The Monthenorium - Official repository of all things Monthenor Redundant Site

19Jun2013 0830: The Man of Spiel

Apparently there is something wrong with me. I saw Man of Steel last weekend, as I imagine most of you did, and it just...didn't work? I don't know. That's the second movie this year that should have blown my hair back and didn't. I can't even get mad; it's like I'm on the outside, looking in through a window at a good movie, but man I just can't see it clearly.

Star Trek's problem was explicitly the JJ shakycam used during dramatic monologues, with no action or even movement by the actors involved. That was too much director during a critical moment, and it murdered the momentum for me. Man of Steel has a different problem. I was on board for 100% of the action, I didn't hate the flashback mechanism to explore Kal-El's past, I thought the Krypton sequence was fine. Amy Adams was good, as always, but she didn't quite give off a "crack reporter" vibe. The main problem was that it had just a few too many epically stupid lines sprinkled throughout. Clunky clunkers appeared every ten minutes or so, ripping me out of the film.

The plot itself was a pretty good dilemma for Superman, a choice between his race and his home, but the script only communicated about 80% of that intent. Or rather, it communicated 110% of that intent by having characters baldly state the dilemma and the feelings they are having about it. Somebody should remind David Goyer that movies aren't projected on the ceiling. It's hard to watch them when you're rolling your eyes.

Which leaves me in the incredible position of disliking both Star Trek and Superman while fawning over Fast and Furious. Up is down, dogs and cats. Maybe I just expect dumb movies to go real dumb, while movies that are only occasionally dumb feel bad. Maybe FnF just has its action formula honed to a brain-savaging edge, covering up plot leaps with impeccably-paced car-fu.

Maybe those other movies need more time travel.

[Kitten - G#] is dirge rock fronted by Tiffany. It sounds much like Ladyhawke decided to get a little grungy. You won't get out of your seat and dance around, but it ain't bad.

[Night Beds - Ramona] are doing their best Simon and Garfunkel impression. Otherwise it's a fairly standard indie rock love song, more wheedling than wooing. And man, there is another indie band that they sound like more than S&G, but damn if I can remember it right now.

[Splashh - Headspins] is pretty close to 12 Rods or Weezer territory. Mellow garage rock with a lead singer singing through a length of metal pipe. It's not the worst vocal effect, but if the entire album sounded like this I'd throw it out the window.

Just kidding. Nobody buys physical albums any more.

12Jun2013 0910: Cars Go Fast

Fast and Furious 6 is a goddamned bonafide masterpiece. I am endlessly fascinated that the power duo of director Justin Lin and writer Chris Morgan came in for FnF3 and put together this epic series-spanning tale on a foundation of, let's face it, hot garbage.

How did they do it? How do they keep doing it? Taking a classic movie and adding car races. FnF3 was almost literally The Karate Kid + cars. FnF4 was a Mexican cartel movie, (wait for it) Traffic + cars (nailed it). FnF5 was Ocean's Eleven + cars. FnF6 is like a finely-crafted kung fu movie. Plus cars. The goodguy dojo of superhero car racers go up against the evil dojo of superhero car racers, and everybody's car-fu is tested. The evil dojo has perfected the foreign style of F1, Vin Diesel is the grandmaster of American Muscle style, The Rock is the non-kung-fu boxer character trying to keep pace with the superior Chinese fighting masters, etc.

And it absolutely does not hurt that basically the entire series has been playing with the timeline, setting 4+5+6 before part 3 takes place and winking and nudging about it the whole time. Not quite time travel but good enough! And Gord help me but the post-credits tease for FnF7 made me want to leap for joy. We're finally back up to Tokyo Drift in the timeline but that's not even the spoiler.

[Chateau Marmont - Wargames (Money Mark Remix)] has a smoky synth mystery vibe, a Phil Collins tune tracking Blade Runner. Not sure what Money Mark brought to the table but...oh damn. Sorry, I just listened to that Youtube link. That is NOT the Money Mark Remix and it is a frantic high-tempo beepbooper. You should probably go get the Remix; it's half the tempo and five times the...goodness? Quality. Knew there was a word for that.

I've heard that Fitz & the Tantrums don't do Motown any more? Don't know why they'd trash that awesome style they had on their first album, but [Fitz & the Tantrums - Out of My League] is yet another song in the 80s revival we seem to be soaking in. It's well-made for all that, but there's nothing here to get excited about.

[Imaginary Cities - Bells of Cologne] reads like a couple of Doctor Who episode titles smashed together and sounds like Camera Obscura decided to just throw down and rock out for once. They get halfway there; they put together a chorus of kids for the refrain, they plug in their guitars, but they forget to jump around on stage.

05Jun2013 1000: What Does a Superhero Need With a Car?

Okay Internet, jeez, I'll go see Fast and Furious 6. As I said last year, this movie series has turned into everything that The Expendables was supposed to be and I am so down with that. They're also persisting in building "The Furyverse", wedging more and more movies into a timeline that takes place between FnFs 2 and 3. I find the whole concept hilarious. The cast and craft being poured into what was originally the dumbest of dumb car movies is astounding. My vague memories of the deep vehicular mythos are finally being rewarded with a movie that is legitimately good for the action genre as a whole.

The last straw was the latest episode of How Did This Get Made? I listened to the first ten minutes and then fled from the spoilers, but that was long enough to hear the badguys described as "the mirror universe FnF crew". Mirror universe? I'm all in. I hope FnF7 goes to space.

Somewhere out there in Google Music, there is a list of free songs. It's the June 2013 edition of Filter Magazine's annoyingly-named "PSSST!" sampler. I picked it up on Monday but in typical Google Store fashion I can't find the link anywhere today. Trust me, the songs are out there. [Broadheds - Tomorrow I Might Feel the Same] starts us off with some ska-inflected rock. I'm not sure you can be a ska band with only one saxophone -- at that point aren't you just The News? -- but they do their best with the upbeats and guitars.

[Alpine - Gasoline] is...ukelele rap? There's toylike treble strings and a bass beat, resulting in R&B with a ridiculous overtone. An Escalade built out of Legos. R&Beanie. But the vocals are female close-harmony, so it gets to stay for now.

[Beach Day - Walking on the Streets] reaches all the way back to the 1950s for inspiration. It manages to perfectly capture the sound of being recorded on mono reel-to-reel and getting played on an AM radio at a beach party. Which of course means that you've heard this all before with legitimate decade-spanning hits. If I can tolerate new bands doing their best 50s Motown impression, I guess there might be a market for a new Funicello.