Saturday, January 24, 2015

Most Shocking/Disappointing/WTF Asian Music Moments of 2014

PSY & Snoop Dogg Collaboration
Whether you're a kpop fan or not, there's a good chance you know about the foreign phenomenon that was "Gangnam Style". It was nearly impossible to escape the track in 2012. PSY made a follow up single, "Gentleman", which didn't get as many hits as the first on YouTube, but people were aware of it and it still got parodied. I'm not sure if PSY or YG Entertainment wanted to make another attempt of worldwide or even viral relevancy by having this collaboration with Snoop Dogg (or Snoop Lion, I'm not sure what he was going by at the time), but it seemed like listeners were very split about this project. Some saw it as a great anthem for post-drunkenness, while others found it as more of an annoyance. Plus there was a controversial blackface co-signing by Snoop. Nonetheless, I don't think the single caught on as much as the previous efforts.

Jackie Chan's KPop Group Debuts: JJCC
I still find it so odd to know that Jackie Chan created a kpop group. Of all the things he could make! I guess we needed more rookies in the sea I don't want to put these boys down in the least, because I actually enjoy their music so far...excluding "Bing Bing Bing (Oneway)", I'm still trying to figure that one out. I know this is a minor statement, but it's very wtf worthy. I wish JJCC a long, prosperous life in the kpop universe. Also, check out their guest appearance on K-Populous.

BABYMETAL & Crayon Pop Open for Lady Gaga
Most people are familiar with BABYMETAL with their YouTube appearance on @midnight with their "Gimme Chocolate!!" live and Crayon Pop with their brief viral popularity with "Bar Bar Bar" and maybe their MAMA collaboration with Ylvis of "Fox Song" fame. I'm guessing because of these two moments in 15 minute musical fame sparked interested in Lady Gaga to welcome them aboard her artRAVE tour. I was tempting to go myself as Lady Gaga is on my wishlist of musicians I would love to see live, but I'm not that big of Crayon Pop fan and I wasn't planning on traveling to see BABYMETAL either. Nonetheless, I'm happy that both of them received some exposure in the States and I hope that BABYMETAL makes another round of touring here as well that's closer to home.

J-Indies Favorites Disband
Every year I have to face the disappointment of a promising j-indies band putting their musical journey to a halt. Some I'm sure I will see members in newly formed bands, but of course it is never the same. I know that indies bands disband every year, but it's nice to acknowledge some of my favorites. Some were new to me like Lil.y and EVE and others I have been following for years: LICKER, Jackman, Suicide Ali, downer, xTRiPx, and THE KIDDIE. I suppose it is less surprising, but still saddening, BLACK LINE. I'm sure fans will miss and support these bands in this new chapter of life in 2015.

Simon D Joins AOMG
After the unfortunate disbandment of Supreme Team, E-Sens tried to piece back together his rap career and Simon D impressed his fans with a brand new solo album, then things got quiet. So, I was so excited, along with the fans, that Simon D resurfaced to an amazing R&B and rap track with Jay Park and GRAY called "Metronome". I thought this collaboration was a one-shot, but fortunately for us, Simon D signed up as co-CEO of AOMG with Jay Park, so I'm expecting a lot of epicly amazing things with this new addition. Hopefully, they'll spread their live performance wings a little further into America and make a trip to the south.

Band Member Departures
Similar to the feeling of losing a band is the feeling of losing a beloved member. Whether it's creative differences, health, personal obligations, or other uncontrollable circumstances, it can be hard for both the band and fans to accept letting go of a member. A few I feel worth mentioning are Sala (Black Gene from the Next Scene), Rui (SCREW), John (Sel'm), Kazuki (Royz), Yui (Ganglion), Kifumi (BORN), and Shingo (GOTCHAROCKA). Some of these are rather surprising as they've been part of their band for many years and others may be in new or increasingly popular visual kei bands. Nonetheless, I wish them the best of luck for 2015!

Dahee (GLAM) & Lee Jiyeon Charged with Blackmail
This news was a bit on the unusual side, especially for kpop. GLAM isn't part of the big leagues like SNSD or 2NE1, but Dahee and model Lee Jiyeon's target, Lee Byung-hun, is a very high profiled star. At first, it was uncertain who Dahee's accomplice was or what their motivations were. The details are still partially unknown and I'm not expecting it to get any clearer than what I know or anyone who reads Seoul Beats and Asian Junkie. I don't know much about Lee Byung-hun other than the very few little things I've seen him in, but apparently he has a controversial reputation and may even be on the unlikable list for some. I don't know anything about his habits or his relationship history, but either way, blackmailing is never acceptable, especially when you're at the bottom of the barrel of idoldom. The whole situation was an amusing read to say the least and it seems like Dahee and her partner in crime will be apologizing for quite some time. I suppose the future of GLAM is bit unknown at this point as well.

Janghyun Leaves Sunny Hill
During Janghyun's mandatory military service, the ladies of Sunny Hill continued to produce music for their fans and send their well wishes to their composer and leader. Upon his return, fans were excited for another gripping and unique concept from the group a la "Pray" or "Midnight Circus", but was given the news that Janghyun would not be returning to the group. Instead, he has decided to continue being a producer, which is great news as I believe he makes high quality work. I still find it strange that all the kpop sites I follow have not mentioned this news whatsoever, but I'm glad I found out about it and can share with you guys. I wish Janghyun and the remaining members of Sunny Hill the best of luck for the new year!

