Of course we’re all about the movies around here. But we also have day jobs (some of us). And we also have to get to the theater in a car or bus with stereo/iPod jamming; which means the amount of actual minutes consuming music vastly outweighs our movie watching. So throughout the year we take note of what sounds get us from place to place, help us get through the daily grind and just generally enhance our well-being. In the past year, this is the aural landscape that we traveled through most frequently and at our happiest. Welcome to the RowThree Musical “Best Of” lists for 2013.
It’s not strictly the silver cinema for the RowThree staff. We do have some other interests as well. And since it’s that time of year, nothing easier than throwing together a quick top ten of quite possibly our second favorite art form around here: tunage. Adele might be artist of the year, but apparently the third row doesn’t see this. It seems Jack White might hold that prestigious honor with five mentions out of seven in the lists below; including two number one slots.
Outside of Mr. White, there are a couple of duplicate mentions below but for the most part it’s clear music distribution continues to outwit even some of the most die hard of music buffs as it’s virtually impossible to follow every single artist and new release out there. From local bar bands to stadium mega-rockers, it’s easy to find anything in any of the cracks the internet has to offer.
Here are the lists from some of the staff at RowThree. How about you? What have you got for us to listen to in 2013?
We’ve tried every way we can think of for a place in which people can talk about TV shows, music and even books or sports within the confines of RowThree. We had a separate blog with guest writers for a time. It died a slow and horrible death. Then we tried a little chat bar at the bottom of the page and everyone seemed confused and no one was ever on at the same time. Within about a week we realized that wasn’t working at all and had to remove it. So then we just went with something as simple as an occasional post on a random topic that we felt was warranted. This is fine but we still found that random post comment sections were still getting “hijacked” with comments on the Olympics or comic books or concert venues. Hey, we love the enthusiasm, but we want someplace for you guys to be able to do this that doesn’t require you to guess where to post your thoughts or just pick a random spot to do so.
Why don’t you just implement a forum?, you might ask. Well long story short, we just don’t want to.
But we think (and hope) that we have finally found the solution to our MorePop struggle. We’re introducing “Outside the Realm.” These are posts having to do with Music and Television that are fairly specific. You can browse a list of posts until you find the topic you want to talk about and leave your thoughts in the comment section and hopefully get a conversation started. Outside of the realm can be found by clicking either of the two links at the very top of your screen marked “Music” and “Television.” Once there, this will make a lot more sense.
Much like the Peak Oil analogy, the concept where all the easy oil-wells (cue The Beverly Hillbillies theme, or wailing Middle Eastern aria) have been tapped and exploited and now we either have to drill way off into the ocean, or remove copious amounts of sulphur to get good, usable hydrocarbons or by brute processing force, extract it from the sticky tar sands. Thus several treatments of Superman, Batman, Spiderman, and the popular mutants of the X-Men have yielded their massive cash bounties, nowhere more greater than the summer of 2012 where The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises reaping box-office windfall (albeit at very high production and marketing costs).
The origin story has been done to death (albeit, The Amazing Spiderman trotted it out once again.) And with it (hopefully) passing, it invites more complex things like the tableaux of societal anxiety in the Nolan Batmans, flirtations with classical tragedy in Ang Lee’s Hulk, period-pieces like Fist Class and Captain America, the universe-slash-continuity building with Marvel Studios across many different characters or even the risky The Last Temptation Christ experiment in Superman Returns.
My question to you is this, with smaller comic book properties such as Ant Man in production, but really, just a slew of sequels and spin offs (Ironman, Thor, Wolverine, Robin) or team ups (Avengers 2, Justice League, Guardians Of The Galaxy) or the eventual reboot of Batman, do you think we’ve hit the peak of Box-Office, at this point, and that the slide (slow or fast) down the curve (with ever increasing budgets to make these things) will convince the major Hollywood Studios to start looking for another trend to get on board with for their big summer tentpoles? Or do you think that things are here to stay, and a more experimental, extracting black gold from the tar sands approach will yield the continuation of a golden age of Comic Book Superhero Films?
A primer of both the optimistic and not so optimistic views from last year, The Great Comic Book Movie Debate:
“Beware the court of owls, that watches all the time,
Ruling Gotham from a shadow perch, behind granite and lime.
