Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010 Music Watch

Ted Leo / Rx
The Brutalist Bricks

I will rock out with Teddy until he's deady.

Vampire Weekend

Can they do it again? All leaked tracks point in the right direction.

The Shins
*********(not sure it will come out next year)

James fired the other band members for a new sound. "And if it ain't broke then don't try to fix it" - Fresh Prince


They always manage to change up their sound with each new record while staying true to form. They're like Radiohead's shy cousin. Love it.

I'm sure there are lots more scheduled to come out. There must be a bootleg at least of Pavement reunion shows next year, so be on the lookout for those. Let's meet up at the end of 2010 on the top of the Empire State Building and see how it all sussed out.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Baby On Board (...something Burt Ward)

Here is to the kids who've come into the world in the past year. (Mattie you get a pass leading the way last year. You're in charge and p.s. your sis was conceived this year.)

Matthew, Audrey, Lauren, Finn, Thomas, Nathanael, Merrit, Sammy.

Two more on the way (that we know of). You're the next group of friends. Some day you'll be snorting while laughing, puking on cars, doing century club, falling asleep with the oven on in the middle of reading a book for class, playing volleyball, helping people find jobs, sleeping til 2pm or finding true love.

Good luck to you all.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Tops of the Year

Not much more to say. You can check out the links to the original posts to see why they won.

Best Zom-Com: Zombieland
Best Nostalgia picture: G.I. Joe
Best Reboot of Nostalgia: Star Trek
Best Romance: (500) Days of Summer
Best Kids film: Fantastic Mr. Fox
Best Comedy: I Love You, Man
Best Drama: The Hurt Locker
Best Period Piece: Inglorious Basterds
Best Biopic: The Informant!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Aught 10 addendums

Although I am sticking with my original postings, sometimes you just get some extra ideas. With that I add on my "No one is perfect" additional additions.

Come On Feel the Illinois (2005)
Well done, Sufjan. Haunting long drawn out melodies. Almost like symphony of sound, going in and out of beats, etc. Who else can craft a ballad about a mass murderer.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005 - Present)
How in the world could I forget this show. Found during some repeat airings of season one in preparation of season 2. Best accidental find since I picked up that Incredible Moses Leroy album from the Virgin Records listening station in 2001. Abortion, under age drinking, cancer, gun fever. It's been described as Seinfeld without a conscience. I agree. It may have gone down in quality, but that's only because it started at such a high level.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
The man who brought Lethal Weapon and The Last Boy Scout to life gives us his directorial debut. Robert Downey Jr's cinematic roll of roles started with this recent movie. A pulp novel put on screen the plot twists are secondary to a bunch of outrageous characters doing weird things. Really a big treat for the eyes. Your eyes will thank you later.

Hot Rod (2007)
Of course, Hot Rod. The Lonely Island gang. A script written for Will Ferrell. A script written by Pam Brady (South Park and more, people). Danny McBride. Ian McShane. Will Arnett. Bill Heder. This movie is ridiculous from the opening moped music cue. I saw this with my roommate at a boozy screening and then forgot about it. Thank god for cable airing it 100x a day. Which I watched every single time. It's like Anchorman's mentally challenged brother.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Aught 10 is Just Around the Corner:
A List of Movies

Of course this was going to be the hardest list for me. So it has taken some time. Some fiddling, some expanding. Now for your ocular pleasure, the list of the best movies over the past decade. Man alive, it's weird to think we've got another decade in the record books. I bet when we look back at this new decade that starts next month, we'll be talking about our cerebral implant projections, not celluloid projected through light.

Wonderboys (2000)
Michael Chabon wrote the source material. Curtis Hanson put that material on the big screen. What happened was a surprising small film with great actors telling an offbeat wonderful story. When I was in college, I saw this poster. It was around the time that it was announced that Michael Douglas was in talks to be in a big screen adaptation of "My Three Sons' TV show. That's what I thought this movie was so I was never going to go see it. Then I finally saw a trailer. This movie is filled with an all star cast. Great turns by Toby McGuire, Robert Downey Jr and Michael Douglas. Of course. Then you also have Rip Torn (Don Geiss himself), Katie Holmes, Frances McDormand, and a quick cameo by Alan Tudyk. I'm finally going to read the book this year. The story of a liberal arts college and a professor trying to somehow finish his never ending follow up novel. The story is wild and weaving. Truly a great small little film.

