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1  Vintage Community Discussion / General Community Discussion / Re: Reserve List Card Spike? on: February 19, 2016, 12:16:01 pm
I remain so glad that I picked up my Bazaars by May of last year, and in fact just generally completed my roundup of Vintage staples (though I suppose I could use a Tabernacle or two and another Karakas or two). While these huge price spikes have been happening I've had the luxury to buy some Guru basics instead.
2  Vintage Community Discussion / General Community Discussion / Re: The Best Films of 2015 on: January 20, 2016, 07:57:07 pm
What I don't understand is why there is such a disdain for comedy, and such a love for violence.  Perhaps this is a product of other demographic problems with the composition of the academy, perhaps something else, but I personally don't think a movie needs to make me depressed and/or horrified in order for it to be good.
There's a few kinds of movies that the Academy members are predisposed towards.  They love biopics - which give actors a chance to Act.  They love movies about Hollywood - specifically ones that show how great Hollywood is.  They also tend to love movies about Important Social Issues that can make them feel like they're Making A Statement - typically these movies involve suffering of some kind.  They don't like to go too dark though, which is probably why Sicario was largely overlooked.  It's ok if a protagonist suffers or even dies, as long as they achieve some triumph in the effort.  Comedies rarely fit into any of those categories, and yes there probably is a sense among members that comedies aren't as "serious"; a similar bias keeps them from science fiction much of the time.  Lastly, they tend to develop affection towards certain people.  That's why you get things like Meryl Streep getting a dozen nominations or Jennifer Lawrence getting three in a row.
3  Vintage Community Discussion / General Community Discussion / Re: The Best Films of 2015 on: January 19, 2016, 11:55:33 pm
It's not necessarily a problem of conscious bias on the part of the Academy members; they just happen to be something like 90+% white.  People have an easier time connecting to films with characters like them, which means the Academy members are predisposed to select movies about white people.

It's not that any of the films nominated (except The Revenant) aren't worthy of nomination; those are all great films (except The Revenant). There's just also a bunch of great films last year that are about non-white characters.  The Assassin, Creed, Chi-Raq, Tangerine, and Straight Outta Compton are all films about non-white characters that spring to mind which all received critical acclaim and had great performances from their leads besides.  Rinko Kikuchi put in an excellent performance in Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter and Shameik Moore in Dope.  And yet somehow the Academy failed to recognize any of them.  This isn't an issue about any particular nomination or any particular snub, it's a systematic problem.

Really the only solution is to change the demographic makeup of the Academy voters, and the Academy President just announced she plans to do that.  A number of years ago the Academy stopped automatically granting membership to nominees, which I suspect is part of the problem.  Hopefully whatever changes get made bear fruit, because I'm not optimistic that two years of scolding is going to change anyone's behavior.
4  Vintage Community Discussion / General Community Discussion / Re: The Best Films of 2015 on: January 14, 2016, 11:22:55 am
Oscar nominees are out, and you'll need snow goggles to keep from being blinded by the whiteness. Even in the one nomination they gave to Straight Outta Compton (Original Screenplay), they managed to avoid nominating any black people.  The other notable snub was Carol, which received 6 nominations but none for Best Picture or Best Director.

This also marks the first year where I've already seen all the Best Picture nominees.

Here's a full list, with notes on what got nominated for what:
5  Vintage Community Discussion / General Community Discussion / Re: The Best Films of 2015 on: January 10, 2016, 11:35:55 am
First off, someone on Letterboxd kept a list of every film to get a release in New York in 2015:  I suspect that list is as good a resource as we're going to get unless someone can find a list of Los Angeles releases (which would basically list Oscar qualifying films).

Down to brass tacks.  As of yesterday I've seen 84 feature films this year and 3 shorts.  I tried to catch as many of the particularly important films as I could, though I have not managed to find an opportunity to see Anomalisa, Son of Saul, 45 Years, or Youth, all of which come very highly recommended by all critics I respect who have seen them.  The full ranking can be seen at this list:

Without question the best short I've seen this year is Don Hertzfeldt's World of Tomorrow, a science fiction story of a young girl contacted by her future self that manages to completely dismantle you emotionally over the course of its 15 minute runtime.  I highly recommend tracking it down and giving it a watch.  But on to the meat....

