Wednesday, September 30, 2009

new to me

some great bands i've just discovered

florence + the machine

she's got a bit of a tori amos/bat for lashes vibe about her. a bit of kate bush as well.


on art brut's latest album they have a song about discovering the replacements.
i could write the same song about this band, seriously how did i not know about them until now?
that song is far more accessible than the rest of their stuff i've heard so far...
fucking brilliant music though.

new young pony club

cutesy synth pop with sexuality. i dig it.

brandon patton

he's a member of mc frontalot's band. his newer stuff is more exciting than this song, not that this song is bad or anything, just be sure go to his website, and check out the song rockets.


a folk punk band with a lot of influences from middle eastern and indian music, it's quite interesting, a bit like gogol bordello i suppose. this is my life is a song you must hear.

thar be wild things here

i've been excited about this movie for years. how great is it, that spike jonze got a hold of it?

to tide us all over until it finally gets released stereogum has the soundtrack up and streaming.
definitely worth checking out.


despite what this trailer would have you believe, a majority of the film is in french. i posted it instead of the one in french, because it seems a lot from that trailer didn't make it into the finished film.
and now on to the review.

holy shit.
i mean, holy fucking shit.
i loved this movie.
it was advertised as a action comedy, a plot involving jean-claude as himself, an aging, down on his luck actor that get's mixed up in a robbery, and the cops assuming he's the one robbing the bank.
so i put in my queue,because it thought it might be zany and fun. and while there is a lot of comedic moments, that's not what it's about, it's not what i took away. and the only action scene was the opening when he was filming an action movie.
so yes, i was suspecting something lighthearted and fun, instead it's something i still have a hard time coming to grasps with, jean-claude van damme ripped my heart out. as an actor, he touched me emotionally, it's amazing, and i love him for it.
so this movie is mostly him being uncomfortable with his fame, and just him as a human.
the comedy comes from his fans, one of the bank robbers is a huge fan and just hangs out with him, there's a scene where van damme is feeding the bank robbers ideas the villains in his movies used, so it's kind of funny, but most of it was intense and stressful, these people are being held at gun point. meanwhile outside there's a media frenzy, because hey a stars snapped, and fans have showed up to say they still love him. it's goofy but not unrealistic. the scene that makes this all work is this six minute speech jean-claude gives, while sitting there with the other hostages, he levitates above the set, and gives this heart wrenching story of who he his, and how he feels.

just damn.
i love his existential crisis.
his dream came true, and yet he feels it's a hollow existence, he knows he hasn't changed the world in any meaningful way.

and there's something just great about an action star talking about how life is too beautiful to waste.

van damme aside, i was impressed with the movie itself. the action scene at the beginning is fun, the soundtrack is amazing, the colours, the way it's paced. it honestly makes me quite sad the directors first movie virgil, isn't available on netflix.

other than the speech, another great scene is near the end when the s.w.a.t. team comes in and jean-claude is taken hostage by one of the robbers, the film kind of skips and van damme uses some awesome karate moves to take down the guy, the crowd cheers and he high fives the s.w.a.t. guys, hilarious. then it goes back to the reality, nothing near as elegant or fun.
also the very end, while predictable was quite cute, and left the movie with the right tone.

the only other thing i can say about this movie is watch it for yourself, seriously.

five out of five

Friday, September 25, 2009

the fountain

this is a very visual movie.
i mean, i know movies are a visual medium, but here it's not only a character it seems to be the driving force of the movie, it is the movie.
so three different stories, one about a conquistador looking for the tree of life, one about a doctor that is searching for a cure for cancer (using rare jungle trees!) and the third is about some far out astronaut in a bubble with a tree that he's awfully affectionate with.
oh yes, and all three of these men are played by hugh jackman!

it takes awhile to get used to watching this movie and suss out what's going on, but here's the jist of it.
the conquistador is a story being written by the wife of the doctor, she has a brain tumor and is the main reason he's pushing himself so hard to find a cure. she's researching the book by learning about maya culture. she thinks it's neat they believe the orion nebula is the underworldbecause apparently there is a dying star inside the nebula and once it dies it will help create new stars. bringing new life through death, which is connected to the maya creation story, in this movie anyway.
and the major tom and his dying tree are physically off to this dying star to be given new life.

