Friday, January 27, 2012

BEST MOVIES & TV: 2011










FAVORITE MOVIES:



EROS





-THE ARTIST (France) ↑
When the only thing one should say is, "I love you."

-CIRCUMSTANCE (Iran)
Two women in love, and the Morality Police who can't handle it.

-CHICO AND RITA (Spain/U.K.)
Moved me to tears.





THINK





-THE KING'S SPEECH (U.K.)
A film about stammering told with impeccable timing. Razor-sharp cast, moving story.

-FOR COLORED GIRLS
Tough to adapt a poetic play. This is like an ensemble song cycle: some swagger notes are a bit stagey, but all the pain notes are devastatingly true.

-TRUE GRIT
A gripping story well-acted, with raw poetic dialogue so great you'd watch it again just to savor it.

-NORWEGIAN WOOD (Japan)
Elegant and bittersweet. Reject death, embrace life.

-THE TREE OF LIFE
The big picture, the little things. Love your life while it's happening.

-DRIVE
Cruises mostly on pure style, like the best film Michael Mann might've made in 1986.

-ONE DAY
Mixed feelings on the story structure, but Anne Hathaway was terrific.

-THE DEBT
Good thriller, great cast.

-THE HELP
The Civil Rights movement is too big to expect one film to carry it. Taken for its own merits of telling a part of that story, this film is generally strong, if sometimes mawkish or soft, with great performances from Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. If its massive success encourages people to learn more, then all the better.

To go further, make sure to watch the best non-fiction series ever made for television,
"Eyes On The Prize: America's Civil Rights Years 1954-1965"

-A SEPARATION (Iran)
Distressed people at the mercy of bad luck, and the fundamentalist regime that makes it worse. Emotionally grueling, complex, and riveting, and worth every minute of it.

*****The more I think about it, the more this seems to be the best film of the year for me.

-THE WOMAN KNIGHT OF MIRROR LAKE (China/Hong Kong)
In early 1900's China, a badass woman leads a revolution against repression with smarts, poetry, and martial arts. Count me in.
(Based on the true story of Qui JIn.)

-MARGIN CALL
An ensemble piece about the 2008 financial meltdown viewed through one company.

-THE IDES OF MARCH
When idealism collides with ambition.

-KINYARWANDA (Rwanda/U.S.)
Powerful expose on the Rwandan genocide.

-THE FLOWERS OF WAR (China)
Every film by Zhang Yimou is automatic viewing. This is a grittier take on his theme of championing humanity in the face of repression.

-A DANGEROUS METHOD
Freud vs. Jung and the woman between. Mortensen and Fassbender are low-key great, but Keira Knightley steals it with a truly brave performance.

-THE KID WITH THE BIKE (France)
A touching story of a kid with an unyielding spirit.

-THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (U.S.)
Telling the same good story again, just as well as the Swedish film and with added dimensions.

-TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY
A Swedish director ("Let The Right One In") remakes the quintessential British spy games story, with brilliant success. Understated, fiendishly complex, period perfect.

-HUGO
A beautiful love letter to early film and classic books. Sweet, inspiring.





SMILE





-WIN WIN
Nice character play, astute details.

-PAUL
A little soft, but carried by Kristen Wiig and some clever in-jokes.

-ELEKTRA LUXX
The sequel to WOMEN IN TROUBLE by Sebastien Gutierrez, the L.A. answer to Almodovar. Carla Gugino is always excellent.

-GIRL WALKS INTO A BAR
Another Sebastien Gutierrez film, an interlocking comedy of errors.

-CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE
Could have been another Six Whiteys movie for the mallburbs, but there's enough touching scenes and manic surprises to elevate it. Good moments from Julianne Moore, Marisa Tomei, and Emma Stone.

-MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
A fun story beautifully shot, with a legendary cast of characters.

-THE MUPPETS
"Yes! The third greatest gift ever!"

-TURN ME ON, DAMMIT! (Norway)
A teen girl navigating between puberty and identity; a smart film with deft characters and a sly heart.






