Thursday, September 30, 2010

Katy Perry
Teenage Dream [2010]

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.

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.