Wednesday, December 22, 2010
It’s been another banner year for Hollywood with more than a billion tickets sold. We’ve seen the return to form of one of America’s most critically acclaimed directors with Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, the end of one of the most popular franchises in film history with the 8th and final Harry Potter film...even a 24-hour film experience here in Boston as the MFA screened, The Clock. With so many movies to see and so little time, we turn to Boston Globe film critic Ty Burr and our own Jared Bowen - a couple of certified film fanatics, to walk us through some of the best of the year.
Directed By: Cary Fukunaga
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Machal Fassbender
Michael Fassbender explodes off the screen (and into a year of prominence) in an exquisitely rendered film.
Directed By: Paul Feig
Starring: Krisen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne
I definitely did not see a funnier movie this year. And let me be upfront—I loves me some low-brow. And how about something revolutionary—give Melissa McCarthy the Oscar.
Directed By: John Madden (Proof, Shakespeare in Love)
Starring: Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington, Tom Wilkinson
Intense and riveting—it’s great when the film ends and you can finally catch your breath (which you’d been holding forever).
Midnight in Paris
Directed By: Woody Allen
Starring: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams
A quirky sweet film with a most novel concept
Directed By: Tate Taylor
Starring: Emma Stone, Viola Davis
All glossy and slick and somewhat pat—but that doesn’t matter after an extraordinary cast led by Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Emma Stone is finished
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson
Spielberg opens and closes the film with a distracting John Ford take. But for the actual war crux of the film, War Horse slips into Spielbergian rhythm and just gallops brilliantly.
My Week with Marilyn
Directed By: Simon Curtis
Starring: Michelle Willims, Kenneth Branagh
What I like to call a Vanity Fair film—completely overstylized in lighting, costumes and set and for all that I love it. Eddie Redmayne is just utterly charming (even though he only ever smiles) and Michelle Williams is just absolutely captivating as Marilyn. Plus there’s an equally decadent supporting cast including Branagh, Ormond, Dench, Wannamaker and more.
For Kids - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Directed By: David Yates
Starring: Danielle Radcliff, Emma Watson
Jared Says: This series went off the rails for me awhile back. But this edition completely returned me. Just an exceptional end to the series.
Monday, December 20, 2010
It's truly is a golden era for Boston sports fans. Despite the lack of a championship in 2010, all four major sports teams are competing at the highest of levels. Here are a few of the most memorable sports moments of the year, both here in Boston and beyond.
Steve Safran, editor of Lost Remote
Red Sox Recovery: After a season full of injuries and exposed weaknesses, the Sox brass have made great pick-ups; Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Bobby Jenks, Dan Wheeler among them, For the first time in memory, they've outfoxed the Yanks.
Patriots Coach Bill Belichik: He let whiny Randy Moss leave and actually made the team better by changing its game. It's the equivalent of the Sox dumping Nomar in 2004. Randy wore out his welcome in Minneapolis in two games, and (as of this writing) still hasn't won a game with the Titans.
Boston Sports Fans Win: We've seen the start of espn.com/boston, the rise of 98.5 The Sport Hub radio, and the overhaul of WEEI.com into a sports reporting force all its own.
The Winter Classic: The Bruins hosted hockey at Fenway at the beginning of the year, and the game against the Flyers was great.
That Unbelievable Wimbeldon Match: At the 2010 Wimbleton Championships, John Isner beat the French qualifier Nicolas Mahut in the longest match in tennis history. The final final tiebreaker, 70-68, happened after 11 hours over the course of three days.
Shaq Comes To Boston: He instantly becomes fixture in the city by being so accessible.
The Stolen No Hitter: Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga had a perfect game stolen from him on what should have been the final out, due to a bad call by umpire Jim Joyce. Galarraga took it in stride, and Joyce admitted he blew the call.
The Fighter: WCVB's Bob Halloran wrote the book upon which the movie The Fighter is based, giving boxer Micky Ward (and Boston) major national attention.
The Vancouver Olympics: Remember them? With the torch lighting fiasco? Name one winner apart from Lindsay Vonn... I dare you.
"The Decision": LeBron James's announcement show on ESPN that showed bad taste on just so many levels.
Brett Favre: Favre's time with the Minnesota Vikings is just sad. It's like seeing Babe Ruth in his Boston Braves uniform. Oh, and the sexting. The Minneapolis Dome Collapse is a perfect metaphor for Favre.
Bob Lobel, The Emily Rooney Show's Monday Morning Quaterback contributor
Tiger Woods: The one and only national story. After his transgressions, he goes winless in 2010
Lebron James and "The Decision" on ESPN
Michael Vick returns to chants of MVP. This is the dilemma of the year. Forgive? Or not forgive.