2NE1's Series of Unfortunate Events
YG Entertainment has been quite busy in 2014, considering some other "speculations" were unsurprisingly postponed (i.e. Any new material from Big Bang or that mystery girl group). The kpop world was introduced to WINNER, iKON, and Akdong Musician and we finally received some new material from 2NE1 (which will be reviewed momentarily). Despite releasing a new album for their precious Blackjacks, 2NE1's more controversial news stood out a little more: Minzy's plastic surgery and change in her Twitter handle, one of CL's live performance misusing Muslim incantations, her potential U.S. debut, and her unsatisfying and confusing collaboration with Skrillex, Diplo, and G-Dragon. But the member who took the cake was Park Bom as she attempted to bring home amphetamine tablets from the U.S. This scandal caused Bom to pause all activities meaning she had to depart from the reality show Roommate and absent from any live performances with 2NE1. Then there was that minor diss rap news from A.KOR's Kemy too...

Kim Hyun-joong's Domestic Abuse Case
Most people are aware that kpop fans are very delusional, otherwise the saying "oppa/noona didn't mean to" wouldn't be a popular mocking phrase among the well adjusted set. When it comes to domestic abuse, all statements like that should not exist, especially when so much concrete evidence exists. I like one or two songs by Kim Hyun-joong, but I am not a fan of his. Even if I was, I wouldn't excuse his behavior toward his former girlfriend nor try to convince others that he doesn't deserve punishment for what he did. It was sickening to read fans defending his actions and even more appalling how long it took for things to move along with this case. There might some moralistic discrepancies, but either way I find it unexcusable that he was allowed to continue live performances abroad while he was actively avoiding the police to place a statement. It's probably wishful thinking, but I hope the consequences of his actions catch up to him sooner rather than later.

Band Revivals
Even though band revivals are temporary events, they're pretty exciting when they do happen. It's like a second chance to have that live experience with the band and the fandom in an intimate setting enjoying music. A lot of these live revivals I wish I could've attended such as Pierrot, SIGNAL, D'espairsRay, Transtic Nerve, LuLu, Otogadead, Psycho le Cemu, and Doremidan. More exciting is that some of these revivals are more than just a one or two day live event, but a reboot of activities such as Rin, MY BACTERIA HEAT IsLAND, and D.I.D. I'm looking forward to hearing more music and hopefully I have a chance to indulge in a live performance as well.

Hideto (Amber Bullet), Yuuza (~E'm Grief~) & K (Moi dix Mois) Passes Away
I am a casual listener of Amber Bullet and I don't quite know the members' names, but it was sad to hear that their bassist Hideto had been struggling with an illness. I'm not really a fan of Moi dix Mois or ~E'm Grief~, but a passing is worth mentioning, especially since I know people who are very fond of these two bands.

Alice Nine Leaves PS Company
Another band decides to leave the evil clutches of PS Company to return back to their roots. I'm sure fans cheered for victory as I don't feel that Alice Nine's activity have been very...productive. From my perspective, I see the GazettE as the most active group while Alice Nine focuses more on their show and occasionally will release a single or something. When they do release music, it seems like a hollow shell of what originally pulled me into the band. They've already released pictures of their new look and logo. Since things have been going pretty well for Miyavi and SuG post-PSC, I'm hoping the same good fortune will come for Alice Nine. Now...if only the GazettE would leave...

Joon & Cheon Doong (Thunder) Leave MBLAQ
Compared to the Japanese music industry, I never really hear any big news about members leaving a group nor fans making a huge deal about it. Most departures seem pretty quiet, maybe due to the fact that the group isn't very popular, or it is simply labelled as a graduation of sorts like After School. Hearing this was very surprising, but seemed understandably necessary in a weird way. I haven't gotten around to seeing Lee Joon as an actor, but I've heard many good things which makes me extremely happy. Reading the news seemed like a tug of war of unconfirmed information, but soon it was settled (or at least mostly settled) that MBLAQ's legacy would be discontinued. I wish things turned out better for them during their musical journey and I sadly have to put part of the blame on Rain for neglecting what he started, but I look forward for what's to come for these five young men.

TS Entertainment Contract Dispute
It's been a rough year for kpop and I'm guessing some fans are having flashbacks to 2010 (give or take a year). Personally this news is not that surprising, but for others, I guess they were blinded by the consecutive releases. Anyway, B.A.P as a whole filed for nullification of their contract as they hadn't received the payment they expected. This case is somewhat similar to what happened with Stardom Entertainment and Block B last year. Block B is doing quite well under their new label Seven Seasons, so I'm hoping the same will come with B.A.P along with some much needed rest. There are rumors that labelmates SECRET and Untouchable may be joining the lawsuit bandwagon. Hopefully, we will hear a fair conclusion to this unfortunate situation in the coming year.

