Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Article first published as Movie Review: I Like You on Blogcritics.

Buried in the depths of the Hulu movie section, amongst the strange foreign films, straight to DVD selections and a few older movies, lies a film that at first glance seems to be just another indie project that never got a decent distribution deal. The film is I Like You (2010) as it shyly introduces itself in demure white print atop a grey ocean with a young couple clasped in embrace. The picture, though inducing some skepticism on my part, (I was by no means in a mood for some raunchy movie and Hulu seems to like to throw those at you every now and again) captivated me with a type of honesty - a "click me; here I am open-armed waiting for you to experience me" vibe. An hour and sixteen minutes later, I had discovered one of my favorite movies.

The debut Indie film from Jamie Heinrich and produced by 9000 Wolves, tells the story of a pair of teenagers (Avery and Parker) in Reno, Nevada falling in love. The girl is the beauty, who is well-off with a popular boyfriend and the boy is the beast, who has an eccentric taste in music and plays in a band. Obviously, the story has been told before. But never in such a unique and current way (even though the film is two years old).

The strengths of the film are the uncomfortably realistic characters (Mike Benna who plays Avery is fantastic), sprawling scenes, and a mesmerizing soundtrack done immaculately by Sounder and Epick. Don't expect a plot, but do expect to be grabbed unexpectedly just when the movie begins to slow down. The film is pure art, aesthetically pleasing in every way and succeeds in capturing the beautiful interactions of everyday life that often go unnoticed or ignored.

This love story is not absent a few sickeningly cute moments; you can be sure to find your fair share of scenes that make you go "awww" (two lovers frolicking on the railroad tracks as a "Stand By Me" cover plays in the background? Yes please!) However, more common are the off kilter moments: Avery exposing Uncle Terry and his friends to the alternative music that he has discovered that they end up actually enjoying or a scene where Avery nonchalantly takes a cigarette break with the employees of a company of which he has recently been hired. They are interactions that serve no purpose in the grand scheme of things, but are a part of life and are finally getting the credit of being acknowledged.

The film will resonate most with those with an adventurous side or those that wished they had one and those who stop to smell the roses on a daily basis. And though you may not always know where the characters are in space or time, you always know what they are feeling.

I Like You is a refreshing change of pace from a world of instant and loud and showy. Everyone who needs a break from the mainstream should take the opportunity to have one with this film.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The only two people in The Chocolate Room more excited for their chocolate cake than me <3

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Getting ScHooled

Many know ScHoolboy Q by association. He's known as the featured artist on the A$AP Rocky track "Brand New Guy" or as that guy who has something to do with Kendrick Lamar and Top Dawg Entertainment. After his first album Setbacks, his sophomore album Habits & Contradictions went from a free download to an iTunes purchase within a few days. With such a quick mark of accomplishment, ScHoolboy Q deserves to be known because he has a presence all his own.

With its trance-like "I'm so high even though I haven't smoked at all" style, head nodding is the most common effect on the listener throughout all tracks. And when one finds themselves nodding in agreement listening is soon to follow, which is what this album begs for - this is his coming out.

Thanks to more conscious tracks such as "Sacrilegious" and "Blessed," a song that encourages things to be put into perspective "really think about it could be worse my nigga," (is that a jab to Nicki's flow in the first few bars) you quickly realize not to write this album off as just any other "hip thug kid" album about money, drugs and hoes. The album's best asset is its utilization of the element of surprise. Each track has it's own unique sound embodying the story of each song. "Nightmare on Figg St." induces a fear not only with the hip-hop-ized horror movie theme and heady bass but also with lyrics such as "won't stop shootin' til you all red."

In stark contrast, "My Homie" in a type of musical pouring a forty out for a dead homie vibes along to cool tones and seductive beats. But to scare and to preach is by no means the intention of this album. Equally as successful (and earned) are the cocky, "suck dick, but she don't gimme no lip" hype tracks such as "Druggy Wit Hoes" and "Sexting," in which the "you only live once" mentality is glorified to the fullest extent.

The title says it all. Habits and Contradictions plays with the internal. It's a brief look into the life of a thug on his grind and while there are times that you may have heard this story before, the balance with which ScHoolboy Q tells his story helps you appreciate the unpredictable journey.