Showing 11 - 20 of 42 posts found matching keyword: 150 in 2012

Finishing off the movies from September 2012:

223. Big Jake (1971)
John Wayne in a role that exemplifies why we love John Wayne. I loved the family dynamic of John Wayne, the last of the Old West heroes, telling his grown, estranged children what to do. I hated the fact that they rather violently killed a dog. Killing a beloved sidekick character? Joss Whedon must love this movie.

224. The Reluctant Astronaut (1967)
I have never much cared for Don Knotts. He plays just one character and I don't find that persona very entertaining. However, watching this film (with a straight-faced Leslie Nielson), I was struck that his schtick isn't much different from Kevin James' comic persona these days. Think about it: Don Knotts as Paul Blart: Mall Cop? I wonder how Kevin James would have gotten along in Mayberry.

225. What's Your Number (2011)
Romantic comedies like this are so formulaic, I don't really know why I watch them. Seriously, someone in an awkward romantic situation meets someone of the opposite gender in a very contrived situation. The fall in love while working to resolve the awkward situation. Then the protagonist does something stupid, driving a wedge in the budding relationship. Fortunately, some friends or situation points out the foolishness of the situation, and all live happily ever after. I guess that I, like most moviegoers, feel comfortable seeing new variations on familiar themes, and just keep consuming these movies like visual comfort food. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

226. Diner (1982)
Sometimes I can tell when I really liked a movie only when it sticks with me as time passes. I've thought a lot about Diner since I saw it, which is a pretty good indicator that I liked it. It reminded me of a less-serious Beautiful Girls, which I've always liked.

227. Doom (2005)
Stupid, pop-culture action movie. I watched it to prep me for Karl Urban's performance in...

228. Dredd (2012)
I covered this here. As I said, I liked it. Much smarter than Doom. Hard to believe that's Dr. McCoy scowling under that helmet.

229. Without a Paddle (2004)
How do movies like this get made? The situationally "comedic" plot is as thin as the direction. It's just a time waster. If the romantic comedy is the comfort food of movies, this is the fast food of movies.

230. Comanche Territory (1950)
Commanche Territory is the sort of film that gave Doc Brown the wrong idea about the American West in Back to the Future III. I watched the movie because the early meeting between the two male leads looked like it had the sort of sparkle that would make for a good time. The movie soon disappointed by devolving into a stock Western with dubious historical facts, weak action, and an unlikely romance. Oh well. They can't all be Fistful of Dollars.

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You may have noticed that I skipped two numbers on Monday's list. That's because I wanted to highlight those two films:

218. Thunderbirds Are GO (1966)
219. Thunderbird 6 (1968)

I think I met most of the Thunderbirds television episodes when they aired on Tech TV about a decade ago. I'd seen the live-action film adaptation in 2004, but I had no idea that there were two SuperMarionation movies that were just as oddly paced and bizarre as the tv-show. These films contain all the eclectic elements that that Team America: World Police (also 2004) was parodying, including pointless international terrorism, awkward romance between puppets, and unabashed melodrama.


Thunderbirds are GO!... to bed?

As I said, the pacing is bad, but that's what DVR's are for, right? I caught them on consecutive Saturday mornings on TCM, and I would recommend them to the young at heart in a heartbeat.

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I was been super busy in September, and as a result, I had the impression that my monthly movie count would be very low. Counting them up, I'm surprised to see that wasn't remotely the case.

213. Horror Express (1972)
Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and Terry Savalas fight an amoral alien menace in an early 20th-century trans-Siberian train. This B-movie was far more entertaining than it had any right to be.

214. Cowboys & Aliens (2011)
If Horror Express was more fun than it ought to have been, Cowboys & Aliens was far less fun than it ought to have been. This big-budget bore-fest started strong before petering out slowly over its final hour. Stay away from this stinker.

215. Portrait of Jennie (1948)
Another recommendation by Grimmy, and, as usual, a worthwhile watch. Part Harvey, part Ghost and Mrs. Muir, it's hard to classify this gothic romance story, a fact that certainly works in its favor.

