SETTING: Wednesday night in line at the RiteAid on Falls Road at 37th. PLAYERS: Middle-aged couple and a girl in her late teens, all a ways behind me in line.
COUPLE: Hey April, whatchoo been up to? GIRL: Nothin' much. You's remember Tammy? COUPLE: Yeah. GIRL: Me 'n her got into a fight a couple months ago and I beat her down. My gramma wouldn't let me go out after that, but that's ok 'cuz since then, all my friends are pill heads, so I'm grateful.
Email your Overheards (using this format) to: MobtownshankATatomicbooksDOTcom
by Miss Sarah RENT A MIDGET For that "little" extra something at any gathering, just call Rent-a-Midget. Because treating little people like sideshow freaks is totally acceptable when you are paying them. "This month we're offering Super Bowl Midgets!!! Have any of our guys at your party for the Big Game or for the Playoffs! Imagine having a midget serve beer or doing a crazy dance when your favorite team scores! Wow, I need to lay down thinking about that."
Do you have any suggestions for a Freak O' The Week? If so, send them here: freakATfluffypopsicleDOTcom
YEAR END WRAP UP 2004====================== Each year
in the Shank, we ask readers to submit lists of the best and worst of
the year. Over the next few weeks we'll be running these lists in the
Shank (from movies and music to TV and other more, um, esoteric
lists). This is collection of lists for WATCHINGS OF 2004. It focuses on movies, TV shows, and video games. ==========================================
TOP 10 MOVIES by Benn Ray
1. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou Wes Anderson continues to work out his daddy issues, Bill Murray continues to perfect his acting, Willem DaFoe earns decade's worth of previously undeserved hype, Angelica Huston gets even more beautiful and classy, and even goddamn Jeff Goldblum shows he can be more than just creepy - he can be creepy AND likeable. All in a wonderful Jacques Cousteau fantasy world and built around a story of oceanic vengeance.
2. Fahrenheit 9/11 A movie that aspires to change the world... and not just change the world, but make the world better. The only reason this isn't in the #1 slot is because Moore failed. A filmmaker who dares to challenge the closest thing America has had to a dictator (to date), and is vilified for it. And when the Neo-Cons were done with Moore, even the liberals started turning their backs on him. How many times have you heard someone on the left weakly preface any praise they had for this movie with the phrase "Well, Fahrenheit 9/11 had it's flaws but..." Stop right there. It didn't have flaws, and what you are doing is allowing yourself to be bullied by the Right. If only the Bush Administration had vetted their "facts" before Bombs Over Baghdad-ing Saddam as well as Moore vetted his, maybe we wouldn't be in this shitpile we're in (no, you're right. We still would have invaded Iraq). The right doesn't like facts because they don't base any of their policy on them. But don't let their inability to distinguish between fact and opinion sway the greatness of this film.
3. Kill Bill Vol. 2 Tarantino back in form. An excellent fusion of genres and styles.
4. Napoleon Dynamite Awesome! Sweet. Great set design, great outfits. A great message. Funny. A little sad. Now I want me a time machine. Plus, who doesn't like Brian Dubin?
5. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind While I still don't completely believe Jim Carrey as anything other than Jim Carrey, it does get easier each time he tries to act. With a Charlie Kaufman script that could come from Kurt Vonnegut, and some stylish direction from Gondry (the dude who did that White Stripes LEGO video), you have a good ol' head-scratcher here. A warning about technology? A commentary on the weakness of the human condition? Or a "love will triumph all" statement? I think it's positive, but Rachel argues otherwise.
6. Supersize Me What the fuck? You mean McDonald's is bad for me? I had no clue. Ha. But then, there are some people who do have no clue. Of course, they're not the ones who will see this documentary. These people live mostly in the Red States where the Right has effectively dismantled education. Spurlock is a lovable guy (even if his old lady needs to loosen it up a bit), and anyone willing to do to themselves what he did for this movie deserves an award. Great concept! I want to see more of this type of documentary. Maybe a "I will furnish my entire home in stuff bought by Wal-Mart. Let's see how shitty it looks when I'm done" thing. Ha.
7. Control Room What Fox News is to Christians, Al Jazeera is to Muslims. Period.
After watching this I feel compelled to say that I am so fucking sorry. I am so sorry to all the Iraqis killed, maimed, slaughtered by bombs and bullets made using my tax dollars. And I'm so fucking sorry to anyone in our military who has been wounded, killed or captured as a result of this government sending them to invade a country with did not attack us. Only movie to make me cry this year.
8. The Station Agent If only every independent movie was as charming as this...
9. Saved About as critical as you can get of Christians these days without having them arrange some sort of boycott/letter writing campaign. Wait... they did that to this movie too... Oh, those poor, persecuted Christians. Whatw as the box office like for Passion of the Christ again? Whatever.
10. Outfoxed/Unprecedented/Uncovered/Bush's Brain/Bush Family Fortunes If corporate news wasn't the tool of the right, if it wasn't a propaganda device for the Bush Administration, these "documentaries" would be TV news specials. Instead you gotta buy/rent the DVDs. None of this should be surprising to anyone, but sadly, it's all very shocking.
-------------- BEST MOVIES OF 2000 by Chris Iseli
1. Kill Bill, Vol. 2 I'll admit it: When I saw Volume 1, I thought Quentin Tarantino had lost it completely. But then Volume 2 came along and everything made sense again. From a magpie's collection of snippets from old kung fu and samurai movies, spaghetti westerns, '70s action flicks, and god-knows-what-all-else, Tarantino managed somehow to assemble something completely original and new: a modern American epic, not only about revenge (as it first appeared), but also about love, motherhood, and the deep human bonds that exist among the members of even the most unorthodox kinds of family. The magpie deserves your respect.
2. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou It's odd: The more stylized Wes Anderson gets in his movies (and this movie, set less in reality than in a cinematic playground entirely of Anderson's imagination, couldn't be much more stylized), the closer he seems to be able to come to the heart of the real emotions with which he concerns himself. Bill Murray, as the titular subject of this subaqueous (and subtly rewarding) journey to the depths of one man's existential melancholy, continues to stake his claim as one of the greatest actors of all time. And how can you not love Seu Jorge's bullshit Portuguese renditions of all those Bowie classics?
3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Any attempt at getting into all that's great about this movie would go on for pages, so I'll just say 1. in the unimaginably inventive director Michel Gondry, Charlie Kaufman has found an even more perfect partner in crime than Spike Jonze; 2. the fact that Kate Winslet won't get an Oscar (much less a nomination, I'd guess) for her shattering performance in this film is a crime nearly as heinous as Bill Murray's not winning for Lost in Translation last year; and 3. more movies featuring Kirsten Dunst jumping on beds in her underwear, please.
4. Before Sunset In one 90-minute walking conversation on the streets of Paris, Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, and Julie Delpy get at more of the elusive truths about the conflicting demands of love and life in the real world than many directors and actors do over entire careers. Beautiful, genuinely affecting, and heartbreakingly real.
5. The Five Obstructions The notorious nihilist and misanthrope Lars von Trier plays a game of creative cat and mouse with his mentor, Jorgen Leth, forcing the great (and deeply humane) old director to remake one of his short films five times under a series of ridiculously stringent restrictions in an attempt to find Leth's human flaws and use them to break him. Leth more than rises to the challenge; the films are gorgeous, and rather than revealing his flaws, The Five Obstructions achieves the altogether more daunting task of revealing von Trier's heart and humanity. The cumulative result is stirring, inspiring, and transcendent like few other films I've seen.
6. Control Room Though overshadowed by the hype about Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, Jehane Noujaim's documentary about Al-Jazeera's coverage of the Iraq war was actually the more towering achievement. Its genuinely fair and balanced portrayal of the various mindsets and perspectives at play in that region of the world won't tell you everything you need to know about the real clash of cultures going on there, but it provides an indispensable introduction to and overview of the tragedy that everyone should have seen coming. Would that anyone in the Bush administration had paid as close attention.
7. Hero Despite the troubling conclusion it reaches, Zhang Yimou's epic meditation on nationalism, honor, love, and self-sacrifice is as stunning, graceful, and hard to shake as the most vivid of dreams.
8. I'll Sleep When I'm Dead Croupier director Mike Hodges and lead actor Clive Owen reunite to redefine noir in a harrowing trip through one manís personal hell by way of the grimy back alleys of the London underworld. Hodges has the guts to make you work for the film's considerable rewards; Owen has the soul to anchor the film in palpable human emotion. I'll Sleep When I'm Dead is a cinematic depth charge; you may not register its effects immediately, but you'll still be feeling the aftershocks long after it goes off.
9. Napoleon Dynamite 'Follow your heart -- it's what I do,' says the man hisself in this wholly original and screamingly funny deadpan take on life in literally the middle of nowhere. It's sweet in every sense of the word.
10. The Saddest Music in the World/I Heart Huckabees/Coffee and Cigarettes Three mad geniuses and their once-in-a-lifetime ensemble casts swing for the fences, and though they all miss by a few feet, the resulting flawed masterpieces demonstrate how thrillingly, glitteringly, gleefully alive movies can be when their makers say, 'Fuck it all, let's go for it.' Surrender to them and enjoy the ride.
Very honorable mentions: Sideways, The Incredibles, Spider-Man 2, Maria Full of Grace, Primer, Dodgeball, Anchorman, Riding Giants, Dawn of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead
-------------- BEST 10 MOVIES by Josh Slates
1. Oldboy (Chan-Wook Park, Korea) The most dastardly and business-minded film noir of the 21st Century. Instantly compared to Kafka by people who have heard the gist of it but haven't yet seen it. A drunken salaryman emerges from fifteen years of mysterious imprisonment to exact revenge upon an army of henchmen -- armed only with a hammer, a hankering for live octopus and a crush on a sushi chef who inadvertently holds his fate in her slinky hands.
2. Haute Tension (Alexandre Aja, France) The most nonsensical and derivative slasher film of the year and also the most aggressively effective. A master's thesis-style dissertation on the sub-genre and a must for anyone who has ever wondered aloud, "I've always wanted to see someone decapitated by an antique bookcase."
3. Kill Bill, Vol. 2 (Quentin Tarantino, USA) It's okay to love Tarantino again -- I think. Mike White might disagree. A friend of mine likes to keep things in perspective by reminding everyone that Quentin once played second fiddle to the SmartBeep girl during an appearance on The Late Late Show with Tom Snyder.
4. Team America: World Police (Trey Parker, USA) Fuck yeah! Lots of wit and invention, all seemingly on loan from this current season of South Park -- I'll let it slide this time, it was worth it all for Lease: The Musical. The myth that this film extols a conservative bias is proof that donkeys have become even more humorless than elephants. I bet even Karl Rove at least giggles himself to sleep every night.
5. Nobody Knows (Kore-eda Hirokazu, Japan) So I cried. So what? Quit looking at me. Opens February 2005 in New York.
6. 2046 (Wong Kar-Wai, Hong Kong) I sincerely believe that pure audience anticipation killed this one. Some moviegoers seem begrudged to even admit that they enjoyed it, as if to do so would encourage Wong Kar-Wai's rampant megalomania and reputation as an international "enfant terrible" -- well, at least it's finished. Next up: Encino Man!
7. Bad Education (Pedro Almodovar, Spain) Classic if minor Almodovar elevated to operatic heights by the pure fury of the director's tongue for film language -- apparently, the equally furious tongue of star Gael Garcia Bernal also landed the film an NC-17 rating here in the states.
8. House Of Flying Daggers (Zhang Yimou, China) Those crazy beans -- they'll get you every time! Action choreographer Ching Siu-Tung was asked to reminisce upon his experiences working on the film. He replied, "lots of people got injured."
9. Dumplings (Fruit Chan, Hong Kong) Refreshingly, unlike many other films featuring mysterious premises -- let's just say, Soylent Green -- Dumplings doesn't have any interest in dicking around for an hour and a half so that you can maybe decipher the secret of the dumplings. Bai Ling stars in what Variety magazine describes as a "trashy, splay-legged, betel nut-chewing" performance as a Mainlander abortionist. Comedienne Miriam Yeung proves to be competent in her first dramatic performance -- what, was the Earth supposed to shake or something?
10. Tick (Meg McCarville, USA) Consumer video comes to the punk-rock underground of Chicago and produces this unforgettable epic. The director also stars as a junkie who attempts to conceive a child in her efforts to land on the short list for public-assistance methadone -- and the whole of the Windy City indie-rock scene is the potential seed. If this was blown up to 35mm and shown at any major international film festival, Harmony Korine would weep and retire.
-------------- TEN FILMS I SAW ON THE BIG SCREEN IN 2004, AND WHY I SAW THEM by Scott Wallace Brown
In roughly chronological order.
1. The Saddest Music In The World ... because Vaseline on the lens of a Super-8 camera makes for a good movie every time!
2. De-Lovely ... because my friends from North Carolina were in town and I wanted them to see a movie at the historic Senator Theater. Oh, yeah, and the whole Cole Porter thing.
3. Coffee and Cigarettes ... because Jack White is in it, and he produced the new Loretta Lynn album.
4. Supersize Me ... because my French teacher wanted to go.
5. Bright Young Things ... because my ex-girlfriend wanted to go.
6. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow ... because I knew it would look great on the big screen at the Bengies.
7. Shark Tale ... because it was playing right after Sky Captain at the Bengies.
8. Hero ... because Maggie Cheung is in it (I saw it twice just for her).
9. Shaun Of The Dead ... because it's a horror movie set largely in a bar, thereby combining two of my main interests.
10. I Heart Huckabees ... because it was simultaneously recommended and reviled, and that's often a good sign.
-------------- MY FAVORITE FILMS by Joe Tropea
1. Palindromes Todd Solondz does it again! Aviva, age 12, wants more than anything to have a baby. Then she meets some Jesuspeople who really fuck up her life. Surreal, possibly mean spirited, Bunuel-esque fun.
2. The Corporation Excellent documentary about corporations, exploitations and insanity.
3. Open Water This one stuck with me for a while. A scary, creepy movie about some yuppies and some sharks that all get what they deserve.
4. Mondovino Best documentary about wine I've ever seen. Robert Mondovi has homogenized the wine industry with the help of chemists, PR agents and a Republican dick from Maryland - but a few independent winemakers around the world are resisting his Californication. Did you know that the world's most powerful wine critic lives in Monkton?
5. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised Regardless of how you feel about Chavez, itís an interesting love story concerning some crude oil and the country that loves it.
6. Keane The new film by Lodge Kerrigan (Clean Shaven, Claire Dolan), a character study of a man going insane in NYC. And if you've driven to New York lately, you'll know why.
7. Napoleon Dynamite Dork: the other white meat.
8. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Reminded me of back when I used to have feelings.
9. Fahrenheit 911 Not by any means a great film - but great sentiments inspired it, and it was still better than most of the shit that hit theaters this year.
-------------- TOP 20 FILMS by Michael Tully
1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 2. Metallica: Some Kind of Monster 3. Before Sunset 4. Control Room 5. Vera Drake 6. The Return 7. I (Heart) Huckabees 8. Tarnation 9. The Motorcycle Diaries 10. Napoleon Dynamite 11. The Five Obstructions 12. Sideways 13. House of Flying Daggers 14. Dig! 15. Undertow 16. Moolaade 17. Super Size Me 18. Million Dollar Baby 19. Elf 20. The Aviator
Best Undistributed Film: Keane Honorable Mention: Twentynine Palms, Bukowski: Born Into This, Saved, Persons of Interest, Bad Education, The Brown Bunny, Notre Musique, Maria Full of Grace Kinda Sorta Honorable Mention: Code 46, Friday Night Lights, Mean Girls, Miracle, Kill Bill Vol. 2, Broken Lizard's Club Dread Did Not See That I Wish I Had And Eventually Will: Birth, Bright Leaves, Time of the Wolf, Distant, A Very Long Engagement, Goodbye Dragon Inn, The Incredibles, Primer, Mean Creek, Hotel Rwanda
-------------- TOP 5 MOVIES by Neil Eber
1. Dawn of the Dead This remake was the bomb. I ruined a perfectly good pair of boxers on this scary-ass movie. Great cast, great action, great effects. Add 3 bucks to the rental fee for the underwear which you will inevitably need to purchase. If watching at a friends house, be sure to pack an extra pair of underwear.
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Great movie. My underwear was re-wearable.
3. A Dirty Shame My seventh grade-self emerged and thanked my adult-self for taking him. He also suggested that I mention my underwear more often than not.
4. Fog of War Man, I wish McNamara figured this shit out 30 years ago.
5. Saved This one delivered the goods....ON TIME!
-------------- TOP MOVIES by Jamie Watson
I really only saw 3 movies that I really liked this year, if you can't count City of God, which actually came out in 2003.
1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. 2. Fahrenheit 9/11 3. Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
But Garden State was OK, as was I Heart Huckabees.
-------------- TOP MOVIE OF 2004 by Vicki Brown
-------------- TOP 10 MOVIES I WANTED TO SEE BUT HAVEN'T YET (MANY BECAUSE WE LIVE IN A BACKWATER MARKET AND THEY DIDN'T OPEN HERE IN 2004) WHICH, HAD I SEEN THEM, MAY VERY WELL HAVE BUMPED SOME OF THE MOVIES IN MY OTHER TOP 10 LIST FROM THEIR PLACES by Chris Iseli
1. Bad Education 2. House of Flying Daggers 3. Hotel Rwanda 4. The Sea Inside 5. The Assassination of Richard Nixon 6. Million-Dollar Baby 7. Tarnation 8. Intimate Strangers 9. Vera Drake 10. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter And Spring
-------------- TOP MOVIES by Steve Ashby
The top movies tends to be a little easier, as I tend to see less new movies each year. Again, I'm eschewing a list format since it implies a comparison, that one may be better than another simply because it has a different number.
2004 brought us Michael Moore's latest offering, the "documentary" Fahrenheit 911. For all of its political trappings and its smack-over-the-head-with-a-ball-peen-hammer proselytization, it was an entertaining film to watch. Moore's ability to cut and paste footage with his own self-aggrandizing scenes and monologues can easily make you laugh, even if it is laughing a bit uncomfortably at times. While I don't wholeheartedly swallow his doctrine, his films are entertaining, and this one is no exception.
My vote for best of the lot is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Written by Charlie Kaufman, this film has everything I love: a smart but simple plot, a not-so-overly sweet love story, a quirky situation, and an actor I usually can't stand in a role that suits him (Jim Carrey). It has Elijah Wood in a departure from the empathetic Frodo, playing a less than ethical mind eraser who sleazily starts sleeping with one of his patients. It has David Cross in a bit part, and it has Jane Adams, who I've had a crush on since Happiness came out. So there's no doubt here this would make it onto my list.
Another smart film on the list would be Dogville. More of a play than a movie, this film could have been drowned out by the unusual set (a sound stage with props and drawings on the ground where buildings would be), by the ensemble cast including Phillip Baker Hall, Lauren Bacall and James Caan, or by dialog that seems more fitting a play than a movie. But the story is compelling and moves you deeper into this tiny mining town, and the movie succeeds because of it. It's not a feel good movie by any means, but a movie doesn't have to make you feel good to be good.
Also good was Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but not as good as it could have been. That might have been a shortcoming in the translation, or in the book itself (it seems more than the previous two to lead into the next movie, where the others tended to be more self-contained), but that's the nature of converting a book to film and we shouldn't judge the translator too harshly because of it. Overall, an enjoyable film and I look forward to the next installment.
And Coffee and Cigarettes was a good contribution by Jim Jarmusch, even if he does need an editor badly.
Finally, the haven't seen yet but sure are good group. This includes Hero, which I missed in the theaters. It also includes the Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, if only for the Jacques Cousteau meets Jaws by way of Animal House aspect. And Sideways seems to be an interesting road trip movie, replacing the typical pub crawl with wine tasting.
So there you have it. Brief, yes, but I can only work with the materials in front of me.
-------------- BIGGEST BULLSHIT MOVIE OF 2004 by Benn Ray
The Incredibles This is primarily a kid's movie, right? I mean sure, it has stuff for an older audience to enjoy, but it was packaged up and sold to kids. As such, I have to look at the movie's message (wholly undemocratic by the way) - you know, what it teaches the kids, and this movie is bullshit.
This is the most "pro-Republican bullshit that no one else seems to have picked up on" of a film I've seen.
First let's start with the animated short feature. You have this sheep, and he's all happy, dancing around and showing off/entertaining his friends. Then along comes THE MAN. The Man takes the sheep and shears him, leaving him naked and embarrassed in front of all the other animals. The Man is exploiting this animal. Enter the Great American Jackalope, straight outta Texas to help. Does he tell the sheep how to prevent The Man from exploiting him? No. Does he help the animals get together and stop The Man or at least force him to pay a fair wage for the wool... like maybe some fucking food would be nice. Nope. He teaches the sheep to take it and be happy about it.
Now, as for The Incredibles, okay the animation was good. But that does not excuse the fact that the plot swiped from basically ever DC Comics Summer Event Crossover of the 1980s (not to mention the blatant Marvel, Fantastic Four swipes).
In the movie, superheroes have to quit the biz, victims of frivolous lawsuits - a Republican issue being used today to limit victims' rights. So Mr. Incredible (similar in name to Mr. Fantastic, by the way), has to get a job like everyone else. Here we're supposed to pity him, having to schlub away in a cubicle with an asshole for a boss like everyone else in America. Finally, a kid he arrogantly treats like shit when he was a hero comes back to cause him trouble, and the movie takes off. Never once do you get the sense that the superheroes crime-fighting desire is more about the greater good than it is about them enjoying it - their entitlement. By the end we learn the moral, scripted for every kid whose nanny took 'em from the safety of their gated community in a secure Hummer to see the movie in a theater, it's okay to be better than everyone else. Just try to be a little humble about it. Not much, but just humble enough to not have the masses notice you and do something about it.
The Incredibles is pure Wing-Nut, Neo-Con propaganda. Fuck it.
-------------- TOP 2 OVERPRAISED AND UNDERIMPRESSIVE MOVIES THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN UNMITIGATED DISAPPOINTMENTS WERE IT NOT FOR NATALIE PORTMAN'S BURGEONING WILLINGNESS, NOW THAT SHE'S OLD ENOUGH FOR IT TO BE OKAY TO THINK SHE'S HOT, TO APPEAR IN MORE, SHALL WE SAY, "REVEALING" ROLES by Chris Iseli
1. Closer 2. Garden State
-------------- WORST FILMS by Michael Tully
1. My Baby's Daddy 2. Tie: When Will I Be Loved/P.S. 4. Garfield 5. Wimbledon 6. Anacondas: The Hunt For The Blood Orchid
-------------- WORST 5 MOVIES by Neil Eber
1. Spartan A mess. A lot like my underwear after Dawn of My Dead.
2. Godsend Unnecessary.
3. Closer Rent Your Friend and Neighbors. It's better.
4. Demonlover It played itself.
5. Butterfly Effect "Yo! I done just went back in time and solved the problem concerning your legs.... Oh shit dawg, what happened to your arms??!!" Repeat. Play.
-------------- THE TULLIES by Michael Tully
Most Mentally Retarded Movie In The History of Human Existence: The Village Most Pointless Endeavor (Tie): Collateral and Ocean's Twelve Most Juvenile Effort: Closer So Audacious It's Genius: Twentynine Palms So Audacious It's Idiotic: Dogville Biggest Misfire: It's All About Love Biggest Waste of a Brave Performance: Christian Bale in The Machinist Close But Not Quite: Garden State Best Opening Credits Sequence: Undertow Best First Half Hour: The Brown Bunny Best Scene (Tie): Dinner Table in I (Heart) Huckabees and Rza/Gza/Bill Murray in Coffee & Cigarettes Best Moment (Tie): When It Starts to Rain Inside in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and When Hilary Swank Sees The Pretty Little Girl (Clint's Daughter) at the Gas Station in MillionDollarBaby Most Entertaining Matinee Garbage: The Day After Tomorrow So Preposterous It Was Hilarious (Tie): Wicker Park and The Butterfly Effect Best Director: Martin Scorsese, The Aviator Best Actor: Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby Best Actress: Imelda Staunton, Vera Drake Best Supporting Actor: Mark Wahlberg, I (Heart) Huckabees Best Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett, The Aviator Best Screenplay: Charlie Kaufman, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Best Cinematography: Robert Richardson, The Aviator Best Score: Jon Brion, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
-------------- MOVING PICTURES: TELEVION AND FILM by Joe Rybandt
FREAKS AND GEEKS SET The best show about my childhood era, ever. What a great, timeless set that will act as a time capsule for future generations.
DA ALI G SHOW Borat is my favorite character of Cohen's, but those roundtables with Ali G are wonderful painful.. in a funny and brilliant way.
DEADWOOD I sported a mustache for a few months in homage to this brilliant, compelling western. Montana's dreamy.
THE WIRE I know everyone's down because they may not bring this back, but going out on this, the strongest season, is ok by me.
THE INCREDIBLES God bless Pixar.
DAWN OF THE DEAD An actual smart remake that is a 100 times better than the original, which has not aged well at all.
HERO A stunning film that provides all action, and none of the more boring elements that crippled Couching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
SUPERSIZE ME Stop eating it, its bad for you already!
FAHRENHEIT 9/11 Denying the scope and power of this film (not to mention the reasonable doubt it creates) is just plain partisan, and just plain stupid.
DOGVILLE A real endurance test, but one that actually pays off.
ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND The smartest film of the year.
THE STATION AGENT A quiet film that almost hits all its high notes.
LOST My new favorite network show (everyone should have at least one) that has me anxiously awaiting each new episode.
GARDEN STATE The film tries a little too hard, but ends up a sweet, funny romantic comedy with a near-perfect ending.
OPEN WATER This deserves most of the hype, particularly for the ending which I for one, didn't see coming.
-------------- BEST TV SHOWS by Benn Ray
1. The Daily Show With Jon Stewart (Comedy Central) Because if I couldn't laugh at the nightmare my country has become, I would surely go crazy.
2. The Wire (HBO) Epic. Relevant Smart. Where the Sopranos relies on stereotypes, The Wire destroys them. No other show on TV has a cast this book or moves like the Wire. Most likely too smart for TV.
3. Deadwood (HBO) It's all about the facial hair. Plus, this show is directly responsible for resurrecting the word "cocksucker" in my vocabulary. Dreary, ugly, bleak, and it's a western. Shit yeah!
4. Frontline (PBS) Kind of like 60 Minutes, but without all the bullshit. Also without creepy Mike Wallace or what passes for wit from that Rooney fella with the eyebrows. I catch myself often saying, "What? No way!" when watching Frontline. Most episodes are available online too.
5. Celebrity Showdown Poker (Bravo) Who knew that watching celebrities play poker could be so entertaining. With Dave Foley's commentary, "Well, that just goes to show ya, there is no God" to the players themselves, this is loaded with humor and drama. This show actually made me like Kevin Nealon, a comedian I have loathed for years. Maybe I was wrong about him. I dunno.
6. Lost (ABC) Kind of like Twilight Zone meets X-Files meets Gilligan Island meets Jurassic Park meets Fantasy Island. Plus it's got a junkie hobbit.
7. Adult Swim (Cartoon Network) When they're not rerunning network leftovers like the terrible Family Guy or the tired Futurama, this is some great cartoon TV for grownups. Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Sealab 2021, Home Movies, Harvey Birdman, Attorney-At-Law, The Brak Show, and The Venture Bros. are all funny.
8. The Regency House Party (BBC) Kind of like a history lesson that passes itself off as a singles dating game/reality show. 9. Da Ali G Show (HBO) The prank-y element of this show is very satisfying. The stupid controversy it stirs up makes it even more likable.
10. Wonderfalls (FOX) Smart-assy chick works in a giftshop outside at Niagra Falls. In itself, a promising premise, but it gets even more complicated when the items of the giftshop start telling her to do things... Sorta like a Gen-X Joan of Arc, but not so God-y.
-------------- 9 TV SHOWS AND 1 MOVIE by Bill Sebring
Laguna Beach (MTV) Reality verite; the perfect docudrama, required viewing for budding sociologists.
24 (Fox) Pulp of the highest order.
The Amazing Race (CBS) Eminently watchable.
Lost (ABC) Evangeline Lilly parading about in her knickers; sheer genius.
Six Feet Under (HBO) The best drama on television, perhaps the best of all time: a brilliant cast and brilliantly written. A melodrama about the family that works, and one that rings true. (Little-noticed: a virtually kid-free family, making it friendly for the childless urbanite.)
Pimp My Ride (MTV) A radical new idea for reality TV: make the contestant unbelievably happy without embarrassing them!
Network design at MTV and VH1. The only corporate branding on the airwaves that's both good and comprehensive.
Hardball with Chris Matthews (MSNBC) I love John Stewart as much as everyone else does, but Matthews was the go-to guy for the 2004 election. Crazy - from going after Zell Miller to hammering Jerry Falwell to slapping down the Swifties - and passionate (marathon convention coverage on everything under the sun).
The Apprentice (NBC) Why did it take so long to put the workplace under the lights? Reality and surreality (Trump's mane, natch).
Napoleon Dynamite (Fox Searchlight) Sweet; ligers and mad skills.
-------------- TOP TV SHOWS by JoAnne Schmitz
I'm heavy on the premium cable, and the crime shows, so sue me.
Local news Local news is a training ground. People in training make mistakes. We get to see them every night on the local news. Heh heh. Even the pros provide some amusement as we are called to wonder who will warm up and shovel out Miss Mary Ann's car at the first snow. Special guest star award goes to the guy in Fells Point on Halloween eve ostentatiously and lasciviously playing with his nipple, unnoticed by not only the newscaster (who had her back to him) but also by the cameraman who did not zoom or pan to remove him from frame. Did someone lose his/her job over this one, I wonder?
The Daily Show Why do more young people get their political news from this show than the regular news shows? Because they can. Let's hope Jon Stewart doesn't go Dennis Miller because we'd have to kill him.
The Wire Anything that simultaneously employs local people and ticks off local politicians can't be all bad. They weren't afraid to kill a popular main character because that's the kind of thing that happens to people like him. Plus my husband's jazz group does a killer version of the theme (Phil Cunneff Monday nights at the Cat's Eye doing "Way Down In The Hole," I'm just sayin').
Street Time Maybe the best show on TV you've never even heard of. Showtime's series clinched the only part of the legal system that the Law&Order franchise apparently hasn't thought of -- Parole. You do not want to miss the tight-as-coiled-spring performance of Erika Alexander as Dee Mulhern.
CSI (the original) It could be renamed "Freak of the Week" (thanks Miss Sarah). The mystery isn't so much whodunit, as it is which sexual flavor of the week will be featured. This is the closest network TV gets to Real Sex.
Wire in the Blood Nice chemistry between the two main characters. And I can't tell if they used Front 242 or a soundalike for incidental music in a couple of their episodes, but it doesn't matter, either one puts them in the plus column.
Bullshit If you want to see stuff like people with snails crawling on their faces and saying how good it feels because they think it's got some kind of new age cred, then watch this killer Penn&Teller series on Showtime. Part of what makes this fresh is that the blame is not laid so much on the sheep as on the bad shepherds, who generally know better.
Deadwood Yeah, it bends the facts quite a bit, but it wins a place on the list just for the physically filthy Swearengen's exasperated exhortations such as, "get the whores fuckin!"
Six Feet Under Uneven, sure. Teetering between banality and profundity. But I dare you to name any show beyond first season that doesn't fall into soap opera. Yet it still manages to not make the obvious moves time after time. From Claire not being the typical "drug problem person" to David's carjacking with fun fantasy elements to Brenda's repeated attempts to have a normal relationship with her mother, nothing is what it "should" be, nothing is ended with a flourish or a statement, people go on being and doing and trying rather than failing and succeeding. We are what we are.
West Wing Award for "Best Recovery" There was a period of time (after Aaron Sorkin left) when it suddenly seemed it should be called "Right Wing" -- all the humor was gone, liberals were saying stupid shit, and everyone was being all emotional and yelling instead of intensely rational and talking. Somehow, miraculously, it regained its footing and its vocabulary.
-------------- TOP TV SHOW by Vicki Brown
That 70s show
(unless you have cable, which I don't)
-------------- 10 VIDEO GAMING TITLES THAT I ENJOYED by Joe Kang
1.Doom3 (id Software, PC) Essentially a rehash of the original Doom games with amazingly redone graphics. While it did not bring anything new to the FPS (First Person Shooter) gaming genre, it was very and did its job of scaring the pants off me. I found I could only play this game for 20 minutes or so at a time before the anxiety of playing it got to me. Ha!
2. MVP Baseball 2004 (Electronic Arts, PS2) Available for all three consoles (PS2, Xbox, and Gamecube) as well as PC, MVP Baseball effectively came out of nowhere in 2003 after EA scrapped its much reviled "Triple Play" baseball series. A new game from the ground up, the pitching mechanics of the game made fans out of a lot of people and EA managed to compete with Sega's (now ESPN) World Series Baseball 2K series for best of honors. The 2004 edition saw tweaks to the gameplay system. The most dramatic change was to the franchise mode for this game. EA made it DEEP. Giving players the options of playing actual games for each MLB teams respective AA and AAA teams as well. There were some minor bugs to player progression and Xbox owners were locked out of getting any sort online roster updates from EA because EA titles weren't available over the Xbox Live service at the time. But, overall, the game continued to be the best MLB title.
3. Madden NFL 2005 (Electronic Arts, PS2) The king of the mountain in terms of NFL video game titles. It saw some very heated competition from the ESPN NFL title due to a retail price that was half of the EA title and a first-person mode of play.Madden 2005 continued to be the pacesetter for NFL titles because of the Playmaker feature.
4. Burnout 3: Takedown (Electronic Arts, Xbox) An arcade racing game where the goal of racing is not only to come in first but to also create the most amount of damage and havoc possible in the course of running a race. Addictive.
5. Full Spectrum Warrior (THQ, Xbox) A squad-based military game that was based on a version commissioned by the U.S. Army to train troops in urban combat situations. The game was short, but the gameplay mechanics were enjoyable.† The control layout was well thought out which helped. Not as deep a simulation as the Tom Clancy "Rainbow 6" series of titles are but that made it much easier to pick up and enjoy. 6. Ninja Gaiden (Tecmo, Xbox) An update to the arcade title from the 80s.† Visually gorgeous and ridiculously difficult sums up this game.† But, the difficulty won't frustrate you to the point of giving up on the game.† It pushes you. Also not to be missed are the downloadable updates via Xbox Live for this title.
7. Baten Kaitos (Namco, GameCube) A role playing game (RPG) from Japan. The biggest twist to the RPG formula is the use of cards (in the game) to handle attack, defense, etc. versus accumulating weapons, spells, etc. Interesting twist on the formula.
8. Fight Night 2004 (Electronic Arts, Xbox) Boxing on video game systems has been a button pushing (or mashing depending on skill) affair. Players used the d-pad or joystick to move their fighter around the circle while utilizing button presses to choose between various types of punches. EA did one better by implementing the use of the right analog stick on the consoles to dictate which punches were thrown. Ingenious change in control made this a very fun game. Graphics were top notch (especially the damage done to boxers' faces as a fight progressed).
Well, I guess there will only be 8 games as that's about all that I played this past year (released this past year) that I would bother to recommend.
AQUARIUS: It is decidedly so. PISCES: Cannot predict now. ARIES: Outlook not so good. TAURUS: Most likely. GEMINI: As I see it, yes. CANCER: Yes, definitely. LEO: You may rely on it. VIRGO: Ask again later. LIBRA: It is certain. SCORPIO: It is certain. SAGITTARIUS: My reply is no. CAPRICORN: Outlook good.
OK, YOU'RE ABOUT TO CALL SOMEONE A NAME. YOU'RE ABOUT TO CALL SOMEONE EITHER A "DICK" OR AN "ASSHOLE." IN THIS CONTEXT, WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DICK AND ASSHOLE?
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They tell you a lot of things when you quit smoking.
I've found that since I quit smoking almost 2 years ago, most of it is bullshit.
They say that you'll be better winded. But I don't find running up and down the stairs any easier.
They say that food will taste better. Everything pretty much tastes the same.
But the one thing they say that I have found to be true is that your sense of smell gets better.
Since I've quit smoking, my sense of smell has improved 100%, and you know what I've discovered? Everything fucking stinks.
Out of all your senses, smell is the one sense you do not want to improve, especially if you live in a city like Baltimore. Sure, I'd love food to taste better. I'd love to be able to eavesdrop from from 2 tables away. I'd like to be able to see further, and I wouldn't mind a little more skin sensitivity if you know what I'm sayin'. Out of the five options to improve one of my senses, what do I get? Better smell? What the fuck?!!!
I can smell cigarettes from around the block and with surprising accuracy, I can even identify the brand.
I can smell cigarettes. At a red light. 3 cars up. With windows closed. In both vehicles.
I can smell my deodorant wear off about halfway through the day so that if we go out after work, I spend the rest of the night apologizing for smelling like a sub when no one else seems to notice (or maybe they're just being polite with their "you're crazy/drunk" looks).
Last week, we decided to have breakfast at The Blue Moon over in Fells Point. Arguably one of the best breakfasts in Baltimore (unfortunately, there are only about 8 tables), I was looking forward to some sweet deliciosity.
We were seated and I noticed a whiff. It smelled like bathroom. It smelled like Mt. Royal Tavern bathroom to be precise. There was no way we could ask to be seated at another table, there was a 45 minute to an hour wait at this point. I excused myself to the bathroom to check out what was going on, but the bathroom was smelling fresh. It smelled better than our table.
Finally, we were able to determine (Rachel, who also has a pretty sharp nose, could catch a whiff every so often) that it was coming from the basement. Something evil lives in the basement of The Blue Moon Cafe, and I could smell it like it was on the plate in front of me. Kinda made for a lame breakfast.
I smell a lot of things I wish I couldn't, but the one thing I smell the most... butts. A lot of people smell like ass.