Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy 500th Post To Speak A&D

This is my 500th Post here at Speak A&D. I know I have been limping these last several months, and my posts have been less frequent, but the archive is really building up here.

5oo Posts. What does it mean? Well, it's been great having this blog. I have enjoyed it from the start. Thank you to the readers, I appreciate your support.

Inappropriate Children's Books Are Hilarious

OK, these are hilarious. That's all there is to say. Just check them out - you will laugh, believe me. The creator of these, Josh Cooley, has lots more great stuff over at his blog, Cooley! Take a look at it here. And you can check out several other Inapropriate Children's Books over here.

PS - You HAVE TO see this one.

Ten Worst Films of the Past Decade UPDATED

OK, after much deliberation, here are the Top Ten Worst Films of the Past Decade. Let me know what I missed.

Here they are:

10. The Time Machine (Laugh out loud terrible.)
09. Ghost Rider (Worst comic book movie of all time?)
08. The Matrix Reloaded (Awful - are the Wachowski's a "one and done"?)
07. The Matrix Revolutions (Nearly unwatchable.)
06. Pearl Harbor (Putrid romance against our darkest moment.)
05. Superman Returns (Seriously, one of the worst films I've ever seen.)
04. Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith (The only good thing? The pain was finally over.)
03. Episode 2: Attack of the Clones (Forgettable, sad, preposterous.)
02. Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (Featuring the worst character in film history, Jar-Jar Binks - annoying, unfunny, stupid, rascist. That about covers it.)

...and the clear cut, unmistakeably Number 1 Worst Film of the Past Decade is...

01. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls.
Not only does it not stand with the trilogy, but it's a flat out bad film. Easily the worst film of Speilberg's career. A vile, vile pile of garbage.

George Lucas
has spent the past decade doing everything in his power to destroy his own legacy. I am pretty sure he wakes up in the morning, looks in the mirror and says "what can I do to destroy something beloved to millions of people today?" Make Darth Vader into a sissy, whiny little baby? Check. Film entire movies against a blue screen with God-awful CGI? Check? Write some of the worst dialogue of all time? "Anakin, you're tearing me apart...NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!". Check. "OK, since that's all been done, how can I destroy my greatest creation, Indiana Jones?" That answer is too long and complicated, so I will be writing my Top Twenty Reasons Why Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls Sucks soon. Here is a good little primer.

But Speilberg. Speilberg should know better. This decade he made War of the Worlds and Munich, both of which are superb...then....this. The more I think about it, I blame him. Ugh...I'm off to cry about the total destruction of my childhood...

My Top 25 Films of the Past Decade REVISED

After some reminders and date checking, here is my updated list - 7.10.10 TS

OK, so here it is, my epic list of the Top 25 Films of the Past Decade. After the first two, it is really, really hard to rank them. Let me know if I am forgetting something. Here goes:

25. 24 Hour Party People (Winterbottom)
24. Moon (Jones)
23. Y Tu Mama Tambien (Cuaron)
22. Vicky Christina Barcelona (Allen)
21. High Fidelity (Frears)
20. The Dark Knight (Nolan)
19. No Country For Old Men (Coen)
18. Before Sunset (Linklater)
17. The Life Aquatic (W. Anderson)
16. Almost Famous (Crowe)
15. O Brother Where Art Thou? (Coen)
14. Zodiac (Fincher)
13. I Heart Huckabees (Russell)
12. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Gondry)
11. Lost In Translation (S. Coppola)
10. Donnie Darko (Kelly)
09. The White Ribbon (Haneke)
08. Gangs of New York (Scorsese)
07. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Dominik)
06. Mulholland Drive (Lynch)
05. The Dreamers (Bertolucci)
04. Children of Men (Cuaron)
03. The Royal Tenenbaums (W. Anderson)
02. The Departed (Scorsese)

...and the clear cut, unmistakeably Number 1 Best Film of the Past Decade is...

01. There Will Be Blood (P.T. Anderson)
Featuring the finest screen performance of the decade from Daniel Day-Lewis, who is hands down the best actor in the world today. He is the closest thing to Brando in his prime working right now - so strong he truly makes everyone else look amateurish. His Daniel Plainview and Bill the Butcher (from Gangs of New York) are twin towers of acting, simply two of the greatest performances of all time.

And director Paul Thomas Anderson? His small body of work is so eclectic and varied, yet so strong - Hard 8, Boogie Nights, Punch Drunk Love, Magnolia. But Blood is a true masterpiece, a film which will be regarded with more significance as time moves on. As I stated at the time, There Will Be Blood is Citizen Kane as directed by Stanley Kubrick. A monumental acheivement. Some other time I will go into much greater detail about this film.

Honourable Mention - Waking Life (Linklater), 25th Hour (Lee), Memento (Nolan), The Aviator (Scorsese), The Diving Bell and The Butterfly (Schnabel), Gladiator (R. Scott), Adaptation (Kaufman), The Prestige (Nolan), You Can Count On Me (Lonergan), American Psycho (Harron), Amelie (Jeunet), Inglourious Basterds (Tarantino), The Count of Monte Cristo (Reynolds), The Fountain (Aronofsky).

Godard's Alphaville Is Brilliant

I have been binging on the work of the French New Wave of late. I am fully obsessed with the work of Jean-Luc Godard. Godard was on the forefront of the movement (along with his best friend at the time, Francois Truffaut) that helped usher in a cultural revolution in France in the 1960's. This was the group of filmmakers that directly influenced the great American directors of the 1970's - Scorsese, Coppola, Speilberg, and Malick to name just a few.

Last night I finally saw Alphaville: or the Strange Adventure of Lemmy Caution. Alphaville is Godard's dystopian future society. Technically this is labeled under Sci-Fi, but none of the visual cues borrow from the traditional understanding of the science fiction genre. Exteriors were filmed in Paris, with no attempt to cover the antiquated architecture of the city. Interiors do feel modernist, but not futuristic. This alone adds a feeling of realism to the story.

Set sometime in the future, Alphaville is a city operated by a computerized nerve center, called the Alpha 60. A man posing as a reporter comes from the Outlands to the city to accomplish several missions, though we do not know what they are at first. He meets the daughter of the professor responsible for the Alpha 60 project (the spectacularly beautiful Anna Karina), and soon becomes romantically involved with
her. It becomes apparent that emotions are seen as irrational behaviours, and individuals who display those behaviours will be removed from society - i.e. a man who wept at the death of his wife is executed for "irrational responses".

This is a brilliant, thought provoking film that clearly influenced the work of
Terry Gilliam (especially Twelve Monkeys) and Cameron Crowe's Vanilla Sky as but two examples. This film is a must see for any cinefile, and is a film that will stick with you long after it ends. His visual style is a breakthrough for the period, utilizing hand-held camera shots and harsh cuts. Engaging.

Godard likes to pack his films with exterior references, and this film is no different - touching on everything from the poetry of Jorge Luis Borges to Heckel & Jeckel to existential philosophy to silent film. It's one of the things I like best about Godard's 60's films - the referents point the viewer in multiple directions, allowing the film to be unwrapped like a riddle.

Give it a shot, it's well worth it.

"Every edit is a lie" - Jean-Luc Godard

Watch the Brilliant Evan Hecox Work

Evan Hecox from Incase on Vimeo.

Everything about this film - from the music, cinematography, lighting, music, set-ups, and of course the featured artist - is fantastic. If you aren't familiar with the work of Evan Hecox, you should be, because his work is totally amazing. This film gives you the opportunity to watch him work from beginning to end. Like me, he is part trad fine artist, part designer, part illustrator, part printmaker. Killer.

PS - Thanks Kitsune Noir (fantastic in it's own right) for the heads up.

Project 33 Is Worthy of Your Time

Project 33 is a site where people with classic 33 rpm record sleeves scan them and post them. It's a great little growing archive of this beautiful corner of LP design.

The album covers featured on Project Thirty-Three were collected, scanned and archived by Jive Time Records, a Seattle based store specializing in used vinyl. If you like what you see here, you might also enjoy Groove Is In The Art, my other album cover gallery featuring vaguely psychedelic graphics on decidedly non-psychedelic records.

Awesome. Check them out here.

Beck's Record Club Is Wonderful

Record Club: INXS "New Sensation" from Beck Hansen on Vimeo.

If you weren't already familiar (and I may be late on this one) Beck has been putting together a thing called the "Record Club" where he has several other musicians - Jeff Tweedy and others from Wilco, Feist, the MGMT guys, Devendra Banhart, etc. come and cover an entire album in it's entirety in the span of one day.

Record Club is an informal meeting of various musicians to record an album in a day. The album chosen to be reinterpreted is used as a framework. Nothing is rehearsed or arranged ahead of time. A track is put up here once a week. As you will hear, some of the songs are rough renditions, often first takes that document what happened over the course of a day as opposed to a polished rendering. There is no intention to ‘add to’ the original work or attempt to recreate the power of the original recording. Only to play music and document what happens. And those who aren’t familiar with the albums in question will hopefully look for the songs in their definitive versions.

Really cool stuff - so far they've covered INXS' Kick, Leonard Cohen's Songs of Leonard Cohen, Skip Spence's Oar, and The Velvet Underground's Velvet Underground and Nico. Some amazing interpretations.

Of particular note is the spectacular reinterpretation of INXS' New Sensation.

Check em out here: