It’s been ages since my last post of this kind. Well in the past few months I have uncovered and been introduced to some excellent music. So much so that I’m starting to consider this year to be a fair improvement from lacklustre 2012. Anyway, here are 10 must hear/have/experience tracks:
10. The Future by Teen Daze.
As the band’s name suggest, this song will immediately put you into a sort of trance where all you feel is the sweet tenderness of nostalgic electronic music. Don’t exactly what that means, but it’s great.
9. I Blame Myself by Sky Ferreira.
Ever since Sky Ferreira’s Ghost EP I’ve been a big fan and while her debut album Night Time, My Time shifts gears slightly in terms of sound, it sill works very well. In fact I like the risks she takes here, as some songs feel like straight up pop songs (like this one), others feel more like ambient dubstep (My Time, Night Time), and then others are just weird (Omako).
8. The Energy Story (feat. Minitel Rose) [dvas Remix] by College.
Leave it to DVAS to render an already brilliant song into an even better one. I don’t know about you, but good remixes are hard to find and very rarely do they match or surpass the original song. I think this remixes surpasses it without a doubt. It feels more clubby but in a good way.
7. The Set Up by Favored Nations.
An instantly recognizable song if you’ve played GTA V. That game by the way has an insultingly excellent soundtrack that grows progressively better. At any case, this is one of my favourite tracks. Even though it is very repetitive, for some reason it just works.
6. Do It With a Rockstar by Amanda Palmer & Grand Theft Orchestra.
Nothing much to say besides that it is exceedingly fucking awesome. Good to pump some adrenaline on you.
5. Please Turn by Little Dragon.
Ever since her duet with Gorillaz in Empire Ants, I’ve been meaning to give Little Dragon’s albums a listen. Can’t say I’m a fan of most of her songs, but I do thoroughly enjoy this one. Best word I can find to describe it would be: kinetic. It over powers your body with it sweetly up-beat vibe and you can’t help yourself but dance.
4. abnormalize by Ling Tosite Sigure.
Been watching a lot of anime shows for the past couple of months, and the one opening song that I simply cannot get enough of is this one right here. It’s a rage inducing alternative/rock/metal track with badass guitar riffs and a chorus that will make you go crazy. I always feel the urge to scream this song even though I do I’m totally butchering Japanese. Oh in case some of you were wondering, this is the intro song from the first half of Psycho Pass.
3. Light the Path by The Capsules.
Usually you fall in love with one artist’s song and then when you check out their full length album you’re left disappointed. Sometimes what made that one song great isn’t present on the other tracks. Well that’s not the case here since everything about The Capsules’ Someone for Everyone is pure excellence. There’s an overwhelming sense of melancholy and nostalgia within most of the song there, and they form achieve a balance between making you depressed and sending you into a contemplative state.
2. True Romance by CITIZENS!
The cool thing about spotify is that it constantly introduced you to new music. Sometimes the songs hit the mark, and then there are those very rare times when they totally blow up the mark with euphoric ferocity. That’s exactly what this song did. “True Romance” is an incredibly awesome whose gradual build-up and fireworks-like release pushes you into insane zero-fucks-given dance. I fucking love it.
1. Chamakay by Blood Orange.
I’m always surprised when I listen to an artists I had never heard of before and with the opening song alone I fall in love with them. “Chamakay” is such an enchanting song with its jazzy vibe, 80s chill techno and beautifully sentimental vocals. Lyrically the song is also pretty fantastic and relatable. This is a perfect set up for the rest of Cupid Deluxe, which is easily one of the best albums of 2013.
Here’s a LINK to the entire list. Let me know if there are any issues with the link.
The more anime I watch the more I realizes just how consistently great their soundtracks are. Even the shows that kinda suck or underwhelm still manage to deliver an awesome selection of songs. As good as Kaiba is, it is the soundtrack and more specifically this ending song that have enchanted me.
Even though on my first viewing I didn’t like 28 Weeks Later, its soundtrack has always made me give the film more chances. I’m at a point where I enjoy its bloody and at times non-sensical action, but the soundtrack is still the only reason why I’m glad this film was made.
