The 2000s: Hindsight is 10/10 (My Number 3s)

# 3 Album: “Bavarian Fruit Bread” by Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions (2001)

Why is it good?
In the 1990s, Hope Sandoval fronted a group called Mazzy Star that was responsible for the most enduring mopey love song of the decade: "Fade Into You", as well as a host of other pretty folsky-psychedelic numbers like "Give You My Lovin'", "Flowers in December", and "Blue Flower". However, none of their albums were outstanding; I doubt if any of them can even crack my top 20 favorite albums of the 90s (man, I wish I was doing that list instead of this one; just off the top of my head: "Blind" by The Sundays..."Urban Hymns" by The Verve..."Olympian" by Gene..."Our Time In Eden" by 10,000 Maniacs..."Dirty" by Sonic Youth..."Life Goes On" by The BMX Bandits..."Loveless" by My Bloody Valentine..."Unisex" by Blueboy..."Songs From Northern Britain" by Teenage Fanclub...I'll stop now before I have a seizure).

In the 2000s, Ms. Sandoval finally became part of a consistently good album: "Bavarian Fruit Bread". Without Mazzy Star guitarist David Roback infusing his too-ornery-for-his-own-good Velvet Underground-ish instrumentations, Hope's vocals shine beautifully. Instead of weird guitar noises, we are entreated to violins and echo-y acoustic guitars. The result, vis-a-vis the reason why this album is rated surprisingly high on my list: music that can cause an actual orgasm. That's obviously hyperbole, but I won't be surpised if that actually happened to someone.

You see, we Mazzy Star fans have always been aware of how beautiful Hope's voice is. But when she went solo all hell broke lose; or in this case all heaven broke lose and the Angels went apeshit. Hearing Hope Sandoval in "Bavarian Fruit Bread" is akin to seeing a formerly bald, grungy, and heavily-tattoed attractive girl suddenly go clean and grow long hair. You would go insane. You'd be saying curse words out loud. You'd be overrating her to your friends even if numbers 6 through 4 on your list are probably hotter; their only fault is that they've always been obviously hot. Is that a questionable decision? Yes. Is it totally defensible? Abso-fucking-lutely!

What memories (real or fake) does it inspire?
I was planning on getting cute with an answer to this question (mostly because I'm slightly tired of answering it) but ultimately decided against it. I have no actual or constructed memories attached to this album. This isn't necessarily a bad thing: "Bavarian Fruit Bread" is the only purely musical album on this list. I can't reference it to actual experiences but listening to it was an experience in and of itself. And a potentially orgasmic one at that.

# 3 Movie: “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004)

Why is it good?
Are you fucking kidding me? (I just mocked my own question; clearly I'm going through list-fatigue now that we're days away from 2010)

Here's a more relevant question: "How awesome did cinema get in the 2000s that your number 3 is 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' - the best movie Charlie Kaufman ever wrote (which is like saying "The best album the Beatles ever made") and the only movie this decade to combine two of the greatest cinematic trends of the last 10 years: pop-surrealism and weary-romanticism?"

The answer: "pretty fucking amazing". Just wait til we get to numbers 2 and 1.

But while we're on this item, let me roll off a couple of more "bests" in my mind: the best overall performance by Jim Carrey and the most engaging performace by Kate Winslet, hands-down. This is not hyperbole; this is truly the most enjoyable performance I've ever seen from Kate Winslet and she didn't even have to take her clothes off for one minute. I'll go one further: this is the most effective performance by a romantic comedy female lead ever. This was like watching Zooey Deschanel in "(500) Days of Summer", only the complete opposite (sorry, but taking unprovoked potshots at that movie is my new favorite hobby). You felt Jim Carrey's pain. You hated to see each memory of Kate Winslet go. You understood why this girl Clementine drove him nuts the way she did. She was totally and naturally addictive. The entire premise of the movie falls apart if she weren't even half that (you know, like..."(500) Days of Summer").

This movie was like a complex multi-layered cake that had lots of flavors exploding in your mouth as you were eating it. It had a quirky storytelling technique. It had a heartbreaking major storyline and a heartbreaking sub-storyline. It had a beautifully fragile piano score that just fit the mood and the look of the film perfectly. It had the right mixture of humor and seriousness. It constructed a fake reality to demonstrate a bittersweet truth: that our memories of the best of times wouldn't exist without our memories of the worst of times.

Allow me one last superlative. One of my favorite scenes of ALL-TIME:

Joel (Jim Carrey) is sitting on the beach with (literally) his memory of Clementine. Despite his best efforts, his memories of her were now being erased from his brain one by one. He's down to his last memory of her: the day they met. Memory-Clementine reminds him of this. "This is it Joel," she says. "It's going to be gone soon. What do we do?" Joel pauses to soak up the moment, however impossible, then finally says, "Enjoy it."

That fucking slayed me. The beauty and tragedy of every fleeting moment in life summed up in one scene. Now that, my friends, is GREAT CINEMA.

What memories (real or fake) does it inspire?
I recognize the irony of this question. However, I saw this movie with a girl who I consider to be both memorable and unmemorable, if that makes any sense. So the reality didn't really live up to the built-in irony, I'm sorry to say.

It would be fascinating though if I could go through the same cat and mouse game in the movie, this time involving my six Clementines of the decade. That would be something. In fact, I think these lists are just my veiled attempts at going through each memory, Lacuna-style. But we're getting too ahead of ourselves.

What does this list say so far?
My musical number 3 warranted a defense, albeit a flimsy one, whereas my cinematic number 3 hinted at a life-altering number 2 and an uber-life-altering number 1. I'll go out on a limb and reveal this not-so-spoiler: music in this decade was underwhelming; movies this decade were ALL-TIME level good.

album cover from; movie poster from




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