Archive for December, 2011

And finally, the film list

Posted: December 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

I’ve been alluding to it for a while now, and now I’ve finally seen enough movies this year to feel like I can make this list. I’ve included a list of the movies I haven’t seen yet, as well. I’ll weigh on in those as I see them later. So without further ado:

1. 50/50

2. Beginners

3. Drive

4. Hugo

5. The Descendants

6. Happythankyoumoreplease

7. Rise of the Planet of the Apes

8. The Ides of March

9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows–Part 2

10. Like Crazy

11. Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol

12.Midnight In Paris

13. Crazy Stupid Love

14. Moneyball

15. Source Code

16. X-Men: First Class

17. The High Cost of Living

18. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

19. Young Adult

20. The Adventures of Tintin

21. Win Win

22. The Muppets

23. Melancholia

24. J. Edgar

25. Attack the Block

26. The Adjustment Beureau

27. Contagion

28. The Tree of Life

29. Everything Must Go

30 (tie). No Strings Attached/Friends With Benefits

With a list like this, it is always difficult to decide how to make this list. With art it is complicated in terms of how I decide what makes one film better than another. In this case, I went with two basic premises. First, I chose films that I felt were done well artistically. Obviously, this is different from film to film. For instance, the things that I like about 50/50 as a film in terms of its craft are entirely different than Rise of the Planet of the Apes or Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol. Still, if the film is not well-made then that can be a distraction. Second, is how the film effects me as a viewer. In the case of films like 50/50, Beginners and Happythankyoumoreplease speak to this, whereas films like Drive and The Ides of March weigh more heavily in terms of craft. It is always a difficult list to make, but I still enjoy doing it every year.

Robert
PS. Here’s the list of movies I haven’t seen. I’m sure there are others, but this is from what I know.

A Dangerous Method
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Carnage
We Bought A Zoo
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
The Rum Diary
Anonymous
Restless
The Debt
The Artist

Road trip!(?)

Posted: December 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

So most of you may know that I am currently in grad school getting my masters degree. The response to finishing that degree in May 2013 is simple: go to school more. Now, in spite of the grammatical inconsistency of that last statement, I stand by it. So I’m beginning to look at schools which will, upon completion of required classes, etc, grant me a MFA in Creative Writing. I want to be able to teach at a college level and in the writing community, the MFA is considered terminal and, to be honest, a considerably better choice than a PhD in the field. In some cases I know this isn’t the case, but here it is, so I’m going to jump on it. That being said, I’ve recently been told by a few of my current professors to start looking outside of my current geographic zone, so I’ll be heading west to start looking at schools.

So, I’m narrowing down my choices to 4-5 and will be, God willing, be making a rather extended trip this summer to visit these. I’ve included the map of the trip below for your information. If anyone reading this lives in any of those areas, please let me know, as the ability to  have places to stay on this trip will be paramount. Also, if you live in Charlotte and think you might be bored this summer, let me know that, too. Driving is better, especially in long distances, with companions.

Anywho, that’s it for now. Went to the dentist this morning, and now it’s time for the eye doctor and then the DMV. It is quite a day!

 

Robert

Christmas Time was here

Posted: December 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

I hope everyone had a great Christmas yesterday. For me, yesterday signaled me saying goodbye to a decent amount of money that was spent but could not be got back. It’s a long story, one which I’ll spare you here for now, but suffice it to say, I made a choice of sanity over money yesterday. And although part of me would like to be in an exotic location right now, most of me is happy to be safe on the ground. Christmas, then, was a time to relax and to be around family, which is really a nice change. To know that I didn’t have to work today allowed me to just relax and enjoy the day more than I have in years. It is a good thing to be able to do that from time to time.

Anyway, one full week left of Winter Break, plus New Year’s weekend, so I’m hoping to enjoy this, too. I’ve knocked around the idea of going somewhere, but I think that’s fallen out of contention, the only caveat to that being a possible trip to Charleston to see George Mason’s basketball team play against College of Charleston, but we’ll see how I feel come Friday. Other than that, I’ll be relaxing and using my big Christmas present: money to cover some of my monthly membership at CrossFit Indian Trail. It is definitely time for me to get into real shape, and since nothing I’ve done before has ever worked, I figure it’ll be worth the pain and extra money. So thanks mom and dad for that. I’m sure I’ll appreciate it more in a few months when I’m seeing results.

In other news, I feel like I’ve seen enough movies to make my final, year-end list, so I’ll do that some time this week, too. Saw The Adventures of Tintin on Saturday (details below). May try to see one or two more this week, but we’ll see.

In any respect, I hope everyone out there is the blogosphere is doing well and had a great holiday. Best of luck to you in the final week of 2011. May 2012 bring you lots of love and good memories. God bless.

Robert
The Adventures of Tintin: B

Engaging enough story, but I felt like some of the action sequences were trying too hard to be grand scale, leading to some rather foolish choices in those terms, especially in the final, climactic showdown between two of the films’ pivotal characters (see it and tell me if you agree). Could have had a bit more heart by scaling it down just a little bit and not going for the homerun on every single action set. Otherwise, visually it was pretty cool. The moments where the 3D were supposed to go were often obvious, unlike in a movie like Hugo where I didn’t notice at all. Also contains one of the least subtle sequel set-ups I’ve seen in a long time. Worth seeing, but I wouldn’t rush out today.

Oh, and I saw Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol again with my parents. Even without the IMAX, it was still pretty amazing.

Eventually I swear I’ll talk about something other than music and movies. But you should understand that these are two important elements of my life, so they are going to come up quite a bit, just not quite as frequently as they have been of late. A few more movies to add to the “Seen It” list in the last few days. Many more days of break to catch up. Looking forward to seeing what else is out there.

 

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: A-

Although not as uncomfortable to watch as I expected, there were  some rather tense scenes in Fincher’s film. The actors are great, especially Rooney Mara, who is almost unrecognizable as Lisbeth Salander, the titular Girl. Daniel Craig also continues to prove he is much more than Bond. It’ll be interesting to see whether Fincher decides to come back for the remaining sequels, given his general disinterest in doing the same thing twice. We should, at the very least, see some technical awards come Oscar time, as this is probably only going to make a Best Picture list if the nominees reach 8 or 9, if I had to guess. Mara, though, would not be a terrible Best Actress nominee in the least.

Hesher: C

I really wanted to like this. The actors (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Natalie Portman and Rainn Wilson) are top notch and the story is a little bit odd, two things which I usually like in movies. But this one just did not sit right with me. Maybe it was the kid at the center of the story, who you start off feeling a little sorry for, and then, as the story progresses, begin to wonder if he doesn’t need psychological help. Or maybe it was the illogical moves to let Gordon-Levitt’s Hesher into the house in the first place, given his strangeness and, oh, I don’t know, the fact that these people DON’T KNOW HIM. The film tried to redeem itself with a nice little moral but the end, but the problems were already glaringly obvious, especially in the middle of the movie. Sad, because if you gave this group of actors (minus that kid) some decent material, that’s a movie I’d enjoy.

Extra point:

Finally saw Spielberg’s 2005 drama Munich and I have to say that I was rather impressed. Eric Bana was fantastic, as was the aforementioned Craig. My only gripe was that it was somewhat difficult to follow, especially as they’re moving from assassination to assassination, and I was trying to follow names and places and faces and getting a little mixed up. Otherwise, it was an excellent film. I haven’t seen Crash, but it would have to be pretty solid to have won the Best Picture Oscar in 2005 while this got the goose egg.

More movies

Posted: December 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

Added a few more movies to the “Seen It” category this weekend. With my being on break for the next two weeks, I will probably add to this list over the next few days. We’ll see how that goes. Quick thoughts on the recent additions:

 

Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol: A

Simply put, this one is fantastic. Got to see it in IMAX on Friday night and it was well worth the extra few dollars. The scope is huge and the action set pieces are amazing. Should see some technical Oscar nominations coming its way, especially in sound categories.

 

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows: B+

Not quite as fun as the first time, but still worth seeing. Robert Downey, Jr is great again, as is the rest of the cast. Yet another twist of a yarn, even if the ending isn’t exactly unexpected.

 

Young Adult: A-

Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman get back together after the success that was Juno. This one isn’t nearly as light-hearted as their first time around, but it is rather engaging. The way that Cody weaves her symbols throughout the story is rather incredible, and the idea of feeling stuck in a state of arrested development is one that I’m pretty sure that a lot of people can relate to (or at least I can).

 

Still waiting on a few others (namely Melancholia, Dragon Tattoo, and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) before I can make my final list for 2011. It’s coming though.

Early Thoughts and Golden Things

Posted: December 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

Added a few movies to the “Seen It” list, which is getting smaller, it seems, by the day. I’ll add my mini reviews at the bottom. Down to 18 on the “Yet To See” list, though I probably won’t see all of them before the end of the year. Getting closer to my best of the year list.

The Descendants: A
Another great addition to the Alexander Payne filmography. Much like the rest of is films, it feels like you’re eavesdropping on people’s lives, not watching a movie. And, like his others, there’s a lot of heart here.

The Muppets: A
This ‘A’ is on an entirely different plane that the above grade, as this movie isn’t about wowing you with fantastic performances or stirring set pieces. Instead, this is about having fun. And fun it is! Good to see the Muppets back on the big screen.

In other news, the Golden Globe nominations were released yesterday and I had a few initial thoughts:

1) I’ve seen all but one of the Best Picture (Drama) nominees (the as-of-yet to be released War Horse), and all but two of the Best Picture (Musical or Comedy) nominees (The Artist and My Week With Marilyn). If I had to pick in these categories I’d say either Moneyball or Hugo in Drama and 50/50 for Musical/Comedy

2) I’ve only seen one of the nominated films for Best Actress-Drama (Viola Davis in The Help), and 4/5 for Best Actor-Drama. Impossible to pick Actress. Actor is hard. I like Ryan Gosling, but this should be for Drive, not Ides of March.

3) Best Actress-Musical/Comedy: 1/5
Best Actor-Musical/Comedy: 3/5
Not informed enough for either. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance is borderline “comedy,” though.

4) Animated Feature: 2/5 (Cars 2, Rango). None of these movies excite me much.

5) Supporting Actress: 3/5. Shailene Woodley from The Descendants was really freakin’ fantastic. Supporting Actor: 3/5. Jonah Hill, really? Give me a break. They are missing some screws here. Christopher Plummer or Albert Brooks should win.

6) Director: 4/5. Martin Scorsese, because the handling of the large scope of Hugo was fantastic.

7) Screenplay: 4/5. No Hugo here? Oscar should fix this with the two categories. Either The Descendants or The Ides of March here.

8) I don’t watch enough television to comment on those categories. Plus, the Globes tend to nominate a lot of Showtime, HBO and other cable network shows, so that makes it impossible to pick on these. General comments:

a) Not a lot of love for The Big Bang Theory or How I Met Your Mother, two of my favorites. Good to see Johnny Gelecki in there, though.

b) How does Matt LeBlanc keep getting nominated for playing HIMSELF!?

c) New Girl is getting a lot of love. I like that show. It is adorable, as is its star, but the show is just silly. Good silly, but not Golden Globe nominated silly.

More thoughts to come, along with the top of the year list.

Albums of the Year

Posted: December 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

So my attempts to post a long and involved version of this a few days ago failed. For now, this list will suffice. More to come later.

Top Albums of the Year

1. Thrice- Major/Minor

2. City and Colour- Little Hell

3. Explosions In the Sky- Take Care, Take Care, Take Care

4. MuteMath- Odd Soul

5. Emery- We Do What We Want

6. Coldplay- Myloto Xyloto

7. Sainthood Reps- Monoculture

8. Switchfoot- Vice Verses

9. Thursday- No Devolucion

10. Death Cab For Cutie- Codes & Keys

11. Deas Vail- Deas Vail

12. You Can’t Win, Charlie Brown- Chromatic

13. The Decemberists- The King Is Dead

14. Matt Redman- 10,000 Reasons

15. Blindside- With Shivering Hearts We Wait

16. Gungor- Ghosts Upon the Earth

17. O’Brother- Garden Window

18. The Dangerous Summer- War Paint

19. Real Estate- Days

20. The Get Up Kids- There Are Rules

21. The Civil Wars- Barton Hollow

22. States- Room to Run

23. The Wonder Years- Suburbia: I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing

24. The Hotel Year- It Never Goes Out

25. Taking Back Sunday- Taking Back Sunday

Movie list to come later. More details for this later as well.