Monday, February 28, 2011

Movie Monday: Tarantino Goodness and Video Game Style Battles of Epic Proportions

Okay, did anyone else think that February just flew by? I am aware it is the shortest month of the year, but still... I can't believe tomorrow is the first of March. Anyway, I have a couple of good movies to share with you today. :-)

Reservoir Dogs

A group of strangers (who are only known by their aliases) come together to plan out and execute a diamond robbery. However, one of them turns out to be a rat and things do not go according to plan. In order to figure out who is the rat, the team find themselves doing unspeakable things to get answers.

Quentin Tarantino has a unique way of storytelling and I very much enjoy seeing his vision. Reservoir Dogs is a lot less complex than his other films, since it basically focuses on the diamond heist (planning, executing, and aftermath). As a huge fan of Steve Buscemi (Mr. Pink), I liked that his role in this film was pretty significant. I always wanted to see him in a leading role and now that he's earned that on HBO's Boardwalk Empire, I am very happy for that.

I seriously thought Mr. Orange (Tim Roth) was dead after getting to the warehouse. When he emerged halfway through the move (while extremely pale.. he did lose a LOT of blood), I was ready to see some action. And I did. I also felt bad for the officer (Kirk Baltz) when he was tortured by a couple of the guys. It was brutal. I enjoyed this movie a lot, but nothing can surpass Pulp Fiction. Rating 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

While dating Knives (Ellen Wong), a girl in high school, Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) meets Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and is dying to be with her. Scott is able to get Ramona on a date with him, but doing so causes a series of events where he has to prove himself worthy... by having video game styled duels with seven of her exes. He has to do this in the midst of breaking up with Knives and working with his band toward achieving a record contract.

I had a feeling that I would geek out over a lot of things from this movie. For one, my best friend Brandon saw this in theaters and raved on how it immediately became one of his Top 5 favorite films. Two, it was about video game battles, underground bands, and looked very visually stimulation. The opening credits already proved to me that I was going to enjoy it, by presenting the Universal logo in an 8-bit format, followed by the theme to the video game The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

All of the fights were highly enjoyable. I read that the movie was meant to feel like a musical, but to have battle scenes instead of breaking out in song. I thought the method worked very well for this film. I loved how at the end of each battle, Scott was rewarded with a bunch of coins. Even though the coins were never used for anything, it helped pay homage to video games. As someone who enjoys references from other movies and in pop culture, this movie had a lot of them. There were lots of comic book references (X-Men, Fantastic Four), bands (Smashing Pumpkins, The Clash, Beck), and video games (Zelda, Super Mario Brothers). For anyone that is a gamer geek or comic book geek, this film could possibly be the best movie watching experience you will have in the present time. I enjoyed it a lot, but not as much as my best friend :-)  Rating 4 out of 5 stars

Monday, February 21, 2011

Movie Monday: Greek Mythology

All right, Movie Monday followers. I only have one movie featured today since I spent most of the holiday weekend out and about with friends. I hope everyone else had an enjoyable extended weekend like myself. :-)

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) is a troubled teen who has been dealing with dyslexia, ADHD, and a problematic stepfather (Joe Pantoliano) for most of his life. While on a field trip to a museum, he is attacked by a Fury, which causes him to find out that he is the son of Poseidon (Kevin McKidd) and that he is in danger. Zeus (Sean Bean) is accusing Percy of stealing his lightning bolt and has been given 14 days to return it, or else there will be war against the Gods. So Percy and his friend Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) head to Camp Half-Blood to train. While at camp, Percy realizes that his Mom (Catherine Keener) is being held hostage by Hades (Steve Coogan) and decides to go rescue her. He and Grover team up with Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario) and go on a quest across the United States to find Hades Underworld.

When I first saw the movie preview in 2009, it caught my interest. I have always loved studying Greek mythology and here was a movie (based on a book series) that mixed those stories with modern day aspects. I didn't hear much positive hype over it, so I decided to wait until it was out on DVD before viewing it. I actually started watching it a few weeks ago, but my *wonderful* cable box decided to spazz out. I ended up buying the DVD and watching it that way. What I noticed throughout the movie were the similarities in themes to Harry Potter: a boy thinking he is just average when really they are possessed with unique abilities, part of a book series, and films directed/produced by Chris Columbus. The movie just had that same vibe to it as Harry Potter, except with more modern day elements (the music, references to High School Musical and the economic recession.)

