|Let's face it, 2001 kind of sucked. Vanishing buildings aside,
the year for which Kubrik prognosticated grandeur was overall a pretty crappy
one. Besides the obvious, there were many things about 2001 that were simply
too horrifying to utter. I mean how about that Jay Z acoustic disk. And
the continued success of Britney Spears. And we can't forget the release
of "Pearl Harbor," the real reason the Taliban hates us. And 2001
was the year that we officially re-entered the 1940's. I went to see a movie
in December and a 3-minute, patriotic, pro-America reel that looked like
an old propaganda film came on just before the previews. Even more disconcerting,
there was a girl wearing a newsboy cap sitting next to me.
Regardless, we are now in 2002 and excited about the future. We made it this far and are confident this year will kick ass. And just because 2001 will go down in history as a dark time for our country, that doesn't mean there weren't some highlights in film, music, and literature. Here are our some of our favorites:
Music | Film | Books
(In order based upon the the votes of our reviewers and writers.)
This was kind of a lame year for music, but the following are a list of releases that we found to be groundbreaking, intelligent, or just plain fun.
1. The White Stripes: White Blood Cells [Sympathy for the Record Industry]
This was plain and simple, a great record. Almost everyone in our panel placed it at the top of their list and a more fun record was not put out last year. We still don't know if this duo are brother and sister or man and wife, but who cares. If they are brother and sister, I guess that old adage that 'incest is best' must be true.
2. The Strokes: Is This It? [RCA & Rough Trade]
Love 'em or hate 'em, The Strokes made an impact on a lot of listeners this year. Some claim that they are the best band to come out of New York since The Velvet Underground. Others have called them art school poseurs. Regardless, that song "Soma" is pretty darn catchy and so are most of the others on this amazing debut. And with a title like Is This It? that begs for response, the band seems to know what they are doing.
3. Stephen Malkmus: Stephen Malkmus [Matador]
I lost this record on a trip to Vermont, but that's OK. I listened to it so much in the first two weeks that I owned it I never need listen again. Is it a good record? Yes, it is wonderful and it rivals anything ever put out by Pavement.
4. Jim O'Rourke: Insignificance [Drag City]
Where the heck did this one come from? We were all very surprised to see that Mr. O'Rourke had such a pop underbelly. He must be eating lots of jellybeans these days because this disk is candy-coated Seventies rock that is as surprising as it is catchy. Best of all, Jeff Tweedy's influence (he plays guitar on all 7 tracks) adds just the right flavor to the disk.
5. Prefuse 73: Vocal Studies + Uprock Narratives [Warp]
This was some funky shit. Forget the Avalanches with their pop-heavy samples, Gil Scot is the man to watch. Using syncopated and heavy beats as his canvas, Heron slices his samples until the source is utterly indistinguishable. Vocal Studies is completely original. Yes, the funkiest record of the year was made by a white boy.
And the Rest....
6. Fugazi: The Argument [Dischord]
7. Cannibal Ox: The Cold Vein [Def Jux]
8. American Analog Set: Know by Heart [Tiger Style]
9. Jan Jelinek: Loop-Finding Jazz Records [~scape]
10. Papa M: Whatever Mortal [Drag City]
11.Marumari: Supermogadon [Carpark]
12. Björk: Vespertine [Elektra]
13. Gorillaz: Gorillaz [Virgin]
14. Bob Dylan: Love and Theft [Columbia]
15. Radiohead: Amnesiac [Capital]
16. Frank Black: Dog in the Sand [What Are?]
17. Zero 7: Simple Things [Ultimate Dilemma]
18. Fennesz: Endless Summer [Mego]
19. Daft Punk: Alive 1997 [Virgin]
20. Pole: R [~scape]
Individual Favorites and Yearly Wrap-Ups:
• Tooney Reed's Favorites • Maurice Downes' Year in Music
• Daniel Schulman's Favorites • Dan Kilian's Favorites
(in order based upon the the votes of our reviewers and writers)
It's a mystery why so many people are panning this year as a horrible year for film. I suppose if you only watch major studio releases this may have been true, but the following list of 15 are all astounding achievements.
This movie came out at the beginning of the year and despite our short term memory, it stuck with us as a fantastic film. Smart, fun, and playful, "Memento" is the movie of the year.
2. The Gleaners and I
This insightful documentary about those who live on what others throw away is a major achievement. Full of rich personalities and a wonderfully inventive documentary style that gracefully pulls filmmaker Agnes Varda into the picture. Luckily, "The Gleaners and I" will be returning to Two Boots this month for those who missed it!
3. Donnie Darko
Some weird hybrid of "Back the Future," "Heathers," and X-Files, this first time film by director by 26-year-old writer-director Richard Kelly was the year's most pleasant surprise.
4. Mulholland Drive
One part Nancy Drew, two parts nightmare, "Mulholland Drive" is Lynch's best film since "Wild at Heart." It was everything "Lost Highway" was not... creepy, funny, well-acted, visually arresting, and sexy. It is wonderful to see Lynch in top form again. Did we mention it is sexy?
5. The Man Who Wasn’t There
We have heard mixed things about the new Coen brothers movie, but even a weak outing by this dynamic duo promises to be better than a strong release by other directors. Billy Bob Thornton is wonderful and the dry cleaning jokes are a hoot. An instant neo-noir classic.
And the rest...
6. Lord of the Rings
7. Ghost World
9. Little Otik
10. The Royal Tenenbaums
11. Amores Perros
12. Gosford Park
14. The Devil's Backbone
15. Sexy Beast
This year had no shortage of great writing. Unfortunately,
since no one has time to read everything, this is a more subjective list
than the ones above. Therefore, we opted to just list some of our favorites
in alphabetical order. And is the hype about flavor of the month Jonathan
Frazen and his new book The Corrections warranted? We emphatically say
yes. It is a deep and insightful read, void of all the David Eggers pretense
we had been afraid of upon opening to page one. Here are more of our favorites