I will post some of my own reviews, but I really want to review stuff that people want to see. If you want something reviewed, send me a message, carrier pigeon, telegraph or fire signal.
If you make music and want critiques, hit me up in the message box as well. I don’t bite!
One of the most disconcerting things I’ve noticed as a music lover is how ill-equipped others seem when scooping their friends on a new sound.
Friend 1: Hey, you got anything new on your iPod?
Friend 2: Yeah man, The Smiths! Check’em out, they’re great!
Friend 1: Oh, OK. What do they sound like?
Friend 2: *too busy being an asshole and not caring out his friend’s feeling while jamming out to Morrissey & co*
Friend 1: Eh, whatever. Might as well listen to Rebecca Black for the thirtieth time…
It’s similar to a father, grinning ear to ear, picking up his young son by the ears and casting him in the the deep blue and hoping he learns how to swim instantly.
Guess what - he doesn’t; the only result of that open ended and harrowing dive is phobia and an aversion of something great. But I digress.
Here are some great ways to (properly) share new music in hopes of actually winning over a listener and not giving their exploration up to ghastly chance.
But no matter what method you choose, even if you try your own method, keep the crucial tenet of specificity in mind. Give that person a tangible idea or song to start from and make sure they know what to expect.
I’ve missed out on some really great music, only to retread back in boredom and find out that I loved it (sorry 21, Nocturne, Visions, Strange Mercy, Breakup Song, Teflon Don, xx, et cetera).
This a review of a Nigerian film that I wrote yesterday for a friend’s site. It was a bit elevated for the blog’s taste, however, so here it is in all of its femdoggish glory.
A dusty courtyard, littered with young socialites chatting away about pressing matters such as who’s dating who or “what dance is d latess ting mehn,” soon turns into a riotous ruckus as a limosine enters and pulls up near a beige cantina. Two men jump out of the vehicle, furiously berating the overly dressed members of this horde who continously jump about and claw at the car as if the risen Michael Jackson wait inside of it. After what seems like an eternity, a purple-haired woman, painted in makeup and working those white boots, casually limps her way to the building.
The crowd now aggressively follows with an awkwardly set distance of two feet. She finally slips inside, the two bodyguards pouting like the fake thugs they were hired to portray as the rabid horde continues to shit itself in insane ecstasy. All of a sudden, the same woman, although stripped of her splendor, lay in a bed, awoken from her hellish fever dream. “Ah, if only the dream were a reality,” she sighs sadly. Welcome to the sloth-paced, harshly toned and crudely acted epic dramedy that is Lady Gagaa.
Please excuse the tedious set up, but it accurately displays how much self-importance the film puts into tired cliches, mediocre directing and a real lack of talent from the cast. In fact, when the film actually manages to offer glimpses of well-manicured struggle or poetic depth, it promptly gets destroyed by the ham-fisted dose of Nollywood nonsense that comes before and after it.
Lady Gagaa’s plot in itself has some interesting bits to offer viewers, but not much. Stefani (Oge Okoye Duru) lives in the River State area of Nigeria, near a general highway (which they frequently use to connect otherwise unrelated scenes) but she most definitely dwells in a village environment.
She lives in perfect dissonance with her balloon-shaped, perpetually scowling gremlin of a mother, who takes time out of her own lousy schedule to put Stefani down and make her truly feel like the “cheap harlot” everyone believes she is.
She’s been slandered as such because of her boyfriend Chris’s (Johnpaul Nwadike) musically barren mates, all of whom have tried to sleep with her, and one of whom, Drake (Chigozie Atuanya) sluggishly attempted to rape her in a flashback.
Nonetheless, her deep-seated morals and reasonable self-esteem does not resonate well with the group as they spread lies like “yeah, I totally banged that broad” around the village.
Stefani truly receives nothing but hatred and disdain throughout the entire film, as if she were a bruised piece of fruit consecutively stepped on by a circle of farmers. Chris does his best to defend her honor, but at the end of the day, shouting “stop” into the belligerent face of ignorance which is Drake begets nothing but more insults. Her only pastime that gives little comfort, singing along to Lady Gaga videos (with a Wii remote in hand…?) brings about more wahala from her mother.
Keep in mind that this directional and neat-sounding plot plays out in a way more lumbering and abrupt fashion than it sounds. Similar to the introduction’s questionable run of events, each scene has the painfully slow pace of an SAT test, while each one forcefully cuts to the next as if shoving the viewer’s head into a cold bucket of water.
