Sunday, January 24, 2016

Talkin' Films 2015

Star Crash is a 1978 space opera direct by Luigi Cozzi  that was more or less a Star Wars ripoff.  This film is a low budget film, make no bones about that.  But if watching these type movies are a part of your movie watching diet you might find it fun escapism, just don't expect 2001: A Space Odyssey.  As it misses that mark by a few light years.   However if Godzilla films, Death Race 2000, Galaxy of Terror, Humanoids of the Deep, Grizzly, C.H.U.D., Xtro, The Deadly Spawn, TerrorVision, Maniac Cop, Night of the Creeps, etc. are films you occasionally enjoy watching, then I think you might enjoy it as well.   John Barry actually does the soundtrack for the film too.

While reading a few things about this film I ran into this interview with director Luigi Cozzi over on the ShoutFactory TV site, wherein he talks about having written the script for Star Crash before having seen the original Star Wars.   Ah, those were the days...

At any rate if interested in watching the interview, follow this link. 

Switching gears, every year it seems that whenever the new Academy Award nominations come out you always hear grumbling comments about how bad the movies have gotten over the years.   I'm sure you've heard some of them:  too many sequels, too many remakes, too many comic book movies, too many teenager films, etc.  Sure there are those, and to be honest I grumble some myself, but they still make some interesting films too.  I personally still enjoy watching the Academy Awards.  I don't always agree with what they pick as the year's best film or actor performances, or with some of their other nominations, but I do enjoy watching the ceremony because I enjoy films.  Sure some years are better than others, and sometimes better films are made over other years.

I had a lot of fun watching some movies this past year, and particularly had fun watching Mad Max: Fury Road, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  I generally run behind in my movie watching experience as I just don't get out to see the newer releases.  I just as soon sit at home and watch them on DVD these days.  I've got Netflix and that has allowed watching movies at home and the experience has become a lot better and easier for film fans.  Looking over some of the movies I watched this past year has revealed that indeed there are still good movies out there for those interested enough to search for them.  I'll list some of them below that I saw this past year though it's not a full list of everything I saw, and as I said, I have not seen all the new releases of 2015 either.

I saw these movies the past year: 

 Bronson--The past week I saw this for the first time, and enjoyed it more than I thought I would.  The director seemed influence by Stanley Kubrick to me.  Perhaps it might have been that it or the main actor (Tom Hardy) was British.  Also the way the director, Nicolas Winding Refn, framed certain scenes or sequences or used humor, whether intentionally or unintentionally, reminded me of Kubrick, particularly his, A Clockwork Orange.   It was about one of Britain's more notorious criminals.  It also gave me a lot to think about.  For instance, I wondered what the motivation for Bronson (or any criminal) was.  Are they just deviants, sociopaths, outcasts, and amoral people?  Why do they act the way they do?

Going Clear--Is a documentary on Scientology, sometimes reality is stranger than fiction.  If you've ever been curious about the ahem, religion, check it out.

Love & Mercy--I wasn't totally won over by this biopic film about Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys.  Though I love the Beach Boy's music.   I think some of that stems from the fact that I already knew quite a bit about their history.  I also don't know that the splitting of Brian's life into two timelines and having that played by two different actors worked for me totally,  however, both actors, Dano and Cusack did a good job as well as, Elizabeth Banks. 

Submarine--Was a fairly quirky independent film about the growing pains of adolescents.

The Theory of Everything--biopic film on Stephen Hawking.  I already knew some things about Hawking life, but still I thought this was a pretty heartfelt drama. 

Kingsman: The Secret Service--another quirky film that was a mixture of comedy and a spoof of spy films.  This film could have turned into a big flop in so many ways, but I think it turned out pretty well.

Dark Star: H R Giger's World--documentary on the Swiss surrealist and painter that inspired the Alien film and franchise.  It was his dark vision that helped influence the success of that film and franchise. 

History of the Eagles--Is a two-disc on the history of the country rock band out of California.  Yes, I used to enjoy their music along with many other fans.  If you are a fan, you should check it out.

The Wrecking Crew--doc on the behind the scene studio musicians who "were" the band in many cases.  Who knew?  They played back-up on so many groups and albums of that time period.

Ex Machina--SF film on artificial intelligence.  It gave me something to think about afterwards, which is always appreciated.

Chappie--I had low expectations of this one, but I actually enjoyed it.  I laughed a few times, and although I don't care for rap or hip hop culture, somehow it worked for me.  I know some loathed this film. 

Imitation Game--I loved this one, about how Alan Turning cracked the German code in WWII.  A great character sketch played by Benedict Cumberbatch.  Good performances all around.

Mr. Turner--My first impression (no pun) on watching this the first time around wasn't very high, but I watched it again the next day and enjoyed it quite a bit.  It's worth watching.

The Babadook--rarely do horror films do much for me these days, but I enjoyed this one.

Interstellar--It was not 2001, not that I was expecting that,  but I did enjoyed the stories and visuals. 

Birdman--unusual experience, but not exactly my cup of tea.

Boyhood--enjoyed this one quite a bit.  Pretty amazing backstory on how it was created, but the story itself was interesting too.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes--I was an apes fan back when I was younger, and I still am.  Pretty rockin'.

John Wick--pretty fun action film.

Jack Reacher--I enjoyed it better than Wick, but both are worth a watch.  Bonus trivia: Reacher drove a 1970s Chevy Chevelle SS in the film (among other cars), which my brother used to drive that model of car too.

Gone Girl--whodunit type mystery that was handled pretty well.

Beware Mr. Baker--A documentary on Ginger Baker who was the drummer for Cream, and many other bands.  Parts of this film will take you aback and go, what?? or it did me anyway.  Funny and sad in parts.

Finding Vivian Maier--documentary on photographer Vivian Maier, who was not a professional photographer.  She was a nanny by trade, but photography became her means as escapism and hobby.  That aside it made for an engrossing tale.

Life Itself--doc on Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times movie critic.  I always enjoyed watching Siskel & Ebert on TV.  Their appreciation for film helped me develop my own appreciation, along with many other people I would imagine.

The Homesman--Is a pretty well made western that had some some odd things thrown in the mix, which made me wonder what the director was trying to say at times about the nature of life.  Perhaps it is that life is random. 

St. Vincent--A comedy about a curmudgeonly neighbor played by Bill Murry who befriends a young boy next door to him.  Fun film.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation--I saw this one this past week too.  I still enjoy the franchise.  There are a lot of twist and turns in this one.  I revisited the whole MI franchise this past year actually, and I still think Ghost Protocol is the one I enjoy best, but they're all pretty fun. 


At 3:52 PM, Blogger Richard Bellush said...

Yes, as TVs have improved and choice has expanded, home viewing has become the default option, though I still like the big screen occasionally. I’ve seen just a baker’s dozen of the films on that list, but I liked the ones I did see – “Birdman” perhaps more than you. Mark Millar – also responsible (with John Romita) for “Kick-Ass” – achieved the difficult balance of self-referential humor with a standalone action tale in his comic "The Secret Service" and the even more difficult task of making it work on screen in “Kingsman: the Secret Service.”

At 10:44 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

It's a noninclusive list as I didn't include all the films I saw either due to lack of memory or some other criteria. Some might have fallen in the guilty pleasure range. The past year I know I saw Roadhouse, along with a bunch of Godzilla flicks. At one time I was keeping a list of everything I saw, but over the course of time, I'd forget to jot something down or get involved in something and forget to add it.

Oh I remember I also saw Best of Enemies, should have been on that list. I didn't include the TV series either. That last season of Fargo was excellent. I forgot to include the documentary, I Dream of Wires, about the history of synthesizers. I also enjoyed the documentary, Trek Nation, which was about Gene Roddenberry. There was a good documentary on Bob Weir, guitarist for the Grateful Dead, I saw too, called The Other One: The Long Strange Trip of Bob Weir, and another light documentary on video games I enjoyed called Video Games: The Movie, which was interesting. Still, I know I'm leaving out a few things. :)

At 10:03 PM, Blogger Roman J. Martel said...

Ah man I wrote a nice long comment and the page crashed on me. :(

Anyway, you caught a lot of good ones this year. "Interstellar" and "Ex Machina" are two that I need to write about on my blog. I enjoyed both and they both made me think after they were done. I also dig the "Mission: Impossible" series. I think the first one is still my favorite (closest in feel to the television series) but "Ghost Protocol" is a ton of fun. Looking forward to seeing the new one.

And yeah, "Starcrash" is so damn silly and fun.

At 12:18 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

Roman--I hate it when that happens too--you put a lot of heart and soul into it and about the time you're wrapping it up, bingo. Crash! It can be a real soul crusher. Sorry that happened.

I'll be looking for your Interstellar and Ex Machina reviews if you decide to write them. Speaking of Starcrash, I saw a movie tonight that might rival it in cheesy terms, however, I think it was intentionally done that way to have sort of a straight to VHS video vibe. Though I haven't read anything about the film yet, which by the way was called Turbo Kid (of all things), I plan on looking up something about the film later this week. I will warn readers: This film had more cheese than Wisconsin!

I saw another cool documentary tonight too. Maybe more on that later as well.


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