10 January 2016

In Movie Lines (with Movies from 2015 and Fantasy Football): January 3- January 9

Movies I've Watched

January 3rd - January 9th, 2016

2015 Movies (or All I Watched Last Week)

Dir. Sean Baker, 2015

Such a cool, fascinating film, Sean Baker's Tangerine is experimental (filmed exclusively on three iPhone 6's), fast-paced (an understatement), sometimes harsh, mostly hilarious, fully heartfelt. It really is a rare thing. It follows a transgender prostitute and her friend on a journey through a Los Angeles hardly seen to find their pimp, the former's "boyfriend." It is a crazy piece of new indie cinema. It is streaming on Netflix. ★ 1/2 

Dir. John Francis Daley 
and Jonathan M. Goldstein, 2015

Well, it has a few moments, and I didn't want to turn it off, but overall this is another failed re-boot attempt. For every gag it gets right, it gets five wrong. It couldn't even get a Chevy Chase cameo to work. If nothing else, it rekindled my love affair (since the age of 11) with Seal's "Kiss from a Rose" and the same (since the age of 8) with Christina Applegate. (She just keeps getting hotter.)

Get Hard
Dir. Etan Cohen, 2015

Speaking of hotties, how about Alison Brie, out of nowhere, in this piece of crap Will Ferrell-Kevin Hart failure. I love her work. From Community to Mad Men to The Kings of Summer to this, where she is just used for her hotness, and her presence is the only thing that works. I honestly stopped watching it after the first 30 minutes or so. 1/2 ★  

McFarland, USA
Dir. Niki Caro, 2015

Now, this little gem really did come out of nowhere. As "sports movies" go, it is as good as it gets. The key is director Niki Caro (Whale Rider, North Country, neither of which I've seen). This movie is spot-on in tone and never budges. It works on our emotions with less sports and more heart. Kevin Costner's performance is perfect, a role made for him. And this supporting cast of young Mexican-American actors was great as well. Costner plays a failed high school football coach, who takes a job in a small farming town in California. He quickly realizes that football is not happening in this town. But cross country? That's another thing entirely. I would put this up there with some of the best sports movies. ★ 1/2 

A Brief Glimpse Into My Life This Week

So, I play Fantasy Football every year. I love it. In case you don't follow the NFL, the Carolina Panthers dominated the regular season, finishing 15-1. Quarterback Cam Newton, my Fantasy quarterback, a later round pick as a backup for me, just blew up this season. He single-handedly won my league for me. So, with part of my winnings,...Date Night! Below is what I had at, for me, Knoxville, Tennessee's best steakhouse, a place called Connor's...Ultimate Bloody Mary, Surf 'n' Turf (Lobster Tail, Boursin Filet, Loaded Potato). My wife had Shrimp and Grits and an amazing looking Mango Margarita. 

The RPX experience at our largest Regal multiplex is the best. Assigned seating put us right in the middle, perfect level to the screen. The chairs are huge, soft and rocking. The film was breathtaking...literally. The audience was great. Perfect night. 

The Revenant
Dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2015

I made no bones about it. I worshipped this movie in my review. It was absolutely punishingly perfect.


The Hateful Eight
Dir. Quentin Tarantino, 2015

I went back. This time in standard digital format. It sure didn't look better that way, but it played better this time. Diminished expectations helped, and I laughed a bit more. But there really are only a couple really good laughs. The rest are uncomfortable chuckles. More on that in my full review... coming mid-week. That is to be followed by my Directed by... post on Tarantino. 

The Numbers

I've watched 8 movies this year, so far.

2016 Releases - 0

Re-Watched - 1

First-Timers - 7

What have you been watching?


  1. Before you do your Taratino review, more specifically, The Hateful Eight, remember this ... We often complain because no one ever seems to be satisfied (think of people's reactions to Star Wars). You said to me,"it didn't have that Taratino punch." If it had, would you have said, "it had that same Tarantino punch. I wish he would branch out a little." I don't think the movie was perfect, but I don't think it was complete shit either.

