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My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy Review OR Kanye Haters Imma Let U Finish But- November 11, 2010

Filed under: Review — andthismakesaheartbeat @ 11:11 pm
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If you’re reading this right now, chances are you don’t like Kanye West. There are plenty of reasons to come to this conclusion. Maybe you hate him for ruining Taylor Swift’s moment at the VMAs last year. Maybe you hate him for using a substantial amount of Auto-Tune on 808s and Heartbreak. Maybe you hate him because time and time again, he came off as an egotistical asshole. Or maybe you hate him because you straight up just don’t like the genre.

Regardless, for whatever reason you don’t like Kanye, it ultimately doesn’t matter. Seriously. It doesn’t. You can hate all you want but it won’t change how much impact he’s had on the rap genre in the past decade. Is he batshit insane? Of course. But it’s the crazy people who put out the most noteworthy music (see Brian Wilson, Kurt Cobain etc). His new album proves that. That’s right. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is one of the best pop albums released in recent memory and in 10 years will most likely be viewed as a classic of this musical generation. And there’s nothing you can do about it.

The album starts off with a spoken word intro by Ms. Nicki Minaj and then the first sample erupts with a catchy yet otherworldly grandeur. Much like other uses of sampling of Kanye songs, it’s soulful but much is different. The production throughout the whole album (which is flawless by the way) is dreamlike, mysterious and uplifting all at the same time. “Power” combines King Crimson with tribal chants. “Gorgeous” has a psychedelic rock vibe with the help of Kanye’s “Robin”, Kid Cudi. “Hell of A Life” plays with the Black Sabbath “Iron Man” riff while “All of the Lights” (which is an easy contender for SOTY) starts with a tremendously grand horn section that eventually delves face first into a mosh pit of drum machines that turn “bumping and grinding” to spaz attacks. Then the second to last song “Lost in the World” turns a beloved Bon Iver song into a riotous celebration. Tracks jump from orchestral to soulful to heavenly to demonic. It’s musical bipolarity in its purest, catchiest and most refined form.

The rapping is back. Full throttle. There’s still auto tune here and there but when used, it actually works. MBDTF manages to contain the hip hop from Kanye’s first three releases while maintaining the minimalistic and haunting atmosphere of 808s. Plus almost every guest appearance on here is phenomenal. From Rihanna’s chorus on “All of the Lights” to Nicki Minaj’s verse on “Monster” that may possibly cause earthquakes for being too straight up awesome to Jay-Z owning life to Elton Freaking John. Yup.

When it comes down to it, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy reveals Kanye as both a hip-hop savior and a pop-culture burdened monster; a necessary evil for a music scene that’s too busy holding on to auto-tune and dance floor analogies to do something different. And here it is. MBDTF is a pop top 40-centric album that can be safely labeled as unique. Last time such a statement could be said was back in 03 with Outkast’s Speakerboxx/The Love Below. Will this album save the top 40 scene from mediocrity? Only time will tell. But one thing for certain is that you may hate Kanye West (and you probably will) but one thing is for certain. While there may be a lot wrong with him, he does know how to make pop music like no one else right now.
This is easily one of the most interesting and noteworthy pop albums in a damn damn damn long time. All coming from “the biggest asshole ever”.

Your move 50 Cent.

 

RIYL: being mean to Taylor Swift, calling presidents racist, gayfish

 

The Human Centipede Review July 26, 2010

Filed under: Review — andthismakesaheartbeat @ 4:24 am
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We all knew that guy in high school. You what guy I’m talking about. Sat by himself in the cafeteria sporting his Slipknot hoodie, huddling in his PSP while glaring at his classmates with the “one day I will kill you” look. I knew one of these kids. One time he told me the most efficient way to torture someone without actually killing them. It was awkward. And disturbing. But even this kid and all the other “that guys” in the world couldn’t conceive the concept of The Human Centipede, a disgustingly absurd and ridiculous new addition to the torture porn genre. The film is already getting branded cult status with a premise that makes everyone think: “Wait… really?”

