Thursday, July 31, 2014

Everything I Saw in the First Half of 2014

This year it has been much harder for me to get to the movie and even to watch movies at home than during any other time in my life. Having a three and a half year old child certainly doesn't make movie-going any easier. It's actually gotten harder as he is more demanding about the attention I give him and he goes to bed later than he used to. So during an evening when I'm home, he might go to bed as late as nine o'clock. Often by that time there are no shows left. Even if there were, I've lost the stamina for late movies. That is due mainly to a new job I started in November. Not only do I have a nearly two hour commute in each direction, but a dinner shift in my restaurant means the earliest I get home on a weeknight is just about 1:30. On the weekend I'm often home at about 3:30 am. A lunch shift means I have to be up around 7. So any evening that I'm not working, I've either been up since 7 after sleeping, at best, six hours, but sometimes as little as four, or I have to be up at 7 the next morning and so I don't really want to get home from a movie after midnight.

I watched 80 feature films, but only 77 different ones as two were repeats and one was with DVD commentary. As compared to the same period last year, that's seven films down or only three down if you count only different films within the six months.

Of the 77 different films I saw, 58 were films I had never seen before, which is a huge jump over last year's 46. I spent more time on repeat viewing last year. I saw twenty-two films in the cinema, which is actually only two down from last year. So that's a bit surprising.

Of course there were also the Oscar-nominated short films. So I saw a total of sixteen short films, fifteen of those in the cinema. And as for TV episodes, I got through all ten episodes of "Band of Brothers" again as well as the seven episodes (twice for one of them) of this year's "Mad Men" season.

I also posted 56 new reviews (40 full length) for films seen in the first six months. That's exactly what I managed in the first six months of last year, but this year I was slightly ahead on the full length versus short cut review breakdown.

Wow! After adding up the numbers it appears as if I'm just about on par with last year even though it feels like I've done far less. Interesting observation. Let's see what happens in the next six months (or next five as I'm writing this a month too late).

So here's the list of everything I watched (TV episodes and movies, though not counting an occasional "Seinfeld" episode on late night TV). Included, as I've done the last couple of years, is the date I watched and the format for the viewing.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

From My Collection: Ghost World Movie Review

It’s sort of a rite of passage of being a teenager that you think you’ve got the world figured out, have everyone’s number, and believe your own views to be absolutely right. I suppose it takes most people until sometime in early adulthood to realize that you didn’t know half of what you thought you did when you were seventeen. Some teenagers (I might have been one of them) take it a step further and believe there is an authentic way of living and that just about everyone walking this earth is a big phony. Think Holden Caulfield. It should suggest something important that he was my hero at fifteen and then a sad tragedy at thirty.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

From My Collection: Garden State Movie Review

I really liked Garden State ten years ago. At the time I was still very much into a certain indie sensibility that rejected the mainstream for its own sake and expressed the ennui of being in your mid-20s and without direction, feeling like your parents’ completely screwed you up. Over the years as I thought about the movie – and I’ve begun thinking about it more recently because it’s ten years old and Zach Braff’s follow-up has finally arrived in cinemas – I thought of it as annoyingly precious, too perfect in its indie romantic sensibility. But watching it again I found it really holds up well. I was remembering it all wrong. Braff is a romantic softy at heart and the sappy feel-good ending is a little tacked on in the interest of living out some romantic fantasy, but all in all, Garden State works.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Classic Movie Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

My memory of watching The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly the first time was that it was long and good, but felt more like work than enjoyment. Fifteen years later my view is completely different. This is a masterful piece of filmmaking, a movie that plays with genre expectations and is humorous, violently playful, serious, and all-around entertaining. I’m not sure what didn’t strike me about it the first time.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

25 Years Ago This Month: July 1989

Lethal Weapon 2 was the big release of the month, a sequel to the successful buddy cop film starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. The sequel added Joe Pesci for some truly annoying extra comic relief, but continued to tackle important topical issues. This time it was South African apartheid. Basically Riggs and Murtagh get to take down the racist institution all on their own. Or at least the criminal diplomat in Los Angeles running a major drug ring.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Classic Movie Review: The Magnificent Seven

There are great parallels between the 19th century American West with its lawlessness, gunslingers, and vigilante justice and feudal Japan and its share of samurai warriors. Codes of honor are similar as are the general sense of open and unconquered land, small villages vulnerable to the strength of an oppressor, simple farmers trying to scrape by. The Japanese samurai films of the fifties borrowed and lifted tropes from the American western genre. Then a funny thing happened and the westerns started mimicking the samurai films. Seven Samurai was and still is one of the greatest of its kind. It was popular (as much as foreign films could be popular at the time) in the U.S. and it was ripe for picking by a Hollywood studio. And so the 1960 semi-classic The Magnificent Seven came to fruition.