Zombie Politics

I drank your milkshake.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Don't Act Like I Never Told Ya



This video is amazing. Kanye is amazing. Daft Punk is amazing. And the album is probably, by all calculations, going to be amazing.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Killer Remix



A Rage Against the Machine classic, as re-worked by French disco master (and filmmaker) Mr. Oizo. Possibly the remix of the year, thus far. It's fucking batshit crazy, too.

And here it is for your pleasure!

Enjoy.

Is There a Third Option?




Live Free or Die Hard (from hereon out I'll simply call it Die Hard 4.0 because conceptually and thematically that title works much, much better) is a truly awful mess of a movie. People keep asking me if there's any redeeming quality to the movie, and I confessed there were a couple of good shots during a few of the action sequences, but considering the severe lack of originality, I'm sure they appeared elsewhere before (one reminded me of that sweet over-the-motorcycle shot from Paycheck, and Paycheck was a pretty terrible movie). When you long for the glory days of Paycheck, you know the movie you're watching is dreadful.

Another good thing is that guy who played Han in Fast and the Furious: Toyko Drift was in it. I really like that guy (and I liked that movie even more - Sonny Chiba as the Yakuza godfather? BRILLIANT.)

All the flaws of Die Hard 4.0 can be traced back to a single fundamental truth: doing stuff on the computer is fucking boring. No amount of jazzy editing (trust me, there's tons) or artificial graphics (computer hacking in real life never has the same level of gee-whiz high speed hijinks it has in the movies, but mercifully the 'zooming through the internet' shots from the script have been abandoned) can make people typing on a keyboard interesting. Why they decided to build an entire movie around it, much less a Die Hard movie, is beyond me. It's almost as if Hackers, The Net, Antitrust, Firewall, and that Instant Message conversation in Closer, taught us nothing. It's just laughable. Could there be anything less threatening than “cyber terrorists?” Oh yes there could, and his name is Timothy Olyphant.

He's pretty much the worst villain ever, even worse than the naked yoga guy from Die Hard 2: Die Harder. I think you can actually feel him becoming a terrible actor as the movie trudges forward. And that's not to say Olyphant is terrible all the time, he's actually been quite good, in stuff like Go, Scream 2, and Dreamcatcher (guilty pleasure). But my god, he seems to redefine the term “wooden” with this one.

Other things that are groan-inducing about Die Hard 4.0:

Its seeming never-ending running time

The fact that the climax is ripped off from True Lies, with a little bit of Mission: Impossible 3 thrown in for good measure

Them slapping around Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who I love

The awful dubbing that looks about as convincing as a TNT broadcast of Pulp Fiction (and everyone claimed they “shot it as a PG-13”)

Maggie Q as the femme fatale, proving once more that if you are Asian, you automatically know karate

The villains, who had different European accents but everyone understood everyone else and no backstory was given for any of them

Marco Beltrami's bland-as-fuck score ripping off cues from the first movie

Kevin Smith's cameo

Bruce Willis' creepily stalking his daughter

The ever-changing Bruce Willis head-scars

Timothy Olyphant's elaborate office space in the back of his big rig truck

and the best part ever...

That John McClane, who is not only an alcoholic (the third movie) but incredibly afraid of flying (the first two movies), pilots a helicopter like he downloaded the instructions into his brain a la The Matrix.

Len Wiseman has got to rest alongside Paul W.S. Anderson as one of the worst working directors in Hollywood. And I say working because, bafflingly, he keeps getting hired to do stuff. This is an ugly movie. Gone are any hint of the sheen he brought to the Underworld movies (which I also hate), with their deep, velveteen blacks and purples. This movie's color pallet is grey. That's it. Everything looks washed out, worn, and miserable. And that's how you'll feel, too, when you leave the theater.

Ugh.

Thank you, Fox, for continuing your trend of milking franchises long past their expiration date and putting them in the hands of talent-less hacks. This film will now proudly be placed alongside Alien vs. Predator, Garfield: Tale of Two Kitties, Ice Age 2: The Meltdown, Elektra, X-Men 3: The Last Stand, and, most recently, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

Goddamn, these movies blow.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Actual Politics (Finally)



Why does he look younger than me?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Criterion Finally Releasing Stuff Worth Buying



After a long and boring year of Criterion releasing deluxe packages of long and boring movies, comes this, which is very, very good news.

