Friday, January 29, 2010

A new feature!

I've been noticing a few things lately:

1. I've been posting infrequently. And I hate that.

2. I haven't really been talking about movies very much, aside from the rarely watched Criterion film. Aside from that I've been excusin' myself from something I dearly love. And guess what? That stops now.

3. There isn't a huge amount of structure to this here blog. I write about movies, I write about my personal life, and on occasion they connect. But, as the writer of this blog, I can't say I feel as if there's much structure to the proceedings. And guess what? I want that to change as well.
4. For a film blog dedicated to the love of Criterion, there isn't exactly a lot of Criterion talk nor Quest talk. I'm just over here rambling it up about this and that and the what not, and hell, I'm tired of it.

Thus today I'm instituting a few new things. First, each and every day I'll include a Criterion Counsel, a sort of brief daily update on what I'm working on and how it's going, and what I'm thinking about the film. When I finally finish the film (which takes a while on some of these beasts) I'll write a full review, but I'm hoping that you, the readers will be at least somewhat interested in the quotidian rhythms of my viewing pleasures. Second, I'm going to start, this very moment, a new feature, name unknown, that just introduces you to what I'm watching next in terms of this here Quest. Why? Because I love writing about movies and this seems like a fantastic way to keep doing so.


The Film: The Rock (108)
The Director: Michael Bay, he of the multi-billion dollar pictures, he of the worst film of the decade, Transformers. Previously in the Criterion Collection: Armageddon (40)

The Synopsis: C'mon, you've seen The Rock (108)! FBI chemical-dork Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage) and ex-Alcatraz escapee John Patrick Mason (Sean Connery) have to break in to the titular Rock to stop ex-Marine General Francis X. Hummel (Ed Harris) from blowing the hell out San Francisco.

The Film: Big, busty and full of shitty action edits. Michael Bay sort of reinvented the action thriller with this film, replacing well thought out the grit and grimness of films like Die Hard for a sensory experience that left you mouth-dry on the verge of seizure.

My Prior Experience: I've seen this film so many times. I was sort of a Michael Bay sycophant in my wee years (much to the chagrin of my mother and father) and absolutely loved this film. Nic Cage's desperate scramble for the rolling green ball of death-ooze? Classic. Cage's knees-down, smoke signal as jets blast overhead? Amazing. Sean Connery in his last role of worth? Buh-rilliant. I'll admit this, and please don't judge me, but a long time back, when I thought it might be possible for me to actually own every Criterion film, I bought this, and, sigh, Armaggedon (40) for a combined eleven dollars on the internet. They've been sitting under my desk accruing dust for years now. Still, I am ashamed.

My Expectations: Extremely low. I've perused bits and pieces of this clunker over the years and as I get older the film only gets worse. Chugging through the impressively long Armageddon (40) was a pretty savage ordeal and I can only imagine this well-remembered film will be equally difficult.


Criterion Counsel: Alex and I started watching this film last evening. We'd been beer tasting in the hours prior, so I was groggy and well, pretty drunk. Nonetheless, the opening scenes featuring Ed Harris in a torrentially down pouring SF (this does not happen) and the neon lights of the chemical factory said pretty much everything - this is a film made by and made for cheese dicks. Dicks of cheese, they love this film.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

An amazing video about, well, my life.

Here's a short one!

This video melted my face and highlighted my noxious procrastination strategies all in one fell swoop.

Please enjoy while not completing work.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


The Film: Mona Lisa (107)
The Director: Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, Butcher Boy, etc.)

What Is It?: A hellish fairy tale of a crime story centering on George (Bob Hoskins) and his quest to make something better of himself and everyone else around him.

The Expectation?: High as anything. Love myself a British crime picture. Love myself an early-era Bob Hoskins, and after glancing at the initial few minutes of the film, couldn't have been more excited.

The Experience?: My Criterion Companion snuck this one in without telling me, so I've been trying to find a moment to slip it in. Today was that moment. Rainy, dreary British crime at 11 'o' clock on a Wednesday morning.

