16 April 2016

A few words about Jim Ridley.



     I've started and restarted this probably about twenty times. Ironically, it's the sort of situation I would have eMailed or called Jim about.

     I don't know how to qualify Jim Ridley in a way that does him justice. For almost the past twenty years, he's been my mentor and my friend, and my editor for the vast majority of them as well. But he was more than that. 
     A partner-in-crime in putting together the lineups for the Belcourt's Twelve Hours of Terror. A source of more confidence than I ever had in myself. And the best movie buddy anyone could ever have... 
     That time that Tilda Swinton touched my shoulder, Jim was who I called first.

     Truthfully, neither of my parents have ever met anyone I ever dated, but Jim met three of them.

A few random tidbits of Ridleyana I cherish deeply:
     Summarizing over the phone the Brian DePalma/Eamonn Bowles kerfuffle at the NYFF press conference for Redacted.
     Our Sam Peckinpah sojourn, when we roadtripped to Atlanta with Zack Hall, for a pre-deadline screening of Prometheus, and back one Thursday night.
     Having the Umbrellas of Cherbourg/Futurama discussion.
     Opening night of Femme Fatale at the Green Hills 16, the most ecstatic moviegoing experience I ever had.
     Those VHS tapes of the Alien3 workprint and The Ring.
     The Cornetto Trilogy (see below).

     The post-Out 1 discussion at the 12 South Taproom, with old friends and new friends just tripping out on the mad possibilities of cinema.
     Friday afternoons and Monday mornings, when we'd talk about whatever we'd seen over the weekend. 
     Any of the times we were on panels together for the news. 
     When my Grandmother was dying of Alzheimer's and we talked for an hour about Kore-eda's After Life.
     His annual tradition of running through the aisles of the Belcourt during 12 Hours of Terror, gleefully pelting the audience with candy.

     It's not an exaggeration when I say that I don't know how the city is going to get by without him. I really don't think a lot of businesses, collectives, cooperatives, bands, and teams in and around this town really realize how much work Jim did to fix the cracks and fissures that come from unresolved tension and anger. 
     He was like Santa Claus or Baretta, but with a specialty in crisis management and resolution. He had a superhuman ability to sense if you were in distress, and was always willing to perform a surgically precise intervention if he saw you cornered at some social event in an enervating conversation. He was a model of graciousness and sincerity when dealing with anybody, and I was and am in awe of it.

     As an editor, he was the best kind of improv partner, “Yes and”ing a lot of borderline sweaty pitches that somehow yielded fruit. Seeing the same film in multiple formats, Eva Green saving otherwise crappy movies through sheer force of will and artful deployment of the groceries, an epic appreciation of Pootie Tang, a pair of Elm Street thinkpieces, a Laura Gemser-style investigative piece about why it was so difficult to see that last 3D Paranormal Activity movie. 
     He was both cheerleader and civic engineer, keeping you hyped and encouraged but also able to fix the foolishness that wasn't absolutely necessary.

     I regret that we never went through with dressing as Statler and Waldorf for one of the 12 Hours events.

     There was no feeling in the world like being able to show Jim something he'd never seen before; it was no easy task. He was a fountain of enthusiasm, and an amplifier for joy. He could make a bad movie bearable, and a good one great.

     So how, in the end, do I qualify Jim Ridley? It's not just that he made me a better writer, because he did that with everybody. But I look at who I was back before that fateful VHS of the Sundance Cut of The Blair Witch Project brought Jim into my life as a friend and colleague, and I know he helped make me a better human being, and I miss him so much I don't even know how to put it in words. 
     So I guess I'll have to rely on a few lines from one of the greats; an artist who fueled a lot of the best conversations I ever had with Jim.

“Sometimes I wish that life was never ending/
But all good things, they say, never last/
And love, it isn't love until it's past.”




21 February 2016

Catching up with Jason Shawhan.

Greetings, and my unlimited love to y'all.

So there's several things going on, and let's just bullet point this and get a move on (I have to go get some CD-Rs, Orange Mango Pineapple juice, and an iridescent sharpie from my local 24-hour emporium of stuff).

1) I had an amazing conversation with Jonny Gowow for the Scene. He's got a show coming up this week, and an album called Wide Stance that is worth your time and dollar$.

