Great Music #36

Hello friends, I hope you’re doing well. Yes, it’s finally time for another entry in Great Music, the series on this blog with the most self-explanatory title possible. It’s been a while since last time, which was back in May. If I continue the series at this exact rate I’ll reach the fiftieth one by the time I turn 30. Anyhow, let’s see what tune I wanna ramble about today!

So for this one I wanted to bring things down a bit. Some entries in this series have had big, loud, fun tunes that you could probably move your booty to. But today is not one of those. Today we’re getting a bit more somber. Today we’re talking about “Too Many Tears” by Celldweller.

The lyrics of this song are very contemplative, using a lot of strong imagery in its lyrics to convey agony in various forms. It’s strong stuff… it was also not written by Celldweller (real name: Klayton). It’s originally a song by a band called… The Call. And before you ask, yes I did check out their original version. The lyrics are of course powerful, absolutely stunning. However, I feel like the sound might be a little bit off for it, and so did Klaytondweller apparently. And this led to him covering the song for his 2017 album “Offworld”. And I absolutely love this rendition of the song. The instrumentation is incredibly somber and otherworldly (fitting, given the album title), really making this version its own thing compared to the original. Klayton makes it stand out. This is also where I should mention that I found out about this very t2alented man through a fucking racing game. Two of his songs (“One Good Reason” and “Shapeshifter”) were featured in the video game “Need For Speed: Most Wanted”. And I liked those songs which led to me checking out more of Celldweller’s stuff, which naturally led me to this absolutely stunning track. If you in any way enjoy heavy metal or nu-metal or some electronica, I highly recommend checking out a lot of Celldweller’s output. So while we’re at it, you may as well start with “Too Many Tears”.

Have a good one and enjoy.

Great Music #35

Hey there friends. Time for another edition of my Great Music series. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, then the title should be enough explanation. It’s just me talking about songs I like… simple as that.

So last time we talked about Iron Maiden contemplating the fleeting nature of time, which can be a heavy subject, but the band performed it in such a fun way that it becomes easily digestible. So today, how about we delve into a pit of sadness? Today we talk about the somber, contemplative song “Brother”, composed and performed by Shawn James.

According to Shawn James’ twitter (and a thorough, attentive listening of the lyrics), the song is about loss and suicide and other such heavy themes. It’s quite a sad little poem told to us in this song. This is actually the second Shawn James song we’ve tackled in this series, with the first being “Through the Valley”, which I wrote about in 2017. I only mention this because there’s quite a stark difference between what the themes of the songs are, and also the approach to its tonality. Either way, “Brother” makes me a bit sad, but it’s still a brilliant song. Heartbreaking and beautiful in equal measure, brought to life by James’ wonderful voice.

Have a good one and enjoy.

Great Music #30

Hello and welcome back to Great Music, the thing where I talk about music I like. And we’ve now reached the 30th one of these. And it only took us… three and a half years, hot damn. Not saying that number 30 in itself is an important milestone, just wanted to point out that I am slow when it comes to these things. Anyway, let’s get into it.

So what song do I wanna talk about today? And one rock track? Something from a movie? Nope. Today I wanna talk about something that was composed for a video game. Now, I am sure some of my followers here don’t really care about video games that much, and that is fine. But I just wanna take a second to talk about my favorite song that was made for one of my favorite games. Today we are talking about “Tears” from Max Payne 3.
In the third Max Payne game, our endearingly moody Max (voiced by James McCaffrey) is at the lowest point he’s ever been, but he get a new chance at life when he gets hired by a Brazilian businessman to be the bodyguard of his family. Max’s journey will lead him through hell and back, from the alleys of New Jersey to the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Near the end of the game, Max has tracked down the person responsible for so much of the trouble he’s gone through, which has led him to a Brazilian airport. Max finds himself in the airport lobby, heavily armed bad guys all around. While giving up would be easy, Max knows he has to give it one more push if he wants to stop the big bad guy. Max sprints out of cover and the music starts blasting. The score for the game was composed by American noise rock band HEALTH (yes, the capitalization is part of the band’s name), who created a score that evokes the dark moodiness of the series while also adding their own flavor to it. And “Tears” is their masterpiece (for me at least) in that regard. A heavy track with a driving beat, perfectly suited for the “one more push” feel of the scene it plays in. But it also has lyrics that are a direct reference to the character himself. Many have interpreted it as Max’s long dead wife and daughter telling him to finally let them go and find his own path. And looking at the lyrics, that seems very likely. So long, Max has been stuck in the guilt of losing his family at the start of the first game, and finally it seems like he’s able to move on. It’s beautiful, poetic even. And when encased within the heavy and driving noise rock beat, it creates a unique musical feel and makes for one of the most memorable parts in any game I’ve ever played.  And even discounting the game for a second, I just love the song. It is very clearly not for everyone, but I absolutely adore it and wanted to talk about it today.