Stranger Than Fiction (2006)
Shot in my city. A unique plot. The lead role played by one of my favorite actors. It showed that like many comedians before him, he's got dramatic acting chops. It's romantic without being schmaltzy. And of course, the first time he gets to hear the narration of his life, he gets bad news that puts the whole movie in motion. Great turns by Dustin Hoffman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Emma Thompson, Tony Hale and even Queen Latifah. None of the romance elements ring false. You get to go with this man on his journey and genuinely care about how he's going to come out the other side. Also, it's really funny. This is a feel good movie for someone like me. Beautifully shot and a great narration that for once affects the plot.

High Fidelity (2000)
The pinnacle of John Cusack films. The perfect storm of story (by Nick Hornby), location change (sweet home Chicago) and acting (Jack Black before America turned on him). It seems like my list is developing a couple of tells on how to make my list. Be filmed in Chicago (not true, sorry "Wanted" and "Eagle Eye"), come from a great book (this one is true) and have heart. High Fidelity is a great movie. It's great for music lovers. It's great for comedy lovers. It's great for romantics. I would consider this the high water mark for Cusack. Not to say he's doing bad things, but this is what his career was headed for from the beginning. Extremely re-watchable. Love lorn loser takes us on a tour of his past loves while moving forward with his most recent breakup. Plus there's a awesome Pavement concert print by his front door.

Wet Hot American Summer (2001)
I saw this movie in theaters on the worst day in America's recent history. It was the best medicine for one of the most shocking days I have ever had. This movie was made by the guys who created Mtv's The State. They did something quite special. WHAS is a spoof of 80's camp movies while being able to be one as well. What David Wain did here is the same thing that Edgar Wright is doing with his spoofs (Shaun and Fuzz). A lot of the State cast are present. Just a typical day of counselors and campers. Absurdest comedy from start to finish. Watch out for Paul Rudd's air guitar at the end.

The Royal Tennenbaums (2001)
Wes Anderson really found his groove with this film. Just the right amount of sweet and sour. He got the best use out of Ben Stiller at the time (only recently redeeming himself with Tropic Thunder). The story title is a double entendre about the movie family's patriarch, Royal Tennenbaum. This is his story. We follow him through his last days trying to reconnect to his family. All the characters are flawed and broken in one way or another. This is what Anderson does best, comedies without a lot of laughs. Truly funny movie that isn't about the jokes, but about the characters. Not to say there aren't jokes. But it's safe to say that Wes' third film is the one that showed he was really moving to the next level of film making.

Hot Fuzz (2007)
Edgar Wright shows us how to do spoof / tributes to genres. Going 2 for 2 (starting with Shaun of the Dead, of course) and cashing in his chips to get other great British actors to sign up. A cop in London who is so good that all his superiors promote him to the suburbs just to get rid of him. To quote his captain "You're making us all look bad." If you want to see how spoof should be done, look out for homages for everything from Lethal Weapon to Bad Boy 2. For actioneers who don't mind a little gore (and of course, love levity in their action).

Kill Bill vol. 1 (2003)
Had he kept volume one and two together, it might not have seemed as impressive. But Tarantino wisely front loaded his first volume (decimation of the crazy 88 anyone?) that would all but guaranteeing people would return to cinemas to see volume two. I've heard some people say that volume 2 had the heart. Well, then volume one is the fists. I saw this 3x in the theaters. I could not get enough. The revenge tale of "the Bride" as she goes after the people who tried to put her in the grave. This is all id for 2+ hours. Kill Bill is the kind of mindless violent action that when you think about it, isn't so mindless. Just like all Tarantino films this movie is top down just great. One of the few movies that I own the soundtrack.

The Departed (2006)
Scorsese remaking a Hong Kong spy thriller? That's what gets him his Oscar? You're damn right. Based on the movie Infernal Affairs. Two spies. One in the Police department. One in the organized crime syndicate. They are doing a deadly dance with each other that ends in a refreshing way that I would never have guessed in a million years. I also love that Matt Damon and Leo DiCaprio played the roles that they did. Plus a support cast that really elevates the whole thing. I bet against this movie to win the Best Picture Oscar because I couldn't bring myself to believe a movie so good had a chance in hell. Never have I been more pleased to be proven wrong.

No Country For Old Men (2007)
Now here is the feel good movie of the year. A cowboy gets himself into a jackpot (his words). True cowboys. Lots of shooting. No music. So haunting. And you know what else...fantastic. Again with the impressively refreshing plot. You think we're following one dude, then of course we're following another. And end that is truly an end in every sense of the word. Hey if you found a satchel of money, would you try your best to keep it? What if you found yourself digging yourself deeper and deeper into a hole. The Coen Brothers have made some great films. But I've never seen such a master of craft from them before, and that's saying something.

Dark Knight (2008)
This movie makes the Tim Burton/Joel Schumaker movies look like the Adam West movies. That's not an easy feat. This movie only needs about 15-20 minutes of trimming to become the perfect film. Shot in Chicago with IMAX cameras. You almost forget this is a movie about a guy dressing up as a bat. You could just as well see him as a regular detective and never know the difference. Batman goes up against his true arch nemesis, the Joker. Enough has been said about Heath the past couple years. But his performance is truly the anchor that holds this film in together. Is that what anchors do? I guess if you're the anchor leg in a race, then yes. And because of his untimely passing, the sharks in Hollywood can't get him shoehorned into the next sequel. I don't need another Batman movie for another 10 years because this one exists. Amazing.

Wall-E (2008)
While suffering through the usual trouble Pixar has with second acts, the first act is so good with almost no speaking, you could have put 2 Girls / 1 cup on the screen for the remaining time and I still would have put it on my tops list. A lonely robot has survived to be the last sentient being on earth. His task is to clean up the place. And he does it. Everyday. With a cockroach and movies to keep him sane. Until he gets a visitor. I almost wish Pixar had made this their first adult animated feature. Then they wouldn't have had to have all the adorable robots running amok with the humans. But still, just a wonderful sentimental warning for people. Like Idiocracy.
Judd Apatow's rise to golden boy of comedy in Hollywood started right here. With Steve Carell partnering with him on the screenwriting, they craft a movie that has some of the crudest jokes but still has a heart at the center. The perfect balance is struck even if it's almost like two different movies in the first half from the second half. But that's not to say it's a schizophrenic affair. A cohesive whole this movie is for sure. One of the criteria for making the top music of the decade is being able to listen to the album repeatedly. This movie is supremely re-watchable. This will be "Fletch" for kids growing up in the world right now. They will be happy to see it on TBS during a sick day on the couch.

Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Steven Spielberg is an interesting bloke (yeah I'm British for this entry). He has managed to go with a lot of different genres based on his interests at the time. In 2002 he felt like telling the true story of a kid who defrauded America for years by forging checks. He brings his muse along with him (T.Hanks) to create a typical old timey accent. But at it's center is a kid who's family is falling apart. Instead of watching it implode he runs away. Told over a great many years its basically his second chance to make a Peter Pan film. There are no real enemies in the movie, so it's more about the story itself. Many times overlooked, this is the movie that shows Spielberg can still craft an emotional gem.

I bet at the time when it said "An Apatow Production" during the opening credits, you didn't give it a second thought. Hind sight. This script was written and shelved for many years until Will Ferrell's star started to really rise. And from that one of the weirdest wildest funniest movies of the decade was born. Who hasn't said "60% of the time it works every time" when talking about, well, anything. This is the kind of movie that you get new little pieces every time you watch it. I had to have my roommate point out his favorite part (watch Paul Rudd when they get their ratings announced on set). And the best proof that this great movie is in the timing as well as the editing watch the second movie they made out of outtakes and excised plot point "Wake Up, Ron Burgundy" because it is TERRIBLE. But the finished movie that is Anchorman is great. No question. It's the pancake breakfast. We do it every month.

Bad Santa (2003)
The title role was originally going to be played by Bill Murray. Although I'm sure that would have been absolutely amazing, Billy Bob Thornton was born to play this role. A drunk safe cracker that makes his yearly salary by playing a mall Santa and then robbing the mall on Christmas eve, its basically the perfect plot. This movie is filled with despicable characters. They have no redeeming qualities. They beat up kids, drink, screw, swear. It's a twisted tale that has no comparison. God created this movie to counteract the families that watch "It's A Wonderful Life" every year. This is my holiday tradition. Mostly because everyone is so terrible that I feel better about myself after watching it. And isn't that what the holidays are all about?

So that is the list. Put it in stone. It starts and ends with this list. Here endith the lesson.


Happy 100 Posts to the Krull Nugget. We did what we set out to do. Write stuff! Let's have a video pizza party.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Will This Movie Win an Oscar is Up In The Air

Well it's the holiday season officially. What does that mean? Oscar bait. Now that there are going to be 10 films in the running for best picture (that's too many in my opinion). Up in the Air is already getting overpraised.

But it is good. Based on another novel I have never read (but you know it will be sold with a new cover at Borders to reel in new readers, which is good). It is the story of a "road warrior". He spends 90 percent of his life travelling. You know he's got it down to a science. Two things happen in the course of this movie. He has to show a green employee the ropes and finds a fellow traveler in a airport hotel bar.

Now, although it has been garnering awards already it is not without it's flaws. I can't think of any in particular. I know that people expecting one thing from this movie will get another. It does not end where you expected it to. But that is only a good thing in my opinion.

I hesitate to tell you what a good movie this is because you're going to have plenty of commercials telling you just how great it is on TV. But it really is a good movie. If you liked "Thank You For Smoking" or "Juno" (another one that was praised to the point of backlash) then you'll like this movie.

Did you enjoy it?
Yes, very much.

Would you see it in theaters again?
Yes. Maybe take a date that doesn't have a blond beard this time.

Would you rent it?

Would you buy it?

Would you watch it if you saw it was on TV?
For sure.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Two Thousand Twelve

Even the poster is boring. I went to this due to a lack of much anything else to do. I wanted to see some destruction. I got it. All the best stuff happens in the first two hours. That still leaves another forty minutes. Woof. The world is going to end. It's getting microwaved.

I think this movie got microwaved. If you put Deep Impact and Armageddon in the micro and cooked it for 15 minutes, you'd have this warped mush of a movie. The heartfelt moments are laughable. The destruction is cartoony (which is okay in this case).

Easily passable way to spend 2hr40min if you have the time to kill. If not, go see Fantastic Mr. Fox again instead.

Did you enjoy it?

Would you see it in theaters again?

Would you rent it?

Would you buy it?

Would you watch it if you saw it was on TV?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

NMH Patience First

I've finally been to the Emergency Department. Not great. Every thing's fine but man o man, I think that's one of the places you just have to experience.

I will be adhering to HIPAA but here are some things that I saw.

A girl in her 20's (maybe) with her boyfriend. He was sporting a thin mustache. She was concerned about vomiting and diarrhea. He was concerned that she couldn't lie down in the waiting area. Comments heard "Maybe next time you have diarrhea she should just stay home."

A party girl (heard not seen). Over served. She was screaming at her two friends "My mom is going to kill me when she finds out I was in the Emergency Room". She begged everyone to let her go. Comments heard "Maybe next time you don't drink so much."

Then of course there was the usual worldly traveler. Many bags. All of them filthy. Not sure what he wanted. Probably Oxycontin.

But the staff was top notch all around. Thanks for the late night courtesy, Jonah. See you never.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Road to The Road

This movie was supposed to come out last year. Charlize Theron was singled out a lot in the trailers. The book is beloved. "No Country for Old Men" won an Oscar in 2008. Uh oh. All these things were working against this film.

Things working in it's favor: Michael K. Williams, John Hillcoat, Viggo, the book itself.

Who won?

I would say the best compliment I can give this movie is that it did the best it could with the source material. Never really reaching the level of emotion from the book, it did do a good job of capturing the bleak nature of the tale. I can't really say it was "enjoyable" in a conventional sense. But it is well crafted and does the best to put the page up on the screen.

The biggest issue was that the father tells me he would do anything to protect his son, but I didn't ever really connect and feel that. Which leaves the end of the movie not resonating. It's the opposite in the book. But having read the book may have soured me for what was on screen. I would be interested to talk to someone who didn't read the book until after and get their thoughts. But I also wouldn't wish anyone to see the movie first and then read the book. I feel they'd be robbed too.

Did you enjoy it?
Yes. Not as much as the book, but that is impossible.

Would you see it in theaters again?
Nope. I would read the book again, though.

Would you rent it?
Probably not. I would check the book out from the library, though.

Would you buy it?
I would totally buy the book.

Would you watch it if you saw it was on TV?
Yes, I would turn the captions on and read it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fantastic Mr. Fox was...Fantastic (had to be done)

Based on the beloved book that I never read, Fantastic Mr. Fox is stop motion by one of my favorite directors. Wes Anderson's films already looked like meticulously crafted doll houses anyways, so why not do stop motion. What a great fit. I wouldn't care if Wes only did movies like this for the rest of his life. He could just do Roald Dahl stories too. Didn't he write a sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? I thought I remembered reading that book.

Anyways, I'm glad this movie came out this time of year. It really put me in a good mood. "Where the Wild Things Are" is to "The Men Who Stare at Goats" as "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is to "The Informant!" That's a difficult SAT question. No wonder I did so poorly.

Back to the movie at hand. Super fantastic. Well crafted, well voice acted, visually stunning. Plus, uplifting. I really can't recommend it enough.

Did you enjoy it?
Are you cussin' with me? Of course I did.

Would you see it in theaters again?
Of course I would. I'm a wild animal.

Would you rent it?
Totes magotes.

Would you buy it?
Or get it as a birthday present? huh? huh?

Would you watch it if you saw it was on TV?
Mos Def.