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2014 IN REVIEW: Everything in Between That I’ve Seen

February 7, 2015 1 comment

Under the Skin - Eye

Finally, we come to the films that I actually did see! As with the films I didn’t see, these films will come at you in three parts: the films that were just somewhere in the middle in terms of quality, the films I greatly disliked, and the films I really enjoyed.

I use those qualitative terms just to avoid confusion over what I’m ranking here. The films in this section range from generally bad to generally quite good, but never elevating to excellence or making me fall in love with them or making me hate them with a passion. That being said, I didn’t expect to like some of the films here as much as I ended up liking them, and, of course, I was letdown by others I actually was kind of looking forward to.

If you don’t see the movie here and didn’t see it in the list of films I didn’t see, then you can almost certainly be guaranteed to find them on one of my next two lists, as this is just a portion of the 121 total films I ended up seeing from 2014 as of this writing, whether in theatres, on DVD/Blu-Ray, or through streaming. Read more…

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REVIEW: Happy Christmas

December 2, 2014 6 comments
Happy ChristmasDirected by: Joe Swanberg
Produced by: Joe Swanberg, Alicia Van Couvering, Peter Gilbert
Written by: Joe Swanberg
Edited by: Joe Swanberg
Cinematography by: Ben Richardson
Music by: N/A
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey, Lena Dunham, Joe Swanberg, Mark Webber
Year: 2014

 

Originally released widely in the midst of summer, July 2014, this film apparently only popped up on most people’s radars thanks to Netflix and the presence of Pitch Perfect star Anna Kendrick being featured on the film artwork displayed and less so because the film got any widespread word of mouth. At least, that’s exactly how it popped up on my radar, so… I can only assume that that’s how it was with everyone else, right? Its Wikipedia entry even currently makes note of its streaming availability, so my inference is not without any basis in proof. That’s probably for the best, as a film of this sort was never going to make crazy box office numbers in theatres, so it was smart to debut the film early in the year at festivals and then release it to a general public to build up word of mouth before then releasing it to an even wider audience that has essentially already paid admission through their Netflix subscriptions and let the respectable Rotten Tomatoes score, courtesy of all those critics who watched it over the year, convince people to give it a watch during the holiday season. Such is indie filmmaking business, I guess. Hopefully, though, that translates into a film that will actually be watched by more than just a few people, because this is actually a film that’s nicely put together. Read more…

2013 IN REVIEW: Neither the Best, Nor the Worst Films I Saw

February 1, 2014 2 comments

Elysium - Sharlto Copley and Alice Braga

I apparently watched a lot more movies in 2013 than I had realized… The films below represent not the worst, not the best, but certainly not always good, but also certainly not always bad movies that I saw in and from 2013. Only films released theatrically were counted, and film festival debuts did not count. Some of these films were truly great, others were truly awful, but none of them were seen fit to be placed in “the worst,” “the best,” nor “my favorite” categories. And so, they go here. Here are some of the films I watched in 2013, in order of release! Read more…

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2013 IN REVIEW: The Films I Didn’t See (May – August)

January 18, 2014 2 comments

Monsters University - Mike Wazowski

Blockbuster season. Typically the season where most of the most anticipated films of the year — the ones that were hyped perhaps years in advance — are released. Since 2012 was the year when The Avengers gave us the first superhero team-up film and the year when The Dark Knight Trilogy came to a close, 2013 looked like it was going to be rather underwhelming this time of year. I already mentioned that Iron Man 3 was released in April, starting the season early, but Thor: The Dark World wasn’t coming until October!

So that left us with two major superhero films to look forward to: Man of Steel, which divided audiences and critics alike in its more serious, violent portrayal of Superman, and The Wolverine, which made good on its promise to improve upon its abysmal predecessor and managed to be both coherent and quite entertaining. Pixar and DreamWorks continued their rivalries, however, with the release of Pixar’s first prequel, Monsters University, and DreamWorks’ first sequel to cash-cow Despicable Me. (The less said about Turbo, the better.) World War Z finally came out and, predictably, did very well for itself, what with people being starved for zombie entertainment until the next season of The Walking Dead started. Summer also saw the release of some fairly big “prestige” films, however, the likes of which you’d normally expect to come out during the fall and winter Oscar season: Fruitvale Station, The Spectacular Now, and Blue Jasmine each received widespread critical acclaim.

Perhaps my most anticipated films of the summer were Star Trek Into Darkness, Pacific Rim, and The World’s End, which were all released during this time, and I personally actually enjoyed each of them immensely, though to also varying degrees. This was the time period where I did get promoted at my job and also got a raise, so I was able to see a few more films that I just wanted to see during this time. Nevertheless, I couldn’t see them all, so, as with the last time, here are the films that, as of this writing, I did not see from May– August 2013, in order of release, as noted on Wikipedia. Please note that, as in the past, I still reserve the right to watch any film that is listed here and then re-remark on the film in one of the upcoming articles on films I did see from 2013. So, yes, again, you might see some of these films again, and soon… Read more…

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Special Review: “The Twilight Saga”

August 8, 2013 7 comments
The Twilight Saga
Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight), Chris Weitz (New Moon), David Slade (Eclipse), Bill Condon (Breaking Dawn)

