Cartooning Like You Mean It

Cartooning, Teaching & Living – by Tom Hart

Best movies seen and best books read in 2008

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Best movies seen and best books read in 2008

Having a terrible memory, I enlisted my MacBook and Microsoft MS Excel in a partnership to assist me in recording all the media I explored in 2008. So MY Best-Of-2008 list reflects whatever the hell I saw or read in depth in 2008, regardless of year of creation.

Here’s the rundown.

  • Movies seen: 75
  • Books read: roughly 22 (some left unfinished, some smaller, etc.)
  • Short stories read: roughly 36, but I often forget to log them.
  • I wish it could include the amazing songs I encountered this year, but Emusic makes that far too difficult. Let’s make a special mention of Little Richard’s “I Don’t Know What You Got” which makes me cry,


Movies in detail.
Top 10 (11) movies:

  1. NIGHT OF THE IGUANA – John Huston’s adaptation of Tennessee Williams. Richard Burton creating William Shatner’s entire career in two hours. Eva Gardner AMAZING. Shirtless maraca-waving boy toys. THIS FILM HAS EVERYTHING!!! Read about it here
  2. DEVILS AT THE DOORSTEP – Does anyone else know this movie exists? It’s nearly perfect.Wiki link here.
  3. THE EDGE OF HEAVEN – Fatih Akin’s newest, about 6 characters bouncing between Germany and Turkey. Leela and I saw it 3 times. Akin, along with Almodovar, and John Cameron Mitchell have the biggest hearts of directors currently working.
  4. ELECTRA – Leela and I went on a Greek tragedy binge, seeing all the Michael Cacoyannis adaptations and me watching the Pasolini/Maria Callas MEDEA and listening to the Cherubini/Maria Callas opera.
  5. DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY – Just beautiful.
  6. PERSEPOLIS – I walked away thinking THIS was the version of this story that needed to be told. I’m a fan enough of Marjane Satrapi’s book, but she’s not a terrific artist, not a strong stylist and not much of a craftsperson. This movie, I suppose due to the smart help she marshaled, is a cohesive, glorious telling of her story.
  7. TARKAN VS THE VIKINGS – Corny Turkish adventure film. Everyone wearing Technicolor fake fur, a giant octopus and hot chicks!
  8. THE DAY I BECAME A WOMAN – Blogged about this wonderful Iranian film here.
  9. VIVRE SA VIE – Goddard, Anna Karina.
  10. 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 8 DAYS – Powerful Romanian film about a desperate woman’s attempt to get an abortion
  11. LOLA MONTEZ – Wild bio pic told with framing device of a circus.



  • Stupid, but I liked it anyway: SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER. Another Tennessee Williams over the top bunch of junk
  • Craziest small budget time travelling movie everyone talk about – PRIMER
  • John Cameron Mitchell is real – SHORTBUS
  • Charming small time movie about falafel cart owner in Queens. MAN PUSH CART. I’m dying to see his new movie, CHOP SHOP
  • Argued into seeing and loved it: THREE BURIALS OF MELQUEADOS ESTRADA
  • This movie sucks and don’t let anyone tell you differently: SHOWGIRLS
  • Finally saw some of the DECALAOGUE
  • Best visual compostions: MILDRED PIERCE
  • Best silent film with a drunken pig scene: SUNRISE, Murnau
  • Best new boyfriend: MAD MEN. Sopranos sits with me like a bad relationship. I should have NEVER gotten involved with him! WHY DID I THINK HE LOVED ME? He was such an asshole and I only have bad feelings about that whole thing now. MAD MEN is different. He loves me like I need to be loved. The finale to Season 1 is devastating.

Some seen and loved again:

  • RAN

Hated and everyone loved:

  • TELL NO ONE- Are you kidding me? Rich white guy goes to the ghetto to enlist his homies to help find his lost wife, who is rocking out to U2 in cyberspace. Ech. Here’s what I wrote in my notes at the time: “way too convaluted! Too Scooby Doo in the end, with a grand, enormous explanation to wrap it all together (and introduce new plot points, etc.bleh)”
  • EYES WIDE SHUT- I hate this more the more I think about it, though the first half is powerful. Raw feelings between couples portrayed pretty realistically, but then Tom Cruise winds up in The Temple of Doom and it just gets ridiculous. I want to be talked into at least liking this film, but it’s not going to happen.



Books read (exempting graphic novels). These were all great so I list them all:

  • The Blind Assassin Margaret Atwood (brilliant)
  • Surfacing Margaret Atwood (wild and wonderful)
  • The Western Cannon and How To Read and Why Harold Bloom
  • 100 Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Brothers Karamazov Dosteyevsky (didn’t finish)
  • Notebooks to Brother Karamazov
  • The Nonexistent Knight Italo Calvino
  • Don Quixote Cervantes (didn’t finish, read about half)
  • Crescent Diana Abu-Jaber
  • The Language of Baklava Diana Abu-Jaber
  • 1001 Arabian Nights Various Arabs, Turks and Persians
  • The Search Naquib Mahfouz
  • She’s Not There Jenny Boylan
  • The Road Cormac Mccarthy
  • Master of Reality John Darnielle
  • Lolita Vladimir Nabokov
  • The Dead (Dubliners) James Joyce
  • Odeipus at Colonus Sophocles (gorgeous)
  • Pale Fire Vladimir Nabokov
  • Last Things Jenny Offill
  • Martian Chronicles Ray Bradbury
  • The Sound and The Fury William Faulkner

The story here is discovering the classics. Harold Bloom argued me into Surfacing, which rarely gets mentioned in discussions about Atwood. Surfacing was my favorite book of 2008- wild, probing, weird, sad; until Lolita came along in August. Where was Lolita in my life before this? I feel like artistically, my creative brain will break down into B.L. and P.L.

Other themes, ideas and questions: Pale Fire is almost as good as Lolita, but more cerebral and sillier. Two great memoirs: She’s Not There and The Language of Baklava. The latter of which has probably informed Margo’s and my new comic strip.

I read 100 Years of Solitude and The Sound and The Fury for book clubs I never joined. What was I thinking trying to read The Sound and The Fury with no help?? I’m reading As I Lay Dying as 2009 begins. I found myself reading it recently in a Kings County Hosptial Emergency Room bed. Always full of irony, I am, even post-epileptic seizure…

Roughly 36 short stories, including a few by John Cheever, Raymond Carver, Annie Proulx, Margaret Atwood and "The Vane Sisters" and "Signs and Symbols" by Vladimir Nabokov (the latter introduced and read by Mary Gaitskill on the New Yorker website)

Written by hutchowen

January 1, 2009 at 3:15 pm

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