Wednesday, December 22, 2010



BEST ALBUMS

10 // Ellie Goulding Bright Lights
The original release of this which was called ''Lights'' was enjoyable enough, but the re-release gave it a bit more life and replay value.

09 // Daft Punk Tron Legacy [Original Soundtrack]
The mix of orchestral and electronic production creates an epic and moody score. Even cooler when seen on screen with the futuristic visuals of the film. My favourite score of the year.

08 // Linkin Park A Thousand Suns
Doing an experimental album and branching out their sound was the perfect move for Linkin Park. A Thousand Suns Proves they have more in them than you'd expect.

07 // The Pretty Reckless Light Me Up
They remind me a lot of 90s rock bands i used to listen to. The UK iTunes edition comes with some great bonus songs.

06 // Kyu Kyu
While i wait for the new Bjork album, this will fill in that space nicely.

05 // M.I.A. MAYA [Deluxe Edition]
Fans were split down the middle with this album. Personally, i think it's her best record yet.

04 // Nicki Minaj Pink Friday [Deluxe Edition]
It's very ecclectic musically and surprisingly more personal than you'd expect. The lack of old skool ghetto Nicki may bore some people, but she still gives us some great club bangers while also showing the world who she really is and what type of varied artist she wants to be.

03 // Rihanna Loud
She goes from strength to strength with each album she releases. My favourite pop album of the year.

02// Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
You'll get some surprisingly honest writing on this album, with some really amazing production sampling on some of the songs. It's easily his best record.

01 // Janelle Monae The Archandroid
What gets Janelle the #1 spot is how ambitious this album was for a debut. It's very concept heavy, and the production on the songs are very rich and cinematic.


Honorable mentions:

Ciara Basic Instinct

Crystal Castles Crystal Castles II

Goldfrapp Head First

Auf Der Maur Out of Our Minds

Hurts Happiness

How To Destroy Angels Self Titled

Robyn Body Talk Part 2

UNKLE Where Did The Night Fall

Erykah Badu New Amerykah Part 2

Jessica Mauboy Get Em' Girls

WORST ALBUMS

The Black Eyed Peas The Beginning
A tired, uninspired, and boring album. It's like they collected every b-side from their previous album and threw it into a generic Euro dance blender. Lazy and shit.

Cheryl Cole Messy Little Raindrops
Her first album was a decent enough debut, but this follow up is just so dull in every way. Where are the hooks? did she honestly enjoy making this record? doesn't bloody sound like it.

MGMT
Congratulations
Their first album is one of my all time favourites, not sure what went wrong with album #2 though. It's possibly one of the most boring records i've ever heard in my life.

Hole
Nobody's Daughter
A by the numbers re-hash of their previous [and much better] albums. Their sound is beyond tired at this point, and Courtney's endless screaming and whaling bores me. Time to hang it up guys, it's not 1994 anymore.


BEST SONGS
They're all on YouTube, so just give them a search if you want to hear them...


20 // One [Know Your Name] Swedish House Mafia ft. Pharrell
With so much dance/house filling radio this year, this was the only one that left any sort of lasting impression on me.

19
// Dreaming Goldfrapp
Their new album got a mixed reception, but i liked it. This is my favourite from the record.

18 // Oh My God Usher ft. will.i.am
So many urban acts are jumping ship into dance music this year. I won't lie, it annoys me, but out of all of them, Usher came up with the best product.

17 // Take It Off Ke$ha
There's always room for some sleazy pop on my end of year list.

16 // The Flood Katie Melua
I find her rather boring usually, but this song is so beautifully produced.

15 // Ride Ciara ft. Ludacris
It deserved to be a bigger hit.

14 // Devotion Hurts
The build up to the end section of the song is gorgeous.

13 // Clap Your Hands Sia
I find it hard to not listen to it a few times in a row when playing it. Great chorus.

12 // Dance The Way I Feel Ou Es Le Swimming Pool
Shame the singer commited suicide this year.

11 // Cold War Janelle Monae
If i want people to hear her album, this is what i play them. Epic production.

10 // Monster Kanye West ft. Jay Z, Rick Ross and Nicki Minaj
It's like Clash of the Titans on this song, with Nicki Minaj surprising everyone and owning the track with her crazy verse.

09 // The Space In Between How To Destroy Angels
Trent Reznor does Massive Attack.

08 // In The Dark JoJo
Not what i'd typically expect form Jojo. Guess they all gotta grow up.

07 // What's My Name Rihanna ft. Drake
I could have added the song, Skin, from her new album here since it was my personal favourite, but What's My Name comes in at a very close second and it's definitely the best pop song on 2010.

06 // Waiting For The End Linkin Park
I've always loved Chester's voice, the hook in the chorus to this is perfect.

05 // Hypnotize U N.E.R.D.
Sexy!.

04 // Do It Like A Dude Jessie J
I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot of her in 2011. This song is a great start.

03 // Roman's Revenge Nicki Minaj ft. Eminem
Best collaboration of 2010.

02 // Whip My Hair Willow Smith
It's easy to forget she's only 10. Unlike Justin Bieber, her music isn't corny and shit. It reminds me a lot of old skool TLC.

01 // T iamamiwhoami
After a whole bunch of individual songs were released on iTunes, this one stuck out the most for me. I love it.


WORST SONGS

I Like It Enrique Iglesias
People loved this shit, i have no idea why. It's so obnoxious sounding.

The Time [Dirty Bit] The Black Eyed Peas
I've said it once and i'll say it again, will.i.am uses samples in the worst ways.

Nothing On You B.O.B.
God he's so fucking boring.

Vanity Christina Aguilera
Want to know how to make yourself sound like a complete fucking tool. Listen to this song. Worst. Lyrics. Ever.
BEST MUSIC VIDEO

How To Destroy Angels The Space In Between
Trent Reznor's love of David Lynch has never been more obvious than in this video.



Honorable mention:
Janealle Monae Cold War
The simplicity of this video is what makes it work so well. Janealle has such an interesting face.




WORST MUSIC VIDEO

Keri Hilson The Way You Love Me
What i assume is supposed to be a sexy and dirty display of female sexual power, turns out to be one of the most unsexy and hilarious displays of music video sluttery i have ever seen. Stick to Christina's "Dirrty" video to see this pulled off a little better.



Dishonorable mention:
Jessica Mauboy Get Em Girls
Budget restrictions are a big player in why this video looks so cheap, but that still doesn't excuse the obvious lack of a stylist and the unflattering lighting and camera angles that flood nearly every shot of this cheap wreak of a music video. Believe it or not, this video was shot by the very talented Hype Williams, whos given us some great videos over the years. The only decent video he turned out this year was Nicki Minaj's "Massive Attack", both "Get Em Girls" by Jessica and Kesha's "We R Who We R" seem to be displaying some sort of new hideous style Hype is presenting to us all where he purposely goes out of his way to create ugly and high school student level music video production. Weird.





BEST MOVIES

10 // A Single Man
The cinematography and direction is perfect. Colin Firth puts in a great performance.

09 // Tron Legacy
Anyone who doesn't want to visit The Grid after seeing this movie has something wrong with them. Give me a damn Light Cycle!.

08 // Splice
People either love this or hate it. It's an odd film that explores some.....uh....questionable themes, but i guess that's why i liked it.

07 // Scott Pilgrim vs The World
If you have Epilepsy, don't see this movie! If you love comics, video games and general geek epicness, you'll love this. It's like an orgasm for the eyes.

06 // The Kids Are All Right
What i liked most about this movie was that it didn't glorify the reality of gay families. Annette Benning was great in this.

05 // The Social Network
Who would have guessed a Facebook movie would be so tense? This had the best script of the year for me.

04 // The Runaways
Kristen Stewart peeing on guitars, Dakota Fanning passing out on drugs, what's not to love?


03 // Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Some people may feel like this lacked some action, but i thought it had more than enough. It was the emotional journey of the characters that made this my favourite Potter movie so far.

02 // Tangled
Toy Story 3 may be everyones favourite animated film of the year, but this was mine. The mix of comedy and action was perfect. The songs were great too, surprisingly.

01 // Kick Ass
A super hero movie like no other!. The over the top violence and unapologetic use of a 10 year old girl as an Assassin made it all the more better.


Honorable mentions:

Inception


Triangle

Twilight: Eclipse

Easy A

Toy Story 3

Paranormal Activity 2

The Loved Ones

Tomorrow When The War Began

Let Me In


WORST MOVIES

Sex and the City 2
What was once a well written TV series with a likeable cast, has now turned into an unintentional comedy about the most narcassistic women on Earth. I loved the series, i loved the first movie, and i gave S&C 2 a fair review after my initial viewing of the film. During my second vieweing though, the cracks looked a lot bigger, and although this has some funny moments, it also well and truly run itself off the tracks. If you love this movie or can relate to it in any way, i'm sorry to tell you, but you're a dumb bitch.

Law Abiding Citizen
It's a stupid over blown by the numbers thriller with nothing going for it except Gerard Butler being naked for a scene. Law Abiding Shitizen.

Prince of Persia
Not a Persion in sight, they're all American or British, which is a bit odd considering....you know....it's set in Persia. There's also a few other things missing..........like a good script, good set design, and a good story. It's like a made for TV piece of crap, and will someone please stop Joel Schmuck...i mean Jole Shumacker [no, i can't fucking spell it] from producing films, they always blow chunks.

Legion
Theres a reason why this was so under the radar when it came out, because everyone knew it wasn't worth the time or the money to see. The fate of the humanity is apparently at stake in this, and we are told to expect a war between Angels and Demons.........we got none of that oddly enough. What we did get though, was a whole bunch of annoying people stuck in a diner for 90 minutes and an open ended finale leaving room for a sequel. Why anyone making that film assumed people would want to actually see a sequal is hilarious.

Person of the Year

Nicki Minaj
She's been around in the underground hip hop scene for a few good years now. I didn't get my first taste of her until recently though when she released her single Massive Attack earlier this year, and since then, it's been one long Minaj love affair. Forget the Lil Kim comparisons, beyond the Barbie image, Nicki is her own creation. She fused together hip hop and pop and gave us one of the most versatile rap albums of the year, while also making endless amounts of memorable cameos on other peoples songs for the last 12 months. She was stealing scene after scene on nearly everything she was popping up on, Diddy's "Hello, Good Morning", Trey'z 'Bottoms Up" and of course, Kanye's "Monster".

Don't think Nicki is only just a rapper though, she's not. She brings an interesting mix of creativity to everything she does, whether it's writing her own raps on EVERY song she puts out [no ghost writers thankyouverymuch], dabbling in some singing on her debut album, and setting out to not only be a musician, but creating a Barbie Empire that will showcase every side of her very multi-dimensional personality.

Not only has she finally set up her own career in the music bizz, but she's also opened the doors for other female rappers to come forward once again and make a mark on the music charts. Nicki had the first #1 rap single with 'Your Love' earlier this year, a female rapper hasn't accomplished that for the last 7 years. Her debut album, 'Pink Friday' also had the second highest selling first week sales for a female rapper in the history of rap music, coming in second to Lauryn Hill's classic album, 'The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill'.


Nicki has been spreading her seed all over the place this year, and 2010 has only been the beginning!..............2011 will no doubt be the year that Nicki sets up her entire future with even more record breaking acheivements and more obsessed fans who follow her every move.

Nicki does things HER way, she isn't anyones puppet and she's crafting the career for herself SHE wants. Long gone are the days when Female MC's are catering to their male creators and doing what everyone expects of them.

Nicki stands on her own two feet, she's her own boss. IT'S BARBIE, BITCH.








Until next year :)




Thursday, November 25, 2010

Nicki Minaj
Pink Friday [2010]
Standard edition: 3.5/5
Deluxe edition: 4/5

Pink Friday offers something for everybody. Its accessible to hip hop fans and people who may not typically follow rap music . Nicki promised to showcase many sides of her personality on her debut album, and she's certainly delivered on that promise.
The standard 13 track edition of Pink Friday isn't full of club bangers. Instead of just throwing together a "hood rat" album, Nicki has taken a more mid temp approach to the style of music she's used on the record. This may be a negative for people who were wanting a more heavier sound throughout the debut, but there are still some great hooks and nicely produced tracks throughout most of the track listing regardless. The album is surprisingly more melodic than i expected, and lyrically it's a very personal record. Musically, it also crosses the lines between hip hop and pop, giving her songs their own distinct flair. Nicki doesn't seem like she wants to be pigeon holed as an artist, and her varied taste in music which she's spoken openly about is evident in her output.

