Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Favorite Moments of 2009

So another year has passed and it feels like it was merely a month long. So much happened to me this year (probably more so than any other year of my life) that it really is difficult to recollect all of them, so this is my best shot. Here we go...

10. The Cliffhanger of Season 5 of LOST. EPIC!

9. Surfing the Longest Left in the World in Chicama, Peru.

8. Finally Seeing Sci-Fi Get the Respect it Deserves in Cinematic Offerings: Star Trek, District 9, Avatar, and Moon

7. 4th of July in Front of the Washington Monument

6. Summitting Machu Picchu

5. Witnessing In-Person Ben Roethlisberger's Game Winning Pass to Mike Wallace With No Time Left on the Clock Against The Packers in Pittsburgh PA With My Dad

4. Getting My First "Real" Job

3. Moving Away From my Hometown For the First Time

2. The Inauguration of Barack Obama

1. Getting Engaged to Lia Daniele Kerner

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Romantic Comedies of 2009: A Rebirth in Honesty

In previous years, cinema was jam packed with cliched stereotypes of modern relationships. They always characterized men as "A" and/or women as "B." It was always black and white, with the blame of a failed relationship resting on one or the other's shoulders—never both, which is often the case for most relationships.

But this year we saw something different, a rebirth in "date-cinema" if you will. This year we had movies like Away We Go, Julie and Julia, and (500) Days of Summer. In these films we see couples go through hard times, find themselves, fight, make-up and grow in different ways.

In Away We Go we track a madly-in-love couple on their search to find a home for themselves and their new baby. This is probably the most optimistic-without-being-overly-sentimental take on a couple I have ever seen. Why in the past has it been a bad thing to show a couple that is completely falling apart in every area of their lives except for their love? Sure, they have financial problems, they don’t really have direction in their lives, but they know they have each other and to them, that’s all that matters. Perhaps that’s why the film was not more widely praised. People like to see couples that fight—they like for someone to do something wrong or screw-up. But that has since become tired. Perhaps what would be more interesting is a couple, madly in love in a cynical world.

Julie & Julia we see two couples that strain as the women in the relationships try to achieve their own personal goals. Here's where the film gets original: both of the men in the relationship are 100% supportive. They love their wives and want the best for them. It's when faced with challenges—either self-inflicted or from an outside source—that we see a struggle. You never for an instance doubt that these couples love each other. It is assumed that these men will support their wives, these are good guys. The real question is how much will the women allow their men to support them? What happens when these women become consumed by their work? It’s refreshing to see men displayed in a positive light—as many times and stereotypically, they are seen to be threatened by their mates’ success and ambition.

The oddball of the three—and my favorite is (500) Days of Summer. A story told about a 500-day relationship between a guy and a girl told out of order, this flick is original and refreshing. What happens when you have a hopeless romantic fall in love with someone who doesn't believe in love? Joseph Gordon Levitt plays a Lloyd-Dobler-esque guy who is trying to figure himself out as he finds himself falling for a girl, a girl who he thinks is the "girl of his dreams.” The little film has a lot to say about fate, coincidence, reality vs. expectations and how we often idealize certain parts of our relationships, or certain aspects of our partners. It is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind meets Say Anything. The thing I loved the most about this film is that both characters are young, funny, flawed and irresistibly lovable. Both do their fair share of damage, even though the film is told from the male perspective. They are real and hilarious, which in turn makes them touching and heartfelt. They are the opposite of the one-dimensional male/female archetypes that are found in so many romantic comedies of the past.

Perhaps what we need today is to stop looking at who is right and who is wrong in relationships. We love to blame and we love to generalize. "Men are so blah blah blah.” "Women are so blah blah blah.” Instead, how about this: we are all out of our minds. Every single one of us is just as nutty and ridiculous as the other. We all screw things up at one point or another. It's when we find the person that we want to spend the rest of our lives with that things begin to make sense. That we REALLY begin to mature. Because it’s then and only then that we are able to put someone else’s needs in front of our own. We need more movies that show us these things. We need movies showing a relationship being destroyed by (and from) both sides. And we really need movies showing couples that love each other without reason and without condition. Because, let's face it, in this world, if two people can find a way to love each other like that, there may still be a little hope for the rest of us.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chan Chan Chan

I've been listening to Cat Power a lot lately. Actually, to clarify: I've been listening "Metal Heart" by Cat Power a lot lately. The reason is because at work I've just recently moved into a big room, and I'm the only one in it. It's probably a 30x10 foot room, all by myself. But this emptiness comes with a new freedom--and this is where the Cat Power song comes into play. I've hooked up these speakers to my computer--and I play that shit loud. I'm on the first floor--far away from everybody so I'm not disturbing anyone (even though I imagine the lame fifty-five year old men directly above me on the second floor complaining about "that damn twenty-something"). There is just something about the soul of her voice that fills up that room. It envelopes the corners and pulses in the walls.

Basically it's about the little things. It always has been. It probably always will be. Life is too short to listen to music played too softly.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Movie Review: Food Inc. (2009)

One of the best documentaries I have seen in a while. The non-biased approach to this film makes it very hard to argue against. But who really would want to? I mean I dont know very many people who would argue for these big corporations that would rather see dollar signs than a healthy America.

The food industry is one of the biggest, as well as highly subsidized, industries in the United States. Although some of the information in this film may seem like common sense (for instance food being cleaned or inspected before it is shipped to consumers), it's shocking how much is ignored. The film also brings to light how difficult the fight in Washington is because these corporations have so many well-paid lawyers determined to bring down any kind of hardship these corporations may face.

