That’s All Folks! / See You Next Year?

365 days ago I set off on a movie going odyssey that took me through some of the best and some of the worst movies ever made. It was great, but it was also hard. I passed on things I wanted to do because I knew I needed to watch a movie that day. I also utterly failed to complete the second part of my goal which was preparation for running a marathon. It was just too much in terms of time consumption. I could not do both and live my life. I am setting fitness as a goal for next year and will be working toward my secondary goal in the new year. I intend to continue using this blog to track my progress on that goal, but I will be taking a break for the month of January.

It will be weird not structuring my day around watching a movie. It is said that if you do anything for thirty straight days it is a habit. Well it has been 365, so I suspect there will be some withdrawal symptoms. Watching all those movies was a lot of fun. I also learned a lot about time management and self control that will be useful in other areas of my life. In many ways completing this challenge has changed my outlook on a great many things including what is truly valuable in life. There were certainly moments where I though about quitting like when I got accidentally, deliriously, day drunk on beer that was way stronger than I thought it would be and needed help getting into bed. But, I watched a movie while recovering from the hangover. I am very glad that I stuck with it and I feel like I got a lot out of all this. It is always nice to realize that every problem you have is a first world problem and you can kick back and watch a movie.

Hopefully you enjoyed the ride! Happy New Year!

December Summary

December 1st: Your Name. (2016)
December 2nd: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
December 3rd: Sorry to Bother You (2018)
December 4th: Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
December 5th: Toy Story 2 (1999)
December 6th: Toy Story 3 (2011)
December 7th: Office Christmas Party (2016)
December 8th: The City of the Dead (1960)
December 9th: Eighth Grade (2018)
December 10th: The Stepford Wives (1975)
December 11th: M (1931)
December 12th: The Sting (1973)
December 13th: Incredibles 2 (2018)
December 14th: The Breakfast Club (1985)
December 15th: The Third Man (1949)
December 16th: American Beauty (1999)
December 17tH: The Lives of Others (2006)
December 18th: American Psycho (2000)
December 19th: The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
December 20th: Princess Mononoke (1997)
December 21st: Inside Out (2015)
December 22nd: Black Mass (2015)
December 23rd: The Equalizer 2 (2018)
December 24th: Gone With The Wind (1939)
December 25th: Krampus (2015)
December 26th: Hotel Artemis (2018)
December 27th: Kin 2018 / Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
December 28th: Mile 22 (2018)
December 29th: Dredd (2012)
December 30th: This Is The End (2013) / 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
December 31st: Snowpiercer (2013)

The Best of October: American Beauty (1999) and Sorry to Bother You (2018)

The classics I watched this month were mostly very disappointing aside from The Grapes of Wrath and The Sting both of which were great movies. But, I didn’t need to leave either out to make these picks.

American Beauty has terrific performances. Spacey’s performance rivals that of his turn in The Usual Suspects and it is just an overall terrific ride with a commentary about American life that is hard to ignore. It is still very pertinent today.

Sorry to Bother You features some great performances and an artistic style that gives it real panache. I didn’t see the movie taking such a science fiction tilt and it was like a breath of fresh air. As the movie trends more into the realm of magical realism it gets more interesting. It also represents the corporate America that we all get to live in today.

The Worst of October: Gone With The Wind (1939) and Mile 22 (2018)

Gone With The Wind is historical garbage, romanticizes a way of life built on the backs of slaves, all while sanitizing the very south that brutalized African slaves for generations. it is disgusting enough for that reason alone. I don’t understand why it is not classified with The Birth of a Nation for its openly racist agendas. The second half is dull and could have used an editor or six. It is a well made movie and Clark Gable is terrific at times, but all of its many flaws do not make it worth placement in the canon of great American movies.

Mile 22 is as derivative as it gets. It is on the same level as the Slender Man. There isn’t anything in particular wrong with it. It is just the most mediocre middle course you could take with a movie. It also featured former MMA star Ronda Rousey and did nothing with her talent. Wahlberg is Wahlberg, but there is no need to see this movie.

Day 365 – Snowpiercer (Yekaterina Bridge – Happy New Year!)

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Movie Title: Snowpiercer

First Watch / Repeat Viewing

Running Time: 2 hr. 6 min.

Rated: R

Who did I watch with?: Flying Solo

Where did I watch it?: Home

Review:

Snowpiercer presents an intriguing vision of the future that is simultaneously well thought out and silly. The concept of Snowpiercer itself is the ridiculous part. The train is laughable. The MBTA doesn’t run if we get too much snow. In a world that is literally frozen to death the odds that tracks would be kept clear all over the world is highly improbable and the odds of the train being able to clear any and all debris is bunk. But, the train isn’t really the focal point of the story. The train is much more an allegory for society rather than a literal construct.

