Thursday, December 29, 2011

Eimer's 15 Best Movies of 2011 (and then some)

As my kids grow older and my free time opens up more and more, I find myself able to expand my viewing horizons and, ultimately, see more films with my family, which is nice. They've already watched JAWS (last year with their grandmother), so I think I'm about 2 or 3 years away from taking them to R-rated fare a theater. We'll see.

Enough about great parenting. Let's get back to the films.

I've had the opportunity to see a number of great movies this year, which makes it hard to toss them all onto a list. However, I've toiled and contemplated the 15 films that really moved me enough this year to sit down and write something about them.

Keep in mind, due to circumstances beyond my control, I don't get to the theater that often. Thus, I haven't seen some of the big guns such as Mission Impossible 4, The Artist. The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo and other sure-to-be nominated for Academy Award films. Perhaps they'll make next year's list.

That said, you'll see two Academy Award winning movies from 2010 on this year's list as well as a movie from 2001. Again, they were movies I VIEWED for the first time in 2011. (Get it?)

So, here goes - my top 15 list (in no particular order), with links to IMDB for more information.


This was, hands down, one of the best superhero movies to come out in quite some time. And to think that I thought this was going to be the worst super hero movie of the year. From the beginning frame to the final epilogue after the credits, Director Joe Johnston (October Sky, Jurassic Park 3, Jumanji) has given us one of this best outings to date. So, why is this movie a 5-star film? Well, it's one of the smartest superhero flicks out there. It merges a great storyline with fantastic, fun acting and a witty script (not to mention great special effects) for a complete product from start to finish. You can tell the actors had a fun time creating this movie as well. As a testament to this, my wife, who hates superhero flicks, watched this from start to finish and actually asked me to pause the movie when she left the room. That never happens people! But enough about my wife, the film is just solid. Check er out! One of the best superhero movies ever made. Yep, I said it.

I'm a sucker for romantic comedies. Scratch that. I'm a sucker for smart, endearing romantic comedies that don't insult my intelligence. Films like SAY ANYTHING, JUNEBUG, PUNCH DRUNK LOVE, THE PRINCESS BRIDE, AMELIE, IN HER SHOES and even last year's EASY A. For me, CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE, falls into that category. A fun, romantic comedy that forces you to take a step back and analyze your past loves of your life, your current relationship and the possible children that you brought onto this Earth. Sure, maybe the intertwining romantic, generational plot points all coming together at the end is a bit of a stretch, but I didn't seem to care. Steve Carell has had a long history of making bad films - minus LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE. Hopefully, he's broken the jinx. The rest of the cast including Gosling, Moore, Stone, Bacon and a perky, yet angry, Tomei comes together to make a great film that will make you smile. Just goes to show that all movies don't have to be heart-wrenching to win accolades, this film as well as the THE MUPPETS and BEGINNGERS just may well be the feel-good films of 2011.

Solid film through and through. It's just a bit...well...sad. Hey, it's an Alexander Payne film (About Schmidt, Sideways, Election), so I knew there was going to be a touch of sadness, but this is heavy on the sad...and a bit light on the laughs. Just be warned. That said, Clooney does a fantastic job in the lead role. He hits a hundred different emotions in this movie and it's one of his best roles to date. he supporting cast of mostly non A-list actors (minus Beau Bridges) are also on top of their game. A shout out to Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller as Clooney's two daughters in the film. Totally believable performances from start to finish. Also, actor Nick Krause provides the most comic relief of the film as Hawaiian surf bum Sid. Like I said, it's a tear jerker. But, it's worth a viewing. Hell, when it arrives on DVD or Pay Per View, I'll more than likely watch it a couple more times, which is a solid testament to this film. Check er out.

Wow. Fantastically horrific, yet very beautiful film. It's almost three movies in one with tons of twists and turns that take you, the viewer, on a rollercoaster of emotions. Is it gory? Yes! Is it a disturbing film to watch? Definitely! But, you have to trust me on this, the end justifies the means. This is not simply torture gorno porn a' la Eli Roth's HOSTEL or Aja's HIGH TENSION (both are great films by the way). There's a definite method to the madness with the final 10 minutes an almost ethereal bloodletting of the soul. Nods to Director Pascal Laugier, who I'm going to keep my eye on. Also, someone should get noticed or props for the make-up, editing, cinematography and acting. Laugier definitely kept the actors in check and under control throughout the film. No over-the-top, snarky performances here. Screenplay was fantastic. Kudos to the screwed up mind of Lauqier. Again, check 'er out with reservations. This isn't MARY POPPINS people. However, if you can stomach the 97 minutes, then I guarantee you'll be talking about this movie hours, days, months, years into the future. And, in the end, isn't that what a great film is supposed to do

In my opinion, a great movie has you thinking about the plot, the cinematography, the direction and the acting days, months, even years after an initial viewing. Von Trier's Melancholia does just that. The great thing about this movie is that the plot (a planet is on a collision course with Earth) can be played out in a thousand different scenarios. Von Trier decided to focus his lens on a wealthy, somewhat dysfunctional family during and after a disastrous wedding. This movie almost borders on sci-fi, but it's the acting, directing and interesting screenplay that pulls this movie together. In comparing this film with another current existential film, Malick's THE TREE OF LIFE (see my review below), this movie stands at the top. Like Malick's 3-hour opus, in a sense, this movie could be considered Von Trier's 2001: A SPACY ODYSSEY as well. But, that's not saying enough about this film. The great thing about this film, and Von Trier in general, is that he's not worried about critics or reviews. He just churns out interesting, creative films that force you to take a step back and look at your life and ask that proverbial question, "What would I do if this was happening to me?". Again, very enjoyable film. Some people will think it's slow or boring, but I was enthralled from beginning to end. Check er out!

Whoa. I just may have watched the 2011 Academy Award winner for Best Animated Feature. Fantastic movie by Gore Verbinski and the animated team from Industrial Light and Magic. There's a reason that celebrated cinematographer Roger Deakins was brought on as a visual consultant, and it shows. The movie blends whimsical adult dialogue with not-too-cuddly characters to create an odd ball film. I watched this with my kids and they simply loved it. You know why? Because it's different! This isn't your typical Disney fare, which is great. It's a psuedo-animated western. Visually speaking, this film is a treat. The animation and art direction crew at ILM really put their heart and soul into this film. From the fluid animated movements to the quirky idiocentricities of the characters, I think they really did a fantastic job of creating this very creative anthropomorphic world. Congrats to Verbinski for having the cojones to create and produce this film. It may just pay off come Oscar time.

A little bit of ET, a little bit of STAND BY ME and THE GOONIES - JJ Abrams gets it. He gets the heart, the soul and the passion of being a naive kid. Better than that, he gets dialogue, cinematograpy, screenwriting and the sense of mystery that surrounds a movie. Who cares if you see the creature 3/4 into the movie when you've got great characters to pull the movie forward? And that's the most important part about this movie; an interesting story, a fantastic plot, witty banter and exception special effects that are used as a compliment to the movie, not the main course. This movie took my back to my 70's and 80's when my naivete and childhood intertwined with nostalgic feelings and the movies I experienced when I was at that age - before I discovered women. Check 'er out!

If you're a fan of Kubrick, or at least a couple of his films, I implore you to watch this film. It puts to rest, or in some instances reaffirms, the rumors that you've heard - once and for all. Telling his story in chronological order from his time as a photographer all the way through to EYES WIDE SHUT, the 142 minutes slides by like a 30-minute episode. Great inside interviews with top actors and crew who worked side by side with this genius film maker. Highly recommended. Very motivating to watch as well. Makes you want to run out and achieve your dreams whatever they may be.