Have a good one and enjoy.

Movie Review: The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018)

Can people just stop being cockwaffles? Not saying that you reading this specifically are one, but this movie did remind me that true cockwaffles exist, and I don’t like that.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Miseducation of Cameron Post”.

When she is caught getting intimate with another girl, high school student Cameron (Chloë Grace Moretz) gets sent to a gay conversion therapy center to “get fixed”. So then we follow her as she tries to get through each day while also befriending some of the other youths who live at the center. And I kinda loved the plot here. It’s a nuanced and well written story of someone coming to terms with who she is while others try to change her because she’s different. But what really surprised me about the plot here is just how restrained it ends up being. It doesn’t show the center as this hellhole like some other pieces of media might. It’s shown in a way that takes a stance, while not portraying any of the people working there as absolute monsters. It kinda makes it feels a bit more realistic and nuanced in a way. And it really helped in making this quite an engaging plot.

The characters in this are layered, flawed, interesting, and fairly realistic. Chloë Grace Moretz plays Cameron, the titular girl who gets sent to this center. And what I like about her performance is that she is kind of conflicted in the movie. She does believe that she did nothing wrong, but the councilors at the center also do kind of get a bit to her, making her question herself a bit, and it makes for some interesting character development. And Moretz is great in the role. Next we have Sasha Lane as Jane, another girl at the center that Cameron starts to befriend. She’s more of the rebellious type who bides her time at the center, but secretly smokes pot and is very much against the center. And she’s quite an interesting part of the cast for some of that. And Lane is great in the role. Next we have John Gallagher Jr. as Rick, one of the councilors at the center trying to convert these kids. And like I said in the plot section, he’s not exactly portrayed as evil, per se. Yes, the whole gay conversion thing is fucking dumb, but he’s portrayed more as this kind-hearted and charming guy who just wants what’s best for these kids, and he’s just an interesting contrast to the many “BEING GAY IS NOT GOOD!” characters we’ve seen over the years. And Gallagher is great in the role. We also get supporting performances from people like Dalton Harrod, Emily Skeggs, Quinn Shepherd, Forrest Goodluck, Marin Ireland, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Julian Wass, and I thought it was pretty great. It uses a fair bit of synth, but does also dip in with the occasional stringed instrument. It has a way of sounding dreamlike while also kind of real and grounded. I don’t know how to fully explain it really, it just works incredibly well for the movie. There are also a few licensed tracks used throughout the movie, and they work well in their respective scenes.

Based on a novel by Emily M. Danforth, the movie was writen by Desiree Akhavan & Cecilia Frugiuele. And it was also directed by Akhavan, who I think did a great job with it. From a visual standpoint the movie is fairly standard, but the control that Akhavan has over each scene, guiding us through every moment with a very confident yet delicate hand.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 69/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,7/10.

“The Miseducation of Cameron Post” deals with a lot of sensitive themes, and handles them beautifully. It has a great plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and really good directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” is a 9,71/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” is now completed.

Just to remind y’all… don’t be a homophobic cockwaffle.

Movie Review: Fruitvale Station (2013)

I don’t have anything witty to put here. This movie broke me. Ummm… “Black Panther” out this Wednesday (or Friday), I guess.

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 gentlemen… “Fruitvale Station”.