Food Inc. (2009) brings to light several issues that are often overlooked, making you very careful of where you shop, and what you buy--as you should be. I would be surprised if anyone watches this film and then goes straight back to their regular eating habits.

What I found most interesting about this film is that it doesn't just tackle the health risks of these big corporations not getting the proper oversight over their products, but it also tackles the economic issues as well. These large corporations are slowly but surely putting hard-working, honest farmers out of business.

I read in a magazine the other day that 70 cents of every dollar that you spend in a local store stays in your community, while only 20 cents of every dollar spent in a chain stays. Hard facts to ignore when the economy is in the can...

Check out this film--it may be the most important film made this year!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My Favorite Films of the Decade

So I put this list together kind of haphazardly. I was reading a lot of other peoples (EW, The AV Club, Total Film etc) and found that I had a lot of agreements as well as a lot of disagreements. So I decided to go through the arduous task of making my own--which proved to be more difficult than I had foreseen. It basically made me come to the conclusion that we may have had one of the best decades for cinema since the 70's. There were breakthrough's in all fields (animation, technology, even script syntax).

Now please keep in mind that I haven't seen very many films of this year, so there is a lack of 2009 films--but I will try to update this list if I do see anything that deserves to be on this list. I put these films in a vague kind of order, but I'd pay no real attention to that. All of these films are fantastic in their own right.

Here we go:

1. There Will Be Blood (2007)
2. City of God (2003)
3. Children of Men (2006)
4. The Departed (2006)
5. The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003)
6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
7. No Country for Old Men (2007)
8. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
9. Volver (2006)
10. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
11. Control (2007)
12. The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
13. WALL-E (2008)
14. The Pianist (2002)
15. Adaptation. (2002)
16. The Lives of Others (2006)
17. Amelie (2001)
18. All the Real Girls (2003)
19. Up (2009)
20. The King Of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007)
21. Zodiac (2007)
22. Lost in Translation (2003)
23. Amores Perros (2001)
24. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)
25. The Dark Knight (2008)
26. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Favorite Music of 2009

Animal Collective- Merriweather Post Pavillion/Be Fall Kind EP

Accessible, yet still challenging,
Merriweather Post Pavillion is the most rewarding experience of 2009 returning the effort you give it ten-fold. I will admit, it took me a while to actually get into this album, but once I did I couldnt stop spinning it. Songs like "My Girls," "Summertime Clothes," and "Lion in a Coma" envelope into musical nirvana, sending you into a dizzying bliss. Merriweather Post Pavillion is more than worth the price. Also, the album sports the trippiest album art, probably ever. And then, after we've gotten into Merriweather Post Pavillion, and it has worn its way into our minds, they release the Be Fall Kind EP, almost as if to say "...and we're not going anywhere." A great open and close to a year that was full of great, innovative music.

Bat for Lashes-
Two Suns

The most soothing album of the year, as well as one of the best,
Two Suns, is an experiment in passion. The yearning behind Natasha Khan's voice is infectious, and beautiful. Her most ambitious album to date helps show her maturity as an artist as well as her creativity. Her soulful voice may seem on paper to be at odds with her choice of foreign drum patterns and alien vibes, yet they match perfectly. The trap of "style over substance" is avoided as well, due to Khan's song writing prowess, put best to use on songs such as "Daniel" and "Siren Song." In the latter Khan belts: "My name is Pearl and I love you/the best way I know how." The details on what exactly the "best way" entails is never given, nor is it needed. You hear it in the power of her voice.

Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

Yes, the one with the song from the Cadillac commercial.
Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is the most fun record of the year. To listen to tracks like "1901" and "Lisztomania" is to hear "dance rock" at its best. The highpoint of the album, however, is at the instrumental center of the album with "Love Like A Sunset." The track(s)--depending on how you look at it--start with the simplest of keynotes, but quickly delves into a majestry of tone and songwork. This is indeed, Phoenix's best work to date and shows that they are ready to play with their sound and venture into new territory. I welcome it all the more.

Grizzly Bear-

When Grizzly Bear released their debut
Yellow House they were quickly noted as artists to watch in music zines across America. Then they released Veckatimest, which is more of a refinement of their sound than it is a continuation. And what a sound it is. Being best described as melodic-chamber indie rock, Grizzly Bear furthers their ability to create some of the most powerful, albeit gentle, music around. The track "Ready, Able" is one of my favorites of the year as it slow-builds into one of the most dream-like melodys created. It's a strange experience as the album is most certainly on the softer side--the tunes evoke head nods that would most likely be performed during something edgier or more intense. But alas, Grizzly Bear pulls it off, and sucks you into their world of harmonizing vocals and subtle guitars.

Only Built For Cuban Linx Pt. II

The album that most Wu-Tang fans never thought would be made (it had been rumored to be released for years) does the impossible and doesnt dissappoint in the face of staggering hype. While Raekwons rhymes certainly aren't for the faint of heart, his mafia-tales are just as gritty and details as they were when he first came in the scene. With the help of longtime collaborator and fellow Wu-Tang member Ghostface Killah, Raekwon bursts back onto the scene as though he never left.
Although Only Built For Cuban Linx Part II never reaches the epic heights the first album does (doing so would be near-impossible), the album is a worthy successor, which of course is saying a lot. To those who say "rap has lost it's edge" I'd reccommend giving this record a listen.


Perhaps the best debut of the year,
Album is the best Beach Boys record that Elvis Costello never made. Somehow both meloncholic and fun at the same time, Girls take their album the simple route: straight-forward rock, and it works. Stand-out tracks like "Lust for Life" and "Laura" make use of singer Christopher Owens' croon as he sings rock songs about, well, heartbreak. The thing that makes these songs work is their honesty. Owens' life-story is one for the record books as he was raised in a cult, fled, and lived as a homeless teenager for years before being adopted by a millionaire who gave him the chance to let his art flourish. His songs and voice seem wise beyond their singers years because he is.

Mos Def-
The Ecstatic

Mos Def has experimented with his music for years, flirting with styles of rock and blues. On
The Ecstatic--perhaps the best example of Mos Def's overall style--Def pushes his music to the boundaries and creates the best album of his career. His syrupy flow reaches never-before-seen heights on tracks such as "Quiet Dog Bite Hard" and "Supermagic." And his lyrics are as sharp as ever, mixing political sharpness with street-wise libretto better than anyone in the game. Even though this record is sprinkled with middle-eastern influences and touches, it is still undeniably Brooklyn-esque, and that is due to Mos Def himself.

Yo La Tengo- Popular Songs

A hazy mix of melancholy soft-indie-rock songs from some of the masters. The most impressive part of this album is how it acts as a mixed-bag of a Yo La Tengo songs that have never been released before. The album's opener, "Here to Fall" is a blend of subtly controlled distortion and guitar riffs. "The Fireside" is an eleven-minute jam of beautiful drum-patterns and swying vocals. This is a Yo La Tengo record through and through--and that is obviously a good thing!

Jay-Z- The Blueprint III

Of course Jay isn't rapping about the hood like he used to. He doesn't LIVE in the hood like he used to. The thing that struck me the most about this album is the way it is Jay rapping about the love of his life (sorry Beyonce), hip-hop. This album is all about Jay looking back at what he has done, and the genre that he helped create. On "A Star is Born" Jay pays tribute to rappers before him, and hose that will be getting their shot in the very near future. "Empire State of Mind" is more about the creativity that the city breeds rather than the city itself. "Forever Young" seems to evoke the way music will have an everlasting power over those who embrace it, and will make you feel as though you can live forever. Sure it may not be as good as The Black Album and The Blueprint, but was anybody really expecting that? This album was made for the Jay-Z fans, and as a Jay-Z fan, I love it.

Japandriods- Post-Nothing

"We used to dream/now we worry about dying." Could there be a more exacting statement on what it feels like to see your youth become a memory. The world seemed so huge when we were young. Now we have jobs, bills, and actual responsibilities. Japandroids debut release is a simple rock album that evokes the feelings of both being young as well as the yearning to be a kid once more. And when I say kid I don't mean a simple eigth grader. I mean a teenager on the precipice of life, drinking to much, staying out too late, and getting into to too much trouble. To say that's what life is about, may come across as shallow. But what I really mean by those statements is that it is the closest we can come to real freedom. In our minds it didnt really matter. Our juvenile actions had consequences but they were neither harsh nor everlasting. Post-Nothing doesn't try to hard to be ground-breaking, or thought-provoking. It wants to be a rock record that you play at 3 AM while you're driving home from the bar with too many people shoved in your sedan. It succeeds.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Night I Missed Bruce

Monday night Bruce Springsteen played Born to Run in its entirety here in Washington DC. I came so close to going that it actually pains me to put into writing the events that occured. Let me just put it this way to save myself some agony: I came as close as a person could possibly come to seeing his or her hero perform his or her most classic album all the way through.

Sitting at my house at around 7:30 I thought about what the Boss was playing. I wondered what he would open with--especially considering his cousin had passed away a few days prior. When Lia and I saw him on the 2008 Magic Tour, Danny Federici, the original E-Street Band organ player and dear friend to Bruce, had passed away after a long fight with leukimia. He opened up with "Souls of the Departed" a rarely-played track he had recorded on the Lucky Town album. I found out later that Bruce dedicated the DC show to his cousin, and then proceeded to open the show with an emotional "Outlaw Pete." An interesting choice, indeed.

My mind wandered on--I wanted to know what Clarence's saxophone solo on "Jungleland" sounded like in-person. I wanted to see feel the opening bars of "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out" raise the hairs on my forearms. I wanted to see The Boss sing the story about two kids getting in to deep with organized crime in "Meeting Across the River".

Some things just aren't meant to be. I guess I'll have to keep my fingers crossed he will still be doing his full album set-lists the next time I see him.

Oh well. What can ya do?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween=Horror Movie Marathons (or Davids favorite horror movies)

So...I have complied a list of movies that I will (at least try) to watch on (or around) Halloween:

Here we go

To start things off: Shaun of the Dead (Gotta start things off on a positive note...)

Evil Dead

Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn


Alien (A different choice--but somehow still works)

Dawn of the Dead (1977)

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Friday the 13th (1980)


28 days later...

The Bride of Frankenstein (if I can get a hold of it)


...if I can get around to watching half of these...I'll be a happy guy.

New Spoon Album! Yes!

New Spoon Album! Yes!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

23 on the 23rd

Right now I am laying on the couch, stomach down, stretched out, listening to the new Yo La Tengo album Popular Songs. It is excellent, and the rain coming down outside only adds to the melanholy ambiance coming form my macbook's little speakers.

Yesterday was my birthday, and I spent it hanging around the house with my fiance and her family. If you had asked me any other day what I would've preferred to do on my 23rd birthday, hanging out with family may have not been the first thing I would've said. But for some reason yesterday it just felt perfect. I talked Steelers football with my soon-to-be brother-in-law, while my fiance and her sisters gabbed about family stuff.

Am I getting older, or does has the appeal of going out and "partying hard just because" lost its allure?

I think it's probably both but all I know is that this weekend is going by sweetly. Also, 23 is an age that sounds old. 21 and 22 still sounded young, but for some reason 23 seems different.I mean my life is drastically different today than it was a year ago. So maybe that has something to do with it. Actually, Im pretty sure it does.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Yesterday Afternoon...

Yesterday I blogged about my dog, Amelia and how much she meant to me. Later that day, when I went home to grab a quick bite to eat, I found something horrifying: Amelia lying in the kitchen surrounded by blood and diarrhea.

I franticly cleaned up the mess and called the nearest vet asking if there was anyway that we could come in for an emergency. They responded positively telling me to hurry because of the severity of her symptoms.

I rushed as Amelia lethargically walked out the door with me and hopped into her spot (my passenger side seat).

Five hours, countless tests and $750 later, the vets inform me that they think Amelia may have ingested a type of rat poison because her blood was not clotting. They also informed me that had I waited to bring her in, she would have bled to death because of how thin her blood had become due to the poison.

I quickly vanquished my shock at the amount of bills I had to pay. Amelia could have died. I glanced over at Lia, who had come to the vet's with me. She rubbed my hand reassuringly and told me that it didnt matter what we had to pay. That Amelia is our dog and we would have done anything to keep her safe and healthy.

Even when Amelia had epilepsy, I never thought that she might actually die from it. I spent the night cuddling her and stroking her head. Telling her, once again, "Everything is ok. Daddy is here."

Its amazing the power these creatures can have over us. Amelia is not just a canine companion. She is part of my family.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Must Love Dogs

This morning Amelia had an accident all over the kitchen floor. It was awful, and not very good timing either as Lia and I decided to sleep in a little later than usual. As we held our breath and cleaned up the mess, Amelia walked over to her chair and hopped in. She curled herself up and put her little head down on top of her paws as she watched her Mommy and Daddy grumble and work. She knew that we were dissappointed in her.

I walked over once we finished and scratched her on her head. Her droopy eyes looking up at me like a child preparing for a scolding.

"It's okay sweetheart," I said as I leaned in to give her a kiss. "It was only an accident and Daddy still loves you."

I named Amelia after the french film Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain or Amelie. I didnt want to be cheesy and make it a completely direct connection so I altered the name just a bit. In the film the main character, Amelie, dedicates her life to bringing small bits of joy to others in different ways. I bought Amelia in the wake of a rough break-up, so naturally I was a bit in the dumps. When it came to naming her it was the first thing to come to my mind. I knew I would be relying on this little black-and-white pup to cheer me up as I knew that more rocky roads were ahead.

Of course I was right on both accounts. I ended up going through rough patches in school, I made bad decisions, and decided to change up my life--pushing the people who I thought were friends out of my perimeter. It was something that needed to be done because I was not functioning well in the group I had created.

The one thing I didn't expect was how lonely my decisions would make me.

Days were speant going to school, coming home, walking Amelia on endless walks, going into work, and then studying or going to sleep. Human connection was kept at a minimum.

The only thing that never dissappointed me was Amelia. She was always there, at the foot of my bed, eager top be played with or talked to.

Perhaps it is no wonder if you ask my fiance, Lia, what one of the first things she liked about me was my dog. In fact one of the first times Lia and I ever "bonded" was when Amelia was sick and we both sat with her stroking her head. Nothing is more heart-breaking than a dog who doesnt know what is happening to them. Amelia has idiosymatic-epilepsy, which means that she can have seizures at any time and anything can trigger it. Once, Amelia had one of her fits whenever Lia was over at my apartment. We looked over and rushed to her side. Lia sat and watched as I poured over my girl calming her, and whispering "It's ok, Daddy is here."

The results went something like this: Lia fell in love with my dog, and in turn fell in love with me.

I owe a lot of things to my dog. She was there for me when I felt like I had noone. She nuzzled her head into my hand (something she still does to this day) just when I needed it. She helped me find the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with. Man's best friend seems like an understatement.

Monday, October 19, 2009

We Were Once A Fairtytale- Spike Jonze and Kanye West

So this is what you get when you meld the minds of two creative geniuses. Perhaps this was a timed career move for Kanye, but when the results are this introspective, who the hell cares. I sure hope Kanye can get his act together, because he has so many gifts it would be a shame to see them fade away.

Jonze is, of course, one of the most creative inventive directors working in cinema today. I mean just look at the emotions he can convey without the use of millions of dollars of CGI. Jonze uses whatever means necessary in order to capture his vision and the results are always stunning.

Inside all of us...

We went and saw the film Where the Wild Things Are on Saurday night. It was a fantastic movie. More beautiful and insightful than I had expected (which was a lot). It brought out some emotions in me that I hadn't felt in a long time. Those basically belonging to my inner-eight-year-old. It made me miss being young and free. So much of that is lost so quickly, and we never even realize it is leaving.

I miss the days when the biggest tragedy of the day would be because my igloo got stomped on, or I got sent to my room. Im not saying this to suggest that now that I'm "grown-up" I've got bigger, more important things to worry about. I'm saying this because when those things are your biggerst worries, your biggest concerns, your imagination is set to run wild. Life is limitless, and all things are possible. Its only until we grow older that we start viewing the world in a more cynical way. We begin to learn that people will always dissappoint us, no matter how close we are to them. We learn that things don't always work out the way we want them to--and that merely is a part of life. We begin to expect less of people and our surroundings.

That is the true tragedy of growing up. Not the responsibilities that start to weigh down on our shoulders. Not the loads of bills that acrue on our kitchen table that we pretend arent there. The true tragedy is that we begin to lose sight of what made every day a new adventure. Things become boring and mundane.

