Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Listicles: Vision Edition

Tiombe Lockhart - “Can’t Get Enough
She my BEY, IMHO.

Todd TerjeLeisure Suit Preben
Scandinavian Tim & Eric.

Mr. Oizo “HAM
Or, just go for made-in-America Eric.

Jenny Lewis “Just One of the Guys
The entire album is good, if you’re into that ‘70s AOR/Fleetwood Mac/’70s coke vibe. I’ll direct you to The Toast for the specific explanation of this video.

Basement Jaxx “Never Say Never
Well, they said 2014 was the year of ass.

Neko Case and Kelly Hogan “These Aren’t The Droids
Or, maybe it’s still 2013. 

Ta-Nehisi Coates @ The City Club of Cleveland, 8/22/14
“Love is not telling people what they want to hear… a mature love... (of country) has to have as its component seeing people straight.” (it appears the whole talk has been replaced with this 2-minute clip on YouTube)

Film/TV from this year that I saw and would watch again
and Stardust Memories were favorites when I was in high school, so I haven’t paid meta commentaries too much mind of late. And a meta commentary from the actor’s -- pardon me, celebrity’s -- perspective? This film should have been one big red flag, but turned out to be the one film in recent memory that I have watched repeatedly and gotten more from with each viewing. Smart acting and filmmaking, great style and structure and an entertaining story. And there’s still a Hollywood ending! What’s not to like?

I appreciate the more focused approach to biopics than the reductive, comprehensive approach. Selma wasn’t as essential as I thought it would be, but provides a fairly helpful greatest hits overview of a seminal moment in the Civil Rights Movement and American history. There are more accurate media depictions of these events, namely PBS’s essential Eyes on the Prize, but trawling through YouTube for past PBS content is not everyone’s MO, so little hands for Selma’s efforts in reinforcing the importance of protest, strategic activism, political legislation, legal legwork, and media spectacle. My quibbles are more stylistic. Mainly that a film that purports to uphold the importance of the people and mass movements, it relies heavily on Hollywood conventions like the close-up and history through the actions of specific individuals. Also, considering the importance of public media in this event, it was unfortunate that actual footage was scarcely incorporated (the spattering of footage at the close of the film only highlighted the fact that this was Hollywood dressing the part of the Civil Rights Movement). For example, the reenactment of the first attempt to cross the Pettus Bridge was heart-wrenching, but would have been devastating if paired or substituted completely with the actual footage. Frankly, slow-mo and dramatic framing has nothing on raw, actual footage. Yes, these are pretty petty comments, but also are the sorts of details that separate a good film from an essential one.

Under the Skin
I am not a Scarlett Johansson fan, but g-d if she hasn’t had a solid run of recent films/roles. Her voice and presence was suitably all-encompassing in Her. Her Black Widow in Winter Soldier finally came into her own. Her character in Lucy was entertaining. And her portrayal of the main character in Under the Skin was a genuine delight. On the surface, the film is like good Species. In truth, it’s a fascinating portrayal of learning and our insecurities and fears. And Mica Levi’s soundtrack is The Shining level good.

Silicon Valley
Office Space jokes needed an update. Thank goodness for the scrum cracks. 

Broad City
King of the world” remains hilarious.

Nathan For You
Has any show both externally refracted and interally pushed media culture in such a literal way? Maybe Nathan Fielder should have taken over the Colbert Report?

Andy Daly’s got range, spanning from the cheerful cuckold Terrence Cutler to the dozen or so psychotic characters he brings to life on the Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast. Perhaps the throughline between all his characters is a put-upon/on-the-edge quality that is both empathetically familiar and grotesquely abhorrent. The skit-like structure of Review plays to the strengths of his scattershot imagination as he gets to push his character in new ways through different challenges/tasks/reviews. However, each review subtly builds on the prior, so the progression from pancakes to space makes complete sense. Never has watching a man methodically dismantle his life in the name of sharing an opinion been more delightful.

Top Five’s jail scene
The filmis a bit scattershot, but Rock lands a handful of solid shots. The centerpiece of the trailer is hardly the centerpiece of the film. The bachelor party scene easily trumps that scene, mostly because of Rock’s clear comfort with his actual homies (though Goldberg’s presence was a bit surprising, considering she’s from another comic generation). The Uprize scenes are a welcome reminder of The Chris Rock Show’s finer moments. But the real centerpiece is a near throwaway line for the true hip-hop head slash historic comic cinemaphile (and, in case there is any doubt, yes, X deserves a place in Top Five conversations). 

Film/TV I caught up on or revisited. And liked (again).
Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
Ellen Burstyn in A Woman Under the Influence. Except those two films came out the same year. Word…? 

Can’t go wrong with Cronenberg.

Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench 
Whiplash is getting a lot of press, but I’m into Chazelle’s precocious debut. Almost makes me want to be twentysomething again. Almost. 

Stations of the Elevated
Along with Black Power Mixtape, I suppose Euro takes on Black America could occupy their own sub-genre of filmmaking. Nevertheless, this film focuses more on the aesthetics of graffiti. The results are priceless. A necessary time capsule.

Pacific Rim
Fun rock-em-sock-em.

Jesus, what an extravagant budget.

Crimson Kimono
Along with The Exiles, this Fuller gem contains a necessary look at mid-century Los Angeles. Cross-cultural conflicts in an under-appreciated architectural wonder (Downtown).

Worth watching for Tom Hardy’s acting. Really. Like, watching emotions shift like shadows being cast across a face and all that type of shit.

Not the one with the put-upon, chubby guy dealing with his out-of-control neighbors, but the other one with the put-upon, chubby guy dealing with his out-of-control neighbors. I can see why this film did not make the pantheon Blues Brothers-Animal House pantheon, but it’s arguably more fascinating to watch than either.

Diary of a Chambermaid
I thought I had seen the original before. Kinda worth it for Meredith Burgess, but I’ll stick with Jeanne Moreau. 

Damn, Fassbender goes all in.

“There was no question whether I was a part of the black community… I got pulled over by cops when I was walking… All black people are part of the black community. You don’t have to do anything -- you’re black. So. That was comforting (laughs).” ~ Santi “Steve” Holley, Ann Arbor, MI

Films I saw that are a reminder I need to stop watching shit for conversation's sake 
The Wolf of Wall Street
Not as bad as thought it would be, but just plain, fucking boring. And unnecessary. And a solid reminder that I don’t need to watch Scorcese films anymore.

Magic Mike
Also boring. And unnecessary.

Lone Survivor, End of Watch, etc.
The hyperfocus on realism through style does a disturbing job of obscuring narrative leaps and poor ethics. The narrative changes to Luttrell’s account were unnecessary and ridiculous. And End of Watch really has nothing to say besides that cops can be bros. What a disservice.

Captain Phillips

Wreck-it Ralph
For billing itself as a video game nostalgia flick, it spends a lot of time dwelling on candy nostalgia.

Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer
I’ll take the knock on this one because its shittiness was hardly a surprise. A case where curiosity shouldn’t be indulged.

Not as weird as I thought it would be.

The Counselor
Oh yeah, I also don’t need to watch Ridley Scott films anymore.

Transformers & The Hobbit series
Not even worth it for conversation’s sake. Because there’s no conversation to be had.

Really, go fuck yourself.

Films I’ll have to catch up onBoyhood
Goodbye to Language
The Babadook
Kindergarten Teacher
Concerning Violence

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