Top 10 Hip Hop Albums of 2013 and Top 10 Best Movies of 2013

Today’s post is a companion piece to the last one, where I listed the 10 worst films I saw in 2013. This one in particular serves as a means of knocking off two separate write-ups (“Top 10 Hip Hop Albums” and “Top 10 Best Movies”) in one fell swoop – so yeah, this shit is gonna be EXTRA-LONG! Consider this my way of helping you get through the hours leading up to New Year’s Day.  So….without further ado….I present to you my picks for Top 10 Hip Hop Albums and Top 10 Best Movies of 2013. Now sit back, turn your volume up and enjoy the ride!

 

 

10.  RUN THE JEWELS (EL-P & KILLER MIKE) – RUN THE JEWELS –  After the success of their first collaborative effort (“R.A.P. Music”) last year (which made it to Number 4 in of Hip Hop Albums list of 2012 – in case you were wondering), New York producer/rapper El-P and Atlanta rapper Killer Mike reunited this year as the dynamic duo “Run the Jewels” (a clever take on Jay-Z’s and Kanye West’s 2011 collaborative album “Watch the Throne”) in their self-titled LP. While Killer Mike’s bars are brash, aggressive and in-your-face, while El-P’s (yes, he gets the chance to spit rhymes on this album) are so complex and unconventional that you literally have to listen to his lyrics more than once (or look up their interpretations on Rapgenius.com like I did) to get the point. With dark humour (as you can see in the wickedly funny video below), friendly lyrical competition and synth-heavy, b-boy-influenced beats courtesy of El-P, “Run the Jewels” is everything its title suggests – a lyrical and musical stickup at gunpoint. Shook ones beware!

 

 

09. FLATBUSH ZOMBIES – BETTEROFFDEAD – With “BetterOffDead”, Flatbush Zombies (Zombie Juice, Meechy Darko and rapper/producer Erick “Arc” Elliott) deliver their trademark psuedo-cartoonish vocals (Zombie’s squeaky-like, high-pitched voice, for example, contrasts heavily with Meechy’s aggressive, low-pitched growl), bold, unapologetic, drugged-out lyrics, and a sonic soundscape of eerie melodies, hard-hitting drums and dramatic vocal samples that are among the best instrumentals I’ve heard all year (“Club Soda” (featuring Action Bronson), “MRAZ” and “The Results are In” are my personal favourites). This mixtape is definitely worth downloading (yes, it’s free, you cheap sons of bitches) and checking out. No, you don’t need to be under the influence to enjoy it – although it may make for a rather interesting listen. And no, I’m not condoning drug use.

 

 

08. TYLER THE CREATOR – WOLF – I know! Shocking, right?  While I wasn’t the biggest Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA) bandwagon jumper since the West Coast alternative hip hop collective rose to stardom in the past few years, and I certainly wasn’t the most appreciative of their shock-value lyrics and controversial subject matter (see Odd Future leader Tyler the Creator’s first and second album “Bastard” and “Goblin”, and his partner-in-crime Earl Sweatshirt’s first mixtape “Earl”), I was truly surprised by how great “Wolf” is. This concept album (of sorts) touches on many themes such as sudden fame (“Cowboy”), the absence of a father (“Answer”), the effects of drug dealing (“48”) and even love/hate relationships (in the fucking brilliant “IFHY” – or “I Fucking Hate You”), while telling a story about a summer camp rivalry between Wolf and Sam (the two main protagonists) over a girl named Salem. The production is more ambitious, the beats are more melodic, and the lyrics are more self-aware. But even with the assistance of Odd Future members like Jasper Dolphin, Domo Genesis, Hodgy Beats, Frank Ocean and Earl Sweatshirt, this is still Tyler’s show, and he runs it with the vile, ballsy, don’t-give-a-fuck attitude that has made him stand out in the rap game. “Wolf” is Tyler’s most accessible album, and his best work, to date. And oh, did I mention that the video for “IFHY” is among the best of 2013? No? Well, now I did. And it is! Enjoy!

 

 

07. ASTRO – DEAD BEATS & LAZY LYRICS –  2011 X-Factor finalist Astro (or the Astronomical Kid) brought out two mixtapes this year, the latter of which was somewhat disappointing. On “Dead Beats & Lazy Lyrics” (which he dedicates to his deadbeat father – Get it? Deadbeat? Dead Beat?), the now-17-year-old Astro introduces himself and his skills to the world while paying tribute to the glory days of 1990s hip hop music. Astro spits a slew of sharp, clever lyrics over old-school hip hop-influenced instrumentals (like the new jack swing beat for “Don’t be Afraid” which eerily – but in a great way – sounds like a R&B club song from the early 90s) and popular beats from producers like MF Doom (“Gas Drawls” is used in “Return of the Soul”) and Madlib (“The Unseen” is used in the EXCELLENT track “Cheese”). Certainly worth a listen, especially if you’re a fan of old school hip hop. 

 

 

06. BLACK MILK – NO POISON, NO PARADISE – Black Milk showcases his maturity as a producer and rapper with deep, introspective songs, well-crafted, well-produced instrumentals, and impressive lyrical dexterity. This is the kind of music that you can listen to on a Sunday morning while you lay back on your couch, sipping on ice-cold orange juice or some shit like that.  Speaking of Sunday morning, take a look at the video to two of the album’s standout tracks (the two-parter “Sunday’s Best” and “Monday’s Worst”) and feel the damn vibe already! 

 

 

05. TALIB KWELI – GRAVITAS –  A last-minute entry to my list, this album had the veteran New York MC reminding me why he’s one of the great East Coast rappers out there. With truly dazzling wordplay, some really, REALLY great beats and intelligent songs devoid of preachiness and heavy-handed messages, “Gravitas” is undoubtedly one of Talib Kweli’s finest albums to date. 

 

 

04. CZARFACE (INSPECTAH DECK, 7L & ESOTERIC) – CZARFACE –  Back in 1999, Boston-based producer-rapper duo 7L and Esoteric composed a track called “Speaking Real Words” with a guest verse from Wu-Tang Clan member Inspectah Deck. 14 years later, they reunited in the Hall of Doom (a.k.a. a recording studio somewhere in the United States) and combined their hip hop “super powers” to form….(dum dum dummmmmmm!!!) CZARFACE. Yeah, the title is weird but the concept behind it is quite interesting. “Czarface” is the personification of Inspectah Deck and Esoteric’s lyrical skills, backed by 7L’s production, as a comic-book like superhero (or supervillain depending on the song) who fights for truth, justice (well, maybe not those two) and the pursuit of C.R.E.A.M. (that’s Cash Rules Everything Around Me, in case you forgot). But don’t think that this is some corny parody of comic books and Saturday morning cartoons, even though there are audio snippets of old-school cartoons (like “G.I. Joe”, for example) and lyrical references to superhero comic books (“I’m a super villain, illin’, call me Ra’s al Ghul”) peppered throughout the album. From start to finish, “Czarface” kicks fucking ass!  Esoteric and Inspectah Deck deliver several great performances on the album, with the lyrically fast-paced Eso standing out a lot more than the medium-paced Deck. And the boom-bap beats, mostly provided by 7L (there’s even a spot by veteran producer DJ Premier on the album as well) are fucking SOLID – and will be stuck in your minds for days….hell, MONTHS….after you hear them! Fans of today’s trends and sounds in rap music (*cough*trap music/ringtone rap/hashtag rap*cough) may find “Czarface” unremarkable, but for fans of old-school boom-bap, and for those looking for a change from the norm, this album is a much-needed breath of fresh air. 

