Wednesday, August 20, 2014

a l l i e and Gazelle Twin

My mom loves to tell the classic story of when my grumpy old uncle offended poor Kanye West's grandmother on her birthday in Oklahoma City a few years back. This was obviously back when both she and West's mother were still alive and clearly before Yeezy went completely crazy like he is today. My uncle and Ye's grandmother went to the same church at the time and the church happened to be throwing a special birthday party just for her. Well Kanye flew into town to attend it and he decided to get up and perform a surprise number just for the occassion. My uncle, being an old minister, had no idea who Kanye West was but had just found out that he was "some kind of a rapper". So when Kanye got up to perform, he in a rather loud whisper, asked my aunt "Oh Lord! You mean we have to listen to rap?!?!" My aunt, who is a bit more hip than my uncle is, slunk down in her chair in an attempt to hide herself because there was no way that Yeezy's relatives didn't hear him as they were sitting right next to them when he said it. God bless my uncle!

This was obviously before the Graduation album dropped and he became the global sensation and nut job that he is now (btw I love Kanye), but I'm still surprised that I haven't heard at least one lyrical diss from him about old preachers and disrespect at this point. Because this would obviously lead to me dropping an album with a counter diss and then Jay Z releasing a diss track of his own to support his boy and so on and so on, just like Boyz in Da Hood. "Either they don't know, don't show, or don't care about what's going on in the hood"

The point is, I don't ever want to be as oblivious as my uncle was, so I constantly check out new artists no matter how strange or how wack they are. Now with all of that said, here are a few more artists that my family can hopefully offend in the near future.

First up is a l l i e. She is the latest artist out of Canada that is bringing the noise and thankfully for her she just so happens to sound like a mix of the Chicago based Nylo, with her beauty and soul, and the wonderful Erykah Badu and her neo funk. She represents the more experimental side of Badu as she has the ability to take you on these sexy trips to outer space with her ambitious take on the Rnb genre. I'm hesitant to give her that label because it puts her in a box that she doesn't quite belong in but I have to start somewhere. She is on Kaytranda's label, who is based out of Montreal, and you cant help but hear his influence in her music with the head nodding hip hop beats that are dropped on her tracks. The combination of the coolness of her music and her sexy delivery wont quite inspire you to go raw dawg and produce babies but there will definitely be some baby making activities going on. Some of her highlights include Maharajah, Just Like That, and Cross My Mind. Private Island with 2nd Son is like nothing I've really heard before in RnB with its innovative beat that has these spatterings of underground electronica mixed in it. I give her a rating of FRESH but let's just hope that she has more of a stage presence than Sza does, another artist I fell in love with until I saw her perform live.
https://soundcloud.com/search?q=a%20l%20l%20i%20e

Next up is Gazelle Twin; and I have to admit that when I first read up on her, I immediately rolled my eyes and let out a loud hipster esque sigh in disgust! There were all of these comparisons to Nine Inch Nails and stories about how she always disguises her face with a mask or some sort of visual matrixing while also appearing with dirt covered hands. Typically when artists go through these drastic of measures in an attempt to separate themselves by not drawing attention to their looks its because of two reasons : 1. They are generally ugly and 2. Their music really sucks. Look at Kiss. But after listening to her music I discovered that it actually is heavily influenced by the industrial scene with its dark, grimy, and sonically booming electronic beats. This is the kind of music you'd expect to hear playing while Ryan Gosling walks into a dark club night right before he whacks someone in an art house action flick.

She spits out lyrics at a steady and determined rate like an evil robot would but she also has the ability to sing in such a beautiful way that cant help but slowly and sneakily draw you in. Her EP Mammal is the perfect example of this. Outside of Anti Body, Belly of the Beast is my favorite song of hers as this is where you hear the NIN influence. "I'll beat them at their own game" from that track may be a shout out to all of the big boy artists in this male laden genre; and I have to say that she may certainly give them a reason to look over their shoulders with her talent. I rate her as FRESH!
 https://soundcloud.com/gazelletwin






Monday, August 18, 2014

Calvary

Don't we all need saving from something? Scott Weiland needs to be saved from heroin. Kurt Cobain needed saving from Courtney Love. My buddy needed saving from these two rather large women who wanted to take him home from the Skanktank (Coppertank) Brewery one night; but of course he got no help from us. I even have a music nerd friend who needs saving from herself as she is a closet One Direction fan. Yes! You read that correctly, no she's not 16, and yes she realizes that Harry is gay but she doesn't care! So when I saw the title of John Michael McDonagh's latest film, I thought that maybe he was supplying the answer for them all!

