Sunday, August 31, 2014

The November Man

When I saw the title of this movie, I thought it was a reference to Pierce Brosnan's age and the fact that he wasn't quite too old to be a spy yet but that he was getting close! You know like the May/December romance thing that happens from time to time. I'm still upset about Cate Blanchett giving it up to that little kid in Notes on a Scandal. Yes, yes I know it's just a movie but I still can't get it out of my head! Why couldn't I be that little kid???

Anyway, my buddy and I obviously didn't think too highly of this film going into it as all we could think about were songs that had the words November or December in them and why they weren't playing over key scenes in the movie. Songs like November Rain should have been playing as Brosnan entered a strip club and made it rain with dollar bills (my buddy's joke) or I'll Be Gone Til November plays when his scrub protege's girlfriend gets cut up and left for dead. Thankfully we didn't find a good spot for The Counting Crow's A Long December but I think you get the point by now.

November Man is about the rush to find Mira Filipova, a woman who as a young refugee witnessed something that could possibly bring down the Russian president elect in Arkady Federov. Federov has hired an assassin to kill everyone that was linked to him in the past and Mira is the last one left on his list. So the C.I.A. reaches out to super spy Devereaux (that's too long to type, so I'll just call him Brosnan) to help bring in their undercover operative who has key information that could help find this woman before the dangerous Federov does. However once Brosnan is involved, he realizes that everything is not as it appears to be and that he is caught in the middle of some high level spy games which reach him on a personal level when he discovers his former partner is opposing him.

There are a lot of twists and turns in this movie and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by this engaging spy thriller. The first 10-15 minutes comes off as a low budget B movie but once the story picks up, it's like the director decides to step up his game as well. He actually demands more from his actors, who all seemed like they were mailing it in early on, and the action scenes are less choppy and more impressive as the plot gets more and more complicated.

There are quite a few really intense scenes, some of which will actually cause you to cheer at the end of them. I'm a sucker for both gun play and trash talk and there is more than enough of that going on throughout this entire film. This is easily the best Bond movie that Brosnan has ever made, even though he's not playing the role of James Bond. I think even he knows that Tomorrow Never Dies and The World is Not Enough both sucked and he wanted a chance for redemption. And I have to say that he finally came through. The only thing that bothered me is that this movie could have been elevated to the next level had they actually cast his protege' with someone big. Why settle for Luke Bracey? Why not get Chris Pine or Gordon-Levitt? Everyone knows that Bourne wouldn't have worked without Matt Damon. You notice they didn't cast Justin Long for that role. But that was just a minor blip for an overall entertaining movie.

I rate it as FRESH! By the way, did you notice that I didn't include Goldeneye as one of Brosnan's Bond failures? That's mainly due to the fact that the video game was so awesome and that it had Famke in it at her peak. Which leads to the real question I wanted to get to, who was hotter at their peak? Famke Janssen or Olga Kurylenko?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Naomi Punk and Benjamin Booker

Now that I have made a conscious decision to become a struggling artist at the age of 75, maybe it's time I move out to Marfa, Texas, work at an art gallery, and tell everyone that I'm a poet; yet I still have the money to buy polo shirts and take my girlfriend out to dinner. I was just there and this was an actual person that I met. How can these people afford to do this? Maybe it's because it's a small and sleepy town in the middle of nowhere Texas, so rent must cost $20 a month. Whatever the reason, expect to see me living in a tepee in the next 6 months fighting off roadrunners and rattlesnakes! But before I do, here are a few real artists to check out.

First up is Naomi Punk. As much as these guys may try and run from Washington's grunge roots, grunge still pops up in their sound. It's closer to being lazy garage punk than anything else but I won't be surprised to see these guys make an appearance during a club scene in the new television show The Crow : Oh Y'all Must've Forgot, coming to Fox three springs from now. Come on, you know it's inevitable; its been far too long since someone has tried to capitalize off of Brandon Lee's surprise hit from the 90's. What I like best about this band is that their lyrics are fairly simple and that's perfect for someone as dumb as me. I rate these guys as a little WEAK, not because I don't like them but because I need to hear more range from them as they grow. Check them out.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_5CE3c83Lg

Next up is Benjamin Booker;  he looks like the token black guy that C3 would typically book for ACL, so they don't have to book any real Black acts in his place. It's generic garage rock that has a southern fried country flavor at times. This is music that is tailor made for the daytime slot at an outdoor festival. And kids will absolutely love him because this will mark the first time in their lives that they get to smoke weed outside of their friend's basement; so everything will sound and feel awesome to them, including this. Get on this guy now because he is the opening act for Jack White this summer. Have You Seen My Son would be the best of what he has to offer but don't get caught up in the fool's gold. David Letterman absolutely loves him, so that should say everything you need to know. I rate him as WEAK but decide for yourself.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkUIknxbg6Y


Monday, August 25, 2014

Sin City : A Dame to Kill For

Let me start off by sharing with you my love for all things Jessica Alba. When Dark Angel first came out in the early Noughts, my roommate and I literally ran to the television every Monday night at 8 to watch it (this is back before everyone had DVR), and I would sing this stupid little Dark Angel song that I had written myself. Now before you freak out, it was only three words long, so I wasn't that big of a freak but just know that it was unbelievably fresh. Anyway, she was so hot back then that we even hated Metroboy (Michael Weatherly) because she wanted him on the show and in real life too apparently. That bastard! But as the years passed and she married that scrub Cash Warren, she got a little older and had children; leading to her awkward and not quite as hot mom days. It didn't matter to me however, I still saw all of the horrible movies that she made even during this little weird period of her life. Thankfully though, it didn't last that long and she is back to being the sexy phenom that she was always meant to be. And if I were Cash Warren I'd be on the lookout for a scrawny black guy wearing a Muse t-shirt and a grey hoodie because he's coming for you! Not really, I'd get winded after running 20 feet.

The point of all of this is, is it's ridiculous to me that she plays a stripper in both Sin City movies and she never gets naked in either one of them. I mean, don't you think her loyal fans deserve at least one nipple at this point? I'm not being greedy! She can just look at Carla Gugino and Regina King for inspiration, they both hooked us up with images that will last a lifetime! Just marinate on it for a bit Jessica, that's all I'm asking.

Well thankfully in Sin City : A Dame to Kill For, Eva Green (forever the crowd pleaser) and Juno Temple step up to the plate! Green is naked in every movie she's in except for the stupid PG-13 Bond movie, and this is why I'll pay to see her recite Kobe Bryant's horrible poetry on screen for three hours if Hollywood asked me to. And Juno obviously read my mind as she provided me with a unexpected surprise in her odd scene at the beginning of the movie.

Now the movie starts off with Marv (Mickey Rourke) waking up on the side of the road next to these two wrecked cars with no idea how he got there. But as things start to come back to him, you see Marv basically being Marv; looking for a fight and finding one with these awful frat boys who are lighting homeless men on fire simply because they're bored. Next thing you know, there are car chases, guns going off, and arrows being shot! A pretty fresh way to start off the first 5 minutes of your movie.

From there you are introduced to the other story lines which include Johhny (Gordon-Levitt), one of the luckiest and most skilled men you'll ever see on the slots or the tables. He seems hell bent on beating and embarrassing Senator Roark in front of his friends by taking his money. When he does however, it leads to Roark using all of his resources to exact revenge on him; and if you know anything about the Roark family, they do far worse things to you than simply killing you. You are then introduced to Ava (Eva Green), the apparent damsel in distress who has this tight hold over Dwight (Josh Brolin). She pleads to him for his help, telling him that her life is in danger; and against his better judgement he falls for it and proceeds to recruit Marv to help him save her life. He, like most men, is blinded by her beauty and charms and cant seem to think clearly; and as you can imagine this leads to his possible demise. And lastly, there is still poor Nancy (Alba) who cant seem to get over losing the love of her life Hartigan (Willis), so she is drowning herself in alcohol and plotting a way to kill Senator Roarke; the man responsible for his death. Overall some pretty dark and depressing story lines.

The movie is similar in tone to the first one with it's over the top noir; the characters make these exaggerated movements in almost every scene and every character is seemingly infected with the city's evil nature. And I love this by the way, it's like the entire film was made specifically for Nic Cage to star in. Sadly however, he didn't make an appearance. You can't help but giggle at a few of the scenes but overall the style seems to work. But the problem is, it's not as fun or as polished as the first one was and ultimately that was its downfall. While Brolin was good, he didn't quite portray the coolness of Dwight like Clive Owen and his British accent did. And when it came time for his plastic surgery to change his appearance, they just simply gave him a wig. It was so stupid! He looked exactly the same! Would it have hurt to have someone else play his role in the scenes that followed? I mean, you changed the actor from the previous movie, why not do the same in this film? It's not like we got that attached to the Brolin; this would've been the perfect spot for Cage! Whatever, yet another missed opportunity. And even though I love him as an actor, Gordon-Levitt's story was pretty useless. The only good thing it had going for it is that involved Christopher Lloyd and I will never complain about that.

The women are all beautiful in it and Eva Green walks around completely naked for at least 10 minutes of the movie. So when you get bored, you at least have that to wake you up. Marv is usual awesome self as he destroys everything in his path. But Dennis Haysberth didn't quite work as the new Manute; he was nowhere near as imposing as Michael Clarke Duncan was! Lastly, this movie needed more Miho doing fresh things with blades. She's basically in it for 3 minutes.

Overall I was entertained, it just seemed like they rushed to get this one done, even though it had been 9 years since the last one. I give it a rating of kind of WEAK but still suggest you check it out to support the genre.

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.