Monday, January 05, 2015

The Movies I Most Want to See in 2015

A lot of sites have listed the most anticipated films of 2015, but honestly, their list doesn't usually match my own. It's a lot of the usual suspects. Avengers, Star Wars, Hunger Games, etc. I'm looking forward to those too, but I usually prefer to go off the beaten path. So I present my list of 12 films I'm most looking forward to seeing, roughly in order of release. 

The Last Five Years: I'm a big fan of Anna Kendrick and her musical chops. I loved Into the Woods, and that's just the first of three musical films she has in the can. Most people know that the Pitch Perfect sequel comes out in May, and I'm all over that too, but I'm even more intrigued by this adaptation of the Jason Robert Brown musical, co-starring Jeremy Jordan. (Feb. 13). 

Mad Max Fury Road - Well, shit. Have you SEEN the trailer? (May 15)

Jurassic World: That trailer works too. (June 12) 

Inside Out - Summer offers its greatest one-two punch with Jurassic World one week, and the film I believe will be Pixar's creative comeback on June 19. 

The Walk: Robert Zemeckis has long been the master of photo-realistic visual effects. With this film, chronicling the incredible tightrope walk between the Twin Towers, he may have accomplished his most impressive feat yet.

Crimson Peak - Jessica Chastain in a Guillermo Del Toro movie? That's all I need to know. (Ocotber 16)

Untitled Cold War Spy Thriller: Steven Spielberg directing a Coens script? That's all I need to know. And on the same weekend as Crimson Peak! (October  16)

Peanuts -I've been a fan of the classic comic for about as long as I can remember. I still have significant chunks of A Charlie Brown Christmas memorized. So when I heard a CGI movie was being made, I cringed. And yet the trailers, including the latest, seem to capture Schulz's spirit well. Five cents, please.   (Nov. 6) 

Spectre: Skyfall was the best Bond movie in EONs. (Bond fans will see what I did there.) The follow-up, also directed by Sam Mendes, is probably THE film I'm most looking forward to seeing in 2015. 

Star Wars - The Force Awakens:  Yeah, it's one of the obvious answers. But I'm excited like everyone else is. Besides, maybe it'll get people to stop bitching about the prequels, which are flawed but still take too much abuse.  (Dec. 18)

Joy: Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence team up for the third time with David O. Russell. After Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, that's fine by me. (Dec. 25)

Carol: I covered the shoot of this for the Journal-News in Hamilton last year and caught a glimpse of Cate Blanchett. So naturally, I'm curious to see how it turned out. (Fall) 

Silence: A Martin Scorsese picture. Any questions? (TBA, but probably in the fall) 

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Sir Critic Lives: Every movie I saw in 2014



  1. Blue is the Warmest Color A-
  2. Inside Llewen Davis B+
  3. Her A+
  4. August Osage County C+
  5. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit C+
  6. Lone Survivor A-
  7. Labor Day B-
  8. The Invisible Woman B-
  9. The Lego Movie A-
  10. The Armstrong Lie B+
  11. Frozen X3  A+
  12. Philomena A-
  13. Dallas Buyers Club B+
  14. Wolf of Wall Street A
  15. 12 Years a Slave  A
  16. Nebraska A
  17. Captain Phillips A
  18. Her A+
  19. American Hustle A
  20. Gravity A+
  21. The Monuments Men B
  22. Non-Stop B
  23. The Grand Budapest Hotel A
  24. Muppets Most Wanted B
  25. 300: Rise of an Empire B-
  26. Noah B
  27. Divergent B+
  28. Bad Words B
  29. Captain America: The Winter Soldier A
  30. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 C+
  31. The Railway Man A-
  32. Under the Skin C-
  33. Only Lovers Left Alive C
  34. Locke A
  35. X-Men Days of Future Past A-
  36. Maleficant B
  37. Edge of Tomorrow B+
  38. The Fault in Our Stars A-
  39. Fed Up A
  40. Chef A-
  41. Draft Day B
  42. 22 Jump Street. A-
  43. Neighbors B
  44. Obvious Child B-
  45. Jodowarsky’s Dune B+
  46. A Hard Day's Night A+
  47. Snowpiercer A
  48. Begin Again A-
  49. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes A
  50. Life Itself A+
  51. Guardians of the Galaxy A-
  52. It Happened One Night A+
  53. Lucy B+
  54. Boyhood X2  A+
  55. The Big Lebowski B+
  56. Jersey Boys C
  57. Magic in the Moonlight B+
  58. A Most Wanted Man B+
  59. Silk Stockings B+
  60. Cavalry B+
  61. The Drop B+
  62. How to Train Your Dragon 2 A
  63. Hector and the Search for Happiness A-
  64. Gone Girl A-
  65. Men, Women and Children C+
  66. The Skeleton Twins B
  67. Fury C+
  68. Birdman A+
  69. Kill the Messenger C+
  70. Nightcrawler A-
  71. Interstellar X3 A+
  72. Big Hero 6 A-
  73. Whiplash A
  74. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1: A=
  75. The Boxtrolls B
  76. The Theory of Everything B+
  77. Citizen Four A
  78. Rosewater B
  79. Exodus: Gods and Kings C-
  80. Top Five B+
  81. Wild B+
  82. The Hobit: Battle of the Five Armies A-
  83. Into the Woods A

