Monday, December 31, 2012

End of the Year Self-Congratulation

If you look back at December 2011, I wrapped up the year in 4 posts. This time, I've cut it down to two and a quarter. Yes, I know it's patting myself on the back - but I'll try to be quick about it. 2012 has been a banner year. Since it's almost done, I figured I'd share some random info and reveal which posts I'm proudest of this year - like the August entry with news about Cronenberg trashing TDKR and three Batman-themed Fan-made Gems. I love it for having the magnificent "dirty car art" you see below:

This pic of some car's rear window should be in a locket around my neck!

Last year, some of my fellow-bloggers thought I was making too big a deal of the fact that I started making 3 posts per week for most of 2011. Maybe I was, but it felt like a big deal, as I was working hard as a lawyer, writer, and photographer. With all those professional obligations, it was tough to publish quality entries on a regular schedule.

So, of course, my hubris took over in April and I decided to up 2012's numbers to (at least) 16 entries per month. I created some new, regular tags - like the Question for the Week entries - as well as joining other sites, being sure that I had one+ new review coming out each week. I kept plugging away, offering weekly reviews, questions, and fan-made gems, as well as a random post. It was hard work, and I'm proud of the results. 

Why is Save the Date no longer in theaters?!

I haven't had a lot of days off this December. Actually, I'm at work today, just like I was on Christmas Eve (til 9pm!), and just like I was for half of the Saturdays and Sundays this month. As you can imagine, it's made trips to the theater a little difficult. I was very happy to have this weekend to rest, and I figured I would see a movie.

But a relative asked me to save Django for them, and I decided to see if I could take my mother and brother to see The Hobbit. Yet, even before I got the special request to hold off on Tarantino's latest, I decided which movie I would watch: Save the Date, the dramedy about two sisters and how they deal with their relationships with each other and with men; it stars Alison Brie and Lizzy Caplan.

Great shot!

As you can tell by this post's title, I wasn't able to find tickets no matter who thoroughly I searched on Fandango and

Seriously, what gives? This movie came out 16 days ago in limited release and it's not playing in any of the dozens of movie theaters in the five boroughs! I know that a lot of movies come out at the end of the year, and I know a lot of it is kid-fare that really drives most movie ticket sales, and that's just peachy for everyone involved. I remember how much fun it was to catch movies during this dead spell with an early end to the college/high school semester, as well as tons of days off from work.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Reviewing with Others, Pt. 34: Better Than Something: Jay Reatard

Sorry, all. First I had an internet outage, then a brief shopping trip turned into a 2-hour, 3 or 4 mile stroll over much of Midtown Manhattan. I would've changed the time on the post for today, otherwise. Hell, I made a last-minute choice, so I still have to go back outside to watch Save the Date in a local theater...

I'm going to publish my review of Better Than Something: Jay Reatard by 10PM tonight. As with all my off-site indie movie reviews, I will update this space with a link to the post, which will go up at 9:50PM EST at Man, I Love Films.

"It Ain't Gonna Save Me" is a great track and it has a fun video.

I made the deadline I set for myself! I win again! - even if I needed 40 extra minutes to add all the whistles and bells to it... In any case, I'll see you all for one (or possibly two) posts tomorrow.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Question for the Week of Dec 24-30: Best 2012 Film Experience

What was my happiest movie moment of 2012?
Well, this was a fortunate year, so I had a few of those. Easy examples: The Avengers went off with barely a hitch and gave us a few Fan-made Gems, and Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises brought that director's Batman trilogy to a problematic-but-still-satisfying conclusion.

Still, I couldn't quite predict that my anticipation for Looper would play out differently than I had expected, and yet still wind up a knock-out. A year before it came out, I'd heard about this pic, and waited for it - like a Christmas present. Actually, I'm nervous-excited for Dead Shadows and Bad Kids Go To Hell for similar reasons.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Rare Exports, My 2012 Holiday Movie

I was comforted, a little, when I learned this week that Netflix had a legitimate "outage" on Christmas Eve and that the problem wasn't on my end. This explains why I couldn't watch my intended Holiday movie in time for my planned review. I'm less pleased that Netflix decided to blame this interruption on Amazon, a bit of news about which you should all read for yourselves, then come back here and share your opinions with me.