Great film. I was dragging my heels on this one for one reason or another. The main reason being that I thought SOCIAL NETWORK was going to be the superior film. However, I can now eat crow, because both are on the same level, but for different reasons. This film, the acting totally carried the entire film. Colin Firth is amazing as King George and his stammering seems so real, so lifelike. Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter offer fantastic supporting roles. Director Tom Hooper should also be applauded for making what would at first glance be a dull story about a speech impediment into a fantastic, edge-of-your-seat film. I had goosebumps at the end. Any Director that can suspend disbelief for two hours and actually make you feel that you were in England in 1939 when the King was giving his famous war speech, deserves to get recognition. But, that's not it, the screenplay, the art direction, the cinematography, the editing and the 2 hour length. Everything in this film is simply sublime. And, unlike, SOCIAL NETWORK, this film makes you feel a bit happy about the human condition when the credits roll.

Unlike Christopher Columbus' direction of the first two films, Director David Yates gets it. He gets the look and, most importantly, tone and feel of the Harry Potter universe. (Of course, Azkaban is my personal favorite of the eight). However, this movie is a great finale of the series. All of the actors take their roles seriously from Daniel Radcliffe and Helena Bonham Carter to John Hurt and Ralph Fiennes (as Voldemort). Fantastic cinematography and special effects meshed with a great storyline, pulls this film out of the three-star dumpster and tosses it into, possibly, one of the 10 best movies of the year. Check 'er out. But watch the first seven first!

I dragged my heels on this movie due to the fact that I thought it was a tear jerker bummer of a film a' la PHILADELPHIA. Turns out I was completely wrong. What a great romantic comedy. Yeah, I know. How could a movie about a 75-year old man dying from lung cancer be a romantic comedy. Well, it is and it works spectacularly. All actors are fantastic. The script and direction by Mike Mills works from beginning to end. In a time of stupid romantic movies of 2010 such as FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS, JUST GO WITH IT, FOOTLOOSE and THE TWILIGHT SAGA. It's nice and refreshing to see that someone out there is creating a great romantic film. Check 'er out!

Aronofosky does it again, and in a completely different genre - horror. Some may argue that this is a drama. However, I would put it in the same realm as SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and ROSEMARY'S BABY. Smart horror. Aronofosky is a talented director who pushes his actors to their finest levels. It's no wonder most of his film have actor nominees when the dust settles. Portman is on top of her game. I truly cannot imagine anyone else taking this role. But that's not all. The screenplay. The grainy mixture of 16 mm and video cinematography create a muted, somewhat ethereal tone to add to the already darkened mood of the film. The handheld camera movements makes the movie feel like a documentary at times. Top it off with a great supporting cast and a fantastic script and you've got one helluva entertaining, original film. Check er out!

One of the best documentaries of 2010. A fantastic, intimate look into a platoons point of view of the conflict in Afghanistan. Im not sure Ive ever seen such an up close, personal look of the soldiers in a documentary before. Fantastic cinematography and direction by Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington. But its the soldiers interviews that really packs a powerful punch. Powerful, powerful stuff. Highly recommended.

Could be considered great, or not so great, upon a second viewing. As I stated above with Von Trier's Melancholia, in a sense, this felt like Malick's 2001: A SPACY ODYSSEY. The acting was fantastic. Brad Pitt is having a banner year for acting jobs. The supporting cast, in particular the young son is top notch as well. I'm just not sure if I really like this movie because the critics and reviews say I'm supposed to, or if there is a deeper meaning to all of this. I understand that Malick is a very nature-specific guy filming loads and loads of natural elements to intersperse with the actors. Seems to me that Malick chose this family as a tiny snippet of the big kahuna that is life. I'm just not sure how that affected me including the 15-plus minute 'The Earth is Born' sequence at the beginning of the film Sometimes it seemed to take away from the movie altogether. Sometimes I found myself wondering why was this all necessary. Sometimes I found myself asking 'Why in the Hell did Sean Penn take this role?' Was there a lot more that they shot of Sean Penn as the grown-up son? Did Malick leave it on the cutting room floor? I guess I would like to hear what Malick's intentions were before I toss the movie into the realm of greatness. Which begs the question, if I'm asking so many questions, does it make it a great movie? Well, at the very least, I tossed it on this list stars mainly for acting and direction - and the fact that it's still making me think about it a month and a half after I've viewed it.

