Tuesday, July 20, 2010

mojito - A Genres & Judgments Mixture

Playlists used to be one of my grand specialties in another age, mainly of the 90-minute cassette tape. Hadn't made one for at least 5 years before this one, so I'm probably rusty, but dig it nonetheless.

This being a particularly sweltering mid-July in the Northeast, I had summer on the gray matter. So as I sat in my new apartment and somehow resisted turning on the A/C to keep my dollars in tow for autumn, I cobbled together some of the best music that was new to me in the last two or three months. And I only cheated once with The Explorers Club with that time frame, but they just scream summer and begged for inclusion.

There's a decent mix of styles here which I feel encapsulates the spirit of summer from the mad jam of a house party, to the longing crush you won't see for months, to the drink that tastes just a little better on a day with a high dew point, to the realization that fall's about to kick in and you better enjoy the heat while you still can. I tossed in two fantastic covers (Bob Dylan & Buddy Holly), and limited myself to only two tracks from Best Coast (my current musical obsession).

Btw, I just discovered blip.fm. So if you're feeling so inclined, become one of my listeners to see what music I'm into at any given moment. Without further delay, I present mojito.

Track list and download link after the jump.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Reel Low: The Last Airbender

It’s hard to imagine a movie can fail in as many ways as M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Last Airbender” does.  Given the apparent rich source material, it makes me question Shyamalan’s ability as a film maker and as a storyteller.

“The Last Airbender” is the first of what is presumably a trilogy of films adapting the three television seasons of “Avatar: The Last Airbender”, which tells the story of the boy Aang who is the last of the Air Nomads and prophesied savior of the world.  Aang has been trapped in ice for the past 100 years having run away from his duties as the avatar.  While he’s been on ice, the world has been devastated by war as the Fire Nation has moved to subjugate the world under its fist.  Now that Aang has resurfaced, the armies of the Fire Nation and its dishonored prince pursue him to prevent him from thwarting their plans.  Aang and his newfound friends, Katara and Sokka, set off on a journey so that Aang might learn to bend the other elements and become the hero the world needs.

A pretty standard setup that looks great on paper but is so poorly executed it makes me wonder how Shyamalan was unable to do anything great with it.  The dialogue is poorly scripted and often gives characters lines describing actions the audience has just seen on screen seconds earlier.  I like to think audiences haven’t become that inattentive.  There also seemed to be some disagreement on how names and words should be pronounced, most being pronounced in a way that makes me think the actors were trying to sound either smart or Brittish.

The action scenes felt clunky and poorly shot with a lot of the wire-work standing out as wire-work.  There is little about them that builds tension or excitement.  The only thing about the action scenes and the movie in general that really worked was the music.  Also, Shaun Toub’s performance as Uncle Iroh was one of the few shining points, breathing the only sense of humor into an overall dull atmosphere.

Before “The Last Airbender” came out, there was controversy over casting Caucasians in ethnic roles.  Now that it is out, it can be said that is least of the film’s problems.  This movie was lacking in so many ways that it’s (hopefully) doubtful that the other two seasons will get covered.  If they do have a go at them, I hope they can bring someone else on board who might be able to salvage the mess Shyamalan has left in his wake.