Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Perflix of the Day

Quit my job a few weeks ago...it was a cushy job that paid well and afforded me the freedom to come in after 9 and leave at 5, work out every day, and work from home pretty much whenever I wanted.  Sounds ideal right?  Yeah, but the work was boring and menial and it was in the soul-sucking health insurance industry which is like the anti-christ to me.  I like to be paid well, but make it count you know?  Give me a challenge and turn me loose, don't micro-manage me and waste my time with work that should be done by hungry kids right out of college.  Management 101.  Anyway, the job search has kept me away for awhile.  I have seen a number of movies that I wanted to share with you though, and I figure I gotta get them in now as I'm coaching t-ball and that's going to ramp up soon.

Spring came early to Oregon again this year.  The climate models have been right on so far...from what I understand the human race has 50-60 years left on this rock and after that maybe a small percentage of us carry on.  So make it count.  Get an electric car if you must have a car.  Plant a tree.  But do something.  (There is no snow in Alaska for Christ's sake - this is for real!)  Otherwise the only entertainment you're kids will have when they're your age is a campfire.

Ok well that was a little over the top but you get the message...

Now, here's what I've seen lately and my thoughts:

Birdman is wonderful and deserved best picture of 2014. Directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (21 Grams (2003), Babel (2006), Biutiful (2010) and starring Michael Keaton. I thought Keaton gave a brilliant, Oscar-worthy performance, but I haven't seen The Theory of Everything yet to know if Eddie Redmayne really deserved the win. Keaton's performance would be hard to beat by any standard. But maybe I'm biased.  I was in a good spot in my life when he was at his pinnacle, so I'm a bit nostalgic for him, Richard Dreyfus, Mickey Rooney, Rob Lowe - those guys; let's call 'em the comeback kids.  I would call Birdman a drama but it it's quite funny and I've seen it described as a comedy which I think is just strange.   I am just so glad to see Keaton find so much success. You can tell he works hard at his craft and you can see the intensity and seriousness, and maybe a touch of vulnerability, in his eyes.  He put his heart into this one and I'm glad to see it spring-boarding him into more big box-office projects.  I hate to see great actors get put out to pasture and that's one of the redeeming qualities of Hollywood - it gives real talent a second chance.  And to that I say bravo! Inarritu also deserves praise for this project and Birdman makes me curious to go back and watch Babel, Biutiful, and 21 Grams again which all struck me as quality films at the time. I also want to see Amores Perros which I guess is his first feature that propelled his filmmaking career. This may be an ignorant statement, but to me it seems his directorial style has some similarities to the Coen brothers and to Ridley Scott, but maybe it's because they've all done southwestern drug movies (the Coens' with No Country For Old Men, Ridley Scott with The Counselor, Inarritu with 21 Grams and Babel.
Saving Mr. Banks (2013) is very good storytelling and I would recommend it.  I most enjoyed it for the biographical content about the life of P.L. Travers and how she came to write Mary Poppins.  I never really understood what Mary Poppins was all about (not having read the book but having watched the movie a gazillions times with my son Colin who used to love the chimney sweep scene during which he would run around the living room with a broom).  Playing Walt Disney, Tom Hanks is wonderful as always (I just want to hug the guy), and Emma Thompson (as P.L. Travers) turns in a performance I was surprised to learn did not earn her an Oscar (but then again she would've been up against J-Law in Silver Linings Playbook which definitely takes the cake).  Nice sentimental movie for a rainy Saturday.

I don't often do this but I found Speed Racer to be unwatchable.  I endured it for maybe 15 minutes but found it very annoying and hard to watch with all of the frantic cuts - it reminded me of the Lego movie in that respect.  It's like watching a shell game - interesting for about six seconds then I'm over it.  What can I say my eyes got tired.  Maybe you'll give it more of a chance - and let me know if you do and feel free to comment.