DREAM






-THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU
A 'Twilight Zone' premise underlined by romance.

-SOURCE CODE
Taut, engaging, twisty. From the director of MOON, Duncan Jones.

-LOVE
MOON was a fine complement to 2001 and SOLARIS. This finely-crafted indie is another.

-HAUNTERS (S. Korea)
The bridge between UNBREAKABLE and PUSH. Sharply made, great characters, constant surprises, a rousing finish.

-SUPER 8
J.J Abrams brings it all full circle with this mysterious and tender homage to the 1977-1982 sci-fi movies that ignited everything since.

-HARRY POTTER And the Deathly Hallows, Part II
The craft of director David Yates has been exponentially impressive for the final three films.

-ANOTHER EARTH
A carefully etched character drama. The soulful silences are enriched by the breakout star (and co-writer/co-producer), Brit Marling.

-RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
On the surface, a 'popcorn flick'. Underneath, a deeply clever prequel to the original 1968 film.





NIGHTMARE





-BLACK SWAN
Darren Aronofsky's companion piece to THE WRESTLER. They are essentially the same story, exposing the traps and pitfalls of enforced gender roles.

-ATTACK THE BLOCK (U.K.)
One of those great debuts that transcends 'b-movie' into first-rate.

-THE THING [new prequel] ↑
John Carpenter's 1982 film was ignored on release and trashed by critics. It found its cult audience later on cable and video, and now is recognized as a classic cast-driven thriller.
And so will this one eventually, as perfectly dovetailed a prequel as has yet been made.

-APOLLO 18
Impressive debut delivering a great deal from deep constraints.

-BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW
Mainly for the vibe and craft, which recaptures the chilly vibe and stunning shots from early 70's-early 80's arthouse SF and Horror perfectly.

-ABSENTIA
When you have no money, tell a gripping story with a good cast, directed well.

-MARY MARCY MAY MARLENE
A nuanced psychological antidote to 'shock-and-chop' films, with great leads in Elizabeth Olsen and Sarah Paulson.

-THE SKIN I LIVE IN (Spain)
No means no.





GRAPHIC IMAGES





-SUPER
A bent Indie comedy take on what would really happen if you tried to be a superhero, featuring an unhinged Ellen Page.

-THOR
Kenneth Branagh really went for it all. The Earth stuff was a little rushed, but Asgard was glorious.

-CAPTAIN AMERICA
A refreshing surprise. No irony, no jingoism, just a great Pulp adventure homage with all the right instincts.

-GRIFF THE INVISIBLE (Austrailia)
A modest take on homemade superheroes, with an engaging romance and some twists.

-BATMAN: Year One
An anime take on the classic Frank Miller/David Mazzucchelli origin.

-The Extraordinary Adventures Of ADELE BLANC-SEC (France)
The grumbling adventurer gets a fine film treatment of her illustrated exploits by Luc Besson.

-The Adventures Of TINTIN
Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson wed artist Herge's clean-line world and rich plots to 3D realism, noir lighting, and Hitchcock angles...and pull it off spectacularly. A breathtaking avalanche of smart fun.





ARTFLIX





-CHICO AND RITA (Spain/U.K.) ↑
Beautiful to watch, to listen to, and to feel. Wonderful.

-THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN
It isn't the 3D 'realism' that makes this come to life; it's the faithfulness to the canny plots, crafty heroes, and slapstick ballet of Herge's timeless books that gives it such spirit.

-RANGO
Excellent and mediocre at the same time. Baffling. The craft and sequences are inspired, the dialogue and plot strangely uneven. The finale sold me.

-A CAT IN PARIS (France)
A joy to watch, in style, story, and score. Just gets better and better as it goes.

-THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY (Japan)
Another gem from Studio Ghibli, this charming tale of miniature people is a winner all around. Smart, heart, art.








FAVORITE DOCUMENTARIES:



-REVENGE OF THE ELECTRIC CAR
The sequel to the great 'WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR?'

-PROHIBITION
The dangers of zealous lobbies and capitalist corruption...

Watch it free here.

