Time flies when you're... not doing a whole lot? It's time for another Friday Five, and we were vibing with a wide variety of stuff this week. Whether UFC, music, or teen chess dramas are your thing, we've got you covered.
Mac Miller - Circles
This past Tuesday would have been Mac Miller’s 29th birthday, and it has now been a full year since the posthumous release of his final album Circles. To mark the occasion, we’ve been jamming to a lot of Mac this week, and it has been exactly what we needed. Specifically, we’ve had the title track “Circles” playing on repeat. It is a relaxing, feel good song that brings positive energy in chaotic times. The calming instrumentals and low-key vocals aren’t necessarily what most people would expect from a Mac song, but it really works, and is almost hypnotic in the way it can put you at ease. Circles, both the song and the album as a whole, carries a lot of emotional weight and shows Mac’s growth as an artist. Whether you want to listen to the full album (we’ve mixed in, "Blue World" and “Good News,” too) or just play “Circles” 50 times in a row, spend some time with Mac and get right this weekend.
Sound of Metal
Sound of Metal has been getting a ton of buzz even with movie theaters closed, and it lives up to the hype. Riz Ahmed stars as a drummer who loses his hearing, and the film’s sound design works to make the loss as jarring to the viewers as it is to the main character. The audio throughout the movie goes through varying levels of distortion, at times even going completely silent. Sound of Metal lacks a lot of the background music and scoring that is usually in movies, which leaves the viewer hanging on every sound. It relies a ton on Ahmed’s facial expressions, as well as visual cues from other actors, and was just a totally unique viewing experience. On top of the production value, it brings attention to the deaf community that isn’t usually seen on screen, which enhances the project even more. Sound editing and design can sometimes be an overlooked aspect of the viewing experience, so it’s exciting to watch something that uses what you hear, or in this case don’t hear, to create such a visceral, emotional reaction.
The Queen's Gambit
Quarantine has been all about the Netflix binge, and the end of 2020 brought a surprise hit we just couldn’t get enough of. The Queen’s Gambit gave chess the action and intensity it needed to feel like a classic sports movie, stretched over seven great episodes. Some of that has to do with legendary screenwriter Scott Frank, who has become the king of Hollywood adaptations. The show also stood out for its production design and color scheme, which popped off the screen and made sure the show felt more like a Wes Anderson movie than a teen drama. There were also very cool, surprising special effects used in some trippier chess sequences brought on by the main character’s drug usage. I don’t think anyone expected to get a tense, compelling sports drama from the logline, but The Queen’s Gambit is highly worth everyone’s time.
Art of the Title
Finally, a website that obsesses over the same small details that we do! Art of the Title is an awesome site that breaks down the particulars of title sequences in the latest TV shows and movies. They go in depth on these under-appreciated elements of entertainment, taking a closer look at all of the visual and audio choices that help create memorable introductions. Often, these breakdowns are followed by interviews with the designers that actually made the sequences, and it’s really cool to hear about the creative process from artists that don’t ordinarily get the spotlight. A great place to start is with their countdown of the 10 best title sequences from 2020, which gives you a sense of the type of content you can dig into on the site.
He’s baaaack. “The Notorious” Conor McGregor returns to the Octagon Saturday night, and in preparation for fight night, we’ve been watching a ton of old highlights from one of MMA’s most exciting fighters. We also happen to have a McGregor breakdown coming for ESPN, but we’d probably be going down the Youtube rabbithole either way. Mcgregor’s ridiculously fast knockouts and over-the-top trash talk make for some pretty entertaining highlight reels, and we can only hope for some more fireworks as he makes his return from a temporary “retirement.” We enjoyed our trip down memory lane this week, and there’s still time to look back at some of McGregor’s most legendary moments before he gets back to it tomorrow night.