Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Script Review: Balls Out

I haven't read very many scripts, but I do every once in a while. I am aware of the entire practical subculture of unproduced scripts that read anything that can be found. I look for the unproduced gems. And the few I have read are beautiful. Balls Out is far and away the best. Balls Out is rude and raunchy and knows it. It was a pretty short read, about an hour and a half, but worth every part. The dialogue is witty and the script is filled with plenty of allusions, to itself and other works. A good number of the jokes are very offensive and politically incorrect, meaning it will stay unproduced until society doesn't care as much about censorship. The script was written by "The Robotard 8000", and I'm pretty sure there is some talent in there. The script flaunts its jokes, without being too flashy. It is very simple. A good portion of the laughs come just from the scene headings and action. If this were ever made, it would probably not be as good as the script. If it was, man would lament over its beauty. Whoever "The Robotard 8000" is, they are either a genius, or just very, very bored. Either way, I look forward to hearing more of this screenwriter(s). The script may be read in its entirety here:
Balls Out


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Album Review: Klang

The Rakes are a band that I've been watching for a good deal of time, knowing them from their first album, Capture/Release, through Ten New Messages, and now Klang. Klang presents The Rakes the same way they have been, but modifies the formula a bit. The band took off two years after Ten New Messages, and I feel it was well advised as that album is hit and miss. But Klang returns to the joys brought by Capture/Release. Klang's beautys include "The Woes of the Working Woman" which seems like a modern Talking Heads song, "1989" a very upbeat song with a history lesson to it similar to Strasbourg from their first album. "Muller's Ratchet" is helped by a piano background, and squeaky, at times ballad like, guitar. "You're In It" builds itself up and creates the climax that the song's lyrics imply. It may be admitted that there are songs that only aspects of them are enjoyable, such as "Shackleton," but this album is much more consistent than Ten New Messages and is an overall great experience. All of the tracks from Klang, as well as selections from earlier albums, may be listened to at myspace.com/therakes. I would suggest buying this album, but listening online works well.


Album Review: Dark Was The Night

Just by purchasing this album, I had a good feeling about myself. Why? Well, I'll get to that in a second. First, let me explain what Dark Was The Night is exactly. It's a two-disc compilation album of new original works as well as some covers by some indie rock greats. It was put together by The Red Hot Organization, a group that has put out several charity albums in support of AIDS/HIV research. In 1993, they put out No Alternative, which featured Nirvana, Sonic Youth, and Pavement. Dark Was The Night is no exception. But besides going to a great cause, the album is absolutely magnificent.
The first disk is relatively mellow. Some key tracks include Bon Iver's "Brackett, WI" (named after the town Justin Vernon retreated to to create his debut album), The National's "So Far Around the Bend", My Brightest Diamond's rendition of "Feeling Good" (which I find to be much better than the Muse and Michael Buble covers), and Grizzly Bear's collaboration with Feist on "Service Bell". Other notable artists on the first disc include The Decemberists, Sufjan Stevens, and Iron and Wine. The Books along with Jose Gonzalez do a cover of Nick Drake's cello song, adding electronics to the cello sound. Dirty Projectors and David Byrne kick the album off with "Knotty Pine" which holds the fastest rhythm on the first disc.
The second disc is more of a mix. It starts off with Spoon's "Well Alright", which like the first disc starts the second disc with a fast pace. From there on out, it alternates between highs and lows. It's got some big names such as The Arcade Fire, The New Pornographers, Cat Power, and Beirut. But none of the tracks really do anything to wow the listener. About midway through the album, it gets progressively slower, starting with Yo La Tengo's "Gentle Hours". Continuing with this is Riceboy Sleeps' "Happiness" which features many of the members of Sigur Ros. Andrew Bird adds on with "The Giant of Illinois" whose strings and lullaby guitar playing induces a state of calmness. This is followed by Connor Oberst who does a rendition of his own song "Lua" with Gillian Welch. Finally, Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene fame ends it with "Love Vs. Porn" which provides a light, airy finish. One track that does seem a little out of place is Buck 65's "Blood pt. 2" which is a dark hip-hop track. Maybe the track wouldn't feel as foreign if the album featured a little more variety and added maybe another hip hop track as well as some electronica. But overall, Dark Was The Night is a fantastic album and well worth every penny.


Monday, March 23, 2009

A Different Way of Looking at the World

As I was browsing the internet, I found a website, a beautiful website at that, which showcases videos on futurists and the top people in all kinds of fields giving talks on our future, our culture, and our past. The website I am referring to is one TED.com and is quite informative. TED is a kind of conference, offering up all kinds of knowledge that is out there in the world on subjects such as why the economy is the way it is, simplicity, the pressure of genius, and applications for new inventions. It is astounding to hear the bioeconomy we are shifting into or how Benjamin Button was done and all of this can be found in one place. The videos are categorized in such a way that a user may browse based on a specific topic and delve deeper if they are intrigued. The videos range from about fifteen to twenty minutes. TED offers insight into the importance of technology and innovation in our society and offers its videos up to the general populace for no charge. I say it is best to embrace this newfound knowledge, and it is best to share this knowledge rather than horde it, so whether you are already aware of it or not, please spread the word about TED.com as I have tried.


