December 15, 2011

Best of 2011: Music

The best songs got that emotional kick to them. Sometimes certain songs have the benefit of being featured in films or TV shows that just make them immortal. In 2011 there were three tracks, one from a movie, one from a TV show, and one completely original from an album that really just blew me away.

Pictures in my Head from The Muppets
I never watched the Muppets TV show growing up, but I was familiar with their two massive anthems "Moving Right Along" and "Rainbow Connection," and before you bros out there start ranting about how those aren't anthems, let me say, relax bros, they are anthems and you need to get a soul. But anyway, this song from the pretty enjoyable Muppets flick really nails it with the piano, the drums kicking in, and the lyrics about reflecting on the past. Kermit is so profound man!

N****S In Paris by Jay-Z and Kanye West
Jay-Z and Kanye dropped one of the most anticipated albums of the year with their team up project titled Watch The Throne. With Jay-Z and Kanye being some of the biggest rappers, hype was huge for this one and it totally delivered, and the best track on the disc is this one. With it's simple beat, outlandish boasts, and badass bass breakdown at the end it's the most diverse song on the album. For more on the wild lyrics check out the excellent Rap Genius breakdown of the whole thing. And yeah, it came down between this and Made in America, but N***S in Paris is just more varied.

Goodbye by Soap & Skin & Apparat
2011 was the year I got super deep into the incredible AMC series Breaking Bad. This song, from some German DJ dude featured prominently in the brain exploding awesome season finale and I haven't been able to get it out my head since. It's like old school western music with a modern day twist and highly unforgettable.

Honorable Mention
Undun (The Entire Album) by The Roots - I guess I'd been sleeping on "The Roots" previous albums or I was rubbed the wrong way by bros who at Dave Matthews Bands shows who say "dude I love the Roots man," but this disc is fresh as hell.

December 14, 2011

Best Character: Moses from Attack The Block

It's no secret how much I loved Attack The Block. About a gang of British street kids defending their apartment block from "big alien gorilla wolf mofos" was far superior to Super 8 which also told a similar youth vs aliens story. But the heart and soul of "Attack The Block" lies with it's ultra badass main character "Moses," who if you couldn't tell from the name is the leader of the pack. Brilliantly played by John Boyega, Moses is so engaging for his wicked badass alien killing authority, but also for his humanity, a key part later in the film. Yeah, I like seeing him take down aliens with samurai swords, but his emotion is what takes the character to the next level. By the time the final showdown came about in the movie, I don't think I was ever rooting for a character more onscreen this summer. MOSES! NINJA!

**Boyega is following up his star making turn as Moses by playing a young Mike Tyson in an HBO series pilot**

December 13, 2011

Best of 2011: Best Oh Shit Moment

The writing staff over at THISLALIFE do things a little differently. So while other much more sophisticated media sites, magazines, and institutions are sitting around trying to best each other's best lists, we're going to focus on the best shit in 2011 that probably won't make any lists. So stay tuned as the year ticks down to the explosion known as 2012, cause we're going through all the stuff that got it going in the year of the double ones.

"Rise of the Planet of the Apes" was easily the surprise of the year (check out my review). What most people wrote off as a stupid cash grab by Fox rapidly climbed to both critical praise and some serious scrilla. I kind of saw it coming, Apes director Rupert Wyatt's previous film "The Escapist" is a under appreciated prison escape flick with great characters, so I had moderate hopes that Apes would deliver. But anchored by an incredible turn by performance capture god Andy Serkis, the story of how Caesar the ape, started the rebellion against the humans is pure cinematic gold.

And while it's not my favorite film of the year, it did easily have the best "Oh Shit Moment,"or OSM for short, which if you don't know is the only thing that really matters in entertainment. And while there are many great moments in the film, from the childish way Caesar first integrates himself into suburban life, to his takedown of a brutish neighbor, to his Tony Montana esque rise to power at the ape prison, or even the bridge showdown, nothing comes close to the end, which establishes the future of all the apes moves to come and those that came before it. LOOK AWAY NOW if you don't want me to spoil what the best part of the film. LOOK AWAY, you've been warned.

The theater I was in went absolutely bananas insane when this happened and I'm still reeling about it today. HAIL CAESAR! 

December 2, 2011

Hugo & The Muppets Bringing It With The Family Fun

I frequently have my buddies walk up to me and say "Yo, TPG, they don't make good movies for kids anymore,  kids these days bro, they don't have any flicks like "Short Circuit" or "Rookie of the Year"!" My response is usually something along the lines of, don't worry mon, I'm sure those movies are about to get remade/remade/reformatted/ruined soon. However, I recently saw two great movies while typically labeled "kidz" movies are suitably enjoyable for all ages.

This one comes from cinematic legend Martin Scorsese and it's nothing short of pure cinematic magic! Based off the book by Brian Selznick, the film focuses on a young orphan who resides in a clock tower at the central train station in Paris. He's trying to solve the mystery of his late father's Automaton, which may or may not be linked to the history of cinema itself. All the actors including Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Chloe Moretz give great performances and the world Scorsese creates is magical. Yet the strength of the film lies in it's heart, which is wickedly sentimental, but never cheesy. I highly recommend.

The Muppets
Now let's talk about The Muppets. I grew up without a television, so I didn't know there was Muppet TV show until about two weeks ago when the press blitz started for the film. However, I did know that Rainbow Connection and Movin' Right Along are amazing tracks, so when I heard that the film was going to have music from Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords fame I was pumped. So, yeah, there's singing and dancing, and there's Muppet's getting into, and there is a very bare bones plot involved getting the old gang back together to save their old theater. It's a great little bundle of a flick with some really endearing and memorable songs, including this one below which is easily the standout. There's also some really funny parts and some cool "meta" parts where the characters talk to the audience and acknowledge that they are in a movie. So if you're not seeing this movie with your family or kids, I'm going to wager that these parts are particularly mind blowing.

So yes, there are still great movies for kids. And while I'm confident today that kids these days are going to turn out slightly messed up from playing to much Modern Warfare 3 or seeing Optimus Prime shoot people's heads off. , at least they are going to have some awesome movies to look back on.