Also, there's going to be some Jim Jarmusch movies coming out around the same time, which is also quite excellent (and also expensive).

Now if only they could get around to finally finishing that Game DVD they've been promising for years...

Friday, June 15, 2007

You Will Believe A Rat Can Cook




Wow.

Ratatouille is just as mind-blowingly great as I’d been hoping it would be. When it was announced that Brad Bird would be taking over as writer-director (after the movie languished for more than three years with little progress – the original director quit Pixar after being replaced) my excitement for the project intensified greatly. Given the rather abysmal summer movie season thus far, Ratatouille shone as the great home for some summer fun in the theater. It has delivered in all those surprising, sweet, wonderful ways that we’ve come to expect from Pixar and (more specifically) Brad Bird.

The basic premise of the film is about a rat from the country who wants to be a chef and through a series of events is dramatically relocated to the sewers underneath his favorite restaurant. That’s about all I want to tell you, and about all that the teaser, trailer, 9-minute-internet-and-TiVo-preview tell you, and that’s because the movie takes some hilarious twists and turns and its subtext and storyline are much richer and engrossing. I wouldn’t want to ruin that for a minute.

I will say that the performances in this movie are the best I’ve ever seen in any animated film. Remy the rat (voiced wonderfully by standup comedian Patton Oswald) is perhaps the most impressive animated character ever brought to life on screen. And I’m not saying that because I was dazzled by the way he looked or moved during the movie, I’m saying that because I was utterly rooting for him, lost in just how much you care for the little guy with the big, big dreams.

At the end of the credits, there’s this logo that’s something to the effect of “100 % Motion Capture Free: No Short Cuts to Performances Here!” which was kind of a bold, upfront proclamation. A lot has been said in the animation community recently about just how “animated” animated movies are if they use performance capture (the technology of using actors’ performances to aid in the animation process. This has been used in recent films like Polar Express, Monster House, and most controversially Happy Feet, which won the Oscar over Cars, a movie that instead used actual character animation. I loved how in-your-face this was, even if it was tucked away at the end of the credits, especially because Disney just acquired Robert Zemeckis’ new performance capture studio, possibly for the long rumored John Carter of Mars project.

[See Conan demonstrate motion capture, hilariously, here.]

The film is prefaced by a unique teaser for Wall-E, Pixar’s animated movie from next summer which sounds just as intriguing and unique as Ratatouille: it’s about a garbage collecting robot on a desolate Earth in the far future who falls in love. Yup. Pretty weird. Pretty amazing. The teaser is just a brief introduction by the film’s director, Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo) where he talks about the project before being shown some brief visuals and the film’s logo (with the chirpy, electronic “Wall-E voice” saying his name). This movie’s going to be a tough sell but once people realize how special it’s going to be, there shouldn’t be any problem. Then there’s “Lifted,” a hilarious but too-brief short about a kind of driving school for aliens, except it’s not cars their driving but people they’re abducting.

By the end of the movie if your heart isn’t filled with absolute joy, you probably should get checked out – you’re a robot. Brad Bird solidifies his place as one of the greatest living filmmakers with this film, staging action sequences with the wit and dexterity of Robert Zemeckis and using the camera as well as Alfonso Cuaron or David Fincher (much of the movie is seen from Remy’s height). The way he writes, the way he cuts, it just left me breathless and totally engaged. This movie lives up to every expectation I had and surpasses all of them. Ratatouille is a new classic – and you’ll savor every minute.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Franz Ferdinand @ Bowery Ballroom 06.13.07



It's no secret that Franz Ferdinand is one of my favorite bands on the planet (that has guitars), so when I actually scored tickets last week to their exclusive Bowery Ballroom show I was beyond ecstatic (I was supra-static).

The show was last night and I must say, yet again, they totally brought it. And by "it" I mean very nice dress shirts (even though lead singer/author Alex Kapranos worried his red shirt clashed with his guitar - before pointing out his bandmate's even-more-ridiculous attire).

The last time I saw these well-groomed Scotsman they were at the cavernously huge Hammerstein Ballroom (on a double-bill with Death Cab for Cutie… yeah, I don’t get it either - how a huge dance party could turn into moping about your ex-girlfriend), so this was a real treat. At one point Alex Kapranos leaned out to the crowd and marveled that he could actually speak to us without the use of a microphone. He was kind of baffled (and handsome).

