Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My Favourite Films of All Time! #16The Fifth Element [1997]
Starring: Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Milla Jovovich
Directed by: Luc Besson

"Me fifth element - supreme being. Me protect you"

The Fifth Element takes place 250 years in the future. Cars can fly, New York is now a hovering city, and planet Earth is having intergalactic relations with other species. An ancient evil "force" known as the DARK PLANET is on it's way to our Universe to destroy us all. The only way to stop this "evil" from wiping out everything, is to call on the powers of the Fifth Element, a supreme being sent to Earth to destroy all evil.

The supreme being is resurrected inside a science facility, and takes the form of Leeloo [Milla Jovovich], an orange haired, half naked woman, who can only speak in the Divine language [funny], and has a habit of removing her clothes at any given time. She escapes the facility, and lands directly in the hands of angry cab driver, Korben Dallas[Bruce Willis]. By directly, i mean, she jumps off a building and slams through his cab roof. Bitch is crazy, seriously.

Leeloo is one hot thang, so obviously Korben is willing to help her out on her mission. They both go in search of Vito Corniellious, a High Priest who will help Leeloo find the 4 stones of the elements [fire, water, wind, earth] to stop the evil force from destroying life as we know it.
The evil force isn't alone in it's mission however. It enlists the help of Zorg [Gary Oldman], who gathers an army of warriors to find the 4 stones before Leeloo and her crew get their hands on them.
Along the way, Leeloo adjusts to her new "human body", and tries to understand why evil and war exist in the first place. She was created to do nothing but destroy evil, she's a weapon, but as she starts to fall in love with Korben, she's faced with wanting to find a reason to save a race of people, who can barely stop killing each other. Leeloo must find her own love to have the will power to save the world from destruction, can she do it? [cue violins].
The first thing you'll notice about TFE is the look of the film. Gone are the grimey rusted backdrops of the future that were so used to seeing in films, instead, we get a very colourful and cartoon looking planet Earth. Luc Besson decided to take a much quirkier approach to TFE universe, and it really works in his favour. Luc also hired fashion designer Jean Paul Gautier to create all of the costumes in the movie. Combining the two gave the movie a very original look, it stands out a lot when you watch it.

One scene in particular is one of my all time favourite moments from a movie, ever!. It's Leeloo's creation scene. I love seeing her come to life, and the escape from the science lab. That bandage outfit she wore is infamous!. Stick on an orange wig on and cover your titties with white material and you'll be instantly recognizable!.
Another memorable scene, and one the movie is most famous for, features a super tall blue alien woman who sings Opera, right before a huge gun brawl takes place inside of a concert hall. Cool stuff.

What TFE offers aside from a pretty looking movie, is a very memorable cast. Bruce Willis does what he does best in this, act cocky and blow shit up, Chris Tucker is HILARIOUS as Ruby is hilarious [some people thought he was annoying, which i assume was the idea, i loved him] and Gary Oldman plays a weird mix of funny, yet evil, with a Texas accent and half a head of hair. The stand out from the movie however is Milla, as Leeloo. Not only is she beautiful in the movie, but she's funny, and she also brings a good mix of strength and vulnerability to a character, which is hard considering she doesn't speak a lot of English. You grow to love Leeloo and you don't want anything bad to happen to her, the chemistry between her and Bruce's character is good too, so it's believable. She's also very quotable. Say "chicken good" to a TFM fan, and they'll know exactly what you're talking about, ha!.

