Live Free or Die Is Shit Hot Funny

lfod.jpgThere’s nothing like seeing your town on the big screen, and for many in attendance at the “Live Free Or Die” premiere tonight at the Claremont Cinema, that was the only draw. It isn’t a film for all tastes, and the old-timers sat patiently through moref F-bombs in 90 minutes than they’d probably heard in their entire lives.

All for a glimpse of Shirley’s Donut Shop – now that’s what I call dedication.

The film’s profanity certainly shocked a few people, but that’s the way a guy like fast-talking loser John “Rugged” Rudgate would operate. It’s to the credit of Greg Kavet and Andy Robin , who wrote and directed “Live Free Or Die,” that they didn’t flinch when creating him. Played perfectly by Aaron Stanford (“The Hills Have Eyes”), small-time criminal Rugged blusters with nearly every breath as he plots low-margin scams and pays his rent with ill-gotten state liquor store rebate checks. All the while, a real crime wave grows around him in a parallel universe; it’s a neighborhood Rugged will, of course, ultimately stumble into – and at just the wrong time.

Stanford’s good, but it’s Paul Schneider (“Family Stone,” “Elizabethtown”) who quietly steals scene after scene as Rugged’s reluctant sidekick, the dimwitted Lagrand. Schneider helps give the film a “Napoleon Dynamite” meets “Blood Simple” charm. It has the Coen Brothers’ sensibilities, but without the wood chipper that turned happy-go-lucky “Fargo” into Midwestern Gothic.

Contributions from top-notch character actors like Judah Friedlander (“American Splendor”), who has a memorable turn as a foul-mouthed hardware store owner, and Ultimate Fight Club wannabe Alex Gazaniga, played with equal parts stupid and sinister by Ebon Moss-Bachrach (“Mona Lisa Smile”), could well lift “Live Free or Die” from a cult sensation (it won Best Narrative at the last years SXSW) to a solid smash on a par with “Clerks” or “Garden State.” The writing’s certainly good enough, and the performances are dead-on.

I only wish Zooey Deschanel (“Elf,” “Failure to Launch”) had gotten more on-screen time as Cheryl, Lagrand’s sister and apparently the only competent adult in the fictional town of Rutland who isn’t a police officer. On that last note, there were plenty of Claremonters in Monday’s crowd chortling hard at THAT bit of dramatic license.

What I’m ultimately saying is that you should go see “Live Free or Die” when it opens in Claremont, Lebanon, Concord and Portsmouth this weekend – and not because it was filmed in Claremont, New Hampshire. Hell, I’d hate for this film to be the only reference point for people who don’t live here.

See it because it’s a shit hot funny movie.

Clinton DMCA Architect’s Mea Culpa

geist.jpgLeave it to Canada to bring some clarity to the ongoing U.S. copyright debate. McGill University in Montreal hosted a “Digital Dystopia” seminar last week. The money quote swirling around the Internets is, of course, Bruce Lehman’s – “I’m afraid our Clinton Administration policies didn’t work out very well,” said the architect of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Ironically, he prefaced that statement with the hope that his remarks “won’t be quoted in the American press” – guess he isn’t as tech-savvy as he’d like to think.

Lehman said, “I think at least with regard to music, I believe that we are in, if not entering the post-copyright era.” He also observed that in the pre-copyright era of Mozart and Beethoven, patronage made the arts possible, but artists themselves were quite undervalued. Now, of course, the Internet has made musical performers paramount, and they now have more control their own destinies. But like Springsteen today, Mozart had to tour to make the really big bucks.

“In the absence of copyright,” said Lehman, “there will be a new form of patronage for industries that require music for their business.” Lehman went on to observe that the policy failures weren’t the fault of consumers as much as it was the industry’s failure to adapt to emerging technologies:

We’re going that way because people have lost respect for the copyright laws. But I don’t just blame college students and teenagers for this. I blame the moguls in the music industry, because had they been thinking about these business models when we were doing our work in 1994 in the Clinton Administration, had they been working on effective online distribution models when the Internet first came into business … perhaps we would not be in the situation that we are. But the culture of that industry was such that those people were concerned with developing artists and public taste. They weren’t interested in technology – minions did that.

Michael Geist has a nice summary on his blog, and he also delivers an effective riposte to Lehman and Canadian Patent Trademark Office representative Ann Chidowitz, who is a much more strident defender of the old order:

When our security researchers spend a third of their time talking to lawyers about what they can and cannot say I think you’ve got a problem. I think you’ve got a problem when someone like Felton (a Princeton security researcher) knew about Sony’s rootkit problem [for] months” before it became public in a blog.

Geist talks about the many ways this stifles innovation. “It’s the untold stories of the DMCA that are the most harmful,” he says.

Check out the entire 3 hours on Google Video.

Today’s Free Download – Marnie Stern

In Advance of the Broken Arm

If this song’s title is true, then I’m truly bummed – I can barely understand what Marnie Stern is singing. But “Every Single Line Means Something” is punchy, aggressive pop, a three minute and forty second tantrum that gets more addictive with every listen.

Marnie’s got Rage Against The Machine’s slash-and-burn guitar ethics, paired with an updated Lene Lovich hiccuping vocal style. The short strum/slap guitar bridge mid-song is hypnotic. It’s like getting thrown in a cauldron and getting bitch slapped by the girl you thought you were making points with.

Download “Every Single Line Means Something” (mp3)
from “In Advance of the Broken Arm”
by Marnie Stern
Kill Rock Stars

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