Archive for the ‘Lists’ Category

“Race Against Time” by Public Enemy reminds me of the Stables Pub in Lake Louise. It was the best dance club ever! Within the space of an hour you could hear PE, the Dead, Paul Simon, P-Funk, the Beasties, Nine Inch Nails, Phish, Sly and the Family Stone, Primus, Blur, the Stones, Blues Traveler, the Stone Roses, and the Doors. Long live Abdullah, the greatest DJ in the world. I can’t find an embeddable video of “Race Against Time” that’s viewable in Canada, but it is an AMAZING song, go listen to it.


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Missed a day already – sigh. Stupid flu. So, without further ado:

Day 4 – A Song that Makes You Sad: All I Want Is You, by U2. There are a lot of songs by this band that make me weep, but this one is a real Kleenex-shredder. Combine it with the video and I am DONE.

Day 5 – A Song that Reminds You of Someone: In the Road by Weeping Tile reminds me of Monie Blevins. This is a candidate for “makes me sad,” too, but Weeping Tile has a very specific time/place association for me. Sarah Harmer and other members of the band were semi-regulars at the cafe I worked at in university, and I was introduced to their music there, even though they’d pretty much broken up by then. Monie adored Harmer and I remember her playing this on the ferry over to Wolfe Island for one of the Sleepless Goat parties.

Edit: Arrgh, for whatever reason that second video won’t embed, so above is a link, anyway. Gorgeous tune.

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“Tripping Billies” by Dave Matthews Band. Getting into DMB was a weird process. When I lived in Lake Louise, one of my roommates bought Under the Table and Dreaming and played it … a LOT. Like, multiple times a day. And it’s not as though I heard it and felt “Oh my God, this is the music my soul has been waiting for!” But when I left LL … it’s like there was a Dave Matthews shaped hole in my life. I bought the album for myself, bought the next one, and the next one – finally saw them live – and an obsession was born.

It’s a conundrum; people who dislike their radio singles I always want to tell “See them live, you’ll be a convert!” But concert tickets being the main way bands make money these days, tickets are expensive, and it’s tough to get your head around shelling out $70+ for a show you’re not sure you’ll enjoy. But still. See them live, you’ll be a convert. I’ve seen ’em 12 times, and I don’t regret a single one. I’ve missed the last two times they were in Toronto, and it feels like I’ve missed out on the cool kids’ party.

Anyway – “Tripping Billies.” For whatever reason, I think this is my favourite of their songs. It’s off their second album; like a lot of their songs, the lyrics make virtually no sense, but it’s got a kickass Boyd Tinsley violin solo and is generally one of the most joyful songs I’ve ever heard. See them live, you’ll be a convert:

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There are sooooo many to choose from. Anything off Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours? The Charles in Charge theme song? Let’s go with “Christmas Don’t Be Late” by The Chipmunks; if I were Santa, I’d mow those little rodents down with an Uzi. Now excuse me, I have to go delete my browsing history, before Big Brother wonders why all the above are in it.

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One of my resolutions every year is to write a new post at least once a week. That probably won’t happen again, but at least for the month of January I’m going to try to do one every day. I ganked this from Pam on Facebook last year but never transferred the stuff over here. So, without further ado: 30 Songs in 30 Days.

Day 1: Your Favourite Song:

“Fool’s Gold” by the Stone Roses. You know that KITH sketch where Bruce is like “I wish this song was a whole day long”? That’s how I feel about “Fool’s Gold.” It’s the rare 10-minute song you wish were longer. It’s odd, because lyrics are usually really important to me, but I couldn’t even tell you what they’re saying here for the most part. I guess at base I really am That Girl, the one who says “It’s got a great beat, I can dance to it!

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The last ten years saw a migration of the best writers and many of the best actors to television. The writers were drawn to cable networks like HBO, Showtime, F/X and AMC, where they would have both control over their work and freedom from network restraints. Actors, meanwhile, especially women and imports from Britain, enjoyed telling complex stories and playing multi-faceted characters unavailable to them on the big screen.

In alphabetical order, my favourite TV shows of the 2000s:

1. Arrested Development

Kudos to Fox for keeping this brilliant sitcom about a dysfunctional family on the air for three seasons despite its abysmal ratings. Michael Cera was the big star to come out of the series, but it also made Will Arnett a household name and saw the re-emergence of teen heartthrob Jason Bateman as one of the best straight men in the business.

