Saturday, January 16, 2016

Favorite Music of 2015

Music is my third passion, after my marriage and movies. It was cultivated through the years by many, but mostly by a few. For some years after college I abandoned it, but eventually it came back to me. It combined with my passion for movies to a degree that recently I’ve found myself including motion picture scores in with my favorite albums of each year. This year there were so many favorites of each, traditional albums and original motion picture soundtracks, that I decided to compile two favorite ten lists.

Even more so with music than with movies, it is impossible to hear everything that is released within a year’s time. This is why I avoid calling this a “top ten” list or a “best of” list. I could hardly claim these are the best of the lot. Not only is there too much material out there to make such a claim, but also each album and soundtrack score needs time to breathe. You need to spend time with them before you can claim to truly know them. I guess they’re like people that way. I think in the past that need to spend time with them has favored albums that were released earlier in the year. Those are the ones I got to spend the most time with. However, it seems this year I’ve bucked that trend and find more late-year albums on each list than I have in the past. This makes me feel I’ve done a better and fairer job of judging these albums than ever before.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Favorites of 2015

The time has come for yet another list from yet another fan of cinema. I do this every year and hope it does some of my readers good. By this time most people have already gotten their lists out. As such there is sometimes little new to be found in my contribution. Still, it was a rough year for the blog and most of these movies never got a review when I originally saw them. In fact, I believe this will be the first opinions of all but two of these films to be posted on my site at all.

As is usually the case, because of my limited resources being a blogger outside the Hollywood industry, I did not get to see all the movies I would’ve liked to consider for this list. Most notably missing are Todd Haynes’ “Carol” and Charlie Kaufman’s stop motion “Anomolisa”. I hope to see them before the Oscars are awarded in a little over a month.

That being said, I was able to see a greater amount of the contenders than normal this year despite the fact that I viewed far less movies than I usually do in a year. Thanks to a much greater availability of platforms than ever before, I was able to cull out most of the titles I felt I needed to see to compile this list and the result is that I found it very difficult to cut down my favorites, or even to put them in any sort of order. I’ve never had such a tight and interchangeable list of favorites before. I decided not to limit my list and have listed every four-star review I awarded this year. I have tried to place them in an order of very favorite to slightly less favorite. There are sections of this list that I could endlessly rearrange if I didn’t just force myself to post it. The margin of difference between the first film on the list and the last film is so narrow it hardly matters.

Monday, January 11, 2016

David Bowie 1947-2016

When Morgan Freeman joked during the Golden Globes last night that a long applause from the audience meant that they thought he would die soon, it occurred to me what a monumental loss that will be to the entertainment world when it actually occurs. Hopefully, it won’t happen for many years. Then, I woke up this morning to discover that David Bowie has passed from this world.

For a good deal of time I only had my initial, guttural reaction to the news. “What?!” I couldn’t think anything else but unspeakable shock about it for much of the morning. I don’t think I was in shock so much because of the surprise of the news, although I didn’t really see it coming. Perhaps the release of his new album on Friday lulled me to sleep on the possibility of his demise, but it really had never even occurred to me that he might be sick at any time in the future, let alone now. Was his 18-month battle with cancer public knowledge? I don’t remember hearing anything about it. But I don’t think my inability to process this loss has anything to do with the unexpected nature of it.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Video Thoughts--The Hateful Eight

Here's my first attempt at a quick video review. I'm not happy with it. It's a second take. I need to work on my screen presence, but it'll come. So here's a very brief impression immediately following my screening of "The Hateful Eight". Full length written review to follow.

Friday, January 01, 2016

A New Year in the Well

It’s been two whole months since I posted here. I never finished my Horrorfest entries. I even missed reviewing one of the biggest movies of my lifetime. 2015 was a year many people found to be a difficult one. A Penny in the Well was no exception. Family commitments forced The Well to take the most diminished role in film criticism I’ve taken since the inception of this site. I’m hoping 2016 will provide more opportunities to both see and comment on movies, television, music and other pop culture phenomenon.

I have grander plans for The Well over the next year, but it remains to be seen whether I will actually be able to implement some of my ambitions. It’s unlikely I will be able to return to daily reviews, however I will be tweeting reviews for every movie I see through my twitter handle @ydnasllew. I also hope to provide instant reviews through Twitter or Vine videos for any film I see in the theater. This will at least provide some sort of opinion on current releases should I fail to find the time to write full length reviews on them.

As has always been the case with The Well, I intend to write a full-length review for any film I see in theaters. 2015 was the first time since 2005 that I failed in this task. I don’t intend for that to happen again. I will also collect all the written Twitter reviews I write for every film in The Well on a regular basis for those who do not wish to engage in Twitter. I will continue the Criterion Thoughts feature that I started last year exploring all the titles in the Criterion catalogue. Again, these “thoughts” will not be outright reviews so much as impressions inspired by these remarkable films.

I finally caught up with the world of podcasting last year and have embraced several film-based podcasts that I listen to regularly. Listening to these shows has made me wonder if podcasts might really be where the future of film criticism lies. So, one of my more ambitious ideas for this year would be to start a film podcast. I have an idea or two as to just what my unique turn on the film podcast format might be, but we’ll keep that under wraps until I actually have the capacity to produce such an endeavor.

Finally, there is a project I’ve been planning for the past two years and I just haven’t been able to get it going. I’m hoping to publish a collection of my best reviews. I’d also like to publish a collection of reviews I wrote before I began the site, but that’s for later. Anyway, this project would be something I could never finance on my own, so I’ll probably be looking into some sort of crowd funding option. I have a likely publisher; it’s just a matter of figuring out costs and getting the campaign going. Keep an eye out for details right here in The Well.

So, here’s to a more fruitful year in 2016. I can’t wait to see the movies and share my thoughts. Stay tuned for my 2015 Favorites lists and what promises to be a unique new year in entertainment.