Music Video of the Day: Go Away by Jakalope (2005, dir by Lisa Mann)


Hi, everyone!

Normally, this is Val’s feature but she’s currently in recovery after overdosing on Abba-related videos and attempting to watch Rob Zombie’s Halloween, all in the same night.  So, I’m going to take this opportunity to toss in a music video from my favorite Canadian band, Jakalope!

(Jakalope was not only heavily featured on Degrassi but they even did a version of that show’s timeless theme song.)

From their debut album, It Dreams, here is Go Away!

The video for Go Away continues the story that was started in the video for Feel It.  Both videos were directed by Lisa Mann.

It Dreams was produced by Trent Reznor and his also one of the five writers credited for this song.  His influence certainly is felt, in both the song and the video!

Enjoy!

Music Video Of The Day: Feel It By Jakalope (2004, dir by My Pet Skeleton and Lisa Mann)


Today’s music video of the day is Feel It by Jakalope, one of my favorite Canadian bands!

I’m a huge fan of both this song and this video.  The song, which was co-written by Trent Reznor, first appeared on Jakalope’s debut album, It Dreams.  It Dreams was also co-produced by Reznor and perhaps it’s appropriate that the video itself is reminiscent of some of the videos that Mark Romanek directed by Nine Inch Nails.

(The video itself was directed by Lisa Mann and graphic artist Vincent Marcone, aka My Pet Skeleton.)

One of the great things about being a fan of Degrassi is that it’s exposed to me Canadian bands, like Jakalope.  In fact, from season 4 through 7, Jakalope performed the show’s famous theme song.  As for Feel It, it can be heard in Ghost In The Machine, the premiere episode of Degrassi’s fourth season.

In fact, the entire fourth season was full of great music!  In particular, Islands in the Stream, the season’s 6th episode, featured a beautiful song called Pretty People, which was performed by the Robber Who Robbed The Town.  I have searched and searched and I have yet to find Pretty People ANYWHERE!  Seriously, it is sooooo frustrating!

Oh well.  At least I have Feel It

Music Video of the Day: Closer by Nine Inch Nails (1994, dir. Mark Romanek)


We’ve reached the end of my little journey from synthpop to industrial rock, and I think I’ve saved the best for last.

I didn’t watch MTV much in the early to mid-1990s, but I did on occasion. This was one of those music videos that would instantly stop me in my tracks. If it was on, then I was in front of the TV. At the time, it was the music video with the spinning pig’s head that seemed forbidden somehow. I also remember it being one of the most weird and best put together music videos of the time. Oh yeah, and the song is awesome. This is coming from someone who was not a fan of Nine Inch Nails either. I appreciated this song, I liked The Perfect Drug, and certainly was aware of their existence, but that still didn’t do it for me.

Today I remember Trent Reznor spinning on his back in the air more than anything else about it. The rest is filled with disturbing imagery, or at least imagery that appears disturbing when it is shown the way it is. I mean a lot of it is just stuff you would expect in a museum exhibit. One screwed up museum exhibit with the Warren Commission judging you for being there, but still. I’m also pretty sure that’s a picture of Jack Nicholson on the wall next to the monkey reminding me that I eventually have to do Jesus Christ Pose by Soundgarden. That’s really all I have to say because while I may love the song and video, I still have no real idea what it means. I just know that I want to watch it over and over till I figure it out, or it remains a mystery. Shouldn’t be too hard though, but I kind of like it just being a visual feast without any particular purpose to me.

This is one of those music videos where we know more than just the director.

Krista Montagna produced it, and appears to have produced some music videos for Madonna. She was also a production assistant on Silent Night, Deadly 2 (1987). That means the woman who produced this music video was probably there to witness Eric Freeman deliver his insanely over-the-top performance. Perhaps she was even there for “Garbage Day!”

On photography we have Harris Savides. He worked on numerous music videos. Some notable examples are Everybody Hurts for R.E.M. and Criminal for Fiona Apple. Not bad. He’s also done some work on feature films like Zodiac (2007), American Gangster (2007), Milk (2008), and Frances Ha (2012) among others. Again, not bad.

Robert Duffy edited the music video. He basically worked on other music videos that Mark Romanek made. Although, he did edit R.E.M.’s Losing My Religion. He has worked in feature films too, having edited The Cell (2000) and Self/less (2015).

Tom Foden worked as the production designer. Tom Foden did a few music videos, and what do you know, he was the art director on Radiohead’s Fake Plastic Trees. I didn’t expect that tie-in with what I said about Ministry’s Over The Shoulder. Foden also worked on The Cell and Self/less among other feature films as a production designer.

