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Month: January 2016

Movie Review — The Revenant (2016)

by Christopher M. Novas

The Revenant

Directed by — Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Cinematography — Emmanuel Lubekzi
Starring — Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Forrest Goodluck
Release date — Dec. 25, 2015 (limited), Jan. 8, 2016 (wide)
Running Time — 156 minutes
Genre — Western/Drama

Going to start off this review with a pretty wild statement — THE REVENANT is a perfect film. It is a cinematic masterpiece. Every piece of this film naturally flows together, leaving no extraneous part. It is a visceral journey of survival, and in large part, a tale of revenge. Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu does not know the meaning of the word flinch. There is a general brutality to the film that is so real, you can taste the iron of blood on the winter winds.

The tone of the film has a general western feel to it, although the frontier we are presented is a barren one, a frozen tundra designed to make men bleed and suffer. It is prime for horror after horror after horror. There is a mythology to the landscape presented in the film that is very biblical in nature.

The film opens up with an artsy flashback of Hugh Glass (DiCaprio), and his Pawnee son, Hawk (Goodluck) years earlier in a Pawnee camp with Hawk’s unnamed mother where it is shown to be attacked and burned to the ground by American soldiers; Glass and Hawk are its only survivors. He tells his young son as long as there is breath in his lungs, to keep fighting and that he will be with him. It highlights a closer, truer bond between a father and son than most films typically portray. It returns to the present day, where Glass and Hawk are hunting elk, and an ambush happens at the camp of fur trappers that Glass is hired to protect from the Arikara (a Native American tribe commonly referred to as the Ree). It is a sequence of scenes that starts off a ballet of blood with an arrow to the throat. They are a series of shots you mentally prepare for, with each close up being deadlier than the last. Bodies are burned and dragged, men are scalped, horses are shot at point blank range, men are shot or pierced with arrows from every direction. It’s incredible.

The turn of the film happens later on, with the already iconic scene that shows Glass being mauled by a grizzly bear. Now, I’ve seen dozens of movies where people have been thrown about by monsters, screaming in agony, etc…but there is simply nothing quite like this. It’s all one-shot. The clawing and biting and ripping and tearing of Glass is something you can feel, the bear coming back to attack again and again to protect her cubs as Glass struggles to put it down with his rifle, and then, finally, with his knife. The close ups of the bear are magnificent, showing her feel out Glass’ body, smelling him, and fogging up the lens at one point which is really nice touch. All in all, you are forced to live through every second of the attack, and you come away incredibly satisfied when he miraculously survives.

He is later found by the surviving members of the expedition and nursed back to some semblance of health, although the remaining 10 of the original 45-50 man party must carry Glass through the wintery forest and mountains on their journey back to safety. Captain Andrew Henry (Gleeson) suggests putting Glass out his misery, but instead entices an offer for those willing to stay with Glass until his final moments. Hawk, Jim Bridger (Poulter), and fellow trapper John Fitzgerald (Hardy) all agree to stay. Fitzgerald, who up to that point in the film has a hostile, negative, and somewhat jealous relationship with Glass decides to kill Hawk, and leave Glass buried alive, taking Bridger with him.

The bulk of the film shows Glass a shattered man, broken by nature, broken by the death of his son as he struggles to survive, dragging himself across mile after mile after mile of frozen tundra, trying to stave off the roaming Ree, freezing temperatures, deadly hunger, and his own festering infections. All to take revenge on the man who killed his son. Many directors would jump from point A to E to H, etc., offering the illusion of fluidity, but Iñárritu deliberately slows down the pace of the film, and takes the audience from A to B to C. It’s incredibly satisfying.

The plot of the film is simple in nature, but it is masterfully executed in the hands of Iñárritu. Some would argue against that, but the film has so much value laying under the surface of what appears to be a by the books revenge tale. Fitzgerald is a man that is not interested in saving his life, but more of living his life and pulling himself up by the bootstraps, by any means necessary. The character of Bridger is interesting as he acts as a counterweight to Fitzgerald cynical, negative nature. He represents the weight of sin on a man and his conscious. There is more to say, but I don’t want to spoil the film.