2) The VVitch opened this weekend, and I reviewed it over at the Scene. I've been getting a lot of attention for this review, which is always a good feeling, and if you're thinking about going to see it, or if you already have and are looking for some discussion, give it a read.

3) The Belcourt Theatre is currently closed for renovations, but has an amazing array of offsite events for the whole city of Nashville. The theatre has been closed since December 25th of last year, and its absence is like a thousand papercuts every day. I never feel its absence more than around midnight on the weekends, because I miss hosting the midnight screenings more than anyone can possibly know.

4) The Agents of Fortune, the comedy extravaganza I've been writing for over the past fourteen months, had its last live episode performance tonight, and I'm completely bowled over by it. It was never easy, but I'm proud of it, and look forward to its next incarnation and events. Yes, I am part of its tasteful underwear calendar, because I believe in art, and it's very rare that you get a chance to pay tribute to Tono Stano in print.

5) I'm going to Los Angeles at the beginning of March to visit some friends, take photos of revered locations, have some adventures, and maybe a few meetings on the industry side of things. I love being creative and funny, and am a big fan of making a few dollar$ as such. If you're a reader in the L.A. area, say Hi and show me your favorite parts of the city.

6) This is rumor control; here are the facts. There is no 100% reliable test for EoA (early-onset Alzheimer's), and the options available are pretty expensive and not easy to come by before a certain age. So I'm taking that aspect of things slowly. Until I hear back from the government regarding my appeal on my tax credit situation, I'm not interested in pushing the insurance envelope. So I'm just trying to be observant over the next few months. Though if you, or anyone you know, are a neurologist, I'm very interested in participating in research involving EoA linked to damage caused by/as a symptom of Klippel-Feil Syndrome. So feel free to help do a signal boost on that end.

7) As always, you can listen to a bunch of my clubmixes on my Mixcloud page. There's thirty-five different mixes currently, ranging from twelve minutes to 2 1/2 hours. As well as the first eighteen episodes of my weekly mixshow, Erase; Rewind (that Facebook page also has the tracklistings for every episode, so if there's one you like that hasn't been set up for streaming on Mixcloud, you can submit a request and I will do so), minus those awful commercials. Please do give a listen.

That's all for now. Be well, and be excellent to one another.

15 January 2016

At the movies: 13 Hours.

If you're familiar with some of previous reviews of the films of Michael Bay, you might wonder why I ended up reviewing his new film, 13 Hours. The universe is an unpredictable place.

Madonnarama.

Madonna is coming to Nastyville. Seventeen year-old me's mind just imploded.

31 December 2015

The Very Best of 2015.



TOP TEN:

1 BY THE SEA/CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA
Passionate, polyglot observations of the processes we set up for ourselves. We are unexceptional rocks; the beauty comes from what is revealed in the collisions of living, and loving, and engaging in amateur pharmacology, and exorcising the legacy of lovers past, and finding the way back to ourselves. Finding that victory, that pure sense of creation, and accomplishment, is a terrifying and amazing journey that goes through the weird shit. I clutch these films to my chest; there is always a way through whatever lies before us.

2 MAD MAX FURY ROAD
Everything people have been saying is true. A grand new myth for the coming horrors of our collective annihilation. Creates and passes the DodecaBechdel Test as well.

3 PHOENIX/SAINT LAURENT
A hall of elegant mirrors, where the wearing of clothes and the telling of tales seeks to hammer in place a vision of a life composed of moments, memories. Let's dig deep and get at the Who. Let's swandive into the shadows and see what we can find.

4 CAROL
Aesthetically flawless, semiotically charged, and filled, ultimately, with a fierce hope. When Carol Aird says “We are not ugly people,” it's the cinematic moment of the year. But in the actual world outside, in 2015, what with the Trumpery and the Tennessee state legislature, maybe that's not the case anymore. An immaculate jewel.

5 THE ASSASSIN/THE HATEFUL EIGHT/LI'L QUINQUIN
How is it that we psychotic apes have managed to survive as long as we have? The land itself bears the scent of our sickness, with blood spilled clinging to us like an unremovable shroud that tangles the knees and clouds the will to try and do better. Sometimes you have to laugh to keep from vomiting in terror. Sometimes you have to stay the course of the procedural to keep from slipping off the rails and into the abyss. Upholding expectations is not, however, an inherently moral act. And that awareness defines us.

6 MAGIC MIKE XXL
A utopian vision of egalitarian, pleasure-driven lives where the primary commodity is joy, not money, and smiles and orgasms are how a good day are properly measured.

7 THOU WAST MILD AND LOVELY/TOM AT THE FARM
Gloriously surreal maps of human desire, bound in exterior, 'other' spaces. Humor and horror only a heartbeat away at any given moment.

8 ARABIAN NIGHTS/CHI-RAQ/HARD TO BE A GOD/THE TRIBE
How does one actually forge a community? Is what we perceive as civilization a starting point, a hard-won but tenuous victory, a delusional pipe dream, or a hiccup on the metaphorical road to something else?

9 JUPITER ASCENDING/STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
Joyful intergalactic romps that reexamine (and in some cases gleefully explode) the structures that keep our imaginations (and selves) locked in a tiny corner of ignorant space. Mapping desires onto new bodies, new stars, and offering the widest continuua of enjoyment.

10 INSIDE OUT/LOVE 3D/THE MEND
Messy, maddening, meaningful visions of the heart and soul in crisis. The ritual brings catharsis. Sadness and helplessness fuels adaptation and evolution.

BEST DIRECTOR:

Bertrand Bonello (Saint Laurent)
Guillermo Del Toro (Crimson Peak)
Xavier Dolan (Tom At The Farm)
Fabrice Du Welz (Alleluia)
Miguel Gomes (Arabian Nights)
Todd Haynes (Carol)
Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson (The Forbidden Room)
George Miller (Mad Max Fury Road)
Gaspar Noe (Love)
Angelina Jolie Pitt (By The Sea)
Sam Taylor-Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey)
Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski (Jupiter Ascending)

BEST ACTOR:

Matt Damon (The Martian)
Benicio Del Toro (Sicario)
Tom Hanks (Bridge of Spies)
Stephen Plunkett (The Mend)
Bernard Pruvost (Lil' Quinquin)
Gaspard Ulliel (Saint Laurent)
Leonid Yarmolnik (Hard to be a God)

BEST ACTRESS:

Cate Blanchett (Carol)
Luisa Cruz (Arabian Nights Volume 2: The Desolate One)
Anne Dorval (Mommy)
Lola Duenas (Alleluia)
Amy Everson (Felt)
Nina Hoss (Phoenix)
Rinko Kikuchi (Kumiko The Treasure Hunter)
Lola Kirke (Mistress America)
Teyonah Parris (Chi-Raq)
Charlize Theron (Mad Max Fury Road)
Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina)
Arielle Walker (Heaven Knows What)


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

Louis Garrel (Saint Laurent)
Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina)
James Marsden (The D Train)
Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton)
Michael Pena (Ant-Man)
Colin Quinn (Trainwreck)
Michael Stuhlbarg (Steve Jobs)


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

Jessica Chastain (Crimson Peak)
Deanna Dunagan (The Visit)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (Anomalisa)
Julianne Moore (Maps to the Stars)
Jada Pinkett (Magic Mike XXL)
Kristen Stewart (American Ultra)
Kristen Stewart (Clouds of Sils Maria)
Mickey Sumner (The Mend)
Mya Taylor (Tangerine)
Tessa Thompson (Creed)
Katherine Waterston (Queen of Earth)


BEST SCREENPLAY:

Olivier Assayas (Clouds of Sils Maria)
Bruno Dumont (Lil' Quinquin)
Joel Edgerton (The Gift)
Rick Famuyiwa (Dope)
Drew Goddard (The Martian)
Charlie Kaufman (Anomalisa)
Max Landis (American Ultra)
John Magary (The Mend)
Phyllis Nagy (Carol)
Abderrahmane Sissako and Kessen Tall (Timbuktu)
Quentin Tarantino (The Hateful Eight)


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:

Peter Andrews (Magic Mike XXL)
Sean Baker and Radium Cheung (Tangerine)
Christian Berger (By The Sea)
Roger Deakins (Sicario)
Josee Deshaies (Saint Laurent)
Stuart Dryburgh (Blackhat)
Erdely Matyas (Son of Saul)
Vladimir Ilin and Yuriy Klimenko (Hard to be a God)
Alwin Kuchler (Steve Jobs)
Dan Laustsen (Crimson Peak)
Mark Lee Ping-Bin (The Assassin)
Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant)
John Mathieson and Seamus McGarvey (Pan)
Sayombhu Mukdeeprom (Arabian Nights)
Robert Richardson (The Hateful Eight)


