The Neighbourhood- Sweater Weather/Sara Bareilles – Brave

Hey all,

Figured I would start off this beautiful Monday morning with some good music- Sweater Weather by The Neighbourhood.

I would like to mention that I am annoyed that it is the NeighbOUrhood, and not just the Neighborhood.  Spell check’s having a riot.

At any rate, the song is pretty good- the wordplay is fairly concise, if a little simplistic, and I really groove the mood that they’re building with the laid back tone of their music.  I’d recommend not watching the music video- I’ll be frank, my opinion of the band dropped after seeing what artistic bullshit they tried to pull in this video.  In a summary, Dear Black and White filter, please marry the entire band.  My love for you is as legitimate as my love of Instagram.  Please accept this series of random images.  Love, NBHD.

PS Now you’re upside down.

If you ignore the video, however, the whole thing is quite enjoyable.  While I recommend checking it out, I wouldn’t recommend dropping any money on this one. :/  Sorry NBHD, just try harder next time.  Or less hard.  Or lose the whole superartistic aspect of it.  You know, just… just stop… whatever caused your video.

In a rare fit of productivity, here is a second review of Sara Bareilles new song Brave.  I’ve been a fan of Sara Bareilles since Love Song, and I loved King of Anything, so when I heard Sara Bareilles had a new song coming out, I couldn’t resist.

So Sara does a lot of goofy music videos.  She’s got a dance video that portrays her as a crazy girl dancing to the music in her head in her video Gonna Get Over You, the whole miniature pianist in Love Song, and she’s got a really beautiful performance video in Gravity.  So, seeing the video for Brave, I’m not really that surprised to see a bunch of people awkwardly dancing in public.  My favorites are the the fat black man and the guy with the beard- all of them are reasonably good at dancing and incredibly awkward the entire time, but those two are the goofiest.

Overall, Brave has a good intention.  It’s a good song topic, but ultimately suffers from a couple of oddities that prevents me from really enjoying it.  I mean, ultimately, Sara’s voice alone makes me able to easily and happily listen to this song.  She’s a phenomenal performer, and I truly enjoy her music.  That said, this song is not one of her better performances.   The lyrics, in comparison with her other works, just doesn’t hold up.  I don’t like the refrain, I don’t like a lot of the general lyrics, and the music was a little too pop for me to really get into it.

That’s it from me.

Zip! out.

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Movie Review: Despicable Me 2

Hey all,

Sorry for the time off!  I went on vacation and decided it was a vacation from the blog also, I guess.

And then I got lazy for a week.  And then I forgot to publish for three additional days.  Or, you know, something.  Shut up!

At any rate, I thought I would start things off with the only movie I’ve seen in several weeks, which is incredibly disappointing given the wealth of wonderful movies coming out this summer.  I’ll let you know what list of movies I plan on seeing while my girlfriend is out of town.  I also have a solid list of music singles to share, so I think I might try to crank out some extra posts for everyone.

At any rate, the long anticipated Despicable Me 2 has come out, and I trundled off to the theater to give it a once-over.

Overall, while the movie itself is great, I ultimately walked away from the theater feeling almost disappointed.  Maybe it’s just Pixar spoiling my generation rotten, but I’m looking at all of the recent sequels of my favorite animated movies.  Specifically, Monsters University and Toy Story 3.  I mean, look at these movies.  Pixar has been giving us the gift of revisiting our childhood all grown up.  Movies that came out when my generation was only kids, transformed into adult movies.  It’s the same theory that went into Harry Potter- J.K. wrote the books to “grow up” with the readers- the complexity of the story, the quality of the writing, and the depth of the characters escalates with each book, matching the pace of the target audience, the kids in the same year as Harry.  Clinging onto the same target audience in spite of the volatility of that age group is a masterful move, and Pixar has been doing the same thing with its sequels.  They’ve taken two of their most popular films and had them “grow up” to meet their target audience- Andy leaving for college and leaving his toys behind, the Monsters regressing to their college days, these are movies for college students who grew up watching Pixar movies.

