As part of our Ultimate Playbill project, each week a faculty member will take the time to extol the virtues of one of the beloved films on this list. This week, I tackle GWC’s #4 pick, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch Drunk Love (2002).
Paul Thomas Anderson is my favorite living and active filmmaker so I was overjoyed to see two of his films make the Ultimate Playbill. His themes of broken people trying to find a place through a makeshift, damaged family always speak to me. It also made my day that Punch Drunk Love, one of his lesser talked about films made the cut.
By 2002, PTA was one of the hottest new voices in film. With Boogie Nights (1997) and Magnolia (1999) under his belt, the film world was at his feet. And as the strongest new director to come out of Hollywood in a very long time, Anderson really could have done whatever he wanted. Instead he chose to make a film that many people at the time considered a misstep: an Adam Sandler movie.
As part of our Ultimate Playbill project, each week a faculty member will take the time to extol the virtues of one of the beloved films on this list. This week, I tackle holybeeofephesus’s #3 pick, Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York (2002).
I’m not going to lie, I was a bit mad and disappointed when Gangs of New York ended up on our favorite movies of the last fifteen years. Martin Scorsese’s tale of of historical revenge set in Five Points of Manhattan was not a favorite of mine. The story is simple enough: In 1846, the Five Points was a gang laden part of New York. People claiming to be Nativist (American born people of British descent) are led by William “Bill the Butcher” Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis), a man hell bent on keeping control over and away from freshly immigrated people. His main rival is Priest Vallon ( Liam Neeson) and his gang the Dead Rabbits, comprised of newly immigrated Irish Catholics. Bill manages to kill Vallon and subdue the war but not before Vallon’s son Amsterdam witness the act and manages to flee. 16 years later, Amsterdam (Leonardo DiCaprio) returns and infiltrates Bill’s Nativist gang in the hopes of killing him for revenge.
The last time I saw it was in 2002 and besides Daniel Day-Lewis, I was feeling very let down by what I watched. I didn’t know what to make of it besides it being a giant mess ending with a horrible attempt by U2 at winning an Oscar. Scorsese was (and still is) a cornerstone of what makes me a cinephile, so I felt very strongly in my opinion that Scorsese made a misstep with the film. Because I hardly ever heard it spoken in film circles in the past 14 years since it was released, I felt validated with my assessment of the film. It lay forgotten in my mind until it was included in the draft, and I was forced to question my opinion of Scorsese’s huge movie.
The beauty of the Ultimate Playbill is that it has given me a reason to reevaluate my past conceptions of films, loved or hated. Rewatches have been all over the map but for some reason I felt excited to rewatch Gangs. I am glad I gave it another chance because while I still have a lot of problems with the film, the final product is something truly cinematic. To understand the film, It is necessary to provide some context to the production and lengths Scorsese and team went to get the film exactly how they wanted.
Hayao Miyazaki is without a doubt one of my favorite filmmakers. I can prattle on and on about his movies but I’ve always liked some more than others. For me he had two movies that I liked but just referred to them as his “delightful” movies. They were great to look at and I had fun watching them but I didn’t find much to unpack after viewing.
One of the two was Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) but I recently had the chance to see it in a theater (in 35mm no less!) I was just going, because, honestly, I could see it for free and I love seeing actual film in a theater. But it knocked me on my ass. It touched me more than I ever thought it could.
A little background on me: last time I watched this movie I was still in high school and living at home. While the idea of striking out on my own like Kiki does at age 13 seemed very cool to me, I just thought the whole film was a pleasant A to B story without much else happening. Flash forward almost a decade later and I am in the huge new city of Los Angeles struggling to figure out my life.
As part of our Ultimate Playbill project, each week a faculty member will take the time to extol the virtues of one of the beloved films on this list. This week, I tackle djlazybear’s #3 pick, Inside Llewyn Davis (2013).
Defining yourself is no easy task. One often finds themselves during a course of hardship in their life and uses the experience to paint a much clearer picture of their ideal self. The Coen Brothers have made it their mission with their films to shatter this idea and show people trapped in their cyclical natures.
With Inside Llewyn Davis, the Coen Brothers made their cruelest film showcasing this point. While some may argue for No Country for Old Men (2007), that film actually ended on a note that people still have a fire in them. Inside Llewyn Davis has none of that and remains a ton more relatable than No Country to the average person caught up in the same cycle.
Using the early 1960’s New York – Greenwich Village folk scene as a springboard, the Coens leap into the frustrating tale of Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) and his inability to break through musically, financially, and through his own depression.
Playlist By Committee is a subdivision of the Institute of Idle Time dedicated to the preservation of the mixtape format. Each month, four governing members and one guest contributor choose a theme and each pick five songs that best correspond to that theme. The songs are then reviewed and ranked by the committee, with the the top songs being added until an 80 minute blank CD is filled. The list is then published via Mixcloud for the listening pleasure of all who seek it. This is our 4th playlist.
Idle Timers are a group of people who value escapism, it’s part of the reason we all came together (okay, and to assert our opinions). While the earliest PBC lists were about individual artists/bands, we quickly moved onto themes. While different from one another, they always had a quality of music that took you somewhere be it a cave or a drug induced coma.
With our guest this month, GWC decided to pick one theme that reached into the whimsy side of IT. Those songs that have such an otherworldly feel, that you can’t held but be transported to another world. So here we have an assortment of various songs that will take us all over the places all over our mind. We’ll start with a little psychedelic explosion before cruising over to an electronic dreamscape and finally ending in the haunting world of your mind. We hope you can stay with us the entire flight.
To me, the Vision is the character I would get stuck playing as in the Captain America and the Avengers arcade game even though I wanted to be Hawkeye (I never forgave you Jeff; you just wanted to spite me). I always kind of held that against him and never found myself interested in him. His villain “father” Ultron was always the most interesting aspect of the character. Hell, I didn’t even think he was interesting in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Other than that, he was just that robot that was famous for crying. Those low expectations proved to be a blessing for Vision.
The story is simple enough: the Vision has decided to create a family for himself and move them out to the suburbs of Virginia right outside Washington D.C., while he acts as the Avengers liaison to the White House. His new wife Virginia struggles with bringing her family together while brother/sister twins Vin and Viv deal with high school. On paper, that sounds like a relatively bland and tired story of a hero trying to manage the stress of home life with the duties of being a superhero. Thankfully, Vision is not that story. It is a horror/morality tale about isolation while struggling with one’s own depression and anxiety. Continue reading The Best of All New All Different Marvel #1: Vision→
In the above clip from Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), I feel like my drinking habits are perfectly summed up. Part of me just wants a straight simple whiskey and the other half wants something a little more exotic . All of this becomes irrelevant when my gut (played by the bartender in the clip) tells me “get the cheapest, strongest drink because you are broke.”
So yes, all of this has conditioned me to become a little connoisseur of the cheap whiskey. While I do love a nice whiskey or bourbon (I will always remember my time with you Pappy Van Winkle), my conscience has helped me find my cheap medium. This guide will show you what to avoid and guide to you to an easy, cheap, drinkable whiskey.
When I was young, I thought a whiskey with a name based on a joke must be catered to those with an economic taste in mind. Sadly, I was terribly wrong. The only positive is that if you drink it with Trader Joe’s shitty beer, Simpler Times, you can reminisce about the past where you didn’t buy those things. Continue reading That’s the (cheap) spirit!→
Before I even begin, I have to say how insane it is that MAD MAX FURY ROAD is an OSCAR NOMINATED BEST PICTURE. Never thought I’d ever type that or for that matter even GET another Mad Max movie from George Miller, writer/director of the three previous films.
The nomination is both completely deserving and impressive coming from the notoriously cantankerous closed-minded Academy. I’m glad that they managed to see the extreme craft of a movie that features a man getting his jaw pulled off via a chain tied to a moving wheel. While that sounds like sarcasm, I am dead serious about the movie using the kind of thoughtful craft and storytelling only possible in cinema.
I stress the storytelling in the movie because the plot of the movie is so simple it can be drawn on a napkin. In a post-apocalyptic Australia where resources are scarce, Max (Tom Hardy) is captured by an evil warlord named Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Bryne) who subjects his people to scant necessities and takes the women for himself in order to procreate. One of Joe’s lieutenants (Imperators), Furiosa (Charlize Theron), takes it upon herself to help the wives escape while Max reluctantly helps them in order to further his own need for survival. With that, one movie-long chase sequence begins and never stops. Continue reading Mad Max: Fury Road→
Picking a Kirby story is hard enough, let alone a Kirby character. For me, his New Gods space opera for DC will always be the quintessential King. It’s Kirby at his most expressive and free as you see the love put into every page and character. The story is simple: two planets full of gods have been at war since they split. One, New Genesis, is the beautiful unsullied world of the nice gods while the other, Apokolips, is the hellhole nightmare world run by a tyrant. The rulers decide to a truce by sending their sons to the other planet which cues the birth of my favorite character, Scott Free aka Mister Miracle. Continue reading Jack Kirby’s Mister Miracle→
Things are different for me now, I don’t really have a pull list at a single store and I kind of come and go with the comics I read. These are some of the reasons I am sticking around in no particular order.
Howard the Duck
Chip Zdarsky & Joe Quinones
I’m a sucker for a detective story, let alone an unsuccessful detective bouncing around by sheer luck a la Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye (1973). Now set that within the confines of the Marvel Universe with an anthropomorphic duck and you’ve sold me. Zdarksy (Sex Criminals) and Quinones (FF) offer up their new take on Howard and his life as a private detective trying to get by in the center of weirdo infested New York. Quinones’ cartooning is beautiful and provides the perfect facial expression needed for a comedy book. Zdarsky gets to poke fun at all the weird corners of the Marvel U such as the Infinity Gauntlet’s lesser known companion…the Abundant Glove.