Friday, February 26, 2016

The Monuments Men

Some mild Spoilers.

World War II is beginning to come to a close as the Allies slowly and surely beat the Nazis back out of the cities they've invaded. But a new problem that many didn't see coming arises: as the Nazi troops leave, they take with them whatever they want, and often destroy the city as they go. Cities full of old buildings and monuments of historical and artistic value. And they take whatever they can move; statues and paintings by the thousands. One man did see it coming, and he pulls together a group of rag-tag men who are willing to risk their lives. Their mission? To protect the art they can, and retrieve what was already stolen.

Damon and Clooney in a "old man" movie. What is the world coming to...?

Besides having the adapted screenplay written by him and being directed by him, The Monuments Men cast is led by . is his right-hand man, is an architect, is a sculptor, ran a ballet; is a Frenchman whose initial purpose I've forgotten, is the British team member, and is a young Jewish German who fled Germany before the war and serves as an interpreter. There's also present, as a French woman who keeps tabs on the art she witnesses being moved, but has a hard time trusting anyone with her knowledge. Of all these characters I was surprised to enjoy Jean Dujardin's the most. He had a natural charisma that the film's lackluster style couldn't drag down.

And with that remark I'm going to go ahead and say right now: I did not enjoy this movie. In fact, it bored me silly. I won't go so far as to say that it was a bad movie, because technically it was well-made, and I'm pretty sure it succeeded in doing exactly what it wanted to, and I want to give it credit for that. However, I have issues to take, and jaded insults to toss. So let this serve as a disclaimer, and let's get to it!

Please direct your attention to the front of the class.

I'll start with the boringness of it all. I haven't been this bored by a movie since I grew out of being too young to "get" some movies. And I have never been this bored during a Matt Damon movie. Lately I've been examining the building intensity before resolution of each act in a three-act story format, and over the past few weeks I've become very aware of it while watching movies. Well, Monuments Men was so boring that I couldn't tell what was supposed to be the act changes because it was all the same droning, dull, plodding tone. Looking back, I suppose the end of act one and two were deaths, which was... a bad idea. It was not a good idea. And even at the end when they find that one piece of art they've been looking for the whole time, I knew (and I was relieved) that it was finally the end, but it didn't feel like an end; it was just as anti-climactic and completely devoid of excitement as the rest of the movie.

Damon and Blanchett watch paint dry. Or this movie. It's tough to tell.

One of the film's main themes -- actually it was the main theme -- was the question of whether or not it was worth risking human lives to retrieve art that had been formed by human hands. Two of the Monuments Men die while protecting and searching for the stolen art. And both deaths are accompanied by sad monologues about the importance of their mission. But with each death and monologue I was less and less convinced. They kept saying it was about the history and the culture and I kept thinking that knowingly giving up human lives for memorabilia from the past is not a good trade.

Not to disparage the people who thought it was worth it and took the risk, I do respect them, but this whole movie was trying to justify that mindset as something that is always true and right, and it never won me over -- and not just because I disagreed with it. I watch movies all the time that proclaim things I disagree with, and I usually find myself having suspended belief for the movie's duration. It's not like I wasn't willing to briefly suspend my opinions in favor of those of The Monuments Men; it was just never able to pull my mind out of reality and into its story. I just spent the whole two hours sitting on the living room couch, bored, waiting for the action that never came, while rolling my eyes at the miles of spark-less conversations, the calm attempts at humor and the overplayed death scenes.

Okay, pack it up -- show's over!

Once in a while there was a moment or two that edged briefly onto the memorable and enjoyable side, and then there were the few things I actively disliked, but for the most part this film never touched me at all. Neutral. Sometimes a movie being careful and winding up neutral is worse than its taking risks and failing in the eyes of some. What am I saying? It's always worse. It seems to me that this movie could have learned a thing or two from its brave and committed title heroes.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Spoilers are marked.
I watched this movie using VidAngel, so thanks Daniel, for recommending it!

The spy genre gets the gleefully self-aware treatment when gentleman spy Harry aka, Galahad () recruits a trouble-making young man, Eggsy () to follow in his father's footsteps and train to become a spy for the Kingsman -- a very posh secret agency whose members go by knights of the round table code names, and save the world with graceful violence, in the best suits a tailor can cut, before nobly fading away again without receiving any thanks or recognition.

Kingsman is basically every spy-movie cliche made extreme and put into a film. On purpose. And it's great!

Act one takes its time and gives us a great introduction to said trouble-maker-soon-to-be-hero. Eggsy's father died saving Galahad's life, and Eggsy seems to have inherited that nobility. But his side of mischief is a double helping -- he's very light-fingered for one, plus has a careless, impulsive attitude and never considers anything before jumping straight into trouble for no real reason at all. He's the ideal kind of lead for this movie, exuding heaps of energy and charm with a matter-of-fact edgy side. Taron Egerton's breakout role, and no surprise; besides being quite the looker, his screen presence is sparkling, and effortlessly draws you in to care for this character. And the script gave a pleasantly unexpected amount of depth to Eggsy's troubles that together with Egerton's characterization and performance made for a very endearing hero very fast.

So when the second act starts and Eggsy must compete with a large bunch of Kingsman recruits who also happen to be mostly made up of total snobs, I was even more involved in the training than I was the real stuff once that really got going. This was the height of the movie's fun factor. I mean, putting a bunch of kids in a competition and asking us to root for the fish-out-of-water underdog isn't the most original thing ever, and not naturally conducive to being uniquely entertaining, but somehow it totally was. The tests they are given for training were all great fun, because they were the sort of cheesy, crazy things that old spy movies were incapable of doing, and newer movies with the right budget never do for fear of being unoriginal.

Kingsman didn't care about being unoriginal, because it made everything unoriginal feel original anyway!

The action was quite stylized in an unusual way and was used quite impressively. The best fight scene was the one in the pub near the beginning, where you can see the style play out the most. The choreography is top-notch, fun and exciting and everything the movie promises. The camera lets you see everything, not by staying still and just avoiding the dreaded shaky-cam, but by actually following the action in order to enhance it. It pans down along with someone being smashed into the floor, zooms in and out crazily and moves in unexpected twists and arcs, and it all works beautifully. Later it's toned back a little but the final battle still had plenty of coolness going for it.

The worst of the action comes along with a few other downfalls, right around the third acts beginning, when training is over, and the saving the world part starts up. It all starts at the quaint little church in Kentucky where Christians are represented as violent crazed extremists who in reality would be a cult. So I started out this scene with my eyebrow raised, and then the film began to fall apart and lose me on an artistic level as well. The length of the violence there is far, far, too long, not serving any purpose to the plot or to our entertainment. (Spoilers!) Then, it sets up Galahad for his death -- which I did like how they took the opportunity to have some fun thumbing their nose at the spy movie cliche, but the result of it was Galahad dying very anticlimactically, with, for me a least, a lot left wanting in his relationship with Eggsy. I'm not sure if or how they could have done it better, but sadly that was the beginning of a slight but noticeable downhill slope.

Quite a good cast. I never mention it, but is in it too. And . And !

The film evens out again for a while as 's agent Merlin takes over for Galahad as leader, and he, Eggsy, and Roxy () another new recruit take on 's lisping, queasy-stomached super villain intent on saving the Earth by destroying most of its inhabitants. They get into a bit of a groove -- Mark Strong does wonders for anything he's in -- but after a while it teeters downward again as you realize that most of the deeper meaning behind all the vibrancy and fun died with Galahad. Eggsy still needs to save his mother and baby sister along with the rest of the population, but there's no real urgency present. Not like when he and five other recruits were falling and one had a sabotaged parachute. That was urgent -- but that was in the second act.

Another cliche is smashed when Samuel L. Jackson's humanity-destroying device is actually set off, instead of being stopped just in time. The device causes people to want to kill each other, and that commences while Eggsy has the final showdown with Swords-For-Legs Girl () which was cool, but when he stands gloating over her dead body while millions of people kill each other and has to be reminded my Merlin to go turn it off -- that was the film's low point. Not right for his character either. (End of Spoilers.) I loved that they wanted to have fun turning the cliches around in such a fun, self-aware way. They even slyly broke the fourth wall two or three times with cheeky brilliance. But a film needs to have meaning, and by the end of Kingsman, they had forgotten and left behind most of the meaning they began with.

Waiter: "Would sir care for a drink?" Eggsy: "Martini. Gin, not vodka, obviously. Stirred for ten seconds while glancing at an unopened bottle of Vermouth." Brilliant.

Still, overall, Kingsman has more depth and more things to involve you than your average gleefully violent, casually profane R-rated action comedy. It has... manners. And what with such a charming lead, the refined, sophisticated, bitingly sharp humor, a plot that is deceptively basic, involving you by just plain being good, and the truly original and outstanding action, this is a breezy, fun and stylin' spy flick that deserves its place on the ultra-cool team.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Battle Creek

This review is Spoiler-free.

In this cleverly cynical police procedural, Detective Russ Agnew () gets stuck working with one of the FBI's best, Special Agent Milton Chamberlain () when he is sent to assist with the small-town precinct's lack of resources and manpower. And as they go through unintentional routines of "good cop, bad cop" with the criminals of Battle Creek, Michigan, they also find plenty of time to clash heads with each other, bringing a whole new inverse meaning to the buddy-cop genre.

Best tv show ever! So, of course... cancelled.

Battle Creek was a CBS crime drama that was cancelled in the middle of a thirteen-episode first season in the spring of 2015. It was recently added to Netflix's instant streaming, and that's where I found it. I'll save you the whiny spiel about how sad and unfair it is that it was cancelled, and focus on why it's a show worth watching anyway -- whether it's thirteen episodes long, or three, or three-hundred.

And therefore, I must start with the characters. They are both the beginning and the end of what makes this show stand out among so many other crime dramas flooding the airwaves. I only started the show because Dean Winters was in it, who I absolutely loved in his smallish but memorable role in Life on Mars (and who didn't love those "Mayhem" Allstate commercials?). Then there's Josh Duhamel, who I never thought to take seriously before -- mostly because of his role as the pathetically characterless soldier guy in the first three Transformers movies. Both these guys get a well-deserved chance to shine here.

"You're a good person, Detective Agnew." "And you, Agent Chamberlain? You're the devil."

If Russ being played by Dean Winters doesn't immediately clue you in to his character, let me enlighten you: He's a stereotypical brazen, cynical detective with a harsh and crusty exterior... and apparently, an equally crusty interior to match. He's a good cop who gets results (often in an "ends justifies the means" type way) but not a widely liked person -- to understate the common dislike of him -- and he dislikes everyone right back. Milt is the exact opposite. He is, in fact, unreal in how perfect he is. Never a hair out of place, and he's kind and gracious to everyone he meets -- to the point of naïveté. He goes by the book, never seems to be wrong, and every resources and technology is at his fingertips. So Russ absolutely hates him. But there's something off and insincere about Milt's unfailing positive attitude, and Russ, the only person not taken in by it, is determined to uncover what he suspects is a very dark past for Milt.

Ah, Milt. Dumpster-diving and still spotless. Meanwhile, Russ is almost always injured in some way.

There's also a large supporting cast present who all get a turn in the spotlight, and add rich depth and humor to the show. The precinct Commander () finally breaks the spell of all police captains in crime dramas being annoying to me with a leader who's not just there to create roadblocks and be hard-nosed about everything. Holly () the office manager is a fun character; she's a secret genius, and figures out just as many cases as the detectives do. She also has a will-they-won't-they romantic tension going with Russ, which has its due ups and downs. There's detectives Erin () and Aaron () and Font () and Niblet () with their own thoughtfully-developed personalities; and the ME () is quite a stubborn foul-mood-ed handful, which is quite amusing to see her play in scenes with Milt, who she loves, and Russ, who she hates, while Russ hates both of them and Milt loves both of them.

Erin, Niblet, Font, Aaron, and Holly.

In the middle of all these fun relationships, they solve crime! On the surface, it masquerades as a typical cop show. There's a new case to solve every week, and they are solved by following clues and evidence and interviewing suspects... etc, etc, with lots of insults and cynicism on Russ's part, and overly-dramatic, inspiring speeches on Milt's... and wacky comparisons of maple syrup to meth, and police dog rivalries. The cases are taken seriously and there's real stakes at play -- and in some ways it goes even darker than an average serious drama -- but the ever-present cynical attitude creates a depth of meaning and comedy that is totally unexpected and totally inimitable.

It's almost satirical. It's definitely tongue-in-cheek. They put clichés into the script and give them a little twist, and suddenly... it's Battle Creek. It's a subtle thing, and there's nothing I can equate it to, but it's masterful. There will be a cheesy cliché, but it's turned around into not a cliché, so it's not cheesy, so it actually, successfully conveys the idea that the original cheesy cliché was going for! And thus the show is filled with an amazing amount of unexpectedly poignant character moments, while never having to sacrifice a single bit of humor to get them because the humor was built in, allowing for, and practically creating the sincere moment.

The best duos are the unexpected ones. And the ones that make you laugh.

And I promise, if you start this show and love it you'll love the way it ends too. After falling in love with this show the possibility of a weak ending worried me quite a bit, but happily everything that we want to see wrap up gets wrapped up -- season-arcing mysteries and character tensions, and there was nothing left wanting. Not that I hypothetically wouldn't say no to more episodes, but these thirteen left me ultimately satisfied, and it's better that the show ended on a high note with a few ideas unexplored, rather than fizzling out after a few seasons, tired and empty.

The mysteries are smart at an average level, but Battle Creek rises above the mantra by never striving to confuse you with gimmicks and endless rabbit trails that lead to the bad guy being pulled out of a hat for the end twist. It keeps its plots neat and honest, and well-written in the details, and I appreciated that. I guess the whole show is so great and memorable because of the way it was developed. The pretty normal plots that were given outstanding details to enhance them; the script that edged on clichéd and satirical at the same time; and the characters, who were made to be stereotypes just so they can point and laugh before breaking out of them in impressive and humorous ways. With its brilliantly unique self-aware wit, a winning good-cop bad-cop duo, and plenty of heart to keep you invested, this show is nine hours and forty-five minutes of an unexpectedly good time of crime-solving -- the Battle Creek way.

Thursday, February 11, 2016


Tracks tells the true story of Robyn Davidson, the young Australian woman who in 1977 walked 1,700 miles across the Australian desert, with four camels and a dog for company, just for the heck of it.

In her words, "I just want to be alone."

This movie isn't totally accurate to the truth, but strangely enough, I don't much care. I'll will leave it at that, and not compare the film to reality. Robyn, played by , is in need of money to begin her journey, so at the suggestion of a friend of a friend -- a blundering, overly talkative American photographer named Rick () -- she writes to National Geographic to ask for funding. They give it to her, on the condition that she allows a photographer to meet her occasionally on her journey to take pictures for the article. Guess who? It seems that Robyn will never get away from people for long enough; the introvert's eternal struggle.

Later, Robyn would write the article that accompanied Rick Smolan's photos in the magazine, and expand the story to a book.

Though there are many neat and thoughtful things about this movie, the one that I picked up on most was how perfect an example of an introvert Robyn is. To the extreme point of running off into the desert in an effort to avoid people (though that isn't the only reason she goes). The whole movie is from Robyn's perspective -- in the fullest sense of the word. We see only what she sees, but we also see things through her perspective. We interpret things how she does, we think the way she does, and we want the same things she does. Though I'm sure it's been tried, I have never seen a movie be successfully tell a story through a character's perspective before. This is the first, and it's a quite incredible result.

Like in the case of Rick for instance, when she and we first meet him, he makes an utterly dislikable introduction, loudly stumbling over a dumb quip about how big camels are like a stereotypical, painfully unaware American dweeb. We cringe heartily along with Robyn and wish he would leave. In reality, if we personally were there, would we still get the same exact impression of him? Probably not; but because this was Robyn's impression it is also ours. We are not obliged to come to our own conclusions about the world surrounding our heroine in this film, we only have to sit back and let hers soak in. When she feels claustrophobic around her group of friends, it's remarkably accurate to reality.

