This is both The and A List.

With the year coming to a close, year end lists are all the rage. Without further ado, with no additional commentary, here are some things I enjoyed in 2017. I’ll at least sort them into sections. Note, they may not even all be from 2017. Maybe I just discovered them this year. No doubt I’ll forget a bunch. I’m not paying that much attention:

Movies

  • The Big Sick
  • Logan
  • Spider Man: Homecoming
  • Killing of a Sacred Deer
  • Baby Driver
  • I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore
  • The Florida Project
  • Okja
  • Kong: Skull Island
  • Thor: Ragnarok
  • Get Out
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  • It

Television

  • Legion
  • Trial and Error
  • Dear White People
  • Crazy Ex Girlfriend Season 3
  • Master of None Season 2
  • You’re The Worst Season 3
  • American Gods
  • Catastrophe Season 3
  • Better Things Season 2
  • The Good Place Season 2
  • GLOW
  • American Vandal
  • BoJack Horseman Season 3
  • Big Mouth
  • The Katering Show
  • Rick & Morty Season 3
  • Please Like Me
  • Crashing

Music

  • Mount Eerie – A Crow Looked At Me
  • The National – Sleep Well Beast
  • LCD Soundsystem – Self Titled
  • Father John Misty – Fear Fun
  • Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory
  • SZA – Ctrl
  • Kelela – Take Me Apart
  • Jlin – Black Origami
  • Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
  • Sylvan Esso – What Now
  • Fever Ray – Plunge
  • Zola Jesus – Okovi
  • LCD Soundsystem – American Dream
  • St Vincent – Masseduction
  • Fleet Foxes – Crack Up
  • Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
  • Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 3
  • Lorde – Melodrama
  • Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins
  • Neil Cicierega – Mouth Moods

Comedy Specials

  • Vir Das – Abroad Understanding
  • Rory Scovel Tries Stand-Up For The First Time
  • Patton Oswalt – Annihilation
  • Hasan Minhaj – Homecoming King
  • Chris Gethard – Career Suicide

Comedians I saw

  • Chris Gethard
  • Chris Locke
  • Chris Robinson
  • Gina Yashere
  • Hari Kondabolu
  • Kyle Kinane
  • Liza Treyger
  • Max Silvestri
  • Morgan Murphy
  • Rory Scovel
  • Roy Wood Jr.
  • Sara Hennessey
  • Sasheer Zamata
  • W. Kamau Bell
  • John Mulaney

Video Games

  • Cuphead

I guess now you know what I did with my time.

Advertisements

Maybe I just don’t like movies after all.

A spoiler warning for the new Star Wars film. I may or may not spend the whole entry writing about it, but at this point I don’t know.

It was just pretty okay. Not terrible by any means, but neither was second film in the new trilogy the second coming. I like the mentality of burning everything down and starting anew. I like how they handled Luke’s character. I’m glad they’ve rightfully made the story about the new generation rather than the gratuitous fan service and hero worship of having Skywalker come back and anime style speed blitz everyone. Star Wars films have always had this sort of winking overly theatrical space operatic atmosphere and this one felt a little more down to Earth. It makes sense to update the franchise to a modern day aesthetic. At the same time (and this (like the rest of this entry) is just a personal taste thing), I thought a bunch of the dialogue was a bit too quippy. Cheesy “oh no you di’n’t” style comebacks and generally poorly written lines. I dunno, was I looking for a bunch of iconic quotes? I didn’t really catch any. Has the dialogue in Star Wars ever been its strong suit? Not sure. I’m pretty ambivalent to porgs. I thought they had more screen time than necessary, but Disney wants to sell toys, right? I like the interplay between Rey and Ben, which continues to be the most compelling part of the series. A couple of female characters felt like throwaway tropes used to buffer the male characters and teach them lessons. Laura Dern was great in her role, but her role felt like a proxy Leia. The whole casino planet felt quite flashy, unnecessary and hollow. A lack of great substance, but merely used to introduce a couple of new characters and some horse critters. I was very happy to hear about Rey’s lineage being entirely insignificant (and I hope they stick to that. Isn’t the story more inspirational if she’s come from nothing rather than descended from some royal blood line? It seems to be the way they’re going with most of the new cast). I would’ve been happier if it’d come in at two hours instead of two and a half. I was expecting a lot from Rian Johnson and came away pretty disappointed. I’m by no means a big Star Wars fan. I enjoyed the last one far more than I thought I would. I might see the next one, but I’m not super enthused about it. These films aren’t really made for me and that’s fine.

Cool, that’s probably all the Star Wars talk I have energy for.

