• Month of horror continues with "The Pulse"

    For movie buffs, the month of October means one thing: 31 days of horror movies. With tons of horror flicks to choose from, The Daily Texan is going to be providing a daily horror recommendation. Whether you prefer ghosts, zombies or stark explorations of the human condition, we’ll be featuring horror films of all flavors. Check back every evening for the movie of the day. Today’s film tackles evil cell phones in “Pulse.”

    As someone who thoroughly enjoys all things technology, it’s sad for me that it really gets dragged through the mud in movies. Hollywood apparently can’t imagine that technology could be used to benefit mankind. Instead it’s the oh-so-typical “technology is going to oust humans and take over the world” bit again and again. In the 2006 film, “Pulse,” technology once again takes center stage as the source of mankind’s downfall.

    “Pulse” is a remake of a 2001 Japanese film, with a few updates to reflect the advances in wireless technology we saw between the two movies’ respective releases. In the American remake, a young computer hacker unleashes a virus, creating a gateway that allows spirits of the dead to enter the real world through electronics. The film is centered on Josh’s girlfriend, Mattie (Kristen Bell), and Dexter (Ian Somerhalder) as they try to cut off communication with the dead and stop the invasion.

    The film has some great “gotcha” moments, impressive visual effects and is possibly scarier today than when it was released because of the further integration of our mobile devices into our everyday lives. The scene where Dexter and Mattie find the main server where the virus is being stored is especially breathtaking. I legitimately didn’t want to reboot my computer for the rest of the night. Co-writer Wes Craven certainly pulls out every well-known horror film trick in the book and at times, the movie can feel a bit cliche. The characters are never completely developed nor does the plot feel completely coherent, but there is enough excitement to keep you mostly distracted from these shortcomings.

    While the odds of the events in this movie occurring are very slim, the overall theme of the film is extremely relevant to college students growing up in the digital age. The film points to how the advent of communication technology can create a great disconnect between those it was meant to bring together. The spirits use the time people spend staring at their computer screens to create a feeling of complete loneliness. While this obviously takes it to an extreme, there certainly is something depressing about staring into the abyss that is your Facebook newsfeed for hours on end. Probably not enough to make you hang yourself with an Ethernet cord, but you get the idea.

    What “Pulse” lacks in cinematic excellence, great plot and character development, it makes up for with jump-moments and a relatively unique concept. And if you’re looking for something that will scare you into spending less time procrastinating online, then this movie is for you.

  • Trailer released for latest Wes Anderson film, "The Grand Budapest Hotel"

    After a dramatic production process, the world is getting its first glance at the trailer for Wes Anderson’s upcoming film, “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

    The film takes place in a world-renown European hotel, named The Grand Budapest Hotel. The movie tells the story of the hotel’s lobby boy and his relationship with Gustave H, the swindling, eccentric concierge clerk. When Gustave is mysteriously bequeathed a murdered, wealthy widow’s prized Renaissance painting and is suspected as her murderer, the hunt for his head is on.

    Much in the vein of Anderson’s previous critically acclaimed release, “Moonrise Kingdom,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” promises to be a quirky, dry witted farce featuring police chases, playfully insensitive humor and a beautiful European locale in the mountains of Germany.

    A classic-style film — the trailer is shot in the old-school 4-3 aspect ratio — Anderson’s latest film boasts what is perhaps his most exhaustingly star-studded cast to date. Ralph Fiennes — who played Lord Voldemort in many of the Harry Potter movies — Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Adrien Brody, F. Murray Abraham and Tom Wilkinson all appear in the movie, as well as some of Anderson’s regulars — Bill Murray, Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman.

    With the stage set for his eighth feature-length film, Anderson fans now play the waiting game. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” has a nationwide release date of March 7, 2014.

  • "Duck Dynasty's" Robertson family to release holiday album

    Nothing says happy holidays like bushy beards, camouflage and duck calls. At least that will be the case when Duck the Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas hits shelves this October.

    The Robertson clan is putting its Duck Commander stamp of approval on the holidays with its debut Christmas album, which features wacky if not completely absurd Christmas titles such as “Hairy Christmas,” “Christmas Cookies” and “Camouflage and Christmas Lights.”

    The clan, including Phil, Willie, Jase and crazy uncle Si, has a few classic Christmas songs on its 13-track album, such as “Silent Night,” “The Night Before Christmas” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

    The album features performances from country stars Luke Bryan, Josh Turner, Alison Krauss and legendary country crooner George Strait.

    But are these country superstars an attempt to save a potential music flop?

    No strangers to celebrity, the Robertson men have commandeered every marketing avenue, including beach towels, calendars, clothes, ice chests, sun glasses and even Halloween candy. It just seems natural for them to move into the next avenue with a record deal.

    Oddly enough, none of the Robertsons sing on the show except for Jase’s wife Missy, who led the wedding march at Phil and Kay’s wedding renewal. But if the show is any indication, the album is sure to prove humorous. Any sign of Si singing his heart out is enough to win us over.

    The tight-knit family that came to capture America’s heart and ratings has cemented its name in Hollywood. Anything with the Duck Commander logo or the group's bushily bearded faces instantly sells out. Despite the fact that this album might prove to be total garbage, it will most likely be a huge hit.

    At least that is what country star Jason Aldean told 99.5 WYCD Detroit Country’s radio station.

    “They’re so hot right now, I think they can put out anything and it’s gonna do well,” Aldean said. That’s what I told Willie. I said, ‘Man, I’ve been a musician my whole life. You get a TV show. You come to town and get a record deal. You got people trying to throw record deals at you. I spent years here trying to get one.’ I’m like, ‘You’re gonna release a Christmas album. It’s gonna go 10-times platinum. You’re gonna sell more records than me and Luke (Bryan) combined.”

    With a pay increase of $200,000 per episode and record breaking ratings — Duck Dynasty brought in 11.8 million viewers for the season four premiere, making it cable's most-watched nonfiction TV show to date — the redneck family is not planning to fade into the background anytime soon.

    We can’t help but feel that a record deal was a little far-fetched, but we will have to wait and see what the verdict is on this seasonal album, out Oct. 29.

    While this record looks to prove as quirky and original as the TV show, one thing is certain: It will leave Duck Dynasty’s biggest fans happy, happy, happy. 

  • Albums for Autumn

    Pumpkin-spice flavored everything, cloudy weather and the first cool breezes since February. Autumn is finally here. As we move away from the heat that has plagued Austin for most of this year, an entirely new atmosphere opens up for us to experience our everyday lives. Whether you’re studying for midterms, walking to class or sipping on coffee to keep warm, these albums will be sure to compliment the fall season well.

    Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

    Heavenly harmonies, acoustic guitars, mandolins and woodwinds: One can almost hear the leaves cracking on Fleet Foxes’ sophomore record, an album that fits autumn like a glove. Helplessness Blues is an expansive musical journey that details many facets of life, with hooks that won’t get out of your head, in a good way. This album fits as a soundtrack for both foliage-watching and an afternoon coffee, evoking a sense of the changing season around you. Standout tracks are “Helplessness Blues,” “Lorelai” and “The Shrine/An Argument.”

    Drake – Take Care

    Drizzy’s somber and contemplative Take Care is his smoothest release. Gushing mood from the moment it begins, this album trails and traverses through the mind of one of our biggest modern superstars. The atmosphere evoked is subdued, and compliments a warm living room better than the club. Take Care’s soothing R&B elements would be great to listen to while relaxing near a fireplace during a cold autumn rain. Considering most students don’t have fireplaces in their apartments though, maybe the Flawn Academic Center’s fake ones will have to suffice. Standout tracks are “Over My Dead Body,” “Crew Love” and “Lord Knows.”

    Van Morrison – Astral Weeks

    A classic of the hippie era, Van Morrison’s poetic Astral Weeks is a stream-of-consciousness record that intertwines life with nature. His improvised white soul singing style, atop a folky jazz ensemble, makes for a sound that is just as fresh now as it was in 1968. Songs bleed into each other and form a single narrative, rich with deep metaphorical lyrics that can be analyzed for days. It’s great background music for a post-midterm fall afternoon of reflection. Standout tracks are the epic “Cypress Avenue” and “Madame George,” which together total to be nearly 17 minutes long.

    Dry the River – Shallow Bed

    The creeping chills of fall are our first taste of the cold times ahead. Shallow Bed, the debut record from English indie folk rockers Dry the River, accompanies the impending winter perfectly. Lead songwriter Peter Liddle’s dulcet and weary vocals reach both the subtle emotion of introspective ballads and power of stadium-ready anthems in stride — usually in the same song. It’s a perfect accompaniment to dreary cold days like the ones we’ve had recently, where walking to class feels more like Seattle than Austin. As an added bonus, the band released a fully acoustic version of the album — and it’s amazing. Standout tracks are “The Chambers & The Valves,” “Demons” and “Weights & Measures.”

    Feist – Metals

    Canadian artist Feist’s record Metals is a spacious album that delivers inventive indie baroque pop. Feist’s crooning soprano voice weaves and wanes, and the seemingly minimalist production offers plenty of space for her voice to go. The ballads hit hard, and much like Dry the River, she is able to bring songs from quiet delicacy to epic heights seamlessly. Metals is great to have softly playing in the background while studying, or more attentively while finishing off that bottle of wine. Standout tracks are “How Come You Never Go There,” “A Commotion” and “Comfort Me.”

  • Lunchtime links

    Here's a collection of links from across the cultural spectrum to distract you during your lunch hour(s). 

    The Internet is full of wonderful creations, including this video of small animals flying in slow-motion.

    In case you missed it last semester, here are the top 10 UT related Twitter accounts you should be following. 

    Patrice Wilson, the man behind Rebecca Black's "Friday," has done it again with "Chinese Food."

    Celebrate book award season with "The Contenders," a free e-book compilation of this year's finalists. 

    Need cheering up from all this dreary weather? These dogs wearing panty hose will help.

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