Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sound and Vision Bites

I'm not in the mood to waste your precious time painting a pretty introductory picture here, so enclosed please find a Whitman's Sampler of the media I've been imbibing in of late.

America's Next Top Model--Masterpiece Theater? Ha! Some critically-ballyhooed HBO tele-series? Feh! ANTM serves up some of the most entertaining drama and silliness to be found on the boob tube. It ain't art, but it's taught the missus and me mucho about the fashion industry (ringleader Tyra Banks knows the modelling biz like nobody's business), and always serves up prime TV reality characters: looks-like-a-drag-queen Dominique is just begging to be smacked hard, but she does make for great TV. For the record, I'm rooting for soft-spoken nice girl Anya.


Robin B. Hood (on DVD from Dragon Dynasty)--Regular visitors to the Dish know that yours truly harbors much love for the great Jackie Chan, but even this hardcore fan has gotta cop to the man's spotty track record of late. On the face of it, this 2006 Chan opus (in which Jackie and Lewis Koo kidnap--then summarily grow attached to--a cute-as-a-button baby) sounds like pure agony (and that cheesy DVD cover ain't doing no one no favors). But it's one of Chan's most entertaining efforts in years, with action setpieces that hearken back to the master's mid-eighties peak and some incredible moments of knockabout comedy; in a nutshell, pure formula delivered with that combination of schmaltz, exuberance, and high-speed creative energy that fuels the best Hong Kong genre flicks. If you've been worn down by years of Medallions and Rush Hour sequels, this'll go a long way towards reaffirming what makes Jackie Chan special. Plus Yuen Biao (one of Chan's finest action foils during his eighties peak) turns up in a fun supporting role. Dragon Dynasty continues doing right by Chan with a nicely-appointed two-disc set.


Voyager One, Afterhours in the Afterlife--Voyager One just might be the best Britpop band to come out of Seattle, and that's a high compliment from this end. In an age when most UK bands content themselves generating rote anthems to pogo by, this bunch of Yanks effectively mine the swirly, trippy, danceable sound that made Brit outfits like Happy Mondays and the Stone Roses all the rage across the pond when I was barely legal drinking age. The glittering, expansive production and a surplus of very grabby hooks keep the whole enterprise from sliding into nostalgia. And you can dance to it.

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