Sunday, December 29, 2013

Top 20 Movies I First Saw in 2013

Last year I said I hoped 2013 would be more about back alleys than Main Street, and somehow that's how it worked out. No canon completism this year. Instead I binged on Polish cinema, waded into the avant-garde, marathoned Rex Ingram, Jean Negulesco, and Hiroshi Teshigahara. Most notably I got my passport stamped at a number of new countries, including Cuba, Senegal, and Saudi Arabia. Most of my favorites came to me by way of TCM, and most of that was pegged to Mark Cousins' heaven-on-mute The Story Of Film. You want TV vs. film? Those four months of world cinema annotating a history doc comprise the television event of the year.

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mad Men: Season six

Expounding on my Twittering about the Mad Men's increasing dishevelment. I hope season seven is just a bunch of Cousin Itts in beanbag chairs complaining about hippies.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

2013 Dream Emmys

Look over there! It’s The Good Wife cast looking positively adequate! Ooh, there’s the Modern Family bloc dressed as, and apparently reenacting, The Aristocrats, clearly inspiring some delicious jokes from Dame Diana Rigg. Whoa, they invited Dr. Steve Brule! And he’s chewing up the placeholders for The Big Bang Theory? Up ahead Ken Cosgrove and the bunheads are dancing a wistful tap to “Getaway,” and some Julie loon just got on the loudspeaker desperately looking for a guy named Blaze? I don’t know what’s going on, but the 2013 dream Emmys are off to a great start.

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Game of Thrones: "Mhysa" Still Confused

A week and a half after the finale, I still have questions about Game Of Thrones. Like why does Ygritte have a catch-phrase? But mostly, “Mhysa” is so intent on delivering a taste of season four that it doesn’t sufficiently wrap up season three. What is the full impact of the Red Wedding? I know what I think the impact is, but I’m so naive I thought the Starks were actually going to be reunited. Tyrion says it will haunt the Lannisters for a generation. Why so cynical? The “Rains of Castamere” incident happened a generation ago and the Lannisters are doing quite fine for themselves. Tyrion says the North remembers, but last I heard the North abandoned (Karstarks) or betrayed (Boltons) the Starks. Is there really any reason to think the Red Wedding will come back to bite Tywin in the ass or is it just that we’re supposed to like Tyrion so he has to protest the slaughter of our heroes?

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Seven Angry Men: Father knows best

Marked by weepy Gothic windows and heavenly low-angle portraits, Charles Marquis Warren’s side-eye take on the John Brown saga is a holy war, a prophet’s crusade against a reverend and his flock of slavers culminating in personal martyrdom. John Brown doesn’t liberate the land so much as he exerts his iron will. In Raymond Massey's hands, Brown doesn’t think; everything is already thought. “An eye for an eye, my sons.” He doesn’t need to deliberate, even when it means risking his own children. The card says Moops.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Enlightened: Making a scene

“All I Ever Wanted” doesn't look like Enlightened. Directed by Todd Haynes, he of the underground Barbie diorama/soundstage Sirkbinder/prismatic Dylanology, “All I Ever Wanted” is a work of remarkable control. No nervous handhelds that sometimes mark Amy's frenzy. No broad-brush comedy that sometimes seeps into the writing. No consumerist detritus that sometimes reduces people into stock footage. There’s nothing generic here, nothing corporate outside a brief foray into Cogentiva and a stray Perrier bottle. Instead of looking up at the black cancer-box of Abaddonn, we look down on it from a turtle's-eye-view, and the usual office Earth Day color palette gives way to a passionate red. This isn't about a powerful corporation. This is about Amy.

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