2014

Spinning Platters film critics present their top 10 films of 2014

Spinning Platters film critics Carrie Kahn and Chad Liffmann each share their ten favorite films of 2014.  Here is Chad’s list, presented in reverse order of greatness; you can also see Carrie’s list here.

10.) Snowpiercer
Chris Evans rises to the occassion.

Chris Evans rises to the occassion.

Snowpiercer, Bong Joon-ho’s masterful post-apocalyptic thriller, was forced to fly beneath the radar since it was released on the same day as the horrific yet unfortunately box office dominating Transformers: Age of Extinction.  Set in a human-created ice age in which the last survivors on the planet ride around on a crazy-long bullet train, Snowpiercer uses its science-fiction fantasy premise to punctuate some terrifying reflections on the socio-political tensions of modern day society.  Chris Evans turns in another solid action hero performance (duh, Captain America) and Tilda Swinton is wicked good as the cruel and quirky “voice”/messenger of the upper class.

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Noah Gunderson. (Photo by Bob McClenahan)

Noah Gunderson. (Photo by Bob McClenahan)

After full days Friday and Saturday, you might think I’d have been a little worn out by Day three of BottleRock Napa Valley. Not me: I was ready with bells on, and perched directly in front of the Sprint stage early in the day for Noah Gundersen to kick it all off. His set began with Noah on acoustic guitar, a woman playing the violin, and a drummer. The three sang wonderful harmony, and before long were joined by the electrics: initially a bass and a guitar, but there were some keys mixed in for good measure, too. To top it all off, Gundersen played a bit of the harmonica in places as well. “We’re really trying to kick your Sunday off with a bang,” he said, adding that there were “usually a lot more people in the drinking section.” I noted that this was the first band whose entire discography I wanted to download as soon as I got home. (I haven’t yet, but still intend to.) I don’t know how else to describe their sound but “electric folk,” which is to say that it was like nothing I’d ever heard, and I loved it. [read the whole post]

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Local reggae band Pion 2 Zion jams just inside the gate.

Local reggae band Pion 2 Zion jams just inside the gate.

Day 2 of BottleRock Napa Valley 2014 got off on the right foot for me with Napa Point Brewing‘s BottleRock IPA and a special, very acoustic treat: local reggae band Pion 2 Zion were playing with absolutely no electricity (unless you count a battery-powered megaphone that died partway through). I’ve known members of this band for years: I was first introduced to them by their former drummer, a then-coworker of mine. In the years since, there have been a few lineup changes, but the current drummer, Gary Paddock, is another former coworker of mine. Moreover, I’ve known the current lead vocalist and saxophonist, Chad Schuler, since elementary school. It’s a small town, it’s bound to happen, right? Anyway, as I said yesterday, I’m admittedly not big into reggae, but these guys have always been an exception. They’re a really great band, they have local fans who truly love them, and I’ve never seen someone not enjoy hearing the band play live. [read the whole post]

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This massive Sterling wine barrel adorned with speakers serves as an iconic BottleRock logo.  (Photo by Kara E. Murphy)

This massive Sterling wine barrel adorned with speakers serves as an iconic BottleRock logo. (Photo by Kara E. Murphy)

Ahhh, BottleRock. Last year, it was surreal that my tiny hometown had put together such a terrific festival. And then the bottom fell out. While I won’t go into the specifics of why most of the year was a matter of “will they or won’t they?”, I will say that there were more than a few skeptics about the likelihood of a BottleRock 2014. I never lost hope, and was thrilled when it was finally announced that our festival hadn’t died after its first year. This year’s lineup boasted headliners Eric Church, Outkast, and The Cure! Other acts included Heart, Weezer, The Fray, Smashmouth, Third Eye Blind, Matisyahu, Sublime with Rome, and many, many more. On top of that, what (I think) makes this festival cooler than any other is that it’s situated right smack in the middle of Napa’s lovely climate, and offers an overwhelming array of options from our local food and wine lover’s paradise. [read the whole post]

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Photo Credit: Paige K. Parsons

Photo Credit: Paige K. Parsons

I should start this post off right away by admitting a few things: first of all, if you’ve seen any of my previous work on this site, you’ll already know, but I’m by far the most “mainstream” music listening on the Spinning Platters staff. Many of the bands my cohorts write about are those I’ve never heard of, while I’m running around checking out John Mayer, Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, and Pink. Also, and perhaps more importantly, I’m a huge novice when it comes to music festivals. I’ve been to a good handful of the one-day sort of radio station assembled festivals, and several consecutive years of Warped Tour. But bigger, multi-day festivals? I’ve only been to one so far: BottleRock Napa Valley 2013.

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