Year End…Did I Make it to 300?

Here it is, December 31st and even though I’m still behind on writing my final reviews of the year I didn’t want to let 2013 be heralded in with silence on my end. You may be wondering if I made it to my goal of watching 300 movies in 2012 and I have!

Woooooo!

There are still a few hours before midnight and I’ll probably watch another movie tonight, but I’ll keep movie #300 a surprise (unless you follow me on Facebook) until I get something formal written. I’ll also outline my 2013 goals; I’ve decided on doing something different each month, so that should be a lot of fun!

I want to thank everyone for their support this year, I have had a blast writing about movies I watch, goal or no. I wish you all an amazing 2013!

-Andy

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Love Actually (12/19/12)

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At least eight different, intertwining tales of love at Christmastime in London come together in Love Actually.

The different stories -

  • Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) is an aging rock star looking to stage a comeback with a new Christmas album with the help of his manager, Joe (Gregor Fisher).
  • Juliet (Keira Knightley) marries Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) but learns that Peter’s best friend, Mark (Andrew Lincoln) is in love with her.
  • A writer, Jamie (Colin Firth) finds his girlfriend sleeping with his brother and travels to a remote French cottage where he falls in love with the Portuguese cleaning lady, Aurélia (Lúcia Moniz), who doesn’t speak English.
  • Harry (Alan Rickman) finds himself attracted to his secretary, Mia (Heike Makatsch), and his wife, Karen (Emma Thompson) begins to suspect something when she finds a gift for her.
  • David (Hugh Grant), the new Prime Minister, falls for Natalie (Martine McCutcheon), a member of his household staff.
  • Daniel (Liam Neeson) and his stepson, Sam (Thomas Sangster), mourn the loss of their wife and mother. Sam has also fallen for his American classmate and Daniel decides to help him win her over.
  • Sarah (Laura Linney) has had a crush on a coworker, Karl (Rodrigo Santoro), for years but their relationship is constantly interrupted by calls from her mentally ill brother.
  • Unlucky in love in London, Colin (Kris Marshall) decides to travel to America to find a girl, or girls.
  • John (Martin Freeman) and Judy (Joanna Page) meet while filming as body doubles for various sex scenes.

Wow, do you have all that? It’s not nearly as confusing as it sounds as each of the stories is short and all of them overlap in some way. Characters crop up in different stories and the golden thread of the film is love. Love Actually is surprisingly one of the best romantic comedies I’ve ever seen. Love Actually is incredibly charming, honest, and funny and it’s a Christmas movie to boot. In fact, it’s the only Christmas movie I can think of that has nudity, so that doesn’t hurt.

There is a lot to keep track of in Love Actually and some of the story lines play out better than others, but the film rarely feels like it is trying to pull in too much. The only real disappointment comes if your favorite story lines don’t wrap up as fully as others. The cast is so varied that even if you have an aversion to an actor, they likely aren’t on screen long enough to get under your skin. When I was reviewing Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, I noted that Keira Knightley bothered me in that film, but here she is pleasant.

I had seen Love Actually a few years ago and vaguely remembered a few of the characters and their stories, but the film felt fresh to me. I could see moving Love Actually into regular Christmastime movie rotation, but it’s also complex enough to have it be “new” every few years. Regardless, I know it’s past Christmas but let Love Actually into your heart and onto your screen when the seasons rolls around again next year.

I give it 4 “to me, you are perfect…”s out of 5.

PS – I could not have written this review without the help of Wikipedia.

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Cinephile Interview series with yours truly (and more!)

Alexander at Cinemaniac Reviews has a feature called Cinephile Reviews and he’s been kind enough to interview me. So far, he’s also interviewed A Door Into Movies and Committed to Celluloid. The interviews are all really interesting and give insight into our personalities and movie tastes.

You can read my full interview with Alexander HERE.

Also, while I have your attention, I’d like to take the time and highlight something you may have seen in my sidebar. Andy over at Rorschach Reviews held an award ceremony and I was voted Blogger of the Year! Actually, I won by a single vote so that’s pretty neat too.

I have eight more reviews to write as of right now and I still have one movie left to hit my goal of 300. I’m going to try to get all the reviews done before 2013 hits, but I’m not sure if I’ll swing that. If nothing else, I’ll do something special for #300. It’s been a crazy year and a hectic nine months since I started Andy Watches Movies so thank you all for reading and here’s to next year!

What should my 2013 goal be? (Friday Question Fun)

Friday Question Fun archive

Can you believe this is the final Friday of 2012?  I can’t.

I also can’t believe that – barring some unforeseen circumstance – I was able to watch 300 movies this year. I admire those of you that were able to watch more than I did because keeping a full time job, other hobbies, AND writing for the site has taken a ton of time…and that doesn’t even include finding time to watch movies!

A sincere thank you to everyone that has read anything on my site for your support. I have had a great time writing my thoughts on movies and taking the time to chat with so many wonderful people this year. Now, I have a favor of you to ask.

What should my 2013 movie watching goal be?

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King Kong [1933] (1/15/12 & 12/18/12)

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The original King Kong is one of my favorite movies ever. It literally has everything you could possibly want out of a movie. For a movie that is nearly 80 years old it has held up incredibly well and the Blu-Ray treatment is superb.

When Peter Jackson remade King Kong a few years back I was very excited. When the movie released I was kind of let down. While Jackson’s take modernizes the effects and fleshes out some of the characters and story, for me most of the magic was lost. Watching the 1933 iteration is guaranteed to put a smile on my face and keep me on the edge of my seat, even after a dozen or so viewings.

I won’t bother with the details of the movie because if you haven’t seen some sort of version of King Kong you have likely been under a rock for 80 years. However, if you’ve only seen the 2005 version or, god help us, the 1976 version, then please consider watching the original.

I realize some people have a hard time watching old movies, or even black and white movies. I can understand that sometimes, but I firmly believe King Kong is an exception. It still delivers thrills and wonder, even by today’s CGI-laden standards.

[Update 12/27/12] I got around to watching King Kong again on and thought I would repost one of my very first reviews from the first week I started the site. Enjoy!

I give it 5 screaming Fay Wrays out of 5.

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Elf (12/17/12)

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Elf is the story of a child being adopted by elves in the North Pole and returning to New York City as an adult to find his real father.

After a baby crawls into Santa Claus’s (Ed Asner) bag and brought back to the North Pole, Santa and his elves have no choice but to raise him. Papa Elf (Bob Newhart) raises Buddy (Will Ferrell) as his own, but when Buddy towers over all the other elves and isn’t quite the toy-making genius they all are, he starts to suspect something isn’t right. Papa Elf tells buddy that his real father is Walter Hobbs (James Caan) and lives in New York City, so Buddy decides to go and live with his biological father  and spreads holiday cheer to everyone around him.

Yeah, I’m going to be that guy that is still reviewing Christmas movies after Christmas is over, sorry.

Elf is one of the handful of films in my regular holiday rotation but unlike Christmas Vacation and A Christmas Story, it’s a film that I generally only watch once a year. I love  Elf almost as much as those movies but I think the lack of nostalgia for me makes Elf a great movie to watch but once a year is enough to satiate me.

I don’t care what anyone says, I will always consider Buddy the Elf to be Will Ferrell’s greatest role. The naive but pure-hearted Buddy is a great character and Ferrell is perfect for it. Elf is a movie that could have easily been crude and loud, but Ferrell keeps it in check and knocks it out of the park. The supporting cast is great too with Zooey Deschanel, Peter Dinklage, Mary Steenburgen, Andy Richter, Kyle Gass, Amy Sedaris, Artie Lange, Jon Favreau (also the director of Elf), etc. While I’m on the subject, why doesn’t James Caan get better work now? He’s great.

Where my two aforementioned favorite Christmas movies both have a sometimes cynical take of the holidays and focus on the follies, Elf focuses on Christmas spirit and believing in miracles. The childlike sense of wonder the film exudes makes you really want to believe in Santa and this really sets it apart. It’s not quite a movie for kids, but it’s definitely a movie for the whole family. There’s the perfect balance of humor for all ages here and throw in all the holiday stuff and Elf is just an absolute joy to watch.

I give it 4 “my finger has a heartbeat”s out of 5.

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Breakfast at Tiffany’s (12/16/12)

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In Breakfast at Tiffany’s, a young New York socialite resistant to love ends up falling for a man in her apartment building.

After eating a pastry and drinking coffee while window shopping outside Tiffany’s, Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) heads home to her New York City apartment. She tries avoiding her date from the night before, and buzzes her neighbor, Mr. Yunioshi (Mickey Rooney) to let her in. The next morning, Holly is awakened by her own doorbell ringing and a new tenant is trying to move in. She invites him in and learns his name is Paul Varjak (George Peppard).Soon, Holly tells Paul she needs to visit Sing Sing prison and deliver a coded message as a “weather report” to a famous mobster. As Paul learns more about the true Holly Golightly, he falls for her despite her adherence to keeping up appearances of her lifestyle.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s fans be warned, I was not at all charmed by this film. Within minutes of the film starting, Mickey Rooney’s horrifyingly racist portrayal of Mr. Yunioshi almost made me turn the film off but I pressed on thinking it was just a sign of the times. Then I discovered the film was not supposed to be a comedy and Mr. Yunioshi seems to be injected, superfluously I might add, to add some “humor” to the movie. Disgusting. But my distaste for the film didn’t end there.

I also kind of hated Holly Golightly as well. I don’t understand why so many girls see her as a role model. She is lying about who she is, she is only interested in money, she doesn’t seem to actually believe in love, she is superficial, it’s hinted that she’s a call girl, she is mentally unstable, etc. Maybe she is “real” and just trying to find herself but that wasn’t my impression of her. I had never seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s but have seen Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly emblazoned on all sorts of memorabilia and while watching the film I kept asking myself  “why?”.

Now that I’m (maybe) done bashing Breakfast at Tiffany’s, I will praise the film’s sense of style. I’m a huge fan of the TV show Mad Men and while I was kind of hating Holly Golightly I did like her manner of dress.

