Monday, September 24, 2012

Top Ten Music Video Project #1

I created a new "Top" List because I love this video and the song is pretty good too. It's not a Top 10 song by a long shot... but Wong Kar-wai is a pretty good director... and made an amazing video... a Top 10 video!

"6 Days" - DJ Shadow from The Private Press June 4, 2002. 3:43 Directed by: Wong Kar-wai

Trivia #1: This isn't the best song or best video... but I'm just in that kind of mood. The mood for Wong Kar-wai... and analysis. I've been working on my 50 movies list and was shocked to find no room for Lost in Translation (could barely round out the top 100) but a movie that I forgot to list altogether on my best of 2000's list, In the Mood for Love decimated its way to the top ranks. Surprisingly top ranks. A lot of this is probably due to recognizing that Lost in Translation was largely homage to In the Mood for Love... particularly the obvious ode to Roxy Music ("In the Mood for Love" "More Than This"). I only bring that one up because I'm supposed to be talking about music... or at least the music video.

Trivia #2: I think I covered like 3 or 4 bits of trivia in Trivia #1... and I'm just going to launch into stuff about movies if I write further.

At the starting of the week
At summit talks you'll hear them speak
It's only Monday
Negotiations breaking down
See those leaders start to frown
It's sword and gun day

Tomorrow never comes until it's too late

You could be sitting taking lunch
The news will hit you like a punch
It's only Tuesday
You never thought we'd go to war
After all the things we saw
It's April Fools' day

Tomorrow never comes until it's too late
Tomorrow never comes until it's too late

You hear a whistling overhead
Are you alive or are you dead?
It's only Thursday
You feel a shaking on the ground
A billion candles burn around
Is it your birthday?

Tomorrow never comes until it's too late
Tomorrow never comes until it's too late
Make tomorrow come I think it's too late

Monday, September 17, 2012

Top Ten Songs Project #16

"Cayman" - Mira from Mira May 5, 2000. 5:32

Trivia #1: I was going to pick a Beach House song because I'm going to see them in a week... but decided on this one because the band (Quite Please) I saw Saturday night was warming up and I heard the opening little line and my brother saw my face light up like an idiot. He laughed and said, "You actually thought they were going to play 'Cayman'?" Funny.

Trivia #2: I went to see Mira play the Modified a little over 10 years ago with my brother Richard. We didn't make the show because we got a flat tire on the freeway. I was furious... because the Modified was about the size of a closet and I had a huge crush on Regina at the time. I guess I figured she would be approachable in such a setting. We ended up going bowling. It was still fun. I like bowling.


we are so much alike you and i
feline grace and style and eyes
i can take care of myself you see but thank you
content if you just let me be

mysterious creature
i see it in your eyes
human you seem to me
you always seem to know

i'll let you know when i need you when i want you
i'll let you know when i need you when i want you

i can take care of myself you see but thank you
content if you just let me be

mysterious creature
i see it in your eyes
human you seem to me
you always seem to know

i'll let you know when i need you when i want you
i'll let you know when i need you when i want you
i'll let you know when i need you when i want you
i'll let you know when i need you when i want you

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Best 30 of 2011? Maybe?

I kind of went to sleep on this blog for the last year... but I have received a new injection of blog life with the recent posting of the Sight and Sound top 50 of all time list. I've followed the Sight and Sound poll for the past 10 years (longer... but since it only happens every 10 years I was bit too young to be on top of the announcement in 1992... plus, you know... there weren't internet tubes back then anyway). Anyway, I'm working on my own top 50 list... which will be released in snippets at some point in the future.

To resume the blog, I thought I'd post the list I made for last year... which for some reason I never posted. The list is pretty intact from whenever I made it (a couple of changes) and I made up all these blurbs on the spot, so they'll be extra weird and irrelevant to the actual movie that it's supposed to be about! Enjoy!

30. Super 8  JJ Abrams
An ode to Spielberg seemed appropriate in a year when Spielberg misfired so badly on his personal ode to horse torture snuff films (War Horse). It doesn’t quite capture the magic of early or even late Spielberg, but I think the annoying kids can be blamed for some of that. Abrams later admitted that this film was the original ending to Lost.

29. Mozart’s Sister  René Féret
A family road movie not entirely dissimilar to the Griswold’s first trek to WallyWorld. Or maybe it is entirely dissimilar… maybe I misread the subtext. I tend to do that.
28. Tin Tin  Steven Spielberg
Everybody’s favorite Belgian reporter sets off to find treasure and to not die in this Spielberg directed film that surprisingly has very little horse torture (seriously, what was with War Horse?).

27.The Artist Michel Hazanavicius
This recent Best Picture winner can take its place next to other films such as The King’s Speech,  A Beautiful Mind, and Driving Miss Daisy. That is, Best Picture winners that are pretty good movies… for the most part. Best Picture isn't all it's cracked up to be. Few things are.
26. Kung Fu Panda 2  Jennifer Yuh
Po is back, but this time... he’s fighting canons! I can't help but liking these movies. I'm not a big Jack Black fan but I love these movies.
25. Le Havre  Aki Kaurismäki
A perfectly charming film. If they were giving out awards for charming movies than this movie would place somewhere in the top… possibly. Who is to say? After all, charm is subjective.

24. The Muppets  James Bobin 
“The Muppets are making a comeback, I read about it in the Economist.” There weren’t a lot of kids laughing at that joke in the theater, but that was the best joke in the entire movie. It’s a really solid joke. Stupid kids...

23. Of Gods and Men Xavier Beauvois
I almost left this film off the list because I find it difficult to come up with a joke on it. Torture and war are not funny topics... unless maybe it’s Spielberg making a war movie about a horse that, for some reason, is tortured constantly (what was he thinking?!).

22. We Need to Talk About Kevin  Lynne Ramsay
One of the first things they teach you at parenting school is that if your child turns out to be a sociopath you probably should not train him on how to shoot a bow and arrow. John C. Reilly (I know his character has a name, it's Franklin... but John C. Reilly is funnier and if I wrote Franklin you wouldn't know who I was talking about) missed that parenting class. I think he missed every parenting class. I'm pretty sure that Franklin (now Franklin is funnier) never took a class on anything.

21. Contagion  Steven Soderbergh
I have a pretty annoying cough right now. I would not be as worried about it if I hadn’t seen Contagion. Incidentally one of my regular library patrons recently returned a copy after checking it out on my recommendation. I think I should quote them, "Does the movie ever get... good?" (they did not finish the film) Personally, I think it does get "good" but I thought it started "good" so... what do I know?

20. Melancholia  Lars Von Trier's
I've been lukewarm about a lot of Lars Von Trier's work that has come along since he made Breaking the Waves. Melancholia is a step in the right direction. It’s about depression. World-ending depression... which I imagine is what deep depression would feel like. 

19.Source Code  Duncan Jones
Did you know that Duncan Jones is David Bowie's son? The film was originally credited that way (Directed by David Bowie's Son) but was changed after Duncan found out about it. I liked Moon better, but I might be alone on that one.

18. A Separation  Ashgar Farhadi
A lot of movies are based on the premise of misinformation and it drives me crazy, but the misinformation is central to the plot of this film and it works with the story. You know... like Rashomon.
17. Jane Eyre  Cary Fukunaga 
I'm a sucker for this stuff. Fassbender and Wasikowska are perfect in the title roles. Or rather, the latter is perfect in the title role and the former is perfect in the role that he plays (the role that he plays is Rochester... haven't you read Jane Eyre? You have? Then read The Eyre Affair. I love the Thursday Next series. Do you? You do? I misjudged you. You're alright.)

16. Win Win  Thomas McCarthy
The charm in this movie makes Le Havre... seem not quite as charming. Incidentally, the guy who plays the scumbag reporter in the last season of The Wire is the guy that directed this (#trivia). Paul Giamatti should be in every movie.

15. Once Upon a Time in Antonolia  Nuri Bilge Ceylan
It won the Grand Prix at Cannes... but forget about that. I love a good murder mystery. You give me a good murder where people are just wandering around and nobody knows what’s going on with well developed characters and I’ll give you the 15th best movie of 2011.

14. Even the Rain  Icíar Bollaín
Movies about movies are generally awful. This movie is more about water. Movies about water are generally very good. Water is important. You can get a lot of material out of making movies about water, even rain water in Bolivia. There are probably some “underlying” themes about Columbus as well... but I don’t deal too well in subtext. Ok... so they hit you pretty hard over the head with it.

13. Trollhunter  André Øvredal

12. The Descendants  Alexander Payne
George Clooney and Brad Pitt were heavy favorites for Oscar this year, and deservedly so.  I think they should have both won. Instead they gave it to the guy (Jean Dujardin) from The Artist. Oh, Academy... you're priceless. 

11. Hugo Martin Scorsese
Scorsese does what he can with adapting a rather extraordinary book in The Invention of Hugo Cabret. It’s a book for movie lovers that perhaps was better left not being made into a movie. There are great 3D tricks that entertain much in the way the first films did, but it’s kind of bland when there aren’t the visual tricks. Chloe Moretz remains one of my favorite up and coming young actresses.

10. Rango  Gore Verbinski
I have always wanted to do an animated remake of Chinatown starring Johnny Depp as a lost pet chameleon. Maybe not always, but for as long as I can remember. 

9. Certified Copy Abbas Kiarostami
What is a certified copy? A copy of an original... that has been certified. Seems simple enough, but what does that have to do with the movie? What is this movie about? Are certified copies truly originals of their own? Who certifies the copy? Oh...

8. Drive Nicolas Winding Refn
Ryan Gosling. I here that he was in The Notebook. Now, I don’t know what that is... but I know that he was also in Half Nelson. Half Nelson is great. This movie is very 80’s. Seriously 80's. So 80's that... you can't believe how 80's it is. Al Brooks is great in it. His best role since The Scout! (Al Brooks hasn't had a lot of great roles recently... but he is great in this, deserved a nomination)

7. The Mill and the Cross  Lech Majewski
Fascinating stuff. A painting sprung to life. Rutger Hauer of Blade Runner and Hobo with a Shotgun fame plays Peter Bruegel a no-nonsense… painter. But seriously, this is kind of an extraordinarily beautiful film, if you're into that kind of thing.

6. Meeks Cutoff  Kelly Reichardt
Reichardt is on a pretty solid roll of making great movies but nobody seems to care because her movies are like this. Wendy and Lucy is great, which reminds me... Michelle Williams is great too. She was nominated for an academy award for her third best performance last year. 

5. Hanna Joe Wright
Joe Wright, the other Wright Brother, how do you do it? Three straight adaptations to start your career off and then this? I’m guessing that’s because the third adaptation was The Soloist... and nobody seemed to like that movie... or book. I didn't see Hanna coming. I guess it should help to make you fresh for Anna Karenina. Just a thought, but maybe you should do a mashup, Hanna Karenina? Think about it. Get back to me.

4. Moneyball Bennett Miller
I like baseball. Everyone knows this. This movie isn’t about baseball. It’s about winning. Not Charlie Sheen winning (that was Major League) but just plain winning, against odds. Changing odds. Fixing a broken game. Winning when you’re not supposed to. Being an actual underdog because that's what you are. Brad Pitt is excellent as Billy Beane. Excellent.

3. Attack the Block  Joe Cornish 
Edgar Wright didn’t direct this movie, just produced it. I don’t care. It’s got that Wright kind of feel. That stuff. I still remember leaving the theater and the elderly people behind us politely asked if we understood anything that happened in the movie. I politely replied, "Yes." Cornish also wrote the screenplay for Tin Tin, so he had a pretty good year of his own.

2. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy  Tomas Alfredson 
There were a lot of people complaining that this movie did not make any sense and that it was stupid and that I was stupid for thinking it was good. They have a point. Watch out for Tomas Alfredson, with this coming on the heels of the most promising debut that I've seen in a long time (Let the Right One In) he looks like the real deal.

1. Take Shelter  Jeff Nichols 
Michael Shannon has the market cornered on crazy. But is he crazy? Better take shelter, just in case. Seriously. Do it. I saw this movie and I haven’t left my shelter since. I’ve even gone so far as to take it. It, being the shelter. While you're taking shelter, watch Shotgun Stories. It's Michael Shannon's and Jeff Nichols previous collaboration. It's the best stuff, though not as good as this, the best movie 0f 2011.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Top 10 Movies of 2010

It's May! I was joking when I originally said that my goal was to get this stupid thing up before the halfway point of the year, I really was. But here we are. It's May. Here is the list. Enjoy.

Top 10 Movies of 2010

10. A Prophet Jacques Audiard
I finally got around to watching Read My Lips this year which makes my viewing of Jacques Audiard's movies complete (well, the readily available ones...). After watching them all I can safely say that A Prophet is his best work to date and that's not becaue the other movies are bad, it's just that A Prophet is really good. It has been compared to many American gangster/prison films but stands as a unique commentary all in it's own. It is not about glorifying gangsterism so much as it is about saying, "Hey, look at these gangsters!" That is to say, closely examining the workings of a select group of organized crime figures inside a French prison. Gritty stuff.

9. Police, Adjective Corneliu Porumboiu
I love movies about words and police. I am also really liking the Romanian New Wave. It's one of my favorite new waves! I highly recommend people, when attending baseball games, do this wave instead of any other wave. But I digress, this is as cleverly directed a film as I can remember viewing. It's Porumboiu's second film (the first being the must see 12:08 East Bucharest Street) and I can think of nothing but great things to say about the work I've seen up to now. I want more. Please.

8. Let Me In Matt Reeves
Few people were more against this remake than I was and now I can’t imagine many people liking this movie more than I do. Also, I like to be the person either the most against something or the most for it. That being said I’m very much against the remake of the Red Riding Trilogy as a “film” and very much for The Girl with Dragon Tattoo remake. Probably more than anybody in the world…

7. Toy Story 3 Lee Unkrich
I went into this screening thinking it was the third installment of a documentary on the making of The Toy, starring Richard Prior, Jackie Gleason and some kid. I was pleasantly surprised that it was not. But that's only because Toy Story 3 is such a brilliant movie... so long as you don't watch it in 3D, as it is literally much less brilliant in 3D. Literally. It's a fitting end to a great trilogy. I look forward to the prequels and that documentary of The Toy.

6. Sweetgrass Ilisa Barbash
The Academy has a long way to go when it comes to selecting documentary films. A long way. Sweetgrass is one of the most amazing documentaries I've ever seen and it didn't even receive a nomination. Sure, there's a lot of sheep footage. Who wants to watch sheep for 2 hours? I get that. I truly understand. But it's great! It's about a group of sheepherders that take a flock of sheep over the Beartooth Mountains... and there's a guy that cries. It's all very fascinating. Really! It is!

5. Carlos Olivier Assayas
Carlos made it into the top 10 just by never once mentioning the word “Jackal” in the entire 6 hour running time. A lesser movie would have used it no less than 5,000 times including a line such as, “Wait a second, are you... The Jackal?!” A gunfight would most likely follow. That's not to say that there aren't confrontations or gunfights, it's just that the confrontations and gunfights aren't insipidly shot or insipidly scripted. There's little insipidity on display is what I'm saying. There's also a shorter version of the film (about 3 hours) which I haven't seen and therefor can't recommend. Carlos and The Red Riding Trilogy were both released as television miniseries. That's just something to think about the next time you see a horrible miniseries.

4. The American Anton Corbijn
Orson Welles original title for Citizen Kane was The American. Welles confessed he had a hard time coming up with titles, always seeming to want to make movies that began with “The” in the title. Anyway, as far as this movie goes, George Clooney makes a pretty good modern wandering samurai figure and Italy makes a pretty good... place. The pace is slow and I know that made a lot of people hate this movie. They really, really hated it. I liked it.

3. The Social Network David Fincher
Time will surely show The Social Network to be a landmark film, one that very well may have changed cinema as we know it. I am not time. I appreciate the conventions and technique that Fincher brings to all his projects (even Panic Room) and I appreciate the conventions and technique that Aaron Sorkin brings to all of his projects (even Studio 60) but together? I did not think that would work. On paper it looked like a bad idea. But on the set? On film? In the editing room? I couldn't have been more wrong. I lacked vision. I was the Winklevii and Fincher was Zuckerberg, but all things considered I prefer not to be any of these characters. Yes, that's even considering the money.

2. Winter’s Bone Debra Granik
I’m a noir guy and this is Ozark-noir at it's finest. Jennifer Lawrence (of Bill Engvall Show fame... apparently) carries Ree (her character) through a very difficult journey. A crazy journey. So crazy that I would have been tempted to subtitle the movie: There and Back Again (I'm tempted to subtitle everything There and Back Again... it's a good subtitle). Every performance in this movie is great but none are greater than John Hawkes portrayal of Tear Drop. Watch John Hawkes on East Bound and Down... or Me and You and Everyone We Know... or anything to get an idea of how great this portrayal is. Debra Granik's direction gets overshadowed by all these performances and that might be the biggest compliment I can give her.

1. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Edgar Wright
Edgar Wright (of Wright Brothers fame) has managed nary a misstep in his writing and directing career thus far. Better yet, he has demonstrated everything that I love about the movies in his movies... and his television show. You only have to look to Spaced to know where this guy is coming from and that is a place that I understand. It's one thing to love movies and to be passionate about popular artistic culture/endeavors but to demonstrate it in a way that brings all these aspects together? In a way that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts and the parts are greater than anything else? Perfection. The best movie of the year.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Top 30 Movies=3 Top Ten Lists? Part 2?!

It was my goal to get this list posted before the midyear review point (usually around my birthday) and in doing that I was successful. I was not as succesful at seeing all the films I wanted to despite waiting until the middle of March to start posting this. So even though this is my final list for last year it should be taken as, any list, nothing but a starting point.

20. The Ghost Writer Roman Polanski
I was very disapointed to discover that they don’t even write about any ghosts in this movie. They should have called it The Political Biography Writer. Are you telling me that people wouldn't line up to see The Political Biography Writer? I hope that isn't the case. On a side note: it angers me that Polanski makes such great movies. I would have really liked to read that quote on a poster advertising the film. People who make posters for movies can quote me on that.

19. The Killer Inside Me Michael Winterbottom
Film noir is by it’s description dark film. The Killer Inside Me is dark film noir. Casey Affleck turns in a performance that is so unflinchingly unflinching (he doesn't flinch) I had to double check after the film was over to make sure it wasn’t Mark Ruffalo. This is a bleak and brutal film about a sociopath that is set in pulp crime novel noir-land (the book the film was based on was written by Jim “Bleak Bastard” Thompson*). What I'm trying to say is this movie is not for everybody.

18. The Secret in Their Eyes Juan José Campanella
I’m a romantic that loves detective stories. That’s not why I like this movie, I just thought I would mention that instead of writing something about this film. I suppose if I were to write something else about this film it would be that I also like eye secrets.

17. Never Let Me Go Mark Romanek
Never Let Me Go was my favorite novel of the last decade. It ends in the most devastingly haunting way... it's just perfect. This adaptation is not perfect. It moves much faster than the book does and sacrifices some of that perfect buildup. That's probably why it's the seventeenth best film of last year and the not the greatest film of the last decade.

16. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale Jalmari Helander
There comes a time when all children grow up and learn the truth about Santa Claus. I'd like to think that attaining this knowledge doesn't come at the cost of a horrible Santa Claus related death. I think even nice Santa Claus related deaths should be avoided if possible.

15. True Grit The Brothers Coen
It’s hard enough to replace John Wayne, partly due to his imposing size and screen presence, but Rooster Cogburn also happens to be a role that won him an Academy Award. Fortunately, Bridges owns a statuette and has seven nominations of his own. He is also tall. That helps.

14. Inception Christopher Nolan
You know the movies that seem as if they’re based off of one line of dialogue that is usually featured time and again in the trailer? I think this movie was built around an MC Escher drawing. And so, I would like to coin the phrase, “An MC Escher drawing is worth 1000 lines of dialogue.” That is all provided that this MC Escher drawing is directed by Christopher Nolan.
13. Red Riding Triology Julian Jarrold, James Marsh, Anand Tucker
First Shaun of the Dead… now this! British cinema is back! But I kid. So long as they have the Wright Brothers (not actually brothers) they have two of the most talented directors on Earth. Also, I’m not sure if anybody has bothered to come up with a nickname for them yet but I like the Wright Brothers. I’m pretty sure nobody else in the world cares. Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974 is the best in the trilogy.

12. Mother Joon-ho Bong
I now seek out Bong’s work like I avoid Gondry’s. This makes it very difficult to reach a decision on watching Tokyo! I’m sure I'll see it eventually. Joon-ho Bong is one of the best directors going right now. He has yet to make a film that isn't great. Maybe my love of flying jump kicks is factoring in to this belief... but this bias is something that clouds all of my opinions.

11. The Kids are All Right Lisa Cholodenko
I would like to take this opportunity to remind everybody how much I hated Laurel Canyon. In fact, after watching Luarel Canyon I exclaimed, "This film is unwatchable! " The Kids are All Right is superior in every way. It’s almost as if Cholodenko reexamined her earlier work and said, “Maybe I should try and redo that movie but with likable characters and a great script.” I'm a fan of likable characters and great scripts. Mark Ruffolo is pretty good too. Great performances all around in this one.

*That’s the brilliant name that I came up with. The more fitting moniker of “Dimestore Dostoyevsky” was given to him by Geoffrey O'Brien. I think they both work.