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The xx PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Jeff   
Sunday, 15 August 2010 12:12

I recently stumbled upon a musical treasure. I have not been grabbed by a band like this in many years. The xx has been molesting my ears for a solid week now, and I'm enjoying every minute of it. The xx is from London, England and is made up of 19 & 20 year olds, which means I should hate them, but they've disarmed me with their music. They have a somewhat simple sound, but at the same time they are very unique. The vocals of Oliver Sim & Romy Madley Croft and the beats of Jamie Smith are purely hypnotic. The self-titled album they released in 2009 was their first and only so far. I sure as hell hope there are more to come.

Below is the video for their song Islands. On top of it being such a great song, the video is fucking incredible. So kudos & thank you to the director, Saam Farahmand. After watching it the first time, I immediately watched it three more times. I hope you enjoy! If you don't, you suck! If you do, here are some more of their songs you should check out: Heart Skipped a Beat, Night Time, Crystalised, Shelter and Infinity.

 
Movie Recommendations: Milk & This Is England PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Jeff   
Tuesday, 08 December 2009 12:55
I have another couple movie recommendations for the 7 of you that will read this. I watched Milk and This Is England this weekend, and they were both incredible. Again, much like with Michael Clayton, I know it's not much of a reach to recommend Milk. It was held in very high regard and won multiple awards. But for those of you that have been holding out for some reason, or just haven't had a chance to watch it yet, I highly suggest it.

Milk is based on true events & the life of Harvey Milk. Milk was a gay activist & eventually became the first openly gay politician to be elected into any office in the United States. Milk was portrayed by Sean Penn (whom won the Academy Award for Best Actor). I know some people don't like Penn because of his political views, but you can't deny that he is an incredible actor. The supporting cast also did a great job. James Franco, Josh Brolin (nominated for Best Supporting Actor), Emile Hirsch, Diego Luna, Alison Pill, Victor Garber, Denis O'Hare and Joseph Cross, among others, were all outstanding.

Milk was directed by Gus Van Sant. Van Sant is a great filmmaker. He also directed Good Will Hunting, Drugstore Cowboy, My Own Private Idaho, Finding Forrester and Elephant, among others. Milk also won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay; and was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Directing, Best Original Score, Best Editing and Best Achievement in Costume Design. If you haven't seen it yet, please check it out.

The other film I saw this weekend and recommend is This Is England. Quite a different film than Milk, but also very well made and extremely powerful. In the vein of American History X, Romper Stomper, 16 Years of Alcohol and The Believer; This Is England is a film about skinheads. This film however is set in 1983 England. It was written & directed by Shane Meadows, and is based on some of his real life experiences. The main character, 12-year-old Shaun, is played by first-time actor Thomas Turgoose. Turgoose gives an incredible performance in a film with an extremely heavy subject matter. Shaun is a loner & is picked on quite a bit at school. One day, he stumbles upon, and is taken in by a young group of skinheads. Believe it or not, this group is actually fun, friendly & non-political. It's not until Combo (played by Stephen Graham) shows back up from a stint in prison, that Shaun realizes what skinheads are really all about. This Is England is pretty brutal at some points, but don't let that deter you. It's also a very poetic & emotional film. If you're up for something a little different, I highly recommend it. I hope you enjoy them both.
 
Movie Recommendation: Michael Clayton PDF Print E-mail
Movies, Music, TV, etc.
Written by Jeff   
Tuesday, 24 November 2009 11:32
I know I'm not blowing anybody's mind by recommending Michael Clayton. First of all, it starred George Clooney.  Secondly, it won an Academy Award, was nominated for six more, and it came out in 2007. I usually only feel compelled to go out of my way to recommend a movie when it's independent & lesser-known. But for those of you that haven't seen Michael Clayton, I just wanted to let you know about it.

In addition to Clooney (nominated for Best Actor), the film stars Tilda Swinton (won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress), Tom Wilkinson (nominated for Best Supporting Actor), and Sydney Pollack. The other Academy Awards the film was nominated for were Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Score and Best Original Screenplay.

