FLIGHT’S Self Titled Album – Ferbie
Where should I begin with this group? Flight is a punishing band out of Norway that bring back the soul of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal with the feel of classic Sabbath esque breakdowns and solos and soaring vocals. They are a refreshing dose of the past with an infusion of modern ideas that is surely lacking in a lot of hard rock and metal today.
The album starts with the anthemic “Flight” which brings you back to the early days of Maiden and Priest with the dueling guitars and punishing bass. It instantly draws you in and keeps you wanting more. They keep you hooked with “As Silence Falls” as it follows the same route and gives off a more punk rock vibe than anything which is a welcome change. On “Lions Den” we’re treated to a great acoustic intro before being punished with a killer lead in the intro. The riffs on this song do not disappoint and bring back the sound of the 70’s. “Don’t Lose It” is the lone song of the album that feels almost forced. While it retains the formula of the first 3 songs it tends to drag a bit. “Nightrider” more than makes up for it though with a rockabilly inspired riff that would make Brian Setzer proud. “Memories Sharp” is a heavy take on the surf rock of the 50’s and 60’s that bring back memories of California Beaches and surfboards before crushing drums drive the tempo. The album ends as it should with “Escape” and “Devil Woman” which both produce hard hitting drums and bass with dueling guitars that compliment the vocals perfectly. Both songs reminds me of American band “The Sword” a bit with their sound.
All in all you’re looking at a band that is bringing back what Rock was meant to be. They’re unapologetically vintage in their sound and they definitely embrace that title well. We could be looking at a solid band with a sound uniquely their own for years to come.
THE STRANGER – Dan K
In this supernatural thriller, a mysterious man arrives in a small town seeking his wife, but what he finds instead soon plunges the community into a bloodbath. Be aware that THE STRANGER is a vampire film, but it is careful to avoid the word. Even though the vampire genre gets a bad reputation because of films like Twilight or shows like True Blood, the film does a great job of steering clear of audience pleasing pitfalls and focuses instead on the story. And when it comes to the traditional vampire abilities, the film portrays it as a disease instead of a superpower which provides the main character, Martin (Cristobal Tapia Montt), with a more dynamic internal and external struggle.
Although THE STRANGER is considered a horror film, it doesn’t try to provoke an audience reaction with typical horror cliches such as gratuitous gore or jump scares, and instead focuses on what is necessary to the scene. Director Guillermo Amoedo uses well-composed cinematography and editing to create a dark and unique style of filmmaking that doesn’t need a great deal of dialogue to tell the story. However, the bits of dialogue in the film are weak and blunt, and often times the characters state their emotions or backstories in ways that feel unnatural. Simultaneously, the performances from the supporting cast are stiff and often times distracting, which is understandable due to the fact that this is a low budget film and resources are limited. Given the circumstances, Amoedo did incredibly well with what he had. When it comes to films based on previously established creatures it can become difficult to create a unique and interesting concept. THE STRANGER not only proves that this can be done, but done well.
RESULTS – Alaina W and Dan K
When recently divorced stoner, Danny (Kevin Corrigan), stumbles into money and doesn’t know what to do with it, he tries his hand at self-improvement by signing up at a local gym where he meets self-styled guru/owner, Trevor (Guy Pearce), and irresistibly acerbic trainer, Kat (Cobie Smulders). Soon, their lives are inextricably knotted both professionally and personally.
RESULTS attempts to break the mold of the Romantic Comedy by defying the predictable structure of the genre. As a result, the characters’ behaviors and interactions are grounded in realism. Director Andrew Bujalski states that it’s a film “…that’s rooted in character rather than the type of caricature that has given the genre such a godawful reputation…”
Since the film is more character driven and doesn’t conform to a consistent or traditional plot structure, the pacing dragged on. Bujalski says it has a, “…who’s-the-hero-here? structure that wouldn’t pass muster with the screenwriting gurus…” And because the perspective shifts so often between characters in the film, it becomes increasingly difficult to stay invested in their individual motives, and the audience eventually loses interest in them.
Even though the plot was executed poorly, the redeeming and unique quality of the film is the character arcs. The initial goals of Danny, Kat, and Trevor don’t play out as expected, but as the film progresses, their stories shift and conclude in a way that is still satisfying.
In an attempt to make RESULTS a more marketable movie, Bujalski deviated from his norm of casting non-professional actors, “They [fresh faces] had become my comfort zone. They were also my most blindingly obvious obstacle to a wider audience,” and instead, opted for well-known actors, Pearce, Smulders, and Corrigan. Despite the fact that these actors were well-cast in their individual roles, they lacked the necessary chemistry to be believable, which made watching their interactions off-putting.
RESULTS is more of an eccentric romantic dramedy than a comedy, and is geared towards independent movie-goers. The subtle humor is enjoyable to watch and the film’s attempt to break the Rom-Com genre is refreshing.
BARELY LETHAL – Alaina W and Dan K
Barely Lethal is an action comedy about teenage special ops agent, Megan Walsh (Hailee Steinfeld), who yearns for a normal adolescence. After faking her own death, she assumes the role of an exchange student and quickly learns about the struggles of high school.
The concept behind BARELY LETHAL is clever and unique to the teen comedy genre. Producer Sukee Chew explains it best, “So many movies are about wish fulfillment. What it’s like to be a superhero, what it’s like to be a princess. This is a reverse wish fulfillment. It’s about a girl who is at the top of her field wanting to be a regular kid.”
Even though the concept is clever, the execution was subpar. The film gives off the impression that it was written by an adult attempting to relate to a teenage audience. Most of the scenes in BARELY LETHAL are cliche, as if it’s trying to mash together teen stereotypes from high school/teen movies from the past thirty years. At some points, it feels like the film is trying to break the fourth wall, however, it is unclear if that is the director’s intention or not.
Due to the lack of substantial character development in the story, the actors didn’t have much to work with, which left many of the young cast to portray shallow archetypes. It is also evident in the performances by some of the adult cast that even the veterans of the film industry didn’t take the script seriously. What makes the film more enjoyable are comedians Rachel Harris, Dan Fogler, and Rob Huebel, who bring humor that caters to the adult audience.
BARELY LETHAL gives off a fun and exciting vibe that appeals to a younger audience. If you are looking for an interesting teen comedy, then you will enjoy this film. It is a unique take on your typical high school comedy.
WINNING: THE RACING LIFE OF PAUL NEWMAN – Alaina W and Dan K
The world knows Paul Newman as an Academy Award-winning actor and philanthropist, whose company, Newman’s Own, has given more than four hundred and thirty million dollars to charities around the world. Yet few know of the gasoline-fueled passion that became so important in this man’s later life. WINNING: THE RACING LIFE OF PAUL NEWMAN chronicles his 35-year racing career as both a prolific driver and owner.
The documentary is produced and directed by Adam Carolla, who is most notably known for hosting “The Man Show.” A car enthusiast himself, he has bought and restored Newman’s old stock cars and races them today. Through the use of interviews, and stock and archival footage, Carolla creates a compelling and entertaining story that enthralls audiences. The pacing and transitions work flawlessly together to showcase Newman’s racing life; from his initial interest leading up to the legacy he left behind.
Newman first fell in love with racing at the age of forty-eight when he was cast in the film, “Winning” (1969), where he played Frank Capua, an up-and-coming racecar driver whose goal is to win the Indy 500. Newman trained for the role at the Bondurant School of High Performance Driving, and afterwards, racing became a permanent lifetime passion of his.
Being one of the top names in the entertainment industry at the time, he had to earn the respect of the racing world. He was very dedicated, and understood the skills and discipline it took to race cars. Rather than driving high-end vehicles like Ferrari or Porsche, he paid his dues and gained experience by driving Datsun (know today as Nissan).
The turning point of Newman’s racing career was in the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans, which is one of the more difficult races to compete in. His team won 1st place in their class and 2nd place overall, and due to his success, Newman finally became a widely respected driver, making Le Mans the most rewarding race of his life. Throughout his racing career, he won four national championships as a driver and eight as an owner.
This inspirational documentary goes beyond racing; not only is WINNING: THE RACING LIFE OF PAUL NEWMAN about his passion, dedication, and love for the sport, but it brilliantly showcases the multifaceted man who has touched many people’s lives. It is definitely worth seeing, even if you’re not a fan of motorsports.
SLOW WEST – Alaina W and Dan K
Slow West is a 19th century drama about a sixteen-year-old Scottish boy, Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-Mcphee), who journeys across the American Frontier in search of the woman he loves. He is joined by Silas (Michael Fassbender), a mysterious traveller, who agrees to escort him across the Colorado wilderness to find his lost love.
What was most impressive throughout the film was the stunning cinematography. Through the creative use of wide angles, Writer/Director, John Maclean, and Director of Photography, Robbie Ryan, displayed the beautiful landscapes while alluding to the Spaghetti Western genre. Maclean explains, “I was more interested in surrealism and fairy tales and putting that into a western so hopefully it avoids all the cliches of the genre.”
Overall the story was well written, however, when Jay (Smit-McPhee) and Silas (Fassbender) meet for the first time, they immediately become trusting of one another. Although this makes sense for furthering the plot, it was unrealistic. Because the story focuses more on Jay, it lacks some of Silas’ character development and backstory, which would have been nice to see more of.
Now, the acting is another high point of the film. The chemistry between Smit-McPhee and Fassbender is fun and playful, and it is interesting to see how the personalities of the two characters balance each other out. Jay is this naive teenager with romantic ideals who sees the world as a beautiful place, whereas Silas is a loner and through his past experiences has developed a sort of cynical wisdom.
With western dramas becoming increasingly less common, it’s great to see that the genre has not disappeared completely. “Slow West” is definitely worth seeing if you love creative storytelling, interesting characters, and beautiful cinematography.
IRIS – Alaina W and Dan K
IRIS is a documentary about Iris Apfel, the quick-witted and flamboyantly dressed 93-year-old style maven who has had an outsized presence on the New York fashion scene for decades. More than a fashion film, it is a story about creativity and how, even in Iris’ later years, her soaring free spirit continues to inspire others. Her enthusiasm for fashion, art, and people reminds us that individual style – and life itself – is nothing but an experiment.
Iris’ story is an important one to tell; Not only is she a fashion icon, but an entrepreneur as well. She and her husband, Carl, founded Old World Weavers in 1948, and for over four decades, spent their lives manufacturing their own unique fabrics, as well as restoring fabrics of most major museum collections including the MET and the White House.
IRIS is a funny and interesting film however, the storyline felt scattered. It’s mostly a day-in-the-life style documentary that incorporates Iris’ early career and upbringing, but it didn’t have a cohesive storyline that audiences could follow, nor was there an event to which the film was leading. It lacked the structure that we typically see in modern documentaries.
Nonetheless, Director and Cinematographer, Albert Maysles, is an incredibly talented documentary filmmaker who created this engaging story by allowing scenarios to naturally unfold before the camera, supplementing that with interviews and narration. Maysles was a pioneer of Direct Cinema and, along with his late brother, David, was the first to make non fiction feature films. Having made more than forty films, he has won numerous awards, and some of his works are the most iconic in documentary history.
IRIS is a fun and insightful documentary infused with art and history, and it is an important film to see if you are interested in fashion, textiles, and/or interior design. In addition, Iris’ kooky humor is endearing and audiences of all ages can enjoy this film.