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Sunday
Jan282018

Worst Movies I Saw in 2017

Posting this a bit later than I had planned, but still relevant with the Razzies around the corner.

The Mummy (2017) - It's been said Tom Cruise forced his way to having too much influence on the movie. The fault really lies with whoever got Tom Cruise involved in the movie. He was far from the right actor for the film.

CHiPs (2017)/Why Him (2016) - Paired together because I hated them for the same reason. They just weren't funny. Perhaps I've outgrown finding genitals in the face amusing. Maybe it was never funny.

The Circle (2017) - I was with it up until the end when there's a reveal that we don't see and no resolution.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017) - A little long. The middle wasn't bad, but it lost me at the beginning with the giant war elephants, and at the end when no one could understand the concept of a table.

Fist Fight (2017) - It's not goo when the only time I laugh at a comedy is during the credits when they show an outake of a horse pooping on the floor.

Once Upon A Time In Venice (2017) - Another mis-cast film. Could have been a fun, off-beat, Coen-esque movie. If it didn't star Bruce Willis.

Alien: Covenant (2017) - Please stop making Alien movies, Mr. Scott. And stop trying to create this mythology. If anyone wants to see a new Alien movie, watch Life.

Hitman's Bodyguard (2017) - Seemed like a great concept with great casting. Somewhere along the line, it fell apart.

Ballet 422 (2014) - Through an unfortunate accident, I watched this awful documentary. 

Sleepless (2017) - Just a blah movie.

Transformers: The Last Knight (2017) - Couldn't even tell you the plot if I tried. It's also way too long and takes too long to get started. There's also very little time spent on Bumblebee fighting Nazis, whish is a huge oversight.

XXX: Return of Xander Cage (2017) - Could have been called Furious 9: Diesel Rides Solo. Wouldn't have made it any better though.

Nocturnal Animals (2016) - I have no idea what this movie was about. Maybe we should stop letting designers direct movies. Jake Gyllenhaal was good though and I normally don't care for him.

Urg. It was a rough year.

Sunday
Jan072018

Best Movies I Saw in 2017

I had intended to do an entry about my goals for 2018, but there's a few I don't really feel like sharing. What do I feel like sharing? Well, after I got off track towards the end of 2017, I want to put more of an effort into creative endeavors in 2018. That includes writing and writing includes this blog.

For the first entry, I'll run down some of the best movies I watched in 2017. This doesn't mean they came out in 2017. It just means I discovered them in 2017, or finally watched them last year. There's a lot of movies that also came out last year, that I haven't watched. Or, frankly, I have no desire to watch, no matter how good people have told me they are.

In no particular order:

Welcome to Leith (2015) - An interesting documentary about how white supremicists tried to take over a rural town. I watched it before the events of Charlottesville. Another viewing would probably be even more terrifying.

Arrival (2016) - I was mediocre the first time I watched Interstellar. The second time, I hated it. It spends too much time explaining everything to you. Arrival doesn't do that. It's a sci-fi movie with great concepts that you have to pay attention to and if you do, they reward you.

Hell or High Water (2016) - Taylor Sheridan is going to be a filmmaker to track from now on. All the films he's written have been great and Wind River was beautifully directed, but Hell or High Water is my favorite.

The Magnificent Seven (1960) - This was a bit of CinemaShame for me that I actually watched twice in a couple days. The end is a bit confusing, but the opening of this film is one of the best I've ever seen.

Get Out (2017) - I don't usually watch Horror movies, but after several people told me about it, I watched it and wow. It's not what the Horror genre has become, but what it was. You're unsettled and by the end, what you thought was going on, wasn't. Upon further rewatches you'll see scenes from a different angle and I love that. Also, the fact that this was Jordan Peele who was mainly known for comedy, well, that's something special.

The Founder (2016) - My wife put it best, they do a great job of making you feel bad for Ray Kroc at the beginning and when you get to the end, you hate his guts. That alone is a challenge, but it's a monumental challenge when the actor is Michael Keaton.

Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (2004) - Over a decade late. Watched this for The Documentary Show and while I had zero interest in Metallica, it was extremely well done and very interesting. It became more about social interactions and team work and therapy.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) - I've gone back and forth on whether this is better than the first one. The title sequence is amazing. There's a lot of stuff I absolutely love about this movie. It's fun and enjoyable but also carries a lot of emotion and packs a punch.