I think we should all try to at least see through the eyes of an eight-year-old at least once a day. Do things that we normally wouldnt because we would normally think "what's the point?" Run up to a bunch of birds and watch as they all fly away. Kick a big pile of leaves only to get our shoes wet and dirty. Lie on our backs and let our dogs lick our faces.

I am grown-up now. I have a job, a beautiful fiance, two amazing dogs, a townhouse, and a car. My life is more complicated today than it was fourteen years ago. But that's life.

I think I'm going to try to see the world through the eyes of an eight-year-old at least once a day.

Starting today.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Good Stuff

God Bless Thom Yorke.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Phoenix- Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

Im pretty sure this album came out this summer therefore Im a little late, but damn if this isnt a good album. I mean it is such a fun, tightly constructed piece of music. I cant really imagine enjoying something else more this year.

I listened to it on repeat at work today, thinking I was going to make my co-workers sick, but of course Bob, a 40-year-old ex marine (the last person you'd think would be into music like this) asked me what I was jamming out to because he was on his way to best buy on the way home.

I was first introduced to Phoenix through Sofia Coppola's film "Lost in Translation" to which they provided the fantastic song "Too Young." I know I should have payed more attention to them when I first heard that track back in 2004, but of course some bands somehow manage to fall through the cracks. Phoenix obviously was determined to not let that happen to them as they churned out two of the most accessible, fun, albums of the decade.

If you are in the mood for something breezy, fun, but still a bit introspective, I'd give this album a listen. It will definitely be in heavy rotation in my car!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

20 Favorite Songs of the Decade

Thought this might be an interesting exercise...

also I'm sure the list would change if I wrote it tomorrow--or any other day...

20) "Young Folks" by Peter Bjorn and John from Writers Block

19) "Staring at the Sun" by TV on the Radio from Desperate Youth And Blood-thirsty Babes

18) "Diamonds from Sierra Leone" by Kanye West from Late Registration

17) "Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl" by Broken Social Scene from You Forgot It In People

16) "99 Problems" by Jay-Z from The Black Album

15) "It's Gonna Take an Airplane" by Destroyer from Your Blues

14) "The Wrestler" by Bruce Springsteen from Working On A Dream

13) "Two Weeks" by Grizzly Bear from Veckatimest

12) "My Girls" by Animal Collective from Merriweather Post Pavillion

11) "Carry Me Ohio" by Sun Kil Moon from Ghosts Of The Great Highway

10) "3rd Planet" by Modest Mouse from The Moon And Antarctica

9) "Mississippi" by Bob Dylan from Love And Theft

8) "Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)" by Jay-Z from The Blueprint

7) "Chicago" by Sufjan Stevens from Come On Feel The Illinoise!

6) "Slow Show" by The National from Boxer

5) "New Slang" by The Shins from Oh, Inverted World

4) "The Rising" by Bruce Springsteen from The Rising

3) "Ideoteque" by Radiohead from Kid A

2) "Wake Up" by Arcade Fire from Funeral

1) "All My Friends" by LCD Soundsystem Sounds of Silver

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I hated it when people would do these...

But self-loathing can be kind of sweet.

1. What is your current obsession? Halo 3 on Xbox Live. Yes I know...very nerdy.

2. What is your weirdest obsession? Teen Melodrama on Friday Night Lights (The TV show)

3. Recall a fond childhood memory? Friday Blockbuster nights back when my parents were still together. It's the only memory I have from that long ago. (Dad always let me rent Star Wars).

4. What’s for dinner? Probably pasta.

5. What would you eat for your last meal? Pad Thai with Chicken from Indochine.

6. What’s the last thing you bought? Literally? A 12 pack of Miller Lite.

7. What are you listening to right now? Merriweather Post Pavilion by Animal Collective

8. What do you think of the person who tagged you? I didn't get tagged. I'm just bored.

9. If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished, anywhere in the world, where would it be? Manhattan.

10. If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go? Buenos Aires.

11. Which language do you want to learn? Italian.

12. What’s your favourite quote (for now)? "life is so very fragile. we are all vulnerable, and we will all, at some point in our lives...fall. we will all fall. we must carry this in our hearts, that what we have is special. that it can be taken from us, and when it is taken from us, we will be tested. We will be tested to our very souls. we will now all be tested. It is these times, it is this pain, that allows us to look inside ourselves."

13.What is your favourite color? Blue...usually those of a lighter shade.

14. What is your favourite piece of clothing in your own wardrobe? One of my Bruce Springsteen t-shirts.

15. What is your dream job? Anywhere in the Department of Education

16.What’s your favourite magazine? The Economist

17. If you had $100 now, what would you spend it on? A wallet and some cds.

18. Describe your personal style? Ummm I guess it would be relaxed?

19. What are you going to do after this? Haven't thought that far yet.

20. What are your favourite films? Blade Runner, Magnolia, The Godfather, The Motorcycle Diaries, Raging Bull, Amelie, quite a few more too...

21. What’s your favorite fruit? Green apples.

22.What inspires you? People.

23. Your favorite books? Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer,The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

24. Do you collect anything? DVDs i guess.

25. Any advice from bitter experience? Sic Transit Gloria...glory fades.

26. What makes you follow a blog? If it's good.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Science Fiction: A Cinematic Black Sheep Or Diamond In The Rough?

Science Fiction movies get a bad rap these days. Let's face it, for every good sci-fi film there are about 20 bad ones. But let's be serious, isn't that the same with any genre? I mean honestly, wouldn't the ratio be the same for say, romantic comedies, family films, or horror?

