My name is Matthew and I am on the internet a lot.
1. Kathleen Winter, Annabel
2. James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room
3. Howard Hardiman, The Lengths
4. Gabriel Roth, The Unknowns
5. Elizabeth Jolley, Woman In A Lampshade
6. Ivy Compton-Burnett, The Present and the Past
7. Truman Capote, Other Voices, Other Rooms
8. Alysia Abbott, Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father
9. Graham Swift, Shuttlecock
10. Colin Cotterill, The Coroner’s Lunch
At the start of 2013 I gave myself three themes: books released within the previous year, books released in 1981, the year I was born; and queer classics. I was 3/1/4. (Not that The Lengths is a classic, being that it only came out in October.)
The top five are great; Elizabeth Jolley, an Australian novelist who didn’t publish her first book until she was 53, is something of an undiscovered treasure, I think.
I’m now trying to devise some 2014 reading guidelines for myself…
(*There were also three that I would kind of classify as work and which I will refrain from ranking here.)
1. Frances Ha
Set in an overwhelmingly cutesy version of New York—if I actually lived in New York I would probably hate this movie—Frances Ha reminded me a lot of Bridesmaids, an equally squirmy comedy about dealing (or not dealing) with friends who are obliviious to the fact that they make (and spend) a lot more money than you.
2. Side Effects
Steven Soderbergh’s year peaked with Behind The Candelabra, so a lot of people missed this pharmaceutical thriller, released in the dead of winter and which I saw while snowbound in New Haven. What Side Effects is supposed to be about and what it’s actually about are both less important than the ways in which the plot implodes on itself, over and over. And then the conclusion, made oddly more believable by the gall with which its unbelievable facts are delivered.
3. Upstream Color
I somehow missed the buzz around Upstream Color altogether until it started streaming on Netflix right around Christmas. What a weird movie!
4. American Hustle
I have so many favorite parts of American Hustle: the gratuitous pouring of Galliano, Jennifer Lawrence’s accent, Colleen Camp!, Jennifer Lawrence’s hair. It’s not the deepest film ever made, but it’s certainly very entertaining, and the attention to detail is less remarkable than the love of detail, like in the scene where Jeremy Renner is talking with his hands and the camera pans down, ostensibly to show you the gestures but clearly to point out how great his pants are.
5. The Wolverine
Overall one of the better X-Men movies, despite the fact that it was largely set in Japan and so I went in assuming that it would be as terribly racist as any other American movie set in Japan. but there’s no Yakuza, and only once does Wolverine say sayonara while killing someone. Take what you can, I guess?
6. The Bling Ring
Sofia Coppola’s study of rich teenagers who break into the homes of their even richer contemporaries was based on a true story, and it’s unclear whether the film will date at all well once we collectively forget about the existence of people like Audrina Patridge. But the film’s central ennui and the palpable lust for simple proximity to celebrity, any celebrity, are handled really effectively. Also: bonus points for having an Asian-American lead that isn’t an awful stereotype.
7. What Maisie Knew
The toy budget for What Maisie Knew must have been enormous. All those crafty, unbranded wood and felt pieces don’t come cheap. But they don’t mean much to little Maisie, despite the screen time they’re given, and only reinforce the idea that parents are inherently terrible people. The split between the parents, Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan, is cruel and excruciating, but her saviors, who come together in a way that only Henry James could make seem plausible, are really only better in the short-term.
8. Much Ado About Nothing
There’s nothing wrong with Joss Whedon’s snippy, wine-soaked venture into Shakespeare territory. It’s well-shot and all of the actors are quite likeable, especially Amy Acker as Beatrice. But the 1993 Kenneth Branagh adaptation was so important to me as a seventh-grader, Keanu Reeves and all, that any future version would have to be life-altering to really mean much to me. And this is… pretty, but not really essential, for fans of Shakespeare or for fans of Whedon, either.
