Saturday, January 2, 2010

Welcome, 2010

Not much to report. Last movie I saw in theatres was The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which was one of my favorite films of the year, definitely. I'm an off-and-on Wes Anderson fan (ok, ok, I'm a fan), and definitely a George Clooney/Meryl Streep/Bill Murray/Jason Schwartzman fan, so I expected to like it. Surprisingly, it exceeded even my own high expectations. Incredible film, and very adult. My favorite scene occurs in the last ten minutes or so, but I won't give away the ending. Just know that it features my favorite animal and a symbolic fist pump. Power to the animals!

Another excellent thing about this movie is the stilted stop-motion animation. The characters' limbs move like spaghetti. I love love love choppy animation, and in this film it's not distracting in the slightest. I hate nothing more than the smooth perfection of something like Shrek, and the golden days of Disney animating styles are over (yawn, the Princess and the Frog...). Animating is such a wonderous, fascinating thing. No reason to waste good creative talent on run-of-the-mill cartoons. (Exception: Japanese animation, in the sense of Miyazaki. Long live Studio Ghibli).

It's been an excellent year for animation, hasn't it? It's definitely taken over. There was Up! and Ponyo and then The Fantastic Mr. Fox, all garnering over 95% popularity at some point in Rottentomatoes. Feature films, on the other hand... yikes. I'm afraid to see Avatar. Maybe I'll get the courage up one of these days.

Also, rang in the New Year (or rather, the day after the New Year) with a Black Keys concert at the Riviera in Chicago, conveniently located three blocks from my house. However, due to single-digit temps, had to drive (not kidding, and I've walked five miles in the snow. It's freaking cold out). However awesome the Black Keys are (and I've never known or heard of them to give a less than excellent show), the Riviera is my least favorite venue IN THE WORLD and I am not kidding (well, except maybe for United Center...) Awful acoustics, too much distortion, strange setup and it takes a good 45 minutes to get your coat. Awesome. Thanks Chicago.

Otherwise, of course, great set. Heavier on the new album but played a bit of their old favorites in the beginning (some of which I didn't know). The great thing about the Black Keys is how integrated all of the songs seemed with each other, and how differently they sounded from the CD (a good thing, usually), unlike a Vampire Weekend concert, which tends to sound exactly like putting the CD on shuffle, adding 5 seconds of awkward stage banter, and inserting a crowd full of teen proto-hipsters. Delightful. Rather, the Black Keys had probably my favorite crowd that I've ever encountered at a show. I've been to punk, prog-rock, ska, pop rock, metal, electronic, chamber pop, hip hop, reggae, folk, and classical shows, and so far this kind of funky, bluesy, garage rock-seeing crowd became my favorite (the reggae crowd was a close second). I kind of had that unmistakeable feeling, upon entering the Riv, that these were my kind of people! Not clothing-wise, really, or ethnicity-wise, but attitude-wise, and socio-economic wise. It was a diverse group: sparsely bearded, beanied, overwhelmingly male, plaid flannel-full but of the it's-legit-cold-i'm-wearing-flannel-fuck-you variety. I've missed boys who don't (and wouldn't, in their lifetimes) wear skinny pants.

Soon to come, list of favorite songs/albums of 2009. You'll notice my love of indie rock has decreased significantly. On to bigger and better things? (but I'll keep the plaid shirts, thanks)

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