Monday, May 24, 2010

My Favourite Albums Of ALL TIME! #3 Boomkat A Million Trillion Stars [2008]
Boomkat released their first album way back in 2003. They had a minor hit with the lead single 'The Wreckoning' [great song!], and vanished soon after that. I assume they were dropped from their label, because we didn't hear much else from them for 5 years. I was disappointed, i wanted to hear what else Taryn and her brother [forgot his name] could come up with.

Then, one day in late 2008, Boomkat put up a website containing 13 streaming new songs. I was so excited to hear them, and when i played the songs one by one, i soon realized they had something REALLY special happening with their second album. I played the album over and over, i loved it, but i also realized that the album wasn't as commercial as it needed to be to get radio attention. I figured it would go nowhere, and a year and a half on, the album still hasn't even had a physical release. It has hit iTunes, thankfully, but the exposure for the album seemed to never reach any decent heights, so Boomkat have become one severely underrated act.

Boomkat have a very original sound to their music. Their second album is a mix of pop [Runaway], lite rock [Lonely Child], electronic [Run Boy] and a lot of scratch board/trip hop [Four Track Dub]. They're very eclectic, but still have enough of their own vibe in their music to not sound like a mish mosh. That's a hard thing to do.
Taryn Manning provides all the vocals, and her brother does all the music. You may recognize Taryn from the big screen as well. When she's not singing in Boomkat, she's doing movies. She's most famous for her role in 'Hustle & Flow', where she played a hooker. She also starred in 'Crossroads' with Britney Spears [among many other movies].
Taryn's voice is full of attitude, it's raspy and sexy, but it can also be soft as well for the right song. I guess a diverse voice needs to match the diverse sounds of this album, so it makes sense that she can go between each style of song so easily.

I have NO idea where the album will end up, maybe it will forever remain unreleased and be loved only by their very small fan base online? Either way, it's a fantastic record, and until things change, it will remain one of my most unknown loved albums ever.

1. Run Boy [Here I Come] 4/5
2. Lonely Child 5/5
3. Stomp 5/5
4. Runaway 5/5
5. Elated 4/5
6. Not My Fault 4/5
7. Four Track Fub 5/5
8. Don't Be Shy 4/5
9. Instead 5/5
10. Fall On Me 5/5
11. Wish I Could 2/5
12. Burn 5/5
13. Say Hi 4/5
14. Dressed In Grief 3/5

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Fleshtone [2010]

Kelis ditches her urban sound for some euro dance on this album, and i can't say the result is all that amazing.
My first issue with the album is that it follows the same sound throughout all 9 songs, so by the time i get to track 5, i have no idea where the hell i am and which song is what. The only song on the whole album that really deviates from the rest of the tracks is the first song, 'Intro'.
The blending of each song into the next is a nice touch, but sometimes the small outro each song has attached to the end of it is actually better than the full length track that follows it.

My main gripe with this album though is how uninspired the whole project is. We've heard all this since Ministry of Sound decided to release house mix albums in the 90's. There's just nothing here that makes me want to care, since it's all like one long generic dance remix. Madonna released her own euro dance inspired album back in 2005 with Confessions on a Dancefloor, and that was FULL of life. Good lyrics, great atmosphere, and samey songs that at least were unique enough in their own way for me to separate them from each other. On Kelis's album, it all drowns in itself.

This review is coming from someone who finds house music a bit tedious at times. I like it, but when i get too much of it, it starts to bore me, and this is why Fleshtone to me isn't all that spectacular.
On a positive note, if you LOVE this sort of thing, chances are you'll think the album is amazing. I'm certainly in the minority with my opinion on this record, people seem to think it's really fantastic, so maybe i've missed the boat on this one, i'm not sure, but it just isn't clicking for me. I think she had displayed much more creativity when she was doing urban music.

If you want an all out house dance album to party to, you've found it with this. For me, 'Fleshtone' isn't a BAD album, it's just kinda dull. If you'd rather something with catchier hooks and richer production, stick to your Confessions album, i sure will be!.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wake me up from this nightmare!
It's been a while, but i've joined forces with Super Marcey again to talk about the ELM STREET remake!!!!! The good, the bad, and the slashery!!!!! Stream it here................ >>>>> CLICK

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Nightmare On Elm Street [2010]
Starring: Jackie Earl Haley and some random teens
Directed by: Samuel Bayer

A serial killer who wields a glove with four blades embedded in the fingers stalks the dreams of a group of teenagers, resulting in their real death in reality.

