Bob Dylan’s grandson is a rapper.

I listened to one of his tracks. Maybe it’s too early to say but I don’t think he inherited his grandfather’s flare for brilliant lyricism.

He sounds like this:

But he kind of reminds me of this:

The rap is bad, doesn’t sound like his granddad, but he shouldn’t be sad, having lots of money must be rad.

There is a new Spider-Man movie coming out perhaps you’ve heard

 

If films are the modern day myths and legends and highest forms of storytelling, then the same stories are probably going to be passed down year by year, generation by generation. Especially if there’s already some source material. Whether it’s super heroes like Spidey or Supes or Batman, or something going so far back as Robin Hood. How many damn different versions of Robin Hood are there? We all know the basic outline of the Robin Hood tale. It’s been told many different ways. It’s been extended upon in episodic form, it’s been traced to its purest possible historical origins, it’s been altered, parodied, etc., etc. But I guess since it’s not a geeky franchise not that many people will bitch about it. Nevermind, I guess a lot of people bitched about the 2010 Ridley Scott version of Robin Hood. Can’t please everybody.

 

Superman, not unlike Jesus, died for our sins, and was resurrected after defeating his cyborg doppleganger.

 

The Amazing Spider-Man seems to be telling Peter Parker’s origin story once more, which was already portrayed in the 2002 film by Sam Raimi which for some people feels like last Thursday. It looks to be a little different than before, seems darker, more serious in tone, and will probably add a little bit more regarding Peter Parker’s parents. We’ve just seen the teaser. This could occupy 15 minutes of the movie, or it could occupy 45. I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see.

 

 

I understand why people aren’t being won over too easily by the notion of rebooting a franchise whose dead body isn’t even cold yet. Yes, it feels a little too early. And when you compare it to the Batman series’ reboot, it doesn’t feel as necessary. Batman’s origin was not part of any movie. In Tim Burton’s 1989 version, Batman already existed, ready to fight crime. Nolan’s films started from the beginning in every sense and gave the story the darker edge it deserved.

 

The 2002 Spider-Man film was…okay. I never thought it was all that great. The only thing I thought it did very well was the origin, which it nailed perfectly. They took their time with it and set up everything we needed to know about Peter Parker, his gift, and his curse as Spider-Man. When it came to the second half of the movie, though, I don’t know. It failed to deliver. Willem Dafoe was born to play a comic book villain, and Norman Osborne was a perfect role for him. But despite pulling off a good job he was given very little to work with. The action and situations were pretty generic, even by comic book standards, and the design of that Green Goblin suit- dear God, it was fucking dreadful. Really. What the fuck?

 

 

But it set up the groundwork and made way for the second film, which some regard as one of the best comic book films ever made, and others who say it’s pretty much on par with 1 and 3. You can put me in the former category of people. I think it is one of the best comic book movies ever. Why? I don’t know for sure exactly why, but maybe it’s just because it’s actually about something. It’s not just formula. It’s not obligations. We have the standard stuff, like mad scientist and experiments going wrong and becoming evil and putting the city in danger and OF COURSE taking the girlfriend hostage. But I think it was less fantastical elements that really struck a chord: the average kid trying to survive, dealing with school and part time jobs and unrequited love, and all that super hero crap getting in the way of his life, seriously struggling with whether or not he should embrace his powers. It didn’t constrict itself to a basic formula, it roamed free and let us observe Peter a little bit. So many people bring up the fact that it was completely pointless that they had a scene where he eats cake with his landlord’s daughter. Well, why the hell not?

 

Then we had Spider-Man 3 and the series imploded into itself and instead of gracefully steadying after the fumble they just went back to the drawing board and went for the reboot.

 

Am I really going to have watch Peter get bitten by a radioactive Spider again? Am I really going to have to see Uncle Ben die again? Is it really going to be yet another science experiment going wrong and a genius becomes a monster? So be it, that’s comic books for ya. If it’s good, then it’s good. And if it’s good, it would be downright moronic of me to complain. It’s not as if it erases what I liked about Raimi’s films. And hello, Denis Leary FFS.

