After director Wes Anderson’s last two movies, which weren’t without their charms, but were kind of lacking in the story department, I was almost ready to give up on him. However, Anderson’s latest offering, an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s childrens book Fantastic Mr. Fox, shows Anderson truly exploring new and inventive territory while still retaining his signature style.
Matt & Kim – Grand
In the wake of all the festivities and gorging on turkey, I came across an indie rock album from earlier this year that somehow went under my radar. Hearing about New York duo Matt and Kim strangely enough from Paul, I’ve found a lot to like about this piano and drum combo that released their second album last January. Known primarily for their lead single “Daylight” which has been featured in commercials and an episode of Community (which has also featured their song “Good Ol’ Fashioned Nightmare”) Matt and Kim use catchy piano progressions, along with big beats and your typical “goofy sounding guy who can’t really sing” vocals to create pleasing urban indie pop/rock.
Featuring the duo of Matt Johnson (vocals/keyboards) and Kim Schifino (Drums/Backup Vocals), “Grand” is a fairly simplistic album. There doesn’t appear to be any guitars in sight or bass that’s not synthesized as keyboards and inventive percussion keep this boat afloat. Now I’ll admit that sometimes “Grand” feels a little repetitive with it’s basic approach but there’s definitely a charm to it as well. I think Kim Schifino’s drum beats are what drew me in initially. Her diverse playing style seems to incorporate everything from rock, to hip-hop rhythms, to something that sounds like it could be from Stomp. Top on Matt Johnson’s off-beat vocals and skills on the keys and you got yourself a “grand” indie sound.
What’s really surprising to me is how short this album is. At 29 minutes you’d think that brief runtime might be annoying but somehow it feels just right. Songs rarely wear out their welcome and I wouldn’t feel the need to add or subtract any tracks from this album. It might take you a little time (as it did for me) for it to grow you but I’d say give it a chance. It’s not one of the best albums of the year but it’s a welcomed addition and I’m glad I got to hear it before year’s end.
Favorite Tracks: “Daylight”, “Good Ol’ Fashioned Nightmare”, “Lessons Learned”.
Well it seems we’ve crossed that threshold into the holiday season once again, and I’d just like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. It seems inevitable that the flow of blog posts slows down around the holidays, but I figured I’d try and post something for today. I thought I’d keep the tradition going of posting a mildly amusing Thanksgiving-related Youtube video. This is the best I could come up with, so enjoy.
I always like to make a post after finishing a video project (even though I just end up mentioning it on Facebook) because here I can give a little more background before you watch it. So this was for my Video Foundations class and the topic was “Who Are You?”. Basically a chance to talk about your interests and what not in any manner, as long as it’s under three minutes. So I basically just crammed together a bunch of weird stuff with a dopey narration. I wasn’t a big fan of this project and definitely went through a stage where I considered redoing the whole thing… But since that requires a lot of work I just cut out some scenes (about three minutes worth).
I filmed most of this myself (because Paul was being a jerk) so I felt a little limited here but at least it’s done. As is my tradition here is the link
I don’t know how many times writer/director Roland Emmerich feels like he needs to destroy the world but if anything is to be said about 2012 it’s probably the most impressive looking disaster movie of all time. I was really expecting this one to suck balls but shockingly I found 2012 to be jam packed full of amazing effects and surprisingly good acting.
People call Roland Emmerich’s movies “Disaster Porn” and though I’ll admit he certainly goes overboard with effects, I found this chaotic outing had a compelling human side as well. The story follows a diverse ensemble of characters (as Roland’s film’s often do) dealing with that infamous date that the Mayan’s many years ago predicted would be “The End of Days”. This being brought on by solar flares sending neutrinos into the earth’s core, heating it up and causing the the earth’s plates to shift…. Translating to a bunch of giant tidal waves, erupting volcanoes and big ass fissures coming out of the ground. Now I don’t know if any of that makes sense, it probably doesn’t but I’m no scientist and frankly it didn’t bug me at all. I understood why people were all over the scientific inaccuracies of The Day After Tomorrow because global warming is actually something based in science but the “2012 Theory” is bullshit anyways, so who really gives a damn? This film isn’t trying to send some message it was clearly made for entertainment and that’s where it excels.
A lot of critics have been writing this one off as a bloated disaster movie that’s all spectacle and no true substance but I think too many are being blinded by the ridiculous premise. I think if you can just suspend your disbelief you’ll find that Emmerich truly and sincerely attempts to tell a good story in-between all this chaos. It’s not perfect but he always keeps it moving and even at 158 minutes this movie is never boring.
