Thursday, June 23, 2011

Black Death

Black Death is a hidden gem, as others have put it, and far from the Hollywood slop it so sharply contrasts. It could not be much more true to its' name, which is quite possibly the bleakest title a film can be given, while it feels genuine to its period backdrop. Everything here feels true to its' nature. And there is no excess of special effects or melodrama, or anything watered down, and instead the story is full of substance. 

In 1348, the young monk Osmund finds himself conflicted at the films start, as his secret love Avrill is fleeing their plague-ridden city and provides him the choice to meet her in the marshland. Upon asking for a sign for guidance, his monastery is visited by Ulrich and his party of Christian fundamentalists. On a mission to a village beyond the marsh in search of a necromancer and any other witches to stamp out, he asks for a guide and young Osmund obliges. Thus begins an ugly and gritty crusade across an English countryside that is riddled with fear, intolerance, and the Black Death. 

The struggle is personal as well as conceptual. For Osmund it is personal, as his love for Avrill causes him to question his own faith due to the charms and tricks of the pagans (huge plot twists underly this theme)and the brutality of the band he guides. And then the bigger picture, the struggle between the Christians and the pagans, is tastefully portrayed with an objective narrative. In the film, there are cruelties and acts of brutality inflicted from both belief systems. This was perhaps my favorite element to the movie. While personally I rooted for the pagans against the tyranny of the church, I found that my brother and I could argue over who was the demonized side, and the writing offered no kind of resolution. That the oppression of the church and the clandestine nature of the pagans only fueled one another is probably truer to history than textbooks will ever show, this movie portrays the idea brilliantly (despite the dark feel). 

If you think the movie sounds interesting, and are interested in it for plot, substance,and a gratifying experience, check this one out.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Green Lantern

All I can say is that I was extremely impressed with this film. Based on the trailers, I was expecting this film to be mediocre, I was wrong. In my opinion, for a superhero film to work, it all narrows down to special effects and the acting. For this movie, both are great. This movie may not have been as good as X-men: First Class or The Dark Knight, but it is an above average superhero movie. Ryan Reynolds is good as always and Mark Strong delivered a strong performance as well. This movie is heavy on special effects and they are SPECTACULAR. The dialogue is nothing new but don't expect it to be excellent given the fact that its a superhero movie. Overall, this movie was very well done and I liked it a whole lot more than I thought it would. Hopefully this may be the first of many Green Lantern movies because this has the potential to become a great movie franchise.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

X-Men: First Class

Fox can breath easy again because I think it's safe to say the even the extreme fanboys will be putting down their pitchforks and torches and smile after seeing this amazing film. I know for a fact that general audiences are going to love this movie. I know some fans can be irrational and hold on to their hate because they expect certain things they read in their books but I can't seeing anyone being that irrational when faced with a result that delivers what First Class manages to deliver. It honestly is a genre-defining movie on a level with any comic based film that has come before it. Everything in this movie is exceedingly better than what Fox delivered in their last two efforts with this franchise. Going back to the beginning and re-hiring the guy that brought us those films was a splendid idea. The acting here is superb and the dialogue is rich. Every character feels absolutely believable no matter what abilities they have on display. No cartoonish villains or cheese in sight, every side of the issue is presented by people who believe they are the ones who are in the right and the underlying message of tolerance and bigotry only add to the depth of this film. If not a genre-defining movie than maybe it redefines the comic book genre. It restores the sense of epic adventure and grand-scale storytelling that we saw in X2. In fact, it perfectly complements that great film and probably surpasses it.

This film is to X2 what Godfather 2 was to the Godfather. Seriously, First Class is an exceptional "flashback" look that links the best of the X-Men trilogy to the past. Instead of DeNiro playing young Vito Corleone we get James McAvoy as young Charles Xavier. Marlon Brando and Patrick Stewart made their respective characters popular but both were more fleshed out by incredible younger talent. I'm not placing the X-Men film itself on a par with the Godfather but both have become legendary in their particular genre. I am, however, saying McAvoy has a bright future as a complex and talented actor. Just like the young cast of Godfather 2 was legendary, the young cast of First Class has many great days and projects ahead of them.

Love this entire cast but Michael Fassbender delivers the best performance with an amazing presence and command of the screen. Everyone was extraordinary. What many expected indeed happens. By that I mean every scene that Fassbender and McAvoy are in together absolutely sing. It won't surprise anyone to know that Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt and Jennifer Lawrence are superb in supporting roles but Nicholas Hoult did stunning work as the Beast and deserves some love as well. January Jones and Rose Byrne are hot as can be but aren't just simple eye candy. Sure, the story is compelling and the action is amazing but the performances elevate this movie far above a common summer flick.

Monday, June 6, 2011


I'm sorry everyone! I got off to summer and just didn't look back. Look forward to some new posts though in the coming weeks. There are some great movies coming out this summer, and some that have already come out!

Again, I'm sorry for the silence, but look for some great material in the up coming weeks. We have some great movies and some fantastic music festivals this summer. Some of the highlights being The Green Lantern, Captain America, and Harry Potter: The Deathly Hallows Part 2. I'll also be heading to Knoxville, TN to see Framing Hanley at The Valarium in July.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Fast Five

Sure the original was something fresh, new, and somewhat original. But the sequels have been anything but. Yeah i know it's high octane fun, but you can say the same thing about Michael Bay films. Am i saying that these sequels are as bad as Michael Bay films? No, but each one offers nothing new, well, unless you count drifting, and that isn't saying a lot. Hopefull this new installment can bring something fresh to the table.

I never thought i would say this, but i actually enjoyed this movie. I went in with low expectations, and came out pretty damn satisfied. Sure the movie had a lot of the same moving parts, but what really made this one stand out is how it actually changed the pace of how they normally do things.

First, they didn't have a damn drag race every 10 minutes. In fact, they barely had any. Which really is a genius idea, because when the time did come to have an awesome driving sequence, you were begging for it. Finally, someone with brains stepped into this movie and said let's save all of our bullets and unleash them in the end.

So with a series that relies heavily on their driving sequences and less on their script, how do you keep your audience entertained? Well, the first step is to incorporate another major actor, enter The Rock. Next, you really need to buff up your script. Okay, here is where it gets both good and bad. It's good because the movie takes a ton of it's credit from the "Ocean 11" films. Yeah, it's stealing an idea, but it injecting more action into it, which is pretty cool. But the reason why i say it's also bad, is because it's still packed with bad cheesy one-liners, poor acting, and some really tarnished plot outlines. But does that take anything away from the fun.......not really.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Water for Elephants

The film completely fulfilled my expectations. It is a well scripted, meticulously shot and finely acted period drama, the likes of which are increasingly less to come by at the movies these days. A big congratulations to all those involved with the production for having the confidence to delve into this venture. Actually I am very curious about its box-office. Last year was a surprisingly profitable year for adult dramas and if that is any indication, this fine film should continue the same trend.

Water For Elephants really impresses with the production design, atmosphere, costumes and stunts. Most of the time I felt like I was watching a classic film made during the studio era; it looked that authentic and faultless. The three main actors all seem satisfied for having such meaty parts and deliver more than satisfactory performances. Robert Pattinson shines and proves that he is capable as a serious actor. Reese Witherspoon has always been a true professional and here with her stunts demonstrates that again. She also fits surprisingly well to the 1930s platinum blonde beauty type. Christopher Waltz is a wonderful actor and here it becomes very clear that his success in Inglorious Basterds was not a one-off. The story is very emotional and while it touches the heart romantically, it also manages to lay down a heretofore unseen dark aspect of old era circus entertainment in particular and also crowd entertainment as a whole. I almost wished for a three hour epic after it ended; it left me wanting more. The whole thing was really interesting.

All in all a wonderful and deeply satisfying experience at the movies, well worth every dime. Go see it so that adult dramas of this caliber (in terms of star power, production budget and subsequent attention to detail) could continue to be made.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Another outstanding effort, Marvel does it again! It's hard to believe that a movie with this subject matter can make you think and challenge all your movie viewing skills but it does so and more. It's very artistic and you would expect no less from Kenneth Branagh. He presents the entire film in a way that can be savored. Many aspects are classical drama and yet other aspects are just plain old fun kick-butt action scenes. It's a perfect blend and this movie is far deeper then I would've thought. The pacing was perfect as is the link to the Marvel movie Universe... I can't wait to see what Captain America brings us. Overall, a summer movie that's superior to everything else that I've seen in years.

