Saturday, December 31, 2011

for Music

Click here
for the

Some of these films premiered in the US in 2010, but didn't make
their way to Seattle until this year, in which case I deferred to lo-
cal release dates. Some missed the city altogether, in which case I
caught up via DVD, Blu-ray, or download. Altogether, I saw over
250 titles, and wrote about most of them for Amazon, Siffblog,
Line Out, and Video Librarian (the links lead to my reviews).

Just as my 2011 music list revolves around post-punk, a post-
punk vibe runs through many of these films. Animals also a-
bound, as do animalistic human beings, like Ryan Gosling's
with his scorpion jacket (a clue to his true nature).

The Tops:
1. Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn)
2. Poetry (Lee Chang-dong)
3. Hugo (Martin Scorsese)
4. Le Havre (Aki Kaurismäki)
5. Jane Eyre (Cary Fukunaga)
6. Meek's Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt)
7. The Skin I Live In / La Piel Que Habito (Pedro Almodóvar)
8. Project Nim (James Marsh)
9. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Rupert Wyatt)
10. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives /
Loong Boonmee Raleuk Chat (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

1. The Descendants (Alexander Payne)
2. Attack the Block (Joe Cornish)
3. A Screaming Man / Un Homme
Qui Crie
(Mahamat-Saleh Haroun)

4. The Help (Tate Taylor)
5. Beginners (Mike Mills)
6. Weekend (Alexander Haigh)
7. The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius)
8. Le Quattro Volte (Michelangelo Frammartino)
9. Martha Marcy May Marlene (Sean Durkin)
10. The Time That Remains (Elia Suleiman)

Note: I enjoyed The Help. I realize I'm supposed to hate it, but
I can't stand it when people do my thinking for me or assume that
I don't know anything about African or African American cinema.

I can like The Help and I can like A Screaming Man, too. The thing
is: Tate Taylor's mainstream movie got to me in a way Mahamat-Saleh
Haroun's art house entry
didn't. Which doesn't make it the superior
picture; just one that had more personal resonance. I live for '50s-style
melodramas about ordinary women, especially those who triumph
over their small-minded oppressors, whether they're white, black, or
red-eyed space aliens. The critical opprobrium heaped on this film
carried a trace of misogyny that made me deeply uncomfortable.

Apparently, I'm not supposed to like The Artist either, in part because
Harvey Weinstein produced it. But he didn't direct it, and the story
centers on a man who refuses to compromise or to impose his will on
others--un-Harvey-like qualities. In the film, he triumphs over adver-
sity. In real life, it doesn't always work that way, but The Artist and
Hugo are movies about movies and their makers. Not their producers.

Second Runners-up:
1. A Separation (Asghar Farhadi)
2. Moneyball (Bennett Miller)
3. The Princess of Montpensier (Bertrand Tavernier)
4. Norwegian Wood (Tran Anh Hung)
5. Hanna (Joe Wright)
6. Melancholia (Lars Von Trier)
7. Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen)
8. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Tomas Alfredson)
9. The Yellow Sea (Na Hong-jin)
10. Winnie the Pooh (Don Hall and Stephen J. Anderson)

Openings: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy opens at the Metro Cinemas
(and other theaters) on 1/6 and A Separation on 2/3 (venue TBA).

Worthy of note: 50/50 (Jonathan Levine), The Arbor (Clio
Barnard), Aurora (Cristi Puiu), Bellflower (Evan Glodell), Car-
(Pablo Trapero), Circumstance (Maryam Keshavarz),
Contagion (Steven Soderbergh), Curling (Denis Côté), Gods / Dioses (Josué Méndez), The Guard (John Michael McDonagh),
Henry's Crime
(Malcolm Venville), The Girl / Flickan (Fredrik
Edfeldt), Hideaway / Le Refuge (François Ozon), The Ides of
(George Clooney), Kaboom (Gregg Araki), The Piano in
a Factory
(Zhang Meng), Putty Hill (Matt Porterfield), The Rum Diary (Bruce Robinson), Submarine (Richard Ayoade), Toast
(S.J. Clarkson), The Tree (Julie Bertuccelli), Vampire*, Vanishing
on 7th Street
(Brad Anderson), The War Horse (Steven Spielberg), Warrior (Gavin O'Connor), Win Win (Tom McCarthy), X-Men: First Class (Matthew Vaughn), and Young Adult (Jason Reitman).

