UPDATED 1/7/10 12:15 p.m.
I’ve been struggling to wrangle together a year-end post that encompasses more than just my favorite movies, best films of the decade, blah, blah, blah, but even though I’ve been able to marshal a lot of resources and links together, the article just doesn’t seem to be coming together in the way I first envisioned it. So I’ve decided, rather than to sit on some things that I want to point you toward while I scramble to figure things out, to tell you about five or six things from the recent months of the past year that put a huge, dorky grin on my face when I read them. Being no great aggregator myself, I have acknowledged where each bit comes from, which will hopefully encourage you to not only visit the place where the goodies be but also the site where the person who first brought those goodies to my (our) attention calls home. These, then, are a few of my favorite things from 2009.
Having finally seen Lars von Trier’s Antichrist last night, on a spectacularly revealing double feature with Ingmar Bergman’s Hour of the Wolf, and also fully expecting that Wes Anderson’s sublimely wonderful Fantastic Mr. Fox will be somewhere near the summit of my year-end list, I now feel qualified to submit the following. Fans of both the Anderson and Von Trier films (and there are more than a few for whom those two movies are not mutually exclusive, including myself) oughta love this great poster mash-up from Sam’s Myth. As you can see, Sam is good at this kind of thing. I will enjoy this one on my desktop as I try to get my head around what Von Trier has achieved with his masterful, agonizing movie. (Props too to Keith Uhlich, terrific writer and overseeing editor at The House Next Door, on whose Facebook page I was first exposed to this wily image, which Keith was at one time using as his Facebook avatar.)
And speaking of posters, here’s a grab bag of the decade’s greatest one-sheets as assembled by Adrian Curry for The Auteurs. Though not one of my favorite films, the one-sheet for Steven Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience is one of my favorites of the decade and among several great choices that Adrian offers up as evidence that the art of the movie poster, though dangling by a thread, is not quite dead.
Nor is the fine art of imaginary adaptation, apparently. This collection, originally lifted by Devin Faraci off of Harry Knowles’ Twitter feed (boy, did typing that feel weird) of Jack Kirby-style faux comic book covers based on Inglorious Basterds is pretty amusing stuff, and it also unexpectedly made me pine to read the actual comic books if they, Unobtanium-style, actually existed. (Thanks, Peet—scroll down to his comment.) I’ve highlighted one of my favorites and saved the rest, if you haven’t seen them already, for you to click and discover for yourself.
Two different looks at the sexy side of Hammer Films come from Kimberly Lindbergs at Cinebeats and Ray Young of Flickhead fame. Both offer extensive reviews of the new book Hammer Glamour, a look at the bodacious roster of scream queens who graced the studio's incredible output of horror films from the ‘50s through the ‘70s. Kimberly goes even further and devotes several posts to individual sexy idols like Raquel Welch, Barbara Shelley and Ursula Andress. (Is it any wonder why we all love you so, Kimberly?) But Ray’s devotion to Hammer beauty should not be discounted either—his review of Marcus Hearn’s book at the main Flickhead site offers a cornucopia of photos that are different from the ones on the blog—Mr. Young does know how to spread the wealth. And both writers make it clear, beyond their curvaceous appeal to adolescent boys (and girls), why these actresses were so essential to the success of the Hammer formula and why they continue to inspire such passion in those who remember these women well and with delight, the way Kimberly and Ray do.
Speaking of passion, few have it like one of my favorite movie-going companions, Cathie Horlick. Cathie is a regular at the New Beverly (she was there for the Von Trier-Bergman square-off last night) and is always a treat to talk to because she wears her all-consuming, eclectic taste in films on her sleeve and also because she always has intelligent and articulate things to say about them. Recently, she made the pilgrimage to Austin, Texas and the Alamo Drafthouse for Harry Knowles's annual Butt-Numb-a-Thon (known affectionately as BNAT), and Cathie documented her exhausting, hallucinatory, gluteus maximus-taxing experience on Cat’s Blog in a piece entitled BNAT XI 2009: My Movie Heaven. This is a really fun read, especially if you have always wanted to know what one of these endurance tests was like but have never had the gumption, desire or wherewithal to get there yourself. Cathie even shaved her head as part of the admission ritual (not really, but I have to say I believed it when I first saw the picture, which she posted on Facebook with no explanation for the uninitiated dummy like me) and came up with a neat THX-1138-inspired look which no doubt endeared her to the crowd. (Did you show up in the bald wig, Cathie?) Anyway, Cathie brought her boundless enthusiasm to the adventure and she’s documented it all for you. Enjoy vicariously!
Finally, what would I do without my good friend Larry Aydlette, who must e-mail me at least once a week with some wonderful discovery or other to brighten up an otherwise dreary day. (And he’s in Florida, so I see these e-mails as soon I log onto my computer in the morning and my day, often already on the downhill slope, shapes right up!) Well, Larry has unearthed a doozy this morning. You may have seen this already, but if you haven’t, well, you’ll always remember that it was here where you first encountered the oddball brilliance of Nic Cage as Everyone, an Internet oasis “founded on the belief that everything in life would be better with a little more Nic Cage, the most unique and versatile actor of his generation.” Some of the earliest entries in this parade of Cage-tastic omnipresence are a little on the rough side (Cage as Quint being swallowed by the giant shark sloppily betrays its Photoshop origins), but most are inspired, ingenious and, to a picture, very, very silly. Click on over to Nic Cage as Everyone and try my Thursday morning grin on for size.
Oh, and by pure coincidence, I'm sure, happy birthday, Nicolas Cage, who turns 46 today!
More goodies coming soon!
UPDATED 1/7/10 12:15 p.m. Okay, Larry's throwing rocks this morning. Now comes word from his Palm Beach enclave that it was apparently not the work of Joel and Ethan Coen which we should be celebrating from their 1998 film The Big Lebowski, but instead that of some guy named William Shakespeare, whose lost play Two Gentlemen of Lebowski has just been found in some dank London antique shop. For but a taste, here then is the opening of Act I, Scene II, set in the boys' favorite ninepins parlor:
[The bowling green. Enter THE KNAVE, WALTER and DONALD, to play at ninepins]
In sooth, then, faithful friend, this was a rug of value? Thou wouldst call it not a rug among ordinary rugs, but a rug of purpose? A star in a firmament, in step with the fashion alike to the Whitsun morris-dance? A worthy rug, a rug of consequence, sir?
It was of consequence, I should think; verily, it tied the room together, gather’d its qualities as the sweet lovers’ spring grass doth the morning dew or the rough scythe the first of autumn harvests. It sat between the four sides of the room, making substance of a square, respecting each wall in equal harmony, in geometer’s cap; a great reckoning in a little room. Verily, it transform’d the room from the space between four walls presented, to the harbour of a man’s monarchy.
Indeed, a rug of value; an estimable rug, an honour’d rug; O unhappy rug, that should live to cover such days!
Of what dost thou speak, that tied the room together, Knave? Take pains, for I would well hear of that which tied the room together.
Didst thou attend the Knave’s tragic history, Sir Donald?
Nay, good Sir Walter, I was a-bowling.
Thou attend’st not; and so thou hast no frame of reference. Thou art as a child, wandering and strutting amidst the groundlings as a play is in session, heeding not the poor players, their exits and their entrances, and, wanting to know the subject of the story, asking which is the lover and which the tyrant.
Come to the point, Sir Walter.
My point, then, Knave; there be no reason, if sweet reason doth permit, in enlightenment’s bower—and reason says thou art the worthier man—
Yes, Sir Walter, pray, merrily state the fulcrum of thy argument.
My colleague, although unfram’d and unreferenc’d, speaks plain and true. That these toughs are those at fault, we are agreed; that I stand wounded, unrevenged, we likewise are agreed; yet you circle the meanings unconstantly, like blunted burrs, unstuck where they are thrown.
I speak of aggression uncheck’d, as crowned heads of state once spoke of Arabia—
Arabia! Then we have put a girdle round the earth. Of what does Sir Walter speak?
Cast it from thy sieve-like books of memory, Sir Donald; thou art out of thy element!