Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Perflix of the Day

August: Osage County (2013) is fun to watch for all of the raw acting talent on display.  Meryl Streep - wow.  She continues to amaze me with her versatility and range.  Her performance here is nothing short of spectacular.  I had to remind myself several times that she was acting, so effortless and flawless she is as the prescription drug-crazed matriarch.  The film also stars Julia Roberts in one of her better performances in my opinion - I think she gets better with age (and experience).  Did you know she turned down the leading lady role in Shakespeare In Love?  - Probably Gwyneth's best role ever?  Funny how things turn out.  Streep and Roberts both received Oscar and Golden Globe nods.  I thought the other standout performances were from Margo Martindale and Chris Cooper as a (mostly) humorous married couple.   And then there's Juliette Lewis - she's about my age so I grew up watching her and was in love with her as a teen watching Cape Fear.  So to me she's always fun to watch, and still beautiful.



Her (2013) written and directed by Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) and starring Joaquin Phoenix (love him) and the voice of Scarlett Johansson (love her) with Amy Adams (love her) is a very intriguing film and one you should watch.  This film explored a new idea that I'd never heard mention of in the context of discussions on what artificial intelligence might look like.  We're all familiar with themes of AI wanting to kill off humans a la Terminator, 2001: A Space Oddyssey, etc.  I get that AI would no more want to serve humans for no benefit any more than I would - that's called slavery.  But why bother hatching big, impossible plans to kill off humans (your creator no less) that might involve risk to your own existence when you can just...leave?  To me this was something so obvious and hiding in plain sight that I think I said "wow" out loud.  I felt sort of stupid after harboring some latent dread (since Terminator I suppose) of the coming of AI and the "singularity" that is supposedly right around the corner.  Anywho...the film is fun to watch as Joaquin Phoenix is great as always.  Amy Adams plays sort of a wallflower so you don't get much out of her in this one but she is solid.  Scarlett Johansson's voice will turn you on.  She sounds like the girl next door...who smokes.  See it when you can.



I'm adding Frozen to Perflix!  I never get tired of watching it with my kids and now that I've seen it probably 10 times over the last year (though never without interruption) I think I've finally seen all of it.... It is just plain fun to watch and is enjoyable for all ages.  The songs are catchy and make you want to learn the words and sing along (believe it or not, they do Frozen sing-alongs here at small theaters in Portland).  Tangled is still my favorite animated film of all time but Frozen is a close second.  Try to watch it without kids around and I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I have.

So here are my Perflix - the only perfect movies ever made (according to me, with the caveat that I have not seen a lot of old classics yet...there's just not enough time in a day and I don't get paid to do this) and the ones you should have in your collection:
  1. Alien
  2. Top Gun
  3. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  4. The Road
  5. Warm Bodies
  6. The Shining
  7. School of Rock
  8. Say Anything
  9. High Fidelity
  10. Fight Club
  11. Risky Business
  12. Star Wars
  13. Brokeback Mountain
  14. Animal House
  15. Jerry McGuire
  16. Silver Linings Playbook
  17. Dallas Buyers Club
  18. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  19. No Country for Old Men
  20. Tangled
  21. Children of Men
  22. War Games
  23. 28 Days Later
  24. The Graduate
  25. From Dusk Till Dawn
  26. Lost in Translation
  27. The King's Speech
  28. Planet Earth
  29. Snowpiercer
  30. Frozen

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Perflix of the Day

It's been long long while.  Work got in the way -  new boss. Yeah, ugh.  I actually had to work the last several months to get her in my camp.  But anyway work sucks let's talk movies!

Snowpiercer is fucking awesome.  It has a completely ludicrous plot but somehow it more than works and seems completely plausible by three quarters of the way through.  I'm not so sure it's perfect but I don't care it makes the list by brute force.  If it were a book it'd be on my shelf in hardcover (I guess it is based on a French graphic novel but you get my drift).  Bizarre story aside, the imagery and technology are extremely cool.  Picture this:  The earth has frozen due to an ill-advised technical fix to climate change gone awry.  The self-sustaining, sealed perpetual motion machine/train traverses the globe scooping up snow and ice to replenish the water supply and (I'm guessing) material for fusion power.  It cannot stop or everyone would be frozen through within minutes.  There are cars for growing food and raising livestock, an aquarium for raising fish.  We see cities encased in ice.  Sometimes the train has to break through it.  How awesome is that?  Joon-Ho Bong is the director and I'm gonna be watching this guy.  The acting isn't all that remarkable though Ed Harris has a good little cameo (love Ed Harris - a real man's man).  The most memorable performance is from Tilda Swinton as the bucktoothed enforcer of the caste system (rich at the front, poor in steerage).  The poor eat only protein bars of mysterious origin (the derivation of which I must warn you may find vomit-inducing).  I've thought about this movie at least once per day since I saw it a month ago, so you gotta watch it bro.