George Steinbrenner dies. Yankees front office loses some direction including a clunky contract negotiation with face of the franchise Derek Jeter.
Pats Trade Randy Moss and re-tool offense. Oh by the way they get a 3rd round pick when they gave up a 4th rounder to get him.
Bruins Lose Game 7 at home after leading 3 games to none and leading 3 to nothing in that 7th game.
Celtics Lose Game 7 of the NBA Finals to the Lakers after leading in the 4th quarter.
Red Sox Spend Millions despite buying premier league soccer team in Liverpool.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
The music industry is a juggernaut, the Rock Band video game franchise is thriving, TV singing competitions like The Sing Off are scoring in the ratings, and—despite the near total disappearance of retail record stores—recorded albums continue to be released in droves.
By some estimates, upwards of 100,000 albums were released in the United State this year alone. With nearly all of them available for download with the click of a mouse, it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to new music. Stephen Thompson, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, and Steve Almond, author of Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life, help out by sharing their favorite albums of the year.
Stephen Thompson's Picks
Though its name has become synonymous with atmospherically eccentric beauty, Sigur Ros has taken steps to find its quirky, joyful side in recent years. But it took a side project called Jonsi — technically a band led by singer Jon Thor Birgisson, who prefers not to be addressed as "Jonsi" — to dump out Birgisson's endlessly surprising toy-box of exhilarating ideas. Go showcases plenty of swirling ballads to balance out relentlessly ingratiating thrillers like "Go Do" and "Boy Lilikoi," but the net result is the year's most life-affirmingly sweet, unexpectedly sunny gem.
Horse Feathers, Thistled Spring
The first minute of Thistled Spring is as exquisitely lovely as any 60 seconds of music this year, and that's before Justin Ringle has begun lending his simultaneously comforting and disconcerted voice to the mix. If Horse Feathers' ingredients were listed in order of their prominence, strings and portent would be right at the top, but Ringle's soft croon keeps Thistled Spring grounded in genuine grace. He may sing of "a blossom that's bloomed / a house that's a tomb," but he's also peddling comfort food, to be washed down with an ice-cold glass of sweet tea.
Jeremy Messersmith, The Reluctant Graveyard
The phrase "worthy heir to the power-pop throne long held by Fountains of Wayne" and the phrase "concept album about death" don't usually appear in the same sentence, but here we are. Minneapolis singer-songwriter Jeremy Messersmith closes out his self-released "life-cycle trilogy" with an absolute corker of a record, full of songs that sparkle and shine while Messersmith examines the personae of dead gangsters, casket salesmen and others who traffic in life after life. But for goodness' sake, don't be put off by the concept: The Reluctant Graveyard is an immensely sweet string of infectious pop ringers. As colorfully as they shine, these songs could just as easily be about rainbows or suncatchers.
Titus Andronicus, The Monitor
It's been a great year for New Jersey rock 'n' roll, all suitable for blaring through car stereos on turnpikes. The Gaslight Anthem's American Slang is a terrific slab of Springsteenian odes to fading youth, but even better is The Monitor, Titus Andronicus' messy, monster sprawl of a concept album. Name-checking not only its favorite musicians — including Bruce Springsteen, naturally — but also the history of the Civil War, The Monitor finds room for back-to-back nine-minute anthems, a 14-minute album-closer and several historical speeches. All, of course, while rocking spectacularly.
The Heligoats, Goodness Gracious
The Heligoats' Chris Otepka doesn't write songs so much as he stuffs them with ideas until they brim over with imagination. Take "Fish Sticks," from the sublime Goodness Gracious: It's about a guy who escapes the day-to-day grind by building a biosphere in a swamp, only to learn that the swamp-dwellers view him as an outsider, too. As Otepka's intellectually curious observations whiz by, it takes a while to sink in that the singer has an awful lot to say about the way escape routes often lead back to where they began. Like his friend and frequent tour-mate Eef Barzelay — whose band Clem Snide also released a fine album in 2010 — Otepka has a way of writing sideways, so that the poignancy hits harder when it inevitably arrives.
See more of Stephen Thompson's favorite albums of 2010 on NPR Music
Steve Almond's Picks
Kim Taylor, Little Miracle (Don't Darling Me Records, 2010)
A record so good it reminded me of Patty Griffin's epic Living With Ghosts. It’s got the same haunted beauty—a woman with a guitar speaking straight to her demons. "Anchor Down" is to going to stay with you through the beautiful doom of autumn.
Gil Scott Heron, I'm New Here (XL Recordings, 2010)
The great unsung prophet of American music returns in triumph.
Drew Smith, Drew Smith's Lonely Choir (Fat Caddy Records, 2010)
A pop record so pure-hearted and lush you'll swear Van Morrison has taken an apprentice. Smith filters his soul music through the stringed instruments of Americana. His obvious pleasure in the obvious pleasure of hooks feels both old-fashioned and completely revolutionary.
