Saturday, January 30, 2010

First Weekend of the Sundance Film Festival Earns Decent GPA in 2010

I've never been to Sundance and I'm sort of bummed about the whole thing. Don't get me started, okay? Moving on... This year, I asked my friend/son, Taylor Ghrist, to hit me up with his favorite films from this year's entries. The young man has excellent taste. You may want to make note of these films and check them out if you haven't already. And be on the look out. One of these days you may find yourself watching one of his films. Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, Taylor Ghrist...

At this yearʼs Sundance Film Festival, many films had tons of buzz surrounding them. Unfortunately, I could only for the first weekend. The following are reviews from a batch of the first weekendʼs films.

Directed by: Vincenzo Natali (Cube)
Written by: Vincenzo Natali, Antoinette Terry Bryant and Doug Taylor
Starring: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, David Hewlett
Grade: B+

If you are squeamish at the slightest sight of creature gore, frantic noises, or easily perturbed by things with tails, Splice isnʼt the movie for you. The story, plain and simple, revolves around two scientists who make a juvenile mistake by contributing to their own “experiment” instead of actually working on assigned work. As a result, a new organism named Dren is born. The two foster the organism as if they just had their own offspring and form an unlikely bond that eventually descends into chaos. The film was packed at the Sundance premiere. The cast, Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody, along with the director, Vincenzo Natali, were there to speak. Before the film screened, Natali mentioned that Polley herself describes the film as a film with no “moral boundaries,” not to say that this is ʻA Clockwork Orange.ʼ The film feels like itʼs almost set in the Garden of Eden and introduces some unnerving ideas about science and mankind. I thought the film was actually a bit ludicrous, due to the seriousness intertwined with the dark humor. Though, the more I thought about the film the more it grew on me. The next day I couldnʼt stop thinking about it. Who said a sci-fi action flick canʼt be silly at times?! Do yourself a favor, grab some popcorn and see this movie when itʼs due in theaters.

Written/Directed by: Todd Haynes
Grade: A-

I also had the chance to see Todd Haynesʼ Poison, originally released in 1991. Having seen his other films, including Far From Heaven and the ever-so glam fueled, Velvet Goldmine, I expected another empowering film. I was right. Sundance screened a remastered version of Poison as part of their selection of “important” films, all from the UCLA film archives (the other two were Harold and Maude and Metropolitan). The film tells three different stories, titled “Hero”, “Horror”, and “Homo." The stories explore the melancholy lives of three different characters. There will soon be a released DVD for this film. Poison struck a chord with me because of its haunting imagery and in-depth analysis of what makes life so difficult for these human characters (mostly homosexual in this film) to live and pursue the happiness that everyone wants. Haynesʼ perfectly orchestrates a sinister look that society imposes on the gay community and leaves much interpretation to his general audience with disturbing metaphors (AIDS and a “mysterious skin infection”), moody camera movements and stylized touches (film noir for “Horror”). All in all, I think Poison is a very underrated film that should at least be viewed by most. Look out for it on DVD when itʼs re released. At the moment, a single DVD on Amazon (used) runs for about $45.

Enter the Void
Written/Directed by: Gaspar Noé
Grade: A

ENTER THE VOID. The title says it all. Gasper Noé, the controversial French director (Irreversible), introduced his newest addition, Enter the Void, to North America last weekend and audiences were both enthused and appalled (the film was previously screened at the Cannes Film Festival). The central story of Enter the Void is simply (if only) about a young drug dealerʼs soul lingering the streets of urban Tokyo after being shot by a cop and how the soul embarks through the past, present and future, in a deeply meditative, almost hypnotic, visual feast. The young drug dealer, played by the stunning Nathaniel Brown, is closest to his sister, Linda, after their parents had died in a devastating car crash when they were younger, which they both witnessed. He then promises his sister that he will never leave her and, as a result, his attachment is what keeps his soul lingering the streets for the time being. I will warn any viewer that the film isnʼt for everyone and has no moral boundaries whatsoever. If one is truly curious to see this film check out his previous films beforehand. The camera work is seen mostly through the main characterʼs eyes, which provides a dizzying, realistic glimpse into the world he once lived in. The colors, saturated and vivid, do justice for the city of Tokyo and emphasize several tones of the film, with its themes of sex, violence, drugs and life. I would also like to acknowledge the fact that Daft Punk and Air helped with the score.

Women Without Men (Zanan-e bedun-e mardan)
Directed by: Shirin Neshat, Shoja Azari
Grade: B+

I had one day left to experience the thrills of Sundanceʼs contagious movie going and had no idea which film to see. At the last minute, I flocked to see Women Without Men, a courageous story about Iranian women suppressed by war, politics, and, as you guessed, men. Set in 1953, the four female characters revive themselves in a serene garden, set apart from the CIA infested backdrop in Iran. My praise for this film remains highly induced by the lead female performances, namely Pegah Ferydoni, which inspire and move the audience more than anything else, including the imagery (shot in HD), which is still beautiful. The film contains some nice surprises and, overall, Iʼd recommend it to anyone whoʼs looking for an honest, intimate look into real people recognizing real issues in past history.