But for some reason when people ask you what kind of movies you like, people cringe when you say science fiction. Why is this? And please don't say "sci-fi is for nerds," because honestly, we are all nerds in our own way. Whether it's lining up to catch the latest Star Wars in theaters, spending rediculous amounts of money to see Taylor Swift, or even making sure that you are decked out from head to toe in your favorite sports team's clothes we all are a little bit nerdy.

But why does the sci fi genre tend to make people turn up their nose?

I think it's because good sci-fi poses questions that might make people uncomfortable. This is different from most genres because a lot of movies make statements or observations about us. But sci-fi successfully poses questions about us, some that we often are not willing to try to answer because those answers may scare us.

I'll provide a few examples:

Children of Men (2005)--What would happen if a generation did not have to worry about the next?

Wall-E (2008)--What would we (or more importantly the world) look like if a corporation got so big and powerful that it became our world?

Brazil (1985)--What if the government became a beauracracy that used fear as its means for controlling its citizens?

Blade Runner (1982)--What if we had the power to build life?

People don't always have quick and easy answers to these questions, which I think bothers a lot of people. Some could write off these things as "never being able to happen." Not only do I beg for you to look at the question I said Brazil posed but I think we should also define sci-fi as a whole. I think also what turns people off of sci-fi is the fact that actual rules for a film to qualify as sci-fi is for it to actually be grounded in a world like our own. Everything in a sci-fi film has an explanation grounded in real life--as far-fetched as these rules may sometimes be. It doesn't necessarily have to take place in the future--though most sci-fi does--but I think what may turn people off is that these visions of reality are a bit too close for comfort for them.

People often say that sci-fi is just weird, but i think that those people are just close-minded. Yes it can be strange, but it can also be intellectually--and sometimes philosophically--stimulating.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Academy Cheapen Their Most Sought After Category

So yesterday it was announced that the Academy Awards will now widen the competition for the Best Picture award from five to ten nominations. To most people, this will mean next to nothing. But to people such as myself, who love movies, love the oscars, and love to debate after the fact, this is a bit of a shocker. Why would the Academy do such a thing?

There are several reasons. One is that for years and years there have always been, at the very least one movie that was left out of the competition that deserved to be there. I really thought that the film Wall-E had a shot at being the second animated film to be nominated for best picture last year (the first was Beauty and the Beast). But alas, the Academy nominated The Reader (a good film but not the best of the year). One thing that opening up the competition could do is allow for more films that often get overlooked such as animated films and foreign films. One could say that these films already have their own category in the first place. But what happens in Wall-E's case where the film was easily better than the majority of the films that were out there by a long-shot.

However, my gripe is this. I love Pixar's films. But I don't want them to get a Best Picture nomination because the Academy decided to widen the field. I want them to get a nomination because they make damn good movies. Their films are easily in the top 10 each year. I want the Academy to put them up there with the Steven Spielberg films and the Peter Jackson films. Because in my eyes they are just as good, and in some cases better.

The other reason the academy is doing this is for a reason that makes a little bit more sense and sounds a little bit more like Hollywood with a capital H--money. If they can nominate more movies then more stars have the chance to walk the red carpet, which makes the event more "glamorous."

This is crap if you ask me. These awards ceremonies are not about the stars or the amount of glitz and glamour. These ceremonies are supposed to celebrate an art form and congratulate filmmakers on creating works that further our knowledge of ourselves and the world around us.

Are we forgetting why people love movies in the first place. It's because art has the ability to affect us and change us. Art has the ability to make us better people, to challenge our thoughts and our beliefs. These award ceremonies are supposed to celebrate the films that do this to the best of their ability. They are NOT supposed to be about the latest headline in Perez Hilton's blog.

I was all for a bit of a shake up in the way these award ceremonies were done because of the simple fact that phenomenal films like Wall-E get left out of the mix, but doubling the size of the race is not the answer. In my opinion, all that you had to do was add one or two more slots to the race and it should work fine. You wouldn't have snubs such as Wall-E, The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, or Children of Men.

Also, part of the fun of the Academy Awards is arguing until your face turns blue that your favorite film didn't make the cut. And what happens when there aren't ten stand-out films in a year (something that happens more than you think)? Will the Academy stoop to nominating films like Transformers 2 simply because they made a ton of money?

After hearing the news yesterday I don't think I'd be surprised.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Another Must-Read Friedman Article

Friedman is honestly one of the most interesting mids writing in politics today.

I like him.

In Transition

So we have Iranian protests over an obviously fraudulent election, a governor from South Carolina who decided to spend Father's Day in Argentina to "get away" without telling anyone--including his wife and kids--and a prominent football coach in Idaho died after being shot in the weight room of his school.

These are the headlines of the day.
I'm sitting here watching my dogs play in my new townhouse, waiting for my new job to start. It's a shitty job--waiting tables at a Macaroni Grill--but it's a job no less and in today's economic climate one can't really complain. But still, sitting here waiting for a job to start feels pretty pathetic, especially when people are silently protesting for the voting rights to be reinstated in Teheran.

Boredom can eat at ones soul. That may seem melodramatic, especially considering that there are thousands of people in school or work that would kill for just one day to absolutely nothing, but I'll be the first to say it--to many days of doing nothing can slowly make one look at these four walls and wonder how they would look with soft white padding.

Anyways, enough with feeling sorry for myself, there have been positive aspects of being stuck with nothing to do. I've recently been reading a lot more, something I always wished I had more time to do. I also realized that I was one of those people who bought a lot of books at one time, but usually only had the time to read one or two. As I now look over at my bookshelf I'm realizing that there are a few books that haven't even had their precious spines cracked yet.

