Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My Favorite Posts/Blogs from 2010

As I did around this time last year, I wanted to give back to the blogosphere and post some links to articles from 2010 that really inspired me, made me think, sometimes made laugh and just plain entertained the hell out of me. More importantly, these various writings and the authors that spawned them taught me that I have a lot to learn about writing and about conveying my thoughts in a coherent and entertaining fashion as all of these posts did so well. This is by no means a comprehensive list and it was a real challenge picking only one example from each of these blogs as there is so much quality on each and every one. Also, my profuse apologies to anyone I might have omitted. And by all means, check these blogs out and support their creative endeavors. I have a choice quote from said post along with a link to it. Enjoy!

"Conan is made after all by John Milius that combat history nut friend of Coppola and Paul Schrader. Dino De Laurentis was able to give it a huge budget, and it's all up there on the screen, a huge budgeted spectacle of the old order, with thousands of extras and vast sets, elaborate city and outpost scenes, full loads of horses, including most impressively a huge temple exterior on a hilltop and a vast interior mountain cave that looks like something out of an early Argento..."
- "Great Films of the 80s: CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982)" - Acidemic

"Soderbergh seems after a little less conversation and instead juxtaposes moving images, moving adroitly through a man’s memory to examine all these subjects and more. Employing footage of a 27-year-old Stamp from the film Poor Cow (1967) for flashbacks was an inspired choice, while the low key piano score by Cliff Martinez haunts the action beautifully."
- "Alain Renais Makes Get Carter" - This Distracted Globe

"Even conceding all that - and conceding that Beatty's ideas as a director frequently outstrip his ability to use the camera - Dick Tracy is still one of my favorite early-'90s tentpoles. It is so deliberately, carefully shallow, so conceptually audacious; and yes, so unearthly beautiful in every last frame."
- "Blockbuster History: Comic Strip Movies" - Antagony & Ecstasy

"The film is not cinema; it is a pop corn movie and in between the tired jokes about climbing five flights of stairs to reach the apartment there remains a bit of charm to the movie. The two leads win you over."
- "Barefoot in the Park" - Twenty Four Frames

"This is the height of feminist horror but it also speaks to the innate power and subversive bravery of the horror genre itself. In my opinion, Helen speaks for every horror fan, every true artist and every minority poised to shove back when she utters this next line to her happy to paint the whole world pink, bourgeois husband…"
- "Candyman: The Last Temptation of Helen Lyle" - Kindertrauma

"Sometimes an actor has to go through an entire career before someone finds them a role that's made just for them. In 1997, Forster got that role and even though it wasn't written for him (Elmore Leonard created the character in the original novel upon which it's based, Rum Punch) it seemed written for him and Tarantino may have had him in mind when adapting the screenplay (although I have no proof of that). Seeing Forster play Max Cherry is more like seeing a 56 year old bail bondsman named Max Cherry who bears a striking resemblance to Robert Forster, if that makes any sense. Forster is Cherry, Cherry is Forster."
- "The Wanderers: Robert Forster" - Cinema Styles

"Creepshow has a vibe to it that never fails to pull me in. The movie is so amiable and so imbued with a good time spirit that it overrides any serious critical thoughts. With its replication of a comic book's visuals, it's the most meticulously designed film of Romero's career and it's sadly the last time he was able to have that killer combo of money and artistic freedom. Everything since then for him has been a little compromised in one respect or the other so that makes Creepshow really something to appreciate."
- "The Most Fun You'll Ever Have Being Scared" - Dinner With Max Jenke

"The Rapture is a remarkable film that avoids the mundane, the extraneous. It’s not important how Randy and Sharon decide to keep seeing each other after their initial hook-up. Randy’s conversion isn’t important either. This isn’t a story about a couple or even a corrupt world. It is a story about faith—why people seek it, how they find it, and how they lose it."
- "TOERFIC: The Rapture" - Ferdy on Films

"Perfect has a terrible reputation but it's actually kind of interesting in a time capsule way even though, no, it's not particularly good. It's angsty take on journalistic ethics is fairly typical of movies but it's an eye opener to watch this and remember that working out regularly was once looked down on as a fad and there's also the constant and now shocking reminder that magazine articles use to have major cultural impact."
- "25th Anniversary: Jamie Lee Curtis is Perfect" - The Film Experience

"Although “Is Your Love Strong Enough” didn’t save LEGEND and only made it to number 22 on English charts, I’m a sucker for Bryan Ferry’s ultra-smooth and sincere voice. That this song has its roots in their masterpiece, “Avalon,” makes it even more appealing. And then there’s lovely Mia Sara running among fairies, devils and unicorns…"
- "Friday Song: Bryan Ferry" - Technicolor Dreams

"The Talented Mr. Ripley is a film that is rich with motif and metaphor. Mirrors are constantly in play here as Tom is always looking at new version of himself, like a snake shedding its skin. The motif of jazz is important, too, not just in the sense that it gives us insight into the evolution of Dickie (and acts as Tom's "in" with Dickie...the catalyst for the events that follow them running into each other), but it also acts as a brilliant metaphor for Tom. Tom is often put in compromising situations where the truth almost always seems ready to break through his icy exterior, but like a great jazz musician he improvs and scats his way out of bad situations."
- "Revisiting 1999: The Top Ten Films of the Year, #1 --- The Talented Mr. Ripley (Anthony Minghella)" - Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies

"Taken in toto, the 1983 movie is an epic, heroic poem concerning a can-do nation in its prime, and the heroes that it produced during an all-out "space race" with the Soviet Union.  But it's also a movie about the things that man can accomplish when he is at his best."
- "Cult Movie Review: The Right Stuff" - John Kenneth Muir's Reflections on Film/TV

"Still, nothing packs a wallop like this actioner. Robert Aldrich's films historically celebrated a defiant individualism and had a decidedly anti-establishment bent to them. Obviously, this film was no exception. Even amongst the humor and action of the piece, there is an intense disdain of authority at its core and in its telling of the behind the lines, pre D-Day raid."
- "Friday Forgotten Film: The Dirty Dozen" - Lazy Thoughts From a Boomer

"The dragon here is not interested in doing what's right. It does not interact with humans except to roast and/or eat them. It is not interested in conversation. It is a monster, a beast, a malevolent force of nature so powerful that even to attempt to face it is a fool's errand, a death wish it is more than happy to grant. And that's why Matthew Robbins' 1981 fantasy epic is still, for my money, the greatest dragon movie ever made."
- "Dragonslayer (1981): or, Feel the Burn" - Mad Mad Mad Mad Movies

"Harrison Ford doesn't get to do evil very often, and apparently he loves it. After convulsing about like he's trying to kick heroin, Harrison sits up and delivers this utterly macabre smile which curdled the blood and tingled the spines of millions upon millions of easily frightened youngsters."
- "Film Review: INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM (1984, Steven Spielberg)" - Junta Juleil's Culture Shock

"For all of its charms, and there are many of them, The Pick-Up Artist is a film marred by a real struggle between an artist with an extremely personal vision and men only interested in the money, and that conflict really damages what should have been a really masterful film."
- "Did anyone ever tell you that you have the face of a Botticelli and the body of a Degas?" - Moon In The Gutter

"OUT OF SIGHT is like a groove thing, moving nice and easy through its darkly funny world of crime, featuring well-drawn characters and vivid location work that lets us practically smell each location we’re in. Working off a very sharp script by Scott Frank (pretty faithful to Leonard), Soderbergh directs his film with the utmost confidence, bringing a genuine feeling of looseness to things and it really does come across that the director wants to take this opportunity to relax a little, maybe just make a fun Hollywood popcorn movie with enjoyable characters that still very much contains his particular filmic personality."
- "Something That Happens" - Mr. Peel's Sardine Liqueur

"Watership Down remains a personal favorite, alongside Director Isao Takahata's Grave Of The Fireflies [1988] ten years later, and is one of the most powerful animated films I've ever seen. It's certainly capable of melting away the stoniest of hearts. Sure, advancements in computer animation have taken the impurities right out of cel animation, but these imperfect, warm swathes of color and picturesque landscape renderings will captivate your eyes in a way missing from today's flawless, computer rendered perfection. Today, 2D animation presentations have become just as faultless. Watership Down, armed with its beautiful rabbit drawings, is a moving picture of immense power in story and image."
- "Watership Down" - Musings of a Sci-Fi Fanatic

"By showing us what's about to be discussed Mann lets us mull over these images in the few seconds, processing it viscerally and emotionally without the hampering effect of words telling us how to interpret what we've seen. While it obviously bears ties to the original TV show and its digital camerawork recalls Collateral, perhaps the best base of comparison in Mann's prior corpus is The Last of the Mohicans: it too works best when nothing was being said at all, and it uses deceptively flat characters and dialogue to evoke atmosphere."
- "Miami Vice" - Not Just Movies

