12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Part 5)

It’s time for part 5 of this goofy series of mine. More contrivances, here we go. And today we’re actually talking about a movie from my own country for once, I know, my mind is as blown as yours.

Today’s movie is called “A Summer Tale”, directed by Ulf Malmros, and released in 2000. Set in 1958, it follows two kids (Anastasios Soulis and Rebecca Scheja) as they get sent to live with a cantankerous funeral director (Kjell Bergqvist) for the summer. So now… now… now… I hear what you’re thinking. “Markus, you dumb bastard, how the hell are you gonna get a movie with SUMMER in the title to fit within the christmas category?”. Well, my impatient friend, let me sit your ass down and tell you.

When the kids first meet this funeral director, their relationship to him is stale at best, and tense at worst. He’s not abusive and horrible towards them, but he’s not exactly someone I’d wanna send my theoretical kids to. But as one might expect from this setup, these two parties of course start to warm towards each other, all the while the funeral director tries to get a local teacher he has a crush on to go out with him. So while yes, the movie is set during the summer, it’s still all about family and finding love. You know what part of the year is often associated with family and love? Christmas. Everyone always talks about how that holiday should be spent spreading love and being with your family. And since this movie is all about that shit, you’d imagine it could fit within that.
While “A Summer Tale” isn’t one of the greatest movies ever made, I found myself surprisingly entertained by it. It’s a heartwarming little dramedy that made me really care about the characters, all of whom are very well acted by the actors involved (yes, the kids too). It’s a good flick.

Have a good one.

Series Review: The Beech Boys – Season 1 (2019)

So to get the legality out of the way, this is technically a sponsored post. The other day I was checking my phone, and I noticed I’d gotten an email from Matt Tory, the director of a movie I reviewed a while back called “We Make Movies”. And he offered me a copy of his new show, for free, in exchange for reviewing it. So here we are… thanks for the free review copy, Matt, I really appreciate it! Now that we’ve cleared the formalities, on with the review!

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Beech Boys” season 1!

Beechwood Estates, a quiet little community. This community is filled with pools. And it’s up to Trey (J.J. Carroll) and Ethan (Zach Castle) to keep them clean, for they are… The Beech Boys. So we follow them as they chat, hang around pools, and interact with the various people living in Beechwood. I enjoyed the little stories here, they were fun. They’re the kind of light entertainment one might need on a summer day. I do however have a bit of a gripe with it. The episodes are a bit on the short side. Now, briefness isn’t a problem in itself, but when your show has actual continuity and you go for that five-to-six minute runtime, it can make the pacing feel a little rushed and abrupt at times. It doesn’t ruin the entire experience for me, but an added two-to-three minutes might’ve helped some scenes breathe a bit more, making it feel less stop-start-stop-start. Overall though, the plots themselves are quite a bit of fun.

The characters in this are colorful, charming, flawed, and fun. J.J. Carroll plays Trey, the almost self-appointed head of the Beech Boys. He’s a bit of an egomaniac, but he’s given enough redeeming qualities to not just make him an annoying douchebag. That said, I wouldn’t befriend him. But he’s a fun character, and Carroll is really good in the role. Zach Castle plays Ethan, Trey’s friend and fellow Beech Boy. He’s not the brightest bulb in the house, but he’s a good dude who wants the best for the pools of Beechwood. And Castle is good in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Courtney Coker, Joshua James, Matt Tory, Becky Brown, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The music in the show was made by Flash Fluharty (great name), and it’s pretty good. At certainly does have a bit of a summer-y vibe, at times even emulating the surf rock of yesteryear. It’s enjoyable and works well enough for the show as a whole.

“The Beech Boys” was created and written by Matt Tory & J.J. Carroll, with Tory handling directing duties. And the craft here is pretty good. It’s decently shot, and the overall directing has a nice flow to it. And let’s talk about the humor, because if I don’t talk about the humor in a comedy review, then I’m gonna look like a clown. It’s pretty funny. I don’t think there was ever any gut-busting laughter for me, but there were a good amount of chuckles throughout.

“The Beech Boys” is an entertaining little series that is perfect for those dull summer nights. It has decent plots, good characters, good performances, good music, good directing, and funny comedy. However, as previously mentioned, due to the short runtime of the episodes, the pacing gets a bit weird at times. Time for my final score. *AHEM*. My final score for “The Beech Boys” season 1 is an 8,90/10. So while a little flawed, I’d say it’s still worth watching.

My review of “The Beech Boys” season 1 is now completed.

