So, it seems “Movie Monks” is now on an extended hiatus due to bandwidth issues and Paul being busy. As such, I’ve been watching a crazy amount of movies with no public outlet to vent how I feel about them. I’m going to summarize what I’ve seen in the past while. This list won’t be exhaustive, there are many MANY more films and shows that I’ve been watching, these are just the ones that stand out in my mind for one reason or another.
Mad Men- Watched all of it again and I’ve started watching season 1 AGAIN (third time). Liked it before but now I’m convinced this is the best television show running right now, and perhaps of all time but I’m not really qualified to say that. Really amazing show though, they build up a collection of interesting, multi-layered characters and then play around with their relationships and it is never not engrossing. Three more seasons! YAY!
The Twilight Zone- Watching Mad Men actually prompted this as they mention it a few times. Watched some episodes as a kid but now that I know the public library has all of it, going to be watching a whole lot more. This show is amazing, especially the first few seasons when the episodes are only 25 minutes long. Just concise, weird, sometimes funny, sometimes creepy little stories, many of which hold up exceedingly well. Only saw one season 4 episode, Jess-Bell, which is when they bumped it up to 50 minutes. It was good but more of a fairytale story than a sci-fi and I prefer the latter. Still, easier to marathon four or five short episodes than some big ones. But I digress, show is amazing and still unmatched as an anthology of bizarre little tales.
Cape Fear- Another Mad Men-inspired choice (to be clear, we are talking about the Robert Mitchum/Gregory Peck original). I’m also a fan of Scorsese’s remake, which helped prompted this as well. So, Mitchum is great. That guy can do an effective arrogant villain and he does so with panache right here. Peck…is kind of boring, however, as his put-upon victim. Even though Nick Nolte’s take on the role is a little over-the-top (which fits that movie perfectly, by the way) it was still more interesting to watch. He gets frazzled to the point where he is kind of destroying his own family while trying to defend it, which is more interesting to watch than the quiet, mild-mannered Peck calmly deal with the situation. But yeah, movie holds up okay regardless, just my biggest beef with it.
Errol Morris- I’d seen The Fog of War several years ago but nothing really prompted me to delve into his other films until Netflix enabled that. I started my three film marathon with The Thin Blue Line which is absolutely amazing and should be seen by everyone. Showcases just how incompetent the justice system can be in an entertaining and informative way. Then I went back to the beginning of Morris’ career with Gates of Heaven which I found pretty dull by comparison, though that just seems inherent in the quirky subject matter of pet cemeteries. Thing is, I find nothing about people being upset about their pets dying funny, so this movie just wasn’t connecting with me at all. I expect the reason most people like it is they find laughing at people’s misery over things they view as unimportant amusing but that’s not cool man. I’m looking at YOU, Roger Ebert. Anyway, closed things out with Standard Operating Procedure which was good and upsetting like all the best documentaries are. I remember when the stories about the prisoner abuse in Iraq started coming out but I had no idea what happened with that so this movie was pretty interesting, despite its morbidity. So yeah, that Morris cat is alright, though my favorite of his was the one I started with, The Thin Blue Line. Great, great film.
Captain America: The Most Adventurous Avenger Ever- Not a lot to say other than this is my favorite superhero film of the year. It has a great high-adventure feel, Evans is likable, Weaving is villainous, Jones is funny and Tucci is lovable, and Cap has no qualms with just killing dudes, which I enjoyed way too much. He has a gun! A superhero with a gun wins every time.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon- I’ve balked at critics calling the previous Transformers films as disgusting wastes of time and money but I can’t really disagree with this latest one. What a terrible, miscalculated piece of trash this film is. The thing that bothered me the most was every single attempt at comedy (with the possible exception of Ken Jeong being ridiculous) fell so completely flat I was just baffled. The interview scene where young Shia calls an elderly Japanese fellow an “Asian Colonel Sanders” is pretty much the worst thing I’ve seen on a screen this year simply because it thinks that you’ll think that is funny, which I honestly found offensive. Yeah I know, a movie made by a toy company isn’t likely to stimulate anyone’s intelligence but that scene crossed the line for me. Maybe it was the mood I was in or something but yeah, terrible film.
Green Lantern- Speaking of terrible films…yeah, not much to say other than its really awful and broken and they probably should never make another one of these.
I Saw the Devil- Really liked this one, probably going to buy it sometime soon. Just so dark and violent and crazy, reminded me how bizarre Korean cinema can get. So, a secret agent not unlike Jason Bourne is on assignment when his pregnant wife is killed by an extremely prolific serial killer. He then uses his two weeks of leave to hunt him down, but at some point his quest for revenge clearly goes too far and the results are grimly entertaining. Yeah, violent, disturbing, sometimes funny. In short, great.
Jesus Camp- So, I was raised in a conservative home and I went to Christian camps and attended a Christian private school but nothing I experienced was as close-minded and crazy as what’s going on in the Evangelical Church in the States. Seeing kids being force-fed their parents ignorant beliefs and political views is crazy disturbing. A grown woman chewing out kids for liking Harry Potter to the point where tears are streaming down their faces and they are falling on their knees in shame is also disturbing. Basically, the fact that this is a documentary and at least 30 million Americans are like this is terrifying. When those kids grow up and start campaigning for office…man. SAVE US CHINA! TAKE OVER THE WORLD PLEASE!
So yeah, that’s what stands out to me right now. There were others, some I liked, some I didn’t but I think that is a fairly representative sampling.