Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Classic Albums: U2 The Joshua Tree

U2 The Joshua Tree is an album that's taken root since its 1987 release.
The band's fifth album has sold an impressive 25 million copies. (For fun, Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water and Phil Collins' No Jacket Required also sold the same number of copies.)
The Joshua Tree earned U2 two Grammy Awards, album of the year and best rock performance by a duo or group.
Two singles from the album, With or Without You and I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, hit No. 1 in the United States.
2017 marks the 30th anniversary of The Joshua Tree's release.
Beat the rush and watch Classic Albums - U2: The Joshua Tree now.
This film fan is also a huge lover of music. The Classic Albums series has explored how more than 40 albums, including Peter Gabriel's So, Steely Dan's Aja and The Doors' self-titled 1967 album were created.
The approach is the same with each album. Give some background about the band before said album came out. Interview the musicians and producers associated with the album. Include snippets of a contemporary performance of some of the album's songs, cut in music video and live concert footage. Voila, an hour-long episode of Classic Albums.
Too bad my DVD copy of Classic Albums - U2: The Joshua Tree included no bonus footage.
But you do get to see Daniel Lanois and Bono sitting side-by-side at a mixing board talking about the album's songs (Bono on I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For: "It's a very odd sounding song."), The Edge sharing his favorite guitar solo from The Joshua Tree. Hint - it's "the most chilled non-dramatic guitar part," who came up with the drum loop to start Mothers of the Disappeared and how many versions of Bullet the Blue Sky were brought together.
Adam Clayton gets one of the doc's best lines when he describes The Edge's demo of Where the Streets Have No Name: "It just seemed like a way of f------ the band up."
Co-producer Brian Eno makes a neat observation about "the creative collision" that helped create The Joshua Tree near the episode's end.
Don't recall previous Classic Albums' episodes delving into B sides, but Sweetest Thing gets some love here. A good chunk of the video for the flip side of Where the Streets Have No Name rounds out this doc.
RATING: 8/10
FUN FACTS: U2 became the third rock band to be featured on the cover of Time Magazine following the release of Where the Streets Have No Name. The Beatles and The Who were first and second.

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)


The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a great film.

Seeing movie ads with American critic's Joel Siegel's tagline, "You'll want to stand up and cheer," really irritated me as a younger film fan. But, the late Siegel's line works well here. I can't remember being this wrapped up, and excited, about a movie since the original Spider-Man hit the screen in 2002.

Please appreciate I went to a lot of movies in the 1980s. Teen sex comedies, Private School, Private Lessons, etc. etc. dominated the big screen's depiction of young adults. Fortunately better efforts occasionally appeared, including Pretty In Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful.

Here, director Stephen Chbosky brings his own book to the big screen in a 2012 release.

Charlie is having a tough time with life before he even starts Grade 9. A friend committed suicide. His much-loved aunt died in a collision. He's struggling with his mental health. "I need to turn things around," he declares early on.

High school doesn't start well. Former classmates want nothing to do with him. He's targeted by bullying by older students. Charlie eats alone at lunch.

Then he meets Patrick (Ezra Miller) and his stepsister Sam (Emma Watson).

They're seniors who take Charlie under their wing. Patrick and Sam share Charlie's love of music. It's hard to nail down a date here, but the presence of mix tapes suggests Perks is set in the 1980s.

Things get complicated. Charlie likes Sam. She tends to gravitate to guys who treat her bad. Mary Elizabeth (Mae Whitman) is another member of Patrick's circle of friends. She gets interested in Charlie. He's never had a girlfriend before and is a little confounded about how relationships work.

Perks works for so many reasons. It's funny, especially with Patrick's pronouncements. Perks is a romance. Charlie and Sam connect. She's trying to get into college. There's other guys. He's not quite sure what to do. Charlie struggles with his mental health. Things start to get better once he meets Patrick and Sam. His well-being takes a big hit when tensions rise within the group when he's torn between Mary Elizabeth and Sam.

I give Perks marks too for touching on abuse in dating relationships. That's something I don't remember seeing in a teen film before.

I missed this film when it came out. Maybe it didn't play in my city. But The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of the best films I've seen in a long time. Watch this movie.

RATING: 9/10

FUN FACTS: Neat. Internet Movie Database reports Ezra Miller will appear as The Flash in a 2018 feature.

Logan Lerman, I've seen you at least once before. You were in the remake of 3:10 to Yuma in 2007.

Cool. Paul Rudd, who appears as English teacher Mr. Anderson, was in another teen film well worth seeing, 1995's Clueless.

This older film fan couldn't help but think of Mary Stuart Masteron, from Some Kind of Wonderful, when watching Emma Watson.