TOP TEN MOVIES OF 2002:
1. “Road to Perdition” (Sam Mendes)
2. “Gangs of New York” (Martin Scorsese)
3. “Y Tu Mama Tambien” (Alfonso Cuaron)
4. “CQ” (Roman Coppola)
5. “Secretary” (Steven Shainberg)
6. “The Kid Stays in the Picture” (Nannette Burstein/Brett Morgan)
7. “The Cat’s Meow” (Peter Bogdanovich)
8. “Kissing Jessica Stein” (Charles Wurmfeld)
9. “Adaptation” (Spike Jonze)
10. “Punch-Drunk Love” (Paul Thomas Anderson)
Honorable Mention: “Changing Lanes” (Roger Michell); “8 Mile” (Curtis Hanson); “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” (Sam Jones); “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” (Peter Jackson); “Roger Dodger” (Dylan Kidd); “The Rookie” (John Lee Hancock); “Signs” (M. Night Shyamalan); “Storytelling” (Todd Solondz); “Tadpole” (Gary Winnick); “24 Hour Party People” (Michael Winterbottom).
The Worst: “Bowling For Columbine” (Michael Moore); “Death to Smoochy” (Danny DeVito); “Full Frontal” (Steven Soderbergh); “Hollywood Ending” (Woody Allen); “Vulgar” (Bryan Johnson).
Movies That I’m Sure Are Excellent, But I Haven’t Seen Yet: “About a Boy,” “About Schmidt,” “Auto Focus,” “Barbershop,” “Catch Me If You Can,” “Chicago,” “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” “Far From Heaven,” “Human Nature,” “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” “The Pianist,” “The Quiet American.” I’ll be writing a more in-depth Year in Review later this month, for American Dreamer.
TOP TEN ALBUMS OF 2002:
1. Wilco- “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot”
2. Norah Jones- “Come Away With Me”
3. Bruce Springsteen- “The Rising”
4. Bright Eyes- “Lifted: Or, the Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground”
5. Ben Kweller- “Sha Sha”
6. Eminem- “The Eminem Show”
7. Andrew W.K.- “I Get Wet”
8. Interpol- “Turn On the Bright Lights”
9. Moby- “18”
10. N.E.R.D.- “In Search Of…”
Honorable Mention: Beck, “Sea Change”; Coldplay, “A Rush of Blood to the Head”; Counting Crows, “Hard Candy”; John Mayer, “Room For Squares”; OK Go (self-titled); The Streets, “Original Pirate Material”; James Taylor, “October Road.”
TOP TEN TELEVISION SHOWS OF 2002:
1. “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (HBO)
2. “The Sopranos” (HBO)
3. “Pardon The Interruption” (ESPN)
4. “Six Feet Under” (HBO)
5. “24” (FOX)
6. “The Shield” (FX)
7. “Law & Order” (NBC)
8. “Oz” (HBO)
9. “Project Greenlight” (HBO)
10. “The Osbournes” (MTV)
WE’RE NOT WORTHY! WE’RE NOT WORTHY!: Over the holiday I finally got to drink a beer I’d wanted to try for years: Arrogant Bastard Ale. But even better than the name is the monogram on the bottle:
This is an aggressive beer. You probably won’t like it. It is doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth. We would suggest that you stick to safer and more familiar territory – maybe something with a multi-million dollar ad campaign aimed at convincing you its made in a little brewery, or one that implies that their tasteless fizzy yellow beer will give you more sex appeal. Perhaps you think multi-million dollar ad campaigns make a beer taste better. Perhaps you’re mouthing the words as you read this
I like ABA, but I find it funny that their ad campaign is considerably more memorable than their beer.
I’M A LEO: Here’s my review of “Gangs of New York,” on IOFilm.
PRESS FOR SALE: The New York Post’s Keith Kelly reported on Friday that New York Press, my favorite publication in the city, has been sold by founder Russ “Mugger” Smith for $5 million to a syndicate led by media veterans Charles Coletti and Doug Meadow. The new owners’ first act was to fire longtime editor John Strausbaugh (author of “Rock ‘Til You Drop”) and promote erstwhile Managing Editor Lisa Kearns.
Smith, who will continue to write the “Mugger” column, had reportedly been facing family pressure to get out ever since the 9/11 attacks, and had previously rebuffed an advance from noted right-wing hedonist and former NYPress columnist Taki Theodoracopulos, who went on to co-found The American Conservative magazine along with Pat Buchanan. The new owners promise that the paper’s editorial content will remain unchanged, and I sincerely hope that some of the paper’s more unconventional writers (Christopher Caldwell, Jim Knipfel, and especially Armond White) escape the transition with their jobs intact.
ESOTERIC WEBSITE OF THE DAY: Having trouble choosing a religion? Try giving Belief-o-Matic a spin! I took it and survey says I have 100% compatability with Reform Judaism, which is the religion I was raised in yet I certainly have my issues with it these days. But I’m also 80% compatible with Islam- say what?
…AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAILERS: One of my favorite parts of going to the movies has always been the previews, even prior to my former job of test-marketing movie trailers. Before “Gangs of New York” the other night I saw two compelling ones: Since GONY is about the hero trying to kill the villain, whose name is Bill, it only followed that the film be preceded by the teaser for “Kill Bill,” Quentin Tarantino’s first new movie in over five years. I must say it looks good, using kung-fu as a stand-in for QT’s usual blaxploitation homage.
Another trailer I saw impressed me much, much less: it was for “The Life of David Gale,” an anti-death penalty propaganda film which despite appearances is based neither on a true story nor a John Grisham novel. ‘David Gale’ stars Kevin Spacey as a death-penalty-fighting college professor (apparently based on Northwestern’s David Protess) who gets framed for murder, is convicted, and then is sentenced to (you guessed it) the death penalty. So with two days left until he’s due to be executed, it’s up to intrepid reporter Kate Winslet to uncover the evidence to clear him.
Like “The Contender” and “Three Kings” before it, “Life of David Gale” appears to be making an impassioned, polemical political argument based on events that are completely fictional. We don’t know who the bad guys are in this movie, but apparently they’re so pissed at David Gale for being against the death penalty that they committed a murder and pinned it on him just to get the perverse joy of seeing him executed- instead of just cutting out the middle man and killing Gale themselves.
A previous Hollywood treatment of this issue (1995’s “Dead Man Walking”), was also told from a left-wing perspective (the principals, after all, were Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, and Sean Penn), but its script actually managed to call the issue down the middle, and it ended up being one of the best movies of the ’90s. “Life of David Gale” looks to have nothing but propaganda on its mind, manipulation on the level of an earlier Spacey vehicle, “Pay It Forward.” The only thing that could possibly redeem the film for me would be if Gale turned out to be guilty, but based on the trailer I’m guessing that’s not the ending.
And besides, Kate Winslet is the female lead, and she’s playing an American. We all know Kate is a thousand times sexier with a British/Australian/New Zealand accent…
ROGER DODGER: Roger Ebert’s Top Ten list is out, and he picks Spielberg’s “Minority Report” (?) as #1. Ebert’s been known for off-beat choices, from “Dark City” in 1998 to “Monster’s Ball” last year, but as much as I respect him as a critic it’s hard to imagine what he was thinking picking ‘Minority,’ which according to most observers wasn’t even the best Steven Spielberg movie of the year.
A NOTE: Enetation is apparently going haywire, and as a result the word “poseurs” now appears below this post (and every other) rather than “comments.” Please be advised that I am doing my best to fix this, and I don’t in fact think that you are poseurs. Well, most of you, anyway.