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SIMPLE REVIEW: Focus

Howdy people of the internet, after a bit of a gap away from the cinema I’m back to do my review for Focus. This review will be another one of my simple reviews where I try to sum up my thoughts on the film a concise manner. Now I have eagerly been anticipating this film for a while now mainly because it is Will Smith’s first film for a while and I hoped it would be good. So is it? Well read on and find out.

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So the story goes like this:

“Nicky Spurgeon is an extremely accomplished con man who takes an amateur con artist, Jess, under his wing. Nicky and Jess become romantically involved, and with Nicky’s profession of being a liar and a cheater for a living, he realizes that deception and love are things that don’t go together. They split, only to see each other three years later… And things get messy.”

I thought the story in this film was smart and well-executed. This film is part drama, part romance, part comedy and it does a balancing act between all of these genres. What I liked most about this film is the sense of style, the logic that comes with stealing and being a con people in general and its themes of trust and deception, mixing business with pleasure and never losing sight of your main goal. My only nitpicks are: 1) The film doesn’t really give you a specific indication of time that Nicky and Jess spent together so it is hard to buy the ‘love factor’ of their relationship. 2) One thing that the film does well is that it keeps you guessing and has a few twists and turns, it is great, but one does wonder if some of the bluffs were necessary.

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As for the cast they were all pretty good. So let’s start with Will Smith as Nicky Spurgeon. Smith is a very charismatic man and he’s always been a leading actor in most of his films, but here he is a little more subtle, he’s still a wonderful actor with charm and emotion, but he doesn’t overpower his other colleagues. I liked Smith in this film, his character while engaging and fun, was problematic, dubious and the least heroic person he’s played. Margot Robbie as Jess Barrett was also very good. Robbie came across as an actress who has been on the big screen for a while as she handled her role with style, charm and dramatic flair. Together Smith and Robbie has really good chemistry and you could really buy their attraction and relationship. Rodrigo Santoro did a goof job as Garriga and Gerald McRaney was pretty stern and funny as Owens. I really enjoyed BD Wong as Liyuan, this guy’s part was one of the best parts of the films. And it was great to see again Brennan Brown as he did a good job as Horst while Adrian Martinez provides many moments of humour as Farhad.

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In conclusion Focus is a good film, it has solid story with some surprises, humour and great lead performances from Smith and Robbie. While the film is not perfect and has a few issues, they are nitpicky at best and as a Will Smith comeback film it is a good return to form. I would recommend this film as it smart, heartfelt and kind funny.

Rating: 7.5/10

So have you seen Focus and if so what did you think of it? Please be sure to leave your comments below and I’ll see ya on the next review, laters! :D

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2015 in Film Reviews, Films, Media, Reviews

 

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Rewatching Films At The Cinema

Howdy ladies and gents of the internet, how are you all doing today? I just wanted to do a blog post on something that I like to do from time to time which is rewatching films in the cinema.

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There is something wonderful, fun and kind magical about watching a film on a projector in room full of other people who are sharing the same/different emotional responses. Most big film fans are all about this kind of thing. If you like a film a lot, then you’ll want to check it out again right? Multiple viewings of films in the cinema is something that people do for many reasons whether it is to show support for their favourite films or for bragging purposes or just because they’re obsessed.

I love getting the chance to a film more than once in the cinema, however it wasn’t always like that for me.

As a child to my mid/late teens, going to the cinema used to be reserved for special events like birthdays, major film releases or family outings (going with my dad and sister). So unless my dad was taking me or I was out with my friends, then the cinema was not a very regular thing. But all that changed in 2008. Now before that year I had watched a few films more than once in the cinema, but I never had the money or desire to see any of them more than twice… But then May of 2008 came around and I saw Iron Man, and honestly that film changed my world. Now I had seen many comic book films, but that film was the first film that seemed like a comic book come to life, but with a great sense of realism, like it could exist in our world. It was so much fun and that was the main factor that grabbed me. So I watched it two more times which made Iron Man the first film I saw three times. It was totally bizarre to me to be sitting in the cinema watched the film again for the third time, but that’s how obsessed I was with the film.

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Then after 2008 I ended up watching a good few films more than once on numerous occasions. In 2009 I ended up watching the J.J. Abrams Star Trek three times as well, that film really left impression on me, as a person who grew up seeing the different Star Trek incarnations on TV and seeing it become a more action-oriented sci-fi adventure, it was a surprise, a bloody delightful surprise. The following year was the major turning point for me as watching films started to become an addiction. The brilliant Toy Story 3 came out in the summer of 2010, and it made me shed manly time each time that I saw it during the final scene. I didn’t think I would cry the third time, but somehow that film was still able to get the better of me. But even more hardcore was my viewing experience came from watching Inception. Christopher Nolan was a director I had come to respect from his work on Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and Memento, so I was hyped for Inception, but the end result was so much more. The film had action, thriller and sci-fi elements all in one place with lovely execution and an amazing soundtrack. The film captured my soul and I watched it again, THREE MORE TIMES. People thought me insane for watching the film that many times, however, I loved the film that much I just had to see it again (that it took me three times to fully understand the film lol).

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From there I took things one step beyond. From 2011-2013 I ended up seeing a lot of films on three occasions Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Dark Knight Rises (that may have been four times) and Man of Steel (though that was accidental), and in 2012 I saw The Avengers four times (much love for Marvel Studios as you may be able to tell). But my biggest repeat viewing comes from 2011 when I saw Thor, FIVE TIMES! Now that may seem quite absurd considering that it is one of the lesser liked films of the MCU and because there are better films that I’ve listed beforehand, however, I do love Thor, but seeing it in the cinema that many times was accidental. I saw it with my friends, then once again with my sister, then with another friend, then with my family and then finally with my uncle. It was just a case of going with the flow which resulted in a lot of time with the god of thunder, but it was hella fun so I’m not complaining.

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So why did I make this blog post? Well I just wanted to share with you some of my crazier cinematic adventures and show you how much I love going to the cinema. Now as you may have noticed a lot of those films happen to be superhero-based and that’s mainly due to the fact that they’ve proven to be the most entertaining and rewarding experiences for me. That and films of the sci-fi genre too. I can easily say that without my Cineworld Unlimited Card I would not have seen as many films as I have over the last six years. Getting to see good films in the cinema more than once is a good feeling and I’m looking forward to 2015’s future films like Avengers 2, Star Wars, Spectre and Mad Max 4 to name a few.

So do you like to rewatch films in the cinema and if so what’s the most amount of times you’ve seen a film in the cinema? Please let me know in the comments below and I’ll see ya on the next blog post, laters! :)

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2015 in Films, Life, Media

 

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My Thoughts on the Oscars 2015

Good day to you ladies and gentlemen of the interweb, it seems like the Oscars has come and gone once again and I feel like I should give you my quick thoughts on it.

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Now I have to say, unlike last year, I didn’t have much interest in the awards season. I skipped the Golden Globes and the BAFTAS and I was almost going to skip the Oscars too, but after the nominations came out I was curious to see who would win. So before talking about the winners I have to say that I did not watch the Oscars this year because 1) I was too tired. 2) It feels more like something to watch with friends and I didn’t have my best mate with me like last year. And 3) It just didn’t feel the same kind of hype and unexpected mystery that came with last year’s event.

Anyways with all that being said here are the winners:

Best Picture

Winner: Birdman

American Sniper

Boyhood

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game

Selma

The Theory of Everything

Whiplash

Best director

Winner: Alejandro G Inarritu, Birdman

Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel

Richard Linklater, Boyhood

Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher

Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

Best Actor

Winner: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Steve Carell, Foxcatcher

Bradley Cooper, American Sniper

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game

Michael Keaton, Birdman

Best Actress

Winner: Julianne Moore, Still Alice

Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night

Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything

Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl

Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Best Supporting Actor

Winner: JK Simmons, Whiplash

Robert Duvall, The Judge

Ethan Hawke, Boyhood

Edward Norton, Birdman

Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher

Best Supporting Actress

Winner: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Laura Dern, Wild

Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game

Emma Stone, Birdman

Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Best Adapted Screenplay

Winner: The Imitation Game

American Sniper

Inherent Vice

The Theory of Everything

Whiplash

Best Original Screenplay

Winner: Birdman

Boyhood

Foxcatcher

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Nightcrawler

Best Animated Feature

Winner: Big Hero 6

The Boxtrolls

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Song of the Sea

The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Best Animated Short

Winner: Feast

The Bigger Picture

The Dam Keeper

Me and My Moulton

A Single Life

Best Cinematography

Winner: Birdman

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Ida

Mr Turner

Unbroken

Best Costume Design

Winner: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Inherent Vice

Into the Woods

Maleficent

Mr Turner

Best Documentary Feature

Winner: CitizenFour

Finding Vivian Maier

Last Days in Vietnam

The Salt of the Earth

Virunga

Best Documentary Short

Winner: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1

Joanna

Our Curse

The Reaper

White Earth

Best Film Editing

Winner: Whiplash

American Sniper

Boyhood

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game

Best Foreign Language Film

Winner: Ida (Poland)

Leviathan (Russia)

Tangerines (Estonia)

Timbuktu (Mauritania)

Wild Tales (Argentina)

Best Live Action Short

Winner: The Phone Call

Aya

Boogaloo and Graham

Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak)

Parvaneh

Best Make-up & Hairstyling

Winner: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Foxcatcher

Guardians of the Galaxy

Best original score
Winner: The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game

Interstellar

Mr Turner

The Theory of Everything

Best Production Design

Winner: The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game

Interstellar

Into the Woods

Mr Turner

Best Song

Winner: Glory, Selma

Everything is Awesome, The Lego Movie

Grateful, Beyond the Lights

I’m Not Gonna Miss You, Glen Campbell… I’ll Be Me

Lost Stars, Begin Again

Best Sound Editing

Winner: American Sniper

Birdman

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Interstellar

Unbroken

Best Sound Mixing

Winner: Whiplash

American Sniper

Birdman

Interstellar

Unbroken

Best Visual Effects

Winner: Interstellar

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Guardians of the Galaxy

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Well what do I think of this year’s winners? Well it is a combination of happiness and lack of interest. The main winners I was happy about was:

  • J.K. Simmons Winning Best Supporting Actor: While it could be argued that he should have been in he Best Actor category, the fact that he won just makes me happy. His performance in Whiplash was one the best of last year and was too intense to ignore.
  • Eddie Redmayne Wins Best Actor: While his performance in Jupiter Ascending left people cringing, what he did in The Theory of Everything was too incredible to dismiss, the performance that he did was insanely good.
  • Patricia Arquette Wins Best Actress: All I have to say is that this woman did such a great job in Boyhood and was the clear winner, good stuff.
  • Big Hero 6 Wins Best Animated Film: While I could argue that How To Train Your Dragon 2 was a slightly better emotional experience, Disney’s latest animated feature was far too much fun to ignore.
  • Glory Wins Best Original Song: Of all the films that came out, Selma had the song that I remembered the most and felt an emotional connection to. While The Lego Movie has a very addictive and fun song, “Glory” is just far too touching to not have won.

Other than those awards specifically I’m not that fussed about anything else because it was either predictable or not that important to me. I am very happy for The Grand Budapest Hotel as it got so many awards, but since it was one of SUPER favourite films of last year I won’t be jumping over the moon about it. I didn’t see Still Alice so I can’t talk about how good Julianne Moore was and I STILL haven;t seen Birdman so I can’t tell whether it was a better film than Whiplash (my favourite film of 2014 if it had come out in the UK beforehand).

In conclusion I think I may have cared if I had watched the event on TV or online, maybe I would have cared more if some films haven’t been snubbed back in the Oscar nominations. But as it stands I am happy for some of the winners, but most of them were on the predictable side.

So what do you think of the results of this year’s Oscars? Did the films that won deserve to win or not? If you watched it this year did it live up to your expectations or were you disappointed? Leave your comments below and I’ll catch ya later. :D

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2015 in Films, Media

 

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The Joys of Watching Parks and Recreation

Howdy people of the internet, time for a semi-review of sorts. Today I wish to talk about one of my favourite TV shows in recent history, Parks and Recreation, one of the best comedy TV shows I have seen for a long time. If you have read this blog before then you will know a little while ago I did a blog post about my history with TV shows and some of my favourites of all-time, but the one show I was probably missing and I would add now is Parks and Rec. It is THAT good. Now that the show is in its final season with the final two episodes set to air tomorrow, I thought it would be nice to talk about this show and why it kicks so much ass.

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Before talking about the show, I wanted explain why I started watching it. basically I had heard some talk about Parks and Rec back in 2012 and 2013 on various websites and fair amount on AMC Movie Talk. But it wasn’t until Chris Pratt was cast as Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy that I decided to give the show a watch (that and the fact that John Campea of AMC Movie Talk spoke so highly of him on the show). And that’s where it all started.

So why do I love this show? Allow me to explain…

In a nutshell the story of Parks and Rec follows the absurd antics of the town’s public officials as they pursue sundry projects to make their city a better place. The show is set Pawnee, Indiana and follows the adventures of Leslie Knope as she attempts to improve the town through government with her crew from the parks department.

The reason the show works is because of the following three main reasons: 1) It is funny, 2) The cast is brilliant and 3) It never stays the same.

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I have to admit that the first season did take some time to get into, it was fine, but the show didn’t find a focus and it’s funny factor until season two. From there all of the stories have more focus and energy, the jokes are much better and the characters really start to show their more unique and hilarious personalities. Each season afterward presents new, exciting and absurd stories for us as viewers to see, nothing ever stays the same for too long and thankfully things change for the better rather than ruining the formula of the show. The are surprises to be found and plot twists that happen in the most surprising of ways, the show’s almost like a comedy mixed in with a soap opera. There is good humour but also a lot of drama to be found (but I’ll get to that later in this post.

One of the main things that make this show work so well is the humour. People who read this blog know that I’m not the biggest fan of comedy-based stuff, though when I find a TV show that I find really funny, then I’m a happy place. For a time I thought Community was the funniest US TV show I’d watched, but then Parks and Rec, came along and blew the former out of the water. Parks and Rec is funny, it is really funny. The show has some of the snappiest humour I have seen in any show in a long time. Whether it be verbal or physical humour, it works so well and as the seasons go on the show’s funny factor stays consistent and provides many laugh-out-loud moments. Plus since the show is done in a documentary style with characters able to the break the fourth wall and talk to the audience, it just adds a level of intimacy and humour that other shows lack.

