Monday, February 29, 2016

James Bond Songs

Music is the most subjective thing on Earth, and it seems the proof I need is just to see what each people think of each Bond song. Most people generally agree on which Bond movies were the good Bond movies, but nobody can agree on the songs though. But there were some general agreements to where I came to the conclusion that I guess I have weird, yet specific music tastes. I've never seen a list I agree with when it comes to music, but sometimes it can be nice to see a list on music that you don't normally listen to from somebody who actually knows what they're talking about(like, maybe K-pop).

I think music might be the thing I'm most knowledgeable about, which is not saying much because I don't feel that smart about it. I can explain basic music theory, I can play guitar by basically imitating what I hear, and I like to hear all of the different parts in a song to see how they all fit together. But it's nowhere near the knowledge of that one guy I linked who likes K-pop for some reason(seriously, there's something he's sees in that music that I just don't, but it's nice that he's able to point out songs that I can actually like).

So, I do feel like I can have some sort of authoritative voice when it comes to good music because I'm starting to become familiar with why I like the songs that I do. Whenever I've seen other lists of James Bond songs, they only could get into the surface level stuff like "Oh, this singer sounds screechy" or "man, these lyrics don't make any sense" but there's a lot more to it than that. I feel like some people are missing a lot of things when they just focus on these superficial elements.

So, here's my list of what I think is good James Bond music. And yes, we're going through every one of them because I honestly can't believe how much I don't agree with other people.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Best Movies of 2015

I usually do a video for this but I never gave myself time to do one and I actually didn't see as many movies as I usually do for this year. So, the list is going to be shorter.

Also, maybe I should just mention that the movies that end up as being my favorites are usually the ones that I have something interesting to say because it resonated with me in some way. So, maybe a movie like Creed could be better than most of the movies I liked from last year, but they were movies that I just simply liked better or movies that I have something a little more interesting to say about them. This isn't some sort of definitive list where I calculate the best movies that'll be remembered as classics. This is just simply a list of movies that I remembered liking.

But, other movies I did like that aren't on this list for completely arbitrary reasons are Creed, Mad Max: Fury Road, A Bridge of Spies, and Inside Out.

So, here we go!

5. Antman

After Marvel proving that they can properly do an Avengers movie, still give Iron Man fresh air even after two movies, and make the biggest blockbuster summer hit from a bunch of characters nobody's ever heard of, it seems like the second Avengers movie would just be a safe bet that it would be as great as we secretly hoped it would be. And, while good, the big surprise came from making a good movie out of a superhero character that people probably knew but nobody cares about. Maybe due to ideas that Edgar Wright had that were taken after he left the project, but the overall enjoyment came from being a light, simple, fun action romp after what felt like that the Avengers 2 may not have been as great as we'd hope it'd be.

Antman isn't exactly Guardians of the Galaxy and it's nowhere near the excitement that was the first Avengers, but it was exactly what we needed.

4. The Martian

How much of an achievement can it be that they made an exciting film from hard science fiction that also manages to be a fun space adventure? It's pretty great that it's not only just a good film that advocates science and space travel, but that it does so in a way that can entertain anyone.

I'm not sure if I'm as high on The Martian bandwagon as others may be, but it's definitely worth a mention especially after Christopher Nolan's last attempt at whatever he was trying to do with Interstellar.

And I guess the big takeaway that I can get from this movie is that it's, apparently, possible to live off of potatoes...something that I don't want to test.


Still, it's pretty good.

3. The Hateful Eight

Are there any bigger, broader messages at play in this film? Perhaps about racism, sexism, and maybe the way this country is tearing itself apart due to hatred? Was a bit too on the nose when they were all stuck in the cabin and decided to pretend that each section is a part of the US that a person can stay in so they could leave each other alone?

Answer: Yeah, probably.

But, with all of that said, it's also just a great and engaging flick. Honestly, probably my new favorite Tarantino movie that stands up with Reservoir Dogs and Inglourious Basterds. Mostly because it has all of the things I like from a Tarantino movie. He does conflict through dialogue well, it's sharp witted and darkly funny, and, even if you know that the characters are just the most fucking despicable people you'll ever see on screen, I couldn't help but be engaged.

What makes it interesting is that it's more like a staged play than anything else in Tarantino's filmography. The entire movie basically takes place in a cabin that everybody is stuck in. That doesn't sound all that engaging, but Tarantino's masterful eye towards cinematography and editing as well as his keen ear towards unique dialogue makes makes this nearly three hour epic go by in a blink of an eye.

And, in regards to what this movie might be trying to say...well, I read Tarantino's original script after I saw the movie. Tarantino went back to rewrite it after it got leaked on the internet. I'm glad that I didn't read the script before seeing the movie but I'm really glad that Tarantino not only came back with a better script, he came back with a message. Most movies come out better and memorable when they have more to say. So, in that way, I'm kind of glad that whole incident happened.

2. Ex Machina

Pretty much the good "feel-bad" movie of the year. It's a movie that uses the Turing Test as a basis and it shows why we might be a little too overly excited in having AI robots indistinguishable from Humans. It's interpretation isn't exactly an optimistic answer and it'll definitely make some people feel bad about the turn of events the story eventually takes, but it will definitely stick with the viewer for a long time.

Without spoiling anything, the movie isn't against science or messing with things humans may not be capable of understanding(thank god), but it uses the whole device to explore a part of humanity that will make people feel uncomfortable. Sometimes, people's painfully human desires will get the best of them, especially if we live in a world where nobody wants to understand that.

1. Kingsman: The Secret Service

Matthew Vaughn is definitely one of the best action directors working today, but there's nothing quite like having a film go through whiplashes between cartoony, extreme violence while balancing some heavy drama and some more subdued action scene only to come around to a fancy dinner movie involving food from McDonalds.

I always have to feel like I really have to justify why I think this movie is as special as it is. Sure, it's a sort of parody on James Bond and points out all of the silly things that Bond is known for, but those kinds of movies are a dime a dozen. Except that this movie somehow manages to embody all of Bond's tropes to not just criticize them, but to excel at them. Sort of showing that James Bond isn't as fun as it could be(which is honestly a bold statement to make).

But James Bond never really amounted to much as far as "great art" is concerned. Even if the better Bond movies are some of the better action movies to ever come out. How about a movie that has some audacious things to say about the upper class? A movie that points out that the rich would happily leave everyone to die so long as they're guaranteed protection. Maybe a bit preachy, maybe a bit much, but the pay off is an absolute roar.

The point of comparison I have with this movie is The LEGO Movie of all movies. Sharp in wit, highly self aware, yet incredibly fun, engaging, and smart. There isn't exactly a movie I enjoyed more than Kingsman for this year and I had a blast. 

Hell, if nothing else, I hope the people behind Spectre can look at this and rethink their lives.

It's also worth noting that this is kind of a really weird movie. The opening scene is played so straight only to have it bounce around from "holy crap, look how fun it is to be James Bond" to "but this is still serious stuff." The fact that it all works and remains engaging is mind boggling.

So, no, I really have no problem in saying that, yes, Kingsman: The Secret Service is that good.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Is There Life on Mars?

I don't think I'm exaggerating  when I say that no one expected this. I mean, here's a tweet on his birthday, two days before he died.

Of course, the tweet I displayed was a slight joke. We all knew that David Bowie wasn't God. That would be silly.  Sure, he made great music, was a great actor where he was able to make his own inherent strangeness work to his benefit, and was just a seemingly great guy. Hell, when was the last time we had a great artist that people were still talking about in a positive light before the person died?

But, even behind the jokiness of David Bowie being God, perhaps it kind of wasn't a joke either.

This is what makes it difficult for a lot of us. To me, Bowie never really seemed to be from this world. But, it kind of feels normal to think of him that way as well. I've read pieces about how Bowie got by in the industry by being weird. He was a bit of androgynous figure who created weird, off-beat, yet, fascinating music. Who else would perfectly embody the role known as The Goblin King and completely own up to it while still have everybody love him?

Maybe we just all started to believe that he was some sort of alien after he made an album about sort of being one. Who else could do a whole album like The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars, a rock opera involving a messenger travelling through space with space lasers and space invaders? Out of context, this all seems weird and very out there. But, within the context of David Bowie, it's all very awesome.

And that's not even including the other great albums and songs he did. I only really having a passing familiarity with his albums, but there are quite a few songs I liked by him. So much so that this what I wrote about him a year ago when I talked about my top five favorite artists.

"No matter what this guy does, it's at least always interesting. He branches off into a lot of different kinds of sounds and a lot of them are just winners. Even his more pop sounding stuff is immensely listenable compared to other artists. His songs you probably hear on the radio like Modern Love and Let's Dance are honestly quite great, but his quieter and even more "quirky" songs are what really stand out for me."

This was the song I used to represent him.

It's not quite something I can fully describe or comprehend. I could probably tell you how this song was constructed and why it works really well. But how someone could conceive anything like that? It would already take someone special like David Bowie.

Don't ask me to rank my favorite songs of his or my favorite album(I already feel too critical of The Beatles just by having a favorite album by them[Rubber Soul]); it's really hard to have to rank an artist's work when each of his pieces are already great in their own unique way.

So very special. So very unique. What else could he be besides an alien?

And I think that's what makes it difficult for a lot of us. If anybody were immortal, it would have to be David Bowie.  Someone we could call God and kind of be sincere about it. Someone we could call an awesome space alien from Mars and we wouldn't even have to think twice about it.


Because there was no one else like David Bowie.

The only thing that would humanize Bowie is if something happened to him that every human has to face eventually. Death...

David Bowie was just as human as the rest of us, something that most of us probably forgot or refused to even realize.

David Bowie wasn't the immortal we all secretly thought he was, but...well, I don't know what else I can add to that sentence. I've tried finishing that sentence before, but I can't. I'm not sure how to finish it without sounding maudlin. Losing David Bowie is a loss I don't think we can ever recover from.

I don't think I can say it better than Todd in the Shadows can

Or Carrie Brownstein

Or Jen Kirkman

Or, really, a lot of people.

Now...I guess the only thing we secretly hope for now is that David Bowie didn't die, he just went back home. Because I know I'll never be able to accept the truth.