Saturday, February 27, 2010

This is cool

I don't really get it, but it is absolutely amazing.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Music I'm Listening to these days

I noticed I rarely post anything about music, so I thought I would simply post some bands I have been listening to lately. I am not quite as good at articulating my musical tastes as I am my film/video tastes but I will try to compare them to other bands. Although my taste is normally quite eclectic, I still think there is a lot of good music out there that I don't know and am open to anything, so please fill me in.

Muse - This band has a bad reputation, but I absolutely love them. Their new CD, The Resistance - has a few misses on it, but it starts with a power single that I'm sure most have heard on the radio. The next song is decent, but after that there are really solid rock and roll song after solid song. I really feel this song plays like a missing Queen CD (and I'm not just saying that because of the one note they hit about a minute into United States of Eurasia, although it definitely helps). It has that arena-rock sound along with some genuine musicality. The songs also seem to tell a story about America and how it is perceived. The CD ends with a 3 part symphony that is absolutely spectacular. I love when rock bands can play classical-type music and hardly miss a beat and Muse can do it. I really enjoy this CD, but then again, I've been a big fan of the band for the last 3 years or so.

The Airborne Toxic Event - I heard this band on the radio and was shocked at how good they were. They reminded me a bit of The Secret Machines and they were my favorite CD for 2004ish. Here is a link to some of their music on youtube. They really are a great band. They seem to have the ability to deconstruct a song which is something that I love. Many of their songs start with one instrument while the rest join in until a full song has been realized. I'm also proud of myself for realizing they took their name from a random book I read about 8 years ago, but that's just cleverness for cleverness sake.

Some other quick hits:
- The new Alice in Chains CD is surprisingly old-school. It sounds a lot like their CD Dirt from 1993ish, which is surprising considering they are doing this without their lead singer.
- Sigur Ros - Since coming back from Iceland I have been once again listening to this fantastic Icelandic band. It really doesn't matter that you don't know what they are singing about. Good music is universal. After all, I'm a huge Radiohead fan and I don't think I know any lyrics to their songs.
- I've been listening to the newest Shawn Smith CD called the Diamond Hand. For anyone that doesn't know him, he just has the world's most beautiful voice and I challenge anyone that has heard him to disagree. Listen to any of these songs. I can't vouch for their sound quality, but his CDs really feature his vocal talents.
- I also found Monsters of Folk on the radio and was impressed by their one song on the radio. I found out later they were a "Supergroup" consisting of M.Ward and some guys from My Morning Jacket. So far, they impress me, even if I've only heard 2 songs. The song I heard is Say please which you can listen to here
- I've also been listening to The Beatles. I'm addicted to the side B of Abbey Road. Ever since I played them back to back to back to back on Beatles Rock Band, I really can't listen to this enough. They really were the best and it's amazing that 4 men could create so much fantsatic music in such a short period of time.

As usual, that's not all I'm listening to, but this is some of the stuff I'm really enjoying. I hope my reader(s) do as well.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Oscars -- Do they matter?

We're about 2 weeks away from the Oscars and the crowning of the "Best Movie of 2009". As I usually do, I am trying to see all the movies that are nominated before the telecast so I can have my own opinion and then root for whatever I choose to root for. As of this writing I have seen 5 out of the 10 movies nominated for best picture. For those that would like a full look at what is nominated feel free to click here.

But with about 14 weeks until the Academy Awards are given out, I find myself asking Do they Matter? Now, of course they don't matter versus two wars the Americans are involved in and everyone's money problems in today's troubled economy. I'm even asking do they matter in the entertainment world?

It is rare that I think the best movie produced in a given year actually receives any awards for best picture. I loved Slumdog Millionaire last year when I saw it in the theater, but if I find it on HBO on a nightly basis, I will normally pass it by for pretty much anything. That does not take away any of the smiles I had while watching the movie the one time I've seen it, or how clever I found the main character (no I don't remember his name, and I don't want to look it up) and how he happened to learn all the answers to all the questions that were asked of him in his young life. It just means, that was not the best movie last year. While at the same time, I've watched Wall E and The Dark Knight at least 10 times and am sure I'll watch it again.

But looking forward to this year, I am trying to figure out what the movies that are nominated mean. There are now 10 movies that are nominated for Best Picture instead of 5. This is done mostly so more movies can put on their DVD box "Best Picture Nominated film" in order to generate more sales. But looking at the list of movies, I'm wondered what will win, and why it should/shouldn't.

I'm choosing (for the sake of space) to only cover what are perceived as the front-runners. I will be doing my favorites of 2010 post soon enough:

Avatar: A HUGE technological breakthrough of a film. It uses technology in a film in a way that hasn't been seen since the original Star Wars in 1977. Remember Star Wars was nominated for Best Picture and it lost to Annie Hall. A good movie in its own right, but nothing as revolutionary as Star Wars. It's difficult to say "Best Picture" about either of these films since they are so different it's almost like asking which band is better Guns N Roses or Run DMC. I'm sure many people that grew up in the 80s have an opinion of which band was better depending on if they like Rock music or Rap music. This is similar. Star Wars is a sci-fi opus using camera tricks, special effects and some generic "Hero's Journey" storytelling vs. Annie Hall's witty screenplay and discussion on adult relationships in the 1970s. Both movies have their audience and both are quite good, classics in fact. But besides the fact that they were released in the same year, it is very difficult to compare them.
Avatar is in a similar situation. Is the movie good, with huge special effects and a story about the rise of a hero? Yes. Does the movie tell a story we haven't seen before and won't see again? No. The movie is impressive and beautiful to look at. I'm sure I will watch it on cable again and again, and there will be numerous copy-cat movies soon. But again, is it the "Best Movie of the Year"?

Next up: The Hurt Locker - I saw this movie this weekend and it was amazing. It was not what I expected, and it showed me a side of the Iraqi war that I never thought about, or even knew about. It wasn't really a story of the war itself, but more of a character study on a person and what type of person chooses to go into what looks like hell to me, but to him it's all he cares about. This story is "important" in the same way Apocalypse Now or Platoon was about Vietnam. To me, it was one of the greatest anti-war movies I'd seen in a while. But that's because I don't want to get blown up while walking down the street. Other people have seen this movie and think it would be cool to go to war. After all, William loves it and goes back for seconds (or is it 3rds, or 4ths). The movie was well acted, and well done-- I have some problems with the director's choices in storytelling. Especially in the middle and at the end where it got jumbled, but overall I come back to the question of is this the best movie of the year?
Again, I think it is "important" in the sense that for people that don't know what has been going on in Iraq for about 7 years now (assuming most action in the movie is based on truth), this was good to see. Americans should see this movie to see how the war has effected the Iraqis as well as the soldiers that have been fighting. As far as a movie goes, there was confusion in how the story was presented at times, and although the special effects were great (the slo-mo bomb going off), and the intensity of the action was amazing I keep coming back to the fact that the story was jumbled and rushed at the end. There could have been many scenes that were cut and we would have had the same impact if only we could have really seen the end of Will's tenure at Bravo and more his decision to return to Delta group. This would have made for a more-effective story and as a result, there are some flaws.

Which brings me to Inglourious Basterds: I found this almost perfect. This was almost 5 films in 1 and each were fun, intense, engrossing and I only have one minor gripe with the entire film. (The theater owner had to make a film of herself laughing for about 20 minutes to get the effect of the smokey Giant Face, and I just couldn't see her doing this). This movie is well acted, almost perfectly written, you find new things in it each time it is watched (I'm assuming, I've only watched it once so far). But it is a work of fiction. Tarantino rewrites how World War II endeed in the movie. It is not "Important" like The Hurt Locker, or groundbreaking like Avatar. But it is solid from beginning to end. Of course many people have a problem with the violence in Tarantino films and that is a strike against it as well (even though I have submitted that almost all the violence in Tarantino films is off-screen, and mostly in the viewer's own head which makes it even worse than if it was on screen in the first place, but i digress...)