New Jurassic World movie looks really dumb. Like they turned that stupid Game of Thrones episode about capturing a zombie into a feature film. I’ll probably pay to see it and be incredibly unhappy with my decision.

New Avengers movie looks bloated and quite un-good. Once again, it’s a personal preference thing. I think I’m just more into smaller scale stories that focus on character development and progression. The large scale Marvel films have become this absurd juggernaut (, bitch) of characters who all need screen time and a couple of smart-ass lines. How many characters are in this new movie? Are they all gonna have to talk? Or have specific character moments? Surely we’ve already discarded the notion that anyone gives a shit about Hawkeye? Is the “cataclysmic” conclusion of Civil War gonna be resolved in a five minute conversation? Couldn’t they have done that in the first place? Then again, let’s not shit ourselves that the comics were any better. Colossal crossover events were always a tad silly.

You’d think after all that Christmas cheer I’d be in a more positive mood. Perhaps my cup overrunneth and now I’ve got stains to clean out of the carpet.

I could be projecting…

Treating myself to a solo movie tonight. It’s one of those special pleasures that I could realistically take part in any time, but rarely ever do. I’m not gonna lie, I’m pretty stoked.

For some reason, solo public activities are often stigmatised. It’s strange, but we’re corralled into thinking that anything that’s primarily done with friends or loved ones must be. Dining is a big one. I’ve actually rebelled against this as of late. It’s uncommon for friends’ spare time and interests to coincide with mine. I frequently want to spontaneously go out to eat. I may have finished up at the gym and have a craving for Korean, for instance. I’ve decided lately to just go for it. I’ll often order pork bone soup and load up a Magic the Gathering draft video. It’s become a ritual of sorts. I’ll take the bones out of the soup to cool, eat the side dishes and rice with the warming, fatty broth. Then once the bones are cool enough to handle I’ll tear off the meat and put it back into the soup. All the while enjoying the video I’ve loaded. I get to eat delicious food, watch something and feel sated. If I was at home, nobody would bat an eyelid. Why would it be any less idyllic in public? I have such a great time and feel totally fulfilled.

I find solo movies to be a similarly wonderful experience. I get to engage in the text without distraction. Nobody to balance my reactions against. I can focus exclusively on what I’m watching. The only part that’s lacking is someone to discuss the film with afterwards, but isn’t that why social media exists? Take tonight, for instance. I put the invitation out and got no responses. Why should that stop my plans for the evening? My forfeit for the lack of company is that I still get to have a great time. I don’t see any great loss there. I can treat myself, get snacks, get in and leave on my own schedule. Speaking of which, the film is about to start.

**********************

Wow. I feel really bloody fragile right now. I just came out of The Florida Project. What a gorgeous film. A vivid portrayal of life at hip height. I treasure films so greatly that can trust me into lives so foreign from my own. It did an unbelievable job of framing the specific existence of growing up in the margins of Florida just outside of Disney’s imagined fantasy. Bucking over-dramatic plot contrivances for very real experiences. The characters’ reactions felt genuine, commensurate with the situation. The cinematography really popped. Not only was the colour palette a fantastic representation of a child’s point of view, but the camera work followed suit. Can you tell I’m talking in broad brush strokes because I don’t want to ruin any aspects of the film for potential viewers? I can’t recommend it enough. One of my favourite movies from a year full of them. The film affected me on a core level and I can’t see it being different for anyone else. I came out of it totally bawling, but also not giving a shit about holding it in for anyone else. Why would I? It was a valuable cathartic experience.

It’s not easy being a one person party, but if anyone can make it work, I can.

In a word? Billiant.

In possibly the greatest Christmas/Hanukkah gift I could’ve imagined, I recently discovered that my girlfriend had never seen Kill Bill. Look, nostalgia is a big driving force in my life. I feel like 30% of my mental energy is constantly devoted to wondering how pop culture has held up with time. I saw Kill Bill in my teen years. It was R18 but I went with my mum. Nobody asked any questions. It’s been almost another lifetime since my first viewing, so naturally the question of how time would treat it was burning deep in my synapses.

The statute of limitations should apply here. Just in case you’re like my girlfriend was several days back, there will be spoilers for Kill Bill Part 1.
.
.
.
.
.
I loved it. I fucking adored it. The film lived up to every expectation and new facets sprung forth. At 16 I couldn’t have understood the genre conventions and subversions as I do now. I plumb hadn’t seen enough film. At 30 it’s all too apparent. The postured dialogue laden with purpose. Totally anachronistic and intentionally overwrought. The glorious union of Kurosawa come John Wayne swagger. The honour and ceremony of samurai culture filtered through western accoutrement. Kill Bill wore its influences on its sleeve in the most affectionate way possible.

The pacing is fantastic. We sat down to eat dinner as we watched and a few minutes into the film is the household fight. It’s a brutal white-knuckle affair. So fast paced and dynamically shot that we sat there, mouths agape, food untouched. There’s an ebb and flow to the proceedings that makes it effortlessly enjoyable to watch. It’s harrowing to see her waking up in hospital, coming to terms with the child she’s lost then switching into action mode against the men about to abuse her body. There are jump cuts, tonal shifts and stories within stories. It’s immaculately composed and entirely gripping.

The choreography is unbelievable. Each fight scene has its own mood and cadence. From the more realistic confrontation with Copperhead, to the stylised whimsy of the battle with the Crazy 88. That battle in particular could’ve been so trite and tired. It never feels overlong. It dynamically shifts from the floor to the railings, trailing blood on the dancefloor. The cinematography is gorgeous. There’s the crane shot as Black Mamba goes to change in the bathroom, or the few times the camera finds its best vantage point behind the stairs, perfect for watching the ensuring carnage. The colours are sharp and bright, but in the blink of an eye it switches to a black and white palette. Then after a blink we’re seeing silhouettes on a fluorescent blue background. How the film manages to be so ambitious without feeling pretentious escapes me. It’s a damn fine film and a wild ride throughout.

The best part? We still have Part 2 to watch and I remember enjoying it a whole lot more. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

If you’re a mischievous Jewish male does that make you a Chabadboy?

I’ve eaten entirely too much sugar today and my body has involuntarily shut down. I think a sloth could beat me in a foot race. If I wasn’t still breathing I’d assume I was dying. As it stands I may just be astral projecting from a coma. Or The Matrix could be real and anything I’m experiencing is a complex chain of ones and zeroes. This could even all be a simulation, in which case I’m wondering why someone won’t fucking overclock me already. There’s an Old Navy on the TV to my left and it has people garbed in pyjamas seemingly wrapping. It’s on mute. If this is a simulation, it’s simulating Hell.

Inspired by the glorious Nicolas Cage party I attended over the weekend, I watched Leaving Las Vegas last night. It was surprisingly sweet and melancholy. I wasn’t expecting to be moved (as opposed to today, where I don’t expect I’ll have the energy to move for many hours to come) and certainly didn’t expect to become as invested as I did. It’s likely the closest thing Cage has to a down to earth performance (he did get the Oscar for it) and manages to imbue his role with both somber fragility and a certain levity. Elizabeth Shue is fantastic. Both characters are drawn from flimsy stereotypes, but somehow land with gravity. Perhaps one of the most rewarding aspects of the film is how it doesn’t try to milk sympathy through overwrought backstories or slow fed revelations. It feels a little dated but when it hits, it hits hard. If you have the capacity and desire to see Nic Cage in a tender performance, you could do worse with 110 odd minutes.

As for how I’ve spent my time today, aside from ingesting a possibly lethal quantity of sugar, I’ve been watching a newly discovered Australian web series. It’s the kind of thing that probably went viral a bunch of years ago and I missed the memo. The Katering Show! It’s crammed with smart writing and clever skewering of food show conventions and hip trends. While there’s not much in the way of linear narrative, it feels pretty rewarding to watch the show evolve episode by episode. How do I know this? Because I watched the entirety of both series’s’s today while working.

Ugh, is my body restricting oxygen to my brain? This must be how bears feel five minutes before hibernation. It’s winter, I guess, which means I have a night constant bleeding nose. Maybe I’ve lost enough that my extremities have given up for Lent.

Oh wait, is it Hannukah right now? According to Google, yes. I guess this is what happens when you forsake your culture in favour of making complex carbs your new religion and silently screaming for death.

Three cheers for everyone’s favourite Coppola.

Sometimes life is stranger than fiction. Like in that Will Ferrell movie. Or when you find yourself in a situation you’d merely dreamed of. Dreams, however, could not come close to the reality I was lucky enough to experience. It was all too brief, as only the best things are. Last night I went to (beat) a Nicolas Cage party.

How many films has Nic Cage been in? Many times more than enough. Accordingly there were beyond ample costume opportunities. While I’d initially conspired to go as Cowboy Pachinko Nic Cage, I left it way too late and didn’t want to have to track down a close-enough shirt and other costume accessories. At some point it gets expensive to put together costumes. The hope is that eventually you’ll have enough items in your closet/tickle trunk that you can assemble a costume from things that are lying around the house.

But I said “fuck it” anyway and went out to buy the necessary bits for a Con Air Nic Cage. I was surprised I didn’t already own a white singlet. It strangely took many hours to find one. The other necessary props were a small cardboard box and a soft toy bunny to put in said box. Then for extra marks I wrote a couple of letters from his daughter all written in coloured felt tip pens with a child’s scrawl. The first I took straight from the film. Things got weird immediately:

“My Daddy is coming home on July 14th. My Birthday is July 14th. I’m going to see my Daddy for the first time on July 14th.”

