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Come on Come on
Come on Come on
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential for any CD collection, April 23, 2007
This review is from: Come on Come on (Audio CD)
Like probably many people, I've been a fan of Chapin since this album was released in 1992... truly it was her breakthrough album. And with good reason, too: not only was it an incredible country-crossover when country music was the "latest rage", but it's also an unbelievably good album.

After so many years of being a fan - I own all of her albums - I finally had the chance to see her in concert at the Warner Theatre in Torrington, CT. The show consisted of her and only three other musicians (including longtime cohorts John Jennings and John Carroll). No drummer accompanied them. She and the band were seated throughout the show as evidence of "how old and creaky" they've become (her words, not mine). They simply played, and the music was soulful, deep and magical.

It inspired me to finally praise "Come On Come On", which is still to this day my favorite album of hers. Yes, she's done other amazing work both before (the wistful folk and bubbly country of "State of the Heart", 1989) and after (the insightful and post-9/11-weary "Between Here and Gone", 2004)... but I still like this album best. Simply put, there isn't a bad song on it. I can't imagine anyone not being riled up by the entirely-justified feminist rant of "He Thinks He'll Keep Her", or not be moved by the sad, sullen beauty of "I Am a Town".

Simply put: If I was allowed on 10 CDs to accompany me to a desert island, this would be one of them. If you don't own it, you should... it's a classic.

Lie Down With Dogs
Lie Down With Dogs
DVD ~ Wendy Adams
Offered by Stare Media
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Beyond Bad, April 3, 2007
This review is from: Lie Down With Dogs (DVD)
I'll be blunt: there are a lot of really bad independent gay-themed films out there... this one is, quite simply, the worst.

It's one thing to produce a low-budget film that features bad acting, a bad screenplay, bad camerawork and bad editing. This film has all of that but goes way beyond, to include bad jokes, a bad message and some really, REALLY bad stereotypes that are entirely offensive.

The fault here falls squarely on the shoulders of writer/director/actor/narcissist Wally White. His goal here was to create a whimsical, light-hearted diary of someone's (presumably his, considering how insanely vain this vanity project is) stint as a houseboy in the resort town of Provincetown, Massachusetts. And, of course, White cast himself as the lovable stud at the center point of the "story" (I use quotes because there really isn't one here.) The problem is that White is neither lovable nor studly. He isn't funny, either. In fact, White - with his protruding belly and nasally delivery - is so gratingly UNlikeable that it's nearly astonishing to watch.

Even worse, White makes it clear that anyone who isn't like him - an airheaded gym-bunny party-boy born to dance the night away - is somehow inferior. The worst example of this heartless and condescending behavior comes when White's character of Tommie imparts his "Square State" theory... in a crowded dance club, he points out to a friend all the substandard men he can find and notes that, because of their sheer inferiority, they must be from some hideously unchic, square-shaped state. The fact that White even thinks this is funny just makes it all the more shocking.

Look, as a minority, gays and lesbians incur enough criticism from outside our world; the fact that one of our own could dish out the same kind of loathing from within our own community is unfathomable. It shrieks of insecurity, insensitivity and everything that's wrong with the gay subculture. And even if White somehow meant it to be a send-up of this behavior (and trust me, he didn't), it still isn't entertaining in the least.

Do not, under any circumstances, waste your time with this movie. I really don't want to have to say "told ya so."

Major Lodge Victory
Major Lodge Victory
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Blossoms are back. That's enough for me., September 5, 2006
This review is from: Major Lodge Victory (Audio CD)
So, I loved this band back in the 90's. When I heard that had broken up, I was disappointed... they seemed to capture the essence of "jangle pop" better than anybody (except for, perhaps, the Goo Goo Dolls, who I also like a whole lot.)

Needless to say, I picked up a copy of this, their first album in ten years, when it was hot on the shelf. And ya know what? It's not a bad album at all. Earth shakingly good? Nah. Who cares... it's pure Gin Blossoms through and through, jangly and listenable from beginning to end.

The CD opens with the one-two punch of "Learning the Hard Way" (their galloping, infectious first single) and "Come On Hard." I'll be honest and say that these are my two favorite tracks... they're the hookiest of the bunch, the ones you're most likely to end up humming during the day at work. (A possible exception is "Fool for the Taking", another of my favorites.) This isn't to say that the album goes down hill from there necessarily... the rest is decent, moderate rock that any band could be proud to have published.

