Listen to me on KTRS/St. Louis every Friday, 3-6pm CT

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Movie Review: Sing Street

"Sing Street" is the newest from John Carney, the Irish filmmaker whose 2007 movie "Once" spawned the Oscar-winning song of the year and a Broadway musical. He followed that up with Keira Knightly and Mark Ruffalo in "Begin Again," but it wasn't nearly as good.

Now, Carney is back on track with "Sing Street," the story of a 15-year-old boy in Dublin in 1985. His parents are always arguing and out of money, so he gets put into a new Catholic school where he gets bullied by both another teenager and the priest in charge, but he meets a girl and wants to impress her, so he forms a band with some of the other kids from the school. Influenced by the videos his older brother watches on TV (e.g. Duran Duran, The Cure, Culture Club), he begins dressing like those musicians, and writes songs like them, too, and gets the girl to appear in videos with his band.

"Sing Street" has a warm, comfortable feeling and fits right into the lineage of other Irish light comedies like "Waking Ned Devine" and "The Snapper," with a dash of "The Commitments" added. The kids -- none of whom you'll know from anything else -- are perfectly cast, the music is period-appropriate and enjoyable, and I walked out with a smile on my face, so I'm recommending it. Score: 8/10.

Picture Of The Day

John Oliver explains to the 17-year cicadas who will re-appear this year what has changed since they were conceived in 1999:

Monday, May 02, 2016

Movie Review: Keanu

I was a fan of Key and Peele's Comedy Central show and was disappointed when it ended last year, but I'm happy to see them making a very positive first step onto the big screen with the action comedy "Keanu."

They play two regular guys (blerds = black + nerds) who get mistaken for The Allentown Brothers, gangbangers who killed a bunch of people in a drug warehouse takedown. The only survivor is a kitten that belongs to the drug lord. It runs away and ends up on the doorstep of Peele’s apartment just as he’s recovering from his girlfriend breaking up with him. He names the cat Keanu and becomes attached to it. Then one day he comes home and finds his apartment has been broken into, the furniture is tossed around, and Keanu is gone.

That leads them into adventures with the Blips, a gang made up of people thrown out of the Bloods and the Crips. Key and Peele aren’t anywhere close to gangbangers, but they pretend they’re the Allentown Brothers, and end up having to improvise their way through every situation where they find themselves way over their heads.

Though the kitten-based plot sounds ridiculous, it works because their chemistry is great, the dialogue is very funny, and they fully inhabit these characters. The supporting cast includes Will Forte, Method Man, Nia Long, Luis Guzman, and cameos by Anna Faris and George Michael. "Keanu" was directed by Peter Atencio, who did most of the episodes of their Comedy Central show, so he knows how to make Key and Peele's material work on screen.

"Keanu" is rated R for a reason. It's raunchy, like the best comedies of 2014 (Chris Rock's "Top Five") and 2015 (Amy Schumer's "Trainwreck"), but I laughed out loud several times, so I'm scoring it 8 out of 10.

Best Thing I've Read Today

Campbell Brown, former anchor and reporter for CNN and NBC, blames TV news outlets for the rise of Donald Trump:

I really would like to blame Trump. But everything he is doing is with TV news’ full acquiescence. Trump doesn’t force the networks to show his rallies live rather than do real reporting. Nor does he force anyone to accept his phone calls rather than demand that he do a face-to-face interview that would be a greater risk for him. TV news has largely given Trump editorial control. It is driven by a hunger for ratings—and the people who run the networks and the news channels are only too happy to make that Faustian bargain. Which is why you’ll see endless variations of this banner, one I saw all three cable networks put up in a single day: “Breaking news: Trump speaks for first time since Wisconsin loss.” In all these scenes, the TV reporter just stands there, off camera, essentially useless. The order doesn’t need to be stated. It’s understood in the newsroom: Air the Trump rallies live and uninterrupted. He may say something crazy; he often does, and it’s always great television.
She goes on:
It is not just the wall-to-wall coverage of Trump. It’s the openness with which some are reveling in his attention. It’s the effort, conscious or not, to domesticate and pretty him up, to make him appear less offensive than he really is, and to practice a false objectivity or equivalence in the coverage. Here, journalism across all platforms -- corporate, as well as publicly funded -- is guilty.

Trump is a chronic liar and dissembler; this has been demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt. He repeatedly makes factual errors, large and small, in his statements. He is also a misogynist, has a cruel streak (including mocking people’s looks and physical disabilities), has condoned physical violence among his supporters and is shockingly ignorant. To ask journalists to pretend otherwise is akin to asking them to have pretended in the 1960s that George Wallace wasn’t a racist or in the 1950s that Joe McCarthy wasn’t a demagogue. Yet when former ABC anchor and National Public Radio’s legendary pioneer Cokie Roberts dared to state the truth, calling Trump “one of the least qualified candidates ever to make a serious run for the presidency,” NPR took pains to distance itself. The vice president for news issued a memo reminding staff that she is just a “commentator,” not a member of NPR’s staff.

It need not be this way.
Read Brown's full piece here.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Movie Review: Miles Ahead

"Miles Ahead" is another depressing biopic about a tortured musical genius, and it's a mess.

Don Cheadle (who directed and co-wrote) plays legendary jazz trumpeter Miles Davis at a time in the late 1970s when he’d stopped recording music. You learn nothing about why Davis was considered so great -- instead you get car chases and gun fights. There’s a white Rolling Stone reporter played by Ewan McGregor along for the ride, but he adds nothing to our knowledge of Davis, who comes off as a gangster drug addict who battles his record company. But we never understand why. There are some flashbacks to Davis’ successful years in the fifties and sixties, but not enough.

If you're not familiar with why Davis was considered great, "Miles Ahead" won't help. And if you're a Davis fan, you'll walk out disappointed. I give it 2/10.

Worth A Link

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Nerd Prom

President Obama will make his final White House Correspondents Dinner appearance tonight, which will be carried by CSPAN and all the cable news channels. Larry Wilmore ("The Nightly Show") is the comedian who has to follow him. That used to be a much better spot before the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations hired an entire staff of clever people to write the presidential routines and put them on par with any late-nighter's monologue. The game tonight will be to score who gets in the better lines about Donald Trump.

While we're on the subject, here's my memory of the time I attended that event many years ago.

Showbiz Show 4/29/16

This week on the showbiz segment of my show, Colin Jeffrey and I reviewed three movies -- "Keanu," "Mother's Day," and "Sing Street." We also talked about the amazing technology behind "The Jungle Book" and whether we need a new streaming service from Turner Classic Movies.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Harris Challenge 4/29/16

On this edition of my Harris Challenge -- the most fun you can have with your radio on -- the trivia categories include Keanu Reeves Movies, Century Number Nineteen, and Countries In Both Europe and Asia. Listen and play along, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Want more Harris Challenges? Click here.

Knuckleheads In The News® 4/29/16

This edition of Knuckleheads In The News® includes stories about shirtless Subway sandwiches, a bushbaby for a prostitute, and an evidence-eating lawyer. Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Want more Knuckleheads In The News®? Click here.

Friday, April 29, 2016

KTRS Friday

I'll be back on my 3-6pm CT show at KTRS today. Along the way, Colin Jeffrey and I will review the movies "Keanu," "Sing Street," "Mother's Day," and other showbiz news. Plus, you'll get another opportunity to play my Harris Challenge, and I'l have a brand new batch of Knuckleheads In The News®. Listen over the air, via the station's free smartphone app or via