Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Top 5 Posts of 2011

These are my most-viewed posts of 2011!!!

1. My Gay Friend

2. My Top Movies of 2010 & Academy Award Predictions

3. Is Photography Art?

4. The 45 Most Powerful Images of 2011

5. The 5th of November - Best "V for Vendetta" Quotes

I hope you guys enjoyed the blog-posts last year and I look forward to keeping up the movie reviews and cultural critiques in 2012! Thanks for all the support; you guys are great!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

DJ Earworm's Year-End Mashups

At the end of every year, DJ Earworm mixes the top 25 hit songs of the year into 1 huge dance anthem mashup. Here's his new 2011 mashup, followed by all his other ones too! (And they are all available for free on his website:

United State of Pop 2011 (World Go Boom)

United State of Pop 2010 (Don't Stop the Pop)

United State of Pop 2009 (Blame it on the Pop)

United State of Pop 2008 (Viva la Pop)

United State of Pop 2007

Still want more? Check out my other favorite DJ Earworm Mashups by clicking the "Read more" jump! (Don't forget you can download them for free at

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Bumpy Ride

Review: War Horse

Prior to its release, War Horse was poised to be a galloping good time for the whole family, while simultaneously being a potential contender for an Academy Award. However, despite being directed by the great Steven Spielberg, I can’t help but feel that this film has been over-hyped leading up to its opening weekend and overly praised afterwards. It seems to be that simply because it is a film expected to be up for an Oscar, people are determined to absolutely love it.

Not to take anything away from The King’s Speech, a delightful film and certainly much better than War Horse, but it serves as a good example of audiences seeming to be determined to love a film before they have even seen it. You knew you were going to like it before going into the theater. The King’s Speech met expectations. War Horse does not. But the Oscar-buzz band-wagon seems to have stopped so many critics from delivering the critique the film deserves, in favor of the critique people expect.

So what led to the disappointment of my expectations? Frankly, it was rather dull. Sure, horses are powerful and noble creatures. But in a live-action film set during the First World War, having an animal as your primary protagonist for the full 2½ hour run-time loses a certain level of connectivity the audience has with the story.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Powerful, Provocative, and Certainly Not For Everyone

Review: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

It has been said that there are two types of people in this world: those with tattoos and those who are afraid of people with tattoos. That may be true, because I am certainly afraid of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. This tattooed girl is Lisbeth Salander, played by Rooney Mara, a cyberpunk computer hacker with a haunted past who is hired to help recently disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist, portrayed by Daniel Craig, to solve a 40 year old missing person case.

In last year’s hit film, The Social Network, Mara played side-character Erica Albright and her scene in the bar with Jesse Eisenberg’s Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg which introduced the film was one the many brilliant dialogues of the movie. In Dragon Tattoo, Mara is rejoined by The Social Network director David Fincher who crafts an eerie, yet powerful story and allows Mara to take the headlining role in one of 2011’s most intriguing films.

Dragoon Tattoo is an interesting crime investigation, on par with Fincher’s other detective thrillers, Zodiac and Se7en. In it, charismatic billionaire Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) hires Craig’s journalist Mikael to investigate the disappearance of his niece 40 years earlier. Mikael reluctantly takes the job because Vanger promises him evidence to prove he was right in a controversial lawsuit which left his reputation discredited. Along the way, Mikael hires an assistant, Mara’s damaged Lisbeth, and together they cut through the tangled web of lies weaved by the Vanger family.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Your Mission, Should You Choose To Accept It…

Review: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol 

Is to go see this movie!

At first glance, a third sequel in an over-decade old film series starring an actor pushing 50 and directed by someone who before this has only directed cartoons does not sound very promising. But Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is breathlessly energetic and surprisingly thrilling.

Forget Scientology and jumping on Oprah’s couch, Tom Cruise remains one of the best, if not the best, action stars in the world. He’s a great actor, capable of a range of emotions, but can be funny too. As Ethan Hunt in Ghost Protocol, Cruise gets to show off all the things that he does best, including his action-star run which is unrivaled in Hollywood.

And by the end of the movie, you’ll feel like you have been running too, as almost every second of the movie is infused with pulse-pounding action and jaw-dropping stunts. There are four main missions in the film and each one is a fascinating combination of futuristic (yet believable) technology and impressive physical feats.

The scene in Dubai is particularly impressive when we watch Cruise dangle over a hundred stories in the air as he scales Burj Khalifa, the world’s largest building. Part of what makes this scene so impressive is that, along with many other scenes in the film, it was filmed in IMAX so that if you see it in an IMAX theater, you truly feel as though you are over a hundred stories in the air. It literally takes your breath away. Cruise, by the way, did all of his own stunts; so that's really him you see up there!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Do You Want To Play A Game?

Review: Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows

Professor Moriarty: “Are you sure you want to play this game?”

Sherlock Holmes; “I’m afraid you’d lose.”

Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows, director Guy Ritchie’s follow-up to his 2009 hit Sherlock Holmes, is in fact a fast-paced game of intellect and mystery; a clever face-off pitting the always charming pairing of Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock and Jude Law’s Dr. James Watson against the nefarious Professor Moriarty, played by James Harris (seen next as General Ulysses S. Grant in Steven Spielburg's biopic Lincoln).

The filmmakers clearly looked back on what worked so well in the first film and incorporated them well into the sequel. This means you can expect the same level of clever wit, particularly in the banter between Downey Jr. and Law who continue to bicker like an old married couple. The rehashing of old jokes actually works relatively well in this film and even though they may not be as fresh this time around, they certainly don’t bomb as bad as the reused jokes in the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels.

Monday, December 5, 2011

My Gay Friend

Another one of those papers for my Intercultural Communication class, this one describing how an intercultural relationship has influenced me...

“Really? Are you joking?” I asked.

“No. I’m seriously gay,” insisted Zack.

“Oh,” I responded, “that’s… interesting.”

The “coming-out” conversation is always at least a little awkward for everyone involved. The conversation I had with my friend Zack occurred freshman year, around two months into the school year. Zack’s homosexuality genuinely surprised everyone on our hall. Zack had always been athletic, running track and playing tennis, and didn’t seem to have any interest in fashion, or dancing, or Lady Gaga. I cannot remember him fitting a single stereotype of being gay. But there I sat with his roommate, Sean, learning the news.

My friendship with Zack during my college experience, while not really one of my closest friendships, has been one of the more significant factors that have influenced how I see and construct my perceptions of the world. I grew up in the deeply entrenched beliefs of the Southern Baptist Church and was influenced by all of their thoughts, positions, and creeds (SBCV, the Baptist Faith & Message, etc.). The opinions I formulated about homosexuality originated from my religious indoctrination (not a word I necessarily consider to be negative) and were opinions that I knew were absolutely and unequivocally “right” and morally-sound. In short, homosexuality was unnatural, sinful, and wrong, no exceptions. Of course, I didn’t know any LGBT people at the time and knew nothing about the experiences of those individuals.