Robbie Fulks, Happy (Boondoggle Records, 2010)
Fulks has been a world-class wisenheimer for years, a welcome antidote to the soggy cornpone of the Country Music Industrial Complex. Happy brings his shenanigans to its logical conclusion. It is composed entirely of ... Michael Jackson covers. They range from gorgeous traditional country ("Going Back to Indiana") to wiry swamp rock ("The Way You Make Me Feel"). Fulks is entirely reverential to the source material and, at the same time, able to find new magic inside the mishegas.
Boris McCutcheon, Wheel of Life (Cactusman, 2010)
Brother Boris keeps producing albums that make me and missus long for the days of our cross country drives. There's an endless quality to these songs, as if they've been around forever, waiting for you to find them. Meg Whitman should listen to "I Remember California" until she grows a legitimate soul.
By Sheryl Marshall | Tuesday, December 14, 2010
The economy has dominated the news in 2010, and for good reason. Everyone from Congress to the Fed, multi-national corporations to small businesses, have had some serious financial decisions to make. Not all of those decisions have been… shall we say…. wise. Here is my year-end list of “Ten favorite financial stupidities of 2010.”
10. In a year that saw Apple release the new iPad, the iPhone 4, and the new MacBook Air, not buying Apple in January was one of the year's biggest missteps. In January, their stock was at 190. On Dec 4, it closed at 320.
9. Despite overwhelming public opposition, the plan in Congress was to halt unemployment benefits right before Christmas. This would have affected an estimated 1.6 million people. The bill to extend benefits is currently being battled over in Washington.
8. Not getting in on the gold rush. The price of gold on Jan 1, 2010 was $1100/oz, and analysts predicted it would go to $1200 by year’s end. Fueled by unease over the value of paper money, investors turned in mass to gold. In early Dec, It was at $1417/oz.
7. In May, Eurozone members and the IMF agreed to a bail-out package to rescue Greece's embattled economy, at a cost of an estimated 45 billion Euros.
6. And in Ireland, a bailout package cost an additional 85 billion.
5. The story of LocatePLUS: On Dec 5, two former executives of a Beverly technology company were indicted on securities fraud and other charges. Prosecutors allege the former chief executive of LocatePLUS Holdings Corp., Jon Latorella, and its former CFO, James Fields, falsified documents to inflate the company's revenue and create a bogus $1 million pending windfall. The company provides online access to real estate and other public records for investigative searches. As part of their deception, authorities said, Latorella and Fields stole the identity of a young man who drowned in Marblehead Harbor 25 years ago to create a fictional executive whom they used in the scheme.
4. In the Citizens United v Federal Election Commission ruling, the United States Supreme Court decided that corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections cannot be limited under the First Amendment. This ruling opened the door to piles of toxic, anonymous money pouring into our elections.
3. The Flash Crash of May 6, when the Dow dropped almost 1000 points, only to recover those losses within minutes. This was all due to algorithms and electronic trading gone wild. It was the second largest point swing, and the biggest one-day point decline on an intraday basis in Dow Jones Industrial Average history.
2. Bad paperwork from the banks that led to all foreclosures being halted in October, 2010.
1. BP Oil Spill. The cost was an estimated $45 billion dollars! You could almost bailout a small European country for that kind of money.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
With the final weeks of the year upon, it's time for year-end “best-of” lists. This being Boston, we're looking at books. Just in time to add these gems to your holiday shopping list for the bookworm in your life, Bookfinds.com's Jocelyn Kelley and Brookline Booksmith's Evan Perriello share their picks for the best of the year.
• Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton
• Blue Nights by Joan Didion
• Rin Tin Tin by Susan Orlean
• Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller
• Bossypants by Tina Fey
• The Great Big Book of Horrible Things by Matthew White
• Revolution by Deb Olin Unferth
• Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer?
• Pilgrimage by Annie Liebowitz?
• The Other Walk by Sven Birkerts
• Townie by Andre Dubus III
• Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff
• Basketball Junkie by Chris Herron
• Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero by Chris Matthews
• Man in the Rockefeller Suit by Mark Seal
• The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
• The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht
• Swamplandia by Karen Russell
• State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
• Blueprint for Building Better Girls by Elissa Schappell
• The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
• The Iliad, translated by Stephen Mitchell
• Binocular Visions by Edith Pearlman
• Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks
• Witches on the Road Tonight by Sheri Holman
BOOKS FOR YOUNG ADULTS AND KIDS
• Divergent by Veronica Roth
• Dear Bully edited by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones
• Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell
• Steampunk!, edited by Kelly Link and Gavin Grant
• I Want My Hat Back by John Klassen
Tuesday, August 24, 2010