Last Day

I stayed up late packing and scrolling the 'net, and I haven't managed to put myself to bed yet. I leave for the airport in about twelve hours.

Before I left, I wanted to make a few recommendations for those of you with spare time or extra cash on hand in the next few weeks. If you haven't seen/purchased any of these yet, do so:

1. Batman Begins - I know, I know: the hype, the strange Katie Holmes-Tom Cruise thing, the fact that basically all four Batman movies before were terrible (ranging from Tim Burton's mostly uninspired efforts to Joel Schumacher's truly inspired awfulness), you don't like superhero movies, you're afraid it'll be too like Ang Lee's The Hulk (which featured the worst filmmaking decision in recent memory: having Eric Bana wander along in confused angst for a good hour and half in a film that everyone came to in order to see a big green guy smash stuff), you're allergic to ironic camp, etc. Ignore all that. Go see Batman Begins. It's good. It's extraordinarily well acted for its type (special props go to Christian Bale (Newsies, The Machinist), hands down the best Batman ever, and Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later), possibly the most realistic of all comic book villains), it isn't campy, you get to watch Christopher Nolan finds his feet as a director of action movies throughout, and even when the script (David S. Goyer, writer/director of the Blade movies) wavers in direction, Nolan keeps the intensity at the boiling point. And it's fun. Go find out yourself.

2. Mr. and Mrs. Smith - Once again, dear reader, ignore the hype. Forget this whole Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie are-they-or-aren't-they bit. Mr. and Mrs. Smith is thrilling - loads of action, wry humor, smoking-hot chemistry between the leads, Vince Vaugn trying without success to work his way into action films, a showdown in a department store featuring heat-seeking missiles, a car chase in a mini-van, Adam Brody trying without success to be anything but an overly bright neurotic teen, and either Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie to look at, depending on which one seems more your style. This is summer movie season. Turn off your brain, deposit yourself in an air-conditioned theater, and enjoy yourself.

3. Coldplay - X + Y - It's one of those albums that you fall in love with on your seventh listen through, because there's so much sonic glory to listen to you missed how tuggingly emotional it all is. After that, you never tire of it.

4. Better Than Ezra - Before The Robots - Here, they do what they do best: write quirky, anthemic, sometimes almost perfect pop tunes. Much less experimental than How Does Your Garden Grow? (One of the finest pop albums in the past fifteen years - it pushed the envelope for pop music without ever losing its lush, melodic sound or its gripping emotion. It rivals Radiohead's Kid A in terms of being grounbreaking, but no one noticed), rather, it sounds like a smoothing out of their more recent pop offering, Closer. Since you don't own either album, let me put it this way: it is to Closer what Switchfoot's A Beautiful Letdown was to Learning To Breathe.