Month In Review [January 2015]

In order of viewing:
1) Thelma & Louise [1991] - 8/10
Thelma & Louise [1991]

2) Armageddon [1998] - 5/10
Armageddon [1998]

3) Starlet [2012] - 7/10
Starlet [2012]

4) Wild [2014] - 7/10
Wild [2014]

5) Foxcatcher [2014] - 8/10
Foxcatcher [2014]

6) The Double [2013] - 6/10
The Double [2013]

7) Whiplash [2014] - 9/10
Whiplash

8) Boyhood [2014] - 9/10
Boyhood

9) In the Loop [2009] - 8/10
In the Loop [2009]

10) The Interview [2014] - 5/10
The Interview [2014]

TV Show Seasons Completed:
1) Luther [Series 3] - 8/10
Luther [Series 3]

2) Black Mirror [Season 1] - 9/10
Black Mirror [Season 1]

3) Futurama [Season 1] - 8/10
Futurama [Season 1]

4) Black Mirror [Season 2] - 9/10
Black Mirror [Season 2]

5) Archer [Season 3] - 8/10
Archer [Season 3]

Video Games Completed:
1) The Unfinished Swan [PS Vita] - 7/10
The Unfinished Swan [PS Vita]

2) Valiant Hearts [Xbox 360] - 8/10
Valiant Hearts [Xbox 360]

Books Read:
1) The Walking Dead: Compendium, Volume One - 10/10
The Walking Dead: Compendium, Volume One

Ranking the 50 Movies Project 2014: #50-26

Last year, I embarked on my annual 50 Movies Project using a “contemporary” theme (films from the 1980s to present day). Overall, it was another successful edition of the project, and it was great to finally tackle some films that I might not have otherwise seen. Today and tomorrow I will be ranking the selections, concluding with my favorite film of the group. Here we go, starting from the bottom:

#50 – Armageddon [1998]
Armageddon [1998]
Continue reading

Movie Project #45-50: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, The Godfather: Part III, Miller’s Crossing, Pretty Woman, Thelma & Louise, Armaggedon

50 Movies Project #4: Contemporary Edition

The 50 Movies Project is an annual tradition at The Warning Sign. Every year, I select 50 movies that I feel I must see in order to continue my progression as a film lover. This year I’m focusing on contemporary films (1980 to present day) that I somehow haven’t gotten around to seeing yet.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford [2007]
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford [2007]
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford moves at a very slow pace (and I mean *very* slow), but it’s infinitely rewarding for those with the patience to see it through. This could very well be the most beautifully shot film I have come across in this year’s project. From Roger Deakins’ stunning cinematography to Nick Cave’s equally enchanting score, this is a monumental audio/visual experience. The cast is terrific as well, led by Brad Pitt as the outlaw Jesse James, and Casey Affleck as the weaselly Robert Ford (not to mention memorable supporting roles from Sam Shepard, Paul Schneider, Jeremy Renner and Sam Rockwell, among others). This is a film that has grown on me the more I reflect upon it, and I can see why it has a loyal following to this day. 8/10
Continue reading

Movie Project #40-44: Dirty Dancing, Being John Malkovich, A Christmas Story, Dances With Wolves, and Gomorrah

50 Movies Project #4: Contemporary Edition

The 50 Movies Project is an annual tradition at The Warning Sign. Every year, I select 50 movies that I feel I must see in order to continue my progression as a film lover. This year I’m focusing on contemporary films (1980 to present day) that I somehow haven’t gotten around to seeing yet.

Dirty Dancing [1987]
Dirty Dancing [1987]
I can see how this would be a “guilty pleasure” for some. I was honestly quite surprised by how much I enjoyed this film. It’s cheesy in all the right ways (“Nobody puts Baby in a corner!”), the performances from Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey are infectious, and the dancing is oddly alluring. I do have to say it was a bit strange that raising money for an abortion was a central plot point, as that’s not something I would have expected from such a wildly popular movie like this. I wouldn’t call Dirty Dancing a great movie by any means, but it’s fun, and sometimes that’s all that is needed. 7/10
Continue reading

Movie Project #36 and #37: Run Lola Run [1998] and The Orphanage [2007]

50 Movies Project #4: Contemporary Edition

The 50 Movies Project is an annual tradition at The Warning Sign. Every year, I select 50 movies that I feel I must see in order to continue my progression as a film lover. This year I’m focusing on contemporary films (1980 to present day) that I somehow haven’t gotten around to seeing yet.

