2013 Archives - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
5Jan/201

Forever connected: a comprehensive list of the best and worst films of the decade

I am not a fan of lists, and when I decided to do a list covering the best and worst films of the last decade it became clear that I needed to do the whole thing or none at all.

With that in mind, here it is, a comprehensive list of the best and worst films of the decade. This list covers 2010 to 2019 and, starting from the top, goes from the best on down. Each section is broken up with an image of reviews that reflect my best as a writer or a film that has earned special consideration of some kind.

The exception are my picks for the two best films of the decade, tied at #1, and a brief explanation about why they are at the top. After that, I hope that you'll join me through this decade of writing and growth. I've had stumbles, to say nothing of trying to figure out my voice, and haven't been able to review much recently. But I'm hoping to change and get back on my feet again starting with this overview of the last decade in film.

Let's begin at the top.

Our always-connected age means that we are more directly in contact with one another's feelings than ever before. It's overwhelming. One minute you could be happily watching a puppy play in snow then scroll down to find live camera footage of someone being killed. Scroll further and you'll see someone trying to sell you hair grooming products then further down a friend talking about the crippling pain they live with. It's overwhelming trying to figure out what to do with yourself amidst this never ending deluge of feeling. Good, bad, elated, traumatic - if you want to live in this world there's no way of turning it off anymore.

The best two films of the decade both confront what it's like to live in our always-connected age but take vastly different approaches. Shane Carruth and Amy Seimetz's Upstream Color approaches our connection with experimentation and uncertainty. Zack and Deborah Snyder's Man of Steel mythologizes the open nerve of connection with grandeur and spirituality. Upstream Color is the angrier of the two, seeing those that would profit on our pain as aloof emotional vampires. Man of Steel is the more hopeful, watching the savior we don't deserve experience the worst of humanity while still finding the strength to go on by our ability to sacrifice for one another.

It feels impossible to discuss these two films in some kind of neutral state. In Upstream Color's case, the film has so few that have seen it and those that have struggle to find the words for the pain it so directly confronts. For Man of Steel, passions between what it did or didn't do to the legacy of Superman have become so embedded in neverending cultural and political warfare. Neither benefits from languishing in relative obscurity or being the cultural battleground for online liberals and conservatives alike.

Both have exquisite music that highlight our connection while confounding it. Upstream Color's melodies shying away from catharsis as one of Carruth's messy tracks bleeds into the next. Man of Steel never shies away from hope, finding the note to soar even in the most militant-sounding of Hans Zimmerman's compositions. One might seem sonic years away from the other, but in each I hear the same yearning to be felt and touched. To be reminded that what we feel is not what makes us alone.

The images match their conclusions. In Upstream Color, two people huddled in fear that don't understand their connection grow to accept the mystery, and one another, while they reach beyond species to comfort all living things. In Man of Steel, the scared boy who doesn't understand why his sacrifice frightens others grows to draw strength from that sacrifice as he inspires the best in his fellow humans. We are always connected and, many times, we are scared. But there is hope at the end of that painful connection.

Let their examples guide us. Do not accept the vultures that seek to profit off of your misery. Do not accept those in power who would deny the possibility of a messiah because they weren't born in your homeland. Accept that we are all that we are and, even if it doesn't feel like it, we have the capability of inspiring the best of one another in our darkest moments.

The Best

Great

Good

Zone of Indifference

Bad

Wretched

1Mar/180

Actual Sunlight (2013)

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If this is your first time reading Pixels in Praxis or are averse to spoilers, check out our FAQ before proceeding.

Around this time a year ago, I was on a special kind of antidepressant that accelerates the effects of the three antidepressants I was already on.  It's easier for me to joke about now (accelerating an antidepressant feels like a contradiction in terms), but at the time I was either sleeping or dealing with massive headaches as I got used to the medication.  A year before that, I was struggling to keep my dignity while taking samples of my feces for a medical test.  The year before that, I was crying at work because I could barely keep my impulse to throw my computer and scream at length.  Thankfully, a coworker saw me as I tried to leave quietly and could tell how terribly I was doing, and my therapy started two weeks from that point.

I had a breaking point with my depression cocktail (depression, anxiety, and PTSD) that made me uncomfortably close with Actual SunlightSo close I had nearly direct parallels to everything that happens.  Quit a job because of a girl?  Yup, I ended my theater job shortly after my girlfriend there broke up with me.  Seething loneliness in my apartment?  Been there too, though I call it "getting existential in the shower."  Breaking all the things I thought were weighing me down?  Stupidly so, after a horrible few weeks involving losing my promotion, getting walking pneumonia, and a different girlfriend of then a few years I sold off all my videogames and anything "nerd" related.  Member of the Something Awful forums?  "I am protected."

15Sep/170

The Shivah: Kosher Edition (2013)

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If this is your first time reading Pixels in Praxis or are averse to spoilers, check out our FAQ before proceeding.

There are two questions guiding the gameplay of The Shivah: Kosher Edition (TS:KE moving forward), the remake of the 2006 adventure game The Shivah.  First question, "Why would former synagogue member Jack Lauder leave Rabbi Russell Stone money in his will?"  The second, "Who killed Jack Lauder and why?"  That first question, which has grave implications for who Rabbi Stone is as a person, forms the intriguing web of long-held grudges and questions about the usefulness of faith in initial acts of TS:KE.  The second question brings TS:KE to the sort of bog-standard conspiracy thriller that feels out-of-place in the grounded struggle with faith that comes before.

While TS:KE is grappling with the first question it's excellent.  I was raised on a steady diet of Sierra adventure games with their varying degrees of punishment for using specific items or information in ways that would prevent a no-win state.  TS:KE is considerably more forgiving than those poorly aging titles, and - to my surprise - if you're studious in surveying the information and items available then you can solve the mystery using logical connections made through one of TS:KE's great investigative gameplay tools.

13Apr/170

Changing Reels Episode 14 – Upstream Color

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In episode 14 of Changing Reels, we dive into Shane Carruth’s experimental science fiction drama Upstream Color. The film is a love story revolving around two individuals who find themselves inexplicably drawn together after being the victim of an unthinkable crime. Exploring themes of memory and identity, and featuring brilliant sound design, there is plenty to discuss in this film. As is custom, we also take a few minutes to highlight our two short film picks of the week: Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi’s Giant God Warrior Appears in Tokyo and Alberto Roldán’s Everything & Everything & Everything.

Show Notes:

  • 5:22 – Giant God Warrior Appears In Tokyo by Shinji Higuchi
  • 15:43 – Everything and Everything and Everything by Alberto Roldán
  • 26:09 – Upstream Color by Shane Carruth

If you like what you hear, or want to offer some constructive criticism, please take a moment to rate our show on iTunes! If you have a comment on this episode, or want to suggest a film for us to discuss, feel free to contact us via twitter (@ChangingReelsAC), follow us on Facebook and reach out to us by email (Changing.Reels.AC@gmail.com). You can also hear our show on SoundCloud or Stitcher!

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29Mar/170

Changing Reels Episode 5 – The Bling Ring

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It can be argued that Sofia Coppola is easily one of the most respected female directors of this generation.  Growing up within the film industry, it is no surprise that many of her films touch on themes regarding the nature of fame.  In episode five of Changing Reels we weigh the merits of The Bling Ring, Coppola’s 2013 ripped from the headlines film about celebrity obsessed teens whose love of fame leads to them stealing from the very same stars they adore.  We also discuss our short films picks of the week:  Hiro Murai’s Clapping for the Wrong Reasons and David Raboy’s The Giant.

You can subscribe and rate our show on both iTunes or Stitcher!

Show notes:

  • 1:22 – Clapping for the Wrong Reasons by Hiro Murai
  • 10:05 – The Giant by David Raboy
  • 22:13 – The Bling Ring by Sofia Coppola

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