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Byzantium
Byzantium
DVD ~ Gemma Arterton
Offered by MightySilver
Price: $12.45
38 used & new from $5.69

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Metaphysical annihilation of Twilight. An overlooked, quiet masterpiece., May 1, 2014
This review is from: Byzantium (DVD)
Watching this film, I couldn't help but compare it to Twilight as the core of the stories are very similar. Where Twilight is vapid, melodramatic, and angst ridden, Byzantium is literate, contemplative, and dignified. Both stories focus on a female teenager in the midst of an existential crisis, yet Twilight handles this with all the grace of a gossip tabloid. Byzantium's approach pays dramatic dividends because we actually grow to care about Saoirse Ronan's Eleanor in ways that codify this film as an allegorical tale of life.

This slow-burning story regrettably won't satisfy every palette, but if you're even slightly curious about a vampire tale with an emphatically human core, Byzantium will reward you in ways Twilight degrades you.


Ixnay on the Hombre
Ixnay on the Hombre
Price: $9.99
132 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Lives perpetually in the shadow of Smash, Ixnay on the Hombre stands as one of the most engaging Punk-Rock CD's of all time, April 29, 2014
This review is from: Ixnay on the Hombre (Audio CD)
There's a reason Dexter Holland and the Offspring are very, filthy rich: The Offspring were one of the few Punk-Rock bands of the 90's to break into the mainstream, aided by ceaselessly catchy choruses, fiendishly clever writing, and the white-knuckle adrenaline that features consistently on this album. You never needed to be a fan of Punk-Rock to get into this band, because the tractor pull of good music transcends genres.

While Smash still reigns as an enduring testament to their legacy, being the best selling independent record of all time (which is no small feat!), Ixnay on the Hombre presents as a refinement of Smash's formula. It features the same pulse pounding aggression of Smash, but is punctuated by humorous levity and their sardonic sense of humor to add immeasurable depth to the album.

One of the things I've always respected about the Offspring: So many bands in this genre take themselves too seriously and allow their message to eclipse the quality of the music. The Offspring are antithetical to that in every way; they come off as a band with tremendous self awareness and their music conveys a charming playfulness.

A rare band who's defining work hasn't aged a day, Holland et. al deserve every penny they've made.


Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
DVD ~ Steve Carell
Offered by Media Favorites
Price: $6.30
29 used & new from $2.00

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely beautiful, moving film., June 11, 2013
(Please note this review does contain spoilers, but they are vague. You won't know exactly what happens, but you'll grasp the premise including the final scene, so please take note)

I normally have a great deal of understanding for differing opinions of various films. Except here. I can only reasonably conclude that people who detest this film either have no connection to their emotions, or more likely, are conditioned to bawk at any film romance as a manipulative contrivance.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is a film I viewed with no expectations other than hoping to be at least somewhat entertained. I certainly didn't expect to be emotionally floored, holding back the welling tears as the final scene unfolds and then...fades.

The film's weakest parts are thankfully in the first third. After that, the film picks up steam and emotional gravitas almost exponentially, scene by scene as it transitions from black comedy to an absolutely devastating love story. I'd argue both Carrel and Knightley give the performances of their careers, as they build a kind of unexpected chemistry you will NOT see coming during the film's initial third.

The basic premise, of course, is that the world is ending. What does one do if given only weeks to live? Better yet, what SHOULD one do? Carrel's life is on the outs, regardless of the asteroid but is given the chance to rekindle a lost romance with an old flame. Knightley's quirky optimistic nature is also threatened by her desire for something more meaningful than her self-absorbed boyfriend, and her very understandable desire to see her parents once more, back in England. Through comedic yet understandable events of the impending apocalypse, the unlikely pair are brought together and decide to help one another attain their final wishes.

To its credit, the film never submits to cliched, saccharine rom-com norms. It's much more intent to layer a kind of subtle propulsion of depth and charm, once again scene by scene, as Carrel and Knightley start realizing the only answer to what to do with the last weeks of their life is be around one another. During the final act,(after Carrel realizes the only thing he's searching for has been with him the entire time) Carrel offers a gesture of breathtaking selflessness that you won't see coming, and you're left wondering how the film could possibly end. Thematically tying it all together, Knightley returns by also sacrificing her initial intentions. Her emotions pouring out of her eyes and body language as she realizes the soul mate she's never had has found her only days before the world is to end.

I've mentioned it once, but trust me. The final scene is devastating yet absolutely beautiful. Purely, subtly, charmingly spellbinding. The pair lay in bed, as the asteroid makes its final approach. Knightley beginning to tremble with fear, her brimming optimism completely gone, replaced with only the realization that she's found real love much too late; completely juxtaposed by Carrel's tonal shift to a stoic guardian, tenderly caressing her hair while gazing so intently, it's almost as if he's looking through her, all to happy to have finally found someone to give his empty life meaning. It's touching. It's heartbreaking. It's everything a romance should be on film, and here it's so affecting I had to fight back the tears.