Extroverted? Ever wonder what it's like to be introverted? Watch this film and find out!

Because we are basically put into Robyn's mind for the duration of the film, we instantly accept her, and identify with her, and understand her almost perfectly. This result is, I'm sure, the product of many things going right and being done well -- the original novel, the adapted script, the directing -- but most obviously, it comes from the acting. Mia Wasikowska is superbly talented and endlessly convincing as this determined and restless young lady. She is delicate and quiet, with an inner strength bursting through. Most of the movie she is silently walking through the desert, and even when things happen she rarely speaks -- but watching her is more than enough. Seeing her adventure, though her eye as it were, it never even fringes on boring.

Though I did have a mild interest before, I admit it was Adam Driver's presence that gave me the final kick needed to actually watch this. I'm glad it did since it made me watch this movie that has so much more to it than a guy who was in Star Wars playing a supporting role, but his doofus of a character did end up being one of the great things about the film. As Robyn's perspective of Rick changes, so does ours, and we watch him mellow into the flow of the film until finally he fits. And when Robyn warms to him and is happy to see him, so are we, forgetting how annoying he was at first. It was so interesting to see, and Driver sold the changing perspective, being perfectly annoying, and then perfectly pleasant, and convincing us that he never really changed.

"Some nomads are at home everywhere. Others are at home nowhere, and I was one of those." - Robyn Davidson

The movie's introverted tone is solidified by elegant cinematography, ranging from gorgeous shots of the desert landscape, to elegant closeups of Mia's tanned squinting face and windblown hair. It's an artistic recreation of an event that was originally represented artistically, and it represents very well. There is also occasionally a thoughtful and profound narration that enhances the tale like a charm. The music also is quite lovely and very relaxing -- in an adventuring kind of way. That sounds like a contradiction, but really the film manages to find a place where the viewer can simultaneously relaxed and enjoying themselves while still being involved in the thrill and the life-threatening plights of the daring adventurer.

So obviously I expected to enjoy this or else I never would have turned it on, but as things are like to do when you go into them with no expectations or preconceptions, I was completely taken over and taken by surprise by this remarkable little adventure tale. Tracks is a deep tale extremely well-told, and endlessly respectful its determined heroine; a restless woman who left everything behind and risked it all for a chance to do something daring and hard, that would define her, knowing that the journey is always worth it, and, like most things in life, all it takes is one step at a time.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Hamlet (2000)

This review is Spoiler-free.

After reading Hamlet for the first time with fellow blogger Hamlette's read-along, I was very excited to win this DVD in her giveaway, and have finally watched it!

This poster though... is beautiful.

becomes the first film version of Hamlet I've seen. The turn-of-the-21st-century Hamlet adapted and directed by is modernized to fit the day -- Denmark is a company; Elsinore is a hotel; and everyone certainly dresses like it's the year 2000. But Shakespeare's script is still used almost exclusively. The king has been murdered by his brother for his "throne" and for his wife, and the prince, Hamlet, is out for revenge.

The most obvious thing about this adaptation is it's modernization. I always have, and imagine always will enjoy modernization's of stories. They appeal to me; I'm not exactly sure why, but they do. I get a kick out of seeing the way small (and some larger) things are tweaked to fit the new era the story is set in. This movie is no exception. However, I was very early struck by the idea that this film should have actually been futuristic. Maybe it's because the year 2000 unfortunately thought it was futuristic though it was quickly proved otherwise. (Or, maybe it was just because I liked Ethan Hawke in Gattaca so much.) The tone of the film was very suppressed and understated, which is often found in science fiction dramas, and some things, like the architecture of the Hotel Elsinore, was beautifully modern. But then there were some obvious thing that are easily dated to the 2000's -- Hamlet's knitted hat, and yellow sunglasses, the women's hairstyles, and Ophelia's costumes -- all date the film, and ruin the ageless effect.

The next thing that left an impression was the tone -- like I said, very similar to a sci-fi drama, and I often do really love that kind of tone. Here I appreciated it, but often wished to be given more. But the characters usually delivered their lines with such repressed emotion that I couldn't tell any more what they were thinking any more than I could while reading.

