Monday, September 22, 2014

Austin City Limits Day 3 Preview

I know that at most music festivals only the headliners have enough time to do what has become the tired and played out tradition of the forced encore. I’m sure that it was cool back in the 80’s when Prince or Michael Jackson would put on such an awesome performance that everyone in the venue was literally begging them for more. But we must remember that this was also the age when screaming girls would pass out at the beginning of shows (why don’t we see this anymore) , people would raise lighters during a slow song thinking that it was cool and adding to the atmosphere, and you would also brag to your friends about which concerts you were going to. Concerts?!?! I’m so happy that we just call them shows now; I mean I’m sure there was a time when people would pay money to see Andrew Lloyd Webber and his pals perform but then and only then could you call it a concert! But I digress, only one rant at a time.

The first hipster band that comes out on stage, rolls their eyes while letting out a disgusted sigh, and says “Ugh! We don’t do encores” is instantly my new favorite band! Seriously, most bands don’t put on a good enough show these days to even deserve our fake applause for more. We only do this because in most cases  they’ve left us so underwhelmed that we just want them to come out and play their most popular song to help make up for it. And why didn’t Jay Z’s song Encore put an end to this lame trend like his song Death of the Autotuner did to T-Pain’s career?  I’m just saying, I really hope a few bands read this and take it to heart; do something different that doesn’t include the stupid misspelling of your name. Speaking of…

The first band I will check out is Haerts; a ridiculous little pop band that is nowhere near as cool as the lovely ladies from Seattle (Heart) are but they give it their best try. There’s really nothing too memorable about them or their sound so I will probably just pop in for half of Nostalgia’s set too. Nostalgia is a dramatic emo band whose music would be the perfect soundtrack to an indie Danish love film. In either case you’re really just choosing a band to provide you background music as you try and figure out your plan for the day. They both play at 11:30 on the Miller Lite and the RetailMeNot stage respectively.

M0 is a ”cute in the right light” foreigner who can sing and has pretty catchy songs that you can dance to. She plays on the Honda Stage at 12:15.
Next up is Vic Mensa, he is a stoned hip hop artist out of Chicago who brings a smooth flow whether he’s rapping or singing, that matches his beats which are dripping with RnB flavor. It’s a style that reminds you of the fun and love able Pharcyde from back in the day. But to simply put him in this box isn't fair to his music or his style because he has a few jams that have thumping house elements in them and he can still switch it up and have a song that’s drowning in 808 beats. Please show up and check him out to help support creativity in hip hop. He comes on at 1:00 on the RetailMeNot stage.

AFI was the music industry's idea of rock for kids in the late 90's and early 2000's. I think I was still in my angry and fresh out of college old man phase in regards to music then, so I never fell for the trick. But if you want to take a trip down memory lane, by all means stop by the Honda Stage at 2:00.

Kongos is just a lot of instruments on stage that don't quite make you want to punch yourself. So as you can see, I don't think too highly of them but I'd pop in for a song or two. They play the Samsung Galaxy stage at 2:00

Bernhoft is probably the most interesting option of this time slot with his soul pop music; Euros singing soul always intrigues me. I'm not saying that it's the greatest thing in the world but he can really sing and I'm just wondering how far he'll take it in regards to borrowing Motown's sound. To the point of coming on stage with black face? Let's hope not. He plays the BMI stage at 2.

Jhene Aiko has been experiencing the ups and downs of life in the music industry since she was a teenager. But now it looks as though she has finally found her niche' as she has the female Anthony Hamilton/T-Pain thing going on by always appearing on other people's tracks but not quite seeing her solo stuff blow up. She definitely has the talent to blow up though as the little I have heard of her sounds promising. If I were you, I'd pop in just to hear something other than indie pop for a change.

Cults is just Lo-fi rock with a female lead and Fitz and the Tantrums sounds like they should be more fun live than they actually are. Neither option is that great but at least Fitz is indie pop that you can shake your booty to with Michael and Noelle sharing the vocals duty. Their band uses a lot of keys and they have weird streaks in their hair, so at least you have that to entertain you. The Cults come on at 3 and Fitz plays at 4.

