Welcome to the DFL's new go to blog about music and movies! Here at the Duxbury Free Library we have a wide array of movies in all genres from Action and Adventure to Comedy and Horror. We also have a ton of television shows including new seasons of True Blood, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and of course Downton Abbey. So if anyone is like me and is saddened by the demise of movie rental stores, fear not! The DFL is the place for all your video rental needs. As if a great selection of DVD's wasn't enough, the DFL also has a fantastic selection of CD's covering all styles of music from all eras. Be sure to check in and see reviews and write ups on some of the best music and movies, new and old, that the DFL has just waiting for you to take out

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

This Morning's Playlist

1. No Hair No Flair - White Pages
2. Brill Bruisers - The New Pornographers
3. Drown the the Monster - White Lung
4. Cheap Talk - Death From Above 1979
5. Something Came Over Me - Wild Flag

Bob Mould In All His Alternative Glory

Bob Mould has once again succeeded at creating alternative rock gold.  His latest solo album Beauty and Ruin has the same raw intensity seen in his time with Husker Du while maintaining the more alt rock oriented sound of his early solo albums and influential 90’s band Sugar.  The albums 10 tracks combine elements of alternative, punk, grunge, and rock in a way which can best be described as a mash up between the Foo Fighters and Bad Religion if you must draw a comparison.  Lead in track “Low Season” starts with a haunting and mesmerizing guitar riff which navigates slowly through a melancholy drum beat and comes crashing down with the symbols during the chorus setting a dark and mystifying tone which is abandoned on second track “Little Glass Pill” which hits you like a ton of bricks after chilling out to the slow opener.  The tracks fast, punk rock tempo startles you at first but reminds you that this is in fact the ex-guitarist for one of the preeminent 80’s hardcore bands of the Midwest.  “I Don’t Know You Anymore” follows with a more pop rock, radio friendly sound before continuing into “Kid With Crooked Face” which brings us right back to the blistering tempo and punk sound of Glass Pill and ends up sounding the most like Husker Du on the album alongside the later track “Tomorrow Morning”.  “Nemeses are Laughing” comes next and again returns to the radio rock of some of the earlier tracks.  Mould manages to switch back and forth almost seamlessly providing catchy songs for both mainstream rock fans and underground die-hards.  “The War” comes next and is one of the best songs on the album employing a mix of 70’s punk influences and pop rock to craft a sound similar to the Foo’s.  This sound is continued on “Hey Mr. Grey” but not before cooling off, as is the style of the record, with “Forgiveness” a soft rock ballad with no central guitar riff and a xylophone in the background which definitely sounds the most out of place on the record.  The album comes to a close with two songs which again vary greatly in sound while still maintaining a cohesiveness which ties the album together.  “Let the Beauty Be” is an acoustic soft rock gem which calms your pulse before the record finishes with a bang.  Closing track “Fix It” is some incredible alterna-pop and has the best drums out of all 12 songs which is only fitting as any self-respecting rock album should leave your pulse racing at the end.  In the same vein as Ian Mackaye and his band The Evens, Bob Mould has shown that it is not only possible for the early 80’s hardcore sound to evolve and grow over time but that it’s influences can be used to create something totally new which exemplifies the fact that music is too great and varied to restrict yourself to one style.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

First New Album from U2 in Five Years is FREE!!

So it seems that secret albums are all the rage nowadays after Beyonce dropped her self titled new album nearly a year ago.  This week U2 surprised the world with the announcement of a new album now available online and on iTunes which is FREE to download.  This isn't an EP or a single but a full length album, their 13th to date.  Titled "Songs of Innocence" the album has received very positive reviews and lets be honest, it's free music so who cares what it sounds like?

