The Resident Bitch's Movie Log

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Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
had forgotten to rep past reviews and I haven't heard of this Cusack film and I'd be curious to see a non-likable Cusack which would be unique. Even when he plays @ssholes I STILL like his characters so this one has my attention.
AND a subdued Cage?!?! Wow.



"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."



I found The Frozen Ground pretty average, although it's still one of Nicolas Cage's better films in recent years. The lead performances made it worthwhile, but the movie itself hasn't stuck with me whatsoever.

I was happy to see that you nominated Black Snake Moan for the recent HOF. It's a shame that it didn't perform better, but I knew its raciness would turn off some members, even though the film has a ton of heart beneath its sleazy veneer. I'd never heard of Contratiempo and am pretty surprised it won the HOF. Guess I have to watch it now, although I'm in no rush to do so.

Glad to see you enjoyed ParaNorman more the second time around. I don't remember exactly where I placed it on my ballot for your Animated Films Countdown (maybe in the teens somewhere?), but it's definitely one of my favorite animated flicks. I know you're not a big horror fan, and ParaNorman features a lot of references and jokes about past horror flicks, so maybe that's part of the reason why the humor works better for me than you. How do you feel about the other films from Studio Laika?
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Sorry for the delayed response. I didn't see this until just now for some reason.

I found The Frozen Ground pretty average, although it's still one of Nicolas Cage's better films in recent years. The lead performances made it worthwhile, but the movie itself hasn't stuck with me whatsoever.
I agree that the film itself was quite average, but I do think Cusack's performance will stick with me. Only time will tell, however.

I was happy to see that you nominated Black Snake Moan for the recent HOF. It's a shame that it didn't perform better, but I knew its raciness would turn off some members, even though the film has a ton of heart beneath its sleazy veneer.
Knowing certain frequent HOF participants, I figured it would perform poorly but decided to nominate it anyway. I guess when it comes to films like that all I can do is try to get people to look past the sex. Oh well. It'll be interesting to see how the film I have in mind for the next general HOF performs.

Glad to read that it's a film you enjoy. I think it's really under appreciated in general.


I'd never heard of Contratiempo and am pretty surprised it won the HOF. Guess I have to watch it now, although I'm in no rush to do so.
I'd never heard of it either. I do think it was above average for the type of film that it is and I did enjoy it more than the other nominated films, but it didn't strike me as anything special.

Glad to see you enjoyed ParaNorman more the second time around. I don't remember exactly where I placed it on my ballot for your Animated Films Countdown (maybe in the teens somewhere?), but it's definitely one of my favorite animated flicks.
You had it at 13.

I know you're not a big horror fan, and ParaNorman features a lot of references and jokes about past horror flicks, so maybe that's part of the reason why the humor works better for me than you. How do you feel about the other films from Studio Laika?
"Not a big horror fan" is a little bit of an understatement. With few exceptions if it's not a horror comedy starring Bruce Campbell I don't want to see it. But yeah my lack of interest and knowledge of the genre probably doesn't help my appreciation of the film. I doubt it'll ever be a favorite but it was fun.

I think the only other Laika film I've seen is Kubo and the Two Strings. I thought it was very visually striking, but I didn't care for the story, the characters, and especially the casting choices. It was also a little too heavy on the fantasy elements for my taste. I watched it as a blind buy about a year ago and I hoard movies and still have it so I'll probably give it another shot at some point. Maybe I'll like it the second time around, too.





Olaf's Frozen Adventure (Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers, 2017)
Imdb

Date Watched: 11/26/17
Cinema or Home: Cinema
Reason For Watching: It played before Coco
Rewatch: No


One of the things that I love about watching Pixar movies is that I also get treated to some amazing short films. I look forward to Pixar's animated shorts just as much as I do their features. But not this time. No. Because there was no Pixar short to be had. Instead we are subjected to this overly long, irritatingly unfunny, uninspired tripe.

F*** you, Disney.

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Coco (Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina, 2017)
Imdb

Date Watched: 11/26/17
Cinema or Home: Cinema
Reason For Watching: It’s Pixar
Rewatch: No



After suffering through over twenty excruciating minutes of Frozen bullsh!t, I was in a bit of a sour mood and it took me a little while to settle in and be able to appreciate what Coco had to offer.

It's a bit different than what I've come to expect from the studio. Which is to say that I expect to see films that view the world from an American perspective and feature primarily white characters. Here instead we get a glimpse into a culture about which I am woefully ignorant - despite living in California and having worked for a Mexican for over twelve years. But in many ways it's typical of Pixar - vibrant colors, breathtaking textures, humor, and heart.

Still, the film didn't quite capture the magic of the studio's greatest offerings but it is more than worthwhile. I just recommend showing up about 25 minutes late to the theater so you don't have to suffer through Olaf's Frozen Sh*t.

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I rewatched Moana yesterday. Not going to bother writing it up though. I still like it, but I think I like it a little less with each viewing. Too damn many songs.



I rewatched Moana yesterday. Not going to bother writing it up though. I still like it, but I think I like it a little less with each viewing. Too damn many songs.
You hear they pulled the Frozen short from theaters. Thought of you when I read that yesterday. It was sooooo bad.
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Letterboxd



You hear they pulled the Frozen short from theaters. Thought of you when I read that yesterday. It was sooooo bad.
I hadn't heard that, but I'm glad to know that happened. I did overhear a TV commercial advertising a TV broadcast of Frozen that was also going to include the stupid short.

Hopefully Disney won't attach cash-in crap like that to future Pixar films.

Anyway, I actually watched two movies today. Will try to get thoughts posted tonight.





The Boss Baby (Tom McGrath, 2017)
Imdb

Date Watched: 12/9/17
Cinema or Home: Work
Reason For Watching: Had time to kill and my coworker brought it up on her phone
Rewatch: No


My boss was out of town today so we weren't able to see any patients, but we were still open for a few hours. My plan was to rewatch Zootopia on my portable DVD player, just like I had done with Moana yesterday. However, I had mistakenly put the Zootopia bluray into the player instead of the DVD. Crap.

My coworker brought up Netflix on her phone and selected Boss Baby. Neither of us had seen it and we were both expecting it to be garbage, but figured it would still help pass the time. We were both pleasantly surprised.

That's not to say that it was actually good, though. The animation was well done and I did get a few chuckles out of it but the story was ridiculous and, though it tried, it failed to strike an emotional chord with me. Still it served its purpose and kept me mildly amused for a little while at work.

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh, 2017)
Imdb

Date Watched: 12/9/17
Cinema or Home: Cinema
Reason For Watching: It looked good
Rewatch: No


While I wouldn't go as far as to say that I truly loved Three Billboards, I have very few complaints about it. The performances - particularly by Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, and Sam Rockwell - were all very strong. I thought the writing was excellent as well and I really appreciated how each of the characters was portrayed as a three dimensional person.

However, I was a bit bothered by the lack of consequences for certain actions in the film - in particular with what happened to Red, especially considering the number of witnesses and the identity of one particular bystander. But this was a fairly minor issue for me and didn't detract much from my overall enjoyment of the film.

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Army of Darkness (Sam Raimi, 1992)
Imdb

Date Watched: 12/20/17
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: I felt like it.
Rewatch: Yes, many times over


I’ve never been a fan of horror movies and I’m not typically fond of live-action comedies, but there’s something about horror comedies – particularly those starring Bruce Campbell – that I love. And Army of Darkness was my introduction to the prominent-chinned king of B horror.

This is the third film in Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead series, but whereas the original Evil Dead focused on horror elements and Evil Dead II struck a balance between horror and comedy, Army of Darkness is more comedy than anything else and the horror elements it does contain only serve to bring more laughs. The acting is hammy and over the top, the special effects are terrible, and the story is absolutely ridiculous. But all of these things combine to make for a really fun bit of entertainment that has ranked among my favorite films for many years.