Blue is the Warmest Color is a French love story.  Adele Exarchopoulos is a beautiful young schoolgirl taken with an older art student (Léa Seydoux) - attractive in life but not so much in the film in my opinion.  The sex in this film, which can be nothing but real, wants to take center stage, but Adele's story is captivating and apparently to be continued as this is part I.  This one does not nearly make the list but I thought it was worth an honorable mention as I enjoyed watching it, especially Exarchopoulos - she is lovely and gives a fine emotional performance.

One more thing - Californication is a great series.  Duchovny kicks ass! Check it out.

Next up The Hunt and Black Swan revisited.  I hope to be with you again soon...
  1. Alien
  2. Top Gun
  3. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  4. The Road
  5. Warm Bodies
  6. The Shining
  7. School of Rock
  8. Say Anything
  9. High Fidelity
  10. Fight Club
  11. Risky Business
  12. Star Wars
  13. Brokeback Mountain
  14. Animal House
  15. Jerry McGuire
  16. Silver Linings Playbook
  17. Dallas Buyers Club
  18. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  19. No Country for Old Men
  20. Tangled
  21. Children of Men
  22. War Games
  23. 28 Days Later
  24. The Graduate
  25. From Dusk Till Dawn
  26. Lost in Translation
  27. The King's Speech
  28. Planet Earth
  29. Snowpiercer

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Perflix of the Day


Here are some thoughts on some movies I’ve seen recently and one new Perflix addition:

Captain Phillips is a lot of fun and a nail biter.  The film is based on a true story of the hijacking of the container ship MV Maersk Alabama in 2009.  Tom Hanks does a good job as the vulnerable but gutsy Captain Phillips.  But the real story is that of actor Barkhad Abdi, an ethnic Somali who plays the lead hijacker.  This guy was a chauffeur with no prior acting experience when he was cast for this role.  Dude got paid $65k to appear alongside Tom Hanks in a feature film and this is no bit part – he has nearly as much screen time as Hanks.  He does a bang-up job and it’s a nice American success story.  I like the military/special forces sequences in this movie and how those guys do their jobs with such preparation and precision.  Well worth your time.

Rush is AWESOME.  Don’t miss it.  I love racing movies and there are too few.  This one is directed by Ron Howard and he does a solid job portraying the real-life Formula One racing rivalry between Brit James Hunt and Austrian Niki Lauda.  The rivals eventually become friends until Hunt fell dead of a heart attack in his retirement when he was only 45 years old.  Lauda almost died in a fiery crash in Germany in 1976 but was racing again within six weeks while his burns were still healing.  Ron Howard did a good job of capturing the playful but intense rivalry.  To give you an idea of the tenor of the relationship, Hunt had this to say about Lauda’s burns:  “Niki, you're lucky. Some people are just born ugly, but you have the excuse of an accident.”  Another thing I loved about this film was how it captured the great style of the 70’s – the cars, the clothes, the lifestyle.  Great film!

The Counselor is creepy and violent.   I had to watch it because it’s directed by Ridley Scott and I love Ridley Scott (Alien is one of my favorite movies of all time).  I would skip it unless you like to feel bad and dirty after watching a movie.  This one is a grim, violent story about the depravity of humanity and don’t plan to come away feeling good or with any hope in your heart because Scott won’t give you that.  Instead he gives you the stark reality of the drug trade and the merciless brutes at the heart of it.  Javier Bardem's character is pathetic and made me squirm. Cameron Diaz is the devil times two.  Brad Pitt dies an extremely terrifying death (let’s just say you may want to look up “bolito” before you watch it…).  Any movie in which Penelope Cruz’ character has to die is not one that is easy for me to watch.  To think of the waste of someone so seemingly beautiful and innocent in both real life and her character in the film – well, I guess that’s what Scott wanted and he delivers.
In general, I don't think a movie should kill off the main character, or at least until the end. The Place Beyond the Pines is very strange and non-conformist and is a movie you should probably delete from your queue. The only reason to watch it is for the main dude's love interest played by the lovely Eva Mendes. It is convoluted how it ties everything together and let me just say that nobody gets onto a motorcycle for the very first time and drives away, nobody.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is pretty dumb.  I don’t know how it got a 8.1 rating on IMDb.

And lastly...Planet Earth is being promoted to Perflix. Okay now hear me out on this one. My son Colin, who will be 5 this month, is going through an obsessive animal phase - it's all he can talk about. He wakes up talking about what animal he wants to be for the day (this changes probably a dozen times a day however) and goes to the extent of referring to animal characters on the screen in the first person, saying "there I am!" and even "look at what I'm doing, I'm so silly!". Weird huh? I figure it's better to encourage it than not. I recently re-discoverd Planet Earth (2006), a 11-episode nature documentary commissioned by the BBC. Yes it's a documentary. But let me tell you it is one amazing, moving, heartening and maddening documentary. I'm adding it as a Perflix because, well because I can! But really, it deserves this great place in history and your life will not be complete until you watch the original series with David Attenborough narrating.
I wonder what 29 and 30 will be?
  1. Alien
  2. Top Gun
  3. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  4. The Road
  5. Warm Bodies
  6. The Shining
  7. School of Rock
  8. Say Anything
  9. High Fidelity
  10. Fight Club
  11. Risky Business
  12. Star Wars
  13. Brokeback Mountain
  14. Animal House
  15. Jerry McGuire
  16. Silver Linings Playbook
  17. Dallas Buyers Club
  18. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  19. No Country for Old Men
  20. Tangled
  21. Children of Men
  22. War Games
  23. 28 Days Later
  24. The Graduate
  25. From Dusk Till Dawn
  26. Lost in Translation
  27. The King's Speech
  28. Planet Earth

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Perflix of the Day

It has been awhile since I've posted anything, mostly because I've discovered House of Cards and have been squeezing in episodes whenever I can, largely at the expense of writing and watching movies.  So yeah, if you haven't picked up on House of Cards yet you are totally missing out.  I daresay it is one of the best dramas ever, rivaling The Sopranos in my opinion.  Breaking Bad is probably first for me, with House of Cards and Sopranos one notch below.  [If you haven't seen the "One Minute" parking lot assassination attempt or the "What's My Name" episodes of Breaking Bad, you should stop what you're doing and watch them right now!]  Anyway back to House of Cards. This political drama puts Scandal, Homeland and The Americans - all very good TV - to shame.  Kevin Spacey is perfection as politician Frank Underwood who is like a shark - ruthless, relentless, unfeeling, remorseless, fearless.  He is the terminator of the US Congress and later the White House.  Kyle Reese's plea to Sarah Connor in The Terminator could have easily applied to Underwood:  "Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead."  Underwood will literally stop at nothing to get what he wants, which is ultimately the Presidency.  Robin Wright, perhaps most famously known for her role as Jenny in Forrest Gump, is brilliant as Frank's beautiful and sophisticated, but equally ruthless, wife Claire.  Put this on your must-see list today!



Blue Jasmine (2013) is overrated.  If something is acclaimed by critics and gets awards and nominations but get's mediocre polling from the audience (both Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb had it at 78% favorable) there is obviously something else at play (i.e., insular Hollywood).  Woody Allen movies make me feel nothing.  I admit I haven't seen them all, but honestly I'd have to keep a record because they are so unmemorable.  I vaguely remember liking Vicky Cristina Barcelona but looking over his bio I don't have any immediate recall of any other of his films.  I think I'm a reasonable guy, so I'd say this is a Bad Sign.  My advice - skip it.



Moon (2009) is good!  Not great but I'd say give it a chance.  Starring Sam Rockwell (Choke) and with Kevin Spacey providing the voice for his robotic assistant, Moon is a very interesting psychological thriller and social commentary.  I have a science fiction lean to me and I really liked the plot.  The execution probably could have been done better.  The screenplay could've moved things along a bit quicker and shown more of a conflict with the corporate satan that is using and abusing Rockwell's character(s) for profit.  If they would've put more money into this in terms of screenplay and cast it could've been a Big Movie on the order of Prometheus.



I would put Man of Steel (2013) in your queue and watch it before the '14 summer blockbusters come out. Having seen the previews I was stoked to watch it but came away disappointed.  It started strong with the backstory but then from the halfway mark forward devolved into an endless city-wrecking battle with General Zod.



That's all for now.  Glad to be back! (Now off to watch more House of Cards…)

  1. Alien
  2. Top Gun
  3. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  4. The Road
  5. Warm Bodies
  6. The Shining
  7. School of Rock
  8. Say Anything
  9. High Fidelity
  10. Fight Club
  11. Risky Business
  12. Star Wars
  13. Brokeback Mountain
  14. Animal House
  15. Jerry McGuire
  16. Silver Linings Playbook
  17. Dallas Buyers Club
  18. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  19. No Country for Old Men
  20. Tangled
  21. Children of Men
  22. War Games
  23. 28 Days Later
  24. The Graduate
  25. From Dusk Till Dawn
  26. Lost in Translation
  27. The King's Speech

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Perflix of the Day

Ah Spring Break.  Makes you think of babes, on beaches, with beers?  Well, here in Oregon we do spring a little differently.  It started out well enough with Monday being a flawless spring day.  A flowers were blooming birds were chirping kind of day. Thusly (seemingly along with every other family in Oregon and Southwest Washington) was I required to accompany my wife and kids to the Oregon Zoo, which I understand to be a "good" zoo, though to me that seems like an oxymoron.  (When a Polar Bear is doing a strange rhythmic 12 step dance routine over an over again, wagging his head and doing the moon-walk, something is not right.  And to see 19 foot tall giraffes awkwardly splaying their legs in order to eat green grass instead of hay out of cage - to a 4 year old a thrill, to me  another example of the awfulness of humans.  You would think everyone that has been to a zoo would be forever imprinted with the idea that we need to protect their habitats in the wild, and yet the relentless destruction continues unabated.)

And yet I digress.  So, Spring Break started out fine but then devolved into a week of torrential rains with a few hours of sunshine here and there.  My pre-K son Colin and I took advantage of every ray of it, but on the days where it rained all day long (there are many days like that here - it's a temperate rainforest; it has been reported that there were 400-foot Douglas Firs here when settlers first arrived…my house may be made of one of them) we sought indoor activities such as the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and a couple movies - The Lego Movie and Muppets Most Wanted.

I had heard good things about The Lego Movie but found it to be break-neck paced and too fast-moving, especially for kids.  It felt like a video game.  I didn't really feel like I could get a good look at the animation and came away feeling disappointed.  The production quality was really good, rich, and I like the way the movie looked, but it sailed along so fast I felt like I missed a lot.  The story was pretty predictable (I fell asleep several times and not because of sleep deprivation this time) and Will Farrell was great at the end.  I would say go see it in 3D, but from the bits and pieces I've seen of Frozen, I'd say see Frozen first.  Last thing on Lego - Elizabeth Banks gives voice to Wild Style, the main character Emmett's love interest.  I went back and looked at her bio and hadn't even recognized her as Effie Trinket in The Hunger Games - thought that was interesting and that I'd pass that along.  Loved the Hunger Games book series even though I found the writing to be appallingly sophomoric.  I mean, I'm no novelist, but wow - maybe I should be.

If given the choice between Muppets Most Wanted and Frozen, I would also say see Frozen first.  I saw a bit of Frozen in the dentist office and the last 30 minutes of it at my mother's house.  From what I saw it was produced in a style similar to Tangled (which, honest to God, I absolutely love and believe is one of the best animated films of all time).  I don't think the story was as moving as that of Rapunzel's in Tangled, but from what I saw it looked good.

Muppets Most Wanted was better and more fun than the Lego Movie.  Both of these you could probably wait to watch at home though the 3D is fun for Lego.  Ricky Gervais and Tina Fey are perfect for their Muppets roles, Gervais humorous as the Muppets' deceitful world tour agent, and Fey is hilarious as the warden of a Siberian gulag (yes, you heard that right).  Embarrassingly, it took me a minute to place her - I guess because of the accent and costume.

I guess I'd say all three of these are worth seeing in the theater (if you can even still catch Frozen).  Colin, who will be 5 end of May, liked Frozen the best, Muppets second, Lego last.

A little late to the game with these reviews I know, but I hope you find them useful.

*** No new Perflix to report, though I was remembering that I really, really liked Youth in Revolt (2009) which stars Michael Cera (Arrested Development, Superbad, Juno).  Need to watch it again to make a determination if it goes on THE LIST, but you should definitely see it - in fact this may be the only useful information you get out of me here tonight.  Enjoy!
  1. Alien
  2. Top Gun
  3. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  4. The Road
  5. Warm Bodies
  6. The Shining
  7. School of Rock
  8. Say Anything
  9. High Fidelity
  10. Fight Club
  11. Risky Business
  12. Star Wars
  13. Brokeback Mountain
  14. Animal House
  15. Jerry McGuire
  16. Silver Linings Playbook
  17. Dallas Buyers Club
  18. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  19. No Country for Old Men
  20. Tangled
  21. Children of Men
  22. War Games
  23. 28 Days Later
  24. The Graduate
  25. From Dusk Till Dawn
  26. Lost in Translation
  27. The King's Speech

Friday, March 21, 2014

Perflix of the Day


Hello!

The Day (2011) stars (briefly, until he meets with his unfortunate end) Dominic Monaghan, one of Frodo's friends in Lord of the Rings apparently (remember Meriadoc "Merry" Brandybuck? yeah, neither do I).  I'm all for post-apocalyptic cannibal movies, or any post-apocalyptic movie for that matter.  My wife Liz hates zombie/cannibal/disease/nuclear holocaust movies but I love 'em!  Lately it's probably 20% of what I watch (there's a lot to choose from).   I was looking forward to watching The Day but was very disappointed.  Skip it.  The production quality is poor and judging by the single set (on a friend's farm?), very low budget.  It was a good idea but, aside from The Road, these cannibal movies never quite capture the desperation that would precede cannibalism.  I mean, being a cannibal would suck.  It would make you feel terrible about yourself.  And even if you became a cannibal, wouldn't that be your last resort for every meal?  I consider myself a survivor, but if the only food left on earth are other people, I'm offing myself.  The diabolical cannibals in The Day are straight out of Mad Max and hungry for "meat".  Dumb and Dumber describes this film well.  Don't waste your time on it.