Oh, and donʼt go see The Perfect Host, starring Frasierʼs David Hyde Pierce. I swear the movie will go directly to DVD.

I didnʼt have the chance to see these films but they have either had great buzz or Iʼve heard great things about them. Enjoy perusing.

*THE RUNAWAYS (Dakota Fanning in the Joan Jett film)

*HOLY ROLLERS (Hasidic Jews smuggling ecstacy! Who doesnʼt want to see this!? Jesse Eisenberg stars)


*SINS OF MY FATHER (Pablo Escobarʼs daughter tells her story)









*GET LOW (I actually heard something terrific about this one)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New Music Tuesday: The Happy Hollows and Good Shoes

The Happy Hollows - Spells (Autumn Tone Records)

Your life is empty without this album. Trust me. Go. Get it. See them LIVE.

Good Shoes - No Hope, No Future (Brille Records)

Have a treat. Check out their single, "Under Control" by clicking HERE.

OC Music Awards Showcases Continue in Santa Ana Tonight

Photos: Joe McQuillen

Though the rain was coming down like nobody's business, things were nice and snug inside The Continental Room last Tuesday. Handsome G, We Are The Pilots, Pawn Shop Kings, The Steelwells and Agyle Smile competed for this year's OC Music Awards Best Live Band and to be honest, the place was packed with Chatty Cathy's and the fear of spilling my drink on myself (or someone else for that matter) overwhelmed me such that I could barely focus on the music. I hate it when that shit happens. It was a good night, nonetheless. Plus, I bought a couple of awesome t-shirts for McQ and myself from the Argyle Smile boys. They're rad. If you ever make it out to one of their shows, be sure to pick one up.

We didn't have a ton of great shots from last week, but here's a couple that you can check out:

Tonight at The Gypsy Den in Santa Ana you get to check out five more nominees for the OC Music Awards Best Acoustic Act.

The Vacuum Bell
Kurt Hunter
Marc B
Mike Vitale
I Hate You Just Kidding

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sonic Treat of the Day: Annie (thank you, RCRDLBL)

Listen up, pals. Norwegian pop singer, Annie, is has been making me shake dat ass since I downloaded a couple of her tracks off the RCRDLBL site yesterday and I think you should get with it (if you haven't already).

First of all, one of the tracks is titled, "I Don't Like Your Band" - Um, hi. Thanks, Annie. I've been thinking of a subtle way to tell mediocre and shitty bands alike to fuck off. You're a gem.

You can also download "Don't Stop" - This is definitely a "Ballad of Gay Tony" type of anthem but I love it none the less. And shamelessly.

Visit RCRDLBL daily for awesome music. New. Free. What more do you want.


PS: How awesome are her eyebrows on this promo shot? Sick.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

McQ's Point of View: Viper Room Hosts Useless Keys, Gangi, The Happy Hollows and The Soft Hands

Photos and review: Joe McQuillen
January 8, 2009
Viper Room
10 Days of 2010
Useless Keys
The Happy Hollows
The Soft Hands

Useless Keys, Gangi and The Soft Hands served as excellent satellites to orbit cuddle punks Happy Hollows. The bands all played solid sets and they seemed to complement each other quite nicely. I was happily excited each time the curtain was drawn back. The rest of the crowd seemed to be feeling a similar excitement and they really got into it when the music started. I will say that I wish Gangi had left the samples at home, they seem to be a much stronger unit when not encumbered by the unnecessary electronics. All in all, great show, and I would be more than happy to see any of the bands on a bill in the future.

Not that I expect any of the intoxicated revellers who were celebrating their recent national championship (and hopefully enjoying the show beyond drunken ironitude) to read this, but roll tide. I guess. What do I know, I'm from Wisconsin.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sonic Treat of the Day: Via Tania Covers Nina Simone's "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood"

If you're making the SXSW rounds this year, you're probably going to want to put Via Tania on your hit list. Her tasty little cover of Nina Simon's "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" is too good not to share with your guys. You CAN'T find the track on the Chicago native's latest album, Moon Sweet Moon, but you can snag a copy of it for yourself by clicking on the link below. Enjoy.


Detroit Bar Hosts First of OC Music Awards 2010 Showcases

Photos: Joe McQuillen
OC Music Awards 2010 Showcase - Night One
Detroit Bar
January 5, 2010

Detroit Bar hosted the first of seven showcases that lead up to the night of the award show on March 6, 2010. The night included performances by Kiev (Orange), Melanoid (Fullerton), Yellow Red Sparks (Tustin), The Union Line (San Juan Capistrano) and Make Moon (Newport Beach). My personal favorites: Yellow Red Sparks and The Union Line.