SM Entertainment Back Lash
I am not the biggest fan of SME's and their supporters are the worse~ Sure, a few good and interesting things have happened for them like giving solos to SHINee's Taemin and Super Junior M's Zhou Mi and next year SHINee's Jonghyun and f(x)'s Amber. Unfortunately, the massive black cloud overshadows any excitement SME has delivered to its followers. The set of news dealt with up and coming boy group EXO and the other with one of Korea's most popular female groups SNSD. I haven't forgotten about them giving f(x)'s Sulli a hiatus during their "Red Light" promotion or that one of the members of Super Junior is getting hitched, it just doesn't stand out as much as what happened with Kris, Luhan, and Jessica. The first strike against SME was Kris (EXO-M) filing lawsuit, then Luhan (EXO-M) followed suit and demanded financial compensation for promotions. No matter how you read Jessica's situation, in my eyes, SME booted her out of SNSD as it sounds like she was committed to the group, but wanted to also venture in other smaller projects. It is possible to maintain a musical career and put together a line of merchandise; American artists do it all the time! Even some Japanese artists do other side projects alongside their musical career. Since I'm very anti-SME, I'm hoping more idols (in general) will continue to speak up.

Ladies' Code Car Accident
2014 seemed like a year of management lessons for the kpop industry: how to handle saesang fans, deal with dating "scandals", settling contract lawsuits, and, in this entry, safety and scheduling issues. There are many great discussions about Ladies' Code's car accident, most of them pointing out the problem of managers trying to cram too much in a day. Please check out these insight links about the incident: Eat Your Kimchi, Asian Junkie, and Anti-KPop Fangirl. I know in America we are told to pull over if we're feeling too tired to drive and to slow down when the weather conditions aren't very favorable for driving above the speed limit; these are tips that have been brought up as well. Nonetheless, it was very unfortunate to lose such talented young ladies, EunB and RiSe, especially at the rise of their musical journey. I hope this incident will change the way managers schedule idols' activities and that car safety regulations will become stricter.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Movies Watched in 2015

Get ready for Round 7!

Starting date: January 1, 2015
Finishing date: January 25, 2015

1. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001, USA)
2. Raising Arizona (1987, USA)
3. The Good, the Bad, the Weird (2008, South Korea)
4. Like Father, Like Son (2013, Japan)
5. Shinobi: Heart Under Blade (2005, Japan)
6. Into the Woods (2014, USA)
7. Hide and Seek (2013, South Korea)
8. Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005, South Korea)
9. No Good Deed (2014, USA)
10. Unbroken (2014, USA)
11. At the Devil's Door (2014, USA)
12. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014, USA)
13. Whitney (2015, USA)
14. As Above, So Below (2014, USA)
15. The Guest (2014, USA)
16. The Man from Nowhere (2010, South Korea)
17. Horns (2014, USA)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Quick Movie Review

Deliver Us From Evil (2014, USA) | Rating: 2.5/5

Maybe I'm not remembering this correctly or something, but I was watching one of the many movie reviewers I follow and I believe they said that they enjoyed this movie. Originally, I had no interest in it as it just added to the boring possession movies that Hollywood keeps dishing out, but since they enjoyed I figured I'd check it out. They're pretty reliable. I might go back to that review and see if I'm remembering it correctly, because honestly, I lost interests on both attempts. First attempt, I fell asleep and second attempt, I was just bored...and I probably still dozed off. Eventually, I gave up trying to watch it and brought it back for the next person to view it. I guess it does offer a somewhat creative take on these inspired by documentary with a police officer.

Repentance (2014, USA) | Rating: 2.5/5

I noticed this movie was getting checked out quite often and one of my co-workers said that movie was good, but she didn't like the ending that much. I wasn't completely sure what this movie would be about, but one guess was that it might have some sort of religious tie in or something. In short, it was a revenge story with some little twists and turns here and there. I thought the story was kind of unique as it altered some typical aspects I normally would see in movies like this. There are some emotional conflicting moments when it comes to the main characters as there is a slight blur between who is right and wrong. Despite the little unique aspects of the film, overall it is a bit forgettable, but it definitely isn't a waste of time if you decide to watch it.

Anna (2014, USA) | Rating: 2.5/5

Plots dealing with a professional working with a mentally and/or emotionally disturbed patient tend to be hit or miss for me. Sometimes it can be quite silly like Case 39 or deeply intriguing like Identity. I believe this might fall a little closer to The Quiet Ones which is kinda interesting and entertaining, but nothing to get too excited about. I was tempted to avoid this movie for the simple fact that Taissa Farmiga is in it. I don't dislike her, but she can sometimes come off as rather bland or even borderline annoying and this is only basing it on her characters from American Horror Story and American Horror Story: Coven. She did have a little life as Anna, but Mark Strong made the movie interesting and slightly lasting on the mind. Honestly, Strong's character provoked more emotion from me than Farmiga's.

The Double (2013, UK) | Rating: 2.5/5

I don't really care for Jesse Eisenberg. He's like a slightly less annoying Michael Cera. Watching this movie was a slight challenge considering Eisenberg had to play two characters: one being his usual typecast awkward guy and the other being an arrogant, manipulative sleaze. The movie might be a little confusing because of the doppelganger aspect, especially toward the end. The story was indeed interesting, putting all negative bias aside. Eisenberg did a good job interacting and reacting to his other self, even if he is still annoying. If you do decide to watch this movie, it might take a couple tries to grasp everything that happened...especially the end, but don't be surprised if you end up a little frustrated with certain characters either.

