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Mom's been out of town, and I've had free reign of the television. As a result, my movie watching for February has been a little out of control. Why should I watch two hours of network-clogging police forensic procedurals when I can watch half a movie instead? Therefore, I'm going to go ahead and start listing some of my February movies instead of sticking all of them in one really list at the end of the month.

13. (320.) The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
This was John Huston's take on the caper film. As a director, Huston is hit or miss with me, as his movies generally contain some elements that I love and some I hate, making each film a mixed bag that's hard for me to fully embrace. This movie, half boring and half genius, was no exception.

14. (321.) The Cockeyed Miracle (1946)
Another Grimmy suggestion, probably the best yet. If you like Harvey, you'll love this film.

15. (322.) That's My Boy (2012)
I can't say that Adam Sandler isn't trying these days. The problem in this film is that he's trying too hard to recapture the magic of Billy Madison and The Wedding Singer, and the strain of effort is showing. This is better than Jack and Jill, but that's about as lukewarm an endorsement as you are ever likely to find.

16. (323.) Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
On the other hand, this movie is fantastic, assuming you have the patience for "realistic" spy thrillers that focus on the intrigue and not the action. Gary Oldman is superb, and I don't mind at all that I was completely wrong in my guesses at who the saboteurs were.

17. (324.) The Five-Year Engagement (2012)
A romantic comedy, Judd Apatow/Jason Segel style. Equal parts gross and funny, but as all romantic comedies, it is always headed exactly where you expect it to be going so you don't really have to pay much attention.

18. (325.) The Black Dahlia (2006)
This is indubitably the basis for the storyline in the L.A. Noire video game, which tells it much, much better. This movie, in fact, is quite bad, and if it is anything like James Ellroy's novel, I never need to read anything he has written. Ugh. L.A. Confidential this is not.

19. (326.) Hysteria (2011)
A cute comedy built about the invention of the personal vibrator. As a kid, I always figured that there must be more to the personal vibrators that I often saw advertised as "health aids." (I was a... curious child.) If only this movie could have been released when I was 12, I think I'd probably be a little better adjusted to sex than I am.

20. (327.) The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)
Oh, Natalie Portman, I do believe that you could be a totally manipulative bitch who schemes to have sex with kings. Thank you.

21. (328.) Let's Go to Prison (2006)
Some movies are just meant to waste some time with a couple of chuckles. That's cool.

22. (329.) TRON: Legacy (2010)
This film is only as good as the nifty neon visuals. The plot is really thin and isn't supported by much in the way of acting. Olivia Wilde, will I never see you in a movie where you are anything more than an awkwardly shoehorned excuse for eye candy? I can live with that if you can.

23. (330.) Our Idiot Brother (2011)
I think this movie might have been misadvertised. In other hands, it could have been a sappy Lifetime film or a raunchy Apatow production. As it was, it ends up being a rather gentle adult comedy. I'm not going to lie; I laughed insanely at the dialogue in the candle shop.

24. (331.) The Game Plan (2007)
Depending on your point of view, the Rock either has the best agent, who manages to keep him working, or the worst agent, who only gives him movies like this. I'll sum this crapfest up thusly: at the end of the movie, the audience is expected to cheer for the protagonist being guilted into the same selfish behavior that the audience was expected to boo during the rest of the film. Maybe the producers figured anyone stupid enough to pay to watch this would be too stupid to notice.

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The second half of the November movie list:

276. The Descendants (2001)
Brilliant. The second Clooney film I've seen this year and the second I've loved. Does he make bad movies?

277. Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
Suggested by Grimmy, this movie picks up speed when the bodies start piling up in the second half. Grimmy has recommended several films this year, and they have all been worth watching. Thanks, Grim.

278. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Three great movies in a row? I was on a hot streak here, although I have to admit to stacking the deck with a Wes Anderson film.

Quote: "I love you but you don't know what you're talking about."

I'm sure everyone reading this knows I love Wes Anderson films. If you didn't, you do now.

279. Paper Man (2009)
Yes, I watched this film because Emma Stone is in it, but it is Ryan Reynolds who manages to steal the film as an imaginary super hero. This is a classic case of a thin script much improved by some charismatic actors.

280. Network (1976)
This movie is so cynical, it makes me look like sunshine. None of the characters in this film talks like a real human being, but that's part of it's charm. I'm sure this film must be a huge influence on the work of Aaron Sorkin. I can't believe that this film was written by the same writer behind Marty.

281. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008)
And the string of enjoyable films comes to an abrupt end. I gotta give the movie credit, it's better than the book. However, that doesn't take a whole lot of work.

282. Hobo with a Shotgun (2011)
If had been made in the decade it simulates, it would be a Troma film. So much gore... are you sure this is Canadian?

283. Victor/Victoria (1982)
My friend Otto recommended this a long time ago because of my appreciation for Robert Preston. Preston is indeed great, but James Garner was so unromantic as the male romantic lead, I found it hard to pay attention to the end. Jim Rockford, you're better than this.

284. The Three Musketeers (2011)
Victor Hugo for the video game generation, this film is fantastic eye candy. In the first 15 minutes, the film rips off The Princess Bride, A Fistful of Dollars, and Hudson Hawk. Bizarre.

285. John Carter (2012)
Superb character animation in this very loose adaptation of the Edgar Rice Boroughs classic. You know something has gone horribly wrong when The Asylum is putting out movies more loyal to the source material than you are.

