Archive for May, 2010

Quick thoughts on some music

THE DEAD WEATHER – SEA OF COWARDS

Sea of Cowards is the second album from The Dead Weather, and it has come not even a year after their first, Horehound.

My initial impression is pretty much, that if you like Horehound, you’ll probably like Sea of Cowards. It’s a similar record; it’s dirty, nasty sounding, bluesy rock and roll.

The dynamic between Jack White and Alison Mosshart is better this time around, with more songs showing their good vocal interplay. They’re switch between lead and harmony more often now, and both sing on the same songs more often it seems.

Musically it’s still a lot of grimy, fuzzy guitar and bass, but they’ve added some more organ and even a little synth. The third song The Difference Between Us sounds like some sort of weird 60’s/70’s ish sci fi shenanigans. So there’s a little bit more variety.

After a listen and a half, hardly enough time to really absorb the whole thing, I have to say I think it’s a pretty good album, at least on par with Horehound. Jack White and co. continue their winning streak.

A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS – EXPLODING HEAD

A Place to Bury Strangers has a sort of dark atmospheric, shoegaze meets industrial, meets some gothic shenanigans feel; with sounds that kinda sound like they’re from the late 80’s.

I’ve listened to this album a couple of times through while doing work, and I think that if you’re into the sort of sonic textures that they’re going for, it’s a pretty nifty listen. Dissonance and white noise as music, with deep echoing drums and crunchy bass, it’s not for everyone, but I like it.

It’s obvious that they’re kinda a pastiche of influences, but they play well enough, and hold the attention well enough, so I’m not gonna criticize them for that. I’ve not got a huge knowledge of their musical forefathers, so I can’t really compare.Still they’re loud, and somewhat oppressive, and that’s cool.

Exploding Head as an album has better production than their first, self titled album, A Place to Bury Strangers. It makes them sound a little bit less raw, but it’s a not really a bad thing, it just gives both their albums a different feel. Both are worth giving a listen if you’re into shoegaze or noise.

JAPANDROIDS – ART CZARS

I know I’ve mentioned this single before, but I’ve been listening to it pretty frequently as of recent. It’s a great one-two punch of songs. The first, Art Czars is pretty much awesome. It’s probably the angriest song that Japandroids have actually put out so far, and probably the one that most makes you want to shout with their music.

The second song is a cover of Big Black’s song Racer X. Also awesome, I honestly think it’s better than the original recording. The riff hits harder, the song is more concise, and the brevity helps. It’s a badass rock song about the world of Speed Racer, it’s pretty sweet.

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Vanilla Ice is COOL AS ICE

Netflix Instant watch is easily the best thing to happen to movies since movies happened to movies.

You can vedge out in front of your TV and watch all sorts of films of varying quality. AS MANY AS YOU WANT!!!

They’ve got tons of Critertion Collection films, classic like M, Walkabout, and The Seventh Seal. There’s also plenty of Troma films if that’s your bag. It’s great, because they’ve frequently got films available to watch that never came out on DVD and are loooooong out of print.

You can sometimes find some great movies on instant watch that aren’t available anywhere else these days. I got to see the “Jeff Goldblum as the devil” film, Mr. Frost, for instance. That movie has been out of print since the VHS days.

Other times you can find movies that have been rightfully out of print since the VHS days. Like the 1991 Vanilla Ice vehichle Cool as Ice.

The movie is about Vanilla Ice riding into some small town with some friends on a motorcycle and his attempts to pick up this girl. He goes about it in the most retarded way imaginable. He’s just riding along and sees her riding a horse, so he magically jumps his motorcycle over a fence, and then almost kills her before attempting to hit on her.

So yeah, she’s understandably pissed after that. I mean I would be too, if someone made me fall off a horse.

That’s one half of the movie, the other half is weirdly reminiscent of A History of Violence. See the girl’s father is none other than everyone’s favorite Graboid hunter from the Tremors movies, Michael Gross. He used to be a cop or something and after some troubles, he and his wife went into hiding, but they were spotted on TV by former associates, who show up in their new small town life with threats and violence.

The two plots are just polar opposites, it’s like they just kinda took two unfinished scripts, mashed them together and added some Vanilla Ice. He spends half the movie riding around on a motorcycle and hanging out anyway.

