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I'm a certifiable culture junkie. I enjoy reading, writing, music, movies, and television.

I'm an aspiring member of the bourgeoisie.

I enjoy a good argument. I enjoy beer. I often enjoy the two together.

I value knowledge, friendship, and an unfaltering commitment to making the world a better place.

The Best Movies of 2013

I’m going to try and avoid weighing in on on the assertion that 2013 has been an exceptional year for film, largely because I often find I can’t have a suitable perspective on the year until the next year has nearly concluded. I often find that there are so many great films which fly under the radar and go unseen by me until many months after I’ve compiled this list. As of the time of publication, I have yet to see one of the films often cited as one of the year’s best- Spike Jonze’s, “Her.” I have also missed many foreign films and very small independent films. I also often find myself making a separate list for documentaries, as I judge them by a separate rubric.

Also, I’ve made another decision to arbitrarily choose 15 films as my favorites with an unordered  list of honorable mentions. I’m not sure why I’ve chosen to do it this way and have little intellectual justification for doing so.

Despite it’s posturing and prosaic nature, I still find it necessary for me to weigh in on the year’s best films, albums, tv shows, etc. It’s a fun exercise for me and I love highlighting the year’s best work. So, without further ado:

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7 months ago
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Most of my #books and #movies. I never feel at home without them, so my official move to Charlotte will be complete after these are unpacked!

Most of my #books and #movies. I never feel at home without them, so my official move to Charlotte will be complete after these are unpacked!

1 year ago
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Favorite Movies of 2010, Thus Far

Well, we’re halfway through the year. At about this time every year, I like to look back and look ahead. What follows is a list of my favorite movies of 2010 as of July 3rd. Naturally, there are a few movies I haven’t seen yet that have already gotten a theatrical release. Also, there are plenty of movies that have yet to come out. 

1. Dogtooth

2. Exit Through the Gift Shop

3. Secret in Their Eyes

4. Terribly Happy 

5. Winter’s Bone

6. Mic Macs

7. Mother

8. Trash Humpers

9. The Loved Ones

10. The Square

Runners Up: Shutter Island, Centurion, How to Train Your Dragon

Well, that list hasn’t changed all that much since my last one. SECRET IN THEIR EYES surprised me quite a bit, as I didn’t expect it to earn such a high spot. I’m also not sure on where MOTHER goes. If it goes anywhere, it’d move upward to #6 or #5. DOGTOOTH and EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP are fighting it out for my #1 spot. Both warrant a rewatch and much introspection. 

As a side note, 7 of these 10 movies are foreign. Even more interesting is the glaring lack of a wide release film on this list. 2010 has been disastrous for Hollywood movies; the best of which being SPLICE, probably. SHUTTER ISLAND and TOY STORY 3 weren’t bad either.

Here’s a list of what I’m looking forward to the most:

1. True Grit

2. The Social Network

3. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

4.  Rec 2

5. Inception

6. Get Low

7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

8. Tron Legacy

9. The American

10.  The Adjustment Bureau

4 years ago
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7 Days as a Cinephile: Week 1

1. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

  • Directed by Wes Anderson
  • Starring George Clooney, Merryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman
  • 5th Viewing

This film holds up incredibly well. After my first viewing, I wasn’t exactly sure where I stood. Looking back, I guess I just wasn’t ready for it. I walked out of the theater sort of bewildered, trying to figure out who the intended audience was for this movie. It certainly wasn’t children, as it’s major theme is that of a Fox going through a mid life crisis. And though I’m not going through a mid-life crisis myself, nor am I a vulpes-vulpes, I can’t find anything to dislike about this movie. 

There are a few scenes that I don’t quite comprehend. While I fully admit that I don’t understand them, I’d argue til my dying breath that they have a purpose. I’m specifically referring to the scene near the end of the film with the wolf, which still puzzles me. It’s both poignant and comic, which makes it one of the most interesting in the movie. I’ve shared this movie with new friends each time and I’ve yet to find someone that doesn’t love it. Endlessly quotable, always relatable, and a damn fine time with friends.

