Thursday, December 27, 2012

Twenty twelve in song

2012 was the quite the year for music, so here's a few songs that stood out to me.

Cartoon and Cereal by Kendrick Lamar featuring Gunplay

Probably the most emotional song of the year, its just a hard hitting song, i mean damn. i'm honestly disappointed this wasn't on good kid, m.A.A.d city

Vodka & Ayahuasca by Gangrene

Favourite video of the year by far, it's just ridiculous. Also, i never really thought of psychedelic rap as thing, but i really dig it. Dat bass.

Born to Die by Lana Del Rey

Oh how i love Lana Del Rey, Born To Die is most likely my favourite album of the year. It just seems a somber rebuttal of #YOLO, it's less let's do stupid shit because we're young, and more, let's enjoy what time we have. i mean, she does end up dead in the video, that's not on accident, it's showing how dangerous being reckless is, and how unfortunately love isn't always enough. Lana takes on this very Lolita like persona, most obviously in the song Off to the Races, which in not only does she sing in a Betty Boop voice, it directly quotes the book. It's a story of a young troubled girl getting into older, bad men. And how they get her into drugs, money, and sex, and there's this very tragic tone to it all.

Eula by Baroness

i never knew metal could be this pretty. :3

Terrorist Threats by Ab-Soul featuring Danny Brown and Jhene Aiko

This is probably my favourite song of the year, not only was it my introduction to Ab-Soul, but it features everyone's favourite Danny Brown, and he fucking kills it on this track. Just a great political song. "I ain't trying to be nobody's chattel"

God Wants Us to Wait by The Magnetic Fields

This is the first Magnetic Fields album i've really enjoyed since I. But this song just sums up everything that's fantastic about them. Andrew in Drag is pretty fantastic too, and has a beautiful video.

Niggas in Poorest by Yasiin Bey

Just want to say first, there have not been nearly enough songs by Yasiin Bey this year. i love the line "Don't get caught up in no throne" in both what it means politically and a dig at the Jay-Z/Kanye album. Definitely looking forward to more Top 40 Underdogs.

How to be a Heartbreaker by Marina and the Diamonds

Best pop song of the year right here, really catchy and upbeat. i like it because it's all about how to use men, but then it gets serious and reveals it's all a ruse so her heart doesn't get broken, that perhaps using people is bad?! It's that kind of awareness that has always made Marina one of my favourite artists. i also love it because it's honestly the only video by a female artist that sexualizes men more than the artist that i can think of.

Die Young by Ke$ha

Similar in a way to Born to Die, but not as somber, i read somewhere that Ke$ha almost didn't want to record the song, for fear that it'd be misinterpreted. It's just a cute song about finding love and enjoying the night, even if the consequences might not be so great. "Stripping down to dirty socks" is seriously one of my favourite lyrics of all time. It's like when she giggles after saying "I like your beard" in Your Love is My Drug,  adorable.

Smoking like the Barrel of a Gun by Candice Gordon

Awesome voice. She screams like a girl, and it rocks.

Go Hard by Kreayshawn

Oh, Kreayshawn. While i have no comment about the rest of the album, i love this song, it reminds me of weird 90s pop songs, like something that would be in the soundtrack to Tank Girl. Something like that anyway. i want a whole cutesy album of songs like this.

Hit Me by Mystikal

Man, i thought James Brown was dead.

play by iamamiwhoami

i actually did a bit of a write up on this earlier in the year,  but this song and video, this is pop music, this is entertainment. It's a beautiful work of art. kin fits nicely in both my favourite albums and movies of the year.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Batmania Rising

This review has been sitting in my queue, only partially written for the past few months, and in all of the time of reflection and thought on this film, the most I can come up with is "Batman pays for his sins, except not really."

This movie cribs a lot from Frank Miller's the Dark Knight Returns, in that it starts out with older versions of Bruce and Gordon, both completely miserable with the world they've created. i suppose the distinction, the Nolan twist, other than there being no crime in this film, is that they realize they're to blame. It's a fun angle.

