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My 10 Favorite Films of 2014

February 20, 2015 Leave a comment

My goal is to always get a top ten list done by Oscar time. With the Academy’s big day right around the corner, I’m keeping this short and to the point. I wasn’t blown away by 2014’s film offerings. Sorry. I seem to be in the minority, but there were a lot of disappointments, a lot of films I just liked and only a few that I really loved. My list last year took a good long while to curate. This one… not so much.

But all that mediocrity doesn’t take anything away from these movies! They stand up on their own as impressive works, and not just because they look good in comparison to Boyhood, the most staggeringly overrated hunk of garbage I’ve seen in a long, long time. As Delroy Lindo once said in Get Shorty, “I’ve seen better film on teeth.”

Now’s not the time to dwell on nostalgic horseshit, however. We’ll

leave that to Richard Linklater. No, now is the time for my ten favorite films of 2014. I won’t go deep into descriptions since all of these movies have been out a good long while, but I’ll do my best to sell them in a couple of lines for those Read more…

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In Memory of Gordon Willis (1931-2014)

Well, this is sad news. With film stock itself knocking on death’s door, a true master of the art of cinematography has now died. Gordon Willis was 82.

I can’t say anything about his astounding career that hasn’t already been said. I’m just a melancholy fan, even though he hadn’t worked on a film in 17 years. When he was working, it was almost always with directors of the highest caliber. Great directors know how to pick the best cinematographers, which is why Willis’ name is attached to so many classics. Francis Ford Coppola and Woody Allen, men whose movies helped define 1970s film, looked to Read more…

The Trailer for P.T. Anderson’s Latest Film, ‘The Master’, is Amazing!

May 21, 2012 1 comment


This is stating the obvious, but Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the greatest directors working today. Although he has only made five features so far, each one has been distinct and fascinating. I struggle with coming up with a favorite of his films. Magnolia (named after a street not far from me) is a triumph in so many ways, with its blend of humor and tragedy and coincidence… or are there coincidences? With There Will Be Blood, Anderson took a departure from the multi-storyline format of some of his previous films and focused the narrative on Daniel Day-Lewis’ superb portrayal of Daniel Plainview, resulting in one of the most impressive character studies ever. However, his most watchable movie for me is probably still his second feature, Boogie Nights— a hilarious/poignant/tragic look at a young porn star named Dirk Diggler, who reaches heights he only imagined in the ’70s but then it all crumbles for him in the ’80s (which is similar to Henry Hill’s fall from the top in Scorsese’s GoodFellas).

He may not be prolific, but Paul Thomas Anderson (or PTA) continues to make one remarkable film after Read more…

Quick and Minor Update About ShortCuts the Podcast

Jordan and Devin recording an episode of ShortCuts

This is just a quick update regarding the state of ShortCuts the Podcast. Season 1 went quite smoothly and Devin Marble and I had a blast while recording. Even though we haven’t had the time to jump on Season 2 as quick as we originally planned, the wheels are actually in motion. We have one interview in the can and another planned in the coming week or so. With a little luck ambition, we should be going live with the new podcast episodes soon(ish).

In the meantime, go back and enjoy some of the interviews from Season 1. Additionally, Devin has started a blog of his own which he will also use to post various updates about the podcast. More importantly, however, he’ll be offering some insights, observations, and questions every Read more…

In Memory of Donald “Duck” Dunn

This is first and foremost a movie blog, but I wanted to write a little something about legendary bass player Donald “Duck” Dunn. He played in the band Booker T. & the M.G.’s, and he also worked on countless records recorded under the Stax music label and can be heard on some of the most famous blues, soul, and rock tunes that have ever been made. He was a frequent collaborator with my favorite singer of all-time, Otis Redding. Dunn died today, May 13th, while on tour in Japan with his friend, guitarist Steve Cropper.

He is prominently featured in the film The Blues Brothers, one of the funniest films ever and probably the only musical that I really, truly love. A clip from one of the film’s musical performances is above (you can skip over the advertisement in the beginning). Make sure to look for Dunn in the back, playing his bass and smoking a pipe like a badass. As someone who almost exclusively listens to blues and soul music, this is a sad day. Read more…

My Thoughts on ‘The Five-Year Engagement’ (*SPOILER ALERT… kinda)

April 12, 2012 2 comments

LACMA's program for 'The Five-Year Engagement'

Jason Segel is a funny man. I think Forgetting Sarah Marshall is one of the standout comedies since the Apatow-style humor started to take hold after the release of The 40 Year Old Virgin. Segel stole every scene he was in throughout Knocked Up. He’s far more talented than that god-awful TV show he’s on, How I Met Your Mother (they must pay him a truck load). Because of his talent and likability, I expect that when he co-writes a romantic comedy with his writing partner/director Nicholas Stoller that it will exceed my expectations. The Five-Year Engagement (opening April 27th) does rise above most middle-of-the-road, brain dead romantic comedies out there… barely.

I went to see an early screening of The Five-Year Engagement at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The film is more comedic than romantic thanks to Segel’s and Stoller’s frequently hilarious screenplay. In the film, Segel plays a promising chef who follows the love of his life (played well by Emily Blunt) from San Francisco to the freezing Read more…

Stanley Kubrick’s Film Treasures Are Coming to L.A.

I received some tremendous news in the mail the other day from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Starting October 28th (earlier for members like myself), the museum will unveil a retrospective of the work from genius director Stanley Kubrick. It’s events like this one that make me glad I live in LA.

From the description on the LACMA website, “Stanley Kubrick is the first large-scale retrospective of the filmmaker’s work in the United States. Developed in collaboration with the Kubrick Estate and the Deutsches Filmmuseum, the exhibition provides access to Kubrick’s extraordinary vision and working methods. Early photographs made for Look magazine in the 1940s suggest an obsession with historical research and visual detail, which characterize Kubrick’s groundbreaking directorial achievements of the 1960s through the 1990s. Each of Kubrick’s main film projects is examined in detail through archival material, costumes, set models, and props. The exhibition also Read more…