The Rest of the Pack
Below are some films that were almost considered as top views, but didn't quite make the cut:
  • The Muppets
  • 127 Hours
  • Midnight In Paris
  • Horrible Bosses
  • X-Men: First Class
  • Bridesmaids
  • Puss in Boots
  • Contagion
  • Biutiful
  • Win Win
  • Limitless
  • The Way Back
  • Rio
  • Never Let Me Go
  • The Fighter
  • Last Train Home
  • Let Me In
  • Enter The Void
  • Exit Through the Gift Shop
  • Dogtooth
  • Easy A

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Eimer's Worst Movies of 2011

Well, with the good comes the bad, and I've come across a lot of bad this year - even though I try to stay away from the very, very bad films (I'm talking to you Director/Producer Michael Bay and the third Chipmunks sequel).

But, sometimes, thanks to my kids and my blatant stupidity, I toss a movie into the DVD player that I think is going to rock - and it just ends up sucking a big bag of balls in the end.

So, because it's much more fun writing nasty reviews than positive ones, I'd like to share my 10 WORST viewing experiences of 2011.

Keep in mind, I watch a lot of movies on DVD, so the films may be a year or so old. Eh, you get the drift.

Well, what am I waiting for? Let's go:

Does not like. What do you get when you mix OCEAN'S 11 with THE ITALIAN JOB and a bunch of terrible actors? A big turd named FAST FIVE! I cannot fathom why, this year, more than one critic tossed this onto their top ten of 2011 lists, which romanced and massaged me enough to actually toss this into my Netflix queue and waste 131 minutes of my precious life. The dialogue was terrible. Just terrible. The action scenes were predictable and dumb (two cars pulling a 10-ton safe through the streets of Rio taking hair-pin turns and not messing up their cars one bit? Really?), the plot, a slightly tweaked version of OCEAN'S 11, was ludicrous. Ludicrous I say! Screenwriters Chris Morgan and Gary Scott Thompson even had the stones to steal the character personas from Danny Ocean's suave crime syndicate. Look, I semi-enjoyed the first FAST & THE FURIOUS for what it was...a movie that entertained all the gear heads out there with fast cars and loose women. I stayed away from the other installments as a personal protest against bad films. Now, who's the sucker? Curse you paid-off critics! Curse you! Not only for insulting my intelligence, but for sucking me back into this terrible, terrible franchise.

If the trailer for this film has piqued your curosity, just a warning that you're going to watch a totally different film. It's not a goofy comedy. It's bordlerine drama. Plus, it's not that funny. Even Vince Vaughn's interesting little tantrums and speeches couldn't transform my frown into a smile. Not much more to say. Wasted acting. Wasted talent. Wasted script. Wasted movie. Save your 112 minutes, because you'll never get it back. NEVER!

Although my kid's loved it, this movie did absolutely nothing for me. Granted, a 39-year old father is probably not the demographic that the producers were trying to grab for this film. I just felt everyone was sleepwalking through this movie to make a simple buck. Nobody brought their A-game to this film. Shame on director Rob Letterman for creating this tripe. Rent TIME BANDITS or GOONIES instead. Those two movies are a much bigger fantasy bang for your buck - and your time.

This movie was 45 minutes too long, even considering the fact that I fast-forwarded through about half of it. WRECKED is a like a failed Gus Van Sant experimental movie. I was bored, bored, bored as hell. Here's my idea for the perfect fix, have Adrien Brody's character actually have flashbacks during the movie. Little tiny snippets a' la MOMENTO where he starts to finally realize how and why he wrecked and who in the hell those people are in the car. Was this movie a good idea? Hell, it's a great idea. Just poor direction. Poor screenplay. And, worst of all, a very boring movie. It's a pity, because I had very high hopes for this film after reading all of the review.

Oh man was I excited when I saw the line-up: Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, David Spade and Kevin James as five childhood pals who reunite after 30 years to mourn the loss of their old basketball coach. Boy was I wrong! How is it possible to have such comedic talents and garner such few laughs. Terrible script. Terrible direction. Just a bad movie all around. Yes, the pee turning blue in the pool was funny. But do you really want to waste 2 hours of your life waiting for the one joke that you saw in the trailers? Such a pity. Man this one sucked ass.

