MOVIE/ALBUM REVIEW: KISS rolls the dice in Vegas

Movie reviews, Music reviews, Uncategorized

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In November of 2014 KISS did one of the very few things they hadn’t tried up to this point: a Vegas residency. After all many hard rock artists have tried their hand at Vegas —successfully so— over the years; Both Guns N’Roses and Motley Crue twice, Def Leppard and more recently, Scorpions and Billy Idol. Las Vegas, Nevada is no longer the place where acts go to die, the stigma has faded with time. It seemed obvious KISS would roll the dice in Sin City eventually.

Vegas would force the hottest band in the land to play shows on a smaller scale than it is accustomed to resulting in a slightly more personal performance. That is not to say KISS toned down the fanfare. The antics like pyrotechnics and fire-breathing are still there—they’re just a little less elaborate. While Rocks Vegas is not a particularly fresh concept, it sure is good to see some new live KISS content in an albeit unique setting.

KISS Rocks Vegas initially saw selected showings in movie theatres on May 25th before its impending home video release. KISS looks spectacular on the big screen but watching the Blu-Ray/DVD at home is the next best thing. The last official stand-alone KISS live concert DVD come over ten years ago —Rock the Nation back in 2005— and featured the same lineup.

 

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The accompanying CD also marks the first official live album KISS had issued under this current lineup (unless you count the Instant Live CDs). Is it necessary for a band like KISS to put out a live album in what is likely the twilight of their career? For one thing it would shock many to know at just how few live albums KISS has in comparison to bands like Rush and Iron Maiden. If anything I’m surprised we haven’t had more live KISS. Documenting live performances becomes important as a band ages.

Its latter-day KISS, a lineup that features Tommy Thayer on guitar and Eric Singer on drums alongside Gene and Paul. That means no Ace and Peter, a fact that should be well outlined by now. This lineup, although quite capable, has its hit-and-miss moments— a fact that becomes more evident when listening to the CD. Let’s be honest for a minute: Paul’s voice is shaky, Gene forgets lyrics and Tommy’s solos are sloppy on ocasion. They may no longer be in their prime, yet KISS is still more than capable of putting on an incredible and visually compelling show.

KISS doesn’t stray too far from its usual setlist of classics like Love Gun and Detroit Rock City, but nevertheless the band took a chance and added Tears Are Falling to the set and chose to play no less than three songs from fan-favourite Creatures of the Night. The inclusions of Parasite and War Machine are worth mentioning as is Hell or Hallelujah from the latest studio effort, Monster.

 

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As an added treat, Rocks Vegas features a 7 song acoustic setlist. Paul Stanley shaking his head after filling in for Gene’s forgotten lyrics during Christine Sixteen is simply priceless. Seeing a relaxed KISS as people with no makeup, pyro or costume playing as Love Her All I Can and Goin’ Blind is a great experience. I think it really says something about KISS that the band is this effective in an acoustic setting. I initially was apprehensive of Eric Singer doing Beth, a song that was always Peter Criss’ baby, but its the definitive highlight of the session. You can watch the acoustic performances but if you want to hear them on CD you’ll have to shell out more money as they are part of an $80 box set exclusive to Amazon. KISS and marketing, indeed. 

It’s a monumental task to substitute the live concert experience for a DVD or CD. Rocks Vegas doesn’t quite achieve that feat, but it displays a determined KISS giving a crowd-pleasing performance. The Blu-Ray version is crisp and looks great on my HD TV and the live CD kept those imperfections and mistakes giving a real live feel and that’s a good thing.