God's Not Dead (2014, USA) | Rating: 3/5

Ah, another religious movie. Originally, I was supposed to watch this on my church's movie night, but everyone was tired and it was rather late for the elderly folk. So, I decided to check it out on my own since I've heard some pretty good things about it. The story was quite enjoyable and I enjoyed the conflict the protagonist had to face with his teacher. I think this movie represents Christians well while not bashing other religions to present it in a good light. One problem I had were the side stories that tied into the main plot as they seemed a bit unnecessary during majority of the movie until the final act. A couple actors seemed a bit inauthentic at times such as Josh's girlfriend, but her purpose of being a bit of the unlikable Christian was successful. I couldn't understand why most of the cast were jerks, but I guess you need some jerks to propel the movie forward. Ignore the comments on IMDb and go with your own feelings on whether you want to see this movie or not.

If there's something you want me to review (or want a more in depth review of the movies above or previous ones), check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Quick Movie Review

Toys (1992, USA) | Rating: 2.5/5

I guess this is one of Robin Williams' lesser known movies, because I've never heard it nor did anyone I asked about it. According to IMDb, it has a very average score and plenty of commenters defending its social commentary about toys and war and whatnot. I picked this movie for the obvious reason of Robin Williams starring in it and I've never heard of it before. I can see this movie not appealing to everyone as certain moments do seem a bit silly at times, but the silliness has a purpose. It's a sibling rivalry over a toy factory and it seems as though, I'm assuming, older brother doesn't quite understand the purpose of creating toys for kids when they can be used for warfare. I thought the movie was entertaining enough; not enough to revisit any time soon, but it was decent.

Only God Forgives (2013, France) | Rating: 2/5

I've seen this movie on the shelf at my work for a while and that it got checked out frequently when it was brand new. I didn't have much interest in it until I saw a preview for it in another movie. I must say this movie has a lot of visual appeal! The lighting is very stylistic, the fight choreography is exciting, and just overall it is a treat for the eyes. Unfortunately, this movie lacks one very important element: story. There is a plot, a simple one, but it exists. The execution of the story surrounding said plot is very lacking. There's some vague dialogue and a few thoughts expressed verbally, but it's hard to understand what the heck is going on when you listened to what the characters are saying, which is pretty important. It's very sad that this movie has such weak execution with its storytelling, because you really want to like the movie due to its sheer visual appeal.

Snowpiercer (2013, USA) | Rating: 4/5

My mother told me about this movie after reading a newspaper review and I skimmed over it, noticing a familiar name, Joon-ho Bong. Most would know Joon-ho Bong from the movie, The Host (not to be mistaken for the movie based on the Stephanie Meyer's novel), but I recognize the name from a perhaps lesser known movie, Mother. I didn't know what to expect from this American directorial effort as some Asian directors tend to have lackluster movies for their international audiences. Although this might not be for the casual moviegoer, I found myself enjoying another perceptive of a post-apocalyptic world with class system. The concept is probably getting annoying, but as long as the movie makes it interesting and entertaining, then it doesn't get boring. This movie is set on a train and has some very diverse set of people in each class. There's a possibility I might return to reviewing this movie and giving it a full review, because it has so many layers, great visuals, and some characters that you can easily attach yourself to.

Life After Beth (2014, USA) | Rating: 3/5

Zombies are still in, right? If you're sick of the zombie craze lately, then you should take a pass on this movie. But honestly, it is an amusing comedy with some very funny actors. The story seems pretty simple, but it seems to take a twist and turn here and there that makes this simple story truly entertaining. Although the entertainment factor is pretty good, the lasting appeal is easy to fade from your memory. Aubrey Plaza is funny, but from time to time her character can be annoying. I'm sure that was on purpose though so you can truly feel the conflict of Dane DeHaan feels with her: love, sympathy, and frustration. There's a little more than just zombies presented here, so it does bring something new to the zombie comedy genre. Of course, Zombieland will always be the winner for me.

Mr. Peabody and Sherman (2014, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5

Surprised, yet not surprised that this retro short from the The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show was going to be brought to the big screen as everyone has been digging in the vintage pile of people's childhoods. Unlike the The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle from 2000, this movie is actually good and funny. I was very curious how they would play off this educational animated short, but they managed to create a simple story that ties in those historical elements that adults remember from their childhoods. It might not be overtly or even obviously educational as it focuses more on the simplistic plot, but there's little tidbits here and there to subliminally slip into your children's minds.

If there's something you want me to review (or want a more in depth review of the movies above or previous ones), check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Quick Anime Review

Shiki + Specials (2010) | Rating: 4.5/5

I feel like this is a series that people should be talking about. I don't know if they did when it came out, but I will definitely mention my thoughts about it here. Vampire concepts have been done, of course, so the challenge is to make the concept interesting and this anime does that. What they do differently is play on the secondary concept of good and evil, making the viewer decide whether to side with the humans or the "vampires". The choice seems obvious in the beginning, but when you learn more about certain characters, your conscience tends to sway and you want to sympathize with them. The story is very interesting and the pacing is great. If you watch the special episodes, which aren't necessary for viewing, it offers supplementary story outside of the main cast which is just as entertaining to see. Lastly, I want to praise the unique, somewhat dark artwork that complimented the tone of the show.

