If you want the gravy…

…You've got to get the biscuits!


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My Six-Month Film Awards: 2017

2017 Six Month Best Picture

Time flies when you’re having fun, and even if I haven’t been having as much fun as I’d hoped – I’ve only seen 19 films for this year so far, compared with 35 this time last year – it’s still hard to believe it’s already time for this year’s Six-Month Awards.

Because I’ve seen so few films, I considered not doing them, but was persuaded to otherwise; partially for consistency’s sake (thank you, Maggie!), and partially because I love doing these posts. So let’s see what we’ve got!

Picture:

  1. A Quiet Passion
  2. Kedi
  3. Wonder Woman
  4. Baby Driver
  5. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

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INTO THE WOODS Review – ***½

The poster puts Streep front and center, but this one's all about the ensemble. (Source)

The poster puts Streep front and center, but this one’s all about the ensemble. (Source)

I confess, my history with Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s fairy-tale musical has been a checkered one. I saw it…oh, probably around 10 years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed the first act while being put off by the second act. I saw it again about two years ago, and thought about the same. I understand what the show tries to do with its second act, but I find the message (which is, essentially, “happily ever after isn’t always happy”) a rather obvious one, and that the show communicates it in a rather ham-fisted manner.

So when I sat down in the movie theater on Christmas day (and a packed theater it was, too), I was a little concerned that I would have about the same experience as in the live one. But, while the film is not without flaws of its own, it manages to be thematically far more graceful than the stage show. And if none of the individual performances really stand out, they work extremely well together–there’s a reason it’s won all those ensemble awards. And at film’s end, what did I hear but the sound of applause from my fellow audience members.

That doesn’t happen often–unless you’re Inglourious Basterds.

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Perfect 10: WHIPLASH, THE BABADOOK, TOP FIVE, EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS, THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING, ST. VINCENT, KIRK CAMERON’S SAVING CHRISTMAS, BEYOND THE LIGHTS, THE HOMESMAN, and HORRIBLE BOSSES 2 Reviews

One hell of a motley crew.

One hell of a motley crew.

Dear God. I have never been this far behind. This is just like college.

Basically, I had an assload of reviews that I was way overdue on. I saw five movies this past weekend (it would’ve been six, but I decided Laggies could wait), and that when I had five other reviews waiting in the wings. It’s absurd. I don’t know how it’s gotten to this point. I’d assume being swamped with awards-season shit is a big part of it, but…

Way back in July, I posted my first article about starting to get burned out and needing to take some time off. I’ve never totally bounced back from that point. For every high point like my Interstellar review, there’ve been many times when I find myself not wanting to write or not really having enough to say. And the truth is, I could scrap the whole thing and the only fallout would be disappointment. But I don’t want to do that.

I’m going to have to work on a few things going forward. A greater sense of self-discipline (which has never been my strong suit), and, I think, a judicious application of the “work smarter, not harder” principle. Saving the long essays for the films that merit them. And when a film doesn’t inspire lengthy commentary, keep it concise. But keep it truthful. I feel I owe you that much for your time.

(UPDATE 12/25: All reviews marked with an asterisk are complete. Other reviews will be added one by one.)

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Catching Up Reviews: FURY (***½), JOHN WICK (***½), STRETCH (***) and MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN (**½)

So let's begin with Keanu and a puppy. ()

So let’s begin with Keanu and a puppy. (Source)

All right, let’s just get down to business (to defeat the Hun). Here are four films that I’ve seen in the past month and never got around to writing up. Two are good, one is fair, and one is a pretty massive disappointment–and I’m not the only one who felt that way.

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TRAILER SALAD VI: INSIDE OUT, AMERICAN SNIPER, THE MULE, BLACK SEA, THE WATER DIVINER, HORRIBLE BOSSES 2, SUMMER OF BLOOD

While I’m still figuring out just how to review the Nick Cave documentary 20,000 Days on Earth, how about some trailers?

First off, we’ve got the new Pixar, which looks pretty delightful. It’s got a hell of a voice cast–Amy Poehler, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader, and Phyllis Smith are the emotions–and a rich premise, so I expect this to be a bounce back from Monsters University (I will defend Brave, however). I am a little curious as to why 4 of the 5 emotions are negatives, or why Disgust is a separate emotion (though, Kaling is voicing Disgust, so objection I will waive), but I trust all will be satisfactorily explained.

Clint Eastwood’s Chris Kyle biopic, at the very least, looks much better than Jersey Boys or J. Edgar. I’m not sure if it’ll be a factor in the awards game this year or not–some are predicting it, though–but at the very least I could see Bradley Cooper getting a third nomination off of this. (According to Wikipedia, the film will not cover the alleged feud with and subsequent lawsuit from Jesse Ventura. I’m not sure how I feel about that.)

Click “Continue Reading” for the most awesomely gross trailer since Wetlands.

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TRAILER SALAD IV: A MOST VIOLENT YEAR, BIG EYES, THE BETTER ANGELS, JOHN WICK, THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA, NORTHERN SOUL, STRETCH (NSFW clip), THE INTERVIEW (NSFW), and FORCE MAJEURE

J.C. Chandor’s drama set in crime-ridden 1981 New York looks to be a solid period piece and a worthy progression from Margin Call and All is Lost. It’s getting early Oscar buzz for Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain, and I could imagine Chandor will get a second Screenplay nomination (he was nominated for Margin Call). I think it looks good, though I won’t say I’m totally dazzled yet.

There’s a lot of potential here. Tim Burton potentially returning to form (by reuniting with the writers of Ed Wood), and moving away from grotesque fantasy–while focusing on a different kind of grotesquerie. Amy Adams will be gunning for an Oscar with this, Christoph Waltz looks wonderfully slimy, and I’m really digging the score. So hopefully this pans out. I definitely liked the trailer more on the second viewing, which bodes well.

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