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Quitting is not failure

I’ve ended my 365 Movies challenge.  Actually I ended on day 318 with the movie Train to Nowhere.  It almost seemed appropriate.  I was not feeling the challenge anymore.  I’m pretty sure I had missed another movie day and most importantly, I wasn’t having any more fun.  It was great when I started, but then it turned into a chore, and in the end I was really starting to dread it, especially when my life became really busy last month.

There was a time when I would have not written this post.  I would’ve let the subject just fade away all the while berating myself for being a failure once again.  But you know something? I am not a failure, I’ve watched 327 movies (I’ve watched two new movies since 318 and this includes the seven movie rewatches) so far this year.

Even more than that, I’ve expanded the types of movies I watch.  I’ve watched movies in Swedish (Patrik, 1,5) German (Rammbock: Berlin Undead, Iron Sky, The Wave #210) , French (Vidocq, Ca$h #252), Hindi (Delhi BellyDhoom), Italian (Gommorah #224), Bokmal-Norwegian (Dead Snow #225) and Hebrew/Yiddish (Eyes Wide Open #170).  I’ve watched comedy, action, science fiction, thrillers, and even a chick flick or two.  I’ve learned about adults with autism (Wretches and Jabberers), illegal immigration (Train to Nowhere #318), and about the architect of the 1965 March on Washington (Brother Outsider:The Life Of Bayard Rustin).  And after all this time, I’ve finally watched the holy frickin’ trilogy (Star Wars #172, The Empire Strikes Back #175, and Return of the Jedi #176).

How can anyone call that a failure?

Will I do this again next year?  Probably not, watching a movie a day can be daunting and besides I have way too many television series in my Netflix queue that I’ve been ignoring.  Besides, I didn’t get to rewatch as many movies as I would have liked to and when I would do a movie marathon it only counted as one movie.  But, of course, I will still be watching movies.  I predict I will watch at least 100 next year, minimum.

One thing I hadn’t expected when I started this challenge was how it would shape parts of my life.  At first I was going to just keep track of them in a notebook, because I was already writing an occasional review for another website.  But then I started writing them here and it helped me so much with my writing skills.  Then someone read some of my reviews and asked me if I would be willing to do a small weekly audio segment.  That became Been Caught Streaming on KJSR.net.  That’s on a hiatus now because I’m becoming a DJ on the station, doing a weekly two hour show playing music from movie soundtracks (Thursdays from 7-9pm EST).  There is a bit a review in there as well but I’m not sure if I’m going to add back the Been Caught Streaming segment yet. It seems I just can’t get away from movies.  Not that it’s a bad thing.

So yes, for all intents and purposes, this is the end of the 365 Movies challenge,  although I will still be keeping track of any other movies I watch in the next 29 days.  But as far as a movie a day?  That’s over, I quit.  But I’m not a failure.

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Posted by on December 2, 2013 in Movies, Reviews

 

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Thor: The Dark World – Movie 311 of 365

THOR_TheDarkWorld2013I’ll have to admit I went into this movie with great trepidation; I wasn’t a fan of the first movie. Thor was okay, I guess, but I really hate the son is a bit of a party boy then something happens and he man’s up and takes responsibility movies.  Plus I really didn’t find anyone I could actually care about in the first movie, sorry Loki fans.  Then there was no where near enough Heimdall (Idris Elba) in that first outing. At least this time Heimdall takes off the darn helmet.

Okay, Thor: The Dark World has some good parts besides that and overall I will say it’s better than the first.  Better, but I wouldn’t go as far to call it great. Now I know part of the problem is that I really can’t seem to get into high fantasy.  I usually miss a bit of what’s going on in the narrative and characters seems to be polarized in their personalities.  That and Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is as big of an ass as he was in the first movie.  There are some decent battle scenes but it still seems to be all Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) show.  I know it’s his movie but I just think Captain America treated the other fighters a bit better.  Asgard is full of warriors, let them shine a bit more.  I definitely could’ve watched more of Sif’s (Jaimie Alexander) fighting skills.

The story line is basic, ancient badass Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), is trying to destroy the nine realms; Thor is trying to stop him.  There is of course more sibling emo times with Thor and Loki (Tom Hiddleston).  Loki is his usual crazy self, dialed back a bit from The Avengers so as not to outshine Thor.  And then there is the really really long distance romance between Thor and Jane Foster (Natalie Portman).  The romance didn’t make me want to barf near as much as the first time.  Actually, I liked Jane in this.

And now that I think of it, I didn’t want to smack Darcy (Kat Dennings) this time.  Darcy is still Darcy, but like Loki, dialed back a bit until she is just quirky, not annoying as hell.  And let’s not forget Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) who mostly just adds to the continuity and plausibility from The Avengers.

So why am I saying this movie is only good and not great?  I wanted more.  I was out of the theater in two hours.  That included the previews and all of the credits (because one never leaves a Marvel movie before the very last credit). Personally I think this movie needed at least another thirty minutes.  With that time they could’ve fleshed out so much more and it wouldn’t have felt rushed.  Explanations went flying by, scenes lacked depth and Thor once again is left seeming pretty flat as a character.  I don’t think this is Hemsworth, just lack of script.  Maybe they were pushing the time is of the essence point, but this movie is so much darker than the first and I don’t believe they really took advantage of that.

Do I feel like I wasted my time? Not really, there is plenty of great action and some touching bits as well.  Also, the funny bits are actually funny and don’t feel as forced as the first time.  However, I am hoping for a director’s cut of The Dark World with the rest of the scenes that would’ve have made this the movie I was hoping it would be.

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2013 in Movies, Reviews

 

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Horrible Horror Movies

It’s that time of year again. Halloween is just around the corner, horror movies are on every channel, and you are filling up your Netflix queue with gruesome selections.  But who has the time to watch all the horror movies out there?  Now there are a ton of lists of horror movies that you should watch, but if you are like me you’ve watched most or all of those already and have to go out on your own in search of more.  Well I’m going to help you by telling you what movies you are better off just avoiding like the business end of Jason’s machete.

You’ve seen this plot a hundred times, spend your time on something better.

AxeGiant2013These two movies aren’t the worst movies I’ve ever seen, it’s just that they are so lackluster and worst yet done to death.  Take coeds, throw them in a wooded area, send a monster after them; slaughter, mayhem, with one or two  survivors.  If I can guess who’s going to survive at the end in first fifteen minutes; you better have something great to make me still care.  These didn’t.  Now that’s not to say they don’t try.  In the case of Axe Giant: The Wrath of  Paul Bunyan (Movie 273 of 365) they try by turning a historical figure into monster.  Besides the fact that most kids nowadays have no idea who Paul Bunyan is to begin with, they don’t even use Babe the big blue ox in the killing spree.  Also they really need to decided how tall Bunyan is.  At the start of the movie he’s like normal height. 100+ years later (the beginning is a bad flashback) he’s somewhere between 10 and 50 ft tall depending on the scene and who is doing the special effects.  But the plot is this, a bunch of first time offenders are sent out in the woods as a learning experience with Mr. Wannabe Top Cop and Ms. Social Worker.  One offender does something stupid that attracts the attention of Bunyan.  He is so enraged he goes on a very bloody killing spree.  If you have nothing else to watch on a Saturday afternoon then watch it, otherwise skip it.  

PigHunt2008Pig Hunt (Movie 248 of 365) is just as bad.  Although they try to make up for it by adding a crazy cast of second stringers.  Once again we have co-eds but this time they are law abiding. They are heading into the woods to go wild pig hunting.  Really only John (Travis Aaron Wade) has any idea what he’s doing because this is his family’s old place.  So how is this a horror movie?  Your guess is as good as mine, but here is the rest of their attempt.  First throw in some crazed backwoods, not-quite-Deliverance, relatives of John.  They are also hunting boar and sometimes people.  Second throw in a marijuana growing hippie sex cult. Not even going to try to explain why they are there.  Third is the star of the movie, The Ripper, a 3,000 pound wild boar on a rampage.  All this serves to  muddy the plot, confuse the heck out of you, and draw out an already boring movie.  Yes there is nudity but even that can’t save this bad attempt at a creature feature.

Well if you like gross and vulgar…

Chillerama2011I’m not a prude, I like off-color humor, there are things that are so wrong but I still like.   However, if that’s all your movie is depending on then save us the time and just don’t make it.  Chillerama (Movie 259 of 365) starts juvenile and gets grosser by the moment.  This movie is basically a bunch of sketches wrapped around a loose plot about the last night of a beloved drive-in theater.  Oh  yeah, the impending doom that’s about to befall the theater goers. This movie was so chock full of poor taste that I almost stopped watching so many times.  It’s juvenile and in my opinion not the least bit funny or scary for that matter.  I bring up the funny because I think it was trying to be a horror comedy.  Trying being the operative word.  The only saving grace is the drop lines from other movies.  If I never have to watch this movie again it will be too soon.

AHauntedHouse2013Speaking of movies I don’t plan to watch again, A Haunted House (Movie 254 of 365).  Really I should’ve known better. I had seen Scary Movie and Scary Movie 2 but I figured hey, maybe the Wayans’ younger brothers have matured.  Well this time it’s Marlon’s show, and no, he hasn’t matured.  I realize this is a horror parody, mostly based on the recent Paranormal Activity series but I think someone needs to tell Marlon Wayans that.  Mostly it comes across as how to make a movie when you are immature and high on recreational pharmaceuticals.  Not enough of the humor was horror related.  Instead it seems to be mostly, one bad sex joke after another and really after a while it just started to feel mean.  There was a laugh or two but mostly I just felt embarrassed for everyone in it. Particularly, Essence Atkins who plays Wayan’s girlfriend.

This is all you need to see of A Haunted House.

Covering crap with someone else’s label

I’ve already written about the last two movies.  I love zombie movies and I love the original Night of the Living Dead.  That just makes me loathe these two sequels in name only, Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection (Movie 145 of 365) and Night of the Living Dead: Reanimation (Movie 150 of 365)even more than I would have if I had just sat through a crappy zombie movie.  I’m not going to rehash why again, just go look at the links.  Or better yet go watch something better, anything better.

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2013 in Movies, Reviews

 

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A Tragedy at Midnight – Movie 168 of 365

If you have about an hour to spare and need a little mystery movie to kill time with, A Tragedy at Midnight will fit the bill. Gary Sherman (John Howard) is a radio personality and armchair detective. He makes a living at making the police look like idiots, by solving the cases they can’t and announcing the perpetrator on air.

Sherman has infuriated the local police so that chief has ordered his men to find something, anything on Sherman in order to bring him in and more importantly off the air. They can’t find anything but Sherman soon provides something himself. Coming home from a party he collapses into his twin bed not bothering to check the other bed beside him, assuming it’s his wife already asleep. He wakes later to discover that not only isn’t the woman in the bed his wife but also she has a knife sticking  out of her. Now he must solve the murder mystery  while also staying one step ahead of the police, lest he ends up in jail himself.

If you go into this expecting more fluff than drama you won’t be disappointed. While there is definitely a mystery, they try to inject a lot of lighter moments throughout the film.  Almost too much. However, the revealing of the killer was actually a pretty exciting scene. And if you are watching any version that is less than an hour apparently you are getting the cut-down available for TV version. So maybe there was more substance in the missing 15 minutes, but I doubt it. Gary Sherman and his wife make a cute mystery couple. Not a cute as the Thin Man’s William Powell and Myrna Loy, but still enjoyable.

Overall A Tragedy at Midnight is a nice little time waster.

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in Movies, Reviews

 

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The Day – Movie 167 of 365

The Day is a post-apocalyptic horror film where the horror is more based on the violence and slight goriness and where the monster is all too human. As I said this movie is set in a post-apocalyptic world, it is not said what kind of event caused the situation but apparently it’s not important. Besides whatever happened occurred ten years ago.

What is important is that everyone seems to be down to just basic survival mode, not just from the elements but from other survivors. Particularly from those who, after the food supplies dwindled to near nothing, have resorted to cannibalism and actively hunt other survivors. But our fearless main characters haven’t resorted to such barbarous acts. Traveling with jars of seeds to plant, they search the countryside for a place to become civilized again.  They happen upon a lone farmhouse, long abandoned as well as the area around it. Thinking of it as a temporary oasis, they soon find out that it’s a trap, literally.

I’m not really sure what to think about this movie. On one hand it’s a pretty solid movie, the action and acting are both decent. On the other hand the movie feels like half a movie. That what’s going on is a subplot at best or the second half of a movie. There is not a whole lot of depth, no real back stories, and very little reason to care about the main characters except they are being attacked. Okay one character seems to have a backstory, that once discovered causes the others to distrust her.  Also suddenly she becomes the main character among the group.  This is a little disconcerting without much background.  So even though The Day has great potential for being a good movie I struggled to get emotionally invested. It’s a good beginning, or more appropriately ending, but there just needs to be more.

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in Movies, Reviews

 

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Patrik, Age 1.5 – Movie 166 of 365

I find that often other countries deal with some subjects better in film than America. One subject is homosexuality. There are very few gay main characters in American films and usually they are single and most of the plots deal with them being out of not. The Swedish film (with English subtitles) Patrik, Age 1.5 is not about that, but it is about the hope and heartache surrounding adoption.
Göran (Gustaf Skarsgård) and Sven Skoogh (Torkel Petersson) are a gay married couple who want to adopt a baby. Well Göran does anyway, Sven has a daughter from a prior relationship and is not really wanting more children. After many unsuccessful attempts, the adoption agency sends them a letter stating that they have a boy, Patrik, age 1,5, that they are looking to place. Göran and Sven decide to take in the 1.5 year old child, assuming that the comma was supposed to be a period. When Patrik arrives it becomes obvious that they assumed the wrong typo. It was a case of the comma being in the wrong place, Patrik is 15 years old and a juvenile delinquent. Now Göran and Sven have to decide whether to keep Patrik, who is also homophobic, or send him back like so many families have done before.

I love this movie. I think it provide a good portrayal of the highs and lows of trying to adopt and how it affects the couple’s relationship. But it does so in a way that doesn’t make it too depressing, while at the same time taking the subject seriously. I also like that they cover all aspects of Göran and Sven’s relationship. It’s not only about the potential new child and it’s not just from their perspective.  We also see the situation though the eyes of Patrik, the neighbors, and even Sven’s ex-wife and daughter.

I thought the ending was a bit cheesy and sure it could’ve been a bit deeper, but I think neither diminished this from being a really good film.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2013 in Movies, Reviews

 

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She Done Him Wrong – Movie 165 of 365

She Done Him Wrong 1933

Prior to this movie my exposure was Mae West to was a series of what I thought were over the top imitations. However, after seeing She Done Him Wrong, I now realize they weren’t far off.

It seems pretty clear that this movie was a plot woven together to fit nicely around Ms West’s looks and personality.  It’s a drama but the drama of the secondary characters seems to be downplayed to focus more on West and you don’t want her to be too sad so even her “down” moments barely crack the surface.  But then of course it would show West in her best light, she wrote the screenplay.  As was the case with most of her movies.

She Done Him Wrong is the story of Diamond Lil (Mae West) nightclub owner and headliner act.  She juggles men’s affections with ease, until one of them, a her criminal boyfriend Chick Clark (Owen Moore) breaks out of prison to see her, and more importantly to make sure that he’s her only one. Meanwhile, Lil is finding herself very attracted to Capt. Cummings (Cary Grant) who runs the city mission next door.  Also, she’s finding out that her boss Gus Jordan (Noah Beery ) is involved in a lot more than the nightclub and it’s not legal.

The musical numbers are nice and the dialogue and one-liners are fun.  You either like the character that is Mae West or you don’t.  I can take it in doses.  But if you have never seen her in action this is a great movie to see what all the imitation is about.

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2013 in Movies, Reviews

 

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