Archive for the movies Category

Best of 2008

Posted in Best of..., Leah, movies, music, shows on December 21, 2008 by criticalreviews

You know, 2008 wasn’t as bad as I keep telling people. I got to go back to Asia for the first time in 20 years, started a book club, discovered a love for graphic novels, joined a group of mix-tape enthusiasts, spent time in Paris, and made some new friends along the way. All the while, my top tens were forming in the back of my mind. So, here goes…

1. TV on the Radio – Dear Science
2. Dodos – Visiter
3. Beach House – Devotion
4. Marnie Stern -This is it and I am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and That Is That
5. M83 – Saturdays=Youth
6. Titus Andronicus – The Airing of Grievances
7. Hercules and the Love Affair
8. No Age – Nouns
9. The Walkmen – You & Me
10. Gang Gang Dance – Saint Dymphna

-Honorable Mentions: Santogold – Santogold, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Dig!!! Lazarus, Dig!!!, High Places – High Places, Atlas Sound – Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel, Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes,  Times New Viking – Rip It Off

(5/3) Woods, Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts at Cake Shop 3-Year Anniversary
(5/6) No Age, High Places, Fiasco at Bowery Ballroom
(6/13) Teenage Jesus and the Jerks at Knitting Factory
(7/12) Oneida, High Places, Abe Vigoda, Vivian Girls, Ponytail, Titus Andronicus at The Yard
(7/17) The Dodos secret show at Cake Shop
(7/18-20) Mission of Burma, Fleet Foxes, !!!, Animal Collective, Times New Viking, Dirty Projectors, Health, Dodos, Spiritualized at Pitchfork Music Fest in Chicago
(7/25) Times New Viking for Wordless Music Series at The Whitney
(8/24) Titus Andronicus and Yo La Tengo at McCarren Pool
(9/6) Matmos at The Stone
(10/11) Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise at Knitting Factory
(10/25) Marnie Stern, All the Saints at Bowery Ballroom (CMJ)

-Honarable Mentions: (March ?) Stanley Brinks at Mains d’Oeuvre, (5/1) Scout Kniblett at the Tap Bar @ Knitting Factory (6/6) MIA at McCarren Pool, (6/25) Herman Dune at Union Pool, (8/8) Radiohead, Girl Talk, Grizzly Bear at All Points West Fest, (9/26) Meat Puppets, Dinosaur Jr., Built to Spill at Terminal 5

1. Let the Right One In
2. Reprise
3. Paranoid Park
4. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
5. Boy A
6. Cloverfield
7. Savage Grace
8. Pineapple Express
9. Slumdog Millionaire
10. Fear(s) of the Dark

-Honorable Mentions: The Dark Knight – Vicky Cristina Barcelona – Synecdoche, New York – Milk – Doubt


Paranoid Park

Posted in klk, movies on February 28, 2008 by criticalreviews

Leah and I saw this movie on Tuesday, at an IFC center advance screening open to members only. This was my first time attending such an event, and it was surprisingly not very crowded. Perhaps because the movie started right at 6 pm?

Anyway, Paranoid Park is the new film by Gus Van Sant. I really liked his last one (Last Days, starring Michael Pitt and about the days leading to the death of Kurt Cobain), but I think Elephant was pretty underwhelming. I guess Good Will Hunting is okay, and I actually just found out that he directed the film adaptation of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, which is a Tom Robbins novel ( but not my favorite). I should probably watch that at some point.

Paranoid Park is about a teenager in Portland who, while hanging around a pretty rough skatepark, gets involved with a murder investigation. The movie does a good job of putting the audience right inside the head of this boy through his writing of the story of Paranoid Park in his (a little too chic?) Moleskine notebook. Not so surprisingly, being inside the young skater kid’s head isn’t the most dramatic place in the world, regardless of the events that unfold around him. The kid manages to keep his cool throughout most of the movie (with a couple of exceptions), and Van Sant conveys this feeling through slow and quiet shots of skaters doing their thing, or the main character walking through hallways, or taking a shower, or sitting on the beach, with kind of intense experiments in noise and static playing in the foreground. This is why I love ambient music! I really enjoyed how the music was in the foreground for these shots, and such a significant part of the film. Because of this, Paranoid Park definitely had an avant-garde feel to it, but not so much as to detract from the plot or the actors at all.

The main character, played by Gabe Nevins, just turned sixteen years old. For such a young actor, he was really powerful on the screen. This review by the Hollywood Reporter, is pretty accurate in saying that he wasn’t very expressive, but it did work super well for his character’s age, social situation, and reaction to the events unfolding around him. Maybe this is totally creepy, but he is also pretty hot. I didn’t think so at the beginning of the movie, but by the end of it I was pretty into him. I mean, look at him:

Totally dreamy, right? Anyway, some girl from Gossip Girl was also in the film as his totally annoying, but kind of hilarious, girlfriend. Her ridiculousness caused comic relief, for sure.

I also really liked that the movie was filmed in Portland; it provided a nice backdrop to the plot and the skateboarding. The laid-back, post-grunge atmosphere was appropriate for the overall tone of the movie. It made me want to go there again, for more than 24 hours!

Maybe some kind of rating system would be a good addition to this review. I give Paranoid Park **** ½ (out of *****)!

(stills from the film’s official website)

love, klk

best of 2007 (imho)

Posted in Best of..., Leah, movies, music on January 18, 2008 by criticalreviews

Another year has past, and an exciting one it was. A couple of the things that kept me sane were great music and films. I’ve created a comprehensive list of my top ten albums, shows, and films of the year. 2007 was a cultural explosion for my eyes and ears and it was really difficult narrowing down these lists.

