Archive for December, 2007

Subversive Cinema: Tops of 2007

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

Here are my personal favorites from 2007. I’m only including films I saw screened on film (and of course I couldn’t see everything).

So here we go (in no particular order):

No Country For Old Men, Cohen Brothers – I mean, you just can’t go wrong with the Cohen brothers…

I’m Not There, Todd Haynes / Control, Anton Corbijn – “I’m Not There” was a radical departure from the banality of the biopic genre. After seeing it, I can’t imagine a Bob Dylan biopic done any other way. “Control” was a great looking (in B&W with tints) film about Ian Curtis of Joy Division. Anton Corbijn has made some great music videos (including my favorite, Nirvana’s Heart Shaped Box), so I was glad to see him move into the world of the cinema.

Superbad, Greg Mottola / Knocked-Up, Judd Apatow – Finally Judd Apatow is getting the respect he deserves. He teamed up with Seth Rogen for both of these and we got the best comedies of the year. Looking forward to more Apatow efforts…

Flanders, Bruno Dumont – Technically this film came out in 2006 (it won the Grand Prix at Cannes) but it didn’t reach me in the theater until this year. This film deals with the horrors of modern middle eastern warfare better than any film I’ve seen [besides Battle of Algiers (1966)].

Into Great Silence, Phillip Groning – This film also came out some time ago but didn’t get a small theatrical release until this year. It is an experience. Sitting in a cold, quiet, darkened theatre for 162 minutes puts you near the carthusian monks the film documents.

Killer of Sheep, Charles Burnett – Well this film is actually from 1978, but we finally saw it released theatrically this year. A classic.

Manufactured Landscapes, Jennifer Baichwal – This film showcases the power of Edward Burtynsky’s photography. Stunningly beautiful portraits of disturbingly huge Asian industrial structures. The 10 minute tracking shot of an factory floor is perhaps one of my favorite movie openings.

New Maps of the New World: The Short Films of Roger Beebe, Roger Beebe – This was my favorite experimental showcase of the year. His Fall tour gave me some hope for the touring experimental filmmaker.

The Bothersome Man, Jens Lien – This film is basically “Groundhog’s Day” for the 2000s. A great subversive look at modern corporate culture.

In The Shadow of the Moon, David Sington – This was a documentary about NASA missions to the moon with interviews with the astronauts who went there. Being a simple look at this remarkable feat, I’m surprised no one had attempted to document this before.

Grindhouse, Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez – It seems everyone was “too cool” to put this on their lists. I preferred Rodriguez’s to Tarantino’s. I enjoyed the idea of bringing the double feature grindhouse experience to the theaters again. I’m also sad that it will never be released that way again (the DVDs are the seperate full length cuts of the movies). And while it wasn’t the strongest film of the year, I had more intense film debates about this movie than any other this year. Everyone seems to have their own opinion…

Transformers, Michael Bay – Actually the worst film I saw this year. Buried not so deeply within, it wraps all the current excesses of America into one two and a half hour Michael Bay epic.

On to 2008….


Happy Holidays (Representin’)

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

From the Suher family to your family. Listen to KWUR.

Overlooked albums: The Narrator

Monday, December 24th, 2007

“SurfJew” is one of the best songs of the year. Better than anything off Strawberry Jam, and Neon Bible, and Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?. It is the lead single off of The Narrator’s sophomore album, All That to the Wall. This album was overlooked for two main reasons. First, it was released around the same time as the new albums from Kings of Leon, Arctic Monkeys, Voxtrot, and the National. And second, it sounds a lot like a raw version of Pavement. It’s safe to say that All That to the Wall isn’t as good as an album like Slanted and Enchanted, but the album is still criminally underappreciated. The rawness is enchanting, especially when some albums are so overproduced (I’m looking at you, Voxtrot). But the album is produced just enough to bring out how insanely catchy the songs are, and there’s a real honest quality to it also. Come on, how can you not like a song about a black hole bar mitzvah?

The Billiken Club > The Gargoyle

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

For anyone who hasn’t read the comments to my Shooting Spires post, Shooting Spires will be playing at the Billiken Club on February 18 with Health. Also at the Billiken Club: So Many Dynamos on January 25. I won’t be able to go to that, so everyone who will be in St. Louis then should go and represent KWUR because that will be an awesome show, no doubt about it. The Billiken Club: like the Gargoyle, but good!

And Stereogum has released their 2008 preview. The albums I’m most looking forward to on that list are Los Campesinos!, Wolf Parade, and most of all, Pattern Is Movement. Apparently, Stereogum has heard the new Pattern Is Movement, entitled All Together, and thinks its “so good.” I’ve been told that it’s amazing by the one person I know who has heard it, and the single that Home Tapes put out, Right Away b/w Korea, is pretty damn good. When Pattern Is Movement takes over the world, I just hope they’re merciful rulers.

One album that isn’t on Stereogum’s radar is the new one from Time Again called Darker Days. Time Again is one of the best new punk bands out there, and Darker Days might help reclaim punk from the likes of Fall Out Boy. Anyone who likes punk should definitely check it out. I think it comes out in January, but thanks to this little series of tubes, it’s already available for your listening pleasure.

Watch out for another overlooked album post, coming tonight or tomorrow (or as soon as I get around to it).

Overlooked albums: Shooting Spires

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

I’m going to start a little mini-series with albums that didn’t receive nearly enough attention this past year. The first selection is Shooting Spires’ self-titled debut. Shooting Spires is BJ Warshaw of the ready-to-explode Brooklyn band Parts & Labor. There were lots of cryptic, noisy, and just plain weird bands that made big names for themselves this year like Health and Clipd Beaks, and most notably, Animal Collective. Shooting Spires shares a lot of the same terrain as those bands, but trades some of the weirdness in for anthemic melodies. The noise is all still there, mainly in the electronic elements, but for those of us who are still suckers for pop songs, it’s catchy enough to warrant repeat listenings. Shooting Spires is an engrossing debut, and one of the better albums of 2007.