Sometimes, writing in-depth reviews of everything can become daunting, especially when you find yourself with little down time. With that in mind, I’d like to introduce a new segment called REVIEWS AT A GLANCE, a brief take on the movies and albums I’ve had in current rotation. It will mostly be newer stuff, since that’s what I focus on in terms of reviewing, but I might drop some old school gems in there from time to time.

What have you been watching and listening to?

September 26, 2015 by Jericho Cerrona

What I've Been Watching
Rory Culkin's performance as the titular mentally unstable young man in writer-director Lou Howe's debut is a mesmerizing piece of work; alternating between fidgety restlessness and searing rage. The story surrounding him, though, which tracks Gabriel's attempts at locating a girl with whom he had a childhood romance, lacks focus. Gabriel

Cedris Jimenez's homage to 70s crime thrillers (which, of course, includes William Friedkin's classic The French Connection) boasts a terrific performance from Jean Dujardin as a cop trying to stop the export of heroin, but it's ultimately let down by it's gargantuan running time (135 minutes) and conventional plotting. Undeniably stylish, but somewhat empty at it's core. The Connection

A lurid B-movie with loftier pretensions, director Fabrice Du Welz's (Vinyan, Calvaire) latest tells the story of a desperately needy single woman (Stephanie Bisso, deliciously unhinged) and her relationship with a deranged serial killer (Laurent Lucas). Attempting to derive macabre laughs out of unspeakable violence, Du Welz never nails down the tricky tone here; resulting in numbing shock tactics, amateurish camerawork, and faux-arthouse horror tropes. Alleluia
There's something almost Charlie Kaufman-esque going on in writer-director Eskil Vogt's puzzle box of a movie; following the sight-impaired Ingrid (Ellen Dorrit Petersen) as she holes up inside an Oslo apartment writing a story about her own life as well as fictional characters. The narrative, which splits it's time between multiple sub-plots, can get a bit too meta-clever for it's own good, but Petersen's empathetic performance helps keeps the emotional pathology of her character grounded. Blind

A slacker comedy in the worst possible sense, writer-director Bob Byington's latest stab at minimalist, narrative-free filmmaking completely wastes the talents of Jason Schwartzman (on autopilot), Eleanore Pienta (so great in See You Next Tuesday), and Olympia Dukakis (earning the film's only meager laughs). The tale of a guy with a drinking problem and social ineptitude, this one tries to float by on lackadaisical charm, but instead refuses to offer up a convincing reason for it's own existence. 7 Chinese Brothers
What I've Been Listening To
The debut album from art rockers Franz Ferdinand and 70s New Wave brothers Sparks has it's fair share of Bowie-esque glam rock highlights; a series of grandiose ballads and synth-driven dance cuts which successfully merge modern production with throwback kitsch. However, despite witty lyrics and catchy melodies, the whole enterprise almost feels like everyone is winking a bit too much behind a curtain of strained eccentricity. FFS FFS 5 out of 10
Nashville's Bully sounds a lot like other 90s alt-rock revivalists exploding onto the scene these days. There are the predictable distorted guitar hooks, fuzz pedals, and tortured vocals, but there's also a keen sense of what made the best bands from that era so exciting; namely, a sense of rawness. Singer/songwriter/ producer Alicia Bognanno is really the reason this thing sounds so visceral, and of course, the album was recorded by the legendary Steve Albini. Bully Feels Like 7 out of 10
Pennsylvania native Daughn Gibson, who formerly sounded like a cowboy stuck in a noir Western on breakthrough albums like 2013's Me Moan, has suddenly turned into Bryan Ferry. Carnation comes across like a weird hybrid of new wave and easy listening, with Gibson's deep-throated drawl buried in a mix of synthesizers, steel guitars, and ambient drums. The results are intriguing; with mood trumping hooks and oddness replacing clarity. Daughn Gibson Carnation 6 out of 10
London-based psych-rockers Django Django have a tough hurdle to overcome after their self-titled debut created a minor sensation in the UK. Sophomore albums are always a tricky affair, and the real problem here is that Born Under Saturn is simply too long to sustain it's ambitions. Still, the snaking, rhythmic nature of the psychedelic sounds conjured bring to mind a warped meeting of Talking Heads, The Beach Boys, Tears For Fears, and Devo. Django Django Born Under Saturn 7 out of 10
A pop album lacking hooks, discernible choruses, and the kind of club bangers recycled in this age of Beyonce-approved surprise album drops is something special. More special, though, is 27-year-old FKA Twigs's unwavering commitment to her art. As a dancer, singer, choreographer, and producer, she's a bonafide one-woman show, and her music; a series of ambient, glitchy electro-pop songs reaching for thematic connections between power, sexual objectification, and female agency, is absolutely singular. FKA Twigs M3LL155X 8 out of 10