Friday, November 26, 2010

Cool Sh*t!!- Disney's 50 Animiated Pictures

Walt Disney Animation Studios has hit a milestone this past week with its 50th animated feature- a rework of the classic fairy tale Rapunzel which they've renamed to Tangled. To celebrate, Disney released a two minute clip counting up to its 50th feature beginning with the one that started it all, Snow White (I'm also celebrating- notice my new background image?). Watching this video gave me a warm fuzzy feeling when it ran across its early 90s films such as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Lion King; it makes you remember how good Disney movies were at one point. The decade afterwards is a clear a picture how the studio lost sight of things with their jumble of random films that seem to have come from an array of different studios. Well now it looks like we'll never get those unique Disney magic films again because the studio has announced Tangled to be their last fairy tale feature in an attempt to go more mainstream (which probably means they're going to try to recreate Pixar-esq films). I guess I'll never get to see an animated Disney version of The Snow Queen now. Sucks.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cool Sh*t!!- The Suburbs Music Video

It's been a great year for the Canadian-indie rock band Arcade Fire so far! The band has been turning out some pretty cool stuff since the release of their new album titled The Suburbs, putting them on the road to become much more than just a normal rock band. Immediately after the release of their new CD this past summer, the band preformed a live show at Madison Square Garden which was streamed live on Youtube and directed by Terry Gilliam. The band also announced they were working on a secret sci-fi short film project with director Spike Jones whom they've previously collaborated with on Where The Wild Things Are. A few months back, the band released a kind of interactive music video/short film directed by Chris Milk for their song We Use To Wait For It which ended up making an explosive scene on the viral space. Now, the latest goodie we've received from the band is a music video for their song The Suburbs directed by Spike Jonez which looks to be an excerpt from the sci-fi short film the band had previously mentioned. This is what Spike Jonez had said about the project earlier this year:

It’s not a video. It’s a short film; we’re still working on it. It’s like a science-fiction B-movie companion piece for the record. Basically, we played Spike some music from the album and the first images that came to his mind had the same feeling as this idea for a science fiction film I had when I was younger. My brother and I and Spike wrote it together, which was really fun– it was like total amateur hour. We shot it in Austin and a lot of kids are in the film, and it was great just hanging out with these 15-year-olds for a week and writing down all the funny things they said. It was cool to revert to being a 15-year-old for a little while.

Check out the video here!









Sunday, November 21, 2010

Movie Review- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Just saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 Friday night! Waited in line for an hour and 20 minutes! How many hours did you wait to see the film? I've been giddy about this movie since the summer and now I can't wait to see the second part! Eight more months...geeez. At least they're not making us wait another year and a half- the usual wait times between Potter movies. I did a quick re-read through the seventh Harry Potter book before I went to see the movie so the details would be fresh in my head. I don't think it needs to be said that the final Harry Potter book is freaking amazing- my favorite installment out of the entire series. So how did the movie match up? Keep reading to find out what I thought of the film.

For those of you unfamiliar to what Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is about, I'll give you a brief synopsis. First thing you need to know is, you MUST go and read these books!! You're depriving yourself on something really, truly incredible. There is not a single person I know who didn't end up falling in love with the book after they finally giving in to reading them. For those of you have read the series and is suffering from post-Potter depression, I'll probably put together a blog post on the best series to help ease your depression so stay on the look out for that (don't worry, Twilight will not be on the list).

So Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 focuses on Harry, Ron and Hermione's journey to find the remaining Horcruxes and destroy them. This is the first movie where our trio doesn't themselves in the comfort and safety of their beloved school Hogwarts. As an audience, we can feel the peril and constant fear the Wizarding World is living in. Not long before Harry, Ron and Hermione set off on their journey, they are informed that the Ministry of Magic has been taken by over by Voldemort using an Imperiused Minster of Magic. The new Ministry of Magic falls under the belief that Muggles are the scum of the Earth and begun some sort of persecution of all witches and wizards with non-magical histories in their family tree. Many witches and wizards are on the run because of this, including several Hogwart students. Hogwarts is now under a new Headmaster, Snape who's employed several Death Eater professors. "Snatchers," who are groups working for the Ministry to catch witches and wizards on the run, are one of the many threats Harry and co. need to watch out for on their journey. Harry, Ron and Hermione begin their journey knowing they need to find the real locket of Salazar Slytherin, which they know to be one of the Horcruxes, and the sword of Godric Gryffindor, one of the few objects they can use to destroy Horcruxes. The other Horcruxes they believe could be two objects that belonged the other two Hogwarts founders, Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff and Voldemort's snake, Nagini.

