Ministry – From Beer to Eternity (2013)

From Beer to Eternity

Isn’t Ministry over? The spurs hung up last year? In 2007? Even longer in terms of relevancy or inspiration for some older fans no doubt anyway, right? For the past five years, the band’s all-encompassing front man, Al Jourgensen has been saying just this. No more Ministry and no more original Ministry music. Hmm. Seems you just can’t keep a good (or aging, drug warped, bored or broke – whichever the new reason to produce another record) man down and even though it’s probably not surprising Al went back into the studio after 2012’s mediocre, Relapse (FBTE constitutes the trifecta of “final” albums for the band), the actual reasoning behind From Beer to Eternity is a poignant one and a worthy finale and epitaph. Not just for the band, but for Al and his long-time guitarist and collaborator, Mike Scaccia, who died on stage at the end of last year, just three days after finishing studio sessions laying down the rough tracks of this record. So in that sense, let’s hope this time, it is the end, allowing Jourgensen to redeem some of the band’s legacy with a surprisingly killer final long player.

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Pacific Rim (2013): Review Link

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Once again, the good people at film/TV/literature website, The Artifice, were kind enough to publish my review of Guillermo Del Toro’s blockbuster, Pacific Rim. A highly anticipated (by me) live action Mecha vs. Kaiju epic.

Check the review out over HERE.

Man of Steel (2013)

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In 2006, director Bryan Singer was given the reigns to reboot the DC Comics Superman franchise which, at the time, seemed long overdue. A new Clark Kent was found to replace the iconic Christopher Reeve interpretation from Richard Donner’s original film (and its woeful sequels) and a fresh vision of probably the most well-known comic book character ever was on its way. Singer was a big fan of Superman – a very big fan. His approach was to not make a new origin story and ended up producing what felt like a follow on from the 1978 film. Such was his love and respect for Donner’s movie, everything about Superman Returns felt like homage, right down to the title cards and the original score left untouched. A new love-triangle story was evolved but ultimately it felt like a re-tread. Many didn’t find much to like in Singer’s film, but I actually quite enjoyed it. I felt it had a classic feel, an old-fashioned approach to its direction and a subtle, story-driven plot. Not to mention a great lead in Brandon Routh.

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The Joy Formidable – Wolf’s Law (2013)

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For my money, The Joy Formidable are one of the most interesting and exciting bands to come out of the rock scene in the last decade. For all the hipster clichés that inhabit so much music that is lauded by so many alleged faux-authorities on indie rock, TJF actually feel like the real deal, making diverse, original and loud rock music. Blending indie aesthetics with fuzzed up psychedelia and an attitude akin to My Bloody Valentine or Sonic Youth, with a Smashing Pumpkins type melancholy also present in their style. At least that was their debut album, 2011’s The Big Roar and prior EP, A Balloon Called Mourning. The much-anticipated follow-up from the Welsh trio, Wolf’s Law, shifts their stance bit. Having received a decent amount of exposure and attention in independent circles due to those extraordinary releases, the band have capitalised and by the sounds of it, endeavoured to see where they can take this “thing”, producing an album much more streamlined, polished and filled with songs that almost sound unremarkable in comparison to earlier work. Is it a “safe” second album? Maybe, as it will possibly garner a fresh fan base, but is it a compromised and crap album then? Well, not at all, but it may take a while to appreciate what, if any type of achievement Wolf’s Law is. The core members of the band have been around longer than it seems, and here and now, shenanigans are over and we have a serious attempt at breaking through.

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Django Unchained (2012)

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This is an extra long review than usual, so thanks for your patience if you get through it! Ultimate thanks go to MissNJ! for the edit.

Quentin Tarantino has never been shy about his love for the Spaghetti Western, nor his being influenced by the likes of Sam Peckinpah and Sergio Leone. A lot of that influence has crept into his previous films, including Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill and Inglorious Basterds. The director has also demonstrated his love for Blaxploitation-era cinema in the past with the likes of Jackie Brown. All these elements and genre styles make their way into his latest epic, Django Unchained. For all its expected whimsical dialogue, quirky visual nuances and clever edits, the film eventually becomes the closest thing to Tarantino (finally) producing his very own literal meld of Blaxploitation and Spaghetti Western; and to view it in any other way would be a mistake, doing one of the most recognizable and popular American directors a disservice. There is no need to be confused, take overly seriously or, god forbid, be offended by Django. A film of two distinct halves, if you do make it through the often brisk but occasionally gruelling 165 minutes to the post credits visual quip, the main thing you should be, is entertained.

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The Master (2012); Review Link.

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The good people at film/TV/literature website, The Artifice, were kind enough to publish my review of Paul Thomas Anderson’s highly anticipated The Master. I guess I was pretty late to the game with it as it was released two months ago, but I was unable to catch it in its initial run. Determined to see it on the cinema screen, I had to wait until Camelot Outdoor screened it last weekend to finally catch the best film of 2012 the way it was meant to be.

Check the review out over HERE.

Killing Them Softly (2012)

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Where to begin on Killing Them Softly? This is a good film. Maybe even a great one. But there is plenty that hampers it. Perhaps a brief synopsis will help but not a lot really happens so maybe it won’t. The film initially centres around Frankie (played by up-and-comer Scoot McNairy) and Russell (Aussie Ben Mendelsohn who actually gets to play it Australian) as a pair of young crims, the latter a dog walking heroin addict, who rob a poker game that has more consequences both expected and not for everyone involved. Enter Brad Pitt’s hitman, Jackie Coogan, often seen conversing with mafia spokesperson Richard Jenkins and enlisted old-schooler, Mickey (James Gandolfini). They’re here to do a job but times are tough. Set to the backdrop of the 2008 Presidential election campaign, Killing Them Softly is ultimately about economics. Or at least it wants to be.

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