I really enjoyed seeing a lot of my favorite Greek Gods/Goddesses and other mythological beings in this movie, especially with who was cast to play the roles. Uma Thurman as Medusa, Rosario Dawson as Persephone, and Pierce Brosnan as Chrion (also the actors listed above) were enjoyable to me in their roles. the story was amazing, but I need to read the books since I heard that the movie did not do the first book justice. I enjoyed seeing the group travel across the country in search of the pearls needed to get to the Underworld. The scene when in Las Vegas had a few surprises, in the forms of Lady Gaga and Ke$ha (both had songs playing in that part of the movie). When they finally get to Los Angeles and find the portal behind the Hollywood sign (leading to the Underworld), my first thoughts were "Of course L.A. is the obvious place to find Hades lair... Hello??? Sin City!!!" This movie exceeded my expectations and I really enjoyed watching it. Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New Music Tuesday: Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" Plus the Grammy's

Hello Tuesday. While some of you might be recovering from Valentine's sugar highs, I am happy and ready to share with you the song I've been waiting for months to hear plus a summary of the Grammy Awards that aired on Sunday night. I posted a lot of tweets during the show, but since I know many of my readers don't follow me there, I am more than happy to share some of my "finer" observations of the evening.

Lady Gaga "Born This Way"

It finally happened. After hearing a teaser for this single at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, I finally get to hear the entire song. And holy hell... was it over-hyped! I can understand this kind of promotion for an album, but for just a song? It can be a bit much. Lady Gaga isn't the only one... Britney Spears is doing the same thing. Anyway, back to Gaga.

The song has an excellent message. God doesn't hate. He made us all unique individuals and we all need to harness that love in ourselves. The lyrics make me curious if the Westboro Baptist Church had anything to do with the inspiration of this song. Why? Well, when Gaga performed in Kansas City and St. Louis, she was graced with the infamous protesters. I remember reading her tweets over the commotion and it would make sense if she used that to write a song about love and tolerance.

When reading responses for her single, I came across a tweet by Chris Daughtry that mentioned how much the song sounded like Madonna's "Express Yourself." He's right, and not the only one who caught that. However, once I read that, I couldn't get Madonna's song out of my head, despite listening to Gaga's song over a dozen times. To sum things up: I really like "Born this Way," but I don't think it's her best song. I still have mad love for "Bad Romance."

The 53rd Annual Grammy Awards

Oh, the Grammy's... sometimes a popularity contest, other times it acknowledges the artists that really deserve the awards. This year was a blend of both. I'm not going to do a full review like I have with other awards shows, especially since I missed the first hour of the Grammys. I will share everything I posted on Twitter while watching the show (with a few random commentary bits). I added a couple of the performances for your viewing pleasure:

-What the fuck is Cee Lo Green wearing??? (responses to others: Primary colored peacock goodness, Upstaging Lady Gaga) (The performance was good)
-Anyone else notice how much John Mayer looks like Johnny Depp? #Wannabe
-Is this part two of "Love the Way You Lie? #EminemAndRihanna #LoveIt
-Yes!!! Bieber didn't win Best New Artist! (Congrats to Esperanza Spalding)
-*Sigh* Somehow I knew that one of the Glee castmates would have their own album. Didn't think it would be Matthew Morrison though
-That Red Riding Hood trailer didn't do justice to the full length one I watched weeks ago #GrammyCommercial
-First Cee Lo Green, now Nicki Minaj #GagaFashionCopycats (One of my friends though she looked like a Q-Tip)
-Yes!!! Go Eminem!!! #BestRapAlbum
-Diddy attempting to read the teleprompter = fail

-Ooh! Double dose of Rihanna! I wish she would perform S&M #ItIsAfter10
-I'd do her ;-) (in response to how hot Rihanna was when performing with Drake)
-"The song otherwise known as Forget You" #FuckYou #CeeLoGreen
-"Love the Way You Lie" should have won Record of the Year (Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" won)
-Ah, got a Jason Segel fix. He's on my "List" #Drools (replied "I would marry that man!" in response to a Tweet about how many women were drooling over him)
-Are you kidding me???? Arcade Fire wins Record of the Year? No... just no. *I was mean about this because of their performance prior to winning this award... it was not very good. But, the performance after was a lot better. I still think Eminem or Lady Gaga should have won Record of the Year.

I watched the Grammys. I tweeted. I'm done. LOL

Now, time for me to do some research for next week's blog! If anyone has any songs that they think I need to share, please feel free to contact me in whatever way that you do. I always welcome new music sources!!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Movie Monday: Valentine's Edition

This week, I wanted to celebrate Valentine's Day in my own way by watching movies that fit the theme of the holiday. However, I have struggled in deciding on which team I am playing for this year. Am I for the holiday in all its romance and lovey dovey-ness or, am I against it? Well, I couldn't decide. Therefore, I watched a mix of love movies and horror movies. So, Happy Valentine's Day to all and enjoy the reviews!

