The Top 101 Songs of 2017

8 Jan

Rules: Only two per artist (not including features). So yes, that makes this not my true top 101, but I do like all of these songs and think variety is very important in any songs list.

101. Jens Lekman feat. LouLou Lamotte, “To Know Your Mission”

100. Beach Fossils, “This Year”

99. Laura Marling, “Always This Way”

98. Mogwai, “Coolverine”

97. Moses Sumney, “Lonely World”

96. Spoon, “Can I Sit Next To You”

95. Kelela, “LMK”

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The Post Review

7 Jan

As a film about journalism, The Post is reasonably entertaining, driven by pros behind the camera and a great performance by Bob Odenkirk. As a film about Journalism, the film struggles to say what it wants to without falling into speechifying and ham-fisted messaging. I’m not going to give the film points for being “relevant to the Trump administration” or whatnot because what matters to me is the execution of that messaging. Unfortunately, the execution here leaves something to be desired. There are so many interesting angles this story can take, and many are in the film; take, for instance, the history of cozy relationships between the media and politicians and its impact on the situation at the time. It’s there, but it feels underdeveloped because it’s ultimately all in service of the safest storytelling mechanisms about capital J Journalism. I won’t judge the story for what it’s not–that is, a more in depth look at the Pentagon Papers themselves rather than a side view of sorts–because there are interesting ideas present in its chosen angle. Why, then, is it so thuddingly obvious to the point that it reduces a story about a woman in a man’s world to a scene in which that woman walks down the Supreme Court steps as a row of young women literally stare at her in awe? It’s interesting that certain arthouse films are criticized for being pretentious when a conventional film like this, one that takes no risks, imbues itself with an even bigger air of self importance. That doesn’t just apply to Streep’s storyline; it also applies to every grand statement made about the freedom and responsibility of the press.

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The Top 15 Television Episodes of 2017

3 Jan

15. Mr. Robot, “”

14. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, “I Never Want to See Josh Again”

13. Veep, “Blurb”

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The Top 15 Television Performances of 2017

1 Jan

I cheated with some of these.

15. TIE: Timothy Olyphant, “Santa Clarita Diet” and Andy Daly, “Review” – Daly would be much higher if he didn’t have only an hour of screen time this year, but I figured I’d still sneak him on here somehow. It may not seem like it at first, but he actually gives one of the most psychologically complex performances on television. As for Olyphant…I just love Olyphant, and he’s a ton of fun in “Santa Clarita Diet”.

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review

31 Dec

I have a fundamental problem with the very existence of these new Star Wars films. I simply don’t trust anyone to do right by this franchise…not in this day and age, not during a time defined by generic reboots and sequels, not during a time when nostalgia is nothing but a commodity repackaged into profit-guzzling machines. Maybe that’s cynical or unfair of me, but make no mistake: the three new films I’ve seen are decidedly not the Star Wars films I grew up with and loved (and I’ll even defend the prequels to the day I die). There’s a spark missing, a certain burst of originality and passion that’s sorely needed. Tell me: why haven’t we even seen a memorable lightsaber-on-lightsaber battle in three whole films? I’m not talking about Rey and Kylo Ren in a forest; I’m talking about Darth Maul’s double-sided lightsaber, or General Grievous’ four lightsabers, or Luke vs. Vader Round 1, or Luke vs. Vader Round 2, or Obi-wan vs. Anakin on a goddamn lava field. I’m talking about the visual thrill of cinema’s most iconic weapon. Where’s that magic?

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The Top 30 Albums of 2017

29 Dec

Welcome back for another round of year end lists. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be releasing a bunch of television, film, and music lists. Hope you agree, disagree, and learn about new things.

Rules: EPs allowed, soundtracks not allowed, album has to be released in 2017 and entirely made up of new material (so no Sufjan, Beach House, Conor Oberst, Radiohead, etc. even though any new songs are eligible for the songs list)

30. The xx, “I See You”

29. Zola Jesus, “Okovi”

28. Vagabon, “Infinite Worlds”

27. Alex Cameron, “Forced Witness”

26. Jay-Z, “4:44”

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Phantom Thread Review

25 Dec

Every square inch of this film is meticulously constructed to such an extent that you’re just waiting for something to disrupt it. At times, it’s somehow dull and beautiful in equal measure, probably because each tiny, repetitive movement is shrouded in mystery but is simultaneously dangling at some type of palpable precipice. The bare-bones setup allows Anderson to slowly but surely tinker with expectations, playing with what these characters perceive to be well established as he works in and out of gothic romance, dark comedy, and impassioned drama. There are moments that linger too long and moments–especially regarding the relationship dynamics–that could use more gestation, but Anderson ultimately nails the atmosphere because he provides you just enough insight into the characters’ relationships to their environment. It’s like a psychoanalytical art project with the precision of a master chef. Jonny Greenwood’s score is haunting, evocative, an integral aspect of the mood and its own storyteller. It might just be the score of 2017.

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