Phantogram may be the best show of the day. Their songs Fall in Love and When I'm Small have been tearing up the airwaves and commercials for quite a while now. I saw them perform earlier in the year and their performance was nothing short of spectacular. Sarah and Josh combine to bring you an electronic party that will have you dancing for the full 60 minute set. They come on at 5.

You can also see the talented Jenny Lewis if you're looking to score points with your girlfriend and hopefully get laid that night. It's just hard to get me to watch singer-songwriters or light indie rock live because it puts me to sleep.

I'll see the alternative rock pioneers The Replacements over Spoon mainly because Spoon plays Austin all of the time. And then I'll head on over to see Chromeo (who are always underwhelming) before the Great Divide happens. What's the Great Divide you ask? Well that's when all of the old people with their lawn chairs and prescribed pain pills head on over to see Pearl Jam while the younger kids go dance to Zedd and Calvin Harris. By the way, with a name like that, how is Calvin not black? Oh well, I guess Kelly Anderson is a pretty white name, so I guess you never know.

Anyway, enjoy the festival you degenerates. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


I live in a city where there are literally 500,000 musicians walking around with a banjo or some sort of an instrument like a piccolo trying to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. You also see randomness like Black artists walking around in robes and shower caps or Hispanic dj's rocking the Skrillex hairdo. Now admittedly a lot of them are really talented but there's just too much competition in this city. So when I saw the trailer for Frank, I couldn't help but laugh because I know that it's just a matter of time before someone walks around with a Mickey Mouse helmet on their head trying to start a band. Oh wait, DeadMau5 already exists! It's too late hipsters, it's too late!

Anyway, the movie Frank is about a wannabe musician in John Burroughs; he can only play about three notes on a keyboard and he writes these awful songs. But one day he runs into this crazy Avant-garde indie band with an unpronounceable name that is full of these odd characters, half of which spent time in a mental institution. Now due to an emergency, they needed a keyboardist for their show that night, so they decided to invite the incredulous John to come play with them. And after some hipster nonsense cuts their show short, Frank decides that he likes John and he invites him to live out his dream of being a part of a band and recording an album with them.

You soon realize that Frank (Michael Fassbender) is a musical genius but for some reason he refuses to take off his mask under any circumstances. He can however literally write a beautiful song about almost anything on the spot and he feeds off of his equally weird and talented band mates which includes the psychotic Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Clara has these weird anger issues and they all seem to be directed at poor John; which leads to some pretty funny exchangess between the two of them. You halfway expect her to physically beat him every time they cross paths. But it's her anger that makes her an integral part of the band and you can see her channel this anger through her music. And I have to admit that the results are pretty good.

Once Lenny Abrahamson (director) allows you to get a feel for everyone in the band,  he takes you through all of the ups and downs that an odd ball band like this can experience. And eventually everything culminates when they make their trip to Austin for SXSW with the hopes of being discovered.

Fassbender is one of the best actors in the game right now. He manages to bring life to what is essentially a live action cartoon character in Frank with his charm and his vulnerability. As you get to know him, you feel as though you'd do anything  Frank told you to do musically because it's like having Thom Yorke for your older brother. He's a bit crazy but man he sure brings the best out of you. I had almost written Gyllenhaal off as another old face killah (see Kate Hudson) but the craziness she brings in this film had me strangely attracted to her. She is probably the most memorable character in the movie and that's saying something when it includes a guy that wears a giant mask the entire time.

This movie shows you all of the weird quirks of a band and takes you behind the music making process as well, most of which is pretty comical, but ultimately its a film about relationships and chemistry. It shows you what makes a band and what can tear it apart.

I have to warn you though, this movie was made for music geeks like me. It's not for everyone but it is an original and hilarious film that gives you a pretty spot on look at the music industry. I found myself looking up the soundtrack online when I got home because their noisy and dark music is right up my alley. I rate this movie as FRESH.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Austin City Limits Day 2 Preview

At this point you're probably still in awe of the last performance Outkast will ever put on in the city of Austin and you're also probably wondering if chicken wrapped in a tortilla and queso is quite possibly the best food that you will ever have in your life! But if these are the most forefront things on your mind, then I'd say overall you're off to a pretty good start to a weekend that would normally be soaked in urine and self loathing. Or maybe that's just MY typical weekend? Why can't it be ACL weekend every weekend? This is the closest to normal I will ever get! Anyway, on to shows I will be seeing on Day 2.

