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The Soderbergh List: 2014

Around 2011, inspired by Steven Soderbergh, I started keeping track of notable works I read or watched. Here’s my list from 2014. I left a lot off, because a lot wasn’t notable. I didn’t include magazines or longer web reads Suffice to say I enjoyed all the stuff on this list because I don’t finish things I don’t enjoy, unless I’m forced to give criticism of them (which I did rarely last year).

Can you tell I wrote a book from January to July, and moved across the country in September? (Hint: I had a lot of movies to catch up on to relax.)

All caps, bold: MOVIE
All caps: TV SERIES
Italics: Book
Quotation marks: “Play”
Italics, bold: Comic
*: Re-read

 

1/1, FARGO

1/4, BREAKING BAD (S1-6)

1/5, SAY ANYTHING, HANNA

1/8, BOYS FROM BRAZIL

1/9, The John McPhee Reader, John McPhee

1/11, ARCHER (S1, E1-3); PORTLANDIA (S2, E3-6)

1/17, SALINGER

1/30, Dreaming in Code, Scott Rosenberg

2/4, 97 Things Every Programmer Should Know, Kevlin Henney

2/15, The Boy Kings, Katherine Losse

2/17, GAME OF THRONES (S1)

3/24, “Ice,” Thomas McGuane

3/24, “The School,” Donald Barthelme

3/24, “Game,” Donald Barthelme

3/26, WORLD WAR Z

3/28, THE COUNSELOR

3/28, THE END OF THE WORLD

 3/29, GAME OF THRONES (S2)

4/4, “Shakespeare’s Memory,” Jorge Luis Borges

4/20, FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF*

4/22, The Tyranny of Numbers: Why Counting Can’t Make Us Happy, David Boyle

5/1, LONE SURVIVOR

5/22, The Ballad of Dingus Magee, David Markson

5/26, GAME OF THRONES (S3)

5/27, Rude Kids: The Inside Story of Viz, Chris Donald

6/11, Sex Criminals, Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

6/13, Foucault’s Pendulum, Umberto Eco

7/25, JODOROWSKY’S DUNE

7/29, TINY: A STORY ABOUT LIVING SMALL

7/31, CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER

8/5, The Wicked + The Divine

8/16, Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace

8/23, CHARIOTS OF THE GODS

8/23, SONATINE

8/23, MY LEFT FOOT

8/24, THE GODFATHER

10/04, HER

10/04, JFK

10/10, SNOWPIERCER

10/10, THE LEGO MOVIE

10/10, BROKEN FLOWERS

10/26, EDGE OF TOMORROW

10/26, MONUMENTS MEN

10/26, LA GRANDE BELLEZZA

10/31, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

10/31, DALLAS BUYERS CLUB

10/31, VEEP S3

10/31, DON JON

11/1, BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR

11/2, Trout Bum, John Gierach

11/5, Vanishing Point, David Markson

11/9, AKIRA*

11/18, X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE

11/18, Lee Kuan Yew: The Gran Master’s Insights on China, the United States and the World, Allison and Blackwill

11/19, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS

 11/24, Wool Omnibus, Hugh Howey

 11/25, The Third Policeman, Flann O’Brien

 11/28, HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE

 12/6 DIE HARD*

 12/12 LOST IN TRANSLATION*

12/12 ELF*

12/12 ANCHORMAN 2

12/26 IN A WORLD

 

Written by Nick

January 30th, 2015 at 10:47 am

2013 Media Consumption

Around 2011, inspired by Steven Soderbergh, I started keeping track of notable works I read or watched. Here’s my list from 2013. I left a lot off, because a lot wasn’t notable. I didn’t include magazines or longer short reads (ie short stories not part of a collection) because that’s turned out to be  too much notation for me. Suffice to say I enjoyed all the stuff on this list because I don’t finish things I don’t enjoy, unless I’m forced to give criticism of them (which I did rarely last year).

