18 September 2016

In Movie Lines: The Return (with a World Record College Football Game, George Clooney, an Ode to Texas....and Links)

September 11-17, 2016

Catching up...

I am a regretful movie lover these days. I find myself just not having the time and/or energy to dig into great movies. I'm working...a lot. The first couple months of the school year for a teacher being the most brutal drain of mind and body imaginable. I know. I know. We get two months off in the summer, but come August, it's full throttle. Come September, you wonder where your life went. By then, it's football season.

And in East Tennessee...that means something. For example, this one, the one where my wife and I spent more money than we should've in order to camping at a drive-in movie theater...

...in Bristol, TN, where we camped across from a guy called Steve the Pirate, who drives "Piddlefart", the neon green Ford Bronco,...

...and saw a college football game at Bristol Motor Speedway, a venue of 160,000 seats. My Tennessee Vols played the Hokies of Virginia Tech in The Battle at Bristol,...

...where you climb walls to leave as you burn, burn, burn under fireworks, leaving as one of the mad ones,...

...and, then, on the way home, you see this, and think twice about who you've been high-fiving.


Go Vols! We won 45-24. And are part of the crowd that broke the Guinness World Record for Biggest College Football Game. 

Movies I've Watched

Because I have managed a few.

Lone Star
dir. John Sayles, 1996

Cinematography by Stuart Dryburgh
Lone Star is a brilliantly and boldly written movie. A story expertly told, sprawling, layered, perfectly plotted. It's my first experience with John Sayles, who wrote, directed, and edited. You can feel that watching it. This is a work of complete and utter control. He really succeeds all around, making a movie as much about the whole of Texas as it is about its own brilliant central plot. Matthew McConaughey and Kris Kristofferson own their small roles, as does the always great, late Elizabeth Peña. Chris Cooper carries the thing through all its shifts and every thread. Great film! ★★

Money Monster
dir. Jodie Foster, 2016

Cinematography by Matthew Libatique
Money Monster is a film I had much higher hope for. In all honesty, I don't think financial crisis movies can be done anymore. Last year's The Big Short sort of broke the mold, the comedy and the drama both worked equally. Director Jodie Foster's try at the hostage-crisis-while-making-a-statement flick worked from time to time but ended up becoming a bit too obvious and ultimately flat.  Here is a drama that falls to some really misplaced attempts at humor that just don't work. Clooney and O'Connell do well enough with the heavy lifting, but it's just not enough. ★★

Michael Clayton
dir. Tony Gilroy, 2007

Cinematography by Robert Elswit
My wife insisted on watching this after a friend of mine and I were talking about it recently. It's one of the great slow burns of all-time. Always solid but landing in the most quietly triumphant of ways in its final act. Tony Gilroy, known for writing The Bourne Trilogy among other solid thrillers, makes a directorial debut that is nothing short of remarkable, gets a Best Picture and Best Director nod in one of the best years for movies in my lifetime, and, to be clear, deserved every bit of that. This is a movie made by an expert. I wish old Tony would show us something like this again. Clooney, Swinton, Wilkinson...unreal performances. ★★

Panic Room
dir. David Fincher, 2002

Cinematography by Conrad W. Hall
(Collage taken from Alex's post on Fincher at And So It Begins...)
It's on the lower end of Fincher's filmography for me, but it's way better than I gave it credit for. This watch showed me something I didn't see the last time I saw it, as a stoned college freshman in a movie theater. This sequence here is Fincher's visual virtuosity on full display. Just sick camera moves matched by slick editing and visual effects. A style on its way to perfection. ★★★1/2 


Allie at Flick Chicks reviews Sing Street, a movie I can't wait to see and am mad I missed.

Fisti at A Fistful of Films does his thing on the year in movies 2000

Khalid at The Blazing Reel follows suit

Robin at On the Screen Reviews remembers some great movies scenes from 2016.  


  1. Thanks for the link Kevin! I think Piddlefart might just be the greatest name for a car I've ever heard, I love it.
    - Allie

  2. Hey, bro! Thanks for the link. Glad to see another 'In Movie Lines' post, too.

    Michael Clayton is a great film, one of Clooney's best, and Wilkinson is EVERYTHING (as is Tilda). It was one of those movies I didn't think I'd care for...and then it just all worked so well.

  3. I couldn't agree with you more, Kevin, as the first two months/entire year of teaching are exhausting. I certainly don't have my sea legs yet...as I find myself falling asleep...just about everywhere.

