31 October 2010

The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest


I’m a huge fan of the first movie in this trilogy, which sets up Noomi Rapace’s powerful character so wonderfully. The second movie helped to solidify her independent badassery while making sure to show that she’s not infallible and really needs other people to help her out even though she refuses assistance at almost every turn. In this final installment, most of the work is done by her friends, but she still comes out looking the strongest.

As in the second movie there is very little contact between the two protagonists, Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist. Lisbeth spends about half of the film in a hospital due to the events from Played with Fire, and Mikael spends all of that time gathering evidence to combat her aggressors in court. The majority of the movie is just that; evidence gathering and attempts to sabotage it, and then a pretty exciting trial bit. I’ve never been a big fan of court-tv dramas but when I really care about the characters, the setting can be gripping. The first movie alone made me love them so I actually enjoyed the proceedings.

Aside from that thread, there is also the loose end from the finale of the second film, the blond giant whose solution to every problem, big or small, is to bash someone’s head in. He happens to have a problem with Lisbeth being alive so throughout most of the movie we see short scenes of him monitoring her and waiting for the moment to strike, leading up to the action-heavy finale (similar to both previous movies in that respect) that acts as a great payoff for the large lack of violence in the preceding 120 minutes.

This one also sees the return of Lisbeth’s hacker friend Plague, a stereotypically fat but very likable guy who knows how to use a computer, and ends up pretty much saving the day. This kind of nerdery is just another aspect of these films that makes me love them even more; I recently read an article explaining how all of the hacking is completely possible, but of course not quite as simply as it’s made to be here. I’m fine with that of course. It would probably make a pretty boring movie to do it accurately.

Noomi’s performance is excellent as usual, and that’s really what I care about personally. I’m a huge fan of her goth image, which is her projection of the independence and power that she possesses; not only does it portray that well it also just looks damn cool. After she gets out of the hospital she really goes all out in that regard, adding the mohawk and big flashy neck spikes. This full regalia is what she wears to court, as if to say that she has no reason to hide herself from the jury’s scrutiny; the accusations of insanity are so groundless that even her outlandish display is not enough to discredit her.

As a movie in itself, it’s well made and entertaining, but only if you’ve seen the first two of course. The first can stand alone but these last two really require that you see them all in sequence. I suppose that’s obvious though. This one serves as a perfectly capable ending to the series, although I wish there had been a bit more payoff regarding Lisbeth and Mikael’s relationship. I suppose it would have been contrary to the theme of independence though, and probably would have cheapened it. Oh well. Still a satisfying conclusion to the saga of the Men who Hate Women.

28 October 2010

Scott Walker – Scott 4

I’m going to review The Drift at some point. For now though, I’m starting to buy his older albums and feel the need to write about them, since they’re really just as worthy although so completely different from his later works. This one is considered to be his masterpiece of the early years by lots of people, and it really is pretty amazing.

It starts out with a track called The Seventh Seal, and it just so happens to be a poetic summary of the film by the same name, which I just recently wrote about here. To be honest I didn’t realize this until I looked at the lyrics, as I’m really bad at listening to the words of songs. Must be why I enjoy death metal so much. Anyway it’s a great track. Scott’s vocals are in top form and there’s some nice acoustic guitar work to go along with the cellos and whatnot. The next track is what appears to be a breakup song, a short down-tempo ballad that sounds nice but doesn’t have a lot to say. Still, he manages to squeeze in a line about dead dudes in subways. The World’s Strongest Man is in the same vein but a little more upbeat.

A little later, one of the standout tracks shows up. The surging violins, uplifting vocal lines, and reverb-heavy classical guitar picking help to make it a memorable song, and lines like “Extensions through dimensions, leave you feeling cold and lame, Boy Child mustn’t tremble, ‘cause he came without a name” both mystify me and please my nerdiness. It might be because this one was featured on the documentary “30 Century Man,” an excellent documentary on Scott’s history, which has contributed to its memorability for me, but I still just love listening to it.

I don’t think I’ll be going into any sort of depth on the rest of the tracks. There’s one about a crippled war hero, a song supposedly “Dedicated To The Neo-Stalinist Regime,” and a few other ones. All of them are pleasant listens without a hint of the jarring strangeness from Tilt and The Drift, but almost every song has a line or two that just doesn’t seem to fall in line with the carefree attitude of most pop songs. It’s the first of his solo albums not to contain any Jacques Brel covers though, so by comparison it’s the happiest of the bunch; strange that this one was the flop. It was such a sales failure in fact that it was deleted from the publisher’s catalogue almost immediately after its release. Scott’s audience at the time was mostly lonely housewives rather than musical aficionados like today, and the previous album’s predominantly 3/4 time signature made it difficult for them to dance to it, and so they gave up on him; at least that’s what Scott figures.

As a whole it’s a very well produced and poetic orchestral pop album. I don’t think it’s quite the level of genius that most other fans seem to make it out to be, but it’s still an easy listen and anything but shallow. Good stuff.

27 October 2010

Concert Review: Devin Townsend Project at JAXX 2010-10-26

It was a hot, sweaty night of nerdery at Jaxx Nightclub yesterday. The line of the black-shirted went all the way to the gas station on the other end of the parking lot; I was surrounded by people who were talking about things I actually new things about, like Gene Hoglan’s middle name and the release date of Strapping Young Lad’s first album. It was a pretty glorious thing. Eventually I got inside and decided to once again try out the main floor instead of heading to the elevated rear, which might have been a mistake, again. I managed about 3rd or 4th row from the front, and had an intermittent view of the stage. Not too bad but not great.



So the first local band hit the stage pretty quickly, pounding out some kickin’ death metal with touches of Lykathea Aflame. It really was a very solid performance for such a young band, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. The vocalist had both the look and the attitude down pretty well, and his vocal style reminded me a bit more of a grindcore mentality. All the musicians performed great and it was probably the heaviest showing of the night. I wouldn’t mind seeing these guys again.



As soon as the drummer and the bassist started setting up their stuff I could tell what their deal was. The drummer had a Cynic t-shirt and the bass was something like an 8-string fretless. This could only mean one thing: jazz metal. Jazz metal is something very few bands have been able to pin down right, and it’s still not something that can really be enjoyed. One of the more important points of metal is to be focused in its brutality and not to meander too much, which jazz is wont to do. These guys did bring on the heavy for some bits, but they only managed to play two songs because of the ridiculously long noodling-sessions in which the lead guitarist tried desperately to be Allan Holdsworth, and pretty much failed. I suppose it might have been more fun if I’d been high. They did play well I guess, aside from that. You can download their debut EP for free at http://www.existband.com.



I’ve been aware of TesseracT for I think about four years. I was first introduced to them in a forum thread about the possibility of the existence of something as awesome as Meshuggah’s “I” EP, which is pretty much impossible to top. However, there were some good recommendations, the best of which was TesseracT’s song Concealing Fate (Part 1), which at the time was just a few demos. Their demo sampler was listened to many times on my walks to and from class back at school. Theirs is a style similar to Meshuggah’s in the use of low-range palm-muted “chuggas", known nowadays by metal nerds as “djent.” They distinguish themselves from their Swedish masters by using more melodic non-growled vocals for the majority of their lyrics, and lots of chimey ambient guitars to give the music a more dynamic feel. They aren’t a unique band now, but they might have been back then if it weren’t for Textures. Still they’re distinct enough to be recognizable, and very enjoyable.

As for their performance, it was outstanding. They’ve gone through a number of vocalists, and I think they found a keeper in their current guy, who was an entertaining frontman and sang quite well considering the range of sounds he has to make. He does sound a little bit too much like the guy from Coheed and Cambria but it’s not so bad that it makes me sick. The instrumentalists of course were all spot-on; they’ve been playing the same small set of songs for about half a decade, it would be kind of amazing if they screwed up at all. A weird thing that happened during their set was a large dude in front of me passing out. The singer had to find a dry spot in the song and notify security, after which the limp body was swiftly carried away. He came back for Devin’s set though so I guess it all worked out.

I bought their Concealing Fate EP for $10, and there will probably be a review forthcoming.



Periphery is another djent band who has gone through a ton of vocalists. Their current screamer joined the band only just recently, just in time to record vocals for their debut eponymous album. The widespread reaction to the CD was one of admiration for the music, but disgust for the vocals, an opinion I share. He’s supposedly improved his style recently (after releasing the album of course, good move there), going so far as to post a re-recorded version of one of the album tracks on his myspace page. I don’t really see it as much of an improvement. I was all psyched to see if he could do better in a live setting, but first his mic didn’t work for the first song and then it turned out he was sick and couldn’t handle the stress on his throat, so he left the stage half-way though the set. What little I did manage to hear of his voice sounded okay, but even after he got the working mic it wasn’t really mixed high enough for me to make any judgment. Compared to TesseracT they played a lot more intensely; the music was very dense and complicated. It was so loud though it kind of sounded like mush. After their travesty of an album I wasn’t expecting much, even after respecting their founder Misha Mansoor for quite a while.

Devin Townsend Project


Devin Townsend has been near to or at the top of my list of favorite musicians for a number of years now, and the only reason I bought a ticket, although noticing that TesseracT and Periphery were on the bill was a great surprise. I managed to catch him during the Between the Buried and Me tour earlier this year in Baltimore, but a 30 minute set is simply not enough Hevy Devy. His new positive outlook is a refreshing thing in metal, although I sure wouldn’t mind a few Strapping Young Lad songs. His set consisted largely of songs from Ziltoid, Addicted, and Infinity, with a couple from Ocean Machine and Terria. I’m pretty sure there wasn’t single Ki track, which was disappointing, and Earth Day was omitted as well. Sad. Still, Bad Devil was featured, which is pretty awesome because it was probably the first track that actually got me interested in his solo material.

As usual Devin was an extremely charismatic frontman, starting out with a joke about the amount of ball-sweat in the room and a rapid-fire story about taking a shit in the CVS across the street. His array of funny faces made him a joy to watch, and at one point he actually came out into the crowd and played a section of a song while all the sweaty nerds patted his shiny bald head. It was obvious that he was well-loved by everyone there. His vocal performance was pretty incredible, much better than most footage I’ve seen on youtube and all that. He seems to be really enjoying these tours, contrary to the time when he swore off ever touring again and promised to become a hermit in the Canadian mountains. I’m very glad he’s found his new life in music and hope he’ll continue to be his prolific self for many years to come.

24 October 2010

The Social Network


The first time I saw the trailer for this movie I was impressed with the design and thought it looked pretty interesting. The next 25 times I saw it in front of every other movie ever, I started getting pretty annoyed with it and thought I might not be able to stand sitting through a feature length film including the scenes from the trailer. Still David Fincher is not one to be overlooked, and the movie started getting fantastic reviews from pretty much everybody except Armond White, which means it must be really good.

Jesse Eisenberg, who I know best from Zombieland, plays Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. Yes it’s a fictionalized version of Mark but as I understand it it’s not completely falsified. At its core this movie is about a computer nerd who wants to do something big, and thinks he knows something about social interaction while he really doesn’t. I have to say I kind of identified with him a little, although I have neither of those two qualities aside from being a nerd with few social skills. The trailer makes him out to be a lot more of an ass than the movie as a whole does. Still, it’s largely a negative look at Mark’s life, which makes sense since it’s based on a book which was written with Eduardo Saverin as the main consultant. Eduardo, played by the up-and-coming Andrew Garfield, is put in a much more “faultless victim” light. If you go into the movie expecting an objective documentation of history, then you’re going to be disappointed in that regard. It’s some dude complaining about another dude. Past that, it’s a very good movie.

