Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Favorites of 2011: Movies, Music, Art

Here is the rest of my favorite stuff from 2011 (new or new to me) in the categories of movies, music and art. Also, at the end of this post I'll say a little bit about what I'm going to do with this blog going forward.

This summer it seems like there were even more super hero movies than usual for that time of year--Thor, Green Lantern, Xmen: First Class, Captain America, etc.  My favorite of all of them this year is a dark horse pick that people either didn't like or missed altogether, and that is Super with Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Liv Tyler, and Kevin Bacon. 

This would make a great double feature paired with Kick-Ass, though this one is more heartbreaking.  I was surprised at how moved I was as I left the theater.  (It would also make a good "Kevin Bacon playing a douchebag" double feature with Xmen: First Class).  This is one I would have totally missed if it weren't for my film group.

Another Earth/Melancholia
I'm pairing these two together, because in a way they made me ask some of the same questions of myself.  Both could be summed up like this: a planet is coming this way, so what do we do?  What does this mean?  Both are sci-fi without gadgets.  They are not the same movie, by any means, though. 

I came out of Melancholia thinking, "Wow, a lot of people will hate this."  To me, it's worth viewing and getting through the difficult bits for the first eight minutes which entail a trippy visual experience that I can't compare to anything I've ever seen before, and for the last thirty seconds or so.  Another Earth is a little less "what the fuck?", so while being gritty and cool, it will be a little more palatable for some.  Both allow for hours of conversation fodder.

Higher Ground
I really related to this story directed by and starring Vera Farmiga, which is based on a memoir called This Dark World: A Memoir of Salvation Found and Lost, by Carolyn S. Briggs (I believe the book can now be found as Higher Ground: A Memoir of Salvation Found and Lost, because of the movie adaptation).  Her character is into adulthood in the eighties, whereas I was a child then, but I was taken right back because of how accurately they captured the era.  Her brand of Christianity is slightly more intense than what I grew up with, but I recognized some of the characters on screen from my religious upbringing--not literally, but by their type.  Her disaffection felt similar to mine, and I left really having to process what I'd just seen.  I'll definitely see it again, and if I can fit it in will read the book.

This was my favorite movie of the year.  I didn't expect to like it that much, but when the term film noir began to be tossed around, I thought I'd better give it a try.  I was gripped from the beginning and was surprised that there was only one action-packed chase scene.  Most of his driving, like the character himself, is very methodical and contained.  The opening sequence which features this is one of the most intense I've seen. 

I was surprised at how snubbed this movie has been--I thought it would be Oscars all around, but I think only Albert Brooks was nominated on the acting end of things.

Night of the Iguana
Richard Burton, Ava Gardner (after whom my niece is named), and Deborah Kerr star in this really wonderful black and white movie from the early sixties based on the Tennessee Williams play of the same name.  I enjoyed watching this with my film group in one of our members' wicked awesome home theater that he built piece by piece all by his onesies.

I can't believe I'd never seen this before.  To me it was just the poster on the wall of every male-inhabited dorm room I'd ever been in.  It was playing in some theaters this summer for a one night only event due to the blue-ray coming out, and again I went with my film group.  I've never been so totally lost in the screen at the movies.  It really seemed like a look into an over-the-top parody of something, but I know some of the creators of the film insist they've walked into offices where there was a mountain of cocaine on the desk, and this was considered by the desk-sitter as nothing out of the ordinary or as something to hide.  I was really more fascinated by this movie than I ever imagined I would be, and like many fans I will view it multiple times before it's my turn to go out in a blaze of machine gun fire (or by whatever means I may depart).

Harold and Maude
Another great one I'd missed before now.  As I watched I understood a few more jokes from Will & Grace that were a mystery before. :)


The Book of Mormon (the musical)
Hello.  My name is Elder D.  And I would like to share with you the most amazing soundtrack.

Pink Martini
I'm kind of in love with them right now.


Blue Crown, by Harvey Littleton, 1988
I'm running out of steam here, so I'll just leave you with one of my favorite pieces at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.


Ok, so moving forward I'm going to tell some stories that only I can tell, because they happened to me, and they are true.  Here are what some of the post titles will be:
  • Stuff I never would have done if I'd waited around for a date
  • Ukrainian Muslims on 9/11/02
  • Knocked out in the Holy Ghost (translation--pushed down by a man in the front of a church)
  • Russian mob restaurant
  • Mistaken for Satan
  • Peeing on the Train
...and many more!


  1. I would love to see Blue Crown! Thanks for sharing that!

  2. You're welcome, Paul! I find it mesmerizing. I'm really attracted to those colors. The neat thing about the piece is that it was designed to be arranged at the will of the owner (while generally keeping the shape of a crown, preferably). If you look at the picture of it on IMAs website, the separate pieces are more scrunched together. I prefer the way they have it arranged as it is above in the picture I took with my phone.

    I hope it stays at the IMA so I can go see it many more times. :)

  3. I remember seeing a preview for Super, did not realize it came and went. I will have to check that one out. I sat in awe of Another Earth somewhat, it really caught me.

  4. Thanks for these wonderful reviews/recommendations. Pink Martini is with me daily when I see one of our local waitresses, Yolanda (and then hear playing in my head for the rest of the day "¿Dondé estás? ¿Dondé estás, Yolanda?

  5. Andrew--I was in awe, as well. Another Earth is still lingering with me. I hope you will enjoy Super if you get a chance to check it out.

    Mitch--Your comment makes me smile, because I have the same scenario with a co-worker named Yolanda. :)

  6. I have a lot of movies to catch up with you... I did see 'Another Earth' and I agree - good movie. Amazing scene with a guy playing a saw - how many movies have that?! This is the music from this scene on the composer's website http://www.scottmunsonmusic.com/news/music-in-film-another-earth-soundtrack

  7. Hi, Michelle. That saw-playing was incredible!!! To me, that was the most emotional and touching moment of the movie. Thanks for the link, I will check that out. I really should get the soundtrack; it was haunting and wonderful.

    Wait a minute...Michelle...are you the other me? (ha--sorry, couldn't resist). :)

  8. Mistaken for Satan? I wait with bated breath.

  9. That's a good one! I'll start with that. :)


Always feel free to chime in.