Write First, Succeed Later



I often feel like I’m in a race against time with my career. Despite the fact that I’ve been writing since I was 18, I have little to show for it in terms of work I’m proud of. Some of it has to do with me leaving projects before their final revisions, but for the most part, it’s that the final products I have don’t meet the vision I had in mind when I started writing. Most of my projects have gone this route:

The idea: amazing!

The writing: hard, but I’m holding out that it’s going to be amazing!

Final draft: Not amazing, but still pretty good!

Submissions to festivals, contests and job openings: Rejection. Not amazing.

Having the thick skin to accept rejection is a prerequisite for being a writer, but accepting it doesn’t mean it doesn’t faze you. It’s disheartening to go through this process year after year, and I often wonder how much longer I’ll be able to stomach being told my hard work isn’t the great idea I had in my head.

My college writing professor once told my class, “Any time you feel writer’s block, it’s probably because you’re focusing too much on how good you want the writing to be as opposed to just doing the work.” I think it’s the most valuable thing I learned in school, because it clarified for me the difficulty of being a writer. You need to write a great thing, but it won’t happen if you think too much about how great it should be.

Instead of scrolling Facebook to delay yourself from trying to meet your great idea, throw yourself at your idea. You may not succeed, but you will have written.



New Work Published!

In my last post, I wrote that one of my goals this year was to get three articles published. It’s my pleasure to announce that my essay “My Devil Advocates” is up in the first issue of the No Home Journal!

The piece covers some of the questions re: Islamophobia I’ve asked myself in recent months. With Daesh and Donald Drumpf dominating the headlines and mongering fear left and right, I’ve been feeling the urge to say something to stop the hate. It’s been hard to make a stance, when Islamophobic culture has made myself afraid to even be vocal about the topic. But for now, I’m still standing.

One down, two to go.

NYC to LA — Wondering if — Goals for 2016

I moved back to New York from LA in November 2014. I moved to Los Angeles because I wanted to work up the television ladder. After three months of slowly making headway, I decided I didn’t want to work up the ladder. Thought I would rather make films with people I know and love in a city I know and love, and hope that a career would come out of that.

It’s now March 2016 and I’m back in New York. I have a Vimeo page, website in the works, and soon will have films (“online content” I think it’s called now) to put on them. I don’t know if I’m any closer to having paid writing or film work. I wonder if I had stayed in LA, I could have had more success doing the same independent work I’m doing now. I wonder if I’ll have to go back if I want to move my career forward.

I recognize the “wonder if” game is a waste of time. But if your career looks like it’s hit a roadblock while your peers are making moves, it’s hard not to play.

I wonder if I’m doing enough social media work.

I wonder if I’m meeting enough strangers and hearing their perspectives.

I wonder if I’m in the right city.

Sometimes I play the “wonder if” games for my curiosity. Sometimes I play to fuel my anxiety.

Doing the work helps. Work that might not lead to a career move, but work nonetheless. Work is important. It doesn’t take you away from your anxiety or depression, but it puts that shit to use.

So I’m here in NYC for now. I’ll most likely play the “wonder if” game again, but it won’t matter as long as these are done a year from now:

1)  A finished feature screenplay.

Me and my writing/partner Priya Mulgaonkar have a rom-com in the works. Expect dosas to play a pivotal role.

2) Four videos online.

Currently in post for my short film Before the Flood and my documentation of Borromean Resistance’s show Performance (x+1) An Interactive Computing System. Looking to producing another short narrative and a short doc .

3)  Three published articles. 

My essay “My Devil Advocates” will be published in No Home Journal’s first issue later this month.

4) Be on this blog at least once a month. 

Put The Mellow Dramatist in full effect.

Good luck to everyone else chasing their goals!


Through My Windshield


I walked up First Avenue

in Pioneer Square,

at night when they told me

to keep an eye

on my car

and my belongings.

I neared the corner

to where I parked, when

she landed

in my sight.


She was asking

passerbys for change

and would soon be asking me.

