"Huckabees is closest in spirit to Michel Gondry and Kaufman’s way-too-arch Human Nature, in particular the scene in which Jason Schwartzman and Isabelle Huppert roll around in the mud with what passes for animal passion."


We Don’t [Heart] Huckabees, but We’re Still Into Brian, Joss, the Ray soundtrack, Razorlight, Sinatra and Buddy Miller
We’re a week away from the election, and if you’re still undecided, you’re not going to find much help here. We’ve already made up our minds. Unfortunately, like Jon Stewart told the Crossfire guys, Al Sharpton isn’t on the ballot. At least the college bowl system BCS isn’t conducting the presidential election. The race itself is fascinating in its neck-and-neck tightness, with several battleground states vying for the candidates’ attention as we hit the homestretch. There’s nothing left to do but hold your nose and pull the lever and somehow hope John Kerry turns out to not just look like Abe Lincoln. Not that I’m the biggest Jon Stewart fan, either—it’s easy to make fun of both sides by satirizing their foibles; a lot more difficult to come up with an alternative. Not that we have any here. Our job is to make you forget reality; not focus on it. For that, here’s this week’s edition of Weakend Planner, enough to make even the great Bambino turn over in his grave.

Friday (10/22)
8 p.m.
Comedy @the Sportsman’s Lodge
(12833 Ventura Blvd @ Coldwater Cyn): It’s always good to see Jill do stand-up. But when you have the opportunity to see her do stand-up at the Sportsman’s Lodge? That is a classy opportunity. *No cover*

8 p.m.
Ben Folds
@the El Rey: Call out for William Shatner.

A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant: If the title of this musical isn’t enough for you, than F you! Here’s LA Weekly’s review of the pageant we missed last year and can’t get to fast enough this year. "The eponymous religious cult may seem like a soft target for satire, but the genius of Kyle Jarrow’s 50-minute musical, based on a concept by director Alex Timbers, lies in its use of child actors to puncture both Scientology’s wild claims and American gullibility. The evening plays out like a comedy about mind control as written by Nathanael West. Kyle Kaplan is charming and kooky as fantasy writer L. Ron Hubbard, whom he portrays from birth through the years he developed Scientology—a money-making operation whose mythos was clearly a product of Hubbard’s own science-fiction imagination." Powerhouse Theater (3116 Second St., Santa Monica; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Nov. 21. (866) 633-6246)

10 p.m.
: Check out this flick starring Paul Giamatti and alotta wine. A man is about to get married, but before he does, he decides to take a road trip with his buddy to California’s wine country for one last blow-out. During that week in the vineyards, they get into trouble with wine and women before some profound realizations in their pre-midlife crisis.

11 p.m.
Check out http://www.bestdealmagazines.com for super cheap magazine subscriptions many at only $4.69. It’s the real deal. Whoa…Score!

Saturday (10/23)
10 a.m.
Pumpkin Round-Up:
A quaint county fair with everything from apple cider to farm animals to scarecrows to hay rides to tons of pumpkins. If you wanna throw the kids into costumes (HITS doesn’t endorse throwing your kids, unless you’re throwing them into costumes), all costumed kids meet at 10 a.m. for a parade. At Descanso Gardens (1418 Descanso Dr. La Canada (818) 949-4200)

11 a.m.
Arrested Development Season 1 DVD
(Fox Home Ent.): You were lame & missed this critics’ fave that took home the Emmy for best comedy? Silly boy/girl. Then you must run out & purchase the DVD, so you can catch up before Season 2 premieres a week from Sunday (11/7) at 8:30 p.m. on Fox.

8 p.m.
I [Heart] Huckabees:
Dare we say, run, don’t walk? You’re damn right, we say that. Such a good movie. One of those films that leaves you in awe of the filmmaker’s (David O. Russell who did Three Kings and Flirting With Disaster) ability to tell a story. Totally off the beaten path and completely enjoyable. Amazing performances from Jason Schwartzman, Mark Wahlberg, Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin, Jude Law, etc. For an alternative view of this controversial comedy, see Popcult Top 10.

11:30 p.m.
Saturday Night Live: Jude Law
, who’s apparently in every movie being released for the next two years, hosts along with musical guest Ashlee Simpson. Sure, it’s not what it used to be, but the show still has strengths. They’ve got the first all-female Weekend Update team (Amy Poehler joined Tina Fey after Jimmy Fallon’s exit). Girl on girl news!

Sunday (10/24)
10 a.m.– 6 p.m.
Sherman Oaks Street Fair
: Half mile of Ventura Blvd. between Kester and Van Nuys closes down annually for this fair celebrating local schools and businesses. There’s live entertainment, pony rides, a climbing wall & works from local artists. Call: (818) 906-1951.