Tokyo Ghoul (2014) | Rating: 2.5/5

I saw some hype for this show via Tumblr; not as much as Attack on Titan or Free! Eternal Summer, but enough that it has gained attention from avid anime viewers. I was intrigued by the artwork, concept, and the character appearances to check out this show (more specifically Uta). The concept kinda meshed around my brain since I was finishing up Shiki at the same time. So, I guess human eating is a thing. heh The constant complaint I hear from fans is that the anime misses crucial storyline and development that the manga offered. Whether I knew this or not, the story did feel like there were parts missing, which is quite unfortunate because I truly wanted to get into this show. At the moment, it doesn't seem like any American distributor has picked up the manga series for English translator, but I hope the popularity of the anime changes that as I would like to get into it more and perhaps join the Uta love bandwagon.

Free! (2013) & Free!: Eternal Summer (2014) | Rating: 3.5/5

This will be my first entry into the realm of sports anime. Never had a real interest in it, but I was never opposed to it either. The genre just never came to mind really. I heard about this series quite a lot last year and of course everyone and their feels were everyone on social media about the latest season. So, I figured I'd give it a shot and it was actually pretty entertaining. The show is more than just fanservice for lonely otaku girls. It presents a story about friendship and, obviously, the trials and tribulations of competitive swimming. The characters are interesting, fun, and unique and make the story entertaining. So, guys, if you want to watch the swim anime and you're afraid you'll run into some boy love territory, don't worry. Man up and check it out!

Kuroshitsuji II + Specials (2010) | Rating: 3/5

I enjoyed the first season, despite the gripes some fans had about the series compared to the manga. I will admit as I delved further into the manga, I started enjoying it more than the first season as well, but I didn't dislike the first season. Since Kuroshitsuji: Book of Circus came out this year, I figured I'd catch up on the rest of the anime. It took me a while to get into the second season, mostly because I disliked Alois Trancy's personality a lot. Claude Faustus was an interesting butler for him and Hannah and the triplets added something a little different, but they just can't compare to the undeniable chemistry that Ciel and Sebastian have. It wasn't until the end half of the series that I got a little more involved with the series. Compared to the first season, it seemed a bit unnecessary. As for the specials, those were quite entertaining, non-cannon stories.

Zankyou no Terror (2014) | Rating: 4.5/5

Similar to last year, I didn't watch everything or even close to every new series this year, but I would declare this series the best of 2014. Like Danganronpa, I don't think this series was talked about that much, which is a shame. Before going into it, I didn't know much about the story, but the behind the scenes element was leading toward a winning series. You have the director of Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo Shinichiro Watanabe and acclaimed composer Yoko Kanno doing the soundtrack. That's a win-win already! The story and art is fantastic and presents a more serious tone that is not seen in Watanabe's well known series I mentioned earlier. Those series have serious moments with a dash of comedy relief, but there is no laughing matters in this daring anime. I highly recommend this series for those who are fans of Watanabe or anime fans who want something more mature and serious.

If there's something you want me to review, check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Quick Movie Review

Let Me In (2010, USA) | Rating: 2/5

I heard about this movie through a friend and was told to avoid the American remake, but I got curious and wanted to compare. I know I didn't review the Swedish original movie as I didn't have much to say about it. It wasn't a bad movie at all, it was more so I didn't know what to talk about. It was a good movie and explored some new areas with vampires that not many mediums touch on. In the remake, it seems a bit lackluster in places. The characters aren't as interesting and they wanted to make matters a bit more gruesome. Chloë Grace Moretz didn't give her character much depth or offer the viewer some sort of emotional attachment compared to the original and Kodi Smit-McPhee's character was either bland or a little annoying. In short, the remake was unnecessary, so I suggest to watch the original Swedish version. There is an optional English audio track, so there's no excuses!

Grand Piano (2013, Spain) | Rating: 2.5/5

This is the second Elijah Wood film I've watched recently that I've never heard about. At least, not in mainstream movie news. I was intrigued by it because he's in it and the premise seemed simple, but somewhat interesting. The movie presents a slightly unique hostage take with a piano performance. Wood's character has been on hiatus from playing and is part of a special concert, but a threat shifts the atmosphere of his return performance as an avid fan or piano enthusiast threatens Wood's character through his phone. Despite the simplicity of the plot, there's some good tension going on, even if you can somewhat predict what is going to happen a few steps ahead of the movie. I thought the movie was entertaining enough, but probably isn't all that memorable compared to the last movie I reviewed of his, Maniac. Of course, it doesn't compete with The Lord of the Rings series or even The Good Son. If you're curious, I will not discourage anyone from seeing it.