The director's background in Shakespearian themes comes in to play right from the beginning of the film and run throughout. Thor is a super-strong "god" and can travel through space with supernatural powers yet the story is paradoxical and contrary about those elements instead choosing to focus on the human elements. THAT elevates this film far beyond anything I was expecting but I should have known better considering the source material and the director.

The genuine and relatable qualities of these characters are what make it a great film. Sure, the action and fantasy are incredible but the story works so well. The family dynamics between fathers & sons along with sibling rivalry and the price of vanity and lack of humility all resonate. The choices made and the relationships on display are as wonderful as the brawling and action... which are as good as any summer movie that I've seen in years.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Male Perspective

As I'm not sure what the demographic of my readers is, I'm going to go out on a limb. Hopefully, my female readers will not hold a grudge, because we all know this is true & hilarious!

Raisin Brahms

For those that don't know, I'm quite the classical musician. I play, compose, and conduct music quite a bit and am a huge supporter of the arts. A friend of mine just showed this to me about 98 seconds ago, and now, I'm going to share it with you.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dead Island

We all love zombie video games. Left 4 Dead, Dead Rising, Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare, etc.

Here's the next Zombie Masterwork from Deep Silver and Techland.

Watch this one first:

Then this one:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

D-War: Dragon Wars

If you are under 13 or above 13 and pretty intoxicated, you'll enjoy D-war. If you are a seriously dedicated fan of all kinds of brainless action films, you'll enjoy D-war. Otherwise, don't bother! I saw the movie today with my nephew and 3 of his friends. They really loved it and that made me feel good. After the movie was over, all the kids (my nephew & friends included) could not stop thanking me for taking them to the theater.

The CG is good. Acting and directing are horrible. Storyline is extremely simple. But, since the half of the audience were kids, they were screaming, shouting and cheering every time the dragons appeared on the screen. This made the viewing experience far more exciting than it should have been.

It's a good movie to take your kids to, but except for the final battle sequence, D-War is disappointing.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Stake Land

Jim Mickle has crafted a complete world of bad guys, vampires, and enough evil people to make the entire world paranoid. This is one of the most complete-feeling pictures I've seen in a long time. The characters really feel like they're in this alternate universe of Mad Max meets I Am Legend.

Also, you will learn many important tips for surviving the coming zombie/alien/vampire apocalypse. Cyclone fencing and chicken wire over your car's windows when you sleep at night. And garlic oil on your stake doesn't hurt.

There are some beautiful images in this movie too, with wonderful performances throughout. Now get out of my way, I gotta go kill some vampires...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen

Alright, this movie is pretty fun. Remember in Karate Kid when Daniel Larusso watches all those dubbed over Kung Fu movies? This is a modern version of those movies. China in the 1920s, Chinese Boss's dressed up in zoot suits beating the living hell out of each other, doesn't get much better than that.

Although, I warn you. Don't see this if you want a great cinematic experience. You'll be disappointed. See this only if your a martial arts nut and love Donnie Yen. The film has an adequate plot to keep it moving, but in my humble opinion, there weren't enough fight scenes.

All in all, it's a pretty good film with some attributes that I love when I want to just be entertained by Asians beating on each other.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Too Fat Polka

Friend of mine showed this to me today. It's quite a catchy little tune!

Sunday, April 17, 2011


It was a rainy Sunday and I went looking for cheese, but found a savory meal. Frankly, I was hoping to kill off a few brain cells in the mindless fun of watching a movie about a killer tire. Expecting something along the lines of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, I wanted to drown myself in delicious B-movie goodness. This coming from the man that cannot change the channel when my remote calls up images of Joan Collins being eaten by giant ants in Empire of the Ants.

Yet soon I realized that this film was so much more than horror spoof or a silly gimmick film. The movie opens with a desert road randomly strewn with simple wooden parsonage chairs facing in all directions. Next a car appears and begins deliberately swerving into the chairs, breaking each one of them, until it comes to a halt. At that point, a sheriff emerges (from out of the trunk?!) and knocks on the driver door where he is handed a full glass of water. The sheriff breaks the fourth wall and begins addressing the audience by speaking of the "no reason" principle of famous movies like E.T., Love Story and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This narration immediately reminded me of the criminologist from Rocky Horror Picture Show, and I suddenly did not know what to expect from this movie.

I honestly think the less said about this film the better. Suffice it to say that Rubber is one part B-movie schlock, one part David Lynch, and one part Hitchcock. (Did I just actually go there?) On my first watching of the movie, I appreciated its style. The camera angles, the homage to Psycho, the riveting and unnerving sound track were somehow quite effective in producing suspense. Quite remarkable when the serial tire is a generic tire! Juxtaposed against this atmospheric cinematography was a very healthy dose of absurdity and dark humor. This makes for an extremely interesting viewing experience, where the audience switches abruptly from anticipation to laughter to abject confusion.

The sheriff tells us that there is "no reason" for this film. What a deceit! Because there is a reason for virtually everything – from the opening scene of the destruction of chairs, to the irony of a Nascar race, to the well placed remake of the song "Just Don't Want to be Lonely" to (yes!) the turkey. Irony abounds even as our in character heroine proclaims that she cannot read the lines of dialog because they are garbage.

The second time I watched this movie, I focused on its true theme. I realized with delight that the movie is about movies and their audiences. Pay very close attention to every scene with the bystanders on the road and you will realize that the killer tire story is not the actual plot at all. Also, on second viewing, you can revel in the brilliant personification of the killer tire (Robert). A tire that learns, sleeps, recreates, dreams, and even has flashbacks to his previous inanimate incarnation on an actual car. Observe the film structure and use of the reflecting glass and incineration scene as key catalysts. You will be amazed at all you missed when first watching this movie.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Scream 4

Scream 4 should have been terrible - after all, Scream 2 was only "ok" and Scream 3 was a disaster. But Scream 4 is a very good movie, both as part of the franchise, but also as a stand alone.

It is far more self-referential than you would expect. Barely a scene passes without the characters referencing movie conventions. But it does so in what I think is an intelligent way. And most importantly (for our enjoyment) Scream 4 makes fun of itself before we can get there. Just when you start to roll your eyes, they roll their eyes.

But it also stands as a good slasher flick - perhaps the LEAST slasher-y of the lot so far (it can't be everything after all) but there are plenty of jump-in-your-seat moments.

The combination of old generation cast and new generation is actually seamless, again lots of self-referencing about that too.

The highlights are too many to name - but the opening of the movie will have you laughing far harder than you'd have expected to.

Overall, Scream 4 is excellent.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Captain America

Alright, I can't wait for this movie. I'm a huge comic book nut, and I've waited a long time for this.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Dark Millenium

Alright, I'm not a big MMO fan. I kinda play Star Trek Online, but that's only because some of my friends play. I've actually been waiting for and getting kind of psyched for the new Star Wars MMO, but now that Dark Millenium is coming, I may just gizz myself. Warhammer 40,000 has been a love of mine since I was probably 11 years old. I loved the table top game, I loved Dawn of War. But since then, the two Warhammer 40k console games have sucked. But now, Warhammer 40,0000: Space Marine is coming this fall, and Warhammer 40,0000: Dark Millenium has been announced at E3. Needless to say, I'm stoked for the Warhammer franchise, and can't wait to get my hands on these goodies!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Just Cleaning the Cobra Pit

Holy hell. This is absolute beast mode. Just another day at the office I suppose? 


I went into this movie confident that it would be a cheesy, campy romp with the same "tried and true tricks of the trade," like when the hero is investigating the creepy music coming from the basement and a cat jumps into frame, but I quickly discovered that this would not be case with Insidious. After watching the move and obsessing on it for about 12 hours now, I can honestly say it's one of the scariest movies I've ever seen. In fact, there were several points during the film where I screamed like a 13-year old girl at a Justin Beiber concert. Keep in mind I was consciously trying my hardest to keep my composure, mainly because I was sitting beside my girlfriend. She, incidentally, didn't make a peep; thankfully, I later found out she had her eyes closed the whole time. 

I was also expecting to see some blood and guts, especially coming from the guys who made Saw, but there wasn't a drop. Instead, they used just about everything else in their arsenal to scare the bejesus out of me and everyone else in the theater (my girlfriend included). From literally the opening credits, they created an intense, haunting tension that didn't leave my body till several whiskeys and half a Xanax later. And the movie constantly feeds that tension, making even the characters' mundane family life somehow seem utterly terrifying. I was actually exhausted leaving the theater from all of the uncomfortable squirming I was unable to control. I'd say it's the most calories I've ever burned while watching a PG-13 movie.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Source Code

Most directors tend to stumble for their second film, others far exceed them while Duncan fits nicely in between those two extremes and follows up his very impressive debut, Moon, with this well-executed thriller.

While this is more mainstream than Moon was it doesn't make the film any less thought provoking and exciting, if anything it exceeded my expectations. Based on what the film industry is churning out recently this film particularly stands out for me.

But all the credit shouldn't be down to Duncan. The script is really well written with some smart dialogue and a cleverly crafted story that keeps you guessing. Jake Gyllenhaal also gives a very convincing performance along with a great supporting cast that overall will make this film go down as probably one of the more underrated films this side of the summer blockbusters.

Friday, April 1, 2011


You're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, or at least that's what authors tell us. Well, motion picture directors would want you to not judge their films by the trailers or posters. Limitless is one of the few recent films to deny the misconceptions from its efficient marketing.

It's sold as Bradley Cooper gets smart drug fix from Robert De Niro then must defeat him through a series of cat and mouse games. In actuality Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is a struggling writer/slob who acquires a drug called NZT-48, a pill that allows him to recall everything from the briefest of encounters. In minutes he is transformed from a guy no one could believe has a book deal to a man no one can do without. Door opens, too many doors really. Eddie's problem solving solutions end up fanning the flames of questions around him, and before long it seems that everyone in the city is after him. The intricate dynamics that weave this trail of lies is the best since Match Point (2005).

Enough cannot be said for how amazingly brisk and refreshing the production comes across. Nearly every scene has at least some artistic appeal. This is one of the more attractive films I've seen using the Red digital cameras and I have to give the colorist some praise for the warm palette used to show the influence of NZT-48. Thanks to the mind-altering plot, Limitless is one of the fewer movies where extravagant transitions make sense. Limitless has such a breathtaking pace that you aren't going to find the time needed to nitpick. Some of the action at movie's end is resolved with little plausibility, but it's too much fun to attack.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sucker Punch

This film could not be more appropriately titled. I was a "sucker" to pay good money to see this slop, and I felt like "punching" writer/producer/director Zach Snyder for putting me (and many others) through it.

In addition to Snyder's ("Watchman," "300")"point-the-camera-and-get-away" direction, there's the horrid acting (a term I use more than loosely) of Emily Browning and others. Add to that the convoluted storyline and not-so-special effects, and you easily have one of the worst movies of the year.

What small plot this picture has features Babydoll (Browning) as a much abused stepdaughter placed in a "Shutter Island"-type 1950s mental institution. There, she meets a group of equally terrible actresses and begins her flights of fantasy. Browning seems to have one expression, a sad-sack, dopey-eyed, head-cocked look that makes Anna Faris' thespian abilities look like Katharine Hepburn's.

With this group, she delves into an "Inception"-like world of multi-layered dimensions, fighting giant killer robots, massive zeppelins, German zombies from World War I. These scenes are all one big CGI mess that - to some, I suppose - are going to appear impressive, but when all is said and done give the (intelligent) viewer one large headache.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Battle: Los Angeles

I can honestly say that I enjoyed this movie a lot. I stayed on the edge of my seat throughout it with anticipation of the next action scene which was fast and often. This movie also didn't waste any time in getting into the thick of it. I enjoy these types of movies in the first place, and with the jumpy style of the film shooting I thought that it was great.I also liked the way that the story unfolded. Even at the end I would have been OK continuing the movie for another 30 minutes.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I've spent the last day or so trying to decide what to write about as a "first" post, but I've been having trouble. I can't seem to decide on a topic or how much to write. This has turned into quite a frustrating endeavor. I know people who are just able to crank out posts, for some reason this is a struggle for me. Hopefully the more I write, the easier this gets...

Monday, March 21, 2011


Seeing as I don't know how many people will read this. This Blog will primarily be used to vent and to practice my writing skills. As the blog grows I'll branch into more topics, but for now I'll focus on reviewing some hot tech items, some CD reviews, and some politics.

Happy Reading!