Progress Status Check

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While I’m terrible about writing new reviews to keep up with the things I’ve been watching, I’ve at least been watching movies every month and updating the tracking list for 2015. Although I don’t think many people are actually following these reviews and thusly don’t feel a responsibility to keep things updated, I have been remiss in sharing my thoughts about what I’ve seen. Part of the problem with that is that my unofficial goal if reaching 100 films by year’s end might not get reached because I haven’t been paying enough attention to it.

So now December is going to be something of a sprint.

A little more than a dozen films? Shouldn’t be too tough. It’s roughly one every three days, with a few of my off-days also needing a viewing to stay on track. Heck, I did far better than that back in the Decembers of 2012 and 2013.

Now, onto the matter of being grossly negligent since July, here are a few thoughts on a selection of things I saw each of the past few months.

August

Foxcatcher had great performances, and the storyline was interesting, but it didn’t feel like a great film. Maybe it was the pacing or the direction or cinematography. It had all the ingredients, but fell short of its potential.

Plenty to say about Selma, but I’m working on a bigger article covering the various movies I saw this year on the topic of race relations. The Hundred-Foot Journey, Crash, Fruitvale Station, The Butler, 12 Years A Slave, and Selma… it’s a good list. I even thought about adding in Maleficent, but with the gravity of the other films involved, it just doesn’t fell right. Still on the fence with my decision whether or not to include Imitation Game because of the discrimination aspect.

Monsters University was entertaining, but certainly inferior to its predecessor.

The Diving Bell And The Butterfly deserves its critical acclaim, as it was a special movie in a few different ways (performances and presentation), but the ending was one of the worst endings I’ve ever seen. I realize it’s based on a true story, but the way the ending is presented felt like someone pulled the plug and just inserted some stock footage.

I didn’t hate The Fantastic Four as much as a lot of people did. Sure, there are some serious problems with it, namely Dr. Doom, but there were a lot of things about it that I really, really liked. The first third of the film was excellent (for a comic book origin flick).

It’s no Stand And Deliver, but Spare Parts was enjoyably inspirational. If it wasn’t based on a true story, it might be a little goofy.

I had always heard that Serpico was good, but never knew what it was about. I tend to think that with the amount of corruption still in our government today, this film absolutely holds up to the test of time.

My expectations for Stand By Me were too high going into the movie. It was a nice film, but certainly not one of my favorites. I can understand why so many people put it near the top of their lists, and it’s absolutely a “must see” on serious movie-watching resumes.

September

I’m really hoping that a sequel to The Man From U.N.C.L.E. gets announced, because it was a lot of fun. Way more enjoyable than any of the recent James Bond films (though not as good as Skyfall, I’d certainly say it’s as good as Spectre, if not better).

The previews for White House Down made it look like it was going to be an enjoyable rollercoaster ride, and it absolutely was. Enjoyed every minute of it.

I still can’t believe that the movie Frank made a guy relate-able who sings crazy songs while wearing a huge plaster head and lives a reclusive life (even apart from the rest of his band), but they did it. The film’s not great, but it includes a Viking funeral, so I can respect that.

Initially I had very low expectations for Kingsmen: The Secret Service, and even after I heard good reviews, my expectations were still modest. What I found was yet another great spy flick that will hopefully spawn at least one sequel. It was an incredibly fun ride in completely different ways than The Man From U.N.C.L.E. from earlier in the month.

Kill The Messenger was scary in the fact that it was a true story and how the government can ruin someone’s life just because they don’t like the news someone has dug up through investigative reporting. Let’s just hope this type of thing is in the past.

Fury was one of the most gritty films I’ve ever seen, and a perfect film to help people understand what war is really like.

October

Bad Teacher had its moments, but was largely dreck.

I understand where people were upset with casting choices from Aloha, but my disappointment was because I expected far more from the guy who gave us Almost Famous.

The Martian was a great book and an excellently crafted flick. Watching this, Gravity and Interstellar could make for a really terrifying and beautiful and entertaining day.

The Intern wasn’t great, but Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro have some good chemistry together. Yet again a film gets put together with very little regard for how the whole thing is going to finish up. The ending was pathetic.

Having never seen anything with Mr. Peabody & Sherman, I didn’t know what to expect, but it was entertaining. Certainly not a great flick that is going to be a classic. I’m not even sure it’ll result in a sequel.

Results isn’t one of my personal favorites, but I’m glad I got to see this lesser-known-but-enjoyable film with Guy Pearce and Cobie Smulders.

November

The Equalizer didn’t have many different notes to hit, but in terms of revenge flicks, it met the need. Way more enjoyable than Man On Fire, which might’ve been a better flick, but it wasn’t as fun to watch.

I’m not a huge fan of The Beach Boys, but the Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy was a great film with a few exceptional performances. Paul Dano, Jon Cusack and Paul Giamatti each deserve consideration for Best Actor / Supporting Actor nods.

While Spectre didn’t live up to what Skyfall accomplished, it was still far more enjoyable than a lot of reviewers have given it credit for. Everyone I’ve talked to about the film enjoyed the direction they went with Bond in this installment.

The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby was a great concept and had great performances, but the HIM version was far better than the HER version. Some people debate which version to watch first, but there shouldn’t even be a discussion. It’s absolutely the HIM version, because without it, the HER version makes no sense, and honestly the HER version is sloppily constructed.

If you enjoy any of the old Peanuts television specials, you should enjoy The Peanuts Movie. It hit on a few key themes, told a great story, had some fun call-backs, and the ending was everything I wanted it to be.

Some aspects of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978) were really great and show why it’s a classic. Other parts were hard to follow or were just superfluous.

Hoodwinked Too was decent and had an interesting twist, but it was nowhere near as good as its predecessor.

Things to come

How great is it that December will include a NEW Star Wars film!?!

Also looking forward to seeing CREED, The Big Short, Spotlight, and Rope.

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