October 4, 2015



Sicario is some beautiful bullshit. Sumptuous cinematography abounds and yet I cannot glean the point of this film beyond a simple display of badass moments. There is a view taken by quite a few critics that Sicario is a blunt presentation of the marginalization of women and minorities involving issues, in this case the drug war. And it is, sure, but it is not much of a critique. Emily Blunt’s character Kate Mercer is set up as our audience surrogate but then pushed out and left standing on the sidelines at every moment. Literally every moment! Kate is devoid of agency every step of the way and yet she keeps coming back because the screenplay demands it. When the film shifts focus in the late third and follows Alejandro (Benecio Del Toro) on his one man plantation raid, Sicario has fully abandoned any sense of lesson or sly allegory and has decided to just be “fucking badass”. Showing us unrelated scenes of a random corrupt cop only to quickly dispatch him feels like a hollow afterthought. Do we really get the corruption and wrongheadedness of the operation? Sorta, but the film doesn’t even add up, if you consider that everything that has happened was done by the government for Alejandro because, why? They owed him a favor? The man-hours and effort involved does not seem worth it. Maybe that is the point. But Kate pointing her gun off the balcony feels like a weak feint at meaning.

Music, September 2015

October 3, 2015


What a Time To Be Alive by Drake & Future

Future is on a roll. Drake is on a roll. This album is just coasting but it doesn’t feel halfassed. It doesn’t sound like Drake and Future collaborated on themes but the beats are good to great across the board and “Big Rings” is fire. Drake is referring to this and If You’re Reading This Its Too Late as mixtapes and not official albums, citing (paraphrasing)”a lack of cohesion and quality” that his regular albums supposedly display. I think they’re about equal, and neither of these recordings have nearly as much filler as Take Care.

Every Open Eye by Chvrches

Better than their first one. Still can’t figure out why they let that guy sing at all. His tracks always sound like a favor and a chore. Unless this guy has shit on you, keep him off the mic! A little too workmanlike at times but these guys are solid.

Rodeo by Travi$ Scott

Too long and flames. Sometimes you are bored but then it heats up and you’re chanting “Travis! Travis!” and you have to find a car to flip. Two stars but also five stars.

Rub by Peaches

I liked I Feel Cream way more. This has a consistent throbbing sound throughout but not enough variation in the beats. Great lyrics though about chicks with dicks.

Music Complete by New Order

Brandon Flowers tries to ruin things but he can’t totally undermine this operation and while most of the songs need an editor, it’s more of a too much of a good thing problem. New Order doesn’t owe us anything so every album is a gift.

Fetty Wap by Fetty Wap

Long album. Every song sounds the same, which is good for business but not for me. I wish him well.

Caracal by Disclosure

I thought Settle was a chore to get through, so Caracal wins just by being more benign. Disclosure have no sense of adventure so there are no surprises, just rehashes of sounds and melodies done better by others. The footwork track “Holding On” might be the laziest song of the year. Also all of the vocal guests are rendered featureless, so money wasted there. Disclosure makes music that sounds like they couldn’t wait to get it done and do anything else.

Zipper Down by Eagles of Death Metal

Love these guys forever, but considering the seven year gap between albums, I was expecting more. Fun but noticeably slight, with 11 tracks consisting of one cover, one interlude, and the lead single a re-recording of a song from the Jesse Hughes solo album. However it does rock, which is a rarity these days. Better than the last Queens album.

Dumblonde by dumblonde

Is Danity Kane the worst thing to ever result in great things? Dawn Richard solo albums, Diddy/Dirty Money, and now dumblonde? Wow, thank you Danity Kane. Adventurous dance-pop production, the vocals often reduced to sound effects or other production trickery, I expect this kind of thing from a J-Pop artist, but not the American Pop Music Industrial Complex. They’re touring tiny clubs right now but they should be ruling the world. “Tender Green Life” one of the best songs of the year.

Photograph by Dirty Vegas

I thought Dirty Vegas would go after that Calvin Harris money after 2011’s surprising Electric Love but they seem to be after the indie set instead. Simple sounds for small rooms. I prefer the big dance moments, which Photograph is lacking.

Black Dollar by Rick Ross

Best thing he’s done since Rich Forever. Still sounds out of breath, but that’s just my personal issue. If you love Ross he is ready to love you back.

HITNRUN Phase One by Prince

This album stinks. Bad songs, bad production, like someone’s dad wearing skinny jeans to a Lady Gaga concert.

Beauty Behind the Madness by The Weeknd

Come for “Can’t Feel My Face” and then quickly leave. Everything else is a wet slog.

Compton by Dr. Dre

There is already a backlast but it sounds great and it fucking knocks. Much of this is the textbook definition of “fire”. We waited a long time and this delivers, and in such big quantities.

Permanence by No Devotion

Much of this sounds like The Guest Soundtrack with more riffs. Pretty great, tell your friends.