The train is divided into three social classes. The engine and first class section of the train are controlled by the elite. The middle are economy passengers that paid for a ticket and are therefore entitled to some type of respectable treatment. The end is third class and prisoners. They didn’t pay anything to get on the train and are treated like cattle for the amusement of the rest of the train. They are also a stable work supply that can be called upon as needed. They have attempted revolution before and are about to attempt it again. The government is represented by the trains conductor Wilford who is treated as a benevolent yet distant overlord that sees to the operation of the train. He is also a vaguely religious figure who preaches a doctrine encouraging people to treat the train as a sacred object.

The cast and direction are fantastic. Chris Evans is perfect as the leading action hero. Kang-ho Song is excellent as a drugged out computer hacker. John Hurt is amazing in one of his final significant performances. Tilda Swinton is the prime minister of the train and turns in a beautiful performance as an absolutely sadistic and self serving government official. Ed Harris, Jamie Bell, and Octavia Spencer all have excellent performances in smaller roles. There is also commentary about class, treatment of people on drugs, and authority. The formation of the train may seem far fetched, but if you look at something akin to the Stamford Prison Experiment it is not so unlikely to forge a society like this in a short period of time. The fight sequences are well choreographed and the plot is well paced.

Verdict:

Ignore the concept of Snowpiercer and instead focus on the style and substance. There is a lot there to be admired in its direction, its commentary, its performances, and its overall value. See it.

Day 364 – This Is The End

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Movie Title: This Is The End

First Watch / Repeat Viewing

Running Time: 1 hr. 47 min.

Rated: R

Who did I watch with?: Flying Solo

Where did I watch it?: Home

Review:

This Is The End is a fantasy buddy comedy starring and directed by Seth Rogen and featuring his stable of friends. James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, and Seth Rogen are all trapped in James Franco’s house following a party during which the literal apocalypse from Revelations starts taking place. The party sequence is funny and features the deaths of some well known actors though none more hilarious then baby faced Michael Cera’s departure.

The movie is hilarious as they try and cope with each other in very juvenile ways. The character’s idiosyncrasies are explored and they are forced to deal with their own neuroses. Perhaps one of the biggest issues is that many of the people in the house are frauds and don’t really like each other. It also features a fantasy sequence for Pineapple Express 2 and a play on The Exorcism of Emily Rose that features Jonah Hill. At times the movie is hilarious while at others just amusing, but it is a fun ride all the way through. It also features one of the best uses of a Celine Dion song since Titanic.

Verdict:

This Is The End is a funny movie, especially if you like the Apatow / Rogen brand of comedy. See it.

Tomorrow’s Movie: Snowpiercer (2013)

Day 363 – Dredd

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Movie Title: Dredd

First Watch / Repeat Viewing

Running Time: 1 hr. 35 min.

Rated: R

Who did I watch with?: Stephie

Where did I watch it?: Home

Review:

Dredd is perfect. Some of you might remember the Sylvester Stallone incarnation of Judge Dredd that came out in 1995. It was a movie I wanted to love. The marketing had the right look. It had a cool cast with Jurgen Prochnow and Max von Sydow in the ranks. Unfortunately, it did not live up to expectations. Stallone refused to wear the mask throughout and showed way too much of his mug, Rob Schneider attempted to turn it into a buddy comedy which was painful, and the story devolved into pure trash after the first forty or so minutes. Judge Dredd was so terribly disappointing because the shadow of a great movie can be seen in the final product, but unfortunately it is consumed by all the things that ruined it. The character of Judge Dredd being fairly marginal in the United States, I also assumed I would never get to see someone take a second crack at it. Mercifully, I was wrong.

Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is tasked with training a new recruit named Anderson. Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) failed her aptitude testing, but is a powerful psychic in a world prejudiced against mutants. She gets to call the shots on her training mission and Dredd acts as her overseer and evaluator. Anderson decides to check out a triple homicide at a housing project called Peach Trees. It is one of the roughest neighborhoods in Mega City One which stretches from Boston to Washington D.C. In this world judges are more than their name implies. Only about 6% of significant crimes get a response and when judges arrive they are judge, jury, and if need be executioner. Upon arriving they snag some low level drug offenders, but one of them has crucial information for a gang that has taken over the block with a new drug called Slo-Mo. Slo-Mo makes the world feel like it is moving at 1% of normal speed. The Ma-Ma Clan is run by the synonymous Ma-Ma played beautifully by Lena Headey. She is ruthless and puts the block under lockdown. With the judges trapped inside Peach Trees, she sets the entire criminal community of the block with the task of putting them down. The story is great. It is tight and it has style.