11 a.m.
Have brunch at Rose Café in Venice Beach (220 Rose Ave. at Main Street (310) 399-0711): Yummy food that won’t totally break the bank. Cozy patio and a cute lil’ shop to hit while you wait for your reservations

1 p.m.-10 p.m.
"The Music In Transit Indie Festival" @Ibiza (13002 Philadelphia St. Whittier (562) 693-7998): An all-ages event consisting of 16 bands on two stages with DJs spinning between sets. Event headliner the John Easdale Band (featuring members of Dramarama) will play alongside some local staples and fresh new talent looking to make a lasting impression in the L.A. music scene. Bands performing include Amps on Ten, Anti Quark, Audio Nova, the Bentleys, Carved Souls, Indy 500, Jaborn, the Lost & Found, Nu Republic, the Pacific, Pastilla, Pleasant Something, the Poppies, Silent Gray and Sterile Eden. ($15 cover) (the insect)

2 p.m.
CD Shopping
: Time to rejuvenate your collection. CDs I’m dying to check out: Ted Leo/Pharmacists: Shake the Sheets, Junior Boys: Last Exit, Luna: Rendezvous, Nancy Sinatra: Nancy Sinatra, Elliott Smith, From a Basement on the Hill

3 p.m.
Halloween shopping
: Beat the rush, Halloween is next weekend and you don’t wanna be left sans costume. Hit Hollywood Toys and Costumes on Hollywood Blvd. for the absolute best selection or check their website.

6 p.m.
Clippers vs Hornets:
Check out pre-season basketball. You know there will be plenty of seats available. One, it’s pre-season. And two, it’s the Clips. Damnnnn.

7 p.m.
Taking the Jesus Pill
@King King (6555 Hollywood Blvd.):
This multimedia "anti-musical" is an original production by singer/songwriter/artist Charlie Terrell, who calls it "a Southern Gothic tale about a snake-handling preacher, his alcoholic wife and his wild-ass daughter" told in drama, painting, live music, film and dance. The play follows the journey of the beautiful, young Tina as she struggles for independence from her domineering father and long-suffering mother. With the help of the hapless Johnny 3:16, Tina escapes a world of evangelical hell to go in search of the "Little Blue Windmill By the Sea." What she finds along the way is more than she ever bargained for. Executive-produced by Polly Parsons.

11 p.m.
Jump into bed and Rock the Vote! Check out your Voter Information Guide while you’re curled up in your sheets. Make an informed decision this Nov. 2 and read about your statewide issues on the ballot.

Mon. (10/25) 8 p.m.
The Swan 2-hour season premiere!
If you were disturbed/exhilarated/horrified/inspired by the last season’s freaky gem … here comes more.

Tuesday (10/26) 8 p.m.
Scout.net free show with Limebeck, Jamison Parker, Rock Kills Kid (damn beotch!) @the Key Club

The Vacation @Spaceland

10 p.m.
Peter Walker @Silverlake Lounge

Wed. (10/27) 9 p.m.
Sara Barelles: Last chance to catch her month-long residency at the Hotel Café.


1. I [Heart] Huckabees: David O. Russell’s attempt at weaving a screwball metaphysical comedy is unfortunately, all head and, ironically, no [heart]. It’s a philosophical treatise on the shifting nature of reality, much like Charlie Kaufman’s Adaptation and, especially, the far superior Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which Huckabees resembles in its incoherent trailer and multi-character one-sheet campaign. Actually, Huckabees is closest in spirit to Michel Gondry and Kaufman’s way-too-arch Human Nature, in particular the scene in which Jason Schwartzman and Isabelle Huppert roll around in the mud with what passes for animal passion. And while there are several wonderfully attuned characterizations by Schwartzman, Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin and especially a daft Mark Wahlberg as a confused post-9/11 fireman protesting our reliance on oil, the individuals are more a collection of scatter-shot intellectualized symbols than flesh-and-blood human beings. Especially the way-too-obvious satire of consumerism represented by the too-perfect couple of Jude Law and Naomi Watts. A movie I expected to like, and emerged thinking about, but feeling little. (Roy Trakin)

2. Beautiful Dreamer: The Story of Brian Wilson and SMiLE (Showtime): Longtime Wilson supporter David Leaf’s feature-length documentary is not quite the hagiography or EPK accompaniment to the album you might think. Nevertheless, its impressive variety of talking heads (collaborator Van Dyke Parks, George Martin, Andrew Loog Oldham, David Anderle, Danny Hutton, session greats Hal Blaine and Carol Kaye) mainly testify to the troubled artist’s genius and, yes, eccentricities. By filling in the context of the legendary album, it stresses how important its completion was for Brian, though the doc’s not afraid to show him at points anxious, bored, agitated and even snoozing in his chair during some of the vocal sessions. The Wondermints’ remarkable Darian Sahanaja, who spearheaded the project, emerges as the unsung hero, his incredibly encyclopedic knowledge of the material and ability to put together the pieces indispensable to the final result. The final scene of Parks joining Wilson on-stage at London’s Royal Festival Hall last February to a standing ovation even put a lump in this hardened observer’s throat, a feel-good ending that trumped any possible fictional "happily ever after." (RT)

