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31

Dec

365 Film Challenge: #98 - 118

98) Slither (dir. James Gunn, 2006)

  • A twisted and wacked-out alien invasion meets zombie film with some darkly comedic moments. And Nathan Fillion. B+

99) Casino Royale (dir. Martin Campbell, 2006) - rewatch

  • A damn fine Bond film and adaptation that still holds up. A

100) Quantum of Solace (dir. Marc Forster, 2008) - rewatch

  • A decent follow-up to ‘Casino Royale’, but it’s haphazard. I blame the writer’s strike. And the action is a little too quick/shaky. B

101) Seven Psychopaths (dir. Martin McDonagh, 2012) (mid-October)

  • A dark meta-comedy with a twisted sense of humor. Walken and Waits were the top. As was the cemetery bit. B+ (Might improve with a rewatch.)

102) Everything Or Nothing - The Untold Story of 007 (dir. Stevan Riley, 2012)

  • Alright documentary about the history of EON Productions and the Bond franchise. I was kind of expecting a little more … but it was good. B

103) We Have a Pope (dir. Nanni Moretti, 2011)

  • Amusing Italian comedy about a Pope-elect having an late-in-life crisis. B-/B

104) Argo (dir. Ben Affleck, 2012) (late October)

  • Pretty solid dramatization of a real CIA mission in the ’70s. Great and surprising cast all-around (Seriously, Victor Garber, Zeljko Ivanek, Kyle Chandler, Titus Welliver, Bryan Cranston, Chris Messina, Richard Kind, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Philip Baker Hall, Bob Gunton …). Great soundtrack, too. And I enjoyed the 1970s Warner Brothers logo. Nice touch. A-

105) SEAL Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden (dir. John Stockwell, 2012)

  • Halfway decent dramatization about the team that took down Osama. C

106) Wreck-It Ralph (dir. Rich Moore, 2012) (beginning of November)

  • First things first, I loved the short ‘Paperman’. It was a perfect mix of 2D and 3D animation. As for ‘Ralph’, there was so much to love, starting with all the cameos, arcade game nods, 8-bit animation … Great movie, and a great message about image and bullying. A-/A

107) Persepolis (dir. Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, 2007)

  • Pretty good adaptation of the two-book graphic novels. Loved the animation. Not much more to add, as it’s been almost two months since I saw the film. A-/A

108) Skyfall (dir. Sam Mendes, 2012) (opening weekend)

  • Lovelovelove this film. Such a good mix of classic Bond (the locales), new Bond (intense action), and Fleming tenets from the novels (villains posing a sexual threat to Bond, a sexually damaged woman). The single take of Bardem/Silva’s rat speech was gold. Really loved the color palette and the use of shadows (especially the gun fight in Shanghai). Great overarching theme of the relevance of spying in the modern world, too. A

109) And Then There Were None (dir. George Pollack, 1965)

  • Decent adaptation of ‘Ten Little Indians’ … which I still haven’t read. C+/B-

110) The Sessions (dir. Ben Lewin, 2012) (late November)

  • An uplifting story about a hopeless romantic polio-ridden quadriplegic poet and writer and his sex surrogate. John Hawkes was excellent. Loved William H. Macy as the comic relief, along with Adam Arkin’s role and Rhea Perlman’s bit part. A-

111) Sound of My Voice (dir. Zal Batmanglij, 2011/2012)

  • Unnerving drama about the power of a cult leader and the power of belief. B

112) Safety Not Guaranteed (dir. Colin Trevorrow, 2012)

  • Cute indie comedy with a dash of science fiction. A-

113) The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (dir. Peter Jackson, 2012) (opening day)

  • Another film on my LOVE IT list (more of a mental list, really). Loved Radagast and the additional material added in from the appendices, even if it was bloat, along with how the dwarves are being fleshed out so far. If you want to read my full review, check the first issue of The Anglerfish. B

114) Lincoln (dir. Steven Spielberg, 2012)

  • More like a stage play at times, the cast elevated the drama. Definitely surprised by a number of the cast members (Lee Pace, Tommy Lee Jones, Jackie Earle Haley, James Spader, John Hawkes, Jared Harris, Michael Stuhlbarg, Tim Blake Nelson, and Gregory Itzin, among others). Daniel Day Lewis is definitely heavily favored for Best Actor, but that goes without saying. A-/A

115) Ink (dir. Jamin Winans, 2009)

  • A decent indie metaphysical/supernatural drama bogged down by heavy use of obvious post-production filters, halfway decent acting, and relatively unknown actors. C/C+

