Alan Lastufka and Tom Milsom are “Taking Leave”

August 6, 2009
DFTBA Records co-founder Alan Lastufka has a strong draw to music. Whether it be from his early work recorded on mini-cassettes, or his music video work with bands like imadethismistake and solo artists like Charlie McDonnell. So, it’s no surprise that his album “Taking Leave”, a collaboration with “internet sensation” and musician Tom Milsom (known as hexachordal on YouTube), is pure musical genius.

Beginning with “Just a Boy”, Alan and Tom create a unique sound and a song about the loss of innocence. Using what sounds like a child’s piano (the one that sounds a bit like a xylophone) with masterful electric piano (or synthesizer?) to back it up, this song brings us right into the world of a man who is lost in his life, possibly due to the influence of his father years earlier.

“The Wind” takes us into the mind of a girl in love. So in love, in fact, that she is almost weightless, pushed and pulled by the wind after seeing the object of her affection. This is a song of a love so strong that nothing else seems to matter. The music and lyrics are so marvelously interwoven and powerful, we almost want to fly with her.

Now, for the other side of this powerful love, we have “Can’t.” Seeing things from the guy’s perspective, how he feels controlled by her, but in a love to strong to give up. The electropop sound of this song creates a mechanical beat that matches the lyrics perfectly.

In “The Mirror Song”, featuring Kristina Horner along with Milsom, we hear both sides of the relationship as they look back on better times. A simple but beautiful piano accompaniment adds volumes to this song.

While the final song on the EP, “Forgiven” seems (to some) like a slight departure from the rest of the album, it is actually a natural progression in the “story” being told. Plus, it is bridged by a spoken-word track from author John Green called “The Sparks Fly Upward” (a passage from the Book of Job). Also, though “Forgiven” seems stylistically different from the beginning tracks, the progression is more of a build-up to the grandeur of the final piece. It sounds as if “Forgiven” includes music from every instrument featured in previous tracks, creating a musical epilogue that wraps up the story nicely; both instrumentally and lyrically.

“Taking Leave” is both extremely catchy and remarkably deep at the same time. It’s an album that I haven’t been able to stop listening to since it arrived, and I find more in it with each new listen.

If you’re a fan of thought-provoking, extremely well-done music; “Taking Leave” is a must!

Need a little taste? Check out the video for “Can’t

Click here to buy “Taking Leave” by Alan Lastufka and Tom Milsom for a mere $6!

I know what you’re thinking: “William, did you say that album is only six bucks? Impossible!”

But, I can assure you, dear reader, it’s absolutely true!!

 

William, the Movie Nerdfighter

who has taken a departure from his usual movie reviews to tell you about some amazing music.

The Movie Nerdfighter Needs To Revise

July 20, 2009

Well, let’s just say it’s been a while and move on.

I’ve fallen into a hard slump as far as my writing is concerned.  Don’t ask me why, it just happened.  However, with my birthday here and that thought of being 30 with no clear path ahead, it’s time to get off my ass.

The blog is going through a little revision process at the moment.  I’ve decided that there are hundreds of reviewers out there, and I don’t want to be just another face in the crowd.  From this point forward I’m going to be bringing you a completely open and (hopefully) unique perspective to my take on the movies.  I’m going to focus less on the actual review process and instead use the movie I want to talk about to springboard into other topics.

Here’s hoping it actually works.

Tonight (well, midnight, so technically it’s tomorrow) I pick up my copy of Watchmen at the local Movie Stop (I’m also filming the midnight release party).  Expect a review the next day that will probably focus on Alan Moore, the state of the comic book movie, and why Watchmen is so freaking amazing to me.

Until then, I remain

 

William, the Movie Nerdfighter

who hopes to redeem himself for this long absence by returning with a vengeance.

The Great Smokey Roadblock… is Great!

June 9, 2009

I picked this little gem up at Movie Stop for about $3 expecting it to be a mix of Cannonball Run and Smokey and the Bandit, perhaps with some added madcap comedy thrown in to sell it to the audience.  However, what I got was one of those great 70s movies that people seem to instantly dismiss because it suffers from the typical low-budget issues.

