Devin Gordon

Stories by Devin Gordon

  • We Regret To Inform You That Radiohead Still Soun

    Music critics are already calling Radiohead's new album, "Hail to the Thief," a return to the straight-ahead guitar rock of the Oxford quintet's early days. It makes me wonder: did I get the wrong CD in the mail? True, "Hail" has a few almost-radio-friendly tracks--like the album-opening "2 ??2 = 5," a mini-symphony that builds to an ecstatic climax, and the dripping-with-dread finale, "A Wolf at the Door." But there's little else to suggest that Radiohead has abandoned the experimental left turn it took after the 1997 classic "OK Computer." Like "Kid A" and "Amnesiac," the two CDs that followed, "Hail" is both dazzling and frustrating; it refuses to give up its secrets even after a dozen listens.Singer Thom Yorke has a gorgeous, yearning voice, but instead of drawing you close, he often uses it to freeze you out. He's always written casually vicious lyrics--"We hope that you choke" from "OK Computer" is a personal favorite--but "Hail to the Thief" seems bent on setting new records...
  • Television: Down To The Wire

    From the perspective of HBO, it's hard to imagine there could be a downside to the endless stream of praise the cable network has received for its fabulous slate of original series. But once all of us in the media were done sucking up to "The Sopranos" and "Six Feet Under" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Sex and the City," no one could stomach the idea of swooning over yet another HBO program--no matter how good it was. Enough was enough. Which might explain why "The Wire," creator David Simon's meticulously authentic cops-and-gangbangers saga set in Baltimore, flew under the radar during its spectacular first season last year. Worse, if you tried to join the show a few episodes late, "The Wire's" chief virtue--its microscopic focus on a single, sprawling case--became its biggest obstacle. You were lost. Now's your chance to get onboard. The second season of "The Wire," which shifts focus from Baltimore's projects to the city's struggling (and smuggling) blue-collar dockworkers,...
  • How A Rank Beginner Captured The Friedmans

    Andrew Jarecki just wanted to do a nice little documentary about clowns. He'd made a fortune selling Moviefone, the company he founded, to AOL in 1999, decided to try filmmaking and thought he'd cut his teeth on something easy. Like birthday-party clowns--a small community he'd noticed in Manhattan. That's how he met David Friedman, the top children's clown in the city. After a visit to Friedman's boyhood home, David emerged from the house shaken but wouldn't explain why. Jarecki soon found out.Needless to say, the nice little clown movie was history. A novice filmmaker had stumbled onto a mercilessly complex drama that, a decade earlier, had made careers and ruined lives. (Hello, and welcome to More Than You Bargained For!) "Every time I thought I had this story figured out--which I did on a hundred occasions--the next day, I'd meet someone new and the truth would shift," says Jarecki, 39. "I had to bring a level of concentration that I'd never used in my life." Friedman trusted...
  • Going From A To B? You Need Cds.

    With music, environment matters. Just like most of us sound better in the shower, some great albums must be heard on a highway for peak effect. Don't ever hit the road without these 10 CDs:The Rolling Stones, 'Exile on Main Street' The best road-trip CD of all time, period. If your speakers don't explode on "Rip This Joint," you're not playing it loud enough.Liz Phair, 'Exile in Guyville' A grrl-power, block-rockin' flip side to the Stones.Bruce Springsteen, 'Nebraska' Not every second's gonna be a party.Iron and Wine, 'The Creek Drank the Cradle' A folk-blues cup of coffee for 9 a.m. in Georgia.R.E.M., 'Document' "That's great, it starts with an earthquake..."Luscious Jackson, 'Fever In, Fever Out' If you and your girl/boy put on this groove-laden CD, make sure there's a Motel 6 nearby.Mary J. Blige, 'No More Drama' Atlanta. Detroit. Houston. Once you hit the city limits, press play.The Beach Boys, 'Pet Sounds' "Surfin' USA" is for the sand. This one's for the interstate.The Shins,...
  • Deconstructing 'Reloaded'

