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The Best Music of 2008

By all accounts, 2008 was a great year for music.  Below you will find our respective lists of Top 30 Albums (with favorite songs of each) and Top 10 Mixtapes of 2008, as well as our Top 30 Songs of the Year (from non-Top albums).

(with our favorite songs of each):

1. Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes.
White Winter Hymnal, Blue Ridge Mountains, Ragged Wood
2. Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago.
The Wolves (Act I and II), Skinny Love, Lump Sum
3. My Morning Jacket, Evil Urges.
Highly Suspicious, Evil Urges, Smokin’ From Shootin’
4. Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III.
A Milli, Dr. Carter, Tie My Hands
5. TV On The Radio, Dear Science.
DLZ, Golden Age, Crying
6. The Hold Steady, Stay Positive.
Slapped Actress, Sequestered In Memphis, Constructive Summer
7. Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend.
I Stand Corrected, The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance, A-Punk
8. Blitzen Trapper, Furr.
Furr, Gold For Bread, Balled of Bird Love
9. Atmosphere, When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold.
You, The Waitress, Your Glass House
10. MGMT, Oracular Spectacular.
Electric Feel, Of Moons, Birds & Monsters, Time to Pretend
11. Tokyo Police Club, Elephant Shell.
In A Cave, Juno, Tessellate
12. Girl Talk, Feed The Animals.
Play Your Part (Pt. 1), Set It Off, Still Here
13. Cut Copy, In Ghost Colours.
Feel The Love, Lights & Music, Hearts on Fire
14. Beck, Modern Guilt.
Chemtrails, Modern Guilt, Walls
15. Q-Tip, The Renaissance.
Getting Up, Dance on Glass, We Fight/We Love
16. War on Drugs, Wagonwheel Blues.
Arms Like Boulders, Taking The Farm, Show Me The Coast
17. The Cool Kids, The Bake Sale.
What Up Man, Black Mags, A Little Bit Cooler
18. Cloud Cult, Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes).
No One Said It Would Be Easy, When Water Comes To Life, Grandson of Jesus
19. Neon Neon, Stainless Style.
I Told Her on Alderaan, Dream Cars, Raquel
20. Hercules and Love Affair, Hercules and Love Affair.
Blind, Hercules’ Theme, Time Will
21. Nada Surf, Lucky.
Weightless, I Like What You Say, The Film Did Not Go Round
22. Wolf Parade, At Mt. Zoomer.
Language City, Soldier’s Grin, Fine Young Cannibals
23. N.E.R.D, Seeing Sounds.
Everyone Nose, Sooner or Later, Spaz
24. Big Ditch Road, The Jackson Whites.
All The Way to Idaho, The Jackson Whites, Northwoods Report/Chomsky ’08
25. Elbow, The Seldom Seen Kid.
Grounds For Divorce, Mirrorball, One Day Like This
26. M83, Saturdays=Youth.
Kim & Jessie, Graveyard Girl, We Own The Sky
27. Sigur Ros, Med sud I eyrum vid spilum endalaust.
Gobbledigook, Festival, Vid spilum endalaust
28. Murs, Murs for President.
Everything, The Science, Can It Be
29. T.I., Paper Trails.
Swagga Like Us (feat. Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Kanye West), No Matter What, Live Your Life
30. The Heavy, Great Vengeance and Furious Fire.
That Kind of Man, Colleen, Brukpocket’s Lament

Honorable Mentions:
Department of Eagles, In Ear Park; Frightened Rabbit, Midnight Organ Fight; Drive-By Truckers, Brighter Than Creations Dark; Santogold, Santogold; Foals, Antidotes; Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Dig!!! Lazarus, Dig!!!; The Championship, Midnight Golden; Erykah Badu, New Amerykah Part One (4th World War); The Roots, Rising Down; No Age, Nouns.

Top 10 Mixtapes of 2008:
1. Wale, The Mixtape About Nothing
2. Santogold/Diplo, Top Ranking
3. Clipse, Road to Till The Casket Drops
4. Charles Hamilton & DJ Green Lantern, Outside Looking
5. Jay-Z & Coldplay (Mick Boogie), Viva La Hova
6. The Cool Kids, That’s Stupid The Mixtape
7. Talib Kweli & Mick Boogie, The MCEO Mixtape
8. DJ Benzi, The New Deal (if only for Brother Ali’s verse – the best verse of the year by the way – on “2nd Time Around”)
9. Lil Wayne & DJ Drama, Dedication 3
10. Rhymefest & Mark Ronson, Man in the Mirror

1. Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes.
White Winter Hymnal, Blue Ridge Mountains, Meadowlarks
2. Cut Copy, In Ghost Colours.
Unforgettable Season, Far Away, Out There On The Ice
3. Tokyo Police Club, Elephant Shell.
Juno, Centennial, Tessellate
4. Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago.
Creature Fear, Skinny Love, Re: Stacks
5 (tie). Atmosphere, When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold.
You, Yesterday, Puppets
5 (tie). Q-Tip, The Renaissance.
We Fight/We Love, Gettin’ Up, Move
7. My Morning Jacket, Evil Urges.
Evil Urges, Smokin From Shootin’, Touch Me I’m Going to Scream pt. 1
8. TV On The Radio, Dear Science.
Family Tree, Crying, Halfway Home
9. Beck, Modern Guilt.
Youthless, Gamma Ray, Chemtrails
10. Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III.
Let The Beat Build, A Milli, 3-Peat
11. Foreign Exchange, Leave It All Behind.
All or Nothing, Daykeeper, Valediction
12. Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend.
Walcott, The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance, A-Punk
13. Hercules and Love Affair, Hercules and Love Affair.
Blind, Hercules’ Theme, Iris
14. Delta Spirit, Ode to Sunshine.
People C’mon, Children, Strange Vine
15. MGMT, Oracular Spectacular.
Electric Feel, Youth, Time to Pretend
16. Grand Archives, The Grand Archives.
Torn Blue Foam Couch, George Kaminski, Sleepdriving
17. Girl Talk, Feed The Animals.
Play Your Part pt. 1 has all my favorite snippets, Still Here rules, and Set If Off has the Jay-Z/Radiohead mash-up
18. Murs, Murs for President.
The Science, Everything, I’m Innocent
19. The Championship, Midnight Golden.
Mightnight Gold, Gladstone, Ferris Wheel
20. Kings of Leon, Only By The Night.
Use Somebody, Crawl, Be Somebody
21. Nicolay & Kay, Time:Line.
As The Wheel Turns, Through the Wind, Gunshot
22. Neon Neon, Stainless Style.
I Told Her on Alderaan, Raquel, Belfast
23. M83, Saturdays=Youth.
Kim & Jessie, You Appearing, Up!
24. Nada Surf, Lucky.
Weightless, See These Bones, Beautiful Beat
25. The Ting Tings, We Started Nothing.
Great DJ, That’s Not My Name, Traffic Light
26. Nas, Ni**er (Untitled).
Hero, Queens Get the Money, Can’t Stop Us Now
27. Kanye West, 808s and Heartbreak.
Paranoid, Love Lockdown, Street Lights
28. The Heavy, Great Vengeance and Furious Fire.
Colleen, That Kind of Man, Brukpocket’s Lament
29. Raphael Saadiq, The Way I See It.
100 Yard Dash, Oh Girl, Big Easy
30. Wolf Parade, At Mount Zoomer.
The Grey Estates, Langauge City, Soldier’s Grin

DJ Bumbaclot:
1. TV On The Radio, Dear Science.
Golden Age, Halfway Home, DLZ, Family Tree, Love Dog
2. Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago.
Skinny Love, Flume, Re: Stacks
3. Portishead, Third.
The Rip, Machine Gun, We Carry On
4. Cut Copy, In Ghost Colours.
Out There On The Ice, Far Away, Hearts On Fire, Feel The Love
5. Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes.
White Winter Hymnal, Ragged Wood, Your Protector
6. Q-Tip, The Renaissance.
We Fight/We Love, Dance on Glass, Life Is Better
7. Girl Talk, Feed The Animals.
8. Longwave, Secrets Are Sinister.
The Devil and The Liar, It’s True, Eyes Like Headlights, No Direction
9. Neon Neon, Stainless Style.
Raquel, I Told Her On Alderaan, Dream Cars
10. The Kills, Midnight Boom.
Black Balloon, U.R.A Fever, Getting Down
11. M83, Saturdays=Youth.
Graveyard Girl, Kim & Jessie, We Own The Sky
12. Hercules and Love Affair, Hercules and Love Affair.
Blind, You Belong, Hercules’ Theme, Iris
13. Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III.
A Milli, Let The Beat Build, Dr. Carter
14. The Black Keys, Attack & Release.
Things Ain’t Like They Used to Be, All I Ever Wanted, Strange Times
15. Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend.
I Stand Corrected, A-Punk, Walcott
16. Department of Eagles, In Ear Park.
No One Does It Like You, In Ear Park, Teenagers
17. Foreign Exchange, Leave It All Behind.
Take Off The Blues, All Or Nothing/Coming Home To You, Something To Behold
18. MGMT, Oracular Spectacular.
Kids, Time to Pretend, 4th Dimensional Transition
19. Flying Lotus, Los Angeles.
20. Atmosphere, When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold.
Puppets, You, Me, Yesterday
21. War on Drugs, Wagonwheel Blues.
There Is No Urgency, A Needle In Your Eye #16, Barrel of Batteries
22. Spiritualized, Songs in A&E.
Sweet Talk, Death Take Your Fiddle, Baby I’m Just A Fool
23. Death Cab for Cutie, Narrow Stairs.
I Will Possess Your Heart, Long Division, The Ice Is Getting Thinner
24. Beck, Modern Guilt.
Gamma Ray, Chemtrails, Profanity Prayers
25. Delta Spirit, Ode to Sunshine.
People Turn Around, Trashcan, Ode to Sunshine
26. NIN, The Slip.
Echoplex, The Four of Us are Dying, Demon Seed
27. The Heavy, Great Vengeance and Furious Fire.
Dignity, Brukpocket’s Lament, Set Me Free
28. Tokyo Police Club, Elephant Shell.
In A Cave, Tessellate, Centennial
29. The Cool Kids, The Bake EP.
Mikey Rocks, What Up Man, Bassment Party
30. Fucked Up, The Chemistry of Common Life.
Son The Father, Golden Seal, The Chemistry of Common People

Honorable Mentions: Cat Power, Jukebox; Coldplay, Viva La Vida/ Prospekt’s March EP; Elbow, The Seldom Seen Kid; Elzhi, The Preface; Foals, Antidotes; Joan as Police Woman, To Survive; Jenny Lewis, Acid Tongue; Kings of Leon, Only By The Night; Murs, Murs for President; Nas, Ni**er; The Roots, Rising Down; Raphael Saadiq, The Way I See It; Ryan Adams, Cardinology; Santogold, Santogold; She & Him, Vol. 1.

Worst Album of the Year: The Walkmen, You & Me.

Top 10 Mix/tapes of 2008:
1. Wale, The Mixtape About Nothing
2. KiD CuDi, Plain Pat & Emile present A KiD Named CuDi
3. Clipse, Road To Till The Casket Drops
4. Nas & DJ Green Lantern, The Ni**er Mixtape
5. Squincy Jones, Nintendub
6. DJ Z-Trip, Obama Mix
7. Jay-Z & Coldplay (Mick Boogie), Viva La Hova
8. Justice, Fabric Rejected DJ Mix
9. Santogold/Diplo, Top Ranking
10. Cut Copy, So Cosmic Mix

TOP 30 SONGS OF 2008
(from non-Top Albums):

1. Fleet Foxes – Mykonos
2. These New Puritans – Elvis
3. Big Boi feat. Mary J. Blige – Sumthin’s Gotta Give
4. David Byrne & Brian Eno – Strange Overtones
5. Kid Dakota – Stars
6. King Khan and The Shrines – Land of the Freak
7. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Dig!!! Lazarus, Dig!!!
8. Beyonce – Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)
9. Department of Eagles – No One Does It Better
10. Alejandro Escoveda – Always A Friend
11. Hot Chip – Made In The Dark
12. The Roots – Rising Down
13. Grand Archives – Sleepdriving
14. Santogold – Lights Out
15. Portishead – Machine Gun
16. The Cool Kids – Delivery Man (9th Wonder Remix)
17. Of Montreal – Id Engager
18. The Championship – Ferris Wheel
19. Kate Nash – Foundations
20. Lykke Li – Little Bit
21. No Age – Sleeper Hold
22. Kings of Leon – Be Somebody
23. Okkervil River – Lost Coastlines
24. Drive-By Truckers – A Ghost to Most
25. Jenny Lewis & Elvis Costello – Carpetbaggers
26. Foals – Balloons
27. Solid Gold – Get Over It
28. Mike Doughty – Put It Down
29. Titus Andronicus – Upon Viewing Brueghel’s ‘Landscape With the Fall of Icarus’
30. Connor Oberst – Sausalito

1. Elbow – Mirrorball
2. Fleet Foxes – Mykonos
3. Santgold – Lights Out
4. Blitzen Trapper – Furr
5. Wild Beast – Devil Crayon
6. Beyonce – Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)
7. Weezer – Pork n Beans
8. Ray Lamontagne – You Are The Best Thing
9. The Cool Kids – What Up Man
10. The Alarmists – You’re Right
11. The Hold Steady – Constructive Summer
12. Usher feat. Young Jeezy – Love in This Club
13. Hot Chip – Ready for the Floor
14. The Roots – Rising Down
15. Alejandro Escovedo – Always a Friend
16. Coldplay – Strawberry Swing
17. Sigur Ros – Gobbledigook
18. She & Him – This is Not a Test
19. Estelle feat. Kanye West – American Boy
20. Moby – I Love to Move in Here

DJ Bumbaclot:
1. Blitzen Trapper – Furr
2. Wale – The Kramer
3. Elbow – The Bones of You
4. Kings of Leon – Closer
5. Estelle feat. Kanye West – American Boy
6. The National – Blank Slate (off The Virginia EP)
7. Foals – Red Sox Fugie
8. Kanye West – Love Lockdown (also the MB/Rob Mix, the LMFAO Remix, and the DJ Earworm remix)
9. KiD CuDi – Day N Nite (also the Crookers Remix)
10. Cat Power – Song To Bobby
11. Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongue
12. Raphael Saadiq – Sure Hope You Mean It
13. The Raveonettes – Aly, Walk With Me
14. Nas – Sly Fox
15. Nicolay & Kay – As The World Turns
16. No Age – Eraser
17. The Brighton Port Authority feat. David Byrne & Dizzee Rascal – Toe Jam
18. Copeland – Good Morning Fire Eater
19. The Cool Kids – Unos
20. Gnarls Barkley – Who’s Gonna Save My Soul
21. She & Him – Sentimental Heart
22. Hercules and Love Affair – Classique #2
23. Hot Chip – Ready For The Floor
24. N*E*R*D – Spaz
25. Santogold – Unstoppable
26. Japanese Motors – Single Fins & Safety Pins
27. The Knux – Cappuccino
28. My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges
29. Brendan Canning – Churches Under The Stairs
30. Solid Gold – Who You Gonna Run To?


From the Bad Guy Hide Out: Best Movies of 2007

2007 has been one of the strongest years in recent memory for film. Even though there were significant snubs by our friendos at the Academy, it seems like they did a great job for once at selecting the Best Picture nominees. As you can see in our year in review, all five make in an appearance in our top ten.

(Note to the Academy: It was bogus to leave Brad Renfro out of the In Memoriam tribute montage. “It was really an editing decision because we can’t fit everyone in” doesn’t cut it when you have random agents popping up who no one has ever heard of.)

To compose our Best Of, we shared our top twenty movies with one another, and combined them into a collective list based on our individual rankings. This felt like the fairest way to do this, even though some were bumped forward, back and even out of our individual lists.

So get out the milkshakes, strum those Irish guitars, and read on through our expert opinions–do we look like we’re NEGOTIATING??

1. No Country for Old Men. I sat front row at The Grove on opening weekend in L.A. and can say I submitted to the undeniable power of No Country for Old Men. This film truly is a masterpiece in the way it grips you from the get-go and doesn’t relent; the tension it creates in so many ways; the unconventional yet awesome ending; and horror personified in Anton Chigurh, played by Javier Bardem. His Oscar for Supporting Actor is rightfully deserved. Mr. Bardem plays a man menacing on par with Darth Vader and Hannibal Lecter, and he will go down in history for this role of sheer, calculating evil. “What business is it of yours where I’m from, friendo?” and the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. The ensemble cast (Bardem, Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones, Kelly Macdonald, and Woody Harrelson) was spot-on. 2007 belonged to No Country for Old Men, and in this regard, it belonged to the Coen brothers, rightfully claiming the creative “trifecta” with Best Picture, Director and Adapted Screenplay Oscars. (AV)

2. There Will Be Blood. Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis have created the ultimate dichotomy: a film that both Brooklyn hipsters and Texas tycoons will love. (Anyone else find it ironic that Plainview’s son was named H.W.?) What There Will Be Blood lacks in Hollywood glamor, it makes up for in unrelenting ambition. DD-L gives one of the best performances this century as Daniel Plainview, an oil man full of greed, hate, and competition, an haunting portrait of the rise to power in America. From the opening sequence without a word spoken for nearly eighteen minutes, to the culminating finale, it is an epic masterpiece. Frequent PTA collaborater Robert Elswit’s photography is cinematic beauty, and Jonny Greenwood’s eerie and looming score perfectly captures the madness unfolding. With this film, Mr. Anderson emerges as a true auteur and cements himself as one of the best directors of his generation, following a career including Boogie Nights, Magnolia and Punch-Drunk Love. I can’t wait to see what he does next. (AV)

3. Once. In a year of Anton Chigurhs and Daniel Plainviews and rejuvenated John McClaines (awesome!) along comes Once, a small indie musical out of Dublin. Simply put, Once is the sweetest movie I have ever seen. Penned and directed by newcomer John Carney, Once follows a street musician played by Glen Hansard of Irish band the Frames as he is coerced into giving the music thing a real shot by beautiful girl-next-door Marketa Iraglova. Their relationship starts by her approaching him on the street, and, deducing that he is a vacuum repairman, brings her broken unit to him the following morning. After walking the vacuum around like a disobedient collie, they make a stop in a local music instrument store–and the movie magic officially begins. Hansard starts strumming the guitar and humming, Iraglova sits at the piano, and they write “Falling Slowly”–piece by aching piece, harmony for harmony, a seamless puzzle. Gradually throughout the movie, Iraglova lets him into her life; her child from a separated marriage, her mother, her Czech buddies that come over to watch TV. But she’s guarded, and he’s screwed up from the woman who left him and moved to London (the hilarious song “Broken-Hearted Hoover Vacuum Sucker Fixer Guy” tells this story). As they write and record together, he gets confidence–but is it enough to make him leave for London to chase his career and his ex? This movie speaks the “Once” rhetoric to all of us–the “I’ll do this once I have more time, once I get done with this stage of my life,” mentality. Inspirational, simple, and a perfect length in the era of bloated movies–Once will make you want to drop everything and take that chance. (BM)

4. Juno. Ah, the indie movie that could… I’ve heard people criticize the hipster-speak of the script as if it is the new Ebonics, but get over it. Much of Juno‘s charm is the off-beat and quirky dialogue, most of which spews from the mouth of Ellen Page, a star in the making. Following her dark turn in Hard Candy, she delivers Juno MacGuff with warmth and insecurity. Juno is full of career highlights: Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman as the adopting parents; J.K. Simmons as Juno’s father; Jason Reitman, 30, getting a Best Director nod, fresh off of his last picture, Thank You for Smoking; and Diablo Cody’s wonderful script, as she now reluctantly accepts her place as the ‘It Girl’. Enough has been said about her background, so get over that too. This film is touching, funny, instantly likeable, and the finale is magical. Honest to blog. (AV)

5. Eastern Promises. So, a guy walks into a sauna…If Snatch, The Sopranos and Rocky IV have taught us anything, it’s to never f with the Russians. Eastern Promises drives this point home as it takes us into an unfamiliar world of Russian organized crime in London. Viggo Mortensen’s Nikolai is a henchman for an extremely powerful and dangerous sect of the Russian mafia; he takes direct orders from drunk, hotheaded, son of the boss Kirill, played exceptionally well by Vincent Cassell. All is well in little Moscow until Naomi Watts, a midwife, wanders in with questions about a young teenage girl who dies during birth–and just so happens to have card from the restaurant that Nikolai’s boss owns. Nikolai does his damndest to stay out of it until he learns the truth about the situation and investigates further, leading to tensions between he and Kirill. As his desire to help the lovely Ms. Watts grows, his duties in the vory v zakove (‘thieves in law’) become increasingly more dangerous and violent. Director David Cronenberg has never been one to avoid full-on blood, and this movie is no exception, with lingering kills and of course, the now infamous bath house scene. It’s well-acted, well-structured and full of bloody surprises. (BM)

6. Gone Baby Gone. Those who have talked with me intimately about the novel/screenplay I have been working on will know that, even in the early development stages, I pictured Casey Affleck in the role of my lead detective. So you can imagine my excitement when I found out he would play a P.I. in his older brother’s adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s (Mystic River) gritty crime thriller. Ben and Casey have been our resident working-class Boston experts before, so it was no surprise that they nailed all of its nuances from the lingo to the accent to the dress code. Casey Affleck stars as Patrick Kenzie, who, with partner/girlfriend Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan), take on the case of a missing neighborhood girl. The girl’s degenerate, aloof, coke-snorting mother has helped turn it into a citywide deal through public cries for help and dramatics (played by supporting actress shoo-in Amy Ryan, so convincing as a Boston local she was not let on set at one point). Their search takes them deep into the darkest parts of the city, where bar fights are an hourly occurrence and even the police (The Departed, anyone?), headed up by a fantastic Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman, have questionable motives. Looking for the missing girl takes its toll on Kenzie and Gennaro as they make tough choices and deal with crises of conscience throughout leads, red herrings, twists, and a shockingly poignant ending. Congratulations, Casey–you nailed the audition. (BM)

7. Michael Clayton. Damn you Michael Clayton–you’re so COMPELLING! Clooney’s Clayton is dubbed a “fixer”, a “janitor” and a “miracle worker” for a high powered NYC firm, basically a man who puts out fires quickly and privately. When Arthur Eden, played by the always-skillful Tom Wilkinson, gets buck naked in a Milwaukee deposition and runs through a parking lot, it’s Clayton’s job to bail him out and talk enough sense in him to bring him home. Since this, of course does not go according to the plan, Clooney’s distinguished gentleman goes commando on all our asses. He starts doing things his own way and in the process, uncovers some buried information on the company Arthur Edens is prosecuting lawsuits for. Tilda Swinton plays the company president, bent on suppressing as much from getting out as possible. It’s a fantastic intellectual thriller and first directing effort for Tony Gilroy, writer of the Bourne trilogy screenplays. All the Clooney cynics who argue that he’s played the same character since Danny Ocean may have a little validity here, but his range of emotion and overall bad-assedness has never been stronger. (BM)

8. Knocked Up. The pee-your-pants funny movie of 2007. The wit of Knocked Up is so sharp that I missed jokes upon first viewing, because I was laughing so hard at previous jokes. The script digs into real-life shit (knocking-up a one-night stand, becoming a father, marriage) and makes you laugh even as you realize the emotional weight behind it. The ensemble of this cast is rather large, but many minor characters steal scenes, including Ryan Seacrest, Kristin Wiig, and the Apatow daughters. Mr. Apatow’s comedic troupe, some dating back to Freaks and Geeks–Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, and Martin Starr–are hysterical, and Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann are both brilliant. By delivering Knocked Up and producing Superbad this year, Judd Apatow has positioned himself as a powerhouse in comedy. It’s about time. (AV)

9. The Darjeeling Ltd. Wes Anderson has become the very definition of a modern-day auteur. His broken family dramedies–with their shot symmetry, bright colors, Owen Wilson/Bill Murray/Angelica Huston use, ballad music and quirky dialogue–are instantly recognizable. This was the very reason I wasn’t quick to see it, that it was just another Wes Anderson film. Coming into the theater with those expectations, I left with a shit-eating grin. The Darjeeling Ltd. follows three separated brothers played convincingly by Wilson, Jason Schwartzmann, and Adrian Brody, as they travel in a train across India. Wilson’s character has a hidden agenda-to track down their estranged mother, played by Huston. Along the way, they fight, argue, remember their deceased father, take lots of cough syrup, negotiate countless pacts, deceive one another, screw attractive train attendants (Schwartzmann) talk women, and and smoke (a hilarious, vintage Anderson set-up shows a male train attendant enter their cabin and point to a “no smoking” sign as the camera pans to reveal all three lighting up). As Owen Wilson plans their itinerary with help of a laminator and a paid assistant, he works his way into Brody and Schwartzmann’s good graces after being out of their lives for the past year. They become brothers again, culminating in a strange reunion and moving scene in which they recount a past incident that left them all devastated and helped to shape them. (BM)

10. Atonement. This film is an epic tale of how different points-of-view of certain actions can spin out of control and change the course of many lives, including two lovers. Briony Tallis, a13 year-old aspiring writer, sees her older sister Cecelia (Keira Knightley) and her lover Robbie (James McAvoy) intimately and lies, accusing him of a crime he did not commit. Her lie snowballs, and the story follows her at ages 13, 18 (working as a nurse during the war) and in her late seventies, as the consequences of her lie unfold. There is a stunning five-and-a-half minute continuous shot of Robbie walking through Dunkirk as British troops await evacuation from France, helping give Seamus McGarvey an Oscar nod for Best Cinematography. (AV)



GrindHustle’s Top 20:
1. Eastern Promises
2. No Country for Old Men
3. Gone Baby Gone
4. Black Snake Moan
5. The Darjeeling Ltd.
6. Superbad
7. There Will Be Blood
8. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
9. Once
10. Juno
11. Into the Wild
12. Knocked Up
13. Breach
14. King of California
15. Persepolis
16. I Am Legend
17. Ratatouille
18. Hot Fuzz
19. The Wind That Shakes The Barley
20. The Namesake

Extra Props To: Atonement, The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, I’m Not There, In The Valley of Elah, The King of Kong, Michael Clayton, Sweeney Todd

Thumbs Down For: Lars and The Real Girl, Waitress, Shoot ‘Em Up, 3:10 To Yuma

Heezwax’s Top 20:

1. Once
2. No Country for Old Men
3. There Will Be Blood
4. Gone Baby Gone
Into the Wild. Christopher McCandless, a graduate of Emory University in Atlanta, embarks on a cross-country trip with no money, his only intention being to eventually make it to Alaska to survive in the wilderness. The movie jumps between his life in an abandoned Alaskan van and vignettes from his journeys and encounters that brought him there. Emile Hirsch’s McCandless is a little too hopeful about his chances, but this is what gives him most of his charm. Stops along the way include working on a farm with the incomparable Vince Vaughn, crashing at a hippie commune with Catherine Keener and boyfriend Brian Dierker, and living under the roof of the kind-hearted Hal Holbrook, who despite his small role, turns out a great enough performance to warrant a nod. The screenplay is based on the book that Jon Krakauer compiled through McCandless’s correspondence and interviews with the real-life versions of our story’s characters, and it is does an outstanding job of capturing McCandless for what he was: A true-to-life, albeit a bit naive, free American spirit.
6. Michael Clayton
7. Juno
8. Eastern Promises
9. Knocked Up / Superbad
10. American Gangster
11. The Darjeeling Ltd.
12. Atonement
13. Breach
14. Grindhouse
15. The King of Kong
16. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
17. Paris, Je’Taime
18. The Namesake
19. Reign Over Me
20. The Lookout

Honorable Mentions: Talk to Me, Zodiac, Driving Lessons

Peter McVeeder’s Top 20:

1. No Country for Old Men
2. There Will Be Blood
3. Once
4. In The Valley of Elah.
In a year that brought out a lot of unrest about Iraq, it seems interesting that almost every film released in 2007 about the subject bombed at the box office. To its credit, In the Valley of Elah is one of the most underrated movies of the year. Tommy Lee Jones gives perhaps the best performance of his career as a former military policeman and father on a quest to find out who killed his son, recently back from a tour in Iraq. In Paul Haggis’ first film since Crash, he delivers a subtly powerful anti-war film that hooks you in and gets under your skin.
5. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
A visual, emotional journey based on the true story of French Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby who suffered a massive stroke, paralyzing his entire body except for his left eye. The realization that he is trapped inside his body is daunting and overwhelming, but with the help of therapists who devise a way to communicate through blinking and the love from his family, he learns to overcome the tragedy to appreciate his life — “I decided to stop pitying myself. Other than my eye, two things aren’t paralyzed: my imagination and my memory.” The photography is this film is striking with many of Jean-Do’s POVs incorporated, beautifully capturing his frozen state and dream-like memories. You won’t stop thinking about it.
6. Juno
7. Eastern Promises
8. Michael Clayton
9. Knocked Up
10. The Darjeeling Ltd.
11. Atonement
12. Gone Baby Gone
13. Superbad
14. The Bourne Ultimatum. The best of the three, in a trilogy that only got better. It is not only a bad-ass action flick, it’s a great movie, to boot.
15. Zodiac
16. No End in Sight / Sicko
17. Breach
18. Across the Universe
19. Sunshine
20. The TV Set. A dry and funny satire about writer Mike Klein (David Duchovny) fighting for his vision of a TV pilot, while the network tries to undermine him on casting, production, and everything else. Sigourny Weaver is great as the network president, as is Judy Greer playing Klein’s manager.

Honorable Mentions: 28 Weeks Later, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, I Am Legend, King of California, Live Free or Die Hard, Starting Out in the Evening

Would Love To/Have Yet To See: Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead, Charlie Wilson’s War, Control, I’m Not There, Into the Wild, La Vie en Rose, Persepolis, The Southland Tales, Sweeney Todd

ThatJacy’s Top 10:

1. There Will Be Blood. From the creepy ass opening shot to the last scene (one of the best scenes in the history of films, I’d say) I couldn’t take my eyes off this movie, mostly due to Daniel Day Lewis’ phenomenal acting. A breath of fresh air after watching a years worth of no-talent Hollywood hacktors. (See: casts of Epic Movie, Norbit, Fred Claus, Josh Hartnett…)
2. No Country for Old Men. Prediction: Top Halloween costume of 2008 will be Anton Chigurh.
3. A Mighty Heart. Most underrated movie of the year. I challenge you to watch Juno and A Mighty Heart back to back and tell me that Angelina did not get robbed of a best actress nomination. Do it. Now.
4. The Darjeeling Ltd. I’m white. Wes Anderson movies never get old.
5. Zodiac. The most entertaining thriller since what’s his name was trying to find out who murdered his wife.
6. Juno. If I would have gotten up to get popcorn, been stuck in traffic, in the bathroom and missed the first 20 minutes of the movie, it would probably be bumped up a couple of notches. But alas, I had to sit through the opening scenes of overwritten, forced dialogue and so it’s six. It’s also six because despite our first impression, it was an original-ish, heartfelt, well-written, well-cast film. And snaps for Diablo Cody for both becoming a name as a writer and for creating strong female characters. Hollywood needs more of them. (Yes, that was my wah to overlooked writers, girl power, feminist plug right there. Suck it.)
7. Eastern Promises. Naked man-fighting? Sold.
8. 3:10 to Yuma. So, okay. Maybe it wasn’t the best film ever, but Christian Bale’s performance was outstanding. Far be it for me to say anything more about this movie when I haven’t even seen the original.
9. Ratatatoullie. Cooking rats? Yes, please. It was funny, charming, and beat out that other shitty culinary movie of 2007…
10. Gone Baby Gone. The only thing I like more than Casey Affleck’s voice is people trying to do an impression of Casey Affleck’s voice. And the only thing I would have liked more about Gone Baby Gone is if I truly didn’t think the movie was over after 25 minutes, gotten up, screamed about how “this is a terrible movie!” and realized that I still had an hour and a half to go. It was embarrassing. Lucky for me I stuck around to get some obligatory words of wisdom from Morgan Freeman, noticed that even if you’re in a movie for <20 minutes you can still get a best supporting actress nomination, and saw a brilliant ending that lead to heated discourse about morality.

Honorable Mentions:
The American Pie of 2007 if American Pie was actually funny, heartfelt, funny, well-written, well-cast, funny, unpredictable, funny…
DeathProof. See aforementioned ‘girl power rant’ and membership card.

men with ponytails–a history of taking things seriously

Driving on my lunch break recently, I allowed an opening so that a man could turn onto one of the many alleyways in the twin cities. He gave a very pronounced nod and wave at me as he executed a flawless left turn and made his way. I noticed a beret-style hat over a brown ponytail once his profile was visible. I noticed something else, this in his eyes, deep within his soul: This man lives a serious life.
I pictured the rest of his day unfolding: A frappucino purchase at a nearby Caribou Coffee, perhaps accompanied by a Naked brand juice with guarana and echineacea root. An office meeting with new age favorites blaring from a boombox as colleagues surround a table sitting on ergonomic rubber balls. A perusing through The Economist as steak cutlets are tossed in cooking sherry. And if all goes according to plan-a viewing of “Hardball” with Chris Matthews before an 11:05 bedtime.
All of this thinking prompted me to ask myself: Do all men with ponytails act this seriously? I decided to recall some of my favorite “tailed” men throughout history, factual and fictional, to see if it all added up.

