Wednesday, December 30, 2009

An attempt to list my favorite 50 films of the 2000s



Just thinking about how many films I had to leave out of this top 50 list hurts. Still, I've managed to pick 50 favorites through a very vague and random selection procedure. I'm glad I didn't spend too much time compiling this list as it can drive a man insane...

1. The Lord of the Rings trilogy (Peter Jackson, 2001/2002/2003)
2. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)
3. Hedwig and the Angry Inch (John Cameron Mitchell, 2001)
4. Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola, 2003)
5. Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch, 2001)
6. The Fountain (Darren Aronofsky, 2006)
7. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (Wes Anderson, 2004)
8. Ratatouille (Brad Bird/Jan Pinkava, 2007)
9. The New World (Terence Malick, 2005)
10. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006)

11. Inglorious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
12. Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001)
13. Les Triplettes de Belleville (Sylvain Chomet, 2003)
14. Gegen die Wand (Fatih Akin, 2004)
15. Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright, 2004)
16. Atonement (Joe Wright, 2007)
17. Billy Elliot (Stephen Daldry, 2000)
18. Avatar (James Cameron, 2009)
19. Battle Royale (Fukasaku Kinji, 2000)
20. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)

21. Kill Bill Vol. 1&2 (Quentin Tarantino, 2003/2004)
22. District 9 (Neil Blomkamp, 2009)
23. Adaptation. (Spike Jonze, 2002)
24. WALL-E (Andrew Stanton, 2008)
25. Let the Right One In (Thomas Alfredson, 2008)
26. The Isle (Kim Ki-duk, 2000)
27. Spider-Man 2 (Sam Raimi, 2004)
28. The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson, 2001)
29. Before Sunset (Richard Linklater, 2004)
30. No Country For Old Men (Joel & Ethan Coen, 2007)

31. The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004)
32. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2003)
33. Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro, 2006)
34. The Proposition (John Hillcoat, 2005)
35. Memento (Christopher Nolan, 2000)
36. The King of Kong (Seth Gordon, 2007)
37. Caché (Michael Haneke, 2005)
38. In Bruges (Martin McDonagh, 2008)
39. Paprika (Satoshi Kon, 2006)
40. Cremaster 3 (Matthew Barney, 2002)

41. Casino Royale (Martin Campbell, 2006)
42. Wilde Mossels (Erik de Bruyn, 2000)
43. Cargo 200 (Aleksey Balabanov, 2007)
44. Dead Man’s Shoes (Shane Meadows, 2004)
45. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazahkstan (Larry Charles, 2006)
46. Once (John Carney, 2006)
47. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Shane Black, 2005)
48. Cloverfield (Matt Reeves, 2008)
49. Monsters, Inc. (Peter Docter/David Silverman/Lee Unkrich, 2001)
50. Jackass: the Movie (Jeff Tremaine, 2002)

EDIT: I've already discoved an inconsistency between this list and the top 10 of 2009 I posted today as well. In the latter, I list District 9 higher as Inglorious Basterds, while here it's the other way around (and Tarantino's film is listed way higher). They're both great films though ;)

My Favorite Films of 2009

Here they are, my favorite films of 2009.

1. District 9
2. Inglorious Bastards
3. Avatar
4. Synecdoche, New York
5. Das Weisse Band
6. Coraline
7. The Hurt Locker
8. Star Trek
9. Panique Au Village
10. Watchmen


Where is Let The Right One In, you wonder? Well, that one I put in last year’s top 10. This year, it finally did get a theatrical release in the Netherlands though, becoming 2009’s nr 1 best film according to the Dutch film critics. I do not necessarily disagree with that, although District 9 and Inglorious Bastards form a pretty tough competition for the number one spot.

Avatar might not be the most solid film story-wise, as a technical achievement it is a marvel to behold. Can’t wait to see it again on IMAX next week. I also liked to include Coraline and Paniqua Au Village, the first a subtle masterpiece of the stop motion animation craft, the second also stop motion animated but low-budget and completely batshit insane.

And Watchmen, oh Watchmen. I still haven’t found the time to watch my ‘Ultimate Cut’ blu-ray yet, and I’m not entirely convinced if it will improve the original cut (or director’s cut for that matter) but I’m including the film in my top 10 for the maker’s courage (both aesthetically and financially) to adapt the graphic novel in such a literal way. Squid or no squid.

Runners-Up (alphabetical order):

2012, Anvil! The Story of Anvil, Los Bastardos, Chocolate, The Clone Returns Home, Il Divo, Doubt, Drag me to Hell, Encounters at the End of the World, A Film With Me In It, Gomorra, The Hangover, I Love You, Man, In The Loop, Kan Door Huid Heen, Martyrs, Moon, Public Enemies, Revolutionary Road, , Up, The Wrestler.

Films I regret I haven’t seen (yet):

Antichrist, Bronson, Capitalism: A Love Story, The Chaser, Che 1&2, Frozen River, De Helaasheid der Dingen, Not Quite Hollywood.

FYI: these are all films released in the Netherlands in 2008, spiced up with some films which should have been...
Next up, my top 50 of the 2000s!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Revisioning 007

For those interested: I'll be co-presenting a talk with Joyce Goggin during tomorrow's launch of Revisioning 007 (Wallflower Press), an exciting new James Bond-oriented book edited by Christoph Lindner.

We will be presenting our chapter in the book, called "It Just Keeps Getting Bigger: Bond and the Political Economy of Huge". It takes the change from card game Baccarat in the original Casino Royale book and films (the 1954 teleplay and 1967 spoof), to Texas Hold'em Poker in the 2006 film version as a starting point to talk about Bond, gambling and the global economy.

Christoph Lindner and Estella Tincknell will also be presenting their work from the book. For more info on the how and when of the book launch, visit the Spui 25 website. For those interested in more academic writing on 007, make sure to also check out Christoph Lindner's The James Bond Phenomenon: A Critical Reader.

Friday, July 17, 2009

World of Warcraft podcast online

Recently I participated in my fist podcast. Bashers.nl, a wonderful Dutch site about games and game culture, invited me to talk about World of Warcraft and MMORPGs in general in a podcast special dedicated to, well, World of Warcraft and MMORPGs in general.

Together with colleague David Nieborg (of gamespace.nl-fame), game journalist Robert Hoogendoorn (nederob.nl), and Basher’s Menno Schellekens and Niels ‘t Hooft we managed to talk a whopping three hours about all kinds of topics, including issues of control and free speech in virtual worlds, RMT culture, and the way World of Warcraft is ruling the genre, in some ways at the expense of its competition.

If you manage to grind all the way through this epic sized podcast (which is more fun than grinding in World of Warcraft, mind you!), you are treated to the entire group having the giggles about a disturbingly hilarious personal WoW story.

To get to the podcast, go here. I’m afraid it’s all in Dutch: consider it an extra challenge if you aren’t.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Lovely spam, wonderful twam. Or is it spitter?

Months back I made a little post on blog comment spamming and ‘splogging’ in relation to World of Warcraft gold sellers. I was now reading up on the way that twitter's social network is also creaking under the weight of spam. One of the ways to twam/spitter (apparantly, the jury still hasn't decided on that one) remains to create random twitterbots to start spamming the twittersphere using popular hash tags related to the product or service you want to sell.

So I decided to search for #wow and #warcraft on twitter. And lo and behold, waves upon waves of gold seller and power leveling spam.

In China alone, an estimated 500.000 to 1.000.000 people are currently at work as gold farmers/traders, making billions of dollars a year. With such an industry behind it, spam for MMORPGs like World of Warcraft isn't going anywhere soon. And it will keep tracking down its target audience anywhere it can.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I'm on twitter, again.

I tried twitter a year or so ago and found it hard to find any purpose for it. So I cancelled my twitter account. With more and more people around me twittering, and me doing pretty much the same, only then through facebook status updates, I reckoned it was time for another go at it.

