Sep 20, 2016

'The First Wives Club' Turns 20!

The First Wives Club, the greatest film of all time, was released 20 years ago today. Go watch it. It's amazing. And be glad that, thanks to the power of Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn is finally coming out of retirement!

I love to be free

And heed the words of the only good Trump (Ivana): Don't get mad. Get everything.

Aug 8, 2016

It's Been a While

Hey, e'erybody!  I haven't posted anything in about 5 months, which means this blog is basically on life support with very little chance of recovery. After a year of watching a movie a day, I entered into 2016 with a little bit of Pop Culture Fatigue (Or PCF). That PCF was compounded by a year that kept thwarting me at every turn with celebrity deaths, disappointing films (some original, some the newest entries in franchises that are wheezing to their conclusions), and an American political system that really makes you question the whole idea of democracy.

However, with the Olympics, and Netflix's Stranger Things, and a fall TV slate that seems appealing, I'm starting to crawl out and embrace the world again. Which is a long way of saying that I'm officially returning to this page for an indeterminate period of time to write about all things poppy once more. I mean, where else can I express my complicated thoughts about the Gilmore Girls reboot?

PCF be damned.


Mar 18, 2016

'She's The Man' Turns 10

She's the Man is now a 10-year-old movie. Which makes me feel old, but also officially makes the movie a classic, since it totally holds up.  In honor of its anniversary, here are 10 legit reasons you should watch/rewatch this gem:

Amanda Bynes!
This is her finest moment. Bynes gets to showcase her sassy charm AND her amazing physical comedy skills. 

Soccer That's Fun to Watch!
Between this and Bend it Like Beckham, soccer is basically the go-to sport for female empowerment.

Channing Tatum!
He's so charming and dumb. Also, this movie came out about 6 months before Step Up, so it's really the last role of Tatum's before he rocketed to superstardom.

Best Modern Shakespeare Adaptation Ever!
Yeah, I love 10 Things I Hate About You. But this reimagining of Twelfth Night has so much more spunk and personality. It's also written by the same screenwriters, so let's not make this a competition.  Plus, 10 Things I Hate About You didn't have...

David Cross!
Sure, he's sidelined for the majority of the movie, but he's a fun side character who gets to tell the world about the silent sufferers of Alopecia. It's not never-nude territory, but it's still very real.

Lots of Mrs. Doubtfire Goodness!
And by that, I mean there is a ton of fun with cross-dressing. The movie basically has 50 shower scenes that Bynes' Viola has to navigate.  And then there's a kissing booth scene and a strategically used bouncy house. It's all good fun. Plus, there's even a scene where Viola gets a makeover to look like her brother. It's a montage, and it's excellent.

Fun with Tampons!
Seriously, they're very absorbent.

Vinnie Jones!
Vinnie "I'm the Juggernaut, Bitch" Jones plays the soccer coach, and he's a delight. He's just as gruff and ornery as he is in every other movie in which he appears, but he also has this egalitarian spirit and harrumph-y charm that wins you over.

Okay, this was already listed, but it bears repeating how funny and sweet she is in this movie. Sure, when she cross-dresses she looks like a pre-pubescenet Zac Efron, but even that doesn't hide her awesome.

A Delightfully Pro-Feminist Message!
Sure, the film gets a little weighed down by the "I'm a girl pretending to be a boy" premise, but there is a strong message in the film about following your dreams (like High School Musical, but with less auto-tune) regardless of how right or wrong they appear to the people around you. Women can be rough-and-tumble and hate cotillions, Men can be in touch with their feelings.

So go watch She's the Man. And, if possible, watch it on DVD with the commentary track on, because it's a really good one.

Feb 29, 2016

30 Rock's Perfect Leap Day Episode

In order to wash the acrid taste that Stacey Dash's appearance at the Oscars has left in my mouth...


And on this extra day, let's take some time and remember a perfect episode of television that was gifted to us four short years ago. Now, 30 Rock is one of my favorite shows, and it will no doubt be remembered throughout all time for its great jokes, pacing, and commitment to a bit. But I also hope it will be remembered for giving us "Leap Day," an episode of TV dedicated to the most magical day of all – February 29!

"It's Leap Day. Real life is for March!"

Back in 2012, 30 Rock was in the midst of Season 6, in which pretty much every other episode revolves around a major holiday. That doesn't change with this ep, which revolves around everyone's favorite holiday (of the holidays that only occur every four years).

