5 Reasons Matt Should See 'Adventureland'

5. It's full of late 1980s post-graduate angst.
4. The field of Semiotics is mentioned 2 minutes into the movie.
3. The main love interest, Kristen Stewart, frequently dons a black Lou Reed T-shirt. ***
2. "I'm In Love With a Girl" by Big Star plays in the background during the first romantic encounter.
1. The movie opens and ends with the Replacements; "Bastards of Young" and "Unsatisfied", respectively.

Ok, so first I need to make clear that while I really enjoyed 'Adventureland,' I would never defend it as a great film. All it really is is a fairly humorous portrait of a guy kind of like me - he's just out of college, hoping to go to graduate school, working a shitty job in the meantime, all while living at his parents' house. It's not a must-see. I'd give it 3.5 stars on Netflix if I rented it. I hadn't even planned on seeing it. I stumbled into the theater after originally wanting to see 'Earth' and realizing 20 min in that it was just Planet Earth redux sans David Attenborough (replaced by James Earl Jones...). I will say, however, that 'Adventureland' was a pleasant surprise.

First off, the soundtrack is killer. Yo La Tengo chose all the tracks and the picked a perfect mixed tape soundtrack for this 1987 period movie: The Replacements, Big Star, Crowded House, Velvet Underground (Ok, so not the 80s but it works). The music evokes late-night summer in the eighties, making you nostalgic for a time you never experienced in the same way 'Sandlot' did for us when we were kids. And that's another surprising aspect of the movie: it lets you know that it's set in the 1980s. For some reason I though this was another Judd Apatow film so the setting (and tone) really threw me off. While there are a few scenes with Reagan on the television talking about Iran-Contra that might cause you to make a Forrest Gump cringe, the movie's dedication to its setting doesn't detract from the overall viewing experience. So it's not a movie ABOUT the 1980s but it's also not 2009 humor tranplanted and thrown into a 1987 costume. It really just lets you experience the sweetness of the late eighties. Lastly, it is not Juno-fied, a direction it could have easily have taken. It really tries to be earnest instead of throwing clever but ultimately meaningless catch phrases at you with the hopes of reminding you "how cool is this movie?".

Matt - I really wish that you could enjoy this movie. And maybe you can. If you can toss off your recently acquired cinematic sensibilities and summon your inner 1980s romantic then perhaps you can appreciate the experience of watching this film. I'm hesitant to make the comparison to Whit Stillman's films (Metropolitan in particular) because I know how highly you regard those. I'll put it this way: it gets as close as Hollywood can to that aesthetic. The movie definitely has its flaws. Jesse Eisenberg's character is a dweeb and a bit too Michael Cera-ish at times. The plot can be formulaic, the dialogue bordering on prosaic. Ryan Reynolds is in it.

Part of me hopes you don't see it because I'm 80% sure that the following scenario will occur. You will read this post and think "Wow, maybe I should see it." You'll go see it, hate it, and then call me and give me shit for telling you to see it. I'll have to hear your film studies bullshit for a half hour while trying to defend the really sweet parts of the movie - parts that I KNOW you thought were totally sweet but can't completely admit to liking. But I have to give it a shot. I had to write this post.

Did I mention that the movie opens with "Bastards of Young" by the Replacements?

***I remembered this morning that there is an addition reason you should see this movie, Matt. Right before Kristen Stewart is about to get it on with Ryan Reynolds, she puts the acoustic version of "Taste of Cindy" by Jesus and Mary Chain on the record player. Totally. Sweet.


Ian Curtis Will Tear The Fragile Psyche of Hyperactive Adolescents Apart

Brian Gibson - Love Will Tear Us Apart (Joy Division Cover) from Johnny Internets on Vimeo

While we here at Epic Mail are never ones to stifle the creative output of adolescents (our blog wouldn't be here otherwise), the only thing more harrowing than realizing your child is strung out beyond the reach of modern medicine on Kidz Bop techno (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0tXBqSJAek) is realizing the latent Ian Curtis parallels of such expression.



Sail Free or Die Hard: the American Response to Piracy

So the first American-run ship was hijacked by Somali pirates yesterday and instead of allowing the pirates to run rough-shod over them and ransom the ship and its cargo, the American crew managed to disable the ship, forcing the pirates to flee with only one hostage: the ship's selfless captain.

Now I know a few months ago we were all asking ourselves, "Are these pirates sweet?" and many of us concluded that "Yes, yes they are." However, a new question has arisen in response to this new pirate attack on the American vessel: are our guys sweeter?

In short, I believe the superior sweetness of our guys is undeniable. Not only did our guys kick the pirates off of the ship without the use of any firearms, but they also managed to live out every American action movie ever made, reinforcing our national worship of the take charge-no bull shit American hero who is simultaneously a selfless martyr willing to sacrifice for his fellow man.

Let's consider the crew's decision to disable the ship. Did anyone else immediately think of Harrison Ford in Air Force One? Now it's true we could think of the passengers of Flight 93 but I'm trying to write a light-hearted piece and I'm not interested in getting bogged down in that. Back to American cinema. Imagine being a crew member. You have no weapons and the Somalis have boarded your ship. You look to your shipmate and say, "They're not taking our ship." You hatch a plan with those on board to sabotage the ship. I would be very surprised if at least one crew member didn't think to him or herself that when they had successfully foiled the pirates' plans and were about to throw them off the ship that he or she would take advantage of this unbelievably sweet moment and say to the pirate "Get off my ship!!!" I'm sure many of the crewmembers thought that it was their responsibility as representatives of the US of A to do what sailors of other nations did not have the courage to do... to say "No" to the piracy and kick some ass.

While the crew's plan worked, the captain of the ship was unable to save himself and, at least from what I heard on NPR this morning, agreed to go with the pirates as a hostage to secure the well-being of his men. There's almost too many examples of this to mention but because of the title of my post I have to bring up the most recent Die Hard. The final scene in this ridiculous action movie perfectly captures the spirit of sacrifice we demand from our uniquely American heroes. Bruce Willis is being held hostage by the villain who is standing directly behind him with a gun to Willis' head. Willis' character pulls his partner's gun (who is standing in front of the pair) to his shoulder, effectively shooting the bad guy standing behind him by allowing the bullet to first pass through his body. I'm not sure there's been a sweeter scene in an action movie in a long, long time.

I'm not interested in dissecting WHY we have created this particular idea of what it means to be an American hero; I'm merely pointing out that this recent pirate incident is a particularly sweet example of it being acted out in real life. My thoughts obviously go out to the captain who, as of now, is still on board the small vessel with the pirates. The tiny boat is being closely followed by an American destroyer but they are unable to really take any action at this point. Now there's another distinctly American image: the biggest and best technology a country can build rendered impotent by a few desperate criminals on a speed boat.


The Welcomed Return of Suburban Rock

note: This post will soon be followed by a more general "blog-conscious" post about the state of our blog and a call for revitalization/re-conceptualization of Epic Mail.

Maybe I've just been back in my hometown for too long and am currently being pulled out to sea by the riptide of high school nostalgia. Maybe I've gotten burned out on all the disco-infused music I listened to in college and no longer want to listen to music with "This would be so sweet to dance to at the party tonight" in mind. Or maybe I just miss my epic bros (but not enough to go see "I Love You, Man", Dana Stevens). Whatever the reason(s), I'm currently loving the new and perhaps brief resurgence of slacker-rock that allows me to relive the glory days of late night driving/screaming to Pavement, Weezer (ugh), Built to Spill, and Modest Mouse. I can only listen to that collection of albums so much before I feel anachronistic and trapped by my musical past.

The new slacker-rockers I'm referring to are Cymbals Eat Guitars and Suckers. Both bands have been all over Pitchfork et al, and they both are living up to the hype. I don't know their back stories that well and honestly I don't really care that much. CEG (sorry, I'm only capable of typing that awful name once) have an unbelievable album out now in digital form called "Why There Are Mountains." All nine tracks perfectly synthesize the cosmic guitars of BTS, the jangle and rambling of Pavement, and the grit both vocally and production-wise of Modest Mouse but without sounding merely derivative; itt plays like a lost gem of the mid-nineties. The other band, Suckers, from Brooklyn, are releasing an EP this Spring and seem to have a similar musical approach. "It Gets Your Body Movin'" has plenty of desperate group vocals that would allow a car full of bros to, in a slight revision of Ari from Entourage, "yell it out."

One last bit: I realize these bands both have horrible names. The only thing I can say to that is that their predecessors have equally stupid names when you think about them for more than two seconds. Pavement? I can't even think of a humorous situation in which bandmates might arrive at such a name. Modest Mouse? I even reMEMber thinking that was "raaaaaandom" in middle school. My point is that they're in good company and soon we'll get used to the poor choice of names... that is if they don't follow the debut album boom and bust trend of the myspace era.

So get on hypemachine, download their stuff, gather up some bros, choose a driver, and spend the night singing these guys' songs at the top of your lungs. And give me a call - I've had to pull an Alanis Morisette and imagine copies of myself in the car with me.


20 Gs

This 'party pic' has got to be the strangest thing to ever come out of an international economic meeting:

And this has to be the greatest:

20 gs

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