Hey, I Just Met You…

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Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy…but enough already, Jesus! You may have noticed the seemingly never-ending stream of covers and spoofs of Carly Rae Jespen’s Call Me Maybe.  In the interests of convenience, I have decided to compile a definitive list of all of the various versions of the songs that you should watch/listen to. And then we can lay this bad boy to rest. Cool? Cool. Alright, lets get cracking.

  1. Carly Rae Jepsen, The Roots and Jimmy Fallon – This is pretty close to the original and even goes so far as to feature the original recording artist. But it’s worth a watch mainly for the looks on The Roots’ collective faces as they perform the thing.
  2. Abercrombie and Fitch Models – This one is pretty much my favourite, because it’s completely absurd. It’s just the original song, but with some super homoerotic shit happening in the background… and I’m not entirely sure if half of the male models involved realise exactly how gay it is. And the other half are really, really aware.
  3. Corgie Rae Jepson – Corgies are a great dogs. They’re short and fat with tiny little legs and they wobble when they run. They also do passable covers of inexplicably catchy pop tunes.
  4. Fun. – I find the full stop in Fun.’s name to be overly aggressive, like they’re just demanding that you enjoy yourself. As a child who went through a severe emo phase, I resent this and thus, find Fun. generally off-putting. But whatever. Their cover is good. Nate Ruess’ mouth kind of freaks me out though. But I guess that’s off-topic…again.
  5. Fleet Foxes – For those of you who feel like you have some sort of image that needs to be maintained, Fleet Foxes did a cover. As you can imagine, it’s suitably ethereal (or whatever adjective people are using to describe the Fleet Foxes now) and you can listen to your favourite catchy pop tunes without having other people look down on you. Bonus!
  6. Zombies – You need to have a zombie-related parody in their somewhere. This one is NSFW, but it is funny which is more than I can say for a lot of the other ones out there.
  7. Barack Obama – Everybody loves Barack Obama. Everybody loves Call Me Maybe. This way, everybody wins. (Except the Republicans).
  8. Former Secretary of State, Colin Powell – Not content with merely giving you Obama, the internet has also given us Colin Powell singing. Except there’s no lipdubbing or funny cuts. This actually happened.
  9. Obligatory terrible pop-punk cover – By a relatively unknown New Jersey outfit called Yes Virginia. There’s some impassioned singing that sounds an awful lot like the vocalist has a lip-ring and maybe a straigtened fringe. Also, apparently the lines “before you came into my life I missed you so bad” were too hard, because they brought in a female vocalist for them. Anyway, I chose this one because there should always be a terrible pop-punk cover but there don’t seem to be enough versions going around at the moment.
  10. Terrifying Donald Trump Lip-Sync (and the Miss USA Contestants) – If that bit doesn’t tell you all you need to know, just let me say that Miss USA contestants seem to have absurdly large mouths…all of them! Huge! I would take a stab at Donald’s toupee, but that material writes itself.

Right, so that’s it. That’s my definitive list of covers/parodies that you should hear. Now…can we all find something else to do, please? Thank you.

Cabin in the Woods or Australia, WTF?

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If you spend a lot of time on the internet (I do), talking to geeks (yep) and following actors who are also geeks on Twitter (guilty), you should cast your mind all the way back to April. You may remember some people hysterically sobbing “Joss Whedooooon” and gesturing wildly towards the cinema. That’s not all that unusual for Whedon fans, but this time it would have been because, after 2 years of waiting, Cabin in the Woods was finally out. Which was fucking excellent – except that I live in Australia and while everyone in the U.S was being subjected to Whedon-based feelings/torture, we in the Land of Oz weren’t even sure we were going to get a cinematic release. Last night, I finally saw Cabin in the Woods, but before I launch into my feelings (!!!!) about the film itself, I have a little preamble I want to get through:

Admittedly, this film had a pretty checkered history. It was originally shot in 2009 and was slated for release in early 2010. Then the 3D craze hit and they bumped it back to January 2011 so that they could convert it. But then we had that whole big problem with MGM imploding (by which I mean, it went bankrupt) and unsurprisingly, the release date was delayed again. It was then shopped around as one of the last pieces from MGM’s “old regime” and bought up by Lionsgate for distribution. It eventually premiered at SXSW in March 2012 and was released nationally in the U.S on April 13. And that’s JUST the U.S release. With a backstory that troubled, asking distributors to release Cabin in the Woods in Australia was apparently equivalent to asking them to give a mainstream cinematic release to an obscure Polish film in Fijian cinemas. In short, they weren’t keen.

