Thursday, March 28, 2013

The 2013 Edition of the 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

I was given a heads up at the 1,001 Movies wiki that the 2013 Edition (aka the tenth anniversary edition) of the 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die book is available for pre-order at Amazon.  As expected it will be a hardcover edition (the paperback edition is also available for pre-order at Amazon UK) that will contain a much larger than usual number of changes, likely because this is the tenth anniversary of the book first being published.

When I looked last week Amazon said it was coming September 3, 2013, but this morning it now says October 1, 2013 (consistent with the last couple of years.)  The hardcover editions come from an American publisher, so I am unsure if Amazon UK will carry it.  On a similar note, the paperback editions are published in London, so Amazon does not carry it in the U.S., but independent sellers on Amazon will likely offer it when the time comes.  I have a link at the bottom of this post to the hardcover edition that is available for pre-order.  (I can't link from here to Amazon UK for the paperback edition.)  FYI – the cover art is not yet available for either.

Here is the best news: it looks like our hopes that the tenth edition will make some overhauls to the list are going to at least partially come true.  Amazon says that this edition will feature FIFTY (50) new films, as well as 200 new pictures, key quotes from movies, more movie posters, and new facts and trivia.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Movie – Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)

Tora! Tora! Tora! is a big budget war film made during the height of the Vietnam War.  As you might expect, it did not do well initially at the American box office.  Probably adding to the alienation of audiences at the time is the fact that both the Japanese and American sides are given equal time in the film, right down to all the Japanese scenes being in their own language and therefore subtitled for American audiences.  As an American I am familiar with many of the things that led up to the attack, of course, but I still learned quite a few things that I did not know.  The movie states right at the beginning that even though this is a re-creation, every person and event is factually correct.  I ended up liking this film quite a bit more than I expected.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Movie – Win Win (2011)

Win Win is the third movie from actor/writer/director Thomas McCarthy.  Since the 1990s he’s been paying the bills by acting, usually playing some sort of character actor supporting role.  You’d probably recognize him if you looked at his IMDB page.  About ten years ago, though, he decided to try his hand at writing and directing his own movie.  The result was The Station Agent (2003), the first film in which I ever saw Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones).  McCarthy’s second film was The Visitor (2007), which garnered lead actor Richard Jenkins an Oscar nomination.  Both of these films are well worth your time.  (You can read my review of The Visitor here.)  When I found out Win Win was from the man who had done the other two movies I immediately wanted to see it.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Movie – The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming (1966)

The movie The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming (hereinafter known as TRAC2) was released in the 1960s not too many years after the Cuban Missile Crisis when tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union were very high.  That therefore makes this film very notable for the fact that the Soviets (or “Russians” as Americans commonly mislabeled them) are shown to be regular people just like Americans.  The impact of this was wide-ranging.  The film was very popular in the U.S.  It garnered four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.  It won the Golden Globe for Best Comedy.  It was discussed in Congress.  And it was even shown in the Kremlin, where some of the Soviet leaders were visibly moved according to director Norman Jewison (In the Heat of the Night, The Thomas Crown Affair, A Soldier's Story.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Movie – Mirror Mirror (2012)

Mirror Mirror is one of two Snow White movies that were released in 2012.  The other – Snow White and the Huntsman – took an ultra-serious approach to the story and didn’t succeed.  Mirror Mirror took a more family friendly, tongue in cheek approach.  While it also fell short in some areas it does have enough fun moments in it for me to recommend it.  It also received a 2013 Academy Award nomination for Best Costume Design, which was unsurprising given director Tarsem Singh’s reputation for opulent outfits and sets.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Movie – Rachel, Rachel (1968)

The movie Rachel, Rachel was Paul Newman’s directorial debut.  It starred Joanne Woodward, who had been his wife for ten years at that point.  (They ultimately were married for 50 years until his death in 2008.)  Not only did Newman direct his wife to an Oscar nomination for Best Actress (her second of four), the film itself was also nominated for Best Picture.  It received two other Oscar nominations for Estelle Parsons as Best Supporting Actress and for Stewart Stern’s adapted screenplay.  Newman did not receive a Best Director nod, though.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Movie – Europa Europa (1990)

