Song of the Day #2,172: ‘Less Than Zero’ – Elvis Costello

costello_uselessMy desert island countdown continues (see Monday’s post for the full explanation).

Desert Island Musical Artists – #2 – Elvis Costello

Costello would be a strong candidate if I could bring only one musical artist to my desert island, because his discography has spanned so many genres.

Punk, country, rock, pop, folk, classical, easy listening, jazz, funk — he’s a one-man record store. And I could spend many a moonlit night trying to dig out the meanings in his kaleidoscopic lyrics.

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Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen has written and directed 44 feature films over the past 45 years, a streak that would be amazing even if all of those films sucked.

They don’t, of course. I consider five of them flat-out masterpieces (I’ll let you speculate as to which five in the comments). Another dozen or so are various degrees of excellent, and five or ten others are various degrees of good to great.

In a sense, Allen is not just a filmmaker but a genre unto himself. And as genres go, he’s one of my very favorites.

However, the new millennium hasn’t been very kind to Woody Allen. Following a nice one-two punch with 1999’s Sweet and Lowdown and 2000’s Small Time Crooks, he released a string of mediocre, forgettable films — starting off with a duo that represent the nadir of his career to date, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion and Hollywood Ending.

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Vicky Cristina Barcelona

vickyTo say Vicky Cristina Barcelona is Woody Allen’s best film in years is damning it with faint praise. His record has been so spotty of late (I’m not a fan of the overrated Match Point) that a minor success winds up as a Golden Globe winner for Best Comedy.

And Barcelona is indeed a minor success. It is well-acted and beautiful to look at, but feels over-written in the way Allen’s more serious films can be. He doesn’t spend enough time making fun of the upper-class intellectualism on display here, especially as exemplified by Rebecca Hall’s Vicky.

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