Friday, September 28, 2012

Voting Republican: MFW

I'm not the biggest fan of President Obama. In fact, I wish someone had some balls in the Democratic Party and issued a Primary challenge against him (just to spice things up). That being said, unless you're raking in over six figures a year, you've got to be certifiable to vote for the alternative, Republican candidate: Mitt Romney. The dude is the corporate shill of all shills. His humanity is non-existent. He was programmed by Skynet's greedy sister company, Buynet, and is quite literally, the Terminator for crony capitalism.   
"Uncle Bob??"

So you can imagine my reaction when I log onto facebook and see non-millionaires I know, clicking Mitt Romney's "like" button. It looked something like this:

Get More:
For more from NextMovie: More videos | Trailers | Movie news | DVD & Blu-Ray

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Movie Review: The Master

Finally. Finally, the latest film from Paul Thomas Anderson is upon us. For those of you who don't know, I've been counting the days til this film was released for months now. PTA is arguably, the best director of his generation and after the masterpiece that was There Will Be Blood, expectations for his newest film were high to say the least.

Well The Master is an amazing film but I can't say that it doesn't disappoint. It does. But I think it does so on purpose. You'll see...

Hi! My Name Is ____
The film centers around a drunken WWII vet named Freddie Quell, (played marvelously by Joaquin Phoenix) who drifts through misadventure after misadventure until he stumbles across an enigmatic con-man/cult leader named Lancaster Dodd (played by the brilliant, Philip Seymour Hoffman). Dodd's religion, The Cause, is a dead ringer for Scientology, with it's grueling physical and mental exercises that purportedly, help alleviate the stings of past traumas. The promise of equilibrium, and the apparent familial bonds of Dodd's organization appeal to Freddie. The only problem is, he's bat shit crazy. Mental illness runs in his family, even before he became a PTSD candidate from his stint in the Navy and a violent drunk after returning to civilian life. Freddie is a slave to his primal urges, an impulsive bull in the hyper regimented China shop that Dodd has created with The Cause. Freddie longs to be loved and accepted, The Cause offers him these things but only after changing who he fundamentally is.

That's pretty much the plot of the movie. Freddie is basically an out of control maniac and Dodd is the ultimate manipulator. Watching the sparks fly in their scenes together is electrifying. What happens when the unstoppable force meets an immovable object? You get the jail cell scene. It's amazing to watch, especially on a giant screen. The Master was filmed in 70mm, the same as the old period epics from the 1960's, but instead of sweeping battle scenes and panoramic views, Anderson's film predominantly features people talking in rooms and intense closeups of it's actor's faces. This helps make the extremely powerful characters appear truly, larger than life.

Facebook timeline photo: fo sho'!
The film is beautiful to look at. It seems like Paul Thomas Anderson can do no wrong regarding the technical aspects of film making.  Every shot is gorgeous and engaging. Most of the film consists of just people talking indoors and never once did I feel bored. The way he places the camera, even in a living room, is almost always captivating. That being said, there are still TONS of visual treats for you cinematography fiends. Nearly all the Navy sequences at sea are breathtaking, along with Dodd's ship sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge at dawn, or Freddie racing motorcycles in the desert. These shots are more awe inspiring than all the 3D/CGI effects in the world.

Then there's the music. Holy fuck Johnny Greenwood's score is amazing. The sounds (some might call it music) he created in There Will Be Blood were not only menacing and foreboding (like John Williams work on Jaws, intense), they were so overpowering at times his score felt like another character itself. Well his work here in The Master is equally pleasing. This time his score has the opposite effect. Instead of knocking down your door and shoving the horrors of the American frontier in your face, his subtle, dreamlike compositions in The Master creep into your psyche and place the viewer into a foggy haze, much like Freddie Quell's character. It's amazing and truly haunting.

That's also how I felt after leaving the theater. I felt just as lost and haunted as poor Freddie. Anderson's film is intentionally vague. There are no great character archs or traditional climax of any sort. The characters interact on screen, and when they do it's amazing to behold, but then they just float away. The first shot of the film are waves breaking in the ocean. That's exactly what The Master is structured like. All in all it's a marvelous cluster fuck, just like Freddie Quell himself.

As the film's director, Anderson is Dodd, playing the role of master to his guinea pig Freddie/ the audience. I saw the The Master in 70mm projection at the Arclight Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, my senses were so overwhelmed by the ginormous visuals and sounds I was like Freddie during the "processing" scene, completely at the master's mercy. I can't wait to delve into this film again and build up my defenses. Maybe then I can piece together all the thing's PTA was hinting at, about id and ego, acceptance and dependency, fucking yin and yang. Til then, I say go see The Master on the biggest screen you can and marvel at top tier film making and Oscar worthy performances.

