2CELLOS – IN2ITION

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2CELLOS – IN2ITION

Sony MASTERWORKS – 2013

 

 

2CELLOS are back with their second album featuring an assortment of tunes ranging from pop to heavy metal and back to classical.

It was surprising Elton John’s vocals in “Oh Well”, because you tend to forget at one time he did rock harder.

The harmonious rhythm of “We Found Love,” made famous by Rihanna, really flows from the two Croatian cellists.

AC/DC staple “Highway To Hell” let’s the guys jam and are joined by guitarist extraordinaire Steve Vai.

The bass line Sting played in “Every Breath You Take” is seamlessly carried out and The Police song is wonderful choice to ease down after the rocking song before it.

Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser recreate Muses’ guitar riff for “Supermassive Black Hole” on Cello and use sound effects to rockify their sound.  Glee actress Naya Rivera adds a sexy flirtatious voice that works.

I know 2CELLOS like to rock but I did not expect a rendition of the Racer-X song “Technical Difficulties.”  The fact that these guys appreciate the music of that monstrously talented heavy metal band impressed me big-time.  They’ve taken what guitarist supreme Paul Gilbert and drummer Mark Scott Travis (who’s been in Judas Priest since 1990 Painkiller album) wrote and transformed the high energy into their unique styling.

Coldplay’s “Clocks” sounds wonderful on Cello and having Lang Lang’s dynamic piano featured takes the tune even higher.

Sky Ferreira’s sultry voice sounds great against the sad harmony of “Bang Bang” (first performed by Cher and Nancy Sinatra).

I would be surprised if people didn’t’ get up and move with the instrumental beat of “Voodoo People” (The Prodigy song).  Its percussive nature is infectious.

The Elton John song “Candle In The Wind” almost sounds like an American Heritage song on Cello.

“Orient Express” is an original 2CELLOS track that the guys drew inspiration from m their Balkan roots.  It does have a persistent forward rhythm much like that of a train, which is appropriate since The Orient Express was a legendary train from Paris to Istanbul that passed through the Balkans.

“Il Libro Dell ‘Amore features Zucchero on vocals.  It’s a nice love song that would to would touch any soul.

The longest piece is a soft classical tune called “Benedictus.”  I could easily hear this track played softly in a museum or coffee house.

Steve Hunter adds his soulful guitar to a Bonus Track version of “Every Breath You Take.”  The guys wrap the CD up with “The Book of Love.”   This is a gentle way for the 2CELLOS to ease you out of their second release.

www.2cellos.com

www.sonymasterworks.com

Found.

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Found.

XLrator Media – 2014

Directed by Scott Schirmer

Screenplay by Todd Rigney and Scott Schirmer

Novel by Todd Rigney

 

Starring
Gavin Brown
Ethan Philbeck
Phyllis Munro
Louie Lawless

 I know DVD distributors have to hype their movies; it’s what gets people interested in renting or buying their products.  But after reading all the blurbs on the DVD cover of this movie, I was expecting a masterpiece.  Unfortunately it’s not but it does have some things about it that were positive.  There are other aspects not so good.

A young boy named Marty (Gavin Brown) is doing well in school and is overall a decent kid.  Some classmates at school start teasing & bullying him and at home his parents don’t seem to have a clue on what he really needs from them.  Worse Marty is aware of a dark, horrible secret that threatens to overtake his life as he knows it.  His brother (Ethan Philbeck) is a serial killer.

Found. (period is meant to be there as it is in the title) has a strange feel to it as it plays like a straight family movie, maybe even an after school special.  But then it gets gory and perversely sexual, which makes it somewhat shocking and controversial.

There’s no question that novelist/co-screenwriter Todd Rigney and director/co-screenwriter Scott Schirmer have guts, because they aren’t’ afraid of letting things hang out that would normally be taboo.  This will get this movie some attention and probably satisfy the thrill-seekers who are looking for forbidden material not usually seen in movies (the movie company is even called Forbidden Films).  But I think it will turn off just as many other folks who will find what’s shown appalling and maybe even distasteful.

The thing I liked most about Found was the storyline of a kid obsessed with horror movies and drawing comic books.  This is something I know all too well and can relate to.  These moments are so personal that I have to believe that they are coming from either the writer or director’s own lives.

I also love the small town setting.  As I was watching the movie, I said to my friend that it looked like the film was shot in the mid-west, because it featured flashback VHS video store (I miss those), historic movie theater (they don’t make them like it anymore) and general onscreen backdrop.  This proved accurate as the end credits listed that it was shot in multiple places within the State of Indiana, including French Lick (famous for NBA Legend Larry Bird).

