Oh yes, it’s that time of the year when people get they list on, and PDD shall be no different. How could I let a year pass without one listing the best things in various categories that occurred during it? It’s a list orgy! Some notes: My top 10 films of the year will be forthcoming. I still haven’t seen The Wrestler, peoples! Also, I don’t have a top albums of the year. I just don’t. Haven’t listened to that many new albums, and the ones that I did were pretty much what are going to appear on every single critic’s year-end list—TV on the Radio, Fleet Foxes, Girl Talk, Times New Viking, Dungen, Sigur Ros, etc.—so there’s no need to regurgitate it here.
Also, there may just be a secret late Christmas present hidden somewhere on this page for you loyal readers! The search is on!
TOP 10 NEW DISCOVERIES (FILM)
I’ve seen a bunch of great old flicks this year, so this list was kinda tricky. I’ve included everything I watched this year that I had never seen before.
10. Hard Times, 1975, dir. Walter Hill
09. Out of the Past, 1947, dir. Jacques Tourneur
08. Bonnie and Clyde, 1967, dir. Arthur Penn Nope, I had never seen this before!
07. The Hidden Fortress, 1958, dir. Akira Kurosawa
06. The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, 1974, dir. Joseph Sargent
05. Duck, You Sucker! aka A Fistful of Dynamite, 1973, dir. Sergio Leone OK, so I first watched this in late 2007, but I didn’t have a blog back then, did I? No, I did not! This has grown to be arguably my favorite Leone picture; it’s like a greatest hits reel of every one of the director’s tropes—the male bonding, the exaggerated violence, the goofy jubilance of his earlier films and tristesse of his later films. And there’s never been a better bad-ass duo than Coburn and Steiger as the disillusioned IRA bomber Sean and the fast-talking Mexican bandit Juan. A must-see for Western fans, ’70s action fans and fans of shit blowing up.
04. Trouble in Paradise, 1932, dir. Ernst Lubitsch Call me a young whippersnapper what’s been made daft from the idiot box if you will, but I often have trouble sitting down and watching old comedies. The jokes just don’t fulfill the need for rapid-fire pop culture references and footballs to the nuts for which my MTV-fried brain has developed an uncontrollable appetence. But Trouble in Paradise was a welcome exception to the rule. I was laughing the whole way through. They really, literally do not make comedies as well-written as this anymore.
03. Sorcerer, 1977, dir. William Friedken Four bad-ass murderers/thieves/roustabouts serendipitously wind up dead broke and dead-ended in South America, where they decide to take a suicide mission (delivering wet dynamite across through a treacherous road through rainforests and mountains) that makes a slim promises great wealth and escape from their destitute situation. And it’s directed by William Friedken and stars Roy Scheider. Do you really need anything else?
02. La Jetée (The Pier), 1962, dir. Chris Marker Folks, if you come up to me and say you just rented a black and white art flick composed almost entirely of still frames, I’d probably say “Hey! Where’s the beef?” And then I’d say, “No, I’m not going to watch that.” But for some reason, I did watch La Jetée, the bizarre, ponderous sci-fi short film that was the basis for Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys and some freaky nightmares I had after eating old Chinese food real late.
01. Walkabout, 1971, dir. Nicolas Roeg I had the good fortune of seeing a 35mm print of Walkabout after watching it for the first time on my crappy tiny TV with built-in-VCR at my parents’ house. It was a transformative experience—probably the closest I’ll ever get to taking a bunch of quaaludes and skydiving, you know, during a movie.
No, but for serious, this movie is astounding; it’s on the other end of the spectrum of the type of films that don’t get made anymore—just a bunch of skilled photographers and non-actors out in the middle of the desert with barely any script and probably more than a little extra weed. The story is dreamlike, nearly non-existent, and most of the time you’re transfixed on the nature photography; freaky lizards screeching at the feet of the wandering kids. This just got released on Blu-Ray by Criterion; see it now!
TOP 10 NEW DISCOVERIES (MUSIC)
I listen to far more dusty old records than new CDs, so this list has a bit more substance than would a best of 2008 list.
10. Betty Harris — The Lost Soul Queen (2005)
09. Ennio Morricone — Duck, You Sucker (OST) (1971)
08. Terry Reid — Superlungs: The Complete Studio Recordings (2005)
07. Lucio Battisti — Emozioni (1969)
06. Steve Earle — Guitar Town (1985)
05. Al Kooper — I Stand Alone (1968) Al Kooper’s debut album follows very much in the lush orchestral vein of the debut of his brainchild Blood, Sweat & Tears. He covers Harry Nilsson (”One”), Isaac Hayes (”Toe Hold”) and Traffic (”Coloured Rain”) and offers up some stunners of his own, including the title track and “Song and Dance for the Unborn Child”. Fans of freaky ’60s pop should track this down
04. Richard Harris — A Tramp Shining and The Yard Went on Forever, (both 1968) I’m somewhat more of a Scott Walker fan than any well-balanced person should be, so I was stoked to find yet another ’60s artist as drunk on impossibly rich string arrangements and melancholia as Walker. The songs that Jimmy Webb wrote for these two albums, both recorded in the same sessions during the Spring and Summer of 1968, are weird, varied and complex, ranging from the multi-suites of “MacArthur Park” and “The Yard Went on Forever” to the vicious “The Hive” and the lamenting “The Name of My Sorrow” and “Paper Chase”. The only CD version available is The Webb Sessions, which contains both albums.
03. Gianna Nannini — Giannabest (2007) Gianna Nannini is one of the great unsung greats of the new wave. A megastar in Italy (she was chosen to write and record the country’s theme song for the 1990 World Cup, which is kind of a big deal over there), Nannini’s a virtual unknown to American audiences. In short, her voice is as incredibly tough and expressive as Debbie Harry or Chrissie Hynde, her songs are catchy and never overwhelmed by trends, and um, well, she’s totally hot. Singles “America” and “Fotoromanza” and more could easily be classics of ’70s and ’80s radio but for the language barrier. I haven’t had much luck finding her albums, but the Giannabest hits compilation is a great overview.
02. Rodriguez — Cold Fact (1970/2008) Digging up the past has always been more interesting to me than poring over the averageness of new albums. Light in the Attic’s reissue of shadowy cult figure Rodriguez’s Cold Fact is the rediscovery of the year. Part hippie freak, part soul-man, part streetwise tough, Rodriguez was ignored in most of the world the first time ’round; only in South Africa did he sell enough copies of Cold Fact to pay for the printing. The album is a gumbo of acid rock, soul and Latin percussion, making it worthy of inclusion on my Top 5 albums to do drugs to list.
01. Serge Gainsbourg — Cannabis (OST) (1969) One of Gainsbourg’s lesser-known efforts, but certainly not so for lack of worth. I’ve scattered tracks throughout my mixtapes this year so you’ve probably gotten a taste of the album. Trippy guitar jams mingle with sparse ye-ye ballads sung by Jane Birkin. I’ve heard the movie, which stars Gainsbourg, is less than stellar, but with this soundtrack it couldn’t be all bad.
TOP 5 FILMS OF 2007
Hey, I didn’t have a blog in 2007! Time to start some extremely delayed controversy.
05. Manda Bala, dir. Jason Kohn
04. Persepolis, dir. Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi
03. Zodiac, dir. David Fincher
02. Rescue Dawn, dir. Werner Herzog
01. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, dir. Andrew Dominik
TOP 5 NEWS STORIES OF 2008
This just in!
05. Brian Wilson’s new concept album
Story from Rolling Stone.
All that’s required here is the quote:
“I’m working on a new album now,” he says later, as we get near his house. “It’s called Pleasure Island: A Rock Fantasy. It’s about some guys who took a hike, and they found a place called Pleasure Island. And they met all kinds of chicks, and they went on rides and—it’s just a concept. I haven’t developed it yet. I think people are going to love it—it could be the best thing I’ve ever done.”
Reinforcing the idea that the GOP is entirely out of touch with, well, 99 percent of everything, which certainly couldn’t have helped in a year where the tanking party pitted a crotchety septuagenarian against a young, era-defining, African-American candidate, was the barrage of idiotic attempts at edgy satire perpetrated by the party’s proxies.
First was the “Obama Bucks” faux food stamps sent out in a newsletter by the president of the Chaffrey Community Republican Women Diane Fedele in October. The food stamp featured Obama’s face next to photoshopped clips of a jug of Kool-aid, a KFC bucket, a slice of watermelon and a rack of tasty ribs.
Around the same time, columnist Bobby May, the treasurer of the Buchanan County Republican Party and McCain campaign county representative, wrote an imploringly unfunny column satirizing Obama’s platform, in which he claimed Obama would paint the White House black, replace stars on the American flag with a crescent moon and star, raise taxes so that his “inner-city political base” could buy more drugs, and divert more foreign aid to Africa so “the Obama family there can skim enough to allow them to free their goats and live the American Dream.” Yep, this guy’s a regular Lenny Bruce!
Finally, hoping to live up to the RNC’s “Repeating Every Mistake of the Past (With Gusto!)” mantra, Republican “honcho” Chip Saltsman sent out a parody CD entitled We Hate the USA (what deft and subtle hand came up with that?) to RNC members that featured a song called “Barack the Magic Negro”, which parodied the Peter, Paul & Mary song “Puff the Magic Dragon”. Yep, someone must’ve been “puffing the dragon” when they came up with that!
Look, I have no problem with pushing the envelope on racial humor and sensitivities. But context and delivery are very important. There’s a difference between some goofabouts and gadjays on the Saturday Night Show singing “Barack the Magic Negro”, but, yeah, when notoriously humorless white Republican dudes do it, there’s a floor or two of understanding that have dropped out.
03. Sarah Palin
What more need I say? I’ll just redirect you to some of my previous writings on the sassy, brassy, wolf-shootin’, darn-tootin’ Alaska governor. What a dame!
02. Creepy alien-like squid filmed at drilling site
Story from National Geographic
This is either a sign that the alien brain-spore pods have already infiltrated our atmosphere or that the new J.J. Abrams movie is gonna be hella sweet.
01. Black man given nation’s worst job
Story from The Onion
“WASHINGTON—African-American man Barack Obama, 47, was given the least-desirable job in the entire country Tuesday when he was elected president of the United States of America. In his new high-stress, low-reward position, Obama will be charged with such tasks as completely overhauling the nation’s broken-down economy, repairing the crumbling infrastructure, and generally having to please more than 300 million Americans and cater to their every whim on a daily basis. As part of his duties, the black man will have to spend four to eight years cleaning up the messes other people left behind. The job comes with such intense scrutiny and so certain a guarantee of failure that only one other person even bothered applying for it. Said scholar and activist Mark L. Denton, ‘It just goes to show you that, in this country, a black man still can’t catch a break.’”
TOP 5 ONION ARTICLES
01. Kidnapped Boy Found Safe, Imagines Kidnapped Boy
Totally, unsparingly, unqualifiably f****d.
TOP 5 FOUND PICTURES
05. Bear curses the heavens
04. Bears of all nations embrace
03. Ready to bust some balls
02. Big Bear — Doin’ Thangs album cover
01. The Chill Dog
Ah, the Chill Dog. This guy could cheer me up any day!
TOP 5 YOUTUBE VIDEOS OF 2008
Need something to watch?
05. “Le plus horrible jour de ma vie”
Because I love to see the disappointment in a child’s eyes.
04. Predator rap
03. Racist Korean chicken commercial
02. The Cosby goes Co-razay!
01. Gimme some of that man booty!
TOP 5 ALBUMS OF 2007
Because it takes me a year to get around to this shit. Yeah, I know; this list is boring.
05. Warhammer 48k — An Ethereal Oracle
04. Ghostface Killah — The Big Doe Rehab
03. LCD Soundsystem — Sounds of Silver
02. Fiery Furnaces — Widow City
01. M.I.A. — Kala
TOP 5 TOP LISTS
TOP 5 NEW CATCH-PHRASES
Expect me to be saying these all the time.
05. “I can’t belize it!”
04. “U so clazed!”
03. “Where’d the beef go at?”
02. “Just swingin’ on the flippity-flop.”
01. “For real though, where’s that beef at?”