I had high hopes for this film, but it all just fell very, very flat - and I'm a fan of Takashi Miike. It seems like the first part was basically samurai sitting and talking, sitting and talking with a tiny bit of sadistic torture tossed into the mix. The second half picked up a bit, but by that time, I was yawning and looking at my watch. It sucks that I had such a terrible viewing experience for a film that I've been anticipating for quite some time.

Meh, didn't really do it for me. Look, this film was heads and tails above the other low indie shark movie OPEN WATER. The characters were more likable. The cinematography was a bit better and the plot, well, it still reaked of JAWS 4 - a serial killer shark is hunting the ocean for the only perceived food source in hundreds of hundreds of miles. Like I said, it was entertaining enough, but it just felt redundant and stale. Australian accents can't even pull this rank chum out of the 2-star dumpster.

Sure Paul Giamatti was great. But, after watching this movie, two things came to mind. First off it was waaaay too long. Secondly, it reminded me of MR. SATURDAY NIGHT starring Billy Crystal (with waaay better make-up of course). There just seemed to be too many plot points stirring around in this soup that, at the end of the film, I was scratching my head. Not that I didn't have answers. It just felt like it was a blah ending. I don't know, people are giving this movie five stars and praising everything about it. The acting is good. The editing, script and direction are the real culprits in this film.

Sometimes when I toss in a movie that I know nothing about, I sit back and wonder to myself This may be the next RESERVOIR DOGS or PULP FICTION or DONNIE DARKO. Well, this isnt anyone of them. As we were watching the Aborigine man chase down white guy after white guy my wife screamed out "Buncha pussies! Why don't they fight back?" Well, theres a reason and you have to wait to the very end to find out why. Yes, this is an okay nice revenge, twist tale. But its not as fantastic as everyone has made it out to be. Nothing great. Okay acting. Okay idea. Okay direction. In two words...just okay.

Meh. I was a fan of the original. Plus, when I heard Director Tod Williams (DOOR IN THE FLOOR) signed on for this sequel, I was doubly excited. With exception to better acting than the original, I can honestly say that I was expecting a bit more. Don't worry, you'll get your share of out of your seat suspense. But, I thought the storyline and the ultimate end was a bit milquetoast for me. Even with a little baby thrown into the scary mix, consider me underwhelmed. Rent the original for more scares and creepiness.

If you like these crappy movies, check out more of my worst movies of last year below:

Eimer's Top Reads of 2011

Well, it's that time of the year when I reminisce about the year that was. Truth be told, I didn't read as many books as I have in years past. Not sure if my attention was focused on other things, I've been reading longer books or simply, my eyesight is failing me and it takes longer to read fine text. All in all, I believe I read a total of 26 or so books this past year. Not much, but enough to have a top ten list.

Also, I ask anyone and everyone to visit and open up a FREE membership where you can mark and rate your favorite-and not so favorite-books, write reviews and build a 'to-read' list based on other reader's recommendations, and more!

Now, shameless promotions aside, let's get to the books.

This year, it seems that I've picked a number of duds including Xenocide (the third book in the Ender series), Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine and A Man in the Woods by Scott Spencer. Very disappointed with these three books among others.

However, as the whale shit sunk to the bottom of the ocean floor (or in this case my book pile), ten books served as the distinctive cream that rose to the top including three books by three of my favorite illustrators. Plus, a special shout out to my copywriter companion Craig Israel who recommended not one, not two, but three books, which made this list. Thanks bud!

So, without further adieu, here were my top-ten favorite books of 2011 (in no particular order):

The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb
Well, now I can officially say that I've read the Book of Genesis! However, it wouldn't have been as nearly entertaining had it not been illustrated by R. Crumb. Couple thoughts...the story of Noah, Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel as well as Sodom and Gommorah are extremely short - less than a page or two. It seems like this Rebekah character controlled all of the early men's decisions in the Bible. It's funny to see that people lived to be 400 or 500 years old in the olden days but - in today's time of radical medicine and prescriptions - we have an average lifespan of 77. Speaking of Noah, since a flood wiped out all of humanity, then technically, everyone on this Earth is the spawn of Noah? Correct? There are pages and pages of boring, mundane text talking about who had sex with who and then lists and lists and lists of the children's names. By far, the most enjoyable part was the story of Joseph, which ended this extremely daunting first chapter of the Bible on a high note. Thanks to Crumb for offering a visually stunning 'take' on this important manuscript. Highly recommended for the visuals. Slightly recommended for the overall text.

