Shot out, bored stiff

Public Enemies is a film that seems to have everything going for it. There’s an estimable cast, boasting the likes of Johnny Depp, Christian Bale and Marion Cotillard. There’s a quality director in Michael Mann. There’s even a dynamic subject—John Dillinger. But this promise is wasted on a straightforward retelling that feels less like vibrant cinema and more like a super-charged History Channel special.

Unsure, we quirkily go

Is it just me or have we all gotten a lot quirkier lately? Certainly the last few years of pseudo-independent cinema have, what with Little Miss Sunshine, Juno and their overbearing, over-written ilk dominating the scene.

The art of selling sex

Steven Soderbergh’s newest film, The Girlfriend Experience, may be plotted around the sex trade and feature noted porn starlet Sasha Gray in the lead role, but it’s not about sex as much as it’s about power.

Long live (the) Melvins

Twenty-five years after getting their start in Aberdeen, Wash., the band that has basically defined heavy, independent rock is still riffing away, weirding people out and continuing to put on one of the most consistent live shows in the business.

Making beats with Sapient

At this point, everyone knows about Sandpeople. It’d be hard not to. Portland’s hip-hop mega-group has been putting out a steady stream of quality records and worthy performances for the past few years. And chances are, if you’ve ever nodded your head to a Sandpeople record, you’ve nodded your head to beat by Sapient.

Pretty, vacant

If there were a class called Making Boring and Pretentious Films 101, Jim Jarmusch would surely be its teacher. And his newest film, The Limits of Control , would be the first item assigned for viewing. Watching this film is like doing homework but with none of the payoff.

Workin’ for the Weekend

Here’s a hard truth for you: 75 percent of all modern indie rock bands sound exactly like Pavement, except they’re either a little tighter, or a little sloppier.

Not just an American pastime

There’s something at the heart of modern American baseball that is deeply troubling and deeply American. What once was a game—enjoyable, simple—is now a valuable commodity, encouraging whole economies to be built around a pastime.

From the mumbled bedroom

For a new age of popsters—usually with the prefix “indie” attached—the central space for creation has moved. It’s no longer a rehearsal space, or a studio—it’s at home.

Lots of claws, many flaws

Just to be clear, I don’t expect summer blockbusters to be “art”. As long as they entertain me, and do so with efficient purpose, I’ll go along for the ride. That said, the truth about X-Men Origins: Wolverine is that it’s awful. The movie takes the worst part of the comic book movie form and amplifies it, making you feel stupider for having wasted your time.