Wednesday, August 28, 2013

August Recap

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The top 3 posts for this month were (and just for Tony Laplume I'll put links in this month!):

If you remember last month's recap, I pretty much tapped out my Netflix queue.  I got so desperate that I decided to re-enroll in Blockbuster by mail.  I figured at least then I could get newer movies, since Netflix gets them about the same time as HBO does, which is to say not for a fucking long time, by which point I've forgotten I ever wanted to see them.  Except the cheapasses at Blockbuster don't buy enough copies, so any within the last couple of weeks are "Very High Demand" or "Medium Demand" which is code for, "Meh, we might have it available in a few weeks."  By which time it's on Redbox.  This is why you're failing, Blockbuster!  I mean your only competitive advantage right now is having movies sooner than Netflix and Redbox and if you don't have that, what the fuck good are you?  (They negated their other advantage by closing 3/4 of their stores, so that now you can find probably 15 Redbox kiosks before you find a Blockbuster store that still exists.)  Maybe I should just start going to the local video store chains, but again they don't get newer movies that soon and you're paying probably $4 a pop, so I could just watch it On Demand from the cable company.  Yeesh, I should just start going to the cheap second-run theater every day; that'd only cost like $2-$3.  Or, you know, just watch local programming like the news or sitcom reruns.  Ugh.  Not having cable for 8 months really spoiled me because I got in the habit of watching a DVD with dinner and now I can't stop.'s some stuff I watched.

Oblivion:  I actually watched this on Blockbuster's new On Demand channel for the Roku.  (Which incidentally is about the same price as buying it On Demand from cable but you get to keep it longer.)  I really liked the look of this movie.  The little ship Tom Cruise buzzes around in and the fold-out bike and the cue ball-looking drones were all kind of neat.  Though like the Star Trek reboot it all had an Apple-ish quality to it.  Other than that Tom Cruise is Tom Cruise, the two chicks are disposable, and Morgan Freeman cashes a paycheck dressing up as Dark Helmet.  The story reminds me of the Sam Rockwell movie "Moon" only with more action.  There are twists and then more twists.  The last twist though really cheapens everything Tom Cruise did in the movie.  Still, it's worth watching if you're into dystopian sci-fi.  3.5/5 stars

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia:  The Netflix description says this is about four narcissistic young people who own a bar in Philly, which is pretty accurate.  I'd say four really immature 30-somethings who somehow own a crappy bar in Philadelphia and constantly wind up in bizarre situations largely of their own making.  It's in that same vein as "Seinfeld" or "Arrested Development" that way.  Which is probably why I've enjoyed it.  The first season is only about 8 episodes and then in season 2 Danny DeVito joins the cast as the father of the two siblings in the show.  I guess because they felt they needed Danny DeVito's awesome star power...note sarcasm.  4/5

The League:  I referenced this show in Box Office Blitz this month.  It's an FX series about a group of friends who are in a fantasy football league called "The League" which is kind of lame since there are like billions of fantasy football leagues, including the one I'm in this year, Nassau Ungranulated.  The first season is only six episodes, so really the series doesn't gel until the second season.  Basically it's like the creators watched "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and decided to make the characters more suburban and throw a lot more sexual humor in.  Which is fine for me, but parental discretion advised.   3.5/5

Vanishing on 7th Street:  Since I watched "The Machinist" I became a fan of Brad Anderson's work.  Until the success of "The Call" this year he'd pretty much flown under the radar commercially despite how good his movies are.  This is another great one, a movie that will probably have you sleeping with the lights on that night.  It's scarier than any of those "bump-in-the-night" haunted house movies Hollywood has been churning out since "Paranormal Activity" and really is probably closer to the book "I Am Legend" than the Will Smith movie that was supposedly an adaptation of it.  It was filmed in Detroit which makes for a great location because Detroit already looks like the apocalypse has hit so it's the perfect setting for an apocalyptic movie.  Basically there's a blackout and everyone who wasn't near an independent light source that night (like candles or a flashlight or a cigarette) disappears with only their clothes left behind.  Daylight seems to be getting shorter and shorter and when night comes if you're not in the light you're going to vanish.  Four survivors are brought together at a bar with a cranky backup generator and try to figure out what to do next.  The movie manages to create terror just with encroaching darkness and vague shadows, which is a pretty impressive feat.  Going out on a limb, I have to say Anderson is the closest to Hitchcock working in the movie business today. 5/5

