December 2012 Movies

Totally forgot to do this for December (and January will be coming up shortly, as well).

Die Hard (1988) 5 / 5
Bad Santa (2003) 5 / 5
Finding Nemo (2003) 5 / 5
Looper (2012) 5 / 5*
Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995) 4 / 5
Just Friends (2005) 4 / 5
The Matrix (1999) 4 / 5
About a Boy (2002) 4 / 5
Monsters, Inc. (2001) 3.5 / 5
Live Free or Die Hard (2007) 3.5 / 5
The Bourne Legacy (2012) 3 / 5*
Serendipity (2001) 2.5 / 5
Die Hard 2 (1990) 2.5 / 5
2012 (2009) 1.5 / 5
Total Recall (2012) 1 / 5*

3*/12 re-watched
For all of 2012, I viewed 87 new movies and re-watched 120 of them, for a grand total of 207, far less than my actual MovieADay in 2011.

Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

I hope they have a better cover for the Blu-Ray.

I hope they have a better cover for the Blu-Ray.

Directed by: Rich Moore (he directed many awesome episodes of “The Simpsons” and “Futurama”)

Written by: The screenplay was written by Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee, based on a story by Johnston, Rich Moore and Jim Reardon.

Starring: The vocal talents of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Mindy Kaling, Ed O’Neill, Joe Lo Truglio and many other voice over artists.

What it’s about: a villain from a classic video game decides he wants to be a good guy for once, putting the entire arcade in jeopardy

B-Movie Alternate Title: 8-Bit Ralph… I don’t know, I can’t think of one right now

What I liked: I loved the entire movie.  I was fully prepared to be cynical and dismissal of it, but NO, it ended up being completely awesome, and not just from a classic video game fan’s perspective, but also from a movie fan’s viewpoint.  It is superbly well-written, perfectly cast (my god, Sarah Silverman was AMAZING), looks absolutely gorgeous (especially with all the environment changes from the different games), the story is tremendous (not to mention surprising, my god I can’t remember the last time I was legit surprised by a plot development) and immediately after I finished watching it, I wanted to watch it again.  It is easily the best animated Disney movie since Bolt (which – if you recall – does not lend itself to repeated viewings in a positive manner), and possibly greater than Lilo & Stitch.  It also reminded me greatly of The Iron Giant, and that is one of the highest compliments I can pay a film.

What I disliked: Shut up, get out of here.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Yes, even people that aren’t gamers would still be able to enjoy and understand it.  It is altogether excellent.

Rating: 5 / 5

Best Animated Feature Oscar Ratings: 1. Wreck-It Ralph 2. Brave

Zangief describing the kind of women he likes.

Zangief describing the kind of women he likes.

Seven Psychopaths (2012)

The most ridiculous of the poster options.

The most ridiculous of the poster options.

Directed by: Martin McDonagh (I absolutely loved In Bruges, and kinda feel like watching that again right away now)

Written by: McDonagh again.

Starring: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson, and a bunch of other sorta names in smaller parts.  Check them tags.

What it’s about: a wanna-be screenwriter ends up finding inspiration in the actions of his best friend

B-Movie Alternate Title: Se7en Adaptations

Movie Mash Up: In Bruges + Adaptation

What I liked: Well Colin Farrell has been knocking it out of the park for years, and he continues that record here.  Walken is sometimes the best part of a shitty movie, and in this case, he’s one of many parts, but so delightful to watch.  Sam Rockwell can be hit or miss, and for the most part here, he’s hittin’.  There are so many great actors in the cast, some getting the briefest of screen time, but wonderful to see nonetheless.  Loved the writing, especially the heavy-on-the-meta story line.

What I disliked: Unlike Adaptation, there wasn’t much of a “letting the viewer figure it out for themselves” aspect to the meta-ness, which is fine, but it just seemed a bit ham-fisted at points.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Yes and no, so I guess that means no.  It isn’t a movie for every audience, especially if that person did not enjoy In Bruges.

Rating: 4 / 5

Goddamn I would have loved to been on this set.

Goddamn I would have loved to been on this set.

This Is 40 (2012)

Kids seem kinda gross. Stop having them everyone.

Directed by: Judd Apatow (I still think The 40-Year-Old Virgin is his best movie)

Written by: Apatow again

Starring: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Maude Apatow, Iris Apatow, Jason Segel, Charlyne Yi, Megan Fox, Albert Brooks, John Lithgow, Lena Dunham, Chris O’Dowd, and featuring many more actors in smaller roles.