I have a lot more to write about, including some new additions to Perflix, but will save it for tomorrow - here's a preview of what's to come:

The Machinist

The Gruffalo & The Gruffalo's Child

Oh Brother Where Art Thou

Mary Poppins

Annie
  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, January 31, 2015

Perflix of the Day

Just a quick program note that I've turned on comments - sorry for the oversight I swear I turned it on at some point.  For now I will moderate them and we'll see how it goes.  I'm not really interested in criticism as we all do the best we can with what we've got, right?  I'm no Hollywood insider and I'm not a professional critic.  I just love watching movies and I like writing about  what I've seen - I'm sort of a market maven in that regard - I can't help myself. I'm more interested in your thoughts and opinions on the films I've reviewed and your perfect movie playlist, so have at it.

I'm reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy again.  Although it is extremely dark, haunting, and will make you cry, and often, I also believe it is one of the most beautiful books ever written.  I love his minimalist prose that says so much and sparks your imagination with few powerful words.  At times he has beautiful Hemingway-esque prose that is descriptive and melodic and beautiful to read - so much so that I find myself reading some passages over and over again.  And the one-two punch here is that it's an incredibly moving and mesmerizing film as well.  It is directed by John Hillcoat who did the book justice by capturing the desolation, fear and hopelessness conveyed in the book.  He is an Aussie, relatively unknown but also directed Lawless and The Proposition which I have yet to see.  Take my word for it - read the book, savor it.  Then watch the movie.

I still need to take another look at Black Swan as it definitely left an impression on me (Natalie Portman was amazing in what I think was her real coming of age film, though admittedly I don't remember watching Closer) and I also found myself reminded of Napoleon Dynamite the other day when watching The Grand Budapest Hotel - the character Zero's demeanor (played wonderfully by Tony Revolori by the way) reminded me of Napoleon's sidekick Pedro which made me think hey, now that was a good one.  Maybe just nostalgic but I'll check it out again.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is quirky and delightful Wes Anderson film.  Ralph Fiennes was perfectly cast for the leading role as the concierge and is superb.  F. Murrah Abraham as the aged Zero is always fun to watch - he has such a presence. And, as I mentioned above, Tony Revolori is terrific as Ralph Fiennes' lobby boy protégé Zero. I was happy to see Lea Seydeux (Blue is the Warmest Color) play Zero's girlfriend.  Edward Norton, Adrien Brody, and Willem Dafoe have other key roles.  There are a lot of lesser roles filled by top-notch talent - Jeff Goldblum (man I haven't seen him in years), Bill Murray who is one of my faves of all time, Harvey Keitel (always puts a smile on my face) and Tilda Swinton to name a few.  It was as enjoyable hour and forty minutes as you will spend (in a chair).

As you may know, I love sci-fi and so was excited to watch Edge of Tomorrow - one of the seemingly many Tom Cruise post-apocalyptic movies of late.  Sorta like Snowpiercer it has sort of a crazy-talk plot when you say it out loud, but in execution I loved it.  I really liked the Normandy D-Day invasion plotline.  And like many recent sci-fi movies the technology has improved vastly over the last ten years and it is visually stunning, especially military hardware and maneuvers and the many battle scenes with the alien scourge.  It is fun to watch.  Well worth your time if you're into sci-fi - even my wife didn't get up to leave.

On the other hand, we wish we had the hour an a half back from last night watching Goodbye World - totally terrible writing.  Basically a group of spoiled, privileged, self-centered - to the point that they discover they caused the apocalypse, uh huh - Stanford grads shack up in N. California to ride out the apocalypse, during which they quarrel over petty things like how much the solar-powered house is worth post-apocalypse - "the value is skyrocketing" - seriously.  They couldn't have been more boorish but as someone who worked at Stanford for 5 years, it was pretty true to form in that respect.  I don't usually bother writing about bad movies, but this one was so very bad I felt I had to be a good Samaritan as it would be immoral for me to not warn you off.

I am still greatly enjoying Californication - I think I'm in season 6.  I gotta say I love Rob Lowe as Eddie Nero.  This is one of my favorite characters of all time in any media.  Lowe has a real gift for comedic acting and I'm glad to see him achieve some success (well, ate least he's making money with all of the Dish Network commercials) after watching him in movies as I was coming of age (he's 7 years older than me) - I wanted to be him in About Last Night and I was as in love with the young Demi Moore as his character.  And of course St. Elmo's Fire was one of my favorites growing up.  I miss the days of all those rat pack movies.  They were perfect for young teens. 

  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