Thursday, June 28, 2012

100 Movies That Make Me Love Film: 75. Superbad

Every Thursday I try to Discuss one of the movies that Make me love Film

There’s a handful of movies that summed up high school perfectly. While we all love The Breakfast Club and other John Hughes movies yes it covers the angst but none of the characters talk and act like a high schooler. I know for me American Pie was the first film I saw that made me go, this is how teenagers talk. Sadly immediately after that the films would collapse back into the same formulaic and none relatable films as before. Then came Superbad.
Superbad was written by high school students (although not made until they were in their mid-20s). The film summed up my boring single high school experiences. Evan and Seth have crushes but never make a move, they spend most of their time in the basement watching movies (porn) and trying to feel more grown up and mature than their classmates.
That was me in high school to a T. I was a nerdy that had no care towards my classmates and spent time with my self-proclaimed nerd-herd. The only difference is that my group of friends (a) never got invited to parties and (b) drink.
Superbad was written by high school friends Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. When Rogen started working Judd Apatow on TV shows like Freaks & Geeks and Undeclared. They have been working on the project since 2001 but didn’t come out until 2007. The film is inspired by Evan and Seth’s real life high school experiences (hence the character’s names). 
The two outcasts (and their friend McLovin) are invited to a party under the guise that they can provide the beer. Using McLovin’s fake ID they attempt to buy alcohol until an armed robbery messes everything up. It expands into an adventure between the two friends trying to find booze as well as dealing with their own issues.
The film is simple story that leads to a smart and funny teen film. It’s a must-see for any high schooler or kids who had less than fantastic high school experiences.

Matt Kelly can also be found hosting The Saint Mort Show, Co-hosting the Reddit Horror Club Podcast, Writing for Geekscape,Tweeting and running Dollar Monday Promotions

<--- 76. Reservior Dogs

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

100 Albums That Make Me Love Music: 75. Billy Joel - The Stranger

Every Tuesday I discuss one of the 100 Albums That Make me Love Music

I love the way radio was done in 70’s. There was no music videos and no cared about singles. DJs seemed to just play whatever song they liked. It seems like because of that you had records like Boston’s self titled record and Meat Loaf’s Bat out of Hell where partially every song was a well known hit. Billy Joel’s The Stranger is no different. The average person will known 6 or 7 of the albums 9 songs, by that standard alone it’s Billy Joel’s most successful record.

My favorite book of all time is Sex Drugs and Cocoa Puffs which is a collection of essays by Chuck Klosterman. In that book there’s an essay about Billy Joel (specifically his Glass Houses album). He proposes that the reason everyone loves Billy Joel is because he’s so uncool that he becomes cool (but never in an ironic way) and also because all of his hit singles while cheery have an underlying sadness to them.
The Stranger is no exception. Songs like Moving Out and the titular song all create a fantastic world filled with sadness, failed love and working hard for every penny. However there’s two songs that stand out more than anything else on the album (in my book), Vienna and Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.

Vienna is the prettiest song Billy Joel has ever written. This is a controversial statement if I’ve ever made one. I mean I’m discussing an album that also has She’s Always a Woman and Just the Way You Are. They are great songs, don’t get me wrong, but Vienna has one of the best melodies in Joel’s career (ranked along with Piano Man and For the Longest Time) as well as simply gorgeous lyrics. The opening line ‘Slow down you crazy child, you’re so ambeous for a juvenile’ is as simple as songwriting gets, but it sticks with you. That’s a sign of perfect songwriting.
Then you have Scenes from an Italian Restaurant. You could write a whole movie based off this song. Joel paints us a picture of a friendly Italian Restaurant where everyone knows your name (almost like Cheers fucked Olive Garden). After he’s described the settings, we learn about the people who frequently attend this restaurant (specifically Brenda and Eddie). B & E are two young kids who get married fresh out of high school despite everyone telling them it’s an awful idea. Eventually they break up. I think that the message in Joel’s negative vision of love is that no relationship is perfect and unbreakable.
I recall a night a few years ago when my roommate and I argued with a girl about the message of the song. More so who’s fault was the break up. My roommate and I said Brenda’s life was too expensive and that’s why they broke up while the girl felt like Eddie wasn’t working hard enough to pay for his girl. Clearly the song runs deep enough that it has people divided.
More than almost any other Joel album, The Stranger shows how Billy Joel is simply a more accessible Randy Newman.