Yellow Red Sparks is playing on Monday (01/11/10) with The Steelwells (Fullerton) at the Silverlake Lounge. It's a free show. Go.

Until then, enjoy the some pics and the rest of the showcase schedule...

These showcases are free and will be held at a different Orange County venue each week. Support the music scene from behind the curtain, attend the showcases and get your table for the award show in March.

OC Music Awards 2010 Showcase Schedule (I've highlighted my recommendations):

Tues. 1/12, 7:30pm - District Tustin Legacy, Tustin (Live Acoustic, FREE, All Ages)
Matt Kollar and the Angry Mob (Huntington Beach)
Barrett Johnson (Santa Ana)
Billy Kernkamp (Costa Mesa)
Stacy Clark (Costa Mesa)
Canvas (Santa Ana)

Tues. 1/19, 7:30pm - Continental Room, Fullerton (Live Band, FREE, 21+)
Handsome G (Costa Mesa)
**We Are the Pilots (Anaheim)
Pawn Shop Kings (Santa Ana)
**The Steelwells (Fullerton)
Argyle Smile (Anaheim)

Tues. 1/26, 7pm - Gypsy Den, Santa Ana (Live Acoustic, FREE, All Ages)
The Vacuum Bell (Laguna Beach)
Kurt Hunter (Fullerton)
Marc B (Huntington Beach)
Mike Vitale (Fullerton)
I Hate You Just Kidding (Costa Mesa)

Tues. 2/02, 7pm - Chain Reaction, Anaheim (Live Band, FREE, All Ages)
**Moostache (Huntington Beach)
Halos (Brea)
The Colourist (Costa Mesa)
The Bolts (Irvine)
Blok (Irvine)

Tues. 2/09, 7:30pm - OC Tavern, San Clemente (Live Acoustic, FREE, 21+)
Skee (Sunset Beach)
Carly Layne (Laguna Niguel)
Parker Macy Blues (Orange)
Christina Dietz (San Clemente)
Allensworth (Huntington Beach)

Tues. 2/16, 7:30pm - Gypsy Lounge, Lake Forest (Live Band, FREE, 21+)
Duress (Huntington Beach)
**The New Limb (Costa Mesa)
**Dusty Rhodes and the River Band (Fullerton)
Stereofix (Costa Mesa)
The Color Turning (Santa Ana)

Fri. 2/26, 8pm - Yost Theater, Santa Ana - (Live Acoustic Finals, FREE, All Ages)

Sat. 2/27, 8pm - Samueli Theater, OCPAC - (Live Band Finals, FREE, All Ages)

Sat. 3/6, 8pm - Grove of Anaheim - (OC Music Awards, $25, All Ages)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Give A Little Bit...

Photo: Monica Alvarez (January 1, 2010 - Laguna Beach, CA)

Happy New Year. Hey, it's my birthday today and this year I decided NOT to have a birthday party and I'm asking my friends and family to donate to some my favorite causes: Art of Elysium (Call To Artists), Heard of Elephants and Pablove. Two charities benefit children and all three are local to the Southern California area.

The Art of Elysium is able to provide artistic workshops to hospitalized children through the generous support of individual donors. Donations of all amounts are welcome and are greatly appreciated, whether it is a one-time gift, a monthly contribution or a donation in a friend or family members’ name.

You can donate your money or you can donate your time. Rad, right? See. You don't need to be loaded to help a charity or someone in need, silly.

CALL TO ARTISTS: If you are an actor, artist, comedian, DJ , fashion designer, hair stylist, makeup artist, musician, photographer, stylist or writer that is interested in volunteering with The Art of Elysium's hospital programs, contact Allison Beck (

Support the arts by attending any of the Heard of Elephants affiliated shows or events. And buy their compilations. Great stuff on there!

The Pablove Foundation is named after Pablo Castelaz, the son of Jo Ann Thrailkill and Jeff Castelaz, and the little brother of Grady Gallagher. On May 17, 2008, Pablo was diagnosed with bilateral Wilms’ Tumor, a rare form of children’s cancer. The cancer appeared out of nowhere, with no warning signs in Pablo’s general demeanor or health. He underwent treatment at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. On June 27, 2009, Pablo’s individual fight with cancer ended. But we fight on in his name, with the spirit of love that Pablo embodied and inspired.

Every year, the Pablove Foundation gives money to improve the lives of children with cancer, at both a national level as well as a local level here in Los Angeles. As we carry out our mission, we wave a flag for anyone to see. On it are these words: Kids get cancer too. They need your help. It’s not somebody else’s problem.

You can make your donation online via Pay Pal or send your check to:

Pablove Foundation
c/o Dangerbird Records
3801 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Thanks for reading. Spread the word.