Archives for posts with tag: Neighbors

I saw 114 different films in theatres in 2014, and that means that I had a lot to pick from. I did a lot of soul searching and I can safely say these are my top ten and bottom five films of the year, feel free to let me know your thoughts

First let’s start with my Top Ten

10. The Homesman
Seen 11/30/2014 with Dayle Decker

I had a very difficult time deciding on my top ten films this year. 2014 had no shortage of great films and as you can see I saw a healthy amount of them. While my top three films were very easy to identify, after that point I found I had to deeply examine each film I saw to see if it was worthy of being put up on the list. This rigorous process is how “The Homesman” just squeaked in at number ten. The acting in the film was phenomenal, as was the story, the editing, the sound, without question “The Homesman” is a well made movie. Unfortunately, it’s just not very interesting, it moves at a very deliberate pace, and large portions of it are dedicated to watching the protagonists slowly and silently cross the untamed wilderness of the old west. Despite all of this I still found myself enjoying everything that happened up on the screen, though it wasn’t until after the film had ended that I realized the profound effect it had on me. Sitting in my chair watching the credits roll, I heard the group of people behind me start to complain about what had happened in the film, how it was boring, and that Hilary Swank’s action near the end of the film didn’t hue in line with her character for the rest of the film. In that moment hearing these cretins miss the entire point of the film I began to weep uncontrollably. I just couldn’t help myself, I felt like the entire story had been for nothing and in that moment I was overcome with emotion on behalf of her character. The fact that the film had such an emotional effect on me is why I call “The Homesman” the tenth best film of the year in my opinion.

9. Top Five
Seen 12/27/2014 with Dayle Decker

I feel like I always end up with a film on my list from the last few days of the year, forcing me to pause and consider if it only made it onto my list because it is fresh in my mind. With “Top Five” though, the truth was easy to find, especially when you consider that since seeing it last Saturday, I have gone onto see four more films. “Top Five” makes it onto the list because as I was watching it, I knew that it would be one of those movies that I would always be suckered into watching if I stumble across it whilst flipping through the channels. It probably helps that it was a very well written film championing one of my favorite methods of storytelling, two people just walking around and talking. “Top Five” was so enjoyable to me that I know it will be something I will be watching with my parents as soon as the possibility arises and thus I have put an embargo on quoting the film so as not to ruin anything for them when that day comes.

8. Labor Day
Seen 2/15/2014

I tend to avoid other top ten lists before constructing my own, but since I raved about this film when it was named one of the worst films of 2014 by a few publications people felt it was necessary to bring that to my attention. Still I want to stick by my first instinct that this was the first film I saw this year that I knew would be a contender for my top ten. While the story may have been a bit cliché, the raw emotion that I felt for the characters on the screen still stays with me and even now as I write about the film again ten months later I am reminded of pain which I felt for Kate Winslet when she admitted to Josh Brolin why her husband had left her. This is a film I want to share with so many people and I hope that the negative buzz it received doesn’t turn people off to viewing it. In the interest of full disclosure this is the first movie I saw in the theatre completely alone, and that life changing experience of having the room completely to myself may have had an effect for this film being as enjoyable to me as it was.

7. The Drop
Seen 9/29/2014

Speaking of films in which I was the only audience member, my seventh best film this year also has the honor of falling into that category. I was initially wary of seeing this film, the final swan song of the deceased James Gandolfini, because of how much of a disappointment I found last year’s film “Enough Said.” While this was a much better film in general, and another great performance by Gandolfini, the true shining star for me was Tom Hardy. Before seeing “The Drop” I really only knew Mr. Hardy from his time behind a mask as Bane, but watching him in this film gave me a deep respect for the man as an actor. In addition to fantastic performances by the entire cast and a truly compelling story, one of the strongest aspects of “The Drop” was the setting. You just felt the weight that this world put upon the actors in every single shot. The amount of immersion present in this film helped to enhance the entire experience and when they finally reveal the truth that has been just outside your reach all film it hits you as an audience member just as hard as it hits the characters in the film.

