Post image for Milstein At The Movies: Obvious Child

Obvious Child is a romantic comedy about abortion. Miraculously it delivers on all fronts. It’s hilarious. It’s romantic without delving into pretentiousness or sentimentality. And it deals with the subject of abortion realistically. At no point did I feel like I was being preached to based on a political ideology but rather watching an honest depiction of a woman going through that decision making process.

Jenny Slate stars as Donna Stern, an aimless twenty something New Yorker who dabbles in stand up comedy. After a rough break up, Donna is a mess and leans on her parents and friends for emotional support. One drunken night after a particularly brutal stand up set she meets Max, a midwestern guy who’s naive to the calloused ways of the big city (sounds more trite than it’s executed) played by Jake Lacy. They sleep together in a very delightful montage of fun drunken sex. Later, when it becomes clear that the condom wasn’t used in a manner that maximizes it’s effectiveness, Donna has to make a decision. It’s clear from the opening credits that Donna isn’t ready for the level of responsibility that is required to parent a child but abortion understandably comes with a lot of emotional baggage. Obvious Child walks the audience through that. Through a series of funny and heartfelt conversations with loved ones Donna finds her resolve to make this decision.

​Writer/director Gillian Robespierre manages to not only craft a story that is both entertaining and informative without seeming dismissive or preachy but she also made a great movie on an artistic level. Polly Draper and Richard Kind play Donna’s parents. The dynamic between these three characters is written and played honestly and naturally. Gaby Hoffman and Gabe Liedman play Donna’s friends who manage to provide emotional support while still maintaining the detached self awareness that metropolitan twenty something culture marinades itself in. David Cross even shows up for a scene as a lecherous elder statesman comic who provides a social counterbalance to Lacy’s wholesome and earnest portrayal of Max.

​Obvious Child plays as a modern Annie Hall with 70% more charming pee and poop humor. It’s shot well, acted well, and somehow while it’s juggling the heaviness of it’s subject matter with the lightheartedness of what an audience expects from a romantic comedy it pulls off the magic trick of being the most accurate portrayal of stand up comedy that I’ve ever seen in a fictional narrative (sorry Punchline and Funny People). I’ve seen this film a couple of times and each time as the credits roll I’m left with a longing to still be in that world spending time with those characters. I highly recommend this film.

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Post image for O’Death “OUt Of Hands We Go” (2014 Northern Spy)

Brooklyn alt-country, post-americana act, O’Death has accomplished quite a feat with their fifth record. They’ve created an album that I genuinely enjoy (not a feat) while employing my least favorite instrument: the banjo. This is such a feat that there have only been 2 other occurrences in 2014 (Saintseneca’s Dark Arc and Lowercase Noises “This Is For Our Sins”). It’s nothing personal, but if I see a band loading in and they have a banjo, I just write them off as being more cannon fodder for the overhead speakers at every just-shy-of-corporate PNW coffee shop, inadvertently soundtracking the smug click-clacking of macbook toting slacktivists clad in patagonia gear… but I digress.

Don’t let that hate-mongering opening statement fool you. I dig the fuck outta this record.

I’ve admittedly missed a sizable chunk of O’Death’s career, 2 records and 8 years have passed, since I fell briefly, madly in love with Head Home. 2006 saw a darker, more Waits influenced sound. Not to imply that 2014′s version of O’Death is exactly a ray of goddamned sunshine.

Out Of Hands We Go is a beautiful, melancholic drifting record that finds Greg Jamie exercising far more vocal restraint, though still at times a might unsettling/eerie, the vocals are smoother than their earliest work (while not sinking to the Jose Gonzalez-esque whisper/croon of 2011 single, “Bugs”).

The album also does an excellent job of dragging the listener into various settings and locations via tastefully manipulative production. Ranging from lush, and clean to hollow echo, and cassette tape hiss, Out Of Hands allows the listener to feel like they’ve experienced several aspects of the band, or maybe journeyed through the story with them. Personal favorites include “Wait For Fire” “We Had A Vision” & “Isavelle”. – Joshua Isaac Finch

O’Death plays with Coyote and Stone Jack Jones at Sam Bond’s at 9:30 tonight. 

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Milstein At The Movies: Locke

by on October 23, 2014

Post image for Milstein At The Movies: Locke

When I first heard about this film a sad groan oozed forth from my heart. The trailer gave the impression of a mash up between Speed and Phone Booth (or Liberty Stands Still, whichever execution of that gimmicky premise you’re comfortable with). The pitch is that the whole film is just a guy in his car in real time. In the trailer there is a hint of tension leading my puny brain to believe that there is a sinister plot threatening the lead character. These were assumptions based on a lifetime of consuming mostly formulaic media.

Ivan Locke is a construction contractor working on the biggest project of his career. His reputation amongst those in the industry is impeccable. His home life is idilic, loving wife, two adoring sons, and a home that is never seen in the film but given Locke’s high end BMW is imagined to be quite picturesque. We find out early on that he’s recently made a life changing mistake and this night, this drive that he’s compelled to take, is his reckoning. He must risk his career and family to do what he believes is right.

