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2014 IN REVIEW: The Films I Didn’t See (September – December)

January 31, 2015 2 comments

The Skeleton Twins - Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader

I’m not going to waste too much time this year on introductions. For this third and final part of my review of films I didn’t see, we’re going through the prestige Oscar-baiting season. You know — hammy acting, controversial subjects, beautiful cinematography, politics… It’s often a mixed bag, and for every stunning masterpiece, there’s often a lot of films that misstep and come off like a cheap cheeseburger dressed up to look like prime rib. … I’m hungry.

This is by far the biggest portion of films I didn’t see, largely due to a lot of them coming out so much more recently and not being available to rent, if I missed them in theatres.

Yes, 2014 may have been a record year for me seeing the most movies from that year, but there were still movies I never got around to or never even had the ability to see due to either foreign or limited release. I still like going over them, however, as this process often leads  to me finding some unexpected gems that I might enjoy. Some of these I might become so interested in that I see them before I even get to the films I did see, so there is actually a possibility you might see these films reappear in this 2014 in Review series if that becomes the case.

Anyway, here are many of the films from September to December 2014 that I didn’t see, for one reason or another. It’s by no means complete, but that’s what you get when you’re using Wikipedia and Best of/Worst of lists from other sites. Read more…

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2013 IN REVIEW: My Top Films of the Year

February 16, 2014 1 comment

Rush - Chris Hemsworth

FINALLY! The moment I’ve been building up to for far too long! It’s been a busy month… and a half… for me, but I’m finally done, and this is my last of my 2013 in Review articles! (Consequently, while none of these are exactly final reviews, many of them may as well be and portions of what is stated here may show up in a future review. For the sake of my sanity and my time, however, I’ve decided to present what I felt the need to write without very many edits!)

The format I’ve chosen for my annual Year in Review articles is a bit insane, I know, but while it’s time consuming, its also quite fun, and it’s just as much about sharing all the films released in the last year (or at least most, as I probably missed some in the sections where I went over films I didn’t get around to seeing) as it is about me locating films that you and I have both overlooked, which is also why a lot of the films I didn’t see this year made repeat appearances, as I couldn’t resist the urge to watch them, and it’s not like I’d be able to do another year in review for them, too, you know? This year, one of those movies I didn’t see at first but did during my writing these articles even made it onto this list, My Top Films of the Year!

The Wolf of Wall Street - Jonah Hill, Marching Band

So why don’t I call it “The Best Films of the Year”? It’s simple, really – it’s subjective, yes, but it’s also because even I switch around the order at times. I guarantee you that at some point in the past and future, I might have ordered these films differently. It took some time and thought, and this is ultimately what I felt comfortable enough with to publish, but I’ll tell you that this was a hard process, particularly in the top 10.

All of this year’s Best Picture Academy Award nominees are on this list. Seriously – I’ve even decided to mark the Oscar nominations this year. They were all very good and justifiably nominated, and while I might have my preferences as to who should win, they’re all remarkable, worthwhile films if you should ever consider watching them. Some of the other movies on this list, however, are also quite awesome, some of which I like better than the films that were nominated, and one of which I’m still very annoyed didn’t at least get the tenth vacant slot in their nominees list, just out of principle for how awesome it was. (I’m just going to tell you now, that movie is Inside Llewyn Davis.) How annoying!

The World's End - Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan - beer

So what of the rankings? Lists like these tend to demand them, so I include them, and I do think they are helpful in making priorities in our very busy lives as to what to see first and give preference to. Since the rankings are so subjective and sometimes even arbitrary, my main rule is to go with my gut on these things. Seriously. That’s what it boils down to. It’s a mixture of favoritism, enjoyment, entertainment, and, yes, the actual skill behind the scenes and within them. As such, films that were without a doubt brilliant masterpieces that will go on to receive tons of accolades and be remembered forever may be outranked by flash-in-the-pan popcorn films that have very little to say except, “Hey, look at this awesome thing we did!” but were also very skilled at doing so and are films that I will revisit time and time again whenever I want to be entertained. It’s hard to rank films of these sorts against one another, and if I felt that I could be that much more objective about these things and take out the entertainment factor, I would probably top load this list with all the heavyweight dramas and such. But I don’t think I can, so I don’t put up any airs of being able to do so.

