Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: A Year in Review - Part 4 (A Criterion Collection Edition)

To conclude my film journey this year, I've saved the best for last.  Here's a quick review of the Criterion Collection films I've watched in 2013:

Revanche - This Austrian revenge film was directed by Götz Spielmann.  While a criminal was robbing a bank, his prostitute girlfriend was accidently killed by a police officer.  So what better way to get back at the cop other than sleeping with his wife?

The Naked Kiss - The first minute of this Sam Fuller film was litterally a punch to the face.  When a woman escapes the life of a street walker, she believes she is starting her life anew.  However, she learns shiny opportunities can also have dark and disturbing secrets.

Cronos - Director Guillermo del Toro makes his full length cinematic debut with this eerie horror film.  He establishes notable motifs he is well known for including trinkets, fairy tales, and monsters.

Robocop - As a kid, I had a few Robocop toys.  However, I was never allowed to watch the movie.  After recently watching Paul Verhoeven's film for the first time, I now understand why my parents forbade me to watch it.  For a sci-fi film made in the 80's,  I still find it to be violent, entertaining, and relevant.

Chungking Express - I consider this to be one of my favorite films in the collection.  Made famous in Tarantino's Rolling Thunder Line, Wong Kar-wai's film is truly beautiful and mesmerising.  Built upon two different love stories, this movie is gripping enough to keep you interested even if you're not a fan of romances.  Plus, the music is awesome.

Night of the Hunter - Robert Mitchum plays a bad guy on every level.  Using religion as a torturing device, he is willing to kill women and children for money.

Last Days of Disco - As the title suggests, Whit Stillman narrates the transition into the 1980's.  Although the film is of a different tone, it's the perfect prologue to American Psycho, using Chloë Sevigny as a cast tie-in.

Stromboli - Although I've seen very few of their films, Roberto Rossellini casts Ingrid Bergman in a different light.  When a classy broad marries a man for all the wrong reasons, we see her mind and actions deteriote into desperation.  To thicken the plot, the desolate island the couple inhabits also occupies an active volcano.

Lonesome - This buried Hollywood classic is fun to watch.  It's much more than a charming tale about love at first sight.  This movie captures so much substance on both a technical and historical level.  The filming of Coney Island is such a treat to the eyes.

The Wages of Fear - Who says that Black and White films can't carry thrill and suspense?  Obviously they never watched Hitchcock.  But besides the Master of Suspense, Henri-Georges Clouzot had me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire movie.  Watching a convoy of trucks transport highly combustable fuel through hazardous terrain makes Keanu Reeves' Speed look like childs play.  After watching this masterpiece, I can't wait to get my hands on William Friedkin's Sorcerer.

There's a few films I left off because I'd like to write something more in depth in the future.  Regardless, stay tuned as I plan to switch things up next post!  Maybe a new issue of Tarantino Comics...

Friday, December 27, 2013

2013: A Year in Review - Part 3

Following up from the last post, this almost concludes my viewing list of 2013:

The Conjuring - Once again, James Wan makes another fun haunted house film, this time harkening back to the 1970's.  I enjoyed the idea of a married couple visiting haunted grounds, exorcising demons, and storing evil relics in their personal museum.

Frankenweenie - This is the best Tim Burton film in years!  I enjoyed this adaption of his original short and the homages to the cheesy sci-fi and horror films of the 50's.

Oblivion - I know a lot of people don't like Tom Cruise, but I really enjoyed this film.  It has a lot of influence from various sci-fi films, but it uses them to create one unique story.  Plus, Zoe Bell makes a quick appearance at the end of the film.

Prisoners - This movie reminded me of Zodiac, especially the police procedural with Jake Gyllenhaal.  Also, the "prison" scenes with Hugh Jackman and Paul Dano were some of the most thought provoking yet disturbing sequences to see this year.

From Beyond - Scientists unlock the secret functionality of the Pineal Gland (it's a third eye in your brain).  But in doing so, the unleash terrors from another dimension.  Imagined from the mind of H.P. Lovecraft and directed by Stuart Gordon, this was a fun horror gem I never heard of.  Thanks Scream Factory!