They played a bunch of new songs, all of which were absolutely, positively AMAZING. The new album is supposed to go in a more synth pop direction, and some of these new songs showcased that in full effect (y'all). One song had to have two people on the drums, which made it sound kind of like “Beware of the Dog” as remixed by Justice, and another one called “Turn It On” (I think) sounded like a male-fronted Dragonette. YEAH. It was that flavor of mind blowing (mint chocolate chunk). The only way I could get more excited about the new album is if Timbaland was involved somehow (he’s not).

In addition to the killer new tunes they rocked their stable of already-classics like “Michael,” “Do You Want To,” “Matinee,” etc. (I was kind of drunk) and closed the set with album #2 closer “The Outsiders.” Kapranos did his cock of the walk, Jaggeresque preening and the rest of the band just danced around, played their guitars or drums and looked really cool. The set was on the short side (but still long enough so I hate to take the late-ass train home) but they made the most of every moment. They are, without a doubt, totally awesome.

[For pictures that don't look like they were taken on a twelve year old cell phone camera, go to Brooklyn Vegan.]

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Zzzzzzzzzzzzz



The title of this post is my official review.

I Called It



Last week my first article for the Fairfield Weekly independent newspaper was published. In it, I gave a rundown of my favorite summer records (this was before I had heard the wonderful new Dizzee Rascal album) and I talk about Justice's album (of course). You can read it here.

In the article I said that would be a dance record to score Pitchfork indie cred. And today, what do I see on Pitchfork but the all important Best New Music tag! What am I, psychic? Or just insanely handsome? Or both? (Read Pitchfork's typically wordy and annoying review here.)

The bottom line remains: is amazing.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Now THAT Is An Album Cover (Is it?)



Lot going on there, huh?

Justice's BBC Essential Mix (It's Essential)



Justice did an amazing Essential Mix for the BBC over the weekend and here it is.

One of the best Essential Mixes I've ever heard. Really, really great (they played my favorite Mr. Oizo song, so how could I not love it?)

This mix did raise a few questions, though.

1.) When is the Midnight Juggernauts full length coming out? I can hardly wait!

2.) Ditto for the new Scenario Rock. Me wanty.

3.) Who knew the Buggles had another good song besides "Video Killed the Radio Star?"

4.) Has anyone else ever heard that Prince song? It was dynamite! [UPDATE: It's mislabeled on the track list. It's called "Housequake" from Sign O The Times and it's genius. Momentary lapse in logic/memory. Excuse me. Nothing to see here.]

5.) How great is Disco Stuart's "Sometimes?" SO GREAT!

6.) Are the Sebastian remix of The Fields' "If We Fail We Fail" and Mr. Oizo's remix of Jamelia's "Something About You" actually the same song?

7.) What's the deal with John from Cincinnati?

Hope you all enjoy. Track list below.

***

Earth Wind And Fire ‘In The Stone’
Janet Jackson ‘What Have You Done For Me Lately’
Prince ‘Earthquake’
Dmx Crew ‘Unknown’
Daft Punk :’Musique’
Busy P ‘Rainbow Man’
France Gall ‘Musique’
Justice ‘Valentine’
Alan Braxe ‘In Love With You’
M83 ‘Run Into Flowers (Jackson Remix)’
Les Rythmes Digitales ‘Sometimes’
I Robot ‘Spacer Frau (Boys Noize Remix)’
Hall And Oates ‘Private Eyes’
Chromeo ‘Tenderoni’
Tepr ‘Minuit Jacuzzi (Data Remix)
Chic ‘Everybody Dance’
Midnight Juggernauts ‘Shadows’
Goose ‘Bring It On’
The Proxy ‘Destroy’
Zongamin ‘Double Dostiev’
Zombie Nation ‘Tape Me’
Boule Noire ‘Super Lady’
Chemical Brothers ‘It Doesn’t Matter’
Tc Crew ‘Unknown’
Surkin ‘Unknown’
Dj Mehdi ‘Lucky Boy (Surkin Remix)’
Vamp ‘Outlander’
Fields ‘Unknown (Sebastian Remix)’
Feadz ‘Sekstyle’
Jamelia ‘Something About You (Mr Oizo Remix)’
Jesse Velez ‘Fire’
Justice ‘D.A.N.C.E’.(Live Version)
Surkin ‘Radio Fireworks’
Soundhack ‘Freakin’
Justice ‘Stress’
Zzt ‘Lower States’
Justice ‘Stress’
Scenario Rock ‘Both Gotta Move On’
Vanessa Paradis ‘Be My Baby’
The Ronettes ‘Be My Baby’
Breakbot ‘Happy Rabbit’
Jacques Dutronc ‘Les Cactus’
Justice ‘Dvno’
Kavinsky ‘Testarossa Autodrive’
LFO ‘Freak’
Mr Oizo ‘Lotus Suite Koln’
Autorepeat ‘Most Keys Are Auto Repeat’ (Soundhack)
Midnight Juggernauts ‘Into The Galaxy’
Buggles ‘Elstree’
Das Pop ‘Underground’
Gilbert O Sullivan ‘Alone Again (Naturally)’
Human League ‘Things That Dreams Are Made Of’
Savas Pascalidis ‘Defend It’
Rainbow Brothers ‘Unknown’
Chromeo ‘Ah Oui Comme Ca’
Leonard De Leonard ‘Leonizer’
Ian Pooley ‘Chord Memory –(Daft Punk Mix)’
Human League ‘Don’t You Want Me’
The Prodigy ‘Girls’
Klaxons ‘Gravity’s Rainbow (Soulwax Remix)’
Paraone ‘Liege’
Daniel Balavoine ‘Vivre Ou Survivre’
Miss Kittin ‘Requiem For A Hit (Gegm Remix)’
Mr Oizo ‘Stunt’
Handycap ‘Murphy’
The Rave ‘Mother’
Fancy ‘Inside Of You’
Syreeta Wright ‘Sweet As Candy’
Modest Mussorgsky ‘Night On A Bald Mountain’
Joni Mitchell ‘California’

