Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

July 2007 on 50 Words
Aug 12, 2007

I wrote 37 Reviews in July on 50 Words, six more than my goal. In August, I’m going to try to keep up with my average of one review per day. Here’s what I reviewed in July, in order of letter grade:

  1. Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane – At Carnegie Hall
  2. Tito Puente – Live at the Village Gate
  3. Joe Henderson – Double Rainbow
  4. Joe Henderson – Lush Life
  5. Billy Taylor – Dr. T
  6. Buddy DeFranco and Terry Gibbs – Holiday for Swing
  7. Modern Jazz Quartet – A 40th Anniversary Celebration
  8. Sicko
  9. The Tao of Steve
  10. Thirteen
  11. Gerry Mulligan – Midas Touch
  12. Hargrove McBride Scott – Parker’s Mood
  13. Herbie Mann – Sultry Serenade
  14. Jimmy Smith and Eddie Harris – All the Way Live
  15. Lackawanna Blues
  16. Oscar Peterson – Compact Jazz
  17. Shattered Glass
  18. Teodross Avery – In Other Words
  19. Eric Dolphy – Outward Bound
  20. Lee Konitz – Subconscious-Lee
  21. Sonny Stitt and Richie Cole – Battle of the Saxes
  22. Stanley Jordan – Standards, Vol. 1
  23. Transformers
  24. An American Rhapsody
  25. Nine Lives
  26. Tom Dowd & the Language of Music
  27. All Over Me
  28. Mi Mejor Enemigo
  29. Proof (1991)
  30. Stanley Jordan – Stolen Moments
  31. Ella Fitzgerald – Ella By Starlight
  32. The Young Americans
  33. Head On
  34. The Last Days of Chez Nous
  35. Keane
  36. Last Days
  37. Eric Dolphy – Wherever I Go

Highest Grade: A++. Lowest Grade: D-. July’s GPA: 3.21 (B+).

Category Breakdown: Movies (17 – 45.95%), Music (20 – 54.05%)

Goal for August: 31 reviews or more.


Movie 250
Jul 12, 2007

Yesterday, I posted the 250th movie review, The Tao of Steve (2000) at 50 Words. Since May 24, I’ve posted 50 movie reviews, an average of about one a day. Some of the movies I’ve reviewed are ones that I’ve seen before. Some of them I own. I only review things once on 50 Words, though.

Oh, I should update the list:

  • Seen: 586
  • In Queue: 443
  • Unavailable: 319
  • Left to see (but not in queue): 997
  • Total: 2345

June 2007 on 50 Words
Jul 12, 2007

I wrote 29 Reviews in June on 50 Words, one short of goal. So, in July, I’m going for 31, an average of one review per day. Here’s what I reviewed in June, in order of letter grade:

  1. John Coltrane – A Love Supreme (1964)
  2. Miles Davis – Kind of Blue (1959)
  3. Miles Davis – Birth of the Cool (1956)
  4. Sonny Stitt – Personal Appearance (1957)
  5. Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
  6. Whale Rider (2002)
  7. 21 Grams (2003)
  8. The Bill Evans Trio with Stan Getz – But Beautiful (1974)
  9. Paris, Je T’Aime (2006)
  10. Walk the Line (2005)
  11. Cannonball Adderley – Things Are Getting Better (1958)
  12. The Beautiful Country (2004)
  13. Joe Henderson – Mode for Joe (1966)
  14. A River Runs Through It (1992)
  15. John Coltrane – Stardust (1958)
  16. Grizzly Man (2005)
  17. Abbey Lincoln – Abbey Is Blue (1959)
  18. Paradise Now (2005)
  19. Pride & Prejudice (2005)
  20. Trees Lounge (1996)
  21. My Cousin Vinny (1992)
  22. Happy Endings (2005)
  23. Broken Flowers (2005)
  24. The Secret Life of Words (2005)
  25. La Vie en Rose (2007)
  26. Corpse Bride (2005)
  27. Oscar Peterson – A Jazz Portrait of Frank Sinatra (1959)
  28. Knocked Up (2006)
  29. Forty Shades of Blue (2005)

Highest Grade: A++. Lowest Grade: F. June’s GPA: 3.46 (B+).

Category Breakdown: Movies (19 – 65.52%), Music (10 – 34.48%)

Goal for July: 31 reviews or more.

Movie 200
May 24, 2007

A few days ago, I posted the 200th movie review over at 50 Words. It seems like only yesterday, I came up with the idea and sold Mr. Bye and Mr. Ferrante on it. It’s actually been a year, a month, and ten days. The very first post on 50 Words was my review for Primer. There are a few posts dated earlier, primarily remixes of reviews on this site and others in my “review this” list on Backpack (of which nine remain unreviewed).

I really enjoy writing these little tiny reviews, although sometimes I feel as though I’m saying the same things over and over again. Admittedly, I’m not the most creative reviewer out there. I also tend to be very generous with my ratings. That said, I’m looking forward to seeing how the next 200 movies goes.

Oh, I should update the list:

  • Seen: 567
  • In Queue: 459
  • Unavailable: 319
  • Left to see (but not in queue): 1000
  • Removed from list: 2 (duplicates)
  • Total: 2345

Since I posted here two months ago, I’ve seen 14 movies — an average of one movie every 4½ days. At this rate, it should take 18 years to watch the remaining 1459 movies, if no more are added to the list. In order to see all of these wonderful films, I really need to increase my numbers a little bit.

Trimming the List
Mar 24, 2007

Since adding to the list a couple of months ago, I’ve been sorting through the unavailables in the outside chance that some of them are being released eventually on DVD.  I was surprised by my results.

Tally from January 27:

  • Seen: 544
  • In Queue: 345
  • Unavailable: 416
  • Left to see (but not in queue): 1048
  • Total: 2353

New tally:

  • Seen: 553
  • In Queue: 432
  • Unavailable: 318 (I got to remove almost 100)
  • Left to see (but not in queue): 1044
  • Removed from list: 6 (Usually because Short films inadvertently ended up in the master list)
  • Total: 2347 (I’ve seen 23.56% of them).

Obviously, I’m a list maker.  I imagine the unavailables will constitute an ever smaller number as time goes by.  On with the movie watching!

Nominee Project Update
Sep 7, 2006

About five months ago, I announced the Nominee Project here. Since I posted that, I’ve seen a few movies, started a reviews site with a couple of friends, and kept my database of nominees up to date.

Let’s take a look at my progress. It isn’t awards nomination time yet, so the total remains the same.

  • Total: 2,265 movies
  • Already viewed: 519 (22.91%)
  • Unavailable on DVD: 415 (18.32%)
  • Left to See: 1,331 (58.76%) — 267 (11.79%) in my Netflix queue

At this rate of 30 every five months, it should only take me about 18½ years to get through this list. I intend to pick up the pace dramatically. I’ve been a little busy with other things.

Nominee Project
Apr 11, 2006

Some time ago, I decided to embark on a new project. I have decided to attempt to view every movie nominated for either an Oscar, a Golden Globe, or an Independent Spirit Award during the course of my life. This includes any movie nominated from 1971 until now (no matter when it was filmed).

After watching this year’s Independent Spirit Awards, I noticed how many interesting movies had come out that I had never heard of. So, a few weeks ago, I embarked on a hobbyist project to determine just how many we were talking about. In the process, I decided to eliminate certain categories from my project. To wit:

  • Any movie nominated only for “Best Original Song.” A movie that only got a nod because Elton John sold a few million soundtracks doesn’t merit consideration, if only because that doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of the movie.
  • Any short movie nominated (“Documentary Short”, “Animated Short”, “Live Action Short”), because of the impossibility to find them reliably on DVD.
  • Any movie unavailable via Netflix, or unlikely to be available in the future (generally, movies that have been out more than a few years who are not in Netflix’s database — either as “Add to Queue” or “Save”).

In order to build a master list of all of the movies (and eliminate duplicates), I built four tables in a MySQL database (not here), manually grabbed and culled the lists from IMDB, wrote a PHP page that generated an HTML list of the movies, ran ‘sort’ on it, and built a list of all the movies (minus Short Subjects and Best Original Song). From this master list, I found all the movies I’ve already seen, and began clicking on the others (which popped me over to IMDB). Any movies I found that didn’t indicate US DVD availability in that Amazon corner, I searched for them on Netflix. Those that I found were added to my Queue. Those that I didn’t got crossed off the list. In the process, I added them in blocks of 100 (with a status indicating unavailable, added to queue, already seen, or left to see) into a master MySQL table.

This evening, I finished the list. It is rather large:

  • Total: 2,265 movies
  • Already Viewed: 489 (21.59%)
  • Unavailable on DVD: 417 (18.41%)
  • Left to See: 1359 (60.00%)
    • Added to Queue: 245 (10.82%)

When the awards ceremonies roll around again, I’ll add the nominees to my database and watch those, too. Given that I have over 1350 available (or to-be-available) movies in my database, I am hoping to catch up with whatever the current year is in about five years. At an average movie length of 2 hours, this is 113¼ days of movie viewing.

This project in no way restricts me from viewing movies I’ve already seen, movies that weren’t nominated, or TV series on DVD or in tivo. I’m pretty excited, though. I know I’m going to hate some of these films, but a number of them will probably end up in my DVD collection.

Wish me luck!

V for Vendetta
Apr 9, 2006

My friend and I headed down to Camera 12 tonight for V for Vendetta, starring Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, and an all-star cast of British character actors. This movie is based on a graphic novel.

Portman plays Evey Hammond, a television station employee in a post-apocalyptic London, controlled by a fundamentalist totalitarian government. After being rescued by V, the enigmatic rogue hero, Evey is sought by the police as a suspected collaborator in subversive plots against the government.

The story is superbly acted and filmed. The tension is palpable, the government scary, and the plot twists somewhat unexpected. The story examines how easy it is to take freedom for granted, and how easily duped the government-informed masses were. As far as comic book movies go, this one ranks in quality right next to Sin City.

My grade: A-.

Million Dollar Baby
Apr 4, 2006

Tonight: Million Dollar Baby, directed by Clint Eastwood. In 2005, this picture one four Academy Awards and two Golden Globes.

Hilary Swank earns her second Best Actress Oscar playing Margaret "Maggie" Fitzgerald, a waitress with aspirations as a boxer. She meets up with Frank Dunn, an aging gym owner and trainer (played magnificently by Clint Eastwood), who refuses to take her on as a fighter. She insists on working out trainerless at the gym every day until Dunn's assistant manager, Eddie Dupris (Morgan Freeman), gives her a few pointers. She starts to improve her skills to the point that Frank agrees to take her under her wing and train her to be an extraordinary boxer.

All of the characters are beautifully flawed and magnificently acted in this unforgettable feature. Each person in the story has almost insurmountable challenges — whether it's the estrangement from family, the history of having taken the big shot, or the gigantic hurdle of the protagonist's gender. The look and sound of the picture is beautiful throughout. The script is unbelievable and this movie deserved every award for which it was nominated. The tension of striving and loss are palpable and the film comes to its conclusion bringing its audience through the full range of human emotion. Clint Eastwood has, once again, proven the mastery of his craft with this virtuosic masterpiece.

My grade: A+.

Garden State
Apr 3, 2006

Tonight: Garden State, an Independent Spirit Award winner (Best First Feature), starring Zach Braff (who also wrote and directed it), Natalie Portman, and Sir Ian Holm.

Braff plays Andrew Largeman, a struggling actor and waiter in a Vietnamese restaurant, who has to return to his hometown in New Jersey to attend the funeral of his mother. While in New Jersey, he meets Sam, an extremely eccentric cutie. The strong ensemble cast includes Ian Holm, who plays Largeman's father, a psychiatrist who has kept him medicated since an accident left Andrew's late mother paralyzed. The provinciality of the locals is revealed and we get a glimpse into the character flaws, motivations, and strangeness of everyone.

The script is well-written, funny, and excellently shot. Strange plot twists lead us to a few unexpected places. This was a solid effort by a budding filmmaker. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

My grade: B.