See Animal Review now for one of the most awesome decisions of your current existence. As a
candidate for teacher’s certification in the next year certified, qualified teacher and first-year Master of Education student (!), I know how I’m going to be educating children about our fellow Earth-dwellers.
Ahh, how often do I get to tag something as educational and funny?
I really enjoyed Stephen King’s novel Mist, but couldn’t possibly see how it could translate to film without coming off corny, with plain stupid special effects.
I eat my words.
The Mist does a great job of observing, not just imitating, the growing panic among members of a community trapped together when a strange mist encompasses them. Every time the door opens, somebody dies, so once a few Darwin awards are handed out they decide to stay put. Come nighttime, however, it becomes obvious that the …things on the outside can find their way in, and escape seems vital – but is it worth the risk? Two opposing camps form (the crazy lady and her religious converts versus the rational townsfolk: “Hey lady, I believe in God too – but I don’t believe he’s the bloodthirsty asshole you make him out to be”), and violence ensues.
There’s a lot of witty repartee amid the chaos. There’s some bitch-slapping and plenty nasty words exchanged (“The day I need a friend like you, I’ll just take a little squat and shit one out”). A bit o’ blood (a given). Sex (implied). Crazy creatures in the night that we actually get a good look at. A couple pretty ladies and a handsome leading man. Suspense. Conspiracy theory. Sacrifice. Guns. Punching. What more could you want?
The ending of the movie is spectacularly more depressing than that of the book. It’s a true mind-f***. You’ll be saying “damn, that sucks ass” for days.
It’s not a fast-paced film, so there’s not much more I can say – sans spoilers – other than, go for it. Keep a cuddly friend nearby, if necessary.
When Harry Potter came out, I resisted the “trend” for four whole years, simply out of spite toward trend-followers. I’ve never liked feeling like a herded sheep.
When Twilight came out, it only took my best friend, brother (straight!), sister (sixteen), and various Facebook status mentions to convince me it was worth the read. I fell in love with Edward Cullen along with every other female; twice, in fact, since I decided to re-read the book before the movie came out.
The female actress, Kristen what’s-her-face (ah, Stewart), shakes her face with every line – and there are a lot of close-ups.
That’s all I’m going to bother saying. Hollywood tried to cash in on Twilight’s fame while the going was good, and it disappointed hard.
For a History of Rock Music class I took in undergrad, I had to pick a review of an album and then write a review of that review…follow me? I chose this review of Hot Chip’s ‘The Warning’. What follows is my review of the article:
The album I selected for this assignment is “The Warning” by the British electronic indie band Hot Chip. Due to the fact that they are still mainly known in the U.K., I will introduce the band before I delve into the particular review I chose to critique.
Hot Chip is presently signed with DFA Records, an independent record label that holds an exclusive distribution deal with major record label EMI. The band’s music is sometimes described as electropop and sometimes electronica; it has been argued that they have created a new landscape of electronic music that cannot easily be labeled.
When categorization is attempted, the most common band comparisons found among both fans and critics have included a more experimental and danceable version of Postal Service, “Arcade Fire remixed by Of Montreal with a hint of Spoon” (anonymous), and the “dance rock of classic Prince and New Order with a modern, synth-happy sheen” (Entertainment Weekly). Their most widely-cited influences do include Prince, as well as a healthy dose of everything hip hop and R&B. Their first album, “Coming on Strong,” reflected this potent R&B and soul influence in its sparse and laidback rhythms; this was a general source of criticism that the band responded to with their second full-length release “The Warning.”
“The Warning” hit the U.S. market in June 2006, just months after its release in the U.K., which it collected such awards as the 2006 Mercury Music Prize to the 4th Best Album of 2006 in New Musical Express (NME) Magazine’s annual poll. NME, a self-proclaimed “Bible of every young music fan” in Britain, is the source of the album review for this assignment. Written by Stephen Worthy, the review consumed two praise-filled pages of the issue, but the album only earned a rating of 8/10 from the author. I did some research, and based on my findings, it seems that Worthy has, at the writing of this piece, authored eight articles for the magazine, seven of which he gave the exact same rating. This caused me to approach the review with some caution.
My first impressions upon reading the review were based on Worthy’s stylistic techniques, which could best be described as loquacious and excessive. His use of strung-together adjectives at first seemed charmingly descriptive, but once the pattern was established, seemed merely an attempt to show off. He ultimately came across as a try-hard, and effectively demonstrates that less can be more.
I was able to ascertain some useful facts about the band throughout the reading, as one should hope to do; at times, however, obscure references only confused and distracted me from the purpose of the review. Worthy employed name-dropping as I’ve never seen before, to the point where it was necessary to keep Wikipedia handy.
What I often found was that Worthy’s references were of very little relevance or import to Hot Chip or their album (e.g. Bruce Banner, the name of The Hulk’s comic character; the Krays brothers, organized crime leaders in the 1950s and 60s; Friends of The Earth, an international network of environmental organizations). How did Worthy relate the ideas? Any way he could to fill space, it seems, since they lend nothing of value to what this album comprises. In fact, the time I spent researching these names could have been spent checking out the album for myself.
