DJMonsterMo Xmas 08 Mix
August Darnell - Christmas on Riverside Drive
Coldplay - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
Death Cab For Cutie - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
Feist - Lo How A Rose E'er Blooming
Sufjan Stevens - Good King Wenceslas
Sufjan Stevens - Hey Guys It's Christmas Time
Sufjan Stevens - O Holy Night
Sufjan Stevens - Sister Winter
Sufjan Stevens - We Three Kings of Orient Are
Sufjan Stevens - What Child Is This Anyway
The Raveonettes - Come On Santa
The Raveonettes - The Christmas Song
Merry Christmas everyone! Hope you have safe (and on-time) travels and entertaining time with family and friends this holiday season.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
- Favorite Films of 2008
1) Wall-E 9/10
Unlike other Pixar films, I went into this one knowing next to nothing about the characters or storyline. I was absolutely floored. The film reminded me of Kubrick's '2001' and Chaplin's 'City Lights' and 'Modern Time' with Wall-E as the cute Chaplinesque robot on a mission of self-discovery and love. How often can a film, much less an animated film, mesh romantic silent film with sci-fi, consumerist satire, and post-apocalyptic dark comedy all in one? 'Wall-E' is hands-down the greatest animated film ever made.
2) The Diving Bell and the Butterfly 9/10
'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly' is tragic, humorous, enlightening, heroic, and life-affirming. The film is based on a book by former editor-in-chief of Elle magazine, Jean-Dominique Bauby. It is a triumph of the human spirit, having been written after he suffered a massive stroke (presumably pontine stroke leading to "locked-in syndrome"), and only because he undertook the arduous effort of communicating by blinking his left eye, the only movement that was preserved. The film opens with a first person POV from the protagonist, drawing you into his claustrophobic world, then expands the story to explore how he relives his past and finds humor in the day-to-day in order to inspire himself in the present. Amalric, von Sydow, and the lovely Anne Consigny give terrific performances.
3) The Dark Knight 8/10
What can I say. Heath Ledger's performance is scary good, literally. It alone elevates 'The Dark Knight' above all other Batman movies. The film is disturbing not only for Ledger's portrayal (in light of his untimely death); it also explores the concept of what a society should accept in trading freedom for 'security'. I'll leave it at that without ruining the plot. If you ignore the allegorical angle, it still is the best action blockbuster of the year with terrific performances from Eckhart and Bale.
4) 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days 8/10
'4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days' is a devastating film about a woman helping her friend obtain an illegal abortion in 1980's Romania. The development of the story seems pedestrian at first, but the long takes are highly effectively as the story builds, particularly in the harrowing hotel room scene and the almost unbearable tension of the boyfriend/family dinner sequence. Marinca, Vasiliu, and Ivanov (as the uber sleazy Bebe) are excellent in their roles. 2007's well-deserved Cannes Palme d'Or winner.
5) Still Life 8/10
'Still Life' was the 2006 Venice Film Festival Golden Lion winner, but it's taken a while for it to be released here in the states. It is an enlightening depiction of life in a rapidly developing China, following the lives of a man and woman searching for their lost spouses in Fengjie, a town that is about to be wiped out by the construction of the Three Gorges Dam, the recently completed, and now, largest hydroelectric dam in the world. It effectively depicts with its nonprofessional cast a microcosm of the social effects of the rapid economic and environmental changes underway right now in China.
6) Vicky Cristina Barcelona 8/10
Yes, I would have ranked this just as highly without Penelope and ScarJo's tasty makeout scene. Barcelona and Oviedo provide a beautiful cinematic backdrop for this dark romantic drama, which offers a commentary on the ennui of the wealthy and the romantic plight of artists. It's better than 'Match Point' and is probably Woody Allen's best film since 'Crimes and Misdemeanors'. Javier Badem cleans up nicely as the estranged artist (after his 'No Country For Old Men' role). Penelope Cruz turns in an Oscar-worthy performance as the neurotic ex-wife of the artist. Rebecca Hall does a fine job as the sensible fiancee and ScarJo isn't bad either as the open-minded romantic free spirit.
