Listomaniacal, Film Division

NEW YEAR/NEW MUSIC: 2007’s live music calendar
in town kicks off with a brainy bang tonight and tomorrow (January
11 and 12), as digitized NYC violinist Todd Reynolds performs
with videographer Luke Dubois at Center Stage. In a program called
“Still Life with Mic,” we get a blast of todd_reynolds.jpgexperimental but accessible new music
with visuals attached and interwoven, courtesy of the provocative
Iridian Arts series.
Reynolds’ diverse resume includes work with Steve
, Yo-Yo Ma’s
Silk Road Project
, Bang on
a Can
and Ethel, and his solo
projects place him at the juncture of conventional violin
virtuosity and laptop-aided sonics and sinuous/cerebral

LISTOMANIA, CONT.: The hopeless lifer film critic within
an obsessive characteristic known to many, whether or not payment
is attached to the practice — can’t help but fall into roundup mode
around the turn of each year. It’s a holiday tradition, spilling
over into January, as we babble and bicker about our best-of lists
and survey the landscape of what was. Was this neurotic condition
known in the 19th century? There may be no cure. But it’s a
relatively harmless affliction, unless arguments come to blows.

Below is a baker’s dozen-sized list of the best films of 2006,
in the interest of trying to give closure to the year’s cinematic
fruits. The list is site-specific, only including those films which
have shown up in Santa Barbara, which still gets some of the
late-breaking, Oscar-timed releases late, being outside the limited
release market. Still unseen in this area code at press time, for
instance: Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima and David
Lynch’s Inland Empire.

Of those screened here, Dreamgirls, bolstered by the
stunning work of Jennifer Hudson, must be the sentimental feelgood
flick of the year, despite the weakness and period faux pas of its
music, and the goofy-sweet Nacho Libre
Jared (Napoleon Dynamite) Hess’ sophomore
charmer — may be the year’s guilty pleasure. The slacker Zen-like
Old Joy is an
Oregonian film with hypnotic, eastern sensibilities, and
Mel Gibson’s stirring Mayan action flick
Apocalypto soared, whatever the transgressions of Gibson,
the man. Little Miss Sunshine nacho-libre-1.jpgis the year’s sleeper sensation, with
something for everyone, including sentimental resolutions to wild
card situations, and Alan Arkin in pottymouth mode. From the more
serious, real world end, Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers
(second installment still on its way to Santa Barbara) wrapped WWII
lore — and war, generally — in valid question marks and United
introduced the 9/11 subject to cineplexes with unexpected
grace, artfulness and taste.

One Cinephile’s List: Little Children (Todd Field),
Volver (Pedro Almodovar), Apocalypto (Mel
Gibson), Flags of Our Fathers (Clint Eastwood), The
(Martin Scorsese), Factotum (Bent Hamer),
Nacho Libre (Jared Hess), Little Miss Sunshine
(Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris), United 93 (Paul
Greengrass), Tsotsi (Gavin Hood), Old Joy (Kelly
Reichardt), A Scanner Darkly (Richard Linklater),
Dreamgirls (Bill Condon).

MEA CULPA: Yorke_Thom.jpgIn last week’s round-up of the prime CDs
of 2006, at least one glaring omission must be corrected: What list
worth its salt would be complete without mention of the brilliant
example of humane electronica, Thom Yorke’s
(XL)? Last year, Yorke toured with his band
Radiohead and passed through SoCal’s urban areas: We dream of the
day the band deigns to return to the Santa Barbara Bowl, where
their shows a few years ago were among the most memorable in the
Bowl’s history.

TO-DOINGS: Music of a worldly sort comes to the intimate,
inviting UCSB MultiCultural
theater this month, starting with a warm wind of “forro”
music from Northeastern Brazil, on Friday night. Rob Curto’s Forro For
is a dance-happy group based around NYC-based
accordionist’s jazz-spiced variation on the forro tradition.
Another calendar marker for so-called “world music” fans is next
Thursday (January 18) at the MCC, when Wang
performs the traditional Chinese Guquin music on
the instrument known as the qin.

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