Saturday, January 31, 2009

Liam Neeson Will Punch You in the Throat and you will Die or: Dan Reviews Taken


This movie was awesome. In a time where movies come with a side of ovaries and emotion, Liam Neeson delivers a box of testicles to your doorstep, wrapped in a bow. Then he punches you in the throat. That is the gist of this movie. But in all seriousness, I intensely enjoyed Taken.

Is Taken a Classic? No. Did I expect Taken to be a classic? No.

However, Taken was a perfectly done vengeance movie. I couldn't help but think while watching this movie,

"This is three times better than Quantum of Solace."

I mean that wholeheartedly. However, that isn't saying much seeing as Quantum was possibly the most dissatisfying film of the year for me. But I'm done bitching about that, it was months ago. Taken did what Quantum did, very effortlessly. It didn't weight itself down with political commentary, or heavy symbolism or nods to old bond directors. It was its own movie, and it relied on its own plot. Liam Neesons daughter was taken. And he is going to fuck shit up in Paris until someone brings her back. The action was solidly filmed, not horribly shaky, and somewhat easy to believe.

And I'd just like to say, I LOVE vengeance films. I've always loved vigilante stories, and I can't get enough of them. However, watching Taken put most recent vengeance films to shame, and the reason for this was actually fairly minor. What did The Punisher lack? The ability to relate. The Punisher's family is dead, and he's killing people, and by the end of those movies, you just wish he'd get some therapy. But in Taken, you are rooting for Liam (Name Brian in the movie, but fuck that name.) Anyone who's ever cared about someone feels a sick satisfaction when Liam finally gets a hold of some of the people responsible for his daughter's kidnapping, because we all can put ourselves in his shoes, everyone has people they love, and everyone is terrified at the idea of having them suddenly yanked from your life.

In the end, Taken is flawless at being exactly what it was intended to be. A January movie. There's action that doesn't give you motion sickness, a plot with just enough emotional value to make you want to continue watching, and a side of comedy to lighten things up every now and then. James Bond could take a lesson from Mr. Neeson.

4 out of 5 stars.

Isn't It Grand? lololol.


I was perusing iTunes a few days ago when I stumbled upon this delightful little album. Now, I don't know if my audience is at all familiar with Matt & Kim, but to put it simply, they are The White Stripes but instead of being offbeat and experimental, they're hip and spritely. Grand was Matt & Kim's second effort, and it's clear that the duo has made few changes. I, however, don't have a problem with that. Matt & Kim aren't destined to be musically influential, and I've never taken them as such. These two create the adorable little songs that I'd soundtrack a teen movie to. The album starts off strong with the song "Daylight" but seems to peak at that point. While the rest of the album is by no means bad, it simply has a hard time maintaining its momentum. This was a problem that very nearly sunk The Shins' last effort, and thus I've dubbed it, "Sleeping Lessons Syndrome." The first track on the album sets a quality standard that the band can't seem to maintain, and once again, the one problem I have with this band seems to creep back into the equation. Matt and Kim are adorable. Their songs are adorable. The whole deal is adorable. However by the end of the album, you feel as though instead of dealing with an adorable baby, you've been presented with the awkward 9 year old who still purposefully calls spaghetti, 'Pasketti. The cuteness wears off quickly, and leaves you with an overall uneventful experience devoid of true musical stimulation. In the end, the album was worth the half hour I spent listening to it, and Daylight has great potential as a single song (That drum beat is pretty irresistable.) However, the album fails to have the consistent quality of the first, and just seems to be lacking something.

3 Stars out of 5


At this point, I'm just holding out for Love, Hate and Then There's You by the Von Bondies. Two more days! That album sounds fucking stupendous, and you can expect a review from me Monday night. In the meantime, stay tuned for a review of Taken.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Nostradamus is Latin for "I'm a Huge Tool"

A friend advised that I write an elaborated post on things that have made me angry. So I thought of my number one first, because anyone who's read my lists knows that I dispense with the suspense bullshit, and go right to the number one. And my number one was

1. Nostradamus and his absolutely retarded followers

Okay. I've been addicted to the history channel all this week. And its Armageddon week. So of course all the programs are about this 2012 bullshit. So first I'll discuss that in a brief paragraph.

