Friday, August 21, 2009

I'm Sorry

I am sorry for subjecting you to that last post. It has been stuck with me and I now find myself singing some of my favorite songs in a Chode Rock voice. As an apology, here is the most joyous song ever. It should be the national anthem.

Outkast - Hey Ya! (Official Music Video) - The best home videos are here


Chode Rock: (Ambitions) A Mile Wide and an Inch Long

In recent years 90's nostalgia has claimed its fair share of our cultural zeitgeist. Whether it is the ever-growing pen of mash-up artists (who all inevitably "sound just like Girl Talk, but...") who play vocals of the rock hits of Oasis and Sublime over instrumentals of club rap icons like Lil' John and Nelly or the notion that Drew Barrymore could still be in movies or the resurgence of plaid. But, the latter points to a piece of the 90's that we would all just as soon forget, seeing as its irony does not remind us of a time we can laugh at; a time when we sang along to Eve 6 and thought we were punk or remember believing that The Matrix (trilogy if you were in way too deep) conveyed some grand philosophy to be understood and applied. Instead, the plaid reminds me of a musical style masquerading as grunge that began with this video and still resonates like a stale fart:

Jeremy - Pearl Jam

I believe there are other names for the genre started with Eddie Vedder, but I heard my favorite most recently: Chode Rock. Now, 'chodiness' can be found in a Post-Vedder white-man blues affectation, but is not limited to vocals. The message of the song - a bogus sense of loss or realization - plays heavily into a song's chodiness. Also, there is a distinctively chode guitar sound. Here are some of my favorites, for your consideration and cringing. I warn you, this is not pretty:

Creed - With Arms Wide Open

This may be the chodiest non-Vedder tune and it certainly takes the Chode Cake for video

Crash Test Dummies - Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm


Chodiest vocals this side of Scott Stapp, but the instrumentation could turn your stomach a little more...

Stone Temple Pilots-Plush (acoustic)

Bare-bone chode, but certainly a gem that many chodesters cherish.

Now, many see the chode directly coming from Jim Morrison: his white man blues warble seems to be the basis for so much of chode rock's unique vocal stylings. But, The Doors, as an entity, became icons of the psychedelic rock movement, a movement based in debasing the establishment. The foundation of chode rock is whiney ambivalence about an unchangeable state of the world, opting instead to sit and comment on our collective failures while admiring your own false self-realization.

Unfortunately, the critical hoopla surrounding chode rock's wide girth allows for reunions of acts like The Doors to reincorporate those who claim influence. This may be the most despicable video I have ever seen:

The Doors feature Scott Stapp: Riders on the Storm

2:25-3:02 of this ruined my life. I loved The Doors. I have read multiple books about Jim Morrison and own the horrible Oliver Stone film The Doors. But, this concluded my ability to listen to one of my favorite bands.

And as if that were not enough...
The Doors feature Scott Stapp: Riders on the Storm

3:29 if you love pain.

If you made it through this post, I admire your commitment or self-hatred. Please believe that I will write about and put up something genuinely good very soon. It is just so much easier and more fun to write about despicably bad content.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Review of Hung (HBO Original Series)

Given their track record of groundbreaking series, excitement usually surrounds each upcoming HBO Original Series. The same held true when the advertising campaign for Hung began: a series produced by Alexander Payne (best known for his dark comedies Sideways, Election, and About Schmidt) and starring Thomas Jane (the Aaron Eckhardt look-alike who shifts between indie films like Stander, fighting Mist, and trying to punish John Travolta) chronicling the beginnings of a male prostitute could only lead to uncomfortable comedic gold. But, not so…

Unfortunately, Hung comes at the heels of a string of popular series with the same overarching premise: extenuating financial and personal circumstances force a recognizable ‘everyday American’ to illegal activity. But, unlike Weeds and Breaking Bad (the former revolving around a suburban widow who sells pot and the latter a science teacher who starts a meth lab) this new series strikes a little too close to home. Hung leaves the viewer too uncomfortable: instead of focusing on the humorous ineptitude of the characters, as in Weeds, Payne and his creative team seem to take Ray’s desperation too seriously. This is Payne’s gift and curse: he has mastered the creation of discomfortingly identifiable character composites, but relies on the audience’s own discomfort and recognition of each moment for comedy. The issue with Hung is that in attempting to capture the current emotional response to our collective economic woes, Payne’s commentary is too heartfelt to laugh at the absurdity of the show’s premise.

Perhaps this problem touches on a grander issue with television and film: the audience expects escapism and entrance into a fantasy, even with the most topical content. Even with Weeds, Nancy Botwin surrounds herself with a who’s who of stoned nitwits to great comedic effect: instead of addressing her larger economic and personal issues, Weeds focuses on soap-opera level hilarity and minutia. Hung falls too heavily into our era’s sad reality, a fantasy no unemployed American wants to enter on a Sunday night before their workless week. Indeed, the characters of Hung are immediately recognizable, but not nearly silly enough despite Ray’s newfound occupation.

Now, do not think that I wish the show were an endless parade of dick jokes and dirty humor. I simply wish the creators more fully considered the contradiction of a serious topical drama revolving around a giant penis: episode two displays Anne Heche’s parenting troubles and hints at the delicacy of Ray’s teaching job, but ends with the a song declaring “my dick is bigger than your dick” playing over the credits. Perhaps Hung will hit its stride now that Ray has accepted his fate, but the episodes establishing the premise were painful.

