Amoeblog

No "best of" 2012, just "films I saw in 2012" and "films that looked good in 2012"

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 28, 2012 03:42pm | Post a Comment
Best of 2012

Around this time of year (i.e. the end of it), film fans usually trot out their "Best of" Lists. As much as I'd like to do the same, I don't even think that I saw ten films this year. Of those I really enjoyed only a few which is why I don't ever make these lists but I'm always looking for more films to love.

10,000 films


Part of the problem is that I rarely see what end up being my favorites in the year that they're released -- does anyone? About 10,000 films were released on the planet so how do people find their favorites before the planet goes full circle around the sun... and how are those films supposed to find their fans that fast?


Of the films that I saw, I quite liked The master although though, as with most PT Anderson films, felt like it gave me more to hold onto than truly admire. Skyfall was mostly satisfying although the pacing allowed my mind to repeatedly dwell on Bond's waxed cotton jacket more than the story. I thought The Dark Knight rises, though deeply silly and self-serious, was really exhilarating. Flight, on the other hand, was deeply silly and self-serious yet not exhilarating at all after the opening scene -- for some reason I've seen nearly every Robert Zemeckis film despite having not honestly liked any since 1985's Back to the future. As someone who can't get enough Middle Earth I thought The Hobbit: an unexpected journey was flawed but enjoyable ...and frequently just... too much. I remember The campaign and Wanderlust both being pleasantly diverting when I saw them but now they've almost entirely extricated themselves from my memory. Tim and Eric's billion dollar movie was bizarre and should've been annoying but was mildly amusing. Casa de mi padre was bizarre and should've been amusing but was mildly annoying. 

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Iran in the Local News

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 10, 2008 08:26pm | Post a Comment

I caught a “local news” story the other day on one of the local stations. Under the headline “Desert Wonderland?” they ran footage of snow in Iran and (with those slightly robotic chuckles that all newscasters are able to activate thanks to their Hillary Clinton Brand emotion chips) they talked about what was made out to seem a freak occurrence, or at least a newsworthy event. I mean, weather in Tehran isn't exactly local.


I admit, before I ever watched an Iranian film or visited Tehrangeles, I had only the vaguest notions of what the country and its people looked like. I kind of reckoned that the middle east was one big sandy desert sparsely populated with turbaned Arabs and veiled harem girls. I am, after all, a product of Hollywood stereotypes and American public schools where we prefer to teach about 1000 years of Dark Ages serf rebellions in Europe rather than even mention the developments in math, science, technology, literature and the arts occurring at the same time in the Muslim world which helped jump started the Renaissance.

Our country’s relationship with Iran has been prickly ever since the 1953 CIA-orchestrated Project Ajax, in which their elected (and secular) leader Mohammed Mosaddeq was removed from power after he nationalized Iran’s oil industry, knowing full well that Iran’s oil belonged to England! Perhaps because of this (despite Iran frequently being in the news over the decades since) it has felt like there’s a ban on showing any actual images from the country, lest the American people start to recognize it as an actual country and not the hatred-stirring bogeyman it’s made out to be by politicians and the media when it's time for uniting we the people in mistrust and xenophobia.

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Alhambra - The Gateway to the San Gabriel Valley

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 5, 2007 05:00pm | Post a Comment
Mission Road Arch Alhambra

I had to go to
Alhambra to see a man about a horse at the bidding of the original the always radiant Ngoc Nguyen. To vote for another Los Angeles neighborhood, vote here. To vote for a Los Angeles County Community, vote here. To vote for more Orange County communites, click here

Michelangelo Antonio Dead

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 31, 2007 10:05pm | Post a Comment
Michelangelo Antonioni died yesterday. He was partially paralyzed by a stroke in 1985 and unable to speak for the last 22 years.

 

He began his career in the 1930s but really began to make a name for himself in the 1950's. While his peers made gritty, immediate neo-realist films focusing on social issues and the struggles of the poor, Antonioni used film to examine the space between bourgeois characters with a highly refined and stylized directorial aesthetic.


In 1960 he released L'Avventura starring the iconic Monica Vitti. It was a radical departure from European film before it. The film remains an amazing depiction and evocation of alienation and dread. Its title is seemingly ironic (although "avventura" also means "fling," apparently, in addition to "adventure").

His subjects were almost always aimless, wealthy and unhappy. The films invariable had very long takes, minimal dialog and a surface that prevents the viewer from coming up with easy answers to Antonioni's implied questions.  L'Avventura and his subsequent films practically filled the screen with emptiness. Il Deserto Rosso (1964), his first color film, remains one of the bleakest and most beautiful films I've ever seen. I'm sure Criterion will "present" it in the months to come. It also has one of Giovanni Fusco's best scores, mostly consisting of disconcerting electronic beeps and belches (and silence), not to mention amazing Carlo Di Palma's amazing and ground-breaking cinematography.