This is the best/worst time of the year for me. I love year-end lists but I hate compiling them. It is a masochist thing for me: I stress on it, torture myself, then as soon as it is done, I want to change it. I’m never satisfied. For the record, all included here may or not be from 2013. My list contains things I’ve re-discovered throughout the year. It happens. Enough of the bullshit: here it is in no particular order (with exceptions for favorites).
Broken is an apt title for director Rufus Norris’s feature debut; viewers will be forgiven if they have a hard time choking back sobs by the end. It’s not all doom and gloom, however. Broken‘s superbly arranged 90 minutes evoke a concatenation of emotions. Certainly there is much chest-constricting dread to be found in the film, and many scenes heavy with emotional baggage, but these are often simultaneously buoyed with moments of exquisite gossamer beauty and unbridled humor, reminders that joy can be ephemeral and often intertwined with grief.
A Christmas Story seems like one of those films that was always part of our cultural heritage. Every Christmas, TBS broadcasts it in a 24-hour loop, phrases like “you’ll shoot your eye out” have entered the lexicon, and tchotchkes like the infamous leg lamp sell in large quantities online. Because of the film’s ubiquity, viewers can take for granted what went into getting it made. Writer Caseen Gaines (with the assistance of Jean Shepherd scholar Eugene P. Bergman and actor Wil Wheaton) lifts the curtain on the making of this beloved feature with the book A Christmas Story: Behind the Scenes of a Holiday Classic.
By J Howell
Gary Lucas duly notes early on in Touched By Grace that the book is neither a biography of Jeff Buckley nor Lucas himself. It is, however, a remarkable peek from Lucas’s perspective of a brief, tumultuous period in the author’s life, a time of promise and disappointment on a scale that seems overwhelming in retrospect. While the gravitas of the situation may not be readily apparent to non- (or even casual) fans of Buckley or Lucas, considering the lasting impact Grace has made on so many lives, Touched By Grace is an inside look at, frankly, kind of a big deal. Or at least a really big part of a big deal.
New this week on Popshifter: Lisa enthuses over the new horror anthology Comfort Foods from the Nashville Writers Group; Jeff suggests five Italian horror movies that you may not have known about and wraps himself up in Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours; Melissa argues that sitars and flutes are more influential than previously thought in her review of The Dawn of Psychedelia and is disappointed in the new Fratellis album, We Need Medicine.
October is here! And just in time for Halloween, the Nashville Writer’s Group presents Comfort Foods, a horror anthology edited by Nashville author Nikki Nelson-Hicks. The collection includes 13 short stories from local writers, many of which have distinctly Southern, if not uniquely Nashville, flavor to them. Some of these tales offer new takes on classic chills such as ghosts or zombies, and others invent entirely new nightmares for the reader.
If ever there was a website that required a print counterpart, that website would be Rookie. The smart, bracingly honest site founded by wunderkind Tavi Gevinson has in part made its name on its gorgeous photography, endearing handwritten content, kaleidoscopic collages, and lovingly curated vintage images.
Holding Rookie Yearbook Two between the palms of your hands and idly flipping through its pages is a satisfying experience. The opening and closing papers contain autographs from some of Rookie’s bold-faced friends and contributors, like comedienne Julie Klausner, photographer Autumn de Wilde, and punk rock renaissance woman Carrie Brownstein; the book is printed on heavy matte-finish vellum paper, and the shifting, girly page backgrounds of quilts and textiles gives the book an inviting appearance. Tavi and her colleagues even included some pages to rip out, like a mini-tarot deck of photos from a photo shoot and a foldout of stickers for a build-your-own-shrine feature.
Writing this much about the appearance of a book—down to the card stock pages on which it was printed—might sound a note of foreboding that the images might outshine the words. Nothing could be further from the truth. Though Rookie’s graphic design, online and in print, will enchant readers, the content will engage them past the first glimmers of glamour.
If you prefer your sharks to be more like Jaws than Sharknado, here’s something you can really sink your multiple rows of teeth into: Frenzy, where the sharks are the stars, and the humans are the threat!
Before Guy Maddin, there was Curtis Harrington. Like Maddin, Harrington made byzantine features that served as a love letter to early cinema at a time when it was mildly unfashionable to do so. He frequently cast dwarf actors and other nontraditional talents alongside the kinds of grandes dames that Hollywood forgot. His films incorporated outmoded narrative and technical elements that, when used well, could hypnotize audiences. Unlike Maddin, who is recognized by his peers as a true visionary, Harrington had worked his way through the studios during the New Hollywood era, when the kind of work he was doing was on its way out, and he never got the recognition he quite deserved.
Harrington’s posthumously published memoir Nice Guys Don’t Work in Hollywood reads a bit like history as told from the perspective of someone who had the talent and drive but not the aesthetic. Though Harrington would hate the phrase “lovable loser,” his point of view and self-deprecating sense of humor mitigate any pity one might feel towards his series of near misses.
TM and © 2011 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. Not for sale or duplication.
Those who read Yann Martel’s Life of Pi towards the beginning of the last decade probably wondered how such a fantastic tale could ever be filmed. There were also those who, upon hearing that Ang Lee was tackling a film version of Life of Pi, felt elated and relieved that someone with such talent and commitment to a story was the one chosen.