Matt Kelly can also be found hosting The Saint Mort Show, Co-hosting the Reddit Horror Club Podcast, Writing for Geekscape,Tweeting and running Dollar Monday Promotions

Thursday, June 21, 2012

100 Movies that Make Me Love Film: 76. Reservior Dogs

Every Thursday I Discuss one of the movies that makes me love film

“’Like a Virgin’ is all about a girl who digs a guy with a big dick.” That is the sentence that introduced the world to Quentin Tarantino. Even more surreal is it being said by a bunch of conmen in matching black suits and ties sitting in a diner. These men discuss Madonna and tipping and then finally they leave the diner. 
A sudden jump cut later we see Mr. White (Harvey Keitel) driving a car and in the back is Mr. Orange (Tim Roth) bleeding from a gunshot wound to the abdomen. They arrive at a warehouse, the rendezvous point for the clearly blotched jewel heist. Mr. Pink (Steve Buschemi) shows up shortly after them convinced that one of them is a rat.
Suddenly a flashback reveals Mr. White’s long-time friendship with Joe Cabot, the gangster who organized the heist. 
Back in the Warehouse Pink and White discuss the actions of the clearly psychopathic Mr. Blonde (Micahel Madden) who murdered several civilians. White is angry that Joe would put someone so crazy on the job. Then they begin to argue over if they should take Orange to a hospital. Mr. Blonde comes out of the shadows and tells them that they should all stay point until Joe’s son, Nice Guy Eddie (Chris Penn) arrives. He also takes them outside and shows them police officer he’s kidnapped and held hostage.
Another sudden flash back reveals Mr. Blonde as a long time friend of Eddie and Joe. He did four years in prison for them but returned to their services immediately after being released.
Eddie arrives in a fury but is pleased to hear that Mr. Pink managed to get the diamonds. Eddie tells Pink & White to go with him to retrive the diamonds and tells Blonde to stay with the cop and the dying Orange. Immediately after the men leave Blonde begins to torture the police officer by dancing to a song on the radio, cutting off the officer’s ear and then pouring gasoline on him with intentions of setting him on fire. His plan is cut short though when he is shot and killed by Mr. Orange.
Orange reveals he is an undercover cop and through a series of flashbacks we see the planning of the heist, the receving of code-names and how Orange was shot.
White, Pink and Eddie return to the warehouse to find Blonde dead. Orange claims that Blonde was going to kill the cop, then him and then all three of them and take the jewels. Eddie doesn’t buy it and immediately shots the cop. Joe shows up shortly afterwards and immediately accuses Orange of being an informant. White defends Orange and eventually they all end up in a Mexican standoff. They all fire their guns killing Joe and Eddie and mortally wounding White. Mr. Pink grabs the jewels and makes a run for it while White goes to comfort his friend Orange.
Orange reveals to White that he is in fact an undercover cop. White begins to cry and then pulls out a gun and points it at Orange’s head. Police enter the warehouse just as White kills Orange causing the police to fire and kill White.
In the first 15 minutes with the opening conversation and the slow-motion walk (call it a Scorsese rip-off or homage which each you choose) let an entire generation know what Tarantino was all about. It didn’t take long to realize that he’s a great dialogue writer, knows how to set up a shot and knows his shit about Pop Culture
Tarantino helps give us iconic characters each with their own personalities despite them dressing the same. Steve Buschemi in one of his greatest performance gives us Mr. Pink easily the one most memorable character in movie (second only to Mr. Blonde).  Mr. Pink is smart, sarcastic and angry, he always thinks of things in the big picture and as he stated multiple times throughout the movie, he’s a fucking professional. Mr. Blonde however is a dangerous psychopath, he loves to torture people but even more disturbing is the calm way he carries himself. Finally there’s Mr. White, while the whole film is an Anti-hero movie; Mr. White is the definition of anti-hero, he’s a thief and a murder but yet he’s so damn cool you want to hang out with him yourself.
Reservoir Dogs was made on a very modest budget forcing Tarantino to utilize the power of less is more (something he does utilize nearly as much now). Due to the low budget the film place off almost like the Jewel Heist version of 12 Angry Men. Over half the movie is inside the warehouse. More interestingly though is that it’s a jewel heist movie where we see everything except that actual heist. We see the planning and the aftermath but that’s it. And we only see those things through flashbacks.
You can’t talk about this film without brining up the infamous ear-cutting scene, which I horrifying but is made much worse by not showings us as much as it could. It’s dark and horrible but at the same time, you find yourself laughing. That’s one of the biggest Tarantino gifts. He has a gift of creating the darkest of dark humor, something he only perfected in his follow up Pulp Fiction
Pulp Fiction is his masterpiece, but it’s not a perfect movie… Reservoir Dogs is as perfect as it gets.

