So I went to a Lana Del Rey concert…


Due to strange circumstances that I won’t go into, I found myself at a Lana Del Rey concert last night. I had never heard a Lana Del Rey song, so I went in a blank slate. So what did I think?

Lana Del Rey’s voice is very appealing and she obviously has a real connection with her fans. Based on one live listen, some of her songs are quite good, some not. She is over-reliant on profanity, which struck me not as edgy but as juvenile.

You could often tell when she wanted to do a song and when she didn’t. After a listless performance of “Born to Die,” I noted to my companion that she seemed uncomfortable on stage (more on that in a second), at which point he informed me that she is a big introvert. I later noted during another song (I don’t know which) that she seemed to really be enjoying herself, and right after she ended, she said she still really liked singing that one. It showed.

And, yes, she really did not seem comfortable on stage.  Partially because of this, the concert never developed the momentum a great concert has–it was a bunch of disconnected songs rather than a show. It left me with the impression that she would have been much better served by a smaller venue. Arenas are tough to play.

None of this was at all helped by her reliance on backing tracks. She was singing, and the guitar, bassist, and drummer were playing. But they were all performing to loads of pre-programmed backing tracks. There were “backup singers,” but their mics obviously weren’t on. At one point they were “singing” with their backs to the microphones!

None of this seemed necessary. I’ve seen much smaller shows with a similar vibe (Ronnie Spector, for example) with a great band and great backup singers. She surely has a big enough budget to hire some musicians and singers. As someone not familiar with her work but definitely familiar with live music, it left me a little puzzled as to why she went the prerecorded route.

But I did love that voice, and a few songs. I’ll dig into her catalog a bit, see if she’s for me in recorded form.


Movie review: The Cloverfield Paradox


I liked Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane. I was interested in seeing what came next. I did.

The Cloverfield Paradox is deadly dull. Like waiting in the doctor’s office for the entire length, but there aren’t even old magazines to distract you and your phone is dead.

This is one of those cases where the blog post is just a movie-watching diary entry. I saw it. It was awful. I have no interest in spending time writing even a perfunctory analysis of it. I have spent too much time with it already.



Movie review: Ex Machina (2014)


Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), a young programmer, wins a contest to spend a week at the estate of Nathan (Oscar Isaac), a tech genius who has developed an artificially intelligent robot named Ava (Alicia Vikander). Caleb’s job is to interact with Ava to determine if she passes the Turing test and is truly conscious.

Ex Machina stretches an hour’s worth of plot into a feature-length film. The running time is only 1:48, which is short by today’s unfortunate standards, but it felt much longer. It’s essentially a big-budget “Twilight Zone” episode, but I doubt many people will watch it multiple times like they might with the best episodes of that classic show. Still, it is worth watching once both for the ideas presented on the subject of artificial intelligence and for some impressive visuals.