Jurassic World

June 22, 2015

Jurassic World

Jurassic World is another mediocre addition to a franchise that is mostly mediocre additions. The worst film in the franchise, Jurassic World doesn’t have any of the original cast, the action is serviceable at best, the sexual politics are abhorrent and retrograde, and the whole thing falls apart if you think about it at all. You literally cannot think about the simple events and actions that occur in Jurassic World without remarking that it is so stupid that it might actually be insulting. Should we be insulted? For all of the riffs and references that pack it’s running time, the filmmakers did not take any of the lessons on tension and release that the first Jurassic Park contained in spades. That is because Jurassic World is busy busy busy. So busy that it doesn’t have time to even be scary. Or have awe for dinosaurs. Characters and dinosaurs know how to do what they do and appear where they appear on the whim of the script, storytelling be damned. At one point someone says to the annoying little kid in the film, “Aren’t you supposed to be a genius?” Who called this kid a genius? His behavior indicates he’s a fucking moron, so I guess his genius moment was cut for time. Raptors are proven to be dangerous and untrainable, but then trainable, but also untrustworthy, but then loyal to the very end. So I guess raptors contain multitudes. Vincent D’Onofrio is a bad guy because he gets in arguments with Chris Pratt, who we know is a good guy because he treats raptors with respect. D’Onofrio’s bad guy plan doesn’t really make sense and at one point he stands on a ledge and looks at everyone being attacked by pterodactyls and smiles. Why does he smile? Nothing he has done indicates that he wants people to die. Does he smile because they needed cinematic shorthand to say “This guy is bad” and couldn’t actually write it into his actions or dialogue? That seems more likely. You may have heard that a minor character is viciously killed during the third act of the film. You guys, this is the most incredible overkill I have seen in a long time. This is the Jurassic Park version of Steven Seagal breaking a guy’s back, gouging out his eyes and throwing him down an elevator shaft. It is disgusting and vile and easily the best part of the movie.

There is one interesting aspect to Jurassic World and that is the strange behavior of the teenage lead character Zach. Zach is your typical dejected and angst filled teen who is being forced to leave his snowy home at Christmas and go to Jurassic World with his dumb brother. We meet him as his girlfriend says goodbye to him out in front of his house. It starts like a tender moment in the first wide shot but when the camera closes in on the actor’s faces you can see that the actress playing the girlfriend is smiling and happy while Zach looks bored and over it. Is he planning to break up with his girlfriend? Is he just a bad actor and unsure how to play the scene? Perhaps they shot the scene a couple of ways and then just fit together the “best” takes? The dad in the scene plays his line like he is breaking up two lovey dovey teens but Zach clearly gives no fucks and is ready to go. Later, Zach is shown briefly starring at a photo his girlfriend has sent of herself holding a sign that says “I Miss U!” Zach’s face doesn’t convey anything in regards to whether he misses her back. But! While waiting in line for the gyroscope ride, Zach makes eye contact with a group of teen girls. They look at Zach and smile and he regards them with confusion. Zach’s face isn’t its usual sullen sag but he seems like he is regarding these girls with a strange detached curiosity, not arousal or lust but something closer to analytical. It is at this moment that his little brother remarks, “You need to actually talk to them, not just stare.” Now, we have firmly established that Zach has a girlfriend back home. It could be he acted dejected around his girlfriend because she is the alpha in the relationship and essentially instigated their union and Zach isn’t sure how to break it off. Or, Zach is aware of his parent’s crumbling relationship and impending divorce (the divorce subplot is there to get the kids to Jurassic World and then it is dropped and never resolved) and he is wondering if only heartbreak awaits him as well. OR, my third theory, Zach is gay. Hear me out.

I have heard firsthand from many gay men that their first relationships in high school were with girls and that even in some cases they had sex with girls before realizing or fully facing their sexual preference for men. Zach has taken on a girlfriend in his cold, snowy midwestern town because that is what you do as a straight teenager. But he doesn’t have any particular feelings toward this girl and he is not sure he even wants to have any feelings for her. When she sends him photos saying how much she misses him, Zach can only reflect that the feeling isn’t mutual. When he sees the girls in line at the park, Zach looks at them hard, trying to will any sort of attraction or feeling for these girls and finds nothing. Yet, the first time Zach breaks from his mopey vibe (besides when his trying not to die while being pursued by dinosaurs) is when he meets Owen, played by Chris Pratt. Zach calls Owen “awesome”, and says he will follow this big, sweaty alpha anywhere he says to go. Of course, like all other subplots in Jurassic World, it is underwritten and never fully explained. I’m pretty sure he’s gay.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

May 2, 2015


We are stuck in a perpetual middle. Never moving forward, always taking glimpses of what will be, and never savoring what simply is. Avengers: Age of Ultron follows up last year’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier by providing incident without resolution because something else has to happen. Still. The end is the beginning. Again and again.

We can argue that the comic book films of the past failed to accurately capture the looks and names and powers of their comic book counterparts, but they managed to be complete works. There is something endearing about just making one movie with all the gusto of “This might be our only shot!” Now that the Marvel films are a self perpetuating success, they can function as an infinite string of incidents, forever building, teasing at a climax that might come someday. Yet, for all of their clues and easter eggs, these films are all made with little need for backstory. Age of Ultron gives little reference to past films beyond an Iron Man hissy fit and some mumbled asides between The Falcon and Captain America, but you’d never know that S.H.I.E.L.D. had been infiltrated by a secret Nazi sub group and it doesn’t even really matter. The end of The Winter Soldier had all of the Helicarriers destroyed or decommissioned and Nick Fury going into hiding. Yet here is Nick Fury, in a helicarrier, saying something about “it was in storage”.

Age of Ultron is in such a hurry to cram incident and character and charm and hints of what is to come that it never catches it’s breath, which is incredible since it’s a two and a half hour movie. The action never settles enough to give much beyond a brief “whoa” before we’re cutting to something else, because there is always something else. In the first five minutes the movie is already hinting at movies three or four years out. Movies that haven’t even been made. I don’t know if we’ve hit the nadir of special effects but everything here looked great yet fake at the same time. There isn’t a single “how did they do that?” moment because the answer is obviously “computers”. Furious 7 isn’t a paragon of reality either but it has it’s toe just slightly dipped in reality so when characters drive their cars off cliffs and out of planes and through buildings it still has an awe to it. Everything moves so fast in AoU that you can’t focus on anything anyway so there isn’t much to want to analyze. Sure, some of it was neat. I’m not a monster.

