(Re)Bleed American

Similar to our re-recording of The Black Parade (as seen here and here) which, considering MCR are now planning something for the anniversary of it probably could have been better timed. For those of who didn’t read those this is simple: I pick an album and then pick the bands I’d like to cover each song. For this week I picked Bleed American (re-titled Jimmy Eat World after 9/11), which celebrated it’s fifteen year anniversary this week. So, here goes.

Bleed American – Fall Out Boy

Fast, raucous and the sound of a drunken house party. This song mainly needed to have the guitar strong at the front, and a strong enough vocal performance to carry this off. So I found FOB to be the perfect choice. On the downside I was going to pick Patrick Stump to do one of the later songs, had to go against that for this, and can’t have two Stumps, that way madness lies.

A Praise Chorus – Less Than Jake

One of the only songs I owned before I had the album (live version on a compilation) so will always have a special place in my heart. I was going to pick an acoustic band to cover this song as I feel that would make a good version and turn it into a kind of sweet piece of music, would add an extra level of emotion to it. Then I listened to it again and pictured someone singing it and doing that weird “jumping with your shoulders” thing at certain points of the song, then realised the jumpy dancy nature of it. As such I thought I should play up that aspect of it, and there’s only one way to do that: MORE HORNS!!! Then LTJ voices were in my head and it just meshed perfectly.

The Middle – Regina Spektor

Weird choice I know. This song is ridiculously peppy and brilliant, so you’d expect me to pick another pop-punk band for this, maybe Green Day, maybe Sum 41, maybe even go slightly ska and go with Reel Big Fish. But I feel that musically they would all sound too similar and would just be “lead vocalist” karaoke. This song is in my top 100 of all time, so if I hear it covered I want to hear something new done with it, I want to hear a completely different version. Maybe a female vocal version? Maybe a female vocal version done on a piano? Maybe Regina Spektor? Yeah, Regina Spektor. Her voice is haunting and beautiful, and to hear her sing this would add an entirely different layer to it and could end up being quite emotional.

Your House – Say Anything

Again, to add emotion. But not a “weepy weepy cry cry” emotion, Max Bemis voice is perfect for that bitter angry sarcastic misanthropic tone. So if anything this will do the opposite of what my previous choices have done, instead of adding emotion, this will change it, it will make the entire song seem angry instead of sweet, but also like he’s broken by the entire experience. Was also considering Saves The Day for this, as his voice would also be perfect for a Jimmy Eat World song.

Sweetness – Tegan And Sara

Mainly because this version would be danceable as hell. It would seem slightly less angry but it would be the perfect song to put a smile on your face and an extra skip in your step as go through your daily routine waiting for death.

Hear You Me – Amanda Palmer

Because I’m not letting you get through this album without crying your eyes out, and what better choice than this song? And what better way to do it than an empty voice at a piano just completely draining you of everything until you’re an empty husk of who you used to be.

If You Don’t Don’t – Desaparecidos

Hot damn I love Conor Oberst, his voice has a kind of shakey uneasy vibe to it, like he’s about one incident away from completely breaking down or going insane, you can’t tell which as it sounds like both at once. As such it would be perfect for this song, but I couldn’t go with Bright Eyes as musically that would be a terrible mix, so I went with his other band, Desaperecidos. Musically very different from Bright Eyes but equally amazing in parts, them covering this song would be the soundtrack to a thousand stroppy teenagers.

Get It Faster – Bright Eyes

I know, more Conor Oberst, I’ll go sit in the corner and think about what I’ve done. And now I’m back and here to tell you why you’re wrong to judge me. Because this would be amazing! Now for this I’m thinking of specific type of Bright Eyes, the kind of weird death-disco/digital-folk from Digital Ash In A Digital Urn. This song revolves around the slow build up and then the vocal release, and few people accomplished this as well as Oberst did on that album.

Cautioners – Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly

Because it’s practically a Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly song already, just written and performed entirely by someone else.

The Authority Song – Marina And The Diamonds

This is purely because I’m curious as to what it would sound like. It could be a complete disaster, it could be the best thing since sliced bread warmed up with cheese and Worcestershire sauce.