    Now that "The Matrix Reloaded" has been in theaters for a full week, we can put to rest the two least interesting debates about the new movie. Debate No. 1: Will it break the box office record for biggest opening weekend ever? Not quite. Its $135 million total is a 4-day record, but the pure, Friday-to-Sunday title still belongs to "Spider-Man." Debate No. 2: Is it as good as the first movie? No, but how could it have been? These debates are uninteresting because the answers have been apparent all along. "Reloaded" is rated-R, so there's no way it was going to top the PG-13-rated "Spider-Man." And while sequels are occasionally better than the original, none of them ("The Godfather Part II," "The Empire Strikes Back," for example) had such a dazzling existential mystery to live up to.These matters are also dull because they pale in comparison to the movie we did get. "The Matrix Reloaded" is, to me, the most demanding and intellectually fruitful movie of the year so far--a title it...
  • The Dearly Departing

    At the official "Dawson's Creek" chat room on the Web, under a string of posts titled "get a clue people, pacey is WAY better for joey," the gloves are coming off. After six achingly expressive seasons, the WB's teen soap will depart this week with a two-hour finale, during which its writers promise to resolve the love triangle that has propelled the series. Among fans, two camps have sprung up. There are the idealistic "D/Jers" who believe Joey, played by Katie Holmes, is destined to end up with her first love, Dawson, played by James Van Der Beek. (After all, it is his creek.) On the other side are the "P/Jers," who think she belongs with bad boy Pacey, played by Joshua Jackson. First, the P/J position, as summarized by Web fan Twkltoes1213: "I used to be a d/j but not anymore. [D]id anyone notice how selfish dawson is about joey?" And the case for Dawson, from run4peach: "Pacey is a gutless punk. He is almost like Satan." After that one, the posts start to get nasty.By most...
  • How To Build A Ballclub

    The first time that Brant Colamarino, a 23-year-old first baseman from the University of Pittsburgh, took off his shirt in an Oakland Athletics minor- league clubhouse, he flashed something that would've made the other 29 franchises in major-league baseball happy that they'd never even considered drafting him. Colamarino, his coaches noticed, had breasts. He was fat. To those 29 teams, it didn't matter that Colamarino tore up college pitching. He simply didn't look the part. Only the man who drafted him, Oakland's uncannily successful general manager, Billy Beane, seemed to grasp that being fat has nothing to do with hitting a baseball. It should be obvious. After all, what's the one thing we all know about the game's most famous slugger? Babe Ruth: fat. But if you read Michael Lewis's new book about Beane, "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game"--and anyone who cares about baseball must read it--you'll quickly learn that the major leagues aren't so swift.The reason baseball...
  • Q&Amp;A: 'There Were No Easy Shots'

    The writing and directing team behind "The Matrix," Larry and Andy Wachowski, have made four films in their short career--and Bill Pope has served as their cinematographer on every one of them. It's a match made in heaven.Pope got his start serving on "Spider-Man" director Sam Raimi's early cult classics "Darkman" (1990) and "Army of Darkness" (1993)--a pair of stylishly outrageous action movies that, like the "Matrix" saga, draw heavily from the visual conventions of comic books. When Pope and the Wachowskis teamed up for the brothers' first film, the 1996 lesbian film-noir "Bound," the three men found that they spoke an almost identical visual language. After shooting all three "Matrix" movies, Pope is currently working with his original boss, Raimi, on the "Spider-Man" sequel due out in the summer of 2004. During his brief rest between blockbusters, the gifted cinematographer sat down in Los Angeles for an exclusive interview with NEWSWEEK's Devin Gordon.NEWSWEEK: Where do the ...
  • Q&Amp;A: The Matrix Look

    You know you're working on a seriously big movie when filming goes on long enough for one of the crew members to give birth twice.Between the start of preliminary work on the "Matrix" sequels in early 2000 and the completion of principle photography in August 2002, costume designer Kym Barrett delivered two children--as well as several hundred outfits for use in "Reloaded" and "Revolutions." Her chosen style for the films--sleek, elegant, timeless--has become one of fans' most cherished aspects of the "Matrix" universe. It has also sparked scores of imitators. You think "Alias's" Jennifer Garner would be kicking butt in vinyl pants if Barrett hadn't paved the way? The Australian costume designer sat down in Los Angeles for an exclusive interview with NEWSWEEK's Devin Gordon.NEWSWEEK: How would you describe the "Matrix" look?Kym Barrett: I'm not a fashion person. I don't go to catwalk shows. And I don't go through fashion magazines because I don't want to be influenced one way or...
  • Newsmakers

