Friday, January 01, 2016

New Year memo

Happy new year once again to all of you, and best wishes as usual. Hope you had a good holiday season and are ready for the shit ahead in the coming year, as we all must be. Yes, I am talking about politics and Republicans, but not exclusively. I lost my cat Annabelle most unexpectedly this year—came home from an errand and found her dead, and she was only 6. You can't know when these things will happen. Then I got a wonderful new cat (GG, pictured), but with her came transition problems: fleas, and personality conflicts with my older cat Charlie. Same old shit, in other words, though I'm happy to have her and sorry to say goodbye to Annabelle with 2015. And now some notes about this blog (reminder: comments always welcome, particularly now when I understand Blogger makes it difficult to post them sometimes ... I appreciate the efforts at least as much as the comments ... thank you!).

A book: Among other things, I spent much of the last year putting together a collection of pieces, mostly from this blog but some older things as well. I will be making it available as an on-demand trade paperback and in e-book format too. More information on that to come. It was nice to take the break from blog writing, even though it was daunting to read through the archives. But I found I came out of it wanting more than ever to stay with the writing projects I keep burping up here. So look for more of the same in the coming year: Friday movies, and Sunday books, and I'm planning to return to albums on Saturdays, with reviews of more recent releases (as well as the odd oldies that distract me). And other things as they occur to me, or to you too, as I'm still entertaining requests.

Stories: This past fall I read a lot of short stories, which I always find elusive to keep up with, for many different reasons, good and bad. I decided to systematically go through three anthologies I'd read before and knew were full of good ones. The first is Short Story Masterpieces, edited by Robert Penn Warren and Albert Erskine and published in 1954. The second is American Short Story Masterpieces, edited by Raymond Carver and Tom Jenks and published in 1987, a self-conscious response to the first. The third is The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories, edited by Tobias Wolff, dedicated to Raymond Carver, published in 1993, and with a few duplications from the second book. Together they present a broad if incomplete review of the story across the 20th century, mostly but not exclusively in the US. I'll be going through them story by story, with short reviews, on last Sundays of the month, and will try to provide links to online versions when I can so you can read along too. It's another project that's going to take awhile.

A list: From time to time, I get exasperated with the project of year-end lists and resist them, which I guess has been going on the past few years. To overcompensate, here's a list of 55 movies I've seen since January 2013 and not reviewed that I think are worth seeing, old and new. I tried to rank them by most enjoyable and/or impressive experience but I can only do so much with these lists. They are all at least three and a half or four stars, 8 / 10, and/or A-, depending on the rating scale you're most comfortable with.

1. There Was a Father (Yasujiro Ozu, 1942)
2. Boyhood (Richard Linklater, 2014)
3. The Best Years of Our Lives (William Wyler, 1946)
4. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Cristi Puiu, 2005)
5. The Human Condition (Masaki Kobayashi, 1959-1961)
6. Come and See (Elem Klimov, 1985)
7. Love & Mercy (Bill Pohlad, 2014)
8. Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch, 2013)
9. Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me (Drew DeNicola / Olivia Mori, 2012)
10. The Emigrants (Jan Troell, 1971)
11. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (Mikio Naruse, 1960)
12. Jodorowsky's Dune (Frank Pavich, 2013)
13. Paranormal Activity (Oren Peli, 2007)
14. Force Majeure (Ruben Ostlund, 2014)
15. Happy-Go-Lucky (Mike Leigh, 2008)
16. I'm Now: The Story of Mudhoney (Adam Pease / Ryan Short, 2012)
17. 7th Heaven (Frank Borzage, 1927)
18. John Wick (Chad Stahelski / David Leitch, 2014)
19. The Babadook (Jennifer Kent, 2014)
20. Noah (Darren Aronofsky, 2014)
21. Snowpiercer (Joon Ho Bong, 2013)
22. Compliance (Craig Zobel, 2012)
23. Scrooge (Brian Desmond Hurst, 1951)
24. Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961)
25. House (Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1977)
26. The Raid: Redemption (Gareth Evans, 2011)
27. Ida (Pawel Pawlikowski, 2013)
28. Woman in the Dunes (Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1964)
29. Now, Voyager (Irving Rapper, 1942)
30. Revanche (Gotz Spielmann, 2008)
31. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky, 2012)
32. Searching for Sugar Man (Malik Bendjelloul, 2012)
33. Joy Division (Grant Gee, 2007)
34. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)
35. The Innocents (Jack Clayton, 1961)
36. Atlantic City (Louis Malle, 1980)
37. The Return (Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2003)
38. Welfare (Frederick Wiseman, 1975)
39. Lilya 4-Ever (Lukas Moodyson, 2002)
40. Melancholia (Lav Diaz, 2008)
41. Project Nim (James Marsh, 2011)
42. A Woman Under the Influence (John Cassavetes, 1974)
43. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (Sam Peckinpah, 1975)
44. The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr / Agnes Hranitzky, 2011)
45. Pacific Rim (Guillermo del Toro, 2013)
46. Mister Lonely (Harmony Korine, 2007)
47. Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (Danny Leiner, 2004)
48. Limitless (Neil Burger, 2011)
49. I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang (Mervyn LeRoy, 1932)
50. Millions Like Us (Sidney Gilliat / Frank Launder, 1943)
51. Greed (Erich von Stroheim, 1924)
52. The Class (Laurent Cantet, 2008)
53. Gold Diggers of 1933 (Mervyn LeRoy, 1933)
54. The Ten Commandments (Cecil B. DeMille, 1923)
55. Moonrise (Frank Borzage, 1948)

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