It’s The Schleicher Spin’s annual “Box of Kittens” consolation prize to those snubbed by the Academy. A lot of kitties in boxes will be going out this year.
My dear Kirsten, you tried to pull a Natalie Portman, but l’Academie snubbed you. Michael Fassbender, you starred in every film under the sun (hey, it worked for Jessica Chastain – nominated for the least of her roles in The Help) but it didn’t get you a nod.
Also snubbed this year – Tilda Swinton, Charlize Theron, Albert Brooks, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ryan Gosling, Patton Oswalt and Michael Shannon.
But cheer up, the kitties are on their way.
Rooney Mara, Gary Oldman and Terrence Malick – congrats – I thought you were going to get snubbed, too, but you snuck in. No kitties for you.
Here are your Nominees for Best Picture, which I predict to be a two-horse race between the year’s most overrated films, The Descendants and The Artist, with Scorsese’s out-of-character Hugo as the dark horse:
- War Horse
- The Descendants
- The Artist
- The Tree of Life (hooray!)
- Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (what? really?)
- Midnight in Paris
- The Help
My favorite piece of short fiction to appear in The New Yorker last year was hands-down Michael Ondaatje’s The Cat’s Table – a poignant and evocative piece about an eleven year-old Sri Lankan boy’s coming of age on the high seas while sailing on a rowdy cruise ship (The Oronsay) to boarding school in England.
I was overjoyed to discover it was part of a larger novel released in October of last year. I was puzzled to find the story that appeared in The New Yorker was not a straight excerpt and had instead been parsed and elaborated on in long form during the first half of the novel of the same name. In this extended tale, the full twenty-one days of the early 1950’s voyage are realized and a parade of new characters traverses the decks.
The Cat’s Table refers to the not-so-enviable table in the back of the dining room where the young boy (Michael) sat along with two other boys (the wild Cassius and the sickly Ramadhin) and a rag-tag team of adults including a jazzy wisdom-spewing washed-up musician (Mr. Mazappa) and a mysteriously quiet English bird-lady (Miss Lasqueti). The unsupervised trio of rascals have the run of the ship, exploring every nook and cranny and soaking up every story and incident from the revolving door of worldly adults in the their midst. Mystery and adventure, but also misfortune and melancholy soak the ship as it heads half-way across the globe touching on Asia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Continue reading
People don’t listen to music the same way they used to. Everything is downloadable. We pick our favorites on a song-by-song basis and almost gone now is the extended play and enjoyment of a full album/cd. Even I fall victim to this with iTunes and my iPad. But I’ll still listen to CD’s in my car on occasion, and my stereo at home is so old it not only has a 3-disc CD changer by also duel cassette players! I keep it because the surround sound speakers are pretty bad-ass, but it also makes me feel like by never upgrading (who needs to with all the other portable devices now?) in my own insignificant way I’m sticking it to the man.
There are some albums I will never tire of and will always find a home in my car or stereo. Here are three albums (not surprisingly all from my high school or college days) that I love to listen to every track in entirety in order over and over. Sure, more than three albums fit this bill, but when it comes to something like Muse’s Absolution or Wolfmother’s debut album – I gotta be in the mood to listen to stuff like that. These three all-time favorites I don’t need to be in any kind of mood to listen to. At any hour on any day in any given year, I could pop these babies in and not skip a beat or miss a lyric.
1. Weezer – The Blue Album – (1994) I’m not sure, but this may have been one of the first CD’s I ever bought when I was a freshman in high school. And it still plays like a champ – ahh – quality technology these CD’s are. Favorite Track: Holiday
A Look Back at 2011:
Box office receipts were down in 2011 – but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t still a very solid year for cineastes. A sluggish economy; the ascendance of launching specialty films through VOD; and an unseemly glut of similarly minded, awkwardly titled sequels, prequels, threequels, reboots, preboots, 3D flicks, animated tales and family films left most moviegoers either broke, confused or disillusioned. Despite this seeming rut, there were still plenty of diamonds in the rough both in the art houses and the cineplexes during this long, weird year in film. Like Smetana’s Die Moldau (used so righteously by Terrence Malick in The Tree of Life) these great films whispered to us quietly at first, almost like a hum from the distant past…and then announced themselves with bombast. Memory, myth and the magic of cinema were boldly on display for those willing to indulge.