I'm leaving for Washington tomorrow and won't be back until the 28th. My parents gave me my gifts early and they included Your Name, In This Corner of the World, and Despicable Me 3. I'm bringing my portable DVD player so I'll probably watch all of them - and possibly some other movies - during the trip. Will post write-ups when I get back.



So I watched a bunch of movies while I was on vacation over Christmas. I had intended to do full write-ups on most of them, but at this point it's not going to happen and, with the Best Picture HOF starting, I want to get this out of the way. So I'm just going to write a few brief thoughts on each.

Your Name (Kimi no na wa) (Makoto Shinkai, 2016) First Watch
Imdb

As I expected this was a gorgeously animated film. An absolute visual treat. The body-swapping/time-changing premise did test my ability to suspend disbelief, but overall I found it much more engrossing than Shinkai's other films I've seen (Garden of Words, 5 cm Per Second).

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National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (Jeremiah Chechik, 1989) Rewatch
Imdb

A Christmas classic and absolute requisite December viewing. Also an all time favorite comedy and my favorite Lampoon's film.

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Despicable Me 3 (Kyle Bada, Pierre Coffin, Eric Guillon, 2017) First Watch
Imdb

Mediocre, but not terrible. I loved the first Despicable Me, but Illumination should probably end the franchise. I know they won't, but I can hope.



Tokyo Godfathers (Satoshi Kon and Shôgo Furuya, 2003) Rewatch
Imdb

I think I love this movie a little more each time I see it. Easily my favorite Satoshi Kon and a fixture for holiday viewing. A lot of fun, a lot heart.



Die Hard (John McTiernan, 1988) Rewatch
Imdb

It used to be a family tradition to watch this each Christmas. I spent the holiday at my brother's house and he decided to revive that tradition. I think I still like Die Hard 2 a little more, but this was fun. The glass in the feet scenes still make me cringe hard though. Ouch.

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Love Actually (Richard Curtis, 2003) Rewatch
Imdb

I used to be a big sucker for Rom Coms, but not so much anymore. Nevertheless I still love this one and it's interweaving of different stories suits my short attention span. Billy Nighy is hilarious. Also this is probably the only Hugh Grant performance I enjoy.



The Help (Tate Taylor, 2011) Rewatch
Imdb

My thoughts are pretty much identical to the last time I saw this. Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain are hilarious.

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School of Rock (Richard Linklater, 2003) Rewatch
Imdb

I hate Jack Black, but my sister in law wanted to watch this and I didn't (outwardly) object. Slightly better than I remember, on account of the music and Joan Cusack, but still obnoxious.



In This Corner of the World (Kono sekai no katasumi ni) (Sunao Katabuchi, 2016) First Watch
Imdb

I probably shouldn't rate this and it most definitely deserves a rewatch, but it is what it is. I thought the film was well made and beautifully animated, but I struggled to get through this. I had a hard time connecting with any of the characters and often found my attention wavering. I don't know how much of that is the fault of the movie though as I watched it on the portable in the car towards the end of a (very) long drive home. I'll have to give this another chance at some point.




You hear they pulled the Frozen short from theaters. Thought of you when I read that yesterday. It was sooooo bad.
When I saw Coco they didn't play the short before it.





12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)
Imdb

Date Watched: 1/7/2018
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: Best Picture Hall of Fame
Rewatch: Yes


I'll preface this with the same thing that I say about most films based on actual events or actual people: I don't know how accurate 12 Years a Slave is to what really happened and I don't care.

While there have been many films made on the subject of black slavery, none that I've seen have been able to tackle that subject without sliding into exploitation, over-sentimentality and preachiness, or a two-dimensional view of both victim and perpetrator. Although McQueen makes an admirable attempt to present a more rounded and human film, he doesn't quite get it right. He comes pretty close though with the immense help of a solid cast. The performances in the film are mostly excellent - or at least passable - with one glaring exception: Paul Dano as Tibeats. Tibeats comes off as poorly done caricature and, except for his menacing singing at his introduction, he takes me out of the film with every frame he is in. Admittedly, with the exception of Love & Mercy, I dislike Dano as an actor in general and I don't know how much of this is the fault of the screenwriter but this strikes me as a particularly poor performance.

And Dano is not my only complaint about the film. I also had an issue with one particularly brutal scene near the end of Northup's time on Master Ford's plantation. It's not the scene itself though that I object to. It's the scene's score. Throughout most of the film, the only music we hear comes from Northup's fiddle or from the voices of the enslaved people. But in this scene the score is intrusive and overpowering and rather than enhancing the emotion of the scene, it prevents me from feeling much. I also don't think the filmmakers did very well to show the passage of time in the film. From Solomon's abduction to his rescue does not feel like 12 years to me as a viewer, though I'm not sure what could have been done to fix that.

That being said, the film is solid overall and, aside from a few hiccups, I found myself engaged with the film and moved by Northup's journey and that has been true each time I've watched this. It's a very good movie, but I don't think it deserved the win as Best Picture. Having seen all of its competitors in that category, I'd rank it perhaps fourth out of nine - behind Her, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Dallas Buyers Club. I'm glad it beat Gravity and American Hustle though.






Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016)
Imdb

Date Watched: 1/8/2018
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: Best Picture Hall of Fame
Rewatch: No.


*Possible Spoilers*

To be completely honest, I generally avoid films about life on the streets. Images of drug dealing, of prostitution, and of men posturing with their gold teeth and gold chains are pretty far outside my whitewashed little comfort zone. So this was not a film I likely would have watched on my own and I had some reservations going into it. I was a little afraid that the vast difference between the environment that I inhabit and the one inhabited by the film's characters would present a bit of a roadblock to my ability to connect with those characters.

Thankfully, that fear was unfounded. Although Chiron's world is quite foreign to me, his struggles to find his own identity and to cope with the injustices in his life resonated quite well and I could understand and forgive the choices he made and the facade he put up as he reached adulthood.

I also really liked the way that film the handled stereotypes and preconceptions and how it painted its characters in shades of gray. The drug dealer on the street actually becomes a very positive influence on Chiron, even if ultimately the boy follows in his father figure's steps. The crack addicted, neglectful and emotionally abusive mother - in a way a victim of that same father figure - displays genuine remorse and care for her son later in life. The pot smoking, p**** chasing friend finds meaning and fulfillment in being a father.

It's obvious to me that this is a film that is a very personal project for its creators. It feels real and there's no doubt in my mind that it is real in many ways. While what I experienced tonight was not instant love, like what I experienced when I first watched my own nomination, but it was instant respect and I definitely think this is a contender for a high position on my ballot.

As to whether or not this film deserved the win for Best Picture, I can't say. Of its competitors I've only seen Manchester by the Sea and since I've absolutely no intention of ever subjecting myself to La La Land, it's a question I'll likely never be able to answer.

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Mutiny On the Bounty (Frank Lloyd, 1935)
Imdb

Date Watched: 1/9/2018
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: Best Picture Hall of Fame
Rewatch: No


I did not like this movie.

My previous experiences in watching very old movies have been... mostly not good (with a few exceptions). Much of this has to do with the writing and the style of acting that was common in "classics" such as this and that is exactly the issue I had with Mutiny on the Bounty. The performances are very wooden, very stiff. Mannerisms, voice inflection, and body language are often either over exaggerated or nearly absent. Characters are underdeveloped and very 2 dimensional. At no point in the film did I ever forget that I was watching characters and believe that I was watching people. And in the case of Laughton's villainous Captain Bligh, it felt more like I was watching a cartoon character than an actual person. His tyranny was simply too severe to be believed. I actually laughed a little at his ridiculousness (though I certainly never laughed at anything that was meant to be funny). I will admit though to feeling a tiny sensation of sympathy for the crew when the actual mutiny took place - they were fighting to free themselves from an existence that was tantamount to slavery after all - but mostly I found myself sighing and checking the time. They just couldn't make me care that much.

