Best TV Show That I Just Watched

Best TV Show That I Just Watched
Parks & Recreation

Monday, January 19, 2015

2014 #164- 136- Good Moments, Good Actors, but major disappointments

164- Devil's Due- This is essentially a found footage version of Rosemary's Baby. The acting is fine but the script and the twists and turns that the plot takes are neither interesting nor well- done or thought-out. The only thing that kept this from being a bottom of the barrel film was that it had a couple of very creepy and indelible images. Otherwise, pure tripe.

163- Believe- This is a film that is based on a true story of a top manager from a British soccer team who, after dropping out of coaching the sport years earlier due to a tragedy, ends up coaching a kids soccer team. My wife will accuse me of putting this film way down on the list because it is about soccer, but that is far from the truth. This film stars Brian Cox and Natascha McElhone who give great performances and do more for this film than they should. The kids are well cast and even exhibit some amazing ball handling skills (they are all part of actual award winning teams). The problem with this film is that the writing, directing, and editing are so poor that the film almost makes no sense. The kids have 4 weeks or so to train and get ready for the match. We get a montage and then they are playing their first match. Then, as the audience, we assume they are shown playing a different game just moments later since the jerseys on the competing team have changes. Is it the same day? A month later? Were games played in between? We don't know. There are moments where the shot lasts much longer than needed and nothing else happens in the frame and you can almost hear the actors asking for the director to yell 'Cut!'. How long ago did the tragedy happen? What causes the coach to decide to come back to coaching? A semi-final game is discussed but never shown. This film is a mess from beginning to end, behind the camera, which is a real shame. The story is intriguing, too bad they can't tell it. This is one of those films that needs to be remade immediately with the same cast but different behind-the-scenes talent. It almost feels as they had only 7 days to film this and they filmed what they could, missed filming a lot of connective scenes, and had to assemble a semi-coherent film in the editing room, which did not work. A real shame.

162- What If- This is a supposed romantic comedy starring Daniel Radcliffe (of Harry Potter fame) and Zoe Kazan as a couple who meets at a party. He wants to be "more than friends" but she is already in a relationship. This is based on a play and, maybe it plays better on the stage? I doubt it. Both the main characters are insufferably obnoxious (they are written that way- I think Radcliffe and Kazan do what they can), and Adam Driver has some great moments as Radcliffe's friend (brother? I didn't care enough to remember) but it was more boring and insufferable than even bland and forgettable.

161- Skeleton Twins- This is an independent drama that stars comedic duo Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader showing off their acting chops. While they definitely can handle drama, the film and script are awful and have all of the  "Indie Sundance dysfunctional family" tropes without feeling like actual people or situations. Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader are brother and sister who have not seen  each other in many years. They both attempt suicide on the same day. Hader ends up in the hospital and Wiig picks him up and invites him to live with her and her fiancee for a while until he can get back on his feet. Wiig's character is depressed because of reasons and Hader is gay, has nothing to live for, and has a big hidden secret that is dug up once he comes back into town reconnects with an old mentor of his. Luke Wilson is portrayed as an awful man because of... reasons and is openly mocked for trying to give Wiig a life that he feels that she wants. While the acting is all well done, the films tone is all over the place and never gels. The script is also all over the place (after  spending 10 minutes of screentime on a "bonding session" between the siblings at Wiig's job as a dental hygenist, the next day, Hader calls Wiig a bored housewife who has nothing to do- obviously he forgot that she has a job???) and all of the dramatic developments are too choreographed and obvious and the ending is seemingly a happy ending where the siblings have each others backs but they end up being the worst thing that either of them could ever wish for. This is what people think of when they think of bland, uptight, pretentious independent filmmaking. The lip sync to Nothing;s Gonna Stop Us Now is a highlight, however.

160-Rover- Guy Pierce and Robert Pattinson co-star in this variation on 'Of Mice and Men'. It is 10 years after a cataclysmic disaster in Australia. Guy Pierce's car is stolen and he will do anything to get it back. Pattinson plays a dim-witted robber that pairs with Pierce to find his car. While trying to be a slow burn tense thriller, it ends up bein boring, uninteresting and waaaaaay too long for a conclusion that is not interesting or surprising. A different edit of this same film may yield a great film, but this version is just not a good film. Australian outback looks gorgeous, though!

159- I, Frankenstein- The creators of Underworld try to reboot the Frankenstein story by giving it an interesting twist and then it becomes a generic "secret battle of creatures that the human race does not know exist"- except that their battles occur in public, at nighttime, with a lot of yelling, screaming, fire, explosions, and hordes of creatures blocking out the moon. Maybe it is secret since there are no other people on the streets. At All. Ever. A decent concept is marred by generic creature action filmmaking and Aaron Eckhhart, Yvonne Strahovski, and Bill Nighy are stranded in this thriller that does not thrill.

158- Inspired Guns- A Mormon film about missionaries who, due to a mistaken identity plot so obvious that it would make the writers of Three's Company feel embarrassed, are mistaken for hitmen while trying to talk to 2 actual hitmen about The Book of Mormon. It tries to be funny- it's not. It tries to be suspenseful- it's not. It tries to have a feel-good surprise ending- it fails. This is the film that I feared Mobsters & Mormons would be. If looking for a funny, mob themed Mormon film, skip this and rent Mobsters & Mormons instead.

157- Sex Tape- Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel sleepwalk through this comedy, forgetting to be amusing. The plot makes no sense and, even if you turn your brain off and go with the plot, they literally do almost nothing with it! They pretty much forget what they are trying to do! Rob Lowe has an amazingly hilarious co-starring role and Ellie Kemper and Rob Corddry are funny but given very little to do in this misfire. A comedy should be funny. This is not.

156-Tammy- Just like Sex Tape, this comedy forgets to be funny or do anything interesting with its characters. I like Melissa McCarthy a lot. Susan sarandon is a great actress, but they are both stranded in this lifeless script that is neither funny nor dramatic. It tries to show, I think, that a cross-country dual generational road trip starring women can be just as tasteless and unfunny as similar films starring talented men (such as Robert Downey, Jr. and Zach Galifinakis in Due Date). If that was the goal, they succeeded.

155- Maleficent-  I know that many people love this film, but I just couldn't get on board. The cutting of the wings started the film with a whole rape-y vibe to me. Then, characters do things only because the script tells them to and not because a character would actually choose to do those things (I am the king and I love my daughter so much that I am going to give her to these fairies that I only met a few moments ago that I know nothing about and let them take my daughter to the area where the witch lives). I am also glad that metal hurts Maleficent so much that it weakens her to the point where she can't use her magic as a method of escape (oh, wait...) When I ask what people liked about this film, I am always told that Angelina Jolie was amazing in the scene wher e she curses the child- of course she is! She did exactly what was done 75 years ago in the animated film! This was a movie made to make money with no thought to plot or characters at all- and it made tons of it! Mark my words- in 10 years, very few people will think of this as a great film, as many people are stating that it is this tear.

154- Transformers- Age of Extinction-  And speaking of films made just for the sole purpose of making money and not for any point of telling a story... I walked into this with a very open mind, wiping clean my hatred of the previous 3 Transformers films and viewing it as a brand new film experience. It worked- for the first 45 minuttes. Then, I got numbed to the never ending pointless battles of CGI creatures fighting CGI creatures wuith nothing interesting happening. After I started to roll my eyes and get bored after the opening 45 minutes and looked at my watch and realized that there was still 2 hours of a film almost broke me. In working at the theater, I heard only 2 perople tell me that they liked it, everyone else said that it was boring, awful, bad, terrible, and yet everyone paid money to see it. I do not understand how this makes $245 million and Edge of Tomorrow only made $105 million. My suspicions have been confirmed by my wife- who loves the Transformers films- who watched the first hour and forty five minutes, turned it off and a few days later forgot that she had not actually finished the film. I must say, though, this was the best Dolby Atmos mix that I have ever heard!

153- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles- I do not have a horse in this race. I have enjoyed certain TMNT properties (I thought the first film was good and liked the original cartoon series well enough but have not found anything interesting about the Turtles in quite some time). I thought the mountain chase in this film was amazing (however, I know of no mountain like that within an hour's drive of downtown New York- let alone a mountain that has a direct sewer line to downtown New York) but the rest of the film was a bad, bad piece of filmmaking. script, acting, plot, characters, action scenes all were a big zero for me. Without the amazing mountain chase scene (which I almost  think came from a different movie), this could have been in my bottom of the barrel list. However, inexplicably, DVDs and Blu Rays of this film sold faster than any other film in 2014. I weep for the future of humanity....

152- Cesar Chavez- I have to wonder if there is a five hour director's cut of this film somewhere. What is here is very well done, but it seems like the film was edited with a chainsaw and I also wonder if I had no idea about the story of Cesar Chavez if I would have been able to follow the film at all. This film suffers from the same issues as last year's film, Jobs which starred Ashton Kutcher- the acting is top notch and it is well filmed and created but characters walk in and out of the film just for one or two scenes and then are never heard from again. Just as badly edited as #163 Believe, but this has  amuch better and deeper cast, has better cinematography and behind the scenes merits, it just barely skims the surface of the life of Chavez.

151- Transcendence- It says something when an amazing cast (Rebecca Hall, Johnny Depp, Kate Mara, Morgan Freeman, Paul Bettany) can't make the script for the film even intriguing or interesting. It also is a major mistake to show the ending of the film and then go back to show how the characters got to that point. For this film, it wipes out all tension. Very, very bland and uninteresting.

150- Quiet Ones- This horror film has an interesting concept, recording a girl who may be possessed but is undergoing a scientific experiment to try to coax the demon out, but does nothing with it. There is no tension built, no characters are created, no plot to speak of, just a bunch of "jump scares" of really loud sound coming at the audience.

149- Other Woman- Yet another Cameron Diaz "comedy" that gets its laughs mainly from co-star Leslie Mann and a couple of funny line readings by Kate Upton. Again, a great concept (a man's wife and his mistress become friends, find yet another mistress and plot revenge) goes nowhere and the lowest of the low fruit is grabbed for comedic purposes. Women who were looking for a "gilrs' night out'ovie flocked to this film. I am all for female-empowering comedies but I want them to be good.

148-Happy Christmas- It hurts me to put an Anna Kendrick film so far down the list, but the problem is, it just isn't good. Kendrick stars in this film from 'Drinking Buddies' (one of my top films of 2013), director Joe Swanberg that tells the story of a woman who moves in with her brother and his wife temporarily during the holidays so that she can get over her recent break-up. The film is improvised, and it shows. Scenes go nowhere, actors are stranded trying to find something interesting in the concept or scene, and the resolution is a quick "I'm sorry' and... Roll Credits! I should not get bored by an 82 minute film, starring one of my favorite actresses- yet I was.

147- Earth to Echo- A very low-rent 2014 found footage version of ET. I like that the ending is not "happily ever after" and there is one great sequence showing what the little alien can do (the semi truck scene ruined in the trailers) and the acting is good for what it is, but otherwise, there is nothing new in this film. Rewatch ET instead.

146- Dumb & Dumber To- The best joke of the film is in the title. There are a few other random jokes and visual gags which are done subtly and randomly (good luck in recognizing Bill Murray in his cameo) but otherwise this is a lazy, cheap sequel. The girl playing the daughter in the film is a breath of fresh air as she tries to eat her room service meal, and I love Jeff Daniels, but, wow- we waited 20 years for this?

145- And So It Goes- Michael Douglas is a grumpy old widow who must take care of his granddaughter while his son serves out a prison sentence. He lives next door to single Diane Keaton. Might his neighbor and granddaughter soften his heart by the end? What do you think? While it is very nice to see Douglas and Keaton together on screen in a romantic comedy for seniors, I just wish the script were up to snuff and gave these great actors something up to their talents.

144-Before I Go to Sleep- Nicole Kidman's version of Memento! A dramatic version of 50 First Dates! Nicole Kidman wakes up every morning with no memory of anything that happened before. Her husband, Colin Firth, is getting weary of explaining their life and the death of their child to her every day, but, Kidman finds a recorder hidden that may hold the key to the secret of her past. While it is intriguing in fits and starts, the "happy" ending makes no sense and is not in any way happy at all! Maybe the book on which this is based makes more sense, but this is a film that even Kidman and Firth will forget they were ever in within five years!

143- Hobbit- Battle of Five Armies- While this is the best of the 3 Hobbit films, I can't tell if it is because it truly is the best of them or if it is because it is the shortest of the Hobbit films, and has no CGI dishwashing/ singing party. This film again becomes a bunch of CGI creatures fighting a bunch of other CGI creatures, the wizard offers nothing ion the final battle, the title character of The Hobbit is only in the film for maybe 35 to 40 minutes, it all comes down to a bunch of stabbing- even with a very cool almost kill of using weight to topple an ice floe- do I need to continue?. These films were not made for me, I know that, but I am so glad that I no longer see any further trips to Middle Earth in the immediate future.

142- Single Moms Club- A good cast  (including Amy Smart, Nia Long, Wendi McLendon-Covey, and Terry Crews) are somehow upstaged by Tyler Perry the actor (first good role of the year) in this Tyler Perry directed film. A group of single moms bond and try to support each other in the day-to-day struggles of being a single mom. Easily my favorite Tyler Perry directed film (but that is very faint praise) this film again gives a "woman empowerment film" that is not that well-made and, for all the talk that these woman are full humans without a male in their lives, by the end iof the film, they are all paired up with males that make them whole again. Talk about a script that doesn't know what it wants to be!

141- Brick Mansions- Paul Walker's final finished film is this remake of the French film District B13 which brought parkour (free running) to the mass pop culture awareness. The original is a great, cheesy, action film that is amazing because the camera pulls back and lets us see the great stunts which are being performed. This version is over directed, way over edited making it impossible to enjoy the stunts for what they are and chopping up a simple story into an almost incoherent mess. There is still some fun to be had, but leave the camera in one spot for longer than 3/4 of a second, please!

140- Annabelle- This quickly and cheaply made "prequel" to last year's fabulous film The Conjuring feels like a quick and cheaply made prequel. It is not particularly bad, but it is not memorable or interesting either. The only thing that truly makes this film creepy at all is the Annabelle doll herself. She is still very creepy!

139- America- Imagine a World Without Her- While I liked this documentary, it sets up a very interesting concept (what if George Washington was killed in battle and America never existed) and then does nothing with that concept and takes on certain complaints that people have about America. It is very right wing leaning, but some great points are made, but it still smacks of preaching to the choir and is nowhere near as interesting as the opening suggests/

138- 300- Rise of an Empire-  Eva Green and Lena Headley are the reasons to see this film. Eva Green goes bat s^^^ crazy in this film and almost single-handedly saves it from being nothing but slow-motion CGI bloodied battles. If this film had no slow motion, it would be at least half an hour shorter. The Dolby Atmos sound was fun but there is nothing here that was not done in the original 300- except for Eva Green's scenery chewing performance.

137- Sin City- A Dame to Kill For-  Speaking of films that have nothing new that was not in their original, and that also star Eva Green in a spectacular scenery chewing performance, Sin City 2 is Exhibit B. While the individual stories are generally interesting, every single one ends not so much with a punch but with a whimper. None of the endings are interesting or do anything with the characters. The visuyal effects are more of the same, so there is nothing to see here that is interesting, inventive, or challenging in any way.

136- Penguins of Madagascar- I know that this is supposed to just be a "kids film" but I demand better entertainment for all the underserved groups of the moviegoing public. The story is uninteresting, the jokes lame, and the animation is fine, but why is this the standard for kids fare? It wasnt badly offensive, but it was quite bland and boring.

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