1. White rabbits.

From the opening salvos of this brilliant bit of sordid crime-romance, you know you're not in for the regular men with guns bit of gangster film. Mr. George (Bob Hoskins) delivers a white rabbit, for reasons never known, to a seedy bar, and right then and there we, the audience, are, quite figuratively, thrown down the rabbit hole. For the next hour and half, we will experience, along with the smarter-than-he-seems Mr. George, an oft times surreal, sordid and bat-fuck crazy immersion in to the concrete world of the London sex underground. Cheshire cats will smile, Mad Hatter's will craft fake spaghetti, Red Queens will scream and punch, and the whole way through, our wide-eyed protagonist will try to keep his hat on. Take a deep breath, this is a wild ride.

2. Bob Hoskins, wow.

This is film number three in the Criterion Collection for one Bob Hoskins (the first being the also brilliant modern crime picture, The Long Good Friday (26), the second being the absolute classic Brazil (51)) and I want more. There's a nature to Bob Hoskins, a ticking time bomb that sits behind his eyes, that creates the idea that this man can and will do anything if pushed far enough. Mona Lisa (107) opens with this sawed-off number waltzing up to his daughter's door screaming, yelling, throwing trash cans and assaulting a homeless man on the street. Hoskins emotes likable schizophrenia in a way you can't learn. It's embedded in the very essence of his character and this film would be nothing without him. The slow dissolving of his criminal naivete is the heart of this film, and as he fights to create within himself a moral center (within a painfully amoral world) this schizophrenic nature is thrown to the forefront. He must love, and fight, and rage against what he sees as wrong, and no other actor could be so damn likable doing it.

3. Lets talk about those layers.

This is a film about illusion, perception, the peeling away of layers and layers to reveal the gooey core that lays beneath, well if Neil Jordan had his way, everything. Mr. George wants nothing more than to drive a car, to see his daughter, and get repaid for the seven years he spent in the pokey for crime boss Mortwell (Michael Caine). When he's thrust in to the employ of "tart" Simone (a ravishingly 80s Cathy Tyson), the slow shedding of the illusory masks of society as a whole start to fall away. Mr. George is forced to realize that what he sees on the outside is just that, the outside, and what truly matters (for good or for bad) is what lies below the surface. We see the tidy homes of prostitutes, the seedy interiors of strip clubs prior to their openings, we see thugs fall in love, we see what rich, old men truly want from their escorts and on and on and on. By the end of the film, with hearts broken, bodies riddled with bullets, and George a completely changed man, we see everyone's hands open, everyone's true intentions exposed. It's not a pretty picture, but it's an honest one, and I think that's what Jordan is trying to say. Happiness doesn't lie in ignorance, it might not lay anywhere at all, but without a true understanding of what's going on, hell, you're a sitting duck.

4. A transition in crime.

Leaving prison can't be easy. George comes out expecting to be roughing up goons like himself, but instead finds himself thrown in to the world of high-class call girls and blackmail, kinky sex and the beating of women. It's a different world for a fists-to-face thug of the 70s and it exposes so much more. Where George came from before there was an unspoken set of rules that didn't involve leather-bound prostitutes and 15-year old whores. Lord knows what it entailed, but on George's face you can read that things have changed and this film revolves around what happens when he tries to get himself back in to a game that doesn't exist anymore. It's interesting to note that though George is obviously a violent, fucked-up man, the things he sees, and we in turn see, in this film, are disgusting to him. Things have transitioned and George can't deal with it, thus he's thrust in to the role of erstwhile-savior (a theme pictorially shown numerous times through out the film - the church, Cathy's (Kate Hardie) referring to him as a "father"). A moral force in an amoral world.

Final Thoughts: Brilliant. Absolutely amazing, from frame one to the end. Has me slathering for more, more, and more.

What's Next?: The Rock (108), Michael Bay's SF based action flick starring Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage. I loved this film as a wee one, and actually have the Criterion version under my bed. Bristling with excitement.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I am lackluster Quester.

It's been a busy, sleepless, slightly insomniac couple of days and thus the Criterion Quest has, as the poor thing often does, has fallen to the wayside.

Worry not my erstwhile readers, I will be back ...


Mona Lisa (107) will be watched!

Friday, January 22, 2010

'Twas my birthday and AVATAR

Yesterday, amongst dumping rain and a slight cause of the blues, it was my birthday.

Celebration was had. I turned a year older and the world just kept churning on by. Birthdays are strange and I could write a novel on my internal monologue each and every year, but, I won't 'cause I've got better things to talk about.

