Watch the ‘Orange is the New Black’ Season 2 Trailer

Posted in Trailer Park, TV on April 17th, 2014 by Nick

ointb-season-2-laura-preponIt only took a glorious 1 minute and 30 seconds for me to remember why I love, miss, and anticipate the return of Netflix’s insanely addicting  Orange is the New Black. The Season 2 trailer packs quite a punch. A former nemesis of Red’s returns to the prison, Piper is ready to play nice (or so it seems), and Crazy Eyes, Laura Prepon, Natasha Lyonne, and Morello all show face! There are so many reasons to go back to prison.

Just ask Taystee.

Watch the trailer below and get sentenced June 6 – only on Netflix.

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Epic Film Quest: ‘Gigi’ and (ugh) France

Posted in Epic Film Quest! on April 16th, 2014 by Nick

Poster - Gigi_01If a friend or reader was going to try to follow my footsteps in the trek to watch every single Best Picture winner in the history of forever, I would probably advise that they sell their TV, slap themselves in the face, and run away from home. Regardless, this blogger is trudging forward and probably isn’t any better for it.

The latest Best Picture winner I watched: Gigi, the winner from 1958. The film is set in turn-of-the-century Paris, France as a young girl, Gigi, is trying to find her bearings among high society. She’s sent to her Great Aunt’s swank pad to learn etiquette and charm, so that she can eventually marry a rich man and be his arm candy. Gigi starts keeping the company of a family friend (token rich guy) Gaston and YOU’LL NEVER GUESS WHAT HAPPENS NEXT, OMG!

Despite the life that Leslie Caron brought to the role of Gigi, I’m indifferent to the film. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. And these are the worst movies to write about! Because nothing is more fun than ripping apart a movie you loathe (Out of Africa) or raving about one you loved (All About Eve), but these middle-of-the-road-types? Meh.  I will say, though, that Gigi is a musical and every single song is entirely forgettable. So there’s that. What else? Oh, yeah. FRANCE, UGH.

There are two themes/settings I struggle with in film – one is period pieces, and the second, France. Which isn’t to say that I despise all period pieces – I don’t. But something about France rubs me the wrong way, even in film. Maybe this feeling stems from going there and it sucking. I fully intend on never visiting France ever again. Sure, I’m glad I’ve been to the Louvre and saw the Eiffel Tower and yada, yada, yada, tourism stuff, but there is absolutely no reason to return. Because Italy. If you love being treated like garbage because you don’t speak French and are in a strange city, you should totally check it out. It sucks when stereotypes become reality, and I won’t generalize here, but the French people that I personally encountered for that week of my life were less than friendly. (The few late night strolls and boat rides we did around the city were pretty amazing though.)

Sorry for that aside. It’s just that there is nothing even remotely interesting about Gigi to discuss except that the music sucked…and so does France.

Grade: C-

Almost every movie I have left on my quest is at least seven hours long. Things are about to get bumpy. If there’s a REALLY GOOD Best Pic winner that I haven’t covered yet, please send me your recommendations. I could really use an upper right about now, chased with a nice tall glass of motivation.

Next up: Gandhi and The Deer Hunter

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Now Streaming: ‘Short Term 12’ Starring Brie Larson

Posted in Movies on April 15th, 2014 by Nick

Short Term 12 Brie Larson and Keith StanfieldEver since her breakthrough as Kate Gregson on the underappreciated Showtime series United States of Tara, we knew there was something special about Brie Larson. She handled the naivety and whimsy of a teenage girl like a boss, maintaining likability despite the character’s flightiness and poor decision-making, while also conveying emotion in her wide, commanding eyes with no more than a blink. Not only did she adeptly achieve Tara’s tricky “dramedic” tone in her performance, but Larson also held her own against some top-notch vets like Toni Collette and Rosemarie DeWitt.

