Tag Archives: wes anderson

How I Spent My Cinematic Year, 2014 Edition

Critic Roger Ebert has said of Michael Apted’s Up documentary series that it struck him as an, “inspired, even noble use of the film medium … To look at these films, as I have every seven years, is to meditate on the astonishing fact that man is the only animal that knows it lives in time.”

Image from: thedissolve.com

Image from: thedissolve.com


Director Richard Linklater achieves something similar with the film Boyhood (and he also does in his terrific Before series of movies). Before Midnight was one of my favorite films of 2013, and now Boyhood is my favorite film of 2014. Filmed over the course of twelve years, we watch the titular boy and his family age in real time. Most of the occasions the film focuses on seem like reletively minor life events, but they take on meaning and heft through the accumulation of time. In the end I was deeply touched by this film. Even though it is not particularly sad throughout, I felt like I’d gotten to know the characters so well that I would miss no longer getting to visit them on screen.

While Boyhood takes the #1 spot, I saw quite a few great films in 2014. There are a lot of new movies that I haven’t gotten a chance to see yet (tops on my to-watch list are Whiplash, Birdman, Inherent Vice, Mr. Turner, and CitizenFour.) Even so, I’ve attempted to come up with a list of some of my favorite new movies I saw this past year. Take a gander below, and tell me what I’ve missed in the comments section.


The Grand Budapest Hotel

Another Wes Anderson gem with a touching (and very funny) performance by Ralph Fiennes. This film really grew on me after a second viewing.



The Lego Movie

One of the best times I had at the theater this year (along with directors Phil Lord & Chris Miller’s other great 2014 screwball comedy, 22 Jump Street). This movie is just as fun for adults as it is for kids, and I will continue to check out anything this pair chooses to pursue.


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Making Time and Keeping Warm


A few weeks ago I revisited the soundtrack to the wonderful film Rushmore. The 1998 Wes Anderson movie remains one of my favorite movies. The soundtrack to the film is splendid, and the liner notes explaining why the film maker chose which music he did, is also really interesting. For those of you too young to know what liner notes are … here ya go! The other thing is, man….it is GOOD. The tracks are fantastic.

I would be remiss to not mention The Kinks here. Anderson’s original idea for the Rushmore soundtrack was to be all songs by The Kinks, but that changed during production. I do love The Kinks and I love The Village Green Preservation Society. These tracks will already make you feel like Spring is here. It’s worth checking out for that alone! Aside from that, however, this is truly one of the best rock albums EVER recorded. Big words, I know. Check it out and see for yourself.

rushmore(image snagged from google search)

In looking around for more by some of the artists on that soundtrack (specifically the fantastic band the Creation) I was led to the Nuggets collection. (I like the brilliant and dated tagline for the collection…“If you dig it, it’s a nugget”). The stuff on the single disc is mostly US-based and includes great liner notes. For instance, I learned, somewhat to my chagrin, that the Standells (you’ll remember them from their hit song “Dirty Water”… “Love that dirty water, Boston you’re my home”) were NOT from Boston at all, but from LA. The song still sounds great and the rest of the liner notes are worth looking at.


I also stumbled onto Nuggets 2, which features more bands from the UK “and beyond” as it says on the cover. I was glad to see more tracks by Creation on there. Again, it’s an interesting, fun collection that is worth your time.

In the days of Polar Vortex deep freezes and extravagantly named winter storms, venture out to the Library, pick up a movie and some tunes, and hunker down.


(who is working out the proper blanket-to-cat-to-tea ratio for maximum winter warmth and comfort)


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8 Musical Moments Caught on Film

Image from the website: http://www.guardian.co.uk

In the Mood for punishment. Image from the website: http://www.guardian.co.uk

It’s been a rough week here on planet Earth, which is why I’ve decided to take a moment out of my day to celebrate two of my favorite things—music & film. That’s right, not only do I work in the Music, Film & Audio Department, but I also enjoy watching films and listening to music, occasionally at the same time. Nothing makes me happier than that scene in a film when the perfect song is cued up, and suddenly characters start walking in slow-motion, or sports-training-through-montage, or driving their motorcycles really, really fast. Seriously, is there anything better than these musical moments? (Other than cheese, of course?)