However, I have managed to overcome this disconnect in a few other very old films in cases where there is something else that is exceptional - particularly in the more technical aspects of the film such as impressive stunts and effects or a unique set design. While I have no complaints about what this film presents in that regard, I also can find nothing that stands out as worthy of praise. (I've also managed to overcome it if the acting is so ridiculous as to render the film unintentionally funny, but aside from a scene or two, this movie didn't even offer that.)

I didn't hate this movie though. Not quite. I don't have a particularly strong opinion of it. I was simply very thoroughly unimpressed by it.






Argo (Ben Affleck, 2012)
Imdb

Date Watched: 1/10/2018
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: Best Picture Hall of Fame
Rewatch: Yes


As usual with this sort of film, I'm going to preface my write-up by saying that I don't know or care how accurate this film is to real events. I don't watch movies - least of all Hollywood movies - to get lessons in history. I watch them to be entertained.

And Argo is a very entertaining movie. I think it does a very admirable job of telling its story and immersing its audience in the time and places it represents. Affleck and company do well to present their characters as real people and to give the viewers someone to really root for. As fictionalized as it may be - again I don't know or care to what degree that is - I believe in Mendez's motivations and admire the risks it took to get the job done. I also really appreciated the film's comic relief in the form of Alan Arkin's and John Goodman's respective performances. Both men play off each other quite well and make the most of their limited screen time. Bryan Cranston was also solid in his performance.

Overall, it's an enjoyable watch and a solid film, but there's nothing that stands out to me as exceptional about it. As to whether or not it deserved its win, I can't say for sure. I much prefer Django Unchained, but that film simply suits my tastes much more than Argo does and my preference there really isn't a measure of quality. Of the remaining nominess from that year that I've seen, I do prefer it to both Silver Linings Playbook, which I disliked, and Les Miserables which I actually don't mind.

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Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 1994)
Imdb

Date Watched: 1/11/2018
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: Best Picture Hall of Fame
Rewatch: Yes


I remember when Forrest Gump was new and people were talking about it constantly. Even before I saw the movie I knew that life is like a box of chocolates, stupid is as stupid does, and Jenny was my girl. And when I saw the film, I found myself drawn in. Over the years, I rewatched it numerous times and found myself a little less enamored of it with each viewing until the very last time I saw it, when I was left with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. So when it was announced that Gump was among the nominees in this Hall of Fame, I was less than enthused at the prospect of watching it again.

Fortunately, my rewatching experience tonight was not at all a bad one. There is little that is believable about the character of Forrest Gump or the absurd situations he bumbles into. Yet somehow his idiocy lends him an innocence that makes him endearing (if still a little annoying at times) and Tom Hanks did an excellent job with the role. Stronger still is the performance of Gary Sinise as Lieutenant Dan, who received a Best Supporting Actor nomination, but did not take home the win. What surprised me though about this viewing was my opinion of Jenny. I've never particularly cared for her character but this time around I feel like I sympathized with her a little more.

Another of the film's biggest strengths is its soundtrack. Full of some of classic rock and folk's best offerings, including some of my favorite artists like Fleetwood Mac and Bob Seger, it definitely deserves some credit for the smile I had on my face tonight.

As enjoyable as it is to watch, however, Forrest Gump ultimately amounts to little more than feel-good fluff, albeit skillfully made feel-good fluff. It's a fine movie, but it fails to stand out amongst its competition as being anything of true substance. Had it been released in another year, I might not object to its win for Best Picture, but against such films as Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption it never should've taken home the prize.

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