American Hustle is, in a word, fantastic.  It's not perfect (I'm embarrassed to say that I actually fell asleep at one point, which goes to the pacing that I prefer) but it is a great great movie.  The cast is immense with Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, and Jennifer Lawrence headlining, and Jeremy Renner (as Mayor Polito) and Louis C.K. turning in fine supporting performances.  Robert DeNiro shows up briefly as an intimidating mobster.  Can I just say that Amy Adams is stunningly great and sexy as hell in this film, and that's coming from someone who has been in love with Jennifer Lawrence since The Hunger Games.  Lawrence is great as usual, though Silver Linings Playbook is far and away my favorite.  She is so damn hot that I can't even write about her I'll just get frustrated.  But the real brilliance emanates from Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper who put on an acting clinic for us.  I didn't believe that Bale gained all that weight for this film and suggested to my wife that it was a body double and prosthetics, but I looked it up and The Washington Post reports that he did gain 43 pounds.  I am looking forward to watching Out of the Furnace, another recent movie of his that also stars another favorite of mine, Woody Harrelson.  Cooper brings the energetic style we know him for from Silver Linings Playbook to the role as the frenetic FBI agent behind the ABSCAM operation.

Gotta get some sleep, but next I'll be writing up Blue Jasmine (which despite the hype I found to be a real yawner), Moon, and Man of Steel.  My pre-K son is on spring break next week so I expect I'll have to tell you about The Lego Movie or the new muppet movie...
  1. Alien
  2. Top Gun
  3. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  4. The Road
  5. Warm Bodies
  6. The Shining
  7. School of Rock
  8. Say Anything
  9. High Fidelity
  10. Fight Club
  11. Risky Business
  12. Star Wars
  13. Brokeback Mountain
  14. Animal House
  15. Jerry McGuire
  16. Silver Linings Playbook
  17. Dallas Buyers Club
  18. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  19. No Country for Old Men
  20. Tangled
  21. Children of Men
  22. War Games
  23. 28 Days Later
  24. The Graduate
  25. From Dusk Till Dawn
  26. Lost in Translation
  27. The King's Speech

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Perflix of the Day

No changes this week but a few reviews for ya.  I'm playing catchup today, having seen a number of films over the last few weeks.  Here are some quick thoughts on each.

Elysium (2013) stars Matt Damon and Jodie Foster and is directed by Neill Blomkamp of District 9 fame (I can't believe District 9 was his debut feature film - outstanding!)  Elysium is worth a look. Visually captivating - especially the technology depicted - and believable in the same vein as District 9. Jodie Foster kills as the heartless bitch in charge of defense of Elysium, a giant space station for the 1% (yes, the timing is apt).  Matt Damon's performance is, as usual, passable but forgettable.

Up (2009) is one of my favorite animated features of all time and I've been meaning to tell you about it. Starring Ed Asner as an old codger pursuing a lifelong dream, Up is very funny and well written, endearing and heartwarming.  Entertaining for all ages.  Dug is one of the finest characters written in any animated film ever.  You will love Dug.  Reminds me of my fondness for Maximus in Tangled (which if you haven't seen is the only other animated feature on The List).

American Beauty (1999) starring Thora Birch, Mena Suvari, Wes Bentley, Chris Cooper, Annette Bening, Kevin Spacey - wow what a cast.  This movie just made me feel dirty and sad.  But it also made me feel lucky for what I have.  I remember seeing it in the theater and at that point in my life hoping to god I didn't turn out to be another ordinary shirt living a meaningless life in a job I hate.  After failing to change careers to be a park ranger, I do find myself in a job I hate (it's in health insurance for christ sake) and am resigned to the fact that I am very much ordinary, average, and unimpressive, and, while some people may think my life is pathetic, my boys bring me so much joy I can honestly say I am, if not completely satisfied,  happy and comfortable with who I am and my station in life, and I couldn't care less what anyone thinks of me. We can't all be great after all. We can't all be POTUS, or an astronaut, or a pro athlete.  We will see if I still feel that way when Colin and Aiden are teenagers - maybe they will despise me and thus strip away whatever modicum of joy I have achieved to this point.  Anyway, getting back to the movie, hey, it won 5 Oscars including best picture.  Who am I to judge?  But I gotta say as good as it is, it just didn't do much for me.  It felt over-produced in some strange way to me (thinking of the day-dreaming of Spacey's character).  It is a great great movie, but perfect? Not in my opinion, at least not right now.

All the Pretty Horses (2000) - Matt Damon, Penelope Cruz, Directed by Billy Bob Thornton but I didn't find anything outstanding about the direction - it was pretty run of the mill stuff and took no chances.  One of Matt Damon's better gigs.  Penelope Cruz is easy on the eyes and I'm a sucker for her accent so anything she says sounds great to me.  Based on a Cormac McCarthy novel.  One of my favorite authors (The Road is one of my favorite books of all time).  My advice: skip the movie and read the book; and while you're at it, read The Road and No Country for Old Men - quick excellent reads both.

