Vanilla Sky

Aural Fixation - Large

We may stand in line to get our hands on the latest technology and watch as record stores close their doors as more and more music fans turn to iTunes and digital downloads instead of physical CDs, but there is still something about vinyl records that keep people coming back for more. While digital files are crisp and polished, it is almost impossible for a studio to duplicate the richness that comes from vinyl – plus those little imperfections and pops that come from listening to a record can sometimes be the best part. Even though CDs may seem like they are becoming a way of the past, there is a new trend coming forward and one that seems to be popping up more and more with soundtrack releases – the option to get these compilations on vintage vinyl. While he is known for creating electric scores for films such as Traffic and Contagion, Cliff Martinez’s work is also layered making it a prime choice to take a spin on the ol’ record player. This year Martinez’s work got the vinyl treatment twice with Milan Records releasing his dark and seductive score for Arbitrage and Mondo releasing his iconic score for Drive as a double vinyl album and enlisting artist Tyler Stout to create the album cover and package design. While the large cover that house these records allow artists more room for creative expressive and memorable images, it is the records themselves that give these scores added depth, providing […]

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We Bought a Zoo strives to be Cameron Crowe‘s biggest crowd-pleaser yet, and it’s coming after two of his most splitting features. Elizabethtown was not met kindly and Vanilla Sky either blew your mind or frustrated the hell out of you, despite being a film that made one of the most likable movie stars around a narcissist often hidden under a nightmarish mask — how many directors do that to movie stars? Not many. Crowe doesn’t exactly disfigure Matt Damon in his Christmas release, but the film does what Crowe usually does best: showing good-natured people simply trying to do their best. While speaking to Crowe, he reminded me a lot of his films — someone who clearly wears his heart on his sleeve, and not in an artificial way. In fact, the first thing Crowe said to me left a goofy smile on my face for days, which is what his films usually do as well. The man was kind enough to give me extra time, and even by the end I felt like we could have gone on for hours. The writer-director and I spent more time than I expected but hoped on Vanilla Sky, as well as his writing process, how old films are like diary entries, and why it’s easier to make cynical films nowadays.

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Let’s get this out of the way now: I’m a Cameron Crowe fan. The director has his critics. Most of his divisiveness comes down to the tone of his films, which some find wrongfully cheesy. I, on the other hand, find Crowe’s humanism endearing, never silly or phony. Somehow, when everyone else has drunk the cynical Kool Aid and acts too cool for school towards anything with a big heart, the director remains optimistic about life and (ugh) people. Crowe, who aims high to plant a big smile on your face, does so here more than competently. The surface-level concept of We Bought a Zoo is fairly ridiculous-sounding: Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon) buys and decides to rebuild a broken-down zoo. I’m not sure how We Bought a Zoo differs from Dave Blank’s true life story, and while watching the film and even while writing about it at this very moment, I don’t care. The most important part of Crowe’s adaptation is that, every emotion felt genuine. The “getting the zoo back in shape!” serves as a metaphor for Mee attempting to rebuild his once happy family – heavy shit, right?

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It’s one thing when we’re talking about Alfred Hitchcock having a walk-through in every single one of his films, including one that exclusively takes place on a lifeboat (he appears in a newspaper ad for that one). Sure it’s eccentric but it’s not surprising because, well, they’re his films and he can appear in them as he pleases. What does strike me as weird is when a director shows up totally unexpected in someone else’s film. Usually there is a good reason – either they are producing the film or friends with the cast. However despite the later explanation, it’s still a bit jarring to see, say… the director of Kill Bill in an Adam Sandler comedy…

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With the launch of the iPad coming soon, I have to ask a fundamental question about Apple’s latest gadget: Will it toast your bread while you slice it?

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published: 04.19.2014
A-
published: 04.19.2014
B+
published: 04.18.2014
C-
published: 04.18.2014
C

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