The Dark Crystal (1982, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5

I know this Jim Henson classic has been a part of many people's childhoods, but I've actually never seen it until now. Since watching Syfy's Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge, it made me interested in watching more of his movies. I know this movie is one of people's favorite childhood movies and I can understand why. It might seem a little dated at times, but honestly the puppetry is still very effective to this day and the story is very simple for children. It isn't too dark, but it has a tiny sense maturity for an older set of children. The characters are easy to distinguish and feel the appropriate feelings for. I can also understand the nostalgic feeling this movie brings, even if you've never seen, but have seen something similar to it.

Frankie & Alice (2010, Canada) | Rating: 2.5/5

I don't really pay attention too closely to a lot of actors, but I may be wrong on this one, I think Halle Berry might've hit a little slump with movies lately. I remember seeing previews for this, but never spotted it in theaters, so I'm wondering whether it didn't do too well in the box office or it was simply a limited release situation. Nonetheless, I'm surprised my workplace had it in its collection and I proceeded to check it out. Even though multiple personalities have been tackled in movies, I thought it had a nice little variation on the subject matter. Halle Berry did a pretty decent job with the material given. The movie in general wasn't anything spectacular, but it is worth giving a chance. The subject matter does deal a little more than just multiple personality disorder, but other potential problems that Berry's character is facing with her family and past.

Son of God (2014, USA) | Rating: 3/5

This is probably a rare sight to see. A religious movie! Yeah, I saw this one with my church as a favor to my mom and it was pretty good. I vaguely remember this movie being taken from a television mini-series, The Bible. To the trained eye, you can tell that this was a made for TV movie by the way it is shot, but there are hints in the way the story flows that this was taken from somewhere else. I enjoyed the content presented in the movie, but the editing isn't very smooth as it feels like fragments from something bigger, which it is. I think I would rather watch the series to fill in the gaps and see the story flow more smoothly. Despite the progression, the content itself is enjoyable and the actors did a great job with their roles. I also want to applaud the casting director for the diversity as well. Too bad Exodus didn't do the same thing.

If there's something you want me to review (or want a more in depth review of the movies above or previous ones), check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Quick Movie Review

Lars and the Real Girl (2007, USA) | Rating: 4/5

This was a recommendation by a good friend and I trust her taste. I didn't know what direction would this movie would go considering the concept was about having a relationship with a doll. Yes, a doll. I'm sure those who are in the know of Japanese taboo trends might be familiar with real girls or sex dolls. There's also the possibility you've watched My Strange Addiction or heard of Davecat on a talk show. Anyway, it deals with that. The movie stars Ryan Gosling who seems almost unrecognizable to my eyes and does a fantastic job playing this socially awkward man who simply wants to find a love similar to his brother. He's a very simple man and so innocent, so it is easy to care for his character the same way the people in his town do. Overall, I thought this was a cute and entertaining film that has a good balance of comedy and drama. It does a successful job of involving your emotions with the characters, but not overly forcing them out to consciousness.

American Grindhouse (2010, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5

I don't want to make it a habit of reviewing documentaries, but if I come across some that are worth mentioning then I will. This is one I want to mention as I am a film graduate and don't really know much about the grindhouse genre aside from Death Race and Planet Terror. If you want to know more about the genre, this is a good documentary that delves into the history, influences, subgenres, and related genres while still being entertaining. After watching it, I felt more comfortable in identifying and perhaps casually speaking about grindhouse films. Even more interesting for me are the close ties it has to the "controversial" journey that the horror genre has undergone over the years.

Think Like a Man Too (2014, USA) | Rating: 2.5/5

It's still a little surprising that a self help book received a movie in the first place, but it's even more surprising that a sequel was green lit. If you haven't read my quick review for the first movie, you're probably thinking that I didn't like it, but I did find it surprisingly entertaining. The sequel does lack a little of the charm and quality of entertainment as the first one, but it is tolerable. There's extra screen time with Kevin Hart and his over the top antics that can either seem embarrassing or somewhat funny. In the end, producing a sequel seemed completely unnecessary, but overall pretty harmless.

Super 8 (2011, USA) | Rating: 4/5

When this movie came out, my mother urged me to check it out as it had to deal with filmmaking, but I wasn't really interested. A little interest sparked when my workplace received the DVD for its collection and I found it fairly interesting. It does give some insight into the filmmaking process while fusing it together with sci-fi elements. I thought the child actors did a fantastic job and the pacing and tension build up were well thought out, but that's not surprising with such an acclaimed director as J.J. Abrams. Throughout the movie, I didn't know what to expect and the movie hardly gave any hint of predictability. Whether you're interested in filmmaking, enjoy sci-fi, or simply like J.J. Abrams' film, I would recommend you give this one a try.

The Angriest Man in Brooklyn (2014, USA) | Rating: 2.5/5

I've never heard about this movie until post-mortem Robin Williams and commercials for the DVD were running. I did read about some wise words passed down by Williams to Mila Kunis while they worked together. The premise didn't seem like anything new as there have been a handful of movies about someone dying in a short amount of time and trying to undo their bad behavior. Despite the unoriginal plot, I still wanted to check out because...Robin Williams. *shrugs* I must say, this movie wasn't anything special. It was a little odd seeing Robin Williams so angry and foul mouth, but that's what the character called for. The string of events that Kunis and Peter Dinklage face to get in contact with Williams' character is kinda...silly. It's not a terrible film, but if you skip out on it during your Robin Williams marathon, you're not missing out on anything.