* I left out the director and don't want to reformat the whole paragraph. Vampire
is the first English-language effort from All About Lily Chou Chou's Shunji Iwai

They've done better: A Dangerous Method (David Cron-
enberg), The Future (Miranda July), My Week with Marilyn
(Richard Curtis), The Sleeping Beauty (Catherine Breillat), Take
(Jeff Nichols), and The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick).

Top documentaries:
1. Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of
a Tribe Called Quest
(Michael Rapaport)
2. How to Die in Oregon (Peter D. Richardson)
3. Tabloid (Errol Morris)
4. Page One: Inside the New York Times (Andrew Rossi)
5. Tie: Cave of Forgotten Dreams
and Into the Abyss (Werner Herzog)
6. The Woodmans (C. Scott Willis)
7. Ne Chien Range (Pedro Costa)
8. Nénette (Nicolas Philibert)
9. Public Speaking (Martin Scorsese)
10. Bobby Fischer Against the World (Liz Garbus)

Worthy of note: Bill Cunningham New York (Richard Press),
Broken Doors (Goro Toshima), Color Me Obsessed (
Gorman Be-
chard), Crooked Beauty (Ken Paul Rosenthal), Girls on the Wall
(Heather Ross), (POM Wonderful Presents) The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (Morgan Spurlock), Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today (Stuart Schulberg), Pearl Jam Twenty (Cameron Crowe), Rachel
(Simone Bitton), Silver Girls / Frauenzimmer (Saara Alia Waas-
ner), Sin by Silence (Olivia Klaus), Still Bill (Damani Baker and
Alex Vlack), The Weird World of Blowfly (Jonathan Furmanski).

Reissues and Rediscoveries:
1. Kuroneko - The Criterion Collection (Kaneto Shindo)
2. Cronos - The Criterion Collection (Guillermo del Toro)
3. Videodrome - Criterion Collection (David Cronenberg)
4. Raging Bull - 30th Anniversary Edition (Martin Scorsese)
5. All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz)
6. Kes - The Criterion Collection (Ken Loach)
7. Prowler (Joseph Losey)
8. The Soft Skin (François Truffaut)
9. Four Nights with Anna (Jerzy Skolimowski)
10. Little Red Riding Hood and Other Stories (David Kaplan)

Odds and Sods:
Bal /Honey (Semih Kaplanoğlu), Boardwalk
Empire - The Complete First Season
, The Double Life of Véron-
ique - The Criterion Collection
(Krzysztof Kieslowski), Master-
piece Classic - Downton Abbey
, Hamilton (Matt Porterfield),
The Hour, Season One, and Mildred Pierce (Todd Haynes).

Missed (or haven't seen yet): 13 Assassins (Takashi Miike), A
Brighter Summer Day
/ Gu Ling Jie Shao Nian Sha Ren Shi Jian
(Edward Yang), The Adventures of Tintin (Steven Spielberg), Cap-
tain America
(Joe Johnston), Carnage (Roman Polanski), Cedar
(Miguel Arteta), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David
Fincher), Incendies (Denis Villeneuve), The Interrupters (Steve
James), J. Edgar (Clint Eastwood), Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan),
Margin Call
(J.C. Chandor), The Muppets (James Frawley), Mys-
teries of Lisbon
(Raul Ruiz), Nostalgia for the Light / Nostalgia de
la Luz
(Patricio Guzmán),
Shame (Steve McQueen), Source Code
(Duncan Jones), Sucker Punch (Zack Snyder), Terri (Azazel Jac-
obs), Tomboy (Céline Sciamma), The Trip (Michael Winterbot-
), and We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsay).

Note: Tomboy, which played the 2011 Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, opens at SIFF Cinema on 1/6. Certified Copy, Nostalgia for the Light, and Of Gods and Men made my 2010 "missed" list...and I still haven't caught up with any of them yet. Looking forward to it.

Yes, I did see...Bridesmaids. And I sure didn't laugh much, but I'm glad that Jill Clayburgh, perfectly cast as Kristin Wiig's mother, went out with a hit. Clayburgh's daughter (with David Rabe), Lily Rabe, who also got her start on the stage, proves her own mettle in Christopher Munch's Letters from the Big Man, an animal-oriented film almost as strange as Uncle Boonmee.

A final thought: Shame on The New Yorker's David Denby
for breaking the review embargo regarding Fincher's The Girl
with the Dragon Tattoo
--but more so for his spoiler regard-
ing The Skin I Live In. And shame on his colleague, Richard
, for spreading the disease by quoting from Denby's Skin
review (though I still enjoyed Brody's comments about Tom
Cruise in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol). Critics!

Endnote: A work in progress. Drive image from Collider.
Songs for Cineastes: 2011 Edition

Click here for the 2010 edition.