Now bring back I Stole Your Love, pretty please.
Setlist:

01. Detroit Rock City
02. Creatures Of The Night
03. Psycho Circus
04. Parasite
05. War Machine
06. Tears Are Falling
07. Deuce
08. Lick It Up
09. I Love It Loud
10. Hell Or Hallelujah & Tommy Solo
11. God Of Thunder
12. Do You Love Me
13. Love Gun
14. Black Diamond
15. Shout It Out Loud
16. Rock And Roll All Night

 

Acoustic set:

01. Coming Home
02. Plaster Caster
03. Hard Luck Woman
04. Christine Sixteen
05. Goin’ Blind
06. Love Her All I Can
07. Beth

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Batman, the joker and one long overdrawn joke

Misc, Movie reviews, Uncategorized

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Just remember. “All it takes is one bad day…”        DC Comics


 

A celebrated, yet often divisive and debated entry in the Batman library, The Killing Joke is dear to a many a Bat fan’s heart. While there’s room to ague the comic’s rank and merits, there is no denying Alan Moore’s brainchild is one of the darkest, most sadistic Joker stories ever put to paper.

In The Killing Joke, the Joker went over the edge —even by Joker standards. He no longer behaves like a lunatic buffoon, the man who laugh is out to prove a point: all is takes is one bad day to reach insanity. The story represents a case in character study, examines the morbid aspects of human nature and what drives a sociopath from a comic book’s point of view—essentially its a deliciously macabre Joker origin story.

I love that DC didn’t change the main story and formula too much. The Killing Joke is already a memorable chapter for Batman and the Joker, it didn’t need to be tinkered with or alternated in any shape or form. The animated film adaptation did quite well in regards to staying on par with the comic.

The main gripe I have with The Killing Joke is with its first 30 minutes where material that wasn’t in the book was added. Sure it’s related to the story and they did their best to tie it in but the storyline they tried to develop for Barbara Gordon/Batgirl simply didn’t work as well as DC might have anticipated.

 

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DC promo

 

Barbara/Batgirl is a pivotal character in The Killing Joke, therefore it is understandable that DC wanted to give its audience a semblance of insight as to her personality. I’ll give the writers credit for trying to add to Batgirl’s story, but rather than attain its desired effect it feels like it was merely pasted onto the original story to stretch out the film. The further dialogue and backstories really didn’t end up adding anything crucial. Although I won’t go into details, Batgirl’s relationship with Batman in the film was in particularly poor taste and very much unlike the character fans have known.

I was happy to see a few of my favourite lines from the comic were left intact as there are many memorable quotes. As a fan, hearing the words I’ve read so many times over being brought to life by Mark Hamill was fantastic. At The Killing Joke‘s apex, the satisfying confrontation and word exchange between Batman and the Joker kept the same spirit as its source. The dialogue isn’t always on point however. One “joke” in particular is in bad taste. A criminal receiving a beating courtesy of Batgirl looks at her and says, “Must be that time of the month”. BadCringe-worthy.

Speaking of Mark Hamill, his voice acting is possibly the best aspects of The Killing Joke. Hamill as made left his mark on the comic book genre with his work as the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series and various Batman video games.

The animated film doesn’t quite match the intensity or pace of the comic largely due to its first part. They managed to get some of the art direction right yet the tone of the story isn’t as dark and perverse, but it tries. The Killing Joke falls short in its attempt to prolong the story, but it is a very faithful adaptation of its comic counterpart.

At an hour and sixteen minutes (including credits) it is by no means a long Batman film, however it feels longer due to added Batgirl backstory which decidedly does not work in its favour. Do yourself a favour and skip the first half-hour of movie, you won’t regret it. 3 stars.

“I love legends! Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, Bon Jovi…”

Movie reviews, Uncategorized

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The Final Girls, Stage 6 Films/Vertical Entertainment, 2015.

     Disfigured mask-wearing killer bent on revenge? Check. Campy origin story? Check. Display of typical stereotypes? Check.

More comedy than horror, The Final Girls is part-tribute, part-spoof of it’s subject. I’ll give this one some credit because l’ve never seen a horror flick like it before. It’s very hip these days to do throwback to good old ’80s slasher-style horror, but this time we are presented with a twist rather than a formula. The audience is taken literally inside an ’80s slasher film along with our cast of loveable misfits and stereotypes as they try to survive. The movie is incredibly self-aware and pokes fun of itself at every opportunity. The Final Girls knows what it is and is not afraid to have fun with it.

