Monday, February 7, 2011

Top Movies of 2010

I saw a lot of movies in 2010. I couldn't pick a clear favorite so here are the top 13 in alphabetical order. The rest of the movies I saw in 2010 are listed in no order at the bottom of the page.

If it weren't for Darron Aronofsky directing this film I would have never had any desire to see it. All of his films are basically the same; someone gets obsessed with something and it drives them insane (math/drugs/eternal life/wrestling/ballet). The film is very well directed and acted. I am rooting for Natalie Portman to win the Oscar (this is one of only 2 oscars I care about this year, the other will be mentioned later). This is not a feel good movie by any means, but it is very engrossing, by the end you are questioning if what you saw was real or made up.

I saw a lot of movies this year that involved being trapped (Frozen, Buried, 127 Hours, Devil) and this was the best of the bunch. The thing that set this movie apart was that the entire movie takes place in a coffin. There are no flashbacks, there are no hallucinations (outside of the coffin), and there is nothing unbelievable in this film. As a viewer you feel trapped like the character. I felt so claustrophobic during the film that my shoulders and neck were super tense when it was over. The film could probably also work as a radio story. We only hear the character and whoever he can get ahold of on the phone that is in the coffin with him. This to me is a much better 'trapped' movie than 127 Hours which is nominated for several Oscars. The thing about 127 Hours that I didn't like is there were flashbacks and hallucinations that took place while he was trapped. It took you out of the moment and I didn't really feel what the character felt. The other Oscar I care about is that 127 Hours doesn't win for best editing, the editing was amazing, but it took away from the film, it was almost edited as a different genre of film.

I almost stayed away from this movie because M. Night produced it and we all know how quickly he can ruin a movie. But, I am pleased to say that this film was very well put together. There was plenty of suspense, mystery, and it was surprisingly creepy. 5 People are trapped in an elevator and one of them is the devil, but none of them know that until it is too late. The story came together very well and the ending wasn't really a surprise but it felt complete. All the stories wrapped up nicely. If you are a fan of horror/thriller/suspense films definitely don't miss this one.

This documentary was filmed by Theirry Guetta and wasn't originally planned to be a documentary. Guetta was obsessed with video cameras and recorded everything that he did for over a decade. He went though a phase where he followed graffiti artists around and watched them work. His ultimate goal was to meet Banksy, the worlds most famous artist. When he finally met Banksy he was reluctant to be filmed as his identity was a secret to everyone but his inner circle. But eventually Theirry Guetta won over his trust and filmed him for several months. The twist comes when Banksy takes all the graffiti footage and ends up making this documentary, about Theirry Guetta. Guetta isn't an artist, but Banksy tells him to try. He ends up creating a huge art show based on his work (he is the idea man and pays other to actually create the art). I really had no interest in graffiti before but this movie really blew me away. Banksy is a very interesting guy and is famous world wide. One of his famous stunts occurred when he broke into the Louvre and hung his own artwork in the gallery. Trust me, this film will not disappoint.

This film takes place in the early 1960s and involves a girl who is in love with a boy from 2nd-8th grade. The boy can't stand the girl. Then, he starts liking her, but she has stopped liking him. The thing that sets this movie aside is that there are two narrators, the boy and the girl. You hear the story from 2 sides giving the movie a little twist that sets it apart from other love stories. I have watched this movie twice, it is very light hearted and fun. I highly recommend this movie.

I have loved every movie that Christopher Nolan has done. In fact, Memento, his first semi-major film is one of, if not my favorite movie of all time and also the movie I saw the most in the theater (3 times in a week). Inception is not really easy to describe, it is about a guy who hacks into peoples dreams and steals their ideas for profit. In fact, I had an idea to do this very thing several years back leading me to believe that Nolan actually hacked my dream and stole my idea. Even if that is the case he wrote and directed this story much better than I ever could so I'm not too mad about it. This is by far the most complex movie on this list but somehow all my questions were answered by the end. If you like mind-f**k movies I highly suggest watching this movie.

I never watched the Jackass show because I thought it was so stupid. But, for whatever reason all of the Jackass films make me laugh until my stomach hurts. I can't explain what it is about the movies that is so hilarious but I always leave the theater with a sore stomach and sore cheeks. The third installment in 3D has some of the best gags yet, and also some of the grossest. I haven't been so close to getting physically sick in a movie since I saw Van Wilder (the dog semen cupcake scene). If you want to laugh, and you aren't offended by body fluids and language you will love this movie.

