reviews

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.

Joel's 100 Films in 2015: 1776

20. 1776

Watched 6/20/2015

"Sweet, Jesus," I like this movie!

Its one I try to watch every year around the 4th of July. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy about our country while putting into sharp focus the things that are still wrong with it. 

For an in depth discussion of the film and musical, check out this episode of Me and the Geek featuring David Wylie. 

5 stars. 

Pod on Pod on The Astral Projection Podcast

We had an out of body experience all while staying in the studio this week as we discussed The Astral Projection Podcast

The podcast hasn't been produced in a while, but does that mean that the content is less worthwhile? Check out the show to hear our opinion. 

Find more reviews, podcasts and a welcoming collaborative community of artists by visiting TeamProCreate.com

Subscribe on an iPhone, iPad or desktop/laptop computer right here.

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Or just click this link and listen now. 

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Joel's 100 Films in 2015: Maleficent

21. Maleficent

Watched 7/2/2015

I was was as cautious and generally pessimistic about the Disney live action "remakes" of their animated catalog as anyone, but so far, I've really enjoyed "Great and Powerful Oz" (not strictly speaking a part of this new trend), not hated "Alice in Wonderland" and now been pleasantly surprised (even after hearing good things) with "Maleficent."

Everything I'd heard personally from people about the film had been positive and most critics generally liked it, but some reason I just really didn't expect much from this. But I loved it.

Jolie is amazing as the title fairy, she brings shades of grey to the early scenes, dutifully hits notes from the animated "Sleeping Beauty" and still brings something new to the role in the end.

The rumors all say there is a sequel coming and I, for one, would be glad to spend more time in this world.

5 stars

Joel's 100 movies in 2015: Jesus Christ Superstar

 

16. Jesus Christ Superstar

Watched 04/05/15

This is one of those movies I heard about for years before I saw it. Misconstrued and jumbled together with The Last Temptation of Christ  by my local congregation, I thought this movie was sacrilege and verboten until I happened to catch it on PBS one Easter. Seeing our Lord dance and sing is obviously not for every Christian. Neither is seeing Judas portrayed so...favorably doesn't seem like the right word, but at least humanely. He's relatable, I suppose is the problem  for a lot of Christians that watch this. And they don't like to imagine they might agree with Judas.

Having watched this film a dozen times over the years, listened to the soundtrack and original recording until I've got them memorized, even seen Nealy perform as Jesus in person on his "final tour", I still adore it. There are moments that are less magical than they once were, but many more that still make my eyes twinkle and my lips curl into a smile even just thinking about them.

5 stars.

Joel's 100 movies in 2015: Jurassic Park

 

17. Jurassic Park

Watched 04/11/15

Still scary enough and awe-inspiring enough to make a seven year old's life! This was the first movie I remember seeing alone in the theatre and I still can't believe that first full shot of the Brontasaurus herd. My oldest son watched it with us and he was awed in all the right parts, scared just the right amount and excited to go on another adventure as soon as the credits rolled.

This movie has held up incredibly well over time can't wait for the latest installment in the series.

5 stars.

Joel's 100 movies in 2015:Tusk

 

15. Tusk

Watched 3/30/15

 

I've been with Kevin Smith since just before the release on video of Chasing Amy. I found Mallrats accidentally, then got referred to Clerks and the soon to arrive Amy.

He hit me just right and I followed him not only into the rest of his movies but into podcasting.

Now here, we get the movie that Smodcast built. It's a feat, no doubt about it. And Smith has found lots of things in his second act that his first didn't offer. But it doesn't have the magic for me, and is just a little too strange for its own good. 

But Guy LaPointe is the business.

3 stars

Joel's 100 movies in 2015: Avengers Age of Ultron

 

18. Avengers: Age of Ultron

Watched 5/2/15

Both better and worse than I imagined and hoped. It's a strange feeling being both under and overwhelmed at once.

We got everything we asked for pretty much (other than real resolution for Hulk), but you just can't quite capture the magic of seeing these characters together for the first time.

Having said that, watch this with a kid and tell me that the Vision doesn't make their heads explode! 

4 stars.

Joel's 100 movies in 2015: Mad Max Fury Road

 

19. Mad Max: Fury Road

Watched 5/25/15

What a lovely day, when a progressive fellow such as myself can enjoy a big fat action movie full of fire, death and explosions without being confronted by overt sexualization of women, and while being given a female protagonist every bit the equal of the male protagonist.

Heck, if they'd kept the original title, they would have even shared top billing! 

It's been long and long since I've watched the original films, but this one made it a lovely day for me. 

5 stars

Joel's 100 movies in 2015: Hunger Games - Mockinjay Part 1

 

14. Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Watched 3/30/15

The whole series thus far has been more interesting to me in book form than on film, but with the final two entries, they've hit the part of the story that really deserves to be expanded a bit. 

In many ways the whole series has been and is about propaganda. This film finally leans fully into that, discussing and examining all the people and roles responsible for crafting such campaigns. 

Even if they don't stick the landing on this franchise, it will all have been worth it for the "discovery" of Jennifer Lawrence!

4 stars

Joel's 100 Movies in 2015: Muppets Most Wanted

 

13. Muppets Most Wanted 3/14/15

"We're doing a sequel!"

I think I made it clear reviewing The Great Muppet Caper that I love the muppets. Like, really, really love them. But I hadn't seen this movie because I'd heard it was terrible. And I didn't want my heart broken.

My heart's not broken, and it's not TERRIBLE, but it's more forgettable than almost any other Muppet movie and, for me, is on par with some of the lesser Muppet TV specials (think Merry Muppet Christmas).

it's Kermit, it's Piggy etc, so it can't be all bad. But there is little other than a terrible Tina Fey accent to recommend this one.

2 and a half stars. 

 

Joel's 100 Films in 2015: Daredevil

 

12. Daredevil - watched 03/08/15

Affleck is earnest and his shoulders are plenty broad enough to hang this on, but the bones of the film aren't sturdy enough to allow him to keep it all upright.

The Director's cut definitely improves the film, but a Coolio sub-plot and a less heavy-handed romance can't fix everything that ails this one.

2 and a half stars

Joel's 100 movies in 2015: Smoky and the Bandit

 

11. Smoky and the Bandit - 3/7/15

It's full of misogyny and racism completely out of time now. It's also hilarious and thrilling and quite often charming, all perfect adjectives to describe the bandit himself. Burt Reynolds is amazing in the role, and coasted on it's success for the next several years if not decades.

This is a movie that if I come across on cable, I'll never skip it it's eminently watchable from any point.

4 stars

Joel's 100 movies in 2015: Unbreakable

 

10. Unbreakable - 2/7/15

Feels even more now than at the time the predicate for the modern superhero era. One of Willis' best performances. I'm no apologist for Shymalan but I do enjoy his first four films. While The Sixth Sense seems to be the only one the mainstream has held any affinity for, to me it's a magic trick. Once you've heard the mechanism it's harder to enjoy the trick on repeat viewings. But Night's second film doesn't suffer from the same lessening. To me it grows with every viewing. 

5 stars.

Joel's 100 movies in 2015: Fargo

As the buzz for the TV series based on this Coen brothers classic built to a fever pitch, I finally talked Kelly into watching it with me. Her response, what kind of movie is it?

That's a loaded question isn't it?!? 

It's a comedy where everyone (not really) dies. It's a domestic drama without any domesticity. It's a crime story about terrible criminals.

It's one of my favorite movies and it holds up under repeated viewings, imitators and homages, cable channel edits and even the passage of time.

4 stars.

Joel's 100 Films in 2015: The Great Muppet Caper

8. The Great Muppet Caper watched 1/18/15 Hey, a movie!

While Fozzie and Kermit may not look like twins at first glance, give it a second look and you'll notice the resemblance. That's sort of the situation with this film and The Muppet Movie.

There two ways to make a muppet movie. You can tell a story about the muppets doing muppety things as themselves (The Muppet Movie, Muppets Take Manhattan, The Muppets, A Very Merry Muppet Christmas, The Muppet Show, Muppets Tonightand, arguably Muppet Babies) or, you recast them in a story and play it as if it's not weird that half the cast is made up of anthropomorphic animals and awfully-fuzzy oddly-colored people (Muppet Treasure Island, Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppets Most Wanted and here in The Great Muppet Caper).

Both of these strategies have their advantages and their disadvantages. They also tend to have different fans amongst the Muppet faithful. Me? I like them all. I understand intellectually that there are good Muppet movies and bad ones. But I never end a Muppet movie (or the made for TV variety) without a big smile on my face.

That's not true for everything from the Star Wars franchise. Or Disney movies. Or the Bond series. Or even the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Only Pixar and the Muppets are still batting .1000 with me on cinematic smiles. And that counts for a lot.

It's not the triumph that The Muppet Movie was (comedically or cinematically) but it's got it's moments, that'll make you feel all Muppetty inside.

4 stars.

Joel's 100 Films in 2015: On Her Majesty's Secret Service

7. On Her Majesty's Secret Service watched on 1/11/15 As I'm working my way through the Bond films again, it's finally time to see something for the first time. I understand that for many people it's their least favorite Bond, but the opening scene has better choreographed and performed fights than all of the Connery Bond films so far combined.

There are a million daring choices made here in the first EON Bond production without Sean Connery. It seems pretty clear that the company decided that if the main attraction was going to change, why not try lots of new things?

Some work, some definitely don't.

Lazenby's outfits are ridiculous. But only half as ridiculous as the fact they ended a Bond film like they end this one. To call it "gutsy" or even "ballsy" doesn't do it justice. It's like Nihilistic Bond.

The most frustrating thing about this is we can't really know whether it was the movie or the actor that brought this outing down. Would Connery have made this film better? Or if given a more even film, would Lazenby have thrived as Bond?

The world may never know...no, wait, the world is not enough. That other line is for tootsie roll pops.

Joel's 100 Films in 2015: Miller's Crossing

6. Miller's Crossing watched on 1/10/15 I love the Coen brothers films. From my first viewing of Raising Arizonabad a kid too young to get most of the humor (but who loved the goofy look on Nic Cage's face through it all), I knew I was onto something special.

When I first started college, I also discovered Netflix through the mail and immediately caught up on their entire catalog (including the little seen Blood Simple that started it all) but my favorite was their take on the gangster movie, Miller's Crossing

Gabriel Byrne as Tom is maybe the coolest man ever put on film. He's stoic, charming, brutish and brooding. All while taking his lumps from seemingly all players in the power struggle depicted in the film. I know lots of people would argue with me and say that The Usual Suspects is Byrne's best movie, but this one slays Bryan Singer's criminal boogeyman story every time for me.

In fact, this film is so well paced, scripted, acted and shot, that the only two films I'm willing to agree are better gangster movies are The Godfather and The Godfather Part II but even the Corleone's can't take Tom's place in my heart. I was pretty sure of this before the most recent viewing but after finally sharing the film with Kelly, I'm willing to say confidently that this is my favorite movie.

5 stars.