Somehow this guy got lost in the mix with the other 120 bands that were putting random years in their names and I forgot how fun his music was. But The Chain Gang of 1974 takes the best parts of every 80's synthesizer group and puts them into one sound. He has the "I'm constantly on recreational drugs" look on his face and with his catchy beats he seems to get what makes music really fun. All he is missing now is the British accent and we'd have the rebirth of Tears for Fears! Well not quite but pretty damn close. It means another early start for you at 11:30 at the RetailMeNot stage.

Full disclosure on this next group; I actually know most of them and I was blessed enough to even sing with them on one occasion. Thankfully for them and their career though it was just for a special event and it wasn't under their Levite name but hey it was awesome still the same! And just because we are friends doesn't mean I'd hype them up if they weren't any good. They are an award winning Gospel group that brings different styles to their sound which include funky Creole music and even a few Caribbean elements. They are a fun show with truly gifted singers and musicians to pop in on before you go off to cover yourself in sin for the rest of the day. They're on at 12:15 at the Bevintel stage.

At this point I will head on over to hear Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue on the Honda Stage. I'm not normally down with mostly instrumental bands, especially jazz bands from New Orleans because it's typically a tired rendition of the real thing. And I'd rather hear that kind of music when I'm in the Big Easy and I have an older Cajun woman whispering indiscernible things in my ear. But these guys are off the chain! They are actually successful in blending jazz and funk, and they even throw in a little hip hop to boot. This group is full of sick musicians and there is no way that I can claim that I love music without seeing some of the best the business has to offer.

I am hoping that at 3:30 I can finally break my streak of missing Polica perform; every time they are in town I miss them. They are an indie pop group whose lead singer looks like the long lost sister of the Keiran and Macaulay Culkin but man she sure can sing. Whether it's through a golden throat or her natural voice, she carries this group that has RnB elements in their music from time to time. Show up and you are sure to find your future husband or wife here. Austin Ventures stage.

I can write a book on why you should see Interpol at 4:30 but I will try and contain myself here. For as long as I can remember music magazines have tried to compare countless bands and their sound to that of Joy Division's; but it wasn't until I heard Interpol that I finally found one that we could agree on. If you don't have Turn On The Bright Lights, then you need to download it this instant because it is one of the best albums to come out in the past 20 years. This is moody indie music at its best. Carlos D (bass) along with his bolo ties and his combat boots is no longer with the band because he felt as though he needed more time to dedicate to DJ'ing and writing poetry with Kobe Bryant. But thankfully Paul and Daniel are still there and it's worth popping in just to see Daniel dance around with his guitar.

I will pass on the cute Swedish pop group Icona Pop mainly because I will be the oldest person there by about 30 years but I reserve the right to change my mind if I get a backstage pass. Apparently Swedish women love Black men; so I'm hoping that we can get together, make the next Willow Smith, and immediately retire.

I will however be seeing Iggy Azalea and I am not proud of this decision at all. When I first heard her music I literally almost threw up in my mouth. An Australian with a fake ghetto rap voice??? But then I saw her and her asset listed as one of the top ten best butts in the business and I decided to give her another listen. Men are so easy. Her lyrics and her style are both still unintentionally comical but damn those beats draw me in every time. Let's be real, if she were black no one would have ever heard of her because there are plenty of black women out there with big butts that can rap that get overlooked everyday. But it is what it is, I'm not going to hate on her for giving the people (including me) what they want. I've always wanted an non criminal Aussie chick with a big butt that likes hip hop music. Maybe we can get together and make the next Drake and immediately retire. 5:30 at the RetailMeNot stage.

Lana Del Rey sounds like she should be making the theme music for every Bond movie that will ever be made from this point on. She has a beautiful and seductive voice to match her beautiful and seductive appearance. She is crazy talented but I cant help but laugh at her when she tries to rap from time to time. She somehow survived the SNL debacle and seems to be going strong and gaining more and more fans with her trippy pop sound. I'll be there for the spectacle more than anything else but I would suggest getting there early because her die hard fans are known to camp out super early. 6:30 on the Samsung stage.

Now we're down to the big acts. Major Lazer could be fun if half of their guest appearances show up but that won't happen. Diplo has talent so I'll split time between this electronic/hip hop dance party and the weird indie rock collabo of Broken Bells.

Last up will probably be Skrillex for me. Nothing wrong with dancing to some dub step before I MAYBE give Eminem a complimentary listen as I head out to see the Hunters perform a show at the Mohawk later that night. I really hope Chappelle comes out on stage instead of M&M's and just says "Spaghetti Spaghetti Spaghetti!" over and over again.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Drop

Watching a new release which stars an actor who has recently died is always strange for a number of reasons. First, there's always the nostalgia; it's hard to see them as whatever character they are portraying because all that's in your head is the relentless number of tributes and stories that have been told over the past few weeks. Second, you wonder if they would have actually gone through with making the film knowing that it was going to be their last. Do you really want Something Wicked to be the last thing that's on people's minds? Or are you one of the lucky ones like Brandon Lee with The Crow? And speaking of Brittany Murphy, it's also weird watching them on screen and still wanting to have sex with them. I know that on some level that's a little gross but is that any weirder than watching Breakfast at Tiffany's and wanting to have sex with Audrey Hepburn? No, it's not! So leave me alone. She was at her peak in 8 Mile by the way but moving on...

On the surface it looks as though James Gandolfini lucked out by getting to work with director Michael R. Roskam; the same guy that directed the excellent and brutal Bullhead, my favorite foreign film of 2011. I am just thankful for him and every Sopranos fan out there that his last work wasn't The Mexican starring Brad Pitt. "Hollywood is crazy...First they had The Mexican with Brad Pitt and now they have The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise. Well I've written a film, maybe they'll produce my film. The Last Ni**a on Earth starring Tom Hanks." Paul Mooney

In The Drop Gandolfini is basically playing a retired Tony Soprano. He and his cousin Bob (Tom Hardy) run a bar in seedy Brooklyn where they are part of an underground criminal organization. They play the smallest of roles in it however as they are just the drop bar for whenever the crime bosses need them; they basically just hold on to the town's dirty money for a night. Marv (Gandolfini) tried being a player in the game back in the day but it never really quite worked out for him, so now he just works for the Chechens as their lowly front man.

His cousin Bob is the quiet and simple bar tender who keeps his head down and tries to avoid any real trouble. He's always the voice of reason for Marv and is basically his right hand man. But both of their lives are changed forever on the night that their bar is held up. The Chechens don't seem to care that it supposedly wasn't their fault, they still want their money and they make this very clear to them by sending them quite a few brutal messages. Not to mention the fact that Bob's new girlfriend Nadia (Noomi Rapace) brings her own baggage to his life which includes the mentally unstable and dangerous Eric (Matthias Schoenaerts).

The movie moves a little slow and you wonder where they are going with it at times but as the story unfolds and everything comes to a head, you find that you have moved from comfortably reclining to clinching the edge of your seat.

Earlier this year I wrote about how Ryan Gosling is the new Billy Dee Williams; you can add him in any movie and it instantly makes the movie cooler, see Empire Strikes Back and Tim Burton's Batman. Well Tom Hardy is now the white Denzel Washington! He cool, super talented, can morph into any character you need him to, and he steals every scene he's in. All he needs now are the giant veneers! He absolutely owns this role, as do the other actors in this movie. Roskam does an excellent job of getting the best from everyone involved in this film and in creating one of the best throwback crime thrillers from the 70's.

I rate this movie as very FRESH and I suggest that you pop in.