For those lucky and daring enough to see it, Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul took us down the cosmic rabbit hole and cycled through time in Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (a film technically from 2010, but that didn’t see its limited release stateside until March 2011). It was a fitting way to start the year, as what emerged from this cosmic cycling for the observant filmgoer was nostalgia run gloriously amuck. All year-long nostalgia was evidenced in just about anything that gained traction – from multiplex concoctions like Super 8 and Captain America, to art house fare like Midnight in Paris and The Artist, to populist Oscar-grab flicks like Hugo and War Horse. This longing for the simpler, happier days of the past seemed to be at war with films overwhelmed by an impending doom (see Melancholia, Take Shelter or even Margin Call). Filmmakers were simultaneously hung over from the global economic crisis and fascinated by the 2012 apocalypse predictions. Meanwhile, the big studios lazily greenlit a ton of stuff we’ve seen before…but in handing these projects over to up-and-coming directors trying to prove something rather than the usual hacks, films like X-Men: First Class, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol were far more entertaining than they had any right to be. Continue reading
A silent film star of romantic adventures named George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) refuses to ride the wave of the future at the onset of talkies and instead watches his career and marriage disintegrate while an ingenue he helped land her first role named Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) becomes the toast of Hollywood.
Michael Hazanavicius’ The Artist is a film that never allows you to forget that you are watching a film. From the opening moment where we are in a film within a film to the closing dance number, The Artist is self-aware and as in love with itself as George Valentin is with his stardom. It’s also a lovingly mounted and pure homage to silent films…but it’s the type of silent film it aims to be that is the major problem and prevents it from rising above charming gimmick status. Continue reading
Happy New Year from The Schleicher Spin!
We’ve finally reached the year named after my favorite comedy of all-time (yes, I’m talking about Roland Emmerich’s 2012 – have I not told you already how much I love this film?) and I couldn’t be more stoked! We have so much to look forward to this year: Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, the US presidential election, the Mayan Apocalypse and 27 new reality shows starring the Kardashians!
But first…a look back on 2011. It was a record-breaking year in terms of readership here at The Spin and we couldn’t have done it without the tireless commenting and blogging of our friends across the blogosphere: Sam Juliano, Jason Marshall, Dianne Glave, John Lehman, John Greco, Prakash Jashnani, Julio Ibanez, Christopher Tait, The Guy from Condemned Movies, CC Yager, Matt Stewart, Matterspamer, ScarletSp1der, Maurizio Roca, Bobby Myers, Stephen M, Nicky D, Boz and everyone else who has stopped by and shared their thoughts this past year.
Here are some of the highlights from 2011:
- Two Posts from The Spin were certified as Freshly Pressed by WordPress: Guest Blogger Nicky D’s highly controversial Best Comedies of All Time list and my review of Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
- The most talked about film of the year was Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life.
- The most popular feature was yet again the Boardwalk Empire weekly episode guide.
- The most bewildering (and ignored) post was my bizarre attempt at combining film criticism with comedy in The Mirror of Film.
- My proudest moment was the launch of my new digital literary magazine, The Stone. Stay tuned in 2012 for future issues!
And what’s in store for 2012?
- Reviews of Michael Ondaatje’s new novel The Cat’s Table and hopefully of all those films I missed at the tail end of 2011 (Hugo, The Artist and A Separation)
- The 6th Annual Davies Awards in Film
- More issues of The Stone
- More Guest Bloggers (hopefully)
- …and coverage of the year’s most anticipated film: Christopher “Fritz” Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises