June 8th, 2012: Dark Shadows (2012)
There is no earthly reason that I should have wanted to see this movie. I am not a huge fan of Johnny Depp and I’ve become disengaged by a lot of Tim Burton’s recent work. Since these two are the major forces of this movie, I really shouldn’t have wanted to see it. However, I couldn’t help myself once I saw that trailer. This movie looked to be just the right amount of strange and cooky that the Addams Family movies weren’t. As it turned out, this movie did satisfy me on the strange and cooky, but left me slightly disappointed that there wasn’t more to it. At times this movie is really a lot of fun and you can get sucked into the world Burton and Depp create, but then there are the times where you’re just waiting for the next Burton trope to drop. Oh well, I liked it.
Best Part: Oh man, Eva Green totally steals the show. She is so damn sexy and deadly that you cannot help but be intrigued by her character. She’s the perfect temptress too, after all, she hasn’t aged a day in centuries. What I find most engaging about her though is the aesthetic presence of the character, as Burton and Co. douse Green in pale goop and make her presence incredibly strong.
Worst Part: The ending of this movie is a bit of a hot mess. I never watched the original television series, but I imagine that all of the sudden character twists come straight from the old show. For this movie though, they came out of left field and didn’t have much payoff. I was especially disappointed that Chloe Mortez’s transformation was so underwhelming.
Side Note: You know, there were actually a lot of good culture shock moments in this movie. Normally a movie like this leaves me unaffected by the often awful cultural references, but since this movie takes place in the 1970’s, I think that all the references are actually pretty funny, since you know, the culture is now outdated. 
Overall: 7.5 out of 10. Not bad, especially for a modern Burton flick.

June 8th, 2012: Dark Shadows (2012)

There is no earthly reason that I should have wanted to see this movie. I am not a huge fan of Johnny Depp and I’ve become disengaged by a lot of Tim Burton’s recent work. Since these two are the major forces of this movie, I really shouldn’t have wanted to see it. However, I couldn’t help myself once I saw that trailer. This movie looked to be just the right amount of strange and cooky that the Addams Family movies weren’t. As it turned out, this movie did satisfy me on the strange and cooky, but left me slightly disappointed that there wasn’t more to it. At times this movie is really a lot of fun and you can get sucked into the world Burton and Depp create, but then there are the times where you’re just waiting for the next Burton trope to drop. Oh well, I liked it.

Best Part: Oh man, Eva Green totally steals the show. She is so damn sexy and deadly that you cannot help but be intrigued by her character. She’s the perfect temptress too, after all, she hasn’t aged a day in centuries. What I find most engaging about her though is the aesthetic presence of the character, as Burton and Co. douse Green in pale goop and make her presence incredibly strong.

Worst Part: The ending of this movie is a bit of a hot mess. I never watched the original television series, but I imagine that all of the sudden character twists come straight from the old show. For this movie though, they came out of left field and didn’t have much payoff. I was especially disappointed that Chloe Mortez’s transformation was so underwhelming.

Side Note: You know, there were actually a lot of good culture shock moments in this movie. Normally a movie like this leaves me unaffected by the often awful cultural references, but since this movie takes place in the 1970’s, I think that all the references are actually pretty funny, since you know, the culture is now outdated. 

Overall: 7.5 out of 10. Not bad, especially for a modern Burton flick.

June 7th, 2012: Blood on the Flat Track: The Rise of the Rat City Rollergirls (2007)
I’ve been quite attracted to the sport of Roller Derby ever since I saw Whip It a few months ago. For documentary week, I decided to close off my educational experience by watching a documentary on this obscure sport. What I found was a bit of a disappointment, not by the product but by the choices. For something that is quite popular and is in the public consciousness, I was surprised to see that there weren’t more documentaries on roller derby. Blood on the Flat Track explores the sport in Seattle (Never referred to by it’s proper name) and shows that there is a lot more to it than a bunch of hot chicks hitting each other.
Best Part: I really liked Basket Casey. Her personality was outstanding for the sport and she truly stood out as an individual amongst the crowd of goody-goody’s and punk rockers. She felt like somebody I could instantly connect with, and her relationship with Burnett Down was a great addition, as it highlighted the way the sport effects your personal life. Very cool.
Worst Part: I understand the difficulties that come with getting game footage, but I really wish that the actual sport was showcased with a bit more clarity. Often times the footage was from an angle that made it difficult to see the action and it was not uncommon for it to be a part of a series of shots. Very rarely was there more than ten straight seconds of gameplay shown, which is a shame since it’s such an interesting sport and something newcomers may want to see.
Side Note: Okay, those end credits were awesome. Just when I was sitting down and thinking “Man, there were so many girls, what were their names?” we get this beautiful showcase of every player with their name, picture, and number, all organized by team! I would like to see similar things done in movies with a large cast or documentaries that center on a group, since it’s easy to forget names when you don’t see the face too.
Overall: 8.5 out of 10. A cool examination of a niche sport.

June 7th, 2012: Blood on the Flat Track: The Rise of the Rat City Rollergirls (2007)

I’ve been quite attracted to the sport of Roller Derby ever since I saw Whip It a few months ago. For documentary week, I decided to close off my educational experience by watching a documentary on this obscure sport. What I found was a bit of a disappointment, not by the product but by the choices. For something that is quite popular and is in the public consciousness, I was surprised to see that there weren’t more documentaries on roller derby. Blood on the Flat Track explores the sport in Seattle (Never referred to by it’s proper name) and shows that there is a lot more to it than a bunch of hot chicks hitting each other.

Best Part: I really liked Basket Casey. Her personality was outstanding for the sport and she truly stood out as an individual amongst the crowd of goody-goody’s and punk rockers. She felt like somebody I could instantly connect with, and her relationship with Burnett Down was a great addition, as it highlighted the way the sport effects your personal life. Very cool.

Worst Part: I understand the difficulties that come with getting game footage, but I really wish that the actual sport was showcased with a bit more clarity. Often times the footage was from an angle that made it difficult to see the action and it was not uncommon for it to be a part of a series of shots. Very rarely was there more than ten straight seconds of gameplay shown, which is a shame since it’s such an interesting sport and something newcomers may want to see.