Somehow these two found an on screen chemistry (without seeing the movie, it seems impossible for Steve Carrel and Keira Knightley to have romantic chemistry) that carries the film, propelled by stellar performances and motivated by highest of stakes. If the world is ending and you've only weeks to live, you best spend it meaningfully. The explosion of emotion the final scene portrays, and in fact the entire film, is simply profound.

Highly, highly recommended. Check all preconceived notions at the door. And understand you're watching a love story. A real, human love story.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 8, 2014 12:27 PM PDT


Change of Seasons
Change of Seasons
Price: $13.99
106 used & new from $0.33

5.0 out of 5 stars 23 minute eargasm., May 27, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Change of Seasons (Audio CD)
Dream Theater essentially equate to gods amongst men. They're equal parts brilliant musicians and master songwriters. They've conquered the genre and every metal fan knows their work. With an impressive resume of albums, there is, in my mind, only one song that captures every intricate detail of this band's talent. It's "A Change of Seasons." Listening to this 23 minute track will take you on an emotional ride through crunching riffs and beautiful melodies, movements changing, ebbing and flowing with the seasons. As a single entity, ACoS encapsulates the soul of Dream Theater and gives the listener quite literally one of the most epic songs ever written. A masterpiece.


The Rules of Attraction
The Rules of Attraction
DVD ~ James Van Der Beek
Price: $5.00
260 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely underrated work of pure art., May 23, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Rules of Attraction (DVD)
I'm not going to divulge into a long winded review about why this film is so powerful. Suffice it to say, it is exemplary of real artistic filmmaking. This is raw, shocking, dark, and realistic yet masterfully pulled down with a sense of tangible gravity. When you have a film depicting such brutal constructs that are surprisingly close to reality, you're bound to offend a few people in the process. Lets face it, life can be a dirty, nasty, foul heathen. Not everything is rainbows and butterflies. The realism gives the film emotional resonance and the cinematography creates a perfectly fitting gritty and sublimely atmospheric set piece that elevates the film to a level of greatness.

Highly, highly recommended.


Violent by Design
Violent by Design
5 used & new from $13.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Without a doubt, THE premier underground hip hop CD of all time., May 21, 2012
This review is from: Violent by Design (Audio CD)
The production is mesmerizing, from the perfectly sampled Sacrifice, to the haunting strings of Trinity, Violent by Design permeated with some of the finest examples of hiphop production. Once you're able to draw your attention away from the masterful beats, you'll hear lyrics of pure verbal aggression, science and sorcery, religious conspiracy, and pure metaphysical philosophy. But make no mistake, this is hardcore hiphop. Not for the easily offended, VBD has to be one of the rawest outpouring of emotion/aggression of any musical CD in history. And almost each and every track is above and beyond the BEST tracks of other artists.

This CD is so easily recommended I believe it to be the hallmark of 90's underground hiphop. It's also severely underrated by critics.

Best Tracks:

I Against I
Speech Cobras
Sacrifice
The Deer Hunter
War Ensemble <- My personal favorite on the CD. Vinnie Paz and Esoteric's verses are legendary.
Trinity
Heavenly Divine (I prefer the remix version, it's a bit more raw)
Contra
Exertions Remix


Lost - The Complete First Season
Lost - The Complete First Season
DVD ~ Matthew Fox
Price: $17.52
450 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Mindblowing television, some of the most powerful and meaningful I've ever watched., February 5, 2012
I could string together a long line of adjectives to describe how brilliant the first Season of LOST truly is but even then justice wouldn't be done.

Never before has a TV show had the production values of a feature film in every episode, the talented ensemble cast that vaults the show from the sea of mediocrity known as network tv, and the sheer intrigue of this mysterious island to give the a show a depth that very few have ever had before. Because watching LOST truly transcends the screen; once you start to attach to the many excellent characters, watching their trials and tribulations on this, at times claustrophobic, at times vast and desolate but ALWAYS intriguing island becomes something of a religious experience.

The character development is relentless, each episode powerfully reveals the backstory and possible motives for each character's actions on the island, while the first real connection you're likely to draw is that almost everyone suffered in some way. This show has a way of humanizing even the most derelict or seemingly outcast characters, and just as Jack says in one of the early episodes "everyone deserves a fresh start here."

But all the best character development in the world could only take the show so far, fortunately this show goes FAR BEYOND "interesting people crash on an island, fight the impulses to devolve into primal anarchy, "live together, or die alone," and into this complicated web of mythology and paranormal phenomenon that constantly causes the viewer to go, "What!?" and then pulls you, faster and faster down the rabbit hole.