 

 

 

But yeah looks like they may be going for gritty and realistc much like Batman. I GUESS. I mean, I don’t know for sure. I’ll bet there’ll be a good amount of humour in it. But again it will just follow the origin story. It will have all the obligations and it will follow them and it will try to keep within a fairly reality-based environment. As great as Nolan’s Batman films are, they may actually be a bad influence. Come on, gritty is nice, but I want to see Spider-Man fight giant fucking robots and explore alternate dimensions or some other crazy comic book shit like that. There’s more to Marvel’s Sci-Fi than simply “SCIENCE GONE AWRY!”

 

That’s what I actually liked about this year’s Thor. It was Sci-fi fantasy to the max. Space vikings. Ice creatures. Travels through time and space. Oh, and hey- giant fucking robots. Neat-o.

 

But since film is still a fairly new medium (at least compared to those paper things with words on em) then I’m sure we’ll have dozens of different incarnations down the road, well beyond our lifetime, provided the world doesn’t end 6 months after the films release, and the film series will be classified by their eras, and certain people will like certain series better- just like with the comics. I hope within my lifetime though, I get to see Spider-man fight a Spider Slayer Robot on the big screen.

 

Anyway, I guess the whole point of this rant is, doesn’t The Dark Knight Rises look awesome!?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I need to catch up on the Harry Potter movies.

Knowing and the end of the world

Harold Camping is a religious scholar who predicted that Judgment Day would arrive some time in 1994. That didn’t happen. He claims he made an error in his calculation, and now, he is ever-so-certain that he has the correct date: May 21st, 2011. This Saturday.

The gist of his calculation is that in May of 4990 B.C. God gave the warning that in seven days, he would bring forth his great flood and abolish all the sinners, saving the chosen few true believers. In the Bible we are told “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” So 7 days would equal 7,000 years.

4990 + 2011 – 1 = 7,000 (subtracting 1 because there is no year 0)

Time’s up.

You can read this flawed theory more thoroughly here if you like.

Analysts have estimated that the folks at Family Radio have spent over 3 million dollars on their billboard campaign spreading the word. That sounds like a lot but when you think about it, it costs more to produce and promote and episode of Family Guy. If you wish to make a donation to Camping’s cause, you can do so here.

Anywho, all this got me to thinking about the 2009 film KNOWING, starring Nicolas Cage. It also has a good deal of calculations and omens, all that ominously lead to mankind’s final days. A very underrated movie in my opinion. I decided to watch it tonight and had some thoughts. Spoilers ahead.

The story begins in 1959 when a troubled girl who hears mysterious voices writes down a series of seemingly random numbers on an assignment paper for a school time capsule, the students were instructed to write/draw what they think the future would be like. It was kept underground in the capsule for 50 years. Flash forward to 2009, when Nicolas Cage’s character’s son receives this paper with all the numbers when the school opens up the capsule and lets all the kids take a look and what their predecessors thought life would be like 5 decades prior. Nicolas Cage acquires this sheet and discovers the numbers translate to dates and numbers of deaths for major global disasters. Some have past, and some have yet to come.

It sounds like your pretty standard Nick Cage thriller, with plenty of room for Nicolas Cage to run around and try to prevent these disasters, and blah blah blah. And part of it feels exactly like that. But this time around it’s quite different. It’s actually unbelievably incredible how the movie unfolds and unfolds, shit gets pretty crazy. It defies all expectations and formulas for this kind of movie.

Cage goes around trying to prevent all these disasters (unsuccessfully) until he stumbles upon the final prediction: the end of everything.

So naturally you think he’s going to figure out some kind of way to stop mankind’s doom in some exciting final sequence, but, nope. He comes to the realization that whether he likes it or not, the world is going to end and there is nothing he can do about it. And then there’s aliens or something.

It isn’t your typical thriller. It treats the audience like they actually might have brains, it asks questions, it has intriguing ideas. There’s themes of science vs religion, random events vs predetermination, aliens vs angels. You could make a strong argument for either case and you’d probably be right. It treats both sides with respect. And I’m hesitant to listen to the director commentary. I wouldn’t want to ruin its ambiguity.