Europa Europa is a German film that tells the sort of true story of Salomon Perel, a Jewish teen who hid his religion from the Nazis during World War II, even to the extent of joining the Hitler Youth.  Its original title was Hitlerjunge Salomon, which translates as “Salomon of the Hitler Youth”.  Realizing that title would not do well in English speaking countries, it was changed to Europa Europa, although there is still debate on why it has a repeated title.  The movie turned out to be one of the more popular German films released in the U.S.  The German government, though, tried to ignore it – perhaps because of the subject matter or perhaps because it was adapted and directed by a Polish woman (Agnieszka Holland).  They did not even nominate it as their Foreign Language Film entry at the Oscars.  They ended up with egg on their faces when it won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film and its screenplay was nominated for an Oscar.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Movies with Repeated Titles

Lt. Col. Korn – “You’re the only Major available in our headquarters staff.”
Capt. Major – “No, Major is my name, not my rank.”
Col. Cathcart – That’s close enough for me Major.  Consider yourself a Major now.”
Major Major – “Sir, I don’t know anything about being a squadron commander.”
Col. Cathkart – “We all have to make sacrifices Major.”
Major Major – “Sir, I’m in building and laundry.”

                                    How Captain Major became Major Major – Catch-22

Anyone who’s been visiting here for a while knows that I am somewhat fascinated with patterns in the titles of movies themselves.  I have done categories titled Movies by the Numbers, Quarky Movies, Attack of the “V” Movies, One Letter Movies, and “American” Movies.  The last was seven months ago, so it’s time I did another.

What I mean by “repeated titles” are those films that consist solely of the same word or phrase appearing more than once.  Two examples of this are Author! Author! (1982) and Jamon, Jamon (1992).  I’m using these as examples because I won’t be reviewing them.  I didn’t feel Author! Author! was good enough to recommend and I have not seen the Penelope Cruz/Javier Bardem movie Jamon Jamon (and it’s not available via Netflix.)

I should note that “close, but no cigar” movies will also be excluded.  Examples of what I mean are Kramer vs. Kramer and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (although you can read my review of that film here.)  Another example for the fellow language geeks out there is Hot Shots! (1991), which contains the same four letters in a repeating pattern.

After I post each review for the films in this category I will add a link to them here:

50/50 – (posted December 10, 2011)

On to the reviews…

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Veronica Mars Movie is a Go!

So I got on my computer this morning to write my parent post for the next category of movies I will be doing.  I go to IMDB and find that there is going to be a Veronica Mars movie.  What makes the story so great is that the initial funding for it came from the fans.  What makes it an even better story is that the goal was to raise the necessary two million dollars in 30 days, but they passed that mark in only eleven hours.  They set a record on the site they did the fundraising through.

If you’ve never heard of Veronica Mars, you might be wondering what the fuss is all about.  It was a TV show that ran for three seasons (2004 – 2007) that featured a great title character played by Kristen Bell.  The first two seasons where creator Rob Thomas had control of it were top notch.  The third season the network made him alter it to try to raise ratings, which of course just alienated the people who were watching it.

I was a big fan of the show.  I still tend to check out the various things that Kristen Bell appears in, although she’s never had the chance to play as great a character as the one she did on the TV show.  She is on board with the new movie and Thomas already has a basic story plotted out.  Right now it is planned to be released some time in 2014.

If you’d like to read more about why it was such a great TV show, you can find my post on it here.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Goodbye Old Friend

There comes a time in every man’s life when he has to face facts that certain things are not going to work like they used to.  Just because he had a lot of fun in a certain way in the past doesn’t mean that that fun will be able to continue.  I discovered how to have this fun more than 25 years ago.  It brought thousands of hours of enjoyment to me, and sometimes to others, too.  It was a great friend; on the spur of the moment I could take it out and be enjoying myself within minutes.  When not using it I could easily put it away for later.  It was even conveniently sized to fit perfectly in my hand.  I’m referring to my movie rental card, of course.

