Thursday, September 27, 2012

100 Movies That Make Me Love FIlm: 62. Donnie Darko


I rented Donnie Darko on a recommendation of a friend. I watched it with my 2nd girlfriend one night. It was actually a double feature with Rules of Attraction (as mentioned previously). We were completely captivated by the film’s bizarre imagery and beautiful ending.

Since I try to keep my write ups spoiler free this is going to be a weird movie to write about it. The film is definitely something to discuss but mostly based on the ending which lends itself to multiple interruptions. Too keep things relatively spoiler free I’ll just say that Donnie Darko is a time-travel film about personal sacrifice as well as one person’s influence on society as a whole.

Richard Kelly exploded across the indie film circuit with this movie, however as his career as continued to be disappointing (to say the least) you almost have to wander was this a fluke?

The answer is yes and no. If you watch the director’s cut which contains multiple extra scenes that basically say “aliens did it” you realize the real star of this movie was the editor.

Donnie Darko works the less that you know. Too much information kills the film and Richard Kelly loves to put too much information in all of his films. 

Regardless of the failings of some of Kelly’s future films he taps into some great messages (specifically regarding the school’s english teachers) and has some great Kevin Smith-y dialogue moments (The Smurfs comes to mind)

If you’ve never seen the film, it’s worth examining but avoid the director’s cut until you’ve seen the original. Even then I’d recommend avoiding it unless you’re INSANELY curious about what Kelly was “trying” to say.

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.

<-------- a="a" href="">63

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

100 Albums That Make Me Love Music: 62. Eminem - Marshall Mathers LP

Eminem is a weird artist. You see the fact of the matter is I hate Marshall Mathers as a person. Lyrically it’s hard for me to really believe that he’s playing a character. Which means either he’s an incredible personality or a disturbed human being. Whatever it is, it helped him to create some of the best rap albums in history.

He exploded into the music scene with My Name Is... but he achieved his critical and creative peak with the follow up album Marshall Mathers LP. While Slim Shady LP has an autobiographical aspect to it, it’s definitely a party album. Marshall Mathers LP however is more aggressive, violent and personal. 

Right off the bat Eminem kicks off with Kill You where Eminem attacks all of his critics (as well as Kim, His Mother and his fans). He attacks all of these people again in Who Know (the best song on the album), The Way I Am (one of the last songs added to the record) and Kim (probably the most disturbing rap song in history). 

Stan was a huge single off the record and is arguably his most creative and sincere song. In the song he plays both himself as well as his biggest fan Stan. Stan believes all of the lyrics on Shady’s records and tries to be just like him. Meanwhile Shady responds (sadly too late) to tell him that he’s not the person who pretends to be on the record. The song also is built around a bizarre sample of Dido’s song “Thank You” (specifically the opening verse). It was one of the more strange collaborations (made even more strange when performed by Elton John at the Grammys).

The goofy party songs still exist on this record though. Songs like Real Slim Shady, Under The Influence and Remember Me just offer the good old fashion vulgar funny lyrics. The later contains lyrics like “When I got out I’m gonna go out shooting/Not when I do when I got to the club stupid” while on Under the Influence D12 member Bizarre raps “I’ll fuck anything when I’m snort/It’s going to cost $300 to get my pitbull an abortion”. 

The album as a whole an interesting examination on split personalities, dealing with fame and having your entire life in the spotlight. Whether Marshall has violent tendencies and anger issues is up to the listener and doesn’t really change the fact that this album is a true experience to listen to.

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.

<------ 63

Thursday, September 20, 2012

100 Movies That Make Me Love Film: 63. It Happened One Night

It’s hard to discuss this movie and not mention that this was the first Oscar Grand Slam. It won best picture, actor, actress, director and screenplay and with good reason. If you love Romantic Comedies, this is the must-see film that in my mind truly started it all. Sure romantic comedies had existed for years previously but this film proved it can be an art form. Previously films focused on the romance more than anything else while It Happened One Night managed to create a completely new subgenre, the Screwball comedy.

It happened one night created most of the troupes you see in romantic comedies today. A smooth and selfish guy and the prude girl who hates him. The two get trapped in a situation together and slowly fall in love. The film as practically remade in the 1980s in Rob Reiner’s The Sure Thing.

Frank Capra directed this film in 1934, while most of the stars didn’t think it’d do well at all audiences were charmed by the chemistry and comedy of stars Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable as well as as the humor is Robert Riskin’s script. The film was written more like the risky plays you’d find in New York than a typical hollywood film. It discusses sex in an open nature for it’s time (as the MPAA began the Hays Code the same year).

Spoiled heiress Ellie marries King Westley against the wishes of her rich father. So he has the marriage annulled. This causes Ellie to runaway. Meanwhile down and out Newspaper Reporter Peter recognizes Ellie and promises to help her get to Westley under the condition he gets the exclusive.

What starts off as a relationship of blackmail and hatred grows slowly blooms into love. The transformation feels natural and genuine (something I can’t say about many of the modern rom-coms).

