Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year, New Me - 2017 Edition

Happy New Year, everyone! Hopefully everyone had a safe but fun last night of 2016; now it's time to get down to some business. As you know, I didn't bother making goals at the beginning of last year because I knew I would end up breaking them early on. This probably begs the question, why on Earth would I bother this year if I already know I'm going to break them? Well, for starters I need some order in my life, living a spontaneous lifestyle day by day may be exciting but can be more stressful.

#1. Watch 365 movies and write 52 reviews.
That equals one movie watched per day and one movie review per week. I ended up watching just shy of 250 movies last year. Of that, I only ended up reviewing or re-reviewing 28 movies. For a film journal, those numbers are pretty pathetic, 2017 will be a rebuilding year for Film Crazy!

#2. Cycle 7,300 miles, and drop 20 pounds.
Ever since I first learned how to ride a two wheeler, I've been unstoppable. Well, until I got my driver's license at 16. Cycling is not only a good source of cardio exercise, but for me it's also very relaxing after a stressful day at work. Unfortunately last year with family obligations and lots of overtime at work I didn't ride as much as I wanted, this year, regardless of how stressful life gets I'm making time to ride an average of 20 miles a day. I would also like to drop another pant size, but I know it's not going to happen overnight or from simply riding my bike, so I'll committing to no fast food in 2017.

#3. Read a new book a month. 
I used to love to read, but in all honesty I can't remember the last time I read an entire book. Right now I only have two novels picked out, both of the mystery/suspense genre, feel free to recommend one or two in the comments below. At this time, I'm not planning to write any full length book reviews but this may change in the future.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Green is Gold (2016)

Directed by: Ryon Baxter
Starring: Derek W. Adam, Jimmy Baxter, Ryon Baxter

From the outside looking in Mason (Jimmy Baxter) may appear to be ordinary teenager, living an average lifestyle. What you may not know about him however, is what his family background is like. After his drug dealing father is sent to prison, he is forced to go to live with his older brother, Cameron, who is a career supplier of marijuana. Everything seems alright from the start, Cameron (Ryon Baxter) figures it'll be simple enough to take care of his younger brother and even teach him some tricks of the trade.

If you're like me, you've probably never heard of this film until now. I just happened to come across it at Redbox whilst looking for something lesser known to check out with a free credit I had. Reading the synopsis and watching the trailer, I could immediately tell this wasn't going to be an Oscar, but I was fine with that as I've been pleasantly surprised with movies like these in the past, The Brass Teapot (2012) comes to mind, so I gave it a shot. Upon starting it I could tell I was in for a rude awakening, for starters there were no premise to what happened to Mason's parents, we can only assume from the later phone calls that he was arrested for drug dealing. I could live with that missing minor detail, however I almost gave up after twenty minutes of shaky-camera-vision and obvious cue card acting from our main characters. Really, this is 2016, and this film seemed to be shot using a early millennium Motorola cell phone. Not being fully aware of the film crew I won't be too quick to judge their acting abilities, after all I'm sure big time directors like Spielberg and Scorsese weresn't perfect their first time out. One important thing I watch movies for is the story, this one had the potential to be big, but fell way short. The plot was choppy, the ending was pointless and generally the whole screenplay seemed like it was written by a ten year old writing a school play.

Rating: 1/5
Overall: I'd steer far away from this one unless you truly want to watch crap. My recommendation if you're really interested in this, just watch the less than two minute trailer below, it basically covers the entire film. The fact that this gets a 7/10 rating on IMDb really makes me wonder what kind of audience is on that site.

A Year in Cinema: 2016

So here we are, at the end of another year. A rather sad year for movies in my opinion, then again any year I watch less than 400 movies is a bad year in my book. Nonetheless, despite work and family obligations I did venture out to the theater 21 times this year and watched over 217 movies combined, with 62 of them being first time viewings.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The BFG (2016)

Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Penelope Wilton, Rebecca Hall, Bill Hader

A Big Freaking Guy, yep.

Little orphan Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) is an insomniac, never having the opportunity to dream and as an orphan always looking for an adventure. One night unlike the rest, she was up roaming around the orphanage, staring out the window when she spots something unusual, the Big Friendly Giant (Mark Rylance). While initially she's scared of the Giant, she quickly learns there's more to him than just being monstrous and talking funny; he's actually quite sweet and just wants her to feel comfortable being around him. After all, the Big Friendly Giant feels as if he can’t let her go back to the real world, where she’ll most definitely be going on and on about the Giant, making everyone suspicious and worried about its actual whereabouts. For a short while, Sophie and the BFG seem to get along just fine, that is until word gets out in Giant country and his fellow, meaner giants like Bloodbottler, Fleshlumpeater and others, start sniffing around for something new to eat, giving Sophie and the BFG a challenge on how to stop these meaner giants once and for all.

This feature was brought to us by, in the humble opinion of this editor, the best filmmaker ever-Steven Spielberg. Spielberg's at the point of his career where he really doesn't have to try to please anyone, he's pretty much done a bit of anything and everything. He's done it all, and for now it seems Spielberg is oging to do what he wants, when he wants to, and how he wants to do it. With Disney picking up the tab, it should be an interesting result, right?

Well, yes it does, interesting being the key word. After watching The BFG, I'm reminded just what Spielberg is capable of doing: Taking any story, no matter how weird or realistic, compelling to watch.

The first act of The BFG is rather exciting because it's different then what we're used to seeing from a kid-approved Disney movie, where rather than concentrate on the visual effects and the like, Spielberg decides to take it slow so that we can connect with the chemistry between our characters a bit. It all works out too, because Rylance and Barnhill are both perfect for their respective roles.

Of course, the BFG isn't a perfect movie, as we can expect from the latter of Spielberg's work. He spends more time getting us to connect with the characters that I feel he neglects the actual story line, until, well it's too late. With a running length of just under two hours, it's a bit long for a children's movie but as I've said in the past, most any movie is worth sticking out to the end regardless (just good luck convincing that to a kid, who would have likely gave up on this one after the first 30 minutes).

RATING: 7/10; It's a good movie, although leaves a lot to be granted in the story department. A kid, whom I would think would look forward to this movie the most, would likely not make it past the thirty minute mark.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)

Directed by: John Hughes
Starring: John Candy, Steve Martin

So here we are, Thanksgiving Day in America, and what better way to celebrate than with a traditional viewing of one of John Hughes' best! Planes, Trains & Automobiles is about a man, Neil Page (Steve Martin) who is trying to make it to his suburbia home in Chicago. Along the way he meets this obnoxious salesman, Dell Griffith played by none other than the comic genius John Candy.

You never know what the holidays may bring, for Neil all he wanted to do was make it home for Thanksgiving dinner. Dell, however had no body to spend the holidays with, after losing his late wife and taking to the road.

For many years I avoided this film because I thought it was going to be just another road trip flick. I was pleasantly surprised, yes they're on a road trip, but also includes so much dramatic, emotional and truthful subtext. This has since turned into one of my favorite holiday comedies.

RATING: 9/10