Monday, July 7, 2014

June 2014 Recap

Hopefully everyone had a safe and happy Independence Day or if you're Canadian, a safe and happy Canada Day. Let's get down to brass tax...

Didn't watch any BOOK movies in June 2014, so that takes care of that. As far as film's that DID get air time on the blog, all we have to recap is MATCH POINT and my thoughts on that haven't changed, so see the review for the details. Now then...

NON 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die - As seen in June 2014

While my wife and I were on vacation, our days were quite packed but before we'd head back to the hotel each night, we took to swinging by a Redbox and grabbing a few movies. Therefore, I saw several films. I wrote, in depth, about some of these on my Letterboxd account, so if you want full details on SOME of them, click the icon on the right to go there and read my full account. As far as the recap goes, I'm just going to jot down a few fresh thoughts and leave it at that.

1) Enough Said (2013 - Nicole Holofcener) 8/10 - My wife and I LOVED this one and I have to say, it really made me miss James Gandolfini that much more. I actually left my wife to her hot bubble bath, while I snuck down to the hotel lobby to use one of the computer's in their business center to do a full scale review on this one (on Letterboxd), so go there to read a much better write up. I'll just say that there's not much to like and even after being a longtime Seinfeld fan, I never knew Julia Louis-Dreyfus had these acting chops in her. In fact, this would've been a completely different film had she not been cast in the lead and quite possibly a worse one. A simple movie that made me react right along with the characters.


2) Evil Dead (2013 - Fede Alvarez) 3/10 - I don't even know why I try with these moden horrors anymore, because they always leave me wishing I hadn't. This was no different - twenty-somethings pretending to be teenagers, the same cliches filled out (a beauty, a jock-ish type, a nerd, a brainy good looking girl, etc.), the same effects with no genuine thrills. Lord knows what the budget was here, but I'm willing to bet it was a lot more than the 80s, Raimi version and THAT movie had so much more substance and so much more genuine scare in it than this pile of crap. If this is your bag, more power to you - otherwise, steer clear.


3) Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013 - Adam McKay) 1/10 - Speaking of piles of crap, this made Evil Dead look like Taxi Driver. I actually really liked the original Anchorman. I found it to be original, genuinely hilarious and tell a good story to boot. This sequel actually made me reexamine my opinion of the original - it was THAT bad. They knew going in that they already had the audience and assumed that they were mindless enough to want to be fed the exact same thing and that's what they went with. Ferrell's schtick just isn't funny anymore and unless he can make a turn to dramatic pictures, his days are numbered. Surely, even the mindless drones who do buy into this sort of thing will eventually unanimously replace him with the next funny man. I mean, they've basically, completely turned on Sandler at this point and Ferrell has gotta' be next. Personally, I can't see myself ever wanting to see one of his movies again. Seriously, not even the talents of Paul Rudd and Steve Carell could save this trainwreck.


4) Nebraska (2013 - Alexander Payne) 6.5/10 - Boy, what happened to Alexander Payne. Not that this was god awful or anything, but certainly not up to the quality that is Sideways, About Schmidt or Election. I didn't care for The Descendants and while Nebraska was better, it certainly left me wanting a bit more. It dawned on me during the course of this movie, that no matter what ending they went with it was going to be too cliche. If they'd gotten to Nebraska and there had been millions waiting on Woody, it would've been too easy. If they'd gotten there and there'd been nothing, again, too easy. So, in that regard, the film kind of backed itself into a corner, where there was going to be no outcome that wasn't going to leave me with the response of "Oh, okay, so they went that route". No surprises to be had, is what I'm saying. Everyone in the cast was great. I especially liked June Squibb. The story was good too, I'm just saying it left something to be desired and was never going to provide the viewer with anything blow away.


5) 12 Years a Slave (2013 - Steve McQueen) 8.5/10 - The only Best Picture nominee from this years list that I haven't seen is American Hustle. I have a hard time believing that it's any better than this, which means I'd have to agree with the Academy this year and say, yes, 12 Years a Slave WAS the Best Picture of the year. Again, unless you're a card carrying member of the KKK, what's not to like here. Inspiration, drama, tears, heart, passion...this movie has everything we come to expect from the cinema with great performances and an unbelievable story to go with it. Seriously though, as much as I LOVED this, what's up with Lupito Nyong'o? I mean, did I miss something here? How was she the Best Supporting Actress of the year? She barely had any lines. And not only was she the Best Supporting Actress (according to the Academy) she's graced umpteen magazine covers and is set for a starring role in the new Star Wars movie. I just don't get it. Anyway, if you wanna talk about damn fine acting, look no further than Chiwetel Ejiofor, who probably should've been the Best Actor winner (although McConaughey was fine) and Michael Fassbender who DEFINITELY should've been the Best Supporting Actor winner (because Leto was nothing special...more on that in a second). Seriously though, GREAT MOVIE and if you don't cry at the end, you're made of stone.


6) The Wolf of Wall Street (2013 - Martin Scorsese) 4/10 - The worst Martin Scorsese film I've ever seen? Yeah, probably. Yeah, it's even worse than Casino and we all know how much of a bummer that one was on me. I really wish Martin would have called it quits with the gangster stuff with The Departed. No, this movie wasn't about gangsters, it was about swarthy stock brokers, but they were kind of like gangsters - at least enough like gangsters for this to remind me of a gangster flick. You had guys doing illegal activities, downing drugs, blowing through mountains of cash and dodging the feds, so as far as I'm concerned it was just another gangster picture. The Departed would have been such a good swan song for Martin to give to the genre that really put him on the map. You follow that up with Shutter Island and then Hugo (haven't seen it, heard mixed things) and you're well on your way to being someone other than the guy who makes movies with lots of violence and lots of swear words. But, no, we're right back into the thick of things with The Wolf of Wall Street - a film that reminded me of Goodfellas, with the violence traded in for sex. Seriously, am I just getting old or was there an obscene amount of sex and cursing in this, like unnecessarily so. Oh and to the people who had a fit when Leo was passed up in favor of McConaughey for Best Actor, I respectfully say HA. For my money, the guy was trying WAY too hard and another thing - Leo just can't pull off being a tough guy. He's too much of a babyface to play anything but the guy whose side we want to be on and the Jordan Belfort character wasn't on that side. Bottom line, Leo's performance was too over the top, to an off putting degree. On the other hand, speaking of Matthew McConaughey scored a home run for the ten minutes of screen time he was granted and I take back some of what I said about Jonah Hill, because he wasn't too bad at all. Just a big disappointment and I think I'm really getting to the point where unnecessary sex and swearing is just a huge turn off for me, when it comes to movies.


7) Dallas Buyers Club (2013 - Jean-Marc Vallee) 7/10 - Not too bad Mr. McConaughey. You went from the guy who just ran around with his shirt off, doing romcoms with Kate Hudson and making the ladies crazy and stepped up to prove that you actually had a bit of talent. Not much to say here - good movie and it's the McConaughey performance that's really the talk of this one. Lets talk about Leto for a second though. I didn't get the hype, at all. The only reason the Academy and everyone else decided to recognize him was because he played a drag queen in a serious film. If they'd cast Jared Leto in a comedy about drag queen who teams up with a cop to take down a group of rogue truckers, he'd could've turned in the same performance and no one would've said boo. I just didn't see anything spectacular or awards worthy about it and as far as I'm concerned, Michael Fassbender was robbed. The film was probably nothing that I'll remember particularly fondly or run out and buy or anything, but it was a perfectly acceptable way to spend a couple of hours and kept my attention through the duration.


8) Philomena (2013 - Stephen Frears) 6/10 - By this point, we were intentionally trying to see all of the Best Picture noms, hence all the Best Picture noms. To me, this wasn't awful, but ultimately reminded me of a glorified Lifetime movie, with good performances instead of half assed ones. Coogan was great, but couldn't seem to shake his comedic background and lent a certain snarkiness to his character that was unneeded, in my opinion. Maybe that's what made his character so unique though, I don't know. Was the real guy this much of a smart ass? Was this anyone's favorite movie of the year? Because as far as I'm concerned, this movie just lacked that certain quality that would make it anyone's favorite anything. Nuff said...


9) Captain Phillips (2013 - Paul Greengrass) 4.5/10 - Ugh, this just didn't strike my fancy at all. I will say though that I admired Tom Hanks' reserve in this one. He's one of the most famous actor's in LaLaLand and yet, he never once tried to play screen hog, nor went over the top with his performance to upstage his peers. He stayed reserved and let a quieter character emerge and I have to applaud that. The absolute best part of this movie was the end (not being a smart ass and saying I liked it best when it was over), when Hanks' Phillips was being attended to by medics and started to slowly breakdown. What a fantastic two minutes. In fact, I'd put it in a montage of Hanks' best moments onscreen. Otherwise, this was a bore for me. No excitement (except when they were trying to ward off the pirates with the hoses) and therefore, after about twenty - thirty minutes we're stuck in a raft with a group of characters that I couldn't have cared less about.


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This post is already too long, so we'll skip the TV chatter this month and just wrap it up. Hope you enjoyed hearing about some more modern films and I should be back either tomorrow or the next day with another 1001 review. Until next month...

July 7, 2014  9:52pm

5 comments:

  1. It is well time i passed by your blog Andrew.. I've just spent a bit of time over at Amanda's place and I don't want you to feel abandoned.
    I've only seen two of these.. 12 years a slave.. I owe n apology to. It was on at the small arts center a few weeks back, and I went more out of obligation, and groaned when I saw how long it was.. and prepared to be beaten over the head with messages on loberal white guilt.. But in fact it was OK.
    As chance would have it.. have a look at the current debate raging on Amanda's entry for Rosemary's baby - The other one I have (regrettably) seen was Evil dead. Worse, for another list (the TSPDT 1000) I had to also endure Evil dead II, which was even more horrible.
    (so sorry Larry, you must be feeling persecuted and hounded round the blogs on this one)

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    1. I honestly don't like many new movies nowadays, so liking 12 Years a Slave was a big thing for me. I didn't expect to either. Was this Evil Dead really on the TSPDT 1000? or maybe you're referring to the old one...my mistake...

      I do actually kinda like the old Evil Dead, as it really freaked me out when I was younger and still holds up as a cheaply made yet quality horror flick, in my opinion.

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  2. Ray,

    Don't worry about me. There are plenty of Evil Dead II fans out there, LOL. Besides, we all have different tastes.

    Andrew,

    I respect your opinions and you explain them well, but we just don't always agree on movies. I thought 12 Years a Slave was way overrated. Chiwetel Ejiofor was great and Fassbinder was really good. I agree with you on Nyong'o. I still don't know what she did that was so great. I thought Jennifer Lawrence and Sally Hawkins were far superior in their roles.

    I thought Dallas Buyers Club and Philomena were far superior to 12 Years a Slave and I thought Leto was really great. I would have picked him over Fassbender. I still think Her was the best movie I saw last year, but you did a great job on your analysis of the films. Also, I do completely agree with you on Nebraska. It was ok, but for Payne the worst of his films that I have seen. Captain Philips was good, but not something I would want to revisit very often. Keep up the good work.

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    1. Thanks Larry, you're always a welcome commenter around here, explaining your points and counterpoints very well. I appreciate them.

      I didn't see American Hustle, so I can't comment on Lawrence, although I'll say I'm not a fan of hers in general. Hawkins was good, but kind of overshadowed by Blanchett, if you ask me.

      Glad we can agree on Nyong'o. Seriously, anyone out there wanna swing in and enlighten us as to why she's being paraded as the next big thing?

      I didn't care for Her at all. The premise was just too silly for me to try and take it as serious.

      Haven't seen Evil Dead II in ages, so I can't help you out there either. Thanks again!

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  3. Andrew,

    Thanks for the reply. Actually, I think Nyong'o has huge star potential. I thought she was good in the role, she did what she could. I just thought others in the category did more with the material they were given.

    I do think that she showed signs of potential greatness.
    I am actually looking forward to watching her is Star Wars.

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