Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: a year in film.

top US theatrical (narrative) film releases that I saw in 2013

Her (Spike Jonze | USA | Warner Bros.)

Berberian Sound Studio (Peter Strickland, 2012 | UK | IFC Midnight)

Museum Hours (Jem Cohen, 2012 | Austria/USA | The Cinema Guild)

Upstream Color (Shane Carruth; USA | erbp)

A Touch of Sin (Jia Zhangke; China | Kino Lorber)

Before Midnight (Richard Linklater | USA | Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Post Tenebras Lux (Carlos Reygadas, 2012 | Mexico/France/Netherlands/Germany | Strand Releasing)

Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine, 2012 | USA | Lionsgate Home Entertainment)

Bastards [Les salauds] (Claire Denis | France/Germany | Sundance Selects)

The Past [Le passé] (Asghar Farhadi | France/Italy | Sony Pictures Classics)

HMs: Nebraska (Alexander Payne | USA | Paramount Vantage)

Computer Chess (Andrew Bujalski | USA | Kino Lorber)

Blue Is the Warmest Color [La vie d'Adèle – Chapitres 1 & 2] (Abdellatif Kechiche | France/Belgium/Spain | Sundance Selects)

Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler | USA | Anchor Bay Entertainment)

The Bling Ring (Sofia Coppola | USA/UK/France/Germany/Japan | A24)

top US theatrical (documentary) film releases that I saw in 2013

Stories We Tell (Sarah Polley, 2012 | Canada | Roadside Attractions)

Cutie and the Boxer (Zachary Heinzerling | USA | RADiUS-TWC)

American Promise (Joe Brewster and Michele Stephenson | USA | P.O.V.)

The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn, and Anonymous, 2012 | Denmark/Norway/UK/Finland | Drafthouse Films)

Best Director

Spike Jonze, Her
Claire Denis, Bastards
Jia Zhangke, A Touch of Sin
Shane Carruth, Upstream Color
Harmony Korine, Spring Breakers

HMs: Carlos Reygadas, Post Tenebras Lux
Asghar Farhadi, The Past

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Joaquin Phoenix, Her*
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Chiwetal Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station
Vincent London, Bastards

HMs: Robert Redford, All Is Lost
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight
Brady Corbet, Simon Killer
Toby Jones, Berberian Sound Studio

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Adèle Exarchopoulos, Blue Is the Warmest Color*
Amy Seimetz, Upstream Color*
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmin
Bérénice Bejo, The Past
Judi Dench, Philomena

HM: Julie Delpy, Before Midnight
Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Wu Jiang, A Touch of Sin
James Franco, Spring Breakers
Ali Mosaffa, The Past
Dane DeHaan, Kill Your Darlings
James Gandolfini, Enough Said

HM: Will Forte, Nebraska
Michel Subor, Bastards

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

June Squibb, Nebraska*
Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave*
Pauline Burlet, The Past
Zhao Tao, A Touch of Sin
Amy Adams, Her

HM: Chiara Mastroianni, Bastards

Best Writing - Adapted Screenplay

Abdellatif Kechiche and Ghalia Lacroix, Blue Is the Warmest Color
Sofia Coppola, The Bling Ring
John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave
Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, Philomena
Terence Winter, The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Writing - Original Screenplay

Spike Jonze, Her
Shane Carruth, Upstream Color
Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight
Asghar Farhadi, The Past
Jia Zhangke, A Touch of Sin

Best Cinematography

Hoyte Van Hoytema, Her
Nicholas D. Knowland, Berberian Sound Studio
Jem Cohen and Peter Roehsler, Museum Hours
Shane Carruth, Upstream Color
Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity
Alexis Zabe, Post Tenebras Lux
Benoît Debie, Spring Breakers
Agnès Godard, Bastards
Phedon Papamichael, Nebraska
Christopher Blauvelt and Harris Savides, The Bling Ring
Roger A. Deakins, Prisoners
Philippe Le Sourd, The Grandmaster

Best Original Score

Tindersticks, Bastards
Shane Carruth, Upstream Color
Broadcast, Berberian Sound Studio
Arcade Fire and Owen Pallett, Her
Mark Orton, Nebraska

HMs: Cliff Martinez and Skrillex, Spring Breakers
Alexander Ebert, All Is Lost
Daniel Lopatin and Brian Reitzell, The Bling Ring
Graham Reynolds, Before Midnight
Giong Lim, A Touch of Sin

Monday, December 23, 2013

2013: a year in music.

top/favourite albums of the year

01. Cold Spring Fault Less Youth, Mount Kimbie (Warp)

So I guess this marks the second year that my top LP of the year is claimed by Warp, which I can't say I didn't see coming. I've seen Mount Kimbie perform live three times since November of last year - opening for Squarepusher at New York's Terminal 5 alongside Bonobo and Holy Fuck in the fall of 2012, headlining Philadelphia's Union Transfer the night before The Roots Picnic in May of this year with Holy Other and Vinyl Williams as support, and playing at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh this past October - and every time they've offered a fresh, new experience of their music. "Home Recording" is a perfect opener, the drop in "Break Well" (at approximately 2:35) is one of the  most satisfying of the year, "Made to Stray" has one of the most gigantic and pleasurable build-ups, "So Many Times, So Many Ways" is a jam and when played live really showcases Dom and Kai's talent with their instruments - I could go on, but really, you should be listening to this album right now if you haven't.

02. Fade, Yo La Tengo (Matador)

This is one of the most cohesive albums of the year and an exacting distillation of Yo La Tengo's quieter, more contemplative sound. From Ira, Georgia, and James' anthemic chorus on "Ohm" to Georgia's cooing on "Cornelia and Jane," there is nary a moment in which the listener isn't engaged or a weak track to speak of.

03. Overgrown, James Blake (Republic)

James proves he's not averse to taking risks, and the new sonic territory compliments his delicate but forceful voice to positive results. Lines that will undoubtedly get stuck in your head: "Time passes in the constant state" (from the title track) and "So show me where you fit" (among others, from the first single "Retrograde") "His work with RZA on "Take a Fall for Me" and Brian Eno on "Digital Lion" is quite thrilling.

04. Hummingbird, Local Natives (Frenchkiss)

Borne out of loss, this is one of the most inspiring and life-affirming albums of the year. Soaring vocals and crushing instrumentals, if "Colombia" doesn't move you, I don't know what will.

05. Apocalypse, Thundercat (Brainfeeder)

With Apocalypse, Thundercat continues to cement his status of one of the best (and most adventurous) bass players working today, not to mention showing his adeptness at creating strong, catchy pop songs ("Heartbreaks + Setbacks" is one of the year's best) and club bangers ("Oh Sheit, It's X!" is just too much fun). Oh, and "Lotus and the Jondy" is a jam. Another record borne out of loss, Apocalypse is also a loving tribute to labelmate, frequent collaborator, and friend Austin Peralta.

06. Monomania, Deerhunter (4AD)

recommended: "The Missing," "Pensacola," "Back to the Middle"

07. Cupid Deluxe, Blood Orange (Domino)

recommended: "Chamakay," "You're Not Good Enough," "Time Will Tell"

08. Tomorrow's Harvest, Boards of Canada (Warp)

recommended: "Jacquard Causeway," "Palace Posy," "Nothing is Real"

09. Settle, Disclosure (Cherrytree/Interscope)

recommended: "When A Fire Starts to Burn," "Latch," "White Noise," "You & Me"

10. m b v, My Bloody Valentine (self-released)

recommended: "She Found Now," "Only Tomorrow," "Wonder 2"

11. The North Borders, Bonobo (Ninja Tune)

recommended: "First Fires," "Cirrus," "Towers"

12. No Better Time Than Now, Shigeto (Ghostly)

recommended: "Detroit Part 1," "Ringleader," "Olivia"

13. Matangi, M.I.A. (N.E.E.T./Interscope)

recommended: "MATANGI," "Come Walk With Me," "Y.A.L.A."

14. Anything in Return, Toro y Moi Carpark)

recommended: "Harm In Change," "Say That," "Never Matter"

15. Jai Paul, Jai Paul (self-released/leaked)

recommended: "Str8 Outta Mumbai," "Crush," "All Night"

16. BEYONCÉ, Beyoncé (Parkwood/Columbia)

recommended: "Drunk In Love," "Blow," "XO"

17. Yeezus, Kanye West (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam)

recommended: "Black Skinhead," "New Slaves," "Blood on the Leaves," "Bound 2"

18. Mala, Devendra Banhart (Nonesuch)

recommended: "Daniel," "Für Hildegard von Binge," "Your Fine Petting Duck"

19. Hanging Gardens, Classixx (Innovative Leisure)

recommended: "Hanging Gardens," "All You're Waiting For" (feat. Nancy Whang), "Holding On"

20. Wakin on a Pretty Daze, Kurt Vile (Matador)

recommended: "Wakin on a Pretty Day," "KV Crimes," "Air Bud"

HMs. Hymnal, Benoît Pioulard (Kranky)

Immunity, Jon Hopkins (Domino)

Sing to the Moon, Laura Mvula (Columbia)

Run the Jewels, Run the Jewels (Fool's Gold)

Free Your Mind, Cut Copy (Modular)

A Quiet Darkness, Houses (Downtown)

Berberian Sound Studio OST, Broadcast (Warp)

Body Music, AlunaGeorge (Island)

Dynamics, Holy Ghost! (DFA)

Life After Defo, Deptford Goth (Cooperative/Merok)

Obsidian, Baths (Anticon)

Upstream Color OST, Shane Carruth (erbp)

Days Are Gone, Haim (Columbia)

Woman, Rhye (Polydor)

Acid Rap, Chance the Rapper (self-released)

top/favourite EPs of the year

01a. Rival Dealer, Burial (Hyperdub)

Another year, another Burial EP (so it goes...) - I'm not complaining.

01b. Dual, Sampha (Young Turks)

I must admit that I was a little disappointed when this EP was released over the summer. I was hoping for something a bit more substantial - those two tracks that clock in under a minute had me confused and let down, but I now find them quite moving, and the previously heard track ("Indecision") I now hear as coming off much stronger and affecting (with its polish) than the demo version. The new tracks - "Beneath the Tree," "Without," "Can't Get Close" - what can I say, really (I've been standing behind Sampha ever since I heard SBTRKT's self-titled in the summer of 2011), other than that they solidify Sampha as one of today's most potent and emotionally stirring vocalists.

02. Yugen, Koreless (Young Turks)

03. EP2, FKA twigs (Young Turks)

Lockjaw, Flume & Chet Faker (Future Classic)

05. London, Banks (Harvest)

HM. On The Way/Let It Go, Short Stories (Young Turks)