Monday, January 17, 2011

A Short Fuse

I refuse to turn this into a bitching blog just because I haven't been able to watch movies lately, but holy crap am I in a crabby mood today!

  • Upset stomach
  • Annoying co-workers who act like howler monkeys on a daily basis even though this is supposed to be a professional office
  • Uninspiring writing projects I'm supposed to be working on
  • A creepy co-worker across the hall who I'm convinced would turn me into furniture at the drop of a hat
  • The unyielding snow that's threatening to kibosh my plans to see finally see True Grit tonight
  • It's Monday and I'm just simply tired
  • I'm eating a peanut butter sammich for lunch for about the third week in a row
There's more, but I'm going to stop now at the risk of sounding like a complete and total kvetch.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I managed to get my head out of my tuchus and get my site up and running again. Hooray!

Now I just need to create some new content... hmm....

See it here:

And now, a random picture of Oscar the Grouch that totally epitomizes how I feel right now.

Color Me Confounded

There are a couple of things I don't understand, and I realize that they are all going to make me sound petulant, but I own that.

  • How is it that there isn't remotely enough time or motivation for me to the things I want to get done on any given day? I suspect part of it is a generally frenetic day at work where there are a lot of demands put on me from various internal clients, but it really makes me wonder how people with real problems and real lives get it done.
  • Why is it that regardless of the fact that we have plenty of food in the kitchen and pantry do I have a mental mindblock when it comes to cooking dinner for Chris and I at night? I think I may have an answer to that one; that I work best on a schedule and we have nothing resembling a schedule because of his erratic work/after work activities, but I still can't get past my stubborness and work around it. (Though I'm still not entirely sure that's my fault.)
  • On a day when I finally have a shot at reviving my screwed up web site and doing some much needed updates, why is it that the program keeps "throwing exceptions" and closing everything down? On a good day I'm terrible at all of this, so I don't need crap like this to shake my confidence further.

Well, at least my web site is able to be worked on again. Chris clicked a button on the program that I clicked a million times and it worked for him so mazel tov to both of us. Now if I could just actually get in there to do some work on it the world would be just a little brighter.

I guess I'll end this blog post on that night since there's nothing worse than a kvetch with nothing really to say.

Friday, January 7, 2011

TGIF: Think Grumpy. It's Fun!

Day three of web site panic. I seriously have no idea what I'm going to do if I have to start from scratch. Chris said he took a look at it last night but will look at it further this afternoon, which translates into, "I didn't get a chance to look last night because I was playing Batman, or I logged on to technically be able to say I went to your web site, but I'll maybe get to it at some point this evening or tomorrow after yelling at you for asking me about it yet again." It's been 7 years - I know him better than he thinks I do!

Anyway, last night I went home an hour early from work and crashed in my chair, hard. After Chris got home from the mall we just watched a couple of Bones episodes, but I vow to not get out of the weekend without seeing at least 3 movies. Nothing much planned for the weekend, but it's going to be cold as hell so I'm not in a hurry to go galavanting around, so to speak, so it shouldn't be too difficult to fit some flick time in.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Computer Blue: The Sequel

Still no word on my web site. I got a fun pat answer from godaddy that was basically just a cut and paste from their FAQ and didn't help. Apparently, according to Chris, this is not uncommon since most people don't check the FAQs before bugging customer support. Regardless, I still don't have a site and I'm starting to get really worried about having to completely redesign/reconstruct the whole thing. I'm hoping Chris can tear himself away from his computer game tonight to look at it for me. (I'm normally not such a nudge, but he promised me he would look at it last night, so in not doing so, it just prolongs my agony.)

Work hasn't been much better today. I completed a couple of big, non-computer related projects, and just about the time when I was ready to start up again with a new batch of projects, our e-mail server goes down. Yikes. Yesterday it was our donor database being down for a half a day that basically had me with one hand tied behind my back, and now this today. It's pretty unreal how dependent we become on computers, especially at work. And I would imagine that I'm on the extreme low-end of computer dependency; I'm just glad I don't need it for friends and a social life. If anything, I actually would like to spend more time on the computer reading various blogs and writing more. Well, that was part of my resolution for this year, so we'll see how that goes.