I guess the one we have to thank for Reznor spinning on his back in the air is Ashley Beck who did the visual effects on this and two other Mark Romanek music videos. She’s done visual effects on Romanek’s One Hour Photo (2002) all the way up to Suicide Squad (2016).

I guess I could go to Wikipedia and find out the intention of the music video, but I’m not going to do that. I’d like it to remain a mystery for me to crack for the time being.

Enjoy!

Quick Review: Gone Girl (dir. by David Fincher)


gone-girl-posterI stumbled onto the novel for Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl in a mall. It sat near the front of the store with the rest of her books, emblazoned with one of those “soon to be a major motion picture” stickers and a “#1 New York Times Bestseller” label on top. I figured I try it, unaware that David Fincher was involved on the project. During that read, I ran to the Barnes & Noble in Union Square to pick up Flynn’s other books, Sharp Objects and Dark Places. After a co-worker and I finished these (I haven’t read Sharp Objects yet), we agreed that we enjoyed them, overall.

Of Gone Girl the Motion Picture, Flynn herself handles the screenwriting duties and she presents an adaptation so close to her novel that I wouldn’t be shocked if the film receives the same response as the first Harry Potter film. I only spotted 2 distinct changes, and these don’t damage the film in any way. They just may make you say..”Oh, crap, she didn’t keep that.”, If anything.

“But Lenny..” You might say, after hearing me tell you this over pizza and soda. “You’re losing me again, you’re talking too much. I never read Gone Girl. I could care less about the book, I just want to know about the movie because tickets are expensive, dammit! Wrap it up. Is it worth seeing or not?”

In a word, yes. Flynn’s story and Fincher’s direction are like Wine and Cheese here. Flynn’s machine gun writing and Fincher’s pacing method could make them as hot a duo as True Detective’s Nic Pizzolatto and Cary Joji Fukunaga. If actress / producer Reese Witherspoon was involved in getting these two together, she may have another gem under her belt to put next to her film Penelope.

Gone Girl is the story of Nick and Amy Dunne, a happily married Missouri couple on the verge of their 5th Anniversary. When Nick suddenly discovers his wife is missing, the investigation into her disappearance seems to lead back to him, presenting the question of whether our hero may or may not be involved. Just as with the novel, the audience is given glimpses into Amy’s story through flashbacks of their life together. The movie dances from chapter to chapter (or scene to scene, I should say) in this fashion and does so pretty well. You’ve a love story wrapped in a mystery.

The casting is spot on. There’s not a single person in this film that seemed like they didn’t fit their part. Both Ben Affleck (Argo) and Rosamund Pike (Jack Reacher, The World’s End) are magnetic when theyre not dealing with each other and if the movie manages to stumble into Awards season, their names could get thrown into the hat.

The supporting cast in Gone Girl is somewhat strong. Carrie Coon does a fine job as Nick’s sister Margo, which was definitely a good choice. It’s Kim Dickens (Hollow Man, Treme), Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry who have the best screen time of any one outside of the leads. Every one of them help to pick up the story when you think it might waver a bit.

“Great!” you may say, getting up to leave. “I’ll check it out. Thanks for letting me know.”, To which I’d ask..”Don’t you want to know about the direction? Cinematography?” You might sit back down, sigh and roll your eyes, as if to say…”Sure, not like you’d let me leave without telling me anyway, right?”

At this point, everything is technical.

Fincher’s direction is straightforward. Working with Jeff Chernoweth, his cinematographer from Fight Club & The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, the lighting is what you come to expect from the two. Colors in the present are muted, muddied and almost clinical. By contrast, Amy’s flashbacks appear bright and colorful, but the audience may notice this changing as the story progresses. You could almost say it’s the Zodiac color scheme layered on a different story. Gone Girl doesn’t feel like a “Fincher” movie in the way The Shining was Kubrick’s. It’s more of a Flynn story that would look really good if Fincher put it on screen. I’m not sure if there’s a better way to describe it, actually.

Gone Girl falters in the dialog at times. I had a few moments where scenes that felt fine in the novel fell flat in the film, particularly in some of the flashbacks. Have you ever had a moment where you watch a film, see two people talk to one another and say to yourself (or the person next to you), “Who says that, really?” The relationship of Nick and Amy was a hard, abbreviated sell for me, probably because of the time constraints. You know they’re together, and love is implied (and sexually displayed, I might add), but I can’t say that I recognized a big chemistry between Pike and Affleck. When acting around everyone else they’re great, but between each other, they lost me a little in the beginning. If it were a Blu Ray, I’d be tempted to tap that Chapter Forward button. Mind you, this is coming from a book to movie comparison, so a viewer that hasn’t read the book may respond differently to what’s on screen.

I will say that separately, Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck are wonderful in this as Nick & Amy. I hope that this gets Pike some more lead dramatic roles, as she was more than memorable here.

Both Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross handled the scoring duties for Gone Girl. In their 3rd go around with Fincher, the sounds are similar to The Social Network, though a bit more subdued. They have a few standout tracks, and their music blends well in Gone Girl, though.

Overall, Gone Girl makes for a interesting night at the cinema, but it’s best viewed if you can manage to avoid the hype and catch it just to sate a curious mind.

Gone Girl – The 2nd Trailer


The 2nd trailer for Gone Girl was released recently. David Fincher’s and Gillian Flynn’s film adaptation of Flynn’s popular novel focuses on a writer dealing with the disappearance of his wife. While the trailer expands things a bit compared to the teaser (as any trailer would), there’s the strangest set of casting choices for this film. What I’m most excited about is Flynn handling her own screenplay. Movies are always different from books, but I’m hoping it works out. One fills in the blanks as they go through the story, and I read this before finding out anything concrete about the film. Additionally, I’m also curious about what Trent Reznor  and Atticus Ross are doing for the soundtrack, which also comes out around the same time.

Gone Girl premieres in cinemas on October 3rd.

Lisa Marie’s 10 Favorite Songs of 2011


Continuing my series on the best of 2011, here are ten of my favorite songs from 2011.  Now, I’m not necessarily saying that these were the best songs of 2011.  Some of them aren’t.  But these are ten songs that, in the future, will define 2011 for me personally.  Again, these are my picks and my picks only.  So, if you think my taste in music sucks (and, admittedly, quite a few people do), direct your scorn at me and not at anyone else who writes for the Shattered Lens.

By the way, I was recently asked what my criteria for a good song was.  Honestly, the main thing I look for in a song is 1) can I dance to it and 2) can I get all into singing it while I’m stuck in traffic or in the shower? 

Anyway, at the risk of revealing just how much of a dork I truly am, here are ten of my favorite songs of 2011.

1) What The Water Gave Me (performed by Florence + The Machine)

Musically, 2011 was a good year for me because it’s the year that I first discovered Florence + The Machine.

2) Only In My Double Mind (performed by Centro-Matic)

This is a great song from one of the best bands to come out of North Texas.

3) Man or Muppet (performed by Jason Segal and Walter)

Featuring lyrics from the brilliant Bret McKenzie.  This song makes me cry every time.

4) Immigrant Song (performed by Karen O, Trent Reznor, and Atticus Ross)

Say what you will about David Fincher’s rehash of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, it had a good soundtrack.  This cover of Immigrant Song made the film’s first trailer bearable.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t really featured in subsequent trailers, being replaced by Daniel Craig going, “I want YOU to HELP ME catch a KILLER of WOMEN.”

5) Friday (performed by Rebecca Black)

Yeah, yeah, I know.  It’s a terrible song and you know what?  That’s why I can’t help but love it.  Listen, there are thousands of terrible song released every year but there are none quite as a terrible as Friday.  The genius of Friday is that it took everything that we associate with terrible music — nonsensical lyrics, insane autotune, a socially irresponsible message, creepy rappers who show up out of nowhere and for no good reason — and then just smashed it all together into the YouTube video that refused to die.  Add to that, a few months ago, me and my BFF Evelyn got like totally drunk and then wandered around the streets of Dallas singing this song at the top of our lungs and I swear, every guy who passed by yelled words of encouragement at us. 

(And, by the way, if you’re going to hate someone, hate on Fred Phelps.  Leave Rebecca Black alone.  Life’s too short.)

6) Hold it Against Me (performed by Britney Spears)

Yeah, yeah, I know.  Everyone loves to hate on Britney blah blah blah.  This song is fun to sing in the shower and you can dance to it.  And, quite frankly, that’s all I need.

7) Beard (performed by Burning Hotels)

This is from another North Texas band.

8) Fucking Perfect (performed by Pink)

An anthem.  (Yes, I know this song came out in 2010 but it was important to me in 2011 so I’m listing it here now.  So there.)

9) Love Is The Drug (performed by Oscar Isaac and Carla Gugino)

From the Sucker Punch soundtrack comes this sneakily subversive cover.

10) No Light, No Light (performed by Florence + The Machine)

Finally, what better way to end this list than with some more of Florence + The Machine.

Finally, I want to close this list with a song that came out long before 2011 but it’s an important song to me and it was sung by someone who we lost far too early this year.

Coming tomorrow: ten of the best things I saw on television in 2011.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (dir. David Fincher)


I’ve probably gone back and rewritten this review multiple times over the past few hours. I’ve been struggling to come to a final conclusion to how I felt about the film. On one hand it is a hollow crime thriller, all polish and no substance, and on the other it is an exceptionally crafted dark and mysterious tale of sex, corruption and murder that oozes with atmosphere. One could make the case for either, and many critics have argued in favor of one side or the other. After a lot of contemplation, I’ve come to decide that it actually seems to rely on both being hollow and atmospheric, but what continues to conflict me is whether the former can truly be overlooked even if crucial to the final product.

‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ stars Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist who has recently come under a lot of scrutiny after being accused of making up a story about a wealthy executive and losing the case of libel brought upon him. Facing financial and credibility problems he is hired by Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) a wealthy entrepreneur  who wants Mikael to solve a ‘cold case’ that has haunted him for forty years, that being the disappearance of his grand-niece Harriet who he believes was murdered by a member of his corrupt family filled with Nazis and recluses. As Mikael delves deeper into the mystery of her disappearance he hires the assistance of Lisbeth Salander, a goth-hacker with a dark past who has her own personal issues to deal with, specifically a financial guardian who wants sexual favors in order for her to access her money. When they are finally brought together they discover the dark secrets of the Vanger family and its links to a serial murderer case that begins to threaten their own lives.

David Fincher, who directed ‘Zodiac’ and ‘Se7en’, is no stranger to graphic and dark thrillers so it is no surprise that he handles the creation of ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ with a level of competence few other directors could have. Along with the help of cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth and being set in Sweden the film has a very dark and cold (often literally) tone, making an atmosphere just as chilling as the subject matter and beautiful to look at. Sadly under the gorgeous and dark visuals and the bleak and mysterious atmosphere there isn’t much to be had. There is a real lack of emotion and soul.

I can only assume that Fincher’s intentions from the beginning were to avoid any real substance, and to make a film just as hollow and sadistic as the story is was trying to tell. There is just about no emotion and so no reason to be attached to anyone except Lisbeth, but our empathy for her stems more from the vial acts we see acted upon her and less from truly knowing who she is, and why she is so emotionally restrained. It is not until the last twenty minutes that she gets any sort of development, but was it too little too late? Again I cannot decide. One could argue that this insight into the character earlier on would have made us care for her more, which I can understand. But I also question whether or not she could have even opened up the way she does at the end without having first gone through the events of the film, in particular the relationship she has with Mikael. Either way, I’m just glad Fincher went with Rooney Mara to play Lisbeth.

It is hard not to compare both film versions of the Lisbeth character, and even harder to choose which was better. This is mainly because both films, although similar in many ways, have very different tones. The Swedish version is a much more straight forward thriller and Rapace’s Lisbeth fits that film in being just a strong and tough individual, though there doesn’t seem to be too much below her surface and most of the development of her past is shown. Mara’s Lisbeth is a much more complex character, and although the film doesn’t give her much depth in terms of story until the very end, Mara gives off hints of a disturbing past just in the way she talks and moves, especially when men get too close to her. In reality she is a much weaker character than in the Swedish version. I personally liked that soft side because it makes her feel more like a vulnerable woman so when she fights back it feels more powerful.

It is this humanization that really helps propel Fincher’s adaptation over the Swedish version in my eyes. Even Daniel Craig, who put on a very good performance, is given a lot more to do and a much more interesting personality. He gives the character a bit of charisma, and wasn’t just a monotonous individual, like in the original, making it easier for us to care for both him and Lisbeth. It also makes their odd but provocative relationship seem more genuine and intimate.

All of this stuff I loved…but then I fall back to feeling like it was all for nothing. I mean it looks pretty, and the mystery is intriguing and the atmosphere is dark and cool, but once it is all over nothing really sticks other than the technical aspects. This isn’t helped by the fact that it over stays its welcome for the last few minutes, even if it adds to the characters. Luckily the pacing is done well enough to never make it feel boring but it does end up being rather anti-climactic. But I feel a second viewing is necessary.

With that said, as conflicted I am about everything else one thing that I can say for certain was fantastic is the score. It was crucial in the creation of the moody and dark atmosphere. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, who did the Oscar winning score for ‘The Social Network’, continue to impress and help give the film a pounding and chilling heartbeat. Also the ‘Bondesque’ opening credits, a brilliant animation of dark tar, leather and gothic imagery set to Karen O’s cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant Song’, was absolutely stunning.

So overall I will say that it is an incredibly well-crafted and dark thriller with fantastic visuals and a wonderful performance by Rooney Mara and because of that it certainly deserves a lot of credit but below the surface it is a rather hollow and anti-climactic story making it hard for me to love it as much as I might have wanted to. It also did not help that going into it my anticipation was at an all-time low due to the hype that was built up around it and by how much I liked the original. So for now I’ll just say I enjoyed it for what it was, it certainly is well crafted enough to deserves the praise it is getting, but a second viewing will determine whether or not I truly thought it was a great film. Still I recommend it for those interested.