Music for Films

»Brian Eno

Ambient, Drone, Experimental

1978 - 40:39


Ahh, Brian Eno, the father of ambient music. Sure he wasn’t the only one making ambient tunes back in the day, but that doesn’t stop him from being one of the earliest and most significant members of the movement. I have quite a number of his albums, including a good amount of compilations (because Eno & Fripp were born to make music together), and you will see various reviews of said albums popping up here from time to time. I have to say though, this album is not one of my favourites in Eno’s long career (he’s over 60 years old and still making music!), though it’s not his worst.

This album, you might guess, contains a collection of music for films. If you did guess that, you would be wrong, though understandably. In reality, the album contains music for imaginary films. A sort of faux-soundtrack, really.

The album opens with the disappointing "Aragon", but quickly makes up for it with the next few tracks then, seventeen tracks later, "Final Sunset"—the longest track on the album, pulling in a ‘lengthy’ 4:11—starts the credit roll. Yes, this album has uncharacteristically short song lengths, but I believe it contributes to the overall concept of the album; because really, most films don’t have scenes that go on for twenty minutes straight, with the same music playing throughout.

There were a few disappointing songs on the album, which only managed to elicit an “I’ve heard better, but whatever” response from me (aka. 3.5 stars)—the opening track, "There Is Nobody", and "Patrolling Wire Borders", specifically. Of course, there are beautiful tracks like "Inland Sea" and "Strange Light" that more than make up for the weaker tracks.

Interestingly enough, I might actually recommend this as a good starting point for anyone interested in exploring Brian Eno’s vast discography. The album has a handful of short drone tracks, which give a good sample for the epics Eno often crafts; there are a number of experimental and post-rock based tracks, which present a good idea of the albums Eno has done in those fields; and, of course, the ambient and electronica on the album provides a good intro to the rest of his discography well, with the songs being of similarly short lengths. Really, it’s as if the album is a concise Brian Eno demo tape.

Favourite Song: Alternative 3

Least Favourite: Aragon

Note: not an official music video

The Hunger Games

»Gary Ross

Rated 14A

2012 ~ 142 min


I guess it is time to do a review on an extremely popular, well done movie.

No. Not Twilight. Notice how I said ‘well done’? Also, I never mentioned an egregious amount of fan girls or awful plots.

I am talking about The Hunger Games.

I went to see it about a week after it came out, hoping to avoid full theatres and yes, the sad occurence of fan girls. Having not read the series, but heard a lot of good things about this particular film, I decided to check it out with my brother and good friend Joanna. She is asian.

Anyway, we got in just before they ran out of tickets, which was wonderful, and skipped food so we got good seats.

The tale of love, hardship, death and victory had me and my emotions running right along with them. When Katniss was sad, so was I. When she was anxious, my heart rate doubled, nay, tripled. I was certain a heart attack was imminent. Then again, that could have been the mixture of an energy drink and my heart condition… I adored Rue and very nearly cried when she didn’t make it. My brother punched me and said, “Hey look, the little kid died. HAHAHA.” Not known for sensitivity, that boy.

Having now read the books, there are several aspects I wish they had kept, such as making the giant dogs at the end look like the dead tributes. It was shocking and disturbing in the book, and showed the twisted minds of those in the capital, particularly the game makers themselves. Also, there are several characters that were never named. In the books they had names, and I suppose in the movie as well, but no one ever speaks their names. Such as the Game Maker himself… Even now, I cannot recall his name… Seneca or something like that.

Overall, I loved this movie. The actors were superb, the cast being rounded out with some popular names like Woody Harrelson and some amazing newer names like Jennifer Lawrence.

My favorite has to be Josh Hutcherson, who I have been following as an actor since he started. He portrays Peeta very well.

I am glad the movie did so well… So well, that when the Hunger Games came out on DVD earlier this week, stores extended their hours just so people could pick up a copy of this amazing film.

This movie has garnered an 8.5 out of 10. Despite a couple errors, I am looking forward to the next installment… Even though it was the most depressing book of the series, I hope they manage to flesh out Katniss’ determination and struggle.

Gladiator

»Ridley Scott

Rated 14A

2000 ~ 155 min


We are going to jump back some years to the year 2000. Pretty awesome year that one, what with the no-show of the Y2K thing and the whole centennial. However, this is a review blog and so I will review not the whole year, but only something from that year. That something is the cinematic masterpiece that is Gladiator.

Directed by Ridley Scott, this movie takes place Rome and deals with a newly ascended Ceaser, play by Joaquin Pheonix, and the general, played by the talented Russell Crowe, he screws over in the most brutal of ways. I am not going to go into a synopsis of the plot because it is almost 3 hours long and it is waaaaay better to experience it than just read what happens.

Russell Crowe does a marvelous job of playing Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridus who goes from being general and advisor to the emperor to a slave slated for death in stacked gladitorial games. Right along with him is Joaquin Pheonix playing newly appointed Ceaser, Commodus. Now where Russell Crowe does a truly excellent job of playing Maximus’ revenge driven, grief stricken badass general/gladiator who I enjoyed the heck out of, Joaquin Phoenix does a truly excellent job of making me loathe all that is Commodus. I’m not sure if that was Ridley Scott’s intention to make Commodus as hateable as he was, but it worked so very well in the movie that if it wasn’t intended he will probably never say so. I would have to say that the only other character I hate almost as much as Commodus would have to be Umbridge from Harry Potter.

After the awesome acting is the kickass scenery and setting. It has everything from very believable dungeon rooms to large panoramic landscape/cityscape shots that all contribute to the visual side of this audio/visual masterpiece… I can’t remember where I was going to go after this, so Ima just skip ahead to the next part now.

So basically you should go out and buy this movie. Then go home and watch it and be amazed and thrilled at the treasure I helped you discover. Then feel sad and ashamed that you did not already own it in the first place. Or if you don’t have the time then make a “Movies to watch/purchase” list and put this one at the top. Here, I’ll help, just copy/paste this to your list:

*→ GLADIATOR ←*

You might even want to crank up the font size a bit as well, just in case.

In review: yes, I am thoroughly entertained. I will give this a 5/5 because it is a amazing movie and one I will watch over and over. And there are only a few movies that would make me say that. I might tell you which ones, but not yet… not yet.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

»Nintendo

Rated E

1998 - N64, Gamecube, Wii, 3DS


So one of the reasons I was added to this group of reviewers is that I am the one who plays (well, more like played now, since I haven’t in a while) the most games. And now I think that it is high time that we get at least one entry under this category. To get this review train rolling we are going to start with a classic and ground breaking game that rocked the critics and the players alike in a way never before seen. I am of course speaking of The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time.

In this day and age, with the amazing graphics and what not, I still maintain that OoT is still among the top games ever created. For it’s time the graphics were amazing, the gameplay not ridiculously linear and the storyline was great. This game set the benchmark for the rest of the Zelda games to follow, and personally I think only Twilight Princess came close to matching it. Also, it has time travel.

Without going into a major synopsis, the game follows a young boy, called Link, chosen by destiny to save the pretty damn awesome land of Hyrule from the big (and very awesome) baddy, Ganondorf. Initially to do that he must first collect the three spiritual stones to get to the all powerful Triforce before Ganondorf does. As you probably guessed, that doesn’t work out and BOOM! he is now seven years older, gets ownership of one of the most iconic swords in all of gaming. At which point he must embark to awaken the seven sages scattered in temples around Hyrule so they can help him kick Ganondorf’s ass, because he managed to get his hands on the Triforce and got even more evil.

Moving on, I shall start with the interface. IT IS EXCELLENT. Push the stick forward to walk, push it forward harder to run. Run at most edges to automatically jump off, and roll if they are at an acceptable height, and have at any one point three unique tools aside from your ever present sword. The only complaint is that sometimes if you aren’t paying attention you will make Link, the protagonist, jump off of things you don’t want him to. In which case he will probably end up injuring himself. In terms of tools and weapons this games has an awesomely diverse set. Bow and arrow, bombs, slingshot, normal sticks, firey inferno magic, protective magic, infinitely useful bottles and boomerangs all delightfully carried in a bag of holding.

