My December Movies Round-Up

Please excuse my extreme tardiness for getting this entry completed, January has gone by in the blink of an eye for me.

Well, I made my goal of 300 movies in 2012 and even squeaked in an additional two films. It wasn’t easy but it sure was fun! I’ll have my 2012 statistics up soon (hopefully) in a separate post, so this entry is slightly shorter than the rest have been. Also, this month marked another new method of viewing, my Apple TV, a Christmas present.

Here are the films I watched in December:

  1. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
  2. Bad Ass
  3. The Mummy
  4. Safety Not Guaranteed
  5. Christmas Vacation
  6. Beneath the Planet of the Apes
  7. The Game
  8. Assassination
  9. Captain Slickpants
  10. The Queen of Versailles
  11. Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  12. Elf
  13. King Kong
  14. Home Alone – Nostalgiathon guest post by my wife, Rachel
  15. Love Actually
  16. Alien
  17. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  18. A Christmas Story
  19. The Lady Vanishes
  20. Highlander
  21. City of God
  22. A Christmas Story
  23. Django Unchained
  24. Lake Mungo
  25. Planes, Trains & Automobiles
  26. Boogie Nights
  27. Wanderlust
  28. Looper

Head past the break to see the rest of my December 2012 stats!

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Are films primarily art or entertainment? (Friday Question Fun)

Friday Question Fun

First off, I’d really like to apologize for falling so far behind here. My last post was exactly a week ago with another Friday Question Fun entry. I have been oddly busy at work and haven’t really had time for the site or, to be honest, movie watching in general. I STILL need to have my stats wrap-ups for 2012 and I’m just embarrassed I haven’t done it at this point. I wish things were different, but they look to stay this way for a little bit.

As for this week’s question…

Are films primarily art or entertainment?

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When is a film too long? (Friday Question Fun)

Friday Question Fun archive

Last weekend, my wife, mother, and I saw Lincoln and while it’s undeniably one of the better movies of 2012, it felt like a much longer movie than it is. In fact, I hear fairly often that people don’t like sitting through movies that go on past two hours.

When do you feel like a film is too long?

Do you avoid watching movies past that length?

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Looper (12/31/12)

LooperMovie Three Hundred Two

In Looper, time travel is used by the mafia to dispose of people and a young hitman soon finds his future self his target.

In 2074, time travel is illegal and used only on the black market by criminals looking to dispose of bodies. They send the victims back 30 years, strapped with cash where a hitman known as a “looper” on the other end finishes the job and collects the payment from the body with the only condition being that the victims do not escape. When a looper’s time is finished, his future self is sent back for the younger looper to kill; this is known as closing the loop.  Joseph Simmons (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a looper whose future self, Old Joe (Bruce Willis), as his hit but Old Joe escapes. Old Joe and Young Joe meet at a diner and Old Joe says is looking to stop a mysterious figure in the future known only as The Rainmaker who is the one closing all the loops. Young Joe finds some coordinates from Old Joe and heads to an isolated farm where Sara (Emily Blunt) lives with her young son, Cid (Pierce Gagnon), who Old Joe believes may be The Rainmaker.

I went into Looper with very lofty expectations. Though I missed the theatrical run, I have seen nothing but glowing praise for the film since its release. I’m afraid that my expectations were not quite met by Looper though I did thoroughly enjoy most of it. Time travel is both Looper’s biggest asset and point of contention for me. Looper is a bit of a refreshing take on time travel and it gets away from many of the quirks of telling a time travel story, but it also kind of crudely pushes aside the belief that Old Joe can exist.

Let me explain, and I assure you this is not a spoiler – For Old Joe to exist in the future, Young Joe would have to kill him in the past. The same scene with Old Joe escaping plays out in the film with Old Joe getting killed, thus allowing Young Joe to grow old and live his life to become Old Joe. I was able to suspend my disbelief for the sake of the rest of the film, but while talking in the diner, Young Joe asks about time travel and Old Joe gruffly talks about how it’s too difficult to explain and then they move on. I understand that time travel is a difficult concept to portray but something about this didn’t jibe with me. Also, don’t try to figure out if anyone else in 2034 is from the future, I did and it was futile and may even hinder your enjoyment of the story.