TFE is one of those movies i've seen 500 times, and i never tire of it. It's the type of film, that pops up on TV and i gotta sit and watch it, even if it's only for 5 minutes. I tear up and get so excited if i stumble upon it randomly, or strike up a conversation about it to someone. I even went as far as buying the video game back in the day, which for the most part was a bit shit, but i was so desperate for more, i played it over and over regardless.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I'm on a rocket!Goldfrapp
Head First [2010]

What Head First does for me, more than any other Goldfrapp album, is that it's given me the first INSTANT Goldfrapp experience i've had. Pretty much from start to finish, i really liked what i heard on first listen. That could be due to the fact that the album is only 9 tracks long, so it leaves little room for filler, but also because they've finally been able to mesh all their styles together into one project that reflects their style perfectly.
They've always had a heavy 80's influence on their music, this time though, they've REALLY developed a throw back vibe, and instead of sounding like a modern band doing old skool electronica, they actually sound like they are FROM the 80's/late 70's.
'Alive' and 'Hunt' sound the most like they've stepped out of the 70's disco era, with the rest of the album sounding like an early 80's synthy wet dream [Rocket, I Wanna Life] . They even deliver one of the best tracks of their entire career with, 'Dreaming'. Great song.
The only time the album gets a bit crap, is with the last track, 'Voicething'. It's an ugly mix of Alison's vocals repeated over and over, while an irritating beat loops in the background. Thankfully, it's the last track on the album, so it's easily skipped. Most definitely one of their worst songs.

Overall, it's a very small album that passes by quickly with one listen. It does feel a little short, but that also adds to it's charm a little i think. I guess it just gives you more reason to repeat each song 5 times. There's some nice production on a few of the songs, and it's consistent and put together in a neat little package. Maybe not their BEST album, but certainly their most accessible.

DVD Roundup: MARCH, 2010
What i spent a pretty penny on this month [you're curious, don't deny it].....

Batman Returns [Blu-ray]
Oh my beloved Batman Returns, i finally have you in glorious HD. And of all the special ways it came into my life, it came at a discount bargain price, PERFECT. Halle Berry as Catwoman? if you want to laugh, then go right ahead......all you REALLY need is Michelle Phieffer as Catwoman. OH. There's good features on this too, and Burton gives a commentary. I still love this movie after all these years. Better than the Dark Knight, that's right, fuck you.

Being John Malkovich
One of those movies i've been meaning to see for 10 years. People finding a doorway to another persons mind, and then living out that persons life for a period of time?, i'll take ONE please. It was a mind fuck, that's for sure, lol. The special features were equally as strange as the movie itself.

It's..............odd. Slow, weird, and full of sex. A pair of spread legs on the cover certainly gets your attention. No special features.

Jennifer's Body [Blu-ray]
This isn't out in Australia till May, so i ordered the UK version of it. Plus, the Aussie cover is shit, and the UK and U.S ones are pretty hot. Oh, and the UK edition has a slip case that has Megan Fox POPPING out of it with nice embedding on the cardboard. Oh, and the movie is kick ass.

An American Werewolf In Paris
Yeah, it's a shit as i remembered, in fact, it was so shit, it had me laughing. Priced at $10 though, i can't complain too much. It even had special features!!!!

Skins: Season 4
Them partying/sexing British kiddies are BACK. While the rest of the world watches teen shit like Gossip Girl, the remaining lot of us watch something with a bit of balls to it. I love this show. INNIT.

Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl
You didn't read wrong, it is indeed, Vampire Girl vs mother fucking Frankenstein Girl. What MORE do you need to know? it's fucked, almost to the point of overbearingly unwatchable. No features.

Madonna: Sticky & Sweet Tour [Blu-ray]
Well praise the heavens, it's FINALLY hit dvd! or more importantly, Blu ray!!!!! This is the first Blu ray release by Madonna. There's even a cute 30 minute behind the scenes doco attached to this, as well a s alive cd!!!!. Mouth......waters......lots.......[wipes chin].