The gameplay is also awesomely awesome. The temples are all pretty unique from each other and are both extensive and scenic. I would have to say that the desert colossus is my favourite temple. You get the mirror shield and it looks awesome, but I think my favourite boss is a toss up between BongoBongo and Twinrova. Here I will take the time to say that the most annoying temple by far is definitely the Water Temple, and anyone who says that they like it has actually come down with a specialized case of Stockholm Syndrome and were stuck in there so long that they only think they like it. It is definitely the most evil of the temples, and those include the Shadow Temple which is in a bloody graveyard! But, if you don’t wanna do the whole storyline in one go, then there is an abundance of sidequests that one can do, such as selling all the masks or procuring the biggoron sword. Basically I’m saying that you if you haven’t played this game then you are not a gamer and you should go play it right now. This game is gaming ROYALTY and should be played and thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. Maybe even several times each, I myself have played it 4 times.

In conclusion I give this game a full 5 stars and a hearty round of applause. And seriously, once you are done reading this go play it. Go be bugged by Navi saying “Hey listen!” (which is almost as trademark as the Master Sword), go be a little grossed out that you are crawling around in a giant fish, go explore the innards of a active volcano and SMASH A DRAGONS HEAD WITH A MASSIVE HAMMER. Go learn to songs of the temple and then play your favourites randomly because you like them that much (my faves are "Bolero Of Fire" and "Nocturne Of Shadow"). GO. NOW.

Beggars

»Thrice

Alt Rock, Indie, Post-hardcore

2009 - 43:44


I don’t really know where to start with this album. Though, don’t take that to mean anything bad or good about it. I’m just not really sure how to best present my thoughts on it. And when you’re writing a review, being able to concisely present your thoughts is a great deal more important than anything else. Time to take a break and watch a video!

OK, now that I’ve taken a moment to pause, my thoughts have collected in a nice, muddy pool at the bottom of my brain. I would like to describe this album as post-post-hardcore. Namely because Thrice used to be a post-hardcore band, but their albums have become more alt/indie rock lately. I haven’t heard their latest release, as of the moment of my writing this, but I can say that somewhere around Vheissu they just decided to completely switch up their sound. Not that I mind. I actually enjoy their later albums a fair bit. But you will see that when I review those further down the timeline. And you want to hear about this album now. Beggers.

Really, any album that opens with a track called “All The World Is Mad” can’t be bad in my ever-subjective opinion. Really, check this stuff out:

Something’s gone terribly wrong with everyone
All the world is mad
Darkness brings terrible things; the sun is gone
What vanity, our sad, wretched fires

If there’s one thing that Thrice is known for, other than being one of the more widely-popular post-hardcore bands out there, or for their constantly evolving sound, it’s their lyrics. Some artists use lyrics as little more than extra instrumentation, so that their tracks seem less empty; some artists should never be allowed to use lyrics, because they have absolutely know idea what they are (baby, baby, baby, oohh, baby, baby, baby, noo…); but not Thrice. No, Thrice will paint stories with their vocals. And when they sing, they sing with a passion that makes you know they mean it, whether they’re yelling out words as loudly as they can (in their more hardcore songs), or whispering some plaintive revelation. And Beggers doesn’t disappoint in this regard.

Also, references to Orwell’s 1984 are always welcomed (“Doublespeak”).

The album starts off with two harder tracks, “All The World Is Mad” and “The Weight”. After that, it doesn’t get less exciting or less powerful, it merely becomes less loud.

And, unlike many post-hardcore bands (have I mentioned they’re pretty much an indie band now?)—or bands of any genre, really—they aren’t afraid to have a few songs that aren’t dark, dreary or otherwise depressing. Halfway through the album they provide us with “Exile” a song which no doubt expresses a longing that everyone on the planet has felt. It’s not sad or particularly happy, but it’s full of hope and longing. It provides a nice contrast to “All The World Is Mad”, if you ask me.

My heart is filled with songs of forever
A city that endures, where all is made new
I know I don’t belong here, I’ll never
Call this place my home, I’m just passing through

And what of the instrumentation? Well, in typical Thrice fashion, the drumming is spectacular, the beats and rhythmes are catchy, but not enough to annoy you should they get stuck in your head for a period of time. There are lots of ambient sounds flowing through the background of most songs (very noticeably in “Wood & Wire”), complimenting the track nicely. Even the quieter tracks (of which there are many on this album) are full of interesting sounds; that is, they don’t feel empty or boring.

It’s definitely a solid release. It might actually be my favourite Thrice release since The Artist in the Ambulance. Actually, you know what. It is. Yup, it’s their best release in half a decade of not releasing bad music.

Favourite Song: All The World Is Mad

Least Favourite: At The Last