So, it's been a dog day afternoon, and I may just watch that very movie tonight; it just popped up on Netflix Instant. I'm so determined to get through the IMDB 250 this year (finally) after years of treading water and rewatching movies while friends catch up, but now that I've been hunkering down to watch some of the movies I'm finding myself backpedaling because I'll watch 1 or 2 movies and cross them off the list, but then it changes and adds 3 more movies I hadn't seen and movies I have seen fall off the list, and I'm back to square one. A week ago I had 30 movies to go, now I have 32. How about them apples?

Regardless of what goes down tonight, I'm gong to kick it out of here an hour early, at 4, go home and relax a bit and then make some kind of yummy pasta bake something or other for dinner. Basically, I have a vat of homemade marinara I made a couple of days ago, various dried pastas and a couple of different cheeses I shredded in the food processor the other day, so I'm sure I can come up with something. Then, depending on what Chris is in the mood for (hopefully not a fight) it will be more Bones catchup or a movie. Either way, it's semi win-win.

Now, if I could just get my damned web site dilemma straightened out...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Computer Blue

Ugh ugh ugh. I finally decided to take a look at my web site ( because I've been hating the format of it for a long time; it seems really long, there's a lot of wasted space on the side, etc. Since I'm in no way a computer genius (or even a computer imbecile) I've been working with templates, and I finally got one that looked kind of how I wanted it to look - clean, but wider, with the navigation buttons on top of the screen instead of the side where there would be a bunch of dead space.

Well, lo and behold, moving the content blocks around, I completely screwed it up, so I decided to just let it go and go back to what I have and start from scratch. Unfortunately, the damn thing is now reverting to a project that I started before I put all the work into the current incarnation of my web site, and I can't figure out how to get back to it. My saving grace is that I never published any of the "new" content, but I can't get to my old site anymore to make any changes.

Sigh. After the threat of many tears and frustration I e-mailed godaddy to see if they can help me, and Chris is going to take a look at it later this afternoon. I just have to be able to get through until then because I'm terrified at the thought of having to reconstruct everything again. I don't know that I could at this point.

Hopefully a cheerier update later...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

An evolution of resolutions

I try not to make resolutions because I've learned not to kid myself about thinking that I'll actually keep them beyond day #2, but this year I actually am going to make a resolution to do my very best to make time to do the things I should be doing and the things I want to be doing. Sometimes the two end up being the same thing, like keeping in touch with family and friends, and sometimes they don't, like making sure the house is clean and finding the time to watch films and write reviews instead of just plopping down in front of the plasma and letting my brain die with the Real Housewives.

My challenge is to do some of this in conjunction with Chris, and I think we're a world apart in many aspects right now. I'm not sure if a schedule is the answer, (it hasn't seemed to work so far with other things) or what, but I've been trying to be patient while sorting things out. It just doesn't work out as well as I'd like it to most of the time, even though when things come together, either around the house or when we watch a good movie together, we both have to admit the end result is a good one.

So that's my 2011 resolution. It may seem small but it has many facets. It's only January 4th and there have already been some bumps but hopefully things will get smoothed out and I/we can form a routine that is more than a rut full of laziness and procrastination with occasional bursts of productivity or inspiration. Even if my life isn't action-packed (and I don't want it to be) I can still be fulfilled with a happy household, a nice relationship with Chris and engaging in my hobbies.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Best and Worst Films of 2010 - The Best

As I mentioned in an earlier post, 2010 was one of the hardest years in recent memory to glean a true "best of" list because there were so many good ones. I agonized over the elimination process, but when I did, deciding what order they should go in was actually a lot easier. Here are my favorite 11 films of 2010, in order.


11. A SERIOUS MAN (2009)

Joel and Ethan Coens' film based on the book of Job is perhaps one of their most personal, dealing with strong Jewish themes. Michael Stuhlbarg is Larry Gopnik, a math professor who sees his world unraveling through a series of life altering events, until something as simple as being hounded by a collector from Columbia House records becomes almost too much to bear. Darkly humorous, yet profound, A Serious Man is a polarizing film, but I think those that appreciate it, really appreciate it, and I loved it.


I haven't yet found a Pedro Almodovar film I haven't liked, and his latest film, Broken Embraces, didn't disappoint. He always draws an incredible performance out of his muse, Penelope Cruz, who stars as Lena, the tragic love interest of two different men. Part thriller, part romance, Broken Embraces is both precise and beautiful.

9. HOWL (2010)

I didn't need to be sold on the premise of Howl; being a huge fan of the literature of the Beat generation, and Ginsberg's work in particular, I was looking forward to whatever was going to be prevented onscreen. What surprised me, however, was how incredible and imaginative the film turned out to be. Primarily focusing on the obscenity trial over Ginsberg's epic poem Howl, the film also examines Ginsberg's life and creative process during the time he produced his seminal work. Part pseudo-documentary, part courtroom drama, the film boasts imaginative and sometimes horrifying animated representation of Ginsberg's poetry, and an amazing, Oscar-worthy performance by James Franco, who continues to surprise me with his talent.


I have no idea what is fact and what is fiction in The Social Network, David Fincher's film about the creation of the hugely successful social networking site, Facebook and the people who claim to have created it, but I honestly don't care. The Social Network is effortlessly compelling, and Jesse Eisenberg gives a completely amazing performance as Mark Zuckerberg, the lead player in the drama that almost takes on a bent of Greek tragedy. Scripted by Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network also contained my favorite movie quote of the year, when one of the Winklevoss twins, who claim to have had the Facebook idea first expresses the desire to kick Zuckerberg's ass: "I'm six-five, 220 pounds and there are two of me."

7. PERSONA (1966)

Starring Liv Ullman and Bibi Andersson and directed by Ingmar Bergman, Persona is a masterpiece of psychological manipulation and decline. When "The Actress" (Ullman) suddenly stops talking, she is assigned to "The Nurse" (Andersson) and the two become close while they share a cabin at the beach as part of Ullman's recovery. Their roles soon become reversed, with Ullman acting as Andersson's confidante, and their personalities soon begin to meld together until Andersson becomes paranoid and unsure of who she is anymore. Full of amazing imagery, complicated, cerebral and scary, Persona is brilliance personified.

6. INCEPTION (2010)

Though I like his Batman films less than his "other" films, I'm pretty sure that it is an understatement that Christopher Nolan is one of the best directors to come out of the last decade. I was thrilled to see him going back to his mind-bending roots of Following and Memento with the wildly entertaining and thought-provoking Inception. Part colossal mind-screw and part kick-ass action film, Inception gives us philosophical food for thought in a fantastically polished package that left some unanswered questions that had a lot of people talking - just one indication of a great film.

5. A SINGLE MAN (2009)

Though it was his directorial debut, I never doubted that Tom Ford would bring high style to A Single Man, being a fashion designer and former head of Gucci. What I didn't expect was the subtlety and incredible depth he would bring to this story about George (Colin Firth), a closeted gay man in the 1960's who has to cope with the sudden death of his longtime lover. The beauty of A Single Man, and the heart-breaking performance by Firth (sorry, but he deserved the Oscar for this one) had me in awe and wracked with sobs by the end of the film. Unfortunately I saw the film in public, but I'm sure I wasn't the only one who walked out of the theater sniffling.

4. BLACK SWAN (2010)

Having only seen Black Swan a week ago, this one really skyrocketed up my list. Directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Natalie Portman, Black Swan is a scary psychological thriller that delves into the competitive (and obsessive) world of ballet. If Portman doesn't at least get an Oscar nomination for her role (it's still too early to deem her a deserving winner) I will be shocked. Aronofsky notoriously puts his actors through hell with his challenging characters, and ultimately gets some of the best performances of their lives out of them. Black Swan is beautiful to look at, even if you sometimes want to look away. The brilliance of the film lies in the fact that you can't look away.


The best film I saw during my Scorsese filmography project, My Voyage to Italy is a fabulous 5 hour opus by Martin Scorsese about the Italian films from the 1940's through 1960's that influenced him as a filmmaker and as a lifelong student of film. Covering films and filmmakers that extend beyond the obvious choices, Scorsese's passion for film is practically tangible and charming to witness. I found that I had to keep a steno pad next to me during the film so I could make a note of the films he showcased that I hadn't yet seen. Scorsese begins the film by saying, "I saw these movies. They had a powerful effect on me. You should see them." He is a born teacher, and My Voyage to Italy makes every viewer, like its director, a student of film.

2. (500) Days of Summer (2009)

A couple of cute people meet at work and begin a relationship, only it's not all sunshine, despite the best efforts of Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) to reign in Summer (Zooey Deschanel). (500) Days of Summer is a chronic of their relationship, with a non-linear order that both affords clues of its impending doom and makes the audience second-guess what they think they already know. The film has its sweet, breezy moments, (the dancing in the park scene with Gordon-Levitt is a joy) but for the most part shows how relationships really can be, with its insecurities and false hopes. (The party scene which shows Tom's expectations and the reality in split-screen is both ingenious and gut-wrenching.) Though not as clever, (500) Days of Summer has a lot of similarities to Annie Hall, and I found it absolutely brilliant.

1. MARY AND MAX (2009)

A tale of an unlikely friendship between a young girl in Australia and a middle-aged man in New York, Mary and Max is a brilliant animated film. By complete serendipity, Mary and Max become pen pals, with loneliness being their common bond. During their decades-long correspondence, they share their ups-and-downs and become irreplaceable in each others' lives. With clever animation, an inspired script and fantastic voice over performances (particularly Max, played by an almost unrecognizable Philip Seymour Hoffman) Mary and Max is sweet, sad, funny and above all, uncompromisingly charming. There were a few times during the film when I was in tears, but I was soon laughing over something cute or funny. You've probably never heard of Mary and Max, but it is truly a film that must be seen, and hands down, it was the best film (out of a lot of excellent films) that I saw in 2010.

Best and Worst Films of 2010 - The Worst

Of the 155 films I watched in 2010, there were about 11 that I considered to be undeniably bad. After reflecting on one of them, I couldn't in good conscience include Jack Goes Boating on the list, because while I really didn't like it, it wasn't inherently terrible. Plus it looked a little out of place with the rest of them.

As with all of my "worst" lists in the past, I'm sure there are going to be big question marks to go along with the obvious picks, but hey, that's what good intellectual discourse is all about, right? The following films are the worst of 2010, and though they are in no particular order, they're all just plain bad.



Boy, am I sick of defending my position on Harry Potter. I don't read the books, but I commend J.K. Rowling for getting kids (and adults) to read. And while I didn't really like the first two films, I actually really liked the third film and thought the fourth film was pretty good as well. So, I gave Half-Blood Prince a shot earlier this year and was so bored I could barely make it through the entire film. In fact, I wouldn't have, if it hadn't been nominated for special effects Oscars (which also amazed me because those weren't so great either). Harry Potter fans can look at me in shock and call me a hater (and worse) but sorry, this movie was just plain boring, hard to sit through, and simply bad.


No surprise here. This movie was universally panned and fans of the book were appalled by Peter Jackson's adaptation of what was really a good novel. I saw this film in a near-empty theater (there was one other guy sitting somewhere behind me which made the experience that much more unsettling) and I couldn't help but laugh during many parts that clearly were not intended to evoke that reaction. Nonsensical and offensively bad, The Lovely Bones shows that Jackson should probably stick to playing with wizards and little people.

