4 films that define you…go.

This made the rounds on Twitter earlier today, and it seemed like a fun thing to do. The challenge was to name four films that define you, in celebration of “the personal nature of cinema.” A worthy endeavor. It kind of evolved into people just posting four images or screencaps from their chosen movies, which is what I ended up doing too:

Pretty sure I’ve blabbed about each of these at some point on this blog, but here’s a summary.

Lost in Translation (2003)

The mood and music of Lost in Translation is basically my entire aesthetic. I love how Sofia Coppola captured the feeling of being anonymous in a big city, and the uncertainty of relationships caught in limbo, and the bittersweetness of not quite knowing what to do with your life. Also, Bill Murray is a national treasure.

Annie Hall (1977)

Liking Woody Allen movies is problematic these days, but that won’t stop me from considering Annie Hall one of the best films ever made. This movie assured me that being neurotic and awkward was ok, as long as I could find someone else equally neurotic and awkward to talk about it with (Annie Hall was one of the first things Alex and I bonded over when we met). Plus, it’s so packed with memorable scenes that I regularly forget that Paul Simon is in it, which is quite a feat.

Easy Rider (1969)

Easy Rider is the 1960s—my spirit decade—in movie form. It’s basically an extended road trip montage backed by an amazing soundtrack. And because the 60s weren’t all peace and love, it also gets pretty dark, a true period piece if ever there was one. Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper are great, but Jack Nicholson most definitely steals the show. I quote this film probably once a week at minimum.

Sunset Boulevard (1950)

I was having a hard time choosing between this and a Chaplin/Keaton film, but went with Sunset Boulevard because it celebrates the silent era while also embodying the Hollywood of the 1950s, in all its noir splendor. And because glorifying the past is one of my favorite things to do. Me and Norma Desmond have a lot in common, as it turns out.

Putting this together made me realize that setting plays a huge role in all of my favorite movies. Tokyo, New York City, the American Southwest, Los Angeles…I have a personal connection with all of these places, and undoubtedly they are part of the reason I love each of these films so much.

For funsies, here are my runners-up:

A Hard Day’s Night (1964) – This movie changed my life (or more accurately, the people in it changed my life). It was a tough one to leave out of the top 4.
Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995) – Sigh. Mr. Holland’s Opus will always hold a special place in my heart for starting me on my journey to band geekdom.
Amadeus (1984) – I loooove the set design, and I looooove Mozart.
Sherlock Jr. (1924) – Ahhh, so many good visual tricks in this one. This one doesn’t really define me in any way; I wanted to include a silent film as a reminder that movies were on a completely different (and in many ways, more creative) level in the 1910s and 1920s.

Anyone else? Share your 4 films with meeeeee.

Top Fives

A long time ago I attempted to make a thing out of Music Listography, but unfortunately failed after the first entry (I don’t even know where that notebook went, bummer). It’s a shame because it’s a cool idea, and although Alex and I have made similar lists as a way to pass the time on road trips, writing them down and backing them up with YouTube videos is a fun/shameless way to plug some of your favorite stuff, which of course is the point of this whole blog.

So basically, I revisited that old post and decided I wanted to try again, refashioning the listography part into Top 5 lists à la High Fidelity.

Speaking of the Beatles and being obvious, I’m not going to pretend that my top Side 1 Track 1s would be anything other than mainstream (Highway 61 Revisited, “Like a Rolling Stone,” I mean come on…). Actually, I’m sure all of my Top 5 things are pretty mainstream, at least in terms of Stuff That Baby Boomers Like. But hey, I’m not claiming that these are THE Top 5s, just MY Top 5s.

That said, here’s my second attempt at listography…with somewhat Nikki-specific categories, complete with (hopefully not broken) YouTube links!

Top 5 Beatles songs I tend to forget about but then get SO HAPPY when I remember them:
It’s All Too Much
You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)
This version of Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da
This version of No Reply (your FACE)
Bonus: the cover of Besame Mucho (from both 1962 and 1969)

Top 5 Favorite Lyricists (i.e. People Who Make Me Want To Write Songs):
Paul Simon
John Darnielle
Tom Waits
Ezra Koenig
Kishi Bashi
Can I just say that choosing a Paul Simon song is what kept me from posting this for like a week? I think a Top 5 Paul Simon Lyrics list would be nearly impossible. 

Top 5 Favorite Guitar Hero II Songs
Ahhhh, college…
YYZ – Rush
Free Bird – Lynyrd Skynyrd
Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns ‘N Roses (first song I ever beat on expert, those were the days…)
Jordan – Buckethead (for the pure insanity)
Jessica – Allman Brothers Band

And because I don’t mean for this to be limited to just music,

Top 5 Favorite Jack Nicholson Movie Scenes
Going crazy in The Shining
“Hold it between your knees”
Watching the ball game
Go To The Mirror – Tommy (such a great crossover of my favorite things)

I’ve got lots of material for a follow-up post (Top 5 TOS Episodes, Top 5 Who Songs Sung by John Entwistle, Top 5 Cat Videos on YouTube, etc.). Do you have any? I feel like this blog is very un-interactive (which is probably mostly due to its readership being like 4 people at max), so I welcome any contributions or ideas!

Happy weekend.

