Attention all readers: This is a call to action. Well, first it's an admission. In anticipation of Ridley Scott's upcoming sci-fi epic Prometheus, I decided that it was time to finally sit down, and watch Alien for the first time. Do not, I repeat, Do Not repeat my mistake of waiting so long. Ridley Scott's 1979 classic spawned a grand total of five sequels, and while I haven't caught up to all of them yet, I find it hard to believe that any of them contain the sheer technical mastery, palpable atmosphere, or visual flair of the original. Because I am a member of the world, I was aware of many of Alien's devilish twists coming in, but in case you aren't, I'll spare details. Suffice to say, a mining space craft in a distant future responds to a distress call on a desolate planet, and a variety of shocking, pulse-pounding occurrences ensue. Alien benefits from being filmed on expansive, glorious sets, and being stripped-down to only the bare essentials. It's a slow-moving chiller, one that bores its way under you skin long before any of its iconically frightening scenes come to pass. Simply put, I can't get the movie out of my mind, Scott's space-set horror serving as the most powerful cinematic experience I've enjoyed/squirmed through in quite a while. Those who've already seen Alien a bajillion times, my apologies for wasting your time stating the obvious, but this has become an important issue for me. No more excuses: If you haven't seen Alien, you need to get on that.
On Second Thought...
So, last month I introduced the On Second Thought... section of Leftovers, wherein I look back, and make adjustments to previous reviews with the aid of glorious hindsight. Last month, I was giving Odd Future's The OF Mixtape Vol. 2 more props than I originally had, but this month, I guess I'm feeling grouchy. When I first saw 50/50 last fall, I was taken by its positive outlook, surprising humor, and wonderful lead turn from Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I gave the film an A-, but when I watched it a second time several months later, I was so much less enchanted that I declined to include it in my Top 40 Movies of 2011. On second viewing, 50/50's contrivances bubble-up to the surface in an almost startling manner, starting with the cardboard-cutout characters that populate much of the movie, to the tacked-on romance between Levitt and Anna Kendrick. There are charming, heartening moments on hand here, but they're outnumbered by a made-for-TV vibe that ultimately kills the picture. Maybe I'll fall back in love on third watch someday, but my most recent viewing was not a positive one.
Another output that I initially rated highly before allowing it to slide all the way off of HSH's Top 50 Albums of 2011. Das Racist's debut LP was something of a disappointment upon arrival, but its shortcomings only become even more glaring with time. Trust me, I love Das Racist, probably more than they deserve, if we're being honest, but there's no excusing the lack of straight-up flowing on this disc. Far too much of Relax is spent with Heems and Kool A.D. mumbling repeated, non-sensical hooks, or clearing out for bombastic, messy beats. Whenever these two find space amidst the wreckage to throw down a few rhymes, it feels like they're about to get back on track, but it's only a false promise. Worst of all, after their all-killer-no-filler mixtape Sit Down, Man, Relax is woefully light on memorable tunes, passing in a loud, smeary 50 minutes before you ask yourself what happened to one of today's hottest hip-hop artists.