AVATAR (2009)

I know, it was the biggest movie of the year and people went back and saw it multiple times. But for every person who is shocked by my hatred for this movie I am just as shocked by its success. Overblown, underacted and with plot points that are so stupid they are laughable (unobtainium? REALLY?), Avatar was a 3 hour snooze fest that couldn't have ended soon enough. I have no love for James Cameron, quite the contrary, but if I was going to invest the cash and time to see this movie, I was still hoping to enjoy at least some of it. Unfortunately my enjoyment was limited to the 2 second time span when I realized it was the end of the film and I could get the hell out of there and do anything else - bang my head against the wall repeatedly, walk in circles on the bathroom rug for 3 hours, clean the litter box with a tweezers... you get the point. It was bad.


For the most part, my journey into Martin Scorsese's filmography in 2010 was an enlightening experience, seeing some really great early films I hadn't yet seen. Unfortunately, there were a couple of stumbling blocks as well, and the worst was his foray into musicals, New York, New York, which, on paper, should have worked. Starring Liza Minnelli and Robert DeNiro, the film is an epic study of a dysfunctional relationship that spans decades. What it actually is, however, is a really boring, overacted waste of film that, when I thought it couldn't get any worse, contains a 20 minute musical number that makes the film-halting "Broadway Melody" scene in Singing in the Rain look cohesive and relevant. Someone with Scorsese's long and illustrious filmography deserves a dud, but it was surprising that this was it.

SALT (2010)

I knew this film wasn't going to be rocket science, but when a friend and I went to see this one I thought we could at least experience some decent action, I could drool over Liev Schreiber and he could drool over Angelina Jolie. Hell, as a heterosexual woman I drool over Angelina Jolie sometimes. Instead, we were too distracted by the ridiculous Cold War espionage "plot", obscenely bad action scenes and worse acting to appreciate anything aesthetically. There were several times when we were just outright laughing in the theater because we couldn't believe what we were seeing, or supposed to be believing. Salt isn't even worth watching for its bad factor - give me one of those SyFy original movies over this one any day.


I got snookered into this one via Netflix. Apparently my recent rentals of Kurosawa films and my Netflix Instant queue full of independent films and foreign films of the 1950's and 1960's caused Netflix to decide that a fake documentary about a porn addict who loses his job and relationship to his girlfriend, only to find out that she's become a porn star herself and about to star in an epic orgy film unless he "rescues her" was right up my alley. Beware of "Suggestions for You", Netflix subscribers: for every unknown hidden gem there's a mind-numbingly bad suggestion waiting to jump out at you!


I know, duh. I think the only surprise about this film being on the list is that I watched it in the first place. To be honest with you, I have no idea why I watched it; even a glance back at my film journal doesn't give me any answers - I hadn't recently been on a diet of heavy foreign films and wanted to watch something stupid, I just watched the damn movie. Sharon Stone, who is supposed to be "the ultimate cougar" is about as sexy as a sloth and delivers her lines with the same vivacity. Normally I would just say "Shame on me" and leave it off the list as too obvious a choice, but the fact that I went into the movie realizing it was going to be a terrible and then still being surprised at how much worse it actually was than I expected is a pretty impressive feat for even a bad film.


If there's anything I can't stand in a film, it's pretentiousness, and Brief Interviews With Hideous Men, directed by John Krasinski has that in spades. Based on the writings of the late David Foster Wallace (who apparently is ivy league Generation Y's Kerouac) is a misogynistic look into the hearts and minds of men that throws in a collapsed relationship for good measure. Disjointed, terribly acted and so smug I wanted the film to grow a face so I could smack it, Hideous Men tells me that Krasinski maybe needs to stick to being the affable acting guy (or at least reexamine his choice of material).

W. (2008)

This film was just unfortunate from the beginning. Despite the fact I couldn't stand the subject, I thought I might find it interesting, particularly because director Oliver Stone is such a reactionary. The problem with W. doesn't lie in its actors, or even the story, really. It's just incredibly boring. Its biggest fault is the pacing, but it is also really disjointed and flops all over the place. But mostly, it's just plain boring. I could barely make it through this one, and truthfully only did so that I could give it an honest assessment. Stone is a polarizing director, and I do think he's a little crazy, but I think he makes some pretty good films, which makes W. such a major disappointment. (No comment about the commonality between my assessment of the film and its subject of course...)