Moments that are placed for “charm” and “character” deserve the quotation marks because they feel like window dressing at this point. Tony Stark’s charm and smarm, Thor’s god mixing with mortals vibe, Captain America’s man out of time, these are all given their expected lip service but it is perfunctory and stale. Director Joss Whedon has mentioned numerous times in the press that he couldn’t do another one of these movies because he is exhausted, and I can feel that exhaustion. Every quip is labored, like Whedon is screaming “Who cares anymore?” When the characters take time away from conflict to have some conversations and regroup, the film comes to an abrupt halt so everyone can have over-before-they-started debates about what to do next. We know the Avengers aren’t going to give up and it’s frankly boring as shit to have everyone hem and haw around someone’s house. This movie didn’t need to be any longer and yet here we are watching Iron Man and Captain America chop fucking wood! Then Nick Fury appears from behind a pile of haystacks and I thought “Oh good, something might happen.” but Fury just has more speechifying to add to the pile. These scenes all play better than they should because this cast is stacked with A-List top notch talent, but seeing Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo together on screen just reminds you that you could just watch Zodiac again.

One of the big complaints that will forever plague Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel is that it doesn’t have enough scenes(or perhaps any) of Superman rescuing people. Much ink and hand wringing was dealt out lamenting this fact, even though no one actually died because it’s a movie. Sure you could take it as a betrayal of the character, that Superman should be shown saving people. Marvel Studios is in no danger of this kind of backlash because Avengers: Age of Ultron has many many many scenes of people being evacuated. Onto flying evacuation pods, every fake life is spared. While these scenes are there to make the film feel “real” they are repetitive and frankly un-cinematic. It’s a pretty good bet that Snyder probably had some evacuation scenes in the Man of Steel script and he said, “That is some boring shit, cut it and let’s have more collapsing buildings.” No one told him no because Warner Brothers is out of their fucking minds.The first Iron Man felt audacious even if it’s audacity was an accident and has since been subsumed by the franchise, like Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow.  Iron Man 3 came closest to recapturing that spirit, and in the process made some comic fans very angry. Which is good! A film that gets the blood up! Age of Ultron is perfected to offend no one. But I digress. If you want to see people being loaded into vehicles to be flown to safety, Age of Ultron is your bag.

Avengers: Age of Ultron ends with a shrug, with characters leaving nonchalantly and new characters walking in immediately to take their place. The adventures continue but so what? Back to the perpetual middle.

The Academy Awards didn’t nominate The Raid 2

February 22, 2015


Last year I found myself in the surprising position of having viewed most of the films nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards through my own free will, lured only by their marketing campaigns and my general interest. This year when the Academy dropped their nominations I hadn’t even seen half of their choices because the Academy is always fucking up. But I rallied and I watched every damn one of these movies. None is better than The Raid 2. Even the worst of these wasn’t as bad as Jupiter Ascending.

"I just took the most incredible nap."

“I just took the most incredible nap.”

Is Clint Eastwood lazy or incompetent? I ask this since I don’t know myself, and maybe someone who has worked on his films in the last ten years can educate me. American Sniper neither enraged me nor challenged me to think, and instead joined the long list of late era Clint Eastwood directing jobs where the camera just gets propped up in the corner and the acting is wooden and indifferent. Bradley Cooper is actually pretty good but he’s surrounded by a bunch of nothing. The action scenes have no rhythm or intensity and feel half speed. The supporting cast is Gran Torino level skilled, so you have scenes where a soldier learns one of his buddies was killed and he bellows “Fuck!” the same way you or I would when you forgot to buy pretzel bread at the store and have to use regular bread for your sandwiches for lunch all week. I’ve made some noise online about the fake baby in this movie and it fits with the laziness of everything else. There is a baby whine placed over every scene with the infant but it’s so haphazardly applied to the soundtrack that it only draws attention to this fake fake baby. Most importantly, Eastwood doesn’t even make the disgusting, rah rah America “God I love the military” movie that so many places have made this movie out to be. Cooper’s Chris Kyle is clearly tormented by the horrors of war and has some PTSD but he doesn’t at all seem excited to be killing anyone. Instead it just becomes a rotation of Kyle going war, coming back, going back to war, again and again. It’s like the second half of The Hurt Locker, which is the part that no one likes of The Hurt Locker. The best part of the whole movie is when we see that the enemy sniper who has been gunning down American soldiers spends his free time SPINNING BULLETS ON HIS KITCHEN TABLE. This movie couldn have used more of that bullshit.

So when it is seasonally appropriate Inarritu DOESN'T wear a scarf? This fucking guy.

So when it is seasonally appropriate Inarritu DOESN’T wear a scarf? This fucking guy.

I have been more than forthcoming with my thoughts on Birdman. It’s pretentious and masturbatory, it attacks low hanging fruit and strawmen, and it isn’t even funny. People have told me that it isn’t supposed to be funny but tell that to all the marketing that says it’s comedy. I will admit that after sitting through some of these other stinkers, at least Birdman is attempting to be visually compelling, even if that very attempt is another misfire.


Boyhood is wonderful film. Beyond not feeling like a stunt it nails the way that our parents can mold us and influence us and try to make us good people but we still become who we are all on our own. I know my dad didn’t intend for me to write snarky shit about movies online but here we are.


The Grand Budapest Hotel is another fine Wes Anderson production and his first best picture nomination because it references World War 2. It also has the saddest ending of an Anderson film, unless you count the sadness you feel after sitting through Darjeeling Limited and thinking “They literally threw the metaphor off the back of the train? Fuckkkkkk thissssss.”

See, he cracked Enigma but also he was gay. That's what this means. Heavy.

See, he cracked Enigma but also he was gay. That’s what this means. Heavy.

Listen, actors got tricks and skills and some guys can do a lot and some guys can do a couple things. But after sitting through The Imitation Game I dunno if Benedict Cumberbatch has that much to offer us as an actor. I’d love to see this guy not play an introverted genius with bad social skills. Imagine him playing a party planner who gets along with everyone? I’m gonna say it, BC needs to do a romantic comedy where him and Jennifer Garner don’t get along but keep meeting on transatlantic flights and arguing over who gets the aisle seat. The rest of The Imitation Game is standard biopic business, and considering it comes from the guy who did Headhunters, it is a total disappointment. It’s the kind of movie that social studies teachers will make the class watch on half days.


I was genuinely moved by Selma. By focusing on one particular moment in history instead of trying to summarize a historical figure’s entire life, Selma manages to create nuance and suspense around a well known event in the cause of civil rights and make Martin Luther King Jr. a real guy and not some awards beacon. David Oyelowo’s performance is perfectly level, playing a man instead of icon. He felt like a real guy who was trying to figure all this shit out and genuinely worrying about failing. Also, despite having Common in a prominent role, this movie is great. First time for everything!

"Swing me while you can, Stephen!"

“Swing me while you can, Stephen!”

I’m going to repeat a joke I made about The Theory of Everything right after I watched it the other day: “We all know that Stephen Hawking is more than his disease. What this movie presupposes is, what if he isn’t?” Theory is as Oscarbaity as they come. Even more than The Imitation GameThe Theory of Everything will become a threat amongst tenth grade English teachers and their students. “If this class doesn’t behave I’ll make you sit through that Stephen Hawking movie.” “No, teacher! We promise to behave. Please give us a test!” Theory of Everything has two(!) scenes where we watch someone stock a bookstore window with copies of Stephen Hawking’s new book. What is the book about? Who cares? Stephen Hawking still has a working dick! That is the lesson of this movie as Hawking’s wife says “Look what we did” as their three children run around a fountain. I’ve never even heard of Stephen Hawking’s kids! I do know that he’s been on The Simpsons and Star Trek: The Next Generation which this movie never mentions because it is too busy being lame as fuck. Also Eddie Redmayne should be in movie jail for Jupiter Ascending, not up for awards. Get your head out of your ass, Academy.


Whiplash is fire, is flames, is greatness. J.K. Simmons is a monster and his monstrousness consumes Miles Teller to the point where instead of being repulsed by the monster he wants to be him. Still the greatest finale of any of the nominees and the best delivery of “Fuck you.” in cinema for the year 2014.

It doesn’t matter who wins this year, just like it didn’t matter last year. SPRING BREAK FOREVERRRRRRRRRRRRRR.


January 19, 2015


Michael Mann is an old legend who has come to the point in his career where he is just making reiterations of the same themes that run through most of his prime work, with varying degrees of success.With Blackhat Michael Mann indulges and takes his love and fascination for criminals who are excellent at their work while showing due diligence to chip away at things like plot and exposition to the point where the movie starts to resemble abstract art pieces intercut with violence, rides on expensive private planes, and vast open spaces for characters to find their thoughts.

The choice to cast Chris Hemsworth as computer hacker Nick Hathaway has already been widely mocked but who else would Michael Mann cast as his avatar this time around? Hathaway is a genius hacker, lethal at hand to hand combat, good with a gun, a giving lover, and a loyal friend. I guess I’m just used to Michael Mann movies at this point that I didn’t even flinch when Hathaway started hiding bladed weapons on his person in preparation for what looks like a suicide mission. Hathaway is such a good guy that even though he went to jail for cybercrime and has a least a pretty healthy disdain for authority, when he’s told later that he has to go back to jail his first reaction is “Sure. Do the crime do the time.” His friends have to actually convince him to be a fugitive. Whattaguy. Hathaway is also the type of guy who has the top two or three buttons on his shirt undone. Always.


Like Miami Vice, Blackhat treats much of it’s dialogue as literal afterthoughts. The sound mix runs in and out, fading up and down. Hathaway starts talking about his father and the sound just trails out. “You get the idea”, says Mann. When the plot sorta kicks in during the second half of the film and the characters start facing real danger it takes you by surprise since so much time has been spent hanging out, flying around, and wandering into nuclear hot zones like it ain’t no thang. Mann actually starts the first big action sequence with everyone being woken up early, wandering around their hideout all bleary eyed like it’s the first day of school and everyone missed the bus. Later Hathaway and his girlfriend spend their time waiting for the bad guy to call them back by spooning in bed and flipping through pictures on their phones. This scene was very real and true.

As with any other Mann film the violence is exquisite, brutal and final. Wall mines fillet unsuspecting police, Hathaway destroys a group of attackers with a bar table and beer bottle, machine gun bullets literally lift people off their feet. Is this the first Michael Mann film to utilize a missile launcher? Please don’t let it be the last. The blade work at the finale is monstrous and efficient, lest we forget that Hathaway is a guy who has done some time.

You have to love that despite a track record of never delivering what people expect (a straight ahead biopic, a television show adaptation), Michael Mann still gets to make the movie he wants to make. Blackhat is a thoroughly un-compromised Michael Mann film and I love it to pieces.


Best Music of 2014

December 30, 2014


2014 felt like 2009, a year with a couple stand out records but an off year since we didn’t have any new Kanye. So goes Kanye, so goes the year.