Next is District 9 which was absolutely amazing on numerous levels. This movie actually has everything the above movies has. It is groundbreaking with the use of special effects and how one actor played the role of all of the prawns in the film. It is groundbreaking in the use of special effects that were used and although the effects are not quite as good as Avatar's, the are quite good in their own right especially when you consider it was made for a fraction of the cost of Avatar. It is "Important" in the sense that the way the Humans have enslaved the prawns and thrown them in the ghettos of South Africa is an amazing allegory for Apartheid and discrimination throughout history for anyone that has been 'different' than the majority throughout time. It was amazingly acted and I can find no holes in the story. The only problem the movie seems to have is the open-ended ending which leaves us with a possibility of a sequel.

So how do you choose? What is the Best Picture? Sure I have my favorites, and pretty much all 4 of these gets some consideration as my favorites of the year, and sure only one movie can win the prize. I guess it just upsets me that if one wins that means the majority has chosen X as the movie of the year, when really in truly, they all have their own positives and negatives.

Of course all this could be changed by me seeing Precious or A Serious Man and believing those are the best, but from what I can see Avatar, and the Hurt Locker are the front runners and one of these will mostl likely be crowned the victor. I just added the others to show a conflicting opinion and why some of these should be considered.

What do you all say? In the end, I believe the Oscars are just another money-making scheme for people that have a lot more money than I do or than I will every have. So, to them my opinion really doesn't matter at all. I'm just a guy with an internet connection and a keyboard. So the answer to my title question is simple: Yes, just not for you.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Time to put some money on the cubbies in 5 years!

I stumbled across this article on predictions that Back to the Future 2 got correct:
Click here for the link

For those that don't know. Back tot he Future 2 came out in 1990 and in the movie they traveled to the seemingly far-away year of 2015. That is close, and people are looking at the technology advancements they made in the movie and checking to see how close we are today. Although flying cars and hoverboards still seem like the future, some of the other things are possible. Take a look at the link for a fun game of comparing and contrasting. And if the Cubs win the world series in 2015, I will be rich!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I just came across this article on Roger Ebert. I knew some of his sickness, and cancer of the salvitory glands, but I had no idea the extent the disease(s) had taken on him. This article is sad and tender. I've been a fan of Ebert since watching their show every Saturday afternoon when I was a kid. This continued on until At the Movies... was shown late Sunday nights and I started to develop my own tastes for movies. As you may know about me, movies are important to me. No, I can't tell you why, I guess I just love the escape and the numerous devices that can be used to tell a story.

Everyone sided more with either Siskel or Ebert. I usually went with Ebert, but I also remember I was genuinely sad when Siskel died in 1999. I even remember I was waiting on a line of a ski lift when my father told me. But Ebert was still alive, so I was happy. I've since read a few of his books and listened to his commentary for the movie Dark City about as many times as I've watched the movie itelf (about 5). If you are a fan of them man, or not this article is touching story of someone who has given his life to the art of movies and I think has helped guide them into being what they have become today. Enjoy this article and keep your thumbs up at all times.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Jimmy Fallon's Lost Parody

Jimmy Fallon did a Lost parody that he is calling Late. It's decent. I like some of the music they use and some simple Lost conventions he parodies. It's not the best thing in the world, but it's worth watching if you have 10 minutes to spare:

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Did anyone besides me like the show Reaper?

I really enjoyed that show. It reminded me of Buffy, Sock always made me laugh and don't get me started on the perfection of Ray Wise as the devil. Since Twin Peaks, Ray Wise is always so perfectly evil and you could see how much fun he was having on Reaper.

Well, the show ended too early (like many shows do) and some reporter/blogger person sat down with the creators and got some information out of them as to what would have happened if the show continued. They also have some fun annecdotes about the cast and who almost got the part of the devil (Anthony Stewart Head).

Enjoy this peak behind a fun little show that didn't get the opportunity to tell its entire story.