Sunday, August 7, 2016

Been Forever

I've been meaning to write a blog for a while now, but didn't want one filled with emotion. Been a rough month for me personally and going it alone has been tough. The usual suspects have been absent from my life, but most of all people have just been busy. Sure, I could quote some internet meme about how if people care they'd make time for me, but that's not always true. I've been there. I've had work, little league, personal relationships, my family commitments and I was young. I woke up at 6:30 and went to bed at 1:30 and not once did I have a minute to step back and say "this isn't living." Did I have fun? Of course, but for four years, I essentially became a slave to routine. I didn't go out with friends, didn't drink, didn't even really know what I was doing when I relaxed. I stared at screens, playing games or watching the same movies I'd seen before or ones that looked just like it.

But wait, this isn't a cry for help. The tough spot is over and with it, new leaves are being turned. Those who were busy have found a little time for me and I have to remember, they owe me nothing. Facebook makes us forget that. Someone or some thing dies and we post. We are inundated with compassion and sympathy and then it stops, unless we feed it. Are we still grieving or have we turned it into something else? I was grieving two weeks ago and I did it alone, as I always do. Even in the midst of the turmoil, I turned loved ones away, even shunning the very thought that they were; loved ones. It's over now and while this year, memories hit harder, I combated it with the things I've now embraced. Moments with my cat, sharing glances with a deer or simply listening to the leaves, amidst the daily pollution of car alarms, power tools and people talking to themselves or are they tiny people in an earpiece?

I used to use this blog to combat my inner battles, but realized too many people heard about, not even read, my blog, and felt they knew me. I'm approaching an anniversary of sorts. A friend from the past read one of them and reached out. That person and I shared one silly connection and from it grew a friendship like none I've had before. We're both in different places, but in some ways, we've seen the abyss and decided to hightail it out of there...but we don't forget it. Sometimes, when we know we shouldn't, we stare into it and guess what, it never really stares back, it just invites us in. Many days we wonder, should I have turned and run from it or embraced it. The unknown of every decision is something many of us struggle with every day. At times, without a sole understanding, we do what is best for the moment and we shield others from unnecessary pain, by choosing the wrong path and then we spend the rest of our lives wondering if it really wasn't the right one.

It's been 12 years, since my mother passed and while her illness took her life, her wisdom and her compassion, it's slowly crept into me. I'm not the person I was when she passed, for better and for worse, but I think she'd be proud of the way I stand up for myself and even more so, of how I stand up for others, sometimes simply by saying "Good Morning."

Monday, August 1, 2016

July 2016 Movies

  1. Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse - Very funny, but lacks horror feel. Good acting.
  2. Francofonia - On paper, a brilliant docudrama about art preservation during war. On paper!
  3. A Brighter Summer Day - A very simple story, enhanced by it's beauty. Four quick hours.
  4. The Girl In The Photographs - As bad as a horror movie can get. An all-time dud.
  5. I'm A Cyborg, But That's OK - Surreal look at mental illness, is scattered, but works.
  6. Bill Cunningham New York - Funny, touching and possibly even deep. He was NYC fashion!
  7. Hail, Caesar! - Coen Bros. offer an homage to post-war Hollywood and nail it. Casting is A+
  8. Event Horizon - Cult Classic did nothing for me. No twists or turns and silly script. Boo!
  9. Green Room - Run-of-the-mill claustrophobic thriller. Silly script, but solid cast makes it work.
  10. Rams - Icelandic drama about two brothers, their farm and the loss of their rams. That's it. 
  11. Wrestling - Short by director of Rams. Odd homosexual tale that just feels weird.
  12. 3-Iron - A Korean film that says so much without a single word uttered by its lead.
  13. The Chaser - Haunting, depressing Korean crime thriller. Pulls zero punches. 
  14. The Last Picture Show - Either the best bad movie or the worst good movie ever made. Sam!
  15. Midnight Special - Sound and sights add to this epic effort by Nichols. Almost too much!
  16. Elvis and Nixon - Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey do what they do, strong support.
  17. The Enforcer - Re-watched. Eastwood isn't as great as I remember. Almost funny it's so bad.
  18. Sauna - Finnish horror alleged to be deep. Atmospheric, but pretty standard symbolism.
  19. Vivre Sa Vie - The segments vary in their appeal, but the ending came off campy, ruining it.
  20. Kes - Critically acclaimed, but my personal feelings about animals and kids made me hate it.
  21. A Serious Man - Coen Brothers flop! Absolutely horrible, stereotypical crap.
  22. Darling - Repulsion meets The Haunting, without the direction. Lead is excellent though.
  23. True Grit - Coen Bros almost miss with ridiculous finale, but solid acting makes it worthwhile.
  24. Fright Night - Remake doesn't work, but Poots and Collette are sure nice to look at.
  25. Good Bye Lenin! - Painfully slowly and poorly acted, but then magical fine fifteen minutes.
Top Three: Midnight Special, A Brighter Summer Day, 3-Iron
Bottom Three: Francofonia, Event Horizon, The Girl in the Photographs
Biggest Surprise: Bill Cunningham New York
Biggest Letdown: A Serious Man

