Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Vampire Diaries: I Know What You Did Last Summer season 5 episode 1

The Vampire Diaries: season 5, episode 1: I Know What You Did Last Summer

Unpacking a season premier can be a daunting task for any drama, especially when it is a drama that moves at the breakneck pace of The Vampire Diaries.  I could take up an entire post just listing the things I forgot happened over the titular summer.  (most embarrassingly I completely forgot that Katherine was the one who got the cure in the end and what I spent last summer believing it was Damon).   Never before has the "previously on" been more important in helping us remember just what the hell is going on here, so a rundown after the jump.

Awful, uplifting EDM

It's Tuesday so all sorts of new music comes out and I had the distinct misfortune of hearing "Stay The Night" the new song by musical terrorists Zedd featuring the reliably tone-deaf Haley Williams of the imitation Avril Lavigne band Paramore.  I hope that this terrible moment in music history has now reached it's nadir and we can give the top 40 back to pop, rock and R&B and return EDM to clubs and festivals where it belongs and give the inspirational, uplifting bullshit back to whatever adult contemporary charts it crawled out from under.   If you think I'm being hyperbolic about how bad this is try and make it all the way through this video:

I know, right?  It's like when two awful things come together to make something more wretched than the sum of their terrible parts.  But is it really the worst of the worst?  check out my rankings below of the most ubiquitous inspirational EDM songs of the moment.  

5) 'Safe and Sound' by Capital Cities  -  This one barely qualifies to be honest, it is actually a really fun song and had it come out any other year I probably wouldn't mind it one big.  But unfortunately we're sometimes judged by the company we keep so taken within the context of everything else out there right now I gotta fault them a little. 

4)  'Wake Me Up' by Avicci -   This one is fraustrating because I think it would actually work just fine as blues song without all the dance crap mucking it up.  The vocals Aloe Blacc are really good, despite the middle school diary poetry of the lyrics and the guitar part by Mike Einziger of Incubus is really strong.  The electronic production by Avicci does nothing by take away from what could have been a great accustic song.

3)  'Stay the Night' by Zedd - Now we are in the real dregs, I honestly just can't even bring myself to listen to it again to pick out specific things to complain about. 

2)  ' Don't You Worry Child' by Swedish House Mafia featuring John Martin -  I mean wow the nauseating delivery of such moronic lyrics are just baffling to me.  Who exactly is this crap appealing to?  If I want to listen to uplifting garbage about heaven I can tune to a Christian rock station and find a less irritating version of this.  And if I want to dance I certainly don't want to do so to a song about tearful father/son discussions.

1)  'Clarity' by Zedd featuring Foxes  - This song is worse than nails on a chalkboard and the lyrics make me wish I never learned to read.  The delivery of the vocals is so whiny and grating, the production on the rest of the song so very thin and lacking.  I think I would lose a litter respect for anybody that admitted to actually liking this audial abomination. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Gravity is a stunning achievement

      Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, is breathtakingly beautiful and nail bitingly suspenseful at the same time.   Cuarón has probably made the most effective use of 3D effects to date to tell a story that is at once both simple and profound.   Astraunts out on a fairly routine space walk to install some software in a telescope encounter trouble when an old satellite being demolished sends debris hurling towards them at devastating speeds.   Stranded and running out of fuel and oxygen the stories becomes a triumph of (wo)man over nature in the vast, uninhabitable nothingness of space.
       The special effects are front and center with jaw dropping sequences of astronauts spinning and floating into the endless blackness of space.  What sets the effects apart from other films is that instead of using the 3D for cheaper pop-out shock moments the effects here are used to grant a depth to everything that is happening.  You can stare deep into space, see the earth below or tiny light offering a beacon of hope in the distance.  There are a few instances of things jumping out at you, but they are used sparingly and thus more effectively that say the endless onslaught of weapons jumping out in lesser films like the more recent Resident Evil sequels.