10 Best Albums –
1. Animal Collective – Strawberry Jam
-While riding the train, whether I was on my way to work or to Inwood, this album was perfect for zoning out.
2. Radiohead – In Rainbows
-Yes, old habits die hard, but still, this album is undeniably amazing and was a beautiful surprise. I didn’t pay for the download (I know, I know) but I bought it on vinyl January 1st. Plus, I’ve seen them four times, people. Give me a break.
3. St. Vincent – Marry Me
– This album has been stuck in my head from the moment that I first heard it. And, Annie can fucking shred.
4. Jens Lekman – Night Falls Over Kortedala
-Beautiful man, lovely songs. He makes me want to nest.
5. Panda Bear – Person Pitch
-This album is like lying in a park on a beautiful day. You close your eyes and the sun shines right through your eyelids. I don’t know if that makes sense and I don’t care.
6. MIA – Kala
-I’m not the biggest fan of her fashion sensibilities, but how can anyone resist her booty-shake inspiring bhangra funk? It makes me long for MJQ on Wednesday Nights (ATL reference).
7. Of Montreal – Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
-Break out performance of the year must go to Kevin Barnes’ schlong in Vegas. Anyway, the music is infectious. This is my favorite album of theirs yet.
8. Battles – Mirrored
-I enjoyed putting this album on for background music. Sometimes, it’s not about the lyrics.
9. Scout Niblett – This Fool Can Die Now
– If I had discovered this album earlier, it would probably be higher on my list. Kiss is one of my favorite songs of the year.
10. Dan Deacon – Spiderman of the Rings
-I understand if you don’t get it, because I didn’t, until I saw him live.

Honorable Mentions: Grinderman, PJ Harvey – White Chalk, Deerhunter – Cryptograms, Beirut – Flying Cub Cup, Deerhoof – Friend Opportunity, Boris – Rainbow, PB&J – Writer’s Block

10 Best Shows (In order by date)
4/21 – Flaming Lips at Brown University
-There’s not much better in life than playing with huge, inflated balls and truckloads of confetti with fucked up ivy leaguers.
5/5 – Bjork at United Palace Theater
-Bjork didn’t make it on my top ten albums. I was a little disappointed with Volta, to be honest. She definitely made it up to me with her performance that night.
5/6 – Beirut at Bowery Ballroom
-All the horns!! It was a busy weekend.
6/10 – Melt Banana at the Knitting Factory
-I had forgotten how much fun it can be to rock out next to a mosh pit.
6/15-17 – Bonnaroo in Manchester, TN
-I still don’t think that I have recovered from all of the dust inhalation, but holy crap, I had so much fun. DJ Shadow and Ween were my favorite performances.
7/24 – Porter Wagoner, ,White Stripes and Grinderman at Madison Square Garden
-I was hesitant to purchase tickets to this show, based on the venue. Both bands delivered amazing performances. I’m glad that I got to see Porter Wagoner live, before he died. Plus, Nick Cave fell on his ass—definitely funny. I vaguely remember wanting to throw beer bottles at people booing Grinderman.
8/9 – Daft Punk at Keyspan Park, Coney Island
-I know this is a controversial topic, but…BEST SHOW OF THE YEAR!
10/10 – PJ Harvey at Beacon Theater
-This was my first time seeing Polly Jean live. She was wearing that crazy, Victorian looking dress that she dons on the cover of her new album, White Chalk. Her voice sounded amazing and the theater perfectly complemented the creepy, ethereal vibe of her latest album.
10/18 – St. Vincent at the Knitting Factory
-Although she didn’t start until after 1AM, and I had to sit through 2 or 3 completely uninspiring opening acts, and I had to work the next day at 830AM, I still could not get over this girl and her guitar!
10/26 – Scout Niblett at Union Pool
-She commented on our photo booth pictures before the show. She was wearing a reflective construction worker’s jacket and camouflage. She looked like she needed a shower, bad. I love her.

Honorable Mentions: Peter Bjorn and Joan @ Bowery Ballroom, Fujiya and Miyagi @ Mercury Lounge, Built to Spill and Cat Power @ McCarren Pool, Boris @ Music Hall of Williamsburg, Jens Lekman – Music Hall of Williamsburg, Justice @ Terminal 5

10 Best Movies
1. No Country for Old Men – Javier Bardem is obviously the main draw of this film, as a psychopath with a Prince Valiant haircut. Honestly, I don’t understand why people were so upset about the ending. Obviously, the Coen Brothers (and Cormac McCarthy) wanted to show that life is bleak. The good guys don’t always win. Get over it.
2. Control – How did they find someone who looks so much like Ian Curtis?
3. La Vie En Rose – Marion Cotillard deserves some kind of award for her portrayal of Edith Piaf.
4. Into the Wild – It made me want to go on a long road trip, that is, until the ending.
5. This is England – Who doesn’t like a movie about skinheads?
6. Darjeeling Limited – I had to grow to love this film, but it really was great. I felt that it had more depth than other Wes Anderson flicks.
7. I’m Not There – Cate Blanchett is going to make me gay. I swear.
8. Rescue Dawn – Christian Bale ate maggots in this movie. He is one dedicated actor.
9. Lust, Caution – pretzel sex. Yeah.
10. Sicko – This movie made me angry, which is saying a lot, because I’m pretty apathetic.

Honorable Mentions: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Sherry Baby, Grindhouse Presents: Death Proof, Sunshine, Scott Walker: 30 Century Man, Sicko, Juno, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly