Monday, October 29, 2012

Another Earth and Moon Movie Reviews

As I continue on my quest of movie awesomeness, I have encountered two space movies yet again. What's different about these two is they don't deal with the impending doom of the Earth for once. They are more of the sit back and think type of movie. So I now bring you, Another Earth and Moon.

Another Earth (2011)
This movie is about as independent as you can get and manages to create a beautiful movie despite the low budget. I only heard of this movie through a compilation trailer and was immediately interested.

The story follows a young college student named Rhoda (Brit Marling, who also wrote the movie), as she crosses paths with a famous music composer in a tragic way all while the Earth realizes they aren't alone in the Solar System. Coming into plain site, a "twin" Earth is discovered and has come into the plain of site.

It would really be a shame to spoil any of the plot to this movie because the intersecting storyline is incredible and so important to the film (so really pay attention when you watch.) What I will say is at some point contact is made between the Earth's, and they realize just how similar both of them are.

Rhoda was studying astronomy in college before her unfortunate accident happened which ultimately ended her education. However, she won a contest held by NASA to visit "Earth 2."

Here's where the movie gets confusing in a good way. The ending is simply incredible, and nothing really happens. It's left up to the viewer to decide if what they just saw happened, or not. I've spent much time on message boards trying to interpret the ending, and no one answer seems right.

Another Earth is easily one of my favorite films on this list so far, and writer/actress, Brit Marling has a bright future in front of her.

IMDB - 7/10
TheSIBandGuy - 4.7/5

Moon (2009)
Moon is a similar movie to Another Earth, in it's more of something to get you to think besides the obvious space connection. In this movie, Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), is a scientist who is living on the Moon for three years in order to harvest Helium-3 and send it back to Earth as a fuel source. Sam is alone on this mission and only communicates with his robot/computer companion, GERTY (Kevin Spacey). Unable to directly communicate with Earth, GERTY and Sam form a close relationship although one of them isn't real...maybe...

The acting by Sam Rockwell is great. He is pretty much the only person ever on screen, and does a convincing job of someone who has clearly been isolated for too long. Spacey's character is just a computer, so it is only his voice, but even his tone is perfect. He reminds me of the computer HAL from Space Odyssey 2001.

This movie is filed with a couple of great plot twists. It's also important to note that it takes place in the future so some of these twists involve thinking about where we would have come as a civilization.

Moon offers a compelling look at loneliness, fear, and mistrust as Sam learns everything is not what it really seems to be.

You must check this movie out for the sheer brilliance of the acting and simple premise.

IMDB - 8/10
TheSIBandGuy - 4/5

Both of these movies were among the favorites I've watched. They are grouped together for having to do with space, but also not being about the end of the world. Instead they focus on advancing the Earth. These films were very much under the radar and did not boast huge budgets, but were very effective in their stoytelling.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Melancholia and the Quiet Earth Movie Reviews

Melancholia (2011)

Melancholia is a rather intriguing independent movie starring Kirsten Dunst (Justine), Kiefer Sutherland (John), and Charlotte Gainsbourg (Claire).

The movie opens up seemingly happy and a bit comical as we see two newlyweds, Justine and Michael, on the way to their wedding reception. After a series of funny and "cute" married couple moments they wander into the reception about an hour late.

It is there that things begin to take a turn for the bizzarre as we see Justine's true traits come out while around other people. She suffers from some sort of depression or bi-polar disorder and can't make any rational decisions once she gets into one of her moods.

What is supposed to be the best day of her life turns into a total disaster and embarrassment as the wedding and hours old marriage comes to a crumble...but wait, that's not the main plot of the movie.

Justine's brother-in-law, John, is a scientist, and along with the rest of the world has seen a new planet in the sky, Melancholia. The planet is a greenish hue and appears to be moving past the Earth when suddenly it changes direction and starts on a collision course that will wipe out humanity.

The rest is up to you to see! No spoilers here! However, Justine's character becomes a background to the bigger problem at hand, and her sister, Claire comes to be more prominent in the second half of the movie.

The film is actually quite fascinating and visually beautiful with vibrant colors and an opening and closing montage that really makes you happy to have HD. Dunst easily becomes one of the most disliked characters to ever be on screen, and that is due to her superb acting. She makes you hate her, and that's the point.

IMDB - 7.2/10
TheSIBandGuy - 3.5/5

The Quiet Earth (1985)

This is a very unknown gem of a movie made in New Zealand on a budget of $1,000,000. The movie has no major stars and only features three actors the whole movie. It is one of the most simple movies I've seen, yet is so effective in it's storytelling.

The Quiet Earth opens with a man waking up to a world where he is the only person left. As weeks go by he descends into a mild insanity as he can't figure out how to cope with being the "ruler" of the world. Eventually he finds a woman and they quest off together until they run into a renegade of a man.

The movie is devoid of much sound and music aside from what they are listening to themselves within the movie. It's just an empty movie just like the world they inhabit. It sounds boring, but it is incredibly awesome to watch.

You grow attached to the main character, Zac Hobson (Bruno Lawrence) and want to see him succeed in this end of days scenario.

The cause of this human wipeout is a bit confusing to follow, but in short it has to do with some sort of time-warp dimension that scientist were fooling around with. The results of this experiment vanished everyone save for a few people who were experiencing things at the right time.

One of the best scenes of the film is the closing title screen when Zac finds himself on a beach and on a new planet. Saturn is rising in the horizon and there are breathtaking cloud formations rising with the sun – truly a great outro for a crazy film.

IMDB - 7/10
TheSIBandGuy - 3.5/5

I chose to group these two movies together for the obvious end of the world situations, but also for the character development and unresolved issues of the players involved in the films. Melancholia is two totally different movies. The whole first half it shows you a clearly not all there Dunst while in the second half of the movie shifts to the other characters and the diasater at hand. There's no cure or hope for Dunst except for her waiting to die.

In The Quiet Earth, we see the main character Zac unable to cope with himself. He tries to play the survival card and look for others but fails. Dunst thrives by herself, Zac truly comes alive when he has a companion, opposite spectrums.

Overall, these are must see movies if you are looking for low budget well made quickies. Both movies start off slow, but give them time and you'll get sucked in.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Royal Guard Interview - Bringing Straight Up Rock and Roll to Everyone

Where does the Royal Guard name come from, and why pick the theme?
Apparently, every name we came up with happened to be taken, Foo Fighters, Def Leppard, Green Day, etc... So when we saw that The Royal Guard was still available, we jumped on it!

Is the band a continuation of the Todd Davidson Band, or is this something entirely new?
It's not as much of a continuation as it is an extension. The Royal Guard has definitly become it's own entity even though the song writing is still mainly done by Todd, every one brings their own unique talents to the table.

How did you all get together and what dynamic do you each bring to the table? 
Our friendships go back to childhood. It just so happened, that we all wanted to become rock stars! As for the dynamics, Todd is the comic relief. The scenarios of what could go wrong in a simple everyday situation, are endless. Despite the fact that Andy is a mad scientist and the greatest virtuoso any of us have ever met, he's the most laid back of us all. Fred is most likely to go for his doctorate next. Finally, Vin brings his good looks and a  Facebook status "single," and he's the only fighting chance we have against all boy bands!

Rockstars by night, what do you all do during the day?
If you saw us during the day, you most likely will find Todd playing with his model trains, Fred reading a book, Andy soldering, and Vin hitting a home run! Oh ..or did you mean how do we pay our bills?

What would you label your sound, and are there any bands you guys model yourselves after? 
We like to think of ourselves as a rock band. We like Muse, Green Day, My Chemical Romance and The Foo Fighters, and lots of 80's hair bands. All this comes to play in our music.

What's the whole point of your music? What's the message, and why is it so important to you?
The whole point of our music is that you have to follow your dreams. You've got to find something in life that you love and do it. For us it's music!

What is the goal of the band and where do you see yourselves in the future?
The goal of the band is that we want our music to be heard. We hope to see ourselves on big stages.

The band's fan-base has been growing as of late. Tell me about some of your recent opportunities?
We've been working a lot with Loaded Rock Shows playing venues on Long Island.

Are there any plans of touring? Recording?
We have some new songs that we've been introducing at our live shows. We are just getting started with pre-production for a new album. But until then, our main focus is playing live and introducing our latest album, Showdown.

On Nov 4, we have a show with Candlebox at a brand new venue in Long Island, The Emporium. There's a lot of buzz around this show because it's the first rock show to be held there. We're very excited to be on that bill!

Tell us about the album you have out now.
The name of the album is Showdown and it features the best of The Royal Guard. We had a lot of fun writing these songs and recording them. We believe that it will bring out the "air guitarist" in you!

In one quick sentence, why should listeners give the Royal Guard a chance?
We believe the listener will receive in return. It's original, it's creative. It will definitely be worth your time.

Anything you'd like to add?
We always put a great effort into our live shows because we want you to have just as much fun at the show as we do.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Heroes Drops Their First Full Length Album, 'The Compassion'

Local Staten Island Hardcore band Heroes just dropped their first full length album, The Compassion, and trust me, you don't want to miss it!

Consisting of band members: Nick Vitale (Vocals), Chris Benne (Guitar/Vocals), Peter Martingano (Guitar/Vocals), Nick Colella (Bass), and Paul Pipitone (Drums), this five piece is taking over the hardcore scene by storm, by mixing melodic and well driven instrumentals to break up the monotony seen from a lot of bands in the same genre.

The Compassion was released on September 17 on Contain Records with a heavy tour to come in the works.

The album opens up on a pretty unique note. "Intro" is like a really cool post-hardcore instrumental that almost fools the listener into thinking this will be the sound on the album. Then it breaks into a really fast paced punk sequence that dives further into what you'll hear before getting your face ripped off. Yeah, it's pretty awesome!

Next up is "One More Time." This song feels like an old Thrice song from The Illusion of Safety. The guitar work on this track is infectious and is a great start to the album.

Skipping ahead a bit to "Ancestors," this track is one big heavy breakdown. Lyrically, the words go punch for punch with the music. All you can really do is just nod your head. "They hope that we see what once was/ The compassion is not in our eyes/ Our fate is in one place."

"Frequency" harkens back to the intro and is reminiscent of something Moving Mountains would play, a nice little interlude before kicking down the door again with the next track, "Crossing Over."

Skip ahead to "Choke Hold" and you'll find Heroes at their angstiest and angriest. The music is brutal and the vocals are even more so, "Let this f****** end/ Hate fills my veins/ Punishing starts now/ Don't say a word/ Now this is what you made/ Look at what you did/ And all this tension here won't kill me."

"Subsister" has a punkier sound compared to some of the tracks, and vocally there's a lot of good dynamic on the track with different types of screaming mixing with clean spoken vocals.

"Survivors Guilt" is pretty awesome because it mixes the softer interludes with some background screaming. The distant screams of "I don't know what I will turn into/ But the panic seems to always settle in/ Thinking has been torture/ I just want to be safe" has a really cool effect on the song and adds depth.

Overall The Compassion is a great first effort by the guys in in Heroes. The transitions between the soft and skillful played interludes that lead into the shrill beat-down hardcore songs is great. So please please please, check out Heroes and pick up The Compassion.