2016 IN REVIEW – The Films I Didn’t See (November – December)

January 28, 2017 Leave a comment

Doctor Strange - steps

Alright, the last of the films I didn’t see this year! From here on out, it’s nothing but films I’ve seen. These are the last two months, when studios try to cram in every Oscar contender and pretender, even up until the final days of the year. There aren’t many of these that I actually feel compelled to see, now that I think about it. Perhaps 2016 seemed like such a crappy year because it was a lot more spread out? Or perhaps it was just the fact that it ended with Collateral Beauty? Regardless, there are some films here that look alright, but I think I saw at least most of the good ones, with some room for obvious outliers.  Read more…

2016 IN REVIEW – The Films I Didn’t See (August – October)

January 21, 2017 Leave a comment

Kubo and the Two Strings - sunset

Alright, so now we’re at the tail end of the summer and beginning of the Oscar season. Lots of documentaries made it onto this list. Also, a lot of Jamie Dornan, too, for some reason. Despite being a shorter time span than the last entry, this list contains a lot of films, mostly because it’s just closer to the present, and I didn’t have enough time to watch them all, rent them, or they’re not even out yet to rent in the first place. As always, however, I do reserve the right to watch any of these and include them on my final lists.

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2016 IN REVIEW – The Films I Didn’t See (January – July)

January 14, 2017 1 comment

Knight of Cups - Christian Bale

Normally, I break down the year into three 4-month long pieces, but I actually saw so many films this year, the early half was pretty lopsided, resulting in a very small list of films from January through April and then an increasingly longer list of films for the other two parts. As a result, I have chosen to instead divide the year by the number of films, roughly 40 – 50 each period. That means that the first part will be from January through July, encompassing a large part of the dumpster ground that is late winter and into the first half of the summer blockbuster season.

So, yeah, here are the films I managed to avoid or just missed out on entirely, organized by release date and along with their Rotten Tomatoes score. Some of them look worthwhile and, as a result, may end up on my list of films I actually watched, as per usual, while others look absolutely terrible… and may also show up on a later list of films I saw, depending on my mood. The purpose of this, however, is to just reflect on the year that was and acknowledge that, even as an amateur film critic, I still don’t manage to see everything, despite what people I know may think. Read more…

2016 IN REVIEW: The Year That Was…

January 5, 2017 Leave a comment

 

the-nice-guys-ryan-gosling

Well, that certainly was a year, huh?

2016 was, for many, a total shit year. I don’t even have to go into all the details of why that was the case, and so… you know, I won’t. Needless to say, though, much of it was heartbreaking. Much of it was disappointing. Much of it was just plain stupefying. Personally, I even lost a job due to layoffs halfway through the year and spent the better part of my admittedly short period of unemployment thinking I’d finally had a glimpse of the end. (Anxiety and depression is fun, you guys!) The political climate this past election also unleashed in me something unexpected, having grown tired of all the bickering and willful ignorance of any nuance to either side. People I knew were being outright nasty towards people, sometimes even going so far as to disown them. This climate even seemed to spill-over into the world of films, which could no longer, for example, be an exciting new entry in a beloved series that, for whatever its faults, was still a solid entry that was easily enjoyed. No, no… now movies are either perfect or they’re absolute garbage with a political bent that has its crosshairs set on your personal belief system! I was in danger of growing completely misanthropic as a result.

king-jack-charlie-plummer-cory-nichols

Perhaps that’s why I saw so many movies this year…? Last year, I reached another personal record of 143 films by the end of my 2015 in Review series, which concluded in February. As of this moment in writing, however, between rentals, streaming, and theatrical releases, I have seen a whopping 164 films from 2016, and that’s if I didn’t forget any. And that’s not even going to be the final number, as I traditionally discover a few that intrigue me or that I forgot during my “Films I Didn’t See” subseries and thus follow up on before the end. Yeah, I think I might have a problem…

At the very least, though, because of this, I know that 2016 wasn’t all bad. Personally, I have been enjoying being an uncle to my nephew, who at age 1 already has a huge, delightful personality. My period of unemployment was honestly very brief, despite the issues compounding that, and I found a job that is not only expanding my resume but is also something I’m actually quite good at, and I like the people I work with, too. I turned 30 this year, which… well, at least it wasn’t as painful as I had feared. And, before this, I also made a huge personal milestone by pretty much completely and publicly coming out of the closet… And, so far, despite a few exceptions I made by excluding a few people who I’m certain would make some family members’ lives problematic by knowing this, it’s actually been relatively smooth compared to my expectations. Not… perfect… but much better than anticipated. And, you know, the same can be said about 2016 – at least when it comes to the films released this past year, provided you knew where to look and didn’t put too much stock in every big, anticipated film.

Ghostbusters (2016) - Stay Puft

And so, I begin my 2016 retrospective as I do pretty much all of my previous annual retrospectives, by laying out what to expect from this series. I make no promises regarding the promptness, as I have a job and a life outside this blog. However, think of this as a time when you can reflect along with me about what you watched and what you may have missed. I obviously mostly saw films from earlier in the year, regardless of whether it was in the theatre or once it was released. As noted above, I reserve the right to be intrigued by the films I note that I have not seen, to then see them, and thus add them to my review and rankings of films I did see once I reach those articles. As such, I will first begin by recounting the various films I managed to miss over the course of a few articles – covering as many as humanly possible, though I’m sure to miss a few. I will then move on to covering the films that were neither my favorite nor my most hated. Capping off the year in review will then be My Worst of the Year list, followed by a list of My Favorite Films of the year, divided by genre. (Note: Not “THE BEST,” but rather my subjective favorites.)