Equally jarring and cumbersome, the acting really makes one wonder how certain cast members secured their roles. That’s some blatant ass corruption if Atuanya simply got his role by bribery or nepotism, because MY GAWD he’s atrocious.
It’s understandable that he portrays a useless speck of a man who connives and womanizes, but there’s no excuse for improper word inflection. This guys talks like a drunk Microsoft Sam, and he acts like a knockoff of Charlie Sheen who snorts a boatload of cocaine between each take.
Thankfully Stefani and Chris, arguably the main characters, put in stable performances which remain anchored by their believable love for each other. Stefani, the battered center of the film, still finds herself drawn to Chris, and he to her despite the niggativity raining down on them by his buffoonish companions.
And oh, lest I forget the startlingly poor performance from one Funke Akindele, a veritable Nollywood actress worthy of memory. She gives a little bit of the Funke Factor in her initial moments as the stubborn assistant Luisa to the “biggest rap spitter in d wo’d,” Ray Martins (Yemi Blaq), but she soons coasts her role into common trivial bickering and even reality show-level skankitry as she lets the boss hit to secure her job. Ugh, it’s bit of a sting to see an otherwise established actress pander to the film’s local aesthetic in such a way.
But Lady Gagaa truly deserves no bit of blame on its own. Many of the film’s flaws — the avalanche of cliches, half-assed acting, shoddy camera work, trifling character interactions, overuse of wardrobe, incredibly long scenes involving mundane tasks such as people walking or putting on clothes — rest solely on the shoulders of Nollywood’s aggressive production system.
Don’t worry about subtlety in theme, camera tricks, dramatic readings, proper scene preparation or even a bigger soundtrack budget. Get people together, shoot the scenes, slap it together, burn it to a VCD, wash, rinse, repeat.
This erroneous system works much like a runaway train. They hastily speed towards the destination, never taking the time to check the dials, fix the engine and lubricate the wheels and axles, so that when the huge bundle of mass finally needs to stop and reflect, the pent-up acceleration laughs in the face of artistic truth and slings the disheveled monstrosity to its shitty and underwhelming conclusion.
Lady Gagaa is not a good film, but the quality of its outcome may not have been on the mind of director Obong Bassy Inyan or anyone else involved in the process, which makes the loss of an hour from my life much more painful.
Uh… I don’t know if I want to roll my eyes or laugh in astonishment. After the last episode’s risky yet intriguing series premiere hook — the death of a supposed lead role, Hubbel — the show was destined for some really tangible plot proceedings, some of which played out as one would expect. But for this episode to eerily parallel its predecessor in terms of plot points AND twist seems like a cop-out.
Or maybe because its so damn fresh on my mind. Prior to the episode’s ending, I was pleasantly admiring what it had to offer. With Hubbel abruptly cleaved from the situation, Michelle and Fanny are left with no focal point to hypothetically cat-fight over. Fanny begins planning the world’s most Western-influenced Buddhist funeral, complete with tarts, a bulging guest list, a sitar player named Robbie, matching napkins and capes, and of course custom meditation chants: “Ah, finally, a chance to use my high school Tibetan,” nervously jokes one her friends.
She envelops herself in this flippant affair clearly trying to avoid the fact her son is dead, while Michelle is left to do nothing, confounded at her unlucky circumstances. She, in response, does very little for the first half of the episode, merely watching Fanny wrap herself in the minutiae of planning and trying to avoid Truly, Hubbel’s ex-girlfriend who kinda sorta killed him via car accident. Michelle also adorns this numbingly frank demeanor when permitted to speak in the latter half that actually seemed cool and appropriate, like “yep, of course the one time I try to get right with a guy, he up and dies!”
Speaking of a numbingly frank demeanor, the snooty leader of the ballerina quad, hereby named “Snooki” for lack of knowing her actual name, treats the death as any bored teenager would – with a glowing opportunism. She rounds up the other girls from their respective classes under the notion that their “dear dance teacher’s heart has been broken” while they then catch some awful-sounding Mark Wahlberg action flick. Boo, the body-conscious and seemingly socially conscious member, immediately becomes the foil, waging war against Snooki’s petty and morally bankrupt scheming.
To be honest, this side-story was the least interesting part of the whole thing, but Palladino’s billion-word-per-minute flavor of repartee kept the show at a brisk pace, even if characters yapped on about the nuance of a stare. The best writing comes when Michelle finally breaks Fanny down, sending missive after missive of faulty memorial planning onto the flimsy barricade surrounding her emotions. Seeing Fanny actually emote, rather than callously react or judge, has an odd disarming quality to it. Of course she doesn’t know how to act; the only person she loved was taken away from her, and left some ungainly chatterbox in his place.