During their journey to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes, they continue to come across a strange looking symbol and the trio decides to consult with a man named Xenophilius Lovegood (Luna's father) to find out what the meaning behind it is. The symbol represents the three objects that make up the Deathly Hallows:
the Resurrection Stone, a stone with the power to recall the dead to the world of the living; the Elder Wand, an unbeatable wand; and an infallible Invisibility Cloak. Whoever holds all three of them together conquers death. Harry soon realizes that Voldemort is after the Elder Wand but the trio decides its more important to find the Horcruxes than finding the Hallows for themselves.

If you're familiar with the book, the film ends after the escape from the Malfoy Manor, which is about three-fourths through the book. I thought it was a pretty good stopping point for the movie, though I did wish I could have seen the rest of it. Because it was cut, the movie didn't have a very satisfying ending. I really felt like something was missing from this HP installment. I'm pretty sure it was the fact that we never saw Hogwarts at any time throughout the movie. The fairy tale magic that the other movies had just wasn't there anymore. This film felt more raw and real. Times were bad for the Wizarding World and that fact really came through. The director decided to dwell on this fact by adding a slightly awkward scene with a incredibly down Harry and Hermione dancing in their tent in a attempt to keep their spirits up. Majority of the scenes in this film is the trio moving around to reclusive areas and setting up camp, trying to decide on wahat their next move. The pacing and mood is much slower and melancholy than the other Potter films, which is not necessarily a bad thing, though I did feel like it was going down hill when they reached Xenophilius Lovegood's house. The movie was definitely the darkest of the Potter films which I thought was done right since the seventh book was the darkest of the series. I'm glad they didn't shy away from the gritty details from the book in an attempt to keep it family friendly.

My problem with the movie, again, was the pacing around the time they arrived at Xenophilius Lovegood's house. I did love the animated bit when we were told the story of The Three Brothers but I thought they could made a few changes with the pacing. I thought it was strange how the trio went from apparating out of Xenophilius' house to land not far outside of it fully on guard with their wands at hand, only to get ambushed by Snatchers and not be able to escape from them. They're could have been a break between Xenophilius and getting snatched by the Snatcher (lol) in order to begin building momentum to a big, intense climax at the Malfoy Manor. Everything was just happening too quickly, one after another, at a very one note pace. Something needed to be thrown into the mix. I also didn't find the Malfoy Manor scene to be nearly as intense as the book. When reading the book, my nails were digging into the pages during this chapter, but this scene in the film felt very quiet and rushed.

One a more positive note, there were several things I did enjoy about the movie. I thought it was kind of neat seeing the trio together outside of school. A lot of the camping scenes, especially the one in the snow, was beautiful. The cinematography, just like Yates' previous two Potter films, was beautiful. I also thought the acting has definitely improved especially on Harry's part (too bad he's not taller). I didn't really like this new score composed by Alexandre Desplat which makes me sad because a movie's score is one of the most important features to me. One last problem with the film (though it wasn't really a problem for me) was it does little to explain the significance of Grindelwald and Dumbledore's back story. Most of Potter's did the same thing where they didn't go into explaining many of the details, making it incomprehensible for anyone who hasn't read the books. I'm sure if the films attempted to do so, most people would fall asleep, but I wonder how well someone who hasn't read the books understands the movies. Please, share your thoughts on this in the comments!

Final Score- 8/10

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bitchin' Ads- Assassins Creed Brotherhood Commercial

I'm not much of a gamer but I will play the occasional video game when a real big one comes around. I remember back when Grand Theft Auto 3: Liberty City came out two summers ago, I was playing it every downtime second I had. Pretty soon, I found myself thinking about Nico Bellic when I wasn't playing the game at all. If I were driving on the road and some asshat behind me if flashing his obnoxious high beams at me, I wish I could go all bad ass on him like Nico Bellic and pull him out of his car and punch him in the face. This wasn't really a fact I ever wanted to mention to my friends, but one day while driving in ridiculous traffic with my room mate, she told me, "sometimes, I think I'm still playing Grand Theft Auto and have a huge desire to plow through all cars." So apparently I'm not the only one who thinks like that and I'm sure a lot dudes fantasize like this to the next level. Well the folks over at Ubisoft knew this and made it obviously clear in this Assassins Creed Brotherhood commercial. Check it out.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Movie Review- Winter's Bone

We're getting around that time when initial buzz begins floating around on which films could be the Oscar nominees for this year and I think its safe to say that Winter's Bone will show up in a few categories. The DVD was released a few weeks back and I got it in my mailbox from Netflix pretty quickly. I guess not too many folks had it saved on their queue list, not that I'm surprised by this. This film is going to be one of those independent films that relies on award show buzz to get viewers. I knew of this film cause I'm a geek for dark, gritty movies with strong female leads so that's why I had it saved pretty early on. We'll here is my review.

The movie is about a 17-year old girl named Ree Dolly who lives with her sick, depressed mother, her 6-year old sister, and 12-year old brother in the poor, rural Ozark mountains in Missouri. Ree takes on the huge responsibility of caring for her entire family. Her father, who is a known drug dealer and Meth cooker, has been missing for awhile. One day, the sheriff comes to her place and explains that her father needs to show up for court prompting Ree to starts asking around town regarding the whereabouts of her father. She goes to her uncle, Teardrop, and the rest of her father's druggie gang which is headed by a man named Thump Milton. When Ree starts poking around, she is told off with harsh threats and is warned to stay away and out of their business. Ree's uncle, Teardrop, explains to her that he is most likely dead, probably killed. After Ree's father fails to show up for court, the sheriff tells Ree that her and the rest of her family will be thrown out of their property soon because Ree's father offered their entire property as collateral for his bail. Desperate to keep her family from being thrown out into the mountains, Ree continues searching for her father at the risk of her own life. The audience soon gets a better look at the grim, dark reality of this poor, rural society.

Sometimes when I take road trips with my friends and we're driving through mountains, I like to laugh about the "mountain people" who live up there. We'll after seeing this movie, I don't find anything about living in the mountains funny at all. In this sort of small, poverty stricken, American society, everybody seems to be related to everyone and they are governed by very strict societal rules. The women are second class next to their men; they are completely dedicated to their husbands and are always there to stand beside them in what they do. A lot of the women in the movie looked just downright scary and the men were just violent and/or drunk. The town has an enforce a hush hush rule regarding the Meth business that goes on so you can imagine the stir that was caused when Ree began poking her nose around. The teenage girl began meddling in a business composed of older, violent men who aren't sympathetic to her feat.

I thought Jennifer Lawrence, the actress who played the film's heroine Ree, did an outstanding job. She turned her character Ree into someone who was believable. Her character was a strong, determined young woman who was forced to grow up fast and is willing to stop at nothing to save her family. Tough character to pull off but Miss Lawrence managed to do it. I pretty positive we can expect to see her nominated for Best Actress for the Oscars this year. Also kudos to director Debra Granik! I'm hoping she'll be this years Katheryn Bigalow and help studios turn more attention towards female directors. The cinematography was very blue and dim- it made you feel the chilly bite of the mountainous region. The film's pace is tense, yet very subtle, which I like. Some people may find it to be slow and boring, but for all the film geeks out there, this one is definitely worth checking out.

Final Score- 9/10

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cool Sh*t!!- Last Leaf Music Video



Those who inhabit the world of the web is always on the lookout for OKGO's next viral music video. Whenever the band releases a video, you can be sure that it will pop up in your Twitter feed or Facebook wall sooner or later. OKGO is known for their low cost, uber creative music videos and somehow they manage to continuously top the previous one int terms of originality. Their latest video is titled Last Leaf and it diverges from what we're use to seeing from their music videos. They typically show the four of them pulling off some ridiculously cool looking, well thought out and calculated stunt. This time around, we don't see anything but pieces of laser etched toast used to create a very fluid animation. Supposedly there was 2.430 pieces of toast used for this video but I'd say it was well worth it in the end. Have a looksie!


P.S., do you like the new background? Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows in one week people! Got your tickets yet? I got mine!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Movie Review- Toy Story 3

Toy Story 3 came out on DVD last week and it is the first non-original Pixar movie to come out since Toy Story 2 which was released back in 1999. I've been spoiled with so many brilliant, original Pixar stories for the past 10 years that I was kind of sad when I heard their line up for the next few years is going to be mostly sequels. Regardless, I was still very excited for Toy Story 3. I saw the first Toy Story movie back when I was just a kid (I think I was around 8) when Andy (the owner of the toys) was just a kid as well. In Toy Story 3, Andy is off to college and I had just graduate from college a year ago. The Disney/Pixar marketing team knew this movie was going to appeal my age demographic and did such a wonderful job marketing towards it. Typically, animated movies focus on capturing the family demographic but this film was also directing itself at college aged kids. For example, flyers looking to hire Pizza Planet drivers were posted all around college campuses and several campuses pre-screened the first 50 minutes of the film for its students.

Pixar knew folks my age would embrace this film- why? Rhere are several Disney sequels of films those my age saw as a children; for example
The Little Mermaid 3, yet no one gets hyped up about it. What made this movie different from the typical bad Disney movie sequel was it did what they would never dare to do. This film was about change and embracing it. This film is about Andy growing up and leaving the toys for once and for all. If this movie was helmed by DisneyToons Studios (the studio that makes the bad direct to DVD Disney movies), they would have had Andy stay 10 forever. It hits a soft spot for us 20-some year olds in a sense that it takes us back and reminds us of the time when we were younger and full of imagination. It's also an emotional movie for our parents too cause it reminds them of how their children have grown or how they will grow up.

Alright, enough of my mushy blabbering. So the film itself is again about Andy leaving for college and the toys are worrying what is to become of them. In an accidental mix up, the toys end up getting shipped off to a day care called Sunnyside. When they first arrive, the place seems like the retirement home of their dreams. A teddy bear named Lots-O-Huggin Bear (Lotso) acts like a warden of the day care and assures the toys that they will never suffer the heartache of losing their owners again and there will always be kids to play with them. It's not long until our toys realize that this daycare really is too good to be true. The toys are placed into a classroom with very young children that don't understand how to properly play with the toys and are basically putting the toys through living hell. When asked if they could leave to a different classroom with older kids, Lotso imprisons the toys and it becomes clear that the daycare is more like a heavily guarded prison where no toy is allowed to leave.

This film is very much a prison break film. I love both prison films and Pixar films so the two of them melded together was better than anything I could ask for. It was a lot of fun watching the toys escape from this "prison" with an intricately laid out plan that Woody managed to whip together in less than a day. An old Fischer-Price phone tips off Woody on how security is run at the daycare during lights-off hours. The phone had this type of old film-noir voice to it which I loved; it was one of those small touches that Pixar loves to throw into the mix of their movies. One small complaint about the movie I've heard from some dudes out there was a particular scene where a Ken doll models off a bunch of outfits. Pixar is such a classy studio, why would they put something like that in the movie? I personally didn't see what the big deal was over that scene, because as a girl, the only thing I did with my Barbie dolls as a kid was have them put on fashion shows with the millions of outfits I collected. I gotta tell you, the folks over at Pixar really did their research with several of these toys, especially Barbie and Ken.

A lot of new toy characters were also introduced in this film. We get the toys at the daycare who work under the manipulative Lotso and help enforce his many "prison" rules. A particularly freaky one that stands out is the character Big Baby. Big Baby is basically Lotso's henchman and is pretty fucking scary. Think back to the first toy story when we were introduced to that baby head with claws- I remember how scared I was of that thing when I was a kid so I can imagine how kids nowadays must have felt towards Big Baby. Other new toy characters are Bonnie's toys. Bonnie is a young girl at the daycare who is a lot like the young Andy from the first two movies. Bonnie's toys include a porcupine, a doll, a unicorn, a dinosaur much like Rex, and Totoro!! The Totoro cameo was one of my favorite things about this movie cause I only own about 100 Totoro dolls myself. I love all the new characters and I'm super excited to see them showing up in toy stores as Christmas approaches. I'll be sure to buy myself a Buttercup plush!

The film ends with such a perfect ending to such a perfect trilogy. The ending shot basically emulates the first shot in the first movie. The end is really a bittersweet one but I wouldn't change it any differently. Going back to my original point, it's all about change and coming to terms with it and embracing it. Watching this film made me go back and remember all my old toys and reminded me how much I use to love them. I actually felt guilty about abandoning my old toys after seeing this movie, but I didn't feel too, too bad knowing that I donated them and didn't throw them away to get shipped off to a junk yard somewhere. This brings up another point. This movie is a lot darker than the first two. The first two, we have the toys worrying about being replaced or sold in a yard sale; this movie we actually have the toys believing that they could die! (Watch this clip, it will make you cry). The Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich was once asked about the fact that Pixar movies seem to get darker and darker with each movie, and he answered that it's not something the studio is purposefully doing; as the filmmakers at the studio get older, they experience many new things in life so their view towards world is always changing and that is reflected in their movies.

My final verdict: Toy Story 3 marks the Toy Story franchise to be the best trilogy ever made! I recommend going back and watching the first two if you haven't seen them in awhile, before picking up the third one. Though the first two are older, they're still two of the best animated films out there. Have a tissue box ready when you do get around to watching the third one. You will be shocked over how emotional you'll get over some non-existent toys. That's right. Pixar is just that good they can make grownups cry over dolls and action figures. Oh I love you Pixar.

Final Score- 10/10

Monday, November 8, 2010

Music Review- Flamingo

Hello my lovlies! Its been quite awhile since I last update my blog and I apologize for that. Things have been a little nutty for me lately. I just lost my job this past Thursday and I've been scrambling to get my life back in order. It was very unfortunate timing for me too because I was planning on living in my new apartment this past weekend, and now it looks like I gotta move out before I even got a chance to sleep in it :( Anyways, funny thing is, I started this blog back when I was unemployed and needed a way to wind down so it looks like it's back to blogging therapy for me! I've also am trying to become more involved with writing for a movie blog called COLLIDER.com if you guys have heard of it. You can check out my first article here! Its regarding Studio Ghibli's announcement of their next movie!

I'm trying to pick up the pieces with everything I left sprawled out on this semi-neglected blog. There were several reviews I wanted to write but never had a chance to. My previous job was taking away 12 hours a day from my life but now I have a lot more time to spare in between filling out job applications. This is a review I tried to get out awhile back and sorry for its tardiness. I've been a big fan of The Killers ever since their
Hot Fuss album debuted back when I was in high school in 2004. The band was a great new addition to the genre of modern alternative rock and you can definitely hear the inspiration in their music coming from brilliant 80's alternative bands such as Depeche Mode and The Psychedelic Furs. Lead singer Brandon Flowers gave the band a unique and captivating voice which can't fail to be recognized; however, when I heard he was coming out with a solo album, I shuttered. At first, I was nervous that the band broke up but no worries, they are still together and coming out with a new album sometime around the end of next year I believe.

Even though I'm not a fan of lead singers "going solo," I decided to give his album, titled
Flamingo, a go merely because of my undying love for The Killers. I'm very glad to say that I ended up loving it from start to finish! The album is proof that the spirit of The Killers really comes from Brandon Flowers because you got all the goods in his solo album. I'm not saying that the man can go on with his career without the rest of his band; I turned on Hot Fuss after listening to Flamingo and realized that the instrumental artillery is so much more powerful when the entire band is together. The album begins with a great opening track Welcome to Las Vegas which sets the mood and tone very well for the rest of the album. I was even more impressed when the second track came around, Only The Young, which ended up being one of my favorite songs on the album. It's a light song all around but still has just enough pang to it- a really beautiful ballad. The album only had 10 songs but they're all great so you don't have to jump around when listening to it. It ends with the brilliant track Swallow It which has made it to my "Top 25 Most Played" tracks on my ipod already. Definitely an album worth buying so go buy it now!!

Final Score 9/10

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Misc. Review- The Walking Dead

My blog has been lacking reviews lately and I'm sorry. Life's been quite busy for me but it should be settling down soon. In the meantime, I'll drop a quick review for your reading pleasure. I am not a zombie person. Never have been. I love reading about supernatural monsters, but zombies were never one to catch my eye. This may be due to the fact that every zombie encounter I've had was some dumb horror movie filled with nothing but blood and guts. After I saw Zombieland however, it was the start of a big refresher for this genre for me. Zombieland was great because it was a fresh new take on the zombie genre; it was funny, clever, and it didn't use your typically zombie fighting characters. A few months back, I also picked up the book Handling of the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist, not because I wanted to read a novel about zombies, but because it was by the same author as Let the Right One In. I ended up really loving this novel despite its mediocre reviews because, again, it was a different take on the zombie genre. The zombies in the novel were not no aggressive, but merely wanted to return to their lives before they died and go back to the ones they loved. A lot of questions are brought up dealing with how far someone's love goes for a person even after they've died and what does it mean to be alive and have a soul.

So by the time I heard The Walking Dead was coming out on AMC, I was pretty excited. The main draw I had towards it was the fact that it was directed by Frank Darabont, the director of several Stephen King novel adaptions such as The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and The Mist. The series itself is based off of a comic book series by Robert Kirkman and illustrated by Tony Moore. I wasn't familiar with the source material at all so I really had no idea what to expect from the premiere this past Sunday. The show started off a bit slow; our hero, a police offer named Rick Grimes, wakes up in a abandoned hospital in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. I was kind of surprised by that because I feel like I've seen that scenario many times before. Regardless, the scenario is creepy and it gets you on the edge of your seat, especially when Rick walks by these locked double doors spray painted with the words "Don't Open. Dead Inside." I was glad our hero soon ran into a much alive father-and-son duo after he left the hospital. I didn't want to watch a one man show like I Am Legend. The father character explains to Rick that most people in the city all went to Atlanta because that’s where the Centers for Disease Control is headquartered. The reason why the two of them haven't headed down there themselves seems to be because a certain zombie wife/mother still haunts them in their home town.

Once Rick begins his journey to Atlanta, the ball really starts rolling. The moment he finds himself in the city, I can imagine some squeamish viewers changing their television channels. Lets just say that the zombies in this show prefer animals just as much as humans and there's a certain horse that doesn't make it. The episode also hints that Rick will be meeting up with some old familiar faces soon so we can definitely expect some group drama later in the series. The premier set up the series to be grim, survival story which I like. It doesn't seem so focused on the horror aspect and there's a realistic feel to it. I'm really excited to see what happens next and where several of these character relationships go. I'll be sure to set my DVR for next Sunday!! This could very possibly mean I've become a converted zombie hater.

Update:
The series has been greenlite for a 13 episode long second season and has become the biggest series in cable history among adults 18-43! Could this new zombie-mania mean I'll get to see a film version of Handling The Undead? I hope so!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cool Sh*t!!- Derezzed Music Video/Tron Trailer

So the brand new Tron Legacy trailer is actually a Daft Punk music video for their new original song Derezzed. There's a awesome Michael Sheen cameo in it with him looking like he's straight out of a 80's music video and of course the electronic-rock duo themselves are there as well. Can't wait to get this soundtrack! I believe it comes out December 1. You can expect me geeking out to Tron Legacy the closer we get to December, but before I can do that, I need to geek out to Harry Potter. November 19 people!! While we're on the topics of movie soundtracks, check out this video with Alexandre Desplat talking about the making of the music for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows after the Derezzed video!