Oh by the way, what's with Hollywood and the rise of Chechnya? Decades ago all of the bad guys were British, then they moved on to Germans, Russians, and eventually made their way to the Yakuza and every Muslim on the planet. Now all of the evil men in the world are from Chechnya? I guess a random night in a Russian strip club went horribly wrong for some Hollywood execs!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Why Black People Will Never Wait in Line for Franklin's BBQ

It's 8 am Sunday morning in Austin, TX and outside my window I see people milling about with lawn chairs, fanny packs, and ice chests. It's a bit too early for the weekend jogger (even they're still hung over from the night before) and it's definitely not people running to get to Sunday School on time; even the church with the neon sign can't get Austinites to do that. So it can only be one thing, people getting in line to experience the latest phenomenon in this city and that's Aaron Franklin's BBQ.

Before I continue, I just want to say that I am Black and I have eaten at Franklin's BBQ three times. They without a doubt have the best brisket in the state and that's not really open for debate. Their ribs just happen to be pretty darn tasty too! But the longest I have ever waited in line for my food was two hours and that was by mistake. It was my first time eating there and I had no idea that the wait would be that long. Just so you know, the typical wait these days is just over three hours. The other two times I went, I only had to stand in line for 45 minutes but that's because I live right next to it and I know when to go. I'm keeping this secret to myself.

But every time I walk or drive by, I've always noticed that there are never really any Black people waiting in that line. And the ones that you do see standing there are either foreigners or the random displaced Negro (yes I just used that word) from Wyoming or North Dakota; probably the descendants of those that escaped via The Underground Railroad back in the day.

I knew why I would never stand in that long of a line again and that's because I live in Texas; there are unbelievable BBQ joints on nearly every corner here! And trust me when I say that there is not that big of a drop off between Franklin's and the #2 BBQ joint in this state. Also, if I want to go get what Texas Monthly considers to be numbers 2 through 5 on their list for best BBQ here, I can drive 30 minutes one way, sit down and eat, drive back, and still beat those that are waiting in line for Franklin's.

But was that just me? Were other Black people simply just too scared to be around that many hungry White people? Were they scared that it was too pricey? So I decided to ask around and I found out that they all pretty much shared my thoughts. Except instead of driving 30 minutes one way for BBQ, they'd just go to their neighbor's house or spark up the grill themselves. See, cooking good BBQ is a source of pride here. And most families have been handed down a recipe for generations, so your brisket or ribs has to be the best thing this world has ever seen to get a Black person to wait more than 20 minutes for it.

I mean heck, even our own President said it "Screw it! I don't care what these people think! I am not waiting in this line!" So he just bribed his way up front. I wish he had the same attitude when it came to legislation but moving on.

I was going to write something about how the last time Black people stood in the sun for that long they were picking cotton, and how no one wants to revisit that experience. But on the off chance my mom reads this, I decided to not include that. Plus that's a horrible joke and most people reading this probably don't get my sense of humor. And yes, I know I just wrote it but this is just the light version of it.

What I'm trying to say is, if Mr. Franklin wants more Black people eating his BBQ he should probably donate a few pounds of his tasty brisket to church functions or something because that's the only way they will experience it.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Austin City Limits Day 1 Preview

Do yourself a favor and don't overdo it the night before with an ACL after show or some pre ACL partying with tequila, because we are in Texas and it can still reach 90 degrees in October here. I don't want you looking and feeling like my new bartender friend in Marfa who was crazy friendly the night that I met her; however the next morning on our way out of town, my buddy and I see her walking and looking like a pale zombie in the same clothes from the night before, obviously regretting whatever terrible decisions she had just made. Sadly I wasn't one of those terrible decisions.

I'd also caution against getting there early and double fisting two tall boys (that just doesn't sound right does it) while baking in the sun. I don't want you ending up looking like the homeless hippie that's passed out under a tree by 3 o'clock. So no matter how you take that previous statement, the end result will probably be the same; you'll wind up alone, dejected, and probably questioning your morals at some point. But on to the acts that I will be seeing.

I never, I repeat NEVER get to ACL before 2 o'clock for the reasons I stated earlier. But this year Arum Rae is playing the Austin Ventures stage at 11:15 so I have to break my own rules for a change. I liked it better when she lived in Austin, then I could legally stalk her by paying to see her perform once a month. Now I have to wait for the random pop in to hear her sexy and sultry voice seduce me into contemplating jail time. For legal reasons that's as far as I will go with that thought but just know that visions of a large fishnet and a getaway van has popped up in my head on occasion. I kid, I kid, please don't call the cops. Her sound is an awesome mix of sexy blues, country, and indie rock. And recently I heard a remix of one of her songs that was electronic heavy, so it sounds like she's expanding and starting to sound similar to Phantogram. But I've talked about her ad nauseam on this site, so here is a link to her music so you can check her out for yourself.

