Film-American Art Form?


The Lists are back.  Another year is gone.  Did I see everything?  No.  In fact, 2013 was my slowest movie year since I started keeping track in 2001, only 106 visits to the theatre.  Despite the slow year, I did set a couple personal records.  I went to a movie every day for 32 days straight and I saw 40 (all different) movies in the month of July.  I spent most of the year working on my own movie, The Tour, which to date is nearly done.  Please keep your ears to the ground for future updates but FYI we are trying to get into a little film festival called, Cannes.  You probably haven’t heard of it but wish us luck anyway.  Enough chit chat, here are the lists for best movies, music, TV, food and more.

Best Movies 2013

1. Nebraska – The Oscars are about to start as I write this, I hope Nebraska is awarded again and again.  This is one of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen.  The acting performances from top to bottom are flawless.  The B&W cinematography is as gorgeous as I’ve ever seen.  Yes, Nebraska the state is where I am from, but Nebraska the movie is where I am from too.  It’s also where I want to go, again and again and again.

2. The Way Way Back – Not much better than a coming of age story that is filled with both nostalgia and laughter.  Just about every movie on my best of list made me laugh and cry.  The Way Way Back is no exception.

3. Short Term 12 – The stand out performance in this incredibly well acted movie was by Lakieth Stanfield who was in the short film this feature was based on.  He is going to be a star.

4. In A World… – This movie is about the world of movie trailer voice over.  It’s just real enough to be taken completely seriously and just fantastic enough to dream about at night.

5. Inside Llewyn Davis – The Coen brothers don’t hit it out of the park every time for me, but they sure did with this.  Such wonderful sadness and emotion in all the songs.  Some may be confused by the ties that bind the beginning and end but to me that is one of the most inspiring choices.

6. Le Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty) – OK, if you read my worst of list you might see some movies that could be compared on some level to this one.  The Great Beauty however takes it’s meandering and brooding to levels that are impossible to overlook.  You’ll fall in love with Rome again upon seeing this film.  You don’t need to have walked the streets in person to have walked the streets.  You just need to see this.

7. The Kings of Summer – I think everyone wishes they had their own fort when they were a kid.  I think everyone wishes that the world they created when they were kids would last forever.  I think everyone wishes that even if briefly the loved ones around them see into their world and understand.

8. Jagten (The Hunt) – This one can be a very tough watch.  Mads Mikkelsen is wrongly accused of assaulting a child and his punishment is never ending no matter what truths are revealed.

9. Mud – Alright, alright, alright.  Matty McConaughey is killing it y’all.  I thought Mud was his best film of the year but Dallas Buyer’s Club was also amazing, just missed the list.  MM can’t seem to do any wrong.  In this film he plays a convict drifter who befriends a young kid who just wants the people around him to do the right thing.

10. Pacific Rim – The first blockbuster of the list.  This was my favorite popcorn movie of the year and it stands up with the best action movies over the last 10 years.

11. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – I didn’t care for Hunger 1, but this sequel hit every note.  I was thoroughly wrapped up and entertained.  Philip Seymour Hoffman is great in this, as is the case in almost all of his movies.  Very sad that he won’t be dazzling us for many years to come.

12. Spring Breakers – This was at the bottom of lots of people’s lists.  Why?  It’s a nearly perfect satire of a way of life that so many people revere and revile.  Satire does not mean spoof and doesn’t have to be funny.

13. Sightseers – If you’re a deranged killer and you’re dating another deranged killer then you two should go see this movie.  You’ll love it.

14. Side Effects – This is a trippy flick about psychosis and psychotics.  They are not the same.  Those commercials for depression meds won’t look the same after seeing this picture.

15. Trance – Another trip fest, this time amnesia themed.  A tip, if you’re seeing a hypnotherapist please be cautious.  Also, don’t steal – it doesn’t always pay off like you think it would.

16. Captain Phillips – Did someone tell you recently that Tom Hanks doesn’t have it anymore?  If yes, then stab that person.  He’s still got it.  The final scene of the movie would have deserved an Oscar all by itself.

17. Her – This is the most controversial movie on my list.  I absolutely loved it until 30 minutes left.  I won’t ruin the ending except to say I was a little disappointed.  The look/costumes/music are fantastic.

18. Blue Jasmine – I don’t know Woody Allen personally, most of us probably don’t.  Some have a hard time commenting on the work alone.  Blue Jasmine is great.  Cate Blanchett deserves the Oscar and Louie C.K. and Andrew Dice Clay deserve more good acting roles.

19. Philomena – Steve Coogan is a national treasure.  Even though he was a total ass in this movie, I’m thrilled he helped get this wonderful movie made.

20. Frozen/Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa – This isn’t so much a tie as it is an option for those of you with kids.  They can watch Frozen, and then sing it so much you hate it.  You on the other hand can watch Bad Grandpa and laugh like you were a teenager again.  Both highly recommended.




