Tuesday, March 10, 2009


So apparently, I went got off work and went to the movies about two years ago, and never came back. I've been searching for a lot of purpose in my life lately, being an unemployed college graduate, and I feel like picking this back up might help me. Or at the very least, it'll give me something to do in between watching porn, downloading an absurd number of albums, ordering food, drinking too much, and sleeping until noon.

Basically, I miss writing, and since I'd like to find a job where I get to write about music or movies, I thought it would be a good idea to get my chops back in order. While I don't have a new review for anyone today, I'm planning on doing the full reboot tomorrow, bringing you all something fun and new, scaling up to a "blank out of ten" scoring system, introducing a few new features (a weekly Netflix report including the movies I watch on instant viewing when I'm drunk, classic album reviews, top 5's (or 10's), and whatever else I feel like gracing you with. I'm sure no one reads this anymore, and I don't blame you, but hopefully you'll come back once this gets going again.

Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated. See you all tomorrow.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Don't Make Me A Target

Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Merge Records, 2007

Austin, TX's Spoon has always been one of those "almost" bands. Every time they release an album, it seems to be on the tip of every rock critic's tongue, and yet, they can never seem to get that big break. Not even the big break by indie rock standards. Not even some degree Shins or Death Cab-esque success amongst the college set. Lead singer and principal songwriter Britt Daniel always just escapes recognition as an incredible songwriter, regardless of the fact that Spoon's work is often associated with the new millenium rebirth of the endlessly influential Austin music scene. No matter how much acclaim they recieve, Spoon, like Andy Richter, "just can't seem to attract a real audience."

To be fair, I was one of those people that passed the band over time and time again before actually settling down and listening to 2005's Gimme Fiction, and even then, it was only because I had heard "I Turn My Camera On" on an episode of Veronica Mars and Against Me!'s Tom Gabel had declared it one of his favorite albums of the year. It's hard to recognize what it is about Spoon that makes them so exciting or listenable. There are moments when you want to say that it sounds kind of run-of-the-mill, but there's just something in there that keeps you coming back, trying to solve its puzzle. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga isn't a rock and roll album, and it's not a straight pop album. It straddles the line between rock and pop better than any other band has in the last ten years. The album is heavy on the piano, which is hardly a bad thing. The haunting second track, "The Ghost of You Lingers," fades in three different vocal parts one after the other, sounding (surprise!) like ghosts, while the organ jams away incessantly to a point that's almost obnoxious.

Why Spoon cannot attract an audience is inexplicable. The songs are there. Songs like "The Underdog" and "My Little Japanese Cigarette Case" sound like they could have been outtakes from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. They would fit in on Top 40 stations, they would fit on alternative stations. So why is it that a great song like the closing track, "Black Like Me," will probably never see the light of day, except for maybe in the background of a Coke commercial? Well, I don't really have an answer for that. Perhaps it's not really energetic enough for the rock crowd, or it's a little too simple for the indie crowd. Either way, it's not important. Some of the best artists go unnoticed during their time.

The dub posturing of "Eddie's Ragga" sounds more authentic than it should coming from a pop-rock band from Texas, which kicks off the stellar b-side of the album. While, not to say anything bad about the album's first 5 tracks, it's on the last half where it really picks up steam and shows the progression Spoon has made as a band, and that Daniels has made as a songwriter. The horn section in "The Underdog" sounds like it was lifted straight out of one of the Fab Four's poppiest tunes, which should make for some interesting comparisons, and the rhythm section of Jim Eno and Rob Pope are one of the tightest in operation today, and Spoon is lucky to have them as an anchor for each song.

To say something like, "Spoon has finally released the album that will send them hurtling into mega-stardom," is a complete falsification. After six full-length albums, it seems unlikely that people will be eager to just jump on all of a sudden. Spoon's ethereal and powerful pop-rock hasn't changed in style, it's just gotten better since 1996's Telephono. People who haven't given them a chance by now aren't going to any more convinced to, but hey, it's completely their loss. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is a near-perfect pop record without being too boring or over-caffinated, and likely one of the best we're bound to hear this year. (4.5/5 Stars)
Key Tracks: "Eddie's Ragga", "The Underdog", "My Little Japanese Cigarette Case", "Finer Feelings"
More Along These Lines: The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema, The Beatles - Revolver, Interpol - Antics
Download The Album In The Free Link I've Provided For Your Broke Ass:
Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

That last "More Along These Lines" is there because Interpol and Spoon have similarly tight rhythm sections. It's something I've always compared about the two. I'm on the last leg of this 16 hour RSR shift. I get to go home in about 30 minutes, which is exciting, althought I'm dreading the thought of walking home. Big props to my man Austin on this review. A lot of what appears in here came from a conversation we were having while I was writing this.

I'd have more to say, but I just posted like 8 hours ago, and in that time, all I've done was sit and watch TV. Although, I have been watching Rock Star, starring Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer Aniston, and man, that movie BLOWS. "So stop watching it," you tell me. Oh yeah, and why don't I stop breathing while I'm at it. Dick.

That's it for today. I'll be back tomorrow, as always. I might go to the movies tonight, so I might have something to say about that. Later, skaters.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Well I've Got Rhythm & I've Got Dreams

Fake Problems - How Far Our Bodies Go
Sabot Recordings, 2007

Potential. It's one of the last things a band on the verge of their big break wants to hear. Unfortunately, it's the word that's going to get tossed around in the direction of Florida's newest sons, Fake Problems. That's not to say that these boys (seriously, these kids are barely of age) aren't innovative in their own right. They obviously have a great understanding of the songwriting process, and some great lyrical styles, but at the age these boys are sitting on, they could be the Beatles and they'd still get that term thrown at them. So does it stick?

The short answer; yes. While Fake Problems has produced one of the most impressive and original sounding debuts punk has seen since Reinventing Axl Rose, it still has that air of over-zealousness that leads a band to ignore their tiny mistakes. Sometimes a flawed record is a good thing, though. A sense of youthful exuberance is all over this album though. Like some bastard child of pre-Communique American Steel and Tim Barry of Avail's solo work, How Far Our Bodies Go is a true punk-country hybrid, Fake Problems are able to bring in instruments like a mandolin and a violin and make them rock out loud. Tracks like "Staying & Leaving as Living & Dying" and "Busy Bees" are perfect examples of this. Lead singer Chris Farren has also taken on a more autobiographical style of writing, replacing heavy-handed political statements with quips and antecdotes about leaving college and childhood memories of his mother.

A lot of the new subject material has made this album a much more intense venture than the band's first two EP's. Every second of songs like "To Repel Ghosts," and "Maestro of This Rebellious Symphony," feels like the band is about to explode out of your headphones, tearing a hole through your head from one ear to the other (once more, youthful exuberance). However, it's not the exuberance that's keeping the band down. The more energetic songs come across great. It's the slower songs where the band starts to falter. The interludes and reprises are unnecessary, and take up space on the end of songs that would otherwise be easy to listen the whole way through. The last two tracks of the album are so lacking in that exuberance that they just sound comparatively lazy.

So is "potential" one of those words I'm going to have toss back in this band's face? Unfortunately, yes. While Fake Problems have finally released some material that's an actual reflection of their live show (read: good), they're still spending too much time on their idea of artistry. Fake Problems have written nearly two handfuls of incredible songs, but they are somewhat marred by the fact that the listener is forced to sit through lackluster interlude tracks and lazy ruminations. But like I said, there is a lot of potential here. Let's hope that by the time their next album drops, they'll have been able to cut away some of that fat. (3.7/5 Stars)
Key Tracks: "Born & Raised", "Maestro of This Rebellious Symphony", "To Repel Ghosts", "Life's a Drink, Get Thirsty!"
More Along These Lines: Against Me! - Reinventing Axl Rose, Tim Barry - Laurel Street Demo, Drag the River - Hobo's Demos
Download The Album In The Free Link I've Provided For Your Broke Ass:
Fake Problems - How Far Our Bodies Go

Weird that two of the "More Along These Lines" albums were demos, huh? I even almost chose Against Me!'s Vivada Vis demo tape as well, but decided that it was a little too folksy. I guess that's a good example of that youthful exuberance and inexperience I was talking about in the band. Today's review was pretty short. I'm debating whether or not I'm going to actually do another one before my 8 A.M. - 4 P.M. shift is done. But then i remember I'm probably going to be so wasted after my first 8 hour shift at RSR that I'll sleep through the second one. Why I've chosen to participate in what's known around my house as the "16 hours of pain," I've no clue. But here I am.

I started my first summer class today. It's "Coming of Age in Cinema," which, believe it or not, also has it's own blog, which I've handsomely linked over in the links section of this page. I'm excited about the class, it should be pretty fun, most of the movies we're screening are pretty awesome (the ones I've seen, at least, which is like 5 out of 16 of them). Sorry about the small image size on this post, this is sincerely the largest image I could find on the tubes. It's a shame, because it's good artwork too. Steak Mountain does some great work.

I'm not sure I enjoy this terrifying anime show on Adult Swim. Shin Chan, I believe it's called? It has to be one of the raunchiest shows I've ever seen, right up there with Bill Plympton's more X-rated material.

Alright kids, I'm going to try and sleep a little maybe, and I might post again during my next shift, and I might also finally finish this Sociology project I got an extension on last week. I might also decide to re-watch all of season 3 of Veronica Mars on AllUC. Or decide that I want to finally start watching Heroes. Either way, I'm in for something or other. Sorry I'm not so eloquent right now, but it's 4 in the morning and I've been up since 9. Later skaters.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Dashboard Melted But We Still Have The Radio

Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
Epic Records, 2007

Isaac Brock is a complete maniac. What other man in the world of indie rock would have the audacity to just call up legendary Smiths guitarist, Johnny Marr, and ask him to help write his band's new album? Crazy a ploy/gimmick as it sounds; Brock has made one of the smartest moves of his career in enlisting Marr to join the band. This album contains some of the most abrasive and most accessible songs in Modest Mouse's discography. Aside from the second single, "Missed the Boat," there's not a single track on the album that sounds like any of Marr's work with that other band.

Together the two indie rock visionaries have crafted, as Brock calls it, a "nautical balalaika carnival romp." We Were Dead is an underwater album in the vein of Ween's The Mollusk. Granted, in terms of composition, the two albums sound nothing alike, but both sound like something you'd hear on a cruise ride on a glass submarine, only Modest Mouse's sounds like it's taking the submarine equivalent of the Titanic on a trip through the arctic. I suppose the comparison is kind of irrelevant, but it's the only other nautically-themed record I could think of off the top of my head.

The album kicks off with the rollicking "March Into the Sea," with Brock unleashing his famous bark against a stomping beat supplied by always impressive Jeremiah Green, breaking violently through the quiet squeeze-box organ intro. The first single, "Dashboard," also holds up nicely with an extremely danceable beat, accompanied by Marr's distinct talent for melody. As a first single, it's a perfect follow-up to the band's work on 2004's Good News for People Who Love Bad News, showcasing a familiar sound and infusing it with an overall idea of what the album sounds like. The album is full of tracks that traverse this line. "Fly Trapped in a Jar" and "Florida" are great old-school, quirky freakouts centered around the band's jagged guitarwork and Brock's trademark vocal style. On the other hand, slower-going tunes like "Parting of the Sensory" and "Fire it Up" are both slower, quieter, and more reminiscent of the Mouse's more recent work.

The real standout of the album, however, is the epic "Spitting Venom." The song takes a Decemberists-esque acoustic guitar riff that almost sounds like Brock just fucking around. Something that might have been a 30 second interlude on the band's last album. While you're trying to figure it out, at the 1:30 mark, the whole band suddenly barges into the frame, like they're ambushing Brock, who thinks he's doing a simple acoustic tune. Luckily for everyone, he decides to go along with it. The song continues to run in cycles like this, slowing down, and then picking back up in full force, culminating in a 3 part harmony as the horn section wails away in the background.

Modest Mouse are, if anything, consistent. With the exception of Good News, if you like one song on the album, it's likely you'll like the rest. The nice thing about We Were Dead, is that it throws some caution to that formula. However, it's not quite enough to supply the variety that the band is really capable. Fortunately, with this album, the songs are solid enough, that it's easy not to mind listening to that same structure for 14 straight tracks. (3.9/5 Stars)
Key Tracks: "March Into the Sea", "Dashboard", "Spitting Venom", "Invisible"
More Along These Lines: The Arcade Fire - Funeral, Man Man - Six Demon Bag, The Pixies - Trompe le Monde
Download The Album In This Free Link I've Provided For Your Broke Ass:
Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

Much like with yesterday's review, you can look at this as me playing catch-up. I couldn't really find the right note to end that review on, so you're left with a poor concluding paragraph. Deal with it. Like I said yesterday, the season finale of Veronica Mars was on tonight. It was good. In some ways, it exceeded many of my expectations. Like how I thought it'd be a cop-out to throw Veronica and Logan back together just to make everyone happy, even though that's what I really wanted to see. They tackled it well. Logan (played to perfection by scientologist Jason Dohring) got to beat the shit out of two different dudes, there was tons of bloodshed, Dick revealed a budding problem with alcoholism, Jake Kane made a reappearance, plus there was tons of Wallace, which is something that had been missing for a while. All in all, a solid episode(s), but an unfortunately premature ending to a show that had an extremely bright future.

