26 March 2011

Revolver (2005)

I got home the other night, content to watch old episodes of Frasier on YouTube, as I often do, until I'd have fallen asleep.  To my delight I found that one of my favorite movies had returned to Netflix instant.  Guy Ritchie's 'Revolver'.

I originally came across this movie, via Netflix, probably around 2007 and I've loved it ever since.  I watched it maybe 3 or 4 times.  Since discovering it's return to Instant this week I've watched it another 3 times.
As far as Guy Ritchie movies go, this one gets pretty universally panned.  On Metacritic it scores only .3 higher than that shitstorm he did with his then-wife, Madonna.  I personally think he's one of the best gangster-shoot-em-up directors out there.  I loved Snatch and I hold Lock Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels in very high regard.  But I don't think either can hold a candle to Revolver.   It has everything that makes those movies great: A flawed protagonist, warring factions with varying characters all with their endearing qualities, and almost vaudvillian stumbling blocks placed in each other's way akin to 1963's It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World;  but what makes this film greater, and what unfortunately leads to the distaste left in the mouths of most of it's viewers, is that it's very deep.

Take a look at the end credits but only if you don't plan on watching the movie.  Slight spoiler. 

And I know Deep is a vacuous word that's lost all meaning but let me differentiate. His movies have always been smart.  Very clever.  Revolver, however, for the first 70% of the film plays out most superficially.  It's not until midway into the 3rd act that you start to realize that something else is at play here.  Atop that there are also moments of misdirection.  For a while you think he's playing one of the more common plot twists which has become popularized by movies like Fight Club and The Sixth Sense (which he may be...).  And even after the movie is finished you're not left with a solid answer wrapped in a bow which we've become accustomed to.  Thusly we have our low ratings and bad reviews.

Ray Liotta shines brilliantly in this flick and more than makes up for Andre 3000's less than great, but well within his range, performance.  Good thing they never had to face off on screen.  I'm not a big Jason Statham fan but he also does a stand up job.  You end up loving a number of the dozens of characters that you'll be introduced to through the course of the 2 hours.  Even if you just want to skim along the top of this hearty study you'll still get a great deal of enjoyment from this movie.


And on a related note you can revisit this post.

21 March 2011

Black Orpheus

By 2016 I will be somewhere in Brasil lying about my age.
In preparation for this I've resolved to learn Portuguese.  I got the alphabet under my belt tonight so I figured that qualified me to stream a bunch of Brazilian and Portuguese language movies on Netflix which I'll probably be doing for some time to come.

I started with the 2008 documentary 'Only When I Dance'.

It was enjoyable.  I'm not too terribly interested in classical and ballet dance and I was a bit mad at myself upon starting it up and finding that it was a documentary (I have a tendency to not read things before I commit to them) when I wasn't really in a documentary mood, but it proved to be relatively painless. 
I just wished it had focused less on Irlan who, with his unquestionable talent, is certain to go far and have a happy ending, but instead use the opportunity to shed a bit more light on nearly impossible standards that a dancer has to live up to which, in Isabela's case, proved to be the unraveling of her dream. 
I do know, of course, that would have made the film a completely different beast and not as heartwarming.  But I felt bad for feeling so heart-warmed by the successes of Irlan when only moments ago I saw Isabela's family devastated, both financially and emotionally.  It didn't make it any better when after Google searching to check up on the young protagonists, on all the red carpets at all the events, Irlan was in every photo but poor Isabela was nowhere to be found.
That being a major gripe, like I said, I did enjoy the movie.  Really beautiful moments accomponied by a really great soundtrack.  Very Brazilian down to it's core.  The filmmakers did a very good job of that.  It's very visceral and at only about 80 minutes this film is a good one for when you want to be transported elsewhere.  


16 March 2011

Filthy Hour

This is how we do studio time:

Or rather it's how Katie and I do studio time. 

She brought in a cheap but tasty Cab Sav.  Very Smokey and very potent. 
I brought the Pop Tarts.  The book is The First Man. Camus' final work.  I got it specifically for the down time at the studio so I'm too soon in to give any impressions yet.  A lot of exposition as I've come to expect.  So far so good. 

Band #2 is finishing up our Spring session today at Ampreon Recorder in Beautiful Downtown Youngstown and I couldn't be more delighted with how the songs are coming out.   The as yet titled album is going to be matured.  A little less irreverent then what we may have done in the past but not without it's brash moments.  Some very adult themes as well.