But once the movie started, I realized that there was no such Messiah in this movie. The story of Father James parallels that of Jesus in that everyone knows he's a really good person/being and that he wants nothing but the best for them and their lives with his message but they continue to reject him and mock him because it seems easier to just continue living the way they do, even though they know it's not good for them. But that's where the comparisons end because Father James is only human and he doesn't have the answers to everything but he tries his best while he happens to be dealing with a few issues himself.

You see that right from the start when he's in the confessional and a man confesses something to him that's pretty startling but sadly all too common these days. However instead of looking for help, this man is looking for revenge as that's the only thing that seems right to him. So he threatens to return in a week to kill Father James in the hopes that this will finally cause people to pay attention to him and his pain.

Now I know that all of this seems pretty heavy so far but there is actually quite a bit of dark humor in this movie. As McDonagh takes you through each day that leads up to the potentially fatal Sunday, you are introduced to a number of oddball characters in this small Irish town. As I mentioned earlier, they each have their own issues and they choose to deal with them in their own quirky ways. For example, the man that seems ok with the fact that his wife is cheating on him with his chess partner because it means that he can come in at night whenever he wants. Or the odd duck who is so frustrated with the fact that he can't ever get laid that he's considering joining the army because that way he can legally get away with killing people as a coping mechanism. Now I'm no comedian and I'm a terrible writer but McDonagh has a way of making you laugh at these situations while still maintaining a rather dark tone to the film.

And that's the thing, the entire time you feel this dark cloud forming over James as people start acting more aggressively toward him with their mocking and their unusual behavior. He's starting to feel less and less safe as Sunday approaches but somehow he never loses his faith. And the entire time he knows who is coming to kill him but you don't; so you are looking at everyone sideways as you're trying to guess who the true nut job is.

The only good thing that seems to be happening to him this week is that he and his daughter, who just recently attempted suicide, seem to have reconciled whatever was separating them in the past; providing at least one bright spot in an otherwise dark week. All of this leads up to a rather jaw dropping final scene which will stick with you for a while.

When I went into this movie, I didn't even plan on reviewing it but I was so impressed with how it turned out that I couldn't help but join in on the praise bandwagon. I give this movie a rating of really FRESH!

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Expendables 3

For some reason my buddy is hell bent on us recreating the movie Wild Hogs in the next 15-20 years! You remember that awful movie with Tim crack rock Allen, Marty Lawrence, John Revolta, and Bill Macy don't you? It's about these 4 overweight and near death dudes who decide to go on a road trip across the country on motorcycles to recapture their youth. Maybe my buddy is going through his midlife crisis now or maybe it's all a trick to sell me into slavery to the Mormons in Utah; either way I'm not falling for it! The only way I would agree to this is if Wesley Snipes came on the trip with us and promised to stay in his Blade character the entire trip! Every pale white person we ran into would be in trouble!

Speaking of, why didn't the black vampires change colors or get more light skinned after they turned? It makes it almost impossible to determine whether ethnic people are the undead or not! Oh well, same principle applies for them; if you're too light, you're getting jacked up too! Watch out Halle Berry! Anyway, the point is, you can see why I was so pumped to see Expendables 3; it's the return of Snipes! For some reason he refuses to cut off his mini fro and he keeps on wearing those stupid shell necklaces but come on, he's still Nino freaking Brown! He can't help be cool every time he steps out of bed in the morning.

So now that you're properly prepped, sit your $5 ass down and read my review before I make change!