As my good friend and roommate JM took me, as a swell birthday treat, to a sold-out 3-D, IMAX screening of James Cameron's Avatar.

Not surprisingly, I had a few thoughts.

The Film: Avatar
The Director: James Cameron (The Abyss, Terminator 1 & 2, Titanic)

The Experience: Yon Marcum, myself, and a packed house of hilarious 3-D glasses wearing film dorks, mouths agape as flying dragons, ash, and soul flowers blew past our incredulous eyes. Quite honestly, I couldn't imagine being anywhere else as the first day of my 28th year ticked on by.

Something Interesting: You've heard it all. This film is a beast of hype and word-of-mouth and I can't say anything else interesting except for the fact that it only took 17 days for it to break a billion dollars and it's already being speculated that the film will break the 2 billion mark. It surely was strange to be sitting in a sold out theatre on a Thursday afternoon. James Cameron, you are a rich rich man.

Quick Notes:

1. 3-D makes us all film dorks.

There's something to say about this film and the entire immersive quality of this film's 3-D experience that a theatre full of all ages, races, creeds, and whatnot, all placed enormous 3-D glasses over their eyes and stared, mouths agape at a screen filled with blue-skinned warriors and plane eating dragons. In the arms of James Cameron and this amazing world he's created, we're all film dorks.

2. Call me an Avatar convert.

Everyone has told me how great this film is. Everyone has told me how amazing the world Cameron's created is. Every reviewer is creaming their short pants over the film. And all this hype, it made me wary. Perhaps the PR folk at Lightstorm had out done themselves in persuading the audience to look past Cameron's inability to be brief, to craft dialogue, to step outside the enormous trappings of the sci-fi genre. Was this a gut bomb in the same way Lord of the Rings were? Was I going to leave the theater disappointed as I was after both Two Towers and Return of the King?

Nope. Not at all. This is everything I wanted in a 500 million dollar movie. Epic landscapes, expansive battle scenes, an entire fucking world crafted from the excessively talented minds Cameron culled to bring this thing to life. It's a roaring lion of filmmaking excess in the best way possible. The kind of film that hasn't been brought to life in such an epic manor since Cameron dropped Titanic. And before that since the truly amazing epics of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Cameron, you big pompous asshole, I salute you. Now just give one third of the money you've made to Haiti and I'll love you even more.

3. Stop hating haters.

If I hear the comparison between Last of the Mohicans and Dance With Wolves one more time I'm going to fletch myself an arrow and take some revenge. If I hear one more time that this film has a shitty script, similar things will happen. If James Cameron had spent a single extra second on making a big, over-complicated script with deep characters and original ideas, more time would've had to be spent focusing on these characters. We wouldn't have had the luxury, yes luxury, of just sinking back in to the comfortable archetypes Cameron hands over here and enjoying the sheer all-encompassing world laid out before us. And yes, this story line is old and played out, but in a way that feels embracing not irritating. I'm was entertained by the characters, not repelled, and even with such simplistic stories bouncing about I still felt as if I missed out on so much going on in the background. I'm not giving Cameron a pass as a fantastic writer, I'm just saying that the script he created was exactly what the Na'vi and the world of Pandora demanded.

4. Sam Worthington?

I'm confused about Sam Worthington. I assumed he was another Russell Crowe, a big, jockish brute of an actor, but one graced with a certain sort of weight, a gravitas even. Yet, Worthington is a particular sort of blandness suited more for underwear modeling than leading a film. Surrounded by actors such as Sigourney Weaver and Giovanni Ribisi, Worthington comes off as a ball of bland puff. At times, when he was swathed in CGI, I felt almost as if his words had been muffled, or dampened by James Cameron, knowing full well that this actor was bringing nothing but a certain physical presence to the roll. I'm curious in the months to come, what with Clash of the Titans rolling out if Worthington's star will fade.

Final Thoughts: Put your reservations about big, cheesy sci-fi on the shelf and go see this film. You will be blown away.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A new, ahem, companion and ANTICHRIST

The path of Criterion can be a lonely one my friends. A long, somber march down a treeless vista filled with pretentious art films and thirty five hour Japanese epics. Sadly, not every person I know wants to spend their sun-filled summer afternoon curled up in bed watching The Rock (108) for the second time. Not every person I know wants to spend another evening in the darkened halls of the Castro Theatre perusing the newest touring film from Janus. Not every person I know will sit and listen while I describe the release schedule for the next six and a half months of Criterion.

Except for one, the one I love: Alex Healy, my first and only companion in this Criterion Quest.

A few things about Alex Healy, I think you should know:

1. She prefers to be referred to as a, ahem, Criterion Conquistador. She will often times say things like, "The Criterion Conquistador strikes again!".

2. I will refer to her as my Criterion Companion, much to her dismay.

3. Alex believes the name Criterion Crusade is much better than Criterion Quest. This is something we disagree on. I've swallowed her in to the fold as so she won't branch of her own, and create another, more better Criterion-based website entitled so.

4. Alex wants to write a review of one of the films ... in WingDings. This is still being discussed.

5. Alex has stolen the most recent Criterion film and is now finished with it, putting herself one film ahead of me. Cheeky bastard.

That's what you should know about my Criterion Companion, Alex Healy. The Robin to my Batman, the Han Solo to my Luke Skywalker.

Welcome to the team.


The Film: Antichrist
The Director: Lars Von Trier (The Element of Crime (80), Europa (454))

The Experience: Three lost souls, perched around a laptop, having their minds irrevocably scarred.

Something Interesting: This film is almost nothing but interesting. I'd say I recommend it, but Jesus Christ, this film will live inside a painful part of your brain from the moment it ends until the moment you end. It is as shocking and disturbing to watch as any film I've ever seen. I punch myself in the face daily for not getting to the theatre while it was cutting a swath across the country. It's just that kind of movie.

Quick Notes:

1. Wow.

I don't even know where to start with this picture. Lars Von Trier is a consistently challenging filmmaker. Dredging deep in to the dark areas of our subconscious to pull out some real gems of depravity. His films I've seen in the past are challenging not only in their content but also in their execution, films like Dogville and Manderlay, Breaking the Waves and Dancer In The Dark, these are movies that transcend the simple art of disturbing the viewer. These are films that dig in to the brain, challenging not only what we're seeing, but what we believe in, whom we might root for. These are films that ask what is good and what is evil and how might we deal with it?

And Antichrist is Von Trier's disturbing masterpiece. A masterpiece amongst masterpieces.

2. Wow.

From start to finish, this film pummels you with creepiness. I don't want to say a single thing about this film, because even if there is a good possibility that this film has already been ruined for you, I don't want to play any part in it. As this film about a couple in the woods unfolds painstaking scene by painstaking scene, you'll worry about the dull roar your heart is making. You'll worry that when, ahem, "Chaos Reigns" that you won't be able to make it through it. You'll cover your eyes, you'll quiver, you'll yell out, because this film is that good at fucking withy our head. Days after I watched it, I'm still talking about it and when I talk about the juicy bits, I'm still feeling a little bit queasy. And that merits a second WOW.

3. Wow.

I don't know if there's two more hateable characters in existence, at least two characters that help to populate the film. But Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, certainly get close. There's tragedy in this film, and we feel for the participants in said tragedy, and at first you think Willem Dafoe is a creep ('cause he is) and you hope and pray that Charlotte Gainsbourg might find release from his meddling. But as the film progresses as the layers are peeled back your gaze shifts and your hoping Willem Dafoe can find a way out, and you're scared each and every time Charlotte Gainsbourg steps on screen. And as the final images roll and Willem Dafoe's almost euphoric face fills the screen, you can't help but hate them both. And that's great filmmaking.

4. Wow.

Halfway through this film, my Criterion Companion, JM, and I started to worry that maybe the hype was too much. That the discussions about the painful bludgeoning this film imparts on your cinematic receptors was overwrought and that we we're about to be disappointed (blissfully so). Let yourself think that, let yourself think that the hype is too much and that this film won't leave you jelly like at the end of the day. This film is seriously disturbing. There is imagery in this film that will punch you in the mouth, steal your wallet and leave you an alley full of homeless pedophiles. It is that sick and twisted. Be excited, be prepared.

5. Wow.

What's amazing about Antichrist is that at the end of the film it isn't just revulsion and shock you feel, but the need to discuss. Why does this film exist? Is this a film about misogyny? Who is Lars Von Trier? Is their point behind the mayhem? What is that point? And so on and so forth. This is a film to see with others, for many a reasons, but mostly so you'll have a sounding board to throw out ideas, 'cause they'll be flowing.

Final Thoughts: Best movie I've seen this year. Handedly.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


The Director: Bertrand Tavernier (Round Midnight)

What Is It?: A French adaptation of sweaty-noir master Jim Sheridan's Pop. 1280, taken from the small town setting and reimagined in the dusty alleyways of 1938 North Africa.

The Experience: I was frothing a bit around the mouth to watch this one, waiting for Alex (my newly deemed Criterion Quest Companion) and sneaking in ten minutes here or twenty minutes there. Finally, Al played catch up and we just deliriously dove in head first.

Quick Notes:

1. Phillip Noiret, wow.

I don't know if I've seen a leading performance in a film as good as this one in years. I'm almost tempted not to talk about anything else but Mr. Noiret's performance as the bumbling-sheriff-turned-killed Lucien, as it stands out that much against an already incredible film. Lucien (Phillip Noiret) is a bumbling clown of a sheriff, a friendly, likable, punching bag of a gentleman more prone to cracking jokes than to arresting, let alone shooting a "criminal." There's something about Noiret's performance that makes me think of a silent-film slapstick clown. He's bumbling and funny, but riddled with sadness and well, vengeful violence. When Lucien is pushed just one step too far, he takes up a quest to rid the streets of his small French West African colony of what he deems "trash." As he embarks on a quest to extinguish and embarrass those who've done him wrong, director Bertrand Tavernier ably peels back the many, many layers of this put-upon detective, and Noiret's emergence as an avenging angel of death is one for the books. At times hilarious, at times dark, Noiret manages what I thought impossible, that not only did I feel for this corpulent policeman gone mad, but I was rooting for him. Even as the film dips in to looney-bin territory and poor Lucien is obviously not acting in a sane manner, I felt pulled, I felt stretched morally, because I still wanted to back up my man Lucien, even if he was tricking folk in to killing each other and generally being an evil evil man. 'Cause Noiret is that good. He's lovable from minute one, even when he's dispatching witnesses with a shotgun. Even when he's ranting about the inherent goodness of his despicable actions. Even when he's breaking all moral boundaries just to make himself feel better, I was completely in his corner. And any actor who can do that is one for the ages. Mr. Noiret I tip my battered Sherlock Holmes hat in your distinguished direction.

2. That's a fast-paced camera.

What's great about adapting older books in to modern movies (Coup de Torchon (106) was made in 1981) is that you're not hampered by the technology of the time. Thus, Tavernier is a man on a mission in terms of Steadycam. For those who didn't major in Film & Rhetoric at Whitman College, Steadycam is a harness worn around one's body that allows you to create long tracking shots without the bumps, bustles, and general annoyance of setting up a dolly. What's a dolly? Oh nevermind. Nonetheless, Tavernier uses the moving camera as a way to make us not just audience members, but parts of the film. The camera zooms in during the middle of a shot, as if the actions have already been set in to motion and we're coming on to the scene amidst the chaos. There's a general feeling of collapse in this film, and Tavernier brings us in and out of that collapse with this swooping Steadycam shots. We're not just watching Rose run in to the house, we're right on her heels. Her anger is our anger, her panic our panic and it draws us in to the film in an almost nauseating way.

3. This film is actually funny.

Seriously, a lot of people die in this film, in a variety of brutal ways, but somehow, this film is still pretty funny. And when I say "funny", I don't mean slipping on banana peels or dick 'n' fart jokes, I mean black macabre morbidity "humor". These are laughs related to people dying and people getting fucked over and people in general just breaking down in the dusty streets of a sun-baked town in French West Africa. Strangely though, you'll laugh because the screws in your brain and turned so tight, a chuckle here and there is the only thing that'll ease the pressure. You'll giggle, and feel bad, chortle and feel awful. You'll guffaw to yourself as you question your moral standing. Why does death make you laugh? Huh, why? And that's the beauty of this movie, we're losing our moral high ground just as quickly as Lucien is redefining his.

