27 Days of Old School: #25 “Voodoo Child” (by Stevie Ray Vaughan)


Stevie Ray Vaughn

“Well, I’m standing next to a mountain, chop it down with the edge of my hand”

To close out the night we have Stevie Ray Vaughan at #25 with his excellent cover of the classic Hendrix track, “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)”.

The blues wasn’t a genre of music that I had much experience growing up during the 80’s. It was during a senior retreat that I was introduced to one of the blues rising stars during that era of my life. He was Stevie Ray Vaughan and I only got to know him after he had already passed into legend after he died in a helicopter crash.

Since then I’ve become not just a major listener of blues and blues rock music, but I would say I’ve become a connoisseur.

While I’ve since listened to Jimi Hendrix’s original of the song and consider it the best version, I will always have a special place in my musical library for the one and only SRV.

Trailer: Jurassic World


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Perhaps hoping to avoid getting overshadowed by that upcoming Star Wars trailer that’s apparently going to be released this weekend, Universal Pictures has released the full trailer for Jurassic World two days early!

You’ve seen the teaser.

Now, watch the trailer….

(Chris Pratt is so cute.)

Here Are The Independent Spirit Nominations!


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The Independent Spirit Nominations were announced today!  Over the course of the last few years, the Spirit Awards have turned into a fairly accurate Oscar precursor.  That’s good news for Boyhood, Whiplash, and Selma.  (Birdman was also nominated for a lot of Spirit Awards but everyone’s known that it’s going to be a definite Oscar contender for several months now.)

I was happy to see both Ethan Hawke and Jake Gyllenhaal nominated.  Both of them are dark horses in the Oscar race and, hopefully, this will help both of them.

Among the more surprising snubs: The Imitation Game and Wild.

Also, please note that Foxcatcher, Inherent Vice, and The Grand Budapest Hotel were all ineligible for the Spirit Awards because of their budgets were deemed to be too high.  Foxcatcher and Inherent Vice both receive honorary awards.

Check out the nominees below!

BEST PICTURE
“Birdman”
“Boyhood”
“Love is Strange”
“Selma”
“Whiplash”

BEST DIRECTOR
Damien Chazelle, “Whiplash”
Ava DuVernay, “Selma”
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, “Birdman”
Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
David Zellner, “Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter”

BEST ACTOR
André Benjamin, “Jimi: All Is By My Side”
Jake Gyllenhaal, “Nightcrawler”
Michael Keaton, “Birdman”
John Lithgow, “Love is Strange”
David Oyelowo, “Selma”

BEST ACTRESS
Marion Cotillard, “The Immigrant”
Rinko Kikuchi, “Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter”
Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”
Jenny Slate, “Obvious Child”
Tilda Swinton, “Only Lovers Left Alive”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Riz Ahmed, “Nightcrawler”
Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”
Alfred Molina, “Love is Strange”
Edward Norton, “Birdman”
J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
Jessica Chastain, “A Most Violent Year”
Carmen Ejogo, “Selma”
Andrea Suarez Paz, “Stand Clear of the Closing Doors”
Emma Stone, “Birdman”

BEST SCREENPLAY
Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski, “Big Eyes”
J.C. Chandor, “A Most Violent Year”
Dan Gilroy, “Nightcrawler”
Jim Jarmusch, “Only Lovers Left Alive”
Ira Sachs & Mauricio Zacharias, “Love is Strange”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Darius Khondji, “The Immigrant”
Emmanuel Lubezki, “Birdman”
Sean Porter, “It Felt Like Love”
Lyle Vincent, “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night”
Bradford Young, “Selma”

BEST EDITING
Sandra Adair, “Boyhood”
Tom Cross, “Whiplash”
John Gilroy, “Nightcrawler”
Ron Patane, “A Most Violent Year”
Adam Wingard, “The Guest”

BEST DOCUMENTARY
“20,000 Days on Earth”
“CitizenFour”
“Stray Dog”
“The Salt of the Earth”
“Virunga”

BEST INTERNATIONAL PICTURE
“Force Majeure” (Sweden)
“Ida” (Poland)
“Leviathan” (Russia)
“Mommy” (Canada)
“Norte, the End of History” (Philippines)
“Under the Skin” (United Kingdom)

BEST FIRST FEATURE
“A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night”
“Dear White People”
“Nightcrawler”
“Obvious Child”
“She’s Lost Control”

BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY
Desiree Akhavan, “Appropriate Behavior”
Sara Colangelo, “Little Accidents”
Justin Lader, “The One I Love”
Anja Marquardt, “She’s Lost Control”
Justin Simien, “Dear White People”