To clear up
any confu-
sion: This
isn't a list
of film
scores or
soundtracks. It's a list of music recommended for movie lovers
such as myself. Some independent film fans prefer mainstream
movie fare. Similarly, some art house aficionados prefer major-la-
bel music. There's nothing wrong with that; I just can't relate to it
(and try to avoid giving the Man my money whenever possible).

If you share my taste in movies, there's a good chance you might
share my taste in music. And to further clarify matters, I've drop-
ped Swingin' from the title of these posts, i.e. Songs for Swing-
in' Cineastes. I thought it was funny, and I can't resist a Frank
reference, but I think I'm gonna make 2012 about par-
ing things down and eliminating some of the gobbledegook.

Links lead to my reviews for AndMoreAgain and Line Out.

The Tops:
1. Total Control - Henge Beat (Iron Lung)
2. Moon Duo - Mazes (Sacred Bones)
3. The Dirtbombs - Party Store (In the Red)
4. Shabazz Palaces - Black Up (Sub Pop)
5. Tie: Ty Segall - Goodbye Bread (Drag
City) and Singles 2007-2010 (Goner)
6. Soft Moon - Total Decay EP (Captured Tracks)
7. Psychic Ills - Hazed Dream (Sacred Bones)
8. Veronica Falls - Veronica Falls (Slumberland)
9. Widowspeak - Widowspeak (Captured Tracks)
10. Meg Baird - Seasons on Earth (Drag City)

Note: I review Total Control live here.

1. Girls Names - Dead to Me (Tough Love/Slumberland)
2. La Sera - La Sera (Hardly Art)
3. Sonny & the Sunsets - Hit After Hit (Fat Possum)
4. AM & Shawn Lee - Celestial Electric
(Eighteenth Street Lounge/Fontana)
5. Keren Ann - 101 (Blue Note/EMI)
6. Still Corners - Creatures of an Hour (Sub Pop)
7. Thee Oh Sees - Carrion Crawler/Dream (In the Red)
8. Swiftumz - Don't Trip (Holy Mountain)
9. Cave - Neverendless (Drag City)
10. The Caretaker - An Empty Bliss Beyond This
(History Always Favours the Winners)

Note: listen to the entirety of An Empty Bliss here.

Worthy of note: Dum Dum Girls - Only in Dreams (Sub Pop),
the Fresh & Onlys - Secret Walls (Sacred Bones), Iceage - New
(What's Your Rupture), Jacuzzi Boys - Glazin' (Hardly
Art), Jeffrey Lewis - A Turn in the Dream-Songs (Rough Trade),
Mogwai - Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will (Sub Pop),
James Pants - self-titled (Stones Throw), The Strange Boys - Live Music (Rough Trade), Times New Viking - Dancer Equired (Merge),
Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring for My Halo (Matador), Vivian Girls -
Share the Joy (Polyvinyl Record Co.), Rusty Willoughby - Cobirds Unite (Local 638), and Wooden Shjips - West (Thrill Jockey).

Love what I heard (need to hear more): Alvarius B - Baroque Primitiva (Abduction), Charles Bradley - I Believe in Your Love (Daptone), Dirty Beaches - Badlands (Zoo Music), Kaleidoscope - self-titled (Shadoks), King Midas Sound - Without You (Hyperdub), The Men - Leave Home (Sacred Bones), Moon Wiring Club - A Spare Tabby at the Cat's Wedding (Gecophonic), Nouvelle Vague - Couleurs Sur Paris (Kwaidan), Peaking Lights - 936 (Not Not Fun), Roll the Dice - In Dust (Leaf), Sea Pinks - Dead Seas (CF/Recs), Various Artists - Those Shocking Shaking Days: Indonesian Hard, Psychedelic, Progressive Rock and Funk 19-
(Now-Again), Various Artists - Fac. Dance: Factory Records 12" Mixes & Rarities 1980-87 (Strut), and Various Ar-
tists - Wallahi Le Zein! Wezin Jakwar & Guitar (Latitudes).

Top reissues:
1. El Rego - El Rego (Daptone)
2. Various Artists - C'est Chic: French
Girl Singers of the 1960s
(Ace International)
3. The Fabulous Three - Best of... (Truth & Soul)
4. Melvin Davis - Detroit Soul Ambassador (Vampi Soul)
5. Index - Black Album + Red Album + Yesterday & Today (Lion)

On my list: Can - Tago Mago: 40th Anniversary (Mute), The
- This Nation's Saving Grace: Omnibus Edition (Beggars Ban-
quet), Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou - The 1st Album (Ana-
log Africa), Brenda Ray - Walatta (EM Japan), The Red Crayola -
God Bless the Red Krayola
and Parable of Arable Land (Snapper-
Charly), ROB - Funky Rob Way (Analog Africa), Talk Talk -
Laughing Stock
(Ba Da Bing), Vagrants - I Can't Make a Friend
(LitA), and Willie Wright - Telling the Truth (Numero Group).

Top singles (I like pop, too):
1. Adele - "Rolling in the Deep" (Columbia)
2. Lady Gaga - "Born This Way" (Interscope)
3. James Blake - Tie: "A Limit to Your Love"
and "The Wilhelm Scream" (Atlas/A&M)
4. The Horrors - "Still Life" (XL Recordings)
5. TV on the Radio - "Caffeinated Consciousness" (Interscope)
6. Tie: Spoek Mathambo - "She's Lost Control" (Sub
Pop) and Luis & the Wildfires - "Digital" (Wild/Norton)
7. The Pack a.d. - "Haunt You" (Mint)
8. Radiohead - “Lotus Flower” (TBD)
9. Bill Callahan - "America" (Drag City)
10. Cate Le Bon - "It Puts Me to Work" (The Control Group)

Worthy of note: Black Bananas with Kurt Vile - "Before They
Make Me Run" (Drag City), Field Music - "(I Keep Thinking about)
A New Thing" (Memphis Industries), Lykke Li - "Youth Knows No
Pain" (Atlantic), Neverever - "Wedding Day" (Slumberland), and
Young Magic - Tie: "Sparkly" and "Slip Time" (Carpark Records).

Labels of the year: Sacred Bones, Slumberland, and Sub Pop.

Bonus: Jennifer Egan's Pulitzer Prize-winning A Visit from the Goon Squad (paperback edition). Some of the music biz details ring true, some don't, but Egan is a brilliant structuralist, who ties all the disparate stories and eras together in an ingenious manner.

Rest in peace: Trish Keenan of Broadcast. Too fucking soon.

Endnote: The usual disclaimer applies. This list doesn't represent
the best music of the year, but the best of the music I heard (I'm
primarily a film writer, and my movie list provides a more accur-
ate snapshot of my taste). Given unlimited time, financial resour-
ces, and industry connections--which I have in the smallest of
quantities--it might look different. Except for Henge Beat.

Image: My pic of Total Control's Dan Stewart at the Crocodile.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

December Reviews


These are the reviews and other pieces I'm working on this month.

Amazon DVDs: Griff the Invisible (with Ryan Kwanten), No Strings Attached (with Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher),
and Wayne Wang's Snow Flower and the Secret Fan [Blu-ray].

Amazon Theatricals: Cameron Crowe's We Bought a Zoo and
A Separation (from the director of Fireworks Wednesday).

Still playing (or yet to open): 50/50, Contagion, The Descendants,
ve, The Help, Hugo, Into the Abyss, Melancholia, The Skin I Live In.

Armchair Commentary: Best Art House & International.

KCTS 9: on-line original interview ("Grunge: Mem-
ories of Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Mudhoney").

Line Out:
More Treasures from the Factory Archives,
This Is for Kelly O, California Dreamin' with Neverever,
Still Corners - "Into the Trees," Reading & Performance
with Bill See
, Frankie Rose's Interstellar Overdrive, The
Fabric of Our Lives
, Ain't Sweet No More: Remember-
ing Grunge
, The Truth About Year-End Music Lists,
Too Sexy for Their Computers, Just in Time for the
Holidaze - More Merch
, Riffing with David, Eugene,
and Chris
, El Rego's Beautiful Life, Young Magic -
"Sparkly," Home Alive Documentary, The Men
Announce New Album
, Top CD Stacks of 2011,
What I Didn't Get for Christmas, Cate Le Bon-
"Fold the Cloth," My Sunshine: A Segall Set.

Siffblog: Hipsters / Stilyagi (at the Egyptian).

Video Librarian: CD Highway [six-disc set], Eastern
, I'm Glad My Mother Is Alive, The Piano in a Fac-
, Boardwalk Empire - The Complete First Season [5-
disc set]
, Mildred Pierce [two-disc set], Putty Hill - Col-
lector's Edition
[two-disc set], When Strangers Click,
Placebo - We Come in Pieces
[Blu-ray], God Bless
Ozzy Osbourne
[Blu-ray], Daddy Longlegs, and
Deep Purple with Or
chestra [Blu-ray].

Endnote: ACR image from Amazon/SoundUnwound.