I spent days familiarizing myself with the tracks included on Hot Chip’s current album, as well as a few from their previous album for comparative purposes. I can agree with the general consensus among album reviews that “Coming on Strong” lacked the oftentimes-frantic energy and overall attitude driving the songs on “The Warning”.
As Worthy accurately points out, to his credit, this likely explains the messages behind many of the lyrics on their current album, which dare past critics to eat their words. For instance, the track ‘Over and Over’ addresses the accusation that their creations are frivolous, too ‘chill’, not to be taken seriously (“Laid back? I’ll give you laid back…Over and over and over and over and over… Like a monkey with a miniature cymbal, the joy of repetition really is in you.”). While the catchy tune is designed to get people moving, these lyrics have another, almost ironic layer that seems to ridicule the monotony of mainstream pop, which is perhaps the category that listeners and critics were inadvertently lumping them into by attempting any comparisons in the first place.
While Worthy is able to identify the angry dissatisfaction that fuels some of the songs on this album, he vastly overplays its significance, which leads me to believe that he worries less about conveying the emotions invoked by the music than in entertaining guesswork regarding the reasons behind the lyrics. He makes constant references to violent intentions, stating that “you wouldn’t want to make Hot Chip angry,” and suggesting that the members of the band might have a thing or two to say, “possibly after pinning you against a wall.”
These are groundless suppositions, conceivably made for the author’s own amusement, since he uses all the following words and phrases to describe the band members: nerd, demure, fragile, diminutive stature, over-sized physics teacher glasses. Perhaps he is simply (and unsuccessfully) trying to get across the point that Hot Chip is generally known as a charmingly playful group of young men that can shift between silly, flippant moods (‘Tchaparian’, ‘The Warning’) to funky, weighted ones (‘No Fit State’), and even sweet vulnerability in some cases (‘Look After Me’). Some of their motifs are even reminiscent of early 20th century classical music (‘Won’t Wash’); there are several instances over the album, in fact, where dissonances and minor chords are used to create a state of discomfort or frustration.
This diversity of conflicting emotions strung together into a satisfying album is likely what leads Worthy to declare it a “coherent electrifying whole.” He is not the first (Stylus Magazine, Paste Magazine), but I am also not the first to disagree (Rolling Stone Magazine, Blender Magazine).
It’s true that the composition of the album creates a balance of beauty and ugliness, of both variety (unique sounds and moods) and consistency (motifs), but an album is composed of more than just balance; the flow is what guides the emotional experience of it. There is something to be said for quality control, and as long as superfluous tracks (‘Arrest Yourself’, ‘So Glad to See You’) make it under the radar, they are beaten into submission by the great ones and automatically disrupt the flow. Nevertheless, just because not all the ideas connect, it does not detract from the accomplishments of this album.
This leads me to a last criticism of Worthy’s review. He refers to Hot Chip as “scientists at the very top of their game,” but this is an arguable claim because the improvements they demonstrated from their first album to the second, coupled with the fact that some further improvements could yet be made, suggest that they are still in the process of evolving and maturing. This is good news for the band, because their originality and creativity has left a steadily-growing fan base in anticipation of their next album. It is nothing to be ashamed of; however, it is equally nothing to be overlooked.
In the end, I feel that Worthy did provide a decent picture of where Hot Chip is coming from, and he does acknowledge his inability to predict their future based on this album, though he credits the band as worthy of the success that might arrive in the near future. The sources of his conjectures are fairly ambiguous, and so it might have been useful to draw from existing interviews (or cite them, if he did in fact make use of any) to properly comment on the moods and expectations of the band, if he could not himself reach the band for comment in the writing of this piece.
His major flaw lies in the glowing praise he builds on a pyre of obscure references; there are two points missing in his rating that go unaccounted for, which suggest some unspoken constructive criticism that might have been offered. By offering praise without condemnation, he contradicts his more realistic accreditation of 8/10, which denotes a good effort from a talented group capable of doing even more.
Finally, Worthy’s stylistic methods tend to distance the layperson, which I deem contrary to the purpose of a review: to relate information about an art form to a general audience, so that they may determine their interests appropriately.
Even though there was nothing about the plot to particularly draw me toward this movie, the cast of My Best Friend’s Girl, with Dane Cook and Kate Hudson especially, told me it just might not matter what the heck the movie was about.
Dane Cook plays the asshole funny-guy in this movie, which is what we’ve come to expect from his comedy routines on dating (though opposite his creepy role in Mr. Brooks, a movie I have enjoyed over and over, and added to my personal collection). Kate Hudson, ever-adorable, plays the good girl letting loose in her first sexually-gratifying relationship – wait, Kate Hudson, letting loose? Cussing, kicking ass, sex? I am hetero and that turns me on.
The movie emphasizes the games that guys have to play to get the girl, and the plot rarely deviates from that of Will Smith‘s Hitch. The twist is that Dane Cook’s role doesn’t help improve the ‘game’ of his clients; he only makes their styles look brilliantly suave relative to his own asshole ways. In this sense, the females in this movie are portrayed as settling for guys that previously did not hold up to their ideals and standards. GREAT.
