Top 10 lists are a universally reviled form of critical expression for a reason: they force the thoughtful fluidity and artfulness of criticism into the confines of ascending order. It’s an exercise as banal as arranging a class of elementary school students by height. Countless stratagems exist that allow list-makers to ease the blow of their pointless task, though the successful approach for me has always been simple irony. See my inclusion of Tron: Legacy in last year’s top 10 list, or 2012 the year before that: two really bad movies meant to serve as a middle-finger to the very existence of year-end top 10 lists.
This year, I approached the list differently. I still don’t think of it as a serious critical process. I think of it as an impression. These are the first films I remembered when I thought about the experiences I had in movie theaters this year. Any picture I couldn’t remember on my own wouldn’t deserve a place below. In fact, I’m glad to have forgotten about the films I saw in 2011 that I can’t remember. They were the high school acquaintances of my movie-going experience. Their only suitable future purpose can be to serve as obscure punchlines. (more…)
by Adam Hirsch
Yeah, we know. We’re late with the list again. But 2011 had a remarkable run in cinema, and this year’s list truly runs through nearly the entire spectrum.
Something to keep in mind: none of the individual lists are the same. Films listed as number one by some people weren’t even seen by others. But, indeed, this is part of the film going experience and part of why the list is formulated as it has been. This is a snapshot, a look inside what different people are interested in, and what they thought of what they have viewed.
Below you’ll find the official Company list, followed by all the individual lists, and the scoring and explanation of how the list was created. (more…)
by Matt Paley
Rook (Nicholas Garcia) relaxing by his bicycle.
The last few months have seen a remarkable change in me, as a steadfast commitment to my Boston way of life has given way to a rootlessness that has taken me across the country three times, the endless motion powering a thorough examination – and a rapid (westward?) expansion – of self. I mostly feel fractured, exhausted, and underwater – but I’m certain that the struggle will yield a real, sharp clarity in the months to come.
Luckily, when I do surface, I have two lovely travelogues to read.
The Long Haul maps my dear friend Nicholas Garcia’s thirty-two hundred mile cycling journey from Vermont to California. Nick is a lovely, vivid writer, and there’s something particularly refreshing about his journaling style – especially since he’s often updating from his phone, which forces his writing into the tightest of prose – it’s simple, unadorned, but lucid, generous, and crackling with wit.
Speaking of wit: Going Hollywood is our friend (and frequent STE collaborator) Adam Goldman’s document of his trip Westward as he stops in ten of America’s Hollywoods (currently he’s in Hollywood, Florida, having just left Hollywood, South Carolina, having previous hit the one in Maryland and both in Pennsylvania – get it?) on his way to the fabled Hollywood, California. Along the way he’s creating a long-form audio documentary (think This American Life) chronicling his trip and interviewing people about the experience of living in the other Hollywoods. A marvelous project, Adam’s blog is less useful as a travel document than as an excuse to read his writing (and, for a few posts, that of The Busy Signal and Skin Horse Theater’s Brian Dorsam), which is sparkling, consistently hilarious and impossibly charming.
I find that, right after checking the headlines (and the movie section) of my NYTimes app, I move straight to Going Hollywood and The Long Haul whenever I have a moment to breathe and a want to engage with the world. If I were you, gentle reader, I’d start both blogs at the very beginning – you’ll be surprised how quickly and inexorably you’re drawn in to the climb with Rook and Bonesy (as Nick and Jessa call themselves), and how curious and alive the country seems through Adam’s eyes.
For me, their journeys (a bit more straightforward, at least geographically, than mine) are reassuringly measurable, covering actual, physical terrain, and both clear and promising in their unfolding. I highly recommend them both – especially for anyone in the midst of a personal journey right now. Which is all of us, hopefully.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been doing research for an upcoming music video project. The artist I’m working with has instrumentals reminiscent of audio production from the 1980s, so I’m looking to draw creatively from the visual techniques and narrative forms of that era. During my “research” I’ve come across some absolutely amazing stuff. For your viewing pleasure, I’ve placed a few gems below. Enjoy! (more…)
by Brian Barth
Bonnaroo just celebrated its 10th anniversary and I was fortunate enough to be there. Between the delicious Spicy Pie Pizzas, Sweet Water IPAs and the unforgettable Arepas, I caught a couple shows. Here’s who left an impression. (more…)
by Peter Warren
This week, Radar.com released explicit messages sent from the Facebook account of Representative Anthony Weiner (D-NY). Similar messages were discovered on his Twitter account and Blackberry.
Below, the transcript of messages sent from Rep. Weiner’s iPhone 4G to an Unknown Female. (more…)
by Peter Warren
2004 Euriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay Buttery, bright, citrus zest on the finish, strong notes of this glass has a chip in it I think.
2006 Susana Bobo Crios Rose Crisp, low acidity, strawberries and blueberries, these are the glasses my brother and his wife gave me for my birthday, aren’t they? Well, that explains it.
2006 Muntes Limited Edition Sauvignon Blanc Bone-dry, grassy, delicate, not as delicate as cheap glasses, but I guess when Mom and Dad still support you at 35 that’s what you can afford, and yes I know about that check, hints of corn and peaches.
2006 Argile Brut Light, short finish, would make a great Mimosa, solid sparkling from up and coming vineyard in Oregon, which would be a great place for him, because in Portland you can show up at a fancy restaurant wearing nothing but chest hair and that’s considered okay.
2008 Peter Lohmann Eden Valley Riesling Were we even raised in the same household? You’d think our parents kept him in the yard or something. This wine is awful.
by Jake Teresi
I’ll admit it: a list looking ahead at the year’s best offerings is almost futile. When I made last year’s list, I chose 3 films that were later pushed back a year, 2 films that were eh, and 2 films that just plain stank. Only 3 I picked ended up being memorable (those were Inception, Black Swan, and Rabbit Hole). Many of the films that meant the most to us came out of nowhere or, more specifically, a little festival in Utah. Still, it’s worth getting excited by a whole slew of new films, even if we risk disappointment. If last year was any indication, there are many poignant experiences still to be had in the dark of a movie theatre. (more…)
We’re in the middle of a blizzard here in Boston, so I thought I’d share some tips for those who need a hand getting through it.
1) The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume I – Probably the best Christmas gift anyone could get this year, unless you needed a kidney or something. Twain stipulated that his autobiography only be published 100 years after his death. Lucky for us, we live to see the day. At over 700 pages, volume I is endless amusement to help you weather the storm.
2) Casino – Martin Scorsese is the only person who can make a casino look and feel like a cathedral. Strange (or maybe not so strange) that a film about the desert gets you through a snow storm. Special bonus: anyone who dresses as DeNiro or Pesci from this movie for Halloween 2011 will get something special from me.
3) Hollis Frampton on Ubuweb — Okay, I have to come clean. This is where I’ve been for the past however many months. I’m writing a senior thesis about Frampton, and before I was able to get my hands on the bulk of his films, I was leaning on Ubuweb like Walter Brennan on a wall. Do yourself a favor and watch Gloria!. If you don’t shed a tear you’d better get back on the yellow brick road.
4) A Winter Romance — Dean Martin’s 1959 Christmas album is good enough to listen to for a few days after Jesus’ Birthday has passed. In fact, I’ll probably have it spinning well into the new year. Put it on, listen to “Baby, it’s Cold Outside.” It doesn’t get any better.
5) Woodford Reserve – Whatever you’re doing, have some of this. You can replace the ice with a little clump of fresh snow from outside. And yeah, you can have another. Even a few others. The later you wake up tomorrow the later you have to shovel snow. Either that or you could wind up doing some serious playing in the snow.
Let the year end lists roll out. In preparation for our Company selection of the best films of 2010, I thought I’d tease out a selection of the best DVDs of the year from the Criterion Collection, one fetish for which I will never apologize.
1) Colossal Youth, dir. Pedro Costa (2006) — This film is enormous. Puts Costa in league with Béla Tarr. I love this movie.
2) Lola Montes, dir. Max Ophuls (1955) — Lush from the man who invented it. A spectacle gets the DVD it deserves.
3) Red Desert, dir. Michelangelo Antonioni (1964) — There’s only one way to watch Antonioni’s first foray into color filmmaking: on film. If you can’t do that, do this.
4) Underworld, dir. Josef von Sternberg (1927) — The film that launched the classic American gangster genre. There is a world inside the world.
5) Paisan, dir. Roberto Rossellini (1946) — Rossellini’s episodic follow-up to Rome, Open City is even more beautiful and, until now, much harder to find.
Runners-up: Make Way for Tomorrow and Night Train to Munich. No matter how good Criterion’s releases are, I always manage to find a fault: couldn’t they put out more Godard instead of Broadcast News? Do they really need to remaster The Ice Storm or Easy Rider instead of giving Kiarostami some extra distribution? But I guess Criterion gotta eat. Either way, a continual tip of the hat from me (even though you’ve been tipping my wallet for a while now).
I’ve been plagued by jet lag for the past few days, waking up around 4 wide-eyed and unable to roll over and talk in my sleep for hours (like I’d like to). It’s a nice, icy blue time of day–good to catch up on some reading, but even better to do some lonely home viewing. Here are a few of the things I’ve been enjoying at unlikely hours.
1. Breaking Bad — Okay, maybe you shouldn’t watch this at 4 AM: its tone is downright apocalyptic; and it’s more melodramatic than AMC’s other amazing offering, Mad Men. But Breaking Bad is not only engrossing and addicting, it’s pointed and truly modern in a way that fills a void left by The Wire and The Sopranos. The Season 3 premiere might be the best “the way we live now” ever.
2. By Brakhage — I’ve been revisiting these in preparation for the day when I buy Volume Two. Watching Brakhage without the flicker of the projector can be bizarre, but on DVD in the deserted morning it seems perfect: just let yourself zoom in, frame by frame, and watch everything pass and flow. But don’t look at it like a painting: it’s a film.
3. JFK — Why, yes, a healthy dose of epic conspiracy theory before the sun rises is more enjoyable than at night with friends. Paranoia is better in the dawn? Maybe. Don DeLillo in the evening, by the fire; Oliver Stone in the morning, with coffee. Back and to the left.
4. The Silent World — You’ve seen The Life Aquatic. Now spring for the real thing: Jacques Cousteau and Louis Malle collaborated on this Oscar winning documentary which seems timelier now more than ever. All the DVD collections of Cousteau’s explorations are also highly recommended.
5. Guy Maddin — All of Guy Maddin’s bizarre and beautiful films are made better by early morning confusion and lightheadedness, especially Archangel and the amazing Careful.
by Brian Barth
I’ve been editing Part II for the past 7 months, and it’s been a roller coaster of a ride. After a brief hiatus into production mode for re-shoots, I found myself back at the computer again with all of this new footage and the same old feeling of dread. I slapped together what I thought was right and compressed it and sent it out. Then, thank god, Spring Break (my last and surely best) swept me off my feet. For fun, I brought along a copy of In the Blink of an Eye by Walter Murch. They say that milk was a bad choice, but this was a good one.
by Jake Teresi
After a record-setting year at the box office, what can we expect in 2010? More of the same. Don’t expect Hollywood to surprise us when things are going so well. Expect more 3D, more talking CGI animals, more lame comedies/soft dramas starring Sandra Bullock.
Not that I’m cynical. (more…)
by Adam Hirsch
While my filmmaking brethren are location scouting up in the snowy land of Pickering, Ontario, I’m holding down the fort back here in the States and keeping warm in the nascent days of the new year.
The Round-Up Endorsements this month are leaner than they have been before, but never worry: come February, we’ll have more laid out for you.
Cannery Row by John Steinbeck – Short, sweet and sour stories from a master of style and form. Most people recall Steinbeck as a copy of The Grapes of Wrath, resigned to a high school senior’s reading list, but he’s at his best and grittiest when he’s spitting out short stories.
The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis – Speaking of short stories, if you haven’t read Lydia Davis then you’re truly missing out on a modern pioneer of the form. She packs more into a single paragraph than anyone else out there.
Alka-Seltzer – Pop, pop, fizz, fizz, oh! what a relief it is! And, indeed, it is. Get the original kind, the two tablets that drop into a glass of water. Even though it seems just to be an ironic throwback (akin to, “Hey! Moxie soda isn’t just delicious, it’s nutritious too!” [actual advertising slogan]), we at the Company have found that Alka-Selter actually works wonders for both colds and hangovers.
Carrying Tea Packets in Your Coat – Why not chase the tablets with some hot tea? Everyone has more tea packets lying around their place than they would ever like to admit. Make use of them, especially in these chilly winter months, by carrying a few around in your coat pocket. Gas stations, cafes, and even Starbucks rarely charge for hot water, so keep your money and stay warm. Also, green tea helps your immune system. Hypochondriac or no, a little boost in flu season never hurt anyone.
by Adam Hirsch
Now, on this snowy New Year’s Eve, it’s a better time than ever to reflect back on the year and select our choices for the best cinematic efforts in 2009.
Myself, Peter Warren, Brian Barth, Giampaolo Bianconi, Jake Teresi and Matt Paley all wrote down our Top-10 lists (although Matt, in an uncharacteristically cynical move, declined to offer a full 10). There were ten films overlapping our choices, and, ranked by frequency, comprise the final top-10 list.
Up (Dir. Pete Doctor) — 5 Votes
The Hurt Locker (Dir. Kathryn Bigelow) — 5 Votes
A Serious Man (Dirs. Joel and Ethan Coen) — 4 Votes
Fantastic Mr. Fox (Dir. Wes Anderson) — 3 Votes
Up In The Air (Dir. Jason Reitman) — 3 Votes
Inglorious Basterds (Dir. Quentin Tarantino) — 2 Votes
Lorna’s Silence (Dir. Jean-Pierre Dardenne) — 2 Votes
Where The Wild Things Are (Dir. Spike Jonze) — 2 Votes
The Road (Dir. John Hillcoat) — 2 Votes
Sugar (Dir. Anna Boden) — 2 Votes (more…)
We’ve just had our first substantial snow of the season here in Boston, and it looks like it’ll be a long haul (as usual) until it’s gone. With that in mind, here’s a list of four things I’ll be enjoying until I make my winterly migration south of the equator.
1. Friday Night Lights Season One — One of my professors recommended this when we were reading Don DeLillo’s football novel End Zone. There’s nothing more satisfying than the tribulations of small town Texas football, no actor more earnest than Kyle Chandler, and no bad-ass momma more fun to listen to than Liz Mikel.
2. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick — I’d never read Dick before I picked up this fast-reading and fascinating alternate history about a world in which the axis powers had won World War II. If you haven’t, do.
3. Hot Chocolate from L.A. Burdick — Burdick, as I understand it, has three outposts: one in Cambridge, MA, one in Walpole, NH, and one in New York City. If you live in those places, odds are you’re familiar with their mousse-thick hot chocolate. It’s unbeatable. If you’re not familiar with it–well, you can order some online.
4. Die Hard — Last but certainly not least is my favorite Christmas movie. Oliver Stone said that Bruce Willis was the Humphrey Bogart of our generation. I don’t know about that, but in Die Hard he proves to be just as compulsively watchable as Bogie in To Have and Have Not or The Big Sleep. Alan Rickman, too, is delightfully devilish as the leader of a German terrorist group (oddly similar to the Icelandic hockey players from The Mighty Ducks). As for John McTiernan being Howard Hawks–I’d like to say time will tell, but it doesn’t look good…
by Adam Hirsch
The ride’s over.
There went the decade, crawling to a slow halt in the station, and now we disembark. This decade had its ups (college, technology) and downs (war, hurricanes)–and the world of film was no exception. Filmmaking went in two directions: Hollywood films ballooned year by year with increasing budgets and frames, culminating with this month’s Avatar, James Cameron’s all-digital $700 million 3D action romp; Independent Cinema moved into inventive territory with uploads to YouTube and low-fi meditations in Neo-neorealism after many Studio Independent Branches that funded indies (for a period, c. 2003-2007) realized that there was no real market where they believed one to be and abandoned the cause. Still, large theater chains carried more independent films than ever before, and distribution for independent films was bigger than ever with the internet and VOD cable television bringing cinema to places it never could have travelled in the past.
We forget that in 1999, DVDs were seen as the luxury alternative to VHS tapes (as Blu-Ray is to DVD now) and the local video rental store was the general access point to the cinematic world. But with this decade came the domination of the disc, and Netflix rose with it along the way. No matter where you live, so long as you have access to the internet and a DVD player, you can watch nearly any film. Think about that.
This decade was the era of the superhero. Television rooted itself in its conception of reality, though gradually began to lose itself to the power of the immediacy of the internet. Just as the remote control killed the traditional nightly television schedule, so did TiVO and iTunes murder watching television on any predetermined schedule at all.
Here’s the Company List for the top films of the Noughties. (more…)
by Jake Teresi
This is the time of the year when the big passion-projects come out–films that either soar (Lord of the Rings, Million Dollar Baby) or sorely disappoint (All the Pretty Horses, Ali, Alexander). It’s Oscar season, but you wouldn’t know it from the year-end mainstream releases, many of which hope to be THE hit Christmas movie. Don’t believe the hype: Sherlock Holmes will be mostly air, It’s Complicated won’t work out (just stop, Nancy Meyers) and were you actually going to see Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel? There won’t be much to see for a while besides Avatar, unless you live in a town with an independent cinema, until some of the indies start to expand.
Here are a half dozen movies I GUARANTEE are worth seeking out: (more…)
It’s Thanksgiving–and I know, I know, you’ve got so many things to do–but here are some things to make your down-time that much sweeter.
1. The Top Ten Book Covers of the 00s. If you’re design inclined, it’s easy to chuck the maxim “never judge a book by its cover.” I do it all the time. It’s great to see some of the best covers of the decade in one place. Also the Book Cover Archive Blog just got added to my Googler Reader.
2. Speaking of Google, the great historian Robert Darnton has just written about “Google and the New Digital Future” for the New York Review of Books. It touches on the reasons why soon most books won’t even need covers.
3.Don DeLillo has a new story in this week’s New Yorker.
4. Look at this photo of Lauren Bacall before you eat. Think about it while you eat. Return to it after you eat.
6. You might want to consider following the turkey with a Camel.
by Adam Hirsch
Here are our humble endorsements.
Ordering a ‘Short’ Coffee at Starbucks
It’s kind of like ordering off the secret menu at In and Out Burger. They don’t offer it in the usual three choices, and since all of us here at the Company prefer good ol’drip coffee to an impressively verbose latte order, the Short is the ideal size for the afternoon kick you need, or if you just want to go and read in peace. Trust us: you’ll be cooler than Shackleton’s right hand. (In addition, thank you, History Channel, for the many late-night Shackleton documentaries.)
Collected Stories by Gabriel García Márquez.
Because great style never ages, and every story is a gem. Amazingly, Márquez’s short-story output is slim. Although the book only has just under 350 pages, it reads fast but goes to brave depths. Buy a copy and you’ll come back to it again and again for years. Also, he never uses adverbs — ever. The man considers them to be cheating. Go and try to find one. We dare you.
Eating Dinner Around 8:00 p.m.
And do it with a good group of friends. Don’t eat in front of the television, and don’t eat something that involves anything to do with a microwave oven. Crack open a bottle of wine and eat sandwiches for an hour. It makes life seem that much better.
Uni-Ball Signo 207 Medium Pens.
Black ink preferred. The ideal writing instrument for anything and everything. Unpretentious, quick, and easy.
Watching College Football on Saturday Afternoon.
Most people who watch football prefer the NFL to the NCAA (going by a completely unscientific poll). But there’s an earnestness and, yes, even an innocence that can be found in college football that lacks in the NFL; every single one of those players does it for free and gives their heart to the team simply out of a love for the game. Although the BCS system is extremely — read: extremely — flawed, most conference games and especially rivalries are worth watching. Lay on the couch, turn it on, and pick a side.
Gimme a break. Do you really need a reason?
“Ruby My Dear” by Thelonious Monk
Listen to this song, performed by this man, if you ever wanted to know what falling in love sounds like.