Carv's Thinky Blog I'm an author with a focus on satirical sci-fi and agnostic commentary.


Big Things Come in 23-Minute Packages

As promised, here's my quick review and somewhat deeper, (mostly) spoiler-free analysis of Ridley Scott's Prometheus. I like that there's so much to say about the movie, but I also wish less of it were legitimate complaints.

P.S.: My wife just pointed out to me that I linked to Part 2 twice instead of linking to Part 3. How annoying that must have been for you! Sorry about that. The glitch is now repaired...

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Summer Movies 2012, Part 2

This completes my top ten list, which started below. All told, these two vlogs are almost thirty minutes long. Not too shabby for less than eight hours' work, don't you think? (Please forgive the weird split--otherwise, it'd be too long for the YouTube upload procedure.)

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Summer Movies 2012, Part 1

Presented for your amusement and edification (using the handy "vlog" form so enjoyed by today's youth) is this, the first half of my list of 2012's most promising summer movies. A note about copyrights: I'm well aware I don't own the rights to any of the trailers shown in this video. However, it's my feeling that trailers are commercials for products called movies, so I'm doing these studios a favor by advertising their products warmly and excitedly here. I hope their Galaga squadrons of bloodthirsty intellectual property lawyers agree.

Annnnnd...roll 'em!

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My Favorites of 2010

I'm cooking up a diatribe on the expression "TMI"--spoiler alert, it's not one of my favorites--but first, here are ten things I dug in 2010. I should warn you at least one of them is not family-friendly.

1.) Black Swan, directed by Darren Aronofsky

Not only did Natalie Portman leave Annette Bening in her dust for Best Actress, she gives one of the best performances of the last five or ten years. I've actually seen it derided as mousy, when that was the nature of the character--at least until the movie's pulpily thrilling final act, when her Black Swan emerges at last. Aronofsky is now officially one of our most gifted directors, even if his tastes often run more nihilistic than mine do.

2.) Cee-Lo'

Well, let's put it this way: The radio version of Cee-Lo's delightful kiss-off was called "Forget You," and it just wasn't the same. There are two versions of the extremely Not Safe for Work video, and I like 'em both. If you still haven't seen either video, the version with the lyrics is here, and the official "diner" version is here. Of the content of the song, all I'll say is we've all felt that way at least once.

3.) Community

Why aren't more of you watching this meta-hilarious show? Did the paintball episode, "Modern Warfare," not convince you? "Basic Rocket Science," the episode about the KFC space simulator, was great, too. By the way, speaking of sitcoms, Modern Family is really as good as they say.

4.) Antoine Dobson, "The Bed Intruder Song"

I loved Antoine when he was just that guy on the YouTubed news report. Then, thanks to AutoTune the News, he became the lead vocalist on the catchiest song of the year. (Yes, even catchier than Cee-Lo's.) Hide your kids, hide your wife!

5.) Exit Through the Gift Shop, directed by Banksy

Sorry, Joan Rivers, this was the documentary of the year...or was it? There are persistent rumors the whole movie is a hoax. But even if it is, that doesn't make it any less entertaining--perhaps even more so. Plus it'll make you think long and hard about the definition of art, and if you care about art at all, that's never a bad thing. It's available now on Netflix or at a video store near you.

6.) Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime, by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin

Hands down, this was the page-turner of the year (sorry, Mockingjay). It's nonfiction, yes, but soapier than fiction, with more colorful characters and the fate of a nation hanging in the balance. There's not a person in that race you won't feel different about after reading it, and that goes double for the late, lamented Elizabeth Edwards. If you're addicted to either Glenn Beck or Rachel Maddow, this is an absolute must-read.

7.) Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, directed by Edgar Wright

Harry Knowles of Ain't It Cool News named it the best movie of the year, because he can. I can't...but it was the popcorn movie I loved most. (Sorry, Iron Man 2 and Tron: Legacy. You let me down.) This is my favorite Wright movie by far, and given that his previous features are Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, that's saying something. (I'm also a fan of his Simon Pegg TV series, Spaced.) Available on video now.

8.) Storm Chasers

It's my favorite show on TV, even when the producers try to break up the sausage-fest with a pointless meteorolgess (TM Christian Carvajal 2011). Heck, I don't even consider it a guilty pleasure anymore, I just love it. Y'know how much? It's as good as Top Chef Desserts was unwatchable. Yeah. That much.. Also, it's the least scripted reality show, because it's pretty hard to set call times for tornadoes. Reed Timmer, you magnificent tool.