In last year’s beloved (and Oscar-snubbed) critical darling Short Term 12, Larson continues her rise as Grace, a twenty-something supervisor at a foster-care facility for at-risk teens. Grace is firm yet passionate; a remarkably able caretaker for the children mostly stemming from her own past experiences, which she keeps buried deep ShortTerminside. She dates her long-term boyfriend and co-worker Mason (The Newsroom’s John Gallagher, Jr.) who is the dynamic Mr. Niceguy she so very needs, but struggles to open up to. When a new resident moves into the facility, a young teen girl named Jayden who may be getting abused by her dad, Grace’s foundation begins to crack. But will she be able to face her past?

Throughout the film’s 97-minute run, we gradually meet the other kids living in Grace’s unit. Almost 18-year-old Marcus is scared to leave and still coping with his torturous past, while Sammy, a seemingly disturbed child with an unhealthy attachment to dolls, tries to escape the ward repeatedly. Their stories and traumas are heartbreaking and difficult to watch. Presented as separate arcs weaved in between the main narrative, writer-director Destin Daniel Cretton captures powerful moments as if we’re flies on the wall naturally witnessing these events.

When new-guy Nate starts his first day working at the care center, Mason’s stories help further establish their lives: besides the gut-wrenching pain the children and workers face on a daily basis, there’s also humor, drama, empathy and loyalty to be had. It’s a colorful emotional spectrum that never lets up on its realism and never panders toward the positive when things get too heavy.

When Jayden arrives at the center, she is a snotty – albeit, smart – little brat, but what inducts Grace and her colleagues into sainthood is the level they go to help the kids ride through the ups and downs of life’s bullshit and pain. As a result of helping Jayden confront her problems, Grace is unexpectedly forced to do the same.

Short Term 12 is everything we should demand movies to be; yes, it’s tragic, but it’s also human and full of hope. If only more films were this reflective.

Grade: A

Watch Short Term 12 on Netflix Instant. Or yanno. Wherever else.

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Punk Really is Dead in ‘CBGB’

Posted in Movies, Music on April 11th, 2014 by Nick

CBGBMoviePosterIf I could go back in time and live in any other decade of my choosing, without question I’d live out my late teens and 20’s in the Seventies. Specifically, New York City in 1973: the era that saw the opening of one of the most important rock clubs the music industry has ever and will ever see: CBGB.

Located at 315 Bowery, CBGB helped kickstart the careers of the Ramones, Television, Blondie, Talking Heads, The Dead Boys and countless other acts that were just as important to music at the time as the venue itself. The stars aligned for these belligerent punk up-and-comers and the shitty dive club they played in – a club that could have and probably should have failed. History was made. Important history. History that deserved a far greater retelling than the 2013 Randall Miller-directed film, CBGB, proffered. And that’s truly a buzzkill.

CBGB tracks the story of venue owner Hilly Kristal as he builds what eventually becomes the birthplace of underground rock ‘n’ roll and punk. Originally intending for country, bluegrass and blues to hit his stage, Kristal’s failure to plan (thankfully) takes him in a different musical direction all together, as he hires his friends, including a local neighborhood homeless junkie, to work at the club that was, for a long while, nearly bankrupt. Chaos becomes the norm for Kristal, and the film depicting it is just as messy…but not in a good way.

Despite having a pretty decent cast on paper– Alan Rickman portrays Kristal, the film’s best casting – the overreach for style becomes distracting. Comic book-like animations, hard stops and quick cuts make the film seem more scatterbrained than visual, and give the film a cartoony rather than cool feel. This becomes a huge problem for a film trying to recount the heyday of punk.

cbgb1The rest of the cast is dead on arrival. Malin Akerman tries and fails to exude the brazen, boldness of Blondie (Debbie Harry); Johnny Galecki takes a break from his lame show for a lame performance as Television’s manager, Terry Ork; Freddy Rodriguez (Six Feet Under alert!) gave a Community Theater performance as a homeless alley dude. Not even the better showings, Foo Fighters’ Taylor Hawkins as Iggy Pop or Rupert Grint as Dead Boys’ guitarist Cheetah Chrome, are engaging enough to matter. The whole attempt is half-assed and schlocky.

