15 February 2016

In Movie Lines (with a Never-Ending Winter, Peyton Manning, some Dope...and Links)

Movies I've Watched

January 31st - February 13th

A Yearly Re-Watch

Groundhog Day
Dir. Harold Ramis, 1993

I have to do it...every year. What is it about this movie that just makes it better and better every single time? Could it be the repetitive nature of the narrative itself? Is it Bill Murray's absolute sarcastic perfection? It doesn't really matter. I can't get enough of this movie, and I'm fine with that. 

"Don't mess with me, pork chop."

"I told you. Call me Bronco." 

Thank You, Peyton Manning

Congratulations are in order for the Denver Broncos. No thanks to Peyton Manning. He didn't play well. He's decidedly over the hill. But we still love him. We like having him around. By "we," I mean all of us, but especially my people, the people who love the University of Tennessee's football program. 

You can thank us. We gave you Peyton, and Peyton gave his all to us. Then...he continued to do so. Over 18 seasons as an NFL quarterback, he has shattered about every major record, won two Super Bowls, graced the stages of late night talk shows and killed it on SNL. Plus, all those great TV commercials. All while being a good family man, who just wants to kick back on Super Bowl Sunday with "a lot of Budweisers." You can't beat it. He's a role model. 

If you haven't felt the love already, I urge you to read Russell Wilson's (quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks) note of thanks to Mr. Manning and what he has meant to so many players and fans throughout his career. 

I know Eli didn't feel it too strongly, at least on his face, but even he loves his big bro. I'm sure of it. 

2015 Movies

The Gift
Dir. Joel Edgerton

If you're one who thinks Jason Bateman is pretty much always playing an asshole, then see this one, where he ends up as the asshole to end all assholes. Simon is actually a remarkable role for him. It gives us that dark edge he always seems to have underneath. Joel Edgerton steals the show here though as both a performer, playing a creepy "weirdo" named Gordo, and as director. The suspense this thing carries actually weighs the room down. Not an easy feat. I didn't love this movie, at least not like so many others. But, as it sat, I got more out of it. ★★★

Dir. Antoine Fuqua

The things that turned me off in the trailers for this movie (Gyllenhaal's hood inflection, McAdams being cast at all) really ended up working. This is just another in a long, now never-ending line of strong leading turns from Gyllenhaal, and McAdams delivers the single most powerful moment this film as to offer. I loved the first act of this movie. Tonally perfect. After that moment, this thing devolves into cliché-ville. It's never bad. And the boxing matches are just brutal. (I'm talking Raging Bull in color without all the flashbulbs.) But I expected more, especially since we got a truly great boxing movie this year in Creed. ★★★

Dir. Rick Famuyiwa

I was on a high after this movie. I didn't think too deeply about it. The negativity I've read of this movie seems to want to focus on what they wished it had done, instead of what it does wrong. The thing it does wrong is throw way too much out. You've already got this nice Risky Business in the hood thing going on. Plus, a nice touch of Superbad. Then, you have all this great originality in character and setting, simply because we don't get to see it that much. I'm not sure the overly-violent drug-dealing blackmail plot really needed to happen. But I even had fun with that, so whatever. Like I said, I was high on this movie...And Zoe Kravitz. She is truly the second coming of her mother, one of my great childhood crushes...the one and only Lisa Bonet. The resemblance here is uncanny. ★★★ 1/2

Dark Places
Dir. Gilles Paquet-Brenner

This is what happens when you take Gillian Flynn's worst novel (even though it's not that bad) and cram it into a two hour movie where everybody comes off as just going through the motions. The cast is great. And director Paquet-Brenner knows how to ride a mood. The problem is with the screenplay not figuring out how to movie this thing, and the editing in which everything gets smushed together. The book is deliberate in always telling where and when we are. The movie just lazily puts the book on the screen with very little care for the tricky nature of Flynn's writing. Still, it's never boring and works as a highly engaging, more "made for TV," thriller. ★★ 1/2