 

 

03. CHANCE THE RAPPER – ACID RAP –  If “#10Day” was Chance’s introduction to the hip hop underground, then you can consider “Acid Rap” his introduction to the world above it. The latest mixtape from Chicago rapper Chance the Rapper is more ambitious (both musically and lyrically), more enjoyable and much more memorable than his previous one. Chance’s high-pitched vocals (which he puts to good use by singing the hooks on some of the tracks on the mixtape) is among the most distinct and most unique in the current rap game. And his “NaNa” and “Ahhhh” ad-libs  – which has become synonymous with Chance since “Acid Rap” came out (Hey, Jay-Z has “Uhhhh”, A$AP Rocky has “Uhhhhhhh……Yeeeeah” so why shouldn’t Chance sing “Neh neh neh neh” on his songs?)  – will grow on you, whether you like it or not. Apart from his voice and quirky ad-libs, there’s a lot to appreciate on this mixtape. The music, and its production, is stellar (with its rich horns, crisp drums and soulful melodies), the musical samples (like the use of Slum Village’s “Fall in Love” in the track “Everybody’s Something” which you can check out in the video below, and the use of Jack Wilkins’ jazz song “Red Clay” – famously used in A Tribe Called Quest’s “Sucka N***a” in the silly track “NaNa” featuring a fucking hilarious performance by Action Bronson) are nicely applied, and the lyrical content by Chance himself – surprisingly deep in some songs, and ridiculously hilarious in others – is fantastic. If you haven’t heard “Acid Rap”, please do. You won’t be sorry. 

 

 

02. JOEY BADA$$ – SUMMER KNIGHTS –  At Number 2 in my countdown is the follow-up to Brooklyn rapper Joey Bada$$’ breakout mixtape “1999” (which landed the Number 1 spot in my Best Hip Hop Albums list last year) and his Progressive Era crew’s mixtape “PEEP: The APROcalypse”: “Summer Knights”. It’s been a long and eventful year for Joey Bada$$ and Pro Era since their mixtapes caught the attention of the public, and on “Summer Knights”, their growth as hip hop artistes are clearly evident. The boom-bap musical homages and lyrical hero worship of 1990s East Coast legends like Nas, A Tribe Called Quest and the Wu-Tang Clan are present on this mixtape, but there’s also a sense of everyone, especially the lead performer, trying to establish their own identity in the rap game. Joey sounds way more confident, cockier and charismatic than he did on “1999”, and he shows his growth as both a rapper and a young man with a deeper, gruffer voice, various, multi-syllabic lyrical cadences and a mature outlook on life. Compared to Pro Era’s previous efforts, “Summer Knights” is a much-more laid-back musical project. As a result, some songs, instrumentals (from the likes of Statik Selektah, DJ Premier and Lee Bannon, among others) and performances stand out more than others. But as a representation of the artistic progression from the (chuckles) Progressive Era, this mixtape is a certified success. A solid effort from Joey Bada$$, “Summer Knights” is one of the rare 2013 offerings that I can sit back, relax, listen to and be assured that the future of East Coast hip hop is in good hands. 

 

 

01. GHOSTFACE KILLAH & ADRIAN YOUNGE – TWELVE REASONS TO DIE – Still wondering why I’m talking about rap music and movies in one write-up? THIS IS WHY! “Twelve Reasons to Die” is a cinematic conceptual album which pairs the voice of veteran East Coast rapper and Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah with the live instrumentation of “psychedelic soul” music producer Adrian Younge (the guy behind the soundtrack to the funny-as-hell blaxploitation spoof film/animated TV series “Black Dynamite”). As it is a concept album, “Twelve Reasons to Die” tells a story, and (if you haven’t already figured out from the album title) a DARK, GRIM one at that. The story: Ghost starts off as the sole black member of the De Luca mafia crime family. After a falling-out with the De Lucas, Ghost leaves and forms a family of his own: the Black Suits. Later on in the album, he’s betrayed by the woman he loves and subsequently killed by the De Lucas – whom his ‘girlfriend’ was working for all along. They press his remains onto 12 vinyl records, each one given to a member of the De Luca family. But in true horror movie fashion, when all 12 records are played together, Ghost rises from the grave — and UNLEASHES HELL on anyone and everyone who betrayed him. With sporadic narration by Wu Tang Clan de facto leader RZA, the narrative of “Twelve Reasons to Die” is rapped in detail by Ghostface Killah and a few of his Wu Tang comrades (who play different members of the Black Suits, by the way). The story itself borrows thematic and musical elements of 1960s Italian giallo (crime/horror) and 1970s blaxploitation. The murky tone of the album is accentuated by Adrian Younge’s awesome musical soundscape, with the assistance of haunting female vocals in a few of the album’s cuts and a standout Motown-influenced chorus from William Hart in the track “Enemies all around Me”. Ghost’s verses are full of braggadocio, violent threats and over-the-top, cartoonish verbal descriptions of murder, torture and cold-blooded slaughter, but in no way should they be taken seriously. This is a character Ghost is playing, and what the album provides is a stage for him and the characters in the story to play their respective roles. The only downside I can think of with the album is its 39-minute length. With a longer running time, the characters on the album, even Ghost who carries the story on his shoulders, could’ve been better fleshed out. But short running time aside, “Twelve Reasons to Die” is a spooky, bloody, suspenseful and engaging listen that gets better with every listen. Of all the albums I’ve heard this year, this one is, by far, the most cohesive. There’s little to no reason to skip any tracks here, since EVERY track is relevant to the telling of this story. If you’re fascinated by old-school horror films, blaxploitation films and grindhouse cinema, CHECK OUT THIS ALBUM! If you’re fascinated by concept albums (hip-hop or otherwise), CHECK OUT THIS ALBUM! If you’re a fan of the Wu-Tang Clan…..well, I don’t even need to tell you to listen to this shit! Though us Wu Tang fans will have to wait until next year for a full-length LP from the group celebrating their 20th anniversary, “Twelve Reasons to Die” will have to do for now. And as an added bonus, Detroit-based producer Apollo Brown even did a remixed version of the entire album. Check out the video to the original version of “Rise of the Ghostface Killah” in the link below. And remember, folks, “it’s only entertainment”!

 

 

HONOURABLE MENTIONS STILL WORTH CHECKING OUT: Dee-1 “Psalms of David Vols. 1 & 2”, Eminem “The Marshall Mathers LP2”, A$AP Rocky “Long.Live.A$AP”, Skyzoo & Antman Wonder “An Ode to Reasonable Doubt”, Danny Brown “Old”, J. Cole “Born Sinner”, Demigodz “KILLMatic”, Q-Tip & Busta Rhymes “The Abstract and the Dragon” and Pusha T “My Name is My Name” (which gave us, arguably, the BEST, head-nodding, blast-this-shit-at-high-volume-and-freak-your-neighbours-out hip hop beat of 2013 – “Numbers on the Boards” – produced by Don Cannon and Kanye West). Think of the following video as a commercial break between my two lists. Enjoy! 

 

 

 

So there! You got 12 music videos in one post! Now for some movies! YAAAAAY!! Or should I say posters of movies! AWWWWW MAAAAAN!!!

