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Jorge Velez - Roman Birds Music Album Reviews

Inspired by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, this five-track ambient wonder finds the New York producer letting pulses and motifs overlap until the tracks resemble the inside of a lava lamp.
Jorge Velez has long been prolific, but that’s been especially true in the past few years. Like many underground electronic musicians, the New York producer has taken advantage of the internet’s self-publishing opportunities—in particular, the direct-to-fans platform Bandcamp—to sidestep label gatekeepers, streaming services, and crowded retailers. (Velez’s Bandcamp page currently numbers 26 releases.) Velez first gained recognition a dozen years ago with blippy disco derivatives for labels like Italians Do It Better, but his output has gradually become more esoteric and inward-looking. He’s still capable of ebullient club tracks, as last year’s excellent Forza attests, but many of his long, undulating machine jams sound like late-night missives to himself.

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The Spy Who Dumped Me Movie Review

Whatever happened to the art of the 90-minute comedy? It feels like ancient history to think about a movie getting in, telling jokes, and entertaining us for a sharp, concise amount of time without ever wearing out its welcome. It may be a silly thing to bemoan, but "The Spy Who Dumped Me" is the latest comedy to fall prey to its two-hour runtime.

Mila Kunis stars as Audrey, who works as a cashier at a grocery store and seems to float through life aimlessly. She lives with her best friend Morgan (Kate McKinnon), a would-be actress without much work. Audrey's boyfriend Drew (Justin Theroux) dumps her over a text message and she later finds out he is the eponymous spy of the movie. Two agents, Sebastian (Sam Heughan) and Duffer (Hasan Minhaj), bring her into his secret life, informing Audrey they need a thumb drive that Drew had. Ah, the McGuffin!

Audrey and Morgan are swept into a globetrotting adventure, as they are now the targets of all of the baddies chasing after the thumb drive. As the body count starts to pile up - and it gets pretty high here - "The Spy Who Dumped Me" spins its wheels as it goes through various cities, set pieces, and double crosses, laying its mystery on a bit too thick at every turn.

There's a fine supporting cast on display, including Gillian Anderson as the whispery leader of MI6 and the great Jane Curtin and Paul Reiser as Morgan's parents, but "The Spy Who Dumped Me" is all about its stars. Kunis and McKinnon are undoubtedly a lively pair, complementing each other's vastly different comedic abilities. Kunis plays things more straight with touches of deadpan and biting delivery but McKinnon gets the bulk of the laughs, continuing to do her wide-eyed shtick to great effect. She plays variations of her own persona but it works, and her beautiful brand of weirdness brings some life to the film.

Director and co-writer Susanna Fogel (she co-wrote the script with David Iserson) has made a film that revels in its familiarity and hopes to coast by on the talented stars. When your comedy is going to play it safe, it has to be a bit sharper and more focused; instead, the movie needlessly cuts back-and-forth between the present and when Audrey met Drew. Establishing your characters is one thing, but when the headlining stars are the main attraction, you don't want to take too much time away from them.

"The Spy Who Dumped Me" might be a nice distraction for some, especially after the many disappointing blockbusters from the past few months, but as we hit the dregs of summer movie season, "The Spy Who Dumped Me" is just another forgettable time at the movies.

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