For that matter, neither is this blog. Yes, I left this piece of property to wither in the cold cold outskirts of unupdating, but I had work to do. Counting the bees in the hive. Chasing the clouds from the sky. And conducting deep immersion research for a certain action cool cable channel...
No, I don't get to hang out with Mr. Rodriguez. He's in another city, and very busy.
No, I will not send them your vampire ninja script. It sucks, go write something better.
And, there was that monthly screening series I was curating...
So this has been year full of hustling, rustling, documenting, and other active gerunds. But in the midst of all of that, I still saw a significant number of great movies. And I would be remiss as your opionated but not obtuse correspondent if I didn't make the time to offer up my thoughts as to what made the visits to the cinema extra special this year.
My Jury Prize, for unique film experience that doesn't quite allow for listicle quantification, goes to Thom Anderson's audacious, alluminating LOS ANGELES PLAYS ITSELF, which technically has been kicking around in special screenings since its original conception in 2003, but only this year, thanks to generous applications of the Fair Use Doctrine, was able to go into wide availability and be seen by movie lovers all over the world. Anderson as scholar makes some bold statements and occasionally pompous pronouncements you might take issue with; I certainly beg to differ on his dismissal of the Joel Silver action era. However, this thorough and exhaustive film essay on how Los Angeles evolved from Anytown USA to one of the most colorful unclassifiable characters in modern cinema is a treat that will make you watch favorites in a new way, and maybe give you a bunch of unfamiliar films to seek out for your catch-up list.
As for the last loving lampoons department, I've gotta throw in a "Runaway Jury" Prize for the demented proselytizing of THE IDENTICAL, where director Dustin Marcellino and writer Howard Klausner would have you believe that at the dawn of rock'n'roll, not only was there someone who became world famous by biting Elvis Presley's act, that pretender to the throne had an unknown twin brother who was biting the biter's act for small change...and that someone invented the prototype of "AMERICAN IDOL" in the '60's and they inadvertently both appeared on it...and that Not Elvis #1 was already wearing pastels and paisleys before Prince (I guess because his cousin Marvin sent him photos of that performance)...and that they were all emissaries of Zionist Christianity. May God and Godard bless Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd, and Joey Pants for taking the faith-based money and trying to sincerely sell dialogue that wouldn't pass muster at the Hallmark Channel. You won't turn your life around afterward, and none of the songs here will dethrone the mighty Sonseed as your Christian-rock earworm, but THE IDENTICAL is more fun than eleven long-haired friends of Jesus on a chartreuse microbus, and I think even the Nazarene himself would enjoy the chuckles.
As I stated earlier, I couldn't always make it to the movies like I normally would, so I'm especially glad I caught these special ones in a theatrical setting when I had to miss many others.
Ten worthwhile films nobody saw but me:
Beyond the Lights
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
Space Station '76
Why Don't You Play in Hell
And, finally, the collection of darkened viewings that made my life and imagination feel so much brighter, The Top 13 of 2014:
13. THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
12. THE DANCE OF REALITY
11. BLUE RUIN
10. THE BABADOOK
8. THE IMMIGRANT
6. INHERENT VICE
2. WE ARE THE BEST
I don't know if I can promise to return here more frequently, or if this blog will become the equivalent of a pop-up restaurant or underground rave, as I go on about my adventures in the screen trade, but I'm glad you've stuck around for it all this time. We'll see each other when it happens, either here, or at the movies.
evocative photo courtesy of Phil Blankenship