Why Everyone Should Go See “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” in Theaters

Last weekend a movie called “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” was released in theaters world wide. The French science fiction action adventure film has received mixed reviews upon it’s release. I’ll admit I saw it myself and it’s not the best movie I have ever seen. The movie suffers from poor writing and a lackluster plot, but isn’t a complete dud as the visuals and action I actually enjoyed. Now you might be wondering why I am suggesting you go and pay money to see a less then stellar movie. “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” is the most expensive independent movie of all time.

c91e7fee-368c-48c1-a676-c314158821c7

With a budget almost reaching 209 million dollars, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”, is a movie with the highest budget that was not produced by one of the big six production companies. Warner Bros, 20th century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Universal, Sony, and Walt Disney, account for 85% of the North American box office sales. Hollywood has been long ran by the studio system. This presents a problem because even though these are six separate companies they are all ran pretty much the same. They suffer from problems like not taking risks on new big name projects as they are afraid in a large box office loss. I understand that having a built in fan base makes these movies a safer option but still doesn’t insure a box office success. Sequels like “Alice Through the Looking Glass”, “Allegiant”, “Bad Santa 2”, and “Ghostbusters” all reported box office losses in 2016. The Big Six production companies don’t believe audience want to go see new original pictures, and it shows as “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” only made 27 million worldwide. This isn’t going to encourage the Big Six to take chances on unknown properties, and is also make it harder for independent companies to get a high budget for their properties. As people start to grow tired of the unnecessary sequels and unwanted cinematic universes, they will be a need for original big budget movies. The answer of who will supply these big budget independent films is companies like the one that produced”Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”, but they won’t take a chance like that again if it loses millions and millions of dollars. If your a fan of movies or are tired of the current trend in motion pictures please go out and see “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”. You might feel like it’s not worth the price of admission at the time, but I promise your money will go a long way in the future of big budget independent movies.

Advertisements

Song of the Week: Nyck @ Knight “Audiopium” (feat. Pro Era)

This week’s “Song of the Week” is “Audiopium” (feat. Pro Era) by the hip hop duo consisting of Nyck Caution and Kirk Knight. Both members come from the New York based rap collective Pro Era. “Audiopium” features the best Pro Era has to offer including a hook from the most prolific member of Pro Era and one of my personal favorites Joey Bada$$. The song features a heavy beat and Pro Era’s signature east cost style of lyrical rap. The track is on Nyck @ Knight’s debut album. Enjoy!

Song of the Week: Arcade Fire “Electric Blue”

This week’s “Song of the Week” is “Electric Blue” by Arcade Fire. I have never been a huge fan of Arcade Fire but when I discovered this song I instantly feel in love. The blending sound and high pitched vocals makes in a relaxing, chill anthem. “Electric Blue” is the forth single off of Arcade Fire’s highly anticipated upcoming album “Everything Now”, which drops July 28th. I’ll be putting out a “Song of the Week” every Thursday, so come back and hopefully find some new music you will enjoy.

Album Review: Mura Masa gives us a solid debut, but falls short with out big name features

Mura Masa is a twenty-one year old producer and DJ from the small island in the English Chanel, Guernsey. He bursted on the electronic music scene with his 2016 viral hit “Love$ick”. With help from the wildly popular rapper A$AP Rocky, providing his lyrical prowess, the track blew up becoming a favorite among electronic music fans. It’s mix of house and disco with a tropical vibe, which quickly helped the track find it’s way onto all music lovers party playlists. The big name features on Mura Masa’s debut album didn’t stop there with tracks including British pop star Charli XCX, French synth-pop artist Christine and the Queens, and Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn. This doesn’t included my favorite track on the album, which is “All Around The World”. The track features rapper Desiigner, who has been mostly quiet since his 2015 mega hit “Panda”. Desiigner’s unique voice and sound flows perfectly with Mura Masa soothing trap inspired beat.

One of the pleasant surprises Mura Masa brings to the table in the inclusion of Bonzai, an artist that was  never heard of before this album. She is featured on two of my favorite songs on the album, “Nuggets” and “What If I Go”. Bonzai is a twenty year old American singer, that grew up in Dublin Ireland. Bonzai really brings something special to the tracks she is featured on. In a time where female vocalists featured over electronic songs are a dime a dozen, Bonzai seems to have a different sound. This really stands out on “Nuggets”, which gives you the feeling of dancing in a dark english club. I left this album wanting more Bonzai than anything else, and after reading she joined one of my favorite artists today, Flume, on his European tour gives me hope for a collaboration in the future.

What really stands out in the album is Mura Masa’s ability to change up his style for each song. Whether it’s the moody vibe of “Blu” or the upbeat pop aspired “1 Night”, each song comes into it’s own. This keeps the album from becoming repetitive or boring. Mura Masa blends together sounds from hip hop, EDM, house, funk, and disco, so there is a track on the album for everyone. Sadly the same things that make this album different is also where most of its flaws stem from. The songs that are lacking features from big name artists seem to fall short compared to the major hits on the album. Also the contradicting styles from track to track can result in you loving one song, but hating the next. Mura Masa is young and has already brought a different feel and sound to the electronic music scene as people are starting to grow tired to the standard EDM sound that has started control the major electronic music airwaves as a whole. It’s a positive sign seeing Mura Masa bring such a new and different sound in only his first album. We also know that he has some big names that are a fan of this young DJ. I see a bright future for Mura Masa.

Listening Recommendations

  1. “Nuggets” (feat. Bonzai)
  2. “All Around The World” (feat. Desiigner)
  3. “What If I Go”

3 out of 5 Stars

Christopher Nolan is the Most Overrated Director in Hollywood Today

As one of the most successful modern day directors, Christopher Nolan has brought to the screen many critical and commercial success and has complied a large amount of fanboys along the way. I am not the biggest fan of Nolan’s movies, while I will admit that none of his movies are bad, I just don’t understand the unrelenting praise and zero criticism for everything Nolan puts on screen. For those who don’t know Christopher Nolan is a director and cinematographer from London, England, who produces and writes his own movies along with his brother, Jonathan Nolan. In the modern day studio system for a director to be able to do exactly what they want is rare and Nolan’s success is definitely well deserve. This doesn’t change that I believe Nolan’s movies are built on overly confusing plots that are complicated for the sake of complicated. Along with a lack of memorable characters and world building. With Nolan’s ninth film “Dunkirk” (Another World War II movie, exactly what everyone was asking for) coming to theaters this Friday, I wanted to go through each one of his wide released films are explain my problems I have with his films that the average movie goer doesn’t seem to point out. I will skip Nolan’s 2002 film “Insomnia” because I have not seen this film and therefor can’t really give you my opinion on it. Also I’m not referencing the cinematography or visuals in Nolan’s films. Each one of Nolan’s films are a visual spectacle. My critiques and issues from Nolan’s films stem more from storytelling, plot, and characters, so that’s what I will be covering.

download

First up is Nolan’s neo-noir thriller “Memento”. The indie cult classic tells the story of Leonard, who suffers from anterograde amnesia and can’t create new memories. Leonard, played by Guy Pierce, is searching for the man who attacked and killed his wife. The story is told through a series of scenes, one shot in black and white which is shown chronologically, the other is in color which is shown in reverse order. This is suppose to simulating the mental state of Leonard for the audience, but is just the first example of Nolan using a gimmick in place of storytelling. Like most of Nolan’s films the idea of a man with amnesia, using clues he tattoos on himself to extract his revenge is different and interesting, but the nonlinear storyline causes too many storytelling problems for me. For most of “Memento” we are missing a true antagonist for our hero Leonard, and no matter how compelling our protagonist without a driving opposing force it’s hard to get behind him. Our antagonist is either the unseen “John G”, who we find out doesn’t exist in the end or Teddy, the man helping Leonard find “John G”. Due to the confusing narrative, we don’t know where our protagonist stands throughout the film, we can never really decide if Teddy is a friend or foe until the very end. By then it’s too late. In the final scene, where the color and black and white sequences meet, we are given a twist ending. I will keep out of this post just in case you haven’t seen it, so you can watch it and judge yourself, but the twist lacks the significant shock it should have, mostly because of the convoluted storyline up to this point. This is a problem I have with Nolan’s films, it seems he pick substance and complexity over really fleshing out the original idea that got the audience interested in the idea in the first place.

Prestige_poster

Next is the “The Prestige” which follows two stage magicians in London during the 19th century, while they try to one up each other creating the best stage illusion. Like “Memento” again we are not given a proper antagonist, but instead two protagonists that compete against each other throughout the film. The base of most storytelling is a hero vs a villain, it gives the audience a character to root for and character to root against. In “The Prestige” our two main characters swap protagonist and antagonist roles throughout the film and in the end I find myself not enjoying or rooting for either of them. “The Prestige” like most of Nolan’s movies is filled with twists and there is so much going on throughout the film, that the surprise ending once again comes off as unsatisfactory.

download-1

Now for the series of films that brought Nolan’s films to the masses and cemented him as one of Hollywood’s top directors, The Dark Knight Trilogy. I think the best way to describe my feels for The Dark Knight Trilogy is a great sandwich on stale bread. In the middle, we have the masterpiece “The Dark Knight”. I have very little to say about “The Dark Knight”, other than it’s probably the best superhero movie of all time, as well as one of the best sequels of all time. You can see the differences though from the two Nolan films we have already discussed, where a common theme was problems with the antagonist. The Dark Knight gives us one of the best antagonists of all time in Heath Ledger’s Joker. The Joker in “The Dark Knight” gives us a villain that pushes the character development of Batman and is why this film works so well. As for the other two movies in the franchise, they fall quite short, suffering from some of Nolan’s classic elements. Like both “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight Rises” have unnecessary “twists” to throw the audience off. In “Batman Begins” giving Liam Neeson’s, Ra’s al Ghul, a fake name to only revel later that he is the villainous Ra’s al Ghul is pointless misdirection. Nolan lazily does this same thing in “The Dark Knight Rises” with  Miranda Tate, reveling that she is Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter, Talia al Ghul in the final act of the film. This isn’t even “The Dark Knight Rises”  the worst example of Nolan’s need to add twists to films. For those you haven’t seen it the climax of “The Dark Knight Rises” includes Batman sacrificing his life to save Gotham, completing a perfect character arc that Batman has explored over the three films of the franchise. Nolan takes this all away when he revels in the final scene that Batman is actually alive and well living in Florence, Italy. How does this happen? Does it even matter? It doesn’t. It doesn’t further the story, it just adds another unneeded twist, that completely takes away from the climax of the story and the franchise.

MV5BMjAxMzY3NjcxNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTI5OTM0Mw@@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_

Next is “Inception”, the movie that proves if you have a cool idea, does it really matter how the story plays out surrounding that cool idea. “Inception” follows dream extractors, that steal ideas from people’s subconscious while dreaming. Some many people love this movie because they think it’s cool, and yes the idea of secret dream agents traveling through dream levels stealing information, like a heist movie with thoughts, is a great idea. I can see why people love it, but behind the core concept and great visuals is a movie that goes nowhere and filled with empty characters. If you don’t think it’s filled with empty characters here is a list of high grade actors in “Inception”, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, and Michael Caine. What were their characters doing throughout the movie? Do you remember? I don’t, because what they were doing didn’t matter. It didn’t further the story, they were just there to be there, like pawns. By far my biggest problem with “Inception” is the open ending. We are left to fill in the blanks on our own, it’s lazy storytelling. Throughout “Inception” we follow Leonardo DiCaprio’s character and he is a great main character, I’m rooting for him. I want to find out what happens to him, and to leave it in an open ending makes his story feel not complete to me. It makes me feel like Nolan didn’t have a twist for this script so he just decided not to finish it. Yes, it left me wanting more, but the story was over. There was nothing left to tell except for that last unfinished scene.

download-2

Finally Nolan’s latest release the space epic “Interstellar”. My opinion of “Interstellar” is different than the rest of Nolan’s movies, the story is pretty solid and most of the characters are fleshed out. My biggest complaint about “Interstellar” is that I find it extremely boring. There is so much science mumbo jumbo is this movie. I know that actually a lot of it is scientifically accurate, which I applaud Nolan for, but like most of the movie going public I know very little about wormholes in the first place. The casting of Matthew McConaughey is confusing to me if Nolan is going to accuracy and believability. He made it scientifically accurate to make the audience to believe as if it could really happen, and then I’m suppose to believe that Matthew McConaughey is an astronaut. I might be nitpicking here, but it seems a little far fetched to me.

Nolan has proved time and time again that he was some of the most unique ideas in Hollywood today. He also has been able to mix elements of independent filmmaking and has still be able to put up huge box office numbers. It’s just a shame he focuses more on surprise endings and complicated plots instead of characters development. Mixed with his visuals, all of Nolan’s movies had and still have the chance to be instant classics and with more complete characters Nolan will be able to achieve that. Let’s hope “Durkirk”, a film that looks like is more focused on visuals has some strong characters to get behind.

Album Review: “4:44” is the Closest Thing We are Going to Get to Old Jay-Z

It’s been about two weeks since Hov released his latest album “4:44”, and it has taken me some time to come to a final verdict on Jay’s thirteenth feature album. Whether that is because it was a Tidal exclusive and I’m an Apple Music user or that it’s a deeply complex album that requires a few listen throughs to get the real picture Jay-Z is trying to paint. I’d like to start off by saying I really did enjoy “4:44”, even though it wasn’t Jay’s best outing. When most people look at “4:44” they focus on Jay-Z long awaited response to Beyonce’s “Lemonade”, an album which strongly hinted at the couple’s problems and issues which mostly stemmed from Jay-Z’s infidelity. This is addressed throughout the album, but mostly in the title track “4:44”. “4:44” is definitely a highlight track of the album, but the true star is producer No I.D’s soulful samples and beats, which pair beautifully with Hova’s legendary flow.

The Chicago based producer, No I.D., produces the entirety of “4:44” and uses samples of R&B legends such as Nina Simone and Stevie Wonder which gives the album a classic feel to it. The soothing beats make the album approachable to new and old Jay-Z fans alike and everyone should be able to find at least one song they play over and over again. For me that track is “Caught Their Eyes”, which uses a sample of Nina Simone’s “Baltimore” and an always welcomed feature from Frank Ocean. Jay-Z discusses the exploitation of the late great Prince after his death. I really enjoyed hearing Jay-Z’s opinion on the treatment of a music legend after his death. You can see how Jay-Z wonders about his legacy and questions how he will be remembered. This is a common theme on “4:44” and is by far one of the most interesting aspects of the album. You can tell that this is the mogul Jay-Z rapping, the billionaire Jay-Z rapping. We have heard from this Jay-Z before on 2013’s “Magna Carta Holy Grail”. What makes “4:44” far superior, is that this album truly feels like New York and let’s be honest Jay-Z is New York and New York IS Jay-Z.

Another stand out track is “Family Feud” featuring Beyonce. This immediately hops to the top of couple shared tracks along with “03 Bonny and Clyde” and “Crazy in Love”. Hov delivers by far my favorite lyric of the album here. Jay-Z raps “y’all stop actin’ brand new/Like Tupac ain’t have a nose ring too, huh”. In this line Jay-Z firmly stands behind some of the new faces of rap like Young Thug and Lil Uzi Vert, who have faced some flack recently from older members hip hop community for their flamboyant and rocker influenced style. It’s nice to see Jay-Z support the younger stars of the game and give his blessing to the way the genre is heading. Some listeners speculate that Jay-Z tossed shots at his estranged friend Kanye West in “Kill Jay-Z” . These rumors are only furthered in Kanye’s erupted exit of his contract of Jay-Z owned Tidal. Whether the two former friends will settle their beef or Kanye responses in his follow up to “The Life of Pablo”, music fans are definitely in for a treat.

A strong theme of the album is the current state of America, which isn’t a surprise from maybe one of the most influential rappers of all time. Jay-Z discusses still being treated differently as a black man in America even though he is a billionaire. Jay-Z references this in the track “Moonlight”, where he compares his treatment to the 2017 Oscar Moonlight/La La Land mix up. The track was co-written by the former Fugee members Lauryn Hill and Wyclef Jean. The Caribbean influences don’t stop there, we also get another track “Bam” which features reggae god Bob Marley’s youngest son Damian Marley. Jay-Z faces another one America’s most polarizing issues in “Smile”, where he explains his growth and acceptance of his mother’s sexuality.

In closing “4:44” might not reach the heights of his 2001 historical album “The Blueprint”, but it’s hard to top what I consider one of the best rap albums of all time. Jay-Z is one of those few artists where middle of the road Jay-Z, is better than no Jay-Z. “4:44” produces many good songs and maybe a classic here or there. Only time will tell. “4:44” gives us that old Jay-Z feel, and by far our best Jay-Z album since the early 2000’s.

Listening Recommendations

  1. “Caught in Their Eyes” (featuring Frank Ocean)
  2. “Family Feud” (featuring Beyonce)
  3. “Bam” (featuring Damian Marley)

4 out of 5 Stars

Welcome!

Hey everyone! My name is Joey Casale, I’m the creator and main writer for “Frizzled Psyche”, a blog I created to express my opinions on music, movies, TV, sports, and just media in general. I have always had a habit of analyzing music and movies, and have been writing reviews of media I have consumed for years now. Until now I have only wrote on my laptop for no audience because I haven’t had a platform to share my writing on. Part of the reason I decided to create “Frizzled Psyche” is that I started to feel that writing only for myself is equivalent to yelling at the TV or talking to myself, so even if one other person reads this I would consider it a success. I also hope to hone in my writing skills, and nothing helps improve your writing then writing everyday. So I don’t know if a lot of people are going to read this or if anyone is going to read this at all, but I plan on posting articles multiple times a week for a few months and then see where we stand after that. Including myself I have a few friends that are also interested in sharing some of their writings, which I feel will give “Frizzled Psyche” a wide range of voices on many different subjects. I don’t have much of a plan, but I will be starting out by posting a “Song of the Week”, every week on Wednesday and album reviews on some of the summer’s biggest albums and movies. I hope to build a small following of readers and suggests or tips on content are always welcome. Thank you for reading. Peace.