216. Shark Swarm (2008)
I have no idea how Armand Assante, Daryl Hannah, John Schneider, and F. Murray Abraham wound up in this terrible, 3-hour long tv movie about how evil capitalists are destroying the environment by creating extra-hungry sharks! Well, okay, I know what John Schneider is doing here, but F. Murray Abraham won a Best Actor Oscar once! (If you haven't seen Abraham's tour de force performance in An Innocent Man with Tom Selleck, do yourself a favor and watch that instead of this.)

217. Salt (2010)
I told my brother that I had missed the dialogue at the end of this film because I had to go to an online meeting, so I couldn't tell if she was fleeing or sanctioned. But he said that he saw it 2 years ago, listened to the dialogue, and couldn't tell then, either. So maybe the ending is just open to some interpretation.

220. 42nd Street (1933)
The prototypical "we're putting on a Broadway show" movie. Fun but not deep.

221. Real Steal (2011)
They finally remade Over the Top with robots. Sadly, this is not a better movie.

222. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011)
Trey said I shouldn't be allowed to count this movie because I missed the beginning and the end, and what I did see I openly criticized as pointless and unsatisfying. But he had to admit that I had at least been present for most of the movie and could recite the story, even if I didn't like it.

I've got as many more to go, and I'll get to them later in the week.

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I suspect that I first met Judge Dredd when he and Batman shared an adventure in 1991's Judgement on Gotham comic book. Dredd, a character appearing regularly in British comics, was a tough cop struggling to maintain order in a post-apocalyptic future that is equal parts terrifying, satirical, and absurd. Dredd and Batman both share a righteous morality, a utility belt of awesome technology, and a complete lack of any sense of humor, but the two are on opposite ends of the empathy spectrum. Naturally, I was instantly enchanted.

One afternoon in late June 1995, I rode with my friend Mark in his antique truck to the Northlake 8 AMC movie theater in Tucker, GA to buy advance tickets for opening night for the Sylvester Stallone Judge Dredd film. I was a bouncing bundle of pure enthusiasm, and something about that experience in my history has always stuck in my memory. Sorry to say, my memory has lasted far longer than my enthusiasm did. The movie sets and costumes looked good, but beyond the surface, it just didn't turn out to have much to do with the character of Judge Dredd.

After all these years, I felt I owed it to the character to give his new movie, cleverly titled Dredd, a fair shake. I'm pleased to say that the new Dredd movie treats the lawman better this time around. I was the only person in the building at yesterday's 4:30 showing at Newnan's Carmike 10 theater, and I can tell you that 100% of the audience was enthusiastically entertained. I even applauded appreciatively when Karl Urban as Dredd finally yelled "I am the law" the proper way: with his helmet on.

The movie is a small, day-in-the-life action story about what it must be like to be the toughest cop in a very violent world. The limited scope of the story is far more suited to the absurdist crime-story millieu historically associated with the characters than its big-budget predecessor. And though the limited budget did result in more limited costuming and visual effects (no robots or flying cars!), it added to a more claustrophobic environment which should be expected in Mega-City One, population 800 million.

The film may not have restored the lost enthusiasm of my youth, but I did enjoy it and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone who likes gory, stylish action films about foreign comic book characters. You know who you are.

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Only 10 movies in August. I could blame the Olympics or the fact that I've been really busy at work. So I will.

203. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
I saw the later version of this movie earlier this year and didn't like it. I felt the earlier, Best Picture-winning version deserved a look, too. These are two, wildly different movies. I can't say that I want to see either one of them ever again.

204. The Wild Bunch (1969)
Several times during this movie, I felt like I was watching Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Maybe because both glorified loyalty among thieves, or maybe because both came out in 1969, there's something very similar about these two films.

205. Black Dynamite (2009)
Hysterical send-up of the Blaxploitation films of the 70s. Highly recommended.

206. Intolerance (1916)
I played L.A. Noire this month, and the set from Intolerance plays a key backdrop. So of course I had to watch the film, the first silent film I've watched in 2012. It was worth a look, though D.W. Griffith clearly had no idea how to edit his complicated anthology piece into a comprehensible narrative.

207. The Birth of a Nation (1915)
While I was investigating Intolerance, I kept catching references to its inspiration, this movie. So I watched this, too. It's a far better movie than Intolerance, but I have a hard time believing that its ridiculously over-the-top presentation of the Reconstruction South really inspired the rebirth of the KKK. But then I still find people who say they liked Michael Bay's Transformers movies, so maybe, yeah.

208. The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
Commonly mentioned in the breath following Citizen Kane, I'd been waiting to see this film for awhile. I think it starts great, and I loved the first 30 minutes. Then the movie sort of loses a little direction and limps to the end. I enjoyed it, but was left ultimately unsatisfied.

209. Rashomon (1950)
Finding myself forced to watch fewer films, I tried to be more discriminating. Rashomon was a Kurosawa film I hadn't seen, and I really enjoyed it. Mother was far less forgiving, openly insulting the movie at several instances as she passed through the room. I don't know what she saw that made her so dismissive of the film, but she clearly didn't like something.

210. My Dog Tulip (2009)
This animated film about a British man and his relationship with his German Shepherd felt completely authentic. I gave my poodles a big hug afterwards.

211. American Grindhouse (2010)
This documentary investigates the history of exploitation films in America and the motivation behind their creation. It was both enlightening and informative; I now have a list of new movies to seek out.

212. Vampires Suck (2010)
This movie wants to be Airplane to the Twilight movies, but succeeds only in being the Robin Hood: Men in Tights to Robin Hood: PRince of Thieves. The situations and sight gags, almost all directly inspired by shots in the Twilight movies, are hysterical. The dialogue, on the other hand, is terrible. Definitely more fun to look at than listen to.

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The arrival of the Olympics sort of killed my momentum with movies. Watching occasionally-live sports for 8 hours a day is surprisingly addictive. Personally, I blame Michael Phelps, who seems to be swimming every night in his quest to win more medals than anyone else in the history of the world. At the rate he's collecting precious metals, I figure he must be stockpiling for the coming apocalypse.

Anyway, let's just go ahead and get the rest of July out of the way. Enjoy it while it lasts. If the Olympics are any indication, movie-watching will come to a complete halt when football season finally arrives next month.

199. DOA: Dead or Alive (2006)
Maybe this is the best video game movie ever made. Watching real sexy girls fight is far more entertaining than watching computer-generated girls fight. And not a zombie in sight!

200. Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope (2011)
This Morgan Spurlock documentary about Comic Con spends a lot of time emphasizing that the one-time king of comic book conventions is really now all about television and movies. That's no secret to those of us who have been paying attention for years, and is the main reason that I no longer want to attend the Con.

201. The Big Trees (1952)
Kirk Douglas plays a manipulative businessman in this movie, more the type of role that his son, Micheal, specializes in. They laugh alike, they walk alike, at times they even talk alike! What a crazy pair!

202. The Gamma People (1956)
This little British sci-fi flick takes place in a small, Eastern European kingdom that reminded me of the setting for Gymkata. Forget Total Recall; we're far overdue for a remake Gymkata!

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The third dozen movies seen this July (and the month isn't quite over yet!)

187. Alice Adams (1935)
Drew Barrymore recommended this movie on The Essentials on TCM. Credit where it's due, this is a much better movie than most Drew Barrymore movies.

188. Bride Wars (2009)
Everything about this movie is ridiculously contrived. I know that as a guy, I'm not supposed to "get" weddings -- a fact the movie quickly and frequently reinforces -- but I don't even get this movie.

189. The Sweetest Thing (2002)
This movie recycled so many of the same crude jokes in its desperate bid to be Something About Mary II, the producers even cast Cameron Diaz in the lead role.

190. In Time (2011)
Justin Timberlake as social-crusading action hero? Yeah, sure, what the hell.

191. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)
Let me open by saying that I really enjoy the original Wall Street. It is the only Oliver Stone film I will admit to actually liking, and that statement includes this sequel. All the unnecessarily arty cgi and what feels like a tacked-on feel-good ending dilute the movie's "fuck the system" message. I was left wondering why I had bothered to watch a 2-1/2 hour movie starring Shia LaBouf. Joke's on me, I guess.

192. Slacker (1991)
I distinctly remember being wildly curious about this film when I first saw it on the shelves of my local Blockbuster in 1993. I didn't watch the film then, and that's probably a good thing. There is no way I would have appreciated the message then. I've long been under the delusion that all people get crazy as they get older. This film clearly illustrates that people start out crazy.

193. Peyton Place (1957)
Mom talks about Peyton Place as being quite taboo when she was a youngster growing up in a small town. And no wonder. It's a good, big screen soap opera, with family discord, rape, murder, and an over-bearing orchestrated score.

194. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
I'd seen the original Swedish movie already, and I looked forward to comparing the two. The American version looks good and builds its story well, but I was very disappointed in its spoon-feeding the resolution to the audience. Now I'm going to have to read the book to find out which was more loyal.

195. 200 Cigarettes (1999)
Think Empire Records but with less emotion and worse dialogue. And for a movie named after cigarettes, why doesn't anyone in the film look like they enjoy smoking them? (Only in the finale does Ben Affleck even looks like he knows what to do with one.)

196. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman is brilliant, but I don't think I could stomach multiple viewings of any of his films. (One more note: I found Kate Winslet's character completely unlikable. That means I spend this entire movie yelling at Jim Carrey to shut up and get over her. He didn't. I'm not putting myself through that again.)

197. The Big Year (2011)
Reviews of this movie gave me the impression that it would suck, but a cast of fine character actors injected this bittersweet comedy with a lot of life. I liked it.

198. D.O.A. (1950)
I liked this, too. The protagonist solves a typically convoluted film-noir plot by process of elimination. Careening clumsily from one suspect to another like a runaway pinball, he solves his own murder only after all other possibilities are eliminated. Deserves its place among the film-noir classics.

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Twelve more for July 2012:

175. The Thin Man (1934)
Seeing the c-list actors they assigned to round out its cast, it's obvious immediately that MGM didn't expect this film to be great. Myrna Loy and William Powell are so adorable together, it's hard to believe that the company didn't recognize the film would be a sure-fire hit as soon as the cameras started rolling. Highly recommended.

176. Frankenstein 80 (1972)
Every few years, someone tries to update the old monster stories by adjusting the science or politics. In this case, the modern "science" is a bottle of neon-blue juice instead of lightning. Wow. Too bad Mary Shelly didn't think of that.

177. The Ides of March (2011)
Dad watched this movie and told me it sucked. Trey watched this movie and told me it was great. It's a pretty damn cynical movie, and of course I liked it.

178. Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)
Sweet, sweet Emma Stone. I never, ever want to meet you in person. You cannot possibly be as awesome in real life as you are on the silver screen.

179. The Naked City (1948)
IMDB.com recommended this to me because I watched In Cold Blood. This movie is like a 2-hour Dragnet episode. In other words, it's awesome.

180. 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964)
Tony Randall must have been quite a power broker to get MGM to make this vanity project. Sure, the makeup and effects are great, but there's not enough pancake makeup in the world to disguise 2-hours of tired sight gags as plot. Very boring.

181. East of Eden (1955)
Really, I hate Steinbeck's stories. If he were writing today, his work would be called teen fiction. "Oh, what is my place in life? Why is this happening to me?" Repeat for 200 pages, close book. Ugh. At least now I've seen the complete filmography of James Dean as a lead actor. All three of them. What a shame.

182. My Favorite Year (1982)
I don't think I've ever seen a movie set behind-the-scenes of television/movies/radio/theater that I didn't enjoy. (Heck, The Player, Radioland Murders, Noises Off! are some of my favorite films.) Add this to the stack.

183. Sullivan's Travels (1941)
Another behind-the-scenes of Hollywood that manages to be a comedy and a message movie at the same time. The third act seemed a little long, but writer/director Preston Sturges is trying to make a point. Since the first two acts built up such good will, I'm not willing to pick a fault with it. I think, in fact, I'll seek out more Preston Sturges movies.

184. 41 (2012)
This documentary on the life of George H.W. Bush relies entirely on interviews with the man himself, and is therefore less robust than I would have hoped. More autobiography than journalism.

185. Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
I'd been trying to decide if I wanted to watch this movie for years. After seeing Ryan Gosling in two other movies this week, I decided to take the plunge. Gosling is impressive in the role, and the film is gently sincere. I'd gladly recommend it, but I'm not sure I could sit through it again.

186. Sex and the Single Girl (1964)
Yes, Natalie Wood was sexy. No, I still don't like her. This movie is what passed for a raunchy sex comedy in the 60s, being some combination of risque vaudeville routines and leftover It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World slapstick from the year before. I'm no fan of Mad, Mad World, which like this movie fails to respect the old truism about the relationship between brevity and wittiness. Listen, Hollywood: nothing is funny for 3 hours.

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Movie watching in July is off to a big start with more than one watched each day. Therefore I'll be breaking the movies into blocks of a dozen or so. Here's the first batch:

163. Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
Ok. I finally get the reason people find James Dean so appealing. He sparkles in this role.

164. Armored (2009)
A straightforward action film with a great cast. I chose to watch it for Fred Ward, but I stayed for the Matt Dillon.

165. Cannibal! The Musical (1993)
The first film by South Park creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Damn, they always knew what funny was, even if they didn't quite know how to make movies.

166. Night Tide (1961)
Look out, serial-killing mermaids! IMDB.com calls this movie a mystery/romance. I call it a suspense/thriller. Either way, young Dennis Hopper is the draw, not the quasi-supernatural plot.

167. The Breed (2006)
Trey selected this movie for us because it is a horror movie with dogs as the monsters. Even though that meant that the protagonists are permitted to kill the dogs without qualifying for the "kicking the dog" trope, it still wasn't a good (or smart) movie.

168. She Gods of Shark Reef (1958)
This Roger Corman b-movie filmed in Hawaii was made on the theory that plot and character development are unnecessary if the setting is pretty. The movie successfully disproves that theory.

169. Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One (1968)
I was surprised when Trey walked out on this experimental art film. Theoretically, the themes of this film tie into his theater major in college. In fact, this is exactly the sort of film that Bill Marriott would have shown my art school us in his classes. I don't think I would have understood it then, either.

170. Picnic (1955)
This is the perfect example of the "man versus himself and the American Dream" drama that I typically find quite boring. I think if you don't associate strongly with the protagonist, this sort of film can be an excruciating experience. James Dean's interpretation of this type of character resonates in Rebel Without a Cause, but I thought William Holden was just too damn old for his role as an angsty 30-year-old to make it work for me here.

171. In Cold Blood (1967)
Part of the reason I watched this was to judge whether I wanted to read any of writer Truman Capote's books. I think maybe I do, but I'll start with Breakfast at Tiffany's instead.

172. The Talk of the Town (1942)
I think I probably should have liked this more than I did. Maybe it just felt too contrived to me, although what Cary Grant comedy doesn't? Maybe I was just in a bad mood that day.

173. Mogambo (1953)
I've had more fun learning about what went on behind the scenes of this movie -- affairs with Grace Kelly, spats between Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra and director Glen Ford -- than I had watching it. Both the leading ladies are great, but, damn, Clark Gable, get over yourself, man.

174. The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
I'll be honest: I've never really cared for Sinatra as a singer. It just does't grab me. But I think I cannot deny that I really enjoy him as an actor. With apologies to Denzel Washington, this film is far superior to the recent remake.

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Halfway through the year, it's time for statistics! Specifically, I was wondering what I've been watching this year. So here's a few notes on the year so far, broken down by month:

I suspected that I'd watch few films with my favorite actors in them, as I've already seen most of their movies. (How many movies has Bruce Campbell been in that I haven't already seen?) That has proven to be roughly the case. The following list shows the actors I've seen the most each month, and the number of films I watched them in.

Definitely, I have a preference for comedies. I've seen 47 movies I've categorized as comedies and 36 dramas. In only two out of six months, I've seen more dramas than comedies. In those two months, comedy was the runner-up category.

So far, the only month in which I've seen multiple movies by the same director was February, when I saw the original A Star Is Born and the very excellent The Ox-Bow Incident, both by William Wellman. While I've seen multiple films by 10 different directors, I've yet to see 3 films from any single director.

The only month in which I've seen multiple movies from the same writer was March, when I watched the 4 Twilight Saga movies adapted for screen by Melissa Rosenberg. After watching 163 movies, I've seen multiple movies from only 3 different writers.

We'll take another look at the films at the end of the year and see who ends up atop the pile.

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To be continued...

 

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