The Doors Acoustic? Yep. It Actually Works


All Wood and Doors

Beachwood Recordings B004VMX65Y


Skepticism doesn’t even begin to describe my initial feelings about this project. Let’s see, let’s take a dozen classics from The Doors and let two folk music veterans cover them—two guys known for their guitar picking no less. Those who remember The Doors will recall it wasn’t a guitar-based ensemble; Robby Krieger played bass more than lead and the band’s distinctive melodies were built around Ray Manzarek’s organ riffs. “It can’t possibly work,” thought I. Wrong! It’s a very fine piece of work and another confirmation that if you’re going to mess with iconic stuff, take it to the limit. Neither Stanley nor Eberhardt seek to channel Jim Morrison, even though Krieger and John Densmore guest on several tracks, as do well-know folks such as Peter Tork (The Monkees), Timothy Schmidt (The Eagles), and Paul Barrere (Little Feat). If anything, a lot of the covers and harmonies evoke a slightly trippier version of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Nothing here is quite as you’d anticipate. “Break on Through” has underlying Motown soul peeking through, “Love Me Two Times” feels like a country song, and “Light My Fire” is dreamy and slow. “Crystal Ship” as a folk ballad? Who would have imagined? Crisp guitar licks—mostly done on the “wood” of the album’s title—round out this thoughtful release. It’s way more than just another tribute album; this is a considered rethinking of The Doors—a fresh coat of varnish if you will.

Somewhere Goes Nowhere and Takes Forever to Get There

Somewhere (2010)

Directed and Written by Sofia Coppola

American Zoetrope, 98 mins. Rated R


Sofia Coppola’s fourth feature film, Somewhere, won a Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival. From this one can only conclude that the judges spoke no English. The appeal of Sofia Coppola escapes me entirely. Her reputation rests on being the offspring of a real director, Francis Ford Coppola, and for the hype given to a single highly overrated film, Lost in Translation (2003). The latter was so enhanced by Bill Murray’s droll performance that many reviewers were blinded by a script as lightweight as gossamer. It seems like an anvil compared to the inconsequential boredom of Somewhere, a film that goes nowhere--slowly.

Pay attention to the opening sequence of Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) driving his expensive black Ferrari in circles. It lasts about three minutes and then Marco parks and steps out of the car. End of sequence. Pay attention because that’s absolutely riveting stuff compared to the rest of the film. (It’s also supposed to foreshadow something weighty, though it doesn’t.) Marco, it seems, is a disaffected Hollywood superstar. When he breaks his arm in a fall, he suddenly becomes aware that life in Hollywood is shallow. (Imagine!) Marco has become the kind of guy who falls asleep watching a private pole dance or whilst administering oral sex, and we’re to conclude that ennui, not painkillers, is to blame. So what will make Johnny Marco a whole man again? Why reconnecting with Cleo (Elle Fanning), the eleven-year-old daughter he had with his ex-wife. The latter has a mysterious (contrived?) mental collapse that forces Marco to take temporary custody of Cleo.

Because Johnny is a big star and has commitments he must honor, Cleo goes on tour with him. Insofar as I can tell, most of the film’s $8 million budget was blown on the Italian sojourn part of the road trip. Too bad; Coppola could have used some of the dough to hire a real scriptwriter. Here’s the film’s revelation, which I give away because I don’t want you to spend your time watching it: Johnny discovers that being a father is what’s missing in his life. He doesn’t want to have sex with any of the bare-breasted women who throw themselves at him. He couldn’t care less about the flash, fame, and fine food that surrounds him. He’d rather duck into an old church with Cleo. (Well who wouldn’t, eh?) That’s it--the whole film….

What the hell is this, a Hollywood version of a Family Values Epiphany? (I doubt that the Christian Right is watching.) Okay, fine, Johnny reconnects with his daughter. I’m sure this happens, though I suspect that most out-of-control thirty-seven-year-olds seek wisdom from mentors older than eleven. Somewhere isn’t as unrelentingly awful as Marie Antoinette (2006), Coppola’s previous film, but only because it didn’t have the budget to be as extravagant in its vacuity. Will someone please tell Coppola that she’s forty now and needs to make movies would more depth than the MTV videos she used to make. It’s also time to stop riding the old man’s coattails. I can’t escape the feeling that if her last name was Prole she’s the sort who would have earned a C in filmmaking at some second-rate arts college. Remove its accreditation if she gets above an F in scriptwriting.

Postscript: Apparently the public agrees with me. This film earned less than $2 million in its American and European release. It has made costs thanks to video residuals, but let me urge you again to avoid it lest you inadvertently encourage Sofia Coppola to make another feature.