They watch you at your hearth, they watch you in your bed,
Speak not a whispered word of them or they’ll send the talon for your head.”
When I initially wrote my first impressions of DC’s New 52 for this column, there was only one issue per series out. Now we’re up to issue 11, just about all the books have finished at least one arc, I’ve dropped some from my reading list, and added others. After issue 1, I had Scott Snyder’s Batman series as my fourth favorite out of what I’d read. With more issues and time, it’s become pretty clear that the Court of Owls/Night of the Owls Batman arc is easily my favorite thing in the entire New 52. Re-reading the whole thing yesterday in preparation for this post only confirmed that. It’s really well-structured, with strong continuity and works incredibly well both in individual issues and the arc as a whole.
The New 52 relaunch included four Batman-centric books, plus a myriad of other Bat-family books. At first, you wonder why there’s a need for Batman AND Detective Comics AND Batman: The Dark Knight, not to mention Batman & Robin. Checking them all out, though, they each have a slightly different approach to the Batman mythos. Batman is dark and fairly realistic in tone, the clear parallel to Nolan’s Batman movies. Detective Comics takes a much more old-school comic approach, with colorful and larger-than-life villains, more along the lines of the video games Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. I’m not quite as familiar with Batman: The Dark Knight, but it seems to hit somewhere in between, with its first arc concerned with a Bane-derived fear toxin. Meanwhile, Batman & Robin is almost a family drama, focusing on the relationship between Bruce Wayne and his son Damian, the current Robin. I’ve enjoyed all these books to varying degrees, but Snyder’s flagship Batman is head and shoulders above the others.
Anyone who knows anything about the world of David Lynch – his movies, paintings and music – will find it absolutely no surprise that the video for the titular track from his first solo album Crazy Clown Time is strange. Basically consisting of people acting out exactly what’s in the lyrics – including pouring beer, a woman taking her top off and a man setting his mohawk on fire. Yeah, it’s as strange (and awesome!) as it sounds.
An exercise of being straightforward with your music? Or just weird for weird’s sake?
I’ve been a big fan of David Lynch for a number of years now (he might be my favourite director at this point in time) and while, admittedly, that fandom might have clouded my judgement of his musical talents, I still found Crazy Clown Time an oddly addictive album. The title track isn’t anywhere near my favourite from the album (that would be Good Day Today) but it’s hypnotic in a very Mulholland Drive/Inland Empire-esque way.
Dive down the Rabbit hole by watching the video below:
…Or a lady with a body from outer space. Mere child’s play to what The Crüe has in store for us this Sunday.
The internet these last few days has been abuzz with Super Bowl commercials. I don’t even need to watch the game this year. Usually I watch to see some of these fun ads and eat mini-wieners. These days I’ll just eat the mini-wieners as I’ve already seem all the good ones.
So in am effort to be more of a sheep than I already am and conform even further, how can I not post my favorite pre-Super Bowl ad right here on our movie site?
Now you might be thinking, “This is Andrew so he’s totally going to post the dogs barking out The Imperial March.” But you’d be wrong. And of course Old Spice has been a champ for the last couple of years. But remember, I’m a child of the 80s who dreamed of being a rock star. So ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, welcome to the carnival that is Mötley Crüe (and bronco rhinos, flaming face kicks, giant sandwiches and lumberjacks)…
So I’ve become a pretty big fan of “The Kills” as of recent. Especially after seeing them live last fall. Also, I’m kind of a Samantha Morton fan. And looky here… the two have collaborated; with Morton directing “The Kills” latest video for The Last Goodbye. I can’t believe this band has been around for ten years already, but damn if they’re not still going strong. This video is a little bit different direction than their usual fare.
“The Last Goodbye” offsets the hard-edged sound Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince are known for with haunting vocals and a nostalgic piano loop. “I wanted to make it completely different from anything we’d normally do,” explains Hince. “I used an octagon keyboard from the 60s which takes flexi-discs with real bands playing and mixes them together.” For the video — an experience Hince and Mosshart usually find unfulfilling and frustrating — the duo enlisted the talents of Morton, who made her directorial feature debut this year with The Unloved. Shot in monochrome on crisp, silvery 35mm, the video reflects the beautiful simplicity of the track, with an old-school photo booth providing an intimate backdrop for Mosshart’s intense and heart-warming opening performance followed by a series of touching to-camera poses reflecting the musicians’ longstanding, spirited friendship. “Life goes on,” says Mosshart of the touching ballad. “It starts off being the end of the world but then ends up alright.”
Our collective 2011 film lists will be coming up soon, but most of us are pretty big music fans, too, so we wanted to share some of the things we’ve been listening to the most in 2011. Rules for inclusion are pretty lax; soundtracks, cover albums, it’s all fair game. There’s a great deal of diversity among our lists, but we managed to come up with a collective Top Ten, arrived at by some fancy math and the requirement that the album appear on more than one list. Even so, most are only on two lists, with a few on three, and one Miss Florence Welch landing her sophomore album on FIVE of our lists.
Every entry on most lists has a music video or live performance video linked, which will open in a lightbox when you click it, plus a link to Spotify when the album is available there. In addition, there’s a playlist of almost everything on Spotify here, with our favorites right up top.
Since I first heard it was happening, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has been my most anticipated game of the year, promising a return to the vast world that ate up my life in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. When I first bought my Xbox360, Oblivion was among the first round of games I bought, taking it on faith that I’d enjoy it, since I hadn’t played any of the previous Elder Scrolls games. I ended up spending over 120 hours on the initial playthrough, and being completely unready for it to end when I finished. I’ve even restarted it a few times just to spend more time in the world of Tamriel. Of course, I’m cheap, so I didn’t get the expansion packs right away – in fact, I didn’t get them until a few weeks ago, when Xbox Live had an amazing sale on them, and I didn’t get to finish them before Skyrim came out. I’ll get back to them, but for now, my life belongs to Skyrim.
So far, I’ve only scratched the surface of Skyrim‘s world, so this is not a review, but just a catalog of the some first impressions of the game so far. I’ve put in roughly ten hours, and have completed only a very little bit of the main quest line. I tend to like doing the other things first, so I’ve done a lot of little tasks like clearing out a cave of bandits, sorting out an unhappy love triangle, recovering a family sword, those kind of things. You get those just by wandering around and talking to people – it’s amazing how many people need stuff done for them! There are also larger, multi-part side quests, and I’ve done a few of those as well. Then there are guilds and factions you can join, each of which starts its own questline. I’ve joined two of those so far. If you’ve played Oblivion and all this sounds familiar, you’re right. This game is essentially exactly like Oblivion from the general design to the branching questlines and random tasks to the hack-and-slash combat. If you’ve played Oblivion, you already know whether you’re going to like Skyrim or not. I haven’t been disappointed one bit – it’s like being back in the world I love with updated graphics, slightly better combat, a face-lifted menu system (which I quite like, actually, compared with Oblivion‘s), and what promises to be an even bigger world.
I picked up this book after chatting with Kurt about sci-fi/cyberpunk novels and mentioning how much I’d enjoyed Neal Stephenson’s Anathem – a novel essentially about a world where monastic orders are built around science rather than religion, but with much of the trappings of medieval Christian monasticism. He told me I had to read A Canticle for Leibowitz as soon as possible, a recommendation I took on faith, since I’d honestly only vaguely heard of the book before and didn’t know anything about it at all. Turns out he was totally right, both on its similarities to Anathem and how much I’d like it.
The only novel published by Walter M. Miller Jr. during his lifetime (a sequel would be published posthumously), A Canticle for Leibowitz (1958) posits a postapocalyptic world in which a straggling group of monks in the Utah desert are the only preservers of the scientific knowledge left behind by one Isaac Edward Leibowitz. After a global nuclear war sometime in the 20th century leaves most of humanity either dead or deformed, a Simplification movement arises to destroy the learning that led to the creation of such devastating technology, with only a few, like the monastic order Leibowitz created, left to preserve books and knowledge. The first third of the book takes place 600 years after the Simplification, the middle third 600 years later as a new Renaissance begins to dawn and people begin to understand how to use the materials collected by the Leibowitzians, and the final third another 600 years after that, as nuclear war is again on the horizon. Thus the book is post-apocalyptic but also parallels history from about 400AD to the present day.