Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

Hitting The Slide: Year of Bests – 2012

As I mentioned in April, last year I did not have a chance to publish a year-end piece on those web articles (many of them on friends’ blogs) I read and most admired. Certainly, the complicating issue was the number of marvelously written posts out there, along with not enough time to do it all. But now, we’ve started what I like to refer as The Slide. The cosmic phenomenon that is the beginning of the end for whatever year you or I happen to be living through. You know the one where the space/time continuum accelerates to the point that the annum is suddenly over. And, all of those things that happen between now and the end of the Rose Parade are just a blur. A fleeting memory. October 1st… January 2nd.  So, this is the next entry for spotlighting those authors and their online pieces I most enjoyed in the third quarter of the calendar period.

Time’s a wastin’, so shall we get going?

Although it was written in mid-June, I didn’t catch Film School Rejects‘ Justin Harrison and his exemplary article on two of my favorite arts, film and music, till the start of July. So, I’ll count it here.

Death Set to Moby, Life Set to Mogwai: 5 Instances of Music Making a Scene

“Mann’s soundtracks are usually a mix of contemporary rock, house music, a slow and/or seductive piece for particularly romantic moments and several compositions written specifically for the film by his composer. At least once in every one of his films that I have had a chance to see, Mann takes a piece from his soundtrack and sets it to a climactic or character defining scene and the resulting moment never fails to astound.”


One of the first film bloggers I ever started following, Dennis Cozzalio regularly ruminates on film over at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule with a unique perspective. And he came up with a doozy on the Fourth of July with a number of distinct double-feature sets for the occasion.

WILD, DANGEROUS, IMPERFECT GRANDEUR: EIGHT DOUBLE FEATURES ABOUT AMERICA

“I believe that patriotism entails honesty, a willingness to celebrate not only the energy and enthusiasm of living in a society like ours, but also confronting the enduring implications of its wildness, its inequities, its self-delusions, its diversity, its restlessness, its brutality, its paranoia and its political and social mythologies.”


Daniel (aka PG Cooper of PG Cooper Movie Reviews) did the difficult in the seventh month of the year in prep for The Dark Knight Rises première. He wrote about a movie that I hate, but made it both wonderfully critical and entertaining (something the film in question wasn’t).

Batman and Robin Review

“You can’t talk about Mr. Freeze without somebody making a Batman and Robin joke. Even though Schumacher did a horrible job with every villain he touched, none of them had the lasting impact that Freeze did. People still remember Frank Gorshin as the Riddler instead of Jim Carrey, Nolan redeemed Two-Face with The Dark Knight and looks to be redeeming Bane with The Dark Knight Rises, and no one really remembers Thurman’s Poison Ivy. But to the general public, Freeze is still associated with puns and Arnold Schwarzenegger.”


Speaking about The Dark Knight RisesDarren Mooney of the m0vie blog. provided what I think was the best primer to fans unacquainted with the key character of the film.

The Dark Knight Rises 101: Or, Tell Me About Bane

“The problem with Bane is that he existed solely to fill an editorial mandate. During the nineties, the writers on DC’s Batman books had a plan for a massive, game-changing story. The idea was that Bruce Wayne would be forced to give up the cowl, and that he would be replaced by Azrael, a darker and edgier counterpart. The story, known as Knightfall, is something of a thematic counterpoint to The Death and Return of Superman.”


Author Joe Maddrey (of the MOVIES MADE ME blog) highlighted one of the seminal drama/horror/mystery films of the 90s, and gave it a very special meaning.

MOVIES MADE ME #48: JACOB’S LADDER

“The lone angel of JACOB’S LADDER, played by Danny Aiello, explains this by paraphrasing the German mystic Meister Eckhart: “If you’re frightened of dying, you’ll see devils tearing your life away.  But if you’ve made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the earth.”  Jacob’s inward journey is (like Nancy’s journey in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET) about overcoming fear and embracing death.  That’s the only way he can truly beat the demons. “


Throughout the warm months, author John Kenneth Muir has examined a provocative set of films at his blog, Reflections on Cult Movies and Classic Television. “I have characterized the “Savage Cinema” as a series of films that revolve, specifically, around the problem of violence in our culture.

Savage Friday: Bonnie and Clyde

“Starring Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, Bonnie and Clyde is widely considered a cause celebre of the so-called “American New Wave,” or the “New Hollywood” movement that sprung-up in the mid-1960s.  What this categorization means is that films such as Penn’s speak to a more educated and younger audience.”


Speaking of savage cinema… writer Bryce Wilson of Things That Don’t Suck freakishly spoke to my stunned mind and nailed the essence of something dark when he wrote about one particular William Friedkin film (which we saw separately within days of each other).

Killer Joe

“It’s a film that provoked in me continued gouts of horrified laughter, not so much because I found what was happening funny, but as a futile attempt to purge myself. Here for once is a film that earns every inch of it’s NC-17 rating, and if you don’t go into the film expecting an ugly, ugly wallow it will take your face clean off.”


Good friend Dan (the Fogs of Fogs Movie Reviews) really connected with me and my first time with a formative film from decades ago with another of his ‘movies everyone should see’ articles. Way to go, my friend.

Movies Everyone Should See: The Graduate

““The Graduate” is a brilliant movie. At times, especially early, there’s a dark comedic sensibility revolving around Benjamin’s discomfort. But mainly, the movie spoke to the growing dissatisfaction of that generation with the status quo, and their desire to follow the heart as opposed to some predetermined path. It’s a movie about breaking free of expectations.”


Some of the most keen and historically informative film articles I’ve read this year were penned by the aptly named Aurora over at her blog, Once upon a screen… And the best example of that was this one that christened September.

The culture at Warner Bros.

“But if there’s one aspect of brand America film has helped build in the last century, it is its promise, the promise of the opportunity to pursue life, liberty and happiness.  Mass audiences didn’t get the promise of America from books or from music or American folk art – they got it from our movies.”


Bob Reiss (aka the Guilded Earlobe over at his blog of the same name) listens and skillfully reviews audiobooks like nobody’s business. And it was his review of what I think will become a classic sci-fi novel that got me to tee it up (and agree with everything he said about it).

Audiobook Review: Year Zero

“If I can compare a book to Ready Player One, Agent to the Stars and The Hitchhikers Guide, then it should be a given that I loved it. I did. Year Zero may be the most pure fun I had listening to a book this year. There was enough inappropriate laugh out loud moments that the weird looks I began receiving from strangers and coworkers became part of the scenery. Year Zero is the kind of accessible, pop culture ridden science fiction that should be embraced by a wide audience.”


A blogger I only recently discovered, the Mike in MikesFilmTalk, who shares an appreciation of the Western genre like I do, took a historical look at a modern oater that just keeps getting better, in my and others eyes, through the years.

Tombstone (1993): OK Corral and After

“So I sat down today and started researching the film and its subject matter again. I am not a stranger to the town of Tombstone and the disputes and daily arguments between the main factions. I have always had a fascination for the infamous gunfight at the OK Corral and the Earp’s ride of retribution afterwards.”


The horror blogger known as B-Sol has long covered the genre with distinction at The Vault of Horror. His wonderful look-back piece at a classic 50s monster film, one that’s held my imagination since childhood, certainly did it justice.

Retro Review: Them! (1954)

“Strangely enough, Warner Bros. didn’t have very much confidence in this film–a prime example of the giant, radioactive monster craze of the 1950s that would go on to be their most successful picture of 1954. It would also become one of the classics of the so-called “silver age” of horror, and one of the most fun flicks a genre fan could possibly hope for.”


Easily one of my favorite crime and noir writers, like ever, I discovered only a couple of years ago, hails from Ireland. And one of the best interviews I’ve read this year was done by the Minnesotan who writes for State of Mind.

Interview with Ken Bruen

What is it like to write Galway?  Is there a difference between writing a city and writing about a city?  I’ve read interviews where your purpose with Jack’s character—and, for that matter, Galway’s character—is to obliterate the tropes and assumptions about Irish men and their mothers, for instance.  The dark rendering of Galway (and Ireland in general) certainly seems to serve that purpose as well.