Most importantly Urban is Dredd. He plays the character the way it is meant to be played. You never see his face. His lines of dialogue would make Calvin Coolidge proud and he is dispassionate about dispensing justice. Olivia Thirlby is also on point as Anderson. The world also feels right. It is grim, but there is life happening around the violent world that surrounds it. The movie has comedic moments, but they are dark. This is the way it should be. There are rumors online that Urban would love to reprise his role as Dredd, perhaps even for a Netflix TV series. I can only hope this is true, especially in the wake of Netflix cancelling some of its grittier and more popular TV series associated with Marvel. Do the right thing Netflix and make Dredd great again!

Verdict:

Dredd is a perfect representation of the character and the world he inhabits. It is violent, stylish, and darkly humorous. See it.

Tomorrow’s Movie: This Is The End (2013)

Day 362 – Mile 22

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Movie Title: Mile 22

First Watch / Repeat Viewing

Running Time: 1 hr. 42 min.

Rated: PG-13

Who did I watch with?: Flying Solo

Where did I watch it?: Home

Review:

Mile 22 is a derivative action movie with a few high points that keep it from being a snooze. James Silva (Mark Wahlberg) and Bishop (John Malkovich) run an elite special operations unit for the United States government. They are disavowed while they are on missions and would receive no protection from the U.S. government should a mission go sideways. The movie opens with the unit taking down a Russian spying operation in a small U.S. suburb. Things do not go well and all the Russians end up dead as Bishop orders the operation scrubbed clean.

After finding no moral quandaries with more or less assassinating a few people, the next mission shifts to Indonesia. A high profile special forces agent named Li Noor (Iko Uwais) has acquired special intelligence about the location of nuclear material that could easily destroy four or five cities making them uninhabitable for a generation. He turns himself in at the U.S. embassy. Silva’s mission is simple. He is supposed to take the asset 22 miles to an improvised air strip and get him to the U.S. In exchange he will provide a code that will unlock a database with the relevant information included.

The characters are exceptionally cookie cutter. It is completely unclear why we should root for any of them. Wahlberg’s character is ostensibly a genius, but he just plays him like an asshole. Alice Kerr has a child she doesn’t see. The other characters have no discernible character traits at all. A lot of the action is perfunctory shoot out type of action. Alicia Kerr does have one pretty cool fight scene, but most of the exceptional action is carried by Iko Uwais who has really excellent action sequences.

There is a lot of dialogue that waxes poetic about the action happening on screen that doesn’t fit into the movie. The movie utilizes jump cuts at an alarming rate and some of them don’t make any logical sense. The actual events of the movie are highly illogical. The ending is highly predictable if you paid any attention at all too the plot. Wahlberg’s character says late in the movie that it “was a very simply story.” I would argue that it was almost too simple to be made into a movie because when you consider it even a little at the end it makes no sense.

Verdict:

Mile 22 has some moments and if you are able to watch it without thinking at all it might be passable for a snow day. Skip it.

Tomorrow’s Movie: Dredd (2012)

Day 361 – Kin

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Movie Title: Kin

First Watch / Repeat Viewing

Running Time: 1 hr. 42 min.

Rated: PG-13

Who did I watch with?: Flying Solo

Where did I watch it?: Home

Review:

Kin is a combination crime, road trip, and science fiction movie. Jimmy Smolinski (Jack Reynor) is fresh out of prison. While he was in jail he paid some notorious fellows led by Taylor Balik (James Franco) to keep him on this side of the dirt. Now that he is out he needs $60,000 dollars to maintain the status quo.

Jimmy goes to visit his father Hal (Dennis Quaid) who is about as straight laced as it comes. Hal refuses to give him the money, so Jimmy and Taylor rob his job site where they know they can get a lot of money. Hal walks in on the robbery and people end up dead. But, not Taylor, and he wants revenge. Jimmy and adopted son Eli (Myles Truitt) hit the road under false pretenses in order to escape Detroit alive picking up a stripper (Zoe Kravitz) along the way.

The crimes become more foolish and outlandish as the trip progresses. You would think they would be trying to keep a low profile, but they blow things up all the way across the midwest. The road trip is where most of the emphasis is placed and while some bonding occurs it is mostly built on the back of lies. The science fiction element is fairly awkwardly placed. The gun becomes the real game changer in the movie, but there are a lot of illogical elements. The conclusion is perplexing and vague. It left me with a lot of unanswered questions and it made the rest of the movie not make a lot of sense.

There are a lot of weak plot elements. The future soldiers get from Detroit to Iowa in no time. There is no way to remotely lock down a future gun with fingerprint sensitivity. A club that is destroyed in a fight is repaired literally overnight. The police are some of the most inept ever put on celluloid. Some of the decisions made by the future soldiers do not make any sense in the light of the ending. All the characters are pretty unlikable though there is a neat Michael B. Jordan cameo.

Verdict:

It is a very watchable movie, but it is also highly illogical. Take it or leave it.

Tomorrow’s Movie: Mile 22 (2018)