I think I first got it before I even owned a VCR.  If not, I definitely had it no later than that (1989).  I don’t want to think about how much money I must have spent over the years on renting movies with it.  As you can see from the picture, this card has received a lot of use.

Times change, though.  Movie rental places, if not already closed, are on their way out. They have mostly been replaced by Netflix and Redbox.  The youngest bloggers out there have never even owned a rental card.  As for me, I haven’t used this card for probably four years.

Why am I getting nostalgic about it now?  I just bought a new wallet and that meant transferring various items over to it from the old wallet.  I tossed a few things that I didn’t use anymore, but I paused when I came to this rental card.  I stopped to realize that I’ve had it for more than half my life.  It may be in bad shape, but this card literally outlasted two different rental chains. 

It was originally for a local chain called Home Vision Video.  They were eventually bought out by a large national chain named Movie Gallery.  They transferred the records over, so my old card still worked with them.  Even after I joined Netflix I still occasionally rented movies from Movie Gallery, but once Redbox came in, at one quarter the price for new movies, that signaled the end.  I wasn’t too proud to play scavenger, picking up a bunch of used DVDs on the cheap from stores that were going out of business.  I still haven’t gotten around to watching all of them.

Anyway, I don’t think I’m going to throw this card away.  No, I’m not going to frame it and hang it on a wall, but I’ll keep it someplace where I’ll notice it now and then and be reminded of all the great times it brought me.

Chip’s Movie Rental Card
1989 – 2013

Goodbye old friend

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Movie – Bernie (2012)

Bernie is a movie I had in Netflix Instant queue for a few months before I finally got around to seeing it.  I discovered that even though IMDB lists it as a 2011 film, it wasn’t released until 2012.  (It was shown at a couple of film festivals in 2011.)  When I was trying to see as many 2012 films as I could before deciding on my Top 10, I noticed that Jack Black had received a 2013 Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical for his performance in this film.  This meant it was really a 2012 film and that I should see it right away.  I’m glad I did because not only did I like this film a lot, I liked it enough to make it one of my Top 10 Films of 2012.  It is easily the best live action film Jack Black has starred in since his last collaboration with writer/director Richard Linklater – 2003’s The School of Rock.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Movie – The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

I had heard of the film The Perks of Being a Wallflower, probably because Emma Watson was in it, but the first inkling I had that it might be something more than just another “teen movie” was when it ended up in the IMDB Top 250 for the 2012 year end.  That put it on my radar to see.  When I finally watched it I was quite surprised by how well it was done.  While I am far from the target demographic, I still liked the film enough that it is one of my Top 10 films of 2012.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Movie – The Other Dream Team (2012)

The Other Dream Team is a documentary about the 1992 Lithuanian men’s Olympic basketball team and it is one of my Top 10 films of 2012.  The title is a reference to the fact that the much more celebrated 1992 American men’s Olympic basketball team was dubbed “the dream team” because for the first time NBA players were allowed to participate in the Games and because this American team contained the greatest assemblage of basketball players on one team in the history of the sport.  They were just there for the basketball, though.  The Lithuanian team was there for a much bigger reason – freedom.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Movies – My Top 10 of 2012

Here is my list of the ten best 2012 movies.  I believe I’ve seen all the big mainstream movies and critically acclaimed films of the year that I felt I might like, except for Cloud Atlas.  I saw almost all the feature films nominated across all of the Oscar categories.  Unlike last year I was able to see both the Oscar Best Documentary and Best Foreign Film winners, although the other nominees in those categories remain unwatched.  If you are curious, a complete list of the 101 2012 films that I saw can be found at the bottom of this post.

Friday, March 1, 2013

February Movie Status

I saw 40 movies in the month of February, plus 3 TV series, plus 2 movie re-watches.  I spent most of my time trying to see Oscar nominees and 2012 films, so my 1,001 Movies numbers are a lot lower than other months.  I concentrated on those two groups because I was reviewing the 2013 nominees, and because when I do my Top 10 of 2012 list next I want to have seen as many possible candidates for the list as I can.

Currently, the two main lists that I am taking movie suggestions from are the 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list and a list I put together of every Oscar Best Picture nominee.  You can see those lists by clicking on these titles:  1,001 Movies; Oscar Nominees.  I only saw one entry from the 1,001 Movies list, and that was only because it was expiring from my Netflix Instant queue.  Half of the Oscar nominated films I saw were ones from this year, too.

Here are the 40 new movies I saw in February.  Highlighted movies are ones to which I would give at least three stars out of five.  I will single out the four and five star films, as well as the worst films, in the paragraphs below the lists.

1,001 Movies (1): The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)

Oscar Nominees (8): Argo (2012), Django Unchained (2012), Lincoln (2012), The Nun’s Story (1959), Silver Linings Playbook (2012), Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), The Robe (1953), Peyton Place (1957),

Other Movies (31): The Other Dream Team (2012), Nobody Walks (2012), Waking Madison (2010), Ruby Sparks (2012), Wanderlust (2012), Bernie (2012), Flight (2012), Ted (2012), Wreck-It Ralph (2012), The Impossible (2012), The Master (2012), Skyfall (2012), Hotel Transylvania (2012), The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012), Rise of the Guardians (2012), Hit and Run (2012), Deadfall (2012), Side By Side (2012), End of Watch (2012), Robot & Frank (2012), This is 40 (2012), Cherry (2010), Pocket Money (1976), Friends (with Benefits) (2009), Savages (2012), The Nines (2007), The Kennel Murder Case (1933), Taken 2 (2012), Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012),
For a Good Time, Call… (2012), Cosmopolis (2012)

Re-watches (2): Friends with Benefits (2011), Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

TV Series (3): How I Met Your Mother Season 6, How I Met Your Mother Season 7, Game of Thrones Season 2

I did not have any five star films this month.  My four star films were The Other Dream Team (2012), Ruby Sparks (2012), Argo (2012), Django Unchained (2012), Silver Linings Playbook (2012), Bernie (2012), Wreck-It Ralph (2012), The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012), Side By Side (2012), Friends (with Benefits) (2009), and The Nines (2007).  I just reviewed Argo, Django Unchained, Silver Linings Playbook, and Wreck-It Ralph as part of my 2013 Oscar Nominees category.  The Other Dream Team, Bernie, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower will be reviewed soon as part of my Top 10 of 2012.

Ruby Sparks is an interesting romantic comedy/drama that asks what if a man’s perfect, but fictional, female character came to life and what if she wasn’t as perfect as he thought she would be.  It has a lot more depth than I was expecting.  Side By Side is a documentary on the changes digital filmmaking has ushered in not just in filming, but in editing, coloring, and almost every aspect of the process.  It is balanced, informative and easy to understand.  If you have any interest at all in how films get made you should see this movie.  Friends (with Benefits) is not the Justin Timberlake/Mila Kunis movie with a similar title, but an independent comedy/drama about six young adults (three men, three women) and what the distinctions are among being friends, having sex, and being in love.  People who are uncomfortable with human sexuality should probably avoid it.  The Nines is a real “mess with your head” kind of movie, and I mean that in a good way.  If the 2002 film Adaptation and the Robert Heinlein story The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag had a love child it would be this movie.

Even with 40 movies watched in February, I did not have any one star movies.  This was a welcome relief from the last year or so where working my way through the 1,001 Movies list has produced at least one or two every month.  A few of my February two star movies from 2012 that you might want to avoid are Wanderlust (unless you have to see every Jennifer Aniston movie), Hotel Transylvania (unless you are a kid), This Is 40 (unless you found the depressing married couple from the 2007 film Knocked Up to be fascinating and want to see over two more hours of them fighting with each other), and Cosmopolis (unless you like the 1960s foreign films where the characters artificially communicate via monologues filled with Deep Meaning, and respond with non sequiturs.)

Next up is my Top 10 of 2012.