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 (from movies and music to
TV and other more, um, esoteric lists).
This is collection of lists for FILM & TV FOR 2007. It focuses on TOP MOVIES, TV SHOWS, DVD RELEASES lists.
***TOP MOVIES OF 2007****************** by Benn Ray
I actually got off my ass and saw some movies this year. Sadly, most of what I saw was big dumb Hollywood blockbuster flicks. But at least I saw more movies. Is that a good thing?
1. GRINDHOUSE A movie that was literally smarter than many of the people who went to see it (hence it's lack of box office success). Audience complaints about missing reels and the crappy conditions of copies abound. When I was a kid I was more of a fan of the genre Rodriguez tackles, while my father (who I'd most likely be watching such movies with) was more of a fan of the genre Tarantino hits. This reversed all of that for me, and I could finally see the excitement of a car chase movie (while still very much enjoying the Rodriguez portion of the movie). These films are very smart gift to movie geeks.
2. THE HOST Wow. A modern monster movie with a point of view. I can't remember when I've seen a monster movie this good (and that goes for you too, Jaws).
3. ZODIAC Oh Fincher. His meticulous film making is on display here in all its glory, although he starts to unspool about 3/4s of the way through.
4. I LKE KILLING FLIES Officially, this documentary about the quirky and legendary New York diner Shopsin's facing gentrification came out in theaters in 2006, but we never saw it come around. We finally just now were able to see it (thanks to Scott Wallace Brown at Video Americain who got in a copy for us - please go rent it). So we'll hedge 2008/2006 and call this a 2007 movie. Shopsin's philosophy of business/customer relations should be mandatory watching for both.
5. 3:10 TO YUMA Admittedly, the premise is as questionable as the ending, but a fresh look at the genre with excellent performances and urgent camera work. A great character study of 2 men.
6. RESCUE DAWN Werner Herzog. Jungles and mountains. Tortured actors. Another great character study. Also starring Christian Bale (who was in 3:10 To Yuma).
Utterly charming indie flick made all the more poignant with the tragic murder of writer/director/star Adrienne Shelley. Remarkable twilight performance from Andy Griffith and stellar acting all the way around. Plus, lots of pie.
9. HOT FUZZ Clint Eastwoodish gung-ho cop movies get the Shaun of the Dead treatment. Fun.
10. SUPERBAD A remarkably entertaining return to the teensploitation genre without, sadly, any of the "sploitation". And that Michael Cera kid is magic.
HONORABLE MENTION: JOHN WATERS: THIS FILTHY WORLD I wasn't sure what I was expecting by this film of John Waters touring lecture/stand-up, but I was utterly amazed and charmed by the wit, wisdom and common sense that comes from someone many call The Pope of Trash.
***WORST/MOST OFFENSIVE MOVIES OF 2007*************** by Benn Ray
1. 300 A brazen and shameless endorsement of Bush's failed foreign policy that happens to pass for a movie. "Oh, come on, you're reading to much into it," some are thinking? Oh yeah? Want to argue? THIS IS SPARTA! This is based on a graphic novel. The portions of the movie that were not from the graphic novel are the scenes in the Senate which shows anyone as not embracing the "fight them there so we don't have to fight them here" policy as corrupt, sniveling, spineless and traitorous (and not in a revealing the identity of an undercover agent in a time of war sort of way either). 300 is offensive. Oh, and Bush's "Surge" hasn't worked either.
2. JUNO On paper, Juno should by right up my alley. References to Kozyndan (they designed Juno's shirts), Tara McPherson (posters on Juno's walls), McSweeney's, Sonic Youth, The Stooges, The Melvins, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Daria Argento, etc... all set to a soundtrack by Kimya Dawson whose song, "Loose Lips" I picked as a favorite protest song a year or two ago in the Shank Year End Wrap Up. On top of that, that Michael Cera kid (he truly is magic), Jason Bateman, and good performances by Allison Janney and JK Simmons (although I have to add that as parents, their response to Juno's pregnancy was similar to how my parents would have responded had I told them I got a D on a quiz).
On top of that, it's a movie that wrestles with a tough issue: teen pregnancy. Too bad the whole toothless and insipid thing is based on mostly completely unbelievable characters (Juno talks and even literally sounds not like a 16 year old girl but the 16 year old girl a 35 year old hipster woman wishes she could have been), and is delivered in pat Hollywood ($87.1 million box office to date and counting) formula for "indie" film sort of way (like Little Miss Sunshine (very enjoyable) and Me And You And Everyone We Know (had its limited charms)). What's it mean when a fortysomething male cartoonist (Dan Clowes) can create a far more credible teen female (Enid in Ghost World) than this movie delivers? When Juno debates music with Jason Bateman (a very believable character - I know that guy) in his geek room about music and he admits to having been in a band, liking Sonic Youth and opening for the Melvins yet needs Juno to turn him on to The Stooges - it just does not ring true. You don't know the Melvins and Sonic Youth and not know The Stooges. It just doesn't happen.
The message to the movie that tackles teen pregnancy? It's okay to take a look at it as long as you make the right decision - which is having the baby (as is the case in Knocked Up, too). And all the better that it's a working class teen who's giving up her kid to the poor suffering upper class woman who is evidently married to a bad guy cuz he realizes, thanks to the "magic of Juno", he's a sell out whore and endeavors to change it. But at its core, Juno turns out to be little more than a standard romantic comedy about a woman who can't see the guy she truly loves has been right in front of her the whole time because of her own "issues".