While I can’t say it was horrific enough to turn off, I can’t give it any sort of recommendation either. CBGB disgraces the legacy of this historic music mecha. In fact, it completely lacks authenticity. The film fails to translate a true punk spirit to its audience, probably because it neglected to capture it in the first place. I just hope that another filmmaker gets a chance to make the movie this place deserved.

Grade: D

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Architecture in Helsinki Brings the Party: Hear the New Track ‘I Might Survive’

Posted in Music on April 9th, 2014 by Nick

Architecture-in-Helsinki-640x640-c

If the Australian Indie Pop outfit Architecture in Helsinki are good for anything, just one thing, it would be that they make me want to shake it. To stand up from this desk I’m chained to for 40 hours a week, eschew my proper reasoning and office-like etiquette, and start screaming. Or partying. Screampartying. (It’s a thing. Look it up.) (Maybe.)

Basically, they make me want to lose my mind.

The band released it’s fifth album, Now + 4Eva, at the top of the month, and it’s just as colorful and vibrant as the album art suggests. But what else would we expect from Architecture in Helsinki?

There may or may not be a full album review in TLW’s future, but In Case I Die (HA! HA! GET IT! I AM PUNNY), I will say that despite early trepidations and mediocre vibes I was getting from the first two singles – I do really like this album! Maybe not as much as 2011′s Moment Bends, but enough to still think that Architecture is one of the most interesting and funky and weird and cuckoo nutsos bands on the block. The best tracks, in my opinion, are “Boom (4eva),” “Dream A Little Crazy,” and THIS GUY RIGHT HERE: “I Might Survive.” It is pure horn-filled, disco pop bliss for weirdos and people chewing on happy pills.

Listen often. Hit repeat. Enjoy life.

 

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New Mario Kart 8 Trailer Shows Off New Courses and Items

Posted in Video Games on April 3rd, 2014 by Nick

2496066-mariokart8_1920_040114The Internet’s latest and greatest trailer isn’t for the next superhero movie or cult fan-fave revived from the dead: It’s for a red-donning plumber with some sweet overalls. Mario Kart 8 is (almost) upon us.

The trailer shows off some new courses and some returning faves (RAINBOW ROAD), some bright, vivid color schemes (RAINBOW ROAD), and some of the best graphics Nintendo has probably ever created in its entire existence (RAINBOW ROAD).

There’s also a sneak peek at not one, but two Rainbow Road courses. One is entirely new and the other is a revival of the Nintendo 64 road that made rainbows all the rage in the first place.

AND HOW COOL DOES METAL MARIO LOOK!? Oh, man.

I can’t wait to play this game when my friend Aaron buys it (he won’t). He said he was totally going to buy a WiiU, specifically for Mario Kart 8 (he didn’t), and that when he did, I could come play it.  We are going to have the best time probably.

Check out the trailer and see the beautius magic for yourselves:

Mario Kart 8 arrives in stores on May 30, and I bet the dozens and dozens of people who own a WiiU are going to love it.

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See This Now: ‘The Punk Singer,’ a film about Kathleen Hanna

Posted in Movies, Music on April 2nd, 2014 by Nick

kathI want to give Kathleen Hanna the biggest high-five right now. One of those massive, deafening, hand-stinging high-fives.

In 2010, Hanna was filmed for most of the year by filmmaker Sini Anderson. The result was last year’s Rock Doc The Punk Singer, a film chronicling Hanna, the Bikini Kill/Le Tigre frontwoman who played a massive part in bringing the riot grrrl movement to life. Using a combination of interviews and archival footage, Anderson takes us through Hanna’s early tumultuous childhood, foray into spoken word performance art, and onward to her career as the raddest, baddest punk feminist the 90’s had ever seen.