I was very grateful to DJ for his excellent Xmas review of The Lion in Winter, an entry which I hope you enjoyed as well. Now, I want to share the post that would've gone up, but for this silly internet outage:

Sometimes, it's best to go in knowing nothing. Certain pictures have managed to meet or exceed expectations with a decent amount of spoilage, but the best surprises come when you really have no damn idea what's coming. As I researched my 2012 Holiday review, 2010's foreign Rare Exports was mentioned by several sites.

The upshot of my impression was: Finnish horror film wherein a demonic Santa Claus wreaks havoc on a group of reindeer herders. The general positivity and unlikely premise made this an easy choice, and I'm glad to say RE matched its rep. It was a fine, controlled little horror/fantasy film.

We begin the film in English (with no subtitles), where an English businessman talks to an excavation foreman. The foreman talks about the unusual stuff they're finding inside a mountain and the knowing exec on the other side of the table assures him that they're after something unique, valuable, and dangerous. The boss then gives the team leader a sign to hang up in the office, a sign with new workplace rules like "No Spitting" and "No Cursing." Only one man in that office thinks its a joke.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Year-End Roundup 2012

It's that time! 2012 will soon be gone, and 2013 will get all up in our business. I'm sad to see it go, as 2012 has been a banner year for Net-flixation! I shattered all my records for hits in a month, and in a day, repeatedly, and I've posted more often than every other day this year.

But I should probably just get to it. Office parties, Santacon, presents, end-of-year business... We're all busy, so I'll stop being so pleased with myself. It's time for a review of the year in movies (for me). I still haven't thought of categories better than what I've used since 2010's Roundup... nor did anyone suggest other categories for me to consider, so if you don't like the sections I have, it's partly your fault. And I gave the winner for "Biggest Vicarious Disappointment" an embed to a Fan-made Gem by the How It Should Have Ended crew...

Oh, well - Enjoy!:

Best New Movie (that I actually saw) - Looper. Which I still haven't reviewed yet. I'll get the DVD and review Johnson's hit soon after. It was imperfect, but incredibly surprising - and I loved Rian for creating a new work instead of every freaking 2012 movie being a reboot, remake or a franchise effort. I'm ashamed I haven't covered it yet. Let's move on, shall we?

Best Out-of-the-Blue Release - Sironia.

I try not to include, in these lists, the work that I do for other sites - in this case, Man, I Love Films. I can't help it, though. By taking over responsibility for their indie movie reviews, I've been exposed to a great many pictures that I never would have heard about - much less seen - otherwise. I loved a lot of those pix, but Sironia really stands out. It's the only 5-star review I've given over there.

For one thing, I only chose Sironia because I watched Angel, which introduced me to the slender acting powerhouse that is Amy Acker. Based solely on her being a lead, I chose this relationship drama, and got floored by how intelligent and touching it was. I had a great time watching it, and my review reflected the same. Please rent/buy it, if you haven't already; you'll have no regrets...

Most Internal-Conflict-Causing Film - The Cabin in the Woods.

Wow, Acker's in this one, too.
I saw this movie at the amazing Night Hawk theater in Williamsburg, with my good friend Scott G. We enjoyed the hell out of this experience, so I was conflicted in different ways than usual. I was laughing so hard I scarcely cared that the end progressed stupidly/unevenly, and it was never especially scary - as a "horror movie" should be... Cabin was a fun pic, despite its flaws, and was meant to be watched on a massive screen, surrounded by friends.

My inner struggle, then, was the point where I realized that this would only be "WB-movie scary" (e.g., Disturbing Behavior), and that there were still tons of plot problems, but that I should just enjoy how clever and funny it was. Finally, I was as pleased by tCitW as I was upset that the movie sat on the shelf for years while MGM went through financial problems. This feeling was even stronger since it would have been out earlier, if not for the studio's choice to convert it to 3-D - a decision which they later reversed. Grr! Argh!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Movies: The Lion in Winter

[Merry Christmas, and, also, f--k it. I had problems accessing Netflix last night - and, earlier in the week, DJ was kind enough to offer up an Xmas movie review. Serendipity gives me a decent excuse to push my own holiday post to tomorrow, with a thousand thanks to a standup dude who manages to write through a schedule that's far more punishing than my own... I go now to keep resting, and spend time with my family.

