Friday, February 26, 2016

Fair Shake Review: Deadpool

Deadpool (2016, USA)
Recommendation: Watch in Theatres

The moment I heard Ryan Reynolds finally got the green light to do Deadpool justice after the X-Men: Origins debacle, I got really excited. I've always enjoyed the humor Ryan tended to bring to roles and I always wanted to get the background on Deadpool in film format. Then the teasers and trailers started to be released and my anticipation grew, yet I was slightly concerned. These days, trailers tend to give the best jokes away or even spoil movies. The task now was to see whether the movie had more to offer than entertaining advertisements.

Deadpool is the slightly crazy, quick witted mercenary in the comics and they transferred that straight from the page to the movie. The often self-aware comic book anti-hero is expertly portrayed by Reynolds as he jokes his way through life and the fourth wall, all while killing in style. What's great about the casting is that Weasel played by TJ Miller is also a great source of hilarious laughs. The rest is given through the chemistry between Deadpool anyone he talks to, from cab drivers, enemies, or his love interest, Vanessa.

This love interest is where the story comes in. The movie chooses to weave together "current" times with flashbacks to Deadpool's past as Wade Wilson. After being a small-time mercenary, he runs into a person of interest (Morena Baccarin) who fits right into his world. Right as the relationship begins to lead toward something more serious, Wilson's life seriously takes a turn for the worst with cancer in many vital organs. Though hesitant, he decides to resort to put his hands of a questionable organization and Ajax's experiments to rid himself of his sickness with a side of superpowers. The torturous trials Ajax implements force Wade to mutate in order to cure him. Their time together doesn't end amicably as Ajax intentionally deforms our merc with the mouth, leaving Deadpool seeking his revenge and repair to face his love again.

That revenge plot is the basis of the action of the film that I can honestly say is extremely entertaining as he's not as clean cut as the X-Men who are trying to recruit the new mutant. Every action movie thrives from the fight scenes, but survives from the storyline and this movie executes it fairly well. The pacing towards the middle of movie drags a bit in the origin section, but is overall engaging and in a room full of laughs provides a fun experience. The love story is funny but also heartwarming, and the action is heart-pumping & hilarious. If you enjoy the comic book movies of today and don't mind the language and crude humor, then this is certainly a must watch. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing this in the theater with a full crowd, but I think I could see it by myself and still enjoy it the same. In conclusion, Fox saw Deadpool as a unsure variable for success, yet I'd tell them that "X Gon' Give it to You"!

Maybe you'd like to see these related videos:

Monday, February 22, 2016

Fair Shake Review: Yona of the Dawn

Yona of the Dawn
(Genre: Fantasy, Action, Romance)

Imagine that you're a young girl who has been in love with a childhood friend for years and as a sixteenth birthday gift, that crush ends up killing your beloved father. Also, your deceased dad was the ruler of a kingdom that your crush plans on becoming king of. Oh yea! plus after the coup d'etat and escaping your lover turned murderer, you find out you're the reincarnation of the Dragon King that legendarily founded said kingdom. That premise is what got me interested in checking out this series, but there was something I found out that would make watching this different: the first half was subtitled only and the second half was dubbed.

Yona of the Dawn is a fantasy show that is set in a slightly grounded past with castles, clans, and a few myths and legends that most don't believe until they've seen them. Yona, the crimson haired princess, grew up sheltered & pampered and suddenly cast out of the castle along with her childhood bodyguard, Hak. This is all due to her cousin, Su-won, who she developed feelings for over the years. Su-won, despite his kindhearted nature, was the one who killed King Il in order to take over the Kohka kingdom. Since Yona witnessed the act, this challenges her feelings for Suwon who claimed to do for the good of Kohka before she escapes the castle.

Outside of the comfort of her former home, she learns of the ills of her people and how her father's pacifist politics allowed much of it to occur. Along with Hak, she becomes determined to take action to correct her father's effects on the kingdom. Yet, as a naive girl, she runs into an oracle who informs her that there are four dragon avatars across the kingdom who will aid her as she's the Crimson Dragon King of legend. This journey to find the four dragons is what this show chronicles, but where it also ends. Meaning this show cliff hangs with what Glass Reflection would refer to as the "Read the Manga" ending.

Although I wish the show would have continued, what it presents was very enjoyable. The action was pretty standard and the humor was timed very well. The characters in the show are developed fairly well, if not just their relationship with Yona. The obvious childhood romance you get between Yona and Hak is naturally placed, as much of the time they make fun of each other like true friends. The White Dragon, Ki-ja, is the proper, proud-to-serve type which plays well against the Green Dragon's, Jae-ha, flirtatious, free spirited demeanor. Then the other archetypes come from the Blue Dragon, Shin-ha, as the sweet, but intimidating mold and Yun "Boy Genius" as the sassy caretaker. The time spent gathering each of these characters into the plot is quite enjoyable as Yona gains more resolve to effectively help the people in the kingdom. 

The reason I wish it continued, though, comes from a subplot episode that focuses on what Su-won is doing as the new king of Kohka. Through that one episode in the second half of the series and the few moments peppered throughout the rest of it, we see what his true intentions are for the kingdom's future. It's an extremely intriguing story line to go into depth of, and how it connects to Yona's adventure would be fun to explore. Especially since we learn the next major phase is about to begin, soon after Yona's anti-climatic recruitment of the Yellow Dragon, Zeno.

This show kept me quite entertained throughout, and if you enjoy a simple action show set in a slight fantasy setting, I can recommend this show. It doesn't have too many faults in mind, it just takes getting used to the dub if you switch at the halfway mark. The dub isn't bad at all, and the soundtrack is also well done with a mix of traditional Japanese music to fit the time period and current music. The animation is up to par with current shows of this nature, but don't expect the super fluid fights scenes of the likes of One Punch Man or The Asterisk War. On I have rated this a 9, since the story was rather solid, yet hindered by ending when much more story could be told. In the current economy, I understand why more hasn't been animated though. This may be the dawn of me picking up manga again...

A few things in relation:
Jaeha, Elegy of Moonlight (Example of soundtrack's mixed styles)
Watch the series subbed (From Funimation's YouTube)
Check out InuYasha (For another Action/Romance set in the past)
Check out Claymore (For more straight up Action set in some type of past)
My Anime List

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Review: House of the Devil

Starring: Jocelin Donahue, Tom Noonan, Greta Gerwig, Dee Wallace
                                                                      Directed by: Ti West
                                                                      Language: English
                                                                             Rating: R
                                                               Running Time: 95 minutes

In 1980, Samantha is a college student who's desperate to move off campus due to having a bad roommate. She's found the perfect apartment, but she doesn't have quite enough money to put down a deposit. Thankfully, the landlady is willing to give her a few extra days to come up with the $300 needed. She answers an ad for a babysitting job to try to earn the money she needs. Of course, the potential employers are strange people in a big house. To make it more interesting, it's the night of a lunar eclipse. 

Samantha's friend, Megan, agrees to drive her to the house and pick her up after the babysitting gig is over. Our heroine learns that she'll be taking care of the homeowner's elderly mother instead of a child. If she agrees to do it, they'll pay her double the money. This should be a super easy job because Mother really likes her privacy! All Samantha will have to do is sit around and wait for a few hours. What can it hurt? It's easy money.

There's a lot of nostalgia in House of the Devil. Despite being filmed in 2009, the film looks and sounds very much like the horror of the 1970s and '80s. This is achieved by use of props, costume design and even the cinematography. I'm fairly sure this was filmed using 16mm as well. It's easy to assume that writer/director Ti West is a big fan of Tobe Hooper and other iconic directors of that era. The film even begins with text claiming that the plot is based on true events much like Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Overall, the problems for me come in where the plot is concerned. The film is very heavy on style and thin on plot. Samantha prances around the house with hardly anything happening in the first hour. There's nothing wrong with a slow paced plot. However, there has to be some exposition to carry the narrative along. Don't get me wrong. I like movies where the horror is mostly seen off screen.Those things that go bump in the night fuel more nightmares when my imagination is left to fill in the blanks. 

When events do start happening in the last twenty minutes, it causes the entire ending to feel very rushed. The plot should have been building to this moment. Where were the indicators that something more was amiss? Are we supposed to fill in these blanks on our own? The final scene in particular felt as if it was merely tacked on with the hopes of landing a chance at a sequel. Any extra points I would have given for direction or style have been taken back due to the rushed plot.