My first summer class starts tomorrow, but don't let that deter anyone, because I'll still be working these ridiculous 4-Midnight shifts at resident safety, where I'll have plenty of time to write one entry a day. My relief is probably showing up here momentarily, so I'm going to cut this a little short. I'd like to remind everyone again to check out that new Okkervil River track, it's bangin'. The link is in yesterday's post. Also here's a link to the new Interpol tune. I'm digging it. Reminds me more of Turn on the Bright Lights than Antics. As always, enjoy your evenings, I'll be seeing y'all tomorrow. Later skaters.

Monday, May 21, 2007

I Hope You're In Your Car Right Now, Turning This Shit Up So Loud

Lifetime - Lifetime
Decaydance Records, 2007

It's a story we've all heard a thousand times. Band goes unrecognized during their time, only to be fully appreciated after their demise. Everyone lamets the fact that the band split and wishes and wishes for a reunion, and when it finally happens, they all get excited. Then the band decides to record some new material that sounds a little poppier than it used to and their whole fanbase cries "Sellouts!"

After Lifetime reunited after an 8 year hiatus for a few shows in the summer of 2005, no one had really expected a new full-length within the next two years. What came even more unexpectedly was the fact that it would be released on Fall Out Boy Pete Wentz's label, Decaydance. Lifetime's two proper full-lengths for Jade Tree Records were the stuff of legends; part Husker Du, part Jawbreaker, all Jersey. So there was rightly a lot of speculation about what the album would turn out like. Fans of Lifetime should, in fact, be worried about this album, because all of the mall punk kids hanging out at Hot Topic are going to love it, and the worst part is, so are they.

Lifetime isn't really a departure from the the sound the band forged at all, but that speaks volumes for the driving melodic hardcore that Lifetime helped innovate. It holds up. The intro to "Try and Stay Awake" is a throwback to Jersey's Best Dancers' "Cut the Tension," and "Haircuts and T-Shirts" harkens back to everything you loved about every song Lifetime has recorded. In fact, the only discernable difference between the eponymous album and any of Lifetime's previous output is the change in lead singer Ari Katz' voice from a slightly mumbled, corpulent shout, to a slightly higher-pitched sing-speak, which make for a plethora of "Ari was better when he was fat!" jokes.

The lead track, "Northbound Breakdown" is one of the best opening tracks so far this year, with a chorus you'll be singing by the second time around, and a ridiculous breakdown, and the closer "Records at Nite" is a quintessential Lifetime breakup tune. Lifetime have a gift for not wasting any time. If you're thinking you can skip the last 15 seconds of any track on this album, you're probably going to miss the moment that will sell you on the song. Mr. Katz' gift of gab is second only to the honorable Blake Schwarzenbach in terms of punk rock balladry. His compelling and heartfelt words have always been the perfect compliment to his band's pop-punk-core. You'd be hard-pressed to find a punk out there who won't melt at a line like "I don't trust a thing in sight when everything is overrated. You're so good you just can't fake it." Katz lyrics aren't the only star of the Lifetime show though. Scott Golley's dextrous and powerful drumming carry many of the songs, pummelling each roll and crash with force and agility.

So what's the answer to the big question? Does it hold up to Hello Bastards and Jersey's Best Dancers? Admittedly, it is a much more commercially viable record, but a majority of that has to do with the musical climate of today. Lifetime is a more than worthy addition to a legendary band's catalogue. The band goes on to once again make it acceptable for even the most hardened of "punx" to have a heart. (4.3/5 Stars)
Key Tracks: "Northbound Breakdown", "All Night Long", "Can't Think About it Now", "Records at Nite", "Haircuts & T-Shirts"
More Along These Lines: Saves the Day - Can't Slow Down, Embrace - Embrace, Shook Ones - Sixteen
Download The Album In The Free Link I've Provided For Your Broke Ass:
Lifetime - Lifetime

Hey guys, this one was a little late today. I know the album came out in like February, but I feel like I've got a lot of catching up to do these days, so I'm kind of arbitrarily choosing albums for my reviews. Has anyone ever seen reruns of like the first 2 or 3 episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? There's this whole extended theme song that's a good 2 verses longer than the one we're all accustomed to. It details his momma packing his suitcase and his flight over in first class while he ogles the stewardess' tits. It's a little awkward and disillusioning.

