First, I have to tell you that Rdio is one of the greatest services that I have ever used, and has completely changed the way that I listen to and discover music. I’ll probably write more about that another time, because the focus here is on one artist I found through Rdio that reaffirms the model and reinvigorates my love for music. It also helps to remind me that there is new, good music out there, and that I’m not crazy in looking for that “click.” See, when I first listened to The National, something just clicked, and I was hooked immediately. I sought out and bought all their music almost immediately. Ever since, I’ve loaded up new albums, had a listen and moved on, never to experience that click in quite the same way. Now, that’s not to say there aren’t degrees of clicking and trying to list those degrees is akin to basically ranking your favourite albums and artists (which is fundamentally unfair, I know). It’s safe to say The National (and specifically Boxer and Alligator) are amongst the top; I could easily just list the most recent additions to my music library as other good contenders. One album though has stood out, which is The Golden Age by Woodkid.
Deciding on going to see Spring Breakers was a relatively easy process, especially with our current mindset something of wanting to find "hidden gems." Of course, there is the obvious T&A factor going on in this film, which is why movies like Piranha 3D are seen, but there was something more to this film. My friend pointed out that the film had a 62% Tomato rating, which is not insignificant; combined with an audience rating of nearly 50%, you have a fairly conflicted film that has there. Now, I'm not one to put too much credence into a critic rating, as I have thoroughly enjoyed low rated films and disliked high rated ones. In any event, we had gone to see Warm Bodies a while back in the theatre and we both enjoyed it: it is not typically a film we go to see in the theatre, so it was easy to reason going to see Spring Breakers the other night.
What I've noticed recently is the tendency to describe movies as "forgettable" and its opposite, which forces a certain stigma and black and white-ness to the overall quality of a film. This was in evidence a few days ago when my friend made a reference to a movie, which flew over my head with wide-eyed wonder. He started at me blankly, and told me we had just watched such-and-such movie last weekend, which sparked my memory but also provoked a nervous laughter. Either the movie was quite literally forgettable or my mind is getting worse than it should be at thirty one years of age. On the other end of the spectrum, however, exists movies that are impossible to forget, as Artificial Intelligence stands among them.
Granted, the film is a science fiction piece directed by Spielberg, which could make it memorable alone, but it's the circumstances surrounding the film that make it stand out for me. On July 4, 2001 I had laser eye surgery (LASIK) to correct my eyes and remove my need for glasses. On the evening of July 3, I went to the theatre to see AI with my dad. I was living in North Bay at the time, and with the procedure being relatively new, there were no (reputable) places up north to do so, so my optometrist sent me down south to Toronto. My dad and I drove down, went to the centre for a pre-op checkup and to sign my life away in forms. We went back to the hotel, checked in then went to The Keg for dinner, as it was a special kind of outing. Afterward, we decided to hit up the movies and see AI, which was just opening; the film was incredibly busy and we ended up sitting in some of the very front rows, which proved to be uncomfortable at times simply because the seat is located so close to the screen.
If you've been curious on what I've been playing (or doing for the majority of spare time) then this is it:
Temple Run 2
Yeah, I know: it's a basic game but it hits me in all the right places and I just can't stop playing it. The first Temple Run absorbed quite a bit of my time so it's only fitting that the sequel would do the same.
In no way was I particularly excited to see Flight, starring Denzel Washington - but sometimes there just isn't much selection. In this particular case, I was visiting my family up north, and I had agreed to go to a matinee showing of something. See, on Wednesday's at the Galaxy, they have "Stars and Strollers" which is geared towards going to the movie with your children where the lights are not as dim and nobody is going to get in trouble for having a screaming baby. What ends up happening is all the shows - including the adult rated ones - are empty save for a few people who are not chained to their desks. I imagine the children's movies would be busier, but Flight was empty, save for one other person, myself and parents.
My parents are avid movie goers. They will go see everything, and when the drive in was available they would quite often see the same movies two or three times, just for the sake of going. Going to the movies with my parents brought me back to a rich history of doing just such a thing. There's always a stigma about going with your parents and being embarrassed to be seen; this most often happens when you're a teenager. As a child you don't care, and now, being an adult, you don't care either. I didn't really hit that period during my teenage years where I was afraid to go: I recognized the benefits (they typically pay for the ticket and food) and I love movies. I want to go see these, so when friends are unable or unwilling, the situation becomes ideal.