Rating: 2.5/5

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Black Sitcoms

This Throwback Thursday I wanted to do a little something for Black History Month by reflecting on my childhood and high school years. From my perspective, it seemed like the 90's was full of racial diversity compared to now, although it feels like sitcoms are becoming a little more diverse. While reading up some history about black sitcoms, it seems as though I grew up in the rise of black sitcoms, which proves my own personal point that we were truly spoiled in the 90's when it came to entertainment. In this post, I'll comment on some black sitcoms that I used to watch back in the day and even currently.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Favorite MAMA 2015 Performances

It's another year for kpop idols to claim their year end paper weights of fan achievements and bribery! I guess it's become tradition for me to cover the MAMAs every year and obviously, I'm not making a vlog about it. Why? Because I'm sure someone's covered the flaws, surprises, and wtf moments of the show already. Sure, there's plenty of criticisms I could point out to lure out the trolls, but instead I'll shake up the kpop fanbase by not including their faves in my list this year. So! Get your fingers ready for paragraph long comment on why I didn't include [insert idol/group] in my post. Here we go~

CL - The Baddest Female

I'm probably going to receive a lot of criticism for this one and most likely not because I listed CL on here. I know she gets criticism on her own. No, I expect some criticism for only including CL's performance and not the reunion of 2NE1. While I was excited to see the quartet united on the stage together performing one of their older songs, "Fire", I wasn't all that impressed with their unpolished presentation. I've seen better. But let's focus on their leader and how she can easily own the stage with a blase song. Yeah, I don't particularly care for "HELLO BITCHES" (or even "Dr. Pepper"). It's a trap mess that somehow I don't feel nauseous over like "It G Ma". Maybe it's the delivery, the attitude, the style, or just...y'know the fierce diverse female dancers slaying the stage. They work very well together and it makes the song bearable and the kids say, lit.

Jessi - Tough Enough
Song(s): Sseununni

While Jessi didn't have the fierce choreography as CL's stage, I didn't mind it. The problem I have with Korean rappers being on live shows on TV is that it seems like choreography is a requirement, which is annoying. This performance proves that the dancers could basically do whatever they want and still be synchronized. It's not strictly choreographed and it goes well with Jessi's casual, freestyle movements as she raps. She really owns the stage all on her own. Whether you believe she's as hardcore as she presents herself or not, I believed this fiercely passionate performance from her. The stage was really hers for the taking.

San E - Tough Enough
Song(s): Do It For Fun

Not one of my favorite San E songs from 2015, but he took a risk performing all alone and...I think he made the right choice. There were no back-up dancer distracting from the wild energy San E brings to the stage lyrically and physically through majority of the performance. He just seemed like a free spirit getting into his own music and losing himself in his own ego. I really wished the crowd and idols got more excited about this amazing, spitfire solo performance. There really should be more appreciation for hip-hop acts at the MAMAs, because they've had some outstanding performances on their stage and such little vocal appreciation from the audience.

Jolin Tsai - Queen of the Night
Song(s): Play

Much like Koda Kumi in 2011, I feel like the MAMAs needs more international Asian "queens" in the building. I was very much excited and surprised to see Jolin Tsai on the stage and while her performance wasn't the most hype, she delivered a satisfying performance with "Play". I loved that she had these beautiful men in high heels backing her up, while she tried to balance her singing and dancing in this great song. I wish she was able to do more on the level of Koda Kumi, but what we were given made me happy enough.

SHINee - Marvelous
Song(s): Savior & View

It's crazy how much this group has grown on me. It's so crazy that I should dedicate a whole post to it at some point, but let's focus on this performance. From the pre-recorded introduction, I knew something magical was going to happen on the stage. Whether I got into them more or not, I was confident in the stage presentation. SHINee is a reliable group when it comes to vocal and choreography skills in live settings. The performance starts with a Jonghyun solo: briefly on the piano and some dancing with floating light fixtures, then the rest of the members appear in idol cases. Since I'm still majorly behind on listening to music, this was my first listen of "Savior". Not their strongest song, but they tried their best to raise the energy and show off their vocal talents, despite bad audio management. I was happy to hear "View" live for the first time. I felt the same energy and maturity as I did when I watched the music video for the first 5 times. In short, another solid performance by SHINee.

