Pixar Releases Teaser Trailer for ‘Brave’

It’s only a minute long, so you probably wonder why I bothered posting? I’m just so excited for “Brave” to hit theaters next summer. It’s the first girl protagonist in a Pixar film and it’s their first fairy tale. Instead of all the squeaky clean stuff, they’re going for more in the realm of Hans Christian Anderson and The Brothers Grimm fairy tales, according to co-director Brenda Chapman. I wish they took the same approach with the classics, but it would’ve made for a different childhood for all of us.

There’s already been a bit of drama with Mark Andrews being brought on as a co-director with Chapman, who was supposed to be the first female director of a Pixar film, and she’s reportedly no longer working on the project. She did co-write the story, however.

Check out the teaser below. If you can’t tell by the narration and scenery, it’s set in Scotland.

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Beyonce “4” Review | What Happens When A Singer is Fearless?

I bought Beyoncé’s deluxe edition of “4” from Target on Wednesday and about halfway through, I had to stop the CD. (Yes, I resorted to dinosaur technology, but I couldn’t wait until I got home and it’s now on my iPod) Not out of frustration or because I didn’t like it. I was just overwhelmed by how good it was; how different it was from anything I’ve heard in years, possibly since Lauryn Hill’s album. Just like “Miseducation” it was a fearlessly recorded album with little or no regard for things like “radio-friendly” tracks. Lauryn’s songs were played on the radio, but they were vastly different from all the crap being played before and after her singles (Have you really listened to those background vocals? That attention to composition was incredible) and it was obvious when she recorded them radio play wasn’t really on her mind–just making music. Beyoncé, a 16-time Grammy winner, brings that same veracity for the craft and catharsis of performance to her latest album, which is expected to be the #1 album in 14 countries without even getting a top 10 spot on Billboard.

I understand why critics have touted the concept, while shying away from actually saying if it’s good or not because nothing out there sounds anything like it. The sound on the previous three albums was one popularized by Beyoncé, but it had a generic quality that was beneath her talents. But that’s what people would rather hear because they’re used to it. Don’t get me wrong, I loved those albums, but I always knew she was holding back. Sometime during her year off, which can be seen in the mini-documentary “Year of 4,” she realized the same.

The sounds in “4” samples heavily from the 1970s and the 1980s, but doesn’t completely rip off the time periods by taking a modern twist. The track “Party” makes you want to get in a time machine and go back to the 80s when house parties were almost on the same level as a hip club and everything seemed a little more laid back. There are showy ballads, like “1+1,” “I Was Here” and “Start Over.” As opposed to her last album, which was full of anthemic dance tracks, this one only has a couple (and they’re not really dance tracks), namely “Love on Top,” “Party” and “Schoolin’ Life” (a bonus track on the deluxe edition).

This isn’t a complete deviation from the Beyoncé we’ve seen in the past. She’s still got her gritty-southern gangster side in “Countdown” (Me and my boo in/my boo coupe riding”), her vulnerable side in “I Miss You” (“I still need you/why is that?”), her sassy side rears its head in “I Care” (“I know you don’t care too much/but I care”) and her sexy side (“I’ll give it all away/just don’t tell nobody tomorrow”). But she’s doing it without worrying so much about how others want her music to be and focusing solely on what she wants it to be.

I wouldn’t call the album perfect. Some of the lyrics don’t flow too well and a few of the beats are all over the place, but with such a great voice, she can pull it off where others would have failed.

Just like Rihanna needed “Rated R” as a way to transition into the next phase in her life, Beyoncé needed this album. But it came off way better than Rihanna’s, serving more as a beacon of light for any artist who’s been afraid to make their own musical path. It seems that Beyoncé needed this album to show the world she could really made a mark doing something other than making you dance at the club or helping you get over a break-up. Like she croons in her ballad “I Was Here”: “I just want them to know/that I gave my all, did my best.”

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‘Marvin’s Room’ Covers | The Room is Getting Crowded

Drake released “Marvin’s Room” in the beginning of June, a somber track from his “Take Care” album that’s set to drop in October. It’s not Drake’s best work by any means, but I do love the premise of a drunken phone call to an ex-girlfriend. The random rapping that interrupts his “singing” is pretty jarring and doesn’t really fit the mood of the song. The music video is pretty low key (and low budget), but it does the job. It’s not a bad song, but any Drake fan will agree he can do way better. Nonetheless, a bunch of artists put their own spin on the song.

JoJo’s cover, subtitled “Can’t Do Better,” was the first I listened to and it’s still the best I’ve heard so far. She strayed the least from the original premise of the song and lyrically she turned it into more of an anthem for girls who find out their ex-boyfriend is dating someone else before they’ve even had a chance to really get over him. Best line: “She’s not crazy like me/I bet you like that.” She added a lot of anger and sass to the song (I’ma send a sexy picture/to remind you what you’ve given up), giving it the extra push it needed for me, and a few other Drake fans I know, to bring ourselves to admit it’s better than his version. This also gives JoJo’s image a lot of maturity, which I think she was hoping for with a new album expected soon. She really set the bar and a line from her version pretty much explains how I feel about every other cover I’ve heard: “I’m the best so you can’t do better.”

Teyana released a cover around the same time as JoJo and she also released a video today. The song is mediocre, to say the least. Teyana seems content to dance around the line of celebrity as more of a socialite than an actual artist, but she does have a beautiful voice. Lyrically, the song wasn’t up to par, mostly because it wasn’t focused. Her feelings are all over the place, which portrays the reality of someone in that situation, but in a song it’s best to stick with one or two emotions than choosing all of them. Also, I think when you sing “Wife-beater and my panties on” in a song, you’re aiming it at a male audience, but you can’t keep their attention when the song they thought was about sex turns into emotional vomit. I did like her homage to Lauryn Hill’s “Ex Factor” at the end of the song and I wish she’d used the song as a model for her own. The video was just as confusing emotionally and visually. It’s basically a love letter to Teyana’s abs and her hair. I’m still confused about why Omarion was even necessary.

Chris Brown was the latest superstar to put out his spin on the track. The only reason he released the song was to put out some vulgar lyrics and remind us all that we’re haters if we don’t like him. Chris, I’ll just have to keep hating because it was garbage and you could have done way better. I know I seem to dislike Chris Brown, but he really just frustrates me because I’ve been waiting to be wrong about him being a complete jerk, but he keeps proving me right.

I was hoping some unknown YouTube sensation would stand above the rest or at least be better than Teyana’s, but I haven’t found one yet.

Check out the original song by Drake and the covers I mentioned below. Are there any good covers out there besides JoJo’s I should listen to? Am I being too harsh on Teyana and Chris?

Look out for a review of Beyonce’s “4” really soon!

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“Transformers: Dark of the Moon” Review

Shia LaBeouf and as Sam Witwicky and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as Carly in "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," the third film in the franchise.

Times are hard for recent graduates, even ones who’ve saved the world from robot aliens twice. “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” begins with Sam Witwicky, secret savior of our world, looking for a job all over Washington D.C. But office work holds little joy for him because he’d rather be out fighting wars with Bumblebee and Optimus Prime than delivering mail around the office.

Of course, he gets his wish thanks to a conspiracy tracing back to before the first moon landing. We went to the moon in 1969, but the space race was about more than being the first country with your flag on Earth’s moon. It was about being the first to find out what exactly the strange images NASA (and it seems whatever space agency Russia had) saw on their satellite. It turned out to be an Autobot ship that held the key to the survival of their home planet but vanished during the last days of their battle. If the technology stored in it reaches the wrong hands, it could be disastrous.

This installment is much funnier than the other two. The second film wasn’t too great, which even Shia LaBeouf admits, partly because they were working with an unfinished script and partly because they were flying high from the success of the first film. Sam has always seemed to be a little of the bad boy Hollywood has made LaBeouf out to be and a little of Louis from Even Stevens, the Disney show that got LaBeouf his big break. He’s a lot more Louis this time and his antics break up the hardcore action for the first half of the film, but there’s little to laugh about in the second half, which is full-on combat (more action-packed than combat scenes in the previous two films) reminiscent of Battle: Los Angeles. But instead of L.A., the battle is fought in Chicago; or what was Chicago before the Decepticons start their war.

Megan Fox is noticeably missing after being dismissed from her role, amid reports of Steven Spielberg giving the orders after she bad-mouthed Michael Bay. She’s been replaced with Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, another beautiful girl who’s somehow fallen for Sam’s charm (even his mother warns him the chances of getting another pretty girl are pretty slim). Whiteley does the job adequately (it’s nothing to write home about), but the Victoria’s Secret model is always modeling. She somehow gets through hours of combat and fighting for her life with only a smudge of dirt on her face. At one point, she stands atop a car in heels, jeans, a white tee and a jacket with the wind blowing her barely out-of-place hair. The ridiculous nature of that shot got a few snickers, mainly from me and my friends.

If you’re looking for so much action that your brain feels like it’s about to explode, you can count on this film. A lot of the fight scenes and car chases left my mouth agape. It’s also got laughs, a little heart, characters you want to die (namely, Frances McDormand as a high-level government officer who doesn’t really understand anything), conspiracies that really make you think and a model in case the guys get bored.

I really enjoyed the film, but there was no real theme. The first one was about destiny, the second about heroism and this one just seemed to be the end. Boy, did they go out with a bang.

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‘Something Borrowed’ Review | It’s OK to Take Your Best Friends Fiance

Ginnifer Goodwin and Collin Egglesfield in "Something Borrowed," a film about a woman (Goodwin) who has an affair with her best friend's fiancee (Egglesfield).

I purposefully got the tires on my car replaced at a shop near the movie theater, so I could walk over and watch this film, instead of waiting in the lobby for two hours.

I should have waited in the lobby.

I love romantic comedies because of their cheesiness, so that’s not really the problem. The scene when Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin) runs through the rain to profess her true feelings or the scene when she decides to rejoin Dex (Collin Egglesfield) in the bar and when she turns to go back he’s standing behind here were right up my alley. But the presentation of the romance in this film was wrong from the beginning.

First, it’s a chronology nightmare. One minute it’s Rachel’s 30th birthday, thrown by her best friend Darcy (Kate Hudson) who makes it more about her than Rachel, then you’re somehow on her first day of college a little later. Her whole college relationship with Dex up until he begins dating Darcy is so staggered throughout the film that you don’t get to the end of it until the movie’s almost over. There’s not even enough tension in their history to warrant anyone waiting for the back story to pan out. Every time they entered the past, everyone in the theater gave a collective sigh that translated into, “Who cares?”

When Rachel and Dex slip up and sleep together, they try to put it behind them, but ultimately decide to spend a weekend figuring things out, as Dex puts it. I’m pretty sure that’s called an affair. But it’s presented as a romance that lasts for at least a weekend, I guess. I only guess because after a short scene shot in the day, it’s suddenly night and they’re on a roof somewhere talking. After that, things are really precarious and nothing’s set in stone.

Judging by Rachel’s actions, you’d think her best friend must be horrible, but Darcy calls Rachel her soulmate when she’s talking about how close they’ve been since they were kids. Darcy does have her flaws and she’s having doubts about her feelings for Dex, but she’s presented as a good friend to Rachel. In one scene Darcy even tells Rachel she’d never let anyone hurt her. This isn’t really expected and turns Rachel from a character represented as the person you’re rooting for to a woman you’d like to take a long walk off a short bridge.

Maybe Rachel would have listened to her conscience it weren’t for her best friend Ethan (John Krasinski) who challenges her to do something and to ask for what she wants. But he can’t even seem to do the same when it comes to a girl he slept with once who is now stalking him. I love John Krasinski, but his character is brushed off as a sidekick who almost shows us his personality, but ends up looking like a sad jerk.

There are also a large variety of plot holes that I can’t really begin to talk about without spoiling the whole movie for the few of you who will still see it. One thing I can say is there’s absolutely no indication of what Darcy does for a living.

I really wanted the film to be about a girl with a horrible best friend who is always a doormat and finally stands up for herself. Instead, I got a film about a girl who is a bit of a doormat, but has a pretty good best friend and decides to take her man not only because she has feelings for him but also just because she can. Instead of rooting for Dex and Rachel to work, I just wanted them both to stop being so selfish and to stop hurting Darcy. (Wasn’t she supposed to be the bad guy?)

Dex’s father puts it best when he says something like, “What we want isn’t always what’s right.”

Does media treat Charlie Sheen better than Chris Brown?

Robin Roberts interviews Chris Brown on "Good Morning America" about his new album and Rihanna. After the interview, Brown reportedly broke a window in his dressing room.

Sure, they’re both woman beaters, but only one of them is frequently asked about that part of his past. The other is egged on enough to capture statements about having “tiger blood” and “Adonis DNA.” But one of them is also a rage-aholic who still has tantrums after court-ordered anger management classes and has probably been prepped on how to handle the questions by a team of people.