I wanted to focus on the quiet

of the night, how the street lights shone,

how soon I would be home,

but I saw her.


Her black skin, her


hair, her wide eyes.

I knew what she would want

from me when she asked.

But what would the change

in my pocket do?


It wouldn’t provide a meal,

or a place to sleep.

It wouldn’t overturn the laws

pushing people out

in the streets the way they did her.

Mayor declares homelessness a state of emergency,

while those walking in front of me carry change that stays

in their pocket.


But what did I know about her?

I could ask.

But I had a plane to catch.


She saw me,

and asked for change.

I don’t have anything.

You don’t have a dollar in your pocket? Anything?

I’m sorry.


I walked past,

sliding her with a wipe so I could see

one last time

the Pioneer Square

Seattle wants you to see.


The bars,

the architecture,

the bookshops,

the furniture stores.


I got in my car

and rode further

up First Avenue.

Through my windshield

I saw her

still looking.

They told me

to keep my eye on the road

but I wanted to see

the Pioneer Square

Seattle doesn’t want you to see.


But from inside here,

she wasn’t going to land

in my sight

and I wasn’t going

to see her at all.





All of the Films I Watched in 2014 — Part 4

The final fifty. Let the revolution begin.

Films 132-101

Films 100-76

Films 75-51


50. A Fond Kiss (2004) — Ken Loach

Props to a white British man for depicting realistically the horror of your Pakistani family finding out you’re dating a white girl and making it hilarious.


49. The Kids Are Alright (2010) — Lisa Cholodenko

It’s the parents who are screwed up. Manages to delve into usual soapy territory (adultery, bullying, college admissions, lesbians watching man-on-man porn) while keeping its characters down-to-earth.


48. Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004) — Quentin Tarantino

A superior sequel. A little less gratuitous slaughter, a little more soliloquies about Superman and four year olds learning about death.


47. Goodbye, Lenin (2003) — Wolfgang Becker

Just because East Germany suddenly had Coca-Cola, didn’t mean they didn’t have Ostalgie. A wonky satire of Berlin life after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the demands of the West that didn’t suit the needs of the ones who grew up in the East.


46. Snowpiercer (2013) — Bong Joon-ho

Chris Evans in the best role of his life versus Tilda Swinton in the most hilarious role of her life. A great marriage of classist critique and badass action scenes.


45. Great Directors (2012) — Angela Ismailos

A kind of narrow view of contemporary filmmaking (only European and American directors are featured here), the documentary still provides a compelling look inside the mind of some of the best directors out there.


44. Metropolitan (1990) — Whit Stillman

Once you go rich and white, you’re stuck for life. What The Catcher in the Rye if Holden was a little bit more charming and dashed out socialist theories left and right.


43. The Virgin Suicides (1999) — Sofia Coppola

The trickling in of the environmental degradation (gas mask parties) and the cruelty of high school kids point why the virgins did it, but like the boys trying to understand the girls’ motivation themselves, I can only guess the answer. Runs almost completely on a mood of distant awe.


42. Donnie Darko (2002) — Richard Kelly

If you’re going to make a metaphor for schizophrenia, a teenager being tormented by his diabolical rabbit BBF is the way to go. Both beautifully lush and disturbing. One of the best affluenza movies out there.


41. Tokyo Story (1953) — Yasujiro Ozu

The Japanese Fargo. The subtlest passive aggression between parent and child keeps them alienated from each other, leading them to live with the disappointment they have of each other in separation. The feel-good film of 1953.


40. Monsieur Verdoux (1947) — Charles Chaplin

Chaplin’s bumpy transition to sound is evident here, but seeing Charlie Chaplin being his crazy physical self and deliver some sassy capitalist critique on the stand? What could a movie ever need more than that?


39. The Bakery Girl of Monceau (1963) — Eric Rohmer

The spiritual predecessor to Submarine. It captures the ennui of wanting to date the girl you saw on the street and stuffing yourself with cookies when you can’t find her. The defining conflict of our times.


