See You Next Fall

I’ve been wanting to do this post for awhile as Sean did one last year (which I supposedly pressured him into) and though I’m not sure anyone cares about what I want to see this fall, I’ve come to believe that there’s no such thing as a bad post at DaMorgue.

10. Zombieland
October 2nd

Really more of a film to pad out the list due to Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island being moved to February, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little intrigued. Horror/Comedy can be a very entertaining combination but also a recipe for failure. Though with Woody Harrelson attached and apparently a cameo from BIll Murray I’d like to think this at least has the potential to be a quick laugh, plus it comes out during “Shocktober” nothing wrong with that. I’m not sure if there’s enough room in the world for another zombie comedy with Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead, but maybe they have a few tricks up their sleeve… I’m trying to be optimistic.

9. 2012
November 13th

Another one I’m not too thrilled for but will definitely see… Unless the reviews are beyond bad. Roland Emmerich certainly isn’t known for his abilities as a storyteller but he always delivers on great effects and a good amount of shit blowing up. I’m not sure what truly differentiates this from any of his other disaster movies so I guess I’ll have to see it to find out. Not a bad cast; John Cusack, Oliver Platt, Thandie Newton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Woody Harrelson and Danny Glover as the president? Worth a bit of a peek I suppose.

8. Extract
September 4th

I’m not sure if September 4th is technically Fall but whatever, I mean that’s when lots of people are in school. So Mike Judge heads back to the workplace huh? I’m a huge fan of Office Space and with a cast that includes the likes of Jason Bateman, Ben Affleck, J.K. Simmons, Kristen Wiig and Mila Kunis I’ve got to check it out. The reviews haven’t been to glowing but who knows I seem to recall Office Space was a pretty big failure when it was released so it’s hard to say. It’s got to have something going for it with a guy like Judge behind it.

7. Fantastic Mr. Fox
November 25th

I’ve always been a fan of both stop-motion and the visual style of Wes Anderson, so this looks intriguing. I find it kind of creepy looking, but it is based off of a Roald Dahl work so perhaps thats befitting of his oddball writing. The script was penned by Wes along with Life Aquatic co-writer Noah Baumbach, which sounds promising and with a cast of frequent Anderson collaborators (Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson to name a few) along with George Clooney in the title role, I think this could turn out be a pleasant surprise for what looks to be dry November.

6. The Informant!
September 18th

Based on the story of Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon) who in the mid 90s became an informant for the FBI to investigate a food company for price-fixing, director Steven Soderbergh teams up with a pudgy Matt Damon aka Fat Damon for this upcoming dark comedy thriller. Matt Damon looks hilarious playing against the types he usually plays and I’m intrigued by the casting of Scott Bakula (Quantum Leap, Enterprise) and Joel McHale (Almost Live and lots of bad stuff) in major roles.

5. A Serious Man
October 2nd

The Coen brothers have really been on a role lately and I’m eagerly awaiting their latest dark comedy. Set in Minnesota in the late 1960s, A Serious Man follows one Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) in his struggles with his family, work and faith in that trademark Coen brothers style. I’m intrigued by the cast of mostly no names (aside from perhaps Richard Kind as Larry’s slacker brother) and how the Coen’s will portray the era and I can only imagine what the soundtrack will be like knowing them.

4. Where the Wild Things Are
October 16th

Though I’m not sure what kind of mileage you can get out of a book that’s like nine pages long, visually this looks amazing. The settings, the monsters, all with an indie flair in Spike Jonze. There’s a lot of places they could take this story and I see a lot of potential so I’m pretty stoked, I just heard some song off the soundtrack featuring Karen O on the radio definitely got me pumped.

3. The Invention of Lying
October 2nd

I couldn’t believe after seeing Ghost Town how hilarious of a leading man Ricky Gervais could be. This time in a script co-written by Gervais (who also co-directs) Ricky plays Mark Bellison a man living in an alternate reality where no one has ever lied before until he learns how to use lies to get ahead in life. The movie has a promising cast featuring such actors as; Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe, Jonah Hill and Patrick Stewart as the film’s narrator and the trailer looks fairly amusing as well. I won’t “lie” this movie looks pretty funny.

2. Gentlemen Broncos
October 30th

I’ve become a big Jared Hess fan over the years. His retro visual style and sense of humor (writing alongside his wife Jerusha) are truly unique and ever since I heard about Jemaine Clement joining the cast, I’ve been eagerly awaiting this. Michael Angarano stars as Benjamin Purvis, an aspiring fantasy writer home-schooled by his mother (Jennifer Coolidge). While Jemaine Clement plays the once famed sci-fi writer Ronald Chevalier who now desperate for ideas steals Benjamin’s story idea “Bronco”. With “in-book” segments starring Sam Rockwell this should definitely be a nice oddball comedy experience.

