Wednesday, August 31, 2011

10 Best Things of August 2011

This month ended on a sour note. Best wishes to those also affected by Hurricane Irene.

1. Rifftrax Live Event

"Seize the bone!". Probably my absolute favorite event they have done.

2. MST3K Gamera

Shout Factory ips, unite!

3. Louie, "Oh Louie, Tickets"

Dane Cook and Louie C.K. = Masterpiece of television.

4. UFC heads to Fox

Some much needed validation for MMA.

5. Secret Six calls it quits at Issue #36

One of my favorites is put to pasture for the DC relaunch. A great run by Gail Simone.


Japanese pro wrestling promotions come together for charity.

7. Saints Row: The Third Trailers

Keeping with the pro wrestling feel, this much anticipated sequel had a great trailer where evil luchadors unleash hell. If that didn't sell me, there is a Tron gang.

8-9. Retsupurae Double Feature

Two of the absolute best videos from the Something Awful crew.

10. Ghost Rider 2 Trailer

You sold me just with the peeing fire.

My Tops of 2011 - August

WAITING FOR FOREVER. My god, this movie was madness. Richard Jenkins' talent can't make up for the horrendously awful childhood stalker love story and brain-dead characters.

MARS NEEDS MOMS lived up to its hype as a bomb. Too insanely bad for adults, too dark for kids. Overall depressing and pointless with an awful performance by Dan Fogler.

THE SMURFS wasn't as bad as I thought it would be but it was still pretty bad. The lame human storylines, the bipolar annoying and stupid/cute and brave Smurfs, and that horrible Guitar Hero scene were all atrocious.

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES had a great mo-cap performance by Andy Serkis and a surprisingly good and entertaining script. Its bait and switch finale works though it might annoy others while Freida Pinto was completed wasted.

BEATS, RHYMES, & LIFE: THE TRAVELS OF A TRIBE CALLED QUEST was very original and blazingly bombastic, especially at the beginning, but loses steam with its Behind the Music second half.

Best Films of 2011

1. Bridesmaids

2. Rango

3. The Tree of Life

4. Source Code

5. Super 8

6. X-Men: First Class

7. The Green Hornet

8. Paul

9. Thor

Worst Films of 2011

1. Passion Play

2. Waiting For Forever

3. Mars Needs Moms

4. Battle: Los Angeles

5. Atlas Shrugged

6. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

7. Scream 4

8. Gnomeo and Juliet

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Looking Back at Summer, Forward to Fall

Overall, the summer was simply okay. Many franchises are now stuck in neutral (Cars 2, The Hangover 2), or crashed (Green Lantern).

Here are the highlights I'm expecting to see in some way while playing catch up on previous 2011 releases at my local art theater or on DVD:

September 9 brings the first hyped-up feel good sports film, Warrior. Because nothing says the love of family then pounding your brother in a MMA cage.

September 16th has the next further star-building block for Ryan Gosling with Drive, along with the at least curious remake of Straw Dogs.

October 7th is the premiere of Rock'Em Sock'Em Rob...I mean Real Steel, as well as another Gosling sighting with the political thriller The Ides of March. Though I do feel that Clooney's film isn't going to be as exciting as his previous directing affairs.

October 14th has the second battle of 80's remakes with The Thing and Footloose while Pedro Almodovar's latest The Skin I Live In reaches art theaters. The producers for the first two films are probably crapping bricks with what happened in August.

October 21st...another Paranormal Activity,...zzz...Red State...zzz...Three Muske...zzz...oh wait! Martha Marcy May Marlene finally comes out. Yes, more John Hawkes action and the breakthrough performance of Elizabeth Olsen.

November 11th brings the crazy auteurs with Tarsem Singh's Immortals and Lars von Trier's Melancholia. Clint Eastwood makes another boring movie with J. Edgar and...oh god, Jack and Jill comes out. Sweet Christmas!

November 25th has a massive triple threat of the peculiar Martin Scorsese film Hugo, critically acclaimed foreign film The Artist, and the long-awaited Muppets movie called The Muppets.

