By Ahsan Sajid
If one were to ever compile the greatest hits of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, it would be at least a triple album and no less. However, this ambitious task has already been taken and condensed into a single CD album; whether that's a good thing or a bad thing depends on the Cave-experience of the listener. The Best of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds is the perfect introduction to Nick Cave and his genius, and his band of merry men that included the strange Blixa Bargeld of Einsturzende Neubauten fame on guitars. However, for the seasoned and pro Cave listener, the compilation may provide much to complain about.
If you are unfamiliar with Nick Cave, this is an excellent place to start. What this album does is provide the listener with a fine introduction to the man that can only be described as an active genius. It probably helps that the songs are not in chronological order, so we get a clearer picture of what the man and his music are all about. Cave's career has been somewhat uneven, from his orstralian days fronting The Birthday Party, to his Goth rock days to classic rock ballads and Leonard Cohen covers, Cave has never known how to settle down. And this album is a true testament to that, and in keeping with that spirit, does not deign to follow something so silly like chronology. Now that would be beneath him!
There isn't a moment to settle down with this compilation; there is considerable variety to the tracks, which should not be surprising given the album spans a long and eclectic career. The songs on this compilation range from lyrical and haunting ballads, to dark and menacing narratives, to tracks with new wave and avant-garde features: all classics in the Nick Cave oeuvre. Love, death, loss, murder and wrathful gods are the recurring themes. Cave has famously taken inspiration from the religious books and classic religious texts, and like those great works of literature his songs and musicianship evoke an atmosphere that is, by turns, beautiful and troubling.
There are some outstanding tracks the stunning, frenzied chant of 'The Weeping Song' and the tender heartbreak of 'The Ship Song'; the gorgeous 'Straight to You' and 'Nobody's Baby Now'; the haunting duets with P. J. Harvey and Kylie Minogue, 'Henry Lee' and 'Where The Wild Roses Grow'; songs of foreboding like 'Red Right Hand', 'Tupelo' and 'The Carny'; and the raw, brutal energy of 'The Mercy Seat'.
Overall, this is a tremendous collection, and if you're new to Nick Cave, then this is the perfect introduction to the maestro of the macabre and his band of merry minstrels.
By Musarrat Rahman
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (to be known as PJ & the Goat from here on) is the new Chris Columbus film based on the best selling series of children's books by Rick Riordan that's about a world where the ancient Greek mythological Gods still exist (but they've moved to America along with Olympus and the Underworld) and their illegitimate spawn roam the earth.
For those of you who enjoyed the book, this movie is a disappointment. It has nothing in common with the story and therefore fails to make sense. Here's the thing though, if you're going to spend so much money making a movie adapted from a book why not just stick to the book storyline?
The film opens with a towering Poseidon (Kevin McKidd) walking out of the ocean in a metal skirt before shrinking to human-size and ascending to the top of the Empire State Building where he meets up with Zeus (Sean Bean). It seems Zeus has lost his lightning bolt and accuses Poseidon's son with stealing it.
Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) is your average high-school kid with emo-Jonas-brother's hair and tight pants, his best friend Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) is a sassy cripple and his mom (Catherine Keener) is married to Guido (Joe Pantoliano). His normal life comes to a halt during a school trip to a local museum when the English teacher, Mrs. Dodds, transforms into a winged creature, that's supposed to be a Fury but looks more like a giant bug, and demands he give her the lightning bolt. He is saved by Grover and Mr. Brunner (Pierce Brosnan) who reveal to Percy that his life is in danger and that he's actually a demigod. They also reveal their true forms as a satyr and a centaur respectively. Soon Percy is heading off to Camp Half-Blood where demigod children learn to wear tunics, play with swords, and stare longingly into each other's eyes. His mother is 'killed' by a Minotaur along the way, but luckily Percy has Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario), daughter of Athena, to keep him company and distract him from showing the slightest emotion over the loss. He briefly settles in to his waterfront bachelor pad (built for him by his absentee father) before learning that his mother is actually alive and trapped in hell, so he sets off on a predictable and bland adventure with Grover and Annabeth to rescue his mom and find the true lightning thief.
The initial idea about demigod children discovering new powers within themselves and taking on modern-day adventures more familiar to their ancient and mythical ancestors is a potentially strong and interesting one, but Columbus and writer Craig Titley seem to have no idea who their movie is for.
The trouble starts almost immediately as they set out on their god of war-inspired quest of finding three hidden pearls they'll need to escape from hell. A magical map leads them to three locations across the US where the pearls have been hidden, and at each stage they have to face off against an end-boss of sorts including Medusa (Uma Thurman), a multi-headed Hydra, and some Lotus-Eaters in LasVegas. The first two are passable action sequences even though they involve some major stupidity, but the casino section is just ridiculous. We'll ignore the fact that the three underage teens are allowed in without issue, but once they fall under the spell of the Lotus-Pushers, we're subjected to a montage of gambling, eating, Grover getting his hooves painted red(!), and a choreographed dance number to 'Pokerface' and 'Tik Tok'.
Both McKidd and Bean are fantastic actors but they have absolutely nothing to do here. Poseidon and Zeus stand around and argue a little in their dashing metal skirts, but they don't do a single thing. True, the movie is about the kids, but come on: we're talking about Zeus and Poseidon here. Zeus and Poseidon! Brosnan's centaur looks good effects-wise, but he seems to think he's playing some kind of man/peacock hybrid as he puffs out his chest and gut in every scene but you can't help but laugh as he imparts his witty words of wisdom. Thurman's role as Medusa is a more successful performance. Coogan and Dawson are the only two “stars” that truly manage to make their roles work. He plays a rock'n'roll Hades in leather pants with a delightfully sinister glee, and she is simply too sexy of a Persephone for this movie.
Enough about the adults you say, how are the picchis? Lerman is pretty good with the material he's given and he shows a bit of charm and personality that may serve him well going forward, but he's never really tasked with showing much in the way of emotion. Dad's a Greek god? Gee, that's pretty crazy. Mom's dead? Oh well, let's go flirt with that chick over there. Daddario is the “chick” but aside from being gorgeous, she's pretty much forgettable. Jackson manages to squeeze in a few entertaining lines but you have to sit through several hundred more stupid ones.
So where does it leave PJ & the Goat on the recommendation scale? It's not a good movie by any stretch, but if you have kids under the age of ten (and preferably not too bright) they'll probably enjoy the movie. Lots of stuff moves around on-screen and the wise cracking sidekick talks funny.
It's film making at its worst: 'go here, get this, go there, get that' and it strangely manages to leave a film filled with gods and mythological creatures feeling uninspired, uninteresting, and boring. The movie also ends up being an utterly heartless affair. Mom's death and rescue attempt are unemotional affairs, just as Percy's reunion with his father is. If neither the actors nor the characters care what's going on, why should we?