6. Begin Again
Seen 7/23/2014 with Dayle Decker and Dorothy Decker

I saw a lot of movies that featured Kiera Knightley this year. In addition to this, “The Imitation Game,” and “Laggies,” I also for the first time experienced the magic that is “Bend It Like Beckham.” This exposure to Kiera’s work made me realize just what a phenomenal actor she is. I never really thought of her as anything more than Elizabeth Swann from Pirates and that girl who that guy is in love with in “Love Actually.” I originally wanted to see “Begin Again” just for Mark Ruffalo, but it was his performance coupled with the work of Ms. Knightley that elevated this film to have a spot on my top ten. Additional kudos must be given for Mark and Kiera not winding up romantically entangled, I’m a huge fan of a love story not being a requirement for an enjoyable film.

5. Hercules
Seen 7/24/2014 with Kevin Thibault and Sejohn Serowik

It wasn’t until just now that I realized I saw my number five and number six films of the year back to back. Perhaps there was something going extremely well that week and it made those movies that much more memorable and enjoyable, but in truth it’s probably just a huge coincidence that things shook out that way. “Hercules” is one of two films made this year that tried to tell us a brand new story featuring the Greek alternative to Jesus, while the first was mired in mythology, this second film decided to ground itself in realism. This new take on “Hercules” is probably why I rank the film highly on my list of the best films of 2014. From the very beginning we as an audience learn that Hercules isn’t just a man, but a legend propagated by a group of several heroes with the titular character acting as the figurehead. The way that the film found a way to ground all of the fantastical stories of Hercules in truth was one of the coolest parts of the feature. The second best bit is that the film basically features as a remake of “The Avenger’s” set in ancient Greece

4. Chef
Seen 5/25/2014 with Dayle Decker and Dorothy Decker

When I walked out of the theatre after seeing “Chef” I told my mother and sister that it was the best film I seen so far this year, and for a long time I thought it was a shoo-in for number one film of 2014. The reason is that the film just made you feel good, the story was uplifting, the cast was obviously having a good time, the script was super contemporary, and somehow the film was able to seamlessly weave social media into the narrative. In addition to all of that the food presented looked amazing, and reminded me just how good a “food movie” can be. It was also really nice to see John Favreau work on a small scale again, sure “Iron Man” was an amazing film, but Favreau really knows how to deal with the relationships between people in his films and “Chef” showcased that in spades.

3. Life of Crime
Seen 8/30/2014 with Dayle Decker

I loved “Life of Crime” absolutely loved it. I loved it so much that when I saw it at Wal-Mart I bought two copies without even thinking about it, and then almost went back and bought a third copy on Blu-Ray a few days later. Then two days after buying two copies of the film I ended up attending a taping of “Doug Loves Movies” and to my surprise the director, Dan Schechter, was one of the guests. My love of “Life of Crime” is so great that I tracked down a copy of the book it’s based on, Elmore Leonard’s “The Switch” and read it in a day. Seriously though, “Life of Crime” is very well shot and acted film. It also in my mind is one of the most faithful book adaptations I’ve ever seen. Every single word in the original text finds its way to the screen, while still allowing for the director the leeway to make the film his own. I was fortunate to get to see this film when I came across it playing at a small independent theatre while on my way back from visiting friends in Maine. Chances are you didn’t get a chance to see it when it was in theatres, but do yourself a favor and find a copy of this great film and simply enjoy it.

2. Whiplash
Seen 11/16/2014 with Dayle Decker

“Whiplash” almost didn’t make it onto my top ten, so the fact that it eventually wound up in the runner up spot seems almost surreal to me. The fact is that from the very first time I saw the trailer for the film, I knew that I would do whatever was necessary to see the film on the big screen. Discounting that fact that I am a huge fan of Miles Teller, and the fact that J.K. Simmons flat out impressed the hell out of me in two minutes, it was when you heard that line “There are no two words in the English language more harmful than ‘Good Job,’” I knew I was going to see the film. The truth is that I always liked the teachers who were hard asses, the ones that wouldn’t settle. When I walked into my history class sophomore year in college and the first words out of the professor’s mouths were “You are going to hate me,” I immediately knew that I was going to do anything but. That teacher pushed me for one of the first times in my college career, which later made me take for fun a 300 level course on the American Revolution for FUN, and has had a lasting effect on the person I am in the world. Granted Professor Cohen was nowhere near as tough as J.K. Simmons was in this film, but my own desire to have someone in my life who actually pushes me, instead of just blowing smoke up my ass, really made the film hit close to home for me, and completely understand why Miles Teller would allow himself to be treated like that. In addition to all of those reasons why the film resonated with me, the soundtrack for this film was amazing, though if you aren’t a fan of Jazz Drumming, “Whiplash” probably isn’t going to be for you.