But, you know, I think that’s alright. Variety is the spice of life, you know, and to say that dramas should be exalted at all times above the comedies and action films is, I think, false doctrine when it comes to film criticism and lessens the true value of joy and wonderment that isn’t always found in those serious dramas – so long as that joy and wonderment is done very well, of course.

So, with that all in mind, I feel I’ve prepared you for this eclectic list of my picks for not just the best films of the year, but also the ones that are my favorites, the ones I find most enjoyable, and the ones that blew me away with their spectacle. Read more…

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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 (September – December)

January 25, 2014 1 comment

Inside Llewyn Davis - Oscar Isaac

Oscar season! This is when the studios want to release the best films of the year (or so they say). Why? Because they want the films to be fresh in the voters’ minds. Prestige films and the like. Indie dramas, historical period films, war films, controversial films… If it can make you cry, your heartbreak, your spirit lift with joy, make you see things from a new light, this is the season.

It’s also a good time for seasonal holiday films. You’ve got your horror films to cover Halloween, your Christmas films for Christmas, and this year we even got an animated Thanksgiving film (though I’m not certain that all you people looking forward to a big piece of juicy turkey are going to love it). Meanwhile, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa get left out, once again. For some reason, this season was also rife with Christian films, from Kirk Cameron, to Miley Cyrus analogs, to Christmas miracles, the industry that claims to represent my faith has got you covered in that area. Woo.

It’s not all your typical films, though. More and more, Hollywood is figuring out that you should spread your action films and your romantic comedies throughout the year, rather than bunching them all into the middle. Consequently, we got a few Sylvester Stallone-involved flicks this season, a sequel to Robert Rodriguez’s Machete, as well as the latest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor: The Dark World.

Nevertheless, as with the first and second entries, 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, since this is the last of the films that I haven’t seen from the year. Enjoy! Read more…

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2012 IN REVIEW – The Films I Didn’t See: September – December

January 28, 2013 1 comment

1134604 - Zero Dark Thirty

My apologies for the slightly longer delay in getting this part out. I kinda got stricken with the flu for a few days, and didn’t exactly feel like writing. But, here it is, the final third of the films I didn’t see in the year 2012. This is the period of time where the summer movies begin to trickle out before coming to a complete stop and where film studios begin their flood of Oscar-baiting dramas and such.

That’s not to say that there are never any good action films released during this time. That also isn’t to say that none of these Oscar-baiting films are any good, too. Far from it. 2012 saw the release of Oscar-worthy greats as Argo, Lincoln, and Zero Dark Thirty releasing in the same time period as cash-grabbing features like the final Twilight film, The Hobbit, and Wreck-it Ralph, all with varying degrees of success. It’s actually a fairly ripe time to watch all sorts of movies, come to think of it. Possibly better than even summer!

Django Unchained - Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx

Still, it’s not like I’m going to see every film released during this time. If anything, I ran out of time and risked going out of budget for all the films that I did want to see, but didn’t always have time to. Then there were also films that, quite frankly, I could just do without seeing. But, for the purposes of this article, I’ve gone through and examined all these, both enticing and repugnant, some being granted my attention possibly for the last time ever, and have collected my thoughts and impressions below. As mentioned previously in parts 1 and 2, this isn’t my final say on these films, and some of the commentary below is based pretty much on plot synopses, other reviews, skimmings, and a heavy use of Wikipedia and Rotten Tomatoes. I watched the trailers where I could and didn’t for those films that I just basically didn’t care. Which ones are those? Read, and you may just find out! Read more…

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More or Less: 5 More of My Favorites

May 30, 2012 2 comments

Since this blog’s inception, I’ve posted 85 times, and while that is not necessarily one of those significantly recognized numbers like, say 25, 50, or 75, I must say, I didn’t know whether or not that I would stick with this blog for as long as I have, and while I’ve at times wondered if I could continue writing for this, 85 seems like a good enough number to definitively say to myself, “Yes, this is what I’m meant to be doing, even if it’s not for a living.”

