Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Ex Machina

For a brief moment in my life I actually dabbled in being a geek in high school as I was big into science and the science fair at the time. But I never quite understood those super geeks who would fall in love with video game chicks like Lara Croft from Tomb Raider or cartoon characters like Jessica Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. I may not have been a Don Juan or anything but I never quite envisioned my best case scenario for getting tail coming in the form of a robot that had a flesh light attached to it. And in case you don’t know what a flesh light is, it’s basically a simulated vagina that’s made specifically for men to get their rocks off to. It’s a slimy sex toy for guys who have never actually seen a vagina in person and need as much practice as they can get before experiencing the real thing. Oh and just so you know, it happens to be dishwasher safe too; at least that’s what my friend told me. But moving on…

Sometimes this sexual frustration can lead to genius innovation; their original intent may have been to simply get them their first girlfriend or girlfriend experience ala Weird Science, and not necessarily to help mankind, but in the end they wound up creating something that could ultimately cure cancer or help us download our porn faster.

And this is exactly the premise of Alex Garland’s Ex Machina. Well, not exactly. Machina is about Caleb, a young programmer who wins a contest to spend an entire week on the giant estate of his company’s CEO and creator Nathan. Nathan is the founder of the world’s biggest search engine Bluebook and he believes that he has created the world’s first truly AI being in Ava. So while Caleb is visiting his home, Nathan decides to run his Turing test on him; it’s a test to see if a man can interact with a machine or a computer and be fooled into thinking that it’s actually human.

Nathan himself comes across as this narcissistic, eccentric, and borderline drunk genius who’s quite proud of his invention but he tries to present himself as just another guy to the socially awkward Caleb. Caleb is an only child whose parents died when he was a teenager and because of his lack of social skills, he’s also a loner who has a hard time finding a girlfriend. So as you can imagine, the second he sees Nathan’s invention Ava, he’s completely enamored.

Ava, played by Alicia Vikander, is a strikingly beautiful robot whose curiosity, innocence, and intelligence instantly draws Caleb to her. And the second she learns more about Caleb and what makes him tick, she appears to fall in love with him as well.

What makes this story interesting is that Ava apparently hates Nathan and whenever she feels as though Caleb and her are alone, she tries to convince him that Nathan is an evil manipulator who cannot be trusted. But the plot thickens when Nathan reminds Caleb that Ava is machine who: A might actually like him B. might be pretending to like him to help her pass the test or C. might be pretending to like him because she has her own agenda.

What’s great about this film is that there appears to be plenty of evidence to support each theory and the more you find out about Nathan, the stranger he appears.

This movie is a dark, funny, and scary look into the future as it shows how man’s arrogance might ultimately be his downfall. Nathan sums it up best when he warns Caleb that “one day AI will look upon us humans as we now do the fossils of dinosaurs and their forgotten era”; I’m paraphrasing of course.
Garland does an awesome job of blending style and score to create a mood of uneasiness in the futuristic and sterile home of Nathan. You can’t help but feel like an unwanted alien in his home who might be turned on at any second. And this is why you somewhat connect with Caleb who begins to question his very own existence towards the end of the movie.

Sadly it’s movies like these that get overlooked by the Academy when it comes time to hand out awards because this is easily one of the best and most original films I have seen in a while. I rate this movie as TIGHT and I suggest that you pop in. Oh and do yourself a favor and rock out to the Savages during the credits.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Alison Wonderland and New Highway Hymnal

Ice Cube once taught us that “Gangstas make the world go ‘round” on what is quite possibly the best diss album of all time in Westside Connection’s Bow Down. After he drank a beer, busted a rap, and ended B-Real’s f*&^ing career (another line from the album) he reminded everyone just how influential music can be at times. Music can unite people in dangerous ways, see the whole East coast versus West coast battle and how it ended two of hip hop’s biggest stars’ lives in Tupac and Biggie, but it can also bring people together who would have never otherwise met.

 I recently convinced a hot 40 year old woman to shout “I wanna f&*^ the freckles off your face b&^*” at an Earl Sweatshirt show. Sadly neither one of us has freckles so I didn’t actually get to take her up on her offer but I do have Earl to thank for giving me such an awesome intro line.  Well hopefully after listening to one of the two new artists I’m previewing today you will be shouting obscenities at random strangers in public in no time.

First up is Alison Wonderland; she’s a DJ out of Australia who’s probably fresh off of parole because let’s be honest, aren’t most Australians on parole from their day of birth? Anytime Britain thinks you’re too low class of a criminal to stay on their island so they ship you off to another one, that says quite a bit about you as a people. But today’s music is fresh because it’s full of former criminals who now make fresh beats for us to dance to versus guns for us to strip all of our valuables off to; although there is still some stripping that goes on to their music in certain situations’ or so I’ve heard anyway.

Wonderland sounds like she’s Swiss Beats mixed with Flux Pavilion; which is perfect as her trippy banging club beats with famous leads Lil Wayne and Wayne Coyne will take her to the next level. It’s just a matter of time before Kanye disses her, so pop in on her tracks I Want You, U Don’t Know, and Cold before you’re forced to choose sides in the global hip hop war. I rate her as FRESH!

Next up is New Highway Hymnal. They are a dark and almost gothic psychedelic group who spit out lyrics like “My girl, she wants more more more!”. Sounds like the soundtrack to a 70’s porn. The jury is still out on these guys but I rate them as FRESH for now.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Lost River

First of all let me state right up front that I get it; Ryan Gosling is this dreamy nice guy that everyone in both Hollywood and the real world absolutely loves. So naturally people will flock to everything he does even if it means they're just watching him eat a sandwich in a glass box for 3 1/2 hours; similar to what people do for that clown "magician" David Blaine. But this is also why you see critics trying their absolute best to remain somewhat nice to him when reviewing his directorial debut Lost River.

Well I could care less about that scrub mainly because I've never met him and because he made me suffer through Murder by Numbers with Michael Pitt and Sandra Bullock right when she was entering her early cougar phase. And for the record, yes I'd still hit that today.

I actually do like Gosling simply for the fact that he reminds me of a white Billy Dee Williams (something I've said repeatedly on this site before); I just think he's way overrated. He always plays the same character; the reserved and multi-layered loner who's way too cool for anyone to ever fully understand. So I was actually quite happy to hear that he was taking a quick break from the norm to pursue his dream of being the next Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive, Only God Forgives), and I have to say that for the most part, he's well on his way to achieving this.

Lost River is an alluring mess of a movie that at times shows quite a bit of promise. Thankfully he focuses more on the visuals as opposed to long pointless monologues to set the tone for this dark mythical world he's created. But having said that, there are still quite a few scenes that drag on for what seems like hours.

In this world a single mother of two named Billy (Christina Hendricks) is forced to take an odd job in this dark underground nightclub in order to save her house. Her and her family live in a town that's basically being deserted as it's surrounded by cities that were flooded on purpose to create reservoirs. No one can find work so they are forced to leave their homes in hopes of finding a better life elsewhere. Those who choose to stay find themselves under the control of evil sociopaths.

Billy's oldest son Bones befriends his neighbor Rat (Saoirse Ronan) who clues him in on the history of the town and it's surrounding area; and in the process she also makes him aware of the curse that's been put on the town. But Billy has his own issues to deal with as he has upset the town's most dangerous sociopath in Bully. In an attempt to survive by any means necessary, he has stepped on to Bully's territory and Bully is not known for his patience or understanding.

In this movie Gosling shows you a place where violence is celebrated and fire and destruction are on display almost everyday. There's also a weird sex chamber that I am far too sheltered to truly understand the functionality of but even I know that it's not the best way to make money. And there are random song and dance numbers and even more random funny scenes involving country black people. It's almost as if Gosling met one for the first time at a BBQ joint here in Texas, fell in love with them, and decided to put them on display; similar to a kid taking his first ever Kendrick Lamar cd to show and tell.

Actually the more I think about this movie, the more I like it. Don't get me wrong, it's an artsy film at the highest level and at times it's pretty boring but it's like I said earlier, there are quite a few beautiful shots in it and you are introduced to a pretty dark and depressing world; so if that's your thing, you should definitely check it out. If not, then I suggest you stay far away. I rate this movie as barely FRESH as I want to be the black Ryan Gosling!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

What We Do In the Shadows

Whenever you see vampires in movies like Blade or Underworld, they are always portrayed as these cool looking, well dressed creatures who can get anything they want. They live in beautiful gothic mansions, have wild parties, and play baseball to Muse. But no one ever shows you the real side of being an 800 year old vampire; a life where you’re stuck wearing clothes from three centuries ago while trying your best to get into nightclubs that reject you at every turn.

Well thankfully Jermaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) and Taiki Waititi (Eagle vs Shark) take us behind the scenes of what life is really like for vampires in today’s society. They invite a film crew to come in and document their day to day activities as they prepare to attend the event of the year, a gala for the undead.
At first their life is pretty mundane as they spend the majority of their time negotiating with their familiars, arguing over whose turn it is to do the dishes and picking fights with the local werewolves. But one day after they turn the hip human Nick into a vampire, their lives are forever changed as he introduces them to all sorts of wonderful things like the internet, mp3 players, and the happening nightlife of Wellington, New Zealand. And as you can imagine, this leads to quite a few memorable scenes in the movie.

