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Friday
Jul112014

A Coffee in Berlin (Oh Boy)

A Coffee in Berlin ("Oh Boy"/Germany)
Directed by: Jan Ole Gerster
Released on: June 13th, 2014 (USA)
Grade: 4 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

Winner of six German Film Academy Awards, including Outstanding Feature Film, Best Director and Best Actor, Jan Ole Gerster's wry indie flick about the metamorphosis a young 20-something-year-old named Niko (32-year-old Tom Schilling) and his experiences —without getting a damn cup of coffee — is just as good as his country's men's soccer team.

A college dropout without a job, Niko has been filling his life with aimlessness, lethargy and his share of citations for drinking and driving under the influence of alcohol. He just left his girlfriend, Elli (Katharina Schuttler) in Paris, his things are not unpacked in his Berlin apartment and his friends have to drag him out anywhere. Sometimes Niko makes an effort to get a cup of coffee, but that seems to be as impossible for him to achieve as anything Niko is not trying to do.

One day, through a series of events, Niko encounters various kinds of individuals — some new, some familiar. Drug dealers, drunk teenage punks, an actor playing a Nazi in a film (Arnd Klawitter), a kind grandma (Lis Bottner) protecting her drug dealing grandson (Theo Trebs), a smarmy psychologist (Andreas Schroders), and an enraged father (Ulrich Noethen) who has just found out his son's actual matriculation status. These encounters reinforce Niko's sense of alienation and ennui.

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Friday
Jul112014

Borderlands 2

Borderlands 2 | PS Vita
Released: May 14th, 2014 (reviewed July 2014)
Developer/Publisher: Gearbox Software / 2k Games
Grade: 5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Pawl Schwartz

You like video games; you already played and beat Borderlands 2. Cool, so did I and I still bought this game, and it has still afforded me more hours of gaming than any other out on Vita thus far. Some of it is just because of the sheer power of wonder involved in seeing such a large game released only a year ago, shrunk down so quickly. It’s fucking mad! I’m sure the cell shading made it easier, but the game looks exactly the same.

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Friday
Jul112014

Chef

Chef
Directed by: Jon Favreau
Released on: May 9th, 2014 LIMITED (July showtimes at Landmark
Grade: 3.5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Justin Tucker

After a series of high-concept spectacles including Cowboys & Aliens and the first couple Iron Man films, writer/director/actor Jon Favreau returns to the pleasant, character-driven fare that got his career off the ground with Chef. He stars as Carl Casper, the titular gourmet. A divorced workaholic, he spends the very limited time he has with his son, Percy (Emjay Anthony), making runs to the farmer’s market and buying ingredients for the Los Angeles restaurant where he serves as head chef.

In anticipation of a visit by prominent restaurant critic Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt), Carl and his crew are hard at work to refine the menu, but restaurant owner Riva (Dustin Hoffman) forces him to instead keep the familiar menu, for it is his “greatest hits” that built up the clientele. When Carl’s cooking is panned in the review, he joins Twitter, launches a war of words via tweets, and ends up an embarrassing Internet meme. Choosing to keep his integrity rather than bow to the demands of Riva, Carl quits the restaurant.

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Sunday
Jun222014

Widespread Panic @ FirstMerit Bank Pavilion

Widespread Panic with Tedeschi Trucks Band and Jerry Joseph
Where: FirstMerit Bank Pavilion
When: June 20th, 2014
Grade: 4.5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Patrick Clemens

Widespread Panic rocked their way through the Windy City, bringing along a stellar company of friends with the blues-rock outfit Tedeschi Trucks Band and longtime songwriting collaborator Jerry Joseph. Even the weather “cooperates” with a natural fog settling over Northerly Island prior to Widespread Panic taking the stage with a vibrant display of lights and psychedelic visuals.

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Thursday
Jun052014

Jack White || Lazaretto

Jack White
Lazaretto

Label: Third Man Records/XL Recordings/Columbia
Released on: June 10th, 2014
Grade: 3.5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Neil Miller, Jr.

One thing is certain: when Jack White releases a new body of work, the world listens. He's one of our true living rock stars, and an unlikely one at that. But what's always been most appealing about Mr. White is his ability to stay true to his art. Sure, there've been a few "Huh?" moments in his massive oeuvre of music, but for the most part there's a lot of substance to what he does — when you hear a Jack White penned song, it's unmistakably him. Even the Alicia Keys and Jack White song, "Another Way to Die," for Quantum of Solace sounds like Keys following White's lead. He was almost Prince-like when he was still half of The White Stripes, directing Meg White through the show like a conductor. So, it should be no surprise that Lazaretto is yet another headstrong entry in Jack White's catalog of music, but more than that, it's a glimpse into the mind of a mad musical genius.