After his blow-up following an interview on Good Morning America, Chris Brown reportedly broke a window in his dressing room and, after ABC called security, he split with his entourage and took to his Twitter account to vent. According to New York Magazine, Brown tweeted (and has since deleted): “”I’m so over people bringing this past shit up!!! Yet we praise Charlie sheen and other celebs for there bullshit.” Bad spelling and overuse of exclamation points aside, Chris does have a point. Charlie Sheen has been plagued with reports of abusive behavior in most of his relationships and, although he’s asked about at least one instance often, he’s not asked about it in every interview. Chris’ problem is that he’s not looking deeper into why. But, hey, he only had 140 characters.

Charlie Sheen claims he’s never abused a woman, but two of his ex-wives both cited violence pointed toward them from Sheen. Kelly Preston, his former fiance, was also “accidentally” shot by him in 1990 and the relationship ended soon after. I’m not convinced all of these reports are untrue, especially considering his years of drug addiction.

Chris Brown gets all of the media attention on his one incident because of who he abused. I read an article (I’d link it if I could remember where it was from) that really went into detail about the types of women Sheen chooses. They’re usually starlets who’ve done enough roles to be recognized in some circles, but are in no way famous and none of his former partners have really reached the so-called A-list. Kelly Preston is simply known as John Travolta’s wife and someone you may recognize if you’re watching a marathon of 80s films. Denise Richards looked like she was on the fast track toward becoming an A-list sex symbol after Wild Things, but that never panned out, although she did have her own reality show and several other movie roles. Brooke Mueller has been in a couple of films and worked on ET, but was largely unknown before she married him.

Brown, on the other hand, abused one of the most-known entertainers in the music businesses on Grammy weekend. Rihanna is an internationally recognized recording artist, so anything that happens to her will interest a percentage of the population that is significant enough to merit questioning for years. Twenty years from now, when he’s married with kids, only performs for charity events or awards show tributes and is promoting his new children’s book inspired by his experiences as a father, every television personality will ask him about Rihanna. The sad truth is, it’s not about how many women you abuse, it’s about who you abuse.

Another factor in their treatment is their reactions to questioning. Sheen seems to have embraced his insanity as some form of sanity and is more comfortable with questioning. He’ll tell an interviewer when he thinks a questions is dumb and will explain why without getting angry; he’ll be more annoyed than anything. Brown gets visibly heated. On Good Morning America it seemed as if he might spring out of his chair and start biting Robin Roberts, as he did Rihanna during their episode (if you don’t believe me, read the police report).

Now that he’s parted ways with his publicist, maybe Brown will find someone who can really show him how to behave and get back on track with his career. And maybe this new album will also help. Look for a review of it in the next couple of days. At least his future seems much more certain than Sheen’s.

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2011 Oscar Predictions

I did pretty well guessing for the Golden Globes, so I’m going to guess about the Oscar winners in a few key categories. Let’s see how I do.

Best Picture:
Who Should Win:
Everything except “The Kids Are All Right” (which was still a good movie) and “The Social Network”
Who Will Win: “The Social Network”

Best Actor in  a Leading Role:
Who Should Win:
Javier Bardem for “Biutiful” or Colin Firth for “The King’s Speech”
Who Will Win: Javier Bardem for “Biutiful”

Best Actor in  a Supporting Role:
Who Should Win:
Christian Bale for “The Fighter”
Who Will Win: Christian Bale for “The Fighter”

Best Actress in a Leading Role:
Who Should Win:
Natalie Portman for “Black Swan” or Michelle Williams for “Blue Valentine”
Who Will Win: Natalie Portman for “Black Swan” or Annette Bening for “The Kids Are All Right”

Best Actress is a Supporting Role:
Who Should Win:
Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit”
Who Will Win: Amy Adams or Melissa Leo, both for “The Fighter”

Best Animated Feature Film:
Who Should Win:
Toy Story 3
Who Will Win: Toy Story 3

Best Costume Design:
Who Should Win: “Alice in Wonderland” or “I Am Love”
Who Will Win: “The King’s Speech”

Best Directing:
Who Should Win: “Inception” (it isn’t nominated, by the way)
Who Will Win: “The Social Network”

Best Cinematography:
Who Should Win:
“Inception” or “The Social Network”
Who Will Win: “Inception”

Best Visual Effects:
Who Should Win: “Inception” or “Alice in Wonderland”
Who Will Win: “Inception”

Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay):
Who Should Win:
“Toy Story 3”
Who Will Win: “The Social Network

Writing (Original Screenplay):
Who Should Win:
“Inception”
Who Will Win: “The King’s Speech” (it’s actually adapted from a play, so it shouldn’t be in this category)

Britney Premieres Video for “Hold It Against Me”

I’m not exactly a huge Britney fan, but her tunes are pretty catchy, so it’s not unusual for me to listen to them on the radio, but I think I only have one of her songs on my iPod. When I heard that her new song was releasing about a month ago, I listened to it the day it came out and it was exactly what I expected–a pop beat made for a night at the club with mediocre vocals. Typical Britney. At least she was consistent.