286. Liz & Dick (2012)
This film is the Wikipedia of biopics. The relationship between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton is defined only by its high- and lowlights. I've never liked Liz Taylor, but even I have to say that Lindsay Lohan isn't fit to portray her. To quote Liz in the movie, "I'm bored."

287. Camelot (1967)
This musical uses songs to advance its plot and characterization as all good musicals should. Too bad that Richard Harris' voice isn't up to the amount of singing required of him.

288. The Wrong Man (1956)
Hitchcock's idea of a true crime drama. Hard to believe that anyone could ever mistake Henry Fonda for a criminal.

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The final 11 movies from October:

251. Drag Me to Hell (2009)
The story in this Sam Raimi thriller is just an excuse to get from one gory scene to another. It's like watching a slasher horror film from the 80s. You know, like the kind directed by Sam Raimi.

252. It's a Dog's Life (1955)
This weird little melodrama tells the story of the life of a surprisingly well-educated dog from the streets of New York City. There's a surprising amount of violence and misogyny early in the movie. The script probably could have used a few more rewrites; it took awhile for me to realize that the movie was simply trying to describe the dog's hardships, not suggest that violence was the way out of poverty.

253. The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)
Supposedly the oldest surviving animated feature film, this German silent is quite well done. Rather than saying "they don't make them like this anymore," I think the appropriate description would be "they only made them like this once." Impressive.

254. Final Destination 3 (2006)
In late October, it became harder to find movies on television that weren't horrors. This was the first Final Destination movie I had seen, and I hope it will be the last. I have better things to do than sit around and watch stupid people die in impossibly contrived Rube Goldberg devices. Very boring.

255. Mr. Bug Goes to Town (1941)
Okay, "they don't make them like this anymore" really is the best way to describe this Fleischer Studios feature-length animated film. The story hasn't aged well -- you can probably tell from the title that it was based on the Frank Capra stock template (yuck) -- and I suspect that even in 1941, the climax was very anticlimactic.

256. 21 Jump Street (2012)
Funnier than it had any right to be. This film attacked the fact that it was a comedy remake of a television show head-on in the first 10 minutes. I think this is the right tactic. The audience is aware of the fact, so go ahead and address it and get it out of the way. A well written surprise with very satisfying cameos from original cast members.

257. On Borrowed Time (1939)
There's something unique and charming about this film, even when an anthropomorphic Death (cutely called "Mr. Brink") tries to trick a little boy into suicide. Seriously, I liked it very much. (Are there bad movies with anthropomorphized Death? Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, Seventh Seal, Color of Magic, all good. I probably need to track down Death Takes a Holiday/Meet Joe Black.)

258. 50/50 (2011)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt seems to be in everything these days. I've certainly enjoyed his work since 3rd Rock from the Sun. I don't think he ever disappoints. Add Anna Kendrick and this movie sparkles in spite of its deeply uncomfortable subject. Don't get me wrong, this movie knows it's a comedy all the way, but it doesn't flinch from reminding us of the ultimate loneliness of our own mortality. I much enjoyed it.

259. Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)
I've heard nothing but terrible things about this franchise. So far as "zombie apocalypse" action films go, this isn't the worst I've seen. (You know how I feel about zombie films. As I said, thanks to impending Halloween, this was the only movie on tv when I wanted to watch something. So I watched it. Even given the circumstances, it could have been worse.)

260. Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956)
Everyone I know will think that I must be cheating to put this on the list, but I had seriously never seen this movie before. Now I have.

261. The Uninvited (1944)
Another recommendation by Grimmy. It's hard to believe that this suspenseful ghost story/murder mystery, reminiscent of Rebecca, wasn't directed by Hitchcock himself. The cinematography is especially impressive. Best recommendation yet, Grimmy!

That's 31 movies for the month, 1 per day! I need only to see 39 more movies in the next two months to reach 300 on the year. Get ready, eyeballs, we've got some watching to do!

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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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Movies I watched the second week in May. (This was another light week, though I'm still on pace for one movie a day on the month thanks to the heavy start.)

116. Wait Until Dark (1967)
I'd heard about how "scary" people thought this movie was before, but it is more of a Hitchcockian suspense-thriller than anything horrific. Hepburn is surprisingly believable as a blind woman, a presentation I find few actors handle capably. I'd probably watch this film again.

117. The Avengers (2012)
Um, yes. Good. I'd definitely watch this film again. I already posted my thoughts about this movie here.

118. Harry and Tonto (1974)
Should have been called "The Old Man and the Fe-line." I watched this on the recommendation of Grimmy, a contributor at Boosterrific.com. It reminds me very much of the sort of films I watched in art school. That is to say, it shares its unique vision with you, but doesn't care if you like it or not. Frankly, I think it looked like a long, crime-free episode of Kojak. Art Carney was good, but he's no Telly Savalas.

119. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)
Director Frank Capra's movie-making formula is clearly apparent in this film: unusual event causes down-to-earth fellow to go on a whirlwind tour of exaggerated "everyday" events that illuminate the human condition and drive the lead to despair before his faith in humanity is reaffirmed by the dogged determination of the love interest. Personally, I've decided that long-winded second acts are Capra's weakness. Then again, I don't need to be reminded in each film that people suck.

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To be continued...

 

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