Film Review: The US Remake of 'Oldboy' is An Abysmal Failure that Takes a Massive Shit on Cinema.
Remakes are a tricky business. The only times that a remake is justifiable is if the people involved find a distinctive way of re-telling a story, and that this distinctive way will say something new about the source material. As most of us are aware of, this is not the reason behind many of the remakes nowadays which is why they are for the most utter shit. Very few get it right, and Spike Lee’s remake of Oldboy gets its terribly, insultingly wrong.
After being imprisoned for 20 years in a room, Joe Doucett (Josh Brolin) is finally released. Determined to find the people responsible for his imprisonment, Joe starts investigating and on the road meets Marie (Elizabeth Olsen), who decides to help him. During his investigation, he not only discovers the person responsible for his most unfortunate 20 past years, but also a secret that can jeopardize his newfound freedom.
Let me start by saying that the original Oldboy was my introduction to South Korean cinema and the main reason why I’m obsessed with it. That film is masterpiece in every sense of the word. So from the get-go it makes little sense for there to be a US remake since there is honestly no way anything could come close to the original. Now considering the talent involved in this remake, I was anticipating that while the US Oldboy would not be great that it would at least be entertaining and interesting. It is none of those things, in fact it is such an atrocious piece of shit that I felt personally insulted while watching it.
So how do you fuck up what is already a pretty fantastic story? In many, many, many ways as it turns out. I know Spike Lee is a very respectable director but in my opinion he is one of the most uneven directors around. When he gets it right it is marvellous but when he gets it wrong it is a shit storm of stupidity. Oldboy belongs to the latter kind. His direction is non-existent since there is nothing about this film that showcases his style. Watching it you get the sense that some nobody directed it. Lee handles a lot of things terribly in this film, but the worse offence comes with the story.
If you ever wanted to see a film where every single aspect of it serves only to further the plot, then you should watch Oldboy. First there’s the fact this film moves at a rapid pace which leaves very little to no room for characters to breathe and be developed. As such every decision the characters make, especially those of Elizabeth Olsen’s Marie, feel entirely forced. Her meeting with Joe is laughably generic and the way she gives herself to him is uncalled for and nonsensical. What are her motivations? Who cares since she’s a slave to the plot and does what the plot requires of her. It is extremely pathetic to see and at times borderline insulting. I mean, are you seriously telling me that after a woman is almost ganged raped that in the span of a few hours she would have sex with a man whose is responsible for her attempted rape? Get the fuck off.
Elizabeth Olsen’s character may be a joke, but alleviating her uselessness is how every other character is also a joke. Samuel L. Jackson is just there because why not. He adds nothing to the proceedings and is the epitome of forgettable. Josh Brolin seems to be perpetually expressing one emotion: anger. There is so little depth to his character that as protagonist we care very little for his plight. Even though we are supposed to feel sympathy for his suffering, Brolin is so uncharismatic and dull that you almost want him to just fail. He does handle the action right, but since there’s very little of it and what there is sucks who cares. Furthermore, Brolin tries to instil some quirky moments into his performance but besides feeling untrue, they also undermine everything else he does.
But the worse offender is Sharlto Copley. Imagine the most generic villain: it would be someone who is well-dressed, speaks with a condescendingly proper vocabulary, has an aura of overtly stereotypical homosexuality, displays facial hair that he can almost twirl when speaking, and screams douche. Copley’s villain is all of those things and it sucks. I don’t mind campy performances, but there is a point where camp turns to outright over-the-top insufferable idiocy. That’s what this performance is, it is an complete insult to the viewer. I swear that I expected a white cat to suddenly appear for Copley to pet. It is such an atrocious performance that I have no idea why anyone allowed him to carry on with it. It does a massive disservice to the story since instead of threat, what this villain makes us feel is embarrassment.