Only Lovers Left Alive - A Different Take on the Vampire Story

                The Vampire story has been done to death (pun intentional).  Movies, TV, books, virtually every platform there is has been dominated in recent memory by peoples fascination with the blood sucking Dracula descendants.  That being said, there are still some films which tackle the genre without giving in to popular demand for violent action sequences like in Underworld, or teen romance and alienation like in Twilight
                Such is the case with the British/German film Only Lovers Left Alive which takes on the vampire myth similar to the first season of True Blood in which the focus is heavily on both the history of the vampires themselves and who they are as people.  The film focuses on Adam and Eve played by Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton.  The couple has lived for centuries and has had a hand in influencing many great works of art and music as well as breakthroughs in the fields of science and technology (Adam’s house in the abandoned slums of Detroit is run by technology he helped develop with Nicola Tesla).  Despite all their achievements, knowledge, and wealth, the two have become increasingly disillusioned with not just life, but humanity as a whole; particularly Adam who frequently refers to humans as “zombies” and sees them as mindless drones incapable of any true creation or discovery.  Adam goes so far as to ask a human boy who routinely acquires rare musical equipment for him to get him a wooden bullet as he sits alone in his home and contemplates suicide.  After a quick video call to his wife Eve who has lived the past several years in Tangier, he convinces her to return from her extended holiday where she has spent time rapidly pouring through endless stacks of books.  The two have moved beyond the need to feed on humans and instead get sustenance from a blood bank where Adam has paid off a doctor.  After increased attention from locals, and an unwelcome visit from Eve’s younger sister Ava who is both immature and unpredictable, the two decide to return to Eve’s home in Tangier.  After arriving the two pay a visit to Eve’s source of blood, an ancient vampire named Christopher Marlowe (played by John Hurt) who gets them their sustenance from various sources.  However, they find a sickly and dying Marlowe in bed after consuming a batch of tainted blood.  Now Adam and Eve, stumbling through the streets in a hunger stricken daze notice a young couple in an alley and realize that there is no escaping what must be done.

               Overall, I did have some problems with the film.  Much of the historical references are difficult to ascertain which coupled with the lack of any sort of vampire activity like feeding on humans makes it hard to see Adam and Eve as vampires and not just reclusive intellectuals.  In addition, when the two consume blood it has a euphoric, almost drug induced effect on them which leads to drawn out scenes of psychedelic dancing and other activities which starts to get a little annoying.  That being said, I understand why the film does it as it shows that at their core, they are still creatures with the primal need to feed on the blood of humans.  Something that is inescapable despite their extremely civilized and intellectual existence. 

                In the end, the film is a very interesting take on the vampire myth and is done in a way that allows you to focus on the experience of a vampire; what their day to day mentality is and what their personality has developed into over centuries of life as opposed to watching them fight werewolves.  While I would have LOVED to see some historical reenactment in the form of flashbacks as I think that is what contributes to some of the greatest vampire movies ever, I still think that there was enough historical reference to keep you smiling.  Only Lovers Left Alive is a film that sacrifices the big budget blockbuster aspects of most vampire stories of today in favor of a more low key love story.  It is simply another chapter in the long lives of these two lovers which we get to look in on, and that is what makes the film so unique.

Today's Playlist

1. Low Season - Bob Mould
2. Dreams - Sebadoh
3. Drunken Butterfly - Sonic Youth
4. A Mirror - Sonic Youth
5. Giving Into Seeing - Cloud Nothings

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Divergent - Another Poorly Done YA Novel Adaptation

Here we go again, another YA novel movie adaptation which tries to capitalize on the popularity of the Hunger Games but fails miserably.  This would be fine if it hadn't happened a bunch of times already (I’m looking at you Mortal Instruments).  Divergent capitalizes on the public’s current obsession with dystopian science fiction but fails to create a story which is either emotionally charged or particularly exciting 
                The story focuses on Beatrice, a citizen of the destroyed city of Chicago 100 years after the “end of the world”.  She lives in a society separated into five factions which are designed to keep people in line based on their personality traits.  Beatrice belongs to Abnegation which is the selfless class and the ruling government body.  However, at the age of 16 every member of society is allowed to choose which faction they wish to be a part of.  Once the decision is made, there is no going back.  Beatrice much decide between the safe decision of staying with her family or the hard decision of leaving them behind forever and joining the military faction Dauntless which she has always envied.  If she joins them and fails, she risks becoming faction-less and having to live on the streets with no food or shelter.              
                Before choosing, Beatrice is evaluated only to find out that she is a Divergent meaning she fits into not one but three categories.  Her evaluator hurries her out the door and tells her never to speak of this.  Divergents threaten the system which has kept this society in line for over a century and are thus eliminated.  When the time comes, Beatrice decides to join Dauntless and leaves her family behind to start her new life.  The trials are difficult but she manages to pick herself up after every fall and keep working at it, determined to succeed.  Eventually, Beatrice finds herself at the center of a plot to overthrow Abnegation by the intelligence faction Erudite.  Beatrice must work together with her Dauntless instructor Four to try and save her old faction. 
                The story has more holes in it than I know what to do with and was predictable from start to finish.  There are so many questions, which makes it difficult to take the concept seriously.  Why don’t the faction-less rise up and overthrow the others?  Why does no one have any desire to leave the city of Chicago?  Are there other settlements around the country or the world?  It’s been over 100 years since the end of civilization and no one has once thought about trying to contact other pockets of survivors?  Are we meant to believe that Chicago was the only place to survive?  And these are just the big questions!  Beatrice’s decision to leave her faction and join Dauntless is supposed to be emotional because she will never get to see her family again and yet she takes a Saturday stroll to see her brother in Erudite one afternoon as if it’s no big deal.  I could go on and on.  In the end, the issue is that humans are far more complex and free thinking than this system implies.  It just wouldn't hold up for the 100 years it has.  

                Now let me take a minute to confess that I haven’t read the books.  Many of these questions may be answered in subsequent sequels.  But the questions weren’t the only problem with the film.  The sub par romance between Beatrice and Four was predictable and completely unnecessary.  The films climax is over in 15 minutes and even that is far too long as a mind controlled Dauntless army stands ready to shoot every member of Abnegation awaiting only the Erudite leader’s final command.  But in typical Bond villain fashion, an exorbitant amount of time is wasted allowing Beatrice and Four to save the day.  
                Overall, the film felt hurried and poorly thought out.  When this genre is done correctly, it can make for an exciting film for all ages as in the case of movies like Enders Game or Percy Jackson and the Lightning Theif.  But Divergent was a prime example of a movie that left WAY too much to the imagination which for someone over the age of 18, was hard to overlook.  Unless you can relate to Beatrice on a personal level (i.e you’re a teenage girl who doesn't feel like she fits in, but can overcome any obstacle if she puts her mind to it) than the film just isn't for you.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Noah - Slightly Embellished, But That's a Good Thing

Noah was a standard Russell Crowe epic with breathtaking effects and a story which was slightly embellished (this is Hollywood we’re talking about).  Personally, I am not a religious person so I had little knowledge of the story of Noah and the Ark besides the two of every animal detail which I’m sure almost everyone is aware of.  That being said, the film didn't
seem to stem too far from truth.  The tale begins with Noah as a boy witnessing the death of his father.  It shows that from an early age, Noah was made brutally aware of the evils of humanity.  Fast forward many years and we find an adult Noah who is living peacefully with his wife Naameh (played by Jennifer Connelly) and their three sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth.  After having several dreams of a great flood and witnessing the growth of a flower at his feet, Noah decides to take his family to seek advice from his grandfather Methuselah.  After escaping the clutches of the same ruthless band of people who had a hand in his father’s death, Noah and his family make it to the scorched land inhabited by the Watchers, fallen angels who've lost touch with the Creator because of their willingness to help Adam and Eve after the Fall.  Along the way, they pick up the orphaned Ila (played by Emma Watson) and welcome her into their family.  After reaching the top of the mountain, Methuselah (expertly portrayed by Anthony Hopkins) informs Noah that he was chosen by the Creator to save the animals, the so called “innocents” from a great flood which is supposed to wipe out the Creator’s biggest mistake, humans.  Noah accepts and after planting a seed from the Garden of Eden, given to him by Methuselah, witnesses the immediate growth of a massive forest.  Upon seeing the work of the creator right before their eyes, the Watchers agree to help Noah build the Ark.  Throughout the course of the film Noah is faced with difficult choices and does his best to carry out the Creator’s wishes, even when it means potentially killing members of his own family.  While at first I was skeptical, the movie turned out to be very entertaining.  I enjoyed learning the back story of Noah’s lineage and Anthony Hopkins portrayal of Methuselah is worth the price of admission in and of itself.  Stunning visual effects and some emotionally charged moments between Noah and other members of his family contribute to the success of this film for sure.  Not only that, but the embellishments make the film feel more like a Sci-Fi/Fantasy movie than a biblical epic which is a good thing because if you are not a religious person, the movie can be a little much.  However, as with other stories from the Old Testament the fantastical elements make for a compelling and captivating film which was fun to watch and didn't just feel like a Sunday school lesson.

Songs from Today's Playlist

1. Heaven is a Truck - Pavement
2. Gladiator - The Jesus Lizard
3. Low Season - Bob Mould
4. Thin Twin - Hunters
5. Bent Nail - Nothing
6. No Below - Speedy Ortiz
7. Suffragette City - David Bowie
8. Lust for Life - The Stooges
9. This is Anarchy - Tacocat
10. Oliver Twisted - The Vaselines

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Tacocat Issue Incredible Debut LP

Tacocat’s debut full length “NVM” is some spectacular alterna-pop.  The albums thirteen songs sound like a cross between the upbeat new wave of the Go-Go’s, the powerful indie rock of the Breeders, and the soft lighthearted 60’s surf rock of the Beach Boys.  The Seattle based four-piece is starting to burst out of the underground and garner some mainstream attention which is both a good and bad thing.    The members, in true DIY spirit, are all involved in side projects which are not only just as good as Tacocat, but contribute to a scene which has for decades now produced some of the best alternative music the world as ever seen.  Notable tracks include “Bridge to Hawaii” about escaping the dreariness of the northwest by building a bridge to the tropical paradise.  Poppy drums and simple alt riffs contribute to the catchiness of all of Tacocat’s songs, particularly on the 50’s style “Party Trap”  which sounds like something from the Grease soundtrack and is followed punk charged  “F.U. #8”.  The band gives its own take on the popular subject of anarchy in “This is Anarchy” which tackles millennial angst and frustration with the economy.  The riot grrrl charged “Hey Girl” is about the objectification of women and is the heaviest song on the record both in sound and subject matter.  Fans of bands like Dum Dum Girls, or Bleached will LOVE this album though the songs have something for every musical taste.  From start to finish, each and every song is just fun and catchy with great lyrics that make you want to dance around the room and smile.  Plus, their band name is fantastic.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - Simply Superb Sequel

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was spectacular.  The follow up to 2012’s amazing Rise of the Planet of the Apes which rebooted the famed franchise, Dawn continues in the same vein with action packed tension and emotional depth.  Taking place ten years later, we find the world devastated by the Simian Flu, the deadly virus which kills humans and boosts apes intelligence that was shown spreading worldwide at the close of the first film.  Still in the woods outside San Francisco, Caesar has built a developed community and is the leader of a new generation of apes living in peace.  This is until a chance encounter between a group of humans led by a man named Malcom, and Caesar’s son Blue Eyes alongside a fellow ape.  One of the humans with Malcom shoots Blue Eyes’ friend and the group flees.  Caesar decides to lead a large number of apes to the human settlement in a show of force.  Riding into town on horseback and clearly establishing himself as the leader, Caesar addresses the human colony telling them if they stay on their land, the apes will stay on theirs.  This would be fine if it wasn’t for the hydroelectric damn near the ape’s village which the humans desperately need for power.  Malcom convinces their leader Dreyfus (played by Gary Oldman) to give him three days to attempt to make peace with Caesar.  Friendships are created and loyalties broken as Malcom and Caesar attempt to preserve peace contrary to the wishes of Dreyfus who arms the humans for conflict and Koba, Caesar’s second in command who despises humans for the treatment he received under their care before the outbreak.  The film is a cinematic triumph as you sympathize with both the apes and the humans.  Neither is in the wrong, and despite the emergence of one distinct villain over the course of the film, everyone involved is just trying to survive and make a life for themselves.  The scenes between Malcom and Caesar are by far some of the most powerful as Caesar comes to realize that there are plenty of decent humans left and that despite his na├»ve point of view, there are plenty of evil apes.  The film contrasts the societies of the apes and humans in wonderfully unique ways to show that while we are different, we are very much the same.  This realization of equality is all the more heart wrenching as the two sides fall deeper and deeper into a conflict which will inevitably lead to all-out war.  Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has proven that the first film was not a one hit wonder and that the newly revamped franchise is only going to get better and better.  The film is still playing in some theatres so go see it while you still have the chance!