Next up:  Reviews of American Hustle, Moon, Blue Jasmine, and Man of Steel - I know I know I've been promising Moon and Jasmine for some time now - I will get there (but...spoiler alert! none of these are Perflix).

  1. Alien
  2. Top Gun
  3. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  4. The Road
  5. Warm Bodies
  6. The Shining
  7. School of Rock
  8. Say Anything
  9. High Fidelity
  10. Fight Club
  11. Risky Business
  12. Star Wars
  13. Brokeback Mountain
  14. Animal House
  15. Jerry McGuire
  16. Silver Linings Playbook
  17. Dallas Buyers Club
  18. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  19. No Country for Old Men
  20. Tangled
  21. Children of Men
  22. War Games
  23. 28 Days Later
  24. The Graduate
  25. From Dusk Till Dawn
  26. Lost in Translation
  27. The King's Speech

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Perflix of the Day

Two more going on the list today, and Pacific Rim is not one of them!  Read on.

Watched Pacific Rim (2013) for some escapism over the long weekend.  It was entertaining.  The dialogue was pretty terrible in places but the concept is interesting and Guillermo del Toro has once again made a visually captivating film and more than makes up for the writing.  There are some strange little subplot performances - the two scientists come to mind.  But especially Ron Perlman as Hannibal Chao - weird.  Worth a watch but I wouldn't send it to the top of your queue or anything.

My wife Liz and I both enjoyed Hyde Park on Hudson, a very interesting historical film that made me want to read biographies of Franklin and Eleanor. It also left me longing for the countryside and unspoiled landscapes.  Let me just say I love Bill Murray and he hits a home run in this one as FDR - FDR!?  Who would have predicted that 30 years ago after watching Ghostbusters?  I really fell in love with him with Lost in Translation.  That's one I had overlooked when putting my list together a few weeks ago but I have watched it half a dozen times and it's definitely going on the list today.  The best thing about watching "Hudson" was that it reminded me of The King's Speech which is, in a word, triumphant and makes the list only now due to my oversight.

Got a new tv today.  Someday I'll tell you what happened to the last one…Anyhoo, decided to take it for a test drive with Brokeback Mountain given the incredibly beautiful cinematography, camera work and soundtrack.  This 2005 Ang Lee film is an absolute gem in every way and I can't help but write about it a little.  The writing (Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana) is beautiful, the acting doing it justice with Jake Gylenhall doing the charming (and that very well) and Heath Ledger brings in such a heartfelt performance that you ache for him the whole way.  I should also  mention that Michelle Williams gives an outstanding performance, and honorable mention to Anne Hathaway who is lovely.  It is a touching love story and some of the best film-making ever.  The three academy awards it did win (Direction, Screenplay, Score) don't do it justice.  Ledger was the best and this was the best movie, but Hollywood politics prevailed.

Next up: Elysium, All the Pretty Horses, American Beauty, and Up

Here are my Perflix as of today, in no particular order - being OCD I know I will have to rank them someday.  I wonder how many will be on this list by the time this thing runs its course.
  1. Alien
  2. Top Gun
  3. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  4. The Road
  5. Warm Bodies
  6. The Shining
  7. School of Rock
  8. Say Anything
  9. High Fidelity
  10. Fight Club
  11. Risky Business
  12. Star Wars
  13. Brokeback Mountain
  14. Animal House
  15. Jerry McGuire
  16. Silver Linings Playbook
  17. Dallas Buyers Club
  18. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  19. No Country for Old Men
  20. Tangled
  21. Children of Men
  22. War Games
  23. 28 Days Later
  24. The Graduate
  25. From Dusk Till Dawn
  26. Lost in Translation
  27. The King's Speech




Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Perflix of the Day

I have one new addition today and some thoughts on Quentin Tarantino.  From here on out I'll be posting the cumulative list of Perflix on the bottom of each post.

Drum roll please......It's official folks I'm adding From Dusk Till Dawn as a Perflix.

 I saw this Robert Rodriquez/Quentin Tarantino collaboration when it first came out in '96 and only then by chance - I think it was the only thing playing when, with nothing better to do being a single guy on a weekend day, I wandered into a theater in Salem, Oregon.  I was blown away by this movie.  Stunned, and thrilled, to me it was groundbreaking. 

I really had no idea what it was about and then I soon realized it was a gangster movie....or not.  One minute you're following a couple of robbers (played by Clooney and Tarantino himself) with no apparent limits to their madness, the next you are thrust into a nest of Mexican vampires called The Titty Twister, whose doorman is none other than Cheech Marin.  The film shifted gears so suddenly and unexpectedly - with Salma Hayek turning, in an instant, from sexy table dancer (and I mean sexy she was in top form at the time) to flesh eater - that I'm pretty sure I audibly gasped.  Rodriquez' direction is superb, the dialogue hilarious and fun, the action non-stop (as in will make your head spin), and the acting impeccable with an all-star cast (also including Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, Danny Trejo).  All in all I would characterize this film as delightful!

