Favourite films of 2008…wait, what?

Memo to the author of this blog: it is March. Most people did this 3 months ago.

[ed: Bite me. I’ve been busy.]

I can’t keep waiting until I watch all the reportedly great movies from 2008 that I’ve not yet seen. I’ll just have to go ahead and pick my ten favourite films of last year now. The Wrestler be damned. Here you go, the top ten in alphabetical order:

  • The Brothers Bloom
  • The Dark Knight
  • Forgetting Sarah Marshall
  • Let The Right One In
  • Lion’s Den
  • Man On Wire
  • Milk
  • Slumdog Millionaire
  • Wall-E
  • Waltz With Bashir

A few like Cloverfield, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, It Might Get Loud and Pineapple Express just missed the list. And apparently all five I saw at Hot Docs were made in 2007, so none qualified for this list, though The Last Continent or Stranded: I’ve Come From A Plane That Crashed In The Mountains might have.

By the way, I don’t think Lion’s Den has made wide release yet, and I’m not sure it ever will, so keep your eyes peeled.

And, of course, a few films really disappointed me:

  • The Happening
  • Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull
  • Quantam Of Solace
  • Tropic Thunder

Yeah, that’s right, Tropic Thunder. Maybe it was all the people talking it up, but my god did I ever dislike that movie. If you took Danny McBride out of it I’m not sure I would’ve laughed even once. And Tom Cruise…christ, that shtick was annoying. I’ll be entirely happy never to watch that again.

So…what did I miss?

"I slappa da bass."

On Saturday Nellie wanted to see I Love You, Man (imdb | rotten tomatoes) and I needed a laugh after a long day at work, so to the AMC at Yonge & Dundas we went. Nellie has an alarming affection for both Paul Rudd and Jason Segel, and I like them both (in a pretty different way though) and love Rashida Jones. Besides, it just looked funny in the trailers, and funny was what I wanted.

Happily, we both really liked it. It was kind of in the vein of Knocked Up, I guess, except that it never lapsed into relationship cliche. The relationship between Rudd and Jones didn’t feel Hollywood, it felt pretty real. Other characters, like Segel’s and the hilarious asshole played by Jon Favreau, were sillier, but always funny. Rudd actually played it pretty straight, except for one scene (from which this post takes its title) that had me almost crying and I’m pretty sure was just Paul Rudd being Paul Rudd. Lots of other laughs through the whole movie too.

Side note: Rush featured very prominently in this film (they were actually in it). We also saw the trailer for Adventureland (imdb) and a character in the trailer has a funny bit involving “Spirit Of The Radio”…is Rush the official band of 2009? Does Geddy Lee have incriminating video of one or more studio heads? Weird.

Hummertarded

I apologize for the poor quality of these images, but I just had to show you the ridiculousness that we walked past last night on the way home from Smokeless Joe.

You’ve probably all seen a stretch hummer limo before. They’re the preferred ride of gaggles of horny, be-tuxed teenagers and d-list actors trying to make a splash. We saw this one last night:

But take a look in front of it:

That behemoth was about two feet higher than the “regular” stretch hummer limo and longer. We had to get a closer look.

The engine hood of the truck looked bigger than anything my father uses to haul several tons of blueberries/bees/what have you. Sure enough, a little googling revealed that it was a Ford F-650. It also holds about 30 people and has an 1800 watt sound system. What. The. Christ. This was way more than a stretch hummer; what the hell is this monstrosity called?

Ah.

We saw this display on Adelaide Street, west of University. Not surprising; only in clubland would enough douchebags congregate to warrant the arrival of the almighty Mammoth. All hail.

Juno: daughter of Saturn, mother of Mars and goddess of horrible taste in music

The Junos are set to air tonight. I could not care less about this fact — the Junos have long since proved irrelevant to anyone with even a passing appreciation for music as an art — except that the disgust felt by music writers at the nominees is, well…delicious.

From Ben Rayner at the Toronto Star:

It’s Juno Awards season again, and we all know what that means: Nitpicking, kvetching, bitching, bellyaching, bemoaning and generally venting our displeasure in the direction of whomever the Canadian recording industry has singled out for celebration this year.

Still, we watch, don’t we? And while we groan and shake our heads and grumble “What a farce! How meaningless!” whenever someone hands Nickelback or Michael Bublé – or Bryan Adams’s designated representative in Canada – another one of those little glass statues, we also secretly long for F—ed Up to take home that “alternative album of the year” award because … well … because that would be freakin’ awesome. Especially if Anne Murray has to present the trophy.

And, thus, we are complicit in the whole, hated awards-ceremony process.

Robert Everett-Green of the Globe and Mail was a little less reflective:

“Thinking about this year’s Junos makes my head hurt. They’ve already elevated Nickelback above all other Canadian musicians. The rock louts from Hanna, Alta., have five nominations, more than anyone else. My first response was to close my eyes to the horror. Go ahead, Juno, give the awards to Don Cherry, for all I care.

Juno’s idiotic nomination rules give an automatic berth in key categories to acts that sell the most records, and have put Nickelback in contention for album and group of the year. To suggest this band’s receipts prove it’s the best Canada has to offer is like saying nobody in this country makes better sandwiches than Subway. Bear in mind that Neil Young’s Chrome Dreams II got no nominations at all. Neither did excellent albums by Shad, k.d. lang, the Sadies, We Are Wolves and Cadence Weapon.”

Poor Nickelback has been taking a beating in recent weeks over what is seeming more and more like canonization from the Junos — not surprising, since it’s the favor of the Canadian recording industry’s favor that decides the evening’s winners. But even the Edmonton Sun slammed them today:

“‘You don’t have a clur (sic) about music. How can you say a washed-up old man like Bob Dylan is better than Nickelback?’