Monday, September 24, 2012

European Commercials FTW

Penelope Cruz and her smoking hot sister Monica star in this awesome European Nintendo commercial:

Why oh why won't we ever see awesome ads like this in America?? Hell I'd actually watch TV again if I knew I could see the Cruz sisters playing with each other on a regular basis (heeeey-oh!).

Cruz Sisters > Kardashians

Friday, September 21, 2012

FYF Fest 2012, Los Angeles.

There Will Be Dust
FYF is like a hipster wet dream. It's a smaller scale Coachella held annually at Los Angeles State Historic Park in Chinatown. The festival has grown in popularity over the years and now attempts to be an all encompassing music event/mecca for the different LA "underground" music scenes. Art school hipster types, indie rock dorks, electronic dance fiends and even punk/hardcore aficionados were all accounted for at this year's fest. Dr. Egon Spengler once warned in Ghostbusters that one should never, "cross the streams," but it seems like the promoters of FYF Fest (which literally stands for: Fuck Yeah Fest Fest) could care less.

This was my second FYF experience. I went in 2009 to watch The Dillinger Escape Plan, Converge and Torche all play on the smallest, most remote stage of the fest. I arrived late, saw "my" bands and bounced. Their performances were awesome but the festival didn't leave much of an impression. Well 2012's lineup once again featured Converge and the mighty Refused making a special pit stop in some other bands I actually don't hate/was curious to see.

Day 1:
 Girlfriend got off work a bit late. Unexpected carpool shenanigans. Parking was horrible and we ended up arriving later than expected.

I heard Hot Snakes finishing their set on the Hill St. Stage as we made out way to the entrance. Bummed I missed out. Caught the beginning of Sleigh Bells performing on the Main St. Stage to a huge crowd. Everyone seemed to love them...except me. I was bored to tears actually. We headed over to the Spring St. Stage to wait for Quicksand.

Some of you might recall I have a man crush on Walter Schreifels and how giddy I was over the Rival Schools reunion last year. Well, now he's back with his 90's post-hardcore band Quicksand and they fucking rocked. I'm familiar with Quicksand's music but never expected them to be so rad live. Of course, they've been broken up since the late 90's so, I never expected to see them period.

Headed over to the Main St. Stage and caught the end of M83 while waiting for Refused. I guess they have a big song on the radio these days but I never heard of them before. Way too synth for me. Not enough, um, balls I guess. Anywhoo, Refused came out and rocked my fucking world once again. Their reunion show in San Francisco was amazing. The crowd chanting, the rafters shaking, etc. This performance was something entirely though. The band played a shorter set but just ripped through every song. The festival was pretty huge and the diversity of the lineup meant there was a good number of people in attendance who didn't give two shits about Refused, so the band wasn't just preaching to the choir like in SF, they were hellbent on winning the entire festival over. Well, mission accomplished I'd say. Under the full moon, with the Downtown Los Angeles as their backdrop, Refused owned FYF 2012.

Day 2:
Girlfriend and I arrive on time and luckily, luck out with a sweet parking spot near the front entrance.

We wandered inside and catch the middle of Against Me!'s set on the Main St. Stage. I've never been a huge fan of this band but have to admit they totally won me over with their performance. A bunch of punks playing honest to goodness rock 'n' roll, Against Me! was like a breath of fresh air. I'd actually listen to the radio if I knew I'd hear stuff like that all the time. Also, the band's singer is transgendered and in the process of becoming a woman. Kudos for her. She's not quite there yet physically, I just hope her transformation doesn't effect that awesome punk rock howl/voice that's so integral to the band's sound.

Next, we scurried across the park to the see Lightning Bolt tear the Spring St. Stage to shreds. This band is literally insane. A duo that creates more noise and spastic bursts of energy than should be humanly possible. Much to my delight, the drummer is the star of the show, his kit is triggered and creates a bunch of distorted/electronic sounds. The dude also "sings," while wearing a kooky Mexican wrestler mask over his face with a built in headset microphone. His co-conspirator on bass absolutely shreds and would make Cliff Burton proud with the sheer amount of distorted awesomeness he creates. I heard good things about this band but was totally blown away.

Dinosaur Jr.
was next on the Main St. Stage. These guys are true rock legends. It pains me to admit that I barely got into them this year, knowing that so many bands I like are huge Dinosaur Jr. devotees. Anyways, I was overdosing on their music with Pandora leading up to FYF in anticipation. Thankfully, the band did not disappoint. Loud fuzzy guitars, over a snappy back beat and down home vocals that make me want to BBQ and smoke weed (too band I'm sXe eh?). As the sun was setting during their performance and the oppressive heat began to subside, everyone was just really stoked to watch their set.

Up next, was food! It was time to eat. We marched across the grounds and headed back toward the Spring St. Stage where many a food truck were located. The lines were long and the grub a bit pricey but I understand that's how these festival things work. Either way, the pastrami sandwich we got was damn delicious and well worth the wait so, I guess it all worked out nicely. We, almost nicely. See, Paul Banks (singer from Interpol) was doing his solo thing on the Spring St. Stage and the man bored me to tears. I was like, hey, Paul is in one of my favorite band's and now I can see/hear him while I order some much needed grub. Then I heard he and his backing band playing and thought, "I better swallow this sandwich whole, there's no time for chewing!" So yeah, Paul Banks, please don't quit your day job.

We browsed around some of the vendor booths and took in the sights, people watching, as we made our way across to the Hill St. Stage on the opposite end of the park. Converge was next and I needed to get a good spot. Here is where things get silly.

As some of you might remember, I just turned 27 years old in August. I've been going to concerts since I was 17. It's been a crazy decade of sweat filled mayhem. Mosh pits, stage dives, crowd surfing, dust storms, blood, bruises, busted glasses, I've seen it all. Well, I'm officially OLD now and Converge's performance at FYF 2012 confirms this.
Converge is easily one of my favorite bands around. Their popularity/legend has grown over the years, and with good reason, they're damn good. Anyways, they had quite a crowd at this year's FYF. We staked out a good spot near the right hand side of the stage to avoid the chaos/dust storm that was bound to happen once they started playing. Well I was right, shit got crazy during their performance and my girlfriend and I were pushed to the sidelines. However, even here from the relative safety of the outskirts, away from "the pit," people were still getting wild but mostly, just rude. There is a certain etiquette that exists in the underground metal/hardcore world. These obnoxious people slamming into us weren't regular Converge fans, these were random festival goers who were acting belligerent after spending a full day in the sun drinking and dancing to synth pop or whatever. Sooooo, I got a little annoyed that these hipster brats (or "tourists" in Fight Club speak) were enjoying the shit out of MY band Converge, while I stuck on the sidelines. I decided to stake my claim and ran down to the front of the stage and enjoy the end of their set like I did in the old days.

Well, I learned my lesson. The torn shirt, lost shoe, body aches from the many pile-on's and crowd surfers but most of all, the nasty sinus infection I endured the following week after eating/inhaling a mountain of dust, all helped reiterate what sadly, I already knew in the back of my mind. If you're over the age of 25, you have no business down in the front of a Converge show...unless you have a lot of sick days saved up at work.

Converge was actually amazing as always. So much passion and energy in their performance. I can't believe they played "Jane Doe" either! Oh yeah, and some dude found my shoe and returned it to me as I limped back toward my girlfriend's waiting arms after they finished playing. Needless to say, I was done after that. I wanted to stay and see American Nightmare and Turbonegro but alas, this old man ran out of fuel.

Overall, FYF 2012 was good times...sinus infection be damned.

This was how FYF 2012 went down. Hot hipster chicks, and goofy ass dudes. God I love the internet.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Movie Review: Samsara

Visually stunning. I can honestly say I've never seen anything like this film before. I went to the theater on a whim, after reading some good comments on a message board, and walked out with a brand new pair of eyes.

The word samsara is Sanskrit for "continuous flow" or "cycles." This documentary uses uncanny visuals to tell the wonderful/tragic story of human existence on Earth. Although there are no words spoken, Samsara says A LOT. Birth, death, poverty, opulence, nature, modernity, religion, technology, love, violence, this film uses brilliant and often times, shocking images to demonstrate the principals of samsara, the intertwining cycle of life.

I was lucky enough to see this film at the Arclight Cinerama Dome, projected in 70mm on a monstrous screen. I'd still recommend seeing this film at any theater if possible. It's a visual and dare I say, spiritual treat everyone should experience.

Friday, September 14, 2012

under-covers: The Pixies/Henry Lim and His String Quartet

Perhaps, one of the greatest guilty pleasures in my life: the perverse enjoyment I get listening to musicians covering other artist's songs. The weirder the cover, the better! It doesn't matter how awkward or horrible the quality (shitty cell phone video, I'm looking at you), I'm an absolute sucker for this stuff. Here's the latest installment of "under-covers."