Queen of the Damned

Vampire Lestat (Stuart Townsend) emerges from 100 years underground to the present day, where culture has changed immensely and he wants to engage in all of it. He ends up as the lead singer of a band and is using his lifestyle (as a vampire) to appeal to the masses. However, in his journey he awakens the vampire Queen, Akasha (Aaliyah), who does not want to live in the shadows amongst humans any longer. With the help of another vampire, Marius (Vincent Perez), and a human with ties to the vampire world, Jesse (Marguerite Moreau), they try to stop Akasha from causing massive damage to humans and vampires.

When I posted that I had never watched this on Facebook, I got a lot of replies. Based on their responses, I figured out that this was going to be one of those movies that I would really like or really hate. The first thing I noticed about the movie was the music. It was full of heavy rock music that I loved when I was a senior in high school (which was when the movie was in theaters). Then I realized that the movie was a combination of two (or more) books from The Vampire Chronicles series. Having read The Vampire Lestat but not Queen of the Damned, I got a mixture of familiarity and new material when watching the film.

Now, about the movie itself. I caught on that this was a completely different vibe than Interview with the Vampire. Interview... had a more old world/ romantic style. Queen.. had an edgy/ rock star/ sexed up vibe. The only familiarity with both movies is the character Lestat. As far as executing the plot, I thought using The Vampire Lestat as the exposition was done very well. I had no problems following the movie, but I feel I need to read the book to see how it was meant to be seen. To my die-hard Anne Rice fans, I understand why you hate it but I'm not in agreement with your thoughts on the film. I actually liked it, but it wasn't better than Interview with the Vampire (the movie). Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

An Affair to Remember

A couple of strangers, Nickie Ferrante (Cary Grant) and Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr) meet while on a cruise from Europe to New York. Despite the fact that they were both engaged to other people, they fall in love and plan to reunite six months later atop the Empire State building. Unforeseen events prevent one of them from making it that day, causing heartache for both, among serious lifestyle changes. Will they ever see each other again, and will they ever be able to reconcile???

There is a reason why recent romantic comedies/ chick flicks cannot stand up to the films from past generations. This movie is an excellent example of my theory. The interaction between Nickie and Terry was genuine. I was as amused as the rest of the people aboard the cruise, watching their attraction blossom to love. You could see the pain in their eyes when they had to go their separate ways. Then, when it came time for them to finally reunite, my heart was crushed when Terry was hit by the car. To see Nickie remain atop the Empire State building for hours waiting for her... that hurt so much more. But, in the end, I was glad to see them reconcile, despite the fact that Terry was afraid to show Nickie what happened to her. Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The Phantom of the Opera

In the midst of an auction at the French Opera House, the affair of the Phantom of the Opera is recollected. In 1870, rehearsal is halted because the Phantom (Gerard Butler) has driven Carlotta (Minnie Driver) away, giving Christine (Emmy Rossum) the opportunity to take the lead. After her first night, she finally meets the Phantom, who has been teaching her. He takes her to his home, which is hidden underneath the opera house, and professes his love to her. However, she falls for her childhood sweetheart, Raoul (Patrick Wilson), which causes the Phantom to have a frightening amount of rage. Christine finds herself having to choose between being with the man she loves and the man that taught her about everything she loves in life.

As someone who got very involved in theater in high school, you would think I've seen this play/movie by now, especially when my theater teacher raved about it. Nope. You would also think after buying this movie two years ago I would have already watched it. Again, nope. Let's just say that I really really REALLY wish I had seen this sooner. This movie was one that I became completely engulfed in it, so much that I watched it twice (then a third time while writing this review).

The music, the story, the costumes, everything was absolutely amazing! The scene where the Phantom takes Christine to his home just melted my heart. Between the candelabras emerged out of the water, the gondola, and the music leading up to "The Music of the Night," I was a very happy hopeless romantic! As for Gerard Butlers musical talents... I had no idea he could sing.... and I think that I might have to add him to my List. I could rave on and on about this movie/play for several more paragraphs, but I'm going to prevent my readers from zoning out and give my rating. 5 out of 5 stars (and has been added to my Top 10 favorite movies)

Once again, Happy Valentine's Day everyone... single or taken!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

New Music Tuesday: Rihanna goes BDSM and Nicki Minaj Has a "Moment 4 Life" with Drake

Happy Tuesday everyone! Have I got some eye pleasing videos for you today. One is full of fetishes and the other is full of royal glam. Don't say I didn't warn you :-)

Rihanna "S&M" *** Warning: Not for the Sexually Prude ***

Sticks and stones may break my bones but chains and whips excite me...