He also spends most of the movie wearing an incredibly silly jacket. It’s just covered in random phrases like YEP YEP, DANGER, DOWN BY LAW, HYPE, ICE, and various other things. It’s the sort of fashion that nobody outside of 1991 would find remotely cool, much like everything about Ice in this movie. Cause no matter how cool he is trying to be, most of the time, he’s wearing really silly pants too. Not to mention his half shaved eyebrow, and silly hair cut.

Eventually the guys threatening the chick’s dad kidnap her little brother and threaten to end him, and so Vanilla Ice and his posse have to save the kid. It’s almost impressive, the efficiency at which they manage to do so.

So the movie ends with Vanilla Ice getting the girl, saving the day, and then some rapping.

Honestly the movie isn’t as bad as you’d expect, it’s no worse than most ‘musician makes a movie’ projects. And it’s kinda cliched at this point to dis the movie if you will, just based on Vanilla Ice. The movie’s 19 years old, if you still think it’s terrible just cause of the silly shit Ice does, then you’ve missed the whole point of watching it anymore. The movie is a time capsule, a warning to future generations, THIS SHIT WAS  COOL IN 1991, DON’T LET IT HAPPEN AGAIN. Those who don’t pay attention to history are doomed to repeat it.

Sure Ice isn’t the best actor, the plot is dumb, and the love story unbelievable, but considering the plethora of terrible cinema out there, I feel that this movie gets a bad rap. (PUN INTENDED). It’s currently #77 on the imdb.com bottom 100, and it doesn’t belong there. There are so many other shitpiles of filmaking that are worse than this. So many.

People just be hatin’ on Cool as Ice.

Honestly I enjoyed the movie, cause as un-good as most of it is, a lot of it is absurd and amusing. There’s also only like three rap numbers in the whole movie, so the amount of listening to Vanilla Ice actually rapping is less than you’d expect.

Cool as Ice, I absolve you of your sins.

You’re not as bad as you’re rep would suggest, and you’re even fun in a strange sort of way.

And with that I leave you with this, these words of wisdom, these immortal, magical lines from the film.

OK, actually I just remembered the tagline of the movie.

When a girl has a heart of stone there’s only one way to melt it.

Just Add Ice

Ok I admit it, that’s a pretty terrible tagline, it doesn’t make much sense.

For one you’re not gonna melt anything with Ice, and also since when is anyone refereed to as having a heart of stone?

But the tagline sucks in an awesomely bad sort of way, it’s just part of the charm.

Birdemic: Shock and Terror

Birdemic: Shock and Terror is the crowning achievement in human failure.

Them’s just the facts. I am assuredly not alone in this opinion, but perhaps it requires some qualification, that you might better understand why I would make such a strong assertion right out the gate. You might think I’m being hyperbolic. You may even still believe there is good left in the hearts of men. If this is the case, let me assure you: you are mistaken.

If you’ve read some of the other movie reviews that Jon’s posted on this site, you may be tempted to lump in Birdemic with some of the other “terrible movies”. What you have to understand, though, is that Birdemic is not like any of those movies. The Human Centipede is a terrible movie because you don’t want to be seeing something so depraved and unnatural. Taxidermia could be called terrible because it’s so damn uncomfortable and disgusting. As I understand it, Singapore Sling is somewhere between the other two.

But these pale in comparison to Birdemic. Everything is wrong with Birdemic, and Birdemic is what’s wrong with everything else once you’ve watched it. The acting is atrocious, the plot is a sham, audio editing is apparently a foreign concept to the crew, the audience is patronizingly hit over the head with the movie’s message…the list goes on. Before we proceed, I need you to watch the trailer. I’ll wait.

Birdemic Trailer

The general reaction is either speechlessness or uncontrollable laughter. It’s obvious that this cannot be a good movie. The birds appear to be animated GIFs, for chrissakes. Just Googling “Birdemic” brings up page after page denouncing the movie as the cinematic antichrist. You have to really be trying to make a movie this bad. But with all the hype and an awesome/terrible theme song like that [SPOILERS: Not in the movie at all. I WAS SO UPSET!], how could I not watch it? Clearly, this was something I needed to put into my eyeballs.

Oh, the hubris of youth!

As you might have guessed from the trailer, the first part is boring as fuck. The opening credits roll over a monotonous car-driving scene reminiscent of the opening scenes of Rock and Roll Nightmare or Manos: The Hands of Fate, and things only get worse from there. You see, director James Nguyen, self-proclaimed “Master of the Romantic Thriller”, apparently decided that having an interesting blend of two genres (as is usually done in romantic comedies, dramadies, dramatic thrillers, etc.) was for pussies. So he did things his way. He filmed two different movies, one a (terrible) romance and one a (terrible) thriller, and jarringly stitched the two together into a single abomination. The leading half establishes the main characters, Rod and Nathalie, and goes through the boring slice-of-life relationship-building bullshit that any romantic movie goes through. This would be bad enough by itself, but wait, there’s more! Since you’re too bored to focus on things like plot or character details (both are sparse), you get to focus even more intensely on how patently abhorrent the acting is.

You start hating Rod immediately, and get the impression that Alan Bagh, the actor portraying him, may actually be mentally handicapped. All of his lines are delivered as though remembering them and speaking them at the same time requires the use off all of his cognitive functions, leaving no neurons free to control his facial expressions, his voice modulation, or, presumably, his bowels. The choice of this actor alone makes it clear that Nguyen’s intent was to make the worst movie possible.

Nathalie’s actress, Whitney Moore, fares only marginally better. She at least doesn’t seem to be in danger of choking on her own tongue, but her facial expressions and speech are so painfully forced that any shot with her in it instantly becomes awkward. She’s not bad to look at, though, so it comes as no surprise that IMDB lists a “sex comedy” student video as the only other movie she’s ever been in. Presumably porn is the next step. I’m sure your mother’s very proud, Ms. Moore, but if I were in her position, I’d be more angry that you costarred in the worst movie ever made.

The “plot” plods on, subjecting us to scene after scene of uninteresting, poorly portrayed, and poorly filmed drivel. It’s often difficult, if not impossible, to tell what’s being said purely due to the background noise in the audio recording for the scene. Some vague hints at the impending disaster to come are dropped here and there, but the main focus is on who’s dating who and how great Rod is. If you didn’t have the promise of the “thriller” section to hang on to, it would be all too easy to give up and stop watching. But soldiering on through the initial crap, including some heavy-handed “save the environment” propaganda, grants you an implied sex scene and access to the movie you paid would never pay to see.

I’ll admit that I somewhat enjoyed the movie once it reached this point. When the birds first attacked, I laughed ’til I cried. More than anything, though, I loved hating this movie. Nothing anyone does makes any sense. In one scene, the group’s driving away from killer birds, but they have to stop to pick up food and water so they can survive life on the run. In the very next scene, they stop to have a picnic. They’re promptly joined by a convenient scientist to tell them, in completely unsubtle terms, that man is the real monster.  The entire movie is an excuse to shove environmentalist propaganda down your throat, and it does so in the most stupid and inane ways possible. By the end, I was so full of pure loathing for this movie that I wanted to vomit just to feel like I’d purged its toxic influence on me.

I really don’t want to ruin relive the rest of the movie, so if you’re still curious for some reason you’ll have to watch it yourself. I will leave you with one more little morsel, however. It’s a little picture I like to call “The Rise and Fall of Being Excited About Birdemic”. Enjoy.

No, you may not friend me on Facebook.

MacGruber is pretty awesome

Ok so I’m not much of a fan of SNL. Any time I’ve tried watching the show in the last decade or so, I’ve been met with a horror like experience of anti-laughter.

I do love The Lonely Island, and I love what they’ve brought to the show, with the advent of digital shorts, and new videos, there’s certainly been an improvement.

I have enjoyed more SNL movies than most people though. I think Superstar is pretty funny, love Night at The Roxbury, and enjoy both Wayne’s World movies. Everyone has different tastes in comedy, I try not to judge people based on theirs, cause mine is kinda strange.

As for MacGruber I went in with mild expectations. I don’t really care for Will Forte all that much, I hadn’t seen anything regarding the character except those Pepsi commercials, but the trailer looked amusing enough. It’s got Val Kilmer as the bad guy, so that’s awesome, Powers Boothe as a general, also awesome, and Ryan Phillippe, who doesn’t seem to have aged since Way of The Gun, also awesome. So I felt confident enough about various elements of the movie that I was willing to spend 10 bucks to see it.

I can’t say I was disappointed.

MacGruber plays like a 1980’s action film with a comedy bent. It’s also wildly hilarious at times.

The movie wisely keeps MacGruber a consistent character, he starts the movie as a spaz, and pretty much ends the movie as a spaz, even though he saves the day, they don’t bother throwing in any lessons, morals, or sappy character moments. He’s an ex military superstar who gets sucked back in for one more mission when Val Kilmer steals a nuke and threatens to blow up Washington DC.