Boy, before I saw The American this fall I sure didn't think I was going to be putting it on my "worst list". I'm a sucker for films where actors play against type, really enjoy George Clooney as an actor, and admire the work of director Anton Corbijn. Unfortunately, the film peaked after the first five minutes and then steadily went downhill from there. Ridiculous in concept, (why would you ever hire someone who looks like George Clooney to be a hit man who is supposed to "blend in"?) and paced with glacier-like speed, my friend and I were eventually unable to contain our snickering at the dozens of lingering shots of Clooney looking solemn, which finally turned to outright laughter during the film's ridiculous climax. I think the ending was supposed to be profound, but we both just went, "WHAT?!" and then proceeded to boo the credits. What a terrible, terrible movie. I saw it for free and still wanted my money back.

Best and Worst Films of 2010 - Honorable Mentions

Another year of film viewing has ended and it turned out surprisingly stronger than I had expected. Of the 155 films I watched in 2010, I came up with a whopping list of more than 25 films that could have been in contention for the top films of the year, which is somewhat unprecedented. Several films broke out of the large pool of "good, but not great" films, like Julie & Julia, Kick-Ass, Conversations with Other Women and The Other Guys, (I was as surprised as anyone how much I enjoyed that one) and classics like The Passion of Joan of Arc and La Strada were late-year viewings that proved once again that there are a plethora of excellent classic films I have yet to unearth.

So, for 2010, I had to expand my lists to include my regular top 11 (some years it has to be a top 10, unfortunately), a list of non-ranked "honorable mentions" that were in contention for, but didn't ultimately make the top 11, and of course, the bottom 10. In other years I've only gathered a bottom 5 list, but apparently with the abundance of good, you're going to have to take some bad too. And some were very, very bad.

As in other years, my lists are different from most others because they are not just comprised of new releases, but films that I saw for the first time, regardless of their release date. One quick disclaimer is that I have not seen the Coen Brothers' remake of True Grit yet, but considering I have a couple of films I saw in January of 2010 on my list, that shouldn't be an issue, should it blow my mind when I do see it in a week or two.

Agree? Disagree? I'd love to hear comments regarding either.


The following are films that I thought were great, but didn't make my final 11. They all come, highly recommended, however.


Director Juan Antonio Bardem's Spanish neo-realist film about deception, morality and redemption is gritty and riveting. Its stark black and white photography also affords a lot of amazing shots. Deep, but accessible, Death of a Cyclist was my first glimpse of a neo-realist film outside of Italy, and made me want to explore the genre further.

DISTRICT 9 (2009)

Anyone who knows me well knows that I have very little interest in or tolerance for science fiction; I'm just not wired that way and I've come to accept it. However, sometimes a film that is categorized as science fiction can transcend the usual boring morays of the genre with a great premise or story and for me, District 9 was one of those films. Part cautionary tale/part commentary on apartheid/part gross-out alien-monster film, I thought it was outstanding and thought-provoking without being heavy-handed.


This was one of the handful of films that I really struggled with not putting on my top 11 list, because I thought it was so outstanding. An Education is set in the 1960's and Peter Sarsgaard gives a tremendous performance as a mentor/svengali to a young girl (Carey Mulligan) whose intelligence and lust for life and culture beguile him. Mulligan is the star of the show, however, and her performance is both inspiring and heart-breaking. At the end of the film I remember telling my boyfriend Chris, "I want to be her."


When I saw Shutter Island, I was embarking on an as-yet-unfinished project of seeing every Martin Scorsese feature film or documentary made, and it was a great way to kick off the journey. Leonardo DiCaprio, who really has immense talent, gives an amazing performance in this atmospheric psychological thriller that, even after the cards have been revealed, gave me pause about what truly happened, and I love movies like that.


Another film I discovered during my Scorsese journey, this mammoth 3 hour documentary about the life of Bob Dylan not only focuses on the artist himself, but his generation and the historical events occurring during his rise. Filled with interviews from everyone imaginable, including Dylan himself, No Direction Home ended up being more than an excellent documentary; it turned me into a Dylan fan.


I haven't seen the remake of this film yet, but Tomas Alfredson's original, about a bullied young boy who becomes friends with a mysterious young girl is emotional, intriguing and above all, fresh and original. Alfredson isn't afraid to cross the line, including violence toward children and strange romances, and that makes Let the Right One In that much better.


Written, directed by and starring Gianni di Gregorio, Mid-August Lunch is a film I saw at this year's Milwaukee Film Festival. From start to finish, I was utterly charmed and I was either laughing or had a smile on my face, watching the hapless di Gregorio try to hold his own while waiting on and caring for a group of old ladies who have been left in his charge by various friends who dropped off their mothers so they could take the mid-August holiday of Ferragosto off and go to the beach. Mid-August Lunch is one of those films that I wish I could convince everyone to see, because it is truly a gem of a film.


I had the honor and pleasure of not only seeing Jean-Luc Godard's iconic Breathless on the big screen at the Milwaukee Film Festival this year, but it was the restored version as well. Regardless of the decks that were stacked against me that night; it was the third screening that night (on a week night); it was nearing the end of the festival and I was getting dog-tired; I was enraptured from frame one. The chemistry (yet subtle distance) between Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg was like watching a playful game of cat and mouse, where you know that it can't possibly end up well for either one of them. And Godard's in-your-face camerawork in the streets of a vital Paris was, pardon the pun, breathtaking.


Wong Kar Wai's beautiful In the Mood for Love is one of those movies that have been on my short list to see for years now, and it wasn't until I recently decided to finally sit down and watch it when I realized what I had truly missed, not having seen it. The tale of neighbors who find out their spouses are cheating on them with each other, the cuckolded pair, Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung begin a relationship that begins as a means of catharsis; reenacting how their spouses may have began their affair, but becomes much more emotional. Wong Kar Wei is one of the greatest directors of our time, and the exquisiteness of the film, the pain and beauty of the actors and their performances, and the haunting soundtrack had me in tears more than once.


There has been a lot of buzz about this film, primarily around its initial NC-17 rating for an explicit sex scene, (which, honestly, I didn't even remember, even after I read what the scene in question was) but it deserves a lot more respect for its intricate and well-told story and the amazing performances by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as a couple who meet cute and marry, though they probably never should have. Blue Valentine may leave you feeling a little bruised, but at its heart, it is an honest depiction of a real relationship without Hollywood's bells and whistles.


Up in the Air - yes, most people have seen it because it is a George Clooney film, but it really is a full-bodied, adult film.

The Last Station - if this film didn't star Hellen Mirren and Christopher Plummer, it may not have been quite as good, but their performances really made it enjoyable and gave us an idea of Tolstoy we may not have been aware of.

Freedom Riders/Soundtrack for a Revolution - these are two documentaries I saw at the Milwaukee Film Festival this year that focus on the civil rights movement of the 1960's. The former deals with mainly the Freedom Rides in the South, while the latter gives a broader overview of the movement, coupled with the protest songs participants sang. Both are first-class films.

My Dog Tulip - an animated film based on the memoirs of J.R. Ackerley and his beloved temperamental dog Tulip. Narrated by Christopher Plummer, My Dog Tulip is beautiful, emotional and hilarious.

Lemmy - Who would have thought a documentary about Motorhead front man Lemmy Kilmister would show up on my list? I saw this at the Milwaukee Film Festival this year, and the documentary not only had first-class production values (this was the first film for the directors, who were present at the screening) but its subject was fascinating as well. This warts and all (literally) documentary is accessible even for those like me who aren't into the hard rock music scene.