2. LOST: Episode 16, Season 6

  • Directed by Paul Edwards
  • Starring Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lily
  • Original Airdate: May 18, 2010
  • First Viewing

Well, the penultimate episode of LOST has come and gone. This series has been one hell of a ride, and I will definitely be writing up a series recap (potential podcast as well) after the series finale on Sunday. However, this episode resonated with me for several reasons.

LOST SPOILERS FOR SEASON 6!

First of all, we’re beginning to get closure. Jacob’s explanation basically just laid out what we’d been guessing at for the entire season. Jacob needs someone to take over for him as the island’s protector and he’s spent his entire life searching for someone. He had his lighthouse where he sought out these individuals and gradually crossed off their names in a cave as they deemed themselves unworthy or died off. 

Second, Jack stepped up. From the beginning of the show, Jack has been a central focus. Now, this is first and foremost an ensemble show. You’ve had a large cast of critical characters, each playing their important roles. However, Jack has always been the fulcrum, the catalyst. We began the series with him, with his eye, opening in the jungle. Season 2 was a battle between him and John Locke between science and faith. Season 3 was him coping with the threat of the Others. Season 4 dealt with the decisions of the freighter folk and leaving the island. Season 5 was returning to the Island and undoing everything that had ever been done. And Season 6 has been spent returning Jack to his rightful place- protector, fixer, leader.

3. Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

  • Directed by Banksy
  • Documentary
  • First Viewing

This years has already been replete with thought provoking films. DOGTOOTH currently sits atop my best of the year, mostly due to its intellectual stimulation. EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT shop kept me thinking in the same way; it brought up questions regarding the nature of art itself. Our society currently exists in a world based on consumption, which drastically alters the purpose, reception, and creation of art.

This movie hasn’t left my mind, so expect a long post about it later.

4. Casino Jack and the United States of Money (2010)

  • Directed by Alex Gibney
  • Documentary
  • First Viewing

A pretty standard documentary. I did a double feature of this and the aforementioned EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP, which probably lessened the impact of CASINO JACK. However, it’s a pretty strong documentary. It tells, in depth, the story of Jack Abramoff. Abramoff was America’s most infamous lobbyist, whose ties ranged from Indian tribes to the President of the United States. However, he fell from grace after a massive scandal involving embezzlement and fraud. 

If you aren’t too familiar with Abramoff and his story, there are large parts of this that might be over your head. There a lot of names, a lot of dates, and a large cast of players that are given in rapid fire fashion which could easily fly by with little comprehension from the unaware viewer. Just like that last sentence, I suppose.

However, I really liked it in the end. It appealed to my insatiable hunger for political controversy.  

5. LOST Series Finale

  • Directed by Jack Bender
  • Starring Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lily
  • Original Airdate: May 23, 2010
  • First Viewing

I couldn’t possibly compress my thoughts into something worth reading here. Definitely a longer post about it later. The TL;DR version?

I liked it, with reservations. 

4 years ago
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My Year in Movies: 2013

Below is a listing, chronologically, of the 2013 new release movies I watched. I will continue adding to this list as I finish catching up on all the 2013 releases I’ve missed. For example, I’ve yet to see Spike Jonze’s “Her,” in addition to several foreign films or extremely limited release films which have stayed away from US cinemas for the time being. 

My final “Top 10ish Films of 2013” should be completed soon as well.

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7 months ago
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Double feature with @kgduff #movies #date (Taken with Instagram)

Double feature with @kgduff #movies #date (Taken with Instagram)

2 years ago
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7 Days as a Cinephile: Week 2

1. Prince of Persia (2010)

  • Directed by Mike Newell
  • Starring Jake Gyllenhall and Ben Kingsley
  • First Time Watch

The epitome of summer popcorn fluff rears its distinct visage with PRINCE OF PERSIA. Here, we’re served up some of the most unbelievable action in recent memory with relatively shoddy dialogue. However, there’s enough humor mixed in and some fun plot points that kept me along for the ride. Even if barely so. 

2. Hot Rod (2007)

  • Directed by Akiva Schaffer
  • Starring Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Bill Hader
  • Nth Time Watch

HOT ROD was the movie of my Freshman year. We watched this movie countless times; anytime we couldn’t think of something to do that night, our default backup was HOT ROD. Out of any movie, I could probably quote HOT ROD ver batim the closest. Samberg is hilarious, as is the entire supporting cast. Isla Fisher is beyond gorgeous and nails her role as “the girl next door.” The sketch comedy nature of the movie could easily turn some people off, as it plays out like a 90 minute string of SNL Digital Shorts.

It’s one of those, “I hear what you’re saying, but I don’t care,” movies. I love it so much, as I’m guaranteed laughs each time I watch it.

3. Splice (2010)

  • Directed by Vincenzo Natali
  • Starring Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley
  • First Time Watch

I saw this movie in the middle of the day, by myself, on an extended lunch break. I walked up to the ticket counter, unsure of whether I should see SPLICE or GET HIM TO THE GREEK. I’d heard mixed things about each, but both movies had been on my radar for quite some time. So, it came down to a coin film and SPLICE was victorious.

In retrospect, I’m glad I saw what I did. SPLICE is a movie that you don’t often see at your local megaplex. It’s a different breed all together, wrought with questions and postulations, ideas and metaphor. SPLICE is a movie about a team of scientists that create artificial life which, naturally, spins out of control as the creature evolves.

SPLICE has some lofty ideas. It’s touching on a grandiose existential question- When does man become God? Throughout the film, there are narrative allusions to Genesis. Elsa, Sarah Polley’s character, is the proverbial Eve who sets the couple down their path when she makes the bold decision to insert human DNA into the creature. She convinces Clive, Adrien Brody’s character, to stick with her. She begs the question, “What’s the worst that could go wrong?”

Well, it’s a long list of unfortunate events which Freud would have a field day with. In short, see SPLICE. It’s worth it, even if you don’t like the film, as it supports movies that break the mold.

4. Cropsey (2010)

  • Documentary
  • Directed by Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio
  • First Time Watch

Documentaries rarely have this sort of narrative pull. EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP, which I just recently saw, has a similar narrative pull which anchors the viewer in reality rather than fiction. CROPSEY is a doc about a serial killer on Staten Island who may or may not have been responsible for the deaths of several mentally disabled children in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

Check out my full review here.

5. Gone Baby Gone (2007)

  • Directed by Ben Affleck
  • Starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Amy Ryan, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris
  • First Time Watch

When the credits started rolling in this movie, I let out a massive breath. It felt as though I hadn’t been breathing for a solid two hours. This movie was beyond incredible. It cements 2007 as the best year of the last decade for movies, with THERE WILL BE BLOOD, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN and this as American classics, as well as 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, 2 DAYS as the foreign gem. 

Not only does the film feature some of the best acting I’ve seen recently, especially from Affleck and Amy Ryan, the narrative packs a punch that is unimaginable. The story moves along at a decent clip as Affleck and Monaghan investigate the disappearance of a young girl. However, there is a false peak at the half way point in the film. It would appear that the resolution is within reach when a proverbial ten ton hammer comes in and destroys your expectations.

The film’s conclusion is easily one of the most thought provoking I’ve seen in a few weeks. It makes the moral dilemma in THE BOX look like Candyland. Seriously- watch this movie. Enjoy it. I absolutely loved it.

4 years ago
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This CGI bullshit is the death knell of cinema. If I’d wanted all that computer game bullshit, I’d have stuck my dick in a Nintendo.
Quentin Tarantino
4 years ago
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