The plot is pretty straightforward and progresses about the same as your average 80’s action move. There’s even an “Assembling The Team” montage that ends with a pretty awesome moment. There’s shooting, there’s explosions, and there’s an amazing soundtrack full of soft rock songs.

The movie progresses along with Will Forte muggin, and acting ridiculous. There’s a few sequences that have Kristen Wiig dressed up in disguises that are pretty great. She pulls of wearing a beard mustache combo quite well actually.

There’s some great gross out gags, lots of swearing, and probably the best comedy sex scene ever. It’s an amazing joke so great they use it twice in a row. It’s amazing both times.

There’s even some good ole fashioned violence. MacGruber enjoys ripping out people’s throats in comedic ways, it’s satisfying in a funny horrible way. Cause he enjoys doing it just as much as the audience enjoys seeing it.

As you can see from that, some of the movie skews to the darker side of comedy. There’s a joke about why Val Kilmer’s character Dieter Von Cunth hates MacGruber that is so dark it even kinda clashes with some of the more lighthearted darkness of the rest of the movie. It’s funny, but I was all like “DAMN.”

Sure Macgruber is a little rough around the edges, not all the jokes hit, but a lot more do than don’t. It’s not one of the best comedies of all time or anything, but I can easily see myself watching it again with a bunch of friends in the future.

It’s easily one of the better comedies of 2010.

It’s a gross, profane, hilarious movie that acts as a great send up of the classic 80’s action movies that we all cherish, and it works.

I’m glad I spent 10 bucks to see it.

A Challenger Approaches!

Good tidings, Internet!

Lads: If you ever thought to yourself or others, “Man, I sure wish that Jon guy would ask his eloquent insomniac friend to write EVEN MORE content for my most favorite online inter-blog,” then you’re in luck!

Ladies: If you ever thought to yourself or others, “Man, I sure wish that Jon guy would ask his handsome and eloquent insomniac friend to write EVEN MORE content for my most favorite online inter-blog,” then…well, at least you’re still partly in luck.

That’s right! The dream you never dreamed to dream has finally come true. I’ve been invited aboard to provide supplementary material for our tiny S-bend in the series of tubes. My contributions will probably be based on movies, music, vidjagames, and philosophy. Yes, philosophy. I think too much, and you should, too. I promise to make it accessible, though. I know firsthand just how dry over-technical philosophical musings can be, and I’m here to have fun writing about what I love.

My updates will be merciless and may come without warning. I hope anyone who stumbles upon them gleans some modicum of enjoyment from them.

Well, I suppose that’s it for now. I have to be awake again in five hours, so I’ll take my leave. Be on the lookout for more from me in the coming days, including but maybe not limited to my review of the mind-poison that is BIRDEMIC: SHOCK AND TERROR!

The Human Centipede

The Human Centipede

Is a movie.

That will fuck you up.

You could stop reading now really. That might be all you need to know. If you don’t like you’re movies painful stop now. If you like happiness anywhere in your life, stop now.

Ok so you’re still a little curious? Yeah, it’s understandable, You’ve seen all sorts of crazy movies. You saw Martyrs, and while draining on an emotional and almost a physical level, you survived. You’ve seen Ichi The Killer, and even laughed at parts. You appreciate Taxidermia for the social commentary, and you even think that Cannibal Holocaust might be a masterpiece.

Cause really only the sort of person who’s seen those sorts of films can even say they’re remotely prepared for The Human Centipede.

It’s a horror movie from Europe with the tagline 100% Medically Accurate.

If that doesn’t tell you if you’re the sort of person who should watch this, then I don’t know what would.

The Human Centipede is the story of a deranged German Doctor. He surgically attaches three innocent people together.

In a line.

Ass To Mouth.

Think about it.

His goal is to form a three person digestive track, with food going into the mouth of the first person, and coming out the anus of the third.

Think about it.

He cuts the tendons in their knees so that the have to crawl together, so that the three people have to move as one.

It might be the most horrible thing I’ve seen on film in years.

It is pure human suffering, body horror at its most deranged and grotesque. It is disturbing.

I’ve said that there are two types of movies. Those that entertain, and those that punish.

The Human Centipede is in the later category. It is made to hurt you as a viewer.

It’s an understanding that you need to have before even considering the film. If that’s something you can’t accept as a concept, then of course you shouldn’t watch it.

