Author Archives: Will Collins
After taking Cannes 2012 by storm and snagging an Oscar nomination, director Pablo Larraín’s No is finally stateside. Following the media campaign launched against the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet during his 1988 plebiscite election, Larraín’s film also presents a fascinating critique of mainstream media and a harrowing tale of survival and victory under the repressive regime.
We all know Hollywood loves a happy ending, but the Oscar-nominated short films this year have managed to instill a sense of hope into their tales of struggle without artificially inducing conventional closure of the cheesy variety. In more ways than one, these brief snapshots offer a more valuable insight into the human condition than many of their feature-length counterparts.
Mediocre production value meets overly ambitious lyrics in Meek Mill’s first major-label release, Dreams & Nightmares. Fittingly titled, this “meh” album forages into the oft-explored “I’m rich, now let’s reflect on how I used to be a drug pusher” theme.
Heartbreak and alcoholism are placed in front of a crystal-clear lens in James Ponsoldt’s Smashed. All too real, Smashed follows Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s increasingly sober Kate as she comes to terms with her alcoholism at a pace that mirrors the arduous 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous program in which she enlists. Weaving together elements of a rom-com with those of a serious drama, the film operates on the wave of recent years’ sadcore comedies like 50/50 and Funny People. This fresh, composed film will have viewers reconvening with their own lives as they amble out of the cinema, saying, “Damn, I’m glad that’s not me.”
If you are a sucker for cutesy, Apple-product-commercial music, then Electric Hawaii, the new album from indie-pop outfit Opossom, will fit right into your oversized Beats headphones. Slightly fuzzy vocals, hoppy bass-lines, catchy choruses, dreamy guitars, and a paint-can full of synth give Opossom a classically hip New York City sound—ironic, given that they hail from New Zealand. Though Opossom is the brainchild of Kody Nielson, formally of Mint Chicks, Electric Hawaii boasts a signature, perfected feel that sounds more like the amalgamation of several artistic minds.
In his latest film, Jason Segel is back to give audiences a peek at what lies beneath his clothing—though, thankfully, not quite to the degree of Forgetting Sarah Marshall. In The Five-Year Engagement, the recent release from director Nicholas Stoller and the prolific producer Judd Apatow, Segel’s signature humor and the film’s raunchy writing transform a movie whose title could very easily be mistaken for your run-of-the-mill rom-com into a genuinely funny, ballsy comedy that is exactly what we would expect from that trio.
With Blunderbluss, his first solo release, Jack White decided to bring it all back home. Moody yet serene, the album conjures images of The Who, which will probably appeal to die-hard fans of The Black Keys, and though the sound is sometimes smoky, it will not leave you coughing. Instead, guitar rock mogul White has released an album that can be appreciated by devout followers of his namesake band, as well as a newer, unfamiliar crowd.
This week, everyone needs to take a break from Mad Men and remember back to the real Golden Age of television—the 1990s. Full House, Boy Meets World, and Street Sharks were at our slimy seven-year-old fingertips, and we didn’t even know how good we had it. You may not recognize those first two shows, as they are often cited as irrelevant, but you are certain to recognize the third. Ah yes, Street Sharks, the one and only show about the crime-fighting mutant shark-men.
Writer/director/actor brothers Mark and Jay Duplass have, in recent years, been known for a brand of off-beat humor associated with a film movement called “mumblecore.” This genre is usually defined by a socially downtrodden middle-aged man going through some event and handling it in the way that a socially downtrodden middle-aged man would, often with self-deprecating humor, as in the FX show The League. Jason Segel and Ed Helms, who play brothers in Jeff, Who Lives at Home, the brothers Duplass’ most recent effort, are perfectly cast for the film’s niche humor and surprisingly well-suited for the movie’s sentimental notes.
If Wilco raided the Velvet Underground’s wardrobe, stole the Kinks’ haircuts, and then teamed up with Cursive, you’d end up with an image of Rotary Club’s newest album. The band’s experimental, ever-changing lineup packed in a thick sphere of homages on its sophomore attempt Second Year in Swine, but while the LP weaves in plenty of innovative subtleties, Rotary Club’s sound plays it safe by catering to fans of major alternative artists of both recent and long-gone years.