 

But first, a few notes. Firstly, my Top 10 movie countdown won’t be as as lengthy as my hip hop album countdown. Since you’ve probably heard about or seen most, if not all, of the entries on the movie list, there’s really no need for me to get into detail about what these films are about. Secondly, in my previous post, I announced my decision to try something different for this year’s Best Movies list. Instead of focusing solely on my favourite movies, I encouraged my readers to comment on their personal favourites.  But before I get into my list, allow me to share some of the Facebook comments that I received from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day (thanks for the comments, by the way). Warning: the names have been abbreviated to protect the innocent. 😀

 

KDV wrote: Enjoyed World War Z more than I thought I would,my hype level was beyond the stratosphere for Pacific Rim and that was entertaining and amazing from a visual effects standpoint,same with Gravity,which had effects even one with a trained eye would be forgiven for thinking was a real set or props. Enjoyed Man of Steel because of General Zod, I empathized with his rage.In his rants replace “Krypton” with “local animation” and that’s how I feel lol.  Imax was put to great use this year again, Pac Rim and Gravity were stellar”

 

MYTR wrote: Now You See Me was pretty cool. Well written and perfectly cast. Kept me thinking throughout the whole film in a genre where I’m usually one step ahead of all the characters. The Conjuring was pretty well done as well for a film based on a true story (That’s as close to a documentary as I wanna get). I didn’t find it particularly scary but it was very stimulating, featuring very creative and non-standard ways of delivering scares which helped to breath some new life (or death) into the genre. While the Hunger Games: Catching Fire was an excellent and engaging film, that “ending” was enough to leave a bad taste in my mouth till part 3 so not sure if it should be counted as part of the Best Of since it feels as though I haven’t finished watching it yet”

 

 RHH wrote: “The best film of the year is The Hobbit…and I’m yet to see it but I’ll bet all my galleons that its gonna be great”

 

And now….for the moment I know most of you were waiting for: My Top 10 favourite movies of 2013.

 

 

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10. CAPTAIN PHILLIPS –  Oscar favourite Tom Hanks proves once again why he’s one of the greatest actors in this generation with an outstanding performance as the title character in this intense, gripping, based-on-a-true-story thriller from Paul (“The Bourne Ultimatum”) Greengrass. Expect a Best Actor Academy Award nomination next year for this one. 

 

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09. THIS IS THE END –  Ever since mankind survived the Apocalypse “foretold” in the Mayan Calendar last year, Hollywood continued its cinematic obsession with “the end”. 2013 gave us “Oblivion”, “After Earth”, “The World’s End”, “Elysium”, “Warm Bodies”, “World War Z” and Number 9 on my list: “This is the End”. Thanks to smart writing by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen and a star-studded cast of entertainers playing…ahem….”themselves”, this film is an oftentimes vulgar, oftentimes over-the-top, oftentimes ludicrous, but altogether HILARIOUS send-up of the generic doomsday/apocalyptic movie sub-genre. Oh, and it’s the best comedy of the year. Yeah, I fucking said it! Best….com….edy….of…..the…..ye…..ar.

 

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08. PACIFIC RIM –  Giant robots doing battle with giant creatures. What more can you ask for? And I have to agree with KDV’s comment above: This film did look STELLAR in IMAX! Check out my review here.

 

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07. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS –  I want you to get up right now, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell “KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!”. ‘Nuff said. Check out my review here.

 

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06. RUSH –  Coming in at Number 6 is Ron Howard’s biographical sports drama “Rush”. Set in the world of Formula 1 racing, “Rush” tells the true story of the rivalry between British driver James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth a.k.a. “Thor”) and Austrian driver Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl from “Inglourious Basterds”) which spans the course of the 1970s. James is the playboy and show-off, while Niki is the always serious, Mr. know-it-all. But ultimately, they’re both assholes (in one scene, Niki calls James an asshole behind his back, and vice versa) and it shows in the way they treat their friends, loved ones and themselves. Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl both bring their acting A-games to the table, with surprisingly impressive results. Ron Howard’s direction is as focused as ever, with some high-octane racing sequences, great cinematography and tight editing. I didn’t anticipate to enjoy “Rush” as much as I did, but it certainly earned its way into my countdown.

 

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05. THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG –  Okay, now I want you to get up again, go outside, point at the sky and yell “SMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUG!!”. Yes, what a year it has been for British actor Benedict Cumberbatch. First, playing the villain in “Star Trek into Darkness”, then playing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange alongside Daniel Bruhl in the box-office flop “The Fifth Estate”, and now the voice of the dragon Smaug in the second film in Peter Jackson’s “Hobbit” trilogy. Gigantic dragon aside, “The Desolation of Smaug” – like “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” before it – is a vast improvement over its predecessor “An Unexpected Journey”. The story is far more fast-paced (with the exception of an uneven middle act), the characters, more particularly the dwarves who continue to accompany the hobbit protagonist Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) on his quest are given more time to shine, the action sequences (some involving the character of Legolas (Orlando Bloom) from the previous Lord of the Rings trilogy) are BAD-ASS and the stakes (which I won’t reveal here) have never been higher. And then there’s Smaug, that will be remembered as one of Hollywood cinema’s greatest monsters. If there’s one reason to go to the movie theater, it’s to see Smaug on the big screen! Looks like one of the next films on my list will be facing a strong contender for Best Visual Effects at next year’s Academy Awards with “The Desolation of Smaug”.

 

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04. FRUITVALE STATION –  To many people, New Year’s Day is the opportunity to start over. To acknowledge the mistakes of the past year, learn from them and move forward.  That is the underlying theme of “Fruitvale Station”, a film that I was so fortunate to view before year’s end. Based on a true story, it stars Michael B. Jordan – who played the teenage drug dealer Wallace in HBO’s “The Wire” (one of the all-time greatest TV shows ever made) – as Oscar Grant, a young man who was killed by a white police officer at the Fruitvale Bay Area Rapid Transit Station in Oakland. By showing the final hours of his life leading up to his death, “Fruitvale Station” bravely shatters commonplace misconceptions that “because he grew up in the hood,  he was looking for trouble that night, and THAT’S why he died”.  Instead, the viewer is given a glimpse into his life and decisions before that tragic event. In other words, before judging the victim, the viewer gets to literally “walk a mile in his shoes”. The documentary-style direction by first-time feature film director Ryan Coogler fits the film perfectly in its depiction of urban life. The story is straight-forward, the acting natural and the story evenly paced. But it’s Michael’s performance in the film that truly wowed me. Just like the now-10-year old Quvenzhane Wallis in last year’s “Beasts of the Southern Wild”, Michael delivers a bravura performance that’s sure to be the talk of the Oscar season. Yes folks, I am ROOTING for him to be nominated in next year’s Academy Awards. But anyway, if you’re looking for a powerful, down-to-Earth drama without the glitz and glamour one expects from a Hollywood movie, then look no further than “Fruitvale Station”.

 

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03. AMERICAN HUSTLE –  I can imagine Martin Scorsese (who, in 2013 gave us “The Wolf of Wall Street” – a film that, for some goddamned reason, wasn’t released this year in Trinidad & Tobago) watching David O’ Russell’s latest film with a broad smile on his face and a tear in his eye. “American Hustle” is the perfect tribute to Martin Scorsese classics like “Goodfellas” and “Casino” – from the camera angles and gorgeous cinematography to the larger-than-life characters and soundtrack populated with jazz cuts and 1970s top-10 hits. The performance by Christian Bale (who won a Best Actor Academy Award for O’ Russell’s “The Fighter”) who plays con-artist Irving Rosenfield, subconsciously emulates the acting style of one of Scorsese’s favourite actors – Robert De Niro (who *spoiler alert* ALSO appears in this movie). Christian’s performance is near-FLAWLESS, and worthy of an Oscar nomination. The rest of the cast, which includes Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner and Louis C.K. among others, are just as fantastic. The film’s set design, script and dialogue are well-crafted, and its intricate story of con men conning each other and other people while being conned all along (believe me, that is the simplest way of describing its plot) is always intriguing and always entertaining. For the next couple months, you can expect to hear about “Hustle” everyday. Get it? “Everyday I’m hustlin'”? Rick Ross? Ricky Rozay anyone? Anyone?! Ah fuck it!

