Year of the Mingsley, or the stuff that stuck out to me.

December 31st, 2012 · 5 Comments · By

 

Best film of the year that didn’t come to Charlottesville unless your parents have a cable box with on-demand or you downloaded it:

The Comedy

Few films have portrayed this generation of dead-eyed sick-minded hipsters living in a perpetual borough of irony (Brooklyn) with as much depth and sincerity as The Comedy. Shot in just 18 days from a 20 page treatment by director Rick Alverson, it follows Swanson (comedy wunderkind Tim Heidecker), a 30ish trust fund baby with a dying father and a group of equally loathsome douchebag friends with whom he drinks PBR and hates on everyone and everything. We follow him as he verbally taunts, abuses, and acts cruelly towards his father’s nurse, a cab driver, a black-populated bar, and many other strangers, and as he witnesses a girl having a seizure with an air of indifference, casually defends Hitler during a party conversation, impersonates a slave master, and drinks more PBR with his buddies, sometimes naked. His eyes, like the lives of the characters themselves, have an eerie emptiness to them as they coolly gaze at the people around him who are just trying to get by and live life, something he has no interest in doing. He lives on a boat in that harbor, and he drinks there too, in addition to bringing back the occasional girl from a party to drunkenly fuck.

This film could have failed. The subject matter is unpleasant, the leading character unlikable, and no one finds the redemption they seek. It has lingering, not great-looking, shots that last for far too long to the point of being as unbearable as the guy filling the frame. The things that Heidecker’s character says and does and wears are so consistently reprehensible that I have to close my eyes at points from cringing so hard. This movie is guaranteed to make you squirm, and made me squirm even more from imagining how my mother, a saint, and my father, a man of great morals, would react to the film.

So why have I watched it three times already?

Despite everything I’ve stated above about the relentless cruelty of the lead character and the lack of appeal, I found it hilarious. Appalling, yes, but not as indefensible as a film like Adam Sandler’s “That’s My Boy”, which took an equally unlikable and mean character and dropped him into a mean movie with lots of mean-spirited jokes regarding child abuse, the disabled, incest, vomit and semen. What sets “The Comedy” apart is its willingness to confront this character head-on: though he may spend the entirety of the film engaged in cruel jokes towards others, in the end, the joke is on him. He is left alone, without love, companionship, or a sense of self. It’s just him, his boat, and his beer.

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Best film of the year that no one liked as much as I did

Lawless

Sure, the dense, cerebral films “Holy Motors” and “The Master” are my two favorite films of the year, and while they may baffle the average movie-goer they’ve been knocking out the critics’ top ten lists everywhere (they sit atop the Village Voice’s critics poll as we speak). Other great films released this year were “Django Unchained”, “Cosmopolis”, “Killer Joe”, and “Amour” (which hits Charlottesville next month), and they can all be found on this poll. Even the universally reviled ‘Project X’ somehow ended up with two votes. “Lawless” got no votes, and found no place on the list.

“Lawless” was released to little fanfare (except in Virginia, of course, where it takes place) and lukewarm critical reception. The critics complained that it was too flat, it was only exciting when the violence happened, that it glamorized violence, cliched, boring, etc. I guess they’re so used to hiking from one location to another to see movies, eat dinner, and take cabs that they never just sit back and enjoy the scenery. Honestly, I thought this movie was near-perfect in both tone and form. It was beautifully shot by Benoît Delhomme, and perfectly crafted by writer/composer Nick Cave and director John Hillcoat, all of whom previously collaborated on the brilliant Aussie western “The Proposition”.

What this says to me is simplicity has a tendency to baffle critics, whereas audacity stuns them. True, there’s nothing in this film (other than an implied castration) that plays outside of the bounds of what you’re used to in actions or westerns. There’s the archetypal all-around evil guy (played by the scenery-chewing Guy Pearce), the clan of brothers: the younger ne’er-do-well, the drunk middle brother, and Tom Hardy’s remarkable turn as the silent/grunting badass older brother. They all make moonshine and sometimes have to kill people– but not that often, honestly. It’s truly a laidback affair, with Warren Ellis and Nick Cave scoring and a host of great Americana tunes thrown in for good measure. It’s a lot of fun and gorgeous to look at. I enjoyed it even more the second time I watched it. It really fits in nicely with the American International Pictures-produced road movies that came out so frequently throughout the 70s. There are a lot of spots in the movie where nothing happens, and I loved all of them. I’m not sure what people were expecting, but it’s unlike anything I’ve seen come out with a wide release in a long time.

I hope, with time, and as Hillcoat’s filmography grows, that this film finds the cult status it deserves; but even if it doesn’t, it will always have a place in my heart.