Colossal (2016) - What I loved most about this movie, was the originality. Literally, you have not seen a movie like this. Some elements you've seen but not together like this. There's a character development that I did not see coming. And a finale that I realized only at the same moment the main character did.

Kong: Skull Island (2017) - You know what, it's just a fun movie. I watched it thinking it was Apocalypse Now with a giant monkey. Turns out that's what they were going for. It also opens the door for more, but still gives me closure, which very few franchise movies do these days.

Batman & Bill (2017) - Another documentary I watched for the podcast. For comic book fans, creators, and people that just like a good story. It's the story of how one man tried to make sure Bill Finger got the credit he deserved for his contributions to Batman - which were a lot.

The Big Sick (2017) - I like romantic comedies as much as the next guy...okay, more than the next guy, but only by a little bit. I like them when they're good and this one is great. How many Sandra Bullock ones did we have to endure from the mid-90s to 2009? Too many. I put The Big Sick right next to When Harry Met Sally... A romantic comedy that is funny, but is also real and honest. (Spoiler Alert: It's based on a true story and everything works out in the end because they wrote the movie together.)

Baby Driver (2017) - The soundtrack really makes this movie, but it's more than that. In a world where Fast and Furious is up to number eight - nine if you could XXX: Return of Xander Cage - a movie with actual car chases is refreshing. Plus Edgar Wright is a fantastic filmmaker. It's just another one of those great, enjoyable movies.

Logan Lucky (2017) - It's different, but not really. It's basically Ocean's 11 in West Virginia. But what it does, it does great. Another movie that I just like watching and could watch many times. It also gets me very excited for a world where Daniel Craig is no longer James Bond and does a broader spectrum of movies. I also like the way that this film was made and cut out the studios, but that's not as important.

Thor: Ragnarok (2017) - It's the best of the Thor movies and I wish we had gotten to this point sooner. It's fun and it's funny. But it also has a heart at time. It raises pretty big stakes and frankly, I was bit surprised with how they got out of it. In retrospect, it has me hopeful that Marvel is ready to put a big guy made out of rocks on screen and not have it look awful.

Honorable Mentions: Wind River, The Accountant, Doctor Strange, Patriots Day, Hacksaw Ridge, Hidden Figures, Yoga Hosers, Logan, Car Dogs, Miss Sloane, Going in Style, Wakefield.

And that's it. There were other movies I watched that I enjoyed this year, but these were the best. Or at the very least, the ones I enjoyed the most.

Maybe in another couple days, I'll post a list of the worst movies I saw in 2017. It's a bigger list, but I'll try to pare it down.

Spoiler Alert:

Sunday
Apr092017

MTV: "Yes, we're still here."

There's this article that popped up on Facebook for me about MTV Movie and TV Awards are now going to non-gender categories. Link is here. I have one major problem with this move. It seems like a desperate attempt to make MTV look relevant again. Maybe they really are concerned with having categories that fit all gender identities, but I doubt it. Especially when they are also adding two new categories: Best American Story and Best Fight Against The System.

The article also questions if other award shows should do it. My initial reaction was, whatever, I don't care. Which is still my reaction. But, if the Oscars were to do that, it would be a disaster and roles that should have been nominated might not be and the whole thing is going to be more political than it already is.

Let's say they do it and just call it Best Acting Performance in a Drama. There remain 5 nominations like their are now. It's a male dominated industry, so the first year it's 3 males and 2 females. It stays like that for a few years. Then one year, it's 4 males and 1 female. There's outrage and because the Supporting Acting Performance was 3 males and 2 females, and only 1 female director was nominated (because that generally seems to happen, as there aren't that many female directors in Hollywood, which is a different conversation all together) the Oscars are deemed sexist and too male heavy. The masses want to boycott this one and even though they get Ellen to host, it's deemed a dated ceremony and the worst part of this country. Now, the following year, to recoupe their image, The Academy actively makes sure that the nominations are 4 females and 1 male in the Best Acting, 3 females and 2 males in Supporting, and their are 2 female directors. It doesn't matter what performances were out there. Maybe David Spade finally broke through in Dramas and Danny DeVito directed the best comedy since Airplane, but it doesn't matter because now we have to make sure the Oscars don't seem too gender-bias. And we caused all of this, because someone wanted to fix a problem that wasn't really a problem, because you can technically submit into either gender-based category.