38. The Lego Movie (2014) — Chris Miller and Phil Lord

Able to resonate a complicated theme about “work and play” to kids by using the word “awesome” about a hundred times. Glad this was more than a corporation cash-grab (though President Lego is certainly rolling in it right now).


37. Obvious Child (2014) — Gillian Robespierre

What would it be like for an immature person who gets a surprise pregnancy? It would be horrible and also really funny. Hope the abortion rom-com is here to stay.


36. Amarcord (1973) — Federico Fellini

A year in the life of the shenanigans of a Fascist Italian town. Very funny and also very soulful. I wonder if the Fascist backdrop represents the search these characters have in their rush to grow up.


35. Rebel Without a Cause (1955) — Nicholas Ray

A great movie about life and death and alcoholism and dating. The film is pretty corny, but just self-aware enough to catch itself. Why do we have to play driving to the edge of the cliff chicken? Because we got to. A tragedy that the stars of this movie had to go so young, because all of them are fantastic here.


34. The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology (2012) — Sophie Fiennes and Slavoj Zizek

The coolest and funnest way to analyze systems of societal control. By filing through our media output, Zizek finds succinct instances of a film advertising or resisting the societal ideology at the time and delivers a Marxist-Freudian-Nietzchean explanation for what it might mean. Not for the die-hard Titanic fans out there.

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33. 12 Years a Slave (2013) — Steve McQueen and John Ridley

The kind of movie that makes you mad that human beings could be capable of perpetuating such racist inequality, and uses every beloved white guy actor out there to do it. This movie doesn’t close with plantation owners getting what’s coming to them, but it does give you a picture of how broken socioeconomic systems can be, and the impact that they have on the people they break.


32. Hiroshima mon amour (1959) — Alain Resnais and Marguerite Duras

 It’s first a documentary about Hiroshima, then the morning after a one night stand, then a flashback to Occupied France and then an intense psychodrama – all wrapped up in the pain of losing what you love and being humiliated for loving that person in the first place. It’d be a lot more depressing, if it wasn’t so sexy.


31. Birdman (2014) — Alejandro Gonzales Iñarritu

It’s no Best Picture of the Year, but it’s definitely a hilarious, whirling melodrama of egos too large for this world that utilizes riveting visual techniques to get inside these characters’ heads. And man, do those drums get stuck in your head.


30. Your Sister’s Sister (2012) — Lynn Shelton

Blew me away with how much a story and character can develop in one setting. Funny and well-acted, watching this movie gave me the realization that one really doesn’t need a large budget to make an entertaining film.


29. Jackie Brown (1997) – Quentin Tarantino

Could see why people say this is Tarantino’s best. It doesn’t have too much cinematic flair but the characters really ooze out of the screen. They dance around murder, crime and love and the chase Ordell gives Jackie and the rest of the characters is just engrossing to watch.


28. Citizenfour (2014) — Laura Poitras

A gripping thriller that looks at what the definition of privacy and surveillance are in the wake of the extent NSA’s access to our information. A must-see for any organizer for a discussion about how much careful planning goes into blowing the whistle at a distance from the hand of the law.


27. If… (1968) — Lindsay Anderson

The movie that fueled the fire of revolution in Europe by shooting a priest in it. It’s a weird, twisted movie that openly defies everything about the boarding school system and has no problem breaking the rules into a million pieces. Can’t believe they were able to get away with that ending.


26. Breathless (1959) — Jean-Luc Godard

This movie feels a bit like a call to arms for unconventional filmmaking – its jagged camera and brutal protagonist are heavily unsentimental, but the dialogue between Michel and Patricia manages to worm its way into my heart anyway. The style sprints to the finish line and challenges you to catch up.


25. Gone Girl (2014) — David Fincher

A fantastic blend of satire, melodrama and mystery. This movie understandably has its share of detractors as Amy’s brand of feminism is rather skewed, but the movie reacts to each outlandish twist with a dose of reality that brings each larger-than-life character down to their human levels. As Nick says, “Just because I [did the bad thing that I won’t spoil], doesn’t mean I’m a good person.”


24. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) — Wes Anderson

Not his best in my book, but pretty darn close. Ralph Fiennes continues to arouse me impress me, the Candyland version of East Europe in the 1930s looks great, and the father-son dynamic between Gustave and Zero is in my opinion, the most fun of Anderson’s yet.


23. Double Indemnity (1944) — Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler

“I couldn’t hear my footsteps. They were the sound of a dead man walking.” You can’t beat that writing. Despite being about covering up a murder, it has that feeling, as most Billy Wilder movies do, of being a perfect choice for a rainy day.


22. Boyz in the Hood (1991) — John Singleton

This, to me, is the most compelling way to approach systemic inequality in film. Dig in deep into the personal lives of the characters living with in the inequality and bookend the film with the ones responsible for perpetuating it. One of the last lines: “It’s like they want us to kill each other.” The first shot: Reagan and Bush’s ’84 election poster.


21. Ali: Angst Essen Seele Auf (1974) — Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Can’t be much wrong with a German move about a brown man named Salem living in Berlin who has love problems and can’t speak gut Deutsch. That aside, the way this film goes into the impotence one feels from constantly being judged is sehr fantastic.


20. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) — Wes Anderson

The best Anderson film I’ve seen. What starts off as a quirky family drama goes into a raw depiction of loneliness with a  refreshing ending that brings all the quirkiness back and then some.


19. Lola (1981) — Rainer Werner Fassbinder

This film has a dynamic cinematic quality to it that’s not as nuanced as most of Fassbinder’s other work, but is entertaining all the same. The repartee of neofacism against socialism, Schukert’s gleeful acceptance of his corrupt plutocrat status, von Bohm’s look on his face when he sees Lola in the strip club – this movie’s as fun of a mirror to post-war Germany as it is grim.


18. The Apartment (1960) — Billy Wilder

A surprisingly light-hearted for a film with a suicide subplot. Loved the performances and the staging here though – Jack Lemmon’s airy goodness works as a hilarious and heartwarming contrast to the droll of the insurance offices and the callous affairs of his higher-ups. If only Roger Sterling was a little more CC Baxter and a little less Jeff Sheldrake, he and Joan could have lived happily ever after.


17. The Trip (2010) — Michael Winterbottom

Come come, Mister Bond. You know you love this movie just as much as I do. Guts-busting funny, the kind that cleanses your soul after a particularly bad week at the job you never want to go to again. The mid-life crisis theme is pretty compelling too, but I’ll always remember this movie for telling me to go to bed. For we ride at 10! Ish! After the continental breakfast.

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16. Poison (1991) — Todd Haynes

“Just as the outside world shut me out, I too shut out the world.” For a movie filled with abusive spitting, this is a really beautiful film. The links between the parallel storylines, the anxieties of being a gay man in the late eighties, are as chilling as they are evocative, going to show you that a film doesn’t make to make rational sense to make sense.


15. The 400 Blows (1959) — Francois Truffaut

Beautiful score, beautiful cinematography, beautiful everything. Truffaut steers a ship into Antoine’s life and the audience is just passing by, seeing his life slowly deteriorate until he’s alone in his demise at the end. Despite his bleak outlook, Antoine remains upbeat and opportunistic, which makes this sometimes harrowing film delightful to watch.


14. Cleo from 5 to 7 (1961) — Agnes Varda

Loved how the film uses real-time to show the effect waiting for the test results has on Cléo’s own view of her mortality. It might mean a serious illness, but she has no way of knowing until seven o’clock, so what does she do until then? Sing pop songs, watch movies, meet with friends – all the things about her youth she might be saying goodbye to.


13. I Am Not a Hipster (2012) — Destin Daniel Cretton

Saves itself from its title (which isn’t even mentioned in the film – could have used a title change). Starts off kind of funny but depressing, and then focuses on the Japanese tsunami long enough to make you catatonically upset, and then brings in the main characters’ sisters and friends and becomes whimsical and fun. I love the question it presents about art – in the ubiquity of personal projects in the digital age, what is art and what is “fluffy shit”?


