Friday, September 3, 2010


Check out the link below for The Idler's "Cinephiles" column, which features myself and Adam Simmons waxing on our favorite storytelling medium. 

In "Panic in the 70's", Adam Simmons discusses some top-notch paranoid thrillers from what is argueably one of the best decades in film, and in "It's the unanswered questions that haunt us", I discuss what makes Michael Haneke's "Cache" such a unique thriller.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

We Refuse to Apologize for the Things we Enjoy!

Welcome to THE IDLER!

This is a place to read about things we all enjoy: Food, music, film, television, games, sports, and anything else we can think of. We cover the new and the not-so-new, but mostly the not-so-new. We’ll write about last week’s game and that new film that really caught our attention. But we’ll also write about the music that we keep listening to years later, the shows that pop up in our Netflix queue, and eating comfort foods while playing Monopoly during a recession.

Ours is a nostalgia-drenched culture, but this is not a nostalgia site. We watch films now. We listen to music now. We love Kirk Gibson, Bobby Higginson, and Miguel Cabrera. We play old video games on new machines.

We refuse to apologize for the things we enjoy.

Most of all, this will be a place for intelligent, attentive, and distinctive voices. Sometimes we’ll be clever, sometimes we’ll be thoughtful, but we’ll always be fun to read.

You can get started by reading what’s new today, or check out our columns:

The F Word—Food and eating by Jill Kolongowski

Rounding Third—Sports (mostly baseball) and poetry by Angela Vasquez-Giroux

Diary of a Casual Gamer—Games of all sorts by Gavin Craig

In the Queue—Television by Tim Carmody

The Cinephiles—Film by Adam Simmons and Kevin Mattison

Dysphonia—Music by Mike Vincent & Travis Wright

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cache (2005) - Review

Directed by Michael Haneke, Starring Daniel Auteil, Juliette Binoche & Maurice Benichou

"Cache" is maddening.  It is hypnotic.  It is menacing.  It is a voyeuristic film, always regarding from the outside when the true danger may lie within. 

It opens with a static shot (pictured in the screen cap to the left) of a relatively non-descript home in Paris.  The shot - and the environment within it - is so still that we almost think we are looking at a picture.  It is only when a lone biker passes through that we know it is live.  Later, when we hear the voices of Georges (Auteil) and Anne (Binoche) Laurent cooling discussing the footage and realize it is actually a video that had been left on their doorstep.  The footage is of their home.

It is easy for Georges to dismiss it.  He is the famous host of a book discussion program (Yeah, they have those in France. Here we have "Keeping up with the Kardashians"), after all.  It's probably just a fan.  Anne is a bit more unnerved, but carries on.  They have a teenage son named Pierrot, who is aloof and often disappears for long periods of time without telling his parents where he'll be (that part is universal).

The videos keep coming and are soon accompanied with crude, child-like drawings of violence.  Georges cannot understand how someone could get away with this.  The shot is from directly across the street.  How have they never seen anyone?  Eventually they receive new footage.  One tape features a shot of Georges childhood home, and the other is a walking shot ending at a specific nearby apartment.  Does Georges know it?  Does Anne?  If so, neither of them lets on.

Here is the real genius of "Cache":  As more tapes arrive we begin to see cracks in the Laurents' bourgeois facade.  They have a small get together where a distraught Anne seeks the comfort of a friend.  Could she be having an affair?  Why does Georges keep having nightmares involving a boy decapitating a chicken, blood in his mouth?  Where does Peirrot keep disappearing too?  These questions begin to pile on top of the big one:  just who is shooting those videos? 

Eventually, Georges visits the apartment in the video looking for answers.  He accuses the apartments owner of being involved.  The man denies it and we believe him, but these two men do know each other.  The where and the how only adds to the intrigue.  You are no doubt beginning to sense what "Cache" is really all about: the questions.  This is precisely what sets it apart from other thrillers.  It is not about the videos, it is about what the videos do the Laurents.  There will be no closure here, which leads me to the final shot. 

It is static, much like the opening, but it features a fair amount of people milling about within the frame.  There are people in the foreground, but their backs are to us.  In the background people come and go.  Two of them stop and begin speaking to each other.  We have seen these two before.  We have been given no reason to think they might know each other, but here we are.  One last question mark in a film filled with them.


CHECK OUT REAL DETROIT THIS WEEK: The Expendables and EatPrayLove Reviewed!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Directed by Nicholas Stoller, Starring Russell Brand, Jonah Hill, Sean Combs, Elizabeth Moss & Rose Byrne

We first met rock star Aldous Snow (Brand) in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall", which was a fine comedy.  Arguably, Mr. Snow stole nearly every scene he was in, signaling that he might be a little too big a personality for his co-star status.  In that film Snow had just hopped onto the sobriety wagon.  In "Get Him to the Greek", we get to see him hop back off.

Low level music exec Aaron Green (Hill) has been charged with the (at first) enviable job of escorting his idol to a Today Show appearance followed by a career rejuvenating show at the Greek Theatre in L.A..  Trying to get a sober rock star to be anywhere on time is a task in and of itself, and as previously mentioned, Snow is far from sober.  His fall from grace was kicked off by the release of an album called "African Child", which one reviewer dubbed to be "the worst thing to happen to Africa since Apartheid". Ouch.  That's going to be a hard one to come back from!  Couple that with the fact that the mother of his child and long time musical collaborator, Jackie Q (Byrne) has just left him, and you have got a recipe for one hell of a bender.

Aaron, meanwhile, is about as green (nicely done) as one can be in the music industry.  He is a fan, above all else, yet to be jaded by the system.  Here to make sure he eventually will be is his boss, Sergio Roma, played by a surprisingly funny Sean Combs.  Aaron's fear of Sergio drives the early parts of the film as he desperately tries to keep Aldous on track while simultaneously trying to keep him placated.  As a result of the latter, Aaron spends a great deal of time inebriated while still trying to accomplish the former.  Aldous treats his nine to five just as seriously as Aaron, you see.  His nine to five just happens to be getting soused.

This is a very funny film.  And while it does touch upon some heavy business in the third act, it never forgets that it is a comedy.  And if you are wondering whether or not Snow deserved his own film, wonder no more.  Russell Brand is absolutely phenomenal in a part he appears to have been born to play.  He has got old school, British rock swagger in spades.  Even his songs border on believability ("Inside of you.  Inside of you.  There's got to be some part of me inside of you")! 

Let's face it, the sad, lonely rock star bit is old hat.  It is a testament to both Brand's performance and Nicholas Stoller's direction that Snow never comes off as a caricature.  And while Jonah Hill is perfect as a foil for Brand's shenanigans, make no mistake:  This is Aldous Snow's show.