Tony Gilroy not only directed Michael Clayton, but he also wrote the screenplay. At the time, Gilroy was a very accomplished writer. But Michael Clayton was actually his directorial debut. Which is just amazing, b/c he made one hell of a movie right out of the gate. James Newton Howard composed the original score for the film. On a side note, Howard is worth looking up; he's been the composer for too many great movies to even list.

As I write this I keep thinking to myself, what the hell took me so long to watch this movie, but I digress. I won't go into the plot, b/c I don't want to spoil anything. I'll just say, if you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend it. The performances are incredible. The directing/editing is tight & thrilling. It really makes you wonder about -- and fear -- all the dirty little secrets, and backroom dealings that go on behind closed doors in the legal system & corporate environment. There are many other movies like this in the sub-genre of suspense/drama. But Michael Clayton is really original, and one of the best.
 
The Ricky Gervais Show Podcasts PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Jeff   
Tuesday, 20 October 2009 13:56

I was a little bit late to the world of podcasts. But now that I'm listening to them, I can't get enough. My favorite one is The Ricky Gervais Show. This podcast is done by Gervais (on the right in each picture above), Stephen Merchant (middle), and Karl Pilkington (left). You may know Gervais & Merchant as the co-creators of the original The Office (which aired on BBC, and can now be seen on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim). They also collaborated on another amazing show, which aired on HBO, Extras. You may also recognize Gervais from his more mainstream movies, Ghost Town, and more recently, The Invention of Lying.

The Ricky Gervais Show Podcasts didn't start until 2005. But Gervais & Merchant did have a background in broadcasting, even going back to before they created The Office. For a brief period, they did a show on Xfm London, an alternative radio station. Then, after a little bit of a hiatus -- in which they completed the first season of The Office -- they returned to Xfm in 2001. This go around, they were put together with producer, Karl Pilkington. As time went on, Karl became more & more a part of the show. They were fascinated by Karl, and would ask him his thoughts on whatever they were talking about. By 2003, Karl was a permanent fixture of the show.

I've only heard a little bit of their older radio shows. But I'm currently going through & listening to every second of their podcasts. I honestly can't explain why I like it so much. There's really nothing incredibly special going on; but it's still amazing to me. Really, about 75% of the show is just Ricky & Stephen asking Karl questions & making fun of him; but it's great. They just have a very unique chemistry, and I love their senses of humor. They have re-occurring segments like: Monkey News, Karl's Diary, Knob News, Rockbusters, Educating Ricky, and Karl's Poetry. The more I listen to it, I too am becoming increasingly fascinated & somewhat obsessed with Karl. He is a very strange fellow, and has a very different way of looking at the world.

If you are a listener of podcasts, and have not heard of or listened to this show, I highly recommend it. They've completed a total of 5 seasons. And they've also released their first series of "Guides to...": Medicine, Natural History, The Arts, Philosophy, and The English. The second series of their guides will begin to become available this November; staring with, Society. Then, Law & Order and The Future to eventually follow.

If you are curious or interested, you can get more information at www.rickygervais.com/podcasts2.php
which is subsection of Ricky Gervais' website www.rickygervais.com/index.php

Hopefully you enjoy it as much as me. Later.
 
Where the Wild Things Are PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Jeff   
Tuesday, 06 October 2009 09:36

Where the Wild Things Are comes out on October 16th, and I can't wait. Based on the 1963 children's picture book, written & illustrated by Maurice Sendak, the movie is going to be directed by Spike Jonze. I can't think of a better choice than Jonze, except maybe Michel Gondry, but I'm very excited to see what Jonze has done. His unique visual style will lend itself perfectly to bring this story to life.

The classic book is actually only 20 pages long, and only contains 9 sentences. So it's going to be very interesting to see a feature length movie based on so little. It stars Max Records, Catherine Keener, Mark Ruffalo, and the voices of James Gandolfini, Catherine O'Hara, Forest Whitaker & Chris Cooper. In addition to the many amazing music videos Jonze has directed, he also made the films Being John Malkovich and Adaptation. Check out the trailer below.

