Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Trust. I owned this on a rinky dink cassette tape in the ’80s, when I had no choice but to savor every music choice for whatever it was worth. I got to re-savor it again recently on CD (the old Rykodisc reissue CD from 15 years ago, but still…). Costello fans consider this something of an inconsistent halfway point between the herky jerky r&b of Get Happy!!! and the tortured balladry of Imperial Bedroom. It even contains a few songs, like “Luxenbourg,” that I mistakenly took as Get Happy!!! tracks. Stylistically the album is still all over the map, but honestly this one contains some of my favorite E.C. material — compositions as clever and melodic as he’s ever been. “New Lace Sleeves” is one of them:
By the way, Columbia records dropped the ball on the singles issued from this album, opting to release the pleasant “Watch Your Step” in the U.S. (where it bombed) over the superior U.K. single “Clubland.”
Crazy Love (2007). Slickly made, engrossing documentary about a supremely odd couple. The saga of Burt and Linda Pugach began in the late ’50s, when a spurned Burt went psycho and flung acid in Linda’s face. She got nearly blinded, he landed in jail, and that should have been the end of it — except they eventually fell in love. This was such a trip, and not just for the saggy, wrinkled faces on the now elderly participants. The Pugachs are flawed, not entirely likable people, but they won me over for proving the old saw that love can bloom from the strangest circumstances.
Planet Terror (2007). I wasn’t expecting too much of the Robert Rodriguez half of Grindhouse, but truthfully the film wound up a cheesy delight — more fun than a bagful of severed testicles, you might say. Despite the novelty of Rose MacGowan’s firearm prosthetic leg, the story itself goes into familiar “zombies on a rampage” territory. Freddy Rodriguez tries too hard to act tough in the lead, but he’s okay. Fake film scratches and a muddy soundtrack add to the enjoyment, and the retro ’80s musical score (also by Rodriguez) couldn’t sound more perfect.
Zack & Miri Make a Porno (2008). Awful “comedy” only proves to me that Kevin Smith is one of the most overrated people in the movie business, along with Judd Apatow (whom Smith apes shamelessly here). This one starts off vulgar, then takes a strange shift in tone to insincere sweetness. Neither approach works, and there aren’t many laughs.