The movie wears its influences, or should I say influence — Friday the 13th — on its sleeve. On occasion it even feels like a Friday sequel, albeit probably not one of the better sequels. It even rips-off the Friday theme, it clearly knows what it’s doing. The camp, the masked villain, the backstory, a child tormented by others for being different and the list goes on, it’s all here.

Characters over-act, under-act, but this is horror — it is expected, even encouraged in such homage work. It’s part of the territory. Taissa Farmiga (youngest sister of Bates Motel’s Vera Fermiga) may be the film’s lead actress, but Malin Akerman who steals the show, delivering what is a surprisingly convincing performance. The Final Girls doesn’t get everything right but the mother-daughter relation between the two actresses leads to some genuinely heartbreaking moments (the Bette Davis Eyes scene is at least). Adam Devine provides the comedic relief as Kurt, a stereotype so hellbent on being a stereotype it almost hurts.

The way the film is glued-up together and dances between comedy and horror doesn’t always work, but it puts a fresh spin on a classic genre. The Final Girls is nothing groundbreaking, rooted in nostalgia and hardly essential. Yet it’s an entertaining and creative piece of horror cinema. It’s funny minus the scary, lacks gore and threatening kills but for this type of project it makes perfect sense. There was also the previously mentioned surprising mother-daughter drama/relation that stirred up unexpected emotions, something a horror movie hasn’t been able to do to me in quite some time.

It’s a mindless horror-comedy with a heart that deserves but doesn’t necessarily require viewing. 3.5 stars.

Entertaining but should have been more -3 1/2*

Movie reviews

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Super Duper Alice Cooper, Banger Films, 2014.

I’ve been following Canadian television and film production company Banger Films and their numerous projects with great interest for years now.  Sam Dunn and his crew have done wonderful work paying tribute to bands like Rush and Iron Maiden, as well as producing cultural relevant films on Metal (Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey is still a favourite, and Global Metal is worth its salt) and two TV series no less in the form of Metal Evolution and Rock Icons aired on VH1.

When Banger Films announced Super Duper Alice Cooper in 2013 I was excited. I’ve been a fan of Alice Cooper —the man and the band— for most of my life and Banger Films had done tremendous work covering subjects I loved up to that point.

I had hopes that Super Duper Alice Cooper would cover Alice’s entire career, but much to my chagrin it did not. Some events and entire decades are glossed over. The documentary ends rather abruptly and would have you believe all Alice Cooper did anything after 1986 was tour. That is not the case. Alice experienced renewed creativity and one his most prolific decade as an artist in the ’00s, he is constantly touring and still records to this day as a solo artist and with side projects (Hollywood Vampires).

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“Welcome to my documentary, I hope you’re gonna like it.”

I get that with a man who had such a long and illustrated career it would have made for a what would’ve surely amounted to overly long documentary project.  I still feel like this documentary was a missed opportunity. For instance, his early 80’s output —as out there and bizarre as they were— are fascinating and musically diverse, yet completely ignored here. Instead they focus on Alice’s personal problems. It would have been nice to hear more about them and ask Alice (even though he doesn’t remember them he can still share thoughts, the man has admitted to hearing genius when he listens to albums like DaDa). Or perhaps why his Lace And Whisky album was such a brilliant album but a complete departure musically.

Banger Films focused more on a Behind The Music approach and the good old shock value factor associated to the Alice Cooper name. For the uninitiated, curious mind or casual fan, Super Duper Alice Cooper is a much more rewarding experience because it paints a portrait of Alice Cooper the man and the band. The die-hard will lament what isn’t in the movie or the fact that we’ve seen or heard this before and that this is the same under a new decor. As such, it seems the filmmakers mostly show the viewer what is on the surface without scratching underneath. Therefore it ends up being a more appealing project to someone who isn’t obsessed with Alice Cooper but very appealing to a casual fan or intrigued viewer.