This remake of Oldboy can be utilized to demonstrate why Americans should stop remaking films, especially those from Asia. There is a specificity to the Korean version, a style that is unique and creates such a splendidly fucked up experience that American directors could never emulate. For whatever Spike Lee is worth, he totally botched this film. Every decision made was the wrong one, every claim that this film would follow the source material and not the Korean film were false. US Oldboy wants to desperately be the Korean version and what it ends up being can’t even be considered a shitty bastardization of it. It is an abysmal failure that no one should ever watch. Oh and the product placement in this film is worse than in a Michael Bay film.
It’s Always Summer Under the Sea (Shireen’s Song) by Kerry Ingram.
In a universe with never-ending tragic characters, Shireen Baratheon has got to be near the top. The way she is cast out for being born with a deformity is pretty sad, but even then she still the epitome of an innocent girl deeply curious about the world.
Film Review: 'Catching Fire' Surpasses Its Predecessor and Delivers an Exciting, Visceral and Memorable Experience.
While not perfect, The Hunger Games got many things right from the spot-on casting to adequately introducing audiences to this universe ruled by oppressive and destructive ideals. It was financially successful and made a fan of people who didn’t even know the book trilogy existed. I enjoyed it a lot and the film propelled me into reading the rest of the book, which I honestly recommend doing. Much like Harry Potter, the books stand on their own splendidly and deliver an increasingly enjoyable experience. Catching Fire is my favourite book of the three, so I was really looking forward to the film treatment and suffice to say that it does not disappoint in the slightest.
After winning the last Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is having a difficult time with survivor’s guilt and with maintaining the facade of tragic lovers with Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). Complicating things further is President Snow (Donald Sutherland) threatening Katniss to calm the waters as uprising seems to be in everyone’s minds in all the other districts, or face the horrible death of the people she loves. Unable to succeed in this during the victor’s tour, Katniss and Peeta are once again reaped and send to the Hunger Games alongside past victors.
Many of the mistakes from the first film were the result of bad choices by director Gavin Hood. Things like the sloppy special effects, the epileptic and distracting shaky camera and the atrocious handle of the love story. All of these things are rectified thanks to I Am Legend and Constantine director Francis Lawrence. To say that he does an excellent job in Catching Fire would be a severe understatement. The man elevates this film to such a degree of brilliance that the whole experience of this film is immensely more affecting and memorable than anyone expected. So let’s get right down to it.
The special effects in Catching Fire are awesome, especially the ones you don’t notice. The capital sequences in the first film felt uneven and with the citizens’ crazy costumes the setting felt like a Tim Burton convention. While this time around the crazy costumes still appear, they are dialled back and the focus is placed elsewhere like in the architecture of the capital. The scene were all contestants march take place in this wide arena resembling the Roman Empire with no-so-subtle splashes of Nazi Germany. As a result, we get a greater sense of the hypocritical nature of the capital and how lost these citizens really are. The way they value superficial things over anything else adds a layer to hopelessness to that environment. It’s very reminiscent of our current society.
However, the special effects take centre stage during the Hunger Games where the arena becomes an increasingly hostile area. This is one of the aspects that the first film failed at, since it didn’t provide us with a good image of how seriously dangerous the games’ setting can be. This time around the threat is not so much the contestants, but the place itself that offers up insidious challenges after another. You get the sense that Katniss and co. are actually fighting the capital itself, and I personally loved that the cruelty of the capitol is in full view during the game. From the poisonous smoke to the blood rain to the absolute worse of all: the mockinjays mimicking the suffering screams of love ones. There is a palpable sense of danger during the game, one that is so powerful you almost feel like everyone is going to die.
With Catching Fire, the reality of the world of Panem is in full effect. This is a terribly oppressive world where defiance is repaid with a bullet to the head. It’s a horrible world where people work like slaves, must remain silent in service to the capital and simply accept the fact that they will forever be treated like worthless animals. It’s a frightening and unjust environment that the film does not shy away from. If it could be r-rated then I bet you this film would be right at the top of possible Oscar contenders without a doubt. But even with the PG-13 rating the film does push things as much as it can. The scope and danger this time around is present, and it makes for some really tough scenes like Gale being wiped almost to death. There’s rarely any comedy here, which I think is appropriate since this fucking horrible regime is no laughing matter. Catching Fire takes things seriously and in the process becomes an even greater film.
Similarly, the acting this time around reaches new heights of brilliance. The film continues its spot-on casting with Jena Malone’s Johanna and Sam Claflin’s Finnick Odair. Malone is a powerhouse here and steals every scene she’s in. She perfectly nails the character just like Caflin who adds layers and layers of complexity to Finnick. Returning cast members also have more room to grow and deliver great performances. Woody Harrelson is great as expected and so is Jennifer Lawrence. Josh Hutcherson does the impossible and actually makes Peeta a much more compelling character. To be honest, I hated Peeta in the books and in the first film but in here I found myself rooting for him. Liam Hemsworth is still great, but the biggest surprise for me was Elizabeth Banks’ Effie. Effie was never a particularly interesting character in the books, but in this film Banks turns her into this tragic individual who will literally shatter your heart. For all of Effie’s rules about playing the fame game, she actually does love Katniss and Peeta and feels terrible that such terrible things keep happening to such lovely individuals. The scene where she says goodbye to them killed me as it did her face during the reaping. You could just see her anguish and regret for even being a part of this system. This is Elizabeth Banks best performance to date.
Donald Sutherland’s President Snow is also given more stuff to do here. If there is one thing I loved about the first film was that it placed Sutherland’s President Snow front and centre. The dude does such a fine job playing the villain that it makes sense for him to be given more scenes. Some people have trouble with President Snow, saying that he is too one-note but I think that’s the point of his character at least up until now. As compelling as he may be, once you get right down to it President Snow represents the worse of humankind. I was very happy the film included the mouth/lips blood. Then there’s Philip Seymour Hoffman who everyone was super excited to see. He is good in the film, but his performance feels pretty phoned in. Still when Hoffman phones in a performance it is better than most but you almost wished he had done more.
Catching Fire is not only one of the best sequels in the history of cinema, but it is also one of the highlights of 2013. The film finally exposes the greatness of the books and it does in an incredible powerful fashion. All the themes about oppression and consumerism are in full effect here. Director Francis Lawrence has crafted a beautiful film that makes us think, appeals to our desire for cinematic spectacle, and delivers a deeply human story. This film is elevated by its brilliant and interesting production design, the serious of surprisingly affecting performances and genuine sense of scope and danger. The stakes are much higher this time around and even after reading the book, I was glad that the film still managed to surprise me constantly and add even more interesting aspects to my knowledge of the story. Catching Fire is amazing and I’m glad Francis Lawrence is returning for the last two films.
Quickie Film Review: 'The World's End' Caps Off the Cornetto Trilogy Splendidly.
After numerous years without contact, Gary King (Simon Pegg) convinces his old buddies: Andy (Nick Frost), Steven (Paddy Considine), Peter (Eddie Marsan) and Oliver (Martin Freeman) to re-try an epic pub crawl they failed to complete during high school. But once they travel back to their hometown, they find that the citizens there are acting strange. As it turns out, all those people have been replaced with droid aliens.
The World’s End is the third and final film of the cornetto trilogy. If you enjoyed the previous two, then you will most likely enjoy this one. It has pretty much everything that the other ones have. The dialogue is hilarious and the chemistry between the main 5 is so palpably effective that you almost want things to never end. The action is arguably the best of the trilogy with Edgar Wright bringing the awesomeness he learned with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. All the fight scenes are pretty cool, especially how realism seems to be thrown out of the window every time they start.
The other notable aspect about this film is Simon Pegg’s performance. Now I don’t agree with all the talk about him deserving an Oscar nomination for it, but I do agree that is easily the best performance of his career thus far. The character of Gary King is a total asshole, but Pegg makes him increasingly sympathetic and empathetic. He communicated beautifully that desperation, desolation and longing. It’s pretty amazing and caps off the trilogy splendidly.
Out all of the anime shows I started watching, Guilty Crown is easily the one with best soundtrack. From the very first episode, the songs just capture you and the way they play an integral part of the story is interesting if at times kinda silly. Nevertheless, the soundtrack is just fucking awesome.