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

So happy i could die...Lady Gaga
The Monster Ball Tour 2010
Sydney Entertainment Centre

The crowd: A good mix of all ages and different people. The gays were plentiful, but so were families and kids. They were also very enthusiastic. I saw Gaga for the first time live 2 years ago in a tiny club on Oxford St in Sydney. The entire place was packed out, but she had JUST launched with her debut single 'Just Dance', so i wasn't expecting a major crowd filler, i was wrong. There were people pouring out of the doors, fans already dressed up in costumes, and people going nuts to see her on stage. At her new Arena show, it was the exact same atmosphere, except this time, there were THOUSANDS of fans, instead of hundreds. It was great to see how big she's gotten in such a short period of time, and the rabid loyalty and appreciation the fans showed her was really great to see.
The only downside to my "crowd" experience, was having a bunch of loud mouthed toothless red necks sitting behind us the entire show. They kept quiet while Gaga was on stage, but during the opening act [which was very....overtly gay and sexual, lol] they kept yelling and screaming at how vile the whole thing was. Honestly, what ARE rednecks DOING at a Gaga show? did they not expect to see poofery????? go the fuck home.

Opening act: Semi Precious Weapons opened the show. I've only heard of these guys by name, and Gaga used to open for them YEARS ago when she was a teenager performing in clubs for the first time. The band itself was full of flamboyant members, with the main singer wearing no pants, stocking and heels, which at one point he REMOVED on stage to change into some new clothes. They were pretty entertaining to watch, and the music itself actually wasn't too bad. They sang thrashy style rock, i'll definitely check out their album.

The show: The lights dimmed and the crowd went absolutely mental as a screen was lowered over the stage and black and white footage of Gaga jumping in slow motion was shown. A heavy dance beat played over the footage, and it was obvious this was going to be a pretty loud opener. As the synths to Dance In The Dark kicked in, everyone lost their minds. Gaga appeared on top of a stair case behind the screen [which was semi transparent] and all you could see was her silhoutte as she sang the song, it was an AMAZING opener which set the mood for the rest of the night.
As soon as the first song was finished, we got kicked into the first few bunch of performances. She sang a brand new song called Glitter and Grease, which i loved [can't wait to hear a studio version], when Just Dance came on the crowd lost their minds as they danced around, everyone was standing. Beautiful Dirty Rich followed, then The Fame and to finish it up, she sang a random internet leaked song from 2 years ago called, Vanity. Don't know why it was included, but i liked the performance.

Another video interlude was played before the next segment, Gaga posing for a photoshoot while a woman vomited green spew on her. It ended with Gaga eating a bloody raw heart. The interludes in general were pretty cool throughout the show. LoveGame was the opener for the second act, another track everyone really got into. Boys Boys Boys was dedicated to "her gay boys", Money Honey followed, and then Telephone was blasted into the crowd. The choreography for Telephone was GREAT, i still wish it was show cased better in the music video.

The atmosphere was taken down a notch when Gaga sat at her piano and sang Brown Eyes and Speechless. Although the songs were slow, i was surprised to see how much everyone got into them. Although it's hard not to when Gaga is singing the shit out of the tracks while thrashing at her piano. Her voice is FANTASTIC live, so strong. The highlight from that section was when she stopped singing the chorus to Speechless, and let the crowd sing it to her while she played the piano, the entire Arena sang it perfectly in sync, it was a great moment to let fans really connect with her. She loved it.

As a tornado descended onto the stage, Gaga returned wearing her wacky 'Living Dress', which looked like some sort of angelic fairy robotronic outfit. It moved, opening and closing as she was lifted into the air and sang So Happy I Could Die. One of my favourite performances from the night. She looked amazing on stage wearing that.

As the show entered it's last act, Gaga churned out Monster [another highlight], Teeth [hot dancing], Alejandro [nicely set up, but a bit of a let down], and Poker Face [crowd went mental over it, obviously].

Before Gaga left the stage, she came out for 2 more song. Paparazzi, which was the most memorable performance of the night, with a GIANT monster puppet appearing on stage as she sang the song. I've only seen one picture of the monster, so i wasn't sure how it would look in motion. It looked REALLY cool. I loved it. The final song of the night, Bad Romance, was a bit of a let down, mostly because Gaga wore a metallic dress which seemed to really limit her movement, so she wasn't able to really give it her all for the finale. Still, the crowd loved it and the song itself is great. For me though, Paparazzi seemed to be the proper goodbye.

Overall: A really fun concert with a lot of love in the room. The first half of the show was a little stronger than the second half, but as a whole product it was nicely put together and very ambitious.
Gaga is a strong live act, her voice is great, her outfits are hilarious and the amount of buzz and excitement she was able to bring to the audience was impressive. She's described as a phenomenon, and last night, i finally saw her booming career in action. After only 2 years, to pull off the concert she put on last night and to have such adoring fans after such a small period of time, is really mind boggling to see. Behind all the costumes and wigs is an incredibly talented girl, who seems to live and breathe everything she does on stage. I'm proud to be a fan, she's the real deal. She's just a baby in the industry, but after seeing her last night, it's obvious she can stand her own ground with her established peers who've been around for 10-20 years.
I look forward to seeing her again.

PS: Can't remember which song it was for, but at one point she opened a track while playing on her GIANT guitar keyboard. It was fucking badass.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Alice In Wonderland [2010]
Starring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter
Directed by: Tim Burton


19-year-old Alice returns to the magical world from her childhood adventure, where she reunites with her old friends and learns of her true destiny.

I wasn't sure what to expect going into this, i've been hearing mixed reviews all week since it came out. People seem to either love it or think it's average. I suppose that's a good thing, because i didn't have any over the top expectations. I was pleasantly surprised by the final result, but the movie was a little uneven in parts.

The story itself was serviceable enough, i'm not sure how DEEP people expected this thing to be, the story was written while someone was on drugs, it's hardly going to be anything other than a paper thin wacked out kooky fantasy adventure. No other adaptations of the book have been all that brilliant either, imo, in fact, i've often found the Alice story kind of boring since all she does is walk, talk to someone, float, walk, talk to someone, walk, ect. Expecting the story to be some sort of layered masterpiece is just strange. The story was perfectly fine, and did the job.
I do think once Alice gets over the initial shock of returning to Wonderland, the movie gets a little slow. But i've always felt Burton has a few pacing issues with his films, so that's more if a personal gripe. Once she finds herself in the Red Queen's garden, it all picks up nicely though.

Where the movie needed to get a bit of it's balls from was the cast. Thankfully, i enjoyed the performances by everyone involved. I agree that Johnny Depp continuously playing "wacky" is getting a tad overdone, but, it's his thing, and he's good at it, so i'm not going to bother ripping him a new one. As for the Mad Hatter character, the first meeting of him wasn't all that spectacular really, and at times i had trouble trying to understand what the hell he was saying. Still, i liked the friendship between him and Alice and as the film went along he grew on me more and more.
The voice work for all the CGI characters was all done nicely, Chesire Cat was probably the best out of the bunch and the only one that REALLY stood out. Michael Sheen as the White Rabbit seemed fairly wasted, and that tiny mouse character with the sword seemed pointless and rather annoying to listen to. My favourite from the side characters though was the overly anxious Hair Rabbit that was friends with the Mad Hatter, he was funny.
The girl playing Alice was good enough, but the role itself didn't require much, so i can't say she blew me away or anything, she was fine though.
Out of everyone involved, the one person who really stood out the most for me was Helena as the Red Queen. Say what you will about how many times she's played "wacky", but she's SO good at it, and i thought her character was done really well. She had some great lines and some funny scenes. Really enjoyed watching her in this, the giant head obsession was a great joke starter for many scenes in the movie.

The look of the movie is beautiful, that's expected though, visuals have always been Tim's strongest asset. Alice's fall through the rabbit hole looked good, and the "eat me, drink me" scene that followed was also fun to watch. There were some nice costume and set design, the Red Queen's castle looked pretty cool, and i loved that Alice had to step on floating heads to reach the Queen's garden. A lot of nice minor touches were added to some of the scenes, which helped bring the whole world to life. Tim's style may be recycled a lot of the time, but i've always found his way of putting visuals together very "magical", so i had no issues with how the movie looked.