This Expendables starts off with a daring attempt to break Snipes out of captivity while he's being held prisoner on a train. Within the first two minutes of the movie people are being blasted with machine guns from a helicopter and what I believed to be a .50 caliber gun is broken out in response to it. This is easily the best action scene of the movie because in one scene it totally captures the weirdness and aloofness of Snipes. Rather than immediately leave the train and thank everyone from rescuing him, he, without a word just says screw it and decides to kill everyone that was holding him captive on the train with his awesome Snipes fighting skills! He then caps everything off by ramming the train into the prison just before jumping from the speeding train onto the helicopter! Now that's how you make your return to big time Hollywood! I was cheering like a school girl! This is exactly what I paid for!

Stallone decides to get the crew back together to track down an arms dealer who turns out to be his former partner Stonebanks (Mel Gibson).They started the Expendables together but Stonebanks got greedy and went into business for himself. He was believed to be already dead at the hands of Stallone but we all know that the Gibson is far too crafty for that. Once he notices that Stallone and his crew is following him, he critically injures Caesar (Terry Crews) and escapes with ease. This causes Stallone to question whether time has passed him and his crew by and he decides, for their safety, to retire his old crew and to find a new younger crop to go after Stonebanks with.

The newbies sucked for the most part; they were just a bunch of young kids trying to act tough with no stripes on the wall. I'm sorry but you have to kill Apollo Creed in the ring (Lundgren), take out a white terrorist who has a mane while saying something fresh like "Gotta Go, Gotta Go" (Snipes), or call a real life cop 'Sugar tits'(Gibson) for me to respect you.

And speaking of Mel, he wore the bad role just a little too comfortably for me. It took a while but he finally broke out of his serene and almost docile state once he was captured and gave his evil monologue! A bit of Martin Riggs came back to life in that scene!

Anyway, I can see why Stallone decided to use younger action stars in parts of this movie; they had to use the shaky action cam quite a bit to cover up the fact that the old men can't really fight or do stunts anymore. But he should realize that we don't care, we just want to see our old favorites talking trash and we got just that with Harrison Ford replacing Bruce Willis and Arnold making yet another appearance.

I will give the younger kids this, there was one cool scene where they help take out an entire army and one of them did their best Vin Diesel XXX impression using a motorcycle. They should've thrown in Asia Argento for no apparent reason to boot.

I loved this stupid movie but I realize that it's not for everyone. It's really for the hard core action junkies out there, but since everyone should be a hard core action junkie, I'm giving it a rating of FRESH!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Let's Be Cops

Going into this movie, I really hoped that they had spent more time on the jokes and on the story than they did on the title. Even my friend was a bit confused and thought I was talking about ideas for Halloween when I told her what movie I was going to see. But there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to see Cops because my buddy and I used to do something equally as dumb as this. I thought it would be hilarious if we dressed up on a Saturday night in suits, went to the club, bought a bottle of champagne (Andre no doubt), and told girls that I was a rookie hockey player who just signed a major league deal (I'm black) and that my friend, who was Jewish, was my agent. The last part would have actually been believable but for some reason he decided to talk in a French Canadian accent. Anyway, we actually found a few that believed us and there we were on couches drinking the finest Andre the club had to offer. Sadly though, the night ended with me and my buddy stuck in line at the local Whataburger late night, but dammit at least we walked away with a fun story!

Anyway, the previews for this looked hilarious and it looked like they could have taken this story so many places; you can make it another Police Academy with an Old School vibe or you could make it an action comedy like Pineapple Express. Well they decided to go somewhere in between, which on the surface sounded like a great idea but sadly there were far too many misses in it. First let's start with what was good about the movie. Jake Johnson (New Girl) is great in everything he does. He plays the role of Ryan, the former college star quarterback who didn't go pro because of a devastating injury, so he spends all of his time "coaching" these kids who simply get together every week to play pick up football. But in reality he just uses it as an excuse to play QB and to run over little children. He acts as the true catalyst for the idea to not only dress up as cops but to take it to the next level by buying a cop car and working cases. Everything funny that happens in the film centers around him!

Next is Nina Dobrev; she plays the love interest of Ryan's best friend and fellow cop Justin. She's not a great actress or anything but my goodness she's cute! She's like the younger hotter version of Sloan, E's girlfriend from Entourage. Also Natasha Leggero is a show stopper as the lonely hot girl who is randomly rolling on ecstasy by herself. Trust me, you have to see this scene.