Film Review: 'Captain Phillips' Shines with Great Intensity, Immediacy and Brilliant Performances.
During a routine voyage to Mombasa through the Gulf of Aden, the American cargo ship MV Maersk Alabama is hijacked by Somali pirates. Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks) attempts to secure the safety of his crew by playing along with the pirates’ captain named Muse (Barkhad Abdi). However, as times goes by and tensions rise the hijacking turns even more dangerous leading to a hostage situation.
One of the most promising directors in recent years is Paul Greengrass. He elevated the Bourne series to such successful and memorable heights that it unleashed a new way to approach action. While others have tried to replicate his style, none have succeeded. Greengrass has a knack for creating tension unlike any other director. There is an immediacy to the way he shoots his sequences that draw the viewer in completely. All of that is present in Captain Phillips, a film that I believe to be amongst his very best.
Tackling a real life event has its disadvantages, the prime one being the simple fact that we already know how it is going to end. This case is especially significant because it was the first pirate attack on an American ship in many, many years. I remember when I first heard about it and thinking how absurd it was that piracy still happens nowadays. Such actions are, of course, no laughing matter and the danger is all too real. Greengrass manages to turn a predictable event into something unexpected. We may know how it will end, but I assure that you’ll forget about it while watching this film.
Tension is what elicits that immense degree of unpredictability on the viewer. Like I said before, every scene in this film carries such an overwhelming immediacy that you have very little time to think. All you can do is react to the threat and hope that things won’t end in a bloodbath. While this film isn’t an action film in the common sense, there is so much action happening in the form of mexican-standoffs and hiding from pirates that your heart will practically burst out of your chest like alien. Furthermore, for a two hour plus film it is astounding to experience how the tension rarely dwindles. It really is an intense ride, almost Gravity.
Enhancing the effectiveness of the whole ride are two powerhouse performances. Newcomer Barkhad Abdi steals almost every scene he is in. His skinny physic is such a commanding and intimidating presence that you can tell right away why his pirate comrades respect and fear him so much. He also possess such charm that you almost want him to survive this whole ordeal as well. There is a strong sense of morality within this character that while it may seem warped to the audience, it is actually justified and even understood within the context of his situation. This is a brilliant performance that deserves immense praise and award nominations.
The second great performance comes from Tom Hanks. To be honest with you, for a while I was under the impression that Tom Hanks had lost his edge. For a while he hadn’t delivered the type of performances that made him so renown. That changed somewhat with last years Cloud Atlas and now with Captain Phillips he has established once again why he is one of the greatest actors in cinema. His performance is the one we can all identify with and he does such a compelling job of carrying the film that you can’t help but marvel at his brilliance. This is an intricate performance as Hanks is tasked with the job of conveying different thoughts and emotions at the same time. He has to remain strong for his crew while simultaneously fearing for his life. The moment that really sold his performance though came at the very end. [Spoilers Start] For those who know the story, Hanks’ character does survive the ordeal and after being taken to safety, his character is evidently in shock. I have never seen a state of shock depicted in film quite so realistic. Not only does it shatter your heart, but also seeing how Hanks fully committed to capturing that state both in terms of physicality and psychology truly blew me away. It brought to the forefront the all too realistic life-threatening element of his ordeal. In that moment I was like just give him the Oscar [Spoilers End].
Captain Phillips is incredible achievement for everyone involved. It delivered an intense ride that managed to make the audience forget about the end of this event. We, much like the characters, enter a situation of deep uncertainty that is constantly surprising us and keeping us on the edge. Paul Greengrass has assembled an effectively powerful action thriller that feels very realistic. This is direction at its most masterful and incredible. The performances are fantastic, especially from Abdi and Hanks. They both deserve a lot of praise and I hope the Oscars recognize their performances. Similar to Gravity, Captain Phillips puts us in a extraordinary situation where all the filmmaking elements are working at their very best.
Quickie Film Review: Enter the Forgettable and Lacklustre Ride that is 'Red 2'.
