Monday, March 30, 2015

Movie – The Wind Rises (2013)

The Wind Rises is purportedly legendary writer/director Hayao Miyazaki’s last film.  There are those people (I am among them) who hope that Miyazaki’s retirement announcement is like his previous five and he is inspired to return again.  However, if this is to truly be his final film then he made a great one to cap off a great career.  It has both a moving story and beautiful animation.  If anyone tries to tell you that only cgi animation can be stunning then show them this hand-drawn film.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Movie – Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Let me be honest right up front: I thought this was going to be the film that would break Marvel's winning streak.  A movie about a bunch of strange beings, including a talking raccoon, based on comic book characters that even someone like me, who at one time had read comics for years, knew almost nothing about?  Not a chance.  Marvel had finally reached too far.  Man was I wrong.  Not only was this a massive box office hit for them, it is a hugely entertaining film and it’s my pick for the best movie of 2014.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Ten Best Films of 2014

Each year that I do this I seem to be a little more reluctant to draw a line and name my Top 10 films of the prior year.  I always want to watch just a few more movies, “knowing” that there’s another one out there that will make my Top 10.  It wasn’t any help getting over that feeling this year when I had not one, but two films that I saw within the last two weeks that are making my Top 10.  I still want to see just a few more, but this is already the latest into a year I’ve waited before posting, so here goes.

I believe I’ve seen most of the big mainstream movies and critically acclaimed films of the year that I felt I might like, including all four Oscar winning films (Picture, Animated Film, Foreign Language Film, and Documentary).  I’ve seen all the Best Picture nominees, all the Best Animated Film nominees, and all the Original and Adapted Screenplay nominees.  I have not seen any of the other Foreign Language Film or Documentary nominees, however.

If you are curious, a complete list of the 65 2014 films that I saw can be found at the bottom of this post.  That’s down from 77 films for 2013 and 101 films for 2012 at the time I posted those Top 10s, so this year’s list may be missing a great one I just haven’t seen yet.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Think the Earth is Big? Think Again.

I was reminded recently that I had saved these images.  They do a great job of illustrating just how big some objects out there in the universe actually are...and by comparison just how small the Earth is when you come right down to it.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Movie – Big Hero 6 (2014)

Big Hero 6 recently won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film.  I have seen four of the five nominated movies, only missing Song of the Sea.  Of the ones I have seen I don’t feel there is a clear best film among them.  The Boxtrolls would be at the bottom for me, but this film, How to Train Your Dragon 2, and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya all have a similar level of quality and entertainment to them.  And all three have characters dealing with a loss at key points.  The other major awards reinforce the parity among the films.  The Annie Awards (ones specific to animation) also picked Big Hero 6, but the Golden Globes selected How to Train Your Dragon 2, and the BAFTA awards picked The LEGO Movie.  Regardless, Big Hero 6 is a good movie that can keep both children and adults entertained.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Movie – Citizenfour (2014)

Citizenfour won the 2015 Oscar for Best Documentary.  Even though I have not seen the other four nominees this did not surprise me.  The subject matter of this film is Edward Snowden – the man who exposed the fact that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) had been spying on millions of Americans with no warrants and without even the broad “preventing terrorism” justification given to it under the Patriot Act.  And this was just the beginning; the revelations continued to come out and had a worldwide impact.  Guess what?  There was actually a person there with Snowden as it was breaking in the news and she captured it all on camera.  The result is an amazing inside look at the few days that shocked millions.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Steve’s Selections #3 – The History of Future Folk (2012)

Watching movies nowadays it sometimes feels like low budget filmmakers have forgotten what the primary point of a movie is – to entertain.  (A studio exec would say it’s to make money, but the best way to make money is to make an entertaining movie that people want to see over and over.)  The days of Robert Rodriguez making El Mariachi (1992) for $7,000 and Kevin Smith making Clerks (1994) for $23,000 are long behind us.  Instead, it seems today’s filmmakers feel that to make up for the lack of budget they have to make their movie “artistic”, which is a polite euphemism for “a film only their mother and some professional film critics could love.”  Then just when it seems like all is lost along comes a film like The History of Future Folk to rekindle hope.  I had a smile on my face for most of the movie, either from the humor, or just from the sheer fun of watching it.