Album Review: Jim Breuer and the Loud & Rowdy “Songs From The Garage”

“Songs From The Garage”
Jim Breuer and the Loud & Rowdy
Metal Blade Records
Producer: Rob Caggiano
Tracks: 11

Our score: 2 out of 5 stars

Accomplished comedian Jim Breuer has been mixing his love of heavy metal into his stand up acts for years. Be it through real life stories, impersonations and even adding a live band to portions of his comedy shows. “Songs From The Garage” is the debut music album from the actor/comedian who was a staple on “Saturday Night Live” during the late 90’s. Produced by former Anthrax and current Volbeat guitarist Rob Caggiano the album features 11 tracks which combine in your face guitars and drums with Breuer’s off kilter comedic stylings.

From his portrayal of “Goat Boy” on SNL to his role as the lovable stoner Brian in “Half Baked” Jim Breuer’s comedy is something that I have grown up with so, when I heard he was going to put out an album of actual metal music I couldn’t wait to check it out. Sadly what I found on the albums 11 tracks was a mediocre comedy album with a band playing your typical 80’s style metal in the back ground. There really was just nothing spectacular here. Not even a guest appearance by long time AC/DC front man Brian Johnson on the track “Mr. Rock n Roll” could turn this around for me. Knowing Jim’s love of heavy music and the fact that his backing band consists of Mike Tichy, Joe Vigliotti and Metal Mike Chlasciak (all great players) the two just didn’t mesh well and came off as stale and forced. Aside from a few fun titles like “Raising Teenage Girls” and “Be a Dick 2nite” I just couldn’t find anything that I would listen to more than once.

When a performer crosses mediums it can go one of two ways, either really well or in the case of “Songs From the Garage” really bad. I appreciate the attempt that Breuer and company made on the record however I was torn between the mix of comedic tracks and those that were more serious as it caused me to question the direction of the album. Was it meant to be a serious attempt at a metal record or just another comedy record with musical elements? I think the album would have come off as way more cohesive if that common element was defined clearly. Yes I understand Jim Breuer is a comedian so there will undoubtedly be comedic elements to his works but, knowing his level of musical fandom especially when it comes to rock and heavy metal music it makes me question why he did this the way he did.

Track Listing:
1.) Thrash
2.) Raising Teenage Girls
3.) Old School
4.) Be a Dick 2nite
5.) My Rock n Roll Dream
6.) Mr. Rock n Roll
7.) Who’s Better Than Us?!
8.) Family Warrior
9.) Sugar Rush
10.) Wannabe
11.) The Unexplained

Blu-ray Review “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”

Directed by: Stephen Daldry
Starring: Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Thomas Horn, Viola Davis, Max von Sydow
Distributed by: Warner Home Video
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release Date: March 27, 2012
Running Time: 129 minutes

Film: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The events of 9/11 is a very strong subject matter for film. Being a New Yorker myself, it is a little hard to stomach it, even after over 10 years. This film does a great job of focusing on the events of 9/11, without being too much in your face. “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” packs a really strong performances from Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. Thomas Horn definitely has a bright future in his cards for sure. Max von Sydow ,who won an Oscar for his role, didn’t even speak a word in this film and was phenomenal. You will find yourself trying to hold back your emotions but it is simply not possible. I was really blown away by this film. It is simply fantastic and really delivers constantly throughout the entire film.

The story follows eleven year-old Oskar Schell (Horn), who tries to deal with the events of 9/11 and the lose of his father a year after the events of World Trade Center. He finds a key belonging to his father and sets off on a mission to solve the mystery of what lock the key will open. As Oskar begins to uncover links to the father, he meets The Renter aka Max von Sydow who helps him in his search through the five New York boroughs.

The Blu-ray presentation is very impressive with its 1080p transfer. It looks really sharp and really pulls you into New York during one of its hardest times. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track works so amazing with the films score and works so well with Max von Sydow scenes, even without dialogue. This release includes the Blu-ray, as well as a DVD copy of the fil. If you are a fan of digital copies, this release comes with my new favorite feature UltraViolet digital streaming copy.

The special features are impressive though they are missing an commentary tracks from cast/crew. there is a 20 minute behind the scenes feature called “Making Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” which follows cast/crew on the film’s production. “Finding Oskar” talks about the casting process for Thomas Horn. “Ten Years Later” focuses on a man named Daniel McGinley. He died in the towers during 9/11 but his legacy lives in this feature, very moving. The best feature on the Blu-ray is “Max von Sydow: Dialogues with The Renter”, which runs about 45 minutes. Especially since von Sydow’s performances is so amazing, this is great insight to his work on the film.

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Synopsis: Adapted from the acclaimed bestseller by Jonathan Safran Foer, “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” is a story that unfolds from inside the young mind of Oskar Schell, an inventive eleven year-old New Yorker whose discovery of a key in his deceased father’s belongings sets him off on an urgent search across the city for the lock it will open. A year after his father died in the World Trade Center on what Oskar calls “The Worst Day,” he is determined to keep his vital connection to the man who playfully cajoled him into confronting his wildest fears. Now, as Oskar crosses the five New York boroughs in quest of the missing lock — encountering an eclectic assortment of people who are each survivors in their own way — he begins to uncover unseen links to the father he misses, to the mother who seems so far away from him and to the whole noisy, dangerous, discombobulating world around him.

Film Review “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”

Starring: Thomas Horn, Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks
Directed by: Stephen Daldry
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 2 hours 9 mins
Warner Brothers

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Oskar Schell got out of school early that day. He went home and saw several messages on the family answering machine. Turning on the television he is puzzled by the images of the burning buildings on screen. It was Tuesday, September 11, 2001. To Oskar, it was “the worst day.”

Featuring the greatest performance by a young actor since Haley Joel Osment saw dead people in “The Sixth Sense,” “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” is the story of a boy whose love for his father continues to grow, even after he’s gone.

Thomas Schell (Hanks, mostly in flashbacks) is a dreamer. His father left the family when Thomas was a boy and, in spite of his dreams, Thomas became a jeweler to take care of his family. Married to Linda (Bullock), Thomas sees his dreams come true in the guise of his son, Oskar (Horn). The two have oxymoron battles (Jumbo Shrimp takes down Original Copies) and share adventures. Oskar is quiet and shy so Thomas devises what he calls “Reconnaissance Expeditions,” knowing they will get Oskar out of the house and talking to people. Currently Oskar is searching clues for the lost 6th Borough of New York, rumored to have floated away years ago. The search seems to end when Thomas dies. But when Thomas finds a mysterious key in his father’s belongings, a new search begins.

Director Daldry has made three feature films – “Billy Elliot,” “The Hours” and “The Reader.” For each of these films he has been nominated for an Academy Award. Not a bad record. His work here is truly deserving of nomination number four. The film is both exciting and heart breaking. Oskar embarks on his journeys wearing a pair of his dad’s shoes, clomping through New York City with determination. Fearing public transportation (and pretty much everything else in the world), Oskar walks the city, trying desperately to find the lock that the key opens. He explains that, were the sun to explode, those of us on earth wouldn’t know for eight minutes, because that’s how long it would take the light to travel. Oskar wants another eight minutes with Thomas and he’ll walk around the world to get them.

The film works totally thanks to the performance of young Horn, who at age 12 won $31,000 as the champion of “Kid Jeopardy.” The work is truly award worthy, though with this year’s crop of great acting performances I fear young Horn will get lost in the Oscar shuffle. Hanks and Bullock are both strong in what are really supporting roles, as are Broadway greats Viola Davis and Jeffrey Wright. Another stand out performance belongs to 82 year old Oscar winner Max Van Sydow, who plays a man known only as The Renter. Mute by choice, Van Sydow says more with his face then some actors say with their whole body, giving a wordless performance that rivals that of “The Artist’s” Jean Dujardin.