OSCAR COUNTDOWN

Only 3 months and 16 days until the next Oscars are awarded on March 4, 2018.

RECENT POSTS

MISCELLANEOUS

Thor: Ragnarok

Yes, I am sick of superhero movies, said it a hundred times. And yet, like Michael Corleone in Godfather 3, they keep sucking me back in.

So here’s the thing about Thor: Ragnarok. You know what it is. No need for me to waste time or energy trying to explain the plot or help you decide whether it’s for you or not. Instead, I will just mention the things that really stood out for me. Because, despite all the superhero fatigue I may be feeling, Thor: Ragnarok was still a total blast.

First and foremost, and probably the number one reason you should spend some money to go see this in the theatre: the effects. I mean…wow. We happened to go to the 3D showing because it was the most convenient show time for us (I normally do not prefer 3D) and I can tell you—my mouth sat agape for the first 10 minutes of this movie. I literally felt like I was inside a video game. Not because of the dizzying action or anything, but because it felt so immersive, so crisp and so eye-popping. The entire movie was just as exhilarating on the eyes, and I actually found myself grinning like an idiot, thinking “this is why big screens will never go away.”
click here to keep reading Thor: Ragnarok »

Blade Runner: 2049

Hollywood has not had a good week. The sexual abuse scandal of Harvey Weinstein has rocked the movie industry, rightfully so. The worst-kept secret in this town was that Weinstein, arguably the most powerful producer/mogul/executive in the business, had been a serial slime for decades, using his position, power and influence to abuse, molest and intimidate young, aspiring actresses. Women are finally speaking out en masse about it and, even though Weinstein seems to be finished, the taint of the scandal is only now beginning to spread throughout an industry that has been, at worst, supportive of Weinstein’s behavior and, at best, culpable for silently fostering it.

The irony of all of this is that 2017 has been one of the best years so far, artistically-speaking, for the embattled movie industry. There have already been 30 major releases in 2017 that have scored an 80% or higher rating on rottentomatoes.com, largely considered the most reliable indicator of a movie’s quality. The movies that have engendered great reviews have included both low-budget indies like The Big Sick (98%), The Florida Project (96%) and Baby Driver (93%) as well as some of the year’s biggest blockbusters, such as War for the Planet of the Apes (93%), It (85%), Wonder Woman (92%) and Spider Man: Homecoming (92%). Not a bad year so far for quality movies….and it’s not even Oscar season yet.

So what does this say? As someone who loves movies but doesn’t love the industry that makes them, it’s sometimes uncomfortable to continue to support it, but damn if the machine doesn’t still produce a quality product.
click here to keep reading Blade Runner: 2049 »

The Big Sick

Before I left on my 2 ½ week European vacation (I know, right?!) in July, there were two movies in the theatres that I really wanted to see: Baby Driver and The Big Sick. I managed to make it to Baby Driver, but, because The Big Sick was only open in limited release, I didn’t get to it.

Then, when I got to Prague, of all places, the universe sent me a sign. Literally.

That was all I needed to both feel guilty (for not having made the effort to see it before I left) and excited (this little indie movie was getting traction all the way in the Czech Republic?), so I knew I would make it a priority to see when I got back.

But, of course, The Big Sick is an indie movie. An indie movie that opened in the summer. An indie movie that opened in the summer with no stars, no special effects and no superheroes. And a really bad title. All of this added up to give it about a 2-minute window of opportunity in the big movie houses. So, yes, I missed it. Again. Even the movie that IndieWire called “the indie success of 2017” couldn’t survive against Spidey, apes and minions. I mean, really, what could?

click here to keep reading The Big Sick »

Logan Lucky

There’s no way it could be this simple. Fifteen minutes into watching director Steven Soderbergh’s latest film (his first in four years), Logan Lucky, I felt this wave of joy come over me that was so unexpected. My most favorite Soderbergh film, Ocean’s Eleven (2001), was about eleven guys who come together to plan and execute an elaborate robbery of a Vegas casino vault, in arguably the best heist movie of all time. And now, here I was, 16 years later, watching a movie set in rural West Virginia about a couple of brothers who get their friends together to….rob the vault of the Charlotte Motor Speedway? This was finally the Ocean’s Eleven sequel I’d been waiting for!! (I understand there were two actual Ocean’s Eleven sequels, but did you see them? They totally don’t count.)
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Atomic Blonde

There are so many things I loved about Atomic Blonde:

1. It’s a female-driven action movie that’s not based on a comic-book.

2. Charlize Theron plays the female equivalent of James Bond.

3. It’s set in late 80’s Berlin

4. The soundtrack is wall-to-wall ‘80s alternative classics

5. The only sex scene is a same-sex one

It’s as if they said to themselves, “let’s make a movie for Catherine.”

So, all that being true, how on earth could I not love it? Well, I did love it…sort of. Once I realized that Atomic Blonde was not meant to be taken too seriously, or even literally, I just sat back and took the ride. And I have to say it was quite a thrilling roller-coaster, even with its flaws.
click here to keep reading Atomic Blonde »

Dunkirk

I’ve already heard many words used to describe writer/director Christopher Nolan’s new movie, Dunkirk. The loudest one I’ve heard from movie critics and commenters has been “masterpiece.” Critics are roundly praising Dunkirk as a visionary piece of cinematic excellence that will wow you and stay with you long after you leave the theatre.