7) Slumdog Millionaire 8/10
Like a cross between 'City of God', 'Quiz Show', and hmm, 'The Usual Suspects', 'Slumdog Millionaire' is Danny Boyle's ('Trainspotting', '28 Days Later') best film to date. Set in the slums of Mumbai, the story traces back through each successive game show question from Jamal Malik's (Dev Patel) tragic childhood in abject squalor, through his life as a teenager in the slums with his criminal-minded brother Salim (Madhur Mittal), and Jamal's pursuit of lifelong crush Latika (the incredibly beautiful Freida Pinto). It starts off auspiciously and ends somewhat conventionally and a little trite, but it's impossible in this case not to root for the underdog. The soundtrack features famed Indian producer A.R. Rahman and M.I.A. This will be on the short list for Best Picture Oscar.
8) Silent Light 8/10
This is a beautiful film by Carlos Reygadas. Though the pacing is ponderous and challenging, the development is well worth it. It's a revealing and poignant reflection on family, religion, extramarital love, heartbreak, and forgiveness.
9) Gomorra 8/10
'Gomorra' is an unglamorous neorealist depiction of the Camorra, the oldest crime organization in Italy, centered in Naples. It's realism was highlighted by the arrest of one of the main actors (Giovanni Venosa) when inmates in a Naples prison recognized him as a real mobster. I guess that art does imitate life. The film moves between characters from subject to subject in an unsentimental manner, which makes the multi-threaded plot seem meandering at times. However, the camera doesn't maintain its distance throughout. Director Matteo Garrone does bring you into the lives of a few key characters, who are all faced with life-changing dilemmas. The style is reminiscent of 'Traffic' or 'Babel' without a contrived "a-ha" epiphany at the end.
10) Milk 8/10
'Milk' may be Gus Van Sant's best film and is the perfect vehicle for Sean Penn, whose performance will surely garner him an Oscar nomination and likely win. It's the compelling story of California's first openly gay elected official, San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk, and how he rallied the support of his community to fight for gay rights until (highlight text for spoiler ahead) he and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated in 1978. Josh Brolin, James Franco, and Alison Pill are also great in their roles.
11) Iron Man 8/10
One of the best comic book-to-film adaptations I've seen. This film balances humor and action in appropriate measures, thanks in part to Robert Downey Jr.'s nuanced, versatile, and comical portrayal. Jeff Bridges and Gwyneth Paltrow also give commendable performances.
12) In Bruges 8/10
Who knew that murderous hit men had such depth and humor? 'In Bruges' is an interesting part humanistic, part absurdist take on the otherwise familiar theme of criminals with principles. Farrell, Gleeson, Fiennes are terrific in their roles.
13) Tropic Thunder 8/10
Like Zoolander meets Apocalypse Now, 'Tropic Thunder' is a biting satire on Hollywood and war movies. Robert Downey Jr. steals the show, but Ben Stiller and surprisingly, Tom Cruise, are also hilarious.
14) The Bank Job 8/10
Based on the true story of the Baker Street robbery, a legendary heist in 1971 in London. Jason Statham of course plays the same character he seems to play in every film. But dress up the rest of the film with an intriguing plot, fast-paced editing, and likable characters in circa 1970's London, and you've got the best heist film in recent years.
15) Pineapple Express 8/10
It's hard to imagine that David Gordon Green directed this and the extreme downer, 'Snow Angels', below. Just add Apatow to the mix though, and all bets are off. This is a hilariously over-the-top mix of stoner comedy, cheesy action, and police chase drama.
16) Happy-Go-Lucky 7/10
Sally Hawkins plays the sweet but hyperactive Poppy, an English primary school teacher whose peppy demeanor tends to rub those around her the wrong way. What the film seems to lack in plot, it makes up for in developing Poppy with great depth, in the process investigating themes relating to education, gender roles, and societal dysfunction.
17) Cassandra's Dream 7/10
'Cassandra's Dream' is a Woody Allen drama (with a terrific Philip Glass score) about brothers in debt who venture into less familiar territory in order to make ends meet. Colin Farrell gives a solid performance as the conflicted sibling who emotionally unravels just as things appear to be working out. Ewan McGregor and Tom Wilkinson are also quite good in their roles. However, the ending is a bit mysterious and unfulfilling.
18) Snow Angels 7/10
This film is a cold, bleak, and depressing portrayal of crumbling relationships in a small town. It rises above the banality of typical indie drama fare with strong performances from Sam Rockwell, Kate Beckinsale, and Amy Sedaris.
