Friday, October 30, 2009

Worst lyrics

Not all of these songs came out this year, but they were all played heavily. If I listened to the radio on a more regular basis, this list would probably be about 40 songs long.

1. Kings of Leon - "Sex on Fire"

"My sex is on fire"
Following three great albums, Kings of Leon's breakthrough song is titled after the worst lyric they ever wrote. Coincidence? No, people love terrible shit. That's why Jeff Dunham has fans. Try and write the dumbest thing you can think of, add the word "sex" and you've got a top 40 hit ... which leads us to our next song.

2. Jeremih - "Birthday Sex"

Every lyric in the entire song.
I don't know how to pronounce this grade-A retard's name. I don't know if it's missing a letter, or if I'm just supposed to pronounce it Jer-em-meh. This is one of the more inane hooks of the year, second only to that god forsaken text-speak song lower on this list. Attempting to elevate the most banal of sentiments with melody doesn't distract from the fact that he's singing about almost nothing.

3. Miley Cyrus - "Party in the USA"
"Movin my hips like 'yeah'"
Whats worse, her parents letting (or possibly recommending) her dress like a giant slut in her videos and she's not even seventeen, or that that they let her frog-voice this shit all over American airwaves?

4. Jay-Z and Alicia Keys - "Empire State of Mind"
"Concrete jungle where dreams are made of / There's nothing you can’t do / Now you're in New York!!! / These streets will make you feel brand new / bright lights will inspire you"
This would have sounded hackneyed in a '50s television commercial. That's the best you can come up with Alicia, you corny half-talent? Pop lyrics don't have to be poetry ... but this shit wouldn't even pass in a 12th grade English class. When you are just rhyming cliches, it's not song writing, it's rearranging phrases that have existed in the lexicon for decades. People will still buy (illegally download) this, feel the empty "inspirational" message — watch Oprah — go to bed, wake up and do it all over again the next day.

5. Cage the Elephant - "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked"
"Oh, there ain't no rest for the wicked / Money don't grow on trees / I got bills to pay / I got mouths to feed / There ain't nothing in this world for free / I know I can't slow down / I can't hold back..."
I could have included this entire song, but you get the point with just the chorus. Again, like the Keys' hook, there is nary an original idea nor concept buried in this list of cliches. Nothing is more infuriating that hearing meaningless aphorisms delivered with the attitude and swagger of a wannabe rock 'n' roller.

6. Trey Songz ft. Soulja Boy & Gucci Mane - "LOL Smiley Face"
Every lyric in the entire song
Crass consumerism is par for the course in popular music. Pop-rappers like to rhyme about gold and cars and other empty pursuits that wouldn't sound any more or less interesting with or without a beat, and that's expected when they name themselves after clothing labels. But this shit, my god, this shit takes the motherfucking proverbial cake. I get physically angry when I hear the verse about texting on the Blackberry. It's almost as brutal as that Chris Brown (or Neyo or whoever) song (commercial) about double mint gum. Remember in "Demolition Man" (if you weren't born in the '80s you weren't the right age when this came out, if you were born in the '80s it was the best action movie ever when we were about 12) when every one's favorite radio station played nothing but old commercials? We are in an even worse version of that future, we actually listen to new songs written independently (maybe not) with the same intent as commercials — to make plastic crap no one needs sound and look sexy, cool and essential.

7. LMFAO ft. Lil Jon - "Shots"
Every lyric in the entire song
This song is enjoyed equally by all the worst segments of modern society — new haircut guys in clubs, frat brahs, high school girls carrying bottles of Bacardi Razz like a badge of honor, sorostitutes and every idiotic townie at the college bar.

8. Shinedown — "Second Chance"
Every lyric in the entire song, but especially the line "I just saw Haley's Comet" which inexplicably appears repeatedly.
The chorus, "Sometimes goodbye is a second chance," if I'm viewing the music video correctly, means running from your abusive household so your dad can continue to beat the fuck out of your younger siblings while you go onto bigger and better things. That's the "positive" message.
This video has been a favorite of my friends and I all year. The derf-rock singer has mastered the hand-movements seeming to mime-pull the sun in while fighting it off, whist staring into the horizon as the wind blows his hair-hair. Even better than the song's lyrics are the painfully oblivious, earnest and wholly stupid comments 13-years-olds have been leaving under the video on youtube.

A sampling:

FrankieAlcala09 This song was like it was my heart singing I felt so much like this song that I did a dance for my school

C4r1y1996 I feel so bad for that girl. :[I nearly cried...and the ...little brother...she left themm. D:But I see her point of view. This is an awesome song.

