saw the obligatory summer movie last night with Steve and a couple of other friends, the blockbuster sequel to Marvel's Iron Man movies... and also an indirect sequel to The Avengers, which turned out to be one of the biggest movies of all-time.
the first two were directed by Jon Favreau - a director who not only made one of the best casting decisions in movie history at this point, but also knocked Marvel's first foray into the movie-making business out of the damn park with Iron Man. the sequel is widely considered to have been a letdown, but was still successful in some areas. Favreau opted out of the director's seat for the third installment, and I'm sure RDJ was heavily influential in getting the "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" director Shane Black the job. If you're not familiar with Shane Black's lengthy writing credits in Hollywood, do yourself a favor and check out his IMDB page. from "Lethal Weapon" to "Last Action Hero", Black owned the 90's.
I want to say a few words about Iron Man 3; not because I'm a comic book fan and it's a comic book movie and I like movies that go kablooey because, well, kablooey. I want to talk about it because I think it's a movie that played with a lot of tropes and took a SHITLOAD of chances, which is commendable to begin with. but those chances really worked. I think it's the best of the three, because it has everything. the action set pieces were huge and hugely enjoyable, the special effects were excellently done (you know, the stuff you expect from a superhero flick at this point). but what you won't expect is that this is the funniest superhero movie you've ever seen, and will probably ever see. the humor isn't forced by any means, it feels genuine and fluid. there are some lines in this movie (many lines) in which I found myself literally laughing out loud - and that's rare these days, especially for a movie that isn't technically a "comedy."
Iron Man 3 has a twist which is one of the ballsiest I've ever seen. it's a huge spoiler so I can't really get into it without ruining it for those that haven't seen it yet, but there is NO way you see it coming, and it's one of the best scenes ever. your jaw just drops - in a good way. I'm sure the makers had to fight the studio like crazy in order to work this twist into the movie and I'm thankful for it. I wish I could go into more detail, maybe I will a month or two from now. just trust me.
the flick's not perfect by any means, it does have it's flaws... but most of the problems I've seen bloggers take issue with online *are* explained away within the movie, it seems people just aren't paying attention. so please pay attention.
one thing I am going to ruin for you is at the end of the credits (after the obvious post-credit easter egg which you can stay for if you so choose) these words come up: "Tony Stark Will Return." considering RDJ isn't under contract for any additional Marvel movies, they seem pretty confident he's going to return. let's hope he does. because he's the lynchpin for these flicks and he's super enjoyable to watch as Tony Stark.
Not even sure where to start because I'm not even sure I should begin with an explanation. I think anyone who's followed this site for long enough knows our casual nature and our intermittent silences. I think this apology is more for myself. So knowing this, I hope you've skipped this entire first paragraph.
So right now, I'm watching The Killing which is pretty excellent. It's a lot of dry, monotone acting, which can get supremely stale. But the story continues to move. I'm nine episodes in and have yet to find the need to wade through a filler episode. Every episode has had purpose and a push and works as a fulcrum to the next piece of the story. It can be a bit slow, granted. But I care about the entire story, the murdered girl, the family, the case and the detectives. So they did their job there. As this is based on a Danish telling of this story, and I'm not sure if on is better than the other, but I'm tied in enough to want to take a look.
I'm also in the middle of catching up on Game of Thrones (6 episodes in on Season One). Tough to argue with the hype for the show. Where I'm at, again, not a lot happening, but still, quality TV work. And a flood of information consistently passing through the mouths of every character involved. Impressive, the depth of this story. From what I've heard also, props for the translation from book to screen. HBO never really fails. Which is why I plan on hitting up The Newsroom next.
I usually don't follow along with television as it's happening, but I am keeping up weekly with both Hannibal and Bates Motel, both excellent. I love the open fearlessness of those who are making Hannibal. True, dark gore and some great imagery reminiscent of Se7en. Really good, big, nightmare things made of nightmares. Bates relies more on the drama of the story being told. Which is a good angle, a good catch, but doesn't catch you staring the same way. Doesn't catch you hanging on what you've seen hours afterwards.
I watched House of Cards in obscenely fast time. Another show that I could not put down. More than likely because I thought that the Netflix series would simply be a one-off series and have a full circle. It seems like they plan on a second, based on the events of the show. Which are deeply, deeply political. Something I never thought I'd get into. Some real cat's cradle, untangling stuff. But intrigue or not, I'd watch Kevin Spacey play Francis Underwood for hours. One of the coldest, smartest most charismatic characters I've ever seen. Remarkable. I'm most impressed that the show was put together by Netflix and that no other network picked it up. It did give them absolute creative freedom to match the work from the novels which worked to the story's advantage. But this show would kill in the public eye. Everyone needs to give this show a shot. It will envelope you.
I tried to watch the other Netflix series, Hemlock Grove. Not as intrigued. It felt like a lot of smoke and mirrors, with the monsters and occult and blood but no real story that I wanted to continue diving into.
Yeah, TV has got me in deep right now. Updates soon on movies, music, games and sports. Trust.
YO SUP KERI.
i saw dark skies the other day thinking it was going to be a very solid, very suspenseful horror movie that just happened to be about aliens. well. i got a fairly standard, early in the year film that had some good scare ideas pulled together from other horror films combined with an idea or two pulled out of a writer's 'Save For Next Screenplay' journal.
the movie fell pretty flat. wait for the red box.
Here is a list that was given to Pitchfork by Andrew WK.
Top 10 Partiest Things I've Mentally Visualized This Year
10. I visualized what your face would look like when you read this list.
9. I visualized what it would feel like to smash a false wall with a small stone.
8. I visualized what it would feel like to become the President of the United States and crawl on my hands and knees through every room in the White House.
7. I visualized what it would sound like if I watched movies real loud in a small outdoor shed where I installed a large sound system, an amber colored lamp, a medium sized couch, a mini-fridge, and a microwave for burritos.
6. I visualized what the total amount of pizza ever made in the history of Earth would look like if it was piled into a huge pizza mountain.
5. I visualized giving up all fear.
4. I visualized roley poley baby bears nestling and tumbling on beds of pine needles and clover.
3. I visualized what it would taste like to eat $3 all at once.
2. I visualized what it would smell like to live under somebody's bed for six years without them knowing.
1. I visualized how good it will feel to keep on partying with the whole world forever.
there's something i love about dead space. the entire world is built so strongly. entire ships feel as if they were engineered only to die. i've talked to brian about this a lot. every room in every hulk you enter feels like it has a meaning for the ship. if someone were to mod the game, and maybe plug all the broken wires in, provide power, i really believe this ships would fly. isaac clarke is a man you can get behind. almost a john mccain in a future world. thrown into situations just out of the dedication to his job and doing it until it's fucking done. the guns are cool, the experiences of terror are authentic and chill you directly to the bone. the wall of every room is distraught.
there's something i hate about dead space. everything wants to kill you. you're just trying to walk across a room to plug a power brick into an empty slot. you're just trying to save your wife. you're just trying to finish the job. everything dead wants you inside itself. everything gigantic wants you gone. no corner is a safe corner. every air vent is pregnant with a serial demon. you build and collect the greatest of weapons and crates of ammo and nothing makes you feel any safer or any less alone. the blue glow of your suit is a calming flame that threatens to go out when you step through every door.
if you haven't played any of the games in this series, do yourself a favor and please do yourself a solid and jump in. the first was cool, but i think the most quality experience in the series was the second. get into Dead Space 2, follow some YouTubes for the first, then get the third. it is outstanding.
i haven't had a chance to see a lot of movies in the theaters really. mostly because, working retail, november and december months are pure punishment for your social schedule and personal down time. so in the past couple of weeks, i tried to get back into the theaters a little bit and see what's still floating around in the theaters.
Zero Dark Thirty
to start, i'm not sure what the big deal was with the torture scene. i think we all understand that this was true for a time, and it's yet to be proven if we are still engaging in this practice. but regardless, we have pictures and video that it went down in the past, especially during when the actions of this movie were taking place. i don't see what the reaction was about. it'd be like having the same uproar about slavery or the holocaust. we're not saying we support it, we're just documenting, via fictional film, things that occurred at a time.
anyway, the film itself was great. very solid, very calm approach at the hunt for bin laden. i enjoyed the character that jessica chastain was presenting to us. from a film making standpoint, do i feel it was oscar worthy? no, not necessarily. i don't think it was a timeless film except for the fact that it framed and addressed an important achievement for some, and a moment of closure for others. but chastain killed it, absolutely. there's one scene in particular that was flawless. also, i think the ending captured the very same level of panic in the face of unending possibility that the grocery store scene from the hurt locker portrayed.
i feel like right now, it's as hard to talk about this movie as it was to talk about the dark knight within the first few months in which it dropped. so i'm going to try to bunker a lot of what i feel about the movie and save a lot of how i want to talk about it for discussion with those who have already seen it. i will say that i liked it a lot. samuel l. jackson. incredible action and very taut suspense. samuel l. jackson. 100% buying this on blu ray on day one. samuel l. jackson.
i'd waited for a long, long time to watch this movie with my family. with my father who'd expressed interest. and trying to set up a time for all of them to be at their house to just pop in and sit together is hard enough, let alone trying to get them to LEAVE the house. so it fell through for a month. so i took it on myself to head out and check it out. and i liked it. it was good. i think rahul summed it up perfectly on our podcast. it's a solid movie, it's good. i got nothing against it. but it's nothing new.
i think they are trying to make you really get behind the dwarves and really get behind how they've been displaced from their home. but i just didn't feel like they were that much of a group of refugees once you really met them. so the struggle kind of departs a bit. you don't feel bad for them. you don't relate with the place. so you're left with trying to get behind just a standard quest to slay a dragon. which is also cool. and that's something that i'm interested in, something i'd watch. and they pull it off well. the action is solid. it feels like another adventure within the Lord of the Rings universe, which it is. absolutely. but nothing dynamic and unique. and yo, those eagles. they really bummed me out. a total cop out.
a month ago, publisher D3 posted on their soundcloud the soundtrack to the DS/3DS title, Adventure Time: Hey Ice King, Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?. it's a video game soundtrack, so the appeal may wear off once you realize it's a lot of the same kind of stuff going on over the course of an hour. there are two or three tracks that have actual vocals and instruments. the rest are classic style chip tunes or even some beat box type stuff. i have to say, if you need one song to pick out of the litter, it'd be "It's So Cold" which is about 16 tracks down the list. it's cute, it's fun. give it a spin or two. the "You Just Leveled Up MEGAMIXX" got a laugh out of me as well. check it out.
as for the video game, it was a very simplified version game which played very similarly to Link's Adventure. i heard you could 100% the game in about 4-6 hours. but for the charm of the tie-in to the show, worth a cool $15. wait for it to drop or buy it preowned so you can return it within the week.
just this week i saw a performance at irving plaza. it's kind of a weird thing, though. it was of a band that i'd sort of set for myself as one of those iconic bands who could do no wrong, was on some sort of peak. some kind of untouchable, ultimately non-actual combination of human beings and sounds. it's a lot i know. the band was as cities burn and it was at the underoath farewell show with mewithoutyou and letlive..
it was one of those performances that almost didn't stand a chance. it was a curtain being pulled aside, revealing no longer some gigantic head who had built a great kingdom and its yellow brick road which led to the floating genius itself and a city built simply for its inhabitants. it was no longer possible to just be some series of notes or some series of lyrics once penned in some notebook. no. this was meant to only be a life changing experience where i would hear just these notes and nothing else, fall into a forty five minute long DMT trance in which fractals and audio-revelations would float me somewhere above the other attendees on a cloud of expectation and promise. yeah, you know. i set the bar pretty low.
but really, though. i have a two headed review for this performance and for this band and the kind of revelation that i actually did have during their set. the one, simple one is that standing there in front of them, finally seeing them reunited with TJ (the guy who screamed during son, i loved you at your darkest) was a big deal for fans of the band who'd gone two albums without him (except for that one track, gates which kind of blew a lot of minds when his part came in). i have to mention that their entire library consists of a lot of very complex guitars, lots of background layers of sound and tone. a lot of mood, a lot of semantics. so know that i mean with every bit of me that they completely pulled off every bit of what their record does. hums. feedback. tone. all of the scales and chromatics. they nailed it all. it sounded like the record. so there was nothing that i needed more of. the screams didn't seem as desperate, didn't seem as lost or consumed with distraught. but it was still hard and honest, no less.
but the other part of it, the real part of it, the part that i often overlook at live performances, the part that never matters, the other experience of the show that really made a huge difference was the heart of the show. the environment. i came to understand, really, that this performance showed me that some records and some songs aren't meant to be played in front of an audience so taut. i almost couldn't believe that i was seeing people jump up and down in front of me. it wasn't matching up to me that people were moshing or dancing to a record as dark as this one. the band opened with one track from come now sleep, a sort of solo, quiet track which questions the availability and presence of a God without our involvement with him. and then the rest of the tracks were all off of son.... and that record is sad. dark. solitary. introspective. and knowing and relating (or at least creating my own knowledge and relation) to these songs was something that i had always crafted in my head as something that i'd share with this band as nothing other than passing moments of meeting eyes with these guys and staring into a chasm. moments of "whoa."
i could quote two or three pages of lyrics to show you what i'm saying, but i'll allow you to check it out yourself if you care enough to. but understand me when i'm saying that this is a record wrought with some of the most direct and honest emotional specificity and that listening to it has always been a cross to me between walking through the fire of my own penance and baring the most intimate confessions of someone dragged over the coals of a life spent making choices between bad and worse. [i repeat, this record has a personal meaning to me almost indescribable by me. i think you get it by now.] i'll spare you the quotes and the signposts. but i can't imagine standing with your friends, telling them that this is going to be "a really rad show brahh" and then hearing this record.
for me, this was the first time that i really felt that i was in the wrong place at the wrong time during a band performing a record that i'd always wanted to hear live. i felt a strong, singular desire to be completely alone with this sound, with these words. i don't think i've ever felt something i've felt so strongly about come across so incorrectly translated. it felt like trying to share my experience and revelations with william s. burroughs' writing at a family christmas eve dinner. it felt like explaining the personal and spiritual benefits of psychotropics to a kid you're babysitting in front of their parents. i felt a little wrong. i felt my exposure was mistimed. but also, it explained to me, via action, just how strong this record was to me and just what kind of angle it needed to be experienced through. it gave me the glass to drink it through. it gave me the sight line.
this record needs to be me, just me. and it needs to be heard as it was recorded. with headphones and undisturbed.
years, maybe even a year ago, it would have gotten me angry. would have made me feel that i needed to sit each and every one of those kids down and explain to them the individual parts of the record and just how all of them needed to listen to it differently. AND TO SIT STILL. but not this time. i felt something different. something also stronger through this moment. and that thing was a complete and utter acceptance of just how this audience wanted to ingest this experience, this record, these songs, these people. i felt that all of this was a shared experience. they were seeing it through one set of eyes while i saw it through an equal but otherwise centered pair.
i'm saying shit got real.
also, i feel almost ridiculous buying a white stripes album. but i think i'm starting to hear that they might be awesome. they might rule.