reviews

2016 Movie Reviews: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

20.Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Watched on August 21, 2016

Buy it on iTunes in HD with Special Features 

The primary reason John Oliver's "Last Week Tonight" is so successful is because his team does wonderful video production and it translates perfectly to YouTube and social media. The second reason they're successful however is because they have discovered a way to give us news, of terrible, tragic or alarming events and issues, while making us laugh the entire time. They don't trivialize or sugarcoat the facts they're imparting, we're all smarter when we finish watching them. And yet we're also left positively uplifted and entertained. Motivated to make change perhaps, but not angry or depressed.

Tina Fey and the team behind Whiskey Tango Foxtrot were able to take the War on Terror (or at least a certain sliver of it) and do much the same thing.

This real-life tale is harrowing and heartwarming and heartbreaking, all in equal measure. But it's also laugh out loud funny. That is supposedly true about the book from the real life Kim Baker that this film is based on as well. It's absolutely on my list, and if you're reader, feel free to add it to yours as well. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/whiskey-tango-foxtrot-taliban/id1076152807?mt=11&uo=4&at=1000lqR

An amazing cast makes this one of the rare instances where I don't mind at all finding the movie before the book, and if you're not an avid reader may be a case where you're not missing much at all by sticking with just the film.

This movie gave me a glimpse into the lives and issues facing those in and around the war in Afghanistan, while entertaining me too. I really couldn't have asked more from a two hour film.

2016 Movie Reviews: Batman v Superman: Ultimate Edition

19. Batman v Superman (Ultimate Edition)

Watched August 10, 2016

Buy it in HD on iTunes with Special Features 

I remember going to see the 1989 Batman film like it was yesterday. Michael Keaton and Tim Burton changed my life that day. I had always (and still do) lean toward the Marvel side of the comics aisle, but this film opened my eyes to the amazing potential of Bruce Wayne and the world he inhabits.

I've basically dreamed of a Batman and Superman movie since then. It never made sense to me why they couldn't make it work since for all of modern history, the rights to both characters have been firmly under the Warner Brothers banner. The Avengers wasn't something I actually had daydreams about seeing on screen because I didn't think it would ever happen. This team up though was genuinely possible.

When I saw the first trailer for Snyder's film, I was anticipating disappointment. I had hated Man of Steel (or at least that's what it had settled into in my memory), and basically everything that had leaked as rumor from the set or script made me think they were even further off the rails than I thought MOS was. But then I saw Batman in that metal suit.

Zach Snyder has always been able to craft an amazing image, it is his calling card as a director, but his propensity for shortchanging character development in favor of those "hero shots" leaves this historical film cold and sad. No movie that features Batman, Superman AND THE FIRST MODERN CINEMATIC TAKE ON WONDER WOMAN should leave you cold and sad. But boy howdy this one does.

Luthor is an insane person, not the megalomaniacal super-genius he would need to be to have out planned Bruce Wayne and outgunned Superman. Doomsday was completely unnecessary, unless you're a lazy writer who can't think of anyway to unite your heroes other than immediately making them face a mindless rage monster.

Even then, the few moments of direct page-to-screen adaptation might make this a film I at least am glad to have seen, but those were even ruined by the conclusion of the titular fight being based on a coincidence which apparently caught Snyder's attention in his cursory glance at the source material. Ugh.

I'd waited to see this one on video once I could get the "ultimate edition" knowing that Snyder had gotten to put back in some extra character moments and the plot was supposedly much more coherent in the longer take. If so, then the theatrical must have seemed like some sort of Absurdist art film, this movie takes three hours to go nowhere with people you don't like and do things that are only barely worth watching, let alone discussing afterward. Please, please be better, Justice League.

2016 Movie Reviews: Man of Steel

Buy it now in HD with special features on iTunes. 

18. Man of Steel    

Watched on July 22nd, 2016

I was so disappointed by this movie when it launched that I didn't bother watching Batman v Superman in the theatre, or even when it first launched on digital video. Once the "ultimate edition" finally came out I thought I should revisit this one to give the story the most fair chance of hitting home.