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The best thing about the show is its characters. The characters of Pawnee happen to be some of the most absurd fictional human beings ever conceived, they’re like all of the people that go to Community‘s Greendale Community College, except on a much crazier level. Whether it is the primary, recurring or guest cast members, everyone gets their chance to shine in this show. What is neat about the citizens of Pawnee is that most of them are all given plenty of screen time for you understand who they are and why they are funny, so when they make future appearances you remember and appreciate them more.

Firstly we have Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope who is delightful to watch. Leslie is a woman crazy obsessed with government and a lot of strange habits, however she is also very kind and is a brilliant friend to all of her coworkers. Poehler is just perfect for this kind of role and I love how much her character’s progressed. The gorgeous Rashida Jones as Ann Perkins is also great, she start’s out as an outsider and a nurse but eventually become integrated into the government through her friendship with Leslie. Aziz Ansari as Tom Haverford is one of the most funny people in the show, the man is classy, but also selfish, arrogant and sarcastic, but all of those traits make him so likeable. Then there’s Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson who is arguably my favourite character. He is a man of few words, hates government, loves meat and normally likes to distance himself from his coworkers, and that’s just a few elements that makes him amazing. I LOVE Offerman’s performance and he just makes me smile whenever he has key scenes in the show.

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Another great person is Aubrey Plaza as April Ludgate. Here we have a live-action version of Daria, except much more creepy, cynical and lazy. April is SO much fun because she is cute and yet so awkward and strange. And then there’s Chris Pratt as Andy Dwyer who is the character I think it arguably the best person in the show. The guy is incredibly stupid and child-like, but he’s also very sweet and his singing and physical humour makes the show SO much fun to watch. Pratt’s energy and charisma really elevate the show and provide some of the most memorable scenes in the series. Adam Scott as Ben Wyatt is probably my least favourite character in this group, that being said he has his moments where he is pretty funny (and that mainly comes from being around Leslie). Rob Lowe as Chris Traeger is just one of the best people ever. He is inhumanly heathy, absurdly positive and has such a great relationship with everyone. Jim O’Heir and Retta also bring me much joy as Jerry Gergich and Donna Meagle. Donna is a surprisingly funny and sophisticated woman who has great moments with Tom while Jerry is a man who just suffers, whether he is getting into accidents, being ignored or just being pranked by his colleagues, there is never a dull moment when he is around.

I also love small recurring characters like the brilliant Jean-Ralphio (Ben Schwartz), the sassy/crazy Joan Callamezzo (Mo Collins), the absurd/sexy Tammy II (Megan Mullally), the humourous Brandi Maxxxx (Mara Marini), the absurd Bill Dexhart (Kevin Symons), the always entertaining  Perd Hapley (Jay Jackson) and quiet and creepy Orin (Eric Isenhower) just to name a few.

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Watching this show feels like more than just 30 minutes for fun TV, it feels more like checking on good friends and seeing what they’ve been getting up to from episode to episode. What the writers and actors do so well with this show, more so than a lot of others, is make you feel connected to these characters and their situations with very real, emotional and relatable stories. For all of the humour that takes place in this show, there is a A LOT of heart, so much so that there are episodes that make you want to cry tears (sometimes of joy and sadness). I love the show so much that I re-watched the whole thing again (before season seven had aired) and now we’re on the final season and I’m not quite ready for another one of my favourite shows to end, but I guess this rollercoaster ride has to end at some point.

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In conclusion Parks and Recreation is pretty much one of the best TV shows I ever decided to watch. Few shows have the power to engage me on such a level where I am addicted and need more like a crack-head junkie. The cast is brilliant, the humour is great and each season beyond the first brings something new, strange and fun to the table in ways that most shows can’t. If you haven’t experienced the awesomeness that is Parks and Rec then I implore you to do so, you’re missing out on some good stuff yo. :D

So have you seen the awesomeness that is Parks and Recreation and if so what do you think or it? Whatever your thoughts be sure to drop them in the comments below and I’ll see ya on the next blog post.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2015 in Media, Reviews, Television, TV Reviews

 

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SIMPLE REVIEW: The Wedding Ringer

Howdy people of the internet, time for a new film review and today I’ll be talking about The Wedding Ringer. Now I wasn’t too fussed about watching this film, but since I was going out with my sister and dad yesterday I thought we needed a laugh. So now that I’ve seen the film I am ready to pass judgement.

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The story for this film involves Doug Harris, a man who is about to get married to the woman of his dreams, however he does not have a best man for his wedding because he has no friends. Running out of time and options, Doug turns to the only person who can help him out; Jimmy Callahan, a man who runs a best man service for grooms who don’t have the friends necessary for the wedding event. Together Doug and Jimmy have to pull off the most incredible best man service without anyone finding out.

The plot for this film is simple, familiar and effective. Some of the story details you can see coming a mile off, if you’ve seen any comedy film that has some heart to the story (especially when it comes to the relationship between friends) then you’ll know where things are going with the main characters. Though, that didn’t bother me as this is what I’ve come to expect from this genre of film. What mattered to me the most was the humour and luckily this film is funny. This film throws all the standard jokes that you’ve come to expect from comedy films with a lot of verbal and physical humour, that being said, most of it is hilarious. From some great Doug and Jimmy moments to a car chase to a wonderfully choreographed dance sequence to an insanely rough American Football game, this film has many laugh-out-loud moments.