Final Thoughts: Couldn't have been more pleased by this film. My expectations were high as a kite and Tavernier and crew knocked it over the Green Monster.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Charles Bronson and MANDOM.

Janus Films, Criterion's lord overseer, is putting Nobuhiko Obayashi’s House on the road in the months to come. Haven't seen it but it's some sort of bizarre 70s satire of pop culture that features a man who turns in to a pile of fruit a piano that eats women. Must see. Absolutely.

Don't believe me? Check out Obayashi's commercial for the the decidedly masculine scent ... MANDOM.

Makes me want to rustle some cattle. Or break some stallions. Or punch a bear.

It's almost my birthday, what's the chance someone can get Charles Bronson's reanimated corpse looking good enough to throw some MANDOM on and serve drinks?

Just saying.

Well shit, a Criterion crisis.

You know, I'm feeling a little sick of writing the Criterion Quest.

I know, shocking, what with my recent resolutions and cleaning of closets, it would seem that I've hit a movie watching stride as of a late. Yet over the last week or so as I've sat down each and every day to churn out some idea about movies or my life, I've been, well, stuck. I sit and stare and wonder about film and what I'm writing about and I wonder:

What the hell am I doing?

I know my goal, I know my tactics, I certainly know I enjoy writing, but what exactly is the point? What am I doing with Criterion Quest? Who do I write this for? Or, hell, do I write this for anyone but myself? Is this just me wanking off on the screen for my pleasure and my pleasure alone? And if so, is that a bad thing? Do I need an audience? And if so, why? Am I doing this for other people? Or the possibility (distant and vague) that someone will read this (someone with a bag full of money) and give me a fat paycheck and tell the world about my Quest for Criterion?

I. Have. No. Idea.

But I need to change something. And I don't exactly know what that is.

Might be content, might be tactic, might be a length sabbatical. I'm going to keep it up, same as it ever was for a hot minute, but something, something biggish, is a brewing.

Just needed to vent.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Tahoe, Reno, and a few resolutions for the new year.

Went to Lake Tahoe and Reno this weekend, and you know, I had a few thoughts I'd like to share:

1. Skiing is the most bourgeois of sports. Truly the only sport where there is no "street equivalent", a gear-heavy, money-based excursion reserved solely for those with money, or those who know folks with money. You can't take snowboarding or skiing off the mountain, and those mountains cost a fortune to get to. You need cars, skis (or snowboards), boots, passes, a place to stay, food, googles, socks, warmth ... blah blah blah. This is an upper-crust type of activity. You can't take a pair of 2x4s, rope 'em to your feet and ski down Lombard Street. I've alwaysAdd Video wondered if it was something more than my dislike of cold and my fear of having things bound to my feet that kept me away from the snow sports, and there is: I don't have the kind of money it takes to get up on the slopes all the time. I'm broke, and I'm pretty sure I always have been.

2. That said, one day of skiing was an absolute blast. Yes I spent the entirety of my morning dressed like Zsa Zsa Gabor (oversized Europa Moda jacket? Check. Oversized designer sunglasses? Check. Lack of skill? Triple check.) falling down a series of bunny hills as my sexist ski-teacher flirted with two teenaged Nebraskans (parents in attendance). Yes, I spent my afternoon swearing, cursing and generally bruising each and every part of my body. But hell, my last run of the day, aside from knocking over a three year old snowboarder, was sheer bliss, and I left pumped full of adrenaline like I haven't felt in years. Will I do it again? Sure, why not.

3. Everyone in Reno looks like somebody turned a high-powered sandblaster on their faces. As Alex said, "There's so many characters here, that being a character is kind of boring." Agreed. Every face tells a story in Reno, and none of those stories seemed particularly enchanting. Regardless, I saw a dog run figure-eights around a velour-wearing gymnast doing a hand stand. I nearly swooned. Reno you a desolate little gem that I just might have to spend a weekend with.


It's the New Year! Woooo. Last week took me by surprise, but I'm back and I thought I'd give a few Criterion Quest related resolutions to kick this sum'bitch off right.

So, 2010, what do I have in store for you?

