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Movies of 2012 [FB]
Jan 3rd, 2013 by Dan

cinema

(Photo by jimmymac333)

Man do I love me some movies, guys. The following listing of my favorites is not limited to movies that were released in 2012, but rather what I saw in 2012 that I most want to talk about.

Prometheus – I’ve never seen a movie from the Alien franchise, but something about the trailers and the Fassbender hype made me want to catch this one in the theaters. After failing to get most people interested, Ian and I caught this flick. Look, guys, it’s not the greatest movie out there, but Fassbender is amazing, the movie is stunning, and that emergency “caesarian”? Absolutely terrifying and awesome to watch. I want to make everyone watch that hyper tense scene.

The Cabin in the Woods – Kind of related to the previous movie, but I don’t really watch horror/monster movies. They’re not my thing. The buzz on Cabin was so great that I had to face my fears and step in. What I got was a brilliant subversion of the horror genre with Whedon’s fingerprints all over it. It’s not really that scary and I honestly believe that everyone should suck it up and check this flick out. You’ll never look at a horror movie the same way.

Young Adult – The first of these flicks to have actually come out in 2011, Diablo Cody’s look at a thoroughly unpleasant woman seeking to reclaim her glory days is relentless in its brutal look at the awful person that Charlize Theron plays. The absolute kicker is in the scene where Patton Oswalt’s character’s sister effectively destroys the character progress Theron has made. Watching everything shift into place on her face was probably the best acted moment I saw this year.

The Descendants – Or the movie that convinced me that George Clooney was brilliant and that Shailene Woodley had real acting chops. It’s a beautiful family movie with an almost tacked on real estate sideplot that doesn’t quite tie in like I think they wanted it to, but it’s full of great performances and it’s definitely worth seeing.

Higher Ground – I’ve been enamored with Vera Farmiga ever since I saw her in Up in the Air, so I had to check this movie out. It’s about a woman constantly searching for meaning, but frustratingly never able to find it. She plays the part with a lot of emotion and subtlety and I just adored every minute of the performance.

Martha Marcy May Marlene – Fits in thematically with the previously mentioned movie since it’s also about a girl so lost that she ends up involved in a cult (to be fair, Higher Ground is about a fundamentalist Christian sect). Elizabeth Olsen plays the confused, frightened escapee with great skill as her brain struggles to reconcile what is real with what was brainwashed into her head. Of course you also get to contrast the horrible, but peaceful cult with the materialistic and unfulfilling real world that alienated Olsen in the first place. The film is most notable to me with how it closes. Is Olsen in her right mind and is the cult actually about to exact vengeance or not?

Wanderlust – The first truly slight movie on this list, Wanderlust has David Wain’s quasi-troop at their funniest. It’s not gonna win any Oscars, but Wanderlust is a happy, fun movie filled with funny people. I mean, any movie that makes me like Jennifer Aniston has got to be worth mentioning.

The Five-Year Engagement – Sure, it’s just shy of a standard rom-com, but this flick is getting special mention for the fine work of Alison Brie and Chris Pratt. Those two are amazing.

Goon – A hockey epic for the modern day. I have almost zero complaints about this movie. It tugs on all the heartstrings with a story as far from cloying as possible. It’ll make you laugh, wince, and maybe cry, but you’ll love it.

21 Jump Street – Who knew that Channing Tatum was secretly hilarious? It’s probably getting a little too much credit, but this is a genuinely funny movie that I expected to be completely idiotic and forgettable.

Jeff, Who Lives at Home – My first Duplass Brothers film. I guess they call this kind of indie film mumblecore, but that’s kind of reductive. It’s a sweet story about brothers, which is the kind of thing I’m a sucker for.

The Avengers – The biggest movie of the year! Do I even have to talk about it? I want to give props to Mark Ruffalo for being brilliant as Bruce Banner and, hey, while we’re at it, I thought ScarJo did a fine job too (so did everyone else).