 
Rob Reiner PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Jeff   
Tuesday, 22 September 2009 09:17

I recently watched The Princess Bride again (probably for the 37th time) and was reminded of what a great director & storyteller Rob Reiner is. Throughout his career Reiner had many films that were both commercially & critically successful. And many of his films became cult classics; and are still incredibly popular. He was able to make great movies across the full spectrum of genres: Comedies (both farcical & romantic), dramas, coming-of-age stories, thrillers. In addition to the amazing films shown above, he also directed Misery, A Few Good Men, The American President, Ghosts of Mississippi, & The Story of Us, among others. As of late, Reiner has not been directing as frequently. But he'll have a movie come out every couple of years. I hope he can get back to working on projects that he's truly passionate about. Because when he does, he can really create movie magic. I'm sure most of you have seen his big movies. But just in case you haven't, I couldn't recommend them more. I very much appreciate & enjoy his work. Thank you Meathead.
 
Mogwai PDF Print E-mail
Movies, Music, TV, etc.
Written by Jeff   
Monday, 31 August 2009 10:31
Mogwai -- named after the creatures in the movie Gremlins -- is a unique Scottish rock band from Glasgow. When the band first formed in 1995 -- by Stuart Braithwaite & Dominic Aitchison -- they were more of a traditional rock band. But now they are more known for their post-rock sound. Most of their songs are purely instrumental, without lyrics. It's hard to explain their sound; all I know is it is very powerful. Braithwaite is quoted as saying, "I think most people are not used to having no lyrics to focus on. Lyrics are a real comfort to some people. I guess they like to sing along and when they can't do that with us they can get a bit upset." Well, I for one, absolutely love their sound. The first time I ever heard them was in the movie Miami Vice. For the most part I enjoyed the film because it was made by one of my favorite directors, Michael Mann. But besides that, it was Mogwai's music that stood out to me the most. Well check them out, give a listen, and see what you think. They've released a total of six albums. The most recent, The Hawk Is Howling, came out in 2008.

Here's one of their songs, off their Mr Beast album (2006). It is also on the Miami Vice soundtrack.  Amazing song, turn it up & enjoy!

Mogwai - "Auto Rock"


Find out more a/b them at their website ---> http://www.mogwai.co.uk/
 
Thank you John Hughes PDF Print E-mail
Movies, Music, TV, etc.
Written by Jeff   
Monday, 10 August 2009 09:43

On last Thursday, filmmaker John Hughes passed away from a heart attack. Hughes was extremely multifaceted in the film industry; successfully writing, directing & producing. And he was one of the most popular & influential filmmakers of the 1980s. The 8 movies above were all the movies he directed. But keep in mind; he also wrote all 8 of those movies. Hey, give him a break on Curly Sue, they all can't be winners. In addition to those movies, he also wrote: National Lampoon's Vacation, Mr. Mom, (NL's) European Vacation, Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful, The Great Outdoors, (NL's) Christmas Vacation, Home Alone & Dutch.

Seriously, what an amazing filmography. He was undoubtedly a huge influence on me as a prepubescent kid & future awkward teenager. Many of his movies played off of stereotypes. But he did it in an endearing & thoughtful way. He usually always gave everyone in the audience a character they could relate to, and never feel ashamed of it. At the risk sounding too cheesy, he really did make me feel okay for thinking & feeling certain things. A lot of times in life -- especially as a teenager -- you think that you're the only one that feels certain ways, but he showed us that we were not alone. If you haven't seen all of the movie above, I highly suggest all of them (sans Curly Sue -- sorry Alisan Porter & James Belushi). RIP Mr. Hughes, you'll be dearly missed.
 
