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Movie Review: Feed April 19, 2008

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If anyone remembers the famous gluttony scene in Se7en, Feed is two hours of that. Since Feed is based on true events, the movie could write itself. Unfortunately, the film is all over the place and never directly confronts the several societal topics floating about. Instead, the film relies heavily on grossing people out, and this boils down to lots of scenes of fat people sitting around being fat.
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Movie Review: Black Night April 19, 2008

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Whoever decided to create Black Night knew they could make a quick buck. These PanAsian films are all the rage, don’t you know? Movies like Three, Three…Extremes and, uh, Three…Extremes. It was only time until a new one emerged and here it is, featuring acclaimed directors like, uh, Takahiko Akiyama, um, Tanit Jitnukul and…Patrick Leung. Wait a minute, who the hell are these people? (more…)

Movie review: Brick April 19, 2008

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What is with society’s obsession with high school? Most people, at least to my knowledge, never speak highly of high school and are simply lucky they made it out alive. But of course, Hollywood sees things otherwise, and in their world high school is cheerleaders, jocks, football games and four glorious years. But to believe this fantasy the viewers need a suspension of disbelief…and that’s fine. After all, not everyone is a realist. What Brick does is take the contemporary, ordinary high school setting and dress it up in such a way to make it unenjoyable unless the viewer suspends their belief. So basically, Brick is your fantasy high school movie, but turned on its head. (more…)

Movie review: Burst City April 19, 2008

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Whenever you mention the name Sogo Ishii it’s a cardinal rule to also mention Tsukamoto and Miike – for obvious reasons anyway. Many of the trademark techniques that are praised of Tsukamoto and Miike was influenced by Ishii and Burst City is usually the example that is thrown around. Made in 1982 (and only recently getting a proper DVD release), it has never quite received its fair share of praise. (more…)

Movie review: Gemini April 19, 2008

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People always like to carry on about how different Gemini is to other Shinya Tsukamoto films. True, there are no frantic camera angles, disturbing social commentary on the human body or much violence, but if everyone used those guidelines when applying to Tsukamoto films he would be pigeonholed. And that’s never a good thing. We should be proud of our directors who step outside their comfort zone (if it’s done well, anyway), and luckily Tsukamoto succeeds.

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Movie review: Kamikaze Girls April 19, 2008

Posted by ashiah in old.
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Lately, it seems a lot of movies have been taking advantage of our generation’s short attention span. There have been a lot of movies (for example, “Survive Style 5+”) that rely on fast cuts, cartoonish characters and over the top colors and physical action. It’s like the equivalent of watching a two hour Fanta commercial. While many might find this distracting, it has a weird allure that makes the film more interesting than it really is. Even though the audience can predict what happens next, it is the strange characters and titillating eye candy that keeps them watching. (more…)

Music review: Yasushi Yoshida – Secret Figure April 19, 2008

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Noble records has made a good name for itself; it’s home to some of the best Japanese musicians working today. Because Yasushi Yoshida is the newest member of the Noble family, he instantly gets good press. Pre-orders for his debut album Secret Figure has been on the Dotshop charts for months now. It seems most people could care less if the album is actually good or not. He’s on Noble!

So with Yoshida’s comfortable spot at Noble, on first listen, the “best musicians in Japan club” doesn’t exactly shine through. Sure it’s all sparkly, pretty and typical for Noble, but when compared to people like World’s End Girlfriend, Yoshida doesn’t seem dynamic enough. On second listen, I stopped comparing Yoshida to others and just listened to the music for what it was. As a stand alone, the album comes to life (as cliched as that sounds). It’s a superb exploration of everyday sounds and emotional calmness.

Based on cinematic music, Secret Figure fuses the piano, guitar and violin with splashes of electronic beats. Opening track “Silent Park” begins with a dramatic piano solo and quietly a violin swoops in and builds the rest of the song. The next track, “Parade for Closure,” isn’t a real track and is basically just a warm up for “Parade,” another beautiful arrangement that relies on guitars and strings, carrying the song above our heads and beyond. “Chair Father” is a stand out track that starts off sad, then builds to give a sense of quiet hope.

The album pauses for a brief intermission with “Octave Leaves” and then eases back into the action with “Dance Piece,” which starts off somber and then kicks in with a loud bass and a piano immersed with strings. “Remembrance in Glass” is the most forgettable track, but luckily things pick up again with the best track, “Picture of Three Life.” The song, which starts off like early World’s End Girlfriend, begins with happy bleeps and bloops fused with joyous chimes; then the strings kick in and carry the song, while keeping the cute chimes in the background.

Yoshida has proven himself to be among like-minded people at Noble. If this is what his debut album sounds like, one could only dream where he’ll be next.

Movie review: Cache April 19, 2008

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Let’s get some of the major critiques of Cache out of the way:

1. It’s too slow
2. What’s the point?
3. The ending sucks!!!11 (as quoted from an IMDb poster)

Well, no one said Michael Haneke’s films were easy. Anyone who has seen The Piano Teacher should know what to expect. Haneke is known for showing complex characters in a simple light. It’s up to the viewer to decipher what to do with these characters and intelligently analyze their actions. Haneke is known for pulling out of his films too early and letting the subtleties speak for itself. This will naturally upset some people, but perhaps viewers should stop expecting the director to hold their hand and guide them along. (more…)

Music review: Dani Sciliano – Slappers April 19, 2008

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Siciliano never gets enough credit. Sure she’s mostly known for loaning her voice to Matthew Herbert’s music, but Siciliano is as talented a producer as she is a singer. When first popping in Slappers, many might roll their eyes at the amount of Herbert-ness flowing from the tracks. True, there are slight traces of Herbert here and there, but then again, there are slight traces of Siciliano in Herbert. The two influence each other, so it’s logical for this to happen.

But Slappers isn’t a Herbert album, which is probably what most are expecting. Siciliano is dynamic, personality wise, and exerts herself on every track with cocky sassiness and humor. One of the most amazing things about Siciliano is how her voice transcends genre. Slappers mostly relies on electronics, but often wanders into country and hip hop territory. Siciliano’s voice never sounds out of place and is always reigning the track, barking out the lyrics often coyly or Peaches-esque.

Opening track “Slappers” fittingly opens the album with a dynamic hip hop beat and then hops (pun intended) to “Didn’t Anybody Tell You,” a track that is fun to listen to, but easily forgettable. Stand out track “They Can Wait” is sinister and whisper-y one second, and then assertive the next. Apparently, all the beats on this track were taken from a recording of a high school and then fed through a drum kit.

“Why Can’t I Make You High” borrows a country beat and a catchy hook, while “Frozen” is a quiet, throwback trip-hop track. “Think Twice” is easily one of the best tracks, bursting into an array of bleeps and bloops and then shrinking back inside itself. “Wifey” is a glitch explosion that chops Siciliano’s vocals in interesting ways. Closer, “Be My Producer,” is an inside joke between Siciliano and Herbert. The track, which was entirely produced by her and uses only her voice to supply the beat, openly mocks the sexual relationship between singer and producer.

Slappers is a surprisingly accessible album and could easily be a club hit if she was, ya know, Britney Spears. She might not get the credit, but it’s hard to ignore good talent.

Movie review: Tsotsi April 19, 2008

Posted by ashiah in old.
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Tsotsi won the Oscar for best foreign film and now is forever engraved into the “That won an Oscar? It was good, but not that good” hall of fame. In some sense the critics are right. On one hand, there’s no reason not to like this film. The storytelling is compelling, emotional and well-acted. Unfortunately, it’s a bit cliched. (more…)