Tom Hardy’s portrayal of the titular character is one of the things that cinephiles will site to win the “Hardy is the new Brando” argument. He absolutely sells Locke as a flawed yet upstanding man who wants nothing more than to do right by the people in his life under the circumstances he’s created around them. Though he’s the only actor visible onscreen, Hardy doesn’t carry the film alone. Ruth Wilson gives a moving voice performance as Locke’s wife. Andrew Scott also stands out as one of Locke’s employees who’s character provides a pressure release valve for the tension created in writer/director Steven Knight’s script. I’m sure that Locke is not for everyone but I can assure you that this film is in no way executed as the novelty that it appears to be. It’s a well played character study of a person in the most difficult 80 minutes of his life. – Seth Milstein

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Post image for Devin Townsend Project “Z2″ (2014 Hevy Devy Records)

As a person who has never created something fabulous, I am curious to what musicians think when trying to write the follow up to a spectacular release. I’d assume they can’t think about such a thing or they’ll probably get ridiculously self-conscious about their works and question themselves at every turn. Hell, they probably do that regardless of what they’re writing. If you look at the discography of the Canadian maestro Devin Townsend, you will most likely be in awe of the sheer amount of music that this human produces. Between 1995-2006 he was most known for being the frontman of Century Media Records alumni Strapping Young Lad, with six full-length releases in those 11 years.  In 2008 he announced he would be embarking on a journey to create four albums under the moniker of the ‘Devin Townsend Project.’ This project itself released two full-length albums, Ki and Addicted, in the year of 2009. The second two albums, ‘Deconstruction’ and ‘Ghost’, followed this up in the year 2011. Already this discography is looking at being bigger than many artists who’ve been playing just as long as this crazed Canadian. Keep in mind; this list didn’t even include the eight solo albums he’s released since 1996.

Devin Townsend’s goofy, but heavy, masterpiece Ziltoid the Omniscient was released in 2007. I once read an interview with Devy where he had said Ziltoid was actually a test to show what you could do with $3,500. To prove that you didn’t have to be in an amazing studio, paying $2,000 a week to get a fantastic product. Of course, not everyone has the knowledge that he has when it comes to music production. That list, while not as extensive as his writing credits, is still very impressive. With production credits for bands such as Himsa, Bleeding Through, Ihsahn, Darkest Hour, GWAR, Lamb of God and Soilwork. Regardless of how much money it cost to make Ziltoid it sounded fabulous. I feel like this record really helped Devy break out of the shell of Strapping Young Lad that he, himself, has said was constricting due to different factors. If, at this point, you’re wondering how the new Z2 record stacks up to the first, well, it compares very well!

As a young fan of Devin Townsend in 2007, there will always be an important place in my heart for Ziltoid. That being said, I very much enjoyed Z2. This is a double album that clocks in just shy of 2 hours long. The first disc is, technically, a different release called Sky Blue that is a more traditional Devin Townsend Project release that has no interaction with the Ziltoid lore. When I first heard the DTP album Addicted I was rather intrigued. It was heavy and musically interesting but it was also very poppy. I always refer to its genre as “pop metal” because I can’t really peg the genre any better than that. With some of my favorite tracks being ‘Supercrush’, ‘Hyperdrive’ (which is a re-imagining of an original Ziltoid track) and ‘Ih-Ah.’ Each song had a more than pleasant earworm that would infest your brain for weeks to come, but you could also still mosh to the music at times. This is a very intriguing thought to me. I loved it. When I started into  Sky Blue I was very impressed. It was moody, ethereal, catchy, but far less “poppy” than the aforementioned Addicted. My two favorite pieces are ‘Midnight Sun’ and ‘Before We Die.’ Ol’ Devy has really improved the orchestration of the choirs and symphony parts for his records, and these tracks show this progression.

The second disc is entitled Dark Matters and follows Ziltoid and his band of unruly aliens that have come to Earth. This shows Captain Spectacular (voiced by Chris Jericho…yep, that guy) approaching Ziltoid for assistance and not just to blow an asteroid sized rocket into his mothership. This album features a fantastic performance by all of the musicians (whom appear on almost every DTP release), and is very pleasing to listen to. I will say that I feel it is not as “metal” as the first Ziltoid and is very symphonic. It sounds like Devin Townsend had killed Danny Elfman and absorbed his brainpower, but also still wanted to make something heavy. But this ‘something heavy’ also features plenty of fart noises and poop jokes.

Since 1995, Devin Townsend has released 23 full-length albums, numerous singles, EPs and even live albums. That is, on average, over 1.2 albums being released every year. His capability to create good quality music in almost any genre he touches, is so impressive it’s actually disgusting. That being said, I would very much suggest you check out this double album out! Two hours of Devin Townsend is never a bad idea. –Stephen Parker

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Halloween is approaching and the most terrifyingly grim thing you could possibly jam into little Jimmy’s candy bucket is a week in this dismal existence without the relief afforded him by seeing live music. Go to a show. Take little Jimmy to a show. Do it for the children. Here are this week’s Eugene Area Live Music Listings…Show Cal-page002

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