 

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02. PRISONERS – Similar to “Fruitvale Station”, this film stuck with me for HOURS after I saw it. “Prisoners” is one of the best dramas in recent years, with a premise that any mother or father or anyone considering becoming a mom or dad in the future can emphasize with. If your child was kidnapped, how far would you go to get him or her back? Would you trust the authorities to find your child or would you take matters into your own hands? The complexities of these questions are explored in this film, with virtuoso direction by Denis Villeneuve, cold yet beautiful cinematography by the famous Roger Deakins (who deserves an Oscar nomination for his contribution to the film, by the way), terrific acting by Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Terrence Howard, Viola Davis, Maria Bello and Paul Dano (in a creepy, unnerving performance) and a strong, well-written script. Not for the faint of heart, “Prisoners” is a grisly, disturbing, suspenseful and though-provoking movie that deserves to be seen, if only once.

 

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01. GRAVITY –  At long last, I present to you Numero Uno. From the moment I saw the AMAZING opening shot of “Gravity” (which runs for about 13 minutes), I knew I was looking at the best movie of 2013. This is a landmark of visual storytelling, with incredible magery of outer space, fantastic performances by George Clooney and Sandra Bullock (who I predict will be a shoe-in for next year’s Academy Awards), MAGNIFICENT sound design, and a seemingly never-ending sense of awe and fear. This was a filmgoing experience unlike any I’ve ever seen, or ever will see. It reminded me of man’s willingness to survive, despite his insignificance in the grand scope of the universe. It reminded me of the visual and emotional power of film. And most importantly, it reminded me why I love movies in the first place. Highly recommended by yours truly.

 

HONOURABLE MENTIONS STILL WORTH CHECKING OUT: “Spring Breakers” (my OFFICIAL guilty pleasure film of 2013), “Mud”, “The Way, Way Back”, “Saving Mr. Banks”, “Man of Steel”, “Iron Man 3”, “Thor: The Dark World”, “The World’s End”, “Fast & Furious 6” (R.I.P. Paul Walker).

 


And you finally made it to the end! Congratulations! But seriously though, thank you so much for checking out this post. I’ll like to give a special shout-out to to my fellow readers who supported me during the past 12 months, and to the filmmakers and musical artistes who made 2013 a kick-ass year for movies and music! Season’s greetings to everyone!

 

A TRIBE CALLED QUEST FOREVER. WU-TANG FOREVER. GRAVITY FOREVER. ’13 TIL INFINITY.

 

 – Matthew

Special End-of-the-Year Request/Announcement/Favour

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A wise article once stated: At its core, blogging is an outlet for creativity. And I am always open to new and creative ways of making my blog as entertaining as possible for my readers. So for the end of 2013, I’ll be doing something new and creative on my site – and I’ll be needing your assistance.

 

In this blog’s history, there are three specific lists (Top 10 Hip Hop Albums, Top 10 Best Movies and Top 10 Worst Movies) that I put up during the latter half of December.  I’ve already posted my Top 10 Worst Movies list (with a special review of three entries from that list added for good measure) and I have yet to put up the other two before the end of this month – which is technically one week from now.

 

What I’m asking is, let me know in the comments below which films YOU consider to be the best of 2013, as well as albums (hip-hop or otherwise) you consider to be your favourite, and why. Now this isn’t a foolhardy attempt to have you dear readers do all the writing for me. I already have my selections for best films and best albums in mind. But rather than end off another year of blogging with me saying what films I loved and hated, and what music I enjoyed, I’m really curious to read your opinions on these matters.

 

Yes, I said “read”. In your comments, I want you to write at least a few sentences (keep it as simple as possible. Nothing elaborate) on your favourite films and/or your favourite albums. Think of it as your very own brutally honest mini-review. And trust me – it’s not as hard as it looks.

 

For the music write-up, I’ll post the “favourite album” comments that you wrote, and include my pick for Best Album of 2013 (and my nine runner-ups). However, for the movie write-up, I’ll post my Top 10 list of favourite films, and as a bonus, include YOUR mini-review into my list (with my comments added to it, if necessary). For example, if you commented that “The Smurfs 2” was your favourite film of 2013, and I, for some weird, “Twilight Zone”-like reason, thought it was the best movie for the year as well,  I will add both your comment and mine into my list.  And yes, even if your favourite film doesn’t make it to my final list, I will still include your comment into the write-up. It’s the least I can do.

 

I intend to post these write-ups by this weekend (or Friday for the earliest), so you have only a few days to comment before I add them to my lists. You can choose to comment on your favourite movies or your favourite albums or both. If you don’t have a favourite album or movie in mind, then you don’t need to respond to this request. But for those who do, please leave your comments, as I’m excited to see what your favourites of 2013 were.

 

Thanking you in advance, and wishing you a happy holiday, I remain Legally Black.

 

– Matthew

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 10 Worst Movies of 2013

It’s that time of year again, ladies and gents. No, not the annual broadcast of “It’s a Wonderful Life” tonight on NBC – or Christmas Eve night – depending on when you actually read this write-up. What I’m referring to is my 3rd annual list of the Top 10 worst movies of the year – and boy, were there a LOT for 2013. Fortunately, I haven’t seen all of them, so this list represents the ten that I had the privilege of visually torturing myself with. But first, here’s a runner-up that didn’t make it to the final cut. Sumbitch.

 

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RUNNER-UP/ SUMBITCH: THE HOST – I won’t say much about “The Host” in this write-up, not because I reviewed it before (check the review here) but because, honestly, I forgot almost EVERYTHING about this movie. For a long while, I actually forgot I saw it in the first place. I do, however, remember it sucking ass! Not sure why though. Ah well.

 

Anyhoowithout further ado, here’s the  Top 10 Worst Movies of 2013.

 

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10. THE HANGOVER, PART III –  Had I gotten shit-faced drunk with my friends after watching the (hopefully) final film in the Hangover trilogy, then I probably would’ve woken up in front of a Venezuelan nightclub, VISA missing, blonde wig on my head, vomit on my breath, red stilettos on my feet, red cocktail dress on, friends laughing their asses at me, with the only thought in my head being: “That is the first and LAST time I drink a whole bottle of Grey Goose! And….is that a “WHORE” tattoo on my ass?!” Had that actually happened, then I would’ve forgotten that I sat through a film that felt more like an action thriller than an actual comedy, which squandered a decent cast (that includes Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and John Goodman) in a story so dark and self-loathing that you’ll wonder if it’s supposed to be related to the preceding “Hangover” films in the first place, and took the ballsy decision (intended to make up for the carbon- copy nature of “The Hangover, Part II”) to set up the ‘Hangover scenario’ – you know, like the one I mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph  – AT THE VERY END OF THE MOVIE!! (Oops, spoiler alert!). But I was sober, and for that, I will always remember sitting through one of the most disappointing sequels of 2013. And I still can’t find my damn VISA. 

 

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9. AFTER EARTH –  If “Gravity” is the best space movie of 2013, then “After Earth” (or A.E. or After Effects – get it?) is certainly the worst – and deserves to be left spinning out of control in the cold abyss of space. This futuristic sci-fi adventure is the brainchild of Will Smith (who came up with the story, believe it or not) and “Mr. Last Airbender” M. Night Shyamalan. The underacting Will plays the military commander Cyper Raige (awesome name, by the way) who finds himself unable to use his legs after his spaceship, damaged during an asteroid shower, crash-lands on a post-apocalyptic Planet Earth. His son Kitai (played by Will’s real-life, over-under-and-(eventually) through (with)- acting son Jaden Smith) must recover the ship’s main beacon (which was broken off during the shower) to fire a distress signal, which will ensure their rescue. Not only does “After Earth” beat you upside your head with heavy-handed messages about losing your own fears (“Fear is a choice” says Will in one scene) but it makes the unwise decision to make Jaden Smith (who, despite his passable performance in the 2010 remake of “The Karate Kid”, is far from a great teen actor) the lead in this film. While Will forces himself to stay stoic and emotionless throughout the film, since his character is supposed to be all “fearless” and shit, Jaden is whiny, argumentative and melancholy, with a half-scared, half-constipated look on his face. The story is far from original (get from point A to point B, get the beacon, duck a bunch of creatures, get back to point A, THE END), the special effects are far from special (the creatures themselves are poorly designed, to say the least), the acting switches from cringe-worthy to unintentionally laughable in a mere matter of seconds and the story is a borderline snoozefest.  Expectations were high for Will Smith’s comeback to the summer movie arena, but with a name like M. Night Shyamalan in the credits, not even the former “Mr. Summer Blockbuster” and his son could save this film from burning up upon re-entry and exploding in mid-air before it could find its way back to Earth.

 

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8. BATTLE OF THE YEAR –  EEEEEEEEEEEEEEPIC FAAAAAAIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLL!

For more information, check out my review here

 

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7. PARANOIA  –  Gary Oldman, star of “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”, “The Dark Knight” trilogy and “Air Force One”. Harrison Ford, star of the “Indiana Jones” anthology, “Blade Runner” and “Air Force One”. Liam Hemsworth,  Chris (“Thor”) Hemsworth’s brother/Miley Cyrus’ ex / that dude from “Hunger Games” that Jennifer Lawrence can’t get with because she’s supposed to be with Josh Hutcherson. Amber Heard, star of “Zombieland” (which I loved), “Drive Angry” (which I hated) and “Machete Kills” (which I haven’t seen yet). An espionage thriller (adapted from the novel by Joseph Finder) about an entry-level employee (Liam) at a tech company run by a ruthless billionaire (Gary) who’s coerced into spying on his boss’s old mentor (a bald-headed Harrison) while keeping it a secret from the rival company’s Director of Marketing and part-time lover (Amber). What can POSSIBLY go wrong? How about a been-there-seen-that-know-what’s-going-to-happen-here plot, uninteresting characters, a script that fails to bring enough life into these uninteresting characters, poor camerawork (the tops of characters’ heads are cut off in the frame of many medium close-ups and close-ups used in the film) and a slow, yawn-inducing pace? Then you have “Paranoia” – which, by the way, DOESN’T have any paranoid characters in it. Nope, not even Liam Hemsworth’s paranoid in it. Suspicious, yes, of getting shot at, run over, betrayed or being chased by Victor Von Doom (from the godawful “Fantastic Four” movie) while running like a girl straight out of a fucking slasher movie (check the video below if you think I’m lying), but not….PARANOID! The cast of this film try desperately to bring something fresh to the table, but not even the reunion of Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman could save this movie from going bad. They deserve better – and you deserve better as well.  Go watch “The Conversation”. Go watch “Shutter Island”. Fuck it, watch “Air Force One” for the fifth time! Anything but this! The paranoia’s not worth it, my friend!

 

 

 

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6. R.I.P.D. –  To the untrained eye, “R.I.P.D.” (or Rest In Peace Department), with its premise about a cop (Ryan Reynolds) who willingly joins a secret law enforcement agency bent on preventing menacing creatures from threatening humanity and who has the proverbial “ropes” shown to him by an elderly member of the agency (Jeff Bridges), resembles the 1997 blockbuster sci-fi comedy “Men in Black” (starring the former Mr. Summer Blockbuster Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones). And it does. And it’s one of the reasons why this film doesn’t work. What could’ve been a great film adaptation of a fairly-unknown comic book series (“Men in Black” was also based on a comic book, by the way) ends up being an unoriginal and underwhelming movie. I will say however that “R.I.P.D.” is far from boring. It is pretty fast-paced and mindless for its 96-minute running time. Problem is – or should I say problems are, the chemistry between Jeff Bridges (who plays a rootin’ tootin’ gunslinging Wild West cowboy resurrected to work for the R.I.P.D.) and Ryan Reynolds (who plays….well…..Ryan Reynolds, also back from the dead) is almost non-existent, the creatures (who’re demons escaping Judgment) are unimaginative and poorly-designed,  looking more like old designs of aliens from the pre-production processes of the “Men in Black” films than anything else, the villain (played by Kevin Bacon) doesn’t stand out at all, the visual effects are incredibly unconvincing, the comic and dramatic moments oftentimes feel forced and unnatural, and the film’s narrative feels lazy and uninspired. In the end, “R.I.P.D.” could have had its D taken out (since it actually stands for DULL) and left to Rest In Peace. Don’t expect a resurrection anytime soon.

 

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5. ONLY GOD FORGIVES –  And here we have a movie that pissed me off IMMENSELY! I felt so angry after watching Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Only God Forgives”  for the first (and only) time that I reviewed it immediately thereafter (along with “Spring Breakers” which I enjoyed, and praised – believe it or not). Now I’m open to art cinema, experimental film, and all that weird, unconventional film stuff. But when I’m forced to watch a movie containing detestable, unrelatable characters, senseless violence, a narrative that gets all the more annoying when you try to make sense of it, and an almost non-existence of human emotion, and all I get from it is “Wow! Look at the cinematography in this movie! It’s sooooooo amazing!”, that’s where….you know what? I can’t do this anymore. “Only God Forgives” was a waste of my fucking time and mental energy, and it’s only because FOUR other films were worse than this self-indulgent, masturbatory piece of garbage that I didn’t place it in the the No. 1 spot of my list. Fuck this shit.

 

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4. A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD – In 1988, director John McTiernan (“Predator”) teamed up with Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman and a talented cast and crew to make, arguably, the GREATEST action movie of all time (and one of my FAVOURITE Christmas movies): “Die Hard”. It spawned a series of successful sequels (which came close to, but couldn’t capture the cinematic magic of the original), as well as a ton of movies that copied the formula (lone guy using wits and weaponry to stop bad guys from killing good people in enclosed area) of the first film. And what do we get after 25 years of worshiping this movie? Why, this piece of shit, of course! In retrospect, I should have figured out sooner that a Die Hard sequel with the title “A Good Day to Die Hard” and a Valentine’s Day release date (like if couples were really going to watch that movie on that day! Like, seriously!) spelled trouble. But I, like the other Die Hard fans of the world, was so overjoyed that this sequel would be rated R (as opposed to the PG-13 rating of “Live Free or Die Hard”) – which meant more violence, more blood and a return to the uncensored delivery of Bruce Willis’ iconic catchphrase “Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker”.  Instead, we were given a convoluted-as-fuck plot involving John McClane (Bruce Willis), his son Jack (Jai Courtney) and a Russian prisoner (Sebastian Koch) in Moscow, a non-stop barrage of poorly-edited, poorly-constructed and IMPLAUSIBLE action sequences (one sequence shows John and Jack jumping through a window, smashing through another upon impact and still capable of walking) constant bickering between John and his “Fuck you, Dad. I hate you”-mongering son, facepalm-worthy dialogue (“You know what I hate about Americans? Everything…..especially cowboys”, “I’m on a fucking vacation”) and a number of villains who hardly stick around long enough to make themselves memorable (like Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber in the first film, for example). But the most unforgivable sin of this movie is the deconstruction of John McClane’s character. John is reduced to both an over-sympathetic father who responds pitifully to his son’s constant insults (“How come you never call me?”, “I thought I was your dad”, “I’m still your dad, Jack”) and a comic-book superhuman. In an early car chase scene, John survives two car crashes – TWO CAR CRASHES – with not even a fucking scratch on his head! Afterwards, John slugs a guy in the face before commandeering his car. Interestingly, the sound effect used in that punch sounded just like that exaggerated “BOAFFF” punch sound from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. At least “Raiders” was paying homage to the adventure serials of the 1940s and 50s, so the use of that hyper-realistic sound effect was understood – but not in a modern-day action flick that’s supposed to be taken seriously! As a Bruce Willis movie, “A Good Day to Die Hard” wobbles between aight and meh. But as a Die Hard movie, it’s a TRAVESTY! It has the best of intentions, but fails to live up to any of them. I’m hoping that there’ll be a sixth Die Hard film coming out in the future, because if “A Good Day to Die Hard” is the last entry, then this franchise can find itself joining the ranks of other action franchises that started great and ended unsatisfactory (*COUGH*”Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”*COUGH).

 

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3. GROWN-UPS 2 – A deer invades Adam Sandler’s and Salma Hayek’s (one of the most improbable couples in film history) bedroom, and after getting scared by Salma, urinates into Adam’s open mouth. Chris Rock’s wife notices a bulge at the back of their baby boy’s diapers. Upon inspection, she realizes it’s a small box with a necklace inside. Chris says “Happy 20th anniversary, babe”. David Spade finds himself inside of a rolling tire. Shaquille O’ Neal (of all people), a police officer, stops the tire. Projectile vomit spews out of the tire and into the air. Kevin James, at a swimming hole with Adam, Chris and David, is coerced to jump naked into the water. He lands, ass first, on Chris’ face. Fortunately, this is a PG-13 movie, so you don’t see get to see that in raw detail. But that’s just a few of the many unfunny scenes in “Grown-Ups 2”. And these scenes feel strangely cut-off from each other. One scene ends with a punchline, and before you get the chance to truly digest that punchline, another scene starts up. And this results in a film with a lot of characters, a lot of sub-plots (but no actual plot), and a lot of jokes, all of which rely on gross-out, immature, toilet-bowl humour.  When the only actor pulling off an intentionally hilarious performance is Taylor Lautner from the “Twilight” movie franchise, you know this movie is bound to suck. Ah, another year, another worst movie list, another Adam Sandler movie. What’s new? Sigh.

 

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2.  TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D – Making its way to No. 2 is the first movie release of 2013: “Texas Chainsaw 3D” (or ‘Texas Chainsaw’ if you were unfortunate enough to watch it on home media as I did). Just when the 2003 remake to the 1974 cult horror classic “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and its goddamned, godawful 2006 prequel “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning” weren’t bad enough, this movie had to rear its ugly, leather-covered face to the world. “Texas Chainsaw 3D” is a sequel to the original, superior and still creepily effective “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” film, the main events of which were visually, and unnecessarily, recapped in this movie’s opening. The original film was set in 1973, but for some strange reason, this ‘sequel’ is set in modern times – though there is no indication or title card (e.g. “30 years later”) to inform the audience about this time change. But that’s just a minor quibble compared to everything else this film has to offer. There’s a plot that rips the premise of the original film out of its roots – from the journey and arrival of the film’s idiotic teen protagonists (three of which include Alexandra Daddario and Tania Raymonde – whose main purposes in the movie, apparently, are to dress in skimpy outfits, look hot and die gracefully – well, at least one of them does – and R&B superstar Trey Songz ’cause they need a celebrity to be in this movie, as well as a black guy to get killed off) to the renovated home of the psychotic, chainsaw-wielding, and long-missing Leatherface (Bill Moseley), to the revelation that Leatherface was actually in the house all along. Awwww man! Even the ways these characters get bumped off (like sticking the victim’s back onto a meat hook) are similar to the original film. You may call it a tribute, but I call it being lazy. The story itself is lazy, poorly-executed and….believe it or not…..BORING AS HELL! There were a couple gut-wrenching scenes, one in particular where (spoiler alert) Leatherface removes the skin off a cop’s face and SEWS  IT onto his own face with a thread and needle (EEEEEEEEWWWW!! *PUKES*), but everything else was by-the-numbers, generic slasher movie bullshit. But the film’s major atrocity is the painting of Leatherface as a SYMPATHETIC character that the audience has to feel sorry for. I’m sorry, but this is Leatherface, one of the greatest horror villains of all time. This is a guy who chases his victims with a chainsaw, kills them, chops them up and devours their flesh, without the slightest hint of sympathy or remorse. How in the fuck can I sympathize with a person like that ?!! And why?!! That is horror movie blasphemy of the highest order! What’s next? Freddy Krueger saying that he was molested by his stepdad at age 16, and that’s the reason why he invades teenagers’ dreams and kills them? COME ON!  Do yourself a favour and watch the 1974 “Texas Chainsaw” film, and forget that this cinematic travesty (worthy of the position of Number 2) existed. 

 

 

And now for the moment of truth. I present to you the Number 1 worst movie of 2013.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Close, but that’s not the worst of 2013. At least “Sharknado” SET OUT to be a bad movie, and succeeded, with intentionally hilarious results. And shitty VFX.

 

 

 

No, ladies and gents, the worst movie of 2013 is….wait a minute…..Oh my God, I can’t believe this! IT’S……. IT’S…… IT’S……..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1. MOVIE 43 / INAPPROPRIATE COMEDY – A TIEladies and gents! For the first time in the history of A Legally Black Blog, the No. 1 Worst Movie title will be shared by TWO MOVIES: “Movie 43” and “Inappropriate Comedy”!!  Both of these films (which I reviewed alongside “Battle of the Year”) became the first entries into of my 0 out of 5 stars (“YOU ON REL SHIT”) category. And since the premise of each film is primarily the same (an anthology of sketches that make little to no fucking sense), it’s only fair….let me rephrase that…..it’s only right that they both share the title of Worst Movie of 2013.  This, of course, has NOTHING to do with the fact that I compared and contrasted both films in my previous write-up. Absolutely nothing (*WHISTLES*).  

 

“Movie 43” and “Inappropriate Comedy” – or “InAPPropriate Comedy” or however the hell you want to spell it – will forever live in the annals…or should I say anus…..of bad movie history. Even when the last copies of these films become drink coasters in sports bars, even when the remaining streaming links to these films are expired, and even when the torrent files to these films are…ahem….accidentally removed, “Movie 43” and “Inappropriate Comedy” will always be remembered – no matter how hard one tries to forget (whether by drugs, alcohol or failed suicide attempts) – as pure examples of unoriginal and uninspired Hollywood filmmaking at its finest. Like “Piranha 3DD” in 2011, and “Battle: Los Angeles” in 2010,  these two films represent the absolute worst that Hollywood could offer to the world in one year’s time. And that is why “Movie 43” and “Inappropriate Comedy” share the crown of WORST MOVIE OF 2013. Take a bow, guys! You’ve earned it!

 

In closing, I leave to you this quote for you to think about during the holidays. “Every time the DVD or Blu-Ray of a bad movie is thrown away, an angel gets its wings”

 

Atta boy, Clarence!

 

– Matthew

 

Top 10 Worst Movies of 2013 EP: “Battle of the Year”, “Movie 43” and “InAPPropriate Comedy”

Missed me? Of course you did.

 

I had to cut my self-imposed, pre-Christmas hiatus (in which, as I mentioned in my last ‘Special Announcement’, I caught up on certain movies that I missed out this year) short as (a) I personally felt the need to post something new to my blog; (b) free time is getting shorter and shorter as Christmas draws near;  and (c) blogging deadlines are an absolute bitch during Christmastime!

