Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Book, a CD, a TV Show, and a Movie

A book: Positively Fifth Street by James McManus

True, first-person account of the author flying to Vegas and covering both the rise of women poker players at the year’s biggest tournament and the obscene murder trial of those who killed the brother of that casino’s owner. And the author makes the final table of the big tournament as he befriends the casino’s owner as her brother’s cold-hearted murderers try to cheat justice. And he has insight into addiction, family, and criminal psychology. And it’s surprisingly touching. And it’s funny. And …

A CD: Liars by Liars

Liars fans are hard to find, but I am one of them. I was hypnotically drawn to their challenging krautrock concept album Drum’s Not Dead, finding it exceedingly rewarding with the help of a little patience. But this album is as straightforward as its title. Stomping rockers mingle with danceable drum beats that occasionally sound like Beck, and it all has plenty of distortion. It feels like the band finally stepped out of a German recording studio and rediscovered a raucous New York bar.

A TV Show: Life

It’s not the most amazing show, but I can’t stomach most of what’s on TV, especially the big networks. On the surface, it sounds like yet another investigative crime drama where the person you’d least expect ends up being the murderer. That part is fairly accurate, but the lead actor Damian Lewis brings wit and mystery to an LA cop who has returned to the force after being falsely imprisoned for 12 years. Unlike most crime dramas, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and still makes you feel for Lewis’ character.

A Movie: Eastern Promises

David Cronenberg is known for pushing limits, especially when it comes to violence. If you’re looking for blood, this film won’t disappoint. But the limits that make this the best movie I’ve seen all year are the ones its characters can’t pull themselves away from. The beautiful cinematography and magnificently realistic acting make every scene, whether it’s in a restaurant, hospital, or bathhouse (especially bathhouse), extremely tense. It’s effortlessly subtle and emotional while still being bloody as hell.


Josh said...

I'm with you all the way on your recommendations. Except for Liars, of course. I've just never been able to come around to their sound. Where are the handclaps, dammit? Where are the handclaps!?!

Megan said...

Bryan, do you give a $1 refund as well?

Bryan said...

Yes, but it's change only. Gotta get rid of them nickles!

Ami said...

Hmm. I'm also not sure if I agree with the statement that "Liars fans are hard to find." Let me point you to this:

Todd said...

Good call on Eastern Promises, Shaft. I just saw it this afternoon, and except for the ending (which felt a little rushed), I loved the pacing and suspense and threat of violence throughout. And that bathhouse scene was... whoo boy... somethin' else.

I'm not as sold on the new Liars disc, though, and I am a big fan of theirs. I don't know, but it's not as menacing as it could be.

Bryan said...

There's a noise the knife makes at one point in the bathhouse scene that made my skin crawl. I think the scene debunks any steroetypes that bathhouses are less than manly.

Yeah, the Liars album could be more menacing. I think part of why I like it is that some songs sound like they shouldn't be coming from the Liars.