One other thing that I've found is that I've become even more fascinated with the way our world has become more socially connected through digital means. First you has the election of President Barack Obama which started the whole political fascination with online networking, but now Twitter--an online networking tool that has become the butt-end of most jokes due to it's unfortunate name--has become one of the most important and widely used weapons in the Iranian conflict.

Our world is changing and I'm sitting here watching MSNBC and reading a Che Guevara biography. I will admit that I am happier with where my life is going today than I ever have been. I know that is a pretty vague statement but I don't know any straighter way to put it. I'm ready to get things started.

One thing is for sure though: life in a transition can be rough but there sure is a lot to look at.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Che: A Unique Experience

So I finally saw it. It's taken almost 6 months but I finally got around to catching Steven Soderbergh's epic, 4-and-a-half-hour long biopic about the revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara. All I can say is that I was floored by the ambitious effort and that it should not be missed by anyone who is interested in this sort of project.

This film is certainly not for everybody, and those who are not interested in a movie about Guevara will probably not be as enthusiastic about the film as I am. What is interesting about this film is that it is not a romantic film that holds Guevara and his politics up on a pedastal. The film does not try to sway anybody's feelings on the revolutionary. If you are sympathetic to Guevara's cause then the film will probably speak on a different level to you than it would on those who think less of him.

What the film does is take a historical account (almost in a documentary style) of the revolutions that Che led. The first part of the film details the Cuban Revolution, where Guevara and Castro led a grassroots movement--which started with a mere 80 men--and inspired the people to overthrow the Batista dictatorship. The film inter-splices black and white scenes depicting Guevara's controversial visit to the UN. The second part details Che's failed campaign in Bolivia, as he attempted to bring the revolution to all of Latin America. Still using a documentary-style of storytelling the second part gives the film it's arc. The rise and fall of Che.

Shedding light on a man that most Americans don't really take the time to understand, the film succeeds in showing what life was life as a revolutionary, and how--for the majority of the time--it wasn't as glamorous as people think. What these men did was hard, and the film is a testament to them as well as their leader, Che.

Benicio Del Toro stated that controversy always comes with people "who have truly lived." I have always been inspired by Che, not just on his politics, but his loyalty to his beliefs as well. He never compromised his beliefs for anyone, leaving a position of leadership in Cuba in order to bring what he saw as freedom to Latin America. Che unapologetically "truly lived." He lived to bring prosperity to people who were suffering around the world. There is no question why he is loved and looked at as a hero by many around the world. But as Del Toro stated, controversy always comes with people "who have truly lived."

Friday, March 20, 2009

Bruce on The Daily Show

I imagine I would act similarly to that of Jon Stewart.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Female Directors: The Ghosts of Cinema?

Finding well-known female directors is a very difficult task. I consider myself to be somewhat of a film-buff, yet I was unable to think of more than two or three female directors off the top of my head. The two that did stick out to me, I’m ashamed to say, did not stick out just because of their work, but people tied to their work.  The first would be Sophia Coppola, the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, has made only a few films, yet all of them have been unique and stylish. The other director is Nora Ephron. The only reason I know of her is because my girlfriend is a big fan of Sleepless in Seattle (1993). While these directors may not be the most well known names (or at least their first names aren’t) their work has certainly given cinema something you might call a “woman’s touch.”

            Sophia Coppola is either known as three different things: Francis Ford Coppola’s daughter, the reason Godfather III (1990) was less than what was expected, or the director of such ground-breaking visual films as Lost in Translation (2003) and Marie Antoinette (2006). The fact that her last name is Coppola really is a shame as Sophia may never be able to get out of the enormous shadow that her father casts. Yet it is not for lack of trying. With Lost in Translation she became one of three women ever to be nominated for the Best Directing Oscar. Her style is of her own, each film having a dreamlike quality with its images and cinematography. The existentialism within Lost in Translation is unique and charming. Coppola explores themes as deep as the meaning of life, yet doesn’t dumb down the audience by trying to answer these questions. She let’s us ponder our own answers while we watch Scarlett johannsen drive around a beautiful downtown Tokyo at night, listening to the song “Sometimes” by My Bloody Valentine. There is no doubt that Coppola is talented.The question is would she where she is today if it weren’t for her father. We can only guess, but I’d assume the answer would be “no.” Then again there are several female directors in the world, it’s just that not all of them have their Dads as one of cinema’s most well-known, well-respected directors. Coppola’s father no doubt helped get her where she is today, but it is Coppola’s vision, and her vision alone that is on the screen, and we are lucky to have it.

            Perhaps one of the best writers as well as directors of romantic-comedy films would be Nora Ephron. Ephron’s trademark however sets her romantic-comediesaside from others. They are often critiques on the differences between men and women. The prime example being Sleepless in Seattle. In the film the difference between men and women and each of their separate ideas on what love “should” be is examined and, of course, hilarity often ensues. Yet, not without Ephron’s biting satire. When being consoled about venturing into the world of dating again, Tom Hanks’ character “Sam” states that he could never let a woman pay for half of a date. His friend Jay, played by Rob Reiner replies “They’ll throw a parade in your honor.” Ephron’s depiction of the decay of the “perfect man” is done not in an insulting way, but one that makes us, or at least me, think twice about how we are seen to women. Why did we ever stop caring? Or, perhaps the question should be when did we ever stop caring. Perhaps this is the reason that few men will list Sleepless in Seattle as one of their favorite movies. The women of Ephron’s films demand respect not only in the work-place, but in the world of romance as well. Her criticism of the differencs between men and women continue in You’ve Got Mail (1998). In this film romance has gone digital, yet the themes are the same. Men are a bit different from women, but does that mean that they deserve any less respect? Of course not. What is original about this film is the way the man of the movie, again played by Hanks, is the owner of the big  money-hungry book corporation “Fox Books” while Meg Ryan owns the sweet, honest, childrens’ book store names “The Store Around the Corner.” As most independent store owners are, Ryan's character genuinely cares about the people she is selling her products to, while Hanks works with only dollar signs in his eyes. But alas, men (or at least Tom Hanks) are not that shallow and Ephron knows it. Ephron’s satirical writing is always sharp, witty, yet warm and comforting. They say good artists listen, and Nora Ephron has had a close ear to us all.

            Female directors are few and far between in Hollywood. However, as long as there are directors like Sophia Coppola and Nora Ephron, a path will be paved for things to change. Hopefully permanently.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Favorite Movies of 2008

Note that these are not in any order. Each of these films have their own merits that need to be dealt with separately. Overall a good year for movies. However, the runaway four for me this year were Slumdog Millionaire, Milk, WALL-E and Revolutionary Road.

Burn After Reading

A hilarious follow-up to No Country for Old Men from the Coens. Both Brad Pitt and John Malkovich turn in hilarious performances making this one of the best comedies of 2008.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

A bit of a different type of Woody Allen film, yet his presence is still (quite obviously at times) there. Penelope Cruz also is gives her best performance to date. A study on the complexities of love in two different settings--Spain and The US--Vicky Cristina Barcelona is a very sophisticated and entertaining piece of filmmaking.

The Visitor

The movie from nowhere. What a beautiful film that covers so many issues. Immigration, loneliness, the power of music. Richard Jenkins gives a beautifully subdued performance finally earning him the recognition he deserves. Hopefully now he will get more leading roles like he should!

The Dark Knight

The best comic book adaptation ever made. Period. The film ends up being more of a psychological crime-drama in the vein of Heat than anything else. Heath Ledger was nothing short of breath-taking. We will all miss him dearly.

The Wrestler

Darren Aronofsky gets personal...and it's a success. Perhaps one of the most human and realistic stories of the year. The film is only improved upon with Mickey Rourke's portrayal of a broken-down man, who goes down a road of loss that only celluloid has the ability to capture.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

A beautiful study of aging and all that goes along with it, including death, love, and loss. This movie will be remembered for years to come, not only for it's innovative use of technology, but for it's deeply potent story as well.


Perhaps one of the most socially important family-oriented films ever made. The film's strong point lies in it's writing, in which it's critique on contemporary society is beautifully woven into one of the sweetest love stories of the decade.

Revolutionary Road

A sharply written, painful, yet altogether beautiful commentary on the complexities of marriage. The simplicity of the story is what makes this film so powerful. Sam Mendes lets the camera quietly capture both Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet's best performances to date. A film that sticks with you for days after you leave the theatre.


Released in the wake of the passage of Proposition 8, Milk is one of the boldest, and most important films to be made in years. Sean Penn plays Harvey Milk with such ease that he disappears into the character. Strong acting across the board makes this the best acted film of the year. A extremely devastating drama about the power one person can have to change the world around him.

Slumdog Millionaire

The stand-up-and-cheer movie of the year. My favorite film of the year. See my last post to read what I really think about this one.

Have yet to see: Frost/Nixon or Waltz with Bashir...both of which seem pretty promising

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Difference Between Best and Favorite: Slumdog Millionaire

Never before have I been so emotionally affected by a film.

By the end of this heart-warming, fresh, under-dog fantasy tale I wanted nothing more than to get back in line, purchase another ticket, and experience it again. And I indeed would have, had I not had to work an hour after the film got out.

I spoke to my girlfriend on the phone shortly after ranting and raving about the film.

"But was it better than 'Benjamin Button'?" she asked.

My reply went along the lines of something like this. That I didn't even think of the film as better or worse. I simply loved it and was filled to the brim with joy for having seen it. I told her that it may be my favorite film I have ever seen.

I've always loved to make that kind of distinction. the difference between your favorite film and what you think is the best film. For instance I would love to watch "Slumdog Millionaire" over and over again because of how it affected me and how it made me feel. "The Godfather", which indeed is one of my favorites as well as what I consider one of the best films ever made, could not stand up to this test. It's simply too exhausting. I have seen "The Godfather" countless times and know just about every word to the three hour long epic. However the reasons I would watch "The Godfather" are a bit different than what I would watch "Slumdog Millionaire" for. I would watch "Slumdog Millionaire" simply to make me happy.

Now this does not mean that "Slumdog" is not a technical masterpiece. In my eyes it is. The bright, beautiful cinematography is matched with hip, frenetic editing. The shots are all from exciting, interesting angles, that never cease to make this film a wonder to look at. And the music. My God the music pulses with life that keeps you entranced with everything that is going on in the screen.

All of this fantastic technical work would all go to waste if the film had lost grip on the one thing that gives it its heart.

Its story.

The story is a fantasy tale with a romance wrapped in that gave me a yearning feeling in my heart throughout its entire duration. The actors embrace who they are with such heart that to not be able to feel for them is almost impossible. The story, to put it simply, made me look at everything with more love and more empathy. This film made me want to get out of my seat and cheer on a number of occasions.

One reviewer hit the nail on the head when he called the film a "buoyant hymn to life". Never have I heard a reviewer perfectly describe the movie in such few words. However to understand what these four words mean you must see this film.

You must see this film!

"Slumdog Millionaire" deserves every award that it is nominated for. But if it doesn't win, I won't mind. The film has already done it's job to me and so many other viewers. I couldn't see anyone asking for more.