Sunday, 31 October 2010

Why Keep Your Life on Hold, For Hope?

You can get to 8 blog followers without making any enemies though. Who's laughing now ZSuckerberg?

The title of this post is taken from a ridiculous site I just stumbled across called Facebook Quotes. As expected, this site solely consists of quotes people can use for their Facebook statuses. They're arranged in lists under titles like 'Hope' and 'Missing you'. If I told you that they're all hideously spelt and just a little bit melodramatic would you be surprised? Thought not.

I've just got back from holiday so I haven't been posting on here nor have I been tweeting. If you've noticed then, well, I'm flattered actually. Meanwhile, I've been a bit slow with cinema releases this year which is to say that whilst I've watched things, I've usually only got round to seeing them after they've been out for weeks. For evidence of this read my post I made earlier in the year hating on 'Inception' and then subsequent awkward opinion reversal posts when I'd actually *seen* it and realised that, oh wow, it's really quite good. Hey, don't look at me like that. I always judge things both too early and, by and large, by their cover.

With the above paragraph considered, I finally got around to watching 'The Social Network' last night and it was really good. I'll say here that when I originally heard the premise of the film I was a bit put off. I mean Facebook, at the absolute best of times, is pretty painful* and these guys are making a film about this time waster. I mean, seriously? It was when I was thinking thoughts like these that someone nudged me and told me about all the fascinating power struggles Facebook had encountered during its inception (oh! nice link) and more importantly that the film was going to be directed by all round nice guy and really-good-at-what-he does-man, David Fincher.

This success of this film for me is largely down to two factors. Firstly, the script is brilliantly lean and really conveys what it probably was like when some nerds decided to, by hook or by crook, set up this site that we now waste all of our lives on. These guys aren't portrayed as being amazingly charasmatic nor are they especially witty and that was something I thought might have been lost in translation. It'd be easy to write the creators up as prodigious upstarts that saw what they wanted in life, what they aspired to be and just went out there and got it. Life is, of course, rarely like that and whether some of the decisions we witness being made in this film were by accident or design, it's sort of hard to tell. The film reflects all this brilliantly.

Secondly, the acting (Zuckerberg's character in particular) is faultless. Jesse Eisenburg plays Zuckerberg as a 'coding genius'. That term right there 'coding genius' may as well be a synonym for 'geek', let's be honest here. The crucially important thing about Mark Zuckerberg in real life and as he is portrayed here is to remember that he was never in any doubt about his abilities. He knew and still knows how good he is. Eisenburg underpins his performance with a knowing self satisfaction that makes him look obnoxious pre Facebook taking off but completely vindicated as the users log on in their thousands, his HTML coding gets him groupies and he becomes BFFs with the extremely annoying Sean Parker played by Justin Timberlake. Here bringin' SexyBack with that stupid perm looking thing he use to rock in N*Sync's dying days.

So 'The Social Network' becomes the second big film of the year to completely exceed my expectations. The first one being 'Inception', of course. I was going to end this post with a joke that links those two films but to be honest, I don't think you could find two films more diametrically opposed unless you were watching 'Mean Girls' on one screen and 'Jurassic Park' on another, so I gave up.

*I understand that the quality of your own Facebook experience depends totally on who you have on your friends list. It just so happens that my friends list is made up of people I'm not friends with, people I don't know and people that can't spell. Thems the breaks.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Lost In The World

Despite being male, I'd still swop my talking voice for Nicki Minaj's in a heartbeat.

Kanye West's film 'Runaway' premiered on the US networks at the weekend. Naturally, it was all over the sick, twisted and quite brilliant internet within a moment's notice.

The film is an interesting one, to say the least. I was going to try and write a small summary of what happens but I feel that you will all think I've finally lost it if I do. Let's just say that the film includes an asteroid smashing into earth, a phoenix being born, Kanye and phoenix watching a fireworks display whilst a massive Michael Jackson papier mache head is paraded and some ballerinas dancing around to a song that includes the line "24/7 365 pussy stays on my mind." All this and its only 34 minutes long. Take note James Cameron with your shitty little blue world boring everyone into submission for hours on end.

For a fan boy like me, the main draw of this film is to hear the vast majority of songs included on 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy', albeit in snippet form. Safe to say that the ones I haven't already heard sound very interesting. Really digging the Rihanna featuring 'All of The Lights' I must say. The film is beautifully shot and at times is remarkably vivid, I've never seen anything like it before. My monitor is ancient and dusty as anything too. It's like it was recently salvaged from Tutankhamun's tomb. How much Mr West has to do with the actual cinematography and all I don't know, but either way, it's definitely worth watching. Gotta say that Kanye's acting when he has a line (which is rare) is a bit lame but he cleverly distracts you by wearing some super sharp suits. The mischievous, badly acting and well dressed little scamp.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

In Memoriam - Elliott Smith

I remember October 21, 2003 really well. It was the day my favourite artist, Elliott Smith, died. It was a normal day really, nothing extraordinary happened to make it stand out from any other. I remember that I heard the news and I remember that I went to the supermarket for something and it absolutely poured down. On the way there the radio was playing a recently released R.E.M song called 'Bad Day'. I won't attribute any greater meaning or anything to this weather or this song but both sort of made me think that I didn't wanna be out of the house that evening. I got home a little later and played Elliott's albums back to back like I had a million times before. I wasn't overwhelmed with sadness or loss, I remember just feeling very, very strange.

