Monday, July 23, 2012

In Nolan We Trust

This past January, I put together a list of the 12 films I was anticipating most this year.  I haven't seen all the films on the list that have been released, which reading some reviews was probably for the best.  But last night I saw my most highly anticipated movie of the year, the Dark Knight Rises.
     My original reservations centered around Christopher Nolan's casting of Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle (Catwoman).  These reservations are as unfounded here as they were when he cast Heath Ledger as the Joker.  She portrayed, in my opinion, the best rendition of Catwoman that I have seen.  Although considering this was one of the competitors it wasn't a terribly difficult task.
     This film had me from the opening scene, where the villain Bane shows himself as a masterful tactician.  Well to be honest, this film had me from Batman Begins and it would've taken an epic failure on the order of Spiderman 3 to crush it (seriously Topher Grace is Venom and Toby Maguire was emo, what the eff were you thinking Raimi?).  It does a tremendous job of tying Nolan's Batman trilogy together and almost caused me to call into work today so I could stay home and watch the other two films.   A trilogy is supposed to have an overarching story over the series, and this was achieved perfectly.  The Dark Knight Rises is not as good as the Dark Knight, but I think that has more to do with the Joker just being a stronger character then Bane.  Though Bane was phenomenally played by Tom Hardy and was certainly a bad ass, the Joker is Batman's arch-nemesis.  One can only imagine how the film would've been different if not for the untimely death of Heath Ledger.  The trilogy did peek with the Dark Knight, but the Dark Knight Rises is a tremendous conclusion to Nolan's dark Batman universe.
     My only real complaint is simply that Christopher Nolan's time with Batman is over and although there is always the possibility (more like high probability since the film pulled in 160 mil in it's first weekend) that another director will pick up the cowl, I find it hard to believe that they will do as exquisite a job.  Hopefully it won't be turned over to Joel Schumacher and his nippled batsuit again.
     Now all I can do is wait until the Dark Knight Rises is released onto blu-ray so I can watch the three films back to back, as they were intended...wonder if I can pre-order it yet.

Oh sweet Jesus, yes.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Good memories...

    Growing up as a kid I was fortunate enough to live near a drive-in movie theater. My family would go at least a couple times a year. I have fond memories of sitting in a lawn chair with my brother and sister, eating popcorn from home, watching Ghostbusters 2. The drive-in was what made my summer. We as a family didn't go to the movies much so the chance to go see two movies was a special treat.
    Well the wife and I ventured out last Tuesday night to go see a double feature of Brave and the Amazing Spiderman.  We don't live too far from the same drive-in that I went to as a child, and going there even as an adult is a trip back to more innocent times. Times when the most I had to worry about was getting past  world 6-2 in Super Mario Bros. or waking up early enough on Saturday mornings to catch the latest episode of X-men. The drive-in may have updated a little (the speakers that clip on the windows have long since disappeared and the snack bar now has a very good ice cream shop), but there's still a comfortable feeling about the place. The summer doesn't feel like it's started until a visit to my drive-in.
    Do yourself a favor and start your summer off the way it should be. Go see a double feature at your local drive-in. Oh and Brave and Amazing Spiderman are both very good movies. Brave is a solid Pixar movie but not in their top echelon with the likes of the Incredibles or Ratatouille. The Amazing Spiderman, thankfully, helped make me forget about the atrocious Spiderman 3. As a comic book fan, there were some liberties taken with the origin story, but it didn't seem to sour the movie at all. Maybe it was just the overall good mood I was in being at my ol' drive-in.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder?

     So yeah, I haven't posted for a long time, but I've got an excuse I swear!  And the excuse is......wait for it.....I've been busy.  Yeah I know, lame excuse but it's all I've got.  I just haven't had the time to watch any movies as of late.  Due to my raging credit card debt (darn all you expensive shiny things), I've had to work overtime at work to try and catch up.  The Mrs. and I are going to need a new car this fall and we're trying to get our finances in order and her business is in her busy season.  She's a tremendous baker (Andi's Apple Cakes) that is selling at local farmer's markets and is attempting to get her own bakery as well.  Anyone out there that's had a spouse with a small business knows that you are inevitably drafted into service.  Basically, my nights are often filled with baking and packaging to help her prepare for her next market.
    Needless to say, although I have an excuse, it's not a very good one.  Everyone is busy.  Most of the people out there are struggling in this economy, some of them certainly more then me.  But I am going to make a concerted effort to post more regularly and attempt to actually make some progress with the List.  So I'll probably post again in another few months......if I have time. :-)

    By the way if you haven't seen the Avengers yet, stop reading (especially since your at the end of my post), turn off your computer, get in your car and drive to your nearest theater.  It may very well be the greatest comic book film of all time............until the Dark Knight Rises is released.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Too IP to be Square

Ip Man (2008)
Yip Man (original title)

currently #232 on the new list
From IMDb

A semi-biographical account of Yip Man, the first martial arts master to teach the Chinese martial art of Wing Chun.

Ip Man is a Chinese film starring Donnie Yen and directed by Wilson Yip.  I watched the film in it's native Chinese with English subtitles.

Ever since I was a child watching the Karate Kid, I have had a love for martial arts films.  In fact one of the first DVDs I ever purchased was Legend of the Drunken Master.  So when deciding what film to start my mini-marathon with, I wanted to choose something that I knew had a high probability of at least entertaining me for the couple hours it played.  Ip Man delivered.

The first act of the film feels as if it could have starred Jackie Chan, filled with moments such as Ip Man fighting another master with a bamboo feather duster.  It is light-hearted and was very remniscent of films like the Legend of the Drunken Master.  But as the film moves into the second act it takes on a darker tone.  This is marked with the Japanese invasion and occupation of China in the 1930's.  Ip Man falls from his prestigious position in society to a level where he must scratch together a living for him and his family doing whatever jobs are available.

Ip Man connected on all levels with me.  The fight choreography was fantastic and was grounded in reality (as much as martial arts movies ever are) unlike films such as Croaching Tiger Hidden Dragon.  The story was powerful and heartfelt which is all the more impressive since I discovered at the conclusion of the film that it is based on a true story.  How historically accurate it is, I am unsure but it still adds something to the film.  The performances were exceptional especially compared to other films in the genre.  Donnie Yen and notably Lynn Hung, who plays Ip Man's wife, were quite well done.

If you you are a fan of the martial arts genre of films, or are just a fan of action movies in general, stop what you are doing now and go watch this film.  You'll thank me later.

Friday, February 10, 2012

We now pause for a message from our sponsors...

I had every intention of spending the entire day today sitting in front of my tv soaking in as much great films as humanly possible, only pausing for food and bathroom breaks (for me and the dogs). But my job threw a wrench into my plans and so I sit here at work. Fortunately its only for a couple hours for CPR training, but definitely not where I want to be. Of course, it would've been an even shorter amount of time had I not arrived a half hour early. Oh well, they ensure that a roof remains over my head so I guess I can't complain too much. So we'll just leave it as to be continued...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Posts to come...

Well it's been a little while since I last posted, and even longer since I last watched a movie from the List. That is about to change. My better half has left the dogs and I for the weekend to visit a friend in Boston, which means I have complete control over the TV in the living room. So I'm going to take this unique opportunity to catch up on as many films off the list as possible.

Let the lightning round begin with...IP Man. (Yeah I know, it's not technically on MY list but it's on the updated list on imdb and since this is my blog, I make the rules. If you don't like it you can leave....please don't leave. I didn't mean it baby, I'm sorry.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Yakko, Wacko and their sister BS

I wish the movie company was more like their namesake toons. It was recently announced that Warner Bros. (sans sister Dot) have strong armed Netflix into increasing the time it must wait before it has access to new releases. The new waiting period is 56 days, up from the previous 28 days. Warner Bros. reasoning behind this change is that “Since we implemented a 28-day window for subscription and kiosk, we have seen very positive results with regard to our sell-through business”. Now I am not someone who buys a great deal of DVDs or Blurays but I will when I feel that I will watch the film repeatedly and I will now certainly rethink purchasing any from Warner Bros. The wife and I are avid Netflix users, mainly to catch up on cable tv shows. We ditched cable last year due to the cost increasing every few months and haven't looked back since. This waiting period screams of the movie companies once again failing to grow with the times. It harkens back to the 1980's when movie companies claimed that VHS would prove the death knell of their entire industry. Instead of embracing new technologies to provide additional ways to bring their media to the consumer, they try to crush it as quickly as possible. Eventually the movie companies fold to the new technologies by providing substandard solutions that allow them to keep an iron grip on the properties. In the case of Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand, and other sites of the same ilk, the movie industry wants you to embrace UltraViolet. A service chock full of digital rights management, where they store the films that you buy and allow you to stream them free of charge....for a year. After that additional fees may incur. That's awfully nice of them to allow the consumer the right to watch the movie that they purchased at least for a year.

The film industry would love nothing more then to have the consumer give up on physical media all together. Netflix is attempting to do this but are making far too much money in the eyes of the movie studios. The studios are blaming the rise of Netflix, Redbox, et al, on their decrease in overall revenues and loses in the DVD/Bluray markets. Perhaps they should take a step back and insert some logic into the equation. Last year Warner Bros. studios released films such as Valentine's Day, Jonah Hex, Sex and the City 2 and Green Lantern. I'm confident that these are the four horsemen of the filmocalypse. They shall be the harbingers of our movie watching doom, only to spawn more sequels and destroy our good taste in films. Though their exists a few bright spots to combat the darkness, i.e. Inception, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 1 and 2, and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, the crap thoroughly outnumbers the good. And with Joyful Noise and Magic Mike (seriously look at the plot), I feel our movie time on this world is running short.

When they are not blaming Netflix, they blame piracy. Just do a google search for MPAA and lawsuits and you'll find numerous stories of the movie industry suing the pants off of 60 year old women, who have no idea what a torrent is, because their son didn't secure their home's wireless network. However, the more they crush legal services (and sources of revenue for them), like Netflix the more people are going to turn to shadier places to acquire their films. Consumers aren't using Blockbuster, and Redbox because they're fine upstanding citizens that want to reward the movie studios with their hard earned money. They're using these services because they are easy and relatively affordable. Certainly more affordable then taking the family to the theaters. The harder the industry makes it to use media that the consumer wants to pay for, the easier it will be for them to find it in other less then legal forums. Of course with Congress deliberating on SOPA, maybe an increase in movie piracy is exactly what the studios are looking for...

Basically to make a long story short (I know, too late), the movie studios are the crotchety old men from Trading Places (great movie, I wonder if it's on Netflix)...
Yakko(left) and Wacko(right) after the studios got to them

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Top 12 (with any luck) of 2012

A belated happy new year to everyone and with the new year comes a plethora of new films that all promise to be this year's Godfather.  Most will not live up to their hype (Green Lantern, I'm looking at you), but some may turn out to be outstanding films.  So I borrowed an idea from a great movie podcast I watch called Film State, and compiled a list of my 12 most anticipated movies of 2012. 

Listed in order of most anticipated to least, cause lets be honest you would've skipped to the end anyways...

  1. The Dark Knight Rises – Fairly obvious, I know. Christopher Nolan completes his Batman trilogy that proved that films based on comic book licenses can not only be good films, but Academy Award winning films. Now here's hoping that Anne Hathway is more Michelle Pfeiffer then Halle Berry.
  1. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – Kind of an unknown property, I read the book recently and absolutely love the concept. Abraham Lincoln's mother is killed by a vampire when he was only 10 and the event changes the course of his life and the entire country. It's directed by Timur Bekmambetov who also the directed the surprisingly entertaining Wanted as well as Daywatch and Nightwatch and stars Benjamin Walker, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Dominic Cooper and Alan Tudyk

  2. The Avengers – What is better then Captain America: the First Avenger, Thor, Iron Man and the incredible Hulk? Throwing them all in the same freakin movie thats what! My only concern is Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk (I would have greatly preferred Edward Norton) but this has the inner comic book nerd in me squee like a teenage girl meeting Taylor Lautner. Oh yeah, it's also directed by Joss Whedon, who like Christopher Nolan, can do no wrong.