Maybe my expectations were punched down into the gutter due to the bad reviews this film is getting, but i was honestly entertained enough by this remake to enjoy it. It didn't reach any massive heights, but it was never going to anyway, the original has been out for years, this is a remake, other than a few new changes here and there, it's all very "been there done that".

I've been hearing about how atrocious the acting was, can't say i was all that horrified by it. The actors were serviceable enough. They certainly had to take on more than the original cast of kids did, and for that i think they did fine. I thought the new Nancy was likeable enough, and i didn't care that the kids were emo. That seems to be an issue for some fans, they're apparently sick of seeing emos in horror movies. Only a couple of the cast were, so i didn't see the fuss really. The movie reflects the generation this was geared to. Whatever.

The story was fine [though i had some minor gripes, i'll talk about them later]. I certainly think they tried to give the movie a meater feel, and there was at least more depth to the conversations and back story than the original offered. Some fans mentioned they were really bored by it, i wasn't, i liked that in some ways it became a horror mystery rather than a by the numbers hack and slash fest from start to finish.

The music was great and the look of the film was good. The slightly cheeky side of Freddy that we all know and love wasn't evident AT ALL in this, but i didn't have an issue with them taking the material as seriously as they did. I've seen enough funny Freddy in my lifetime, at least they tried to give us something a little different when compared to the original series. That's what a remake should do, offer something new. Whether or not that's the style of Freddy you like is another story though.

As for Jackie, i enjoyed his portrayal. His face was odd to look at, i wasn't sure if i liked it that much, but at times i kinda did. It's hard to wipe the image of Englund's Freddy out of my mind, i had to keep trying to do that in this to focus on critiquing this Freddy on his own merits. He certainly LOOKED like a burn victim, but his eye area at times made him kinda look like a cute kitten face or something, lol.
I liked where he took the character though. He wasn't "scary" [though Freddy doesn't scare me anymore as an adult anyway], but he certainly felt dangerous in parts, and i liked the little mannerisms he had at times, like the way he would quickly moves his fingers together playing with his knives. Nice touch. He was a bit of a creepy pervert too, he certainly liked getting close with the girls. I thought he did a good job in making it his own.

Now for the stuff that i had some issues with.....

I wasn't sure if i liked that Freddy was a paedophile instead of a child murderer. The movie didn't have enough emotional impact to take that route. They should have kept him as a creepy child killer. I dunno, that just wasn't really meshing well for me.
The scene where Nancy finds the peado pics of herself as a kid didn't really leave any impression on me. Making the kids victims of molestation added a whole new weight to the story that should have been a very intense and emotionally unfolding experience. They didn't really do it that way, opting to just have the kids "remember", freak out a bit, and then go on with their day. I realize they had more important things to worry about, like DYING, but if Freddy was simply a child killer, they could have just gone straight to that instead of giving the teens this extra burden to focus on and sweep under the table quickly.

The one thing that the original Elm St does best when compared to the remake, is tension and build up. Freddy is a creepy shadow for most of the first half of the original. We don't see him too clearly, he's a voice in the darkness, he stalks you, he plays with you. In the remake, he doesn't do any of that. He seems to go right in for the kill a bit too fast for my taste. SCARE the teens, HAUNT them, get them shitting their pants, make them feel like something is coming for them. The new Freddy seemed so desperate to see them all dead, the only thing keeping them alive was the coincidental times the teens "woke up" and got away from Freddy. That's kinda boring.

The one major moment where atmosphere and tension was lost was with the 'Freddy coming through the wall scene'. In movie 1, that's executed SO perfectly. We get a brief shot of Nancy sleeping with that giant white wall behind her and the cross hanging above her head. That in itself looked creepy. Then when Freddy comes through the wall, it's done in a way that makes you feel like he's watching her. He isn't going to kill her right now, he just wants to let the viewer know he's a presence in her dream. He melts through the wall, and goes away.
In the remake, there's no quiet build up or atmosphere to that scene.
He literally just randomly melts through the wall, and quickly moves down to make an attack. Wtf? give us a little suspense please!. The scene seemed to come and go in 5 seconds. Didn't like how that was pulled off, but the scene itself wasn;t "bad"..

Another part of the film that i thought could have been remade frame by frame was Tina's death. Again, Freddy just goes in for the kill with no build up.
She rises off the bed [that was cool] and is then thrown from wall to wall violently????? no. What made the original Tina death so iconic, was HOW he killed her. It was SLOW, he took his time, and having her be pulled UP the wall and over the ceiling was a REALLY GREAT moment. She was being dragged to her death and it looked creepy doing it upside down. They really should have done it that way in the remake. Having her simply thrown around was boring and completely took away from what made the original so memorable.