December 16th is only noted for the purely Oscar bait for Meryl Streep with The Iron Lady and Noomi Rapace's American debut with Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. I might simply just skip both.

December 23th has the heavily hyped The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo remake and The Adventures of Tintin. Also, there's is the gloriously great/awful sci-fi b-movie The Darkest Hour.

December 30th has Steven Spielberg Round 2 with War Horse. Sadly, sans theatrical puppets.

Best Actors of the Year...So Far

Since I'm on a roll with 2011 overviews, I decided to discuss about the actors who brought the absolute best in movies this year.

Best Actor

Oh man, this is going to be hard. Not to say that there were no great acting in main male roles all year, far from it. It's just that there is a rare few who stood completely out. Not a lot of big star-making roles, besides of course Chris Hemsworth in Thor, nor any clear locked-on favorites for myself. Michael Fassbender in X-Men: First Class was a sheer joy with his gray morality and menacing gaze, so he probably will be my top contender for now. Brad Pitt was also exceptional in The Tree of Life, but he could have been a little better. Paul Giamatti in Win Win, like the movie, is a true dark horse in the competition. Rutger Hauer shouldn't be excluded for his performance in Hobo With a Shotgun, nor should Abhishek Bachchan in Dum Maaro Dum. Though others may disqualify him, Andy Serkis deserves special mention for his performance as the motion captured Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Best Actress

Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids, hands down. This is the first performance that came to mind that also has stayed on my mind this year. She is going to face heavy competition in the next four months but I suspect there might be a surprise Oscar nomination down the road. Her other tough opponents: Jessica Chastain's earthy mother, or is she the representation of Gaea?, in the surreal and moving The Tree of Life. Elle Fanning as the public pariah tomboy in Super 8. Amy Ryan as the no-nonsense matriarch in Win Win. Jennifer Lawrence's take as the future Mystique in X-Men: First Class. Also, Amber Heard's underrated badass role in Drive Angry.

Best Supporting Actor

One of the hardest working and constantly under the radar, William Fichtner was the absolute man as The Accountant in Drive Angry. Competing in scenery-chewing but slightly losing to Fichtner is Kevin Bacon's brilliantly hammy role in X-Men: First Class. A fellow comic book player, Tom Hiddleston handled his role as Loki very well in Thor.

Best Supporting Actress

Like her fellow co-star, Melissa McCarthy was the best and the true show-stopper as Megan in Bridesmaids. She is currently the unstoppable queen in this department.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Best Songs of 2011...So Far

Now for what I feel are the best, whether in there sheer greatness in originality or, you know, make me want to dance or move to it. You know, like what music should be doing regardless of genre.

I'm still surprised that I didn't include any songs from Lady Gaga. None of them really worked with me.

The Lonely Island Featuring Michael Bolton "Jack Sparrow"

I have stayed away from SNL for some time now, hence why it seems like I'm the only person who loves Kristen Wiig's acting. However, a rare time where it was playing background for me featured another one of their viral-intended videos. And it greatly worked. "Jack Sparrow" makes me nostalgic for those movie theme songs that ruled the day while being a phenomenal satire of them as well as rap music. Bolton is perfect.

Adele "Rolling in the Deep"

Would have been my definitive favorite if it wasn't performed, covered, featured, mocked, over-played everywhere. A crowning achievement for music today.

Foster the People "Pumped Up Kicks"

The indie hit of the year is always soothing despite its dark material. The edited version, which removes "gun" and "bullet", makes for some juvenile fun as listeners think the group is talking about their hidden member.

Nicki Minaj "Super Bass"

Probably the best pure pop song all year. It's bubble-gum aesthetic mixes well with Minaj's extensive voice overs and aggressive rapping.

LMFAO Featuring Lauren Bennett & GoonRock "Party Rock Anthem"

I'll get hell for this. When it came to dancing this year, this song was always my ice-breaker and/or show-stopper. Adapts the Black Eyed Peas musical approach but makes it actually fun to listen to.

Rihanna "S&M"

The most uncomfortable pop song this year, and that's why I like it. Rihanna continues to use her current media image for another song about the pleasures of pain.

Lupe Fiasco "The Show Goes On"

It's kinda cheesy but the repeating guitar segment and bombastic chorus gets to you and makes you feel like you can take the world head on.

Keri Hilson "Pretty Girl Rock"

I bash Beyoncé and her music, yet I really liked this? Possible double standard and questionable rhymes (Keri=very?) aside, I couldn't help but enjoy this true female empowerment song.

Worst Songs of 2011...So Far

With the small amount of interesting films coming out this month, my diversions of entertainment switched to other forms. The one field which dominated this month and the reason for this article was of course music, a type of art that I often don't like talking in person. Unlike say film, television, and video games, I feel that music discussion is way too personal for myself to express out loud, especially since it often seems that there's little room for an objective review of a song. It is largely you hate it or love it. You add it your iTunes or leave it to die on the radio.

So I decided to take a chance for some public reveals of my tastes. I'm going to go over what I feel are the best and worst songs that have stood out, performed well on the charts, and/or make me want to be yet another musical hipster or a commercial drone. However, I will also display some of my guilty pleasures and talk just why these unfortunate earworms warm me up.

Seether "Country Song"

An instant skip wherever you hear it. From its banal title to its generic rock structure, absolutely nothing works.

Bad Meets Evil Featuring Bruno Mars "Lighters"

Why is the chorus and the rest of the song so incompatible? Eminem and Royce da 5'9"'s rhymes are terrible with their crappy male bravado before Bruno Mars goes off on his own. This is the type of songs that "Jack Sparrow" was mocking.

Beyoncé "Run the World (Girls)"

I'll admit that Beyoncé is one of my most hated celebrities and artists today. But the sheer public failure of "Run the World (Girls)" made me proud of the American public. Yet another one of her pro-women song (Is there any difference between them?), Beyoncé auto-pilots through this undanceable trainwreck. Seemingly produced just to give school marching bands something to play during women sporting events.

Christina Perri "Jar of Hearts"

Ugh. Unlike the other "life sucks as a girl" songs that were popular this year, this is just desperate for sympathy points. Her boring charisma to her inane lyrics, Perri is a total washout. I rather cheer for her gigolo ex-boyfriend.

Steven Tyler "(It) Feels So Good"

One of the rare pop songs where a walking Karen Carpenter plastic doll proclaims how he likes scatological perversion in the chorus. Only a minor hit because of his American Idol role, this wouldn't have work even if it was released during the 90's.

Enrique Iglesias "Tonight (I'm Fucking You)"

At least he's upfront about it. Still, the song is annoying with its beep and bloops beat and Enrique's skeevy demeanour. A hero, he is not.

Jason Derulo "Don't Wanna Go Home"

A song that makes you wish you were watching the dance scene in Beetlejuice or listening to Robin S.'s "Show Me Love".

Hot Chelle Rae "Tonight Tonight"

A purely bad one hit wonder. Does anyone really want to get in the Hot Chelle Rae business? Say hi to Metro Station for me.

Bruno Mars "The Lazy Song"

The dumb whistling, name dropping P90X, and making a acoustic guitar jam? That is truly lazy. Yes, I realize the irony of the last sentence.

And now... My Guilty Pleasures:

New Boyz Featuring The Cataracs & Dev "Backseat"

"Like a G6" Part Two. The sex talk and the "I'm awesome" douchiness are so laughable, I can't stay mad at it.

Katy Perry Featuring Kayne West "E.T."

I hate, loathe, despise the Kayne West guest segments and I easily spotted the plagiarized "We Will Rock You" beat. Still, I can't help enjoy Perry's space pop theme.

Rebecca Black "Friday"

An obvious choice.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Beats, Rhymes, & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest - Review

It is a bit sad that one of the few remaining venues of seeing, experiencing, and listening to hip-hop is the movie theater. Here, you can enter into the tranquil music while being thrilled by the ego-driven chicanery of an once great ensemble. BEATS, RHYMES, & LIFE is a bombastic look at the stilted lifespan of hip-hop giants A Tribe Called Quest but Michael Rapaport's exciting directorial skills fall by the wayside when you get to the deep cuts of the film.

With eccentric animated interludes, deliberate focus pulls, and 3D Ken Burns effects, the story of the group's creation to its early successes is a pure joy. Members Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and brief resident Jarobi White all receive breathing room to express their joie de vivre and their own personal hobbies. The then-reigning popularity of gangsta rap is purposely left off to squander any outside talk of beef, which obviously will come later within the ranks. Once Rapaport gets to this point, the documentary turns into all-out talking heads and shockingly mirrors THIS IS SPINAL TAP way too closely; A failed tour, heated arguments between the two singers, and an epilogue in Japan all come to past. I was eagerly waiting to see middle child Muhammad spontaneously combust in the background of Q-Tip and Phife's constant bickering.

The film's second half is honestly interesting, despite once again displaying that rap feuds are extremely trivial and dependent on easily-hurt egos. Phife Dawg is seemingly fitted the little brother role, abused and scarred by his diabetic lifestyle and personal addiction to sugar. He refused to accept Q-Tip's insults and dominating control as the group's poster child and head savant. Q-Tip, dressed to the trims in his interviews as a distinguished gentleman, is suited as the doc's "villain". He often comes across as a robot, seeking perfection to the nth degree and unaware of/doesn't believe in Phife's arguments against him. Though I can understand Q-Tip's frustrations with Phife, an escalated fight during the 2008 Rock the Bells Tour clearly shows his fundamental inner flaws and overall ugliness.

Rapaport clearly has talent behind the camera, able to bond easily with his film subjects and showcase them as real, intelligent people. He is graced with many genuine human moments, such as Q-Tip's geeking over the origins of the single "Can I Kick It?" An air of freshness and luscious originality sadly is brief here before turning into a fan-made Behind the Music episode. Still, whether to see what A Tribe Called Quest was all about or as an aware observer, you can't go wrong with one of the better documentaries this year.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Waiting for Forever - Review

Okay, seriously, where's the punchline? Where is it? Really, none? This film tries to make a big statement about how life gives you "punchlines" but where is its own? I was very much expecting to see "Directed by Mel Brooks" as the very first credit after this unbelievably psychotic reel of film ended. WAITING FOR FOREVER is the first independent romantic comedy I've seen that flats out says that Rebecca Schaeffer should have given Robert John Bardo a chance at love.

It is disturbingly inept how everyone who worked on this movie didn't second guess anything written by Steve Adams. We are supposed to cheer, cheer an unemployed, barely beyond novice-level juggler (Tom Sturridge) who wears pajamas all the time to finally get his childhood sweetheart (Rachel Bilson). A love so powerful that he stalked her all over the entire Western Coast just to be constantly around her own life. Documenting every near-miss with extensive details and looking back at their memories as kids repeatedly when he is not talking aloud in open space. This pure nightmare fuel shouldn't have made passed the development stage, let alone the first draft. Adams seemingly couldn't accept reason and true understanding so he decided to mock his detractors' arguments with many throwaway scenes and even brought in another mentally imbalanced individual to woo the stiff and shallow woman. All of this and director James Keach and his five other producers were gung-ho to film this application for the insane asylum?

Oh, the horrors of contractual arraignments and performing when the material is maddening to behold. It is very sad that the several supporting players, all of them very talented, can't numb the absolute pain delivered. They try to hide the colossal negatives and expand the positives, mainly their own side stories and brief sequences. It could have been interesting to instead watch a movie of a talentless actress expertly playing a talentless actress who comes home to experience the final stages of her parents' decaying and disease-ridden marriage. Richard Jenkins and Blythe Danner truly waste their expert talents, especially Jenkins who defies his dying body to strangulate a suitor hard when he hurts his daughter in a refreshing scene. But Keach and Adams don't like gravitas and real emotions, only more moments of deranged love affairs.

From the sheer absurdity of being heavily sentimental to its misogynistic portrayal of women being aloof dullards, WAITING FOR FOREVER is total carnage to a person's mental well-being. You sit there viewing two awful actors, most notably Sturridge, performing from a deadly script with no wink or nudge to its moral shortcomings. If this story ended up being the dream of a pretty boy clown in a padded room, this would have the best horror film of the year. Sorry, no such luck and no punchline.