So, when DM2 announces a sequel, I suppose I hoped that they were going to go for the same kind of theme, where they make a timeless, growing-of-age story.  Given the first movie, I had desperately wanted a movie where the kids have grown up- Margo would be heading off to college, Edith is dealing with High School, and… I actually have no idea what Agnes would do in this movie.  Be sulky?  And Gru would be dealing with all the pressure and challenges that comes from being a career single father/supervillian.  This would have been a timeless movie for me.

Thinking back on it, there were plenty of warning signs that I was going to be wrong.  I mean, first off, this is a pretty rapid sequel.  The initial target audience of Despicable Me hasn’t had time to grow up yet, and they’re not going to jump ship and change markets.  All of the previews were about the minions, which, don’t get me wrong, one of my favorite parts of Despicable Me is the fact that the minions are basically the best thing since sliced bread, but it’s not really an indication of emotional maturity.  Then the trailer showing Lucy for the first time came out, and I saw that Universal was going in a different direction.  Introducing a love interest for Grue… I didn’t approve, per se, but I was content to see what they would do with it.  It’s certainly another way that young girls with a single father could have emotional hurdles, you know?

After I saw the movie, I was talking with my girlfriend about the plot.  She said that she really didn’t like Lucy’s role in the movie, that it was a tacky plot, etc. etc.  That was what ruined it for her, the fact that the plot was predictable, overused, and cliche.  Now, while I was by no means impressed by the plot, the cliches didn’t ruin the movie for me.  What really did it for me was that the girls got virtually written out of the entire movie.  Seriously, Edith might not even qualify as a character anymore, not after how little time she spent on screen, and Margo got almost a tip of the hat with a micro-plot.  Agnes, the fan favorite, got more screen time than the other two combined, and yet I’m pretty sure that there were individual minions who got more screen time than all three girls combined.  This killed me.  Despicable Me had given themselves an incredible plot device, a single father and three children, something that the fans identified with and adored, and they ignored it.  Instead, they’re going to churn out a quick buck by producing as much screen time for the minions and Steve Carrell as possible and suck the money out of the pre-teen market.

Now, don’t get me wrong- this movie kept me in stitches for almost the entire thing.  The minions are one of the best sets of characters I’ve ever seen, and the entertainment value of DM2 is very high.  That being said, if Universal announces a third DM movie in another three years, I may end up waiting for it to come out on video instead.  This movie had a lot of potential to draw me in, and instead it’s being used to make quick money.  It’s not a strategy that will work in the long run, and nor is it a strategy that will keep me coming back.

On a final positive note, my mind is blown that Russel Brand is Dr. Nefario.  BOOGIE!

In related news, this:

I literally swooned for grown-up Hiccup.  He’s so grown up and manly now…

-Zip! out.

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Movie Review: Man of Steel

As per my signature review feature, let me give Man of Steel a more accurate name: Lifetime Presents: Collateral Damage, the Story of Dragging Your Face Through a Building or Two.  I can also give the camera guy a new nickname: Seizure Boy.

Suffice to say, I was not wholly impressed by Man of Steel.  Matter of fact, I’m pegging the movie below RottenTomatoes’ score of 56%- I’m saying 3/10, at best.  I honestly think I might have like Superman Returns better, and that movie sucked the suck!  There are a number of things that were wrong with this movie- from plot, to cinematography, to the action, really just everything.   It’s difficult to pick where to begin, but I suppose that the plot is as good as any.

The plot really made no goddamned sense.  There’s nothing particularly special about the plot they showed us- it’s the same plot that every other Superman movie in the last three decades has had, only with a different origin enemy.  Start with Krypton, shoot Kal off into the distance, blah blah blah.  Lands in Smallville, raised as Klark Kent, slowly but surely grows into a superhuman, sun radiation, etc. etc.  The big twist comes with the major enemy of the Movie, Zod, killing maybe 1/3 of Metropolis, but let’s face it, this was also really, really boring.  Why?  Comes down to the largest problem with Superman- thanks to 1950’s writers, Superman literally faces no challenges in the superhero business.  Why?  All Superman really needs to do to defeat Zod is punch him in the face repeatedly until Zod’s body caves in.  Thanks to being an Achilles clone, Superman has no weaknesses in combat!  Drag his face through 20 buildings?  Not even scuffmarks!  Superman is far, far too badass to even be fazed by any attack.

This brings me to the second issue with Man of Steel- they haven’t changed Superman at all.  The potential for failure is what makes a superhero interesting- the act of facing difficult odds and overcoming them is what draws us, the viewers, in.  Look at any of the most successful superhero movies in the past- I’m talking Batman, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Kick-Ass.  Any and all of these movies have characters who are capable of failure, characters who actually have something to lose.  In particular, look at Watchmen, specifically at Dr. Manhattan.  There’s an analogous character to 1950’s Superman- a being so powerful that he eclipses humanity in its entirety.  Where 1950’s Superman is perfect in every form- perfect body, superpowers, and a humanitarian, Dr. Manhattan is a deeply flawed character who struggles with his growing detachment from humanity and although he possesses near infinite power, still cannot save those whom he loves.  Now, when I started watching Man of Steel, I saw some excellent potential to draw Superman away from being his very own deus ex machina to being a flawed being, someone with imperfect moral or physical attributes.  However, the decision to change Superman must have been either rejected or legally difficult, and lo and behold, Clark Kent remains the same person, the same invulnerable superhero he was in the 1950’s.  He was a revelation 60 years ago, but he isn’t interesting in the modern age.

Third on my list is the action.  While the action is one of the more enjoyable aspects of Man of Steel, I did have a big hangup with it.  There are maybe four decent action scenes in this movie, and they are basically the same scene over and over again.  Superman finds an enemy.  Superman punches his enemy in the face.  Superman’s enemy kicks Superman through a building.  Superman drags enemy’s face across a few buildings.  Enemy picks Superman up and slams him into the ground.  A fighter jet will then shoot somebody/everybody a lot, but fuck your fighter jets, they hold no power here!  Then, in every scene but the last one, the enemy sparta kicks Superman through a building and runs away.  (In the last scene, Superman sparta kicks the enemy through a building instead.  Character development!)  Even when I wasn’t watching Superman do the same things over and over again, the Man of Steel editors suffer from a condition I like to call, “Action Seizure Syndrome,” or, for short, you can call the editors a bunch of ASSholes.  Someone looked at pretty much every action scene and said, “you know what will make this scene more exciting?  If we pretend the camera was an earthquake!”  This induced mass vomiting across the entire theater and thoroughly ruined any enjoyment I might have had from Superman dragging Zod’s face across the entire goddamned planet.

In a nutshell, the things I didn’t like about Man of Steel were the story, the main character’s personality, the main character’s powers, and the action scenes.  This doesn’t exactly leave a lot of the movie left, but I did manage to find a couple of things about the movie I did manage to like.  First off, I want to give some kudos to Russell Crowe for being the single most engaging character in the entire movie.  Basically, Superman isn’t going to be winning any awards, well, ever, but Russell Crowe should get a best supporting actor because GOD DAMN that man is fantastic in this movie.  Basically, all the scenes where Russell Crowe was the main character on Krypton, that was the best part of the movie!  It was action-filled, it was engaging, and it really got me interested in his character, his wife’s character, and Krypton in general.  Zod was a scary enemy and the revolution was a wicked cool action scene.  In fact, now that I think about it- check out this trailer.  If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll realize that more than half of the visuals and dialog from that epic-looking trailer are secretly from that first 20 minute period on Krypton.  Unless your first 20 minutes are like Up’s first 20 minutes, you should never aim for that chunk of the movie to be better than the rest of the movie combined.

Additionally, I would also like to tip my hat to Christopher Meloni for being a total hard-ass in this movie- “You were right- a good death is its own reward!”  Good times.

Anyways, got to jet.

 

-Zip! out.

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Anti-Review: Of Monsters and Men, My Head Is An Animal

Hey everybody-

No actual review today, just an anecdote- I managed to get my hands on the Of Monsters and Men album today, and I’ve enjoyed it very thoroughly.  Only small things were bugging me- why was the title track at the end?  Also, usually singles are in the front end of the album, but both of the hits from My Head is an Animal were in the second half.  This was a mystery until I discovered that iTunes had decided to play my music in reverse- starting from track 12 going backwards.

 

Goo Goo Dolls coming up tomorrow!  See you then.

 

-Zip!

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Capital Cities- Safe and Sound

Hey everybody-

It’s been a busy week and I’ve been quite stressed, but not so stressed that I couldn’t find this gem of a song.  Let me introduce you to Capital Cities- Safe and Sound.

Listening to this song, on late night radio, was quite an experience for me.  I started off almost not even noticing the song- it had caught my ear by virtue of being something new, but I couldn’t easily put a name on the band, and while it was interesting, I didn’t attach myself to the music, right up until I heard that awesome trumpet.  That’s what really sucked me into this song- trumpet is really underutilized in modern rock, and that trumpet blare has always held a special place in my heart (When I was a kid, I played the trumpet, because that’s what Lou Vega did.  I was a ‘playa’ in the making… I wonder where I went wrong?)

Naturally, I spent the rest of the car ride caught between grooving to the song and wondering whether or not this was a song made in 1980’s or 2005.  Much to my surprise, this song was not only not made in the 80’s, but it was published this year!  That’s why I’d never heard it before.  This song is going to be special to me- the Capital Cities have a huge appreciation for rock history, and you can really feel that 1980’s influence coming in through their music in a captivating hybrid of 80’s sound and 2000’s style.  I’m going to be spending the rest of the week digging deeper into these guys- if this song is this high quality, I wonder how amazing the others are going to be.

To top everything off, this music video is one of the classiest things I’ve ever seen.  One of the reasons that LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem was so popular was that in addition to being a phenomenal song, they made a super cool music video featuring modern dancing.  This song pulls dancing styles from generations and generations, and is an incredible watch.  I really enjoyed the moment at 1:11!  Check it out.

That’s all for now-

-Zip! out.

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Twenty One Pilots- Holding on to You

Hey everybody,

Even though I’m very busy these days (big deadline at work!) I thought I would leave you with just a little something I caught on my radar the other day.

 

 

This song gets an 8.5/10 in my book, but to be fair, the music video gets about a 4 for being uninteresting and odd.

 

Anywho, gotta get back to the grind.

 

-Zip! out.

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Gatsby Review

Hey guys,

Saw The Great Gatsby at a drive-in on Friday, so I thought I would post a review.

I’ve held a long time obsession with The Great Gatsby.  It’s been one of my favorite books of all time, what with the glamor of the 1920s, the purist idealism of Gatsby conflicting with the wretchedness of pretty much everyone he knows, and the steadfast character of the narrator, Nick.  The book holds a lot of magic for me, and I always love to see adaptations of it.  So, when I see a high budget version being developed with Leonardo DiCaprio as the headliner, I simply couldn’t resist.

For the most part, I wasn’t disappointed.  The first half of the movie was an ideal representation of the world of the book- from the house, to the parties, to Gatsby’s character, even the transitions.  Everything was a combination of elegant and reckless, glamor and depravity, of wealth and opulence.  The colors, the acting, the mood of the film, even how the characters drove their cars, it was all absolutely perfect.  The only thing I can fault is that the music was a little modern, considering that this was the 1920’s, but even then, it matched the mood of the film.  If I were Nick, what I saw in that movie was exactly what I had expected to see in 1920.  That first half of the movie was a marvelous adaptation, above and beyond what I had expected.

The second half of the movie, however, the half after Gatsby meets Daisy, that’s where the movie falls short a little bit.  Nothing is bad, quite honestly.  The acting is good.  The sets are good.  The drama is well kept.  The only real issue is that it’s nothing special.  The entire second half of the movie is drab, a regular representation.  Where the first half was the best Gatsby fit I had yet seen, the second half could have been done by essentially anyone.  I didn’t feel Gatsby’s emotional angst over Daisy failing to meet his fantasy.  I didn’t feel Gatsby’s last hope, that if Daisy leaves Tom, she’s turn into his fantasy, and everything will be ok.  I couldn’t sympathize with Daisy’s conflict between Tom and Gatsby.  I didn’t feel Gatsby’s inevitable panic and turmoil at the end of the movie.  The only convincing aspect of the second half of the movie was Toby Maguire’s conflict between assisting his friend Gatsby, betraying his cousin Daisy, and his self destruction over Gatsby’s death.

Overall, the movie gets a 7.5/10.  The second half of the movie wasn’t spectacular, but that didn’t take away from how much I enjoyed the first half.

-Zip! out.

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