New Year’s Eve 2008. We follow Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan) as he goes about his daily business, running into friends, family, and strangers along the way. And really it’s just a sort of look into the life of this young man. And it’s an incredibly interesting and highly affecting story we’re dealing with here. Very early on I found myself sucked into the story, but not because some grandiose event, but rather because of the realistic human drama that this movie portrays. There’s a lot of care given to how this plot is handled. Instead of it feelings like a very typical drama it feels more real, like you’re a fly on the wall in this man’s life. And I found myself truly invested in this plot. It’s engaging, interesting, and at times devastating.

The characters here are all fleshed out, interesting, and fairly realistic. Michael B. Jordan plays Oscar Grant, the young man at the center of this story. He is a person who has done some criminal things in his past, but he’s trying to put that stuff behind him. He’s generally a good guy who has taken some bad turns in his life, and he’s overall a very compelling character. And Michael B. Jordan is fantastic in the role. Then we have Melonie Diaz as Sophina, Oscar’s girlfriend. You can tell that she’s a bit annoyed by some of the things from Oscar’s past, but she still loves him and wants what’s best for him. She’s overall an interesting character. And Diaz is great in the role. Then we have Octavia Spencer as Oscar’s mom Wanda. She gets some powerful scenes in this and is pretty serious and worried about her son, but she does love him and she wants him to be a good person. And Spencer is of course fantastic in the role. Then we get to see people like Ahna O’Reilly, Ariana Neal, Trestin George, Kevin Durand, and many more in various supporting roles, all giving really solid performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Ludwig Göransson and I think he did a really good job with it. What’s interesting is that it isn’t very intrusive, staying more in the background almost more as ambient noise rather than a blaring score. But it also doesn’t disappear, as it’s still heard and often helps add some extra emotion to various scenes. There’s also a couple of licensed tracks used throughout and they work pretty well in their scenes.

This movie was written and directed by Ryan Coogler (which is why I alluded to the “Black Panther” release at the start), and he did a really good job with it. Remember the part where I said this felt more like a fly on the wall type of story rather than your typical Hollywood story? Yeah, the directing and camera work kind of adds to that argument. The camera work here is handheld and a little shaky, making it feel a bit like a documentary at times. It also adds a sense of realism to it (hence, fly on the wall) that made me feel even more invested in it all. There’s also a part in the movie where it manages to build a lot of tension in a way that got me even more engaged. No shootout. No car chase. Just pure dramatic tension created by the direction. It’s great.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 94% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 85/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

“Fruitvale Station” is a stunning portrait of a very important day in this young man’s life. It has a great plot, really good characters, fantastic performances, great music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Fruitvale Station” is a 9,86/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Fruitvale Station” is now completed.

That’s one hell of a directorial debut.

My Favorite Scenes: The Nightmare Before Christmas – This is Halloween

Hello and welcome to the revival of this long-dead series. Seriously, I haven’t done a post for this little series of mine since mid-July. Feels both great and weird to be back at it. Quick summary for any newer followers: In this series I share scenes from movies and TV shows that I like and tell you kind of why I like the scene. There, you’re caught up to speed, especially since the title is pretty self-explanatory. Now, let’s do it.

So since it’s the Month of Spooks it would be appropriate to share a scene that relates to the spookier side of cinema. Inspiration to make this specific post: I saw a post on facebook relating to this movie, which led to me wanting to watch this scene, which led to me thinking “Shit… I should make a post about this!”. And now we’re here! This is of course the ever so popular “This is Halloween” from Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas”. Now to be fair, I have mentioned at least once or twice on this blog (and on various social medias) that I consider this a christmas movie. If you want to consider it a Halloween movie, go right ahead, you are absolutely right to do so. But I watch every year around christmas, December 21st every year to be exact. So why would I share a scene from this movie then? Does the title “This is Halloween” ring any bells? Yeah, that’s why. This entire scene, which is more or less the opening scene for the movie, just oozes Halloween spirit and perfectly fits this Month… because spooky shit is going on. What also makes it great is the fantastic stop motion animation from Henry Selick and his crew, 23 years later and it still looks terrific. And of course the masterfully composed/written song by Danny Elfman is not to forget. Combining these things makes for one of the greatest opening scenes in movie history (in my opinion). This of course also leads to one of my favorite Disney films ever. And before I wrap this post up, I have to warn you… if you ever somehow watch this movie together with me, get ready for me singing along to pretty much every song (Sidenote: I am not a good singer at all). Yeah… I fucking love this scene.

Have a good one and enjoy!

Great Music #9

Hello, my friends. Sorry for not posting so much this past week, been havin’ a bad case of the flu. But I can finally bring you a small post here. And by small I mean I will just shortly present a song I’ve been listening to recently.

This time there is a little variation in what I am sharing with you. In what way is this variation? Well, for once I am not sharing a rock song. Instead I am sharing a piece of folk music. It is a song called “Five Hundred Miles” and it’s sung by Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan and Stark Sands. If you recently read my review of “Inside Llewyn Davis” you would know that all of those people were in the movie. And this is indeed a song from the soundtrack of the movie as performed by these awesome people. This song is in my opinion beautiful and just overall great and that’s why I am sharing it.
Enjoy!

12 Songs of Christmas (Part 1)

Hello there, my friends. I hope you are all doing well. Today I wanted to a little something different with this whole music sharing thing. Since the holiday known as christmas is almost upon us I felt like I should do a little something special with it. From the old song “The 12 Days of Christmas” I have (sort of) based this thing. For 12 days straight I will share christmas music. So to be more clear, between the 13th (today) to the 24th I will share one christmas song for each day. “But Markus, why is the 24th the last day?”. It’s the final one because it is the day we here in Sweden celebrate christmas. So that is why the final one will be shared on that date. There, sloppy intro done, let’s introduce the song.

For our first outing I felt that since I started this thing late evening, I felt it was only appropriate to start with the song “Silent Night”. To be precise, I will be sharing “Silent Night” as performed by Brad Paisley, whom I consider my favorite country musician. Overall he generally makes some (in my opinion) great music, and his rendition of “Silent Night” is no different. It is relaxing, it is beautiful and it is just calm without becoming slow and boring. This is most definitely one of my favorite versions of any christmas song ever and should therefore be included on this little countdown to christmas as ýou could call it.
Enjoy!

My Favorite Scenes: Blade Runner – Tears in Rain Monologue

Hey guys, it’s me. And it’s time for me to share one of my favorite scenes. And this time it is for the sci-fi classic “Blade Runner”. In other words, spoilers for the movie “Blade Runner” and if you haven’t seen it already I suggest you go and see it (Final Cut version is the best) and then come back. We good? Great!

So this scene is pretty much at the end of the movie. Not the final scene like the video title says because there is still a little bit left after this scene, but it’s still late in the movie. And to be honest, I could include the circa 10 minutes leading up to it as well seeing as it is in my opinion one of the most suspenseful scenes of all time where we see our hero, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) getting chased by renegade Replicant, Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) through an old building. But since I didn’t feel like looking for that part to include in video form, I will settle for this part… which is still worth talking about.
This movie is 33 years old and this scene still holds up magnificently both in directing and visual effects. After the chase has ended, Batty saves Deckard from falling to his death and then he starts monologuing. Usually monologuing from the movie’s main antagonist is jsut a cheap way for a deus-ex-machina to happen, but here it works. It is a beautiful monologue that gives a lot mroe meaning to everything in the movie and it is elevated by Rutger Hauer’s fantastic performance and the beautiful score by Vangelis. The scene has a lot of emotion and it is overall just fantastic, definitely one of the best I have ever seen.
Enjoy!

Great Music #6

Good afternoon, everyone. Once again I just wanted to share a song I’ve been listening to a little bit lately. And this song I am kind of doing both because I enjoy sharing stuff I like with you and because tomorrow it is December. Where did all the time go? So therefore we will mellow down a bit and just with a slow and relaxing tune. So for this time we are sharing the slow and beautiful song “Pale Blue Eyes” by Velvet Underground. So please just put the song on, relax and let yourself float away into the slow and soft melody.
Enjoy.