12 Years a Slave is Mandatory

Travis beat me to the punch a bit here, but I also have some brief thoughts about 12 Years a Slave. We will both expand upon this in the immediate future, I’m sure.

This is mandatory. Essential doesn’t come close to being right for this film, which is an instant classic to me. It is mandatory. As in, every person with even a passing interest in film as an art form has to see it.

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12 Years A Slave: A Letter to the World

Dear America,

Tonight, I attended a showing of 12 Years A Slave with fellow writers Andrew and Alex, as well as Alex’s wife.

There are absolutely no words to describe this film, other than it is an utter masterpiece, and possibly the hardest piece of cinema I’ve ever encountered.

Every citizen should see this film. It transcends the petty notions of awards season, the previous depictions of slavery, and other such documentations of American history.

We all struggled to encapsulate exactly how we felt after viewing the film. All I can say is to bring a towel, because Kleenex will not cut it.

This should be mandatory viewing for every American citizen. For every human being.

It is because of it’s unflinching nature and brutal depictions of history that every living, breathing human should see this film. Some might be scared by its graphic nature, or its harrowing documentation of what humans are capable of in their darkest moments. It is because of these very truths that you and every one you know should find the nearest screening of this film and see it.

You will not look at things the same after watching this. I guarantee this.

We debated who should write the review/critique of this film after we left the theatre. In the days to come, as we come to grips with what we saw in the film, we might offer commentary upon the powerful imagery of the film, which again, I stress is some of the most powerful images I’ve seen in my years of film study. For the time being, this must suffice.

There are no other words.

Yours truly,



Holy pants.


Dear Earth,

Please go see Gravity, the new film by Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men), starring Sandra Bullock (never ever even close to as good as she is here) and George Clooney (who is perfect in this role). It is undoubtedly one of the best films of the year and a cinematic experience unlike any other I have ever watched. It will win many (all of the?) Oscars.

An addendum: Please go see Gravity in IMAX 3D. I literally cannot imagine experiencing this unbelievable spectacle in any other way.

More to follow.

Thank you and good night.


What You Are About To See Has Never Been Seen Before the Human Eye!: In Memory of Ray Harryhausen


There’s quite a lot that has to happen for me to truly mourn the passing of a celebrity, an artist, or a noteworthy figure in popular culture. Quite often, the problem for me is that “celebrity” naturally inspires a distance between myself and the noted member of society. It’s sad for me to realize that I’ll never read another Roger Ebert review, never get to listen to a new track by Levon Helm, or that Stan “the Man” Musial has joined the ranks of the great All-Star team in the sky. It’s natural to feel some sense of loss, and to gain a true appreciation for what they’ve done. (Check out my colleague’s touching tribute to the late Mr. Ebert here, to whom all of us at the Recorder are deeply indebted to.) More often than not, however, it’s only a momentary blip in the never-ending stream that is life. It’s sad to know that Whitney Houston has passed away, but in the end, I’ll still dance like a fool to “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” without thinking more on the subject than “hmm…she’s passed away…we’re all getting old.”

And then I came home from work today to discover that Ray Harryhausen has passed away.

Somebody like Harryhausen is not a well-recognized name in the general lexicon of popular culture. He didn’t discover a cure for a disease, he didn’t play quarterback for the Cowboys, and he never had a #1 Single on the Billboard Top 40. He did headline several movies of his own, but we’ll get to that in a second.

No, what he did was to provide hope, inspiration, and a wave of dreams for countless people the world over.

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“Some Cheap Tricks and a One-Liner”: Reviewing Iron Man 3


Let me be quite clear about what I’m trying to do here. This is not just a review. This is not a cinematic critique, an admonishment or a chastisement of artistic mediums. Rather, it is a cry for help for a certain individual’s life choices that have spread over into said artistic mediums, becoming patently obvious through the infliction of personality defects upon an aesthetic, influencing it through temperament, chronological pacing, and the attention span that would cause a pigeon to fly into a rage of conniptions and  twitches before flinging itself suicidally into a lawnmower so as to bring an end to the overwhelming presence of the aesthetic of the aforementioned individual.

I write this because I’ve just seen Iron Man 3. And I’ve become utterly convinced that Shane Black is overwhelmingly addicted to c0caine.

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Re-Subscribing to Chaos Theory: Jurassic Park 20 Years Later (In 3D!)


While Jurassic Park is not the first movie I ever had the pleasure of viewing in theatres (more on that in a later article), it holds the distinction of being not only the first live action movie I was taken to see, but the movie that utterly transformed me into a full-fledged nerd. When I was but five years old, my mother told me that there would be a movie coming out in the summer that was about a theme park consisting of live dinosaurs. My little brain took off running, and I instantly took out every book I could find regarding dinosaur history, etymology, and paleontological studies, going so far as to give a lecture on dinosaurs both in my kindergarten class and at the Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting (church camp for Quakers). Needless to say, while I remain convinced to this day that I was a natural born lecturer from the age of six (my birthday happened before the movie was released), my classmates were less interested in the distinction between saurischian and ornithischian hip structures and more interested in Power Rangers, TMNT, and Battle Trolls. (That ought to date my coming of age properly.)

(Sidenote #1: This ability has never left me. One of my lab sciences, designed to fill out a liberal arts education centered around the double whammy of majors in Theatre: Acting/Directing and Film Studies, was the Geologic History of the Dinosaurs. A Wednesday tradition that semester was to hold court at the local Panera Bread, where I would orate about the differences between hadrosaur skull structures while my friends and colleagues devoured French onion soup. My main realization of those afternoon seminars is that not much has changed since I was in kindergarten, especially as I realized the most effective way of teaching the differences between dinos was to pretend to be one of the creatures we were studying and attack my friends until they could tell me five facts about what dinosaur I was supposed to be. But I digress.)

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In Memory of Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert was a tremendous film critic and is pretty easily the most well-known and beloved writer about film in American history. His death today after a long, very public, battle with cancer is a tremendous loss to the entire film community and we here at The Addison Recorder extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends. There have been a lot of tributes to him pouring in since the news of his passing broke this afternoon, and I wanted to whip something together that expressed how important Ebert was in my life. The thing is, I cannot begin to express the impact he had on me.
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A Plethora of Choices: A (Semi) Knee-Jerk Reaction to the 2012 Academy Awards


“Argo fuck yourselves” indeed.


“Do you want to be happy? I suspect that you do. Well, here’s the first step to happiness: Don’t get pissed off that people who aren’t you happen to think Paris Hilton is interesting and deserves to be on TV every other day; the fame surrounding Paris Hilton is not a reflection on your life (unless you want it to be). Don’t get pissed off because the Yeah Yeah Yeahs aren’t on the radio enough; you can buy the goddamn record and play “Maps” all goddamn day (if that’s what you want). Don’t get pissed off because people didn’t vote the way you voted; you knew this was a democracy when you agreed to participate, so you knew this was how things might work out. Basically, don’t get pissed off over the fact that the way you feel about culture isn’t some kind of universal consensus. Because if you do, you will end up feeling betrayed. And it will be your own fault. You will feel bad, and you will deserve it.” – “Cultural Betrayal”, Esquire 2005, Chuck Klosterman

Well, the Academy Awards happened on Sunday night (the 24th of February in the Year of Something or Other 2013), ostensibly celebrating the year in movies that was 2012. It was not a clean sweep, something that has become a little rarer in recent years, much like Bengal tigers and Bengals playoff visits. The last time I can think of where one movie solidly dominated the goings-on in Los Angeles was Return of the King in 2003. (Well, 2004, but it was a group of movies that were mostly released widespread in 2003. At least, in theaters in NY and LA near you.) Returning to last Sunday’s evening, we were treated to Daniel Day-Lewis turning into a stand-up comedian, tasteful musical numbers, tasteless musical numbers, show-stopping numbers and numbers that almost literally dragged the bloated carcass that is any awards behemoth into the ground. (Thank you, Les Mis, but it’s impossible for a bunch of mostly talented white people who seem otherwise charming to truly follow the awesomeness that erupted from Jennifer Hudson’s mouth. It’s almost institutionally unfair.)

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Alex’s Thought on the Cinema of 2012 Part One: Or, Argo is a Mediocre Thriller in the Guise of an “Important” Film and its Oscar Victory was Vapid Bullshit


I’ve been putting off summing up my experience of the year 2012 in cinema for a while now.  It just seems that I never see enough to really pass judgment on a year until 1/6th of the next one has passed. Part of that is just the general lethargy of me not seeing half of what I want to on time. But there’s also a big part of me that doesn’t want to write an article like this until I can bitch about the opinions of others, namely the voters of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. So I will get to my overall thoughts on the cinema of 2012 in a second article, first I have to get rid of my venom in this one.

In specific I want to tell you, dear readers, that the Academy gave its highest honor, the Oscar for Best Picture of the year to a film that is wholly undeserving of such praise. Now this is not an unusual occurrence. In the past ten years I have agreed with the Academy’s choice all of once, when the Coen Brothers won top honors for their 2007 Western/Noir/Existential Philosophy Think-piece No Country for Old Men. That’s not to say that I hate every Best Picture winner. I have absolutely no complaint with The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Departed, The Hurt Locker, or even The Artist winning it all. There were movies I preferred to all those films, but they are all good to great films that deserve to be seen and stood out against the films they competed against at the Oscars. That’s not something that I can say for Argo, the film that was named Best Picture of 2012. I know my esteemed editors here on The Addison Recorder have sung the praises of Ben Affleck’s Iran Hostage thriller in their own 2012 pieces, but my opinion runs rather dramatically counter to theirs.
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The Academy Awards Live Blog…by Andrew and Company


Sorry. that was just way too surprising.

The way Jack Nicholson says “Amour” is beautiful.

Argo wins Best Picture. Travis takes ten hard-earned dollars from me. And…I have no problem with this. There were three/four better movies this year, but this film is going to be studied better and more in years to come…and why is Kristen Stewart sitting behind Spielberg?…and Affleck, who does not get played off…I’m sorry, he is so humble, and he is an outstanding director who ranks with Bigelow…who wore the dress everyone should have worn tonight…

The final number: MacFarlane and Chenoweth sing about the losers. It’s very astounding that they never cut to the audience (who might be leaving) and I still think that Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty should have WAY MORE OSCARS than they did. But that’s for posterity.

Good night, everybody!
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