Clash of the Titans (2010, Louis Leterrier)

Categories: 2010 and Movies.

I have only ever seen pieces of the 80s Clash of the Titans, but my memory of it was that it was actually based on Greek myths. I emphasize this fact because this remake appears to not care about its sources in the slightest, pulling a creature from Norse mythology as its climactic bad guy, bringing in some Arabic mythology, and generally completely altering the stories of the Greek myths it is ostensibly putting on screen.  (I recognize that a fine film could be made out of the idea that all myths from all cultures are variations of the same Read More

Boy (2010, Taika Waititi)

Categories: 2010 and Movies.

This is an engaging an affecting coming of age story set on a Maori reserve in New Zealand. Though we’ve seen movies like this before, I have definitely never seen a coming of a age story set on a Maori reserve. It’s the kind of film that makes me wonder why we don’t have a similar film set in Canada. (Maybe we do and I’m unaware of it.) Read More

Blank City (2010, Celine Danhler)

Categories: 2010 and Movies.

This film chronicles the rise and fall of No Wave (the movies, not so much the music), New Cinema and the Cinema of Transgression in New York City in the 1970s and 1980s. In addition to interviews with the filmmakers and stars, it features a number of famous people (some directors and musicians, an actor or two) who you will recognize. If this documentary has a thesis, it is that these movements created independent film, which is bullshit and extremely New York-centric and maybe that’s why I didn’t love it. It’s in depth and it tells the story reasonably well Read More

Borgen (2010)

Categories: 2010, 2011, and 2013.

Borgen is a remarkable, unique Danish television show that may have established it’s own genre. Every other TV show to focus on politics that I have ever seen has added elements of fantasy; normally these shows and movies are “political thrillers” where someone always dies; occasionally they’re comedies. Either way, there is a balance between realism (in some cases) and concessions to entertainment. Borgen is not one of those shows. Borgen is very like the most realistic fictional TV show ever made about politics. Read More

Royal Toast (2010) by The Claudia Quintet

Categories: 2010 and Music.

We’re at a time when all genres blend together and bleed into one another. This record is a perfect example of that: there’s music that could be jazz-influenced chamber music, there’s music that sounds freely improvised, there’s music that sounds like jazz, but also sounds like it was completely written in advance (and rehearsed a lot). The music itself ranges from quite pleasant chamber music to lively, intricate, windy jazz fusion type stuff (albeit with very different instrumentation than is usual for jazz fusion), to pretty free stuff. It’s a great combination of stuff, showing off the versatility of the Read More

Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010, James Nguyen)

Categories: 2010 and Movies.

I have seen a lot of bad movies in my life (though fewer recently) so I have pretty high (low?) standards for my “Worst Movies of All Time” list. For me, a film has to be have zero redeeming qualities about it for me to consider it one of the worst films ever made. Most movies do not fit that definition. Even my last few 1 star reviews were of films that had at least one redeeming quality. This film, on the other hand… Read More

Billy Budd (2010, Francois Rousillon)

Categories: 1951, 2010, Music, and TV.

To some, Billy Budd was the greatest English-language opera ever written when it premiered, to a few its even the greatest English-language opera ever. (To those people I say, have you ever heard of John Adams? But anyway…) I did not love it when I first heard it, for any number of reasons, the biggest being that Britten’s music is entirely too conservative for me. I do like a few of his pieces but, for the most part, I prefer my 20th century music a little more interesting than Britten. But I will say this live production from 2010 (filmed Read More

Meek’s Cutoff (2010, Kelly Reichardt)

Categories: 2010 and Movies.

The Western was possibly my favourite genre growing up, I watched tons of the classic Hollywood Westerns. So many, in fact, that I ruined classic Westerns for myself and moved on to revisitionist westerns. The Western of classic Hollywood relies so much on mythology. But even most of the revisionist westerns I love so much still rely on the mythology. It’s rare to see a western that tries to be completely historically accurate. Well, this is one of those films. Think of is as Oregon Trail: The Movie. The characters feel like real people but far more importantly, their journey Read More

Bhutto (2010, Duane Baughman, Johnny O’Hara)

Categories: 2011 and Movies.

One of the defining characteristics of human beings that is that we are flawed, imperfect creatures. All the “Great Men” of history were actually just human beings; sometimes they did things we might view as great, but they had their problems. There isn’t a single major political leader in history who hasn’t done something awful. Read More

From Fear to Eternity: The Best of 1990-2010 (2011) by Iron Maiden

Categories: 1990, 1992, 1995, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2010, and 2011.

I accidentally picked this up thinking it was a compilation of their ’80s music. Ah well. I learned a couple of things from this record: First, Iron Maiden has a formula and they stuck to it (at least on the songs considered their “best”). Second, I should never get a live Iron Maiden album. It’s pretty clear from listening to this record that Maiden is just milking their sound for all its worth. Sure, some of these songs are pretty catchy and everything is very professional and competent, but so many of these songs follow the exact same formula. And Read More

Senna (2010, Asif Kapadia)

Categories: 2010, Movies, and Sports.

This is a captivating and engrossing film about Ayrton Senna, the Brazilian Formula One driver who some believe was the greatest driver the sport has ever seen, but who died young, before he might have broken some records. The film does a good job of making us understand why Senna had appeal outside of his sport in addition to within the sport and manages to make a lot of the Formula “drama” more interesting than I normally find it. (I am just getting into the sport and I enjoy the racing, not the bickering.) It also does a pretty good Read More

Stonehenge Apocalypse (2010, Paul Ziller)

Categories: 2010, Movies, and TV.

How do I put into words how monumentally dumb this movie is? I’m not really sure. It’s one of those films that you want to live blog o live tweet because of the inane/insane lines, the utter ignorance of scientific facts and the budget (and what is forces the characters to do/say). It’s just awful. There’s stuff about Stonehenge detonating volcanoes and destroying the world. There’s stuff about a map that is among the most poorly drawn maps I think I’ve seen in a movie. There’s a hilarious (willful?) ignorance about how governments work. There’s the totally awful CGI (though Read More

Mad Men (2007)

Categories: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and TV.

I watched Mad Men over an even longer period than most of you, so my memory of the individual episodes is not perfect. I know there were some weaker ones in there, and there even parts of seasons (perhaps even whole ones) that I didn’t enjoy on the level of the best parts of the show. But I want to talk about the show as a whole, and not dwell on its occasional missteps or the fact that it ran on too long (like most other American TV shows…). Read More

Salt (2010, Phillip Noyce)

Categories: 2010 and Movies.

This is one of those movies where everyone is double crossing everyone else and, if you think about the triple cross at the heart of this movie…well, it sure doesn’t make much sense. Everything is competent: there’s a great cast, giving their all, and the production values are high. But the plot is dumb and the feats required of Salt to accomplish everything she sets out to are superhuman. I could take this or leave it. It’s yet another action spy movie and I really don’t know why it’s any different than any other. 4/10 Read More

Bill Cunningham New York (2010, Richard Press)

Categories: 2010 and Movies.

Bill Cunningham is an interesting guy. He has some interesting theories about style and fashion – subjects that I couldn’t care less about but when he talks about them I listen. However, I can’t help but feel a certain way about some of these New York City documentaries. Now, I’m not one to invoke the term “cultural imperialism” but when I watch movies like this one, so obsessed with one New Yorker (or one scene in New York), I have a hard time taking them as seriously as the filmmakers and interviewees intended. Because, unfortunately, most of the people in Read More

On Writing (2000) by Stephen King

Categories: 2000 and 2010.

I have never read a single Steven King novel or short story – I know, I know – and I don’t write fiction, but this book was recommended highly, and I figured I would give it a try given the struggles I am experiencing with my current project. King is an engaging, entertaining writer. He is so extremely relatable, it’s easy for me to imagine how his characters in his novels connect with people. The mini memoir/autobiography that opens the book is so good it makes me want to read a full autobiography (even though much would be lost on Read More

Beginners (2010, Mike Mills)

Categories: 2010 and Movies.

This is extremely affecting and often entertaining film that tries and somehow manages to balance two different types of films, the meet-cute romantic comedy and the parent-dying drama. It does both, and it also adds a unique spin – using narration with photographs to deal with with the passage of time in in a rather unique way for an otherwise mainstream narrative film. MILD SPOILER Read More

Barney’s Version (2010, Richard J. Lewis)

Categories: 2010 and Movies.

So, I have not read the novel. I have no idea whether or not it’s good. I have heard good things. Also, I like the concept. But, despite Giamatti’s excellent performance in the title role I could not bring myself to like the main character and that’s a big, big problem for a film that focuses on the life of that character. I don’t know whether it was my mood, or whether the film left out parts of the novel that would have made Barney more endearing, or whether I needed the to experience the film through someone else’s eyes. Read More

The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu (2010, Andrei Ujica)

Categories: 2010 and Movies.

This film attempts to paint a portrait of the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu simply by assembling and editing together excerpts from something like 1,000 hours of official footage. Because of the way it is assembled – just this footage, no talking heads, no narration, no obvious message – what you make of this movie appears to be entirely up to you. Though I believe that the director reveals his views subtly, mostly through his use of audio, whether you believe this portrait is sympathetic or critical depends on what you bring to the film (and that is as it should Read More

Hindemith: The Complete Viola Music 2 (2010) by Lawrence Power

Categories: 1919, 1922, 1923, 2010, and Music.

