Friday, February 17, 2017

Joe Bonamassa - Beacon Theatre: Live From New York (2012)


1-1. 72nd St. Subway Blues
1-2. Slow Train
1-3. Cradle Rock
1-4. When The Fire Hits The Sea
1-5. Midnight Blues
1-6. Dust Bowl
1-7. The River
1-8. I'll Take Care Of You (with Beth Hart)
1-9. Sinner's Prayer (with Beth Hart)
1-10. You Better Watch Yourself
1-11. Steal Your Heart Away
2-1. Bird On A Wire
2-2. Down Around My Place (with John Hiatt)
2-3. I Know A Place (with John Hiatt)
2-4. Blue And Evil
2-5. Walk In My Shadows (with Paul Rodgers)
2-6. Fire And Water (with Paul Rodgers)
2-7. Mountain Time
2-8. Young Man Blues
2-9. [Bonus] If Heartaches Were Nickels

Beacon Theatre is another live album that originally flew under my radar, at a point when Joe's creative output was beginning to exceed the typical one album per year - what with all the side projects he was getting involved in, between Black Country Communion, Beth Hart, and in another year or so, Rock Candy Funk Party. Compared to his last live album, this one feels less like a coherent show than a collection of live tracks, although that might just be because there's no real centerpiece. Sloe Gin is conspicuously absent - although, to be fair, we've heard two live versions by this point already (and will get two more on the soon to come Tour de Force) - as is the showstopping Just Got Paid. This may be a blessing in disguise, however, as you wouldn't really want every live album to have the same tracklist (and Joe has been really great about this). Instead, the spotlight here is spread out between three special guests (I like to informally refer to this album as "Joe Bonamassa & Friends"), none with quite the clout of Eric Clapton (who appeared on Live From The Royal Albert Hall), although I suppose Paul Rodgers comes pretty close.

The setlist for this concert consists largely of tracks from Joe's latest two albums, Black Rock and Dust Bowl - which is just as you would want. The show opens with a live version of Slow Train, giving you a chance to hear what it sounds like in concert. Then Joe dips back to his first album for the Rory Gallagher cover Cradle Rock, before pulling out Black Rock's When The Fire Hits The Sea, plowing through these songs like he's just getting warmed up. Following that is a cover of Gary Moore's Midnight Blues ("in the darkest hour of the darkest night, it's a million miles to the morning light"), which is a moody, slow blues with a searing guitar solo, that won't turn up on any of Joe's studio albums, but that we'll hear again on the Tour de Force.

It's definitely one of the highlights of this show, as is the title track from Dust Bowl, which, in my personal opinion, sounds even better live, with more emphasis on the electric instruments, and an extended solo. Joe also digs out The River, one of my favorites from his earlier days, but, while still sounding good, most of Joe's songs peak early in concert, as Joe continuously turns his attentions to his contemporary material. You might consider this a shame if you like those old songs (as I do), but it's good that so far Joe hasn't had to fall back and rely on past glories. (Even the nostalgia-heavy Tour de Force could be viewed as a ritual to honor the past in order to give Joe the freedom to move forward into a new era). Maybe a day like that will eventually come - although with his talent, I can't imagine Joe ever plateauing, just changing directions - but it hasn't come yet.

The first special guest on this album is Beth Hart (who I would describe as a "gloomy" soul singer), with whom Joe has recorded a couple of albums. I've voiced my opinions on her before; suffice to say, she's a very talented singer, but I don't enjoy Joe Bonamassa's collaborative material with her as much as his solo output. That having been said, this live album features the two best tracks from their first album together, Don't Explain, which are the two that feature Joe most prominently (which makes sense, as this isn't a Beth Hart concert). Those two tracks are I'll Take Care Of You - a dramatic, slow burner - and the rocking blues, Sinner's Prayer - which you might remember Eric Clapton covering on his '90s blues album, From The Cradle. Simply put, it's Beth Hart for Joe Bonamassa fans, which is just the introduction you'd expect from this live album.

The show continues with Dust Bowl's You Better Watch Yourself, which, like most songs in Joe's repertoire, is improved by its live energy. It has a great solo, falling into the tradition of what I like to refer to as "junk food rockers". These are songs that aren't showstoppers, and could even be called "filler" - but not because they're boring. They fill you up and never let you down. In contrast, Steal Your Heart Away, from Black Rock, is more of a "take it or leave it" track - it has a good chorus, but the guitar part pales in direct comparison to the last song. Disc two of this album opens with a cover of Leonard Cohen's Bird on a Wire. On Black Rock, this was a pretty acoustic ballad that didn't do much for me, personally. It's still not one of my favorites, but this live version is interesting, because, though still pretty laidback, it's fully electric.

