Chapter 114: The Latest Skinny (and another Top 10)

So 2016 was a bust of a year, and 2017 seems like it is shaping up to compete with 2016's shit quality.  Luckily, there is at least some good news on a personal level, as the wife and I are going to welcome our second child this summer. Just wish I felt more confident about the world we were bringing the kid into. So lately has been working around the house preparing our spare room and turn it into a proper room for the new baby, and getting our little one prepared for the coming addition.  She seems pretty excited about it!

As I annually do for some reason, here is my Top 10 Movies of 2016:

10. Neon Demon
Nicholas Winding Refn isn't a filmmaker I've been following closely, but I really liked "Drive," and his latest film is stylish and creepy and pretty too look at, as it follows a young beautiful model as she enters the dark strange world of professional modeling.  Just great too look at, with a very Argento feel too it all.

9. The Lobster
Just as weird a premise as a movie can have, enter hotel to find love, and if you don't, turned into an animal. It is a weird weird movie, but I really enjoyed it, even in it's second half when it began to drag a bit...it still had wonderfully weird ideas.

8. Loving
The story of the Loving couple, whose landmark case paved the way for it to be legal across the land to have interracial marriage...but what makes the movie great is that it barely focuses on the legal end of things, and instead focuses on the people, which makes it feel real.

7. Green Room
A band gets held hostage and must escape after witnessing a murder in the titular green room of a rock club owned by Neo-Nazis. Just a great gritty thriller. 

6. Star Trek Beyond
I mean...I just love Star Trek, and this was the finest Trek film in year in my opinion. It blended that fun and freshness of the 2009 movie, with that classic Star Trek feel. It is a shame it didn't do better than the abysmal "Star Trek Into Darkness." As a Trek fan, this just put a smile on my face, and a warm feeling in my heart, and it was the only film on this list I went to see twice in the theater and made sure I got the blu-ray for Christmas.

5. Arrival
Every Fall we seem to get a solid intelligent sci-fi film now, and I am all for that. Amy Adams is great as a linguist who is called upon by the government to try and figure out a way to speak to an alien race that has landed on Earth, and try to understand their purpose on Earth.  In the process she learns about herself...it is a character movie, it is a great smart sci-fi movie well made. For the sci-fi fans like me, I am so pleased we get something like this each fall. 

4. Midnight Special
Another solid smarter sci-fi/fantasy picture from this year, and the second film by Jeff Nichols (the other being "Loving") to make my list. Nichols sort of channels Spielberg in this story about a dad trying to evade the law as he runs off with his son from a cult...but his son has some kind of magical powers, and may belong in another dimension.  This year I really discovered Nichols, watching all of his films that lead up to "Midnight Special" and "Loving," and I realized he has quietly become one of the finest working directors today. 

3. La La Land
I mean...how weird is it that a modern musical made it this high on my list?  But "La La Land" is fun, well made, with good music, great stars with chemistry, and it feels like a throwback to the classic big Hollywood musicals of yesteryear, yet still felt fresh and modern...it was a good picture, one that evokes a classic cinema that I miss. Here's hoping it's success means we get more films like this, that evoke a little bit of hope and happiness. 

2. Don't Breath
On the other end of the spectrum comes "Don't Breath," a horror-thriller about some young burglars hoping too pull of one last big job, which involves robbing a a bling vet...but this vet turns out to be more able than they realized...as the house is locked down and they must avoid him finding them and killing them, which means they can't make a single sound, must even muffle their breathing.  And they find more surprises along the way...it is a great thriller - gritty, exciting, and a lot of fun. 

1. The Witch
About as good a horror film as I have seen in some time.  Just creepy from the word go, with beautiful cinematography, creepy imagery, and a tone that left me unsettled for a couple hours after watching.  The kind of movie where I needed to turn the light on as soon as it ended!  The language can be a difficult barrier, as the dialogue is pretty much entirely olde timey, but you get used to it, and if you get past that hurdle, well worth it.  Best film of the year in my opinion, because it was highly effective as both a horror film, and just a piece of cinematic art in general.  Top notch stuff. 

Chapter 113: Movies and Whatnot

Apparently for me, a blog is something you post on only to review episodes/movies of Star Trek and Doctor Who.  This, my allegedly "main blog," I seem to now post on once a year with what I have here....My Top 10 Films of 2015.  I haven't seen everything or even that much...but I saw a few more this year than last year. Maybe not in the Theater, but via the Library, Netflix...and the occasional streaming rental, I saw a lot of films from this past year.  Here are the ones I really liked:

MY TOP FILMS OF 2015:

10. Me, and Earl, and the Dying Girl
A coming of age film about the friendship of a weird high school kid who befriends a fellow student who has cancer.  I liked this one because it was an entertaining look about outcast high school kids that doesn't feel phony or forced...and the friendship between the main character and the girl never descended into silly nonsense like a forced romance or anything.  It easily could've taken that cheap route, but it avoided it nicely.  It also had plenty of weirdness to enjoy. 

9. Dope
Oddly enough, I enjoyed two coming of age movies this year...which seems strange to me.  But this one was a nice mix of things and felt very fresh.  It also had a great actor in the lead role, who played a character who didn't fit the standard roles that young black actors so often get.  He got to play a fully developed character, not just a stereotype, so refreshing to see that on screen. 

8. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
As much as I was indifferent to this movie before seeing it, I must say it won me over.  I am not going to pretend it was the best movie of the year, but it did it's job of making "Star Wars" fun again.  Great effects - nice mix of Sets, puppets, and appropriate CG (hear me George?) and new fresh characters that blended well with the returning classic characters. Also I didn't think Harrison Ford would give any craps about this movie, but they must've paid him just the right amount to make him actually act again.  Harry, it's been so long since you didn't look bored!

7. It Follows
A fantastic 70s/80s inspired horror movie, very early John Carpenter in style, that creeps you out with atmosphere, style, and creepy moments, rather than with jump scares or CG monster people.  It just worked on every level for me, and was a great reminder that if you want entertaining horror films, look no further than what some indie filmmakers are bringing to the table. 

6. Turbo Kid
Probably some of the most fun I had watching a movie this year came from the crazy and ridiculous indie post-apocalyptic movie "Turbo Kid," which blended "Mad Max" with a little bit of comic book sensibilities and tons of funny and well executed gore.  It is just a real fun ride of a movie, totally worth checking out. 

5. Inside Out
Not that Pixar has been making bad movies or anything, but it was nice to see an original story from them again and for it to be this good.  This movie hooked me easily, because seeing a young girl growing up...while watching it with my own little girl...it just hit me.  And while they have always been emotional, the characters in this film are literally emotions...so it wasn't hard to trigger my emotions with this one.

4. The Hateful Eight
I literally just came from this one, so I technically didn't see it in 2015, but it came out in 2015...so I am counting it. It's Quentin Tarantino, need I say more?  The man does no wrong for me.  And this movie, while still excessive and explicit in it's depiction of graphic violence, is a lot more restrained and builds more than his last few films before ramping up in the third act...plus the roadshow 70mm film going experience was really great.

3. World of Tomorrow
How many have even seen this one?  If you haven't, please do...go to Vimeo and rent it for a small price, you won't regret it...it's only a low rental fee and about 20 minutes of your time.  It's the latest short by independent animator Don Hertzfeldt, and it is a beautiful little sci-fi film about a little girl being visited by a clone of herself from the future, who explains what the future is, and it is sad and beautiful and strange and funny...it is just a great little short, highly recommended.  I actually submitted to the Kickstarter to bring this and many other films by Hertzfeldt to blu-ray...first and thus far only Kickstarter I've ever been compelled to contribute to. 

2. Mad Max: Fury Road
This was so nearly my #1. It was a great film, lots of big action and crazy stunts, and the fact that so little of it was CG'd made all the difference.  Seeing stunts, and cars race and crash and explode...and knowing that so much of it was done for real...that's movie magic baby!  Plus it is just a fun post-apocalypse film with crazy costumes and goofy weirdness. I think CG has come so far, that it is actually more exciting and magical to see a film that lacks a guy in a CG robot suit who can do anything...because we've seen it all before.  It is more magical to see people performing real stunts...because how DO they do it?

1. The Martian
I very nearly made this #2, but what edged it out was that it was a better movie...it had stronger characters, a stronger story, it had more depth, and it is more the kind of movie I'd like to see get made.  It isn't based on some franchise that guarantees money in the bank, it's based on a little self-published book.  It also isn't just a sci-fi movie with dumb action and laser fights. It is hard sci-fi, with much of the science in the film being deemed fairly close to accurate. It also wasn't a hard sci-fi film that felt fairly humorless. It mixed humor, drama, science, and mild action, into an exciting picture that was fun to watch and cohesive. I wish "Star Trek" could take it's cues from this very film on how to mix all of the elements well and still keep the masses intrigued. This was the film that truly was the best of the year for me.  It just ticked all the right boxes.  

Chapter 112: 2014 and the New Year

2014 was a whopper of a year for me. First child was born and I started a new full time job...so seeing movies and TV kind of difficult.  I'm catching up to seeing a bunch of movies from the last couple years right now...so here is my Top Ten List of what I saw so far for 2014.

10. Interstellar
I like Christopher Nolan and I think this was a nice attempt to make a hard sic-fi movie with a serious tone.  Good performances and great effects throughout, the problem came in some of the scripting in the second half.  I have no problem with the sort of oddball existential stuff, but I did have a problem with McConaughey explaining to me what's happening, when it was kind of visually clear what was happening. I also found the Matt Damon is a villain thing to be trite and predictable, and out of place in the tone and themes of this film. I applaud the effort to make a big budget studio release that tries to be legit sci-fi rather than just LASERS!

9. Frank
Such a weird unique movie. I enjoyed the concept and thought the movie was enjoyable, funny, but a little sad too. Michael Fassbender gives a great performance and does it mostly hidden under a giant fiberglass head. It is the kind of off kilter movie that is bound to have a little cult following but will mostly miss a lot of people.

8. Guardians of the Galaxy
James Gunn jump from small budget films to the big money makers of Marvel, and he nails it. As much as I am bored with the more fantasy sci-fi movies, and as much as I miss smarter hard sci-fi...this was fun as hell. I kind of lament that I enjoyed Interstellar less than this in way, but that when fell slightly short of what it wanted and needed to accomplish, this one did everything it wanted to in spades.  Cast is good, effects are good, the script is fun, and the movie moves along at a solid pace. If only Marvel made every movie as fun as this and the Avengers.

7. Gone Girl
What a fucked up couple this movie is about.  Well crafted thriller from David Fincher, looks good, feels unsettling at times, and features quite the performance from Rosamund Pike...who just digs into this role.  I really enjoyed watching this, though I doubt I'd ever want to see it again. 

6. Locke
Tom Hardy in a car. That is really all this movie is...Tom Hardy driving for 80 minutes, as a man ditching his job the night before a major construction project in order to be there for the birth of his son...with a woman who is not his wife.  Hardy is the only actor seen on screen, everyone else is literally phoning it in, as Hardy's character tries to help someone else do his job, explain to his wife just why he is doing this, and try to calm the woman he had a one night stand with who is in labor.  It is an edge of your seat kind of movie...and it has no locations beyond the inside of a car.

5. Blue Ruin
This movie about revenge is so well done.  It isn't a typical action revenge flick, with a lead character kicking so much ass, here our main character is a homeless guy who kills the man he believes killed his parents and then must take on that man's entire family...but he is kind of inept at all of it.  It is funny in a sad kind of way, but what really sells the movie is the lead performance. 

4. Whiplash
JK Simmons is fantastic in this, and Miles Teller is proving to be a new young actor to watch out for. Simmons plays Teller's teacher at a music conservatory who is brutal and tough at trying to make great musicians.  Simmons puts up with no shit and he is just intense to watch.  I've seen him in so many things over the years, but I don't think I truly realized how good he is as an actor until now. Much more exciting movie than an average summer blockbuster.

3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
I love Wes Anderson movies.  People may complain that he makes the same movies over and over again, but I don't see it that way. He has a specific style, and that style is getting increasingly stylized, but I like the style...and while his movies always have a similar tone, they rarely feel like the same movie being rehashed. This was hilarious, stylish, and creative, and I enjoyed every moment of it.

2. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
I can't believe that this series is this good right now.  I'm a sucker for monkey movies...I love King Kong and I love the Planet of the Apes movies. But even as a fan of the Planet of the Apes, I can admit a good chunk of the movies aren't that great. I enjoy them, but I am not beyond seeing their flaws.  The original is a stone cold classic, but the sequels were hit and miss, and Tim Burton's remake was terrible.  Rise of the Planet of the Apes surprised me with how solid it was...Dawn blew me away.  This movie fixed all the things I found to be flawed in Rise, and it balanced action and smarts and social commentary in exactly the way this series always tried to.  One of the few movies from this year I'm really jonesing to dive into again.

1. Birdman
Excellent.  Michael Keaton is one of my favorite actors, and it is so nice to see him leading a movie again, and he gives his all.  It's a top notch performance from Keaton, but also everyone in the movie is pretty solid.  The movie flows with the camera moving like one continuous shot, and it just works.  I really loved everything about this and I think it deserves any accolades it gets, more so than the film that is going to get all the accolades, Boyhood...which was average despite it's long term production.

Now that 2015 is in full swing, here is what I am actually looking forward to. I'm slightly intrigued but can't say I am actually anticipating the new Star Wars. That franchise ran out of steam, and I'm sure the new one will be perfect at capturing some of the spirit and fun of the original, because JJ Abrams already essentially did that with Star Trek, but I dunno...who cares at this point. I think the franchise movie I am really looking forward to in 2015 in Mad Max: Fury Road...because those trailers look fucking amazing.  Based on his previous work in both animation and live action I am interested to see Brad Bird's new film Tomorrowland, though I think I'm only half interested.  I just found out Don Hertzfeldt has a new film that is sci-fi...and I love everything he does, and I love sci-fi...so I can't wait to see that. For big summer movies..I guess Avengers 2...I mean Avengers was fantastic...I'm just sort of tired of Marvel, even though I have enjoyed their movies for the most part. I am actually really anticipating is Red Letter Media's Space Cop...which I think will finally be coming out this year...though who knows for sure. The moment they release it on DVD, I will be making a purchase.

Beyond that I keep looking through the list and I think I'm indifferent to most of what is coming out.  We will see what gets recommended.

Chapter 111: Current Updates and Real Life

I haven't posted in a while.  At least not on this main blog.  The reason is I've had a real life going on around me.  It seems I never really posted it on this blog, but in the last year I've gotten married, moved twice, bought two cars, worked my ass off with crazy work hours, and coming this February...I will be a dad.  So Posting on this stupid little blog has been low priority. 

That said...I have spent time working on the review blogs...this is mostly just a main base to lead you to the other blogs I guess.  I've recently added reviews to the latest Doctor Who adventures, and I've updated some of the images. A new Who Banner is in the works, waiting essentially on images of the new Doctor.  

Also there is an image on all Trek stories now, which is nice.  Images for episodes will be gradually updated as HD screen grabs become available.  

That is all for now.  

Chapter 110: Updates And Wonderments

So I've been working on this "site" or collection of blogs or whatever it is.  I've been adding a bit more visual flair to the whole thing.  New banners for all sections, new buttons, a change of Name from the Shark Tank to Honeyfuggle Industires, and for the shows reviewed I've been adding a image from each episode/movie.  

Doctor Who and the recently started Babylon 5 blog are completed, and therefore have an screengrab image up for each episode reviewed.  I have mostly done Trek, though I haven't added an image for all of TNG just yet.  Enjoy the more visually entertaining look.  Better with a picture than just words on a screen I think.  

While I have gone through and added pictures, I have have done a bit of updating/clean-up/editing of some reviews.  I've noticed many of my later reviews are much better written than the earliest ones, my wording has definitely improved.  

So things around here are getting a little more shaped up.