So, I can see all that happening. Or, I can see them going, okay, we'll combine them and have 10 nominations and they basically just keep splitting it down the middle with 5 male nominations and 5 female nominations. Then it's just a hollow gesture that does nothing except increase the number of people saying "It's an honor to be nominated" by one actor/actress.

I imagine we won't have to worry about this ever actually happening as The Oscars probably aren't taking Award Ceremony Advice from MTV, otherwise we wouldn't have Best Foreign Language Film and there'd be a Best Shirtless Scene category in it's place. And my prediction is that in a couple years or so, MTV will make the annoucement that they are going back to gender-categories just to make sure they pop up in people's news feeds again.

Wednesday
Feb152017

What I've Been Reading: Preacher

Preacher by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon is a comic series I've wanted to read for a long time now. I was a big fan of their work on Punisher back in at the turn of the century. I liked their Punisher MAX series, but more so, the storyline "Welcome Back, Frank." I think that's about when I wanted to read the Preacher and it took me 16 years, but I finally read the whole thing.

I shouldn't have waited so long to read it. Perhaps if I had read it 15 years ago, I would have liked it more. Also, maybe if I had more of an idea what it was about. Expectations, especially expectations that extend over a long period of time - especially a decade, can really ruin an experience. I had 15 years of wanting to read this story, hearing in many places how good it was, and thinking that it focused a lot more on Heaven and Hell and a secret organization called the Grail led by Herr Starr who was voted as a top villain in some Wizard Magazine list a long time ago.

The basic premise of Preacher is that Jesse Custer, a man with a checkered past whose a preacher, gets possessed by a being that escaped from Heaven called Genesis. Yada, yada, yada. Jesse is traveling to find God with Cassidy, a vampire, and Jesse's girlfriend, Tulip. They're being chased by the organization, The Grail, that has something to do with protecting the bloodline of Jesus. 

Preacher wasn't a bad series. Obviously, a lot of people still hold it in high regard as it was just made into a TV Series over at AMC. The problem I had was that it wasn't what I was expecting. There were large patches of time where the idea of Genesis, God, and the inner-workings of Heaven were barely mentioned. The parts that were mentioned, I very much enjoyed because I like the alterations to the mythology I was raised on. It was the in-between parts that I didn't enjoy as much.

For example, there are several issues in which Jesse Custer becomes the sheriff of a small town and fights a weird, racist little guy who runs a meat factory and his assistant is a dominatrix Nazi. That's great and all, but I just wanted them to get back to Jesse going after God. To me, the 66 issues could have been cut down to less than 50. At times, the side stories were still good, and a nice exploration of culture in America, but it wasn't what I expected.

I still recommend people read Preacher, but don't wait 15 years. Don't read it or anything whose expectations have had more than a decade to fester and grow. It'll never live up to the image you've had in your mind.

Friday
Feb102017

Decisions

I've been quiet a couple days and broke my goal. There's a good reason for that. I had a decision to make.

What that decision was, I won't get into, but it doesn't really matter. I hoping it means good things.

Decisions though are a part of life. We all have to make them and most are small. "What do you want for dinner?" Once in a while, they are bigger. "What do you think we should do about Russia, Mr. President?" Mine was a bigger one, not quite that big though.

How do we make the bigger decisions? We take all the information we have and process it and process it and process it. Over and over again we mull over things to the point in which our loved ones just want us to decide. That's how my wife was. She was tired of me bringing it up.

Did I make the right decision? I think so. Unfortunately, it was the worst kind of decision to make. Not quite a Sophie's Choice. It was between Trump and Hilary. Neither choice is ideal, but one is clearly better than the other. It all depends on where your priorities sit. And I made one based on mine, which we were my mental health, my sanity, and the relationship with my wife. I think I made the right one and this choice will get me back on the right track. Further developments to come.