-WOMEN, WAR, AND PEACE
Death leaves the wound that never heals.

Watch it free here.

-WE WERE HERE
The shadow of death unleashes compassion and love of life.

-FREEDOM RIDERS
Young people with compassion can change the world for the better.

Watch it free here.

-THE BLACK POWER MIXTAPE 1967-1975
All power to the people!

-THE INTERRUPTERS
The real war is at home, where racism and poverty doom communities to destroy themselves.

Watch it free here.


-GRANT MORRISON: Talking With Gods
Grand writer holds forth.

-WOODY ALLEN: American Masters
The Perpetual Motion Picture Machine, on the couch.

-GEORGE HARRISON: Living In The Material World
The great spirit who happened to be in the greatest band.








FAVORITE TV:



DRAMA





-THE KILLING
The expansive remake of the Danish series FORBRYDELSEN, with richer character and new directions. (And a healthy dose of TWIN PEAKS.)

-BOARDWALK EMPIRE
Basically the roots of THE SOPRANOS and THE WIRE. At its best, an allegory of the corrupt politics and social repressions of today.

-TREME
By the makers of THE WIRE (a.k.a., the greatest television show ever made).
What are you waiting for?





WONDER





-GAME OF THRONES
Only 5% of this is 'Fantasy'. The other 95% is the best character drama about court intrigue one could imagine.

-THE WALKING DEAD
I like it enough, while others love it. It's playing one note pretty well.

-FRINGE
X-FILES never paid-off any of its set-ups well. FRINGE always does, in an unwinding tapestry that only gets better as it goes.





UK





-DOCTOR WHO
They caught lightning in a bottle again casting Matt Smith. This second season is less focused and more chaotic, but he stitches it together.

-TORCHWOOD: Miracle Day
Sprawling, ambitious. Too many great notes in the symphony to be sniffed at.

-MISFITS
The Sex Pistols of 'superheroes'. Sacrilegious and hilarious.

Watch it free here.

-SHERLOCK
The only Sherlock Holmes that matters, alive on today's streets. A marvel to watch.

-THE FADES
A supernatural thriller, with pop culture in-jokes galore.

-DOWNTON ABBEY
At the height, a layered look at class relations in transition. At the base, a smart Soap.

-THE HOUR
The dawn of tough investigative journalism in repressed 50's Britain. An amazing pilot episode propelled the strong new series.

-BLACK MIRROR
Rod Serling now. Excellent and essential.





COMEDY



-ENLIGHTENED
A star turn for Laura Dern, playing a fragile light surrounded by black holes.

-30 ROCK

-PARKS AND RECREATION



-THE DAILY SHOW, With Jon Stewart
The real News ridiculing the fake News.

-THE STEPHEN COLBERT REPORT
Ditto.





ANIMATION



-FUTURAMA
Hey...It's Futurama!

-BATMAN: BRAVE AND THE BOLD
A love letter to the Silver Age Of Comics. Fun, wonder, and impossible non-sequiters.





VIDEO BOX SETS




-DRAGON TATTOO Trilogy: Extended Edition (Sweden) ↑

I love the first film and really like the other two. The first is an essential thriller with a terrific lead in Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace). The follow-ups show some plot strain but they pull it all off nicely.











INTEND TO SEE, Dept:

The reason the deities invented DVD...




(animation)
-ALOIS NEBEL (Czech)
-WRINKLES (Spain)


(documentary)
-RESURRECT DEAD: The Mystery Of The Toynbee Tiles
-THUNDER SOUL
-CONNECTED: An Autobiography About Love, Death & Technology
-THRIVE
-MAGIC TRIP









See also:

BEST MUSIC: 2011
BEST COMIX: 2011

BEST MOVIES: 2000-2010
BEST COMIX: 2000-2010
BEST MUSIC: 2000-2010




Wednesday, January 25, 2012

BEST MUSIC: 2011, With Music Players!


Anna Calvi







FAVORITE NEW ALBUMS:


Indie Rock, Funk, Electro, Folk, Garage, HipHop, Soul, Grrrl, and the indefinable!


