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Two Quick Reviews
2008-09-15 08:14
by Will Carroll

Kings of Leon opened for U2 on part of the Elevation Tour and it was a headscratcher to me. I get it now.

Their new album, "Only By The Night", is what U2 would sound like if they grew up in Tennessee instead of Dublin. The Followill boys fourth album is the equivalent of "War" if you compare canons and it's very apt comparison. The band is clearly growing, coming back from a 'down' album that will likely be looked at as consolidation with history's distance. It has the radio friendly tunes, if such a thing exists, and anthems, if you can sing along to a song called "Sex On Fire."

The songs never seem to ebb, mixing southern rock by way of The Black Crowes with Stax style vocals and yet, underneath it all, there's something that seems more than just the sum of its influences. It ends up like a mint julep without quite enough sugar and some grit in it. It's not perfect, it kicks a little bit more than you expected, but you're going to drink it and smile.

By the time the drums stop thumping on "Be Somebody," you'll realize that we have yet another contender for album of the year.


The Coens say that "Burn After Reading" completes their "idiot trilogy," a series of movies with George Clooney that includes the transcendant "O Brother Where Art Thou?" and "Intolerable Cruelty." If it completes a trilogy, we can only hope it doesn't end their work with Clooney. Until "O Brother," I never got Clooney. I didn't understand what women saw in him or what casting directors did either, but then, I did. He's not Cary Grant, as many want to see him, but he might end up as Jack Lemmon, which is pretty damn good in its own way.

Clooney's idiocy is a bit different here, a fragile sort of swagger that breaks quickly, becoming the "instinct, muscle memory" that he speaks of in a far different context. He's only one of the broken characters here that are hit dead on. The Coens wrote the script for the specific actors and it shows. Frances McDormand is, as always, spot on, while John Malkovich is typically Malkovich, able to be subtle and self-parody all at once. What actor could survive "Being John Malkovich" intact besides him? His character reminded me of what Basie may have become after the war. Brad Pitt is great too, waving his arms with something just shy of the manic power he had in "12 Monkeys."

It's not an Oscar film. It's a farce at heart, but one with enough substance that when all the thousand threads come together at the end, you'll be shocked that the credits are beginning and the lights are coming up.

2008-09-17 09:25:53
1.   Chuck R
Props to the Empire of the Sun reference, a movie of which I never grown tired. Basie after the war, an interesting concept. FWIW, James Ballard wrote a sequel about what happens to Jim after the war called the Kindness of Women. Jim grows up, becomes a Canadian Air Force pilot longing to drop the next nuke, and also gets laid a lot.

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