Monday, January 16, 2012

Devon #10 = Contraband

What happens when you take a critically successful Icelandic film and have its lead actor direct an American remake starring Mark Wahlberg? Not a whole lot.

Contraband has a lot of things going for it. It has a realistic and non ironically gritty tone, caused by its characters feeling like normal, immoral, bland criminals (but in a good way) and a plot that keeps to real world logic... for a while anyways. Marky Mark's (sorry, I had to) character is just trying to repay a debt that his semi-scumbag brother in law owes to a mobster. Said mobster, played by a wonderfully cast Giovanni Ribisi, is a very well written character, with a back story that is left to the viewer to figure out on their own. He is scary, yet still clearly a weak man, which adds a sad reality to him. The film subtly foreshadows its major twist and second villain very early on, showing a cleverness that most action movies lack.In fact, the whole thing could really be called a thinking mans gritty action flick... again, for a while. The main characters heist only requires them to be creative in hiding the, uh, contraband, while all the action occurs around them. They are merely passive observers. These really are interesting elements that could lead to a unique film. But then the third act hits.

The main problem here is the massive change in tone. Before the last twenty minutes, Contraband is a dark film with families being threatened and hurt, and drugs and crime rampant. Hell, one major player is beaten, threatened, and almost raped, all done viscerally and simply because they were in the wrong place. But than suddenly Wahlberg turns into McGuyver, the bad guys get their comeuppance, and the day is saved. Things lose all semblance of reality. And, in the final plot twist... well I wont ruin it, but it's hilarious. Completely screws with the tone of things, but hilarious, given the setup, and would have worked completely in a less serious heist film like Oceans 11. If things were changed around, if the hero didn't save the day, if the movie had gone all the way with showing that crime doesn't pay, I would have loved it. The tone would have stayed dark and gritty, and reached a violent, haunting crescendo to make Contraband something more than typical Hollywood fare. Its the sudden lack of momentum caused by this tonal shift that kills the credibility of the film, making what could have been a dark, purposeful tale into an unrealistic, dumbed down piece of Hollywood schlock.

This film is like Frankenstein's monster, an old movie resurrected from the dead, and stitched together from different styles. It was so close to being great. I would not recommend it, unless you are a big fan of heist flicks and want to see something a little different (save for the last act), then it might be worth your twelve bucks. Otherwise, this is one to skip.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

FTRK #69 = "Potential For Anything" by Souleye

Potential for Anything - Souleye (2012)

Epic siren, pitter patter apreggi intro, classy buildup into swingin' rhythm. Potential For Anything is a radical throwback to the chiptune era. Featured in the indie title VVVVVV, the track acts as chlorophyl for the vibrant nature of the atariesque game. The track is soaked in emotive tones and especially lively with its dynamic tempo.

Further Listening:
Official Website
Official Bandcamp

FTRK #68 = "Mer" by Chelsea Wolfe

Mer - Chelsea Wolfe (2011)

Fresh off her latest album Ἀποκάλυψις (Apokalypsis), Chelsea Wolfe summons a brilliant Rorschach of interwoven drum, snare and an entranced guitar. The malade nature of her voice reaches back and forth like a boat rocking amongst waves curiously sifted through the effect of multiple vocal takes. The official video (below) does an excellent job of portraying the marvelousness of the song and emphasises its effect, chilling yet vibrant like nightshade.

Official video directed by Zev Deans

Further Listening:
Official Website
Official MySpace

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

FTRK #67 = "Power of Persuasion" by Oneohtrix Point Never

Power of Persuasion - Oneohtrix Point Never

A drama that comes together as it breaks apart. The cycle of life and death. Something beautiful soaked in teardrop rainfall. Oneohtrix is an artist in weaving sounds that beg for warmth, something to cling to for a shred of sympathy. The piano roll and synth flybys work like water and oil mixed into a vinegarette of dreamlike texture.

Further Listening:
Official Website
Official Soundcloud