God help thee, poor monkey. - Macbeth

Friday, February 29, 2008

Movie Review: Bobby

It's been a very long time since I've seen a movie that has made me cry. I have to admit, I wasn't expecting too much from "Bobby." I'd heard it was good, and I was interested in seeing it, but it wasn't at the top of my list or anything. I knew that it was about Robert Kennedy and that it was directed by Emilio Estevez, who I knew as Andy Clark in "The Breakfast Club." I knew that it was an ensemble cast starring, among other people, Elijah Wood, Lindsay Lohan, Demi Moore, Anthony Hopkins, and Ashton Kutcher. I knew that it was about the lives of the people who witnessed the assassination of Bobby Kennedy rather than being about Kennedy himself. It looked interesting but didn't strike me as anything spectacular.

Being in college, I don't have money to rent movies, so I rely on the library to provide me with a constant source of films. I have a long list of movies that I want to see, so I just put everything on hold and watch them in the order that they come in rather than choosing which movies I want to watch on a given week. This week, "Bobby" was one of the arrivals, so I decided to watch it tonight, and...I was blown away. This movie gave me cold shivers, which only happens when I'm watching a movie that is REALLY good.

I didn't have high hopes for this movie. I mean, it had Lindsay Lohan and Nick Cannon in it, two actors who hail from the teeny bopper movies put out by Disney and Nickelodeon. No matter how good the other actors were, I just couldn't see these two pulling it off. Nor could I see there being any sort of chemistry between Lindsay Lohan and Elijah Wood. I was proven completely wrong. Every single actor in this movie did a phenomenal job. Not only that, but the writing and directing was brilliant. Estevez masterfully created characters that you could really care about, showing the humanity in each and every one as well as the flaws and the obstacles that they faced. Not only that, but he wove in actual footage of Bobby Kennedy. Well, that makes sense, you might say. After all, the movie is called "Bobby." But although the story centers on the day of his visit and the way he affected the lives of those who believed in him, it was so much more than that. It was a story of young love, of old love, of faded love, of love renewed. It was a story of growing old, of discovering drugs, of facing the terrifying prospect of the draft, of being young, and of having hope in a time that was so full of violence. The story was about the people, not about the politician. Yet the footage still worked to create a deep connection between the viewer and the people shown on the screen.

I don't want to give away the ending. Everyone knows that Bobby Kennedy was shot. That's not the point of the movie. The point of the movie is to show how he affected the lives of so many people and to show that their story, and the story of every single person in the world, is just as important as the story of a Senator. That final scene was so beautiful and so heartbreaking that it brought tears to my eyes. I couldn't help but feel the hope that everyone had upon seeing him speak, which made the hopelessness and the shock that they felt after he was shot seem very real to me. It was something that I could relate to, to some extent. I mean, I've never witnessed an assassination or anything of that sort, but I remember how hopeful I felt when I went to see John Kerry speak before the 2004 election, how happy I was, and how sure that things would get better. And I remember the feeling of utter despair that came when I learned that Bush had won the election. It is the mark of great filmmaking that this movie made me empathize so strongly with the characters and the situation that I was witnessing.

I would strongly recommend that everyone see this movie (if you don't mind the sight of blood, that is. It's not terribly gory, but it is about a shooting). It is beautifully crafted and well acted. Nick Cannon's performance blew me away, and I hope to see him in more serious roles in the future (not that I didn't enjoy Drumline, but he can do so much more). I am very surprised that this movie did not win the Golden Globe for best picture last year. I found it to be much more moving than "Babel". And, while I loved Emilio Estevez in "The Breakfast Club", my respect for him has greatly increased upon seeing this movie. Check it out.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Concert Review: Jack's Mannequin

Last night, I was in Cleveland visiting a friend, and he invited me to see Jack's Mannequin with him. Seeing as how I love Jack's Mannequin, I was thrilled to get a chance to see them live. We managed to get pretty close to the stage, maybe about 10 ft away. There were a fair number of people in our group, and the concert was completely sold out. Some of our friends weren't able to make it, sadly. We got there early to make sure that we got good spots and ended up standing around for a while and chatting.

At 7:00, the opening band came onto the stage. They were called Wake Hollywood, and, I have to admit, I wasn't impressed with them at all. They seemed like they thought they were really good, but honestly they were not great. The singer spent most of the time dancing around the stage and making funny faces. Nothing they did was very original, and the singer didn't seem capable of carrying a tune. All of them, except for the drummer, were dressed in "emo" outfits: black, styled hair; black pants and a black or white shirt; ties or scarves; skinny jeans. It was like watching a caricature of a popular band. We amused ourselves with trying to guess if the bass player was a really androgynous woman or a really effeminate man. It was kind of hard to tell, although it turns out he was male. The other thing that we found amusing was how desperate they seemed for friends. During the 45 minute set, they mentioned several times that they wanted to be invited to a party, and when we looked at their Myspace later that night to solve the bassist gender mystery once and for all, we noticed that three out of the four members had their Instant Messenger screennames listed in the hopes that somebody would add them. It was kind of pathetic really.

Thankfully, Jack's Mannequin's performance more than made up for the terrible opening act. Despite the fact that concert conditions were not ideal, they still managed to put on a terrific show. The acoustics could have been better (we were in a gymnasium), and the crowd was too drunk and rowdy, but none of that mattered. It didn't even matter that the tallest guy in the audience was standing right in front of me, making it very difficult to see without straining. Andrew McMahon and his band made it all worthwhile.

He opened the show with "I'm Ready," to screams of delight from the audience, and continued to play favorites such as "The Mixed Tape," "Dark Blue," "Bruised," "We Were Made for Each Other/You Can Breathe," and "Rescued," as well as several songs from his new album. The crowd was wild. People were ramming into one another, and I was nearly knocked over several times. My friend was practically holding me up. I had to hold my camera above my head in order to get even a semi clear shot of the band. It was very intense. Everyone sang along to their favorite songs, and Andrew played it up, leaning toward the audience and walking around the stage when he wasn't playing piano. When he finished his water, he threw the empty bottle out across the audience, and people scrambled to grab it. He never faltered, not even when one of his microphones came loose and a techie had to come and fix it in the middle of a song. He even attempted to tighten it himself, without missing a single beat. Nor was he fazed when, in the heat of the moment, he accidentally knocked over his piano stool. He simply continued with the song.

The concert ended, and Jack's Mannequin left the stage, to the disappointment of all. Someone began chanting, "One more song! One more song!" Soon, everybody had joined in. The band seemed to be expecting it, and they returned to the stage, grinning. Andrew announced that the next song was going to be "an old one." He played a few notes on the piano, then began a song called "Me and the Moon" by his old band, Something Corporate. Fewer people seemed to know the words to this one (I was one of the few :p), but it was still met with enthusiasm. Once he finished "Me and the Moon," he surprised the audience by launching into "American Girl" by Tom Petty and jumping up on top of his grand piano. Everyone was dancing and cheering. It was an explosive finale to an absolutely amazing concert. I left the gymnasium feeling energized and very content, all thoughts of the terrible opening act forgotten (until later, of course, when I was able to think clearly again).

Monday, February 4, 2008


Today is the 40th Anniversary of the song "Across the Universe." It's also the first day ever to be dedicated to the Beatles. To celebrate, NASA broadcast "Across the Universe" into space. How cool is that? Sorry for the short post, but I'll wax poetic about the Beatles later. For now, here's the site.