TV Review: American Horror Story

American Horror Story (created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk)
Starring Dylan McDermott, Connie Britton, Taissa Farmiga, Evan Peters, Denis O’Hare, Jessica Lange,  Frances Conroy, Jamie Brewer

Horror is tricky genre to tackle on television. It traditionally ends up in the anthology format and the few occasions it hasn’t been an anthology it hasn’t stayed pure horror, typically becoming a drama with a horror veneer (Dark Shadows, The Walking Dead). The minds behind Glee and Nip/Tuck have decided to create a new horror serial that actually cements its legs firmly in the tropes of the genre. I have to admit, during the promotions of the show during the late summer I wasn’t really sold. However, after viewing the opening five minutes of the pilot I was hooked. Murphy and Falchuk have managed to create an ongoing series that actually gets what makes horror so horrific.

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Movie Review: Drive

Drive (2011, dir. Nicholas Winding Refn)
Starring Ryan Gosling, Cary Mulligan, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman, Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks

There is a sort of anti-hero, noted in films like Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Samourai or Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West, who is the epitome of the strong silent type. So too in Nicholas Winding Refn’s Drive, we have the hero who chooses to act, rather than speak. Its also a role that matches so perfectly with its star, Ryan Gosling, its hard to imagine anyone else playing the part (Hugh Jackman was attached for a time). Drive is a deceptive film in its public perception, having been marketed as a Fast & The Furious analogue, though it is anything but. Drive is a methodical, existential, and ultimately pop 80s movie.

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Digital Mix – 30 Years and Counting

A mix of songs that have been soundtrack-ing my life lately via iPod. Download here.

1. Midnight City – M83
2. D.A.N.C.E. – Justice
3. How Deep Is Your Love – The Bird and The Bee
4. We Rule the School – Belle & Sebastian
5. Colours – Calvin Harris
6. Our Deal – Best Coast
7. The Body – The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
8. Go Outside – Cults
9. Life in the D – Brendan Benson
10. Everytime – Oi Va Voi
11. We Are Walking Out – Little Scout
12. Big Red Machine – Bon Iver
13. Did You See the Words – Animal Collective
14. You Came Out – We Have a Band
15. Quand on n’a Que L’amour – Jacques Brel
16. Many Rivers to Cross – Jimmy Cliff

Film Review – The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life (2011, dir. Terence Malick)
Starring Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, Hunter McCracken, Sean Penn

“A film is – or should be – more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what’s behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later.” – Stanley Kubrick

In the first hour of Terence Malick’s The Tree of Life we see the Big Bang, the formation of galaxies, the violent volcanic upheavals of land masses on a young earth, and the evolution of animal life. This massively cosmic scope is sandwiched in the middle of an equally intimate examination of a young boy in smalltown Texas during the 1950s. Malick presents all of this in the form of a prayer, beginning with The Mother (Chastain), a red-haired aging woman who receives a letter that her son has died overseas in the Vietnam War. She must relay this news to The Father (Pitt) and the entire scene is done with as a little dialogue as possible. We also have the surviving eldest son, Jack (Penn), in present day still struggling with childhood anger towards his father and the loss of his brother. All of these plot pieces are purely interpretive though. What I stated in the most obvious, traditional narrative way of describing the film, but much more in happening underneath it all.

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Film Review – Super 8 and Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Super 8
(2011, dir. JJ Abrams)

Close Encounters of the Third Kind
(1977, dir. Steven Spielberg)

Movie nerd confession: I had not seen Spielberg’s Close Encounters until a night ago. It was one of those films that I never felt compelled to watch as a child, and now after seeing it, I think it isn’t a movie for kids. In many ways its a fairy tale for adults. Yet, it still evokes that same sense of awe and mystery all of Spielberg’s work does. Super 8 is most definitely a massive nostalgia trip for my generation, accurately mimicking the tropes and tone of the Amblin films of my youth.

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Top 10 Documentaries of 2011 as of June

Thanks to Netflix I have had much more access to documentaries and have enjoyed enough that I didn’t want any to be buried by the narrative features. So starting this year, I will do a separate top 10 list for these amazing docs. Tomorrow, I’ll look at my favorite tv from the first half of the year.

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I’m Back! and my Top 10 Narrative Films of 2011 (as of June)

Now that school is out till August 8th, I will be trying to post much more often on here. Starting out with a look at my top ten favorite films I’ve seen in 2011 so far. Without further ado:

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