What’s so awing about Hanna was her ability to create something out of nothing. Feeling the need to perform from a very young age, she danced, she did poetry, she screamed into microphones, she led a revolution. Feminism aside (but not to discredit it), she had something to say bubbling under her surface and she found like-minded people to share ideas with in constructive, powerful ways. Not only did she tear up stages wherever she went (she even beckoned female fans to come to the front of the stage to protect them from moshing and the scene itself), but she and her circle created zines as well about whatever issues, feminist or not, were grinding their gears. How many of us just ever get off the couch or off our computers for three goddamn seconds to do something meaningful to us…to the world?  It’s fucking inspiring to watch.

Her rise in the underground scene and later, on stages and at politically-charged performances in Washington D.C. naturally garnered much media attention. After multiple media frenzies and misquotations, Hanna and her first band Bikini Kill went on an entire media blackout, refusing to do interviews that would only fuel the already male-dominated hegemony of the press.

Helping recount Hanna’s life story is the punk singer herself, Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker (Sleater-Kinney), Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth), Joan Jett, Adam Horovitz (her husband, of Beastie Boys fame), and plenty more including many of her Le Tigre and The Julie Ruin bandmates. Hanna herself even recounts her friendship with one Kurt Cobain, which proved to be both motivational and rousing for the both of them (Did you know Hanna coined the phrase “Smells Like Teen Spirit”? The more you know!)

Hanna’s later struggles, including the decline of Le Tigre and more, are all outlined in Anderson’s eye-opening documentary about one of the most important activists, singers and feminists of the 90’s, who deplorably isn’t even a household name. If you are a music fan, or a lover of the era – punk, grunge, rock, or otherwise – you must see The Punk Singer. If you are a female fan, it’s even more imperative that you see it. Though Hanna may have never reached Nirvana-level fame, her stamp on the scene is raw, evocative, and indisputable.

Grade: A

The Punk Singer is currently available for streaming on Netflix.

After quite some time away from the stage, Hanna formed a new band called The Julie Ruin. Their first album dropped last year and this is my favorite track:

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Jack White Announces New Album ‘Lazaretto,’ Hear “High Ball Stepper” Now

Posted in Music on April 1st, 2014 by Nick

jakkJack White has been laying semi-low lately, probably because he’s too busy being amazing like the Jack White that he is. So lets bask in the glory of this announcement of a new Jack White album.

You should probably save a spot in your Best of 2014 lists. Because Jack White.

The followup to 2012′s Blunderbuss is called Lazaretto, and it’ll be out June 10 in the U.S. and June 9 in the UK through his label Third Man.

Hear an instrumental track from it, “High Ball Stepper”, below. The title track first single is due later this month.

Third Man’s Vault will release a limited edition version of the album featuring a 40-page book of lyrics and art, a poster, a bonus 7″ containing demo versions of album tracks “Alone in My Home” and “Entitlement”, and “a linen, letter-pressed postcard”.

I LOVE the piano work in this song. That is all:

.

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The Idiot’s Guide to Smart People – Music

Posted in Music on March 31st, 2014 by Nick

mussssicA friend of the blog shared this video on my Facebook wall, assuring me that I wasn’t that much of an asshole, but almost guaranteeing that I am one, at least partially, but that I still remain somewhat likable. This video is about music snobbery.

It’s actually pretty hilarious! Although I would never claim to be a huge fan of Louisiana Swamp Pop, I couldn’t help but laugh at and identify with many of the other aspects of music snobbery that this video presents. (But it’s not my fault you guys – I stand by the fact that if someone asks you what you listen to and you respond with: “Everything!” it just means you listen to whatever FM Radio spoonfeeds you! If that makes me an asshole – so be it!)

The vid is all in great fun though, so check it out and either laugh at yourself or share it with your favorite music snob. (Pete – I’m thinking of you, buddy).