"Still, even if The Company isn't prime Altman, it's a well-made and frequently moving film in which the abstract emotional catharsis of the dance is placed at the center of the film, rather than all the backstage romances and troubles, which seem incidental in comparison. It's a film that takes joy in movement, both in the rehearsals, where a movement's development is traced and coached along, and in the polished shows themselves."
- "The Company" - Only the Cinema

"Immediately, just beyond Ry Cooder's fantastic score, Streets of Fire (1984) shows its creative conception, especially with its editing and set design: this rock n' roll fable is set in a time that is a mix of 1950s Americana, Art Deco archeitecture, sentimental innocence and emotion and 1980s coolness, hair and fashion, and glitz."
- "Walter Hill's Streets of Fire (1984)" - Quiet Cool

"The film’s entire 2 hour 37 minute run functions like the five minutes I described: it is a mixture of visual rape and avant garde genius. And it also was the end of an era for director Oliver Stone who is also on the fence between odd, crackpot and twisted, way too intelligent artist. Any Given Sunday represents the last film in his ‘Quaalude Quadrilogy’, as I dub it, which started with the kinetic psycho-satire that is Natural Born Killers, continued with the historically strange Nixon, and the diabolically evil U-Turn."
- "Movie Review: Any Given Sunday" - Secure Immaturity

"Judge’s portrait of office life may be painted in broad strokes on a small canvas, but it’s nevertheless wincingly accurate. From Milton’s interminable whining (his complaints invariably meaningless) to the caffeine-addled temp who responds to anything less than full-on perky enthusiasm with a cry of "Someone’s got a case of the Mondays"; from the oleaginous Lumbergh (every inch the company man, but whose job requires that never actually does anything) to the Bobs trying to present an affable front when everyone knows they’re hatchet men; from the boxy little cubicles to the wasteful circulation of pointless memos, Office Space nails the bland, bureaucratically-blinkered aesthetic of the contemporary workplace."
- "Work Sucks: Office Space" - The Agitation of the Mind

"Indeed, Field of Dreams partly utilizes the 60s in order to "get over them" - to transcend the trappings of a generational zeitgeist and facilitate a rapprochement with a plainer, yet more deeply rooted national spirit. But as this very desire is part of a post-60s culture, the film remains shadowed by the era. Just as the Mann character is a father figure who bridges the worlds of mentorship and rebellion, so the film's generational conflict never escapes its historical context (Ray declares that his falling-out with his father occurred after reading Mann's iconic novel The Boat Rocker). Ray's relationship to his dad is obviously the linchpin of the movie, and while this particular generational conflict stretches from Oedipus to Freud, it is given a 60s spin with both personal and collective connotations."
- "Boomer Baseball: Field of Dreams & the American 60s" - The Dancing Image

"There are a couple of problems with this movie for me. First, the story is a disaster. It’s so silly, so simplistic that it would insult the intelligence of a monkey. We don’t even get to know who Red Sonja is before she goes galloping on to her adventure. Her origin story is told in a fast forward sequence that seems to have been compiled of a bunch of discarded or deleted scenes that they didn’t have time to include in the film. So what we end up seeing is a quickie version of Sonja’s origin story."
- "Red Sonja (1985)" - The Film Connoisseur

"And with Day of the Dead, he really drives the hopelessness home. This is a far more depressing film than the sometimes tongue-in-cheek Dawn of the Dead. There is very little, if any, black humor here. Humanity has royally screwed itself, and Romero seems to be mourning the end of the race (a far cry from his more cynical opinion of 20 years later, when he seems to make the case that the zombies deserve the Earth more than we do)."
- "Retro Review: Day of the Dead (1985)" - The Vault of Horror

"Speed serves as the apex of a certain kind of pre CGI blockbuster filmmaking. There’s a purity to Speed that you have to admire it’s a two hour movie that probably has ten minutes in it not devoted to vehicles going fast, shit blowing up, and actors trading pithy bon mots. It’s the Darwinian end result of the action eighties. A movie that has (de)evolved into nothing but a goods delivery mechanism."
- "Speed" - Things That Don't Suck


  1. Thanks very much for the link to my Pick-Up Artist piece JD. It is a pleasure to be among such good company here...keep up the great work in 2011!

