Wednesday, December 29, 2004

A LIST FOR 2004 [views, reviews]

by Manuel Ramos

The end of the year means that we can post the annual La Bloga List of Whatever We Want to Make a List of ...
I’ve chosen to list “bests”. You could do worsts (pardon the pun).
This is so subjective.
Best Book - Luis Alberto Urrea’s The Devil’s Highway. This is the one book I recommend to everyone. It’s about desperation, tragedy, courage. It reads like excellent fiction but, unfortunately, it is all true. Here’s a website: http://www.luisurrea.com/home.htm. Urrea recently was named winner of the $125,000 Lannan Literary Award for non-fiction. The awards, presented by the Lannan Foundation, recognize writers who have made significant contributions to English-language literature through poetry, fiction and non-fiction.
Best New Movie I’ve Actually Seen - Very limited category since I didn’t see many new movies this year. Those in the running include Baadasssss!, Collateral, Fahrenheit 911, The Incredibles, Kill Bill Volume 2, The Manchurian Candidate, Ray, Shark Tale, Shrek 2, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Spider-Man 2. Some excellent flicks and some slim pickings, too. I think the winner has to be Maria Full of Grace, runner-up is A Day Without A Mexican. I missed something new from Mexico, since the last couple of years have seen excellent movies from Mexican directors such as Amores Perros, Y Tu Mamá También, 21 Grams.
Best Old Movie I Saw This Year - How about Out of the Past (Robert Mitchum in the quintessential noir tale)? Check out the Mexicans in this 1947 hard-boiled private detective movie that is always included in the “best noir” lists.
Best TV Show That Might Get Canceled - The Wire. Character-driven drama on TV– is it possible? Yes. Only cautionary note--there don't seem to be any Latinos in The Wire's Baltimore.
Best CD - Now here is a category with plenty of possibilities. The year saw new, great music from Los Lobos, the rise of Los Lonely Boys (although their one and so far only CD came out in 2003), Quetzal on tour, and new CDs from Conjunto Los Pochos (West Coast cantina band), Ozomatli, and local (Colorado) musician Rick Garcia. There also was plenty of jazz (Dianne Reeves is out of sight), latin jazz (Conrad Herwig and his Another Kind of Blue - The Latin Side of Miles Davis), blues (the reissues of the Muddy Waters classic 70s albums have brought me many hours of musical bliss), and even some Christmas music that brightened up my CD player (The Blind Boys of Alabama deliver the goods with several guests on Go Tell It On The Mountain--Tom Waits, George Clinton, Aaron Neville, Solomon Burke, Mavis Staples, Richard Thompson, etc.) My nod for best CD, however, goes to the Loco Moco limited edition compilation The Trouble With Men (and those of you who have it know why this is at the top of my list - now, make your own lists.) Runner up is Pocho Joe’s Undercover 2004 - some great music there, bro. Thanks.
And that's it for now. Happy New Year!

5 comments:

Jon The Crime Spree Guy said...

Manuel,

I saw only one movie in the theatre this year. However I've seen a bunch on cd and I totally agree with your picks that I have seen. Manchurian Candidate was incredible. Liev Schrieber was great as was Denzel. I watched it right after watching the original. I also liked Kill Bill 2. Collateral might be the best Tom Cruise in the last ten years or more and Jamie Foxx was brilliant. Spidey 2 was good, but I think would have been better with a bit more action. But I love all the stuff being set up for future movies.

By the way, there is a Los Lonely Boys availble on DVD. A great live show filmed in Austin. Similar to Los Lobos but with an Texas flavor instead of LA. I need more!

I'm taking notes and looking for things on your list I haven't seen or heard or read yet...

Jon
http://centralcrimezone.blogspot.com/

Manuel Ramos said...

Jon:
I hope you get a chance to see Maria Full of Grace. The main reason I like it is because the lead character evokes sympathy, outrage, and even some pity for her bad choices. People can be stupid and brave, at the same time. I'll send you a copy of The Trouble With Men - that's almost the only way you will be able to get it. I'll be interested in your comments after you give it a listen.
Manuel

Jon The Crime Spree Guy said...

Cool! I'll look forward to The Trouble With Men. I need something to inspire me while I work on Interrogations 2. And I'm listening to way too much Red Hot Chili Peppers if the look on my wife's face is any gage.....

We're renting movies Sunday and I'll ppick up Mria Full Of Grace in that stack.

Thanks!

Jon

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