as for my interpretation, initially i thought perhaps the astronaut is just symbolic, a visual representation of the doctors quest through the movie. however given that this is a sci-fi and aronofsky said little of this is to be taken as just a symbol it is quiet possible that tom is in fact tommy the doctor. see in the course of his studies he finds a tree sample that at first didn't seem to cure the tumor, but instead made the the test monkey younger. eventually it did shrink the tumor but his wife was dead by then. "death is a disease and i'll cure it too!" his wife was ready to die, she was clam, collected, he wasn't ready to lose her. so had he really discovered the tree of life, then he would be the astronaut, which explains why he's haunted by the doctor's dead wife. as for the tree, it's possible it's from the seed he planted on her grave, but more likely he was just projecting her onto it. she had already been given new life, he was looking for a symbolic way to die, to be given new life himself, after centuries of being alone, he was ready to find her again.

the way the three stories all wrap up is nice as well, you see his wife never finished the conquistador story, wanting him to write the last chapter, so he finally writes it, just as the astronaut gets ready to embrace death. the conquistador at long last finds the tree of life, after ripping off the last crusade, it grants the conquistador eternal life, by turning him into a plant. okay, it is kind of clever, and actually fits in with the creation story they gave, and how the wife wants to be buried with a seed. so as the conquistador learns photosynthesis, the doctor goes to his wive's grave and plants a seed, and major tom finally dies in a supernova. and all parts of these overlap in odd ways, like the mayan priest sees thomas as tom, and the supernova can be seen as tommy plants the seed.

i held off writing on this because i wasn't sure how i felt, i'm still not. visually it's one of the most interesting films i've seen, it's really quite beautiful. yet it lacks character. izzie, the doctors wife is a good character, but we don't know anything about thomas and tommy other than than their obsessions, their drive. and neither of them are likable, thomas' men plan a mutiny, and tommy is just a dick. tom is far too removed from reality, although we do see his regrets, such as not going with izzie to walk through the first snow. too late did he realize he should have spent time with her instead of in the lab.

not the best film, i would however rewatch it if the mood struck, it also gits a bonus for it's visual language.

four out of five
it also somewhat reminds me of another visually impressive, universally panned film i enjoyed.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

the medicine show

this just randomly came on the other day, and due to the main characters attitude i decided it might be worth watching.

the story is about a cartoon writer, taylor, that gets prostate cancer. he tries to keep it a secret but his friend blabs and he gets annoyed by all the sympathy he's getting.
well he goes in for surgery and gets to hang out in the hospital for awhile, there he meets lynn, the girl with leukemia. they quickly become close, taking care of eachother, they even hook up, in a romantic and awkward scene. some good times, some bad times, eventually taylor gets released and lynn takes a turn for a worse. so in a unrealistic romantic comedy style taylor and his friends pose as hospital staff and break her out, so she doesn't have to spend what time she has left in the hospital.

the story of lynn and taylor is a basic romantic comedy, however the way the main character reacts to his cancer is pretty unique and refreshing, as is lynn's attitude to everything. so i decided to look up the writer/director wendell morris, and as it turns out, he himself is a cartoon writer, not just any writer, he actually wrote for animaniacs, freakazoid, and pinky the brain, some of my favourite cartoons growing up (knowing what cartoons he's written for makes a note him and his friend get near the beginning more interesting). so finding out this fact it's easy to put together this is based on wendell's own experiences with cancer.

so obviously the writing is good, the story is interesting, the characters a well thought out, it's fun, it's sad, it's just generally pretty good. worth the watch if you're into a quirky dark comedy, and love basic romantic comedies.

three out of five

Monday, September 14, 2009

the deer hunter

that trailer is basically the entire movie in three minutes, all linear, pretty much even gives away the end.
well honestly it doesn't mean anything unless you've seen the film, that's why i'm a believer that there is no such thing as a spoiler, if all a film has going for it is some big reveal, then it's not a movie worth watching, let's be honest, how many times have you seen the six sense? once was too many times.
fight club on the other hand is a movie i've watched countless times, the movie isn't about the reveal that "jack" is tyler, what the means and sets into action is important sure, but it's not the only thing fight club has going for it.

also it's interesting to note how much trailers have changed over the decades. after seeing "the deer hunter" flashed over the screen that often, i kind of want to shoot myself in the head. i know repetition is the key to memory, but YOU'RE OVERDOING IT. annoying me isn't a good way to get me to sit through a three hour drama.

a negative review i came across of this movie stated that it was in fact, three hours too long. harsh but not without truth, this movie is long, and incredibly slow paced.

the movie introduces you to the characters, all american joes, they work in a steel mill, they love drinking, hunting, being assholes, getting married, oh yes and leaving for war! so we meet the three main characters, nick (walkens) a bit of an introvert, he likes trees, dates linda (streep) and lives with michael (di niro). michael, who fancies linda, is a bit of a nut before the war, and enjoys streaking. the third character of importance is steve, who really doesn't have a defined character, he's mostly a macguffin, but hey, he's getting married and going to war!

so since steve, michael, and nick are getting read to go to vietnam the wedding party is held at the veterans hall. the importance of this is a random green beret fresh out vietnam wanders in for a drink at the bar, the guys try to talk to him, and much to their annoyance he ignores them, however when he finds out they are heading out for vietnam, he's able to give them "fuck it."

after the wedding the group of friends go out hunting, sans steve of course, here we see more of michael being a nut. while it makes him look like an asshole here, it's pretty much what saves their asses over in vietnam. the hunting scenes are shot with lush colour, in contrast to the washed out and dirty looks of where they live, and the score is way overblown here. i didn't notice it in the rest of the movie but the hunting scenes were just trying too hard to be dramatic.
well good ol' michael gets his deer in one shot and they go back to the bar to celebrate. this is the last time like this before the three leave for war, it goes from celebration to quiet contemplation as one of the friends plays some chopin on the piano in a scene devoid of dialogue.

next we cut war and all it's horrors, bombing, fragging innocents, flamethrowers, and overkill. at some point not seen, michael, steve, and nick are all captured and being held prisoner by some guys that like to make their captives play russian roulette. eventually and michael and steve are pitted against eachother and steve chickens out, getting himself thrown into a pit full of rats and dead bodies. then it's nick and michael, michael decides to up the ante to three bullets, and after a few tense clicks and slaps from the gaurds, the two of them manage to catch their captures off guard. after a shootout the two escape with a recsued steve in tow. they manage to get seen by a helicopter who rescues nick, but steve is too weak to hold on and michael goes after him, eventually michael gets steve some help, but now they're all separated.

now the movie follows nick for awhile, he's still shaken from everything, and believing his friends to be dead. he decides to wander the red light district of saigon and comes across an underground circuit of russian rulette. he decides that since he has nothing to lose he might as well join in. as luck would have it, michael also happened to be at this wonderful gathering, but can't get nick's attention before he leaves with some french bookie.

the next scenes are michael back in america. he avoids his welcome back party, and prefers staying in hotels as opposed to his own home, which linda has been living in since him and nick left. of course the two of them eventually hook up in hopes to comfort eachother.
now comes another hunting scene, micheal goes off on his own and comes across a buck, he can't bring himself to shoot it and purposely misses. okay? later at camp he sees his friend acting like a drunken idiot with his pistol, so he grabs it and says "you want to play?" he takes out all the bullets except for one, spins it and squeezes the trigger while it's against his friend's head. empty chamber. in disgust he runs outside and tosses the gun into the night.
not much else happens until michael finds out steve is back as well, only in the veterans hospital. once he finally works up the nerve to go, we see steve, missing both legs and paralyzed in one arm. steve the living plot device, reveals he's been getting large sums of money from saigon fairly regularly, michael realizes this must be nick's winnings. after making steve leave the hospital he heads off to saigon to rescue his friend.

the contrast of the two visits to saigon is interesting, before it was foreign but not foreboding, now it's downright hell. so that's what war does? go figure.
michael manages to track down the sleezy frenchman the got nick into the russian roulette circuit, and they eventually find nick. nick at this point is gone, he doesn't recognize michael, he's been living in a haze of drugs and death. michael faces off against him in a game, trying to get him to snap out of it, get him to come home, nick finally does come to, but all he can do is repeat what michael told him when they first went hunting "one shot" bullet in the brain pan, squish.

the movie ends after nick's funeral back home, all the friends gathered in the bar, morosely singing "god bless america"

overall i enjoyed it, it was intense, striking, had great acting, and some great cinematography. it wasn't perfect though, as mentioned it seems needlessly long, the score was overdone at parts, and the the whole underground russian roulette circuit was a bit unbelievable, or that nick would became some sort of cult hero of it anyway. it does a lot of things well, the characters all seem real, they live in the same world we do, and parts of it are just beautiful. it's not a movie i'd watch over and over, but it was definitely worth the watch

four out of five