My Top 10 Feature Films of 2015
1. Inside Out
Probably Pixar's best film to date, finally getting to the heart of their common theme of emotional development and growing up by dealing with those things about as literally as possible.  The result is a powerful experience. I ugly cried at this one.

2. Mad Max: Fury Road
The best action film of the year; perhaps any year.  Thrilling sequence after thrilling sequence, gorgeous digital cinematography, fully realized characters.  It's true that the plot is simple, but it isn't unsatisfying to me. It's a story of how redemption for your sins can't be found by running from them; only once you've confronted them directly can you truly atone for the past and overcome the hold they have on you.

3. Carol
Based on Patricia Highsmith's 1952 novel The Price of Salt about a romance between two women.  The performances of Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are among the best I've seen; delicately and carefully circling one another as they fall in love - Blanchett cagey because she's in a delicate situation and has been burned before, Mara uncertain and confused because it's her first time.  The period production is beautiful and the stakes of being found out make for another exemplary feature.

4. The Look Of Silence
The companion piece to director Joshua Oppenheimer's earlier The Act of Killing about the perpetrators of the mass murderers of "communists" in Indonesia in the 60's.  Those killers are still alive today, and still powerful and respected members of their communities.  This film incredibly finds a man brave enough to directly confront these monsters over the killing of his brother, including some of the men directly responsible.

5. The Duke of Burgundy
Another tale of a lesbian relationship, though in a completely different context.  Indeed, it's entirely possible this film is set in some alternate reality where there are no men at all; this director isn't making any kind of statement about transgression even though the core relationship is a dom/sub one.  Instead, it's a powerful tale about the difficulties of maintaining a relationship even when both parties deeply love each other.  We all make compromises or sacrifices of various kinds because we love our partners and want to see them happy.

6. Sicario
This is the second collaboration between director Dennis Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins.  It's an ugly and unsettling tale of an FBI agent drawn unwittingly into the shadow war between the CIA and the Mexican cartels, learning the horror of that conflict and slowly losing pieces of her soul.  This features some of the best cinematography of the year with a chilling score and some fantastic performances.  The way Villeneuve and Deakins seem to enjoy working together makes me excited for their next project: the sequel to Blade Runner.

7. Phoenix
While this year's most talked-about Holocaust drama is Son of Saul, this one should not go overlooked.  Immediately after the war a survivor of the camps recuperates from reconstructive surgery and attempts to track down her husband, who was not himself Jewish.  When she finds him he does not recognize her, and he suggests a scheme to use her to impersonate his wife to get at her money.  The result is a very powerful drama and it ends with one of the best shots of the year.

8. Bridge of Spies
You people need to stop taking Steven Spielberg for granted.  The man makes another masterpiece and the world shrugs and says "Oh, it's only a minor masterpiece from one of the world's greatest living filmmakers. We get those all the time."  Yes, we do, and we should be more grateful.   The same goes for Tom Hanks.

9. The Hateful Eight
Probably the most Tarantino movie the man has ever made, though not the best (probably either Jackie Brown or Inglourious Basterds).  Still, it's another thrilling revenge parable short in GLORIOUS 70MM. It takes a man who treats his film's conversations with the delicate care of a major action sequence to use 70mm to shoot a chamber drama.

10. When Marnie Was There
Another film I spent a lot of time ugly crying after.  This is Studio Ghibli's final film before their hiatus and - though not made by Miyazaki himelf - it is clearly very heavily influenced by him.  I can't really say too much substantive about the plot without spoiling things, but it's probably safe to say that it's about a young orphan girl trying to find her place in the world.

There's a number of films that were very close to making it into this top 10, and on any other day they might.  Room, Brooklyn, Ex Machina, Clouds of Sils Maria, Crimson Peak, and more are all excellent features.  On my linked list I'd unreservedly recommend basically anything from Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation on up. 

Most Overlooked Film: Magic Mike XXL
A lot of people (particularly guys) didn't go to see this because they don't imagine what it could possibly offer to them.  But it's actually the most pure fun road trip movie I've ever seen and you're all missing out.