If there's something you want me to review (or want a more in depth review of the movies above or previous ones), check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Quick Movie Review

The Boxtrolls (2014, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5

It's always refreshing to see a kids film that utilizes stop animation. I have a great appreciation for all the people who put effort into such a tedious form of animation too. This was a cute little movie for an older set of kids and perhaps even adults who enjoy movies like ParaNorman and Coraline. The tone is very similar of having this dark, slightly mature atmosphere and style. Much like those movies I mentioned, I'm not sure if younger kids would receive this movie well, hence my suggestion of older kids to adults, as some themes and characters may seem a bit disturbing. It's a very simple story and puts into perspective that family does not have to be your conventional mom, dad, and child(ren). There are all sorts of different types of families out there and just because they're not your typical structure does not affect the kid negatively. It's all about the love you give.

Alice Sweet Alice (1976, USA) | Rating: 3/5

I believe my interest for this movie came from a YouTube list of scary movies or scary moments in horror movies. I try my best to check out horror movies from the past, especially if they made an impact on cinema or the horror genre. While watching this movie, I couldn't help but think of other bad little kid movies like Children of the Corn, Bad Seed, The Good Son, and so on, but this movie takes a creative spin on the bad kid concept. In some ways, you kinda want to sympathize with Alice as her aunt always gives her a hard time and her sister receives a lot of favoritism over her. So, in a way, you understand her motive. The crazy thing is that the whole time you believe one thing, but it's really something else and when it gets to the end, you have no idea what to believe of the whole situation. The story is pretty entertaining and keeps you thinking, despite the overacting. So, check it out if you appreciate older horror movies.

Suicide Room (2011, Poland) | Rating: 4/5

This movie was recommended to me by a friend and I did have it have saved to watch later on YouTube. Ah, copyright... Anyway, I received the DVD at work and I was excited to see what was in store for me as I watch it. Little did I know that there was no English audio option for watching the video, so subtitles ahoy! I have no problem with that obviously, I'm quite used to it, but it was interesting hearing people speak Polish. So, the movie, I thought it was very interesting and nothing close to anything I would have imagined. I wasn't sure whether the title would coincide with the actual content, but it does, so I will definitely say this movie isn't for everyone. It may be triggering to some people as it deals with bullying, sexual identity, self harm, and, the obvious, suicide. The movie and subject matter are handled very well, despite some IMDb commenters accusing the main character of being a selfish brat. I can somewhat see that little trait, but it is not very prominent and he does deal with issues any person his age would deal with. Nonetheless, the movie provides its viewers sympathy toward our protagonist and that is very important in a matter such as this.

Jawbreaker (1999, USA) | Rating: 2.5/5

Reading the information on Wikipedia, I have learned that this is indeed inspired by Heathers, which is a movie I would recommend to those who love Mean Girls. As similar as this movie is to Heathers, it didn't leave that great of a taste in many people's mouths as it didn't succeed in box offices. I thought the movie was alright, but nothing as satisfying or repeatable as its inspiration or Mean Girls. It's not terrible or unwatchable, but it lacks something that the other two movies have which is lasting personality. The blame lies within the flimsy, try too hard script. I can say that the actors tried their best to accommodate.

Eden Lake (2008, UK) | Rating: 2.5/5

I've seen this movie on a few horror movie sites and Tumblrs that recommend this movie. I've also seen it on a couple DVD previews as well. Nonetheless, I was intrigued by it one way or another. There were a couple moments I thought of Wolf a good way as there were tiny positives in that horrid movie. I've seen plenty of facepalm worthy trip movies and they all have tropes. The biggest factor is the ultimate threat. Could be disease, a curse, cannibals, a group of people, whatever. I wasn't completely impressed with this movie, but it definitely was the best thing I've seen in this category of people or couples going on trips and being threatened by who knows what. Although, it did present some frustration, both good and bad, and it had to deal with said threat. While the enemy does successfully give the viewer enough fuel to want to watch them burn, the resolution leaves a terrible burnt taste in your mouth. It's sad to say that they should've taken a page from Hostel and give a little victory for the protagonist and viewers.

If there's something you want me to review (or want a more in depth review of the movies above or previous ones), check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

"How Do I Look?" by Beenzino
I like Beenzino. He's probably not in the top of my favorite Korean rappers list, but I think he's alright. So, I heard this song through a friend's KCON 2014 video and thought it was pretty smooth. I guess this was a supplementary or promotional song for Korea's Next Top Model: Guys & Girls. For some reason, I find it amusing they're following this silly decision from the American version. Anyway, it has a very simplistic beat with Beenzino casually rapping over it while he somewhat interacts with the models and scenery. I'm not sure if these people are actual contestants or just there for this video, but I like the bold choices of having them interact with each other both playfully and flirtatious no matter the gender, then letting Beenzino somewhat react to it. It's pretty simple track to nod along to and the video is kinda amusing.