BEST 3D:

In the Heart of The Sea
Jupiter Ascending
Love
The Martian
Pan
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension
Point Break
The Spongebob Squarepants Movie
The Walk

BEST EDITING:

Clouds of Sils Maria
The Gift
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Last Shift
Love
Mad Max Fury Road
Saint Laurent

BEST COSTUMES:

Crimson Peak
Eden
Jupiter Ascending
Love
Saint Laurent
Tangerine

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN:

Crimson Peak
Hard To Be A God
Jupiter Ascending
Mad Max Fury Road
The Martian
The Night Before
The Revenant
Saint Laurent

BEST DOCUMENTARY:

Amy
Approaching the Elephant
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of The Revolution
The Creeping Garden
Don't Think I've Forgotten
In Jackson Heights
The Look of Silence

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:

Chappie
Ex Machina
The Last Witch Hunter
The Martian
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

BEST ORIGINAL SONG:

“The Final Derriere” (The Forbidden Room)
“Flashlight” (Pitch Perfect 2)
“Grip” (Creed)
“Love Me Like You Do” (Fifty Shades of Grey)
“Mean Ol' Moon” (Ted 2)
“None of Them are You” (Anomalisa)

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:

Alleluia
By The Sea
Carol
The Creeping Garden
The Duke of Burgundy
For The Plasma
Girlhood
The Hateful Eight
It Follows
Mad Max Fury Road
Maps To The Stars
The Revenant


BEST RESTORATION:

The American Friend
Until The End of The World
Rocco and His Brothers
The Decline of Western Civilization Trilogy
The Swimmer
Out 1
The Miracle Woman
The Apu Trilogy
Apocalypse Now


BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:

Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai
Alleluia
Arabian Nights
Eden
Girlhood
Hard to Be a God
Lil' Quinquin
Saint Laurent
Timbuktu
Tom at The Farm
The Tribe

BEST SUPPORTED ACTOR:

Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation)
Louis Garrel (Saint Laurent)
Tom Hardy (Mad Max Fury Road)
Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Olafur Darri Olafsson (The Last Witch Hunter)
Michael Pena (Ant-Man)
Stephen Plunkett (The Mend)
James Ransone (Sinister 2)
Clemens Schick (Point Break)
Michael Stuhlbarg (Steve Jobs)


WORST PICTURE:

Black Mass
Hot Tub Time Machine 2
The Lazarus Effect
Seventh Son
Stonewall
Terminator: Genisys



SONGS OF THE YEAR: 2015

1 Brandon Flowers/Lonely Town
2 Carly Rae Jepsen/Your Type
3 Sparks/The Final Derriere
4 Chvrches/Clearest Blue
5 The Weeknd/The Hills
6 Madonna/Ghost Town
7 Sufjan Stevens/John My Beloved
8 Ryan Adams/Style
9 Jidenna/Classic Man
10 New Order/Plastic
11 Chromatics/Yes (Symmetry Remix)
12 Adele/Hello (NOLA Bounce Mix)
13 JR Castro/Get Home
14 One Direction/Perfect
15 Jeremih/Royalty
16 Hailee Steinfeld/Flashlight (Math Club Remix)
17 Jonny Telafone/The Prayer
18 Prince/Screwdriver
19 J. Cole/Wet Dreamz
20 Taylor Swift/New Romantics



ALBUMS OF THE YEAR: 2015

1 Carly Rae Jepsen/E MO TION
2 Chvrches/Every Open Eye
3 Sufjan Stevens/Carrie and Lowell
4 The Weeknd/Beauty Behind The Madness
5 Shamir/Ratchet
6 (tie) Robyn & La Bagatelle Magique/Love is Free EP
Susanne Sundfor/Ten Love Songs
7 Trickfinger
8 New Order/Music Complete
9 Giorgio Moroder/Deja Vu
10 Grimes/Art Angels


TV OF THE YEAR: 2015
(in alphabetical order)

Broad City
Community
Difficult People
Grace and Frankie
Hannibal
Inside Amy Schumer
Key and Peele
Nathan for You
Penny Dreadful
Review
Rick and Morty
Sense8