I listened to as many albums as I could get ahold of this year and even as it ends I’m still finding stuff I missed or should have spent more time with. Much love to Rich Gang, Guy Gerber and Puff Daddy, Charli XCX and A$AP Ferg.

1. Death From Above 1979 – The Physical World

I just wrote and then deleted a long autobiography about my relationship with Death From Above 1979’s first album, about the mythology created about the band with my wife and my friend Lauren, about the times that Sebastien was a jerk and Jesse was the coolest dude ever. But I don’t want to bore you. Death From Above 1979 are back, and this album rules. The production is cleaner but the songs are still brutal, ferocious, and instantly danceable. A joke we make is that Jesse’s bass is tuned to “awesome” at all times. I mean that in the truest sense. This band inspires awe in me. This record leaves me awestruck. It is a triumph and I am so happy they’re back. 10 years was worth it. Sebastien is still a jerk but that is why we love him.

keys n krates

2. Keys N Krates – Every Nite

Trap dance? I don’t know the official term but Every Nite is all bangers.


3. Duck Sauce – Quack

Another long wait that was worth it. A-Trak told a podcast in 2011(!) that this record was done and mixed and it finally came out this year. A-Trak is the partner that Armand Van Helden has needed his whole career. Van Helden has certainly created some masterpiece singles in his lifetime but a full cohesive album? Not until Duck Sauce. A-Trak is a people pleaser and he works well to accentuate Van Helden’s strengths and keep all his goofing around contained in the skits. This is dance floor nirvana.


4. The Afghan WhigsDo to the Beast

Greg is back and he brought tunes. This is a divisive record since Rick McCollum isn’t featured on it but it still sounds like the Whigs to me and Greg is in fine form. In the sea of reunion cash ins, this is a record with purpose and spirit.


5. Mastodon – Once More ‘Round The Sun

After the slump of 2011’s The Hunter, …Round The Sun is a nice return to form. Killer riffs abound and these guys still know how to write a hook. Standing ovation.


6. Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2

El-P made me a believer with his production on Killer Mike’s 2012 R.A.P. Music. I didn’t exactly see the light on the first Run The Jewels but the sequel definitely hit my sweet spots. The raps are vicious and the beats are there to match them.


7. Brody Dalle – Diploid Love

Brody Dalle’s post Distiller’s career has been largely silence, with the exception of the Spinnerette project, which took a promising EP and expanded into a disappointing album. Diploid Love is a total success, with Dalle playing nearly everything and just rocking faces. Dalle’s voice still retains that trademark rasp and she sounds like a Beast.


8. Klaxons – Love Frequency

Is this really the last Klaxons album? Bummer. This one is more like the Myths of the Near Future with laser synths and less guitar. Rachel thinks it sounds like 2007 which is great! 2007 was great!


9. Sloan – Commonwealth

Sloan seem to be on an every other album thing with classics at this point in their career. After roaring back with Never Hear The End of It in 2006 they released the short and relatively subdued Parallel Play. That record is mad underrated. Then in 2011 they dropped The Double Cross which is a fucking masterpiece so it makes sense that Commonwealth would be more chill. Of course, it only takes a couple listens to realize that Sloan still have it and will always have it, that their songs will imprint into your mind and you’ll be singing them forever.


10. Skrillex – Recess

He could have just made 11 bangers and said “That’s a wrap” but instead he sought out some interesting collaborations, and just tried to see what would stick. Not as hard hitting as Bangarang, this would be the thoughtful Skrillex album. Still has some dance jams but he is in a headier place. If this one left you wanting there is always the Dog Blood stuff which are all face melters.


11. Ariana Grande – My Everything

I was hoping for this to be 2014’s Kiss and while it didn’t quite get there it still has plenty of jams. Songs with Zedd, The Weeknd, A$AP Ferg, all fire.


12. Stars – No One Is Lost

Despite their claims, I thought Arcade Fire really shit the bed with their “dance music” attempts on Reflektor. Stars made similar claims on the run up to No One Is Lost but hey, they came through. Only the title track and the closer have that club feeling but the rest of the album is a more than solid collection of indie rock jams, and as someone with little stomach for indie rock these days that is saying something.


13. We Are Scientists – TV en Français

I’m a We Are Scientists fan for life so every record goes into immediate rotation. This one is more chill with less rockers but these guys still know how to crafty punchy tunes. I’ll take it!


14. Slipknot – .5 : The Gray Chapter

My expectations were low to non-existent for this album. Paul Gray dies, they kick Joey Jordison out of the band, the last record was just ok, was this album even going to exist at all? I should have realized that nothing gets a metal band invested like the death of bandmate. Like Back In Black and Down III.5 is all righteous fury and chewed anger. And they have “Custer”, which is an immediate instant classic. I read they’re closing their shows with it now.


15. DJ Quik – The Midnight Life

DJ Quik is a legend and genius and all of his albums are great. Same with this one.


16. Spoon – They Want My Soul

Spoon are so good at this point that it is easy to underrate them or just plain take them for granted. This album is more top quality Spoon for us Spoon loving masses.

todd terje

17. Todd Terje – It’s Album Time

This album sounds like these weird instrumental albums my dad used to play when I was growing up. I think they were like new age or something like that. Listening to this reminds me of being 10 years old but not in any specific way. I say this because I can’t describe the feelings this album elicits any other way. It’s really good and it makes me feel like a child.


18. YG – My Krazy Life

As I type this I read that YG and DJ Mustard are feuding. If so, get this last document of their fruitful collaborations.