Time travel quibbles aside, I found Looper to be extremely well made. Joseph Gordon-Levitt with his makeup on looks remarkably like Bruce Willis. Gordon-Levitt even has most of Willis’ mannerisms down pat, it’s a lot of fun to watch. Pierce Gagnon, the youngest actor in Looper by about 20 years, possibly gives the best performance of the film. Writer/director Rian Johnson creates a very believable setting, all things considered, and makes Looper a smart action film, a combination that unfortunately doesn’t seem to come along very often.

I give it 4 completely awesome Mondo posters out of 5.

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Wanderlust (12/31/12)

WanderlustMovie Three Hundred One

After losing both their jobs and expensive New York City condo, a couple gets Wanderlust and decides to live in a rural commune.

George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston) are buying a very expensive micro-loft in New York City but after Paul loses his job and Linda’s documentary about penguin testicular cancer doesn’t get picked up by HBO, the couple is forced to leave. At first they decide to stay with George’s brother, Rick (Ken Marino), in Atlanta, but on the trip down they stumble on a strange commune in the middle of nowhere. After flipping their car over, they spend the night and are greeted with open arms by the members and their leader, Seth (Justin Theroux). With no prospects back in New York or Georgia, George and Linda decide to stay but the lifestyle takes some adjustment for them.

I will admit that Wanderlust looked pretty awful from the trailers (and the completely awful cover art pictured above) but the film kind of surprised me in that I didn’t completely hate it. Paul Rudd has been one of my favorite comedic actors for some time and I’m usually keen to see whatever movie he’s starring in, with varying degrees of success. Wanderlust is a pretty dismal film, most of the humor falls completely flat, but it’s better than I expected.

For the most part, Wanderlust kind of reminds me a lot of the animated TV show King of the Hill. The humor is kind of the same low-key, easy to miss dry wit that doesn’t necessarily lend itself well to single sittings. Much of Wanderlust feels like it was written scene by scene and then pasted together, but it’s not like the comedy genre usually asks much in terms of plot. There is one scene near the end that is completely out of place and goes on far too long, with Rudd talking to himself in a mirror. To be honest, I was embarrassed for the poor guy by the end of that scene.

The other thing that kind of works against Wanderlust is that there are no characters I connected with. We all get restless and want change in our lives, but Rudd and Aniston seem a bit too old to be pulling the kinds of things their characters do. I will say that, as a comedic actress, Aniston always surprises me with her timing. She is better than a lot of people give her credit for. While I would likely never watch Wanderlust again, it’s not the complete mess I was expecting. I laughed at a fair amount of the jokes and the film kept me entertained enough not to turn it off.

I give it 3 “money literally buys nothing” out of 5.

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DVD Court – Jan. 15

Here is this week’s DVD Court where we discuss the following films:

  • Taken 2
  • The Possession
  • To Rome with Love

Pretty boring week for me, but maybe you guys have other opinions on those movies. Or maybe you’re picking other stuff up this week? I’m liking the Criterion releases this week, I’m sure I’ll be getting those. What about you guys?

Movie House Roundtable at The Filmster

Issy over at The Filmster has come up with a great new feature that he asked me to take part in. I had a ton of fun coming up with answers to his questions and since I’m procrastinating wrapping up my 2012 posts (I just don’t want the year to be over, I guess) I’m posting it!

You can find the post HERE

What movies are you looking forward to in 2013? (Friday Question Fun)

Friday Question Fun

I’m nearly done with all my 2012 business so I promise to be moving into 2013 goals and happenings for the site (and an updated banner) soon. For now, we can start looking forward to what 2013 will bring us in terms of movies.

What movies are you looking forward to in 2013?

Do you still have a lot of 2012 movie watching yet to do?

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Boogie Nights (12/30/12)

Boogie NightsMovie Three Hundred!!!

In Boogie Nights,  young man equipped with a special gift makes it big in the porn industry.

*sorry I couldn’t resist the pun*

In 1977 in an LA night club, young Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg) is discovered by star adult film director, Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds) and due to his tremendous talent, begins a new life in the porn world as “Dirk Diggler”. Dirk quickly becomes friends with fellow adult film actor Reed Rothchild (John C. Reilly) and together, they create a very successful series of adult films about two secret agents named Brock Landers and Chest Rockwell. When Dirk gets started on drugs things begin to falter in his porn career and things get rough for Horner when his main financier goes to jail for child pornography charges. As times change, the rise and fall of the industry and the individuals involved are all laid out.

Boogie Nights fulfilled my goal of watching 300 movies in 2012!  I wanted movie #300 to be something special, something I maybe hadn’t seen in awhile and/or also tied into New Year’s Eve. Boogie Nights fit the bill on both counts. Paul Thomas Anderson has crafted some wonderful movies but Boogie Nights may very well be my favorite film of his. It literally has everything: sex, drama, laughs, incredible long shots, great characters, bell bottoms, etc.

The main thing that grabs me about Boogie Nights is the frequent and numerous long shots. Boogie Nights has more than a few and as the film progresses and the tone shifts, the cuts get quicker and then finally start getting longer again. I didn’t notice this when I watched the film several years ago, but this time around I almost wanted to time each shot to see what exactly is happening with the camera. The scenes aren’t just long, though, they are amazingly crafted and shot. Even if the action on screen was dull, which it usually is not, the way Boogie Nights is shot would still be impressive.

Due to the somewhat touchy subject matter at hand, Boogie Nights skirts much of what could make the film completely gratuitous. There are definitely some exceptions, including the final scene, but for the most part, PT Anderson is almost making a spoof of the industry for the audience. The cast in Boogie Nights is so varied and everyone has their story and everyone has their place in the film. The movie is not about the porn industry itself, but the characters.

Boogie Nights is not just a technically well-crafted film, it is a film that truly has purpose and heart.

I give it 5 Brock Landers and Chest Rockwells out of 5.

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Lake Mungo (12/26/12)

Lake MungoMovie Two Hundred Ninety Eight

In Lake Mungo, after their daughter drowns, a family begins experiencing strange happenings and investigate.

Sixteen year old Alice Palmer (Talia Zucker) drowns and after her death her family feels an eerie presence in their house. After catching several ghostly images on video, they hire a psychic to investigate further. Their son confesses to staging the whole thing but the odd occurrences continue. The family then finds that Alice had kept several secrets from them and during their investigation after her death, they learn more about their daughter than they expected.

Lake Mungo is a hard film to classify. It’s easy to write it off as a horror film or a found-footage type film but it’s neither, at least not completely. Lake Mungo is filmed like a documentary with all of Alice’s family and friends being interviewed and then showing various pictures or video clips. It’s a very effective method of storytelling but the story itself is kind of meandering and at times lacking. Lake Mungo also isn’t a scary film, though it had some moments that caused the hairs on the back of my neck to prick up.

Where Lake Mungo succeeds is its very low-key approach to telling the story of Alice Palmer. The way that the film plays out is done incredibly well and the story probably wouldn’t work if done in a traditional way. If you came into a room that was playing Lake Mungo it would be easy to mistake it for an actual documentary. It feels so real that, at times, I was kind of thinking this was an actual event that had some ghost parts added to it, almost like a dramatization. For a tiny film crew out of Australia, I was actually quite impressed.

However, when Lake Mungo is wrapping up I wasn’t fulfilled by the story. I’m not sure if the horror elements that were added aided the film or held it back. In the end, it’s not so much a ghost story as it is a story of a family trying to deal with the premature loss of their daughter. It’s an interesting film, but Lake Mungo will probably not stand out from the sea (or lake…) of similar films, especially considering its dull title.

I give it 3 actual Lake Mungo scenery out of 5.

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