Argo – A strong competitor for my favorite flick of the year. Who doesn’t love a heist flick? Especially one that’s actually based on real events. 70s facial hair, great, tense performances, and international spy intrigue. It goes to show that you don’t need James Bond flair to make a good, exciting espionage movie. Plus “Argo fuck yourself” is a great line.

Lincoln – Another heist flick, but this one is about getting votes for the 13th amendment. Everyone you could possibly think of is in this flick, but I think its fatal flaw is the whole biopic aspect of it. Lincoln was an incredible man, I don’t doubt that, but in this movie he’s never wrong, always gets the last word in, and is generally a god among men. Worth seeing.

Holy Motors – Gets the WTF? Award this year. Truly bizarre in a way that only French cinema dares. It’s not my cup of tea, but it’s also brilliant. The accordion segment was pretty sweet too

Pitch Perfect – I love movies about music or singing. I don’t care that this is the most stereotypical, formulaic plotting out there. Obviously there’s gonna be discord, one girl is devoted to the old way while the new girl has a revolutionary way to look at things and, guess what, she’s right! Look, who cares about that? Rebel Wilson is hilarious and Anna Kendrick is super charming. Don’t fight it, just enjoy.

Django Unchained – I’m not above stating that this is the most important movie of the year. I’ve heard that some of the events depicted in it are exaggerations of the horrors of slavery. I don’t know if that’s true because I didn’t live in the 1800s, but I think that this movie is properly intense and strikes the right balance between over-the-top violence and the real gravity of the situation. Cristoph Waltz, Jamie Foxx, and Samuel L. Jackson all deserve recognition for their amazing performances. If you’re only gonna see one movie on this list, make it this one.

What I’ve Been Doing 8 Aug 2011 [FB/IB/BT/GO]
Aug 6th, 2011 by Dan

The new Spider-Man is Miles Morales, a previously unseen character motivated to do good by Peter's sacrifice...or so Marvel says. I've yet to read a story issue with him in it.

Movies

Horrible Bosses – Part of me thought it was hilarious and part of me thought it was passable. There were some really strange story beats in this no doubt because this wasn’t the dark comedy it was advertised to be. I dunno what the proper word for it would be…dim comedy? Without implying that the comedy was stupid, I mean to say that Jennifer Aniston’s part in the story was treated completely differently than the two male bosses and was resolved in a way that felt tacked on. Decent movie, just not the funniest thing I saw this summer (:cough: Bridesmaids :cough:)

TV

Weeds – Having Heylia return to the show last week just reminds me how well-served this show is by its travels and changes. Being able to call back to the first couple of seasons and get a great emotional response is not easy. The story is moving in an interesting direction, but I’ve yet to see it thematically gel yet. I wonder if that has to do with Jacob Clifton’s fantastic summaries on TWoP being canceled? Great season so far.

Frisky Dingo – This is one of those 11-minute Cartoon Network comedies that Adult Swim specializes in. Had some genuine laugh out loud moments and some stupid stuff too. I think I like Archer a lot more (not CN).

Retro Game Master – I totally forgot to mention that I’ve been watching this. Kotaku bought licensing rights to bring RGM to the states and I’ve been enjoying watching the Kacho, Shinya Arino, try to conquer all kinds of classic games. Some episodes are better than others, but they’re usually pretty funny/interesting.

Books

One of Our Thursdays Is Missing – The central conceit of this book, that the real Thursday Next is missing, ends up being somewhat detrimental. I’m still legitimately enjoying the book, but I find that following the “fictional” Thursday around is less interesting than the “real” Thursday. Still got about a hundred pages left and I’m loving the book.

Slaughterhouse Five – Finished up the reread. Poignant and interesting. I love how layered Vonnegut’s writing is. You can choose to believe that Billy is telling the truth or not. There are clues layered all throughout the book that would prove either interpretation.

Ultimatum – Went back to read the old crisis for the Ultimate Universe that was supposed to change/relaunch it before this whole Death of Spider-Man thing. Wow, this was terrible. It was pointlessly violent, jumped around with no real narrative focus, and was just plain bad. I’m glad the side-universe is not mired in this anymore.