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
Wow. What a novel. Reminded me of a modern day Grapes of Wrath. Where as Steinbeck's fantastic novel talked about the plight of the American farmer and their struggles to feed themselves and find constant work to survive. Franzen, the author, focuses his lens on the modern day family's (The Bergland's) internal, psychological struggles with their emotions, their beliefs, their sanity and their ultimate pursuit of happiness. A struggle to find what will make them truly free. Like Steinbeck, Franzen has strong control of the English language and creates a fantastic story interpersed with plausible, believable dialogue between the characters. A genius work (and I don't use genius oftern). The first 100 pages, you may be scratching your head and wondering where this is going. Give it time. The book percolates in your mind, lets you slowly get to know the characters and then grabs a hold of you until the very last sentence. Seriously. This book would make a great HBO mini-series

20th-Century Ghosts by Joe Hill
The short story, in particular, the short horror story is a dangerous nut to crack, as you'll see when I release my little nuggets to the world in a couple of weeks. Some great fiction, science fiction and horror writers are known for their fabulous short stories including Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury, Clive Barker and Stephen King - even Hemingway among others. Other long-form horror writers try and try to create a good short story, but fall short. Which brings us to Joe Hill who has offered up a handful of not necessarily gore shriek stories, but rather eerie, odd, fantastical stories. Hence the term 20th Century Ghosts. These aren't goblins and spooky critters, but somewhat real people that you could possibly run into on the street. The thing about Hill, is he has a knack for dialogue and his character can be very funny, very sarcastic when need be. His stories could be pulled from this book and tossed into an episode of Twilight Zone without much tinkering. I was very happy with this collection. However a number of his stories came to the top of the 'jealousy' pile including BEST NEW HORROR, POP ART, THE BLACK PHONE, THE CAPE, MY FATHER'S MASK and VOLUNTARY COMMITTAL (which is quite possibly one of the best short stories I've read in quite some time). So, there you have it. After reading his 'okay' long-form novel HEART-SHAPED BOX, I'm looking forward to reading some other great entries from this up-and-coming horror writer.

Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
This isn't a book for nerds. Well, not really. This is a book celebrating the numbers, the statistics, the data of life, the (dare I say?) hidden side of everything. Steven D. Levitt and economist Steven J. Dubner provide an easy-to-read thought-provoking book on economics...with a twist. Want to know why crime has gone down in the past 20 years? It's not because gun control. What's in your child's name? As it turns out, a lot. Do teachers and sumo wrestlers cheat? You'll be surprised to learn that some of them do. What makes a good parent? Well, as it turns out - it's not reading to them. How is drug dealing a lot like McDonalds? Find out in this book. Are there similarities between real estate agents and the KKK? In a word, yes! Economist Levitt and journalist Dubner come together to create a page-turner of fascinating facts that will make you the most brilliant chap at any cocktail party. Seriously! I'm sorry that I dragged my heels on reading this book. It was a very fun read.

The Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
After I read that Andrew Stanton (Wall-E, Finding Nemo) signed on the dotted line to direct a live-action movie about Edgar Rice Burroughs' The Princes of Mars (aptly titled John Carter of Mars), count me intrigued. I've always heard fellow geeks in my fellow geek circles talking about this book, but didn't think much of it. "Pffftt. It's an old dusty book about a guy who goes to mars and fights aliens," I would say. Well, turns out I was half-right. The other half is that it's actually an entertaining read. Keep in mind that this book was first published in 1917. Almost 100 years ago! Then, you can respect Burrough's vision and creativity and imagination. Sure, some of the plot is a little clunky (how did JC get to Mars?) and writing is a bit antiquated. But, so what. That's the fun of the book. It's a great, pulpy science fiction book that inspired a lot of famous writers, directors and scientists to think beyond this Earth. And start looking to the stars for literary and literal exploration. Will I continue to read Burroughs' John Carter series? Eventually. But not right now. There's too many other books I want to read. After talking with a friend, he mentioned that Burroughs uses the famous cliffhanger technique from book to book. He does it with this original entry as well, which piqued my curiosity. So, yeah, I'll probably explore the series a bit more down the line. However, I'm very happy that I picked up this important piece of science fiction literature. It's definitely worth a read.

