Tag Archives: California

Review: Jobs

via Moviefone News
via Moviefone News

Jobs (2013)

PG-13 / 128 mins

Biography / Drama

Starring: Ashton Kutcher, Dermot Mulroney, Josh Gad

Director: Joshua Michael Stern


Steve Jobs was not your average guy in the business sphere.  He was a smart and quirky young entrepreneur that had his own way of doing things.  This often attributed to his brash and narcissistic personality.  But, that’s just how he was.  He had a knack for design and detail and he always had a grand vision, one step ahead of everybody else.  This led to some of his successes, as well as some of his failures.  Jobs was a dynamic visionary in the tech world, and his legacy is enormous.  There has been extensive looks at his life, but 2013’s Jobs is a lackluster affair that fails to capture that legacy that Jobs left behind.

via Digital Trends
via Digital Trends

There is a lot to Steve Jobs and the movie’s star, Ashton Kutcher, does a pretty good job of bringing the Silicon Valley genius to life.  He put a lot into the role, mimicking everything down to his voice and the way he walked around.  It was a convincing performance that is leaps and bounds above any other actor in the movie.  Kutcher could have been the only actor in the movie and I would have been totally okay with that, although it wouldn’t really be a movie then, would it?  Unfortunately, Kutcher’s performance is just about the only good thing about Jobs.

The movie carries itself at a breakneck pace, going all the way back to Job’s days at Reed College.  We start to see the kind of person that he is and how he started to get involved in technology.  From there, we are introduced to his good friend Steve Wozniak (Josh Gad) who later goes on to helping Jobs with creating their first personal computer.  Jobs runs his little operation out of the comfort of his parent’s garage, until finally noticed by Mike Markkula (Dermot Mulroney), an entrepreneur and an investor that would provide the initial funding for Jobs’ Apple Computers.  The rest was history.

via apnatimepass.com
via apnatimepass.com

It was by this point that the movie was flying, right when it was in dire need of slowing down.  I soon started to realize that this movie wasn’t really about Steve Jobs and the person that he was, but instead, it was the history of Apple…but only at a surface level.  What about Jobs’ personal life?  What about his personality?  What caused him to be this way?  Why was his personal life so disjointed?  These were the kinds of questions that I was hoping the movie would cover in addition to his dealings in the corporate world.  I wanted to see who Jobs really was, but Jobs only swam as deep as the surface level, glorifying Apple’s successes and failures instead.

via apnatimepass.com
via apnatimepass.com

Perhaps the most glaring omission from the entire movie was the entrepreneur’s time with NeXT Computer.  After Jobs’ design philosophies didn’t bode well with Apple executives, he was turned away, forced to go out on his own.  During his brief stint away from Apple, he started NeXT Computer, a company that specialized in computers for the higher education and business class.  They were top notch computers that were in a market of their own.  What’s most important about this time however is the change in personality that Jobs went through.  He started to lose the narcissistic behavior and started to become a more influential leader.  What we don’t know is why this came to be.  What happened that caused him to be this way?  Was it his time he spent back with his family, fostering the relationships that he had with them?  Jobs almost completely glosses over this time in his life, giving his stint with NeXT Computer a measly minute…if that.  Instead, it raced right back to when Jobs came back to Apple.  This movie is all about Apple.  What about Steve Jobs?

I was left with a lot of answers by the time the movie’s credits rolled.  Perhaps I went in to the movie expecting the wrong thing.  I was looking for a mirror into the life of Jobs and why he was the way he was.  What was the motivation for the way he did things?  Instead, Jobs focuses on the history of Apple instead, which was the movie’s largest detriment.  There were some nice moments here and there, but the movie was largely uninventive and mundane.  Ashton Kutcher gave a wonderful performance as the unique and dynamic tech genius, but that was pretty much the movie’s only true glistening positive.  If you want a better story about the life of Steve Jobs, you might want to check out Walter Isaacson’s biography of the man or who knows, maybe 2015’s Steve Jobs will be a better representation of Jobs’ life, although it looks like a mess right now.

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Review: Summertime ’06

via missinfo.tv
via missinfo.tv

Summertime ’06 (2015)

Vince Staples

Rap / Hip-Hop

ARTium Recordings / Def Jam Recordings


Tough is a good word to describe the early life of West Coast rapper Vince Staples.  During his childhood, his father was constantly in and out of prison and his mother was working all the time.  Because of this, he spent a lot of time with his grandparents in Compton.  When Staples was twelve, his grandfather died and shortly after, his friend Jabari Benton was murdered.  It was this culmination of events that caused him to get involved in the gang activity that littered Long Beach at the time.  This is the fuel for the fire that Vince Staples brings on his debut album Summertime ’06.

Vince Staples is a name in hip-hop that should garner more attention.  Most of his younger years saw him participating in the gangbang culture of Long Beach.  He slowly got away from that life and turned to music to get himself off the streets.  Up to this point, he has only put out EP’s and mixtapes, including the likes of Hell Can Wait and the Shyne Coldchain mixtape series.  Summertime ’06 might just be the album to finally propel him into the mainstream world of hip hop.

via In Flex We Trust
via In Flex We Trust

As far as rap albums go, this is probably one of the rawest pieces of work I have listened to in a while.  Everything that Staples raps about is real and comes from something that affected him in his gang days, more specifically the summer of 2006.  Explaining the title of the album, Staples said, “Summer of 2006, the beginning of the end of everything I thought I knew. Youth was stolen from my city that summer, and I’m left alone to tell the story. This might not make sense, but that’s because none of it does, we’re stuck. Love tore us all apart.

We get some cold dark undertones right from the get-go with “Ramona Park Legend Pt. 1,” a chilling instrumental interlaced with contrasting sounds of summer and the beach.  The beat leads right into “Lift Me Up,” which almost serves as an intro into the early life of Vince Staples and the sort of stuff he had to deal with.  Next up on the track list is the Clams Casino produced “Norf Norf” which is a prideful boast about the North Side of Long Beach, California where Vince Staples grew up.

via Genius
via Genius

Later down the line Staples raps about the vices that consumed and controlled him during his gangbanging days like sex and selling drugs.  “Birds & Bees” is a mix up of the classic children’s phrase with a twist and “Loca” is a song about the women that drive him crazy.  “Lemme Know,” featuring the talented Jhene Aiko, is another great sounding song that acts as the follow up to “Loca.”  The album’s primary producer is hip-hop legend No I.D., and he provides a fantastic beat for “Dopeman,” a song about Staple’s other vice; drugs.

The album’s first disc (out of two) ends with “Summertime,” an extremely stripped down track with a ton of emotion.  Staples doesn’t hold anything back on this one and you can almost feel the pain in his voice.  On it, he questions whether or not his love will want to stay with him past the summer.  It was a glistening highlight on the album.

via Pretty Much Amazing
via Pretty Much Amazing

The second part of the album focuses on life after the Summer of 2006, with a bigger focus on the gang culture in Long Beach.  “Ramona Park Legend Pt. 2” features Earl Sweatshirt on an eeire sounding beat, while “Might Be Wrong,” featuring Haneef Talib, explores the topic of gang culture and the injustices that surround the events of today.  It’s a track that runs chills down your spine.

The third and second to last songs on the album, “C.N.B.” and “Like It Is,” feature the deep flow of Staples with some great verses that demonstrate the raw talent that the rapper has.  They also serve as the conclusion to the story of Vince Staples and his gangbanging childhood.  “’06” gives us a cliffhanger that looks into the future and what is to come from the rapper.

via Pretty Much Amazing
via Pretty Much Amazing

It’s hard to tell whether all the things that Vince Staples raps about is true, but given the amount of emotion that he puts into almost every single track, it’s hard to deny where he’s coming from.  Summertime ’06 is a fantastic album that gives us some of the realest material the year has seen.  It might get off to a slow start in the beginning, but I’m confident that it’s going to turn Vince Staples into a household name.  The album will also make a case for top album of the year.

summertime 06 score

Review: Dope

via Screen Slam
via Screen Slam

Dope (2015)

R / 103 min

Comedy / Drama

Starring: Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons

Director: Rick Famuyiwa


This summer seems to be looking good for hip-hop fans.  This weekend we were treated to Dope, with Fresh Dressed and Straight Outta Compton still to come.  It is hard to say what caused this recent spike, but it will definitely give us a nice breather from the usual cinema fanfare.  Let’s just face it, we do not have enough movies about hip-hop culture these days.  Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though.  Was Dope actually dope?  You bet it was.

Dope would be the fresh and fun lovechild if The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Superbad were to have a child.  The movie stars Shameik Moore in his breakthrough role as Malcolm, a solemn and honest geek living in a tough neighborhood in Inglewood, California.  His best buds, Jib and Diggy (Tony Revolori and Keirsey Clemons) are geeks as well.  The trio are stuck in nineties hip-hop culture, but like “white shit” like skateboarding, doing well in school, and…yes, Donald Glover.  As the movie points out, life is hard for a geek living in Inglewood, California.

via Vid Shaker
via Vid Shaker

The comedy starts fast and does not slowdown in its intensity.  Malcolm is a smart kid who is looking to get into Harvard.  He’s been working on the application and he already has an interview with a Harvard alumni.  It’s his senior year, and Malcolm and his friends want to have some fun.  Unfortunately for them, they get involved in the wrong type of fun.  On the way home from school, Malcolm gets caught up in the business of the slinging and dealing drug dealer named Dom, played surprisingly well by A$AP Rocky.  He invites the trio of misfits to his birthday bash, where things ultimately go bad, leaving Malcolm and his pals waist deep in a big drug caper.  They have some of the best dope around that they need to get rid of fast.

Things get more out of hand as more characters are introduced and plotlines start to intertwine with each other.  Things happen quickly and the trio are thrust into some pretty uncomfortable and often funny situations.  The movie provides a satisfying feeling when everything gets connected together.  Malcolm, Diggy, and Jib have a ton of smarts that surprisingly translates to some pretty credible street smarts.

via Music Times
via Music Times

Cultural callbacks to the nineties era of hip-hop are plentiful and numerous.  Everything from MTV to N.W.A. and even to Wack-a-Mole finds its place in Dope.  The fashion, the haircuts (let’s all take a moment to acknowledge that Malcolm has a top-notch haircut everybody), and the music make Rick Famuyiwa’s tribute to nineties culture feel real and complete.

The first two acts cruise right along, nailing all the right spots, but then the third act comes around.  Now, I might sound negative when I say that, but that is not the truth.  I heartily enjoyed the films right turn that it took towards the end.  It was completely unexpected, but demonstrated the depth and intelligence that Dope brings to the table, which is something I did not expect to say about the film.  Skip to the next paragraph if you have not already seen the movie, because I want to talk about it a little more.

via Infinite Leg Room
via Infinite Leg Room

Throughout the movie, we get the constant theme of realness and fakeness.  It’s a question that not only Malcolm has to think about, but the audience as well.  Is he like those other dudes in the hood, or is he real to himself?  The third act is the revelatory answer to the thoughtful question.  In the end, he is both.  He is the smart straight-A Harvard student, who happens to wheel and deal like the rest of them.  Malcolm breaks down the whole movie into a couple of minutes while he takes viewers on a journey to this conclusion.  It was really satisfying to see it all come together.  However, it’s the acts dark undertone that made it so unexpected.  Malcolm shaves his head and loses the nineties fashion.  He comes to grips with himself as becomes a truer version of his character.  This leads to one of the few gripes I have with the film.  I would have almost liked the movie better if Malcolm took a deep dive into the drug dealing trade.  What if he lost the will to go to college?  What if he decided to pursue the life of a drug-dealing kingpin?  His intelligence and his street smarts that he acquires as the movie progresses would have made him one fine dope dealer. This is the direction I would have wanted the film to go.  Yes, it might not have been the nice happy ending that most would have wanted from a film like this, but it would have had a more profound effect on viewers.  It would have left me with a stronger aftertaste.

dope 5

Like I said before, I still enjoyed the direction that the movie took.  I knew going into Dope that I was probably going to enjoy what it had to offer.  As a fan of hip-hop, this movie was made for my kind of interests.  However, it took me on a ride that I was not expecting at all.  It was a crowd-pleaser, giving us a dose of humor and intellect, with a side of Digital Underground’s “The Humpty Dance.”

dope 4

Review: San Andreas

via Tribute
via Tribute

San Andreas (2015)

PG-13 / 114 min

Action / Drama / Thriller

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario

Director: Brad Peyton


The San Andreas Fault line is one of the biggest fault lines of its kind, spanning almost the entire state of California.  The line has been dormant and stable for a while now, with no indication of it going off anytime soon.  But what if it did?  What would happen?  What would you do?  These questions pretty much make up the slogan for San Andreas, a disaster movie about what would happen if the entire San Andreas fault where to rumble.  Spoiler: things go bad very, very quickly.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plays himself…nope, I meant Ray, a rescue officer from the Los Angeles Fire Department.  He is currently having some marriage troubles as his wife Emma (Carla Gugino) sends divorce papers to his house.  He also has a daughter named Blake (Alexandra Daddario) who he is very protective of, due to a past incident when he lost his other daughter to a rafting accident.  As everybody goes their separate ways, California starts to tremble as the entire state starts to quake.  Ray manages to get to his wife, but his daughter is trapped in the city after Emma’s boyfriend leaves her to fend for herself.  The general plot premise reminds me of another movie series I’ve seen…is this Taken?  Sadly, this is not a Taken movie, but the movie might as well be if you sub out the earthquake and in its place put in kidnappers.

