Saturday, January 30, 2010

"Lost"- Season 6: There's No Such Thing as a Bad Orgasm

All around me friends and fans are preparing for the ultimate season of Lost. No, really. Season 5 was the penultimate season. Season 6 is the last...the ultimate. And that brings me right to my point. In a couple days, people will begin to pass judgement on the long anticipated conclusion of the show that's long been the girlfriend who whispers in your ear how horny she is and just as you make it to the bedroom after her you find her mouthguard in, reading glasses on, and Sue Grafton's "Y is for Yucky!" book out. Black Out. "LOST".

But don't pass judgement. Don't be quick to say "Oh come on Lost, same old story, yeah you answered the question of what the bomb did, but set up a dozen new questions that you're gonna drag out. And the acting's bad. And I know you're in Hawaii, that's not LAX, assholes". I beg of you, let us enjoy this show for what it has always been: an undying source of entertainment, and a never-ending conversation starter. If we can have as much fun watching it as Damon Lindeloff and Carlton Cuse no doubt had writing it (I envy them so hard) then we're in for a treat.

The point is, it's the climax. And then it's the release. It's the end, and they've given it an ending. So rest easy in the fact that, no matter what happens, it's over for now. And that, by the nature of the show itself, will feel so good.


And obviously I'm still gonna review the shit out of it.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Spoon "Transference"


I usually don't like to give my take on an album until I've listened to it a few times. With Transference, it's a necessity.

In case it isn't already apparent, I'm a huge Spoon fan. Like many others, I first got hooked via their acoustic piano hit "The Way We Get By," and never looked back. I've devoured their entire catalog, even their earlier, more punky tracks. I guess I'm a sucker for the stripped-down aesthetic, and I'll be down with mostly anything that contains heavy drums and ragged vocals.

Their previous album, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (yeah, five of 'em!), was all smooth sailing: accessible and catchy songs, save for "The Ghost of You Lingers," the clearest indulgence of their experimental longings. On Transference, the experimentation isn't confined to one track: it's sprayed throughout... like a fine mist, y'might say. And to some (if you'll bear the simile a little longer), that mist might make too much of a haze to be enjoyed. Songs seem to end mid-lyric, or contain no bridge, or sound like they're on cheap speakers that suddenly explode to richer volumes. Even the ultra-cool opening song we've come to expect is missing, and the more "radio-friendly" tracks are shoved toward the end.

I've heard Brit Daniels talk about wanting to capture a live feel on Ga, letting studio fumblings and between-take chatter make their way onto the album. He continues his quest for spontaneity on Transference, and even decided that the demo version of "Goodnight Laura" was as polished as it needed to be (he was right, it's certainly a highlight of the album).

All this experimentation (or "playfulness," as Spoon would rather call it) could make for an awkward listening experience, but I never really mind. Instead, upon re-listen I've come to see these bumps as intrinsic parts of the album and its themes. We hear about an imaginary relationship in "The Mystery Zone," and songs like "Is Love Forever" make Daniel's preoccupations plain. Love is confounding, the truth is sought out and cut short, all while Spoon searches for "a way to convey."

Perhaps Spoon's biggest strength lies in their consistency, or how they can still deliver a solid album even when they're messing around more overtly. I can't get "Who Makes Your Money" out of my head, "Trouble Comes Running" rollicks along, and "Got Nuffin" serves as a kick-ass anthem, reminiscent of the brightness found on Ga. Yes, Transference might be murker than Spoon's last venture, but it might also be more rewarding.

Friday, January 22, 2010

"Deus"

Deus (teaser) from Olly Reid - Hot Head Films on Vimeo.


You know I'm down. Whatever this is, it's totally won me over.

Somewhat related news: did you know you could friend Jacques Le Cube on Facebook? I'd do it, but I don't think I'm cool enough.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Listen to the new Spoon album, "Transference."


As I write this, I'm currently streaming the new Spoon album from NPR's website. So I can't really state an opinion on it just yet, I can say that it's so damn exciting to hear new music from these guys. It's been too long.

Whoever writes the e-newsletters for the band says that this album made front man Brit Daniel's mom worry that they were getting "too metal." Let's see if I share her concern...

Unlikely.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Avatar


From the trailer, Avatar looked like a film I'd be fine with skipping entirely. I'm not a fan of motion-capture, and I don't always want topical parables in my sci-fi. Of course, there are always exceptions: Gollum is some damn fine motion-capture, and Enemy Mine is so epic I have to admire it. Additionally, James Cameron knows what he's doing and put fifteen years of his life into this thing. Add to that the geeky and gleeful squawkings I'd heard around the office about this being "the pinnacle of 3D technology, man!" and I decided to give it a go.

My coworkers were dead on. The 3D is jaw-droppingly better than anything else I'd seen before. That alone makes this film worth seeing while it's still in theaters.

There's tons of impressive stuff in this film: tightly choreographed fight sequences, stunningly rich environments, and funky alien beasts with multiple pairs of eyes and legs. Cameron went to the Weta Workshop for all his special effects and creature needs, and those guys are truly modern monster masters (as they proved recently with District 9). I think they're beating out Industrial Light and Magic for quality, although apparently ILM lent a hand here and there.

But for all the computer wizardry, there was some stuff that I personally found flat-out unappealing. It was weird to see gorgeous landscapes like the floating mountains in one scene, and then see the garishly-colored jungle night shots in another, which to me resembled the cheesy sci-fi art you'd find airbrushed on the side of a van. Maybe I'm just old-fashioned, or there are some realms of sci-fi that I can't jive with.

I guess I should talk about the story, but it was never the driving force of my viewing experience. It's pretty predictable stuff, especially if you've ever seen Fern Gully. But familiar stories can still be retold well, and Cameron takes extra care in setting up every detail at all the right moments, ensuring a smooth journey for the audience. We know Jake's gonna ride that flying red lizard the first moment we hear it's impossible, and we know he's gonna duke it out with Sergent Bush-isms the moment we see him flexing in one of those Alien-style body suits. This might be what's keeping the film "very good" status instead of ascending to "fucking great," but it never stops being enjoyable.

Apparently there are two sequels in the works, so there's plenty of room for these movies to break out of the predictable. I heard that Cameron always intended to make a trilogy, but a part of me wonders if the studio said "we put $500 million into this thing, you're damn right we're using it all again!"
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Random tidbits:

- Avatar shares a surprising amount of traits with Delgo, which bombed harder than any other animated film in history. Seriously, it's uncanny.

- NPR has a great interview with Cameron, in which he really flexes his nerd muscles. Is "nerd muscles" an oxymoron?

- I really hope I See You blows up like "My Heart Will Go On." Or at least some hot nasty club remixes?

- At the showing I attended, the audience was verbally squeamish and generally not down with the love-making scene. Was it due to the 3D? The blue and elongated bodies? I dunno, but it showed that no matter how impressive CG gets, it'll always be harder to accept than real humans interacting. Especially when passionately touching. UPDATE: The actual sex scene will be on the DVD.