Thursday, July 6, 2017

Muddy Cult Monthly Favorites - February 2017 Pt. 2

Here's the second part of our February favorites!

Miko's Favorites

B.A.P - Noir (2016, South Korea)
After a shocking reconciliation with TS Entertainment, I was kinda wary about B.A.P's musical efforts as it didn't seem as strong as their previous works. Of course, time has made me enjoy songs like "Feel So Good" and "That's My Jam" quite a lot, but I was curious how things would go for their first album since the contract dispute. Honestly, I would like to thank Fuse for giving me that extra push to check out the music video for "SKYDIVE" for their little kpop countdown show or whatever, which now that I think about it, I've never seen and probably should check out at some point. "SKYDIVE" gave me everything I loved about B.A.P. that I think "Young, Wild & Free" was missing for me. The music video reminded me of my hyped up feelings when "ONE SHOT" and "BADMAN" were released. It's just very hard hitting and theatrical. Also, Jongup definitely caught my eye. Pretty much "SKYDIVE" gave me hope that I might rekindle my love (strong liking) for B.A.P with NOIR. After the first couple or so listens of the album, the stand out tracks for me were "FERMATA" (which is featured in the music video below), "I Guess I Need U", "Killer", and, of course, "SKYDIVE". These songs definitely showed growth, maturity, and range from their "WARRIOR"/"NO MERCY" days. For years, I remember B.A.P for their strong rap line and intense beats, but the ballads really showed off their vocal lines' development over the years and I can't help but feel nostalgic every time I listen to "I Guess I Need U". It wasn't until later when I finally purchased the physical CD and popped it into my car's player that I finally appreciated fan favorite track "Ribbon in the Sky", speaker banger "Pray" (which is also featured in the music video below), and semi-acoustic ballad "Walk". Overall, Noir is a very solid album that gives me hope that B.A.P is going in the right direction with the image and sound.

Moonlight (2016, USA)
Starring: Mahershala Ali, Ashton Sanders, Naomie Harris | Directed by: Barry Jenkins
Before the Academy Awards aired, I already had this movie picked as one of my favorites for the month. It winning Best Picture just solidifies how great this film really is! In rare moments that I want to see these limited release films, sometimes they play in a theater near me and for a week Moonlight appeared about a 1-2 weeks before its home DVD/Blu-ray release. My mother and I took advantage of this time to experience it on the big screen with two different mindsets. I already heard praises from my friends on Facebook and tried to avoid as many in depth (or semi-in depth reviews) to have a fresh perspective. I didn't know much about the movie other than it was pretty much a coming of age story dealing with (sexual) identity with an all black cast. Unfortunately, I neglected to tell my mother that there were some homosexual themes throughout this movie, but it didn't affect her enjoyment of the film. Honestly, when the credits began to roll, I was in awe of what I saw. There was so much to take in, from the film's structure, editing, color tones, camera and sound choices, and the acting! There was so much love and care put into this movie that I was kinda speechless. Moonlight carefully and passionately commented on hypermasculinity, sexuality, stereotypes, and society (everyday environment). It wasn't loud and brash with its message, but simply guided its viewers through this unexpected poetry that gently caresses your mind and holds onto your heart and soul. Our main character Chiron and the people he interacts with make you feel like you know these people; that they're not fictional characters simply existing to prove a point. You can't help but care about them in some form or fashion, whether its positive or negative. There's no way out of escaping this emotional journey with Chiron and wanting more from him in each chapter of this film. In short, this movie is absolutely breathtaking on so many levels! It really gives me hope and inspiration for movies showcasing black talent and going against the typical narrative when it comes to stories in urban environments. I can confidently say that this is definitely going to be in my top five favorite movies of this year. It's a film that's hard to really describe to someone and it should definitely be experienced at least twice to understand the full effect and intent of the creators.