It's weird the things that stick out on a second viewing (or in this case third total). This time I noticed Clark saving a lot more people than I ever gave him credit for in my initial viewing. I enjoyed the initial parts of Zod's performance and especially enjoyed the human characters roles in helping Clark along the course of the film (Lois on the ship with Jor-El, the Colonel and Richard Schiff in destroying the World Engine. There's still almost an hour too much of pure punching at the end, and I'm still bothered by introducing a Superman who kills in his first public outing. But the themes and the visuals of this film are hard to argue with. Several good performances (including Cavill’s who I overlooked originally) buoy a script that’s a little leaden in the dialogue department and Kevin Costner infuriates in the ways that his character deviates from traditional “Pa Kent” but also thrills in the quality of his performance and the genuineness of his parental directions for Clark.

It’s a frustrating movie, that I can’t wait to see Warner Bros. continue to try to redeem. As I said, I have not seen Batman v Superman yet (it’s next!) but I HAVE seen the trailers for Justice League, and I AM IN for more of this universe, ham-handed stumbling first entries and all.

 

 


 

2016 Movie Reviews: The Big Lebowski

Buy it in HD with Special Features in iTunes now.

17. The Big Lebowski

Watched on July 19, 2016

There are some movies that are just perfect. This is one of them. I understand how and why it’s not really for everyone. It’s weird. Out of chronological order at times, full of dream and drug-induced sequences and long lingering musical interludes.

It’s a tone poem from the Coens as much as a straightforward narrative. A meditation on a time and a place. “The Dude” is based on a real figure, both infuriating and entertaining as his fictional counterpart. Jeff Bridges gives his most endearing performance here, the ultimate lovable loser.

There is so little of this movie that I wouldn't claim as one of my favorite parts, I hesitate to begin to list any specifics but i'll call out a couple of things that stood out to me on this viewing.

Julianne Moore is amazing as Maude, she's sexy and bizarre and a little scary all at the same time. John Goodman is every obnoxious friend that you wouldn't trade for anything. And I bet we've all had one of those.

The set designs were something that I took special note of this time and found them to be as note perfect as any other part of the film.

I did end up trying to watch a piece of the film while my daughter's played in the living room and I was struck for the first time with just HOW MUCH vulgarity and profanity there is in this beautiful little movie. It's filthy. That realization made the Stranger's question to the Dude, "do you have to use so many dang cuss words?" all the funnier.

I've yet to dig into all the extras on this one, but there are some good ones, especially considering that the Coens still don't do directors commentaries.

 

2016 Movie Reviews: The Matrix Reloaded

Buy it in HD with Special Features in iTunes now.

16. The Matrix Reloaded

Watched July 4th, 2016

How do you follow up a movie that completely changed its genre? It's probably an impossibly high bar for anyone to hurdle, but for the relatively young filmmaking duo of the Wachowskis, who fresh off their unexpected success, were largely given carte blanche, it was evidently too high.

This movie is however more reviled than it deserves. There are many unbelievable sequences and concepts that still hold up years later, in the light of the better spiritual successors and the even worse threequel. But there's more bad than good, less structure or polish than its predecessor and overall little to redeem this reload.

2016 Movie Reviews: Commando

14. Commando

Watched June 20, 2016

I am, in so many ways, a child of the 80s. To me, this is the quintessential action movie of the 80s. It boiled the whole thing down to its essential core, then spiced everything up to level 11.

Die Hard, Predator, Terminator and Commando.  They didn't make comic book superhero movies very often when I was a kid, they made action hero movies. They had super powers, just no secret origins.

Kelly asked me how I square my anti-gun stance with my love of these violent action movies. For me, these are the logical conclusion of the gun-loving culture I was raised in, the complete "good-guy-with-a-gun" story in it's most pure form. They're wish fulfillment more than anything approaching reality. As a guy who doesn't love that gun-culture, these movies allow me to play tourist in a headspace and idealogy that I can't fully comprehend, even though I'm surrounded by it.

Dan Hedaya is his most slimy in this role, making a wonderful bad guy even though he's the opposite of a physical threat for Schwarzenegger. The homo-erotically charged final fight between Arnold and Vernon Wells as Bennett is the real showstopper though. It's the perfect 80s action movie and I'm so glad I can revisit it all the time now.

Buy it in HD with Special features in iTunes now.

2016 Movie Reviews: Gremlins

11. Gremlins

Watched May 24th, 2016.

