Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Fatty's Vault of Shame, Pt. 1

(For the most part, my taste in music and movies kinda runs in the "kiss my ass if you don't like it" range.  But there are a few purchases I've made over the years that I'm legitimately ashamed of making.  So join me as I open up... FATTY'S VAULT OF SHAME!!!)

The late 1990s were not a good time for me and my metal fandom.  Grunge had come and, for the most part, gone.  There was little good metal this side of the Atlantic, and I had yet to get turned onto the Scandinavian metal scene.  For heavy, guitar-based music, it looked like I was stuck with what MTV was telling me was good, and at that point, what was good was nu metal.

Now, nu metal isn't really metal.  Slipknot was kinda metal, and they got to be much more metal as time went on.  But Korn?  Staind? They were loud.  They were heavy.  But they weren't metal.  Not according to my understanding of metal, anyway.  But that's what was there for me, so I tried to get into it the best that I could.

One of those late 90s nu metal bands that got FRAKKING HUGE was Limp Bizkit.  They strayed closer to rap than metal, but they still had big riffs and sounded pissed.  I decided to pick up their record Significant Other, and for a while, it was good.

Unfortunately, it didn't take a terribly long time to figure out the truth about Limp Bizkit.  And that truth was this: they were a pretty good band fronted by a no-talent, loud-mouthed crybaby who thought he could rap. Seriously, listen to the tracks backing up Fred Durst.  Guitarist Wes Borland riffed hard, creating some memorable and catchy shards of guitar work.  Bassist Sam Rivers crafted some pretty fine bass lines, with his highlight being the fluttery gem that serves as the foundation for the song "Rearranged".  Drummer John Otto could bash the hell outta the kit or lay down more subtle rhythms.  All in all, Limp Bizkit had a nice, loud, clean, and hard-hitting sound.

The problem was Durst.  The dude was nothing more than your average angry former frat boy with a chip on his shoulder.  He brags about how awesome he is.  He extols his homies to "GET THE F*CK UP".  He whines about the chick that cheated on him then announces that he was just with her for sex.  He bitches about everybody borrowing money from him.  This dude has more problems than a college algebra text book.

What this means is that the best songs on Significant Other of the quieter numbers, like the previously mentioned "Rearranged".  It bobs along on Rivers' awesome bassline and atop a bouncy drumbeat courtesy of Otto.  Borland supplies texture with his clean guitar lines.  But best of all, Durst is neither whining about people or swaggering around like God's Gift to Humanity.  He can't sing for shit, but at least you don't to wrap a fireplace poker over his head.

"No Sex" is even more surprising, especially considering how much boasting Durst has spent the record doing about his ability to get laid.  On "No Sex", he actually regrets sleeping with a woman.  Or maybe he just regrets how easy it was.  Whatever his reasoning, it's a little refreshing to hear a rock vocalist lamenting giving into his libido.  Although his slut-shaming is a little off-putting.

Those two highlights aside, Significant Other is pretty damn dismal.  But dismal isn't shameful, so why did I throw it into the Vault of Shame?  Because I'm embarrassed that I spent any time thinking this CD was a substitute for real metal.  It's embarrassing to get that far off course.  When I first heard bands like In Flames, At the Gates, and Amon Amarth, I was immediately booted back to reality.  These bands played REAL METAL, not hip-hop polluted crap that really only served as a vehicle for one spoiled little bitch to vent about how horrible his life is.  But I did like Limp Bizkit for a while, and for that, I am completely ashamed.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Gandalf Goes Grey-er

If you wanna see Sherlock Holmes, you have a number of recent option.  You can choose Johnny Lee Miller and his show, Elementary.  You can wait around for the BBC to put out new episodes of Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock.  Or you can check out RDJ playing Holmes as an action hero in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes movies.

I haven't seen Elementary, in spite of the fact that it stars Lucy Liu, and I love me some Lucy Liu.  I like Sherlock and understand that it's accurate to the source material,  but I have a hard time with it cuz Mr, Cumberbatch looks too much like a camel.  I love watching RDJ and Jude Law work off one another as Holmes and Watson, but their movies aren't all that thoughtful or deep.

None of these options completely work for me, but I finally found a Sherlock Holmes I can totally get behind.  It's Holmes as he's presented in the new film, Mr. Holmes.  Played perfectly by the great Ian McKellen, this Holmes is way past his peak.  His memory is slipping so badly he has to resort to weird plant remedies to combat it.  He's arrogant and irascible, yet he's also unable to live on his own and completely dependent on his housekeeper, Mrs. Munro (Laura Linney) and her son Roger (Milo Parker).

Holmes has left his profession after a case he worked went wrong.  He can't remember why or how the case went wrong.  At the same time, he replays an episode when he visited Japan in his mind.  As he wrestles with these issues in his mind, he and Roger bond over bees.  And on top of all of that, he's battles to finish writing a story that would be truer to real life than the character the public know him as from his books.

I loved this movie.  It's such a contrast to the usual blockbuster fare we get this time of year.  It's a small movie filled with delicate, emotional performances, led be McKellen.  Simply put, the dude's brilliant and his performance makes this movie worth seeing all on its own.  Throw in Linney, who is terrific as a woman who wants out of her currant situation and fears the growing bond between the old man and her son.  The movie is, for the most part, three people trying to find a way to live together.  It doesn't sound like much of a story, but the acting makes it hard to take your eyes off the screen.

Director Bill Condon uses a fairly light touch, letting the actors bring life to the frame.  The writing gives the actors multi-dimensional characters and plays up the importance of finding someone to share your loneliness.  I think that's the important takeaway here: nobody, no matter how unpleasant or hard to live with, should have to spend their whole lives alone.  It's a subject that resonates really strongly with me right now.

Mr. Holmes is not awesome.  There are no kick-ass fight scenes, no bitchin' explosions, and no heroic daring do.  But what is there is much more poignant and affecting than all the chaos and noise the summer tent pole flicks throw at us.  If you're looking for the antidote to Summer Blockbuster poisoning, check Mr. Holmes out.