Hot Tub Time Machine 2
Dir. Steve Pink

My wife and I went to see the original Hot Tub Time Machine on our first date. We were already friends, so it was not an odd choice for a first date. I assure you. I'm not that bad a person. It was her idea. Anyway, we've always had such a fondness for it, and it really is a genius, almost surreal, comedic experience. There is nothing like it. The sequel tries to follow in that vein. And almost gets back to it. It's a shame they couldn't do without the projectile vomit and other fluids. There is a clever time travel comedy in here somewhere. It's just coated with, well, just name it. ★ 1/2

2016 Begins

Hail, Caesar!
Dir. Joel and Ethan Coen

The Coen Brothers are back as far as I'm concerned, though, for me, they never left. They've yet to make a movie I downright hate. This one is almost impossible to hate, though I've heard from a few that were near there with it. There is a bit of a fault in that it does way too much and gets messy, detracting from the message it wants us to take away, but what a glorious mess. Check out my full review


Fisti at A Fistful of Films has some thoughts on some things.

Jordan at Epileptic Moondancer reviews Anomalisa

Dell at Dell on Movies has a blogathon going, the Acting Black Blogathon.

Brittany at Rambling Film talks some new TV. 

ConMan at the Movies ranks the Adapted Screenplay Nominees.

Sati at Cinematic Corner talks Harrison Ford, new laws in Michigan, and Oscar speeches.

The Numbers

I've watched 38 movies this year, so far.

2016 Releases - 1

Re-Watched - 9

First-Timers - 28

What have you been watching?


  1. I'm glad you liked The Gift too. That film really surprised me. I enjoyed Dope and Dark Places as well, Southpaw was a bit disappointing. Thanks for the link!

    1. We are right on with all of these movies. No problem.

  2. I want to see The Gift because I like Jason Bateman. Southpaw is another film I wouldn't mind seeing and I really want to see Hail, Caesar. I have seen a few films so far but I have not marked them down which is silly. I have seen Star Wars-Like the 2 young leads-Han Solo and Leia's kid need a spanking. The Revenant is great and I would be floored if Leo doesn't win. Now I will go and watch Sicario

    1. Oh, Sicario is so good. I hope you liked it.

  3. It's been a long time since I've watched Groundhog Day. Great film, though. Murray kills it. Glad you enjoyed Dope. The whole thing just makes me giddy. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 was just awful.

    Congrats to Peyton Manning. I've always been a big fan of his so I'm not mad that he won another ring even though I was rooting against him. I'm a Giants fan, but I also pull for the Panthers since I've been living in NC since before they were around. Peyton's throws look like they'll never get there so I hope he does hang it up.

    Thanks for the link!!!

    1. Agreed all around on Groundhog Day, Dope, and HTTM2.

      I actually jumped on the Panthers bandwagon myself this season, since Cam was my fantasy QB and so much fun to watch. Had to root for the Broncos and Peyton though. Nice curtain call for Peyton, if this is it.

      No problem!

  4. I watched all the Final Destination movies last week. So bad, but so good.

    Saw Deadpool on Friday. Awesome.

    Re-watching The 40-Year Old Virgin at the moment. Laugh at this movie every time.

    This week, I plan on finally watching Jaws.

    And I plan on seeing Michael Moore's new documentary, Where to Invade Next, this weekend.

    1. I haven't watched a Final Destination movie in awhile. All are pretty solid horror films. Deadpool was good. Not great. The 40 Year Old Virgin is one of my all time comedies. Jaws!!!! Yes! I will be seeing Where to Invade Next soon as well.

  5. I don't watch Groundhog Day nearly as often as you and I put it off for years, it just looked so foolish but it's a nice comedy and funnier than I had been expecting. Sad to say I still haven't gotten to see Hail, Caesar! I had every intention but so far life has gotten in the way. I didn't care much for the first Hot Tub Time Machine so I'm skipping the follow up. I'm on the fence with Southpaw, I'm a big Gyllenhaal fan but not much of a boxing one and as you pointed out it's going to be a brutal watch, not a big pull.

    I did see some newish movies-The Martian, Matt Damon was good but the sum of the movie was outlandish. Hot Pursuit, foolish but considering the premise I didn’t expect anything else. Stonewall-a jumbled mess, Ice Quake-an even bigger mess and Battleship-the biggest mess which was stupider than even I had been led to believe! You inspired me to do a little Spielberg watching that I’d been putting off. I watched The Terminal which turned out to be quite enjoyable, much more so than the terrible previews they showed when the film was out.

    1. I sort of felt the same way about The Martian. I dug the humor and the botany stuff more than the big space action craziness. Glad I could inspire you to dig into some Spielberg. I only saw The Terminal once, but I found it quite charming. Will certainly re-watch in this long-running marathon I've started.

  6. With the weather being so brutally cold in my neck of the woods it has caused a burrowing effect and lead to me seeing a slew of films in the past two weeks.

    I’ll start with the fact that I was able to finish another performer’s filmography off of my list!! This time it was Inger Stevens in The Young Interns-a minor 60’s drama about the title group-Inger was the best part, very moving as a young rape victim. I also scratched off several films by other actresses: The Passage with Patricia Neal (it was a grim, violent drama about fleeing the Nazis), I Ought to be in Pictures with Ann-Margret (lesser Neil Simon) and The War between Men & Women and Who is Harry Kellerman and why is He Saying All Those Terrible Things about Me? (Just a wacky as its title) with Barbara Harris.

    It’s funny that as I’ve been watching these older films I’ve accidentally finished up filmographies of some performers who aren’t on my list. It’s a bit frustrating as well since I struggle with many that I purposely set out to complete but that’s the way it goes I guess. I mention this because I managed to do that with two actresses this week. One Dolores Moran in Johnny One-Eye, a very meh noir, was a knockout supporting actress who didn’t have a long career but quite a colorful off screen life. The other Betty Garrett was a very promising singing comic actress, she appeared in the Frank Sinatra/Gene Kelly classic On the Town, but her early career was destroyed when she and her husband Larry Parks were blacklisted. She did make a comeback as a very visible supporting actress in TV in the 70’s & 80’s.

    The Betty Garrett film, The Shadow on the Window, was one of a trio of films I watched that John Drew Barrymore made in his brief movie career, he was Drew Barrymore’s father. The others were High Lonesome and Quebec. None were bad, Shadow was the best, but none classic either…the Barrymore magic seems to have skipped a generation however. Even though I didn’t plan it that way I ended up seeing sets of films of several different actors:

    Rory Calhoun:
    Treasure of Monte Cristo, Powder River, Apache Uprising and The Silver Whip

    Edmond O’Brien:
    1984, The Doomsday Flight and Warpath

    James Mason (who makes any film better):
    One Way Street and The Upturned Glass (this one was very good)

    I also saw a very cute comedy with Joan Blondell, Good Girls Go to Paris and an excellent noir with Edward G. Robinson and Judith Anderson, The Red House.

    Those were the best of the batch which leads me to the other side…the worst of the group: Monday’s Child-I watched because I love Geraldine Page and it’s a difficult film to find, once I struggled through I now know why! And Villa Rides in which Yul Brynner plays Pancho Villa!! Its heart was in the right place I guess but it was terribly scattered and dull. One other I did catch-Wild on the Beach, even for a beach party movie it was pretty bad but it did contain the first onscreen performance of Sonny and Cher. Dressed as hippies no less!

    1. Glad to hear you've been able to knock so many off the list. I love your comments so much, man. They provide such a wealth of titles I'm unfamiliar with. I am about to start getting into the first round of recommendations from your email, so I'll be posting about them in this weekly recap series. Really looking forward to it. Thanks so much for listing your watches here. I really appreciate it.

  7. Thanks so much for the link! I thought Dark Places needed better budget - I mean in the book the flashbacks to the murder were horrific and here they went with some generic, B&W shit. It was such a misguided adaptation. I just hope they adapt Sharp Objects well but there is no new news about that one:/