The Pixies, one of the most influential and underrated rock bands of the past two decades. Like a lot of people my age, this is the song that first exposed me to the band thanks to the end credits of David Fincher's Fight Club. The song fit so perfectly with the film's theme/finale, I wondered if it was written specifically for the movie! I had no idea who The Pixies were but quickly fell in love with the tune. No wonder, I had grown up on bands like Weezer and Nirvana who worshiped The Pixies pretty hard. Anywaaaaaay, here's the song:

That's so rad. Kim's backing vocals are absolutely haunting. Also, DAT droning guitar wail.

Well here is the cover, from a diehard Pixies fan and a nifty string orchestra backing him up:

Dude's voice is no match for Frank's in terms of sheer insanity, but he sure don't sound bad either. That lovely young woman doing backup vocals is heavenly (audio & visual you dig?) and although I miss the drums, the string arrangement does a phenominal job of highlighting the song's melancholy undertones. So yeah, I love this cover. I still enjoy the original version more, only because it's just one of the coolest fucking songs ever written.

What's your take on this?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Batman & child w/ cancer @ Disneyland

Remember that amazing story from the summer where Ron Perlman appeared as Hellboy for a sick child from the Make-A-Wish foundation? Well, we got another one folks.

"a real hero and a real human beeeeing"
four-year old leukemia patient named Jayden wanted to meet Batman. Friends and family got involved and started raising a ruckus online and somehow word got back to Christian Bale (aka Patrick Bateman aka, The Dark Knight himself/Bruce Wayne). What does Bale do? He flies the young boy and his family out from Ohio to spend the day at Disneyland with the caped crusader.

How rad is that? I mean yeah he didn't dress up in the costume and I'm sure he didn't speak in the gargling nails-Batman voice all day (which would probably have been frowned upon since Disney owns Marvel and Batman is Warner/DC...) but he took the kid's entire family out to the Magic Kingdom and still managed to fulfill that little boy's wish at the same time.

That photo was taken inside Disney's uber exclusive Club 33, which has like a 14 year waiting list for new membership. Christian Bale FTW.

Read more about this uplifting story HERE.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Movie Review: Ruby Sparks

My boy Eli Sunday (aka Paul Dano) is back! He, along with his real life girlfriend Zoe Kazan star in this head scratching/morbidly moving comedy., Paul Dano, plays a frustrated young author who begins writing about a conjured up girl from his dreams to help alleviate his writer's block. One day, out of the blue, his fantasy love interest comes alive. Like flesh and blood, Pinocchio/no strings to hold me up, real. What follows is a madcap comedic romp, and utterly depressing/honest take on relationships.

lovers gonna love...
First, I must give major kudos to Zoe Kazan. Not only is she the lead actress/pretty face on the screen, but she also wrote the film's screenplay. The smooth dialogue and realistic take on the otherwise zany plot deserve some praise. Also, I've never seen her in anything before but her acting chops are strong, holding her own onscreen alongside veterans like Annete Bening and Antonio Banderas, and her chemistry with Dano is amazing. Of course that makes sense, they're a real life couple playing a fictional couple in a movie, who are basically a fictional couple seeing how one of them is a figment of the other's imagination...until she comes to life and they become a real, fictional couple. Forgive me, my head is still spinning.

So Ruby Sparks is an entertaining film. It's funny, well shot and beautiful to look at. However, it does have a bit of a dark side. Ruby Sparks spends half the film exploring the intoxicating high of young love, and the cool factor of being GOD (by way of type writer). However, the last half of the film gets pretty morbid in a big way. Dano's character, with his emotional and physiological issues, is both the film's protagonist and antagonist. Dependency, trust, and control issues are bound to arise in a relationship, especially when someone is secretly manipulating the other person's life. Ruby Sparks is cutesy and funny but is also serves as a dead serious examination of relationships and the perils of projecting  idealized expectations onto others. I walked out of the theater feeling like I had just watched 500 Days of Summer, and got kicked in the stomach.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Countdown to...The Master

It's officially September. You know what that means? It means there's only two weeks until The Master hits theaters (limited living in LA)!!!

Look at this tracking shot. It's so beautiful I'm literally salivating right now:

Again, I am beyond stoked for this release. Pretty sure it's going to be my film of the year in December.

I've watched the trailer so many times this past month I've fallen head over heels for this Joan Stafford song from the film's soundtrack. Enjoy: