Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Midnight In Paris

This isn't Woody Allen's first time dealing with escapism and fantasy, but it still remains refreshing to new and old audiences' of his. In 1972 he wrote and starred in Play It Again, Sam, which is my favourite Allen movie simply because it is his funniest and portrays his love for cinema. Midnight In Paris is another Allen nostalgia package, but concentrates on literary artists rather than movie icons such as Humphrey Bogart. His latest film is also very funny, regardless if you are familiar with Hemingway, Fitzgerald, T.S. Elliot, Picaso etc... It is the artists of Paris in the 1920s that are handing out the advice rather than the stars of 1940s Hollywood.

What is so brilliant about Allen's new venture is how the movie was promoted, there was no spoiler in the trailer so the audience had no idea what to expect and was just as surprised as Owen Wilson's character Gil, a recyclable Hollywood writer, who is successful, but unsatisfied. He and his to be wife, Inez (Rachel McAdams) are on vacation in Paris with Inez' parents, a pair of strict republicans. Gil is inspired by the city and its artistic history, while Inez and her family see it as a place to shop, wine and dine and thats it. There is obvious tension between the couple, which is enhanced when the pretentious Paul shows up, "and if I'm not mistaken" played by Michael Sheen.

After a day trapped with Paul and Inez, Gil decides to take a stroll, which ends up been a time portal at the stroke of midnight and he finds himself in 1920s Paris with Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Cole Porter and Ernest Hemingway. When Gil finally, after humorous questioning, realizes that he is in fact not insane, he is like a kid on Christmas. Owen Wilson plays the Woody character perfectly, he's neurotic, shy, excitable and so enthusiastic in his role.

Even if you have no interest in that period in Paris or the artists involved, this movie can relate to anyone, who desires to have lived in a different era whether it be the 60s San Francisco, 70s Hollywood or Renaissance Italy. Allen, through Gill, elaborates about how everyone in their particular era wants to live  through a different time and culture, but it would never really pan out the way you want it to. Still Allen makes it fun to try.

Woody Allen is already a legend in cinema, but he continues to make films with his signature humour and style that we have come to love. He is always picking at the fabric of society and relationships, the way we act, our culture and mannerisms and he is never afraid to do express it through fantasy. For a small Jewish nerd, he has always stood his ground in making films the way he wants to regardless of what studios or audiences think.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Tyler, the Creator: Goblin

Now here's a nasty little number...Tyler, the Creator's first major label record Goblin is much more disturbing and much less accessible than its predecessor Bastard.  People that didn't like Tyler or Wolf Gang before this will probably not change their mind after this listen. Even for the cult followers it might take time to get settled into. Its not necessarily the misogynist, racist or violent content that will cut off listeners, but the music is much more minimal and experimental than that of Bastard's. Goblin is also one of the most personal hip-hop albums ever. Whether real or fiction, Tyler isn't afraid to share his personal perceptions of himself through topics related to his mother and absent father, his love interest, his rise to marginal fame or his suicidal thoughts.

The album picks up where it left off on Bastard on the title track Goblin with Tyler in conversation with his "therapist" in which he discusses the pressure he is feeling by becoming marginally famous and barking out his feelings on his fan's and critic's perceptions of him. Tyler hates the fact that his music is labelled "horrorcore" and that people expect him to be influenced by "real hip-hop" i.e. Golden or New York renaissance era, when in fact he doesn't want to stay underground and is inspired by Waka Flocka Flame, Pusha T, Pharell and Eminem. He clearly doesn't want to be categorized and it is fresh to hear an artist not just go with the flow or be pressured to homage an era of hip-hop that didn't appeal to his generation.

The obscene and shocking lyrics are present here too and best portrayed on Tron Cat (another one of Tyler's aliases) with production reminiscent of Clipse's Trill, which is like a soundtrack for Shredder from Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles (another group of rebel teens). "wolves I know you heard of us/we murderers/and young enough to get the fucking priests to come flirt with us" Tyler proudly states at the beginning, then later raps "rape a pregnant bitch and tell my friends I had a threesome", later followed by  "I cut her like a barber with Parkinsons disorder". These rhymes are taboo, but more creative than most lyrics you hear nowadays. He also compares himself to "wetbacks" running across the border and prefers snorting Hitler's ashes to coke. Tron Cat is possibly the best and most accessible track on the album regardless of its grim content.

The tirade of Tron Cat is followed by Her, which is possibly one of the most relatable and personal songs ever in hip-hop. Its a simple premise, Tyler like a girl, who sleeps around with other guys and is hurled into a state of self pity because she doesn't feel the same for him. The rejection is common enough in music, but Tyler's description goes into great emotional detail with complete honesty. "closest I got was poking her on Facebook" he claims, and admits that he wants the corny dates at the movies etc... rather than just looking for sex. Tyler is completely vulnerable and desperate here saying that he wants to send her a text of jealous rage, but admitting that he would just smile when she replies. Not many hardcore rappers or even your average guy would admit that. Tyler also admits that when he is confronted about his friends about her, he is too embarrassed to say he got rejected so he lies and said she moved away. An interesting factor is that Tyler doesn't rape or kill the girl.

Near the end of the album, Tyler kills all his friends and has an emotional breakdown on Golden. Tyler's snarl and the apocalyptic beat make it a chaotic, paranoid and schizophrenic 5 minutes where it is finally revealed that Tyler's therapist is in fact himself questioning and evaluating himself. After listening to Golden it is evident how much he respects and appreciates his mother, and how much he misses his best friend and now cult exile Earl. Tyler also illustrates how unsatisfied and unfulfilled he is with his work and life. 

Musically, Goblin is minimal and much less fun than Bastard, which should be expected since Tyler said before that he makes music for himself, but he also wants to win VMAs and Grammy's so he is making it hard on himself. Yonkers and Tron Cat stand out as most accessible for mainstream listeners. I really liked the album for its brutal honesty and aggressive flow from Tyler. My only complaint is the rebel attitude on Radicals just because its boring and old news, and they are 10 years late attacking Bill O'Reilly, who everyone already knows he is a prick. N.W.A and Eminem met that expectation, but Tyler and Odd Future can't fill those shoes because its not their time, their time is for attacking rap blogs and reaching the masses through Twitter, tumblr or Facebook. Personally I prefer when Tyler is narrating taboo tales of murder and rape or verbally attacking blogger faggots like me.