Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Best trilogy? This one is easy

The Dark Knight Rises is officially bad ass.

Every now and then we get weird topics on the show that take off with a life of their own. On Monday, in an attempt to avoid endlessly talking Penn State, the topic of The Dark Knight Rises came up. It evolved into a discussion on the best trilogies in movie history. 

If you haven't seen the Dark Knight and are a fan of the first two movies, Rises is a must. It's a shame that the movie will be forever linked to the sick, pathetic lunatic in Colorado.

That aside, the movie itself is fantastic. Critics who ripped it simply don't like or get the genre. The movie is 2:45 minutes long, and felt half that. It also was a perfect end to the Dark Knight series.

So the conversation moved to best trilogies. There can be only three movies in the series, not more. Some were intended to be trilogies; others simply evolved that way.

Here are my favorites. Feel free to disagree and share your own:

1) The Dark Knight trilogy. Simply put, the best three comic book movies ever made. Each stands on its own and features terrific acting, great story lines and a perfect three-part series. (Not to mention, Anne Hathaway in leather). Christopher Nolan built a three-part masterpiece that will be tough to outdo. The best part is the protaganist and antagonists are all believable; there is no magic here, only characters who are tortured psychologically. Political undertones run underneath all three but never hit you over the head. Simply brilliant.

2) The Lord of the Rings trilogy. This was a clear No. 1 before Rises was released. All three movies are terrific, but it lacks the stand-alone performances of the Dark Knight, and as good as the acting is, there is no performance like Liam Neeson in Batman Begins and certainly not Heath Ledger in Dark Knight. Very strong and a clear No. 2, but Batman knocks it off the top of the list.

3) The Mad Max trilogy. This is old school, but the post-apocalyptic world of Mad Max was subtle in its brilliance. Even with a young Mel Gibson being dubbed, the movies are fast paced, unique and wrap up the story. While Road Warrior is by far the best, the other two hold up well. Like Batman, all three stories stand alone. The good news is they are planning on remaking all three. With today's advances in technology, this ought to be interesting.

4) Star Wars, the original series. Some may dispute this because of the prequel trilogy, but the three Star Wars original movies were never supposed to be extended. I think the prequel should be treated as a different trilogy. If you disagree, toss this one out. It would rank higher if not for the silliness of the Ewoks in the final installment.

5) The Blade series. This was a tough one, but I do think the Blade series redefined vampire movies and made everything that happened since a hollow copy. (Yes, I am talking to you, Edward Cullen). Wesley Snipes was a complete badass, and Ryan Reynolds stole the show in the final installment.

If you don't accept Star Wars as a trilogy, then we would put The Godfather series in at No. 5. It should be higher, because 1 and 2 were two of the best movies ever made. But Godfather 3 is so awful it brings down the whole group. Sophia Coppola's awful performance and the emasculation of one of the great American characters in Michael Corleone, you could argue that 3 is one of the worst movies ever made.

And for the record, the Canadian votes for the Evil Dead trilogy.

What are some of your favorites?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Let's have a jam session

                                 Then and now....

Yeah, I know, I lied. I said I would post more. I've been dealing with writer's block and other projects for so long that I haven't written anything for this. I have also tried to become more of a twitter person (@fredfaour) and a lot of the things I would have posted here are going there. But I am over the block, writing like a fiend again and this blog is officially back, for good this time.

I got inspired to write this from a very cool conversation I had on twitter yesterday with some knowledgeable people. (They are all good twitter follows, by the way -- https://twitter.com/sportsmediaLMhttps://twitter.com/Rottweiller2000https://twitter.com/atxhobogrl#)

It started with a simple questions: Would the musicians of the 60s, 70s and 80s be better with today's technology? My honest response is no.

This is going to sound like the old man saying "everything was better in my day." I'm usually not like that. I think athletes are better now, TV shows are better now (Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, Justified, Sons of Anarchy, you get the idea). Technology is clearly better. But music is one place where I believe technology has stunted true musicianship.

Most of you know I am an old school 80s rock and roll fan, but I do like a lot of contemporary bands. So here is a simple question: How many great rock bands have emerged in the last 20 years, since technology developed to where we can punch a button and have a flawless drum beat. I think bands like Shinedown and Slipknot have potential, but are the truly great? Foo Fighters, perhaps? But even Dave Grohl now dates back more than 20 years. How many truly great musicians are out there that emerged after 1992?

There are a lot of lists out there. Let's start with Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time. (I completely disagree, by the way) but the top 10 all date back as many as 50 years.

Avrev.com has a list of the top 100 bands of all time. The most recent member of the top 20 is Stone Temple Pilots at No. 13 -- and they were born over 20 years ago.

That's longer that a lot of you have been alive.

The greatest drummer? Neil Peart of Rush. He dates to the 70s. Greatest bassist? Geddy Lee? Flea? Bootsy Collins? All decades old. Robert Trujillo is terrific, but again he doesn't break the 20-year barrier.

Certainly music is subjective, but as a former musician, I have to say bands were better -- especially guitarists -- during my heyday growing up in the late 70s and 80s.

Really, since the grunge movement -- another that started over 20 years ago -- no truly great bands have yet emerged. Part of that I believe is because technology does not force people to become skilled musicians. Shortcuts are taken. My favorite guitarists -- Randy Rhodes, Eddie Van Halen, Eric Johnson, George Lynch, Yngvie Malmsteen, Slash -- are all from that era. But even guys like Vito Bratta (White Lion) who wouldn't make many top 10 lists is light years more talented than any guitarist that has emerged since the late 1980s.

The grunge movement eliminated lead guitar, which explains some of it. But I think technology is to blame. The same technology that made Rebecca Black a YouTube star.

Maybe I am just the venting old man who thinks everything was better in his day. It sucks getting old.