In honor of 4/20, we here at Mildly Pleased thought it might be far out to pick our top ten favorite potheads and pushers on the silver screen and the boob tube. So let’s pass the dutchie and jump on in.
Welcome to another edition of the vault, a segment devoted to nostalgia. This week I’ll be reviewing a PS2 game that I’d pined to play for years until I finally buckled down and bought it on Amazon. The game is Wakeboarding Unleashed Featuring Shaun Murray by Activision, the same studio that brought us the beloved Tony Hawk Pro Skater franchise. I’ve always been a big fan of the THPS series and just earlier this year became a fan of another past Activision title Mat Hoffman’s Pro BMX for the PS1. It all goes back years ago when I played a demo of this on a copy of THPS 4. In the demo you could only play one level accompanied by a loop of Molly Hatchet’s “Flirtin’ with Disaster” but man was it fun. Though time went by and somehow I just forgot about it. So now that I’ve finally played through the game does it live it up to my expectations? Totally.
Leave it to Joss Whedon to completely turn a genre on its head in the already acclaimed The Cabin in the Woods. Not since Scream has the horror genre been this deeply analyzed or even criticized in such a clever way, but The Cabin in the Woods takes that model and pushes it to new heights. Directed by Cloverfield writer Drew Goddard and written by Goddard and Whedon (both former collaborators on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel), The Cabin in the Woods is an all-out, over-the-top, send-up of the horror genre.
Surprisingly, the first characters we are introduced to are two seemingly white-collar technicians played by Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins. These two work for a company that stages slasher-like killings or “rituals” for mysterious reasons. The victims of this particular ritual are five friends that all represent horror cliches. You have; the virgin (Kristen Connolly), the jock (Chris Hemsworth), the slut (Anna Hutchinson), the scholar (Jesse Williams), and the outcast stoner (Fran Kranz), all heading out to spend the weekend at a cabin in the woods.
Once at the cabin the technicians or “puppeteers” start to manipulate the group’s environment. Pheromones are released through vents to make them horny, bridges out of the woods are destroyed, even random items are placed in a basement to decide what kind of creature will come after the group. Bradley Whitford is disappointed he never gets to see a Merman. The reasoning behind all of this is explained slowly throughout the movie, but you have to see it to appreciate it.
What I enjoyed the most about The Cabin in the Woods was the humor. The whole thing is so self-aware and cynical, it’s refreshing to get a horror movie that just makes fun of how serious so many other horror movies try to be. Whitford and Jenkins are easily the most entertaining characters, but I actually liked everyone. Fran Kranz delivers some big laughs as the group’s philosophical stoner and I liked seeing Chris Hemsworth slowly dissolve into a horror movie stereotype spouting out lines like “I think we should split up to cover more ground.”
The last half hour is where this film really goes all out and I couldn’t have been happier. The final act is more or less a horror fan’s wet dream and yet it’s still so tongue and cheek that I believe anyone could enjoy it. I would recommend this film to anyone, not just horror fans. This is a film that marvelously blurs the line between genres. The Cabin in the Woods is kind of in a league of its own and most definitely lived up to the hype created by nerds on the internet.
The holy weekend’s over, it’s Thursday and the gang’s all here! Our big cast of heroes got together to shoot the poop and let it all hang out. The topic of discussion? Ensemble movies. Those films that don’t rely on just one star, instead focusing on a whole group of characters. It sounded like a really easy idea, but it quickly became clear that this is the most challenging top 10 so far.
If you don’t have the time for this super-sized show, you can check our list after the break.
It’s hard to find a lot about a band that doesn’t have a wikipedia, but from what I know, The Men are a Brooklyn band who released their debut album in late 2011 and are already back with an album that finds them expanding on their punk-influenced aesthetic in a more inviting and eclectic manner. That kind of makes it sound like these guys have gone commercial, but on the contrary Open Your Heart is filled with the kind of sweaty candor that I usually find pretty irresistible.
Basically this was an album that I thought I was ready to fall in love with from the first listen, and though I have come around to more or less falling in love with this album, it was a little more difficult than I anticipated. You see, Open Your Heart begins with “Turn It Around”, a balls-out rocker full of impassioned vocals and unhinged guitars, two things that tend to make me weak in the knees. But from there the album more or less takes a left turn with each song, as it sees The Men applying their rough-and-tumble punk sound to a whole slew of different approaches, which needless to say left me struggling to cling on to one overarching sound that defines this band.
Now I see that it’s that kind of ready-for-anything dynamic that makes this such an incredibly fun album. You see The Men taking on hardcore punk (“Animal”), echoey alt-country (“Country Song”), amped-up shoegaze (“Please Don’t Go Away”), while also taking a bunch of other twists and turns stylistically. I suppose in this day and age it’s a bit jarring to hear an indie band that doesn’t stick to one distinct sound on each song, as well as being so defiantly raucous, but they inhibit all these different styles pretty darn well. Really my only complaint is that Open Your Heart contains one or two too many lengthy instrumental interludes, but for the most part this is the kind of album that gets me excited about new music in general.
Favorite Tracks: “Turn It Around”, “Oscillation”, “Candy”
So it’s been a while since I’ve posted on the blog, and that can basically be attributed to the heavy load of school and work that I’ve been burdened with the last few weeks. But alas, this week marks my spring break, so I’ll try and unload a couple album reviews I’ve been meaning to get out of the way. The first comes from a Nashville band who apparently have been around since the ’90s though I’d never heard of them before hearing good things about their most recent album, Mr. M. It’s a slightly bizarre blend of a few different genres that don’t tend to be described as bizarre, and though it hasn’t left me feeling the need to delve into Lambchop’s back catalogue, it has provided me with some nice chill-out music.
From the opening moments of this album, you get a pretty good idea of what you’re in for, as “If Not I’ll Just Die” starts with this lush orchestral interlude before lead singer Kurt Wagner mutters “Don’t know what the fuck they’re talkin’ ’bout” in his distinctly garbled tone. And from there on you get an interesting mix of these sweeping string arrangements that compliment a sound that’s very much indebted to country, folk, jazz and to the kind of lounge-y pop that defined guys like Burt Bacharach and Tony Bennett. So it’s kind of an unorthodox mix, but one that I think works if you like your indie rock to be a bit old-fashioned, as I usually do.
I guess my big complaint is that I have a hard time listening to music that’s so unrelentingly mellow for long stretches of time, so I can’t deny that I tend to find myself tuning out a bit towards the last few songs on Mr. M. Still, it’s an album that blends a nice collection of genres that I kind of wish I spent more time listening to, and it’s always nice when an artist reminds you that there are other worthwhile sounds out there worth exploring.
Favorite Tracks: “2B2”, “Gone Tomorrow”, “Mr. Met”
We couldn’t pass up an opportunity to record an episode in a real radio station, and thusly, we focused on a real radio topic: sports. As a band of Mariner fans, how could we resist talking about of favorite Seattle Mariners, especially after they were honored by opening the season in Japan? So, sure, the Mariners may lose a lot, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get excited. Baseball’s back everybody! Please don’t sue us MLB!
List after the break.