As you can see I put my twitter feed on the blog (which I guess makes they whole thing seem more ‘alive’ considering my highly irregular blogging practices), but you can also add me through twitter @TheLookingGlas. See you there.

Friday, March 13, 2009

New eSports documentary: Beyond The Game

I few days back I had the pleasure of seeing Jos de Putter’s Beyond The Game, his new documentary about professional Warcraft III players. My review will pop up somewhere next week (in Dutch, sorry), but let me just say that I enjoyed De Putter’s film a lot. It refuses to get all sensational about the eSports phenomenon, instead treating it as a fact. You might think professional computer game playing is strange but, as De Putter seems to say, millions of players don’t, resulting in a professional scene where the best players are superstars able to make a living from playing these games.

The main protagonists are Dutch top-player Manuel ‘Grubby’ Schenkhuizen, rising star Li ‘Sky’ Xiaofeng from China and, to a lesser extent, retired veteran Fredrik ‘MaDFroG’ Johansson. Beyond The Game follows them, their parents and their romantic partners through their daily lives as we discover what pro-gaming means to these people culturally, professionally and emotionally.

By taking eSports and its players entirely serious, Beyond The Game manages to pierce deeper into game culture than most other media reports and documentaries made from the ‘outside’ of gaming (apparantly, De Putter had no prior knowledge about or direct interest in eSports or computer games before making this film).

One thing is sure: being a Warcraft III pro involves a LOT of training. Never will you see a documentary involving so much typing, mouse-work and staring intensely at screens. As the trailer below shows, these players even continue playing while brushing their teeth.



Beyond the Game will be released in selected Dutch cinema’s march 19. I’m not sure about the availability of the documentary outside of The Netherlands but I suggest keeping an eye on the film's blog, or local film festivals.

For those still thinking that eSports are just a weird underground thing, think again. It was just announced that one of the best Warcraft III players from Korea signed a contract for 700 million Korean won, almost $475.000. And that does not even break the standing record for highest paid eSports ‘athlete’. No wonder player from all over the globe try to flock to countries like Korea and China to compete.

UPDATE: review online now. Click here, or in the sidebar.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Blood in the gutter

Finally, a new blog entry. I’m such a bad blogger.

I simply had to say something about this blog post about the Uclick for the iPhone. Uclick basically offers comics for sale on the iPhone, switching the page-by-page format of comic books for a panel-by-panel approach so each panel fits the screen.

For some reason, it led to the blogger declaring paper comics obsolete, adding: ‘No longer are you accidentally viewing a frame or two ahead because of the nature of multi-panel pages; you're actually able to see it panel-by-panel — just like the artists originally created it’. And this is coming from a comic fan.

Now, please, buy a copy of McCloud’s Understanding Comics or Eisner’s Comics And Sequential Art and you’ll see that the space between panels (the so-called gutter) and the positioning of panels on a page are what makes a comic a comic. They are the, in part, the language of this art form.

Breaking up a comic page into separate, isolated panels destroys at least part of the experience of reading a comic. Just imagine having to read Watchmen panel-by-panel. *shudder*

At the same time, Uclick’s approach makes it impossible for itself to include comics which actively play with panel size or shape, overlapping panels or a lack of panels. This in and of itself is prove enough that a panel-by-panel approach to reproducing comics is just nonsense. It may work with some comics (and Uclick apparently works with the comic’s creators to make a panel-by-panel version), but it utterly fails with many more.

Now, I do not have an iPhone but I have tried to read digitized versions of paper comics on my laptop(s), Nokia N95 and PSP and it usually is a horrible experience. From what I’ve read, Uclick does not change this, nor does it make traditional comics obsolete.

Instead, it changes, even destroys hem at their core, leaving 'blood in the gutter', to use McCloud's title for his chapter on the importance of panels.

But hey, there’s no stopping apple fanboys in believing in its merits anyway.