    1. It's definitely not complete shit. I just think it's a weak effort given all the hype. Quentin needs to tone it down a bit and rely on his abilities as a story teller.

  2. I seriously can't wait to see The Revenant and The Hateful Eight!

    1. Both worth seeing. Hateful Eight is a bit on the meh side for me.

  3. I watched Mulholland Dr. & Lost Highway last week. Both were excellent.

    I'm seeing Carol, The Revenant, & Anomalisa this weekend. All look amazing.

    1. And I also watched a Canadian film called "Bon Cop, Bad Cop". It was hilarious.

    2. Not a Lynch fan at all. Haven't seen Lost Highway, but most of his movies that I have seen don't work for me. Can't wait to hear what you have to say about those three.

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  4. Congrats on your FF championship. Conversely, since I had the last pick in round one in my draft, I jumped at the biggest "sure thing" left on the board, Andrew Luck, lol. Even at that, I started 6-2. Then everyone got hurt, I finished 7-7, and got stomped in the first round of the playoffs I barely made. Sigh.

    Tangerine is wonderful. I hope to have my review up soon. Get Hard was a misfire. So was Vacation, from what I saw. We started watching it pretty late and I fell asleep about halfway through. Haven't gone back to finish, yet. Black or White left such a horrible taste in my mouth, I avoided McFarland, USA. It looked like a second consecutive racially insensitive film starring Kevin Costner. I just wasn't ready for that. I might still check it out. Maybe.

    Really slow start to my movie watching year. The only thing I have watched in full, sorta, is one of those Bring It On movies, whichever one Christina Milian is in. I happened to be sitting there when my daughter pulled it up on Netflix for the umpteenth time.

    1. Dude. I picked Andrew Luck with my second pick. Picked up Newton late round, and he won the season for me. I am a Panthers fan now. Haha! I had very few injuries as well, which kept me alive the whole season. I lost the first playoff week but finished strong in my final three games.

      I urge you to reconsider McFarland, USA. Not racially charged at all. It embraces the community depicted, and, in turn, embraces these characters, white and Hispanic.

      I actually love the original Bring It On movie with Kirsten Dunst. Really solid comedy. The sequels...no! Lol.

  5. Wow. You went back to see Hateful 8 a second time? I don't think I could put myself through that. The final act just about ruined the whole thing for me.

    Really, really, really liked Tangerine, as you'll see on my blog... soon-ish. :)

    1. As a Tarantino lover from the beginning, I felt I had to. Thought maybe I missed something. Not really. It is incredibly weak and way too over-the-top, even for QT standards.

      Looking forward to your thoughts on Tangerine. Really strange, excellent little vibrant piece of cinema.

  6. Yikes! I've seen none of these! I'm still thinking about The Revenant, the previews I've seen have done nothing for me but I really like Tom Hardy so maybe. On the best of days I'm indifferent to Taratino films and there has been so much negative talk about Hateful 8 I really have no desire.

    What I've been watching relates to a crazy little personal project I've been hacking away at for years. I'm sure it comes as no surprise that I'm an classic movie fan and I compiled a list of about 100 favorite performers (mostly actresses but a few actors) and their films. I've slowly been trying to watch all their filmographies, some have been a much easier than others but except for a very, very few (Judy Garland, Doris Day and Mae West) none have been a snap. Even stars who were major leads (Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe & Kate Hepburn) throughout most of their careers have one or two elusive titles but I've still managed to complete 18 and am thisclose on 10 more.

    Anyway for some reason this week was extremely fruitful and I managed to locate, either through TCM showings on online, 14 films of those various performers. I can't say they've all been classics. There's probably only two or three of this crop that I would watch again, and some downright painful, one called Babes in Bagdad!! was especially weak but as a bonus it did have Gypsy Rose Lee in one of her few acting roles...many of the low rent films that some stars finish their careers in don't even have something as kitschy as that! But I'm on a mission so I've suffered though garbage like The Nesting, Dear Dead Delilah and Flesh Feast but I've also been rewarded with finding hidden gems like The Macomber Affair and 5 Steps to Danger while on my search.