Sometimes we watch bad things happen to good people, because there’s suspense, thrills, and excitement. We watch Hostel because we know that it’s about some people who go to Europe, and end up getting tortured. Sure it’s horrible, but we know that they’ll escape by the end, and someone will probably get their just rewards. It’s grotesque, but it still aims to entertain, by giving the audience what they want to see.

But The Human Centipede is the sort of movie that knows the difference between what you think you want to see, and what you really want to see. Funny Games is pretty much a whole movie about that difference. You think you want to see a gross movie about an evil doctor who performs a really fucked up surgery on some people.

The thing is, the entertainment part of the movie never happens. The plot is threadbare to say the least. Two girls are in Europe, they get a flat tire, wind up at the house of Crazy German Doctor, bad stuff proceeds to happen.

The surgery itself is handled with much more restraint than you’d expect. Its pretty much a genius move of the part of the filmmakers to handle it the way they do, because by denying the viewer a sort of gory, surgical centerpiece, all they have to latch of too is the atrocities in the later portions of the film. There’s nothing to counterbalance their discomfort, and nothing to lessen the impact of what happens.

It’s just as things get worse and worse, there’s no release for you as a viewer. Because these people are in a situation where death is a preferable to their continued existence.

It’s a tragedy plain and simple.

Once you as a viewer realize that there’s no hope, the movie just gets worse. Never does catharsis occur.

Until the end credits roll.

Leaving you drained and damaged as person, wondering why you would put yourself through anything like watching what you just saw,  and wishing you could un-see it.

And sometimes that’s the whole point of a movie.

The Human Centipede is a horrible, brilliant film.

Skittles Vodka

So one day I was telling my friend Jay about the Bacon Beer that they made over at Grocery Eats, and he told me that he’d seen Skittles flavored vodka on the internet.

I said: “That’s an amazing idea!”

So the day before Cinco de Mayo, I gathered up the supplies and decided to spend some time making an amazing drink.

This is how you make skittles Vodka:

What You Need: 1lb bag of skittles, Vodka (at least 30 ounces minimum), coffee filters, bottles for mixing, some funnels, and more bottles for the finished drink.

Step 1: Separate the different flavors of skittles.

You’re going to need roughly 10 skittles for every ounce of Vodka. I used around sixty skittles and six ounces of vodka per mixing bottle.

There’s going to be some extra, I added a few extra skittles to each bottle and used the remaining pieces in an extra bottle and made a mix of all the flavors.

Step 2: Put separated and counted skittles in mixing bottles. You’re going to need one bottle for each of the five flavors

I just used normal plastic water bottles for this. I got a 12 pack at WalMart for like 2 bucks, and had enough bottles for the entire project.

Step 3: Use a funnel to pour six ounces of Vodka into each mixing bottle, seal, and shake well.

There’s a bit of emphasis on the shaking. It’s what is going to help the vodka dissolve the skittles. Shake each bottle well, then come back later and shake it some more, then do the same even later.

I let mine sit overnight, and then did some more shaking in the morning. The longer you give the Skittles to dissolve the better your results shall be.

Step 4: Grab your remaining, unused bottles, a funnel, and some coffee filters.

In this step we’re going to filter out all the remaining Skittle particulates. Because even though the Skittles are mostly dissolved, the currently liquid is a little on the chunky side, with various sugary pieces throughout. Not exactly the best consistency.

Place your funnel in an empty bottle, and then place a coffee filter in the funnel. Slowly pour the drink out of the mixing bottle, into the filter, and let it filter through.

I used two coffee filters at a time, to ensure that the skittle particles didn’t end up in the final mix, thought the number of filters you’ll need is dependent on the type of filter you use.

The process isn’t very fast, and you need to repeat it for every flavor. But this is the step that will get you a nice quality drink consistency.

I’d recommend washing your funnel after every flavor, to avoid flavor contamination.

That’s essentially all there is too it.

Once you finish thing get awesome.

Cause it’s drinkin’ time.

STEP 5: Chill.

I feel that the drink is best served in the form of a freezer chilled shot. That way you can have all five flavors.

The shots themselves come on sweet, then kick you with the vodka burn, but finish with Skittles sweetness.

The liquid itself is a little bit syrupy. Each flavor has varying degrees of strength, Lemon being the strongest, and Green being probably the best tasting

I hear if you mix them with Sprite, or a club soda they’re pretty good.

I can heartily say that making some skittles of your own is a great idea. It’s fun, colorful, and bound to be popular at any party you’d go to.