Saturday, January 16, 2010

Monday, December 28, 2009

Films of the Decade


Me love movies. Here's my list for my favorite films of the decade:

10. X2

BEST POPCORN FILM OF THE DECADE. It was the first film, I believe (sorry Dark Knight) that elevated the comic book genre. Bryan Singer should've directed X3 who knows how great that might have been...

9. Talk To Her

Talk to Her was the first Pedro Almodovar film that I ever saw and is probably my favorite film in his long and fruitful directing career. I'm still stunned by this film. its unique. engaging. witty. deeply profound.

8. Wet Hot American Summer

The funniest movie of the decade and probably one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. Paul Rudd in this film solidified himself as a comedic genius. It was also great to see everyone in The State (or at least a majority of them) working together again.

7. Old Boy

I consider Old Boy to be one of those "game changer" type films and a film that made me go "OMG" a couple of times. Totally startling and completely riveting, Old Boy takes the revenge film to another level. Woo-jin played by Yoo Ji-tae might be the best villian since Bill the Butcher (Gangs of New York).

6. The Lives of Others

BEST MOVIE ENDING OF THE DECADE. Infinite punches to the stomach. Don't watch the clip if you havent seen the film.

5. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days just takes a hold of you and never lets go. The last 20 minutes of the film are breathless and it deals with the subject of abortion and theme of friendship with such honesty. The film also features some extended takes (notably a scene during a dinner party) that are just amazing.

4. Adaptation

You can argue that Charlie Kaufman was the auteur of the decade what with his scripts for Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and his directorial debut Synedoche, New York. Adaptation is my favorite Kaufman script and for me, a total inspiration. Spike Jonze should only direct Kaufman scripts. The film features wonderful performances from Meryl Streep and Nic Cage but its Chris Cooper who shines.

3. In The Mood For Love

This is the film that Lost in Translation wanted to be. In the Mood for Love has it all: Gorgeous cinemtography from Christopher Doyle. Impeccable direction from the great Wong Kar-wai. and two luminious performances from Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung who say so much without saying anything at all.

2. There Will Be Blood

Three words: DANIEL DAY LEWIS. DDL as Daniel Plainview is arguably the finest acting performance of the decade. I have always been a fan of Paul Thomas Anderson and consider him to be one of the best directors of his generation. There was always criticism on PTA as being too flashy of a director (the glitz of Boogie Nights/all those frogs in Magnolia) but There Will Be Blood proved that he was truly a first class filmmaker. The cinematography is great. The production design is superb and oh yeah that score by Johnny Greenwood aint that bad.

1. Zodiac

Remember when I said that I happen to love movies that involved characters who were completely obsessed with something in their lives (i.e their jobs)? Well Zodiac is the Mt. Everest of those kind of films. Featuring a great script (besides being a great film dealing with obsession it is a gripping crime drama) from Andrew Kevin Walker, great performances from Robert Downey Jr, Jake Gyllenhall and Mark Ruffalo and just a tremendous directing effort from David Fincher, Zodiac in my opinion, is the best film of the decade.

Honorable Mention:


Youth. Literature. Friendship. The honesty conveyed throughout Reprise really hit me. If you haven't seen this film I definitely recommend it.

Albums of the Decade

My list:

10. The Avalanches – Since I Left You (Modular/Interscope)

An imaginative record. The myriad of samples and the creativity of how they were used. A perfect dance record.

9. Interpol – Turn on the Bright Lights (Matador)

"You've supported me for a long time/ Somehow I'm not impressed." This is post punk that I can support.

8. The Strokes – Is This It (RCA)

The quiessential rock record of the decade.

7. Outkast – Stankonia (La Face)

A record that contains so many jams its ridiculous. Its totally weird and its 100% Futuristic Hot Shit. Out of all the groups on this list that need to have a return to glory, Outkast is tops.

6. Radiohead – Kid A (Capital)

Being a fan of The Bends and Ok Computer, I was originally taken a back by Kid A. The immediacy of those earlier records were replaced by dense electronic songs that felt so cold and distant. I'm a firm believer of this record now and I feel its a benchmark to how far you can push rock music. When you think about it, it makes sense how Radiohead in Kid A captured the emotions felt during this decade.

5. Sigur Ros - Ágætis Byrjun (Smekkleysa)

I remember being 16 years old and listening to this record for the first time in my room. It was like a sucker punch to the gut. Who knew a madeup language could register such emotion. It helps that the music is so damn pretty.

4. Daft Punk - Discovery (Virgin)

There's not a lot that you can say about this record that hasn't been said already. All I can say that its a record that illicits so much joy.

3. Sufjan Stevens – Illinoise (Asthmatic Kitty)

When I think of the word sprawling, I think of Illinoise almost instantly. This record can be a bit hit or miss but its such an ambitious record that you must give it, its due.

2. Panda Bear – Person Pitch (Paw Tracks)

Our generation's Pet Sounds. I'm totally serious. This record is layers upon layers of inspiration. And its such a simple record too what with its repeated loops and straight forward lyrics.