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When it comes to the cast they were great. Kevin Hart as Jimmy Callahan/Bic Mitchum was lovely. This film was just Kevin Hart being himself and your enjoyment of this character and the film will depend on whether you’re a fan of his or not. The man is loud, crazy and super charismatic, but that’s what makes him so likeable. He’s like a little tornado of energy that constantly comes and goes, he’s swift, but you remember that he’s there. Josh Gad as Doug Harris was also great. Doug is a sweet guy, but he’s a loner and has a lot of hidden issues, but it isn’t until he meets Jimmy when he starts to come alive. This is probably the first film I’ve seen Josh Gad in and he was bloody funny and strange at the same time, and together I feel like Gad and Hart had some great chemistry, it looked like they were having a fun time while making this film. Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting is gorgeous and fun as Gretchen Palmer, Jenifer Lewis as Doris Jenkins was also great to watch and Olivia Thirlby was charming and quite beautiful as Allison Palmer (however it was a little distracting how she kept remind me of Chloe Bennet from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D). Then there’s some of Doug and Jimmy’s crew that I need to highlight. Jorge Garcia was delightful as Lurch/Garvey, Alan Ritchson and his funny face was great as Kip/Carew, I also liked Aaron Takahashi as Endo/Rambis, Nicole Whelan as Nadia and the hilarious Ignacio Serricchio as Edmundo.

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So in conclusion The Wedding Ringer, while it may not be to everyone’s tastes, is a fun little comedy with good performances and a crazy sense humour. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this film, it’s not perfect, but it is ridiculous and that’s the kind of humour I like.

Rating: 7.5/10

So have you seen The Wedding Ringer and if so what did you think of it? Please be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments below and I’ll see ya on the next film review, laters! :D

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2015 in Film Reviews, Films, Media, Reviews

 

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Favourite Songs #37: Yellowcard – Ocean Avenue

Howdy people of the interweb, and welcome to the 37th edition of my series of blog posts dedicated to some of my favourite songs ever in life. This is the first post of 2015 for this blog series and today I’ll be talking about one of my favourite songs in rock music which comes from Yellowcard and the song in question is “Ocean Avenue“.

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Heck yeah, this is my jam son! I know I say that a lot, but I can’t help it. This was the song that introduced me to the sound of Yellowcard and since then it has only gotten better with age.

Check out this awesome tune below:

Oh yeah, such a good sound. So what makes this song kick so much ass? Well it is mainly because it has such a feel-good sound. From the time song begins with the guitar, drums and then with the vocals, you know you’re in for a good time within the first 5-10 seconds. And it’s always a good thing when you get into the groove of a song straight from the beginning. I love this song for both the instrumental side of things and the vocals too. I always like bands with great vocalists that not only sound good, but can sing their lyrics with passion and Ryan Key does the job so well. I love the lyrics to this song, they are lovely and heartfelt. The lyrics were apparently about where the band used to hang out and have memories in Jacksonville, and I can definitely hear that, and while I always thought the song was about relationships and good times gone by. One of the things I’ve always appreciated about this song and Yellowcard in general was the way in which they were able to incorporate violins into rock music and make it work in a cohesive and beautiful way, I never thought it would work, but these guys make it sound so nice!

This song takes me back, about 6 or 7 years now. Back in college (once again) when I was going through my discovery of rock music, around the time I found AFI, I came across “Ocean Avenue” by Yellowcard. Then from there I listened to the albums Ocean Avenue and One for the Kids and really got into their music. And while it wasn’t until the last two years when I started listening going through the band’s discography, “Ocean Avenue” has remained one of my favourite and most frequent songs on my music playlists.

In conclusion “Ocean Avenue” by Yellowcard is one of the best feel-good bit of rock music that makes me feel good every time I hear it. After all these years the song still makes me smile and evokes a lot of nostalgia and memories of better times. If you have yet to experience this awesomeness then please do so because it is THAT good.

Well that’s another song review done, what do you think of my song choice today? Whatever your thoughts are leave me a comment below and be sure to come back next time for another song review yo!:D

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2015 in Media, Music, Reviews

 

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LATE REVIEW: Whiplash

Howdy ladies and gents, I have returned after a few days with a new film review and today I’m FINALLY getting around to talking about Whiplash. I’ve heard so much about the film and since its release in America I’ve heard everyone sing its praises, but I hadn’t seen it and even after its UK release this year I had to wait even longer to view it because my local cinema never bothered to show it. However, I saw it and I’m gonna say this right now, Whiplash is one of the best films I have ever seen, period.

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The plot can be summarised as the following: Andrew Neiman is a student jazz drummer and we following him on his journey to become the best drummer ever as seeks the respect and approval of a monstrous teacher, Terence Fletcher.