"Can You Hear Me?" by Lucky J
Honestly, I thought that Lucky J was some male duo featuring Ailee, but upon closer look (and some research) that that is not the case. Similar to hip-hop trios CLOVER and MFBTY, we have two males and a female in a group delivering some flaw free music to break up the monotony of kpop. This is a beautiful balance of beauty and sorrow. Between Jessi and J-Yo's vocals, they present a great deal of tone and emotion to emphasis the message and dreary setting of the video and song. It's very impressive and definitely draws me in to listen more. J'Kyun's portions don't take away from that at all. It just adds a little more spice to a song that could seem like any other song of its kind. I like the simple environment of the group is in with a few special effects and more dependence on lighting and subtle dramatic acting with the singers. I look forward to hearing more from Lucky J in the future and hope they don't fade away any time soon.

For some reason "GUNSHOTS" cannot be viewed in our country, although it is a pretty awesome PV. Perhaps I'll add it to the list later when I find an available version of it. Nonetheless, this music video is just as pleasing as "GUNSHOTS". A somewhat similar concept to Acid Black Cherry's dual badass and dorky personas, we have this video of the innocent, dorky newcomers SiM and the already established, dark badass SiM interacting and competing with each other. It's amusing and pretty entertaining. It fits the lyrics and stays with their established style of playful badassness, but somewhat laid back style of rock that can also make you move on your feet and flat out headbang to the roar of MAH. Really looking forward to listening to their new mini album!

"You Lie" by coldrain
Similar to SiM, I'm always pumped to hear and see new things from coldrain and hope that they come to America in the near future. It's surprising the approach they went with this video. It goes between a story with some western actors having a conflict among each other and the band performing the song to us. The story is interesting and is emphasized by the powerful music and shouts from Masato. The bass really hits the ear, the guitar keeps the pace going with some added emotion, and the drums are quick and complement the basslines. I'm greatly looking forward to their follow up from their last album, The Revelation.

"Alive" by The Dirty Youth
Hearing the news of some of my little known female fronted bands touring in my area has me extra pumped to see a couple of them updating their Facebook pages with new material, this is one of them, although they're not touring anywhere near me. It's a simple band centric video some creative uses for camera movements: pans, zooms, a bit of shakiness, and rocky motions. The song and Danni's delivery of the lyrics help keep the video from being too boring. This is a little different from their first album, but a great growth in an exciting potential direction to come in their new releases.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Throwback Thursday Review: The Truman Show (1998)

Starring: Jim Carrey, Ed Harris, Laura Linney
Directed by: Peter Weir
Language: English
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 103 minutes

I've been contemplating doing a Throwback Thursday here on Muddy Cult and hopefully this idea works out well. For the Throwback Thursdays, which will not be every Thursday, I will be reaching back into my childhood, review some things I enjoy, and compare the past with the present. First, I'm going to start with a less talked about Jim Carrey gem, The Truman Show.

Truman Burbank is an insurance salesman and adjuster, who lives with his wife in suburbia. His whole life feels like the perfect, ideal old fashion dream that you might see in classic American shows like Leave It to Beaver. Strangely, Truman's life is a television show, but he doesn't know until something seems slightly off to him. Upon finding out, Truman attempts to find the truth and explore outside the world that was created for him.

Little fact about myself, Jim Carrey is one of my favorite comedic actors and there's a very good chance that you'll see my admiration for him in these segments, so I won't go into the back history of how that started. Focusing on the movie, back then and even now, I thought this was a very unique concept. A higher being playing God on someone's life. Of course, there are other movies that execute this concept just as well such as Adaptation. and Stranger Than Fiction. In this movie, Carrey's character Truman has some range for him to play with and show off to audiences who only view him as a comedic actor. Naturally, he's a hilarious guy, but when the script calls for him to delve into dramatic moments of sadness, he nails it like a pro.

There's not much more to say about Carrey's great performance, but the supporting cast deserves credit as well. I always thought the hardest thing to act is playing an actor who is playing a part. It's like actor inception or something. Majority of the cast are simply characters filling in roles of Truman's life like his best friend, wife, parents, and co-workers. Much like television shows, actors whose characters are eliminated can be brought back as other characters. For these actors, I believe they did a fabulous job executing actor inception! Going along with actors playing actors who are playing characters, Truman's first love also does a great job of breaking that imaginary veil of the show and expressing her emotions toward Truman. Lastly, the people of the control room that have set up this life for Truman display a nice variety of personalities about the whole situation. Since they've been doing this before Truman left the womb, they're very used to how the routine goes. Depending on the situation, they can be laid back, proud, and to an extent egotistical about their accomplishment on the show. The most important thing to them is producing an entertaining show that touches people's hearts and you get a few glimpses of that to remind you that this isn't real life, this is a manipulated environment that Truman has been experiencing his whole life.

It's obvious I really enjoy this movie and I just wanted to share this little Jim Carrey gem with you guys. As a film graduate, I think people who are interested in broadcast should check this one out as it shows a bit of the ins and outs of television production. Most think it's very simple to put something like this together, but there is a lot of work involved and people to manage. It's even harder when the show is running 24 hours and commercial free. You have to be dedicated and creative, especially if something doesn't go the direction you had in mind. In short, this is a very entertaining, funny, and warm hearted movie that I think anyone can enjoy.

Rating: 4.5/5

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