Song(s): Trespass & Mansae

I'm still surprised that I decided not to include GOT7 and BTS's collaboration stage. I enjoy both groups greatly, but it didn't pan out as I thought it would. Last year's BTS collaboration was on point and hopefully, I'll go back and make a post on 2014's MAMAs, which I have no idea why I didn't make a post at all. I think I'm more surprised how well this collaboration came together as both groups seem so opposite of one another concept wise. MONSTA X didn't hold back with their debut track, "Trespass". It was bombastic and full of energy. Not as smooth of a transition audibly, but worked with this sweet vs. bad concept they had for this stage, SEVENTEEN went with their latest release at the time, "Mansae". While I don't enjoy it as much as "Adore U", for some reason I enjoyed watching this live more than I did when I first watched the music video. Yes, school stages have been done hundreds of times, but they did a great job with it as well. It was a charming and energizing stage. The rap break after felt like a response to SEVENTEEN's cuteness and I loved every minute of it, flaws and all, but the best part was the choreography during and after it. SEVENTEEN killed it! Overall, they worked very well together and it was pleasantly unexpected.

Psy - 2015 Psy Returns
Song(s): Napal Baji, Daddy, & Gangnam Style

Surprise, surprise! Psy is on my list. No, I haven't jumped on the Psy bandwagon yet, but I have to admit that the man knows how to bring his world onto any stage he steps on...or at least the couple performances I've seen on the MAMAs. "Napal Baji" brings a fun disco Vegas feel to the stage with flashy lights and disco inspired dance which some kpop fans may recognize from the chorus of T-ara's "Roly Poly". Out of the two new releases, this one was my least favorite, but it was enjoyable enough for me to listen to it a couple times. The light effect dub step break between songs was pretty cool, even though it wasn't perfectly synchronized, but it brought both songs together nicely. "Daddy" was a song that's hard not to enjoy with its high energy and catchy beat. The dance is also a little infectious as well. Honestly, I could feel myself feel a little hype build inside when this song came up. Psy really works his body out during this song and I give him major kudos throughout the whole performance. Of course, he couldn't leave the stage without performing his viral hit "Gangnam Style", which manages to carry the same high energy and fun as it did when it was first released. It was nice to see the other idols and presenter let loose and enjoy the music together.

Big Bang - Truth + Dare

No matter how underwhelmed I felt about Big Bang's new material, I always seem to find a place for them on my MAMAs list. One thing they excel at is stage presence. They know how to bring the house down and the energy threw the roof. While I don't completely dislike the songs they released last year, it was fun watching them perform them for this "prestigious" award ceremony for the fans. "LOSER" presented a beautiful emotional performance that I rarely see from the group and I really enjoyed the set up with the lights and the members facing different directions toward the crowd. "BAE BAE" gave the crowd some sex appeal with a dash of fun in the chorus and of course, most people's favorite moment, Seungri sitting on EXO's Sehun's lap as he delivered his verse. Much like "Fantastic Baby", "BANG BANG BANG" was the grand finale of energy, making the stage their own personal party. The highlight of that performance were the female dancers during the intro. They were amazing and slayed the choreography harder than anyone else on the stage.

Zion.T x Kim Seol Jin - Bridge of Memories
Song(s): Yanghwa BRDG

Every year, I go blindly into MAMAs not knowing who's performing and after seeing this performance, I'll most likely keep it that way. Seeing Zion.T on stage, let alone in the building, was a huge surprise for me. I feel like the mainstream doesn't appreciate his artistry and I'm happy he stayed true to himself in this performance of "Yanghwa BRDG". It's a song that I might've listened to twice at most, not because I dislike it but because it's slower than his usual tracks and those I listen to less often. I did watch this whole performance, because it's Zion.T. I was happy that the crowd went crazy within the first few notes. Hearing Zion.T's soulful voice and the piano echo throughout the venue really hit my heart and soul. It was truly perfection and passion. I'm assuming Kim Seol Jin is the dancer and he really brought out the emotion and passion that Zion.T expressed in his voice through his body. I enjoyed the interactions between him and the onscreen illustrations. Truly, this was the best performance of the evening.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Quick Movie Reviews

Someone Like You (2001, USA) | Rating: 3/5
Jane has a theory about why men leave women; a bull never mounts the same cow twice. Eddie is a womanizer, who seems to embody everything Jane believes is wrong with men. Is she right? Are all men animals? The strength of this film is entirely on it's cast. Ashley Judd and Hugh Jackman carry this plot on their capable shoulders. It's their chemistry that really makes the film. 

The Wedding Date (2005, USA) | Rating: 3/5
Kat has a problem. She's single and in need of an impressive date for her pretty, younger sister's wedding. The best man is none other than the former fiance who broke her heart. What's a girl to do? Hire a handsome escort to accompany her. This is another example of a film that's held together by it's leading cast. It simply wouldn't work without Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney. Debra gives Kat a loveable, somewhat confused, but hopeful nature. She wants to find love and be loved. Dermot plays Nick with a reserved, cool charm that saves the character from becoming too cartoonish. 

The Decoy Bride (2011, UK) | Rating: 4/5
Lara is a famous actress who's trying to marry her writer fiance. However, the paparazzi keeps getting in the way. When Lara and James find a small island to get married at, they never expect the locals to call the press. Will having a fake wedding give the couple a chance to marry in peace? Katie, a broken hearted local girl, ends up involved in the mix. There's a lot going on in this one. It pokes fun at celebrities while fulfilling all the needed aspects of a romantic comedy. Kelly Macdonald is absolutely adorable. Have you ever wondered what Doctor Who would be like in a romcom? Here's your chance to know.

13 Going on 30 (2004, USA) | Rating: 3/5
Thirteen year old, Jenna wants to be popular and believes she will be when she's thirty. When magical dust grants her wish, she learns that 30 isn't what she expected at all. The strength with this one is all in Jennifer Garner. This is probably her best, cutesy performance. 13 Going on 30 is a romantic 'be careful what you wish for' tale. Most of the time, it certainly doesn't end up how you imagined it would be. 

Can't Buy Me Love (1987, USA) | Rating: 3/5
1980s romantic movies are some of my favorites. Films like Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink were the ideal of what romance was supposed to be. Can't Buy Me Love falls into that category quite fully. Ronald is a nerdy teenager, hoping to buy a telescope with the money he's saved all summer. When he sees that Cindy needs money to replace an outfit she ruined, Ronald offers to rent her in order to get popular. This movie was probably the first I can remember with Patrick Dempsey. He would go on to become a dreamy doctor in Grey's Anatomy, but first he was nerdy Ronald. Who wouldn't hope that you'd have a chance to win the heart of a popular girl and make friends?

Friday, February 12, 2016

Fair Shake Review: Unbreakable Smile - Tori Kelly

Unbreakable Smile - Tori Kelly
(Genre: Pop, Singer-Songwriter)

Oh, where to start with this girl? My first impression of her original work was her EP, Handmade Songs by Tori Kelly that she wrote, produced, and released herself. Then after falling in love with her soulful and positive vibe, I did my research and found out that she used to be a contestant on American Idol. Proceeding her time there, she started writing and performing covers on YouTube and steadily grew her following. The EP, strongly led by the single "Confetti", brought her to Scooter Braun and signing to Capitol Records. Her major label debut came in the form of another EP with Dear No One as the standout track which set the perfect stage for this first full LP.

This album, Unbreakable Smile, I'm reviewing now because this has been re-released with two additional tracks. The original version came out last summer with the smash single, "Nobody Love", and followed by "Should've Been Us". These songs, along with the title track, solidified what to expect from this little California girl: uplifting lyrics with a 90's R&B and Pop flair delivered with powerful vocals. With comparisons to JoJo, you can sense a general idea of what you will hear. The great thing you get with this project is a mixture of upbeat songs, endearing ballads, encouraging tunes, and introspective music about life. Seriously, this the kind of album you can turn on and enjoy the ride, with a few guests to carpool like Ed Sheeran and even LL Cool J!

Her Best New Artist Grammy nomination is well deserved as you can tell from this collection of music. The addition of the two songs is nice for those who weren't already in possession of the first version, but a simple purchase of them would suffice. "Hollow" is a grand song in dedication to God in notice of how nothing would be possible without Him. "Something Beautiful" on the other hand is a jazzy, feet-tapping ditty that is the embodiment of positive reinforcement. These songs still fit in well with the original tunes like "Funny" that is played live and displays her raw feelings about trying to maintaining integrity and hope when it seems the hardest to do so.