I could go on and on about just how great and what a tremendous impact this show will have on the viewer, for all the reasons above and many more, but my best advice is to watch this show for yourself and see first hand why this could be one of the greatest television shows of all time. Season 1 was arguably one of the best seasons and will grip you in ways you never thought possible for television. LOST is long off the air, but hardly forgotten.


The Last Starfighter (25th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray]
The Last Starfighter (25th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Lance Guest
Price: $8.99
56 used & new from $4.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A timeless classic, The Last Starfighter may be cheesy, but it's classic 80's cheese. In the best way possible., January 29, 2012
Seeing this movie again is like reliving my childhood. I grew up in the age of video games and modern space discoveries so watching this movie as a kid pretty much defined my childhood. I also believe Sci-Fi was in its prime in the 80's and 90's, because if you notice, most of the films from this era are highly rated and influential. The genre had just come into its own and was producing classic after classic, culminating with Terminator 2, which was probably one of the best Sci-Fi movies of all time. They just don't make them this way anymore; fun, full of life, as truly well-made movies and not solely made to be "blockbusters" or "cash cows." It's a totally different era nowadays.

It is truly a classic, because you watch it now and the fun, light hearted attitude remains enjoyable, despite the "old school" vibe of the film. It's also a classic due to its CGI being one of the first of its class, paving the way for future movies; a credit that is somewhat under-appreciated in my opinion, as if it were not for TLS and Tron, movies like Terminator 2 may not have had the groundwork to draw from.

The Last Starfighter is an underrated classic representation of the 80's era science fiction film.


Solaris
Solaris
DVD ~ George Clooney
Offered by UltimateDiscountsCANADA
Price: $13.44
139 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, emotional, artistic, somber, cerebral, challenging, Solaris., January 27, 2012
This review is from: Solaris (DVD)
This movie will not resonate with the average person. It's just too strange, too slowly paced, too "artsy." But for someone who cannot stand another sci-fi movie dependent upon explosions and war-mongering aliens, with a cheesy romance thrown in for good measure, Solaris is like 2001: A Space Oddyssey is to Independence Day.

I never got around to watching this film until recently. I've heard nothing but good things both about the book and the original film, and many mixed and polarizing opinions about this version. After viewing it, I think a lot of polarization comes from the fact that Solaris does not play to the typical American moviegoer. Without trying to be negative, the average American wants escapist filmmaking where explosions and mind-numbing plots provide emotional release from the high strung life typical in American society. Solaris is the antithesis to that in every way. Solaris requires effort from the viewer, it requires their undivided attention, and it requires them to piece the plot together, make sense of it, and draw conclusions about it. A lot of people would find this intimidating.

The right viewer will see Solaris for what it is; a daring artistic film about humanity, what that means, and the ironies of choice and love. Almost every review of this film will give you plot details so I'm trying instead to explain why this film is so good and why only certain people see that. So very few films evoke the kinds of raw emotion Solaris draws from the viewer, and while the film requires a good deal of imagination, the story has a haunting beauty to it that surpasses the majority of sci-fi flicks ever made.

In short, Solaris is the kind of "high art" that is missing from so many modern American films, and it's nice to see something so cerebrally challenging amongst a sea of brain dead films.


The Ides of March (+ UltraViolet Digital Copy) [Blu-ray]
The Ides of March (+ UltraViolet Digital Copy) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Ryan Gosling
Offered by drum_video_games
Price: $8.22
121 used & new from $1.55

5 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely stunned how overrated this movie was., January 18, 2012
Had the movie starred Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti as its two leads, I'd likely not be writing this. But alas, we have to watch Ryan Gosling (who is stiff as a board and quite honestly a terrible actor) and Evan Rachel Wood (admittedly a decent actress, but her chemistry with Mr. Gosling is cold as ice) spin a web of romantic melodrama essentially boiling down to "Oh no! The girl's going to ruin everything!"

The pacing of this movie is akin to a cheetah with three broken legs, and the entire plot hinges on Evan Rachel Woods. There's no political power plays, no real ideology opposing realism, no spark of an entertaining movie. It's just a movie about double and triple crossing, slander, and silly pseudo-romances that we all already know exists behind the scenes in real world politics. *snooze*. Ryan Gosling is supposed to be this talented wunderkind, yet I really have no idea why. All we see him do is brood, whine, and double cross his double crosser which was completely predictable to anyone following this plotless mess.

Oh yeah, and the ending is completely insulting. The third act finally begins to gain momentum, and then it fades into nothing just like the finale of the Sopranos, leaving you scratching your head and going, "Really!? That's IT?!?"

I'd avoid this one, while the acting from PSH and PG was, as always, brilliant, and George Clooney played a natural politician, the plot was a total bore and exudes the intellectual insight of a jelly donut. Once again, it degrades into a melodrama of forbidden romance, not politics.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 22, 2012 10:02 PM PST


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