Showing 1 - 10 of 43 posts found matching: 150 in 2012
Tuesday 28 May 2013
While I've been lately filling this blog with movies that I've watched for the first time, that doesn't mean that I don't watch movies that I've previously seen. For example, this past weekend, I re-watched 3 movies.
Even though I'm a snob, not everything I watch is highbrow. Take, for example, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I doubt that I've seen this movie in more than 20 years, although my brother owned both the video cassette and soundtrack. To be honest, I cannot remember liking this movie when it was new, watching it in a theater in Lithonia, GA. Re-watching the other day brought back mostly bad memories of my high school years. Nineteen-ninety was not a good year for me.
TMNT was clearly intended to be a kids' movie — it represents "big, dumb summer action" at its worst, and the soundtrack is so dated it ought to be wearing Hammer pants — but the puppetry is still captivating, especially when you think that these days there is NO WAY that a studio would do the turtles in anything other than CGI. While I suspect that next summer's remake will look better, I doubt it will have half as much heart. It seems to me that the remake is missing an opportunity if it doesn't find a way to include Sam Rockwell, who I was flabbergasted to see had a speaking part in the original.
Everyone who knows me knows that occasionally I open my mouth when I should really know better. In 1996, I vociferously complained that there was no way that a movie about a talking pig could be worth a Best Picture Oscar nomination. My girlfriend at the time told me I should withhold my opinion about Babe until I had seen it, so we watched it on limited re-released at the now-defunct Lefont Toco Hills Theater. I was wrong; Babe is a timeless classic. She was right about a lot of things. That's probably why I broke up with her.
(Not every movie decision she made was right, though. She realized that she had made a mistake talking me into seeing Nine Months. There is a scene in that movie in which commitment-phobe Hugh Grant fantasizes that Julianne Moore has become a giant praying mantis who plans to eat him after coitus. Upon seeing that, I swore off sex, and that proved to be a bit of a problem for her.)
I was channel surfing after lunch and caught the beginning of Grosse Point Blank, so I went ahead watched it. I have no memory of the first time I saw this film; I suspect that it was watched at the AMC North Dekalb Mall 16, which was the theater my friends and I attended the most often around that time. (Side note: I applied to be one of the inaugural employees when they were constructing that theater and was hired, but I didn't make it through training. As I recall, the management team didn't quite have its act together yet, and I decided that I didn't want to wait for them to figure it out because I needed a paycheck asap. I went to work selling calendars for the bookstore inside the mall instead.)
About the time that John Cusack's character screws up the courage to approach Minnie Driver for the first time in 10 years, Mom came into the room. We discovered that we both liked the movie but for different reasons. I liked the comedy and action, mom liked the nostalgia and romance. I credit this multifaceted awesomeness for the film's enduring popularity. It probably remains my favorite John Cusack film (although I do love One Crazy Summer). It's definitely my favorite Joan Cusack film.
Saturday 5 January 2013
These statistics from my year-long movie watching experiment in 2012 may interest no one but me, but it's my blog. So there.
First up is actors. You can see the totals for January through June here.
- July: Arthur O'Connell, Ryan Gosling (2)
- August: Lillian Gish (2)
- September: Karl Urban, Maureen O'Hara, the Thunderbirds cast (2)
- October: Jonah Hill, Lionel Barrymore, Owen Wilson, Rance Howard, Regis Toomey, Stephen Colbert (2)
- November: Tilda Swinson (2)
- December: Dee Bradley Baker, Myrna Loy, William Powell (3)
- Total: William Powell(8); Kristen Stewart, Myrna Loy (7)
Comedies continued to be the big draw for me, 82 in all. What can I say, I like to laugh. Dramas was a distant runner up overall, although there were as many months in which I watched more action movies than any other type as there were months where dramas were the leading category (2 each).
By the end of June, I hadn't seen any director's work more than two times. By the end of the year, I smashed that ceiling, seeing more than 2 films from four separate directors (W.S. Van Dyke , Frank Capra , Morgan Spurlock , David Gordon Green ). Van Dyke directed the best of the Thin Man movies, and was very skilled with giving the actors room to work and showing the clues to the mysteries, without making it entirely obvious that was what he was doing. I enjoyed his work.
Given that I've seen all 5 Twilight movie this year and that they were all written by Melissa Rosenbrerg, it seems a no-brainer than she should be the most-watched screenwriter of the year. And she was. The only other writer I saw more than twice was Frank Capra's frequent partner in crime, Robert Riskin (4). For the record, I saw multiple films from 20 different writers, and Paddy Chayefsky and William Rose both stand out from the crowd.
In case you were wondering, the studio that released most of the pictures I saw was Warner Brothers (35), although MGM (34) ran a close second. I've always had a soft spot for WB films, probably because I must share some of their sensibilities. They do own DC Comics, after all.
