Joel's 100 Films in 2015: SPECTRE


Watched on 11/11/15

As Star Wars morphs in the hands of Disney from a series of films to a full on era-spanning franchise that will roll on into the future, I've looked a lot at the Bond series for some of the pitfalls and pros for Disney to learn from the super-spy.

The primary thing I hope Lucasfilm copies about EON productions is the ability to walk the fine line of incorporating the trends of modern cinema while not subsuming what makes the series unique.

The trailers and hype for this film had me pretty sure that I'd figured it all out before ever watching the first frame of the film. Pleasantly, I got what I wanted, but not exactly all the way I expected.

If this ends up being Daniel Craig's last mission, it'll be a fitting conclusion to his time as Bond. If we get one more outing with this team, then I think we're set up for something truly special. I won't give it away right here, but I'll talk about it in full at some later date. 

Regardless of what comes next, her Majesty's Secret Service will be well covered and we'll all get to enjoy the adventures. 

5 stars

Joel's 100 Films in 2015: Inside Out

40. Inside Out

Watched 11/02/15

As I thought when I watched Up  for the first time, this movie made me ask, "Who exactly is this movie for?"

If it's for children, then there's too much melancholy and too little action. If it's for parents then it's a little too full of potty jokes and pratfalls. 

It's a weird mix, no doubt, but there are a lot of things to like among the mixed nuts. This is possibly one that will grow on you over time.

4 and a half stars.

Joel's 100 Films in 2015: Attack of the Clones

39. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Watched 10/12/15

Remember when this was gonna be the Star Wars movies that got it all back on track? I do. This was literally a new hope. 

And then it came out. And we watched it and we were so sad. Those were the dark times.

There are good parts here: Grievous is interesting, the trio of monsters battling our heroes in the arena is derivative but exciting.

But there is also a forced terrible romance and the worst special effects in the entire saga. Too much CGI and too little oversight ruined this one. 

3 stars

Joel's 100 Films in 2015: Diamonds are Forever

38. Diamonds are Forever

Watched 10/3/15

"How far does your expertise go into diamonds, Commander Bond?"

"Well, let's see. Hardest substance on earth, cuts glass, suppose they've replaced dogs as a girls best friend but other than that..."

There are almost as many Blofeld's in this film as there are diamonds. There is only one Bond though, even if this is his second go-'round. Connery is here for the money and it shows, but the enjoyable assassins and a side of Jimmy Dean make this one worth the price of admission.

It's weird that this is the final official Connery Bond outing.

4 stars.

Joel's 100 Films in 2015: The Empire Strikes Back

36. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Watched 9/21/15

Sometimes you celebrate your 34th birthday by watching the only perfect Star Wars movie for the 304th viewing. This year was just such a time.

Watching these films again alongside my wife (who is experiencing the Skywalker saga for her first time) has been eye-opening. This movie is obviously better than the first, even for those who've come to Star Wars late, and even those who don't really have any desire to visit this galaxy far, far away. 


Yet, my perfect Star Wars movie, isn't necessarily a perfect movie for everyone. Here I am finding their lack of faith disturbing. This movie? I still find it impressive, most impressive. 

5 stars.

Joel's 100 Films in 2015: Birdman

37. Birdman

Watched 9/24/15

So many times I hear good things about a movie, but can't get to the theatre to see it. By the time I actually do get a chance, I've gotten so much hype about the film, I almost can't help but be let down. Birdman, is not one of those movies.

It's everything it was billed to be. More consistent and outstanding acting performances in one movie than I can remember in a very long time.

It's weird in almost every way, cinematography, dialogue, disjointed reality, and yet it is intensely and consistently satisfying. Exactly what I want out of a "grown-up" movie.

5 stars.

Joel's 100 Films in 2015: The Absent Minded Professor

35. The Absent Minded Professor

Watched 9/13/15

I just want to know who is possibly taking an $8-10,000 bet on Medfield Technical College's basketball game?

$8-10,000 by the way is more than it looks like was spent on the jumping effects during the basketball game.

I've got a deep love for the Classic Disney live-action films, but this one does not hold up in almost anyway.

2 stars

Joel's 100 Films in 2015: Ant-Man

29. Ant-Man

Watched on 8/22/15

Paul Rudd's casting as Scott Lang was one of the biggest surprises of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe for me. But after sitting with it for a while, it began to feel like another genius stroke for the studio who has yet to open a movie at anything other than #1.

After finally seeing the latest entry into Disney's mega franchise, my original belief that they'd made a misstep was totally wrong. Rudd is perfect for what Ant-Man (the character and the film) is asked to do.

Michael Douglas was a different story. My only concern there was that he wouldn't be a long term addition to the universe (like Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce) but the baggage he brought personally to the role only allows for a better shorthand for the character of Hank Pym. We don't need to spend hours and hours with him, because we already have. Pym adopts most of what we know about Douglas and that serves the storyline very well.

Here's hoping that this pairing (and Evangeline Lilly as well) return not only in Captain America Civil War, but other future MCU outings. Rudd and Douglas have great chemistry already and Lilly shows tremendous promise as a modern day Wasp.

I'm so thankful that not only is Marvel making these connected movies but that they're taking the opportunity (and chance) to make different movies within the same universe. They all hang together, and build off of each other in interesting and unexpected ways, but they are free enough to branch out in different directions and provide varied experiences within the overarching storyline.

4 stars.

Joel's 100 Films in 2015: Wet Hot American Summer

28. Wet Hot American Summer

Watched on 8/15/15

You know how when you get that winter cold that just hangs around for weeks, your throat is scratchy and your nose runs and it's all terrible, but when it's finally over and your voice is normal again, you almost miss the raspy weirdness?

That's sort of how I feel about this movie. It wasn't anything like I imagined it was going to be. The humor almost all either went over my head or under my chin, I'm not sure which.

But when it was finally over, I was a little sad that my time with this ridiculous group was at an end. On to the Netflix series, I suppose.

2 stars.

Joel's 100 Films in 2015: Her

27. Her

Watched 8/14/15

A beautiful film about losing people and loving people, except played out with something other than a person.

Spike Jonze is an endlessly interesting director and here shows himself to be a stunningly capable writer as well. Joaquin Phoenix is amazing in his return to "normal acting" after his excursion into whatever this was. And Scarlet Johansen gives her most human and revealing performance yet, while portraying an artificial intelligence and never appearing on screen.

5 stars

Joel's 100 Films in 2015: The Terminator

25. The Terminator

Watched 7/11/2015

At this point this film lives more in my memory than reality. The film I imagine I remember seeing has less "flashback" to the future, it had less naked Arnie (not that there's anything wrong with that!) and more scares. Although I think this one still plays as more horror movie than action movie.

In that way, this franchise mimics the Alien franchise. I like all the flavors.

It's hard to go back to the pre-badass Sarah Connor, but even in the role of the last girl, Linda Hamilton has great moments.

Not only is this movie less action-packed than its sequel, it's also more fatalistic. But it's still original and exceptional for its time.

4 stars.

Joel's 100 Films in 2015: Magic Mike

26. Magic Mike

Watched 7/11/2015

Is it exploitation? Is it housewives porno? Is it a pretty good movie about a rarely discussed corner of society? Can't it be all of those things?

Especially with Soderbergh involved, it absolutely can be all of those things. And this is. In parts more serious than you'd expect or necessarily want, other times frivolous and excessive, but always clearly approved by the MPAA. It's not a perfect movie or even a great one, but it's a really solid performance from Channing Tatum (and several of his featured co-stars), and the perfect opportunity to do something simple for the woman (or Tatum-loving man) in your life.

4 stars.

Joel's 100 Films in 2015: A Lot Like Love

23. A Lot Like Love

Watched 7/9/2015

Oh, Ashton Kutcher. How can I dislike you, and love you and be disgusted by and jealous of you all at the same time?

This movie features the first time I've ever not liked Amanda Peet, as her character opens the film as a nails-on-the-chalkboard person for me. But she grows on me, or wears me out, or maybe I grow over the course of the movie, or perhaps she does.

Anyway, it's a pretty sweet little sort-of-love-story. I'm awfully glad Honeybun talked me into watching it.

3 1/2 stars.

Joel's 100 Films in 2015: In a World

24. In a World

Watched 7/10/15

Lake Bell is one of those actors that you probably adore, and also that you probably don't exactly remember until I show you a picture.


See? I told you.

Lake and probably hundreds of other talented women like her (and men too, but this problem seems exacerbated with women) get lost in Hollywood. Maybe they have a moment, one of those weird series of projects like Zoe Saldana has found herself in recently where it seems she's the only woman producers can think of when it comes to strong female roles. But for most of them suddenly, the moment is over, and the only roles they're being called for is Aunt May and the wise-cracking mom next door.

Lake saw the landscape and said, not for me. I'll tell my own stories, featuring me in the light that I know I can shine.

"In a World" is her creative project as much as any film can belong to a single person. She's writer, director, producer and star. In Apple Fanboy speak, she "owns the whole stack".

And the movie is wonderful for it. It's her voice writ large (especially when she's doing her best voice-over impression). It's quirky, it's cute and I can't wait for the next story from this brilliant, beautiful woman.

5 stars.

Joel's 100 Films in 2015: Terminator Genisys

22. Terminator Genisys Watched 7/11/2015

Leaps of logic and leaps by robots. You take the good with the bad.

I love the first Terminator film (and it's sequel, T2: Judgement Day) in a completely blind way. I adore the movies, hold them in high esteem both for their entertainment value and the influence they've had on their industry and artform. The latter two Terminator sequels, (T3 and Terminator: Salvation) were both enjoyable enough when I watched them but neither one compelled me to the theatre or sat as well as the first two in my head or heart.

This one does. It's big and dumb in broad swaths, but it's also clever about mixing up some of the best parts of the series so far in new and interesting ways while setting the stage for a whole new series of cinematic adventures in this universe we all love. In some ways it did all of that better than JJ Abrams Star Trek reboot, in other ways, it clumsily missed the mark.

Overall, a worthy successor and an exciting new sci-fi franchise to follow.

4 stars.