The first thing I had noticed about Rihanna's new music video was that it was immediately banned from YouTube. That incident plus the song title peaked my curiosity so I watched it. Then I watched it again. And again. I've actually lost count on how many times I've watched the video. To me, it's fascinating, sexy, and exciting.  There is nothing wrong with expressing sexual fantasies and I applaud Rihanna for making this song and video. Oh, and it gave me some ideas for future endeavors, hehe....

Nicki Minaj feat. Drake "Moment 4 Life"

Oh Nicki... you outdid yourself. You create your own Cinderella story (with Christian Louboutin shoes, no less). The song is actually very beautiful and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I did realize that by the end of watching the video, I was feeling.... sentimental. I can't help that it made me wish I was in my own "Moment for Life" with a guy. Oh well, there's the dream of one, and I will find it someday.

I might sound like a broken record, but I'm excited for this Friday!!! Lady Gaga moved her "Born This Way" release up from Sunday... and I will be ready for it! *Happy Dance*

Monday, February 7, 2011

Movie Monday: An Alien Experiment

This week's Movie Monday is a short one, but very informative. I wish I could say that I had a pleasant new movie week, but I can't. Read on to see what I mean.

The Box

A married Virginia couple (James Marsden and Cameron Diaz) is presented with a life-altering decision by a stranger by the name of Mr. Steward (Frank Langella). He presents them with a box with a red button. If the button is pressed, two things will happen; the couple receives $1 million and someone dies. After making the decision, they soon realize that curiosity over the scenario gets them enthralled in a series of events that are out of this world, literally.

When I first saw previews for this movie, I was excited to see what looked like a great horror/thriller movie. Wow, was I COMPLETELY wrong! It's a science fiction movie and a horrible one at that. Somehow, I believed that the couple had the opportunity to earn multiple payments. No, they only had one shot and after they pushed the button, the rest of the film seemed very anti climatic. The concept of the box was an experiment led by creatures from another planet who communicate/travel to Earth through lightning (which made me instantly think it was ripping off War of the Worlds). The creatures took an interest in targeting NASA employed families with young children, which is discovered by Mr. Lewis (Marsden). His own investigations in figuring out the people/creatures behind the box led his family to their demise.

The only thing I thought was good about this movie was the acting. Marsden, Diaz and Langella contributed to their roles very well, despite that the story was just poorly executed. If it wasn't for those three, and some of the supporting cast, I doubt this film would have made the theaters, but it would get some airtime on the SyFy channel. If this movie was supposed to continually freak out people, it didn't do its job. The only part that creeped me out was when Mr. Steward was on the phone with Mrs. Lewis and said that he was looking at her from her backyard (which turned out to be some random guy standing out there). Other than that, I just had a blank stare when watching the movie.

This is one of the few films that I just can't like. It was way too disappointing. Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New Music Tuesday: Jessie J (Times Two), T.I. and Christina Aguilera, and New Videos

Hello friends! I apologize for not having a music blog last week. I've been occupied working on another music blog for a Kansas City based newspaper, which has taken a lot of my time. I only have a couple new songs for you guys, plus a couple new music videos from songs I have previously blogged about. Let's start with my newest discoveries.

Jessie J "Do It Like a Dude (Explicit version)

My friend Sarah shared this video of me, curious about my opinion on it. My first impression was that I saw Jessie J as a mix between Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj (that's a mind blowing thought in itself), with a slight mix of Rhianna's rockier music stylings. After listening to it several times, I'm getting into it. She's very aggressive natured, which will shock many but please others. Just yesterday, I discovered a new video of hers.

Jessie J feat. B.O.B. "Price Tag"

Jessie J has a very unique style among her other pop/dance counterparts. Add this collaboration with B.O.B. and she's going to get some attention from the music world. I'm going to keep an eye on her career and see how it unfolds.

T.I. featuring Christina Aguilera "Castle Walls"

When I noticed this collaboration, I thought "this could be a great blend of voices and lyrics." It seems to work nicely. I like that Christina is exploring her career opportunities (which part of it is because of her recent developments in her personal life... hey it happens). I'm definitely interested in seeing how this music video is going to look.

Okay, now to share a couple new music videos!

Avril Lavigne "What the Hell"

The video is fun, flirty and chaotic... totally Avril Lavigne's style. Welcome back girlie!!!

Pink "Fucking Perfect"

Okay, this video got me close to teary by the end. It was a very heartfelt story. I loved that Tina Majorino was cast for this video... she's one of the few child stars that have reemerged as an adult to some really great roles.

Well, that's all for this week's edition of New Music Tuesday. I'm impatiently waiting for the 13th of this month, since that's when Lady Gaga FINALLY releases her first single from her new album, both titled "Born This Way." :-)