Seven years have now passed since that day and a lot has happened to me since then. The good and the bad, the ups and the downs. Nothing more or less than this life game promises us all, I suppose. Elliott's music, however, has always been a constant. He remains my favourite artist and I'm still regularly surprised by a turn of one of his phrases or a melody buried deep in one of the many astounding songs he released. I remember the day I first heard 'Either/Or' and couldn't help but think that I was the only person in the world to ever listen to the record. You'd listen to these songs and feel like you'd just shared a secret and a beer with the man. To this day, I'm still a little taken aback when I read an article about him or overhear someone discussing him. I always want to say "You're in on this thing too? I thought it was just me."

Since his death I've also come to understand why I felt so strange on that rainy day in October. I think it had something to do with knowing that someone like Elliott was out there, making the music he was making, on this same planet I was inhabiting. It was comforting, in a strange way. There was always the promise that he'd announce a tour and I could go see him or that he'd release some details of a new record that I could get stupidly excited about. When he died, he took this promise and this comfort with him. Whilst I'm eternally grateful for the body of work he has left behind, it's also difficult, from a purely selfish viewpoint, not to rue what could've been and what he could've done.

Elliott seemed to be a conflicted character that didn't get along with himself too well sometimes. I know that's a extremely basic way to put it but so much is written about his life, his death and everything in between that's it's almost easier to look at it that way. Whilst his life may have acted as the catalyst (be that for good or for bad) behind his art, I prefer not too look into it in too much detail. It's simply not my place to. Clearly, Elliott went to some dark places in his thirty four years. To me, however, it's now more important to stress that the man had an amazing gift for writing songs that speak to your very core. Songs that sometimes sounded more like whispered reassurances that everything's going to be okay than a guy with some instruments and a ludicrous amount of talent.

I'm trying to keep this short and not too gushing so I'll sign out here and just say, keep Elliott Smith in your thoughts for a minute or two this week. In fact, I'll help you with that one. Watch the video below, there's a couple of minutes or so right there that'll lodge him in the forefront of your mind.

Elliott Smith - 'Alameda'

Friday, 8 October 2010

This Job Is Killing Me.

You know when people get stranded by the tide coming in? They must be really thick, right? It's happened to me three times in my life thus far :*(

Not this one. I haven't blogged for so long that you couldn't really call this a job. Those lovely fellas in sportswear queueing up down at the jobcentre do more work in a day than I've done on this blog in the last three weeks. As always, no real reason. Life just tends to get in the way. If you aren't already, follow me on twitter at @manmeetdinosaur. I post far more frequently on there. The material is identical to this blog though, I warn you now. Posts containing content that mainly conform to a music/popular culture focus whilst often shot through with biting sarcasm and historical inaccuracies. Safe to say if you hate my blog, you'll despise my twitter.

I've decided to post because I'm avoiding (or trying to) eBay right now, if you must know. Not because I've bought some old shit that i'm trying to avoid paying for. I'm not just sat here as vitrolic negative feedback piles up. Oh no. I just always buy rubbish on ebay I don't want. In fact, in my university days someone once found me typing 'weapons' into the eBay search bar FFS. I wasn't even doing it in a Anarchist/kid about to go postal way either. I just thought it'd be cool to buy some ninja stars or something like that. Maybe some of those ninja sticks. I often wonder where my student loan went y'know.

So, whilst I'm here, I'll talk about The Walkmen. I was just reading this great little feature over at the ever brilliant FADER site about these guys and it got me to thinking about them and how truly magnificent they are. One thing I probably overstate when writing about bands/artists on here is consistency. I always seem to be lauding bands for being consistent when I can understand people who argue that if someone makes a record that is a stone cold classic, yet also a one off that they'll never match again, then what's wrong with that? Well, nothing really but The Walkmen are one of those bands that make great albums time and time again. They aren't unknown, sure, but the amount of inches you'll read on bands that don't stack up to the knees of this lot is enormous. Trust me when I tell you that they are far more than just 'The Rat'. Although, I must say here that song still makes me go absolutely mental when I hear it. Proper beating-my-heart-and-shouting-to-the-heavens style like I'm Brian Blessed after a full fat Red Bull. "CAN'T YOU HEAR ME! I'M BEATING ON THE WAAALLL!" I scream at the mirror. "Yeah I can, STFU!" wail the neighbours.

Anyway, I've just ordered The Walkmen's new record 'Lisbon' from the ever speedy* and I highly suggest you do too. I have the highest of hopes. The title video of this post is a song called 'Stranded' (horns baby! horns) and the song below is called 'Angela Surf City'. I think these two tunes highlight the quality of this band well and also, they couldn't really be more different. (Somebody give that drummer a glass of water. Boy on fiah.) Both songs are taken from 'Lisbon' which is out on Monday.

Can't imagine too many surfer chicks being called Angela, I must say.

* Haha. I told a lie.