Roadshow, who own the distribution rights here, announced that they were going to release it straight to DVD. Australians were outraged… or the small portion of the population who gives a shit about this kind of thing (i.e. online geeks) were outraged, anyway. Normally I’m not super on board with online outpourings of angst, but they kind of had a point this time around. While Cabin in the Woods hasn’t made absurd amounts of money at the U.S box office, its release here comes in the wake of some serious Whedon-love. I’ve already spoken about The Avengers‘ record-oblierating figures – the mainstream cinema-going public is aware now more than ever of Joss Whedon and his merry band of players. The fact that Cabin also features Chris Hemsworth pre-Thor is obviously another major drawcard. Aside from being the studly, handsome star of The Avengers (a small film, maybe you’ve heard of it?), he’s also Australian and one of the few successful Home and Away alumni. Had they been willing to put the money into promotion, Roadshow probably could have gotten the Australian cinema-going public to fork out their cash for Cabin in the Woods purely based on the fact that they had recently seen The Avengers. Instead, thanks to some seriously dedicated online campaigning, Roadshow finally agreed to a very, VERY limited cinematic release – like, 4 cinemas nationally doing a week-long run. And that’s how I ended up in a classic old cinema with barrel-vaulted ceilings on a rainy Tuesday night. That’s it. That’s the preamble. Now, ONWARDS TO FEELINGS!!

I have been avoiding spoilers for this film since March… MARCH, PEOPLE!! With a high speed internet connection and a Twitter feed, do you have any idea how hard it is to avoid all the random clever bits and pieces that people post online? I couldn’t even look at screen-shots, man! But I waited. And boy, was it worth it. I’m calling it now and saying that Cabin in the Woods is the best film I’m going to see all year. What’s that you say? There’s another 6 months left on the calendar? And a whole bunch of awesome blockbusters to be released between then and now? I DON’T EVEN CARE! Wait… The Hobbit comes out this year, right? Alright…sorry. Provided The Hobbit doesn’t suck, Cabin in the Woods is pretty much going to be the best and most clever film I’m going to see all year. Because this shit is fucking excellent.

Now, I know I usually do a bit of a break down of bits and pieces that I liked about the film or whatever but I’m not really going to do that here. The film is so clever and so elaborate that there’s no way that I could mention anything without fucking up the whole thing for everyone. And unlike certain other recent films (cough, Prometheus, coughcough) this one is actually worth waiting for. This is normally where I would put the trailer, but they recut it before it was released and it was kind of spoiler-ish. Instead, have a nice generic screen-shot, while I see what I can do about not ruining the entire film:

Looking at those kids, you probably think you’ve seen them before. More than likely, you have – these are the five stock characters from any good slasher flick: the jock, the nerd, the slut, the prude and the loveably stoned comic relief. I bet even now, you’re mentally picturing which order they get picked off in. I can tell you now that you’re probably wrong, because this is film is not what you’re thinking. It’s clever. Horror is a favourite for this kind of meta playing around because the tropes are so obvious and consistently reproduced. The Scream movies are a great example (seriously… a really good example, you should definitely go watch them again) and Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is worth a watch if you’re looking for something more recent. Everything that you expect to happen does, but not for the reasons you think it’s going to. By the end of the film I’d laughed, thrown my hands in the air and hidden behind the chair. It was an epic adventure.

There are sections of the film that feel contrived, but as more of the plot unfolds you realise that everything has been chosen for a very specific reason. Every single section where you’ve rolled your eyes or snorted derisively is part of a grand design. It’s amazing. I fell completely and utterly in love with this film. I can’t even articulate all the reasons that its excellent, but it is. And it’s a damn shame that more people aren’t going to get to see it.

TL;DR: Cabin in the Woods finally got a (limited) theatrical release in Australia. I saw it. It was awesome. You should immediately seek it out. Here’s the trailer if I haven’t convinced you:

If I have convinced you and you are conveniently located you can see Cabin in the Woods in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide. Click through for session times and locations.

Azealia Banks’ Liquorice Whip

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You guys are super-lucky today, because I’m on holidays and have had a lot of time on my hands. As such, it’s double update day!

One of my favourite things to happen in the last couple of months has been the surprise success of Azealia Banks’ 212. I love some filth and fury as much as the next person, but after enduring a year of having male friends and acquaintances tell me why Tyler the Creator and the Odd Futures gang were the most interesting thing to happen to the musical landscape since whatever else had been fashionable 12 months earlier, it’s really nice to hear an actual female voice pedalling some jazz about getting her plum eaten, ya know? In case you  missed it, it looks/sounds like this:

So, with a suddenly popular single that drops the c-bomb as part of its chorus, features some seriously catchy dance hooks and has a video that is inexplicably cool, the question is: where to from here? Cue the release of the official video for Liquorice.

