Well here we are in 2018, it is upon us. Who knows what this new year will bring. But it is customary to reflect on the past year, and what it brought us good and bad. For me, it was emotional of mostly good, and some bad moments. Part of my yearly tradition I started about two years ago with this blog was to look back at some of my favorite things I experienced in the past year which made it a little more memorable. I’ve listed these down in different categories, so enjoy.
Favorite Old Movie I saw for the First time in 2017: “Lions, Love (…and Lies)”: Agnes Varda’s experimental, fourth wall breaking, improvised account of three hippies living in California in the late 60s right before the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy is the type of film that doesn’t really get talked about. There’s something very beautiful about this film and how free it feels. Maybe it’s nostalgia for what the sixties meant for a lot of people, but it’s also the artistic freedom Varda makes with this film, you can tell it was something she made just for her own ambitions and no one else. We’re never quite sure what we’re seeing is real or made up on the spot by the actors. Reality is blurred especially when it invades the film in the wake of Kennedy’s assassination which happened while this movie was being filmed. They give the tragic incident context without exploiting it. The final moments of this film where a character looks directly into the camera and just breaths in and out calmly is one of my favorite closings of any film. Agnes Varda has been in the news lately thanks mostly to her new documentary “Faces Places” , which has been getting rave reviews, and she also received an honorary Academy Award for her work at the age of 89, where she charmingly danced on stage with Angelina Jolie. I have just gotten my first taste of Varda’s work, and I can’t wait to dig deeper into her filmography.
Other Great films I saw for the first time this year: “Paterson”, “Hi, Mom!”, “George Harrison: Living in a Material World” “Branded to Kill”, “Kiss Them for Me”, “The Virgin Suicides”, “Uncle Yanco”, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”, “Two For the Road”, “Pauline at the Beach”, “Blonde Venus”.
Favorite TV Season I saw this year: Twin Peaks Season 3: Probably number one on my most anticipated list this year was the return of “Twin Peaks” if only because it marked the return of David Lynch as a director after an 11 year hiatus. Lynch did not disappoint, reminding us why he is one of the most unique filmmakers of the last 40 years. At 75 Lynch still dares to push the limit of filmmaking, creating a great mixture of conventional storytelling and surrealism. You’re not meant to always understand what Lynch is throwing at you, but you are suppose to react to it, he makes you pay attention, and in “Twin Peaks” he has created his magnum opus, one that will no doubt be discussed for years.
Other Great TV I watched: “Bojack Horseman Seasons 1-4”, “Glow Season 1”, “American Vandal Season 1”, “The Good Place Season 1”
Favorite Book: “The Razor’s Edge” By Somerset Maugham: The first book I read in the 2017 was also my favorite, and remains one of my favorite books I ever read. It’s the story of a War Veteran who returns home and becomes disillusioned with the material world of North America and decides to go on a spiritual journey to find some sort of happiness. Told through the narration by Maugham himself who puts himself in as one of the characters, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s definitely the type of moral you can find yourself thinking of time and time again about how too many possessions and the constant distractions of the modern world can bring you down and even dehumanize you a bit. This was an idealistic book to say the least, and the one that didn’t stray too far from my mind all year.
Other Great Books/Stories I read: “A Good Man is Hard to Find” By Flannery O’Connor, “The Yellow Wallpaper” By Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Black Cat” By Edgar Allan Poe”, “Persepolis” By Marjane Satrapi, “Love and Mercy” by Brian Wilson, “The Last Temptation” by Nikos Kazantzakis
Favorite Movie Moment of 2017 Tie: Harry Dean Stanton smiling into the camera in “Lucky” and the No Man’s Land scene in “Wonder Woman”: I couldn’t choose between these two moments as they probably filled me with the most emotion of any film I saw this year. In “Lucky” this moment is meant as an acknowledgment and an acceptance of death, but it is meant as something not to be feared. The fact that this gesture was done by Stanton who died soon after this film finished made it all the more poignant. In “Wonder Woman” it was the idea of what was behind this action scene that made it so special. So many super hero films rarely show us why these heroes are so super, it sometimes doesn’t have to do with their abilities but what they represent to the world. “Wonder Woman” is a wish fulfillment film full of heart and idealism. It’s the idea that love, and courage can conquer hatred. In the wrong hands, this sort of message could be overly sentimental, but Patty Jenkins sells us as to why heroes like Wonder Woman are still relevant today and why they should continue to be the source of inspiration for people young and old alike.
For my final favorite thing, I’ll leave with my favorite song, from my favorite album I purchased this year. “The Dark End of the Street” by The Flying Burrito Brothers from the Album “The Gilded Palace of Sin” from 1969.
Favorite Song I heard for the first time.