03 January 2016

In Movie Lines (with Movies from 2015, Some Spielberg,...and Links): New Year's Week

Movies I've Watched

December 27th, 2015 - January 2nd, 2016

Movies from 2015

Dir. David O. Russell

Well, this one was a major letdown for me. It had its moments and a handful of great performances, but the story left a lot to be desired and the picture just didn't amount to much for me. Full review here

The Big Short
Dir. Adam McKay

For serving my own interests in the colossal cluster-fuck that is America's economy, I recently named this the Best Movie of 2015. That won't change. It won its place for taking on such a complex subject and making it relatable and fun and hilarious and utterly maddening. Full review here

Dir. Jason Moore

My wife had been dying to see this movie. We both adore Fey and Poehler, plus she wanted to do a double date night with her sister and her husband. So, we made it happen. My thoughts will be featured in an upcoming post about the last three movies I saw in 2015, all featuring strong female leads. 

Dir. Todd Haynes

I'm pretty sure my first words to my wife after we left our screening of Todd Haynes' latest masterpiece were, "That was a lovely movie." And it really is just beautiful, both visually and narratively. More to come in the forthcoming post I mentioned above. 

Dir. John Crowley

Even more lovely, for me, was Brooklyn. This is everything you want in a movie romance, classic filmmaking filled with humor, the pleasure and pain of true love, and a perfect performance from Saoirse Ronan. Again, more to come on this one. 

Dir. Doug Ellin

[Insert fart noise.] Ugh. What a terrible sendoff for the boys of HBO's Entourage. Easily one of the worst movies of 2015. It makes the mistake of trying way too hard to fit in all the in-jokes and callbacks to the series instead of focusing on making a story about really fun characters that I came to love quite a bit during the seven season run of the series. It plays like an entire season of the show crammed into a 100 minute movie. It had a few funny moments, but not even Haley Joel Osment and Billy Bob Thornton could save this mess. 

Mistress America
Dir. Noah Baumbach

I really wanted to like this movie more. After the incredible success of Frances Ha, a movie I consider a comedic masterpiece, I had high hopes for the next Noah Baumbach/Greta Gerwig vehicle. Sadly, I just had a hard time connecting to it. A lot of the dialogue felt really overwritten in a trying too hard sort of way, and some of the scenes just felt overlong, and, oddly, at the same time, forced. It's a bizarre little movie (sometimes delightfully so), but I couldn't tell if that was on purpose or not. ★★


Pineapple Express
Dir. David Gordon Green, 2008

I just want to thank the Movie Gods for marrying Seth Rogen's brand of comedy to the North Carolina film school boys in David Gordon Green, cinematographer Tim Orr, and the comedic genius that is Danny McBride. This movie holds up so well. Just pure off-the-wall, stoner comedy at its finest. James Franco's work in this movie is brilliant. And that final scene in the diner is one of my favorite scenes in any comedy ever. 

Jackie Brown
Dir. Quentin Tarantino, 1997

I'm still working on finishing up my Tarantino retrospective. I took another look at Jackie Brown this past week, and it is soooooo great. It is just such a detailed film, full of great dialogue and featuring the finest needle drop soundtrack of them all. It looks incredible without the all the showing off Quentin has become so accustomed to of late. 

Three from Spielberg

For Christmas, as she usually does, my wife pulled our family members together to buy me Steven Spielberg's entire filmography on Blu-Ray (minus a couple). So, one of my goals for 2016 is to revisit (or, in some cases, watch for the first time) all of Spielberg in order to achieve what will become the true flagship post in my Directed by... series. 

One of my focuses is to look at just how wonderful Spielberg and his collaborators in the camera department are with LIGHT. I'll let the screen caps below do the talking. And I'll say that I am loving this retrospective so far. 

Schindler's List

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom


Fisti has an epic music of 2015 post...The 2015 Mouthi Awards.

Kevin and company at Pop Depravity has a Ten Best List of 2015 in Pop Culture

Surrender to the Void has a solid Unofficial Best Films of 2015

Sati at Cinematic Corner gave Indiana Jones some love.

Ruth at FlixChatter has some great pick in her Top Ten Best.  

The Numbers

I watched 231 movies in 2015.

2015 Releases - 35

Re-Watched - 87

First-Timers - 109

Movies I've Watched Since the Ball Dropped - 2

What have you been watching?