3. Joss: After 18 years, this famed music biz watering hole is closing its doors on Saturday night. For a transplanted New Yorker, this L.A. restaurant, located on Sunset Blvd. just this side of the Beverly Hills border on a block that once boasted the offices of Atlantic, Chrysalis and Geffen Records across the street, was my first taste of west coast Chinese food. And while I could never satisfy the craving for the Lon Guyland "Chinx" (before we knew it was a pejorative term) of every Sunday night of my youth (duck sauce, flat crispy noodles, combination won ton/egg drop soup), Joss’ Apricot Spareribs, Prawns in Spicy Mustard Sauce and Tangerine Beef almost made me forget my culinary roots. At lunchtime, you might see anyone from Allen Kovac to Bill Bennett eating there, while the tall, sad-eyed, impeccably gracious Chinese head waiter, a fixture from the start, was almost as recognizable as the star autographs scrawled on the walls of the entrance hallway. You can have Chasen’s. The shuttering of Joss marks the real end of an era. (RT)

4. The Old Grey Whistle Test (Studio BBC Video): In 1971, the year I was born, a show called The Old Grey Whistle Test debuted on English TV. One of the most influential music programs ever, it hosted live and now classic performances from artists such as David Bowie, Elton John, The Ramones, Talking Heads and tons more. It was the first UK TV music show to allow artists to sing live: to show his gratitude, John Lennon refused to accept his fee in cash, insisting that he should be rewarded instead with chocolate Bath Oliver biscuits. Now that’s what I call rock & roll. Originally only available as an overseas import, for which you needed to translate from PAL-encoded clips, the shows have circulated for years on the bootleg video circuit, but are now available on DVD for the U.S. market. Spend two phenonemal hours remembering what it was like to have a music community that actually had something to say rather than sell, then I can only suggest you most definitely get your knee pads out and blow the Old Grey Whistle for sure. For more info, click here. (j-shotsi)

5. Ray Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Atlantic/Rhino/WMG Soundtracks): Like the Taylor Hackford biopic, this album traces the artistic development of Ray Charles. It charts his musical path from a jazz stylist/bluesman in the Nat King Cole/Charles Brown mold into an original creation, melding gospel, R&B and country into a distinctive sound. Hackford himself oversees the soundtrack production with Stuart Benjamin and James Austin, and the disc serves as a great primer to Charles’ evolution into the mainstream pop artist of "Georgia On My Mind," "Hit the Road Jack" and "I Can’t Stop Loving You." It’s one of the few greatest hits collection of Ray’s that includes both his groundbreaking ’50s Atlantic hits like "I’ve Got a Woman" and "What’d I Say" as well as his later ABC Paramount ’60s breakthrough, masters of which Charles ended up owning. There’s also "Mess Around," the Ahmet Ertegun-penned song (credited to Nugetre, Ertegun spelled backwards) which the movie shows the Atlantic Records founder timidly suggesting Charles cover. The only minor quibble is no performances from the film’s star Jamie Foxx, who actually croons a pair of the tunes on-screen, according to the end credits, making a comparison impossible. Guess we’ll have to wait for his upcoming J Records debut for that. (RT)

6. Razorlight, Up All Night (Universal): This Swedish-English rock quartet have already achieved stardom in the U.K., and their stateside debut comes with the pedigree of having been produced by their label Mercury U.K. Managing Director Steve Lilywhite. The band essays that classic ’80s new wave sound on "Leave Me Alone," at once echoing such forebears as the Only Ones, the Stranglers and even Squeeze along with contemporaries like Franz Ferdinand. Stylistically ambitious, they recall their producer’s spacious work with U2 on the expansive "Up All Night," "Can’t Explain" Who on "Vice," the rubber rhythms of Talking Heads on "Which Way Is Out" and Horses-era Patti Smith on the "Gloria"-like "In The City." The sound is sparkling bright, the words enunciated clearly, the beats razor-sharp with the result more homage than derivative. And they’re all adorably, impossibly skinny. (RT)

7. Friday Night Lights: The 1988 H. G. Bissinger book upon which this movie is based was riveting—a depressed small town whose psyche is grafted to the fate of their high school football team's journey to the state championship. As a witness to the fragility of the human condition and high impact nature of life, it was so much more than a football book—and Billy Bob Thornton as the much-scrutinized coach proves why he's one of his generation's very best. Human, humane, clay-footed, veering from kindness and dignity to the rafter-raising poundings that are deemed motivation, his kids are gonna fight for him—even as they fight for their few scattered moments of glory before settling into a life of settling. Tim McGraw as the abusive alcoholic father who was once the star magnifies the tragedy of the small fish whose pond runs dry… and evokes compassion even as he repels with his outbursts. A must-see, and a must-read as well. (Holly Gleason)