What I’ve always liked about Emmerich’s movies (even his bad ones) is that he almost always has an intriguing ensemble of characters often played by actors I’m quite fond of. You have the family struggling to survive including the always likeable John Cusack and the so-so but not terrible Amanda Peet. This is of course followed by all the government guys including; Danny Glover as the president, Oliver Platt as some douche and Chiwetel Ejiofor as a scientifc advisor and even though they’re all spouting out cliched sappy speeches they do a damn fine job. Oh yes and then you got the oddball characters thrown into the mix like Woody Harrelson as some wacko radio personality and George Segal and Blu Mankuma as jazz musicians on a cruise ship.
It’s an over the top experience but isn’t that what a disaster movie should be? In my opinion 2012 is Emmerich’s best after Independence Day and Stargate. It’s a thrilling, high adrenaline, experience and worth seeing in the theaters if you have about two hours and thirty-eight minutes to kill. It may not be as interesting as Sean’s theories on the end of the world but it’s a close second.
I tweeted about this site a little while ago (hey, it just occurred to me that we don’t have Twitter links anywhere on this blog, let me fix that), but there’s this cool website out there now called Flickchart that I think you movie people out there should investigate.
Flickchart lets you compare two movies. You are presented with two posters, and chose the movie you prefer. This works toward creating your overall movie rankings, with your top 20 films of all time always displayed. You can also rank a year, decade, or genre, but work on that list also influences your overall list too. As anyone who has ever bothered to give star ratings to movies on a site like Facebook or Netflix will tell you, this can get really addictive.
Here, there’s this added level of desperation to help your favorite movies climb the list. You can’t assign a spot to a movie, you just get to keep comparing them. So some interesting stuff happens. For example, Men in Black has been consistently in my top five movies of all time, just because the right film hasn’t come up for comparison.
No, the website is not perfect and you will tend to keep getting the same comparisons over and over, but it’s really addictive and a great time-waster. And I really wanted to get us up to six posts this week.
I’m sure everyone is still recovering from the massive release of Robo Jockeys on Tuesday, but I figured I should probably mention the massive video game release that also happened to hop on what has been dubbed National SLXP Day.
So a little bit of history: Two years ago a game called Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare came out and was a huge success. The Call of Duty franchise had always been a special one, the first game was pretty huge in its time and CoD2 is probably the best WWII FPS ever. But Call of Duty 3 was developed by another company. The fourth game was a return for the original series developer, Infinity Ward, who obviously hated the third game, because they called the new one IF3. Anyway, CoD4 was a huge success and totally revolutionized the online experience for modern FPS games along with an incredible (albeit short) single player campaign.
Last year, a game called Call of Duty: World at War came out. Not an Infinity Ward game. It took the series back to WWII, and even added a zombie multiplayer mode and a character voiced by Kiefer Southerland. I guess Infinity Ward was not about this, because they announced their new game, scheduled for 2009, was dropping the Call of Duty branding. Good for ’em.
Now as hype continued to build for this big release, the very dynamic of the holiday gaming season changed. Countless big releases moved to early next year to get out of the way of this juggernaut. Indeed, it seems that only Left 4 Dead 2 and Assassin’s Creed 2 have the balls to stand up to this momentous release. And now that it’s out, it sounds like Modern Warfare 2 has not disappointed.
Sales are definitely in the millions. Midnight launches everywhere were packed (and this was a Monday night, mind you). The reviews have been very generous. In a year full of great games, this looks to be on the way to a huge sales lead. They released three different editions: the standard game, the Hardened Edition, which comes with like an art book and an XBLA version of CoD, and the Prestige Edition which is the Hardened Edition with a pair of fucking night-vision goggles. And they’re all selling. Certainly 11/10/09 is a date that will be remembered in gaming history.
As for me? I’ll remember it for SLXP. Mainly because my birthday is in a week and its bad form to buy yourself something so close to that. But also because in a hurry to be verbally abused by the jackasses on Xbox Live quite yet. That’s another thing I forgot to mention, a couple weeks ago Infinity Ward put out some trailer video starring some pitcher from the Phillies. It was topical and seemed fine, except at the ending they put up a card that said Fight Against Grenade Spamming. F.A.G.S. What a dumb thing to do. I sincerely hope someone got fired. Can you imagine if that card had a slur for any other group? This is all kinds of fucked up.
In conclusion: Modern Warfare 2 is probably really good and is going to make a lot of money.