In Red 2, Frank Moses’ (Bruce Willis) seemingly quiet life with Sarah (Mary Louise-Parker) is interrupted by Marvin (John Malkovich) upon informing them that they have been framed for a biological weapon that went missing many years ago. Top international assassin Han (Lee Byung-Hun) is hired to track them down and kill them.
Let’s be honest here, the first film was entertaining in a totally forgettable way. The idea of putting elderly people shooting and fighting is cool, especially when you have someone like Helen Mirren. But overall, Red was average. It did make a lot of money so a sequel is of no surprise to anyone. Red 2 adds more people to the cast who add absolutely nothing. They all seems to be having a lot of fun, but unfortunately that fun doesn’t translate to the audience. Red 2 is a pretty dull experience.
The only reason why I watched and consequently the only highlight of the film, and this is completely biased of me, was Lee Byung-Hun. I think he is awesome and it’s really nice to see him in with such talented western company. I like that he is branching out and even better is the fact that everyone involved knows he’s an expert delivering action. For a supporting character/”villain” Lee Byung-Hun is given the most action scenes. I’-m guessing he is the only one who can really do the physical stuff, so I shouldn’t be surprised. At any case, Red 2 is as average as the first film and I’m hoping this franchise dies with it.
I didn’t mention it in my review, but the soundtrack for The Garden of Words perfectly matches the beauty of the animation. I love how the piano captures that feeling of longing, happiness and sadness all at the same time.
Film Review: 'The Garden of Words' is an Earth-Shattering Achievement in Animation & Cinema.
I like to believe that I’m pretty knowledgeable when it comes to film. Lord knows I’ve seen a lot of them. Yet once in a while I am taken aback by the power of it, the power to grab a hold of you and connect with you in such a genuinely profound way that afterwards you experience something that is almost indescribable. Very few films have elicited such a response and even though I’m not looking for them, when such a film comes along I am reassured by the fact that films still have so much left to offer.
The Garden of Words is an animated Japanese film about high school student Takao Akizuki, who dreams of becoming a shoemaker. During a rainy day on his way to school, he decided to skip 1st term and go to a park. There he encounters a woman named Yukari Yukino sitting on a bench drinking beer and eating chocolate. Every rainy day afterwards they would both meet at the same spot and in time a friendship blossoms. But as the rain dwindles, they see less and less of each other.
The first thing that struck me about this film was the animation. I’m a sucker for beautiful animation, which is one of the prime reason why I love the anime show Bakemonogatari. Anyway, the animation in The Garden of Words is simply breathtaking. It’s not so much that it resembles reality but that everything about it feels brighter, visceral and awe-inspiring. The shots of the rain trickling down and the branches of the park moving carry such an overwhelming beauty that it feels otherworldly in a totally transcendent way.
There is a simplicity to this film that makes even the smallest things seem majestic. Then to actually realize that all of it is made by hand it provides animation with completely new interpretation and range that I never expected. It showcases just how far we have come and all the immense possibilities that we can reach. Every couple of minutes I would have a mini freakout because I just could not believe what I was seeing. The level of detail placed into every frame is astounding and insane as well.
I’m one of those people who love the rain. Rainy days are awesome for me and seeing the result of what water does to your surroundings has always given me a sense of solace. So in a way the rain animation here is porn. It’s rare for a film, especially an animated one, to capture that paradoxical feeling of melancholy and euphoria. There is something immensely graceful about the rain that becomes even more affecting in this film. It may sound silly to talk so much about the rain, but it really spoke to me. Without getting too personal. The Garden of Words caught me at such a specific moment that makes simple things such rain feel like something much more.
Besides the unnaturally amazing animation, The Garden of Words showcases a story that while simple still manages to possess a lot of power. Seeing these two strangers interact with each other and grow closer without really stating who they are is intriguing and magical in a way. They form a bond filled with sincerity, excitement and a level of vulnerability that is extremely poignant. It’s a distinctive friendship/love story that hits all the right notes and manages to captivate you in a deeply intimate manner. The film’s ambiguity actually enhances its strength because it allows us, the audience, to situate ourselves within these characters and thus form a bigger connection.