After this there's really no one I'm crazy excited about during the day, but I will pop into the Night Terrors of 1927 set around 11:30ish. With a name like that you'd normally expect to hear a sound like The Horrors or maybe even Dying Fetus, but sadly all you're left with is ABBA reincarnated. My favorite song of theirs I guess would be Fall Into You because at least I can nod my head to it a little, but everything else is total cheese. Especially Young and Vicious, it's a song that makes you think that they actually loved that awful movie I Know What You Did Last Summer with lyrics like "when we were young, I know what you did" playing over sad and soft music that Jennifer Love Hewitt probably lost her virginity to. The only good thing I can say about this set is that it's close to the craft beer tent, so at least you can drink 8% beer while contemplating hurting yourself. Please don't hurt yourself.

Next up will be the pop rock band The Preatures. I also avoided these guys during SXSW this year but I guess I will finally break down and see them, mainly because there will girls there that are probably way too young for me. But hey, at least we can dance together. They play at 1 on the Austin Ventures Stage.

This one was an easier decision for me a few months ago but after listening to the Moats a few more times, they have finally grown on me. There's really nothing special about them in that they sound just like every other indie band that has come out in the past 8-10 years but they have a pretty tight sound, which is more than I can say for a lot of bands these days. They sound next of Young the Giant...if Giant didn't suck that is. I might split time between these guys and Temples. I saw the Temples at SXSW and they sound a lot better and are far more engaging live than their recorded stuff. That is typically a recipe for disaster especially when talking about psychedelic music but these guys are the exception. They play on the Retail Me Not and Miller Lite stage respectively at 1:15.

I know that most of you will choose to dance like fools to Capitol Cities at 2:15, but if you do you are missing out on seeing a Reggae legend in Jimmy Cliff. I know that Bob Marley gets all of the love but Jimmy was just as influential in bring reggae music to the US as he was. And trust me when I say that this won't be like seeing 60 year old grey hairs still trying to sing punk music and appear relevant, this dude can still bring it. Black don't crack! I'm sure you've all heard I Can See Clearly Now and The Harder They Come at some point in your life so get your butt on over to sing and dance with the rest of the older hippies and dread heads that will be floating through the park that day. I would suggest bringing a doctor's mask though if you don't want to fail a drug test on Monday morning.

I'll pass on seeing the Fun. side project in Bleachers and will probably just head for the food trailers. At this point the munchies should be kicking in from the second hand smoke at the Jimmy Cliff show.

But I will be splitting time between Chvrches and Paolo Nutini at 4:15. I saw Chvrches a few years ago at SXSW and while they were a fun version of Purity Ring, the guy with his stupid florescent hat and their dumb name spelling bothered me for some reason. Plus at the time I didn't think that they could bring anything new to the electronic indie pop sound, and it turns out I was right. Doesn't mean they're not worth popping in for a quick booty shake though.

Paolo sounds like he grew up listening to early Motown and spent his entire adolescent years trying to perfect that sound vocally; similar to me trying to get rid of my Texas drawl. And I have to say that for the most part he was successful in his effort. He even recruited a few slightly overweight black women to provide back up vocals on Let Me Down Easy, just like Ray Charles did on his songs back in the day. Don't miss this dude.

St. Vincent confuses me. I cant really nail down what her sound is, which usually can be a good thing. It's just that she's so inconsistent that I don't feel right in recommending dedicating an hour to her. She looks like David Byrne's long lost twin, so you can at least show up to giggle at that. And really, musically she's almost as weird as he is too, so if that's your thing I'd suggest checking her out.

I saw Sam Smith aka the second coming of Jon B at SXSW this year and he can sing; it's just that some of his lyrics are a bit too personal for me. Imagine Green Day's masturbation song set to RnB music. Luckily one of the most beautiful women in the world happened to be next to me during his show so that helped. So I'm choosing Smith with the hopes that girl shows up again. I'll also include his song with Disclosure so my friend can lose her mind and quite honestly you probably will too once you hear it.

Now we're down to the acts that are so big it wont matter what I say here, you're gonna see who you love anyway. But I will pop in Childish Gambino, The Glitch Mob, and Outkast. And let's be real, if you choose the hippie Scientologist Beck over Outkast, then this is probably one instance where it's better for you to hurt yourself versus that of seeing Beck's show because that's better than letting Xenu get a hold of you! And no, Xenu jokes will never get old to me! Come on y'all! It's freaking Outkast!!!!!

O U T K A S T!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Mood Indigo

Michel Gondry has to be one of the weirdest Frenchies that has ever grace this planet; and trust me when I say that that's saying something! He uses stop motion animation to recreate the bizarre images in his head and in the process he creates this unusual world where clouds can be a mode of transportation and people can manipulate time by simply using normal everyday household items. In fact I was so inspired by his films, that I once tried building my own time travel device by using an old rotary dial telephone, duck tape, and wire, that I was going to give to my girlfriend at the time. But sadly she had never seen the movie The Science of Sleep, so she didn't get it, she thought I was weird, and eventually she broke up with me. But now she's rich, married, and living in Seattle versus that of being poor and living in the hipster ghetto of Austin; so it looks she made the right choice after all. Damn you Michel Gondry!

Anyway, since Sleep, Gondry was talked into making two horrible films in Be Kind Rewind (Jack Black) and The Green Hornet (Seth Rogen) in the hopes that it would help break him into the American mainstream. Thankfully though they both bombed and he's now back to doing what he does best and that's making love stories for weirdos. And in Mood Indigo, it looks like they took the reigns completely off of him and the results couldn't be any better.

With Mood Indigo, Gondry shows you a different side of Paris. Yes, it's still the city where everyone loves to eat, drink, party, and fall in love but in this version pianos can make cocktails, mice are a man's best friend, and computers aren't made up of processors and chips; they are made up of little humans that are making calculations. There is so much going on in every scene that's it's nearly impossible to keep up. Every dinner is an adventure as each course literally comes to life just as it's about to be presented to it's diners. At dance parties, people basically turn into Plastic Man as their limbs grow to unbelievable lengths. And there are also see through limos and go kart races to determine who is truly worthy to be married that day. And the best part of it all is that there is an actual story to goes along with this visual orgy.

In this odd world you meet Colin, a rich Frenchman who spends his days hanging out with his best friend Chick and his lawyer/chef friend Nicolas. They enjoy everyday to the fullest by chasing women, inventing these weird creations, and eating the best foods that this world has to offer. But one day Colin realizes that everyone in his life has fallen in love but him. So Nicolas's girlfriend decides to set him up with the beautiful Chloe (Audrey Tautou). After a few weird exchanges, they realize that they were meant for one another and they eventually get married. But soon after they are married, Chloe becomes sick with a rare disease; one where a flower is growing in her lungs.

So as you can see the weirdness continues, which is pretty much on par for a Gondry flick. This is an unbelievably funny movie, it's just that it's subtitled and they talk so fast, you kind of have to be on your toes to follow the words and all of the action that's happening on screen. Even during one of the film's saddest moments, there's still a scene a two that is thrown in to hopefully make you smile, but what's happening is so brutal that you feel awful for even wanting to laugh. And that's part of what makes this the quintessential French love story, it runs you through the full gamut of emotions. The first half makes you fall in love with Paris, the French way of life, and even love itself but the second half reminds you what life is really like and it makes you never want to fall in love at all. And I love the fact that Gondry is so adept at changing the mood and the tone of the film by simply using lighting and the set that the actors almost become the backdrop to the story. Almost.

Tautou can light up a room all by herself with her wonderful smile and her petite presence. And Gad Elmaleh (Nicolas) makes you wish that everyone could afford their own lawyer/chef. But really, all of the actors are great and every character leaves an impression on you. I absolutely loved this film and I give it a rating of kind of TIGHT!