“I love my Daddy lots I think. I dunno. I’m sorta just a plot device.”

“Hey Daddy. Didn’t you think the use of Sweet Home Alabama in this film was a bit egregious? Or was that the point?”

“Hey Daddy. This film didn’t deserve the stacked cast it had. I mean, Cage, Malkovich, Cusack, Buschemi, fucken Chapelle, man?”

“Hey Daddy. Real Eyes. Realize. Real Lies.”

I was ready.

Could anyone really be ready for such a soirée? There was a clothes line in the kitchen, with a ton of hanging Nicolas Cage masks to choose from. A playlist of Nic Cage movies played all night long on the TV. There were tacos (not thematic), a plounge (also not thematic) and a car buffer people were using for quick low key massages (maybe thematic? Who knows? Cage is a sensual fellow). There were cheeses and nice fudges. Tons of mixers. A polaroid camera and endless enthusiasm. My friend’s place is in a converted factory and it’s made for a wonderful home overflowing with character. She has unbelievable amounts of awesome colourful art she’s both purchased and created. Soft toys, dioramas and colourful displays were everywhere. Colour changing mood lights in each room of the house. It was like being transported to a fantasy world. A monument to absurdity and whimsy, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect environment in which to erect a shrine for the OneTrueGod.

As for today, I’m coming out of my Cage and I’ve been doing just fine.

Adventageous for some, mayhaps.

You know what’s always great? Discount candy! Especially here in North America, where capitalistic excess is the spirit of the season and holiday candy supply drastically outpaces demand. Because of this, the supermarket opposite work was selling advent calendars for 24 cents each. Naturally I did what any responsible adult would do and bought 15 of them for my adult co-workers. What could make their day better than being given Paw Patrol or Disney Princess calendars? They even came with colouring segments on the back! My grand gesture cost me less than I’d spend on a coffee and lifted the spirits of 14 others. It was a pretty choice exchange and one I’d happily make at any time. Every now and again, capitalism can be pretty damn fantastic.

Then again, net neutrality was repealed today in America, so maybe I shouldn’t speak too soon. I don’t know enough to make an informed, well researched post, but I know it’s not gonna lead to anything positive for consumers. The tl;dr is that in the U.S. depending on your habits, you’re soon likely going to have to pay more for the luxury of surfing the web as we do now. Internet service providers are going to be able to restrict speeds to certain websites, based on whatever package their customer has purchased. Do you primarily use the internet for social media? Cool, get the social media package. But what if you want to play games online too? Well you’ll have to get the gaming bundle as well. Streaming Netflix? That’ll be a different package too. Of course they’re going to sell it as a benefit. There’s a slim chance that for you, it may be. More likely though you’ll have to pay more to use the internet as you currently do. It’s bad news and is most likely the result of powerful lobbying groups slipping fat stacks of cash into the back pockets of the politicians involved in making this happen. Here in Canada we’re safe for the moment. Trudeau himself has come out as saying it’s a threat to personal freedoms. We’ve got no reason to be smug or complacent though. Never underestimate the desire of big business to place profits over people.

Oh also in big capitalistic moves, Disney bought a ton of Fox properties today for $52B. That’s a whole lot of schmeckles. In the short term, it’s gonna make a lot of comic fans very happy. Fox owns X-Men, which means that now Disney does too. This means they can stop clumsily pretending that mutants don’t exist in their Marvel priorities. Yay. So it’s all good, right? I’m a lot less optimistic. Fox didn’t only own the X-Men, it owned a ton of adult entertainment (not porn, but probably not far off either). Disney is famously litigious and tight about what kind of material makes it into Disney owned properties. In a perfect world, Disney lets FX and FXX keep running as they always have. They continue producing creative and risky television that pushes the boundaries in wonderful ways. This seems likely for the short term at least. I wonder though. Logan was one of my favourite films this year. It was an emotionally cathartic farewell to a longtime fan favourite character. It was heavy, violent and wholly inappropriate for kids. How would Disney feel about killing off a cash cow? Or the lack of marketable action figures from such a film? Will we ever see another “Logan” under Disney’s Marvel? What about the Netflix properties? The Defenders stable? Will Disney continue to fund adult targeted original content? There’s hope that maybe with the acquisition of Hulu that they could continue where Netflix left off. Or possibly Netflix negotiates some kind of deal where they can keep keeping on. Once again, not hugely hopeful.

Oh well, at least I can console myself with cheap candy.