Produced by: Wyck Godfrey (The Twilight Saga), Mark Morgan (Twilight), Greg Mooradian (Twilight, Eclipse), Karen Rosenfelt (New MoonBreaking Dawn), Stephenie Meyer (Breaking Dawn)

Written by: Melissa Rosenberg (screenplay)

Edited by: Nancy Richardson (Twilight, Eclipse), Peter Lambert (New Moon), Art Jones (Eclipse), Virginia Katz (Breaking Dawn)

Cinematography by: Elliot Davis (Twilight), Javier Aguirresarobe (New Moon – Eclipse), Guillermo Navarro (Breaking Dawn)

Music by: Carter Burwell (Twilight, Breaking Dawn), Alexandre Desplat (New Moon), Howard Shore (Eclipse)

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Ashley Greene, Kellan Lutz, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone, Mackenzie Foy, Billy Burke, Cam Gigandet, Rachelle Lefèvre, Bryce Dallas Howard, Edi Gathegi, Sarah Clarke, Christian Serratos, Michael Welch, Anna Kendrick, Gregory Tyree Boyce, Justin Chon, Michael Sheen, Dakota Fanning, Cameron Bright, Xavier Samuel, Julia Jones, Maggie Grace, Casey LaBow, Lee Pace, Jamie Campbell Bower, Christopher Heyerdahl, Chaske Spencer, Christian Camargo, Mía Maestro, Joe Anderson, Booboo Stewart… I give up…

Based on the books by Stephenie Meyer

Year: 2008 (Twilight), 2009 (New Moon), 2010 (Eclipse), 2011 (Breaking Dawn Part 1), 2012 (Breaking Dawn Part 2)

 

My stepsister is a Twilight fan. I’m honestly not sure what level of crazy she is to really qualify it, but the fact that she owns the books and the fact that she wanted the movies every time a new one came out is enough to at least qualify her as a pretty big fan of Stephenie Meyer’s thinly veiled saga about a young couple’s struggles to remain forever young, be faithful to one another, and practice abstinence until marriage – a struggle that apparently necessitates literal life or death battles that everyone else is willing to endure on their behalf. Twilight is a series that a lot of people hate on, myself included, yet I can’t exactly call myself blameless in enabling my stepsister’s misguided affections. What else would I get her for her birthdays when they were so perfectly in sync with every new DVD release? With Breaking Dawn Part 2 finally ending the saga, I’m kind of hoping that something new and better takes her interests next year. Read more…

Review: “Pitch Perfect”

July 17, 2013 2 comments
Pitch PerfectDirected by: Jason Moore
Produced by: Elizabeth Banks, Paul Brooks, Max Handelman
Written by: Kay Cannon (screenplay)
Edited by: Zach Chemberlene
Cinematography by: Julio Macat
Music by: Christophe Beck, Mark Kilian
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Rebel Wilson, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow, Adam DeVine, Ben Platt, Ester Dean, Alexis Knapp, Utkarsh Ambudkar, John Michael Higgins, Elizabeth Banks
Based on the novel Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory by Mickey Rapkin
Year: 2012

 

Even though this movie is irritatingly responsible for bringing the Ace of Base song “The Sign” into my mind and never letting it get back out, I was surprised when I rented the movie on a whim earlier this year and found something I didn’t totally expect: a movie that I actually enjoyed quite a bit. I mean, I had seen the reviews for it were generally positive, which was a big factor in my curiosity, but I was still skeptical that this movie, which was so obviously, clearly trying to coast on the popularity of Glee in my eyes, was actually worth watching. It’s nice sometimes to be reminded that I can be wrong, however. Read more…

Theatrical Review: “ParaNorman”

August 26, 2012 6 comments
Directed by: Sam Fell, Chris Butler
Produced by: Travis Knight, Arianne Sutner
Written by: Chris Butler (screenplay), Arianne Sutner, Stephen Stone (story)
Cinematography by: Tristan Oliver
Music by: Jon Brion
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, John Goodman, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, Jodelle Ferland, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Elaine Stritch, Bernard Hill, Jodelle Ferland, Tempestt Bledsoe, Hannah Noyes, Ariel Winter
Year: 2012

 

There are several things that I admire about this movie that I’m just going to highlight from the outset:

  1. The animation is impressive. I have no idea how they pulled off the visually (not to mention emotionally) charged ending effects, but I would really like to see the featurette on the home release on that.
  2. Getting back to the emotion, there are moments in the film that feel stunningly authentic, and that ending really does pay off.
  3. The filmmakers largely stayed away from obvious pop culture horror references that would be so prevalent in so many big studio film efforts. There are some, one of which is revealed in the trailers (“You want to play hockey?”) and another that is a lot more subtle than this (Norman’s ringtone is from The Exorcist), but, for the most part, the film is a much calmer, more self-contained experience than it could have been.

I lead into this review with those points because I don’t want to sound like I didn’t enjoy this film, because that wouldn’t necessarily be true. The fact of the matter, however, is that for all the things this film excels at, there are several things that hold it back for me from being the apparent critical darling that Rotten Tomatoes would suggest that ParaNorman is.

Read more…

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