Weirdest Film: The Forbidden Room
A nesting doll of short stories shot and acted like old silent pictures (complete with occasional intertitles).  I'll just leave this clip here and let you judge for yourselves: The Final Derriere.
6  Vintage Community Discussion / General Community Discussion / Re: The Force Awakens on: November 16, 2015, 10:44:43 am
true. I can't think of one thing that was visually dazzling in ESB
I don't know how you can say that when the duel between Luke and Vader in the cryogenic chamber is in that movie. The contrasts of reds and blues on their lightsabers and in the room when they first square off is seared into my brain.
7  Vintage Community Discussion / General Community Discussion / Re: Suggestions For Improving the Online Vintage Experience on: October 12, 2015, 03:57:30 pm
Looks like something is coming up. Hopefully it won't disappoint.
The first larger Vintage event will be Saturday, October 24 at 11am Pacific time. Plan now to be there! Full details about the event will be in my article on Monday, October 19.
8  Vintage Community Discussion / General Community Discussion / Re: MTGO Play Points & changes to Dailies on: July 29, 2015, 10:39:18 am
On Twitter Randy has clarified that Wizards hasn't dropped its support for VSL and the others - the MTGO accounts will still be provided and such - but that Wizards may not continue its sponsorship - providing money to reimburse players for their participation.  They simply haven't made those decisions for FY2016 yet.
9  Vintage Community Discussion / General Community Discussion / Re: MTGO Play Points & changes to Dailies on: July 26, 2015, 10:59:05 am
The new Vintage/Legacy dailies are an insult. They're already second-class dailies, but for most players the prize payout is also worse than an 8-man for Standard or Modern.  In order to get anything of any real value you have to go 3-0.  And of course there's the fact that if you're lucky and can play in both dailies, you get to play no more than 6 rounds of tournament Vintage/Legacy.  It's the only option available other than casual play or a 2-man.
10  Vintage Community Discussion / General Community Discussion / Re: MTGO Play Points & changes to Dailies on: July 23, 2015, 05:54:04 pm

Well they aren't completely inept.  They at least have decent PR skills to be able to write an article spinning these changes as positives for the players.
If they had done that competently we wouldn't all immediately have seen through it as total crap.
11  Vintage Community Discussion / General Community Discussion / Re: MTGO Play Points & changes to Dailies on: July 23, 2015, 11:34:22 am
I believe that people who exclusively play limited may see little change.  On the other hand, while the changes do seem likely to increase pack prices somewhat, my understanding of the various analyses I've seen is that it's very unlikely any increase will be enough to justify the change; players will have to do better to break even.  Furthermore, if the change decreases demand enough by driving players away, pack prices won't recover the way we'd all like anyway
12  Eternal Formats / Northeast U.S. / Re: The 2015 Eternal Weekend! $20,000+ in prizes! Philadelphia, PA! August 21-23! on: May 07, 2015, 01:40:15 pm
Room booked. This is actually the hotel I stayed in last year, and it's a nice place. I'm pretty pleased to be staying there again.
13  Vintage Community Discussion / General Community Discussion / Re: The Force Awakens on: May 07, 2015, 01:39:29 pm
I have a lot more faith in Abrams' work on Star Wars than I did his work on Star Trek because his aesthetic is much better suited to the action-adventure of Star Wars than the higher-concept science fiction that Star Trek likes to trade in.
14  Eternal Formats / Northeast U.S. / Re: The 2015 Eternal Weekend! $20,000+ in prizes! Philadelphia, PA! August 21-23! on: April 30, 2015, 09:41:31 am
I am - as always - really excited for this, and appreciative of the earlier date.  A similar timeframe to last year would have had me run ragged with all the travel I need to do at the end of the year.
15  Vintage Community Discussion / General Community Discussion / Re: Vintage Super League: Who Would You Like to See? on: March 23, 2015, 09:04:37 am
I'd love to see BrassMan get a shot.  Not only is he a long-standing and respected member of the Vintage community, but he's also had some competitive success (by which I mean the 2005 Rhode Island and Providence Plantations State Championship) (oh, and also 2nd at that Grand Prix).
16  Vintage Community Discussion / General Community Discussion / Re: Vintage Super League: Who Would You Like to See? on: March 18, 2015, 02:59:21 pm
I'd love to see Ochoa give it a go, but I believe someone said he declined an offer to join because he felt it would take too much time.  I can't blame him for that.