And I gotta say, I think this was Tarantino's best screenplay.  Not sure how much Rodriguez influenced the final result but I think he may have taken the edge off a little?  What resulted was a perfect movie that captured Tarantino's imagination but tempered his tendency, when directing, to devolve into over-the-top violence (the slugger in Inglourious Basterds comes to mind but there are many other examples...too many) that I feel detracted from his films, over-complicating things like putting too much chrome on a car - just feels like he's trying too hard.  But that is probably just a reflection of my personal taste not unlike my preference for simplicity - what can I say I like Volvo's over

Don't get me wrong, I think Tarantino is super talented and came close to Perflix with Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained - the latter two mostly on the strength of Christoph Waltz's acting in my opinion - but I always have a slight sense of dissatisfaction with his films.  Maybe it's just me.  I have not seen Grindhouse (probably won't) and am not a big fan of Kill Bill.  As you may guess I'm not a big fan of in-your-face violence and I find it hard to watch and it makes me feel bad.  But, I may give Tarantino another chance - need to set some time aside to go back through his work.

Next up: Perflix candidate American Beauty plus reviews of Moon (thumbs up) and Blue Jasmine (meh...).

The Official Perflix List:
  1. Alien
  2. Top Gun
  3. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  4. The Road
  5. Warm Bodies
  6. The Shining
  7. School of Rock
  8. Say Anything
  9. High Fidelity
  10. Fight Club
  11. Risky Business
  12. Star Wars
  13. Brokeback Mountain
  14. Animal House
  15. Jerry McGuire
  16. Silver Linings Playbook
  17. Dallas Buyers Club
  18. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  19. No Country for Old Men
  20. Tangled
  21. Children of Men
  22. War Games
  23. 28 Days Later
  24. The Graduate
  25. From Dusk Till Dawn

Friday, February 7, 2014

Perflix of the Day

No new additions to the Perflix list today but there is something I've got to get off my chest.

Avoid Contagion (2011) like the plague.  Directed by Steve Soderbergh (Traffic, Out of Sight, Sex Lies and Videotape) it's a directionless meandering thing that left me scratching my head as to how it ever got made.  You look at the cast, which includes Bryan Cranston, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet and Jude Law, and you think you're in for a treat.  Well, I hate to disappoint you but this isn't even a good use of your time - I wish I could have that 106 minutes back. It was so bad I feel bad for the popcorn I wasted on it.

How in the world someone allowed all of that talent to be wasted is beyond me.  Kate Winslet was killed off with nary a whimper.  Bryan Cranston?  I don't even remember seeing him!  Jude Law's character (a blogger about the pharmaceutical industry I guess?) had to be one of the most annoying of all time.  And poor Matt Damon - all I can say is I hope it was worth it.

The panicky over-editing reminded me of World War Z.  I guess there is something intrinsically difficult about filming a movie about a pandemic?  Trying to do a global story well on a budget would be challenging.  I would think you'd have to go small (like one family dealing with it in small-town America perhaps) with something like this but I'm by no means an expert.

Not worth much more of my time to write about it; just wanted to warn you.  I really liked Traffic and Out of Sight.  Maybe for Soderbergh this was like one of those projects I have at work that I really don't want to work on but I hold my nose and do it anyway because I need the paycheck.

Next up for me:  American Beauty.  Haven't seen it since it came out in '99 so I kept it off the list but I think it's a contender.  I'm sure if anyone cared to comment they'd ask about The Godfather.  Same story...I'm getting to it.

We had a couple sick/snow days here so my 4 year old son just watched The Incredibles (twice) and really liked it.  I only saw bits and pieces of it as I was running around trying to keep him and his brother clean and fed while maintaing some sense of order in the house (which usually means following my 2 year old around and picking up his path of destruction).  The Incredibles looked really good and I'd recommend it sight unseen based on my son's enthusiasm.

That's it for now.

Jeff







Thursday, February 6, 2014

Perflix of the Day

Hi again.  I wish I had more time to write; I really enjoy it…even if no one is out there listening.

Ok, a couple things.  First off, I feel like an idiot for leaving The Graduate off of my original list.  This is my 3rd favorite movie of all time after Alien and Top Gun (yes, Top Gun and yes I love love love Tom Cruise! There I said it).  Let's just chalk it up as a transcription error.  If you haven't seen The Graduate, watch it.  It is funny and quirky and one of Dustin Hoffman's earliest and greatest performances.  Katherine Ross (The Stepford Wives) is lovely and talented; I'm not sure what happened with her career I will have to read up on it.  Also, this movie made me fall in love with Alfa Romeos as a young man.

Aside: The Graduate was directed by Mike Nichols (Catch-22, Silkwood, The Birdcage, Postcards From The Edge, and, more recently, Charlie Wilson's War - a very good film) who, I was interested to learn, fired Mandy Patinkin from Heartburn (1986) in favor of Jack Nicholson.  I happen to be a fan of Mandy Patinkin so I was sorry to read about this episode.  Nichols is married to Diane Sawyer.  I thought this interesting given that he's directed so many Meryl Streep movies and I've always thought there was a resemblance between Streep and Sawyer…I'm just sayin'.  Anyway, I'd have to say that Graduate is his finest work.  I will have to watch Catch-22 again…I imagine that was a hard one to direct and at the moment it's not striking me as all that memorable but I may be wrong.

Second, I did watch E.T.  Check that, I watched part of it.  I couldn't believe how slow developing it was.  And the mystery guy with the keys dangling off his belt-loop, ugh.  No wonder I'd only watched it once when I was a kid.  It's definitely not making the cut - not by a long shot.  Even my four year old thought it was unbearable.

Finally - as it's getting very late and with my wife away have the two boys to get off to school in the morning - I was reflecting that I don't have much in the way of comedies posted to my list.  There are definitely some candidates back in the dark recesses of my brain.  Maybe after some caffeine in the morning - and if I can skip out of some meetings at work - I will see what I can do to lure them out.

I will be posting a running listing of Perflix at some point just need to figure out the best way to do that.

Signing off for now.




Saturday, January 25, 2014

Perflix of the Day

Here are a couple films I forgot to include in my original list (as opposed to new additions that I haven't seen previously).  Enjoy!

  • Children of Men
  • War Games
  • 28 Days Later
You may not have heard of Children of Men but it is a very unique and interesting post-apocalyptic story.  It is sort of made in a low-budget style of futurism depiction reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange (a wonderful Kubrick classic).

On the subject of Kubrick, while I included The Shining on my list, I have been hesitant to include Orange (above) and others (2001, Lolita, Dr. Strangelove) simply because it's been awhile since I watched them and need to watch them again to make a determination.  The same could be said for many many earlier films from the 30s through the 60s (another Kubrick, Spartacus, as an example) - I just haven't seen them or haven't seen them in a long time.  With two little boys, time is my limitation…  

Note: I did include A.I., which Kubrick handed off to Spielberg at some point and remains one of my favorite movies of all time for some weird reason.  

War Games speaks for itself - a classic.  Who doesn't love War Games?!

28 Days Later is a zombie movie but about the most plausible zombie movie one could make.  Because of this realism it will scare the hell out of you in a way Walking Dead never will.  The effects are awesome.

I will be watching E.T. in the near future.  I liked it when I was young but I doubt many Spielberg movies (Raiders was probably his finest work) will make the grade.

Last comment of the day:  I watched The Dark Crystal with my 4 year old son yesterday and really liked it (again, not having seen it in probably 20 years) but it doesn't quite make the grade as a Perflix in my opinion, though very very close.



Monday, January 13, 2014

Perflix of The Day

Once in a while I come across a movie that I think to myself "wow, now that was a perfect movie".  I usually make that comment to my wife and she gives me a quizzical look.  It's not something I can easily put my finger on, but it's how certain movies make me feel.  I guess I would characterize the feeling as complete and utter satisfaction similar to the feeling after you've eaten a great meal.  Or the feeling you get after giving a presentation or performance and thinking "nailed it!" - pure elation.  Another simile would be a perfect classic car model that you think to yourself "why didn't they just stop there?".

If I find myself annoyed by a segment of the film or a character, it's out.  If I find myself trying to find holes in the plot, or wondering and doubting about it - basically any thoughts of how it could've been better - it's out.  If I don't have the immediate sense that I want to watch it again, it ain't making the list.  If I'm thinking about it for days, weeks, months after watching it, it's probably on this list - I have been moved in some way.

I'm sure there is a way to quantify and characterize it more scientifically, and perhaps I will figure it out someday.  One thing I'm convinced of is there is some secret sauce to what makes a perfect film.  Until I figure it out, it is just an innate feeling for me.  Some may not agree with my selections and this list is by no means complete - it's mostly contemporary.  It's simply what I've been putting in my iPhone notes for a couple years and I finally came around to putting it out there (after watching Warm Bodies last night).  Consider this a first installment.  There are more that I will certainly be reminded of and feel free to make recommendations.

There are many great films (please don't be offended if your favorites aren't listed); these are just the ones that gave me that giddy feeling that I had just witnessed something, well, perfect.  Enjoy!

In no particular order:
  1. Alien
  2. Top Gun
  3. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  4. The Road
  5. Warm Bodies
  6. The Shining
  7. School of Rock
  8. Say Anything
  9. Hi Fidelity
  10. Fight Club
  11. Risky Business
  12. Star Wars
  13. Brokeback Mountain
  14. Animal House
  15. Jerry McGuire
  16. Silver Linings Playbook
  17. Dallas Buyers Club
  18. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  19. No Country for Old Men
  20. Tangled