Once again, huge thanks to Matt Tory for the free copy, I really appreciate it. If any of you guys want to support this show, it will be available on Amazon Prime tomorrow, July 1st.

Summer-y Songs Part 2

Greetings, dudes and dudettes! You may be wondering what the hell this is. Well, back in 2016 I wrote a little piece on songs that give off a summer-y vibe (with the contributions of some cool people), and for a while I’ve wanted to do a part 2. So now we’re finally here. I got some of my own choices, and I’ve gathered some suggestions from some really cool people, so now we can get started. Wanna know what was on that original list? You can find out by clicking on the platypus.

PLATYPUS.

Now, for lists I usually set up some basic rules, but I feel like it isn’t needed. This is supposed to be a more relaxed post, talking about summer-y vibes. So let’s keep it cool, y’all. No bitching, please. Also, the only real rule I’ve put on myself for this is that I won’t include any of the songs from the first list. With that out of the way, let’s put on our sunglasses, pour ourselves some cold drinks, and listen to some summer-y songs!

#1: The Dickies – Waterslide.

The first song on the list is “Waterslide” by punk rock band The Dickies. This was suggested by Nick (@nuthousepunks on twitter), and as the title suggests… it’s about a waterslide. Not much else that can be said there, it’s a fun and fast-paced song about going on a waterslide, which is something a lot of people do during the summer to have fun/cool off a bit. Really, not much that can be said about it.

#2: Weezer – Feels Like Summer.

Next up we have Weezer’s “Feels Like Summer”, as suggested by Jonny (@JonnyHoppus on twitter). The title explains it perfectly… it feels like summer. To be honest, while I don’t think it’s a bad song, it’s not the Weezer I like. I prefer the more old school Weezer. Maybe it’s my rock-based bias that’s speaking here, but it feels less like Weezer and more like… I don’t know something. Still, thanks for the suggestion, Jonny!

#3: K’naan & David Bisbal – Wavin’ Flag.

Our third song was suggested by fellow blogger Elena (@ElenaM52 on twitter, Elenasquareeyes here on wordpress). Yeah, I feel it. It has that sort of vibe that you can kind of expect from radio hits in the summer. It also helps that it has a Spanish singer in the form of David Bisbal, because that language always sounds hot and steamy… I mean summer-y. I remember hearing this on radio a few years back and actually kind of enjoying it (though it had no Spanish in that version, I think). so it’s another good pick for this list.

#4: Greta Van Fleet – Highway Tune.

Hey, we’re finally at one of my picks! So here we have “Highway Tune” by American rock band Greta Van Fleet. This song has blown up since it was released last year, and for good reason. People have called these guys a younger version of Led Zeppelin, and I kind of agree. And don’t just take my word for it, Robert Plant himself have given these guys a thumbs up. Anyway, why did I pick this song for the list? Well, I felt like this list needed a bit more rock in it. Also, I imagine driving down a road on a hot summer day in this, just for fun, with your friends. Hell yeah.

#5: The Undertones – Here Comes The Summer.

This is the second song to be suggested by Nick, and again… kind of self-explanatory. It’s in the title. “Here Comes The Summer”. And it has a fun style that I could imagine being used in a summer activities montage in a movie, or at a party during the summer. Really, this just explains itself. Thanks, Nick!

#6: Toploader – Dancing in the Moonlight.

The second song from the lovely Elena, and I do kind of get where she’s coming from with this… I think, she didn’t give a full explanation for why this was a specific choice. But if I get to throw my own thoughts into it, I feel like this song has a very chill vibe that could work well for summer nights, or if you’re just chilling by the pool. Overall, it has a cool vibe that definitely could work for a summer-y playlist.

#7: Santana – Oye Como Va.

The second pick from yours truly. And if you checked out the old list, you would know that I already included some Santana in that one. And I guess sometimes you have to have some returning players. And I am happy to once again include Carlos and friends in a list of mine. Last time it was the sexy “Smooth”, and this time it’s about the cool “Oye Como Va”. Once again playing into the Spanish/Latino stylings that I previously mentioned, this song I imagine when I see people in a town, sitting outside, whether just gathering some sun, or having a drink at the local café. Just a cool song for the summer.

#8: Walk The Moon – Shut Up and Dance.

The third song suggested by Elena (she gave me a handful of tracks, which is why she pops up so much here). And this is another good one. Like with “Wavin’ Flag”, it’s one of those tracks one can imagine being released during the summer, it just has that fun, relatively carefree style that fits that season. It’s a fun party track that I do enjoy listening to.