On the Small Screen

  1. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp  A-
  2. Liberal Arts B
  3. Last Tango in Paris  B+
  4. Stories We Tell A
  5. That’s Dancing B
  6. A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy B-
  7. The Aristocats B
  8. The Black Cauldron C+
  9. Ben-Hur (1925) B+
  10. Harold and Maude: B
  11. Millius A-
  12. Listen Darling B
  13. Miss Pinkerton B
  14. Air Force B
  15. No B+
  16. Straw Dogs (1971) B+
  17. Beneath the Planet of the Apes C
  18. Escape from the Planet of the Apes
  19. Transcendence C
  20. Straw Dogs (2011) B
  21. The Deadly Tower B+
  22. Passage to Marseille B
  23. Homefront C
  24. Peyton Place B+
  25. Sorcerer B+
  26. Crazy Love A
  27. Macbeth A
  28. The Game B
  29. All Quiet on the Western Front A-
  30. Postcards from the Edge B+
  31. Under Capricorn C
  32. Airport: B
  33. The Black Stallion: A-
  34. Dodge City A-
  35. Little Women (1949) B
  36. Dracula  (1937)  B+
  37. Dracula (Spanish) B+
  38. The Steel Trap B+
  39. Frankenstein (1931)
  40. Wee Willie Winkie B
  41. The Mummy B+
  42. Edward Ullmer documentary B-
  43. People Will Talk A-
  44. Carnival of Souls B+
  45. Altman A-
  46. Happy Christmas B-
  47. Chaplin C-
  48. The Man with the Goden Arm A-
  49. Buster Keaton: So Funny It Hurt B
  50. It Happened on Fifth Avenue B
  51. Remember the Night A-

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Spider-Man's Raid: Breaking even

The big story this weekend at the box office was, of course, Maleficent and Eight Million Ways to Die in the West. The former did better than expected, the latter did worse than expected. We might get a Maleficent 2, while Seth MacFarlane is probably fast-tracking Ted 2.

The more interesting story to me is down at number 7. Seems everyone has forgotten poor Spider-Man already. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 so far has made about $192 million. It will barely make $200 million - if it makes it there at all. For a Spider-Man movie, that's pretty poor. That may not even cover the production budget, to say nothing of marketing.

Now granted, nobody's going to the poor house. Worldwide, this Spidey has grossed $690 million. So, as was the case with the last Pirates of the Caribbean movie, even though domestic went meh, worldwide grosses ensure a follow-up at some point.

That said, I still think the series deserves a major-rethink. The grosses for each successive Spider-Man movie have tailed off considerably. My perception is, Sony rebooted too soon and people didn't fall in love with the new gang. Leads Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are appealing, but the movies that surrounded them are not so much.

What to do? First, they need to ditch director Marc Webb. He just doesn't have the chops to pull off a big franchise. Let him go back to making smaller fare like (500) Days of Summer, and have someone else with more pizzazz come in. I'm not sure who that should be. Josh Trank, who helmed the lower-key and clever Chronicle might be good once he gets done with his Fantastic Four reboot.