As I started writing this, I looked up the IMDB page for the movie (which apparently is also known as The Last of the Cowboys, a much better title) and one of the IMDB commenters talks about how lacking the film is.  I have to wonder if he was really paying attention.  Everything he states is not in the film or is neglected in the film is actually handled as it should be.  There’s a lot of story to tell, can’t fit in every little bit of a cross-country road trip.

The movie is about Elegant John (Henry Fonda), a truck driver who has fallen ill (cancer we would find out later) and had his truck repossessed.  He sneaks out of the hospital and steals his truck back, determined to make that one last, great run.  On the way, he picks up hitcher Beebo (an innocent yokel played by the one and only Freddy Krueger, Robert Englund) and the two, despite an early “misunderstanding” about money (John tries to trick Beebo into buying a full tank of gas for the rig), the two decide to help one another.

Right at the start, we meet one of John’s main “roadblocks” on his mission, a young buck who thinks he’s the greatest thing ever named Charlie (played by Gary Sandy, Andy Travis from WKRP in Cincinnati).  Charlie wants John’s rig, and when John refuses to sell, Charlie decides to help the police catch John.

On top of all this, John is having trouble actually getting a job hauling anything because he has stolen his truck.  The weakest point in the movie I saw was John’s reaction to a nasty little ass who calls him unnecessary names when he finds out the truck has been reported stolen.  Completely demoralized, all he does is take the abuse.  This is me throwing in my own personality, but I would have said something to this schmuck.

This is one of those 70s movies with a “damn the man” message that was so abundant at the time.  I really enjoy these movies.  Also, it’s one of those stories that handles sexuality in a very blunt manner, but not so much as some modern movies do.

Eileen Brennan (such a marvelous actress) plays Penelope, a madame who has just been told to leave town when a group of undercover cops bust her and her girls (interestingly, waiting until the “deed” was done before identifying themselves as police).  Now, they must find a way out.  Enter, John.  John and Penelope have a history and the two decide that running Penelope and the girls will be John’s last run.

Of course, this doesn’t help his situation, now the police are looking for John, Penelope, and the girls.

Amongst the girls is a still very fresh Susan Sarandon (she had done The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Front Page, a few others, and some television, but she was still kind of an unknown).  She and Beebo hit it off.

This movie is reminiscent of Vanishing Point; that ideology of deciding to do something regardless of the cost, being in such a state of affairs that you have nothing left to lose.

Looking at the cover art for the movie, it appears to be a complete comedy in line with the Burt Reynolds movies of the time and things like Animal House.  And with actors like Dub Taylor, it seems implied as well.  Instead, this is much more dramatic than you would expect.  Not to say that there isn’t any comedy, there is a great deal.  But, it is one of those movies that rides a fine line between the two.

In the end, I would not classify this movie as a comedy.  I recommend everyone try to find a copy of this rather obscure flick (it shouldn’t cost much).

 

William, the Movie Nerdfighter

who will always consider The Last of the Cowboys a better title for this movie.

Superman, and the Movie Nerdfighter Have Returned

March 22, 2009

Let’s get the personal stuff out of the way first.  I’ve been gone for quite a while.  Although I’d like to say I’ve been busy, I can’t.  My reason’s are varied and pointless when it comes to this blog.  If you are interested at all, please feel free to read more about my lackadaisical nature here.

Now, on to the review.

I do wish I could say it was planned, but completely by chance I have chosen to review “Superman Returns”.  It has taken me this long to finally watch the movie.  Sure, I’ve seen pieces of it here and there, but I’ve never actually taken the time to watch this reboot of the Superman movie franchise from start to end.  Now, I have and I think it holds up quite well.

First, we have Brandon Routh as the Man of Steel himself.  While he’s not a newcomer, he was a virtual unknown.  What he really had going for himself in the audition process was the fact that he has a remarkable resemblance to Christopher Reeve.  Oh, and the guy can act.  I’m sure that helped.

Brandon’s acting is stellar as Superman.  It’s the little things that make it.  My favorite thing was seeing all the little touches he added, that extreme quirky klutziness he gives Clark Kent; just like Reeve did so brilliantly in the 1978 version.  There’s that sly grin and the slightest eyebrow twitch when the bullet bounces off his eyeball and he and the thug with the gatling gun watch the bullet fall to the roof they are standing on.