Torture porn is already a form of horror that isn’t taken seriously at all. Especially since many of them actually try to give off some kind of social commentary about morality and primal human nature… or something. But instead of coming off as smart they just seem to contradict themselves with their messages. Saw is a perfect example. One moment it becomes Our Town and preaches to you about how people don’t appreciate life and stuff and the next minute they show some girl screaming and crying hysterically because there’s fifty nails getting slammed in her skull because… she smoked a cigarette and wished death on someoneonce. The Human Centipede however is the real deal… I guess. While some mention how it can be an allegory for Nazi experiments but that’s pushing it. There’s no moral or life lesson or social commentary. This movie is literally 90 minutes of three people being forced into the most horrible situation ever… for no real reason other than the torturer just wants to make people feel pain.

The Human Centipede tells the whimsical tale of Dr. Heiter who after being known for separating conjoined twins now wants to surgically connect several subjects into a single specimen with a single digestive tract. And he plans to do this by (sigh) joining people surgically from the mouth to the anus. Why you ask? Honestly, just because he can. Well that and he’s completely f–king insane. The three helpless victims are some Japanese guy who spends the entire time on screen screaming and two American girls on a European road trip, get lost and then literally spend 10 whole minutes complaining about how lost they are. They’re kidnapped by Heiter. Heiter tells them they’ll be rimming each other for the rest of their lives. Victims scream and resist which eventually results in a extremely slow-paced chase scene. Heiter performs surgery and the human centipede is born.

Once you see the disgusting creation and once the disturbing factor starts to wear off, and believe me it does, the film gets boring, fast. I mean as much as I want to see the doctor make the creature fetch him his newspaper (this actually happens) and then later screaming “FEED HER” to the centipede (I’m pretty sure I don’t need to explain this is further detail), it really drags on too long with way too much cat and mouse scenes and way way too much screaming in agony and pain. I mean I know, they’re attached from the mouth to the b-hole but like half of the film is seeing these people going through the agony of being this thing. It goes from a ridiculously fun cult film to borderline exploitation a bit too fast. Controversial content can only keep a movie going for so long.

I mean if your intrigued, for whatever reason, knock yourself out but don’t be surprised if your more bored than grossed/freaked out. But hey, at least Dr. Heiter isn’t talking about how he’s doing this because he wants the victims to be more grateful about their lives, right? (But seriously Saw movies needs to stop being made).

RIYL: Honestly, I don’t even know, exotic European erotica maybe?

 

Streets of Gold: Love ’em or Hate ’em, These Colorado Dudes Still Love to Party July 9, 2010

Filed under: Review — andthismakesaheartbeat @ 1:20 am
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Yo bro! This 3OH!3 band is totally destroying music! How can people like ’em? They’re not even an actual “band”. They have absolutely no talent, yet their famous! What the hell? Yup 3OH!3, the Colorado-based electro-rap duo, have their share of haters but in a scene plastered with bands like Brokencyde, Millionaires and like 28 radio hits each month that have to do with *ahem* “gettin all up with that shorty on the dance floor”, is two dudes making some silly party music really the worst thing ever?

Don’t answer that question. It really doesn’t matter because frankly, 3OH!3 are walking on streets of gold (see what I did there?). What started off as a white suburban version of Spank Rock became something far more extreme. Every Warped Tour they go on, their fanbase of scene kids, ironic hipsters, biddies and kids who just love to dance gets bigger and more dedicated. It all peaked at the 2009 Warped, in the midst of “Don’t Trust Me” going Top 40; I was there, in a sea of neon and stutter shades. The band’s gang signs were up with pride as the crowd from one end to the other sang and danced in unison. It was ridiculous. It was silly. But it was awesome. Why? Well…

I was never really able to explain my admiration for 3OH!3 to the haters out there other than that it’s just really fun party music. But even that’s a weird reason, for me at least: I prefer Midtown over Cobra Starship anyday, I roll my eyes whenever someone raves about Jason DeRulo or Ke$ha and my party mix CDs consist of punk-pop, indie rock and alternative rap. I’m not into this whole dance party music scene that’s taking over and yet, I love 3OH!3.

My odd admiration for these dudes became a bit more justifiable once I heard Streets of Gold, their sophomore album. The beats are tighter, the choruses are catchier and the overall sound denounces any argument of how 3OH!3 may fall under the extremely unflattering tag, “crunkcore”. In fact, if you need to compare to their previous album Want, it’s more “Don’t Trust Me” and “Colorado Sunshine” and less “Holla Till You Pass Out” and “Chokechain”. There’s far more singing/sing-talking on the record which gives it some variety from the sing-a-long ready ballads “I’m Not the One” and “Streets of Gold” to the Smash Mouth-esque “I Know How to Say” to the apocalyptic electro-rock “Love 2012” to the poppy summer anthem “WeAre Young”. That being said, there’s still some of the atypical dirty electronic-heavy rap their known for. The hit/miss “House Party” is reminiscent of their early work with a hypnotic beat while “I Can Do Anything” boasts some of the better raps these guys have done.

Like Want, it’s all good harmless fun but this time around, it’s a little less trashy. There’s not as much WTF-inducing phrases and lyrically, it’s a vast improvement from their previous work (which honestly isn’t really saying much). That being said with all it’s improvements, this won’t change any of the naysayers’ minds. Don’t like 3OH!3, this album probably won’t convince you otherwise.

I mean let’s be honest, this isn’t the best album of the year. Heck, it won’t even make my top 10 but it’s a good summer album, a damn good summer album. In fact, many of the tracks on Streets of Gold will most definitely be played on your party playlists for months to come. So for those who even mildly liked their previous stuff, check this out. It’ll make you dance and sing like a fool but you’ll love every second of it. And for those who think 3OH!3 is the worst thing to come out of the music industry, go listen to that pop-punk band in your own form of ecstasy and let the kids dance in peace… oh and let me know when the new Taking Back Sunday album is coming out.

RIYL: Cobra Starship, Family Force 5, The Higher, anything AP.net hates

Best Tracks: “Streets of Gold”, “I Know How to Say”, “WeAre Young”, “I’m Not the One”, “I Can Do Anything”, “Double Vision”

 

Toy Story 3: The End of One of the Greatest Trilogies Ever? June 21, 2010

Filed under: Review — andthismakesaheartbeat @ 10:35 pm
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Pixar is on top of the world. They’ve made some of the best films of the past decade: Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Wall-E and most recently, Up. So what can they do after going on a running streak of masterpieces. Return to what they started by completing their beloved series: Toy Story.

The third installment has literally been teased for years through blooper reels, rough promotional posters (most revealing a different plot where all the Buzz Lightyears are recalled) but it finally hit theaters and audiences had a hunch, after Up and Wall-E, that it was probably going to trek through darker territory.

In Toy Story 3, Andy is leaving for college in a few days. Worried about being stuck in the attic, or worse thrown out, the toys make the decision to escape to a day care center. Still under the impression that he’s Andy’s toy and that he should always be there for him, Woody leaves day care to return to Andy. The other toys are greeted by Lotso, the head toy at Sunnyside Daycare. However, the toys realize that under Lotso’s cuddly exterior is a narcissistic tyrant who has created a strict caste system at Sunnyside. The film quickly turns into an energetic prison escape film homaging to classics like The Great Escape and Escape from Alcatraz.

Throughout the prison escape story arc great new characters are introduced including the ridiculously flamboyant, fashioned-obsessed Ken, the overly theatrical Shakespearean Mr. Pricklepants and of course Lotso who develops into one of the most surprisingly devious (and ultimately tortured) villains of the past few years. He truly is a manipulative force to be reckoned but the big reason he’s such an amazing villain is that all this trickery and evil is coming from this:

a character that’s ultimately a combination of Winnie the Pooh and Barney.

The writing is smart, proving once again that Pixar are truly master storytellers and frankly, remind us why we love all these characters in the first place. The visuals are very impressive although A. not as gorgeous as recent Pixar films and B. doesn’t really show itself off in 3D. The only serious problem about Toy Story 3 is that the ending gets a bit on the awkward side and (let’s hope to G-d not) can possibly give room for another sequel.

