Thursday, February 26, 2009

Coming Soon

Sorry for the slow-motion birth pangs here. We're still soliciting essays and contributors, but here's a taste of what's coming your way in the near future:

"Assessing the Van Dammage: The Life and Career of JCVD"

"The State of the Superhero Movie" - Competing essays 

"Watching 'The Watchmen'" - Point/Counter-point

"The Inevitable and Unstoppable Decline of '30 Rock' (or not)" - Roundtable discussion 

"The Unbearable Heaviness of the Bio-Pic"

"Coraline" review

"Taken" review

"Norm McDonald: Guest Star"

Additional contributors top 10 film and music lists

And much, much more...

Monday, February 23, 2009

My Year in Film - 2008 (Volume One, Issue One)

TOP 10:
1) JCVD (Mabrouk El Mechri)
2) Che (Steven Soderbergh)
3) Let The Right One In (Tomas Alfredson)
4) Speed Racer (Andy Wachowski; Larry Wachowski)
5) Wendy and Lucy (Kelly Reichardt)
6) My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin)
7) Slumdog Millionaire (Danny Boyle; Loveleen Tandan)
8) Hellboy II: The Golden Army (Guillermo del Toro)
9) WALL-E (Andrew Stanton) 
10) Une Catastrophe (Jean-Luc Godard)

Where I Would Have Placed Still Life (Jia Zhang-ke) Had I Not Seen It In 2007: Top 3

HONORABLE MENTIONS (in alphabetical order)
Iron Man (Jon Favreau)
Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D (Eric Brevig)
Man on Wire (James Marsh)
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (Rob Cohen)
Paranoid Park (Gus Van Sant)
Rambo (Sylvester Stallone)
Shine A Light (Martin Scorsese)
Vicky Christina Barcelona (Woody Allen)
W. (Oliver Stone)
You Don't Mess with the Zohan (Dennis Dugan)

The Flight of the Red Balloon (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
Gomorrah (Matteo Garrone)
Happy-Go-Lucky (Mike Leigh)
Milk (Gus Van Sant)
Rachel Getting Married (Jonathan Demme)
Sparrow (Johnnie To)

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (David Fincher)
The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan)
Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman)
The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky)

1) Jean-Claude Van Damme (JCVD)
2) Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino)
3) Benicio Del Toro (Che)
4) Josh Brolin (W.)
5) Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)

1) Michelle Williams (Wendy and Lucy)
2) Penelope Cruz (Vicky Christina Barcelona)
3) Samantha Morton (Synecdoche, New York)
4) Lina Leandersson (Let the Right One In)
5) Ann Savage (My Winnipeg)

Quantum of Solace (Marc Forester)

Pineapple Express (David Gordon Green)

The Happening (M. Night Shyamalan)

1) Pineapple Express
2) W.

1) Hellboy II: The Golden Army
2) Speed Racer
3) Beverly Hills Chihuahua (Raja Gosnell)

1) Los Angeles Plays Itself (Thom Andersen; 2003)
2) The Last Movie (Dennis Hopper; 1971)
3) Make Way for Tomorrow (Leo McCarey; 1937)

My Year in Music - 2008 (Volume One, Issue One)

Here we go:

1) David Byrne and Brian Eno - Everything That Happens Will Happen Today: Evidence that the simple pleasures of pop music are rarely simple.
2) Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks - Real Emotional Trash: The first of Malkmus' solo albums where the music approaches the sprawling density of the words; all the while his guitar wizardry nudges away its quotation marks. His best solo album yet and one of his best solo albums period.
3) Oasis - Dig Out Your Soul: The Brothers Gallagher abandon the pub-rock anthems in favor of ferocity ("The Turning") and thoughtfulness ("Falling Down"). Not that there's anything wrong with pub-rock anthems. The year's best Side One, regardless. 
4) The Fall - Imperial Wax Solvent: The Fall's best album of the last however-long  slipped under my radar for most of the year, which is truly unfortunate. It's exactly like the last Fall masterpiece, only different. ("The Fall: always different, always the same." - John Peel)
5) Pavement - Brighten the Corners (Reissue): Pavement's worst album has somehow aged the best. This is a blueprint for late-90s classic-rock that only makes sense as it now approaches classic-rock age. Also, "Stereo."
6) Kanye West - 808s and Heartbreak: Imperfect, moving, often ingenious. For every petulant pout there's a glimpse of a real artist taking chances.
7) The Last Shadow Puppets - The Age of the Understatement: Grown-up laments, teenage poignancy, grandfatherly arrangements. The rare example of restraint and bombast not only coexisting, but reinforcing one another. 
8) Magnetic Fields - Distortion: What could have been a gimmick (the titular sonic affectation) becomes instead a focusing principle of an often too-disparate writer. A sonically-mature album that not only contains some of Stephin Merritt's best bon mots, but often has them in the same verse ("Too Drunk To Dream").
9) Portishead - Third: Spectral, light on its feet, but strangely weighty. The melodies constantly surprise and the production seems to retreat just at the moment of clarity.
10) Guns N' Roses - Chinese Democracy: A properly ludicrous album for which 17 years were spent on the Sisyphean task of getting each song exactly RIGHT regardless of cost, cultural relevancy, ruined personal relationships or questionable aesthetic taste. A cornrowed android's dream of electric symphonies.

HONORABLE MENTIONS (in alphabetical order)
Beck - Modern Guilt: Lyrically uninteresting, as per Beck, but blessed with ghostly arrangements and bottomless production. Reminiscent of Revolver with stronger dynamics and softer melodies.
Deerhunter - Microcastle: Spooky, pleasant, occasionally engaging. 
Dizzee Rascal - Maths + English: Dizzee's skills refuse to fail him even as he drifts toward the mainstream. There are too many sublime moments to feel cheated.
Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes: The best overrated album of the year! Astounding EP, as well.
Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III: God bless that crazy man. I can certainly admire his unwillingness to make an Important Album, while still kind of wishing he had.
Monkey - Journey to the West: Wildly uneven at best, but it has ambition to burn and enough triumphs to justify the effort for both listener and artist (even if it's not as worldly as it thinks that it is). Contains a truly astonishing opening track.
No Age - Nouns: Joyous, raucous and coy in all the right ways. For all the American indie-rock connotations this record brings, it reminds me most of a higher-energy Jesus & Mary Chain.
TV on the Radio - Dear Science,: I like it. I don't get it. there are standout moments but little lingers.

Where In Rainbows would have been had I included it in this list since its physical release date was January 1st, 2008, thus qualifying it for various other awards: Top 3

Snoop Dogg - "Sensual Seduction" (Edited)

Kanye West - "Love Lockdown"

Most Ludicrously Overrated, Give-Yourself-A-Brain-Tumor-Thinking-About-It, Album of the Year:
Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend

Coldplay - Viva La Vida, or Death and All His Friends

Thanks very much for reading and feel free to leave your comments below.