When he’s not watching Rock and Roll Musicals Matt Kelly is hosting The Saint Mort Show, Co-hosting the Reddit Horror Club Podcast, Writing for Geekscape,Tweeting and running Dollar Monday Promotions
<----- 77. The Baxter
75. Superbad ------>

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

100 Albums That Made Me Love Music: 76. Boys Nights Out - Trainwreck

Every Tuesday I discuss one of the 100 Albums That Make Me Love Music

I was meeting up with my friend Ryan for lunch. After lunch he asked if I wanted to run to the record store across the street from the Sports bar we were at because he wanted to pick up the new Early November album. In his car he was listening to Boys Night Out: Trainwreck and about 2 minutes into Dreaming I decided I was going to buy this CD. And I did right then and there while he was picking up Early November.
This second album is a bizarre concept album (far more tight knit then most concept albums) telling a story of a Doctor and his weird patient. The doctor talks about how the patient in a violent nightmare killed his sleeping wife next to him and it put him in a catatonic state. He’s been released from the hospital though in a state of Non-responsiveness.
The next track takes us back to the night in which the patient killed his wife and immediately followed by Waking where the Patient wakes up and realizes what he’s done. He’s sent to court and the judge and doctors most decide if he should be put in jail for murder or hospitalized. Eventually he’s sent to the hospital where he begs the doctor to let him go (Doctor! Doctor! What am I in for? Can’t you see that I don’t need this place? I don’t need these walls! I’m not threat at all). The Doctor agrees and releases him (Doctor I can’t thank you enough! Doctor You regret this!).
This is where the album really turns dark. On Purging the Patient has to deal with people are shocked/scared by how quickly he was released based on what he did. In order to avoid killing again the Patient cuts off his own hands. On Relapsing the Patient is haunted by his wife’s voice and begins mentally writing a song in order to stay sane. The Patient begins taking more and more doses of medication and painkillers in order to shut out the entire world (except the song in his head).


The Patient decides that he must compose the song by killing more people. He convinces the doctor he needs to see his friends and family to recover and then poisons them all. After he’s killed everyone his wife’s voice tells him that he can’t see her until he kills the Doctor and then himself. He calls the Doctor with the intention of killing him but The Doctor finds The Patient slumped up against the wall with an infection from cutting off his hands going all the way up his body, as the Patient dies he sings ‘We Were Inseparable”
I’m a big fan of concept albums in general but this is probably my favorite concept album. It’s so dark and the story can easily be followed by the lyrics and narration. It creates such a horrific imagery throughout, but unlike many other concept albums it never allows the concept to stop the songs from being super catchy. 
Relapsing is one of the catchiest choruses I’ve ever heard. With it’s haunting female vocals for the chorus. Beyond the horrifying aspects of the albums story it still manages to be really sympathetic to it’s main character The Patient where you feel bad for him more than hatred.

I never got into other Boys Night Out records perhaps because this has continued to haunt my CD player since the day I bought it.