What it’s about: just like the poster says, a sort-of sequel to Knocked Up, about a married couple finding out what being 40-years-old (and not a virgin) is like

B-Movie Alternate Title: The 40-Year-Old Non-Virgins

Movie Mash Up: Pretty much a mix of all three of Apatow’s movies, 40-Year-Old VirginKnocked Up and Funny People

What I liked: Paul Rudd is in nearly every scene and that is fun and great and wonderful and everyone should love that because Paul Rudd that is why.  I am a huge fan of Leslie Mann’s line deliveries, her whole acting, just the total package.  She’s also a foxy lady.  Speaking of foxy ladies, Megan Fox does what we hope she does in every movie (see the .gif at the end of the review), and less clothing on her is better, as well as less of her acting abilities.  She was used the perfect amount.  Great supporting cast with great roles.  I wish Apatow would have picked a hockey team to use in the movie other than the Philadelphia Flyers, but at least it wasn’t the New York Rangers or Toronto Maple Leafs.

What I disliked: As with any fairly personal movie, the running time tends to trend a bit long.  Apatow does love his stuff, and there could be a few trimmings made to make it a better overall movie.  I don’t know if I really disliked Iris Apatow’s performance, as it felt “real” and not fake Hollywood, but it wasn’t great in the traditional sense.  The movie tends to meander at times.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Sort of.  I thought it was great, but there are some audiences that it won’t play well for.

Rating: 4 /5

Did you just scroll down to this?  How long have you been watching it? Is it tomorrow yet?

Did you just scroll down to this? How long have you been watching it? Is it tomorrow yet?

The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)

So very zany and Japanese or something.  I don't understand other cultures.

So very zany and Japanese or something. I don’t understand other cultures.

Note: I wrote this review years ago, but upon re-watching it, I felt the exact same way about it.  It doesn’t hurt that I’ve been re-reading the Fletch books and playing loads of “Ni No Kuni” recently, as this movie is pretty much the perfect blend of the two.

This is the second movie to chronicle the adventures of Lupin III, adapted from the manga and anime series about the master thief. The movie starts off with a bang, with Lupin and his partner Jigen escaping from a casino that they’ve just robbed. Once they’ve made their getaway, Lupin realises that the money is all near-perfect counterfeits and therefore, worthless. Almost immediately he decides to search out the plates used for creating the fake currency and steal them because the value of those plates would be much higher. Or perhaps just because he’s Lupin III, a master thief who steals whatever he wants whenever he wants.

The Lupin III character is quite entertaining, coming across like a mix between James Bond, Thomas Crown and Fletch. Fletch from the Gregory Mcdonald crime novels, not the Chevy Chase Fletch movie which pales in comparison, nor the possibly-soon-to-be-made Zach Braff (ugh) Fletch Won movie (NOTE: thank fuck that was never made by Kevin Smith). The literary Fletch is a wise-ass, but he tempers that with his considerable wits and investigative skills, which is pretty similar to Lupin III’s abilities in stealing priceless objects.

Even though this movie is pretty much as old as I am, the animation techniques still look better than most of the cookie-cutter CGI animated films coming out these days. Miyazaki tends to let a scene breathe, taking time to set mood and explore the lush landscape, or just have one of the characters performing a very simple everyday task. Grounding the film in a reality close to the real world makes all the amazing things that Lupin III pulls off throughout the movie even more impressive. Much of the film plays without a score behind it, making the environments the characters find themselves in feel all the more real.

The only downside to the movie would be if you had no idea whatsoever about the Lupin III magna series. Which pretty much describes me. Sitting there watching the movie, I had the feeling that there were years and years of back story behind the characters, that each of them had differing reasons for helping Lupin out with his dangerous heists. Don’t let that fact discourage you from watching this film if you ever get the chance. It’s a wonderful adventure movie that has influenced many other movies throughout popular culture, Raiders of the Lost Ark probably being the most obvious.

4 / 5

Once again, a worthless object gets cut.

Once again, a worthless object gets cut.

Lincoln (2012)

Classic-looking poster, gorgeous, really.

Classic-looking poster, gorgeous, really.

Directed by: Steven Spielberg (kinda hard to pick his best movie, as he has numerous candidates.  However, none since Munich)

Written by: Tony Kushner wrote the screenplay, based on “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” written by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and many, many more.  Check the tags.

What it’s about: a biopic of Abraham Lincoln’s last four months alive

B-Movie Alternate Title: Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation

What I liked: The movie hangs on Daniel Day-Lewis to portray a believable Abraham Lincoln, and of course he rocks it out of the park.  There are so many wonderful character actors throughout the movie in little parts, that half the movie I was mentally making notes to double-check IMDb.  It appeared to be lovingly made by Spielberg, with an attentive eye to details, but what do I know for sure?

What I disliked: Goddammit, there is a way to make an Oscar-friendly picture without pumping up the running time minutes.  Two and a half hours is about half an hour too many for this movie.  It lags, and while Day-Lewis is mesmerizing as Lincoln, the subject matter is fairly dry and honestly, it was a bit more tedious than Zero Dark Thirty was.  And we were all waiting for the assassination scene, and you don’t even put it onscreen?  BOoooooo.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Not really, it is pretty much one of those Oscar movies that exists to vie for Oscars and will rarely be brought up again.  It is long and informative and most people don’t want those things in their movies.

Rating: 3 / 5, and if it weren’t for Daniel Day-Lewis, it would have been 2 – 2.5.

Best Picture Nominations Rankings (so far): 1. Silver Linings Playbook 2. Django Unchained 3. Argo 4. Zero Dark Thirty 5. Lincoln

I would like to see Abraham Lincoln argue with Daniel Plainview or Bill the Butcher.

I would like to see Abraham Lincoln argue with Daniel Plainview or Bill the Butcher.

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Altogether, a pretty terrible poster.

Altogether, a pretty terrible poster.

Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow (I really enjoyed Strange Days but The Hurt Locker is easily her best film)

Written by: Mark Boal (also wrote Hurt Locker which makes me think I should check out In the Valley of Ellah)

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Lauren Shaw, Édgar Ramírez, Mark Duplass, John Barrowman, Frank Grillo, Mark Strong, Chris Pratt, Joel Edgerton, Jennifer Ehle and Harold Perrineau.

What it’s about: based on actual events, the hunting down of Osama Bin Laden

B-Movie Alternate Title: America’s REVENGE

Movie Mash Up: The Hurt Locker – any interesting characters

What I liked: It was technically well-made, featuring a few great actors in decent performances.

What I disliked: It’s a pretty goddamned boring movie, and I’m a fairly forgiving movie-watcher.  I can explain away slowness and tedium as “pacing” but I cannot make that statement for this film.  Unlike Hurt Locker, there is nothing – no character, no potential action scene – that makes you want to keep watching, other than the ending, which we already know anyways.  I guess Jessica Chastain acted alright in this movie, but there was nothing in her performance that really suggested to me that it was a performance for the ages, which really, all Best Actress Oscar nominations should be.  For the most part, it just seemed like a technically well-made movie without any heart to it.  That and (I love the guy, don’t get me wrong) Chris Pratt’s goofy character really just turned the movie from what should have been something epic into basically a documentary.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Nope.  It’s pretty boring, and since we all know how it ends anyways, there is little payoff to actually watching it all the way through.

Rating: 3.5 /5

Best Picture Nominations Rankings (so far): 1. Silver Linings Playbook 2. Django Unchained 3. Argo 4. Zero Dark Thirty

How I felt while watching most of the movie.

How I felt while watching most of the movie.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Directed by that brought you Three Kings.  DID I JUST BLOW YOUR MIND?

Directed by that brought you Three Kings. DID I JUST BLOW YOUR MIND?

Directed by: David O. Russell (I would have to go with Three Kings as his best movie, though he has directed many quality pictures)

Written by: David O. Russell, based on “The Silver Linings Playbook” by Matthew Quick

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, Anupam Kher, Shea Whigham, Julia Stiles, John Ortiz, Dash Mihok, and Brea Bee.

What it’s about: fresh out of a psychiatric institution, a guy tries to re-connect with his former life and finds new things

B-Movie Alternate Title: Shall We Dance 2

What I liked: If the entire movie was just Jennifer Lawrence doing.. whatever, I’d have been happy with the end result.  She is wonderful, talented, amazing and I will stop right there, because I could go on and on about how she is the greatest thing since Amy Adams to me and it would just get weird and awkward for all of us and hey let’s end this sentence sometime soon. Bradley Cooper was great, definitely deserved his Best Actor Oscar nom for his performance, same with Lawrence.  Whatever director David O. Russell did to make Robert De Niro an actor again, that shit should be bottled, because finally, he acted again.  Jacki Weaver was great too, all the Oscar nominations that went to the movie, totally deserving.  You might think that is weird to say for what is essentially a romantic comedy / drama, but it is great.  It truly is and I have to go back and say, wow, Jennifer Lawrence, holy fuck, she is just so good, so good in this role.  Also, holy shit, Chris Tucker can NOT be annoying!  Who knew?  And finally, the reaction to finishing “A Farewell to Arms” was pretty much exactly how I felt about it.  Fuck that book.

What I disliked: Nothing, I thought it was altogether excellent.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: I would try, though being part of the rom-com/dramedy genre makes it a slight hard sell.  “BUT JENNIFER LAWRENCE come on!” would be my follow up.

Rating: 5 / 5

Best Picture Nominations Rankings (so far): 1. Silver Linings Playbook 2. Django Unchained 3. Argo



Argo (2012)

Cookie-cutter poster design here.

Cookie-cutter poster design here.

Directed by: Ben Affleck (I enjoyed The Town, but I found Gone Baby Gone to be better)

Written by: The screenplay was written by Chris Terrio, based off of “The Master of Disguise” by Antonio J. Mendez and “The Great Escape” by Joshuah Bearman (WHAT A NAME.  BEARman)

Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Tate Donovan, Clea DuVall, Victor Garber and so many more.

What it’s about: based on true events that took place during the Iran Hostage Crisis, involving a CIA plan to use a fake movie shoot to rescue some hostages

B-Movie Alternate Title:

Movie Mash Up: Three KingsUnited 93 (minus all the horrific tragedy) + Munich

What I liked: I enjoyed about 90% of the movie (see below, but beware, slight vague spoiler).  Great acting, great “real life” story.  I don’t think Alan Arkin deserved a Supporting Actor nomination for his performance.  It was good, but not even on the level of his previous win for Little Miss Sunshine.  Bryan Cranston was great, Affleck was great but understated great, if that makes sense.  FINALLY, someone found a way to capture Clea DuVall in a way that didn’t make you feel weird for thinking she was attractive (unless I’m the only one?).  I liked the movie a lot in general, though I really can’t think of a time that I’ll re-watch it.

What I disliked: Almost the entire ending sequence.  I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone, so SPOILER ALERT I guess.  The little things that kept taking time at the end kept piling up and I’m not sure if Affleck just wanted to push it as much as he could until the audience laughed in frustration or what.  I know there’s a lot of creative licence with “Based on a True Story” movies, but after that I had to do the research and it annoyed me so there.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Sure, though it may move at too slow of a pace for some audiences.  I would preface my recommendation with that.

Rating: 4/ 5

Best Picture Nomination Rankings (so far): 1. Django Unchained 2. Argo

Ben Affleck IS Hart Bochner!

Ben Affleck IS Hart Bochner!

Django Unchained (2012)

Gorgeous poster, though probably not in the category of previous Tarantino films.  Argue about that.

Gorgeous poster, though probably not in the category of previous Tarantino films. Argue about that.

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino (we could argue over what his “best” movie is, but the safe bet will most likely always be Pulp Fiction)

Written by: Tarantino

Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, James Remar, Kerry Washington, Laura Cayouette, Walton Goggins and Samuel L. Jackson.  Also, check the tags for many actors that basically filmed cameo roles.

What it’s about: in 1858, a former slave becomes a bounty hunter and searches for his wife

B-Movie Alternate Title: It’s a pretty B-Movie title already

Movie Mash Up: Inglourious BasterdsTombstone + probably hundreds of blaxpoitation movies that Tarantino has watched

What I liked: I have to admit, Jamie Foxx ruled in this movie, and I hate having to say that.  Tarantino wrote such a great character in Django, and knew exactly how he wanted the character to appear and succeeded on all levels.  I would argue that Christoph Waltz deserves to be nominated in the Best Actor category, rather than the Supporting Actor category for his performance in this movie, but whatever.  It is a fun movie, dealing with some super serious themes, and it may be Tarantino’s funniest movie yet.  Argue some more about that too, if you want.  The movie looks gorgeous, and flows fairly well (see below), so well that at points it doesn’t exactly feel like a near three hour-long movie.  DiCaprio was amazing in it as well, particularly the scene in which he actually accidentally cuts open his own hand, bleeding profusely all over himself, and continues acting.  Don’t know how Kerry Washington felt about having his blood smeared all over her face, though.

What I disliked: The running time of nearly three hours is fairly daunting, Tarantino movie or not.  You could make arguments about trimming the fat and lessening the homages to whatever obscure movie Tarantino was referring to with whatever camera angle or sound cue, but you don’t have the same movie then.  I consider myself a fairly knowledgeable movie fan, but I probably don’t know half of the references Tarantino is making, even in regards to certain actors and actresses he ends up casting for whatever reason.  There were some scenes throughout that I thought were misplaced or came from some wacky sitcom script (the Jonah Hill cameo scene springs to mind), and while they weren’t terrible, they did put me off a little.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: While it is pretty great, the exceedingly long running time and excessive (but totally in context) usage of the word “nigger”, probably means it isn’t for everyone.  Tarantino fans will eagerly lap it up, though.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

I am surprised this .gif hasn't been Hasslehoff'd.

I am surprised this .gif hasn’t been Hasslehoff’d.