Gone Baby Gone

I really enjoy movies like Ocean’s Eleven. You know, the kind that set up a whole bunch of facts and intriguing plot lines, then throw it all out the door risking insulting the viewer’s intelligence. The fine line that divides viewer awe and utter rejection is one that many movies flirt with, and few are able to stay on the awe side; Gone Baby Gone does so much more than flirt with this line, and its ability to be intriguing and emotionally powerful throughout make it one of my favorite movies of all time.

I apologize if you now think that I spoiled the movie, but rest assured that I haven’t. The great thing about Gone Baby Gone is that, while the plot is incredibly grabbing and outlandish, the movie has so much more depth than just the plot-line.

The characters in Gone Baby Gone achieve some level of relate-ability (unlike everyone in Juno…) that allows for an even greater level of like-ability or hate-ability (are those words?). Regardless, by the end, you are attached to everyone. Because of the characters personalities, what they fight for, and the situations they are placed in, the idea of Good vs. Evil isn’t applicable here. The choices that must be made aren’t black and white. These choices make the movie an extremely personal experience for each viewer, and what you think is right and wrong will probably be questioned by the end.

The impressive cast that includes Casey Affleck, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, and Michelle Monaghan delivers one hundred percent. As I said, if you speak to someone who has seen this about which characters were right and which were wrong, there is a good chance that you will wind up arguing because of the discrepancies in your opinions. I’m not sure that any view is better than the next; it’s all relative to who you are and what roles you play in life.

If you have the chance, please see this incredible film. In my opinion, it was definitely overshadowed by some other great movies that came out in last-2007 (ie. There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men). While those other movies were great, Gone Baby Gone is much better.

Coachella 2008: MGMT

mgmt_thumb.jpgThe best way that I can describe the music that MGMT makes is “nostalgic.” For a broad audience, this probably isn’t the best adjective to use, but it was the first word that came to mind when I was going through their debut album “Oracular Spectacular.” Now that they’ve gotten relatively big for a brand new indie band (they’ve done Letterman, SXSW, and have two music videos), I’m pretty sure that they are my favorite recently discovered band that I will see at Coachella this year.

MGMT falls into the category of new hipster bands making music that combines punk, electro, and pop. There’s nothing wrong with this, Klaxons won a Mercury Prize for doing the same, but at a certain point, it’s hard to differentiate between the many bands taking up this formula. MGMT has been able to differentiate itself not by progressively pushing the genre’s boundaries, but by perfecting the art of making an old-sounding new style with keyboards, guitars, and drums.

I’m sure that what you just read is probably a cliche description of many bands now-a-days, but it’s the best I could come up with. Essentially, MGMT is a duo with playful sound that captures what the indie-electro-punk-retro style is all about. Their sound might be psychedelic pop, but not so much as Of Montreal. I think just really good music.

This year they will be playing at both Coachella and Bonnaroo, and it’s probably safe to say many other festivals as more and more dates and lineups are announced daily. As for the Coachella lineup, they are part of what make the midline bands amazing this year. If you miss them this year, don’t come crying to me next year when you’re kicking yourself in the butt.

MGMT Videos



After having visited the various museums around LA (the Getty, Norton Simon, Huntington, and the various museums here at Exposition) over the past couple years, I finally made it to LACMA. Visiting museums presents a mild catch-22 for me: I don’t like going without a group of other people, but I don’t like to walk around with that group. I’d much prefer to go on my own and sit in one spot for a half hour if I want to without worrying about if the rest of the group is getting annoyed. Luckily, I’ve found that plenty of people feel the same way and don’t really care if we stick together as a group or not.

On another “freshman outing” coordinated by the grad Radomir, about 10 of us headed down to check out the latest addition to LACMA: the BCAM (Broad Contemporary Art Museum). We started off the night at Souplantation, which turned out to essentially be a step up from college cafeteria-style dining. After wondering why a Frank Lloyd Wright quotation was on the wall and having our fill of soup, salad, bread, and desserts we embarked on the traffic-packed journey that was 3rd/Fairfax/Wilshire to LACMA.After 5pm, everyone gets in free, so being the cheep college students we are, that’s exactly what we went for.

Starting off, the BACM goes top down (kinda like the Guggenheim I guess) and each of the three floors is massive. The first floor (which is actually the third) opens up to the exhibition that all the press in focusing on. The pieces are very large, metallic, incredibly shiny, balloon-shaped objects by Jeff Koons. These include dogs, an egg, and other things that are just big and colorful and reflective. Also in this exhibition are a few pieces by Andy Warhol. After spending a good part of a month focusing on Pop Art last semester, I’ve done a bit of reading on him and was very surprised to see his Elvis at LACMA. While only one copy was on display, it reminded me of the fact that they used to be displayed repeatedly overlapping across an entire wall. Very Pop and very gay, as was Warhol.

Of the three floors, the first had the largest pieces, the second had the most pantings/photography, and the third was all (I think) Richard Serra pieces. Again, last semester we spend quite a bit of time on installations and public art. Serra’s Tilted Arc was the focus of our discussions, but his two pieces at LACMA are far more interesting in my opinions. While Tilted Arc is clearly a prime example of how public art can be received by its audience (and I agree that it was very intrusive), these two were not out in public, and I think that their place in a large hall is perfect.  Both pieces rise up about 10-15 feet and are made of rusted steel. One piece is a massive figure eight and the other (which we didn’t spend much time at) was similarly contoured, but I’m not sure what its shape is.

After we left the BACM, we headed over the main part of LACMA, but our time was limited. In about an hour and a half, I saw some great Southern Californian pieces, a Rothko, two Pollocks, some Picassos, a Braque, and countless others. At 9, we were kicked out and LACMA closed. Naturally, we spend another hour driving aimlessly around LA and eventually wound up back on campus. It was a good night.

MSTRKRFT at the El Rey


This post is a celebration of electronic music and the city of Los Angeles, or maybe just of music in general. Regardless, MSTRKRFT’s show last night at the El Rey Theatre was insane. Being the second sold-out show of MSTRKRFT’s two night stand in LA, it was obvious that the packed (and tiny) venue was full of people who share a love of hard-hitting electronic music.

Speaking quickly on the El Rey, this was my first time see a show there. I was supposed to see Hot Chip there about three weeks ago, but a sick band member postponed the show until April 28th (the day after Coachella). After looking at pictures online, it was obvious that the El Rey was pretty small, but catered perfectly to the pit people as well as the I-wanna-sit-down-and-just-listen people. Comparing, I’d say it’s a bit more than half of the size of SOMA in San Diego. So there’s my bit about the El Rey, and I will definitely be back soon.

So after my most sketch bus ride yet and arriving a half an hour before door time, we were finally let into the venue with LA Riots already spinning. I find it pretty interesting how venues ramp up the volume as the night goes on. Is it for the benefit of our ears, or because they want the headliners to hit that much harder? Anyways, I didn’t really dig LA Riots’ set. I love their online mixtapes, but this set wasn’t anything like that. I consisted of a lot of tech-house, and only in the last 10-15 minutes did they throw in one or two of their original remixes or any contemporary stuff. Also, why did only one half of the duo do any spinning? Eh.

After LA Riots was finished (around 9), Z-Trip immediately stepped up to the tables on the opposite side of the stage (a definite perk of electronic music is the lack of downtime). Opening with Justice’s Genesis probably isn’t the best way for a hip-hop DJ to introduce himself to house crowd, but it at least got us excited. Unfortunately, his set didn’t continue is that direction. Z-Trip is known as a pioneer of mashups, and it showed. He is a talented DJ/turntablist, and does far more than mix individual tracks together. While I wasn’t completely into his entire set, credit must be given for his deft ability to blend Johnny Cash, Guns ‘n Roses, Rage Against the Machine, Justice, the Beastie Boys, and Pink Floyd into one set.

So about half way through is 90 minute set, Z-Trip told us that he was trying out some stuff with drums included in the show, and a drummer came out and began to play along with Z-Trip spinning on the decks. It took a bit of getting in to, but eventually the mix got into the crowd. The sound of live drums layered against a DJ’s scratching was fairly inventive, but it got really interesting when Z-Trip stepped away from the deck to play along with the drummer. It was just a crazy show of two guys banging on a single drum set and simultaneously switching positions (standing/sitting) while playing nonstop. After this, Z-Trip stepped back up and spun for about 15 more minutes before putting together a nice short speech about how hip-hop DJs and electro/house DJs touring together is a good thing for music. It was more a little announcement about appreciation of music in all of its forms. Thumbs up.

Onto the show we were all waiting for: MSTRKRFT. If you look down to the bottom of this post, you will see a few images, check out the one of the crowd. That’s the Coachella 2007 crowd for MSTRKRFT’s set, and I was in that crowd for about 10 minutes until I (foolishly) got bored of the end of DJ Heather’s set mistaking it for MSTRKRFT. While I was walking away, Easy Love started, and I felt my stomach drop. I was already a ways away, so I kept walking. I vowed not to make that mistake again.

After the massive hockey mask was unveiled against the back wall, the music started. The great “thump” that MSTRKRFT is known for played throughout the entire set, save for the buildups and breakdowns of course. Getting off to a solid start, they threw in VUVUVU right off the bat, and while the song kills, I don’t get why it would be a huge MIDI problem (as AL-P has said), unless the tempo was difficult to keep steady. Continuing on, the set was solid, and it was apparent that they can control a crowd almost as well as Daft Punk can; mixing the big hits with some newer (read: nonpopular) material is something they do well.

After throwing down a great set consisting of the Bloody Beatroots, Daft Punk, the Chemical Brothers, Stardust, and some original material,  the part of the show that I had been praying for finally arrived. This section of the set consisted of D.A.N.C.E (MSTRKRFT Remix), Wow (MSTRKRFT Remix), and I believe that Paris was played here as well. Justice’s D.A.N.C.E. was 2007’s club hit that went mainstream, and MSTRKRFT’s remix of it is by far my favorite remix (out of the 27193 remixes that are floating around the blogs). So that knocked it out of the park. Then Wow was played, which is yet again, another MSTRKRFT remix fav. Kylie Minogue’s original song is alright, but I don’t think it’s anything special. This remix is a perfect example of what Kylie+MSTRKRFT equals. This part of the set is what put the show over the top for me.

After announceing that they would be heading over to LAX after the show because they were getting kicked out of the El Rey, they ended with Daft Punk’s One More Time as followed by Justice’s Phantom Pt. II (Soulwax Remix). It was a great finale, and I left satisfied. If you need an example of what this duo does to a crowd (and you haven’t followed my directions from above), click on the Coachella 2007 crowd, it’s one of my favorite Coachella pictures.