Thursday, October 30, 2014

Let's Talk About...Last Week's Stirring Episode of "Reign"

There are few characters on TV’s canvas as noble as Mary (Adelaide Kane) on the CW’s historical drama “Reign”. This past week’s episode, “The Lamb and the Slaughter” proved that point with exceptional impact as she suffered various highs and lows, including a horrific personal loss. Amidst all of that, she continued to stay poised and carry herself with regal dignity. The same could not be said for Lola (Anna Popplewell), Mary’s best friend who slept with Francis (Toby Regbo), the love of Mary’s life, conceiving a child with him. As viewers saw last season, Lola spent most of her time feeling sorry for her own self and the personal loss of freedom that came from her mistake. Rather than be consumed with the heartache she has caused her dear friend. She busied Mary with finding a suitable husband for her so that she wouldn’t have to lose upward mobility. Lola, supposedly raised in the art of etiquette truly knows no bounds when it comes to outrageous requests.

Sadly for Mary, she believes that Lola feels guilty about her betrayal, despite there being great evidence to the contrary. That would thankfully give way as Mary finally reached her breaking point, lashing out. Her coolly articulated and accurate points would’ve leveled a remorseful person, stricken. However that was not the case for the self-righteous Lola, who remained indignant over her responsibility in any of the turmoil she helped create. Even as Mary graciously accepted Lola and Francis’ baby and planned a lavish christening for him. It still wasn’t enough for the girl who wants to eat her cake and have it too. She needs to learn about consequences and humility. 

One surprising development of the episode was Greer’s (Celina Sinden) mature decision to be with Lord Castleroy (Michael Therriault), as she made a final argument for him to marry her. It was a sweet scene, hopefully born out of sincerity. She and Leith (Jonathan Keltz) are root worthy, their tender dance to the string version of The Lumineers’ “Stubborn Love” ranking among their most romantic moments. “Reign” deserves credit for making both men strong candidates, instead of making one a cartoonish villain. The thing is Lord Castleroy is a woman’s choice. He has shown her nothing but kindness, generosity and utter devotion. She is fortunate to have him. She could’ve just as easily fallen prey to someone dastardly. It still seems the other shoe has yet to drop. It’s rare for a CW show to follow through on a coupling that counters a star-crossed angle. Here’s hoping this proves an exception.

Monday, October 27, 2014

TV Rundown: Oct 19 - 24 | Liz Gets Possessive on "The Blacklist", "Arrow" Misses the Mark, GH Heats Up & more!

The Blacklist | Liz isn’t the only one having trouble with the suggestion that Red might have a daughter that’s not her. The key to the Liz/Red dynamic has been that she is the only person that is special to him, who he is willing to protect at any cost. If there is another person he is willing to do that for, regardless if they are his daughter or not, that kind of throws a wrench in things. It was nice to hear Liz express her begrudging pleasure at the value of her position with Red. Despite being the show’s protagonist she is still a bit of a mystery and learning her big secret should help shed more light on her.

Dancing With the Stars | Among guest judge Pitbull’s critiques (yes, Pittbull) were that Janel Parrish showed “no passion” during her Samba. Was he watching the same performance? It was easily the most gobsmasking remark of the season so far. Of all the things that Parrish continually brings to the dance floor, passion is always at the top of the list. Thankfully, Len will be returning this week and the mayhem of guest judging will be over. More after the jump...

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Music News | A Special Event, an Award Win & New Music

Benefit Concert: Music 4 Vets presented by The Envision Indie Coalition, Rize Records & LadyLake Music | Vital Info: Music 4 Vets is a concert series that will be simulcast live online through the Giving Stage network’s website. Among the musical acts scheduled to perform are headliner Doc G. of PM Dawn, A.O., Omar A., Nick Shaw, B.B.P, I-10 Connect, Diane Cameron and International Nova. Music 4 Vets, which was initiated in 2012, is a charitable endeavor aimed at providing musical instruments and music therapy programs for veterans. For further details on the event, click here for the official press release and The Giving Stage website Where: 1510 S Mint Street in Charlotte, NC When: Sat. November 1, 2014

Award Win for Nina Baker | The mega talented Nina Baker recently added another feather to her ornate cap of accomplishments, as her debut single “Single Bed” from the terrific album ‘Quite Frankly’ took home the prize for ‘Best Song of 2014’ at The Best of British Unsigned Awards. She also placed as a runner-up for Best Female artist. Eclectic Pop would like to congratulate Nina on her well-deserved award and looks forward to covering more music news from her in the future. You can read Eclectic Pop’s review of her album 'Quite Frankly' here and check out the recent feature of “Single Bed” in Sonic Assembly.  Keep up with her on Twitter: @ninabakermusic and on her website

The Actions New Single to Debut in the USA | Alternative Rock group The Actions will be releasing their new hypnotic single “The Echo” December 8th through Niteo Records. It will include five remixes, among them will be mixes for Dub, Tech and Electronica. Stay tuned to Eclectic Pop for a review of their EP 'Indefensible'. To keep up with The Actions’ latest happenings follow them on Twitter @The_Actions and on their website

New Developments for Puppet Rebellion | There is a lot of news to share in the Puppet Rebellion pipeline. The first is that following the abrupt departure of their former frontman Simon Monaghan, the group is moving forward with Oliver Davies and releasing a new music video for the last single with Monaghan as lead vocalist.

That single is “Cupboards Painted Red” (available on iTunes starting Nov 3) off the band’s exhilarating EP ‘No Means Yes’ (read Eclectic Pop's review here). The song hopes to alert the public conscious to domestic violence and was inspired by Monaghan’s childhood experiences. The video, which contains no scenes of violence, tells its story through the visual of shattered glass. It was conceptualized by Mat O’Brien whose previous collaborations include work with Passenger and LadyHawke. Expect new music from the band in early 2015 as they plan to head into the studio in November to record an upcoming single with freshly minted frontman Davies. To see the video for “Cupboards Pained Red” click here and you can follow them on Twitter @PuppetRebellion

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Let's Talk About...5 Things Concerning "Gone Girl"

Ever since seeing the much buzzed about and highly acclaimed “Gone Girl”, there were some lingering issues that stood out, negatively affecting the film’s quality, including when compared to other movies. In Eclectic Pop’s review there were limits for how detailed the criticisms could be. Hence this companion piece which digs into spoiler territory and lists 5 specific things that, personally, hindered the movie. The following article contains spoilers about “Gone Girl”, “Malice” and “To Die For”.

#5 The Whispering: Maybe it was the sound mixing or an overpowering soundtrack; nonetheless the result was garbled dialogue. It’s hard to fathom a person softly speaking to someone at a loud party or in a quiet bedroom where there’s no need for privacy. Amy and Nick’s measured vocal patterns detracted from the emotional variability throughout the movie. Making an audience pay close attention to dialogue is good; making them strain to hear said dialogue is not. 

#4 Sticking so Close to the Queasy Similarities in Headline Making Cases: It’s one of the stickiest aspects of the movie. The glaring similarities to real-life cases (i.e. Laci Peterson) are unavoidable and the storyline it culls isn’t one that acknowledges the women in those crimes as true victims. Casting doubt on the legitimacy of such specific cases is alarming. There are issues worth discussing that the movie points out. The media’s lack of accountability as they fan the flames of hysteria amidst a progressing investigation and the public’s virulent judgement of suspects, are relevant concerns that need to be taken to task. However, building a story that so flagrantly uses confirmed horrors as a foundation makes for an uneasy entry point.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

TV Rundown: Oct 12 - 17 | Vengance on "Arrow", a Coronation on "Reign", Plus "Vampire Diaries" & more!

Arrow | As the team attempted to mourn and avenge Sara, the sentiment was difficult to empathize with. For one, she had strolled into Starling City last season acting superior to every member of team Arrow and had especially been a pain in Felicity and Laurel’s derrieres. Interestingly both women were shown to be the most outwardly shaken by her demise. Sara’s smug self-righteousness, lack of remorse and smug attitude should have made for few mourners. She betrayed her sister, killed people for a living and was a compulsive liar, not much to miss there. She lived by the arrow and died by the arrow. The biggest mystery of the hour was how Laurel managed to carry Sara’s body all the way to Verdant.

Revenge | A filler episode that provided little plot development saw Charlotte brought together with David, Victoria scheming to reclaim her financial bearings and Daniel complaining about his misfortunate. The near reunion of Emily with her estranged father was the cliffhanger tease at the end of the episode. What will be interesting to see is if David’s loyalty to Victoria bothers Emily at all. It is because of her father’s betrayal and fixation on a married woman that has lead to the destruction of her life. 

The Blacklist | Red is a recognizably multi-faceted character, complete with mysterious layers that make him morally ambiguous at times. Last season, the show teased that Liz might share that in common with him. During “Madeline Pratt”, she told a story that sounded convincingly honest about how she’d robbed a store by seducing the manager. It was the first hint that Liz might have a dark side and another hint came in this week’s episode when she spoke of what she desired to do to her estranged husband, Tom. There is more to Liz than meets the eye and “The Blacklist” has cleverly been scraping the surface.

Dancing With the Stars | The partner switch-up provided the show with the “what if” of differentiating pairings. What made this week’s episode particularly confusing and lacking any cohesion was that each couple performed a different dance style. Comparing which couple performed better was next to impossible to tabulate because there was no consistency in the routines. In the early seasons, half did Latin and the other half Ballroom. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. More after the jump...

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Movie Review | Gone Girl (2014): "What do you get when two unlikable characters are embroiled in a mystery?"

What do you get when two unlikable characters are embroiled in a mystery? The answer is a story that boasts hardly any emotional stakes. “Gone Girl” opens on the day that Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) disappears. Her bitter husband, Nick (Ben Affleck), goes to his bar to blow off steam with his sister. It his and his wife’s fifth wedding anniversary. From the tone of the sibling’s conversation it becomes rapidly clear that it is a disintegrating union, filled with resentments that’s generalization lies with the core accusation that Amy is simply a retched human being.

Throughout the first half, the film flashes through the highs and lows of their relationship as told by the entries of Amy’s diary. When the couple first meets they enjoy the haughty banter of two hollow individuals circling each other in a yuppie mating ritual that’s underpinnings are deeply rooted in the other “l” word, lust. Amy struggles to overcome the perceived expectations of her parents and throughout the course of her and Nick’s relationship they weather their share of hardships, finances and personal accountability chief among them.

Is this account everything it seems though? A concerned call to the cops turns into a crime scene and the court of public opinion is soon weighing in. Where is Amy? Is Nick involved in her disappearance? From the outset the answer seems obvious. The speculation as to Nick’s guilt is a miniscule aspect to the story and as viewers slog through his every misdeed the movie’s perspective never wavers from who’s corner it's standing in.

Rooting for Nick is next to impossible and Amy is so emotionally distant that investing in her is equally difficult. The film’s tension doesn’t exist because the tightrope has nothing to fasten to. The cinematography’s grainy golden tones offer a visually discombobulating whiff of something grave. Similar to this year’s “Enemy” the overuse of mood lighting and the yellowish tinge that harkens to the after effects of UV damage, adds nothing to the film. It only serves as a nuisance. To its credit, David Fincher’s direction gives the film a stylistic movement that keeps things engaging.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Let's Talk About...A Double Dose of Guilty Pleasure Movies

A great thing about movies is that sometimes, even if it isn’t going to win Oscars or be a hit with critics, it can still be an entertaining experience in its own right. These movies are more commonly referred to as guilty pleasures and for the next two weeks, the box office will have two back-to-back entries that aim to satisfy that criteria.

Nicholas Sparks’ latest movie is “The Best of Me”, a romance that spans the teenage years of young lovers (Luke Bracey, Liana Liberato) who are eventually torn apart by a concerned parent, only to rekindle their flame as adults (James Marsden, Michelle Monaghan). Sparks’ movies are the definition of a guilty pleasure. They are highly emotional affairs where sweeping soundtracks, lush scenery and larger than life storylines carry audiences through the sorrow and heartbreak of love. In 2002 it was the cult weeper “A Walk to Remember” that would set teen hearts aflutter with its forbidden romance that’s transformative properties would set a troubled guy on the path towards redemption. 10 years later the pop culture impact of “The Notebook” is still being felt. Sparks’ movies have struggled to land the same blow of that film, though they have cleaned up at the box office. “Dear John”, “The Lucky One” and “Safe Haven” all bare the distinction of financial success.

“The Best of Me” is poised to possibly join their ranks. It boasts a roster of young talent (Liberato and Bracy) as well as familiar faces (Marsden and Monaghan). Viewers might remember Liana Liberato from her fantastic work in “Trust” and her supporting role in the charming indie “Stuck in Love”. For those who might’ve noticed that the younger and older versions of the male lead (Dawson) don’t bare a strong resemblance, there is a reason for that. Paul Walker was originally set to play the older Dawson. Instead of casting a similarly featured actor, Marsden was cast and instead of recasting Luke Bracey, he remained; hence the lack of semblance. Whether a casting snafu is enough to throw off the entire film remains to be seen. What is far more knowable is that if you know what to expect, the delicious pathos of a romantic guilty pleasure, this is worth a look. More after the jump...