“For the Love of Metal”: Dee Snider Is Still Carrying the Flag

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By Raph al Guul

Dee Snider is a legend of metal, there are no two ways about it. He’s a legend to the point that if he’d put out a shitty hip hop album today, he would still remain legendary. Continue reading

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What Was the “Matrix” Trilogy All About?

Matrix 1

By Gabriel Renggli

The Matrix movies are a strange beast. The Matrix redefined the action genre, using cinematography, choreography, costumes, and special effects to raise shoot-outs and punch-ups to new levels of stylisation. The Matrix Reloaded was bigger, louder, and less focused, but cool enough to have our teenage selves excited, for the most part. The Matrix Revolutions was my first big lesson in how thoroughly an anticipated production can let down its fan base. Revolutions helped to get underway some considerable backlash, as people started looking more critically at the other two films, too. By now, the consensus seems to be that we allowed ourselves to be taken in by a case of form over substance. As in: boy, did these films ever look good, but, boy, did they make no sense at all from a story-telling or philosophical point of view.

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“Black Panther” and “Isle of Dogs”: The Limits of My Criticism

By Alan Mattli

NOTE: This is a translation of my own article, originally published in German.

Black Panther 1What do Ryan Coogler’s Marvel blockbuster Black Panther and Wes Anderson’s stop-motion adventure Isle of Dogs have in common? Well, there’s the fact that both titles feature animals. Oh, and both are American films that, crucially, are set outside the United States. But the two most important similarities are about reception: not only are both movies among the year’s best so far; few other releases generated as much discussion in the media. You’d think that this fact, along with my opinion of the two films, would be more than cogent reasons for me to review them.

However, since February, when I saw both works for the first – and not the last – time, I’ve been putting off writing about them, even though I’m less than enthusiastic about the thought of letting two five-star movies pass me by without comment. The reason for this is not a lack of intriguing talking points or stylistic choices but the knowledge of not being able to add anything meaningful to the existing discourse.

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The Great and Terrible Beauty of “Annihilation”

By Alan Mattli

AnnihilationWarning: This review contains major spoilers.

An ambitious and overwhelming tale of biological hybrids and a cinematic hybrid itself, a curious case of Apocalypse Now-meets-Under the Skin, Alex Garland’s sci-fi horror film Annihilation, a Netflix exclusive outside of North America and China, is something of a masterpiece. Based on the eponymous novel by Jeff VanderMeer, Garland’s sophomore directing effort expands upon the subdued, slow-burning intensity of his 2015 debut, the brilliant Ex Machina, and fully commits to the idea that in some stories, suggestiveness, abstraction, and open questions trump neat resolutions.

Plenty of commentators take issue with what Garland has attempted here (just take a look at the IMDb reviews), with some criticising the film for its supposed failings as an adaptation while others dwell on what they perceive to be immersion-breaking plot holes. Some also make more valid points, mainly highlighting issues with the script, which is fair enough: its language is functional, steely and stylised, which works a treat in some instances but jars in others.

But here’s what strikes me after three viewings of this extraordinary movie: I don’t care. Continue reading

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The weight of words thus impassed
on streams of sounds made him aware
of all the empty strings that lie
on a full and surely scriptable web.
Then spiders roam between the flying
lines, catching now and then
flies that thought not well enough
that they perhaps are not the most
important creatures in the air.
Hence they die, with tasteful flair.

A Restless Heart and Obsidian Skies

By Raph al Guul

IMG_3248Tender feet on stony ground, a scarlet moon in the sky. She had woken to the sound of passing time or perhaps just the shadow of a dream. Something had been calling her. And though she didn’t know what it was, she felt it best to find the call’s origin.

For too long she had been looking inward and found nothing but unrest. Years, perhaps ages she spent searching for her own genuine soul. And all that was there were burning questions born out of sheer self-doubt. Soon it would be too late for questions.

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Chasing the Sun: Metalhead Releases Pop Album

By Raph al Guul

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Chris Bay may be the frontman of a highly successful German metal band, but no one ever really doubted that he is a child at heart. If anything, his PG-rated metal act is living proof that this kind of music is not just for angsty teenagers and middle-aged bikers, but, as Freedom Call proudly proclaims, “for everyone”. But what happens when you take the shredding dress away and dig down to a more barebone sound? Bay’s first solo effort Chasing the Sun gives us a glimpse. Continue reading