I won't be in the studio today, well not that studio, because I'll be filling in on the Jackson Purdue Filthy hour which you can listen to at Golden String Radio.org at 5PM EST.  Or tune in now if you like.  
They do excellent work over at Golden String with and for their adult clients with disabilities who spin their favorite tunes up until 3PM EST.  It's really a beautiful thing.
Check back because Practices In Alchemy will have it's official webcast there in the near future.  Check out my personal page (which is currently void of any information).

10 March 2011

Maria Conchita Alonso

I've always had a deep seated hatred for  Michelle Rodriguez.  Even before she became the worst Lost character ever.  Perhaps it has something to do with her playing the same punky ass character in EVERY SINGLE ROLE.

She will never hold a candle to the original cheesy action movie latina staple of such films as Running Man and Predator 2: Maria Conchita Alonso.

Bow down.

06 March 2011

My turn to talk about The King Of Limbs

 After my first listen-through of the newest Radiohead release I'd said that it Sounds like a collection of B-sides and remixes of songs that should have been on the album. I still stand by that but not with as much ill-intent behind those words.  After a couple weeks with it I still can't imagine myself listening to it as a cohesive album ever again.  Honestly most of the tracks will collect dust in my iTunes library.  It proves to be a very boring and indifferent listen all together.  Only one song- 'Feral' -caught me on the initial listen and for all intents and purposes, it's an instrumental.  Atop that, I liked it better in 1984 when it was called 'Moments In Love'.* 
 Two other songs managed to grow on me. The first being the opening track 'Bloom' which I'll now go on record touting a brilliant track.  Back during the Kid A/Amnesiac sessions they had a tune on their chalk board of potential songs called 'Fela Kuti' and I can't help but think that this trippy afro-beat groove is what's become of it.  This one made it onto my workout mix and I have to stop myself from singing along with lest the strangers on the ellipticals next to me think I've gone mad.  
 The other song that's grown on me is the single 'Lotus Flower'.  Still not sensational but one of the few multifaceted songs on the album. Thom's falsetto always gets to me and this is a case in which it's the saving grace on what otherwise would be an unremarkable track.  

The rest of the tracks range from bland to mediocre which is most unexpected from a band once described as the most important in rock and roll.  But as I've said, I believe Radiohead will go down like the Stones.  Their discography is going to reach into the dozens and people will debate the merits of each for decades to come.  Nothing can be taken away from them and that's the one thing everyone will agree upon.  The King of Limbs just happens to be the first real valley in a history that now contains BOTH highs and lows. 


*if you're unfamiliar with Art of Noise deduct 6 points from your credibility score and Grooveshark them immediately. 

03 March 2011

Mortal Kombat (9)

For the first time in over a decade I'm really excited for a Mortal Kombat game.
The original MK was probably the game responsible for turning me from a casual gamer to an avid drooling fan boy. I remember walking home in junior high and hitting up my man D.Traylor who always had the Game Informers and Nintendo Power magazines and getting erections over any new info on the next MK installment.

needless to say, the jump to 3D really hurt the series and when compared to up-and-coming fighting titles like Tekken and Soul Caliber the MK formula just went stale. If the mechanics are as smooth as they look (can't be worse than the last 3 games) and it has all the gameplay options that it boasts then this may be the first game I put $60 bucks down for in quite a while.

01 March 2011


February, the most depressing of all months in my opinion, is now taking it's last shallow breaths and giving way to one of my favorites.  March isn't great by any means.  It still resembles much more of February than April and is littered with the blight of college basketball but it has a number of redeeming qualities.  Besides being my birth month, which does make me partial, it also has what may be my favorite holiday: St Patrick's.  The sun begins to become a more familiar staple during the day and daylight lasts well into the 7 O'clock hour here in Ohio, not to mention that since 2007 we now spring forward in March as opposed to April.

Personally I'm looking forward to getting back into the studio to record some really great music that Band #2 has been working on.  That may be (but not likely) followed by a St Patty's day in NYC.   My Spelling Bee at the Lemon Grove is finally taking place at the end of the month.  But most exciting is the fact that I've been hitting the gym pretty hardcore and hope that the high of this new membership doesn't wear off any time soon.  I've been going almost every other day since joining and I'm becoming quite the meat head.  Been mostly working on cardio so that I can be in peak condition for the frisbee league this spring but also started doing strength training because my arms have always been as weak as delicate little seedlings.
I plan on taking my shirt off a lot this Summer.

I'm currently listening to Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie XX's 'We're New Here'.  A collection of remixes to Mr. Heron's first album after a 13 year hiatus.  I have to say I'm enjoying it.

Also, I've decided I'm going to live in Brazil before this life is over.