This video was jarring. There are so many things I don’t understand. Why is she in some strange Willy Wonka-like tunnel with cameras all around her? Why does it seem like she doesn’t know what to do with her hands when she’s in the tunnel? Why is she fighting a double of herself? What is even the concept of this video? Don’t even get me started on all the hands poking out of her dress.

My most important question: where is all the dancing? Britney’s choreographer, Brian Friedman, told MTV’s “The Seven” that this was going to be a dance video. He said as the video got closer and closer, they’d be hurting their backs. What little dancing I saw looked like it wasn’t even executed well by Britney, but the editing made it very hard to tell. The focus seemed to be more on key moves we’ve all seen (the dramatic arm in the face also in “I’m a Slave 4 U”) and her face. If this is what back-breaking rehearsal looks like, I’d hate to see what it looked like when they were just taking it easy.

It wasn’t really a bad video, but it was trying so hard to be artistic. Britney’s barely even an artist, so the thought that she’s artistic is a little laughable.

It’s not like this little review will even matter, though, Britney will always underperform and people will always buy her albums. It’s the way of the world.

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Everybody Knows That Kanye’s A Monster

 

Jay-Z in the music video for Kanye West's "Monster." The song and video also feature Rick Ross and Nicki Minaj.

What’s being called an unfinished version, I haven’t found sound confirmation that it’s not finished, of Kanye West’s Monster leaked onto the Internet today. It’s the latest in an unholy emergence of music videos trying desperately to be artistic, but just turning out to be awkward and, frankly, forgettable. Kanye raised the bar a little, as compared to the other videos (anyone seen “Loving You No More” by Diddy Dirty-Money?) by creating a video that was almost good. Too bad it just stayed in the realm of OK.

It’s nothing to write home about. In fact, I’m not going to write a lot here because I can barely remember most of it, with the exception of Nicki Minaj’s scene, which features her Barbie alter-ego tied up by her Nicki alter-ego. Her scene is really good. That, along with how laid back and, for lack of a better phrase, “chill” Jay-Z and Rick Ross are, is the only thing that saved the video from being a complete disaster. Other than that, there’s just a lot of models playing dead and running around dressed like various monsters. I don’t know what exactly Kanye was doing, but his presence isn’t really necessary; in the video or in the music industry.

I can’t embed the video on here, so check it out on YouTube.

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Music & the Triple-Word Repetition

Katy Perry is infamous for the use of three-word repetition on her new album "Teenage Dream."

Is it me or are artists and songwriters just getting lazy? The Grammy nominations made me sick because most of the nominees wrote lazy albums. The verses are usually mediocre, filled with ranting instead of depth, and the choruses commit the deadliest sin of song writing–the triple (sometimes quadruple) word repetition.

The problem with the repetition is that it doesn’t add anything relevant to the song and often makes no sense. It’s a ploy to take up space because the artist and/or songwriter doesn’t have enough talent to write a song full of meaningful words. This repetition is even happening to good songs with meaningful lyrics, but they just don’t care enough to find a way to make a chorus. I call it laziness, but they probably call it music.

Let me give you examples:

“Make ’em go ‘Oh, oh, oh!'” – from “Firework” by Katy Perry

“You made me wanna say bye bye, say bye bye, say bye bye to her” -from “Deuces” by Chris Brown

“I could really use a wish right now (wish right now, wish right now)” -from “Airplanes” by B.O.B ft. Hayley Williams

You know what the biggest problem is about these examples? They’re all Grammy-nominated songs (“Firework” isn’t individually nominated, but the album it’s on is nominated for Album of the Year). The people who recognize greatness in music seem to be on  board with this lazy way of doing things.

Listeners usually don’t know what artists are saying most of the time (just look at Soulja Boy’s career; although, he hasn’t been doing too well lately), so I doubt many people have even noticed. Until we all come together and actually LISTEN to the songs, then artists are just going to put out whatever crap they feel like selling to the masses.

And the masses will buy it.

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