Speaking of that bullet to the eye, I can’t get away without mentioning the special effects and visual style of this film.  It looks absolutely gorgeous.  The cinematography is beautiful (as well it should be with the Panavision Genesis doing the work).  But, for me that’s not what makes this a good movie.  It’s Superman, you’re going to have amazing visual effects (we’ll discount the supercomputer robot from “Superman III”).  Why let that take over a review?

When the press kicked in to full gear on this “reboot” (that still managed to be a sequel), and it was announced that Kate Bosworth was playing intrepid reporter Lois Lane, I didn’t see it.  But, now that I’ve seen the movie, I must say she did a great job (she’s a marvelous actress, of course, but I couldn’t make the connection to her as Lois until I saw it on screen).

Frank Langella.  What can I say about Frank Langella?  Probably not a lot that hasn’t been said before.  He has such a quiet grace about him.  And as Perry White he is almost the opposite of Spider-Man’s J. Jonah Jameson.  When Superman stops the falling Daily Planet globe, and Langella says the classic Perry White catchphrase, “Great Caesar’s Ghost”, he just knocks it home.

Also, I have to mention Kevin Spacey and Parker Posey.  Spacey plays a perfect Lex Luthor.  Especially one who’s turned so incredibly bitter after 5 years in prison.  His plan is slightly reminiscent of the 1978 plot, but this time he’s using Jor-El’s crystals with a dash of Kryptonite to create a new land-mass that he owns.  Parker, as Kitty, plays the quintessential Luthor-clinging femme-fatale.  And, like a good Luthor gal-Friday, she turns on him when she finds out Lex’s plan is going to kill people.

With all the trials and tribulations this production has gone through since it was decided to do another Superman movie, Bryan Singer really pulled things together to make a great movie.  Let’s hope we have not seen the last of Superman on the big screen and that he doesn’t get the Joel Schumacher treatment EVER!

And ending with the signature Christopher Reeve fly-out?  YES!

Oh, one more thing before I sign off, I know DC wants to follow the Marvel plan of creating a Justice League picture after introducing all the characters solo.  I would like to send a plea to DC Comics and whoever is in charge of their feature film division:

      Before you take all the time and energy to work on a Justice League movie, plan it right.  Don’t make it before all the solo stories are done, and consider making a World’s Finest movie before that.  You have Superman, you have Batman, make it happen.

 

William, the Movie Nerdfighter

who still kind of wishes the Kevin Smith script was produced, but thinks this was a good way to “reboot” the franchise.

I Say It’s the Best Punisher Yet!

December 20, 2008

Finally went to see Punisher: War Zone a few nights ago, and honestly, the comparisons to Uwe Boll are entirely unfair.

This is what fans wanted in the last two Punisher movies.  The Dolph Lundgren version was just a Rambo wannabe, while Thomas Jane was a little too emo (although I like that Punisher for other reasons).

Firstly, it’s rated R!  Egads, a Punisher movie that’s rated R?  How did that happen?  Oh yeah, someone finally realized that the Punisher is just a cold-blooded killer of “evil” men.

Of course, they did give Frank a little pathos by having him accidentally kill an undercover FBI agent and follow him through the breakdown that follows. Ray Stevenson did a great job as Frank Castle.  They got the character right, both in looks and characterization.

Also, finally Microchip makes an appearance!  Wayne Knight is great as Micro.  Anyone else would have probably made him too “sidekicky”, but Wayne played him just right.

It was also nice seeing Soap in a Punisher movie since he was introduced with the rest of the characters from the Thomas Jane film.  He was suspiciously missing from that one.  Dash Mihok was PERFECT.

Oh, and Jigsaw and his brother… absolute brilliant insanity.  Dominic West was great (and I didn’t think his accent was that over the top like other critics have), and Doug Hutchison is sheer genius as Loony Bin Jim (his accent was stretching it a little, but it was fine).

The makeup on Jigsaw was better than I thought it would be from the trailer as well.

One thing I really enjoyed in this was how the cops handled the Punisher.  Of course he’s a vigilante and what he does is technically illegal, so there is a task force set up to catch him (run by Soap, of course), but the police also just let him do his thing, knowing full well that he can accomplish what they can’t.

The movie is extremely violent, gory, and bloody.  WHICH IS WHAT A PUNISHER MOVIE IS SUPPOSED TO BE!!

The critics who complain about this need to do their research.  The Punisher kills people.  What the hell do you expect him to do?  Talk them to death?

Now, I’ll admit there are a few wrong steps in this picture.  The accents are a little much at times, but not as bad as some I’ve seen.  The cinematography is a little jarring at points, but I’ve seen (and done) much worse.

The main problem I had was the overuse of neon.  Forgive me if I’m wrong, but this movie does still take place in New York, right?  They didn’t move the Punisher to Vegas and not tell anyone did they?  There was even a neon cross in the church.  I see what they were going for, and it does fit with the colors of a comic book, but they took it a bit too far.

Overall, though, I’d most definitely have to say that they’ve finally figured out how to make the Punisher work on screen.

A reviewer on IMDB said that this film was for the fans, not the critics; and he’s absolutely right.

If you’re a Punisher fan, definitely check out this movie.

 

William, the Movie Nerdfighter

who almost agrees totally with his friend Jonathan when he said after the movie finished: “that was AWESOME!”

To Boldly Go… To the Great Beyond

December 18, 2008

Sometimes, I hate it when I’m right.

The Trifecta strikes once again.  First it was the Ackermonster, then Bettie Page, and now Majel Barrett-Roddenberry has passed.

The widow of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry was there from the beginning.  Starting with the original series as Number One in the pilot and Nurse Chapel for the rest, Majel was the Star Trek mainstay.  As the voice of the computers she appeared in every incarnation of the Trek world.

You will be missed.

 

William, the Movie Nerdfighter

who is glad Majel had a chance to once again voice the Enterprise computers for the new Star Trek movie before she passed.

Goodnight Ms. Page

December 12, 2008

It’s unfortunate that I am writing two of these in a row, but I had a feeling it was going to happen after I heard Bettie Page was admitted to the hospital the same day Uncle Forry passed on.

Now, she too has passed.  She was 85.

She was a cult sensation, and shall remain so.  She will forever be an embodiment of beauty.

 

Goodnight Ms. Page.  May you rest in peace.

 

 

William, the Movie Nerdfighter

who is now waiting for the other shoe to drop because sadly, these things always happen in threes.

R.I.P. Uncle Forry

December 5, 2008

I never got a chance to meet him, but he was one of those men who I always looked up to.

He’s essentially the godfather of sci-fi geekdom.  Without Forrest J Ackerman, sci-fi and fantasy might still be kitschy little bits of pop culture, lost drive-in films that only the people who originally watched would ever remember.  Forry was one of the legends that put sci-fi, horror, and fantasy into the mainstream.

He helped make it cool to be a geek, and for that he has my thanks.

Uncle Forry, you will be missed.

 

William, the Movie Nerdfighter

who hopes that they will at least keep the Ackermansion open.  He would have wanted it that way.

Sarah Marshall is Hard to Forget

December 2, 2008

Kristen Bell and Mila Kunis in love with the same guy?  A geeky guy at that (he wants to write a Dracula musical with puppets)?  Egads, it’s like a fantasy.

 

Seriously though, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” is absolutely hilarious.  Bell and Kunis, as well as being beautiful, are both extremely capable actresses who create very real characters.  Jason Segel is great as Peter, who is taking the break-up with Sarah Marshall (Bell) very hard.  There’s a lot of crying and self-loathing going on, and Segel does it brilliantly.

Also, I’ve now seen much more of Jason Segel than I EVER wanted to.  He’s very comfortable “in the raw” as it were.

Bill Hader plays Peter’s step-brother Brian, and the two actors (as well as Segel’s writing) play it like they actually are related.

Oh, and I can’t forget to mention Russell Brand.  God, he plays the stereotypical rock star to a tee, but what’s really brilliant is that he’s not really a conceited guy.  The whole time he just wants to be Peter’s friend.  Aldous (his character) is a real “bygones” kind of guy.

 

One thing that really struck me with this movie was that I know someone going through the exact same situation right now (minus the Hawaiian vacation), so it really showed that Segel wrote and performed it just like someone going through this would (especially seeing a picture or a piece that was special between the couple).  Also, the reaction of seeing that person with someone new is just dead-on.

Anyway, it’s worth checking out if you haven’t seen it yet (but based on how behind I am on my movies, I’m probably the last one).

 

William, the Movie Nerdfighter

who would have a hard time deciding between Kristen Bell and Mila Kunis (and knows it’s extremely unlikely that the choice would ever present itself).

It’s Twilight Time

December 1, 2008

Figured I’d go ahead and get this one out of the way now that I’m back to writing reviews.

Oh, and this review will contain spoilers, as most of mine do.  If you want to be surprised, stop reading and come back after you’ve seen it.

 

So, the build-up for this movie was just insane for anyone involved in the online subculture.  Especially if you spend any time on YouTube talking to young girls who loved Harry Potter.  You see, the Twilight books by Stephenie Meyer were the next step for Potter fans, so the movie has been much anticipated since it was announced.

 

Now, I have to say that I’m a huge fan of the vampire story.  I remember watching “Dracula” as a kid (and “Monster Squad” of course), then reading Bram Stoker’s novel, then seeing Francis Ford Coppola’s version (I like it actually), and of course there was Buffy and Angel.  There’s a long standing history with vampires and the “rules” regarding them.  The rules in Twilight are a little different than I was expecting.

I remember thinking at first how it was weird that vampires went to school during normal hours.  “What about sunlight,” I thought.  Well, Meyers found a clever way to get around that by setting the story in the town of Forks, Washington, where it stays overcast about 80 percent of the time.  Since indirect sunlight is just a minor annoyance for most vampires, that didn’t bother me.  Then, something weird happened when they explained what happens to vampires in direct sunlight.

Edward speeds up a mountain to get above the cloud line with Bella on his back, they find a patch of direct sunlight and Edward walks right into it saying, “this is why we can’t show ourselves in sunlight” (or something like that).  At first, I thought, “OK, so he’s gonna be all ghoulish and nasty in direct light.”  Nope, he just shimmered like his skin was made of diamonds, and even that took a moment to register.  When he first stepped into the light I remember thinking, “um… nothing?”

There were some things I did like about this version of vampires.  I thought the baseball game was a great scene.  The fact that these vampires only fed on animals, but constantly fought the craving was a nice touch.  The idea of Carlisle Cullen building a family out of his clan was interesting as well.

Something still bothers me about Robert Pattinson’s acting as Edward.  I don’t know what it is.  I hope the director told him to play it that way, but it seemed a little heavy-handed at points.  Plus, he had a tendency to look much creepier than the “mysterious boy that peaks the girl’s interest” is supposed to.  I mean, he just looked psychotic a few times.

I like Kristen Stewart as Bella.  She just seems to fit it perfectly from what I’ve heard of the character in the books.  Also, Peter Facinelli is great as Dr. Cullen.  But, I’ve been a fan of his since “Can’t Hardly Wait”, so it was just nice to see him.  I feel he’s a slightly under-appreciated actor.  Took a minute to register who it was with that blond hair he was sporting though.

 

Over all, I’d have to say that this was a good movie.  Actually, the more I think about it, the more I like it.  There are some kind of cheesy effects used, only a few work.  The first killing of the other vampire clan where you see the vampire in the shadows chasing down his prey was a nice shot.

I haven’t read any of the books, and probably will eventually, but they aren’t a priority on my reading list at the moment.  I know most of the plot of the books from discussions with fans, but I wonder if Jacob was a larger part of the book than he was the movie.  For someone who, as I understand it, becomes quite important in the series, he didn’t have much screen time.

Again, aside from a few issues with special effects (which I always seem to have with certain digital effects anyway), this was a good movie.  Definitely designed right for tween girls, but still entertaining.

 

So, go forth and see the oddest (this coming from a guy who’s seen the hopping vampires from Chinese legend) and most interesting take on the vampire mythos I’ve ever seen…

 

… my little spider-monkeys…

 

 

William, the Movie Nerdfighter

who feels bad for Jacob because he’s always in the same boat.