Thankfully the chatterbox quickly made amends, thanks to Snooki’s sudden change of heart when seeing her fallen dance instructor sobbing on the couch. The dance she and her fellow ballerini (is ballerina a Latin noun? it is now.) performed for Fanny and her closest friends totally justified the new Disney channel model of multi-faceted actors. To a gruff and earnest Tom Waits tune, they gracefully eulogized Hubbel, and also reminded us about the whole dancing pinpoint of the show. Its honestly great to have a group of young actors who can not only portray roles with a known ease and perform an ancillary art without pop sentiments, but who never seem desperate to show off.
And yeah, the final twist. Michelle and Fanny get back to being super-cool-alcohol-loosened buddies again, and then, while greeting one of Hubbel’s friends, she discovers that she gets his entire estate, including the house and the studio. Eh I guess that seems plausible but really? He had enough time in the last episode’s 24-hour span to draw up a will and such? Bullshit bro. A lot of proper entertainment blogs have delegated this show into some summer wish fulfillment/easygoing romp, and if not for the smarmy dialogue and the theatre-style acting (mostly due to the abundance of leg warmers), I would wholeheartedly agree.
Bunheads, in its current projection, seems like a show that works the nerves of its characters, letting them fray, sizzle, and cool off before agitating them again with some new conflict, although the conflict seems highly contrived. But whatevs, I enjoy the Sutton Foster/Kelly Bishop dynamic, and those four nameless dancers (seriously, they just stare each other down and spout declarative statements sans names! I need to know their names!) are some of the most competent child actors on television which says a lot. I did enjoy the episode, albeit feeling jipped, and will check out the next episode where Michelle presumably finds out she’s pregnant or something.
Oh no… wait… they couldn’t do that could they?!? FUTURE HUBBEL SPAWN????
I watched this new show called “Bunheads” last night on a sketchy website which shall not be named. Since the themes were pretty feminine and non-manly, figured that I get it out in the open unless people find out about it later on when I run for public office or something.
Overall, the show is decent. Its about a showgirl named Michelle who hates her job because of her flat chest size (big-breasted dancers are allowed to display, and therefore get more money), and her rat-infested apartment. Ironically, the only excitement she can get in Las Vegas is by avoiding the eager yet annoying advances of Hubble, a fourtysomething who snakes his way into the dressing room whenever he’s in town. Her friends tease here for hating a guy who seems nice, but in her eyes, Hubble’s a scrub and she don’t want none.
After a failed audition for the famed “Chicago” cabaret, she agrees to spend some of Hubble’s time on a date- while downing tons of alcohol. Determined to win her heart, he tells her of the place he lives, a town called Paradise with a house built at the edge of the ocean. Normally, this is where our protagonist screams rape and douses him in pepper spray, but in vino veritas. She takes him on his offer, freakin’ marries him at a drive-through cathedral, and moves to his house.
So, up to that point, I didn’t dislike the show, but I wasn’t digging it either. Since the show’s producer was the same lady who created “Gilmore Girls,” most of the dialogue comes out in this catty repartee, sort of like Busta Rhymes without the rhyme and on half the speed. But the show remained on that topic of romance and love which, although not overt and vomit-inducing, was still not able to keep me beyond the first episode.
What at least guarantees a viewing of the second episode deals with Hubble’s cantankerous hag of a mother and the children she trains in ballet. Long story short- He lives with his mom. Blech. And Michelle was nearly ready to rescind all hope for the dude, especially since her new mother-in-law, Fanny, did not particularly greet with the grace of a swan; more like the grace of a woodchipper.
Anyways, the four main teenage girls that Fanny teaches sum up nature’s usual female stereotypes: the biotch, the biotch’s accomplice, the oblivious one, and the body conscious chick on the verge of an eating disorder (seriously? the chick with the nicest thighs gets disowned? white people, why?). Michelle finds them with a making idle talk about some scholarship audition in between swigs of stolen beer. She then decided to impart some knowledge to the young’ns by conducting one for them.
It was her most human moment of the show, as she gave these girls a break from the worthless drama that reigns supreme in their lives while also giving herself a break from the newfound drama of her scandalous marriage. In the end, the body conscious chick has great confidence in herself, although decidedly temporary, and Fanny eases up on Michelle when she realizes that she did in fact know how to dance and was not a Vegas hooker as she immediately suspected.