Pretty weak month of movies. Some "classics" didn't live up to their billing and I might just have to accept that I am not much of a Godard fan. The real trend this month seems to be movies that either fall apart or somehow work at the end. I also wan't to add that Midnight Special is a movie I will return to and will either find it lacked something important or is one of the better films ever made. It left me speechless, but was it a case of overthinking every single scene? 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

June 2016 Movies

  1. Felt - Billed as horror, this sad drama about dealing with rape is odd, but effective.
  2. Beau Travail - This simple story feels like a complex dream in Claire Denis' hands. Brilliant!
  3. Krampus - Silly, funny at times, but definitely a failure as a horror film. 
  4. The Danish Girl - Vikander stands out in a miss-the-mark fictional twist on interesting story.
  5. Extraordinary Tales - Animated Poe Anthology is so good on paper, but never translates.
  6. Deadpool - Overhyped, silly, with some very funny moments, but the film is rather boring.
  7. Emelie - It's not perfect, but it's what horror should be. Tense, uncomfortable and exciting.
  8. Anomalisa - Charlie Kaufman strikes again. The film resonates, but lacks something in the end.
  9. Joy - Arguably the worst script ever written. The movie manages to fail in every way possible. 
  10. The Battle Of Algiers - Content could be debated, but the look and sound is impeccable.
  11. 10 Cloverfield Lane - Obvious, silly and boring, but surprisingly well acted. A waste of time.
  12. 45 Years - Courtnay and Rampling are stellar. A film that you really need to allow to set in.
  13. Welcome to Leith - Disturbing tale of domestic terror in small town USA. 
  14. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - Much better than the title would suggest, with stellar James.
  15. World Of Tomorrow - re-watched. One of the best, most thought provoking short film ever.
  16. Drag Me To Hell - Horribly predictable yarn, with decent lead let down by everything about it.
  17. A War - Strong start turns into boring courtroom drama and loses focus trying to be powerful.
  18. Naked - Brilliant acting enhances dire tale, which goes from typical to brilliant to typical.
  19. Santa Sangre - All style, little substance. Beautifully odd, but so wooden and overly long.
  20. Knight Of Cups - Malick channels Fellini and maybe enhances 8 1/2. Bale and Co shine!
  21. Intolerance - D.W. Griffith's film is 100 years old and it resonates as much now as ever.
  22. Shark Lake - Makes Avalanche Sharks look like Jaws, but hey Dolph Lundgren and Sara Lane.
  23. The Boy - Solid 80 minutes, followed by complete unraveling. Great lead, but little else.
  24. Fastball - Recycled stories leave real fans wanting more. Newcomers and kids will love it.
  25. Death By Hanging - Oshima's use of comedy allows his social commentary to zing, not sting.
Top Three: Beau Travail, The Battle of Algiers, Intolerance
Bottom Three: Drag Me To Hell, Shark Lake, Joy
Biggest Surprise: Felt and Emelie
Biggest Letdown: Deadpool

While the top three for this month are all members of Sight and Sound's top 100 decided by critics, I should note that Knight of Cups and 45 Years are extraordinary. While Algiers and Intolerance are truly epic, Beau Travail mesmerized me. That finale will stick with anyone who sees it, for a long time. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

May 2016 Movies

By far, the least number of movies I've watched in a month in almost two years (since I've been keeping track).

  1. Tiny Homes House Hunters - Silly, but some cool houses. 
  2. Son Of Saul - Auschwitz from almost a found footage style. Cinematic Masterpiece.
  3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Truly horrible in every way, but script and acting is atrocious.
  4. Philomena - Dench and Coogan's chemistry shines in this hilariously poignant film. 
  5. The Club - Poorly shot and directed film about repenting priests (or not). Didn't work for me.
  6. The Girl In The Car With The Glasses And A Gun - Stylish. Hard to like; impossible to hate.
  7. Close-up - Abbas Kiarostami's masterpiece is what docufiction should be. Left me speechless.
  8. The Traveler - Kiarostami's first. A boy experiences life. Surpasses 400 Blows in my opinion.
  9. The Lady In The Van - Despite Maggie Smith's presence, you never feel it. Awful last half.
  10. L'Eclisse - Antonioni's third part of "Trilogy," doesn't work at all, yet is revered as a top film.
  11. A Day In The Country - Renoir's 40 minute short is almost perfect, but feels like a feature.
  12. Ugetsu - Mizoguchi's feels as if the ending was made for the West at end, despite beauty.
  13. Taste of Cherry - Kiarostami's Cannes success is wonderfully simple, until that ending.
  14. They Look Like People - Microbudget horror, offensive in its depiction of mental illness.
  15. Zoombies - Zombie zoo, but these are endangered species. It's as bad as it sounds.
  16. The Revenant - Absolutely awful. Iranittu's ego is all we feel. The visuals, we've seen before.
  17. The Witch - Borders on greatness and rubbish. The final two scenes are unnecessary. 
  18. Mustang - Turkish coming-of-age story about five sisters. Painful at times, but beautiful.
  19. Samsara - Easily one of the greatest documentaries. Beautiful, no dialogue, but says so much.
  20. Beyond The Black Rainbow - Tries so hard to be special, but feels like an 80's gimmick.
  21. Alleluia - French horror love story, delivers with great acting and vicious violence. Very good.
  22. Pickpocket -Bresson's tale of a petty thief is revered for things I don't believe were intended.
  23. Frozen - Disney failure. Feels at times like an anti-feminist film, then bails at the end.
  24. Playtime - Tati's visual feast, left me hungry. Silly monotony, felt like a bad Monty Python skit.
Top Three: Son of Saul, Mustang, Close-Up, Samsara (all perfect 10's)
Bottom Three: Star Wars: The Force Awakens, They Look Like People, Beyond the Black Rainbow
Biggest Surprise: The Witch
Biggest Letdown: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I would also like to add this....if I ever go back to school for film study, my thesis will be on how Frozen is the most anti-feminist, anti-disabilities and most misogynistic movie I've ever seen. I'm still angry about this, but have been told by many to.....Let It Go! 

Monday, May 2, 2016

April 2016 Movies

  1. Bridge Of Spies - Hanks' best role since Big, but movie loses steam trying to appeal to masses.
  2. Vegucated - Funny, thoughtful look at the importance of convincing people to go vegan.
  3. The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie - Style over substance is influential, but club scenes drag.
  4. The Exterminating Angel - Bunuel's look at upper class fragility and the results. Fascinating!
  5. The End Of Summer - Ozu's penultimate film, is funny, charming and ends beautifully.
  6. The Hallow - Truly horrible, but distracted by beautiful co-star.
  7. Chi-Raq - Spike Lee combines Do The Right Thing with School Daze and Greek tragedy.
  8. Steve Jobs - Fassbender, co-stars, direction and cinematography are A-plus. Best of 2015.
  9. Almost Mercy - Need some humor and misses the mark consistently, but solid lead.
  10. The Conspiracy - Great idea, solid start and then becomes a cheap ambiguous mess.
  11. A Woman Under The Influence - Cassavetes' masterpiece. Rowlands and Falk are superb.
  12. The Forest - Great premise and decent acting can't save this disaster. Awful. 
  13. Brooklyn - Saoirse Ronan shines, but movie lacks drama. Cute story, but expected more.
  14. Hush - So many plot holes and errors, but charismatic lead makes it worthwhile. 
  15. Gertrud - Dreyer's last didn't work for me at all. Sight and Sound has it in their top 50.
  16. The Brood - Early Cronenberg is dated and silly, missing all marks in big spots.
  17. Pather Panchali - One of the most aesthetically pleasing black and white films ever. Emotional!
  18. Asian Schoolgirls - Was told it was a gory action film, rivaling horror. It's pure exploitation.
  19. Sunshine - Boyle's sci-fi film publicly hailed for accuracy, but accuracy doesn't mean it's good.
  20. No Regrets For Our Youth - Kurosawa directs. Hara stars and gives the an epic performance.
  21. The Secret Rules Of Modern Living: Algorithms - Fun. Starts of great, but fizzles out. 
  22. God's Pocket - Looks good on paper, but it's bad from start to finish. PSH's last. A shame.
  23. Dream Home - Chinese slasher that makes up for silly plot with amazing violence and gore.
  24. Shoah - The most important documentary of all-time. Long, painful, but heart wrenching. 
  25. In The Heart Of The Sea - Horrible in every way. When was the last time Howard shined?
Special Note: Shoah is the most important documentary of all-time. Is it enjoyable? Not a single second of it is. It's heartbreaking and it's nearly 10 hours long. It is a film that will change how you look at the human condition; both good and bad.

Top Three: Steve Jobs, Pather Panchali, No Regrets for our Youth
Bottom Three: The Hallow, Sunshine, In the Heart of the Sea
Biggest Surprise: Shoah
Biggest Letdown: God's Pocket

Sunday, April 10, 2016

It Would Have Been Her Happiest Day

This Friday, my niece was born. I received the message via text, with a picture attached. I cried. I was so overcome with happiness, I couldn't contain it. Later that day, I finally spoke to my brother and he told me all was well. He is not close enough for me to see this wonderful addition and with the way we've all become robots to technology, I've not even spoken to my sister-in-law yet. Everything has been through our phones, but very few voices have been heard and I am anxious to hear her coos and giggles, cries and sighs. It will, I imagine, melt my heart.

