Tuesday, August 6, 2013

June & July


Talk of the Town ***
This Is The End ****
Before Midnight ****1/2
Contagion ***
High Society (1956) ****
Larceny Inc. ***1/2
The Lemon Drop Kid ***1/2
To Be Or Not To Be ****1/2
I Married a Witch ***


The Dark Knight Rises ****


The Colbert Report
Comedy Bang! Bang! season 2
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Family Tree season 1
Game of Thrones season 3
Mad Men season 6
Portlandia seasons 1 & 2
The Simpsons (various episodes)
The Soparanos seasons 1 & 2

It's been a slow summer, movie-wise. I cancelled my Netflix DVD-plan last month so I've been streaming and watching movies off of the TV. But not having the DVDs has really lowered my totals. Also, I haven't really been to the theater at all. With good reason no doubt, but still. Anyway, on to what I did see.

I wasn't crazy about TALK OF THE TOWN. The film attempts to have a interesting discussion about crime/law between Cary Grant and Ronald Coleman, but it never really caught my attention. I also didn't like Jean Arthur in this one; I prefer her in MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON and other films where she comes across as tough and competent.

We've talked about THIS IS THE END a bit already. Comedies are written make us laugh; this one made me laugh from beginning to end, so it's successful in my mind. I respect where Brandon's coming from, though.

A little bit of time has passed, so I'll just say that I still love BEFORE MIDNIGHT a lot, or at least four and half stars' worth.

CONTAGION is well done in terms of scaring the hell out of people. If you see me and I don't hug you or shake your hand, you can get ahead and blame CONTAGION. Honest, it's not just me being an asshole. Anyway, yeah, it's strange because I do feel like this movie was well-done, but I agree with Jeff that the scenes move a little too quickly.

HIGH SOCIETY is PHILADELPHIA STORY with Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra....oh, and Louis Armstrong. I hadn't really seen any footage of Armstrong before so that was pretty cool. Anyway, despite knowing the story already, the great cast makes it worth watching. I put the year up top so that Jeff would be reminded that I didn't watch some stoner comedy.

LARCENY INC. was a nice sort of "deep-cut" (1942; Dir: Lloyd Bacon). I enjoyed it quite a bit; it's a very solid comedy and Edward G. Robinson is great, as always. I'd definitely recommend it to those who haven't seen it.

THE LEMON DROP KID was on TCM one day so I decided to watch it. There's a point in the second act where the movie really starts to sag, but it's Bob Hope so there's some leeway with that. There were a couple of jokes that had me laughing out loud, so for that reason, it was worth the time.

Brandon, I loved TO BE OR NOT TO BE. Not just a great comedy, but a great film as well. Jack Benny gives such a great comedic performance and I'd love to see more of his work now. I think the first five minutes of the film does a perfect job of establishing the tone of the film. It's playful, smart, and very well done.

This also reminds me of John's AudioBoo question about when was the last time a movie picked one of America's enemies. I believe that would be 1993's HOT SHOTS! PART DEUX, in which Saddam Hussein is the villain. If you were looking for a good movie...my apologies.

And now it's time for the rare, but ongoing segment called: "Sorry, Jeff" This week it's....Sorry, Jeff, I wasn't crazy about I MARRIED A WITCH. Is it bad? Of course not. But yeah, I mostly feel indifferent about it. Veronica Lake is cute and all, but I've yet to fall for her charms. I kinda feel like the movie moves too quickly. I do think it does a good job of setting up all of the pieces. It's a silly, supernatural story that knows what is and what it wants to accomplish, and yet...it's still missing something for me. I don't think I came away with any scenes that I loved. Maybe it's something to revisit in a year or two.

I love Christopher Nolan and all, but sure, each time I re-watch one of his films, I begin to see more cracks than I did the first time. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is no different. I re-watched with friends who were also re-watching it and they decided to be as critical as possible. Honestly, I have a few defenses for a few of the plot holes and contrivances, but after a certain point, I don't really care about defending it. If you don't like it, you don't like it and that's fine. I saw MAN OF STEEL last week and it was terrible. I will continue to compare the DARK KNIGHT trilogy to other comic book movies and so far, Nolan's remain the best by a pretty significant margin.

COMEDY BANG! BANG! is the best show on television right now. It's brilliant, hilarious, and I love every second of it. Luckily for me and other CBB fans, the second season features 20 episodes. I'm happy John's been watching the first season and I hope you're enjoying it.

HBO's FAMILY TREE is a fine show. Fans of Christopher Guest will enjoy it. My only beef with the show is that the main character and his friends/family are all Tottenham Hotspur supporters (talking English soccer right now, so my apologies if I've lost you and you have no plans to return). I hold nothing but contempt for that team. So yeah, beyond silly sports fandom, I have nothing against the show. It's funny and engaging. I've seen about three episodes so far. At some point I'll finish the first season.

