September 29, 2006
British black

Keeping Mum, a film that opens today in D.C., has a great cast -- Dame Maggie Smith, Kristen Scott Thomas, Rowan Atkinson -- and a great script. It's one of the funniest black comedies I've seen in a while. Read my review in the Washington Times.

September 27, 2006
Thought for the day

"You can't imagine how much people in England resent success. If you leave a really big tip in a restaurant, the waiter looks at you like, Who the hell do you think you are to try to impress me and patronize me like that?"

--Damien Hirst

September 26, 2006
Weekend warrior

The Who2.JPG

That's Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend in the picture -- these days, the only remaining members of The Who. It was a real treat to see them perform live over the weekend. And since they were in the area as part of the only U.S. date for the Virgin Festival, I got to see some other bands that day, too. I co-wrote a review of the festival with Scott Galupo, one of the great writers I get to work with at the Washington Times.

The Who.JPG

One of the things that, unfortunately, I didn't have room for was a mention of The Who's current drummer, Zak Starkey. I've been a fan of his for a while, probably since I got into the Lightning Seeds many years ago. I heard the band's cover of The Turtles' "You Showed Me" and fell in love with Ian Broudie's voice. Their LP Tilt -- which doesn't include that song -- is one of my favorite albums of the '90s. Some of the tracks are immensely danceable, and their lyrics are almost always right on the money. And they're so singable. Since then, Zak Starkey's toured with Oasis and now The Who. I'm sure playing with the rock legends is a satisfying gig for him. While his father is one of the most famous drummers of all time, Ringo Starr, he got his first lessons on the instrument from The Who's doomed drummer Keith Moon. But Starkey the younger has plenty of talent of his own.

McCartney's heart

Paul McCartney's fourth classical album -- and his most ambitious -- is out today. My review of Ecce Cor Meum is in the Washington Times.

September 24, 2006
A conversation piece

My latest Brainwash column is a review of the film Conversations with Other Women, starring Helena Bonham Carter and Aaron Eckhart. I call this movie, which has a split screen throughout, "one of the most formally interesting and emotionally satisfying films released in a long while."

September 22, 2006
Show

I review two very different films in today's Washington Times. Sean Penn puts in a perfect performance as populist turned fascist Willie Stark in All the King's Men, although the film itself suffers from a certain amount of ponderousness. Michel Gondry's first film based on his own script, The Science of Sleep is a flight of fancy from one of film's most creative minds.

September 21, 2006
Thought for the day

"We think in generalities. But we live in detail."

--Alfred North Whitehead

September 19, 2006
Quote of the week

"The armed forces commander and the national police commander have successfully taken over Bangkok and the surrounding area in order to maintain peace and order. There has been no struggle," the announcement said. "We ask for the cooperation of the public and ask your pardon for the inconvenience."

Not usually what you hear after an attempted coup. But as I discovered first-hand during a visit last year, the Thais are one of the world's most gracious people. (Thanks, R.)

Standard standards

My review of Diana Krall's From This Moment On is in today's Washington Times. The album, the jazz singer-pianist's tenth, comes out today.

September 18, 2006
Thought for the day

"'Is that tuna?' Hampton asks, peering at Iris's plate.

Every marriage, Kate thinks, seems to have one person wanting what's on the other's plate."

--Scott Spencer, A Ship Made of Paper

September 17, 2006
Catch up

I was out of town for a couple weeks. But I wasn't idle. Here are some things I published recently in the Washington Times:

September 16, 2006
Thought for the day

"Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom."

--Soren Kierkegaard

September 15, 2006
Murder on iTunes

Speaking of Agatha Christie (see below), Publishers Weekly reports today that unabridged digital downloads of Christie audiobooks were made available this week for the first time. You can purchase the titles at Audible.com or on iTunes. Many are read by actors who are no strangers to Agatha Christie's work: David Suchet is the splendid Poirot of PBS's Mystery!, while Hugh Fraser is his straightman, Hastings. Joan Hickson has portrayed Miss Marple, although I'll leave it for you to decide how she compares with Geraldine McEwan, star of a more recent Marple series.

PW reports, "Following this initial push of 15 titles, Audio Partners, the U.S. audio publisher of Christie’s body of work, and HarperCollins Audio in the U.K. plan to gradually make all the remaining Christie novels and short stories (approximately 70 works in total) available for download in the next few years."

Happy Birthday, Dame Agatha

It is a curious thought, but it is only when you see people looking ridiculous that you realize just how much you love them.

--Agatha Christie, September 15, 1890 – January 12, 1976

September 01, 2006
From Debs to Disco Balls

My essay on the films of Whit Stillman is in the September 11 issue of the American Conservative, out now. Unfortunately, it's not yet available online. So if you want to see right away what I have to say about the Criterion Collection DVD release of Metropolitan, as well as Stillman's other two films -- Barcelona and Last Days of Disco -- you'll have to go to a newsstand.

More human than human

My interview with Rob Zombie appears in today's Washington Times:

Fans of Rob Zombie should be grateful that the shock rocker was born in Haverhill, Mass., and not, say, New York City.

When asked how Robert Cummings became Rob Zombie, the musician laughingly answers: "Growing up someplace incredibly boring as a kid." He explains, "I lived my life through television. I'd see things on television, not comprehending whether things were real or not real, and think, 'That's the life I want.'"

The career of one of rock's most creative personalities may give parents a reason to let their youngsters stay up late watching TV...