Samurais, 8th-18th Century Japan

The ponytail existed as a way of life for these military servicemen. Codes of excellence that defined them included martial prowess, high standards of conduct, selfless heroism and death before dishonor. In perhaps the most tragic of The Last Samurai’s scenes, Katsumoto’s son was pinned down while his long, proud ponytail was cut off. Serious.

Mario Batali, Chef, The Food Network

This redheaded cooking supremacist hosts the popular Molto Mario program, which serves as a culinary tour through Italy. “Perfectly pristine ingredients, combined sensibly and cooked properly, are the hallmarks of the best Italian food,” he says. Damn.

Alexander Hamilton, United States Secretary of Treasury, 1789-1795

This ponytail-rocking founding father helped the US “get its finance on” during the opening years of the nation. He was an advocate of strong national government, and kept his views despite making enemies with those who believed in strong state legislatures. And most serious of all? He died in a vicious gun duel with angry presidential candidate Aaron Burr in 1804. Serious business.

Steven Seagal, Actor, Musician and Healer

There is no ponytail I fear more than that of Steven Seagal’s. An acting resume that includes Above the Law, Hard to Kill, Under Siege, The Glimmer Man and Today You Die. A guitar hero who has rocked blues guitar with the likes of B.B. King. Bo Diddly and says “Music is the language of Gods that can bring all people together and, for this reason, music is an important part of my life.” A seventh-degree black belt who was the first Westerner to open an Aikido dojo in Japan. A zen healer. No need here to call into question Steven Seagal’s seriousness.

Roberto Baggio, David Seaman, Joakim Noah, Rafael Nadal–Athletes

These athletes share a passion for the game unmatched by those with close-cropped haircuts. Roberto Baggio, 1993’s FIFA soccer player of the year, played in 16 world cup matches with Italy. David Seaman, goaltender for UK’s Arsenal, blocked many a soccer ball on the way to many championships. Spain’s Rafael Nadal is rarely defeated in clay court tennis matches. And Joakim Noah, once a clown for Florida basketball, has taken a more serious tone in the NBA, arguing his way into suspensions for the Chicago Bulls. You will be hard-pressed to find athletes with ponytails who half-step in their respective areas.

Fictional Men with Ponytails who Take Themselves Seriously

Furio Giunta, The Sopranos

Guy with deadly life-ending virus, 12 Monkeys

The Patriot as portrayed by Mel Gibson, The Patriot

Who are some of your favorite men with ponytails? I must know!

our future baby mammas

Because my position as after school coordinator takes place…after school…I work other school-related positions to make an eight-hour day. One of those positions is riding the special education bus for roughly 45 mins as a support for an epileptic kindergarten student named Abdullahi. It’s not as eventful as you might think; his epilepsy is more like narcolepsy.

I digress. I was feeding Abdullahi an orange when a sweet-as-sugar slow jam came on the radio, tuned by bus driver Dawn to 89.9 KMOJ, The People’s Station. Without these bus rides, I often ask myself, how would I get my daily jolts from the likes of crooners such as Ginuwine? Or Keith Sweat? I bumped my head to the beat of the song and listened intently, trying to make out the lyrics. Typical R&B fare, you know, “I’m gon’ treat you right,” “Girl, I’ma make you happy and shit,” until a phrase stuck out: “Be my future baby mama.”

A quizzical look adorned my face–future baby mama? Up until this point, I had always been under the impression that the slang baby mama or the variation “baby’s mama” was to be taken literally, a woman who has had your child in the past. As in, “It is time for me to pay the inevitable child support to my baby mama.” According to the urban dictionary website Baby Mama (noun) is defined as the mother of your child(ren) whom you did not marry and with whom you are not currently involved. And who can forget B Rock and The Bizz’s seminal mid 90s classic “That’s Just my Baby Daddy”, in which a young man, troubled by his girlfriend’s time spent on the phone with others, is reassured when she says “That’s Just my Baby Daddy,” as in, “No need to worry-this is just a gentleman from a previous relationship that ended some time after I mothered his child.”

But as I listened to the sweet sincerity in the singer’s voice, I wondered: is there more to it than that? I have heard Baby Mama/Daddy used in the context of calling someone a sweetheart by an old co-worker of mine, who had a thing for Usher. I thought about checking my sources: did he pen “Confessions” after a run-in with my Minneapolis, MN colleague? No no. She meant it as a term of affection. By saying Usher Raymond was her Baby Daddy, she meant something in the vain of “he so fine…!”

After hearing the chorus about being a future baby mama, I expected a verse involving the Gerber food company, diapers, and Lamaze classes, but I like the notion of the baby m/d as a term of affection. Maybe we can all live in a world we can call our significants baby mama/daddy, whether or not we have engaged in childbirth with them or not. This is a world I hope to see someday.

(Editor’s note: The Song “future baby mama” appears on the latest Prince release, Planet Earth. Yes, THAT Prince, the chopper-riding badass from Purple Rain. Lyrics can be found at: