Saturday, February 28, 2009

I Watch Movies about time

Southland Tales (dir. Richard Kelly, USA, 2006, 145 min., watched on Instant Netflix)
This was just so much stupid fun. It's like the last few minutes of Donnie Darko done up in neon (fact: if I describe something as "done up in neon" you should probably pick up a positive connotation) and stretched for two and a half hours (also, actually fun). So much WTF in this movie, so many boneheaded references, and it makes very little sense. But the cast: the Rock, SMG, Bai Ling, Wallace Shawn, Nora Dunn, Wood Harris, Amy Poehler, Mandy Moore, Justin Timberlake, it just goes on and on and on. And Sean William Scott is actually kinda great in this. Not a good movie per se, but probably worth your time if you love trash like I do. (Obvi it's about time travel and apocalypse).

La Jetée (dir. Chris Marker, France, 1966, 28 min., watched on DVD)
This is also about time travel and memory, though it is about a billion times more intelligent about it. It takes place in post-WWIII Paris, where an imprisoned astronaut is sent back in time through the power of his memory. Also, it's mostly just stills with narration. This was my first Chris Marker experience, and dude is super-talented. And it comes on a Criterion DVD with...

Sans Soleil (dir. Chris Marker, France, 1983, 100 min., watched on DVD)
This is an essay film, narrated by a woman reading letters w/ footage received from a (fake) cinematographer traveling the world (but mostly in Japan, with stops in Guinea-Bissau, San Francisco, and Iceland). Again, this is largely about memory, seemingly an obsession of marker's. Past that I need more viewings and more time to think to tell you what exactly it's about, but I couldn't stop watching it and taking in both the montage and the theory. Plus, there's a section about Hitchcock's Vertigo so that's fun.

Street Trash (dir. J. Michael Muro, USA, 1987, 81 min., watched on DVD)
Matty and I were in the Bronx, and Mullin showed us this absurd bumsploitation (that's bum like homeless person, not like butt) loosely about a bum wine that turns people into neon goo. We didn't get through the whole thing, but the parts we saw had surprisingly little people-melting and was much more just about homeless people in Greenpoint going crazy. When we left there had just been some off-screen necrophilia (the corpse had been fucked to death, also mercifully off screen, by a gang of hobos), and a bunch of homeless folk were playing keep-away with another homeless dude's recently severed wang. Fun fact: the director of this went on to be the DP for (the bad) Crash.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Ain't what you want, baby, it's what you need

215. RZA ft. Method Man and Cappadonna - "Wu-Wear: the Garment Renaissance" (Big Beat, 1996)

I was shocked enough, in retrospect, that whoever was putting together the soundtrack for High School High was gracious enough to let RZA stick a 4 minute long advertisement for Wu-Wear on his album, but I had no recollection of the fact that it was also a single and a video. Audacious, is what you call that. This beat is a highlight even in a career as illustrious as RZA's, though, and his super-scientifical bullshit is inspired here. Method Man should sing more hooks, too, this is great. (Full disclosure: I had a black Wu-Wear hoodie that I loved a lot, and still have a navy blue Wu-Wear Shaolin t-shirt).

BONUS: I had this on mixtape in like 7th grade, and am so happy to find it on YouTube: the Wu-Tang St. Ides radio ad. Solid.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

You watch channel zero with that bitch Barbara Walters

216. Crooklyn Dodgers '95 - "Return of the Crooklyn Dodgers" (MCA Soundtracks, 1995)

From the soundtrack of Spike Lee's quite underrated Clockers, comes this track, the sequel to Special Ed, Buckshot, and Masta Ace's Crooklyn soundtrack title track, and it pays homage to the original with constant vocal samples (chopped up expertly by, who else, DJ Premier) while outdoing it, thanks to Chubb Rock, O.C., and Jeru the Damaja. Chubb sounds as passionate as any MC ever on this one. OC kills it as always. And Jeru is his usual super preachy but still real dope self. The real star, though, is Primo's beat, which is and A+++ melancholy street banger, the drums hard enough to matter, but the other instruments and vocals filling most of the space. I didn't know what it was like being a young black man in Brooklyn when I heard this in 95 (or whenever I heard it), and I never will, obviously, but when everyone was talking about rappers keepin' it real in the 90s, this is what I thought that meant.

Movies movies movies

On the Netflix so far this week:

Sunrise (dir. F.W. Murnau, USA, 1927)

Wot to say about a movie considered to be one of the greatest, most important things ever filmed? Well, that I really enjoyed it, for one. I haven't seen a silent film in a bit, and had great fun with this. It should be noted that there are some recorded sound effects and crowd noises in this though, and that they are used very sparingly and to great effect, like when our married couple go to the city and kiss in the middle of a crowded intersection and are suddenly surrounded by an urban throng of vehicles with angry drivers. Def added to short list of films I must see on a big screen before I pass.

Reprise (dir. Joachim Trier, Norway, 2006)(currently available to Watch Instantly on Netflix)

Still a little torn on this one, but at worst it's an interesting film about young 20-something artists, which is nice. Lots of flashbacks and flash-forwards and what-ifs and Joy Division, and I am really so over college that I should react badly to a scene in which "Deceptacon" gets put on by interlopers at a stuffy party? No, I'm not.

Moartea domnului Lazarescu (the Death of Mr. Lazarescu) (dir. Cristi Puiu, Romania, 2005)

An old man calls an ambulance with a headache. The ambulance eventually comes. He gets driven to like 4 hospitals in total. This goes on for 2 and a half hours, but considering how rather downcast the material is it went by fairly briskly. Quite different from YMD fav 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, admittedly the only other Romanian movie I've seen (not that I would expect all Romanian films to be alike obvi), in that while the camera in 4 Months seemingly exists at times only to make you uncomfortable, this one is decidedly more matter of fact, letting the characters (sometimes compassionate, sometimes not at all helpful, mostly just frustrated and trying to do their jobs) and situations take care of the storytelling. Recommended if you've got some time free to watch an old man get sick (and god knows I do).

Video of the Year pt. 1

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

All the things I knew I didn't know and didn't want to know

217. The Magnetic Fields - "The Things We Did and Didn't Do" (from the 69 Love Songs album, Merge Records, 1999)

The end of Oscar season gives me more time to focus on double dactyls. Ahem.

Larrity, scarity
Young Stephen Merrit wrote
69 songs, some of
them are quite sad.

Some are so sweet they cause
This one's more wistful, I
think it sounds rad.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I only wonder what it is that I even miss him for

218. Ted Leo/Pharmacists - "Timorous Me" (from the Tyranny of Distance LP, Lookout Records, 2001)
219. Chisel - "On Warmer Music" (from the Set You Free LP, Gern Blandsten, 1997)
220. Ted Leo/Pharmacists - "Me and Mia" (from the Shake the Sheets LP, Lookout Records, 2004)

I first saw Ted Leo and his Pharmacists at Taste of Randolph Street, during the summer between high school and college. Sweeney and I left from our friend Pat Lange's graduation party and drove up to the little festival in time to walk around a bit and admire the greasy ass food we were already too full to eat before the only band we were there to see took the stage and were even better than we'd hoped for.

This was a few months before Shake the Sheets, but I distinctly remember hearing "Me and Mia", and going absolutely crazy for it, barely able to contain myself waiting to hear it on record, or at least to figure out what the lyrics were so I could accurately quote them on my Away Message. This was months before we thought the lyrics had anything to do with eating disorders, the song was just amazingly catchy, and I can't begin to count the amount of times I heard an indie kid freak out to "do you believe in something beautiful" in college.

It would be a few weeks after this concert until I heard "Timorous Me" (and the Tyranny of Distance), but that soon displaced "Me and Mia" and "Hearts of Oak" as the song I would cheer for most the next time I saw Ted (I saw the band like 5 timesin the next two years). It's a great song about friendship, which gets me every time, and definitely got me all the time as a freshman entering college. Unlike "Me and Mia", which explodes in the first minute, this one takes a while to build before martial drums and Ted's dueling guitars freak it out. I still love it, but man, if you caught me listening to it walking down Fordham Rd. like 4 years ago, I prolly woulda been tearing up.

"On Warmer Music" is from Ted's old band Chisel. It could hardly be a simpler song, or a more effective one. I've never really bothered to figure out what exactly the lyrics mean to me. I still think that "I've found it a great behoovement/to study the transient movement" is kind of a terrible lyric. Still, when this song explodes at just about the halfway point, and then gets rammed right into your skull for almost two minutes it makes me wanna jump around happily like a punk like few other songs.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Maciejs

The awards that happened in my head last night, cuz why the hell not?

Best Picture
- Entre les murs (the Class)
- My Winnipeg
- Rachel Getting Married **winner**
- Synecdoche, NY

Achievement in Directing
- Jonathan Demme for Rachel Getting Married
- Charlie Kauffman for Synecdoche, NY
- Guy Maddin for My Winnipeg **winner**
- Andrew Stanton for WALL•E
- Gus Van Sant for Milk

Best Actor in a Leading Role
- Robert Downey Jr. for Iron Man
- Colin Farrell for In Bruges
- Sean Penn for Milk
- Mickey Rourke for the Wrestler **winner**
- Michael Shannon for Shotgun Stories

Best Actress in a Leading Role
- Juliette Binoche for Flight of the Red Balloon
- Anne Hathaway for Rachel Getting Married **winner**
- Sally Hawkins for Happy-Go-Lucky
- Melissa Leo for Frozen River
- Michelle Williams for Wendy and Lucy

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
- Robert Downey Jr. for Tropic Thunder
- Bill Irwin for Rachel Getting Married
- Heath Ledger for the Dark Knight **winner**
- Eddie Marsan in Happy-Go-Lucky
- Tom Noonan for Synecdoche, NY

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
- Penelope Cruz for Vicki Cristina Barcelona
- Rosemary DeWitt for Rachel Getting Married **winner**
- Samantha Morton for Synecdoche, NY
- Allison Pill for Milk
- Marisa Tomei for the Wrestler

Achievement in Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
- François Bégaudeau for Entre les murs (the Class) **winner**
- Mark Fergus, Matt Holloway, Art Marcum and Hawk Ostby for Iron Man
- Jonathan Nolan for the Dark Knight
- Jon Raymond and Kelly Reichardt for Wendy and Lucy
- Gus Van Sant for Paranoid Park

Achievement in Writing (Original Screenplay)
- Pete Docter, Jim Reardon and Andrew Stanton for WALL•E
- Charlie Kauffman for Synecdoche, NY **winner**
- Mike Leigh for Happy-Go-Lucky
- Jenny Lumet for Rachel Getting Married
- Martin Mcdonagh for In Bruges

Best Foreign Language Film: Entre les murs (The Class) (France)
Best Documentary Feature: the Order of Myths
Best Song: "O Saya" from Slumdog Millionaire
Best Animated Feature: WALL•E
Best Animated Short: This Way Up
Best Live Action Short: New Boy
Achievement in Art Direction: Speed Racer
Achievement in Costume Design: the Fall
Achievement in Make-Up: Hellboy 2: The Golden Army
Achievement in Visual Effects: the Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Achievement in Cinematography: the Dark Knight
Best Documentary Short, Achievement in Editing, Best Score, Achievement in Sound Editing, Achievement in Sound Mixing: I don't give a shit.

OK, done with 2008 Oscars/year-end movie stuff forever. Can u tell I'm bored?

Cuz he doesn't know what I do

221. TLC - "Creep" (LaFace Records, 1994)

TLC's 1994 ode to infidelity (I feel like that's the kind of intro Rachel Perry would give) is one of the slinkiest, smoothest little jams this side of the ol' Mississip. "Oh-ah, Oh-ah, Oh-ah," however you choose to write it, is one of the great wordless vocal hooks ever heard by these ears. "The 22nd of loneliness" is fantastically bizarre opening line, but T-Boz somehow sings it as it were both perfectly natural and the opening line to one of the greatest English-language novels of the 20th century. Dallas Austin's production could not be better suited to the vocals/lyrics, the strings on the chorus adding a gentle touch of paranoia and shiftiness to the whole smooth-ass affair. Purrfect.

(link to the vid here, none of those are embeddable)


Yo, some dudes I know got me to write a little sumthin on their blog, Music For Perfect People, and I figured I would go spread the pop gospel. Here's the first column. It is, of course, about Taylor Swift. I promise this won't interfere with my YMDing duties. :)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oscar Death Race pt. 13 (THE BIG SHABLAMMO)

Well here it is folks, the two final awards on our journey, two that have seemingly been decided for months now. Whatevs. Let's do this all together now.

Best Motion Picture of the Year

- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
- Frost/Nixon
- Milk
- The Reader
- Slumdog Millionaire

Best Achievement in Directing

- the Curious Case of Benjamin Button - David Fincher
- Frost/Nixon - Ron Howard
- Milk - Gus Van Sant
- the Reader- Stephen Daldry
- Slumdog Millionaire - Danny Boyle

Who Should Win?: Milk is the only one of these films that belongs anywhere near this list. It might not be in my top 5 of the year, but it wouldn't be far outside it. The other ones wouldn't in my top 30. Also, Gus Van Sant directed two movies better than anything these directors did this year. Fucking Ron Howard and Stephen Daldry.

Who Will Win?: Danny Boyle. Slumpoop. Mark it down.

Who Got Snubbed?: Look, people are gonna try to tell you that it was a shit year for movies. It wasn't. It was just a shit year for Oscar nominations. My lovely Rachel Getting Married, the freeform doc magic of My Winnipeg, the crazy ambition of Synecdoche NY, the topical, beautiful WALL-E, Kelly Reichardt's great Wendy and Lucy, the visual splendor of the Fall, I could go on and on and on and on. There are more than 30 movies I saw from last year that I like better than Slumdog. It's been a great year, now let's sit down and enjoy as the wrong things from it get Oscars. xoxo.

Oscar Death Race pt. 12 (SAUSAGEFEST)

Well I'll be fucked if last nite wasn't an epic journey back to the long lost days of college friends and debauchery. Tonight will be a journey into Hollywood boredom, and I can't wait. I made a tapenade. It's called "I Have Soooooo Maaaany Olives". DEATHRACE(JASONSTATHAMSHOULDBENOMINATEDHERE!)GO!

Best Performance by an Actor in a Lead Role

- the Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Brad Pitt
- Frost/Nixon - Frank Langella
- Milk - Sean Penn
- the Visitor - Richard Jenkins
- the Wrestler - Mickey Rourke

Who Should Win?: Langella was fine, but that's it. It's nice to see Richard Jenkins getting some recognition. I don't think he quite deserves the award for this one, but he was good in it, just as he was in Step Brothers and Burn After Reading, and is in pretty much everything he's in. I'm not actually upset about Pitt being here either, though I could maybe think of a few more worthy choices. As much as I didn't like Benjamin Zippers, he definitely did his job in it, and no one else could have appeared by Cate Blanchett's bedside as a young Benji, looking like more or less the perfect man. Now, one can argue that that's just good casting, not good acting, but whatever it is, it gets the job done.

The casting vs. acting thing is also something I've heard a lot of as a reason that Sean Penn's performance is better than Mickey Rourke's, but I don't think I buy it. Penn was great, don't get me wrong, but Rourke should not be punished for working his own demons (as they (who?) say) into Randy the Ram Robinson, he should be praised. No one else could've played the Ram, but that's as much a testament to the awesomeness of Rourke's performance as it is a reflection of his life. Plus I really wanna see how this will be adapted for the Oscars.

Who Will Win?: Maybe the force of the fans of Sean Penn will be too much, but fuck it, Mickey Rourke ftw. The story is just too damn good, and Oscar loves a good story, right? I mean wot else that isn't boring could possibly happen during these awards? Again, if you didn't click on this link a paragraph ago, run don't walk.

Who Got Snubbed: To start, I would rather see both of the fellas from In Bruges there than Pitt or Langella. Martin McDonagh's screenplay was sharp and hilarious, but it takes a certain amount of talent to deliver those lines and not sound stupid. Not a very strong year for lead actor performances I guess, though I haven't seen Hunger or Che. One day Jason Statham will be nominated in this category and I will die a happy man.

Almost dunn. I'll do best Director and Best Pic right before showtime, when I get to Matty's house. Holler.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Oscar Death Race pt. 11 (GIRLSGIRLSGIRLS)

All the single ladies! (All the single ladies!) All the single ladies! (All the single ladies!) Now put your hands up!

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

- Changeling - Angelina Jolie
- Doubt - Meryl Streep
- Frozen River - Melissa Leo
- Rachel Getting Married - Anne Hathaway
- The Reader - Kate Winslet

Who Should Win?: Jolie was okay. Winslet was okay, I guess, in one of the worst movies I've ever seen. Streep was fun, especially cuz she seems to be playing the stupid screenplay for laughs a lot more than the rest of the cast or, indeed, the director. Her last scene is awful though. Melissa Leo is really good in Frozen River, but if you've been paying attention to these last few posts, you know I'm going with Anne Hathaway, whose performance in Rachel Getting Married I can't praise enough. She makes you really, really care about this annoying, selfish character, doesn't go for cheap tears nearly as much as you might expect her too, and has really great chemistry with the rest of the cast. I'm pretty sure she's not gonna win this, but if she did, it would make me happier than any other award that's still possible for Sunday.

Who Will Win?: Betting against Meryl Streep is always a shaky proposition, but this really seems like Winslet's year. So Kate Winslet, a usually awesome actress, will get the Oscar for maybe the worst performance (in definitely the worst movie) of her career. That's just how the Oscars go.

Who Got Snubbed?: First of all, I gotta rep for Michelle Williams, who, if Wendy and Lucy was a bigger deal, would totally be getting the Pretty Young Actress With No Makeup Oscar Nomination. She's really great in that movie, though. And then there's Sally Hawkins, who has probably won more Oscar precursors without getting a nomination than anyone ever, which is a goddamn crime. Her character in Happy-Go-Lucky is a very interesting one, but one with a lesser actress could've been too annoying and too one-dimensional. Instead, Poppy is one of the most interesting characters of the year. Once again, academy, you suck.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Oscar Death Race pt. 10 (WHAT'S A HAND-DRAWN?)

Aaight, only a few more chances to watch this sweet graphic. I didn't know whether I was gonna be able to see all of these movies in time, but luckily Panda came in on Netflix this morning and I was able to purchase Bolt from one of the trusty bootleg ladies at my laundromat. So here we go, OSCARDEATHCAR(TOON)RACEGREENFLAG!

Best Animated Feature Film

- Bolt - dir. Chris Williams; Byron Howard
- Kung Fu Panda - dir. John Stevenson; Mark Osborne
- WALL·E - dir. Andrew Stanton

Who Should Win?: I mean, WALL·E should won, hands down. It's one of the best movies of the year animated or not, and I think, though it doesn't reach the epic heights of its first fifteen minutes for the rest of the film, it's still better than all the Best Picture nominees (with Milk the only one that's even close). But let me say that the other two movies in this category were both very well animated, well plotted, well voice-acted, and all-around fun films. KFP is a really funny movie, and a lot of that is down to the little details in the animation and movements of the various characters. Bolt is too, and has it's more or less by the numbers plotting after the initial premise, it is executed almost perfectly. Also, many many points for casting Miley Cyrus as a young actress in a movie about a dog who because of his handlers is unaware of the barrier between the character he plays on TV and himself in real life. Seriously, genius.

Who Will Win?: WALL·E. I know it lost the Annies, god knows why, but it'll win here like it has to and should.

Who Got Snubbed?: Waltz With Bashir is the only other animated movie I remember seeing in 2008, and it was great, but it is at least getting lurve in the Foreign section so I'm not too upset.

Actors, Actresses, Directors, and Pictures to come. Holler holler holler.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Oscar Death Race pt. 9 (SUPPORT HOS)

Since we (read: Matt) are gon be pretty busy this weekend (well, I guess I'll be pretty busy getting drnk amirite?), we decided to get these supporting categories out of the way right quick via iChat. Here are the juicy results. OSCARDEATHTENNISMATCHGO!

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Taraji P. Henson
- Doubt - Amy Adams
- Doubt - Viola Davis
- Vicky Cristina Barcelona - Penélope Cruz
- The Wrestler - Marisa Tomei

RachelGettingMaciejd: Okay, so we have 4 pretty good performances here, by my count (sorry Taraji), even though only one of them was in a good movie. Who do you think should get the little bald man?
ihavesoooomanymatts: Ew, don't be sorry. I'm going to have to vote my heart on this one, and I'm using boobs to make my decision. Sorry Penelope, Marisa one upped you.
RachelGettingMaciejd: Yeah, tho Penelope was pretty good in that movie you might actually enjoy cuz you liked Match Point (ARGH!) and this was not as bad as that. Also, I confess that I missed a little of what Penelope was saying cuz my bootleg didn't have the subtitles, but I swear, she was gr8. Not as great as Marisa though, so boobs it is.
ihavesoooomanymatts: OK that's settled. Now I think it's a pretty tough call for who will win, I mean really it's anybody's HAHAHA JKLOL, Penelope Cruz, right? I know the Academy likes to mix things up and surprise everybody at least once, but I don't think it's going to be here. Adams and Davis cancel each other out (plus Doubt blows), I haven't spoken to a single human being that didn't hate Henson's character, and The Wrestler is winning Best Actor, and I think stopping there.
RachelGettingMaciejd: I guess if yr so confident then Cruz will have to be YMD's official pick (LOLZ), but despite the vote splitting, I'd think Davis might have a shot here. She does kinda upstage Streep in that one park scene and there's been buzzzz, wotever that is. Let's get on to the snubbery. Wotcha got? (I'll just start typing up my Synecdoche/Rachel steez)
ihavesoooomanymatts: That was some pretty Oscar worthy snot-drippage in that park scene. Ummm, I'm not sure I have any subs in this category. I would like to have seen Beyonce nominated for Cadillac Records, but I didn't see it, I just like Beyonce. Aren't there like 24 actresses in fancy indie darling movies you're about to talk about? I'll let you take this one.
RachelGettingMaciejd: Rosemary Dewitt, who plays the title character in Rachel Getting Married, should have this sown up. fuck the bullshit. Her and Hathaway have more chemistry than Marie Curie and shit, and she does the range of emotions required of her character to a t. Samantha Morton (not to be confused with Samantha Mathis, who it turned out wasn't in this movie) is the best of the Supporting Actresses in Synecdoche, NY. She plays through her house burning down for no reason wonderfully. And Allison Pill in Milk should reeeeealy be in more things (though she was great as a cripple on Criminal Intent as well).
ihavesoooomanymatts: She had great hair in that movie.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

- The Dark Knight - Heath Ledger
- Doubt - Philip Seymour Hoffman
- Milk - Josh Brolin
- Revolutionary Road - Michael Shannon
- Tropic Thunder - Robert Downey Jr.

ihavesoooomanymatts:Onto Supporting Actor which is bound to be far and away the single closet race in Oscar history! We've got a homophobe, a dude in blackface, a pedophile, a lunatic, and some dead guy who I've never heard of before. Who YOU gon give it to Maciej?
RachelGettingMaciejd: This category is actually pretty sweet, huh? Besides PSH in that movie the title of which I can't remember despite its final line. I'm so fucking happy that Downey is nominated for Tropic Thunder, Brolin was good, and I guess we can forgive Shannon forBug now, maybe? (PS see Shotgun Stories folks). Okay, Heath Ledger should and undoubtedly will win this. Who is rightfully pissed that they're not here and PSH is?
ihavesoooomanymatts: Brendan Gleeson for In Bruges, JimMyron Ross for Ballast (WILL NO ONE SEE THIS MOVIE?!), Brad Pitt for Burn After Reading, Jimmy Franco for Milk (or even Pineapple Express if we're going to comedy route) and I'm told Bill Irwin for Rachel's Never Winning Anything.
RachelGettingMaciejd: Listen, it's not like you had the foresight to see Ballast in theaters, dammit. I'll see it when it's on the Netflix. Anyways, yes, Bill Irwin, he's the best. Holds the movie together like glue. And he's a well known clown in real life. Not like Chet from the Real World clown, like person who professionally clowns. Also, Eddie Marsan is wonderfully enraged in Happy-Go-Lucky. And yeah, word to Brad Pitt. I'm starting to like that movie the more I think about it.
RachelGettingMaciejd: See if you can guess who I think should win for Best Actress.

Oscar Death Race, pt. 8 (SUCK MY ADAPTATION)

Well this is a bummer. Not only did nothing exciting get nominated, it turns out there was nothing exciting TO nominate. Jesus Christ, unemployed writers of America, START ADAPTING. This category is wide fucking open! While I spend the next few weeks days minutes adapting Nicole Richie's The Truth About Diamonds into the 2010 Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar winner, spend a few minutes reading my predictions for this miserable excuse for a category:

Slumdog Millionaire - Simon Beaufoy (adapting Q & A by Vikas Swarup)
Frost/Nixon - Peter Morgan (adapting his own play)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Eric Roth (adapting F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story)
Doubt - John Patrick Shanley (adapting his own play)
The Reader David Hare (adapting Bernard Schlink's novel)

Who should win:
Well let's see. Frost/zzzzzzzzzzz...oh sorry, I must have drifted off there for a second, where was I? The Reader (as you may have previously read) was awful (AWFUL). Eric Roth took a story under 20 pages by one of the 20th century's greatest authors and turned it into three hour prequel to Forrest Gump, which coincidentally enough, he also wrote (yo fuck that dude). And John Patrick Shanley turned a good play (his own) into a mess. A horrible, stupid, boring, confusing, muddled, overacted, tilted mess of a movie. So...Slumdog. God this year is so boring.

Who will win:
Slumdog, duh, haven't you been paying attention?

Who got snubbed?
Well, as not impressed as I was by it, the screenplay for Revolutionary Road was better than at least four of the nominated films. Not much else. But don't worry, I've adapted three novels into screenplays while writing this, so look forward to this category in 2010.

Oscar Death Race pt. 7 (THE WRITTEN WORD UP!)

Here it is. Finally. A category I'm actually excited about because I'm 100% sure that someone I like is going to win it. How do I know? Because I like all of these films and think their screenplays are super. Even the fact that my favorite movie of the year didn't get nominated here, in a category I was pretty sure it would get, can't really bring me down. Especially in comparison to the turgid Best Adapted Screenplay category (which Matty will have for you shortly, I think), this is just a ray of sunshine in an otherwise shit (or cloud, but hey, I do love mixing metaphors) filled year of nominations. GREEN FLAG GO!

Best Original Screenplay

- Frozen River - Courtney Hunt
- Happy-Go-Lucky - Mike Leigh
- In Bruges - Martin McDonagh
- Milk - Dustin Lance Black
- WALL·E - Andrew Stanton (screenplay/story); Jim Reardon (screenplay); Pete Docter (story)

Who Should Win?: This is a tough one. Frozen River is prolly my lest favorite of these, and even that's really good. WALL·E is just an amazing story (not forgetting here that a script is more than dialogue, folk), and really well written. Milk's screenplay does a great job avoiding biopic-by-numbers and making what could be an overly didactic, cliched Oscar-bait story into something with real emotional resonance, even past the immediate 2008 social context. In Bruges, which I would've totally missed had so many of my good friends not convinced me to see it, is absolutely hilarious and makes what I expected to be stock "gangsters with a conscience" characters incredibly multi-dimensional. And then there's poor Happy-Go-Lucky, robbed of a Best Actress nominations, which truly deserves something. As phenomenal as Sally Hawkins' acting in this movie is, Mike Leigh invents for her a truly bizarre, off-putting, and still quite fleshed out character, and one surrounded by a world of oddly believable yet still memorable characters and events. So, with all due respect to all these screenwriters, I'm giving it to Mike Leigh for Happy-Go-Lucky.

Who Will Win?: As much as I would love to see Mike Leigh get his first Oscar or Martin McDonagh his second, I really doubt either of those things will happen. The WALL·E folks have a slightly higher chance, I think, but still, it's Animated. So Dustin Lance Black, step up and get your prize. You're in the only one of these movies nominated for Best Picture, and while you wouldn't be my number one choice for this award, you'll prolly deserve your statue as much as anyone that wins all night. Keep doing a good job on Big Love too.

Who Got Snubbed?: Again, I'm really happy about these nominations, but that won't stop me from highlighting a few other screenwriting successes this year. Again, I loved loved loved loved loved loved Rachel Getting Married more or less as much as any movie in the last few years, and i don't care how much of it was improvised, a movie this good doesn't get made without Jenny Lumet's killer screenplay. Then there's Charlie Kaufman, who the Academy loves to nominate. I guess Synecdoche, NY was too dense and messy for lotsa folks, and that's fine, to each his own. But I found it immensely moving and immensely fun, the kind of movie you can get completely lost in and enjoy it all the more for the confusion, and I wish it hadn't been completely ignored by the Academy. But then encouraging ambition isn't exactly the Academy's strong suit this year, is it?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Oscar Death Race pt. 6 (LOUD NOISES and MELODEEZ NUTS)

I'm just gonna do all deez aural ones right now. Really, you might as well not read past Best Song. God knows I'll barely be writing.

Best Song has been cut down to three songs this year, much to the chagrin of some folks. To make things even more irrelevant, the songs will be cut down to a little over a minute each for a medley. Peter Gabriel is thus refusing to perform, and M.I.A. just had a baby so she might not be there either. Good times. Anyways, OSCARDEATHRACEON!

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

- "O Saya" from Slumdog Millionaire - A.R. Rahman; Maya Arulpragasam
- "Jai Ho" from Slumdog Millionaire - A.R. Rahman (music); Sampooran Singh Gulzar (lyrics)
- "Down to Earth" from WALL·E - Peter Gabriel (music/lyrics); Thomas Newman (music)

Who should win?: "O Saya", no contest. I know we all love WALL·E a lot better than Slumdog Thrillionaire, but even if you take Maya out of the equation, "O Saya"'s awesome drums are easily the best thing about this category. Petey Gabriel's song is kind of animation theme song by numbers, and prefer "Jai Ho" to it too, but really, "O Saya" is gr8. Maya's rap on it is pretty typical of her, and it makes sense for her to be here, yeah? Where Slumdog succeeds it succeeds on the same levels as M.I.A., bright colors, quick cuts, multi-culturalism. However, where M.I.A. interacts with this the politics and consequences of this multi-culturalism, even if only at a superficial level, Slumdog stays completely away from them until the credits, and prefers old-fashioned melodrama to interrupt its brightly colored tornado of inner city life and game shows. "O Saya" definitely reminds me of the parts of Slumdog I enjoyed. (Sorry but I'm too uninvolved in this category to revise that and make it make sense).

Who will win?: On one hand Slumdog looks to roll through these Oscars and I hesitate to pick against it anywhere, but even with the Academy down to vote for it in any way possible, I still think that in a vote-splitting situation the classic Oscar-style "Down to Earth" takes it.

Who got snubbed?: Springsteen-gate is kind of odd, I think. Like, I think "the Wrestler" is a good movie song from a really good movie, but since when does anyone care so much about this stupid Oscar category? Whatever tho. I perused some of the other eligible selections, and while Matty McD faves Miley Cyrus, Jenny Lewis (both for Bolt), Regina Spektor (Narnia), and Beyonce(Cadillac Records) had eligible songs, here's a few other gems I found.

Danny Elfman, nominated this year for Milk's score, apparently did the theme song from Wanted, and it kind of kicks ass. Clint Eastwood's theme song for Gran Torino would possibly get us Clint growling on stage, so this is obviously a crime. Finally, Robin Hitchkock's "Up To Our Nex" makes it, if only as a prelude to all the righteous bitching I'm going to be doing in the next few days about Rachel Getting Married not getting enough love.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Alexandre Desplat
- Defiance - James Newton Howard
- Milk - Danny Elfman
- Slumdog Millionaire - A.R. Rahman
- WALL·E - Thomas Newman

Who should win?: Lemme be honest with you. Maybe I have a blind (aural) spot this year, but I don't remember a goddamn thing about any of these scores except for Mumbai Poop Party. And it was pretty dope. I'm sure WALL·E's was great too, cuz the first bit of that movie was dialogue-free and perfect, so I imagine the music had something to do with that. I don't care, to be honest.
Who will win?: Who Wants to be an Oscarionnaire?.
Who got snubbed?: Waltz With Bashir I really liked musically, but a lot of that was its use of non-diagetic music that wasn't original score or song, which really isn't covered in either of these categories but whatever. I no cares.

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

- The Dark Knight - Richard King (I)
- Iron Man - Frank E. Eulner; Christopher Boyes
- Slumdog Millionaire - Tom Sayers; Glenn Freemantle
- WALL·E - Ben Burtt; Matthew Wood (I)
- Wanted - Wylie Stateman

Who Should Win?: Now, as I understand it, Sound Editing is what happens until the moment that all the individual sounds are recorded and processed, and sound mixing is what comes afterward. That might be wrong, and I still might have no clue who should win this, whatever the fuck, man, let's live. Give it to Iron Man. It was loud.

Who Will Win?: I know, I know, picking against Poopdog Indionaire, but this one goes to loud action movies with metal smashing against metal. Fucking Pearl Harbor won in this category. So I'm picking the Dark Knight, a) because it's loud as shit, and b) because it's a big movie that many folks feel should be up for more stuff and could easily reward in this category.

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - David Parker; Michael Semanick; Ren Klyce; Mark Weingarten
- The Dark Knight - Lora Hirschberg; Gary Rizzo; Ed Novick
- Slumdog Millionaire - Ian Tapp; Richard Pryke; Resul Pookutty
- WALL·E - Tom Myers; Michael Semanick; Ben Burtt
- Wanted - Chris Jenkins; Frank A. Montaño; Petr Forejt

Who Should Win?: Yah, I dunno.

Who Will Win?: All the stuff I said about Sound Editing almost applies here, but they've thrown in some musicals (Chicago, Ray, Dreamgirls), in the past few years, and while City of Rama isn't quite a musical, there's enough of a combo of music and LOUD NOISES that I'll hedge my bets and go for the favorite. The Three Slumketeers ftw.

More categories we actually care about in the coming days.

dancing forever

222. Ricardo Villalobos - "Fizheuer Zieheuer pt. 1" (Playhouse, 2006)
223. Ricardo Villalobos - "Fizheuer Zieheuer pt. 2" (Playhouse, 2006)

What is there to say about "Fizheuer Zueheuer"? It starts out with this 2 bar sample from a Serbian orchestra. And then it loops that sample with some minor variation for a total of a little over 37 minutes. And there are the drums. And there is a horn part for a bit. And that's about it. Only, of course there's much, much more. Because this is probably the prime example of how creative, minimalist, huge, and wonderful Villalobos can be. How he is at the same time a figure always on the creative, avante-garde edge of techno and one that makes dancefloors freak out and lives purely for the party; one that says things like "Sometimes one finds oneself in a party and you simply can't leave."* This is the kind of stuff that got me on techno in the first place and tho I can easily zone out to it in my living room, I beg of you, Ricardo, just come and play the US already. Bush is gone. You can start at 8 and play for 8 hours and with the time zone difference between here and Berlin it'll feel like you're finishing up at noon anyways.

* from a Philip Sherburne interview with Villalobos in issue #282 of the Wire, August 2007.


Cinematography has always been one of my favorite categories at the Academy Awards. No, really. Ever since I saw Silence of the Lambs and decided that Tak Fujimoto was my favorite cinematographer. Half because I thought the movie was shot beautifully and half because I thought saying "Tak Fujimoto is my favorite cinematographer" made me sound really cool, and not like the pretentious 14 year old douchebag that I so clearly was. On that painfully humiliating note, here are the nominees for BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:

The Changeling - Tom Stern
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Claudio Miranda
The Dark Knight - Wally Pfister
The Reader - Chris Menges & Roger Deakins
Slumdog Millionaire - Anthony Dod Mantle

Who should win:
First and foremost, Roger Deakins WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK, MAN? Fargo, No Country For Old Men, House of Sand and Fog and even this years' Revolutionary Road were all beautifully photographed and even award worthy but The Reader? Granted, the cinematography was not the worst part of that disaster but Mr. Deakins' second credit of the year was for Doubt, for which he should probably never work again. I'm planning on sending my chiropractic bills to one Roger Deakins soon for the extreme neck craning I suffered through while Meryl Streep yelled about babyraping. So yeah, not The Reader. Also not Forrest Button because even though its one redeeming feature was that it was real pretty, it still sucked a flaming pile of dogshit, and we need to move on a pretend that it was never made. Not the changeling, although it did look gorgeous I'm pretty sure that was all Clint, so no award for you Tom Stern! UGH, SLUMDOG, WHATEVER, GO AWAY. So actually, I'm going to go with the visual orgasm of The Dark Knight. I was really starting to think that it was going to be the most overrated movie ever made, but then people chilled the fuck out, and I can once again step back, and give it what it deserves. This award. Not others ones. But yes, cinematography.

Who will win:

Who got snubbed:
Milk, Ballast, and most of all 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 (motherfucking)Days.

I have no funny stories about this category, knowing an art director's name would just make me a loser. Fuck. I just remembered Dante Ferretti was the production designer for Titus. Why am I writing this in a public forum?

And the nominees are...

The Changeling
The Curious Case of Why We Haven't Stopped Saying This Movie's Name Out Loud
The Dark Knight
The Duchess
Revolutionary Road

Who should win:
Duchess is a place you go to get french fries when you're stoned, not an Academy Award winning film, let's just get that straight, so no way on that one. And this is where I draw the line with Dark Knight soooo, yea, no. No to Buttonfuck, obvi, and Changeling was just I guess? Revolutionary? Road? Wow, I surprised myself there.

Who will win:
Slumdog? Ohhh, I don't know. I guess this is the category Button is taking. Oy.

Who was snubbed?
Milk, goddamnit.

OhmygodIdon'twanttowritethisohmygodohmygod FINE

The Curious Case of Mr. Button's Wonder Emporium
Iron Man
The Dark Knight

Should, Will:
Benji Sucks Butts. If it was all about the truck flipping scene in Dark Knight, I'd go for that, and Iron Man although great, wasn't really anything that spectacular. So fine. THEN WE WILL STOP TALKING ABOUT IT FOREVER.

Hellboy 2: The Golden Army. Del Toro 4 Lyfe, bitchez.

That was exhausting, see you tomorrow. Matt out.

Oscar Party Menu Suggestions

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Mushroom Quiche
Slum Dogs
Nixon/Frosties (vanilla, of course)
Hanna Schmitz Latkas (they're burned but it's ok cuz I'm illiterate)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


To break up the Oscar posts (I say this because I'm about to write another one), I thought I'd share a link. A link that makes me happy. Because I'm easily pleased.

Yep, that Tracy Chapman. Because a) her music really is pretty and b) her website is Paint by Numbers style, and provides hours of mindless entertainment.

Have fun.

Oscar Death Race pt. 4 (Making actors look pretty)

Today, two categories that, as usual, include a mix of the Big Oscar Movies and ones not nominated for anything. Clothes and make-up, let's go!

Best Achievement in Costume Design

- Australia - Catherine Martin
- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Jacqueline West
- The Duchess - Michael O'Connor
- Milk - Danny Glicker
- Revolutionary Road - Albert Wolsky

Who should win?: I haven't seen Australia or the Duchess, but from the trailers and stills I've seen, they are both very well dressed films. Some of Keira Knightley's dresses are damn spectacular as they were in last year's sadly only 1/3 good Atonement. Milk is notable for the fact that 70s movies don't normally get nominated for this thing, and it's nice to see that barrier broken. Benny Button, despite not being in my estimation a very good film overall is a gorgeous looking one, and that extends very much to the costuming. Rev Road I don't much care about in this category. I'd be fine with anything but that one winning, really, but I think Benny Butts gets my pick out of these; a movie that should be awarded for how it looks and nothing else.

Who will win?: Despite the fact that Australia's Catherine Martin and Rev Road's Albert Wolsky are the most decorated ones here and the fact that, well, they would give the gays the Costume Award, this one is between the Duchess and Benjamin Button. The former is pure, well done Best Costume bait, as the last two winners (Elizabeth the sequel and Marie Antoinette) have also featured wealthy, pre-1800 women. The latter features the costumes of the better part of a century, and I think its ambition in that might put it over the top despite it's lack of individual showy pieces. While in the last three years this award has gone to films that haven't been nominated for much else (the two mentioned above and Memoirs of a Geisha), in the rest of the decade it hasn't, so I don't think there's much to that as a trend. It'll be really close, but I'm giving this to the Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Who Got Snubbed?: The Fall, The Fall, The Fall. Nothing subtle about the costumes in this one, but man are they gorgeous, imaginative, and central to the film. I'll also rep for Speed Racer's garish neon reimagining of cartoon outfits. Coincidentally, the two came out on the same day in May.

Achievement in Makeup

- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Greg Cannom
- The Dark Knight, The - John Caglione Jr.; Conor O'Sullivan
- Hellboy II: The Golden Army - Mike Elizalde; Thomas Floutz

Who Should Win?: The fact that a movie such as Hellboy is even nominated here makes me so happy that of course I'm going to pick it. Some of the creatures in here are awesome. Dark Knight of course gets mad points for the Joker's make up, which helps St. Ledger deliver that great performance. Benji I'm not sure about, as I really liked the CGI but thought some of the make-up, especially Daisy as an old lady, was kinda eh. At least the Reader didn't get nominated here.

Who Will Win?: Some folks thought Benji might have trouble in this category because of the amount of CGI used, but I think they like it enough to nominate it, they'll like it enough to pick it ahead of Batman and Hellboy. Benji Button to take it.

Who Got Snubbed?: Tropic Thunder for Bobby Downey Jr's face, hair, and eyes. Synecdoche, NY for, among other things, its old person makeup, which is considerably better than that of Benji Button and Winslet Holocaust.

I've never felt so strong

224. Saint Etienne - "Nothing Can Stop Us" (Heavenly, 1991)

I know that songs get assigned seasons and this song is most definitely a summer song, so let's cast off the stifling chains of climate and pretend that summer is finally here, flowers are in bloom, short shorts are in effect, and we are walking through the city not in a cold shiver but with our arms spread wide so as to take in as much sun as possible. What better anthem for this fantasy than Saint Etienne's endlessly optimistic 1991 celebration of young love. We're all gonna be a-ok.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Oscar Death Race pt. 3 (Foreigners and Docs)

So I haven't seen most of these movies. So what. We're rollin rollin rollin.

Best Documentary Feature

- The Betrayal - Nerakhoon - dir. Ellen Kuras; Thavisouk Phrasavath
- Encounters at the End of the World - dir. Werner Herzog
- The Garden - dir. Scott Hamilton Kennedy
- Man on Wire - dir. James Marsh
- Trouble the Water - dir. Tia Lessin; Carl Deal

Who should/will win?: I've only been lucky enough to enjoy two of these, neither of which is Trouble the Water a movie that I could see taking this based purely on subject matter, though it's been getting pretty great reviews as well. Betrayal and The Garden I don't expect will mount much of an effort here, and neither will Werner Herzog's Antarctica exploration Encounters at the End of the World, which was fun in parts and pretty hilariously narrated, but didn't really pull me in all the way. So that leaves us with Trouble the Water and Man on Wire, which has been winning enough awards for me to pick it here. It doesn't hurt that it's about the World Trade Center (though not explicitly about 9/11) and that it's pretty great. I've seen it twice now, and it manages to inspire a sense of awe as well as any other movie this year.

What got snubbed?: My favorite doc of 08 was Margaret Brown's the Order of Myths, about Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama, the oldest Mardi Gras celebration in the country. It's the best and most incisive thing I've seen about race in a while. It's available for instant viewing on Netflix so get to your Instant Queue/Roku immediately.

Best Documentary, Short Subject

- The Conscience of Nhem En - dir. Steven Okazaki
- The Final Inch - dir. Irene Taylor Brodsky
- Smile Pinki - dir. Megan Mylan
- The Witness from the Balcony of Room 306 - dir. Adam Pertofsky

Yeah, I got nothin'. Matty's seen the Final Inch. He says "It was about Polio". I'm picking The Conscience of Nhem En, which is about the Khmer Rouge. Why not?

Best Foreign Language Film

- The Baader Meinhof Komplex (Germany) - dir. Uli Edel
- Entre les murs (the Class) (France) - dir. Laurent Cantet
- Okuribito (Departures) (Japan) - dir. Yojiro Takita
- Revanche (Austria) - dir. Götz Spielmann
- Vals Im Bashir (Waltz With Bashir) (Israel) - dir. Ari Folman

The process behind this category is terrible, as countries around the world are forced to choose one film to submit the competition. So while the IndieWire poll's top 2 (Flight of the Red Balloon and A Christmas Tale) would prolly get nominated in an open field, they're shucked here in favor of the Class, which I saw today at Angelika and was pretty impressed with.

It's a movie about a teacher that doesn't suck! This in itself is quite an achievement. And though it does resort to kind of having a bit of plot for about 20 minutes towards the end, it's a fairly realist, matter-of-fact account life at a Paris school. The lead part is actually played by François Bégaudeau, who wrote the screenplay based on his semi-autobiographical book. This is the kind of conceit that I eat up with a large spoon (ideally out of a bread bowl of some sort). The kids are played by non-actors too. It's all very complex and good about language and education and failure and I love it so.

Waltz With Bashir is also quite fun and has a shot here, but I think the Palme d'or winner is gon bring it back to France. The Class it is.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


The category of Film Editing is oft overlooked by Oscar watchers. While it's true, the names aren't recognizable, and who cares what they're wearing, the editing of a feature film truly determines its watchability. Take last year's winner, for example, The Bourne Ultimatum. Its fast cut, multi-directional action sequences were edited perfectly so that they matched the tone and pace of the rest of the movie. Without that style of editing, it would have been a different film entirely (although Damon would have totally still killed a dude with a book, which still would have been sweet). The fun thing about this award at the Oscars is that the favorite film doesn't have to take it all. Yes, sometimes the winner of this category coincides with the Best Picture winner (usually terrible winners such as Crash, The English Patient, Forrest Gump) but often the film that wins this category isn't even nominated for bigger prizes (The Matrix, Star Wars, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?). Let's take a look at this years incredibly disappointing nominees in the worst year for film in the history of celluloid:

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Kirk Baxter & Angus Wall
HAHA, wait no. You're not serious right? I can think of more than forty minutes off the top of my head that could have been edited out. Like all that old timey lightning shit. And the parts in New Orleans. Angus Wall is David Fincher's go to editor, so I'm surprised Wall isn't close enough with the director to have said "Hey David, this movie is a steaming pile of shit, hows about I cut some of it out for you?" And beyond the fact that I hate it, its odds of winning this category are slim, the backlash is strong for this "movie."

The Dark Knight - Lee Smith
This dude is Christopher Nolan's editor and Jane Campion's sound designer, so I'd be down for a win for this one. Plus, the Academy often recognizes achievements by action movies in this category, and this was the mother of all critically acclaimed action movies. I don't think this will pull it off in the end, but it could. It'll be close.

Frost/Nixon - Daniel P Hill & Mike Hill
I don't know how hard it is to edit a film to look like a documentary about a documentary, but they, uh, sure did it. So....good? No? Yeah whatever, no chance.

Milk - Elliot Graham & Gus Van Sant
Yes please. The editing here made the audience feel the movie was set in a certain place at a certain time without resorting to idiot time period referencing tactics (a la Forrest Button), and its tense pacing helped set the tone for the film. Winner. But probably not.

Slumdog Millionaire - Chris Dickens
I still haven't seen this. Get off my back. Maybe if you people didn't talk about how fucking awesome and inspiring this movie was all the goddamn time I'd be interested in seeing it.

Oh but yea, that'll win. F'sure.

Friday, February 13, 2009


In between the Grammys (HA! Like they matter) and the Oscars (HA...Ok, I kind of care) is the World Press Photo of the Year award, as I'm sure everyone already knows. Now, I'm not sure how many people outside the world of photography care about this, but it's important, and you should, so pay attention damnit. (Also, I'm not sure how long these copyrightinfringy photos will stay up here, so pay attention soon). And the winner of the World Press Photo of the Year is....Anthony Suau (yaay, applause, applause) for a photo from his series on home foreclosures in Cleaveland.

His whole series took second place in the "Daily Life" category. Congrats to Mr. Suau, who Gawker tells me is looking for a job. Lotss of luck, pal, you photographed the economy, are you really surprised? Although I like this story, part of me thinks it won top prize because it's the only series of photographs about the economy that 1) is good (it is good), and 2) includes someone holding a gun but yet is still about the boring, boring snoozfest sleepersville economy story.

Next up, we have a photo from Greek photographer Yannis Kolesidis, who won second prize for "People in the News" with this subtle but astounding photograph from an anti-government protest in Athens last December:

In sports, although it placed third, my favorite series was Paolo Verzone's story on the Union of European Football Association prez Michael Platini:

My OMGLOLZ moment goes to Roger Cremers' story on visitors to the memorial at Auschwitz-Birkenau winning first prize in the Arts? And Entertainment? Category?

Also: meh.

If I had to pick a favorite out of them, I would say either Pep Bonet's piece on transsexual sex workers in Honduras, or Johan Bävman's series of albinos in Tanzania who, if you didn't already know, are being hunted and killed for parts of their bodies, which some people think have magical properties.

So enjoy this for the next 30 seconds until someone pulls it off the interwebs, and then head over here to see the full gallery of winners.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Oscar Death Race pt. 1 (shorts!)

It's that time of year again. Harvey Weinstein is clawing at things. Kate Winslet's left eyebrow is twitching in anticipation. Meryl Streep barely gives a shit anymore. It's Oscar Time! In less than 250 hours we will be witness to Hugh Jackman (still wtf) prancing around the stage and maybe/maybe not attempting a comedic monologue but surely embarrassing himself and his unnominated country in some way. And we here at YMD will be your guides to each and every category, telling you what should win, what will win, and what sucks ass. Look no further, it's:

I'm sure the other YMD folk, especially one Matty McD, who made this graphic and is prolly more obsessed with the Oscars than I am, will have their say in following posts, but seeing as I've actually seen the (non-documentary) shorts, I'll handle this one. That's right, for the first time in my life, I've actually seen the nominated shorts, thanks to the fine folks at IFC theatre (where they have apparently shattered the single screen weekend record!). It was a great experience, and it's nice to see that at least two Oscar categories consider domestic and foreign films on the same level. A few of the films were great, none of them were boring, and you'll be able to cop all of them at the iTunes store next Tuesday. Anyways, here we goes.

Best Live Action Short Film

- Auf der Strecke (On the Line) - dir. Reto Caffi
- Grisen (the Pig) - dir. Dorthe Warnø Høgh
- Manon sur le bitume (Manon on the Asphalt) - dir. Elizabeth Marre; Olivier Pont
- New Boy - dir. Steph Green
- Spielzeugland (Toyland) - dir. Jochen Alexander Freydank

Who Should Win?: I enjoyed all of these to different extents, but my favorites were the shamelessly tearjerking Manon sur le bitume, about a young woman dying after an accident and thinking about her friends' reactions to her death, and New Boy, about an African immigrant 4th grader on his first day of class. I think I'd take the latter, a smart and moving little film which doles out harsh reality and hope in equal measure.

Who Will Win?: Listen, Toyland is about the Holocaust. And while the Holocaust movie might not always win in reality, it's a pretty decent bet in a category with as little hype as this one. For what it's worth, it's actually pretty good and at least interestingly plotted, though the premise (a German mother tells her child that the Jews are being taken away to "Toyland") is at times as silly as it sounds. The Pig might have a shot here, as the Academy enjoys quirky old people from time to time, but I'd sleep better with money on Toyland.

Best Animated Short Film

- Maison en petits cubes, La - dir. Kunio Katô
- Oktapodi - dir. Emud Mokhberi; Thierry Marchand
- Presto - dir. Doug Sweetland
- This Way Up -dir. Alan Smith; Adam Foulkes
- Ubornaya istoriya - lyubovnaya istoriya (Lavatory, Lovestory) - dir. Konstantin Bronzit

Who Should Win?: I absolutely loved This Way Up, a dark British short about two funeral home workers trying to move a casket across some less than ideal terrain. It's morbid, it's hilarious, and it is strong with the HooDoo.

Who Will Win?: Presto is a Pixar joint, and everybody loves Pixar. Also, it looks great and is really funny. But keep in mind this award isn't voted for by the whole Academy, but rather by a committee who has to have seen all of the films, and I wouldn't be surprised to see one of the whimsically hand drawn entries, specifically Maison en petits cubes, La, about a man swimming through his sunken house (and about the compartmentalization of memory) to get the win. So I'm picking the French film just ahead of the Pixar.

That's part one of several. Wot do yall think? Holler holler holler.


Harry, Harry, Harry. You dress up as a Nazi, you snort vodka, you expose yourself in public, and now with the racist remarks. Oh, the stories are too boring to fully repeat. In one instance he made fun of one of his fellow soldiers for being Pakistani, and in another confusing exchange he made a joke about a black Oh, and then he called a man wearing a turban a "raghead."

Well His Royal Highness Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales, we here at YMD do not approve of your behavior, and would like to remind you that you're an inbred, gap-toothed, wonkey eyed ginger. People respect the monarchy less and less every year, but no one respects a firecrotch with a lazy eye.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

She is moving to describe the world

225. Talking Heads - "The Great Curve" (from the Remain in Light LP, Sire, 1980)

Well, obviously, right. This maybe isn't the best song on Remain in Light, I dunno, but today let's say it is. The polyrhythmic magic cranked up on this greatest of 20th century albums is cranked up way past Carl Lewis speed here, and we get a song that can barely seem to keep up with itself. I'm listening to it currently with the deep, held bass note on every 1 being a gigantic wave of some kind of (un)holy power and the hand drums as our adventurers, trying desperately to either (or both) catch up to it or escape from it and being on the verge of success before it gets closer/further away every four beats.

The rhythm section isn't the only thing going crazy, of course. The vocal parts are many and wonderful, the solos are thrilling, and the lyrics are about language (or explicitly about language, I should say, all lyrics are about language in some way, obvi). And our protagonist is trying to define the world and reveal the light, because she doesn't know that night must fall eventually, but her struggle is our struggle and the struggle of the polyrhythms, so we sympathize and dance. Yay!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Worst song of the year nominee one

There's a video for this now and I'm not embedding it. This will be an A**** R*** free zone. I'm so happy this didn't come out when I was in college.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

And flying is fearful of me!

226. Mclusky - "Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues" (Too Pure, 2001)

Mclusky is the rock band of the 00s, for me. No one had better lyrics, no one rocked as hard, no one had better song titles, no one was even close. This is the opening salvo to their masterpiece Mclusky Do Dallas and is, I think, a pretty wonderful introduction to the humor and riffage that make them the best. The lyrics are a bunch of more or less unrelated images, but they're all great, and even greater as delivered by Andy Falkous. And then the third verse is same as the first but barreling completely off the tracks. The ending sounds like the band is rushing it because they can't possibly keep it up for another few seconds. Get everything this band ever put out.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

You get me where I'm going

227. Aaliyah - "Rock the Boat" (Virgin Records America, 2001)

Aaliyah's singing is marvel for us to behold for all eternity. She didn't have Aretha's infinite depth or Mariah's fireworks but who else could get across as much personality singing at the near-whisper with which Aaliyah sings "Rock the Boat". Even without the video and lyrics, I can't imagine a reaction to this song that doesn't involve instant, rhythmic movement, pelvic or otherwise. I always kinda wanted to slow down a set and play this during a dance party put I never did, maybe secretly I did have some fear that people actually fucking (sorry, actually prolly making sweet tender love) on the dance floor (that was often my living room) might not end well.

Look right

So a new feature here at YMD, given how we mostly post about old songs but there is a bunch of new music I'm mad excited about, I'ma try to install this imeem playlist of new hot shit, on the sidebar. It'll be updated every month or two with new hotness and hopefully some folks will find enjoyable new-ish jams to jam to.

This first playlist is basically my favorite stuff of late 2008/2009 so far, and it starts with the previously mentioned Fever Ray, aka Karin from the Knife. It's a wonderful dirge, and the production on the vocals (both the typically Knifey parts and the parts on which you can here her mouth clicking) puts it over the top.

Next we have my new fave Taylor Swift, who is apparently playing NYC in August. Lord willing, I will be there. "Forever & Always" is one of my favorite songs from her 2008 album Fearless and is apparently about Taylor's breakup with Joe Jonas. Her and Miley are performing together at the Grammys this weekend, and if they do this song I can see the Jonas Brothers exploding, which, though I have nothing against them, would be hilarious.

Lily Allen's #1 UK single is called "the Fear" and is quite excellent. I'm mixed (but edging towards positive) about Lily's ultra self-aware reflections on celebrity, but the song is gorgeous.

Then there are selections off of new records from two of my freshman year faves, Franz Ferdinand and the Junior Boys. The Franz is nothing new for them, but really fun. The JBeez is a lovely, fairly minimalistic little electro-soul number, and this wonderful, gentle saxophone appears for a bit, and everyone (except the people who will hate it) is happy.

That is followed by a Lindstrom remix of Boredoms, from the excellent and unexpected new Super Roots 10. It's wondrous, maximalistic disco overload, that makes Boredoms and Lindstrom seem like a completely natural pairing.

Then comes the R&B section. The-Dream put out one of last winter's best records, and "Rockin That Thang" will hopefully launch his new record to greater commercial success. The man has a way with vocal harmonies. There are two tracks from the bangin R&B Kings 2009 Volume 2 mixtape (automatic audio watch on that link). I'm as surprised as you that my second favorite track on it is a Jagged Edge song produced by Jermaine Dupri, but it's smooth as hell and I hope it's a single. Ciara and Chris Brown's "Turntables" is the best though, an unstoppable, 200mph dance track that better be huge by the end of the year. Also in R&B land, Cassie producer Ryan Leslie's album is finally coming out and it closes with the hilarious and gorgeous "Gibberish". Listen for yourself.

We close with "I Am Speaking Through Barbara" by the Fun Years, my favorite track from Kompakt's Pop Ambient 2009 comp. We don't listen to a whole lot of ambient here at 2009, but this track is straight gorgeous.

Hope these serve yall well in the winter. Holler.

Monday, February 2, 2009


228. Boredoms - "Acid Police" (from the Chocolate Synthesizer LP, Reprise Records, 1994)