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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Another Year...

Top Film of 2009

(500) Days of Summer
The story of a hopeless romantic, who loves crybaby music, that works for a greeting card company gets his heart broken but eventually figures out this true path. Sounds like the story of my life right? Nope, just Tom Hansen, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in easily my favorite movie of the year. Everything about this movie spoke to me, and had an unfair advantage over the rest. Even after watching it, I said "that's definitely my favorite movie this year" (or something similar). Besides the fact that it's the story of my life, it also stars the beautiful Zooey Deschanel, has an amazing soundtrack, and a great sense of humor about it. Marc Webb, for your first movie effort, this was a home run for me. Keep up the good work.

Top Album of 2009

The Dangerous Summer - Reach for the Sun
The first time I heard the single off of this ablum, it was acoustic, and it filled me with boyish glee. And ever since that point, I've been in love. I can't say this band is don't anything exceptionally "original" or "groundbreaking", but that's exactly what i liked about them. The CD came around about the same time i was just looking to hear some good ol' fashion pop-punk. And there they were. No keyboards, no forced falsetto, no accents. I had to stick with my gut on this pick, because in other peoples eyes this band might not be so special. But to me, they have a place at the top of my list.

Thanks.

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I Miss You More Than Most

Top Albums of 2009
(2nd thru 10th)

Since last year, not much has changed, unfortunately for me. The 80's comeback has really put a damper on music for me. As we pass into 2010, somehow people thing we need all of our music to be made with computers. I'm really fucking sick of the "BEEP-BOOP" music. Reviewers are eating it up though. Bands are trading in their guitars for keyboards and iMacs and everyone seems to be OK with it. I can buy into some of it, but as you will find in my "best of" i have chosen bands that most people haven't put on their own lists. On that note, let me tell you what album i thought sucked:

Most Overrated Album: Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion

I'm sick of everyone telling me how great this CD is. It's number one on all the popular lists this year. Is there a hidden message in the tracks? Because all I hear is bad lyrics and looping.

With that said, I know the world is going to hate this list (2nd thru 10th):

2nd
Japandroids - Post-Nothing

These guys remind me of high school – driving around in the back of my buddy Cole's big white van (without any seats), blaring Fugazi through blown out speakers. And as unattractive as that may seem to some, it was likely most fun i will ever have. Japandroids has done all the work for you though. The album sounds like it was recorded by placing a mic in front of a bad Fender amp in someones basement. And then recorded the vocals like it was a bad 80's mix tape (you know the kind where you put the recorder up the radio?). None of this probably sounds appealing to you either, but it's so me... It's the most pure music I have heard in a while.

3rd
Tegan & Sara - Sainthood

I picked up this album really recently and rocked my world. I don't know, I kinda had low expectations going into it, but Tegan & Sara don't seem to disappoint. They have come a long way since their early days, but it's not through conformity, It's through refining their sound. They were one of the first indie bands that started to put keyboards as a focal instrument in their songs, but since then I think it really works. After going back and listening to a couple tracks from "The Con", it felt boring. This album was much more satisfying, driving, and more complete sounding.

4. Dethklok - Dethalbum II
(In some way better than their last effort, in some ways not)
5. Thrice - Beggers (Their best since "The Artist and the Ambulance", i think.)
6. Anamanaguchi - Dawn Metropolis (Nintendo-core, pure "beep-boop" music, but that's what makes it work.)
7. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz! (Back on the scene, combining their old music with disco. Brilliant.)
8. Blakroc - Blakroc (Most entertaining rap i have heard in a long time)
9. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (I found their past efforts to be more rewarding, personally, but this is what pure fun sound like)
10. Brand New - Daisy (After going back and giving it one last listen, it squeaked it's way into the top 10. Really grew on me.)

Honorable Mentions:
Baroness - Blue Album
Say Anything - Say Anything
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Passion Pit - Manners


Other Mentionable Albums (in no particular order):
Mastodon - Crack the Skye
Band of Skulls - Baby Darling Doll Face Honey
the Decemberists - The Hazards of Love
New Found Glory - Not Without a Fight
Two Tongues - Two Tongues
The Swell Season - Strict Joy
Dashboard Confessional - Alter the Ending (Deluxe Edition)

Biggest Disappointment: Taking Back Sunday - New Again (what happened to you TBS?)

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Don't Speak His Name


Top Video Games of 2009:


1st - Batman Arkham Asylum | XBox 360
For the first time ever, I was able to know what it felt like to be Batman. It was beautifully crafted, a great story line, great graphics and gameplay. Maybe the best part was Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill (the original voices for Batman the Animated Series) were signed to reprise there rolls.









2nd - Brutal Legend | XBox 360
Jack Black does what he does best: Rocks hard, and kicks ass. Despite the fact that Tim Schafer had to cram every damn kind of game into one, he had a great story that involved one of my favorite things (other than zombies) METAL! Guest stars from Ozzy to Lemmy. Schafer has yet to disappoint me. Keep it that way.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Drowning The Inspired Generation


Top 10 Films of 2009 (2nd-10th)


As far as Oscar candidates go, I don't really feel I have seen a lot of those films this year. But I have seen a ton of entertaining movies. I pretty much went buckwild on the "advanced screening passes" since last December, and most were big budget action flicks. So, a new category this year: all of the movies I missed that had potential of upsetting the order of my top 10 are my "Game Changers":

Game Changers (had I seen them):
Up in the Air
The Hurt Locker
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Moon
The Road
Sherlock Holmes

Despite this, out of the movies I DID see this year, here is my list of favorites (from 2nd to 10th). The order changed dozens of times since I picked out my top 10 favorites, but i think this is pretty close to a correct order. Enjoy.


2nd
Zombieland

Ingredients for my favorite movies: Zombies, action, comedy, art. Done. This movies got it. When I first heard about the movie, the fact it was called Zombieland, intrigued me. And i got my expectation really high when i started seeing the viral videos online. They were actually really funny. So, when i got to the movie, i was afraid all of my high hopes would be dashed. But then, what really hooked me when I first started watching the movie, was the AfterEffects lettering in the scenes. It reminds you that "this is a movie", just have fun. The movie doesn't take itself to seriously and it kinda makes a big joke out of the zombie movie genre (yes, it's a whole genre to me). If this is the direction that zombie movies take in the future, i will be a happy man.
It's biggest flaw was the some of the one liners, flopped. "Nut up or shut up" is fucking stupid. No one likes it. Jesse Eisenberg, the new Michael Cera, was perfect, so was Woody, Emma Stone (hottie) and the girl from Little Miss Sunshine. Not to mention it was a directorial debut for Ruben Fleischer, so nice job. I can't wait for the sequel.


3rd
Inglourious Basterds

Quentin Tarantino has a certain type of movie... and the way I see it is, if you don't like that formula, you are going to hate everything he does. He gets a seriously bad wrap because his films are poorly advertised as action movies. Yes, you will get to see Nazi's murdered in droves, but this movie is much more than that. The characters are dynamic and lovable, even if they are the most despicable type of person. To achieve this, you have to have a TON of dialog. In this 2 and a half hour epic, you maybe have 45 minutes of pure action. There are some seriously intense scenes in this movie, opening up with one of the most intense. The humor is pitch black and the action is bloody. In the end, you get exactly what you want. Definitely not a movie for everyone... but it was a movie for me.


4th
Star Trek

When I think back to Middle School, I really didn't have many friends. One reason was because I was fat... The other, was because I was a nerd. And being a nerd meant picking between Star Wars and Star Trek. I picked Star Wars. This isn't to say i had no interest in it. I watched DS-9 and Voyager. But i never watched the original series, or Next Generation (or Enterprise) as did most Trekkies. But when I heard JJ Abrams (my hero) was going to do a Star Trek reboot, I was pretty faithful that he was going to make something I liked. And I wasn't disappointed. Most people were calling it the "Iron Man" of this summer: a nerdy, action flick, that actually had some wide appeal. It was a great movie all around to tell the truth. This may have something to do with the fact that JJ Ambrams admits to getting most of his inspiration for the movie from Star Wars. Who am I to say.


5th
The Brothers Bloom

I saw this movie really late in the year, and it came out really early. I hope it doesn't get lost in the Oscar race because it's spectacular. Mark Ruffalo and Adrian Brody are honestly some of the most talented actors in Hollywood right now. And it shows through on this movie. I am a sucker for a good con, so the story was tops. It kept me guessing the entire movie, even though I was sure I knew what was going on. This film made it to the top of my list solely based on the fact that it was well rounded. It has action, a very cute love story, and quirky comedy.



6th
The Hangover
This was a really hard cut from my top 5. I really don't have to tell you why i picked this movie though, because everyone I talk to loves this movie. Great original plot, funny as sin, and great performances all around.
7th: Up If it wasn't for the shear ridiculousness of the story it would have been higher.
8th: Where the Wild Things Are I think there is an indie kid clause staying that i must like this movie, but I didn't love it.
9th: District 9 FOOCKIN PRAWNS! Simply wasn't as good as 8 others (hard to knock down).
10th: Drag Me to Hell What can i say, I love Sam Rammi and campy horror.

Honorable Mentions:
Ninja Assassin
Avatar
Adventureland
Ponyo
I Love You, Man
Coraline

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Updates Available

Coming tomorrow: my favorite movies 10th thru 2nd.

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Salty Catch

Top Movie of 2008

Slumdog Millionaire

This movie truly is a fairy tale. Most of the classic stories we grew up hearing actually had very tragic origins and didn't always end up as happy as you may think. Slumdog Millionaire is that in it's truest form. By one of my favorite directors, Danny Boyle, this move takes a love story and in my mind, makes it as classic as Romeo and Juliet, or Cinderella. Other than just being overwhelmingly cute, Slumdog was original. Convincing acting, a great soundtrack, and one of my favorite topics of discussion, destiny.





Top Album of 2008

Sigur Rós - Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust

Sigur Ros isn't for everyone. But i have realized that the people that love them are die hard fans. I can't really consider myself any different. This CD isn't a far departure from most of Sigur Ros' past, but with the addition of a big booming percussion section on some songs, guitars (especially acoustic) that stand out over the other instruments, and i swear i heard a song sung in English, you get the impression they are trying to keep it interesting. Sigur Ros is my most played artist on Last.fm solely because they make excellent background music.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

We're All Waiting On You

Top Albums of 2008

There has been a lot of chill music introduced to me this year. However, the newest craze is dance-core. Every musician is doing the same sort of sound whether it be a rapper, or a rocker. Maybe the sound of the future? Some of those bands still stand out, but mostly it just leaves me craving something i haven't heard yet (or in a while).
This is what I thought of this years music (just like last year, i couldn't just do a top 5. too hard):



2. Frightened Rabbits - The Midnight Organ Fight
It was hard for me not to put this as Number One because I have been having so much fun listening to this album lately. It's the folk music the way i like to hear it. Most gets too mellow and boring in my opinion. It's the kind of music i like to hear when i am interested in a nap; like Fleet Foxes (who i really like now, but they are kinda snooze music).




3. Death Cab For Cutie - Narrow Stairs
Death Cab has been one of my favorite bands for a long time. I don't know if it was the the long wait that made me crave new music, or the fact that this CD is legitimately amazing. It was a small departure from their passed CDs were it sounded as if they incorporated a little 90s grunge into their typical melodic tones. It seemed to be a perfect fit and it made for one damn good cd. Now, lets see a new Postal Service album.


4. Coldplay - Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends
5. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
6. Does It Offend You, Yeah? - You Have No Idea What You're Getting Yourself Into
7. Murder By Death - Red of Tooth and Claw
8. Ra Ra Riot - The Rhumb Line
9. Kings of Leon - Only By The Night
10. The New Frontiers - Mending


Honorable Mentions
Less Than Jake - GNV FLA (An awesome comeback for LTJ. It was hard to cut them from the top 10)
Kanye West - 808s & Heartbreak (Fabulous, just too chill)
Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes (Dreamy hymn like music. It just wasn't doing it for me)

Other Mentionable Albums (in no particular order):
Norma Jean - Anti-Mother
Lil Wayne - III
Gym Class Heroes - The Quilt
The Academy Is... - Fast Times at Barrington High
Unearth - The March
The Cure - 4:13 Dream
Friendly Fires - Friendly Fires
Copeland - You Are My Sunshine
The Killers - Day & Age

Biggest Disappointment:
Fall Out Boy - Folie à Deux

Albums I Missed Out On In '07:
Loney, Dear - Loney, Noir
Zolof The Rock and Roll Destroyer - Schematics
Chromeo - Fancy Footwork

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

I Would Travel the World For You (But You Are Always Close)

Top Albums of 2008 (2nd – 5th)

I saw a lot of movies this year. From my initial standpoint i wasn't really sure if there was enough movies to make a list this year, but after looking it over it was hard to only do a top 5. I realize that i am missing out on seeing other critically acclaimed movies such as "Synecdoche, New York", "Rachel Getting Married", and "Milk" but out of the list of movies i HAVE seen, these are my picks:




Tie for 2nd
A Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Everything was phenomenal about this movie. With shades of Forest Gump, this movie was easily a modern day fairy-tale cutting it's way through decades of our history. Benjamin Button seriously put Edward Cullen to shame with his charm and chivalry in this movie. While this was an extremely well rounded movie... (see below)








Tie for 2nd
The Dark Knight

...this is just the most kick-ass movie i have ever seen probably. I saw it 4 times in the theaters after all. Look for it rereleased this January. In all seriousness though, it's always a surprise when an action movie is not only really entertaining but has a good story arch and realistic acting.









3rd
Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Side spitting funny, with a good story about getting over lost loves. Some stories hit closer to home than others ;) I wasn't so sure how it was going to turn out, by i knew that no matter what Kristen Bell and Mila Kunis would be gorgeous.










4th
Iron Man

How do you take the super hero formula and make it awesome? I still don't know. But, somehow, Iron Man was REALLY, REALLY good. Jon Favreau makes great movies, and this is no exception. He just has the comedic timing a comic book movie needs. It has to be able to make fun of itself.








5th
Wall-E

Today, animated features tend to rely to heavily on their voice talent, and not enough on a good story. But this story was great, modern and original. AND it didn't need the voice talent to make a lovable character. I don't typically like movies that are preachy and spend their whole time on the soap box, however, Wall-E was subtle in trying to get it's point across.






Honorable Mentions
Burn After Reading (the Coens never disappoint, but it couldn't compare to "No Country")
Pineapple Express (hard to cut)
Be Kind Rewind (it was missing a little something, but otherwise right up there)
Sex Drive (funny, it was probably best suited for a younger audience)
Quantum of Solace (not as good as Casino Royal)
Zack and Miri Make a Porno (hard to cut)
Choke (i think i needed to see this a second time)
Role Models (hilarious talent, but too formulaic)
Step Brothers (seriously awesome, but not quite top 5)

Biggest Surprise:
Twilight

Biggest Disappointment:
X-Files: I Want to Believe

Stay tuned for my top movie of '08, my list of music, and games.

list master, Josh

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Death and Anarchy

Ghost Town - A plot that was done a million times over, usually doesn't make a for a good movie. The "help an angel get his wings scenario" and "the unlikely man tries to get the out-of-reach woman". This movie is the exception. I think that mostly has to do with Ricky Gervais and Tea Leoni. The movie is downright adorable and laugh out loud funny at parts. But without Gervais, i don't think i would be enjoying it as much. His cold wit and use of what seems like improv, shape his character of a stuck up dentist who dies, and comes back only to see dead people. One of the dead continuously follows him forcing him stalk his now widowed wife and breaking her up from her new love interest. In other words, it would be a great uplifting movie to bring a date to.

out,
Josh

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Perceived Beauty

I would really like to start doing movie reviews in time for the movie debut... but i feel like i a) don't have the time with all the other stuff i am doing, b) i watched the movie too far in advance and i forget when the movie actually comes out, or c) i am just too damn lazy. Usually, it's C (at least lately).

Here is some "Entertainment Catch-Up":

Burn After Reading - As far Coen Brothers movies go, i have to watch them twice to see if i really like them. I have now scene this movie twice. If you are looking for an uplifting movie. This one isn't going to be for you. Basically, it's a bleak commentary on love, marriage, relationships, and self-image set to an espionage soundtrack. The commercials and trailers make it seem like a laugh out loud comedy, and it is at some points, but for the most part it is a subtle humor. Not as funny as The Big Lebowski, not as dire as No Country for Old Men. And i wouldn't say as good as either as well. But, all in all, i think this is another great movie for the Coens, you just have to know what you are getting into before you go. If nothing else, the poster is a Saul Bass look-a-like and is fantastic.

Babylon AD - Sci-Fi Vin Diesel movie. I really don't need to say more than that. If you happen to like this kind of movie then go see it... Otherwise...

The Rocker - I thought it was funnier the second time around. I still feel it's tuned more toward high school kids. I still think Teddy Geiger is a bad actor, and Rainn Wilson is always good for a laugh, but Jason Sudeikis steals the show.

On DVD:

The Savages - More bleak. It was about a brother and a sister that had an awful relationship with their dad. But when he is stricken with dementia they are forced to put him in a home. The experience eventually makes them better people. The movie made me bummed out, and inevitably solidified my plan for being dead at age 50, so myself and others don't have to go through all of the terrible stuff. Laura Linney is really cute, and the acting all around was great though. Cute poster design... that has nothing to do with the movie.

Other:

- Mad Men is pretty awesome.

- i have been listening to the Harry Potter books on tape... and it's messing me up. I love them so much it gives me something more to look forward to during the week (i only listen to them at work). I listen to them so much, that i was to start using the words of the book in ever day speech... but then i would just be crazy... so i won't... for now.

- tell me this poster isn't awesome. (and something you could see in my portfolio.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Half in Hell


GO SEE THIS MOVIE!
You won't regret it.
It's the best superhero movie i have ever seen. Hands-down.
-Josh

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Green M&M's

Contrary to what i said in my last post (and almost all of my masculinity)... i played the nice guy, and went with my friend Lindsay to see Sex and the City last night. Here's what i thought:

Sex and the City First of all, i am no stranger to the series. My ex-girlfriend really enjoyed the show, so naturally, i had to watch it enough times on TBS to know what the characters name were at least. The intro is a segue from the TV series to the movie, explaining the characters, and the basic premise of the show... sex, and New York City. From there, anyone who was not a fan of the show before, will probably not be inthralled. It was a movie in which i compared it to a fashioned up version of "the Heartbreak Kid". But i'm told, "not as raunchy as the the HBO version of the tv show." Woh. Anyhow, i digress. If you enjoyed the show, you will undoubtedly have a great time. I found the movie to be predictable, but with a couple twists that felt like they were out of context to the characters of the tv show. Fan's of the show answer these questions: Mr. Big and Carrie get engaged, what do you think happens? Maranda isn't giving it up to Steve, what does Steve do? But everything that you want to happen for the characters, does. Go figure. The girls looks like old wrinkled skeletons. To me, not attractive. But, there is plenty of boob, and unfortunately, a cock (to balance it out of course). It's about two and a half hours long, and it takes place over about a year (maybe more). Parts feel like they are getting episodic, and kinda of cuts into the overlying story. To me at least. Listen, i could sit here all day and nitpick the movie... From most guys' perspective, this movie couldn't be anymore revolting... i found it to be OK. I thought the movie would be convoluted and boring, but it turned out to have a decent story about love lost and found. Girls, if you love the show... which is pretty much all of you. Go see it. Guy's be good to your girl and go see it with them (at least you will see boob). You might actually enjoy it. FIN.

Taking one for the team,
Josh

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Sunday, June 1, 2008

What it Takes to Rule the World

This weekend i actually accomplished (and by accomplished i also mean just start) almost everything i set forth in doing. Mind you, the tasks were mundane, and to most, stupid. One of the last things on the list was blog, because it's been a while. Here it is.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Will contain Spoilers, do not read on if you intend on being surprised. To anyone who actually might read this blog and say "man i know he watched 'Indy 4', it would be helpful to know what he had thought of it", i'm sorry. Because know one actually said that, it doesn't matter. I liked the movie. Yes, there is an epic battle right now between the people who liked the movie and the people who hated it. Like most (unless you are a total closed-minded jerk), i can see both perspectives. The major criticism is coming from the unbelievability of scenes in the movie. But, i mean come on! Indiana Jones road a mine cart through miles and miles of cavern, jumping on and off tracks on two wheels, just after a man rips out a heart with his bear hands... And though, religious in origin, a face melting box and 200 year old man are also pretty far out. In my mind these are no more "out-there" than aliens, and surviving a nuclear blast. Honestly, the only scene that bothered me when i watched it the first time was the "Tarzan" scene. After the second time (yes i saw it twice, before thursday evening), i realized this was yet another B-movie commentary on the time period. The Crew had to update Indy for a modern audience, while still holding the integrity of the original. Each person, Lucas, Speilburg, and Ford, had their fingerprints all over the final product. It was like Close Encounters meets American Graffiti in and Indiana Jones movie with CG gophers... wow. What i really feel the movie was missing was subtlety and tact. Everything was plainly spelt out for you, to the point where you felt it was stupid. For example, they didn't need the CG alien, it was pretty obvious what was happening. Also, my biggest complaint of the film was the fact that there were too many characters trying to share the spotlight. Marion, Mutt, Ox, Indy, and Mac were just to many good guys. If they could have found a balance as they did in Last Crusade, it would have made a better film for me. These things however did not stop you from being entertained. And thats what the movie was all about! The action scenes were, well, bad ass, the wit and humor was spot on and it was over-all and "Indy" movie. So what, i loved it. Give me a break!
Sexy and the City I don't need to see it to tell you it sucks. You can't pick up after a series has a good finish, and make a 2 hour movie out of it. It becomes boring and predictable.
The Strangers i feel as if i am alone on this one, but i loved the movie. I would definitely recommend it to classic suspense lovers. Right down to the promo posters it was set up to be "retro". Admittedly, while doing a "classic" movie feel, it also had the classic pit-falls too. The ending got a little sloppy, where the killer gets away (straight to video sequel?), and of course people make decisions that are not rational even for a normal person. But, this makes it fun and exciting for me. The fact that it didn't need gore to thrill you and keep you nervous was awesome. Putting a masked killer in the background where only the audience can see them and not the victim, just standing there doing nothing, that's brilliant to me. It was "based" on true events, and by that, they mean, two people were killed in a house, and there was no killer found. They are trying to give an easy scare to suckers, so they made it pretty clear "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" style, how it went down. It definitely could have been better, sure, but off the top of my head... i can't think of something to truly complain about. If you are looking for a cheap, ol' fashion scare, this is your film. If you are looking for something innovative and different this isn't your film.

this gives me a big movie boner.


Signing out for now,
Josh

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Friday, May 2, 2008

Never Dark

Iron Man All of a sudden the hype for Iron Man went supernova, and that's the only movie you hear about now. Well, the movie lives up the the hype in my eyes. "Elf" Director, Jon Favreau, did a superb job of retelling a story that originates as a comic from the Vietnam War era. Where the Spider-man movies went for a very comic-booky feel of movie making, i felt Iron Man was just a "movie version" of the story. Other than an action movie, the humor was sharp as a tack, and as corny and as snarky as it needed to be. This, and the fact that Robert Downey Jr. could pulled every line off believably. Robert Downey Jr. was born to play the role of Tony Stark (Iron Mans alter ego); a witty, alcoholic, billionaire playboy that finds himself at the top of his weapons-peddling-game before he has a life threatening change of heart. This movie has everything. Take a super hero that relies on gadgets/technology to help him out, pepper in some war movie action scenes and big one-on-one fight in the end, some big laughs and you have yourself a winning formula. Even Gwyneth Paltrow, as “Pepper” Potts, plays into a teasing kind of love story (but just enough to keep it interesting, not enough to make you sick (which is good because it wouldn't fit for Stark)). The CGI, which most people worry about. Totally killer, and very convincing. Shaky camera action helps in places where you want to thing the action is fake. I'm stoked for the sequel, which has already been green lit. In short, i think MOST people will really love this movie, just as most critics already have. If you go, be sure to stay until the end of the credits for a cameo appearance, a hit at another movie project, and more comic book nerdiness. (sorry of the late review)

Speed Racer I feel as if i might need to see it again because i am getting some conflicting ideas in my head. For those who are unfamiliar to the original Speed Racer Japanese animation cartoon, the story goes like this: Speed Racer (yes, thats his first and last name, obviously named with one thing in mind), is the professional driver of the "Mach 5". And each week he always seems to get into some sort of trouble from driving hitmen or treacherous courses. But with the help of Mom and Pops Racer, his younger brother Spritle, their monkey Chim-Chim, his girlfriend Trixie, the shop hand/bestfriend Sparky, and the mysterious Racer X, he is able to survive (for crazy amounts of info, go here). The movie keeps right to this story right down to what the buttons on the wheel do. And if anyone can bring an anime to life, it's DEFINITELY the Wachowski Brothers. But the problem was, the beginning was gimmicky and boring. The Wachowski's new trick was to use unique swipes (scene transfers), and they used it over and over until i was sick of it. Had it been later in the day, i might have enjoyed the exposition, but at that point it was drivel, and probably hard to follow for the kids (PG rating). The swipes did give a manga feel, and so did the vibrant super saturated colors. The explosions were all pretty cartoony, and the action/driving scenes included "motion lines" in way or another. The costuming and set design was so good it should be nominated for an Oscar. All of which showed the true dedication to the genre that the Brothers have. There is about 30 minutes of the movie where Speed wore a suit that looked just like the cartoons, there was an awesome fight scene, and it was the longest continuous race of the movie. That scene could have been the whole movie for me. It was SO good. I would have to say, i feel like i would have enjoyed this movie more if i was on drugs, but because i'm not, it was good... it didn't blow me away, but it was still good.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Farce and Fallacy

88 Minutes Grant it, it's been a while since i have watched a "mystery/thriller", but i thought it was a good movie. Not a great movie, but an entertaining one. The figuring out the killer wasn't too hard, it was sorta Scooby-Doo; the movie made you suspicious of everyone, but in the end it was predictable. But maybe figuring it out for yourself makes people feel smart, and i think that works. Al Pacino out acted everyone on the cast just by showing up to film. Alicia Witt, a Molly Ringwald look-a-like, had me overlooking her bad acting (apparently) for her obvious cuteness. Leelee Sobieski was terrible. Maybe the most entertaining part of the movie for me was the fact the it was running in "real time". Dr. Gramm (Pacino) has 88 minutes to live, and you are there for each minute of it (give or take a couple minutes difference).

Dan in Real Life This came out on DVD a couple weeks ago, maybe a month now, but i finally picked it up. It was well worth my time. First, the soundtrack to the movie was well thought out but the director and the amazing, Sondre Lerche, and i really appreciate that. Maybe more importantly, it was a relatable comedy that doesn't bore. You emotionally connect with Steve Carrell as life collapses on him. Everytime something works out for him, it gets snatched away. For me it was tough to watch without welling up at times. Steve plays that downtrodden pathetic character all too well, and you can really see sadness in his eyes when he shows it to you. From Michael on the Office, to his upcoming Maxwell Smart. Don't worry though, there is a happy ending. Not so happy you throw up rainbows, but an ending that leaves you fulfilled. Dane Cook also plays a big role in the movie too. Personally, i think he should stick to stand up, but he wasn't too bad. Even with two powerhouse comedians, the comedy was soft and subtle. It was a prefect movie for a rainy Thursday evening.

Prepared to be Surprised,
Josh

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Goblin

Last night when i returned home from seeing Smart People, i returned to darkness. When the power is out, there is pretty much nothing to do. I used to like to light some candles and just listen to the rain fall, but it wasn't even raining anymore. BALLS! Anyhow, with no computer, or tv, or video games, you would think i would read, or at least sketch by candle light? NOPE! i just went to bed at 10:15... so, so, sad. Here is the review i couldn't do last night...

Smart People Pretty much everyone who knows me, knows i am in love with Ellen Page. So you would think this movie was a shoe in for a good review from me... Well, as always Ellen played the sassy high school girl. This time as a very straight-laced, stuck up, Junior Republican with no friends and an awful fashion sense. What can i say, she plays her roles very well. In this film she looked emaciated though, which made her less attractive looking. But believe it or not, by how this review started, the move wasn't based around just her. When watching the movie you find yourself among a family "run" by a widower, Lawrence Wetherhold (Dennis Quaid) who can't seem to let go of his wife. No one likes him because he is an a-hole, he is writing a book no publisher will take, and he is losing touch with his son. I mean, down right depressing sh*t. When he loses his ability to drive, his mooching adopted brother Chuck (Thomas Haden Church) moves in to help out. The little clone daughter, Vanessa (Page) who sorta plays mother in her mothers absence, is left to uncle Chuck trying to get her to loosen up (maybe becoming TOO loose due to her sheltered life) when her Dad is out trying to date his doctor/former student played by Sarah Jessica Parker. This is around where it fell off for me. Toward the middle the movie felt depressing and awkward (off-color), and i found myself slightly bored. But, in the end, i chalked this up to the realism. The middle was the only rough part for me and i feel like it resolved itself in the end. The movie was extremely well written, and ran smooth. But i guess you should come to expect that from the writer of Sideways (of course i haven't seen it, so i don't know) Church carried the movie for me from start to finish, and though his character was a total shubb, he was the only really likable person. Even though Ellen's cuteness was a close second. Moral of the story; loosen up? it's more fun to be dumb than be smart? Whatever, it was, it wasn't as good as i was expecting... but not a bad movie by any of my standards.

-Dusel

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Orange Of City Lights

Pending a format change for my blog, i would like to start posting movie reviews again... but only on Thursday Nights. Luckily i have been swamped with advance screenings lately, and it has made it really easy to have movies to review that aren't even in theaters yet. Let's give it a whirl...

Shine A Light - Some of you might recognize that as the title of a Rolling Stones song. I however did not. Being that my dad was never really into the Rolling Stones, and i wasn't privy to much secular music in my childhood (...early teens), i knew as much as (or maybe less) any other person knew about the Rolling Stones. That is that they have been playing music for almost double the amount of time that i have even been alive, and they have that obnoxious tongue logo that you see everywhere. Almost everyone knows the name's Mick Jagger and Keith Richards (or at least recognize his hair from Johnny Depp thieving it), but hardly know Ron Wood and Charlie Waits. All this aside, i still wanted to see the movie. I saw the trailer and it intrigued me. The idea Martin Scorsese had in mind was a "concert documentary", where he spliced in old interviews of the band into a live recording. I'm going to be honest, i kind of expected more from Scorsese while watching the movie. I feel like anyone could have filmed the same way. One or two scenes were admittedly breathtaking. The Buddy Guy performance stole the show for me. The part i did really like, was the fact that it was a "raw" performance and mistakes where left in. Even Mick dropping the f-bomb a few times for good measure (despite the PG-13 rating). I really felt amerced at one point, and i wanted to be up bobbing my head, stomping and clapping like the people in the audience. Truly an experience you could only have in the IMAX theatre, with amazing surround sound and picture. You could even hear some douche bag in the back screaming out stupid things to Mick. In the end, it was well worth my time, and it would be for you, if you are a fan of concerts in any way. Maybe i'll even buy the "soundtrack".

ouch, that was not short. maybe this one.


The Ruins - When a go to a horror movie now-n-days, i expect certain things; c-list actors, boobs, gore, and a twist. We have all of the above elements here. It was based off of a novel... yes a book! Baffling! This meant the story was actually pretty good, and i suppose for the most part original. The ending however, was cliche — but now they all are. The twist is "the killer", which many of you could already assume what is going on. The gore at points was pretty insane. I suppose mostly because of it's realism. Those who are squeamish, i definitely don't recommend it. All together, it's entertaining.

-Josh

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Last Night I Saw the Future You.

So after a day of feeling the signs of aging, e.i. hurting my neck from rocking out to hard and putting my nose to the grindstone working today, I came home to a package on my porch. Already knowing what was in the package, I brought it inside, and with boyish glee, tore it apart. Inside was this:
The Bully media kit! Some genius marketing as usual from Rockstar Games. So you understand the concept behind what i got, you have to get the premise of the game first. Basically, you are a troubled teen enrolled in the "Bullworth Academy" against your will, and being the "villian" in the game, you do everything from beating up kids, to playing pranks, to actually going to class, so that you can fit in. In the envelope were 2 "Bully" logo stickers, and 2 that say "My child was expelled from the Bullworth Academy". Done before, but brilliant. But the real sell for me was "Whipper Snappers"... you know, those snappers that you throw at the ground and they pop. These aren't the sissy kind either, these are the hardcore, gun shot sounding kind. The perfect kind for causing trouble. Complete with packaging directed toward the game. Rockstar has a great team working on their package design as well... er, they either commission or have some talented illustrators on staff at least. The cover art features vector-like illustrations of the main character Jim and Principle with a comic strip set back tone-on-tone in the background. Beautiful. When you flip the box over... everything kinda falls apart, and it looks like they just threw it together just to get it on the shelves.

Because I had both versions just released for the game, i figured it was only my duty to play a couple hours on both of them and right up a quick review. All together you can see a lot of similarities to the infamous Grand Theft Auto series done by Rockstar Games [New York]. Basically, this was Rockstar's solution for anyone who doesn't make it into the M rating (18+), but is "mature" enough for the T Rating (13+). Because this was originally on PS2, this "Scholarship Edition" is basically a port to the next-gen consoles (ew, sorry that was totally gamer speak). Yeah, they updated the graphics, and added some new stuff, but i'm sure it's pretty much the same. The 360 version looks pretty good. Especially in HD. After playing it on the Wii, i was actually able to see a noticeable difference. On both versions, you see that familiar illustrated loading screen seen in GTA (as i mentioned from the cover). Trading in your guns for slingshots, you run around campus instead of a city, but basically the same idea — with no vehicles to drive (sorry). And of course, a that offbeat sense of humor that Rockstar games seem to have. But this is all fun stuff, so i didn't see a problem. So the Wii version, may look like trash (like the PS2) when you play it, but the controls make up for it. The studio did a good job translating the controls to the Wii to make it work as close to real life as the could. When you make a right handed punch you punch with your right, left, left, etc. I couldn't contain myself from laughing the first time i did it.

My recommendation is, if you have both the 360 and the Wii, buy it from the Wii. It's much more fun, and the graphics aren't THAT much worse... i guess.

Sorry if this was totally boring for people who don't enjoy video games.

-Dusel

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Black Tie

The Academy Awards are finally here... ... woo? Really when you think about it, the Oscars are pretty boring in comparison to all the over the top awards shows today. Despite this, i will be paying $10 to play dress up and watch the Oscars with a bunch of friends. This year i tried to get really into it and watch all the movies nominated... Unfortunately, i am both cheap and lazy, so i ended up watching maybe half of them. But, without further ado, these are my winners for the 2008 Academy Awards (not like you care):
Best Picture - No Country for Old Men This was a tough choice, I loved so many of the nominee's. And i am actually excited to see the outcome of this category.
Best Director - Joel Coen and Ethan Coen - No Country for Old Men Considering i don't know quiet where the directors job begins and ends this is always hard for me to choose. But the Coen Brothers are unstoppable.
Best Actor - Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will Be Blood It was close, George Clooney did a superb job but Daniel Day-Lewis was breathtaking. Sorry Johnny Depp... and i didn't see, In the Valley of Elah and Eastern Promises as much as i would have liked to have an unbiased opinion.
Best Actress - Ellen Page - Juno I'm not going to lie... i didn't see any of the other movies. and i want to marry Ellen Page, so this one is pretty unfair. All well.
Best Supporting Actor - Javier Bardem - No Country for Old Men - This one was really tough, infact i may have made the wrong choice. As much as i totally love Javier, Tom Wilkinson in Michael Clayton was just awesome. Either will do in my eyes.
Best Supporting Actress - Cate Blanchett - I'm Not There Ruby Dee had such a small role in American Gangster i don't think it would be fair for her to win. And as much as Tilda Swinton pulled off a timid evil, i heard Cate Blanchett will be unstoppable for this award.
Best Original Screenplay - Michael Clayton - Tony Gilroy Juno was a close second... but i felt the lines were a little "overdone" and offensive to a millennial through stereotypes (though funny). Michael Clayton was total pay-off in the end and that makes for good writing in my book.
Best Adapted Screenplay - No Country for Old Men - Joel and Ethan Coen, from No Country for Old Men, novel by Cormac McCarthy I thought this was an original screenplay... but none the less, it was well done. Oil! a novel by Upton Sinclair was definitely a close second.
Less important awards:
Best Original Song - Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova - "Falling Slowly" from Once Even though it's not original... *sigh* it's totally amazing.
Best Sound Editing - Skip Lievsay - No Country for Old Men It was the most interesting part of the movie for me.
Best Original Score - Marco Beltrami - 3:10 to Yuma Even though it should have been There Will Be Blood, even though it was like the only category it wasn't nominated for.

I absolutely loved Michael Clayton and There Will Be Blood despite my predictions here. This is why i could never be on this comity... who are these people anyhow?

Enjoy the Oscars.

Movie watcher,
Josh

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Monday, December 31, 2007

Only the Best for Baby


Top Movie of 2007:
No Country For Old Men
Just as most Coen Brothers movies, this movie was a masterpiece. From start to finish you are on the edge of your seat with no music to add tension to the scenes. This is exactly what i mean when i talk about making an old story fresh again. Basically it was a retelling of the age-old, "finding someone else's treasure" story. Movies have become a cookie cutter of the same old story, just substituting characters out and changing the title, but The Coen Bros owned this one.




Top Album of 2007:
Thrice - The Alchemy Index: Fire & Water
Thrice has been around for a while and they have gone through quiet the change since i had first heard them. They are certainly not the hardcore/metal band i got into long ago, but unlike some bands, i was able to embrace their change. This CD (actually a dual EP set) was part of a concept album collection theme-ing music to each of the four elements; fire, water, earth, and air. Right there, is already calling out, "kick ass, baby". Fire was a little less fast paced and a little softer than i would have liked, but still a solid CD filled with good songs. Water was exactly how i envisioned it to be, with the killer track "the Whaler". This being there 4th effort says volumes about the band, and that their music is maturing with my musical taste.

Thanks Aaron for the idea of doing a "best of". i hope everyone wasn't too bored reading it.

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

I Can Hear You Now.

Top Albums of 2007


#2
Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

I almost forgot how amazing this cd was until i went back to play it after i decided to do this list. Pretty much everything about this release is amazing, from the album art, to the music videos and of course the songs.






#3
Angels & Airwaves - I-Empire

An addictive album that I couldn't keep out of my car stereo. I can't say it's for everyone, but i certainly enjoyed it as much as the last A&A cd i picked up.



4. the Weakerthans - Reunion Tour
5. The Almost - Southern Weather
6. Coheed and Cambria – No World for Tomorrow
7. Circa Survive - On Letting Go
8. Darkest Hour - Deliver Us
9. Minus The Bear - Planet Of Ice
10. Dear And The Headlights - Small Steps Heavy Hooves

Honorable Mentions:
Dethklok - Dethalbum
The Panic Division – Songs from the Glasshouse
Motion City Soundtrack - Even If It Kills Me
Timbaland - Shock Value

Biggest Surprise Album of the Year:
Bright Eyes - Cassadaga

Other Mentionable Albums(in no particular order):
Sherwood - A Different Light
Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
the Shins - Wincing the Night Away
Yellowcard - Paper Walls
Tegan & Sara - The Con
Comeback Kid - Broadcasting
Iron & Wine - The Shepard’s Dog
Mae - Singularity
Saves the Day - Under the Boards

For being as into music as i claim i am, i don't talk about it in my blog as much as you might think, so this is kinda catching up. It was hard for me to pick favorites year, and i'm not sure if thats a good or a bad thing, but because of this all of the rankings where pretty close. Enjoy. Check back to see the number ones.

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Touch of Nothing.

the amount of games that i have played this year, that were new to 2007, was too little, so i only put up what i felt was the best game of '07 and the runner up versus a top 5.

Game of the Year
Halo 3
Based upon the fact that Halo has been around for as long as it has, and still manages to deliver a solid playing experience is reason enough for me. But the fact that i am still playing the game months after it's release is amazing. Halo lets me keep in touch with my friends through online matches. There is a ranking system, plenty of achievements to master, and new maps that just came out. Bungie went all out on this one and for me, though other games excelled in other departments, this game still came out on top.

Runner-up
Super Mario Galaxy
Innovative, fairly long, and a lot of fun to play. There isn't a whole lot of re-playability besides the fact that when you beat the game you unlock a hidden character. The fact that Mario has been around with the same characters, music, sound effects, EVERYTHING, since before i was born... is pretty nuts.

Music next time, this one could be tough.

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Friday, December 28, 2007

You Caught My Eye.

Top Movies of 2007

#2
Superbad

After seeing it a second time it might be the funniest and most quotable movie i have seen in a long, long while, with the addition of a well executed 70's retro theme.











#3
300

What it lacked in depth, it made up for in everything else 10 fold.












#4
The Darjeeling Limited

This is a close 4th. What can i say, Wes Anderson doesn't disappoint.












#5
Live Free or Die Hard

The entertainment value was through the roof.














Honorable Mentions:
- Knocked Up (really funny, but maybe not well rounded enough to make it)
- Transformers (making my childhood favorite cool again was it's only real appeal)
- Juno (the writing was it's blessing and it's curse)
- American Gangster (too long, but superb acting and decent story)
- Grindhouse (fun, visionary movies from two good directors, just not good enough)

Best Surprise of the Year:
Sweeney Todd

Biggest Disappointment:
Spider-man 3
Pirates 3

Stay tuned for #1. Games next time.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

At Misery's End

Halloween Round Up

October, it's a great month for creativity. Halloween just allows so many opportunities. My pumpkin I carved, the one I painted, my rice crispy sculpture, and of course my Halloween costume.

It's also a month for horror movies get ready, reviews comin' atcha!:
Planet Terror - This is a movie for men! This is not saying women won't enjoy it, but it's got the recipe for manliness. Blood, gore, zombies, sick humor, cool cars and bikes, Bruce Willis, and the imfamous hot chic with a machine gun leg. I personally don't ask for anything more in a movie.
Death Proof - Tarrantino makes a certain type of movie; wordy and shocking. I personally loved it, and when it's not compaired to Planet Terror, it's easily as good.
28 Weeks Later - Not as good as the first, but still a good "zombie" thriller. The cinematography wasn't as good as the first, but still better than most movies.
Black Sheep - This is exactly how you want a cheesy horror movie to be. I mean it's a movie about sheep cloning in New Zealand gone horribly wrong, you aren't shooting for Oscars here. But still, the casting was done pretty well.
The Hamiltons - Shit sandwich! NEXT! (ps. all of the "Horror Fest" movies are a waste of your time and money)
I'm sure i missed some movies that i watched this month, but thats all that i can remember.

Autumn is in full force here in the mid-west, and this morning, I even got my first taste of winter. Many of the trees have taken on their beautiful shades of red, orange and yellow. Unfortunately, fall is fast here. The wind makes short work of the dead leaves and rushes them to the ground.

"It’s only love, it’s not real. You’re gonna die in somebody else’s arms and I have to live with that."

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Monday, October 1, 2007

Envy for the Witch and the Beast.

The last couple of days, until today, i was forced to take a break from Halo 3. As for the rest of the world, they didn't forget. Above is a statue at Harvard, thanks to some pranksters from MIT, it looks better this way. (thanks to Josh and Nick for the correction)

Last night, i went out to dinner and a movie with a girl. It sounds like a date, and I thought it was a date, but i might have been the only one. Her name is Jaeeun, and she is Korean, so the two of use caught Dragon War, a Korean movie, and sushi for a late dinner. Steriotype? Yeah, maybe, I think it's safe to say that we both had a really good time though.

I feel as if the theme of this weekend was getting to know people better. Whether i liked it or not, or wanted to or not, i did. I have 6 months to figure out what to do with my life.

I just wish i could find the affection i long for. This weekend was an emotional roller coaster and i would like to end it now with some sleep. I guess it's officially October now, maybe this month will be different.

"and it's a shame to walk away from everything i know, and everything i want."

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