9.) The Social Network, directed by David Fincher

Okay, this was my favorite movie of the year, not least because everyone in it including Justin Timberlake is amazing. I credit Aaron Sorkin, who's redeemed himself for my woeful devotion to and ultimate disappointment with Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. I've never been able to act in a Sorkin project before, but maybe that'll change this April, Katy Shockman. (Cough.) The Social Network hits DVD and Blu-Ray this Tuesday. (In the meantime, check out The Secret in Their Eyes, a terrific Argentine drama that hit American video last year.)

10.) A Visit From the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan

If you were at all amused by my attempts in Lightfall to write in odd formats and from a variety of first-person voices, then this is the novel for you. Not only was it my favorite new fiction of the year, it introduced me to Egan, a talent so undeniable I immediately went out and grabbed her previous novel, The Keep. Then it was so amazing I'll read everything she ever wrote. So congratulations, Jennifer Egan: You're my first new literary crush since the heyday of Haven Kimmel.

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Perfection in the Dark

I've never asked for a perfect movie--I wonder if such a thing is even possible. But sometimes, just every once in a blue moon, a cast and crew get it exactly right for a few dozen shots in a row: an unimprovable scene. Here are twenty-five of my favorites. What are yours?

1. Hudson vs. the Aliens
2. William Miller tells Penny Lane she was lost in a bet
3. Harvey Pekar asks, "What's in a name?"
4. Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich
5. "The Bavarian Bombshell herself: Let's hear it for Lili Von Shtupp!"
6. Ralphie doesn't say "fudge"
7. Mr. Bernstein remembers the girl on the ferry
8. Edward Scissorhands carves Kim an ice angel
9. "The power of Christ compels you!"
10. Seth Brundle explains the advantages of being The Fly
11. The Iron Giant invokes the Man of Steel
12. "You're gonna need a bigger boat."
13. The T. rex road attack
14. The Bride acquires a sword from Hattori Hanzo
15. Arwen's escape from the Ringwraiths
16. "By Gad, sir, you are a character."
17. Trinity runs for the phone
18. Major Toht interrogates Marion Ravenwood
19. "Why do you think he removes their skins, Agent Starling? Thrill me with your acumen."
20. Peter Parker unmasked on a subway train
21. "The Force is with you, young Skywalker. But you are not a Jedi yet."
22. Artie Fufkin, Polymer Records: "I'm not asking, I'm telling with this."
23. "What is the problem with Michael Jackson?"
24. "When She Loved Me" with Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl
25. Baby Fish Mouth

P.S.: For the benefit of people like my girlfriend who aren't complete movie dorks, here's the list of references above:

1. Aliens
2. Almost Famous
3. American Splendor
4. Being John Malkovich
5. Blazing Saddles
6. A Christmas Story
7. Citizen Kane
8. Edward Scissorhands
9. The Exorcist
10. The Fly (1986)
11. The Iron Giant
12. Jaws
13. Jurassic Park
14. Kill Bill: Volume 1
15. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings
16. The Maltese Falcon
17. The Matrix
18. Raiders of the Lost Ark
19. The Silence of the Lambs
20. Spider-Man 2
21. Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
22. This Is Spinal Tap
23. Three Kings
24. Toy Story 2
25. When Harry Met Sally...

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Down in Front: The Best Movies of the Decade

This is the most subjective of my three lists, in that I'm stuck with some choices even I couldn't justify persuasively. All I can tell you is I pondered the list all day, then slept on it, then pondered it again, and I still wouldn't know what to change if I had to. Here are the five films that just missed my top twenty: Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, Slumdog Millionaire, Whale Rider, and Wonder Boys.

The list shows you what a sentimental guy I am--an easy cry, and a hearty laugh. It also shows you that I respect technical innovation and a strong visual style.

You'll notice two of the films were actually five films when released. I don't consider this cheating. Each of those movies was conceived and shot as a separate film. One was written as a trilogy, but during its long gestation it was meant to be as few as one film and as many as five. Above all, it plays as a single long narrative, perhaps even more than the duo of movies--which was written as one long, episodic screenplay.

Anyway, enough justification. Once again, my choices are in alphabetical order, but the film I'd rank highest is the film I'd be least likely to watch again. It was also the film with the highest degree of difficulty, which is why I'd rank the trilogy a very close second.

I may at some point compile a list of the best acting performances of the decade, in which case Daniel Day-Lewis's Daniel Plainview and Heath Ledger's Joker would be very near the top.

P.S.: Originally this post was illustrated with reproductions of the movies' one-sheet posters. I've replaced those with a simple list to speed up load times for the rest of the page.

The 40 Year-Old Virgin
Almost Famous
American Splendor
Amores Perros
The Bourne Ultimatum
City of God
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
The Hurt Locker
The Incredibles
Kill Bill
The Lord of the Rings
Million Dollar Baby
Pan's Labyrinth
Sin City
United 93
Y Tu Mamá También

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