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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Gypsie Jazz, Where Have You Been Hiding

I just heard this great new artist from France today named Zaz. She is a jazz singer with a little touch of gypsie swag to her music. It sounds so fresh and yet familiar at the same time. I love the beat and the rhythm of this song. It has become my jam of the day in fact. I must find more music of hers!!!
The first video is the official music video of the song Je Veux with no subtitles, below that one is a live version of Je Veux with English subtitles.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Spiderman 3...Is it as bad as we remember?

The summer movie season is upon us!! This is great news for me because that means the latest batch of superhero movies will be invading movie theaters. I love superhero movies. They are so much fun to watch. This summer movie season got off to a great start with The Avengers, which was feakin’ awesome. Unfortunately I still have to wait for the new Spiderman and The Dark Knight Rises, but from looking at their trailers, both have the potential to be great.

Over the years, there have been some great superhero movies, Spiderman 2, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Iron Man, and Captain America just to name a few. But for every great superhero movie, there is a super bad one. Hulk, Daredevil, Green Lantern, Spiderman 3, and Batman Forever are great examples of bad superhero movies. So I thought it would be fun to go back and rewatch some of the bad superhero movies and see if they are just as bad as I remembered them to be.

For this first installment I went back and rewatched Spiderman 3. Starring Tobey Maguire as Spiderman and directed by Sam Ramni, it is the final installment of Ramni’s incarnation of the Friendly Neighborhood WebCrawler. In the film, Spiderman faces The Sandman, Venom, and New Green Goblin. (For a complete plot synopsis click here)

When this movie was released I was super excited for it. The first two films were great, and the entire crews from those movies were returning. Not only that, the trailers for Spiderman 3 made it look epic. Sadly after I left the theater, I was very disappointed, along with the majority of the film going public.

When I rewatched Spiderman 3 I tried to go in with an open mind and forget my previous disappoint with the film. I think I was semi-successful. I found the film to be slightly more enjoyable than I remembered it. I enjoyed the final battle between Spiderman and New Green Goblin against Venom and Sandman, and J. Jonah Jameson was hysterical. But there were there a number of areas that I found to be really bad. They were: 1) Too many storylines, 2) The CGI SFX, and 3) Ending on a bummer.

Spiderman 3 has so much going on. It is almost like the filmmakers tried to combine Spiderman 3 and 4 into a single movie. You have the Peter Parker/Mary Jane storyline, Peter Parker/Eddie Brock, Eddie Brock/Gwen Stacy, Mary Jane/Harry/and Spiderman storyline, Peter/Sandman, and the list goes on. It is so much that I found myself not caring so much about the character development because I was getting lost. If they would of cut one or two of the sub-plots out, I think it would of greatly improved the overall film. (Incidentally, at the time of its production there were a lot of rumors that Ramni and the cast wanted to end the Spiderman series, and the studio was trying to get them to come back for more movies. So this may account for so many plots being cramped into the film.)

Secondly the CGI. Man does it not hold up. In fact now it is really distracting to watch. I feel that it takes away from the story telling process, because it looks so unreal. This argument can be used for any movie that relies heavily on CGI, but what made the first two Spiderman films different were the stories. The stories were so good that you still got pulled even, and you could overlook the bad CGI. This should be a lesson to all film -makers, do not rely on CGI effects. Return to classic SFX of camera tricks, stunts, mat paintings, actors on wires, and models. Of course some of these special effects age, but they age graceful. They still look organic to the film. To this day, I can watch the first Superman movie, and buy into the fact that a man can fly.

Finally it ends on a bummer. Spiderman 3 breaks the cardinal rule of the trilogy. You send your crowd home happy. Look at Return of the Jedi, the good guys win, bad guys lose, and all of your storylines are wrapped up in a nice bow. Same with Lord of the Rings. Spiderman 3 leaves me with too many questions. Do Peter and Mary Jane get back together? At times Spiderman 3 feels more like the middle installment of a trilogy, which typically ends on a low note for the hero, see The Empire Strikes Back. I really feel that the hero needs to triumph in the finale of the trilogy.

Overall, if I were to grade Spiderman 3, I would get it a D+/C-. It isn’t horrible, but if it will not blow your socks off like the first two did. It is just ok. I think for my next installment, I will do Batman & Robin.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Great Read

Hey now!!! It is an exciting time in my life. I am currently in my last Grad class and will have my Master's in Education by June 30th. Just 7 weeks left!!!! Once my Master's is done I'll be able to have fun again. But one aspect of my Master's that I have enjoy very much is that I have been able to read on a consist basis. In fact, I just finished this great book on J.D. Salinger, the author of The Catcher in the Rye. The name of the book is J.D. Salinger: A Life, and its author is Kenneth Slawenski. Slawenski does a great job chronicling the life of more of the most private authors in American history. One of the major themes of the book is how Salinger wrestled with the artist side of writing versus the commercial aspect. For Salinger, writing was his way of experiencing the divine, and thus became very sacred to him. It was his way of praying. So when a publisher would try and "commercialize" his works to sell them to the public, he would become indigent. Thus became the great retreat from the public of one of America's greatest authors. If you are a fan of J.D. Salinger, I cannot recommend this book enough. If you have never read any of his works, but are still interested, check it out. It is one of the best biographies I have ever read.