Oldboy PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Jeff   
Tuesday, 04 August 2009 10:08
I finally watched Oldboy the other day. And let me tell you, it was even better than I had been told. Oldboy came out in 2003, and was made by acclaimed South Korean director Chan-wook Park. The main character, Oh Dae-Su, is played by Min-sik Choi, whom gives an amazing performance. One day, all of the sudden, Oh Dae-Su is kidnapped & imprisoned. He is not released until 15 years later; never being told why he was held, or who had done it. His captor then gives him 5 days to either seek revenge or to seek the truth behind why this was done to him. What ensues is some of the most shocking & powerful filmmaking I've ever seen. It was an incredible mix of heartwarming emotion, disturbingly violent actions & uniquely dark comedy.

Speaking of disturbing, I found something out today that makes me sick to my stomach. Guess what movie is in pre-production right now; and is scheduled to come out in 2010. I'll give you two hints: It's two words and I just spent a paragraph describing it. Yep, you got it, Old Boy (I don't know why they decided to put a space between old & boy, unlike the original). Those of you that have already seen it already know, but let me tell those of you that haven't seen it yet...THIS MOVIE DOES NOT NEED TO BE REMADE.

And what makes it even worse is that the scheduled director is Steven Spielberg, and it is going to star Will Smith. Okay, nothing against Spielberg, he's an all-time great director; and similarly, nothing against Smith, he's a very good actor. But come on, this is ridiculous. With all due respect, Spielberg & Smith will not be able to do justice to Park & Choi's Oldboy. Like I said, Spielberg & Smith are great; but they make movies like E.T. & Hitch. They don't make movies that involve incest & torture. I know, I know, Spielberg made Schindler's List, and some other heavy movies, but Oldboy is a different beast. I hope one of them or both of them drop from this project, and the remake is scraped, but I digress. In all the annoyance of this though, I did read one thing that made me laugh (whether it's true or not, I don't know). But I read somewhere that Park said he will remake Jaws, if Spielberg remakes Oldboy. That gave me a chuckle. I hope he really said that, and I hope he does it. But in the end, all I have to say is -- if you haven't seen it -- watch Oldboy, it will blow you away.
 
Johnny Depp & Tim Burton PDF Print E-mail
Movies, Music, TV, etc.
Written by Jeff   
Tuesday, 21 July 2009 09:26
So, I just found out that filmmaker Tim Burton is nearing the end of remaking Alice in Wonderland. While I'm not a fan of remakes in the first place, this one doesn't really bother me. And Burton is the perfect director to bring this story to life, with his visual style & feel. But, there's one thing that does bother me; that being, a particular cast member. Who do you think is playing the lead male character? I'll give you one guess. Well that wasn't very difficult, yes, you got it, Johnny Depp.

Now, let me just say, I think Burton & Depp are both amazing; and they have worked together on many great projects. But it just seems like Burton casts Depp in every single movie he makes. Mr. Burton, give some other actors a chance. Obviously Depp has worked on a bunch of movies that had nothing to do with Burton. And Burton has obviously made movies without Depp. But, of the 11 feature length movies Burton has directed since 1990, Depp has played the male lead in 7 of them. In addition to the two I've mention, there was: Sweeney Todd, Corpse Bride, Sleepy Hollow, Ed Wood and Edward Scissorhands. I'm still shocked to this day that Depp didn't star in Big Fish; but that was probably only because he was working on Pirates of the Caribbean at the time.

Again, don't get me wrong. Depp is an amazingly talented actor, and he very rarely gives a bad performance. And Burton is an incredible director, and rarely makes a bad film (I won't bring up Planet of the Apes). I don't even really know why it bothers me, but I'm just getting tired of it. Maybe this all stems from the remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I strongly felt that that movie did not need to be remade, and it pissed me off that they did it to be quite honest.

In the end, at least they make quality movies. I guess Depp is just Burton's muse. Martin Scorsese has worked with Robert De Niro on many projects. Woody Allen had Diane Keaton, and Quentin Tarantino has Uma Thurman. I'll be cool, unless Burton ends up directing Pirates of the Caribbean 4, or casts Depp in a Pee-wee's Big Adventure remake. Oh, and Burton doesn't have to cast his "domestic partner," Helena Bonham Carter, in every single movie too (she's been in all six of his movies since 2001). That's just as annoying, if not more.
 
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