19. French Montana – Coke Boys 4

I joked in January that this was the best album of the year but then I kept listening to it and I guess I love French Montana?


20. Katy B – Little Red

I don’t think this record caught on because they waited over 2 years to captialize on the excitement of “Aaliyah”. Drop this album in Spring 2013 and you might have had something. That said, it still has plenty of fun dance cuts and hey, they included “Aaliyah”!

Best Songs of 2014

  1.  Swet Shop Boys “Benny Lava” Heems of Das Rascist drops of one off EP with the jam of the year. I heard he’s quit music and working in an office now which is total bummer because dude has bars.
  2. Federal Reserve featuring Cam’ron, A-Trak, Juelz Santana & Dame Dash “Dipshits” This promised a Dipset return that didn’t happen but while you play the track you feel like Cam and company are set to take over the world. Dame Dash with best spoken word outro of the year. Also A-Trak!
  3. Death From Above 1979 “Virgins” The first 10 seconds of this song are the greatest 10 seconds of your life.
  4. Keys N Krates “Are We Faded” Yes.
  5. Death From Above 1979 “Trainwreck 1979” The comeback single that said that everything will be alright and the boys are back.
  6. Stitches “Brick In Your Face” This was the year of Stitches. He has a gun tattooed on his face and he loves cocaine. Also video of the year.
  7. Future featuring Pharrell, Pusha T and Casino “Move That Dope” Pharrell has the best verse on this track and there are a LOT of great verses on this track.
  8. Bobby Shmurda “Hot Nigga” Free Bobby.
  9. Duck Sauce “Time Waits For No-One” This is the great sequel to “U Don’t Know Me” that we’ve been waiting 15 years for.
  10. Dej Loaf “Try Me” The nicest song about murdering your enemies.
  11. Hercules And Love Affair “Do You Feel The Same?” These guys can’t make a full record but they’re usually good for one jam and this song is a JAM.
  12. La Roux “Uptight Downtown” La Roux followed up a five year absence with 9 songs, 1 of which was this one, totally great, and then eight forgettable whiffs. But yeah, this one rules.
  13. Ariana Grande feat. A$AP Ferg “Hands On Me” These two sound absolutely jubilant about having sex.
  14. Drake “0 To 100” Swap in “We Made It” or “6 God”, Drake dropping loosies and still running shit without an album.
  15. A-Trak & Lex Luger “Ohmygosh” A-Trak also also worked with Lex Luger this year and made some bangers so basically A-Trak was running shit in 2014.
  16. Drake “Trophies” More Drake.
  17. Brody Dalle “Don’t Mess With Me” Noted.
  18. The Afghan Whigs “Algiers” This sounds a lot like the True Detective theme song which is also a pretty good song and hey a not bad show have you watched True Detec-
  19. Kylie Minogue “I Was Gonna Cancel” This Kylie album felt slight but had a few wonderful moments, this Pharrell production being the highlight.
  20. Designer Drugs “Crystal” BANGER BANGER BANGER BANGER BANGER!
  21. Young Money featuring Tyga, Nicki Minaj and Lil’ Wayne “Senile” This beat is insane and I can’t believe they let Tyga rap on it but Nicki and Wayne drop flames and thus it is a classic.
  22. French Montana featuring Jadakiss “88 Coupes” Harry Fraud needs to do a Ghostface album, stat.
  23. Run The Jewels featuring Zach De La Rocha “Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)” As a longtime Rage Against The Machine fan, I was excited for this and the fact that it actually delivers on it’s song title is remarkable.
  24. Basement Jaxx “Never Say Never” The Jaxx have been just ok since crushing shit on Kish Kash in 03 and Junto is a nice return to form. “Never Say Never” is their best single since “Good Luck”.
  25. Nick Jonas “Teacher” I’m as surprised as you. The rest of the album is a snooze though.
  26. Nicki Minaj featuring Beyoncé “Feeling Myself” Nicki Minaj released “Only” as a single instead of this and I just can’t wrap my mind around it.
  27. Sloan “You Don’t Need Excuses To Be Good” Chris Murphy is a golden god.
  28. Slipknot “Custer” New classic.
  29. Beyoncé “7/11” The self titled album ended up on my list last year but this track is as good as about half the songs on that one.
  30. Disclosure featuring Mary J. Blige “F For You” Disclosure are inherently boring but Mary J. Blige makes this a first class banger for the ages.

Best of Movies of 2014

December 23, 2014


This was not a hard list to make. In the past I have agonized over these things, moving them around for days and days, fretting over placement. What a waste of time! But this list came easy because I followed my heart.

The Best

1. The Raid 2

Best action, best violence, best payoff, best everything. How can you hype something in your head and it still exceeds your wildest dreams? The answer is The Raid 2. I think I’ve covered everything I love about this movie in various other places or if you’ve ever met me in person but let me just reiterate that nothing is beating this bad boy for a long time. The bar has been raised. Never forget that at the U.S. premiere someone had a seizure and they had to stop the movie. The Raid 2 is so good it might kill you.

2. The Guest


I loved how they kept showing you that David is a bad guy but then have him do something cool as hell, like intimidate a high school principal or casually smash a guy’s head into the wall and then fuck that dude’s girlfriend. “This guy is bad, right? So why does he rule?” The grenade toss is highlight reel hall of fame shit and put it in the Smithsonian.

3. Whiplash


There is a moment about 3/4’s the way through that a few people say is too over the top and throws the movie into some crazy realm. And definitely when that scene happens the first thought is “Whoa movie! You are getting crazy! Settle down, baby.” But then Miles Teller tries to play the drums while covered in blood and I got it, it worked. The movie is all about playing till you bleed and about playing so well while mouthing “Fuck you” to your archenemy. The best archenemies are the ones who might be your friend but then turn on you but you could almost be each other. Dr Doom and Reed Richards, Wolverine and Sabretooth, heck DeNiro and Pacino in HeatWhiplash even has it’s own version of the restaurant scene!

4. John Wick


Keanu Reeves is a national treasure and a legend. The Matrix, Point Break, Speed, classic status. His legend is secure, he directed The Man of Tai Chi and fucking crushed it, and still he made head shot masterpiece John Wick because he wants you to know that he is still a legend who will barrel roll and pop you in your right eye.

5. Blue Ruin


Everything goes wrong in Blue Ruin and just keeps going wrong for a while and never really goes right. It’s sad but also hilarious, like when a character gets shot with an arrow and tries to remove it like DeNiro in Ronin and then realizes fuck it and goes to the hospital.

6. Nightcrawler


Jake Gyllenhaal is a fucking creeeeeeeep in this movie. Also I believe that the person he plays is very real and true.

7. Edge of Tomorrow

edge of tomorrow tom cruise

Tom Cruise in a mech suit fighting aliens. NO CONTEST CLASSIC STATUS.

8. Snowpiercer


I like how people watched this movie and said things like “That train didn’t make sense, where did the rich people sleep?” What is it like to be dead inside? Bong Joon-Ho has about 5 classic set pieces here, the classroom being the most obvious but that ax fight is goddamn poetic. This is also the film I get the most texts about, after The Raid 2. “Did you see Snowpiercer, Lorin? Seems like your thing.” You are correct, everyone. Awesome movies are indeed my thing.

9. Only Lovers Left Alive


Literally two vampires spooning and playing shoegaze. Masterpiece.

10. Under The Skin


Scarlett Johansson lures men into her van and then rips their guts out and leaves just the skin. This was really good.

Honorable mentions

The Grand Budapest Hotel


Wasn’t that ending like the saddest fucking thing?





USA Today keeping readers informed about Arnold shooting people in the spine.

USA Today keeping readers informed about Arnold shooting people in the spine.

Goriest Arnold Schwarzenegger movie ever made. At one point they’re just stapling people to the ceiling and shoving main characters into fridges. INSANE.


300: Rise of an Empire, Hercules, Pompeii


These movies had no obligation to be any good and yet they were all wonderful romps. Pompeii is a John Snow and Mr. Echo team up movie against Jack Bauer! 300 Part 2 is a prequel, sequel and sidequal all at the exact same time. Eva Green shoots a flaming arrow into a monster which causes a domino effect explosion and she just turns and walks away like, “This is what I do.” And Hercules had The Rock casually murdering dudes as one does.

Worst Movies



I’ve gone on the record.

They Came Together


I think I hate David Wain movies.



Every defense of this movie is verbal gymnastics trying to say boring is not boring.

Need For Speed


Everyone is embarrassed and sad about being involved. Also people keep getting out of their cars and not racing! Get back in your car!


November 12, 2014


Why is it that any piece of media that attempts to exult art just ends up a total garbage heap? Never trust a movie that gives itself a standing ovation. Birdman might be the worst film of the year. It’s pretentious, overlong, and witless. It contains merely character sketches portrayed by numerous humans with mouths that spit words. Words, such meaningless things. I say that not because I devalue the dialogue or the written word, but for what Birdman tells me. Characters talk and walk and the soundtrack booms an incessant drum beat, never building to a groove, just hanging there as noise. Characters are angry and dejected and betrayed and surprised and saddened and bewildered but who are they? Who are these people? Why should I care about them? The camera moves with confidence and it all looks great I guess but why do I care? Sure I like Michael Keaton, but I like him in movies where he has something to do. Director and co-writer Alejandro González Iñárritu is merely using Keaton as a vehicle for his own pity parade. Iñárritu is an artist! He’s working over here! You wouldn’t understand, critic!

Birdman loves low hanging fruit. Superhero movies take some obvious hits because superheroes are so stupid, right you guys? Not like this movie that uses superheroes as the hook to get you to see it and even has a superhero sequence with tanks and monsters and the main character flying around the city. But yeah, fuck superhero movies.

I’m going to share a tidbit from the IMDB trivia page:

“According to Alejandro González Iñárritu, he had dinner with director Mike Nichols in New York two weeks before he began shooting the movie. Inarritu told Nichols of his plan for how he was going to shoot the movie as one long take. Nichols predicted it would be a disaster because not having the ability to use cuts in editing would inhibit the opportunities for comedy. Inarritu said the meeting didn’t deter him, but was instead helpful in raising his awareness level of the difficulty of what he was about to do.”

Mike Nichols told you, Alejandro! Iñárritu’s style meshes with comedy like oil and water. Or critics and artists!(amirite Al?) I can only figure that Iñárritu shot it that way because otherwise what would there to be to talk about? I read a guy on Letterboxd calling Birdman brilliant and then just typing “Camerawork!” in all caps. Dude, I know. They used a camera. So did every other movie ever made. Ask around, I’m a sucker for a good long take, but generally they serve a purpose. Iñárritu did it for no apparent reason except that it made his movie really hard to make for all involved. Nothing makes great comedy like stringent rules!

If I have to say something nice about the movie it’s that Edward Norton is pretty great. I’ve read that he is playing a parody of himself but how do we really know? I’m no Hollywood insider! He also gets some really bad lines in a scene with Emma Stone that Stone’s character calls out as bad writing but as my dude Justin Muschong would say, “Just because you point out the shitty thing you did doesn’t mean it still isn’t shitty.” Paraphrasing.

Bless your heart, Naomi Watts. Even after the forced nude scene in 21 Grams you still show up to work for this guy. Watts joins Emma Stone, Amy Ryan and Andrea Riseborough as one of the women in Keaton’s life who is there to love him and deride him. He’s a shitty father, a terrible husband, and a bad boyfriend. But you know what, even though he doesn’t really change, they still give em a little smile at the end. Riseborough even has a miscarriage and then turns into a lesbian with Naomi Watts. This has no precedent, except maybe Iñárritu yelling off camera “Why don’t you ladies kiss now? That’s what women do when they’re alone together, right?” Amy Ryan is one of our finest actresses but she is reduced to sighing (ex)wife here. Emma Stone has a monologue where she yells at Keaton about how old and irrelevant he is and then she just walks out of the room, leaving Keaton to fiddle with a joint for an extremely long period of time, probably because they couldn’t cut to a new scene because our boy Iñárritu is already married to this continuous one take style. Stone later warms to her dad because he’s the star of viral video that gets 300,000 views. (Birdman is the kind of movie that talks about things like Youtube, Facebook and Twitter from the point of view of someone who has heard of them but never used them. 300,000 views is not that impressive. Too Many Cooks has over a million!)

Any jokes are either obvious or dead on arrival. There is a scene where Norton and Keaton are wrestling on the ground and Norton is wearing nothing but briefs. So wild! Scenes like this always remind me that a director told them to do this stupid shit and they said yes without hesitation. Keaton later gets stuck walking through Times Square in just his underwear and I guess I should be impressed that it is a long take? The whole movie is a long take! This isn’t impressive anymore. The bloom is off the rose. Also, they film movies everywhere. You can’t just film in Times Square and expect me to stand and applaud. You know who else filmed in Times Square? Total Request Live. And they did that shit every day for years!

Birdman isn’t funny ultimately because Iñárritu came with an axe to grind. If he was simply telling a tale of wild times behind the scenes, well, he might have carried it off. But instead wants to tell us he is An Artist and that critics are Lazy. Michael Keaton’s critic rant is easily the most embarrassing moment in film in 2014. Critics don’t have any power, Al! Just ask Michael Bay and his pile of money! Having the critic say she is going to pan Keaton’s show without even seeing it is the stuff of dreams. Lots of laughs over here.

Has anyone talked about the fact that the play within the movie is not very good? The costumes are shabby, the characters never block towards the audience so someone always has their back to the crowd. “We didn’t pay good money to look at your ass, sweetheart!”

I really wish someone could make a really great film about the behind the scenes of show business. OH WAIT someone did it was Robert Altman it’s called The Player it’s a masterpiece. It even has a long take at the beginning if you want to watch it and need to type out “Camera work!” in your Letterboxd review.

Anything is Possible: Thoughts on The Raid 2

July 19, 2014


It has taken me a moment to write down the thoughts, emotions, the sense of truth and purpose that comes from The Raid 2. Since it’s release on March 28th I have felt great elation as words of joy and excitement filled my social media timelines, text messages, and phone calls. The Raid 2 is love.

The Raid 2 fucked the game up for everybody. I don’t just mean in the way that Gareth Evans made a sprawling 2 hour plus crime/action movie hybrid for four million dollars that looks and sounds better than every big budget action blockbuster this year. The moment that fucked the game up, that fucked my mind up, is when Kenichi Endo’s character Goto says, “Anything is possible.” Sure, he is referring to criminal machinations being unfurled around him, but Evans holds the shot on Endo and lets the line linger in the air. This is a mission statement, a call to arms. The Raid 2 is proof that you can do anything. Every action sequence has a breathless chant of “This is happening this is happening this is really happening” running underneath it. Long take battles in a nightclub that spill out into snow covered alleys. The camera floating above the jail yard as prisoners fight to the death covered in mud. A woman who kills a whole subway car full of thugs with two claw hammers. The camera traveling effortlessly through a vehicle during a car chase. But on top of what “Anything is possible” means to The Raid 2 I keep thinking what it means to me as a human being, a person trying to exist as a creative person. I perform improv, which has it’s champions and critics, much like any other art form, and “Anything is possible” is true for any improvised scene. There are no limits, no settings, no rules. You decide your destiny. When Goto said it, I felt a kinship and a bond with the film and with true creative people everywhere. We can do whatever we want!

Going back to The Raid 2 as a film, all of it would be for naught if I didn’t care about the characters. And I do! Obviously Rama is the guy I care about over everything, he’s just a good guy in a bad situation who happens to be just better at fighting than anyone on planet Earth. Still, there’s only one of him and a shit-ton of bad guys. I care about Bangun, the world’s most sensible crime lord. He knows when to kill a guy and when to take the high road and not leave a mountain of bodies. It still doesn’t work out great for him but his sensibility rang true. A character like Uco is inherently unsympathetic but Arifin Putra’s performance is such that his sadness and ultimate betrayal are given time to well and grow so that when he decides to gun down his father, the scene has weight and it means something. Even when the characters are only small sketches, like Hammer Girl and the Bat Guy and the guy who just looks tough and leaves your body in a field, their characters are illustrated with small wordless details that say more than a ream of exposition. On a very base level, my feelings on The Raid 2 are purely “Holy fucking hell that guy just had his face blown OFF!” But I also cherish moments when Bangun realizes his son’s treachery or when Uco faces himself in the mirror after murdering his father. That show of emotion and betrayal wouldn’t mean shit if Evans hadn’t laid the groundwork. Also the car chase. And the kitchen fight. And the porn den battle. And on and on. The Raid 2 is everything.




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