8. Richard Havers, Sinatra (DK Publishing): A beautiful coffee table book brought to you by the same publishing house and author that released Bill Wyman’s Blues Odyssey and Rolling with the Stones, a meticulously researched and lovingly compiled chronological history. Hey, you can’t display an Internet file in your living room, and until hard copies go the way of vinyl, this will have to do. Sinatra himself is right up there with The Beatles, Elvis and Dylan as a pop music icon, fully deserving of the lavish star treatment here. It probably won’t top Kitty Kelly for salacious detail, but, if someone gives you this for the holidays, it’s a keeper. (RT)

9. Russell Shorto, "The Industry Standard" Sunday N.Y. Times Magazine (10/3): The story of Nonesuch Records, a little label that could. Grounded in classical music, it's become a home to label-defying musical treasures Emmylou Harris, David Byrne, Wilco and so many more. It’s a tale of allowing excellence to dictate the reality, marketing fit the project, reason define the expectations for the artists—and love of the music drive everything else. It's not a how-to for the masses, but it certainly offers a counterpoint to McDonalds music, where the mass appeal could be calibrated for a little bit more essence. Go into back issues and find it. Not just educational, but enflaming. (HG)

10. Buddy Miller, Universal United House Of Prayer (New West Records): If you've ever heard Buddy Miller's turpentined barn wood voice, you know he's a witness to deeper truths just by virtue of the tone that leaves his throat. One part soul, one part heart, one part divine intervention, Miller offers an album holy and elevating, while employing his funky, clunky organic take on songs—soul music for the soul, if you will, and utterly transfixing. As unprocessed and unfettered as it can be, this would be an album of spirituals for the Americana set. But it's also a coping mechanism for people struggling to get by, a way to reach a little Higher and seek out solace in difficult times. Buddy would never presume to preach, but he would offer a hand or a shoulder or even a ladder to a faith that's sustained him. You can hear it in the jettisoning recognition of "Worry Too Much" and the questioning, aggressive interpretation of Dylan's "With God on Our Side." The a capella gut-scraping soul-sister-entwining "Fall on the Rock" opens up into rusty-hanger guitar sounds and a lumbering beat, while the churling get-right-right-now "Don't Wait" bumps and thumps down a Glory Trail with minor keyed abandon. Let the secular get sacred—and the sacred get their acoustic-tinged glory. (HG)

(Fox Searchlight)
A divorced middle school teacher, a failed novelist, and his altar-bound friend take one last fling in NoCal wine country, pondering the choices they’ve made along the way.
Paul Giamatti (American Splendor), Thomas Haden Church (Wings), Virginia Madsen, Sandra Oh (Arliss)
Alexander Payne, red-hot after About Schmidt and Election..
Thumbs Up:
Strong advance buzz, Oscar talk in the air.
Thumbs Down:
Be aware, it’s all talk and very little action.
Soundtrack: New Line Records
album includes Rolfe Kent score

Surviving Christmas (DreamWorks)
A rich record executive stuck with spending the holidays alone returns to his childhood home, where he asks the family now living there to take him in only to discover they’re even more psychopathic than his real relatives.
: Ben Affleck, Christina Applegate, James Gandolfini, Catherine O’Hara, Jennifer Morrison
Director: Mike Mitchell
(Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo)
Thumbs Up: Affleck
and Gandolfini replacing Stiller and DeNiro as the new comic duo?
Thumbs Down:
Has gotten some of the worst advance word ever, and Affleck is on one of the losing-est rolls in Hollywood history.
Soundtrack: Varese Sarabande
album includes holiday-themed songs from Judy Garland, Chet Atkins, Andy Williams, Lou Rawls and composer Randy Edelman.
Website: www.survivingchristmas.com

Vera Drake:
Acclaimed British director Mike Leigh (Secrets and Lies, Naked, Topsy Turby) tells a tale of a British woman abortionist in ‘50s England, whose crime is discovered by authorities, rupturing her ordinary family life.

The Grudge: Sarah Michelle Gellar goes for scream queen honors with remake of Japanese hit that follows the chain of a supernatural curse.

The Machinist: :Artful horror flick in whichAmerican Psycho Christian Bale plays man whose insomnia causes a physical and mental deterioration that threatens his sanity, with Jennifer Jason Leigh.

P.S.: A college admissions officer falls for an art student 20 years her junio, bearing an uncanny resemblance to her high school sweetheart. Vertigo on campus with Laura Linney, Topher Grace, Paul Rudd, Lois Smith, Marcia Gay Harden and Gabriel Byrne.