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I'm The Best 3.5/5
This track is quintessential Nicki from start to finish. It's bubbly and upbeat without being cheesy, a perfect reflection of her personality. It's a good opener for the album because the lyrics address her climb to the top from her old skool days to now. It's also a nice indicator for listeners as to what type of album they're in for [which isn't your traditional rap album].

Roman's Revenge 5/5
The production on this song is insane, the music is heavy and chaotic, and the raps are angry and loud. The energy in the track is enough to make the walls of your house shake. The song features Eminem who appears as his alter ego, 'Slim Shady'. He battles it out along with Nicki's gay alter ego, 'Roman Zolonski'. They throw rhymes at each other perfectly, and the song only gets weirder and more entertaining during the last minute of the track when Nicki channels Roman's Mother, 'Martha', who warns Roman of the trouble he's causing in her heavy British accent. It's an incredible song that showcases Nicki's snappy lyrics nicely, as well as having the most unique production out of all the songs on the album.

Did It On'em 4/5
Dis be street, dis be hood, the most ghetto song on the album. It features a very slow, grinding, heavy bass line with Nicki's vulgar rapping on top of it. The lyrics are also fucking hilarious. This reminds me a lot of old skool mix tape Nicki.

Right Thru Me 4/5
It's got a great hook, and it's very romantic sounding.

Fly 4/5
This features one of the best choruses on the album. The song has potential hit single written all over it, it'd sound perfect on radio. I really like it, it's very pretty. The chorus is sung by Rihanna.

Save Me 5/5
Nicki sings on this instead of rapping, and her voice sounds quiet nice on record when trying to hit a few higher notes. What makes the song though is the music, it's a nice really pretty drum and base, down tempo instrumentation that flows nicely.

Moment 4 Life 4/5
This song has really grown on me over time. It's got a great mid-tempo beat and Drake's rap fits nicely in with Nicki's parts. It's an obvious single and perfect for radio.

Check It Out 3/5
I hated it when i first heard it, but it's since warmed up to me, but only a little. I'll always have a love/hate relationship with this song. Parts of it i like, other parts i can't stand. I need to be in the mood for it, but it can be catchy at the right time. It's the sample that drives me nuts on this, it's just so shit sounding. I do like the second half of the song though when the beat breaks down a lot more and it gets funkier. Could i do without it? yes, but i don't mind that it's there. will.i.am is featured on this.

Blazin' 4/5
will.i.am should take some notes from this song, this is how you use a sample perfectly. I really love the synths in this, the production is really strong. The song has a strong anthem vibe to it, love how vast it sounds, and the build up to the chorus is perfect. Kanye West raps on this.

Here I Am 5/5
I really love this song. The heavy synths throughout the verses, and the loud motorbike revving sound effect after each chorus sounds really fucking cool. It's dark and grimey, i only wish it was longer. It's my second favourite song from the album.

Dear Old Nicki 3/5
It's one of the weaker tracks on the album, mostly because the production is a bit generic and dull. I don't mind it being on the record, but i find it slows down the last section of the album a bit too much. Lyrically it's fantastic, i love how it's written in letter format and she makes some great personal references in it. It's cute, but very forgettable.

Your Love 4/5
The first #1 rap single by a female MC in years!.....great song, well written, very catchy, very simple.

Last Chance 2.5/5

Probably the weakest track on the album for me. It's certainly catchy, and i can see how others may like it, but it's a bit too sickely sweet for my taste. It's listenable, but i would have gone with one of the bonus tracks as the closer for the album, preferably 'Catch Me'. Natasha Beningifled is featured on this.

Super Bass [Deluxe bonus] 4/5

This could have fit nicely onto the standard edition of Pink Friday. The music during the verses and Nicki''s quicker than usual raps are a nice build up to a very upbeat and catchy chorus. A good summer track.

Blow Ya Mind [Deluxe bonus] 4/5
Similar to Did It Oném, this reminds me a lot of old skool Nicki. I love the mix of the guitar in the chorus and heavy bass of the verses. It's a heavy sounding track, it would sound great live and loud.

Muny [Deluxe bonus] 4/5
Another bonus track that should have made the standard tracklisting. It has the same sort of hook that gets stuck in your head like Beyonce's "Single Ladies"did.

Wave Ya Hands [Best Buy Deluxe only bonus] 4/5
I like the simplistic approach to the music in this. It has a nice anthem sort of vibe to it, like something she'd sing to a massive crowd of fans.

Catch Me [Best Buy Deluxe only bonus] 5/5
It's amazing that a song as good as this was left off the standard release of the album, especially considering the few questionable songs Nicki opted to use instead of it. This is my favourite song from the record, the blasts of electronic effects after each chorus and the endless hypnotic drumming beat throughout the instrumentation is perfect. I fucking love this song.

Girls Falls Like Dominoes [iTunes only bonus] 3.5/5
The sample in this is a bit too heavy, the chorus should have been taken back a notch and worked Nicki's vocals into it more. Either way though, this is very catchy and the lyrics are funny.
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The first half of Pink Friday is stronger than the second half. It opens up nicely with some heavy club songs and good ballads. The middle section of the record consists of mostly mid-tempo type tracks, so a couple of more dancier tunes would have helped the album flow a little easier towards the end of the track listing. Still, it's real flaws are far and few between, with peoples reactions to the album being based more on what type of rap they prefer listening to, rather than the actual production of the songs, which in my opinion for the most part is very nicely done.

It's the deluxe edition of the album that livens up the record nicely though, with a big chunk of club tracks extending out the track listing into a more varied play list. Any slight short comings from the standard edition are ironed out nicely once you get a better mix of slower and faster songs. A few of the bonus tracks could have replaced a few of the standard album songs, but i can listen to both versions of the album and be content with both.