Now the plot focuses on Talia al Ghul and her goon, her front, Bane, coming to Gotham to finish her father's plan, and to make Bruce pay. And it almost works. Hi-jacking some magical fission device Bruce had developed in his peace-time boredom, the new League of Shadows holds Gotham City hostage and turns it into a beautiful anarchy, or as Žižek had to say:
...the prospect of the OWS movement taking power and establishing people’s democracy on Manhattan is so patently absurd, so utterly non-realist, that one cannot but raise the question: WHY DOES THEN A MAJOR HOLLYWOOD BLOCKBUSTER DREAM ABOUT IT, WHY DOES IT EVOKE THIS SPECTER? Why even dream about OWS exploding into a violent takeover? The obvious answer (to smudge OWS with accusations that it harbors a terrorist-totalitarian potential) is not enough to account for the strange attraction exerted by prospect of “people’s power.” No wonder the proper functioning of this power remains blank, absent: no details are given about how this people’s power functions, what the mobilized people are doing (remember that Bane tells the people they can do what they want – he is not imposing on them his own order).
 This is why external critique of the film (“its depiction of the OWS reign is a ridiculous caricature”) is not enough – the critique has to be immanent, it has to locate within the film itself a multitude signs which point towards the authentic Event. (Recall, for example, that Bane is not just a brutal terrorist, but a person of deep love and sacrifice.) In short, pure ideology isn’t possible, Bane’s authenticity HAS to leave trace in the film’s texture. This is why the film deserves a close reading: the Event – the “people’s republic of Gotham City”, dictatorship of the proletariat on Manhattan – is immanent to the film, it is its absent center.
 Dictatorship of the Proletariat in Gotham City by Slavoj Žižek

Despite Bane and his forces having a military presence, they only exist to make the corrupt of the past rule pay. Another influence on the story was Dicken's A Tale of Two Cities, so "death by exile" is as much a guillotine as it is great joke.

Even if you don't agree with such politics, just look at how the characters are portrayed.

Bane is angelic, his voice is other-worldy, but it's light, it's authoritative, it's almost downright Connery at times. He commands a group that would die at his whim, without an objection. He punishes the rich and corrupt, gives the city back to the people, and is powered by love.

Batman is demonic, speaks like a bear, defends the lie of the corrupt police, protects the rich, and is fueled only by his hatred of the poor.

There's also the great bit that Talia is trying to continue in her father's footsteps, while Bruce has done nothing but destroy his father's legacy, literally in the case of the train system.

i also love that the fission device Bruce developed to help the world would be the downfall of Gotham. Honestly though, i feel the film would have been better had the bomb plot not involved a secret countdown, they should have just used the bomb as they said they would, and then only start the countdown once Batman showed his ugly mug. It would just reinforce how terrible Batman is for Gotham.

 This was also by far the funniest of the Nolan Batmen films, jokes and silly stuff abound, Bane was a complete blast to watch and listen to, and the climax of the film was stolen from the 1966 Batman movie:

Literally the last twenty minutes of the film.

As for the end itself... it was odd. It doesn't quite drag on as long as Return of the King did, but close enough. And honestly they could have cut away before it showed what Alfred was looking at, just him smiling. Hell it should have been cut like that, the arguments over whether he saw Bruce or not would be hilarious. When it comes to film endings though, i'm a bit cruel (Beyond the Black Rainbow, Excision, and Prometheus are all great examples from this year of endings i love, not surprisingly they're my favourite films of the year as well)
As mentioned in my revisit of the Dark Knight, this film continues the trends of ending on lies. Batman isn't dead, and now a celebrated hero. Gordon is a hero The rich and corrupt win. But then there's Robin, and Robin was amazing, honestly my favourite part of this film, was when everyone in the audience cheered when they revealed that was his real name. It's just something i never could have anticipated happening. A crowd cheering about the Boy Wonder, fantastic. So maybe there is hope for the future, Robin was sick of both the law and Batman, and now with the resources of an eccentric billionaire, perhaps he can do what Bruce failed to do, any good.

Over all it was a pretty decent, a bit heavy handed even for Nolan, and Catwoman's objectification wasn't quite as bad as the Black Widow's, but still not anything positive. On the plus side, Bruce and Selina's games were amusing, and Bane as already mentioned was a blast. What i loved about him, is that he was a man of myth, only talked about in about in half truths and exaggeration. He's kind of like a god, only strong as the people that believe in him. Once it's revealed that he isn't the mastermind (i do love that Bruce doesn't remember any of his teachings, the figure head of the League is never really the leader) nor was he mythical child that escaped the pit (he straight up tells the singled minded Bruce he didn't see daylight until he a man), he is promptly shot out of the film by Han Solo. Because much like Bane, Darth Vader was just a henchman, and the whole voice/machine head.... The point is, i laughed.