... why did he need to be in a Blockbuster?

One of the things that excited me most about watching film adaptations of Hamlet was that I wanted to see what other people's interpretations of the story looked like. This one didn't give me as much to chew on as I expected, and most of the things left open to interpretation in the original script were also left open here. Like, when Hamlet accuses his mother of murder, I was sure she was innocent; but when she asks the king to pardon her after drinking the wine, she seems definitely guilty. Which is it? I suppose the filmmakers want us to decide, but I wanted to be convinced.

Hamlet himself took most of the change that the heavy tone created, and was almost nothing like the Hamlet I imagined. I enjoy Ethan Hawke's work, and there no one who does the kind of character he does here like he does -- the inner passion that you can see boiling under his stony face -- but he spends the movie in that state, brooding, silent, angry. Not utilizing the outward fire, or the wit, or the liveliness that Hamlet had in my mind's eye. Hawke speaks very deliberately always, and in monotones, and when he'd monologue to himself, I could never grasp the depth or the meaning behind what he was saying.

Not to say it was a bad character, but just, I thought, a bad adaptation of a character.

The best, I thought, was the king, Claudius. came across well through more simple, honest, easy to understand line delivery, and a natural theatricality. Horatio () was more of a side character than I wanted. My impression of him from the book was that he was the noble character that witnesses everything (sort of like Nick Carraway of The Great Gatsby), so the story is more or less through his eyes. There wasn't anything to dislike about Geary's performance, so I wanted to see more of him. I enjoyed, but I had less preconceived notions about Laertes, and I am biased toward liking Schreiber.

I didn't particularly like ' Ophelia. I am currently not sure if I really like Ophelia at all, but while Stiles' lines were said convincingly, I never felt much for her. Well, I never felt much for any of the characters -- a side effect of the tone. Everyone else -- The Queen (), Polonius (), Rosencrantz () and Guildenstern (), were all not very impressive, but honestly, as far as my liking as appreciating characters goes, they all were none of them very high, or very low.

I wish I could put a photo of Liev Schreiber here, but alas, I could not find a single good one.

Before I actually sat down and watched this, I was kinda worried that I wouldn't feel qualified to judge it. I'm certainly a relative newbie to Shakespeare's Hamlet. So I was rather surprised when I immediately began to noticed things that I liked and didn't like about this adaptation. I wouldn't be surprised if after watching more adaptations my opinions on this one change slightly, and I definitely judge it more from the standpoint of understanding film than understanding Hamlet. But I suppose that's just it -- Hamlet, no matter how overwhelming and complicated on page, is still a film once it's put on film. And this one strikes a square balance between good and bad, by having some qualities that I really liked, and some that were disappointing.

As a film, it was engaging and enjoyable, and successfully made to suit a certain style. As an adaptation, it wasn't what I would hope for; though I'd imagine it was the adaptation someone would hope for. The coolest thing, I found, is that seeing this brought me to a full understanding, that I know what I want to see in a Hamlet adaptation, even if this isn't it. And that makes me even more excited for all the other Hamlet's I will see it the future. I doubt it will be my favorite once I have the luxury of multiples to pick from, but I am more than glad to have taken the journey.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Upcoming Movie Roundup - February

January saw no surprises, and I was so busy that I didn't even get out to a third Star Wars viewing! I enjoyed Sherlock: The Abominable Bride at home, and am currently enjoying Agent Carter's second season. February has a few movies to talk about and a few movies I'd like to see at home sometime, but it seems that I can just copy and paste my theater plans from last month: if I go to the theater, it'll probably be for The Force Awakens. And that's fine by me!

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Feb 5th; PG-13
Ugh, I feel like such a bad Jane Austen fan for even mentioning this. But look: I love Jane Austen. I love zombies. I have already seen many Austen-knock-off movies (Lost in Austen, Jane Austen Book Club, Austenland, etc.) and they were all their very own special brand of terrible. Some more so than others. If I were to not watch this movie, it would be because I'm be afraid that it would ruin my enjoyment of the good, 1995 P&P. But I've already been subjected to all those knock-offs, and the 2005 P&P, which didn't ruin the other one, and how much worse could it be with zombies? Not much -- at least there's no Keira Knightley! It might be dumb and terrible and disrespectful, but it'll also have zombies, so it's not supposed to be taken seriously. Plus, it's got Lily James! And Matt Smith! And Sam Riley! (And wow, I'm actually kinda sad this isn't just a regular P&P adaptation...) So that's my explanation for this next sentence: I want to see this movie. Help.

