This year certainly has been weird. I can’t really place it, but 2013 just has been weird. Of course I’d be reminisce if I didn’t mention probably my favorite moment of the year: when our kickstarter funded and the again when we got another hundred dollars from a complete stranger.
It’s been a time of friends leaving and coming into my life at a rate I’ve never really experienced in my life before. Once again, things are weird, and by the looks of it next year has potential to be way weirder.
As I sit here and listen to Of Montreal swoon in my ears I realize you probably don’t care about how weird a year I had. So anyway here are my favorite 10 things from 2013. And remember I don’t constrict this list to things that came out in 2013. It’s just culled from all the things I did this year.
Best Movie: Heavenly Creatures
Yes Heavenly Creatures, Peter Jackson’s first big splash onto the film scene, has beaten out his newest, The Desolation of Smaug. It’s the true story of two New Zealand girls who become seriously attached and begin to live in a fantasy world together. Their parents think that they are taking things too far and try to separate the two of them. The girls can’t live with this and enact revenge on their parents.
I found that Heavenly Creatures not only scared me, but also connected with me on a pretty deep level. It’s a psychological ride that works on the shoulders of the imaginative direction and powerful performances of the two leads. No other movie this year hit me as hard as Heavenly Creatures did.
Heavenly Creatures is currently streaming on Netflix.
Best Worst Movie: Revenge of the Ninja
Revenge of the Ninja is with out a doubt one of the most entertaining movies I have ever seen. It only adds to the mystique of this film that when Tim and I originally watched it that the power went out in the ridiculous 20 minute climactic fight sequence that takes place on a series of roofs containing tennis courts, hot tubs and super long helicopter shots. We probably talked about the film for a good half an hour before we accepted that the power wasn’t coming back on.
It’s a special kind of film that is both extremely racially incentive and seemingly innocent. Because although, yes, the Asians, Italians, blacks, and Native American’s are all hilarious stereotypes they never feel malicious. They seem like what they are: a very sincere attempt at film making from someone who did not understand the culture or film itself.
The end product differs from something like say, Troll 2(Last years winner in this category), because it somehow actually quiet good at what it wants to be. It is more inventive than a lot of modern action films with it’s fight scenes and it is never boring. So, I guess Revenge of the Ninja is by some standards a really good movie.
Runners up: Nothing comes close
Best TV Show: West Wing
The TV category was by far the hardest one to pin down(which is why I split it into 3 categories). In any other year Friday Night Lights or Twin Peaks could have won. They are both incredible shows that will stick with me for a long time, but The West Wing, Aaron Sorkin’s, incredibly biting, surprisingly relevant, moving, and funny political drama wins every time.
The West Wing is not with out it’s flaws. Aaron Sorkin and the writing staff were pretty terrible at keeping long term story lines going over multiple episodes. Characters and their relationship’s drop in and out of the show with out explanation at times, and at times the cast becomes so large that the writers clearly didn’t know what to do with all the characters on their plate.
Despite these flaws, West Wing is so consistently fascinating, not only as a drama, but as a commentary on politics that I believe it’s one of the best TV shows that I’ve ever seen. The show was surprisingly ahead of it’s time in it’s politics bringing in issues that feel just as relevant in today’s climate as they were back in the day. Though this may be due to the stagnation of our political climate more than the show’s forward looking nature, it’s impossible to deny how level headed and ahead of it’s time the show was in presenting the 9/11 tragedy with a rational look at why the attacks occurred and the state of the people who we wanted to throw blame at. Plus they basically predicted Obama which is kinda weird when you think about it.
I could write about The West Wing pretty much forever. It has maybe the best cast ever assembled for a TV show and the characters are all brilliant, and I’m not lying when I say that it’s impossible for me to pick a favorite. And no, West Wing does not have a great season plot structure that we’ve come to expect from modern dramas(the type of thing Friday Night Lights did so well), but each individual episode is nearly perfect on their own.
Oh yeah and all these shows(West Wing and runners up are on Netflix Streaming)
Animation that makes me realize I don’t dislike animated stuff: Venture Bros
I’ll keep this one short and simple. The Venture Bros made me realize that there is animated stuff out there for me. I mean, I’ve always watched South Park, but everything else has kinda turned me off.
The Venture Bro’s is a comedic take on science heroes like Johnny Quest and super heroes that continually pushes things to the extreme in the most hilarious and action packed way possible. It’s comparable to Arrested Development for me, in it’s style of humor, and it carries an emotional weight that I found lacking in this years outing of Arrested Development.
Best TV show that was actually on in 2013: Breaking Bad
I mean. You saw this coming right? I basically made this category because of how many damn shows I watched this year, and I didn’t want this stuff to be buried by The West Wing.
Now, you don’t need me to tell you how good Breaking Bad is, but I do just want to point out that they did such a good job at ending the show. And I don’t mean they had a good last episode. They did! They had a great last episode, but the entire last season that would have been so easy to mess up went off without a hitch.
Plus Landry from FNL was the bad guy! Like wat?
Runners up: Arrested Development, Orange is the New Black
Best End: Earthbound
Dude. It’s so good. Here you can watch it.
Best Game: FTL: Faster Than Light
Man. My favorite game of the year is a kickstarter project of yore that got released in 2012 for $10. FTL is a roguelike set in space. What is a roguelike? It’s a game where the map you travel through is randomly generated and each time you die you restart at the beginning. Each game of FTL will take you from 10 minutes to an hour and a half depending on how long you can make it.
I know it doesn’t immediately sound like it would super fun, and it certainly isn’t that great looking of a game, but it is so fun to see how far you can make it each time you press play. As you outfit your ship with a crew and weapons and upgrade your ships systems you become attached. You come to see each time you play as a unique experience with it’s own story.
Maybe your ship’s life supports caught fire and you didn’t have enough of a crew to put the fire out and the crew suffocated to death. Or maybe you nearly made it to the final sector in the game, but a mantis ship found you and boarded your ship and you had invested all of your money into better guns instead of a fighting crew. Or maybe you foolishly entered an asteroid field in the first sector and were torn apart by asteroids as you chased down a pirate ship.
These are all totally things that happened to me, and there’s so much more that could happen. Each time you play a new story is told, and it’s just super fun.
PLUS: The developer of the game is making a free update that adds a whole bunch more stuff. So great. I’ll have to sink another 20 hours into it…
Best Album: Pet Sounds
So yes, Pet Sounds is about as removed from 2013 as you can get, but for having came out in 1966 it feel remarkably fresh and as weird as it sounds relevant. Now, there’s no mistaking that the album was recorded a long time ago, but the fact that it sounds better than anything else I’ve heard all year gives it instant credence as a classic.
The first time I listened to Pet Sounds was in a car ride where I couldn’t give it my attention. Once I sat down with headphones and let it wash over me I was immediately hooked. I probably listened to the album five times in two days. There is just so much going on in the album that there was always something to listen for, and there really never is a dull moment.
Compared to it’s contemporaries(namely The Beatles albums of the era) Pet Sounds is much more relatable to me. Unlike The Beatles who at times who range from often cookie cutter love songs to songs completely devoid of anything I can comprehend, The Beach Boys were able to create an album that holds timeless themes of loneliness, confusion, love and depression that resonate even today.
Best Read: John Cleaver Series
I broke up this category into best read and best book because I wanted to recognize all these great books I read! To be clear the distinction is that “Best Read” was the funnest thing to read while “Best Book” was the best most meaty piece of text I read, if that makes sense… I mean again it’s really an excuse to highlight all the good books I read this year.
So the John Cleaver Series! You can read my review of the first book here, and the second and third books are way better. They have a great mix of teenage drama sort of through an extended metaphor, and intense thriller action that made them really honestly hard to put down, and I don’t say that about books often.
I would also like to call out Slapstick as the only book I read in a single day this year, and probably the only time I’ve done that for many years. It was super fun and bizarre, but it wasn’t quite as amazing as the John Cleaver books.
Then Them: Adventures With Extremists was just an insane read. I don’t want to spoil any of it, but it’s biting, ridiculous, hilarious journalism at it’s best.
Best Book: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
This book, like a good book can do I think, changed me. I mean, it made me look at things differently. Not only in mental health, what is done to treat it, and how Native American’s were treated, but in how a book can be written and structured. The prose itself is so artful in Cuckoo’s Nest that it will make you sit up and take notice. The way Kesey uses words and sentence structure to convey the mental state of the narrator is haunting and flawless. It’s amazing how the reader is put entirely into Bromden’s shoes, and is never quite sure what is real and what isn’t at any given moment.
And of course the overarching almost western story of good versus evil is an incredible metaphor that is honestly easy to miss, and in any other book would have been overpowering, but as I’ve stated before this book just seems to get everything right.
I’m definitely not doing this book justice. It deserves to be read.
Death of a Salesmen deserves recognition as well for creating a tragedy that I could immediately relate to and with a hero(if not protagonist) that the reader can root for.