"God grant you on this leap day fair / a calm wind and the ocean air 
Leap Day magic's all around / as Leap Day William comes to town"

Creating a holiday from scratch is no easy task, and director Steve Buscemi and writer Luke Del Tredici throw themselves into crafting a compelling celebration that feels real and lived in, with enough bits and pieces of other holidays and traditions thrown in to film familiar.

"Leap Day William, Leap Day William, Bursting from the sea / 
Will he bring his bucket of sweets for Mom and Pop and me?"

At the center of the holiday is Leap Day William, a part-fish demon-like old man who emerges from the Mariana Trench every four years. He then proceeds to trade children's tears for candy (and, in a simpler time, cigarettes). On the scale of creepy requirements for giving out gifts to children, it lies somewhere between Santa demanding good behavior and the Tooth Fairy requiring your old dead molars. However, his disturbingly realistic gills on his neck and sharp fangs put him more in the Krampus category of holiday deities.

"Poke your eye, pull your hair, you forgot what clothes to wear."
"Stomp on your foot, kick you in the knee. Yankees suck, Go Pats."

The holiday also requires celebrants to wear a specific color combination in order to avoid a shaming from fellow Leap Dayers. Thankfully it's the fairly flattering combo of Blue and Yellow (I would happily smack the Irishman who decided I have to wear green while celebrating some dude named Patrick even though the color makes me look sallow).

Seeing the cast wearing primary colors brings a tear of joy to my eyes and warms my heart. It's a Leap Day miracle!

"Hey, take a leap, pal!"

Like all good holidays, there's also a movie that teaches people exciting life lessons. In 30 Rock, that film is Leap Dave Williams, starring Jim Carrey and Andie MacDowell. It's mostly a play on The Santa Clause with a bit of Groundhog Day and Liar Liar thrown in for good measure. An uptight lawyer (Dave Williams – Carrey) falls into an ice-fishing hole and turns into Leap Day William. He then proceeds to learn some valuable lessons, reconnect with his son, and solve "the big case from earlier." Because, as Andie MacDowell so pointedly says, real life is for March. If you've never seen it, USA Network has got you covered – they're running a 24-hour marathon!

"I am always coughing up blood. Could that be Leap Day William trying to get out?"

Stripped of all the ceremony and wacky hijinks, the Day of Leap is really a wonderful occasion that brings out the best in people. It's an extra day where you can take chances and do things you normally wouldn't do, like have sex with a billionaire for money, listen to rap music, or eat rhubarb leaves. It's also a day for spreading love, candy, and kindness. Even Tracy gets into the giving spirit, ignoring the fact that he's not getting a Leap Day bonus and spreading Benihana cheer to the homeless and less fortunate (one of whom is played by the delightful Hannibal Buress). 

"It's a Leap Day Miracle!"
"Nothing's impossible on Leap Day!"

Leap Day is a time for family. It's a time for joy. It's a time for eating that giant rhubarb in the Citarella window – the one as big as Kenneth! And remember...

"Nothing that happens on Leap Day counts."

Merry Leap Day to us all!

Feb 27, 2016

2016 Best Picture Nominees: Part 2

With the Oscars (and the Independent Spirit Awards) nipping at our heels, it's time to review the final four movies nominated for Best Picture. And, because I love you and my own free time, I'm going to be quick about it:

The Martian
Starring Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig (!), Sebastian Stan, Donald Glover (!!), Chiwetel Ejiofor, and someone who is Jeff Daniels or Jeff Bridges or Beau Bridges
Directed by Ridley Scott, Written by Drew Goddard
Story: Based on the novel of the same name, The Martian tells the story of botanist Mark Watney (Damon), who must brave the harsh Mars atmosphere and survive after being accidentally abandoned by his crew (he is presumed dead after a dust storm). Will NASA realize their mistake? Will his crew (led by Interstellar's Murph Jessica Chastain) come back for him? Will the Asian-American characters in the book be played by white actors? The answer to those questions may surprise you. JK, the answer to all of them are "YES."
Pros: This is a movie anchored by long soliloquys from Watney, who passes his time on Mars by listening to disco music and recording everything he does for posterity. That kind of monologuing could be incredibly boring to watch, but Damon is fantastic. Even with all of his accomplishments, he's still an underrated actor, and this movie proves his worth on the screen. Also, after being impressed by the special effects of Interstellar but never connecting to the images, it's nice to watch a film that blends practical effects with special effects to create a very lived-in world. Obviously, director Ridley Scott knows how to make a space epic. Additionally, it's just a fun, well-crafted movie that moves along and makes you forget that you're largely watching a man grow potatoes and talk to himself.
Cons: Winning Best Comedy at the Golden Globes seems to be the biggest knock against it, because the film is more charming than comedic. Saying that you're going to "science the shit" out of something does not make your entire film a laugh riot. Also, it's a little repetitive, and everything happening off Mars is pretty boring. There's even a third-act romance that comes out of nowhere and does nothing.
SHOULD it win Best Picture: It's not wholly deserving of the prize. It's a solid, really entertaining movie with great performances, but it's not setting the world on fire.
WILL it win Best Picture: No.
Fun Trivia for Oscar Night: Mars was named after the Roman god of war. Mars Bars means "God of War Bars" in Italian.

The Revenant
Starring Le-Oscar-do DiOscario, a big bear, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, a horse carcass, and lots of people carcasses
Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Written by Mark L. Smith and Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Story: After a massacre and a pseudo-sexual bear attack, DiCaprio's Hugh Glass is left for dead and forced to fend off multiple attempts on his life on his quest for revenge.
Pros: The film is visually stunning, with really beautiful, bleak visuals throughout. Movies try to pull that whole "frontier life was difficult" stuff all the time, but this is the first movie where that hardship is palpable. People look miserable all the time. Acting-wise, Tom Hardy is fantastic as a ruthless and cunning villain whose desperation makes him all the more violent and cruel.
Cons: The effects are neat, but, special-effects wise, we're a few years away from having a completely CGI bear attack look real. The film is also difficult to watch for other reasons. Namely, because each physical hardship that DiCaprio and his costars face is uber-violent and full of blood and viscera. And DiCaprio, while a very talented actor, comes off a little "tryhard" in this. If the Oscars went to the actor who tried the hardest, he'd have it in the bag. You can feel his desperation for Academy recognition seeping through the screen.
SHOULD it win Best Picture: No. It's an interesting and beautiful film, but it's empty and cold. The violence leads nowhere, and it's unclear what message the film wants to send. Moreover, the movie makes some good strides in race-and-period accurate casting, but the Native Americans are also created as vague stereotypes.
WILL it win Best Picture: It certainly has a good shot. Iñárritu is probably winning Best Director, and DiCaprio is basically a lock for Best Actor. So that's...something. Also, tt's got a Gravity-feel to it that the Academy loves, but that movie didn't win the big prize. 
Fun Trivia for Oscar Night: DiCaprio and his Titanic co-star Kate Winslet, who are both nominated this year, have been nominated for 13 Oscars, collectively. One of those nominations has resulted in a win. Because her name isn't Kate Nomination-slet. It's Kate Effing WINslet.
UPDATE: I just Googled it, and Kate Winslet's middle name is actually Elizabeth, not Effing. I saw the "E." and jumped to conclusions.

Starring Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, some chairs, a bed, a sink, and not a whole lot else
Directed by Lenny Abrahamson, Written by Emma Donaghue
Story: I don't want to spoil anything, but basically this is story of a small boy and his mother being held captive in a one-room bunker, and the ways in which she tries to make his life better and normal amidst terrible circumstances.
Pros: Adapted from a novel by Donaghue (which I loved), Room seemed impossible to film. Tackling a difficult subject from a child's perspective is tricky, and the book occasionally gets mired in its own love of "kid speak." But this movie is a masterful (albeit super-depressing) film. Brie Larson as "Ma" and young Jacob Tremblay carry the film admirably. Larson, in particular, who has been killing it recently, turns in another stellar performance. The relationship between mother and son is necessary for the success of the film  so much hinges on their believable chemistry, and there's not a false note between them the entire film. Huge portions of the film are shot in a room the size of a woodshed, and the cinematography and direction use that to great effect. The room expands and contracts depending on the needs to the story, sometimes seeming as big as a universe and sometimes as small as a cabinet.
Cons: The film can get a little saccharine, and some of the representations of depression feel surface level (but saved by Larson). The film's score is also overbearing, and threatens to turn this film into a Lifetime original movie. Which isn't a bad thing, necessarily, but in this case it is.
SHOULD it win Best Picture: It's a wonderful film. But if the Academy gives the award to Larson, then justice will be served.
WILL it win Best Picture: No. It's too small, Not just in scope, but also in the fact that very few people have seen it.
Fun Trivia for Oscar Night: Larson's character in the film is named Joy, which makes this one of three Oscar-nominated films this year where the main protagonist is named Joy (the others being Inside Out and Joy).

Starring Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Sabretooth, Brian d'Arcy James, Michael Cyril Creighton, and the scariest epilogue I've ever seen
Directed by Tom McCarthy, Written by Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer
Story: From the people who wanted to make a movie more difficult to watch than The Revenant comes Spotlight...
Lots of your favorite actors star as reporters at The Boston Globe, working to uncover the systemic corruption and history of child sexual assault in the Catholic church. Along the way, they face opposition from the staunchly religious city of Boston, their own editors, and their own family. On the quest for answers, they uncover more unspeakably awful truths about men who exploit power and the people that cover up their crimes.
Pros: Though this story is now well-worn territory, it's impressive to think that it only came out a little over a decade ago. Tom McCarthy, who has made amazing films like Win Win and The Station Agent, has written and directed a haunting film that looks at this true crime story from all angles, spending time to understand the many things that are supremely f*cked up about it. The film shows us corruption and sexual assault, but it also shows how normal, good people can be a part of the problem due to trust in an institution and skepticism of people who speak out against power. There's a lot of ground to cover, and the film could have become mired in exposition, but the writers blend story and character so seamlessly that it doesn't feel preachy or talky. It just feels real and brutal. Stellar performances from Mark Ruffalo, Brian d'Arcy James, and Rachel McAdams bring the material to life as the story unfolding hits closer and closer to the characters' homes.
Cons: I'm not sure. It's a really great movie.
SHOULD it win Best Picture: Yes. It's all the things you want from a movie. It's engaging, it's soul-crushing, it tackles a huge issue from a personal perspective, and Michael Keaton is in it.
WILL it win Best Picture: It's lost some momentum on the awards circuit as The Revenant chugs right along to Trophy Town. Still, I'm hoping for a win here.

Time to buckle up for The Oscars. It's going to be a wild tepid ride.

Feb 24, 2016

2016 Best Picture Nominees: Part 1

Hello, reader people. Sorry for the silence this last month, After watching 425 movies in 2015, I've been finding it difficult to work up any energy about pop culture. Even updates on the Gilmore Girls revival have failed to rise me from my apathy. Well, that's a lie; I'm not made of stone. #TeamDean #Iknowhesabuttfacedmiscreantbuthewasinterestingandsweetinthefirstseason

Anyway... the OscarsSoWhite are this Sunday, which means it's time for film buffs the world over to fill out ballots, giddily predict winners with friends while getting mani-pedis, and angrily yell (in a bar at 8pm) about the fact that Dope isn't even nominated. That last one is maybe just me.

If you're like most members of the American public, you probably haven't seen most of the films up for Best Picture. I get it. Some of them are hella boring, and your time is precious. Still, nobody likes to be left out during a party (unless you're a dog that needs to pee), so I'm here to help you in your time of need. Consider me your Oscars Sherpa. Over the next two blog posts, I'll lay out the strengths and weaknesses of the nominees for Best Picture while also giving you some bon mots to keep your fellow partygoers delighted. Let's dig in!

The Big Short
Starring Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Dandy from AHS, Marisa Tomei, Hamish Linklater, and a ton of brown-haired white dudes
Directed by Adam McKay, Written by Charles Randolph and Adam McKay
Story: Basically it's the story of the housing market and economic collapse of 2008 disguised as a heist film. It's told from the perspective of the dudes who realized that the market was being over-inflated and made a lot of money betting on the prediction that the bubble would burst.
Pros: It's incredibly well-acted, particularly from Steve Carell (who is really the only sympathetic figure in the film). It's a great way to learn about recent American history, and it's fun that the tutors are Selena Gomez and Margot Robbie. It's occasionally funny and sporadically light-hearted.
Cons: The movie feels a little disjointed tonally and story-wise. None of the individual characters/story lines connect with one another (Christian Bale feels like he's on an ice floe separated from the rest of the main cast) and it ping-pongs wildly between comedy and drama. Also, like The Wolf of Wall Street before it, this is a film about awful people. They're markedly less awful than the people around them, but they're still betting on the fact that millions of people are going to lose money and financially collapse. Sure, it would happen even if they weren't betting on it, and they seem to get really torn up about it. But the fact that they are frowning while wealthy doesn't negate the fact that they are still becoming richer while other people suffer. All the Ocean's 11-type stylistic choices (and Ocean's 11's own Brad Pitt) aren't enough to make you forget that.
SHOULD it win Best Picture: No. It's a fine movie that should be remembered as an educational tool full of educational tools.
WILL it win Best Picture: It's one of three front-runners for Best Picture, but the prospects aren't good.
Fun Trivia for Oscar Night: If you look hard enough at the cast, you'll find at least one black person who is a woman and a few Asian Americans. None of them are the protagonists.