I don’t know if you noticed, but there’s like four costume changes and a story-line. In other words, since the first single was so damn popular, someone has started pouring money in. Like, a lot of money. Unfortunately, it’s into a single that just isn’t as good.

Leaving aside for a minute the fact that the video is stupid (devil horns vs. a western shoot out…what?), musically Liquorice has tried to replicate what 212 already perfected. Both tracks pinch their samples from some pretty generic house tunes – Lazy Jay’s Float My Boat and Lone’s Pineapple Crush, for those of you playing along at home – and they both feature impressive word-smithery from Banks. However, where 212 makes you remember maybe why you went through that ‘house music phase’ a couple of years ago, if anything Liquorice makes you realise why you got out of it. There’s too much going on – the hectic drum sample, the grating synth and Banks’ jammed in chorus, all mash together to make a tune that, while listenable has none of the unexpected fun of 212.

Just because the money is going into pushing one kind of average single doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a decent Azealia Banks fix. There’s plenty of other tunes floating around YouTube – the rest of her 1991 EP is actually pretty good, and the Hudson Mohawk-produced Jumanji, from her forthcoming effort is, I suspect, destined to be remixed all summer. Hopefully, she’ll continue to produce lines like “bitch is fishier than chip shop” and we can all be happy.

Thoughts on ‘Prometheus’

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Having emerged recently from the mountain of uni work I was drowning under, I am now free as a bird. I had two thoughts immediately: ‘I must see Prometheus‘ and ‘I must update my blog.’ Having gotten the former out of the way, I thought it was about time to do the latter. So, in the interests of killing two birds with one stone, this blog is about Prometheus (shocking, right?) If you haven’t seen it yet and you don’t want stuff spoiled for you then you should go out, watch it, come back and tell me all of your thoughts on it. Ok? Ok.

Needless to say, I was ludicrously excited about Prometheus. The cast lineup is great (Noomi Rapace/ Michael Fassbender/Charlize Theron – joy!), it’s part of one of my favourite franchises ever (excluding the later films obviously, because let’s be honest: nobody likes Alien v. Predator – that shit is beyond stupid), I love me a good origin story and it’s directed by Ridley Scott. Even when the trailer looked kind of meh, I wasn’t put out, such was my faith that this would be great.

With so much build up and so much excitement, perhaps I was always bound to be disappointed; but I don’t think I was expecting to be disappointed this badly. So stupendous and all-consuming is my disappointment that I have had to compile a (very short) list of things that I actually liked about the film, just so that I can remember that they exist.

  • Visually, it’s stunning. We’re talking like, jaw-dropping. I saw it in 3D (to appease my mother who is definitely on that band-wagon) and the first five minutes gave me goose bumps it was that damned gorgeous. So. Much. Texture. As you’d expect from a grandiose sci-fi epic, the technology looks very swish and the alien landscapes suitably terrifying. One particular stand-out scene has Michael Fassbender standing in the centre of the universe. In short, it’s beautiful and (almost) worth watching for that fact alone.
  • The cast is pretty great. Michael Fassbender as David the possibly evil, definitely creepy robot is a high point. Idris Elba (or as my mother kept calling him, “Stringer from The Wire”) was endearing and kind of wonderful as Janek, captain of the ship ‘Prometheus’. Charlize Theron plays a formidable ice queen (those supermodel looks will do that). Noomi Rapace is like the Energiser Bunny throughout the whole film. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone get kicked, punched and generally walloped so many times and yet continuously get back up.
  • The C-section scene is the best bit of the whole film. Normally, I wouldn’t talk about specific scenes when I’m writing about reasons why a movie is good or bad, but there were so few things that were good about this film and this scene is so utterly perfect that I can’t not mention it. It’s tense. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time waiting for something to go wrong and everyone to die. Some serious suspension of disbelief considering that we’re talking about the main character performing major surgery on herself.

That’s it. That’s my list of things that were good about Prometheus. From the whole 124 minutes, that’s all I could take away from it.

Now, onto my bitching. Where to begin? So many of the problems with Prometheus stem from the fact that it feels a bit half-baked. The script, written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof, feels more like a first draft than something that was ready to be the 2012’s huge summer blockbuster. As with Alien, or any sci-fi horror crossover really, there’s a set of doomed stock characters. You’ve got the loveable wise-cracking captain, the hard-as-nails financial backing, the vaguely evil robot and the odd-couple-tough-guy-vs.-geek duo just to name a few. There’s nothing wrong with pre-established characters behaving in obvious ways. When you’ve got a cast that’s inevitably going to be picked off by some unseen alien threat, it’s probably easier if save all the real character traits for the people we’re supposed to remember while inducing generic feelings in your audience by killing off the loveable comedic relief first. Unfortunately, Prometheus couldn’t even seem to get that right. The set-ups we get from the introductory dialogue are never really followed through with, and for a specialist mission, there are way too many expendable characters whose deaths are never really explained.