Runner up: Death of a Salesmen
We watch The GingerDead Man and Troll 2
You’ve probably heard that Agent Coulson will be starring in the S.H.E.I.L.D TV show helmed by Joss Whedon and Jed Whedon. This was troubling news to me. Don’t get me wrong I love Phil as much as the next guy – his death was among the most emotional moments in Avengers.
Upon hearing the news I immediately asked the question any rational person would ask, why is Coulson alive?
The way in which they decide to treat Agent Coulson’s return will ultimate decide for better or worse the fate of the entire franchise Marvel has tried and succeeded at building over the past 6 years.
Summer Wars is Mamoru Hosoda‘s follow up film to his hit, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Like that film Hosoda mixes teen/family drama with science fiction elements. Is Summer Wars as great a film? No, but it is still pretty good.
What is becoming an apparent theme in Hosoda’s work is his merging of a fantastic element in an otherwise normal setting. In Summer Wars we are presented with the world of Oz, a cyberworld in which everyone in the world interacts similarly to the Oasis in Ready Player One. It has become such a mainstay of the world that even the trafficking system is connected for some reason.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is an anime adapted of the Japanese novel of the same name. It was directed by Mamoru Hosoda who has done work on DBZ, Sailor Moon, and was the director of Howl’s Moving Castle before Miyazaki took over. This is his breakout film though, and he has gone on to direct two films since.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a charming story in the vain of Groundhogs Day, in that the movie takes place over a few days, that are repeated again and again with different results.
Our hero Makato, who is effortlessly cute and charming, wakes up late on “nice day” and the rest of her day things go horribly wrong for her. Her day ends with her crashing headlong into a train as the breaks on her bike were dysfunctional. Luckily for her, she somehow gained the ability to “time leap”. She wakes up that morning again and is able to avoid all of the problems of her previous day.
The film goes on like that. Makato starts using her ability to time leap for pleasure and convenience. But as the film goes on she learns that her actions have consequences on those around her. Sounds like Groundhogs Day doesn’t it? Well it differs in that Makato is not “stuck”; all the time travel is from her own free will, and in that the primary setting is Makato’s high school. But like Groundhogs Day there are a lot of funny moments because of the time travel.
Time travel is the gimmick, but it is not the heart of this movie. The film is about Makato growing up. She must learn about others feelings, and her own. Makato’s two best friends are her constant companions, and the film spends a large amount of time exploring the ups and downs of their relationships. At its core you have a high school movie. But it is full of awesome moments, and relatable characters. In other words there aren’t wacky Japan-isms like jaws flung open or bloody noses. This is a good film for people who don’t usually watch anime.
Visually the film is very impressive. The animation is top notch, and the characters have clean memorable designs. The film is mostly traditional, but the time travel scenes are digitally animated.
The english version is great. It is one of the best dub’s I have seen(although not an expert), and the translation from what I could gather was the same for subtitles. Therefor I would recommend watching the english version.
The music deserves a special mention. It has a great score. It is mainly piano, although there are strings and another few instruments occasionally. The music is jaunty when it needs to be, and haunting when it needs to be. Pitch perfect.
The Bottom Line: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is more than the sum of its parts. It has wonderful style. The characters are all great. It is just a fun movie. Personally I think it is a better film than Groundhogs Day and that it is a much watch if you are a fan of a fun time. And again if you are not an anime fan I think this would be a great place to get your feet wet. It’s very western in sensibility and the production values are great.
Carrying on from the Good Girls Gone Geek tradition of posting lists of hot people here I am. Recently the girls asked for suggestions for their British Invasion edition. Foolishly I replied. Here is the conversation that followed:
Me: like anyone from the batman movies right?
Them: with the possible exception of Michael Caine
Me: what? Why wouldn’t you include him. He is one of the most attractive men in the series!
Me: Guess I’ll just have to make my own list then.
So here we are. Get Geek’s list of the hottest men around. There is a theme here, see if you can catch it! I will do my best to explain why these men are so attractive, but forgive me if I’m not super descriptive as I do not spend time studying the male figure for it’s intricacies.
I was in Titanic, bitches!
Martin Jarvis. Yep, he was in the Titanic, and the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. But just look at that silver hair. That jaw line. The way he wears his shirt all the way buttoned up. Definition of smokin’.
Joss Whedon exploded from being a cult icon to being the writer/director of the third largest movie of all time. Chances are if you’re reading this blog you already were in love with Mr. Whedon, but now he’s know by a much wider audience. We now know that Joss will be working on Avengers 2, and the Avengers universe TV show for marvel, and that is all very exiting, but he didn’t talk about that at SDCC. What he did talk about are his comics, and smaller projects as well as some of his wisdom.
Buffy comics will continue to spread
As far as the main Buffy and Angel comics go Joss will continue to oversee them and do the high level writing. This means he’s not actually writing the scripts.
Joss also said that Willow and Spike mini-series will be coming soon. He would also like to make more Fray comics. Now that’s news I can get behind. I loved Fray and after season 8 we see that she is very tied in with the Buffy verse.
This article is about venting my feelings on movies I feel the need to shout expletives at, but for whatever reason are not universally thought of as bad films. Don’t expect trash like Transformers or Alvin and the Chipmunks(my eyes and ears are still virginal too those bastards) in this list because everyone knows they suck. You may not agree with these opinions, but take them for what they are: my opinions on movies I have distaste for.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Gota say great premise. There’s a mole in the british spy division(or whatever) during the cold war and our retired spy has to investigate them to figure it out. Plus SO many good british actors, you got Gary Oldman, John Hurt, Colin Firth, and The Cumberbatch. So why then why did it have to be so dull? This movie loved showing us Oldman’s face for like minutes at a time. I couldn’t follow the plot really either. Maybe I was just tired, but I watched the whole movie waiting for that aha moment, but it never came. It just sort of ends like “Oh it was him. He’s the mole. Have a great night folks! badundundunda!” So why did so many people like this movie? It’s nothing but slow moving action a somewhat incoherent plot and add in the fact that I couldn’t tell if sometimes we were being shown something in the past or what the crap was going on. Fuck this movie.
Fuck a series of unfortunate events. It’s not funny, it’s not scary it doesn’t capture the greatness of the books(which I admit are not that great to begin with). So you make a movie, make Jim Carry the villain and expect anyone to take him seriously in that make up. They should have just told him to do his goofy shit because that would have worked better. Just to be clear this is not me saying this now. I haven’t watched this film in 6 or 7 years. That means when I was 10ish I knew this movie wasn’t good. Ok so let me back up. What makes this worse than the books?
Leme lay it down. The charm of the books lie in the increasingly weird shit(that they downplay in order for it to fit in a movie) that happens to the children and the bizarre, aware narration that Mr. Snicket himself brings to the table. Let me make this clear if you’ve only seen the movie OK: you know how that whole leech thing kinda was weird it gets WAY WEIRDER. And you get introduced to some truly memorable characters in the latter books. Then there’s the last book simply titled: The End(pretty good name if you ask me) that takes a really bizarre turn in tone, but one that I found myself enjoying immensely. This movie has none of that. Maybe it’s me, maybe if you were not familiar with the material you could watch this movie and forget it the next day but you know what screw you movie.
While were attacking movies based on books: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Now I remember liking the book but I always disliked this movie. And the more I think about the more I hate it. It’s really unfortunate too because it’s sandwiched between to really good movies. The triwizard turny takes pretty much the whole screen time leaving none for characters or smaller moments(ie not balls to the walls action) and it’s not a short movie you guys its 2 and 1/2 hours! There’s a reason that book is one of the longest cause Rowling knew she had to balance out all the action with some other stuff. But these movie makers didn’t. You know I think my other problem with it is that the story is pretty disconnected until the end from the whole Voldemort thing. I guess the third movie is as well, I find the difference being that the story about Black and Lupin and all that pretty interesting as opposed to the “I’m going to win a tournament thingy YAY”
It just seems a really stupid way to get Harry to his confrontation with Voldemort. And to be fair that confrontation isn’t bad yet it wilts when compared to the wizard battles in subsequent films it. But the entire film just left kind of a bad taste in my mouth.
Mr. Bean’s Holiday is Shite with a capital S when compared to the series. And it’s as simple as the fact that you can’t carry out a 90 minute film with your main character not talking. There are funny scenes to be fair but as a whole the movie just isn’t that funny and doesn’t hold anything in the way of story. It seems like they were trying to hard to capture what they had done years before, and the ending scene which has been described as “sweet” and “cute” doesn’t work. You can’t have your movie that’s been nothing but slapstick from a mute turn into a heartwarming sappy thing at the last minute. I’m sorry Mr. Bean, turns out you didn’t need a holiday you just needed to quit(as depressing as that sounds).
OK that’s enough movie bashing for now. Remember what you were taught here. Please comment with the movies that you hate and be sure to include why.
With the release of the Avengers this week, I thought why not build some Savage Worlds versions of the Avengers themselves? I’ll be using the Savage Worlds Explorers edition, and the Super Powers Companion previously reviewed on the site if you wan’t to follow along.