Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Now that's how you start a Tuesday morning

If, like me, you consume your music chiefly through Itunes and you're slowly losing what's left of your mind, here's a trick: If you know an album is coming out from one of your favorite acts, order it like a month in advance and, if you're like me, you'll forget all about it until it starts to download, making almost for a surprise.

That's what happened this morning with "I Learned the Hard Way" by the sublime Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings. If you're unfamiliar with what they're cooking up, there really are only two or three groups in the world I can recommend higher. If you saw "Up in the Air," it was Sharon and her guys who performed that sensational rendition of "This Land Is Your Land," which really should be the U.S. national anthem (and therefore sung when the Baltimore Orioles - finally! - begin the season today with Kevin Millwood on the mound against the Devil Rays, go O's!)

Deceptively simple and throwback, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings play soul music the way its meant to be played, but with orchestration that makes the sound all their own. Check it out already.

After that today, it's all about three projects by up-and-coming directors who have already managed to direct movies I love, so are well worth keeping an eye on.

First up, in probably the most high-profile project, Peter Sollett has been tapped (apparently knocking out Joss Whedon) to direct a movie based on the graphic novel series "Runaways," not to be confused with "The Runaways" starring Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning. This movie is apparently about a group of young people who discover that, drat, their parents just happen to be archvillians. The titular "Runaways" band together to discover their own powers and fight their own parents, and as silly as that sounds, it should be really great in Sollett's hands.

His best movie, for those who might forget, is easily "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist," a movie about bridge-and-tunnel Jersey kids starring Michael Cera and Kat Dennings that's way better than it ever deserves to be (if you haven't seen it, just trust me and rent it already.) Almost as good, though on a much smaller scale, was Sollett's first movie, "Raising Victor Vargas." What the two movies have in common is a real ear for the lives of young people - without the skeeviness of, say, Larry Clark - something which should make "Runaways" a real fun ride once this all comes together.

And come to think of it, "Nick and Norah" was a lot like "Date Night" in its "After Hours"-style look at New York City, but why in the world is that flick starring Steve Carell and Tina Fey the only wide-release movie opening this week? Sheesh. But I digress ...

Next up today is a new project from easily one of the funniest guys around today, David Wain. When his last movie, "Role Models," came out, I took a pass, and that was a real mistake. Starring the alwaysveryfunny Paul Rudd and Elizabeth Banks (and that McLovin kid too), the flick about live-action role playing is a whole lot funnier than most "comedies" that come out nowadays, and I'm certainly glad I finally managed to catch up with it on DVD.

Now, Wain is about to sign on to direct something called "Too Cool to Be Forgotten," also based on a graphic novel, this one by someone named Alex Robinson.

The premise, unfortunately, sounds awfully tired, but in the hands of Wain (a veteran of "The State," in case your doubting his comedy chops), I'm still betting on funny here. It's about a middle-aged man who, after trying hypnosis to stop smoking, is somehow transported back to 1985, where he must relive his awkward teen years. And if you wanna sew up the funny right now, why not sign Rudd for this right away?

And finally (well, almost), comes the craziest story of the day. I rented Lone Scherfig's "An Education" over the weekend (that's not the crazy part, because that movie just gets better and better with age.) It's even better than I remembered, and easily the best ensemble cast movie of 2009.

For her next project, she's lined Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess to star in the rom-com "One Day," based on the novel by David Nicholls (author, by the way, of the screenplay for the extremely underrated "Starter for 10," rent that one right away too.) That story is about two college friends who agree to meet once a year for twenty years, but that's not the crazy either.

Here it comes. After that, and apparently in the belief that Kathyrn Bigelow shouldn't be the only chica in the world who gets to direct action movies (huzzah to that), she'll set her sights on something called "Mob Girl," to star known thespian Jessica Biel. I told you it was coming.

Based on Teresa Carpenter's nonfiction work of the same name, it will apparently be about mob mistress Arlyne Brickman, who infiltrated the mafia before turning over evidence to the state that led to the arrest and incarceration of boss Anthony Scarpati. That all sounds great to me, but Jessica Biel? Really? Stay tuned ...

And really finally, you can consider this the launch of my official push to change the U.S. national anthem, and before you dismiss that as thoroughly crazy too, at least first listen to this clip of Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings performing "This Land Is Your Land" live. I defy you to find it wouldn't be a lot more fun to sing before ball games, and it's just a better song, performed perfectly. And with that, have a perfectly passable Tuesday. Peace out.

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