With that said, what they do cover, what made it in and the presentation are all marvellous. The cinematography is incredible. Some footage and interviews I had never seen and they make for a rare treat providing insights of where Alice Cooper as a band was and who Vincent Furnier was (or at least, becoming). One particular moment during an interview from 1982 shows Furnier as an almost tragic figure, effectively demonstrating his descent in a downward spiral psychologically and physically.

Some of the footage paints very vivid and strong images of the band and Alice. The live footage is great, watching the band play, executions, Alice kissing girls.. There’s a lot of captivating footage and visuals but maybe not as much for the die-hard fans who may have seen (or know) it all already. The bonus interviews that didn’t make the cut are certainly worth watching.

The storytelling is vivid and effective, mostly done by Cooper himself along with some guests and people who contributed (featuring Bob Ezrin and Iggy Pop among others). Even though we may know the story of the Alice Cooper band it never gets old hearing it from those who lived it. It’s great to hear former members of the classic AC band, Dennis Dunaway and Neal Smith, but a shame that Michael Bruce didn’t make it in. They don’t get a lot of air time but it was nice to have their voices heard at least.

Most fans seem to absolutely love Super Duper Alice Cooper while a few seem to think it’s lacking or doesn’t tell them anything they don’t already know. It think it falls short of being the definitive Cooper documentary. One can assume that had Banger Films had more screen time (or a second disc) this could’ve been it.

The documentary itself makes for great viewing and is very enjoyable. Between the presentation of audio, visuals and animations (who reminded me of History of the Eagles and served to enhance the product), Super Duper Alice Cooper  brought the story of Alice Cooper to life. I can’t deny that even though I enjoyed the documentary, I anticipated more. This time Banger Films went for a more traditional approach to filmmaking and used a lot of footage and voice overs and ultimately it makes it less effective than their previous work. As much as I love Banger Films and Alice Cooper I’m giving Super Duper Alice Cooper a 3.5/5. Worth the price of admission but don’t expect the world.

In which a classic film gets an ’80s makeover

Movie reviews

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Psycho III, Universal Pictures, 1986.

Psycho II came 22 years after the original and bore no semblance of the era it was released in. There were no discernible hints of the time period during which it was conceived. III however, does just the opposite. It embraces the 1980’s with the style, the hair and a synth-pop soundtrack. It’s also designed to fit the era.

Slashers were huge at the time and although there was never much gore in Psycho, this sequel feels more like a slasher and features much more gore and blood. III also significantly shorter and less complex than the first two films, a product of it’s era.

The movie follows the events of II. Norman Bates is at it again with the motel and presumed to be sane and innocent following the events of the second film. He hires a teenager to help him out at the hotel where a lot of parties and sleazy activities start to happen. Bates seems fine until a new girl with a fascinating backstory comes to town. The girl looks a lot like one of Bates’ most popular victim, Marion Crane. With her short hair and “M.C.” Initials, Norman becomes captivated by her. From then on, it unfolds almost exactly as  you’d imagine it to.

Psycho II felt like a continuation of the original, by contrast,  III feels much more like a sequel. It falls prey to some of the trends that were happening at the time. The focus is still Norman Bates but there is a significant amount of time spent on teenage characters. They were obviously trying to cater to Psycho fans while attempting to appeal to teenagers. That means we get issues relating to teenagers: some characters run away, there’s abuse, nudity and sleaze that is unnecessary in the context of a Psycho film.

They also turned up the gore factor as well this time around, but it looks somewhat cartoony and a slasher flick doesn’t quite fit the more psychological aspects of a movie like Psycho. It was odd to see Norman fall in love with someone, but it provided some new depth to the character.

This time around we get to see much more of the motel. We are taken inside the cabins which is a treat in itself. It’s interesting to not that Anthony Perkins took reigns as director here, his first time directing in fact.