The worst parts of the trailer for me were the out-of-context bits of Jesse’s performance. I just don’t think they work nearly as well standalone like that. In context, his rapidfire self-centered babbling is almost always entertaining, if maybe a little hard to follow at times. Garfield does a solid job in his role, and Justin Timberlake proves once again that he’s a good actor; still not enough for me to even think about trying out his music though. Rooney Mara’s somewhat minor performance is good, but not quite extensive enough for me to make any judgment as to how she might do in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. That dude playing the twins did a good job too I guess.

Anyway, it’s a very well directed movie, and the fast-cut editing really worked. The cinematography was pretty great as well, especially the tilt-shifted rowing race. Always love that stuff. Trent Reznor’s contribution to the soundtrack is a good one too, not always particularly recognizable but not hard to believe that he was involved. Ending with a Beatles song is always a nice touch.

So, David Fincher’s gone and done it again. Here’s to hoping he continues his history of excellence (minus Benjamin Button) with Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig in the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Looking forward to it.

23 October 2010

Scott Walker - Tilt


Quite a while ago I wrote about The Drift in a very abbreviated post. That was back when I was even worse at music reviews so I couldn’t think of anything to say. Also, since that was my first exposure to Scott Walker, I didn’t know very much about his musical career or anything, and now I do, so I have a bit more to write about. Huzzah. I might give The Drift an expanded shot later, but more likely I’ll just end up talking about it here. We’ll see.

Noel Scott Engel started his career as an American teen/child idol on some TV show in the late 1950s. He also sang a bit at that point I think. After that, he joined a band called The Walker Brothers as their bass player and became Scott Walker. They played your basic pop songs, and became quite popular on the British charts, especially with their ballad The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore, sung by Scott. He wasn’t the lead vocalist for most of his time in the band, but his deep baritone voice suited their sound well and he became a more prominent member in their later time together.

Eventually the band broke up and Scott started putting out solo albums in a style somewhat similar to his Walker Brothers material, but usually much darker in lyrical content and including more orchestral elements. His albums did quite well until his fourth venture, which failed to chart; he attributes this to his extensive use of 3/4 time on the previous album, Scott 3; I guess it’s harder to dance to waltzes. So anyway this failure kind of crushed him and he lost his spark for a while, putting out a string of uninspired junk for a few decades. Then in the 80s The Walker Brothers got back together and put out a few albums, the last of which started out with four Scott songs displaying a much different, darker, weird avant-garde sound that would signal the start of his descent into the realm of nightmare music.

The first of these was Climate of Hunter in 1984. It was the most similar to those four Walker Brothers tracks, not all that daring but still quite strange. It would then take another 11 years for him to put out another one, and finally we get to the real subject of this review. Tilt is an exceedingly dark kind of industrial dreamscape full of morbid tales sung in a sad crooning voice. The opening track, Farmer In The City, is based on a poem by Pier Paolo Pasolini about an Italian draftee and deserter; its emotionally drenched refrain of "Do I hear 21, 21, 21...? I'll give you 21, 21, 21..." always gives me chills although I’m not entirely sure what it means. It’s on the second track that the industrial part really steps in with a sound like a sledgehammer on an anvil and a herd of rattlesnakes about to strike. Also featured are long distorted saxophone notes and disturbing ambience which make The Cockfighter probably the most rattling song on the album.

The rest of the songs are bit more reserved but still very strange. The title track includes awesome wavering pitch-shifted guitars in the background of an almost upbeat bassline and drum track, giving it an ominous sound a bit similar to the opening track on Scott 3 from 26 years before. The album closes with Rosary, a quiet but emotionally saturated track set apart by Walker’s “ooh-ah-oooh ah-ooh-ah-ooh,” which sounds a lot more impressive than it looks written here. There used to be a live recording of him performing the track live on youtube, but I’ve been unable to find it again unfortunately. It was quite powerful.