The acting on the whole of his film is absolutely astounding. DiCaprio delivers easily one his best performances, ever. Some would argue that his character doesn’t have any depth due to the lack of dialogue or a clear character arc in the later part of the film, since his character grunts and groans, barely speaks, but his demeanor makes the film’s portrayal of survival much more immediate and real. I would’ve hated if he had monologues scattered about for the sake of appeasing audiences in “character development”. Tom Hardy as John Fitzgerald is absolutely fucking brilliant. He surprised me with the depths of which he went to in order to play this largely sociopathic character. Fitzgerald looks out for #1, himself, and that’s where that ends. He’s humorous, deadly, and conniving all at once. You wouldn’t want to travel with this guy. I haven’t been this satisfied by a villanious role in years, Hardy delivered an A+ performance. Will Poulter convincingly holds the consciousness of the film together with his portrayal of Jim Bridger. Dohmnall Gleeson as Captain Andrew Henry supplies clear eyed decency to the film overall, and Forrest Goodluck as Hawk comes strong as a young man trying to make his father proud, living invisibly amidst white men, and delivering an emotional connection with Glass that is felt by the audience.

I was elated to see authentic Native American portrayals at every point in his film, from the matching warpaint and hair on the warriors and their horses, to Glass and Hawk speaking the Arikara language to each other, to a war chief’s dismissal of the white man’s intrusion on Native American soil/life, to Native American healing techniques and remedies. It was satisfying to see a film which does not stoop low and present indigenous people as savages.

The cinematography in the film is absolutely beautiful. It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen such a gorgeous movie. It was filmed all in sequence with natural lighting, and honestly, I want more directors to go this route, if possible/plausible. The colors were spectacular, the dawns and dusks in particular. The embers of a nights fire roaring through the cold, cold night. The constant transformation of nature in the film was incredible to watch. I could go on and on, but I’ll stop it there.

Please, watch this film. It is a force that will shake you to your core. THE REVENANT is a feat of strength.


Comic Review — X’ED issue #1 (2015)

by Christopher M. Novas

X'ed Issue #1

Written by — Tony Patrick
Illustrated by — Ayhan Hayrula
Colors by — Doug Garbark
Lettered by — Jim Campbell
Cover by — Chris Visions
Published by — Black Mask Studios, December 2015

Plenty of mystery and intrigue is presented in X’ED first issue. It mainly follows the story of Colin McClure, ex-military sharpshooter who has somehow lost one of his legs in an unmentioned war. He is the most recent recruit in the experimental and often deadly occupation of subliminal hitman working for the Mezign Corporation, a company dedicated to fringes of science, specifically dealing with the mind. What is a subliminal hitman, you ask? They closely follow similar character models presented in Christopher Nolan’s film, INCEPTION, but these individuals are much deadlier as they assassinate rather than implant or retrieve memories, trauma, etc. They are soldiers in the battlefield of the mind.

Other notable characters include the scientists helping Colin in his emergence into the mind of Mezign Corporation’s newest client, Evelyn.  They are the outlets in which the science is revealed, although Patrick also gives them depth and humor fleshing them out as real characters. But perhaps the biggest character hinging on Colin McClure’s character arc in future issues is revealed to us in the opening page, his comatose daughter.

The strange premise is handled expertly by writer Tony Patrick, revealing just the right amount of information as to not bog down the narrative. The dialogue is sharp and rich with story, every sentence revealing some new information of character or plot, thus making for a nice flow for reading. One of my favorite moments in the issue is the characters talking about the literal inner workings of their clients mind, focusing on her fears, anxiety, death, the literal chasms between dream and reality, among other things.

The artwork by Hayrula is just great, as every panel drips with questions on the very frame of reality. My favorite panels were when McClure enters Evelyn’s mind as it reminded me a lot of Dali, but in a restrained manner. Garbark’s coloring highlight the scientific, trippy, psychedelic, and hypnotic atmosphere of the book. With the primary subject matter being the inner workings of the mind, I was worried that the art may veer into a forced weirdness for the sake of being weird, but this was pulled off with aplomb. The action is great, it was really fun to see McClure traverse through this very strange world filled with schoolgirl bullies with rocket launchers, a sea for a sky, and Mindfugks (gonna have to read to find that out, kids).

Issue #1 ended with a fuck of a cliffhanger, and all said, I’m eagerly awaiting issue #2. Black Mask Studios hits another home run with this new series.

You can buy issue #1 direct from Black Mask HERE, or buy from your local comic book shop.

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Song of the Day — Jan. 13, 2016

by Christopher M. Novas

Last year, Earl Sweatshirt dropped his wildly popular followup to “Doris“,  “I don’t like shit, I don’t go outside“, a very grim, dark introspective album. It was easily one of the albums of the year. Late last night, someone leaked an unreleased track that was supposed to go in IDLS, IDGO, but was cut last minute as the sample wasn’t cleared in time.

Earl had this to say on the track (pulled from an interview with Pitchfork in April of last year):

What’s fucked, though, is that the tracklist got fucked up. There was a song that’s so crucial for the balance of the album called “Mirror” that was supposed to come right after “Faucet”; as far as the mom dynamic thing goes, the juxtaposition of “Mirror” against “Faucet” was so crucial, but the fucking sample didn’t get cleared. I’m gonna put it out, though.

Suffice to say, Earl fucking snaps on this, as he rides the distorted, lo-fi beat produced by Samiyam. Enjoy!

You can buy Earl’s latest album “I don’t like shit, I don’t go outside” HERE
Follow Earl on Twitter, he’s really entertaining

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Song of the Day — Jan 13, 2016

by Milton De Aza

You guys are going to fall in love with this one, just like I did. This song was created by producer Alan Wilkis, who goes by the moniker of Big Data. You might know him from his 2014 hit song “Dangerous“, featuring Joywave. Alan Wilkis does not work alone on this song; he has the beautiful voice of Jenn Wasner accompanying him, boosting this song to a whole new level of harmonic awesomeness. If you don’t know who Big Data is, you’re in for a treat. His latest album “2.0” came out last year and it’s full of wonders like “Automatic” and stacked with absolutely top notch production, synths, and vocals. Here is “Automatic“, the perfect song for those of you who have a loved one in mind or in the sack. Enjoy!

If you liked this, you can buy Big Data’s latest album 2.0 HERE

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Program Review – KeePass Password Manager

by Milton De Aza

I am going to share my dirty little secret with you all! So, there’s this little program for Windows called KeePass. I know it’s a horrible name, but please bear with it because you’re going to love what this little program does. This is a password manager and they say it best on their website —  “KeePass is a free open source password manager, which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way. You can put all your passwords in one database, which is locked with one master key or a key file. So, you only have to remember one single master password or select the key file to unlock the whole database. The databases are encrypted using the best and most secure encryption algorithms currently known (AES and Twofish)”.

It is open source, meaning that it is completely free so you can just download it and try it out at any time. I’m lazy so it saves me a lot of time, and a lot of brain power. All it takes is setting up your passwords in KeePass and you have them safely saved in an encrypted file on your computer (which you can make backups from!). KeePass can even create passwords for you with its integrated password generator which will make the passwords as simple, or complicated as you want them to be. Check it out folks, you won’t regret it!


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Song of the Day — Jan. 11, 2016

by Milton De Aza

Today’s Song of the Day will be a double feature in honor the legendary David Bowie. The first song will be my favorite David Bowie song from his 5th album called “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars“. The album is full of wonders, but I am a guitar lover and the song “Ziggy Stardust” blew my mind the first time I heard it.

The next song is by Tame Impala and probably my favorite song from 2015 due to its progressive instruments and upbeat sound. The reason I am showing you this song now is not necessarily because of the song itself, but because of the official music video. My hope is that it reminds everyone that life is short and to enjoy it while it lasts. David Bowie certainly left his mark on the world, as the outpour of love and admiration has been absolutely universal from everyone on social media.


Rest In Peace, David Bowie.

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Song of the Day pt. duex — Jan. 6th, 2015

by Christopher M. Novas

World’s Fair & A$AP Mob are two crews that keep New York on their back all day. It’s not surprising that two of their most promising rappers, Remy Banks & A$AP Twelvy, come together to create a bumping, slick track towards the end of last year. Backed by a soulful, chill, lo-fi instrumental by fellow A$AP Mob member P on the Boards, both rappers cement their time to shine in this city and way beyond it’s borders. Enjoy, “q44”.

For more Remy Banks, check out his latest release “higher.” here
For more A$AP Twelvy, check out his newest track “L.Y.B.B (Resolution)” here

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Song of the Day — Jan. 6, 2016

by Milton De Aza

Today’s song is by a great band called Yeasayer and the name of the song is “Don’t Come Close”. You might’ve heard it from the ending credits of Grand Theft Auto 5. It has a very “Depeche Mode” feel to it and lyrics that most people can relate to, especially when you’re having a bad day and you just want to be left alone. Here is today’s song of the day, enjoy!

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Song of the Day Debut!

by Milton De Aza

Welcome to our debut Song of the Day (SOTD) series. We’ll be doing this sporadically as we find music we like, and want to share with you. Gonna be honest — I have no idea how to proceed, but I’ll try my best to share my musical knowledge with you, but enough of that! For now enjoy today’s song! I feel that this is a song that will get people moving thanks to its VERY catchy chorus.

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