I got that e-mail nearly eight years ago, and I’ve had it taped up near my desk ever since. Mainly because it’s hilarious on multiple levels — clur? But along with that, it neatly encapsulates the essential difference between music critics and Nickelback fans.

Which is, in a nutshell: We think Nickelback sucks. And they think Nickelback rules. And neither one is going to change the other’s mind.”

It’s too bad that the Junos haven’t seized on all the international critical attention on the honest-to-goodness great music coming out of Canada in recent years, instead rewarding the likes of Nickelback and all facsimilies thereof and throwing in token nominations to the likes of Fucked Up or The Stills (nominated for best new group…puzzling, as they released their first album in 2003, I think). But it’s nothing new. The Junos have always sucked; that’s why god invented the Polaris Music Prize.

Oh, and a final thought from Mr. Rayner, one which lifted me from my chair and led me to applaud:

“Great Big Sea: I live with a Newfie. I know dozens of Newfies. I lived in Glovertown for six years when my family first moved to Canada. The broad consensus, from what I gather, is: embarrassing.”

Hear hear.

In which Dan (officially) starts to lose it

Habs won woo. Duke and Memphis lost, so my bracket’s dead, long live Nellie’s bracket.

Slaughterhouse-Five is done. Next up: Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance, since it’s been on my shelf for, oh, nine years.

Life my be a carnival, but work is a circus. (Workus!) Exercise and proper nutrition have taken a back seat (for example: I would punch a nun right now for a Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich), as has coherent thought and interestingness.

BSG is over, but Kings has started. Not a fair trade, but it has King Swearengen, so that’s something.

This day’s gone on too long. This’d better be the best 5 hours of sleep ever.

Is there such a thing as a combination calculator/alarm clock (aside from my Blackberry)?

My apologies for the poor blogging lately. I have once again re-entered the annual period at work which, well, turns my brain to butternut squash puree. I quite literally go to sleep picturing spreadsheets and wake up calculating revenue projections in my head these days. I have another week or so of this delightful experience, including this weekend I think, and then should return to some sense of normalcy.

In between all this I did manage to make my pics for Hot Docs, finish Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five and bear witness to my Montreal Canadiens recent swoon. Hopefully last night’s thumping of Atlanta was the turning of the corner.

How does a homeless junkie get a broadcast license anyway?

By now you’ve likely heard about the episode of the Fox News show Red Eye (if you haven’t seen it already, download the WMV) wherein late night panel show host Greg Gutfeld mocked the Canadian military. Predictably, this got the Canadian public, pundits and politicians all in a palaver. Today Gutfeld apologized…kind of. It was one of those “I’m sorry you got so offended by what I said” apologies. So Canadians are a little less pissed, but pissed still.

I’m not. Make no mistake, I would take great umbrage with anyone who questioned the dedication or sacrifice of our military, if I were inclined to respect their opinion in the first place. But this was five minutes on a 3AM panel show. On Fox News, which is a laughable network to begin with. Featuring four people no one’s ever heard of and a host who used to run Maxim magazine. Oh…my wounded pride.

Look, when the crazy guy on the sidewalk starts yelling at you as you pass him, do you get offended? No. He’s shown no signs of ever having been insightful, so you chalk it up to the fact that he’s batshit insane and you ignore him. Giving him attention will just make him act crazier.

So now a lot of people who were entirely unaware of either Greg Gutfeld or Red Eye before the weekend have heard of them, and know the time and channel they’re on TV. How sorry do you think Gutfeld and Fox News really are?

"Please Oskar…Be me, for a little while."

I heard a ton of buzz last year about Let The Right One In (imdb | rotten tomatoes), a Swedish movie about coming of age and, uh, vampires. I heard it referred to as the best (read: least ridiculous) vampire movie many had seen, and it was a sweet story about kids to boot, and it was also done with style. Given the near-unanimous praise it garnered (it rates a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes) there was more than a bit of outrage when it wasn’t even nominated for the best foreign language Oscar.

Even considering all the hype between the release date and when I finally watched it this morning, and the high expectations that come with it, I really liked this film. I saw one review on RT comparing it to Guillermo Del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone, and I can definitely see that. It was horror, but not in the way we’ve come to know it in North America, full of laughable cliches, improbable setups and over-the-top violence. It was tension and fantasy in mundane, dreary and dreary circumstances…you know, life.

It was certainly the most unusual vampire movie I’ve seen. It was beautifully shot. It was creepy and touching and almost cute sometimes. Highly recommended.

The first single from Born To Rind

Somebody needs to stop us from going shopping around Church and Wellesley. Between the meat we bought at Cumbrae’s this morning and the cheese we bought at About Cheese (Le Mont-Jacob pasteurised cow milk from Quebec, Parmigianno Regianno raw cow milk from Italy, Thunder Oak gouda) we’ll be well-fed, but much poorer. We also got some tasty bread at About Cheese, as well as some spruce beer and maple beer. Very interesting indeed.

There must be some kind of way out of here

Spoiler alert: I shall herein be talking about last night’s series finale of Battlestar Galactica. Look upon me, ye laggards, and despair.

Oh, don’t worry, I won’t give away details. I’ll just say that I didn’t think much of it. The big mystical destiny bits seemed forced, if they were resolved at all. The action was ok, but…did we even see five seconds of Viper dogfights? C’mon. The ending…meh.

I don’t know, maybe I’ve just been spoiled by the near-perfect finale of The Shield, but this epic ending left me feeling pretty underwhelmed, especially considering some of the fantastic seasons finales the show managed over the years.

I think I’ll go watch the miniseries again.