Shut your fucking faces and get a job you damn hippies.

That being said, on to the Author. Nostradumbass.

Basically, this guy worked a day job as an apothecary, selling wacky elixirs, but his true passion was writing douchy poems. These days, we call those people "Baristas." (For those of you who dont speak pretentious, it means "Coffee Guys.")


"Hi I'm Steven. I pour coffee, but want to be taken seriously. Please listen to my band's demo tape."


These poems, known as Quatrains, supposdly predicted the future.

Here's one.

His final hand through Alus,
he will be unable to protect himself by sea.
Between two rivers he will fear the military hand,
the black one, irate, will make him regret it.

Here's what some douchebag says it meant:

Clearly this is a reference to Colin Powell, who has an admitedly short temper, and was involved in the Bush Administration, and the Iraq War. Iraq is between two rivers, the Tigres and Euphrates, and often has seen military action.

Here's why this is retarded:

I'm not even going to fucking start, honest to god. But here's the thing, I am going to start.
The part about Iraq being between two rivers is factual. So that's a legitimate interpretation. But my beef is that they think this is talking about our time. Iraq (Mesapotamia at the time) has been an area of violence for THOUSANDS OF FUCKING YEARS. THOUSANDS. So of course, Colin Powell is the first black person to be irate in the general area of Iraq. Also, Colin Powell isn't George Bush, so you'd think that Nostradamus would refer to the leader, not the guy who bailed out of the Bush administration.

But wanna know what the problem with that is? George Bush is white, and then they don't have an irate black guy to pin this quatrain on. So then someone might think, hey, Nostradamus might be just a drunkass poet, and not a prophet. THEN thousands of bullshit historians/writers are out of jobs because people stop being retarded.

I understand how people believe that Nostradamus is predicting the future, because some people are just retarded. I mean, people used to believe that if you were sick, all you had to do is just cut yourself and bleed all the cancer out. And I feel like Nostradamus' stuff is the same way. It kinda seemed plausible, but then we started discovering things and learning to read. It worked for a minute, and then did a massive fucking faceplant straight into the realm of superheroes, greek myths and pokemon.

So yeah long story short, I spent a lot of time writing my number one, so I think I'm just going to keep throwing these things out as they happen.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

2008: The Top 5's



So this is slightly belated, and my first post in ages, but I'm a busy man.

Sorry if the font is giant, I'm working on it but my computer apparently doesn't understand what I mean when I set the font to "normal."

So here are my 2008 TOP 5's

Music:

1. Consolers of the Lonely- The Raconteurs

I wrote a full review of this a while back, and I stand by it. This album has never let me down, and spawned what is quite possibly the greatest live show I have ever seen, and ever will see. As much as I could try to sum it up in a sentence, I think I'll just encourage you to read the full review from a few months ago.

2. Goodbye Blues- The Hush Sound

The Hush Sounds third album was amazing to say the least. With the new album, came a sudden change in frontman, or rather, frontwoman. Former pianist and backup vocalist, Greta, took a frontseat for the majority of the album, and kicked some serious ass. This album is full of forceful piano rock sound, just like their previous 2 efforts, but with an entirely fresh vocal sound, backed up by an impressive drummer, who's filled this album with heavily accented percussion that adds a serious pulse to every song. The album starts with an calm piano intro, lulling you into a false sense of security as the explosion that is "Honey" crashes into its opening guitar solo. The album is a nonstop ride from there on out, only taking a break for a ballad or two (one of which was my favorite track, "That's Okay"), and ending with a bang. This album sells for an unbelievably 8 dollars on itunes, and I'd easily be willing to pay double that.