If you are used to the dry humor of the Conchords, then you will absolutely love this movie, however if dry humor is not your thing, then you definitely want to stay away. Even I was struggling to enjoy it early on as I was trying to figure out where they were going with it but by the time they started talking trash to the werewolf gang that was led by Anton (Rhys Darby), I was completely onboard.
Darby is his usual inept self as he struggles to keep his pack under control with cheesy slogans like “We’re werewolves not swear wolves” and fails to get them locked up in time for the full moon which of course leads to an all-out battle with Waititi and his clan.

There are hilarious run ins with ex girlfriends, vampire hunters, and a clueless human who happens to go the gala of the undead simply because he received an invitation. I rate this movie as FRESH and suggest that you check it out as the rest of the movies coming out this April are uninspiring to say the least.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Furious 7

I have received some pretty fresh birthday presents in the past but Furious 7 coming out on the same day as my birth ranks right up there at the top! Fresh cars, girls in bikinis, and random explosions is all any man could ever ask for as he gets older. But as I was thinking about the freshness that is the Fast and the Furious franchise, a question came to mind; what was the real reason behind Hollywood releasing this movie on Good Friday?

Is it because they think that Paul Walker is the real savior? Are they expecting him to randomly appear in my living room one day with a steering wheel stuck in his chest? And is it still way too early for me to make that joke? Well if his grave is found empty on Sunday morning, I will then change my view of him but as of now all he was, was just a cool actor whose movies I once enjoyed while he was alive. So having said that, I was both excited and a bit anxious about seeing his final film on screen. Every time a car crashed I cringed just a bit as it reminded me of the time I was watching The Crow, I just kept waiting to see the scene where Brandon Lee was accidentally shot on set. Thankfully nothing that creepy ever happened but they did give him a nice CGI sendoff at the end; it wasn't an Eazy-E "see you at the crossroads" sendoff but it was fresh none the less.

Thankfully the Furious franchise gets it, it's followed the Final Destination pattern to a tee, one where you actually try and make a decent movie with a real storyline in the first movie and then just say screw it and make a film that's full of nothing but what the public wants in the sequels. In Final Destination it was gruesome death scene after gruesome death scene and in Furious it's just fast cars doing fresh shit like causing explosions and fist fights between the Rock and Vin Diesel.  Well Furious 7 is no different as its 140 minutes of nothing but guns, explosions, and big booties!

Director James Wan (The Conjuring) has clearly been hanging out with nothing but black people lately as this film had more shots of women asses in it than the last Penthouse magazine I stole from my neighbor did. If you've been in a hole for the past decade and haven't seen any of the Furious movies, just know that Dom (Diesel) is the leader of some of the best street car racers the world has ever seen and over the years they've pissed quite a few bad guys off. Well the latest guy they've upset is Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham); he is looking for revenge on Dom and his gang as they took out his brother in Furious 6.

Shaw is an ex black ops badass who is basically a shadow, so he has the ability to show up anywhere at anytime and can take out an entire security team all by himself. He puts the Rock in the hospital in a pretty fresh fight scene early on in the movie and then turns his attention to Dom. He almost takes out Dom too but CIA agent Kurt Russell and his team come in to save the day. They make a deal to help Dom and his team find and take out Shaw but Dom's crew has to first help them find the developer of a new virus called "God's Eye"; it's a new software that allows you to track anyone's whereabouts at anytime. They must find her before someone who has bad intentions does.

So this of course leads to awesome over the top scenes where race cars are dropped from a plane, Paul Walker is taking on a kung fu master, and the Rock breaks out of his cast by simply flexing his muscles. There were multiple times in this movie where I found myself cheering and clapping and by the time the Rock double taps a drone plane to death and takes its mini gun, I knew that this was one of the best movies of all time. Wan does an incredible job filming these awesome action scenes and while he adds his own unique style to it, it's not so distracting that it takes away from the movie; much like the shaky cam did in the past.

So many fresh things happen in this movie that I could write about them for days but I will just let you experience them for yourself as this is one of the best action  movies to come out in a while. While saying goodbye to Walker was a bit of a downer, you can tell that the franchise is in good hands with those who are still living. I rate this movie as TIGHT, mainly because it made my buddy feel slightly gay for a second when he was reminded of how good looking Walker was in the first Furious movie.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Get Hard

After seeing 20 minutes of Soul Plane, I swore to myself that I would never see anything with Kevin Hart in it again; if I wanted to see a 4’2” dwarf on screen I’d simply watch the short little black man who causes havoc in Bad Santa or Friday instead. But Black people support one another no matter what the case is and it’s because of this that part of me still believes O.J. and R. Kelly are actually innocent.  Any Black man who walks around with a Zoro mask on has to be certifiably crazy and should be let off for that reason alone.

