Hands down winner: Deutschland 83
2) You’re the Worst
3) House of Cards
5) The Americans
Here are the best movies I saw on Netflix in 2015.
Top 5 Art Events of 2013 DFW
#1 The Kimbell, as the museum located physically in between the Amon Carter and the Fort Worth Modern, is now a stylistic bridge between the two thanks to the brand new Piano Pavilion . The Piano Pavilion (it even has that new museum smell) leans towards the minimalist architecture of the Modern Museum of Art while the original Kimbell echoes the Amon Carter with its prominent use of stone and wood. Even more than being the delicious filling in the museum sandwich, the Piano Pavilion provides distinctive spaces and structure for the visitor to appreciate the depth of the Kimbell’s wide ranging collection. My favorite Metroplex museum just got better.
#2 Aurora 2013, a massive, night-time, art walk in the Dallas Arts District was just overwhelming. The Dallas Arts District brags that it is the largest arts district in the country. But its unwieldy size and lack of cohesion made it seem like an arts district in name only, but during Aurora 2013 the Arts District was firing on all cylinders. Aurora was also when I developed a deeper appreciation for what an important space Klyde Warren Park. KWP walked both sides of the line: always being right in the middle of it all, while somehow remaining a separate, peaceful place with skyscrapers on each side, highway traffic roaring underneath and fenced in by city traffic. Who would have thunk it.
It was exhausting to keep track of the dozens of installations in Aurora. There was a trick or treat feel to the gallery walk. Art bumped right up against the crowd with pop-up displays everywhere and serendipitous interruptions by dancers. It was an enormous social media event as well, with pictures, videos, comments and dueling hashtags. Aurora 2013 was such a huge event on so many levels, and so effectively planned that it didn’t feel planned at all. Check out my video of the Singin in the Rain installation http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GjxRmwSEw4
#3 SMU Opera was my favorite discovery of the year. As someone who doesn’t know anything about opera, the bite-sized performances in the lobby of SMU’s Bob Hope Theater have made me opera-curious. These samples of opera have made me more familiar with different styles and periods (the Romantic period: YUCK). Most importantly, I have gotten a glimpse of the different styles of the performers in the diverse SMU opera cast. There are some booming voices in the cast, but there are some much quieter voices that are no less commanding. These mini concerts take place during the week at noon, so I have been extremely lucky to make this discovery.
#4 DMA Friends & Free General Admission. There has been something of a theme about throwing open the doors of the Dallas Museum of Art and inviting the public in (eventually I am sure the DMA communications team will be able to get on-message), but these developments are bigger than accessibility and de-snobbing the largest art museum in Dallas. DMA Friends makes the DMA a world leader in electronic engagement. Does the program take you away from the art? The exact same criticism is made of museum plaques and how long have they been around? I really see DMA Friends as laying the groundwork for a program that is more interactive and promotes more engagement down the road. It has been so successful that it would be hard to say it is in beta, but I think it is the infrastructure for an experience museums (even the Smithsonian) have only dreamed of. Combined with the SMU’s National Center for Arts Research, Dallas is turning into an arts laboratory and an arts leader.
#5 Matisse/Picasso was my favorite exhibition of the year. The title of the exhibition is a total misnomer – this is a great survey of modern art from the beginning of the 20th century to the end of World War II. The glimpses from each era demonstrate the progression of art in the early 20th century. Included in the mix are the best Picassos in the Chicago Art Institute’s collection — I found myself wondering if the Art Institute had lost a bet that they let such spectacular works such as blue period classic “The Old Blind Guitarist” and “Mother and Child” out on loan. It is still here through February 16 and if you are really feeling ambitious, catch the well reviewed Mexico Inside Out exhibit at the Modern Museum until January 5.
Juggling so much this year, my top five is in no way intended to be a comprehensive list. That said, I think 2013 was a landmark year for the arts in the Metroplex, it was special to be able to experience as much of it as I did.
*The featured image is from the Diwali party at Art of Old India in the Design District. Art of Old India is one of my favorite spaces in the Metroplex, I would highly recommend checking them out.
1. MUSEUM HOURS
When I pitch this film to friends, I can see their eyes glaze over with descriptions of “slow and quiet,” “lots of shots of artwork,” “a friendship instead of a romance.” I wish I could more succinctly capture why I love this exquisitely wrought, distinctively wise film so dearly. It is sturdy in its stillness and unearths humanity so delicately. The two leads, Mary Margaret O’Hara and Bobby Sommer, are pure grace and soul. Writer/director Jem Cohen has created a gift of a film. “It is bluer than I could tell.”
2. TO THE WONDER
Love begins to describe it. The familiar and alien as two sides of the same undulating ribbon. “…in a dream you can’t make mistakes.” I know now what it is to have my life flash before my eyes–a beautiful, tear-inducing (and, yes, religious) experience. God bless you, Terrence Malick.
3. LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE
Punishing, pure, poetic. Mungiu is a piercingly keen observer of humanity’s weaknesses. Breathtaking compositions. Heart-rending storytelling. A crucible. A mirror. A painting.