Come with me now, as I share 8 of my favorite musical moments in film…

Morvern Callar is a troubling little film, based on a novel by Alan Warner. Our amoral protagonist wanders through the film listening to a mix tape through a set of headphones, which becomes the soundtrack for the film. I hold this scene directly responsible for my love of Lee Hazelwood–after watching it, I immediately had to find out who was responsible for the song “One Velvet Morning”:


Wong Kar-Wai is one of my favorite directors because of the way he uses music in film. The film Chungking Express is an almost love story, where all of the characters are either trapped thinking about the past, or imagining their futures, but rarely meet in the present. I can no longer hear the song “California Dreamin” without thinking of this film:


And how could Wong Kar-Wai make a movie about people walking up and down staircases in slow-motion that is this good? Fair warning: don’t be deceived by the title of the film In the Mood for Love, as it’s less a film about love, and more a film about longing. (If regret is more your bag, you can check out the kind-of sequel, 2046.) This scene is like one, gigantic sigh:


The movie Ghost World (and the wonderful graphic novel it’s based on) is one of the best stories I’ve ever watched/read about misfit teenage girls. There’s a lovely scene in the middle of the film when our confused heroine discovers her love of blues music:


Few directors around today use music quite as well as Wes Anderson. Not only does he have great taste in music (and by great, I guess I mean my taste), but he knows how perfectly the right song can tell a story. In the film The Royal Tenenbaums nobody has to tell you how Richie Tenenbaum feels about his adopted sister Margot, the song does it for him:


The Naked Kiss was my introduction to the weird, seedy, and melodramatic world of Samuel Fuller. The film opens with a bald, half-naked woman beating a man up and then throwing money at him. You would think that things couldn’t get any weirder from there, but you would be wrong. This is one of the strangest, most maudlin musical sequences I’ve ever witnessed:


And speaking of weird and melodramatic, Night of the Hunter features one of the all-time best screen villains, a tattooed preacher played by Robert Mitchum. The movie is something of a live action fairytale, which is apparent in this river scene:


And as for contemporary films, I am fond of the scene in the movie Drive where our antihero drives down the L.A. river basin with dreamy synthpop playing in background:


What am I missing? Do you have any favorite musical moments in film?



April 19, 2013 · 5:06 am

Fantastic Voyage India

Like my colleague Melissa, I too recently purchased a house and have been spending my current vacation packing, mending, gardening, painting, and fist-shaking. I need a vacation from my vacation. Luckily, before leaving the library last Sunday I had the foresight to check out a few DVDs to watch during needed packing breaks. In anticipation of the new Wes Anderson movie coming out soon, I decided to re-watch his 2007 film The Darjeeling Limited. Then after reading the short essay accompanying the disc I decided to check out Mr. Anderson’s inspirations for the film: The River by Jean Renoir, Kanchanjangha by Satyajit Ray, and the documentaries Phantom India & Calcutta by Louis Malle.

The Darjeeling Limited was not one Anderson’s best reviewed films, but along with the short film Hotel Chevalier that precedes it (side note: it’s probably the only film in which I’ve ever liked Natalie Portman), it is full of charming sets and lovely music. Like his other films, delight can be found in the details, such as a carefully laminated trip itinerary, a can of pepper spray, a matching set of animal print suitcases, an escaped tiger, and Owen Wilson’s face covered in bandages for the entire film. It is definitely worth a viewing–or re-viewing, if you’re like me.

The River is also worth checking out, if for no other reason than the striking Technicolor visuals. Filmed entirely in India in the late 1940s and released in America in 1951, it was a highly unusual movie for its time. Not only was it shot entirely on location using a mostly nonprofessional cast and crew, but it also had a nontraditional plot for its time. The India in this film is not full of action & adventure, or tigers & elephants. Instead it tells an almost mystical tale of love, death, and rebirth, and meanders from here to there in much the same way as the river of its title. The acting from the nonprofessional actors is a little odd and stilted, but there are some lovely scenes in the film, my favorite being a fantasy sequence that tells the story of Krishna:

I still have four days of vacation left, and plan to continue my travels through India with the films of Satyajit Ray and Louis Malle, and one of my favorite radio programs, Music From India.  How about you? What foreign countries do you like to visit through film?

Packing and unpacking,


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