Layout 1:IJ[OneSheet-Keyart]Mech
Run Lola Run [1998, dir. Tom Tykwer]
Oh, this was good. Tom Tykwer’s stylish film is like a shot of adrenaline with its frenetic techno soundtrack and its stop-start videogame-like structure. By the end of it, I had so much energy that I wanted to run until my body gave out. Yeah, it has that kind of impact.
Continue reading

Movie Project #32 and #33: JFK [1991] and The Untouchables [1987]

50 Movies Project #4: Contemporary Edition

The 50 Movies Project is an annual tradition at The Warning Sign. Every year, I select 50 movies that I feel I must see in order to continue my progression as a film lover. This year I’m focusing on contemporary films (1980 to present day) that I somehow haven’t gotten around to seeing yet.

JFK [1991]
JFK: Director’s Cut [1991, dir. Oliver Stone]
In Oliver Stone’s JFK, damn near everyone is to blame for the assassination of our 35th President — the CIA, FBI, Mafia, LBJ, Castro, the Dallas Police Department, and Southern anti-Communist radicals. These targets are all linked together by New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner). The film follows his obsession with the case and his desperate attempts to uncover possible conspiracies.

Whether or not any of the theories presented in the film are true is irrelevant because JFK is simply a masterclass in the art of storytelling. So many different threads are successfully weaved in and out, and once you go down that rabbit hole, there’s no turning back. Our country will never truly know who all was involved in the shooting, but considering the fallacies in the “lone gunman” argument, I wouldn’t be surprised if the film held more truth than the government’s own Warren Commission.

For a film in which the director’s cut encompasses a whopping 206 minutes, time sure does fly by. Part of that is because the mystery regarding the assassination itself is so riveting, but a large part can be attributed to an absolutely stellar cast. Costner anchors the film, but just take a look at some of the other big names involved: Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Joe Pesci, Kevin Bacon, Michael Rooker, Jack Lemmon, Walter Mattheau, Donald Sutherland, Sissy Spacek, John Candy… Every single one of them delivers a memorable performance, all crucial to the plot in some fashion.

The film’s length is what put me off from watching it for so long, and that’s a damn shame. JFK still has me thinking to this day, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it near the top of my project at the end of the year. 9/10

The Untouchables [1987, dir. Brian De Palma]
The Untouchables [1987, dir. Brian De Palma]
Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables is a real crowd pleaser. And why wouldn’t it be? It’s got a sharp script courtesy of David Mamet, an Oscar-nominated score from the legendary Ennio Morricone, and it’s stacked with memorable setpieces featuring an all-star cast. Set during 1920s Chicago, the film follows the famous Prohibition agent Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) and his group of “untouchables” (including a tough Irish bastard played by Sean Connery) as they seek to take down Al Capone (Robert De Niro) and his illegal bootlegging operations.

There’s a lot to like here, and it starts with the characters. Ness is a straight-laced agent, but there’s something admirable about his dedication to the law. His righthand man, the local beat cop played by Connery, is a real highlight, providing a certain energy to balance out the dry Ness. De Niro isn’t given a whole lot to work with as Capone, unfortunately, though there is one unforgettable scene where he does his best Babe Ruth impression with a baseball bat (except not on a baseball, if you know what I mean..).

Since this is a De Palma film, it is beautifully shot, and it makes brilliant use of its Chicago setting. In arguably the film’s most famous scene, a staircase inside the Union Station is used as an homage to the famous Odessa Steps sequence in the silent classic, Battleship Potemkin. Although the climax is a bit too over the top for my liking, on the whole The Untouchables is a highly entertaining film that still holds up today. 8/10