As for me, I am chagrined to say I can only agree with some of that.

Nolan is a visionary filmmaker, there is no arguing with that. The Prestige, The Dark Knight, Inception, Interstellar—each of these films is powerful, elegantly brutal, haunting and beautiful. And Dunkirk is no exception. But what’s interesting to me is to note the element that always made a Nolan film unique is the one thing that is missing from Dunkirk: complexity.
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The 25 Best Films of the Decade...So Far

photo When New York Times film critics Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott recently published their list of The 25 Best Films of the 21st Century So Far, it not only served as fodder for many a debate among movie lovers of all ages, but it inspired other critics to follow suit and put together their own lists. Who am I to break ranks.

Here are the movies that I think have been the best since 2000. Caveat: to qualify for my list, a movie must have been released in the United States between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2016 and be a movie that I have or plan to watch again. Let the debates begin!

1. The Social Network
2. Brokeback Mountain
3. Mad Max: Fury Road
4. The Departed
5. Inglourious Basterds
6. Ocean’s Eleven
7. 3:10 to Yuma
8. WALL-E
9. Bridesmaids
10. Kill Bill: Volume 2
11. Gladiator
12. Carol
13. The Grand Budapest Hotel
14. Almost Famous
15. Kill Bill: Volume 1
16. 40-Year Old Virgin
17. No Country For Old Men
18. Best in Show
19. La La Land
20. The Tree of Life
21. Mean Girls
22. Birdman
23. Lost in Translation
24. The Dark Knight
25. Gravity

A couple of other lists to round it out:

FILMS I RESPECT BUT WILL NEVER WATCH AGAIN:

Gangs of New York
A Beautiful Mind
The Hours
Mystic River
Million Dollar Baby
United 93
Babel
The Cove
Traffic
There Will Be Blood
Slumdog Millionaire
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Precious
Lincoln
Life of Pi
12 Years a Slave
Room
Moonlight

BOTTOM 14: MOVIES I HATED, aka THE WORST MOVIES OF THE DECADE SO FAR

1. Requiem For a Dream
2. I Heart Huckabees
3. American Sniper
4. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
5. By the Sea
6. The Counselor
7. Adaptation
8. Atonement
9. Vanilla Sky
10. Avatar
11. Open Water
12. Australia
13. AI: Artificial Intelligence
14. Pearl Harbor

Wonder Woman

photo I will admit I prefer the old-school approach when it comes to superheroes. I grew up with the Christopher Reeve Superman movies and, of course, Adam West (RIP) as Batman and Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman on TV. These movies and shows were not enough to totally suck me into the comic book culture, but they were enjoyable and memorable parts of my childhood. They were, on the whole, light and easygoing, low on special effects and high on personality and charm, and, more important than anything, they had an almost innocent quality about them; a quality that today might be called sentimental or cheesy. But all of this was part of their charm and arguably part of the reason the comic book culture is still thriving today.

I have to also admit, though, that I have also been able to embrace—and actually love—the more “modern” interpretations of the superhero movies as well. The dark and cynical The Dark Knight and The Watchmen stand the test of time for me, as do the snarky and fun Guardians of the Galaxy and Deadpool.
click here to keep reading Wonder Woman »

Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 & Alien: Covenant

photo photo In case anyone was wondering, I did see Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2 and Alien: Covenant. So why didn’t I write about them? Well, maybe it was out of respect for their elders (they are both sequels) or maybe it was just a lack of inspiration. While Guardians of the Galaxy, v 2 was fun and a nice reminder of how much I loved the first one, Alien: Covenant was so depressingly disappointing that the last thing I wanted to do was write about exactly how depressed I was.
click here to keep reading Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 & Alien: Covenant »

The Zookeeper's Wife

photo Just when you thought there were no more horrible stories to tell about the Nazi atrocities during World War II, we get The Zookeeper’s Wife, a movie based on the best-selling book by Diane Ackerman, which tells a familiar (but still harrowing) story of civilians who tried to help Jews escape the Nazis, and also reveals yet another subset of victims of the Third Reich: animals.

I’m a huge animal lover, so I was resistant to see The Zookeeper’s Wife. The movie tells the true story of Antonina and Jan Zabinski, a Warsaw couple who run the city’s zoo. When the Nazis invade Poland in September, 1939, the zoo is bombed and the animals are, well, obviously, “displaced,” one way or another. I was prepared for this, I tried my best to steel myself, but, even with my eyes closed for about 6 minutes, it was still quite traumatic.
click here to keep reading The Zookeeper’s Wife »

MY CURRENT SMART PICKS

Top 5 List:

My Five Favorite Female Action Characters:

1. The Bride, Kill Bill, Vol.1 & 2
2. Ellen Ripley, Alien
3. Furiosa, Mad Max: Fury Road
4. Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games
5. Hanna Heller, Hanna

Rental Pick:

Run Lola run (1998)

Favorite Trailer of the Moment:

Awesome Movie Montages and Lists: