Christmas + looking ahead to 2013

How was your Christmas? Unfortunately there was a great deal of illness in our family this holiday season, but that didn't stop us from enjoying ourselves anyway. I somehow avoided becoming sick (so far). Fingers crossed.

Get any cool gifts? Here's a list of several of mine:

The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies and What They Did to Us - David Thomson
Cronenberg on Cronenberg
Quiet - Susan Cain
Sight and Sound film magazine subscription

DVDS, all of them random surprises:
Backwoods (2006)
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
The Black Dahlia (2006)

Looking over my film watching numbers the last two or three years, I regret watching too many average new films. So one of my mini goals for 2013 is to cut back on that, and focus on diversifying film watching, so I watch films from different decades.

I've decided to simplify things, and rank my favorites by IMDb year, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and so forth. I've seen so many from those four years, and some years way back hardly any, so that it's very unbalanced viewing.

I'd love to compile a Top Fives by Year, which other cinephiles are working on. Perhaps going back to 1920. It's a lifelong hobby. I stumbled upon Jandy's and Jeff's. Looking at their ambitious lists puts me to shame (:

I've taken a step in that direction by compiling a blindspot list for 2013 of about 50 classic films I've not watched. If I watch half of them, I'll be happy.

On the music front, I don't have anything definite planned. I feel a similar way as above, that I ought to listen to the old albums a lot more, and diversify.

Here are a few on my list to explore:

60s: The Beatles, Bob Dylan,

70s and 80s: Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake, Fleetwood Mac, Billy Joel, Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel, The Jesus and Mary Chain, New Order, Brian Eno, Genesis, The Smiths, Ultravox, A-ha, Tangerine Dream, Big Star, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, The Pretenders, Vangelis, Daniel Johnston,

90s and 00s: Beck, Joan As Police Woman, Nick Cave, Fiona Apple, The Antlers, The National, Feist, The Radio Dept, Burial, Keane, Corinne Bailey Rae, Tindersticks, PJ Harvey, Air, Thievery Corporation, Eels, Enigma, Blur, Goldfrapp, Moby, Lenny Kravitz, Sinéad O'Connor, Phoenix, Massive Attack, Sneaker Pimps, Camera Obscura, Regina Spektor, Gotye, The Shins, Sufjan Stevens, David Gray, Sebastien Tellier, Cocteau Twins, Slowdive, Lush, The Vaccines,

Which mini goals, in terms of movie watching, or life in general, do you have for 2013? Receive any great gifts from under the tree? I hope you had a nice Christmas, and wish my readers a Happy New Year!

Top 100 songs of 2012

By request, this year you can also listen to my top 100 playlist on spotify

*indicates unavailable on spotify:

1.) Wayfarin' Stranger - Neil Young & Crazy Horse
2.) We Got It Wrong - St. Lucia
3.) All The Rowboats – Regina Spektor
4.) Jasmine - Jai Paul (Demo)
5.) Anything We Want - Fiona Apple
6.) Take It Out On Me - Chairlift
7.) When You Rest - Sarah Jaffe
8. Five Seconds - Twin Shadow
9. * Cherry - Chromatics
10. Paradise - Wild Nothing
11. Lookin' Back On '99 - Daughn Gibson
12. A Young Girl's World - Daughn Gibson
13. Lady - Chromatics
14. Who - David Byrne & St. Vincent
15. The Sweet Hello The Sad Goodbye (Bassflow Remake) - Roxette
16. California - Delta Spirit
17. Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings - Father John Misty
18. Rocky Ground - Bruce Springsteen
19. Looking For A Sign - Beck
20. * Sqworm - Ramona Falls
21. Whatever Happened To The Times - Bobby Womack
22. Up All Night - Best Coast
23. Nothing But Time - Cat Power
24. Ruin - Cat Power
25. Over the border - Saint Etienne
26. Darkness - Leonard Cohen
27. Emmylou - First Aid Kit
28. Annemarie - Anais Michell
29. * Glasses High - Sophia Knapp (live)
30. Sugar - Garbage
31. Doubt - Amanda Mair
32. * Sleepless - churchhill garden
33. The Music (instrumental) - Orbital (Pusher Soundtrack)
34. Tallulah - Allo Darlin’
35. Jonathan - Fiona Apple
36. Sad - Elton John Vs Pnau
37. September - The Shins
38. Invisible - Pet Shop Boys
39. Man On Fire - Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros
40. Firewater - Django Django
41. Bad Apple - Tribes
42. * Fireflies - Still Corners
43. Ask - Sharon Van Etten
44. Give Out - Sharon van Etten
45. The Way Sound Leaves The Room - Sarah Jaffe
46. Carmen (music video version) - Lana Del Rey
47. American - Lana Del Rey
48. Ride - Lana Del Rey
49. On the Wing - How To Destroy Angels
50. Longest Day - Dave Gahan & Soul Savers

51. Seven Stars (ft. Victoria Legrand) - Air
52. She Just Don't Want To Be With You Anymore - Jens Lekman
53. * Spectral Dusk - Evening Hymns
54. Yet Again - Grizzly Bear
55. Baby (Donnie and Joe Emerson cover) - Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti
56. * Between Friends - Flying Lotus ft Earl Sweatshirt & Captain Murphy
57. 110% - Jessie Ware
58. * Romantic Streams (CFCF Remix) - Sleep ∞ Over
59. Bloody Mouth - 001: Moons (Watchtower Version)
60. Duquesne Whistle - Bob Dylan
61. * So Good To Me - Chris Malinchak
62. Out on The Road - Norah Jones
63. Manhattan - Cat Power
64. * Unworry - Ani Difranco
65. Mira - Melody Gardot
66. 1904 - Tallest Man On Earth
67. Flying - Sean Rowe
68. Horses - Sean Rowe
69. God Help This Divorce - Mike Snow
70. Destiny (Original Mix) - John Talabot Feat. Pional
71. * Skyfall - Adele
72. All Your Gold - Bat For Lashes
73. Would That Not Be Nice - Divine Fits
74. Swing Lo Magellan - Dirty Projectors
75. Put Me To Sleep - Porcelain Raft
76. Backwords - Porcelain Raft
77. Evening's Kiss - Willis Earl Beal
78. Let Me Be Him - Hot Chip
79. Large - Taken By Trees
80. Mayla - Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros
81. Dear Believer - Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros
82. * Called Out In The Dark - Snow Patrol
83. This Time Next Year - Damien Jurado
84. Working Titles - Damien Jurado
85. Neptune - Lemonade
86. In the Morning - Dave Gahan and Soulsavers
87.* To Look At You - Julia Holter (INXS cover)
88. Lazuli - Beach House
89. * Pure Milk - The Mountain Goats (re-release 2012)
90. Travel As Equals - Joseph Arthur
91. The First Time I Ran Away - M. Ward
92. Day Four - Bloc Party
93. New For You - Reeve Carney
94. Redbud Tree - Mark Knopfler
95. Pretend You Love Me - Sonny and the Sunsets
96. On and On and On - Jack White
97. Lighthouse - Patrick Watson
98. Une version améliorée de la tristesse - Peter Peter
99. I Don't Eat Human Beings - John Maus (from 2012 rarities album)
100. Yellow Halo - Goldfrapp

Honourable mentions in random order:
Our Sorrows - Julia Holter
All Eyes On You - St. Lucia
Quiet Crowd - Patrick Watson
Brains - Lower Dens
Needleye - James Irwin
Her Fantasy - Matthew Dear
Sixty - Elton John vs. Pnau
Doom and Gloom - Rolling Stones
Fell Sound - Mirroring
* The Theory Of Relativity - Stars
Song Groove - Michael Jackson
Standing At the Sky's Edge - Richard Hawley (Love the first 2min 30s, Jim Morrison might be rolling in his grave if he heard the vocal)
* Trust Fall (Down We Go Remix By Jensen Sportag) - Madi Diaz
The Forgotten - Green Day
Symphony IX (My Wait Is U) – Grimes
Troublemaker - Beach House
Myth - Beach House
* Numb - Andy Stott
Myth - Keane
Looking Hot - No Doubt
I’m Addicted – Madonna
Fire & Soul - The Cranberries
Forgetting All My Troubles - Katie Melua
Rake (Townes Van Zandt cover) - Wino
* Treat Your Woman Right - Soko
Reason With Me – Sinead O’Connor
Boots Of Spanish Leather (Bob Dylan cover) - The Airborne Toxic Event
* Sons of Bill - Virginia Calling (live WNRN radio)
Rosemary - Suzanne Vega
* Track 2 (Narcissist II) - Dean Blunt Feat. Inga Copeland
Loner - Burial
* Close To Me - Sophia Knapp
Why It's Cool - Jim White
Hurricane - MS MR
Artificial Nocturne – Metric
* Jackson (Live on KEXP) - Craig Finn
Transcendental Youth - The Mountain Goats
The Garden Song - The Mountain Goats (re-release 2012)
* Southern Nights - Citizen Cope
How Long Have You Known - DIIV
Chocolate - Tindersticks
Tempest - Bob Dylan
Rest - Michael Kiwanuka (the track Tell Me A Tale made my top 100 of 2011)
To Just Grow Away - Tallest Man On Earth
Ice Age - How To Destroy Angels
* Contain Thyself - Pepe Deluxe
* Breathe (Pink Floyd cover ft. Tupac Shakur) - Capital Cities
Ode to Viceroy - Mac DeMarco
Shoreless Kid - Young Galaxy
Youth Is Wasted On the Young - Young Galaxy
Truant - Burial
Manchester - Kishi Bashi
Another Go - Mieka Pauley
Sophie Sleepless - Zach Fleury
No Other Plans - Sunny Levine
Cold Nites - How To Dress Well
On Again, Off Again - Lemolo
Do You Remember - Ane Brun

In The Middle (I Met You There) - Matthew Dear [Feat. Jonny Pierce]
* Her Fantasy (Poolside Remix) - Matthew Dear
* Scarface (Juveniles Remix) - Tresors
Think of Tomorrow - Leitbur
* Voice - Igor Volk
Long You Lie - Ned Collette & Wirewalkers
* Pacific - Goldroom
Miracle (Ghost Beach Cover) - Trails and Ways
Hello Inc. (feat. Saint Michel) (DJ Falcon Remix) - Alex Gopher
Of Monsters And Men - Little Talks
Tessellate – Alt-J
Forever – Haim
Ensemble (Club Mix) – Girl Unit
How do you do it – Hot Chip
Night Faces – Jessica Pratt
Fester – Dutch Uncles
Visitor – Hundred Waters
You’re Gonna Feel It – Ships
Sea Creatures – SOAK
Beautiful Son - Peaking Lights

The Bravest Man In The Universe - Bobby Womack
Opium - Dead Can Dance
Over The Ocean - Here We Go Magic

(Last updated 8th Feb 2013)

Thanks to jaredmobarak for the artwork.

So there you have it, those are my best-loved new tracks of 2012. Have you listened to the songs above? Which are your favorite tunes from 2012, did I miss them?

Favorite albums of 2012

It's been a busy 12 months of blogging music. I started the year sharing new releases I was enjoying.

The second half of 2012, I had running features on: Joy Division, The Flaming Lips, The Cure, Johnny Cash, Bryan Ferry & Roxy Music, and lastly, Destroyer. If you missed my shared tracks from those artists, you can access them here.

In terms of listening to new albums, I got through a great deal, as I also did in 2011 and in 2010.

This year, I got a bit bored with acoustic and folk music. The sound really needs to stand-out in a memorable way to interest me. Well-written lyrics are important, but if the melody and vocal is bland, I'm not going to get into it, and prefer a book instead.
I also grew a little weary of dream pop over the last 6-12 months, mainly because I've listened to so much the last couple of years, and the same applies, it really has to be something special to hold my attention now.

With the exception of a few artists in my top 25 who managed to deliver on past glory, especially Fiona Apple, I thought 2012 was a fairly weak year for the music community. Granted there were interesting new acts, but many established artists had anticipated new material out. The following failed to impress me, besides maybe one track I liked per album:
Alanis Morissette, Aerosmith, Neil Young, Madonna, The Cranberries, The Killers, Pet Shop Boys, Dave Matthews Band, Marillion, Soul Asylum, Band of Horses, Nelly Furtado, Bloc Party, Katie Melua, The Dandy Warhols, No Doubt, Aimee Mann, Passion Pit, The Ting Tings, School of Seven Bells, Nite Jewel, Craft Spells, Marissa Nadler, The Temper Trap, Memoryhouse, Twin Shadow, Freelance Whales, & Diamond Rings.

I suppose you would expect a few disappointments. This is just my opinion, I'm sure you'll find other people who enjoyed those releases.

Perhaps some of these guys are past their best, and just putting out new stuff based on their name in the business, who knows. In any case, a good deal of my favorite albums below are by up-and-coming artists.

I'm no expert, looking at the year as a whole, perhaps the music scene is in a transitional phase, where old artists are on the way out, and new artists are still finding their feet, finding an audience. I know this is a big generalization, however there could be a grain of truth to it.

There were many decent releases I quite liked, but only a small number of full length LPs that I actually loved all the way through, and had on repeat. Maybe this is because my standards are very high, and I'm more of a song than an album person, who knows. Or maybe because the music business has seen better days.

So without further ado, here are my 25 favorite albums of 2012:

1.) The Idler Wheel - Fiona Apple

(If I personally had to name an album from 2012 which would deserve to go in 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, this is the one. I really feel she has something on her mind she wants to communicate through her music, this could be because it's years since her last studio album. I love how she returns to a similar style to her debut album Tidal (1996)-which by the way is among my all-time favorites)

Favorite tracks:
Anything We Want
Every Single Night

2.) Born To Die (Paradise Edition) - Lana Del Rey

(Basically this collection consists of tracks from autumn 2011-November 2012. Rarely do you listen to B-sides that are as strong as you get on this album. In fact I'm not sure disc 2 are strictly B-sides. Overall, the lyrics on several tracks are pretty shoddy, though you can forgive this when there are wonderful and haunting tracks as well.)

Favorite tracks:
Carmen (youtube version)
Video Games
Born To Die
National Anthem
Bonus: Blue Jeans (RAC Remix)

3.) All Hell - Daughn Gibson

(I have never heard a vocal quite like this guy. A few of the tracks from his album have haunted me all year.)

Favorite tracks:
Lookin' Back On '99
A Young Girl's World

4.) Kill for Love - Chromatics

(If you enjoy dream pop, or you liked the Drive soundtrack, this could be for you)

Favorite tracks:
Into the black (Neil Young cover)
Bonus track from November: Cherry

5.) Searching For Sugar Man - Rodriguez

(I cheated a little putting it on here. The best kept secret of the 70s finally got the recognition he deserved thanks to the 2012 documentary Searching For Sugar Man. This new soundtrack is basically a collection of his best stuff.)

Favorite tracks:
Crucify Your Mind
Jane S Piddy
Street Boy
I Think of You
I'll Slip Away
I Wonder
The Establishment Blues
Sugar Man

6.) St. Lucia - St. Lucia

Possibly the most underrated release of 2012. Wonderful EP I stumbled upon by chance, the opening track is number 2 on my top 100 songs of 2012, and the other tracks are solid enough too. I told Alex Withrow that this music is similar to M83, and he went gaga over it (:

Favorite tracks:
We Got It Wrong
All Eyes On You
Closer Than This

7.) Amanda Mair - Amanda Mair

(I don't usually bother with these teenage pop singers, this is an exception. From Sweden, the production I think is quite high quality, and the lyrics are pretty good considering the blandness we often get in this music category. I'm a little surprised she doesn't feature on more best album or best song lists of 2012.)