Physics of the Future by Michio Kaku
Great interesting book. If you ever wanted to step into a time machine and find out what life was going to be like in 25, 50 or 100 years - this is the book. Based on patents that are currently at the patent office and conversation with some of the smartest, forward-thinking minds of this century - theoretical physicist Michio Kaku paints an optimistic picture of the future. No more gas. No more disease. No more aging. Tons of robots. And expanded space travel and colonization. The book, at times, is a little heady, but the brilliant Kaku tries his best to speak in lamen's terms referring to pop culture movies, tv shows, books and magazines to help illustrate his thoughts. One of the most eerie parts lies in the the final chapter where Kaku takes us through a day in the life of a 71-year old man in 2100 - as close as you're going to get to seeing the real thing. Check er out.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
My favorite book of this past year. Not only a great read for young adults, but for everyone. Sure, comparisons will be made to THE LONG WALK, BATTLE ROYALE and THE RUNNING MAN, but Suzanne Collins creates a somewhat plausible, eerie dystopian world where 24 teenagers battle to the death in a forested arena...and only one survives. A real entertaining page-turner that will have you thinking long and hard weeks and months after you finish it. LIke I said, very entertaining, creative, violent read, which is surprising for a young adult novel. TWILIGHT this ain't, so check 'er out!

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Collins' follow-up to the fantastic horror novel The Hunger Games, I enjoyed the story arc, the writing and even the great twist in the middle - and the end. However, although this is a great second novel, in my opinion nothing will compare to the first novel. I wish I could say more, but the beauty of this series is the element of surprise that springs out at the reader each and every page. Read the books and tell me what you think. Highly recommended. EIMER NOTE: Although I read Collins' third and final Hunger Games novel, Mockingjay - I did not include it on this list for a number of reasons. Although it was good, it just wasn't top-ten worthy.

Berni Wrightson: A Look Back by Christopher Zavisa and Berni Wrightson
Fantastic book. If you're an illustrator, a fan of comic books or simply like staring and learning about great art, this is the book for you. Bernie Wrightson is the master. It's nice to get inside his head and see what makes him tick as an artist. The cool thing about this book is not only the great art, but the fact that Bernie actually takes the time to talk about his work - including his failures, which makes him a bit more human in my eyes.

MAD's Greatest Artists: Sergio Aragones: Five Decades of His Finest Works by Sergio Aragones and Patrick McDonnell
If you're a fan of MAD Magazine, cartooning or ironic-filled cartoons, you need to check out this book, which supplies the best of the best of Sergio Aragones' five decades of work at MAD Magazine - hand picked by the author/illustrator himself. If it wasn't for this guy and Don Martin, I wouldn't have dabbled in cartooning myself. This is a great collection of some of Aragones' funniest gags. Great, great stuff by a truly talented, and mad, genius.

ADDITIONAL WARNING: If you're interested in any of the above books, I implore you to not (NOT) visit Wikipedia to learn more. Wikipedia summaries are filled to the gills with spoilers that will ruin your reading experience.

Well, there you have it. If you're interested in other top ten list from years past click the links below:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Eimertoons - Battle Claus

(click image to enlarge)
Check back next week for an Anatomy of an Eimertoon of this particular pen and ink drawing.

Oh, and Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What do James Brown, Sinead O' Connor, Public Enemy and Madonna have in common?

A couple days ago, my wife and I were listening to 'I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got' by Sinead O'Connor. Great album/cd/download by the way.





Monday, December 5, 2011