    Great flicks, though. I saw Michael Clayton in the theater and I was the only one there. Still blown away by the end of that movie. Damn.

    Thanks for the link. Always great to find another brother-in-arms, you know?

  4. I have seen most of these films and thought Michael Clayton was excellent and need to see it again as well as Lone Star. It seems there are some people who are way too proud to be Trump supporters. Regardless, it looks like you had a nice time.

  5. FINALLY! The "In Movie Lines" posts have returned!

    I know how you feel, man. I feel like I don't have the energy to watch as many movies as I'd like. I'll go to the movie theater, & see movies basically every weekend (which I will be doing until the end of Oscar season), but I seem to not be watching as many movies I did. I still need to finish watching all of Paul Thomas Anderson's films, all of David Fincher's films, many of Martin Scorsese's films, & many of Steven Spielberg's films.

    Also, GO VOLS! I really like your guys' team this year, & I hope you guys beat Alabama this year. (Ever since Alabama destroyed my Michigan State Spartans 38-0 in the Cotton Bowl last year, I have hated Alabama with a burning passion. Also, I hate Alabama because they have Michigan State's former head coach, Nick Saban, & it makes my skin crawl to see him winning championship after championship with another team. Well, I hope Alabama doesn't win this year!)

    Piddlefart is the greatest name for a car I've ever heard. Nothing will ever top that.

    Sorry you had to see that Donald Trump sign on the back of that Winnebago. As you know, I absolutely despise Donald Trump. If only Bernie Sanders was still in the race...

    Anyway... of the films you've listed, I've seen Money Monster (excellent) & Panic Room (great). Really want to watch Lone Star (mainly because of Chris Cooper) & I also want to watch Michael Clayton (mainly because of Tom Wilkinson).

    This week, I re-watched Punch-Drunk Love (amazing). Somehow, I can really relate to Adam Sandler's character. (Also, why is he still making all these crappy comedies? His last good movie was Just Go with It. Can't he start being in good movies again?)

    Also, I went to the movie theater twice this weekend; on Friday night, I saw the indie comedy-drama Don't Think Twice. It was brillantly funny & it felt so real. (However, it definitely didn't deserve an R rating. It only said the F-word about 9 times, & it showed brief instances of people smoking pot. How does that get an R rating, while Suicide Squad has numerous instances of violence & gets a PG-13? I'll say it again, the MPAA is flawed). And on Saturday morning, I saw Snowden. It's definitely the best film of the year. Better than Sully, better than The Light Between Oceans, better than Hell or High Water, & (dare I say it) better than The Lobster. Everything worked perfectly with this film. It's Oliver Stone's best film since JFK (which I finally watched last month. That was a brilliant film).

    This weekend, I plan on seeing The Magnificent Seven, & I also plan on seeing Snowden for a second time. Also, this week, I plan on watching Moonlight Mile, Gangs of New York, & All the Real Girls, & I also plan on re-watching Zodiac (which will always be my favorite David Fincher film).

    1. But I will say, it will be hard for me to see Danny McBride in All the Real Girls, playing a serious role. It's hard to see him do that after seeing him in films such as Pineapple Express (which is David Gordon Green's best comedy), & seeing him on TV shows, such as the hilarious Eastbound & Down, where his character of Kenny Powers is one of the funniest TV characters ever, in my opinion.

    2. Moonlight Mile was excellent. It's definitely, in my opinion, Jake Gyllenhaal's best performance. So funny, touching, honest, & real. Pure cinematic excellence.

      All the Real Girls was… just… OMG. How do they make movies so extremely excellent? THIS is just… such an excellent film. It may just be my favorite film ever. The honesty & realness of this film, the acting, the cinematography… the excellent screenplay… just… wow. I don't think any film can ever be as perfect as this. I feel like I can definitely relate to Paul Schneider's character. Yeah, I know I'm a lot younger than his character here, but I can really relate to him. The feelings you have for someone, how much you love that person, how happy it makes you feel, how sad it makes you feel… I can relate to that. This is just… a truly excellent film.

      All I can say is thank you for telling me about these 2 amazing, life-changing films. These are films that I will always cherish. Thanks, Kevin!

    3. And the ending to All the Real Girls… that is the most beautiful ending I've ever seen. But I definitely can relate to the film's themes of love, & how much you care for someone you love, & all the emotions it makes you feel. And I think we can all relate to that. Purely excellent.

  6. I never got around to seeing Michael Clayton, and I know I should've.

    I like your new Hell or High Water banner!

    1. Definitely do Michael Clayton. It's great. And thanks!