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The thing everyone else seemed to like that I didn’t care for in 2012

Grimes – Visions

While I’ll admit that the first time I saw the ‘Oblivion’ video, I genuinely felt that Grimes had come into her own as an artist and “pop being”, the feeling quickly wore off and was replaced by a sense of confoundment. I listened and watched again, noting to myself how it was an audience-inclusive video, and an inviting one at that. It managed to unite into one her core audience of weird-cutesy tumblr girls and sports-loving shirtless homeboys painted in their team colors. The video lets the viewers know right off the bat that it’s “okay” to like her. It really does make you like her. But then you listen to the song on its own. Yes, it’s seemingly catchy and her voice is breathy and real and you make almost an instant connection to this little girl yearning to be a Madonna-esque pop singer, but its lyrics are unintelligible at their best and vomit-inducingly kitschy at their worst. It’s nearly impossible to decipher what this girl is saying, and then you start to realize why this was the first single off her debut record for 4AD — it’s as good as it gets. The rest of the album is barely capable of sustaining the attention of the discerning listener, lacking focus and smacking of dishonesty in its indecipherable lyrics. And once you glance at her lyrical content, you begin to understand why she mumbles and stumbles through them: they are awful to the point of parody. Seriously, there is absolutely nothing going on in her lyrics. They are meaningless and impersonal and ring false. What it did for me was create a wall between me and her — I’ll admit she has potential, but as of now she doesn’t quite have anything to say.

 

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FAVORITE RAP ALBUMS THIS YEAR

Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid, Maad City –duh, of course this tops the list

Chief Keef – Back from the Dead -I know, I shouldn’t like it, it’s so evil and goes and against everything I hold true about the good of humanity, but I can’t turn away. It’s like the Skewdriver of rap music.

Rick Ross – God Forgives, I Don’t -best dope dealing shit since T.I.’s King

Nas – Life is Good -proves that old rappers don’t have to suck or conform to industry standards to make a chart-topping record

Eminem – Slim Shady LP -okay, this was released over a decade ago, but I hadn’t listened to it since its release so I had to revisit it and it’s still amazing and still has the power to shock. I would still hide this from my dad if he visited me. It’s that shocking.

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Porn dude of the year:

Danny D

Shown in a rare shot wearing pants

Pornography, porno, porn, whatever you want to want to call it, it’s not something that everyone can agree upon. Everyone has their turn-ons and turn-offs, different positions they enjoy, favorite angles of said position, member sizes, and personal views on the degradation of the performers involved. Though not everything turns me on– I actually have fairly specific conditions regarding what gets me in the mood– I find it positively fascinating.

With that said, this guy Danny D has an absolutely humongous penis and I love what he does with it.

The 2012 SHAFTAs winner for Best Male Performer is a beast. Measuring in at “Oh my god look at that thing”, the British performer now known as “Danny D” first came to prominence about five years ago as gay performer Matt Hughes. Not that he’s gay or anything. He was merely banging boy bottoms for the paychecks. Once he gained some prominence in the gay industry, (which pays amazingly, I might add) he moved on to do straight pictures for various Brit film companies for a couple years. 2011 rolled in and he signed a contract with the American mega-porncorp Brazzers (which he has renewed recently, according to his Twitter) and the rest is dirty dirty history.

What sets him apart, other than his massive dong, is his wit, charm, awesome British attitude, and that sweet Chelsea tattoo prominently displayed down the inside of his left forearm. He’s also just an amusing and funny guy who treats women well on and off-set and, along with James Deen, is the contender for pornstar I’d like to chill with the most. And he has a massive dong. Just google it.

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5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 coogan // Jan 1, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    i thought the title of this post was one of mingsley’s endearing, hyperbolic boasts, but this was actually all about john mingsley and very little about charlottesville music and culture.

    looking over the top of 2012 lists below this one, i find it disheartening to see so little about charlottesville and so much more about the national, homogeneous, so-called indie, cultural landscape. i would much prefer a shorter list of awesome cultural events or things that occurred in charlottesville or the area than a long list that is actually repeated with slight variations many times across the internet.

    this is not to accuse anyone of not thinking for themselves but rather point out how central virginia related posts, events and happenings are more rare than a discussion of grimes or angel olson and i think that makes them more meaningful.

    i just wanted to point out a trend i’ve been seeing as a reader because i feel it takes away from the value of this lovely site.

  • 2 lol // Jan 1, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    damn straight, coogan! where are the LOCAL porn dudes?

  • 3 yo its me bro // Jan 1, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    Word

  • 4 handheld magnifier // Jan 12, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    Holiday >> New Year Day : Martin Luther King Day : Presidents Day : Memorial Day : Independence Day : Labor Day: Columbus Day : Veterans Day : Thanksgiving Day : Christmas Day : federal employees extra day off for Christmas

  • 5 Carolyn // Jan 18, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Really enjoyed your post, John, particularly the nod to Virginia’s Lawless. I think one of my favorite Charlottesville happenings of 2012 has been you moving here.