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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: “Steel Magnolias” (1989)

Steel Magnolias (1989)Directed by: Herbert Ross
Produced by: Ray Stark, Andrew Stone, Victoria White
Written by: Robert Harling
Edited by: Paul Hirsch
Cinematography by: John A. Alonzo
Music by: Georges Delerue
Starring: Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis, Julia Roberts, Tom Skerritt, Sam Shepard, Dylan McDermott, Kevin J. O’Connor
Based on the play by Robert Harling
Year: 1989

 

Steel Magnolias is one of those films I used to automatically think about when I thought of the term “chick flick.” It may well be one of those movies, like Sleepless in Seattle, which helped make me aware that movies can become so “gendered” and that there’s such a stigma attached to them that, if you just happened to like the film and not be part of the target demographic (i.e., women), then people begin to… well… “question” you. And I think I knowingly let this affect my enjoyment of the film and would overtly express my disgust for the film whenever the prospect of putting it on arose. Of course, I was probably ten around that time, but that stigma tainted all my future attempts to watch this movie with my mom, who happens to be a huge fan, even though I knew that, secretly, I found much to enjoy about it. And, even then, having been long since out of the house, time has also certainly taken its toll on my memory as to what it was that I enjoyed. Read more…

2012 IN REVIEW: The Best Films of the Year

February 16, 2013 Leave a comment

At last, we come to the climax of my review of the films of 2012. To those of you who continue to keep up with me, I one again apologize for the slow updates — I saw so many movies this past year and have been doing so much this past month that it’s been hard to keep up with a regular update schedule!

This is how I felt ALL WEEK!

This is how I felt ALL WEEK!

I’m currently in the process of moving, with my best friend / roommate moving back to his hometown to be closer to family, so it’s been tough keeping up with the blog, hanging out with him a few more times after seven awesome years of being roommates, while also just figuring stuff out for the next period of my life living as a single person for the first time. It’s tough, but thankfully he lives where my family lives, and it’s only 100 miles away. Lucky for any fans I may have (Hello!…?), it’ll likely result in me doing more reviews, though the higher amount of rent I’ll be paying will undoubtedly impact my ability to go to the theatre as often as I have been.

On that note, before I get to the meat of this final entry, I want to thank everyone who has been reading this blog, regularly or even sporadically. I may not know you, but I appreciate you! This may be a hobby of mine, but it’s meaningful to me and keeps me sharp. I started The Viewer’s Commentary in September of 2011, after lots of personal setbacks and a good long while of feeling stupid and even being made to feel stupid for wanting to start a blog about movies, and by the time I finally decided to just go for it and not listen to the negativity, I still didn’t really know whether I was going to still be writing in even a few months’ time. So to already be in the middle of my second year and still be having a blast getting my thoughts and opinions out there about one of my favorite subjects has truly been a great experience. To those of you who have read, continue to read, and even to those of you I know personally who encouraged me and maybe don’t even share my passion and probably aren’t even reading this now but you supported me all the same, thank you again for being there! I’m definitely looking forward to what 2013 promises to bring! (STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS! FINALLY!)

The film's villain amongst a bunch of red shirts. This isn't going to end well...

The film’s villain amongst a bunch of red shirts. This isn’t going to end well…

Anyway, enough self-reflection! You’re here for the rundown of the best films of 2012, aren’t you? I assume so, since you are continuing to read this. I’ll let you get to that, but first, let me explain how this list is working, as I’ve changed it up a bit from last year and from most other “Best Of” lists.

First off, last year I did it in multiple parts (here, here, and, finally, here – in order). None of that this time. You’re getting this all in one big wave!

Secondly, and this is related to the third alteration, there are no longer just 10 films on this list, but rather a whopping 17. Why?

Well, that’s because the third alteration I made is that I’ve decided that a lot of the best films of the year weren’t necessarily my favorites, but I wanted to recognize their greatness by putting them on this list anyway, rather than lump them in with the films that were just average. (I did something similar with the “Films I Liked” this year after realizing I didn’t necessary love nor despise a lot of films enough to put them on the worst or best of lists.)

Honestly, what the hell?!

This did not make the list. This shouldn’t make any listsBECAUSE IT SHOULDN’T EXIST!

So, while the films below are all fantastic films and deserve to be considered among the best of the year, their order has everything to do with favoritism over quality. After all, lists like these are highly subjective, and while it’s certainly possible to objectively call a film “one of the best,” ultimately by ranking such diverse works against one another, you just have to acknowledge the fact that you’re playing favorites.

 

So, yeah, anyway to review and summarize: These are, in my opinion, THE BEST FILMS OF 2012, but they are ORDERED ACCORDING TO FAVORITISM. Make sense? I hope so! If not, then just keep reading on, ’cause I think you’ll get it, anyway! Read more…

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Theatrical Review: “The Amazing Spider-Man”

July 9, 2012 4 comments
Directed by: Marc Webb
Produced by: Avi Arad, Laura Ziskin, Matt Tolmach
Written by: JamesVanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves (screenplay); James Vanderbilt (story)
Cinematography by: John Schwartzman
Music by: James Horner
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott, Irrfan Khan, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Chris Zylka
Year: 2012

 

A Foreword on the Reboot

Is it just me, or is cynicism the attitude of late with movie going audiences these days? I get that we’re starting to realize, more and more, that Hollywood, as a business, just really doesn’t care about the art, of their industry, or originality, or creativity as much as it does money, but, really, all the cynics should’ve realized this a lot sooner ’cause that’s how it’s always been. The attitude I’ve seen on internet discussions can hardly be called “jaded,” because there’s just too much hostility, less like a cry for higher quality entertainment and more like animosity towards any film that we really will know little about until they actually come out — primarily with films that involve the phrase “reboot.” It’s really all Christopher Nolan’s fault, to be honest. He had the audacity to reboot the Batman film franchise and turn it into gold, which in Hollywoodese means that everything must be given the gritty reboot treatment!

The reaction to his two Batman films has been largely positive, ecstatic, even, but with The Dark Knight Rises coming out soon, it seems like people are already hailing it as an inevitable letdown for some reason. Casino Royale was pretty much the first major franchise to be given the reboot treatment, and that worked out pretty well, too, though even that film had its critics — people who hated the film based on the blonde-and-blue-eyed Daniel Craig or its turn towards the gritty and serious, people who apparently longed for the days of gadgetry, Denise Richards, and James Bond in space, I suspect. Like with Batman, I’m already seeing people ready to see them crash and burn. People are apparently tired of revisiting old franchises and their stories all over again, despite the fact that they keep turning up for these films and convincing the studios otherwise. Perhaps the greatest affront to reboot-haters out there these days is the latest Spider-Man film.

Though they had their flaws, the Sam Raimi films created a largely appealing world for the Webslinger and had a largely fantastic cast in place. Scenes from the series — from the upside down kiss in the first film, the terrifying awakening of Doc Ock and the moving train sequence in the second, or even the overacted silliness of pretty much everything in the third (Peter strutting, emo Peter, James Franco’s hilarious delivery of the line “So good”) — all became iconic moments in superhero cinema. With this reboot, all that has seemingly been painted over, replaced with something new and unfamiliar masquerading as the old. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t among them for a while, but after the disastrous Spider-Man 3, I was willing to give it a chance, which is more than some were willing to give — there were actually those out there who were hoping that this would actually fail and teach Sony a lesson, largely due to the even more worrisome fact that Sony was more concerned about losing their hold on the Spider-Man license and allowing them to revert back to the now-Disney-owned Marvel.

Review

Despite being a reboot and, therefore, another origin story, The Amazing Spider-Man manages to cover enough new ground and present a familiar character and his world in new ways that it never feels like the film is aping the Raimi films while capturing that Spider-Man spirit. The continuity between the two franchises is non-existent — the stories of Peter’s spider bite and the death of Uncle Ben both get retold, as expected, but other than that, the new film is completely different in tone, style, and personality. The previous films took on a largely soap opera-like sensibility and a cartoon style for their action scenes and characterizations which emphasized their comic book origins, but director Marc Webb took this new series (and it will be a series, I assure you) in a more down-to-earth direction that manages to still be lively, retaining the heart and fun nature of the character and his world intact, though, as with the Raimi films, there are a few elements sacrificed along the way. Read more…

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