There's no question Spielberg is starting to face his own mortality, and Minority Report has an undeniable momentum, but the director flinches at the end.
We May Be Losers, Just Like the U.S. Team, but We've Come Further Than Anyone Expected
1. World Cup Soccer:
If everybody was still doing blow, like in 1979, those 4:30 a.m. games would be HUGE.

2. Apocalypse Now Redux: Now making its way onto cable, Francis Ford Coppola’s masterwork is even more riveting in its elongated form, with Robert Duvall’s crazed surf sergeant given additional screen time. The opening segment is mesmerizing, with The Doors intoning “The End,” as a napalmed forest bursts into flame, leading into the whirling fan above a wasted Martin Sheen in a Saigon hotel room, “waiting for a mission to be sent to me like room service.” That sets the tone for this psychedelic view of war, which has influenced every subsequent battle film from Platoon to the recent Black Hawk Down. They don’t make ’em like this anymore.

3. Frank Sinatra, In Hollywood (1940-1964) (Rhino box): Now this is impressive, even for Rhino—six discs collecting everything Sinatra recorded for films, 160 tracks in all, only 10% of them previously available on record. Props to producers Didier Deutsch and Charles Granata and a host of other contributors on this massive reclamation project. Now, where should we start, Reveille With Beverly or Johnny Concho?

4. N.Y. Times Mets Forum: (New York Times on the Web): A bulletin board for long-suffering Mets rooters to commiserate with one another about the nerve-jangling, manic-depressive roller-coaster ride that always ends in misery, especially this year, when new additions Vaughn, Alomar, Burnitz and Cedeno spit in the face of the baseball gods (OK, Alomar only) with their worst seasons ever. Join the morose multitudes of Mets maniacs calling for the heads of GM Steve Phillips and manager Bobby Valentine.

5. Hipsters are allowed to like Sheryl Crow: Who says so? The Village Voice says so, that’s who. Yup, right there in the latest ish of the ultimate arbiter of what is hip below 14th St., writer Jane Dark points to Crow’s consistency, calls her the best country singer in rock and opines that the recent C’mon, C’mon (A&M) is her best yet, “almost perfect,” she says. Guess we’ll have to find a new guilty pleasure now.

6. Scrubs-a-Thon (NBC): We told you to check out this smart, edgy hospital comedy last week, only to discover that NBC is conveniently scheduling five episodes in a row next Tuesday night. TiVo or tape them, so you’ll have something to watch when things get really slow.

7. Drinking alone at home/Crying into a towel behind your couch: Does everyone a favor by keeping you off the road after that 12th tequila, while allowing you to vent all that pent-up sorrow without making a scene in public. And it's safe behind the couch. So very safe. Keep a bucket handy.

8. Trader Joe’s: Speaking of spirits, this is the cheapest place in SoCal to buy wine and booze. In fact, apart from high-end meat and produce, you can pretty much do your entire marketing there. Check out the frozen onion soup, a recent addition—yum.

9. Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections (Farrar, Straus & Giroux): Whaddaya mean, you haven’t finished it yet? Was it too long? Too dense with daunting detail? Too heavy for your liddle lap? Get over yourself and dive into the most compelling fictional look at American family relationships since The World According to Garp in 1978.

10. Fear Factor (NBC): Marc Pollack’s favorite show. Nuff said. Monday (gag) at 8.

It was a late night/early morning full of defeat, with Brazil beating England 2-1 and Germany beating the U.S. 1-0. For the U.S., it caps off a great run, the first time in over 60 years that they've made it this far in the World Cup. They really held their own in this 2002 FIFA World Cup of Soccer, and now the question is which U.S. players who play in the MLS will be packing their bags to play for a European league. Early reports have 20-year-old phenom Landon Donovan returning to Germany after this year's season. With over a million viewers in L.A. alone watching the U.S. vs. Mexico game on Sunday, it looks like soccer might have finally established itself in the eyes of the TV and marketing mavens.
          But the World Cup is far from over. Brazil maintains its powerhouse reputation, impressing many watching at bars/home this morning with an incredible 30-foot kick for goal. There are two more games left in the quarterfinals of the World Cup: Spain vs. South Korea at 11:30 p.m. PDT and Senegal vs. Turkey tomorrow morning at 4:30. ESPN2 and ABC are scheduled to carry the games; check your local schedule for the time. South Korea and Senegal have turned out to be dark horses in this entire World Cup, and both look strong enough to make it to the next round. Korea will have their hands full with Spain, but they've got the drive and just might pull off another upset. I'm taking Senegal over Turkey, as their speed, strength and have-no-fear attitude on the field have enabled them to run circles around all their opponents so far. And they have a Ju-Ju man.
          The final four will be decided by the time everyone in the U.S. is having breakfast tomorrow, with Brazil and Germany leading the way so far. Germany will play the winner of the Spain-South Korea game on June 25 at 4:30 a.m.; Brazil will play the winner of Senegal-Turkey on the 26th, also at 4:30. —Hanna Bolte

Minority Report
(Fox/DreamWorks): Although it lacks A.I.’s mythic sprawl, Steven Spielberg’s latest adventure in sci-fi has a more traditionally coherent noir narrative that should please audiences put off by his previous effort. The film, based on a Philip K. Dick short story about a trio of underwater soothsaying “Precogs” (for precognition) who can predict when a murder will occur for a Pre-Crime Unit which then prevents it from happening, shares many of the same concerns as his Kubrick homage. Free will vs. determinism, the difference between the way things appear and what’s really going on inside, the loss of a child, sacrificing freedom for security are all topics addressed by the movie, which has echoes of films from Blade Runner, The Matrix and Clockwork Orange to  potboilers like The Eyes of Laura Mars and, yeah, last year's Vanilla Sky.
          Both Spielberg and star Tom Cruise, who plays the commissioner of Washington, DC’s vaunted Pre-Crime Unit, seem to have been influenced from their experiences working with Kubrick. The previously Pollyanna-ish Spielberg now relishes exploring the grungier aspects of the future, with plenty of low-life drug dealers, creepy eyeball-replacement surgeons, retina-scanning spiders and even some hints of sexual deviancy. There are at least a couple of scintillating action sequences, including one in which Cruise plays Froggy on the side of a skyscraper with vehicles that defy gravity and a chase featuring airborne policeman in battery packs. The film’s dreamlike look (kudos to Spielberg's longtime cinematographer Janusz Kaminiski) incorporates an icy, slate-blue monochromatic haze as if it’s being shot underwear (immersion in amniotic liquids is a recurring image), adding to the otherworldly feel. 
          The plot revolves around Cruise, driven to drug addiction by the kidnapping of his young son, being pursued by his own colleagues for a murder he will supposedly commit as he tries to figure out who’s setting him up. The underrated superstar offers his own brand of quiet intensity to the role, putting real flesh and blood on what could've easily been a video-game cartoon character. The supporting cast features sharply detailed character actors like Ingmar Bergman veteran Max von Sydow as Cruise’s father figure and the founder of the Pre-Crime unit. A skinheaded Samantha Morton (Sweet and Lowdown) expresses the film's horror and anguish as the most attuned of the Precogs, while Colin Farrell is an oily federal agent who wants to take over the Pre-Crime Unit. Peter Stormare is a psycho eye surgeon, Lois Smith a memorably wiggy botanist who originally developed the Precogs and O Brother’s Tim Blake Nelson an organ-pounding caretaker for the pre-murderers, kept in deep freeze with halos around their heads. There’s even an unbilled cameo by Cameron Crowe
          There's no question Spielberg is starting to face his own mortality, and Minority Report has an undeniable momentum, but the director flinches at the end. Instead of an ambiguously dark Dick ending, Spielberg opts for an affirmation of free will in the face of overwhelming destiny. Where A.I. left us with the sentimentalized perfect dream of a parent-child reunion, while acknowledging its impossibility, Minority Report suggests a similar rebirth that feels like an attempt at a traditional Hollywood ending. Though, given what has come before, it is anything but a feel-good finale. Roy Trakin

Hey, kids, now I know for sure that retro sounds are selling, cuz I read it in The Wall Street Journal, which last week spotlighted the latest albums from several of the artists listed below. Now, as a record reviewer, I’m used to talking up this kind of stuff, but I’m definitely not used to it being perceived as commercial, so it is with some trepidation that I offer this midyear compilation—I don’t wanna jinx what’s going on at retail. The other thing is, this may be the most mainstream collection I’ve put together since the last time my taste coincided with the popular taste, which was not only before CDs but before cassettes. Chances are it won’t last, but this modest neoclassic phenomenon is the most positive thing happening right now in a fractured and beleaguered marketplace. For your archival convenience, I’ve followed each title in the sequence below with one or more of its apparent antecedents. By the way, this resolutely lighthearted mix (Neil Finn and Tom Waits excepted) was designed for use in the car and on the Precor Elliptical Cross-trainer. Bud Scoppa