The twist that takes place after this feel-good moment seemed pretty risky for a new relationship drama, especially on on ABC Family, but if the writers and the actors make it work, and the show manages to inject more organic humor into the show, I might have something to watch on that channel. To be honest though, “Secret Life” has that really hot chick in it, but the hell with cringing through fabricated suburbian baby mama drama for that. Give me the makings of an interesting story.
I will now write about Breaking Bad in another post to redeem myself.
Regina Spektor is fucking weird. My God. What is wrong with her.
I downloaded her newest album, What We Saw From The Cheap Seats, based on hearing a snippet of “All The Rowboats” on NPR. Being the pretentious asshole I am, there was no stopping the wide-eyed anticipation for its summer release.
However, to steel myself for the “greatness” that would be this album, I listened to her highest critical effort, Soviet Kitsch, which had a really cool cover of her downing a brew while creepily surrounded with matryoshka dolls (she was born in the USSR.)
Turns out the damn thing was full of spartan piano ballads featuring the most crass excuses for kooky experimental singing ever. I don’t know, maybe there’s a certain time, place, and mindset for such music, but how do I vibe to this?!?
Some songs benefit from a more supple arrangement, and the rowdy bar chant “Sailor Song” stands out for the “Marianne’s a Bitch!” line repeated ad nauseum, but yo… how is she famous.
Whatever. I’m a helpless music junkie. I bought the album. And it seems slightly more palatable than the first due to a more involved sound, but even more offensive to my being at the same time. “No Me Quitte Pas” and “All The Rowboats” pretty much define the good of this album: they both have inventive instrumentation, and her weirdness channels itself THROUGH the music, unlike on “Open” where it up and gives listeners a heart attack.
She comes across as the unbridled Kate Bush. Bush is able to be odd and off-putting, but she incorporates that into the theatrics of her work, whether it be Aborigine-inspired production, a song about pseudo-scientific theories, or how she emphasizes her lines. The song “Wow” represents her style quite well, and clearly shows a greater control in wielding the wand of “weird” in her music.
Sure, Spektor’s voice is cutesy-wootsy and she’s beautiful. Yeah, that’s true. But sometimes it feels like she just wraps up these half-assed concepts in musical bacon, but the bacon is actually avocado, so I get hives and throw up for a whole day.
This is what I get for wandering away from hip hop, right? The universe wags its celestial finger at me as I type this. Here’s another epic Kate Bush tune to wrap this up, and then a bomb ass Killer Mike record to get me back on track.
The Men In Black are back with their third installment, although from the past, into the future. While nostalgia and two hours of air-conditioned entertainment give this film more than enough reason for a viewing, the film merely offers the same, although enjoyable, franchise-related trappings, and with less embrace than the first two films.
Men In Black 3 takes opportunity of its franchise’s ten-year hiatus by pushing the storyline forty years into the future for the usual rough-and-tumble alien policing of Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones). However, it seems that the dynamic friendship between J and K has diminished over the years.
As Agent K gets closer to retirement, he becomes even more surly and thick-skinned than ever, and Agent J is still unable to come to grips with how insane their occupation is. All of this, however, falls to the wayside as an old foe, the “unconventionally handsome” Boris the Animal, travels back in time to not only kill Agent K, but to allow his alien race to invade and conquer planet Earth.
These harrowing circumstances are treated with the popcorn bombast of a summer flick. Every aspect of the film’s trappings seems overdone in an exciting manner, including the abnormally grotesque life forms, the deus ex machina of a car that the agents drive in, and even the historical significance of the NASA moon launch. And the film’s temporal confusion does not revoke the franchise’s usual elements, including undercover aliens inhabiting the globe, an endless cache of copper-plated phasers, and the ever ready neutralizer, a handheld stun ray that erases current memories.
Although the film fly by the eyes of the audience in all of its overbloated glory, it cannot help but feel a little by-the-numbers. Even Smith, Jones, and newcomer Josh Brolin, who was the greatest choice to play agent K as a slightly less humbug version of his former self, tend to sufficiently fill the need of their roles without any edgy twists.
The film sadly lacks the familiar humorous punch from the central cast and the awkward situations they end up in. Whereas the first film had tons of abrasive physical humor, such as J being harassed by a newborn alien, similar moments of frenzy are fueled solely by the action.
Any of these reservations will not impede the fun that Men In Black 3 dishes out on its terms, but for a film that can essentially boil down to a rehash of the original 1997 blockbuster hit, the ride feels slightly extraterrestrial.
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