When he’s not watching Rock and Roll Musicals Matt Kelly is hosting The Saint Mort Show, Co-hosting the Reddit Horror Club Podcast, Writing for Geekscape,Tweeting and running Dollar Monday Promotions

<------ 77. Anathallo: Floating World

Thursday, June 14, 2012

100 Movies That Make Me Love Film: 77. The Baxter

Every Thursday I discuss one of the movies that makes me love Film

In 2009 I wrote an article called It’s Suckie Being Duckie (which I rewrote last year). The article was originally written for my editorial column at my college newspaper. Immediately after I wrote the article about three or four different people told me I needed to see the film The Baxter. When I saw the cast (basically a state reunion) I immediately threw it on my netflix queue. 
The Baxter is modern day screwball comedy about Elliot Sherman (Michael Showalter).  Every girl he’s ever been with has left him for their ex-boyfriend only to live happily ever after. He’s currently engaged to the beautiful Caroline Swann (Elizabeth Banks), however her ex-boyfriend Bradley (Justin Theroux) has just returned to town and Elliot’s fears have come to the forefront again. When his friends Ed (Michael Ian Black) and Louis (David Wain) fail to comfort him he opens up to Cecil Mills (Michelle Williams) the quirky but beautiful intern at his work.
The film is the definition of nice guys finish last. Elliot is a good hearted man who is sadly ‘safe’. He constantly loses out to a more dangerous and exciting guy. I can relate to the story for sure.
The film is a brilliant breath of fresh air for romantic comedies. Michael Showalter tapped into his inner Howard Hughes/Frank Capra in the script of this film. It’s beautifully structured around old time humor and Showalter’s background with The State. 
Sadly the Baxter did so poorly in critics and box office that Showalter has since walked away from film only making brief appearances in movies for his friends. Regardless of that, this is the masterpiece of all the films from the State in story, character and structure.

When he’s not watching Rock and Roll Musicals Matt Kelly is hosting The Saint Mort Show, Co-hosting the Reddit Horror Club Podcast, Writing for Geekscape,Tweeting and running Dollar Monday Promotions
<---- 78. Caddyshack

76. Reservoir Dogs ------>

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

100 Albums that Make Me Love Music: 77. Anathallo - Floating World

Every Tuesday I discuss one of the albums that makes me love music 

I will always remember the first time I saw Anathallo live. I was at Purple Door and I had an hour where none of the bands I wanted to see were playing. So I went over to the gallery stage to get some food and sit down and wait for Danielson Familie to play. While sitting there I saw a crowd of kids start forming near the stage. I saw some guys setting up crazy shit on stage and I saw some trombones and trumpets so I thought ‘oh sweet maybe a Ska band is about to play’.
Well a ska band Anathallo certainly was not. Anathallo is one of those genre bending bands that’s difficult to properly define. They are one of those bands that must be seen to believe as most recordings of their music don’t do them justice. The best I can do is post this live video of them for now and pick up from there.
Okay so now you have a rough idea what I mean about this band.
After seeing them live I pre-ordered their next album titled Floating World. I really didn’t know what to expect from it but it turned out to be one of the most interesting indie rock concept albums I’d ever heard.
The first few songs are of no actual context of the story. Regardless they’re incredible songs. While I’m not a huge fan of the opening track Genessaret the next song Hoodwink starts to progress the band into a more fuller sound but they don’t hit their true momentum until By Number

The album has an on going Japanese theme throughout the album beginning with By Number which contains a Japanese Translation of Psalm 139:5 in it’s lyrics. Followed by Dokkoise House (With Face Covered) which is based off Japanese Peasant Songs (as well as closing Track Kasa No Hone)
Then we have the strange element of the concept. There are four songs named Hanasakajiijii on the album. These songs are based off an old Japanese folk story. It tells of a dog that manages to dig up Gold for his owner (Great Wind More Ash). The dog is then kidnapped by the next door neighbor who hopes to also find gold but the dog only digs up slugs so the neighbor kills him (The Angry Neighbor). The dog then returns reincarnated as a terrible hurricane and destroys the neighbors house and kills the cruel neighbor (Floating World).
Band member Andrew Dost later left the band and joined fun. where he found lots of success. Anathallo released one more album before going on an indefinite hiatus. While they have always released fantastic albums Floating World will always be their lovingly crafted masterpiece.

When he’s not watching Rock and Roll Musicals Matt Kelly is hosting The Saint Mort Show, Co-hosting the Reddit Horror Club Podcast, Writing for Geekscape,Tweeting and running Dollar Monday Promotions

Thursday, June 7, 2012

100 Movies That Make Me Love Film: 78. Caddyshack

Every Thursday I discuss one of the movies that make me love film

I used to work at a bookstore at a college. When it wasn’t the beginning or the end of a semester, work was pretty laid back. One day my boss came in and said ‘I was listening to the radio and they were doing a count down of the 10 greatest sports movies as voted by athletes, do you know what was voted number one? I immediately said Caddyshack. My boss was so shocked I got it right on my first guess that he thought I listened to the same radio show. But the simple fact was that it was either going to be that or Major League.
Not only is Caddyshack one of the greatest sports film ever made, it’s also one of the greatest comedies ever written. The film contains amazing improv-ed scenes by Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Murray and Chevy Chase as well as incredible dialogue written by Harold Ramis and Brian Doyle-Murray. 
The film follows Danny Noonan (Michael O’Keefe) a caddy at Bushwood Country Club saving up money to go to college. Ty Webb (Chevy Chase), is the wealthy son of one of the founders. Ty has taken quite a liking to Danny, constantly asking him to caddy for him as well as giving him advice on life and love. Meanwhile the Danny decides to caddy for co-founder Judge Smails (Ted Knight) in hopes of getting a better chance at winning the Caddy College Scholarship. 
The flamboyant real estate tycoon Al Czervik (Rodney Dangerfield) arrives to the country club and immediately becomes a hit with everyone but Smails and a few of is snobby friends  (including Dr. Beeper).
While all this is going on assistant groundskeeper Carl Spackler (Billy Murray) has been given the assignment of catching a gopher that’s been wrecking havoc on the course. 
The film as both 4 plot lines and no plot lines at the exact same time. We follow each character for a few minutes each in a series of vignettes. This makes it easy for us to follow the minimal amount of Danny Noonan’s story while getting the most of Ty Webb, Al Czervik and Carl Spackler. The gopher (the runaway star of the film) is constantly popping up and breaking up the vignettes more smoothly. One could almost argue that Caddyshack is a sketch-comedy film but all the sketches take place in one location with the same re-occurring characters.
All of these Vignettes meet at the climax of the film. Al Czervik is interested in buying Bushwood off Judge Smails and challenges him to a golf game for $20,000. They decide to play teams, Judge taking Dr. Beeper and Al teaming up with Ty. In the end due to a ‘freak injury’, Danny has to finish the game in place of Al (who promises to make it worth his wild if he wins). The game is won by Danny not because of a great final shot but because Carl accidentally blows up half the course trying to exterminate the Gopher. The explosion causes that ball to roll into the hole.
The first time I saw Caddyshack I was way too young to see Caddyshack. But alas it’s one of my dad’s all time favorite films and he couldn’t wait to share it with me. Much like anyone else who saw this film when they were too young to see it, the things the remember the most are the Gopher and Rodney Dangerfield. Actually... now that I’m thinking about it, I remember the exact circumstances that lead to my dad showing me this movie. 
I was in elementary school and my parents were flipping through the channels. They caught the ending of Caddyshack on television and figured I’d enjoy the dancing gopher (they were right). My dad decided that it was time to show me all of Caddyshack. Keep in mind that my father also rented a group of 5th grade boys Heaven Help Us, Porky’s and Hollywood Knights for a birthday sleepover.
I liked Caddyshack right off the bat, but it wasn’t until I was in High School I that I truly learned to love it. When you’re young, Rodney Dangerfield and Bill Murray steal the show. As you grow up and you start paying attention to the dialogue you start to realize how incredible Chevy Chase is. It was in discovering Chevy Chase’s brilliance that lead me to dig up Vacation, Fletch and other Chase 80’s classics.
All the credit can’t be given to Chevy Chase though, Harold Ramis is one of the best writers of the 80’s. If that wasn’t obvious enough with the early inclusion of Ghostbusters. It contains such one-liners as ‘Thank you very little’, and ‘A Flute without holes is not a flute. A donut without holes, is a Danish.’ However the most classic moments of Caddyshack are the improvised things like Cinderella Story, Carl and Ty smoking pot in Carl’s shack and damn near every line of dialogue spoken by Rodney Dangerfield.
1980 started off strong with Caddyshack and set the comedy bar pretty high. Apparently 77 films set it higher in my opinion.

tweet. I run DollarMondayPromotions. I write for (check out my guilty pleasure on Alien 3). And I host 2 podcasts (Saint Mort Show andReddit Horror Club)

<---- 79. Shaun of the Dead
77.  The Baxter ------> 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

100 Albums That Make Me Love Music: 78 - Calibretto 13: Adventures in Tokyo

Every Tuesday I discuss one of the 100 Albums that Make Me love Music

I always mention how certain albums were like nothing I’d ever heard before or how the bands are the type that make you want to go out and form a band. I’ll probably continue to use these catch phrases but in the case of Calibretto it’s the most truthful statement.
As I’ve established multiple times in the past I was a bit of a Jesus Freak in high school. Most of my music was found through 5 Minute Walk, Tooth & Nail and BEC recordings comps. The best of these comps were Tooth & Nail’s Songs from the Penalty Box albums and a one shot called “Safety First”. I’ll never forget when Reese purchased Safety First and we listened to it in the car. We heard old familiar groups like Relient K and John Reuben, discovered bands like twothirtyeight, Further seems forever and Juliana Theory but the song that really grabbed our attention was Calibretto 13’s High Five.

It was punk music. Like real punk. It was dirty and raw and the guy couldn’t really sing that well. The only difference was that it was with acoustic guitars. It was a few years before I realized they were basically a christian version of Violent Femmes (which themselves were sort of a christian band, or at least the album Hollow Ground is). I found out they were going to be playing Creation Festival that year and I got excited to see them live. To hell with all the other artists, I want to see Calibretto.

They were amazing live. I immediately went to their tent and bought two of the three albums they had available (I really wish I had picked up all 3 though because From the Secret Files of the Danger Brigade continues to be a hard-to-find record for me). Unlike other christian artists I listened to, these guys had their own sound (again the Femmes sound) but they didn’t seem to give a fuck about how the audience saw them. They were crude, they spoke out against religions and churches, they called people sheep. It was really different than what I had seen previously. 

Their masterpiece was their 2nd major label release Adventures in Tokyo. The first 4 songs the band powers through quick questioning why they’ll never be on MTV, telling the devil to go to hell and addressing the “sheep of America”.  However the brilliant (and ballsy side) of Calibretto comes out in track 5 From Me to You. Our song’s narrator asks why should they be a christian if you’re a hypocrite, racist, homophobic and depressed. They touch on a similar topic later on with I’ll Talk To You Tomorrow.
My favorite track was The Proposal which is a musical version of lead singer Joe Whiteford’s proposal to his wife. The song is just a fun catchy little love song which Joe would prove to be quite good at writing in Calibretto’s last two EPs Dead By Dawn and All These Things Do Not Belong
So why did this band change my life more than any band? Well they were the reason that the last band I was in broke up. Suddenly I heard the music I wanted to be playing. I eventually branched out on my own doing acoustic solo music under the name Saint Mort. While I get comparisons to Weird Al and Violent Femmes, the biggest influence on my music will always be Calibretto.

Joe Whiteford quit the band (thus ending them) and formed Harley Poe which followed in the vein of their last two EPs of focusing more on horror. He also started to incorporate non-Calibretto things like talking about sex, drugs and cursing more in songs. Their debut album In the Dark is a fantastic piece of acoustic-punk music in it’s own right. But it’ll never get as good as Calibretto 13: Adventures in Tokyo

I tweet. I run DollarMondayPromotions. I write for (check out my guilty pleasure on Alien 3). And I host 2 podcasts (Saint Mort Show and Reddit Horror Club)

<--- 79. Brand New: Your Favorite Weapon