SxR4Real I love this song bcuz it kinda relates to almost everyonei no it relates to me bcuz my parents always blame me and get angry at me for no reason and i just want to run away.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wasted Postage: Reports from the Netflix theater

The Night of the Hunter (1955)
When John, the grade-school-age protagonist, is enveloped by the shadow of Robert Mitchum's black hat in the first act, you know you're in for one of the grimmest film noirs of the era — a special feat for a genre named after the French word for "dark." The children first see Mitchum standing ominously outside the front gate of their southern home like an owl waiting for its prey's first mistake. Initially, John and his sister don't know that Mitchum is at their home for a very sinister reason, a realization that comes to John much faster than adults easily taken in by Mitchum's dark charm. Mitchum's character, a sociopath with delusions of divinity, dresses like a preacher and has the the duality of man tattooed on his fingers. His perverted sense of love and hate is delivered with the power and articulation of an earnest sermon, though it has more in common with the hollow televangelists of today, interested in taking, not giving.

In "Night of the Hunter," he has come to take the fortune hidden by John's father shortly after a murderous bank robbery. John's father was arrested shortly after, and while on death row was cellmates with Mitchum, in jail briefly for auto theft. Only little John knows where the money is hidden. Before long it's a tension filled game of cat and mouse, with Mitchum slowly terrifying the children whenever the mother is in the other room. Despite a slightly disappointing second half and ending, the nearly flawless and unnerving first half has enough sparse and desolate scenes to fill plenty of quiet nightmares. A

The Big Steal
Robert Mitchum again stars here, a fast-moving and action-orientated noir set in Mexico. Standard plotting here, some money is stolen and everyone wants their hands on in. Mitchum is framed for a payroll he didn't steal and has to chase the guy who has it, while US military personnel pursues him below the border. A classic car chase is framed by Mitchum and co-star Jane Greer's stylized dialogue and solid chemistry. B+

Shrooms (2007)
"Hey, You guys wanna eat some ... SHROOMS?!?"
"OK, sure, let's go eat them SHROOMS (!!!) in the woods outside a haunted orphanage where children were tortured and killed!"
"We're just a bunch of cool and hot American kidz fornicatin' and takin' SHROOMS!!! in Europe, what could go wrong?"
"But watch out, don't eat the SHROOMS!!! with the black dot on top!"
"I really wish I hadn't eaten those SHROOOOOOOOOMS!!!"
The End.
I was just gonna leave this review like that, but two points: the whole thing is sort of a horror "Reefer Madness" for the shroom set, and the "twist" ending rips off ::SPOILER:: "High Tension." D

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wasted Postage: Reports from the Netflix Theater

Timecrimes (2007)
Time-travel sci-fi, when self-serious, can get bogged down in hypothetical discussions of tangent realities and space-time continuum gobbledygook that neither the writers nor the audience really understands. That's why Back to the Future is great, it's supposed to be a big ball o' fun and nothing more. It throws in a few space-time continuum nonsense explanations but nearly winks at the camera as it does it, acknowledging through Doc's manic performance that it's all just for fun. Timecrimes has a darker sense of humor, mostly that you can't trust just any old Hector with time travel, 'cause he will probably just muck everything up. Filmed in Spain, the film's spiraling series of events begins when a middle-aged milquetoast named Hector sees, with binoculars, a young woman undress in the woods behind his house. Once his wife leaves to run errands, he ventures out to investigate. When he gets close, a masked man stabs him and Hector is forced to flee to a nearby science lab where he stumbles upon a time machine. That sounds convoluted as hell, but Timecrimes actually aims small and makes good on the opening scares. It follows Hector throughout the course of the day, beginning with the bizarre violence that begin to make sense as we see back in time. Just when the circular plotting begins to become familiar and Hector tries to fix everything he screwed up with his first accidental time travel, it takes unexpected twists, while staying true to it's opening conceit. A

The Reader (2008) - The Reader not only features today's fashionable Oscar-bait casting choices (Ralph Fiennes and Kate Winslet), it even employs the Academy's favorite story structure: an old person looking back at several key moments in their life. Fiennes plays the wistful old lover here, looking back at his (here's where I should use the word 'torrid' or 'passionate') affair as a teenager with an older woman. That woman happened to be Winslet, playing a mid-thirties German strumpet who was a concentration camp guard during the Holocaust, unbeknown to Fiennes. Though her ruthlessly efficient and thoroughly German love-making (stereotype jokes are fun) and cold demeanor should have been a dead giveaway. This is the central twist that Fiennes doesn't realize until his mid twenties, during law school, when his class goes to visit Winslet's criminal trial.

