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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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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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REVIEW: From Up on Poppy Hill (コクリコ坂から)

November 13, 2013 1 comment
From Up on Poppy HillDirected by: Goro Miyazaki
Produced by: Toshio Suzuki
Written by: Hayao Miyazaki, Keiko Niwa (screenplay)
Edited by: Takeshi Seyama
Cinematography by: Atsuhi Okui
Music by: Satoshi Takebe
Starring: Masami Nagasawa, Sarah Bolger, Junichi Okada, Anton Yelchin, Keiko Takeshita, Christina Hendricks, Jun Fubuki, Jamie Lee Curtis, Yuriko Ishida, Gillian Anderson, Takashi Naito, Bruce Dern, Shunsuke Kazama, Charlie Saxton, Teruyuki Kagawa, Beau Bridges, Rumi HIiragi, Aubrey Plaza, Emily Osment, Goro Miyazaki, Ronan Farrow, Ron Howard
Based on the manga by Tetsuro Sayama and Chiziru Takahasi
Year: 2011 (Japan), 2013 (US)

 

A friend of mine pointed out soon after he read this review that it’s important that I specify that I watched the English dub — not due to the dub’s inherent inferiority (it is very good), but due to a stylistic choice in the English dub’s voice casting of a character during a pivotal dream sequence. I will not spoil it here, but after having this brought to light, I feel it is necessary that I point this out. I actually really like the thematic depth the English dub adds, whereas he did not. Either way, my rating stands.

I’m normally an admirer of his reviews, but I must say that it’s a shame that Roger Ebert regarded From Up on Poppy Hill as a disappointment, especially as he was such a notable fan of Studio Ghibli’s, and this would, sadly, be the last film of theirs that he would ever review. While it may not reach the same sort of visual spectacle of the studio’s more fantastic and popular films – Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind among the studio’s most notable – From Up on Poppy Hill is no less a visual masterpiece and is one of the more touching, quieter films that have come out of the studio. It may not go on to be their most memorable or most favorited film among the studio’s throngs of fans, but as director Goro Miyazaki’s second film after the disappointing Tales from Earthsea, which actually was more like what you would expect from an anime studio, to criticize this dramatically superior but more intimate film for being something that it never aspired to be in the first place feels like doing the film a disservice. 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…

Review: “Billy Madison”

June 26, 2013 2 comments
Billy MadisonDirected by: Tamra Davis
Produced by: Robert Simonds
Written by: Adam Sandler, Tim Herlihy
Edited by: John Gilroy, Jeffrey Wolf
Cinematography by: Victor Hammer
Music by: Randy Edelman
Starring: Adam Sandler, Bradley Whitford, Bridgette Wilson, Josh Mostel, Darren McGavin, Norm Macdonald, Mark Beltzman, Larry Hankin, Theresa Merritt, Dina Platias, Chris Farley, Steve Buscemi
Year: 1995

 

As a kid, I had several friends who were massive Adam Sandler fans. I liked him well enough, I guess, being a 90s kid who actually watched Saturday Night Live quite often for someone my age, but I never liked him nearly as much as I did Jim Carrey, who, in my grade school mind, was seen as some sort of rival to Sandler – the Nintendo to Sandler’s Sega. The movies I saw Sandler in were just nowhere near as funny as Carrey’s to me, and it’s a sentiment I still hold to this day. But with every passing comedy that he made, Adam Sandler grated on my nerves more and more, even if I hadn’t seen the films in question – the trailers were pretty much all I needed. The few films I actually did get around to watching only made me dislike him more by association. His most recent output pales in comparison to even Jim Carrey’s worst films. I’d much rather watch the dull Yes Man three times over a single second more from Grown Ups, Bedtime Stories, or, even worse, the horrendous Jack and Jill. Read more…

Review: “Mean Girls”

May 30, 2013 2 comments
Mean GirlsDirected by: Mark Waters
Produced by: Lorne Michaels, Tony Shimkin, Louise Rosner, Jill Messick
Written by: Tina Fey (screenplay)
Edited by: Wendy Greene Bricmont
Cinematography by: Daryn Okada
Music by: Rolfe Kent
Starring: Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Lizzy Caplan, Daniel Franzese, Lacey Chabert, Amanda Seyfried, Jonathan Bennett, Tina Fey, Tim Meadows, Ana Gasteyer, Neil Flynn, Amy Poehler
Based on the book Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence by Rosalind Wiseman
Year: 2004

 

Girls are awful. As a guy who had to go through his fair share of teasing from other guys from pretty much kindergarten onward, I can say with all honesty that no matter how mean the guys were, nothing compared to the way I saw my female peers treat one another and the guys they were around. One particular incident in 7th grade, where I had a note asking a particular girl out along with a ribbon rose made my mom in what I thought was the girl’s favorite color, has possibly tainted my romantic life forever thanks to the girls teasing me about getting the color wrong and the girl I was asking out taking until the end of the school year to tell me “Yeah… sorry, no,” after months of her flirting with the guy who picked on me. My sister had it even worse, however, being — well, another girl. The stories I heard from her make my experiences seem like a fairy tale with a happily ever after. The types of girls she dealt with apparently either did not see or understand Carrie – they even pulled the old nominating my sister for homecoming queen trick. Luckily, my sister heard about a scheme and managed to avoid whatever it was they were planning. Read more…

2012 IN REVIEW – The Films I Didn’t See: January – April

January 12, 2013 5 comments

Wreck-It Ralph - Bad-Anon meeting

2012 was a surprisingly satisfying year for movies, whether you wanted serious dramas or escapist fantasies, but it’s pretty much impossible to for any one person to see all the movies that come out within the span of one year, and I’m no different.

While I tried my best to see most of the big movies and the movies that came out in 2012 and all the movies that I was interested in, whether in theatres or on home video, there were many that I admittedly never got around to, didn’t care to getting around to, or had never even heard of to get around to them.

Though 2013’s just getting started, I’m going take some time to look back on the past year over the next couple weeks, starting with the films that I didn’t’ see. As with last year, the commentary below is not necessarily going to match up with my final impression of any given movie once I do actually come around to seeing them (if at all), and is solely meant to express why I never got around to it and, possibly, whether or not I intend to see it all. This is all based on plot synopses, Rotten Tomatoes scores, Wikipedia entries, a few external reviews, and, of course, the films’ trailers, and, once again, are not necessarily reflective of a final opinion of a film.

The Dark Knight Rises - Batman

I start, of course, at the very beginning for this first part. Lots of films released during this traditional dumping ground period were smaller films, films that were released in foreign countries or film festivals back in 2011, or were just outright given their timeslot because the studio just had very little faith in the film’s performance at the box office. Sometimes films fall into all three categories. You’ve possibly even forgotten about them or haven’t even heard about them, or maybe you forgot you heard about them and only vaguely remember the name, maybe a few clips from the trailers you saw some time long ago. I know that was the case for me.

But that shouldn’t discourage you from seeing some of these films. Many of them actually look quite promising, and I’ve even added several to my various media queues, too. Hopefully you’ll find some films among the rotting corpses of the genuinely awful ones that were exiled to the early year winter and feel compelled to give these films a second (or third) glance once you remember what they are. Read more…

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