Pink Friday is a good way to welcome Nicki to the music industry as a viable artist with versatility. She isn't just a blow up doll with big tits, she can be quiet introspective and is capable of writing some great lyrics. As an entire project [combining all the songs from each edition], it's an enjoyable listen with her stamp firmly punched into the music. The album will definitely draw in an eclectic mix of fans, which is what will help her career in the long run.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Rihanna
Loud [2010]
5/5

For her first few albums, Rihanna was very much a throw away pop princess. There's nothing wrong with that, i am a Britney fan after all, but Rihanna never seemed to really click with me and i never thought all that much about her outside of a few decent songs here and there. Once Rated R arrived in 2009, she finally delivered something worth my while and i fell in love with the album.
Loud follows a very similar pattern to Rated R. It's more cohesive when compared to her first few albums, it's fairly mid-tempo heavy with only a couple "club bangha" tracks, and it also offers a big serving of synths and electric guitar. In a way, Loud is the perfect sister album to Rated R. Rated R is the darker more urban sounding first half, Loud is the slightly lighter more dance/rock lite second part.

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S&M 4/5
It sounds like the album could use a little intro to start things off, but it doesn't have one, it just goes straight into track #1. Not that i mind, the opening song is really hot. It's made for the clubs, and reminds me of a darker, sexier 'Only Girl'. It sounds like a good single, but i'm not sure how well the lyrics will go down on the radio.

What's My Name? 5/5
I absolutely love this song to death. The track is one complete hook from start to finish, the melody, the arrangement, it's perfect. This song features Drake.

Cheers [Drink To That] 3.5/5
This track samples Avril Lavigne's "I'm With You", i'm not sure if the song needed it really, the rest of the track without it sounds perfectly fine. It's a grower.

Fading 4/5
It's filler, but good filler. The electronic lite music and the chorus are very pretty.

Only Girl [In The World] 5/5
I know it's an odd word to describe a euro dance song, but this is really gorgeous. The chorus is so massive and epic, the video featuring Rihanna shouting off the mountain tops and jumping through the air is a perfect visual to go along with the vibe of this track. It's so vast and grand sounding, i love it.
California King Bed 3.5/5
I didn't like this when i first heard it, the verses are weak and it's my least favourite track on the album. It's grown on me over time though and i enjoy it now, the chorus is nicely sung. This is a big favourite among others listeners.

Man Down 5/5
The most interesting song vocally and production wise on the album. The chorus gets stuck in your head something crazy, and the Caribbean vibe of the music fits Rihanna's voice perfectly.

Raining Men 4/5
It comes across as filler, but it's good filler. I love the heavy low synths that come in during the chorus. It's the most ghetto track on the album. Queen of Rap, Nicki Minaj is featured on this.

Complicated 4/5
Some people think California King Bed is "THE" ballad off the album, but this is the one i prefer personally. I love how she sings the chorus.
Skin 5/5
Heavy synths, sexy vocals, slow pumping beat, it's the "G4L" off the album, but better. The song is really great from the start, but turns amazing once the electric guitar comes blasting in during the last section of the song. Gives me chills. My favourite track from the album and my favourite Rihanna song ever.

Love The Way You Like [Part II] 4/5
This is much better than the version Eminem released, and it's been given a soft rock make over that really suits Rihanna's voice. The chorus on this is one of the best ones i've ever heard on a pop song. This features a quick Eminem rap, not needed, but i still like him on it.

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As great as Loud is, the album title is very misleading. There is nothing Loud about the record, it's a fairly low key sounding collection of songs, and the lead single [Only Girl] really shouldn't be used as a way to showcase what the entire album is like. If you're expecting Good Girl Gone Bad part 2, you'll be very disappointed. As i said before, Loud follows the same pattern as Rated R, so if her last album wasn't really your thing, then this will most likely bore you to tears. If you're like me though, and prefer Rihanna doing more melodic slower music with a few faster tracks thrown in, then you'll love Loud.

Rihanna continues to grow as an artist, and after a second offering from her that i've fallen in love with, i'm officially keeping her on my radar. Rated R is still a big favourite of mine, and i honestly didn't think she'd be able to top it, but she has with Loud. I think this album is perfect, and it's the best pop album of the year for me.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Social Network 4.5/5
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake.
Directed by: David Fincher.

A story about the founders of the social networking website, Facebook.

Who would have guessed a movie about Facebook would have turned out to be so controversial?
I was unaware of the back story behind how Facebook was created. I knew a few lawsuits had come up over the last few years against it's creator, but i didn't really pay all that much attention to them. After seeing The Social Network, it's almost unbelievable to me how over the top and ridiculous the entire history behind something like Facebook is. All this time i assumed Facebook was the result of one geeky Harvard student [Mark Zuckerberg] who just got lucky by creating a website that happened to go viral across the world. That is partly true, but there's a lot more mud slinging and backstabbing that went along behind closed doors during the process of Facebook hitting the internet big time.

How much of this movie is true is something we may never be 100% sure about. The movie is based upon a book which contains the stories of the people who sued Zuckerberg over the ideas he apparently stole from them. The cases themselves were real, and the people did get massive amounts of money from the lawsuits, so in that sense they were payed their dues FOR A REASON. What does get mentioned a lot in other reviews about this film however, is how accurate the portrayal of Zuckerberg actually is. He is no doubt a genius, but is he the conniving lying snake they show to the audience in The Social Network?..............Zuckerberg doesn't seem to think so from what he's said in interviews regarding the movie. How accurate he may be in the film doesn't really matter though, because the films storyline is based around an actual case anyway, so the stories authenticity is as up in the air as it would have been in court in real life during the trials anyway.
The only part of the story that really made me question just how much the filmakers knew about Zuckerberg, was the inclusion of a girlfriend who breaks up with him during the first scene of the film. She pretty much becomes the reason why the website was created in the first place, and pops up a couple times during the story as an obvious strong link between Zuckerberg and some of the decisions his character makes. There's also an interesting scene at the end of the film, which is one of only a few hints at Zuckerberg having any sort of heart at all throughout the story. In an interview only a few days ago, Zuckerberg denies having anything to do with a girl who influenced his decisions in making the website. Whether or not that's true, it was still an interesting part of the story, and it broke things up nicely.

