Thursday, March 29, 2007

Hear Chris Cornell's new song

I was a big fan of Soundgarden, and a delayed fan of Audioslave. The front man for both the bands has tried a solo effort before, and it was mediocre. But this time with the Casino Royale theme song and "No Such Thing" his second album could be much better after all.

Click on the banner to play "No Such Thing" below by Chris Cornell, streaming.
Windows Media Player required

click to listen to 'No Such Thing'

Like a lot of Audioslave songs, this might need a little "growing on" to appreciate better.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Lacuna Coil: Vote for them to perform in Memphis!

Lacuna Coil is a gothic rock band from Italy, and they just ROCK! By gothic I don't mean Marilyn Manson or any of those wannabes but some really chants that blend with the guitar distortions, along with powerful lyrics. Check out some of their songs at

They're presently touring, but are not coming to Memphis or anywhere close to where I am at. Fortunately they put a campaign on a web site where we can request them to play at additional locations based on demand. For this, I need your help....

Please go to: and click on "Demand It." - Enter 38655 or 38152 for the area code.

Thanks in advance!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Movie Review: Shooter

Movie Title: Shooter
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Michael Peña, Danny Glover, Kate Mara, Rhona Mitra and Elias Koteas
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Genre: Action/Thriller/Drama/Conspiracy
My rating: 7.8/10

Bravo! Oh, what can I say? This movie has well sailed across dangerous seas of clichés and cheesiness and yet accomplished what it was meant to be since it's conception: an action-packed entertainment thriller.

Mark Wahlberg stars as Bob Lee Swagger, an ex gunnery sergeant who retired from service after his last mission went awry and was left abandoned as "expendable" by his commanding unit. He's a specialist shooter, as the movie title suggests, and is called upon by higher authorities to analyze a possible assassination attempt on the President. After some patriotic and emotional blackmail, Swagger agrees and lo! He finds himself shot at twice and set up by the same people. No, the President is not killed, but the other guy on stage with the President is. That follows the conspiracy.... No Spoilers here.

Swagger runs, escapes, holds off his wounds again and again. Until he lands up in Kentucky at his diseased Sniper partner's widow's for help. Newcomer Kate Mara plays Sarah, and as a guy I must admit that she is rather sexy overall - well, except with that fake southern accent but you'd let it pass. Once Swagger is healed, he's on the run again, this time to seek the truth, prove it, and gain justice. TA-DA! No wait, that's barely half the movie....

Michael Peña (of World Trade Center) plays an FBI agent who instinctively believes there's a conspiracy involved in the so-called Presidential assassination. He ends up playing Swagger's aide, and didn't do a very bad job of portraying a more thinker than fighter kind of character here. His contact in the FBI who sort of believes in him is Alourdes Galindo, played by spellbinding British actress Rhona Mitra, of Hollow Man and TV's Boston Legal & Nip/Tuck. I seldom think very highly of her acting skills, but here she did a alright job. It wouldn't be too hard for her to portray an elegant and suited government official, a dignified role for her, finally!

And now the baddies. So many of them... I'll just name a few. Danny the dude from the Lethal Weapon series, but this doesn't seem to be the same actor to me at all! I understand that he has aged, and respect the fact that he's trying something different for his career by playing the villain. However, the most miscast award for this movie would go to Mr. Glover, who plays a Colonel who recruits Swagger and halfway through has him foxed. Jeez Danny, try and find a TV pilot, maybe? Elias Koteas can play a variety of supporting characters reasonably well. Here, he played the colonel's horribly creepy sidekick/right-hand-man. He's not present throughout the movie but you do hate the character at the end.

And then the end. Well, I won't say what happens at the end, but I will say this: I stood up when the end credits began to roll and realized I was satisfied and entertained. Great action, great acting by the lead, good twists, interesting random facts about how weather and humidity define a shooter's shooting time, fast pace all ensure the movie isn't a B-grader, like most action films these days.

A lot of professional and personal reviews (like this one) have defined the movie to be:

  • Rambo with better acting and better story

  • Action sequences like Bourne Identity

  • Intense second half like Die Hard

  • Mark Wahlberg being the bad-ass he always is!

I somewhat do agree with most of the above. It's still more civilized than Rambo and I applause to Wahlberg for his performance, and to Antoine Fuqua for another action thriller (after Replacement Killers, Training Day and King Arthur).

Who will enjoy it?
Males between 17 and 50. Maybe some ladies who are totally into the genre.

Who will not enjoy it?
Ladies who'd be wishing they were watching Grey's Anatomy or a chick flick instead. And guys who don't digest conspiracies well.

7.8/10 from me. Enjoy it with a Coke Frostee in this weather and some popcorn!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Movie Review: 300

 300 Movie Poster
Movie Title: 300
Starring: Gerald Butler, Lena Headley, Dominic West, David Wenham, Vincent Regan, Michael Fassbender and Rodrigo Santoro
Directed by: Zack Synder
Genre: Action/War/Drama/History
My rating: 7.5/10

I've been somewhat looking forward to this movie merely because of the novelty illustrated in the previews. I loved Frank Miller's Sin City and enjoy historical epics. But again, 300 is based on Miller's graphic novels, a different depiction of the actual (or believed actual) story of 300 Spartans who alone took up the cause to battle the Persians and save their land, thus inspiring the rest of Sparta and Greece to fight as well.

Gerald Butler (Phantom of the Opera, Dracula 2000) stars as Spartan king Leonidas, an overly brave and good king who does not enslave his subjects. He also happens to be a good family man, who listens to his wife and takes her advice while making important decisions. Lena Headley, a good British actress usually ignored by Hollywood, excels as Queen Gorgo. She's a woman with balls, an equalist and a role model in many ways.

Greek kingdoms around 600 BC were not just ruled by kings, but politicians as well. Leonidas just happened to not be a tyrant, but the politicians had to be what they are best: corrupt, selfish, power-hungry and manipulative. Refusing to submit to the Persian king Xerxes' annexation and being let down by the politicians for military man-power, Leonidas takes his own 300 best soldiers, or bodyguards as he called them, to fight Xerxes' soldiers from crossing into Sparta.

And yes, Leonidas and his men fight, bravely and confidently. Some of the fight sequences are done in slow motion, with great expertise and appropriation. A Spartan will bulldoze towards a bunch of Persians, the screen will pause for a split second, Spartan will make his move - kill one or two, another split second pause, and another kill or few. If Matrix invented the bullet-time, 300 introduced pause-play fights. The first fight was great, second was woohoo! But the third and so on... man, it sort of killed the novelty there. In the Matrix, bullet-time was only deployed twice; but here the pause-play scenes were a bit overused. But that's just my opinion. A good and significant majority of the crowd will continue to be amazed by the fights, and rightfully so.

Gerald Butler lives up to the expectations of his casting as the protagonist king, in acting and fighting. It's probably his best role in Hollywood yet. Lena Headley, however, elegantly makes her mark (and a big one) as an actress - displayed amazing grace and exceptional artistry in her performance as the ballsy queen. Her standing posture (straight back) took me away! But that's just me.

In the supporting cast, Dominic West (Chicago, TV's The Wire) plays a wicked and corrupt senator - something I figured as soon as he was introduced on screen. No offense to the actor as a person, but he manages to fit into wickedy-whackedy shady roles. And that doesn't always have to be a bad thing. I can't see a Jack Nicholson playing a Pope the same way.

David Wenham (Lord of the Rings' Faramir) does a decent job as one of the main Spartan soldiers, so does Vincent Regan. German born Michael Fassbender did a great job as Stelios - one of the bravest and valorous of the 300. The worst actor award for this film would go to Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro, for portraying the Persian king Xerxes. Firstly, they make him a giant, about 8 to 9 feet tall. Secondly, super-feminine with piercings all over the face, including the cheeks. Persian kings were not like that, as far as any historical archive can prove. Besides the appearance, the acting was horrible as well. Plus, he was too feminine to have a deep voice.