Special guest number two is John Hiatt. You'd think he'd be performing Tennessee Plates, which he recorded with Joe on Dust Bowl. But instead, he pulls out a haunting acoustic number called Down Around My Place, to which Joe applies a thrilling electric crescendo. I'd say we got the benefit of that substitution. The duo also plays I Know A Place, a song that Hiatt wrote, and that Joe recorded for Black Rock. Following that is a live version of a song I wouldn't have expected to hear in concert - my favorite track from Black Rock, Blue And Evil. It skips the acoustic part completely (ironically, in one of the few cases where I think it adds to the song), making me wonder if Joe consciously steered clear of acoustic music on this live album because he was anticipating the full acoustic tour he'd be doing in the near future. Regardless, this is one of those rare cases where I actually prefer the polish of the studio version.

Joe's third guest is none other than Paul Rodgers of Bad Company fame - although Joe's interest in the musician goes back further, primarily to his days with the underappreciated band Free (which is, I'm discovering, a whole lot more than the one hit wonder who put out All Right Now). Like Hiatt, Rodgers has another surprise for the audience. Instead of doing Heartbreaker, which Joe performed with Glenn Hughes on Dust Bowl, they pull out one of Joe's songs from his first album, Walk In My Shadows - which also happens to be a cover of a song by Free! Honestly, I think I would have preferred to hear Heartbreaker, but what can you say? Their second song together, Fire and Water, is a classic Free tune with a killer riff - and one that Joe hadn't previously covered.

The concert concludes with another soaring, twelve minute long version of Mountain Time - which still sounds fantastic. This is a song that hasn't yet begun to lose steam. Following that is an extended cover of The Who's Young Man Blues. Like Just Got Paid, it's a live-only song that Joe hasn't recorded in the studio. I suppose it should be considered Joe's next big classic rock cover, but it only goes to show that Joe's moved into another phase of his career, that I've never gotten as excited about this song as many of his earlier ones. I hate to say this, but it actually feels uncharacteristically sloppy (it really does sound like an encore). Not that it doesn't have a lot of rock energy (channeling the sort of wild abandon that might one day have concluded with Pete Townshend demolishing a guitar), but it's not as tight as The Who's best live performances were. Still, I'm glad it made it onto an album for posterity.

Bringing up the rear - and listed as a bonus track on my CD - is a unique version of one of my earliest favorites from Joe's repertoire, the slow blues If Heartaches Were Nickels ("if wine and pills were hundred dollar bills, I might keep you satisfied; if broken dreams were limousines, I might take you for a ride"). This version is sparser than the one found on A New Day Yesterday Live, with a heavy emphasis on the vocals (but not without a suitably searing guitar solo) - demonstrating how far Joe has come as a singer in the decade separating these two recordings. I love it. This is a song that consistently gives me goosebumps, and puts a lump in the back of my throat, even after all these years. It's amazing, but with the acoustic version on Live From Nowhere In Particular, this is the third distinct version of the song that I think is worth putting on a greatest hits collection (or, more likely, series of collections).

I couldn't call Beacon Theatre Joe's best or most characteristic concert, and it likely wouldn't be one of the first ones you'd turn to if you wanted to demonstrate to a prospective fan what a Joe Bonamassa concert could sound like. But it's still a very good live album; I might even rate it higher than Live From The Royal Albert Hall. Within the next few releases, however, we'll encounter both my top favorite, and least favorite live album in Joe's discography...so far.

Rating: 💿💿 Occasional Spin

Monday, February 13, 2017

Joe Bonamassa - Dust Bowl (2011)


1. Slow Train
2. Dust Bowl
3. Tennessee Plates (feat. John Hiatt)
4. The Meaning Of The Blues
5. Black Lung Heartache
6. You Better Watch Yourself
7. The Last Matador Of Bayonne
8. Heartbreaker (feat. Glenn Hughes)
9. No Love On The Street
10. The Whale That Swallowed Jonah
11. Sweet Rowena (feat. Vince Gill)
12. Prisoner

Following the experimental departure of Black Rock, Joe returns with another solid album in the vein of The Ballad of John Henry, even reviving its American frontier theme. There are some familiar beats here, but this is an album representative of another transitional period in Joe's career. Having attained the polish of a professional artist, Joe would play around for a couple more albums before striking out more confidently as a songwriter. But if his next studio album ends up feeling like a premonition of things to come, this album still features a blend of the themes from The Ballad of John Henry, with some of the instrumentation carried over from Black Rock.

This will not be Joe's last album to start with a song about trains, but as far as opening tracks go, Slow Train is one of the better ones. It revs up like a steam-powered locomotive, featuring sound effects (interestingly, producer/impresario Kevin Shirley shares a credit on this song) that, as I've written before, take the old blues tradition of simulating the sound of trains with one's instrument to its hard-rocking conclusion. The third time I saw Joe Bonamassa in concert was during his Dust Bowl tour, and in the years since, the most enduring memory from it was hearing the band bring this train to life (sonically speaking) right before our very ears. Joe stays in character for the next song - the title track, with its wistful guitar tone that evokes the melancholy mood of Chris Isaak's Wicked Game. A Bonamassa original, the lyrics are catchy ("lifting me up, tearing me down; all you give me is indecision, the classic runaround"), and it sounds just as good (if not better) both live and in acoustic form.

The two songs that rest inside the album's bookends are guest spots, and both veer toward country territory (also with piano accompaniment). The earlier one features John Hiatt (who wrote Black Rock's I Know A Place) on a lightweight ditty called Tennessee Plates; and the later one, called Sweet Rowena, balances the line between country and blues, as Joe plays his guitar very much in B.B. King mode over the contributions of Vince Gill. Neither of these tracks are among my favorites - not because they aren't any good, but simply because they wander outside of my musical comfort zone. My next least favorite song on the album would probably be Black Lung Heartache, despite its contribution to the album's overarching concept. It's bluesy, and it rocks pretty hard at times, but it marries the worst parts of my least favorite Bonamassa albums, utilizing the eclectic instruments of Black Rock with the acoustic/electric hybrid approach of Sloe Gin.

In the middle distance, we have a scattering of solid songs to fill out the album. The Meaning of the Blues has a good concept, and a crunchy guitar tone throughout, but it doesn't go that extra mile to distinguish itself, in my opinion. With heritage owing to Little Walter, You Better Watch Yourself is a classic blues rocker with a heavy emphasis on the wah pedal (and whatever Joe might say about the need for restraint, I've always enjoyed a good wah song - White Room, anyone?). The Last Matador of Bayonne (conjuring some of that European imagery from Black Rock) slows it down a bit, evoking a similar, mournful atmosphere to The Great Flood, but inevitably feels like a retread in the wake of that song (not that it isn't still fun to listen to). It's more imaginative, but less raw - and I like my blues raw. And then there's The Whale That Swallowed Jonah, with its upbeat tempo and a guitar part that reminds me of Lonesome Road Blues. It sounds good, but has otherwise not made a lasting impression in my mind.

Then we come to Heartbreaker - a cover of a song by Free (not Led Zeppelin - sorry!) - which is an exciting tune ("I said my maker must have been a heartbreaker"). It features guest vocals by Glenn Hughes, the Deep Purple alum with whom Joe was performing in rock supergroup Black Country Communion around that time. In spite of the musical pedigree of these two giants, I don't think this cover necessarily rivals the distinct sound and attack of Pauls Rodgers and Kossof on the original. I'd be inclined to put it on the shelf with One Of These Days as a cover that doesn't improve on the original. That having been said, it really does sound good, and the more I listen to it, the more I'm liking it.

Opening with sirens, No Love On The Street (also a Tim Curry cover) passes itself off as a direct coda to one of Joe's best recorded songs - Sloe Gin (as a matter of fact, I enjoy playing these two tracks back to back). It doesn't spend its time building up to a crescendo, but is instead solid guitar energy throughout, with Joe playing the way I like best - attacking those notes like sharpened steel. I rate it one of my all-time favorite "deep cuts" from Joe's discography, and my favorite track on this album. As much as I love the way Sloe Gin ends in concert, in my fantasies, I'd love to hear a live version of it with this song tacked on to the end.

The album closes with Prisoner, a dramatic Barbra Streisand cover ("I'm like a prisoner, captured in your eyes; I've been taken, I've been hypnotized") that lends itself surprisingly well to Joe's musical approach - although listening to the original now, Joe's guitar-heavy adaptation sounds like a natural evolution for the song. Without being a traditional blues, it has the kind of emotion and intensity you typically find in Joe's best slow blues. Along with Reconsider Baby from Had To Cry Today, I rate this as one of the all-time best unsung covers in Joe's discography. It's a stunning end to a stellar album from what I would consider Joe Bonamassa's "golden age" (the period that began with You & Me, and continues through the Tour de Force). I don't know if I'd prefer it to The Ballad of John Henry, but it's essential middle-period Bonamassa nonetheless.

Rating: 💿💿💿 Frequent Spin

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Joe Bonamassa - Black Rock (2010)


1. Steal Your Heart Away
2. I Know A Place
3. When The Fire Hits The Sea
4. Quarryman's Lament
5. Spanish Boots
6. Bird On A Wire
7. Three Times A Fool
8. Night Life
9. Wandering Earth
10. Look Over Yonders Wall
11. Athens To Athens
12. Blue And Evil
13. Baby You Gotta Change Your Mind

Like Sloe Gin, Black Rock is another experimental departure for Joe. It was recorded in Greece (at Black Rock Studios in Santorini), and features a mediterranean, "world music" sort of flavor, with the addition of various folk instruments. It rocks considerably harder than Sloe Gin, but the songs feel a little disjointed, and in my opinion actually suffer from an attempt to fuse different musical forms, instead of planting themselves firmly in one camp or the other. Prior to reminding myself of the extent to which Sloe Gin is an acoustic album during this retrospective listening marathon, I had considered Black Rock to be my least favorite Joe Bonamassa album (even below So, It's Like That), and it's still among those I listen to the least frequently, surpassed only by the likes of An Acoustic Evening at the Vienna Opera House.

But saying that I don't especially like the album doesn't mean that it is entirely without merit. Notable highlights might include the Jeff Beck cover, Spanish Boots (though appropriately European-themed, it pales in comparison to the best of Joe's earlier period classic rock covers); Joe's "long time coming" duet with lifetime mentor and celebrated blues legend B.B. King on Night Life (although, as with Eric Clapton's guest appearance on Live From The Royal Albert Hall, the recording cannot hope to reflect the momentousness of the occasion); and my personal favorite, Blue And Evil, which opens with an acoustic riff but quickly blasts into full electric force (with the meanest riff since Cream's Politician), reminding me of an earlier favorite: The River from Had To Cry Today.

The album opens on what is probably its strongest foot, with Steal Your Heart Away, a solid rocker, and the John Hiatt-penned I Know A Place, followed by When The Fire Hits The Sea (a title that evokes mental images of Greek fire). That last one has a strong vocal part, but like much on this album, I don't feel that it reaches the extra mile to distinguish itself as "great". Upon repeated listening, Quarryman's Lament (possibly a sequel to Story of a Quarryman from The Ballad of John Henry) has grown on me the most, and is what I would call the best demonstration of the bouzouki and clarino accompaniment on this album (which, quite honestly, can get in the way on some of the other songs), giving it a flutey, stringy kind of sound.

For an album that features both a Freddie King and an Otis Rush cover (Look Over Yonders Wall and Three Times A Fool, respectively), I don't really feel that it brings the blues. Maybe it's just the context of the album they appear on, or that they're more blues fillers than showstoppers, but I like the original artist's version better in both cases. Wandering Earth (an original) is probably the most traditional-sounding Joe Bonamassa track on the album, but as an electric blues, it feels kind of lethargic. Joe's cover of Leonard Cohen's Bird on a Wire is sweet and gentle, but it makes me wonder if this is part of Kevin Shirley's ploy to expand Joe's popularity into the female demographic. The other strictly acoustic track on this album, Athens to Athens, similarly leaves me dry.

Finally, the album closes with a lightweight acoustic ditty - a cover of Blind Boy Fuller's Baby You Gotta Change Your Mind - that reminds me of Van Halen's Ice Cream Man, albeit not so gimmicky, and with less vocal theatrics (as opposed to, say, Joe's cover of Jelly Roll from Sloe Gin). It also kinda dulls the thunder of Blue and Evil, which directly precedes it, and would have made for a more climactic finish to the album. Coming to Black Rock as a fan of Joe Bonamassa the blues rock titan, it doesn't get me very excited. But you might find it considerably more interesting if you're someone with a deeper appreciation of Greek or "world" music. And, hey, every new fan of Joe helps to build his legacy as one of the greats! But if I had to choose, I'd just as soon put another of Joe's discs on the turntable for a spin.

Rating: 💿 Rare Spin

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Holidays (2016)

Good or bad, regardless of the outcome, this is a horror anthology after my own heart - like something pilfered from my metaphorical sketchpad of ideas - with each segment themed around a different holiday. Anthologies are fun; the themes give each segment a creative anchor to dance around; and together they form a set! It's too bad, then, that this anthology is so reminiscent of The ABCs of Death, with more often than not meaningless sequences with inconclusive endings that do not shy away from gore and nudity (although just as likely designed to repulse as titillate).

Valentine's Day starts off with some locker room bullying à la Carrie, the target being a high school girl with a crush on her swim coach, who is in need of a heart transplant (I think you can see where this is going). In St. Patrick's Day, a creepy grade school girl lays down some voodoo on her teacher, leading to the line, "have you ever seen the Hollywood movie Rosemary's Baby? If you replace 'baby' with a reptile...", emphasizing that these segments are not meant to be taken seriously. One of the better segments, Easter is pure nightmare fuel on steroids, featuring the most terrifying depiction of the Easter Bunny I've seen yet, and aptly demonstrating the symbolic clusterfuck that is a holiday sewed together from both its pagan (chicks and bunnies!) and Christian (a man rising from the dead!) roots.

Mother's Day centers on a woman with a condition the extreme opposite of sterility, who manages to get pregnant without fail, even while on birth control and when her partner wears three condoms. Desperate and having exhausted all conventional avenues of treatment, she heads out into the desert to play the totem in a fertility ritual that may or may not be Satanic (as the abrupt and unsatisfying ending fails to clarify). On the other hand, Father's Day is another one of the better segments (notwithstanding its obtuse ending), constructing an eerie atmosphere reminiscent of Silent Hill, when a woman receives a tape from her absentee daddy, sending her on an emotional scavenger hunt.

One couldn't be faulted for expecting more from the Halloween segment, especially considering that it was written and directed by Kevin Smith (who, at least, demonstrated a surprisingly good grasp of horror in Red State). It plays up the sexualization aspect of the holiday (and not much else), with a story about a trio of cam whores exacting brutal and humiliating revenge against their deadbeat asshole of a pimp. But all it does is make me wonder, when will the day come when people start writing stories about what a fair trade porn industry should look like, instead of fueling moral conservatives' nightmares (and feminists' wet dream revenge fantasies) of dehumanizing abuse and degradation?

Seth Green stars in the Christmas segment (what, no Thanksgiving?), which shows the horrors of allowing commercialism to trump the spirit of good will, via a VR headset that taps in to the viewer's imagination. "Ain't the holidays hell?" But Black Mirror this is not. Finally, we come to New Year's, in which two lonely singles meet for an awkward first (and last) date, with a surprising twist proving that you can never predict who you're going to meet on a dating website. Having come to the end, I can't say I would give this anthology my glowing recommendation, although it was at least as worthy a potential endeavor as the ABCs of Death was. (But we all know how that turned out). If you could watch the segments individually, though, I'd say give Easter and Father's Day a try.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Joe Bonamassa - Live From The Royal Albert Hall (2009)

1-1. Django
1-2. The Ballad Of John Henry
1-3. So, It's Like That
1-4. Last Kiss
1-5. So Many Roads
1-6. Stop!
1-7. Further On Up The Road
1-8. Woke Up Dreaming
1-9. High Water Everywhere
1-10. Sloe Gin
1-11. Lonesome Road Blues
2-1. Happier Times
2-2. Your Funeral My Trial
2-3. Blues Deluxe
2-4. Story Of A Quarryman
2-5. The Great Flood
2-6. Just Got Paid
2-7. Mountain Time
2-8. Asking Around For You

The theme of this era of Joe's career is making it as an established artist, and this concert is the crystallization of that concept - Joe's first performance at the esteemed Royal Albert Hall in London, proof positive that he had very well and truly "made it". I would actually recommend you get the DVD over the CD, because this is a concert that's more fun to watch than listen to, because the DVD really hammers home the personal significance of this show for Joe, and the road he's taken to get there. And though it may have been, as Joe says, the "greatest night of [his] life" (up to that point), I have to be completely brutal here, because sonically, it's not his best live album.

And I hate to say anything bad about a Joe Bonamassa concert (much less one as monumental as this), because he's a remarkably consistent musician, and even on his "off" days, he still delivers an incredible show, and is heads and shoulders above his competition. And I'm sure this would have been a phenomenal show to have attended (and the DVD gives you a better feel for that), but when you have many different concert recordings to choose from (including another one at the Royal Albert Hall during the fantastic Tour de Force), the merely good inevitably gets passed over for the great. That's just how it goes.

