Sunday, July 24, 2016

Twitter Thoughts—July week 1

Featuring the films:
All the Right Moves (1983) ***
Andrei Rublev (1966) ****
Ghostbusters (1984) ****
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974) ***½
The Shallows (2016) **½
Heaven’s Gate (1980) ***½
Ricki and the Flash (2015) **½
The Bourne Identity (2002) ***
The Bourne Supremacy (2004) ***½
Mannequin: On the Move (1991) ½*

I had a pretty good ten-day run of movies to start off July. I needed a football fix when I realized the Giants would face the Cowboys in a mere ten weeks, so I threw in a Tom Cruise high school classic, “All theRight Moves”. It’s actually pretty amazing that they gave Craig T. Nelson a sitcom where he plays a football coach after the ass he plays in this movie. I mean, yeah, he makes a pretty good football coach, but this ain’t the coach of his television show.

“Andrei Rublev” is one of the more unique biopics I’ve ever seen. At times it veers of into seemingly surreal settings and fantasy, yet it never loses track of its subject. It’s filled with those unique images that Werner Herzog says are lacking in modern cinema. Although it isn’t modern, it isn’t as old as it looks and feels in its execution. It’s a strange but wonderful treatment for an important Russian historical figure.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Twitter Thoughts—June 2016

Featuring the films and shows:
The Flash, season 2 (2015-2016) ***½
Independence Day (1996) *½
All These Women (1964) ***
Party Over Here, season 1 (2016) *½
The Alphabet (1968) ***½
Always For Pleasure (1978) ****
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016) ***
Arrow, season 4 (2015-2016) ***½
Grimm, season 5 (2015-2016) ***
The Do Over (2016) **
The Dark Knight Rises (2012) ***
Our Brand Is Crisis (2015) **½
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, season 1 (2015-2016) **½
Angie Tribeca, season 1 (2016) ****
New Girl, season 5 (2015-2016) ***
Piper (2016) ****
Finding Dory (2016) ***
Central Intelligence (2016) **½
The Boy Next Door (2015) *
Sleepy Hollow, season 3 (2015-2016) ***
Amarcord (1973) ****
The American Soldier (1970) ***
The Amputee, version 1 (1974) ***
Simply Irresistible (1999) ½*
Independence Day: Resurgence (2016) **
The Amputee, version 2 (1974) ***
Downton Abbey, season 5 (2015) ****
… And God Created Woman (1956) ***

Hopefully this will be my final full month summary of the year and for all time. Again, a great many movies and television finales to cover, so let’s get to it.

On the television front. I was running behind a bit on several series, so I finished up several series during the month of June. Most of them were comic book shows. “The Flash” continues to be the most fun comic book show on television, although “Supergirl” gave it a run this year. It was fitting that the second half of the season featured a crossover episode on Supergirl. Plus, it was like a bonus “Flash” episode. Didn’t the producers of “Arrow” say that this season wouldn’t be as dark as last seaon? I guess what they meant is that it would be darker. Heck, the team narrowly avoided nuclear Armageddon for its finale. That was after the crippling of Felicity, the failure of the Olicity relationship and the death of a main character. While Arrow teammates do have a tendency to come back from the dead, I think this one’s for real this time. I also finished the surpernatural fantasy shows “Grimm” and “Sleepy Hollow” this month. Both sustained their MOs, although “Sleepy Hollow” felt a little rockier, probably due to its new show runners. It’s renewal was a surprise, but I’ll stay on for another season. FOX’s stalwart sitcom New Girl also held steady for its 5th season.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Twitter Thoughts—May 2016

Featuring the films and shows:
Special Correspondents (2016) **
Patton Oswalt: Talking for Clapping (2016) ***
A Trip To the Moon (1902) ****
Alice in the Cities (1974) ***½
Captain America: Civil War (2016) ***
Hell Comes To Frogtown (1988) no stars
Ali Wong: Baby Cobra (2016) ***
Mommie Dearest (1981) **
The 33 (2016) ***
Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island (1956) ****
The Apartment (1960) ****
Mr. Turner (2014) ***½
The Keeping Room (2015) ***
Jurassic World (2015) ***
On the Town (1949) ***
Main Street Today (1944) ***
Elementary, season 4 (24 43-min. eps. 2015-2016) ***
The Last Man On Earth, season 2 (18 23-min. eps. 2015-2016) ****
Castle (8 seasons, 173 eps. 2009-2016) ***
A Room With a View (1985) ****
Saturday Night Live, season 41 (21 105-min. eps. 2015-2016) ***
Supergirl, season 1 (20 43-min. eps. 2015-2016) ****
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974) ****
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season 4 (22 45-min. eps. 2015-2016) ****
Blindspot, season 1 (23 42-min. eps. 2015-2016) ***
Gotham, season 2 (22 42-min. eps. 2015-2016) ***½
The Avengers (1998) ½*
The Asphalt Jungle (1940) ***½
X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) ***
All My Good Contrymen (1969) ****
All the Boys Are Named Patrick (1959) ***½
The Muppets (1 season, 17 eps. 2015-2016) **    

I’m so far behind that I’m forced to include the entire month of May in one post. I’ll have to do the same for June. With the end of the television season occurring in May, there are a great many individual shows and films I would like comment on in addition to my tweets, so let’s get to it.

OK. I checked out Ricky Gervais’s Netflix movie “Special Correspondents” and I have to say for all the freedom Netflix gives to their filmmakers, they seem to have a problem with their original film division. While that approach seems to work very well for their longer format series, it seems to result in feature films with a lack of energy. They need to be tightened up. Gervais is quite funny and he has a good premise here, but its approached with no urgency and suffers from it. We’ll return to this next month with Adam Sandler’s latest, “The Do Over”.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Twitter Thoughts—April 2016 Week 4

Featuring the films:
Purple Rain (1984) **½
Alambrista! (1977) ****
Keanu (2016) ***
Dead Poet’s Society (1989) ***
Ant-Man (2015) ***
Solarbabies (1986) *

We’re just going to have to whip through most of this stuff so I can catch up to where I’m at today with movies and TV. This was the week after Prince died, so I kicked it off with “Purple Rain”, which I had never seen. Probably because I doubted it was very good. Despite the fact that we lost a great artist, I’m pretty sure I’m right in thinking that cinema wasn’t his best medium. This screening confirmed that belief. I then watched the wonderful 70’s film about Mexican illegals, “Alambastra!”, which should probably be seen by everyone who believes that immigrants are just living off of our sweat. I also saw Key & Peele’s first feature film “Keanu”, about their search for their lost gangsta cat. The movie capitalizes off their ability to convolute black stereotypes, but could use a little deeper foundation work. It was enjoyable enough though. I revisited “Dead Poet’s Society” and “Ant-Man” for the first time since my initial viewings. That was a much longer period of time for Poet’s. I still found the same problems I had 25 years ago with that one, but I liked “Ant-Man” even more the second time. Finally, the mind-boggling “Solarbabies” was my HDTGM movie for the week, truly begging the question, “How Did This Get Made?”

Monday, May 16, 2016

Twitter Thoughts—April 2016 Week 3

Featuring the films and show:
The Jungle Book (2016) ***½
Brooklyn Nine-Nine, season 3 (23 23-min. eps. 2015-2016) ****
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) ***½
Can’t Stop the Music (1980) no stars

Ah man! I have fallen behind again. This site has gone into the crapper, but I’m doing it, man.  I’m blaming the two year old. If I have any readers left, you’re just going to have to hang with me until he’s… I don’t know… 12? Anyway, These were the non-Ebertfest movies I watched and a TV season I finished during the two weeks I was watching the Ebertfest films.

I thought the latest live action adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” was quite impressive. I really wasn’t sure what to think going into it. I didn’t think it looked good from the trailers, but the early buzz was that it was great. I loved the Disney animated version and just didn’t know what to think about seemingly live action animals talking. It’s the lowest form of family filmmaking.

I was struck while watching these animals talk to each other as if it’s actually something that happens in nature that CGI has come so far that it’s wrong to look at a movie like this as a live action movie. This is an animated movie, almost entirely. It uses actual live action elements with the frequency and artistry of the cartoon elements of the original “Pete’s Dragon”, another live action animated update coming from Disney this fall. But it’s the live element that is really foreign here and needs to be assimilated to the CGI we’re seeing, which has become just as dramatically artistic as hand drawn animated movies once were. The CGI here is remarkable.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Twitter Thoughts—Ebertfest 2016

Featuring the films:
The Third Man (1949) ****
Crimson Peak (2015) ***
Grandma (2015) ****
Eve’s Bayou (1997) ***½
L’inhumaine  (1924) ***½
Northfork (2003) ***½
Body and Soul (1925) ***½
Love & Mercy (2015) ****
Blow Up (1980) ***½

I watched as many of the movies featured during the Roger Ebert Film Festival, as I do every year. One day I’ll make it back, but until then I’ll have to make do with streaming and rental services. I was not able to see the movies presented at this year’s festival that are still scheduled to be released this year. Those include the unofficial festival opener, “Everybody Wants Some!!”, but I have no doubt I will catch up with that one and the others I missed as soon as they become available to me.

I opened my Ebertfest with Carol Reed’s post-WWII thriller “The Third Man”. Part of my own collection of films, I’m surprised it took Ebertfest 18 years to get to this one. It’s a film that has been analyzed ad nauseam, so I won’t attempt one here. Instead I’d like to discuss its unusual score comprised entirely of zither music composed and performed by Anton Karas. It’s an unusual sound for a thriller. At first it seems almost out of place, like it belongs in a much more lighthearted plot. As the movie goes along, however, the music informs its unique feel. “The Third Man” is no ordinary thriller as it depends more on the absence of its threat than the presence of one. The zither music eventually becomes an identifying factor of the film’s unique feel and impact. While it seems alien and strange at first, by the final fade out, it’s hard to imagine any other type of music accompanying this story and these images.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Twitter Thoughts—April 2016 Week 1

Featuring the films:
The Look of Silence (2015) ****
Pride (2014) **½
Foxcatcher (2014) ****
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1931) ****
Shake! Otis at Monterey (1986) ****

Wow! This was a very interesting week of movies for me. Only five this time as I continue to fall further behind on the DLM Challenge, but what a great collection of films they were.

First was this year’s Oscar nominated documentary “The Look of Silence”, a companion piece to Joshua Oppenheimer’s other Oscar nominated doc “The Act of Killing”, about the men behind the Indonesian death squads responsible for the genocide of their own people. The new doc looks at a family of one of their victims. A man who lost a brother is given the opportunity to confront his brother’s killers. There is no Hollywood revenge plot here, but what does unfold is a fascinating look at human nature and the way people react to genuine evil.