Now for the bad; and with the exception of the absurdity of the story, it all falls squarely on Damon Wayans Jr. First of all, how old am I?!?! I remember his father when he was sort of young and doing awesome skits like Men on Film on In Living Color; now his son is basically my age??? Second, we are all used to the wimpy guy that's too afraid to stand up for himself but you can go too far with it. I mean, Wayans makes George McFly look like Sean Connery from the Bond movies! He acted  and sounded like a white valley girl with all of his feminine mannerisms and dropping words like "ew" "dude" and "gross". No girl would ever be interested in him and no guy would ever want to hang out with this clown! I found myself looking at him in disgust and audibly saying to myself "what a little $%^*"! Now maybe that's his shtick but he sucks at it! It's super distracting and takes you completely out of the film.

You know the premise of the story, these two down on their luck guys decide to dress up as cops for a college reunion party, and once they get there they basically realize that they are a bunch of losers when compared to their former friends. But as they are walking home, they discover that everyone sees them and respects them as real cops. So to help them escape their real lives for a bit they decide to continue the joke. Things go a bit too far however when they have a run in with these foreign gangsters and they soon find themselves in the middle of trying to bring down a huge illegal gun operation.

Had they properly cast the role of Justin and smoothed out a few of the action scenes, this movie could have been really good. I did find myself laughing out loud quite a few times but in the end, this just isn't a good movie. I give it a rating a pretty WEAK.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Into the Storm

Well at least they didn't do something lame like call it Twister 2 or make it a prequel to the Bill Paxton masterpiece of the 90's; having to suffer through Helen Hunt and her transgender features was painful enough the first time around. I know that's a bit harsh to say but come on, you know you found yourself checking out her Adam's Apple from time to time too! Can you imagine how hard it would be to cast the younger versions of these stars? Well, I actually did come up with a few ideas but I decided to leave those out because this article was becoming unbelievably mean, and if I have any desire to get laid within the next decade, I better keep the Don Imus side of my personality in check!

What I'm trying to say is, I was actually slightly pumped over the fact that someone chose to fill the Roland Emmerich void in my life by making another movie where natural disasters tear shit up! Sorry for cursing but is there any other way to say that? Seriously, if I have the choice between paying $11 to see flaming cows and trucks fly by people's heads or to see Katherine Heigl be the only single 40 year old woman alive who gets an orgasm from holding hands, I choose flaming cows 10 out 10 times! Although can you imagine the confidence you'd have as a man if you could make a woman climax from simply holding her hand? You'd be the slightly scrubbier version of Michael Fassbender in Shame! You have to see the movie to get that joke but I digress.

Into the Storm follows this group of storm trackers, high school students, and wannabe dare devils as an unusual pattern of tornadoes hits the town of Silverton. The storm trackers are led by Pete; an overly ambitious jerk whose only care is to get video of the ultimate storm at any cost. The high school students are Donnie and Trey; these two teenage boys who have a hard time communicating with their dad ever since they lost their mother. And the daredevils are just two drunken hicks who think they'll get rich if they can get one of their stupid stunts to be a hit on YouTube. Somehow all of their paths cross as the tornadoes effectively destroy the town and they have to ban together to simply survive.

You'll find that the story lines are all fairly familiar ones but that doesn't mean they weren't executed well. You can't go wrong with the young boy hoping to finally get with his high school crush or the father having to do everything he can to save his children's lives. I mean, I would've found myself following Alycia Debnam Carey to a random toxic waste site too; even if that meant running into the hillbillies from The Hills Have Eyes. Sadly though that didn't happen in this movie. Also Sarah Callies looks like she never got out of character from her Walking Dead days; someone should tell her that it's ok to eat again. Even though she's skinny, she was still pleasant to look at and she did add a level of credibility to the film with her presence.

But who cares about plot, we came to see tornadoes tear stuff up and dammit that's exactly what we got! It wasn't the biggest budget I've seen thrown at CGI but it still looked pretty cool. And when they ran out of money, they just took the easy way out and you got to experience the storms threw the eyes of those in it via camera phones or camcorders. That was annoying but thankfully there's not too much of it in the film. There's a moment or two where you find yourself on the edge of your seat; and the movie is actually pretty funny throughout with silly jokes thrown in from time to time. And I have to admit that I didn't really expect either going in.