9. A Good Day To Die Hard
Last Valentine’s Day my boyfriend and I went to see A Good Day To Die Hard, and boy oh boy was it ever bad. Bruce Willis is reduced to saying “But I’m on vacation!” anytime there was a lull in the action—frequently, in other words—and the guy they cast to play his son/presumable heir to the franchise was such a dud that I can’t even be bothered to Google his name right now.
If you had any doubts that a Jason Statham vehicle co-starring Jennifer Lopez as an unscrupulous realtor would be amazingly stinky, consider that it starts out with a completely endless heist sequence set at the Ohio State Fair. And that’s before Nick Nolte shows up. I watched Parker on a very, very long flight. At the time it seemed like a better pre-vacation movie than either that Gerard Butler-Jennifer Aniston soccer mom movie or the sanitized edit of Django Unchained.
1. Stories We Tell
2. 12 Years A Slave
4. Inside Llewyn Davis*
5. The Look of Love
6. Berberian Sound Studio
7. In A World…
8. Shadow Dancer
9. Some Velvet Morning*
10. Spring Breakers
11. Don Jon
12. The Canyons
13. Runner Runner
14. Pain & Gain
16. Beautiful Creatures
21. Geography Club
22. Black Nativity
23. The Counslor
24. Europa Report
25. An Oversimplification of Her Beauty
26. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
I went to a nursing school, which meant hospital, and one of the crazier people I’ve ever met in my life joined me for a brief elevator ride to the basement bookstore. She was flipping out because she was always flipping out, and I was flipping out once I saw my course schedule, which included both a bull riding elective and a class called Topics In Indonesia: The Seafood Industry. I went back and forth internally about whether these were exciting things and wondered whether I’d actually have to smell or taste much seafood. At the bookstore I also got my grades from the previous semester, which included a D for not finishing a class; even now, ten years out of college, I dream that there are classes that I sign up for but forget to ever go to. I also got a notice that my GPA had knocked down half a point for stealing dinner rolls from the dining hall when I wasn’t technically on a meal plan.
I’m about three quarters of the way through Peter Orner’s Last Car Over The Sagamore Bridge, a book I mostly like but which is taking me forever to finish. It’s because it’s mostly very short stories—there are fifty-two in the book and it’s under two hundred pages—and I can’t read more than one or two in one sitting.
This is a problem that I’ve noticed other people don’t seem to have, for some reason, not with this book but with books of short stories in general. When I try to read more than one or two in a row I stop paying attention. Or not that I stop paying attention but my brain won’t catch up even if my eyes keep scanning the pages. I read Orner’s “At The Fairmont,” all five or so pages of it, and then I had to read the one-page “Roman Morning” four times before I could figure out what was going on.
I keep sitting down to read and then ten minutes later I’m back up, pacing around, checking my email, looking for something else to do. The funny part of all this is that I’ve actually been writing very short prose lately and for some reason the reading side of things hadn’t actually occurred to me until right now.
In the post Noted CBS Journalist Itay Hod Pretty Much Just Outed Homophobic GOP Rep. Aaron Schock, Queerty points us to a 457 word Facebook post—a 457 word Facebook post!—by Itay Hod in which the reporter rants about how homophobic Illinois Representative Aaron Schock more likely than not likes dudes. Which for all I know is true. But his evidence…
1. One of his friends said he caught Schock in the shower with another man. As one commenter points out, what kind of shower? At the gym? That doesn’t count.
2. TMZ caught him trolling gay bars, he says, although no one seems to have whatever footage he’s talking about.
That’s pretty much it, in terms of evidence, apparently.
Queerty and others have added all kinds of tangential evidence—he wears plaid pants! he follows Tom Daley on Instagram! he was in Men’s Health with his shirt off!*—but, I don’t know, I feel like there’s not enough here to get excited over, unless Hod has better facts and CBS won’t let him break the story. That would be an actual news story. But jeez, dude, if you’re that worked up just sell it to Gawker or something.
*What the hell?