Saturday, September 10, 2016

First Time Watches: August 2016

Another month, another bunch of first time watches.  I begin each of these posts with something like that.  It’s a true statement, and a failsafe starter to the one sided conversation being presented.  I watch a lot of movies, though not as many as some people.  I’m not a one a day sort of person.  But I watch 20+ movies a month most times.  That leaves me somewhere around 15 new to me movies.

August 2016 didn’t quite hit that 15 movie mark.  After a slow start, I managed to get up to 14 initial viewings.  Four of them were for my other blog and three were for reviews.  The other ones were Netflix or blu-ray viewings as I tried to catch up on a few movies I had meant to watch.  Oh, there was one DVD as well.

This post will cover all fourteen first time watches as I leave a log of how I feel about each of them.  What movies did I watch in August?  There’s a movie about a doll that may or may not be alive.  There’s a movie about a video game that invaded reality.  One of the movies involved an apple and another involved real estate.  There was a death in a family and some aerobics.  A man was lost in Mexico, and another was raised as a poor black child.  Fourteen different movies with fourteen different stories to be told.  Here are my thoughts.
The Jerk
Somehow, this highly regarded comedy slipped by me.  I haven’t seen too much Steve Martin from before 1990.  It’s kind of strange because I like comedy.  It’s one of my two favourite genres.  It was only a matter of time before I watched some of his older, classic movies instead of newer stuff like Pink Panther, Cheaper By the Dozen, and Bringing Down the House.  The Jerk sure was something.  It felt like a series of short films strung together by a wacky performance.  I enjoyed it.  It was farce done as well as farce could be done.
The Big Short
It was nice to see Adam McKay branch out from his usual Will Ferrell comedy and do something a little more serious.  He did a slightly comedic take on the real estate and financial crisis of 2007 and turned it into a fascinating, entertaining movie.  It worked to bring light to a subject that people know about while knowing nothing about.  The movie should be seen by everyone.  It’s an important lesson in recent American history and could help people to understand similar crises that may happen in the future.
Cat in the Brain
Lucio Fulci went full meta with this movie, taking a look at his own career.  It referenced movies he made as well as his overall style.  He placed himself as a character in one of his own movies.  My only problem is that I haven’t seen any of his other movies.  I probably would have had a better connection with Cat in the Brain if I had a history of Fulci films that I could recall.  Though enjoyable, that could have made it more enjoyable.  I regret having it be the first of his movies I’ve seen.
Girl in Woods
I’m not a huge fan of movies set in the woods.  Only a few succeed in being scary.  The lack of varying locations, and the lost in the woods story that usually comes along with the setting make what would be an average, meh experience into something that grates on me.  The title of this movie gives away its setting and, like with most movies of this type, I didn’t like it.  The majority of the time was spent with one character slowly going crazy while wandering through the woods.  She gave three performances as her personality split into three distinct forms.  Only one personality was decently acted with the other two feeling unrealistic.  I’ll never revisit this and probably won’t ever think about it again.
The title fits the subject matter, but the movie is far from perfect.  The editing was bad.  The writing was bad.  There were extended aerobics scenes that could have been trimmed down to shave five or ten minutes off the runtime.  The only thing that I actually liked was a song by Berlin that played over one of the many workout montages.  If you want to see John Travolta hip thrust his junk through a five minute aerobics scene, check this out.  Otherwise, it’s not worth the time.
This is Where I Leave You
Not much has really been said about this movie.  It came out, some people saw it, and everyone moved on.  That’s what happened.  There was no good buzz and no bad buzz.  It just was.  I had been meaning to see it for some time.  The cast is one that I tend to enjoy, and they were the reason I wanted to see it.  They were all good.  From Jason Bateman to Tina Fey to Adam Driver to Corey Stoll to Jane Fonda to Timothy Olyphant to Kathryn Hahn to Rose Byrne to Connie Britton to Dax Shepard to Ben Schwartz, everyone brought their own to the movie and made it both sad, heartwarming, and funny.  I fell in love with this movie quickly.  I bought it on blu-ray a couple days after seeing it.  It was great.
Beta Test