    So after that little booklet of preamble these are the films I've seen this week (with the star that got me watching):

    Istanbul (Errol Flynn)
    Deep Waters (Jean Peters)
    Make Your Own Bed (Jane Wyman)
    Crime by Night (Jane Wyman & Eleanor Parker)
    Eye of the Cat (Eleanor Parker)
    Music is Magic (Alice Faye)
    Suddenly, It’s Spring & Babes in Bagdad (Paulette Goddard)
    Red Canyon & The Golden Horde (Ann Blyth)
    Victory (Betty Field)
    Man Without a Star & Second Honeymoon (Claire Trevor)
    Alice in Wonderland (Cary Grant)

    That last one was a mind bender! Made in 1933 before Cary really broke through it had impressive set design and everybody was in full costumes that approximated the illustrations in the original Lewis Carroll book. Cary was the Mock Turtle and completely hidden in his costume. It was a star studded affair with W. C. Fields as Humpty Dumpty, Gary Cooper as The White Knight, Edward Everett Horton as The Mad Hatter and on and on. Bizarre but fascinating.

    1. Joel, man!, I am truly in awe of your undertaking here. Impressive. I one day hope to be able to start going back in time to catch up with so many classic films with great performers. I haven't even heard of the Alice in Wonderland with Cary Grant. Sounds amazing! I wrote a huge research paper on Through the Looking Glass in college and have been fascinated with Carroll's work ever since. I refuse to see these Burton versions though. I can't stand his movies, for the most part, and I don't really like where he's gone with those.

      As for The Revenant, I am completely in awe of it. It has a macho vibe that is turning some people off, but that time and that job (fur trapping) demands such. It is just an astounding piece of cinema. If you do decide to see it, go to a theater and see it on the biggest screen possible. Breathtaking cinematography, man. The Hateful Eight is a big miss for Tarantino, and I usually love his work.

    2. Oh with that background with Lewis Carroll's work you should really see the '33 version of Alice if possible. It was a TCM premiere, part of their Friday Night Spotlight series on production design. The main writer of this version was William Cameron Menzies who coined the term production designer and his original script was fully illustrated and weighed in at about 20 pounds!

      I forget who the expert guest they had on who had selected the film but Robert Osborne has one of the original scripts in his lap during the intro and he paged through it briefly. Just astonishing! He said the actors complained that it was too unwieldy to work with and a shooting script was provided for them but a few of the originals managed to survive. It really was an impressive achievement especially considering the time period it was made and I'm sure you'd probably get a tremendous amount out of it all things considered.

      I've also avoided the Tim Burton films, so many people referred to it as Eyesore in Wonderland it just killed any interest I had. I've also stayed away from his remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I can't imagine any better take on it than the Gene Wilder Willy Wonka and from the tidbits I've seen I think it would just piss me off.

  7. Nice week overall...and I'm so jealous of your Revanant viewing...BUT...I think I did get confirmation that the wife is allowing me the day to myself in order to see this so...two weeks...TWO WEEKS!!!

    1. Hell yeah, son! Kitchen pass for the win. Can't wait to hear what you have to say about it.

  8. I....like Get Hard-hahahaaa-Yes, it will never win awards and is supremely stupid but it made me laugh. I can't wait to see The Revanant. I watched a documentary on Doris Day done by Germans who visited the German town her family comes from. I watched 42 which was quite good (I thought) and Downton Abbey

    1. I would usually love a Will Ferrell comedy. This one didn't land at all. In fact, he's in a bit of slump for me. I really dug 42, as a huge baseball history guy. Really thoughtful film. Never watched Downton Abbey. My Mom is a huge fan.

  9. I actually happen to really dislike three of the movies here. Tangerine, Get Hard and Vacation. Glad we're on agreement that The Revenant needs to be worshipped