In less exciting television news; tomorrow night, the CW network is airing the final two episodes of the brilliant and recently cancelled Veronica Mars. It may surprise a lot of you to know that VM is my favorite show on television (or was, rather), but The Simpsons hasn't been good since I was in middle school, and Arrested Development already got cancelled. But seriously, if you enjoy this blog, you'll probably like V Mars. It's got the same "snarky veneer of intellectualism," as I believe Lewie phrased it. Also, it has Kristen Bell, who is smoking hot, and the love of my life.

There's no link today, which I believe I explained to you fuckers yesterday. Seriously, I'll get that up and running again soon. Also, I found a track from Okkervil River's upcoming LP over at Pitchfork Media, and it's fantastic. Will Sheff's vocals are astounding, and it's got that same "big" Okkervil sound I've come to love. You'd do well to check it out. Your life will be better because of it. That's all for today, guys. I'll be back tomorrow with some shit or another. Later skaters.

Post Script: One of my roommates just clued me into this fancy screening of Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon. It's being done at the Lincoln Center on Sunday (5/27), and it's a restored print that's apprently never been screened before, plus a Q&A after with one of the actors, who also helped create the fucking lens Kubrick invented to make the film. You can click this link here, if you're in the New York metropolitan area and want to check it out. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Summer Preview '07 -or- I'm Too Lazy and Unfocused to Write a Whole Review

The summer album release marathon always comes with a lot of excitement/anticipation/disappointment. Much like the summer blockbuster movie season, a lot of this year's biggest albums will drop between May and August. What this little post plans to do is prepare you for it. I've got 5 tracks from 5 of the most anticipated albums of the summer. I've listened to them over and over and over again just so I can tell you all about them. Enjoy!

The White Stripes - "Icky Thump"
From the album Icky Thump (due out: 6/19/07)
There's a lot of worried speculation about this record. The White Stripes recording on digital equipment? Absurd! Well fear not, because at least "Icky Thump" is a hit. Choosing this title track as the lead single was a bold move by Jack White. It's far and away the most difficult single they've released, but it works. The track contains some of White's most impressive guitar work, and changes its style at the drop of a hat. It's a complicated song, but what it says about the rest of the album is bold as hell. Lead single says "most accesible track," and if "Icky Thump" is the most accessible track on this album, I'm psyched to see what other kind of insane shit Jack and Meg have come up with for Icky Thump. The song is worth it for the 3 separate guitar solos and the stomping organ riff in the song's intro. (4.2/5 Stars)

Against Me! - "White People for Peace"
From the album New Wave (due out: 7/10/07)
This album probably isn't in the same echelon as say, the new White Stripes or Kanye records, but it's got a place in my heart, and it is probably the biggest punk album coming out this year. That being said, I picked up this final version of "White People for Peace" from their tour-only 7 inch, after having heard it a couple of times live, plus some random YouTube videos of it. To be fair, this has been my least favorite track that I've heard from this album, which isn't to say that it's bad, it's just a little lackluster. The overt political message reminds me a lot of Searching for a Former Clarity's "From Her Lips to God's Ears (The Energizer)", which also wound up being a single that I didn't particularly care for. Musically, it's a much slicker track, and almost, dare I say, trendier sounding. It has been growing on me as I've exhausted the hell out of it, but it's still a pretty weak single for a band that can do a lot better. Oh well, at least it's not as bad as "Full Sesh," the b-side of this 7 inch. (3.2/5 Stars)

Kanye West - "Can't Tell Me Nothing"
From the album Graduation (due out 9/18/07)

