A Decade of Films, 2014

So 2014 was a great year for films, to the extent that I have 10 favorites and 44 honorable mentions. And of course a handful of films I haven’t seen.

And I’m still trying to catch up on 2019’s films. Three films over this past Friday-Saturday-Sunday, which means I’ve watched about 50 of last year’s films. I also did some OCD research last night to see how much I felt I should see before committing to my list of favorites- that would be 32 films still to see. I won’t get through them all, but I can try.
It’s not like the Oscar voters watched all of last year’s movies anyway.
In fact, I’ve probably seen more than Stephen King. (Why does he get to vote for Oscars anyway? He’s a writer. The one great film that was made from his work (The Shining) is one that he’s essentially disowned because it’s too far from his novel. And that’s because his writing sucks isn’t good.)
If you’re not sure why I’m picking on Stephen King, he’s said some questionable stuff about the Oscar nominees’ lack of diversity. And he hasn’t reflected very much on the issue, apparently.

OKAY, SO MY FAVORITES MOVING ON!

In no particular order:

  • John Wick: I’m not in love with the sequels, but the original film is an original concept executed electrically.  And sneakily deep for a film that explores how many deaths it takes to avenge a puppy (dude, if you’ve ever met/seen a puppy you know it’s A LOT).
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service: Again, not a huge fan of the sequel, and there are definitely some moments in this that give me serious pause, but on the whole it’s a great time.  Like, the kind of good time where you want to use the word “rollicking”.  An excellent secret agent film for a post-Bond world. With a sprinkle of class conflict examination.
  • Ex Machina: I’m a bit conflicted on this one because while I quite like Ex Machina, it does feel like it tries a bit too hard to be deep.  There’s a whole lot of navel-gazing going on.  But the performances are all excellent, Oscar Isaac’s dance scene is the most disturbing thing I could ever imagine, and the message is interesting.
  • Fury: It’s an excellent ensemble war film about the crew of a tank, focusing on the newest and youngest member.  Bloody, dramatic, and tragic.
  • Whiplash: I’m not the hugest fan of Damien Chazelle, but this is my favorite of his films so far (the others being La La Land and First Man).  But I’m always into stories of obsession and the clash of disturbed personalities, so there you go.
  • Grand Budapest Hotel: Wes Anderson, Ralph Fiennes, early Saoirse Ronan, and many more exciting faces, plus a pink hotel and Andersonian hijinks. I’ve been feeling a bit deflated about Anderson post-Isle of Dogs, but this was back in the good old days. And I watched it with my family over Thanksgiving break. Anderson has another film coming out next year, so maybe that will get me back on the train?
  • Nightcrawler: Brilliantly chilling thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a man who sells grisly camera footage to news outlets.  Rene Russo is also great and similarly distressing to watch.  Examines the ties between unethical journalism and consumer demand.
  • Big Hero 6: Completely different from the preceding film, Big Hero 6 has a very big heart and watching it is like receiving a very big hug.  I remember it was very popular when it came out but it doesn’t get talked about as much anymore, which is a shame.
  • Ernest & Celestine: A French animated film based on a children’s series, depicting the touching friendship between a big bear (Ernest) and a little mouse (Celestine).
  • The Book of Life: So I guess 2014 was a big year for animation, for me.  To save the love of his life, Manolo sacrifices himself and must journey through the Land of the Remembered, meeting his ancestors along the way. Stop comparing it to Coco. Do you know how many Christmas movies there are? We can have more than one film about the Day of the Dead and Mexican tradition. Thanks.

Honorable mentions: The Wind Rises, Gone Girl, Edge of Tomorrow (good film but if I see poor Emily Blunt do the sexy stretch one more time I’m going to break something), Imitation Game.

I have not seen: Boyhood, It Follows, Highway, or The Lunchbox.

Best Movies of the Decade, 2012

2012 was a much better year in terms of movies than the one that came before.

My favorites as follows, in no particular order:

  • The Secret World of Arrietty: An excellent Studio Ghibli animated film based on the book The Borrowers. A good watch if you, like me, are someone who likes imagining what you would do if you were very very tiny. I blame a childhood spent watching George Shrinks.
  • 21 Jump Street: I don’t usually enjoy modern comedies, but this is one of the few exceptions.  Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are great together, the premise is good, and performances are good all around.
  • Moonrise Kingdom: Moonrise Kingdom was my first Wes Anderson movie and one of the first movies where I really realized how amazing the theater experience can be.  It’s an aesthetically beautiful movie, a musically beautiful movie, and my enjoyment of it was certainly aided by the freshness of never before having seen Anderson’s particular style of quirk.  That all said, it’s one of his best and is probably one of the more important films in my movie-viewing history.
  • Rise of the Guardians: This is an underseen, under-rated animated Christmas film that takes place around Easter.  Long story short, a group of magical mythical heroes (The Tooth Fairy, Santa, the Easter Bunny, Sandman, and Jack Frost) must team up to protect the children and the hopes and the dreams from Pitch Black/The Bogeyman.  The Easter Bunny is Hugh Jackman.  Santa/North looks like a very Daddy version of Auguste Rodin. Jack Frost is also hot. Wholesome content.
  • Skyfall: I very much like Daniel Craig James Bond and this is one of his better ones (Second to Casino Royale).
  • Django Unchained: I used to think I couldn’t stand Quentin Tarantino but have come to a change of opinion, largely through Inglourious Bastards and Django Unchained.  I was thinking recently about how some of Tarantino’s movies seem to show a desire to retcon history, to take injustices and rewrite them.  I like him best when he plays in this sandbox.

I didn’t see: Monsieur Lazhar, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Magic Mike, Samsara, The Master, Looper, A Late Quartet, or Amour.

The Trailer for Tim Burton’s Dumbo is Heresy

I feel like the internet at large has turned into a howling/stomping ground of enraged fans (or maybe it’s just what you run into once you start getting into following film news)- and I hate to be the one to add to that mess.  But I get so few chances to be an angry neckbeard (given that I’m pretty flush with estrogen) I figured that this was my moment.

That, and the fact that this trailer is blasphemous.

Why? You ask?

I’m no big fan of the original Dumbo. Actually, if you’ve read this blog for any period of time you might be aware that I can’t heard the song Baby Mine without sobbing.  And that’s not the only seen of the movie that drives me to tears.  Add to that the not-so-subtle racism with the jazzy crows and laborer roustabouts, and I can’t really say that the film is vindicated by excellent songs such as ‘Casey Junior’ (the train song), ‘Song of the Roustabouts’ (kind of hardcore for the House of Mouse), and ‘Pink Elephants on Parade’ (in which Dumbo gets drunk and hallucinates). No lie, I like all these songs.

But this film promises to one-up (one-down?) my feelings about the original Dumbo with a response of disgusted and mildly enraged ennui.

  • Disney needs to stop making live action remakes. I haven’t liked any of them (maybe you have, if so, sorry) because they’re such bare-faced and obnoxious cash grabs that lose any sincerity of the originals in favor of extensive CGI and poor writing.
  • Where is TIMOTHY MOUSE?!
  • What the fuck is Colin Firth doing in here?
  • Why are these humans… sympathetic? The human world of Dumbo is supposed to be harsh and foreign.
  • Get rid of these simpering children.
  • What on earth is this 50 Shades of Grey-esque cover of Baby Mine?
  • This is a teaser trailer and it’s full trailer length.
  • Ugh, it looks so Tim Burton. The only thing that would make it more Tim Burton is Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp.

Guys, I’m not going to go see it. I only made it through Beauty and the Beast because I was on a plane. I failed to make it through The Jungle Book and Cinderella. Haven’t seen Maleficent.

Links 6/15

Hi hi hi. I missed the links post last week not because I didn’t have enough to share, just from pure laziness.  So it’s a bit heavy on the links today, but I have broken them down into bite-size and easily digestible categories.

Trailers:

Father’s Day:

  • A wince-worthy compilation of Dad Jokes.
  • The New Dad: What the evolution of stock photos shows about our changing understanding of paternity and parenthood.

Identity:

Miscellaneous:

  • How ASMR became an internet phenomenon.
  • This Parisian restaurant only lets you in with a baby or a bump.
  • I’ve been following this illustrator for a long time and now she’s selling some of her prints of Etsy!
  • Bumblebees use scent and color patterns to tell flowers apart.

Links 6/4

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Due to a weekend-trip hiatus (NYC was great, thanks), this links post is a bit later than usual.  Coincidentally, many of these links seem to have a bit of an LGBTQ theme.
Happy Pride!

Let’s get the smell stuff out of the way first:

  • Auklets are a bird species in which males demonstrate fitness not only by very fancy and sexy crests, but seemingly also by emitting a strong tangerine scent, research finds.
  • Study finds that activation of a certain smell receptor speeds the progression of prostate cancer, suggesting new treatment methods via blocking of the receptor.
  • Department stores reevaluate traditional beauty and fragrance marketing techniques as the beauty industry changes.

All the feels:

Film thoughts:

Current events:

Odds and Ends:

Friday Links 5/18

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Happy Friday! It seems like a pretty good day 9a bit nippy) and I’m looking forward to some exciting doings this weekend.

How about you?

Links: But also it’s OSCAR DAY

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My life is dark and full of terrors but also pretty good. I’m still getting over my stomach bug/food poisoning, my landlords are creatures from the black lagoon, I have an exam tomorrow and an exam on Friday and I am NOT PREPARED (Constance the Perpetually Unready) but I had a lovely time in Spain and Malta over my break.

What can you do?

I woke up at 3 am for my flight back to France and I’m a mess trying to gain the energy to shower and study, but today is Oscar Day and I have some time-sensitive links that should go up. And also procrastination.

Allons-y!