Friday, June 08, 2007

New M.I.A. Pictures to Make Your Friday That Much More Awesome







That is all.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

How'd I Miss This?



I feel like I watched the MTV Movies Awards nine times in a row on Sunday night but I never saw this performance which is, in a word, incredible. I was probably really drunk. Wait, no.

She's seven types of adorable, that Rihanna.

Warren Peace



For some reason I haven’t talked about Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 comic book series, which have all been written (so far) by series mastermind/dark lord Joss Whedon. I’m not sure, why, exactly, because they are really amazing.

The last issue of the initial “Long Way Home” arc was pretty good, although my main complaint is with the art. Considering we’re supposed to recognize characters, some of whom have been gone from the show for years and years (the series finale aired more than four years ago), it’s imperative that there’s at least a passing resemblance between the actor and what’s portrayed on the page. Often time this falls flat, which leads to much confusion on the part of the reader (me) and a less thrilling, immersing experience.

Where the comic soars is in the writing (duh). There was a point in issue 2 when Andrew's giving a speech about Billy Dee Williams' bell-bottoms in Empire Strikes Back when I almost teared up with joy. It was just so good to see these characters again and hear them talk in such a familiar, unique way. Just outstanding.

The shows-topping moment in issue 4 is in its final pages, which mix the feminist themes of the show with an entirely new take on the mythology (including the origin of the Slayers). Quite shocking. In a way, this cliffhanger moment (which I'm not going to discuss - it hit the comic shops yesterday, for crying out loud!) was as paradigm-shifting (for the entire Buffy-verse) and important as the breathtaking, heartbreaking Lost finale, which is really saying something.

Also, bringing back a skinless Warren as a big bad/boyfriend for Amy was absolute genius.

After this there’ll be a one-off written by Joss in August followed by the “Faith in London” arc by Runaways and Y: The Last Man mastermind Brian K. Vaughn, followed by the undisclosed Tokyo-based arc by series writer “Ultimate” Drew Goddard.

Is there a more exciting title in comic book-dom right now? Didn’t think so.

Lucky Number Thirteen



Movie Review - Ocean's Thirteen

I loved it. I really did.

There will be critical backlash, I’m sure. They’ll call it self indulgent (a “trifle” is what something like The New Yorker is sure to dub it), but it’s pretty upfront about it’s silliness.

The movie’s color scheme is roughly that of a bag of Skittles (at one point a character shows up dressed like the casino), all bright greens and oranges, and that’s telling: Steven Soderbergh, whose made a very rich career out of exploring the artfulness of artifice, creates an irrepressibly fizzy crime world fantasia, with David Holmes’ magnificent electro-funk score making sure that we’re in full-on party mode.

