It’s impossible to distil life. It’s why The Tree of Life is ultimately a failure. Still many (including myself) admire it for trying. Here are some of my favorite moments from 2011 that I just now brought to memory (in no particular order (really- I mixed them up on purpose (which I guess puts them in a particular order (crap)))).
1. Writing these two sentimental and honest essays about September 11 and the death of a friend that tried not to be gross.
2. Seeing Arcade Fire and the National live with Katie Alex Kacie dancing how I do way too much. I made a list of albums I liked this year, but none of it compares to the experience I had with this song that I daresay is life-affirming. I would throw everything I heard this past year in memory-trash just so I could cherish this song of profound cherishment.
3. Leaving my night class this past semester, speeding my bike downhill through the heart of campus, smelling the water of Showalter Fountain while passing the cascading lights of the art museum. It’s a scene plucked out of a Teen Vogue essay contest entry and it’s magnificent.
4. TV- All of Friday Night Lights, season 4 finale of Breaking Bad (the moment I realized what the ENTIRE SHOW WAS DOING), season 4 of The Wire
5. Seeing a picture of Kinsey petting a goat. I won’t post it here out of respect, but I look at it regularly. It’s beauty.
6. Going to the Museum of The Moving Image in Brooklyn with Eric (really this whole vacation with my family). There are mind-blowing film artifacts, like huge miniature pieces from Blade Runner and Chewbacca’s costume and pages from the Network and Citizen Kane screenplays and so much more than there’s room to mention (this isn’t true). However, the only reason I went there was because it’s the only place in New York they have a functional, public 1981 Donkey Kong machine. Played for around 35 minutes and got all the top scores. Donkey Kong is a beautiful game.
7. Undeservedly earning my EGOT on Videogum, joining a group of funny people I admire and respect / making Gumby tell dick jokes.
8. Pounding a little girl in Pokemon at the Pokemon Nationals with Mike and Alec. I made this thing. It isn’t that good.
9. The Tree of Life - I usually don’t like talking about movies with other people studying film. Often I’ll get the sense that they’ve boiled their opinion of an entire piece, however extensive, down to a damning sentence blowing up a single complaint that they wouldn’t even have if they took more than five seconds of reflection in their brilliant evaluation outside of whatever blog they took their opinion from. “It’s ambitious but it’s preachy and pretentious” is an unfair assessment of a work as dense as The Tree of Life. I think criticism can be much more discursive and evaluative than that while still not having PhDs in talking about movies. This movie in particular has become the biggest recipient of this damnation, and is the same reason it’s my favorite movie of the year. This movie is dense and requires viewing upon viewing and background knowledge and self-reflection and profound empathy, and that is merely what is required for internalizing the thematic elements. These kinds of things are what I look for in a movie (although not all) and something I realize isn’t for everyone. At the very least, this is one of the most beautiful movies you’ll see with your eyeballs. I also had nice experiences watching Warrior, Moneyball, Tabloid, Super 8, Certified Copy, Drive, Win Win, 50/50 and Winnie The Pooh. Also, Meek’s Cutoff is up there with Elephant as most chilling movie I’ve ever seen (meaning I’ll never ever watch it again despite its greatness).
11. Watching Children of Paradise for the first time. I’ve watched it five times this year. More here if ya want.
12. Couchception – We put a couch on top of another couch.
13. Jamie and I put on a fancy dinner party.
14. Talking with Hannibal Buress after a show he did in Bloomington. He’s just a great, hard-working comedian and I really look forward to what he does.
15. Finishing a book freshman year that was harder to type than it was to write/learning from and completely moving past all of that.
16. Gettin some of my shit shown at the cinema on campus. Am not all that crazy about some of my stuff, but still pretty cool! It seems like everything I’ve done and seen at the cinema has been cool, like talking to the producer of every Batman movie ever. You should all go sometime.
17. Skyrim is such a beautiful and full game that requires a certain transported state. It’s the Star Trek reboot of RPGs- the people who don’t like it are PC gamers who like things to be boring and terrible.
18. I chased Dobby around the movie theater at the premiere of the last Harry Potter movie dressed as the ghost of Harry Potter.
19. Walking around Half Price Books. I just like the smell.
20. In Moneyball – There’s a great montage showing how Billy Beane plans to reconstruct his team with quick cutting shots of statistics and graphs flying around, the voice over changing the way you think about how professional sports work. This then cuts to Jonah Hill’s character sitting alone in his silent office, printing out the final roster.
21. Watching The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Pt. 1 and then writing about it.
5 Worst Memories of 2011
1. Learning to exist in a community I often do not respect nor have the same interests and motivations and the pains of having that attitude.
2. Writing an impossible 12-page paper about the depiction of race on the first season of The Hills (a show only featuring white people), getting a 93 on it because of bullshit non-reasons.
3. Spanish with Shades.
4. General sadness at the beginning of the year, related to 1.
5. Realizing this year is going to end.
Well that ended kind of flowery.