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Music Monday: Record Store Day 2014

Posted in Music on March 31st, 2014 by Nick

record2Good news, audio geeks – Record Store Day 2014 (RSD) is less than a month away! For the uninitiated, Record Store Day is a day where independent record stores celebrate the fact that they still exist. That sounds harsh in a way, but it’s a day truly worth celebrating. Bands put out special RSD releases and stores promise to have these exclusives available on the chosen day and to not hawk them online before then for more monies.

This year, RSD ’14 will take place on Saturday, April 19th (aka, Easter Weekend). Even if you’ve never heard of RSD before, be assured that it happens everywhere and not just in major cities like New York or San Francisco. Every state has a list of record stores participating in the fun and you can look them up by state here. Needless to say, if you own a record player or even if you’re simply a collector – RSD is good. Very good.

For a full list of exclusive releases, head here, but I thought I’d showcase some of the records I’m looking forward to getting my grubby little paws on (OK, “grubby” was the first word that came to mind here, but I just went and looked it up and it literally means “infested with fly maggots.” I might as well leave the word in. I’ve already come this far. Yes, I realize I sound like Shoshanna.). Anyways:


JakeBuggJake Bugg – Live at Silver Platters

Format: 12″ Vinyl
Label: Island Def Jam
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

Recorded live January 20, 2014 at Silver Platters in Seattle, Wash.

Tracks: “There’s A Beast”, “Trouble Town”, “Lightning Bolt”, “Storm Passes”

 

cccCreedence Clearwater Revival – The ’69 Singles

Format: 10″ Vinyl
Label: Concord
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

10″ white vinyl of all 4 singles released in 1969 (A and B sides); 120g

Tracks: SIDE 1: “Mary”, “Born On The Bayou”, “Bad Moon Rising”, “Lodi” SIDE 2: “Green River”, “Commotion”, “Down On The Corner”, “Fortunate Son”

doorsThe Doors – Weird Scenes Inside The Goldmine

Label: Rhino
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

Reissue on amber vinyl of the 1972 Elektra Records release. It was the second compilation by the group and the first release following the death of Jim Morrison. It features the first album release of two B-sides, Willie Dixon’s “(You Need Meat) Don’t Go No Further,” sung by Ray Manzarek, originally on the flip side of the 1971 45 “Love Her Madly,” and the beautiful “Who Scared You,” “Wishful Sinful”‘s flip with Jim Morrison on vocals from a session in 1969. Both are worthwhile additions not found on their first “greatest hits” collection.

fishboneFishbone – Self-titled

Format: 12″ Vinyl
Label: Asbestos
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

Reissue of their classic first album, available for the first time on LP in nearly 30 years. Contains their hit singles “UGLY,” “Party at Ground Zero,” and “Lyin Ass Bitch.”

 

julieThe Julie Ruin – Brightside/In The Picture

Format: 7″ Vinyl
Label: Julie Ruin Records
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

Two unreleased songs , limited to a one time pressing of 2000.

 

 

 

poguesThe Pogues – Live With Joe Strummer

Label: Rhino
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

The legendary live show recorded in 1991 at the London Forum during Shane MacGowan’s hiatus from the band with his initial replacement, Joe Strummer. This previously unreleased material is contained in the recently released “Pogues 30″ box which is available in the US only on import. This is the first vinyl, only physical release in the US of this album.

 

VSVeruca Salt – Veruca Salt

Format: 7″ Vinyl
Label: Minty Fresh
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

Seether +2 new songs from the original band members.

“Seether,” “It’s Holy,” “The Museum Of Broken Relationships”

 

 

garbGarbage ft. Brody Dalle – Girls Talk Shit

Format: 10″ Vinyl
Label: StunVolume
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

“Girls Talk Shit” and “Time Will Destroy Everything” (the latter being a Garbage b-side that has been rumored, but not yet released).

 

 

So that’s what I’ll be looking for April 19th! Again, for the full list, take a peek here.

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL MUSIC STORES AND SUPPORT ARTISTS!

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