Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Pat's Twitter Reviews: 50 movies/25 books - Part 3 - BOOKS

It's the final installment of Perspicacious P's 50 Movies/25 Books Twitter-length reviews! Rejoice in the streets!

This time I wrote about books. Do you remember those! They were like the vinyl of the written word. Like with my movies, you'll see that my taste in books runs intellectual (Harry Potter, two Guns N' Roses biographies), but I promise you I won't get too heady. I don't mind talking down to my audience. With that, let's get down to it:

1. The Signal and the Noise: Nate Silver from the 538 blog applied his PECOTA analysis to real life. Don't understand any of that? Me neither, but the book was great. 

2. The Polish Officer: Excellent WWII spy book from Alan Furst. I wrote him an email a couple of years ago and he actually replied. I am the American Dream. 

3. Fever Pitch: I still don't think Jimmy Fallon is funny, but I like the rapping with JT and the low-fi music covers with The Roots.

4.  Dark Star: It's another excellent WWII spy book from Alan Furst. Did I mention he once replied to one of my emails?

5. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: An examination of race, science and class in the US. Not always pleasant, but sometimes we need to see that life ain't always daisies.

6. It's So Easy and Other Lies: Duff from GnR wrote this excellent biography about his journey from punk musician to GnR to addict to recovery. He's a seriously cool dude.

7. Unbroken: Laura Hillenbrand, Seabiscuit author, wrote this story of star athlete and WWII POW camp survivor Louie Zamperini. Simply harrowing stuff.

8. The Extra 2%: Decent book about baseball, but this is basically a Moneyball ripoff, except not as good.

9. Endurance: Ernest Shackleton and his crew were stuck in Antarctica and had a one-in-a-million shot of surviving. They survived. Badass motherfuckers.

10. King Leopold's Ghost: Story of Belgium's colonialism in Africa. Good god white people are evil. Sorry, world!

11. Life Itself: Excellent heartfelt memoir from Roger Ebert. He was simply the best and will be missed. True American pop culture intellectual.

12. The Joy of X: No, I didn't misspell SEX you dirty people! I honestly have no recollection about reading this book. I think it's about math?

13. Slash: Guitarist from GnR's bio. His hedonism and general prickishness felt like he was trying too hard to keep pace with Motley Crue. 

14. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: Yes, I started to read these in my mid-30s. Don't judge. Better than Twilight, right? RIGHT?!?

15. Mountains Beyond Mountains: Good story about an American doctor in Haiti trying to make the world give a shit about the poor. Made me feel like a lazy fuck. 

16. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: Uh oh, here comes the run of Harry Potter books! 

17. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: I can't really tell them apart, except to say that they got better as they got darker. 

18. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: This one I think had about 8000 pages about the Quidditch World Cup, which I couldn't give fewer fucks about. 

19. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: I saw a bunch of people running around with brooms in a park playing quidditch. I don't believe in violence but I wanted to slap them all. 

20. The Silver Linings Playbook: The book was nearly as good as the movie. Nearly. It's a bit darker but still great.

21. David and Goliath: Malcolm Gladwell is a fun read but completely full of shit. This was fine as a New Yorker article, no need to make it a book.

22. Atlas: From the Streets to the Ring: Great bio from boxing trainer Teddy Atlas. He once took a gun to Mike Tyson's head. I recommend for anyone who likes boxing.

23.  Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince: JK Rowling is a great writer for all ages, although getting these books in the children's section of the library was always awkward.

24. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: I was sad to see the series end, I became attached to these characters. Dumbledore made shit way harder than it needed to be though. 

25. Mo' Meta Blues: Questlove book that was part personal bio, part musical bio. Brutally honest about the lows in his career. Great way to end the year.

So that's it for 2013. I quite enjoyed this challenge and will do it again in 2014! These are the things you do when you have nothing and nobody to live for, so you fill the vacuum with something that gives you a slice of meaning.

Have a great 2014, I can't wait to hit you with more withering cultural criticism. Also, keep downloading (and listening to) the 3ThaHardWay podcast. For those who don't know, we're like John Irving, Arthur Schlesinger Jr and Camille Paglia, except with more f-bombs.

Stay hungry.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Kevin's Favorite Movies of 2013

You might be surprised to learn that I am NOT a professional movie reviewer. I know, weird right? If someone were to pay me to go to the movies and talk about them then I would consider myself the luckiest person on earth. That being said, I'm not a professional so I have to see my movies at my own pace and time and sometimes things get missed. So I haven't seen everything that came out in 2013 nor have I seen everything worthwhile that came out in 2013, so this list isn't so much comprehensive, as just more the best of what I have seen. So this list could morph and change (as any can really) as the years go by. But this is where I stand, today, January 5, 2014.

Without further adieu (I know pins and needles) here are my 10 favorite movies of 2013:

                                  10) Frances Ha

Your movie has to be pretty special (to me) for it to be about a 20-something making mistakes and trying to find herself and not have it be annoying as all get out. Noah Baumbach takes a break from the chronicling the lives of jerks to chronicle the life of a sweet twenty something trying to find her way in the world and it is pretty wonderful. Noah Baumbach staying positive is a good thing, and so is Greta Gerwig, who is amazing, as is the soundtrack

                                         9) Room 237
What starts out as a discussion of a movie straight from the a film studies course turns into a group therapy session by the end. I don't know if I conveyed it well above, but I love movies and I love talking about movies, and I love The Shining, so this film length discussion of The Shining's hidden meanings is pretty much catnip for me. Basically it is lunatics talking about their various theories of what The Shining means, seeing too much meaning in continuity errors and elevating everything to delusions. It is insane but also really really wonderful. Pretty much for everyone that has had THAT late night discussion about what a movie REALLY means. (This isn't a movie but I have a theory that Robin Thick's Blurred Lines is actually about smoking weed, let's discuss it sometime)

8) The Conjuring
I don't know why it took so long for them to make a movie about Ed and Lorraine Warren, but I am glad they finally did. Personally, I think they are con people, but that is what great fiction is made of. And think of the potential: they have a whole CLOSET full of cursed items, they could make a movie for how they acquired each. How is Hollywood not calling me!? Anyway,  it was fun and made me jump out of my seat and will be THE horror movie that horror moviephiles will be telling me is overrated in the years to come.

7)The World's End
Who would have thought that third movie in the Cornetto Trilogy, which does feature alien robots taking over a human town, to be not only so heartfelt (we're all chasing our lost youth) but also one of Simon Pegg's best performances. It's also really funny. Subquestion: seriously how much of a debt does Simon Pegg owe to Halloween III for this idea?

6) 20 Feet From Stardom
I don't know what it says about me that the most moving documentary I saw this year was about the lives, and trials and travails of backup singers, but this documentary is absolutely wonderful and if you are interested in this sort of thing you should definitely check it out. Also Mick Jagger comes off as sort of a dick but Bruce Springsteen and Sting seem cool.

5) The Wolf Of Wall Street
It's no Goodfellas, of course, but it is an entertaining and decidedly crazy job. It also features the depressing message that there is absolutely no justice for rich people that rip other people off. Amazing soundtrack too.

4) American Hustle
The hairdo's, the music, the acting, the outfits, all wonderful if not a bit overlong. I am really enjoying latter day David O. Russell. Please keep being a madman and keep making movies that are so enjoyable. Science Oven!

3) The Fast and Furious 6
Probably the best time I had in a movie theater this year. Amazing action, and I like the direction the series is taking with these sort of "Men On A Mission" movies. Has at least two of the greatest action sequences of the year. If you're going to make an action movie make it as fun and ridiculous as possible, and that's what they did. Again. Pat O'D is right: these movies might bring the world together in a weird way: multicultural cast ALL with something to do, and that includes the women who are not just lilting violets but get in on the action and I mean GET IN ON IT. The Gina Carano/Michelle Rodriguez Tube fight is amazing and everyone gets a showcase. 

2) 12 Years A Slave
As beautiful looking and as brutal as you have heard. I think it's important for people to see this for a number of different reasons. I love Michael Fassbender too, but this made me hate him so much.

1) Before Midnight
I love ALL the "Before..." movies and this is a great way to end the trilogy. (Although I would welcome them coming back in another ten years or so) It puts a lie to the idea of "Happily Ever After". Although most couples do not fight as eloquently as Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke do. A couple that has known eachother for so long certainly fight as brutally as they do here. Um, spoiler alert.

Just Missed:
The Punk Singer

                                                                     Computer Chess
Can everyone just watch this movie so we can start a group dedicated to discussing it?

                                                                    Behind The Candelabra
Cheating a bit here, but it did debut at Cannes before it was shown on HBO. So so good.

                                                                   This Is The End
This is the closest "miss" of all of them. I laughed a lot. AND it has two of the best cameos of the year.

Man Of Steel-so bad I gave up watching movies for almost a month
Anchorman 2-I didn't expect this to be good, actually, but it was disappointing. There really is nothing worse than an unfunny comedy.
The Counselor-I fluctuate on this one because it is decidedly insane, but it is also boring, with the characters having pretty much the same conversation constantly. All style, no substance. But there IS Cameron Diaz having sex with a car.
Don Jon-Joseph Gordon-Levitt should stick with acting because, it seems, writing and directing are not for him. I wanted to shut this off after about 15 minutes.

Ones I missed (so far):
-Upstream Color
-Inside Llewyn Davis
-You're Next

Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Pat's Twitter Reviews: 50 movies/25 books - Part 2

Well, your boy Perspicacious P aka Vanilla Thrilla aka YUNG DOSTOYEVSKY back again with Part 2 of the 2014 Twitter-length reviews. 

 Like Depeche Mode once said, "I just can't get enough":

26: Pacific Rim: Robots fighting space alien sea monsters? Sounded like a boring mumblecore indie flick but I liked it nonetheless. 

27: Lee Daniels' The Butler: Obvious Oscar bait, but still a great movie. The only people that didn't like it are cynical assholes, unlike me, an eternal optimist. 

28. Ironclad: Movie about the Knights Templar or some old shit and a rather odd place to find Paul Giamatti as a king, right? 

29. Enough Said: Last role for Gandolfini and he knocked it out of the park. Sweet story about puppy love in middle age and the complications it can bring.

30. Blue Jasmine: I hated Cate Blanchett's character so much that it ruined the movie for me. Unsurprisingly, Andrew Dice Clay was its moral center.

31. Gravity: Space in 3D and shit. Incredibly beautifully shot movie. Great year for Sandra Bullock.

32. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2: Interesting, if heavy handed, take on Immanuel Kant's Metamorphosis and Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf. German philosophy is never easy. 

33. The Counselor: Holy shit this movie was terrible. Except when Cameron Diaz fucks a car. Actually, that was even more terrible. 

34. Before Midnight: Best movie of the year. Best couple fight I've ever seen on-screen. It erodes the myth of "Happily Ever After."

35: Free Birds: Revisionist take on European colonialism in North America, heavily influenced by Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States".

36. Slap Shot: Cynical, chauvinistic and not very funny, except for the Hanson brothers, who were transcendent. They should make a movie about just them.

37. Frozen: Modern adaptation of Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Women. The interpretation of the class issues is a bit reductive.

38. Inspector Gadget: This was terrible. Wish I could unsee it, like every time I go to 4Chan.

39. Homefront: Kept calling this Homeland to my friends. Despite this, James Franco's facial expressions make the movie worth watching.

40. Hunger Games: Catching Fire: It was a mistake going into this thinking I was seeing the sequel to Silver Linings Playbook.

41. Chopper: Incomprehensible Aussie accent by Eric Bana and low budget production. Kept waiting for him to put a shrimp on the barbie.

42. Anchorman 2: Unfunny + too long. 2nd worst movie of 2014. The good news is that there wasn't an annoying marketing blitz before it was released.

43. Elysium: Good Will Hunting in outer space and shit. 

44. Computer Chess: Interesting enough oddball movie. Didn't really 'get' it although it appeared on a lot of year-end lists. Then again, I'm not that smart.

45. Italian for Beginners: Danish movie about people falling in love in their 30s and not annoying about it. Why they didn't just talk English is weird though.

46. 2 Guns: In this nuanced take on US-Mexico relations, Denzel and Marky Mark shoot and kill every fucking living thing they see. 

47. Captain Phillips: 2nd best movie of the year although I advise against watching it with Thai subtitles superimposed over Chinese ones. My Somali isn't good.

48. Drumline: Pretty much the story of my undergrad years at UMass. 

49. The Wolf of Wall Street: Great movie, DiCaprio was on fire, but seeing shit like this is why the rest of the world hates us. 

50. American Hustle: Enjoyable caper flick and MY GOD AMY ADAMS. Bradley Cooper looks good in a perm as well.

That's the movies I saw in 2014. Some old, some new, all pretty decent except for The Counselor and shitass Anchorman 2. Maybe the director's cut will be the non-shitass version? 

Coming soon: my 25 books. They are things you read that aren't the internet.

30 Movies turning 30 Years Old

So in an effort to make us all feel old....The other night I was watching "Sixteen Candles" on tv and realized in 2014, this movie would be 30 years old. So I went to IMDB and checked out the year 1984 and was astonished at the amount of memorable movies that were going to be turning 30 this year. I felt old so I thought I would pass on that feeling to all of you. Sure this is more of a Buzzfeed post but I know where my loyalties lie. They'll probably rip it off anyway.

Anyhow, 29 movies turning 30 plus "Sixteen Candles"-there are some definite classic here:

1) Gremlins

2) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doon

3) The Neverending Story

4) Ghostbusters

5) The Terminator

6) Beverly Hills Cop

7) Police Academy

8) Sixteen Candles

9) Splash

10) The Karate Kid
11) Red Dawn

12) A Nightmare On Elm Street

13) Dune

14) Footloose

15) This Is Spinal Tap

16) Revenge Of The Nerds

17) Romancing The Stone

18) Star Trek III: The Search For Spock

19) Children Of The Corn

20) Conan The Destroyer

21) Top Secret!

22) Blood Simple

23) Body Double

24) Bachelor Party

25) Firestarter

26) The Last Starfighter

27) The Muppets Take Manhattan

28) Purple Rain

29) Repo Man

30) Night Of The Comet

A few bonus:



The Ice Pirates

The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter


                                                                         All Of Me

                                                                        Streets Of Fire