  3. The Great Gatsby – I read the Great Gatsby in high school and have loved it ever since. It was second to only To Kill a Mockingbird as one of my favorite books of all time. So I was excited to hear that they were making a film adaptation. It is directed by Baz Luhrmann which causes some level of concern, but it stars Leonardo DiCaprio who doesn't really pick bad movies. Let's just hope it can follow in To Kill A Mockingbird's footsteps.

  4. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – So Peter Jackson is taking everyone back to the Shire? Okay, sign me up. I don't even care what the story is.  But this time around could we decide on an ending?

  5. Amazing Spider-Man – This is possibly the scariest pick on my list. Spider-Man 3 was soooo bad, but I'm not sure the appropriate response is to reboot a franchise that is only 10 years old. Maybe there should've just been some quality control when Sam Raimi started breaking out his old BeeGee's vinyls. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are starring and both are talented actors so there is some potential and I love the Lizard as the villian. Memo to the director Mark Webb....don't eff this up.

  6. Skyfall – The film that I feared would never be made. Skyfall is the latest in the long running James Bond series. I grew up watching these films with my father and so always look forward to a new Bond film, with the exception of the later Pierce Brosnan ones (God, Halle Berry was just awful). Daniel Craig is a fantastic Bond, second only to Sean Connery in the role.

  7. World War Z – A film about what happens after the zombie apocalypse? Yes, please. This is based off the book by Max Brooks and is set to star Brad Pitt (see previous Leonardo DiCaprio comment), Mireille Enos and David Morse. I'm always up for a good zombie movie. Ten bucks says David Morse plays someone in the military.

  8. Expendables II – Take all the great 80's action stars that were in the previous film and add Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme? I will be the first in line at the theaters for this monument to all things awesome. If it's anything like it's predecessor it won't be winning any Academy Awards for writing, but will be chock full of explosions and violence aka everything that makes an action movie fan-freakin-tastic. Can I pre-order my ticket now?

  9. Bourne Legacy – I have enjoyed the previous installments of the Bourne franchise and although Matt Damon isn't among the cast (he's been replaced by Jeremy Renner), I am fairly certain I will enjoy this latest entry. The director of the three previous films, Tony Gilroy, returns and is joined by Edward Norton, Rachel Weisz and Albert Finney. Edward Norton, unfortunately, will not be reprising his role as the Hulk or this movie would be higher up the list.

  10. 47 Ronin – Thanks in large part to the List, I have discovered a love for films by Akira Kurosawa. Apparently Keanu Reeves is also a fan since he has helped to get this period samurai film made. It is based on a true 18th Century Japanese story that follows a band of samurai that must avenge the death of their master. It's being directed by Carl Rinsch, who I am unfamiliar with, but is a protege of Ridley Scott. Hopefully Keanu leaves Neo behind in this film.

  11. Act of Valor – Imagine the awesomeness of the Expendables, but replace the aging action heroes with active Navy Seals. My only concern is how well they can act. The Expendables is intentionally cheesy which adds to it's awesomeness. There is a fine line that could be crossed to make this a train wreck, but I will be optimistic. I would've placed this higher on the list but I was concerned that it would, in fact, make this entire post too manly and would lead to an explosion that would take down all of the blogger world. To the rest of the bloggers out there, you're welcome.

I have to throw out a few honorable mentions.
1.  Prometheus - Ridley Scott finally heads back to the world of Alien.
2.  Django Unchained - Not always a fan of Quentin Tartantino but Inglorious Basterds was phenominal.
3.  Underworld: Awakening - It's going to be a bad movie, but I'm a sucker for the series.  There, I've finally admitted it.  Don't judge me.

What is your most anticipated movie of 2012?  Did I miss one?  Let me know!