“Life, it’s all we have—but is it any good?” begs Andy Daly as the opening tagline of each episode of Review. And whether he’s gorging himself with pancakes, developing a cocaine addiction, competing in “sex offs” at an orgy, becoming a casual racist, or begrudgingly divorcing his loving wife, Daly’s Forrest MacNeil has sacrificed his life in the name of being a critic and rating your inquires.
And with the finale airing tonight, there’s a new clip from the episode that features Forrest taking on the job of a coffee barista at a place called Lobby Java. I almost didn’t even want to watch this because I’d like to savor as much of the final ep as possible, but do what you wish! However, it definitely bodes well for the episode, which I’m sure will be fantastic—although it will always be hard to top Pancakes, Divorce, Pancakes.
It’s tough out there for a buzz band: one minute you’re the hottest thing going, the next you’re still going but the hipsters talk about you as if you’d retired after getting that 8.5 from Pitchfork. The Dodos were something of a revelation on Visiter, their 2007 breakout, forging a weird, new, viciously acoustic attitude on singles like “Fools.” But the follow-ups, Time To Die and No Color, didn’t have quite so much impact. What will it take to get some confidence back? Try writing a new song called “Confidence.”
Taken from forthcoming LP Carrier, “Confidence” at first has the unmistakable flavor of many other Dodos strummers: a chiming, finger-picked bit of stately bedroom pop. But here that sound functions as a Trojan Horse – let it in and the back half of the song will surprise you. You see, guitarist Meric Long decided to start over on this album due to the uncertainty of the band’s trajectory and the sudden passing of guitarist Chris Reimer (also of the underexposed band Women). The rising tide of “Confidence” seems intended to wash away whatever came before.
A slow-burner in the truest sense of the word and, like the rest of Carrier, recorded with “no computers, no gimmicks,” the track turns into a march with gnarled electric guitar accents, then into a pounding, thunderous punk song that somehow escalates even through the last minute and a half. Welcome back, Dodos—it’s good to hear your swagger again.
Don’t let the beard and social deficit fool you – I’m actually not all that into superhero movies, unless I’m seeing one to win a bet with my friend about how bad it will be (Jesse, you still owe me for Watchmen). But the Iron Man franchise, deftly done by Robert Downey Jr., Jon Favreau and others, is a nice exception. They’re breezy pop films with humor and heart and little Christopher Nolan bombast. All the same, Iron Man 3 suffers one notable hiccup.
It’s not the script or direction by Shane Black of Lethal Weapon and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, though I am starting to think the man can’t write a movie that doesn’t take place over Christmas. Nor is it the villains – and the twist on Ben Kingsley’s role that is so good you have to be glad the trailers didn’t spoil it. Even the 140-minute run time didn’t cause scenes to drag very much. The only issue with it is: all the characters keep talking about the events of The Avengers.
Look, I get it: you want to have this immersive Marvel world where none of the blockbusters contradict each other. It’s a noble idea, but it just doesn’t work in a field where characters are rebooted every six years regardless.Iron Man 3 does an okay job of wittily conveying the nature and consequences of what happened “in New York” for those who don’t know, but when you begin to build on The Avengers – which itself builds on Thor – you lose out to the comic book geek’s idea of overnetworked narrative when you might have done something a bit looser, which is what Iron Man has always been about.
The last five years of a life is all about those little moments – the pensive glances across a mediocre party, the temporary despair at unexpected romantic loss, the jolt of a second’s success. And so is the same for the off-Broadway show The Last Five Years, playing until May 18th at Second Stage Theatre; hovering over the entire production like it’s a fishbowl isn’t going to stir you nearly as much as recalling the tiny dots of sincerity brought by the two stars – the only characters in the show: Jamie, played by Adam Kantor, and Cathy, played by Betsy Wolfe. In a show about the beginning and end of twenty-something love, the completely sung-through musical tracks a relationship in reverse; while Cathy begins at the end of it, Jamie begins at its beginning, five years back. And apart from a rare moment when they meet in the middle on a late-night boat ride in Central Park, they never sing together. The result: a he-said, she-said musical that is full of too many exuberant and heart-trampling songs for you to realize it.
Jazz, rock, musical theatre ballads, country, klezmer – Jason Robert Brown’s score has a little bit for everyone – and so does the relationship at hand. With Kantor’s spin on Jamie – a 23-year-old writer who gets his book published almost right out of college – you see what Cathy loves (and can’t stand) about him: his talent at storytelling, his unrelenting and fearless ambition, and a narcissism that yanks him from the present moments with Cathy. And you sense the burgeoning envy and resentment Cathy feels toward his success, considering she’s an aspiring theatre actress who just can’t seem to land a role, and with every rejection, feels smaller and smaller. The seesaw dynamic is painful to witness, with audience sniffles heard by the second song.
Of course, there are moments of disbelief that make the show not entirely gratifying: although Jamie is a young character, Kantor looks and acts a bit too young to deliver the emotional thunder of the role , and sometimes Wolfe’s wholesomeness is almost a bit too theatrical and animated to believe. And yet, these qualities are also the forces that make you feel for them. Detached from emotion, whitewashed with a smile – they’re the shells that sustain and then crack – in all those little moments, and they’re what makes The Last Five Years worth witnessing.