Learning how to be scared, how to ride the rollercoaster of adrenaline and fight or flight in a controlled environment, one where you’re fairly certain there’s no real danger to your body or soul, is essential to the growth process. It’s one of the milestones like the training wheels coming off, the first day of school, the Learner’s Permit etc.

I know there are modern day equivalents of my own amazing “training-wheel” horror childhood, but I’m more protective in that way of my own children than my parents were and I don’t seek it out myself, so I’m not so familiar.

But my childhood had the best onramp for scares imaginable. Everything from scary adventure stories like Temple of Doom and The Goonies, to childish horror movies like this one, Critters and The Lost Boys, to real horror films with the themes of childhood and adolescence at their center (Child’s Play, Nightmare on Elm Street). It was a great time to be terrified.

The onramp for my boys has been pretty slow and safe. We watched Jurassic Park about a year and a half ago, and it was maybe too early. Son #1 loved it, but had no interest in watching any of the rest of the series anytime soon. Looking through our movie library, we crossed Gremlins the other night and he wanted to know the deal. We watched the trailer, I told him it would walk a similar line to JP, scary in moments, but overall about adventure and fun stuff. He was sold, 100%.

How does the movie hold up? The eyes of an 8 year old are a pretty good test, in my mind. He loved it, every moment. The very first transformation in the teacher’s classroom, which ends in a needle to the butt, almost made him ask me to stop the movie. He held on though, and eventually was laughing and cheering as Gizmo and crew rounded up the last of the Gremlins and saved the day. He’s already excited about watching this one again at Christmastime (it’s proper place in the calendar) and he can’t wait to watch Gremlins 2.

***BUT**** There is that terribly weird scene in the middle of the movie, where Kate is telling Billy exactly why she “hates” Christmas so much (a notion that’s been hinted at several times already) it’s a gruesome little story, which has exactly zero bearing on the rest of the film, other than to explain the absence of Kate’s Dad and the aforementioned Christmas hatred. It also spoils the big fat Christmas guest stuff, and for my kid at least, that whole scene just got skipped. I strongly suggest you do the same.

It’s absolutely normal to be scared of the dark. It’s important to start at an early age moving that fear into the “imaginary” box, experiences like Gremlins helped me do it, and I think they’re helping my sons 30 years later.

Buy it in HD on iTunes with special features included!

2016 Movie Reviews: The Man From Snowy River

6.The Man From Snowy River

Watched on 4/29/16

There are a handful of movies that just say "childhood" to me. These movies don't necessarily have anything to do with childhood thematically, they just happen to be the movies that I watched ad nauseum IN my childhood.

Disney's Robin Hood and The Jungle Book, The Muppets Take Manhattan, Spaceballs and Weird Science, strangely Die Hard and then The Man From Snowy River. I don't know how my folks stumbled on this one, what friend suggested it, or if it was just serendipity that we found this one as a family, but it was one of the movies that we all (Mom, Dad, the siblings and me) loved equally.

First and foremost it's a romance, the story of a boy from nowhere that falls in love with a girl who has everything and all the reasons they shouldn't get together. But it's also a love story between these mountain men and their land, and the struggle with those who want to change everything.

It's also a damn fine adventure, with more exciting horse riding than any movie of its time had a right to have. I've recently heard that the lead actor was a novice rider before he took the role, but I'd never imagined him as anything other than the greatest Australian cowboy of all time.

It didn't all land for my boys like it did and does for me, but that solo slow motion ride down the cliffside absolutely blew their minds too. I'll save the Return to Snowy River for a few years down the road, but I'm ecstatic that this one is now just an iTunes stream away from me forever.

Buy it in HD on iTunes now!

2016 Movie Reviews: X-Men

10. X-Men

Watched May 22, 2016

The first fifteen minutes play just as well today as they did in 2000. It's not until Paquin joins Logan in the truck and they're sideswiped by that terrible Sabertooth that the seams show at all. The first chapter is just note perfect for an X-Men movie.

What doesn't hold up, are the things that didn't play so well when it first came out. Storm, almost entirely is a miss. Especially the wig and accent.

The action is mostly pretty bad. Relying on a ton of bad wire-fu and sloppy CGI. Magneto is amazing until his plan is revealed and then he seems like a cooky old man.

The tease of Wolverine's next adventure is good, and the general team dynamics work even in this first outing. Anytime McKellen and Stewart share screentime it's magical. The modern superhero films owe this one a lot, but I'm also very glad we have outgrown this period.

Buy X-Men in HD on iTunes now with special features included!

2016 Movie Reviews: Deadpool

8.Deadpool

Watched 5/12/16

What can you say about a movie that is so perfectly itself? The behind the scenes saga that finally brought us this movie is worthy of a film

in its own right. Ryan Reynolds was born to play this role, the fact that he finally got to do so in a true to the source adaptation is one of those times Hollywood really gets it right in spite of itself.

I'm not a huge fan of the character, never following the books regularly and only reading a handful completely. And I imagined that would be true of the film too. I support and celebrate anything that breaks the conventions and plays with the tropes we've come to expect in these films. Deadpool does all of that and more.

Probably don't show this one to Grandma or your kids (and depending upon her sense of humor, maybe your wife) and if any of that or the things you've heard so far have you worried, then I'd suggest letting this one pass you by. But if you love comics or comic book movies, and a little toilet humor never bothered you, then get yourself a copy of Deadpool and a sack full of chimichongas.

Buy Deadpool in HD on iTunes now with Special features included!

2016 Movie Reviews: The Godfather Epic

9.The Godfather Epic

Watched May 21st, 2016

When Michael tells his father "I'll take care of everything. I'm with you now" while Vito is helpless and unconscious in his hospital bed has always been the moment I thought Michael made the decision. But in this rewatch, I realize I'm wrong. Michael knows what he's going to do (even to murder and evading the law) when he spends the evening with Kay before and tells her to go back to her parents.

He's seen Sonny's operation and leadership up close. And he suspects already that he'll have to take on his father's role eventually. Watching with this understanding makes the whole rest of the movie a little more tragic, especially the end of Part 2, with Michael alone in the fall.

Michael understands that Sonny will never last as Don. So now, or later, he'll be called upon to save the family and his father's legacy. And he chooses the hard path. The path that loses him Kay (although he thinks later there's room for her too). What a sad and strong choice! What a perfect and multi-faceted performance from Pacino! How amazing is it that we get to revisit this movie over and over again, and even in new ways like this Godfather epic from HBO. This version has existed in other forms and mediums before but I've never before seen it in its entirety. And perhaps no one (before now) has seen this precise mix of chronological scenes with deleted scenes.

For some reason this edit makes certain makes stick out. Watching Michael learn or Fredo's betrayal, for instance, hits particularly hard in this version.

It's really something. Not the way to see the movie for the first time by any means, but definitely something amazing for the true Godfather lover. Kudos to HBO for paying for it.

2016 Movie Reviews: Captain America - Civil War

7. Captain America: Civil War

Watched 5/6/2016

When Robert Downey Jr and John Favreau launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe 8 years ago, I thought I couldn't be any happier. RDJ was perfect, the movie was a cohesive story, while hinting at a larger world and an interesting history. For the first time, the comic books themselves were taken seriously. Not translated seriously, but just considered, as art themselves. Why not just do that with moving pictures?

Now, with 13 of these connected films in my memory banks, alongside three seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., two of Daredevil and one of Jessica Jones, the MCU is sprawling. It's also remained true to the promise that Iron Man first made 8 years ago. We won't always get it perfect, but we'll never fail because we didn't try to do it right.

As I've now watched the latest installment, I can confirm they're still doing it right. It may not be for you in particular, increasingly these movies require an ongoing commitment and at least the barest of refreshers before you head in to the next one to get the full enjoyment out of them. But for an astoundingly large number of people, it is just right apparently.

Particularly now that Batman vs. Superman is finally a released film instead of the impending spectre on Hollywood it has been seemingly forever, the feat that Kevin Feige and crew have and continue to accomplish becomes even more impressive. Having great characters is no sure thing, ask Fox and the crew behind the Fantastic Four franchise. Having the right actor is no sure thing, Hugh Jackman is great as Wolverine, but even he couldn't help his first solo movie. Even having a connected universe is no sure thing, ask Marvel's Most Wanted, now twice passed on as a Pilot for ABC. But Feige and the MCU have weathered angsty actors and demanding directors and less than sparkling writing. They've withstood the rumor mill and rotten tomatoes. And time after time, twice a year (and now sometimes more) they collect all our money and turn us all into 10 year olds playing hookie with a minor cold and blazing through a stack of cheap comics that mom bought us at the drugstore.

They've turned your mom and your girlfriend and your guidance counselor and his lawn guy all into comic book fans, not just capable of keeping up with continuity, but excited about discussing the potential of the next movie and the ramifications of the last one.

The ascendency of geek culture has been crowed by bloggers and journalists for a decade or more, but this to me is the true testament that what was geek is now fully "normal", the latest MCU film, Captain America: Civil War is both the culmination of storylines planted in 2008 in Iron Man and all between here and there, but also the evolution of the superhero movie into its next form. This is the Movie Superhero Renaissance. What the Russo brothers have done in this movie cannot fairly be considered a standard film. It is episodic storytelling in a fashion closer to television, but played out with the virtually unlimited palette and toolbox that the big screen economics allow for. Disney has here established the basic form that will determine its Hollywood fortunes for the next two decades or more, and has in the process created what every other studio will inevitably and doggedly try to replicate:

Captain America: Civil War is an exponential theatrical experience. If you enjoy it, you will enjoy every piece of ancillary connected material a little more because of it. Likewise, if you've liked any ancillary connected material, you'l like something in this movie, the more past MCU stuff you've seen and enjoyed before, the more you'll like this one. And it's not additive, it's exponential.

Preorder CA: Civil War now in HD on iTunes including special features!

***SPOILERS COMING******

 

 

 

 

 

Sure, you're okay?

 

 

Alright, here goes>>>>

 

When Steve is pleading with Tony in the Siberian bunker at the film's climax that Bucky was brainwashed, and that taking revenge on him won't bring back Tony's parents and RDJ's lip trembles and he says, "He killed my mom." and attacks, that is one of the most powerful moments I've ever seen on screen period. It only works, it only feels so heavy in the midst of what is a truly lighthearted film for the subject matter and source material, is because we don't want these two friends to fight. We know these men, we've lived with them for 8 years and through a dozen adventures. We know where they came from and why they believe what they believe. Marvel (and Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans, and Sebastian Stan) have earned it. They've done the heavy lifting and that enables both moments of sheer joy like Spider-man's introduction and moments of real pain like this one in the bunker.

Cap is right, Bucky isn't responsible for what he did as the Winter Soldier, not directly. Tony would've forever regretted killing him, but I also understood and empathized with Tony's rage and violence. What would I do if given the chance to confront my parents killer directly? What would I do if a good friend had hidden the identity of that killer from me?

And it's not just thought exercises, as a fan and viewer, we care about the characters as if they were real. For us, these stories DO have stakes. And now, because of the brilliance of Marvel and Disney, there are more of "us" than ever before.

2016 Movie Reviews: Weird Science

5. Weird Science

Watched 4/27/16

First of all, if you're an Apple device user, especially iPad and Apple TV, you really should check out the iTunes movie store once a week or so. They're run great specials with common themes or actors, etc and discount the movies deeply from time to time. For instance, about a month ago, I found Weird Science in HD for $4.99 for one weekend in iTunes.

Weird Science exists, for me, in an emotional place that has little to do with the quality of the movie itself. There are a handful of films that I was first exposed to on HBO at my grandparents house on weekends when I'd sleep over and stay up late after they'd gone to bed. These movies were mostly over my head at the time, but they were funny, they were subversive in some way and in many cases, they were full of sex appeal.

It's no coincidence, I think that two of those movies featured Kelly Le Brock. In Weird Science, she dominated and educated two pimply teenagers, but in The Woman in Red she upended a grown Gene Wilder's life just as easily, and without the 80's computer magic.

Weird Science is notable these days for the incredibly young Robert Downey Jr playing the smirking sleazy antagonist. For me, this whole film is worth the price of admission (or the price of the iTunes purchase) just for the scene when Lisa takes the boys to the club and Gary tells his story of sadness through the lens of a cheap bottle of booze. "I was crazy insane for the woman!"

The film doesn't exactly hold up overall, but for the nostalgia and the sheer wonder that is Ms. Le Brock, this one deserves a spot on all our digital shelves.

Buy it now in HD on iTunes!

Walking Dead Season 6

(Spoiler Alert)

While the season as a whole was one of the strongest in the entire run, three separate times the writers and producers chose to take a cheap out and tease a major death without actually paying off.

One of these, I could've stood. Two even, I would have understood. But three insults the intelligence and the patience of the audience.

It's not about blood lust. I don't want any of these characters to die. It's about honest storytelling. The Walking Dead has earned its perch atop the pop culture mountain specifically because they've made the crazy hard calls that most television series just won't. The same sorts of shocking moments that made the comic such a hit to begin with.

Think about the characters that we've lost (and the shocking ways we've lost some of them) in the seasons that came before this one. And of course we lost people this season. There were real shocking moments (maybe none so much as Denise's death by arrow) but we also had Glenn "torn apart" under the dumpster only to find a few weeks later that it wasn't him that had lost his guts, but the convenient other body that fell on top of him, nevermind what it looked like.

We also got the cheap blood spatter on the camera last week implying that Darryl was dead at the hands of Dwight. But we all expected that to be a tease for this week, as you couldn't rightly kill the Bowman last week AND have his head on the line under Lucille THIS week. Ugh.

Glenn's dodge I was okay with. Mostly because I really thought it was a faint to make people think he'd be safe from Lucille and then pay off the moment that so disturbingly graced the comics. I was upset about the way they played out the Darryl thing last week, but I could forgive it. This is the big season finale, the reveal of Negan, they wanted all eyes on the this one.

So, going into tonight we were square, the producers and I. I was fully prepared to get all tense and upset, and then to mourn the loss of one of imaginary friends at the hands of Negan and his barbed bat. But then...

We didn't get a corpse. We got a death! But no body, no face, no reactions from the rest of the group. It's not Carl (because Negan threatened the rest that he'd tear out the kid's other eye) or Rick (Negan said they'd feed the eye to him), but other than that, it could be any of the group. In interviews, the cast has made it clear that they don't know who was on the receiving end of that bat. I imagine that the producers don't either. And that's a cop out to me. Yes. Any choice would've angered some fans. But they will eventually have to decide who they've killed. This way, instead of a summer of debate and slowly dying backlash, we'll have a summer of unrest in the fanbase and likely group testing the decision. Ugh.

It's not like I won't be back in the fall to find out who's died, but regardless, I'm angry, and left with a disappointed taste in my mouth.

Rick and Morty Season 1

Finished on February 25th, 2016

This is a show that I knew was on the air but thought it was something for kids. You get enough recommendations from friends and you decide it's time to finally take the dive.

The series is bizarre, no doubt. The basic premise is this: Rick, a drunken super-genius, is aided in his inter-dimensional quests by his hapless grandson, Morty.

The characters and their relationship are a pretty bare riff on Doc and Marty from Back to the Future. But they just use that as a jumping off point for an insane ride through pretty much every pop culture reference possible.

They do such a good job of slowly easing you into the insanity, waiting until the next to last episode to fully introduce the concept of the multiple Morty's and Rick's.

But what makes the show really worthwhile (especially in the context of my reviewing long form television alongside movies) is the ongoing study of the family dynamic. This show is really about relating with people. Forming and maintaining personal bonds, even though your own personal issues make that difficult or unpleasant. In that way, this is very much a sister project to Community.

I love the Dan Harmon impersonation that Justin Roiland provides as his Rick character. As a long time fan of Harmon's work (that finds Harmon himself often problematic and irritating) this is very rewarding. Morty's evolution over the first season is much better drawn than you might imagine for a show so full of poop jokes. But such is the dichotomy of R&M.

I hope there's a bit more serialized storytelling in season two, but the bits they do include so far are fine on their own.

4 stars.

2016 Movie Reviews: Fantastic Four (2015)

3. Fantastic Four (2015)

Watched 1/24/2016

How is it possible that they made a movie that both takes itself too seriously for the property, but also is sillier and more cheesy than the Ioan Gruffold-led versions of these Fox trotted out a decade ago?

This movie is every bit as bad as you’ve heard or imagined or said so yourself after sitting through it in theaters last summer. I’m sorry I didn’t believe you all, and I’m pretty sorry that I chose this movie to watch while rehabbing my back this morning. Is it possible this movie made me feel worse?