"You’re righteous, Stoney, but you’re not very hip"

Watching Psych-Out at this very moment (these are the things I watch when I’m home alone).

God, this movie is weird.

But it’s from 1968 so I guess I can forgive it.

Gotta love those 60s taglines…

Basically, it consists of a deaf girl (Susan Strasberg) discovering the Haight Ashbury scene while making friends with Stoney (Jack Nicholson) and his gang, with lots of trippy drug-induced dioramas interspersed throughout.

Although it’s amusing to see Baby Nicholson with a (fake?) ponytail and all the images of San Francisco in the 60s, so far all it’s left me with is a lot of bad trips and this bizarro Hendrix-esque song.

The good news is, this movie is available on Netflix so you can watch (or stop watching) it any time you like.

“I don’t have much money”
“You don’t need much around here”
(if only that were still true…)

Cool hat, Jack.

edit/spoiler: WOW what a terrible ending. What’s with all these 60s movies having suuuuper depressing endings? It’s symbolic, I get it, but it’s amazing how quickly those credits start to roll after someone dies…


I recently re-rewatched Making ‘The Shining’ which is a documentary about exactly that. It’s a really interesting little film, the gist of which goes something like:

Shelley Duvall: *whines*
Stanley Kubrick: Stop whining, Shelley.
Jack Nicholson: *is awesome*

Seriously though, how cool is Jack? I feel like he never causes problems on the set, because he’s just too cool to care that much.

I also recently watched Room 237, which is a bunch of (sometimes ridiculous) interpretations about The Shining as told by 5 film critics. Some of it was fascinating, but…there’s a limit to how long you can listen to a woman interpret a skiing poster as an elaborate minotaur symbol when obviously it’s just a skiing poster.

Read some of the theories here and decide for yourself if it’s worth a watch.

Things I’m digging

…from the past week:


Previously unpublished photos of Jack Nicholson at home on Mulholland Drive, 1969. These were taken around the time of Five Easy Pieces, one of his lesser known/more underrated films (if you’ve never seen the diner scene, go ahead and brush up on your Nicholsonness by watching it right now).


8tracks.com. I found this website through StumbleUpon, which specifically gave me this mix to listen to. I was instantly hooked. I like how it doesn’t show the list of songs right away, and instead gives you the opportunity to be surprised by what’s next. I started making a couple test mixes (here I am!), but honestly I’m having more fun finding cool mixes by other people than making my own. Definitely worth checking out!


This photo shoot of John Lennon and Paul McCartney (a.k.a. Lennon/McCartney Sexytimes). I’d previously only seen like 4 photos from this session, and now there are DOZENS! I die.

Also, this tumblr

Oh, YouTube. No wonder I never get any studying done.

In my opinion, there is no cooler actor alive than Jack Nicholson. Or ever, for that matter. He just beats them all. I’ve seen a good number of his movies, but still on the to-watch list are The Last Detail, The King of Marvin Gardens, Psych-Out (crazy 60s psychedelia), Carnal Knowledge (risque 70s sex movie), and The Witches of Eastwick (morbid 80s chick flick?). I don’t think I’ve ever seen these ones at the rental store, haha.

And now, I’d like to present you with some of the many faces of Jack:

I love how he’s played everything from a hippie to an astronaut to Satan to a mafia leader. JACK IS THE MAN.

discoveries and quotes

Whoa whoa whoa HELLO AND WHOA, I just found out today that The Last Tycoon (F. Scott Fitzgerald’s unfinished novel, which I read over winter break) was made into a movie! What’s more, it stars Robert De Niro and Jack Nicholson?! I am soooo intrigued.

The Last Tycoon was a fascinating read, although Fitzgerald died before he could finish it. There was one passage I loved so much that I wrote it down in my paper journal:

Writers aren’t people exactly. Or, if they’re any good, they’re a whole lot of people trying so hard to be one person. It’s like actors, who try so pathetically not to look in mirrors. Who lean backwards trying – only to see their faces in the reflecting chandeliers.

I feel like I can relate. I dunno, sometimes I feel like a million different people trying to find one to identify with. I also remember a part from Charlie Chaplin’s autobiography about writers being “nice people but not very giving…whatever they know they like to keep between the covers of their books.” I’m not saying I’m a writer by any means, just that thoughts like these make me feel like one, haha.

On a completely different note, Neil Young made a new music video with just a webcam, an apple, and some headphones. It’s pretty amusing. He reminds me of a mix between Jack Nicholson and my dad.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

I watched The Shining for a 3rd (4th?) time today. Soooo creepy. I don’t think there is anyone more perfect for the role of a murderous lunatic than Jack Nicholson, haha.

There are very few horror movies I like. Most of them rely on excessive blood and carnage to get your attention. With movies like Psycho and The Shining though, it’s the incredible buildup of suspense, the way scenes are presented, and the mere idea of these things happening that is so scary. Oh and Psycho has really cool music, haha. But exaggerated gruesome images and a dumb plot are the premise for a lot of scary movies today, making them hardly believable. In all actuality, I just really dislike gore, haha.

If you are interested at all in The Shining, Stanley Kubrick, or Jack Nicholson, I strongly suggest this documentary, on the making of the movie. Behind the scenes footage of Jack is just as entertaining as watching Jack on screen, haha.