The dream sequences i didn't mind. They weren't overly interesting, but they went for a more "realistic" type of film, so i guess they didn't want to go to crazy with the over the top dreams. Still, the dream sequences are when they could have been really creative, but they kept it a bit too low key for my taste.
I loved the re-creation of the of Tina/body bag school hallway scene [her name wasn't Tina in the remake], that was creepy.
I also liked Nancy falling through floor of liquid, and then her falling out of the blood ceiling. The pharmacy dream was REALLY cool, and the only dream throughout the whole thing that had a sense of fun to it. Loved the constant micro sleeping that was going on while Nancy was trying to stay awake while crawling for help with Freddy's image flickering towards her between both worlds. That sort of stuff reminded me of what i loved about the dreams in the original series. They were fun. I would have liked to have seen more of that.

My last issue with this film was
the line Nancy delivers right before she cuts off Freddy's head. I'm all for cheesy one liners, but they need to be used right. In that scene, it just came off a bit random and stupid. "This is my world now, bitch!"...........erm, when did she start talking like this?...........she was reserved and quiet, and all of a sudden she becomes Stallone in Rambo. No. Shut up. Drop the "bitch" and just get to the killing. Awful cringe worthy moment.

Overall, was it as good as the original? no, but as a remake i certainly didn't mind it. I think it improved on a few things, like the script and acting, but with atmosphere that wasn't as strong as it should be, and with the imagination being sucked out of the dream sequences, it all felt a little too empty in parts. It's a decent enough effort though, and not the blazing turd disaster critics and some fans are making it out to be. It's light years better than cap like Zombie's Halloween and the Friday the 13th remake.

If you completely remove the original from your brain, it's easier to enjoy. That's hard to do though. Not sure how it'll hold up on repeat viewings, could go a tiny bit higher, could stay the same. We'll see.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Iron Man 2 [2010]
Starring: Robert Downey Jnr, Done Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow
Directed by: Jon Favreau

Billionaire Tony Stark must contend with deadly issues involving the government, his own friends, as well as new enemies due to his super hero alter ego Iron Man.

I was originally going to wait to catch this on DVD, but found myself being dragged to see it by a friend. Don't get me wrong, i've seen the first Iron Man, and i thought it was enjoyable enough, but it never left me with any lasting impression, and i wasn't going to "rush out" to see it's sequel. I'm glad i did though....

Robert was BORN to play this role. He is SO good as Tony Stark. As intelligent as his character is, he's also a massive douche bag, so for Robert to play him and make him the most likeable guy on screen is pretty impressive. If he was any more charming, the screen would have exploded. Paltrow, who bored me to tears in IM1, seemed a lot more comfortable in her role, and the chemistry between her and Robert was fantastic. The new characters were also fun to watch. Samuel L. Jackson has a small role, but does well with what he is given. Scarlett's role may have been kind of throw away, and she doesn't serve any MAJOR purpose in the film, but it was cool seeing a tough girl in the mix, and she does sultry very well, and that's pretty much what her character was all about. I have no issue with having to look at a hot chic for a couple hours, and she looked VERY good in this. She was great with the action scenes as well, i'm not sure if her way of fighting in the film was a specific style, but i loved how they made her move. I hope to see more of her in future IM films, she's badass. The only other actor who can steal the spotlight from Robert though, is Mickey Rourke. Man, that guy has MAJOR screen presence, he was incredibly intimidating in this, and looked like he had a blast playing the villain. I only wish there was more of him.

When compared to the first movie, i feel like this story had a lot more to offer. Tony Stark doesn't really go anywhere new, but he does learn a couple of new life lesson that move his character along nicely within the series. I also think the new addition of characters bulked up the story nicely and gave us a few different things to look at. Yeah a few of them didn't add any life changing moments to the IM universe, but it was still enjoyable seeing some new faces on screen. I like Iron Man with friends.
Aside from a more entertaining story, i thought the action was more exciting, the villains were more dangerous [including Sam Rockwell] and it was a lot more funnier than the first film. You genuinely care about the characters, and the movie doesn't take itself too seriously along the way.

Iron Man 1 may not have impressed me all that much, but Iron Man 2 did. I'm actually really looking forward to seeing what comes up next.