Although not nearly as creepy as his 2006 followup The Drift, Tilt is a formidable release and should not be taken lightly. If you’re not really into the whole darkness thing then I suggest starting out with Scott 3 or 4 in order to get some appreciation for his talent, and eventually you might be able to stomach what he considers to be what he wanted to make all along, the aural depiction of his constant nightmares.

Here’s “Farmer in the City”

21 October 2010

Die Antwoord - $O$


These South African weirdos came into focus early this year when Xeni Jardin of BoingBoing posted their videos for Zef Side [Beat Boy] and Enter the Ninja. Before that, they had been through a number of groups, none of which garnered any sort of international recognition. Die Antwoord itself had been around for a year or two before February. The name means “The Answer” in Afrikaans, a language pretty specific to South Africa that has its roots in colonial Dutch and a smattering of native languages. The group uses this and several other languages in their lyrics, which I view as a benefit to their package.

$O$ was first streaming free on their website, but then after the BoingBoing push they soon got a record deal with Interscope and replaced the songs on their website with instrumental versions. The CD came out a few weeks ago with a different tracklist and new cover art, seen above. It’s really quite fantastic how quickly they became a hit and kept the momentum going with great music videos and tours.

The main performer of the group, who goes by Ninja, has created a great character to help sell the music; that coupled with his pretty considerable rap skills make the music quite enjoyable. Yolandi Vi$$er performs backup vocals and some leads as well. She’s one of the stranger elements of the group’s image, putting forth a very sexualized persona while wearing an odd hairstyle that makes a lot of people very confused. DJ Hi-Tek isn’t really seen much, but he provides the “next-level sounds” on his “PC computer” to great effect.

The music itself is very sharp hip-hop with lyrics about genitalia, social classes, haters, ninjas, annoying girlfriends, transsexuals, and a lot of other stuff that I don’t understand because it’s not in English. There’s lots of bass and techno-influenced beats which makes it very fun to play in my car. There are quite a bunch of references to pop-culture and possibly less popular culture as well, such as South Park, District 9 and Zelda; the chorus of Enter the Ninja is apparently ripped from some trance song that I’ve never heard. Almost every song is humorous, which makes the self-promotion stuff bearable to me. Most other hip-hop that I’ve heard using that element has just annoyed me. Be warned though, the parental advisory on the cover is not to be ignored. If you don’t want to hear F-bombs then you probably won’t be able to listen to a single track, and if you can understand Afrikaans then you’ll probably be even more aghast.

It’s a ton of fun. There are plans to release at least four more albums, which makes me very happy. This CD is only $10 on Amazon, so if it sounds appealing then go for it.

20 October 2010

Portal - Swarth


I think it was a few years ago I was browsing the Meshuggah forums, and happened upon a thread about this band. It seemed everybody there couldn’t get enough of their sound. The most touted album at the time was Outre’, so I checked that out. I was underwhelmed. The production seemed lousy and it all just sounded like a big muddy mess; not what I was looking for at the time. So that album just hung around in my library for a while, mostly ignored. Then a few months ago, I heard about a new album from the band called Swarth; I got ahold of it and this time it clicked. Loudly and sharply.

Portal’s sound can be pretty accurately described as a whirlwind of angry bees being pummeled by an avalanche of rhinoceroses, with an occasional high-tension wire snapping through the maelstrom. If that doesn’t sound appealing to you then I wouldn’t be surprised. This sound is pretty consistent through their catalog so far, but Swarth somehow separates itself from the rest with a slightly snappier production and I think a bit more energy. It’s best listened to at very high volume and low light. Their lyrics are supposedly inspired by Lovecraft and other such things, but of course only the most careful of listeners will be able to make anything out. Reading the CD’s insert, all I gathered was that they like to use big words and Latin phrases that probably don’t really mean anything when put together. I’m fine with that.

Aside from the sound, Portal is known for their very strange stage presence. Everyone aside from the vocalist wears executioner’s masks and dingy business suits, while his outfit changes for each album release (so far). First he wore a large wizard’s hat that fell over his face, then a pope’s hat in conjunction with the robes and a black cloth, and now it’s a weird clock/radio-thing. I really want to see these guys live sometime.

Check out “Glumurphonel” if you wish.

19 October 2010

Rubicon Season 1


AMC’s been doing some wonderful things for TV lately. Breaking Bad and Mad Men have both been incredibly great dramas, and The Walking Dead promises to be everything a lover of the comic could hope for; it seems the channel known for its taste in movies knows a thing about shows as well. When I first heard news of Rubicon, the early synopsis didn’t wow me very much, but I knew that it had to be quality stuff to be broadcast alongside Draper and Co’s flagship.

Rubicon is a conspiracy show. That’s why I didn’t initially think much of it; I hold almost no interest in conspiracies, and have little respect for theorists thereof. The fact that this story is about an actual conspiracy doesn’t really assuage my disdain for it, as it only bolsters the mindset. Still, it’s a good drama aside from that and there are some likable characters in it. Will Travers, played by some guy I’ve seen in other things that I can’t place, is a supposed genius intelligence analyst who discovers a conspiracy involving his place of employment and some large corporations. He gets help with his theorizing from several people who are probably a lot smarter than him (smart enough to protect themselves), including an older guy named Kale who seems pretty cool. Will’s small team of analysts has some kind of entertaining sub-plots, and were occasionally fun to watch and maybe care about. His secretary’s hot but pretty one-dimensional. The baddies are made to be a little less ominous than they could have been while being kept on the outskirts of the drama.

The main nit-picks I have with it mostly involve Will’s behavior in the context of him supposedly being really smart. This may be my own fault, as I often think of myself as intelligent and thus compare Will’s actions to what I would do in his situation. Every time he needlessly confronts someone who’s following him or messes with a bug in his room I yell at the TV “DON’T DO THAT! You’re just calling attention to yourself!” I have to remind myself that I really don’t know anything about espionage and would probably screw up a lot more than he does.

It’s a “cerebral” show. That means stuff doesn’t happen very much, but it’s supposed to make you think. Therefore, the majority of it is pretty boring for someone who doesn’t care about what the characters seem so worried about all the time. It picks up a bit near the end though. I can’t complain about the quality of the acting or the cinematography; it’s all skillfully done. I guess it’s just not the kind of show I like. Bring on the zombies.

18 October 2010



Remember when you first got on the internet, and you got warned about those hot girls/guys in chat rooms who are actually fat old dudes? Turns out that actually happens, and the circumstances can be stranger than you might think.

Catfish is what appears to be a completely true, non-acted documentary about a photographer who gets involved in a virtual relationship with a family of seemingly wonderful, talented people, and slowly starts uncovering the truth behind the facade. It’s pretty odd that they just happened to be filming this stuff while it wasn’t yet apparent what was going on, but not so odd that it’s entirely unbelievable. As the deception unfolds it seems to become more and more sinister; the editing often gives it a thriller-like feeling, especially in dark driving scenes.

It’s a bit hard to really give a good synopsis of this movie because of what it is. I’ve probably already written too much. If you don’t intend to ever see it then you can probably find a more thorough summary lying around somewhere. I think what the filmmakers ended up creating is a kind of essay on the strangeness of human desire for a life other than that which he or she has been given, and the sadness of broken hopes. It’s not really a depressing movie but it certainly isn’t a feel-good story.

All in all it’s a film quite different from anything I’ve seen before, and I recommend it.

10 October 2010

Never Let Me Go


Ever seen The Island? Remember how much it sucked? Well, it wasn’t because of the concept that it was a failure, it was the director’s fault. Good ol’ Michael Bay. Anyway, this movie is basically The Island taken out of its obviously sci-fi genre and inserted into an alternate timeline in Europe where human cloning has been legalized and exploited in a similar, but much more horrifying fashion. It’s not at all what it looks like on the surface.

Instead of the luscious Scarlett Johansson we get treated to Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan, who are both much better actresses than Scarlett, and not at all hard to look at. Ewan McGregor is replaced by Andrew Garfield, the soon-to-be Spider-Man. He does a pretty fantastic job too. The story is that somewhere in the 1950s, we figured out how to clone humans and use them as organ banks, in a way defeating a host of deadly diseases by creating a much more efficient donor program. This is of course kind of horrible, especially since it seems that the clones are quite human and capable of living normal lives; however, the donor program keeps them separated from normal society and indoctrinates them with the belief that their fatal destiny is their only option and the right thing to do. It’s obvious though that this conditioning starts to wear off as they get older, although they also seem resigned to it.

The story focuses on two girls and a boy in a strange love triangle; in and of itself it would just make a tolerable romantic drama, but in the context of this tragic doom-fest it’s heart-wrenching. The ethical question of whether clones have souls becomes a stupid one as the story progresses; these are obviously full-fledged humans, they’re just a little weird because the other humans have forced them to be so. They just choose to disregard it so they can keep living. It’s a very sad story.

As a movie itself it’s very well done. There’s some touching cinematography, a poignant score, and excellent acting throughout. It is a little odd how it’s so explicitly divided into the traditional three acts, but I don’t think it’s a detriment.

I don’t think I could see something like this really happening. That might just be because it hasn’t yet, but I suppose things like slavery and whatnot make pretty close precedents.

09 October 2010

Lost Highway


I saw two movies today. One was good and one was terrible. I’m going to write about the latter first because it’s more fun.

I’ve seen a number of films by David Lynch, as well as the TV show Twin Peaks. Everything except the pile of excrement known as Dune was either tolerable or enjoyable, and always disturbing; It has been a while since the last time I watched one though, so I decided to give one of the few remaining on my list a go. I didn’t really know anything about it, and I think I know why now. Nobody wants to watch this movie.

It seems to be about some jazz musician guy with wife-problems that don’t make any sense. He starts getting video tapes in his mail containing evidence of some weirdo spying on him, and then he apparently meets the guy who seems to have the power of multi-presence and white face-makeup. Then he somehow gets framed for killing his wife, goes to jail, has his face melted, and turns into some biker kid who ends up having sex with a mob-girl who looks a lot like the first guy’s wife. She of course is using him for something that’s never really explained, and then weird shit happens and the first guy’s back and his wife was actually a pornographic actress and he kills the mob boss. Creepy guy comes back and says weird things too, and the jazz musician drives off while trailed by cop cars and melts his face again.

What the hell Lynch? Was this supposed to make any sense at all? And seriously man, was the Marilyn Manson cameo necessary? Why the hell was Rammstein included in the soundtrack? I DON’T UNDERSTAND. To top off all this tomfoolery, it’s also one the most boring movies I’ve ever seen. Every scene is slow and often seemingly pointless. The only thing that kept me from turning it off was the helpful presence of a couple of friends who joined me in mocking it throughout the two-hour fifteen-minute run.

I remember Mulholland Drive being weird and confusing too, but I also remember liking it. I wonder if I watched it again whether I would think the same of it. I think I’m better off not finding out.

03 October 2010

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia seasons 3-5


Season 3 was really good, much like Season 2. It pretty much took the second season and just kept going, except it was funnier somehow. I can’t remember much specifically though. Season 4 was good, but it felt more like a chore to me; I think the problem was the Gang’s shenanigans got just a little too brutal, as pictured in above in the episode “The Gang Gets Extreme: Home Makeover Edition,” in which they kidnap a hispanic family and destroy their home while somehow thinking this is a good thing. Sure they’re stupid, but it’s just a little bit too unbelievable to stay funny and just becomes horrific.

Season 5 was better than 4, but I don’t think it quite recovered enough to make me love it again. There were some great moments and some not so great ones. It was still a bit of a chore to get through it. I can’t really think of anything interesting to write about it.

Then there was the Christmas special, which was amazing. It was good to finally hear them let out a few F-bombs and push the disgust-boundary without resorting to torture. It was also nice to learn a bit more about Charlie and Mac’s childhoods; the extras on the DVD contained a few short scenes of kid actors depicting stuff they had talked about before, and they were pretty hilarious/touching. I wish the whole show was this good.

Now I’m hearing rumblings that the new season airing now kind of sucks so far. I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

02 October 2010

Let Me In


You might have heard about Let the Right One In a year or two ago when every movie critic ever was putting it on their Top 10 lists. Or maybe here. I’s a fantastic movie, but it’s Swedish, so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t in any major US theaters, and therefore most people around these parts didn’t go see it, which is a huge shame. Thankfully though some cool people saw it and decided that more people should at least see some version of the story, so they made Let Me In. The title is supposedly a better translation of the book’s title but I don’t know Swedish so I can’t be sure. (update: the phrase "Let the right one in" is apparently from a Morrissey song. I need to check  that guy's stuff out sometime. I guess they just changed the title to make it more appealing.)

I already wrote briefly about the story in my review of the original, so I’m going straight to the part that everyone who has seen that one wants to hear: how it stacks up. As the concept of the movie being remade was introduced, it was often said that it’s not really a remake but a re-adaptation of the book; as I haven’t read it I can’t be sure, but there are differences which make me think that might be accurate. The tone is slightly different but it definitely seems like Matt Reeves was trying to capture the essence of the original film.

The biggest difference is the addition of a detective in the place of a bumbling local whose motive of revenge leads him to investigate the strange situation. Aside from the motive itself though the only real difference is that one of the detective’s scenes is basically repeated as a flashback in the beginning of the film; his role as a character is very limited, which is as it should be. I don’t think I like it any more or less than the other version.

The most obvious changes behind the detective are the two scenes where Abby/Eli’s protector/familiar goes out to do his thing. This time they are much more action-heavy, and both involve cars instead of walking in the snow or school gymns. They’re done very well and Richard Jenkins does a fantastic job as usual. The action element is really stepped up in every scene requiring it, but not in a bad way at all. The previews make it seem like the movie has become some sort of B-grade action-horror movie but that’s just to get people to watch it. I personally think that was a bad move.

Aside from that, it’s a very similar movie with very similar dialogue and message. Some of the iconic scenes are extended a little bit and don’t suffer for it. Some scenes are slightly less-good and others are done better, as they are more suited to a higher-budget movie. Chloe Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee both put on stunning performances. There were of course a number of moments where their delivery of the lines made me cringe a little, but I don’t think I would have if I had seen this movie first. Perhaps they could have made the translation a little less literal, I don’t know. I had a few small gripes with Chloe’s physical performance but not enough to overshadow the rest of it; she did a really good job, cementing her as my favorite child actor right now. I mean, this is Hit-Girl and Eli? That’s a freakin’ resume right there. Kodi was in The Road too which makes me like him straight off the bat, and his role here doesn’t hurt at all.

The only real problem I had with it was the CGI. There was some in the Swedish version, and I don’t think it was that great there either, but for this one they basically took the original as a guide and magnified its faults. Abby’s transformation to vampire-mode is slightly more drastic and therefore less believable. Thankfully though it doesn’t happen any more often and can be overlooked pretty easily.

As a final judgment I have to say that it doesn’t quite match the Swedish movie’s greatness, but it’s still a very good movie and very much worth seeing. If you haven’t seen the first one, I highly recommend checking this one out while it’s still in theaters; I don’t think it will last very long since it was advertised so poorly. Even if you have seen Let the Right One In it’s a worthy watch.