Still don't believe me that Juno is little more than toothless, Hollywood formula Indy that was crafted to appear edgy without actually being edgy? Okay... remember my reference to that Kimya Dawson song, "Loose Lips"? Well, it rolls at the end of the movie. Except for one thing, the lines "and I'll say fuck Bush and fuck this war" were clumsily edited out of song for the movie.
So I asked Kimya about this and she said those lines were deleted "because it adds a current political context to an abstractly political film. jason reitman and i discussed it at length and decided that it would change the sentiment felt at the end of the film. he likes the whole song but wanted it in the credits for the celebratory chorus, not for my politics. it is the original version on the soundtrack though. not bad to have that lyric on the #8 album on the billboard chart!"
True. It's not bad. But how many more people would have heard that sentiment if she had left it in the film? Oh right, we didn't want to have a movie about teen pregnancy to have any reflection of current political context. Hm.
3. THE SIMPSONS MOVIE This movie was nothing more than a fleecing. The "Spider-Pig" thing was not that funny. And at the beginning of the movie... sigh... Look, just because Homer makes a joke about paying to see a crappy movie in the theaters that they can see for free on TV as a show and getting ripped off by it doesn't make it okay that that's exactly what the audience for The Simpons has done. Anyone who saw The Simpsons in the theater paid to see something they usually get for free on TV - a mediocre Simpsons episode. If you jump to the big screen, I want to hear language you can't hear on TV, I want celebrity cameos out the wazoo, and I want every character from the show to make an appearance (criteria which The Simpsons movie fails to meet on each count). Homer's preemptive strike of a joke does not negate the fleecing. It simply feels like Groening & Co is calling everyone in the audience a sucker. I was one of those suckers.
***IN STEAD OF BLANK I WISH I'D SEEN BLANK******** OR MY LIST OF SHAME by Benn Ray
1. Instead of Live Free Or Die Hard, I which I'd seen No Country For Old Men. 2. Instead of Ghost Rider, I wish I'd seen There Will Be Blood. 3. Instead of The Transformers, I wish I'd seen Lars & The Real Girl. 4. Instead of Fantastic 4: The Rise Of The Silver Surfer, I wish I'd seen The Savages. 5. Instead of Spider-Man 3, I wish I'd seen The Darjeeling Limited.
***TOP 10****************** by Josh Slates ( "4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days," whither thou already? In theaters and on-demand as of January 25th, apparently.)
1. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (USA; Joel & Ethan Coen) This movie, in terms of its mastery of film language and the complete precision of its construction, achieves something comparable to what the "Harmonic Convergence" promised but didn't deliver; brilliant minds working in creative concert with a note-perfect cast and crew.
2. THERE WILL BE BLOOD (USA; Paul Thomas Anderson) Orson Welles once said that Jess Franco would direct a film that would eclipse "Citizen Kane" in its greatness. I don't know, "The Perverse Countess" comes close.
3. ZODIAC (USA; David Fincher) A completely arresting procedural, one with a dizzying attention to the details of the case; Harris Savides delivers some of the best HD cinematography this side of Gokhan Tiryaki.
4. MICHAEL CLAYTON (USA; Tony Gilroy) Tilda Swinton's armpits face off against George Clooney's leading man handsomeness in a "legal thriller" about balls and guts. The film substitutes exploding cars for courtroom proceedings; the "legal thriller" sub-genre is at a point in its life cycle where I'm totally OK with this.
5. EASTERN PROMISES (UK / Canada; David Cronenberg) Lessons learned: you are born into the world and it is an icky, bloody struggle to survive against its cruelty; you leave the world, and it is an icky, bloody struggle with a naked Viggo Mortensen.
6. THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY (France / USA; Julian Schnabel) The first-person perspective is brilliant; thank you, Janusz Kaminski. It is certainly less barf-inducing than Jon Red's "ASTIGmatism."
7. THE SAVAGES (USA; Tamara Jenkins) Subj: two siblings forced to set aside their self-absorbed lives, care for their demented father and maybe learn a lesson or two. How to run with this premise is like a multiple choice test; I like that Ms. Jenkins opted for, let's say, "d) none of the above." There is enough honesty and candor in the comedy to balance out the expected melodrama to make for a movie that is all at once both strangely sweet and suffocating.
8. GRINDHOUSE (USA; Robert Rodriguez & Quentin Tarantino & Edgar Wright & Eli Roth & Rob Zombie) Much has been made of the Weinsteins' wisdom to release this one over the Easter holiday with a plaintively inept marketing campaign, but they still managed to get me out of the house on Easter Sunday and into the buffet line at Bill Bateman's by 11:00 AM in advance of an afternoon matinee at the Senator. You would find neither "Planet Terror" nor "Death Proof" on this list individually (even though they were both pretty awesome) because it was the whole anarchic, audience-unfriendly spirit of the enterprise and the uniqueness of the whole experience that made it so special (and, I suspect, such a financial disaster).
9. IMPORT EXPORT (Austria; Ulrich Seidl) No other modern filmmaker leaves me more feeling more disgusted with my common humanity than Ulrich Seidl. (Harmony Korine just leaves me feeling disgusted with myself.) His latest does not disappoint: an emotionally battered Ukranian nurse (and part-time webcam sex object) flees to Austria in search of a better life. Meanwhile, an Austrian subway punk accompanies his step-father on a vending route into the Ukraine, where drunken and dehumanizing hotel bar exploits unfold in a land where life is cheap; nobody learns a lesson and everyone walks away feeling angry. Ed Lachman's symmetrically precise cinematography is a beaut, especially given the torturous on-location filming conditions (winter in Austria and Ukraine).
10. BLIND MOUNTAIN (China; Li Yang) This year's super downer, an uneasy glimpse into forced, arranged marriages in the rural provinces of modern-day China. The Chinese government, which is seen here in all of its varied manifestations as a corrupt and incompetent institution, tried in vain to subject the film to a second round of cuts even after they had already cleared it for international viewing and release, no doubt due to its provocative final reel (hint: it features a meat cleaver).
Honorable Mention: A L'INTERIEUR ("Inside") (France; Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury) A ready-to-drop Alysson Paradis is terrorized by a scissor-wielding Beatrice Dalle in one of the most morally reprehensible overloads of graphic violence and depravity I've ever seen in a "mainstream" horror movie; I'm not fucking around, this movie is bonkers.
Best Documentary: THE KING OF KONG (USA; Seth Gordon) The Great American Tale of 2007. I never would have thought that I would venture into a theater during this movie year and emerge with a casual familiarity of the man who holds the all-time high score on the classic Namco video game "Mappy."
Best Documentary Short: MASTER OF REALITY (USA; Matthew Killip) A teenage Texas backyard-wrestling star, whose career hit its zenith in the early 1990's with an appearance on a John Stossel report on "20/20," reminisces of yesteryear from a lonely, dark and quiet projection booth at a Regal Cinemas in Nowhere Suburbia, USA. Does anyone know where to find this? (I'm looking at you, Henry Owings.)
Guilty Pleasure of the Year: BOARDING GATE (France; Olivier Assayas) Asia Argento (of course) stars as a shameless ex-prostitute who re-ignites a violent sado-masochistic relationship with a cocky financier (Michael Madsen, bien sur) for mysterious but probably troubling reasons. Argento is soon pursued across the Asian continent and through the streets of Hong Kong by an hired killer (Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, who displays an unconvincing grasp of the Cantonese language) and a corporate moll (Kelly Lin) whose preferred method of conflict resolution is drink spiking. When you couple all of that with a skull-rattling soundtrack comprised mostly of French house-music favorites, you get a thunderstorm in my pants.
And: BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD (USA; Sidney Lumet) Was that a nutty movie or what? Wow. Marisa Tomei won the Oscar for "My Cousin Vinny"; you never take the lil' guy home for the performance that truly deserves it.
***TOP MOVIES****************** by Jamie Watson
1. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN Probably the best movie I've seen in even a couple of years. Not ever having read Cormac McCarthy much (frankly, when I tried once before I found him dead boring) I was really unprepared for how much I'd like this. Beautifully filmed, brilliantly acted, suspenseful. I can't say enough about it, and it's the first movie I've seen in ages that I really wouldn't mind watching again less than a month later. And I probably will.
2. JUNO I was worried this would come off too precious and cute, but I loved it completely. Again, great acting and a great story and the Moldy Peaches music was a perfect fit. The previews also don't do justice to the real depth of the story, I cried a little and others around me were too. The hype about the screenplay is warranted too, it is legitimately funny and witty.
3. HOT FUZZ Freeze or the ginger kid gets it! HAHAHA. Still laughing at this one. Can't wait to see Simon Pegg in the Star Trek movie.
4. EASTERN PROMISES I have an Eastern European fetish and my friend has a Viggo Mortensen fetish so this was practically porn for us. Vincent Cassel - delicious!
5. SUPERBAD I think I would have liked this one more if I hadn't watched the dirty trailer online about 100 times. The first 50 times it was easily the most hilarious thing I'd ever seen.
***TOP MOVIES OF 2007****************** by Ilya Yablochnikov
1. THE LIVES OF OTHERS This movie made me cry. Powerful story of good and evil, betrayal and idealism.
2. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN Some of the most breathtaking action on screen this year. Unfortunately slows down a bit toward the end. Probably not quiet as deep as given credit for it is still very thought provoking.
3. MARGOT AT THE WEDDING Perfect encapsulation of indie aesthetics. Deals with typical Noah Baumbaugh concerns of dysfunctional families of intellectuals. Sometimes it's hard to watch people being so nasty to each other. Fine use of Jack Black.
4. FROWNLAND Shown at the Maryland Film Festival. A study in brown. Challenging (in the most direct sense) but ultimately rewarding. Quite funny in parts.
5. FIRST THURSDAYS AT BMA A monthly series of free films. Obscurities, classics and pure film-art.
6. PAN'S LABYRINTH Brutal. Perhaps doesn't stand up to later analysis but a great ride while it lasts.
7. THE PERFUME A very unique premise. The (near) finale alone makes it one of the top films of the year.
8. QUIET CITY Another MFF film, a movie by (a certain class of)young adults about (a certain class of) young adults. It's a little narcissistic but also warm and pleasant.
9. THE HOST A well-done monster movie.
***BEST OF MOVING PICTURES, FILM****************** by Joe Rybandt
CHILDREN OF MEN This is the future and this is what true “science fiction” is all about, the worst of us now, magnified and stretched forward into the future. We’re doomed.
BLADE RUNNER I bought the briefcase, it’s the coolest/nerdiest thing EVER…. and the new cut of the movie sparkles amid the gloom. I can partially buy into Deckard being a replicant, but the physical contradictions leave me back in the “human” camp.
RATATOUILLE After a slight misstep going for “NASCAR ‘Murika” the Pixar crew came back on top. Pixar films are a godsend for parents as they produce entertainment for young and old.
THIS IS ENGLAND This was good. A young loner in Thatcher-era England (duh!) gets taken in by well-meaning skinheads and then finds himself among the angry kind of skinheads and himself heading towards the violent nature of their kind.
ENCHANTED I think this and Ratatouille are the only films I saw in theaters this year. Disney pulled a “Shrek” here, but did so by creating something more genuine and timeless, rather than the shrill nature of most “family” entertainment, which fills itself with pop culture riffs that expire the moment you leave the theater. Bonus: Amy Adams is really, really cute.
OPEN WATER 2: ADRIFT A nice little thriller… water’s scary.
FAST FOOD NATION The book was great and so was this film, each in their own ways as the film took non-fiction and made fiction, albeit fiction rooted in the miseries of the meat industry and its hold on those less fortunate.
AMERICAN HARDCORE From Punk Rock came Hardcore and unlike Punk Rock, Hardcore has never received a true and continuing post mortem. Perhaps because Hardcore at it began burned out pretty quickly and turned into something most ugly, but looking back on these days, there remains an energy and message that put me through high school.
THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED A searing and informative look at the bullshit that calls itself the MPAA.
PAN'S LABYRINTH/MIAMI VICE 10 and 11, though let’s call it a tie, and what a most unusual tie, no? I’d actually put Miami Vice up over Labyrinth because I’ll end up watching Vice more than once, and while Labyrinth is a visually beautiful and powerful full, I’m not sure it will serve that up again upon a second viewing. Vice though, was a nice piece of fluff, wrapped up in the faux retro shine of the 80s television series. One of the best – and not expected to be one of the best – of the small to big screen adaptations of the last decade.
***MOVIES I ACTUALLY SAW AT THE THEATER******* by Scott Sugiuchi
I just want to state that I saw about 1 movie per year over the last 4 years (I blame the kids). So I’m celebrating my return to the movie house by reviewing all the super high-dollar Hollywood (with a capital H) movies I took in this year. This is not a best of. This is just what I saw.
1. BOURNE ULTIMATUM Best car chase scene since the French Connection. After I woke up from the first terminally boring 10 minutes I was digging it.
2. SUPERBAD Much funnier than Knocked Up. Michael Cera singing “These Eyes” killed me. If I was 16, this would be MY movie.
3. THE SIMPSONS MOVIE Took my oldest daughter to this one. It was a landmark family bonding moment. We both laughed at Bart’s doodle.
4. THE TRANSFORMERS They could’ve replaced the dialogue with explosions and sound effects and it would’ve made no difference. CG porn!
5. FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SURVER Considering the first FF movie was one beyond awful I was actually surprised at how much I liked this movie. I still hate Dr. Doom’s voice but the Silver Surfer was cool.
6. KNOCKED UP Again, not as funny as Superbad but it’s good to see Martin Starr getting some screen time.
7. SHREK 3 Forced to see this one with the kids. They liked it but they aren’t jaded either. Yet. I’m working on it. That said, it was pretty dull but I only fell asleep once or twice. I think that says something.
8. 28 WEEKS LATER Paled in comparison to the first one but you only get to make a genre-redefining statement once.
9. SPIDER-MAN 3 God, can I tell you this was one of the worst things I’ve seen in a long time? What the hell was this? Did Sam Raimi get conked on the head? Steve Ditko should kill himself just so he can roll over in his grave.
10. RATATOUILLE I’m glad Patton Oswalt can make his rent this year. Well done.
***TOP 10 MOVIES ****************** by Paul Kilduff
My 10 best movies which I saw, first run, in 2007.
1. LARS AND THE REAL GIRL I can't wait for this to come out on video so I can watch it a couple more times! I just loved this movie, most especially the writing, the from-out-of-left-field humor (remember why Lars has to go to the school board meeting?), but everything is excellent: the performances across the board: Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer is riveting as Karin ("...and she is not petite, Lars! Bianca is a big, big girl!"), Paul Schneider as Gus, and Kelli Garner as the real girl -- Patricia Clarkson's Dagmar is, alone, reason to watch this movie. The flowers on the porch, the teddy-bear-CPR piece, the score, the feel of the town. This is a masterpiece -- watching it was the most fun I've had in years -- and to top it all off, it's a story about an anatomically-correct life-size doll which is a magical, Capra-esque look at how people behave in community! Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Screenplay, Be st Director, and Best Performance by a Manekin in a Comedy or Musical!
2. MISS POTTER Sometimes the people who make a film create magic -- the real world dissolves and a world that no longer exists comes to seem more real -- this is such a film. When Ewan McGregor's character sings "Let me teach you how to dance" to Renee Zellwegger's Beatrix, it's as pretty a cinematic moment as I think I've ever seen. A beautiful, awe-inspiring film!
3. ONCE Irish rock band the Frames' lead singer and songwriter Glen Hansard plays Guy, a street musician in Dublin whose girlfriend has moved to London. Unbelievably photogenic Marketa Irglova plays Girl, who sells flowers and magazines on the street and helps Guy realize some of his ambitions. This is a musical from John Carney, who loves the old MGM musicals but knows that characters can't just burst into song anymore. From the opening number shouted to an empty street at night, through the duet in the music store and Girl's singing the words she's just written to the tune she's hearing through headphones as she walks through the dark streets of Dublin, to the climax in the recording studio, this is a spellbinding musical experience. How often do you find the right person?
4. AVENUE MONTAIGNE French for "orchestra seats," or "best seat in the house." What is it about French farce? How do they make such funny, charming films?
5. SICKO Well, I LIKE Michael Moore! People say he's like Bill O'Reilly, except on the left, but I think he's as honest as anyone and more honest than most. But even people who don't like Michael Moore like "Sicko." Moore focuses his antic attention on health care in the USA, and he lets you know at the beginning that this is not a movie about America's uninsured -- this is about people who HAVE insurance. Interesting comparisons in France and Cuba.
6. PARIS JE T'AIME (or "Paris, I love you") 18 stores set in 18 Paris neighborhoods, all about love in Paris. Which is your favorite? The one with the guy on his first day as a hair-care-products salesman who ends up styling hair? The one about the son of a mime (make that two mimes)? The gay guys? The gay women? The blind guy? The young Muslim woman? The last one, with Margo Martindale as the American woman alone in Paris? Yes, that one! That's my favorite, but it's hard to choose just one! Too many stars and too many directors to name -- you may not love all the segments, but this is an entertaining, funny, different, inspring, and thought-provoking collective movie. Wait -- I think the vampire one is my favorite!
7. CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR Does Julia Roberts ever make a bad picture? Does she ever look anything other than smashing? Well, this is a great picture, and she looks like a million bucks. Wonderful Tom Hanks, intriguing Amy Adams, and the part of a lifetime for Philip Seymour Hoffman. This is a part, as Bottom said, "to tear a cat in." And Hoffman tears it up! Great story, amazing military depiction, Zen lesson at the end.
8. IRA AND ABBY Jennifer Westfeldt ("Kissing Jessica Stein") wrote the script and stars. A pretty, charming young woman falls in love at first sight and asks the young man to marry her. Can that work? What is love? What is commitment? Does marriage make it easier to stay together? Is staying together the best thing? This is light and witty and screwball -- very entertaining -- and at the same time it provides some interesting answers to questions about the future of love and marriage.
9. SHERRYBABY Saw this at Cinema Sundays. Maggie Gyllenhaal stars as a drug addict who's been released from prison and wants to re-establish connections with her young daughter. Not a very fun movie, but a great performance by Maggie Gyllenhaal, with Giancarlo Esposito ("Little G" from "Homicide") as the parole officer.
10. NO END IN SIGHT (Tough to pick #10 -- I also liked "O Jerusalem"...) Charles Ferguson used aome of his software fortune to expose the -- incompetence would be a kind word -- of the Bush 43 White House in its management of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Documentary footage illustrates soulful interviews (the young Marine is unforgettable). The audience is real, real quiet as they file out of the theater.
***THE OK MOVIES I SAW IN 2007****************** by Sarah Pinsker
In making this list, I realized I didn't see half of the movies I wanted to see, including just about everything that would make anyone else's list; I still want to see Sweeney Todd, and There Will Be Blood, and No Country for Old Men, and I'm Not There, and Once, and... well, fuck. I don't think I saw a single drama. These were alright. We'll call it "Nine Comedies and Bruce."
1. HOT FUZZ I actually liked this way better than Shaun of the Dead. Great spoof of the genre, and particularly the Wicker Man. I hate the Wicker Man.
2. LARS & THE REAL GIRL Funny and sad, and more real than I ever would have expected, thanks mostly to Ryan Gosling.
3. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN & THE SEEGER SESSIONS BAND LIVE IN DUBLIN I don't know if this counts, since it came out on DVD, not in theaters, but it was the best concert movie of the year. He put together an amazing band, and I'm kicking myself for not going to see the when they came around here.
4. RATATOUILLE With the exception of the Incredibles, which I knew I would love, I approach every Pixar movie saying "Well, the last one was great, but I don't know about this..." I should just get over it. Ratatouille was clever and full of cheffy details, which I loved. Peter O' Toole was awesome, as were the animators who turned him into a walking cadaver.
5. THE DARJEELING LIMITED My expectations had been lowered by reviews, but I actually enjoyed this a lot. A little pretentious, as per usual for Wes Anderson, but entertaining and surprisingly moving.
6, 7, 8. JUNO, WAITRESS, KNOCKED UP Everyone keeps comparing Juno and Knocked Up, but I'd like to throw Waitress into the mix as well. I loved all three casts. I thought both Juno and Waitress were overly sweet, but forgivably so.
10. BLADES OF GLORY I may be mocked forever for this, but what the hell. Blades of Glory was funny. Whole theater laughing funny. Will Arnett & Amy Poehler funny. I'll delete #9 as penance.
***TOP 5 MOVIES****************** by Mary Francis Cappiello
Sorry to say, I couldn’t come up with a top ten movie list; maybe I just didn’t see enough movies this year. There are plenty of things, like SUPERBAD, that I didn’t get a chance to see. But, here are my top five movies seen this year. Some are a BIT older, but I watched them for the first time this year.
TEKKONKINKREET, directed my Michael Arias. One animae pet peeve of mine is films where the backgrounds and people don’t match, like where the backgrounds are photorealistic but the people are cartoon-y, and vice versa. Not only does TEKKONKINKREET avoid that, it has some of the most detailed background art I’ve ever seen. It also has a really different color palette than most other animaes I’ve seen. The story is an adaptation of the manga BLACK AND WHITE, by Taiyo Matsumoto. For people who hate subtitles, my copy has multiple language audio, so you can watch it in English. Excellent art and story! Eric Nakamura of GIANT ROBOT calls it “one of the best animae movies ever,” and who are you to doubt him?
AACHI AND SSIPAK, by Jo Beom-Jin. My favorite characters of the year had to be the Diaper Gang. Here’s a quote about the movie from Cinematical.com: “Nothing makes me feel at home at Fantastic Fest like a cute Korean animated movie about a futuristic world powered by excrement, where tiny blue mutants with diapers on their heads are threatening to take over the world in pursuit of addictive popsicles.” The movie is a frenetic, vulgar, offensive (in a good way), and excessive joy, full of drugs, blood, and bodily fluids. Why are blue mutants always so cool?
GETTING HOME, by Zhang Yang of SHOWER and QUITTING fame. This is based on the true story of a Chinese migrant worker who promised his buddy that if he was killed on the job, he’d take his body back to his hometown to be buried. When the friend dies, his hapless and penniless friend has to find the way to get the body back to the home village, like 1,000 miles away. Funny, bizarre, thought-provoking and touching. Zhang Yang, who I saw in a Q & A session after a screening of the film, was a really young, cool guy. Here’s a picture of him. He invited the man the story was based on to see the film, but the poor guy was still too traumatized by his experiences.
I’M A CYBORG, BUT THAT’S OKAY. Candy-colored story of young love between to mental institution patients. Wacky, interesting, strange, and SOUND OF MUSIC obsessed. Stars Korean superstar Rain, who yodels during a musical sequence. Bet you can’t do that, Stephen Colbert!
CRAZY STONE. A caper film with Chinese characteristics. It was a pretty low-budget movie, and an unexpected hit. After a huge jade brooch is discovered at a construction site, a smart, underemployed security guard has to scrape together a rag-tag security team to protect it from dumb criminals and sleazy businessmen. Oh, and he also has some problems with his penis. In Chongqing dialect, and produced by the ubiquitous Hong Kong celebrity Andy Lau.
***TOP MOVIES/DVDs OF 2007 ****************** by Simeon
Sorry, I don't go to the movies, they come to me.
GRINDHOUSE 2 great movies. Shame it tanked.
HOT FUZZ Great follow-up to Shawn of the Dead.
PAN'S LABYRINTH THE creepy award winner. A SCANNER DARKLY Why can't all Phillip K Dick movies be this good?
...and I bet that NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN will make the list when I finally see it.
***BEST TV****************** by Benn Ray
1. 30 ROCK It's simply amazing how much this modern Mary Tyler Moore has grown. I've never been a huge Tina Fey fan, but I am now. And this is Alec Baldwin at a career best.
2. FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS I was deeply suspicious of this show - the whole band comedy thing has been kinda drained. But these Kiwis in America are charming and funny, and their music is engaging. It was fun watching this show find its feet - but really, this show is all bout Mel and Murray.
3. NO RESERVATIONS The above link is from an episode from the 2006 season, but for some reason, it has come back to me again and again in the 2007 season. But I dare any eater to sit through the whole clip and then tell me they don't want to watch this show (sorry, I don't consider those with self-imposed dietary restrictions to be eaters). Bourdain travels to various locales, eats the common food and the weird. Smokes, drinks, indulges in drugs and regularly discusses the deliciousness of pork and organ meats. In 2007, in one episode he ventured to Cleveland and managed to eat with both Harvey Pekar and a Ramone.
4. EXTRAS Ricky Gervais' follow-up to The Office is every bit as good, awkward, uncomfortable and downright depressing as the original. This show made me like Kate Winslet.
5. PUSHING DAISIES This was a show that I avoided largely because of the urgings of media to watch it despite it being "precious" and "non-ironic". There's irony here. Paul Reubens is in it after all. A pie maker who can bring the dead back to life by touching them, but then something else nearby dies if he lets them continue reliving, or he can touch them a second time to return them to death. This is the sort of show Tim Burton could make if Tim Burton wasn't a hack.
7. THE COLBERT REPORT/THE DAILY SHOW I thought these shows would lose importance and traction after the 2006 mid-term elections, but I was wrong. During the writers' strike, the days these shows didn't air were days I felt irritable, uncomfortable and like I needed to laugh at the hypocrisy or Republican rule and there was no one out there laughing with me. Colbert is a singular talent, and Stewart had done a fine job replacing his raided talent stalls.
Lately, I have developed a fondness for formulaic, genre TV. These shows aren't original, groundbreaking, edgy or unique. But for some reason, I can't stop watching them.
1. REAPER 2. EUREKA 3. CHUCK
***FAVORITE TV SHOWS****************** by Rachel Whang
1. 30 ROCK 2. LUCY, DAUGHTER OF THE DEVIL 3. PUSHING DAISIES 4. PROJECT RUNWAY 5. TOP CHEF
***TV LETDOWNS****************** by Rachel Whang
1. JOHN FROM CINCINNATI
3. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
5. THE NEXT IRON CHEF
***BEST OF TV 2007****************** by Sarah Pinsker
1. LOST (second half of the season) The 2007 part of the third season of Lost
was the best TV I've seen since Joss Whedon's shows went of the air. The
writing was brilliant: it went places you didn't expect, and it cared as much
about the story and the process as the end result (take that, Heroes).
2. PUSHING DAISIES I'm hooked. I can take or leave the two main
protagonists (and the voice over), but I love everything else. I love the
color palette, the rapid-fire dialogue, the supporting cast & their
strangely flawed characters, the subtle puns hidden in a T-shirt or a turn
of phrase. I love the fact that the characters burst into song, but not every
week. There are a hundred holes in the concept, but I'm willing to overlook
3. REAPER Reaper is a cross between Buffy and Dead Like Me, and
steals liberally from both. It toys with me. It is almost really funny, almost
has depth, and keeps teasing its audience with the suggestion that it might
develop beyond the WB's usual scope. I like it, and hope that it gets a chance
to work out the kinks. Otherwise they can just do a spinoff starring Ray Wise
and I'll be happy.
4. BIG LOVE I'm not sure why I like this, but it
has a strange sense of humor, and I like the cast. I was curious how they could
keep this show going, but I'm still enjoying it.
5. THE OFFICE Everyone
raves about 30 Rock, and I'm sure I'll watch it sooner or later, but I still
like the Office.
6. TOP CHEF I love Top Chef. In no particular order, I
love: the strange haircuts, the egos, the challenges, Padma Lakshmi, the fair
and qualified judging panels.
7. NINJA WARRIOR I would like to be a
8. THE GRAHAM NORTON SHOW Occasionally really funny.
I just like the fact that he puts all of his guests on one couch and makes them
interact, even when they're clearly repelled by each other (or better, one is
leaning toward the other, who is desperately inching away). A couple of weeks
ago, it was Marilyn Manson, Nigella Lawson, and Rhianna.
9. THE COLBERT REPORT I like the little twinkle in Colbert's eye. Like Jon Stewart, he knows
he's funny, but he's not as smirky about it.
10. THE NEXT GREAT AMERICAN BAND This show was awesome to mock. Witness the all-girl band singing the
worst rendition EVER of "Knockin' on Heaven's Door". Witness the naked
prepubescent metalheads singing "We Will Rock You" because they don't know any
other songs by Queen. Witness the Dirty Marmaduke Flute Squad squeezing a trip
to Vegas out of Fox TV.
***BEST OF MOVING PICTURES, TELEVISION****************** by Joe Rybandt
RESCUE ME This is usually beyond ridiculous, but Leary’s great and everyone needs a little overdone TV drama in their lives, no?
BONES The first episode of this I saw was Halloween themed and it had Emily Deschanel dressed as Wonder Woman and I’ve watched it ever since, just hoping she’d appear that way again… Bonus: Angel!
MAD MEN The best show on TV this past year… check it on DVD. Best opening titles on TV last year as well.
SURVIVORMAN I’ll probably never end up lost by myself at sea, or in the Arctic or a rain forest, and even if I do, it’s most likely I’ll forget everything this show has taught me. IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA Wonderfully absurd and in some cases, wonderfully wrong. A great sitcom…
30 ROCK An even better sitcom with perfect performances and biting, liberal commentary. Genius all around week after week.
THE WAR Spent a lot of this year mired in World War 2 on publishing projects and this proved to be an invaluable resource. The last “just” war? I think so… The Greatest Generation? Probably…
EXTRAS I think we juts got the Christmas Special this year, but I actually may like this series better than the original Office. Meaner and more brutal in a lot of ways, with perfect celebrity guest shots ("Oh, fuck off. I'm Clive Owen. That's mental.”)
INTERVENTION As long as it’s focused on the meth addicts, I can watch comfortably…
***TEEVEE BESTS ****************** by Jamie Watson
1. 30 ROCK Or more specifically Alec Baldwin. More specifically, the episode in which Alec Baldwin plays Tracy Morgan's father. this is the funniest shit that has ever been on my TV. It is never leaving the tivo, until the dvds come out.
Now is also the time that I pull what my sister and I call "I so liked him first." I saw a picture of Alec Baldwin shirtless in Vogue in the mid-80s. Then I saw him (again, shirtless) in "Married to the Mob." And I have spent most of my adult life in love with Alec Baldwin. Where were you people when I was seeing Prelude to a Kiss 4 times in the theater? Or during all of his brilliant SNL hosting stints, from "Pie don't come for free" to schwette balls. Everyone get off my love train! I've been driving it since I came of drinking age.
2. GOSSIP GIRL Is it too early to call this one a classic of the teen soap genre?
3. ROCK OF LOVE Obviously, my homegirl Heather and her tatters should have won. Season 2 can't possibly measure up.
4. HEROES I was a latecomer, but Season 1 deserved all the hype and praise, as the nerds continue to take over the earth.
5. SANJAYA! I hate American Idol, basically, but the Sanjaya episodes were so great. I voted and voted and voted. And then I watched him get made fun of on the Soup on Friday. Sanjaya!!
***TV****************** by Scott Sugiuchi
Only 8. This is all I have time to watch. Thank God for the writer’s strike. Now I can waste time writing end of year reviews!
1. MADMEN Best show featuring no likable characters whatsoever. Gorgeous on so many levels.
2. THE OFFICE Still funny but I suspect time is running out on this one.
3. 30 ROCK Brilliant television. They completely reshuffle the same jokes over and over and I still laugh. The “Kenneth’s Party” episode was genius.
4. HEROES First half of the season completely sucked but I just had to stick with it having invested weeks of my personal time and luckily they tightened it up in the last 5 episodes.
5. ESPN FRIDAY NIGHT NBA I like my b-ball. Get over it.
6. IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA Painfully funny delivery.
7. CAVEMEN Kiss my ass. This is funny. You’ll be loving it in next year after it’s been cancelled.
8. ACE OF CAKES Alright, if I didn’t live in Baltimore I would list this in my Top 10 Shows I’ll Never Watch, Ever. But I do find it strangely compelling. And well, Mary Alice. C’mon!
***TOP TV SHOWS OF 2007****************** by Simeon
MAD MEN AMC hits it out of the park on their 1st TV show. A workplace drama with all the smoking, drinking, womanizing and back-stabbing that made America great in 1960.
RESCUE ME Dennis Leary continues to kill. Who'da thunk he could get this good.
THE SOUP I laugh until I stop.
THE SOPRANOS Fuck anyone who says that it didn't go out on a high note.
HEROES ...finally back on track and oh, so worth it!
----------------------------------------------------- ...next installment.... READINGS OF 2007....
Friday, Feb. 1___________________________ MARYLAND SMOKING BAN No more smoking in bars. Awww...
KARMELLA'S GAME, AVEC, A SUNNY DAY IN GLASGOW, REMOTE ISLANDS Lo-Fi Social Club. Mt. Vernon, Batimore. 1825 N. Charles St.
Sunday, Feb. 3___________________________ THE WIRE 9PM. EST. HBO.
Wednesday, Feb. 6___________________________ OM, DANIEL HIGGS, THE CONVOCATION 9PM. All ages. The Ottobar. Remington, Baltimore. 2549 N. Howard St.
------------------------------------------------------------------------ To find MP3s & YouTube Vids of this week's performers, check the TONIGHT section. To see more upcoming shows, visit THE SKAG section of the Shank.
It's not like we know it is now policy of the US government to torture people.
It's not like we have a government that has suspended habeas corpus.
It's not like we have a government that is illegally wire tapping and spying on U.S. citizens.
Oh wait. All that shit is happening. But what has these knuckleheads protesting in Baltimore is... foie gras.
There's this concept called "prioritizing," and if this is what gets your ass off the couch and active, well, your priorities are screwed. (Plus, it's delicious.)
With accusatory chants and grisly posters, protesters have set up shop - and provoked change - from California to Chicago to New York and Philadelphia. Now in Baltimore, they'll shame or annoy or threaten - anything, really - to force chefs to strike the recherche ingredient from their menus.
"For our purpose, it does not matter why they take it off, just as long as they stop serving it," says Aaron Ross, a 24-year-old contractor and co-founder of the Baltimore Animal Rights Coalition, the group behind the demonstrations staged this month outside some of the city's finest dining establishments. "I'm going to focus on foie gras until it's completely out of Baltimore."
I just called my Senator, Barbara Mikulski, and urged her to not support retroactive immunity for telecommunications in the FISA bill (she seems like she may).
Won't you join me? Please hurry. CALL: 202.224.4654
-Retroactive immunity on FISA is designed to immunize the Bush/Cheney Administration. Once immunity is given, it cannot be taken back.
-Cloture and a vote for the Intelligence Committee bill would prevent any real oversight over minimization--the process by which the the Administration ensures that it does not collect or keep information on Americans incidentally.
-The Republicans' obstruction and refusal to consider germaine amendments risks leaving us with limited surveillance when the Protect America Act expires in February
-The amendments will improve on the SSCI bill, produce a bill that the House will pass, and still ensure the Administration gets what it says it needs: no limitations on wiretapping of foreigners in other countries. We must protect the rule of law and civil liberties while also protecting national security. Otherwise, we are giving up what The Founders fought so hard to establish.
In the South Carolina presidential primaries: 291,000 people voted for Democratic Presidential Contender Barack Obama. 279, 723 people total voted for Republican Presidential Comers John McCain and Mike Huckabee COMBINED.
In last week’s SC GOP primary, McCain and Huckabee (the top 2 finishers), got 147,283 and 132,440 votes respectively. That’s a total of 279,723. Obama just pulled down 291,000 by himself.
Just goes to prove what I've always thought, 1 Democrat is better than 2 Republicans.