Favourite tracks:
It's Gonna Be Long
Leaving Early

8.) Little Broken Hearts - Norah Jones

(Really impressed by Norah Jones' latest, arguably her best since debut Come Away With Me (2002). Little Broken Heats (2012) I think is an album with solid tracks all the way through.)

Favorite tracks:
Out On The Road
Say Goodbye
Little Broken Hearts

9.) Privateering - Mark Knopfler

(A double album by the former Dire Straits singer, that I didn't have high expectations of. Turned out to be surprisingly good. It's not full of hits, just a pleasant album to relax to.)

Favorite tracks:
Redbud tree
Haul away
Kingdom of gold
You two crows

10.) Old Ideas - Leonard Cohen

(His 12th studio album I don’t think is as haunting as Leonard’s best work, but still a hell of a lot better than a lot of other music currently being released, particularly in terms of lyrics. If I had to criticize Old Ideas, it’s that I feel like I've already heard the things he confesses on previous albums, maybe he is just feeling the same way? I’m not disappointed, but I’m not feeling he’s reinvented himself either, apart from the feeling of being close to death. I liked about half the album tracks on Old Ideas. Read my full review here)

Favorite tracks:
Show me the place
Going Home
Crazy to love you

11.) There's No Leaving Now - The Tallest Man on Earth

(I like the direction he took with this his third full length studio album. The songs have a quieter production, so that means the lyrics are easier to hear)

Favorite tracks:
Revelation Blues
Bright Lanterns
To Just Grow Away

12.) Port Of Morrow - The Shins

(Received mixed or average reviews, nevertheless I liked about half the songs on the album)

Favorite tracks:
The Rifle's Spiral
Its Only Life
No Way Down

13.) The Salesman and the Shark - Sean Rowe

(I loved his debut album, and this was an excellent follow-up effort, with a bunch of solid tracks)

Favorite tracks:
Joe's Cult
The Wall
The Ballad of Buttermilk Falls

14.) Sun - Cat Power

(Overall the album does lack variation. I still really enjoyed the four tracks below)

Favorite tracks:
Nothing But Time 

15.) Young Man in America - Anaïs Mitchell

(Her voice is not for everyone, but Hadestown was for me among the very best folk albums of 2010. Anais Mitchell has created a fine follow-up entitled Young Man in America. Most of my favorites on the new 2012 LP are towards the end. Stream the whole album for free at Paste Magazine)

Favorite tracks:
You are forgiven

16.) Here - Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros

Enjoyable album , which I actually prefer over their previous studio album, which in my opinion only had one great track, the amazing HOME, which is an all-time-favorite of mine. A pity about the album sleeve which looks embarrassingly amateurish!)

Favorite tracks:
Man On Fire
Dear Believer
That's What's Up

17.) Beams - Matthew Dear

(Never knew about Matthew Dear until a few months ago. The sound on this LP is quite something. I wouldn't be surprised if Joy Division was an influence on a track or two.)

Favorite tracks:
Her Fantasy
Do The Right Thing

18.) Instinct - Niki & The Dove

(Wonderful new Swedish band. Actually below personal favorites from album are a couple of years old now(from 2010), but are still in my opinion the cream of the crop on new LP.

Favorite tracks:
Mother Project
DJ Ease My Mind
Gentle Roar

19.) Which Side Are You On? - Ani Difranco

(A new discovery, the album ?Which Side Are You On? (2012) features some of the most original new lyrics I have heard this year. I'm surprised I haven't stumbled upon her music before, apparently she's been active for years.)

Favorite tracks:

20.) Visions - Grimes

(I struggled to rank this album, because it was my favorite of the year for a month during the spring. Now I barely listen to it anymore due to overplaying. Does that make it a top 25? I think so.)

Favorite tracks:
Symphony IX (My Wait Is U)
Be A Body

21.) Mature Themes - Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti

(The band made a big splash in 2010 with the single Round and Round. They have pulled off an interesting mix of tunes here, which point in many directions, I enjoyed about half the tracks. )

Favorite tracks:
Nostradamus and Me
Farewell American Primitive
Live It Up

22.) What We Saw From The Cheap Seats - Regina Spektor

(I thought Regina's album would be higher on my list. Having listened to it on a few occasions now, I can only find 3-4 songs that I want to return to.)

Favorite tracks:
All The Rowboats
Don't Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas)
Small Town Moon

23.) Bloom - Beach House

(I didn't love the whole album in its entirety. Below are my personal favorites)

Favorite tracks:
New Year

24.) Ekstasis - Julia Holter

(The voice, nobody else I know sings with a vocal like that. She has the voice of an angel. A breath of fresh air. I'm not convinced this will go down as her best album, so I expect big things from her in the next few years.)

Favorite tracks:
Our Sorrows
In The Same Room
Goddess Eyes II
Bonus tracks:
To Look At You (INXS cover)
Betsy on the roof
Goddess Eyes (Echo Manor version)

25.) Early Takes Volume 1 - George Harrison

(To coincide with the release of the Martin Scorsese George Harrison documentary, a bunch of rare acoustic demo recordings were dug up, and included as a separate disc with the deluxe blu-ray edition of the doc. Alternatively, you can now also buy the 30 minute album as a stand-alone cd. Some of these versions I actually prefer over the originals. With a title like that, you would hope Volume 2 is on the way.)

Favorite tracks:
Run of the Mill (Demo)
I'd Have You Anytime (Early Take)
All Things Must Pass (Demo)

Honorable mentions 26-

The Body Wins - Sarah Jaffe
Django Unchained - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Perks of Being A Wallflower - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Adventures in Your Own Backyard - Patrick Watson
Tramp - Sharon Van Etten
Fear Fun - Father John Misty
Not Your Kind Of People - Garbage
In Our Heads - Hot Chip
The Light The Dead See - Dave Gahan & Soulsavers
Something - Chairlift
Devotion - Jessie Ware
Good Morning To The Night - Elton John VS. Phau
Maraqopa - Damien Jurado
A Wasteland Companion - M. Ward
Wrecking Ball - Bruce Springsteen
Where It Hits You - Jim White
Redemption City - Joseph Arthur
I Know What Love Isn't - Jens Lekman
I Thought I Was An Alien - Soko
Strange Weekend - Porcelain Raft
Acousmatic Sorcery - Willis Earl Beal
An Omen - How To Destroy Angels (EP)
Kindred - Burial (EP)
Observator - Raveonettes
Tempest - Bob Dylan
The Absence - Melody Gardot
Home Again - Michael Kiwanuka
The Haunted Man - Bat for Lashes
Other Worlds - Taken by Trees

Any thoughts on the selected albums? Which of the LP's did you listen to during the year? Have I missed any great albums? Has 2012 been a good year for music in your opinion? Share your views in the comments below

Favorite older films watched in 2012

I started the year by writing full reviews, here's a list of those:
Lost In Translation (2003)
Life in a Day (2011)
American Psycho (2000)
Titanic (1997/2012)
We Need To Talk About (2011)
The Silence of The Lambs (1991)
The Decalogue (1988-89) - An Introduction, and E1-E10

Directed by Lars von Trier
Antichrist (2009)
Dogville (2003)
Dancer in The Dark (2000)
Breaking the Waves (1996)
Europa (1991)
The Element of Crime (1984)

Directed by Darren Aronofsky:
Black Swan (2010)
Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Directed by George Lucas:
Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Star Wars (1977)

Then I hurt my back, and decided to post monthly posts with mini-reviews, which is not so time-consuming.

Here's a summary of my favorite older films watched for the first time in 2012:

(older=before 2010)

Videodrome (1983)
Loved it, my favorite by this director so far. Could be David Cronenberg's most important, visionary, and ambitious work. A cult film that is disturbing and visually grotesque, so not for the faint of heart. Thought-provoking, not least because the film is a window into the future. Full of ideas, the film was in some ways not ready for audiences in 1983, but today is more relevant than ever. Open to multiple interpretations, Videodrome has somewhat taken on a life of its own beyond the filmmakers intentions.
Rating 8.6

Out of the Past (1947)
Loved it. A film you could watch again and again. Film noir starring Robert Mitchum. I like how unpredictable the story is. If you enjoy plenty of one-liners and snappy retorts, this is for you. The dialogue is some of the best I've heard in a while. Also, the framing of shots and lighting was very well done. (see above screenshot)
I wish I had watched it with subtitles, because there are so many great quotes, this is one of my favorites:
"Why me?" "I know a lot of smart guys, and a few honest ones, and you're both"
Rating 8.5

Last Year in Marienbad (1961)
I was concerned might be too slow and arty, I was wrong. Amazing stuff. A cryptic film from the French new wave, the line between fantasy and reality is blurred. For me, it's about a married temptress enjoying the attention of another man, she doesn't reject him entirely and plays along. I don't think anyone has definitive answers, which is why Alain Resnais' masterpiece continues to fascinate. Also, the setting is expertly portrayed by cinematographer Sacha Vierny. The dvd from is well worth getting your hands on, the extras containing interesting interpretations.
Rating 8.5

Mouchette (1967)
Directed by Robert Bresson, and nominated for the Palme d'Or. Mouchette is a sad and moving coming-of-age story of a confused, naive and lonely teenage girl. She has to take responsibility for the baby at home, her mother is sick, and her father uncaring. Mouchette wants to be loved, but struggles to find it. About alienation and quiet despair. Outstanding performance by Nadine Nortier in the lead role. The minimalistic, restricted point-of-view is comparable to the Dardenne's brothers The Kid With A Bike (2011).
Rating 8.5

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
Western. For me, Sergio Leone's masterpiece. The music score is legendary. Also remembered for the classic close up shots of eyes moving from side to side, and hand hanging down ready to grab pistol. I loved that there was no dialogue the first 10 minutes. Remarkably, the tension is maintained on a knife-edge during the whole film, one memorable scene after the other, despite a running time of three hours. Probably the best western I have seen to date. I don't know if it holds up to repeat viewing, though
Favorite quote: "If you're friends stay out in the damp, they're liable to catch a cold, aren't they, or a bullet...."
Rating 8.3

Dawn Of The Dead (1978)
Widely considered a horror classic. The special effects and action sequences were pretty good, considering the budget, though the grey makeup the zombies are wearing is at times a little too obvious.
Didn't scare me as much as I thought it would, but certainly is disturbing to see braindead zombies in a mall. A social commentary, that there is little difference between zombies, and mindless consumers wandering aimlessly from shop to shop hypnotized by mall music. Killing these mindless creatures presumably is a statement about regaining our individuality, but the irony is the normal humans are equally as mindless by wanting stuff from the shops in the mall.
Perhaps another message is, that the mindless consumer will infect you, and turn you into a mindless creature too.
Favorite quote: "You're hypnotized by this place, all of you, it's so bright and neatly wrapped, that you don't see that it's a prison too. Let's just take what we need and keep going"
Rating 8.2

On the Waterfront (1954)
Powerful drama directed by Elia Kazan. I thought I might be put off by loud-mouthed gangsters and lowlifes hanging around the rough neighborhood by the harbour. I wasn't.
Obviously the "I could have been a contender" quote is a stand-out that people remember. My other favorite moment is when Marlon Brando sits on the park swing (above) and has a conversation with Joey's sister.
Favorite quote:
"That's what makes people mean and difficult, people don't care enough about them"
Rating 8.2

A Place in The Sun (1951)
A film that stayed with me. I agree with Alex Withrow’s assessment, that George Eastman (Montgomery Clift) is a vulnerable character, drifting along, going with the flow.
However you can also blame the decision-making of naïve Shelley Winters character to a certain extent, she doesn’t think ahead either, by entering into a relationship that is frowned upon.
There’s a great quote that relates to the main character, which is not in the movie, but popped into my head while watching: “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody”
A candidate for my top 100 film list. A Place in the Sun won six Oscars, including Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Cinematography, although it lost Best Picture to An American in Paris.
Favorite quote: “I guess I loved you before I saw you”
Rating 8.2

The Gold Rush (1925)
Charlie Chaplin classic. Funny and touching. Never has the wind blowing through a door been used to such great effect. My favorite Chaplin film so far.
Rating 8.2

Repulsion (1965)
Widely considered a classic, black and white psychological-horror film recommended by Josh as part of his top 10 favorite horror films. Directed by Roman Polanski, and technically brilliant, the camera work and atmosphere of the film reminded me of The Double Life of Veronique (1991), showing personal intimacy and small details in a young woman's day-to-day life. I think you can either find this style very intense or very boring. The visual language and exaggerated sound(phone, clock, church-bells) gives us a feeling of being inside the mind of the over-sensitive protagonist.
Repulsion (1965) is from the point-of-view of fragile, introverted, confused and beautiful Carol (Catherine Deneuve in a stand-out performance).
Favorite quote: "We all have to lead our own lives in the end, you know"
Rating 8.2

Black Sunday (1960)
Features in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. Mario Bava's directorial debut, which confusingly goes by several different titles (see poster above for evidence). About a vengeful witch.
Loved it, strong for atmosphere, set pieces, and suspense.
I believed this place is haunted!
According to Wikipedia, Black Sunday was a worldwide critical and box office success, and launched the careers of director Mario Bava and movie star Barbara Steele.
Recommended, if you are a fan of Tim Burton, or Coppola’s Dracula (1992)
Rating 8.1

The Blood of a Poet (1932)
Recommended by Cherokee from Can You Dig It(formerly known as Feminising Film.)
The Blood of a Poet (1932) is the first installment of a Jean Cocteau trilogy, part of the Criterion Collection. Peculiar, experimental and poetic, The Blood of a Poet has the logic of a dream. Statues turning into people, strange events when looking through key holes, you name it.
If you are newcomer to the world of Cocteau, he was a poet, he drew, wrote, made films. Jean Cocteau: "As I've always said, that I have used films as a vehicle for poetry to show things that I cannot say"
The metaphor of a mouth coming to life on his hand was an interesting idea, but not too difficult to decipher, as the painter communicates through his brush strokes.
According to a documentary I saw, Cocteau wanted to make a film which included characters that resembled his drawings.
Favorite (absurd) quote: "By breaking statues, one risks, turning into one, oneself"
Rating 8.1

The Son (Le Fils) (2002)
Directed by The Dardenne brothers. Initially, I didn't know what to think of the protagonist teacher at the wood shop, creep? weirdo? Nerd? As we learn more, we begin to discard such notions. So I think part of the message is of letting go of prejudice.
Rating 8.1

Ace in the Hole (aka The Big Carnival) (1951)
Great performance by Kirk Douglas as an ambitious newspaper reporter in a small town, he really had some good roles back then. I haven’t seen many Billy Wilder films before, only 3-4. This one, and Some Like It Hot have encouraged me to check out a few more, Stalag 17, & The Seven Year Itch, in 2013
Favorite quotes: “I can handle big news and little news, and if there’s no news, I can go out and bite a dog”
“I’ve met a lot of hard-boiled eggs in my life, but you, you’re 20 minutes”
Rating 8.0

A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
Western. First leg of the Dollars Trilogy. Only flaw I could find was during the machine-gun shoot-out, when the guy miraculously misses all the horses.
Contrary to popular belief, the Clint Eastwood character did have a name in all three of the films, 'the man with no name' was actually a marketing concept somebody at United Artist came up with.
Favorite quote: "When a man with a 45 meets a man with a rifle, you said the man with a pistol is a dead man, let’s see if that's true. (...) Go ahead, load up and shoot"
Rating 8.0

For a Few Dollars More (1965)
Enjoyable sequel to A Fistful of Dollars (1964). The dubbing for the trilogy can be annoying to some viewers, though I think all things considered they did an admirable job with it, and it wasn't a distraction in my case.
Overall, for me, The Dollars Trilogy is deserving of the classic tag, and has got me interested in Westerns again, which I never thought would happen.
The only thing that confused me was the odd casting decision of the same actor(Gian Maria Volonté) who played the villain in For a Few Dollars More, played a different villain in A Fistful of Dollars? For a while I thought it was the same character, but looking on IMDb they have different names, Ramón Rojo, and El Indio. Perhaps it isn't so odd, because Clint Eastwood changes his name a few times during the trilogy.
Rating 8.0

It's A Gift (1934)
Comedy classic starring W. C. Fields. The couple seemed pretty old to have children, they looked more like grandparents. Very funny in a Fawlty Towers kind-of-way.
Rating 8.0

Modern Times (1936)
Classic Charlie Chaplin. Satire of the machine age. I've read it was the last film in which the beloved tramp would star, a character that first appeared in 1914. Eating corn on the cob at the automated feeding machine, carrying the roast duck in the crowd, and antics at the factory assembly line, were my favorite moments, and the biggest laughs.
The roller-skating close to the edge of floor in the store was spectacular, was that really Chaplin, or a stuntman?
Accused of being a communist was an interesting parallel to Chaplin's own life.
Rating 8.0

The Descent (2005)
Best to know as little as possible about the story going in, I avoided the trailer. Recommended by Eric from The Warning Sign. British horror film with all-female cast. If you want to follow a group of cute 20something girls while you watch your horror, give this a try.
I felt I was down there with them, and you won't feel the urge to explore caves after a viewing, I can guarantee it! Confined claustrophobic spaces give me the creeps.
For suspense and tension, The Descent is brilliant. There are moments of gore, so not for the squeamish. Definitely a horror I want to revisit, has a great twist ending.
Rating 8.0

The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920)
Considered one of the greatest horror movies of the silent era. Recommended by David at Taste of Cinema.
We are thrown into a nightmarish world in which no one is to be trusted. I had to look up somnambulist, which is another word for sleepwalking. Has a few creepy moments, but mostly it was the story and atmosphere that grabbed me.
The walls, shadows, and buildings are out of shape, and add to the surreal atmosphere. Even the acting is exaggerated.
A film I could easily rewatch. This movie is cited as having introduced the twist ending in cinema.
Rating 8.0

The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (1969)
Debut film by horror director Dario Argento, he has a unique cinematic voice, I have waited too long to discover his universe. My favorite of the Argento films I saw. You’ll never guess the twist. A suspenseful giallo film right to the end.
Rating 7.9

Songs from the second floor (2000)
Swedish black comedy. Very funny, if it appeals to your sense of humour. He takes melancholy characters and makes their circumstances absurd. You can tell Roy Andersson has experience directing commercials, many of the scenes are mini-movies. The financial crisis makes the film even more relevant today, even though it was put together well before the stock markets tumbled. Has a Kafka-esque, doomed atmosphere, which you can laugh, or cry at.
Favorite quote: "Beloved be the one who sits down"(out of context the quotation doesn't make sense)
Rating 7.8

Altered States (1980)
A smart, dazzling, and intense horror film directed by Ken Russell, starring William Hurt as a scientist obsessed with discovering mankind's true role in the universe.
A love it or hate it kind of deal, I thought it was overwhelming and captivating. The highlights of the film are a handful of stream-of-consciousness scenes, very imaginative and totally batshit crazy! The stargate sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey is the best comparison I could come up with. Also there is a segment in the zoo which is very memorable.
To me, what holds Altered States back from being a masterpiece is the familiar path of taking an experiment too far, and that's been done before.
Favorite quote: "She prefers the senseless pain we inflict on each other, to the pain we would otherwise inflict on ourselves. But I'm not afraid of solitary pain".
Rating 7.8

Career Girls (1997)
Only 83 minutes, a drama directed and written by Mike Leigh. About two university friends who reunite and how their relationship has changed, or maybe not changed. At first we wonder why they are even friends, they show it in very different ways. I think Leigh is trying to say something about friendship, can we turn a blind eye to insults and put up with a flat mate's faults, how friendship is accepting the good and the bad. We get to think about our own lives, what friends have meant to us, and do we still have contact with them. Selective memory is another theme, who do you remember from your past, and why?
Riveting performances by the two leads, who play both younger and older versions of themselves very convincingly. Also, the dialogue is very well-written, albeit fast-paced, so I'm looking at a second viewing in future.
A problem I had were the coincidences, which I found a little contrived, and made the ending slightly unrealistic.
Rating 7.8

3 Women (1977)
Recommended by Sati at Cinematic Corner, an atypical Robert Altman film with only a few characters. My first thought was, why the ominous music in a peaceful old peoples home, and why are the nurses that are being hired so young?
I had a feeling this was going to be a girly film, the title was a warning, and that turned out to be the case. The key audience are females, I still quite enjoyed it.
Especially liked the character Millie (Shelley Duvall), who talks but nobody listens, and is a classic case of wanting constant reassurance, maybe out of a feeling of inadequacy, unworthiness or lack of parental love. You empathize with her predicament, she is trying really hard (maybe too hard?), and feel sad when people laugh at Millie behind her back.
Pinky Rose (Sissy Spacek) is so naive, that she doesn't notice Millie's weaknesses. Pinky is childlike and in need of a mother figure to guide her, and calls Millie perfect...Sissy Spacek's performance was amazing when you consider her character's journey. The more I think about 3 Women, the more it grows on me. A repeat viewing is definitely going to happen.
Rating 7.8

What's Up, Doc? (1972)
A comedy directed by 70s wonderkid Peter Bogdanovich. Contains a brilliant chase sequence on the streets of San Francisco (likely inspired by 1968’s Bullitt), you should see the movie just to witness that. The hotel fire scene was extremely laugh-out-loud funny too.
My only problem was the dialogue, which was so fast I could hardly keep up, and the final scene wasn't plausible.
Wonderful performance by Barbra Streisand, she was cute back in those days. Bogdanovich sure put together some gems in the early 70s: The Last Picture Show (1971), Paper Moon (1973) and What's Up, Doc? (1972) included.
Too bad his career came off the rails and faded into obscurity after that, Mask (1985) I believe is his last hit?
Rating 7.7

Phenomena (Creepers) (1985)
Directed by Italian horror master Dario Argento. Jennifer (Jennifer Connelly) is capable of communicating with insects on an instinctive level, often while sleepwalking.
The premise of a girl arriving in a foreign country to attend a new school is a little overly familiar to Suspiria (1977), but it does have the director's trademark creepy atmosphere, suspense, and pulsating soundtrack. A minor problem I had was that the chance meeting between the insect expert (Donald Pleasence) and the lover of insects (Jennifer Connelly) was too contrived.
Seems more Americanized than his early films, I would rank it among Argento's best. For pure escapist fairy tale fantasy, it does the job, and it has aged well too.
"Valley" by Bill Wyman and Terry Taylor from the soundtrack is among my favorite pieces of score from the Argento horror films.
Rating 7.7

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
John Carpenter directed action movie. Violent, yet lots of edge-of-your-seat suspense. Considering a budget estimated at only $150,000, Assault on Precinct 13 works very well as an action movie, which is mainly due to the claustrophobic atmosphere achieved by the director. A fairly unknown cast, and the death count is high. The 2005 remake got mixed reviews.
Rating 7.7

Inferno (1980)
Horror film by director Dario Argento. I agree with reviewer Bonjour Tristesse, that the opening scenes are exceptional and very memorable. The trouble with it being a sequel to Suspiria (1977) is that the villain is not so surprising or shocking anymore. Even so, the colors, unsettling atmosphere, and suspense are top-notch. Could put you off buying a cat for good!
Excellent sequel, which without having rewatched any Dario Argento yet, I might even prefer over Suspiria(which granted I do like, and has amazing visuals, music, and atmosphere, but I think lacks story)
The only problem I had with this 1980 film was the costume of the villain in the final moments, which didn't match the quality of the special effects in the rest of the film.
Rating 7.6

Four Nights of a Dreamer (1971)
Robert Bresson directed French drama. Again based on a story by Russian author Dostoyevsky. The scenes with the eccentric painter in his flat I found dull. The lodger scenes, following women in the streets, and the heart-to-hearts by the water were memorable.
I liked Four Nights of a Dreamer equally as much as Visconti’s adaptation of the same story, Le notti bianche (1957). Both are good, and very different stylistically.
Rating 7.6

The Mother and the Whore (1973)
A French drama about aimless 20something guy visiting the local cafe, pretending to read, and going on dates, and talking a lot. The conversational dialogue held my attention and is well-written, but 3 and a half hours was too long. Sort of movie doesn't matter if you miss 10 min.
There is quite a lot of talk about sex, often when smoking cigarettes after intercourse. Surprisingly effective all things considered, especially if you enjoy dialogue.
Rating 7.6

Lonely Are the Brave (1962)
Said to be Kirk Douglas' favorite amongst his films, and most overlooked. I enjoyed watching, and does seem to deserve more widespread popularity. Kirk Douglas has been quoted saying "This is what attracted me to the story - the difficulty of being an individual today."
The police force are spending so much on so little is an ironic undertone. Story is set in 1960s America about a free-spirited cowboy (Kirk Douglas) stubbornly refusing to conform to societies rules, and nostalgic for the Old West. Is he naive, is his individuality to be admired? The poster reads: Life can never cage a man like this!
Or is his friend Paul brave for settling down, giving up his freedom, and raising a family? See it for Kirk Douglas' fine performance.
Rating 7.6

Thoughts on the list? What were your best old movie discoveries of the year?

There's a risk this article could go on and on, so here are my honorable mentions in random order: Suspiria (1977), Tenebre (1982), Deep Red (1975), Opera (1987), Kwaidan (1964), Maltese Falcon (1941), Some Like it Hot (1959), Le notti bianche (1957), Orpheus (1950), Possession (1981), Paranormal Activity (2007), Fish Tank (2009), Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986), Scenes from a marriage (1973), The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976), The Case of The Scorpion’s Tale (1971), The Black Belly of the Tarantula (1971), Vanishing Point (1971), La Strada (1954),Lilies of the Field (1963), Ruggles of Red Gap (1935), Walk The Line (2005), Rosetta (1999), The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980), Sweet and Lowdown (1999), Akira (1988), Carrie (1976), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), Sans Soleil (1983), Taken (2008), Once Upon a Time in America (1984), L'Argent (1983), Double Indemnity (1944), Witness for the Prosecution (1957),


Related Posts with Thumbnails