Favourite episode: S1, #17, “Justice is Blind.” A great showcase for both Bateman and guest-star Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a (fake) blind attorney going after the Bluth family, it stands out for the hilarious sequence where David Cross slinks around Dreyfus’s house while she chases him with a baseball bat.

2. Chuck

A late entry in the decades’ Best Of, but the one that may be the most flat-out fun. Josh Schwartz and Christopher Fedak have discovered a couple of stars in Zachary Levi as computer nerd-turned super spy Chuck Bartowski, and Yvonne Strahovski as his C.I.A. handler Sarah. The show features lots of action and excessive amounts of eye-candy, not to mention big laughs, most of them courtesy of Adam Baldwin’s dry delivery. It was saved from cancellation by an outpouring of fan devotion; it remains to be seen if NBC will keep it around another year.

Favourite episode: probably a tie between S1, #8 (“Chuck vs. the Truth”) and S2, #22 (“Chuck vs. the Ring”). The first was light on the Buy More side of things, but featured a comedy-producing plot when Chuck, Sarah and Casey come under the influence of a truth serum. It also represents the first time Chuck’s spy and non-spy lives collide in a major way, and gets extra credit for bringing in Kevin Weisman, Alias‘s meek Marshall, as the episode’s badass. “Chuck vs. the Ring” was the second season finale and a series game-changer, plus: Jeffster! “Mr. Roboto”! Flare guns!

3. The Colbert Report

True confession time: I still prefer Stephen Colbert when he’s playing with Jon Stewart. The two of them have such amazing chemistry. But if he had to leave The Daily Show, it’s great that he did it for something that’s become such a phenomenon. Colbert has taken the late night talk show to a place it’s never been before: through the internet, he has engaged in an extended improv routine with his audience, one that his guests are openly invited to join. With the help of the Colbert Nation, he has turned self-centredness into an art form: after breaking his wrist, he raised money for America’s troops by selling “Wrist Strong” bracelets; his current project is funding the U.S. speedskating team, which will wear his “C” symbol on their uniforms at the Olympics. Plus, “truthiness” has now entered the lexicon, and no word summed up the decade better.

Favourite episode: Don’t have one, but if Colbert hadn’t got this show, he wouldn’t have performed at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and we wouldn’t have this “ballsiriffic” (tm Jon Stewart) clip:

4. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

I adore Stephen Colbert but I worship the ground Jon Stewart walks on. Of all the entertainers of the past decade, he may symbolize it the best, and was certainly the one we needed the most. From “Indecision 2000” election coverage to his teary speech after September 11, 2001, to his takedown of Crossfire and his endless rage at the gaslighting that passed for truth-telling under the Bush administration, Jon was the one who helped us all remember that we were the sane ones and that the world was fucked up. The recent late night wars left him unscathed; once touted to be Letterman’s replacement, he now seems to feel that while he’d like network money, he prefers the freedom he’s allowed on Comedy Central. Let’s pray he keeps on feeling that way; we’re not ready for him to leave us yet.

Favourite episode: His post-September 11 monologue aside, I’m still particularly fond of a correspondent’s piece Stephen did with him about Prince Charles. The spot is mostly noteworthy for the stone-faced Colbert breaking character in the most hilarious possible way, but the joy Jon gets out of that is the kind of thing I hope he keeps finding in that job, so that he won’t quit.


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Man, it has been a long time since I’ve posted; the move in the summer combined with my sucky old computer put a real crimp in my ability to do any kind of online writing.

But! Got a new computer and for now the internets appear to be working in my favour, so here goes with my 20 Favourite Films of the 2000s. Two caveats: One, I have not seen a lot of the late-release/Oscar-favoured flicks yet (it really does suck having to pay for films) so this list won’t include much, if anything, from 2009. Two, “favourite” is totally subjective, obviously. My criteria here had nothing to do with critical reaction, box office take, awards or anything else. These movies may have stuck with me, they may have signalled some new shift in my perception of a given actor/director, they may have resonated with me for a particular reason at the time when I saw them, or they may just be films that I really enjoyed and watch over and over again.

Without further ado, in alphabetical order:

1. Away From Her (2006)

The only Canadian film on this list. Sarah Polley proves herself as adept behind the camera as she is in front of it in this agonizingly beautiful story about falling out of love. Julie Christie got all the accolades for this one, both because it was the showier part, but also, I suspect, because of the whole “glamourous English star slums in tiny Canuck flick” thing. But it’s Gordon Pinsent who steals the picture, showing Grant’s heartache and anger in a gorgeously restrained performance. The film is as close to perfection as one could ask for, I think.