3. Viva La Vida - Coldplay

Coldplay's newest album was nothing but successful, reinventing their sound to sound like arena rock Radiohead. For the first time since parachutes, you are made aware that Coldplay still has a guitarist. Though the songs sometimes are lacking lyrically, they make up for it with brilliant instrumentation, and a great variety of style between songs. Really, the only flaws I saw in this album were in its shortness, which turned out to be a corporate ploy to get you to spend more money when they released "Prospekt's March Bonus Tracks" aka the 5 other tracks from the CD plus some really awful remixes that somehow resulted in a 10 dollar price hike to purchase, "Viva La Vida: Prospekt's March Edition." That seemed like a pretty low blow to a music lover like myself, who enjoys naively believing that most musicians don't care about the money. However the songs were still a pleasure to listen to on the full album, and unlike most coldplay stuff, I can listen to this when I'm in any mood. Certain songs like Cemetaries of London and Lovers in Japan are fast paced or uplifting, while ballads like Strawberry Swing are still options for the more mellow times. Though the corporate trickery was annoying, Coldplay has yet to truly dissapoint.

4. We Are Kamikazes (Headed Straight for our Heart) - The Von Bondies

This wasn't so much an album as a 4 track teaser for the upcoming Von Bondies album, "Love, Hate, and Then There's You." All 4 of the songs were wonderful, and definitely have me in anticipation of the full album. It has the classic Von Bondies garage rock sound that you heard in Pawn Shoppe Heart, but theres a new refinement to it. The Von Bondies appear to have grown up a bit, and they're showing it in their music. How did an EP make it to the top 5? Well its almost the length of the original coldplay Viva La Vida release. Go figure.

5. Once (Music from the Motion Picture) - Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova

I cannot even begin to describe this album. For those of you who've been living under a rock for the past year, Once was a movie that came out in late 2007, and the album hit in 2008. The movie is much more eloquently reviewed by my friend Andy, but in short, its one of the most emotionally accurate and beautiful films I've ever seen. Back to the album, these songs speak volumes with their simplicity. The songs are a testament to the way that music brings people together, and manage to capture such raw emotion that you can't help but think that the plot the songs reference can't be entirely fictional. A must have for anyone who loves....anything or anyone really.

The Movies:

1. The Dark Knight

Okay, this was possibly the most predictable number one pick ever but honestly, do you blame me? Let's just do a quick run down to make sure this movie was awesome.

A. Compelling Storyline

It talked about EVERYTHING. Good, Evil, Right, Wrong, Love, Hate, Justice, Crime, I mean god damn, Nolan didn't miss a thing! This movie left me wondering why it was only 2 and a half hours long. Now some people said that it was "Too Depressing" or "Too Confusing/Long." but honestly, if you want a happy and simple movie, I'm pretty sure House Bunny came out this year, so piss off whiners.

B. Well Acted.

Ledger's death had nothing to do with the reception of that performance. It was mind blowing, and the world needs more method actors like the late Heath Ledger. And let's not forget the equally impressive Aaron Eckhart who pulled off his role flawlessly as well, dancing seamlessly between good and evil.

C. Explosions

THERE WERE TONS OF THEM

D. IT WAS A COMIC BOOK MOVIE

Ever since they started being made, comic book movies have mostly been cheesy, campy, and unnecessarily goofy. This mostly happens because, whenever a good comic book movie comes along, people thing that its nerdy to see a superhero movie, and just pass it up. Batman basically took this notion and shoved it down most of America's throats as they finally conceded to the potential awesomeness of a good comic book movie, and let this film hit #2 highest grossing film of all time.



Really, I've said more than I need to on this, everyone saw this movie, if you didn't like it, never, ever, ever, read my blog again.

2. Step Brothers

What's better than an awkwardly profane and overtly innappropriate movie about two stepbrothers slowly becoming friends in the wake of being forced into the same house? Having those two step brothers be middle aged men. Namely John C. Reily and Will Ferrel.

This movie was by far, no questions asked, the best comedy of the year. The movie combined the humor of childhood with the bluntness of profanity and vulgarity. Just when a scene seemed to capture some certain nuance of childhood, it'd be interrupted with some form of adult humor, and the result was endlessly funny. Not to mention that the movie's use of Con te Partito is possibly one of the most hilarious scenes I've seen in my life. (It's the Fuckin' Catalina Wine Mixer.)

3. Iron Man

Iron Man was everything a man could want in a movie. A billionare playboy who makes things explode for a living is involved in an accident and is kidnapped, however this leaves him injured in a way that makes it super easy for him to just up and become an awesome robot-suited superhero. Though the movie wasn't anything spectacular from a filmmaking standpoint, it was one of the better comic book movies I've seen, and Robert Downy Jr. was born to play Tony Stark. This is one of those movies that you just can't help but enjoy every time you watch it.

