Monday, December 21, 2015

Recapping Steve’s Selections for 2015

As you may know Steve Honeywell at 1001plus and I selected twelve films for the other to watch and review in 2015.  We have completed those and so I am doing this post to recap and rank those selections.  I have also included links to Steve’s twelve reviews of the films I picked for him.

Steve’s Selections - ranked:

1.      The Orphanage (2007) – 5 stars

If you had told me going in that a horror movie would end up being the one I picked as the best I would have had a lot of doubts.  As it turns out, The Orphanage is far more than “just a horror film.”  In addition to having great suspense, it has fully developed characters, a terrific story, and a reveal that I did not see coming.   My review.

2.      The History of Future Folk (2012) – 4 stars

This one was the most fun of the twelve.  It may be too “weird” for some, or too nice for those who are grumps, but for everyone else it should bring lots of smiles to your face.  My review.

3.      The Train (1964) – 4 stars

There is some great action as Burt Lancaster tries to stop a Nazi train loaded with valuable and historic art from making it to Germany, while also avoiding attacks from the Allies.  My review.

4.      My Favorite Year (1982) - 3.5 stars

Peter O’Toole carries this film and it rests entirely on his shoulders as he plays a version of Errol Flynn in the 1950s who is supposed to appear on a TV show and whose drinking and womanizing causes lots of havoc for them.  My review.

5.      The Changeling (1980) - 3.5 stars

There is some great suspense in this movie as George C. Scott moves into a haunted house.  The ending is a little too over the top for the rest of the film, but it’s a good journey before that.  My review.

6.      Seven Psychopaths (2012) - 3.5 stars

This is a very “meta” movie – perhaps the biggest example I’ve seen since Adaptation (2002).  A character reveal is pretty obvious, but it doesn’t detract from the film.  My review.

7.      I’m a Cyborg, But That’s Okay (2006) – 3 stars

This is a sweet, albeit off-kilter love story that is let down some by an ending that is not very clear.  Reading up on it afterwards showed me that if I had understood what the director was trying to convey then I would have liked it a lot more.  My review.

8.      The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) – 3 stars

There is some great cinematography in this, especially with the opening scene of a train at night.  The story could use some trimming, with less time spent on fringe characters.  My review.

9.      Eight Diagram Pole Fighter (1984) – 3 stars

As you might expect there are tons of great fight scenes in this martial arts film.  They even had some pole fighting styles and weapons that I had never seen in a movie before.  My review.

10.  Auto Focus (2002) – 3 stars

This is a perhaps more fictional than true look at the life of actor Bob Crane from his rise to stardom on Hogan’s Heroes to his still as yet unsolved murder in the late 1970s.  In between is lots of filmed sex with groupies and swingers.  My review.

11.  Jesus Camp (2006) – 3 stars

This is an unvarnished look at what far Right Christians do to indoctrinate their children into their core beliefs.  It’s a little sad when you realize how messed up it’s going to make some of these kids as they get older.  My review.

12.  Elevator to the Gallows (1958) – 2.5 stars

This was the only one I did not give a recommendation rating to, although it still works out to “it was okay”.  I’m in the minority in not liking it.  It just didn’t connect with me and I didn’t know why at the time I reviewed it.  Thinking back now I believe it’s because it started with the heist.  While that was different for a noir and probably got it some praise, it didn’t allow me to connect with the characters since there was no build up or getting to know them.  The result, for me, was that I didn’t much care what happened to them.  The film still had a good impression on me in some areas, especially the jazz score from Miles Davis.  My review.

And here are the ones I chose for Steve and his reviews of them (click on the titles):

Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

Finally, Steve and I have agreed to continue this for 2016.  We’ve each chosen twelve more films and we’re taking a few more chances this time.

Here are the ones Steve selected for me:

The Collector (1965)
Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)
He Who Gets Slapped (1924)
Kung Pow: Enter the Fist (2002)
Nighthawks (1981)
Quadrophenia (1979)
Rollerball (1975)
Séance on a Wet Afternoon (1964)
Stake Land (2010)
Testament (1983)
They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969)
Went the Day Well? (1942)

Here are the ones I picked for Steve:

Another Earth (2011)
Departures (2008)
House of Flying Daggers (2004)
Incendies (2010)
Iron Sky (2012)
Ondine (2009)
The One I Love (2014)
Ruby Sparks (2012)
Scotland, PA (2001)
Stoker (2013)
The Way We Get By (2009)
Widow’s Peak (1994)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Steve’s Selections #12 – I’m a Cyborg, But That’s Okay (2006)

We have come to the last of twelve movie selections Steve Honeywell at 1001plus has made for me for 2015.  This one is I’m a Cyborg, But That’s Okay, a South Korean film that is decidedly different.  When Steve finalized his list this was one selection I had never heard of, but the title alone amused me so going in I was predisposed to like it.  I have to admit that I was undecided on it while watching until it had, of all things to encounter in a Korean film, a yodeling section that was simultaneously funny and touching.  (Don’t worry, it makes sense in the context of the film – well, as much sense as anything else.)  I ended up liking this movie, although the ending was a letdown until I read up on it afterwards (more on that below).

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

I Finished Watching All the Oscar Best Picture Nominees

I need to qualify the title of this post: one nominee (1928’s The Patriot) is presumed to be lost and another nominee (1934’s The White Parade) exists only as a single copy in the UCLA film archive.  Reportedly, if you arrange an appointment and physically travel there they will allow you to watch it – not a very practical way to see a movie.  I have seen the other 518 (as of this writing) nominees that can be watched.

I started this effort a few years ago after completing the 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list.  Actually, that’s sort of misleading.  I partially started long before that. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

November Movie Status

In the month of November I saw 24 new films, plus re-watched 1 film, plus watched three seasons of one TV show and one season of another.

I had a lot of time to devote to watching movies, if I chose, in November because I had most of the month off.  As it turns out I had a more even mixture of activities.  And I did watch a bunch of TV show seasons, so that took time away from movies.

As I write this I have seen 499 of the 520 Oscar Best Picture nominees.  (Had I looked for the number yesterday I would have found a way to squeeze one more movie in before the end of the month, but oh well.)  Two of those nominees do not exist to watch, so I have 19 left to finish them off.  They are all from the 3rd through 8th Oscar ceremonies (Nov 1930 to 1936). 1935 and 1936 had twelve (!) nominees apiece; 12 of the 19 films I have left are from those two years alone.  My goal is to get all 19 done this month so I can end the year on a high note.