Sampling Metafilter

Keep in mind, this is from only 5 days of posting.

In the spirit of Christmas
Or if, instead, you want to give your loved one something from the health and family planning section
In the "oh, yeah, that had to be invented, too..." category (more info here)
Disney made a bad decision (really, terrible) and people revolt
If you haven't had your daily dose of cute (seriously, you can find anything on the net...)

Research confirms what we already knew: Wikipedia rules
I hope my mind (and sense of humor) will still be this sharp at 83
'Cause I love Paris
Dutch Bathroom Tiles enter the internet age

Time Cover Art: how flash should be used.

Finally, some links from other sources:

Kong and Sexual Politics
I want this.
There are too many top-ten lists too mention, but this has to be one of the best designed ones
'Cause most other reviews made the point that Memoirs of a Geisha was boring boringly
Pitchfork reviews 29. 4 more days until it comes out.

To end up, the most beautiful commercial on TV these days is of course, a triumph in these days of CGI because it didn't use it. Those are real balls, hard as it may be to believe.

I looked up the music that accompanies it. The song is Heartbeats "arranged" (whatever that means) by José González. It's a little flat without the accompanying images, but still quite beautiful.



My Year in Movies

Yes it is that time: the time of year-end lists. And who am I to decline participation in this joyous -though also oft-annoying - tradition?

So, below, find the films I've seen this year. Well, not all of them. First, only films I saw for the first time in 2005 count. Also, only those that came out in 2005...and in 2004. Let me explain: 2005 because that's traditional, and 2004 because, well, 16 films is not a whole lot. Thing is, I skip a lot of bad movies, and the good ones tend to come out near the end of the year - academy awards and all - meaning I usually don't see them until the year after.

Well, you ask, as soon as you're at it, why not do it about all films you've seen this year? Two good reasons for that: first, I don't remember all the films I've seen this year, there were so many, and I can't even guarantee this list is comprehensive. Most importantly, I took a film course this year, and while some beautiful films I've seen in that don't qualify as I'd seen them before (Citizen Kane, Casablance, the Godfather) I think this year's films would have had a hard time competing with the likes of Sunset Boulevard and Vertigo.

Enough talk. On with the list. An explanation for the thingies between brackets is below.

Top 4 (because I'm random that way. Also, in no particular order)

  • Serenity
  • A History of Violence [s] (the more I think about it, the more I like it. Read more.)
  • No Direction Home [t]
  • Sideways [2]

Admired, but did not love:

  • Hotel Rwanda [2]
  • Closer [2]

Flawed, but still worth seeing:

  • Le Temps Qui Reste (for cinematography, music, a gorgeous main character and mostly: Jeanne Moreau. The review I wrote for the Boomerang will be up soon)
  • The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou[d] (for a near perfect first hour)
  • Lords of Dogtown [s] (for the exhilerated feeling, and Heath Ledger doing Val Kilmer. By which I mean doing his best impersonation of, of course.)
  • Un Long Dimanche de Fiancailles (for reminding us that WWII wasn't the only horrific war)
  • Sin City (for style if nothing else. Watch out for your balls)

Succesful Action Spectacles:

  • Batman Begins
  • The Incredibles [2]
  • Hellboy [d]

Unsuccesful Action Spectacles

  • Kingdom of Heaven
  • Sahara [s](alright, alright, that one was kinda fun. In the way that only bad films can be fun. And well, I maintain that it had much to do with the way William H. Macy delivered the line "They did a Panama". Also, Lambert Wilson can do no wrong in my book.)
  • Constantine[s](but Tilda was cool in it, I have to admit)

Action Spectacle with the lamest dialogue: Star Wars (you know which one)

Action Spectable with the worst acting: Star Wars (explain again, how can you have Ewan McGregor do a pitch perfect impersonation of Alec Guiness....acting badly?)

Action Spectable with the most cop-out ending: War of the Worlds (Spielberg sometimes really is too much of a sap)

Sleekerst Action Spectacle: Collateral [d]

Most Fun Brainless Action Spectacle: Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Most Fun Brainless Caper: Ocean's Twelve

Biopics (meaning taken loosely. From those I liked to those I liked less):

  • The Motorcycle Diaries [2] (made me want to pack up my bags and leave for South-America immediately. Definitely too positive about its subject, though)
  • Kinsey [2] (A lot of fun, maybe a little too positive)
  • The Aviator : (not that much fun, still maybe a little too positive)

Documentaries (same)

  • No Direction Home [t] (Home run by Scorsese. Among the best films of the year. Read more here)
  • Inside Deep Throat [s] (maybe not all that insightful, but boy did I laugh...Also, I now get why people went to see the movie. It's Linda Lovelace's "how the ... does she do that?!" factor)
  • Control Room [a] (Intriguing. Isn't that the best you can say abut a doc?)
  • Outfoxed [a] (way too polemic)

Mind-Fuck Movies (ditto)

  • Primer (shows time-travel movies are possible without Ah-nulds butt and/or eighties music. Or whirly effects, for that matter)
  • I {heart} Huckabees [d] (many interesting ideas, not always well exucuted, but some really cool moments)

Hilarious even if it shouldn't be: The Spongebob Squarepants Movie

Not as hilarious as it should be: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (although the song at the beginning deserves an award of its own. And "Bless you" was brilliant)

Movies randomly not assigned to a specific category for being neither bad nor really good:

  • Broken Flowers [s] (works really only when the amazing Jeffrey Wright is onscreen)
  • Garden state [d] (I probably should have liked this more than I did, but only the music and Peter Sarsgaard's performance really stood out)
  • Team America [c] (funny enough. Not a standout)
  • Mean Girls [d] (ditto. The bus moment was the only thing that stayed with me)
  • Napoleon Dynamite [c] (same, again)
  • Criminal [d] (It has Westwood! And Diego Luna! And I can't remember much else...)
  • Anchorman [d] (Ok, ok, I did laugh. Especially when the different teams showed up. Still...)

Classics I saw for the first time this year and wanted to mention:

  • La Dolce Vita [d] (Wow. I'll have to watch that about 5 times more, I think)
  • 8 1/2 [d] (ehm, yeah. Ditto. Also, I want to look like Anouk Aimée)
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (loved it. How could I not?)
  • Sunset Boulevard (ditto, of course)
  • Vertigo (not as convinced about this one, but definitely a film I'm glad I finally saw)
  • Singin' in the Rain (it's official, I'm not the musical type)
  • The Terminator (how could I not mention the naked gubernator?)
  • Many, many more. Film classes rock.

2005 films I'd like to see in 2006, and maybe even sooner

  • Brokeback Mountain
  • King Kong
  • Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
  • The Squid and the Whale
  • Match Point
  • The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
  • Last Days
  • Capote
  • Good Night, and Good Luck
  • Pride & Prejudice
  • Walk the Line
  • The Constant Gardener
  • Grizzly man
  • The Upside of Anger
  • Nine Lives
  • Caché

Needless to say, that's not going to happen, but a girl can dream. The plan, in any case, is to make a page on this blog, somewhere back-dated, where I'll keep a list of the movies I'll see from january 1st onwards.

Outraged at some of my picks? Something I blatantly left out? Can't believe I didn't see insert-film-here yet? Leave your comments!


[a]: seen in class
[c]: downloaded (isn't it admirable how few those are?)
[d]: seen on DVD
[s]: sneak preview
[2]: 2 dollar movie at UCLA
Nothing: seen in theatres.


"It was beauty killed the beast"

King Kong, Cooper & Shoedsack, 1933

I can understand why this film made Peter Jackson want to be a director.

I'd managed not to see it, somehow. I did see both the 1931 Dracula and the 1931 Frankenstein, but not this one. Of course, with Jackson's monumental (and surprisingly well-received) remake coming out tomorrow, I had to revisit the original. I never thought it would be so genuinely good.

Oh, maybe good isn't the first word that comes to mind if you just start anywhere in the middle. To modern eyes, Kong himself, and most of the other effects, seem clumsy, laughable even. Watching from the beginning, however, letting the atmosphere creepm up on you, discovering the crew together with a screaming Fay Wray, he is suprisingly believable. Oh, of course you see he is made of clay, of course his movements show that he was made with stop-motion, and yes, foreground and background don't match all that often, but still, what a spectacle. After all, isn't the most important quality that special effects should have that they draw you into the movie? Who cares about realism, as long as the effects make you care. And I cared. I held my breath during the wrestling match between Kong and the dinosaur, and I felt a pang when he fell.

What I was most surprised by is not how much the film gripped me, but how violent it was. Many, many people get killed here, brutally, and somehow it shocked me more than, say, Sin City did (well, the Sin City deaths, at least, the whole ripped-off-balls things not taken into account). From the trailers and what I've heard, King Kong in the new version is a sweeter, more tender creature, and Ann Darrow loves him back in a way. Not in this version, but it's true that you almost blame here for it, because even this clay model has an amazing array of feelings on his face. I'm looking forward to see what Andy Serkis can do with that.

Many articles come out now asking what it is with our fascination for beautiful blondes in the paws of big black beasts. I don't know the answer, but whatever it is, it seems to work for Peter Jackson.