Monday, November 30th, 2009
Hello friends! Is everyone sufficiently stuffed with turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes? Another delicious Thanksgiving has come and gone, and I’m anxiously awaiting next year’s. But back to work we go. It’s nearly December and Kansas City decided to realize it by covering my car with a thick layer of frost this morning. Bring it on, winter. Bring it on. Usually in December I start throwing out my best of the year picks in movies, books and music, but since we’re closing out the 00’s, I thought I’d share my best of the decade picks with you. I know, it’s not the end of the year yet, but I have baby #1 coming sometime in the next two weeks, so I may not be around for a while. Let’s start with my picks for best movies of the decade:
10. George Washington. Before David Gordon Green built a name for himself with All the Real Girls, he told this beautifully simple story of small-town life amongst kids having to deal with grown-up issues. It also has my all-time favorite shot in any movie ever.
9. Big Fish. Say what you will about Tim Burton’s sub-par later work, Big Fish is as thrilling and uplifting as it is poignant. Any child who has dealt with the loss of a parent should see this movie. So should most everyone else.
8. Frost/Nixon. I can’t believe my generation hasn’t heard more about this interview. I’m not a huge Ron Howard fan, but the way he uses the real-life narrative to both stick it to and humanize Richard Nixon is fantastic. Chilling stuff.
7. Stranger Than Fiction. One of Will Ferrell’s best roles, and a charmingly and absurdly self-referential plot. Above all, I love stories about stories, which is all this is, but with hilarious characters perfectly executed by Ferrell, Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman and Tony Hale.
6. Where the Wild Things Are. I know, it’s still playing in theaters so how can I say it’s one of the best of the decade. Here’s the thing- Not only does it enter the chaotic mind of a kid heavy with too many conflicting emotions about himself and the world around him, but I’ve never seen a movie that speaks so much without anything happening. Really, nothing. But it doesn’t matter. Beautiful.
5. Children of Men. Social implications of humanity’s inability to reproduce aside, Alfonso Cuaron is one of the most inventive filmmakers alive today. He and Clive Owen need to work together more. So there.
4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. And speaking of inventive, a Charlie Kaufman script is bizarre and alluring enough without an artistic genius like Michel Gondry directing, so their collaboration is sure to be stunning. I love how taking a simple concept like wanting to erase bad memories turns into a psychological labyrinth of panic and regret and, at its core, the pursuit of love.
3. The Dark Knight. Sure, I was skeptical of Heath Ledger’s performance like most people. Then I saw it and shut my mouth. Christopher Nolan did so much with the characterization of Gotham City that without Ledger this would still be a great graphic novel adaptation, but then he delivered arguably the greatest villain performance of all time. When Anthony Hopkins dies, they can fight it out for the title.
2. The Incredibles. I heard a Pixar producer say once that they sand the underside of the drawers. Great metaphor for the standard of quality at the best animation studio in history. Perhaps with the exception of Cars’ production team, everyone there is at the top of their game. Always. And after The Incredibles, Ratatouille and The Iron Giant, I almost don’t want to see an animated feature ever again unless Brad Bird is directing it.
1. Amores Perros. This is a family-friendly blog, so I can’t translate the title of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s epic masterpiece, but it’s fitting. Trust me. A brilliant look at the different forms that love takes and the ridiculous lengths people will go to in its name. Hard to watch in parts, so don’t take it lightly. But man, is it moving.
Ok, so that’s enough ranting from me. I love pop culture discourse, so if you have anything you want to contribute or debate, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Tune in next week for my favorite albums of the decade, and check out apple.com for all your holiday shopping needs. And scene.
Tuesday, December 30th, 2008
Hello readers! Well, well well. Here we are again in the waning days of another year. Everybody get a good haul last week? iPhones and iPods a-plenty, I presume. And lucky you if you landed one of the new Aluminum Unibody MacBooks or MacBook Pros. Well, let’s cut to the chase. Here’s my annual short-list of must-sees, must-listens, must-haves of 2008, by no means comprehensive. In no particular order:
Beck, Modern Guilt. It’s good to hear Beck reinvent himself again. Perhaps not as ground-shaking as Odelay, Mutations or Sea Change, but solid nonetheless.
Teddy Thompson, A Piece of What You Need. The son of folk royalty Richard and Linda Thompson proved his solo-artist caliber once again with this year’s brighter sounding pop/rock/alt-country disc. If you haven’t listened to him yet, do yourself a favor and get this album. And 2004’s Separate Ways.
Mike Crawford and His Secret Siblings, Songs from Jacob’s Well, Volumes I and II. Some of the more creative orchestral arrangements and sincere song writing I’ve heard in a long time. These guys left it in the studio.
2008 was a standard-setting year for comic book adaptations, no doubt. I’ll keep it brief. Incredible Hulk- awesome. Iron Man- AWESOME. The Dark Knight- OMG AWESOME LOL. Moving on.
I don’t think I read any new books in the last few months, so here’s some classics I dug into again, and suggest you do the same.
G.K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby.
Spalding Gray, Impossible Vacation.
So, if you haven’t read/seen/heard those items, you have a year to catch up. If any of you happen to be snowboarding at Monarch this weekend, be sure to stop and say hello. Heck, I’ll give you $50 off your next portable repair if you can find me. Have a Happy New Year, friends, and drive safe.
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