Secret Warriors – Got another book in. Still really interesting. Can’t wait to keep reading it.

Y: The Last Man – Finished my reread. It’s even better the second time. I love how deep the characters became and where the whole thing ended. Post-Y-chromosome Earth was interesting, but I really hope that kind of thing never happens for real!

Ultimate Fallout – The above panel came from this book. Our new Spider-Man is neat, but I won’t know more about him until this week. Racial controversy aside, he seems cool, but a little too similar to Peter in personality. Can’t reinvent all parts of the wheel, I guess. The other two parts of this book were pretty neat too. Always nice to read Hickman’s work.

Snarked – Roger Langridge’s look into the world of The Walrus and The Carpenter seems neat, but I don’t know if I’ll keep reading.

Moon Knight – I think this may have been my favorite of the releases this week. The art was just stunning and fun. This is a pretty cool book that I’m sure a lot of people aren’t reading or giving a chance.

Irredeemable – Speaking of underground books (I don’t actually know the circulation for this, but it can’t be huge), this was way depressing this week. Interesting, per usual, but depressing. The Plutonian is back and kicking all kinds of ass and he’s caught Earth with its pants down…again. The story is interesting, but it’s a bummer my favorite character didn’t make it in this issue.

SHIELD – Another gorgeous comic book. It’s still very confusing, but a book filled with Renaissance and Enlightenment scientists is always gold in my eyes.

Video Games

Catherine – I played this game just a little too haphazardly to get the ending I wanted. See, I was actively pushing away Katherine, who I find obnoxious, while answering questions like I would (in a quasi-responsible way), which resulted in me getting a Katherine ending. Ah, well. At least I’m having fun with the game on my second playthrough. I’m really down with the block puzzles. I might have more to say about the game in its own detailed post, but we’ll see.

Team Fortress 2 – Played so much of this over the weekend! I’m so close to getting the Scout achievement I’ve been chasing so long (1900-something/2004 kills). I’ll probably get it tonight or tomorrow night. It’s a lot of fun, but I’m kind of sad about having to play some other classes for a bit for achievement’s sake.

Derivative Art, Japanese Rock, and the Coming Rock Revolution [You Can Quote Me On That]
May 21st, 2009 by Dan

From Tim Rogers’ article on Japanese music and Sambo Master (so good, but long!):

I told Sanyon, “Art is poison. The ‘art’ of the past — the words of the past set down for future generations to remember — was it not made or chosen with the best judgment, can only hinder the freedom of the future.”

“That’s a very Western philosophy.”

“No. It’s The Tale of Genji. Murasaki Shikibu. The world’s first novel. From your country — 998 AD.”

“Well!”

“If I write a novel, for example, about a girl in a religious community who is ostracized when she’s discovered to be an adultress, no matter how much I focus on the woman’s pining over the wonderful cookies at the weekly church bake sale, and no matter how clever I make the cookie motif — a metaphor for what, I don’t know — I can’t publish it without drawing comparisons to The Scarlet Letter.”

“I don’t know what that is.”

“It’s a book. Famous American literature. Anyway. Furthermore — if I were to, say, show The Scarlet Letter to a publishing company editor who had never read it, he’d look at it for ten minutes before telling me it was utter trash. Too long, too gloomy, paragraphs too big, too thick, setting details not fleshed out enough, needs too many footnotes, too prose-y.”

“Aha. You’re saying the judges aren’t competent, is what you’re saying.”

“No. I’m saying that some of the shit we regard as gospel is actually . . . not.”

Sanyon snapped his fingers, and pointed at me. His mouth opened, then closed.

“I’m not sure I follow you.”

I shook my head. “I’m not sure I follow myself, sometimes. Anyway, what I’m saying is that it’s probable — highly possible that a lot of the punk-rock music people like you and me listen to now would still exist, in some way, shape or form, if Ramones had never existed.”

“I’m not sure about that.”

