Archive for April, 2010

Kick-Ass: Comic and Movie (Spoilers Abound)

This is the comic.

Halfway through the second issue of Mark Millar and John Romita Jr’s, I had firmly come to the conclusion that the title character, Dave Lizewski, was not a decent human being.  When you see the emotional and financial turmoil he puts his Dad through after his disastrous first outing as a superhero, every iota of sympathy you have for the character should be gone.  The reader’s sympathy lies not for Kick-Ass, but for the people around him. Try as he might, this kid can do nothing but make things worse. Regarding his out-of-costume life, you can either get your pants in a bundle about him being Millar’s critique of the common “comics public” OR you can take solace in the fact that you are nowhere near as pathetic as this kid. It’s easy to view Kick-Ass as another criticism of superhero culture, but is it possible that it’s just about an idiot kid getting the shit kicked out of him? Does Mark Millar really hate his reading public that much?  Have you read a Mark Millar comic?  The guy kind of hates everybody.  I also failed to see all of the racism people were complaining about.  Does Dave beat up/get beat up by a lot of ethnic stereotypes?  Yes.  Do well adjusted people who finish middle school join inner city gangs?  Not so much.  If he were calling them “nigger” while getting the shit kicked out of him, we’d have a different story on our hands, we’d have Wanted, which has some pretty racist characters, but that’s probably because it’s about a guy who’s supposed to be Marshall Mathers joining a fraternity of super-villains and murdering people for a living.

This is the movie poster.

The movie tries its best to make Dave a likable protagonist and takes a much more upbeat stance than the comic.  I feel like they missed the point of the comic in the process, but it’s not like they missed the point of From Hell, Ghost World or something.  I can accept that.  What I can’t accept is the movie’s treatment of the Dave/Katie relationship.  I mean, the jetpack was pretty damn foolish, but this is almost as bad.  Lying about being gay to get closer to the girl, yeah, that’s not morally reprehensible at all.  The scene where Dave spills his guts and comes clean with her on his sexuality and tight-wearing?  Even assuming there’s some superhero fetishism going on; we’re supposed to accept that she goes from attacking him to fucking him in the span of three minutes?  Most adults aren’t that forgiving, let alone teenage kids.  This is the point where it really just becomes a teenage boy’s power fantasy, as Dave gropes his way to sexual conquest.  I tried to roll with it, and I might have forgiven it if they didn’t have to include that goddamn jetpack.

Ugh.  I see no reason why that was at all necessary. It was dumb and excessive in all the wrong ways.  The movie has gotten pretty fuckin ridiculous at this point, but certainly not jetpack ridiculous.  Maybe if someone else had been flying it, but when a character defined by his incompetence flies in and saves the day with his brand-new jetpack and Gatling guns, we’ve officially surpassed fridge-nuking and are now in the valley of shark-jumping.

I could have used some more violence and gore.  The comic is one of the goriest things I’ve read in a long while.  All I’m asking for is somebody’s head getting chopped in half.  Is that too much to ask for?  Ah well, I’m really just nit-picking at this point.  However, despite their noticeable lack of guts, the fight scenes were still mostly comprehensible. I’ve got to congratulate Matthew Vaughan on letting the audience know what the hell was going on.  The acting was also good, and I’ve really got nothing to contribute to the amount of praise everybody’s heaping upon it. So sorry, no 19 paragraphs gushing about Chloe Grace Moritz.  Nicholas Cage was probably better anyway.  He’s not as mega as he’s been recently, but he was pretty funny.

Sorely lacking.

The more I think about it, the more I didn’t like the movie. It had some great moments, a few bits of truly spectacular filmmaking, but it also had one too many really fucking awful parts.  There were some parts that I really liked, I tried to appreciate it as its own thing, separate from the source material, but it all falls apart so horribly at the end, I can’t forgive it.  I probably will sometime in the future, but I’m in no rush.

(It wasn’t just me and the nerds either.  I distinctly heard someone else in the theater say the ending was stupid, so there.)

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Lightning Bolt

This is Lightning Bolt

I have two favorite albums at the moment-Wonderful Rainbow and Hypermagic Mountain, both by Lightning Bolt.  Two half-albums if we want to get into it.  They share the same problem-Strong starts, weak finishes.  Lightning Bolt makes noise.  There’ nothing pleasant about their music, the vocals are barely audible, the bass is distorted beyond all recognition, and the drums sound like free jazz on meth.  They’re the loudest, noisiest, most intense band I’ve probably ever heard and I love em.  Their music feels like doom metal via DFA via abstract jazz via Night on Bald Mountain.  It’s a little hard to describe.  Most importantly though, their music is evil.  It’s important to keep music evil.

