Concert Review: Making America Abbreviated Again

America played at Van Wezel Hall in Sarasota last night and if America, the country, was analogous to the band’s performance, we’d be short about 10 states. I think it’s a cop out and money grab to play 90 minutes (exactly) when as a band they’ve complied 40+ years of music. At the very least, they should have allowed their two youngest members to each showcase one of their own songs. It’s called paying it forward Dudes. Not to mention, some of us in the audience are part of the shrinking middle class, meaning we don’t have throw away money to spend willy nilly on concert tickets. My friend Dave who graciously took me for a Christmas gift is a hard core fan, and for him alone, I wish the band had extended their play to two hours. I mean really, the set up of all the instruments probably took more time than the actual performance.

Sure I got to hear my three favorite songs; Sister Golden Hair, Tin Man, and Ventura Highway. And thanks to the bass player (who also created the video) was treated to stimulating images of California, celebrities and a metamorphosis of old band photos.

Unfortunately aural and visual stimulation weren’t enough for Twitchy Millennial gal seated to my immediate right(who literally was giving herself a facial and simultaneously checking her phone on average of every 5 minutes) and her bored to death father who also had his nose in his phone during the show. Other stuffed white shirt Caucasians in front me included a husband, their backpack in a separate seat between (who didn’t clap once-that’s a joke) and then S&M wife. S&M is an assumption on my part because she had an accountant look on her top half (severe haircut, conservative sweater) and her bottom half (mini-skirt, patterned panty hose with knee high black boots). She continued to give her husband dirty looks during the first half hour of the show as he couldn’t take his eyes off the woman right next to him, a young Ann Margaret type who was grooving to the music and enjoying herself (as I was) and whose companion looked like a hoody wearing Burgess Meredith from Grumpy Old Men outtakes (you remember, “what day say we go back to my place and I’ll show you my beefy bologna?”). Anyway S&M ended up reaching across the backpack with a slap to hubby’s shoulder which was his indication to move backpack next to Ann Margaret and fall back in cuckolded line. This my friends, is the curse and comedic blessing of being hyper-aware of one’s surroundings.

Another half hour of shenanigans would have helped me round out this essay to novella length. For shame abbreviated America:)

Another Gorgeous Slice of Life: Brad’s Status

Thanks to my benevolent friend Carrie, I sat in luxury leather to watch Brad’s Status. And not just anywhere, but in the hometown of one of the film’s stars (read on to find out!).

But that’s not why I liked the film. The story by Mike White (School of Rock, The Good Girl) was not only extremely realistic in portraying the awkward relationship parents have with their late adolescents ready to leave the nest for college, but was also produced it in such a way to also detail the interior mind of a middle aged man with social anxiety.

We all have an interior monologue going on in our heads (come on admit talking to yourself:) and movie voice overs can sometimes be cringe worthy. But Ben Stiller has a presence and a voice that makes you feel camaraderie, like, “Yeh man, I know what you’re talking about!”.

The awkward silences and stoicism of parent-child relationships were very well done as were the college finance and major questions, the hope-you get-into-a-prestiguous-school, but how-the-hell-are-we-going-to-pay-for-it struggle? The you’re-a-great-musician vs. can-you-make-a-living-wage-at-it?

Austin Abrams who played Ben’s son is the aforementioned native of my new home town of Sarasota*: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3641002/?ref_=tt_ov_st_sm, and walks a talented line between tolerant and ready to explode upon his awkward dad. *In fact, for shame distributors! It’s only playing in one theater in Sarasota!

Class struggle was also gracefully, but honestly handled. Living in Sarasota means seeing a wide range of incomes. Those of us in the middle class can’t help but feel occasional envy at the mega wealthy. Brad’s four friends in the latter category were portrayed just enough for us to understand without straying from the main story. Mike White (yes he wrote it, directed it and acted in it) Michael Sheen, Luke Wilson and Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords(PLEASE do more movies, I love you!) all do stand out performances in minor roles.

In fact the beauty of a good movie is that the story makes you think more about it after the fact. For instance, did Michael Sheen’s character have accurate info on his wealthy buddies or was he simply as envious as Ben Stiller?

Definitely worth the CineBistro price. Go root, root, root for the home boy Austin Abrams while the film is still in town!

Dean, a BBQ type of film=well done!

Continuing with my kookie summer time references is the BBQ review title of Demetri Martin’s well done film Dean.

A new feature of this review will be a “This review is sponsored by…” ad whenever some kind person pays for my movie going experience. My way of acknowledging nice folks.

So this review is brought to by Dan Coughlin, journalist, former Wall Streeter, and man looking for fellow documentarians with whom to build projects.

NOTE TO Demetri Martin: shield your eyes to this next sentence. Dan didn’t think I’d blog about Dean with a veiled reference of it being unimportant cinema.

Au contraire! But here’s where my razor sharp Masters In Counseling ‘see all sides’ mediation comes in: Sure this film might be akin to a lazy river water park ride. However, the script and story were totally relatable (won a Jury Prize at Tribeca) and VERY important in portraying how we each experience grief in different ways. Dean, played by writer/director Demetri Martin, chooses the run away/flight model of grief denial. Kevin Kline (always marvelous, really-wish I could see him on Broadway in Noel Coward’s Present Laughter , but alas it ends July 2nd) portrays Dean’s dad, who takes public intellectualizing regarding his wife’s death with private therapy.

Can’t tell you a lot about what I enjoyed due to my no spoiler vow, but will say that I am happy to see a movie with some ends still loose, instead of an unreal, ‘look at this 100% happy ending’, which is partly why I threw out the hard copy of my novel Jokers to the Right because I hated my false feeling joy! joy! ending.

I can tell you stylistically what I enjoyed about Dean: the split screen frames where Demetri and his dad are seemingly in similar poses. Similarly or perhaps, narcissistically, I think of my Dad and I like this, on any given weeknight, separately alone, tv remote in hand looking for TCM, or some other movie channel, to take the edge of loneliness.

I also really liked the well drawn minor characters, even the minor minor characters filled out to reality. Four deserve mention: Dean’s love interest, Gillian Jacobs, a woman confused emotionally, her best friend Ginger Gonzaga, an icy Rochesterian type of gal, Dean’s good L.A. friend, Rory Scovel (who should be chosen for a Beach Boys bio pic and may have amassed being on the most tv series ever) who shows why men are pigs and also simultaneously in need of a hug, and last (deep breath) his quirky roommate Luka Jones (will look out for him in an upcoming I Love Dick episode.)

Ashamedly for the movie business, Dean’s gone already after a whopping week in Sarasota. In its place is sheer crap (no other way to call it, unless feces makes you feel better. At any rate, if you’re in a major metropolitan area, give Dean a chance. If not, hope Red Box picks it up.