Tuesday, October 24, 2017

First Time Watches: August 2017

Welcome back to my First Time Watches blog series where I write about the movies I see in a month for the first time.  This post allows me to think back on what I thought of the movies, and give a little bit of insight into whether or not I liked them.  It lets you, the readers, get to know me a little bit.  It also allows me, the writer, to remember how I feel about a movie if I ever decide to rewatch it.

This specific post will cover all of the stuff that I watched in August of 2017.  There were fourteen movies that I saw for the first time, ranging through a broad variety of genres and stories.  There was horror.  There was the fifth installment of a ridiculous franchise.  There was a documentary about a popular actor.  There was even a movie with four Michael Keatons.  It was an interesting month and one that won’t soon be forgotten.  How about I get to the movies, though?  That’s what we’re here for, isn’t it?

Two of the world’s biggest stars were put together in a science fiction romantic comedy action thriller that was as interesting as it was off-putting.  Two people, on a space station headed towards a new world, awoke early amidst a failure in the shuttle system.  There’s an underlying creepiness to Chris Pratt’s character due to his pining for Jennifer Lawrence.  Some viewers might not like that since the darker side of what he did was never really explored.  I kind of liked the movie though.

Sex, Lies, and Videotape
This viewing was a long time coming.  Soderbergh is a respected director who I haven’t seen as much of as I should have.  His first movie was well directed and acted, but the story lost me partway through.  Not as in an inability to understand what was going on.  It just didn’t keep my interest.  Maybe I’ll go back to it in a few years and connect with it more.

Sharknado 5: Global Swarming
As long as they keep making Sharknado movies, I will keep watching them.  The first one wasn’t good but I’ve liked every sequel to varying degrees.  This one took the sharknado threat to a new level by adding teleportation into the mix.  It brought back Nova, a character who is always a welcome addition.  And the ending.  That was a dark yet promising place to leave off.  Though not the best of the Sharknado series, the fifth outing was still some solid fun.  It brought in a song by The Offspring and had a Bret Michaels guitar solo.  The only misstep was a line about making America great again.

Don’t Breathe
Some of the most interesting horror comes from filmmakers that do something unique with an idea that has been done time and time again.  Cabin in the Woods deconstructed that entire style of horror.  Hush made a home invasion movie with a deaf victim.  Don’t Breathe had a “trapped in a house with a monster” story where the monster was a blind veteran with dark secrets.  It was a movie that did a lot with the visuals and sound editing.  A lot of work went into it and I respect that.

Remote Control
Meta humour in movies wouldn’t be big until the 1990s, so Remote Control was a couple years ahead of its time.  It was an on-the-nose throwback to 1950s science fiction in a 1980s sci-fi horror world.  There were three layers to the meta themes, with Remote Control featuring a movie named Remote Control where people watched a movie named Remote Control.  It was a fun, albeit ridiculous, movie.  It’s sad that not a lot of people talk about it because it deserves a much bigger fan base.

Michael Keaton is a great actor.  He is good in dramas and comedies.  He is also great at portraying four versions of one character, each with fully formed personalities.  Not a lot of actors could do that in one movie.  He was playing off of his own performances to hold conversations with the two, three, or four of himself in a scene.  The comedy worked great, making this one of my favourite watches of the month.

I Needed Color
This five minute documentary short came out of nowhere and took the internet by storm.  It gave insight into what Jim Carrey has been doing outside of acting for the past few years.  He became a fantastic painter, letting his emotions flow through the imagery on his canvas.  I don’t think I would watch a feature film of this.  In its short form, however, it was wonderful and touching.

Chicks with Sticks
There are certain movies that, to the core, feel Canadian.  The subject matter, the people involved, or even the look help to make them capture that Canadian mentality.  This was one of those movies.  It was about a women’s hockey team going up against a men’s team to prove that the men weren’t unquestionably better than them.  That’s a Canadian story if I’ve ever heard one.  Add in the amateur rink, the radio DJ, and the Alberta setting and you have pure Canadiana.  The movie itself wasn’t great.  It was okay.  It was watchable.  I wouldn’t recommend it.  I also wouldn’t tell people to stay away.

6 Guns
The Asylum is known for their bad knockoffs of popular movies and their animal attack flicks.  What they are not well known for is westerns.  6 Guns was directed by The Asylum regular Shane Van Dyke.  It was a solid story of western revenge as a woman fought back against the man who killed her family.  There’s nothing particularly wrong with it but also nothing exceptional.  It was a passable movie that wouldn’t be poorly placed in the background while doing something else.

The Belko Experiment
The cover features the line “Office Space meets Battle Royale.”  The only way that it’s like Office Space is that it was set in an office building.  The rest is purely Battle Royale, from the story to the character types.  It had the added humour of a James Gunn Script and many great supporting actors from other things getting their chance to shine.  There was entertainment to be had the whole way through.

Asylums have a large inspiration on horror because of the horrific things that happen in them.  The patients of asylums are considered insane and the thought of them escaping to cause harm to the public can strike fear in audiences.  Blackburn took the idea of an asylum and created some interesting villains out of it.  The looks of the villains were great.  The problem was that everything else about the movie was bland and by the books.  A group of friends got trapped in the wilderness and stumbled upon a mine that some asylum patients were in.  Fairly standard horror.

Jonah Hex
From the writing of Neveldine/Taylor and the direction of Jimmy Hayward came a movie about an undead bounty hunter getting revenge on the man who killed him.  It was an interesting blend of western, action, and supernatural elements that never really stuck its landing.  It tried to be too much and ended up losing itself.  There were some interesting scenes, though.  I thought it was worth seeing once.

Baby Geniuses and the Mystery of the Crown Jewels
Why did they make more of these?  This is the first of three Baby Geniuses movies to be a compilation of four episodes from a television series that was produced.  It was garbage.  The acting was bad, the story was repetitive, and they overused greenscreen.  The fact that two more came after it only made it hurt more because it was arguably the worst one.

Baby Geniuses and the Treasures of Egypt
This was very much the same as what came before it, with two major differences.  It wasn’t quite as repetitive.  The routine was broken when part of the story was a heist instead of the aftermath.  The other difference was that Jon Voight got a lot more racist by disguising himself as both an Egyptian character and a Chinese character.  The movie was as terrible as the one before it.

The month was wrapped up with two sequels to Baby Geniuses.  It ended on a low note.  That said, there were some good movies that I’m sure to revisit.  I enjoyed watching movies in August.  It was mostly a good month.  Outside of the first time watches, I rewatched some movies I highly enjoy.  This is a first time watches post, though, and I’d say they were mostly good.

September will be another month with some interesting first time watches.  It’s halfway through the month as I’m writing this paragraph (almost through October when posting, woops), and I’ve seen movies like It, Around the World in 80 Days, and For Your Consideration.  There are even more.  You’ll have to come back in a month to see what they are.  Until then, keep on watching movies, guys.

Oh yeah, I have some notes before I head out.  Let’s start with my personal plugs.  I write the Sunday “Bad” Movies blog every week.  I pick a bad movie, watch it, and write about it.  There’s also a series of blog posts that I write about Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.  Moving on, I’ve got a friend named Jaime Burchardt who wrote about Little Evil back in mid-September.  And finally, Talk Film Society is always producing some great writing.  Check out this post on My Bloody Valentine by Matt Curione.  Maybe check the rest of their site too.  Thanks for reading, everyone.

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