The Garden of Words is without a doubt one of the most beautiful films ever. I don’t know about you, but I personally love pieces of art that are unnaturally beautiful that your only reaction is to cry. I think that for all of their usefulness, sometimes words simply cannot adequately express emotions. Whether you want to blame that on my minimal vocabulary, I do strongly believe that there are feelings we experience that leave us literally speechless. The Garden of Words elicited that reaction on me and I’m sure many will feel the same. Everything about this film is breathtaking, mind-blowing and profound to such a level that I honestly can’t remember the last film that affected me so much.
Even though I still have not finished Samurai Champloo (other shows have taken priority), I still listen almost on a daily basis its soundtrack. The way is situates you into this contemplative, visceral and all-around chill state is unmatched. It’s awesome.
Film Review: 'Thor: The Dark World' Continues Marvel's Winning Streak.
After the destruction of the Bifrost send the nine realms into disarray, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and co have been acting as peacemakers throughout the universe. With Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) in his mind and unsure of accepting the role of king of Asgard, Thor is at a crossroads. Back on Earth, Jane stumbles into a inter-dimensional area that puts her in contact with the long forgotten mystical weapon called Ether. Upon absorbing it, Jane wakes up the dark elf lord Malekith and places her self and all the other reals in grave danger.
Besides Iron Man 2, Thor was the other deeply flawed Marvel film from Phase 1. While it got certain things right like the casting and introducing us to the Thor’s universe, the film as a whole leaves something to be desired. It isn’t entirely focused and feels like it was trying a bit too hard to pave the way for The Avengers. However, with The Avengers and more specifically thanks to Joss Whedon the character of Thor became infinitely more enjoyable and interesting. Now its second stand alone film Thor: The Dark World improves on everything that preceded it to create an outstanding film.
Let’s talk first about the man behind the picture: director Alan Taylor. He directed some of the most powerful and iconic episodes of Game of Thrones and it is that experience on GoT that has provided him with a serious advantage. Asgard in the first film del very foreign and unrealistic with all of its CGI. In this film, Asgard is much more grounded and we spend more time outside the castle. Taylor adds a layer of reality to these scenes and tries to obscure the CGI as much as possible. To be honest, many of those scenes felt like we were in Westoros.
Furthermore, Alan Taylor ops to focus much more on characters and allows for scenes to breathe. This is not to say that pace is slowed, but just that we get a better sense of who the characters are in the film. Taylor also understands where the strongest chemistries are and as such we have numerous scenes of just Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston talking. The writing has also improved exponentially with the lines of dialogue being much more witty and thoughtful. Thor: The Dark World is also one the funniest films I’ve seen in a while. And the comedy comes in smile mundane things, like Thor placing Mjolnir in a coat rack. There is a palpable sense of fun even with all of its dark elements that reminds you that at the end of the day the goal is to entertain.
The acting is pretty fantastic this time around, which is no surprise since the first film did a great job of establishing how great the cast is. Chris Hemsworth settles even more into his role and adds layers of conflict that make Thor feel more human and complex. Natalie Portman is still the visual embodiment of the perfect human being and you can tell she was having a good time making the film. Idris Elba is given more to do here and I thank the movie gods for it. Elba’s Heimdall is an imposing presence and seeing in action was awesome. But the real standout is, to the surprise of no one anywhere, Tom Hiddleston. There’s a reason why he has become the go-to villain, Hiddleston has made Loki into one of the most empathetic, entertaining, intricate and straight-up awesome villains in cinematic history. He steals every scene he is in with his overwhelming charm and charisma. And for a character vent on destruction, we always seem to be rooting for him.
I’ve read other reviews that question Hiddleston’s presence in the film, saying that it’s nothing but fan service. I somewhat agree with that statement. It makes sense to have Hiddleston return because his character is not dead yet, and his interactions with the other characters are so fucking good that it would be a waste not to use him. He is also arguably the most beloved actor in the Marvel universe so of course there’s a bit of fan service involved. What makes the fan service for me justifiable is that Loki is integral to the plot of the film, especially in the way things end. It makes everything much more interesting, and I’m intrigued to see what will happen next.