116) Les Miserables (dir. Tom Hooper, 2012) (opening day)

  • Loved the film, but I had my qualms, namely Russell Crowe’s singing and emotions. Also loved the close-up and uncut performances, namely “I Dreamed A Dream”, “On My Own”, and “Bring Him Home”. Teared up during “Castle on a Cloud”, “I Dreamed A Dream” (all the awards for Anne, please), and Fantine and Valjean’s deaths. Not a perfect adaptation, but a pretty good one. B+/A-

117) Young Frankenstein (dir. Mel Brooks, 1974) - rewatch

  • The film still holds up, what can I say? One of my favorites. A

118) Django Unchained (dir. Quentin Tarantino, 2012)

  • A blaxploitation-revenge-spaghetti-western meets ‘Blazing Saddles’ with a touch of anti-‘Birth of a Nation’. Pretty damn good, and the first Tarantino I’ve managed to see in theaters (shocking, I know). Plenty of laughs, surprising actor appearances (MC Gainey, the original Django, and some others I won’t give away), and anachronistic music a-plenty. And there were 108 (110 according to TMZ) N-bombs (and 31 F-bombs). Yes, I counted both. A-

28

Aug

365 Film Challenge: #56 - 77

56) The Amazing Spider-Man (dir. Marc Webb, 2012)

  • Well-done reboot of the series, even though the origin story wasn’t necessary … but it was still handled nicely. A-

57) Monsters (dir. Gareth Edwards, 2010)

  • Good monster flick that sets up an interesting world to explore. B+

58) You Only Live Twice (dir. Lewis Gilbert, 1967)

  • Bond in Japan, Blofeld’s first appearance, good stunts and locales. B-

59) Iron Man (dir. John Favreau, 2008)

  • Excellent superhero flick that still holds up. A

60) The Perfect Host (dir. Nick Tomnay, 2010)

  • Interesting psychological thriller with an interesting twist or two. B

61) On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (dir. Peter Hunt, 1969)

  • Good effort by Lazenby, stepping in and humanizing the role of Bond, and not making him as much of a womanizer, but showing that in some cases, his flings don’t mean anything (i.e., They’re for the mission.). B (See review for more.)

62) The Dark Knight Rises (dir. Christopher Nolan, 2012)

  • Masterful conclusion to an epic trilogy. A-/A

63) Diamonds Are Forever (dir. Guy Hamilton, 1971)

  • The end of the Connery era. Longer, unnecessary chases that serve to perhaps show the ineptitude of the US police force. B-/B (See review for more.)

64) Beasts of the Southern Wild (dir. Benh Zeitlin, 2012)

  • Amazing … a simply amazing look at the backwoods of a fictional New Orleans post-Katrina with a fantastical twist, told from the viewpoint of a 6-year-old girl. Go. A/A+

65) Live and Let Die (dir. Guy Hamilton, 1973)

  • Moore’s first outing as Bond. The film plays on blaxplotation, and relies on the novel for the characters, mostly. Otherwise, it’s a different beast. Sgt. Pepper is a no-no. But you’ve got music from George Martin and a theme song from Paul McCartney and Wings. B-/B (See review for more.)

66) The Intouchables (dir. Oliver Nakache and Eric Toledano, 2011)

  • An inspirational affirming French dramedy. Go. A/A+

67) The Man With The Golden Gun (dir. Guy Hamilton, 1974)

  • Continues the outlandish parodical nature of the previous Bond film, but it’s kung fu instead of blaxplotation. Sgt. Pepper returns and is the ignorant big-shot American tourist. *facepalm* Very different from the novel, too. C+/B- (See review for more.)

68) Ruby Sparks (dir. Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, 2012)

  • Interesting meta-commentary on writers and their power over their creations. Definitely made me think about what liberties I take with whomever I write about … whenever that happens. A-

69) The Bourne Legacy (dir. Tony Gilroy, 2012)

  • Good side-story in the Bourne universe, but you kind of need to be knowledgeable about Bourne going into the film. Also glad that Rachel Weisz wasn’t sexualized, etc. But the ending chase goes on a bit longer than need be. B+/A-
70) The Spy Who Loved Me (dir. Lewis Gilbert, 1977)
  • The Cold War returns to the Bond series and it’s done well. Definite improvement over ‘Golden Gun’. B (See review for more.)
71) Miss Representation (dir. Jennifer Siebel Newsom, 2011)
  • Great relevant documentary topic. Still conflicted thoughts about the male gaze, etc. Feeling guilty for being a part of the perpetuating gender, but wanting to do what I can to change things for the better. A-
72) Inside Job (dir. Charles Ferguson, 2010)
  • Timely documentary, but I’m not a financial know-it-all. I do know this: Financial businesses shouldn’t screw over Main Street to reap the benefits. A-
73) ParaNorman (dir. Sam Fell and Chris Butler, 2012)
  • Ah, well-done stop motion, fun and light story, ghosts and zombies, and a good look at what it means to be unique, even if you’re a social outcast because you can see and speak with ghosts. A-
74) Moonraker (dir. Lewis Gilbert, 1979)
  • Bond in space … eh … over-reliance on gadgets, odd handling of Jaws, nothing like the novel … C+/B- (See review for more.)
75) Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (dir. Brad Bird, 2011)
  • Still holds up. Everything you want in a spy film: damn cool stunts, impressive locales, neat gadgets that aren’t outlandish, megalomaniac who wants to destroy the world … A 
76) For Your Eyes Only (dir. John Glen, 1981)
  • A move back towards realism in the Bond series, but Moore is starting to show his age. Seriously. A spy in his mid-50s hooks up with someone half his age. NOOOOOOOOOOOO thanks. And the chase through the Olympic training area goes on for too long. But good locales (nothing too exotic), minimal reliance on gadgets, and another return to the Cold War setting. B (See review for more.)
77) Good Night, and Good Luck (dir. George Clooney, 2005)
  • I’ve been getting a bit into news-related things these days, namely ‘The Hour’. I’d been wanting to see this film for a while and hadn’t gotten around to it, but I was able to grab this at the library yesterday. Great cast (including the small appearances by Peter Jacobson and Robert Knepper, among others) and a relevant story that’s still applicable in today’s 24/7 news world. B+/A-

01

Jul

365 Film Challenge: #46 - #55

46) Martha Marcy May Marlene (really 41 or 42, but it slipped my mind when writing up the previous post) (dir. Sean Durkin, 2011)

  • An interesting look at the effect of a cult on a young woman. Shocking and powerful. 4/4.5 out of 5

47) From Russia With Love (dir. Terence Young, 1963)

  • Continuing the Bond franchise, but out of order, going by the novels. Still a decent film, but it has its issues (underdeveloped female characters, suave womanizer, Cold War tension, etc.), which are a part of the era the film was released in. 3.5/4 out of 5

48) Moonrise Kingdom (dir. Wes Anderson, 2012)

  • A reminder of the innocence of childhood and how adults misunderstand or don’t know how to deal with troubled children, set in the midst of the 1960s on a fictional New England island with a hazardous storm on the horizon. Great cast, script, cinematography/framing, etc. So much love for the opening sequence and the camp walk-through. And the cameo towards the end. 4.5 out of 5

49) Brave (dir. Mark Andrews, 2012)

  • A different take on the traditional Disney princess film, bolstered by stunning Pixar animation and a stellar voice cast. The story might’ve been a touch weak and I would’ve liked a bit more of the different clans. Still, a good film nonetheless. 4.5 out of 5

50) Goldfinger (dir. Guy Hamilton, 1964)

  • Like From Russia With Love, this film also has its issues because of the era it was released in. It’s not as nice towards women as the previous film, as one is killed with gold paint, another by a weaponized bowler hat, and another (alluded to be a lesbian) is seduced and changes sides. But it is overall a decent Bond film that partially holds up, but the special effects (car chases, fight scenes, etc.) do show their age. 3.5 out of 5.

51) Inglorious Basterds (dir. Quentin Tarantino, 2009)

  • Ah, a Tarantino period piece … set in an alternate mid-1940s France where WWII is still raging and a crack team of Jewish-American soldiers are traveling around, scalping Nazis, etc. The table scenes (especially Waltz’s first one) are dynamite and ooze with tension … definitely the aforementioned first one. The violence is perhaps a little more contained, yet still there and vicious as ever in Tarantino films (then again, I haven’t seen Jackie Brown or Kill Bill yet). 4/4.5 out of 5

52) The Adventures of Tintin (dir. Steven Spielberg, 2011)

  • I couldn’t help but grab this off the new shelf at the library and give it a re-watch because it was a joy to see it on the big screen in 3D back in December. My familiarity with the character only really goes back to one or two of the animated TV episodes/movies (“Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum, Red Rackum’s treasure, here we come!” and all that). But the hallucinatory-like transitions, the overall mo-cap animation (apart from maybe the head sizes/facial features not quite seeming right), the tight Moffat-Wright-Cornish script … and the exotic feel that could have inspired the Indiana Jones films (which Spielberg read about in reviews after the first film was released and then got into the books) … perfect. 4.5 out of 5

53) The Cove (dir. Louis Psihoyos, 2009)

  • Well-pointed documentary on Japanese dolphin hunting/slaughter. Tries to be unbiased, but clearly favors an end to the hunting/capture/slaughter (It’s an Oceanic Preservation Society film, a dolphin trainer from Flipper is a part of the crew, Japanese officials dealing with the situation are mostly negatively viewed, etc.). Still worth seeing, though. 4 out of 5

54) Thunderball (dir. Terence Young, 1965)

  • Improves a little more in the portrayal of women department, but there’s still a femme quality that pervades the film. Still, issues because of the era it was released in, as well as some plot holes. Maybe 3/3.5 out of 5?
55) Ultimate Avengers (dir. Curt Geda, Steven E. Gordon, and Bob Richardson, 2006)
  • Most likely meant to be an animated Avengers origin flick for the Ultimates universe, it doesn’t seem origin-y enough. Yes, you’ve got the team coming together, but there’s Stark, the Pyms, and Banner, whom the audience is supposed to be familiar with in some way, shape or form, but because it’s a different Marvel universe and there’s little pre-film information … The voice talent is alright, the plot and character development could be stronger, but it’s not quite what I expected, having viewed most of the Marvel cinematic universe (not counting Incredible Hulk) and some of Avengers: EMH. 3 out of 5

15

Jun

365 Film Challenge: #36 - 45

36) The Killing (dir. Stanley Kubrick, 1956) - B/B+? (viewed in early/mid May)

  • A good start to Kubrick’s career with a good cast.

37) Dark Shadows (dir. Tim Burton, 2012) - B-/B? (viewed in early/mid May)

  • A decent Burton flick, in terms of production design, color palate, and costumes. There is a good bit of campiness, too.

38) Strangers on a Train (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1950) - B/B+ (viewed in mid/late May)

  • A good Hitchcock film with some interesting subtext.

39) Primer (dir. Shane Carruth, 2004) - A-? (viewed in mid/late May)

  • Mind-blowing and probably confusing sci-fi flick that focuses more on the ethical impact of time travel instead of the actual mechanics. The mechanics (or at least figuring them out) are left up to the viewers.

40) Safe House (dir. Daniel Espinosa, 2012) - B/B+ (viewed last week)

  • A spy thriller that more or less plays by the conventions, yet is strengthened by Washington and Reynolds.

41) Rushmore (dir. Wes Anderson, 1999) - B+/A- (viewed last week)

  • It only goes to show that student-teacher relationships aren’t healthy. With a pretty good soundtrack.

42) Prometheus (dir. Ridley Scott, 2012) - B+/A- (viewed last week)

  • Mixed reviews are abound. I quite enjoyed the film, despite its faults and the expectations that many people had.

43) Doctor No (dir. Terence Young, 1962) - B/B+ (viewed earlier this week)

  • The start to the Bond franchise and a good one at that.

44) The Ides of March (dir. George Clooney, 2011) - A- (viewed today)

  • Intriguing modern and somewhat relevant political thriller that shows both sides of a campaign. The cast is all-around great!

45) Being Elmo (dir. Constance Marks, 2011) - A (viewed today)

  • Seeing behind the scenes of Kevin Clash, the creator and voice of Elmo, is incredibly heartwarming and a bit of a tear-jerker, at that. I teared up twice. Really.

07

May

365 Film Challenge: #31 - 35

31) Gun Crazy (dir. Joseph H. Lewis, 1949) - 3 out of 5

32) DOA (dir. Rudolph Maté, 1950) - 3.5 out of 5

33) Thank You For Smoking (dir. Jason Reitman, 2005/2006) - 4.5 out of 5

34) Kiss Me Deadly (dir. Robert Aldrich, 1956) - 3.75 out of 5

35) The Avengers (dir. Joss Whedon, 2012) - 4.5 out of 5

13

Apr

365 Film Challenge: #27 - 30

27) Meet Joe Black (dir. Martin Brest, 1998) - 4 out of 5

28) American Psycho (dir. Mary Harron, 1999) - 4 out of 5

29) He Walked By Night (dir. Anthony Mann, 1948) - 3 out of 5

30) Cabin In The Woods (dir. Drew Goddard, 2010/2011/2012 … Hell, this was shelved for a while because of MGM budgetary issues …) - 4.5 out of 5

