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I Am Not a Music Critic, Please Help

If you ever want to really check your humility level, try writing about a subject you’re ignorant on. I like to think of myself as a relatively intelligent person. Want to talk about politics or current events? I can handle myself okay. Literature more your thing? Cool, we can talk about books and/or writing.* 

Movies are what sparks joy, though. Not only is my job talking to you lovely people about cinema, I love movies in a general sense. I can talk about them all day long, write about them until the cows come home, and, as a result, I’ve thought a lot about them. Why they work, why they don’t, and most importantly, how I feel about them.

Music is a different story entirely. I like Kendrick Lamar, Rachel Yamagata, Curve, Faith No More, and Count Basie. Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell you why. Part of the problem is that my musical ignorance is vast and limitless. Terms like da capo and cadenza harmlessly bounce off my brain, destined to disappear forever in the ether. I don’t understand the mechanics of music, the theory of music, or the philosophy of music. I like what I like.

Here’s where it gets tricky. I have friends who produce and direct music videos. By that I mean, a lot of music videos, dozens of them. One of my friends asked me to review “Ronald,” the newest video by Falling In Reverse, Tech N9ne, and Alex Terrible, which you can watch here. On the one hand, I’m happy to do what I can to help these guys out. They work insane hours, they’re crazy talented, and they’re committed to delivering a video that goes as hard visually as the music itself. 

On the other hand, they asked me, Tweedledee the Wonder Dipshit. Me reviewing a music video is like Marie Kondo thinking deeply about ultimate fighting. 

So how do we do this? First thing, in case you haven’t heard of them, Falling In Reverse has a sound that’s like punk, speed metal, rap, electronica, and glam tossed into a blender. If you’re looking for something fast, loud, and great for listening to while either doing cardio or tipping over a police car, you’ll be into them. From what I can tell, they do what they do well with no small degree of skill.

Speaking of which, director Jensen Noen utilizes an enormous amount of vibrant imagery, rapid-fire editing, and rapid pacing. In the three minutes and seventeen second run time of the video, we’re treated to a brutal POV action sequence, a spectacular truck crash, a winged demon, a coven of wizards, a Terminator-y spider bot, and many more images that are metal AF, as the kids say. To give you a more direct comparison, if you’ve seen 2015’s Hardcore Henry, The Crow, Dark City, and The Matrix films, that kind of gritty and evocative imagery is on vivid display.

Does Noen’s imagery serve to advance the plot? I…don’t know? I say that because as far as I can tell, there isn’t one hundred percent a narrative to speak of, in the conventional sense. To my mind, it doesn’t matter. The raw filmmaking on display is impressive, strong enough that if Noen were to transition into feature filmmaking long term, he’d need to find scripts operating on his level as opposed to the other way around.

So what’s the song “Ronald” about? As far as I can tell, it digs into the struggle with one’s demons. From the point of view of the writer, it’s all about a world that initially seemed like a safe haven, and quickly turned hostile. There’s talk of the unpredictability of life, despair, and a desire to escape. But does escape mean death, rising above the chaos, or something else altogether? None of the above, and the lyrics feel more ambiguous. Are the lyrics subtle? No, but they shouldn’t be.

Is it possible, due to being an old man, a desiccated husk, that popular music culture has passed me by? Oh, hell, yes, it’s more than possible. Add to that general ignorance of the subject, and what I think about music simply isn’t relevant anymore. When it comes to the video for “Ronald,” and the work that Falling In Reverse, Tech N9ne, and Alex Terrible have done, please take these thoughts with a metric ton of salt. But if you’re someone whose musical tastes lean toward the fast and aggressive side of things, and if you want imagery that draws from talented directors like Alex Proyas and the Wachowskis, I think you’ll be into it.


*If you want to have a friendly chat about sports…ah, can’t help you there either.

Tim Brennan Movie Critic

Tim has been alarmingly enthusiastic about movies ever since childhood. He grew up in Boulder and, foolishly, left Colorado to study Communications in Washington State. Making matters worse, he moved to Connecticut after meeting his too-good-for-him wife. Drawn by the Rockies and a mild climate, he triumphantly returned and settled down back in Boulder County. He's written numerous screenplays, loves hiking, and embarrassed himself in front of Samuel L. Jackson. True story.


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