Thor: The Dark World has firmly proved that the Phase 2 films are absolutely amazing. Iron Man 3 rectified many of its mistakes and delivered something outstanding. Thor: The Dark World does the same and easily surpasses the first film in every way. This is a much focused film that nails the balance between adventure/comedy and seriousness. It’s a fully accomplished film where everyone involved is giving it all. The film works on every level and delivers an completely enjoyable ride that you’ll want to experience time and time again. I didn’t talk much about the action in the film, but let’s say that it is fucking awesome throughout. The end battle that takes place in different dimensions is increasingly exciting. The only flaw of the film, and I guess this really isn’t the film’s fault, is the end credits scene. It feels off, gimmicky and utterly forced. If that’s how Guardians of the Galaxy is going to look like, then my excitement has seriously plummeted.
One of my favourite EPs in recent memory is Sky Ferreira’s Ghost and since I first heard it I’ve been excitedly waiting for her debut album. Night Time, My Time does not disappoint in the slightest. This is easily one of the best and most enjoyable pop albums I’ve heard in a while.
Film Review: 'Dallas Buyers Club' is Below Average Oscar-Bait Fare.
After being diagnosed with AIDS and given only thirty days to live, Ron Woodrof (Matthew McConaughey) decides to find new ways to treat his illness, especially since the trials of AZT in the hospital seem to be making people worse. Once he acquires new and non-FDA approved medicine, he partners up with Rayon (Jared Leto) and together they form the Dallas Buyers Club. Their goal is simply to provide the infected with medicine that will make them better.
For a while Dallas Buyers Club has been promoted as this amazing film that could potentially provide Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto with Oscars. There has been a lot of talk about the amount of weight they both had to drop in order to embody their respective characters. All in all, this film has been posed to showcase amazing performances. The final product is none of those things. In fact, the hype makes the film’s failing all the more evident and underwhelming.
If you want to see the exemplification of Oscar-bait then look no further than Dallas Buyers Club. Everything about this film is screaming “gimme an Oscar!” that it undermine the powerful message about going against the system in order to save people. The story is an interesting one even though you know everything that will happen and that’s without having any previous knowledge the real life events. It is a very by the book kind of film that rarely challenges you and rarely delivers something memorable.
First off, the performances are okay. I applaud Matthew McConaughey for the physical commitment to the role but he doesn’t deliver anything special. He is a charming lead that carries the film and manages to turn his unlikeable character into a humble, open-minded and somewhat inspiring individual. Even with all the contradictions within his character, specifically the fact that you never stop feeling like he is doing this for the money, I like the complexity of the protagonist. Having said that, this is not a performance that will be remembered. It is as standard as they come and it should not even be mentioned as a serious contender. McConaughey has deliver better performances in Magic Mike and Killer Joe.
While McConaughey is given centre stage here, he is outshone by the supporting cast. Jared Leto delivers a good performance that almost feels like a missed opportunity. He is really strong but unfortunately the film doesn’t feature him that much until the very, very end. Leto is a recurring presence that you wish we had spend more time with. There is a lot of heart in his performance so much so that most of the emotional impact comes from him. His turmoil makes us feel something way more than anything McConaughey does. But is it a performance deserving of an Oscar? I don’t think so, but a nomination would be okay. Then there’s Jennifer Garner who I absolutely loved. I cannot tell how great it feels to watch her actually acting again. Her role is small but she has a powerful emotional moment near the end that really got to me. It reminded of how good she is and I hope she continues to deliver great performances like this one.
Dallas Buyers Club is an okay film desperately trying to be something special. It doesn’t even pass the bar of above average. There is nothing outstanding about this film. Taking all the Oscar talk out of the way, the film is effective in what it is trying to do. There is an important discussion to be had with this film about AIDS, medicine and how corporations prefer money over people’s lives. But throughout it all you can’t stop feeling that the filmmakers are deliberately hitting the points that will ensure the most Oscar appreciation. Like I said before, it is so forcefully by the book Oscar bait fare that it undermine the whole proceedings.