How “Trainwreck” Tricks Men Into Laughing

Amy Schumer’s “Trainwreck” is the funniest movie I have seen in a long time. And I’m not alone; from mom & pop blogs to the big critics, the film is earning accolades left and right. I’m sure it will be a contender for the big end-of-the-year awards.

The big story here, of course, is Schumer.

In the social justice era, people take notice of a comedian like Schumer, and her brand of brave, no-hold barred, body-conscious humor. The edge she honed on her TV show, “Inside Amy Schumer” is cutting sharper than ever in “Trainwreck. Schumer has no problem being totally frank about the problems faced by the ambitious young woman in today’s world.

Schumer’s character sleeps around, drinks, smokes and absolutely hates the idea of family, as represented by her sister’s dopey husband and child (the pair of which show up from time to time, constantly smiling and basically as cartoons).

This is how Schumer, and by extension, the film as a whole, earns the trust of the female millennial audience. Schumer’s character also hates sports, which is ironic, since the movie uses sports as a clever way to appeal to male audiences.

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“The Hanging Tree” Remixes

The Hanging Tree Mockingjay Scene

EDIT: Official Remix

EDIT: Republic Records has released a Radio Mix for “The Hanging Tree.” This remix has been dubbed the “Rebel Remix.” You can download an mp3 of the radio mix on Mediafire, or you can buy The Hanging Tree (Rebel Remix) on iTunes by clicking here. The remix has charted on the Billboard Top 100 and been receiving radio play. Guess we aren’t the only ones who saw the remix potential with the acapella. For what it’s worth, I think all of the below are better, more textured remixes. Unfortunately though, you can’t buy them on iTunes.


I saw “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1” tonight (Only spent $54 at Cinebistro this time). The movie is mediocre. The only moment of strength or emotion comes courtesy of Jennifer Lawrence’s haunting performance of an original song “The Hanging Tree,” set over images of revolution.

The lyrics to the song were taken from the Mockingjay novel and set to music by the indie-folk band the Lumineers. There is no version of “The Hanging Tree” sung by the Lumineers, unfortunately (I bet it would be great). The song provides the movie with a much-needed emotional punch. While there is an interesting story to be told about war propaganda, Mockingjay Part 1 does not ever elevate beyond a boring semi-action movie. You’d have thought the split to two movies might have allowed the producers wider thematic latitude, but I guess you don’t take chances with a franchise as big as The Hunger Games. You don’t have something to say, you just have a good story to tell.

“The Hanging Tree” is the only place where “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1” feels like it has something to say. It’s just making a musical statement, instead of a filmic one.

“The Hanging Tree” is quite a hit; it’s actually charted on the iTunes store, and has seen big popularity on the streaming sites as well. Curiously, it is NOT included on the Lorde-curated “Official Soundtrack,” a release from which only one song appears in the movie (Yellow Flicker Beat, over the credits). “The Hanging Tree” is included on the Official Score, a release credited to James Newton Howard (for the ID3 freaks like me out there).

Whenever I hear a catchy, understated song like this, my first thought is always “I can’t wait to hear some remixes!” “The Hanging Tree” is no exception— there are several quality remixes already on YouTube and Soundcloud. Below are a few of my favorites— please share in the comments if you know of some that I haven’t posted here, I would love to hear them.

The Smija rework adds instrumentation and a strong bass line

Moshy delivers a trippy, slow-paced and syncopated remix

AntonMcGeezus created a pulsing, dance-oriented track

There are more out there (definitely a fewer faster, bouncier dance tracks), but these three are my favorites so far. Take an hour and scour around YouTube and Soundcloud for some hidden gems— it will be a better use of your time than seeing “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.”

Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” is less than stellar

Christopher Nolan is one of the best mainstream filmmakers working today. There are better, I won’t argue that with you, but there are only a select few artists in the mainstream who can consistently make blockbusters that are as visually pleasing, thought-provoking, and tense as those that bear the stamp of Syncopy, Christopher Nolan’s production company.

Nolan is one of the only filmmakers whose movies I will see without knowing anything about them. I went into “Interstellar” having seen a trailer or two, and not much else. I knew it was sci-fi, a genre I love, and from a man whose previous original projects included “Inception,” “Memento,” and “The Prestige.” Those are all fantastic mind-bending films which have a lot of flair. It’s hard to argue with a pedigree like that (although many online Steven Spielberg fans will argue with you about it until neither of you enjoys the discussion anymore).

Interstellar tries really hard to fit the same mold, but it just didn’t work for me in the same way Nolan’s earlier films did. Simply put: Interstellar is a decent film, but I left it in the theatre (along with eighty dollars, but that’s another story). My mind was already on tomorrow by the time the lights came up. I didn’t find myself immediately wanting to rewatch it, which is the way I felt after “Memento,” “The Prestige,” and “Inception.”

This may be because Interstellar uses less sleight-of-hand to keep audiences guessing.

Although the plot of the movie (I’ll keep it vague, promise) revolves around some fairly advanced astrophysics, information or understanding is never withheld from the audience. The critical scenes in the movie all have clearly defined stakes and rules. The movie progresses from plot point to plot point in a linear fashion. And even when the film ventures into strange territory and advanced theoretical concepts, there’s never much of a sense of mystery or wonder.

The cinematography is jaw-dropping and breaks its back to instill meaning and scale into the void left by a compelling plot. The score by Hans Zimmer is well-constructed, but unobtrusive (not usually a word I would use to describe the work of Hans Zimmer).