1. I watched only thirty or so Criterion films last year, a piddling amount if you look at how many they've released and how many they continue to pump out. Thus, this year, I'm kicking it in to Criterion Quest overdrive. I'm going to try to break well in to 200 this year, 300 if I can really buckle down. Dear, sweet Alex has inquired about joining the Quest (loosely) and I think with a steadfast companion by my side, I just might be able to power my way through a more convincing number of films.

2. This will be the year of the "Guest Column." Yessir, this'll be the year that I convince my slack-jawed yokel of a brother to write the column he's promised for years. This'll be the year where I reach out and interview folks who love the films I'm watching. This'll be the year I'll persuade more of you, my amazing readers, to chip in with comments and suggestions or hell, reviews of your own.

3. This'll be the year that I try to expand. This is a small blog and I love that it's small and read by only a handful of loyal friends and fans, but I think with effort and, hah, proofreading and a clarification of my idea, this could be the continuation of something beautiful.

4. By hook or by crook, this'll be the year that I get mentioned on the Criterion website. Lord knows how, but if it takes a grappling hook and me falling through the window of the Criterion offices in NYC, I'm getting mentioned on their page. You just wait.

I'm frothing at the mouth I'm so excited. Let's start watching some movies.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

It's the New Year, and I'm going to clean a few shelves.

Happy 2,000-Men!
I've got resolutions percolating, but I want to blog, and as tradition dictates, the beginning of the year should include a bit, of, er, cleaning. Over the course of the last three months or so I've accrued a hefty list of films I've seen and planned to write about, but never got around to for one reason or another.

Thus, to empty my larders as the New Year crashes down upon us, I propose a new tradition: emptying the filmic vaults of my mind. Nothing long, hell nothing over a few sentences. Just a good solid power washing of my celluloid choked brain pan.

Hope the champagne was cheap, and your headache was cheaper.

Lets dust the corners:

Paper Heart (dir. Nicholas Jasenovac; feat. Charlyne Yi, Michael Cera)

Charlyne Yi is a shockingly unmotivating lead, a female Michael Cera. Oh wait, he's in it too.

I Am Waiting (dir. Koreyoshi Kurahara; feat. Yujiro Ishihara)

I was told hyper-violent, instead I was just very tired. Criterion-related but cursed with the boring tone of the obscurely Japanese.

Beautiful Losers (dir. Aaron Rose, Joshua Leonard)

Amazing documentary about the sort of street art-scene that was fostered in the depths of New York and Los Angelese in the early 90s. Filled up a few pages of sketch book with all the inspiration this one shot through me.

Away We Go (dir. Sam Mendes; feat. Maya Rudolph, Jon Krasinski)

Second time round, same as the first. A great two thirds, followed by a klunker of a third act. Someone referred to this film as "the film about Noah and Alex." I'll take that as a compliment.

Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince (dir. David Yates; feat. Children)

My second dance with the sixth film in this increasingly enjoyable series. Probably going to squish itself on to my tops of the year list. Dumbledore manages to invoke chills and tears.

Good Hair (dir. Jeff Stillson)

The best damn documentary about African-American hair I've ever seen. Seriously though, this movie has a subversively sad streak a mile wide. Don't expect "creamy crack" joke and "creamy crack" jokes alone.

Bruno (dir. Larry Charles; feat. Sasha Baron Cohen)

Offensive and enraging, but not in the subtly genius way of Borat. Made me laugh, but I faded near the end.

12 Monkeys (dir. Terry Gilliam; feat. Bruce Willis, Madeline Stowe)

Creepy, original, downright brilliant if you ask me. I ask you this though, "Oh where oh where did the real Terry Gilliam go?"

Audition (dir. Takashi Miike; feat. Ryo Ishibashi)

You know, I thought the first three-fourths of this film were so much stronger than the gore-soaked finale. It's like you build a house of suspense and then just kick the damn thing over. Still, seeing one's foot cut off by a leather clad beauty is always a bit shocking.

Sherlock Holmes (dir. Guy Ritchie; feat. Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law)

Hmmmmm ... so much better than it could've been. But aside from Downey and Law I found the film decidedly, "meh." Rachel McAdams took a big fat step backwards with this film. Sadly, I still saw it twice in the theater.


I'm forgetting just a ton of movies here, but I'm sure I can knock a few loose from my brain prison when Alex gets home. Or they'll just slip in to oblivion like so much else that enters my ear holes.