1. The Road
October 16th

It’s been continually pushed back (Perhaps for awards consideration) and it’s based off a Cormac McCarthy work, so naturally I’m quite curious. A post apocalyptic father and son story with Viggo Mortensen? Try and stop me from seeing it. The trailer wasn’t anything amazing but I have a feeling about this, though I often find myself disappointed by my most anticipated films, there’s always that outside chance that something will be will live up to my expectations, let’s hope for the best.

Band of Basterds

Inglorious Basterds

Right off the bat Inglorious Basterds establishes itself as very much not the action-packed film that was advertised. It opens with a title card, and a lengthy, tense, dialogue-driven conversation between a French man and a Nazi. Indeed, regardless of what you may have been told, this is a Tarantino movie.

That Nazi is Hans Landa “The Jew Hunter,” played by Christoph Waltz, the standout of the movie. He is a fantastic villain, cultured, smart and disturbingly dangerous. Fortunately, Tarantino gives us a cast of heroes worthy to stand up to this menace. There are the Basterds, an American group of Nazi killers led by Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt), as well as a number of British, French and Germans all fighting to kill Hitler.

Most surprisingly, the Basterds are not the biggest presence in the film, but rather just one of many groups we follow. They serve almost as comic relief, making jokes and doing absolutely brutal acts of violence to Nazis, while the rest of the film is spent talking. But this is Tarantino dialogue, and there’s always a lot more going on than what is being said. Scene after scene starts small and begins building tension until that is broken by shooting.

This movie is a work of art, it is Quentin Tarantino’s Jewish revenge against Hitler movie. No, it is not always going to follow real history. If you can let that go, or if that premise sounds exciting to you, I’m sure that you will get more than your money’s worth from this epic.

Sean’s Top Tens of 2004

Don’t wanna be a pretender. I started out all excited to do this, then I lost some steam. Ah well. I feel like when I tell people stuff is good, they’re like, “Yeah, but only by Sean’s loose standards.”

Top 10 Films of 2004

The Incredibles
You can tell 2004 was a hell of a year when one of my Pixar films barely makes it onto the list. The Incredibles had a lot of fun with super hero mythos; I can never look at a cape again without remembering that one guy getting sucked into the airplane engine. If you haven’t seen it yet, man up and get all over that shit.

9. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
My first exposure to the cinema of Michel Gondry was an interesting experience that put my mom to sleep but I found thoroughly engrossing. A bizarre, yet dangerously relatable look at the highs and lows of a relationship.

8. Spider-Man 2
Many swear by this film as the high mark for comic book movies. Well, at least that was true until The Dark Knight came out. Still, this is the best of the Spider-Man series and inspired my favorite game in the franchise too.

7. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
Speaking of comedy it’s Anchorman, the first and only movie I can remember my mom walking out of. Sure, it’s raunchy, but I’ll be damned if it’s not one of the funniest, quotable movies of the decade.

6. House of Flying Daggers
Much like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, House of Flying Daggers is full of supernatural martial arts filmed in an incredibly beautiful way. A real feast for the eyes. One of two films by Zhang Yimou released in ’04, this is a tighter, more visually arresting picture that should be enjoyed on a big ass, high definition screen.

5. The Aviator
Ohh Scorsese, uhh blah blah blah.

4. Sideways
One of those movies that is just a lot of fun to watch. A delightful blend of poignant romance and laugh-out-loud comedy that absolutely should not be missed. Who would have guessed that whine snobs would make for such a comedic goldmine?

3. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
My first dose of Wes Anderson was a delicious one, despite what many of my contemporaries say. Sure, when I went back to his other films it became clear that this is not Anderson’s defining work, but it still is one of my favorite movies.

2. Shaun of the Dead
This is just an outrageously good movie. The defining zombie romantic comedy of our time.

1. Kill Bill, Vol. 2
What can I say, I like me some Kill Bill. While the first film was a glorious action fest, this sequel relies heavily on the dialogue, which, coming from a master like Tarantino, is fine with me.

Top 10 Albums of 2004

10. Citizen Cope – The Clarence Greenwood Recordings
It’s just kind of interesting. Not really amazing. The best song is called “Sideways,” coincidence?

9. The Hives – Tyrannosaurus Hives
The Hives are crazy fast. How long is this album, like 20 minutes? But those are some good minutes.

8. Keane – Hopes and Fears
Sort of embarrassed to have this on my list. I just think its nice to hear some pop music that doesn’t depend on the guitar from time to time.

7. Green Day – American Idiot
This was pretty good. Pretty huge too, those old sellouts. They should do another album, I’d probably like that.

6. U2 – How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
One, two, three, fourteen (or something like that).

5. Kasabian – Kasabian
Boosh, I tell you I want you.

4. Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand
Did you know Franz Ferdinand was a real guy? True story.

3. The Killers – Hot Fuss
The title sounds yucky. The music doesn’t, though.

2. Modest Mouse – Good News for People Who Love Bad News
Oh my God Becky, look at that big album title. They didn’t sell out! They just started making more consistent awesome music.

1. Arcade Fire – Funeral
Well, I’m white, so… You know. It’s pretty much required.

Top 10 Video Games of 2004

10. Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy
This was a cool game. You could kill people with guns and your mind. Too bad it tanked.

9. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II The Sith Lords
Worse than the original and it shipped incomplete, but it is still good.

8. Katamari Damacy
Everyone was like “this game is charming and amusing, but they’d never bring it to the States.” Then they did. Then they did like a million sequels without making it any different. Ah well.

7. The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay
Sometimes all a man wants to do is kill some shit as Vin Diesel.

6. Fable
It was kind of like Microsoft’s Zelda. Sure, it couldn’t live up to what Molyneux promised, but nothing can.

5. Ninja Gaiden
So pretty. So fun. So hard.

4. Burnout 3: Takedown
The game that transitioned this franchise from something I liked to one of my favorites. Really, really great. And I don’t even like most racing games.

3. Halo 2
No infinite grenades! Those assholes! And so online gaming moved to consoles.

2. World of Warcraft
The most addictive game of all time. God knows how many hours I wasted in Azeroth. Just think, back in 2004 I never thought I would play this game. How naive.

1. Half-Life 2
Probably the best first person shooter of all time. Game over.

Shock Rockers

Jet – Shaka Rock

Hopefully someone else will do an Inglourious Basterds review later this week but for now I decided to just do this. So remember Jet? The Aussie band that burst out onto the scene in 2003 with and excellent debut album? Back in the day I thought Jet was really gonna takeoff to become one of the premiere modern rock groups but alas it didn’t quite work out that way. With a so-so and redundant sounding followup, followed by a three year gap of what seemed like nothing, Jet kind of fell off the radar and now it would seem that they’ll probably never reach the same level of success they once had ever again.

Shaka Rock is Jet’s latest release and with the debut of the less than stellar lead single “She’s a Genius”, I didn’t have much interest in another album of dry, run of the mill, ACDC/Black Crowes sounding snoozers. Luckily, Shaka Rock is definitely a bit of a step up from Shine On but still doesn’t sound as fresh and exciting as Get Born.

I’m always hoping for that Beatlesesque side of Jet to shine through as it once did on tracks like Get Born’s “Look What You’ve Done” or Shine On’s “Shiny Magazine” (easily the best track on that album) but it’s still overshadowed by the typical generic rock sound Jet has become more accustomed to. Not only that but Jet really seems to have trouble putting together a ballad these days without it being totally wimpy or corny. All that being said there are still some swell tracks on Shaka Rock but also a lot that just feels like filler.

What makes Shaka Rock worth listening to is that occasionally more experimental track. The tracks that almost sound like another band and feel fresh and new. “Beat on Repeat” is a highlight with it’s Louis XIV like vocals and hip swagger and “Seventeen” is a pleasant enough contemporary alternative rocker. “La Di Da” is by far my favorite track on the album and is definitely single material with it’s punchy British Invasion style backup vocals and guitar, that kind of song reminds me why I still like to keep an eye out… Or should I say ear for this band.

So though I don’t think Jet will ever be able to repeat the awesomeness that was Get Born, I still think it’s worth following them for the little nuggets of great music that they can produce from time to time. Shaka Rock definitely wont win any new fans but if you’ve ever liked Jet you might enjoy little bits and pieces here and there.

Favorite Tracks: “Beat on Repeat”, “La Di Da”, “Seventeen”

A Peak at Pandora

Though I’m still packing for the DaMorgue crew (or whatever you want to call us) camping trip, I figured I’d take a minute to address this little pop culture nugget. Today, according to the internet and other nerds at Comic con is “Avatar Day”. Yes today a trailer is finally available online for James’ Cameron’s long awaited and much hyped sci-fi epic, to be released December 18. Not only that but apparently IMAX theaters will be showing an extended and free 15 minute trailer/feauturette today. I hear that sold out really fast but I’m not sure how something free sells out.