But even if you don’t feel like buying into its provocative themes, just think about how much balls this movie has to end the fucking world. No exciting heroics. No last minute save. The world ends. How many big budget blockbusters like this can you name that have actually done that?? And it truly is alarming just how fast it’s all over. The whole destruction scene is probably under a minute. There’s no amazing CGI shots that linger on all the destruction and mayhem to be seen, it’s over in a quick flash.

And when all is said in done, when his son is brought to start over to a new world by the aliens or angels or supernatural beings or whatever, there’s nothing much else the Cage character can do but find his way home to his father, mother, and sister and say his last goodbyes. The family embraces and then the solar flare hits the earth. The movie has enough taste to not show their gruesome evaporation, but that last image of them all is burned in my mind. It’s a sad and beautiful movie.

But anyway, sometimes you just can’t help but fear the end of the world. I don’t think we’ll be seeing the Rapture this Saturday. May 21st will come and go like any other day. But warnings like this always make me a little nervous. We’re all fascinated and terrified by our own destruction. I’ll be anxiously tugging my collar before Saturday, and even every day before December 21st, 2012 (what is it with the 21st?). The end will come eventually, that’s just a fact. Whether or not it will happen in our lifetime, I do not know. And will it be a random occurrence, like a solar flare or asteroid or something? Or is there a grand purpose behind it all, and that every event since the beginning of mankind has been leading up to it? I don’t know. Sometimes shit happens.

Beast from “X-Men: First Class” looks suspiciously like Chopper Dave from “Sealab 2021”

The trailer for X-Men: First Class hit the web today. It’s a prequel or something. It should have mutants and extremely, extremely subtle social commentary. But anyway something that caught my attention was one shot of Beast, since it looks so much like our beloved Chopper Dave character from the Adult Swim cartoon “Sealab 2021,” but you can judge for yourself:

uh-oh!

A British actor has been cast as Superman which is probably a sign of the apocalypse.

Jazz and comic books. Two forms of art that have the distinction of originating in America. Maybe jazz is a little out of date and only enjoyed by pretentious D-bags but those comic book things are still huge, particularly the film adaptations.

Now, if the fat cats in the United States want to outsource their already wealthy, profitable corporations just to make an extra billion here and there and damn the lower-class working stiffs, that’s fine, but outsourcing your super heroes is one step too far.

Batman, Wolverine, and the new Spider-Man are not played by Americans. It was never that big of a deal, it was forgivable, “the best man for the job,” you may say, but the news has come out today that the new Superman will be played by Henry Cavill, a British actor. That just doesn’t sit right, does it?

But why is it that it’s not that big of a deal when Brits play other super heroes? I could do my homework and write a long winded essay about how Superman was on the scene long before Spidey or Bats ever showed their sorry asses and he became a symbol of hope during World War II, or that his motto is standing for “truth, justice, and the American way,” or that his very origin story is an allegory for the American dream. But I won’t. I’m too lazy to write it and you’re too lazy to read it. Short paragraphs work so much better for both of us.

Richard Donner’s 1978 film, a spectacular classic, was wise enough to embrace all of the Americana associated with Superman. Maybe that’s why his film is the only Superman adaptation to date to be considered a great work of filmmaking.

Why is it cool to not care? I’m Canadian (Superman is a half-Canadian invention by the way), but if I were American I think I’d boycott the movie. Where’s the patriotism? If they got an American to play James Bond I’m sure people would be pissed off, so why not for Superman? Why do people want to insist it isn’t an issue? It is.

But hey, it’s fine if a Brit plays Superman, it’s fine if all the companies move to India, whatever, it’s all good, as long as I have my I-Phone. It’s cool to be open to anything because I’m just so awesome.