MAD MEN season six started off fairly slow for me. I wasn't too excited about the show after the first episode. But midway through the season, I was reminded of how great it is. It's still one of the best dramas on TV. The final season airs next Spring (I assume) so there's plenty of time to get caught up if you aren't. It's well worth the time.

PORTLANDIA is funny and enjoyable. Fred Armisen is someone I wasn't crazy about while he was on SNL, but within the past year or so I've definitely come around and now consider myself a fan. PORTLANDIA is smart, funny, relatable and I wish I could write for it. Seasons 1 and 2 are on Netflix Instant Watch; I highly recommend it.

Favorite PORTLANDIA character??

Ugh, cars, man. Whyy???

THE SOPRANOS has been great so far; it's one of the best dramas I've seen. Obviously I didn't watch the show when it aired, so I'm experiencing its impact on the shows that followed it after the fact. I'm in the middle of season 3 at the moment and I'm really enjoying it. It's very addictive and I felt that with the very first episode. There's something strangely compelling about Tony Soprano, his families, and of, course, his shrink Dr. Melfi. Great stuff.

My Quiz

It's a little embarrassing to post this so late, but I know nobody really cares about that...so I shouldn't either. When I posted the questions, I was in a writing/blogging mood and then pretty much the next day that feeling left me. Thanks to Brandon, Cheddar, Jeff, and John for your answers; I enjoyed them a lot.

1. Is there a TV show that you'd love to see a movie version of? If yes, what? If no, think a little harder. If still no, sorry for wasting your time.

Yeah, J-bird, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT fans have been calling for a movie for years now. Unlike you, I still feel like that it could be done well, despite the lackluster feel to the show's latest season. In fact, I'd rather have a movie instead of the unconventional fourth season.

I do agree with Brandon; forcing a drama such as BREAKING BAD or other hour-long dramas suck in their beautiful bellies wouldn't be wise.

I was excited when the STRANGERS WITH CANDY movie was being developed, but really, nothing could top the show. Turns out that was definitely the case, as the movie wasn't very good.

I'm going with a long "No" as well. But I'd take an ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT movie.

2. What's your favorite place/setting to watch a movie (out of the choices listed below)? Why? ALSO, least favorite and why?

a) Small theater

b) Big theater

c) Drive-in theater

d) In a house, alone

e) In a house, with a group

f) Other

E, D, and B are all pretty close (but I ordered them that way intentionally). I love going to movie theater; it's one of my favorite things to do and if I'm away from the theater too long, I start to feel a pull that I need to return. I also enjoy watching movies with friends. If it's a movie I really care about, I want silence; if it's a shitty movie, I don't mind talking over it at all. Watching a movie alone is nice, too.

The Drive-in is the worst. I haven't been there since the second PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movie came out. I hate the atmosphere of it and the lack of sound quality. Small theaters are fine, but the Art Mission needs to add some more space inbetween the aisles.

3. If you could be an extra in any film, what would it be AND what scene would you like to be in?

I feel like I'm forgetting something, but I'll go with being an extra in the court room during Chico's trial in DUCK SOUP.

4. Name a movie you loved as a kid that still feels special even when you watch it now.

I should've worded this question a little differently; well, all I really needed to do was write "name a bad movie..." because I wanted sillier answers. For example, D2: THE MIGHTY DUCKS is a movie I still love even though it's not exactly good. Nonetheless, good answers from everyone.

5. Best film decade (out of the choices listed below)? And tell us why, if you're so inclined:

a) 80s

b) 90s

c) 00s (aughts)

C. Even though Cheddar gave a non-answer for this one, I'm glad someone rejected the aughts. I'm kinda sorry I can't agree with you. It has to be the aughts for the rise of P. T. Anderson and the exceptional work by the Coens on NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. Also there's SYNECDOCHE, NY. THERE WILL BE BLOOD, NO COUNTRY, and SYNECDOCHE would probably be my top three movies of the past thirty years.

You can find great foreign films in any of those decades; the great American films in the aughts tip the scales.

Bonus: Hypothetically, your friends have rented out a theater for your birthday. You get to choose the movie that's screened; what are you going with?

I'm sort of stealing Alex's answer to question 4. I think screening DUMB and DUMBER would be lot of fun. I'd also consider showing DR. STRANGELOVE because it's one of my all-time favorites. Hopefully no one would have a problem with black and white film. THE BIG LEBOWSKI is another possibility.

Anyway, again, thanks to everyone who answered the questions; you all get As for participating and for being handsome.