Anyways I’ve finally had the chance to witness the trailer, so here’s my scoop. For the amount of hype that James Cameron has been creating this is looks neat but it didn’t blow me away… But this is just a trailer and for the most part it looks pretty cool. I hear that seeing it online doesn’t do it justice because the film was made in and is meant to be seen in 3D, I mean Cameron and company did invent a new camera for the film and theaters will even need to receive new projectors (one of the reasons this film was pushed back.)

We don’t see a lot in the trailer but I think it’s enough to tide me over. We see shots of the alien planet “Pandora” and plenty of scenes of it’s inhabitants (the tall and blue Na’Vi) dueling it out with the humans along with our protagonist Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) getting his very own Na’vi avatar and all that fun stuff… Hopefully you already know the premise of the film, if not I suggest reading up on it because I don’t really want to do a plot synopsis right now.

It appears that the biggest complaint thus far with most people is the CGI and the Na’vi’s design. Though I’ll admit that it almost looks more like a cartoony animated film than a live-action film, I’ll bet that the “looks much better with a 3D projector comment” has plenty of truth to it. As for the almost “Disney” look of the Na’vi, I’m sure we’ll all get used to that in time, so I don’t seen any reason on getting hung up on that now.

I’m really surprised that so many folks on the web are poo-pooing this film already because of one 2:30 something minute trailer because I still think it looks very promising. Even if it’s stupid story-wise, I don’t see any possible way that the man behind Terminator 1 & 2 and Aliens could disappoint in the entertainment department… I’m pumped, Otteni out.

If you haven’t checked out the trailer there’s a handful of places to view it, if it’s not on Youtube yet I saw it at

P.S. the new trailer for The Wolfman was released too, that looks cool.

C.A.T.: Pearl

Janis Joplin – Pearl (1971)

It seems that without CAT’s, I have less to write about on this blog, so I figured I’d post one for this week.  And with last weekend marking the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, I figured I’d showcase one of the many notable artists to perform at that extraordinary event, Janis Joplin.

The album was the first that Janis would record with backing band Full Tilt Boogie, and also has a bit of a cleaner sound than her earlier blues-rock efforts with Big Brother and The Holding Company thanks to longtime Doors producer, Paul Rothchild.  However, pretty much every song on this album rocks pretty hard, and it’s hard to beat Janis’s signature wail on top of all of it.
Songs like “Half Moon” and “My Baby”, show Joplin’s vocals reaching glorious highs, while the backing band’s grooves are as tight as you could ask for.  And let’s not forget what may be the most charming song of Janis Joplin’s career, the country-tinged “Me and Bobby McGee”, which also wound up being the biggest hit of her brief career.
While Pearl may be the best album Janis Joplin ever recorded, it also holds the distinction of being the last she recorded before her death in October 1970.  In fact, the song “Buried Alive In The Blues”, which is featured on the album is an instrumental because Joplin died before her vocals were recorded for it.  And even if her career was cut short by her untimely death, she still never sounded better than on Pearl.
Favorite Tracks: “A Woman Left Lonely”, “Half Moon”, “Me and Bobby McGee”

Slumdog Aliens

District 9

One day in 1982 a giant spaceship arrives over Johannesburg. There is no glorious meeting of cultures or violent conflict. It just arrives and hovers there. After a couple months, first contact is made when humans discover that the ship is full of malnourished aliens, so they are brought down to the Earth. They recover, but it seems that the aliens are just worker drones. They can’t really do anything for the human race. Unable to leave the planet, they become mankind’s burden.

This is the setup of this feature-length debut from Neill Blomkamp, and it certainly is an interesting one. Indeed, the first half of this film is one of the most unique I’ve seen all year. Blomkamp brings us into this world by using documentary style techniques, which work really well. He follows the life of Wikus van der Merwe as he gets his big promotion to run the move of the alien population from District 9 to District 10. At first the movie is heavily steeped in references to apartheid, racism and social equity (after all, it is based on the real events of District Six, Cape Town) until something happens to Wikus.

From that point on, District 9 becomes an action movie. A heavily cliched action movie, if you think about it, with some pretty well-worn lines of dialogue put into use. But you know what? I’m fine with that when the action is so genuinely visceral and exciting. The special effects on display here are top-notch, you really do buy into the CGI aliens as real characters after a while. This is the longest I’ve been on the edge of my seat in a movie for quite some time.

I’d like to throw some props to Sharlto Copley for his portrayal of Wikus, a character that is at times pretty hard to get behind. He does some pretty nasty things, but at the end of the day you can always relate with the man, and that does not all live on the written page.

So save that G.I. Joe money you weren’t trying to spend and go check out this interesting little piece of sci fi action. As for me? I’ll be waiting to see what’s next for Mr. Blomkamp.