Monday, January 31, 2011

Trans-Atlantic Throwdown Episode 5

This week on the TAT, we finally get around to reviewing the year that was 2010. Paddy and Frank go through their favorite movies, music, drinks and events and discuss the lists compiled by their friends and listeners. This includes a top ten film list from iDan, a top albums list from Tom (Colombian Necktie), top albums from Greg in NYC, a grab-bag from Sara (also in NYC) and an assortment of comments from friends and listeners who sent in their comments and best/worsts. The lists are below -- enjoy!

Frank's lists

Drink: Ransom Old Tom Gin, Ransom Small’s Gin, Dry Fly Gin, Hendricks’s Gin, Junipero

Food: Blue 13 – Sinister Kid, Ransom & Ginger, Girl & the Goat – PIG FACE, Ferry Market Building Boccalone – Meat Cup, Alewife – The Baltimore

Politics: Health Care good and bad

Music: albums by Lost in the Trees, Jonsi, Sleigh Bells, Motion City Soundtrack, Kanye West, Minus the Bear, Sufjan Stevens, Twin Shadow, Lydia, LCD Soundsystem (will talk about next episode!)

Honorable Mention: Arcade Fire and Coheed and Cambria

Movies: Inception, The Town, Kick-Ass

Paddy's list(s)

Best Music: albums by Trap Them "Filth Rations" EP, Nails "Unsilent Death", The Secret "Solve et Coagula", Coliseum "House With A Curse", Sleigh Bells "Treats", Arcade Fire "The Suburbs", All Pigs Must Die S/T EP, Surfer Blood "Astro Coast", Dangers "Messy, Isn't It?"

Best Movie: Inception

Best New Brewery: Dungarvan Brewing Co (Waterford, Ireland)

Best All-Around Brewery: Sierra Nevada

Best Beer: Northern Hemisphere Harvest (Sierra Nevada)

Biggest Disappointments: The Acacia Strain "Wormwood", second half of the first season of The Walking Dead (AMC)

Anticipated Albums for 2011: Pig Destroyer, Touché Amoré, Trap Them

Greg in NYC

Top 11 Records of 2010: (no particular order except for the numbered top 4)
1. Sage Francis - LI(F)E
2. The Gaslight Anthem - American Slang
3. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
4. Bad Religion - Dissent of Man
7 Degrees of Stephen Egerton
Danzig - Dethred Sabaoth
Bad Religion - 30 Years Live
Deftones - Diamond Eyes
High on Fire - Snakes for the Divine
Dillinger Escape Plan - Option Paralysis
Henry Rollins - Spoken Word Guy

Moving to NYC
Alexander's first word (mama)
Alexander's first step
Christmas wedding in NYC

Adventureland (I am pretty sure this didn't come out in 2010, but I saw it in 2010 and it was the most memorable one I saw this year. Very "Garden State" esque.)

Sara in NYC

Best thing I drank: Eagle Rare Single-Barrel Kentucky Bourbon. Straight or in a hot toddy, it is superlative.

Best thing I watched at the movies: Toy Story 3

Best thing I watched at the movies in which someone’s spine got ripped out by an extraterrestrial with dreadlocks: Predators

Best things I watched on TV: Justified and Friday Night Lights

Favorite podcasts other than TAT: The Bugle and Hang Up and Listen

Best short-lived Broadway musical I saw about an American president: Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

Best sporting moment: Landon Donovan’s stoppage time goal against Algeria

Runner-up: That time we beat Canada in ice hockey at the Olympics.
Achievements in cooking: Tiny apple pies for USA-England World Cup match (see?), successful roasting of a turkey by myself at Thanksgiving
Achievements in bridesmaiding: Both couples got married! One is expecting a baby!
Best invertebrate: Paul the Octopus

Tom (Colombian Necktie)

1. Deerhunter "Halcyon Digest"
2. Cough "Ritual Abuse"
3. Dangers "Messy, Isn't It?"
4. Dangers S/T
5. Deftones "Diamond Eyes"
6. Arcade Fire "The Suburbs"
7. Isis/Melvins Split
8. High On Fire "Snakes for the Divine"
9. Envy "Recitation"
10. Nas and Damian Marley

iDan's Top Films of 2010

10: The Ghost Writer:

Roman Polanski’s past remains controversial, but if we disregarded all work by artists we find personally distasteful, we’d be missing a lot of classics. As it turns out, The Ghost Writer isn’t just an expertly paced, visually gorgeous, occasionally humorous, and extremely well constructed thriller, its plot, setting and characters seem like a reflection on Polanski’s own quasi exile and imprisonment within a very comfortable gilded cage. It’s not going to make anyone forgive him, but it is an expertly made film.

9: How to Train Your Dragon:

The first great animated film by Dreamworks since they abandoned hand-drawn animation in 2003. Fun character designs, some really interesting and amusing creatures, and rock-solid animation bolstered by a fun voice cast (with the exception of the protagonist, whose voice is the one weak link.)

8: Un Prophète (released in the EU in 2009, USA in 2010, so I’m including it)

The Prison film is a pretty distinct genre, but without many quality examples. Brute Force, Escape from Alcatraz, The Shawshank Redemption, and… what? Un Prophète is easily one of the best examples of a prison film, depicting a world of intense hatred and violence. The inescapability of enemies and magnification of ethnic divisions in prison contrasted with the euphoria of the outside world.

7: Four Lions

A comedy about suicide bombers. That’s a tough sell, but it’s well executed here. The four would-be terrorists are depicted with just the right levels of humor, sympathy, incompetence, and repugnance. Delusionally believing themselves to be heroic crusaders, while actually being more concerned with trying to look cool or rapping, the characters become surprisingly sympathetic while remaining both nefarious and stupid. The film walks such a fine line it’s astonishing they get to the other side at all.

6: Inception

It’s going to be on everybody’s list, and perhaps should be higher on mine. Expertly made on every level, a prismatic action film that doubles as an ingenious commentary on the act of filmmaking itself. Also it’s probably the only movie in history that could get away with a “and it was all a dream” ending (if that is indeed what the ending says)

5: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Simply put: The best depiction of how the media-addled generation now in or entering their twenties relate to culture and the world around them. It’s a disorienting, fractured experience, requiring a lightning-fast trans-Pacific visual literacy, and it is perhaps about ten minutes too long, but it’s hilarious and could not be more visually perfect.

4: Carlos: The Jackal

Clocking in at almost 6 hours in 3 parts, with dialogue in ten languages (and a lead performance fluent in five), this film joins 2008’s Che as an epic length study of leftist revolutionaries, but Carlos himself lacked the fame and charisma that make Che Guevara’s shortcomings so easy to ignore. The film shows the glamour of international guerilla operations (including an amazing hour long hostage-taking sequence) while also letting its subject’s narcissism and increasingly flimsy ideology overwhelm his ability to stay ahead of those pursuing him.

3: Shutter Island

An amazing avant-garde soundtrack and a very cleverly constructed script kept this film in my brain long after I’d seen it. A mystery plot that touches on the hidden US history of the MKULTRA anticommunist mind control experiments, the absorption of Nazi scientists into American postwar institutions, and the changing historical role of psychiatry (without being too Scientologist about it). All while Leo once again dusts off his wicked pissah Bahstin accent.

2: City of Life and Death (Released in China in 2009, EU and USA 2010)

This film on the “Rape of Nanjing” during the Sino-Japanese war in the 1930’s opens with a surprisingly bravura and intense action sequence, with Chinese urban guerillas tenaciously wiping out a squad of invading Japanese soldiers. That’s where the effectiveness of masculine bravado ends after an overwhelming and swift counterattack. The remainder of this amazingly shot black and white film depicts an utterly hopeless situation for anyone worthy of sympathy. Mass executions and systematic gang-rape are the only options for the surviving citizens of the conquered city. Some characters with marginal degrees of power appear and offer glimpses of hope — the German John Rabe who was able to shelter many Chinese women thanks to his Nazi party membership protecting him from the Japanese, and (bravely for a Chinese film) a single sympathetic Japanese soldier observing the chaos — but history doesn’t function like a movie. The conquered suffer and die, as it has been for millennia, as it was in Nanjing.

1: The Social Network

Another one bound to be on everyone’s list. It’s probably the only way to examine the internet’s rapid development: go back a few years and focus on the genesis of a single website. While it touches on the theme that our notion of “friendship” has been changed and cheapened by the brainchild of a man with no friends, the film is less about Facebook itself and more about the personalities that drive the internet forward. From privileged Ivy League students who struggle to "own" a concept, to the workaholic programmers that suddenly find themselves in high demand. They are all male in a male dominated profession, all desperate to impress exactly the type of women who never used to pay attention to them, and most importantly, they all understand that the most valuable commodity in this new age is a new idea. If you don’t latch on to that idea first, you lose.