Matthew McConaughey as Cooper is the emotional center of the movie, and it is largely the strength of his performance that anchors the movie. Nolan clearly understood this, as he hangs the success this film on emotional appeal.

I’m a cerebral person. Although I can appreciate a good tearjerker or a quiet movie which silently swims on emotional subtext, I’ll take the guessing game of “Memento” over that stuff any day. At least in a Christopher Nolan film.

I left the theatre underwhelmed; my girlfriend came out sobbing.

I can’t say that “Interstellar” was a bad film; it clearly connected with her, and others I have spoken to about the film echo her sentiment. The film strikes a resounding emotional note. And for some people, that’s enough. Strike that note in the cold vacuum of space though, and it produces no sound.

Wherein I spend $80 seeing a movie at CinéBistro

Wine in movie theater

I took my girlfriend to see “Interstellar” this past weekend (Review here). We decided to do “dinner and a movie” on Sunday night, to celebrate her starting work (I work from home, and let me tell you, that’s difficult to do when your unemployed girlfriend is walking around in her underwear all day). This was a cause to celebrate, at least in a modest “dinner and a movie” way.

Dinner and a movie, Vail style, is a $100+ date. We spent $80 at the movie theatre.

Vail, 1, thisisyouth, 0.

Vail’s only movie theatre is, unsurprisingly, an upscale affair. Cinébistro at Solaris is a full-service concept, with menus and waiters and wine. It is without a doubt the nicest movie theatre I have ever been in.

The seats are leather, the leg room is spacious; Like most places in Vail, something about it really reminds me of money.

And that’s the thing.

Cinebistro makes it so incredibly easy for you to spend money. This, of course, is the goal of any movie theatre, with their $7 popcorns and $5 drinks and pulling you out of your home to do an activity which you could do from your couch. They trade convenience and the feeling of larger-than life luxury for extortionate sums of money. Cinebistro is maybe the apex of this idea.

When we arrived at Cinebistro on Sunday night, we had already eaten dinner and had two drinks apiece at the cheaper places in town. “Oh you guys are going to see Interstellar? I’m so jealous! I really want to see that movie. Isn’t it like three hours long though?” A bar worker asked us while we sipped on cocktails. “Yeah, that’s why we’re getting a little buzz on now,” I told him. “Very smart,” he said.

We had specifically chosen to eat and drink elsewhere because we did not want to spend too much money at the Cinebistro. Smart thinking that did not get us far.

Roughly 10 minutes before our screening, we arrived at the CInebistro. We paid $24 for two tickets (with the local discount), and reserved a pair of seats recommended by the clerk, which allowed us to extend the already spacious legroom by putting our feet up on the railing.

Thirty seconds after we sat down in the theatre, a waiter arrived and asked us if we would like some drinks. Two drinks deep already, of course we would like more. We order the cheapest bottle of wine on their menu and popcorn, and are out 56 more dollars. We are charged an automatic 18 percent gratuity for in-theatre service. From the time we entered the theatre to when we ordered food, maybe three minutes elapsed. There was little to do but laugh, exasperated, and say to one another, “We just spent $80 at the movie theatre.”

The movie was good. The experience was great. I’m still trying to come to terms with the fact that two of us spent $80 at a movie theatre.

Much like Las Vegas, Vail is a town designed to make you spend money.

I told this story over beers, to a group of pink-faced Vail Resorts employees who had been in town for all of two days; homeless and full of idealism. They all immediately pointed to our purchase of concessions as our issue. Which is obviously true. If we had skipped on snacks it would have been a much cheaper excursion.

A few weeks earlier, we saw “Gone Girl” at the Riverwalk Theater in Edwards, a town slightly down-valley from Vail. We drove ten minutes to the theatre and did not purchase concessions. It was a much cheaper outing (and for my money, the movie was better). But Edwards and Vail are very different places.

Vail is a resort town, an experience. To live in Vail without having the experience feels like a huge waste. Sure, you could skate by skiing, working, and drinking when you have the money, but why? Why live in a resort town if you’re not willing to make a little bit of every day a vacation?

If you’re not willing to do that, your heart seems like it would fill up with toxic hostility and resentment, full of the things you feel you can’t do.

This economic tension is one of the deep-rooted forces acting on the community of Vail. I’m very privileged to be able to thread the line of haves and have nots, but honestly, I can’t see doing it any other way.

Sometimes you need to eat rice for a month so you can afford an EPIC Pass (still waiting on mine to come in the mail, eek!), and sometimes the heart just needs an $80 movie.

“Money’s money.”

I infuriate my girlfriend whenever I tell her that. Usually this is in service of a “money’s not everything/ a poor craftsman blames his tools,” type of message. Her attitude is a little different. She has less saved up.

Money gives me a lot of joy, personally. My mother and my sister often took loans from me while I was growing up. I take good care of my finances; I acknowledge that a large amount of societal privilege has contributed to my possessing both money and the skills to manage it.

However, money’s never been the thing for me. You can’t put a price on experience; living life well is always more important than making money. This is why I’m here, blogging, working towards an audience and experience and a goal, instead of sizing boots or flipping burgers for $16 an hour in the town of Vail.

This is why I’m in Vail, to a large degree.

I work a day job, of course. Two, in fact. Hopefully more, if the tendrils I have laid play out. But you need to work for more than money, even at this age. If you are measuring your life in terms of how many $80 movies you can attend, something isn’t right.

But one every now and then sure doesn’t hurt.