Monday, June 22, 2015

Inside Out

I have finally come to the conclusion that I will never truly understand women or how their minds work. Heck, I have a hard enough time understanding myself and the thirty different emotions I feel while watching a stupid baseball game, so I can’t even imagine a lifetime of feeling this way or being in this emotional state(btw I realize women aren’t really this unstable… are they???). Well I went into Inside Out hoping that they would shed some light on this matter for me, albeit through the mind of an 11 year old girl, but hey, you have to start somewhere!

Inside Out takes you into the mind of young Riley, an 11 year old girl who seems to have everything going right for her; she has a loving family, great friends, and even a budding hockey career. All of her emotions appear to be in check as Joy reigns supreme and is in charge of all of her other emotions which include Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger. Well one day Riley is forced to leave her home in Minnesota and move to San Francisco because her father got a new job, and from the very second they arrive all of her emotions begin to get out of whack.

Her emotions are portrayed as these little beings who live in her head that accurately reflect their particular state (i.e. anger or fear) and each one of them at some point controls how Riley reacts to her surroundings via a giant joystick in her brain. Well after the move to San Francisco, Joy and Sadness somehow get lost in her mind and it’s up to them to find their way back to the main control center in her brain before things really get out of control.

Going into this movie, I was told that there were going to be plenty of gut wrenching moments and that I would cry for the last 20 minutes straight. And while I wasn’t quite balling in the theater, I did find myself getting a bit misty eyed at a few moments. You find yourself getting attached to some of the new characters Joy and Sadness run into and you, along with Joy, begin to realize that your body truly does need every emotion you experience on a daily basis.

There are plenty of goofy moments for both kids and adults, which is the true mark for great family film. When Joy and Sadness enter the Imagination Zone or the Dream World, the writers go deep enough to entertain and grab the attention of the adults while at the same time keep things silly enough for the kids to laugh at and enjoy as well. And sadly I found myself giggling more at the stuff that was intended for the six year olds than the 36 year olds but you should have been able to figure that out by now from my writing style.

I honestly can’t wait to see this movie again so that I can catch some of the stuff I missed the first time around; the writers really do explore quite a bit of the mind and how it works. Plus all of the cartoon characters are really cute and I can see them being a big hit once Halloween comes around this year. Inside Out is a smart, funny, and enjoyable ride for everyone and I suggest that you pop in. I rate this movie as very FRESH!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Dope

It appears that the rest of the world, or America anyway, is finally catching on to what Juneteenth is. For those who don’t know, June 19th is the day that word finally got to Texas slaves that they were free. The local rednecks chose to keep that rather important information from them because well…that’s Texas; people do what they want in this state!

The reason I say this is because a few years ago Dave Chappelle decided to put on an impromptu show at Austin's historic Paramount Theater on the 19th of June; and everyone was so excited that they got completely hammered and ruined the show by shouting every random thought that popped up in their heads. And while the theater was mostly Caucasian that night, it was very Night at the Apollo of them to act Black and feel like it was their God given right to shout whatever they wanted at the stage.

Well enter 2015, the year that the studios decided to release producer Pharrell Williams’ coming of age movie Dope on the now infamous Juneteenth. I guess they felt sorry for the average moviegoer and decided to release a "black" movie in the theaters so that they wouldn’t have to deal with both screaming kids and screaming Black people as they attempted to watch Pixar’s Inside Out. Well guess what America, I’m still going to see Inside Out and I’m sneaking in a 40oz when I do!

Anyway, being black, I decided to pop in on the movie Dope first and I am so happy that I did. This movie is an instant classic in the same way that Dazed and Confused, Clueless, or even PCU were when they first came out. It’s about an underdog kid who, through a series of wild events, is able to change the way the world sees him and ultimately grows up and becomes a man as a result of it.

In this movie you are introduced to Malcom and his two best friends who are all considered to be the geeks of their high school in Inglewood, California. They rock the hairstyles, clothing, and even all of the hip hop music from the 90’s and they are treated as outcasts (I almost spelled that Outkast, that’s how dope that group is) because they do what’s considered "white people" stuff; like getting good grades, wanting to go to college, and liking bands like TV on the Radio and Trash Talk. They even have their own punk/rap band, who makes some of the worst music you’ve ever heard in your life. And this is not a knock on NERD because I actually like them, but at first I thought this was Pharrell’s autobiography being brought to life on screen. It’s not.

One day while trying to avoid the local gangs on their way home from school, they run into local drug dealer Dom (A$ap Rocky) who convinces Malcolm to come to his birthday party. Malcom agrees to go because local hottie Nakia (Zoe’ Kravitz) will also be there. Now this is the point of the movie where I thought it was my autobiography, a kid who falls in love with Lisa Bonet’ or her daughter? Yeah, I’d go to a drug dealer’s birthday party in the hood too!

Anyway, going to this party sparks a chain of events that will dramatically change their lives for the next few months. All of a sudden they are introduced to a host of odd characters who include drug kingpins, rival gang members, and random hot Blasians (Black-Asians) who answer the door completely naked.

This movie takes you on a wild ride and it’s one that you hope never ends because it’s fun, funny, and one that every kid wants to experience, at least on some level. It’s smart as it tackles some pretty heavy social issues without ever being preachy and it also never forgets what it is and that’s a coming of age comedy. I loved this movie and I give it a solid rating of TIGHT!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Leon Bridges and Shopping

I didn’t quite know what to expect when I went to go see the legendary garage rock band The Sonics a few days ago. I mean this is Austin, so naturally you’d expect a ton of young rich white kids who try their absolute hardest to look poor to gobble up all of the tickets but The Sonics are old, so there was also the chance that I’d see my uncle there rocking his best James Brown outfit while sitting creepily in the corner and sipping on Crown Royal.

I’m just glad that there weren’t a ton of young frat boys there in togas chanting loudly for Louie Louie and attempting to play beer pong on the speakers. What I did see was a nice mixture of hipsters and old white dudes who had their Hawaiian shirts tucked in way too tightly in their super starched Dockers. I thought the point of buying Dockers was that you never had to iron them? Oh well, I can’t give them too hard of a time as I totally see myself wearing the same outfit 30 years from now when Muse comes to play a reunion show at Emo’s during SXSW.

The point of all of this is, reacquainting myself with The Sonics has made me a little bit nostalgic for an era that even my mom was a little kid in. The music and the times were simpler then but that’s not always a good thing; see rising star Leon Bridges. First off let me say that I dig his style, as far as clothing and his hair goes, but musically he adds absolutely nothing to the 50’s and 60’s Rnb genre that he is clearly um…borrowing from. He has a great voice and the music is flawless in its imitation of that era, which is great if all you want is to be reminded of that time and actually have new songs to sing along to. But this is 2015, we want to hear songs that are relevant today. I need to hear songs about getting your girl on the side pregnant and having to tell your main girlfriend about it (Usher) or hear songs about how you beat the rap for peeing on a girl in a video (R. Kelly). I don’t ever see there being a public movement to make Coming Home the next National Anthem. Don’t get me wrong, I like Bridges but I’d never pay money to see him live; at best he’d get some play during a dinner party where I was trying to get some hipster girl to sleep with me afterwards but that’s about it. Actually, no I’d still throw on some 2 Live Crew for that, gotta keep it 100. I rate Leon Bridges as kind of WEAK!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTrKkqE9p1o

Next up is Shopping, a fun British post punk band who has simple chords and melodies. They won’t take the world by storm but if you want to hang out with cute girls who wear sleeveless jean jackets and drink PBR because they actually think it tastes good then you should check these guys out. Their best songs are You’re a Sort and In Other Words. As of right now I’d rate them as kind of FRESH!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAwUnniv7eI&list=PLMiySkMov7nh0K5aIv1Zfh3EBx3YRSsx9&index=3

Friday, June 12, 2015

Jurassic World

When Jurassic Park first came out in the theater 22 years ago, it reminded us all that even as adults we could still be wowed by cinema (even though I wasn’t quite an adult at the time). I have always been a fan of dinosaurs and have always studied their history, so I have to say that it was a thrill, to say the least, to finally get to see them come to life on screen in a non-documentary format.

But by the time the second one came around, I knew we were approaching Back to the Future territory as it was also a franchise that started off with a cool idea but ended with Michael J. Fox riding horses in the Wild Wild West. Well in Jurassic Park 2 they decided to give Jeff Goldblum a black daughter; an obvious response to the fact that the only black person in the first movie (Samuel L. Jackson) chain smoked and died a horrible death, which is pretty standard fare for horror movies.

The issue, outside of the obvious, was that his black daughter couldn’t just be a normal kid; for some reason they decided to also make her a world class gymnast. So there she was, this little black girl swinging from tree to tree in the jungle just like a little monkey would!!! I didn’t know if I should laugh from the hilarity of what was happening on screen or if I should be unbelievably outraged and offended at the unintentional racism. All I do know is that for the safety of those around me, I was hoping that with Jurassic World they would forget about trying to be creative with the plot and would simply stick with what works, dinosaurs eating people. I didn’t want to have to turn into Wayne Brady and start slapping bitches in the theater. Please see the Chappelle Show if you don’t get that last joke, I don’t slap women or call them bitches.

Anyway, for the most part they did keep it simple. The writers and director Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) fast forward to 22 years after the disaster of the original Jurassic Park took place and show you a fully functional and supposedly safe Jurassic World. It his been in existence for quite a while and is basically viewed in the same manner as any normal zoo is today. It’s on an island in the middle of Central America and it even includes a petting zoo where kids are hugging and riding baby dinosaurs; a far cry from what we saw taking place in the original.

You are also introduced to the main characters who include the apathetic teenager Zach and his little brother Gray, a kid who knows absolutely everything there is to know about dinosaurs. They happen to be the nephews of the uptight and always business oriented Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), the woman who’s in charge of running the theme park. Claire is so focused on her work that she knows nothing about her nephews nor really seems remotely interested in spending any time with them. She does however seem to have a reluctant interest in the park’s main animal handler Owen (Chris Pratt) as he is an attractive loner who has somehow managed to gain the trust and control of the park’s velociraptors.

The reason I took the time to mention all of this is because the movie decided to spend a significant amount of time developing these characters and showing just how strained their relationships were. But anyone who has seen any summer movie ever knows that they will all eventually come together and find some bond after their lives have been threatened by that of giant man eating dinosaurs.

And speaking of giant dinosaurs, due to declining interest in the park, the scientists on site have decided to blend the DNA of a few species to create a new dinosaur that is bigger, better, and meaner than ever before to once again spark fear and excitement in the hearts of the patrons. Well as you can imagine, things go horribly wrong.

Fans of the original movie will enjoy quite a few moments as they repeatedly pay homage to Spielberg’s classic with t-shirts, relics, and even gadgets from the first one that now seem ancient. And while Trevorrow can’t quite replicate the suspense Spielberg once did when he had us all holding our breath as we saw the water trembling in the giant T-Rex’s footprint, there were a handful of memorable scenes that will eventually go down as classics themselves. Some of which include the giant hybrid dinosaur attacking the kids in their bulletproof sphere, the pterodactyls swooping in and picking up random people to be their food, and of course the scene where Chris Pratt is running alongside his raptors in an attempt to hunt down and kill the new hybrid.

In the end Jurassic World wound up being the quintessential summer popcorn flick; a movie that doesn’t require you to think at all and allows you to simply sit back, laugh, and enjoy the spectacle on screen. And while Trevorrow is capable of giving you something deeper but equally as fun as World is, as he did with Safety Not Guaranteed, he knew that with a big budget summer movie you have to keep it simple; and that’s exactly what he did.

The more I think about this movie, the more I enjoyed it; so based off of that, I have to give it a solid rating of FRESH! Oh if for nothing else, go see this movie so you can see a sweaty and busty Bryce Dallas Howard run around for two hours!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Brayton Bowman and Uniform

While I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the Prince dance party the other night, the fact that I saw old women wearing Go Go Girl outfits with diamond studded heels made me realize that it was high time for me to find some new artists to listen to. This way I could at least go to shows that have young girls wearing high waisted jeans which show off their wonderful FUPA’s and possibly even get a chance to make out with the next Zooey Deschanel. I mean her time as the hipster it girl has finally faded, so I should have a realistic chance at her by now, right? Oh well, with that in mind, here’s a look at a few new artists for you to listen to.