    Make MP3s, Not WarIf you were be-ginning to think Sheryl Crow's no war guitar strap was the only peep of protest from today's pop stars, take heart: they are taking a stand--in cyberspace. R.E.M., Lenny Kravitz, the Beastie Boys and former Rage Against the Machine frontman Zach de la Rocha (didn't think he'd sit this out, did you?) have all put songs online. The downloads cost nothing. Trouble is, like so many things on the Web, that's what most of them are worth.De la Rocha's "March of Death," a tag team with DJ Shadow, is a hookless mess, and the rapper's imagery is interchangeable with that of every song Rage ever recorded. Doesn't de la Rocha realize that he discredits his causes by treating them all the same? Lyrically, R.E.M.'s "The Final Straw" can be stirring--"Look me in the eye and tell me why"--but the band's acoustic strumming is so ponderous you won't listen to it twice. Only Kravitz seems to understand that protest is embedded in the very nature of rock and roll, so...
  • Beware Of Greeks Bearing Big Fat Sitcoms

    My Big Fat Greek Life," the TV phase of creator and star Nia Vardalos's campaign to take over American pop culture, makes one significant change from the movie. Yes, John Corbett, who played the husband in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," has been replaced by Steven Eckholdt--but I said "significant." Even John Tesh could play the husband. The significant change is that our heroine's name has been switched from Toula to Nia. Which (see above) is Vardalos's first name. In the business, folks, this is called branding, and it's CBS's effort to catapult the actress into the realm of comics like Ray Romano and Jerry Seinfeld. Big fat Greek chance. If the movie was comfort food--familiar, not too spicy, easy to swallow--then the TV series is the stale leftovers."My Big Fat Greek Life," whose debut last week was greeted by 22.7 million depressingly eager viewers, falls apart on a pretty basic level: it isn't funny. The writing is so retrograde that the mere mention of sex often passes for a...
  • Remembering Ken Auchincloss

    From the other end of the telephone line, it sounded like a party was raging at Ken Auchincloss's home on Tuesday night. I could hear laughter and loud voices.The scotch was flowing--Macallan, one of his favorites--and cigars were turning to ash. In about 15 minutes, Ken's son Malcolm told me, the whole family planned to gather around the TV to watch "24," the show where Kiefer Sutherland saves the world. Ken hated missing an episode, but he would've hated even more the idea of loved ones missing it on his behalf. After all, he'd insist, there was nothing wrong with them.Well, nothing and everything. About three hours earlier, Ken Auchincloss--father of two, beloved husband, NEWSWEEK legend and dear friend to me and countless others--died after 65 of the richest, most life-affirming years a human being could possibly enjoy. He had been waging a brave and stubborn battle against liver cancer for two years--brave in that he never once allowed the disease to change who he was, and...
  • Mother Superior

    Frances Conroy's house in Los Angeles has become known throughout the local cat community as the place to go when you're down on your luck. Tom, a striking black tomcat, wandered over eight months ago, starving. "He was just this bony little thing running through the yard," says the 49-year-old star of HBO's hit drama series "Six Feet Under." "It was so depressing. Now he's fat and follows me everywhere." Nicky, another stray, is FIV-positive, but so far she's doing fine. There's also Blue, and Alice, and Homer and... out of curiosity, just how many cats are we talking about? Conroy laughs. "Well, I have a little tribe. I should leave it at that," she says, clearly worried that several million NEWSWEEK readers will begin to wonder about her. "Some of them are friends that just eat and leave." It's worth noting that, aside from her husband, Jan, there are no other humans in the Conroy household. No kids. If that's surprising, given her spot-on portrayal of Ruth, the matriarch of the...
  • Survivor: Kandahar