#9: David Bisbal – Ave Maria.

Hey, look who makes his second appearance in this list. First it was in one of Elena’s choices, and now in one of mine. That’s right, I chose the bouncy, Spanish pop song, going against what people usually assume my music taste is. But I can’t help it, this song is just so much fun, there’s just a  joyous energy to it that makes it so god damn infectious. And again, sexy Spanish singing.

#10: Pitbull feat Ke$ha – Timber.

The final tracks suggested by Elena, here we have the biggest hit to come from the rapper known as Pitbull. And like previous tracks, I could definitely imagine this playing at a party during the summer. It just has a fun bounciness to it that I think will get people moving on the dancefloor. The harmonica is also a nice touch. Thank you for these suggestions, Elena!

#11: Joe Satriani – Summer Song.

From here on out, it’s all my choices. And to kick this final bunch off, we have another one that just has it’s explanation in the title. It’s called “Summer Song”… I don’t need to say more. You know, other than JOE SATRIANI IS AMAZING… Good guitar playing tends to win me over.

#12: Ricky Martin – Livin La Vida Loca.

That’s right, more Latino vibes comin’ at ya! Not my fault that songs with Latino stylings fit the summer so well. But what else can I say? You’ve heard this song, your dead great-great-grandmother has heard this song, everyone’s heard this song. It’s one of those that has stuck with me for almost my entire life, and I still love it. It’s slick, sexy, and just cool.

#13: Christian Kane – Fast Car.

Here we have “Fast Car”, originally recorded by Tracy Chapman, covered here by actor/musician Christian Kane. While Chapman’s relatively minimalist style works incredibly well for the song, I still kind of prefer Kane’s version. The added instruments, combined with Kane’s voice makes for a damn fine little country-ballad. This is also kind of the antithesis of “Highway Tune”. While that song could fit for fast and fun driving at higher speeds, “Fast Car” (despite the title) feels more like a song meant for slow cruising along a country road.

#14: Brad Paisley – River Bank.

The original list ended with a Brad Paisley tune, so why not let this one do the same? Last time we ended with “Water”, a song about how the titular element could be used for fun during summertime. Today we wrap things up with “River Bank” , a song about going to the river and just havin’ a grand ol’ time, y’all. I’ve made it clear on a couple of occasions here that I love Brad Paisley, so I’ll take any chance of including his music on a list.

So that was Summer-y Songs Part 2! Once again, big thanks to Nick, Jonny, and Elena (twitter profiles linked throughout the post if you wanna follow them) for providing some suggestions for the list, I really appreciate your participation! But I also wanna hear from you, the reader. What’s a song that gives you a summer-y vibe? Leave any suggestions like that in the comments!
Have a good one!

Movie Review: We Make Movies (2016)

Full disclosure: The people who made this film offered me a free copy of it in exchange for me reviewing it. And since I’m a greedy sucker that doesn’t say no to a free movie, accepted. I just wanted to let you know that. I’m not letting the kindness/generosity of the filmmakers cloud my judgment of the film, but I still felt like it would be best for you to know about this sponsorship (for lack of a better word). Alright, let’s review this thing.

Ladies and gentlemen… “We Make Movies”.

Stevphen (Matt Tory) is a young, ambitious, and kind of arrogant filmmaker who wants to make a movie that he can show at the local film festival. So he gathers a bunch of friends to make this “masterpiece”. And we then follow them through the ups and downs of this process. And this plot was handled quite well. I found it quite fun to follow these people go through all the steps of making an ambitious movie on a ham sandwich budget, with all the problems that comes with it. It’s quite entertaining following the “behind the scenes” antics of this crew. It even manages to be a bit inspiring with how they never give up despite clearly running into more problems than Wile E. Coyote. The plot here is simple, but good.

The characters here are all distinct, interesting, and quite entertaining. Matt Tory plays Stevphen (no, I didn’t have a stroke, that’s how it’s spelled), the determined yet arrogant and selfish director of this “masterpiece”. He’s a fun character even if he is a bit of a dick. And Tory is good in the role. Jordan Hopewell plays Donny, Stevphen’s nerdy friend that is helping him out on this movie, and while he is portrayed as the typical nerd character, they don’t overdo it and he never feels annoying… as a matter of fact, he’s quite fun. And Hopewell is good in the role. Jonathan Holmes plays Garth, another friend of Stevphen’s, a slightly more serious and logical man. And Holmes is good in the role. Zack Slort plays Leonard, a “method actor” that the crew brings in to play the main role in their film. He’s kind of pretentious, but that’s what makes him fun. And Slort is good in the role. Anne Crockett plays Jessica, a young woman that joins the production to be their film’s female lead. And Crockett is good in the role. We also have Matt Silver as Curtis, a dude that shows up every now and then throughout the movie. he’s very chill and Stevphen just doesn’t like him. And Silver is good in the role. Really, all actors in the movie do well for themselves.