Brayton Bowman is a singer-songwriter from Philadelphia who seems to be following the Sam Smith formula, which is to try and be successful with one genre, only to get your heart broken by a dude, and then decide to switch it up to RnB because you once heard an Al Green song that touched your heart. And who can blame the man, How Do You Mend a Broken Heart has led many men to the beds of prostitutes and Hooters girls for years in the hopes that they will find comfort there. The difference between him and Smith is that he at least is bi as he apparently has a thing for Black girls too, something he made evident in the song Ride or Die. Typical. I guess he finally ended the decade long argument of if you should go for a Ride or Die Chick (The Lox) or a Hot Girl (Cash Money Millionaires) as Ride or Die chicks can apparently turn gay men straight.

His music reminds you of the days when RnB artists shamelessly talked about getting drunk on Crown Royal and booty calling their girls to come over; it’s just that instead of liquor he prefers blunts, see the song Jaywalk which contains the lyrics "it took 6 months of blunts to get the taste of you out of my mouth". One can only hope that this song was about a girl. His songs are for the most part all up tempo and will certainly have you dancing. Some of his highlights are Skin Deep and his wonderful cover of Britney Spears’ Hit Me Baby One More Time. Until today I had never actually heard that song in its entirety, I had only seen the video about a million times with the sound off but this song with its electronic feel has me seeing it in a whole new light. Right now I rate him as FRESH and suggest you check his music out.
https://soundcloud.com/brayton

Next up is punk rockers turned industrial artists Uniform. The band is made up of former members of The Men and Drunkdriver and the opening track of their new album Perfect World lets you know that it wasn’t a hard transition for them at all. It sounds like Trent Reznor B sides but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There’s not much movement in their songs but you’ll find yourself rocking out to the same crashing chord over and over again and it’s because of this that I find myself liking the potential of this band. It’s a bit too early for me to get a good feel for them but as of now I give them a rating of FRESH!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7QmkvoweCk


 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Entourage

Back in 2004 when HBO first brought us the hip comedy Entourage, it was an instant hit as it came out right around the time when everyone realized that getting famous was something that could realistically be attained with the rise in popularity of blogs, independent music labels and websites, and of course the infamous sex tapes. Everyone saw themselves as Vince or one of his three buddies from Brooklyn when they moved to Hollywood to take advantage of the lifestyle that we used to only dream about. It was cool to see how things actually worked behind the scenes in Los Angeles and to see how movie stars interacted with one another and with their agents.

Could it be possible to really hang out with Jessica Alba at one of her parties? Could I be the next Eric Murphy who went from managing an awful pizza place to representing one of Hollywood’s best up and coming actors? These were the questions this show had everyone asking themselves.

But then it all started to go downhill around season 4 or 5 when things stopped being fun and they tried to turn it into a drama. All of a sudden E is trying to become a real agent with his own office and clients, Vince is getting into real relationships, and Turtle starts crying at airports. It became Sex and the City but without the old woman boobs; and by the time the last season finally rolled around, people were openly begging for it to come to an end.

Well thankfully creator Doug Ellin decided to take over the writing and directing duties for this reunion movie and the result was what we were all hoping for; a return to season 1 of Entourage. He didn’t actually take us back to the first season but the comedy, sex, and relatability we all experienced in that season is definitely back.

The movie picks up just a week or two after the final episode of season 9; Vince is in the middle of getting his ridiculous marriage annulled, Eric and Sloan have broken up but are about to have a baby together, and Turtle and Drama are back to being Turtle and Drama. Drama is still struggling to gain respect as an actor in Hollywood and Turtle is just living off of the success of his tequila company. Ari, the person everyone in real life actually missed, has gotten approval from his wife to get back in the game so that he can become the head of a major studio, and his first move as studio head is to get Vince to be the lead in their big summer blockbuster. The only problem is, Vince demands that he also gets to direct it.

After giving into Vince’s demands, Ari, along with the movie’s main money man Larsen McCredle (Billy Bob Thorton), are getting a little worried about the quality of the film as Vince is constantly going over budget and he refuses to let anyone see a copy of the early cut. So McCredle demands that his son Travis gets shown a copy of the movie before he releases any more money, and once his son finally sees it, he comes back with a ton of ridiculous ideas of how the movie can be made better.