Yesterday, I had a different feeling and it shook me; physically. I knew it was coming, but I wasn't ready for how it came upon me. Someone mentioned their parents "not being ready to be grandparents" yet and I laughed, told them they have time and went down to make myself some lunch. As I sat in the kitchen, I thought about my brother and his wife, staring in wonder at the life they created and the sadness came over me. That very moment, would have been the greatest day of her my mother's life. Better than her wedding, the birth of my brother and I (both adopted, so she couldn't give us that guilt trip) and anything else. My brother's graduation from college is what kept her alive as long as she was. I'm still convinced of this. The thought of her picking this little girl up and never ever wanting to put her down, made me quite sad. I felt dizzy, couldn't eat and decided to lay down.

I think about how my grandmothers, for all their faults, loved my brother and I so completely and unconditionally. No matter how much we took their presence, or presents, for granted, they loved us more the next time they saw us. My mother wouldn't have been able to hide this. Anything this child needed, my mother would have given her and without ever thinking of the sacrifices. Much like she gave to my brother and I, despite pain, both physical and emotional, she'd have done anything for this child. I'm not one who believes she is looking down or has a hand in the future, but I just hope, that one day, I am in a position, to give this child a fraction of the love she would have received from my mother. I wish I could do everything with even a hint of the love my mother did things with. It won't ever be the same, but for her, for both of them, I'll try.

Friday, April 1, 2016

March 2016 Movies

  1. Room - Cliche driven, poorly written script can't be saved by wonderful acting. 
  2. Bedevilled - Korean drama/horror works in many ways, but that ending really bothered me.
  3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier - shockingly bad, after solid first film. 
  4. The Trial - Welles' adaptation of Kafka novel as metaphor for Nazi Germany. Perkins shines.
  5. Last Shift - Underrated horror flick, with very solid performance by star and unnerving tension.
  6. Indigenous - Panama Jungle meets The Descent. Yep! Aside from good looking women, a dud.
  7. Criminal Minds: Season 9 - Repetitive, but character development and chemistry is its charm.
  8. Macbeth - Poorly adapted script and too much scenery, makes play lose all play quality.
  9. Crimson Peak - First complete letdown from Del Toro. One of the worst movies I've ever seen.
  10. Hannibal Buress: Comedy Camisado - Very slow start, but the last 20 minutes is hilarious. 
  11. The Tribe - Sign language...no subtitles. One of the most bizarre films ever. Troubling.
  12. Up - Emotionally charged for Pixar film, but the guts of it were lacking. 
  13. Memories of the Sword - Typical plot in genre, but stunningly beautiful final 30 minutes.
  14. Black Mass - Depp's best role since Fear and Loathing, adds to strong cast delivering.
  15. The Big Short - One of the finest adapted screenplays ever. Funny, brilliant and true - scary.
  16. Dead Friend (The Ghost) - Korean horror lacks rhythm. The frenetic ending doesn't work.
  17. Carol - Todd Haynes directs Blanchett and Mara to near perfection. Subtle power!
  18. Trumbo - Couldn't finish. Arguably one of the worst movies I've ever seen. Cranston is awful.
  19. Avalanche Sharks - Absolutely idiotic, but some truly funny lines, especially towards the end. 
  20. Floating Weeds - Ozu remakes his own and excels in using color to bring it to life.
  21. He Never Died - Henry Rollins as Cain. Sounds interesting and it is, for about 15 minutes.
  22. Twenty-Four Eyes - Japanese tale of teacher's effect on children and theirs on her. Powerful.
  23. Spotlight - Oscar winner delivers, but few too many soft touches, where I wanted more. 
  24. Black House - Korean horror takes over an hour to deliver any chills. Waste of time.
  25. Captive - Mara and Oyelowo do their best, but they are working with a thin plan. Fails!
  26. Stranger By The Lake - French erotic thriller, with lots of gay sex and very little plot. Dud!
  27. Suffragette - Starts solidly, but falls apart. No passion from female director and writer.
  28. Circle - Clever horror/thriller takes serious look at prejudice, with possibly bigger implications.
  29. The Hateful Eight - Tarantino's worst movie to date and a complete clunker. Zero good to say.
  30. Legend - Tom Hardy plays dual role as the Kray Brothers. Needed more Browning and mum.
  31. Cowspiracy - Solid, frustrating documentary that looks at the food industries scary power.
Top Three: Twenty-Four Eyes, The Big Short, Carol
Bottom Three: Crimson Peak, The Hateful Eight, Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Biggest Surprise: Black Mass
Biggest Letdown: TIE - Crimson Peak and The Hateful Eight