Cabin Fever
Cabin Fever
DVD ~ Jordan Ladd
Offered by Media Megalodon
Price: $16.90
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11 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unbearably dense., August 17, 2004
This review is from: Cabin Fever (DVD)
The key to making a good horror film is to make the world of the film believable. Think of the creepy suburban nightmare of "Poltergeist," or the movie-within-a-movie polish of "Scream," or even the malevolent hell of "Carrie"'s high school. Likewise, said movie needs to follow some sort of logic... and if the setting is the real world, then the characters should behave like real people, no?

This is where "Cabin Fever" totally and utterly fails. No one in the film behaves with even the tiniest bit of common sense. It isn't because their characters are stupid or frightened, or because the world of the film allows for people to behave so incredibly idiotically... it's because their lines just written that way. The filmmaker creates a very "real" threat (a skin-eating virus) and then proceeds to have all of his characters react in completely moronic, unreal (and therefore unbelievable) ways. Examples:

1. Our party-animal frat-boy character (haven't we seen this jackass in at least a million other movies already?) sets everything in motion by choosing to simply kill a transient who makes a failed attempt to steal their vehicle, rather than let the guy just run away. Committing unjustified murder... always a smart idea. PS - the aforementioned frat reject is unneccessarily mouthy, rude, drunk and dense. Big surprise, that.

2. A cop shows up on-scene. On a bicycle. He acts borderline retarded, and uses the word "party" every other word (unlike every other character in the film, who drop the F-bomb as if it were "and" or "the.") This guy is a cop? I don't care how backwoods this place is... they just don't allow dull-normal teenagers to put on a badge and carry a gun. Talk about an insult to police departments everywhere.

3. When we do actually meet up with someone who is a bonafide mental reject, he proceeds to bite one of our infected lead losers, after screaming "Pancakes! Pancakes!" and doing "Matrix"-style kung-fu kicks for no discernible reason. (Was this supposed to be some avant-garde statement? If so, it doesn't work.) Then the mentally-impared kid's caretaker launches into a monologue that really doesn't make any sense at all. Trust me, I rewound and listened to it three times... it's just mindless blathering.

4. The one and only inspired scene in the film witnesses the less-virginal of the two women characters, now infected, as she retreats to the cabin's bathroom and shaves her legs. The razor courses over her nubile, shaving cream-covered shins. Underneath, the ravages of the virus appear as patches of her mottled skin ooze and bleed. Gross, yes. Unsettling? For sure. So what ruins this one little gem? Later, one of the guys surveys the damage at the cabin, including the bathroom... which is now, somehow, DRENCHED in blood. Blood everywhere. When did this oozy little scene turn into total carnage? I don't recall the gal shaving with a chainsaw.

5. Another of our annoying leads (the non-infected one) is set up as being overly-paranoid and fearful that he's gonna catch the killer bug. After coming close to setting a record as the most grating character ever written, he manages to flee from the camp before the virus gets him. And then, without explanation, he GOES BACK the following morning. Oy.

6. (SPOILER ALERT) My favorite: our main character finally succumbs to the dreaded virus after his buddies have already been cremated by the "Deliverance"-like locals at the cabin-from-hell. In a cruel twist of fate, it's "party" cop who is transporting him as he expires... not to a hospital as promised, but to certain doom and the awaiting bonfire we presume. But no. For absolutely no reason, the infected moron's carcass ends up DUMPED IN THE LOCAL WATER SUPPLY. Why? Oh, because without this inexplicable little plot twist, there's no chance for a sequel.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Some people are touting this film are having an edge or style, even saying that the director is the new Peter Jackson. Thing is, the old Peter Jackson is enough for all of us... the guy couldn't even wear a shirt that fit to the Oscars, for cryin' out loud. And as for "Cabin Fever," it isn't art... it's crap.

Between Here And Gone
Between Here And Gone
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chapin's BACK!, June 28, 2004
This review is from: Between Here And Gone (Audio CD)
Mary-Chapin Carpenter has always ranked as one of my favorites... I've always felt that there isn't an artist out there who can write more subtle and touching music. And although she can truly rock when she wants to (is there anyone out there who can resist "He Thinks He'll Keep Her" from "Come On Come On"?), her soulful voice has always been put to it's best use on her sadder, more sentimental tunes.

That being said, her last few albums have seemed to be on a slightly downhill trend. "Time*Sex*Love" is no doubt my least favorite MCC compilation. It felt anxiously folksy to me, and me, being the pessimist, expect more from her next album.

I'm thrilled to say that Chapin has regained her momentum and sense of style: "Between Here and Gone" is undoubtedly her best effort since "Come On Come On." A passionate, sweeping and beautiful album, "Between Here and Gone" witnesses Carpenter embrace some of her older musical style while exploring new territory lyrically.

"Goodnight America" is the standout here. It's quite simply one of the most eloquent and lovely songs ever written, capturing the sadness and hope of our post-9/11 world.

All Over the Guy
All Over the Guy
DVD ~ Dan Bucatinsky
Price: $8.82
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read this review! I think I nailed it..., October 15, 2003
This review is from: All Over the Guy (DVD)
I've been searching and waiting patiently for the perfect gay film to come along. Something with a real plot and real characters. Something that doesn't pander to the straight audience, but doesn't play exclusively to gays. Something with bite AND a heart. Julie Davis' "All Over the Guy" comes close... so close. And then tanks.
The story in brief: while shopping in a furniture store, Jackie (Sasha Alexander) meets furniture designer/salesman Brett (Adam Goldberg). The sparks are instant. After realizing that they both have a gay male best friend, they decide to fix the two of them up. The first date of Eli (Dan Bucatinsky) and Tom (Richard Ruccolo) goes down in flames, but on a second meeting something ignites. But Tom's alcohol fueled insecurities and Eli's need for order makes their ensuing relationship rocky. Essentially, they just can't seem to get it together. Will true love prevail?
Look, I really, REALLY wanted to love this film. In the end, I liked it a lot, but it missed that being-a-classic benchmark by a good distance. Here's why:
There aren't many films with opinions are widely and clearly polarized as those regarding "All Over the Guy." That's a nice way of saying you either loved it or hated it. Me, I can understand both points of view... if you aren't into snappy, overly-glib, "Friends"-like dialogue you are going to definitely hate this film. I happen to love that sort of stuff. Okay, call me shallow, but the movie made me laugh out loud on several occasions. (Example... BRETT: "Be there or be square." ELI: "I hate when people say that. 'Cuz even when I'm there, I'm square, so where's the incentive?") Overall, I thought the dialogue was sharp, and the juxtaposition of a gay relationship against a straight one was handled nicely.
I also really liked the acting in this film. All of the supporting characters do a nice job bringing in a level of quirkiness to their small parts (I mean, c'mon... how funny was Andrea Martin as Eli's analysis-obsessed mom?), and the four leads handle what they're given with tenacity and appeal.
Likewise, the first three-quarters of this film are structured well and interesting. I hate to say it, but it really drew me in. The non-linear storyline doesn't feel choppy or forced. So what went wrong? Why does that final quarter of the film take such an incredible nosedive?
The primary blame has to be placed on the character of Tom. As much as the filmmakers try to make this Eli's story, the crux of the action centers around Tom's behavior when faced with a potentially fulfilling relationship. We're asked to believe that Tom is a nasty drunk, and his addiction is why he endlessly treats poor Eli like a yo-yo. And although we never really see Tom even remotely plastered, we can see that he's overflowing with anger and bile.
What the script doesn't do is completely justify Tom's wild swings from wanting to be near Eli to harshly and nastily (really nastily) pushing him away. And it all reflects poorly on the character of Eli, who never truly tells Tom to get lost. I wanted so badly for someone to just level this jerk... when it does sort-of happen at the film's climax, Tom's reaction is to DEFEND himself. What is all this saying? "Oh, poor damaged me... my lousy upbringing gives me the right to treat others like ca-ca." Sorry, I don't buy it.
Similarly, I don't buy Tom's seemingly happy-go-lucky decision to end up at AA. The fact that alcoholism is simply wrecking his life is woefully unexplored. Most of all, that angle of the story completely lacks any grit and bite. Alcoholism is ugly. It's a disease that can kill, just like AIDS or cancer or any other unpleasant illness. Here, it's handled like a plot device, giving its sufferers a reason to be verbally cruel, and nothing else.
Please note that I can't blame Richard Ruccolo for any of his character's failings. He does an amazing job with what the script gives him. He plays his winning smile and boyish good looks to the best of their ability. Likewise, his control onscreen is superb... he's one of the rare breed of actors who can flash a single facial expression and it says pages worth of words. (Just imagine Keanu Reeves in the part and you'll see the complete opposite of what I'm talking about.)
Nonetheless, I was exhausted with the on-again-off-again nature of Tom and Eli's relationship by the end of this film. And as much as Tom has something of an excuse for his yo-yo-like behavior, Eli doesn't have one for not just telling him to shove-off. We're asked to believe that it's because he sees something greater in Tom, but by the final quarter of the film it looks more like Eli hasn't an ounce of self-respect. The ending seems entirely forced; any two everyday gay men in Los Angeles would have called it quits long, long before these two.
It's too bad, because there was so much in this movie that I really enjoyed. I'd love to see this group try again with something meatier. How about this: explore the alcoholism angle with depth and sincerity by adapting Augusten Burrough's hilarious, self-deprecating book "Dry" into a film? And please cast Rich Ruccolo in the lead!

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