In order to keep audiences engaged in a "torrid" love affair that is neither torrid nor especially passionate, the film's marketers advertised the twist as the film's premise, essentially letting film goers know to stay with it until the second half, when things supposedly get interesting. The one moment of inspiration comes from the outspoken douche in Fiennes' law school seminar, who becomes rightfully angry at the trial process that he said places the totality of blame for the Holocaust on a few guards, when there were millions of Germans who knew exactly what was going on. I'd say the odds are about 1-to-1 that he later joined the Baader-Mienhoff gang. The Reader fails to pose any interesting moral dilemmas or dig deep into the banality of evil, though it tries to do so in only the most austere and self-serious manner possible. It practically screams, tastefully of course, with the pinkie clearly extended and tea-in-hand. In other notes, Kate Winslet's character should probably have a sit-down with Chris Hanson. C+

Drag Me to Hell (2009)
Following in the tradition of uh, his own films before he started making Spiderman crapfests, Drag Me to Hell is a Raimi-esque Sam Raimi splash into a cauldron of bloody camp and slapstick horror. The gore is hilarious, the gags are disgusting and the plotting is pitch perfect, but as with all of his horror-comedy films, I always want just a bit something more, even though I don't know what it is. In this case
, the something more might just be less Justin Long, who seems to find his way into everything. The plotting follows the super-fine Alison Lohman, who plays a loan officer looking for a promotion at a small bank branch. When she denies an extension for some old Gypsy's mortgage, she gets cursed and has to spend the next 90 minutes getting abused by spirits in some humiliating ways, while convincing everyone she's not crazy and trying to get that damn promotion. This should have been a big hit, but instead the morons in suits cut it to a PG-13 rating and failed to get anyone in theaters besides fans of Raimi's other Raimi-esque work. B+/A-

Observe and Report (2009)
Writer/Director Jodi Hill may be as delusional as his deranged lead characters to think he could make a comedic Taxi Driver for the Apatow set. Predictably, Observe and Report never captures any of the weight of Taxi Driver, nor the laughs of Hill's Danny McBride vehicle Eastbound and Down. It jumps too quickly from slapstick gags and farcical sketches to maintain any dramatic momentum, despite several shorthand cinematic references to Scorsese's masterpiece. It can be pretty fucking funny though, even if it makes you feel a little guilty for laughing. Occasionally, it's as mean as The Foot Fist Way and East Bound and Down, and it continues Hill's characters' refreshing lack of sentiment or redeeming character traits. Though its barely-beating heart is seldom revealed outside of Rogen's scenes with his alcoholic mother. He plays mall security guard Ronnie Barnhardt — the McBride role — well, delusions of grandeur with a self-destructive streak. But he leaves McBride's possibly essential redneck coloring at home. Anna Farris plays the mindless party girl to perfection, she's a shallow slut with more love for "shots!" than her own well-being or self-esteem. Which brings us to the notorious date-rape scene, which is unflinchingly treated as a gag with no more care or seriousness than anything else. I don't know what to think of it. It's just presented matter-of-fact and then left alone. It happened. There are parts of "Observe and Report" that take place outside of anything remotely resembling reality, so much so that one wonders if Ronnie Barnhardt's fantasies of being an actual bad-ass actually become what's shown on screen. B-

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
Woodie Allen's first foray into Spain follows two American friends (ScarJo and some brunet) with opposite taste in relationships. ScarJo likes things passionate and occasionally self-destructive and her more uptight brunet friend has a reputable fiance and carefully planned future. Both end up falling for Javier Bardem's passionate artist, Juan Antonio, who indulges in Europe's more libertine attitudes. Eventually the other hottest woman in the world (Penelope Cruz) comes along as Bardem's ex-wife and things get weird.
VCB lets the audience ogle at some of the best looking people in Hollywood, placed near both old-Europe's beautiful city architecture and idyllic cottages and countryside. As with any Allen film, it allows us to question the idiosyncrasies of the human heart without feeling hokey or cheesy about it. And it's witty, of course. B+

Saturn 3 (1980)
When I read the title, I figured, well, I haven't seen the first two Saturn flicks — not that I've ever heard of them — but I can probably catch myself up to speed. It turns out Saturn 3 is not a sequel to a film named Saturn, it's the name of the deep-space base where all the "action" takes place in this stand-alone '80s sci-fi abomination. More curious than Saturn 3's illconceived and misleading name is its A-list cast, comprised of Hollywood stars either well-before or well-after their prime. You've got a young Harvey Keitel, after his supporting role in Taxi Driver but before any other film roles I remember. All his dialogue is comically dubbed, and his strangely wooden performance was an attempt at the future, I guess. It's got Farrah Fawcett after her pin-up heyday, but she's still amazingly hot and she gets naked, briefly. Weirdest of all, though, is a geriatric Kirk Douglas as ... Fawcett's lover?

