Archive for January, 2011
17 Jan

A Blip of a Movie Review: “The Fighter”

Alternative Title: “I Am a Contender, Ma!”

Short Plot: Two Bah-ston brothers fight their family, addictions, other boxers, and each other. The older brother is a local boxing hero gone downhill while the younger is now getting his chance in the ring. But can he do it without the pull of family dragging him down? Does family obligation trump potential dreams and success? This is based on a true story, so if you know the boxers, you probably know the outcome.

Pros: A quad set of performances that are tops of the year, a sports story where the emphasis is not on the sport, characters that are so real it almost make you uncomfortable (in a good way), and terrific boxing scenes.

Cons: Not really anything, but because it is really driven by the performances, the story and script take a bit of a backseat and since it is based on a true story it can only be dramatically enhanced so much.

Verdict: You can just tell by watching this film that it was a labor of love for Mark Wahlberg. Everything feels authentic. Christian Bale is truly amazing as is Melissa Leo – who is turning into one of my favorites very quickly. These are performances that truly take acting to a high art form. Bale and Leo just won Golden Globes which sets them up well for Oscar time. Highly recommended.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Blips ••••

Categories: Movies, Review Tags:
04 Jan

theBlippity’s Favorite Music of 2010

If I had one word to sum up the year in music, I would probably choose “dismal.” A second word might be “depressing,” not because of the music offered, but because I think 2010 might represent the year I started to get old. Some of you may have parents (or, OMG, grandparents) that hit their prime in the late 60s/early 70s. If so, they were probably hooked into some of the best music ever created around that time. Now, they may still look fondly on that music but I would probably venture to guess that most of them have their iPods loaded with Sting (after the Police, but before the lute), Josh Groban, Celine Dion, etc. If you asked them about Arcade Fire, they would probably say “what arcade and why did it catch fire?” And if you played a song for them, they probably wouldn’t get it. Well, 2010 marked the first year that I started not to get it. I am sad and depressed.

I’ve been able to listen to a large chunk of albums that reviewers and magazines have crowned as the best of the year – folks like Arcade Fire, The Black Keys, Sleigh Bells, Mumford & Sons, Gorillaz, etc. Many I have listened to a couple of times and I have to say…I don’t get it. I appreciate the craft involved and that these folks are trying to move music forward, but I find myself being left behind. It’s the first time I’ve ever really felt that. And while some of my top picks are also on “best of” lists, it seems like I really went with a retro sound that was safe and comfortable. I couldn’t find anything on the fringe that challenged me and introduced me to something new that hooked my ear. Even the singer/songwriters I usually rely on didn’t come through for me. So, am I getting old? Is my taste starting to be all in my mouth? Will I buy my first Josh Groban CD this year? (Sadly, I almost did – his new disc was produced by Rick Rubin and he covered Nick Cave…Nick freakin’ Cave!!) I’m hoping I get my groove back and discover some great music in the new year. If not, for Christmas next year everyone can get me hits discs by Celine, Josh, Andrea Bocelli, and Sting. Oh, BTW, I already have all of Michael Buble’s discs…oh, man I’m old.

Besides my oldness, I thought 2010 was a bit of a low point in music. Was there really anything released that could even come close to being required listening or a “classic” 10 years from now? Not really. It was kind of the year of Eminem, but that was about it. I purchased a lot of music this year, but two-thirds of it was reissues and collections. I’d say it was the lowest “new” music year I’ve ever had. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t bright spots and I still had a hard time choosing what was to be on theBlippity Top 11 of the year. So let’s get to it. Here are the Top 11 Songs and Albums that I thoroughly enjoyed this year – regardless of my old fogey status:

Top 11 Albums

Oh 80's, how I love thee...

1. “Head First” – Goldfrapp

2. “Four” – Bleu

3. “Red Velvet Car” – Heart

4. “Body Talk” – Robyn

5. “The ArchAndroid” – Janelle Monae

6. “The Lady Killer” – Cee-Lo Green

7. “No Better Than This” – John Mellencamp

8. “Travelling Like the Light” – V.V. Brown

9. “Night Work” – Scissor Sisters

10. “Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall & John Oats” – The Bird and the Bee

11. “I Learned the Hard Way” – Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings

Honorable Mentions:  “Loud” – Rihanna, “God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise” – Ray LaMontagne & the Pariah Dogs, “Wreck Your Wheels” – Kim Richey, “Lungs” – Florence + the Machine, “Something for Everybody” – Devo

Top 11 Songs

Still rockin' like its 1977...

1. “Wheels” – Heart

2. “Rocket” – Goldfrapp

3. “F*** You” – Cee-Lo Green

4. “Alive” – Goldfrapp

5. “Dancing On My Own” – Robyn

6. “Singin’ In Tongues” – Bleu

7. “Fire with Fire” – Scissor Sisters

8. “Cheers (Drink to That)” – Rihanna

9. “Shark in the Water” – V.V. Brown

10. “Dog Days Are Over” – Florence + the Machine

11. “Teenage Dream” – Katy Perry

Honorable Mentions: “Ya Catch More Flies with Honey Than Vinegar” – Bleu, “Like Rock & Roll and Radio” – Ray LaMontagne & the Pariah Dogs, “Keys” – Kim Richey, “Trainwrecks” – Weezer, “Well Well Well” – Duffy, “Soldier of Love” – Sade, “Still This Side of Gone” – Alison Moorer

Categories: Commentary, Music, The Top 11 Tags:
02 Jan

A Blip of a Movie Review: “Black Swan”

Alternate Title: “The Turning Point Meets Hitchcock”

Short Plot: Natalie Portman is on the verge of being a prima ballerina, but also on the verge of losing it. A kooky mom, a crazy ex-ballerina, an ambitious new dancer, a driven director, and her own tremendous pressure are working against her. Is someone messing with her? Is she going nutty? Can she pull it together and shine as the swan queen? Can she stop scratching herself? Hmmm…

Pros: Natalie Portman is terrific, Mila Kunis also rocks (and they rock it together…), the crazy vs. real plot keeps you guessing, it’s a good commentary on the pressures of being perfect, and some nice semi-gruesome SFX.

Cons: If it wasn’t for the tour de force of Natalie Portman, this would just be a standard psycho drama, Barbara Hershey channels Carrie’s mother (not real well), some plot items don’t quite gel, one effects scene (meant to be a mental vision) was comical instead of being intense (with the audience laughing), and what is that scratching? Fleas?

Verdict: The film itself is a slight bit of psycho drama that isn’t as deep as needed to be a standout. However, watching Natalie Portman transform, go crazy, and really dance is what makes this a success. If you took this film, cast a basic hot-at-the-moment pretty girl, and edited in a lot of stand-in dancing, this film would have tripped like a clumsy ballerina. Someone said it wasn’t what they expected as they thought is was going to be more like a “Fatal Attraction” thriller, which it ain’t. A very butch football-like guy was overheard saying “I really liked the music.” But I think the comment that sums up the movie was “bitch be crazy!”

Rating: 3 out of 5 Blips •••

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