Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Brilliance That Is Wall-E

Will there be a better film in 2008? Possibly. If the year ends and I decide that Wall-E was the best film released, will I try to convince myself otherwise? Not a chance.

Wall-E is an absolutely amazing accomplishment. I have friends that write off animated films and haven't given this film a second thought after seeing the trailer. If you're one of them, please reconsider. This is a hilarious film, an astonishingly touching film, and one of the best love stories I've seen in years. That Pixar could convince me to care so much about the relationship between two technologically disparate robots is truly remarkable.

I won't go into the story, as you likely already know it. I will just say this: the very simple, straightforward emotions expressed from Wall-E as he risks his existence to get close to the robot whose mission he doesn't fully understand transcend animation and transcend traditional storytelling. If you're on the fence, see this movie now.

It is a visual masterpiece and may be Pixar's best film yet. (Remember, these are the people behind The Incredibles and the Toy Story films.)

Alright, I should stop gushing. But, here's an interesting point. After the film ended, my friends and I discussed the themes and the characters for over an hour afterwards, a similar amount of time devoted to films like No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood last year.

See it. You'll love it.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Califone: Spiders House

Pitchfork TV has an interesting video from Califone here. The song is "Spiders House" off their 2006 LP Roots & Crowns. I think it's a great album, on par with Roomsounds and Heron King Blues. This video gives the whole thing a creepy southern puppet theme. I really like it. Won't you?

Link via Pitchfork TV

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Strangers

Bryan Bertino's The Strangers is a confounding film. It sets up a pretty standard horror-film premise. A young couple drives to a cabin the guy's parents use as a summer home. It's in the middle of the woods and empty. There are strange knocks at the door and people wearing masks begin terrorizing the couple. There are literally thousands of interesting cinematic opportunities with this premise, and The Strangers does exactly zero of them. Once the evil strangers make themselves known, not a single thing happens for the next 50-60 minutes of the film. I could actually write out the entire second act of the movie in about two sentences and you'd think: "How did they manage to spend an hour only doing that?"

Liv Tyler spends about half the movie walking slowly around the house, peering behind corners, when a killer jumps out! The killer frightens her and then....doesn't kill her. Then the next scene there's another killer who jumps out and...doesn't do anything. It gets really tiresome after awhile.

Oh my god that's so scary! That killer is right behind Liv Tyler! I totally wouldn't suspect that this film is full of images like this that never go anywhere!

There's more to the "story" I suppose. I could tell you that Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman were at a wedding before they arrived at the cabin, that Speedman asked Tyler to marry him and she said no and they're not sure where to go from there. I could tell you that, but there's really no point to any of it. It's really just a way for the director to put a good 18 minutes of nothing in before the "strangers" show up. Oh, and the cabin is full of hip indie albums on vinyl (Do your parents own records by Joanna Newsom and Richard Buckner?)

Whenever I see a film that tends to bide its time through the second act, I always think that they must have some killer twist ending saved up to try and make up for it. The Strangers doesn't. It goes and goes and goes and ends.

There are worse ways to spend $11.50 I guess.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Two New Mercury Rev Albums

The Official Mercury Rev Site reveals some interesting news. Apparently, on September 29, 2008, the band will be releasing two new albums. One for sale, one available via free MP3 download. So, they're pulling kind of a half-Radiohead. You get one album, but if you want the "real" one, you have to buy it. The album in stores is called Snowflake Midnight and the free one is called Strange Attractor.

At any rate, Mercury Rev has been very hit-or-miss in the last few years, but I always hope they'll release an album that resembles Deserter's Songs, or at the very least, All Is Dream.

Here's a classic song from Deserter's Songs, called "Goddess on a Hiway"

Sunday, June 15, 2008

28 Days Lamer

In The Happening, something happens which causes people to start killing themselves. If you don't know what it is yet, I won't spoil it for you. Let's just say that if there was a spontaneous, nationwide mass suicide, I would blame it on chronic viewing of this film.

Just kidding, it's not really that bad. In fact, I recommend watching the first ten minutes, then leaving the theater and thinking about how cool the rest of the movie must be. It starts out remarkably well, with some shocking deaths and impressive Tak Fujimoto visuals. There are even some tense moments dispersed throughout. The blame for The Happening's failings must be unfortunately placed squarely on the shoulders of M. Night. It's as if he forgot that films should have a progression and a payoff. I'm not saying I need some miraculous twist ending, but I do, as an engaged viewer, appreciate a little closure.

I also think Shyamalan is a bit confused about what kind of filmmaker he wants to be. Much of the film's themes take themselves very seriously and the horror sequences are intended to be genuinely scary. There are, however, some moments of comedy, many of them actually intentional! You might even be with the tone of this thing for the first hour. Just wait until you meet the old woman. I defy anyone to keep a straight face during her argument with Mark Wahlberg. Oh oh! Or during the ridiculous iPhone product placement.

What all this adds up to is a film that has some intriguing scenes and quite a bit of nonsense. It's not as bad as The Village, though neither are most hysterectomies. It equals Lady in the Water in terms of sheer pointlessness. Zooey Deschanel is cool, though. I'm tempted to give her a pass.

UPDATE: My brother has written a more in-depth and certainly more scathing review on Crushed by Inertia.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Freelance Writing / Working From Home

At Mahalo, we're updating our entire database to include more helpful information. You'll notice longer guide notes with more sections. We're even starting to include citations so you can be sure you're reading information from a trusted source. Check out our recently updated page on the Labrador Retriever.

As such, the job here is much more writing-based than it once was. We're looking for people with great writing skills willing to work from home. The pay is $10 an hour, but you can make your own hours (for the most part) and get paid to do something you already do well. If you are interested, or know somebody who is, e-mail my editorial director at ck at mahalo dot com.

Here is C.K.'s blog post and one from Jason about freelance writing.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Ladytron: Ghosts

Awesome new video from Ladytron on Pitchfork TV. I've always tried to come up with the perfect music to listen to while driving through the desert. This song, Ghosts, doesn't immediately feel like a desert-driving song, but watch the video and you'll get it. The quality on this video is excellent. It looks like Michael Mann took Ladytron and a thousand rabbits out to Joshua Tree. Desolate and eerie.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Blog His Body

Leah D'Emilio's viral video entry is in as a finalist for Mahalo Daily.
Watch the Touch My Body Video and fall in love.