This is the End - Featuring the typical "Apatow Comedy Cast," this film shows how a bunch of celebrities would react to the Apocalypse.

The World 's End - Although I feel this movie was overshadowed by This is the End, The World's End was the perfect wrap-up to Edgar Wright's Cornetto Trilogy.  Although I enjoyed the sci-fi elements, the journey of the pub crawl was most entertaining.

Bad Grandpa - This time, Johnny Knoxville takes a lesson from Sacha Baron Cohen.  Still filled with hilarious stunts and pranks of the Jackass franchise, the story thread throughout the movie made for an engaging film.

500 Days of Summer - This fun little film shows the quirkiness and lovability of Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  Somehow, I think America would really love to see this couple together.

Fantastic Mr. Fox - Starring an amazing voice cast, this charming tale focuses on a colony of forest animals who must defend themselves from crotchety old farmers.  Wes Anderson brilliantly creates an extraordinary world with stop-motion animation.  Also, this is going to be the first animated film to join the Criterion Collection next year.  So if you really want to know "What does the Fox say," just ask George Clooney.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

2013: A Year in Review - Part 2

This is just a continuation from the last post:

Evil dead - So this was a viewing of the remake, not the Raimi version.  Although I found it to be more disturbing, I prefer the original.  However, it wasn't terrible.  Plus, I had some fun tormenting Angie as she sat in the theatre beating and cursing me out throughout the entire film...

Pain and Gain -  Mark Wahlberg and The Rock play as stupid meatheads.  Although there's no Michael Bay explosions, the story is enticing and you can't believe the situations that ensue... However, maybe you can believe it just because it takes place in Miami.  

The Great Gatsby - The visuals and music of this film made me appreciate the novel we had to read back in high school. The sequences I enjoyed the most were Gatsby's crazy parties.  They have the same flash and glamour of those "Bacardi" commercials.

Romeo and Juliet - Since I enjoyed Gatsby in theatres, I thought to revisit another English Class standard by Baz Luhrmann.  The visuals and acting were good (it's fun to see Claire in something other than Homeland), but I still had a hard time interpreting Shakespeare... I know, not very scholarly of me.

Star Trek Into Darkness - Overall, this was a cool re-envision of The Wrath of Khan.  However, when J.J. Abrams takes over Star Wars, I hope he eases up with the lens flares and shaky cam.

Man on Wire -  I decided to watch this documentary after seeing Nik Wallenda cross the Grand Canyon.  Featuring Philippe Petit, we discover he's a daredevil who's a little more mischievous than Wallenda.  Not only does this film beautiful display Petit's walk across the Twin Towers, but suspensefully describes the secret preparations he had to perform beforehand.

Meet the Woodmans - Following a family of artists ranging from photography to pottery, this documentary shows how some art is decades ahead of its time.

World War Z - Usually a zombie flick takes place under tight quarters with a small group of characters.  This story takes a different approach by traveling with Brad Pitt across the world to find the cause behind the "Zombie Disease."

Oz: The Great and Powerful - I enjoyed James Franco and the various actresses playing the witches.  However, this film would have been so much better if Sam Raimi stuck with practical effects rather than the cheap-looking green screen.

Cosmopolis - Cronenberg has always been a master of body horror.  The thought of just watching Robert Pattinson ride around in a fancy limousine seems like a boring plot.  But as he meets intriguing characters and escapes a violent "revolution" in the background, Cronenberg has proven he can derive psychological terror as well.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

2013: A Year in Review - Part 1

On my Ipad, I have a running list of every movie I watch.  My intention is to write a nice review for each movie, but then life gets in the way...  However, I feel hindered to write anything significant because I have such an enormous back list to cover.  I even feel guilty to watch any more films since I'm afraid my list will get longer.  So to fulfill my obligatory task of providing thoughts on the films I've watched throughout the year, I'm going to give a sentence or two of all the films I've yet to write about:

Life of pi - This is a beautiful film that deserved all the Oscars it earned.  The interactions with the Tiger and other animals are so believable, that I prefer this CGI to Avatar's.

Compliance - Fact is stranger than fiction.  This film was so disturbing that I had a horrible time falling asleep that night.  Just look up the Bullitt County McDonald's case...