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD (best feature made for under $500,000)
“Blue Ruin”
“It Felt Like Love”
“Land Ho!”
“Man From Reno”
“Test”

PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD
Chad Burris
Elisabeth Holm
Chris Ohlson

SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
Ana Lily Amirpour, “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night”
Rania Attieh & Daniel Garcia, “H.”
Chris Eska, “The Retrieval”

TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD
Amanda Rose Wilder, “Approaching the Elephant”
Darius Clark Monroe, “Evolution of a Criminal”
Dan Krauss, “The Kill Team”
Sara Dosa, “The Last Season”

27 Days of Old School: #24 “Here and Now” (by Luther Vandross)


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“One look in your eyes and there I see
Just what you mean to me”

Those opening lyrics are instantly recognizable to anyone who grew up during the late 80’s. Whether one was in junior high, high school, college or already settled down. It’s a song with not a single cynical bone in its making.

“Here and Now” was the song that introduced the velvet-voiced crooner Luther Vandross to the general public. He was already a favorite singer for those who followed the R&B and soul music scene, but for the rest of the world he was an unknown. After the release of “Here and Now” in 1989 he was not an unknown to the rest of the world.

It’s a song that’s become a staple at proms and formal dances. The song soon became at weddings and continues to this day.

Trailer: Predestination


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The Spierig Brothers have been two filmmakers whose work has been coming in under the radar since their cult-favorite horror film Undead came out in 2003. They followed this up seven years later with the vampire dystopian film Daybreakers.

Both films have their moments but (IMO) failed to reach the level of the filmmakers’ ambitions for both films.

It’s now been four years since Daybreakers and the brothers have a new film out and it’s another ambitions project that tackles the themes of time paradox and predestination hence the title of the film.

Predestination made it’s premiere at this year’s SXSW festival is Austin, Texas. It has since made a limited run in the US since late August.

27 Days of Old School: Mama Said Knock You Out (by LL Cool J)


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“Just like Mohammad Ali, they called him Cassius
Watch me bash this “

This song came out in early 1991 and went through like wildfire through pretty much the final half of my senior. One must realize that LL Cool J was a major presence in the rap I listened to growing up during the 1980’s. But as wont kids then and now, we listened to what was big at that time and it was mostly gangsta rap that dominated booming systems in the late 80’s.

LL Cool J was beginning to fade into the background as N.W.A. and Ice Cube and the rest of the West Coast gangsta rap scene was ascending. Yet, it was foolish to count out LL who people should’ve learned by then as a survivor of the rap game and he came out hard and strong the single off of the album of the same name: “Mama Said Knock You Out”.

In anime, there’s a character trope called “gar”. It’s a term reserved for anime characters so manly that they eclipse all males for as far as the horizon. This song was just that. It made LL Cool J reach the level of “gar” and the accompanying video helped in making it so. It was a shot to the new rap youngbloods and old-standing rivals (song was literally taking shots at Kool Moe Dee). The song also shoots down critics who have been calling LL as washed-up and a has-been. He sure told them all in the hardest way possible.

So, coming in at #23 and starting the stretch run to #27 is LL Cool J coming in so “gar” with “Mama Said Knock You Out.”

Review: The Walking Dead S5E07 “Crossed”


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“The things that we do they’re worth it.” — Michonne

[spoilers]

We’re now nearing the mid-point of season 5 for The Walking Dead. For a show that has had some major ups and downs throughout it’s four season (both creatively and behind-the-scenes) it looks like the show might be hitting it’s stride with this fifth. The first six episodes of this new season has ranged from excellent to very good. It’s a streak of consistency that we only saw glimpses of in the previous four seasons.

“Crossed” falls somewhere between very good to good. It’s not the best episode of the season and, for the moment, could be seen as it’s weakest. This is due to the format of the episode itself. Where the episodes prior to tonight’s concentrated on either the group as a whole in one place (Terminus and the church) or on particular characters, tonight saw the story jump back and forth between three groups. The main one being Rick’s rescue team headed into Atlanta to get back Beth and Carol. Then we have the smaller group left back in the church. To finish up this three-legged horse of an episode was the Abraham group soon after Eugene’s revelation.

There’s only so much one could do with three diverging story-lines in less than an hour’s time (AMC has been getting worse and worse with it’s commercial time for it’s most popular show). One could almost see how tonight’s episode was setting up for a much bigger and dramatic mid-season finale. Yes, there was much setting the table and pieces with “Crossed” and it made the episode feel abrupt in how things unfolded.

At times, we could almost sense an action beat about to let hell loose (maybe people this season has been spoiled by the season premiere), but then it’s only a tease. This happens with Rick and his group ambushing Agent Sitwell (HAIL HYDRA!)…I mean Sgt. Bob Lamson and his partner using Noah as bait. Their success was short-lived as they’re soon the victim of the very first drive-by on The Walking Dead. The same happens moments later between Daryl and Officer McBaldy (Licari on imdb) before Rick conveniently steps in to get things in hand. Tonight’s episode has been all about teases, but little to no pay-off until the very end and that one wasn’t too much a surprise.

We do get several good character moments from the show’s lead cast.

There were moments that show Rick balanced precariously over the edge of turning from pragmatic survivor into full-blown Governor or Joe. The first was when planning their assault to rescue Beth and Carol with his plan more about using surprise to kill Dawn and the rest of the Atlanta cops. His plan doesn’t have anything to do with minimizing casualties for the other side (which earlier Rick would have accounted for). He’s become so pragmatic in how he does things this season that killing seems to be getting easier and easier for our intrepid leader. The second time was when he saves Daryl from Ofc. Licari and there’s a moment when he has the cop in his sights where we don’t know if he’ll spare the man or shoot him in cold-blood. It’s some fine acting using nothing but his eyes done by Andrew Lincoln in this scene.

The rest of the episode sees both the church and Abraham group trying to deal with having to wait for Rick to get back or Abraham to come out of his near-catatonia. The former gives us a bit more work on Father Gabriel who seems to see his saviors as scary as the zombies who ate his congregation. Audiences will definitely react with incredulity at his actions to secretly flee the church despite knowing he has no idea how to survive out in the world. This behavior adds further insight as to Gabriel’s state of mind. He’s definitely not thinking clearly and it will be interesting to see if he becomes a bigger liability to the group as the season goes along.

The situation with Abraham and the rest of the D.C. was a bit more problematic in that they literally went nowhere. Sure, we saw some bonding moments between Glenn, Tara and Rosita (who is becoming more and more a person than just background). But Abraham doing nothing but going aggro or kneeling in silence made whatever momentum gained by the episode through the Rick group grind to a screeching halt.

Yet, tonight’s episode still manages to move the season forward in small bits and pieces. The title itself foreshadows what could be one of the season’s themes in that these people left alive have crossed some major moral lines to survive this far. They’ve had to do things that has been about surviving for another day even if it meant killing others or towards a mission that has cost lives which now means nothing. We see how all the things Rick has had to do since he awoke from his coma has been affecting him both in a good way and, also in a manner, slowly corrupting him. Abraham now feels useless now that the D.C. mission has turned to naught. Even Gabriel’s fleeing the church and those who have saved him continues his denial of this new world and what it has done to those he had shepherded.

So, while “Crossed” might not have been on par as the previous six episodes of this new season it was still something that moved the show to another mid-season finale that could change the cast dynamics once again. The question that will continue tonight and even after next week’s finale will be whether the writers will be able to keep up the consistent quality in the remaining episode or will they start to lose steam (like the second half of season 3) or meander along (like last season’s second half). Time will tell if Gimple and his writers will be up to the task.

Notes

  • “Crossed” was written by Seth Hoffman and directed by Billy Gierhart.
  • The pistol and suppressor used by Rick in tonight’s episode is a Heckler & Koch Mk 23 .45 with an Osprey Suppressor. We see him use this for the first time all the way in this season’s third episode, “Four Walls and a Roof”, to ambush Gareth and the rest of the Hunters.
  • Tonight was the first time we see the entire cast throughout the episode. Beth wasn’t in the first three.
  • People need to learn never to trust HYDRA and Sasha definitely learned this lesson the hard way.
  • It was very suprising and more than just a tad disconcerting to see SHIELD/HYDRA Agent Stillwell as an Atlanta cop in tonight’s episode. His heel turn in the episode’s end wasn’t surprising at all.
  • The episodes in Atlanta showed only glimpses of the firebombing that took place in the early days of the zombie outbreak, but we see for the first time the after-effects of the napalm runs on the city with the half-melted zombies near the former FEMA truck.
  • Some very gnarly practical and make-up effects work by the gore wizards at KNB EFX with the napalmed zombies.
  • Tonight’s guests on the Talking Dead are comedian Paul F. Tompkins and Christian Serratos and Sonequa Martin-Green (Rosita and Sasha of The Walking Dead)

Season 5