This track was a big disappointment to me. Kanye sounds lazy as hell on it, and the lyrics leave a little to be desired. I dig the beat, but I feel like Kanye is trying way too hard to be Jay, and unfortunately, that seems to include aping his reitrement home sound from Kingdom Come. I'm still reserving some hope that the rest of Graduation will reaffirm my faith in Mr. West, but this is a very poor first impression coming from a man whose first two records had great singles. Not to mention the reappearance of Coldplay's Chris Martin on the album. What the fuck is next? Coldplay drops their next album on Roc-A-Fella and brings Dame Dash along as hypeman on their next tour. Come on guys. (2.0/5 Stars)

Aesop Rock - "None Shall Pass"
From the album None Shall Pass (due out 8/28/07)
This track has been in my head since I first heard it. It's nice to hear a good old fashioned Blockhead beat again. Aesop is at the top of his game on this track. It's simple, repetitive, and limber, and it's catchy as fuck. This is, hands down, my most anticipated hip-hop album of the year. And the recent confirmation that The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle will be guesting on the album just makes it more exciting. (4.0/5 Stars)

Queens of the Stone Age - "Sick, Sick, Sick"
From the album Era Vulgaris (due out 6/12/07)

I'm not yet completely sure what to make of this tune. It's much more harsh and abrasive than any other single QOTSA have released. It kind of makes sense though. The way Josh Homme has described the upcoming Era Vulgaris, is that it was inspired his daily commute through Hollywood, which he's described as being "dark, hard, and electrical." The track features Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas on Casio synth guitar and backing vocals. It has the same trippy, spaced-out atmosphere, and fuzzed-to-death guitar that I've come to love about the Queens, but it worries me if this is what the whole album is going to sound like. Josh Homme's voice is still in top form, and the band doesn't seem to have slipped much after the loss of Nick Oliveri, but I definitely couldn't handle a whole album of this. For extra gross-out factor, check out the video for the track. Terrifying. (3.7/5 Stars)

Download all 5 tracks here: http://www.mediafire.com/?fmmmxhdugov

Hey guys! I realize I took a considerable amount of time off there, but I unfortunately fell into that whole "post-spring break realize I've got a ton of shit to do and the year is almost over" thing, and I just never got back to this bad boy. Unfortunately for you, here I am. My semester just ended, and I've got two more days before my summer classes start, so I'm going to try to update this sucker more often. I've got an ass-ton of stockpiled reviews/review ideas that are just sitting around that I need to throw on here. The only bad news is that free links might have to stop for a while because my external hard drive (where I keep all of my music) got pwn3d, and I need to take it to Best Buy for a full data backup, but sooner or later, they'll start again. If I really get off my lazy ass this summer, I'll try to update this every day, or at least every other day. I know I said that during spring break, but come on, I've got 3 months of nothing here. I need something to keep my brain going.

But hey, it's summer. I'm going to go outside tonight and grill myself a big ass steak, have some beers, and maybe take a nice jaunty little walk around the neighborhood. Later skaters.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

It's Blood. Son Of A Bitch.

Directed By: Robert Rodriguez & Quentin Tarantino (featuring Rob Zombie, Eli Roth, & Edgar Wright)
Dimension Films, 2007

Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino have become, as of late, every male film geek's wet dreamweavers. Rodriguez' Sin City set a new bar for every comic book film to follow, and Tarantino has been making films for film majors since 1992's Reservoir Dogs. Needless to say, Grindhouse is the team-up that every nerd that works at Blockbuster has been waiting for, and the film delivers on everything that gets their Back to the Future panties wet. Grindhouse is 3 hours and 15 minutes of blood, gore, laughs, gore, curse words, pop culture references, B-movie shout-outs, and more gore. But most of all, Grindhouse is just fucking fun.

The film begins with a trailer for a Rodriguez film starring Danny Trejo (Desperado, Con Air) as a Federale hired by the FBI to do a hatchet job in the U.S. called Machete. As the only trailer for a real film in the movie (it's going straight to DVD, look out for it), it's not worth a whole lot of mention here, but it looks awesome, so there you go.

After a credits sequence borrowed from Tarantino's previous two films, the Kill Bill series, Rodriguez' "zombie" flick, Planet Terror begins. Planet Terror stars Rose McGowan as a go-go dancer sans leg in a west Texas town who must escape the outbreak of a deadly virus that is turning people into zombies. Josh Brolin knocks his role out of the park as a doctor trying to get to the bottom of the outbreak, and Marley Shelton's role as his vindictive and mysterious wife is also spectacular, especially the scene where she's attempting to get her anesthetically impaired hands to open her car door. The best things about B horror films that you love laughing about are here: the unnecessarily convoluted plot, the gratuitous blood and gore, the sexy femme fatale. The plot twist where you learn that Bruce Willis' character, Muldoon, killed Osama Bin Laden, who unleashed a biological attack on his men, is absolutely hysterical. Like all the best cheap zombie directors, Rodriguez is able to convince you that he's completely serious.