Part 2 of Power’s performances of Hindemith’s viola music focuses on the sonatas for solo viola, of which Hindemith also wrote three. Though these all lack the incredible, complex and difficult piano parts of their cousins, that doesn’t make them any less impressive and, not surprisingly, the viola parts are more complex. The first sonata is another one of Hindemith’s pieces where he straddles tradition and the avant garde, echoing the past, but playing with tempo (particularly) and tonality in ways that would be pretty foreign to even listeners of the late 19th century. It is a worthy partner to Read More

Heaven is Whenever (2010) by The Hold Steady

Categories: 2010 and Music.

From the opening notes of “The Sweet Part of the City” it’s pretty clear that this band has finally overcome their Springsteen odour. Sure, Finn is still an extremely Sprinsteenian songwriter, but the rest of the band no longer sounds like a louder E-Street band minus the sax. (I’d blame that on the departed keyboard player but I know this had already happened on the previous album.) I can’t tell you how much of a difference that makes for me, as a listener. I almost want to go back to Boys and Girls in America and knock that review down Read More

Mathis der Maler [Opera Version] (2010) by Paul Hindemith, Performed by Dietrich Frischer-Dieskau, James King, Urzula Koszut, Rose Wagemann, William Cochran, Peter Meven, Chor und Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks conducted by Rafael Kubelik

Categories: 1935, 2010, and Music.

This opera has a weird origin, it was a symphony that was expanded to be an opera. Anyway, The opera is massive (it’s 3 hours long, divided into 7 “tableaux”), and is generally regarded well because it’s an allegory for nazism. Not to be picky, but I feel like there are a number of better (and shorter!) allegorical operas about nazism out there. It’s not that it’s bad. It’s a fine piece of music – despite it’s size – it’s just that it’s revivalism. It’s really high end revivalism, but it is revivalism nonetheless. So I have trouble getting excited Read More

Another Year (2010, Mike Leigh)

Categories: 2010 and Movies.

This is an affecting and amusing dramedy about one year in the life of married couple (who are seemingly so happy it’s not even funny) and their dysfunctional family and friends. The couple are introduced in the most roundabout way, as if they are not even the protagonists, and the entire film unfolds as unconventionally. This is one of those movies that drives people crazy with its lack of plot – there isn’t one – but which really makes a big impression upon you if you let it. It’s really quite funny – in that awkward British way – and Read More

The Arbor (2010, Clio Barnard)

Categories: 2010 and Movies.

This is an inventive, provocative and daring “documentary” about the daughter of the late British playwright Andrea Dunbar, someone I’ve never heard of. Taking its cue from a play made to celebrate the anniversary of Dunbar’s first play (or to investigate its legacy), this documentary has actors lip sync audio recordings of people involved in Dunbar’s life and her daughter’s. It combines this with video recordings of Dunbar herself and excerpts from Dunbar’s first play. This approach may seem pretentious or unnecessarily arty, but it actually works extremely well given the importance of the play in the life of the Read More

Animal Kingdom (2010, David Michod)

Categories: 2010 and Movies.

This is like a blue collar gangster film with Italian Americans replaced by Aussies. This film has excellent acting and I like how incompetent the criminals are. It’s refreshing. But I struggle with the plot. You know the expression “Stranger than fiction”? Well, this plot is a little of that. Apparently it was fairly loosely inspired by a true story, which sort of makes sense because this is one of those ‘too weird to be believed’ stories. I guess I was just expecting more, given the huge amount of praise this movie got. It’s not that it’s bad – it’s Read More

And Everything is Going Fine (2010, Steven Soderbergh)

Categories: 2010 and Movies.

I know virtually nothing about Spalding Gray; I’ve heard of the film of Swimming to Cambodia but that’s it. Soderbergh takes an interesting and, I would say, appropriate approach. Almost the entire film is excerpts of films of Gray and interviews of him and it’s a daring, compelling approach given that Soderbergh does not introduce Gray at all and you have to learn with the film. Gray’s approach is extremely narcissistic in one view, but also extremely illuminating and, like it or not, he’s a good storyteller. I think of things like Mortified and think, wow was Gray ever prescient, Read More

L’amour fou (2010, Pierre Thoretton)

Categories: 2010 and Movies.

I can’t tell if this documentary is more interested in Yves Saint Laurent or his art collection and his various houses. As told by his partner, this movie feels, at times, like it’s more about him and his memories / view of Saint Laurent than anything else. And then we get to watch the man become even more rich, as the auction of their art collection rakes in tens of millions. If this is meant to a be a portrait of the man, it’s entirely too devoted to Pierre Berge and his own thoughts and feelings. If this is meant Read More