Hail, Caesar!
Feb 5th; PG-13
WELL -- the Coen Brother's new movie looks like a win! (It's got a comma and an exclamation point in its title, so you know it's gonna be good!) This trailer is downright brilliant, and I would watch it if the whole movie was like that even without a plot. The Coens always seem to be doing something new, and totally out-of-the-box, and this one fits the bill more than ever. It even almost feels like a Wes Anderson film from the trailer, though with a distinctly Coen's sense of humor. This total oddball throws back to Hollywood's Golden Age, and follows around a Hollywood "Fixer" (Josh Brolin) as he... fixes.... things.... ... The whole cast is absolutely giant -- George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Scarlett Johansson, Canning Tatum, Jonah Hill... It doesn't really matter to me whether the movie is generally considered bad or good. I want to see it. That cast, those directors, the 50's, Hollywood -- I just must see it. But, if I were to venture a guess, I would think it'd certainly be on the good side.

The Choice
Feb 5th; PG-13
Okay, anyone who knows me know that I am not in any way a Nicholas Sparks fan. But, anyone who knows me well knows that I surprisingly often watch movies based on his novels anyway. When it comes to sappy romantic drama, there is nothing better. And I really do meant that; these movies are tear-jerking, squishy, cheesy cry-fests, but they are of a very high quality. So high, in fact, that actors I like very often get cast in them. Like this one, for instance, stars Teresa Palmer of Warm Bodies and Benjamin Walker of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The zombie killer and the vampire killer come together for a little Southern romance. Nicholas Sparks or not, that's interesting enough -- maybe even if someone winds up dead! Maybe.

Feb 12th; R
[Rant] Not watching Deadpool will probably be one of the most disappointing moments in my movie-watching career. I love Deadpool. When I saw X-Men Origins: Wolverine I didn't even know who he was, but since this movie became a thing I've looking into him and found out more about him than any other superhero yet. The strips he's in are absolutely hilarious, and his powers are brilliantly gory. But this movie... I guess I knew from the first trailer when I actually had to specify "green band trailer" in order to find the appropriate one, but this movie goes beyond what I'll allow myself to watch, and in fact, what I want to watch. It's rated R. No duh. But let me break it down: Violence -- okay, that's good. Deadpool would probably be terrible without R violence. Language -- "language throughout" specifically. That'll be about 100 f-bombs. Whew. I can brave language, but even then it usually detracts from the movie. All I see here is 100 times someone could have said something original. Sexual content -- yep, can I just ask, WHY? Why does the movie need this? Answer: it actually doesn't. And here's the real kicker: Graphic nudity -- that takes the cake. And that brings me to my point which encapsulates the whole problem I have with this movie. This movie is not out to make a good, fun, original Deadpool movie. It's all about the shock and awe. It wants to push the envelope as far over the edge of edginess as it will go, and see how many fans eat it up like so much grocery store birthday cake. If I'm right about this movie, it won't be funny, it won't be original, and it certainly won't be well-acted, but if I'm right, everyone will still believe it is. If you're excited for this movie and plan to see it (and if you see it and love it) I'm sorry to be so harsh, but I've thought on this subject a lot and have some pretty passionate opinions about it. I'm just really disappointed right now. [/rant]

Gods of Egypt
Feb 26th; PG-13
Huge monsters. Ancient heroes. Cheesy, low quality dialogue, and gobs and gobs of visual effects that aren't-really-that-impressive. It looks like the new class of Clash of the Titans is here! Which means it'll probably be a fun popcorn watch, but I would never pay to see it. But, since it also has Rufus Sewell in it, I'll watch it as soon as I can for free.

How's the month of February looking for you?