Do the Lighten Up
1. The Vines, “Sunshinin”:
The Beatles’ “Daytripper” meets The Cars’ first album.
2. Elvis Costello, “Tear Off Your Own Head (It’s a Doll’s Revolution)”: Could’ve been an outtake from 1978’s This Year’s Model.
3. Sheryl Crow, “Steve McQueen”: Insanely clever throwback rocker whose “Whoo-whoo” payoff is quintessential Steve Miller.
4. Cornershop, “Lessons Learned From Rocky 1 to Rocky 3”: Imagine Jesus of Cool-era Nick Lowe fronting Bachman-Turner Overdrive.
5. Hives, “Hate to Say I Told You So”: Does for the Kinks’ “All Day and All of the Night” what Van Halen did for “You Really Got Me.”
6. Jay Bennett & Edward Burch, “C.T.M.”: This springy rocker wonderfully evokes Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers circa 1978.
7. Doves, “There Goes the Fear”: The insistent beat on the 16ths is pure U2.
8. Pete Yorn, “Undercover”: Recently cut contribution to the Spider-Man soundtrack suggests that he’s assimilating his influences.
9. Moby, “We Are All Made of Stars”: On this self-sung slice of mystic pizza, this Eno acolyte is unequivocally Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy
10. Bryan Ferry, “Goddess of Love": Eno’s aboard, but the Roxy Music this track conjures up is the latter-day band of Flesh & Blood.
11. Elvis Costello, “45”: This multileveled, metaphor-loaded three-and-a-half-minute autobiography is a sparkling return to form.
12. Sheryl Crow, “Soak Up the Sun”: Like Katrina & the Waves’ “Walking on Sunshine,” a worthy inheritor of the Beach Boys’ summer-anthem legacy.
13. Bennett & Burch, “Puzzle Heart”: A kitchen-sink extravaganza that pulls together Byrds, Burritos, Badfinger and Love’s Forever Changes.
14. The Vines, “Mary Jane”: Here the young Aussies channel the John Lennon of “No. 9 Dream.”
15. Doves, “Words”: I’m picking up echoes of “Tomorrow Never Knows” from Revolver.
16. Neil Finn, “Driving Me Mad”: Lovely, exotic song is a duel with desire along the lines of the Crowded House classic “Into Temptation.”
17. Dirty Vegas, “Days Go By” (acoustic): Omigod, it’s Simply Red.
18. Tom Waits, “Alice”: The return of midcentury West Coast cool, with a vocal as gravel-free as anything he’s done since he was on Asylum back in the day.
19. Elvis Costello & the Attractions, “No Action”: Opener from This Year’s Model included for perspective’s sake, and because at 2:01 it’s short enough to fit on the disc.

David Bowie, Heathen (Columbia):
The man of many guises tries on some of them, starting with the Low-like ambience of “Sunday” (and its post-Sept. 11 lyric, “It’s the beginning of the end/And nothing has changed/And everything has changed”). “Slip Away” recalls the cosmic grandeur of “Moonage Daydream,” while the searing Pete Townshend guitar solo on the single “Slow Burn” boasts the rock-operatic reach of Diamond Dogs. The album also contains three well-chosen covers: the Pixies’ “Cactus,” Neil Young’s “I’ve Been Waiting for You” and the Legendary Stardust Cowboy’s “Space Oddity”-like “I Took a Trip on a Gemini Spaceship”). Reuniting with Tony Visconti, who produced most of his 1970s classics, Bowie proves even a futurist must sometimes look back, turning his label bow into a moving musical autobiography. —RT

The Joel Plaskett Emergency, Down at the Khyber (Brobdingnagian Records):
God, do I feel like a mega-geek rock critic, writing a blurb about the new indie solo disc by the guy who used to be in Thrush Hermit. But Canadian singer/songwriter Plaskett’s trio has made one of those freaky, eclectic, flat-out inspired records that’s bound to make a lot of best-of-2002 lists. I knew I was in love by the kickin’ chorus of the title track, which opens this scarily assured effort. Limning organic pop-rock in the Big Star and Rundgren mode (“There’s Love in the Air,” “Waiting to Be Discovered,” the irresistible “True Patriot Love”), XTC-esque introspection (“Clueless Wonder”) and spaced-out, twangadelic ballads reminiscent of Gram Parsons and Neil Young at their most bereft (the wrenching, divine “Blinding Light,” “Light of the Moon”), Plaskett is tough to pin down overall. As a whole, Down recalls the spooky, shape-shifting vibe-rock of Wilco, Flaming Lips and even the Meat Puppets, as well as the aforementioned early-’70s hookfests, where big power chords are always tinged with pot smoke and melancholy. Not for everyone, to be sure. But for the ones it’s for, a potential compulsion. Simon Glickman

Sunshine State
(Sony Pictures Classic):
Maverick director John Sayles is back with this comedy-drama about two Florida women struggling for their independence. In a small beachfront town, rival developers vie to try to buy up all the property from people who’ve lived there for years. Infomercial actress Desiree (Angela Bassett) returns home after 15 years, where she hopes to make peace with a stern mother, who has taken her late nephew’s troubled son under her wing. The cast includes The SopranosEdie Falco in what is apparently an Oscar-worthy performance as a once-aspiring actress who now runs a motel-restaurant eyed by the developers, Mary Steenburgen, NYPD Blue’s Gordon Clapp, Timothy Hutton, Miguel Ferrer and Ralph Waite. The film’s themes revolve around accepting or denying the past, and the merits of redevelopment. Like most Sayles movies, it sounds both a little pedantic and talky, but advance word says the performances rule. The original soundtrack from the motion picture, on Daring/Rounder Records, features a typically eclectic mix of tracks from Lucinda Williams, Jim Lauderdale, Lynyrd Skynryd, Kitty Wells and the original score by Mason Daring.

Juwanna Mann (WB): Some Like It Hot meets Tootsie meets the WNBA as Miguel Nunez Jr. (veteran of Eddie Murphy movies Nutty Professor II and Life; he was Little Richard in Why Do Fools Fall in Love) plays a basketball star who gets kicked out of the men’s league only to don a wig and join the ladies. Probably every bit as “broad” as it looks, the movie was directed by one Jesse Vaughan, whose previous credit was the 1992 Paula Abdul special, VH-1 to One, so don’t get yer expectations up. The real question is, how did they get legitimate performers like Vivica A. Fox, Tommy Davidson, Kevin Pollak and such pop stars as Ginuwine and Lil Kim to come aboard? This is the second major basketball movie for the summer, alongside Lil’ Bow Wow’s Like Mike, even though the season is already over. The website at www.juwannaman.com offers information, an interactive game, a contest and demonstrates the transformation of Nunez into Juwanna.

Dahmer (Peninsula Films): Portrait of the serial killer who made Milwaukee famous, this biopic of the notorious Jeffrey Dahmer was based on his father Lionel’s 1994 book and written and directed by David Jacobson. Jeremy Renner, who has appeared on TV shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, WB’s Angel and opposite Jennifer Love Hewitt on Fox’s Time of Your Life, plays the title role, while veteran Bruce Davison is his dad. Advance word says Renner’s portrayal of Dahmer is both convincingly intense and weird, with the low-key, deadpan style non-exploitative. What, you were expecting the guy to munch a few body parts and wash them down with a brat and a bottle of Schlitz? The www.dahmerfilm.com website is suitably minimal, stark and very low-budget. —RT

I was all set to recommend seeing Incubus and Phantom Planet at Madison Square Garden, but then the show had to go and sell out on me. Jason Schwartzman drumming at the Garden—now, that's going to be a great sight to see. If you weren't able to get tickets, then I'd recommend checking out Palomar and the Oranges Band at Mercury Lounge. Palomar live in New York and play around town quite often, but this show is recommended as they share the bill with the Baltimore-based Oranges Band, which features Roman Kuebler (whose best known for his bass playing with Spoon). Saturday, make plans to see N.E.R.D. and Princess Superstar at Central Park Summerstage. It's a 3 p.m. show, which leaves plenty of time afterward for a picnic dinner in the park. Lauryn Hill will be performing acoustic Sunday night at Carnegie Hall. While her latest release isn't getting the rave reviews her debut did, it's more than likely that her show will still be excellent and certainly worth checking out. —Heidi Anne-Noel

Now lookee here: Ah don’t usulee cotton ta none o’ them fancy “road-course” type races, cause there’s jest sumfin wrong about a stock car turnin’ right. But this here week’s throwdown up at the 1.99-mile windy-windy o’ Sears Point in Sonoma, Californy, is packin’ a lil’ extry drama what even ah cain’t turn away from. See, last year at this race, that pompous fuck Grocery Boy (aka Robby Gordon—yeah, we’s talkin’ bout you, you Cingular-sponsored creampuff) was ridin’ in the #7 Ultra Motor Sports Ford, and was havin’ a purdy good run, leading the Dodge/Save Mart 350 with 11 laps to go. But his big ol’ cheese-stuffed head got the best o’ him when he done blocked Kevin Harvick’s lapped #29 Goodwrench Chevy as Harvick tried to git his lap back. He ’n’ Harvick tangled, openin’ the door for a savvy, balls-out move by none other than Tony Stewart, in the #20 Home Depot Pontiac, who cruised right by and won the dang race—preecipitatin’ all manner o’ whinin’ from Grocery Boy. Shoulda just let Harvick by, but he hadda be the badass. Well, now Grocery Boy and Harvick are Richard Childress teammates and obligatized to make nice-nice, but ye gotta wonder if’n Grocery Boy won’t have him a big ole chip on his shoulderblade fer Stewart this time out. As fer who’ll win it, ah spect some kinda Dodge er other—ain’t no big secret whose sponsrin’ the race, after all. —Guy W.T. Goggles

Pass the BBQ sauce. (7/3a)
Like a broken record... (7/1a)
We aim to please. (7/3a)
Origin story of the real OGs (7/3a)
Have another Beer, we insist. (7/2a)
The biz ponders action after some reflection.
100% guaranteed to be somewhat accurate, probably.
Just to inspect it, though.

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