Friday, March 13, 2009

The Most Significant Musical Event in Years

Forget Michael Jackson's farewell tour. Don't worry about those up-and-comers in the music world because, ladies and gentlemen, the greatest band of our time, Pixies, is reuniting for a festival gig in London. They also plan on a tour. When I say this, I say this as the biggest Pixies fan I know. I've been checking out the careers of Pixies band members since for years on a daily basis. I was listening to a Frank Black song when I found out they were touring. I even checked some stuff out just yesterday about some quotes Frank made last year about a possible album. I am psyched. For the uninitiated, Pixies basically influenced all modern rock in one way or another. Usually I would not be so anecdotal in an article, but this situation is very emotional for me. I admit that I cried upon reading the news. If you live in the UK the only chance to check them will be at the Isle of Wight festival, so please take the opportunity to see this fantastic band. The band had a reunion tour back in 2004 and released a single entitled "Bam Thwok." Who knows, maybe this reunion will be for good?


Friday, March 6, 2009

Review: Watchmen

Never fear, no spoilers here! I went into Watchmen hopeful, optimistic even. I wanted Watchmen to be good. I really did. I am not even that much of a finicky fanboy. My moviebuff-self always comes before my nerdy self. I tried hard. And honestly, it was not terrible, it just was not good. It got off to a good start. I even thought about the great review I was going to give it as I watched the opening scene and the title segment. But, unfortunately, that's about the highlight of Watchmen. Aside from a few other scenes spread out that honestly would have been impossible to get wrong, it was bad in all aspects. First off, the acting, particularly that of Sally Jupiter and Nite Owl, were borderline bad, delivering lines a bit too dramatically. A majority of the characters were oversimplified as well to fit whatever vision Zack Snyder was trying to achieve. I believe he was going for something about good vs. evil and the lines drawn between them, which at this point is a bit too standard for super hero movies if you deviate from the source material. Snyder could have won me over easily if he had either stuck entirely with the novel shot-by-shot or had completely strayed away from the beginning. But Snyder's changes to the story leave plot holes, multiple ones at that. Alan Moore has every right to despise adaptations of his stories, and Watchmen only adds to the list of botched graphic novels. The movie is sloppily put together at the ending, and a good beginning cannot make up for a paltry ending. The action was good, as was the cinematography, but I cannot seem to get past the poor writing of the end. Alan Moore practically storyboarded the entirety of a movie for Zack Snyder, and he could have just adapted it directly, but he instead had to steal most of it and then contort the ending for his own needs. Zack Snyder's additions to the story are pointless and feel extraneous, as the exclusion of other scenes for these scenes feels like it is cheapening the work. Snyder also was forced by the studio to leave out some parts because of time. This is a massive setback, as Rorschach's origin is never discussed and many things are left unanswered or appear confusing to the audience. By limiting time, there is a strained connection with the characters and this creates no emotional appeal to the characters, so when something happens, no one will care when they are gone. What Zack Snyder should have done is not resorted to compromise even in the face of armageddon. For a movie that is 2 hours and 45 minutes in length, Watchmen feels rushed. If you are searching for cheap thrills in an action movie on the other hand (which is basically the opposite intention of the comic, but whatever floats your boat), then see Watchmen in IMAX. I firmly believe this is the only way I found it to be remotely good and I find IMAX to be crucial in the future of film viewing. Overall, see Watchmen if you want cheap thrills, blood, and sex, but if you are a fan of the graphic novel, only disappointment awaits you.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Good Trailers

Maybe it's just me, but the trailers for movies this year seem astounding. They blow away trailers from any previous years. Maybe, I'm just getting to be more of a movie nerd, but I've seen some fantastic trailers and teasers. I thought I could share some that I feel are not getting noticed as much and that are getting a lot of attention.

Watchmen- The Watchmen trailer from last year was shocking in front of The Dark Knight. After I saw that in IMAX, I told my dad, "We are seeing that in IMAX." And so I'll have a review as soon as I see that. I found the trailer with the Smashing Pumpkins music in the trailer to be very effective. (If you must know the song is The Beginning Is The End Is The Beginning.)

Powder Blue- It's been a long time since I've cried during a movie. I've never cried during a trailer, but Powder Blue makes me want to. It is simply beautiful, what it shows with color and despair of the characters with such little dialogue and even information of any plot synopsis. This is a film that I highly look forward to in the coming months.

The Perfect Sleep- I wish I lived in LA for many reasons. But next week, this will be the only reason, as it gets a limited release in only LA. The Perfect Sleep reminds me of the underrated masterpiece that is Miller's Crossing combined with some creation of David Lynch. The resurgence of film noir is a subject that is near and dear to me and this seems true to the genre.

Inglorious Basterds- I love Grindhouse. It's not quite Quentin Tarantino's usual cool style, but it remains a favorite of mine. The trailer for Inglorious Basterds demonstrates QT's return to cool and ability to put it into a war movie. This has been a project of his for years, so I have faith that it will be good.

And some others that I don't have time to talk about (but are still good):

This looks righteous, but was not embeddable: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNPSxqbPLPQ