Monday, April 16, 2007
The only thing better than hearing the lovely sounds of The Shins live is hearing them in the resplendent setting of the ornate Orpheum Theater in downtown Los Angeles.
Passionate guitarist Dave Hernandez risked life and limb by bounding onto wobbly stage monitors in fits of excitement, incredible singer James Mercer risked vocal chord nodes by belting his heart out, and charming bassist Marty Crandall risked groans with his pun requesting that the Los Angeleno audience chime in on the chorus with La-la-la...la, then quipped: "L.A. La." (I think I was the only one who got it.) Drummer Jesse Sandoval just risked getting taken for granted, being the most low-key of the group, but he did a fine job himself. I love, love, love these pop-polishing fellas and so did everyone else in the grand old vaudeville theater that night. The standing ovation proved it.
In movie news, I finally saw The Departed on DVD. While it was certainly diverting and got my heart rate up for at least a 15-minute span, watching it made me realize that Scorsese's recent Best Director and Best Picture awards were definitely career awards versus being earned on the merits of this film. Sure, the acting was solid, the dialogue catchy, the "good son/bad son" dichotomy intriguing. But the editing in the first act was whiplash-inducing, sapping storytelling momentum and tension instead of fueling it. Then as the movie began to simmer, implausible plot points hit like cold showers again and again.
Of course, there were great moments when all cylinders were firing. I especially loved the smart-ass energy in the elevator exchange when Matt Damon's character hits on the cop shrink. Alec Baldwin was a hoot. He was slinging hash like nobody's business. And I feel it's noteworthy that for the first time I was able to buy Leonardo DiCaprio in a role and actually felt sympathetic towards his character. His usual slimy smugness was gone. In honor of this, I even refrained from calling him Leonard DiCrapio just now. Hurrah!