Room is Where the Heart Is


The movie Room is an adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s 2010 novel, which itself is inspired by the real-life Fritzl case. It’s a rare instance of the fictional story actually being much less horrific than the truth: Josef Fritzl hid his daughter, Elisabeth, in a bunker below his house for 24 years. In that time, he abused her, raped her, and fathered seven children, some of whom were forced to live with their mother, having never experienced life outside the room. It’s a sickeningly intriguing story, one that had no trouble capturing the public’s interest. But Gone Girl this is not, Room is a substantially introspective film, far less interested with guessing at an explanation for this madness than it is with showing what it could have been like to live with it.

Jack (Jacob Tremblay) has just turned five at the beginning at the beginning of the movie. He has lived his entire life in one tiny room, with a heavy, electronically locking door and only a single skylight to offer a tiny glimpse of outside world. He lives with his mother (Brie Larson), who does her best to keep him healthy and clean and safe. They have never been separated, and Jack’s only other links to the rest of the world is their TV and Old Nick (Sean Bridgers), their captor who routinely visits to provide supplies and rape Ma.

A lot of the success of Room can be contributed to the sheer power and grace of the performances by Tremblay and Larson, respectively a child actor and a younger-than-me actor. Seeing the world through Jack’s eyes is a weird experience that only works because of how earnest Tremblay is in the role. And Larson does such a great job bringing out the vulnerability and rage of someone in her position – to the point where someone in the audience of the screening I saw was audibly disturbed by the movie, and possibly had to walk out.

But I should be clear that Room is not great for bringing a terrible crime to life. No, Room transcends the crime thriller genre and becomes a story about complacency and freedom, about the painfulness of change. Especially it is about the power of unconditional love, and the good and bad consequences of those feelings. Much of the movie is shot in POV or close up, director Lenny Abrahamson wants you to feel this story, and it’s hard not to. I walked out of the movie loving it for that visceral nature. But believe me, it’s smart and absolutely worthy of its heavy themes. Truly an illuminative reminder that actually it’s not that the world is as big as our imagination, but that our imaginations is only as big as the world.

A Head Full of Terrible, Terrible Music

Coldplay – A Head Full of Dreams

Since when did Coldplay start writing New Age music? Look at these track names: “A Head Full of Dreams”, “Birds”, “Hymn for the Weekend”, “Everglow.” I literally named the first four tracks in order. This is a rock band, right? Not that Coldplay ever rocked that much to begin with, but what is this? Does Chris Martin need this much cheering up after his split with G-Pal? First, he had to record the equivalent of him crying into a pillow with Ghost Stories and now he’s like, “Everything’s good y’all!” as if the mere concept of being alive is like living in a euphoric Candyland.

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2015 Music Roundup: Ghost Modern

Geographer – Ghost Modern

I think I write about this every time I write about Geographer, but whatever, here I go again. I feel like a crazy person for liking Geographer as much as I do. More specifically, I think it’s super weird that a band that appears to be totally credible and established and cable of putting out quality recordings on major platforms gets nothing written about them on a national level. There wasn’t a review for Ghost Modern in Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, The AV Club, hell, I can’t even find a mention of this band anywhere on local mega-hip station KEXP. This shouldn’t be happening, I’m not this cool or smart. Did Geographer do some really bad shit and everyone knows about it but me? That seems the most likely explanation.

I’ve been a Geographer fan since I stumbled upon their (or his? I think it’s actually just one guy who tours with a band) cover of “Age of Consent,” the best New Order song. Then I liked their 2012 album, Myth, but couldn’t write about it because I found out about it way after 2012. I think Ghost Modern is probably in the same league, and I’ve definitely listened to it the most of all three Geographer albums. In broad strokes I’d say the first album was the electro pop one, the second was the dream pop one, and this one is the closest to indie rock, in the Arcade Fire sense. In fact, “I’m Ready” has kinda been one of my anthems this year, it’s one of those great songs that just swells up into a pretty ball of awesome. Check it out for yourself, since I know you haven’t heard it… unless you’re that soulmate of mine that actually knows this band and this album.

This is perhaps Geographer’s most sonically adventurous album yet, exploring mixes of the band’s signature synths, strings, and Mike Deni’s falsetto. It goes light, it goes dark, it goes weird (a little bit). Sometimes it’s kind of like Muse, sometimes it’s kind of like Freelance Whales, sometimes it’s like St. Vincent or The National or whatever, you know how it goes. Pretty much if you like the general vibe of the music I tend to review positively, I implore you to look up Geographer. I feel like a lone explorer out in a massive expanse here, with no one else writing or talking about this band. If only I had a map or some sort of expert on like the land and shit.

Favorite Tracks: “I’m Ready,” “The Guest,” “Falling Apart”

2015 Music Roundup: Beauty Behind the Madness

The Weeknd – Beauty Behind the Madness

When I first became aware of The Weeknd I wanted no part of it. The spelling? No Thnks. Performing at the VMAs? Yeah, that’s cool, to a sixteen-year-old. The Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack? More like Fifty shades of Go Away. Then I heard the song “Can’t Feel My Face” on the radio. At first I was like, “This is terrible.” Then the chorus dropped. By the end, I was grooving so hard I almost crashed my car into a ravine. For those not familiar with the process of streamcutting erosion, a ravine is a deep, narrow gorge with steep sides.

Beauty Behind the Madness is the second album from Canadian-born artist Abel Tesfaye aka The Weeknd. Breaking out in 2012 after some buzzy mixtapes, The Weeknd slowly took over the airwaves with a sound Wikipedia has labeled “PBR&B,” a portmanteau of Pabst Blue Ribbon and R&B. I really want to punch whoever came up with that. Though I get it. The Weeknd isn’t easy to categorize. Even at his most mainstream, “Can’t Feel My Face,” The Weeknd sounds like Michael Jackson covering “Fly Like an Eagle.” Though isn’t that all we’ve ever wanted?

There’s some infectious beats backing The Weeknd’s delicate delivery, but there’s also some scary-as-sh*t sounding music here. Like, if I was on the dance floor and a Weeknd song came on, I could totally imagine turning around to find a phantom behind me. The Phantom of the Dancefloor. There’s the name of the next The Weeknd album. What I’m trying to say is, these aren’t happy dance songs. These songs moonwalk the fine line between sorrowful, sinister and drop dead sexy.

Singlewise take your pick. Apart from the face song you got brooding beaters “The Hills” and “Often.” There’s the song for those with unconventional desires with “Earned it,” and one of my favorites, the Kanye West produced “Tell Your Friends.” Which apparently uses a sample of a 70s song called “Soul Dog” so popular among the hip hop community, it has been prominently sampled in at least eight other recordings. Personally, I like this one best.

I wish the album was a little shorter. Not that 65 minutes feels like an endurance test, but there are some snoozers. Still, I’m intrigued to see where The Weeknd will go from here. More of the same? Maybe something more uptempo next time? I would love to see some more toe tappers, just as long as I’m not driving when I hear them. The world is a safer place when I keep my moves where they belong, at home.

Favorite Tracks: “Can’t Feel My Face,” “The Hills,” “Tell Your Friends”

2015 Music Roundup: I Want To Grow Up

Colleen Green – I Want To Grow Up

I’d really like to help out with the whole 2015 Music Roundup endeavor, because as you may know, I do enjoy writing about music.  But the thing is, I enjoy writing about music so much that I felt compelled to write about most of the music I liked from this year when it came out.  In fact, I feel like I was more or less the only person writing about new music on this blog in 2015, so do you really need to hear my thoughts on one more indie rock album that you forgot to check out (or didn’t check out because you’d never heard of it)?  Well, I’ll give you one more to chew on, since Colleen Green’s I Want To Grow Up is one I found myself rocking out to quite a bit this year, but just happened to be one that I didn’t catch on to until a bit after its release and maybe was never quite distinctive enough for me to want to write about it.

That said, I Want To Grow Up is indistinctive in all the ways that I would want an album to be, meaning it’s filled with the kind of fuzzy slacker pop that I will usually be down for, and will be even more down for when it’s coming from someone with Colleen Green’s level of deadpan cool.  It also happens to be the kind of album I had an easy time falling for because as you might guess from its title, it explores some ideas that are near and dear to most people my age.  What I’m talking about is the eternal question of whether your 20’s should be a time to grow the fuck up, or to just say “fuck that B.S.” and just do whatever feels good, baby.  I personally have not found any sort of concrete answer to this question, and thankfully neither has Colleen Green over the course of I Want To Grow Up‘s 10 tracks (not all of which are perfect admittedly, so who knows if this’ll make my top 10 of the year).  But what I can say is pretty perfect is the song “TV”, a romantic ode to television and all of its comforting qualities that makes one wish that human relationships were as simple as the one’s we have with the screens we spend our hours staring at.

Favorite Tracks: “I Want To Grow Up”, “TV”, “Things That Are Bad For Me (Pt. 1)”

Top Ten Poon Collectables

With great success comes responsibility. It also means being f*cking rich! But Poon didn’t amass their great fortune overnight. It took years and years of selling out. In Poon’s forty something years of existence, they made everything from toys to fruit snacks, to interactive love dolls. Here’s a list of the group’s most sought after items.

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