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Top Ten Films of 2006

Chris Campbell

This is the fifth list that I've made here and this year it seemed very easy. So in no particular order, here are the ten:

  • BrickBrick
    Rian Johnson's debut feature brilliantly combines film noir and high school. While much attention is paid to the dialogue, which is classic Raymond Chandler, the film is very effectively shot and efficiently edited. Not an homage or parody, but a film that takes the attitude of noir and updates it with style and grace.

  • The Science of SleepThe Science of Sleep
    Michel Gondry has a impressive resume with a distinctive style, but his previous two features films were both written by Charlie Kaufman. With The Science of Sleep Gondry wrote the script and while it has many of the elements of his previous films, it has a realism with honesty and darkness that surprised me. It's a complex and wonderful film that creates a unique world that took me a while to snap out of.

  • Away From HerAway From Her
    With her feature directorial debut, Sarah Polley didn't create a vanity project and instead created a mature and moving film built around remarkable performances from Gordon Pinsent and Julie Christie as a couple who deal with aging and Alzheimers. It was surprising and moving.

  • Brothers of the HeadBrothers of the Head
    In the complex story told by Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe they mix various styles in adapting Brian Aldiss' novel Brothers of the Head. While it could have been an interesting drama, by framing it as a documentary with clips from an earlier documentary and an uncompleted drama directed by Ken Russell, it becomes something much more. With amazing performances and casting it's an odd film that is more tragic and poignant than comedic.

  • CleanClean
    Olivier Assayas mixes reality and drama in a film with powerful silences and an extraordinary performance by Maggie Cheung as a recovering drug addict who is trying to pull her life together. Shot in a casual, almost documentary style, it is a beautiful film about redemption.

  • Strangers With CandyStrangers With Candy
    The much-delayed adaptation of the cult-classic tv series Strangers With Candy made me a bit nervous as I wasn't sure if it would live up to my expectations. But it worked surprisingly well and was so funny that the first time I saw it with an enthusiastic crowd I missed many jokes. It's a great introduction to the character of Jerry Blank and the writing of Paul Dinello (who directed), Stephen Colbert, and Amy Sedaris (who also act in the film). Edgy and bold, it follows a unique rhythm and style that you'll either love or hate.

  • VolverVolver
    Pedro Almodovar creates a melodramatic and gorgeous film in Volver with a cast of amazing women with Penelope Cruz at the centre of a story that plays with expectations and has an infectious sense of fun and beauty that draws you in. It's bold and wonderful.

  • The PropositionThe Proposition
    Nick Cave wrote and John Hillcoat directed the dark and surprising western set in Australia. With an unconventional story structure that shifts the point of view, it became fascinating to watch the remarkable performance of Ray Winstone as the tragedy unfolds before us. It's a dark story that almost seems to be set in hell with an overwhelming sense of dread.

  • The Journals of Knud RasmussenThe Journals of Knud Rasmussen
    With a unique rhythm, look and structure, The Journals of Knud Rasmussen is drawn from the journal of a white man who lived in an Inuit community at the turn of the century. At the beginning of the film I wasn't sure if I could get into it, but it clicked and the documentary feeling adds to the power of the story which become more powerful and profound as the film progressed. Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn manage to combine a cross-cultural drama with a family drama that has a startling immediacy. It is surprising and unique and it works on a very cinematic level.

  • Tristram ShandyTristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
    Michael Winterbottom films an unfilmable novel in a faithful and hilarious adaptation with Steve Coogan as the egocentric actor at the center of the film. Blurring the boundaries and identities of who and what we see it's a film that ultimately turns and turns and turns around so many times with so many layers that it feels simultaneously heavy and light.

It was a good year for films and it is encouraging to be surprised by the films and filmmakers of the past year.

Being Online

Chris Campbell

Presence online is a interesting thing as we put various parts of ourselves online and share different words, images, sounds and video. Habits change as new trends and tools emerge. As you may have notice, I haven't written here for a long time. While I have been online in other places such as Flickr, 43 Things, Bad Metaphor, and more recently, Vox, I haven't wanted to give up this site, which is where it pretty much started. One of the things on my to-do list has been to upgrade and change the system that this runs to make it easier to post. But I haven't gotten around to it, but maybe I will do it soon. In some ways I'm amazed at the durability of blosxom in keeping things running with a simple Perl script. Ultimately it will probably migrate to Typo, since I love how it works and looks, but now Blosxom is fine.
Maybe I haven't been here since I don't have comments, so the feedback is infrequent. Maybe it's because the other places that I've been have a lower barrier to post. Or maybe I just needed a bit of a change. It's been an exciting year and while it doesn't look so here, it's the most that I've written, photographed, recorded and published online. It also doesn't look as though it will reduce a lot in the next while either.
So now I finally come back to bitdepth before my annual year-end posts to look back at the past year. Thanks for sticking around and I'll pop in here more over the next while.
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Why Rocks

Chris Campbell

There are many places to upload and share video now and it's very easy to view and create it too. But a while ago I found and liked it right away because of the people, the technology and how they do things. What was surprising to me was how everything that I wanted to do was in when I started using it. I could cross-post to a blog, I could cross-post to the Internet Archive, and I could set the licensing and add a Creative Commons license to video. They also transcode video to Flash to let you view it just about anywhere. It's made me shoot and upload more video, which I'm enjoying a lot.
Those are reasons to use to upload video, but what makes them rock is that they're a small and committed group of cool people who are doing this. You can have the best technology in the world, but without the people you've got a big, empty machine. I sent a note to them when I mentioned on commandN and 2 of the 5 founders emailed me back right away thanking me. The support from is amazing and fast with apparently a very small core group of people. I had a small problem when I was uploading some video and sent an email. Within an hour I had a response, and from the time that Jared (one of the cofounders) had started writing the email to me to when he sent it, the problem was fixed. Now that's remarkable service for something that is free.
So now I've been trying to make and share more things on my blog and it's a great tool that encourages you to create more. Thanks, you guys rock!
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Bad Metaphor #8 - Camping

Chris Campbell

Things don't always turn out the way that you plan which most of the time is a good thing. Hitting a home run every time would start to get boring after a while as Buck 65 says. The big Summer of adventures that John and I planned changed a lot, but we've had some fun. I wrote about our rainy day in Fundy and our abbreviated adventure on my Vox blog, but we also recording some audio that has made it into our eighth Bad Metaphor, which is about Camping. You can see the pictures from our camping and hiking in Fundy on Flickr and I may be uploading some video snippets from the still camera to my blog.
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commandN Episode #58

Chris Campbell

The 58th episode of the video podcast commandN is live and ready for download now. I've been helping tape the segments from Halifax and have made a few appearances as well. Since it's the Summer and I've been on vacation, it's been possible to spend a bit more time working on the segments and that means that we've gone to some interesting locations and continue to shoot in ways that are more fun. If you haven't looked at commandN yet, it may be a good time to check it out to get caught up with technology trends with a Mac flavour. In this episode Jeff and I did the webPICKS segment from Halifax where I talked about Dabble, which is a great way to find and share video. We shot it in the Hydrostone neighbourhood, which has some neat views of the city through the trees.
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