The Kills, "Blood Pressures"





This music player has songs from the following albums, in the same order.


-tUnE-yArDs, "w h o k i l l"

-The Black Keys, "El Camino"

-Charles Bradley, "No Time For Dreaming"

-Gillian Welch, "The Harrow and the Harvest"

-Anna Calvi, "Anna Calvi"

-Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi, "Rome"

-Shabazz Palaces, "Black Up"

-Nikka Costa, "PRO*WHOA"

-Cults, "Cults"

-A.A. Bondy, "Believers"

-Tom Waits, "Bad As Me"

-Feist, "Metals"

-Mayer Hawthorne, "How Do You Do"

-St. Vincent, "Strange Mercy"

-Ty Segall, "Goodbye Bread"

-The Go! Team, "Rolling Blackouts"

-EMA, "Past Life Martyred Saints"

-MeShell Ndegeocello, "Weather"

-Girls, "Father, Son, Holy Ghost"

-PJ Harvey, "Let England Shake"

-Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, "Scandalous"

-Alela Diane & Wild Divine, "Alela Diane & Wild Divine"

-The Love Me Nots, "The Demon And The Devotee"

-Fitz & The Tantrums, "Pickin' Up The Pieces"

-The Dum Dum Girls, "Only In Dreams"

-The Kills, "Blood Pressures"







Quality-Is-Timeless, dept.,
(a.k.a., Great Returns By Iconic Artists)



"If it was good in the past, it's still good." -Sly Stone, Woodstock, 1969



Sly Stone and George Clinton today



This music player has songs from the following albums, in the same order.



-June & Jean Millington (of FANNY), "Play Like A Girl"

-Blondie, "Panic Of Girls"

-The Cars, "Move Like This"

-Gang of Four, "Content"

-Wire, "Red Barked Tree"

-The Bangles, "Sweetheart Of The Sun"

-Beastie Boys, "Hot Sauce Committee, Part Two"

-Janes Addiction, "The Great Escape Artist"

-Sly Stone, "I'm Back"









COOL SONGS:


Boogie, PostPunk, Triphop, Garage, Underground Rap, Ambient, Funk Rock, Nu Folk, Punk, Cinematic, and joyful chaos!


THEESatisfaction





This music player contains the following songs, in order:


The Black Keys, "Lonely Boy"

SBTRKT, "Wildfire"

The Dirtbombs, "Cosmic Cars"

THEESatisfaction, "Bisexual"

Telekinesis, "You Turn Clear in the Sun"

Nikka Costa, "Head First"

A.A. Bondy, "Twist"

New Look, "The Ballad"

Freestyle Fellowship, "We Are"

Julianna Barwick, "The Magic Place"

Wire, "Please Take"

Alice Smith + Aloe Blacc, "Baby"

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., "We Almost Lost Detroit"

Marketa Irglova, "Crossroads"

Gang Gang Dance, "MindKilla"

Bass Drum of Death, "GB City"

Keren Ann, "My Name Is Trouble"

Charles Bradley, "The World (Is Going Up In Flames)"

Los Lobos , "Rango Theme Song"

Jessica Lea Mayfield, "Our Hearts Are Wrong"

Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi (feat. Jack White), "The World"

Anna Calvi, "Rider To The Sea"

The Fresh & Onlys, "Vanishing Cream"

Lynda Kay, "Dream My Darling"

The Bo-Keys, "Hi Roller"

The Go! Team, "Secretary Song"

Doomtree, "The Grand Experiment"

Lana Del Rey, "Blue Jeans"

The Raveonettes, "Ignite"

Slim Moore And The Mar-Kays, "Just Can't Get Ahead

Men, "Credit Card Babies"

Smith Westerns, "Weekend"

The Bots, "Northern Lights"

Over The Rhine, "All My Favorite People"

Raphael Saadiq, "Stone Rollin"

Atmosphere, "Hands On"

Arama Mara, "Concrete Blues"

Ty Segall, "It #1"

The Cool Kids, "Penny Hardaway"