29

Mar

365 Film Challenge: #25 + 26

25) The Hunger Games (dir. Gary Ross, 2012) - 4.5 out of 5

26) The Lady From Shanghai (dir. Orson Welles, 1947) - 3.5 out of 5 (might need a partial re-watch)

18

Mar

365 Film Challenge: #18 - 24

18) The Killers (dir. Robert Siodmak, 1946) - 3.5 out of 5

19) John Carter (dir. Andrew Stanton, 2012) - 4 out of 5

20) The Hurt Locker (dir. Kathryn Bigelow, 2009) - re-watch, but 4 or 4.5 out of 5

21) Game Change (dir. Jay Roach, 2012) - 4 out of 5

  • Julianne Moore nailed the role of Palin.

22) The Seventh Seal (dir. Ingmar Bergman, 1957) - 3 out of 5

23) The World According To Garp (dir. George Roy Hill, 1982) - 3.5 out of 5

24) Out Of The Past (dir. Jacques Tourneur, 1947) - 4 out of 5 (might need a partial re-watch)

14

Mar

Booked tickets for Ryan and I to see Hunger Games at midnight next week, as he’s 3/4 done with the book. Excited! Also, I should have another 365 Film Challenge post up tomorrow evening.

26

Feb

365 Film Challenge: 16 + 17 - Scarlet Street and Atlantis

16) Scarlet Street (dir. Fritz Lang, 1945) - 3 out of 5 stars

17) Atlantis (dir. Gary Trousdale and Kurt Wise, 2001) - 4 out of 5 stars

18

Feb

365 Film Challenge: #12 - 15

12: While You Were Sleeping (dir. Jon Turtletaub, 1995) - 3.5 out of 5 stars

13: Laura (dir. Otto Preminger, 1944) - 4 out of 5 stars

14: Serenity (dir. Joss Whedon, 2005) - 4.5 out of 5 stars

15: Thor (dir. Kenneth Branagh, 2011) - 4 out of 5 stars

… And I’ve rewatched Maltese Falcon recently. If you want to be technical about it, then my film total for this year is 16.

10

Feb

365 Film Challenge: #11 - “Double Indemnity”

"Double Indemnity" (1944)

Dir. Billy Wilder

Starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

27

Jan

365 Film Challenge: #4 - 10

  • Dogma: Interesting religious satire. 4 out of 5
  • The Maltese Falcon: Noir classic. Going to be re-watching it in class next week. 3.5/4 out of 5? I might re-evaluate after the second viewing.
  • Beauty and the Beast (1991): Yes, a re-release … and in 3D, which looked pretty good overall. 5 out of 5. Hey, it’s Disney animation …
  • Chaplin: Pretty good biopic. Downey Jr. was excellent! 4.5 out of 5
  • Blade Runner: Interesting vision of the future and all. 4 out of 5. Might improve with a repeat viewing
  • Star Trek (2009): Amazing. And a re-watch, but eh, still holds up. 4.5 out of 5
  • Michael Clayton: Pretty good legal thriller with a great cast overall. 4.5 out of 5

17

Jan

365 Film Challenge: #3 - The Descendants

Thoughts:

  • Probably 4, maybe 4.5 out of 5 stars for the film.
  • Beautiful use of the backdrop of Hawaii. Made me wish I could go back for a week or two and see more of the islands. Haven’t been there since the week and a half vacation we took back in the summer of ‘06 as my brother’s bar mitzvah gift. Even then, we only made it to Oahu and Maui. We had plans to go to the Big Island, but they were deterred by an under the weather brother … and there was also an earthquake at Volcano National Park too.
  • Good range of emotions from the lead characters. Teared up a few times, so props to Clooney and the writing team of Payne, Rush, and Faxon.
  • And the humor, while a good deal scatological, aids in showing the emotional torment of Matt King and his family.

Definitely on my tops list. Should definitely be getting some Oscar nods, but I don’t know how many will turn out to be wins. We’ll see when the Oscar nominees are announced (on my birthday, no less!) and how well they might fare against one another. And also what the critics think of the nominees and who will, won’t, and should win.

12

Jan

365 Films Challenge: #2 - The Artist

4.5 out of 5 stars

A wonderful and charming film that bucks both modern and silent film conventions. Plus, the dog is adorable!