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Monday
Jun022014

Conor Oberst with Dawes @ Metro

Conor Oberst w/Dawes
Where: Metro
When: May 29th, 2014
Grade: 4.5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed and Photographed by: Neil Miller, Jr.

Before I inundate you with my ramblings about how transcendent and amazing Conor Oberst is onstage, I have to get my griping out of the way first. Sure, we were all there to see Conor Oberst, the man himself, but, let's be honest, in most of our minds he is still Bright Eyes. Oberst's music now is a bit stylistically different from his time as Bright Eyes, but when half of his set consists of Bright Eyes songs that fit seamlessly in between his newer "solo" material, it's a little confusing. Just call yourself Bright Eyes, Conor. You were always the nucleus of the project, and you're not distancing yourself very far from your older material anyways. Aside from this slight personal pet peeve of mine, Oberst was absolutely magnetic at the Metro this past Thursday evening. Here's why...

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Sunday
May252014

Foxes || Glorious

Foxes
Glorious
Label: Sony Records
Released on: May 12th, 2014
Grade: 4 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Neil Miller, Jr.

Hoping to shed the skin she's been wearing as a guest vocalist on such larger than life tracks as Zedd's "Clarity" and Rudimental's "Right Here," Foxes has created a new portrait of herself through her new record. Glorious is an emotional affair, finding the vocalist evoking the spirit of Kate Bush through her massive vocal range and atmospheric electronic pop in the same dramatic vein as Bat for Lashes. If she's intentionally trying to move away from her image as a guest vocalist, Glorious certainly accomplishes this. This is the sound of an individual artist who is striving to be incomparable to any of her contemporaries, and aside from my Kate Bush and Bat for Lashes comparisons, there isn't anyone out there right now who sounds quite like this.

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Friday
May232014

Failure @ Metro

Failure
Where: Metro
When: May 23rd, 2014
Grade: 5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed and photographed by: Neil Miller, Jr.

Failure should’ve become Nirvana big. When they were last active back in the 90s, many thought that was their fate: to become the biggest alternative rock band on the face of the earth. If you listen to their two albums, Magnified and Fantastic Planet, they sound like larger-than-life rock records. Everything about them screamed "big" — their sound is huge, emphasized by thunderous drums and a massive bass guitar attack, and even better…they have hooks. Failure hardly made wallpaper music that fades into the background; these are songs that stuck with generations of real rock music fanatics and that couldn’t be any more apparent than through the enthusiastic crowd that turned up to see the newly reunited alt-rock heroes at the Metro last night.

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Thursday
May152014

Brick Mansions

Brick Mansions
Directed by: Camille Delamarre
Released on: April 25th, 2014
Grade: 3 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Justin Tucker

Hollywood lost a talented young star when Paul Walker tragically died last November. Through his role as Brian O’Connor in the The Fast and the Furious series, he was carving out a niche for himself as a reliable hero of pulpy, mindless action. As silly as those movies are, I can’t help but glue myself to the television or laptop if I come across the chance to watch one. They’re just pure escapism. Walker’s latest, and sadly one of his last films, is Brick Mansions, the English language remake of the French District 13. This work is in the same camp as F&F: harmless, silly fun.

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Sunday
May042014

Claudio Simonetti's GOBLIN @ Metro

Claudio Simonetti's Goblin performing Suspiria
Where: Metro
When: May 3rd, 2014
Grade: 4.5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Neil Miller, Jr.

Seventies Italian horror films are not for everybody — I’ll be the first to admit that. Not to say that those films are for some elite group of horror film buffs (that would be a snotty observation). But films made by the likes of Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci are suited to the tastes of moviegoers who prefer a bit of drama in their horror…and no, not as in romance but in the way the production of the film is executed. The cuts have to be swift, and the lighting has to be bold and significant. We may not set the bar high for acting (we are talking about horror films here, and these aren’t Oscar-winning masterpieces by any stretch of the imagination), but we do like the score of the film to play a major role in setting the atmosphere. Enter Goblin: the Italian progressive rock-ish band who scored such underground classics as Deep Red, Tenebre, the European release of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, and the masterpiece we viewed at the Metro this past Saturday evening with Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin live scoring, Suspiria.

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