December 4th, 2013 / 2:33 pm

My Top Five Films of 2013


Center Rest

(Dir. Antonio Johns)

I saw this on a train. I was traveling from Seattle to Portland by train, and the person sitting next to me asked me if I wanted to watch a movie with him.

It’s nice, I think, that Americans on trains are still willing to ask strangers if they’d like to watch a movie with them. It makes me feel good about the country. It gives me hope. Like, real hope, though. Voting for a guy may have given me a kind of hope, but it was a hope I was fairly certain was mostly just a mask of hope. A surface kind of hope. A hope that I was participating in with a group of people. We were all putting on the hope. That’s a kind of hope, sure, but maybe not the best kind of hope.

This, instead, is a hope from inside me. A hope I nurtured in my barren, dry soul.

Anyway, the movie was pretty good. I felt like Ryan Gosling delivered an above-average performance as the owner of a pawn shop. I liked the girl who was in it, too. What’s her name again? The one with the shorter hair?

Imagine, though. The guy sitting next to me just wanted to watch a movie with a stranger. What a nice way to connect with someone you don’t know.


Antwerp, 1968

(Dir. Kiki Belard)

I was on my way into one theater in one of those enormous theater complexes with multiple floors and multiple screens when I dropped a quarter. It rolled into the theater opposite the one I was going in. It’s always nice to have quarters, so I followed my quarter into the wrong theater. This was the movie that was playing, and it had just started. I couldn’t find my quarter because it was dark so I decided to sit through the movie and look for the quarter when the house lights came back up.

I don’t really know why I feel like it’s always nice to have quarters. We have a washer, so I don’t need the quarters for laundry. I have a bus pass, so I don’t need quarters for my commute. I have a cell phone, so I don’t need quarters to make a call. I drink coffee instead of sodas from a soda machine.

I think maybe the reason I want to have a quarter or two on me is that I’m never sure when I might be at a hotel with a game room and a 720° machine. I used to be pretty good at that one. I think if I were to find myself in a hotel game room with a 720° and a couple of quarters, I might be able to pick it up again. I might be good at it still.

Remember that one? With the skateboards and the bees and the weird joystick? On the 720° Wikipedia page, someone has attempted to describe the joystick like this: “The main control is also unique. This joystick moves in a circular fashion, instead of in compass directions like standard joysticks.” I checked the Wikipedia Talk page, hoping that someone had started an argument over the way the 720° joystick works, but no one has. Not yet. I feel like someone should start an argument.

The ending was pretty good. I thought it was nice when they found their dog and he was unharmed.


We Met at the Sonic

(Dir. William Pinter)

I like to walk home from work. A couple of months ago, I was walking home and I crossed through an alley. In the alley, three people were sitting on a couch. They were projecting a movie against the wall of the alley. They said I could watch, too.

Usually I listen to my iPod when I walk home. I like podcasts and audiobooks. I don’t really listen to music that much. Not this year, anyway.

But my iPod battery had died, so when they asked me if I wanted to watch the movie with them, I heard them and said yes. If the battery hadn’t died, I probably wouldn’t have heard them, and I’d have passed them by and not seen this movie which is now on my Top Five Films of 2013 list.

It’s nice when something like that happens, isn’t it?

About three quarters of the way through this movie, there’s a really harrowing scene involving river rafting.

I was supposed to make dinner that night, and I still feel bad for failing to make dinner. But the movie was worth it.


Filtered Water

(Dir. ?)

This was just in my mailbox. A CD: No sleeve, no writing on it. I’m not really sure why I decided to put it in my laptop and see what was on it.

Actually, that’s not true. I know exactly why I decided to put it in my laptop and see what was on it. I was trying to avoid writing. I think I’m a pretty good writer. I know I am an excellent not-writer. Just excellent. It’s remarkable, the things I’ll do to avoid writing. I should livestream it—me sitting down to write and not-writing and twisting myself in all sorts of ways to not-write. You’d love it.


The movie didn’t have opening or closing credits. The words “Filtered Water” appeared and dissolved and then stuff happened for an hour and a half. Then it stopped.

I’m pretty sure Marcus (“Marky”) Kelly is in this, though. I’ve always been fascinated by Marcus Kelly’s story: the early ’60s teen idol film and TV work, the bland but kind of charming pop songs (Adrianne Coleman wrote “Standing in the Snow” and her psychedelic solo stuff from ’69 – ’72 is amazing), the huge controversy that happened when he tried to mature and released the seemingly pro-suicide ballad, “I’m Just A Little Lonelier Than You.” I’ll try to write a longer post about Kelly before the end of the year.

There’s an actor in this who I swear is Kelly. He has a face like a never-oiled baseball glove. But his eyes are Kelly’s eyes.

I don’t know who left this movie in my mailbox, but I’d like to publicly thank you.

Thank you.



(Dir. Dot Lemon)

The less said about this, the better, I think. If this is playing in your town, go see it. Don’t rent it or VOD it unless you have an insanely large TV. You’ll lose so much not feeling intimidated by the shifts in scale.

You might consider bringing in something to listen to during the movie. Find something more useful to do with your ears other than listen to the music or the dialogue, because the movie’s music and dialogue are just terrible.

Looks great, though. Looks just great.



  1. Bobby Dixon

      Filtered Water was probably credited to Alan Smithee. I do not really want to talk about why this is so.

  2. giddypony

      THese are someof the greatest reviews I have ever read.

  3. A D Jameson

      I wish people invited me to watch movies in alleys and on trains.

  4. A D Jameson

      You should turn this post into a book, Matthew. “My Favorite Films Through the Years.”

  5. Caketrain

      Wish we could see all of these.

  6. I like Marcus Kelly a lot | HTMLGIANT

      […] In my last post, I mentioned that I wanted to write a little bit about the actor and singer Marcus “Marky” Kelly, who had minor-but I think significant-career in show business from the late 1950s through the 1960s. The highlight of it all was, of course, his teen idolhood in the early 1960s. I had assumed Kelly was gone for good, and quite possibly dead, until I discovered a movie called Filtered Water (director unknown, writer unknown, producer unknown, actors unknown) in my mailbox a few months ago. The movie featured an old actor who I think might be Kelly. […]

  7. Unearthed Arcana | Matthew Simmons

      […] My Top Five Films of 2013 […]