I certainly can recommend this project to anyone who likes feel-good pop music with a throwback vibe. Personally, my standouts would include "Funny", "Something Beautiful", and "Unbreakable Smile" as mentioned before. Yet, my absolute favorite would be "Talk" with its rhythmic guitar chord progression and hypnotic drum pattern paired with her lilting vocals over the verses. The small change up for the bridge is to die for when it comes to its melody for me and I can't help but replay this song about being upfront & communicating with the ones you love. Her whole aura exudes bringing happiness to the world, and that's a message I would always support. It helps it sung so expertly with her powerful and well trained voice of an angel.

For some cool videos on Tori Kelly:

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Quick Movie Review

The Peanuts Movie (2015, USA) | Rating: 4/5

Young or old, the Peanuts franchise has been part of your childhood or is currently part of your childhood. When a Peanuts movie was announced, I was a little worried that it would end up like most nostalgic properties: dumbed down and delusional. Fortunately, the movie offered a good balance of fast paced action and dialogue for the kiddos and nostalgia for the older crowd who remember the comics and shows from back in the day. The shift to CG animation didn't detract from the comics classic style and showcased a great variety of colors and emotions for the characters that'll keep audiences smiling. In short, the movie was very satisfying and should be a lesson on how to take a nostalgic property and make it entertaining for all ages.

The Loft (2015, USA) | Rating: 1.5/5

I've never heard of this movie, until a co-worker recommended it to me. And boy, *sighs* I was not amused. The story seemed promising and the actors gave me hope, but I ended up mostly frustrating with actions of the selfish, dumb characters and the conclusion just made me facepalm...hard. While a couple of the men were quite charming, despite them being pigs too, the others' selfishness and level of infidelity mostly overshadowed any bit of good they had. I know that was probably the point of the story, but if we were supposed sympathize with at least one of the characters even a little bit, the movie failed to provide that. I later learned by a friend that this movie is a remake by the same name and I'm not really persuaded to really watch it. I'm sure someone will like this movie, like the co-worker who recommended it to me, but for someone like me, I found it more frustrating, annoying, and stupid.

Dope (2015, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5

Sometimes you just gotta give a little known indies film a chance and enjoy yourself. As a POC [surprised? lol], I was expecting this movie to connect to me personally on some level did. While I didn't grow up in a dangerous neighbor with drug deals, gangs, or anything, I could still relate to the characters not fitting into the societal norms of what "black" is. While the movie doesn't completely focus on the awkward struggle of blackness, it does play a part in the narrative and the situation for our main character Malcolm. His relationship with his friends, a beautiful girl, a stranger with a hefty deal, his academic future, and his morals keep you rooting for him and wanting to him succeed in this crazy and unfortunate situation. It's funny and entertaining and sometimes unbelievable, but I feel that anyone could enjoy this indie flick and take something away from it.

Hidden (2015, USA) | Rating: 4.5/5

Alexander Skarsgård + zombies = a good time for Miko.
Yes, I shamelessly watch certain movies for the actors, whether they're good or bad. Haven't you seen the countless Johnny Depp movies I powered through? heh Anyway, I expected this straight to DVD release of horror to be bad with some lovely eye candy, but surprise, surprise! I actually enjoyed this post-apocalyptic/infection flick. I saw a preview for it and it actually looked interesting, although I had some doubts that it'd be anything worth recommending. The story is a slow build of mystery as the characters remain underground for a good majority of the movie, but once they go above ground, you have no idea what to expect. Is it zombies, aliens, strange creatures, the government? The unknown on the surface really keeps you engaged and even when they arrive on the surface, the action doesn't hesitate to pick up. Things go so fast, you almost have to double back to figure out what the heck is going, but really, it's easy to keep up with the twists and turns of this thriller. Check it out for not only Mr. Skarsgård, but the fabulous, exciting story and brilliant character development.