Hate Thy Neighbor (2016, UK)
Starring: Jamali Maddix | Episodes: 6
I've been really loving the VICELAND channel! They've really done great things with its thought provoking and entertaining programming and clearly this show is another win for me. This year's presidential election was an extremely heated one that seemed to divide, or at least make obvious the division, the nation. From religious beliefs to racial issues, it seems that conservatives and liberals have been shouting at each other a little louder these past couple or so years. Here we are now with Donald Trump in office and things are still as heated as ever. So, why not take advantage of the raging debate by creating a show that gives the conservatives and hate groups the spotlight. You might think, "Why should we give these racist ignorant bigots the spotlight? Isn't that counterproductive to the problem!" Honestly, I think they deserve to prove their point and show us why they are the way they are. You know, understanding both sides of the battle. I don't know, I'm just that type of person who likes to hear both sides, even though there's a clear obvious wrong in the argument. So, we have comedian Jamali Maddix traveling the world and following various far-right supporters in the U.S., UK, and Europe. Coming from a biracial background, Jamali manages to take everything he experiences from each group in good fun and doesn't completely lash out on their ridiculous right-wing views, which is the best way to approach this sort of topic. Surprisingly, these groups mostly openly accept him in their activities and day-to-day routines, while freely expressing and explaining their beliefs and goals as group despite Jamali's more open minded, perhaps liberal, and biracial upbringing. For the most part, it kinda reminded me of The Most Hated Family in America series I watched on YouTube, which followed the Westboro Baptist Church. The difference between these two docuseries is that Hate Thy Neighbor features Jamali presenting his experiences and inner thoughts to an audience in an intimate (comedy) club setting to break up the somewhat serious narrative between him and these right-wing groups. In a time when negativity and hate is swirling around in media and politics, I think this is a great show to open your eyes and gather your thoughts on these sorts of groups and kinda learn from them. Hopefully, this isn't the last we see of Jamali in his journey, because I really love this show and everything it's doing with its presentation of the "other side".

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Volume 1: Squirrel Power (2015)
Author: Ryan North
I forgot which comic Squirrel Girl was featured in that I first saw her and fell in love with her, but she won a date with Thor. I think they went to prom or something together and it was quite amusing. Some sort of trouble occurred where Thor's shirt was ripped and he had to defend the party, then of course Squirrel Girl was obligated to touch and admire Thor's glorious abs. At that moment, I thought "Squirrel Girl is every fangirl/boy"! So, I felt the need to explore this adorable and relatable hero in her own comic book and here we are. The story begins with her undergoing a secret identity and working as a journalist of sorts. When both of her lives begin to conflict with each other, her identity is exposed and she has to take on a new life in college. College life can already be a challenge for a normal person, but watching Squirrel Girl trying to act as normal as possible while still assuming her superhero duties was quite amusing and I simply couldn't resist her charm and humor throughout this first volume. It also features Squirrel Girl's first appearance in the Marvel universe with Iron Man and Doctor Doom, which also contributes to the hilarity of her story. Squirrel Girl as a character is quite refreshing compared to her more serious and beefy counterparts. She's a plus size hero that knows how to hold her own physically and mentally with a great sense of humor and I look forward to delving further into her world in the next volume.

Ophelia's Favorites

Miranda Lambert - We Should Be Friends
I grew up in the south. Country music is a staple here. It’s not surprising that Miranda Lambert’s latest single caught my attention when I heard it playing at work. The lyrics are catchy and Miranda’s delivery is very adorable. It’s nice to see that she’s still recording after the scandals involving her former husband, Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani. The whole album is probably her strongest with songs ranging from the cute of We Should Be Friends to the emotionally raw of Tin Man and Vice.

Zayn & Taylor Swift - I Don’t Wanna Live Forever
This is another song that I keep hearing over and over on the radio. The collaboration between Zayn and Taylor ended up being easily one of her best duets. Their voices work well together.  Please ignore the embarrassing Fifty Shades connection. That movie is certainly not a recommendation!

J - One Reason
I’ve always preferred J and Inoran’s solo work to that of Luna Sea. This song is no exception. It delivers everything that I expected from the bassist. It’s certainly not the best song that he’s ever recorded. That said, I still find myself enjoying it more each time I hear it. There aren’t any frills attached when it comes to J. What you see (and hear) is what you get.

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