Episodes 1-5: 39/100

Final note: the second episode included my sole favorite moment of the series, though it has nothing to do with Hung. Jane guested on famed comedy series Arrested Development as himself researching a role as a homeless man. At one point in AD he dramatically exclaims, “I just want my kids back,” while preparing to work on a model home. Early in episode two, Jane repeats this line exactly when Tanya petitions him to have sex with her contact. But, this time he is serious…

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Free Concert: Daryl Hall and John Oates, Seaside Concert Series

The greatest musical duo of all time, Hall & Oates, are playing for free on Thursday 7:30 at Asser Levy/Seaside Park in Coney Island. I am absolutely ecstatic!

The duo has been receiving the ironic nostalgia treatment for the past few years, but there is some genius to their discography. For my money, Abandoned Luncheonette is the best blue-eyed soul record of the 1970's and this may be the finest video:

Hall & Oates - She's Gone (video)

While it is fun to poke fun at the overwhelmingly 80's aesthetic, one cannot help but clap along and move. Perhaps more importantly, their music remains heartfelt despite its absurdity in hindsight. While other hits of the 80's convey messages of commercialism, partying, and sex, Hall and Oates try to touch on the relations of men and women outside of the bedroom (however bogus their attempts). Thus, instead of more songs about partying meant for the dancefloor, Hall and Oates gave us the most sugary and hand-clap heavy songs about troubled relationships.

Out of Touch (1984)

Private Eyes (1981)

Maneater (1982)

Outlining of Goals


Thank you for checking this out. Now that I have a smidgen of content I wish to state my intentions with this blog with a list of 'segments' you can come to expect each week:

At least one film review

One new video editing project

A top 10 or top 5 list of some sort. Usually albums.

If you want to see anything else or more of something, let me know. Thanks for tuning in!


Trailer Mayhem: The Real Reason to See Summer Movies

This summer's big box-office offerings have left a sour taste in my mouth... Watchmen did not live up to the mammoth expectations, Public Enemies could not find its focus, and HP 6 was flatter than middle America.

On the flipside, the crop of actually independent films (Warner Independent my foot!) hitting theaters has been pretty stunning. Reviews of Soul Power, Whatever Works, and Hunger to come.

But, this summer has not been without a reason to hit the multiplex: the trailers this year have been absolutely fabulous. Of course, none of the films are going to live up to their overwhelming hype, but we can get excited nonetheless.

First, a trailer that has been floating around for a while. Spike Jonze's adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are. While the studio fought with Jonze to make this more child oriented, this trailer seems to be directed towards twenty-somethings, unless children all of the sudden like The Arcade Fire.

Next, the latest Coen Brothers film: A Serious Man. More of an editing exercise than an advertisement.

Finally, the fanboy pants exploding Tron Legacy trailer. I guess I had forgetten how absurd the plot of the original film really is, but having new Daft Punk play over the final moments of the trailer and Jeff Bridges acting seriously in such a silly scene makes it all worthwhile.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Review of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009, Dir. David Yates)

This review is intended as a review of an adaptation, so I discuss plot in order to address the presentation of a familiar story. If you are not familiar with the story, you may not want to read this review.

When Albus Dumbledore died in 2005 it was a cultural event. Children all over the world were stunned and horrified. The Harry Potter series had entered a much darker realm that it had previously, a realm not common to children’s tales: long-form betrayal. But, that was the beauty of the seventh installment of JK Rowling’s acclaimed series: the reader was unsure of the circumstances of Dumbledore’s death and Snape’s allegiances. In essence, the sixth book of the series created unfathomable tension through Dumbledore’s death – a sentence in the novel – that only brought excitement for the final installment.

The adaptation of this novel, alternatively, achieves absolutely no dramatic tension whatsoever. Dumbledore’s death is almost laughable, particularly if you consider the irony that the shot of him falling from the tower directly mirrors that of Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman’s – Snape – role in Die Hard) falling from the Nakatomi Plaza building. But, more importantly, director David Yates disallows any belief of Snape as a villain by including a moment of him giving Harry the ‘shh’ sign before killing Dumbledore.

While this enormous moment certainly disappoints, the rest of the film also falls short. There seems to be simply not enough of anything to really engage the audience and all the plotlines of the film fall flat. First, the Horcruxes receive little to no treatment or buildup and the finale does nothing to indicate the horcruxes will be a major part of the coming two-part conclusion of the series. While many suggest the film remained too romantically centered, I found that they also underdid that piece of the film: the sixth book is full of puberty-related comedic relief and an excess of ‘snogging.’ The film, unfortunately, does not display the vibrantly hilarious butterbeer hookup culture at Hogwarts and, instead, leaves the viewer only with an idea that these characters now think about the other sex. All relationships that should be established by the end of the film are left entirely in limbo: Ron and Hermoine have not begun dating – their single romantic moment arrives when Ron calls her name instead of his girlfriend’s while recovering from a coma – and Harry and Ginny have kissed a single time and it did not lead to any solidification of their desire to be together, a desire that plays a pivotal role in Harry’s inner conflict at the outset of the seventh book.

While Yates previous venture into the HP series enticed viewers with an array of visually stunning magic fights, this film again falls flat in the realm of on-screen action. While the fifth film did not stray from the violence and excitement of the battle at the Ministry of Magic, this film did not include the fight at Hogwarts before and after Dumbledore’s death that could have easily injected some life into the picture. Instead, the only dueling present in this film is Harry and Draco briefly exchanging spells in a bathroom.

Simply put: this film is an absolute waste of time. Despite the rampant tension of the source material, the adaptation falls completely flat. Instead of setting up the series for an exciting conclusion, this installment felt unfinished yet does not leave the viewer craving a conclusion. But, if you do end up spending your $10+ to see this film, it is certainly a pleasure to see the fabulous Where the Wild Things Are trailer on the big screen.