I want to obliterate the Ireland of The Quiet Man and merry priest and lovable Mum’s and all that horseshite we lay under for generations, to have a cool unique city that young people can feel is theirs and not some relic from the years of grinding poverty.

As I mentioned, Kevin (aka Jack Deth) contributed handsomely to the recent What A Character blogathon over at Paula’s Cinema Club last week, with another wonderful piece for a character actor just about any moviegoer has seen, but may have trouble coming up with the name.

What a Character: Richard Jaeckel by Jack Deth

“The guy who nods sagely to the Sergeant’s or Lieutenant’s words of advice. The kid brother who tries to stop his hot-headed older sibling from seeking revenge on a cattle rustler. The always-smiling Army GI who’s young enough and smart enough to jump at the offer to spend some time off the front lines of the frozen Ardennes forest during the Battle of the Bulge.”


Lest I forget, Aurora over at her blog, Once upon a screen…  did the same, and so splendidly, for one of my all-time favorite character actors.

Thelma Ritter, WHAT A CHARACTER!

“I love Thelma in Pillow Talk and she received one of her Academy Award nominations for playing Alma.  But in truth, it’s a silly role that has her either nursing that hangover or listening to Brad on the party line. Only someone with the acting chops of a Ritter could pull it off as far as making it memorable, in my opinion.  She does.”


Finally, another blogger I’ve only recently had to pleasure to read and follow, the very generous Morgan of Morgan on Media, slipped an epic one in before the curtain closed on this quarter.

Lawrence of Arabia

“Due to its length, Lawrence of Arabia may not be an impulse viewing for most people. But it’s still a very worthy picture to check out when you have the time to devote to it. I would say that your patience would be rewarded, but very little patience is actually required, as there is nary a tiring moment in the film. The film may be four hours long, but it’s well worth those four hours.”


18 Responses to “Hitting The Slide: Year of Bests – 2012”

  1. John Kenneth Muir

    Hi Michael,

    It’s a pleasure and honor to be included on this list of bests. I want to thank you for drawing attention to plenty of wonderful work here, from Joe’s great JACOB’s LADDER review, to B-Sol’s retrospective on one of my favorite giant bug movies, THEM.

    I will have to catch up with some of the other posts here too, but I want to thank you for once more providing an essential film studies reading list (and viewing list, too…).

    best,
    John

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      Always my pleasure to endorse your excellent work, John. There were some wonderful posts and articles this summer season and it was good to highlight some them. Many thanks, my friend.

      Reply
  2. Joe

    Excellent list, Michael, and thanks for the nod to my Jacob’s Ladder review. The only problem is that now I’m going to have to spend all morning reading these blogs… Doesn’t bode well for my day job….

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      Well, you nailed those aspects that made ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ so damn special, Joe. Your article deserved the spotlight. Hope you got to work on time ;-). Thanks, my friend.

      Reply
  3. ruth

    Great list! I love Paula’s What a Character blogathon, what a fantastic idea! Great photo up there too, I LOVE Autumn!

    Reply
  4. Fogs' Movie Reviews

    Heh THE Fogs. That’s right. Accept no substitutes. LOL :D

    Thanks for the linkage. Glad you liked that post, I had a good time with that one. Lots to write about on that movie, you know?

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      THE FOGS, just like, THE MAN ;-). It was a great piece on a film that meant a lot when it came out. Thanks, Dan.

      Reply
  5. Morgan R. Lewis

    Thanks for the linkage, and for all the support you’ve given. Means a lot. Quite a fine collection of links up there as well; looks like I’ve got more reading to do. :D

    Reply
  6. pgcooper1939

    Wow, I’m beyond honoured to be featured here. Thank you Michael, both for featuring me and bringing my attention to other bloggers.

    Reply
  7. Eric

    Love these “best of” posts, Michael. That’s a great batch of articles you selected there, and I remember a few of those fondly. Also really enjoyed that America double features link — thanks for sharing!

    Reply

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