Anyway, I think this casting is distracting from the big picture anyway, and that’s that the movie can’t possibly be any good anyway. Zack Snyder is directing it, after all. How good could it possibly be. I liked Watchmen and everything but if ever there was a “style over substance” director it’s Snyder. Seriously, since when did he become the go-to guy for comic book adaptations? I’m sure I’m not the only one who saw the Watchmen trailer and laughed so hard I peed a little when he was described as a “visionary director.”

And that got me thinking. Zack Snyder is an American, I wonder if it crossed his mind if it would be a good idea to cast a non-American for the role. I wonder if he considered whether or  not it may upset people. I’m sure he’ll give some interviews in the future to explain himself. But if he sees it as a non-issue, I can’t imagine the guy having a firm grasp on the character.

Ultimately I think it’s far more ignorant to act like it isn’t an issue at all than to at least acknowledge it. You can agree with this blog or not, but just don’t pretend it isn’t an issue and that anybody feeling uncomfortable about the casting is totally out of line. That’s like saying “When I see a person, I don’t see race or colour, I just see a person.” Yes, that seems all nice and everything but that’s one of the worst things someone can say. It’s our diversities that make us unique and every race, colour, creed, and nationality has its own rich history and ignoring Superman’s impact on American culture is pretty close-minded.

I can’t speak for Americans but if they cast anyone other than a Canadian to play Captain Canuck, I wouldn’t think twice about skipping it.

The Best Albums of 2010

The year is coming to an end and I guess now is as good of a time as any to look back on the music of 2010. I should mention right off the bat that I do not consider myself a music critic in any sense of the term, nor do I consider myself an expert on all things music. I’m simply a fan of good music and I like what I like. I do not have an encyclopedic knowledge of musical terms and probably couldn’t give you a thorough biographical account of the featured artists, so forgive me if my assessments aren’t entirely eloquent. With that in mind, may I humbly present to you my picks for the best albums of 2010.

1.BROTHERS, The Black Keys

There isn’t a single bad track on this album. It doesn’t once misfire, and never runs out of steam. From the escalating, inviting beats of its opener, “Everlasting Light” to the soulful Jerry Butler cover “Never Gonna Give You Up” and “These Days” as its closing songs, The Black Keys’ 6th album is a fantastic musical experience displaying an impressive evolution in sound without losing the bluesy roots that made the duo so unique and appealing in the first place. Their songs have graced countless films, TV shows, and commercials in the past years and you could picture lesser artists selling out, sitting back and collecting royalty checks, but with Brothers, The Black Keys move forward unblinkingly in new exciting ways. It fucking rocks.

2. CRAZY FOR YOU, Best Coast

This is the most addictive album of the year. It’s short and sweet, but for what it lacks in scope and grandeur, it certainly makes up for in its low-fi charms and catchy tunes. It’s impossible not to sort of fall in love with lead singer Bethany Cosentino, whose songs of heartbreak, boredom, and longing peer deep into the soul without being overly poetic or pretentious. She’s a cool chick with a rockin’ band and Crazy For You is that diamond in the rough that deserves your attention. Just look for the kitty by the palm trees. I’ll put this bluntly: Best Coast is the new band to keep and eye on. The fanbase is already solid and steadily growing, even Bill Murray is apparently a fan. Do you think you have better judgment than Bill Murray?

3.HIPPIES, Harlem

Speaking of bands to keep an eye on, Harlem has enjoyed a pretty successful year, busting out of the garage and into record stores with their second studio LP, Hippies. The drums and guitar are their friends. There’s no showing off here, only the essentials, which are used delightfully. Hippies sports a timeless, tried and true sound that may make you want to go out and surf or some shit. The songs are awesome. The second last track, “Pissed,” in particular is an indescribable joy to listen to. You owe it to yourself to take a listen below.

4.RECOVERY, Eminem

Eminem’s comeback was so grand it required two albums. While not many may share my opinion that last year’s Relapse is the superior album, least of all Eminem himself (who seems to be dissatisfied with it), Recovery is a triumph for the Detroit-rooted rap star, back in full force with something prove. The morbid, mind-bending raps are impressive as all hell and Eminem once again explores different themes and finds different sounds that make this release stand out. It’s insanity and energy that only Eminem can provide, accept no substitutes.