1. John Wick
Seen 10/25/2014 with Dayle Decker, Seen 10/27/2014, and Seen 12/23/2014 with Sejohn Serowik

“John Wick” is a perfect movie. I don’t usually say that about a film, I’m hyper critical and even if I love a movie there is usually something small that I can cite as a problem, that I can overlook. “John Wick” has none of that, and trust me I’ve tried to find something, that’s why I’ve seen it three times at the cinema this year. Fortunately, I have been thwarted in all attempts to find a flaw. The plot is so tightly woven, that there isn’t a single moment on the screen wasted, no plot threads are left dangling, the world is constructed quickly, efficiently, and with enough respect for the audience that you completely commit to the proceedings. When a friend who also saw the film told me it had a flimsy plot, I proceeded to explain that while it may be viewable as a flimsy premise the plot is a piece of true beauty. I don’t want to say anything about the film, because it truly is a film that needs to be seen without knowing anything about it beforehand. Just trust me that you want to see “John Wick” and go out and see it.

And now for my Bottom Five

5. Neighbors
Seen 4/23/2014 with Dayle Decker and Dorothy Decker

“Neighbors” was a terrible film, for a comedy it only got one laugh from me, and that was during the (SPOILERS) Robert De Niro theme party (END SPOILERS). The best part of seeing “Neighbors” though was that it was a test screening and as I was leaving one of the moderators asked me for my opinion, I politely told her that she wouldn’t want it, then when she pressed me for it, I proceeded to deconstruct the film for eleven minutes. Afterwards, my Mother approached the woman and said in that matter of fact tone she has “He told you, you didn’t want his opinion.” Seriously, “Neighbors” is an unfunny boorish comedy, if you have to see a Seth Rogen movie from 2014 then seek out “The Interview,” now that was a good comedy.

4. Gone Girl
Seen 10/6/2014 with Dayle Decker and Dorothy Decker

I’ve had a lot of conversations with strangers while waiting for shows to start in the tail end of the year, and it seems like the only movie anybody has seen since “Guardians of the Galaxy” is “Gone Girl.” Which pisses me off , because there were so many good films that came out in the tail end of 2014, yet people seemed to think they stopped at Gillian Flynn’s adaptation of her novel. That is not why I hate “Gone Girl” though, the reason why I hate “Gone Girl” is because it is supposed to be a mystery, and I’m supposed to be dealing with an internal struggle of whether I should side with Nick or Amy. Fact of the matter is there was not a single moment during the film when I doubted Nick’s innocence, which means that the whole fun of the mystery was lost on me. The problem doesn’t stop there though, “Gone Girl” is also about 45 minutes longer than it needs to be. Seriously I did not like “Gone Girl.”

3. Jersey Boys
Seen 6/29/2014 with Dayle Decker and Dorothy Decker

Boring, “Jersey Boys,” a lavish musical about a band that I absolutely love and would love to learn more about was boring. That’s about it, I can’t think of a single moment in the film when I was happy I was watching it. I kept hoping that something would happen and guess what it doesn’t. The biggest trespass committed against me during “Jersey Boys” is that arguably the entire film is Frankie Valle’s story, and we hear from the other members of the Four Seasons, but never from him. That was what kept me going, this idea that I am hearing Valle’s story from his band member’s where arguably he is just a supporting character. Then with five minutes left before the credits, Frankie, speaks directly to the audience. A beautiful narrative device is destroyed and the film is left as a two hour waste of time.

2. Dear White People
Seen 10/29/2014 with Dayle Decker

All of these people are giving Justin Simien praise for his film, must not have seen it, because “Dear White People” is a mess. When the film doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be, how am I as an audience member possibly supposed to interpret it. The worst part of “Dear White People” is that there are some moments of real beauty present in the film, but they are so few and far between that they come across as dumb luck, instead of an actual representation of talent. The moment that really stuck with me was the film major’s teacher giving her crap for her article comparing the gremlins from “Gremlins” to the encroachment of black people into a predominantly white suburb. This is a belief that has been championed since the film came out in 1984, yet the film teacher seems to have never come across it before in his experiences, because he is very dismissive of the idea, when he should as a teacher be upset that his student is basically just plagiarizing a popular idea without adding anything new to it. A film is allowed to build a world, and probably should if you want it to be an enjoyable distraction, yet when the world being built just makes characters stupid for the sake of plot, that’s not doing anybody any favors. The praise Simien has received will probably mean he gets to make another film, and I hope that he is able to focus in on presenting a cohesive story instead of a mish-mashed collage of ideas and ideals.