12. Scenes From a Marriage (1973) — Ingmar Bergman

The slow degradation of a marriage charted over the course of years. Small arguments or unfulfilled promises slowly drift husband and wife away, but no matter how far away they’re taken from each other, they never quite lose the other. A must-see for anyone who’s currently in long-term relationship with another person.


11. Bridesmaids (2011) — Paul Feig, Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig

This is what a movie’s supposed to be. Fun and real. Really fun. I saw it on an airplane and nearly broke my throat trying to suppress my laughter. Would do it again in a heartbeart.

Only Lovers Left Alive

10. Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) — Jim Jarmusch

The hippest movie of the year. Vampires on the brink of their peaceful existence due to dwindling resources as metaphor for humanity’s impending doom. No matter how many vintage guitars they own, their literal fatigue with humanity has worn them down, keeping them further away from what it’s like to be alive. Good thing they’re not living in the zombie capital of the world.


9. Slacker (1991) — Richard Linklater

A movie that grows on me every time I watch it. The premise of revolving characters takes a while to wrap one’s head around, but in using an ensemble from a variety of different classes, Linklater shows Austin in all its strange alternative costumes. Whether someone’s getting a cup of coffee, or stealing a television, or heading to the party, they’ve got plenty to say about the world – usually more than the character they’re talking to wants to hear, but it’s plenty for us.


8. My Dinner with Andre (1981) — Louis Malle, Wallace Shawn and André Gregory

Takes a while to get going, but once Wallace and André butt heads about the state of Western civilization, it’s on! For anyone who likes the talking kinds of film, this is a staple.

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7. Short-Term 12 (2013) — Destin Daniel Cretton

Bolstered by great naturalistic performances and by the hauntingly beautiful projects the teenagers in the psych ward create. That a film this bleak made me smile more times than I can remember made watching this the happiest marriage between viewer and film I’ve had in a while.


6. One Wonderful Sunday (1947) — Akira Kurosawa

An optimist’s The Bicycle Thief. Over the course of a Sunday in which a couple can’t afford to spend more than 25 yen, they are constantly confronted by the disparate state their lives and country have been left in after the war and grapple with the possibility that this new Japan might not be for them. Knew I loved this movie when Yuzo goes to an opera house and is given a hot meal for the first time that day, but he realizes it’s because he’s mistaken for a yakuza, he rejects it.


5. A Coffee in Berlin (2012) — Jan Ole Gester

I’m biased because this film is largely set in the same neighborhood where I went to school in Berlin, but watching this gave me the most excitement at the theater this year. A context of Berlin’s frank and aggressively forward culture helps to fully appreciate the humor, but watching Niko fumble through a day in Berlin sober amongst a cast of characters is hilarious no matter what language you speak.


4. Boyhood (2014) — Richard Linklater

 Linklater takes the theme of time passing, which he’s been tackling from some angle since his first, and stretches it as far as it can go. Some might say too far (it is a little long), but as each moment passes in the film, I found myself wishing the moments in Mason’s childhood would last longer in the way I often wish my childhood did. Even the white savior bit doesn’t mar this from being the best movie of the year for me.


3. Jules and Jim (1962) — Francois Truffaut

Truffaut has that ability to make tragic stories really fun to watch. Catherine is a bit crazy, but she’s a dynamic personality who’s only allowed by society the ability to define her life within the contexts of her relationships. Watching her choose between Jules and Jim (who are probably the most polite to each other people have ever behaved in a long triangle), is kind of sad, kind of funny and incredibly entertaining.

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2. Paths of Glory (1957) — Stanley Kubrick

A general prosecutes the survivors of his suicide mission to save face. A gripping tale about how egos can cost the lives of others, even when Kirk Douglas comes up with solid evidence to defend their case. A primary influence on The Wire and countless other stories about challenging institutions. The ending makes one of the most surprising turns I’ve seen at a denouement, and the result broke my heart and rejuvenated my soul.


1. Imitation of Life (1959) — Douglas Sirk, Eleanore Griffin, Allan Scott

The combination of racial, class and gender conflicts in this lush and powerful drama creates a story that is at one time a depiction of stereotype and another a brutal subversion of that stereotype. The kind of movie where you watch characters who feel real grappling with the unfortunate implications of their relationships, and hope that if they can work through them, then maybe humanity can work through them.

That’s all! Hope you’ve got some suggestions for your to-watch list!

All The Films I saw in 2014 — Part 3

Ah. I love the smell of highly flammable sink water in the morning.

Films 132-101

Films 100-75


75. GasLand (2010) — Josh Fox

Whether Josh Fox sensationalizes the truth or not, GasLand provides ample room for the discussion about the environmental impact of fracking and corporations’ inability to engage in dialogue about it.


74. The Elephant Man (1980) — David Lynch

Dumbo, but with an elephant who is actually a man. Surprisingly straightforward for David Lynch, but the true-life plot is so surreal that it fits.


73. Tadpole (2000) — Gary Winick, Heather McGowan and Niels Mueller

A digital home movie about a preppy teenager who’s in love with his stepmother. Hilarious Voltaire quotes ensue.


72. Computer Chess (2013) — Andrew Bujalksi

A trippy movie about computers performed mostly by actual computer programmers (including Wiley Wiggins, the star of Dazed and Confused). When we created the first computer chess programs, did we create sentient life?

The Ice Storm

71. The Ice Storm (1997) — Ang Lee and James Schamus

A 70’s period piece about a family on ice… during an ice storm. Nixon lied to us, so why shouldn’t we cheat on our spouses?


70. Stardust Memories (1980) — Woody Allen

Made me feel very anxious for the rest of the day in the way most Woody Allen movies make me feel. That withstanding, you can’t beat that use of Moonlight Serenade.


69. Whiplash (2014) — Damien Chazelle

Definitely not on the bandwagon about this film being the example for achieving greatness, but I am on the bandwagon that this tense, sharply edited and scored battle of egos hits the mark on the troublesome ideology of “Practice makes perfect.”


68. Apocalypse Now (1979) — Francis Ford Coppola

A symphony of the violent effects of American interventionism. Excluding the ending with Brando, this has my money for one of Coppola’s best films to date.


67. The Hunt (2012) — Thomas Vinterberg

Even if your small town Danish neighbors love you, the first chance to besmirch your character will be taken. One of those movies that manages to be a repetition of the same scene without feeling repetitive.


66. The Bicycle Thief (1948) — Vittorio De Sica

A deep look at how the community of Rome’s poor suffers and how a lack of compassion creates a mentality of having to fend for yourself. Sad as hell ending.


65. Fargo (1996) — The Coens

I’m usually not a fan of the Coens fucking-with-you-ness, but hearing these people with different accents fail to communicate with each other is too hilarious not to be charmed by.


64. Bernie (2011) — Richard Linklater

A weird but great blend of documentary and drama with one of Jack Black’s greatest performances. The only film to lead to the parole of the film’s subject to live in the director’s garage.


63. Side by Side (2012) — Christopher Kenneally and Keanu Reeves

A education on digital filmmaking as told by its critics like Scorcese and Nolan and its staunch supporters like Cameron and Lucas. Also gives the industry opinion on the Canon 5D (they’re not about that life).


62. I Killed My Mother (2009) — Xavier Dolan

A Breathless for the digital age. Proof that the boundaries of filmmaking can still be pushed in visually breathtaking ways (I mean, just look at his eyebrows).

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61. The Double Durum Challenge (2014) — Dylan Freehauf

A must-see for any fans of Mustafa’s and fine döner.


60. Certified Copy (2010) — Abbas Kiarostami

All of the Before Trilogy film mashed into one a la Alan Renais. Begs the question “What is a certified copy and what does it matter?”


59. Wild Strawberries (1957) — Ingmar Bergman

A movie that moves me the more I think about it, this film about nostalgia demonstrates some of Bergman’s best abilities to communicate feelings of mortality and relationship ennui and point at something hopeful at the end.


58. Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013) — Frank Pavich

The hilarious Alejandro Jodorowsky recounts his failed attempt of creating his adaptation of Dune, the plans of which went on to influence some of the biggest sci-fi films of the 70s and 80s. It’s amazing to see how personally attached he got and how he’s able to laugh it off years after the fact.


57. Minnie and Moskowitz (1971) — John Cassavetes

It’s mind-numbingly frustrating to see these two people who have little chemistry keep running back to each other, but there’s something truthful about it. Sometimes the people who get a rise out of us are the ones we crave.


56. The Big Chill (1983) — Lawrence Kasdan

Where were all those civil rights protestors when America turned to its neoliberalism ushered in by the Reagan era? Right, they became yuppies. A tender and grounded look at the disconnect between friends who no longer like who they’ve become and are forced to reexamine themselves when one of them commits suicide.


55. Blue Valentine (2010) — Ryan Cianfrance

The whole reason they don’t work as a couple could be summed up in one line “…I found Megan”.


54. Clerks (1994) — Kevin Smith

Just because you’re a loser doesn’t mean you can’t have a day of witty existentialist banter and an impromptu hockey match on the roof.


53. Waking Life (2001) — Richard Linklater

Takes a while to get going, but once the conceit becomes clear, it’s exhilarating to see Linklater take us through this journey of dreams, which as per Linklater’s characters, features more philosophical musing than it does dream-like imagery (although there’s a fair amount of that as well).


52. Today, Yesterday and Tomorrow (1964) — Vittorio De Sica

Delivers cartoonish characters so hilarious the social critique just trickles in. I’m still not fully sure how the three shorts line up (maybe reaffirms matrimony and religion over money and bureaucracy?), but it’s so funny what does it matter? “Rusconi!”


51. Say Anything… (1989) — Cameron Crowe

Manages to sidestep the trappings of the “my dad doesn’t like my boyfriend” trope to tell a story about rejecting every corporation out there except love.

Stay tuned next time for the revolution, y’all.

All the Films I Saw in 2014 — Part 2

Welcome back to the countdown! If you’re reeling from the frustration of the Oscars’ apparent refusal to acknowledge the racial climate just as much as I am, then stroll back through memory lane with me and remember all of the voices the Oscars chose to forget this year.

Films 132-101


100. Love is Strange (2014) — Ira Sachs

While twee and focuses too much on the unlikable family members for my taste, the film is a genuine love story of two older men who are torn apart by homophobia, age and the shitshow that is finding a decently priced apartment in New York.


99.The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014) — Francis Lawrence, Danny Strong and Peter Craig

The Hunger Games gets even darker, pitting Katniss against PTSD, a media circus for a different government, and a Peeta who does Capitol TV interviews. While I’m still skeptical of the need to split Mockingjay into two parts, I can’t say I didn’t love the imagery in the final shot.


98. Beginners (2010) — Mike Mills

A cutesy but raw portrait of an artist chronicling the deaths of his parents. Mills’ strength is in letting the audience know exactly in what space and time the story takes place, and it oozes out of this tale of Christopher Plummer’s character exploring his homosexuality in the late stages of his life.


97. Sweetie (1989) — Jane Campion

A beautifully shot film about the secrets we hide to protect our loved ones, because one little revelation just might make someone take their top off in front of a nine-year old boy.


96. Another Earth (2011) — Mike Cahill and Brit Marling

Proof that sci-fi can be done on any budget, as long as there’s strong characters and a musical saw.


95. The Grifters (1990) — Stephen Frears

One of the best-written endings in the suspense genre. Angelica Huston was so invested in her scene that she ran from set in tears.


94. Veronica Voss (1982) — Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Fassbinder’s critique of postwar Germany through the lens of a fading UFA star. Is torturing former Nazi sympathizers justifiable retribution?