My Sundown – My Chemical Romance (With Full Orchestral Backing)

Now when I say My Chemical Romance I mean full-on Black Parade My Chem. When they were at there most bombastic, their most theatrical, and (some would argue) their best. Them doing this would be the perfect closing to this project, it would be big enough so that the compilation felt like it had a closer, a grand finale to the audio trip through the album. The orchestra? Well that will just make it better, will make it seem bigger, will make it seem more draining, you will listen to this and feel exhausted by the end of it, which this album needs, as the original is (dare say it) kind of a bland way to close it.

So that’s this over, what do you think ? Where did we go wrong? Where did we  go right? What would have been better?

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Why We Love….Bojack Horseman

1. It’s Fresh

It’s an animated series about anthropomorphised animals, it’s easy to say that there’s not many other shows which are like this. You can never describe it as cliche and obvious. It was kind of a risky move for netflix to do this, but luckily they pulled it off. It was Aaron Paul’s first major release after Breaking Bad so a lot of people were watching for that reason, and it was up to the show to make sure it’s not remembered as “an Aaron Paul show”, and it manages to avoid that.

2. It’s Funny

Considering it stars Will Arnett from Arrested Development, Alison Brie from Community, alongside Kristen Schaal, Stanley Tucci, Olivia Wilde, and (briefly), Rachael Bloom, it’s no surprise that this is very very funny. The concept itself kind of lends itself very easily to comedy; a washed up star from an 90’s sitcom is now a drug-fuelled mess who lives with a freeloading room-mate. Using this as a springboard to satirise celebrity culture and the entire hollywood industry.

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3. It’s (Genuinely) Heartwarming

Oh my god the feels! Maybe it’s just me but the difference between good sitcoms, and amazing sitcoms is the amount of depth they have. It’s why I prefer American Dad to Family Guy, I feel it has more heart so it holds up better to repeat viewings. Eventually jokes stop becoming funny once you’ve seen them so many times, but emotional moments always hold up for a longer period. And believe me this show almost drowns you in emotion. Whether it’s subtly referencing with the Bill Cosby allegations with:

“when we know what we know about a monster like that and we still put him on tv every week we’re teaching a generation of young boys and girls that a man’s reputation is more important than the lives of the women he’s ruined”

Or Bojack dealing with problems in a somewhat unique way:

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A really depressing quote which will probably me the most insightful thing you’ll ever ee an owl say:

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This show also ended it’s second season with one of my favourite quotes from anything:

“Every day it gets a little easier. But you gotta do it every day. That’s the hard part. But it does get easier”

If that quote doesn’t seem like the kind of quote you want to put on your wall then either your life is perfect, you’re delusional and think your life is perfect, or you’re homeless and don’t have walls.

4. It’s Bingeworthy

Netflix is the only way to watch this show, and it’s the best way it can possibly be done. This is one of those shows where you don’t really watch an episode every so often, occasionally dipping back into it. Or even once a week like a standard sitcom. This is a binge-worthy show. This is a show you need to watch in one long block of viewing, you don’t watch this show, you consume it, and that’s rare for a sitcom. Usually shows like that are serious dramas: Breaking Bad, House Of Cards, Orange Is The New Black etc. Somehow this show stands among them, and deserves it’s place alongside them.

5. It’s Out Today

I was going to do a blog about Crazy Ex Girlfriend to celebrate it’s award nominations, will probably do that next week now (although that’s on netflix now so you should all watch it, it’s hilarious). But then I saw this a third series of Bojack was added today, so now it’s all about that Bojack, that will pretty much take up my weekend, and I’m perfectly okay with that.

Watch If You Like/Also Check Out

  • Archer. For some reason I’ve always associated the two, probably because of the fact they’re both adult orientated animated sitcoms starring Arrested Development alumni.

Why I’m Not A Massive Fan Of Downloading Media

1. Lack Of Special Features

I may be in a niche audience here but I like the little things that are added to films for DVD and blu-ray releases. For example, whilst I’m not a fan of the Thor film, the commentary by Kenneth Branagh is superb, insightful and full of interesting details which help you enjoy the film, and when the credits are going on he makes sure to point out how important different members of the crew are even though they’re not talked about that much. David Fincher too has delivered some absolutely stunning commentaries on his films, particularly on the platinum release of Seven which had so many commentaries that you almost feel that you know absolutely everything about that film.

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But with downloads you don’t get that as often, you get them sometimes but not as prevalent as they are with physical releases, and that disappoints me. I like the weird stuff, it shows passion that the film-makers have towards what they’ve done.

2. No Ownership

Random fact, if you download something, be it a game or an album or a film, you don’t own it. You’re just leasing the content. As such it’s not really yours to do anything with. If you want to leave your downloads to someone when you die, you can’t do that (well, unless you give them the password beforehand) as it’s not yours to give away. That’s if it lasts that long of course, after Disney’s licensing deal with Amazon ran out in 2013 people found they couldn’t stream or redownload Disney soundtracks or movies that they had already brought. They had been essentially locked out of content that they paid for. You may think “yeah, but if I’ve already downloaded it, what’s the problem?”. Oh you poor naive fool, then it gets deleted off any device you’ve downloaded it onto. In 2009 some users of Kindles found their digital book collection lighter. It turned out the company who supplied the digital books to Amazon wasn’t 100% legit and didn’t own the rights in the first place. So Amazon took the books down from their online store, and then DELETED IT OFF PEOPLES KINDLES! That’s right, even if you pay for, and download something, you still might not be able to access it. Interesting fact; one of the books effected by this: 1984 by George Orwell.

3. The Thrill Of The Chase

The beautiful thing about downloading content is the wide variety it gives you access to. Think back to the 90’s, or even the early 2000’s. You hear about a film that could be good so you scour the local shops to find it, and if they didn’t have it they had to order it in, and who knows how long that will take, especially if it’s an import? Now? Just click on a button and it’s there. There can be a film made on a budget of £1,000 in Brazil (only, you know, in Brazilian Real, not Pounds Sterling) and if the makers decide to upload it onto their website, you can have it. I don’t think people truly realise how great that is, almost every film in history is at your fingertips, accessible in seconds, it’s amazing. But part of me likes buying in a shop. It’s not just having a hard copy of what you’ve brought (although that is quite important, it’s nice to have something you can physically hold), it’s being disappointed that you can’t find a film, being in a dingy charity shop in a random town, and seeing it there. That thrill when you FINALLY find it, after months of searching to no avail and suddenly you have it right there in your hands, the waiting is over. Nothing can touch that moment. There’s no streaming equivalent, it’s far far too easy and convenient. I kind of touched upon it earlier, but there is also something special about actually owning a DVD. You organise them in a way that means something to you, in a unique way that confuses everybody else yet makes complete sense to you (if you ever meet someone who orders their DVD’s autobiographically, give them a hug, they probably need it). You FEEL like you own it, you look at it like a king surveying his kingdom, basking in the greatness of your purchases.

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Henry VIII owned all seven Police Academy films on Blu Ray yet still no had son.

4. Rebuying.

This one, admittedly only applies to kindles. People love them, they constantly talk about how convenient they are, and they are, I won’t deny that. But I will never buy one for one simple reason; I can’t transfer my books onto it. You can transfer your CD’s onto your iPod or MP3 player but books you can’t for obvious reasons, and that annoys me. I’ve already paid for these books, I don’t want to buy them again just for convenience. But maybe that’s just me.

5. I’m Old And I Don’t Like Change.

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Actual picture of me

Here’s the most important reason, the one that I feel overshadows and is the cause of all the others. I remember when MP3 players came out and I stuck with my portable CD player, which required you to change the batteries every 90 minutes and would skip if you didn’t hold it in just the right way. But I still kept on, even when I had to replace it on an almost yearly basis I still maintained “no, I like cd players better, mp3 players lack that special something”. I now have an iPod and I was wrong, very very wrong. Right now, because of my iPod, I carry around 1,912 albums, 23,717 songs in total, all in my pocket. If you had come up to 10 year old me and said that in the future that would be possible I wouldn’t have believed you (mainly because you’d be an adult talking to a 10 year old child, you creep), and if you told me I’d reject that out of some ridiculous notion of authenticity I’d have slapped you in disbelief, and then slapped myself for being such an idiot. So when you see me in a few years time, reading my kindle and then watching a film on my tablet on the train (with headphones in, I’m not a dick), remind me of how stupid I used to be, I deserve it.

The Conjuring 2

First off, yes, it is better than Annabelle, although for it to be worse than Annabelle it would have to be basically a group of people shining torches and going “woo” in the dark (and Most Haunted have already got that covered). It contains some good scares, it’s beautifully directed and it has child actors who are actually good.

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More of which later

I preferred this to the first one too, which was one of the most highly regarded horror films of the last few years. Does this mean it’s better? I have no idea, I’m aware of how strong personal bias can be, and I saw the first one in a house, whereas this one I saw in cinema, and horror is a genre made for cinema. Not just for the darkness and the volume, but also because of instant audience feedback, much like laughing, when you hear other people be scared it sets the tone and makes you more scared. And of course you’re forced to pay attention to it, you can’t sit there checking your phone (well, you can, but if you do, you’re a c*nt).

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I also worry part of me preferring this is because it’s set in England, and as such it’s nice to see all the little nods and references. Sadly this usually means there’s one other risk; Americans attempting English accents. Luckily they cast an actual English actress as the mother, oddly enough though some of the kids aren’t English, one’s American and one’s Australian. But aside from a few minor vocal discrepancies, it’s very hard to notice and you could easily believe they’re English. Whilst we’re on the subject; when did actress’s in horror films get so good? It’s supposed to be a cliche that if you’re on a film set surrounded by people who can’t act you’re either on a porn or a horror. Yet with Maika Monroe in It Follows, and now Madison Wolfe in this, studios will no longer be able to get away with dud casting. I cannot overestimate how strong Madison Wolfe’s performance is in this, giving a performance well beyond her 13 years, bringing to mind Linda Blair in The Exorcist. She’s been in other films before but usually as a “main character when she was younger”, but on this the entire film is dependent on her. If you don’t buy her character and her fear, then the film is dead quicker than one of Henry VIII’s wives.

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The other performances? Well they’re okay, Vera Farmiga seems to be slightly phoning it in as Lorraine Warren this time, Patrick Wilson doesn’t have much to do but furrow his brow, Lauren Esposito does well with what she’s given but reminds me too much of someone I know for that not to be a distraction. Make no mistake though, this is definitely Wolfe’s film and I’m looking forward to see where her career goes from here, she’s definitely got potential. Special mention must also go to the make-up team, who do a fantastic job on the characters, making you question whether they’re possessed or just really exhausted, the pale faces the red eyes really help sell the fear contained within the film. Praise must also go to James Wan, who’s directorial style makes me really excited about Aquaman (which is something I never thought I’d say). There’s a fantastic shot near the end of one of the children standing near an open window in the rain and it just looks perfect, it’s like a poster shot it’s so sublime.

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Very similar to this, but better

Now, onto the bad, again, the story is a little weak. It repeats the same story beats as a lot of horror films as such you’re never really invested in it and you don’t lose yourself in the moment, and it all got a bit silly towards the end. There’s a reveal at the end (which I won’t spoil for you) which they seem to use as an excuse to throw in different “scary” images and characters, but not really that effectively, it’s too short to stick with you, but so long that you get bored with it, almost like they were trying to get as many iconic characters invented for potential spin offs as they could. Secondly, the scares. Now, this film does have some great scares, but they won’t stick with you, some of them are almost literally a guy sneaking up behind you and saying “boo”, they’re instant scares. They make you jump and provide good reaction shots for people to use in publicity, but once you leave the cinema all fear is over. You don’t see the world differently like you did after It Follows, you’re not left changed by the experience, every scare takes place in the moment. As such it’s destined to be one of those films teenagers watch in groups and sit in the dark (a genre I shall now deem; “frat house horror” as that seems to be the most popular place to watch horror movies according to American TV and films). Basically, it’s the feature length equivalent of one of those jump scare videos your asshole friend sends you, only over two hours long. Oh, that’s another point, this film’s over two hours long (two and a half if include trailers). That’s way, way WAY too long for it to keep momentum. The longer a film, the more chance someone will have to leave to go piss, which in a cinema completely breaks all immersion.

So to sum up;

If you like horror (or are interested in film-making) then see this film, but it won’t change your mind if you don’t like the genre.

If You Liked This:

Watch: The Conjuring, obvious really. Now you don’t need to have seen that film to understand the sequel as it does a pretty good job of telling you about the characters without it seeming like it’s repeating itself.

Read: About the Enfield Poltergeist, the situation which this film is based on.

Secret Life Of Pets/The Boss

Two very different films, but both suffer from from the same flaw: the background characters are the best ones in the entire film. Not the only problems however.

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I have two problems with this film:

  1. As I alluded to earlier; the main characters are the least interesting ones, which, considering one of them is played by Louis CK is kind of unexpected. It’s not just the characters, the main plot is not that interesting either. The entire main plot is shown in the trailer, nothing new or exciting. There is, however, a fantastic B-story that shows up; the idea that animals that were once pets were thrown away and are now bitter and angry and ready to get their revenge. THAT’S a film, that’s the kind of thing that Pixar or Disney would do. On the subject of Disney there’s already been a lot of controversy about Finding Dory. People are saying that it could lead to an increase of people having exotic fish as pets and then discarding them when they get bored (like they did with owls after Harry Potter And The Quantum Of Solace or whatever it was called). The idea of an animal-led film that has discourages people from getting pets just because they saw them in films? Not only would that be good but it would also be a subtle attack to Disney and Pixar, a “This is why we have a problem with you, you’re irresponsible, not like us, we’re truly wholesome and safe for children to watch with their families”.
  2. The realism. I know, it’s an animated film aimed at kids so I shouldn’t expect 100% realism. But at the very least I should expect it to stay consistent within the world it’s created. The world within the film is supposed to be our world. This is decided very early on when a human character hear’s one of the main characters “talking” and it’s just barking. Yet there’s lots of moments in here which break that realism, moments such as a rabbit and a dog driving a bus off a bridge. Pixar usually does this kind of thing very well. Look at Finding Nemo etc, it takes place in our world, and we do see humans, but the interactions between the humans and the main characters is minimal, and the main characters, although living in a human world, don’t effect that world that much. This film has way too many instances where the animals have a major influence on the human world, there’s the aforementioned bus crash, there’s a break in at a sausage factory, a rabbit beating up a dog catcher etc.

But other than those two problems how was it? It was thoroughly ok. The closing shot was beautiful. It’s one of the great things about animation is that you can occasionally get absolutely gorgeous visuals, but apart from the closing shot it never really does that. In fact it doesn’t look great throughout, the animals just look ok, and the humans in it look like they’re made of twigs. The story is serviceable and does what it needs to, but I don’t feel I need to see it again. It’s biggest flaw isn’t the fault of the film, it’s just circumstance. A lot of times studios release films which (judging by poster alone) look very similar. Has happened a lot before: Antz/A Bugs Life, Finding Nemo/Sharks Tale etc. This films competitor? Zootopia. For this film to come anywhere close to that would be difficult. Zootopia (so far) is probably in my top five films of the year. This? Well be at the bottom of the top half so far. But considering Kubo isn’t out yet, this can easily be pushed down. Although this film did have a subtle Mario green shell reference, which is kind of cool.

The Boss

Nope. Just no. Here’s my massive problem with this film: you have a character get arrested, then when they’re released they go to a Girl Scouts meeting and decides to set up a new business luring Girl Scouts from their group into a new group helping her in a business with communist workers overtones (their logo is a red badge with a picture of a girl raising her fist in the air and wearing a hat). When one of the mothers at the group objects to this, she calls her a cunt, then insults her daughter, whom she later knocks out. The daughter’s age? Between 11-15. So, the “hero” of this story bullies and beats up a school girl just because she doesn’t like her mum. Comedy!

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Actually this film, tonally is kind of weird and all over the place. It attempts to get cheap laughs and sacrifices story to do that, destroying all story momentum for the sake of a joke. For example: there’s a scene where she goes to her old business associates, and they all tell her they hate her and want nothing to do with her. It’s the kind of scene that’s like a large roast dinner, it’s a lot to take in and you need to give it time to settle. Instead, just after the scene takes place the film makes her fall down a flight of stairs, thereby pouring custard on the emotional roast dinner of the previous scene. It’s like the film was written by different writers who never contacted each other to check if their bits lined up. You have important characters turn up for one or two scenes and then are never mentioned again.

It’s a shame as I really want to like Melissa McCarthy; she was great in Bridesmaids, and Spy was excellent. I just feel she has a habit of picking bad films, films where she is only asked to do her usual shtick and doesn’t allow her to stretch herself (otherwise known as Jim Carey syndrome). Which is a shame as when she’s good she’s amazing, check out the aforementioned Spy for evidence of that, and St. Vincent, where she manages to be one of the best characters in a film which contains Chris O’Dowd and Bill Murray (or to give him his full title: Bill Fucking Murray). She can do better than this, and her continual choosing of below-par films just provides ammunition to her increasing number of detractors. Luckily the next film she has lined up is Ghostbusters, I’m sure that is under no pressure.

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I also saw Independence Day; a film which (ironically) seemed like it was written by aliens, completely devoid of human emotion and everything seemed slightly fake and contrived.