The film features a fairly low key cast, but they all do incredibly well with the material they are given. Jesse Eisenberg plays Facebook creator, Mark Zuckerberg perfectly. It's his endless smart ass banter that keeps a lot of very heavy dialog filled scenes flowing easily. He was definitely the standout. Justin Timberlake played Napster creator, Sean Parker surprisingly well. I wasn't sure if he'd fit the part, but i think he did. He had some great moments. In fact, if that is how Sean Parker really is? i'd be fucking scared of ever doing business with the guy. What a hideous person. There were twins in the film who did great with their roles as members of the trio who gave Zuckerberg the idea to create Facebook that did a fantastic job as well, but i can't seem to find any trace of them online. I did learn however that they weren't actually twins at all, but one guy who's face was digitally pasted onto a second person, haha. Nice subtle effect.
I've heard a few complaints about the lack of strong female characters in the movie. I'm not really sure if it needed any to be honest, and i don't see why it's even an issue. Maybe there isn't a prominent female character in the story because there wasn't one involved in the real life case to begin with?.....................at least that's how i saw it.

Aside from a really engaging story and perfect casting, the movies strong point is most definitely the script. I wouldn't be surprised if it's awarded an Oscar next year at the Academy Awards. Aaron Sorkin did an AMAZING job with the dialog. There are times when you are so immersed in the scenes because of how they're written. I loved it.
David Fincher as usual shot the film beautifully, and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross created a very cool soundtrack.

It's amazing that someone so socially incapable like Zuckerberg managed to create the biggest online social network in the whole world. Then again, maybe it being online is what made him so perfect at being the person to bring something like that to life. If he's as awkward, blog obsessed and techno geeky as the film depicts him, then he well and truly deserves to sit in his CEO chair at Facebook head office.
It's hard to like Zuckerberg, and it's even more hard to like Sean Parker. Their intelligence unfortunately has a dark side, and with a great idea between friends, comes a lot of arrogance and self importance that leads to a lot of shockingly bad actions within personal relationships.
I can't help but laugh at the irony of it all though, a group of people coming together to create a social website that connects everyone together, yet they themselves seem barely capable of doing that in real life. It's just bizarre, and it pushes the point of maybe having a good helping of REAL social interaction OUTSIDE, instead of just in front of your computer day in and day out.

As much as i enjoyed Inception, it failed to live up to the hype for me. The Social Network however does. I was nearly turned off by how much i was hearing about it, but i forced myself to check it out and i'm glad i did. It was one of the best films of the year.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Blu-ray review: THE EXORCIST


Film: After years and years of waiting for The Exorcist to hit Blu-ray, it's FINALLY getting the treatment it deserves for fans.
Both the extended cut [also known as 'The Version You've Never Seen'] and the original 1973 cut are featured in this Blu-ray set. Fans have always de
bated over which version is better. Personally, even though the original cut of the film is brilliant, and does have a more darker ending [which i prefer], the extended features some nice added scenes and effects, most notably the epic spider walk scene which has become such a favourite among viewers over the years, it's hard to imagine such a bizarre and creepy scene not in the film, so i'll go with the extended cut as my personal favourite.

The film is presented in 1080p High Def, and it looks fantastic. You can see marks on faces that you haven't seen before, and the AMAZING sound design in the film will no doubt sound great with a good pair of surround speakers [which i sadly don't have, tear].


Packing: It comes packaged in Warner's very nicely made [and popular] hard cover booklet Blu-ray style sets. The cover features a slight foil finish, so the front image is a bit metallic and shimmers all pretty. Each disc sits behind the front and back cover, with the middle section of the packaging consisting of a cool 38 page booklet featuring images and footnotes about the movie and the cast. There's also a separate letter from the director about the Blu-ray release.



Special Features:

Disc 1:

Extended Director's Cut [2000 Version]
There's a commentary by Director William Friedkin on this version that i haven't heard because it apparently covers all of what is found in the special features anyway. I'll give it a listen at some point though i'm sure. All features on this disc are in HD as well. The major features are....

- Raising Hell: Filming The Exorcist [30 min approx]
This is the first of 3 newly made documentaries about the filming of the film. There's lots of new behind the scenes footage in this. You'll get a lot of Linda on set and a good look into how a few of the effects were created. It's amazing to see how it was all done with NO computer effects.

- The Exorcist Locations: Georgetown Then and Now [8 min approx]
A good short doco about the locations the movie was filmed in. There's some cool comparisons of Georgetown now and then which are fun to see. Did you know the beginning scene of the movie was actually filmed in Iraq!?........every weird looking person in that opening shot were just street people.

- Faces of Evil: The Different Versions of The Exorcist [10 min approx]
Both the director and writer of The Exorcist speak passionately about what they like and don't like between both versions. Interesting hearing their thoughts on it.

Disc 2:

Original Theatrical Cut [1973 Version]
As well as the features i talk about below, there's also 2 commentaries for this version, one by the Director and another by Producer/Screenwriter. There is a story board and concept art gallery, as well as a video introduction by William Friedkin and rough footage of the original ending. The film itself is featured in HD, but the special features aren't on this disc.

- The Fear of God: The Making of The Exorcist [78 min approx]
A pretty cool feature length doco that first aired back when The Exorcist was re-released to cinemas in 2000. It's more distinctive than the other features on disc 1, and even though there is a guy hosting it, he isn't annoying and we don't see a lot of him. Less backstage footage than disc 1, but more cast stories and interviews.

- Interview Gallery: The Original Cut, The Final Reckoning and Stairway To Heaven [9 min approx]
A bit of this is featured in The Fear of God, this is more of it. Mostly for die-hard fans who want to hear some more personal thoughts from the Director and Writer. I liked it.

Overall: As a complete package, it's a very nicely put together, and the fancy book casing adds that little extra something to make it more special. It's great to finally have a worthy release for the film, it took fucking long enough.


Film: 5/5
Special features: 4/5
Blu-ray overall: 5/5

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Paranormal Activity 2 [2010]
Starring: Nobodies
Directed by: Tod Williams
4/5

I loved Paranormal Activity 1, i still do, but i was really not very interested in seeing a second installment created. Once the second movie went into production, i was mildly interested, but pretty much sure it would be a mess. Now with PA2 released, i was surprised to see yet ANOTHER slew of strong reviews [just like movie 1] commenting on what a good job the producers have done a second time around. Although the buzz was great, i still went into PA2 with an open mind, but low exceptions.
I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome of the film, in fact, it worked better as a film than movie 1 did at times.

The first PA relied solely on atmosphere and scares. There was a bit of background about the characters who were experiencing the demonic haunting, but overall, it was a fairly low key plot based movie that was all about what happened to a couple on a daily basis, rather than a big story. That wasn't a bad thing, in fact, it worked perfectly in the first film. In PA2 however, we get the usual things that made the first movie so effective, as well as a more fleshed out storyline.

Visually and atmospherically, PA2 is pretty much the same as PA1, and in a way that detracts from how effective the movie can be at times. In PA1, you weren't sure what to expect, you didn't know how anything would look or feel, it was a NEW experience. In PA2, you know what the playing field is like this time around. You know about the night cam, the slow build ups, the endless daytime goings on between characters, and the types of "bumps" and "bangs" that occur over the course of the haunting. Still, as less fresh as some moments can be, the feeling of danger and dread is still effective, just not as strong.
What really separates part 2 from part 1 is the connections between story lines between both films. It keeps things interesting. This time, you actually KNOW something about these people because of what happened in the first film. That familiarity brings on a new kind of creep factor, which puts a different spin on how you feel about what you see on screen. It's not fear of the unknown anymore, it's the KNOWING that actually makes you ask more questions because you are aware of what to expect.

Scare tactic familiarity aside, there are some genuinely creepy moments in this movie. Although the budget for the film has been duplicated by 10, they still keep everything fairly realistic and minimal when it comes to what we see on screen. The sudden creaks in the dead of night, and the intimidating thuds that rattle the house grab a strong hold of the viewer all over again. But it's the more over the top events that make the audience REALLY have a lot of fun. In fact, one scene in particular in the kitchen scared the living day lights out of me, and the ending of the film really keeps you on the edge of your seat.

As i mentioned before, the story does open up a lot more which for me is what really pushes this movie from a 3/5 to a 4. Without spoiling anything, there are a couple very cool twists that occur throughout the film that i didn't expect. The story also gets a bit more of a fleshed out background, while still not revealing too much. In PA1 we were dealing only with a young girl, this time, the haunting spreads out and reveals a lot more about the family Katie from PA1 came from. I actually REALLY look forward to seeing how deep they take this story, because there's some seriously interesting and creepy history behind why all this demonic evil is happening. I won;t say anything else though, best to go in with as little knowledge as possible.

One major complaint i heard from fans of the first PA was the cast. A lot of people found Katie and Meka rather annoying. Personally, they didn't bother me. This time around though, i think the characters are a little more likable, especially the young teenage girl in the family who actually TRIES to find out wtf is going on. The addition of the dog and baby make the stakes a bit higher as well.

PA2 really could have gone down the wrong path, but i'm surprised to say that they have taken the story into a pretty cool direction. There are still unanswered questions, and enough mystery to keep things fresh for a 3rd film, but the scares come second to story development this time around, which works in the sequels favor because it doesn't make it pointless.
If you didn't like part 1, there's nothing new for you here. If you liked PA1 and are curious for more, definitely give this a go. I hope this becomes a trilogy, i'm having a really great time with this series for now. Blair Witch 2, THIS AIN'T, the critics are rights, see it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Let Me In [2010]
Starring: Chloe Moretz, Kodi Smit-McPhee
Directed by: Matt reeves
4/5

A bullied young boy befriends a young female vampire who lives in secrecy with her guardian.

I've seen the original Swedish version of this film that came out a couple years ago, and even though i didn't think it was the untouchable masterpiece everyone else thought it was, i still enjoyed it. It's a film i learned to appreciate more on repeat viewings and i can see why it has had such a strong following, but it didn't blow my mind.
When i heard it was being re-made, i was actually curious to see what else they could do with the story, maybe this time they'd make a version that captivated me a little more than the original.
Is the American version better than the Swedish one?......as an overall product, i'd say yes, but both films are pretty much similar for the most part, with the American version upping the anti a little in certain parts.

Both films share a similar cold atmospheric feel to them. I was glad they kept that moody tone for the remake. It's the main part of the original that i remember the most. The American version takes place in snow covered New Mexico, and it works surprisingly well. The feelings of isolation and dread in the locations the characters occupy reflect the two main leads and their personalities perfectly.

The casting is pretty much spot on, with the most obvious change being the vampire girl in the story [named Abby in the U.S version]. In the Swedish version, the character had a more interesting quality to her because she looked more androgynous, which added something different to her presence on screen. In the U.S. remake however, she very much looks like just a girl. That's not a bad thing though, because Chloe Moretz still brings her own unique quality to the character without looking like she's simply copying the actress from the original film. Chloe was actually really great in this. She played depressed well, she said a lot with her face without having to go over board with obvious emotion, similar to what the original actress did.
What i liked more this time around was how Abby was depicted in vampire form. In the original, her vampire appearance was a lot more subtle, in the remake, it's much more obvious. She has creepy wide icey blue eyes with veiny skin. Her vampire attacks are a lot more vicious than the original character as well. The feeling of danger was a lot more obvious in the remake, Abby was scary when she lost control.
The bullies in the U.S. version who victimize the young boy in the story came across a lot more dangerous as well. The violence and gore was increased, but not in an over the top sort of way. It was just enough to give the very sombre and quiet tone of the movie the punch it needed. That was lacking a little with the original in my opinion.

Hints at Abby's gender are only slightly referred to in the script, it definitely wasn't as much of an obvious hint as it was in the original [no scarred vagina scene this time around], but Abby's strange relationship between her male carer seemed to point to a more obvious hidden meaning than it did in the original, from what i can remember of it anyway.
Some scenes were executed better than others when you compare both films, for instance, the scene where Abby walks into her young friends house without an invitation was executed a bit more interestingly in the original, but, the scene where Abby's female victim is strapped to a hospital bed feeling the vampire change within her take over had A LOT more impact in the remake. In fact, it was probably my favourite scene.

What you'll get with 'Let Me In' is a VERY faithful remake of an already interesting and original foreign film. One isn't too much better than the other, but personally i preferred the more dangerous feeling remake to the more low key Swedish version. Don't get too excited, the remake isn't some pumped up super vampire movie, not at all, but it does feel like they pushed the vampire aspect of the story a little further by making Abby seem much more out of control and demonic on screen.
If i knew someone who had only seen ONE version of the film, that wouldn't bother me, because they're both good in their own ways. If i HAD to recommend one over the other though, i'd actually go for the U.S. version.
I know die hard fans of the original want this remake to be shit, but i'm sorry to say, it really isn't. Not only is it on par with the Swedish version, but in some ways, it's better.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Katy Perry
Teenage Dream [2010]
4/5

I haven't been the worlds biggest Katy fan over the last couple of years. There's been a real "star quality" missing from her that made me not take as much notice as i probably should have during her first album. Then again, her first album was never really something that grabbed me all that much anyway back when it was released. As a debut, it did the job, it had strong enough singles, but as a complete album, it fell a little short. 'I Kissed A Girl' and 'Hot and Cold' are NOT indications of how the rest of her debut album sounded. In fact, it moves pretty strongly away from her pop singles into more of a Avril Lavigne-esque rock album. That's not a bad thing per se, the album certainly has some decent songs on it, but it's all a bit boring, and didn't bring anything new to the table.
With competition from other popstars like Rihanna, Britney, Ke$ha, and of course Lady Gaga, i always felt Katy really needed to step up her game once she released a second album. There isn't any room for being under the radar when these girls are competing year after year with new music and controversy and whatever else is selling their careers on a daily basis to their rabid fans. Katy needed to get the big guns out if she wanted to stick around. Thankfully on her new album, 'Teenage Dream', she does!.

I'll admit, i haven't liked the lead single, 'California Girls' at all over the last few months, so my interest in giving the new album a try was very small. Once her second single, 'Teenage Dream', was released though, i started to really like what i was hearing, so i gave the album a chance, and i'm glad that i did.

Katy's really stepped up her game on this album, Max Martin and Dr Luke have created potential hit singles with pretty much every song on the record, and the upbeat 'California Girls' isn't the only type of direction the rest of the album goes in. There are other summer themed songs like, 'The One That Got Away' and the very cute, 'Last Friday Night' [which i didn't like at first]. These songs remind me a lot of her first album, but sound a lot more polished and catered to pop radio.
The album highlights for me though are the less Summery songs. Tracks like 'Circle The Drain' and 'E.T.' REALLY have her going for the pop queen crown and pushing over all her popstar competition. The production on those two tracks is perfect, and they're both my favourites off the album. Other highlights are, 'Fireworks', 'Who Am I Living For' and 'Pearl'.

The great thing about this album is that it isn't all just superficial pop, Katy actually writes a lot of personal songs on the album. This record is half a love album [thanks to Russel Brand] and half a bitter break up album [thanks to her ex, Travis??]. It's an interesting mix, you can tell the album was created in two very different periods of her life.

There were a couple songs that didn't do much for me when i first heard this album, but on repeat listens, i can happily say there isn't ONE song that i don't like from the record. Even 'California Girls' works better as part of an entire track listing, rather than on it's own.
Katy Perry has FINALLY made a bleep on my radar, hopefully she keeps up with making strong pop albums in the future and drops the 2002 sounding Avril songs from her first album. The pop sound does more for her.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Favourite Films Of ALL TIME! #18
Closer [2004]
Starring: Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Clive Owen
Directed by: Mike Nichols





"Lying is the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off"







Holding hands, kissing by the beach, finding your one true love...............the perfect mix that goes into a romantic movie. We see it a lot, not that it's a bad thing, i'm a sucker for them just as much as the next person, but what happens when you take away all the fantasy bullshit, and actually LOOK at real life relationships?. Are they as picture perfect as our imaginations like to make them?.
If you're looking for a movie to show you the humorous ups and downs of love, you're not looking in the right place with Closer. In fact, Closer may force you to run for the hills
screaming in terror the next time a possible relationship heads your way!.

Closer is about 2 couples, Dan [Jude Law] and Alice [Natalie Portman], and Anna [Julia Roberts and Larry [Clive Owen]. Dan is a writer, and Alice [who is much younger]
is a waitress [and ex stripper]. Anna is a photographer, and Larry is a doctor.

It's complicated how these 2 couples cross paths, but basically........Dan meets Alice after she gets hit by a car, after starting a relationship with her, Dan then meets Anna who is hired to take his publicity photo, he falls in lust with her, and then Anna bumps into Larry when an online sex chat between Dan [who pretends to be a woman] and Larry accidently places him in Anna's path, Larry and Anna start a relationship. Eventually, Anna and Dan begin an affair, and the interaction between both couples gets more intense and personal as each relationship begins to crumble. By the midway point of the story, everything escelates into a mess, as each person struggles to deal with lies and betrayel.
What grabbed me most when i first watched Closer was how honestly the film was written. There's no sugar coating, no unrealistic concepts about what love is or how relationships work. People can fall out of love, and couples can be very cruel to each other.
For a serious drama, Closer is surprisingly easy to watch repeatedly, mostly due to how quickly the story moves along. We get no obvious time frame of the events that take place in the story, it all unfolds so fluidly with no need for obvious time frames.

The acting in Closer is what stands out the most after the AMAZING writing. In fact, you've never seen such FILTH come out of Julia's mouth before!. Jude is good in his role, but his character is so unlikeable, you'll spend most of the film wanting to punch him in the fucking mouth. The stand outs for me however were Natalie and Clive. Both of them share a scene in the the movie set in a strip club that features one of the most badass exchanges of dialog put on screen EVER!. The amount of sexual chemistry between them both will make your TV melt.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Salt [2010]
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Liev Shreiber.
Directed by: Pillip Noyce.
3.5/5

A CIA agent goes on the run after a defector accuses her of being a Russian Spy.