      Aside from the impressive effects Gravity also boasts some of the best assets a film can have: a proper film director and two proper MOVIE STARS in the full sense of the word.  Cuarón is not the most prolific filmmaker but all of his work is incredibly solid.  From the sexy character piece Y Tu Mamá También to action fare like Children of Men or Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (far and away the best film in the series) all of Cuarón's efforts have a confidence and effortlessness to them that sets them apart.  His directing prowess is match by two of the last remaining legitimate film stars in the world.  Sandra Bullocks gives an excellent performance that in lesser years would guaranty her awards, but this year is a tight race and being obscured by a helmet for most of the film can make it an uphill battle.  Clooney can be overpraised and overvalued but in the right roles, like here, he still has a charm and a strength of screen presence that few can match.  There is no question about it though, this is Sandra's film to carry and she delivers.

      A simple store, great film making and strong performances all work to support one of the most impressive technical feats in recent memory.  I usually think paying more for IMAX or 3D is a bit of a waste but Gravity is the rare movie that demands to be experienced to it's fullest, while it is still in theaters be sure to research and go see it at the biggest or best screen in your area this is a rare time where it is toally worth it.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Nobody Doesn't Like Katy Perry


      Katy Perry covers the new issue of  billboard magazine (sidebar, non-capitalized titles are so awkward it's like billboard thinks it is the e.e. cummings or bell hooks of music publications) as well she should since she has now tied Rihanna  as the artist with the most #1 pop songs tally thanks to the success of her new hit 'Roar'.  And in that once sentence I pretty much summed up most of what is wrong with the music industry.  Not that Katy Perry doesn't deserve to be hugely successful; of course she does, she makes very enjoyable pop music that all good natured people enjoy listening to in their cars.   But my issue with it is the simple fact that somehow a "pop songs tally" even exists and even more baffling that Rihanna and Katy Perry have now tied for the most number ones on it.   I guess the fact that Mariah Carey release a 17 track album of all number one hits, creatively titled 'Number 1's', in 1998 means nothing.  Nor the fact that Elvis freaking Presley has had 30 number one hits.  It is a reflection of the poor state of the music industry that they must invent new charts and recalculate the old ones to create the illusion that Katy, Rihanna even Queen Bey herself come close to the global domination of somebody like Madonna.

     Have you ever tried to research and find out how many copies of an album an artist as sold?  It is nearly impossible, countries are listed differently, digital sales separately the definition of platinum changes over time and location.  The only fact we can take away from this is that Katy Perry's music is currently more popular that most people and I'm pretty OK with that.  At the end of the day Katy Perry manages to make music that is likable without the need for many objections of qualifications.  I loved Gaga for a long time, but lately I find myself unable to say so without an explanation.  Britney still pumps out some of the best pop music in the industry but it is hard to fully embrace a sexy pop-star who can't own a smart phone or sign her own checks.  With Katy Perry you never get the sense that somebody else is pulling all the strings like with Britney or Rihanna and she never went though a jailbait phase either.  She was a grown-ass woman with some moxy and the sort of not-great voice that anybody can sing along with.  She makes music with major mass appeal, sometimes that can mean it is a bit generic but there is still just enough sense of whimsy to set it apart from the crowd.  I can understand Katy Perry not being your thing, but anybody who straight up says they hate her is going to be met with the same side-eye Chandler Big gets for not liking dogs. 

    If you want to read more, especially her gushing about her douche-tastic boyfriend John Mayer head over to billboard to read it.   And also, be sure to jump down to the comments section there to read some hilarious debating about who the true queen of pop is. (Hint, it's always Madonna). 


Monday, September 9, 2013

Wrecking Ball, indeed

Now that some of the noise surrounding her "controversial" (read: crappy) performance at the VMA's has died down a bit Miley Cyrus is out to shock us again.  She just released her new Terry Richardson (gag) directed video for 'Wrecking Ball'.  The video is unfortunately so desperate to provoke that it doesn't really seem to have anything to say.  And that's too bad because this is one of her better songs and definitely the first I've ever heard from her that completely disguises her vocal failings.  As catching as 'Party in the USA' and 'We Can't Stop' are they are noticeably lacking in the vocal department, whereas 'Wrecking Ball" actually works with the voice she has.  (Which makes sense as it was actually written for her and not something Jessie J or Rhianna turned down like 'Party' and 'Can't Stop', respectively).

