Dizzy Heights #46: Never, Ever, Always, and Forever

The idea comes from an old joke that an ex-girlfriend made long ago: “We should never use the words ‘never,’ ‘ever,’ ‘always,’ or ‘forever’ when describing us.” She was not wrong, but from the ashes of that (spectacularly) failed relationship comes this show, and over half of my defunct Mope Like Me column, so at least something good came from it.

Artists making their Dizzy Heights debuts this week: The Assembly, The Association, Shirley Bassey, The Buzzcocks, Aretha Franklin, Deborah Harry & Iggy Pop, Raphael Saadiq, The Stranglers, Walter Meego, and my cat Harvey! He hops up at the 1:05:55 mark.

Thank you, as always, for listening.

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Movie Review: The Meg

“The Meg” plays like a film written by someone who just finished watching a three-day Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer marathon, and when you consider that the book on which the film is based was written in 1997, it’s entirely possible that that is exactly what happened. The film languished in development hell for over two decades, and it’s easy to see why; it’s just not as interesting as other works of art, be they books or movies, written around the same time.

Here’s the kicker, though: the script has undergone a substantial rewrite – it bears little resemblance to the original story – and it still feels like a ‘90s film. Twenty years of development, and no one could get this story into the present?

Navy diver Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) is saving crew members of a downed sub at the bottom of the Philippine Trench when the sub is attacked by a massive creature. Faced with the possibility of everyone dying, Jonas does the unthinkable and leaves two members of his crew behind in order to save the 11 people they had moved to the rescue ship. Five years later, Jonas is drinking his life away in Thailand, haunted by the memory of those he left behind (and the subsequent smear campaign he endured), when he is approached by old friend Mac (Cliff Curtis) and Dr. Minway Zhang (Winston Chao), who work on a state-of-the-art marine facility off the coast of China. The group had recently discovered that the Mariana Trench has a false floor, and as they explored what lay beneath, their deep sea vessel, piloted by Jonas’ ex-wife Jaxx (Ruby Rose), has also been attacked and grounded. Jaxx’s last message before losing contact confirms Jonas’ long-held, and widely derided, fears: a giant megalodon shark, long considered extinct, is alive and well, and terrorizing the deep.

The biggest strike the film has going against it is the tone of the source material. “Meg” the book is a horror story. “Meg” the film is directed by Jon Turteltaub, who made his bones helming “While You Were Sleeping” and the “National Treasure” movies. There is a clear disconnect between book and film, and yet the studio was right to move away from the story’s horror leanings and go for something lighter. If anything, they didn’t go far enough towards the funny. “Armageddon” was a film about the end of the world, and yet it was loaded with jokes. “The Meg” is absolutely begging for levity, yet it never comes at the right time or in the right dosage.

Even if the funny parts were funnier, though, the recycled nature of the supporting characters, in addition to the awkwardness of the story structure (I felt sorry for BingBing Li during her meet cute with Statham), is enough to do the film in. There’s the heavy-set funny guy, whose character name on IMDb is literally The Wall (see: Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Twister”). There’s the cowardly asshole billionaire benefactor (see: too many movies to mention). There’s the African-American who refuses to play by the old movie rules (see: LL Cool J in “Deep Blue Sea”). There’s the short-haired female tech expert that everyone takes for granted (see: Anne Heche’s assistant Rachel in “Volcano”). Very little original thought is taking place here.

There are some legitimately thrilling moments here (the view from the diver’s point of view will make people jump), and the damage the shark does to a boat makes the destruction of the Orca in “Jaws” look like child’s play. But it’s just not enough, in any way. Not scary enough, not funny enough, not original enough. The worst part is that the timing was finally right for a movie like “The Meg.” For it to turn out like this is just crushing.

(2 / 5)
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Dizzy Heights #45: The Alliteration Show

No talkie bits this week. First day of school for the kids, birthday celebrations, picking the boy up at camp, blah blah blah.

This idea is definitely a one-shot thing, at least in its current form. I went after song titles that were two words, each starting with the same letter. And I went A to Z, almost literally (with apologies to the letters Q and X). Of course, I broke my own rules twice, when I used a song with an ampersand (hey, it was the letter U, I got desperate), and in one instance, I used a title that was the same word twice, which is not alliteration but repetition (again, letter Y, got desperate).

Multiple people asked me to use “Disco Duck.” And believe me, I thought about it, then thought better of it.

Artists making their Dizzy Heights debut this week: Ben Folds (solo), Burning Sensations, Elvis Costello (WHAT), The Go-Betweens, The Go-Go’s, Guided by Voices, k.d. lang, The Kinks (this cannot be happening), Neurotic Outsiders, Stone Poneys, Tasmin Archer, and Tom Petty. Seriously, thank goodness for Tom Petty, or I don’t have a ‘Z’ song.

Bands coming back for another tour of duty: Basement Jaxx, Franz Ferdinand, The Housemartins, The Jezabels, Joe Jackson, Pet Shop Boys, Propaganda, The Rolling Stones, Squeeze, The Ting Tings, The Trashcan Sinatras, and Tribe. Speaking of Tribe, I pull a segue that my 1993 self would high-five.

Thank you, as always, for listening.

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Dizzy Heights #44: ‘Blue’ Songs, Vol. I

This was originally supposed to be one show featuring songs with colors in the title, but about 600 suggestions later, it was clear that the colors needed to be split up into their own shows, and even then there is enough material to do multiple shows of the primary colors, and maybe the secondary ones as well.

I chose to start with blue so I can play a song from Tom Bailey’s solo album Science Fiction that stabbed my inner lovestruck teenager in the heart. From there, I went, well, everywhere, but there is a thread of melancholy that goes nearly from start to finish. Blue is more than just a color, I guess.

Artists making their Dizzy Heights debut this week: Billy Idol (wait, what?), The Charlatans, David Gilmour, Electric Light Orchestra, Fine Young Cannibals, Gus, Michael Johnson, Peter Murphy, Real Life (wait, WHAT?), The Smithereens (I have no words), The Undertones, and Yaz (even fewer words).

Thank you, as always, for listening.

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