I enjoyed Salt, it was a decent little spy thriller that had some pretty cool moments. The storyline was fairly basic, but it was the "twists and turns" that kept it fresh along the way. The main problem with Salt was that it was TOO SMALL. The movie ends with an obvious lead in to a sequel, but the first film suffers a little for that, because the movie feels more like a teaser than an actual complete movie. It really felt split in half, so the abrupt ending was a bit random and i felt like i had just watched an 80 minute lead into an epic 2 and a half hour movie or something. I think it will benefit from a sequel [or part of a series] to give it a more complete feel, which was really lacking in my opinion.
There was also a lack of scale and excitement that really made the movie pack some punch. It all moves along nicely, and it's entertaining, but it all seems to just be bubbling over a little, rather than exploding with energy. I guess that may also come down to the short running time and "introduction" feel of the storyline [like i mentioned earlier], which could be bettered in a second movie.

Angelina Jolie as usual was fantastic. She's a great action star, tough, believable and incredibly beautiful. You can't take your eyes off her, and she really helped the whole thing hold together a bit more. She looks like she could kick your ass really hard, she was great.
The rest of the cast were good too, Liev did well and i liked his interaction with Jolie, they had good chemistry, but sadly that wasn't explored as much as i would have liked because Salt goes on the run so early into the film. I also think Salt and the other CIA agent who was tracking her had some good chemistry too, i hope we see a stronger relationship established between the two of them future films.

Reviews for this have been mostly steady, but some have criticized the story for being a little over the top, especailly when it came to Salt' abilities as a spy. I dunno, it didn't really bother me to be honest with you, she claimed she was the only one like her in the world, so maybe she was just a complete badass who had amazing skills. I did think her lift leap was a tad far fetched though, is she Spider Man? lol. Anyway, no biggie, it is a movie after all, and there were some other really great action moments. Salt's chase from the interrogation room, through to her scaling her apartment building and then jumping between trucks on the freeway was pretty badass.

It's nothing you need to run to cinemas to see, and it doesn't reach any major heights, but it is entertaining enough and i'd recommend it in between waiting for films you're dying for. What it needs now [if it happens], is a really big sequel, really branch it out, give it wings and go nuts with it. Send Salt around the world, give her mission more scale, then maybe we will have something a little more memorable on our hands.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

My Favourite Albums Of ALL TIME! #4


Marilyn Manson Mechanical Animals

Out of every Manson album out there, i think this one really showcased how creative and conceptual he could be as an artist. Although the previous album 'Antichrist Superstar' was strong, 'Mechanical Animals' proved he could do more than just hard metal.

There's a more glam rock vibe to the songs mixed in with Manson's token thrashy rock. Songs like 'Rock Is Dead' and 'Dope Show' sound like trademark shouty Marilyn, and 'Fundementally Loanesome' is probably the most unique track on the record, with obvious inspiration taken from old skool glam David Bowie.

As great as the faster songs on the album are ['Posthuman' has a bit of a Prodigy vibe to it], it's the slower tracks that really stand out for me. 'Coma White', 'The Last Day On Earth' and 'Speed of Pain' are probably my three favourite songs from the album. All 3 of them are beautifully produced with eerie synthy verses and big sweeping choruses.

As far as image goes, Manson played a lot of with gender reversal during this era. He's depicted as an androgenous alien with breasts and no genitals on the album cover, and he dropped the the darker gothic look he'd been carrying for years and coloured it up with silvers and bright colours in his costumes. It was all very Ziggy Stardust.

His popularity and relevancy has wained over the last decade, but i'm still a fan of his current music. He knows how to write a good hook, and that's not an easy thing for me to find when it comes to metal. Say what you will about how "done" he is now, but Mechanical Animals is a masterpiece, and a good representation of the highest point of his career. I love it.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs The World [2010]
Starring: Michael Cera, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick
Directed by: Edgar Wright
4/5

Scott Pilgrim must defeat his new girlfriends 7 evil exes in order to win her heart.

I haven't read the comics this film is based on, so i won't be doing any comparisons to it in my review. I am familiar with the artwork and general vibe of the comics though, so i can see how it does look like a loyal adaptation based on what little i know. From what fans have said, its a good translation from book to screen, so if you're worried about that, don't be.

As a stand alone movie, Scott Pilgrim is REALLY entertaining, in fact, it turned out a lot better than i expected. I thought i'd go in experiencing cool action and quirky scenery with not much else, but i was wrong. The characters themselves were really great, and the dialogue is odd, but funny. The movie is borderline pretentious with it's quirk factor, but not in an "i'm an asshole, punch me" way. It's nothing like 500 Days of Summer, which was so tedious to sit through with it's moronic characters and fuckified take on love. Scott is much more light hearted, and really doesn't take itself all that seriously. It does however take it's pop culture references and video game throwback visuals seriously, so that may rub some people up the wrong way, i didn't mind though, i liked how it was all put together.

Michael Cera who plays 'Scott' is an actor i'm starting to get a bit bored with, but in this, i thought he did an AMAZING job. I'm sure it's due more to the writing of the character, but still, he was matched perfectly with Scott and he was adorable and funny in the role. Everyone else was good too, with other standouts being Keiren Culkin as Scott's gay room-mate, and the female drummer from Scott's band, Sex Bom Omb [forgot her name].

Visually the movie is incredible, and when the action starts you won't ever get bored. The fight scenes are all creatively put together and each one is very different to the last. You may feel like you're on a sugar high watching the film, because it runs on A.D.D. from the very first scene,but that just adds to the fun of it all. The 8-bit soundtrack and other songs featured in the movie were great too.

The only couple of faults i can give the film are, the running time, which i felt was a tiny bit over long [thankfully the fantastic finale made up for any lagging], and one scene involving the theme music from Seinfeld with a laughing track thrown in, it just didn't make any sense and i wasn't getting the joke. Maybe there was nothing TO get, i'm not sure, but it felt so out of place.
There have also been a few comparisons between Kick Ass and Scott Pilgrim. As much as i liked Scott, i think it's Kick Ass that will hold up longer down the line. What Scott lacked that Kick Ass had was an emotional impact, Scott also didn't have 'Hit Girl'. Kick Ass also offered more with it's story, whereas Scott was entertaining, but lacked any sort of real point at the end of the day.

If you like video games and comics, you'll most likely love this. I thought it was one of the coolest things i've seen all year, and i can't wait to check out the 'making of' for the film once it hits blu-ray, i may even check out the comic at some point.