I have never been a fan of Miley Cyrus. It generally bothered me how bratty and uncouth she seemed in comparison to contemporaries like Selena Gomez or her predecessors like Britney before ALL THE EVIL happened.  Then, last year, I found myself inexplicably liking her when she wasn't really doing anything but being young, rich, famous and going on vacations with her hot ass boyfriend and his big brother Thor.  It was a great counterpoint to all the 'woe is me' whining of people like Kristen Stewart who act as if having millions of dollars and millions of fans is a burden.  She really seemed to be enjoying what she was blessed with and I was actually happy for her, it seemed like she had actually found an escape route from the former child star curses.   And then she started twerking, and leaking tracks and it all seemed to be filled with so much TRY.

So, here is her video directed by a pervert that starts off as a nice modern update of Sinead's classic 'Nothing Compares 2U'  (you guys, Prince was using text speak before texting...he is a witch!) and degenerates into a softcore porn update of Apple's classic "Smashing shit with a hammer in a white tank top" commercial.   I'm not offended by nudity or sexy videos, I'm a pretty big fan of both when there is some rhyme or reason behind it.  In this case it is pretty clear we're just supposed to be shocked that yet another former Disney starlet is sexing up her imagine and it all just feels a little played out.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

No Equality for Batwoman


Batwoman, alter ego Kate Kane, has never been my homegirl, in fact I don't think I've ever read a single issue of any title in which she made an appearance.  I love Catwoman and always like a hot uppity bitch like Enchantress from Thor or Phoenix when she's not bogged down in Jean Grey's whining, but Batwoman just never hit my radar. But, she is a hot ginger, socialite, crimefighter and a big ole lez and so when push comes to shove I'm pretty sure I'm firmly planted on team Batwoman.  And now Batwoman's creative team, writers  J.H. Williams III and W Haden Blackman (sidebar, damn those are some fancy ass names), have announced they are leaving the title because of eleventh hour editorial decisions forced on them by DC.  Editorial decisions and creative differences can mean a myriad of things, but in this case one issue jumps out in front of the others, see if you can spot it in this quote from William's and Blackman's joint statement.

"in recent months, DC has asked us to alter or completely discard many long-standing storylines in ways that we feel compromise the character and the series. We were told to ditch plans for Killer Croc’s origins; forced to drastically alter the original ending of our current arc, which would have defined Batwoman’s heroic future in bold new ways; and, most crushingly, prohibited from ever showing Kate and Maggie actually getting married. All of these editorial decisions came at the last minute, and always after a year or more of planning and plotting on our end."
Refusing to let Kate and her girlfriend Maggie marry in the year 2013 seems outrageous as more and more states have shown their support for marriage equality.  It suggest that either DC is homophobic or fears that the majority of its readership is and honestly I'm not sure which is worse.  Comics have long since been a favored medium of the disenfranchised, the ridiculed, the rejects; we call comic fans nerds and geeks and depict them as slovenly Simpsons characters.  Young people on the fringe are drawn to the medium because it depicts worlds where anything is possible, where intelligence is valued and where doing what's right defines whether or not a person is a hero or a villain.  Because of this a lot of GLBT people feel an affinity for comics and showing such blatant discrimination towards their community is only going to come back and bite DC in the ass.  DC has been loosing ground to Marvel for years, other than Christopher Nolan's outstanding Batman trilogy none of their films have come close to the success Marvel has had.  Yet still Marvel allowed sometime X-man Northstar to wed his same-sex partner over a year ago.  If DC has any hope of catching up with Marvel they need to first catch up with the majority of the country and approve same sex marriage. Just let Kate and Maggie get married, what's the worst that could happen?  Besides, this is still the world of comics and we all know anytime anybody is happily married their spouse is just going to be killed by a super villain anyways.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pretty Little Liars and Hot in Cleveland

So last night my episode of Hot in Cleveland aired and it is pretty funny. You can watch it online here on hulu. I show about about 3 minutes into it. I just remember what a fun day that was!!!

And Monday was the return of Pretty Little Liars, one of my favorite shows that I was thrilled to be on the season premier of. I am shown for just a second in the beginning. Watch the episode here. Well, actually don't watch it if you've never seen the show because it is seriously good and jumping in at the start of season 2 would be a huge mistake go buy or rent season 1 on DVD hahaha.