Talk about an intense film. At the time of me writing this review my heart is still pounding from the intensity of this film, that’s how much of an impression it left on me. Whiplash has a story that would be familiar and relatable to any person who has tried really hard at something that they are passionate about, whether they succeed or failed. This film deals with themes of dedication, passion and obsession. This film is about a power struggle between two opposing forces, both of them want the same thing, but have very different means of how they wish obtain perfection. The amount of tension in this film is unreal with so many moments throughout making sit so still just waiting to see what happens next, its heart-pounding action on the highest level. And that ending, my god, talk about edge-of-your-seat action, one of the most tension-filled, heartfelt and satisfying endings to any film I’ve seen in a long time.

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Now let’s talk about that cast. Let’s talk about Miles Teller as Andrew Neiman, bloody hell what a performance. Neiman is a bit of a loner and hangs out with his father, the only outlet he has is drumming and after he comes into contact with Fletcher his drumming technique becomes everything and he works his ass off just to get the approval of one of the meanest teachers ever. Neiman wants to be the best and he goes above and beyond to become the best, to the way he trains and see how fixated he becomes on this hobby after meeting Fletcher shows how much drumming really means to him whether he’s mashing up his hands, getting pissed off at Fletcher or shutting out the people that care about him. Teller commits to this role 100% as he is charming, dedicated and emotive as this kid who literally bleeds for his passion and you feel for him every step of the way. And then there’s J. K. Simmons as Terence Fletcher. Bloody hell, talk about mean. He is a jazz instructor who gives out tough love, but it is only to get the best out of his students and while you understand why he does what he does, it still feels like he steps over the line. Fletcher must be the most disgusting, abusive and cruel teacher in the history of existence, not since Agatha Trunchbull has there been such a mean person who verbally assaults students, however this guy is worse. He verbally rapes anyone who isn’t on-point and he doesn’t care who is watching, and for Neiman is like having the weight of the world on his shoulders. Simmons is so magnetic and attacks this role with such force and aggression, when he’s angry it’s like a frigging hurricane comes and knocks everything over. Also Paul Reiser and Melissa Benoist are good as Jim Neiman and Nicole.

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Oh and the presentation was gorgeous. The film was shot really well with a lot of great lighting, moody colours and great editing and camera shots were used in the music sequences where each scene moving along with the same amount of aggression or style as the jazz itself. Oh and the music, dear god, the music. I’m a big fan of jazz music, I believe it is one of the most universal forms of music to get down with and enjoy and this film has all of the right sounds. The music is perfection with all those gorgeous horns, pianos, percussion and everything, from the small sessions to be big performances, it was the best thing ever.

In conclusion Whiplash was amazing. I wasn’t sure if it would meet the hype after all of the time I spent reading reviews and hearing people go on about, but I guess seeing is believing. The story was great, the two lead performances were astonishing and the soundtrack was perfect. I cannot recommend this film enough, it is awesome. End of.

Rating: 10/10 (Yeah a perfect rating, haven’t given one of those out in a long time)

So have you seen Whiplash (and let’s be honest everyone ha at this point) and if so what did you think of it? Whatever your thoughts are be sure to drop them in the comments below and I’ll see ya on the nest review. Laters! :D

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2015 in Film Reviews, Films, Media, Reviews

 

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Bands I Got Into Too Late

Howdy ladies and gents, time for another personal blog post. Oh music, it is part of life and it affects in many ways and normally it is in a good way coming from a number of different artists/bands. However, there are cases where you come across some music, but then realize that you’re listening experience may have been a little better if you have found that artist/band beforehand. Today I’ll be mentioning a few of my favourite bands who I wish I had found earlier in life.

Audioslave

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Audioslave, this is the band on the top of this list. More so than any other artist/band ever, Audioslave are the ones I wish I have found while they were in their prime. They were a supergroup formed of Chris Cornell from Soundgarden and the instrumental side of Rage Against The Machine and were active between 2001 til 2007. I started listening to them in 2008/9, I was too damn late! Their first two albums Audioslave and Out of Exile are some of my favourite sounds in rock and some of that music really solidified my love for rock music. And since seeing the Red Hot Chili Peppers live in 2011, I really get sad to know that I’ll never have the chance to see Audioslave live. With Cornell’s vocals and the awesome musicians of RAT M, I feel like it would have been a beastly experience live. But I’ll never have that chance, especially since both original bands have reformed. Sad times.

Alexisonfire

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This is a band that really hurts me to listen to these days. Alexisonfire was a band I found by accident, then found one song by them three years laters and then didn’t start listening to properly until the year when they announced their farewell tour… And I proper got into their sound. Talk about messed up. Alexisonfire are probably the only band in my life who I’ve got addicted to in the space of a week. Crisis, Old Crows/Young Cardinals and the self-titled album has some of the most amazing and addictive songs ever, and when I saw them live it was the best experience ever. So it crushed me to know that the beginning of my love for this band was too late as they were breaking up and never going to make new material ever again.

Anberlin

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Much like Alexisonfire, I found the band randomly, really got into their music and saw them live in the year when they broke up and went on a farewell tour. Bloody painful. I think Anberlin are the most recent band in this list, so my connection to them isn’t as strong as the others, that being said I still have a strong love for their music, so it bugs me that I didn’t find them sooner. A lot of their music is my kind of sound when it comes to hard-hitting and soft introspective songs and since going through their material after their gig in London I really wished I had found them while I was in college or something.

AFI

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When it comes to AFI I’m kind of glad I found them the way I did. I mean it was through a cover version of “Miss Murder” in a Guitar Hero-styled Wii video game in 2008, and then after that I spent a day going though their material on Deezer. I caught this band when they were pretty much at the height of their popularity just a few years after Decemberunderground had been released, and over the years my love for this group has grown significantly. With all that being said, I feel like if I had found this band just a few years earlier I would be able to appreciate how long they’ve been making music and see their visual and musical transformation since the 1990’s into the 2000’s. Also I would have been able to see them live at least once, since I think 2009 or 2010, AFI have not come back to the UK to tour and it pains me considering how much I love this band. Something tells me it is not too late and there may be a chance that they will come back, but I’m not sure.

Blur

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After seeing No Distance Left to Run, I realized two things: 1) That I was not as much a fan as I had thought and 2) That there was a lot of amazing live shows that they’ve done over the years that I’ve never got to see. I’ve always liked Blur since childhood, their music was just very cool, fun and emotional, but it wasn’t until around 2012 when I really started going through their albums and appreciating all of the beautiful work that they’ve done. But obviously by that point it was too late, the band had already separated and even though they made a few comebacks, I wasn’t invested in them and their music enough to go to a gig. If I had at least gotten into them proper around my mid-teens I think I would have at least stood a chance of seeing them live while also being better associated with their music.

No Doubt

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Ah No Doubt, one of my favourite bands ever and probably the most nostalgic-based of all the bands on this list. This band is part of my childhood, I adore their sound and their music makes me feel so good. Even though I’ve been listening to the band for years, I didn’t become a mega fan until uni when I listened to all six of their albums, and it was at that point when I came to really appreciate the dedication, variation and love that went into their music with Return of Saturn being my favourite album. For years they were on hiatus, then released Push and Shove in 2012 and started touring, but they didn’t do too many shows and never made it beyond America. And now with Gwen Stefani doing her solo stuff again, I don’t know if I’ll ever get to see her together with the band live. If only I had gotten into them sooner.

The Smashing Pumpkins

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This is one of the bands I’ve been listening to a lot more recently. The Smashing Pumpkins are a band I’ve been aware of for many years, but  didn’t start listening to their music until around 2008/9 and even then it was just a few songs here and there. I’d say it was when I got to uni that I started to really explore their music and last year I heard their first and second last albums, Siamese Dream and Oceania, both of which are really great albums. While I’ve not heard all of their material and not all of it is good from what I’ve researched, it does pain me to know that the entire band line-up has changed so dramatically and been in such turmoil to the point where only Billy Corgan is only original member left. I would have liked to have seen the group in their prime or at least with their 2012 line-up. I love revisiting old music, but it does feel like I’ve been missing out for years on some great material.

Well that’s been my list, let me know in the comments if you’re into these bands or not and if there are any bands/artists that you got into too late as well. Until next time people, laters! :)

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2015 in Life, Media, Music

 

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SIMPLE REVIEW: Selma

Howdy ladies and gents, time for another new film review and today I’ll be talking about Selma. Now considering how stingy my local cinema is when it comes to films of this nature, I thought I wouldn’t get the chance to see this, but me and friend checked it out today and now I’m ready to pass on my thoughts.

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The premise for the film is as follows:

“A chronicle of Martin Luther King’s campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965.”

Emotions, that’s what this film made me feel, pure emotions. Films that deal with the struggle of black people will always hit home (being a black guy myself) and each time I watch a film like this I feel incredible levels of pain, but also gratitude for what the black people of the past had done for us people today. The film deals with a very specific period of the civil rights movement and not only displays from the perspective of King, but his family, followers and the politicians as well. It is great to see King rise to the occasion and fight for his people, but also face impossible odds that seemed stacked up against. This film does not shy away from the brutality of history, there is violence of the verbal and physical kind, but it is the physical which is hard to watch as black people are shot, beaten and whipped in a disgusting manner and one can only imagine what it would have been like to witness this first-hand. However this needed to be shown as it does show the cruel world we used to live in. In some ways I see some parrells to the film Fruitvale Station, while both films have very different source material, there is one major similarity I found: black people getting unlawfully beaten and killed at the hands of white law enforcers with the people responsible weren’t held accountable for their crimes because of crooked legal system and racism. Anyway back to this film, I thought the story was raw, painful, beautiful and uplifting, it moved at a decent pace and hit all the right emotional beats.

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When it comes to the cast this film has a pretty substantial amount of famous faces and if you know your film and TV stars then you’ll spot a lot of famous faces. Since there are literally too many people to mention I’ll try to be brief and highlight my favourite people.

David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, Jr., wow, what a performance. Oyelowo is an actor I’ve liked for a while now, but this is clearly his best performance to date as he transforms himself completely and delivers his lines with such passion, intensity and his physicality also makes you feel like you are watching King right there in the cinema. Tom Wilkinson was also very good as Lyndon B. Johnson, Wilkinson is one of those actors who shows up in a lot of films but here he has a more substantial role and does a very good job. Tim Roth also does a great job as George Wallace, while Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King delivered a solid performance too and then there’s Wendell Pierce from The Wire) as Hosea Williams who was lovely. I also loved seeing Ruben Santiago-Hudson (from Castle) here as Bayard Rustin, Common was also good as James Bevel, Cuba Gooding, Jr. as Fred Gray was a lovely surprise, while the appearances by Oprah Winfrey and Martin Sheen as Annie Lee Cooper and Frank Minis Johnson were small yet effective. Then there’s Giovanni Ribisi as Lee C. White, Andre Holland as Andrew Young, Lorraine Toussaint as Amelia Boynton Robinson, Niecy Nash as Richie Jean Jackson and Tessa Thompson as Diane Nash who did great too.

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In conclusion Selma is a well-directed film with an incredible cast, a well-executed story and beautiful soundtrack. Though hard to watch at times, I did feel quite empowered after I left the film, I would have enjoyed the film a lot more had the projection people has fixed the sound problems that happened throughout the film! But anyway, go out and watch this film, it deserves your time and you too will see it got robbed at the Oscar nominations ages ago.

So have you seen Selma and if so what did you think of it? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments below and I’ll see ya on the next review, laters! :)

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2015 in Film Reviews, Films, Media, Reviews

 

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SIMPLE REVIEW: Jupiter Ascending

Howdy ladies and gents, time for my latest film review and today I’ll be talking about Jupiter Ascending. I’d heard a lot of bad things about the film, but I thought I’d give it a chance because I like the Wachowski brothers. But after leaving the cinema I’m kind of lost for words as to what I just watched.

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So the story summary can be described as the following:

“In a bright and colorful future, a young destitute caretaker gets targeted by the ruthless son of a powerful family who lives on a planet in need of a new heir, so she travels with a genetically engineered warrior to the planet in order to stop his tyrant reign.”

I’m annoyed at this film because there are moments of originality and intrigue, however it is wasted on a convoluted and cliché plot. Throughout most of the film I felt like Towelie from South Park and kept saying to myself “I have no idea what’s going on.” Really, I’m not joking. There are moments, where things happen with several characters over many different locations and most of the time I wasn’t really following what was going on because of a few things like disjointed storytelling, odd pacing and a lot of jargon. Most of the time I didn’t care about what was happening on-screen and was just waiting for the next action sequence. Sometimes it feels like the film forgets what its main plot point is and gets lost with subplots or characters who come in and out of the film without any long-term relevance.

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When it comes to the cast the performances vary. Mila Kunis is still as gorgeous as ever and she does a decent job as Jupiter Jones, her character is a little annoying at times, but is more capable than most women in her situation usually. Channing Tatum as Caine is decent, he doesn’t do anything that is overly good or bad really, but he handles the action moments well. Also Sean Bean as Stinger is pretty fun and Douglas Booth is fine as Titus. However the main person I’ll remember from this film is Eddie Redmayne as Balem. Balem, he acts like this big bad villain, but he hardly does anything truly villainous and he is hardly intimidating especially when he whispers nearly all the time (besides when he freaks out and shouts). I’ve gone from seeing Redmyane in his best performance (The Theory of Everything) to his worst (this film) and it is just astonishing. This performance is pretty bad, however, at times he also turns into something very humourous to watch. Everyone else is either fine or irrelevant as they don’t have enough screen time for them to matter.

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The one thing this film succeeds in is the presentation. Visually this film is beautiful, truly a sight to behold with such gorgeous and detailed CGI on the characters, planets, cities and space, and so much more. It was incredibly clear, striking, realistic and colourful, and with the cinematography and action sequences, it makes for an awesome experience. And then there’s the soundtrack which is actually really good, and I was surprised to see that it was Michael Giacchino of all people. If you didn’t know already, but Giacchino is one of my favourite film composers and here he crafts a bombastic sound full of life, epicness and beauty. It does get a little over the top, but overall it is a really great score for not so great film.

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In conclusion, Jupiter Ascending, it is a film with ambition, great visual presentation and awesome music, but the story was a bit of a mess and the performances were a bit of mixed bag ranging from okay to terrible. There are moments to enjoy (sometimes for the wrong reasons) but overall it is not a film I would recommend.

Rating: 5.5

So have you seen Jupiter Ascending and if so what did you think of it? Was it good, bad or okay in your eyes? Please be sure comment below and give me your thoughts. Laters! :P

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2015 in Film Reviews, Films, Media, Reviews

 

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