Bridge of Spies
Starring Tom Hanks, that guy from Friday Night Lights, Mark Rylance, I think a guy who was in that movie with a dolphin without a tail, winter coats, a bridge that's not as full of spies as I was promised, and Amy Ryan
Directed by Steven Spielberg, Written by Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, and Joel Coen
Story: In this "based on a true story" tale, Tom Hanks stars as a lawyer tasked with putting up a defense for a captured Soviet spy but puts too much oomph into it. And then he's hated by the American people. And then there's a bridge that has, like, two spies on it max. And then maybe America loses but democracy wins?
Pros: Amy Ryan brings a lot of weight to a role that is super light on the page, and Tom Hanks is reliably good. Better than he is in The Terminal (more like The Interminable, amirite), less good than he is in Big. Cold War spy dramas are really interesting, because there is a ton of build-up but often very little payoff. World War II ended with explosions. The Cold War sort of just fizzled out due to a poorly-planned skirmish with Afghanistan and some crumbling, load-bearing structures. That kind of unresolved tension fun to watch. Spielberg creates a type of gentleman's war, where decency is prized above all else, and all of the spying is so obvious it isn't even threatening. Like, anyone could catch these spies  there's not a Sydney Bristow among them. The film is also lovingly shot and, given that the story is super predictable, occasionally engaging.
Cons: From the man who directed the super boring War Horse comes an even more boring and less nuanced movie about an even colder war. I love Steven Spielberg, but this movie is so slowly paced and uninteresting. He's out of step with how films should feel and move. There are also very few surprises in the film.  From the beginning, you know whether or not Rylance's Rudolf Abel is a spy for the USSR, and that knowledge robs you of any excitement as the plot unfolds. Also, without the musical help of John Williams (whose score basically carried the lame War Horse on its back), the film falls flat. Every single person involved in this project has done something better. Also, there aren't nearly enough spies on the titular bridge.
SHOULD it win Best Picture: No. This is a nomination resulting from the contractual obligation of old Academy members to vote for everything Spielberg does, regardless of quality.
WILL it win Best Picture: No. 
Fun Trivia for Oscar Night: One of the most stirring moments in the film, wherein Hanks watches people get shot while trying to escape over a wall, never actually happened to the real life person Hanks is playing. It's cheap emotional chicanery.

Starring Saoirse "rhymes with inertia" Ronan, Jim Broadbent, Emily Bett Rickards, Molly Weasley, Domhnall Gleeson, Emory Cohen, and Jessica Paré
Directed by John Crowley, Written by Nick Hornby
Story: Based on the novel by Colm Toibin, Brooklyn is the story of Eilis (Ronan), a young woman living in a small Irish town in the 1950s who moves to Brooklyn to make something of herself. Along the way, she makes mistakes, falls in love, and feels the pull of Ireland calling her home.
Pros: This is the first of the films on this list that made my Best Picture list. Successful adaptations of novels are surprisingly rare, because it's easy to make a film that feels dependent on the novel for full enjoyment (like Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) or so faithful to the novel that the film fails to breathe any life onto the screen (like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone). I haven't read the book on which Brooklyn is based, but I imagine it would be easy to adapt it into an incredibly boring film. This movie avoids boredom traps with the help of a great writer (Hornby) and an exceptional cast, led by the wonderful lost-Fanning-sister Saoirse Ronan. With power players on both sides of the camera, the film crackles with understated intensity and warmth. Eilis's journey becomes a relevant story of hope, rather than falling onto the pile of forgettable films in the same genre. It's also an incredibly pretty movie. I am disgusted by just the thought of beaches (sand  ugh, saltwater  double ugh), but the cinematography and costuming had me dreaming of putting on an old-timey one-piece and heading to Coney Island for a dip.
Cons: It's a long film, but the last fifteen minutes feel rushed, which seems to be a problem with 2015 films starring Domhnall Gleeson (ahem Star Wars and Ex Machina). I don't want to spoil any part of the movie, but Eilis has some decisions to make in the final act, and the film doesn't give her time to breathe and think. It all gets a little fluffy and fast in the final frames.
SHOULD it win Best Picture: It's a beautiful movie full of beautiful people, but it probably would have been a stronger contender 10 years ago. Or even 30 years ago.
WILL it win Best Picture: Nope. Ronan has the best chance at Oscar gold, and even she's a longshot.
Fun Trivia for Oscar Night: Though the film is primarily set in Brooklyn, only two days were spent there during filming. That's a boring fact, but it's the best I could do.

Mad Max: Fury Road 
(pasting and re-editing in my earlier review)
Starring Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Zoe Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and a ton of super pale Australians
Directed by George Miller, Written by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, and Nick Lathouris
The Story: Set in an even more dystopian future than the first three Mad Max films, the titular Max once again finds himself in a situation where he begrudgingly helps out a band of underdogs (because it's the right thing to do, dammit!). But the movie is really more about Imperator Furiosa (Theron), a driver for the megalomaniacal Immortan Joe who takes an opportunity to do something good by depriving Joe of the thing(s) he loves most. What starts (and ends) as a car chase becomes a fight for decency and redemption.
Pros: This movie is gorgeous from start to finish. I've never seen a desert so beautiful and haunting, a bleak and constant reminder of the dangers the heroes face. Practical special effects make everything more interesting, and there's a guitar-playing Doof Warrior who is a lot of fun to watch. It's easy to discount the acting, with the minimal dialogue making the characters more like action figures than real people. However, Theron, Hardy, and Hoult all turn in amazing performances, able to balance the camp and grit of the film without being overwhelmed by it.
Cons: Honestly, there are very few cons. It's basically one-long chase/battle sequence, so it does occasionally feel repetitive. An extensive sequence in a dust-storm is particularly unnecessary, but it is really pretty.
SHOULD it win Best Picture: This surprisingly-feminist action movie is glorious from start to finish. It would be crazy if it won Best Picture, but in a good way.
WILL it win Best Picture: Probably not. It's genre-heavy in a genre that's not loved by the Academy.
Fun Trivia for Oscar Night: Director George Miller said he would not return for another installment, but then changed his tune as soon as he was nominated for Best Director.

That's all for Part 1. Check back soon for my reviews of the other four films nominated for Best Picture, and have a great day!

Jan 14, 2016

The Best Films of 2015

this is a super timely thing I put together.
I wanted to wait to post my thoughts on 2015 films until the Oscar nominations were announced today. It didn't change my choices, but hopefully it works as a continuation of the conversation. Below are my choices for the best films of 2015, with my (somewhat long-winded) thought process on how I came to these decisions.

Oscar nominees for Best Picture are highlighted:

Top 15 Films 2015
  1. Spotlight
  2. Inside Out
  3. What We Do in the Shadows
  4. Brooklyn
  5. Room
  6. Dope
  7. Amy
  8. Anomalisa
  9. Kingsman: The Secret Service
  10. Straight Outta Compton
  11. Mad Max: Fury Road
  12. Experimenter
  13. Ex Machina
  14. Creed
  15. The Martian

Jan 12, 2016

365 Days, 365 Movies: December [Star Wars-apalooza]

With the clock striking midnight and the world heralding a new year, I officially ended my year-long adventure in daily movie watching. Having actually reached my 365 total in mid-November, December was more of a victory lap than anything else. I thought I would just watch a few movies (28 or so) to get up to 400 movies for the year, And then I ended up watching 53. 

My focus was broad, but I definitely spent my time with three big categories: Oscar contenders, Holiday movies, and Star Wars films. I'll talk Oscar contenders soon, and Holiday movies have been dissected and vivisected 100 times over. I would talk about Star Wars, but who wants that? Sure, the films taught me a lot of lessons about life and filmmaking and the prequels clued me into the fact that nothing golden can stay and that we're all going to die someday, but let's not talk about that. Let's look at a list!

Jan 6, 2016

Film Review: 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

I'll get to Maz Kanata in a minute
To say that I was excited about the newest Star Wars film is a huge understatement. Having attended first-night, 12:00 screenings of the prequels (Episodes 1-3), I know how very real the disappointment in Star Wars can be. Still, I'm a huge fan of J.J. Abrams (Alias is still my favorite show of all time, for some reason), and all of the trailers and behind-the-scenes interviews/clips made the movie seem, if nothing else, cool. So I went into the theater with a little trepidation but a lot of joy. And since it's fun to rope other people into my nervous psychosis, I brought family along as well. Below are our ALMOST COMPLETELY SPOILER FREE reviews of the film:

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