The main problem with failing to correctly align your stock characters is ruined motivation. Take for example, your goofball odd-couple – Fifield and Millburn. You have a punk rock geologist with facial tattoos and a bespectacled biology nerd – doomed from the start, they’re obviously going to be the first to go. The question then becomes, “how?” Our first introduction to Fifield is a grunted “fuck off” directed at Millburn. It’s perhaps surprising then on their expedition to the alien cave, the two have mysteriously formed some sort of bond and upon finding the giant alien corpse (which the biologist takes no interest in) they decide to flee together. They get lost…which would be fine, except that the geologist is MAPPING THE CAVE USING HIS MAPPING DEVICES and the crew left on the good ship Prometheus ARE TRACKING THEIR EVERY MOVEMENT. Their death comes swiftly when they have to spend the night in the cave (by this point, alarm bells should be going off and a big neon sign that says “PLOT DEVICE” should be flashing). Anywho, what’s important is not that they die, but the fact that I didn’t care. I love the comic relief odd couple. I am always the first to bemoan the fact that the smartass doesn’t make it to the end (mainly because I feel like if I was ever in a horror movie I would be the smartass and therefore be doomed). But Fifield and Millburn’s characters are all wrong – they had no motivation for bonding over anything or forming any sort of relationship, so their united fear and eventual death doesn’t really mean anything because even as stock characters, they’re wrong.

Having said that,  none of the relationships in this film are particularly well written and a lot of them seem kind of superfluous. Elizabeth Shaw’s relationship with her husband Charlie is never fully explained. Charlie is sweet and obnoxious by turns, but not in a way that feels deliberate – just that the writers couldn’t really decide what his purpose was. Either way, he’s cannon fodder and you’re just left kind of wondering what the point was. Don’t even get me started on the way that David, the evil (maybe?) robot operates, because my god…I just don’t even know where to begin.

On top of that, even some major plot points aren’t followed through with. Now, before you jump all over me with the “but duuude, it’s supposed to prompt the big questions dude…like… the meaning of life and shit…” (read that in your best ‘I’ve-been-smoking-weed-for-the-last-three-days-by-the-way-have-I-talked-to-you-about-my-favorite-conspiracy-theories-lately’ voice) I don’t mean the big-picture shit. I mean basic, cohesive narrative writing. As I mentioned earlier, one of the best scenes in the entire film is Shaw’s C-section. I mean, the woman stabs herself in the leg with morphine and then cuts an alien foetus out of herself – it’s beyond epic. Unfortunately, the follow through is really, REALLY bad. After stapling (yes, actually) her stomach back together, she proceeds to just stagger around the ship in her underwear, bleeding everywhere like it’s not a big deal….AND NOBODY SAYS ANYTHING. She’s running through a giant space ship with a whole bunch of crew, and no one stops and says “Hey! Did you by any chance just slice a potentially threatening alien life-form out of your own stomach? Is that why the operating room is covered in blood? Oh ok, cool…well maybe we should at least go check that the earth-destroying new life-form that you sliced out of your gut is dead? Because if it isn’t, boy, will we look silly…” No one does that. And again, there’s that pesky alarm/neon sign combo shouting “PLOT DEVICE” in your ear. That’s just one example, but basically what I’m saying is that when you start leaving plot holes that big in a movie with that is supposed to have some ‘high concept, meaning of life’ shit going on, then people are going to call you out on it. Well… I’m going to call you out on it anyway. Cos it just ends up making us all look bad.

Now, I realise that according to Ridley Scott, Prometheus is supposed to “share strands of Alien’s DNA, so to speak” without actually being directly connected, but sadly, it all just feels kinda half-arsed. Alien was brilliant because beyond just being a slasher fic in space, there were some really good things happening thematically. It was tense, there was a female hero who just really kicked butt all over the place (Sigourny Weaver, run away with me) and it was just so well done. Prometheus tried to move beyond those slasher-movie stomping grounds into the high-minded life, the universe and everything, and failed miserably. All in all, I was disappointed. If you’ve read this and you haven’t seen it, you should probably go watch it just so you know what I’m talking about, because the good bits are very good. It’s just that they’re kind of few and far between.

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