But frankly, that’s just me being as nit-picky as possible. This movie is fantastic, not just because it’s a fun, hilarious and deeply emotionally moving summer movie but it brings the series full circle in ways many didn’t think were possible. Toy Story is more than just about your toys coming to life and having adventures. It’s about overcoming the fear of loss and moving on to different, bigger and possibly scarier things. Similar to Where the Wild Things Are, it’s not exactly a kids movie but more of a nostalgic trip for those young adults and 20-somethings who grew up with the series. That being said, unlike Wild Things there’s no severe emotional breakdowns or tearing off limbs, so it won’t scare the crap out of kids: it’s still a family film to an extent. Pixar have truly made their mark on not just the animation world but the entire film industry and ending their first major series (especially on such an emotionally powerful note) is a truly remarkable achievement. Years from now, I think it’s safe to say that Toy Story 3 will be considered one of the best trilogies of our generation. After Wall-E, I said Pixar can’t top this. After Up, I said Pixar definitely can’t top this. Now after Toy Story 3, I can honestly say that this has to be the prime of their work. Not just because it’s a near perfect film…

…but because their next movie is Cars 2…

 

Alice In Wonderland: Classic Tale Becomes “Burtonfied” Whether You Like It Or Not March 15, 2010

Filed under: Review — andthismakesaheartbeat @ 6:53 pm
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Tim Burton is overrated. There I said it. Now I’m not going to lie, the man is definitely an auteur in the filmmaking world and offers visuals that are truly fantastic from an artistic standpoint but that being said I still don’t see how all the pseudo-gothic high school kids worship the ground he walks on. There are much better directors out there. That being said, when I learned Burton was directing an Alice in Wonderland adaptation, I was intrigued. It seems like a project he was made to do. Well does he pull it off? Well yes, to a degree.

This Alice In Wonderland is a sequel to Lewis Carrol’s books, in which Alice is 19 and about to be engaged. Nervous she runs away from her engagement party and once again, falls down the rabbit hole to Wonderland. Since she left, The Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) has the world under her tyrannical control and it’s up to Alice to save the day. Alice, with the help of various allies, must traverse across Wonderland to accept her destiny as the White Queen’s Champion and slay the Jabberwocky.

Before we go into some of the problems with the film let’s just say straight up: Alice in Wonderland is absolutely gorgeous. If you can afford to put in the extra few bucks to see it in 3D, do it. Wonderland truly comes to life through Burton’s vision that is both beautiful, frightening and eccentric. If you need another Avatar-esque fix, look no further. Additionally, there is a great cast here. From the obvious stars, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway, to more surprising appearances from Alan Rickman and Crispin Glover. Everyone in this cast seems to give there all, even if there isn’t a lot there at times.

In fact seeing this world in jaw-dropping Disney Digital 3D will probably help you overlook some of the issues the film has story and character-wise. It’s pretty obvious that the film, much like the original book and several adaptations, would have a very surreal and idiosyncratic style however, Burton uses his typical embellishments to make the characters and world even more out there. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because you eventually get used to the madness but at first, it’s hard to wrap your head around what’s going on. Burton also attempts to flesh more complex personalities for Carrol’s creations. Sometimes it works, other times not so much. There are even characters, such as The White Queen (Anne Hathaway) who don’t really have that important of a role and just give off the impression of just “being there”.

Overall, this is a very typical Burton experience which is why a lot of people will love it and why others won’t. At times the film even shifts to completely ridiculous where even diehard Burton fans will just not understand, most notably when Mad Hatter spontaneously starts doing a celebratory breakdance.

While this film isn’t perfect however, you’ll tend to forget that when gazing at this world, even if you’re not a fan of Tim Burton. Visually, it’s that impressive. Burton fans will obviously be in heaven but those who aren’t may just want to catch a 3D matinee if they’re curious.

 

Legion Review: The World Is Ending… Again. January 26, 2010

Filed under: Don't Believe The Hype,Review — andthismakesaheartbeat @ 1:06 am
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In my 2010s most anticipated, I stated that Legion has badass written all over it. Based on the trailer, it looked, to put it simply, ridiculously awesome. Well I saw it the past weekend and: ridiculous? Yes. Awesome? Eh…

The story is ultimately a combination of elements from The Terminator and Night of the Living Dead. God loses faith in humanity and sends an army of angels to possess humans and eradicate the human race… or something. However, one angel (Paul Bettany) goes rouge and helps a group stranded in an abandoned diner, one person in said group is bearing the child who will grow to become the savior of the human race (aka John Connor).