“I’m only mostly sure, myself. All I . . . know is that it feels criminally wrong to believe that only one man can ever hold the power to change the world. It’s like this — I believe in something we’ll call an ‘aesthetic god.’ I also believe in music theory, though that’s for another day. The ‘aesthetic god’ applies to, well, it’s a belief that certain things look and/or sound pleasing. Good sights, good sounds. Jennifer Aniston’s ‘Friends’ hairstyle; the computerized shine on Britney Spears’ voice. With popular music all you’re doing is throwing things at a wall, and seeing what sticks. Well, I don’t know. I guess that’s how it was in the beginning. Now people — they know what sticks and what doesn’t. This is because there are little . . . laws in aesthetics. Some kind of a supreme presence.

“Yet, see — here’s what I believe. There are infinite avenues to pleasant sights and sounds. Infinite ways of playing a guitar. It’s just that Kurt Cobain comes in and plays these four chords in this order and everybody gets hooked up on it. Art isn’t a ‘poison’ in that it rots and kills; it’s a poison in that it slows down and hinders. Our eyes and ears are attracted to shiny sights and sounds, and we dare not look away. That’s how Murasaki Shikibu would probably put it if she were around today. I take it she’d agree with me when I say (and you know old Japanese poetry was my major in college) that we stand, now, at an era where the ignorant are set to inherit the earth. When a guy who comes across a guitar for the first time in his life and sits down and plays it for an hour until he ‘discovers’ power chords, yeah, he’s got a chance of doing something great. He can change the world.”

Sanyon shook his head. “That sounds like some religious bullshit, man. A rock and roll messiah or some shit.” He shrugged. “It’s not like things — the current rock and roll situation — are so bad. People listen to music on the train. People get paid to make the music. As long as the CDs sell copies — hey. I may be just a kid — people like it that way — and my grasp of the whole industry dynamic might be one-dimensional, though at least I feel like I understand it. Japan treats its musicians right, at least when it comes to securing them a future. And that’s what it’s about for me. A person-to-person basis. Not changing the fucking world. I feel sorry for the bastard who ends up having to do that.”

I wagged my finger. “He won’t even know he’s doing it, is the thing. He’ll just be another guy like you, maybe a kid, thinking he’s just having fun. Then he realizes what he’s doing, and he either rises to it or he blows the fuck up. If he rises to it, then he’s suddenly a hero to people. That’s how it happens. You kids overthink things sometimes, even more than I do, and I’m the one doing all of the talking. See — hell. It’s like . . . shit. I don’t know. What I mean to say is — go back to the Scarlet Letter analogy. The fact that there’s so much literature backed-up in the historical pipeline pisses a lot of writers off. They know that they can’t write such-and-such a novel without being compared to so-and-so. The same goes for music. This makes writers and musicians a bunch of ironic assholes. That’s the problem here, is irony. People get all bitter and jaded before they’re even twenty years old. They turn into a bunch of cocks. I was reading an old interview with The Pixies in this little book of rock interviews my friend had. I think the interview was from 1989 or some shit, and yeah, it was like — I kept thinking what an asshole Frank Black sounded like. He sounded like a total fuckhole. It’s like — this way he’s talking, his opinions, this is exactly the shit I hated on kids who thought they were rockers in high school. I totally understood a whole bunch of shit. They got it . . . from the music. I mean, nothing against The Pixies or anything.”

Sanyon shrugged. “They’re alright.”

“Alright. Yeah, they’re alright. They’re alright.”

“Anyway, man, like — like I said. I’m just having fun. That’s all. I’m not the hero in a comic book about punk-rockers in Tokyo. I’m not collecting all the fucking Pokemon. I’m just singing in a band — hell, I can’t even sing as well as Ito, and that fucker’s playing the guitar now — though I guess I have the personality. I can be on television. I can play the little Japanese television game. Perfect. They’ll like me. [Sanyons manager and ex-Blue Hearts bassist Junnosuke Kawaguchi] says we’ll be fine. People will like our style, and all that. That’s what’s important.”

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