March/April 2014: Cinema

I held off on a monthly report for March because of a lack of viewings, but I’m back to doing the monthly thing now combining the past two months. I made a few cinematic memories over the past two months, and my favourites were from Ernst Lubitsch and Jean-Luc Godard. I also finished the filmography of Elaine May who has to be one of the most under appreciated directors of all time. She only made four films and each one of them is very good and Mikey and Nicky and A New Leaf are masterpieces. I finally got a start on new films as well in the past 61 days with Stranger By the Lake and Only Lovers Left Alive. The highlight of the past two months was writing for The Vulgar Cinema again. I loved Johnnie To’s, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart and it is one of the very best films I’ve seen this year. My interests outside of cinema have mostly been consumed by wrestling, but I did start up on classic era Simpsons and it’s as good as everyone says. 2014 is shaping up to be a fruitful year in cinema even if I’m working at a much slower rate than I have in past years for personal reasons. May is already off to a great start, and I might have big positive life changes this month as well. Things are looking mighty swell for Willow. I hope they are for you too.

Best
Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (Johnnie To, 2011)
The Doll (Ernst Lubitsch, 1919)
Notre Musique (Jean-Luc Godard, 2004)
Working Girls (Lizzie Borden, 1986)
The Fruit of the Paradise (Vera Chytilova, 1970)
Mikey and Nicky (Elaine May, 1976)
Stranger by the Lake (Alain Guiraudie, 2014)
First Name: Carmen (Jean-Luc Godard, 1983)
 Christine (John Carpenter, 1983)
The Palm Beach Story (Preston Sturges, 1942)
Journey to Italy (Roberto Rossellini, 1954)
Tokyo Drifter (Sejin Suzuki, 1966)
La Chambre (Chantal Akerman, 1972)
The Great Dictator (Charlie Chaplin, 1940)
Meet Me in St. Louis (Vincente Minnelli, 1944)

Best Rewatches
Whip It (Drew Barrymoore, 2009)
My Neighbor Totoro (Hayao Miyazaki, 1988)
Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson, 2012)
8 1/2 (Federico Fellini, 1963)
Dogville (Lars von Trier, 2004)

Worst
Labor Day (Jason Reitman, 2014)
Proxy (Zack Parker, 2013)
Devil’s Knot (Atom Egoyan, 2013)
Goats (Christopher Neil, 2012)

 

Hotel Monterey

 Female Filmmaker Project
A home feels eternal. It’s that one place you run to for safety, warmth and solace in the wake of everything else that is wrong with the world. You can always count on a home to be there for you. It exists in a place separate and unique and it is yours. They are also fragile and with time can evolve into hotels. When your home becomes a temporary residence it feels like you’ve lost a loved one. That safety and place just for you is gone and it isn’t easy to find a new one. Losing your home is a kind of death, and hotels have always felt like graveyards. The residents shuffle about only temporarily like wayward ghosts and then they’re gone. The rooms are all made up for residents who will never truly love them and these beds are never more than places of temporary comfort. Time passes in Hotels like still slowly beating clocks until you can leave this place and return to what you would call home, but what are you supposed to do when everything is a hotel?

Chantal Akerman’s Hotel Monterey is a dissection of an empty palace. The rooms are perfectly kept together waiting for someone to welcome, but no one comes. The camera sits in long static shots of the architecture that was built to house people on their way as a temporary home, but the walls echo sadness. The point of view of the camera is seemingly trapped in this world staring at these walls. These beautiful, decaying walls built as a substitute to a real home. Elevators move up and down and people enter their rooms and occasionally peer out at this lost soul but never say anything. They are only here for a short time of course. We move up through this labyrinth of partial respite and peer out the windows looking for escape, and maybe that true home lurks out there somewhere. When the darkness of the night finally lifts and we stand on the roof peering out over the city an additional sadness pours over our viewpoint. The same houses and windows we’ve been longing for are reflected once we got out. The windows are boarded up, cracked and broken and the buildings look filthy. This isn’t the warmth of what a home should look like. We peer 180 degrees looking for something but only find more hotels and nothing resembling a home.

Chantal Akerman’s film is brilliant at capturing that loneliness of having nowhere to head for comfort, and not having that can feel like the end of the world. It’s a depressive state as bleak as those murky walls that cover the hotel, and it can feel never ending. I’m still reaching for a home that I will find some day and being in that in-between state is a trapped feeling. A feeling that is evoked perfectly in the halls of Hotel Monterey

reposted on Letterboxd

Ruby’s Arms

I’ll feel my way down the darken hall, and out into the morning, 
the hobosat the freight yards, have kept their fires burning, 
so Jesus Christ this goddamn rain, will someone put me on a train, 
I’ll never kiss your lips again,or break your heart, 
as I say goodbye I’ll say goodbye, say goodbye to Ruby’s arms.
Tom Waits, Ruby’s ArmsScreencaps: First Name: Carmen (Jean-Luc Godard, 1983) 

Let’s Call It Love: Part 1: A Look at the Music of Sleater-Kinney


I’m going to talk about every single Sleater-Kinney song ever recorded. This won’t be an objective analysis. This is a labour of love for a band that feels only secondary to breathing and water in terms of importance for my existence. I cannot go a day without listening to Sleater-Kinney and while favourite bands tend to come and go in waves I think they are around for good. I’ve said that about other important artists in my life, but then that’s the thing that’s so beautiful about music in particular. It can fade as you mature and grow older, but in that moment those notes and those words mean fucking everything to you. Music is like an attachment of soul and the one art form that feels like it morphs you into the person you are and who you want to be. It can lift you up in moments of need and fix all your problems in 3 minutes or 15 if you’re into progressive rock, and it’s a kind of magic. It’s a rhythmic alchemy brought to the world out of nothing by these god’s who stand on stage and produce life through sound. It’s powerful and Sleater Kinney feels like a direct reflection of everything I am. I think favourite bands always kind of feel that way. They belong to you right? When I’m listening to them they feel like something vital to my life. There’s no way I can ever repay them for the support they’ve given me so I’m just going to keep on listening for the rest of my life.
First a little background information
Sleater-Kinney would hardly ever label themselves as a riot grrrl act during their heyday (something they would discuss more openly after they went on hiatus) but their genesis is very much steeped in that sound. After all Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein are the Foremothers of riot grrrl acts like Heavens to Betsy, Excuse 17 and Heartless Martin. In 1994 the first Sleater-Kinney music was released in the single You Ain’t It/Surf Song for Villa Villakula Records. They would also record two other songs for that label in Write Me Back Fucker and a cover of Boston’s More Than a Feeling. These first recordings reflect a band that already had their sound set in place. It was just rougher around the edges. 
You Ain’t It is lyrically about as forwardly-snotty-fuck you-riot grrrl as this band ever got, and it kind of rules. It’s the same kind of rock is not just for men attitude that many riot grrrl bands possessed from this same time period. What I truly love here is the wailing (I bet I’ll use this word a lot) braggadocio in Corin’s voice of not giving a fuck about boy bands. In 1994, and still to this day really, women are still seen as novelty acts in rock music. You’ll see the term “Girl rock band” get thrown around a lot as a buzzword as if it was another thing that needed to be gendered to the point where you had to separate women from men just because it was unfair to compare the two, and it’s bullshit. The riot grrrl movement in general was as much about feminism as it was about punk rock, but it certainly broke down barriers and told girls they could do anything in the world they wanted to and be better at it than men. In the sound of the song though it proved the band was already working out their formula. The guitars are already twisting and contorting around each other and Corin and Carrie are already using choruses to launch a harmonic attack in vocal and guitar. It’s awesome for reasons that don’t just align with my own punk rock feminism. It’s a hell of a start, and they’d get so much better. 
Surf Song is the b-side to You AIn’t It and it has the same roughness of all the Villa Villakula recordings, but unlike You Ain’t It’s brash riot grrrl aggression Surf Song feels absolutely light. What song wouldn’t feel light with lyrics like “Let’s go down to the beach today, Let’s go down to the water and play” ? Sleater-Kinney would rarely go for the type of sweetness that is found in this song, but it’s ultimately one of my favourites for that very reason. I searched all over the internet for this song so I could somehow have it with me at all times. I would complain to my boyfriend that I couldn’t ever find “The Sleater-Kinney Beach Song” and I’m sure I whined about it constantly, but oh the elation when I finally found it. I would download it (sorry you can’t find the Villakula recordings anywhere anyway), and have it forever. Oh! And the pen pal letter in the middle that Carrie writes to Corin where she complains about the band name and talks about new wave bands? It’s like friends in the back of a high school year book and my heart melts. The kind of friendship I’m lucky enough to have with one person. You know who you are.

The other two songs on the Villakula set are Write Me Back Fucker and MoreThan a Feeling. Write Me Back Fucker (great title btw) is maybe the least interesting song of these early recordings. The most notable thing about it is the title and the bridge, which just soars due to Corin’s voice. It’s almost kind of funny the previous song had an entire letter segment and this song is actually about a break up via letter. I don’t think they are in any way connected but I think that’s a neat fact. The first truly special moment in Sleater-Kinney’s career is their cover of More Than a Feeling . The song has that same DIY sound as the others on this label. It’s a sound I’ve grown to love in early riot grrrl recordings (especially Bikini Kill’s Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah), and followed Sleater-Kinney up through their first album the following year. There are multitudes of things I love about this song. The soft build up of the warm guitars in the verse, the harsh reimagining of the chorus with Carrie’s primal screams that she would make even better use of on Last Song the following year, and then there’s the outro where the guitars just sing and Corin wraps her voice lightly around the melody and it’s a thing of absolute beauty and cements this as the best version of this song. Sorry Boston, Sorry Nirvana.

The Optimism of Zero

Synthesizers buzz and hum as she puts on her makeup and zips up her PVC outfit. She runs her hand down her bangs and grabs her leather jacket. Her initials are on the back and she slides it on. She stands behind a curtain waiting to show herself to the world. This is her look and she’s proud. She has one final unsure look on her face and then pulls the curtain back to rapturous applause and she struts down the empty street evolving into dance. The song soars in praise with her. It’s her life and her self-expression and she is showing it to everyone. All she can do in response is dance while others look on. They look a little surprised by her outfit and her attitude but they see that she’s happy and eventually she runs into people who smile upon seeing her.
In these four minutes The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Zero directed by Barney Clay is deeply humanistic in a completely optimistic and joyful way. In this world, self-expression equals true joy, and the only responsible way to act on joy is through dance as Karen O suggests here when she seems so happy that she dances on top of cars. We live in a cinematic world where the most prized stories are about tragedy and the films that make the most money, and therefore control the Hollywood system, are about the end of the world or general destruction with no consequences. Even in television the narratives are controlled by serial killers, cops, and bad men. The musical, screwball comedy, and romantic comedy are nearly all dead so where did good feelings go? We live in a scary enough world that we don’t always need it reflected back at us on screen but our avenues for escapism are dour. Zero was made a few years ago, but I think its joyfulness is still relevant today. It’s self-empowerment of expression through choice is vastly important and in a time where things like selfies are constantly criticized as being vain and narcissistic Zero presents a different idea. It’s happiness within self so much so that you just have to dance, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being happy. That’s what we all want. Isn’t it?

Reunion: The Veronica Mars Movie

Originally posted on Letterboxd

I feel like I should state right now that I’m a big Veronica Mars fan. However, unlike most of the fans I didn’t want more. The conclusion of season 3 ends on a near perfect note for everyone involved in the series. The show solidified it’s modern noir elements in a final moment between father and daughter. It was really the perfect ending. Cult Television audiences tend to be a little greedy though and everything must always continue even when something ends strongly, and there lies the problem with having a Veronica Mars movie. It’s completely unnecessary and in some ways damages a really good ending to a short, but accomplished television series that already said everything it ever wanted to say. This wouldn’t be an issue if the movie was fantastic, but ultimately it’s a nice but forgettable experience.

Veronica Mars was always a television show that worked best in a long form narrative. It gave the show the room to breathe, develop characters and go into themes of class, gender, race, and gendered violence. The show was never great at handling stand alone cases and the problem with now having a movie is delivering a great standalone case in 100 minutes and they fail. The mystery here just isn’t interesting and there’s no time to work this case the way writer/director Rob Thomas is used to handling things. Saying this case is rushed would be an understatement. This brings up questions for me as to why viewers feel the need to resurrect television shows to bring them into cinemas. As much as critics these days want to make comparisons between the two filmed mediums there are differences that make translation extremely difficult. Veronica Mars is one show that just doesn’t work well in the realm of cinema. Rob Thomas doesn’t have an eye for visual language for one and the already mentioned issues of adapting a story that used longform narrative for it’s entire lifespan can’t do the same in cinema so it was obviously going to feel different. What I’m left with is feeling this is neither good cinema or television. There’s fun to be had in the rhythms of the dialogue and Kristen Bell’s performance but those things were always going to translate. I can’t say the same for the rest.

There’s also the problem of pandering which makes the entire experience feel plotted by fans. This leads to a kind of toxicity within the narrative where relationships point more towards bad fan fiction than character truths, and that’s really frustrating considering the voices feel right but their decision making a little off. Every character also has to show up long enough for audiences to see everyone. It’s almost clever Rob Thomas wraps all of this around the theme of high school never ending, but in reality it’s more about catching up with everyone because that’s what the audience wants to see, but I guess that’s what you get with a crowdsourced picture. I don’t want to come off like I hate this or even dislike it though, because that isn’t necessarily the case. I’m a longtime Veronica Mars fan so it’s nearly impossible for me to toss this aside without being happy at hearing the fucking theme song again or Kristen Bell talking circles around everyone else (what a shame it is that screwball comedies are mostly dead and she can’t star in one of those). It’s just not much more than a television movie, and I can’t imagine non fans are going to like this or even get it.

Veronica Mars feels like you’re favourite band in the world reuniting to record an album. You’re obviously excited and you never thought you’d get to hear these people working together again. You turn on the album and that all familiar feeling of knowing these people comes back, and you’re happy for a few moments, but then that feeling starts to slip away and you know the fire is gone. Then the album ends and you’re grateful you have more new music from a band you loved, but it’s just extra songs.

February 2014: Cinema

February was admittedly another slow month and I didn’t even come close to hitting my normal goal of one movie a day, but luckily the films that I did end up watching proved to be almost constantly great. The only real dud this month was the Sara Michelle Gellar starring horror film, The Return, that I watched on HBO on a whim (never watch random movies on HBO, they are always bad). I finally got around to watching 2 John Waters classics after falling in love with Hairspray last year. Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble proved to be among the very best films I watched in the shortest month of the year. Female Trouble specifically is going to have me talking about eye liner for the rest of my life. I also watched Ms. 45 which proved to be the finest film I’ve watched so far this year, and if I don’t fall into the trap of watching Antonio Cesaro swing every last man on earth into oblivion on the WWE I may have something more substantial to say about that film other than it’s awesome at some point in the future. Yes, I’m still currently obsessive in my wrestling viewing, and I guess this is just going to have to be a thing I learn how to balance. Finally, I closed out the month on a string of 2013 films that all proved worth my time, the improved sequel in the Hunger Games franchse, Catching Fire, Lukas Moodysson’s humanistic ode to punk rock and girlhood We are the Best, Spike Lee’s unfairly maligned remake of Oldboy, the direct to video picture The Package, and Ridley Scott’s modern noir The Counselor. March is young, but I’m already off to a good start after having just finished Ernst Lubitsch’s The Doll. Here is to hoping I can keep that consistency and figure out how to get to 31 films, and if I don’t then quality matters more than quantity right? Hope everyone else had a great February.
Best of the Month 
Ms. 45 (Abel Ferrara, 1981)
Brief Encounter (David Lean, 1945)
Female Trouble (John Waters, 1974)
Pink Flamingos (John Waters, 1972)
The Sweet Smell of Success (Alexander Mackendrick, 1957)
 High School (Frederick Wiseman, 1968)
Oldboy (Spike Lee, 2013)
We are the Best (Lukas Moodysson, 2013)
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Francis Lawrence, 2013)
The Counselor (Ridley Scott, 2013)
The Package (Jesse V. Johnson, 2013)

Best Rewatches
Punch Drunk Love (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2002)
Synecdoche New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)
Jackie Brown (Quentin Tarantino, 1997)
The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky, 2008)
Worst of the Month
The Return (Asif Kapadia, 2006)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Chris Columbus, 2002)– rewatch