The main problem with this film is that it suffers from ever so relevant problem of revealing too much in trailers and commercials. You know how awesome the Ice Cream Man looked? (SPOILER ALERT) Well, he’s there for like less than a minute and then dies. He doesn’t even die in an awesome way. And I was convinced that he was at least going to pop out of nowhere but no. It really is a shame that they used all the money shots for the epic trailer and didn’t really give more to offer in the actual film.

Another problem (and probably the biggest problem) is the pacing. There is way to much dialog throughout the film, especially in the beginning and I was waiting impatiently for the action to set sail. I mean let’s face it, no one is seeing this movie for the character development or the dramatic narrative. It wouldn’t hurt to have either of those things but none of the characters are really that dimensional: there’s the religious one, the non-religious one, the one who wants to prove himself to his father, the teenage girl, the overprotective bipolar mother etc. Cliched character archetypes aren’t exactly a horrible thing in a movie like this but if you’re spending most of the time with the characters instead of the action, it would be nice to flesh out their personalities a little more.

But it’s not all bad here. Let’s be honest, no one expected this to be something to take seriously. And if you have that in mind while watching, you’ll probably have a blast. It’s well directed, particularly during some of the fight scenes, and at times it can be so ridiculous that you can’t help but be entertained. There’s plot holes, there’s cheesy acting (especially when Dennis Quade enters the fray) but some of the action is pretty damn entertaining and depending on your tolerance of the flaws, you might really dig this movie regardless of its issues. Frankly, if there weren’t so many problems with it, I’d say this has potential of being a fantastic franchise. But until now, be cautious. It’s not an abysmal action flick that feels unfinished like Babylon AD or even Xmen Origins: Wolverine but at the same time it’s disappointing that there’s some greatness in here that’s overshadowed by a ton of mediocrity. If you were interested in seeing it, you can check it out; you’ll probably get a kick or laugh out of it, heck you might even enjoy the film. Just remember, a great trailer doesn’t always mean a great movie.

 

The Burrowers Review: A Straight-To-DVD Horror Film That’s Good? October 26, 2009

Filed under: Review — andthismakesaheartbeat @ 3:24 am
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Burrowersposter08

In honor of Halloween, I decided to write about something within the horror genre. I was going to do a countdown and list a bunch of horror films you already know rock OR talk about a little gem that pleasantly surprised me. And that gem is called The Borrowers.

I’m a sucker for cheesy, bad, Straight-to-DVD horror films. One’s with horrible visual effects and even worse acting. My friend and I rented this film with the hopes of a ridiculous title like The Burrowers, it had to be promising in all the wrong ways. We popped it in and minutes later we were pretty disappointed. It wasn’t horrible, in fact it was pretty darn good.

The Burrowers is written and directed by JT Petty, best known for writing the acclaimed video game Splinter Cell. It tells the story of a Wild West rescue party in search of a missing family that mysteriously vanished. Initially, the group points the finger at the local Native Americans however some members of the party begin to realize that something else might be responsible for the disappearances.

For starters, the idea of a western horror film is intriguing in itself. It’s hard to think of any film that combines these two genres and even harder to think of one that is this good. The premise of being alone in the deserted wild wild west with an unknown force stalking you is a fairly terrifying concept in itself and once you realize who the real enemies are and what they do to their prey, even more chills arise.

4

The cinematography is nothing short of beautiful and while the visual effects are fairly mediocre, they’re much more impressive the atypical pseduo-CGI seen in straight-to-DVD horror films. As far as complaints, I didn’t know what to think of the ending, whether I should appreciate what it was trying to do or hate it for its sudden closure. Nevertheless, this is a fantastic low-budget horror film that is an interesting blend of western and horror.

If you have no other films to watch this Halloween weekend be sure to check this out.