From Paris to Hawaii: Ranking The 2011 Best Picture Nominees

The Vinyl Recliner ranks the nine Best Picture nominees from 2011, ahead of Sunday’s Academy Awards telecast. From Paris to Hawaii, and the 1920s to the Present Day, the Oscar nominees told tales both extremely loud and incredibly silent. The nominees included stirring personal dramas of horse and men (and women), the national pastime, and grand homages to old Hollywood, all painted with strokes of everything from stark realism to hopeful whimsy.

Not even close.

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The (Sleep) Walking Dead?

Why don't you tell me I'm boring to my face, punk?

Early in season 2 of The Walking Dead, the wandering band of survivors came across a farm that offered a dramatic change of scenery. After a harrowing journey from the outskirts of Atlanta then through the city and then out through a highway, the survivors seemingly found some respite from the constant torrent of zombies, though still struggled with their own internal conflicts, loss, a missing child, and a now tenuous dynamic with the farm’s occupants (starting with the accidental shooting of Carl).  That idyllic farm seemed to exist inside a bubble free from the zombie plague, replacing the urban dehumanized zones and frightful forests with sprawling plains and cozy pastoral quarters.

A lot of critics and fans have complained about the slow pacing that has followed thereafter, seemingly wishing the survivors were more immersed in the apocalyptic world off of the farm and on the run. This is despite the fact that various endeavors into town (and eventually on the farm) have brought them into confrontation with the very hordes of zombies they thought they were safe from.

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Comic Book Men: Podcast is Prologue

Some of the negative reviews circulating about Comic Book Men (which debuted tonight on AMC) have implied that the show does nothing to dispel the myth about comic book store geekdom. However, if you dig beneath the surface, you will find that they are both embodying its best virtues and satirizing its extreme flaws, while showcasing the very fact that “geekdom” has grown to such broad levels that there’s no longer a valid stereotype to exploit.

In its first episode, Comic Book Men provides very cursory background information for the Men in question, all under the employ of Kevin Smith, as it is quick to jump into the meat of the show. Walt runs Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash in Red Bank, NJ, Mike is his lieutenant, Ming is one of Smith’s web employees who crosses over, and Bryan is, well, that’s complicated. Bryan and Walt are longtime friends of Kevin’s and, as has been well documented, inspirations for his Randall and Brodie characters, respectively. The two, along with Brian Quinn, have some renown as the Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave podcast (a must-listen for those with ear buds and spare time). While Bry doesn’t work at the Stash, as you see in this episode, he’s certainly essential to wit of the show. [Read more…]

An Awful Kind of Truth

I have never doubted the skill and capable hands of Edward Van Halen so I never felt that A Different Kind of Truth would somehow need to prove that he still had it. The man has dealt with some personal issues over the years which have led to a void in creativity that is finally being filled again. But Eddie hasn’t lost his touch. (Nor for that matter has brother Alex, on the drums.)

There’s just not a whole lot of melody to be found on the album. Or good singing. Or lyrics.

Admittedly, I lean more towards the Sammy Hagar-led incarnation of Van Halen. However, there isn’t anything here that even reminds us of the genius of Roth-era songs like “Dance the Night Away,” “Runnin’ With the Devil” or “Jamie’s Crying.” There’s barely a breather in what is essentially a collection of fast rockers. I know that macho fans will claim this is all they ever wanted, but it doesn’t make for quality album sequencing and isn’t exactly true to the band’s roots. [Read more…]

Counting Crows Dive Into Underwater Sunshine

Counting Crows have officially announced the release date, cover art and track listing for their latest project, Underwater Sunshine (or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation), a collection of cover songs that mostly skews towards obscure with a few familiar tunes. Recorded in 2011, the album not only marks the return of the band to recording for the first time since Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings, but also its first independent venture since splitting from longtime label Geffen Records. As indicated in that departure, the band is utilizing grassroots ideology in promoting the new album via social networking and free album streaming. They’ll also take to the road for the first time in a few years, which has always been their most successful and viable forum, and where many of these songs first took root.

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