Second, and more importantly, they need to drop the bloat. No more than two villains at a time, please. And this idea of a Sinister Six movie? Drop it. If Sony cant't sell the hero who once had a decent track record, how can they expect to sell villains with none?

Sunday, June 01, 2014

CLEAR! (Reviving this blog)

Some of you (maybe about five of you) might be wondering why I hardly ever post here anymore. That's because for the past year or so, I've been using a Facebook fan page called Sir Critic's Social Cinema. 

Alas, that has become cumbersome, he said sounding Dr. Seuss-ish. . Since Facebook makes it increasingly difficult to distribute posts widely (unless you have lotsa money), that fan page is no longer the best option to distribute my thoughts on movies. I will continue to post reviews here, but I will be reviving and using it as kind of a film diary. Even if I don't see a movie on a particular day, I've got something film-related on my mind, and I'll post about that. Box office, trailers, Oscars, the works. First post will be made by the end of the day tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

The minor Philip Seymour Hoffman

After the very sad and tragic passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman, I kept thinking back to his performances in Twister and Along Came Polly.

Twister? Along Came Polly? Why those when I could be talking about Almost Famous or fricken Capote, for which he won an Oscar?

Well, yes, Twister and Along and Came Polly. Neither of those is a great movie. Twister is entertaining junk, and I can't even recommend Polly, which was thoroughly mediocre. I won't even say that Hoffman gave great performances in either movie.

What Hoffman did do is stand out in both, and I think that's actually a trickier feat than his great performances. Long before he died, it was no secret how fearless and powerful Hoffman was. But it's easy to talk about his best work. Many people have already done that and done it very well. However, I think greatness shows not only in what you bring to the best movies, but what you bring to the average ones.

Twister was the very first time I can recall seeing him. (Many tributes have mentioned Scent of a Woman as his first notable role, and I saw that movie, but I honestly don't remember much of anything about it  except for the scenery that Al Pacino ate like the Tasmanian Devil.)  And yet, as Hoffman leaned over into Jami Gertz and whispered, "It's the suck zone," there was a charisma there, a unique energy. I remember thinking, "This guy is somebody to watch." He definitively proved that when Boogie Nights came out the following year. 

By the time Along Came Polly arrived in 2004, Hoffman had Happiness, Magnolia and Cold Mountain under his belt, and Polly seemed like a step backward. It struck me as his Twister character after he'd lost his job as a storm chaser. When I reviewed the movie, I said Hoffman was "slumming."

Maybe he was. Even so, Hoffman still stood out as a very unique presence in a very mediocre movie. Most of his gags were gross, such as squeezing grease from one slice of pizza to another and then eating it, but I remember that a lot more than anything Ben Stiller or Jennifer Aniston were doing.

Now he's gone. And I still have trouble wrapping my head around that fact. I'll miss seeing his amazing diversity in powerful movies like Doubt and The Master, in which he had astonishingly different personalities and chemistry with the same actress, Amy Adams. But I'll miss seeing him in the small stuff too. It's not only sad that he won't be around to make great movies greater. It's sad that he won't be around to make average  movies cool, if only for a few scenes.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

REVIEW: Liberal Arts

I rented this from Netflix because I find Elizabeth Olson very, very appealing, and indeed the movie works largely because of that. She and co-star/writer/director Josh Radnor have a very easygoing, vibrant rapport, so as long as the movie sticks with them, it works. Unfortunately, it takes too many side detours, with Zac Efron's comical/wise stoner being especially precious and superfluous. On the whole, though, this is a wise look at learning to live in the moment, even when you find the moment stifling.  Sometimes that other side isn't all it's cracked up to be because we aren't ready for it yet.

Liberal Arts IMDB entry.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Every movie I saw in 2013

On the Big Screen

  1. Les Miserables B
  2. This is 40 B-
  3. The Impossible A
  4. Not Fade Away C-
  5. Promised Land B
  6. Zero Dark Thirty A
  7. Gangster Squad C
  8. Mama B
  9. Django Unchained A
  10. Warm Bodies B
  11. Oscar Nominated Shorts A-
  12. Side Effects B+
  13. A Good Day to Die Hard D
  14. Silver Linings Playbook A+
  15. Argo A+
  16. Beasts of the Southern Wild B
  17. Life of Pi A
  18. Amour B-
  19. Lincoln A
  20. Jack the Giant Slayer C+
  21. The Master B+
  22. Oz the Great and Powerful B
  23. The Call B-
  24. Safe Haven C
  25. The Croods B+
  26. Stoker B+
  27. West of Memphis A-
  28. Olympus Has Fallen B+
  29. The Gatekeepers B+
  30. 56 Up A
  31. Evil Dead (13) C+
  32. 42 B
  33. Oblivion B-
  34. Mud A
  35. The Sapphires A-
  36. Iron Man 3 B
  37. The Great Gatsby B+
  38. Star Trek Into Darkness A
  39. Fast and Furious 6 B+
  40. To The Wonder C-
  41. The Hangover Part III C+
  42. Now You See Me B
  43. Frances Ha A-
  44. Man of Steel A+
  45. Monsters University B
  46. The Bling Ring A
  47. This is the End A-
  48. Much Ado About Nothing A
  49. Before Midnight A
  50. World War Z B
  51. The Lone Ranger B-
  52. The Heat A-
  53. The East B
  54. White House Down B-
  55. The Apartment A+
  56. Pacific Rim B+
  57. The Princess Bride A
  58. 20 Feet from Stardom A
  59. Despicable Me 2 B+
  60. The Conjuring A
  61. The Way Way Back A-
  62. Swing Time A+
  63. Son of Dracula C+
  64. The Black Cat A-
  65. The Wolverine C+
  66. Fruitvale Station A+
  67. Blue Jasmine A
  68. Good Ol’ Freda A
  69. Elysium A-
  70. The Magnificent Seven A-
  71. Lee Daniels The Butler B
  72. I’m No Angel B+
  73. The Bank Dick B-
  74. Beach Blanket Bingo B
  75. The World’s End B-
  76. The French Connection A+
  77. The Spectacular Now B+
  78. 2 Guns B-
  79. Blackfish A-
  80. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints B+
  81. Short Term 12 A+
  82. Drinking Buddies C+
  83. You’re Next B+
  84. The Family B
  85. Insidious Chapter Two C
  86. Prisoners A-
  87. Rush A
  88. Safety Last A+
  89. Don Jon A-
  90. We’re the Millers C-
  91. Captain Phillips X2 A
  92. Gravity X3 A+
  93. Enough Said A-
  94. Metallica: Through the Never B
  95. 12 Years a Slave A
  96. Carrie C
  97. The Counselor D
  98. The Fifth Estate C
  99. Ender’s Game B
  100. About Time B
  101. Thor: The Dark World B
  102. Dallas Buyers Club B+
  103. All is Lost A-
  104. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire  B+
  105. Frozen A
  106. Philomena A-
  107. Saving Mr. Banks B+
  108. The Hobbt: The Desolation of Smaug B+
  109. Nebraska A
  110. American Hustle X2 A
  111. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty C+
  112. The Wolf of Wall Street A+

    On the Small Screen 

    1. The Man Who Knew Too Much A-
    2. Compliance C+
    3. How to Survive a Plague B+
    4. Everything or Nothing A-
    5. Game Change A-
    6. Searching for Sugar Man A
    7. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel  B
    8. The Killers (46) A
    9. Smashed A-
    10. The Killers (64) B
    11. Anastasia (56)  B+
    12. Peeping Tom A
    13. River of No Return B
    14. Baby Face B+
    15. Helter Skelter B+
    16. Storm Warning B+
    17. The Long Goodbye A-
    18. What’s Up Doc A-
    19. Public Enemies B+
    20. The Canyons D+
    21. $ellbrity B
    22. I Wanna Hold Your Hand A-
    23. Roman Polanski: Odd Man Out A-
    24. The Woman in Black C
    25. Making the Shining B
    26. Sound City B+
    27. Upstream Color D+
    28. 12 Angry Men A-
    29. Fast and Furious B
    30. Lovelace C
    31. Passion D+
    32. Brick B+