March 17, 2007

Lately I've been watching a lot of Alien. Last year when I watched the quadrilogy? quilogy? series, I decided that it would be exciting to watch them out of order. So I started with Aliens then jumped to Resurrection then went back to Alien and finished off with 3. I find finishing off with 3 actually makes a lot more sense than ending with Resurrection which seems like a whimper of an ending to such a kickass series. (SPOILERS WILL PROBABLY BE RAMPANT IN THIS POST) And apart from the start and finish of every movie, you don't need to watch them in order to understand them. The endings establish who, apart from Ripley, survives the carnage of the plot and the beginnings establish which of Ripley's new companions dies after surviving the carnage of the previous plot. In between that it's all just delicious Alien gore, Sigourney Weaver kicking total ass, and gorgeous cinematography.

This time, however, I thought I'd do things in the proper order. When you watch them back to back it's suddenly rather depressing to watch anybody Ripley ever reaches out to or smiles at get torn limb from ass by the Alien before the closing credits.

If you're not an Alien afficionado... um, what's wrong with you? I'll forgive you but I'll give you a visual crash course in Alienology to get you up to speed.

Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley in Alien (with Jones the cat):

Ripley in Aliens (with Newt, played by Carrie Henn):

Ripley in Alien3 (with an Alien):
Sidebar: According to Alien3 legend, the powers that be asked Sigourney Weaver how she'd feel about shaving her head for the role and she reportedly responded with her price. Awesome.

And finally, Ripley in Alien Resurrection (with Winona Ryder):

Some things I've noticed about the Alien franchise have made me wonder why Star Trek couldn't come up with better villains in all it's endless TV and film incarnations. I mean seriously, are Khan and the Borg the best we've got? If just a single Alien had been tossed into Federation space we'd have had a movie worth remembering. That's all I'm saying. Of course in order to make a successful Alien film, you can't be very attached to your lead actors. Everybody except Ripley dies. If you're lucky enough to survive the Alien attack by staying close to Ripley, you'll die later when the ship you escape on crashes on a penal colony. Even Ripley herself only survives to the end of 3. Unless you are a cat (Jones is the only true survivor of the entire franchise) you don't stand a chance against the Aliens. That's what makes them so truly threatening. So absolutely ingenious. And, if you're Ripley, so utterly maddening.

If you haven't seen the franchise in it's entirety, do yourself a favor and rent the special edition DVDs. It's worth your time. All the films are good in their own right but Alien and Aliens could quite possibly go down in history as two very different but pitch-perfect examples of sci-fi horror. They are brilliant, unequalled films. And Ripley is a reluctant but capable heroine with human fears and inhuman inner strength whose equal we have yet to see onscreen.

March 15, 2007

FutureSex/LoveSounds.

For all you haters, Justin Timberlake's latest album is so cool that it just might make your hatred implode and transform your cold, cruel, pop-free heart into a snappy retro geyser of rhythm and moves. Listen, pop music has never been profound but, as a friend of mine recently told me, "the truth doesn't always have to be".



The 'lyrical genius' of FutureSex/LoveSounds is admittedly... um... non-existent. Featuring such poetic gems as:
"if I'm casanova then you're the supernova / girl its what you do to me / that has me sayin daaaaaaaaaaaamn girl / you're so fine"
"damn girl damn girl damn girl, damn"
"somethin bout the way you do the things you do when you do the things you do its got me... oh oh...."
and
"if you know what I'm talking bout / let me see you work it out / girl that's what I'm talking bout / I've got sexy ladies / all over the floor / you're talkin to one of the greatest"

But pop music has never really been about competing with Lord Byron for depth. Bye Bye Bye, Backstreet's Back, Hit Me Baby One More Time, Genie In A Bottle, Livin La Vida Loca... modern pop history is littered with giant hits that were little more than nonsense with a dance beat. Were the Beatles any better? "Love love me do / I say I love you / I'll always be true / so please love me do" No, pop music is about how those inane lyrics about love and attraction are put to an unforgettable musical background. Something light and upbeat, insanely dance-able, rather slick, and of course repetitive has traditionally been best. And the popular and critical acclaim Justin Timberlake received for his debut solo effort, Justified, is now... well, uh, justified. FutureSex/LoveSounds takes the over-produced retro backbeat feel of Justified and amps it up several hundred notches. It never really feels forced, either. Timberlake has more charisma than should even be allowed in a single human and it bleeds out of tracks in the way he trips rapid-fire phrases in a seductive tone off his tongue, in the way he makes you feel like getting up and MOVING, and in the way it all seems new and fresh despite fully being a product of his musical generation. FutureSex/LoveSounds is undeniably, enviably, and utterly cool. It is hip and inventive, impossibly catchy, creatively layered, and features the unthinkable in today's streaming radio-friendly society - songs over five minutes long with bridges that re-invent the rhythm structure of the song.

SexyBack, the first single, is probably the coolest and most infectious but it isn't quite the best. My Love, the second single, is much more daring in terms of production. My favorite track is easily Lovestoned. It's beautiful. It's got a haunting undertone that makes it feel more soulful, more aching. But it doesn't lack a solid beat or the requisite liquid honey vocals from Timberlake.

It's so good. Haters will groove to it, hate themselves for it, and then have to get a copy so they can figure out exactly why it's still in their heads weeks later. NSync fans over 25 who had a hard time explaining their NSync obsessions will finally be able to stand up and say "See? I fucking TOLD you so!" And everyone else will just be glad that pop music has been rendered cool again. Hopefully Justin Timberlake has the decency to be a bit shame-faced that his name is now synonymous with bad puns about bringing sexy back but then again when you're busy romancing Jessica Biel and Scarlett Johansson simultaneously off-screen and being the cure for Christina Ricci's nymphomania onscreen, humility is probably a thing of the past. So hey, yeah, he brought sexy back. Fuck it. Why not?

March 12, 2007

My pretty mortals, are there animal lovers among you? Canadian animal lovers? Then I'm calling you into action. It's time to take a stand to help protect Canada's animals from abuse and neglect and, by extension, help stem the flow of violence against each other. By taking a stance that safeguards life, animal or human, we protect ourselves in the long run.

I quote from a recent PETA notice emailed to me by a fellow animal-lover and concerned citizen.

As you may know, Canada’s anti-cruelty statutes have not been significantly revised since 1892. Law enforcement officials have long bemoaned the difficulty of charging animal abusers under current law as well as the law’s weak penalties for convicted offenders.

A critical piece of legislation that would help address this issue—C-373—was introduced in the House of Commons. Your help is needed in order for this long-running effort to finally succeed.


To read the entire notice, go here.

To locate an address for your member of parliament, to encourage them to support Bill C-373, go here.

If you won't do it for your own pet or you don't have one, then do it for Poe.


DO IT FOR THE KIDDENS!! And the dogs... and the horses... and the bears...