But back to my original point, I couldn’t hate on Hart forever, so I finally broke down and saw his movie Ride Along with Ice Cube; and while it was terrible, I found myself laughing quite a bit at the little leprechaun. So when I saw that he was teaming up with Will Ferrell for a movie and noticed that both of them would relatively have the reigns put on them, I allowed myself to be cautiously optimistic for its release.
Get Hard is a ridiculous comedy about James King (Ferrell), a successful stock trader who is about to be made partner in a large firm. His life is perfect as his boss is the father of his hot but greedy fiance’ and he owns a large mansion with multiple servants in the comforts of Bel Air. One day however, his world is turned upside down as he is arrested for committing fraud, a crime in which he claims he didn’t commit. The judge doesn’t agree with him and winds up sentencing him to 10 years in prison in San Quentin. So in order to prepare himself for what’s to come, he decides to hire Darnell (Hart), the man who has washed his car for years. He automatically assumes that this straight and narrow small business owner has been to jail simply because he’s black.

After a brief moment of being offended, Darnell decides to help James out because he offers him $30,000 to do so and this will help him get the down payment he needs to move his family to a better neighborhood and get his daughter in a safer school. The problem is that Darnell has no clue what life in prison is like so he reaches out to his cousin Russell (T.I.), who has actually been to prison for help.

This movie is silly much in the same sense that Old School was silly however that doesn’t mean it’s not fun. Early on there are a few stale jokes that fall flat but once Ferrell starts practicing his trash talking, you can tell that the director finally allows the comedians to incorporate their trademark styles into their characters.
Ferrell attempting to join Russell’s gang feels like something straight out of a SNL skit as he looks like a natural when it comes to watching girls twerk for him as he sips 40’s and smokes weed. The looks on his face alone when he’s dressed like a six foot Lil’ Wayne will have you in tears. And thankfully Hart isn’t yelling every five seconds as he usually does but he still does use his small physical stature to his comedic advantage as he allows himself to be used as a human dumbbell during James’s weight training.

One of the film’s funniest moments comes when Darnell effectively gives up on teaching James how to fight, so he takes him to a gay restaurant to practice his fellatio techniques as that’s the only was he sees him being able to survive in prison. You can’t help but cringe while laughing as James takes his new friend to the bathroom stall to pop his cherry so to speak. Only Ferrell would have the balls (no pun intended) to try something like this on screen.

I really hate to admit it but I actually wound up liking this movie; Hart and Ferrell mesh well together and they play off of their differences to perfection. It’s certainly not great but if you want mindless comedy, this is definitely for you. I rate Get Hard as FRESH!

Monday, March 30, 2015

New Artists: Sluteverbff and Hurray for the Riff Raff

People in Austin are seemingly having a hard time letting go of SXSW; I saw a homeless guy wearing old wristbands to the Spotify House and to Hype Hotel the other day. Maybe he was hoping someone would throw him an old Taco Bell taco? Or maybe he was hoping some drunk college girl would mistake his stench and his old ratty clothes for a hipster and take him home so he could experience air conditioning for the first time in a year. Either way, I was riding my bike around town on Sunday and every drinking hole was packed to the gills. I can’t really blame them though, this is an awesome town year round and it just so happens that great artists come here all of the time. Now with that said, here’s a look at two new groups you should check out.

First up is Sluteverbff, two West Coast girls who make frenetic punk music. Their name alone makes you want to slam an 18 pack of Beast Lite and motorboat them until the cows come home; and oddly enough that also works as a good description of their music. I like their sound a thousand times more than that of a similar band who’s getting a lot of love right now, Girlpool. Their song I Miss America is a nice ode to the grunge era and two other highlights you should check out are Smother and Teen Mom. I rate them as kind of FRESH!

Next up is Hurray for the Riff Raff; their sound is similar to something you would hear at a dance in Nixon, Texas. I would normally run away from this kind of music but there’s something about her yodeling on Look Out Mama that draws me in; maybe I have a secret desire to hook up in a barn or something. That I’m not sure of but what I do know is that this 17 year old runaway from the Bronx seems like she was born with a banjo in her hand. Solely based off the fact that I hate this style of music, they get a rating of kind of WEAK but you should definitely give it a listen.