This film represents everything I love and miss about the Screwball genre. The dialogue is quick and smart, packed with puns, one-liners and plenty of hidden raunchiness. If you’ve never seen this film but love romantic comedies this is a must see for you.

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.

<------- 64

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

100 Albums That Make Me Love Music: 63. Atmosphere - GodLovesUgly

I remember one day in high school I was getting ready for school (I believe it was my senior year) when I caught a music video on MTV. It was for Trying to Find a Balance by Atmosphere. It wasn’t like the rap I was used to hearing, it didn’t seem nearly as violent and angry as the rap I typically heard on MTV. To be honest it almost seemed more ‘woe is me’ but in a poetic way.

A few months later I saw the album on sale and picked it up. I definitely enjoyed the lyrical style, slug’s rhymes and the unique beats. I asked a friend of mine if he was familiar of Atmosphere and he recommended that I check out his other albums specifically Lucy Ford and GodLovesUgly.

Both records are hip-hop masterpieces, but I hold Godlovesugly a little higher on my respect level. Ant’s beats are at his most unique at this point (including songs like The Bass And The Movement whose beat actually sounds like someone getting beat up). However what I truly love about this record is Slug’s lyrics, he really pours his heart out on the record and never fears about not coming off as ‘hard’.

Lines like “I got my mind on my tummy and my tummy on my mind” (Give Me) or “Dear mom, I promise I’m going to be large/One day Imma to stop trying to borrow your car” (godlovesugly) have the right mix of self deprication and sincerity to make it work. However the star of the show is Fuck You Lucy

This song’s title gives you a general idea that this is going to be a completely different song. Instead of an angry fueled revenge anything you get the most sincere break-up song in hip-hop history. 

Slug perfectly discusses the genuine emotions one goes through losing a girl that they loved deeply. He’s angry at her for “defining my existence” and “her differences”. The song draws the image of a man not doing well with his break-up. While other rappers write a song about moving on and fucking random girls, or plotting revenge (even murder in some songs) Slug can’t continue his life without Lucy. The most powerful line being “I want to scream Fuck You Lucy/But the problem is I love you Lucy”.

Slug has said that Lucy isn’t a specific person but more an idea. A combination of various past girlfriends, drug addiction and anything else that you allow to control your life. That lyric when applied to it being about drug and alcohol addiction makes the song have multiple layers. Earlier in the song he even screams “I wanna scream fuck you, because I still love you/No I’m not okay and I don’t know what to do”.

On the Lucy Ford album you find the song It Goes which contains the lyrics “I think my fans know me better than my friends do/ because my friends never paid that much attention/The fans memorize every single sentence/Which makes them far to smart to ever start a friendship”. With songs like Fuck You Lucy... I think I’m the same way. But I do want to give him a hug.

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, September 13, 2012

100 Movies That Make Me Love Film: 64. Before Sunrise

I can’t remember why I saw this movie. I know it was based on a recommendation, possibly from a book. If I had to just randomly guess what inspired it I’d say it came from something Chuck Klosterman may or may not have written in one of his books. 

Anyway Before Sunrise follows Jesse, an american on vacation and Celine a young french girl who meet on a train and wander the streets of Vienna all night long talking about philosophy, life, literature and much more.

That single paragraph is literally the entire plot summary. I could get in depth about every place they visited and everything they said but that’d be a waste of time and it’d also spoil elements of the movie for those who have not seen it.  As you can tell this is going to be a relatively short write up.

I love this movie, it feels like a Woody Allen film but without the neurotic characters and the random non-linear storytelling (not that I don’t love those elements in his films). The conversations all feel natural and I think that this is always Richard Linklater’s best films, when he’s making something like Slacker, Waking Life or even the sequel Before Sunset it allows his ear for dialogue to truly shine where films like Bad News Bears and School of Rock end up just feeling mediocre.

This is also my favorite performances from both Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. I always liked to believe that 2 Days in Paris follows Celine 10 years after Before Sunset with her new boyfriend.

For fans of dialogue heavy indie films this is a must see.

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.

<---- 65

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

100 Albums That Make Me Love Music: 64. Clerks Soundtrack

Clerks was one of the most important movies in my life. The second I saw it I knew the kind of filmmaker I wanted to be. It’s also one those rare films where when I listen to the soundtrack I immediately remember the exact scene that the songs went with. It’s reasons like that which make me love the Clerks soundtrack so much.

Much like other 90’s films like Singles and Empire Records the soundtrack to Clerks oozes 90’s nostalgia. It contains bands like Soul Asylum, Alice in Chains and The Jesus Lizard who really only could have existed in the days of grunge as well as Punk sounds of Bad Religion and Corrosion of Conformity and Supernova and plenty of clips from movie (an element of soundtracks that rarely happens anymore).

Unsigned Jersey band Love Among Freaks provided two of the three best tracks the titular opening credits song Clerks and the hilariously broken english metal song Berserker.  Stabbing Westwards techno remix of Violent Mood Swings however is the stand-out track of the album (and also part of the most memorable moment in the film). 

I will always love this album as a time capsle of one of my all time favorite movies. I know the words to every song and know the film line for line. I wish they made soundtracks like this still.

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.

<------- 65

Thursday, September 6, 2012

100 Movies That Make Me Love Film: 65. Texas Chainsaw Massacre

There’s this weird thing in our society where certain aspects of our popular culture seem to be known from birth. Before I ever watched a single horror movie I knew of Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers and Leatherface. I can’t for the life of me tell you why I knew these things, perhaps commercials for the various sequels while I was growing up in front of a TV, maybe an older cousin or neighbor talking about them or maybe it was just so engraved in our culture now that we’re born with that knowledge. Either way, I’ve always heard how scary Texas Chainsaw Massacre was so when I had a birthday party/sleepover one year in Elementary school, I rented it.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre was a movie I hated when I watched it. I found the movie boring, slow and lacked any gore to keep me entertained. However I did watch the last 5 minutes of the movie multiple times before returning the VHS tape. After all the years of hype (keep in mind I couldn’t have been older than 12) and the demented box-covers I had seen for this movie it was INSANELY tame. 

Then one day when I was in high school, I bought it for 5 bucks at a blockbuster sale. I watched it Halloween night (I believe it was my senior year, possibly my junior year) and it was like watching an entirely different film. With the lights out, sitting all alone in my house... the movie had an entirely new level of fright. From the opening narration and the quick shots of a rotting corpses to the final shot of Leatherface doing the ‘chainsaw dance’ I could not take my eyes off the screen.

The plot is simple enough. Someone in Texas is digging up corpses and putting them on a weird display. A brother and sister decide to check on their grandfather’s corpse and stop by his old house. They also bring some friends with them.

When they arrive at the house they are killed off one by one by Leatherface and his demented family of cannibals. The final girl escapes the horrible experience with her sanity literally almost gone.

There’s a few things that really make this movie work. First of all, the low budget. Like many horror movies from the 70’s the best ones are the low budget ones. This isn’t particularly because ‘Indie is better’ and ‘fuck the system’ (like today) but because the lower the budget the grittier the film. Texas Chainsaw Massacre plays out like a documentary more than horror movie. Everything looks and feels like it was shot on someone’s home camera. 

Beyond that the low budget meant no budget for special effects. The nightmarish shooting schedule has been well documented. Rotted animal carcasses stank up the set, the fake blood was making everyone sticky and many actors bled for real. At any given moment this low budget horror film could have turned into a high budget snuff film.

Now despite all the praise I give for the low-budge quality, the top quality editing also makes the films terror level extra high. Close-ups of eyeballs, veins, mouths and the random decorations of the house really give you the feeling of chaos

Finally Marilyn Burns’ performance of Sally makes you love her character and genuinely feel for her as she rides off in someone’s truck at the end of the film. Her terrified/excited cackle leaves you wondering if it’s a good thing that she survived. How can she function in life after the ordeal she was just through? It’s the layers of terror that makes this film a classic, something the 2003 remake can’t come close to achieving.

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.

<---- 66

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

100 Albums That Make Me Love Music: 65. Socratic - Lunch for the Sky

The first time I heard of Socratic was probably on a Drive-Thru Comp. Possibly the same one that i mentioned in the Hellogoodbye Write up. The song was I Am The Doctor. I thought it was different and I enjoyed it enough but I wasn’t sold on the band. A few months later however I heard the song Lunch For the Sky on a comp and my desire to learn more about this band increased ten-fold.

Ben Folds once described Ben Folds Five as Punk Rock for Wimps. I think that’s an accurate description for them, I’d say in the same vein Socratic is Punk Rock for Intellectuals. Socratic writes songs that sound like they could belong in books. They also pick fights with other genres in a nerdy kind of away. Let’s take a look at the first song (with lyrics anyway) Alexandria as our Lens where he calls out Screamo and Hardcore with the lyrics “Hey All you screamo/What’s the deal/When any talent you lack/Is covered up by the fact/that you can scream really loud?”

Duane F Okun (guitarist/Vocalist) has singing style that’s very similar to Ace Enders of Early November. The group using piano heavy sounds throughout but unlike some bands that incorporate piano, it never sounds gimmicky. The Piano is the star of the show, but it also fits the music. It’s obvious Socratic was going out to create punk music equal to the epic rock operas you’d heard on FM radio in the 70’s. It’s because of this the album is so catchy. Songs like Tear a Gash and I Am The Doctor are all about melody. 

However the standout track to me is still the title track. Duane’s lyrics and melody mixed with a PERFECT usage of back-up vocals created a song that just feels inspiration. What does it mean when they sing “All We Are Is Lunch for the Sky”? I have no clue but damn it if when I hear it I think “Yes, Yes We Are”.

Every song should be a hit sing-along song but sadly Drive-Thru Records didn’t give the band the push they deserved. Luckily the band is still alive and kicking so check them out and go see them on tour sometime.

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.

<------ 66