2. Best in Show (2000)

The funniest and most satisfying of the Christopher Guest ensemble vehicles, this panegyric to the joys of dog owning is delightful even if you’re not a “dog person.” The scenes with Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock remain almost impossible to watch due to their horrific uncomfortableness, but everything else is gold, from Guest’s Harlan Pepper going into ventriloquism (it’s an ancient art, after all) to Michael McKean and John Michael Higgins as the best couple ever, to Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy as the sweet nerd/hot chick couple that was in many ways a template for the films and TV shows that would follow over the next ten years. But at the top of the heap: the miraculous Jane Lynch and Jennifer Coolidge, and, of course, the almost supernatural Fred Willard. If the film has a flaw, it’s the minimal presence of Bob Balaban, but someone had to sit this one out, I guess, and presumably Balaban drew the short straw.

3. Bowling for Columbine (2002)

Whatever one feels about Michael Moore, this film helped kick off a Decade of Docs: 10 years in which documentaries could become blockbusters, in which public discussion could be sparked by films in ways it hadn’t since the 60s, in which Al Gore lost the presidency but won an Oscar. I’m a fan of documentaries anyway, and Moore helped make sure that more got made over the last 10 years.

4. Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

Yes, it (and Sex and the City) spawned irritating progeny too numerous to mention (including its own sequel, Edge of Reason), but for what it was – a romcom about single women in their 30s – this was one of the funnier, cleverer ones out there. Part of that had to do with the women behind it: novelist Helen Fielding and director Sharon Maguire. Part of that was because the film, while dumbing down Bridget (Renée Zellweger) to an extent that irritated many critics, at least made our Miss Jones a more likable figure. Part of it is due to the combined talents of Andrew Davies, who adapted the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice on which Bridget was based, and Richard (Blackadder) Curtis, who probably helped add some of the more biting elements to the humour (and who is no slouch in the romcom department himself).

But most of the credit goes to Colin Firth and, especially, Hugh Grant, as the rivals for Bridget’s affections. Firth was just doing what was asked of him – to replay Mr. Darcy – but damn if he didn’t do it well. But Grant, who up until that point had been known mostly as a charming stutterer onscreen, allowed more of his true self to come out as Daniel Cleaver: devilishly charming and not at all to be trusted. His first appearance in the film, coming off the elevator, with those devious eyes scanning the room, is one of the best screen entrances in recent history.

5. Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Featuring fantastic work by Ang Lee, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams and even Anne Hathaway, this meditation on forbidden love wasn’t about gay or straight, it was about seizing happiness wherever you could find it. But as great as all the aforementioned people were, the film belongs to Heath Ledger. Far more so than the Joker, Ennis Del Mar proved what a talent was lost to the world when Ledger died of that overdose. That AMPAS chose to reward Philip Seymour Hoffman (whom I also love) as Best Actor was not surprising; that they picked fucking Crash as Best Picture remains a travesty.

6. Chicago (2002)

The second Zellweger flick on here, which is odd, since I don’t really even like her that much. Baz Luhrman may have opened the door, but Rob Marshall blasted right through it, reviving a genre everyone thought was dead and winning Oscars in the process. The fact that I adore musicals in general has a lot to do with my love for this one, but there’s more to it than that: it’s spectacular eye candy, it’s set in a time period that inevitably looks great onscreen, and it reveals the hidden song and dance talents of pretty well all its stars. Queen Latifah’s chops aren’t a shock, and Zellweger sang well in Empire Records, but the rest of the cast blew me away, especially (and Oscar agreed) Catherine Zeta-Jones. It might not have had the immediate cultural relevance that the mid-90s Broadway revival had, but post-OJ, celebrity trials are now a fact of life, and the symbiosis between entertainers, power-brokers and the press will continue as long as we still have a fourth estate.

7. Children of Men (2006)

It didn’t grab the attention that Y Tu Mama Tambien did, but this was the film that put Cuaron on the A-list for me. Bleakly beautiful, with astonishing set pieces and Emmanuel Lubezki’s glorious cinematography, combined with some of the best work this decade from the very busy Clive Owen and Michael Caine, and the sneaky, subversive thesis that the hippies might have got it right after all. The famous tracking shot is filmmaking at its unshowy best, but it’s the moment when the baby’s cry is heard that sticks with you. And that Lubezki didn’t win the Oscar for his DOP work is in the Top Ten Crimes Perpetrated by AMPAS for the 2000s.


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