Friday, May 04, 2007

Whiskey's movie & radio reviews

Whiskey reviews Borat

I first heard of Borat last summer or fall, when actor Sacha Cohen appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Ordinarily, I wouldn't watch even 5 seconds of Leno, but when I caught a glimpse of Cohen I stopped flipping channels -- here was a guy who, before he even spoke a word, I just knew was going to be funny. When they showed a film clip of Borat taking a driving lesson, I could tell this movie had some potential. I missed it at the theaters, but just recently rented and watched the dvd.

For the benefit of the uninformed, I'll briefly summarize the plot: Borat, a boorish, unrefined, socially ignorant tv reporter from the third-world nation of Kazakhstan, embarks on a journey to document the culture and lifestyles of typical Americans. Hilarity ensues.

During several "interviews" with Americans in various walks of life, Borat asks a series of questions, each more offensive than the last, attempting to find "common ground" with his American contacts by revealing his own racist, homophobic and misogynistic attitudes. What I didn't realize until after I had seen the movie and read some reviews, was that these interviews were unscripted, and were conducted with unsuspecting "real people"! (Think of it as "Coming to America" meets "Jackass". Just when I was thinking that the movie runs out of steam about halfway through, I can now appreciate it on an entirely new level!) In this regard, "Borat" is essentially a cinematic equivalent to the now defunct Phil Hendrie radio show, where the talk show guests were fake, and the joke was on the callers.

The funniest scene, for me, was when Borat goes shopping for a car. The salesman discusses the various benefits of Corvettes and Hummers, but Borat is forced to settle on a used ice cream truck. Probably the most memorable scene, one in which Borat and his producer Azamat argue and wrestle in a hotel room, an elevator, and a banquet hall (both of them nude the entire time) would have been more amusing if it wasn't so visually disgusting. It made the "Fat Bastard" scenes from Austin Powers look like a Disney film.

Anyway, if you're looking for a few good laughs, pick up "Borat" from Netflix. I won't say it's worth plunking down 15 bucks to buy the dvd... it wears a little thin after the third or fourth viewing. But I did enjoy it the first couple of times...

Whiskey reviews "Lone Star 92.5"

Something new has hit the FM radio dial in the D-FW market -- a reincarnated version of Clear Channel's KZPS classic rock station on 92.5 FM. I caught wind of it on the Hard Country Radio discussion board on yahoogroups. I'm glad someone brought it up, because otherwise I might have missed it. You see, I gave up on KZPS years ago, around the time I caught them playing songs by U2 and the Talking Heads. Good music? Maybe, but it sure didn't fit my definition of classic rock.

The new KZPS is different than anything I've heard on the airwaves so far. In an attempt to assume the form of the various satellite "channels" on XM and Sirius, KZPS has adopted a radically different format, free of traditional commercial spots between blocks of music. Instead of strings of 30-second commercial spots, each portion of the programming day is "sponsored" by a commercial giant such as Coors Light, Southwest Airlines, AT&T, etc., whose names the dj's mention frequently during breaks in the music. But listeners no longer have to suffer through endless series of inane and annoying commercial spots.

The best part, of special interest to me, is the station's music format. Billing itself as "Lone Star 92.5" the station offers a musical mix of Texas and "outlaw" country along with southern and classic rock. During the first two weeks of programming, I've heard Jerry Jeff Walker, Hank Williams Jr., Charlie Daniels Band, Steve Earle, Robert Earl Keen, the Old 97s, Wilco, Son Volt, the Drams, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Steve Miller Band, the Allman Brothers, Stevie Ray Vaughan, ZZ Top, Tom Petty, the Eagles, the Band, Eric Clapton, and Willie Nelson. In fact, Willie himself provides some short bits that air between the songs, comments like "This is Willie Nelson for Lone Star 92.5. If it sounds like we've stolen your cd collection, maybe you'd better go check!" Yep, I can see that... I'm not that familiar with some of the classic rock stuff they've been playing -- and they could stand to expand their representation of "Texas country" by adding more of the lesser-known artists. And I don't really support the Clear Channel "monopoly of the airwaves" philosophy. But the new KZPS is an inventive concept, and I'll give it a chance -- at least during commercial breaks on KHYI.


np: "Jackass" reruns on MTV

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