1. Arcade Fire – Funeral (Merge)

A record that illicits such a wave of emotions. A record that felt so personal yet was enjoyed (immensely) communally.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Best of 2009 (Part 2: Film)

Note: I still haven't seen A Single Man, Nine, Bright Star, Crazy Heart, An Education, Broken Embraces and The White Ribbon. I imagine maybe one or two one of those films would've made this list. With that said...

1. A Serious Man

Its usually hit or miss for me in regards to the films made by The Coen Brothers. This however is an exception. This may be my favorite Coen Brothers film. With a superb cast and an ending that is totally uncomprising, A Serious Man is my favorite film of the year.

2. Inglorious Basterds

Quentin Tarantino's best film since Pulp Fiction and quite possibly the best script he's ever written. I remember two years ago I was walking back to my car from an prior job in the valley and saw Tarantino work on something at some English pub. He had a dozen books on the table as he was writing something down. He may have been working on Inglorious Basterds, who knows. Anyways job well done QT. Oh yeah: Christoph Waltz had better win a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

3. 500 Days of Summer

Out of all the films I've seen in 2009, 500 Days of Summer is the film that I had to argue the most about. So what if the film had way too many gimmicks or that it was pandering to some sort of "hipser audience," 500 Days of Summer spoke to me in a way that no other film did in 2009. NUFF SAID. HOLLER.

4. The Hurt Locker

I tend to like films that have characters who are completely obsessed with a certain thing (i.e. their job). Even though the film veers in a completely different direction in its third act, the Hurt Locker is tense as heck and features two breakthrough performances, one from Jeremy Renner and the other from the always great Anthony Mackie (dude needs to be in some major staring roles ASAP). The film is directed with such expertise by Kathyrn Bigelow and probably has the best movie ending of 2009.

5. Up In The Air

Probably my favorite Cloon Dog performance. This film really surprised me. I wasn't expecting a lot but it really hit me emotionally. Sure it was topical and it was a "NOW" type film but the theme that struck me the most was the whole "sure you're successful but are you really even though you dont have someone in your life." yeah im a total softie.

6. Up

If you didnt cry at least once during Up then frankly you dont like movies.

7. Star Trek

J.J. Abrams has never failed in my eyes. Star Trek is no exception. My favorite popcorn film of 2009.

8. Anvil! The Story of Anvil

My favorite documentary of the year.

9. Avatar

If you know me then you know that i'm a big fan of James Cameron. While this film isn't as great as Aliens or Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Avatar is still a worthwhile cinematic experience based solely on its visuals (motion capture) which I believe are a landmark achievement in cinema. The king of the world is officially back. Now I hope he'll make True Lies 2.

10. Fantastic Mr. Fox

I'm usually up in arms with the film aesthetic of Wes Anderson. Sometimes it works to perfection (Rushmore) other times it becomes this bloated style over substance exercise (A Life Aquatic). Fantastic Mr. Fox is a return to glory for Anderson.

Honorable Mention:

Charlotte Gainsbourg in Antichrist

Charlotte Gainsbourg's performance in Antichrist is completely fearless that it deserves a mention on this list. I still have that image of genital mutiliation in my head. OUCH.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Best of 2009 (Part 1: Music)

Music (albums, songs, concerts):

1. Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavillion.

My album of the year. I think I had to listen to "My Girls" on a constant loop when I first heard it.

2. Grizzly Bear: Veckatimest

My second favorite album of this year. I still don't know how to pronounce the title though.

3. Phoenix: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

I've always like Phoenix but I had no idea that they would be as BIG as they are now. God bless the French.

3. Girls: Album

Pizza and a bottle of wine. Nuff said.

4. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart: The Pains of Being Pure At Heart

I get a lot of shit for liking this band but listening to them makes me want to fly a kite with my imaginary girlfriend on the beach or chase after my cat (if i owned one) in the living room. And if that's wrong well then I dont know whats right. P.s. Peggy I <3 you.

5. Cass McCombs: Catacombs

Beautiful record. Also this record has produced three of my favorite videos of the year. Our generation will probably use You Saved My Life as the new song to play during their wedding.

6. The Jesus Lizard reunion.

Best reunion show I've ever seen. The show smelled like weed and male body odor. It was uh-may-zing.

7. My Bloody Valentine at Coachella.

Second best reunion show I've ever seen. Next time I ask you "can you repeat that but say it much louder," know that I asked you that because my ears essploded during this massive MBV set.

8. The Dream - Rockin That Shit

The Dream is a genius. Plain and simple. This song will change your life.

9. Lady Gaga - Paparazzi

Lady Gaga is probably our country's best musical entertainer since Elvis Presley. Ok maybe not but this video is pretty great with a song that has a chorus that will never get out of your head. This time its a good thing.

10. Taylor Swift - You Belong With Me

Kanye West is still right about Taylor Swift BUT this song is pretty damn good.

Honorable Mention:

Interviewing Zach Condon (Beirut) and talking about hair and the finer points of washing it on tour.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sunday Evening Ramblers

I wish i had a pizza, a bottle of wine and a girlfriend

Monday, September 28, 2009

Au Revoir Simone "Shadows"

such immaculate haircuts.