17  Vintage Community Discussion / General Community Discussion / Re: So apparently some people think I'm a cheat? This is a joke right? on: February 01, 2015, 04:27:24 pm
Seriously guys, we just locked that other thread.

18  Vintage Community Discussion / General Community Discussion / Re: Best Movies of 2014! on: January 19, 2015, 03:31:25 pm
I think that Robocop was crippled by studio mandates to make an accessible action picture, particularly in regards to the PG-13 rating.  It's very difficult to make an effective movie about the consequences of violent police action when you aren't allowed to actually show those consequences.  Padihla had some good ideas for the remake, but he was prevented from properly executing them and it seriously damages the film in my opinion.

What did you think of The Imitation Game Steve? I saw it yesterday and thought it was really badly flawed in terms of message, story, and structure.  I'd say I don't know how it could possibly be nominated for Best Picture except that the answer is Harvey Weinstein.  For a movie about a gay man, it spends an awful lot of time focusing on Turing's romance with a woman.
19  Vintage Community Discussion / General Community Discussion / Re: Vintage Super League on: January 16, 2015, 09:40:46 pm
Excited for this and also really excited the time has moved up an hour. That's so much more convenient for me; I was getting to bed way too late on Tuesday nights.
20  Vintage Community Discussion / General Community Discussion / Re: Best Movies of 2014! on: January 13, 2015, 12:03:42 am
I did love Nightcrawler. It's at 15 on my list, but I wouldn't be surprised to see it climb when I get a chance to watch it again. That's probably Jake Gyllenhaal's career-best performance.  He's alluringly lizard-like and psychotic.  A great first feature from Dan Gilroy.
21  Vintage Community Discussion / General Community Discussion / Re: Best Movies of 2014! on: January 12, 2015, 10:41:25 am
I enjoyed Snowpiercer

So did I. Technically came out in 2013 though.
Its US release was 2014, so it counts. I liked it as well, but it couldn't crack my top 10.
22  Vintage Community Discussion / General Community Discussion / Re: Best Movies of 2014! on: January 12, 2015, 09:57:48 am
I had one serious bone to pick with Gone Girl.

The second Amy comes home why doesn't he run for the hills? She has this big story about how he'll be ostracized and whatnot. Fine, whatever, better than living with the woman who framed me for murder and killed a different guy. It seemed like there were lots of holes in Amy's cover story. Maybe if you tell the federal investigators she tried to frame you they could investigate more effectively? Just seems like a really bad plot hole.
For one, the movie makes it pretty clear that only the local PD who directly worked his case would believe his story, and there really wasn't enough evidence for them to prove anything.  Everyone else just wanted to get it wrapped up and put behind him.  Remember that Amy is a master manipulator.

The second thing is that the movie definitely makes us question whether Nick really wants to leave anyway. Margo asks this of him directly, and he doesn't have an answer for her.
23  Vintage Community Discussion / General Community Discussion / Re: Best Movies of 2014! on: January 11, 2015, 10:45:05 pm
Sadly Selma is considered a long shot at the Oscars because the producers waited way too long to send out screeners as part of a dubious (read: stupid) promotion strategy. Too few people got to see it in time.  Still, nominations are announced on Thursday.  Maybe the Academy will surprise us.
24  Vintage Community Discussion / General Community Discussion / Best Movies of 2014! on: January 11, 2015, 06:52:19 pm
The list.

2014 has been another great year for great films.  We've had two great superhero movies, a LEGO movie that somehow wasn't just a crass commercial cash-in, a groundbreaking Godard, multiple great science-fiction movies, multiple great dramas, and one of the most ambitious projects in movie history in Boyhood.  So which of these did you see?

To this date I've seen 63 of 2014's releases, with a couple yet to come later this month. I've written at least a little bit about all of them, and you can find my full rankings here.

1. Boyhood - This movie is special.  Shot over 12 years, it covers the growth of a young boy to a young man in Texas.  While it doesn't portray a completely universal experience, I think there's a lot in here that almost everyone will recognize.