5. THE SUBURBS, Arcade Fire

I’d like to retract previous derogatory statements I have made about Montreal in the past. Surely it can’t be all that bad, especially if a band such as Arcade Fire can emerge from there. This is their third album, and it’s their best so far. It just may push them over the threshold of “Oh yeah I think I heard of them” to “OMFG they are my favourite.” As I write this, it was announced only yesterday that The Suburbs was nominated for a Grammy Award for Album Of The Year. Maybe Grammy Awards don’t mean all that much to most thinking people, but in an age of Katy Perry and Justin Bieber pop bullshit, it’s not just a victory, it’s a bold statement. Arcade Fire’s moving, reflective opus of where we’ve been and where we’re going is an instant classic.

6. MY BEAUTIFUL DARK TWISTED FANTASY, Kanye West

Just ignore for a minute all the Taylor Swift interrupting, all the inane ranting, and the ego too big for this planet, and it’s hard to ignore that Kanye West is truly a master of his craft. It’s been two years since his last album, and it was worth the wait. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is Kanye West’s most ambitious album since College Dropout. West attempts greatness and is largely successful, it’s a hip-hop epic with all the bells and whistles, and it’s as huge in scale as it is exciting. This is Kanye with his lyrical bullets blazing.

7. EYELID MOVIES, Phantogram

It’s melodic, dreamy, sometimes surreal and frightening. Phantogram often played as an opening act to other artists such as The XX, Metric, and Minus The Bear, but with their debut LP, Eyelid movies, they have the opportunity to shine fully. This is an easy album to get caught up and lose yourself in, synths, beats, and crackles dominate the tracks…it’s not derivative of other experts in this area of music: the sound is fresh and exciting. At the risk of sounding cliche’d, it’s candy for the ears.

8. SEA OF COWARDS, The Dead Weather

Ask Jack White how his wife and kids are, he’ll most likely reply “people tell me they’re doing great.” The busiest guy in rock n’ roll returns to The Dead Weather with Sea Of Cowards, the group’s second album in as many years.  It’s hard to say if it’s all that much better or worse than Horehound, but it rocks just as hard, if not harder. The instrumentals grind away like magic and Alison Mosshart’s vocal’s are just as commanding and thrilling. It’s a great rock album, it’s big, it’s loud, and it never goes soft.

9. VOLUME TWO, She & Him

This is the kind of album you want to stick in the CD player while driving your convertible through California in the hopes of making it big in the city of dreamers. There’s more “she” than “him” when it comes to the vocals, M.Ward steps aside to give Zoey Deschanel’s angelic voice dominate the tunes. My God, what a beautiful voice she has. If this acting thing doesn’t work out for her, I’m sure no one will be upset if she falls back on this. Volume II has the old fashioned simplicity of  song birds from the 60’s, but it works, and it works splendidly. It’s an album that melts the heart and touches the soul.

10. RECORD COLLECTION, Mark Ronson and the Business Int’l

This is a mixed bag, for sure. But there is rarely a dull moment on Mark Ronson’s Record Collection. There’s a little bit of everything. There’s 80’s style snyth and hip-hop that works just a well as tribute as it does satire. I can’t say too many “get up and dance” tunes contain much social commentary as “Bang Bang Bang,” and I can’t say I’ve heard many hip-hop ballads to cruising around town on a bicyle as heard with “The Bike Song.” It’s high spirited and quasi-experimental, and delves a little deeper than your average pop fare. Record Collection may not get the gold, but it sure as hell enters every event.

Honorable Mentions, listed alphabetically by album title:

THE ARCHANDROID, Janelle Monae
ASTRO COAST, Surfer Blood
CRYSTAL CASTLES II, Crystal Castles
INNERSPEAKER, Tame Impala
MAYA, M.I.A
ROMANCE IS BORING, Los Compesinos!
STUCK ON NOTHING, Free Energy
TOMORROW IN A YEAR, The Knife

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