It must be something of the Obsessive Compulsive in me, but I really enjoyed keeping track of the movies I watched, maybe more than I enjoyed watching them. Even if I don't set any goals for 2013, I might keep tracking, just for giggles. We'll see what we shall see, won't we?
Thursday 3 January 2013
The big movie experiment of 2012 is finally complete.
299. Gun Crazy (1950)
This movie is your typical "boy loves girl, girl loves murder" story. It's obvious pretty quickly that this isn't going to end well for the boy, but isn't that always the case?
300. Another Thin Man (1939)
The Thin Man movies are easily the highlight of my 2012 movie experiment. Not a bad one in the bunch.
301. The Haunted World of El Superbeasto (2009)
I read that Rob Zombie set out to make a Scooby-Doo episode with cursing and nudity. As much fun as that may sound in concept, no one wants to watch a 90-minute long Scooby-Doo episode. As my movie-watching buddy Otto would say, "it's not very good, but at least it's long."
302. The Thin Man Goes Home (1945)
I had to get the final, unseen Thin Man in under the wire. I'm getting good at figuring out who the guilty party is in these mysteries. Too bad I've seen them all. I look forward to watching them all over again in a few years once I've forgotten who the murderers are!
303. Speak (2004)
I think having seen this movie, made when Kristen Stewart was 14, it becomes hard to defend what she does in Twilight as "acting." There is exactly one scene in this movie where Kristen briefly acts extroverted and excited, but for the rest of the film she plays the same wallflower you see when you watch her promote her films on talk shows or "act" in other movies. Is "typecasting" the right word when you're always asked to play yourself?
304. The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012)
Silly and all too short, this film seems to have been made for the DVD generation. There's far too much detail on the screen to take in with a single viewing.
305. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 (2012)
I expected to hate this direct-to-DVD adaptation of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns. And I did.
306. Justice League: Doom (2012)
Why do these television adaptations of comic book super heroes have to display super heroes as borderline weak and incompetent? This film plays with that cliche in its conclusion, but doesn't manage to salvage my irritation at several scenes of heroes acting like teenagers gone wild.
307. I Love You Again (1940)
I closed the year with a William Powell/Myrna Loy film that isn't a Thin Man movie. The pair lived up to expectations, which should be no surprise considering that they appeared in 14 movies together overall. The studio wouldn't have done that if it wasn't working.
So that's it: 307 new-to-me movies watched in 2012. That means I started a new movie, on average, nearly once every 28 hours. I don't think I'll try to break that record in 2013, so I guess I'll have to try to find something else to occupy my time. Any suggestions?
Tuesday 18 December 2012
We're nearly done with 2012, so I have a limited time left to add to my movie list. Here's December so far.
290. Gandhi (1982)
It took me three days to watch this movie. I found it very depressing. Gandhi was a great man, and to think I followed in his courageous footsteps by... sitting on my couch and watching a movie about him. Sigh.
291. Avatar (2009)
In September, a man told me that he couldn't respect my opinion about James Cameron movies because I hadn't seen Avatar. Now I've seen Avatar. And James Cameron movies still suck. (I guess that what people loved about this movie was the bright colors and 3D CGI wizardry, because it sure wasn't the script!)
292. Best Worst Movie (2009)
A documentary about the cult classic Troll 2, a movie I've never seen. Now I think I have to. If it's half as much fun as this documentary, it will be worth it.
293. Kick-Ass (2010)
I Read the comic this was based on a few years back and thought it was terrible. By portraying a somewhat more realistic public response to the ridiculous premise, this movie is better than the source material, but squanders the advantage on a silly (and poorly animated) jet pack. Ugh.
294. Walking Tall (2004)
The Rock beats people up and calls it justice. I can dig it.
295. Snowbeast (1977)
I need to cut SyFy movies some slack. This "movie" aired on television 3 decades ago, and is far, far worse than any SyFy killer giant alien shark movie. For the record, this made-for-tv movie is bad enough to come back out the other side.
296. Super Size Me (2004)
After seeing two other Morgan Spurlock movies this year, I decided I owed it to him to see the documentary that put him on the map. Ridiculous and entertaining.
297. The Forbidden Kingdom (2008)
Jackie Chan vs Jet Li in this kid's kung-fu movie. Makes me wonder whether the classic kung-fu movies it homages meant for kids?
298. A Christmas Story (1983)
Seriously, I had never seen this movie before. I have now. Anyone want to explain to me why it is an annual classic?
Thursday 6 December 2012
Twilight Saga completed. You may recall that I watched the first four back in March. Having all the other movies on my "150 in 2012" list, I knew I had to get the final one in under the wire. So I set out and paid to see the final chapter in a theater. (It's only the third movie I'd seen in a theater this year. Or the third in 5 years, depending on how big a deal you want to make out of it.)
289. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (2012)
Despite my compulsion, I was determined not to like it. My determination was quickly reinforced by the ridiculous "super-powered" Bella scenes and CGI baby at the start of the movie. Roger Corman used better effects than that.
My suspension of disbelief was further tested by the cozy, ivy-covered cottage in the woods that served as the lovenest of our teen-aged vampire protagonists. Who knew they had working power and running water deep in the forests of the Pacific Northwest? Is that what vampires do at night when they aren't sleeping: build cottages in the woods?
And I tried hard not to actually think about the story in this, the fifth installment of the Twilight movie franchise, because there isn't much of one. The new baby gets threatened so a bunch of vampires team up to... talk about it. Hooray! It'd be like watching C-Span if the Speaker of the House wore robes and sparkled.
Of course, despite all my problems with the film and the franchise, I still enjoyed the movie. It's probably the best experience of the bunch, with better pacing and heavy emphasis on super powers (often feeling similar to X-Men: First Class). It's a Grimm fairy tale in the truest sense, with plenty of gore and dismemberment. Fun, as they say, for the whole family.
Ultimately, I enjoyed my time in the Twilight. If that makes me a 15-year-old girl at heart, so be it.
Tuesday 4 December 2012
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 was written by the same writer behind Marty.
Hard to believe that corporations now rule the world? Wash down your disappointment with Coke!
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.
Monday 26 November 2012
Last month I said "I think the only Capra film I haven't seen that I may still consider watching is Lost Horizon, which I have heard was a colossal bomb." Mission accomplished.
275. Lost Horizon (1937)
This thing has a 7.7 rating on IMDB, which only goes to show that the voters at IMDB hate movies. I can sum up its three acts thusly:
Act I: some Englishmen are kidnapped to an apparent Utopia for mysterious reasons. There's war, a plane hijacking, desert refueling, a crash landing.... And that's in just the first 45 minutes! Not that Act I doesn't have its moments, but they are really really... drawn... out. I'm sure the pacing was intentional to emphasize the mystery.
Act II: the "mysterious reason" turns out to be a forced romance between our hero and a clever, beautiful woman in an ageless land with no strife. Beautiful women? Near eternal life? Horror of horrors! Act II makes the argument that the struggle of day-to-day living in the hustle and bustle of modern society is what kills us. Capra gives us elaborate sets and brief character pieces of people learning to take joy in everyday activities like sheep-shearing and plumbing in the hopes that we won't take the time to question whether anyone ever died before the Industrial Revolution.
Act III: the people who hate the idea of living forever, all clumsily painted as monsters or crackpots in the first two acts, drag our hero out of paradise. What suspense! If only this weren't a Capra film, where we already know that our hero will be rewarded for his selfless acts. Final dialogue: "Here's my hope that we all find our Shangri-La." I found mine when the screen finally said "The End."
Here ends my investigations of the films of Frank Capra. I've seen 4 Capra films this year, the most of any director to this point. Even the action movie Dirigible, with its Fay Wray love triangle that has you rooting for the other guy to steal the woman from the hero, contained too much artificial sweetener for my taste.
I'm sure by now that I've seen the best that Mr. Capra has to offer in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Every movie he made -- even screwball comedies like Arsenic and Old Lace -- seems to be some variation on the theme which I will glibly summarize as "cynicism defeated by love." I'm sure that there is a wide audience for Capra's kind of movie, but I'm not in it. Frank Capra simply doesn't have enough love to overcome my cynicism.
Sunday 18 November 2012
Since we're over halfway through the month, I might as well post the films I watched in the first half of November so that I don't get backed up posting them all at the beginning of December (as happened for October/November).
262. Kraken: Tentacles of the Deep (2006)
Film in a nutshell: a giant squid protects an ancient artifact. Seriously, the whole thing was created as an excuse to fill some empty time slot on SyFy's schedule.
263. Dance Flick (2009)
The Wayans never really stopped making In Living Color. The family just took their parody spoofs into movie theaters and weaved a loose narrative around them.
264. Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! (2004)
I remember wanting to see this when it came out. Sure, it was sappy and predictable, but I was still entertained.
265. M (1931)
Now this film is art! The cinematography is amazing, especially given the film's age.
266. Super Shark (2011)
Poor John Schneider. Last time I saw him, he was playing a man crusading against evil corporations releasing super killer sharks. Here he plays the head of an evil corporation that releases super killer sharks. At least he's not typecast.
I don't want to oversell it, but the highlight of the film takes place shortly before a very, very slow walking tank was employed to attack a very, very slow crawling shark on a beach. A scientist, a colonel, and a boat captain watch a giant shark jump out of the ocean and eat a jet plane:
Scientist: "It flies!"
Colonel: "That's bad!"
Captain: "I need a drink!"
267. Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008)
Greg Evigan steals scenes from The Core while a bunch of actresses I've never seen before reenact scenes from Jurassic Park with a touch of chest-bursting Alien thrown in for good measure. You know, just like the Jules Verne novel.
268. Princess of Mars (2009)
In another knockoff of a big budget film, Traci Lords plays the titular character. (Giggle.)
269. Goon (2011)
This film was released to Video on Demand before it hit theaters in the US, usually a sign of a terrible film. But damn, this was genuinely entertaining and funny. It tries really hard to be a 21st-century Slap Shot and doesn't fall too short.
270. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
I loved this truly great character piece. There is not typically a lot of suspense in John Huston films because justice is always ultimately served. However, the way this film briefly toys with defining the protagonist as a nice twist.
271. Dear John (2010)
The "happy" ending seemed completely out of place, something that a quick internet search confirmed as a last minute studio response to negative preview audience reactions. Where do they find these preview audiences? This movie went on to make a bunch of money, so what do I know.
272. Poseidon (2006)
Everything about remake of The Poseidon Adventure is absurd, but I was always more partial to its sequel, Beyond the Poseidon Adventure, anyway.
273. The Last Man on Earth (1964)
The "vampires" in this movie sure act suspiciously like the zombies in Night of the Living Dead. I'm sure that's no coincidence. (I should also point out that this film has our hero kill his newly befriended miniature poodle just to demonstrate how difficult and lonely it is to be the Last Man on Earth. This is the second movie I've seen this year that "Kicks the Dog" by killing a miniature poodle. To be fair, at least this time it was a vampire miniature poodle.)
274. Tower Heist (2011)
Eddie Murphy is always at his best playing a supporting character, but how did Alan Alda, Matthew Broderick, and Judd Hirsch also all end up in this silly caper flick?
Monday 5 November 2012
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!
Thursday 1 November 2012
The middle of three lists of movies for October.
241. Exporting Raymond (2010)
I must be the exception that proves the rule that Everybody Loves Raymond, but I did very much enjoy this documentary of the attempt to adapt the American sitcom for a Russian audience. Thanks for that recommendation, Randy.
242. Mean Girls (2004)
This was the movie that launched Tina Fey into the popular consciousness. It's not a bad teen comedy, but it's not an outstanding teen comedy, either. (Teen comedies, romantic comedies, and Frank Capra movies: if you've seen one, you've seen all of them.)
243. Blind Alibi (1938)
A sculptor interested in recovering some sensitive documents hidden in some art decides to pose as a blind man and buy a seeing-eye dog so that the museum will give him 24-hour, unfettered access to the museum collection. Yeah, it could happen.
244. Black Swan (2010)
Every shot in this film was a close-up of something, making the whole thing feel hideously claustrophobic. I thought this approach was odd in a movie set in the world of ballet, an art I typically associate with plenty of open space. I'm filing this in the category of "good movies I never want to see again."
245. Bewitched (2005)
The first of 3 television-to-movie adaptations that I watched this month (not counting the documentary mentioned above), and the least artistically successful of the three. This film spends so much time paying homage to the source material, it never really establishes its own identity as a separate story. It just sort of... is.
246. The Tuxedo (2002)
I caught this movie almost accidentally one night while trying to meet a deadline at work. Given its rather bland action scenes and broad humor, I would have expected it to be made for children except for the frequent sex jokes. Maybe it was meant immature adults. That's a pretty large audience, I guess.
247. The Great McGinty (1940)
A very enjoyable send-up of big city city politics. Highly recommended.
248. This is Cinerama (1952)
Cinerama was a precursor to Imax. This documentary promoting the concept leads with its strength, a roller coaster ride (specifically the Atom Smasher from Playland at Rockaway Beach, NY, which was dismantled in 1985) then limps through another hour-and-a-half of opera singers, landscapes, and tourist footage of Cypress Gardens (that closed on September 23, 2009, to be replaced by Legoland Florida on October 15, 2011). The film is generally booor-ring, but obviously I find the amusement park connections interesting.
249. Contraband (2012)
Mark Wahlberg stars as exactly the kind of character you expect to find Mark Wahlberg cast in a film that was somewhat better than I was expecting. There are no "good guys" in this film pitting bad guys against bad guys. I don't know if this is an endorsement, but I'm sure my father would like it.
250. I Spy (2002)
Ever seen Shanghai Noon? Replace Jackie Chan with Eddie Murphy, bring the movie into the 21st century, and you've seen this movie. I think it's weird that this movie is more like another movie than the television series it was based on, but I guess this is more loyal to the source material than Starsky & Hutch. Maybe Wilson should just stay away from tv-to-movie properties.