Monday, November 26, 2012

Record Review: Isis - Temporal

With the benefit of hindsight it’s become easier to parse the Isis catalog for incremental structural shifts, gradual thematic developments and calculated stylistic advancement. The Los Angeles-via-Boston quintet may have been one of the pioneering acts behind what came to be known as post-metal, but over their 13 year career they would touch on everything from sludge to shoegaze to ambient, often times forgoing the inherent loud-quiet-loud dynamic implied by their genre affiliation by simply melding all these disparate strands together into one slowly cresting tide of rapturous guitar texture. Few modern bands have been this simultaneously imposing yet unequivocally luminous, a dichotomy the band put their strength behind as they spent years folding one atop the other. Theirs is a seamless conflation of influence and originality: Isis sound like many bands, but few bands continue to sound like Isis, a fact which Temporal, their new 2xCD/DVD rarities compilation, bears witness to across a series of demos, remixes, covers, videos and unreleased rehearsal tracks.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Slant Magazine Feature: The 100 Best Films of the 1990s

All this week we've been rolling out our picks for the 100 Best films of the 1990s over at Slant Magazine. I'm very pleased with the results overall, and encourage readers to do what they can to seek out each title (many of which, admittedly, are hard to come by). One thing we're unfortunately not offering is a selection of our individual staff lists. And as anyone who has perused the recent Sight & Sound Poll can attest, individual lists are often times more enlightening than the final tabulated poll. So with this in mind I thought I'd offer up my list of '90s films, which I submitted to the Slant editors a couple months ago. There are, however, certain discrepancies between what was eligible and how I ultimately voted. A number of films from the late-'80s were deemed eligible for our lists--including The Decalogue, Central Park, and Santa Sangre (all of which made the final list without my help), among others--that I felt a little disingenuous including on my personal list (these are '80s films to me, and it's difficult for me to figure otherwise). And on the other end of the decade, there are many masterpieces from 1999 such as Beau Travail and The Wind Will Carry Us that were disqualified because of their placement on Slant's Best of the Aughts list. But then Pola X, from the same year but also released Stateside in 2000, was eligible. So in the end it came down to very specific rationale for each of these fringe titles. Anyway, just something to keep in mind as you sift through the final list and my personal ballot, listed below. Enjoy.

01. Sátántangó / Béla Tarr
02. A Brighter Summer Day / Edward Yang
03. Through the Olive Trees / Abbas Kiarostami
04. Goodbye South, Goodbye / Hou Hsiao-hsien
05. Abraham’s Valley / Manoel de Oliveira
06. Eyes Wide Shut / Stanley Kubrick
07. Close-Up / Abbas Kiarostami
08. The Thin Red Line / Terence Malick
09. Flowers of Shanghai / Hou Hsiao-hsien
10. Chungking Express / Wong Kar-wai