Worst (Most Disappointing) Movies 2013 – I’m finding it harder and harder to make a worst of list.  Mainly because I firmly believe that if a filmmaker believe strongly in their project then it is a success.  It doesn’t matter what I think, or what anyone does.  I also don’t want to offend any of my friends who may have had a hand in any of the movies that I didn’t like.  But enough political correctness, I just didn’t like the following movies, and here’s why.

10. The Wolf of Wallstreet – One of my 5 favorite directors of all time, Marty.  One of my 10 favorite actors of all time, Leo.  More nudity and debauchery than one would think possible in a single movie.  What went wrong?  I thought it was an hour too long, and basically a rehash of the same 2 scenes over and over again.  Screwing and using drugs like mad, followed by an “inspirational” speech.  I would have liked it more had the FBI characters been more heavily involved and shown an alternate view to the goings on.

9. The Broken Circle Breakdown – OK, no one saw this but me.  It’s a Flemish language flick about a lovely music inspired couple who lose a daughter to cancer.  It’s really well made and acted (like Wolf above) but it’s just so depressing.  Please don’t see this movie unless you want to cry for 6 years.

8. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints –  Lot’s of brooding in a Terrance Malik-y way, circa the last 5 years anyway.  The acting was fine and interesting but the story seemed to be drug out in a way that just made it fall flat.  The best part of this movie was the nacho that I picked up off the floor and ate anyway.

7. After Earth – Ok, lots of folks have called this the worst movie of the year and I can tell why.  The first third is almost unwatchable.  The character development is devoid of character and the sets look like something I spent on my $35,000 movie.  Oh wait, my sets look real.  These looked like toilet paper rolls painted with watercolors.  On the plus side, I did like the final act of the movie.  Once I got used to the flaws and just accepted the world, I started to enjoy it.  The battle with the monster was pretty fun.

6. The Heat – OK, I like Melissa McCarthy a lot, but these next two reviews won’t indicate that.  This movie would have been a lot better had it been entitled, The Not Even Lukewarm.  The jokes were as fresh as a dirty diaper and the story was as firm as a colostomy bag filled with the typical contents of a colostomy bag.  My favorite part was when I realized it wasn’t Identity Thief.

5. Identity Thief – Which brings us to this.  If you saw the trailer, then you saw enough.  You don’t want to know that they try to have a sentimental ending.  It’s a hard R raunchy comedy, don’t try to move me.  Unless by move me you mean make me really have to go to the bathroom.  I did and it was more enjoyable.

4. To The Wonder – OK, it’s Terrance Malik getting Terrance Malik-y in a last 5 years sort of way.  If you enjoy movies about the backs of people’s heads then this is the one for you.  Dear, Mr. Malik, please give us an opportunity to understand the feelings of the characters instead of simply meandering around the moments directly before and after the supposed motivation.  I say supposed because we never see it, ever.  Maybe it doesn’t exist or maybe I should start using drugs.

3. Upstream Color – OK, drugs come to mind again with this one.  What drug was Mr. Carruth taking when piecing this together?  Was it a drug derived from the decaying corpse of a piglet in a river?  I’m guessing yes.  If that question intrigues you, then see this movie.  I can almost see why someone might like this movie a lot, I almost convinced myself that I did for a moment or two.

2. Man of Steel – I’m just going to say it, Lois Lane was written terribly in this movie.  You’re not supposed to hate Lois Lane!!!  This is certainly not the only problem with the film but when you strike out with something so simple, then not much good will follow.  Also, since when did Superman not care about killing pedestrians?  A whole bunch of innocent bystanders get killed in this and it’s not even mentioned despite the fact that we’re supposed to care that he kills Zod.  Spoiler alert.

1. Only God Forgives – Thank you, Josh Lindquist for joining me for this.  You can attest that the second we walked out of the theatre I said that this was the worst movie of the year.  For a movie that looked so cool, how was it so not cool?  Ryan Gosling is the coolest guy on earth, he made dating a doll seem fun.  He could not save this movie.  Scene after scene of slow mo posturing followed by meaningless imagery.  There was such potential for some awesome character revelations and plot twists yet none of that happened.  Exactly what you should logically think will happen, does happen.  Hollywood, here are 10 movies that could be re-made.  Just do them well next time!!  Thanks.

Best TV Drama 2013 – OK, this was a fantastic year for dramatic TV – and the Aussie version of Rake took the year off.  I have a change at the top, which you’ll see unless you’re blind or stop reading right now.  Honorable mention for the year are Bates Motel, House of Cards, Top of the Lake.  BTW, House of Cards was the only Netflix/Online show I watched.  Maybe next year I’ll have an online content list?

1. Hannibal, Season 1 on NBC – Ahhhhhhhh!!! Breaking Bad isn’t #1!!!!  Shit!!!!!!  The sky is falling!!!!!!!  Calm down, I put a lot of thought into this.  Hannibal is only the most provocative thing I’ve seen on Netwrok TV, ever.  It’s more violent and gore-filled than many HBO/Showtime shows (not all) and it’s wonderfully written, acted, directed and produced.  Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy are both exceptionally creepy and fascinating.

2. Breaking Bad, Season 5 part 2 on AMC – OK, don’t let me diminish the love for Breaking Bad.  From start to finish, this was the best series on TV, ever.  The finale quenched every thirst.  I’ve looked back at the episode and don’t see any flaws nor would I venture down any other avenues.  Walter White’s story arc (and Bryan Cranston’s portrayal)  was thoroughly epic, exhilarating and undeniably beautiful.

3. Game of Thrones, Season 3 on HBO – My only complaint about this season was that the Red Wedding wasn’t shockingly brutal enough.  Do yourself a favor and check Youtube for reactions of this scene.  Classic.

4. The Americans, Season 1 on FX – From the complete submersion into an early 80’s environment to the top notch story this show kept me at the edge of my seat and wanting for more each and every week.  Season 2 started out with a bang, so catch up if you’re behind.

5. The Bridge, Season 1 on FX – Can we get some more Latin American stories and actors on TV and the big screen, please?  The Bridge isn’t solely a Latin American story but this border world is one we need to see more of.  Demian Bichir and Catalina Sandino Moreno (both Oscar nominees) shine in this drama, as does Diane Kruger and Ted Levine.

Best TV Comedy 2013 – More changes at the top in the comedy ranks.  Louie took the year off, so it’s dominance has ended.  Honorable mention are Conan, Futurama, Maron, The League, Nathan For You, The Ben Show, The Jeselnik Offensive, Inside Amy Schumer.

1. Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Season 10/11 on ABC – I didn’t laugh as hard all year than during the first 20 minutes of Kimmel.  My hat is off to Jimmy and his writing staff for creating the most amazing monologue and original comedy bits on TV.  I only missed one episode all year (12/10/2013) and that was because my cable box broke.  No one can beat Conan or Dave when they go into the world and interact with people, but Dave hasn’t done it in 10 years and Conan doesn’t do it enough.  Jimmy doesn’t really do it at all yet has found other ways to be amazingly hilarious.  His Youtube challenges are simply amazing, his skewering of ABC programming is amazing, his demoralization of Matt Damon is amazing, his game where he counts the word “amazing” on The Bachelor is amazing.  All of it is so… amazing.  8!!!!

2. Legit, Season 1 on FX – Jim Jefferies is from Australia and he is a bad man.  So bad that he does nice things for handicapped people and treats them like human beings.  He’s the worst.  His show however, is rad.

3. Inside Comedy, Season 1 on Showtime – You’d think a show where famous comedians are interviewed by a Canadian comedian named David Steinberg would be stupid.  Well you’d be wrong.

4. Hello Ladies, Season 1 on HBO – It’s nice to find out that David Merchant can write melancholy hilarity just as well as Ricky Gervais.  Well, maybe Ricky is still better but, like I said, I didn’t watch Derek on Netflix.  I want to.

5. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Season 9 on FXX – Best episode of the year is the third where the gang can’t even get Paddy’s nominated for a “best bar” award.  It’s a very subtle jab at race relations in the Congo.

Best Albums 2013 – When one creates a list of best albums they should seriously consider listing albums that they like a lot.  If that doesn’t work they could always go to and steal one of the many lists therein.  People will think you’re smart.

1. Haim – Days Are Gone – I think I may have told everyone I know about these LA chicks a million billion times.  If not, please check them out as they’re now one of my all time favorites.  I hope they keep churning out great jams, and jellies.

2. Courtney Barnett – The Double EP, A Sea of Split Peas – She is from Australia and probably grew up in a Kangaroo’s pouch.

3. Chvrches – The Bones of What You Believe – This album is red, mostly.

4. Lissie – Back to Forever – I really like female lead singers, I think.

5. Neko Case – Worse Things Get…. – The album title is much longer.

6. Arcade Fire – Reflektor –  These freak-shows played on top of the Capital Records building.  I have always liked them less than others but this album was a pleasant surprise.

7. Billie Joe & Norah – Foreverly – Covers of Everly Brothers songs.  Billie Joe is the Green Day guy and Norah is some awesomely talented chick I’ve never heard of before, except for all her other albums.

8. Pink Martini – Get Happy – I just listened to this album for the first time a week ago.  Glad I didn’t forget about it like I did their concert.  See best events for story.

9. Diggem – Meet Me at the Chain – I was lucky enough to have these guys play some music in my movie.  It’s cool to have cool friends.  This album reminded me a lot of Harry Connick Jr.’s, Star Turtle.

10. Daniel Christian and Mark Adams – A Moment Vanishing – My first ever Kickstarter contribution helped this album get made and I have to say I’m very impressed with Dan, Mark and all of my other friends who make their own music – and live the lives of artists.  Dan’s album Speak is also excellent.

This page will hopefully track reviews of movies. Prior to me having the time to take the enormous gamble of spending 2 hours in a theater I will post some knowledge that all film viewers should learn prior to analyzing anything. Let’s start with a quote from Don Simpson. If you don’t know who that is and you don’t know who Russ Meyer is-this won’t be fun for you.


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