Free Hugs! Black Dog Newsletter for Week of January 6th to 12th, 2015!


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I hope that everyone made it through the holidays relatively unscathed while enjoying some swell foods, drinks, company and flicks. Which brings us to the second in a two-part episode of what we think is the best that cinema had to offer in the year that was 2014. This we we have Eric’s (he’s the new meat at Cambie), former Commercial store manager Josie’s and my picks. I hope that you enjoy them.

Oh, the lovely and talented Jessica will resume newsletter duties as of next week.

It was a great year for films, 2014 was. Here’s what I liked best…

I haven’t seen a lot of movies that are showing up on all of these best of the year lists including; Boyhood, Nightcrawler, Birdman, Whiplash, Listen Up Philip, Interstellar, Left Behind, Force Majuere, The Immigrant and Inherent Vice but I did see a lot of great movies this year…

Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson’s best since The Tenenbaums. Top 3 W.A. for me.
Under the Skin – Creepy, weird, unsettling, amazing, perfect score.
Gone Girl – Grade A crime trash, flawlessly told. Fincher’s best since Zodiac. Top 3 D.F. for me.
Blue Ruin – Smashing noir revenge thriller.
The Raid 2 – Two and a half hours of kick-ass mayhem. One word – Hammer Girl.
Jodorowsky’s Dune – If only.
Snowpiercer – First Class beware!
Finding Vivian Maeir – What a talent, what a find.
Wolf of Wall Street (didn’t see it until March) – One of my favourite Scorsese films. Good debauched fun!
Locke – One guy on a phone in a car for the whole film. Gripping.
Edge of over and Tomorrow – Watch Tom Cruise get killed over again. Brilliant!

Honourable mentions also thrown at…

Only Lover Left Alive
Life Itself
The Guest
The Babadook
Cheap Thrills
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Lego Movie

Best TV

Mad Men
House of Cards
Top of the Lake
True Detective
Bobs Burgers
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Worst things that crapped in my eyes? Easy – Transformers (whatever number this year’s was) – Saw about and hour or more on the plane and that’s all I needed to reaffirm my desire for MIchael Bay to be smoated. Oh and that latest Spider-Man movie. Again saw it on a plane. Why did they even make that film? Oh and Noah. Although is was a pretty good comedy.

Here’s a link to Josie’s fun and fabulous picks!

Seems that Eric took a page out of Bjorn’s well-worn playbook and didn’t see a whole lot of new things but here’s his great list of quality older films that he enjoyed this past year…
Bleak Moments (1971) / Nuts in May (1975) / Abigail’s Party (1977)
In anticipation for Mr. Turner (currently in theatres), I checked out some of Mike Leigh’s earliest work; these are the three that translate best outside of depressing 1970s England. If you can generally get behind Leigh’s glacial pacing, pitch-black humour and flawed-yet-sympathetic characters, you will find plenty to love here.

Bubble (2005)
This low-budget Soderbergh feature barely made a dent on release, yet nevertheless makes the most of its nonprofessional cast, minimalist murder plot and creepy-as-hell doll-factory setting.

The Gleaners and I (2000)
Agnes Varda’s late-career documentary explores those who “glean” for a living, be it from neglected farmers’ fields or trash bins in the city. Plenty of loveable idiosyncratic characters here, not the least of whom is Varda herself.

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970)
Seconding Bjorn’s recommendation of this Kafkaesque gem, recently unearthed by Criterion. Absorbing from the first scene and rides the line between realism and surrealism beautifully.

The Invisible War (2012)
File under depressing but necessary; this recent doc exposes the underreported epidemic of rape and sexual assault in the military. Unfortunately serves as a microcosm for society as a whole. We need to change.

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
This sprawling Powell & Pressburger biopic of a fictional war hero would easily be hailed as one of the best films of all time had it enjoyed the good fortune of being made in Hollywood. Imagine Citizen Kane if that film were entertaining on top of being a masterpiece, and you’re halfway there.

Tabloid (2010)
Didn’t hear much about this Errol Morris film on release, but it’s one of one of his most entertaining if not one of his best. To describe it is to spoil it, but if you enjoy stranger-than-fiction tales, look no further.

Thief (1981)
Another good recent Criterion, Michael Mann’s debut features a gripping heist plot, unforgettable cinematography, an atmospheric Tangerine Dream score and a beautifully nihilistic performance by James Caan. Couldn’t ask for much more.

What’s new on the Shelves this week?


Atlas Shrugged Part III – They’re still making these things? The ghost of Ayn Rand is all around us.


Boyhood – Folks are calling this the best film of the year. So you know that you have to watch it. Shot over 12 years it follows a family with a boy in it who grows up. Kind of like Harry Potter but without all the wizardry.


Get On Up: The James Brown Story – The guy who played Jackie Robinson plays James Brown in the story of James Brown and his rise to James Brownness. Hear that it’s quite good.


Girls Season 3 – Mawr girls!

Life After Beth – I couldn’t think of a better person to play a zombie girlfriend than Aubrey Plaza.


Los Angles Plays Itself – Excellent doc about how LA has been portrayed in films. Fascinating and wonderful stuff. (At Commercial, soon to Cambie)

No Good Deed – Possible new James Bond, Idris Elba, (unless that sack of shit Rush Limbaugh gets his way) plays a psycho terrorizing a mom and her kid for some reason.


The Skeleton Twins – Kirsten Wiig and Bill Hader are twins that escape death on the same day. Hilarity and sadness ensue.

Stonehurst Asylum – Cool scary-looking insane asylum film from expert insane asylum filmmaker Brad Anderson (Session 9).

Coming the Following Week

Walk Among The Tombstones
Bad Turn Worse
Gone Girl
Jimi: All is by My Side
Love is Strange
Men, Women & Children
Two Faces of January

Lots of stuff for your eyes to be pleasured. Here’s some recommendations.

That’s it for this week folks. Stay warm, stay dry, stay hydrated and keep watching.

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