Side Note: Okay, those end credits were awesome. Just when I was sitting down and thinking “Man, there were so many girls, what were their names?” we get this beautiful showcase of every player with their name, picture, and number, all organized by team! I would like to see similar things done in movies with a large cast or documentaries that center on a group, since it’s easy to forget names when you don’t see the face too.

Overall: 8.5 out of 10. A cool examination of a niche sport.

June 6th, 2012: Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)
Living in New York City, I have seen my fair share of street art. This rapidly growing movement is incredible when punctuated properly and I really appreciate the different ways people approach the medium. Exit Through the Gift shop is a documentary that stands apart from many others exploring the field as it is made by one of it’s pioneers: Banksy. As such, there is a unique feel to the entire film that makes you see the heart of the people involved. It’s relatively fun and while many people aren’t quite sure if it’s a mockumentary, I will say that it is a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously and understands that sometimes you have to be able to laugh at yourself in order to make it through people and their bizarre nature.
Best Part: I really dug the insight into the way a street artist finds a project and builds a name for themselves. My favorite segments of the film were those featuring Shepard Fairey and his continued attempts to shock and awe the world around him with his art. It is no small coincidence that I am a huge fan of his art, as I found the insight helpful in not only understanding his work, but appreciating it.
Worst Part: I did not like Mr. Brainwash a whole lot. He seemed to be somebody who needed to figure out the path his life was going to take and he continually stalled to accomplish this. When he finally does realize what he wants to do, he takes stupid risks and exploits those around him to elevate generic art to a higher level. I don’t hate Thierry, but I didn’t like him by the end.
Side Note: My stance on Mr. Brainwash is this: He does make art, however it is not good. Anybody can make art in it’s truest form, but since Thierry mimics so many artists for his style while also using others to make the pieces, his work does not have a lot of value. If he had taken the time to discover his own particular flair instead of copying and pasting others work, I would respect him much more.
Overall: 9 out of 10. A fantastic documentary worth watching again and again.

June 6th, 2012: Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

Living in New York City, I have seen my fair share of street art. This rapidly growing movement is incredible when punctuated properly and I really appreciate the different ways people approach the medium. Exit Through the Gift shop is a documentary that stands apart from many others exploring the field as it is made by one of it’s pioneers: Banksy. As such, there is a unique feel to the entire film that makes you see the heart of the people involved. It’s relatively fun and while many people aren’t quite sure if it’s a mockumentary, I will say that it is a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously and understands that sometimes you have to be able to laugh at yourself in order to make it through people and their bizarre nature.

Best Part: I really dug the insight into the way a street artist finds a project and builds a name for themselves. My favorite segments of the film were those featuring Shepard Fairey and his continued attempts to shock and awe the world around him with his art. It is no small coincidence that I am a huge fan of his art, as I found the insight helpful in not only understanding his work, but appreciating it.

Worst Part: I did not like Mr. Brainwash a whole lot. He seemed to be somebody who needed to figure out the path his life was going to take and he continually stalled to accomplish this. When he finally does realize what he wants to do, he takes stupid risks and exploits those around him to elevate generic art to a higher level. I don’t hate Thierry, but I didn’t like him by the end.

Side Note: My stance on Mr. Brainwash is this: He does make art, however it is not good. Anybody can make art in it’s truest form, but since Thierry mimics so many artists for his style while also using others to make the pieces, his work does not have a lot of value. If he had taken the time to discover his own particular flair instead of copying and pasting others work, I would respect him much more.

Overall: 9 out of 10. A fantastic documentary worth watching again and again.

June 5th, 2012: The Parking Lot Movie (2010)
There is no greater joy than working at a parking lot… or so I hear. This documentary would definitely try to convince you of that at times. It’s a very silly concept, a documentary on people who work at a parking lot. I imagine it’s about as interesting as a documentary on working at a convenience store (Oh wait, that’s Clerks). Regardless, the filmmakers do their very best to try and show you the upside of working in such a thankless field and the many discoveries to be found when all you do is observe how people park their car and deal with you. Despite it’s seemingly boring premise, this movie does a darn good job of being funny and fun, while showing that everybody who drives a Hummer is an ass.
Best Part: I was very glad to see that this documentary focused equal parts on the pros and cons of working at a parking lot. Many times documentaries focus on one for the sake of narrative, but for this film they chose to balance them out to really hammer home that there are a lot of mixed feelings when your job is so simple and mundane. I for one liked that.
Worst Part: I know it isn’t all that important since the documentary is on the people and not the lot itself, but I really wish I knew what the lot looked like. Sure, we see what the booth looks like a few times, but we are left wondering the scale of the parking lot because there isn’t an establishing shot to inform us of what we’re witnessing. That’s a bit of a bummer.
Side Note: How charmingly bizarre is it that a movie like this exists? In a market that constantly regurgitates similar plots and nature documentaries, it’s great to see such a thoroughly thought out documentary about such a weird, overlooked part of American culture. Plus, I can’t help but be tempted to reach out and find the “stars” to see if they get recognized for this.
Overall: 8.5 out of 10. Park your butt and watch it!

June 5th, 2012: The Parking Lot Movie (2010)

There is no greater joy than working at a parking lot… or so I hear. This documentary would definitely try to convince you of that at times. It’s a very silly concept, a documentary on people who work at a parking lot. I imagine it’s about as interesting as a documentary on working at a convenience store (Oh wait, that’s Clerks). Regardless, the filmmakers do their very best to try and show you the upside of working in such a thankless field and the many discoveries to be found when all you do is observe how people park their car and deal with you. Despite it’s seemingly boring premise, this movie does a darn good job of being funny and fun, while showing that everybody who drives a Hummer is an ass.

Best Part: I was very glad to see that this documentary focused equal parts on the pros and cons of working at a parking lot. Many times documentaries focus on one for the sake of narrative, but for this film they chose to balance them out to really hammer home that there are a lot of mixed feelings when your job is so simple and mundane. I for one liked that.

Worst Part: I know it isn’t all that important since the documentary is on the people and not the lot itself, but I really wish I knew what the lot looked like. Sure, we see what the booth looks like a few times, but we are left wondering the scale of the parking lot because there isn’t an establishing shot to inform us of what we’re witnessing. That’s a bit of a bummer.

Side Note: How charmingly bizarre is it that a movie like this exists? In a market that constantly regurgitates similar plots and nature documentaries, it’s great to see such a thoroughly thought out documentary about such a weird, overlooked part of American culture. Plus, I can’t help but be tempted to reach out and find the “stars” to see if they get recognized for this.

Overall: 8.5 out of 10. Park your butt and watch it!

June 4th, 2012: Religulous (2008)
Religion is a touchy subject for almost everybody on the planet. It’s one of those topics that will undoubtedly lead to an argument whenever it’s brought up. For documentary week, I re-watched Religulous, an atheists dissection of all religions. While it is incredibly informative and very funny at times, Religulous is ultimately disappointing for anybody with a religious background, as Maher makes it very clear that he is the puppet master who will make everybody around him act in the ways he determines necessary for his views to best get across. If you are alright with watching a one-sided discussion of religion, then you’ll probably love this. 
Best Part: Man, Bill Maher knows exactly what questions to ask to make everybody around him look like an idiot. While I said it’s incredibly one-sided, that’s not entirely Maher’s fault, he just happens to be better informed on most of the issues he discusses and he knows how to present himself in a way that makes him look really smart.
Worst Part: Okay, here’s my only real complaint, and it’s a big one. The editing in this movie makes everybody’s opinion seem incredibly misinformed or ignorant, unless they’re Bill Maher. I would excuse this if it was done every now and then, but it is used constantly as a behind the scenes technique of belittling those he verbally spars with. It is such a distracting technique that it’s virtually impossible to look at his opponents as his equals.
Side Note: Some of the people that Bill Maher interviews have no business being interviewed. It seems as though nobody was even slightly prepared for these important interviews, because whenever Bill Maher asks a follow up question, people freeze and stall in their attempts to gain their footing. If they ever find it, Maher edits it out, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they really were that stupid.
Overall: 7.5 out of 10. A one-sided attack on religion.

June 4th, 2012: Religulous (2008)

Religion is a touchy subject for almost everybody on the planet. It’s one of those topics that will undoubtedly lead to an argument whenever it’s brought up. For documentary week, I re-watched Religulous, an atheists dissection of all religions. While it is incredibly informative and very funny at times, Religulous is ultimately disappointing for anybody with a religious background, as Maher makes it very clear that he is the puppet master who will make everybody around him act in the ways he determines necessary for his views to best get across. If you are alright with watching a one-sided discussion of religion, then you’ll probably love this. 

Best Part: Man, Bill Maher knows exactly what questions to ask to make everybody around him look like an idiot. While I said it’s incredibly one-sided, that’s not entirely Maher’s fault, he just happens to be better informed on most of the issues he discusses and he knows how to present himself in a way that makes him look really smart.

Worst Part: Okay, here’s my only real complaint, and it’s a big one. The editing in this movie makes everybody’s opinion seem incredibly misinformed or ignorant, unless they’re Bill Maher. I would excuse this if it was done every now and then, but it is used constantly as a behind the scenes technique of belittling those he verbally spars with. It is such a distracting technique that it’s virtually impossible to look at his opponents as his equals.

Side Note: Some of the people that Bill Maher interviews have no business being interviewed. It seems as though nobody was even slightly prepared for these important interviews, because whenever Bill Maher asks a follow up question, people freeze and stall in their attempts to gain their footing. If they ever find it, Maher edits it out, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they really were that stupid.

Overall: 7.5 out of 10. A one-sided attack on religion.

June 3rd, 2012: Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade (2007)
The world is exponentially becoming more virtual than it was in the past. While children used to be content playing with dolls and action figures, they now need to play video games where they press buttons to make an action hero or pretty princess do the same things they once handled with their imagination. One of the biggest reasons for the success of the video game is that the foundation was laid in the 1980’s through the arcade. Chasing Ghosts serves to document the early history of competitive gaming, and the lives of those who experienced great success in those times. While it has a unique subject and an interesting group of individuals, poor editing and odd pacing make this documentary solid instead of stellar.
Best Part: These guys are very fascinating in an odd way. While they are almost all socially awkward geeks, to see how serious they are about video games and the code of ethics that they all hold themselves to is really interesting. Not only that, but to see the different courses their lives took is just cool. Overall, the men who play the games really are the stars above all else.
Worst Part: Though I feel like the players are the stars of the show, it seems as though the film is mocking them at times. Various editing techniques emphasize how awkward these men can be at times and the film makes sure to point out how none of their video game careers panned out. While it isn’t an outright depressing movie, it can be a bit of a downer to the young and hopeful videogamers out there.
Side Note: While this movie is quite good, don’t get me wrong, I much prefer a similar documentary called “The King of Kong”, which makes the entire sport of competitive gaming seem like the coolest thing in the world, with it’s players appearing to be superstars in both personality and ability. Unfortunately, this movie downplays that at times to it’s detriment.
Overall: 7.5 out of 10. A solid look at a curious niche in pop culture.

June 3rd, 2012: Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade (2007)

The world is exponentially becoming more virtual than it was in the past. While children used to be content playing with dolls and action figures, they now need to play video games where they press buttons to make an action hero or pretty princess do the same things they once handled with their imagination. One of the biggest reasons for the success of the video game is that the foundation was laid in the 1980’s through the arcade. Chasing Ghosts serves to document the early history of competitive gaming, and the lives of those who experienced great success in those times. While it has a unique subject and an interesting group of individuals, poor editing and odd pacing make this documentary solid instead of stellar.

Best Part: These guys are very fascinating in an odd way. While they are almost all socially awkward geeks, to see how serious they are about video games and the code of ethics that they all hold themselves to is really interesting. Not only that, but to see the different courses their lives took is just cool. Overall, the men who play the games really are the stars above all else.