 

While preparing my Top 10 Worst Movies of 2013 list, I found myself writing a lenghty rant of each of the three films that will appear in today’s write-up. Looking at the actual length of those reviews in relation to the single-paragraph reviews I wrote for the others, I figured that shifting the longer ones into a separate write-up will work better than stuffing all my thoughts and notes into one post. Think of it like putting all your Christmas gifts into one package. Yeah, it’s in one package, but it’ll be tough to manage – let alone move. 

 

I came up with the title “Top 10 Worst Movies of 2013 EP” because like an EP (or Extended Play) to an upcoming hip hop album release, for example, this write-up is merely a sample of what to expect in my end-of-the-year list. The following three films are pure examples of the cinematic horseshit Hollywood dished out to the world in 2013. They represent precious hours, minutes and seconds that I could have been spent catching up on the latest mid-season of AMC’s “The Walking Dead”. Or playing “Candy Crush Saga”. Well, maybe not that, but you get the idea. So get a tall glass of water and a bottle of Aleve, ’cause this shit might give you a headache. You’ve been warned.

 

Anyhoo, without further ado, here are THREE of the Top 10 Worst Movies of 2013 (COMING SOON TO THIS SCREEN).

 

 

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BATTLE OF THE YEAR – “Battle of the Year” attempts to do three things: (1) make a modern-day fiction film based on the hip-hop originated, and 1980s-oriented, dance style of breakdancing or B-boying ; (2) use that film as a marketing tool to promote the director’s (Benson Lee) 2008 documentary “Planet B-Boy” – which, according to Rotten Tomatoes, dealt with the global resurgence of breakdancing – to a new generation who can easily download the movie via torrent or watch it for free on YouTube (Yep, it’s there, all right); and (3) remind the world that R&B artiste/rapper Chris Brown is still a bankable actor despite the turmoil of his life outside of the limelight, like his seemingly-never-ending community service, his altercation with Grammy-winning R&B crooner Frank Ocean over a parking space, and his off-again relationship with R&B/pop goddess Rihanna. This fucking movie FAILS on all three things, and more!

 

The plot:  Hip-hop magazine owner Dante Graham (Laz Alonso) teams up with ex-basketball coach Jason Blake (played by a scruffy-looking Josh Holloway) to form a b-boy dance team (which includes Chris Brown. But you already knew that) to represent the United States in a global b-boy tournament (held in France) called….you guessed it….. BATTLE OF THE YEAR. This movie rips nearly every sports film and dance film cliche known to man! From the coach hiding his alcohol problem from his team and childish scuffles between team members over a girl, to the uniting of the team just in the nick of time for the final competition, and of course, the team’s slow-motion, motivational background score-supported walk to their destiny (which actually originated  from the FANTASTIC 1983 astronaut drama “The Right Stuff” – which isn’t even a sports or dance film to begin with!). Ahh yes, there are cliches galore in this movie! At least the “Step Up” movies, cheesy as they are, add some creativity and originality to their narratives. “Battle of the Year” isn’t the least bit original! It’s so unoriginal that the name of the American b-boy group is the DREAM TEAM! Of all the names in the world, they just had to pick the one chosen by the U.S. Men’s basketball team in the 1992 Olympics*FACEPALM!*

 

When it’s isn’t bad acting shown on-screen, it’s good actors given bad dialogue to speak on-screen. Consider the following line, from a later scene where Laz Alonzo argues with Josh Holloway: “You’re a mess, you smell like you’re sweating gin, and is that….vomit on your shoes?!”. And it gets worse when the (scoffs) “Dream Team” arrive at Battle of the Year. Ex-106& Park host-turned-E! newscaster Terrence J and veteran MTV reporter/radio host Sway Calloway deliver some of the film’s most (unintentionally) hilarious dialogue as the American reporters of the competition. This dialogue literally sounds like it’s being thought on the spot. Here’s an example: the Dream Team, during the last section of their dance set, put on blindfolds and dance to rapper Common’s hip-house b-boy homage “Universal Mind Control” (at least I give the movie credit for adding this song to its soundtrack. I REALLY liked that song when it came out in 2008, although the album of the same name was admittedly weak). What’s the response by Terrence J. and Sway? “They can’t see….and they’re dancing in UNISON!”. But thanks to the quick editing of that sequence, the viewer is unable to fully appreciate the “unison” in the team’s choreography – if it existed at all. And here’s another example: the Dream Team square off against the Seoul Assassins (Get it? Soul Assassins? Seoul Assassins? Seoul…..South Korea. Jeez! Google Map that shit, why don’t you?!) in the final round of the competition. Terrence J. says: “This is a battle for world supremacy”. Ummm…..last time I checked, South Korea and the United States are close friends and allies, and have been this way since 1950. So where exactly does “world supremacy” come into play with this b-boy dance-off? I have no fucking clue – and apparently, neither does Terrence J.

 

The three saving graces in “Battle of the Year” are the music, the dancing and an EXCELLENT end-credit sequence where b-boy teams from all over the world show off their talents on the Battle of the Year stage. But apart from that sequence (which is worth skipping the rest of the movie to see), music and dancing are the two key elements one can expect in any and every dance film. So why can’t we, at least, get a great story, relatable characters and passable, if not great, acting to go along with it, instead of a predictable plot, terrible acting, and characters that you DO NOT give a shit about? I have no fucking clue – and apparently, neither does this movie.

 

“BATTLE OF THE YEAR” – 1 out of 5 stars (“Of course it sucked”)

 

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MOVIE 43 / INAPPROPRIATE COMEDY – Ladies and gents, I present to you two of the worst sketch comedy films ever conceived. Now you’re probably wondering: “Why am I writing on these two movies at once, instead of one after the other?” Simply put, they’re one and the same.

 

Now I will admit – “Movie 43” is the better (and I use this term VERY loosely) of the two. It has a bigger budget, a large cast of A-list actors (most of whom are listed on that unappealing and unimaginative poster on the top left), production duties by Charles Wessler and Peter Farrelly (both of whom collaborated on gross-out comedy classics like “Dumb and Dumber” and“There’s Something About Mary”), and directorial duties handled by names like Steve Carr (“Next Friday”, “Daddy Day Care”), Griffin Dunne (star of the cult classics – strongly recommended by yours truly – “An American Werewolf in London” and “After Hours”), Brett Ratner (The “Rush Hour” trilogy) and even the remarkably attractive Elizabeth Banks who stars in one of the sketches (not hers, fortunately). “Inappropriate Comedy”  however, only has two A-list performers: Adrien Brody (who you may remember winning a Best Actor Academy Award for his role in Roman Polanski’s powerful WWII drama “The Pianist”) and Michelle Rodriguez (star of “The Fast and the Furious”“Fast & Furious” and the recent  “Fast and Furious 6”). The rest of the cast consists of Z-list actors like Rob Schneider (who, throughout the years, has become a literal poster boy for bad movies) and Lindsay Lohan (whose shitty Lifetime biopic “Liz & Dick”, based on the stormy relationship between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, rightfully earned a spot on my Worst Movies of 2012 list).

