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.