You Want Them to Notice: Transgender Dysphoria Blues


You are my companion. Something I never wished I had to deal with. I wish you would leave me alone. I just want to exist in this world without the throbbing in the back of my head, the constant reminder that I’m never quite going to be the person I see myself as. I travel forward in my day to day life living and dying by what other people say and how they define my identity. When they get it right you ease away and disappear and for a moment I’m at peace. I’m happy. More often though you’re here with me going off like a siren every time anyone misgenders me. I crumble and I fall into defeat. I can’t find the strength within myself to correct them and you start to wash over me and fill me with depression and toxic feelings about my own self-worth. This is every single day of my life. This is my reality. I’m a transgender woman and my companion is dysphoria.

No one talks about dysphoria in mainstream media and if I had to guess the majority of the population isn’t even aware of gender dysphoria and the real problems transgender people go through in trying to deal with those feelings. It’s almost unbearable at times and to have a worldwide ignorance of something that effects my life greatly is nothing short of immensely depressing. When I first told my parents I was dysphoric constantly and needed to transition they didn’t know what the word meant. I had to explain to them trans 101 and after all that time and after I told them about all the pain I was going through they still rejected me. They told me I shouldn’t do this for religious reasons, and told me they wouldn’t support me under any circumstances because I’d be a freak, never a real woman, going to hell, etc. What I’m getting at here is that the everyday person doesn’t understand what kind of struggle transgender people go through on a day to day basis. I think a big part of this problem is a media silence on our issues and the representation we do get culminates in either A.) Being the punchline to your joke or B.)Being your murder victim. This kind of representation openly damages people like me because media can humanize or dehumanize people who are on the fringes of society, and I certainly am.

So here I am in 2014 sitting and crying watching David Letterman. It’s not because I’m laughing at some joke he told or because Drew Brees told a heartwarming story. The musical guest that night is Against Me! and their singer (Laura Jane Grace) is a transgender woman and she’s singing about an experience that actively aligns with my own. Millions of people are watching her standing up on the stage playing punk rock music and singing about dysphoria. For a moment it makes me think of a future when this is the norm. A world where transgender artists are given the same respect and audience that other groups of people are given. It’s a world where we are respected instead of feared and a world where I feel safe. I don’t live in that world, but Against Me!’s newest album Transgender Dysphoria Blues gives me the kind of hope that one day I might. The world is still so very far away from respecting us, but maybe this album is the first in a long line of moments where mainstream media gives us that respect. I cannot state just how important and empowering this album is to these ears. I’ve never heard a rock album say “In her dysphoria’s affection she still saw her mother’s son”, or “Your Tells are so Obvious, Shoulders too broad for a girl, keeps you reminded, it helps you to remember where you come from”. I hear each line echoing from the lips of Laura Jane Grace that I’m not alone in this world and that my feelings are valid and true. This isn’t an easy listen, because many of the fears that Laura had when she came out are living inside of the lyrics. She has that same doubts that I do about what she’ll look like, where her life goes now, and what this means for her family. This is not a blues album in the typical sense of playing cyclic chords on an old guitar, but it is in the sense of talking about pain. The pain of dysphoria, and it is powerful to hear something relating to my story on national television and in national print. I don’t know if Transgender Dysphoria Blues is going to be considered a classic album or if it’s even going to find it’s way on anyone’s best of the year list in December, but for this transgender woman without a voice it is just about the most important album I’ve ever heard. I cannot thank Laura Jane Grace and the rest of Against Me! enough for making me feel validated, real, and most of all female in a world that mostly denies my identity.

January 2014: Cinema

 It was admittedly a slower month at Château de Willow because of my new found obsession with wrestling (which is totally an art form itself) and my general burnout after trying to watch every critically acclaimed picture from the last year. I did however finally get to see two very good pictures from Elaine May. She came onto my radar last year after watching the powerhouse dark comedy A New Leaf, and she is one of those rare filmmakers who has a perfect resume. My boyfriend also introduced me to Godard’s King Lear which I found to be a brilliant picture that nearly destroys cinema in it’s 90 minute run time to rebirth it all over again. In return I introduced him to Godard’s Je Vous Salue, Sarajevo, so I think we both kicked the world’s ass at how cinephile relationships are supposed to work. It was a fun month, but honestly a little thin on older pictures. I’m hoping that February is a little more diverse.

Best of the Month
The Heartbreak Kid (Elaine May, 1971)
Ishtar (Elaine May, 1987)
Titicut Follies (Frederick Wiseman, 1967)
King Lear (Jean Luc Godard, 1987)
Come Drink With Me (King Hu, 1966)
This Gun For Hire (Frank Tuttle, 1942)
Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2013)
The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese, 2013)
3 Women (Robert Altman, 1977)
Beyond the Mat (Barry W. Baulstein, 1999)
Four Heads are Better than One (Georges Méliès, 1898)
The Butler (Lee Daniels, 2013)
The Past (Asghar Farhadi, 2013)

Best Rewatches
Je Vous Salue, Sarajevo (Jean Luc Godard, 1993)
Southland Tales (Richard Kelly, 2006)
The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach, 2013)
Inglorious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
Batman Returns (Tim Burton, 1992)
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (James Cameron, 1991)

Computer Chess (Andrew Bujalski, 2013)

Worst
Admission (Paul Weitz, 2013)
This is 40 (Judd Apatow, 2012) [rewatch]


2013: Year in Review


I live in a world of dreams. I sit and watch images pass by me as they find their way into my memory and my heart. I vicariously live through their suffering, heartache, triumph and desires. I latch onto the images and stories of people I wish I could be and the people I wish I could know without this boundary of screen, but I find myself there while it lasts and for moments I am with them and they are a part of my world. It’s not just the power of escapism that draws me to cinema, but the power of seeing entire worlds created and finding a connection to those people living within them. I live my life through the scope of everything I experience within the world of cinema. It has been the one constant in my life for as long as I can remember and those experiences I had with this sacred art in 2013 were immense and unforgettable.

Best Films
1. Top of the Lake (Jane Campion): Campion’s mini-series seems to play out like a 21stCentury reimagining of the cryptic small town setting and abject weirdness of Twin Peaks, but turns out being much darker than one could have imagined. The difference between something like Peaks and Lake is that Campion never shrouds the evil of humanity in a metaphorical evil spirit. She plays everything much closer to reality and the evil that Top of the Lake confronts is rape culture.  It’s pervasive, creeping and around every corner of the world these characters live in, and I’m not sure if a more poignant film came out this past year.

2. Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach): A film about Female friendship as platonic soul mates, economic frustrations, arrested development and dance all wrapped up in a nice French New Wave inspired package. This film lives and dies on the strength of Greta Gerwig and luckily she’s at a career best. It’s telling that so many people relate to Frances. I think in part it’s because she serves as a kind of mascot for the current generation of post-graduates who are trying to find their way in the world. Baumbach and Gerwig capture those feelings of plowing ahead through uncertainty perfectly. Although there should have been more dance. More dance in movies in 2014 please
3. Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine): I’m convinced Spring Breakers is a film of contradictions, and an endlessly fascinating one. Feminism exists within surface level male gaze, Terrence Malick’s ethereal templates are grafted onto Spring Break culture, Korine shows affection for his characters while simultaneously damning them. All these things together create something that is ridiculously compelling from a purely interpretational viewpoint, and when you add onto that the pop art aesthetic being baptized in the waters of Malick and Mann you have something truly unique.

4. Drug War (Johnnie To): Johnnie To’s brand of film making has often been compared to Jazz at times (especially in the case of something like Sparrow, and rightfully so), but in Drug War it’s a little different and I’m more prone to compare his work in action to thrash metal. The way everything is so tightly constructed, the way the action viscerally moves from one scene to the next without losing the rhythm of the movement. It’s anything but rigid, and like thrash metal it moves over you like a machine and pummels everything in it’s way.
5.  Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel and Ethan Coen): It’s not entirely difficult to make the claim that this is the Coen’s Ulysses to their Odysseus (O Brother, Where Art Thou?). Filled to the brim with the kind of darkly comic tragedy we’ve come to expect from them and punctuated by an incredible soundtrack. I still have Please Mr. Kennedy stuck in my head. Someone please send help.
6. The Unspeakable Act (Dan Sallitt): A film dedicated to Rohmer that echoes his influence on cinema. The way Sallitt has a control of the rhythm of dialogue calls upon the late director’s work and the transgressive look at incestual desire always feels respected and not presented as taboo. It’s just a facet of this young girls blossoming sexuality. Tallie Medel is astounding and the therapy sessions are something of a marvel in the way he makes sitting and talking feel vibrant and alive.
7. White Reindeer (Zach Clark): For a little while White Reindeer held the top spot on my year end list, and I still love it deeply. Zach Clark’s picture absolutely floored me when I watched it earlier this year, and captures spiraling depression in a really human and loving way. Anna Margaret Hollyman also gives the best performance I’ve seen all year. The film is really funny too.

8. Wolf Children (Mamoru Hosada): Making me cry is a common theme of the films I tend to fall in love with and it was no different this year. Wolf Children left me in a pool of tears. The melodrama is incredible and the single parent-motherhood narrative mixed with it’s identity politics really hit close to home.
9. Bastards (Claire Denis): There is something deliriously evil about this film. Claire Denis and Agnes Godard’s collaborations have never been this bleak and pessimistic. Every ounce of her usual sensual-bodies in motion- style is demonized and repurposed to chill instead of sensualize. Like my #1 of the year Top of the Lake it takes you down the rabbit hole of a pervasive culture and like that film as well it’s horrifying to find out what lies at the center.

10. Lesson of the Evil (Takashi Miike): This may very well be the most nihilistic film of the lot, but I can’t help but fall in love with Miike’s craft, the colours he uses and the black comedy inherent within slasher films to once again show everyone who the best in the world is at making horror films. (This might have been undistributed. It had a NY festival date so I’m counting it)

The other films I loved this year
11. The World’s End (Edgar Wright)
12. Fast & Furious Six (Justin Lin)
13. The Punk Singer (Sini Anderson)
14. Laurence Anyways (Xavier Dolan)
15. Viola (Matías Piñeiro) 

16. Stories We Tell (Sarah Polley)
17. The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)
18. Computer Chess (Andrew Bujalski)
19. Before Midnight (Richard Linklater)
20. The Heat (Paul Feig)
21. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen)
22. The Grandmaster (Wong Kar Wai)
23. Leviathan (Lucien Casting-Taylor, Verena Paravel)
24. Frozen (Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck)
25. The Past (Asghar Farhadi)

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (Pain & Gain)
Anna Margaret Hollyman (White Reindeer)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Suzanne Clement (Laurence Anyways)
Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis)
Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha)
James Franco (Spring Breakers)
Zhang Zyi (The Grandmaster)
Simon Pegg (The World’s End)
Amy Acker (Much Ado About Nothing)
Nick Frost (The World’s End)
Julie Delpy (Before Midnight)
Sun Honglei (Drug War)
Emma Watson (The Bling Ring)
Adam Driver (Inside Llewyn Davis)
Adepero Oduye (12 Years a Slave)
Mattew McConaughey (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Melissa McCarthy (The Heat)

*I would have liked to have written something about their performances, but I quickly realized that is not my forte and it would have quickly devolved into cliche acting buzzwords so I’ll spare you all from that.

Best Direction: Johnnie To: Drug War
Runner Up: Claire Denis: Bastards

Best Cinematography: Benoit Debie: Spring Breakers
Runner Up: Emmanuel Lubezki: To the Wonder

Best Screenplay: Dan Sallitt: The Unspeakable Act
Runner Up: Joel and Ethan Coen: Inside Llewyn Davis

Best Usage of Music (this means ALL music): Laurence Anyways
Runner Up: Inside Llewyn Davis/Bastards/Spring Breakers

Best Undistributed Film: Blind Detective (Johnnie To) *Sammi Cheng gives maybe my favourite performance of the year as well. Here is hoping it gets a 2014 release

Most Quotable Movie: Frances Ha (Ahoy, Sexy! Frances Undateable)
Runner Up: The World’s End (Oh, Fuck Off! You Big Lamp! Smashy Smashy Eggman)

In closing I just want to say I had a great year, and each year in cinema always opens itself up to more viewings and reworking your favourites over the years. Life through cinema is a never ending journey and this post is only a checkpoint, a timestamp of my opinion at this moment, because I still have so much more to see and to discover and I can’t wait to find out. I know 2014 will bring just as many riches.