So now Ari has to turn into the Ari of old as he tries to meet the demands of the snotty kid while also protecting his investment, client, and friend Vince. I say Ari of old because Ari is trying his best to become a tamer version of his former self and as a result you don’t get the classic lines you are used to hearing in the television show. He does yell and go off quite a bit but most of jokes about gay Asians and his former girlfriend Dana Gordon get cut off before he has the opportunity to give us something truly quotable. Having said that, he is still the best part of this movie by far. Every time this long movie begins to have a bit of a lull, he pops on the screen just in time to punch a photo of a cute little kitten.

Vince and the gang throw wild parties on the regular that wind up having everyone who has ever done anything of significance in the past 5 years. You literally see everyone from Rob Gronkowski to Warren Buffett and all of the recognizable characters from the show are back, including Billy Walsh aka Wally Balls. There’s plenty of sex, fun, and high tension as Vince tries to keep his movie afloat, E tries to get back in the dating game, and Turtle tries to convince Rhonda Rousey to date him. If this movie fails, it could mark the end for Vince and Ari in Hollywood and that would mean HBO wouldn’t have the opportunity to give us an Entourage 2: Electric Boogaloo.

After walking into the theater highly skeptical of anything good coming from this forced production, I have to say that I walked out pretty pleased with the overall effort. I mean, it’s still Entourage, so don’t expect anything Oscar worthy but it was cool to see the old gang back together again making you laugh and once again dream about the possibilities in life. I give this movie a solid rating of FRESH and I suggest you check it out.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Lil Debbie and Elliot Moss

A friend of mine hit me up late Friday night to see if I had ever heard of the rapper Lil Debbie before, and in most cases I’d typically just say no, blow off their suggestion as something wack, and continue on with my night. But this particular friend is a fellow music nerd like me and I actually respect her opinion on bands as she has good taste in music and we’ve seen a number of shows together; so I decided to give this new artist a shot even though my mind was more focused on food than it was on booty shaking music.

The first song I heard of Debbie’s was Wiggle, a banger which happens to sample the legendary Too Short, and any rapper that has love for the Short Dawg instantly has my attention. As I was listening to her music I noticed that she had a nice flow and some pretty brash lyrics for an upstart female rapper, and just hearing her talk about making it clap took me back to the days of Lil Kim; a woman who I am sure she thinks is her spirit animal. If you google her name, the first songs that pull up are Bitches and Work the Middle, so that gives you a pretty good idea of what you’re in for when you listen to her music. I found myself digging it at first but the second I saw that she was white, I instantly wrote her off as a wack Iggy Azalea (who is wack herself) and I was ready to relentlessly make fun of my friend.

I decided however to hold off on the ridicule and to go check her out anyway because it was a cheap show, my friend is hot, and I haven’t seen a stripper on stage for quite a while. And as it turned out, I am so happy that I wound up going to see this modern day spectacle because this show brought out all of the freaks; I saw the poor version of the Bleachers’ Jack Antonoff there, I saw what an old Clark Kent would look like if he was an actual real person, and I also saw that every dirty stripper from the grimy Landing Strip decided to take the night off so that they could go and see their version of Michelle Obama.

Debbie brings a ton of energy to the stage and she has diehard fans who feed off her every move. So if you get the chance to see her live, do so as I promise you you’ll spend the rest of the night singing about Ratchet Bitches and Slot Machines. She gets a rating of barely FRESH.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOTpymGSbOs

Next up is Elliot Moss. I missed him when he came to SXSW this year but ever since he stepped on stage and wowed a few audiences there, I’ve heard nothing but good things about him, so I decided to check him out. I was hoping that he would bring something new to a genre that is quickly becoming stale and uninspired as more and more artists are simply doing their best Roger Troutman impersonation as opposed to actually coming up with something fresh and exciting. Moss is part of the electronic RnB movement that James Blake made popular when he released his brilliant Wilhelms Scream. At first I was a bit disappointed when I heard his most popular song Slip because it’s the kind of song that lulls you into a sleep that you’re afraid you’ll never wake up from. But thankfully by the time you get to Best Light and I Can’t Swim you start to nod your head a little more and you once again have hope for the future of this 21 year old kid. It’s not the most innovative stuff out there but it is promising, so I give it a rating of FRESH!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrEZV6mhdDs