Thanks again for listening and don't forget about following us on Twitter, "Like" us on Facebook and write a spiffy review on ITunes!


  1. Hey, "iDan" here, glad to see the new episode online,

    As for my movie list, yeah the ordering could probably use a shake-up (easiest fix would be to switch Shutter Island and Inception's places). Also one caveat would be that due to delayed release dates for a lot of films in Ireland, anything that gets released in the USA for "oscar season" tends to land in Ireland late December or January. So when that list was written, Black Swan, The King's Speech, and True Grit weren't yet released in Ireland (I've yet to see Black Swan or True Grit but from what I hear they'd be shoe-ins for any top 10 list.) Also not yet released was Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist, which might have earned animation a second slot on my list (as an animator myself, the medium needs some love, and for whatever reason I can't bring myself to fall in love with Toy Story 3 the way everyone else has.)

    Frank is right, though, in that 2010 didn't actually seem to be a very significant year for films. If it were a crop of films like 2007, a film like "The Ghost Writer," as well made and worthy a film as I think it is, wouldn't have made a top 10 list. It's not that I ever felt like I was scraping the barrel with this list (I'll defend any film's inclusion, if not its order on the list) but let's just say that I cheated somewhat by including Un Prophete thanks to its delayed USA opening date, because it was in last year's oscars.

    As for Inception, its ordering was probably a bit harsh. I think being within the top 3 would have been more fair in retrospect, but as excellently conceived and assembled as it is, I think it does strain under some of its own internal logic. Also, and Patrick has gotten my spiel about this before, Inception gets a lot more interesting is it's viewed not as a film about dreams, but about the act of filmmaking (Just google a picture of Chris Nolan and ask why he cast Leo as the "director" of the dreams, and that's only the beginning)

    I don't want to come across as defensive at all, I'm grateful you guys featured it, and I can totally understand the Husband Points™ frustration at Scott Pilgrim, just giving myself the excuse of release dates for leaving off Black Swan and its contemporaries.

    And if you think City of Life and Death would be rough to watch, I saw it in the cinema at 1 in the afternoon on a sunny Sunday, ALONE. I walked out of a black and white film about one of the most horrific events of the 20th century, alone, into the still-sunny late afternoon and tried to keep it together for the rest of the day.

    And on a final note, Patrick does a fantastic Henry Rollins impersonation.

    Keep it up guys, looking forward to the next one,


  2. Also, future historians will point to "Like a G6" as being the high point of our civilization. It works on conceptual levels the human mind is not yet capable of grasping, I mean think about it, the Gulfstream VI jet isn't even FLYING yet. It's still on the damn drawing board!

    Also, Far East Movement are the first Asian American band to make it to the Billboard Top 10 (for a song that only features guest vocals from a non-Asian American, so... I dunno what to make of that), much as I'd have loved Utada Hikaru to have made that milestone.

    Okay, I'll stop myself before I start discussing Asian pop music...

  3. Clearly I'm posting as I listen so I'm spamming the comments, but the world cup being left off of people's consciousness at year's end... Well, I think overall it left a bad taste in my mouth. As euphoric as Donovan's stoppage time goal was, and I watched the replay a hundred times, there were too many unpalatable things about the tournament this year. The hand-ball circumstances behind Ireland being kept out of the tournament, after which, when video-refereeing is suggested to FIFA it is outright denied. What followed was one awfully refereed game after another, with two American goals disallowed for no valid reason, Mexico losing a game due to a goal that violated the offside rule, an English goal against Germany that crossed 2 feet into the goal but was not seen by the linesman and so didn't count, on and on.

    Then the final, which was the worst World Cup final in memory with a record 14 yellow cards, one awful tackle and hammy crying victim after another.

    The South African venue had promise but was marred by corruption (There were huge townships, impoverished slums, near a lot of the venues, and despite FIFA's claims that it would bring prosperity to South Africa, their solution was simply to evict all the residents out of sight of the highways...)

    And finally the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups... 2022 came down to the USA or Qatar. I'd have been delighted with a 2022 USA venue, it would be perfect on every level, and could be the final legitimizing push to make soccer compete on an even playing field with other US sports. Instead, FIFA give it to Qatar, a country the size of Wales with 110ºF summer heat where you can be executed for homosexuality (locals will be executed. Foreigners, as 14 of them found out last year, will merely be publicly flogged / whipped, then deported.) We may as well have given the World Cup to North Korea.

    So I think it's FIFA's obnoxious antics that keep the World Cup from being a fond memory for some this year...