  2. Great list. There are some blogs in there that I will need to start reading.

  3. I'm honored for the link in favorite post piece, and to be among the extraordinary bloggers and writers on your superb list, my friend. As you did last year, you've given your readers an outstanding inventory for us to sink our teeth (and minds) into. The best to you, and those represented here, in 2011.

  4. Thanks for the mention, JD! It's an honor to be among such esteemed company, and more so to know a little something I wrote was appreciated by a great blogger like you. Thanks again, and best wishes!

  5. Thank you J.D. as always. You always do a very thoughtful job with these posts. You also lay them out beautifully.

    Anyway, some good ones in there.

    It's funny how you can write something and it can all come together sometimes. I remember you liked that post when I published it.

    Thanks as always and thanks for everything you do here at RH!

  6. J.D.,

    It is a great honor to be included in such stellar company. Thank you!

    Now, I want to go through the whole list one-at-a-time and check any I missed.

    Happy 2011. Can't wait for your next post...


  7. Thanks so much for the nod, J.D. I really appreciate it. You do a great job here, keep up the good work in 2011!

  8. J.D., you're too kind. You're an extremely fine writer, so any compliment from you means so much more. Take care.

  9. Thanks every body for your kind comments and for stopping by. It is always appreciated. Bring on 2011!

  10. Thank you JD. As has been said before, I'm honored to be listed in such company.

    But all the more so as yours is one of the finest most generous blogs out there.

    Thank you very much.

  11. Thanks for the kind mention, JD - I really appreciate it. Your blog is unfailingly top-notch so it's an honor to have my work cited here. Here's to a great 2011!

  12. JD,

    Wow, what an exceptional collection of admirable, truly inspiring posts!

    I'm VERY proud that my effort was memorable enough for you to be included here!

    Thanks much and best to you in 2011!-Unk

  13. Thank you so much for the shout out!!!!!!

  14. This is an excellent roundup J.D., and I do well remember several of these specific reviews! Great to see my friends and colleagues John Greco, Kevin Olson, Marilyn Ferdinand, Ed Howard, Greg Ferrara and a host of others here. They have done so much to enhance the cinematic landscape as you have my friend with your ceaseless good nature and prolific activity. Best Wishes for the best year ever in 2011!

  15. Thanks guys for your comments and, as always, for frequenting my blog. It's an understatement to say that your writing and blogs inspire me to write better articles.

  16. Thanks for the mention. Funnily enough, I was in an hour-long team meeting last week listening to people talk about "workstreams", "redistribution" and "taking ownership" and it made me think back to my 'Office Space' review. Ten years down the line, that film is still on the money.

  17. Neil Fulwood:

    It is eerie how relevant OFFICE SPACE remains. There are some eternal truisms in that film that never go away.

  18. J.D.

    Thanks for including, I really appreciate it. You should include yourself in this fine group of bloggers.

  19. A fine roundup that's pointed me in the direction of a few new blogs I need to be frequenting. I'm honored to be included on your list, J.D.!

  20. Thanks to you both! Not just for your patronage but also for your own blogs, both of which I enjoy reading so much.

  21. Damn dude, thanks for including me on this list! I hadnt noticed till today! Glad you enjoyed it, and I'll make sure to check out the other blogs you posted, Im sure they will all make for some great reading.

  22. Thanks for your gracious mention, J.D. I'm in very good company here, and appreciate that you enjoyed the piece. I'm trying to get out a little more reading wise, so you've given me a lot of opportunities. Keep up the good work

  23. Always late to the party... thanks, JD!!! And for turning me on, too late since I guess he's stopped writing it, the awesome Secure Immaturity blog, and that I put 'big budget' twice in one sentence in that Conan piece. Oh well... I for one will keep writing, especially with cool blogger allies like you around!

  24. The Film Connoisseur:

    You are more than welcome! I always enjoy reading what you write and it doesn't hurt that we share a love for many of the same filmmakers and films!


    You are welcome. I really enjoyed that piece you wrote. It made me think of that film in a whole new way.

    Erich Kuersten:

    You are also welcome. I always enjoy the posts on your blog as they contain such unique insights. It is a damn shame about Secure Immaturity. I came to it late as well but I hope that he will resurrect it at some point. Who knows? As for "big budget" - heh, I didn't notice it until you mentioned it just now! Weird...

  25. Whoops, I just caught this link! Thanks, J.D.