Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Top 25 Albums of 2012

25) King Tuff - King Tuff
24) M. Ward - A Wasteland Companion
23) The Men - Open Your Heart
22) The Killers - Battle Born
21) Japandroids - Celebration Rock
20) The Shins - Port Of Morrow
19) 2:54 - 2:54
18) Azealia Banks - 1991 EP
17) The Walkmen - Heaven
16) The XX - Coexist
15) Mac Demarco - 2
14) fun. - Some Nights
13) Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music
12) Stagnant Pools - Temporary Room
11) Grizzly Bear - Shields
10) Jukebox The Ghost - Safe Travels
09) Beach House - Bloom
08) Tame Impala - Lonerism
07) Dr. Dog - Be The Void
06) Blu & Exile - Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them
05) Shad - Melancholy And The Infinite Shadness
04) Titus Andronicus - Local Business
03) Divine Fits - A Thing Called Divine Fits
02) Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.A.A.d. city
01) Frank Ocean - Channel Orange 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

American History X

Edward Furlong's cinematic career emulates the life of the Average Joe American. He was a fresh-faced, endearing child in 1994's Terminator 2: Judgement Day (James Cameron). He became an aggressive and rebellious teenager in American History X (Tony Kaye 1998). And now he sort of loafs around watching reruns of Ice Road Truckers and Swamp People.

During his brief period of stardom, Furlong exhibited true talent, specifically in the above mentioned American History X. Telling the story of a rehabilitated neo-nazi (Edward Norton) and his younger brother, eager to follow his skinhead footsteps (Furlong), the film excellently sheds light on racism and family in modern America.

A Toast

The film consists of two alternating timelines: the past, showing the contributing factors to Norton's plunge into Nazism, his eventual arrest, and his rehabilitation in prison, and the present, in which Norton attempts to rid himself and his younger brother of his demons. The stylistic choice to shoot the scenes from the past in black and white evokes and emotional reaction from the audience and is a great metaphor for the racial tension throughout the film. Of course, it's also really fucking obvious.

The drastic images portrayed in the film walk a dangerous line between being offensive and unnecessarily dramatic, and being insightful representations of racism. Kaye walks the line brilliantly and employs incredible images, without seeming profound simply for the sake of being profound. Furthermore, some scenes from the film and deeply moving. Some others are just plain badass.

"Come and bask in my badassery"
Speaking of badass, Norton's performance is beyond stellar, even if his swastika tattoo looked alarmingly like Sharpie. With the exception of trying to pass for a teenager, Norton's transformation is entirely believable. The depth of his character is reflected in the emotions he depicts, and it's easy to root for him. At least, after the whole curb-stomping fiasco.

Furlong's performance deserves equal praise. If Norton is the star of the film, Furlong is the emotional force driving the film forward. His desire for his big brother's approval has blinded him, and his growth throughout the film is truly moving.There's never a real doubt that he is a good guy, ultimately making him the easiest Nazi to like until Hans Landa.

Beer Two

Unfortunately, the talent ends after the two Ed's. The supporting cast is undeniably weak. Ethan Suplee as Norton's best Nazi friend is obnoxious and his unabashed racism is, in the end, annoying. And Fairuza Balk may be the worst love interest in the history of cinema. She had a good year in 1998 with this film and Waterboy (Frank Coraci, 1998) but she hasn't done much since. Apart from having a name that's fun to type, she has little going for her. But I guess she looked enough like a crack addicted Nazi to get a supporting role in one of the best films of the 90's. 

Tell me I'm pretty!

The Edwards' performances and the stylistic choices of the film make this story of racism easy to get lost in. There are some immortal images within these two hours which almost negate the poor supporting cast. And now I know that "Put your mouth on the curb" is the scariest and most badass thing anyone can ever say to you.

Bonus Drinking Game

Take a drink: every time you hear a different racial slur

Take a drink: for Elliot Gould. He deserves it

Shotgun a beer: during the curb stomp scene, just so you can pretend to be as awesome as Edward Norton

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Top Ten Songs From Freshman Year

This year I was fortunate enough to learn about a shit ton of new music. Probably around 7000 songs. It was an awesome year filled will awesome tunes.

The Fox In The Snow
Belle & Sebastian
If You're Feeling Sinister (1996)

New Slang
The Shins
Oh Inverted World (2001)

Lust For Life
Album (2009)

Sprawl II
Arcade Fire
The Suburbs (2010)

The Cranberries
Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We? (1993)

Wilhelms Scream
James Blake
James Blake (2011)

Exhibit C
Jay Electronica
Exhibit C (Single) (2009)

Some Nights
Some Nights (2012)

Beach House
Teen Dream (2010)

American Wedding
Frank Ocean
Nostalgia, Ultra (2011)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Song of the Day 4/29/12

It's good to be back. Apparently second semester freshman year takes up all of your free time, so I'm coming back with a vengeance now that it's over. Let's do it.

Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (1994)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

Every once in a while, a film comes around capable of pulling at your heartstrings without seeming too feminine, and creating a fantastical world without seeming too nerdy. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is like that, plus a giant mindfuck.

It features Jim Carrey in a serious role as Joel Barish, a lovesick thirty-something in a desperate attempt to move past his ex-girlfriend Clementine, played by Kate Winslet. He finds an agency, run by Tom Wilkinson, with the ability to erase certain parts of the memory, specifically those containing crazy ex-girlfriends. With help from Elijah Wood, Kirsten Dunst, and Mark Ruffalo, the company helps Joel erase Clementine and hopefully move on with his life.

