Best for the Best

January 29, 2010 at 4:51 am (Uncategorized)

Josh Ritter, The Animal Years

Once I knew a girl in the hard hard times
She made me a shirt out of fives and dimes
Now she’s gone but when I wear it she crosses my mind
And if the best is for the best then the best is unkind

I realized that Illinois was more than I could stand
They say working’s best cause poverty is hell on a man
Now I ride a lazy river through the Mississippi fan
And if the best is for the best then the best can be damned

I spent a few years on the Queen of Spain
She was a leaky little boat that went up in flames
When the boiler blew some people started naming names
But if the best is for the best
I guess the best is to blame

I spent a few more as the Cairo Crown
A heavyweight wrestler in the Midwest towns
But I was lonesome for a girl who could pin me down
They say the best is for the best but that’s not what I’ve found

Now I listen to my sweetheart and I listen to my thirst
I don’t spend time listening to other people’s words
Sometimes they’re right most times the reverse
They say the best is for the best when the best’s for the worse

Once I knew a girl in the hard hard times
She made me a shirt out of fives and dimes
Now she’s gone but when I wear it she crosses my mind
And if the best is for the best then the best is unkind

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Three Films to Describe Your Film Taste

January 28, 2010 at 2:14 am (Uncategorized)

Stolen from Justine over at House of Mirth and Movies (who stole it from someone else, heh).

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Anti-Western, gorgeous imagery, lengthy, literate, deeply troubled but empathetic characters, moody score

La Belle et La Bete

Fantasy, French, amazing production design, highly imaginative, moody, strong female character

The Double Life of Veronique

Atmospheric, mysterious, emotional, incredible music, striking imagery, puppetry, deals with the “sublime”

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Best Films of the Decade: 20-16

January 27, 2010 at 1:13 am (Uncategorized)

20. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-Wai)

This film has incredible rhythm, led by Shigeru Umebayashi’s elegant, repetitive score. It plays out much like a perfectly choreographed dance – the two lovers, constrained by their own delusions of nobility and morality, as well as society’s expectations of each other, circle each other endlessly, moving in, drawing back, never fully coming together. It’s a bit frustrating, but so is life; sometimes it’s not what happens that defines us, but what doesn’t, what is left unsaid, what longings are unexpressed, what love is unconsummated.

19. All the Real Girls (David Gordon Green)

In the same vein, All the Real Girls deals with a love that is broken, subverting expectations of how these narratives should play out. David Gordon Green treats his characters with tender empathy even as they self-sabotage, and the result is a film that feels warm and familiar, despite its confrontation of the hard truths that come with first love and experience. His vision of small town American life captures both its simple beauty and the frustration that comes with it, that feeling of being trapped.

18. The Best of Youth (Marco Tullio Giordana)

Often films containing so many characters and events can be distancing, never letting the viewer become intimately acquainted with any one moment or scene. The Best of Youth, however, uses its six hour runtime to great advantage, letting characters breathe and move throughout the loose narrative as they please. Certain scenes last interminably, like a New Year’s party, slowly, imperceptibly moving towards a game-changing climax. That isn’t to say, for its leisurely pace mostly resembling the ebb and flow of a great, sprawling novel, that the film is ever less than compelling. Its characters are so fully and warmly drawn, but left with enough ambiguity to draw you in, up until its stunning conclusion.

17. Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright)

I find it difficult to write about comedy; it’s hard to pin down the essence of something as creative, outrageous, and fast-paced as this. What I love about Edgar Wright’s particular brand of humor is that it combines so many different elements of comedy, from incredibly sharp dialogue, to gory slapstick, to subtle visual gags, but the whole affair is grounded by a deep affection for his characters and the genre being parodied. Hot Fuzz actually contains some of the best action of the decade, as well as a fairly compelling mystery underneath all the elaborately staged death scenes and hilarious performances. It never gets old for me, consistently revealing new layers in the dialogue and inventive editing. It’s endlessly rewarding.

16. No Country for Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen)

I find it incredibly difficult to write about this film, as well. Even after multiple views, I don’t feel like I have a complete grasp on its themes, perhaps because I’m resistant to seeing it as being as nihilistic as most readings are. Regardless, I find it fascinating, and it’s a thrilling cinematic experience, full of brilliantly constructed suspense. Much has been said about its immediately iconic villain, Anton Chigurh, but just as instrumental in the creation of a sublimely tense mood is Roger Deakins’ striking cinematography, and the sound design, which understands better than perhaps any other film the agony of silence.

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Best Films of the Decade: 24-20

January 6, 2010 at 8:56 pm (Uncategorized)

24. Antichrist (Lars Von Trier)

Full review here. Von Trier’s latest is a gorgeous, daring look at loss and mental illness, loaded with symbolic imagery and fierce performances.

23. Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro)

This rich fantasy boasts a stunning child performance from Ivana Baquero as Ofelia, composed and graceful even as the horrors stack up against her. Sergi Lopez makes one of the most terrifying villains of the decade, adding real danger and weight to the lush, dreamy atmosphere. It’s an expertly constructed fairytale, full of demons and monsters that sprout straight from Ofelia’s tortured imagination, and mirror her real-life struggle to survive and protect her family. Whether or not you believe in the fantasy, the finale is devastating.

22. Amelie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet)

Jeunet takes the feel-good movie and throws so many unique visual tricks and playful narrative digressions that it becomes something much richer and stranger than the tale of a shy girl hoping to find her own bliss by creating joy for others. Audrey Tautou is luminous, and Paris has never looked so warm and charming.

21. Quills (Philip Kaufman)

A bleak but darkly funny look at the last days of the Marquis de Sade, as he rails against censorship and sexual repression under Napoleon’s reign from the confines of his asylum cell. His perversions and delirious writings inspire lust and violence in all that come in contact with them, including the priest trying to convert him, a lecherous doctor, his fellow inmates, and the ripe, innocent laundry maid at the asylum. The results are tragic and thought-provoking. Geoffrey Rush is endlessly watchable even in his most deranged moments as the Marquis.

20. Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog)

Werner Herzog has made an entire career out of the clash between man’s ambition and the indifferent brutality of nature. In Grizzly Man, he turns his lens to Timothy Treadwell, a lost soul who found himself while living for years among bears in the Alaskan wilderness, before he and his girlfriend were devoured by them. Treadwell taped extensive footage of his experiences, and Herzog is wise enough to let them mostly speak for themselves. The closeness he experienced with animals is amazing to watch and much of his nature footage stunningly beautiful. Yet he is clearly deeply troubled, and this probing film goes deep into his psyche and those affected by his death. The question of what drove him to his violent end is largely unanswered, so the film lingers long after it ends.

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Movie Goals for 2010

January 2, 2010 at 7:35 pm (Uncategorized)

Stole this idea from the lovely Justine over at House of Mirth and Movies. 10 filmmakers I would like to explore in 2010:

Dario Argento (seen 1 film)

F.W. Murnau (seen 1 film)

Peter Greenaway (seen 0 films)

Derek Jarman (seen 0 films)

Catherine Breillat (1seen 1 film)

Jaromil Jires (seen 0 films)

Hiroshi Teshigahara (seen 0 films)

Claire Denis (seen 0 films)

Jean Renoir (seen 1 film)

Lucio Fulci (seen 0 films)

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