4. Pineapple Express

Another top notch comedy, and yet another notch in Judd Apatow's belt. The movie is pure hilarity from start to finish, as Seth Rogen proves he can write a damn funny stoner flick. James Franco, formerly known to me only as Spiderman's modestly affeminate friend, clearly can pull of comedy without a hitch, and really tends to steal the show throughout the movie. With a gangsta rap soundtrack that highlights the faux seriousness of the film, the movie clearly establishes itself as the best stoner comedy ever made.

5. Wall-E

Here's the deal about Wall-E. What we have on the surface is just a simple kids movie. But as you delve deeper you realize that its the coolest kids movie ever. First off, the animation is top notch. The movie looks spectacular and crisp. I saw it on blue ray and I think my head almost exploded. Secondly, this movie, with next to no dialogue kept millions of children and adults not only paying attention, but fully satisfied. While the movie doesn't really say anything on a philosophical level, it's heartwarming, and enjoyable to watch, and last time I checked, there's nothing wrong with that.



So there you have it, the 5 best albums and movies of 2008. However one thing still remains. What could it possibly be? Everything good was accounted for!

Oh wait....

5 THINGS THAT SUCKED:

1. THE SPIRIT

I saw this movie a few days ago and nearly puked. Sitting in the theater, it dawned on me. I paid 10 dollars for no plot, made up noire style cliche sayings, and a glimpse of Eva Mendes' butt. I'm not even going to begin ranting, because I think that's going to require a post all its own, but I'll sum it up. In one scene, Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlet Johansen are seen examining a "genetic creation." This thing is just a little foot with a head on it that hops around and makes noises. All the while Samuel L. Jackson just keeps repeating, "This little guy is just damn wierd."

That's the scene. That's the core of it. There's no real greater purpose of that scene, it gives nothing to the plot.

But more on that entire mess sometime later this week.

2. Day & Age - The Killers

Clearly Brandon Flowers of The Killers isn't afraid to ask the hard questions in life.

"Are we human, or are we dancer?"

....Seriously?

That's about as deep as the lyrics go. That's it. Apparently it's a nod to some old film and blah blah blah blah at this point all I'm hearing is pretention. This album is one that stinks of a band that finds themselves to be legendary. In one song, Flowers sings as an alien looking down on the world, musing at how we live our lives. The album then flows into an absurd saxaphone solo on the song Joy Ride, and just never suceeds in being anything but pretentious, overly artsy, self obsessed crap.

3. Rod Blago-I'm-a-disgrace-to-Illinois

He tried to sell....the senate seat....vacated by....the most watched and followed man...in American politics.

Well at least he stepped down right?

Nope.

Well he didn't name a replacement for the senate seat did he?

Actually yeah he did.

Toolbag, thy name is Rod.

4. Semi Pro

Now I love Will Ferrel but I think I speak for the world when I say that the idea of a drunken, vulgar underdog athlete of some obscure sport, is no longer useable in films. Please start thinking of new things. And he did, Step Brothers was awesome. And at that, I'll let this dead horse stay dead.

5. 808's and Heartbreak - Kanye West

Now I've always been a big fan of Kanye, and I think that he just should've stuck to his original plan. He had College Dropout, Late Registration, Graduation, and he was going to follow it up with an album called Good-Ass Job. Instead, he withdrew from his plan to create this album of mediocre emotional rants. Every song on this album sounds identical as Kanye attempts to sing over basic drum machines (Known as 808s) and emote. Kanye winds up sounding like a whiner, and yet he still has managed to be applauded for this effort. People said that this is one of the most personal things they'd ever heard from Kanye, and quite honestly, I think thats a lie. If you look at any of Kanye's albums, he has personal songs in all of them. He's written songs about heartbreak, family, life, love, and death, and they've been good, yet somehow, when it sounds whiny, all of these are forgotten in lieu of this watered down garbage. Hopefully this is the last we hear of this style from Kanye, but if it's not, you can expect me not to be wasting my money on the next one.

So there's that. 2008. It was a pretty good year. Now onto 2009!