Monday, January 19, 2009

Worth Wading For?

I still consider myself a major U2 fan, and they've remained a great live act, but the only album they've made of truly lasting impact since 1991's Achtung Baby has been 2001's All That You Can't Leave Behind, and even that isn't quite on par with The Joshua Tree, War or Achtung. I found 2005's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb extrememly disappointing, and quite frankly, never listen to it. While the song City of Blinding Lights is thrilling for its connection to the Obama campaign, it isn't a great song in its own right. So perhaps without reason, I've been looking forward to their next album with hopes for their artistic redemption. Titled No Line on the Horizon, it is slated for release on March 3. I'll withhold full judgment until I hear it all, and often, but the first single has just been released. Titled Get On Your Boots, it can be heard through YouTube (though no video is out yet). I've listened to it about 5 times now, and perhaps it will grow on me, but forget Pride (In the Name of Love), Sunday Bloody Sunday, Where the Streets Have No Name or even One, it doesn't even seem as good as Vertigo.

(If you're a Springsteen fan like me, you can check out his new album Workin' on a Dream on a pre-release stream on )

Monday, January 05, 2009

The Best of 2008: Movies

Having averaged one movie per day for the past 3 weeks, in theaters and on DVD, I have now seen most of the films that have been found on other people’s Best of 2008 lists. Hence, my own list won’t exactly be revelatory, but I now feel somewhat qualified to make one. Certainly, there are still many movies I haven’t seen, some of which might belong here. Also, except in some cases where the movie is already on DVD and I’ve watched it a second time, my opinions—especially in terms of ranking the movies against each other—are based on a one-time viewing. It’s entirely possible I didn’t entirely “get” a certain movie or saw it in a less than idyllic atmosphere, etc. Speaking of which, between old people talking obliviously and young people texting and otherwise using their cell phones, I think I’ll gladly revert to watching at home or going only to movies when the theater is mostly empty.

That said, in order, here are my picks for The 10 Best Movies of 2008:

1. Frost/Nixon
2. Milk
3. Slumdog Millionaire
4. Doubt
5. The Dark Knight
6. The Wrestler
7. Gran Torino
8. Changeling
9. Rachel Getting Married
10. Wall-E

Honorable Mentions

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Snow Angels
Iron Man

Others liked these more than me

Revolutionary Road
The Reader

Ones I didn’t see that might belong

Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Wendy & Lucy
Nothing But the Truth

Best Performances

Frank Langella – Frost/Nixon
Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight
Sean Penn – Milk
Mickey Rourke – The Wrestler
Philip Seymour Hoffman – Doubt

Angelina Jolie – Changeling
Anne Hathaway – Rachel Getting Married
Meryl Streep – Doubt
Kate Winslet – The Reader
Kate Beckinsale – Snow Angels