As mentioned a while ago, War of the Worlds (2005) brings me about to face my fears. I casually caught the film just as it started on television the other night and was compelled to continue watching it; as it turns out this stands as one of my favourite films. Perhaps not top ten, but "up there" if you know what I mean - I fully expect that you don't (because I'm not certain myself). Inspired by seeing it on television I quickly switched over the media center so I could watch the movie in Bluray quality high definition, sans commercial breaks. Overall, it makes me appreciate the cinematic quality that Spielberg is so eloquently capable of delivering.
I want to talk about the fear that this movie drives into me though. I've mentioned before that the activities of the alien invaders is exactly what gets my spine tingling when they are able to turn people to dust immediately, and this still holds true. It's the finality, the suddenness of death and the inescapable aspect that really gets me. It's so easy to place myself on the street alongside all the others, watching in horror as those vibrant beams of doom come blasting along the sidewalk, killing indiscriminately. So this brings me to the first fear: immediate, unprepared death.
With a staggering 91% "Fresh" rating from Rotten Tomatoes, you can quickly understand why I may be hesitant to post a negative review of the latest James Bond movie: Skyfall. The truth though, is that I don't mind running against the crowd (of critics) and that it's the opinion of my peers that is more than likely to prevent me from posting the fact that I was disappointed by Skyfall. Indeed, I spoke with Matt this morning - as we typically do - and he was eager to hear my thoughts on the film, as he had just seen it a few days previous. When the first word on screen is disappointed, the conversation takes a nasty turn into the corn fields where the sun is at high noon: I can't find a direction to make my way out. We got oriented though, and came to the accusation that no new movies can possibly appease me. It's possible that my mind isn't in the right space, or that simply new movies really are not that good. He cites another recent critic and fan favourite Looper, which I found disappointing. Certainly, it was a good movie, but did not meet my expectations. Skyfall is the same way, even though I explicitly went in with no expectations (perhaps it's entirely subconscious).
The time finally came that my old Mediasonic enclosure had reached capacity, and it was time to look for either a new solution, or buy another box. In the two years since buying the original enclosure, I have purchased very few hard drives, but my method of consumption and computer use has changed a tiny bit. First, I decided to move away from having drives inside my tower computer. This computer, housed in an Antec P183 chassis, served as both home theatre PC (HTPC) and server. It performed magnificently, but times have changed. In July, I moved in with a friend, which brings us to the second change: multiple servers and HTPC boxes throughout the house. See, my friend had a similar setup, and it seemed senseless to duplicate media and purpose when one server/library could handle all of our needs.
I guess it was back in June, a night like any other except Cale was in town and we were doing what we do best: watching downloaded trailers for upcoming movies. We don't discriminate (most of the time) but sometimes foreign subtitles pop up on screen and we elect not to "waste" two minutes of our time. We realize that most movie previews are terrible, but sometimes one grabs you by the scruff of the neck and forces you forward. Looper did just that: combining indie-movie icon Joseph Gordon-Levitt and a conceptually interesting sci-fi premise, and you get yourself two excited fanboys. I may have watched the preview a couple of times, but as time is wont to do, over the months I slowly let the memory of this movie slip away.
Then it really hit the fan: the movie was in all-out marketing mode and people were getting pumped. Levitt is on fire, with titles like Inception pushing him into the mainstream and the minds of everyone who has shelled out money to go to a theatre in the past few years. Then you add in Bruce Willis - playing a 30-year older version of Levitt - and you have yourself a film worth going to see on opening day. Levitt plays Joe, a looper in a future where time travel has not been invented yet. Some time in Joe's more advanced future time travel is a thing (outlawed) where criminal organizations send back people they hate (I guess) back to people like Joe, who kill them with a blast of blunderbuss. The reveal is that Joe's older self has been sent back in time to be killed...by young Joe. He has to take himself out. It's an original (well, original to me at least) idea that science fiction loves. So I was pretty jazzed to go see the film.