DVD review: Everyone Else

By , April 27, 2011

Everyone Else is an exquisite German film about the darker side (but also the pure joy) of young love.  Chris and Gitti are vacationing in Sardinia, and at first they are blissfully alone.  But when they go to dinner with another, more successful couple, the movie becomes an intimate look at how relationships can falter, especially when outsiders are introduced into the mix. 


Music Review: The Incredible Machine

By , April 23, 2011

SugarlandThe Incredible Machine
By Sugarland

So the other night I was sitting (or standing actually, because I had really good floor seats) at the Sugarland concert, and I had a moment. It was two moments actually that kinda just glommed into one big, sappy moment.

Backstory: To get ready for the concert, I’ve been listening to this latest release from Jennifer & Christian and loving it, thank you very much. There are a lot of good songs, but being the pianist that I am, I was really drawn to the title track. Jennifer is kinda hard to understand in sections, but I did the best I could and focused more on enjoying the piano and chord progressions – which are somewhat trancy (relative to country music).

Fast forward to now: Anyway, I was sitting at the concert and they started to sing “Incredible Machine” and it hit me (Moment #1). What I thought was “…hard to beat, and incredible machine, blah blah blah…” was really “a heart that beats, and incredible machine.  Made of blood and love and smoke and lust and steam.” So the lightbulb finally went on once I got the words right, and then the song made me feel kinda schmoopy (Moment #2) because when you think about it like that, the heart really is an incredible machine.

(Say it with me now…awwwwwww…)

Also, Jennifer Nettles has great white girl dance moves that I would totally steal if the necessary moment arose. Just for future reference.

The rest of the tracks are good as well. I especially liked the reggaesque/funk break on “Stuck Like Glue” that radio decided wasn’t good enough to include. Which…is why I stopped listening to the radio (take that ad rates…).

Sugarland is country, but they aren’t KUNTRY country – one track is reminiscent of Green Day, even. If you need a new album that’s a little bit country and lot of everything else (+kitchen sink), start here.

Happy listening, you incredible machines you…
:) Amanda

PS Also, because I’m contractually obligated to mention freegal in every music review I write (not really), please note that Sugarland is not on freegal (sigh), so you have to go old school and get the CD. Thank you, that is all.

Book review: Cookoff: Recipe Fever in America

By , April 20, 2011

Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef.




Movie Review: tired of typical Rom Coms?

By , April 19, 2011

Are you tired of the typical Hollywood rom coms, always with the same basic plot and the “it girl” of the moment?  If you answered yes, I’d like to recommend the following two movies I chanced upon in the past month…

Tamara Drewe is more of a black comedy, but there’s plenty of romance along with the funny bits and biting satire!   Based on the graphic novel of the same name by Posy Simmonds, which is in turn inspired by Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd, Tamara Drewe is set in a quaint English village called Ewedown, and involves farming and farming accidents, writers and the creative process, plastic surgery, infidelity, rock stars, adolescent rebellion,  and love.  Like another favorite British movie of mine Love Actually, it includes a great ensemble cast.  Stephen Frears directs.

Heartbreaker is a more of a true romantic comedy, but with that special French twist. L’Arna coeur (that’s Heartbreaker in French!) features Vanessa Paradis and Romain Duris – two of France’s biggest film stars.  Alex (played by Duris) has made a business out of breaking up relationships for hire.  With the help of  his sister and brother-in-law, Alex concocts complicated scenarios in which he proves to the woman she can find true love elsewhere.  When he’s hired to break up a couple due to be married in a week – this is where Vanessa Paradis aka Mrs. Johnny Depp comes in – Alex may end up with a broken heart himself.  I won’t give anything away, other than to say expect a great homage to the famous dance scene from Dirty Dancing!

Click on the movie posters below to place your requests, and please share your favorite rom coms in the comments.


Music review: If You Like…

By , April 13, 2011

Florence + the Machine

If you like the big vocals and theatricality of Florence + the Machine, try Butterfly Boucher’s first album, Flutterby.  Originally from Australia, Boucher now resides here in Nashville.  You may also like Neptune City, by New Jersey artist Nicole Atkins.




On the other hand, if you prefer Americana music (think Gillian Welch or Jolie Holland), try Letters from Sinners & Strangers by Eilen (pronounced EE-lynn) Jewell.  Her music, described as jazzed-up country-blues-flavored folk, includes “songs that sound born of speakeasies and honky-tonks and train rides.”  Highly recommended.







Book list: Room Read-a-Likes

By , April 11, 2011

Emma Donoghue’s story about five year old Jack escaping from captivity and then having to adjust to the outside world became a surprise runaway [pun?]bestseller last year. Like Room, the following books tell tales long term captives having to adjust to life back to “normal,” or young people with unique perspectives that put them at odds with the world around them.


The Compound by S.A. Bodeen

His Illegal Self by Peter Carey

Me & Emma by Elizabeth Flock

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Lowboy by John Wray


The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America by John Demos

Captive: My Time as a Prisoner of the Taliban by Jere Van Dyk

Popmatic Podcast April 2011

By , April 6, 2011

Lil Wayne - Tha Carter IIIThe team briefly explores the poetry of Lil’ Wayne.

Amanda teaches us how to find great new artists on Freegal. Podcast noob Karen reviews  Mid-August Lunch after which Bill and Bryan can’t help geeking out about their favorite Italian movies.

Check out titles mentioned in this episode:

Body Talk, Pt. 1 – Robyn

Long Island Shores – Mindy Smith

Freegal Music – Emmanuelle Seigner, Glee

Mid August Lunch – Matteo Garrone

Amarcord – Federico Fellini

Suspiria – Dario Argento,  Goblin

Movie alert: Crooked House

By , April 6, 2011

Agatha Christie fans, rejoice!  It was recently announced that her book Crooked House is being made into a major motion picture, to be filmed later this year in London.  This is one of her standalone mysteries (neither Hercule Poirot nor Miss Marple appear), and was purportedly one of Christie’s two favorites of her own books (the other being Ordeal by Innocence).  The screenplay is being written by Julian Fellowes, best known for Gosford Park and the PBS Masterpiece Theatre series Downton Abbey.  While you wait for this new adaptation, try my favorite Agatha Christie movie, 1957′s Witness for the Prosecution.


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