I’m going to be honest: I’ve never been a fan of Nintendo’s TheLegend of Zelda series. As an avid video game fan — and I’ve been one my entire life — I can understand how that’s borderline sacrilegious in this community. Nintendo as we know it today was perhaps built on Mario’s shoulders, but Link’s numerous adventures in the fantasy world of Hyrule have been arguably just as important to the company’s success as his plumber counterpart. Since the series’ first outing in 1986 on the original Nintendo Entertainment System, Zelda has been one of the most influential franchises in gaming, spawning dozens of sequels and spinoffs that have come to each of the latest and greatest* iterations of Nintendo’s many consoles over the past 31 years. (*latest, sure, but we all know Nintendo has stumbled a couple times over the years with some of their consoles. But hey, this Switch seems pretty great!)
And through each stage of my life, I’ve tried to play another entry in the Zelda series, some of which are considered the absolute best the franchise has to offer. As a child, Ocarina of Time was my introduction. Then as a teen I found the before-my-time entry A Link To The Past. And most recently, as an adult, I thought the acclaimed A Link Between Worlds would finally be the one that converted me. And although these games are widely praised as being among the greatest games of all time, I’ve never even made it halfway through any of these; at one point or another finding myself bored by the gameplay and putting it down in favor of another game. This has all changed with Nintendo’s latest offering, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
More than anything, what I felt walking out of Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan’s latest epic, was a strong sense of disappointment; almost assuredly the most I’ve felt for any film this year. And I’m as surprised as anyone that I felt this way about it. From the awe-inspiring trailers to the near-perfect critical acclaim, I thought I was guaranteed to love this. I was sure that Dunkirk would be what made me fall in love with Nolan’s work again, following Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises, both of which I think are OK at best (and, to be honest, I don’t think Interstellar is much good at all). But instead, and rather unfortunately, Dunkirk continues the sad trend of middling work from one of the greatest directors alive. It makes me wonder if I’ll ever love a work of Nolan’s again, like I do his superb early films Memento, The Prestige, and The Dark Knight.
Dunkirk is set in a time of war, getting its namesake from a major battle that occurred early during World War II. It was heavily marketed as a straight war movie, but it’s really unlike any past examples — and I’m not so sure that’s a good thing. Actually, Dunkirk’s genre may be more akin to horror than that of which we typically think of as a war movie. We have characters who are at all times in danger, with no hope of defeating an unrelenting villain surrounding them. Their only hope being to possibly escape and survive the tragic event.
I love Fridays, and not just because it marks the end of the work week or because with it comes the promise of a relaxing and/or thrilling weekend. Fridays also signify the release of new music, and could you believe we’ve already had 26 Fridays so far this year, each with its own exciting batch of new albums to dig into. Below you will find two separate Top 5 lists from Jake and I (Michael), containing what we believe are the best of the best in music releases this year (so far). As an added bonus, we’ve each featured three honorable mentions below alongside the lists, and have also created a 30-song playlist over on the Jet Fuel Jukebox, highlighting our favorite tracks from the year as well. And as always, feel free to check out our two previous Best Of lists from 2016 and 2015.
Jake: 2017 has been one of the most exhilarating years in music. While there may be garbage plaguing radios across the country, many music fans, such as myself, have been able to discover a lot of gems over these past 6 months. We’ve seen many artists make a return from long hiatuses to deliver what many would consider their best bodies of work, while other artists new to the scene have been able to generate interest in their talents. Making this list was so hard; I could’ve honestly changed my order so that any of my choices landed at #1, but Michael gave me a deadline that I had to follow. BUT, I think I got it…maybe.
Michael: Similar to my mid-year list last time ‘round, much of my Top 5 this year is made up of artists I’d either had no knowledge even existed coming into 2017, or artists I knew about but hadn’t ever really given a real shot listening to. Discovering new artists you love is one of the greatest feelings you can experience as a fan of music. There are plenty of albums I was looking forward to this year from plenty of artists I’ve enjoyed for years that have already come and gone, and there’s more to come later this year from old standbys of mine. But the most exciting prospect is discovering even more artists I’ll love in the future. My hope with this post is that from my list I can introduce you to some new artists you’ll enjoy as I already have this year.
We’ve passed the halfway point in the year, so Jake and I have decided to chronicle the best music of the past six months. Here, you will find our favorite 30 songs (15 picks to each man), and later today we will be unveiling our favorite albums of the year between two Top 5 lists in one post.
Enjoy some great music today with us here at the Jet Fuel Jukebox!
The summer’s most fun and excitingly fresh film has officially arrived with Edgar Wright’s wholly exceptional Baby Driver. Led by a catchy and calculated soundtrack, the film presents exhilarating car-chase scenes with an ensemble of precisely handled characters behind-the-wheel, gaining traction from its impressively meticulous opener through to its explosive climax. Baby Driver is perhaps Wright’s greatest achievement yet — and with a track record as stellar as his, that’s saying a lot.
Following his remarkable comedic genre mashups with films like Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End, and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, in Baby Driver, Wright strips back the pulpy silliness his work is famous for. Instead, here he exhibits a sense of realism and seriousness he’s not yet shown off, but still finds enough space in the script to place well-timed and often hilarious jokes as well, striking a near-perfect balance of dramatic moments and comedic ones.
One of my absolute favorite indie films of the past five years is Ana Lily Amirpour’s stylish vampire-noir, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. It tells a subdued, atmospheric tale of romance and horror while approaching genre conventions with a feminist take, all the while treating its viewers with striking visuals and an unforgettable soundtrack. It’s a film I love, and a debut that presented Amirpour as a visionary in the indie filmmaking scene; the film garnering an almost exclusively positive reaction from the larger film community including critics and fans alike.
Although Girl is her debut film, Amirpour’s expert work on the film gives the impression that she’s a veteran filmmaker; the film is just that impressively well-realized and notable. Which is why it’s surprising that her new film, The Bad Batch, comes off as amateurish by comparison. Amirpour serves as both the film’s writer and director (as she did on her first feature), and while her incredible aural and visual sensibilities translate over from Girl, it’s her writing that stumbles, lacking meaningful character development or a storyline worth investing in.
We’ve got just a little over an hour before it’s no longer Tuesday, so let’s get this Jukebox out into the world!
This week’s Jukebox is similar to last week’s, but the roles are reversed. Jake’s half is the throwback, with 10 tracks that all came out in 2007, while my picks revolve around a number of brand new tracks from some of my favorite artists.
If you listen this week, you’ll find new songs from Phoenix, Gorillaz, and Foster The People, as well as Top-40 hits from a decade ago, featuring Rihanna, Akon, and T-Pain.
I also want to give a shout out to the new HAIM track, that’s only on Youtube as of now. Listen to their new track, “Right Now.”