1. The Skeleton Twins
Seen 9/27/2014 with Dayle Decker

This is another film that was just a straight up mess, the only reason why is ranks as my worst movie of the year over “Dear White People” is because it didn’t even have to courtesy to maintain a sense of continuity for the characters let alone the plot. I’m still asking myself three months after seeing “The Skeleton Twins” how old the characters are supposed to be. Based on some of the comments made in the script it would be believable that they were in their late twenties or early thirties, but both of the actors portraying them are in their forties. Now I fully believe that age doesn’t have to play a factor when casting, but if you are going to cast someone that much older than the script cites, either adjust the script to make it believable or make sure that the actors can be believable in the roles they have been cast as. Worst of all is that I didn’t believe them as siblings, and since that is kind of the crux of the film, it just ruins the entire experience. I know a lot of people liked it and it got high praise from critics, but they must have seen a different film than I did, because “The Skeleton Twins” I saw was a complete piece of garbage.

There you have it the films that I though were the best and absolute worst film of 2014 in my estimation. If you agree or disagree again please feel free to let me know, because the only thing better than watching movies is talking about movies

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Now for something completely different.  This code is from a game that wasn’t very lucrative for the company that produced it when it came out in 1993, yet like most horror themed things gained a cult status years later when the meek finally inherited the earth. That’s right I’m talking about none other than…

Yes, Zombies Ate My Neighbors the long as hell story of Zeke and Julie trying to save their ungrateful neighbors who would just assume lounge around in a pool or jump on a trampoline as opposed to actually picking up one of the weapons lying on the ground and actually contributing to the destruction of the various supernatural menaces plaguing their community. I mean the Cheerleaders I can understand first of all they are wearing those short skirts which are not condusive to fighting the hordes of the undead, but they are also holding their Pom Poms and they can’t just drop those to pick up a weed wacker or bazooka, they have to give the school a deposit when they are issued and let me tell you something suburban high schools make most of their revenue on the deposits of those poor cheerful girls hoping that they will engage in various shenanigans in the back seats of cars with boys and thus lose them allowing for the principal to get his 50K bonus check at the end of the school year. (Plus they are hot as hell and worth 10,000 points).  As usual I digress back on topic despite these glaring flaws in logic in the premise the game is a romping good time. The one flaw I can find with the game outside of its plot is the fact that rather than have a save system in a game with 48+ huge levels they opted to use a password system. However, their usage of a password system does allow us to view our second code of the month.

Day Two

Zombies Ate My Neighbors

1993 SNES /Genesis

Secret Level

When you start up the game if you enter the password enry screen and put in the first four characters B, C, D, F. you are treated to the secret bonus level “Day of the Tentacle,” inspired by the sequel to one of the first games published by Lucasarts Maniac Mansion, entitled (you guessed it) “Day of the Tentacle.” Unfortunately while the level does allow you to proceed to play the first level with the added bonus of an additional first aid kit, extra life, and the martian bubble gun (assuming you can find them all) aside from the main enemy of the stage being the evil mutated Purple Tentacle “Day of the Tentacles” main antagonist, that is the only thing it shares with its base work. Which in the long run is a real shame because if you had instead had to save Bernard, Hoagie, Laverne, and Dr. Fred it would have made this oft discoved secret something really amazing. Still if you have the ability I would suggest taking the time to play Zombies Ate My Neighbors. If you don’t have the ability then I would recommend finding your nearest mad scientist owned mansion and borrowing their  Chron-o-John and taking a trip to 1993 to pick yourself up a copy of Zombies Ate My Neighbors, just don’t ride with more than one person in the machine, if my memory is correct it doesn’t end well.

Hey while we are sort of on the subject of Maniac Mansion. Does anybody remember the show Maniac Mansion, it had really nothing to do with the game but it was fun to watch nonetheless, or so I imagine I only ever saw commercials.