Thursday, February 15, 2018

Movies 365: October 2018

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1. Donnie Brasco (1997)
2. Cat People (1982)
3. Arrival (2016)
4. Battle Royale (2000)
5. Venom (2018)
6. The Shallows (2016)
7. Galaxy Quest (1999)
8. The Survivalist (2017)
9. Drag Me to Hell (2009)
10. I Saw the Devil (2011)
11. Better Off Dead (1985)
12. Apocalypse Now (1979)
13. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)
14. Taxi Driver (1976)/Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (2005)
15. Fletch (1985)
16. You're Next (2013)
17. Rio Bravo (1959)
18. Death at a Funeral (2007)
19. Mowgli (2018)
20. The Girl In the Spider's Web (2018)
21. Planes, Tranes and Automobiles (1987)
22. The Love Witch (2016)
23. Goodfellas (1990)/The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
24. Schindler's List (1993)
25. Memento (2000)
26. Casino Royale (2006)
27. Darkman (1990)
28. Taken 2 (2012)/Tron: Legacy (2010)
29. The Innkeepers (2012)
30. Metropolis (2002)
31. For a Few Dollars More (1965)

Average Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81.35%
Movie I'm Most Excited to See: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Rocketeer (1991) Movie Review

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Me trying to find something I liked about The Rocketeer: "Well that part was cool. Yeah, but it was quickly ruined by x,y, and z. Besides, the terrible part that happened right after made it all for nothing. Ok, but what about...Nope, that was pretty crappy too."

If Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice has taught us anything it's that sometimes superhero movies get it wrong. Not only does The Rocketeer get it wrong, it steps on its own feet before it can even get off the blocks properly. Oftentimes we have the case of decent actors getting placed with a dud of a script, but that's far from the situation here. Sure the actors didn't have much of a chance with the awful writing, but I have the strangest feeling that even if the writing had been superb these actors still would have found a way to muck it up. It's that bad. I'm talking grind your teeth bad.

To its credit, the film doesn't dupe you as it gets off to a terrible start almost immediately. Twenty minutes in and I was already thinking of the number of different things that I could have been doing rather than watching The Rocketeeer. Was it all bad? No, but mostly. The redeemable parts were quickly ruined by their own contradictions. Perfect example, everytime main character Cliff Secord (Billy Campbell) donned the Rocketeer suit, the action was pretty sweet to watch. Considering the fact that he wasn't in the suit for even a full half hour, things soured pretty quickly.

Corny moments abound in the film. I was hoping for a base that was more serious and less campy and all I can say is: Mission Not Accomplished. Between the absolute joke of a villain, the lame plot twist, and a number of other things, I don't know what bothered me the most.

The Rocketeer is the story of an aviator who is on the run from the mob after discovering a jet pack in the 1930's. Yeah, now that I think about it, the plot should have told me everything I needed to know about expectations. Skip it. I give it a 10.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Under the Skin (2014) Movie Review

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Under the Skin was doing just fine...until it took a strange direction that I really couldn't get behind. I can't explain it without ruining the movie so I won't. I'm not saying it's not worth watching at least once. However, even if you end up liking it, your appreciation for the film may not be immediate.

I say that because it took me awhile to digest some of the messages sprinkled throughout the film because I was too busy trying to focus on what was actually happening plot-wise. The film preaches that we are victims of our own desires, the things we should probably stay away from but can't. When we don't get the things that we want, we would rather destroy those things than treat them as a loss and move on. How many times have you heard, "I didn't want that job anyway" or "I hate that team. They win too much"? If we can't have the good thing, then no one should have it.

With strong messages like these, It's a wonder the film wasn't better. Overall, it just felt like a puzzle with missing pieces. You're guessing continuously, expecting things to fall into place at some point, but they never do. Again, not a bad just could have been so much more. I expected more excitement and intrigue from a film about an alien female roaming Scotland streets luring men into her van.

For what it's worth, the film does a great job of grabbing your attention and curiosity immediately, setting a tone that demands your attention. Scarlett Johansson was great in her role as Laura the alien life form. You can't help but relate to her struggle of trying to blend in while trying to complete her mission at the same time. Perhaps that was another message: We shouldn't try and change who we are to fit in with social norms. A few tweaks could have made this film a lot better. Overall I give Under the Skin a 75.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Smashed (2012) Movie Review

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After a horrible lie goes wrong for Kate Hannah (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), she finally decides she needs to do something about her alcoholism which is causing her life to spin out of control. Throughout this Movie-a-Day experience, I have already watched a number of classics (see previous reviews). I randomly sprinkled in some films I had never heard of, Smashed being one of them. This is one hidden gem of a film that I'm so thankful it found its way on to my list.

The messages in the film aren't preached, but still manage to resonate strongly due to a powerful delivery. Kate's character shows us that it doesn't matter how you start (or the cards you're dealt in life), rather it's about how you decide--and only YOU get to decide--to finish. Kate wants to change but she has no support system as her husband is just as bad as her. In spite of the incredible adversity she's battling, she decides to go for it anyway, refusing to make excuses.

What makes this so important is the fact that Kate is a complete wreck and you recognize it almost instantly. Her life is a downwards tailspin, kind of like watching a car crash in slow motion. Her story is layered seamlessly into the film and you slowly start to understand that she never really had much of a chance to be anything other than what she became. Winstead captures the role in phenomenal fashion, aided by yet another strong performance from Octavia Spencer as Jenny. Through the two of them, we experience a powerful meaning that says doing the hard thing will always come with a sacrifice.

Recommended. I give Smashed an 86.

Movies 365: September 2018

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1. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
3. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
4. The 9th Company (2005)
5. Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954)/Strange Days (1995)
6. The Vikings (1958)
7. Caddyshack (1980)
8. Atonement (2007)
9. My Man Godfrey (1936)
10. The Iron Ladies (2001)
11. Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels (1999)
12. Female Perversions (1997)
13. Fury (2014)
14. The Darkest Minds (2018)/Spider-Man 3 (2007)
15. The Babadook (2014)
16. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
17. That Evening Sun (2009)
18. Mystery Team (2009)/Mystery Men (1999)
19. Unforgiven (1992)
20. Easy Money (2012)
21. World's Greatest Dad (2009)
22. The House With a Clock In its Walls (2018)
23. National Lampoon's Animal House (1978)
24. Lourdes (2009)
25. The Great Escape (1963)
26. Robocop (1987)
27. There Will be Blood (2007)
28. Die Hard (1988)
29. Hellboy (2004)/Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
30. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Average Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 80.5
Movie I'm Most Excited to See: The Vikings

Friday, February 2, 2018

Best In Show (2000) Movie Review

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I can't tell you the funny lines that exist in Best In Show. I can't tell you because there are too many to count. I was hoping to get a good laugh, but was pleasantly surprised by just how hilarious the film was.

Best In Show is a mockumentary around the largest dog show of the year and the people that compete. My only complaint was that it teetered a bit at the ending. A little less lingering and it would have been just fine.

The dialogue is perfect. It's crisp and full of zings forcing you to hang on to every word. The characters that make up this film are over-the-top funny, yet real at the same time. Their stories and backstories are well-done giving you a reason to root for their success or failure. The success of these characters stems from how much people actually love their dogs and how much people are willing to do for them in real life. Definitely translates well. While it should feel appalling to watch, there's a part of you that gets it.

There is always something happening to keep you entertained throughout. From the opening scene (great start) to hilarious moments with Harlan (Christopher Guest) and his hound Hubert, you're left with a multitude of reasons to laugh. I give Best In Show an 89.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Toy Story 3 (2010) Movie Review

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The gang is back in full form for Toy Story 3 as Andy heads off to college and they head to daycare. If you didn't know, this won't be the last installment. Yes, they are making a Toy Story 4. I used to think that was preposterous. Then it hit me that this franchise is probably one of the best trilogies done. Ever. Of all time. I can imagine the creative minds of Pixar sitting in a room and one of them pulls a Danny Ocean: "You think we need one more? You think we need one more. Alright...we'll get one more."

I can't think of many negatives around the film but I sure can praise it to kingdom come. The creativity that goes into this franchise is amazing and the third installment is no exception. One of my favorite scenes includes a private hideaway in the top of a snack machine where some of the toys are playing poker. These moments of great imagination are not only clever but also evoked my emotions as a viewer. Some moments were funny, others heartwrenching. Meanwhile that scene were the 3-year-olds demolish the toy room for the first time was just plain terrifying.

Toy Story 3 grabs your attention immediately as it gets off to an exciting start. A strong part of what keeps the film interesting is the emotional connection between kids and toys. When we're toddlers, we destroy everything in our paths toys included. As we get older, not only do we learn to appreciate those toys and what they do for us, we start to treat them more intimately, almost if they were friends. Eventually that love fades to mere memories and it's not long before toys are once again seen as mere objects. It's touching to watch the trouble the toys go through in the beginning to regain Andy's attention. Andy's moved on, but the toys can't accept it.

There is a scene where Woody is escaping from a bathroom. Right before he reaches up to grab the toilet seat, he puts some tissue down. It's the small touches like these that propel this movie to greatness. I give Toy Story 3 a 97.