A Toast
First and foremost, the names in the above intro should immediately draw attention to this film. If someone told you there was a movie containing Frodo, Mary Jane Watson, Ace Ventura, and swagtastic Mark Ruffalo, you know you'd wanna see it. And this ensemble delivers brilliantly. Some people dislike Carrey's serious roles, which is understandable. It's hard, after all, to look past this image.

But Carrey delivers in expert fashion. He is relatable and believable, and the film benefits greatly from this. Charlie Kaufman's script contains some questionable lines, and anyone other than Carrey wouldn't be able to pull them off. I mean, can you imagine Nicolas Cage saying, "Sand is overrated. It's just tiny little rocks,"?

The character Carrey portrays matches perfectly with Winslet's Clementine. She is perfectly obnoxious and conceited; we hate her, and we love her all at the same time. The rest of the cast is excellent as well. They emulate various states in a relationship, all of which mirror Joel and Clementine at one point or another. Their roles are clearly defined and because of this the film excels. And sure, it's nice seeing Kirsten Dunst jumping on a bed.

What stands out the most, however, is the incredible cinematography. Director Michel Gondry creates a world entirely his own, whether it be on a beach in Montauk or in Joel Barish's bedroom. Everything is connected on multiple levels, which constructs an almost dream-like setting. Specifically, the scenes which are Joel's recalled memories contain an almost astral quality. We know the scenes are from the past, but they seem as though they could happen in the future. These innovative sequences are truly special, and make the film as great as it is.

It's easy to understand why this film was on the top of many people's Best of the Decade lists. Its visionary nature combined with its superb acting make this a must-see for any film buff. It is absolutely a modern classic, and deserves to be seen as such. Enjoy this film, and remember: You will never, ever be as cool as Mark Ruffalo.

Bonus Drinking Game
Take a drink - Whenever Clementine has a different hair style/color
Take a drink - Whenever Elijah Wood is on screen, just because he's so silly
Take a shot - At the jumping on the bed scene
Finish your drink - If Mark Ruffalo inspires you to have crazy bed head.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

50 First Dates

Most people go into Adam Sandler movies expecting the same thing: the film will provide a couple chuckles and familiar faces that ultimately proves unfulfilling and emotionally drained. This is the stigma that has resulted from Sandler's yearly up-chuck of declining comedic talent. Unfortunately, he peaked incredibly early in his film career, after which, very few of his films could muster the same amount of energy. 50 First Dates comes close to capturing this essence of Sandler's heyday.

Sandler plays Henry Roth, a Hawaiian playboy who concocts various elaborate lies to seduce tourists. One day he meet Lucy, played by Drew Barrymore, and the two hit it off, causing Roth to stray from his player ways. But, uh-oh, Lucy has serious brain damage and can't remember shit after 24 hours. Her brother and father, (Sean Astin and Blake Clark, respectively), relive Lucy's last day of memories everyday in order to keep her from going nuts.

A Toast
In their second feature together after The Wedding Singer (1998), the chemistry between Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler is at it's peak and the film really benefits from this. They play off each other well enough that we look past the fact that Barrymore is one step away from being a total vegetable. The chemistry they have make it seem as though their relationship could have actually happened without the whole memory loss shtick. It was a gamble to begin with for a rom-com to have such limits on the primary relationship, but writer George Wing pulls off somewhat of a miracle. Sandler's relationship with Barrymore is one of his best, and helps us forgive him for his previous slam pieces.

Oh dear lord, PLEASE STOP!

The film also sports a Hawaiian backdrop well, and while it was probably only set there for Rob Schneider "jokes" (I put jokes in parentheses because what he sees as humor, I see as verbal ipecac), the setting does add to the playfulness of the script.

The best part of the film comes from the soundtrack. It features 311, The Beach Boys, Bob Marley, and all things in the genre of Surf. The combination of the soundtrack, the script, and the Hawaiian setting creates a feeling of happiness and bliss that never dissipates. This synthesis is the reason 50 First Dates has such a strong fan base. People like to feel good, and they also like fat Hawaiian men playing the Ukelele.

Beer Two
Speaking of Rob Schneider, I wish Adam Sandler would have stopped putting him in his films. Actually, I'd be fine if Sandler kept Schneider in his bit part as the "You can do it!" guy with the indiscernible accent. 

Someone should curb stomp you.

But Schneider's character Ula is really just a Hawaiian stereotype with a glass eye. His character isn't meant to have any emotional depth; he's pure comedic relief. But here's the thing about comedic relief, it doesn't work if the actor isn't funny. And it especially doesn't work if the actor combines the sense of humor of Carrot Top and Gene Shalit, with the stupidity and racist nature of Carlos Mencia. In short, he blows, he's the main reason this film isn't considered one of Sandler's classics, and I wish he would go away.


Ultimately, 50 First Dates is in the second tier of Sandler movies, behind classics like Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore. It's a good twist on the typical romantic comedy and it provides enough comic antics to keep the audience entertained. Sandler's more recent movies have gone unappreciated due to their predictable nature and unoriginal plot lines. But 50 First Dates should go down as one of his better efforts. It's an above average film, as far as rom-coms go, and will never fail to put you in a good mood. 

Bonus Drinking Game
Take a drink: whenever someone speaks Hawaiian that you don't understand
Take a drink: whenever you see a Sandler movie veteran
Take a shot: when Drew Barrymore cries like a wildebeest
Finish your drink: when you can't stand Rob Schneider anymore