Sunday, January 4, 2009

:::: FILMS OF 2008 ::::


Andrey Zvyagintsev "The Banishment" (Russia)
Pedro Costa "Colossal Youth" (Portugal)
Roy Andersson "You, The Living" (Sweden)
Ari Folman "Waltz with Bashir" (Isreal)
Jia Zhang-Ke "Useless" (China)
Koji Wakamatsu "United Red Army" (Japan)
Gustavo Spolidoro "Still Orangutans" (Brazil)
Lou Ye "Summer Palace" (China)
Aditya Assarat "Wonderful Town" (Thailand)
Pen-Ek Ratanaruang "Ploy" (Thailand)
Carlos Reygadas "Silent Light" (Mexico)
Tomas Alfredson "Let the Right One In" (Sweden)
Patrick Tam "After This, Our Exile" (China)
Frederick Wiseman "34 Documentaries by Frederick Wiseman" -Rereleased (United States)
Apichatpong Weerasethakul "Luminous People / Emerald : Short Films Collection" (Thailand)
Alex Gibney "Taxi to the Dark Side" (United States)

Though not consistent enough to warrant whole-hearted inclusion in the list above, these two films
are deserving of a notable mention. Distinct for both their adherence and inventive deviation from their
respective genre-film traditions, they both, in distinctively differing ways, reinvented pop culture movie
storytelling and brought the audience along on fantastical rides:

Andrew Stanton/Pixar (For the first 35 minutes alone) "Wall-E" (United States)
Matt Reeves (Excluding the last 15 minutes) "Cloverfield" (United States)

Contrary to a lot of the impressions I've read of this past year in cinema, I've seen some of the finest quality
(and quantity) of film this year, in a way that exceeds the past few that I can recollect. All of which, with the
exception of 3 or so, where in the theatre and most of those exclusively in SIFF, not to return for a theatrical
run. Which strikes me as confounding and frustrating that so much good film never found distribution and as a
product, never found its audience.

That said, again this year, the unseen films by a few directors of note that never made it over here
distributed stateside. I suspect a number of these would have made the list, if I actually had a chance
to see them:

Matteo Garrone "Gomorra" (Italy)
Hayou Miyazaki "Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea" (Japan)
Laurent Cantet "The Class" (France)
Steven Soderbergh "Che" (United States)
Steve McQueen "The Hunger" (United Kingdom)
Jia Zhang-Ke "24 City" (China)
Nuri Bilge Ceylan "Three Monkeys" (Turkey)

Respect and appreciation again go out to the Northwest Film Forum and SIFF (both the festival and the
theatre) for bringing many of these to the states, and making Seattle one of the major cities in the country
for catching the best in global film as an aspect of our urban cultural experience!

:::: ALBUMS OF 2008 ::::


Bernard Parmegiani "L'oeuvre Musicale - Box Set" (INA-GRM)
Anthony Braxton/Milford Graves/William Parker "Beyond Quantum" (Tzadik)
Autechre "Quaristice (Versions)" (Warp UK)
Boris "Smile (Japanese Edition)" (DIW phalanx)
Hecker & Haswell/Mika Vanio "Popol Vuh Remix" (Mego)
V/A "Money Will Ruin Everything II" (Rune Grammofon)
Zeitkratzer "Electronics - Box Set" (Zeitkratzer)
Coh "Strings" (Raster-Noton)
FM3 "Buddha Machine II" (FM3)
KTL "IV" (Mego)
GAS "Nah Und Fern - Box Set" (Kompakt)
Stephan Mathieu "Radioland" (Die Schachtel)
Birchville Cat Motel "Seventh Ruined Hex" (Important)
Skullflower "Circulus Vitiosus Deus" (Turgid Animal)
Jasper TX "Black Sleep" (Miasmah)

Continuing from the films list above... like cinema, the year in sounds there was the curious repeat theme;
2008 was a year for diggers. Wherein, even 'established' acts like Autechre and Boris released their best work
in editions which were never distributed beyond their country of origin. The Japanese version of Boris' "Smile"
and Autechre's audacious "Quaristice - Special Edition" respectively... and all the while more obscure out-there
sounds continue to be released in editions of 300 (Skullflower) and 1000 (Stephan Mathieu) which in both cases
never reached large portions of their audience before becoming unavailable. So, be glad for mp3 blogs!

Overall again, this was another pretty darn explorative year in sound. There were many works that took the
ears to exciting places that did so in distinct, expressive and adventurous ways. In particular appearing again
in the strange crossroads where Modern Classical, Musique Concrete, Improv, Metal, 'Noise' and academic
Avant traditions all meet. Some of these were even witnessed out in the world in a 3rd Dimension kind of
way, performed live, loud and vital.


Alva Noto / Frank Breatschnieder / Olaf Bender - SFAI - San Francisco
Boredoms - Neumos - Seattle
Boris - Neumos - Seattle
My Bloody Valentine - Concourse - San Francisco
Asunder - Neumos - Seattle
Autechre - Neumos - Seattle
The Bug - Decibel Fest - Seattle

As an aside, once again this year Dubstep & Grime replaced Hip Hop as my musical candy/junkfood of
choice, offering a nutrition-less but tasty counter to the more brainy culinary type sounds listed above -
and an ideal soundtrack to public transportation in the urban 'scape:

V/A "'Steppas Delight : Dubstep Present & Future" (SoulJazz)
Goth-Trad "Genesis" (SoulJazz)
V/A "Skull Disco : Soundboy's Gravestone Gets Desecrated by Vandals" (Skull Disco)
The Bug "London Zoo" (Ninja Tune)
Plastician "Rinse Mix : Volume 6" (Rinse FM)
Roots Manuva "Slime & Reason" (Big Dada)
V/A "An England Story : From Dancehall to Grime - 25 Years of the MC in the UK" (SoulJazz)

Didn't travel this year to see art openings quite as much as previous years, so those didn't amount
to enough to make a separate list of VISUAL ART, but great exhibits were seen throughout the year at:

Lawrimore Project
Western Bridge Gallery
Frye Art Museum
Henry Art Gallery

...And lets not forget the most important event in arts / culture / politics here in usamerica this past
year, took place on the night of Nov. 4th!