    The moment in "Profiles From the Front Lines"--ABC's new reality show about U.S. forces in Afghanistan--when I realized I wasn't cut out for combat was the moment in which members of the 82nd Airborne Division board their flight from Fort Bragg, N.C., to Kandahar. As 200 soldiers packed into this double-wide transport plane, I thought to myself, "Boy, those seats look really uncomfortable." Once they reach Afghanistan, it only gets worse. If you're like me--a wuss--you'll find it hard not to admire the insane lifestyle these soldiers adopt on our behalf, no matter how often "Profiles" looks and sounds like a top-dollar war propaganda effort.This intoxicating show, from slam-bang action-movie producer Jerry Bruckheimer, is the first network attempt to run the "Survivor" playbook with a worthy subject. (Its co-executive producer is NEWSWEEK contributing photographer David Hume Kennerly.) "Profiles" doesn't pretend to be a journalistic venture--the triumphal music, teary backstories...
  • All-Too-True Love

    The best movie of the last 20 years about young people in love is 1989's "Say Anything... ," and even that one blows it in the end. Lloyd and Diane board a plane together and move to England, where they... what? Live happily ever after? How often does that happen when you're 18? At the risk of giving away the outcome of "All the Real Girls," 27-year-old David Gordon Green's memorable new film, this time the two young people behave the way young people actually behave.Set in the tiniest of towns in western North Carolina, "All the Real Girls" tells the story of Paul (played by co-writer Paul Schneider), a decent guy whose life to date can be measured in beer cans and female conquests, and his brief, life-changing romance with Noel (Zooey Deschanel), his best buddy Tip's little sister. In Hollywood, the best-buddy angle would surely build into a crisis. But in Green's film, which cost just $1 million to make and plays with the naturalistic grace of Terrence Malick, it's just a scuffle...
  • Advertising: The Perks Of A Hostile Work Environm

    Since making his acquaintance with America two weeks ago, 6-foot-7, 330-pound actor Lester Speight--a.k.a. Terry Tate, a.k.a. the Office Linebacker, a.k.a. the really big dude who pancakes unsuspecting Dilberts in that Reebok ad--has become a star. The hilarious campaign, which debuted during the Super Bowl, is about a company that hires Tate to pummel employees whenever they dawdle after lunch or forget to put a cover sheet on faxes. After the game, fans overran Reebok's Web site, hoping to rewatch it. (A new spot aired during "American Idol" last week.) Part of the ads' appeal is that Tate's tackles look so real. That's because they are. "I can testify from personal experience that he's actually hitting people," says Micky Pant, Reebok's chief marketing officer, who got clocked by Speight at the company's global conference last fall. "He hit me so hard I was bleeding."So who is this guy? Sadly, PERI's attempts to talk to Speight, who also performs under the name "the Mighty Rasta,...
  • Abe Lincoln, Teen Geek

    Life at Clone High wouldn't be so bad for 16-year-old Abraham Lincoln if JFK, the captain of the football team, wasn't always bullying him with that silly Boston accent. Or if Cleopatra would give him so much as a second glance. Or if his best friend, Gandhi, would just shut up for five seconds. Growing up isn't easy when you've been cloned from the DNA of a former president. Abe can barely work up the guts to run for class president. He has this odd feeling it would end badly. Wonder where that comes from."Clone High USA," the brainchild of Dartmouth graduates Phil Lord, 27, and Chris Miller, 26, is the latest animated-series bull's-eye from MTV, the original home of "Beavis and Butt-head" and "Celebrity Deathmatch." If "Clone High" (Mondays, 10:30 p.m., ET) isn't as consistently funny as these now legendary predecessors, the show makes up for it with its subversive incongruities and its knowing take on high-school life. While Abe (voiced by "Saturday Night Live's" Will Forte)...
  • Where Credit Is Due

    I hated "Spider-Man." The cornball script, the lame special effects, Willem Dafoe--all of it. What irked me the most about "Spider-Man," though, was how much everyone else seemed to love it.Ordinarily, I'D stick to my guns. I've always rejected the old saw that a million people can't be wrong. But 70 million? Hmm. I'm pretty sure that 70 million people cannot, in fact, be wrong. So why don't we compromise? If "Spider-Man" wasn't terrible, it was, at the very least, overrated. (Fifth biggest movie of all time? Come on.) In fact, let's play the overrated/underrated game. So far, you've got my pick for the most overrated movie of the year. I owe you an underrated pick, which I'll save for the end, all dramaticlike, so you'll run right out and buy the DVD. In between, here are a few more for the year 2002.TELEVISION DRAMANormally I don't begrudge anyone their cult obsessions. But this drably written, woodenly acted show gets an Emmy nomination every darn year for best drama series, and...
  • Newsmakers