2. Gone Girl - I have this higher on my list than a lot of people, but I'm a devoted fan of David Fincher to begin with.  This is an example of what happens when you pair a great script with its perfect director.  Gillian Flynn and Fincher deserve equal credit for how good this film is, though Rosamund Pike's performance is also exemplary.  Hell, even Tyler Perry is good in this.

3. Under the Skin - The best science fiction film of the year by far.  Scarlett Johansson is an alien hunting for men on the streets of Scotland for unknown reasons.  This is a film which entrancingly examines issues of femininity in our culture, and it's both beautiful and indescribably alluring.

4. Selma - Ava DuVernay is a relatively inexperienced director, but you'd never guess it from this remarkably assured movie about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Focusing on the events in Selma, Alabama, DuVernay paints a portrait of King as a man who not only is an inspirational leader, but also a cunning strategist, politician, and most importantly a fallible and self-doubting human being.  David Oyelowo's performance as King is one of the very best of the year, and I often found myself almost forgetting that he was not actually the man himself.

5. The Grand Budapest Hotel - Wes Anderson's best film yet.  If you like Wes Anderson you'll adore this film, and if you don't like Wes Anderson you're just wrong.

6. Only Lovers Left Alive - Jim Jarmusch examines the ennui that must set in among the immortal as they live on and on watching humanity repeat its mistakes.  Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton as the core couple make this one of the best hangout movies you'll see.

7. Coherence - Another great little science fiction film.  I don't want to say too much about it because it deserves you going in cold, but it's all the more remarkable how good it is for the fact that the dialog was almost completely improvised.  This is an example of how great a movie you can make on a minuscule budget.

8. Life Itself - A really touching tribute to a true lover and hero of cinema.  I was sobbing almost all the way through, in sadness at Ebert's passing and in happiness at the impact he made on people's lives.

9. Guardians of the Galaxy - Like watching Star Wars for the first time all over again.

10. The Immigrant - The best cinematography bar-none this year comes from Darius Khondji in this film, which among its many many great shots has the best shot of the year at its end.  It also features great performances from Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, and Jeremy Renner.  You haven't heard about this movie because the Weinsteins have buried it for unknown reasons.  Spite them and treat yourself by seeking it out and watching it as soon as you can.

Notable films I've not yet seen: Foxcatcher, Whiplash, Two Days, One Night, and Citizenfour.
25  Vintage Community Discussion / General Community Discussion / Re: Favorite Vintage Memories... on: November 02, 2014, 10:48:10 am

I was in that Top 4! I lost to RandomMiser, and had to settle for a Mox Pearl instead of a Lotus. That was right when I started getting into Vintage, and the P9 series over the next few years was a big part of why I ended up getting so into Magic.
The P9 series was such a great thing, and it's crazy to think that's what eventually birthed the SCG Open series and all the positive changes that have come from it. 
26  Vintage Community Discussion / General Community Discussion / Re: Favorite Vintage Memories... on: October 29, 2014, 12:45:50 pm
The Suicide Black forum and parties at SliverKing's house after SCG P9s.
27  Eternal Formats / Northeast U.S. / Re: The 2014 Eternal Weekend! $20,000+ in prizes! Philadelphia, PA! Oct. 24-26! on: October 26, 2014, 09:39:32 pm
Well I managed to go X-2 for 25th place with some great Magic and amazing games.  Great event. Smile
28  Vintage Community Discussion / General Community Discussion / Re: Vintage draft at the 2014 World Championship on: October 25, 2014, 08:13:32 am
They say the packs will be generated online and then reconstructed in real-life.  That does not sound like a new printing.  Also, they should just bite the bullet and print VMA.
29  Eternal Formats / Northeast U.S. / Re: The 2014 Eternal Weekend! $20,000+ in prizes! Philadelphia, PA! Oct. 24-26! on: October 24, 2014, 10:02:42 pm
Well I'm checked into my hotel.  Ironically, despite getting a hotel across the street from the Convention Center, I'm still 3 blocks from the venue. Razz
30  Eternal Formats / Northeast U.S. / Re: The 2014 Eternal Weekend! $20,000+ in prizes! Philadelphia, PA! Oct. 24-26! on: October 22, 2014, 11:38:00 pm
Anybody else interested in checking out the David Lynch exhibit across the street from the venue at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts on Saturday?
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