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  CONSUMABLES: X2, RADIOHEAD, ZWAN AND WOODY ALLEN'S WORST MOVIE.  
   
   
   
 

WEEKEND UPDATE
After I got over my debilitating crush, I realized that Tina Fey is actually the weak link on the only consistently funny bit Saturday Night Live does these days. At first, her spunk (and those glasses) suggested that rare commodity -- an attractive, funny comedienne who didn't have to play second fiddle to the boys. But she's let the attention get to her head. Too often, she's preachy and self-righteous -- she actually thinks we want to do something other than laugh along with her at midnight. Which is why Jimmy Fallon is still worth defending. He's bound to stumble over that thin line into eternally unfunny Hollywood wannabe eventually, but for now his utter callowness makes each news update utterly hysterical. I feel the need to point out how subtle and terrific he is in this role so that history will record this crucial moment before he turns into a total schmuck. A-

STEPHEN MALKMUS & THE JICKS, LIVE AT THE EL REY, APRIL 29
More Replacements songs than Pavement songs, and if he wants to, well, what can we do? Like labelmates Yo La Tengo, Malkmus is Indie, Inc. -- he's mastered the look, sound, and attitude. With nothing to prove, his solo career has been one long, lazy, lovely victory lap. And the sold-out crowd did their part, exhibiting the sort of reverence and unquestioned loyalty usually associated with a Hall-of-Fame induction ceremony. But the honored guest wasn't interested in nostalgia, even if his recent material suggests he's destined for the bench while the young phenoms steal his playing time. But, still, casual command, easy rapport, a tower of melodies. He shoulda been bigger than Beck. B+

X2: X-MEN UNITED, DIRECTED BY BRYAN SINGER
Diverting, entertaining, fun, a little junky. Singer doesn't have a style as much as he knows what he likes -- Star Wars, Star Trek II, the creepy chick from The Ring. You either get impressed that he was able to make a comic book movie with a little resonance or you shake your head at how much more meaningful and moving this story really could have been. Not that anybody cares what you or I think -- it's well on its way to $200 million. B

RADIOHEAD "THERE THERE"
Nobody does brooding apocalyptic dread as well as these guys -- and so they do it one more time on this pre-album release. Ever since "OK Computer" forever changed the world and his place in it, Thom Yorke has opted mostly for an impressionistic vagueness to his lyrics and singing. From the clatter of guitars to his mournful moaning, everything works toward the same goal: starin' hard into the abyss. It's a shame the one-time greatest band in the universe abandoned the brilliant this-is-your-life-now snapshots of "OK" for this more abstract artfulness. I mean, a whole album of this murk can't sustain itself -- did they learn nothing from "Amnesiac"? But on a case-by-case basis, their songs can still bring the menace. A-

SEAN PAUL "GET BUSY"
The first three times I heard this radio-ready adrenaline rush, I was happy that Shaggy was already back with a new single. The next three times, I realized it wasn't Shaggy but that didn't matter -- who cared if a human being created this song or not? The next three times, I was determined to make out the lyrics. Fifty times later, I still couldn't figure any of it out. And now? I tell myself that Paul's disposable ditty is actively rotting my brain. But I really want to hear it again. Right now. A-

MS. DYNAMITE "A LITTLE DEEPER"
With a name like that and an album title like this, you're forgiven if you think she's one more R&B hottie only into herself and what she can do in bed. Turns out she's much more than that. Sure, she should stay away from reggae and Santana ripoffs. But even when she sings her own praises on the big hit, "Dy-Na-Mi-Tee," she's nothing but charming. Not since the Fugees has a female soul singer sounded this confident without tripping into arrogance. She doesn't write the music or work the boards and yet she doesn't feel too slick or overproduced. She knows how to sing her words and sound fresh fresh fresh. Don't ask if it'll last. Enjoy this one for what it is. B+

ZWAN "MARY STAR OF THE SEA"
Who needs a happy Billy Corgan? B-

 

 
 

GOOD THINGS.

STONE READER, DIRECTED BY MARK MOSKOWITZ
A miracle, but not just of luck, good timing, and determination -- all the great documentaries have these in common. Moskowitz's quest for the novelist he adores, a man who had one hell of a literary debut and then vanished, has all the earmarks of the sort of earnest, "personal" filmmaking that means well but barely entertains. Instead, here is a moving meditation of a painfully normal guy with no pretensions -- just the passion for the book that changed his life. Movie and music junkies have gotten their due over their years, but bookworms are often stigmatized, dismissed as introverted loners or worse. Moskowitz has an honest enthusiasm that's noble, brave, and deeply poignant. His earnestness leads him to be cutesy at times -- his home-movie style is going to rub some people the wrong way. But these types of quibbles are what make life worth living. There is much discussion in the film that some authors only one have story to tell, and when it's over they're done. This is certainly true of Moskowitz, but his tale is for all time. A

 

BAD THINGS.

WHAT'S UP, TIGER LILY?, DIRECTED BY WOODY ALLEN AND SENKICHI TANIGUCHI
This little-seen curiosity is screaming proof that there are worse Woody Allen flicks than September. Unlike Zelig begetting Forrest Gump, or Sleeper begetting Austin Powers, this piece of juvenile tediousness is far inferior to its spiritual children, Beavis and Butt-Head and MST3K. Whatever his abilities as a standup comedian, Woody was a born filmmaker. Not recently, of course, but you know what I mean. D+

SUPERGRASS "LIFE ON OTHER PLANETS"
British psychedelia has bitten the dust. Dreaming of "Tomorrow Never Knows," this long-running trio drowns in druggy nonchalance, retro handclaps, and tons o' attitude. As everybody from the Verve to Super Furry Animals has proven, too much technical wankery leaves you with aesthetic boredom. There are some hooks here -- even a song or two I like -- but most of the time, I close my eyes and fantasize about Le Tigre kicking the crap out of them. Or the Wu-Tang Clan. Hell, maybe even Norah Jones. C

 
 

 

Want more?

CONSUMABLES FOR APRIL 29: SONIC YOUTH, ICE CUBE, YO LA TENGO, A MIGHTY WIND & MORE.

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*BT*

Tim Grierson is an editor of The Simon, a weekly online publication of culture, politics, and humor.