Monday, April 13, 2015

Top 50 movies of the 2010s so far

I’ve never felt more like I’m playing out the clock here on Earth than when I tried to rank my favorite movies of the half-decade. Lucy better than The Immigrant? I don’t really know. Personally I think this is one of my better cop-outs. Not that I haven’t wasted plenty of time fussing over the order, but take this as a shelf of the 50 movies I’ll be watching and thinking about for the rest of the decade, each one side by side with the next. Not all the usual suspects are here. Some I haven’t seen (The Deep Blue Sea), some I haven’t liked (Her), and others I have liked but I’ll leave to the true believers (The Master). For me it’s been a half-decade of reckoning with violence, millennials getting it together, women kicking ass, history collapsing, retro frames, cowboys hats, duets, and people being quiet in museums and the great outdoors alike. It’s in that spirit of contemplation that I invite you to shut up and look at these pictures.

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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Top 10 Movies I First Saw in 2014

2014 was the year I stopped watching movies. I was a prisoner of television, which isn’t so bad if not for TV having as weak a year as film, although here’s something I’ve never said before: One episode in particular is among the best movies of any year. So I didn’t manage my usual 20 discoveries. But the 10 movies here are all the more special to me. I spent the year stuck, and these are the movies that managed to set me free in some small way or, in the case of number one, rooted me so deeply I felt like a twig on a humongous tree, stuck, maybe, but connected.

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Leftovers: Gaudy as fuck

(The following is the fragment I threw up after watching The Leftovers finale. It’s very incomplete, but you get what you pay for with Damon Lindelof and Brandon Nowalk both.)

The boldest thing in the first season of The Leftovers is the rapture of a fetus. Life begins at conception it seems. That or non- or semi-life was also raptured. Not that we know of any animals, belongings, or rocks that went. But this fetus did, and it was all to give Amy Brenneman a scene where she’s looking at her Ultrasound and then the life inside her disappears, if you catch my meaning and you really can’t miss it. The Leftovers isn’t saying life begins at conception. It’s not really saying anything. It’s just trying to be powerful.

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Good Wife is the new Deep Space Nine

In the sixth episode of the sixth season of The Good Wife, our lawyer heroes Alicia Florrick and Diane Lockhart reclaim their Chicago high-rise, just as Star Trek: Deep Space Nine predicted. That’s the exact same episode number where Deep Space Nine’s Captain Sisko and the Federation finally take back the title space station from the Dominion, an imperial alliance of alien civilizations looking to conquer the galaxy. I’m not here to tell you The Good Wife and Deep Space Nine exist in the same universe, although the evidence is right there in the color of Alicia’s mom’s hat if you people would just open your minds. But I do stand by the title: The Good Wife is the new Deep Space Nine.

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Top TV of the 2010s

(Originally posted at ello, which I’d only recommend because the pictures are so much bigger!)

People are never asking me what the greatest shows of the 2010s are, so I came up with half a top 10 list for the half-decade anyway. Now, I think greatness implies bigness, not in size but in substance. That substance can be in a single surgical performance, or it can be in a whole troupe of recurring characters. It can be in story itself, or it can be in how the story is told. There just has to be enough there that you keep watching, thinking about it, talking about it. That’s how a show lasts. I think these five shows are big (and good at being big) in all kinds of waysbroad spans, furious burrowing, intricate designs. To me, they’re the shows of the first five 2010s.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Star Trek, "The Menagerie": The television trap

In the beginning was “The Cage.” Long before Picard stood trial for humanity’s violence, there was Gene Roddenberry’s pilot about the virtues of that violence. God had more wrath in the old days. Jeffrey Hunter, Jesus himself, played Captain Pike. Answering a distress signal on Talos IV, he’s kidnapped by aliens who put him through simulations of real-life experiences in the hopes of mating him with their human female, Vina, all while Adam and Eve are locked up safe and tight in a zoo. Eventually Pike threatens to blow himself up, and the aliens decide humanity is too violent, dangerous, self-destructive, and unpredictable to bother with. NBC rejected the pilot, and it wasn’t seen in its original form for two decades.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Gay Old Times 1: Pilot

January 16, 1995


My recruitment into the vast homosexual conspiracy began at a penal colony—hold your jokes—in the premiere of Star Trek: Voyager. That’s where we meet Captain Janeway, Kate Mulgrew’s1 Picardian Renaissance woman. She’s recruiting an inmate, Tom Paris, to be her mission specialist because of Expositions 1 and 2, and she happens to have a personal connection with him via Exposition 3 (she worked for his father once upon a time). “You must be good,” he tells the audience, and here’s where we find out what Exposition 3 signifies: “My father only accepts the best and brightest.” They say great television shows show you how to watch them. So do mediocre ones. Free from the burden of actual storytelling, Star Trek: Voyager becomes a rich and rewarding code. In case it isn’t clear from the Native American with the literal forehead tattoo announcing his heritage, it’s all about what everything represents.

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