5. THE ACT OF KILLING
The most revealing “selfie” ever. Of Anwar. Of humankind.
6. POST TENEBRAS LUX
“I could feel every blade.” Thank you, Mr. Reygadas. You made a The Tree of Life that I could embrace wholeheartedly. The theme? I think Michael Sicinski described it best: “…the need to defend the family against all potential threats, foreign and domestic.” Many complain of the choice to shoot with an almost constant “tilt shift” focus, but I found it powerful. It creates the closest replication of what a first-person POV, personal memory “looks like” to me. And those first several minutes are some of the most gorgeous I’ve ever experienced in a darkened theater.
7. COMPUTER CHESS
“Everything is not everything.” Artifacts on a collision course. Kubrickian moves in miniature. What a screenplay. What a delight.
8. YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHIN’ YET
Romantic, quixotic, intoxicating. A gambit of the heart, a song for the soul. Resnais and his stellar cast conjure magic.
9. THE GREAT BEAUTY
“What’s wrong with feeling nostalgic?” Indulgently sweeping, sweetly fleeting. A lush reminder of what cinema can do. Bravo, Sorrentino and Servillo.
Jeff Nichols does America proud with a Huck Finn tale that knots a handsome, homespun fable out of rope, dust, silt and spit. One great performance after another with dialogue as lived-in as decade-old dungarees.
“I was there.” So plainly American. Like drinking from a stream or recognizing the pinch of a bruise. Dern and Forte are surprisingly strong sparring partners.
12. THE PAST
It wasn’t this film’s plot or dialogue that fascinated me, but all the delicately observed details–from visual metaphors tucked around the decaying house to gut-punches delivered in the smallest gestures. Farhadi is a master storyteller.
13. THE COUNSELOR
It’s an honor to be the quarry when Ridley and Cormac are killing it. Elegant, brutal, philosophical, romantic and dead sexy.
What a thrill to soak up the spoils of director Chan-wook Park’s lush visual imagination. Thrumming with an electric love of the delicious dark. Ever-so-grimly comic at its core with a florid fascination with what lures the female heart, mind and desire–potential weapons all.
15. BLUE JASMINE
I don’t remember Woody ever feeling this relaxed. Just tremendous. Cate wrings herself out and it’s a thrill to watch her operate.
16. SIDE EFFECTS
A sly thriller teeming with sharp social commentary. Vividly captures the tightrope walk of maintaining one’s security and reputation in modern life. It seems all manner of manipulation is breathtaking in Soderbergh’s hands. Jude Law gives one of the best performances of the year as a man who is crumbling in the face of scandal. I went unusually long on this film over on my Letterboxd.com post.
17. MOTHER OF GEORGE
Shots so gorgeous, you can feel them in your molars. A satisfyingly assured command of what to leave out. Director Andrew Dosunmu and DP Bradford Young weave true beauty.
18. NOBODY’S DAUGHTER HAEWON
Limited exposure to Hong made me think I’d always find his films maddening, but this pleasant drift (aka FRANCES HA-EWON) grew on me steadily in the 48 hours after seeing it. I was especially impressed by the film’s examination of the currency of “pretty,” which is done off-handedly, but powerfully. Jeong Eun-Chae’s performance gradually won me over too. Hopefully this film will get a U.S. release, but I’m including it here just in case it doesn’t.
19. WHITE HOUSE DOWN
A total blast. The most fun I’ve had at an action film in a loooong while. Tatum and Clarke delighted me. Surprisingly visually plush for the genre. Felt like putting on cashmere.
20. FRANCES HA
A very sweet, pleasant diversion that has become my latest go-to hang-out film. I’ll just stream it on Netflix in the background to enjoy glimpses of glimpses and sound bites of that charming dialogue. Refreshing to see Baumbach play it loose. Gerwig is a special kind of sunshine.
Looking at my Netflix shipping history, I average about 200 movies a year. There were some that I loved but would not be everyone’s cup of tea (Good Dick, Dirty Girl, Matisse/Picasso, Mark of Cain). The following picks I would recommend to anyone.
Kumare: It starts out like a well intentioned Borat, but instead Kumare ends up being his own victim. The best hug ever captured on film.
Human Desire: A film noir with a femme fatale who actually drives the plot. Gloria Grahame is a true puppet master. The more over the top she goes, the more sinister and scary she becomes.
Brass Teapot: A thought provoking comedy. This film has it all!
Elles: There are a lot of very controversial assumptions baked into Elles. But the story it tells is how fragile people are even when it seems they have life all figured out. Dear Hollywood, please do not attempt a remake of this movie, I still haven’t forgiven you for messing with perfection by remaking Le diner de cons.
Please Vote For Me: Take that Mr. Smith Goes to Washington! The only thing more sad than the tears of the children who weren’t elected is how the election was decided. The film makers do a great job of getting out of the way.
House of Cards: So Good!
While easy on the eyes, this film fumbles the story. Chekhov told a pretty conventional story, in The Lady with the Little Dog. It’s a love story but a love story ultimately skeptical of love. The Lovers tells a pretty unconventional story, but it feels so conventional. I think Malle is trying to make the same point as Chekhov but instead he falls victim to the bane of French film: he gets tripped up in style.
Check out my vizify bio. https://www.vizify.com/drew-davis An electronic elevator speech/introduction. Protip: let the internets do all the work.
I was lucky enough to attend the first part of the American Association of Airport Executives Third Annual Social Media conference right here in Dallas on September 9th. I had a chance to listen to some outstanding speakers, and to meet Travel Channel celebrity Dickie Davis, of Airport 24/7 Miami (she is even nicer in person). Some of the interesting topics included, ROI at DFW and American Airlines, Indianapolis airport’s experience as a gateway for the Superbowl and the improbable story about how grit and good ideas launched tiny Canton Akron Airport (CAK) as an icon of the region with almost 60,000 Facebook likes.
The keynote speaker was, Charles Schuler, Associate Deputy Director of Communications and Marketing for San Francisco airport, who spoke about the recent crash of Asiana Airlines. Charles began by discussing the rather perfunctory preparation for an emergency at SFO and how those preparations stacked up against everything that happened (not well).
July 6, was a day off for Charles until he got an alert from BBC News that there was a crash at SFO. Charles, an employee on the Communications Department of SFO airport, heard it first from the BBC Breaking News.
There were a number of features complicating this tragedy:
When the NTSB arrived a day later the dynamics had completely changed with the NTSB taking a leading role.
Here were some of the surprising take-aways from his experience.
Finally you hear the shibboleth all the time about how listening is so important, in the past that seemed kind of nebulous to me. Charles stressed throughout the presentation the importance of ‘taking the temperature’ figuring out what was getting traction. There was an example he used about working with the FAA to get media outlets a detailed explanation of how ILS works that really illustrates this point. It was inspiring to hear about how those best practices were actually implemented and how they affected the outcome.
Protip: take your electronics chargers to a conference. There were unused electric sockets everywhere, but I was in conserving battery mode instead of just plugging in.
Unless you have been living in a cave, you know that Instagram is a photo sharing social media service (sms) recently acquired by Facebook for $1 billion. Who knew that photos of people’s lunches could be so valuable! And that is sort of the knock against Instagram (we’ve heard the same thing about every sms that has gotten big) that no one cares about the minutiae of your life.
Instagram’s big innovation was creating a dozen pre-defined filters that allow the Instagrammer to editorialize their photo. By controlling, enhancing or downplaying colors and using the filters to manipulate the lighting you can change the focus of the photo. Is it the sunlight on the building, were you focused on something in the foreground or background, did a color catch your eye, is there an amazing amount of pepper on the pastrami? In short, the filters really give you a chance to emphasize why you took the picture.
Of course there are a few lunch pictures in my 500 Instagram photos. But am I thinking of an audience when I take a picture, Meredith Fineman seems to think so – here is her $0.02 on the matter http://www.fastcompany.com/3013197/unplug/how-instagram-almost-ruined-my-life?partner=newsletter
I have taken a few pictures to get a like from a particular follower, but that isn’t why I am on Instagram. For me Instagram is like creating postcards of all of my adventures. Of course I am glad if people like my photos, but that isn’t why I am going to all the trouble of going to a museum.
Instagram became available for android right about the time we moved from St. Louis to Dallas. Most of my searches have been for places I love the most in St. Louis. I see places that I know and sometimes I can even SEE the weather, like it looks chilly (how can that be when it is 90 in Dallas).
Although any St. Louisan would argue that the wider world isn’t really necessary (especially anything outside of 270), the world is on Instagram too. Of the 150 million active users, 60% are outside the United States. There are Emirates Airlines flight crews who routinely have 24 hour swanky layovers in all corners of the world. There are even photos from North Korea (seriously follow: drewkelly dguttenfelder). There are little corners of that make the world feel like home and there are others that seem impossibly exotic.
I understand where Meredith Fineman is coming from, but my experience is that social media has never been about minutiae. Meredith, spend more time searching for your favorite places and places that have always captured your imagination – take the scenic route! As you see the wider world, you might be inspired to get off the couch and go to that gallery or go to a polo match or step outside your comfort zone in some way. Even if stepping outside your comfort zone doesn’t live up to your hopes, you can be sure to get some good Instagram shots out of it, and if you are really lucky you can even geotag the photos.
I admit that my North Texas Instagram feed is still a little paltry, I would love it if you would tweet me your recommendations of people to follow on Instagram. Here are some of my favorites.
India: goa, danielberehulak, gabielfigliodellimperfetto,
Street photography: algrega sushidetortilla denisphotographie kypexin ttapioka prinny thb1970
STL cherokeestreet dilipv stlgasm matthewvhuff michaelcalhoun zianzami
Russia: osipova_alina, iridescent
Journalists arishapiro, byrontau anncurry