One can see a structure within the film that’s very similar to the original Psycho. There is also a nice homage towards the end where Perkins shines once more. The second film took some liberties with the backstory and the character of mother, it was nice to see the original story reinstated here.

Psycho III is definitely a product of it’s time and objectively some of it’s components haven’t held up all that well. It’s a fun sequel, but it feels like just that, a sequel. Some of the content was there purely to compete with what was out at the time. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is a timeless classic and cinematic masterpiece.Psycho II followed a similar pace and although it failed to match the original it proved to be a worthy sequel. III is the worst thus far. It was a product of the ’80s, leaned towards a different direction and moved at a faster pace (only an hour and a half). A passable entry, more fun to talk about than watch. 2.5/5 stars.

“Mary, I’m becoming confused again”-Norman Bates

Movie reviews

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Psycho II, 1983, Universal Pictures.

 

Did Psycho necessitate a sequel? I’m not convinced, but isn’t it fun to see what happens to our friend Norman Bates? Of course it is.

22 years after the events of the first film Norman is released from the institution he’s been living in. Declared not guilty by reason of insanity Norman is taken back to Bates Motel where he begins a new life.

Psycho II begins with footage of the original as a reminder and to help prepare the viewer, which was a nice touch. The movie for a different angle than the first. In Psycho II we see Bates as a rational being with no decernable hints of reverting to his old way. In fact, he seems almost sane. He’s not committing crimes yet “Mother” is back and it becomes clear that someone is messing with Norman. I give the movie credit for not being overly predictable, it follows an interesting story but it also ends up being a little farfetched.

The film throws it’s own twists and uses psychology- undeniably, to a lesser extent and effect than the first. It’s complex, but not as complex as the original was. Being a huge fan of Hitchcock’s original film, I thought some elements of the plot were tempered with a little, particularly the character of “Mother” (relax, I won’t go into it, that would be too much spoilers).

The movie industry go through many changes in 10 years, never mind 22. The pace is notably different it’s much more modern, in colour and cinema tactics and angles have changed. Director Richard Franklin took over Hitchcock’s cinematic universe and brought it up to date and attempted to modernize a class with mixed results.

It’s wonderful to have Anthony Perkins back as Norman Bates. He doesn’t surpass his original performance, yet proves very capable in dictating who Norman is and where he goes all those years later. Without him, it just wouldn’t be the same.

Lila, reprised by Vera Miles, is also back in an interesting manner. Having the same actors and characters and house/hotel helps ease use into this “22 years later” transition. It just feels like we’ve away for a long time and now we’re back. Things have changed over time, but we are still in the same universe.

Psycho II falls short of the original and serves little purpose other than continuing the story of Norman Bates. The first Psycho was original, it was important, a classic. Psycho II doesn’t break ground much new ground, but it stays true to the the original and  to it’s credit, doesn’t mess with the story *too* much.

If you’re content with the original and generally despise sequels, or are a Hitchcock purist, the sequels are perhaps best left alone. On the other hand, if you are curious about where they took Psycho next and what happens to Bates, Psycho II is a decent enough sequel that doesn’t require but deserves viewing. It’s a capable sequel with the ghost of the original looming over it’s shoulder. 3/5 stars.

Room service, anyone?

Movie reviews

 

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Psycho, Hitchcock, Paramount Pictures, 1960.

 

Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1960 film Psycho was on the curriculum of my Cultural Studies class in college. I remember clearly discussing it’s impact on both cinema and pop-culture and the feminism theory surrounding the movie (maybe it’s own article).

The ambiance, the lighting and the score create a sense of discomfort at all times like few others have before or since. If anything, this film proves that you don’t need an astronomical budget to scare people and to be relevant. Although I always found a certain charm to black and white movies, Psycho is anything but charming.

Decades later, the acting in Psycho retains fervor and remains splendid. Lead Anthony Perkins is brilliant in the role of troubled Norman Bates. The psychological aspects and nuances of the character come across splendidly. His facial expressions and manners convey personality disorders and traits effectively. Janet Leigh is classy and formidable in the role of Marion Crane. The supporting cast is almost equally as good bringing the story to life.

Some scenes from Psycho stand out and are permanently etched into Pop Culture. The shower scene being the most obvious example. It’s scary not because it’s graphic, but because of the reality of it. You’re at your most vulnerable in the shower and Psycho plays with that very fragile reality.

Or what about the scenes where Norman talks to mother? The uncomfortable setting in which in happens, in an over-the-hill view, allows the viewers to use their own imaginations. And what about the great reveal at the end?

The character of mother is fascinating. The implications and story behind her lead to an intriguing development. Her and Norman make for an interesting case of psychological study. Split and double personality disorders aren’t easily explained and Psycho does a eloquent job at accomplishing the task. The way the backstory and facts were deconstructed was pure brilliance and only added depth to the characters and story.

The movies only serves to cement Hitchcock’s status and legend. Psycho is truly unparalleled remaining important and relevant today on top of being a great piece of cinema.

Hitchcock’s masterpiece? Quite probable. Does it still shock audiences like it did back in the 1960’s? Of course not, but it doesn’t make it any less unsettling, even to generations desensitized by the amount of gore and buckets of blood they consume.

Psycho succeeds on a deeper level because it allows viewers to integrate their own subconscious and fears into the film instead of being shown graphic scenes and visuals intended to scare. A classic recommendation? Yes, but also required viewing for any cinephile, regardless of genre.

Slow, campy horror with an ending that ultimately pays off

Movie reviews

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Sleepaway Camp, Amercian Eagle Films, 1983. Blu-ray:  Shout! Factory, 2014.

Sleepaway Camp (also known as Nightmare Vacation on VHS) is somewhat of a well-kept secret in the realm of horror. Reading reviews online on Amazon and other websites would have you believe you stumbled upon a five star classic that requires instant viewing.

On the surface however, it’s essentially your average slasher (an exploitation slasher at that), complete with cheese and bad-dare I say horrible-acting. Not that it’s all that surprising when it comes to ’80s horror.It also gathered enough of a following that it spawned three sequels, which, again, is not surprising.

The kills are neither scary or gory at all. In fact, some death scenes are downright laughable. It adopts a 3rd person “Who is the killer” approach that’s very similar to another slasher film, the original Friday The 13th (the murders although toned down, are also very reminiscent of Friday).

So what gives it this small but ever so present cult status? Why does it have so many fans? And why didn’t I give it one star if l seem to be bashing on it?

The one factor Sleepaway Camp does have going for itself is the main character Angela. Complex, quiet, fascinating all the while disturbing. A psychologist’s wet dream really. Her backstory unfolds unto itself (worthy of a review itself) and is the focus point of the story. The actress who portrays her is believable and convincing. She doesn’t do a whole lot of acting per se (or even talking for that matter), and she doesn’t need to. Her strong gaze and facial expressions tell the story her words don’t. Her few words and expressive eyes say a lot about the character when little else does.

Angela’s aunt is another character that leaves a lasting impression for entirely different reasons. She says a lot and is very vocal and it doesn’t help that she acts in an eerie manner although as a whole it made for an intriguing character.

The backstory is nothing short of fantastic for a horror film. The movie doesn’t have the strongest story, but offers a high pay-off. It’s creepy, disturbing, revealing and is the type of “reveal” most horror movies only dream off. in that sense, Sleepaway Camp succeeds.

Another big reason why Sleepaway Camp is worth watching is the ending. All too often in horror cinema, a film manages to keep the viewer interested until the end and when said ending comes, it ultimately disappoints. What we have here is just the opposite. I kept watching for a payoff and boy, did it ever.

I was laughing through most of the death sequences and the bad acting. Then the ending came out of nowhere and scared the heck out of me. Back when I first watched it I was terrified. It gave me nightmares. That ending and image are still very vivid and etched into my mind.

The film is divisive among some horror enthusiasts. It’s also the type of movie where it’s very hard to talk about and not give anything away. There are strong sexual, transexual and homosexual themes to be found throughout Sleepaway Camp that are at the very core of the story and essential to it’s being. I think that those ideas will get viewers talking more than anything else as I have a feeling the concepts would be remembered more so than any of it’s death sequences would. Those themes are not made it out to be the butt of a joke but rather as a case of profile study.

What starts off as a rather bland and average Slasher film soon becomes deeply complex and increasingly psychological. Is it the all-time classic some make it out to be? Objectively, it is not. It is, however, worthy of a look. It’s very slow to build up and it has it’s flaws, but ultimately Sleepaway Camp has a twisted story that rewards it’s viewer. 3/5 stars.

Why I equate Space Jam (and by default, Michael Jordan) with Easter

Movie reviews, Uncategorized

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Theatrical poster. Space Jam, Warner Bros. 1996

I will always associate Easter with Space Jam.

 

Every year on easter weekend Space Jam would air on TV and every year I would watch it without fail. It’s a proud tradition that I continue to honour to this day. It’s slightly different today. Now I just pop in the Blu-Ray and voila, no more waiting for TV. It’s not as nostalgic this way, but the movie is always as good as I remember it to be.

For all intends and purposes, Space Jam was my 1996. Growing up, I wasn’t much of a basketball fan, but I loved everything about this movie. While some movies came and went, Space Jam was a constant mainstay in my collection and in my heart. I love everything including the ridiculous storyline. The Looney Tunes have an intergalactic basketball match against aliens. At first, they have no problem beating their pint-sized opponents. Until they steal the talents of NBA stars and become “Monstars” that is. The Looneys then get the help of Michael Jordan, a retired NBA player turned baseball player.

           Space Jam doesn’t feel dated as much as it feels classic. What can I say about the cast? Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Shawn Bradley, Larry Johnson, Mugsy Bogues, and an appearance by Bill Murray. While Jordan is hardly an actor, he gives a very credible and charismatic performance with his loony teammates. Although those featured NBA players are retired by now, it’s fun to reminisce and see players that era of NBA history.

Maybe it’s because it’s a sentimental favourite, but I feel Space Jam is very much a product of it’s time and a memorable piece of ’90s pop-culture. It also has more than enough humorous sequences and lines to warrant multiple viewings.

“For all intends and purposes, Space Jam was my 1996. “

What really makes the movie charming is the array of Loony Tune characters and watching them come alive on a story tailor-made for the big-screen. There’s something oddly endearing about the pairing of humans and Looneys feeding off each other. In the context of Space Jam it never felt bizarre or out of place. The movie was also notable for being the appearance of fan favourite Lola Bunny. The Monstars are every bit as cool looking as they were. Many of us who grew up in the 1990’s wanted a Tune Squad jersey, I should know, I still want one.

The basketball match is filled with small bits of comedy where every Looney gets 15 second to shine. It’s the highlight and best part of Space Jam. No matter how many times I’ve watched the film, it’s still every bit as fun as it was the first time.

 

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Home video poster. You can practically smells the 90’s.

 

Characters and visual effects look as good today as they did then, it’s cliché’d to say it stood the test of time, but it’s true. In my eyes, the animation looks just as fresh and vibrant as it did upon first viewing as a child twenty years ago.

The Blu-Ray features commentary by Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and director Joe Pytka, Jammin’ with Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan featurette, 2 music videos (Seal’s “Fly Like An Eagle” and the movie cast’s Monstars Anthem Hit ‘Em High) and the theatrical trailer.

That’s it that’s my Easter story. This explains why to me Easter = Space Jam and by default, Michael Jordan. It’s not much of a tradition, but I’ll take it.

              Space Jam is quirky, fun, charming and visually appealing. Everything from lines to the soundtrack is practically etched in my consciousness by this point. Perhaps I’m biased, but so be it, I will aways love Space Jam.

Quiet Riot past, present and future

Movie reviews, Music reviews

 

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Well now you’re here, there’s no way back, Indie, 2014.

I’ve been hearing for years about Frankie Banali and how he was working on a documentary on the band. Now we finally have this documentary in the form of Well now you’re here, there’s no way back.

I think some were skeptical about the film, possibly thinking that this would be Banali’s attempt to erase the Randy Rhoads era of QR and erase the original Quiet Riot. This could not be further from the truth. The documentary pays tribute to every aspect of the band and covers it’s history, good or bad. It’s not perfect, but it’s very much what Frankie promised.

The movie comes across as well composed and thought-out and documentary. Nothing exceptional, yet it serves as a fitting coverage of Quiet Riot’s entire career. It’s also a tribute to Kevin DuBrow in it’s own way. There should have been more on the early days, pre-Banali era, (as l’m sure fans will agree with me). It’s also a very heavy on the recent comeback years, but overall it works. The documentary features a lot of old clips of the guys goofing arounds being young, dumb and stupid. I loved seeing Frankie talk with Rudy Sarzo about DuBrow and Randy Rhoads.

“Regardless of your stance on QR without DuBrow, by the end you’re cheering for Frankie.”

I was a little perplexed that classic lineup guitarist Carlos Cavaza was only featured briefly although it seems his lack of involvement in this project was his own choice. Speaking of guests, people like Glen Hughes, Dee Snider, Steven Adler, Matt Sorum, Martha Quinn, Eddie Trunk, MTV VJ Martha Quinn and more were interviewed. Everything considered, it’s a decent list of guests. It was also great to see members of the Rhoads family share their thoughts about Kevin and Randy.

It was fascinating to see Frankie explain to Dubrow’s successor, Mark Hoffman, what he thought could have done better during Quiet Riot’s first comeback show in 2010. It’s amazing to see the band on the road struggling and at one point, Hoffman forgets the words to “Cum On Feel The Noize”, yikes!

There are many other horrible and Spinal Tap-esque moments for this lineup. After deciding to part ways and the band set for singer Scott Vokoun, later to be succeeded by Jizzy Pearl. Who knows who will be singing for the band by the time you read this, but it’s safe to say QR will go on for some time.

I give Banali a lot of credit because he’s always more than kind and gracious to fans. His drive and desire to continue when he faces adversity is immense. After watching the documentary l’ve gained new respect for Banali and renewed appreciation for Quiet Riot.

One can’t help but feel empathy when watching Frankie deal with death of Kevin DuBrow and it’s impact on his life. In these visible struggles you connect with Banali. Kevin died but Frankie still has to live with the repercussions on a daily basis. Banali has been facing tremendous backlash from fans and metal websites for his decision to retire, then un-retire Quiet Riot.

Frankie lost his dad when he was young, took care of his mother who later passed away, his wife died, Kevin DuBrow died… Loss certainly seems to be a reoccurring theme in his life. It makes the drummer’s story that much more relatable. Regardless of your stance on QR without DuBrow, by the end you’re cheering for Frankie.

Well now you’re here, there’s no way back really is the story of Quiet Riot past, present and future. It’s also the story of Frankie Banali, a man who learns to forgive, accept and move on. This film has been compared to the Anvil documentary and I can see that in some aspects (mainly in the obstacles QR faces on the road), however Quiet Riot was much bigger and more successful than Anvil ever was and they have a longer and more compelling history.

It’s worth viewing for the Quiet Riot fan, if you enjoy a good music bio or learning about the ups and downs of the music business. The documentary is a little over 100 minutes, yet l’m not convinced everything that was in the documentary required inclusion. It makes for good viewing but ultimately it’s not as effective as it could have been and that’s largely because there are already many of these types of documentaries out there.. 3.5 stars/5 stars.