The Hunted - In the last year, I've become a huge fan of William Friedkin.  This isn't his best film, but it's fun to watch Tommy Lee Jones fight Benicio Del Toro with knives.

Warrior - In no way, shape, or form do I consider myself a sports guy.  However, I find many sports films to be pretty entertaining.  I enjoyed this one even more because it involved MMA fighters.  Plus, you can see from this film why Tom Hardy's physique made him a good choice for Bane.

Cabin in the Woods - This is a horror nerd's dream.  I particularly enjoyed the cells of monsters making homage to all the scary flicks I love.  Oh, and there is a mermaid.

Dredd - Basically this movie is a remake of The Raid... however it's better just because it stars Judge Dredd (yeah, I like comic books).  Also, he doesn't take the mask off.

The Town - Ben Affleck has proven himself to be a great actor and director.  It's a little more serious than Point Break, but it's an awesome heist movie taking place in B-Town.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail - So many people are shocked when they find out I've only recently watched this film for the first time.  It's a fun movie, but I'd prefer watching another Terry Gilliam film such as Time Bandits.

Duck soup - The Marx Brothers are definitely fun and entertaining.  It's somewhat of a social commentary on dictatorships, but I laugh out loud at the high jinks of the mirror image scene.

Iron Man 3 - I didn't very much care for Iron Man 2, but Shane Black's film was definitely a step up.  The use of The Mandarin was realistic for our world and I enjoyed the "buddy cop" relationship between Tony Stark and Jim Rhodes.

Be sure to check back soon, as I'm sure there will be at least three more segments of my year in review.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Top Five Countdown - Most Anticipated Movies of December 2013

This year wasn't too bad for film, but 2013 is definitely ending with a bang!  Usually I wouldn't have the time to immerse myself in tons of new films, but luckily the Christmas season gives me two weeks off to spend at the multiplex.  However, if I'm only limited to see 5 films before New Years, these are going to be the lucky flicks to get my money:

5.  Anchorman 2 - The marketing campaign for this movie has been amazing.  Plus, we all know Will Ferrell is going to bring the funniest movie this year.  Besides Brick's green pants in front of the weather map, I can't wait for another epic News Team Battle Royale...

4.  American Hustle - Once again, we get to see Christian Bale transform his body from the Dark Knight into a sleazy, fat, and balding conman.  With semblance to GoodFellas, this 1970's set piece looks like a crime film right up my alley.  Featuring beautiful women (Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawerence), an intense plot line, and an amazing soundtrack, I believe David O. Russell is going to have another hit (even though I still haven't seen Silver Linings Playbook).

3.  Saving Mr. Banks - With the influence of Angie, I've been revisiting the magical world of Disney by rewatching many of the animated classics of my childhood.  Even though I'm not as familiar with Mary Poppins, I'm excited to see the history behind this ground breaking film.  As I'm delighted to see Tom Hanks playing Walt Disney, I'm even more excited to have at least one feel-good-movie during the holidays.

2.  Inside Llewyn Davis - Folk Music usually isn't a topic to keep my interest.  However, if it comes from the minds of the Coen Brothers, it's going to be a good film.  Bound to have some dark comedic elements, I'm excited to see where this movie goes.

1.  The Wolf of Wallstreet - I know for a fact this is going to be my favorite movie this year.  With Kanye West's Black Skinhead playing in the background, the first trailer is a mesmerizing stream of conscience: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, Scorsese Monologue, New York City, Stacks of Cash, Fast Cars, Sex, Drugs, Booze, FBI Agents, Yachts, Pool Parties, Laundering Money, Marching Bands, Swinging Baseball Bats, Guns, Brawling, Monkeys, Swallowing Goldfish, and Flying Midgets.  After I unwrap some presents underneath the tree and eat some honey baked ham, I'm definitely seeing this movie Christmas Day!

So I do expect to see The Wolf of Wallstreet 5 times while it's in theatres.  However, I plan to fit some other honorable mentions including The Hobbit, 47 Ronin, Out of the Furnace, 12 Years a Slave, and The Secret Life of Mitty.  Keeping all of these movies in mind, stay tuned as I plan to give a listing of my favorite movies of the year.