Lowering the Bar for 2017

Last night on TV I watch the first Sex and the City movie (2008). Seriously. Nope. Not good. Nooooooo. Letterboxd review. My wife informs me that she vigorously objects to my review.

Picking Cinematic Brains

Tonight I watched Hitchcock/Truffaunt (2015). Very fun movie that scratched my film studies itch. These kinds of documentaries just make me want to watch more movies and to seek out even more older movies I haven't gotten around to seeing yet. It gives some more insight to Hitchcock that I didn't know even though I often feel like I've heard everything, especially after watching all of the commentaries and documentaries from the Universal box set on Hitchcock. I knew so very little about Truffaut and this made me want to fill in my cultural blind spots of many of his movies. Letterboxd review.

The Original Seven

Yesterday I watched Seven Samurai (1954). This is not a short movie. I think the Criterion version I saw is three hours twenty minutes and I believe I read somewhere that there was a version that was over four hours long. The first time I saw this movie I was either in high school or college and watched a rented VHS version at a friend's house. I had pretty good endurance for movies back then but the quality of the print it came from and the standard definition made it feel like watching a movie while under water. Not to be an advertisement for blu-ray or Criterion or Universal, but the newly restored prints but the blu-rays I have watched of older films in the Criterion Collection or the

Underrated Adventures

Yesterday I watched John Carter (2012) and Tomorrowland (2015). These movies received scores of 50% and 51% on Rotten Tomatoes, considered rotten, but are two of the more adventurous and fun movies from the last few years that didn't come from Marvel. Both of these movies come from former Pixar directors Andrew Stanton for John Carter and Brad Bird for Tomorrowland. John Carter John Carter is a victim of its own marketing that stripped "of Mars" from the title so it wouldn't scare away people who wouldn't want to see a science fiction movie, and alienates the people who just might. At the time of the release it was based on a hundred year old story written by the man who later created Tarza

Killing in the Name of...

Today I watched Kill Bill parts 1 & 2 (2003 and 2004). I was in a college film studies class when this movie was announced. The professor for the class was excited there would be a new Quentin Tarantino movie coming out but he was incredibly skeptical if it was going to be any good of an action movie. "He's never done action in any of his movies," he had said. And Tarantino really hadn't done any action, or car chases, or martial arts in any of his movies. They were mostly known for quippy dialogue and pointing guns at each other. Pulp Fiction's story cuts around the big boxing match and any moments of action are quick and cut away. It's a good thing that professor's worries didn't come

Elf Movie III

Today I watched Lord of the Rings The Return of the King (2003). When I first saw this movie in the theater I thought it was my least favorite LOTR film. It seemed to drag on and on and refuse to end. The movie seemed to end and end and end for almost an hour in the theater and then the credits stretched the limitations for length of time a movie could scroll through names. A while later I picked up the extended version of The Return of the King and it moved into contending with The Two Towers as one of my all-time favorite movies. I'm not sure I can put my finger on what the extended version does to make this movie better other than that it seems to give some character depth and it must

Life Cinematic

This morning I watched The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004). This might be the one movie that has been interchangeable as my favorite movie with The Two Towers for the longest period of time. I'm sure a lot of the reason is that both movies came out while I was in college. It's kind of like the theory that you fill find the music you like in college then never stop listening to it for the rest of your life, and everything else that comes out after that is just the crap kids listen to. I don't quite think the movies now are the crap that kids watch these days, in fact I think most movies are better than they have been since I was young even if this year was a less impressive, down yea

Banned from Theaters

Today I watched The Interview (2014). This movie found a way to connect perfectly between The Inferno and the Lord of the Rings movies on this Christmas-time movie-fest. Into The Inferno may have connected with LOTR by giving an up close look at real life Mount Doom, but The Interview connects The Inferno's in depth look at North Korea with a LOTR subplot. For the whole movie, James Franco's character compares their journey to several different story lines in Lord of the Rings and another side character calls back at him the lines regarding "one ring to rule them all." The James Franco Character really wants to liken himself to Frodo and Seth Rogen's character to Sam, but in the end, it is

Selfish Shellfish

I wanted to catch up on some of the best rated movies of the year so this morning I watched The Lobster (2015). This movie got rave reviews and I can understand a lot of the love due to the quirky dialogue, the exaggerated acting whenever a character is lying, and the odd world building, but I don't share that love. In the end it's so bleak and so black and white of a world that I just wanted to leave it, no matter how surreal the story got. Colin Farrell's character escapes into the forest so he can live without love and face death on a daily basis because he didn't want to become and animal who lived without love and faced death on a daily basis. He's not a man who makes the best decisio

Elf Movie II

Yesterday I watched Lord of the Rings The Two Towers (2002). Most consistently, this has been my favorite LOTR movie, and that could mean it has been my favorite movie of all, at times. Oddly, when the extended versions came out, this was the one movie of the three that I did not buy until just the last couple of years. Luckily for me, the blu-ray extended versions were suddenly quite affordable not too long ago so my collection was updated. I hate to admit that they're the 3rd copies I had bought for the first and third movies. It's pretty fun to suddenly watch a newer longer version of one of your favorite movies about ten years after it came out. If I was incredibly patient and forwar

Not Inferno

Last night I watched Werner Herzog's Into the Inferno (2016). This is a movie that enters into Herner Herzog's interest of volcanos and pyroclastic flow, but doesn't disappoint for his entertaining asides that border on complete distractions. He never is really distracted as there's always a thread through his documentaries that tie everything together through his odd philosophy. This odd philosophy might not be insanity as it would be easy to label it because many of his films connect with the audience in an artful or poetic way and not like watching a freak show of incongruity. He dips into one of his favorite quirks in his documentaries of oddly staged conversations or events. In past

Elf Movie I

Tonight I watched Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring (2001). In our household, we have a little tradition of watching the Lord of the Rings movies around Christmas time. My wife enjoys this movie the most of the LOTR trilogy, although I place it third in the three. I don't dislike this movie, I love it, I just like the other two more. There was a time I liked it more than Return of the King but that film has grown on me over the years. I think I first saw this movie with my brother. We had a string of seeing all three original movies when they came out in the theater together although there might have been a few of those years he lived in another state and I was rather busy in

Catching up... way up.

In the last week I have seen: For the Love of Spock (2016), The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Magnificent Seven (2016), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), Man vs. Snake (2016). For the Love of Spock Pretty interesting look at the career and personal life of Leonard Nimoy. There was a lot about his non-Star Trek I didn't know, but I had hints of just from his appearances on Futurama. I had no idea he had an alcoholism problem and that he became sober in his later years. Letterboxd review. The Magnificent Sevens (1960 & 2016) I think it's worth it to write about both of these movies in the same section because their titles don't differentiate. The original film was a classic movie from my childho

May Contain R1 Spoilers

Last Friday night we went out to the Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles while on vacation to see Rogue One (2016). This movie had it all: CGI characters, old footage from 1977, maybe gay characters, everybody dies. Five Stars. This is definitely going to take a few more viewings to soak up all of the visuals. I didn't feel like I absorbed enough of the visuals of the great final sequence. Maybe I can request a cut of the film that's all slow motion for the storming of the beach scene. Rogue One: The Baywatch Cut. I don't have a lot of theories quiet yet on this film, although a good one is that the blind guy and the guy with the vacuum cleaner on his back could be a gay couple. In that cont

Out the Hobbit Hole

Last week I watched The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) and The Five Armies (2014). I watched these back to back on a very chilly day here in Minneapolis so they've kind of merged together a little. It is really fun to see that the two movies join together in the middle of the viewing process with Smaug escaping in at the very end of Desolation and the opening of Armies has him attacking the river city. It's a pretty spectacular sequence that changes the stakes of the film series from Smaug to the allure of the treasures under the mountain. Through much of this viewing I thought "this would make a great LOTR theme park ride." A lot of that is Legolis acting a little too superhuman

PTBNL In Best Shape of Career.

Player to be named later in the best shape of his career this off season. Renewed interest in this player has brought in a mystery team. With the help of a guru coach he has completely changed his mechanics to alter his swing. He has a renewed interest in baseball saying that he is willing to play anywhere on the field as long as it is not in Philadelphia.

High Society

In recent days I watched a pair of documentaries: Who the Fuck is Jackson Pollock (2006) and Sour Grapes (2016). The Jackson Pollock movie is about trucker who found a possible Jackson Pollock painting at a garage sale and her problems getting the art community to accept the provenance of the piece despite forensic evidence and the opinion of an art forger. The film Sour Grapes tells the story of a man who made his way into the world of expensive wine under a fake name. Over time it was found that many of the wines he was selling at auction were counterfeit, and some of them had inaccurate labels or were from years the kind of wine. The connection between these two movies is that the woman

Start the Presses

Today I finally got around to seeing Spotlight (2015). I have to admit I had twitches once it was revealed in this movie that one of the main predatory priests was named Father Talbot. It's a weird thing to hear your own name on screen. I was actually working in a newsroom back when Lost was airing and there was a single episode where a character named Peter Talbot showed up. I understand his role was to step on set, say his name, and die. I wasn't watching the show at that time so when I came in the next day to work I heard a few odd remarks from co-workers telling me how it was a funny experience for them. Funny because there was no diddling involved, I'm sure. This is a beautifully s

C for Cookie.

The other night I watched V for Vendetta (2005). Alan Moore one of a handful of writers whose works have had the deepest of impacts on me. He's an odd guy and who was screwed pretty early on in the film adaptations of his work. The adaptations after League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and From Hell were not bad movies although they might not have been faithful to the level of artistry of his own writing, even if they were overly close to the content. I'm looking at you, Zach Snyder's Watchmen. This is a fun movie, it's good to be reminded the Wachowski's had a hand in this even if they didn't direct it. I think it holds up well. The story certainly holds up, and the plot line of V imprison


The other day I watched Windy City Heat (2003). I was recently reminded of this movie by a podcast, although I don't recall which. This is a movie about a prank on an actor where everyone involved got him to believe he was the star of a movie that seemed to be written specifically for him. The jokes and the scope of the prank are pretty funny, although I'm not sure I buy that it's a genuine prank. I was trying to find some follow up on the people in the movie on youtube and found a clip from before the movie where the main character is seen on screen with Cousin Sal from Jimmy Kimmel/ Bill Simmons entertainment. In the movie, Cousin Sal plays a lawyer who negotiated the main character's

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