Overall, this film would make for an entertaining evening. For those who know their basics of history will already anticipate how this movie ends. They do change some subplots during the movie, with comical causes for exaggerations. It is not directly based on the historical archives but on Frank Miller's graphic comic derived from those, so expect historical and cultural inaccuracies. If you don't give a damn about those, you may just love the movie.

Also, don't get a large drink if you bladder can't hold it throughout the movie. It's at least worth sitting through. My friend saw it in IMAX and enjoyed it thoroughly. I can only imagine the visual enhancements one would get there.

7.5/10 from me, but it could be 9 from you!

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Movie Review: Black Snake Moan

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Christina Ricci, Justin Timberlake, S. Epatha Merkerson and David Banner.
Directed by: Craig Brewer
Genre: Drama/Music
My rating: 8/10

Firstly, welcome to the first blog of this new site.

And secondly, I just got home from watching BLACK SNAKE MOAN and it was a rather enjoyable way to spend a late Saturday evening. Can't say the movie was entirely pleasant, had its disturbing moments, but not something a person who's watched a couple of episodes of Law & Order:SVU couldn't handle.

Set in a small Tennessee town by Memphis, Moan is about a couple of emotionally shattered people who cross paths and end up helping each other. Sam Jackson plays a has-been local bluesman, Laz, living on his farm and dreading his broken marriage and unfaithful wife. Christina Ricci impresses as a rural southern girl, Rae, with a disturbed childhood and overly dependent on her boyfriend (Timberlake) to keep her "urges" in check.

However, when Timberlake's character leaves for a military tour of duty (something we're getting more and more used to nowadays), Rae's urges go out of control and is one day found beaten up on the side of the road. And that geographic location coincidentally happened to be outside Laz's farmhouse. As you may have seen in the trailer, he decides to take her in to personally rehabilitate her and ties her up with a chain and lock to the heater's radiator. He just picked up a bible, opened a random page, read it, and pat came the decision.

If you happen to know of a young disturbed lady with nymphomania, save on health insurance and cash and just send her down to the old bluesman in Memphis whereabouts. The perks: get to eat yummy southern food every day.

Great acting by Jackson and Ricci, decent support from the rest of the cast, good blues music here and there keep the movie going along well without a dull moment. I even had to wait to go to the restroom after drinking my large soda just anticipating something unpredictable would happen. Samuel L. Jackson also did a decent job at singing and strumming the guitar. Christina Ricci fit the role well, but I always thought she's too Italian to play a southern blonde. TV's Law & Order Lt. Anita Van Buren (Merkerson) also performed graciously as Jackson's pharmacist + gradual middle aged love interest. Justin Timberlake, while I'm not a great fan of his music (except for D!ck in a Box which doesn't count) - he's proving to be a fairly decent actor for the roles he's played so far. While I can't see him being the next Frank Sinatra (who won an Oscar), I don't see him being the next actor Elvis either (the reason Razzies exist). Surprisingly, he is originally from Memphis TN, so the accent must have been the easiest part of the job. Mississippi rapper David Banner played a local dope dealer and Rae's friend-with-benefits, and did an alright portrayal of the role. John Coltrane played the local preacher RL, and Laz's, well, only friend and confidant.

The first time I saw the preview for this film was last year before Snakes on a Plane and have been looking forward to it since. Confidently, I'm not disappointed one bit. It did end up being different from what I predicted, and I'm glad. Won't give away any spoilers, and different people would expect differently after just watching previews.

Bravos for pointing out that racial tensions still exist, and blues music is still alive somewhere. And that there still are some men who don't get lured by a half naked, soon to be fully naked, nymph giving in.

8/10. Cheers, and enjoy the movie!