Douglas and Faucet play a couple who live on an isolated Saturn space base, visited by Keitel's vaguely creepy space pilot who arrives with some robot. Keitel's robot is named Hector, and it kinda looks like that episode of Futurama when Fry thinks he's a robot and starts walking around like one. In other words, Hector is a guy in a robot suit, built so it looks like it has no head. This is accomplished by building the costume's chest where the actor's head would be, and squaring off the shoulders up above the head. Anyway, Keitel's mind controls the robot, and when he gets the hots for Farrah .... the robot does, too. Eventually Hector goes all HAL and there is a dead dog and some awesome non-CGI gore. Hector is one horny robot and he goes berserk. Oh, and I almost forgot, the crappy special effects attempting to show the surface of the planet, space travel and anything else is funny enough to merit a watch in it's own right. There is one extraordinarily shitty attempt to portray flight in an asteroid field, which was plainly accomplished by filling a tub with water, dropped a bunch of Styrofoam rocks in it and then filming a miniature space ship flying by the "asteroids." It didn't look like anything close to outer space.

Saturn 3 was clearly trying to cash in on the Star Wars hysteria, even borrowing Episode IV: A New Hope's opening iconic shot of the spaceship's underbelly as it flies over the camera. It is a truly abysmal, terrible-beyond-belief attempt at sci-fi that can't even accomplish it's fairly modest goals. In other words, a must see. F+ (otherwise known as a gentleman's D-, or a bastard's F)

Valkyrie (2008)
Tom Cruise is a Nazi (oh but he's the good guy, of course), wears an eye patch, and tries to dispose of Hitler. Pretty entertaining for a thriller, but for something that immortalizes a botched coup d'etat (it's hard to tell without research how much they were following a real story or just completely making stuff up under guise of "inspired by"), they could have stepped even further from reality instead of straying the line between historical fiction and a bunch of 'splosions. Throughout the entire film, I was just assuming nothing even close to this actually took place, and that they were just playing out what one of the plans would have gone like. But by the end, they seem to imply some of it did happen, and I was just left irritated. In other words, either grow some balls like Inglorious Basterds or don't show up at all. But again, outside of the historical contest, it works great as a thriller, despite Tom Cruise's best attempts to suck. (No Scientologists were hurt during the writing of this review.) B

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Yesterday's forcast: Rain with a 100 percent chance of fail

Other than "Drag Me to Hell," the new releases this Tuesday were enough to motivate anyone to smash their home entertainment center. Read 'um and weep (I have not seen any of these movies, premature judgments made solely on DVD covers and trailers. Some of these might have come out before Tuesday)

"The Proposal" Watch Sandra Bullock shove more weak innuendo and half-hearted slapstick comedy down your happy little smiling face. Eat it up, it's Sandra, motherfuckers. Extra garbage bonus points for Ryan Reynolds' eternally smirking mug. Fail

"The Soloist" Judging by the cover and trailer, Robert Downey Jr. briefly shelved the 8-balls and instead snorted kilos of manic-mentor-sentimental-pixie dust to guide Jaime Fox's carazzzy cello genius in this attempted middle-brow prestige fest. The usually reliable RDJr should have left this role to Robin Williams, so we could ignore it all together. Jaime Foxx took a break from randomly mailing anthrax (that's not true) and carefully avoided going "full retard" here, but the Oscars are still not going to take the bait. This trap is more obvious than the Perverted Justice freaks who lure pederasts into Chris Hansons' cookie and lemonade torture (interview) chamber. Fail

"Land of the Lost" Who the fuck was this movie made for? Not children, it's got Danny McBride and Will Ferrel making bestiality jokes and otherwise not-suitable-for-the-tykes wisecracks (so I've heard). Not adults, it's got Will Ferrel and Danny McBride in a non R-rated flick. Not anyone, it's a remake of a crappy children's show mostly remembered for the cheesy dinosaurs and otherwise kitsch-heavy appeal. Off with the studio exec's heads. Fail

"Management" I've never even heard of this, but it's got Jennifer Aniston smiling, with a certain degree of undeserved superiority with a dash of "workplace relationships do the darndest things." Steve Zahn is resting his head on her shoulder, gazing towards her commanding bone structure like a castrated poodle. Fail

"The Last House on the Left" I'm running out of hate here, too much crap released on one Tuesday. Anywho ... Fail

Should this be a recurring feature?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ur a Contra

You can download a free track here from Vampire Weekend's upcoming album "Contra," to be released 01-12-10. The heavy traffic has caused the site crash on occasion, just hit reload and it will work.

It sounds like Ezra and the gang have been listening to a little Animal Collective.