All caps, bold: MOVIE
All caps: TV SERIES
Italics: Book
Quotation marks: “Play”
*: Re-read

 

1/1, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN

1/15, The Orphan Master’s Son, Adam Johnson

1/18, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

1/19, FOREIGN INTRIGUE (1956)

1/20, TERMINATOR*

2/7, KLF: Chaos, Magic, Music, Money, JMR Higgs

2/9, JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI (2011)

2/10, Wittgenstein’s Mistress, David Markson

2/11, Blank Spots on the Map, Trevor Paglen

2/15, KLOWN (2010)

2/17, The Fish’s Eye, Ian Frazier

2/20, “The Cripple of Inishmaan”, Martin McDonagh

2/23, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Phillip K. Dick*

2/26, THE LONG GOODBYE* & PRIMER*

3/2, KNIVES INTO FORKS

3/3, A Governor’s Story, Jennifer Granholm and Dan Mulhern

3/6, Diary of a Superfluous Man, Ivan Turgenev

3/9, Endgame, Derrick Jensen

3/12, Good News, Edward Abbey

3/15, Earth House Hold, Gary Snyder

3/31, SPRING BREAKERS

4/9, The Long Loneliness, Dorothy Day

4/12, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery

4/20, Friends of Eddie Coyle, George V. Higgins

4/21, STAND CLEAR OF THE CLOSING DOORS

5/11, Going Down, David Markson

5/19, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, David Sedaris

5/26, Capital, John Lanchester

6/14, BEHIND THE CANDELABRA

6/15, Crow, Ted Hughes

6/15, SENNA*

7/26, The Shape of Content, Ben Shahn

8/10, Collected Stories, Richard Ford

8/14, I, Partridge, Alan Partridge

8/14, THE SHOUT

8/24, Fire in the Hole, Elmore Leonard

8/28, Pronto, Elmore Leonard

9/5, Riding the Rap, Elmore Leonard

9/7, UPSTREAM COLOR

9/9, DJANGO UNCHAINED

9/11, PACIFIC RIM

9/13, The Human Front, Ken Macleod

9/13, ELYSIUM

9/15, Consolations of the Forest, Sylvain Tesson

9/17, Changing the World is the Only Fit Work For a Grown Man, Steve Harrison

10/3, ANDROMEDA STRAIN*

10/6, La Place de la Concorde Suisse, John McPhee

10/31, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST

11/2, ROOM 237

11/4, The Vagrants, Yiyun Li

12/2, Short Stories of Jack London: Authorized One-Volume Edition, Jack London

12/8, The Red Men, Matthew DeAbaitua

12/14, My Traitor’s Heart, Rian Malan

12/14 DOWNFALL

12/25, QUEEN OF VERSAILLES

12/26, HAPPY PEOPLE

12/28, DREDD

Written by Nick

January 2nd, 2014 at 10:52 am

Jonathan Glazer’s Newest, Under the Skin

I really hope Jonathan Glazer follows in Neill Blomkamp’s footsteps1 and brings his special breed of moodiness evolved through ads and music video to tangential future scenarios. Under the Skin is described on IMDB as “An alien in human form is on a journey through Scotland.”

The inimitable Ben just dug out his canned Flake ad which I’m glad to see is still online. I remember frantically saving the source when it came out and have been showing it to folks we work with at Kraft / Mondelez as an example of something envelope-pushing, dramatic stuff that at least got partially made through previous incarnations of their organization. Lovely. Someone out there wants to make more of this stuff, right? A guy can dream?

Flake – Jonathan Glazer from David Nichols on Vimeo.

  1. For my money, Neill’s slightly dingy, surveillance state aesthetic is the best one going in contemporary sci-fi. I talked to him about it way back in ’07. []

Written by Nick

September 2nd, 2013 at 7:29 pm

Things I Finished #1

In reverence to a tradition embraced by Jesse Schell and supported by Matt Webb, here’s the first of an ongoing series of posts titled ‘Things I Finished’, a kind of catch-all for media bits that took some effort and are worth mentioning.

Stories of Your Life: and Others, by Ted Chiang
I’d read a lot of Chiang’s stuff online, and finally picked this up to get through the last two I hadn’t seen, “Stories of Your Life” and “Understand”. Both didn’t disappoint. Chiang has a way of developing complete, convincing characters and worlds in a very compressed period of time, which makes it feel like he stretches the space of his stories. I’m excited to dig into his novella, The Lifecycle of Software Objects, as soon as the library delivers it to me.

Broker, Trader, Lawyer, Spy: The Secret World of Corporate Espionage, by Eamon Javers
I was hoping this would be a little less mass-market, which sounds kind of stuck-up, but there it is. Javers details how private security and detectives have turned into freelance spooks and ex-Federal agents working in shadowy Washington corridors on behalf of any and all interested customer, securing all sorts of valuable information at whatever price. Very interesting stuff, yes, and a difficult world to get access to, but I was hoping there’d be more nuts and bolts attached, that he’d get into those corridors to figure out how these guys do their jobs.1

True Grit
I’m way behind on Oscars viewing, but wanted to get this one out of the way while it was still in theaters. As always, the Coens know how to write dialogue, but I felt some of the thematic elements were a bit unformed, for instance the snake motifs.

  1. Meanwhile, back in Washington, the Anonymous/HBGary thing has stirred up a whole pot of shit, with the relationships Javers describes in the book exposed. We’ll see what Javers has to say–he seems to be stuck on Wall Street at the moment. []

Written by Nick

February 9th, 2011 at 11:38 pm

VidPik! A Letter From Brooklyn

About a month ago a forwarded email arrived.

It was so staggering, actions were forced.

The note, laden in artistic pronouncements and full-of-itselfness, begged for an extension; a dramatic reading was considered, but it turned out only a full video could to the thing justice. After all, a 1500-word yearly update email sent to dozens of people deserves the highest degree of satire you can muster.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m an earnest man. But even sincerity, in extreme, is funny as hell. (Viz. Kenneth on 30 Rock.)

Who was the sender? An unknown personage, but clearly a modern-day Benjamin Franklin, part writer, part political organizer, all full of Brooklyn potential and privilege and so indicative of our generation’s rampaging self-importance.

We christened him Eric Anton Schechter-Oblomov; this is his yearly update, verbatim, brought to life as best we could.


A Letter From Brooklyn from Eric Anton Schechter-Oblomov on Vimeo.

Read the original email

Written by Nick

March 29th, 2009 at 6:38 pm

Gomorrah’s Woes

gomorrah locale

I’ve been anticipating the movie adaptation of Roberto Saviano’s landmark piece of journalism, Gomorrah, since I finished the book about a year ago and proceeded to recommend it to anyone who’d listen. Unfortunately, while it’s a good enough movie by itself, compared to the book it falls short.

First, a word or two on the book. Saviano, a native of the Naples area, lived and breathed the Camorra, the network of clans of organized criminals growing up, and after twenty-something years had enough and wrote a blow-by-blow account of all the different ways it infects the region, from its fashion output to the mozzarella it eats.  Saviano, who narrates the book while hopping from murder scene to murder scene on his scooter and detailing his own family’s determined path around the muck, published the work to the dual accolades of it becoming the most-requested tome in the Italian prison system as well as drawing death threats from the clans whose foibles and excesses it chronicles. And it made him a very rich, well known (both deservedly so) man, at the price of his own safety and freedom–a true commitment to the cause.

What's wrong with the movie?

Written by Nick

February 16th, 2009 at 11:20 pm

Posted in Books,Movies

RIP, Patrick McGoohan

Farewell to an enormously influential writer-actor, Patrick McGoohan, who is reported to have died in Los Angeles yesterday at age 80.

I had been planning to post about AMC releasing all of the episodes of The Prisoner for online consumption, but unfortunately that news comes with this much sadder notification of McGoohan’s passing.

True screen icons are diminishing, I think, and he carried the torch. McGoohan was a forceful actor and brilliant mind–don’t forget, came up with the concept for the show and wrote and directed many episodes. As comparable as someone like JJ Abrams is in the latter, Abrams certainly doesn’t have the acting chops.

If you haven’t watched The Prisoner, take a rainy Sunday and loaf in front of the screen and watch at the AMC site. They’re preparing some sort of remake, which will be interesting.

Written by Nick

January 14th, 2009 at 3:30 pm

Posted in Movies,TV

Michigan’s Digital Production Divide

All this looks like small beer compared to the meltdown here on Wall Street this month, but I was back in Michigan over Labor Day and found myself thinking the state’s huge production incentives program isn’t being fully utilized.

Up North, things are particularly bleak. In the town where my parents stay, Boyne City, 95 people started Labor Day weekend with a pink slip, as LexaMar, one of the biggest corporations in the town of 3500 laid them off on Friday. It made small talk everywhere, downtown, strolling past the classic cars on display, at the police-sponsored drag race at the city airstrip, another midsized manufacturer slicing off jobs as the economy expels another ragged breath.

The one point of light in a state with its biggest industry, automobiles, breaking down, is film production. It’s exceptionally cheap to shoot anything in Michigan right now, and that has ushered in the closest thing to a business renaissance the region has seen in years, at least the latest Band-Aid to create an economic buffer around the doomed car business, like Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s Automation Alley plan that began about a decade ago.
Read more about Michigan's Film Incentives and digital production

Written by Nick

September 20th, 2008 at 2:25 pm

Pineapple Upside Down

True providence (well, an invite from a production company) got me into a preview of Pineapple Express Thursday night at BAM, complete with a Q&A afterwards from David Gordon Green. It was a funny film; it felt like the Rogen-Apatow-McBride-DGG bloc is evolving a tiny amount past previous milestones from each of them, pushing screwball, farce improv comedy a little further out onto the gangplank. Things in PE get pretty absurd, but it’s OK when they do. As the wheels come off, you’re reminded its a chummy bunch of funny guys who have tens of millions of dollars to make something that’ll hold ground at the box office for a few weeks and have a shedload of extra stuff on the DVD. Or, as Green explained the wild climax, “it only works because everything is building to such absurdity.”

Not to give the impression it isn’t a funny movie; its hilarious. I don’t bust out laughing that easily at the novies but by the end even small weird utterances and movements from characters had me giggling.

Spoiler alert: they smoke a ton of weed in the movie. Green revealed afterward it was some herb used as a substitute, and despite it tasting terrible “it was addictive.” They actually had a Technical Consultant who was a pot grower licensed by the state of California. He appeared, along with the postproduction supervisor, as a guy buying dope off Franco. The grower is the one with the rat tail.

Another interesting revelation was how much improv was used. At the end, there’s a Boy what an adventure!-type diner scene, which Green said was all improvised. He wound up cutting five different versions, testing them all in different L.A. neighborhoods and adding stuff that did unexpectedly well into a final cut.

A few more bullet-pointy notes:

DGG is working on remaking Suspiria, the Dario Argento classic, with Christof Gebert, the sound mixer he frequently works with.

Originally Seth Rogan and James Franco had opposite roles.

James Franco gashed his head badly during one slapstick scene and needed stitches in his forehead; they had to shoot him with a headband or from behind for the next week or so.

Huey Lewis wasn’t the first choice for the Pineapple Express theme song; the guys wanted Ray Parker, Jr. But there was prior litigation between Parker, Jr. and studio Columbia that killed the idea.

Danny McBride’s shitty clothes and weird wardrobe is payback for Green agreeing to do a nude scene when the two were in film school together.

Written by Nick

July 26th, 2008 at 1:12 am

Posted in Movies