via Clutch Mag
via Clutch Mag

Blake is not alone for long however, as she picks up to friends that help her get out of an early jam.  Brothers Ben and Ollie (Hugo Johnstone-Burt and Art Parkinson) are quick to her aid.  The newly formed trio stick together for the rest of the movie, with the sole mission of finding high ground for Blake’s dad to find them.  Hugo Johnstone-Burt and Art Parkinson were my favorite additions to the cast as they provided the comic relief and charm in a movie full of dire circumstances and terror.

san andreas 2

The movie’s plot falls apart quickly however, almost as fast as San Francisco itself.  (That pun most definitely intended)  The plot holes are bountiful and plenty as director Brad Peyton takes you on a ride through the cement and rebar wasteland of San Francisco.  How Ray is supposed to find his lone daughter in the crumbling city of San Francisco is just as impossible as it sounds.  But why am I talking about the movie’s story?  I guess the story takes the backburner in a movie like this.  The destruction and visually stunning carnage takes the center stage.

This is unfortunate however, as Ray’s backstory and tender family moments get shadowed by the towering destruction around them.  Ray’s past continually stabs at him throughout the movie with the threat of losing another daughter.  The bonding between him and his wife also makes for some nice moments, despite how cheesy some of these moments where.  Everybody makes it out alive in the end (which really is not a spoiler because come on, it’s the Rock we are talking about here) and those family moments to end the film deserved a little more.

via Variety
via Variety

San Andreas is a visual spectacle despite its flaws in storytelling.  San Francisco is laid to waste by the time the credits roll, and watching the city fall apart was thrilling to watch.  Skyscrapers fell down, entire street blocks were decimated, and a gigantic tidal wave provided the cherry on top of all the destruction.  The movie gave us some intermittent rest and peace to catch our breath, but was quick to give us another walloping before we could get comfortable again.  The movie was relentless and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time.

san andreas 4

I would like to point out that the movie started off with a girl driving down the highway with Taylor Swift’s “Style” blasting through the speakers.  The lyrics “And when we go crashing down, we come back every time” were heard, which sums up San Andreas in a nutshell if you think about it.  Everybody makes it out alive but the movie still managed to lay on the tense moments time and time again.  Dwayne Johnson pretty much played the same exact character that he has played in almost every other movie, but he was still fun to watch nonetheless.  Despite its numerous flaws, the movie still delivered on one of its biggest promises: mass amounts of earthquake carnage.  It’s worth watching to see San Francisco crumble to the ground, but not much else.

san andreas score

Rogue One Teaser Impressions

If you have been paying any attention to Twitter recently, you should already know that the Star Wars Celebration has been taking place in Anaheim, California this weekend.  The convention has already yielded a ton of new announcements and trailers, including the first trailer for Star Wars Episode 7.  However, today we got a first glimpse at a teaser for the first Star Wars “anthology” film, Rogue One.

The short thirty second teaser is a slow pan with a voice over from Obi-Wan Kenobi from the first Star Wars.  It starts with darkness, but then reveals a forestry region that looks to be either Alderaan, Yavin 4, or the forest moon.  Later on we see a single Tie-Fighter flying into the distance.  The screen then pans up to the sky and reveals what the Tie-Fighter is flying towards…the (possibly under-construction) Death Star.  As you can tell from the fan-captured footage below, the quality is far from perfect, but it still gives us a good picture of what is happening.

via syfantasy.fr
via syfantasy.fr

In the panel discussion afterwords, it is revealed that the movie will detail the story of the Rebels, and their mission to steal the plans for the Death Star.  The dark times brought on by the Empire have not taken place yet, and the world is still at peace thanks to the efforts of the Jedis.  This also lends to the fact that the movie might take place chronologically around Episode 4.

Rogue One will not feature anybody with Jedi powers, just some normal people on a mission to restore hope to the galaxy.  Their motives for doing so still remain unclear, but it leads me to assume that the movie might feature a lot of “rogue” espionage.  The movie likely will not follow in the same vein as the previous Star Wars movies, but it will be it’s own product.

via The Verge
via The Verge

Principle photography has not begun yet, so the teaser was constructed by the people at Industrial Light & Magic to give us a taste of what to expect.  Because filming has not begun yet, we still have ways to go before we get a full scope of what will be taking place in Rogue One.  The teaser makes it seem like the movie will have a lot of promise.  Watch the teaser below…