As great as some of the cast were, and as pretty as it all was to look at, i still felt i wanted more out of the story. There was a sense of "adventure" that would come in and out of the movie as it went along, it didn't feel even. At points the story builds up to a nice climax, and then other times it just plodded along and felt enjoyable, but not spectacular.

Other than that, the only other issue i had was with the final battle. I liked it, but it all felt a bit anti climatic to me. There was a lot of scope missing from that section of the movie. They build up the battle between Alice and the dragon SO much throughout the story, and when you actually SEE the dragon, it isn't all that big or scary. There wasn't a strong enough sense of danger when it came to the final battle, it all felt a little wishy washy and you knew Alice would come out of it perfectly fine. I would have liked to have seen them go a little more nuts with that scene, and really given Alice something scary and monstrous to fight. Instead we got a very easily killed, baby dragon. Meh.

There's A LOT to like about this movie, and i enjoyed it. There seems to be a bit of a Burton backlash with this film, everyone has their pitchforks out ready to stab him over and over, same with his fellow regular cast mates, Depp and Helena. All 3 of them may be getting a tad "over done", but as i said earlier, they all do what they do well, even if they do it repeatedly. I have no interest in joining the bashing brigade and some of the DRAMATIC criticism of this movie have been a little ridiculous.

Does the movie live up to the hype? in places, yes, there are some really great moments in the movie, and as an overall package it was nicely put together. It wasn't perfect though, and it certainly didn't blow my mind. As a final product, it may not live up to the hype as MUCH as i wanted, but i still found it to be an entertaining watch.
If the ending had been put together better, i would have easily given the movie a 4/5, but with a fun, yet weak finale, and a God awful dance by The Mad Hatter, i'll drop it down to a 3.5.

Definitely see it, you're bound to get something out of it. Just don't expect the next Edward Scissohands.
Gaga In Wonderland
I thought this would be a cool extra post to go along with my Alice review. I love it, it's so creative. If only it was real....sigh....

Monday, March 1, 2010

Precious [Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire]
Starring: Mo'nique, Gabourey Sidibe, Mariah Carey
Directed by: Lee Daniels


Poor brave Precious and her fucked up life. Honestly, just about everything went wrong for this girl except blowing up into a million pieces.
From what i've noticed, most people are loving this movie, but every now and again you get someone who found it to be a little over done. In a way, i can see what those people mean. Although the setting is realistic, and there's no doubt in my mind people live with these sorts of fucked up circumstances daily [i'm no stranger myself to life fuckery], there was a point where i felt a little, "enough is enough". Sexual abuse from her father, mental abuse from her mother, poverty, obesity, loneliness, teen pregnancy, we definitely got a mixed bag. Once she was diagnosed with HIV however, i just felt it started to get a bit too 'daytime TV' in regards to "drama". As i said before, everything that could happen to this girl, happened. I didn't know if she was going to get hit by a car next, or get shot in the head.
There were glimmers of hope for Precious throughout the story though, and i guess that was what kept me engrossed in everything without getting too lost in all the negative hysterics. The sad thing is, even though it does become one tragic affair after another, life for the most part can be quite ugly for people, so maybe Precious really did just get the rawest end of the stick.

As "eventful" as the story was, what really keep this movie floating was the acting. If you are an actor who wants to really dig your fingers into something raw, this is the type of role you'd LOVE to get your hand on. Everyone involved was fantastic, with the stand out being Monique [who played Precious's evil Mother]. With other great supporting roles like Precious's teacher, her fellow classmates, and her Welfare Counselor [Played surprisingly well by Mariah Carey], there's A LOT to get out of this acting wise. The final scene involving Precious, her Mother and her counselor in a room together was the high point of the film for me. Hard hitting stuff, and Monique was CRAZY good in it.

If you've seen a "ghetto life" themed movie before, this may not shock you as much as someone who wasn't very familiar with this kind of material. However, Precious's story is rather heart breaking at times, and whether you're used to seeing this stuff before or not, it will still leave you with some sort of emotional impact.