Another quality was how the writer/director weren’t afraid of quickly showing Marty’s awareness of his brother’s grisly serial killer work.  Also by revealing Marty’s knowledge of his family’s little dirty secrets, it opened doors to all sorts of storyline possibilities.

What hurts the movie the most was the acting.  I’d say that besides the young actors Gavin Brown and Ethan Philbeck, who both were questionable at times, the rest of the cast was disappointing.  The adults were uniformly awful.  Overacting and forced physical moments sabotaged much of the film and some of this has to fall on the director.

Common sense says the director is young and inexperienced.  This is not only reflected in the performances but visually the movie looks like it was made from someone ho just came out of film school.  I didn’t like the shots, which were not only flat and uninspired, but almost every one of them looked too close or too far away, which hurts the movie as well.  The director of photography has to be cited for this as well.

I have to talk about the carnage.  Gore was fascinating when I was a teenager (another clue to the filmmaker’s age) but filmmakers should never mistake that bloodshed equals terror.  Gore is not scary.   Suspense is.  The combination of this movie spilling lots of red stuff and no attempt at constructing suspense also takes it down a couple notches.  The only thing gore does for me now is create a sense of revulsion and sometimes laughter when it looks too fake.  By lingering on gore, you risk making the audience turn away from the film or laughing at it.  Is that smart to do for long periods of time?

The other problem is that besides the boy, there weren’t any likable characters.  So when people start to get knocked off, you might actually be glad they’re removed from the film so you don’t have to endure their bad acting anymore.   Plus since you didn’t like them anyway, you could care less what happened to them and that’s not what a good storyteller wants the audience to feel.

There’s no doubt that director Scott Schirmer has promise.  Not only did he make a full length feature film that got released (which is a monumental accomplishment), but it’s obvious he is passionate about filmmaking.  He would probably vehemently disagree with me about what I’ll say next, especially after receiving so much praise.  But what’s important now is for him to look at his film from a distance, seeing where he can improve.  I think it will be important to figure out how to work with better people in front and behind the camera.  No self respecting filmmaker will want to admit to needing to do this, but in this case it could be his revelation.

I’m curious to see what he does next.

www.xlratormedia.com

Aftermath (Blu-ray)

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Aftermath (Blu-ray)

Image Entertainment – 2014

Directed by Peter Engert

Written by Christian McDonald

 

Starring
Edward Furlong
Monica Keena
Andrew Royo
Jessie Rusu
C.J. Thomason
Christine Kelly

 

What I really appreciated about this nuclear apocalypse movie was that it didn’t feature zombies.  Sure, I enjoy watching the undead shuffle about and make meals out of humans like the next guy, but let’s be honest…zombies are played out.

Instead, this story focuses on the plights of a group of nine desperate strangers who take refuge in a farmhouse cellar.  While radioactive fallout darkens the world above, these folks fight against limited supplies, poisonous air, each other and finally other humans who will kill for their food and shelter.

I give high marks to Director Peter Engert for his storytelling ability and nuances with not just the actors but the camera.  Speaking of camera, Aftermath looks sensational as Cinematographer Scott Winig (Laid to Rest) paints the screen with light, shadow and color.  The images he captures for Engert are rich with detail and texture.

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Edward (Terminator 2: Judgment Day) Furlong gets top-billing, but maybe because of the annoying character he plays “Brad”, he doesn’t stand out as much as C.J. Thomason as “Hunter.”  Thomason is not only truthfully the movie’s lead, but his character is smart, heroic and worth taking this nihilistic journey with.  The actor gives the character many layers and he has onscreen chemistry with heroine “Elizabeth” portrayed by Monica (Freddy vs. Jason) Keena.  Keena plays the role with grounded approach, coming across believable and likable.

I think the film’s shooting locations add to the story’s credibility.  The exterior locations are best photographed during the movie’s opening credits.  These shots look like they were painstakingly designed with special attention given to coating the photographic surface with the best these places had to offer.  There is obvious use of filters and I’m sure color correction, but what movie doesn’t utilize these tools of the trade.

I read that this production run into big-time trouble when the first director was replaced right before shooting started.  With that fact in mind, the end product is even more impressive.

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Like any potent apocalyptic movie, there’s not a lot of optimism where the storyline goes for these characters.  But for this journalist, that just fine when the results turn out this darn good.

www.watchimage.com