This is a revenge heist, as one character puts it, and you can feel that Soderbergh and company are chomping at the bit for redemption, after the critically panned and lethargic Ocean’s Twelve (aka Ocean’s Eleven’s European Vacation). They’re back baby: lean, mean, funny, and above all else wildly, wildly fun (Al Pacino shouldn't even feel guilty about hamming it up here!)

Unlike most caper movies where the suspense comes from whether or not the villains are going to get away with the con, the Ocean’s movies, at their best, are built around the tension-filled question of how fucking cool are they going to look doing it? As it turns out, very.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Most Unnecessary DVD Reissue of All Time?



Maybe.

I saw a little bit of this movie on TV recently and was amazed at how violent it was. Also, there's a great montage where Arnold and lil' Alissa Milano feed a wild deer, then several minutes later he's slashing all these guys' throats and knifing people and stuff. Pretty fucking awesome. I should change the title of this post to Most Necessary DVD Reissue of All Time!

Dragonette Continues Getting Brillianter



Okay, so that’s the sleeve for the new Dragonette single, “Take It Like a Man.” It’s one of the best songs on the album, sort of like every other song on the album and every song they perform live and all the clothes that they wear. (They are very amazing.) Even though their first single “I Get Around” is stupendous it failed to make a dent in the UK pop charts (which is sort of like a pop music Thunderdome – ask poor cute Rachel Stevens), stalling at some unbelievably low position. Still, they persevere! It’s the Canadian way! Or something!

There’s an Alan Braxe and Fred Falke remix on one of the versions of the single (I’m guessing 12” – vinyl is where great French dance remixes live) that almost brought me to tears. It’s that good. It may be their best remix since they turned Kelis’ “Bossy” into a gay club anthem.

In fact, I’d post the song right here if I knew how to do things like “post songs.” Sorry. If you want it, email me @ DTaylor246@aol.com.

Oh – and they’ve even made a great new video for “Take It Like a Man”, one that has Martina bringing sexy back while shamelessly ripping off Boogie Nights! How could you not love them, record-buying public?



Pre-order single

Pre-order album (DO IT!!!!)

Also, thanks to Popjustice for everything, like inspiring this post.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Concession Stand



So, everyone loves Knocked Up. Everyone. Especially Max. He left me a nasty comment after my review and we talked last night. He called it the best American comedy since Wet Hot American Summer. I love me some Wet Hot American Summer and Max is a really smart dude. So I wanted to be completely honest and say that when I wrote the review I was really sick and in a horrible mood. In fact, over the weekend, I kept thinking of little bits of the movie (like the bouncer at the club) and chuckling to myself. It was far from awful, I just found it somewhat lacking. When I see it again, I’ll write a follow-up review. Still, I stand by what I said and want to articulate some of my biggest problems with it:

1.) It was too fucking long. Yes, so was Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. But unlike Pirates, which had cool shit like rocks that turned into crabs and squid-men and a leather-faced Keith Richards and a giant whirlpool sea battle, Knocked Up just had dudes sitting around bitching about women or getting stoned. This is all well and good, but keep it under the 90-minute mark, please.

2.) The more I think about it, the more I really believe that Judd Apatow is West Coast Kevin Smith. They both lean on the crutch of pop culture references a little too often (although Kevin Smith’s usage is more masterful and subtle); both film their movies straightforwardly; and both are deeply obsessed with human sexuality, down to its more graphic intricateness. We’ll see how Apatow matures as a filmmaker, and if he makes anything even approaching the greatness of Dogma or the emotional power of Chasing Amy.

3.) Seth Rogan is a lousy lead. He’s fat and obnoxious and has an underbite. He’s a great second banana, and should stay there. In the second banana mobile, which is the sidecar for those old time-y motorcycles.

4.) Hostel: Part II is going to be amazing. Unrelated.

That’s it for now. I am willing to watch the movie again with an open mind but I doubt I’ll ever think it’s as good as Wet Hot American Summer, if only because of the irreverence and almost surreal quality of that film. It really went for it. Knocked Up, by comparison, just plays by the rules. Safe, sound, the kind of “vulgar comedy” your parents can enjoy. Snooze.

Friday, June 01, 2007

C'mon already!



Do we really have to wait until August for M.I.A.'s KALA? Seriously?

Here's a look/listen at one of the new songs, "Bamboo Banger," from Radio 1's Big Weekend:



And new single "Boyz," which is just killer (from the same show):



It's going to be a long wait... until the eventual leak, that is.