30 November 2010
Back in January, a band called Shining released an album that had me hooked from the first note. I thought it couldn’t be topped. Amazingly though, it seems 2010 had even more to offer. I first heard of Kvelertak on MetalSucks, a rather fantastic music blog which has been a great resource for me lately. The first thing to catch my interest was not the review itself, but the awesome John Dyer-Baizley artwork. I’ve been a fan of his since Baroness’ Red Album (Baizley is a member of the band); his visual touch has since been a near-perfect indicator of quality behind the cover. Sure enough, this new Norwegian band has created a monolith of feel-good genre-fusion extremely worthy of the lustrous illustration John so graciously/profitably contributed.
The band’s debut opus is an immensely cohesive mixture of punk, hard rock, rock ‘n’ roll, and Norway’s specialty, black metal. I’m actually quite surprised how well it works. I guess it might not be quite as infectious if the black metal part was more prominent; for the most part it’s relegated to the vocal section, while popping up once in a while amongst the riffing. I do suspect however that the screechy voice is what will hold this back from becoming a truly prominent album. There are tons of people who simply can’t stand that sort of thing, and I pity them for it. As far as these go, they’re not the best extreme-metal vocals ever, but hardly weak by any stretch. Combined with a few folk-metal tinged choruses and gang-vocals, the screeches fall into place better than any punk-rocker’s marble-mouth I’ve ever heard. Even though the lyrics are all in Norse, it’s easy to envision the folkloric fantasies and bar-stool anthems held within them.
Every track is a blood-pumping thrill-ride. I can’t count the number of times I’ve listened through this in my car; it’s just so perfect for keeping up-beat during such a frequently boring commute. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t really heard enough of the more traditional genres it’s drawing from, but this just seems so new to me. I feel like everyone should like this. Unfortunately there doesn’t yet seem to be any official US distribution, it’s $25 to import on Amazon, and it’s not on US iTunes (yet another reason for me to hate it). I think the majority of Kvelertak’s fans probably haven’t spent a dime on their listening pleasure. However, the band itself is pretty cool with that from what I’ve heard. They’re just jazzed that people dig it, which makes me like them even more.
Feast your eyes and ears on MJØD (which I think means beer, lemme check… close. Mead.) A little warning though, it might be not be quite safe for work or whatever.
It’s all like that. I hope you can agree that this is completely awesome.
29 November 2010
So I probably wasn’t going to ever see this movie, but it looked like it might not suck, and my attempts at spontaneity kind of made it the only option when we got to the theater on Saturday night. The selling points for me were Disney’s attempt to bring back their old character style in the new medium of CGI, and the casting of Zachary Levi (Chuck) as the voice of the male protagonist.
The story of course is that of Rapunzel and her ridiculously long hair. As I recall though the hair wasn’t really magical in the original story. Here it’s given the power of glowiness and healing/rejuvenation, which is what makes the old hag keep her locked up. I can’t remember what her reason was before. Anyhow, Prince Charming isn’t a prince, instead a bit more of an antihero with a heart of gold and all that, pulling out the parkour and the fake skate-boarding at every turn. We also have an intensely annoying sentient horse playing an antagonist-turned-good-guy, and some evil twins. We follow goldie-locks and Sean White through an adventure filled with emotional turmoil, misunderstood ruffians, natural disasters and familial stress, always accompanied by generic Disney musical numbers, the majority of which made me want to leave the theater.
That’s the problem I have with these things now; Pixar has spoiled me with great movies devoid of cheesy and unnecessary musical bits, and usually good characters and story. In this film, Disney seems to be clinging to the crappier bits of their legacy and not really forging any new ground. I suppose it might be entertaining for its target demographic, but I’m decidedly not a part of that anymore.
That said, the 3D aspect was pretty well done, and I did like the majority of the characters’ visual design. So that’s what I can say about it; It’s pretty, but mostly lame.
21 November 2010
In 2003, some dude named Aaron Ralston made some stupid decisions. He felt invincible in his youth, physical capability, and knowledge of the terrain he was visiting, and felt no need to tell anyone that he was setting off alone into a rocky wilderness. This film is about how stupid he was. However, it’s not just about that; it’s also about emotional reflection and the human desire to survive.
James Franco plays Aaron the thrill-seeker, dashing head-long into peril without much caution at all. He first meets up with a couple babes who’ve lost their way and has a joyous time with them for a while in a subterranean pond, then sets off to “Blue John” to do something I guess, it’s never really clarified. It doesn’t matter anyway since he never gets there. While navigating a narrow passage he dislodges a rather large rock which pins his arm to the side of the passage. He then goes through several stages of disbelief, situational analysis, despair, excitement, alternating manic/soulful reflection, and dire decision making while slowly losing precious water, but never his will to live.
I think it’s pretty common knowledge what happens next, so I’m just going to go ahead and say it. Dude cuts his arm off. With a pretty dull, cheap multipurpose tool, because he forgot to bring his Swiss Army knife. First he has to break his two arm-bones though, which is almost harder to watch than the cutting part; the sound wasn’t quite as sickening as I thought it might be, but it was very loud, giving a good idea of the pain he must have experienced. Even better though I thought was the sound made whenever he touched a nerve; I think it was something like a screeching electric guitar. Very evocative of sharp, searing pain. I’ve heard that the whole scene has made people faint; I didn’t have a problem with it but my viewing buddy said he had to cover his eyes for some bits.
The rest of the movie was pretty awesome too. There were quite a few funny bits, like when he starts going a little nuts and does a mock talk-show with his portable camera, interviewing himself and pointing out what idiotic choices he had made to bring him to his situation. There was a frequent use of three-way split-screen to show all of the thoughts going through his mind, which worked quite well, and the music was pretty damn amazing. Aside from the technicality aspect though, the greatest part for me was the joy of finally extricating himself from the rock; for some reason I feel like I can relate to that sort of situation of being stuck and finally breaking free, but I don’t know why. It was just invigorating to see that small prison finally snap.
I haven’t read Aaron’s book, but I probably will at some point. It just seems like it would be thrilling. This movie certainly was. Hats off to Danny Boyle.
15 November 2010
Tommy Wiseau is an idiot. He got all of his writing and directorial ideas from softcore pornography, and though it was a good idea to make a movie about this one time his girlfriend ditched him. At least that’s what I got out of this horrendous piece of unintentionally hilarious pig vomit.
I’m not alone in my opinion; along with Troll 2 and a few others, this is held pretty much universally as one of the worst movies ever made. I had to watch it though because it’s also hailed as being funny in its ineptitude, especially in the performance of the mastermind Tommy Wiseau himself. Tommy wrote, directed, and produced the feature, and I think he would have been fine with playing every part but had to settle with the protagonist because he doesn’t have boobs.
So the story, as far as I could tell, is about Jonny (Tommy), the perfect man. Jonny has no faults aside from being overly trusting and a little too philanthropic. No way is he a total douche. His girlfriend is a two-faced witch who lovingly fondles him in the two-hundred twenty-seven awkward sex scenes while repeatedly claiming to be bored and out of love with him in conversations with pretty much everyone else, such as her bitchy mother and Jonny’s best friend Mark, who she manages to seduce somehow. There’s also the very weird man-child Denny who is apparently a drug user and is in love with Jonny’s girl, Jonny himself, and some other girl who we never see. Anyway it can all be reduced to this: nobody appreciates Jonny and he kills himself because they all betray him.
If you’re not cracking up already I’ll explain why this is funny. Tommy Wiseau is a terrible actor with an accent that would put the Governator to shame. He forces his awkwardly constructed dialogue on his terrible cast in what I think is an attempt to make his own acting look better, but it fails. Tommy thinks the only way to introduce a character into a scene is by greeting them with a “Oh hi [name]!,” no matter what the situation. His emotional breakdowns consist of languidly pulling drawers out of dressers and haphazardly knocking pictures off of shelves. His best insult is badly imitating a chicken, and everyone else seems to think this is genius. His classic line “You are tearing me apart Lisa!” pretty much makes the movie.
I had some friends come over last night while I was watching it, and one of them kept referring to it as a “show,” because it really looks like a bad soap opera instead of a professionally filmed feature. Everything is bad; the sets, the cinematography, the editing, the acting, the dialogue, the music, and even the length of 100 minutes is too much. It’s kind of amazing that Tommy needed four million dollars to make this thing.
I need to watch a good movie now.
07 November 2010
Here’s another one of those comedies where most of the jokes are in the trailer. Not all of them though thankfully, and the ones that they left for the show are usually a bit more shocking than one might expect. I’m cool with that. I’m a big fan of both Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis (a name I simply can’t remember how to spell), so them in a road-movie comedy seemed like a good bet anyway.
I’ve heard a lot of people compare this to Planes Trains and Automobiles, a Steve Martin movie of which I think I’ve only seen a few minutes. If I recall correctly I tried watching it at one point and I just couldn’t handle the disaster-comedy vibe it had so I gave up on it very quickly. I’ve learned to deal with those a bit better now so it wasn’t a big deal. However, I can’t make any comparisons because I don’t know how it goes. Maybe I’ll check it out later.
Anyhows, it’s the story of a pretty up-tight dude who needs to get back to his wife in time for his first child to be born, and the intervention of Zach’s bumblingly needy character into his life, disrupting RDJ’s efforts in pretty much every way possible. It turns into a sort of high-damage slapstick with a lot of awkwardness mixed into the dialogue. The road-movie part of it was enjoyable but maybe not as much as I’d hoped, and it wasn’t really that easy to accept RDJ’s eventual (though somewhat begrudging) acceptance of Zach’s friendship after everything that he was subjected to. Still, it was a pretty fun ride with a few hilarious moments here and there. Not bad.