Happy holidays ya'll...]

"Well! Shall we hang the holly, or each other?"

There are a lot of dramas about family dysfunction at the holidays. It's a common trope, mainly because the holidays are times when family members that may not spend the rest of the year in close proximity get together.

Most of these holiday dramas suck to one extent or another, because the stakes are pretty mundane. Will Mom and Dad's marriage break up over the pressure of the holidays? Will Dad come to terms with the revelation that son Billy is gay?

One cure for this banality is The Lion in Winter. Just like any other Christmas drama family, the Plantagenets are getting together to celebrate the holiday. Wife Eleanor has been separated from husband Henry, but they're reuniting for Christmas dinner with their three sons, Richard, John, and Geoffrey, and their cousins Philip and Alais. As in other movies of this type, there will be conflict and shocking revelations that threaten to tear the family apart, and family relations will be driven to the breaking point.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Mass Effect Cartoon

Hello, all, the schedule for this week: today's Fan-made Gem will be followed by my Holiday movie review, which I'll posted once it's done. If that's this afternoon, fine - if it's tonight, also fine. This is my 15th straight full day of work, so tomorrow is most likely. I have entries ready for the week, with Thursday getting the big Year-End Roundup for 2012. I'm only missing a post for this Saturday, but I'm not going to worry about that right now. I'll try to go out to the movies tomorrow while I get some much-needed rest...

Technically, this is as much a Fan-made Gem as it is a Site Oddity, because I only write about games in my two You Shoulda Been A Movie entries. Then again, this is a movie blog, yet Net-Flixation has almost 30 posts about TV. Hell, I never even played Mass Effect! But I do enjoy a good joke...

It's also a Site Oddity because I've had this post ready for at least 5 months: IGN created the below video as an April Fool's Day joke this year, and I found out about it through Comics Alliance. Sure, it's way old now, but it's exceptional, really, because of what it does with a complicated story about (I looked this up) an unsteady alliance of various alien races who all struggle with each other before learning that they all share a mutual, unstoppable enemy. I figure this popular gaming franchise may well lead to a film series, so it's not too off-topic...

The real reasons I'm posting this video below are that (a) it's quite funny, even with slight knowledge of the characters and settings, and (b) this perfectly matches the tone of so many ridiculous 80's and 90's cartoons. It's like seeing a trailer for Inception in the style of an episode of Jem and the Holograms. Which is, now that I write those words, a pretty neat idea.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Reviewing with Others, Pt. 33: Sexy Baby

This isn't just another week, another indie movie review - it's also my 200th post this year! I don't want to half-ass anything, much less my writing, so I chose to end the year strongly and keep posting straight through the holidays. In fact, at present, there's only one remaining day in 2012 for which I don't have a post ready... It's the little things, right?

Today, I saw Sexy Baby, a documentary about how the modern sense of female sexuality is completely skewed, and how it can affect women. I am on record as being an egalitarian and feminist, but it's clear that this doc tackled an important subject: how modern porn, music, and advertising have influenced the public attitudes toward sex, and how this perception might have an unhealthy impact on real-life women of all ages - especially young girls who are just coming into their own.

I liked this documentary a lot, and I thought it was (at least somewhat) important; it deals with real issues, and I loved that. I think you should see it, too. You can read the rest of my opinion over here at Man, I Love Films. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Which Holiday Movie Will I Review?

Yes, yes, I'm sure you're all very interested, but here's the update:

The final tally came to 9 pictures. My one requirement was that the Holiday Season, usually Christmas, must play a role in the story. The list came down to 9 movies: Trading Places, Bad Santa, Reindeer Games, Black Christmas, Rare Exports (a 2010 horror film from Finland), The Ref, Better Off Dead, Scrooged, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. It's actually 10, if you include the Black Christmas remake as well.

It's a crazy set, right? I don't like making "typical" choices for a seasonal review, and I have plenty of time to cover old favorites like Miracle on 34th Street and A Christmas Story.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Honest Trailers: Prometheus

I gotta say, DJ's review of Prometheus made me feel sad. When I predict that a movie will suck - and it's not by Michael Bay or Paul W.S. Anderson, etc. -  and it ends up being awful, I don't feel all superior and proud and happy; no, I have those feelings anyway, all the time.

But I hope that movies will be made well, and be worth the investment of time and money on behalf of all involved. So, even though I wrote one article dismissing the announced premise behind this Alien reboot, and another claiming the just-released trailer still promised a suck-fiesta, I wasn't thrilled to read that the movie had an insane, senseless story to match its overdone symbolism and great special effects.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Too Similar?: Justin Bieber vs Corey

It's been a while since I did one of these, & I honestly don't follow pop music anymore - it's not about age, tho. MTV used to be an easy way to check out a variety of new music, but I don't even need to finish this sentence do I?  And for all the great things about NYC, the radio here tends to suck, especially for new tunes... Most importantly, I've had time to collect tons of my own favorites, and to develop my own tastes: electro rock, nu-jazz, downtempo, acid house...

All those genres compete for my time - and I still listen to classic rock, favorite bands like Cake, Garbage, Queen... I might have heard one track once, and I long ago assumed his music is not my style, but I sure have heard this kid's name a lot. And with all that setup, there's no need to draw this entry out further. That photo above is a picture of Justin Bieber that I saw on December 17th, 2012.

His outfit looks stupid - very retro, cutoff denim jackets are silly, and the gold chain is laughable, and he looks like 12 or something, the hair is dumb... I guess I shouldn't criticize too much, as I know that a lot of genuine high fashion can look pretty stupid to my eyes. And we all know my issues with modern teen heartthrob hair, right?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Question for the Week of Dec 17-23: What DVD Don't I Have and Really Want?

What DVD do I lack? Or, more accurately - not simply, "don't possess," but "don't possess, and it genuinely bothered me."
I know the answer to this from years ago. I had been hunting a few pix down in the early 00's, and it was crazy how no amount effort would produce more than a bunch of dead-ends. And, no, I'm not making holiday gift suggestions to anyone who knows me....

For one thing, I don't have a copy of Bad Taste. Any regular reader knows how much I love that film - enough that I don't need to own it for a while. I can get it whenever I want to, I'm not gonna watch it over and over, and I'm not going to play it for all my friends - although it would make for a great movie party. I can wait a good while before picking it up... 

The runner-up has to be John Woo's The Killer, another pic you already know I love. I have a VHS copy (yes, really, and it's my brother's, so...), but the disc was unavailable for a decade. I think the DVD was released twice - nor is it a movie you'd buy, then sell off later. If you bought The Killer, you're hanging on to it...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Recommended: Todd and the Book of Pure Evil

Despite my "prolific" blogging (a friend said that), I only look at two message boards. AV Club is one such, and one Angel/Buffy commenter advised horror fans to try a Canadian series called Todd and the Book of Pure Evil. I made a mental note, found I couldn't watch it in the US, and moved on. Months passed...

Three weeks ago, a huge smile bloomed on my painfully-cute face as I scanned Netflix Instant's awkward "New Releases" and "Recently Added" sections (awkward since they're not chronological, and are repetitive) - TatBoPE was available! I started watching, noting there were 25 eps to enjoy... And I was blown away. This show is fun, smart, and well-written. 

I was genuinely shocked. It happens seldom with me and TV offerings; you expect to get some nice ideas condensed for easy consumption, or charismatic actors/actresses with decent lines, but you don't expect a home run of quality. Alphas, Lost Girl's first season, the early run of Wilfred... it's rare, but many series can display an artistic bent and intelligence, while also being pure fun. This was one of those shows.

Todd and the Book of Pure Evil is about the titular Todd, a high school kid who loves three things: metal music, weed, and the hottest girl in school, Jenny. At the start, we see him in a music-competition at his school, Crowley High. His adversary is a better musician, a good-looking bully who's dating Jenny. After being embarrassed and dismissed, Todd discovers a tome that looks a lot like Evil Dead's book, The Necronomicon - but with the "metal horns" gesture on the cover. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Great Moments in... Behind the Scenes Footage

In early October, Flavorwire posted a great entry on 10 different behind the scenes clips from famous films. I really enjoyed this article - as I hope you do - this is a neat insider's look into works that we all know so well. I was especially happy for some of the things I learned from it.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Reviewing with Others, Pt. 32: Duck Beach

Double-dammit. Well, I was surprised with a request to work 16 hours over the weekend, and I'm on pace to hit just shy of that - 14. The result was that I got to watch the movie for this week's Reviewing with Others, but I haven't finished or scheduled the review yet. And so this post went up 30 minutes after I got into work.

I'm off of work at 6, so let's say it'll be up by 9PM over at Man, I Love Films. I'll update the previous sentence with a link and post a little "[Update]" sentence at the bottom of this post to confirm.

What do you have to look forward to this time out? Duck Beach, a documentary about a 12-13 year-old Mormon tradition. As having children is one of the most important requirements of their religion, single Mormons in their 20's-30's take the Memorial Day weekend to descend on a beach off the coast of North Carolina. Their purpose is the same: to find their "eternal mate."

It's a good documentary, and well worth watching. At 75 minutes, Duck Beach doesn't overstay its welcome; although there are a few things it could have added, DB treats its subject with respect as well as a realistic sense of humor. It's pretty damn funny to watch folks "wildin' out" by drinking Mountain Dew - or, as one of the beach-bound Mormons put it: Girls Gone Mild.

[12 minutes later than I predicted, motherb--ches! Pretty good for a guy that worked a 65-hour week, 14 of which were yesterday and today.]

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Question for the Week of Dec 10-16: Best Other Blog Post in 2012

What's the best film blog post - from another blog - that I read this year?
Well, this one is easy. I still haven't watched Black Swan, sadly. I know the movie's supposed to be great, and I look forward to it at some point, but I haven't had time. Fortunately, I am interested in things I haven't even seen yet - I was reading through Nikhat's film blog, and she lead me to a post by her friend, Sati.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Fan-made Comic Con Interview Gem

This is pretty funny. The interviewer talks to all these costumed people and just screws around with them, but everyone's in on the joke. The eskimo kiss montage is also brilliant!

Monday, December 10, 2012

F--K You, Zero Dark 30: F--k You, F--k Yu, F--k U

I am a supporter of Kathryn Bigelow. Anyone can tell you that women are vastly in the minority among major US film directors. I'm trying to think of some more, and I only come up with Nora Ephron, really. Unimpressive, right? Bigelow broke new ground in 2009, when she became the first woman to get a Best Director Oscar, as well as the first woman to get a DGA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Feature Film.

By all reports, The Hurt Locker
(the film for which she won) is an amazing movie, and I'm sorry I haven't seen it yet. But that's not to say that I've liked all her work: 
  • Strange Days was a complete clusterf--k of poorly-advised ideas (um, rape plays a huge part in that movie - including futuristic scifi innovations on rape). 
  • Near Dark was a fantastic movie, and one of the best vampire pix ever, really, while 
  • K-19: The Widowmaker bored me to tears, but I saw it ages ago and don't recall it well. 
  • Point Break may not be a deep and wonderful movie, but it's a fun action macho-fest, and it's actually quite cool that a woman made it.
So why am I deeply upset about Zero Dark Thirty? Its quality seems high, given the overwhelming-positive critical response to this pic that will get a limited release on December 19th, then a wide release in mid-January 2012. The quickest way to explain my issues today is to simply state this: all proceeds should go to fund better medical and psychiatric treatment for every soldier deployed to Afghanistan, as the hunt for that loser is pretty much the cause of all this. Today, that's my end-point here...

This is so gratifying, I think it almost counts as masturbation.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Reviewing with Others, Pt. 31: Knuckleball!

I was running a bit late, and a blank draft got posted by accident this morning, but I have a new review up now at Man, I Love Films. Knuckleball! is a visually-stunning documentary about the famous Red Sox starter, Tim Wakefield, as well as the latest master of the pitch, R.A. Dickey.

I retired my love of baseball a while ago, but even a Yankee fan could appreciate the skill and accomplishment behind Tim Wakefield's career. There's nothing better to say about an opposing player than "I don't ever want to face that guy." Knuckleball! had its flaws, but I enjoyed reminiscing along with it a lot, and the visual composition and effects were exceptional.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Great Moments in... Film Parody: Die Hard XII

There is something beautiful about The Ben Stiller Show. I may not have the greatest opinion of his later works, but that tv show built a lot of cred for Stiller, and with good reason. As such, I present to you now the awesome spoof that was featured on his series, Die Hard 12: Die Hungry.

A lot of people remember this skit, and if you don't, I hope you're in for a great big laugh. I honestly can't tell if this will hold up so well, so many years after it came out; or maybe I'm just entranced by a red-headed version of uber-hottie Janeane Garofalo. 

Maybe you're not convinced?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Reviewing with Others, Pt. 30: The Russian Winter

3 Quick site notes: I have added "captcha" again to the comment box. Sorry, but I've been getting too many spam comments, and they're genuinely starting to annoy me. It's still easy for people to comment on my posts, (which you can still do anonymously, btw) but if you get one that you can't read, just click the little "reload" button until you get one you can read.

Also, this is the site's 400th post! I'm happy and excited, but I can't do anything special for it right now. My earlier anniversary posts did that, but I wasn't posting 4+ times per week back then and I didn't have as much paid writing and photography work to compete with lawyering and this blog. Maybe I'll put it into the End of the Year posts that I will of course do again at the end of this month...

Finally, I will do a Christmas review this year, as I did twice before to my great pleasure. I'm taking suggestions for this year's entry - just call one out to me...

This weekend, I watched The Russian Winter, a documentary about the life (and resurgent Russian concert tour) of John Forte, a member of The Fugees. Part of the motivation for this doc was that Forte is an incredibly talented musician, but the other reason was Forte's unusual experience:

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Bad Boys, the Cursing Supercut

Yes, it's time to revisit Bad Boys - again. This entry won't trash a specific part of it, as I did before, or how it relates to the tidal wave of suck that is Michael Bay's respect for his audience, specifically their intelligence and maturity, and whether any of his viewers are, y'know, women who don't like seeing women depicted as... slutty, shallow receptacles.

If I had a daughter and she dated Bay, I would have to hire women to bitchslap the hell out of her; there could be no greater anti-feminist act by a woman. It'd be like a Ukrainian falling in love with Stalin. Yes, that is harsh of me, but Mike should just film porn if that's what he's into - not pretend he's making a movie.

It only pisses me off all the more that these pix make teens stupider because they don't realize they're not even getting any kind of story, much less a three-act story. Meanwhile, every object on screen - except the men - are fetishized to the point that I think I want to wear a condom while watching Mike's work. I know I've used this clip before, but it encompasses him so well:

go to the 1:50 mark. It's only missing an explosion to show his whole motif.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Question for the Week of Dec 3-9: Why is 28 Days Later a zombie film?

Why do you count 28 Days Later as a zombie film? They never use the word in the movie, and they don't feed on the living...
28 Days Later is a fantastic movie. I loved it - so much that I kind of don't want to review it. I'm not sure what I can claim about it, review-wise, that would be worth my and your time. But I can totally discuss how it's a fantastic zombie film, and why.

I remember my feelings from the first time I saw Romero's Night of the Living Dead. It's a scary pic, and   it was new and inventive - not only for its time, but to my young self. The whole "eat you" thing is shocking, but the real terror is in this idea that, suddenly, people are rising from their graves and attacking the living. 

You don't know why, which is so important to someone following a story. It could be that the Bible is true and it's the apocalypse, it could be the work of some demon or science - just having your dead loved ones come back with a vicious, mocking mindset is completely f--king terrifying. Over time, though, people started to apply hard-line "rules" to the concept, and that's where things fell apart.

Much like vampires in Stoker's novel could walk in daylight, we soon had specifics that served to either "balance" the situation (e.g., why haven't they taken over already) or to create tension in the audience (e.g., the head is the key, even though the brain should be dead). In a short while, zombies weren't just after flesh - they wanted human brains. Zombies could be killed, but only by disrupting the brain/spine area. And they were always at least mostly mindless...