    Once Upon a Time in Park CityOne of the best films at this year's Sundance Festival is about a dwarf who digs trains, and stars Peter Dinklage, whom you've never heard of. One of the worst stars Macaulay Culkin. That's Sundance. On the one hand, there's the festival Robert Redford intended: 10 days of indie films with you-couldn't-drag-me-to-it premises, some of which turn out to be good. But then there's the Sundance that Hollywood stars use to hone--or manufacture--their edge. This year, A-listers like Al Pacino and Salma Hayek turned Main Street of Park City, Utah, into a red carpet. They dressed down in designer parkas, but their parties were VIP-only. One fan even tried scaling a wall to get into a Fox Searchlight bash.But the films made the nonsense worthwhile. Almost. The dwarf movie ("The Station Agent") snagged a $1.5 million deal from Miramax. Other winners: the wickedly funny "Pieces of April," about a dysfunctional family's Thanksgiving; "American Splendor," a biopic...
  • Say Goodbye To Hollywood

    Call me a geek, but within a day of arriving in town for the Sundance Film Festival, I found the perfect formula for enjoying myself: skip the parties, stick to the movies.This year's festival, which ends this Sunday in Park City, Utah, was my first, and I quickly learned that there are actually two Sundances. There is the Sundance scene, which turns Park City's sloped, charming Main Street into a giant red carpet--not unlike the gala arrival area at the Oscars, only instead of Gaultier gowns and Armani suits, the celebrities slum it in the finest parkas and snow boots that money can buy.It's all part of the faux egalitarianism of the place. Not only do the big-name attendees (this year's crew included Alec Baldwin, Salma Hayek, Al Pacino, Kevin Spacey and Katie Holmes) dress like "normal people," they come to town on behalf of tiny movies with no budgets, like regular actors. But don't think you'll be getting into their parties.Then there's the other Sundance, the one that festival...
  • Music: Money For Nothing

    Did you purchase a CD at any point between Jan. 1, 1995, and Dec. 22, 2000? If the answer is yes--and it really should be--congratulations! You are entitled to up to $20, absolutely free. (If the answer is no, listen, you need to let go of the eight-tracks. Now.) Just by being a normal consumer, you were unwittingly one of millions of plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against the five major record companies and a handful of national retail chains which were on trial for illegally fixing the prices of compact discs. And guess what? You won! Actually, the lawsuit, brought by 41 state attorneys general, was settled out of court by the defendants last September to avoid a lengthy battle. The terms: they will pay $143 million in punitive damages. This is where you come in. Anyone who meets a three-part criteria--which essentially boils down to the question up top--is entitled to a chunk of the loot. Anyone. Even dead people. No joke. You can file on their behalf. (Visit...
  • The Matrix Makers

    One Year, Two Sequels--And A Revolution In Moviemaking. An Exclusive Look Behind The Scenes Of 2003'S Hottest Flicks.
  • I Love My Car

    Oh, the things a "tuner" would love to do to your car... They know what you think of that Honda Civic in your driveway. Safe. Practical. Fuel-efficient. "This car," you think, "was a smart purchase." Here's what tuners dream about when they see your little Civic. First, they'd rip out those boring, no-color seats and put in some contoured racing buckets. They'd tear off the front and rear bumpers and replace them with a body kit--a much more intricately styled trimming designed to get it as low-looking to the ground as possible. The doors would look smooth because of the missing door handles--yup, they shaved them off. And how about some neon? No, lots of neon. Neon trim on the seats. Neon runners on the undercarriage. Neon rings on the exhaust pipes. You bought that Civic used for, what, $6,000? Give a tuner two years and he'll spend three times that turning your economy car into the ultimate street machine.Five years ago the tuner circuit was just an urban subculture, a clique of...
  • Confessions Of An Outrageous Mind

    Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman refuses to sit for photographs, and of course interviewers ask him why. When NEWSWEEK put the question to him at lunch last month, he started out by grumbling that his explanation--which he thinks is pretty reasonable--never gets into the story, forcing readers to conclude that he's either weird or disfigured. (He's neither.) So here you go, Charlie, the floor is yours. "The big thing is, I'm just not a public person. I'm a writer. I'm shy. I don't want to see my face plastered anywhere." Kaufman never imagined this would be an issue, even after "Being John Malkovich" got an Oscar nomination in 2000 for best screenplay. In Hollywood, who cares what the screenwriter looks like? And Kaufman never thought journalists would be writing about him. Now that they have, he wishes they hadn't. "People want to paint me in a very specific way," he says. "A nebbish. Socially awkward. That seems to be the thing. You go, 'OK, I get this guy, he's the nerd who made good...
  • Don't Whack 'The Sopranos' Just Yet

    If you're wondering what went wrong-well, a little bit wrong-with "The Sopranos" this season, the best place to start is actually last season and with a character whom fans of the show have come to call "the Russian."The Russian was a key player in the third season's best episode, "The Pine Barrens," in which Christopher (Michael Imperioli) and Paulie (Tony Sirico) allow a murderous Russian mafioso, whom they tried and failed to kill, to escape into the icy back woods of South Jersey. Chris and Paulie spend the episode tramping through snow and freezing their butts off, trying in vain to find the Russian. They succeed only in getting themselves lost. The Russian hasn't been heard from since. Among fans, he has loomed like a bogeyman--but he shouldn't. He's gone. He's not coming back.One of the many marvelous things about "The Sopranos" is the way mistakes don't always come back to haunt its characters--kind of like real life. Sometimes, we just we get away with things. Sometimes,...
  • Britain's Cat In The Hat

    Damon Gough, a.k.a. Badly Drawn Boy, is going to get this song right if it kills him. He's started and stopped three times so far, and he'll start and stop 12 more if that's what it takes. So what if there are 1,000 people watching him? There's a screeching buzz in his ear--sound problems, apparently--and it's not going away. "I'm sorry," he tells the crowd at Manhattan's Roseland Ballroom, "but this is the most important song off the new record." It is mid-October and Gough's third CD, "Have You Fed the Fish?" doesn't come out for a month. His fans are hearing the new material for the first time, so the sound problems are driving Gough to the brink of a snit. "I promise you," says the squat, shaggy 32-year-old in a blue knit cap, "this is one of the top five songs ever written"--pause--"by Badly Drawn Boy."On take No. 5, Gough finally nails it, and it's worth the wait. "You Were Right," a galloping, bittersweet confessional, really is one of the top five songs ever written by Badly...
  • Winner By A Mile

    All the people who've ever met Brittany Murphy most likely have one thing in common: they have all been hugged by Brittany Murphy. Over the course of an hour-and-a-half conversation in the lobby of Manhattan's Mercer Hotel, she issues 11 hugs, an average of one every eight minutes. The recipients, in chronological order, include: (1) a Hollywood talent agent; (4) Curtis Hanson, who directed Murphy's new film "8 Mile" and was having lunch next door; (6) actress Naomi Watts ("The Ring"), who's staying at the hotel; (7) Aussie heartthrob Heath Ledger, who's staying with Naomi; (9) a hotel employee, and (10) the author of this piece--twice. Ordinarily, being 10th in line might make a person feel kind of cheap. But Murphy is an uncommonly good hugger. She does full wingspan, plus a light, chummy squeeze. None of that awkward, one-armed crap. You may be No. 10, but you'll feel like four.On the big screen, Murphy, who turns 25 next week, has built a career on similar feats of alchemy....
  • 'Jackass' Nation