I really don’t know why I was so put off by Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Perhaps it is just one of those movies so many people talk about that you just assume greatness. Now I know how all those folks feel that don’t like Citizen Kane. Breakfast at Tiffany’s was recently just admitted to the National Film Registry and I kind of cringed when I read that news. Maybe if they recut the film without Mr. Yunioshi it would leave a better taste in my mouth.

I give it 2 the only scene I really liked was the opening title sequence out of 5.

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DVD Court: Dec. 27

This week’s DVD Court

The week after Christmas doesn’t exactly see a whole lot of releases apparently, only three releases but one of them seems like one of the better movies of the year (which I still need to see):

  • Looper
  • The Words
  • Cosmopolis

The jury has rested and it seems like I may need to buy Looper…However, I did get a few movies for Christmas (Sunset Boulevard, Lawrence of Arabia box set, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Shut Up and Play the Hits - LCD Soundsystem’s final show) and a few gift cards, so maybe I’ll pick up a few more great movies (and maybe Looper).

What about you guys, did you get anything or are you going to with some holiday gift cards/gift money?

The Queen of Versailles (12/15/12)

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The Queen of Versailles follows the lives of one of the richest families in the US as their fortune falls from under them during the economic downturn.

David Siegel is the owner of the largest time-share business in the United States. He has become insanely wealthy from his business ventures and along with his former beauty queen wife, Jackie, the two plan on building the largest single house in the country at over 90,000 sq. feet, nicknamed Versailles. Before the sprawling mansion can be completed, the real estate bubble bursts and the Siegel family, along with their 8 kids and many dogs, are hit hard financially. This documentary follows the Siegels during their rise and fall.

The Queen of Versailles is an interesting documentary because while the economic hardships that befall the Siegels add a different layer to the film, it seems the original intent was simply to show how a family this wealthy lives. If you’ve ever wondered “what kind of people could afford to build a 90,000 sq. foot mansion?” The Queen of Versailles has your answer.

Most of the film centers around Jackie, who I believe is 48 but acts like she is still in her late teens. Her kids run rampant, as do her dogs, and outside of David, the family has no regard for their money as if it comes from a faucet. Oddly, Jackie came from very humble beginnings but has lost herself in the lifestyle of being so incredibly rich. When the business begins to falter, the family is unable to cut back – mind you, they are still incredibly wealthy – and live even a remotely modest life.

In the same way that reality television is so fascinating, The Queen of Versailles is a train wreck. It’s a great little documentary that has deservedly gained lots of press and is surely a contender come awards season. The Siegels are easy to hate but also incredibly humanized at times. There are certain scenes with the family that could take place in a small shack somewhere, but instead take place in a huge mansion in Florida. I was glued to the screen during The Queen of Versailles and I almost want a trashy reality television series to come out of it, because I’d watch that too.

I give it 4 shots of Versailles, USA out of 5.

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Captain Slickpants (12/15/12)

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A strange guy obsesses over asking out a waitress at his favorite restaurant and believes he finds his chance when she loses her wallet in Captain Slickpants.

We see Gregg (Ben Dietels), living alone in his deceased grandmother’s house, doing unique aerobic exercises and lighting off Roman candles in the yard. He opens his computer to see his best friend Steven’s (Ryan Lintner) video blog talking about how Gregg is going to finally ask out Vanessa (Danielle Dietels), a waitress at Gregg’s normal hangout that he has been obsessing over. After missing his chance and finding out that Vanessa is quitting at the restaurant, Gregg thinks all hope is lost until he finds Vanessa’s wallet in the parking lot and takes it as a sign that he has one last chance to ask her out.

You most likely have not heard of Captain Slickpants, I hadn’t either until I was contacted by Ben Dietels, who aside from starring in the film, also wrote and directed it. You can find more info about Captain Slickpants at the BPO Films website.

I’m always a bit weary about indie movies but I actually really enjoyed Captain Slickpants. It’s a simple story and is obviously made with love. I laughed a few times and was pretty impressed by the film considering it’s production seems to mainly consist of a few friends that enjoy making movies. It’s really what indie films should be. The only real complaint I have about Captain Slickpants is that the volume of the soundtrack is uneven, I had to adjust the volume on my TV two or three times because the music was too loud or the dialogue was too quiet.

Captain Slickpants is obviously not going to be for everyone. I thought there was a bit of a Napoleon Dynamite vibe to the film and the main character, Gregg, but others may not have that same feeling. I know indie comedies can be totally hit or miss with most folks, especially actual indie productions such as this, but I was left quite charmed by Captain Slickpants.

I give it 3 Captain Slickpants trailers out of 5.

If you think you might like a light quirky indie movie and want to give Captain Slickpants a shot, I can definitely pass on my copy of the film for viewing. Since it was sent to me for promotional purposes I wouldn’t feel right keeping it for myself and I’d like to help the filmmakers out. Email me at Andy@AndyWatchesMovies.com if you’re seriously interested.

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