Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Informant! (2009)

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Written by: Scott Z. Burns
Based on the Book by: Kurt Eichenwald

Steven Soderbergh has done basically everything every director could ever set out to do in his career. He brought independent film to the mainstream with his 1989 debut sex, lies, and videotape. He made a movie about Franz Kafka. He made one of the coolest heist films ever (despite the fact that it was a remake) with Ocean’s Eleven. He made a movie about the life of Che Guevera. And he’s turned a porn star into a leading lady with The Girlfriend Experience. So what’s he doing now? A movie about a corporate whistleblower based on a true story? Didn’t he already do that? Oh no that was Erin Brocovich. She wasn’t corporate, she hates corporations.

The Informant! is the story of Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon), the vice president of ADM, a company that conspires to fix the price of lysine, a food additive, with their competitors. After the FBI responds to a call by one of Whitacre’s bosses about an extortion claim, Whitacre decides to clear his conscience and admit to the scheme feeling that if the plan were to be exposed he would be the fall guy. The film then follows his 2.5 years in service of FBI building a case against ADM. Once FBI finally gets all it needs and raids ADM Whitacre and the film unravel into an unsettling and ambiguous mess (but that’s not necessarily a bad thing).

The film overall is enjoyable, but Soderbergh is overbearing and off-putting. He really wants you to know that Mark Whitacre is unstable by using voiceover to give light to Whitacre’s regular irreverent thoughts about polar bear hunting, Japanese panty vending machines, and Michael Crichton. A ridiculously upbeat score is also used during the movie’s most poignant scenes to contrast the overly serious corporate thrillers of the 90s the film seems to be paying homage to, as well as rejecting. When the film unravels in the third act and Soderbergh lets the film play out on it’s own it’s a welcome break.

But yeah, Matt Damon is awesome in this and I can totally see Mark Whitacre becoming a classic movie character.




Thursday, September 17, 2009

mcluksy - mclusky do dallas

mclusky are the coolest band. Ever.

Don’t believe me? Okay, let me count the ways:

First of all, their name is fucking mclusky. I don’t think there’s ever been a name that summed up the sound of the band so perfectly while not meaning anything.

Secondly, they have a song Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues which is no doubt the greatest song title of all-time.

Third, they’re aching from fucking too much.

Fourth, this album was engineered by STEVE FUCKING ALBINI.

Fifth, they say fuck a lot.

Sixth, they do more drugs than a touring funk band.

Seventh, the world loves them and is their bitch.

Eighth, their riffs fucking rule for a brash English punk band.

Ninth, Jody Hill likes them.

Tenth, fuck you just listen to them and find out for yourself.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Insect Warfare - World Extermination

I like taking walks late at night. It’s nice to clear the head and just get some light exercise. I often stop at a nearby convenience store because it’s open until two in the morning and it gives me an excuse to give to my roommates who seem somewhat confounded I would want to just go out late at night. I found out there was a convenience store that was even closer to my dorm, but it was owned by the campus and thus would have a much smaller selection and much higher prices.

I decided I’d check it out anyway just to have an excuse to walk so I got my shit together and headed out. When I arrived, I was somewhat disappointed. The store was smaller than my room, although it did have a cooler. I circled the main rack the see if anything struck my fancy, and to my surprise something did.

Those niggas had fruit snacks on fruit snacks: Mixed berry, strawberry, cherry, need I go on? You could get a 2.5 oz bag (That’s 2.5 servings and 100% of your daily Vitamin C supplement) for $0.55. I grabbed two bags of cherry and a 20 fl oz. Dr Pepper and went to the cashier. She was watching some shit on ABC Family.

Eager to eat my fruit snacks and drink my Dr. Pepper I started to move briskly back to my dorm. However, just as the sea of lights that signaled the building came into sight I was stopped by an ensemble of young men. They asked me what business I had being out so late at night and I told them I was buying fruit snacks and Dr. Pepper. This answer did not seem to satisfy them and they inched closer to me and repeated the question. As they came into the light I saw each one of them had ghastly beards and mustard stains on their oversized Biggie Smalls shirts.

I inched backwards to counteract their movements towards me. All of a sudden, one grabbed me by the hair (I desperately need a haircut) and dragged me over to the woods. My fruit snacks fell out of the pockets of my hoodie, but luckily one of the men grabbed them and held them as he followed the gang into the wilderness. After about five minutes, I was lifted off my feet and smashed against a tree trunk that had to have a radius of about 15 feet. Thing was fucking huge. As I writhed in pain, I asked what they were going to do to me. They responded in some sort of low indistinguishable growl, and another of them repeated what the other had said in a high shriek.

I was really fucking confused and asked if I could eat my cherry fruit snacks before they went ahead with any of their plans. The asshole that had just shrieked tore the bag open and my fucking fruit snacks went everywhere. I pulled out my cellphone for some light and looked around for a fruit snack that wasn’t completely covered in leaves and dirt and shit. One of the guys came down hard on my cellphone and it snapped in half. Before I could flip half a shit this other dude came out of nowhere and pulled my pants down and started shoving the pieces of the cellphone up my ass. I started to scream but one of the assailants picked up a fistful of dirt and shoved it down my throat. I could taste a hint of cherry, but it was mostly shit.

Another dude came from behind me and shoved what felt like an entire tree stump up my ass. Another guy grabbed hold of my flaccid dick with one hand as he held my Dr. Pepper in the other hand. His accomplice twisted the cap off the bottle and he proceeded to jam my cock into the Dr. Pepper bottle. As the bottle was turned upside down, the syrupy liquid tried to escape. However, its path was deterred by my ever-throbbing member. It slowly seeped through and leaked onto my lower-abdomen and the man that had previously been sodomizing me with a stump proceeded to sensually lick it off. I gazed into his eyes and felt myself sink through into the deepest caverns of hell.

After a couple minutes of licking he lifted his head and surveyed my stomach. He then began to gnaw at the spot he had just been licking. The others joined in and I could feel the searing pain as my flesh was torn off my body. They used their teeth to tear out my intestines and proceeded to turn my bowels into musical instruments.

Then they made an album.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Written by: Quentin Tarantino
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
"Watching Donny beat Nazis to death is the closest we ever get to going to the movies."

Everything you really need to know about this movie can be seen in Eli Roth's character's twisted, bloodthirsty smirk as his lieutenant (Brad Pitt) instructs his soldiers on their mission of killing Nazis. As the movie progresses, it reveals a similar twisted identity: ruthless characters bent on revenge, biting dialogue, brutal violence, and a character base largely devoid of morality. Clearly, Q.T.'s paying homage to some of his favorite cult movies again. While the movie delivers more classic Tarantino dialogue, we all know he can get carried away and some scenes suffer from their length, though this is not something to be surprised about coming into one of his movies. The big surprise is the fact that the main Basterds themselves do not seem to get most of the screentime, but their scenes provide some of the most badass violence imaginable. To get more of an idea of the asskicking: Eli Roth plays a baseball-loving Jew with a heavy New York accent who beats Nazis to death with a bat, and his fucking nickname is "The Bear Jew." As much as the movie delivers some very memorable development and progression, above all it is about two things: the clever conversations, delivering insight and hilarity, and, more importantly, the catharsis of watching Nazis get fucking beaten to (dare I say it....) a pulp. Brootal.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Moon (2009)

Directed by: Duncan Jones
Written by: Nathan Parker

I’ve always had a deep fascination with science fiction. When I was younger I was enthralled by the special effects, epic storylines, and explosive action scenes. As I grew older I seemed to lose interest in the things that made me fall in love with science fiction as I started to realize that the genre was full of cautionary tales about political and societal issues. I began to focus more on the themes and morals of the stories and started to lose interest in the stories themselves. Because of this, I suppose Moon is the perfect sci-fi movie for how I feel about the genre right now.

Moon tells the story of Sam Bell (played by Sam Rockwell), an astronaut extracting helium-3 from the soil of the moon. He is nearing the end of his three year contract with Lunar Industries, when he begins to experience severe loneliness. His only means of contact with the outside world is limited due to a malfunction of the base’s communications system and his only companion is a robot named GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey). On a mission to pick up some helium-3, Sam hallucinates that someone is outside his rover and crashes the rover. The next scene, Sam awakes finding himself back in the base’s infirmary. He sees the base he crashed at is down, and decides to venture out to see what the problem is, only to find the crashed rover and his body inside the rover. He takes himself back to the base and asks GERTY who the man is, but GERTY refuses to give a clear answer. The rest of the movie investigates who the real Sam Bell is, the limits of corporate greed, and various other questions dealing with existence and reality and some more fun sci-fi topics.

Visually the film is enjoyable as well. Shot on a meager budget of $5,000,000, director Duncan Jones did the best he could to display a realistic depiction of the moon’s surface, opting for models rather than CGI. However, the cinematography seems to suffer somewhat from the low budget set, and it somewhat detracts from the mystical quality most sci-fi films possess. Some mysticism is saved by Clint Mansell’s fantastic score which captures the eerie wonder of space as well as any fan of Mansell’s previous work would expect.

Though the film drags in places and the set feels somewhat empty and hollow, it ultimately satisfies thanks to it’s interesting themes, plentiful ideas, and sympathetic character.




Monday, August 10, 2009

Dan Deacon - Bromst

Have you ever listened to Music for 18 Musicians and thought "I like it, but I can't dance to it."

Well, now you can. Best album of 2009.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Charizma & Peanut Butter Wolf - Big Shots

My favorite Disney movie was always The Fox and the Hound. I don’t remember if I got its message against segregation and society’s judgment, but as I grew I did. But now as I watch it, with a greater knowledge of what it does and what it sets out to do I can say that it features one of the most honest and beautiful depictions of young friendship and one of the most crushing resolutions, in which those friends are torn apart.

Now, I can’t help but look at Charizma & Peanut Butter Wolf, hip-hop heavyweights lost in time, without thinking of Fox and the Hound. The similarities are both eerie and heartbreaking: Two kids from two very different backgrounds come together to make beautiful music only to be ripped apart by a fucking bear…err, mugger. The two met in Southern California in 1989, Charizma was 16 and Peanut Butter Wolf (aka Chris Manak aka founder of Stone Throw Records) was 19. The two became the best of friends and both had a deep love for hip hop and recorded a number of demos, with Charizma rapping and P.B. Wolf producing, which resulted with the duo being signed to Disney’s Hollywood Basics label. Unfortunately, this all came to an end in 1993, when Charizma was murdered, at the age of 20, as a result of a mugging. P.B. Wolf took a break from music until 1996 when he started up Stones Throw Records, and in 2003 almost 10 years after Charizma’s death he finally released Big Shots, a compilation of their work together.

Although Charizma may come off as a sort of self-serving name for a rapper, but no rapper deserves the name quite as much as Charizma does. He’s like the Barack Obama of hip hop. It’s hard to imagine him without a smile on his face while he raps and his love of hip hop is evident in his tone and his lyrics. Peanut Butter Wolf’s production works perfectly with Charizma as it’s upbeat yet meticulous, and it’s clear the two shared a deep admiration and respect for one another.

Big Shots is like the perfect hybrid of East Coast and West Coast hip hop, as it combines the carefree air of the West with the lyrical prowess of the East. We may never see a pair quite as talented and likable as Charizma & Peanut Butter Wolf, so let’s take an apple juice break to remember what we lost.