Wars and Windmills

23 January 2010

The Phantom Menace: A Review

My friend Scott told me about this. He has always been someone with a preternatural ability to hone in on all things stellar, and he has done it again.

I am posting this just in case there are people out there who haven't seen it. It is a stellar review deconstructing the many many issues that thwart what could have been the best film of my adult life. It certainly was the most anticipated. Can you imagine if that film was done right? I bet there wouldn't be a war in Iraq right now, my child wouldn't ever have had to worry about cancer, because it would be cured, and I wouldn't swear so much.

This guy, whomever he is, has put into words what many of us have felt for years; he found discrepancies that I never would have thought of, but are so true that once pointed out, I felt as though I had known them my whole life.

The presentation may strike some as odd, and isn't for those who find some swearing to be offensive. For me, I think he has done it like this for a reason, and swearing has never bothered me.








18 January 2010

Best of the Aughties: Films

So, apparently everyone is doing their obligatory “best of the decade” lists and, it seems that I am no exception.

Though the Aughts (also known as the 2000’s) were horrible in a lot of ways for the world, especially the U.S. (war, September 11th, massive recession and economic meltdown) there were also some great things and going through my list of films that came out from 2000 – 2009…it was strong decade. In fact, it is so strong that I couldn't bear to whittle down the list to a mere top 10, so I have done a top 35.

There is to be no doubt that some films will have been forgotten, I am no genius and my memory is less than acceptable, so forgive my ineptitude at list making. Also, for this list, only the top 10 are in any kind of order.

Let it begin:

1. Lord of the Rings Trilogy:
        Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings (Peter Jackson, 2001)
        Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Peter Jackson, 2002)
        Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Peter Jackson, 2003)
2. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)
3. The Royal Tenebaums (Wes Anderson, 2001)
4. Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola, 2003)
5. Donnie Darko (Richard Kelly, 2001)
6. The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006)
7. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)
8. No Country for Old Men (Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, 2007)
9. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (Seth Gordon, 2007)
10. Moon (Duncan Jones, 2009)
10. Avatar (James Cameron, 2009)

11. Inglorious Bastards (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
12. Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro, 2006)
13. Memento (Christopher Nolan, 2000)
15. The Wind that Shakes the Barley (Ken Loach, 2006)
16. Touching the Void (Kevin MacDonald, 2003)
17. Gladiator (Ridley Scott, 2000)
18. Man On Wire (James Marsh, 2008)
19. Oldboy (Chan-wook Park, 2003)
20. This Is England (Shane Meadows, 2007)

21. High Fidelity (Stephen Frears, 2000)
22. Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog, 2005)
23. Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 (Quentin Tarantino, 2003, 2004)
24. Once (John Carney, 2007)
25. Juno (Jason Reitman, 2007)
26. Amélie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001)
27. City of God (Fernando Meirelles, 2003)
28. The Bourne Identity (Paul Greengrass, 2002)
29. I Heart Huckabees (David O. Russell, 2004)
30. Hunger (Steve McQueen, 2008)

31. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006)
32. District 9 (Neill Blomkamp, 2009)
33. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (George Lucas, 2005)
34. American Psycho (Mary Harron, 2000)
35. Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, 2008)

Runners Up

Slumdog Millionaire (Danny Boyle, 2008)
Syriana (Stephen Gaghan, 2005)
28 Days Later... (Danny Boyle, 2002)
O Brother Where Art Thou? (Coen Brothers, 2000)
Brick (Rian Johnson, 2005)
Battle Royale (Kinji Fukasaku, 2000)
Unbreakable (M. Night Shyamalan, 2000)
In America (Jim Sheridan, 2004)
Almost Famous (Cameron Crowe, 2000)
The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow ,2009)
Star Trek (J.J. Abrams, 2009)
The Prestige (Christopher Nolan, 2006)
A History Of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)
Punch-Drunk Love (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2002)
The Squid and The Whale (Noah Baumbach , 2005)
Son of Rambow (Seth Gordon, 2007)

14 January 2010

Divulgence VI

J-Lo's Jenny from the Block has long been the song most likely to audibly violate my poor ears and then, as though nothing just happened, it sit down on my brain-couch and get cozy. It's not dissimilar to the facehugger from the movie Alien: it latches on, impregnates, lulls into thinking all is well, and then, out of no where, when you are in a social situation in which singing J-Lo would be considered awkward (are there times when it wouldn't be?), it explodes out of you to the shock and disgust of all.

However, another song has been produced that is, like the Alien from Alien: "the perfect organism. A killing machine whose physical excellence is matched only by it's hostility". The prefect mixture of catchy and annoying: Beyonce's Put A Ring On It. WHY can't songs I enjoy ever get stuck in my head? I am Ripley. I am ever dogged by the same demon, torment on repeat. Even if I were to traverse the expanses of time and space, by some preternatural ability some poorly written over produced drivel will find my ear, face-hug it, and...well, you know.

I tell you that, so I could tell you this:

Recently, a face-hugger from my past has reemerged. Like the Alien from Alien³, it has a similar form but a few different features. This song tried to romance my brain before it embed itself by being a song that, embarrassing, I used to enjoy listening to; hence the divulgence. In 1992 Ugly Kid Joe wrote a song that encapsulated all that I now think is wrong with music: Everything About You.. It is contrived, meant to capitalize on the popular "alternative rock" craze of the 90's; and it is so obnoxious that of course it appealed to the Beevis and Butt-head loving, every bit as annoying Darren of the early 90's.

In earnest, U.K.J. wasn't as bad as the J-Lo or Beyonce experience. It was annoying, but it's romancing worked, and for a while now I have been in a continual state of nostalgia for the songs I enjoyed in the 90's. So I have started a playlist, and have been whistling a hunting song as I look for both the good and the bad. I will share what I have so far with hopes that anyone still reading this will have further ideas, and I am not pulling any proverbial punches, this is a divulgence and I admit to liking all these songs. For the sake of space, I have tried to keep these to the years I was in high school: 1992-96.

(also, if a band has multiple tracks, I didn't put them all, but there are some with multiple listings)

(also, don't mention Jessie by Joshua Kadison...that song is so bad that even 90's Darren didn't like it).

Man in the Box -- Alice in Chains (1991)
Down in a Hole -- Alice in Chains (1992)
Rooster -- Alice in chains (1993)
Good -- Better Than Ezra (1995)
Bittersweet -- Big Head Todd & the Monsters (1993)
Poor Miss -- Big Head Todd & the Monsters (1994)
No Rain -- Blind Melon (1992)
Run-Around -- Blues Traveler (1994)
Hook -- Blues Traveler (1994)
(Everthing I Do) I Do It For You -- Brian Adams (1991)
Glycerine -- Bush (1995)
Stickshifts and Safety Belts -- CAKE (1996)
Friend is a Four Letter Word -- CAKE (1996)
Satellite -- Dave Matthews Band (1994)
Ants Marching -- Dave Matthews Band (1994)
Crash Into Me-- Dave Matthews Band (1996)
Lie in Our Graves (1996)
Personal Jesus -- Depeche Mode (1990)
One Caress -- Depeche Mode (1993)
I'll Be -- Edwin McCain (1998)
Tears in Heaven -- Eric Clapton (1992)
More Than Words -- Extreme (1990)
Name -- Goo Goo Dolls (1995)
Iris -- Goo Goo Dolls (1998)
Black Balloon -- Goo Goo Dolls (1998)
Basket Case -- Green Day (1994)
Time -- Hootie & the Blowfish (1995)
Hold My Hand -- Hootie & the Blowfish (1995)
Let Her Cry -- Hootie & the Blowfish (1995)
Out to Get You -- James (1993)
Say Something -- James (1993)
Laid -- James (1993)
Lullaby -- James(1993)
Flood -- Jars of Clay (1995)
I Alone -- Live (1994)
Lightning Crashes -- Live (1994)
All Over You -- Live (1994)
Sick Of Myself -- Matthew Sweet (1995)
The Beautiful People -- Marylin Manson(1996)
Enter Sandman -- Metallica (1991)
Sad But True -- Metallica (1991)
Hurt -- Nine Inch Nails (1994)
Smells Like Teen Spirit -- Nirvana (1991)
In Bloom -- Nirvana (1991)
Come As You Are -- Nirvana (1991)
Wonderwall -- Oasis
Self Esteem -- The Offspring (1994)
Once -- Pearl Jam (1991)
Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town -- Pearl Jam (1993)
Yellow Ledbetter -- Pearl Jam (1991)
I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)-- The Proclaimers (heard 1994)
Creep -- Radiohead --(1993)
Under the Bridge -- Red Hot Chili Peppers (1991)
Did You Ever Look So Nice -- The Samples (1992)
Little Silver Ring -- The Samples (1993)
Who Am I? -- The Samples (1994)
Runaway Train -- Soul Asylum
Blackhole Sun -- Soundgarden (1994)
Two Princes -- Spin Doctors (1991)
Hell -- Squirrel Nut Zippers (1996)
Fields of Gold -- Sting (1993)
Dead and Bloated -- Stone Temple Pilots (1992)
Interstate Love Song -- Stone Temple Pilots (1994)
I Palindrome I -- They Might Be Giants (1992)
Mammal -- They Might Be Giants (1992)
Spider -- They Might Be Giants (1992)
Good Intentions -- Toad The Wet Sprocket
Possum Kingdom -- Toadies(1994)
Tyler -- Toadies (1994)
Sober -- TooL (1994)
One -- U2(1991)
Can't Help Falling In Love -- UB40 (1993)
Everything About You -- Ugly Kid Joe (1992)
Blister in the Sun -- Violent Femmes (1993)
My Name is Jonas -- Weezer (1994)
Only In Dreams -- Weezer (1994)
El Sorcho -- Weezer (1996)
More Human Than Human -- White Zombie (1995)

Notable omissions due to disliking/hating: Smashing Pumpkins and Counting Crows...hated them both. Also, present tense, hate.

So, what'd I miss?