The original Karate Kid is one of those classic 80s movies that I never get sick of. I don't know why I watched the remake, I knew it was going to suck and no way it could live up to the original. I was completely wrong. This film definitely stands up to the original and even surpasses it in many aspects. Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan were perfectly cast in this film. It follows pretty much an identical story line to the original but somehow still feels fresh. My only gripe is that Jaden Smith was learning Kung Fu, not Karate. This is one of the best family films of the year.

This movie is not for kids. I was really surprised at how adult it actually was. Nicholas Cage training his young daughter how to brutally murder people and preparing her for being shot at by shooting her himself at the beginning should give you an idea of the kind of movie this becomes. The character Kick-Ass is your typical super hero/nerd who saves the day but he isn't as lucky as Peter Parker or Clark Kent, he goes through many trials and tribulations before he starts winning the battles. This is one of the best super movies I have ever seen and if you aren't offended by blood you should check it out.

Mockumentary about a charismatic preacher who performed fake exorcisms for years and decided to get out of the business as people began to get hurt and die because of exorcism practices. He agrees to let a camera crew follow him to one final exorcism. He exposes all of the tricks of the trade in hopes that no one else is harmed by priests performing exorcisms. Of course, this final exorcism isn't straight forward. There are many twists and turns and a very unexpected super intense climax that really made me love this movie. It isn't nearly as scary as The Exorcism of Emily Rose or The Exorcist, but it is very entertaining and intense.

If you liked the first Paranormal Activity you will love the 2nd one. It is very similar and actually involves the characters from the first film as this is technically a prequel. You will be on the edge of your seat for most of the film. There are some really great 'gotcha' scenes and some false alarmas. Paranormal Activity and its sequel are rare in the fact that I am still creeped out hours after watching them. Every creak I hear in the night puts me on red alert for some sort of spirit.

Scott Pilgrim is witty, fast paced, and very stylistic. You never know what will happen next. There are umpteen video game references (no specific games, but things like bad guys turning to coins when the are defeated), comic book charms (when the phone rings you see BRRRRRNG appear above the phone, and shout outs to classic tv shows (there is a Seinfeld scene, complete with canned laughter and funky bass grooves). I actually laughed out loud several times during this movie which I wasn't expecting. I think that younger generations will like this more than older generations based on the references. Scott must defeat his love interests 7 evil ex's to win her heart. Sounds exactly like a video game, and progresses like a video game throughout. I highly recommend this movie if you are under 35 years old.

If you are reading this your life has been effected by Mark Zuckerburg. Less than 5 years ago no one knew who he was, and now he is a house hold name world wide. This movie tells the story of where facebook came from. It is most certainly not 100% true, but some of the verified facts are astonishing. In 2003 Mark Zuckerburg was a nerd with very few friends, and in 2011 he is worth at least 15 billion and has the most visited website on the internet with over 600 million active users. One of the best lines in the movie talks about how in one day over 650 people joined facebook "If I were a drug dealer I couldn't give away drugs to 650 people". The other quote is by Sean Parker (the creator of Napster who I was surprised to learn played a big role in the marketing of facebook) "This isn't a once in a lifetime idea, this is a once in a generation idea". The movie is fast paced but easy to follow and is a must see for anyone who is an active facebook user.

The final chapter in the Toy Story franchise is also the best and most emotional. If I had to really choose a 'best' movie of the year this would probably be it. It is a beautiful film visually, it has heart, it has laughs, it will make you cry and feel nostalgic. It is basically a movie that I can't imagine anyone not liking. Even if you haven't seen the other 2 it is worth it to watch this movie

Other movies I watched, in no order. If you want to know what I thought about anything below let me know. I love talking movies.

Shutter Island
Alice In Wonderland
Diary Of A Wimpy Kid
How To Train Your Dragon
Human Centipede
A Nightmare On Elm Street
Iron Man 2
Twilight: Eclipse
Hot Tub Time Machine
Date Night
Wallstreet: Money Never Sleeps
Despicable Me
Easy A
Harry potter 7
Gullivers travels
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
Winters Bone
True Grit
Nowhere Boy
I love you phillip morris
127 Hours
Saw 3D
The Town
The Fighter
Best Worst Movie
Kings Speech
The Kids Are All Right
Let Me In

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Top 10 Albums in No Particular Order

1) Eminem - Recovery

There is not a better rapper in the game, now or ever. I may go as far as saying this is my favorite rap album of all time; if not it is in the top 5 for sure. He is so unique, even my dad, who never listens to rap knows an Eminem song when he hears one.
I love that this album has no filler tracks, no skits, and barely any guest verses. This album is all Eminem. The songs are very personal, and the song Going Through Changes is a very real look at why Eminem hasn't been around for several years, one of the most emotional rap songs I have heard. You can feel his despair and his anger, and that is rare for rap. I have included the video No Love with Lil Wayne (who I never really got into). He is considered one of the best in the game, but I personally feel Eminem leaves him in the dust on this song. Look up the lyrics and try to rap along, it isn't easy at all. . .Eminem rhymes to his own drummer, it is unique, catchy and hard to replicate. I like the drug free Eminem. If I had to nitpick the album my one gripe would be that he mentions lightning/getting struck by lightning too much (at least half a dozen times)

2) Avenged Sevenfold - Nightmare

I have always liked A7X, but never REALLY listened to their albums. I gave this one a chance because of the story of the album. The Rev died of a drug overdose after the album had been written but not recorded. His favorite drummer/biggest influence, Mike Portnoy (who also happens to be my favorite musician, and one of my favorite people on the planet) was asked to fill in on drums and record the album. The album is the best A7X album to date (or at least the one I have listened to the most). Again, there is not a bad song on the album. The mood is all over the place, classic A7X, really really heavy, and even a couple of ballads, and a very personal song about death written by The Rev before his death. The drum parts were not changed from how The Rev wrote them, and his style really comes through in Portnoy's playing. If you have ever liked the band I suggest you check out this album, you will not be disappointed.

3) Periphery - Periphery

If you mixed Tool, Meshuggah, and a red bull in a blender you would have this album. Periphery are the definition of groove metal. I can't listen to this album without bobbing my head. I don't know why though, it is so complex rhythmically I'm surprised I like it at all. I wish there were no screaming vocals because I like the clean vocals so much, but the music is so interesting I look past the vocals. I am giving Periphery the award for having the most complex song of the year with Zyglrox. It isn't that I love the song as much as I appreciate it. 'Bulb', the founding member of the group definitely has a very unique style for composing and arranging his music. He is involved in several side projects as well, if you are interested let me know and I'll send you some links.

4) Mutiny Within - Mutiny Within

I lucked into this band while searching for a Necrophagist cover band on YouTube. The closest I got was a video of the guitarist from Mutiny, and the drummer from Abigal Williams (although he wasn't the drummer at the time). I liked what I heard and checked out some of the guitarists original music. The band, Mutiny, was signed to Roadrunner Records about 6 months after I found the video and their name was changed to Mutiny Within. This album is pure progressive metal leaning towards power metal, in the style of Into Eternity. The guitar and drum work are top notch, so much so that on a forum discussing the album people were questioning whether a drummer or drum machine was used to record it. Luckily, the drummer for the band joined the conversation and pwned everyone. If you like top notch musicianship check out this album, a great debut!

5) Against Me! - White Crosses

I never thought I would like a new wave/pop punk album as much as I like White Crosses. The songs are so damn catchy I can't quit listening to the album. This is probably my most listened to album of 2010. If you like Green Day you will like this album. . .hell, if you don't like Green Day you will probably like this album. Most of the songs are upbeat and poppy, but my favorite track on the album is probably Ache With Me (not surprisingly, the studio version is much better). It is very different than the other songs so I included another song (the video below) which better suits the style of the album.

6) Bruno Mars - Doowops and Hooligans

If it weren't for Billionaire and Fuck You I probably wouldn't have listened to this album. I am going to go ahead and call Bruno Mars the number 1 song writer of 2010. He has had several songs in the top 10, and co-wrote Fuck You, which is my favorite song of the year. His album is no different than the hits he wrote, very very catchy. The weak point for Bruno Mars is his lyrics, they aren't horrible, just nothing to write home about. Every song on the album is memorable and catchy. I included a live version of Lazy Song (very similar guitar to Billionaire) which shows that he isn't a studio wonder, he can sing and play live. I expect several Grammys and number 1 hits in this guys future.

7) Motion City Soundtrack - My Dinosaur Life

This album is heavily influenced by Weezer, Presidents of the USA, and Third Eye Blind (in my head it is anyway). I probably like this album more than anything any of those bands have put out. Every song on the album could be a single. I included the first track from the album in the video below. I couldn't pick a favorite song so I figured I'd start at the beginning. This is the best pop rock album of the year, maybe of the past several years. If I was 15 the first time I heard this album it would probably be my favorite of all time, I don't know why I think that, I just do.

8) The Gaslight Anthem - American Slang

Of all the albums on the list I have probably listened to this one the least. It has really started to grow on me and expect to listen several more times in the coming weeks. This is just a good rock album, it sounds very similar vocally/lyrically to The Hold Steady album listed below.

9) The Holdsteady - Heaven Is Whenever

A very good classic rock sounding album. This is the first album by The Hold Steady I have listened to and I have really enjoyed it. Every song is written like a mini story and the lyrical phrasing is very different than most of the music I listen to. If you like classic rock give this album a spin or two. The song below sounds like a dad teaching his son about life, and is one of my favorite songs on the album.

10) Here Come The Mummies! - Carnal Carnival

This isn't the best album by Here Come The Mummies, but it is still better than most of the albums I heard this year. Once again all the songs are full of innuendoes and the production is some of the best I heard all year. My favorite song on the album (which I can't find to share) is called Eye of Horus. The song stands out to me as the best on the album for 2 reasons: first, it has the catchiest hook on the album and second it has about 10-12 false endings which seriously made me LOL the first time I listened. If you have never heard of this band before the below video isn't really a good introduction, but unfortunately it is the only song I could find off the new album on YouTube that didn't sound like it was recorded in a tin can. To get a better idea of the musical stylings of the Mummies check out the video I recorded at the last show they did in Lexington

Runners Up

Bring Me The Horizon - There is a Hell Believe Me I've Seen it. There is a Heaven, Let's Keep it Between Us.

Bo Burnham - Words Words Words

Seventh Wonder - Great Escape

James LaBrie - Static Impulse

Renzo Charlez - Elevator Muzak

Andrew Ripp - She Remains The Same

Cee-Lo Green - The Lady Killer

Biggest Dissapointments

Coheed and Cambria - Year Of The Black Rainbow

Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Serj Tankian - Imperfect Harmonies

Other Albums I Heard In No Particular Order

Hanson – Shout It Out
Disturbed – Asylum
Birthday Massacre – Pins and Needles
Lifehouse – Smoke and Mirrors
Paul Gilbert – Fuzz Universe
Dillinger Escape Plan – Option Paralysis
B.o.b – Bobby Ray
Katy perry – Teenage Dream
Jimmy eat world - Invented
All that remains – For We Are Many
Weezer – Hurley
Anberlin – Art Of War
Alesana – The Emptiness
As I Lay Dying – The Powerless Rise
Devil Wears Prada – Zombie EP
Emarosa – Emarosa
Pierce The Veil – Selfish Machines
Four Year Strong – Enemy Of The World
Chiodos – Illuminaudio
Circa Survive – Blue Sky Noise
Deftones – Diamond Eyes
Envy on the Coast – Lowcountry
Isles & Glaciers – The Hearts Of Lonely People
Sleigh Bells – Treats
Stick To Your Guns – The Hope Division
The Sleeping – The Big Deep
Girl Talk - All Day
Twista – The Perfect Storm
Michael Jackson – Michael
My Chemical Romance - Danger Days - The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lost Finale and my life *Major Spoilers*

Don't read this if you don't want to hear about Lost.

Maybe I am crazy for comparing a TV show to a tragedy that brings strangers together, but I feel that trying to explain what happened in the finale of Lost can't be explained to people who haven't experienced it. Just saying what happened can no way have the same emotional impact as the experience it took to find out what happened.

I have spent the past 6 years of my life talking to anyone who will listen about my theories on Lost. Last night was the culmination of those years as I, along with millions of others, awaited answers to our most desired questions. We did not receive these answers in black and white, many of them we didn't receive at all. But, now that it is over do the answers really matter? I find that the ending was more than satisfactory (it did however take almost 12 hours to set in)

What was the light on the island?
What was the MIB's name?
Where did mother come from?
Why did those numbers keep popping up? I understand the lighthouse and all that, but how was Jacob or whoever able to have those exact numbers be the lottery numbers that one fateful day for Hurley?
How were Jacob/MIB/mother immortal?
Who fathered Jacob/MIB?
How did Dharma get to the island?
Why did Widmore stage a fake plane in the ocean?
How is Widmore rich?
What did Widmore want with the island?

There are hundreds more, but after watching the finale I honestly don't care about any of these questions or answers. Here are a few things I took away from the finale.

*The island was real. The sideways timeline was the afterlife.

*Kate told Jack she has waited a long time to see him again when they met at the concert which leads me to believe that the plane actually made it off the island (that we see fly over Jack right before he dies) and Kate lived out a long life. She had to wait until she died to see her true love again.

*"It only ends once, everything else is only progress" This was said by Jacob in the season 5 finale. Could it be that the Losties were trapped in an endless loop until they all got things exactly right (like groundhog day). Each character had to do 2 things to move on, find their one true love, and let go of the one thing they could never let go. Jack being the fixer couldn't let go of his baggage (his issues with his father) until he helped all of the other Losties solve their issues. The biggest hurdle was to help and understand John Locke, once he did this he was able to move on.

