it’s hard to dislike it. The “wedding scene” they tagged on once the movie got popular is a...

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Jordan Hoffman is a New York-based writer and film critic working for The Guardian, Vanity Fair, Thrillist, Times of Israel, NY Daily News and elsewhere.

He is the host of ENGAGE: The Official Star Trek Podcast, a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and challenges you to a game of backgammon.

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