19) My Blueberry Nights 7/10
Wong Kar-Wai's first English language film is a bit of a disappointment. Visually and aesthetically, the film is terrific. Norah Jones is decent in her on-screen debut. Jude Law and Natalie Portman are good with what they have to work with. But it seems like an inferior rehash of Wong's earlier work.
20) Teeth 7/10
Gentlemen, check your man bits after watching this film. No, it's not about the African disappearing penis myth. It's about vagina dentata. Basically, it makes 'The Crying Game' seem not so bad. Jess Weixler is terrific as Dawn, as she suffers horny creeps one after another in this campy, misandrist thriller-comedy.
21) The Visitor 7/10
Richard Jenkins plays Walter Vale, a college professor in Connecticut who attends a conference in New York City only to find a young couple living in his rarely used city apartment. Jenkins should be up for an Oscar nomination with his subtle, nuanced performance. The film explores the therapeutic and unifying effect of music and raises important questions about academia and immigration policy.
22) Frost/Nixon 7/10
An intriguing dramatization of events surrounding the David Frost post-Watergate interview of ex-president Richard Nixon. Frank Langella delivers a nuanced, complex portrayal of Nixon. Michael Sheen, Kevin Bacon, and Rebecca Hall are also quite good.
23) Changeling 7/10
'Changeling' is based on a true story. It's a harrowing account of a mother whose son disappears for 5 months but is subsequently returned to her, or is he? Angelina Jolie delivers one of her best performances. However, although the film is promising at first, it devolves into a diluted hodgepodge of mystery/thriller, conventional courtroom drama, and social commentary on police corruption, civil commitment, and capital punishment.
24) Burn After Reading 7/10
An interesting but uneven screwball comedy about greed, vanity, and the CIA. If that sounds pretty random, that's because it is. The film struggled to find an appropriate tone, juxtaposing funny and serious elements haphazardly. Thankfully, the all-star cast of Pitt, McDormand, Clooney, Swinton, and Malkovich isn't completely wasted. However, in the end, the viewer is left with an inconsequential, so what?
25) Forgetting Sarah Marshall 7/10
Yes, folks, more sex jokes. It's another Apatow film! Jason Segel plays the charmingly pathetic Peter; Mila Kunis and Kristen Bell are solid in their respective roles.
Paranoid Park 7/10
I can see where Van Sant was trying to go with this. It could have been more compelling if it had a less meandering plot (though this may have been Van Sant's artistic intent) and a more developed ending.
A bizarre Hungarian film featuring a series of Kusturica meets Jeunet vignettes involving an obese competitive eater, a taxidermist, and a guy who shoots fire from his penis. Yup.
Quantum of Solace 7/10
Pretty entertaining, but not as good as 'Casino Royale'. Kurylenko is hot, but her acting is rather mediocre (though much better than Denise Richards, but that's not saying much).
Prince Caspian 7/10
No, it's not LOTR, but it's a decent continuation of the Narnia series.
Harold and Kumar Escape Guantanamo Bay 7/10
I had low expectations for this sequel, but was glad that the mindless, crude humor matched the original.
Role Models 7/10
Far exceeded my low expectations. Rather vulgar and funny...right up my alley!
The Incredible Hulk 7/10
Entertaining popcorn action flick with decent performances all around.
Horton Hears a Who! 7/10
Pretty solid characters and story all round, but nothing spectacular.
Pretty good, except when it degenerates into music video montage or Lifetime movie of the week.
You, The Living 6/10
I'm willing to grant Roy Andersson some artistic license, but this one was excessively tedious.
See above. Extremely boring, even for Sokurov.
Zack and Miri Make A Porno 6/10
Not all bad, but I was expecting more laughs and a more convincing ending.
Funny Games 6/10
Stick to the original, if you dare.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 6/10
Sullied by a horrible script and CGI diarrhea from the turd-eating plague known as George Lucas.
Perfunctory CGI diarrhea. 5/10 plus one for Charlize Theron and Jason Bateman.
Be Kind Rewind 5/10
Be kind to yourself and don't rent this.
Sex and the City 5/10
I'm a SATC fan, but this was garbage.
Diary of the Dead 5/10
Could have been better, but the writing and acting were rather atrocious.
Speed Racer 5/10
Please stop giving blank checks to the Wachowski brothers. Thank you.
Use the price of admission on slots instead. You'll get more out of it.
Seven Pounds 3/10
...of contrived bullsh*t.
Films I have yet to see: Australia; Che; The Class; Crossing; The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Doubt; Everlasting Moments; Flight of the Red Balloon; Frozen River; Gran Torino; Rachel Getting Married; The Reader; Revolutionary Road; Synecdoche, New York; Waltz With Bashir; The Wrestler
Friday, December 19, 2008
- Here is a list I should have posted last year. I had to get caught up on most of these in 2008. I've done better with seeing the films I wanted to see this year and my 2008 list will be coming soon.
Top Films of 2007
1) Zodiac 9/10
2) Juno 9/10
3) No Country For Old Men 9/10
4) Sweeney Todd 8/10
5) There Will Be Blood 8/10
6) Eastern Promises 8/10
7) Knocked Up 8/10
8) Hot Fuzz 8/10
9) Superbad 8/10
10) Grindhouse 8/10
American Gangster 8/10
The Bourne Ultimatum 8/10
Charlie Wilson's War 7/10
Gone Baby Gone 7/10
Michael Clayton 7/10
Margot At The Wedding 7/10
Before The Devil Knows You're Dead 7/10
The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford 7/10
The Darjeeling Limited 7/10
Talk To Me 7/10
3:10 To Yuma 7/10
The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters 7/10
I'm Not There 7/10
The Kite Runner 7/10
The Simpsons Movie 7/10
Live Free or Die Hard 7/10
I Am Legend 7/10
La Vie En Rose 7/10
Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten 7/10
- Freida Pinto
I just recently saw Slumdog Millionaire. While it is a bit overhyped, it will still probably be in my top 10 of 2008. The first hour is enlightening and enjoyable but the rest feels more like a rehashed version of 'City of God,' which is a pretty great film in its own right. However, I don't mind since much of the later screen time is devoted to the stunning Freida Pinto.
- Building Pianocktail | Pianocktail in Action | Pianocktail Pictures
Introducing the must-have gadget for the lush and musician in you: the piano that mixes drinks based on the song you play.
- Mercury-Laden Sushi Sidelines Piven
David Mamet: "My understanding is that he is leaving show business to pursue a career as a thermometer." Nice.
- Credit Crunch: the board game
From The Economist.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
- The Devil Went Down To Georgia - Guitar Hero 3
The Guinness World Record. Score: 887437. 3087 note streak. Wow.
- The year 2008 in photographs - The Big Picture
An amazing compilation of the year's best pictures. I can't believe the above photo is real and not a still from the latest Michael Bay film.
- Our Annual Year
The Onion's yearly wrap-up with important articles, including $700 Billion Bailout Celebrated With Lavish $800 Billion Executive Party and Armless, Legless Tiger Woods Wins U. S. Open with the priceless photo shown above.
- Worn Free Vintage T-Shirts
A bit pricey, but hey. Wear the T-shirts the rock legends wore, before their untimely deaths from suicide or drug overdose.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
- 20 Hip Hop Album Covers Recreated in Lego
Someone has too much time on their hands. But this is awesome.
- Love Songs on Vimeo (video)
Chris Han - Love Songs (MP3)
Pretty impressive mash-up/compilation of songs with 'Love' in the title, including
Outkast - The Love Below
Tupac - California Love
Beyonce - Crazy in Love
The Game - Hate It or Love It
Maroon 5 - This Love
Talib Kweli - Never Been In Love
Wilco - I'm the Man Who Loves You
Crookers - Love to Edit
Keyshia Cole - Love
Air - Highschool Lover
Stevie Wonder - I Was Made to Love Her
MSTRKRFT - Easy Love
Huey Lewis and the News - Power of Love
The Emotions - Best of My Love
Alicia Keys - Teenage Love Affair
Brian Holland - Standing in the Shadows of Love
Death Cab for Cutie - Someday You Will Be Loved
Bon Iver - Skinny Love
Jay-Z - Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)
Marvin Gaye - God Is Love
Masqueraders - Can't Nobody Love Me Like You Do
Bloc Party - This Modern Love
The Delfonics - La La Means I Love You
Kanye West - Love Lockdown
Herold Melvin - The Love I lost
Daft Punk - Digital Love
Justin Timberlake - Like I Love You
John Legend - Used to Love U
Bright Eyes - Lover I Don't Have to Love
Jose Gonzalez - Killing for Love
LCD Soundsystem - New York I Love You
Whitney Houston - I Will Always Love You
Arcade Fire - Crown of Love
Also features a cool Ableton Live video capture.
- Dave Simpson meets people who inspired pop songs
...including Layla, Hey Jude, etc.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
DJMonsterMo Dec 08 Mix
01. The Raveonettes - Come On Santa
02. Chairlift - Evident Utensil
03. Architecture In Helsinki - That Beep
04. N.A.S.A. - Gifted feat. Kanye West, Santogld, Lykke Li
05. Kurtis Mantronik - Take Your Time
06. Double Dee/Steinski - The Payoff Mix
07. Debbie Deb - Look Out Weekend
08. Idle Warship - Black Snake Moan
09. Wiley - Cash In My Pocket feat. Daniel Merriweather
10. Snob Scrilla - Chasing Ghosts
11. The BPA - Toe Jam feat. David Byrne and Dizzee Rascal
12. La Roux - Quicksand
13. Hey Champ - Face Control
14. Metric - Help, I'm Alive
15. Army Navy - My Thin Sides
16. Love Is All - Wishing Well
17. Envelopes - I'd Like To C U
18. Fol Chen - Cable TV
19. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Can't Hear My Eyes
20. Hello Stranger - Devil's Highway
Here's a special holiday mix for those of you who have endured my posting drought.
The mix starts with The Raveonettes. They're back with a holiday EP entitled, 'Wishing You A Rave Christmas'. If you liked "The Christmas Song", "Come on Santa" will be right up your alley. Meanwhile, Chairlift is milking the benefit of their iPod Nano-Chromatic ad spot. They need to make more songs like "Bruises" and "Evident Utensil". Continuing with the twee theme, Architecture In Helsinki is back with a new single, "That Beep". Here's the cheesy video. Next up, N.A.S.A. (Squeak E. Clean and Zegon) have their new album due out soon. This song is a pretty hot collaboration with Kanye West, Santogold, and Lykke Li...damn! Now, take the time machine for some Mantronix, Steinski, and Debbie Deb for tracks 5-7.
Fast forward to the future with a new tune from Idle Warship (Talib Kweli, Res, and Graph Nobel), "Black Snake Moan". Moving on to "Cash in My Pocket", what can I say. 2008 has been a big year for Roll Deep crew member Wiley, whose "Wearing My Rolex" and "Summertime" have already been huge hits in the UK. Transition from scrilla in your wallet to Snob Scrilla, a cross-over indie rock/hip-hop act from Sydney, Australia that has had some buzz this year. Next, The BPA is one of Norman Cook / Fatboy Slim way-too-many aliases. I doubt you've missed the gratuitous NSFW video. La Roux is up next with a very catchy electro pop tune, "Quicksand" as well as a Bananrama-esque video. I'm looking forward to their album, if and when it comes out. "Face Control" continues the catchy electro vibe. It's from Hey Champ, who are from Chi-Town and are touring with Lupe Fiasco.
Metric's new single "Help, I'm Alive" has me very excited for a 2009 release. Next up, a bit of catchy indie power pop from Army Navy whose new eponymous album was just released in October. Track 16 is "Wishing Well" by Love Is All, a song I have played to death in my car. Envelopes is next with the winsome hyperactivity of their song "I'd Like to C U". Fol Chen kicks back with their ode to motels, shady rendezvous, and "Cable TV". Next is a nostalgic new release from Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti. Last but not least, Hello Stranger concludes with "Devil's Highway", a haunting tune from the My Blueberry Nights soundtrack.
Monday, December 08, 2008
- SNL - Jizz In My Pants (video)
Andy Samberg and company are back in this utterly hilarious SNL short/music video "Jizz In My Pants", featuring Molly Sims, Justin Timberlake, and a very foxy Jamie Lynn Sigler. This is apparently the first single off comedy/parody trio The Lonely Island's album, "Incredibad," although I don't see it in their tracklisting.