You see, even though I might not be getting paid for what I’m doing here, there’s still a significant part of me that absolutely loves the cinema, even the crap movies sometimes, and I love discussing them with people when I can. Writing this may be a somewhat of a one-way street, as I’m still not entirely certain how significant my readership is here, but the more I write about it, the more I know that my audience will grow, and  even if I’m not getting quite the comments level that I probably naively expected/hoped, hopefullyThe Viewer’s Commentary has at least helped in elevating this art medium that I love so much, if even by a small amount.

Going forward, I hope to have more reviews and commentary up more often. Going through a few sites around the blogosphere, I’m inspired to stop caring so much about the scope of my posts as much as I am posting from both my gut and heart and only worry about the high concept stuff when the mood strikes me just right. This will enable me to not burn out after work in trying to do a ton of research only to decide to abandon all plans to write that night. Less pressure, more pleasure, I guess you could say.

And, so, with this, the 86th published post, I’m going to make good on that promise to myself and my readership with a follow up to my very first article on the site — Here are, in no particular order, five more films that I would consider to be, more or less, my favorites!

The smug face of evil

Inglourious Basterds I initially fell asleep during this movie. There. I said it. I blame my friend, who was also present with me during our recent viewing of John Carter — another film I fell asleep during. (Though, with that film, it was likely the fact that it was a midnight showing after a tame hockey-game bachelor’s party — that and it was also kind of a boring flick in general.) That bad luck for me apparently rubbed off once he got married, as he was also present when we went to go see The Avengers, and I was glued for that. (Honestly, Inglourious Basterds was also a late night showing during a very hectic and busy school schedule for me, so it wasn’t great timing.) But I’m digressing. Read more…

2011 in Review: Notable Films I Managed to Avoid, For Better or For Worse, May – September 2011

January 7, 2012 15 comments

<< Part 1: January – April 2011

Ah, summer. A time of blockbusters. The time of year that everyone looks forward to, even people who don’t necessarily like seeing a whole lot of films. 2011’s summer season for me was weird. I quit my job at an ice skating rink in Scottsdale sometime in June and began working full time at the warehouse I had also been working at, where I got a promotion from being a warehouse clerk to, of all things, a bookkeeper — a position my boss really took a chance with me on since the last time I did anything math-related was the easiest math class I could sign up for and still get the required credits to graduate on time with two years prior.

As such, I lost my movie-discussion buddy at the ice skating rink, which would then lead to my ignorance of several major releases in 2011. The friendships I forged there, particularly with my friend Lesley, continue to resonate with me but have also become a sort of symbol of my relationship with movies over the past year, as well, as I have grown to have fewer and fewer new encounters with both, much to my dismay.

I’m grateful for my current job, of course, as it is the first major promotion I’ve ever received, and I’ve gone on to also help in customer service, but without someone I am able to chat with and have meaningful, deep conversations about film with on a regular basis, the more disconnected I’ve grown from what is being released these days, including films I would have otherwise never heard about. Ultimately, this disconnect from what was happening would become so intolerable that I would force myself to start this blog, an aspiration that had been gestating in my heart for well over a year by the time I actually published my first article.

As with part one of this 2011 retrospective of films I didn’t see in theatres or at home, this is not intended to be my final say on these films, but rather a reflection upon what my impression of them was and why, if for any reason, I did not or chose not to see them.

Also, before I move forward, I want to to also thank everyone for the great response I’ve gotten over the past couple days. I never could have imagined  that I would get 3,333 views in one day, and the amount of comments I received on the first part by the first time I saw these figures was more than double the amount of people passing through on a daily basis without even leaving comments at all. To think that this has largely continued into the second day, as well, as I continued to be “Freshly Pressed” just floors me, and I’m more than touched and thrilled to have you all reading my site! Welcome to The Viewer’s Commentary, and I hope you’re enjoying your stay!

Now then, on to the article! Read more…

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