Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Fault In Our Stars

As many of you are aware, I'm a part of the nerdfighter community. If you don't know what the nerdfighter community is, then I'll tell you.
There are these two brothers, John and Hank Green. They decided to do this thing on youtube called Brotherhood 2.0 where they communicated via youtube videos for a year or so. A whole community sprang up around it, calling themselves nerdfighters, not because they fight nerds, but because they are nerds fighting to reduce world suck. If you're confused, watch this:

Anyway, the videos continue on and Hank makes nerdy music, and John writes great books.
Recently John released his....fourth solo novel (he's done some collaborations) The Fault In Our Stars. It's  now in it's seventh week on the New York Times Best Seller List.
The Fault in Our Stars sound hopelessly cliche'. It's subject matter has been dealt with on documentaries, Lifetime movies, and most importantly real life: Cancer.
I was very hesitant going into TFIOS despite loving pretty much every other John Green book (I'm a little iffy on Katherines, but yet I still totally love it).
However, John deals with the subject with grace and humor. There are so many laugh out loud moments in the book. But at the same time, I was an ugly crying mess by the end. I told myself not to get attached to these  characters in case something bad happens, but the protagonists in the novel, Hazel and Augustus, are incredibly likeable despite seeming so crazily different from the average reader.
One thing I've noted from other reader's reviews is the speaking style between Hazel an Augustus. Some people think it's not how average teenagers really talk. While I can't deny that, you also have to take into account that Hazel and Augustus aren't normal teenagers; they're teenagers who have gone through extraordinary circumstances that are hard on everyone around them. Also, the literary phenomenon known as Willing Suspension of Disbelief is at work here despite the books' realistic fiction pigeonhole.  So before you start the comparisons to Juno (where the characters speak in a similar manner as in TFIOS), keep that in mind.
This book is scary in a way, just in it's subject matter. I found myself becoming very scared of cancer while I was reading. Just the emotional impact of it all is sometimes too much. Take breaks when you read it, and it'll probably sit better, but because I insisted on finishing it in a day, I almost didn't like it at first. I just was so scared of it. It took me a re-read to realize that.
If you've read a John Green book before, you'll probably feel at home in TFIOS. Our narrator is a girl, but she is still a pretty typical Green narrator. While Green's books contain a lot of the same elements, the story is so good that most of the time I don't really mind.
If you read it, keep tissues close at hand and hug your family once in a while. But I do recommend it fully.

P.S. Sorry if this doesn't make any sense, it's really late and I need to go to bed and my thoughts tend to get jumbled when I do things like this.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

In Which I Discuss The Best Picture Nominees

If you're like me, you look forward to the Oscars with hesitance and a little bit of excitement. The big ceremony is tomorrow night on ABC and by some off stroke of luck I've watched some of the nominees, so I'll be giving my opinions here :) When I hit a film I haven't seen, I'll.... improvise I guess.

AND THE NOMINEES ARE.....................

The Help- The Help holds a special place in my heart simply for the connections it had with my life at the time I was reading it. It's such a great piece of literature. However, I felt a lot of the harsher aspects from the book were candy coated for the film adaptation. The film borders on chick flick because of that, and that's kind of disappointing. Best Picture? Probably not. I won't be surprised if it picks up a few acting awards though.

The Descendants- I haven't seen this one, but it's been picked over in all the film forums I follow. It sounds like a decent film, but possibly a little too emotionally manipulative. I honestly don't think I'll watch this one.

The Tree of Life- Again, haven't seen this one, but according to friends who have, it's a giant mess. Art for the sake of art? I'll be watching it sooner or later. It's in my Netflix queue anyway.

Moneyball- Believe it or not, I really liked this movie. It was like a non-sports sports movie. Jonah Hill is fantastic, Aaron Sorkin's' script is totally awesome (as are his co-writers) and Brad Pitt gives a solid performance (Hill was better in my opinion). It's a neat little movie. But again, I don't think it'll win, and that's ok with me.

Midnight in Paris- An artsy chick flick in my opinion. Owen Wilson is playing that one version of himself he always plays. However, I did like all of the characters from the 1920's. Alison Pill's take on Zelda Fitzgerald lights up the screen in particular. But alas, there is nothing too impressive here.

War Horse- I swear to God, I was so ready to see this movie. I was looking forward to it. And then I got wrapped up in something else and totally forgot about it, and before I knew it it was gone. But either way, here's what I have to say: America, meet Benedict Cumberbatch.

Hugo- Please refer to "Why 3-D Bothers Me" post.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close- I don't even know what to say here. I literally have nothing.

The Artist- This is the only nominee out of all of these that I 1. Thought was a winner. 2. Loved to death (I loved the Help to death to, but it had it's problems) and 3. Geniuinely wanted to see again (The help could go here too, but moving on). My money is on this one.

What do you think about the nominees?


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Best of 2011 Reviews: 21 by Adele

I decided to let y'all know what I'd been listening to during 2011, so why not start with newly minted album of the year?
Adele's sophomore knock-out 21 is a curious record. It certainly isn't curious in themes, but just how fresh it is.
In the hands of Katy Perry, Rhianna, ect. this album just would've been solid in terms of lyrics. The lyrics are great, don't get me wrong. But we've heard this story millions of times over. Love is not unusual in the music business at all.
What makes 21  extraordinarily amazing is the class of the instrumentation and amazing abilities of Adele's voice. That is what really drives the album.
Whereas 19 was very jazz influenced, 21 turns to the blues and Motown of the sixties and seventies to give it a distinct sound in the dance/electronic driven pop music biz. If you were to hear an Adele song on the radio (and I'm sure you have) you could immediately distinguish it from any of the artists I mentioned earlier, or a rap group, or something like that. It doesn't sound like anything that's been so popular in a long time, and that is a very very good thing.
While a lot of people are probably rolling their eyes every time Rolling in the Deep comes on the radio (pun intended), the whole album doesn't feel like that. It gets better with every listen and you realize something
different with every spin.
The standout track without a doubt is Someone Like You, although it's effect is getting weaker with all of it's radio airplay. There's something magic in the song. It's just Adele and a piano. And that's where she works best in my opinion. The lyrics are raw yet polished and classy, the sparse-ness of it all making it perfect.
An entirely under-rated track on the album has to be the Carole King flavored One And Only. Backed by a choir, strings, and guitar, the love song almost sounds like a gospel song. There's soul enough for Adele and two of her radio airplay peers here.
Many of today's music critics and fans have been wondering "Who is going to be the Zeppelin of  this decade?" Who are future generations going to remember? Surely not Nicki Minaj and Rhianna? I think we're going to remember Adele.


Monday, February 13, 2012

In Which I Review The Grammys

Three award ceremonies took place yesterday: The BAFTAS, The Tumblr Movie Awards, and The Grammys.
If you want to know about the Tumblr Movie awards, Harry Potter won everything.
If you want something from the BAFTAS, you want this:
Now, onto the Grammys. I've conveniently  split the post into two sections, one for the stuff I liked, and one for the stuff I didn't.

-Adele. First of all SIX Grammys well earned and a soaring performance of Rolling in the Deep that made me actually love the song again (it had a little too much radio airplay). It really goes to show how much talent this girl has, and how amazing 21 is. Truly one of the best records of last year. Second, how classy is she? Third, really amazed at how good Adele sounded after vocal surgery.
-Lady Gaga being classy. Mad props for Gaga. Going into the awards tonight, pretty much everybody knew that Adele was going to win everything. While some people tried to steal the show and failed *coughcoughKatyPerryandNickiMinajcoughcough*, Mother Monster kept it classy in a crazy but well played outfit. She didn't perform, and didn't cry when she didn't win anything. For the record, I loved some of the songs from Born This Way and The Fame Monster, but I loved Adele more. Thanks for keeping it cool Gaga.
-LL Cool J, praying before the show for Whitney Houston. I gained so much more respect for him at that moment. The cloud of Whitney's death hung over the show, but they carried on in a respectable manner about it. Very cool J indeed.
-The Civil Wars. These guys are so cool. I love the song, and I love the harmonies. It was a welcome addition to the show.
-Amy Winehouse's parents accepting her Duets awards with Tony Bennett. It was a sad reminder of the loss of a brilliantly talented woman.
- Paul McCartney, being awesome.
-Bruce Springsteen, being awesome.
-The Beach Boys, being awesome with Foster the People and Maroon 5 (although Mark Foster looked so nervous. Poor boy! I'm sure he'll become more comfortable on stage soon).
-Remember last year when everyone said Taylor Swift was pitchy at the Grammys? Remember when she wrote a retort in the form of song about sounding pitchy? Well last night she gave a pitchy rendition of her retort on being pitchy. Although, again, not a big fan, I thought that took some courage, so that's pretty cool.
-Let's get this out of the way shall we? Nicki Minaj and her blatant attempt to be Lady Gaga. I remember thinking after the performance "I want my three minutes back." 1. The song sucked. 2. It make my stomach turn. 3. It was such an example of how far music has fallen, and making it more ironic was that it was at the Grammys. Seriously?
-Katy Perry. I don't get the hype. Her songs are all bubblegum and she's more known for ever changing hair colors than musicianship. Wasn't a fan of the jumpsuit, and wasn't a fan of the performance.
-Chris Brown. First of all, why are awarding this guy? I believe in forgiveness, but it's too soon. Domestic abuse is horrible, and Chris beat Rhianna until the staff at the hospital couldn't recognize her. THEY COULDN'T RECOGNIZE A WORLD FAMOUS POP STAR. That sends a pretty clear message. And he thinks all is forgiven because he thanked God in his acceptance speech? Not so. Not happy about his win.
-One of the trending topics on Twitter today was "Who is Paul McCartney?" I have very little hope in humanity.

What did you think? Let me know in the comments!


Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Artist Reviewed!

(By the way, listen to this while you're reading the review. It sets the tone.

Je suis trop branche' pour commencer un poste en anglais, donc je suis en train de commencer en francais.

If you've been keeping up with film lately, The Artist has been making big waves. For one thing, it's a silent black and white film in 2012. Two, it's actually amazing. I was initially hesitant about the film, simply because it seemed like a gimmick for movie-goers. But in all reality, The Artist is a beautiful moving film that is so vintage that it's a breath of fresh air.
Director Michel Hazanavicius (yes I did look up how to spell it)  presents a beautifully rendered piece of film that takes you back in time instantly. The cinematography is swoon worthy, the acting is amazing, and I'm fangirling so hard I'm running out of adjectives.
The only thing I could think to complain about is that the film drags in the middle. You might stare at your watch once or twice. But it picks back up pretty quick.
As a soundtrack geek, this thing is certified awesome. Honestly, this might be my favorite soundtrack of the year (along with Hanna and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2). The score carries most of the movie, and it does so quite well. It's a bit Chaplin-esque, very swing, and very in-step with the movies tone and time period.
If you're worried that the story is unintelligible because it is silent, the actors take care of that. Every movement  means something and once you learn to register everything, the movie becomes   a breeze. They make sure you're getting it, and they do a wonderful job of it.
Altogether, go see this now.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

In Which I Make Playlists

I talk all the time about how much I love music, but I feel like I rarely make it  a focus on the blog. Granted, the last post was on the problematic Lana Del Rey, but I'm talking just songs and artists and albums and everything.

So I'm going to be making playlists for different moods, days, feelings, etc. because that's what I often do in my down time.
Tonight's is going to be feeling confident.
I feel like I have a lot of problems with confidence. I've had adults tell my mom that they seem to think I look more confident than girls my age, but that's called a facade, and it's a story for another time.

But here's a playlist I use when I feel like crap

Bulletproof by La Roux
The Devil Is In The Beats by The  Chemical Brothers (it's from the soundtrack to Hanna)
Best For Last by Adele
Rehab by Amy Winehouse
Spectrum by Florence + The Machine
Call It What You Want by Foster the  People
Marry The Night by Lady Gaga (don't laugh you guys, some of her songs are actually amazing and this is definitely one of them)
Teenage Rebel by Chameleon Circuit (They write music about Doctor Who, but this song is super awesome and relevant and stuff)
I Believe In Nargles by The Whomping Willows (wizard rock time!)
Houdini by Foster The People
Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) by Florence + The Machine

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Lana Del Rey Dilemma

"What are you watching?" My brother walks into the room, glancing at the TV warily.
"Saturday Night Live." I answer sheepishly.
"Daniel Radcliffe."
"Oh." he walks away without question.
So while you do have to be kind of drunk to enjoy Saturday Night Live, I really just wanted to check in with the lovely Dan Rad, who was actually pretty fun. But I don't think hardly anyone remembers Dan was hosting that night. They remember Lana.

A few months earlier, I'd heard an early version of one of Del Rey's songs (Diet Mountain Dew) on my favorite XM radio station. I kind of liked it. It was kind of dreamy, a little bit sixties, a little hip hop, ect.
And then came that legendarily horrid SNL performance.

This isn't a defense of Lana Del Rey. This is a dilemma for me.
I watched both of the performances on the show. I had been flipping channels during the commercial breaks and landed on SNL again just as they started playing Video Games. I thought it was a skit at first.

So of course the next day I went and looked up the studio versions of Video Games and Blue Jeans and a few others. The only one I really fell for was Video Games, and to be honest, I still like it.

I didn't know the whole SNL thing was gonna blow up like it did though. I just thought it was a weird flop. I still think a lot of people are over-reacting to it.

The thing is, it finally made me realize something: The indie community can be fooled by the big guys.

Seriously, when the original Lana Del Rey EP came on the scene, everyone was digging it. I thought it was just ok. She really was a gangster Nancy Sinatra. And then she finally sang live. She has become the Rebecca Black of the hipster community.
But Lana Del Rey still has some charm in my mind. She's got a really mellow melancholy sound, and sad as it is to say, I did enjoy her stuff for a while.

However, I tried to listen to all of Born To Die on Spotify, and her voice became annoying after the first few tracks.

So lets move on already. Let the fans be fans, and the rest of just move on. Who knows? I might hear something I like from Del Rey in a year or two, but I'm done for now.


P.S. Sorry if this doesn't make any sense.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

In Which I Win Something!

Once upon a time, on a horribly bleak afternoon, I checked my blog and lo and behold I'd won something!

My always excellent friend Shel has awarded me the Liebster Award!
From what I gather, the Liebster Award goes to an awesome blog with under 200 followers. I'm quite honored! And to my one or two new followers, hi guys!

On a side note, sorry I haven't been so active. School gets in the way sometimes.

On yet another side note, here is Shel's blog!

Thanks again, and I swear I'll get some new material up on here soon!