Izzi Dunn, "Tits and Ass"

Those Darlins, "Be Your Bro"

The Funk Ark, "Horchata"

Beady Eye, "Four Letter Word"

St. Vincent, "Cheerleader"

Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, "You've Been Lyin'"

Matana Roberts, "Lulla/Bye"

Phantogram, "Don't Move"

Nick Lowe, "'Til The Real Thing Comes Along"

Death Grips, "Takyon (Death Yon)"

Gillian Welch, "Dark Turn of Mind"

Alice Russell, "Brown Sugar"

Lenny Kravitz, "Black And White America"

Marques Toliver, "Deep In My Heart"

Asa, "Why Can't We"

Dearling Physique, "Monster"

The Civil Wars, "Barton Hollow"

Piel, "Coat"

The Cars, "Keep On Knocking"

Wild Flag, "Racehorse"

Kaiser Chiefs, "Little Shocks"

Liam Finn, "The Struggle"

Dum Dum Girls, "Coming Down"

Thao and Mirah (ft. tUnE yArDs), "Eleven"

The Kills, "Future Starts Slow"











FAVORITE MUSIC RE-ISSUES:



Quality is timeless.


The Beach Boys, "SMiLE"






-"Let's Have a Party: Girls Gone Rockin', vol. 2" (1950's Rock'n'Roll women)


-THE BEACH BOYS, "SMiLE" (1967)

-JIM FORD, "Harlan County" (Country Funk!; 1969)


-MARVIN GAYE, "What's Going On" (1971)

-SUZI QUATRO, "Suzi Quatro" (1973)

-STONE COAL WHITE, "Stone Coal White" (rare Funk Rock band)

-"The Fame Studios Story: 1961-1973" (Muscle Shoals compilation)

-PINK FLOYD, "Wish You Were Here" (1974)

-CRASS, The Remastered Albums (1977-84)

-THE ROLLING STONES, "Some Girls" (1978)


-ESG, "Come Away With ESG" (1983)


-TALK TALK, "Laughing Stock" (1991)

-U2, "Achtung, Baby" (1991)

-NIRVANA, "Nevermind" (1991)

-QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, "Queens Of The Stone Age" (1998)




"A splendid time is guaranteed for all!"






See also:

BEST MOVIES & TV: 2011
BEST COMIX: 2011

BEST MOVIES: 2000-2010
BEST COMIX: 2000-2010
BEST MUSIC: 2000-2010





Monday, January 23, 2012

BEST COMIX: 2011

BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL:




-"STARSTRUCK Deluxe Edition" ↑ ; by Elaine Lee, Michael Wm. Kaluta, and Lee Moyer

Still the smartest, funniest, and most creative series there is.

And the lavish, giant-sized omnibus packed with goodies blows all other competition away. >

StarstruckComics.com








BEST COMICS:



DC:



Click image to enlarge



-"BATWOMAN" ↑ ; story by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman; art by J.H. Williams III, or Amy Reader
The best of the best.

-"SWAMP THING"; by Jeff Lemire and Yanick Paquette
Pulls off the impossible, by bringing back all of the best elements of the Wein-Wrightson original, the Moore-Bissette-Totleben renaissance, and with a new sense of surprise. Astounding so far.

-"ANIMAL MAN"; by Todd Snyder and Travel Foreman
Matches the original heyday of Grant Morrison with better art and its own sophistication. A wonderful companion piece to the new SWAMP THING.

-"ACTION COMICS"; by Grant Morrison and Rags Morales
The 1938 Superman was a populist everyman who fought for the workers and took down the fatcats who lorded over them in the Depression.

The new Superman is again an avatar of the foreclosed, the downsized, and the penniless under the heels of the greed machine.
Look, up in the sky...it's our raised fists!



MARVEL:




-"ULTIMATE COMICS: SPIDER-MAN" ↑ , by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli
While some jerks overreacted to a new Hispanic/African American Spider-Man, what we really got was a tender coming-of-age story of a charming teen kid starting his path to glory. Excellent all around. >

-"MOON KNIGHT"; by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev
Bendis and Maleev...hey, what more could you ask for?


TOP SHELF:




-"LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDIANARY GENTLEMEN: 1969" ↑ , by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill
Alan Moore takes on the lit and culture of 60's London. A dream come true.


DARK HORSE:




-"DOLLHOUSE: Epitaphs"" ↑ , by Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, Andrew Chambliss, and Cliff Richards

The DOLLHOUSE tv series reached its height with the shocking leap into a dystopian future in its final "Epitaph" episodes. The scriptwriters return to sketch out the deeper details of that future in this mini-series, with the promise of more to come.







GRAPHIC NOVELS:




-"HABIBI" ↑ , by Craig Thompson
BLANKETS was an intimate story with a wide canvas. HABIBI is an intimate story on an epic scale that encompasses religions, countries, cultures, and gender. Ambitious and stunning.

-"GREEN RIVER KILLER: A True Detective Story", by Jeff Jensen and Jonathan Case
Noted pop culture writer Jeff Jensen details the personal dimension of a notorious case solved by his father.

-"CELLULOID", by Dave McKean
One of the best fine artists in the field doing an experimental meditation on erotica.

-"BATMAN: NOEL", by Lee Bermejo
Lee. Bermejo.



Everybody's-Talking-About, Dept:
(a.k.a., "haven't read these yet but the talk about them is great")


-"FINDER: VOICE", by Carla Speed McNeil

-"ANYA'S GHOST", by Vera Brosgol

-"HARK! A VAGRANT", by Kate Beaton

-"DAYTRIPPER", by Gabriel Ba

-"LUCHADORAS", by Peggy Adam







BEST COLLECTIONS:




-"WONDER WOMAN Chronicles, vol.2" ↑ , by Wm. Moulton Marston and H.G. Peter
Moulton's 1940's proto-feminist parables are still light years ahead of any version of her done since, and Peter's nouveau art is still as wonderful as it is unsung. >

-"The Complete POGO, vol. 1", by Walt Kelly
The definition of smart art. Absolutely essential.

-"KAMANDI Omnibus, Vol. 1", by Jack Kirby
Jack Kirby in the early 70's. Unbeatable.

-"CHASE", by D. Curtis Johnson and J.H. Williams III
Fans may know Chase from BATWOMAN; this overdue volume collects all her early adventures, with art by J.H. WILLIAMS III.

-"X-STATIX Omnibus", by Peter Milligan and Mike Allred
A huge compilation of their fun and satiric X-FORCE and X-STATIX series.







OUR CREATORS:




-"LILY RENEE, Escape Artist: From Holocaust Survivor to Comic Book Pioneer", by Trina Robbins.
Historian emeritus Trina Robbins shines light on another creative woman who deserves her place in the pantheon.

-"The Adventures of HERGE", by Jose-Louis Bocquet, Jean-Luc Fromental, and Stanislas Barthélémy
A biography of Herge done in the style of his beloved TINTIN books.

-"SUPERGODS", by Grant Morrison
Grant's insights on comic history are required reading.

(His judgement on Alan Moore is lacking, and can be corrected by reading...)

-"ALAN MOORE: Storyteller"↑ . by Gary Spencer Millidge
The most comprehensive overview on the multi-talented maestro, including an exclusive CD of his performance recordings.









---MOVIES AND TV---



GREAT


GREAT: Movies



Super 8; Hugo; Tintin


-THOR
Kenneth Branagh really went for it all. The Earth stuff was a little rushed, but Asgard was glorious.

-CAPTAIN AMERICA
A refreshing surprise. No irony, no jingoism, just a great pulp adventure homage with all the right instincts.

-SUPER 8
My personal favorite of the summer.

In the mid-70's, science fiction films were declared dead. Then STAR WARS remade the movie industry like The Beatles revised music. All those 13-year-old fans then made the pop culture of the next three decades. J.J Abrams brings it all full circle with this mysterious and tender homage to the 1977-1982 movies that ignited everything to come.

-HAUNTERS (S. Korea)
The bridge between UNBREAKABLE and PUSH. Sharply made, great characters, constant surprises, a rousing finish.

-HUGO
A beautiful love letter to early film and classic books. And perhaps the most thoughtful use of 3D yet seen.

-THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN
My old saw is, "Do Herge's actual clean-line style mapped onto CG puppets."

Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson did the opposite -wedding Herge's world to 3D realism, noir lighting, and Hitchcock angles- and pulled it off spectacularly. A breathtaking avalanche of smart fun.


GREAT: TV



Game Of Thrones; Misfits; Fringe/Fringe


-GAME OF THRONES
Only 5% of this is 'Fantasy'. The other 95% is the best character drama about court intrigue one could imagine.

-MISFITS (U.K.)
The Sex Pistols of 'superheroes'. Sacrilegious and hilarious.

-FRINGE
X-FILES never paid-off any of its set-ups well. FRINGE always does, in an unwinding tapestry that only gets better as it goes.

-THE FADES (U.K.)
A supernatural thriller. Like reading one of the finest Vertigo Comics of 1993, with in-jokes galore.



GREAT: Animated




-CHICO AND RITA ↑ (Spain/U.K.)
Beautiful to watch, to listen to, and to feel. Wonderful.

-THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY (Japan)
Another gem from Studio Ghibli, this charming tale of miniature people is a winner all around. Smart, heart, art.

-BATMAN: BRAVE AND THE BOLD
I never liked Bat-Mite because he 'epitomized how the 1950's had ruined Batman'.

Until now. Here, Bat-Mite points out that this show is a love letter to the Silver Age Of Comics. And he's right. Before we got too dark and serious, comics used to be about fun, wonder, and impossible non-sequiters. This show brings all of that back with hyper zeal. It's great fun in all the right ways, and won me over completely.

-BATMAN: Year One
An anime take on the classic Frank Miller/David Mazzucchelli origin. Effective, though Mazzucchelli's grittier artwork was more effective.

-FUTURAMA
Hey...It's Futurama!




GREAT: Documentary

-"GRANT MORRISON: Talking With The Gods"
Grand writer holds forth.






GOOD:


GOOD: Movies


-GREEN LANTERN
(Wait for it.) I like the 2/3 with the Lantern Corp and outer space.

The remaining third, the earthbound scenes with Mall-Friendly-Star and Model-Of-The-Minute, was hokey and cringe-inducing.

-SUPER
A bent Indie comedy take on what would really happen if you tried to be a superhero, featuring an unhinged Ellen Page.

-GRIFF THE INVISIBLE (Australia)
A modest take on homemade superheroes, with an engaging romance and some twists.

-The Extraordinary Adventures Of ADELE BLANC-SEC (France)
The grumbling adventurer gets a fine film treatment of her illustrated exploits by Luc Besson ("The Fifth Element").


GOOD: TV


-THE WALKING DEAD
I like it enough, while others love it. It's playing one note pretty well.

-GRIMM
Whedon-esque characters, fun stories, terrific lighting. A pleasant surprise.








GOD-AWFUL:


GOD-AWFUL: Movies


-X-MEN: First Class
Yeah, I hear it already; "How could you give GREEN LANTERN any props while dissing this film?"

Two-thirds of that works, one-third of this does (Michael Fassbender). The story is wildly uneven; the Civil Rights opportunity is inexcusably ignored; and reaching beyond 1962 to homage culture styles well after it creates an anachronistic clusterfunk.

-TRANSFORMERS 3
As James Brown said, "Talking loud and saying nothing."


GOD-AWFUL: TV


-AMERICAN HORROR STORY
A textbook case in how to overdo everything and accomplish nothing.

(For the antidote, watch THE FADES series from BBC.)






Nuff said, pilgrim. Excelsior!





See also:

BEST MOVIES & TV: 2011
BEST MUSIC: 2011


BEST MOVIES: 2000-2010
BEST COMIX: 2000-2010
BEST MUSIC: 2000-2010



The Roots And Branches Of STARSTRUCK
Waiting For SPIDER-MAN