 

“Movie 43” has something that resembles a narrative. The sketches (16 in all) are tied together to a story about a man (played by Dennis Quaid) pitching movie ideas to a Hollywood producer (Greg Kinnear). However, when I saw the film for myself, I was presented with a completely different story. In this “alternate version”, a teenage loser named Calvin gets his “Jackass-esque stunts at home” YouTube page hacked by his younger brother (whose name escapes me). Calvin, with the assistance of his loser friend (whose name also escapes me), seek revenge. They make up a lie about an illegal, infamous video called ‘Movie 43’ – “the most dangerous movie in the world” according to “Whatshisface”- that must be discovered. Calvin’s brother is intrigued, and he uses his older brother’s laptop to scour the Internet for “Movie 43”. Meanwhile, Calvin takes his brother’s laptop, locks himself in the bathroom, and scours the Internet for porn, with the hopes of downloading enough viruses to crash the laptop. Now that’s what you call a fool-proof PROOF plan! While Calvin and “Whatshisface” search for the movie, they stumble on a number of videos (you guessed it….the 16 sketches), each stunningly awful than the next.

 

“Inappropriate Comedy” (or “InAPPropriate Comedy” as it’s rightfully marketed as), however, has no narrative. It’s as if the director of this movie – which just so happens to be Vince Offer (Who?!) a.k.a. the guy from the ShamWow! TV commercials (Oh, that motherfucker!) – took out a dictionary, looked for the word “narrative”, laughed to himself at the meaning, ripped the dictionary page out and wiped his ass with it! What’s left of that page is “Inappropriate Comedy”. My apologies for that analogy first and foremost, but seriously – there is absolutely no plot in this movie! NONE! “Inappropriate Comedy” starts off with a blink-and-you-miss-it spoof of the FANTASTIC Danny Boyle survival drama “127 Hours” where Vince Offer (in a totally unnecessary cameo) has his leg stuck underneath a boulder in a cave. Another guy walks past by him and finds himself looking up a air vent (on the roof of the cave, mind you) and enjoying the upskirt view of a Marilyn Monroe-impersonating (for no clear reason whatsoever) Lindsay Lohan. After an opening title sequence that begins with a baffling fade-to-white transition through the panties of Ms. Lohan (Even I couldn’t make that shit up), the upskirt lover finds an iPod that contains unheard off apps (hence the “app” in InAPPropriate Comedy”. Get it?) with names like “Blackass”, “Flirty Harry”, “The Amazing Racist” and “The Porno Review”. At this point, my dictionary page analogy should make more sense to you.

 

Both of these films are mental exercises in bad taste, bad storytelling and bad filmmaking. They’re as crass, tasteless and vulgar as one would expect from two “outrageous” (as they were advertised to be) R-rated comedies, but also brainless, tedious, dull and unfunny. All the sketches in both of these films SUCK ASS! Not one of these sketches had a smidget of genuine humour and intelligence. Comparing “Movie 43” with “Inappropriate Comedy” is like comparing “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” with “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”. One may be slightly better than the other, but the fact still remains that they’re both unremarkable.

 

The sketches in “Movie 43” are painful to watch, as actor after A-list actor humiliate themselves on-screen in career-derailing performances.  Examples include: a blind date between Kate Winslet and Hugh Jackman which goes awry after Hugh reveals that instead of an Adam’s Apple, he has a giant scrotum hanging down his neck; a marriage proposal by Chris Pratt (from “Parks and Recreation”) to Anna Faris (his real-life wife, by the way) that’s completely reversed into a request by Anna for Chris to defecate on her; Richard Gere endorsing an MP3 player designed as a life-sized replica of a nude woman; Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott torturing a leprechaun (played by Gerard Butler —what….the….fuck?!!!) for gold coins; and Chloe Grace Moretz (from “Kick-Ass”, “Kick-Ass 2” and the recent “Carrie” remake) embarrassed by the reaction of  her crazily over-reacting friend (after sharing her first kiss with him, mind you), his brother (played by “Kick-Ass”/ “Kick-Ass 2” co-star Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and father after having her first period. Laughing yet? Neither am I. But my least favourite (not like I had a favourite one, anyway) was a mockumentary-like sketch where real-life couple Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber play the parents of a teenager named Kevin (Jeremy Allen White) whom they have home-schooled. They needlessly and cruelly humiliate Kevin throughout this segment, by teasing him, bullying him, hazing him (in a high-school-like environment), and in an extremely uncomfortable scene, teaching him how to ‘french kiss’ (both parents do this, by the way). As if seeing Hugh Jackman with a nutsack on his neck wasn’t bad enough, this home-school skit took me completely out of the movie. What were these filmmakers thinking with that sketch? Did they think that audiences would like it? Did they find humour in something that distasteful? If one of the filmmakers’ two intentions of that skit was to offend the audience, then they surely succeeded. But if the other intention is to make the audience laugh, then I’m guessing that they’ll be rewarded with dead silence.

 

The skits are “Inappropriate Comedy” are much worse, and much more offensive than “Movie 43”. When it comes to shamelessly poking fun at Jews, African-Americans, homosexuals, Asians and even Caucasians, “Inappropriate Comedy” pulls no punches, and punches the viewer in the head repeatedly to remind you that it pulls no punches! “Flirty Harry”, for example, has Adrien Brody, the Best Actor Academy Award winner, playing a gay version of the iconic Clint Eastwood cop character “Dirty” Harry Callahan. While imitating Clint’s gruff, gravel voice and dispensing justice in an unintelligent, stereotypical gay manner, Adrien spits out a slew of double entendres like: “Go ahead! Make me gay!”“Suck it up” and “So I went in….balls to the wall” . “Blackass” has a small group of African Americans doing “Jackass”-like stunts, but with an unfunny ebonic twist. The worst of these stunts involve a mouse, a mouse trap, an erect penis bulging out the owner’s drawers, and cream cheese on its tip. I’ll leave it up to you to figure out the outcome. “The Porno Review” (a spoof of the “At the Movies” TV show which starred the late, great film critic Roger Ebert. Imagine his response to this movie if he got the chance to see it) saw Rob Schneider and Michelle Rodriguez reviewing porno flicks, with a rating system based on the ejaculation level of a guy named Bob (Jonathan Spencer) who sits behind them, masturbating at the imagery on-screen (What…….the …….fuck?!!!!). But the worse thing, by far, in this film was “The Amazing Racist”. Some asshole named Ari Shaffer racially offends African-Americans, Asians and Jews (which he is) in a number of mind-numbingly unfunny segments throughout the film. In one segment, Ari plays a driving instructor who constantly insults a young Asian-American man and woman (in separate incidents) with stereotypical comments. Another segment, where Ari and his assistant are at a beach, shows African-American passerbys being encouraged to board a medium-sized boat to “go back to Africa”. Not only are these segments offensive, but they’re long, boring, bereft of humour and annoying as fuck! While suffering through these segments in particular, I observed a few instances where individuals responded to Ari’s dumb comments and questions by asking him “Are you serious?” . Along with other questions like “Who is this film made for?”, “Why was this film made?” and “WHAT…. THE….. FUCK?!!”, “Are you serious?” is just as pertinent a question to ask oneself while sitting through this film.

 

“Movie 43” and “Inappropriate Comedy” aren’t just two of the worst movies of 2013. They’re two of the worst movies in existence! These films don’t deserve a one-star rating or a half-star rating (“Burn this movie…..LITERALLY) from me. But fortunately for them, they’ll be the first to be given a brand-new rating: one that I never considered adding to this blog until now. Drumroll please…..

 

“MOVIE 43” & “INAPPROPRIATE COMEDY” – 0 out of 5 stars (“YOU ON REL SHIT!!”)

– Matthew

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PSA

With less than four weeks until Christmas Day, it’s about that time for me to step off my virtual pulpit for a while and focus my energy on some upcoming content.  Like I’ve done for the past couple years, I’ll be working on my lists (i.e. ‘Best Movies of 2013′, ‘Worst Movies of 2013’, ‘Best Hip Hop Albums of 2013’ – ’cause I love hip hop, so sue me) throughout the duration of December.
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