*Juliet told Sawyer in the season 6 premiere that 'it worked' and they could get coffee one day and go dutch. As she lay dying on the island her mind was in both planes of existence. Since time doesn't exist in the other plane she already knew that everything worked out and her and Sawyer ended up together, she was able to die peacefully knowing that blowing up the island with the nuke allowed every Lostie to be reunited with their true love, have no hard feelings towards each other, and be able to move on peacefully into whatever comes next.

*I believe Eloise wasn't ready to move on because she wanted to spend time in 'purgatory' with her son Daniel since in real life she killed him. She was one of the first to understand where they were but didn't want to change anything because she is afraid where she might end up if she walks into the light. For her, until Daniel decides to move on, her 'purgatory' is heaven.

*Ben wants to stay behind to build relationships with both Russo and Alex. He is a good guy at heart but made horrible choices in his life. He wants Russo and Alex to see the flash and remember but wants to show them how sorry he is things happened the way they did and then he will decide to move on.

The show as a whole kept playing up that everything that happened happened for a reason and if the Losties didn't do everything just right the world would end. But, after watching the finale I don't think that is entirely true. It all began with Jacob/MIB/mother. I don't think it was a coincidence that the skeletons found were called 'Adam and Eve'. Things had to play out a specific way for thousands of years leading up to the final meeting in the church. The Losties were trying to save themselves, not the entire world. But, think about it, everyone was looking out for number one, and their world was all they knew, so to them saving the world and saving 'their' world are really the same thing. The outside world wouldn't have changed in the slightest, since everyone has moved on from the Oceanic crash, and no one knew the island existed anyway.

Much like real life the show left a lot of unanswered questions. We were lead in one direction for 2.5 seasons, then the focus suddenly shifted once we learned about Jacob. We spend the next 2.5 seasons wondering about Jacob and the MIB and then again in the last episode the writers throw another curve and we forget about Jacob and MIB ( I really don't even care what his name was anymore ) and start to feel something new. The show spent 6 years building these characters and in the end all that mattered was their friendship/soul mate/redemption. The more I think about it the more satisfied I am with the ending. It isn't about answering questions that makes life so interesting, that is just what keeps you going until you find the one person who makes you forget all about the unanswered questions.

I didn't think I felt emotional attachments to any character and expected the ending to leave me feeling empty. I watched Lost because I was drawn in by the mystery and folklore. The writers did a great job of emotionally attaching me to characters without me even knowing. By the end of last nights episode I felt as emotionally attached to every character as I did to Desmond and Penny in "the constant' which I think is the best hour of any tv show that has ever been on tv (the season 4 finale of dexter is a close second)

I had several flashes of the past 6 years, thinking about milestones in my life that happened around the airing of certain episodes of Lost. My life, like anyones, is full of 'what if' scenarios, unanswered questions, and mysteries.

Who were the 'Yakuza' guy and 'buff Kid Rock' who walked through the mall?
Was leaving Sears the right choice?
Why didn't I go to a different college?
Who drives the bat mobile and mystey machine in Lexington?

When I first asked these questions they were very important for me to answer, but now, I don't care. Although these questions do have answers, I will never know them. As it turns out, those aren't the important questions to be answered anyway. Just like Lost, not everything was answered, but in the end it didn't matter, things turned out like they were supposed to. Fate played a huge part, and I am starting to believe more in fate.

The thing about life is you can easily draw correlations between two seemingly unrelated events. If it weren't for 104.5 the cat playing MmmBop all summer long back in 1997, facebook, and the cat I wanted to get being adopted litteraly 5 minutes before I tried to adopt it, and my current cat literally tapping me on the shoulder through the bars at the humane society to let me know she was the one I needed to get I would not have met Jenny. The answer to most of my unanswered questions became insignificant once I met Jenny. The purpose of my life became apparent to me and everything else became irrelevant, just like the unanswered questions in Lost. Life can be strange sometimes, but that is what makes it interesting.

In conclusion,

I feel a pretty big void today, I have never had any tv show/media have such a stranglehold on my mental ability before. My favorite aspect of the show was the mystery and the hundreds of theories I concocted and others I read online. I could sit and talk/think about what I thought happened for hours. But, now that the show has ended the answers to some of the questions just don't seem important to me and I am left with a feeling of love and redemption for the characters. Life isn't about unanswered questions, it is about living and loving. I never expected a tv show to make me examine my life this much, but it has, and I am thankful for it