Of course, My Best Friend’s Girl includes the sappy happy ending that is ultimately necessary. Does the nice guy get the girl? Nope. No, he does not. Well, I guess the movie tries to mess with our concepts of ‘nice’ and ‘asshole’ just a little. Or, I guess, girls just like their bad boys.
Warnings left and right. “This movie offends.” “This movie sucks.” “Don’t bother.” “It’s…funny, yeah.” “Retard bashers.”
So, I was bored today, and I planned on catching a different movie. However, my favourite movie-going buddy was sick and my car was written off in the accident, so I had to catch a ride from my dad, who is pathologically late. I was late for my movie. 1-0 for Loner Karma.
The only choice left was Tropic Thunder, and I figured the cast alone warrants giving it a chance. When I purchased my ticket at the automated thingamajig, a free ticket for the movie I initially intended to see also came out. SWEET! But, I had no one to give it to, and scalping it would make me late for this movie, as well. Touché, Loner Karma, and pretty bitchy. 2-0.
Anyhow, I’m glad I saw it. Mother Nature isn’t the only one who pissed herself.
A few genius comedic stunts include the following (minor spoilers ahead, skip past list to avoid):
1. The opening of the movie, so seamless that you believe you are still watching theatre previews. Booty Sweat, Bust-a-Nut energy drinks…need I say more? (see bottom of post)
2. The director steps on a land mine and explodes (“pink mist,” for those who watch Grey’s Anatomy). A gang of hardcore, heavily armed drug lords are in the woods watching Ben Stiller lead his movie cast army. Ben Stiller thinks this is all a funny trick, and picks up the director’s head, shakes it around a little, pulls out some of the insides and licks them. Sticks the head on his gun. Yells some dumb shit. Kicks the head away: “I’m David Beckham!” The head drug lord fella says, bewildered, “These men do not fear death.”
3. Jack Black in his heroin addiction/withdrawal scene. YES. Gold.
4. Ben Stiller with his “son” on his back running from drug lords opening fire on his ass. He yells “I was wrong!” and turns, and his “son” is stabbing him over and over in the shoulder. He chucks the little man, and like a starfish, he spins over the bridge. Reminiscent of the burrito-dog encounter on the bridge in Anchorman. :)
5. The repetition of “You’ve got hands?!” as the characters meet up again in their escape from the jungle.
Some of the other gems (“What do you mean ‘you people’?” “…What do you mean YOU people?”) can be seen in the movie trailer at its official website here.
Okay, so there was a tad too much emphasis on the “retard” role and jokes, and most were not very funny and at least mildly offensive, but I had to giggle when Ben Stiller says, “There were some times where I actually felt like I was…retarded.” So very Zoolander of you!
So, there’s my two cents. Liked it, don’t think I’ll watch it again, might quote it sometime.
Where to start, where to start? Okay, first impression of this movie came from shiteous reviews at Rotten Tomatoes, but since I enjoyed The Invasion, I gave it a chance. Also, the trailer (below) seduced me. Anyhow, I just saw it in theatres.
I think I have new worry wrinkles. (No significant spoilers ahead.)
Half of me agrees with the reviews; there were some parts I just had to laugh at, like when Kiefer Sutherland‘s wife sobbingly begs forgiveness for not believing that the mirrors were after him. HILARIOUS. Also, the ultimate “explanation” for the events leaves my scientific self utterly dissatisfied.
Okay, so the plot has its weak points, but hell-ooo, a reflection that continues to stare evilly once you’ve turned your back? Creepy as shit. It only gets worse when you realize they’re all murderous assholes. I had to hug my legs to avoid grabbing the person next to me, and I’m serious about the worry lines – my eyebrows and forehead were scrunched up and I’m feeling a little stressed out.
For once, I didn’t call the ending – and it was super neat. Holy mind fuck. I won’t say why, if only because its impact, I suspect, is powerful only in the context of the movie. Anyhow, when the credits began to roll and the lights turned on, no one in the audience moved, or even seemed to be breathing, for a good thirty seconds. And I’m pretty sure they all had the same final thought as me:
I’m going home to break some mirrors now.
I’m not usually creeped out by horror movies, and I am absolutely confident in saying that I enjoy them more than the average person. Since I was a kid, my mother and I have bonded over both scary movies and “scary” movies aka. the ones so corny you get more of a laugh than anything. That last group has, to us, been the majority. I know all the formulas down pat, and I’d say I’m a pretty disappointing movie companion for predicting the plot out loud and, for the most part, being right.
Tonight, my mom and I watched The Invasion (2007; click here for the description or scroll down for the trailer) with Nicole Kidman, based on the novel “The Body Snatchers” by Jack Finney, which was later adapted into a screenplay for the film Invasion of the Body Snatchers (The Invasion, however, takes a new twist on this plot, for those who might consider it too similar for viewing). This movie did not earn any stars and received terrible reviews from such trusted moviegoer websites as RottenTomatoes.com. If I had read the reviews before getting into the plot, I likely would have changed the channel.
So glad I didn’t.
If you can take an hour and a half of paranoia and nerves, preferably if you don’t have to walk two small dogs through a dark park at midnight afterwards, I suggest you give it a fair shot.