    I first met Johnny Knoxville two years ago, about a month before "Jackass"--the hilariously masochistic show that would make him both famous and infamous--premiered on MTV. It was clear to me from the moment we sat down that Knoxville was going to be a huge star. He wasn't macho or self-serious like most daredevils. He was a sweet-natured goofball.The stunt that got Knoxville the MTV gig featured him strapping on a Kevlar vest and shooting himself in the torso with a pistol. (Ironically, it never aired on the network. Even Knoxville thought it unwise.) During my interview, I asked him about the experience. So did it hurt? "Not really. The vest actually displaced the impact really well," he said. "It was like someone hitting you in the chest with a shovel as hard they can." Uh, wouldn't that hurt? Knoxville paused. "Hmm. Good point."The other noteworthy thing I remember about Knoxville is how unfailingly polite he was. Four years into my NEWSWEEK career, he is still the only profile...
  • Mere Words Can't Describe Sigur Ros

    In the annals of pretentious album titles, the latest CD by the critically revered Icelandic band Sigur Ros sets a new--and perhaps insurmountable--benchmark. Until now the champ was probably Fiona Apple, whose second CD had as its title a 90-word allegorical poem about chess or something. But at least she used actual words. Sigur Ros is a high-minded, genre-busting group, known for eight-minute songs that build to ecstatic climaxes, but that's no excuse for naming their album this: "( )." Yup, those are parentheses. So what does it mean? Who knows? Maybe it's a joke, a really funny Icelandic knee-slapper that just doesn't translate, but I doubt it. The four men of Sigur Ros (which means "Victory Rose") have never been the funny-ha-ha type. After all, the new album--which, parentheses be damned, I'm calling "The New Album"--has eight songs, and all of them are untitled. No, these guys are serious.This sort of nonsense might fly in Reykjavik, but it's forgivable here only if the...
  • Ultrahigh Resolution

    Ever notice how videos on MTV these days kinda stink? Good ones are still getting made--just not here. Europe is where it's at right now. Case in point: the British trio Dirty Vegas's "Days Go By," in which a man drops a boombox on a nameless city street and begins b-boying like he just stepped out of "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo." MTV eventually caught on, but the video wasn't seen in America until it premiered last year at RESFEST, a four-day traveling carnival of the world's most inventive short films. The top draw at RESFEST, which hits New York on Oct. 16 and visits Los Angeles starting Oct. 30, is "Cinema Electronica," a two-hour parade of the year's coolest new music videos. The 2002 roster will feature a Chemical Brothers clip by director Michel Gondry (who did an MTV-award winner for the White Stripes) and a DJ Shadow clip by Hong Kong auteur Wong Karwai ("In the Mood for Love"). But according to RESFEST director Jonathan Wells, this year's "Days Go By" will be FC Kahuna...
  • Newsmakers

    'Les Miz' Bows OutThey're ripping down the barricades at "Les Miserables," and even Broadway insiders are shocked. After all, "Les Miz" was the sturdiest of Broadway hits, a show that not only managed to make the French Revolution entertaining but over the years employed the likes of Debbie Gibson and Ricky Martin. Producer Cameron Mackintosh, who announced that the musical is throwing in its red flag for good on March 15, 2003, says "Les Miz" was especially hurt by slower ticket sales after September 11. But the fact is those dour British megamusicals aren't as much fun in the era of feel-good Hollywood-inspired shows like "Hairspray," "Thoroughly Modern Millie" and "The Producers." With the death of "Les Miz"--after 16 years, second to "Cats" in Broadway longevity--only "Phantom of the Opera" is still standing. "The British invasion was probably overemphasized when it was happening, and its demise will be as well," says Jed Bernstein, president of the American League of Theatres...
  • A Spanking Good Role

    So James Spader is starring in a weird, kinky sex movie? You don't say. What a stretch. The 42-year-old actor has made a career out of carnal deviance, most famously in 1989's "sex, lies and videotape" and most notoriously in the 1996 cars-and-copulation fantasy "Crash." In "Secretary" (review) the fetish du jour is S&M, but the office romance in question is so unexpectedly sweet it feels unlike anything Spader has done before. "The two of them seemed so innocent to me," says the actor. "[Grey] is really struggling away at life to no avail. And I just liked seeing someone taken so by surprise by love."Like the movie, Spader himself defies expectation. On screen, he's usually playing Yuppie scum. In life, he's more like a soccer dad. Spader is intensely private and so far out of the Hollywood loop he lives in Massachusetts. It has been years since his name was on everyone's--or anyone's--lips, partly because he's landed himself in some terrible movies like the sci-fi dud ...