The best gag, however, is the "Missing Reel" plot device. One moment, Freddy Rodriguez and Rose McGowan (complete with wooden peg leg) are about to get their fuck on, the next, the rib place they're hiding out in is on fire and surrounded by zombies. The characters make references to things that happened that we've missed, but in such veiled terms that it makes it that much more amusing. Quentin Tarantino makes a brief appearance as a creepy military officer that attempts to rape Marley Shelton and Rose McGowan. The unfortunate part of this (or maybe the fortunate part) is that you can tell Tarantino wanted to be menacing, but just came across as creepy. And not creepy in a genuine sense, but creepy in the sense that it's Quentin Tarantino trying to rape Marley Shelton and Rose McGowan.

Rodriguez' half of this double feature embodies everything that Grindhouse should be. He plays up all of the cliches of the B movie business, and somehow manages to do it with a straight face. There's not a whole lot of substance here, and it's honestly more of a comedy than a serious horror film, but it works. Like I said, it delivers exactly what it promises.

Between the two features, there is an especially lovely treat in the form of three fake movie trailers by some of today's leading horror directors. Rob Zombie (a personal favorite) leads the pack with Werewolf Women of the S.S., an hysterical send-up of Nazi horror films like Ilsa, She-Wolf of the S.S.. Revered German actor, Udo Kier makes an appearance in the trailer, as does Nicolas Cage in a great turn as Dr. Fu Manchu, the head of the werewolf operation. Following Werewolf Women, we get Edgar Wright's (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) offering, Don't, which features a spectacular voiceover from Arrested Development's Will Arnett. Eli Roth's slasher film, Thanksgiving brings up the rear, and is actually better than any two minutes from the entirety of Roth's previous work.

After the trailers, we segue into Tarantino's film, Death Proof. From the get-go, the film is very Tarantino. The problem overall with Death Proof, is that it's way too Tarantino. The dialogue is witty and quick, but there's too much of it that doesn't go anywhere. In the film, Kurt Russell plays Stuntman Mike, a retired stuntman that delights in murdering sexy girls with his car. After a long and drawn-out segment at a bar, Stuntman Mike kills some girls he meets at a bar. This segment is unbelieveably weighed down by Tarantino's dialogue, bloating what should only be a 10-15 minute segment into nearly 45 minutes. The film recovers somewhat in the second half, with a bitchin' chase scene, and some great stuntwork by the lovely Zoe Bell. Again, the "Missing Reel" gag comes into play, but it's completely unnecessary and Tarantino doesn't play on it at all. It's hard not to feel like Tarantino dropped the ball on his half of this film. Too much dialogue, too much homage, and not enough substance. Russell's character seems to do a 180, going from a calculating badass, into a scared little girl. The main problem with Death Proof is really that it's just way too Tarantino. It seems as though he becomes way too emotionally invested in what he produces to know what to cut from his films. The second half of Death Proof feels more like the sequel to the first half, instead of feeling like the same movie. The only thing they share is the principal character of Stuntman Mike. Bitching aside, Death Proof delivers some solid performances from Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Rosario Dawson, Zoe Bell, and Kurt Russell. And when it's not being too full of itself, it manages to eke out some great lines and a killer fucking car chase.

Overall, Rodriguez' Planet Terror trumps Death Proof on every front, but the real stars of the show are the auxillary players that bring the fake trailers. Wright, Zombie, and Roth all slay their parts, and prove that brevity is, in fact, the soul of wit. That's not to discount either Rodriguez or Tarantino (well, maybe a little bit), but it's proving the point that it's the little things about Grindhouse that make it so enticing. The little details like the ads and the trailers and the pre-credits credits and the worn look of the film and the cigarette burns. The beauty of this film is in the details, but when it comes down to it, it still leaves a little bit to be desired. (3.4/5 Stars)
More Along These Lines: Steven Speilberg's Duel, George A. Romero's Living Dead series, Rob Zombie's House of 1,000 Corpses & The Devil's Rejects