From the very first time I listened to this show, I felt that Joe seemed uncharacteristically nervous, and that it affected his playing. Now, this is completely understandable - being such a landmark show, and having the pressure of performing a song with a lifelong idol and one of his biggest inspirations. But it's like he's trying too hard to put on a good show, when most of his shows seem effortlessly flawless. A lot of the songs sound loose and untamed (but with less of a wild ferocity than an aimless wandering), he pushes his vocals a little harder than they really need to go, and some of the older songs (particularly from the power trio days) suffer from overinstrumentation.

To start with, Eric Clapton's guest spot on Further On Up The Road is a bit anticlimactic. I hate to say that, because I'm sure it meant the world to Joe, but I've always had the opinion that Eric Clapton is a little bit overrated as a guitarist, given how massively influential he was. And in the category of special guests, Paul Jones shows up to play harmonica on Your Funeral My Trial. A lot of the songs heard on Live From Nowhere In Particular are repeated here, and don't necessarily sound any better than they did before. The acoustic powerhouse Woke Up Dreaming has notably been extended a couple more minutes, with an interesting new opening section. And it's great to hear a live version of Blues Deluxe, but though the guitar part sounds fantastic, the rest of the song drowns in the brass and piano accompaniment.

The highlights of this concert, musically speaking, would have to be the new songs from The Ballad of John Henry, heard for the first time live. Among those is, of course, the title track, which is exciting to hear, but it will take some time yet for it to grow into an epic rivaling Joe's other showstoppers such as Mountain Time and Just Got Paid (here pushed back to the end of the concert), and the encore, Asking Around For You, which - itself at ten minutes - is beginning to grow a little unwieldy. The rest constitute the best tracks from the album, including Stop!, Last Kiss, Lonesome Road Blues, Happier Times, and The Great Flood, although many of these are worth waiting for their Tour de Force versions. I know it probably doesn't sound like it from my review, but this is by no means a bad album. (And I still recommend the DVD). It's just that there are better ones out there, and I don't listen to this one as frequently.

Rating: 💿💿 Occasional Spin

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Colonia (2015)

Colonia (a.k.a. The Colony) starts out like a Chilean The Dreamers - starring the ever-effervescent Emma Watson and Daniel Brühl as globetrotting political activists and young lovers named Lena and, er, Daniel - complete with a rock and roll soundtrack (making excellent use of both Janis Joplin and Santana). But when things turn bad, and the local fascists start clamping down on revolutionaries, the movie veers into Midnight Express territory, based (in this case) on the true story of Colonia Dignidad. Lena joins an ultra-conservative religious cult which harbors facilities for the torture of political criminals in the hopes of rescuing Daniel. But once you go in, it's not easy to get out. Michael Nyqvist creates a chilling portrayal of the cultleader Paul Schäfer (not to be confused with the bandleader of the CBS orchestra), a spiritual guru intoxicated by his own ego, poignantly demonstrating the irony of a "holy man" who is nevertheless a textbook demonstration of cruelty and corruption. (Begging the question - at least in my mind - of how long we have to continue pointing out the ties between misogyny and despotism before people begin to realize that fighting and shaming our basic sexual natures (but especially that of women) is not the path to divinity). Anyway, it's a tense and suspenseful movie; I recommend it - and not just because it stars Emma Watson, either. ;-p

Friday, October 28, 2016

Honeymoon (2014)

It's crazy how movies can sneak up on you sometimes. And once again, I'm baffled by how disparate people's opinions can be, that I can watch a movie that I think is great, only to hear people complain about how awful it is, when the movie I thought was dreadful has viewers lining up to sing its praises. Sadly, it's almost predictable. I made up a shortlist for this October of lesser known horror movies that have received some accolades. As expected, they've been hit or miss; so you never know going in what you're going to get. The description for this movie sounded like a typical slasher setup - young couple's weekend in the woods turns into a nightmare. So I was pleasantly surprised when after the first night there was something considerably more otherworldly than a masked killer stalking the woods - something that looked suspiciously like a UFO searchlight. But, to its credit, this movie doesn't develop like a stereotypical alien abduction flick either. It's a creepy slow burner, that builds to a majorly anxiety-inducing crescendo. And for a movie that's focused almost exclusively on two characters, the production scored a couple of good actors with very natural chemistry together. They make for a very cute newlywed couple on their honeymoon, at least until things start to get weird. And the way that the one character begins to transform - little things that are off here and there that make you feel like something's wrong - is majorly unsettling. I recommend it.