Great Music #32

Hi there. Time for another edition of “Great Music”, where I talk about music I like. Yeah, not much else to say there. Onward!

So unlike the last two parts in this series, today’s song is not from a video game. Instead it’s a regular song-song, something I listen to outside of other mediums. I mean, I found out about this band through a movie once, but this song I heard on my own, without that little help. Ladies and gents, it’s “End of the Line” by The Traveling Wilburys.

For those who don’t know, The Traveling Wilburys is a supergroup consisting of one of the coolest lineups in music. We got George Harrison (R.I.P), Roy Orbison (R.I.P), Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, and Tom Petty (R.I.P)… yeah, this group is (was) the real deal. The group started in 1988 and stopped circa 1991. What I love about their music is there’s no real ego on show here. It just feels like a group of friends getting together and having fun, playing some tunes… which is essentially what they were. Now, Wilburys has a great discography, meaning I could pick any song from them. But I wanted to specifically go with “End of the Line” because of the simple message it has (that I can interpret at least). No matter what happens, be it if you have great wealth or not, driving a fancy car or an absolute shitbox, everything will be okay. Yeah, one could interpret it as “Yeah, we’ll all be dead in the end”, but I’d like to be a bit more optimistic about it. A nice song that warms my heart, telling everyone that it’s all right.

What do you think of this song? And just for fun, in terms of career outside of Wilburys, who’s your favorite of them?
Have a good one and enjoy.

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Movie Review: Ad Astra (2019)

Space, the final frontie- Hold on, this isn’t “Star Trek”. This is something else… so let’s talk about it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Ad Astra”.

Astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) must go on a potentially dangerous mission across the stars to try to uncover the truth behind what happened to his space-traveling father many years ago. And before you get too many assumptions, I have to tell you that this isn’t really that kind of space adventure. Don’t expect “Star Wars”. This is a slowly burning character study that will test the patience of some viewers. That’s not to say that there aren’t exciting bits in this movie, there are. But the more action-packed stuff is less of a priority here, making way for the slow burn drama. And I found it quite engaging. It’s not my favorite space drama, that crown still goes to “Moon”, but I still thought the plot of “Ad Astra” was very good.

There’s really only one character worth talking about here, and that is Roy McBride, played by Brad Pitt. He’s shut off his emotional as a response of something that happened in his past. Which makes him a very reserved individual, not letting a lot of people in. And he goes through quite an interesting arc in this movie, making him quite a nuanced character. And Pitt is fantastic in the role. Yes, it’s a very subdued performance, but you can read so much just from eyes. And there are some damn solid supporting players here too.

The score for the movie was composed by Max Richter, and my god, it was fantastic. It often has a very dreamlike quality that perfectly complements Roy’s personal solitude, in combination with the desolation that we call space. Synths, strings, some piano, these are just some of the elements that get blended quite wonderfully to create the mesmerizing score.

“Ad Astra” was written by James Gray and Ethan Gross, with Gray handling direction. Gray’s direction manages to be both sweeping and intimate, really giving us some impressive vistas in combination with the tightness to Pitt’s McBride. His direction manages to generate a decent bit of emotion, making me care. Then it also builds some pretty good suspense in parts. And let’s talk about Hoyte van Hoytema’s cinematography, which is some of the most stunning I have ever seen, taking my breath away at many points. Seriously, the craft in this movie is meticulous.

This movie just came out, so scores may change. But so far it has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 81% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 80/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10.

“Ad Astra” isn’t for everyone… but I thought it was great. It has a really good plot, a really good central character, great performances, fantastic music, and great writing/directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *AHEM*. My final score for “Ad Astra” is a 9,62/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Ad Astra” is now completed.

Ad Astra is about Brad Astra seeking his Dad Astra. The movie’s not Bad Astra, in fact it’s quite Rad Astra, which makes me very Glad Astra. 

Movie Review: Goodfellas (1990)

Yes, you got that right. I only now got to this “must watch” piece of cinema. Shut up.

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a movie… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gents… “Goodfellas”.

As far back as he could remember, Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) always wanted to be a gangster *brass music plays*. And throughout the movie we follow his rise within the mob, giving us all the ups and downs. And yes, we’ve seen this kind of shit in a bunch of movies before. But I don’t think I’ve seen it done this well before. The movie is two hours and twenty minutes long, but you never feel that runtime thanks to writing that is equal parts dramatically compelling and pure entertainment value. It crackles along at a good pace, while still presenting us with situations that last with the viewers, even after the credits have rolled. It doesn’t do the slow, methodical approach that “The Godfather” used, instead opting for a more popcorn-friendly style still rises above most basic gangster stories.

The characters in this are flawed, nuanced, colorful, entertaining, and just overall really interesting. Ray Liotta plays Henry Hill, the man at the center of the story with dreams of being the next big gangster. His journey from small time crook to where he eventually ends up is quite fascinating, and he’s one of the most compelling protagonists I’ve had the pleasure of following in anything I’ve watched recently. And Liotta is great in the role. Next we have Lorraine Bracco as Karen, Henry’s wife. Seeing her journey alongside Henry is quite interesting, especially since she becomes a bit of a conflicted character that has a really interesting rapport with Henry and his story. And Bracco is great in the role. Next we have Joe Pesci as Tommy, Henry’s friend and a fellow gangster. He’s a very short-tempered guy who makes for a lot of unpredictable scenes, which is all I’ll say about him. And Pesci is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Robert De Niro, Paul Sorvino, Frank Sivero, Tony Darrow, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

What’s interesting about the music in “Goodfellas” is that there is no typical score. No composer, no orchestra… jack shit. Instead there’s a lot of licensed music, mostly period accurate rock songs, that get used throughout to help set the mood and tell the story. And god damn it, the use of said songs here is fucking spectacular, partly because there’s a lot of music in there I genuinely like in general, but also because the director (and possibly editor) has a good fucking grasp of how to utilize a song throughout a scene.

Based on a book called “Wiseguy” by Nicholas Pileggi, the movie was co-written by Pileggi and Martin Scorsese, with Scorsese of course handling direction. And really, what else can I say that hasn’t been said before? This shit is immaculate. The blend of the writing and directing here creates a crackling energy that makes it an absolute blast to watch. Never does it feel dull. There are a few moments where it risks slipping into it, but then it picks up again, like a shot of adrenaline straight to the heart.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” ceritifcation. On Metacritic it has a score of 89/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,7/10 and is ranked #18 on the “Top 250” list. The movie won 1 Oscar in the category of Best supporting actor (Pesci). It was also nominated for an additional 5 Oscars in the categories of Best picture, Best supporting actress (Bracco), Best director, Best adapted screenplay, and Best film editing.

I don’t think I’m bringing anything new to the table when I say that “Goodfellas” is fucking rad. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Goodfellas” is a 9,88/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Goodfellas” is now completed.

I see why people like this so much.

Series Review: Line of Duty – Season 5 (2019)

During the first quarter of this year, I started getting into this show thanks to recommendations from friends (some of you might remember all the reviews I posted). And now the fifth season has come to a close, after finally premiering a few weeks ago. So let’s talk about it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Line of Duty” season 5!

After a secret police transport carrying very valuable amounts of contraband is hijacked, it is suspected that the capers had help from the inside. So it’s up to Arnott (Martin Compston), Fleming (Vicky McClure), and the rest of AC-12 to investigate this case, leading them down one of their most complicated and dangerous cases yet. So now we have our “Line of Duty” continuation. As per usual, it gives us a new situation to follow while also building on the overall mythos of the show. And like with previous seasons, this makes for some truly anxiety-inducing television that electrifies from start to finish. I’d even argue that this is the most suspenseful and unpredictable of the seasons, especially since it really starts toying with our beloved leads in ways that we haven’t really seen before. And while the show has put me on the edge of my seat before, it’s never made me feel this glued to the proceedings. So I’d argue the story/events of this season is some of the best yet.

The characters here are nuanced, flawed, unique, and just overall incredibly interesting. Martin Compston and Vicky McClure returns as Steve Arnott and Kate Fleming, our two main leads for the show, and they’re just as interesting as ever, both in investigating the case and also in some of their personal stuff. And both actors are once again great. Adrian Dunbar returns as Ted Hastings, head of AC-12, who deals with a lot more personal turmoil than usual, which really gives him a lot of new and intriguing development that we only caught glimpses of before, making him a real standout this season. And Dunbar is great in the role. New to the show this season is Stephen Graham, who plays John, the apparent leader of the gang that stole the contraband. He’s tough, ruthless, but there’s also a humanity behind his eyes that makes him a bit more compelling than your common thug. And the stuff they do with him this season is great. And Graham is fantastic in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Taj Atwal, Tomi May, Rochenda Sandall, Anna Maxwell Martin, Polly Walker, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As with previous season, the music here was composed by Carly Paradis, who absolutely outdid herself. She’s come a long way from the slightly overbearing tunes of the first season, to the stuff we got here. There are layers, to her music, and it’s often subtly helping build the emotion of the scenes, making for a really nuanced and kinda beautiful score. It’s the best music we’ve gotten out of the show.

As with the previous seasons, all episodes this season were written by series creator Jed Mercurio, and directing by John Strickland (episodes 1 – 4) and Susan Tully (episode 5 & 6). And the craft on display is as tight as one expects from “Line of Duty” at this point. This show is no stranger to suspense, but the way it managed to make me clench every part of my body this season is quite unparalleled. Even in some of the more “quiet” conversation or interrogation scenes it is some of the most electrifying direction I’ve seen in a tv show.

This show/season has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 85/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,6/10 and is ranked #137 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

I’m gonna be honest, season 5 of “Line of Duty” is my favorite season of the show so far, it’s fucking perfect. It has a fantastic plot, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic writing/directing. Time for my final score. *AHEM*. My final score for “Line of Duty” season 5 is a 10/10. So it of course gets a “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Line of Duty” season 5 is now completed.

God damn, I adore this show.

Series Review: Twin Peaks – Season 1 (1990)

Time to finally start clearing this thing from the watchlist.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Twin Peaks” season 1!

When a young woman is found murdered in the quiet mountain town of Twin Peaks, an FBI agent (Kyle MacLachlan) is called in to try to find out what happened. And as we follow Agent Cooper’s investigation, we find out about the cheating, double-crossing, and other idiosyncrasies going on in the town.  So now we have our little crime series. Now, at first it seems like a relatively average crime story, if a bit quirky. But it doesn’t take long for “Twin Peaks” to show that it doesn’t play by the book too much, blending a whole bunch of genres at once. Now, in a lot of cases (pun intended), switching between different genres like this show does can end up quite poorly. But thanks to the unique atmosphere and writing style of the show, the blend of crime, melodrama, comedy, and mild psychedelia works quite well to give us one of the most uniquely enjoyable plots in a season of television.

The characters in this are quirky, fun, colorful, nuanced, and overall quite interesting. Kyle MacLachlan plays Dale Cooper, the FBI agent brought in to help investigate the murder of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). He’s a highly skilled agent, being able to figure things out about people by simple body language. He’s also quite a charming dude, being one of the most instantly likable characters I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. And MacLachlan is great in the role. I would describe more characters, but with their unique nature, I’d rather not, as they’re all best left experienced. But the supporting cast does include people like Michael Ontkean, Mädchen Amick, Dana Ashbrook, Richard Beymer, Lara Flynn Boyle, Ray Wise, Sherilyn Fenn, Peggy Lipton, Joan Chen, Michael Horse, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the series was composed by Angelo Badalamenti, and I think he did a really good job with it. It’s moody, suspenseful, emotional, a little meldoramatic, and even at times kinda fucking groovy. Most tracks get reused quite often, which could get old after a while, but the way these tracks are implemented throughout the show makes the recycling work quite well.

“Twin Peaks” was created by Mark Frost and David Lynch, with writing and directing by them and a bunch of other cool people. And they manage to create such a unique vibe for the show through these elements. Eerie, warm, fascinating, and even mildly surreal, there’s something about the style that makes it stand out, turning it into quite the intoxicating experience.

This show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 96/100.  And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.8/10 and is ranked #54 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

Season 1 of “Twin Peaks” is pretty fucking good. It has a really good plot, great characters, great performances, really good music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *AHEM*. My final score for “Twin Peaks” season is a 9,82/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Twin Peaks” season 1 is now completed.

Agent Cooper, a man after my own heart.

Announcing The Month of Spooks 2019

Hello there, ghouls and bones, and welcome to a very special post. For years I have run this thing called The Month of Spooks, which is just a fancy way of saying “Let’s talk about horror movies throughout October, AKA the month where Halloween happens”.

The first year was some half-assed thing I came up with in the middle of the month. Then during the following three years it got more organized, gaining more collaborators, giving some more perspectives on the various corners of the world of spooks. And now it is time for the fifth iteration of this silly little thing of mine. God damn, fifth, time flies. So once again I am looking for a collaborator or two or more. Easiest way of reaching me is by contacting me on twitter, and we’ll work some stuff out. But you can also comment on this post, and I’ll fetch the email attached to it and try to then reach out to you. Officially speaking, The Month of Spooks starts on October 1st, so I thought I’d throw out this announcement today so people can get good time to consider whether they wanna participate, and maybe also give them time to figure out what they want to write about.
There’s no need to even write every day of October. Hell, I’d probably discourage you from doing it, as there’s a good chance it could burn you out, and I don’t want you to do that. I just think it could be fun to see who we could get involved.

So if you’re interested in participating, just write to me either on twitter or in the comments. And also, extra special thanks to my buddy The Craggus for those really cool graphics at the top of the post, I love them.
Have a good one.