Maybe just rent this one on iTunes in HD.

2016 Movie Reviews: The Hateful Eight

2. The Hateful Eight

Watched 1/12/16

Louder and less weighty than Django Unchained, less coherent and satisfying than Inglorious Basterds, this is my least favorite Tarantino film in quite a while, and may end up being my least favorite overall.

That's still not a bad place to be and as with all his work there is a lot to love here. Unlike almost any other QT film, though, this one doesn't have any characters you'll love. Portrayals maybe, or roles. But not these characters. They are, as the title implies, hateful.

Worth it, because Quentin says he's only doing like 2 more, you have to savor them all as they can.

Buy it in HD on iTunes with Special features included now!

2016 Movie Reviews: The Bridge on the River Kwai

1.The Bridge on the River Kwai

Watched 1/1/16

"It will be pleasant work that requires your skills." — Colonel Saito

That's pretty much exactly what I thought about this writing series as I began it a year ago. And the ratio of truth that line had in it for the members of camp 16, is pretty equal to the ratio of truth for me in writing as well.

But another line makes it clear why I did what I did and why I'm doing it again in 2016.

 "All work and no play, make Jack a dull boy." — Colonel Saito

I started writing these reviews to ensure that I wrote regularly period. Since staring podcasting I've found it more difficult to maintain the habit. And without regular practice, my writing gets dull as well.

In 2015, I set out to watch 100, and got to 50. In the end, I'm absolutely happy with that. This year, I'm just aiming for more, and better writing about them.

Bridge offers a ton, and it's clear now why so many people have recommended it over the years. Guinness is amazing and the scenery is unlike anything I've seen elsewhere.

The final line (and the overall "moral" of the film) are every bit as effective as Kurtz' final line from Apocalypse Now.

Worth it, just for Saito's finally giving in to Guinness.

Joel's 100 Films in 2015: You've Got Mail

50. You've Got Mail

Watched 12/28/15

"There's no one else. But there's the dream of someone else." - Kathleen Kelly

I had that dream once too. When my first marriage was over, and I was picking up the pieces of my life, that dream was a bright spot of hope. I never thought I'd marry again, and I had no prospects for a real relationship even, but I imagined someone more perfectly suited for me. Someone who made me smile again, who filled my heart with joy and made me want to write letters (or at least lengthy and poetry filled emails) to.

I didn't know her then, and I wouldn't have believed my current life then if you'd have shown it to me, but my Kelly was that dream.

Last night, as I lay in bed rewatching "You've Got Mail" and Kelly lay beside me dosing off, I told her so as that scene in the movie came up. I don't know if it came off to her quite as romantic as it felt in my head, but I think she got the point.

This movie is many things. Horribly dated because of the technology, fairly pedestrian in its plot twists and turns and more than a little sappy and sentimental. But it's also charming, and funny, and such a beautiful story of people finding each other in spite of themselves.

One of a series of "Rom-Com's" that to me always felt more like "Guy Movies" ("Something's Gotta Give" being another good example of this) and it has been, since it's release, one of my favorite movies. In the years since I saw it last, that hasn't changed one bit.

So, as I finally go to bed next to my Dream, heres a sincere wish that you all get your dream one day.

5 stars

Joel's 100 Films in 2015: Trainwreck

42. Trainwreck

Watched on 11/12/15

So, Amy Schumer is one of those celebrities that I'm just sure would absolutely adore me if we ever were to actually meet. Like, we'd be long lost best buddies from moment one.

Having that kind of personal approval on your side going into a movie makes it much more likely that you'll enjoy the movie itself. Add in the fact that a supporting character is your favorite basket ball player and it's basically impossible to fail, right?

As much as I enjoyed the movie and as excited as it made me for Amy's future films, it also exposed a big problem in Judd Apatow movies. He lets his performers improv through many scenes in the movie, resulting in these amazing and original one liners that are often traded back and forth between the characters. 

But they volley too many times. It ends up playing as false because real people would never come up with so many at once. The scenes play loose and unfinished because each exchange goes so long. 

Once you've notice it, it's basically impossible to overlook. You're welcome. Now I've ruined Judd Apatow for you too. Ha.

I still love you, Amy. 

4 stars.