This is not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination but I was highly entertained. I give it a rating of barely FRESH!



Friday, August 8, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Hells no!!!!!!!!!!! There was absolutely no way they were getting my money for this trash!

Rating - Wack

Out

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Wish I Was Here

In 2004 Garden State was being hailed, by quite a few, as the film that finally encapsulated what it was like to come of age in the late 90's or early Noughts. That generation was viewed as a bunch of underachievers who preferred medicating themselves to actually having to feel anything. If you had problems concentrating in class, they'd just get you on Ritalin or Adderall. If you actually tried to achieve something and failed, they'd simply prescribe something for you to cope with the pain and in the process encouraged you to never try hard at anything again. And so on and so on.

So when Braff came around with State and literally screamed for everyone to wake up and feel again, it felt like a breath of fresh air. Now while I do agree in part with this view, I think that every generation has had their own coping mechanism in the past to help them get through. As long as weed, alcohol, acid, and mushrooms have been around, there has always been an alternative to feeling. You can't concentrate in class? Roll a fatty. Your girlfriend dumped you? Get a forty of Mickey's. Your parents are on you about graduation? Go tripping on campus! I'm not endorsing this behavior, I'm just saying that its happened a time or two.

In Braff''s case, it's known by everyone in Hollywood that he's a homebody. He hardly goes out unless it's for work. So I think his main motivation for making these movies is so that he'd have the opportunity to meet girls. I mean, if the alternative to being heavily medicated was getting to have sex with Natalie Portman, I think I'd break out of my funk too! Oh, a few more years of sitting around bored on your couch passes by? How about I make a movie that involves being in the middle of a love triangle with Rachel Bilson and Jacinda Barrett? I think Hollywood and the rest of America finally caught on to this sham and this explains why you haven't really heard from him until now.

Well not much has changed for Zach in the past 10 years. He's still funny, weird, and talented; it's just that he needs a producer to reign him in a bit. Wish I Was Here is the tale of Aiden Bloom, a 35 year old actor who is still holding on to his dream of making it in Hollywood despite the fact the biggest thing he's done is a commercial for dandruff; and ironically enough he still has dandruff, as his dad likes to constantly point out to him. Speaking of his dad Gabe(Mandy Patinkin), he doesn't approve of the paths his two sons have taken in life. Aiden is relying on his wife Sarah (Kate Hudson) to support him and their two children while he goes to audition after audition, and his brother Noah is simply living off the money his mother left him as he attempts to become a successful blogger. Because of this and his lack of compassion, the relationship between Gabe and his sons is a strained one at best. But Aiden starts to reevaluate his life when he learns that his dad is dying of cancer and doesn't have much time left.

The first twenty to thirty minutes of the movie are really funny as Braff repeatedly makes fun of the some of the hard core traditions of Judaism; and there are plenty of opportunities seeing as how he's Jewish and his two kids are going to a private Jewish school. He also has a swear jar that he is constantly feeding because he basically has no filter for his mouth, and this leads to some rather interesting conversations between him and his children; especially when they decide to home school them. Even Old Face Killer (Kate Hudson) didn't look that bad in this film as her face has finally caught up to her age but there is still a scene or two where they try and show the sexy side of her and it honestly just made me physically turn my face from the screen.

The main problem I have with this film is the dramatic change in tone that takes place once you find out Gabe has cancer. It literally sucks all of the fun out of the film and you are stuck watching this melodrama with these contrived scenarios. Mandy Patinkin is such a consummate professional though that it almost works. He almost, ALMOST got me at the end because they actually did come up with a scenario that we all have faced at least once in our life when the entire family is gathered around his hospital bed. And the kids are great in the film too; although I kept waiting for the little boy to start screaming and moving things around with his mind (Looper).

I liked the bonding Braff did with his kids throughout the movie; and even though the day dreaming sequences of him being in a sci-fi film were a bit goofy, they actually added a fairly enjoyable element to the experience. This movie could have been really fresh had they tackled this subject matter the way Jonathan Levine did with 50/50, but they didn't, so the movie gets a rating of kind of WEAK.