Pete's Dragon (2016) - Sunset.jpeg

Here’s a rough outline of how this will all go down:

  • 2016 IN REVIEW: The Films I Didn’t See (January – July)
  • 2016 IN REVIEW: The Films I Didn’t See (August – October)
  • 2016 IN REVIEW: The Films I Didn’t See (November – December)
  • 2016 IN REVIEW: Everything in Between That I’ve Seen
  • 2016 IN REVIEW: The Worst Movies of the Year
  • 2016 IN REVIEW: My Favorite Films

2016 was a heck of a stupid year, but hopefully the world of film was at least one of many bright spots in all of the darkness you may have experienced. And, if not, I hope we can retroactively change that through this series.

Here’s to 2017. May it not suck.

…Please.

REVIEW – Trading Places

January 1, 2017 Leave a comment
Trading PlacesDirected by: John Landis
Produced by: Aaron Russo
Written by: Timothy Harris, Herschel Weingrod
Edited by: Malcolm Campbell
Cinematography by: Robert Paynter
Music by: Elmer Bernstein
Starring: Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche, Denholm Elliott, Paul Gleason, Kristin Holby, James Belushi, Tom Davis, Al Franken
Year: 1983

 

I’d always managed to forget this movie for the Christmas/New Year’s season in years past – it takes place predominately over the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Not this year, though, thanks to a friendly reminder to not do that. My family was pretty big on this movie when I was growing up. Sure, I had to cover my eyes quite a few times (it’s an R-rated ‘80s comedy, after all), but apart from that, even I found it pretty enjoyable as a kid. But I haven’t seen it in a few years, as evidenced by my constant forgetfulness of its existence, and as the years went on, and the cycle of trying to remember this film at an appropriate time, forgetting, and then holding off until an appropriate time continued, I began to wonder to myself – was it actually Coming to America that I liked better than the other? Well, I don’t really know the answer to that one, as I also have to watch Coming to America again for the first time in years. However, the time has at least finally come for me to get around to reviewing Trading Places at what is ostensibly an “appropriate time” of year. So… Read more…

REVIEW – Gremlins

December 25, 2016 Leave a comment
gremlinsDirected by: Joe Dante
Produced by: Michael Finnell
Written by: Chris Columbus
Edited by: Tina Hirsch
Cinematography by: John Hora
Music by: Jerry Goldsmith
Starring: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, Francess Lee McCain, Corey Feldman, Dick Miller, Judge Reinhold, Glynn Turman, Polly Holliday, Keye Luke, Frank Welker, Howie Mandel
Year: 1984

 

Don’t expose them to bright lights. Do not get them wet. And never, ever feed them after midnight. The three rules about owning a mogwai are pretty well-known, even to people like me, who went a couple decades of their lives before seeing either of the Gremlins films – one of the most often cited Christmas films for people who don’t want a traditional Christmas film – much like Die Hard or even last year’s Krampus, itself kind of an adult Gremlins. I wasn’t allowed to see this movie growing up – the combination of monsters, magic, and the fact that it was a horror film were pretty critical factors in that. And probably in a lot of other kids’ lives, too, since it was a major reason why the PG-13 rating was created. Alongside Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, due to their scarier and more violent content than the usual PG-rated film, Steven Spielberg collaborated with the MPAA and created a rating between PG and R due to the films he was producing. I only ever got around to seeing it as an adult – not, mind you, because my mom told me I couldn’t all my life (that had long since passed, even as a kid). I just never got around to it until then! Luckily, I think I’ve held on to my inner child… Read more…

REVIEW – Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas

December 22, 2016 1 comment
Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted ChristmasDirected by: Andy Knight
Produced by: Lori Forte, John C. Donkin
Written by: Flip Kobler, Cindy Marcus, Bill Motz, Bob Roth
Edited by: Daniel Lee
Art Direction by: Julie Eberley, Clive Powsey
Music by: Rachel Portman, Michael Starobin
Songs by: Rachel Portman, Don Black
Starring: Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson, Angela Lansbury, Jerry Orbach, David Ogden Stiers, Bernadette Peters, Tim Curry, Paul Reubens, Haley Joel Osment, Frank Welker, Jeff Bennett, Kath Soucie, Andrew Keenan-Bolger
Year: 1997

 

Disney may not have invented the concept of the midquel (a follow-up that takes place between the timeframe of the original work, rather than before or after), but with their direct-to-video series, I swear that they’re probably the one studio to make unusually extensive use of the concept. There’s Tarzan 2, Bambi II, The Lion King 1 ½, The Fox and the Hound II, and, as a follow-up to a film that celebrated its 25th anniversary just this year, Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas. (This would itself followed up by Belle’s Enchanted World, which was actually a compilation of episodes meant for a TV spinoff set within the timeline of the original movie that never came to be.) Along with the Aladdin movies and the first Lion King sequel, this was one of the few direct-to-video follow-ups my family actually had sitting around while growing up, and I recall that my sister and I would proudly claim that we were the owners of “the only good Disney sequels,” which… yeah, I don’t know about that, considering there weren’t that many at the time to begin with, and they all were pretty awful to meh in terms of quality. The Enchanted Christmas, in particular, is probably the worst of the four that we owned (it’s been a while since I’ve seen the others, granted), particularly considering the quality of the film that bore it. Read more…

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