Worst Part: Though I feel like the players are the stars of the show, it seems as though the film is mocking them at times. Various editing techniques emphasize how awkward these men can be at times and the film makes sure to point out how none of their video game careers panned out. While it isn’t an outright depressing movie, it can be a bit of a downer to the young and hopeful videogamers out there.

Side Note: While this movie is quite good, don’t get me wrong, I much prefer a similar documentary called “The King of Kong”, which makes the entire sport of competitive gaming seem like the coolest thing in the world, with it’s players appearing to be superstars in both personality and ability. Unfortunately, this movie downplays that at times to it’s detriment.

Overall: 7.5 out of 10. A solid look at a curious niche in pop culture.

June 2nd, 2012: Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey (2011)
A few years ago I remember watching Forgetting Sarah Marshall and finding myself endlessly entertained by the puppets at the end of the movie. My girlfriend at the time found it incredibly stupid and was unmoved. It was at that moment I knew things had to end. I bring this up because I feel that puppets, and especially Muppets, have the uncanny ability of making you feel like a little kid again. Anytime I watch a Muppet movie or show, I am reminded of the beauty of the world and of how much love there really is if we open ourselves up to it. As such, I was very excited to learn the story of Kevin Clash, the man who would be Elmo. For documentary week, I couldn’t pass it up and I’m glad I didn’t.
Best Part: I love the pacing of the film. The filmmakers have no problem really taking their time and establishing what kind of a boy, fan, and then man Kevin would be. Learning all of the intricacies of not only his life, but of the Muppet family, was truly fantastic and I’m glad they didn’t rush through it all just to focus on his success.
Worst Part: I feel that there is too much happiness in this documentary at times. While yes, it is great to see a success story, the repercussions of Kevin’s choices are never really dealt with. The closest we see of the downside’s of Kevin’s life is that they mention how he missed out of his daughter’s childhood often, but I would have liked to have learned more details, especially about the mentioned-only-in-passing divorce he went through.
Side Note: As somebody who grew up with Sesame Street and the Muppet movies, I found myself lost in the wonder of the world Jim Henson created for all of these lovable characters. Just like when I watch the original Muppet Movie, I felt like a small child at times, in awe of these kind, caring people who give everything they have to make the children of the world smile.
Overall: 8.5 out of 10. Too short but still amazing.

June 2nd, 2012: Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey (2011)

A few years ago I remember watching Forgetting Sarah Marshall and finding myself endlessly entertained by the puppets at the end of the movie. My girlfriend at the time found it incredibly stupid and was unmoved. It was at that moment I knew things had to end. I bring this up because I feel that puppets, and especially Muppets, have the uncanny ability of making you feel like a little kid again. Anytime I watch a Muppet movie or show, I am reminded of the beauty of the world and of how much love there really is if we open ourselves up to it. As such, I was very excited to learn the story of Kevin Clash, the man who would be Elmo. For documentary week, I couldn’t pass it up and I’m glad I didn’t.

Best Part: I love the pacing of the film. The filmmakers have no problem really taking their time and establishing what kind of a boy, fan, and then man Kevin would be. Learning all of the intricacies of not only his life, but of the Muppet family, was truly fantastic and I’m glad they didn’t rush through it all just to focus on his success.

Worst Part: I feel that there is too much happiness in this documentary at times. While yes, it is great to see a success story, the repercussions of Kevin’s choices are never really dealt with. The closest we see of the downside’s of Kevin’s life is that they mention how he missed out of his daughter’s childhood often, but I would have liked to have learned more details, especially about the mentioned-only-in-passing divorce he went through.

Side Note: As somebody who grew up with Sesame Street and the Muppet movies, I found myself lost in the wonder of the world Jim Henson created for all of these lovable characters. Just like when I watch the original Muppet Movie, I felt like a small child at times, in awe of these kind, caring people who give everything they have to make the children of the world smile.

Overall: 8.5 out of 10. Too short but still amazing.

June 1st, 2012: The People vs. George Lucas (2010)
For June, I thought I would try something a little bit different. I’m going to be doing this month’s theme week based on documentaries. To start, I decided to watch a documentary chronicling one of the most divisive figures in pop culture; George Lucas. As a huge fan of Star Wars myself, I found that the documentary was a very balanced film that shows equally the pros and cons of the man who created it all. Well edited with tons of fan footage (Probably cheaper than using the original movie’s film), it is a very loving tale that manages to make you feel very happy and involved in Star Wars by the end. It is informative, entertaining, and most importantly, it is a very involved documentary that makes it hard to peel yourself away from what they have to say.
Best Part: I must say, the fan footage that is used throughout the film is incredible. The filmmakers mention that Star Wars probably has about 100 times as much fan created material as the next biggest property, and they expertly placed it throughout the film. Much of it I had seen before, but to see so much of it and to see it treated with such dignity and respect instead of having it exploited is truly fantastic and I really appreciate that.
Worst Part: The documentary manages to play things down the middle for about 90% of it’s duration, but I feel like in the end it does kind of change course and support George Lucas. Now, there isn’t anything wrong with that and in many ways I like that they end on a loving note that leaves me warm and fuzzy, but in a sense it undermines many of their complaints without wrapping them up. It is only a minor gripe though.
Side Note: Star Wars is an amazingly unique property and it’s great that the movie acknowledges this. There aren’t many movies that have had the lasting presence of Star Wars. What this movie manages to capture is the love and attachment that people feel towards Star Wars. Without getting into character specifics or focusing on what the story really is, they understand that everybody loves it for their own reason and leave it at that.
Overall: 9 out of 10. A phenomenal documentary.

June 1st, 2012: The People vs. George Lucas (2010)

For June, I thought I would try something a little bit different. I’m going to be doing this month’s theme week based on documentaries. To start, I decided to watch a documentary chronicling one of the most divisive figures in pop culture; George Lucas. As a huge fan of Star Wars myself, I found that the documentary was a very balanced film that shows equally the pros and cons of the man who created it all. Well edited with tons of fan footage (Probably cheaper than using the original movie’s film), it is a very loving tale that manages to make you feel very happy and involved in Star Wars by the end. It is informative, entertaining, and most importantly, it is a very involved documentary that makes it hard to peel yourself away from what they have to say.

Best Part: I must say, the fan footage that is used throughout the film is incredible. The filmmakers mention that Star Wars probably has about 100 times as much fan created material as the next biggest property, and they expertly placed it throughout the film. Much of it I had seen before, but to see so much of it and to see it treated with such dignity and respect instead of having it exploited is truly fantastic and I really appreciate that.

Worst Part: The documentary manages to play things down the middle for about 90% of it’s duration, but I feel like in the end it does kind of change course and support George Lucas. Now, there isn’t anything wrong with that and in many ways I like that they end on a loving note that leaves me warm and fuzzy, but in a sense it undermines many of their complaints without wrapping them up. It is only a minor gripe though.

Side Note: Star Wars is an amazingly unique property and it’s great that the movie acknowledges this. There aren’t many movies that have had the lasting presence of Star Wars. What this movie manages to capture is the love and attachment that people feel towards Star Wars. Without getting into character specifics or focusing on what the story really is, they understand that everybody loves it for their own reason and leave it at that.

Overall: 9 out of 10. A phenomenal documentary.

May 31st, 2012: Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
Hollywood has many crazes going on right now. Of these, the rise of the fantasy film has seen the most attention, second only (Maybe) to superhero movies. While films like Twilight and Harry Potter use literature as inspiration, other films like Alice in Wonderland call upon classic stories that everybody knows to death in the hopes of breathing new life into them. In this way, Snow White and the Huntsman is a bit of a mixed bag, as it manages to take the classic story and make it new and refreshing, while also falling victim to the cliches of the genre. I would definitely recommend seeing this movie, if only to show that adaptions can still be fresh even in this age, but I wouldn’t go into it with the highest of expectations, as poor direction and a predictable story stop it from being fantastic.
Best Part: One of the most distinct aspects of this movie I gathered from the trailer was a strong visual style. The overall design of this movie is just short of superb, as certain things like the magic mirror and the queen’s bathing pool look phenomenal. The dark forest is actually menacing, something I rarely see in film, and it’s counterpart later in the movie is simply charming, with bizarre mushrooms and fairies that are as likely to scare you as they are to enchant you.
Worst Part: This movie does not have very great direction. There were moments where I could literally predict what would happen next and what kind of shot would be used to convey it. Cliche shots like jumping into the water or running down a hallway and looking both ways may seem like minor nitpicks, but they are examples of cinematography falling short and dragging the movie down with it.
Side Note: There are some interesting characterizations in this movie. You feel some sympathy towards the evil Queen (Charlize Theron) while also admiring the strength of the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth). I feel like there isn’t a weak character in the lot (Except for maybe Sam Clafin as William) and that everybody fills a unique niche in the film.
Overall: 8 out of 10. A modern fairy tale.

May 31st, 2012: Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)

Hollywood has many crazes going on right now. Of these, the rise of the fantasy film has seen the most attention, second only (Maybe) to superhero movies. While films like Twilight and Harry Potter use literature as inspiration, other films like Alice in Wonderland call upon classic stories that everybody knows to death in the hopes of breathing new life into them. In this way, Snow White and the Huntsman is a bit of a mixed bag, as it manages to take the classic story and make it new and refreshing, while also falling victim to the cliches of the genre. I would definitely recommend seeing this movie, if only to show that adaptions can still be fresh even in this age, but I wouldn’t go into it with the highest of expectations, as poor direction and a predictable story stop it from being fantastic.

Best Part: One of the most distinct aspects of this movie I gathered from the trailer was a strong visual style. The overall design of this movie is just short of superb, as certain things like the magic mirror and the queen’s bathing pool look phenomenal. The dark forest is actually menacing, something I rarely see in film, and it’s counterpart later in the movie is simply charming, with bizarre mushrooms and fairies that are as likely to scare you as they are to enchant you.

Worst Part: This movie does not have very great direction. There were moments where I could literally predict what would happen next and what kind of shot would be used to convey it. Cliche shots like jumping into the water or running down a hallway and looking both ways may seem like minor nitpicks, but they are examples of cinematography falling short and dragging the movie down with it.

Side Note: There are some interesting characterizations in this movie. You feel some sympathy towards the evil Queen (Charlize Theron) while also admiring the strength of the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth). I feel like there isn’t a weak character in the lot (Except for maybe Sam Clafin as William) and that everybody fills a unique niche in the film.

Overall: 8 out of 10. A modern fairy tale.

May 30th, 2012: Addams Family Values (1993)
Another day, another Addams Family movie. I couldn’t help myself. After watching the Addams Family, I decided there was enough charm to warrant watching the sequel. Naturally, sequels are not always as good as the original, but I found myself enjoying Addams Family Values despite it’s flaws, much like I did the first movie. This time, I knew not to expect anything incredible, so it ended up being a pretty fun time as the family really got into the swing of things and became even more bizarre with the addition of Pubert, the new addition to the clan. The main plot in this movie is decent, the cast is likable enough, and honestly, this movie isn’t the worst waste of your time.
Best Part: If the first movie was all about showcasing Fester (Christopher Lloyd), then this movie is all about showing off Wednesday to the world. Christina Ricci is easily the best part of this movie as the eldest child of the Addams’. She is delightfully dark and manages to perfectly avoid all emotion in every scene, making her character cold as nice. When she eventually smiles, it is the most unGodly thing I have possibly ever seen and I think I’m going to have nightmares for weeks about it.
Worst Part: I don’t know what happened, but Christopher Lloyd kind of sucked in this movie. There were moments where you could see the shell of his former self, but most of this movie completely wasted Fester in a main plot that was so uninteresting and tedious that I’m amazed they were able to pull a good ending out of it. Though it pains me to say this, Lloyd may have been the worst part of this movie.
Side Note: Though her story was boring, I did enjoy Joan Cusack in this movie. She was pretty quirky and felt like a natural fit for the family at times. If not for the fact that she detested Fester so much, she could have made a great addition to the family. Cusack has some good moments as Debbie, but it’s really her most villainous bits where she truly comes alive.
Overall: 6.5 out of 10. An alright sequel.

May 30th, 2012: Addams Family Values (1993)

Another day, another Addams Family movie. I couldn’t help myself. After watching the Addams Family, I decided there was enough charm to warrant watching the sequel. Naturally, sequels are not always as good as the original, but I found myself enjoying Addams Family Values despite it’s flaws, much like I did the first movie. This time, I knew not to expect anything incredible, so it ended up being a pretty fun time as the family really got into the swing of things and became even more bizarre with the addition of Pubert, the new addition to the clan. The main plot in this movie is decent, the cast is likable enough, and honestly, this movie isn’t the worst waste of your time.

Best Part: If the first movie was all about showcasing Fester (Christopher Lloyd), then this movie is all about showing off Wednesday to the world. Christina Ricci is easily the best part of this movie as the eldest child of the Addams’. She is delightfully dark and manages to perfectly avoid all emotion in every scene, making her character cold as nice. When she eventually smiles, it is the most unGodly thing I have possibly ever seen and I think I’m going to have nightmares for weeks about it.

Worst Part: I don’t know what happened, but Christopher Lloyd kind of sucked in this movie. There were moments where you could see the shell of his former self, but most of this movie completely wasted Fester in a main plot that was so uninteresting and tedious that I’m amazed they were able to pull a good ending out of it. Though it pains me to say this, Lloyd may have been the worst part of this movie.

Side Note: Though her story was boring, I did enjoy Joan Cusack in this movie. She was pretty quirky and felt like a natural fit for the family at times. If not for the fact that she detested Fester so much, she could have made a great addition to the family. Cusack has some good moments as Debbie, but it’s really her most villainous bits where she truly comes alive.

Overall: 6.5 out of 10. An alright sequel.

May 29th, 2012: The Addams Family (1991)
With the upcoming Dark Shadows adaption, I thought it would be fun to watch a similar project from the 90’s, the Addams Family. Based on the endlessly classic television show, the Addams Family had a lot to live up to in the eyes of this fan. As such, when I watched this movie I initially found myself horribly disappointed. Adjusting to having different actors in these iconic roles as well as the bizarre story made it quite difficult to enjoy myself. After a rough start though, the movie picks up some steam and ends up being a lot of fun, equal parts creepy and spooky. In the end, it’s the comedy that shines though and the wonderful family dynamic that makes the Addams so endearing.
Best Part: At first, I hated Christopher Lloyd’s character Gordon. The premise that he happened to look exactly like Uncle Fester so he would pose as him was very silly. But over time, as you see him embrace the role that he is taking on, it’s hard not to fall in love with this perfectly kooky man. In the end, when he becomes the Uncle Fester we’ve known all these years, it’s a great ending that ties him together nicely.
Worst Part: I was really annoyed that a couple of the Addams Family members were so lackluster in this movie. While I’ve never cared for Granny, I was disappointed to see that Thing and Lurch were given so little screen time. I understand that they shouldn’t really be big deals, but we didn’t even get a “You raaaaang”. What a crime! Also, where was the classic theme? That needed to be in there!
Side Note: One of the best parts of this movie is the brotherly love between Gomez (Raul Julia) and Fester. It took me a while to get used to Julia, but in time the two showed an incredible chemistry that  ended up being a whole lot of fun to watch. In particular, their random little bits of violence made a big impact in how I viewed these two actors.
Overall: 7.5 out of 10. I enjoyed this movie a lot more than I thought I would. 

May 29th, 2012: The Addams Family (1991)

With the upcoming Dark Shadows adaption, I thought it would be fun to watch a similar project from the 90’s, the Addams Family. Based on the endlessly classic television show, the Addams Family had a lot to live up to in the eyes of this fan. As such, when I watched this movie I initially found myself horribly disappointed. Adjusting to having different actors in these iconic roles as well as the bizarre story made it quite difficult to enjoy myself. After a rough start though, the movie picks up some steam and ends up being a lot of fun, equal parts creepy and spooky. In the end, it’s the comedy that shines though and the wonderful family dynamic that makes the Addams so endearing.

Best Part: At first, I hated Christopher Lloyd’s character Gordon. The premise that he happened to look exactly like Uncle Fester so he would pose as him was very silly. But over time, as you see him embrace the role that he is taking on, it’s hard not to fall in love with this perfectly kooky man. In the end, when he becomes the Uncle Fester we’ve known all these years, it’s a great ending that ties him together nicely.

Worst Part: I was really annoyed that a couple of the Addams Family members were so lackluster in this movie. While I’ve never cared for Granny, I was disappointed to see that Thing and Lurch were given so little screen time. I understand that they shouldn’t really be big deals, but we didn’t even get a “You raaaaang”. What a crime! Also, where was the classic theme? That needed to be in there!

Side Note: One of the best parts of this movie is the brotherly love between Gomez (Raul Julia) and Fester. It took me a while to get used to Julia, but in time the two showed an incredible chemistry that  ended up being a whole lot of fun to watch. In particular, their random little bits of violence made a big impact in how I viewed these two actors.

Overall: 7.5 out of 10. I enjoyed this movie a lot more than I thought I would. 

May 28th, 2012: Poolboy: Drowning out the Fury (2011)
This movie was made to suck and it succeeds. It succeeds to the point where I questioned whether or not I wanted to continue watching a movie every day. It isn’t even that it’s the worst movie I’ve ever seen, because it’s not. It’s just the worst movie I’ve seen in a long time and it goes to such lengths to be bad that I question why anybody would want to be involved with it. Granted, they probably got payed a whole lot and that helped smooth things over. In the end though, don’t see this movie. It’s crap, and not the good kind that becomes good, but the bad kind that just makes you feel like you’ve wasted a part of your life.
Best Part: Easily the best part of this movie is the pool-cleaner that has a blade along to the edge to maim people horribly. It’s a really cool prop and it looked badass as Hell, which was really the only thing to make me find Kevin Sorbo interesting in the least bit. I want one to clean out my pool, and my neighborhood.
Worst Part: This movie is just soooo bad at being bad. Occasionally, it transitions into good for all of five seconds and then it spends the next twenty minutes sucking. The plot is stupid and has a thousand holes in it, the characters and unapologetically one dimensional, and the villain is one of the lamest characters I’ve ever seen, quite a feat when you consider that the awesome Danny Trejo plays him.
Side Note: This movie has a very odd framing device. The real life writer Ross Patterson plays Saint James St. James, the director of the film within a film. There is almost no consistency to his character and his jokes almost always miss the mark. Besides this though, that they bill the movie as the unseen sequel to the unseen original movie just makes it unnecessarily silly.
Overall: 4 out of 10. Please, don’t bother.

May 28th, 2012: Poolboy: Drowning out the Fury (2011)

This movie was made to suck and it succeeds. It succeeds to the point where I questioned whether or not I wanted to continue watching a movie every day. It isn’t even that it’s the worst movie I’ve ever seen, because it’s not. It’s just the worst movie I’ve seen in a long time and it goes to such lengths to be bad that I question why anybody would want to be involved with it. Granted, they probably got payed a whole lot and that helped smooth things over. In the end though, don’t see this movie. It’s crap, and not the good kind that becomes good, but the bad kind that just makes you feel like you’ve wasted a part of your life.

Best Part: Easily the best part of this movie is the pool-cleaner that has a blade along to the edge to maim people horribly. It’s a really cool prop and it looked badass as Hell, which was really the only thing to make me find Kevin Sorbo interesting in the least bit. I want one to clean out my pool, and my neighborhood.

Worst Part: This movie is just soooo bad at being bad. Occasionally, it transitions into good for all of five seconds and then it spends the next twenty minutes sucking. The plot is stupid and has a thousand holes in it, the characters and unapologetically one dimensional, and the villain is one of the lamest characters I’ve ever seen, quite a feat when you consider that the awesome Danny Trejo plays him.

Side Note: This movie has a very odd framing device. The real life writer Ross Patterson plays Saint James St. James, the director of the film within a film. There is almost no consistency to his character and his jokes almost always miss the mark. Besides this though, that they bill the movie as the unseen sequel to the unseen original movie just makes it unnecessarily silly.

Overall: 4 out of 10. Please, don’t bother.

May 27th, 2012: Penelope (2006)
Penelope has a very odd premise. A long time ago, an evil witch cast a curse on a family that the first daughter born would be ugly. Sure enough, it takes a good 150 years for this daughter to be born. When she is, she has a horrible pig nose and everybody is fascinated to learn more. As an adult, she tries desperately to find a husband who can help her lift the curse. While the premise could have been a lot of fun, the movie feels very weird, as the pig nose isn’t really THAT bad and our characters slowly realize they are acting like complete idiots over nothing. While the movie definitely has it’s charms, it is a bit disappointing that it never really finds it’s tone and bounces around from one issue to another so frequently.
Best Part: Christina Ricci is an absolute delight as Penelope. She manages to downplay the nose and make her character feel very natural. She has her charms and she has her struggles throughout the film, but how she grows as a character over time is what really makes her so endearing. A lesser actress would not have been able to pull this role off.
Worst Part: This movie never seems to know what it wants to be. While it is often cute and quirky, it tries to be very serious as well. The mixing of genre’s doesn’t do the film any favors either, and the lack of a threat makes the movie uninteresting. The combination of all of these factors results in a film that can’t make up it’s mind and leaves viewers disappointed.
Side Note: Peter Dinklage was surprising in this movie. When he first appeared, I thought he would have nothing more than a cameo appearance. It is only later that they expand on his role and use him to guide their feelings, as he realizes how carried away everybody is getting once he knows the truth. His character felt the most real to me out of the entire cast.
Overall: 7 out of 10. This little piggy’s just alright.

May 27th, 2012: Penelope (2006)

Penelope has a very odd premise. A long time ago, an evil witch cast a curse on a family that the first daughter born would be ugly. Sure enough, it takes a good 150 years for this daughter to be born. When she is, she has a horrible pig nose and everybody is fascinated to learn more. As an adult, she tries desperately to find a husband who can help her lift the curse. While the premise could have been a lot of fun, the movie feels very weird, as the pig nose isn’t really THAT bad and our characters slowly realize they are acting like complete idiots over nothing. While the movie definitely has it’s charms, it is a bit disappointing that it never really finds it’s tone and bounces around from one issue to another so frequently.

Best Part: Christina Ricci is an absolute delight as Penelope. She manages to downplay the nose and make her character feel very natural. She has her charms and she has her struggles throughout the film, but how she grows as a character over time is what really makes her so endearing. A lesser actress would not have been able to pull this role off.

Worst Part: This movie never seems to know what it wants to be. While it is often cute and quirky, it tries to be very serious as well. The mixing of genre’s doesn’t do the film any favors either, and the lack of a threat makes the movie uninteresting. The combination of all of these factors results in a film that can’t make up it’s mind and leaves viewers disappointed.

Side Note: Peter Dinklage was surprising in this movie. When he first appeared, I thought he would have nothing more than a cameo appearance. It is only later that they expand on his role and use him to guide their feelings, as he realizes how carried away everybody is getting once he knows the truth. His character felt the most real to me out of the entire cast.

Overall: 7 out of 10. This little piggy’s just alright.

May 26th, 2012: Lost in Translation (2003)
It’s been a while since I’ve seen a Bill Murray movie. In fact, it’s been too long. Bill Murray is a wonderful actor that automatically elevates anything he’s in. Take this movie for example, Lost in Translation. While it’s definitely a great movie, by all rights it should be a bad movie. It’s filled with cliche’s that many artsy movies have been using for years. However, Murray manages to make the role he plays remarkably enjoyable, allowing viewers to understand his character through actions no script can account for. In a world that is foreign to many, Bill Murray makes Lost in Translation a film anybody can latch onto. Throw in some stellar pacing and direction with a lot of the always beautiful Scarlett Johansson, and you have a movie worth watching.
Best Part: I love the bond that Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson develop over the course of this movie. It feels very genuine in a way that many movies miss. The two aren’t all over one another yet you sense a closeness that comes only when you find somebody whom is truly the right fit. The fact that they don’t end up together in the end is also appropriate, because they understand that although they have a close bond, they cannot take it any further at this point in time, due to outside responsibilities. It’s a very mature choice.
Worst Part: As much as I love the film’s pacing, it can be a tad dry. Between the humor and the slow progression of the story, there is little to really excite the viewer. I don’t really fault the movie for this, since it would have been inappropriate, but I can’t help but wonder if it would be more accessible with a more upbeat pacing highlighted by more exciting scenery and music.
Side Note: May I just say, it is lovely to hear bad singing in a movie. It seems that every time an actor sings in a movie, even if it’s supposed to be bad, it sounds pretty damn good. However, Anna Faris, Bill Murray, and Scarlett Johansson sound pretty bad when they sing. It’s the nice kind of bad, the kind that shows a reality to these characters that fits the movie well.
Overall: 9 out of 10. A great find.

May 26th, 2012: Lost in Translation (2003)

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a Bill Murray movie. In fact, it’s been too long. Bill Murray is a wonderful actor that automatically elevates anything he’s in. Take this movie for example, Lost in Translation. While it’s definitely a great movie, by all rights it should be a bad movie. It’s filled with cliche’s that many artsy movies have been using for years. However, Murray manages to make the role he plays remarkably enjoyable, allowing viewers to understand his character through actions no script can account for. In a world that is foreign to many, Bill Murray makes Lost in Translation a film anybody can latch onto. Throw in some stellar pacing and direction with a lot of the always beautiful Scarlett Johansson, and you have a movie worth watching.

Best Part: I love the bond that Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson develop over the course of this movie. It feels very genuine in a way that many movies miss. The two aren’t all over one another yet you sense a closeness that comes only when you find somebody whom is truly the right fit. The fact that they don’t end up together in the end is also appropriate, because they understand that although they have a close bond, they cannot take it any further at this point in time, due to outside responsibilities. It’s a very mature choice.

Worst Part: As much as I love the film’s pacing, it can be a tad dry. Between the humor and the slow progression of the story, there is little to really excite the viewer. I don’t really fault the movie for this, since it would have been inappropriate, but I can’t help but wonder if it would be more accessible with a more upbeat pacing highlighted by more exciting scenery and music.

Side Note: May I just say, it is lovely to hear bad singing in a movie. It seems that every time an actor sings in a movie, even if it’s supposed to be bad, it sounds pretty damn good. However, Anna Faris, Bill Murray, and Scarlett Johansson sound pretty bad when they sing. It’s the nice kind of bad, the kind that shows a reality to these characters that fits the movie well.

Overall: 9 out of 10. A great find.

May 25th, 2012: Analyze This (1999)
In Analyze This, Robert De Niro plays a gangster and Billy Crystal plays a New Yorker. With that revolutionary thinking, this movie manages to take both actors and shake their molds a bit, forcing the two to cooperate in a way that signaled the softening of De Niro’s career. However, there is never a point in this movie where you underestimate how much of a hardass De Niro is or how much of a smart ass Crystal is. Instead, by pairing the two together you are able to see the best of both men as the jokes fly back and forth while things get more and more intense. It’s a good movie, and this is coming from somebody who doesn’t like gangster films very much. I would definitely recommend checking it out, because if nothing else, it’s the best of both worlds.
Best Part: It is neither Billy Crystal of Robert De Nito who steals the show in this movie. Instead, Jelly, played by the late Joe Viterelli, is a lovable henchman who manages to play the perfect moron. You never once think that this man should be responsible for anything more complicated than getting groceries, yet you trust that he can take care of things and you just want to see him pop up in every scene, which luckily he does.
Worst Part: I never really got a feel for Lisa Kudrow’s character in this movie. While I admire that she stuck by her man, this is one of the many film appearances of Kudrow where she felt like she had almost no characterization and the characterization she had was rather bitchy. If she was given a little more screen time then maybe this wouldn’t be the case, but as it stands, she doesn’t leave much of an impression.
Side Note: I am thoroughly excited to see the sequel to this movie. In fact, this is the first time in quite a while where I find myself actually excited to see more adventures of an onscreen duo. This is definitely a good sign, and though I don’t expect much from the sequel, I am very happy that I can leave this movie wanting more yet accepting it for what it is.
Overall: 8 out of 10. A bang-up good time.

May 25th, 2012: Analyze This (1999)

In Analyze This, Robert De Niro plays a gangster and Billy Crystal plays a New Yorker. With that revolutionary thinking, this movie manages to take both actors and shake their molds a bit, forcing the two to cooperate in a way that signaled the softening of De Niro’s career. However, there is never a point in this movie where you underestimate how much of a hardass De Niro is or how much of a smart ass Crystal is. Instead, by pairing the two together you are able to see the best of both men as the jokes fly back and forth while things get more and more intense. It’s a good movie, and this is coming from somebody who doesn’t like gangster films very much. I would definitely recommend checking it out, because if nothing else, it’s the best of both worlds.

Best Part: It is neither Billy Crystal of Robert De Nito who steals the show in this movie. Instead, Jelly, played by the late Joe Viterelli, is a lovable henchman who manages to play the perfect moron. You never once think that this man should be responsible for anything more complicated than getting groceries, yet you trust that he can take care of things and you just want to see him pop up in every scene, which luckily he does.

Worst Part: I never really got a feel for Lisa Kudrow’s character in this movie. While I admire that she stuck by her man, this is one of the many film appearances of Kudrow where she felt like she had almost no characterization and the characterization she had was rather bitchy. If she was given a little more screen time then maybe this wouldn’t be the case, but as it stands, she doesn’t leave much of an impression.

Side Note: I am thoroughly excited to see the sequel to this movie. In fact, this is the first time in quite a while where I find myself actually excited to see more adventures of an onscreen duo. This is definitely a good sign, and though I don’t expect much from the sequel, I am very happy that I can leave this movie wanting more yet accepting it for what it is.

Overall: 8 out of 10. A bang-up good time.