When it comes to video game movies that aren’t about any specific game in particular, one that comes to mind is Gamer.  It’s about convicts being the avatars for people as they play a Call of Duty style game.  Beta Test has a similar concept, except the game is more like Grand Theft Auto and there are no convicts.  A player who has not gone outside in years was tasked with playing a beta test of this new game, only to realize that his avatar was a real person.  He began working with his avatar to take down the person causing all this harm.  I thought it was fun, even if it wasn’t the most well-made movie.  The concept worked.  There were some weird shifting stances on gun control, but the action was fun and the story was a good ride.
Search Party
This was another movie that I watched because of the cast.  It didn’t fare as well as This is Where I Leave You.  I should have known better, since it says on the case “From one of the guys who wrote The Hangover.”  Tags like that rarely lead to a good movie.  It was okay.  There were funny moments, and the cast had good chemistry.  But a lot of the humor fell flat.  There were a few groans.  There was a lot of Thomas Middleditch being naked for no reason.  I don’t regret watching it.  I just wish it was better.  I feel like I say that about at least one movie a month.
The Apple
Everyone should experience this movie.  It was an insane Adam and Eve story set in the rock and roll world of future 1994.  The good guys sang folksy love songs.  The bad guys sang rock/disco songs, mostly about themselves and their evil doings.  People wore triangle stickers.  There was a disco song that was entirely single entendres about sex.  They weren’t even subtle about it.  And the ending… That ending comes out of nowhere and changes the entire movie.  You’re left wondering what the hell just happened.  You NEED to see The Apple as soon as you can.
Death Walks
The people behind this movie claimed that it was made for zero money.  They said that everything, from the equipment to the performances to the location, was donated.  For a movie that had no money put into it, Death Walks is pretty good.  It’s a zombie kind of story about a bunch of people trapped in a mall while diseased people stalk the hallways.  None of the characters are memorable.  Yet, between the visual beats and the decent pacing, this movie avoided being boring.  Not a great movie, but it was pretty great for something made with no money.
V/H/S: Viral
Horror is filled with anthologies, and one of the more recent franchises in the horror anthology world is the VHS franchise.  I had meant to watch the third installment for a while.  I was disappointed.  There were three segments and a wraparound.  Only one of the segments was good.  They’re all memorable, but there was only one that I enjoyed.  The Nacho Vigalondo segment was well made, though needlessly weird in its sexuality.  If the whole movie was just that segment on its own, I would love it.  With the other three, I’m left feeling like the movie was a waste.  That’s depressing since the other two movies were much more entertaining.
Hamburger: The Motion Picture
Is it funny?  Is it sexy?  No and no.  But it is a quintessentially 80s movie that came out of the sex comedy world.  There are a lot of problems with Hamburger: The Motion Picture.  Yet it was still memorable and I’ll be thinking about it for a long time.  I’ll be thinking about the guy who was fused with a chicken, and I’ll be thinking about the weird church based around fast food.  I’ll remember the character who tried to escape the school the whole time, and I’ll remember that a nun wanted to become a fast food manager.  It was a weird movie.
John Wick
For two years, I heard about how great this was.  It was supposed to be this great, emotional action movie.  I didn’t get quite that experience.  Visually, John Wick is fantastic.  Few action movies look so clean while showing such dirty action.  People are falling and dying while blood is flying out of holes in their bodies, but the action looks clean and concise.  It’s fantastic.  The thing I didn’t get was the emotion.  There was some of that in there, but the movie’s story was fairly standard.  It was the same action story you’ve seen many times before.  Oh well.  Still a good movie.
The Boy
Lauren Cohan got her own movie.  Most of it was fairly good.  A doll that moved when you weren’t looking, and did stuff behind your back to creep you out.  That’s a pretty solid horror idea that has been done before.  This outing of that story concept was solid with a third act that upped the threats in a great way.  It’s not a classic horror movie, but could be something to watch if you need a horror movie for the night.

With that, another month comes to a close (and another post ends with that line).  It was a solid month with movies that I may end up watching a few more times.  I had some good times, and I’m hoping for more in September.  I’ve already seen The Forest, Anatomy of a Murder, and Redneck County Fever, so I’m going to have some interesting stuff to say come this time next month.  I can’t guarantee that there will be a lot of movies.  I’m in school now and my movie watching time will likely go down as I get homework and assignments.  I’ll try to sneak a few in.  See you next month.

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