93. Shoot The Piano Player (1960) — Francois Truffaut

A gangster flick more about an artist’s angst and wondering why she doesn’t love you than about running away from gangsters. Can’t say there’s anything wrong with that.

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92. Wandelgeist (2014) — Dylan Freehauf

Life ain’t easy post-grad. But there might be something past that horizon.

The Newton Boys, 1998.

91. The Newton Boys (1998) — Richard Linklater

It’s a straight period gangster piece, which might not groove with people who like Linklater’s usual experiments with narrative, but it’s packed with a strong script, bucketloads of charm and an Ethan Hawke mustache, which is more than enough for me.


90. Chaplin (1992) — Richard Attenbourgh

Caught in the sentimental trappings of the biopic, but I forgive the overemphasis on Chapin’s romantic life for any scene where Chaplin gets to stick it to the man (especially when the man in question is J. Edgar Hoover).


89. MASH (1970) — Robert Altman

A macabre satire about the horror of male army machismo that maybe goes too far, which is fine, because it’s hilarious.


88. Nightcrawler (2014) — Dan Gilroy

Who runs the world? Sociopaths. A scathing examination at media manipulation and what passes for success in this country.

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87. Sandy Stories (2013) — NYU Divest: Go Fossil Free!

The movie that showed me that mobilizing to fight climate change isn’t a pipe dream.


86. Warsaw 44 (2014) — Jan Komasa

Some of the coolest and funnest action scenes I’ve seen this year. Dubstep shouldn’t ordinarily work in a film about the Polish resistance in WWII, but it does here.


85. Dear White People (2014) — Justin Simien

An Altman-esque examination at how racial mores pervade our consciousness in our hashtag millennial culture. Not as funny as the trailer led me to believe, but just as compelling.


84. Million Dollar Arm (2014) — Thomas McCarthy and Craig Gillespie

Jon Hamm in India? Yes please. A sharp script that accurately describes the clash between American and Indian culture and what the phrase “bypassing the system” means in both.

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83. The Double (2013) — Richard Ayoade and Avi Korine

A super mind-bending thriller with a plot that sort of makes sense and characters who are just as confused as you are. Not as accessible as Ayoade’s debut Submarine, but retains his ability to turn an otherwise drab location into a cinematic landscape.


82. Persona (1966) — Ingmar Bergman

A masterclass in editing, lighting, acting, everything that has to do with telling a story in film. If a woman rids herself of motherhood, who is she? Is she even allowed a voice?

"The Square"

81. The Square (2013) — Jehane Noujaim

An instruction manual on how to partake in a revolution with today’s technology. Hopeful for change even in the face of unrelenting authoritarianism.


80. Tiny Furniture (2010) — Lena Dunham

Even though Lena Dunham might not have known the intricacies of digital versus film while making this, she made a movie that fits the aesthetic of low-budget digital perfectly. You use whatever you got to make something, even if you’ve only got a rocking horse and Nietzsche quotes.


79. Kramer v. Kramer (1979) — Robert Benson

Like a novel in how free the characters are to explore their relationships with each other instead of strictly engaging in conflict. What Mad Men would be if Don Draper spent more time with his children than his girlfriend of the season.


78. Adieu Au Langage (2014) — Jean-Luc Godard

Also in competition for the weirdest. A jarring but provocative look at how communication is changing due to technology. When wars are fought by machines, movies talk more than lovers do and people look at their phones during most conversations, perhaps the only ones who remember how to show affection are puppies.


77. Walking and Talking (1997) — Nicole Holofcener

The template feels familiar now, but this tale of two New York women struggling with the potential end of their friendship stayed with me. It might be because of the fantastic ending, or it might be because this is essentially an episode of Girls minus an explicit sex scene.


76. Tape (2001) — Richard Linklater

Earns its stageplay conventions with the freedom of the camera and the actors’ great ability to lie through their teeth. Even when there’s a taped confession, there’s still no way of knowing the truth.

Come back next time for next 25!