Sirens – #3: Opium Apathy

Sirens have been in the forefront of “my acts to watch” as soon as I heard and saw “Stilettos” the fab introduction to the new electro/ pop/ club renewal of this awesome three-piece girl-group. Having now listened to the tracks on new album “#3: Opium Apathy” to be released March 28th 2011, I am even more impressed.

With “Merry Go Round” using the infamous synth from Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It” you know this is going to be a great album. Though the most notable tracks for me are “Good Enough” which is a full on pop anthem. It has such a great vibe through its pulsating pad and flawless vocals, one I know will be in the running to push Miley Cyrus “Time of Our Lives” off the top of my iTunes top played, which is quite a feat.

Couldn’t Luv U – An ultimately cool and designer/ funky track with all the attributes of a good Gwen Stefani track. Something that can be said about the whole album. Well thought out and curated tracks that give a great sense of direction. There hasn’t been this much designer-cool in music since All Saints “Rock Steady”. For a defining album of their career this will do them well. 5/5*

Britney Spears – Femme Fatale

I’ve had mixed opinions about Britney’s previous releases, I just didn’t understand the thinking behind the concept of her image, songs and presentation. It was with this that I had sincere apprehension when it came to the release of “Femme Fatale”. After hearing “Hold It Against Me”, I wasn’t impressed with the direction and ‘off the shelf’ feel of the track. It holds no quality or distinction that one should expect from an international superstar. Despite this, the album has surprised me with a few fantastic tracks and interesting musical styles.

Notable, stand out songs for me are: Criminal – A very ‘Pop’ style track fusing different genres that make it quite interesting and easy listening.

Gasoline – I like the attitude and simplicity in this track, lead by a bass line and a basic guitar riff that once entwined in morphing synths adds the Britney element that is expected.

(Drop Dead) Beautiful – Has a Hip-Hop synth lead that carries it and adds a sexy and sultry aura. This evolves as the bridge enters with full pads and breaks into the club beat of the chorus. It is a cool song and one for the pop/ electro clubbers.

Inside Out – Has an old style Pop/ Hip-Hop fusion feel but is brought into today with immaculate and precise production.

Till The World Ends – Just might be my favourite off the album. A real club anthem that is perfect for the weekend. Flawless in its execution it holds the exacting qualities that Britney Spears has been known for.

Overall the album is perfectly produced and has a number of great tracks. It is not very ‘Pop’ and is very much in the door of club/ dance music with complete radio edit feel. It’s no bad thing and with the quality in there it stands significantly higher in my opinion over her previous album and single releases. 4/5*

S.W.A.T – Firefight (2011)

This isn’t usually my kind of film as it is usually trying to portray an exaggerated sense of hero and success whilst demonstrating vast downfalls which are never addressed. This was no exception.

A ‘S.W.A.T’ captain Paul Cutler (Gabriel Macht) is sent to help out and certify a team, though his presence is resented and through a failed mission Paul gets himself an enemy. All pretty standard, and all that follows was to.

The acting was perfectly acceptable for a film of this genre and production value, of which was rather good. My biggest gripe came in its blatant predictability and the use of tired and worn plot developments, characters and scenarios. This film is just  a composition of many films in the same genre. I can think of a handful that could be watched simultaneously and you’d not miss anything from watching each sequentially.

Directed by Benny Boom who also directed”50 Cent: The Massacre” and “Next Day Air” which gives you an idea on what audience this is aimed at. For me it lacked any thought or imagination. Films are supposed to be the essence of creativity and possibility; being the ultimate entertainment platform, this made no use of such a privilege.

Winter In Wartime (2008) [2011 international distribution]

Called “Oorlogswinter”, this Dutch wartime film is a fresh look at the acts conveyed in WWII. As a hugely successful film in the Netherlands (out grossing Twilight and The Dark Knight so say Wikipedia) I was surprised to only be seeing promotion for it’s international/ UK & US release in 2010-2011.

It shows the view of a 14-year-old boy, Michiel van Beusekom (Martijn Lakemeier), who in turns demonstrates and is exposed to many defining features of Wartime. His family is conflicted between resistance and collaborating. When he finds a British solider (Jamie Campbell Bower) stranded in the forest he fights to get him to freedom with huge sacrifice. It is in his struggle that the typical themes of a war film come to a new level of emotional context.

With such natural drama and tension fused with gorgeous cinematography this is one of the best war films I have ever had the pleasure of watching.

The Next Three Days (2010)

This really was a kick in the teeth at every turn. I felt a notable emotional reaction throughout this epic adventure of extreme passion and misfortune. As Lara Brennan (Elizabeth Banks) is sent to prison for murder, her husband John (Russell Crowe) becomes desperate to get her out. After beginning planning the escape, misfortune strikes again and he has only three days to execute his plan.

Everything about this film was perfect, from the acting that was so poignant and the Danny Elfman score that captured every moment immaculately. It was fantastic to get a thrill from a film and sit bated breathe at the edge of my seat whilst holding back and on to the emotional content that ached realism.

As you can tell, I thoroughly enjoyed this film and thought it was fantastic.

Morning Glory (2010)

Morning Glory is the charming and humorous tale of how a producer from a top morning show is forced to take on the challenge of saving a struggling morning show. Simple. Charming and funny full of typical relationship struggles (love and work), happy endings and life fulfilment.

Rachel McAdams stars as our lead ‘Becky Fullyer’ a victim of the financial crisis and corporate cuts that quickly lead her promising career to a halt. She soon discovers her strength as she takes charge of “Daybreak” where she works with long time host ‘Colleen Peck’ (Diane Keaton) and new her new anchor, big time political journalist and serious news reporter ‘Mike Pomeroy’ (Harrison Ford).

Though this does all lend its self to being a cliché ‘love and conquer’ tale, which it is, I do not put it down because of it. Such an easy watch but not completely blank and unforgiving. Good performances though nothing exceptional.

The Tourist (2010)

Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp star in this epic Hollywood action drama. This film has many qualities, with Jolie’s coveted British accent, glorious locations and captivating plot with fluidity that gives extraordinary flow. Though for me the most notable feature is in the swelling ‘old school’ score that made the feel of “The Tourist” something of a ‘Disney’ film. Modern cinema in this genre relies on contemporary scoring techniques and soundscapes based on percussion, rhythm and orchestral bites. The score for “The Tourist” is a full-on orgy of orchestration and emotion that I thought was constrained to the past Bond series or big budget romance dramas.

The plot is full and conclusive and gives the sense of fulfilment so that one can walk away after watching feeling entertained but able to move on. It is, despite it’s ‘epic’ qualities, not completely out of the realms of realism and this adds to the emotional content, although I don’t believe it to be in the director’s interest to make this such a film of romance. It is a very good film and a recommended watch for all. (Rated PG-13/ 12A)