  1. Other than the Spielberg stuff, I've only seen Jackie Brown and Pineapple Express. I love JB, but PE, not so much. I get that everyone else seems to. Just didn't quite work for me. At least it didn't when it I saw it back in '08. I'm open to revisiting it, though. Great post.

    1. Revisit Pineapple Express, man. It is a totally original action comedy. Nothing else like it ever.

  2. Love how much you love The Big Short, even if it's not one of my favorites (I really like it, and Bale is SUPERB). Cannot wait for Carol to destroy me. LOVE Haynes.

    Thanks for the link, bro!

    1. Oh, you'll feel the love, man. Can't wait to hear your thoughts. I know you'll love it.

      No prob.

  3. Your mentioning of your intent to see all of Spielberg's work made me wonder how many I've seen. I've never really thought about it but a quick look at his IMDB entry and colored me surprised that I've seen almost everything including all but one of his TV movies! Looks like I'm going to have to break down and watch The Terminal, which I've rarely heard anything good about, and Adventures of Tintin, grrr, they're the only ones I'm missing. It also reminded me how much I detested Sugarland Express!

    Your mention of his use of light made me wonder if you've seen his first directing job, one of the segments of the pilot for the TV series Night Gallery called "Eyes" with Joan Crawford and Tom Bosley? It's not perfect but shows a lot of promise and its underlying theme is light and vision. Crawford, a tough old buffalo by this point who did NOT suffer fools gladly, was full of praise for him saying "He was just a kid but he knew what he was doing and did a good job. Of all those dreadful horror films I made the mistake of starring in its the only one I liked."

    1. The Sugarland Express is on my shelf, and I plan to give it a go soon. I hope your wrong...for my sake. Lol.

      As for The Terminal...very minor Spielberg, but I found it quite charming. Not a BAD movie by any stretch. Tintin I have straight avoided. I am not a big animation guy to begin with, especially the motion-capture variety. That will probably be the last one I watch.

      Interesting bit about that early work of his. Need to make sure I try to find that one. My goal is to do an epic Spielberg post by the end of 2016, so be on the lookout.

    2. There's another of his early TV movies that is really worth checking out called Something Evil, almost a precursor to Poltergeist. I haven't seen it in years but it freaked me out when I watched a rerun of it at far too young an age on the late night movie when I was a kid.

      I just found out its on YouTube! So I'll be giving it a re-watch. Like so many of those Movies of the Week in the 70's this one has a great cast, Sandy Dennis, Darren McGavin and Ralph Bellamy among others.

      Here's the link:


  4. Most of these newer film I still have to see but I am not hearing much Joy about Joy but then again, it is about a gal who invented a better mop. Really want to see The Big Short. Pineapple Express is funny and Spielberg has some greats like Schindler's List and Empire of the Sun

    1. Joy is worth a watch. Some really loved it. I didn't, but I loved a lot about it. Empire of the Sun is one I haven't seen and will watch soon.

  5. Great post! You have me wanting to watch The Big Short, Carol, and Brooklyn.

    1. Oh, yes. Please watch all of those. Thanks!

  6. Loved The Big Short. Loved Brooklyn. Loved Joy. Seeing Carol this weekend, along with The Revenant.

    Pineapple Express is one of my favorite comedies. The scene with Ed Begley Jr. makes me laugh so hard every time.

    I've only seen a few Spielberg. I'll catch up on a lot of them this year.

    Haven't seen Mistress America. I really want to watch Frances Ha.

    I saw The Hateful Eight this weekend in 70mm. Just pure excellence. Hopefully Tarantino releases both the 70mm cut on Blu-ray.

    Re-watched Bowling for Columbine this weekend. Still my favorite documentary of all time.

    1. Glad to see you're catching up...like me. So many good late 2015/early 2016 releases. I am seeing The Revenant on Friday night and can't wait. Frances Ha is terrific. Hope you catch it soon. It was streaming on Netflix awhile back. Not sure if it's still there. I'm going back to see The Hateful Eight again this weekend. It demands another watch before I can gather my thoughts. Something about it didn't work the first time, except the wonderful 70mm.

    2. Yeah. I have Frances Ha on Criterion Blu-Ray so I'll probably watch it this weekend. And I'm so freaking pumped for The Revenant.

  7. Hey thanks so much for the link love. Wow you saw quite a lot in December. Glad you enjoyed The Big Short too and I agree w/ what you said about it, that's why it's in my top 10 of the year.