Pop Culture Utopia

Movie: How I Ended The Summer

Director: Alexei Popogrebsky

Cast: Grigoriy Dobrygin, Sergey Puskepalis, & Igor Chernevich

What’s This Shit About? A polar station on a desolate island in the Arctic Ocean. Sergey (Puskepalis), a seasoned meteorologist, and Pavel (Dobrygin), a recent college graduate, are spending months in complete isolation on the once strategic research base. Pavel receives an important radio message and is still trying to find the right moment to tell Sergei, when fear, lies and suspicions start poisoning the atmosphere.

That plot description is obviously straight off of IMDB, my most frequented website that isn’t EPSN related.  I tried to think of a way to shorten it down to something that was a quick sentence but it was pretty much impossible.  You have to be patient with this movie as it takes a long time to get going.  I ended up being disappointed with it as I didn’t really understand Sergey’s reaction to Pavel’s decision not to tell him about his family’s misfortune that he was relayed over the airwaves.  I was expecting a lot more of a story or if not that, more a sense of isolation with them being stranded at their polar station in the Arctic Ocean.  The plot developments seemed to be far fetched and unrealistic as to how I think actual human beings would react to the situations that arose.  By the time the characters actually start doing anything, I didn’t really care any more.  The first 35 minutes or so with them going through their daily routines was more interesting to me then when the action parts of the movie came into play.  Just not what I expected out of the movie at all…it’s really too bad.

Rating: 4/10

Side Notes:  

  • Honestly, I watched it so long ago that I forgot of anything relevant.
  • Oh, watch out for some male nudity.  It might sneak up on you here.

Blue Scholars - "Tommy Chong"

I actually have this whole Cinemetropolis album on my iTunes but haven’t had the time to give it a real listen.  I came across this song and if I’ve ever heard a song that stoners should hang around and chill to, this is it.  Just the perfect relaxing beat to veg out to on the weekend.

Ed Sheeran - "A-Team"

I’ve been trying to listen to as much Ed Sheeran as possible after seeing him preform live on Jimmy Fallon last week and the fact that he is opening for Snow Patrol when I go see them at Terminal 5 in NYC on Saturday April 4th.  It looks like I’m actually going to make it into a concert to see the opening band for the first time since I don’t know when.  His voice has a really great tone to it that reminds me of Damian Rice on this track.  His other stuff includes some beat boxing and he’s one of those one-man shows that can loop different beats and sounds to play alongside his guitar which I find incredibly cool and respect a ton.  Anyway, I’m looking forward to checking this dude out live as he sounds almost exactly the same live as recorded…which might be my favorite thing about any musician.

Check out "Wayfaring Stranger" if you want to see what he can do with some looping/beat-boxing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buAzVkcH4YI

The Civil Wars - "Poison & Wine"

It’s kind of crazy sometimes the way two voices can blend so well together.  I actually like their entire Barton Hollow debut album but this is the song that keeps me coming back for repeat listens.  It doesn’t hurt that they were featured along with Taylor Swift on The Hunger Games Soundtrack with the song "Safe & Sound."

Yup, that about sums it up.

Yup, that about sums it up.

Celtic/Heat Game. Eff LeBron.  (Taken with instagram)

Celtic/Heat Game. Eff LeBron. (Taken with instagram)

One. (Taken with instagram)

One. (Taken with instagram)

Movie: The Help

Director: Tate Taylor

Cast: Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, & Jessica Chastain

What’s This Shit About? An young aspiring author (Stone) during the civil rights movement in Jackson, Mississippi, decides to write a book from the point of view of the help, detailing their experiences working with white families.

I really wanted to read the book before I got a chance to see the movie but that didn’t end up happening.  I was told that this was this year’s The Blind Side.  A movie that girls love and Hollywood overrates because it makes a ton of money and has a sentimental side that resonates with the female movie-goer (who usually ends up seeing it multiple times).  I can say without a doubt, that this is definitely better than The Blind Side.  First of all, I actually believe the accents in The Help and that these people could be from the South.  I thought Sandra Bullock’s performance was ridiculous and that her accent was atrocious and hokey in The Blind Side.  They also made Michael Oher out to be close to retarded, which I thought was completely unfair to the actual guy.  The Help on the other hand, plays the story straight.  There are a couple of stand out performances that jump out at you in a movie which has a lot to offer actresses in terms of material and depth of character.

The Help had three of its actresses nominated for Academy Awards this year, with Octavia Spencer winning for Best Performances by an Actress in a Supporting Role.  I personally like Viola Davis much more in the movie than I did Spencer, who I thought a couple of times took a scene or two a little too far but it didn’t really hurt her performance that much.  Jessica Chastain, who is just rolling out good movie after good movie (I’ve seen her in 3 movies of the last 6 I’ve watched) continues to show why she is going to be a wrecking ball in the near future.  She has the ability to play very different roles from one movie to the next.  Bryce Dallas Howard better start playing some more likable characters before I really start to dislike her.  I really enjoy her work but her characters in 50/50 and The Help are fucking despicable.  C’mon, I want to like you.  Having said that, I thought that Howard should have been nominated over Chastain, whatever that’s worth.  Her role was much larger and I thought more difficult to play.

Even though this is much more of an ensemble than anything else, Emma Stone showed that she is capable of headlining a big movie.  At only 23 years old, she has now broadened her resume to include both comedies and dramas.  I’m intrigued to see what they come up with for the reboot of Spiderman with her and Andrew Garfield.  Even more-so than Spiderman, I’m really looking forward to The Gangster Squad with Gosling and Penn.  

The movie is probably about 20 minutes longer than it should be, coming in at just under 2 1/2 hours but I wouldn’t say that it necessarily has anything that drags or takes away from anything else.  Just a scene or two here and there that could have been easily spared.  I thought the movie was good but not great.  It just shows you how much of a down year this was for movies overall.

Rating: 7/10

Side Notes:

  • I have to be honest, at first, I thought that Bryce Dallas was Jessica Chastain.  Yup.
  • Movie Budget: $25,000,000 (estimated)
  • Movie Gross: $169,672,061 (USA)
  • So there’s that.

Movie: Drive

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks, & Bryan Cranston.

What’s This Shit About? A stunt car driver (Gosling) who moonlights as a getaway driver, gets caught up in some real trouble when he tries to help out his neighbor (Mulligan).

I have been looking forward to this movie for a while, which is saying something since I haven’t been able to stand Albert Brooks since forever (with the exception of The Scout).  Well, he really decided to shove it in my face with a great, great supporting performance, playing against type as a gangster.  I’m a big Gosling fan if you haven’t noticed, but I was especially excited to see what director Nicolas Winding Refn was going to bring to the table.  He has a great eye for cinematography and how a film is shot and a lot of his ideas and style is refreshing and original.  I was very into the the Pusher trilogy and Tom Hardy in Bronson is enthralling and almost unrecognizable as the infamous criminal, however uneven and all over the place the movie may be.  Even so, it was a completely new take on how to have a movie come across to the audience and I always respect someone who is willing to take risks like that.  What Valhalla Rising lacked in plot (extremely lacked) it made up for in cinematography and sequencing.

Drive, as with Refn’s previous films, once again features excellent cinematography, thus continuing his trend of beautifully shot movies.  The way it was shot reminded a lot of David Cronenberg, especially his the way he filmed the action sequences in A History of Violence.  The soundtrack of the film had a definite 80’s feel to it so I was surprised to find out that all of the songs were actually released between 2007-2011, despite their retro feel.  Both “A Real Hero” by College and the aptly named “Theme Song” for the movie brought me back to the days of playing GTA: Vice City and tuning into the Emotion 98.3 radio station every chance I stole a car and went looking for a killing spree.

The second half of this movie is far superior to the first half, so if you’re second guessing yourself during the slow beginning of the movie, I would definitely suggest that you stick around for when it really picks up.  The romantic story line was a slightly weaker point of the film between Gosling and Carey Mulligan and was sweet but went sort of unexplained.  There wasn’t a lot of dialogue between them which got really frustrating during a couple scenes that got to the point of being awkward at times.  They are supposed to have these deep feelings for another but you never really learn much about their relationship or why the characters are drawn to one another…I guess it’s up to interpretation.  As it turns out, Gosling and Mulligan played their characters relationship on feel and mood and actually refused to say many of the scripted lines.  Umm, yeah, no shit.  There’s only so much staring I can take before I need you to open your freaking mouth.  That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the movie, I actually enjoyed a lot of the movie.  I just wish that they had actually read the scripted lines.  I think it would have developed the characters, their relationship, and the audience’s relationship to both of them.

Rating: 8.5/10

Side Notes:

  • Refn’s next movie is Only God Forgive with Gosling (again) and Kristen Scott Thomas and I’m kind of excited for it.
  • The only Oscar Nomination was for Best Achievement in Sound Editing.  Really?
  • Gosling actually replaced Hugh Jackman for the lead in Drive. Nothing against Hugh, but thank god.  I wanted Gosling to so badly to play the father in The Lovely Bones and got Mark Wahlberg instead which turned out terribly…and I really, really liked the book too.  Again, nothing against him, I’m just a huge Gosling fan.
  • The violent scenes were definitely violent.  Like brutally violent.  Which was probably why it reminded me of Cronenberg.
  • I thought they guy who played Mulligan’s ex-convict husband Standard was awesome for the short time he was on screen.  I just couldn’t get over his name being standard.
  • Fun Fact: Gosling’s name is never mentioned in the movie.  He is listed in the credits as Driver.