Final Girl (2015, Canada) | Rating: 2.5/5

Since it was around the time Scream Queens and American Horror Story: Hotel were still on air, it was interesting seeing a movie starring both Abigail Breslin and Wes Bentley together. Granted I have seen her in another horror movie by the name of Maggie recently. Anyway, I didn't expect too much from this flick as it didn't seem to have that emotional touch that Maggie did, but it was definitely entertaining. I think if the writer(s) put more effort in the details of Breslin's backstory and motivation, then I think this movie would be even better. The movie isn't terrible in the least, but it isn't something I would recommend strongly. The story is weak and it requires you to turn your brain off while watching. There's not much depth in the plot and you simply have to take what's given to you. With quick execution, it does successfully cover the basic points of the plot and that at least makes it fun.

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, February 8, 2016

Top Five Recommended Music Videos

It's rare that I listen to the radio these days. Usually, I just pop in a cd or listen to my ipod. There were a few days last week when I was a bit tired of hearing the same things over again. I decided to give the radio a chance which led to hearing some songs I wouldn't have otherwise. Below, you'll find the songs and videos that stuck in my head or made an impression.

Grizfolk - Troublemaker
I'd never heard of this band before. Troublemaker is from their debut album, 'Waking the Giants'. It has quite a catchy chorus that gets stuck in my head. There's something else about the song that I like, but can't quite put my finger on. I might have to check out the rest of the album to see whether it holds up to this catchy song. The video features a familiar face in The Walking Dead's Josh McDermitt (Eugene). I'm not sure how the kidnapping plot of the video relates to the song though.

Silversun Pickups - Nightlight
For a band that formed in 2002, Silversun Pickups didn't manage to show up on my radar. Their debut album was released in 2006. The song in question is from their fourth album, Better Nature, which was released in September 2015. Nightlight was one of those songs that slowly grew on me. I wasn't sure if I liked it at all. The more I heard it, the more I liked it. The dual vocals work well on the song. Their sound is pretty reminiscent of 90s bands like The Smashing Pumpkins. It was later that I discovered the video stars Meg Steedle (Boardwalk Empire). In seven minutes and forty-five seconds, the director has captured everything Ryan Murphy wished he could have done with American Horror Story: Hotel.

Miike Snow - Genghis Khan
My next choice features a James Bond inspired video. Miike Snow is a Swedish indie pop trio that formed in 2007. Once again, I'd never heard of them despite two of the members being responsible for songs like Britney Spears' Toxic. Their debut album was released in 2009. This song, however, was released in December 2015. From the opening seconds, it's quite an earworm. The lyrics depict a man who feels irrationally jealous about someone he's not quite sure he wants to keep in his life. I'm quite amused by the video! It's so campy and fun.

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats - S.O.B
Where have I been for all these artists? Nathaniel Rateliff has been doing folk-pop since 2005. He formed Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats in 2013. Their self-titled release came out in August of 2015. The lead single, S.O.B., reminds me of old soul and blues songs. It's quite fun to sing along with. The video is a hommage to The Blues Brothers film from 1980. I'm quite curious to hear more from this group with their soulful sound.

Highly Suspect - Lydia
This trio traces their beginnings back to 2009. I'm really starting to wonder why I'm not listening to more modern rock radio. They released their second full-length album, Mister Asylum, in July 2015. Lydia was the first single from the album. It's a song that quickly stuck with me. It's not surprising that it peaked at number 4 on the mainstream rock charts. The video features a woman submerged underwater and unable to escape. It's quite a concept that ties in well with the lyrics.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Mini Movie Reviews (The 5th Wave/Dirty Grandpa)

The 5th Wave (2016, USA)
Recommendation: Rent

Now, with this movie I was interested strictly from the trailer and my (guilty) fascination with Chloë Grace Moretz. While leading up to the release, I learned that this was another book adaptation and that meant...well, I'm not reading it. It's not a crime, so don't throw the book at me! (haha...get it?) Anyway, I just knew that really meant there would be a lot of tropes I had to expect. I must say that "The 5th Wave" delivered; it had a cool premise with a few predictable moments, but a fun execution.

Thus, I have got to let you know that if you don't mind the typical teen adaptations of today, there's nothing to really hate. The acting is pretty good, the action is as to be expected, and there's a decent story. I enjoyed that the main protagonist wasn't always in the forefront and wasn't suddenly BA, but there are still some "because protagonist" scenarios. Although this film has some sci-fi elements, it's very grounded, but keeps the usual theme of maintaining humanity. It ends like there could be a sequel, but time will tell if sales warrant one. I'd keep up with it, but probably not in theaters.

Dirty Grandpa (2016, USA)
Recommendation: Theaters w/ friends

Dirty Grandpa was one of those comedies I was on the fence about seeing. From every ad I saw, I knew it could be really bad or really hilarious. In my opinion, Zac Efron has been a lot of duds, but Robert De Niro tends to have better judgement when landing roles. That hope led me to seeing one outrageous and funny movie.

Like many college aimed comedies, there's a lot of crude and sexual humor as hinted by the title. The movie crams in so many absurd situations with a horny grandpa and great timing. It helps that De Niro led the comedy while Zac played straight man, because otherwise this may have been one of those duds. Yet outside of these co-stars, Adam Pally playing the idiot cousin & Aubrey Plaza as a senior hungry horndog made some memorable additions to a couple scenes. The show stealer to me would go to Jason Mantzoukas, though, since every part he's onscreen skyrockets the zaniness of the situation and he gets away with it, "because it's Florida!"

This is certainly a great movie to see with your friends as it will have you rolling with laughter throughout. The story hits a little on the message of making the most out of life no matter the age, and will curveball a few clichés along the way. Of course the ending you get is what you expect, but what takes you there might surprise you. On a side note, I wonder how this will carry over to Neighbors 2...

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Throwback Thursday: The Others (2001)

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston, Fionnula Flanagan
Directed by: Alejandro Amenábar
Language: English
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 104 minutes

I vaguely remember renting this movie with my mother from Blockbuster. I remember enjoying it quite a lot back then and being very impressed with the conclusion of the movie as well as my mother. It was a good and different movie for the time. So, does it still hold up in my mind?

A woman named Grace retires with her two children to a mansion on Jersey, towards the end of the Second World War, where she's waiting for her husband to come back from battle. The children have a disease which means they cannot be touched by direct sunlight without being hurt in some way. They will live alone there with oppressive, strange and almost religious rules, until she needs to hire a group of servants for them. Their arrival will accidentally begin to break the rules with unexpected consequences. [source: IMDb]

The Others was another great contribution to ghost stories in cinema. With a fantastic cast, it wasn't hard to be sucked into their world and become part of their daily routine. Nicole Kidman plays the overprotective and traditionally religious mother Grace Stewart and she does an amazing job delivering a great range of emotions and allowing us to care about her children almost as much as she does. The child actors also do just as amazing job making us care about them and pulling the viewer further into the story. Watching these children do their lessons made me feel bad for them and they're barely allowed to be children, since Grace is so strict with them. I understand that they're sensitive to the sunlight, but they deserve a little fun every now and then. The hired help also do a great job as supporting characters. Most of them get minimal screen time, but they play just as big of a part as Kidman's character and the children, especially Mrs. Bertha Mills. Lastly, the set pieces and costumes really pull you into the era of this movie. You can easily feel the despair and fear that lingers in this large household as subtly strange things happen around the mansion.

Since the movie came out before the era of fast pace storylines and jump scares, the newer generation of horror fans may find themselves impatient with this slow pace storytelling, then again those who enjoy movies before that era may feel the same as well. This nearly two hour suspense thriller definitely feels like a two hour suspense thriller. Though the story depends on such atmospheric pacing and intricacies. It has to fill important holes such as the relationship Grace has with her work staff, her children, and her husband to really pull the audience into believing everything that happens in front and around them. While I understand the choice for this speed of storytelling and have the patience for it, I do wish that they would either condense certain detailed explanations or pick up the pace a little bit. Fortunately, the acting and content make up for the slightly poor pacing and offer the audience a very satisfying and perhaps jaw dropping conclusion.

The Others is a great suspense thriller that contributes to the haunted house genre in a very positive way. Not only does Nicole Kidman deliver a solid performance as the overbearing mother Grace, but the children and house servants contribute greatly to the story and successfully pull its audience into the strange happenings of the mansion. The atmosphere is perfectly chilling and sorrowful with a bit of richness. I definitely recommend this movie if you want a change of pace from the usual "Paranormal Activities" and exorcisms of the 2010s. The twist will definitely get you.

Rating: 3.5/5

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