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2014 IN REVIEW: My Top Films of the Year

February 22, 2015 1 comment

The LEGO Movie - Batman and Benny

I saw so many movies this year, I honestly couldn’t pick the best movie. The selection was so wide because I saw so many, I honestly couldn’t pit movies I just enjoyed versus films I admired. So, this year, I’ve decided to do something different — I separated them into genres. it’s not exactly what you might expect – Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t in sci-fi, for instance, because it’s much more of an adventure film in space.

I’ve ordered these based on gut instinct overall, however, and so you’ll be able to see what I (currently) favored over others. That being said, however, all of these movies are fantastic.

I’m tired of explaining things, honestly. The process of doing the year in review this year was a lot longer than I intended. So, yeah. You know the drill. Read below! Read more…

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Categories: Year in Review Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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…

Categories: Year in Review Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

REVIEW: The Family Stone

December 21, 2014 12 comments
The Family StoneDirected by: Thomas Bezucha
Produced by: Michael London
Written by: Thomas Bezucha
Edited by: Jeffrey Ford
Cinematography by: Jonathan Brown
Music by: Michael Giacchino
Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Claire Danes, Dermot Mulroney, Craig T. Nelson, Luke Wilson, Tyrone Giordano, Brian J. White, Elizabeth Reaser, Paul Schneider
Year: 2005

 

Every family has a traditional family Christmas film, I’m fairly certain. My family has a few, and they’re probably yours, too: Christmas Vacation, It’s a Wonderful Life, Elf… (I’ve pretty much already exhausted reviewing all my favorites.) Of course, everyone has their oddballs. I like to throw in Die Hard, though not everyone recognizes that one as a Christmas movie (they totally should – family togetherness and such). My mom and sister? They like The Family Stone, and so, more often than not, that’s one of the movies we end up watching this time of year, though I, admittedly, usually end up finding a nice distraction while enjoying the company of family. I’m not a fan of the film, you see, and I’ve seen it enough times to feel like I knew it inside and out. I admittedly got a bit mouthy about it last year, though, despite seeing it a few times, and this upset them both. This year, I figured I’d watch it again on my own and see if I was being unfair to it. Naturally, this also meant that I intended on writing a review of it, too. Here it is. Read more…

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…

REVIEW: Love Actually

December 7, 2013 5 comments
Love ActuallyDirected by: Richard Curtis
Produced by: Duncan Kenworthy, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, Liza Chasin
Written by: Richard Curtis
Edited by: Nick Moore
Cinematography by: Michael Coulter
Music by: Craig Armstrong
Starring: Hugh Grant, Martine McCutcheon, Liam Neeson, Thomas Sangster, Colin Firth, Lúcia Moniz, Laura Linney, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Heike Makatsch, Bill Nighy, Gregor Fisher, Keira Knightley, Andrew Lincoln, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kris Marshall, Abdul Salis, Martin Freeman, Joanna Page, Billy Bob Thornton, Olivia Olson, Claudia Schiffer, Rowan Atkinson
Year: 2003

 

It wasn’t too long ago that director Garry Marshall was trying to suffocate us with an onslaught of celebrity-packed rom-coms that crammed in as many storylines and cameos as possible. I managed to avoid these movies up until the lead up to New Year’s Eve 2012, when I promised my stepsister I would review Marshall’s film named after the holiday. It was as bad as I was expecting, but my expectations were even lower at that time because I had also realized that the movie was an unabashed knock off of Love Actually, a British film that pretty much follows the same concept as Marshall’s later films, including the concept of centering it around a major holiday (Christmas) – only, in this case, the movie actually does some justice to the fluffy, audience-ensnaring concept. Read more…

REVIEW: Across the Universe

September 10, 2013 14 comments
Across the UniverseDirected by: Julie Taymor
Produced by: Jennifer Todd, Suzanne Todd, Charles Newirth
Written by: Julie Taymor, Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais
Edited by: Françoise Bonnot
Cinematography by: Bruno Delbonnel
Music by: The Beatles (songs written by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr), Elliot Goldenthal (original score), T-Bone Burnett (music producer), Matthias Gohl (songs producer)
Starring: Jim Sturgess, Evan Rachel Wood, Joe Anderson, Dana Fuchs, Martin Luther McCoy, T.V. Carpio, James Urbaniak, Bono, Joe Cocker, Eddie Izzard, Lisa Hogg, Robert Clohessy, Salma Hayek
Year: 2007

 

I remember being incredibly excited upon seeing the trailer for Across the Universe for the first time. Coming at a time when it looked like musicals were really and truly going to be the next big thing in Hollywood, here was a musical where I already knew I was going to love the music featured, so the movie already had me halfway. The promise of merging The Beatles’ music with a tale of two star-crossed lovers and friends getting caught up in the Sixties looked to be a promising experiment, if nothing else – some of the more visually engaging moments gave me visions of a Beatles-themed, live-action Fantasia with a narrative. While something of this nature has been attempted before, with the 1978 Peter Frampton/Bee Gees-starring Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band serving as a cautionary tale for just how badly something like this can go, Across the Universe looked to be going in the complete opposite direction with its tone, ditching the ridiculous fantasy world and the campiness by taking its era-spanning narrative seriously and The Beatles’ music with respect. Read more…

Review: “Macross II: The Movie” (“超時空要塞マクロスII -LOVERS AGAIN-“)

August 3, 2013 6 comments
Macross IIDirected by: Ken’ichi Yatagai
Produced by: Shinichi Iguchi, Hiroaki Inoue, Hiroshi Kakoi, Hirotake Kanda, Keiji Kusano, Minoru Takanashi
Written by: Sukehiro Tomita
Art Direction by: Hidenori Nakahata
Cinematography by: Kazuhiro Konishi
Music by: Shirô Sagisu
Starring: Tsutomu Takayama, Hiroko Kasahara, Yumi Tôma, Yoshisada Sakaguchi, Bin Shimada, Yukio Satō, Ryūzaburō Ōtomo, Takeshi Kusao, Yoshisada Sakaguchi, Tōru Furuya, Ryōtarō Okiayu, Takeshi Watabe, Aya Hara
Year: 1993

 

This is honestly the first non-Studio Ghibli, non-video-game-related anime movie I’ve ever really sat down to watch with the intention of actually watching the thing all the way through to the end. My friend who had suggested K-PAX a while ago had originally suggested the original Macross movie (actually a TV program edited into a movie which is more accurately named The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, but… well, we’ll just stick to Macross for this review), but, upon browsing Netflix, it looked like all they carried was the series version that spanned 8 discs – and there was no way I was going to watch all that. Hence, the coaxing of his left field suggestion of K-PAX. But, lucky for me, my friend had figured out that, yes, there is actually a Macross movie I could review, and he just so happened to own it: Macross II: The Movie (a.k.a.: The Super Dimension Fortress Macross II: Lovers Again, though, again, we’ll just shorten it to Macross II). Read more…

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