Wonderful Rainbow

Of the two records, Wonderful Rainbow is the more diverse one.  It peaks early, but it manages to keep going after the album’s seven minute monsterpiece “Two Towers.”  “Two Towers” is a hard act to follow.  I imagine the other songs felt a bit like Dewey Cox performing after Elvis, and they’re good certainly good songs, but with the memory of “Two Towers” still not done steamrolling your spine, it’s hard to get through the rest of it.  The album’s biggest problem is arrangement.  The three best songs are all at the beginning, and they all come in a row.  I hate it when that happens, but it’s a problem we have to live with.

Hypermagic Mountain

I’ve been tossing “monsterpiece” around a lot lately, but I think it’s entirely applicable here.  Lightning Bolt’s best songs are monsters.  Fucking behemoths that either crush your skulls, or the skulls of your enemies.  Hypermagic Mountain is more monstrous than its predecessor.  I think they took my advice here, and waited till the seventh song before they got to the skull crushing.  Even the sixth track, “Magic Mountain” feels like a march to battle, a fucking death march as an army of orcs prepares to crush the skulls and drink the blood of their human enemies.  I dunno.  I might be getting carried away with this skull crushing stuff, but I it’s a damn good time for it.  If I’m gonna indulge in hyperbole, it’s either that or “orgasmicly brutal”  Mypermagic Mountain’s monsterpiece is “Dead Cowboy” and it’s probably the most epic, skull crushingly heroic, orgasmicly brutal song ever recorded.  That’s right.  Heroic.  The demon hordes are on our side this time and they’re gonna crush our enemies skulls.  Lucky us.  Dead Cowboy is so fucking good, the remaining 5 songs on the album are rendered pointless in the wake of its awesomeness.  Also, they’re not very good.  There’s nothing left to say after Dead Cowboy.  It’s an album ending song.  Not only because it’s impossible to top, but because I imagine the studio fucking exploded in the shape of a skull after they finished recorded it.

Like this,but waaaaaaaaaaaaay cooler.

There’s nowhere left for them to go after that song.  And they don’t go anywhere after it.  The remaining songs all sound the same.  They’re just noise.  I seriously thought the album was over after that one, but then the noise started up again and I thought “What the hell?  Shouldn’t everyone be dead now?”  Dead Cowboy is probably the most heroic, skull crushingly epic song ever written.  I guess there aren’t any lyrics about Vikings or shit like that, but maybe there are because it’s impossible to understand what they’re talking about.

If you really like singing or instruments that aren’t distorted beyond recognition this probably isn’t for you.  If you laughed at the part when Juno calls Sonic Youth “just a bunch of noise” then maybe it is.  Maybe.  Man, fuck you Juno.  We thought you were cool.  You can’t handle Sonic Youth?  You pussy.  You say you like the Stooges, but I bet you don’t even own Fun House.  Did you know that that’s Jack White’s favorite album?  Look at you now Juno, not so cool anymore are you?

Yeah whatever Juno.

(Update-apparently Dead Cowboy is about George Bush.  Okay.  Whatever.)

Suites For Ma Dukes

Here’s a really quick post for ya.  This was the coolest thing I saw on the internet this morning and thought I should share it with you.

http://www.hiphopdx.com/index/news/id.11022/title.b-talks-suite-for-ma-dukes-dillas-work-performed-in-iowa

J Dilla compositions as performed by an orchestra.  It’s pretty cool stuff.  I might have to find this DVD when it comes out.

damn good record.

For those not in the know, Dilla is generally considered one of, if not THE, greatest hip hop producers of his time.  His 2006 album Donuts, released three days prior to his death,  is considered THE go-to album in instrumental hip hop.  He was a talented guy, producing so much material that we’re still hearing new stuff today.  Last year, both Doom and Raekwon managed to get unheard Dilla tracks on their albums.  Check it out.

Hit Singles

First of all, many thanks to Parker for posting a link to me on his blog.  As you can see, I’ve already returned the favor.  Al l you have to do is click on his name there and you’ll be redirected to his blog.  It’s pretty rad.  It’s got lots of pictures and laffs and he finds the time to update it way more often than I do, but I’m working on it.  Expect something from me at least weekly, if not more often.  Today, I’d like to veer away from those things called “complete albums” and instead focus on these things called “singles.”  These are the songs that I somehow missed the first time around, big hits that most people have probably already heard, but I didn’t because I didn’t have cable and there’s no hip hop station in Butte, Montana and my internet was reaaaaaaally show in high school.  I don’t know if the rest of you guys are as in the dark as I am, but that’s what this post is for-rectification.

I was thinking about starting a special section of movie reviews dedicated to really famous movies I somehow hadn’t seen yet.  (I started with Midnight Cowboy.  Others  include Braveheart, Dog Day Afternoon, Sunset Blvd and Seven Samurai)  However, this would include me posting often enough to justify me having sections, so maybe once I’ve got a few more under my belt.  Anyway, this is kind of the musical equivalent and I imagine we’ll be having more of them in the future.

R. Kelly-Ignition (Remix) – R Kelly’s a weird guy.  Part genius, part pervert, part idiot-savant.  Most the time, I’m not crazy about his music, but when it works, it really works, and when it really really really works, it’s the Remix to Ignition.  Hot and fresh in the kitchen.

Estelle-American Boy – Graduation is my least favorite Kanye West album, but I think I get what he was going for.  He wanted to make something that EVERYBODY liked, and let’s face it, he pulled it off pretty well, talk to anybody.  Even people who fucking hate Kanye like at least one song, and that one song is usually “Flashing Lights” “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” or his guest spot on Estelle’s “American Boy,” which came out a little later than Graduation, so I guess this is his insurance song.

Grizzly Bear-While You Wait For the Others – I am not a fan of Grizzly Bear.  I don’t hate them in an way, I just find their music boring, dry and disengaging most of the time.  Not so much as Dirty Projectors, who are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too sophisticated for me to comprehend.   However, Trevor has tried his best to get me interested and I really like this song.  Grizzly Bear certainly doesn’t rock, but sometimes they sound like the Beatles without actually being a blatant ripoff.  A few more listens of this and I might be ready to give Veckatimist a try again.  Maybe if I saw them live I’d change my mind.

The Killers – When You Were Young – The Killers are a singles band.  I can never make it through one of their albums in its entirety, but I eagerly await the release of The Killers’ Greatest Hits.  Their debut, Hot Fuss, was probably their best, but this cut from follow up Sam’s Town ain’t half bad.  They’re a band who tries hard, sometimes too hard, but I think hit the nail on the head here.

UGK ft Outkast-International Players Anthem-Holy shit!  This song was what prompted me to compose this post.  Not much to say, other than that it’s really fucking good.

Juelz Santana-Dipset (Santana’s Town) – I don’t know if I’d call Juelz Santana a good MC, but I’ll give him this much, he’s got a unique style.  He works best in small doses, particularly when he’s rapping over a trademark DIpset beat.  Lines like “I’m a baller baller/You’re not at all a baller” would sound utterly moronic over a beat with any subtlety, they still sound moronic over apocalyptic strings and a choir chanting “Dipset” but they at least sound sincere.  There’s amoral fury to Santana’s delivery, and the instrumentals bang hard.

Young Jeezy-My President-Young Jeezy could be the hip hop Tom Waits.  He’s got the voice.  Unfortunately, Jeezy seems more at home amidst the most bombastic synths this side of DJ Khaled.  Jeezy’s got a great voice.  He just doesn’t know what to do with it.  Despite all of that, I think this song works great because he’s got to live up to the guest star, Nas.

Fun fact-When I saw Nas live, this was the one he closed with.

Three 6 Mafia-Stay Fly-Okay, I guess I didn’t miss this when it first came around, I just didn’t like it.  Nothing very insightful to say, just wanted to apologize.  Stay Fly, you’re alright.

Also this one about cough syrup.

The Game-Wouldn’t Get Far and one Blood-I’m a big fan of The Documentary, The Game’s first album, but I never gave much of a listen to the second one, Doctor’s Advocate.  Part of that could be that they have the same fucking cover and I mistook Doctor’s Advocate for a special edition when I first saw it.

Seriously, how was this a good business decision?

I’ve listened to it recently though, and it’s pretty good.  Maybe not as good as the first one, but still a good follow-up.  Freshly kicked out of the 50 Cent’s friends club, Game had to get others to pitch in on the production this time.  Kanye helps out on “Wouldn’t Get Far” with the chopped ‘n’ chipmunked soul he was so fond of at the time, while One Blood is just a great showcase of Game being PISSED OFF.  “You’re 38 and you’re still rappin?  Ugh./ I’m 26 nigga, so is the dubs.”  You here that, Dr. Dre?  The Game is fucking disgusted that you’re still rappin.  The video for One Blood also includes some of the most unintentionally hilarious thug mugging I’ve ever seen.  I guess it’s not Game’s fault he has the face of an infant, but boy, does he get silly.

Wouldn’t Get Far

One Blood

Missy Elliott-Gossip Folks – I can safely assume that we’ve all heard Get Ur Freak on and Work It, right?  Don’t let me down.  Maybe you haven’t heard Gossip Folks though.  Get to it.

Outkast-Ghetto Musick – Is it wrong that Speakerboxxx is my favorite Outkast album?  Not Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, just the Big Boi solo album?  Am I the only person in the world who thinks Big Boi is a better rapper than Andre 3000?  Can you really blame me after listening to this?  Big Boi must wax his tongue, because his flow is smoother than a bowling alley.

Jay-Z – Roc Boys – What?  Everybody’s heard Roc Boys, right? More people know the words to this than they do 99 Problems, right?  Fuck, even I’ve heard Roc Boys, but in the spirit of things, I thought it would be a good one to include, just in case.

Be here next week when I post the 1960’s version of this.  That one should actually contain more hidden gems.