When it comes to the music in the movie, there is no real original score, but they instead used music from various artists throughout. But there’s not too much music in the movie, it’s used pretty sparingly. And that is fine, too much music might not have worked with the movie’s overall style. But when music was used it was used well.

The movie was written and directed by the star, Matt Tory. And I think he did a really good job here. The movie is shot documentary style, with fake interviews and everything. I think this style really helps the movie out as a “normal” directing style wouldn’t have worked that well with the story they wanted to tell. And since this is a comedy we should talk about the jokes… and they’re funny. And while I admittedly never had a laugh out loud moment at any point, I still found myself laughing at most of the jokes. And the ones that didn’t get a laugh at least got a smile out of me. The humor (to me at least) was never boring or cringey, it was genuinely funny. It’s also a sense of humor that actually gets elevated by the mockumentary style.

This movie barely exists on the sites I usually refer to in this little “critical reception” section. At least it exists on imdb.com where it (as of writing this) has a score of 8,3/10.

“We Make Movies” is a fun little indie comedy that I really enjoyed. It has a good plot, good characters, good performances, good music, good directing, and really good comedy. Time for my final score. *ACTION!*. My final score for “We Make Movies” is a 9,57/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “We Make Movies” is now completed.

Once again, huge thanks to the filmmakers for giving me a free copy of the movie! Really appreciate it! Now, if any of you reading this wants to check it out, you can find it on Amazon.

Summer-y Songs

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Summer, the time of year that tons of people go outside because it’s sunny and warm. Some go traveling, some stay at home. All they want is for it all to be warm and sunny. You know… so they can get a tan even though that might be a bad idea because reasons. Anyway, as you might have understood from my (not so) subtle text, I am not the biggest fan of the season. But that hasn’t stopped me from having the thought “Hmm, what songs are the most summer-y”. And what I mean by that, I of course talk about which songs make me think of summertime… or at least which songs are blatantly about summer. Here’s the thing too, I actually started preparing for this list quite some time ago… yeah, beginning of June is when I started this with a post on twitter regarding it. I also got a suggestion here on wordpress for a song on the list. So this list will have a mix of songs hand-picked by yours truly, and also some songs picked by some cool people here on the internet (all of whom will be credited). So let’s get into some basic rules for the list and the readers.

Rule #1: Since it’s been some time since my last list, I will remind you all that bitching is not allowed. If you see a song you dislike on here, you can’t be a little bitch about it.

Rule #2: This is not a “ranked” list of any kind. These are just some songs that make me and some other people think of summer. It’s just a list of some songs. Though it will look ranked because I like that “countdown” style on lists.

Rule #3: I will not include Mungo Jerry’s “In the Summertime” on here, because it’s a bit too obvious. Yes, it’s a really good song… but it’s not on the list.

Rule #4: There is no real fourth rule here… Let’s move on!

So here we go. These are seven songs that make me (and some other folks) think of the summer!

#7: Supergrass – Alright.

So our first song comes to us from my buddy Vinnieh . He decided to choose this 1995 pop-rock song from the British band Supergrass. And yes, this definitely gives off a very summer-y feel. I mean, there’s beaches and fun and people being young, seeing their friends, and just living life. Thanks for this suggestion, man… certainly a good pick.

#6: Jason Mraz – I’m Yours

This song is a pick by yours truly. Ever since I first heard it on the radio in like 2009 or 2010, I’ve enjoyed it a lot. My mom and I have actually talked a bit about how it does feel like a very summer-y song. Just close your eyes and imagine sitting on a lawn chair, with a cold drink in your hand, just chilling… all while this song is playing. That is the feel it gives off for me… a chill summer evening.

#5: The Strokes – You Only Live Once.

So at this spot we have a song that was chosen by the lovely Elly on twitter. I do not entirely get how she gets a summer-y vibe from this song, but that’s okay. This is a song picked by Elly, and I like her, so therefore it would go on the list. Thank you, Elly, for your contribution to this list.

#4: Jim Wolfe and Charles Brotman – Ukulele Girl

So here’s another one of my picks. As you may have noticed, I am going back and forth between my picks and the  guest picks. Anyway, this song is one I heard under interesting circumstances. I was playing the video game “Far Cry 3” (one of my favorites) and in the game I got in a car and this started playing on said car’s radio. And since then I’ve enjoyed it a lot. It’s a very laid back and chill song that fits perfectly when you wanna run over modern day pirates in brutal and hilarious fashion. Ahhhh, the sweet smell of murder.

#3: Squeeze – This Summer.

Time for the next guest pick, and this time it comes from the Lazarus Pit Pod account. Not sure who exactly of the two guys recommended this song (probably Nate), but I am glad it came along. It’s a fun and delightful little piece of Brit-pop from the 90’s. And honestly… I really like it. It’s a fun song that is about summer and love and it’s just perfectly summer-y. Thanks whoever it was from the pod that recommended this, glad to have it on board for the list.

#2: Santana feat. Rob Thomas – Smooth

This is another pick from me, and it’s one I actually made a separate post for quite some time ago. This was early on in the process of preparing this list. The reasons I picked this song for the list is because of it’s hot latino vibes and smooth (pun intended) lyrics. It’s an awesome song with some really good singing from Rob Thomas and some fucking fantastic guitar playing from Carlos Santana. For me it is a perfect summer-y song.

#1: Brad Paisley – Water.

And the final pick for this list is another one from yours truly. That’s right kiddos, I am selfish enough to make the “top 2” picks my own. But to be fair, I never got enough suggestions for this list to do it any other way. Anyway, what is this thing I picked? Well, it is a song from country musician Brad Paisley, who I have said before is my favorite country musician. And this is his song about water and how much fun can be had with it. Just listening to the lyrics makes me go “Yup, he’s definitely singing about summertime”. And if you ask me, it’s probably my favorite song about summer. That’s kind of why I saved it for last. It’s a song I can’t help but sing along to when I listen to it. It’s also just fun and cool and definitely something I’d play at a pool party (if I had one, that is). But I really do feel the summer vibe in this song and I simply love that feeling. I feel happy and smile when I hear this song. It’s a great one.

So those were the picks from me and those other people (a huge thank you to them!) So I ask you, the readers who weren’t involved with this… what are some songs that make you think of summer? Leave any and all answers in the comments!
Have a good one.

Great Music #15

Hello there, my friends. With summer being right upon us I decided that I wanted to kind of compile a list of songs that make me think of summer or feel all summer-y on the inside. Sure, some songs might be straight up about summer, but not all of them will be. So before I tell you why I like this song, I want to involve you somehow in all of this. Leave the title and artist/band for any song that make you feel like summer in the comments and then maybe it’ll be featured in the future list… Now onto this tune!

So in my journey through the world of music, I have noticed that the best place to look for summer-y songs is country… as in the genre, not like… “Donkey Kong Country”. Anyway, the song (which is country-based) I am sharing with you today is “Water” by Brad Paisley, my personal favorite country musician. First off, this song is about water, one of the most pivotal elements of summer. Also, if you listen to the lyrics then you will be able to tell that the songs is pretty much about summer. Why do I love it? Well, first off we have the previously mentioned Mr. Paisley. Secondly, it’s just a fun and delightful songs which gives off a feel of summer. I can really see myself sitting outside, with a cold drink, listening to this. So yeah… it’s pretty great.
Enjoy!

Great Music #13

Hola, amigos y amigas. ¿Cómo están ustedes? Okay, enough of el idioma paella, time to talk like most people do. I know it seems a bit weird that I would start out this post with a bit of Spanish but trust me, it will make sense in a second. Let’s get into it.

With the weather where I live having been very sunny and very warm the past couple of days it made me think of music I like that work for hot weather/summer. Songs that I can listen to while sitting in the sun, sipping on a cold drink. And then my mind immediately went to one of my favorite songs ever. It’s the song “Smooth” by Santana (now the Spanish will make sense) and Rob Thomas. Why I love it so much is not only because it’s a well made song with good transitions and good lyrics, but I just love the feel of it. The smooth (pun intended), latino, summer-y sound that it produces is just perfect for this type of weather. Also, the guitar playing by Carlos Santana is simply amazing. I love it, it’s amazing… listen to it and imagine yourself being out in the sunny weather, relaxing, having this playing… ain’t it a great image?
Enjoy!