Sons of Tucson:  There are some shows that got cancelled in the middle of their first season that you watch on Netflix and say, "Hey, this was really good!"  This is not one of those.  The concept is pretty decent:  When their dad goes to jail, 3 kids hire the fat slacker from "Reaper" and "Tucker and Dale vs. Evil" to pretend to be their dad.  Sort of like what Billy Bob Thornton does in "Bad Santa."  For whatever reason, it just never seemed to come together to really maximize the potential of the concept.  I can't really articulate what was missing.  Better writing and better actors?  Maybe.  3/5

Alphas, Season 2:  I really enjoyed season 1, so I was glad when Netflix notified me they'd added season 2, which of course I missed on Syfy whenever the hell it aired.  Anyway, I can see why the show got cancelled because I didn't like this season as much.  I think the problem was the overbearing Stanton Parish plot that had Dr. Rosen basically turning into Captain Ahab with Parish as the white whale.  One of the things that was good about for instance Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine was even when there was the whole Dominion War thing going on they'd still take time to have a goofy Ferengi episode or something that gave you a little break from the overly serious main storyline.  Plus at the end of the first season Rosen announced to the world that there are mutants among us, so going into season 2 you wonder what the fallout is going to be.  Answer:  not much.  I mean no mass panic or anything.  Apparently no one really gave a shit about the announcement except tabloids.  The season (and I suppose the series unless it gets revived elsewhere) ends on a real downer, though I loved the appropriate use of Simon & Garfunkel's "Only Living Boy in New York."  3/5

No Way Out:  This was an M. Night Shymalan movie before M. Night was making movies.  What a twist at the end!  (And just like M. Night what a stupid twist!)  This was a quintessentially 80s movie with the Cold War paranoia, the big, slow computers, and crappy synthesizer soundtrack.  But it was an interesting plot about a guy who has to solve a crime without revealing his involvement with the victim.  (It's somewhat similar to this season of Breaking Bad from Hank's point of view.)  And without this, Kevin Costner would never have gone on to star in all those baseball movies or as Superman's dad. 2.5/5

Cellular:  This was a completely implausible action movie.  Jason Statham kidnaps Kim Basinger and stuffs her in an attic that has an old rotary phone that still works.  It's like, who the hell puts a rotary phone in an attic?  Was this the Brady house and they installed one up there for Greg to use?  And if the house was abandoned why did the phone still work?  Did the criminals decide to pay the phone bill?  Then instead of just ripping the phone down and taking it away, Jason Statham smashes it with a hammer, which allows Kim Basinger to reassemble the phone enough to call Captain America/Human Torch.  Which begs the question:  if you only had one phone call and were kidnapped in an attic, which superhero would you call?  I think I'd call Superman just because he has all the super senses and the X-ray vision so it'd be easier for him to find me.  This sounds like a good poll question for the Geek Twins.  Anyway, despite how implausible it is, it's a fun action movie. 3/5

Steal:  This was one of those movies I watched late at night.  It was a surprisingly not completely terrible heist movie starring Stephen Dorff as the head of a crew of "extreme" bank robbers who start off robbing a bank on rollerblades.  Like any heist movie the fun part is to see what kind of capers they're going to pull off and how they get away with it.  Natasha Henstridge of "Species" fame also cashes a paycheck while contributing nothing except a gratuitous sex scene, which would have been better if I weren't watching it on basic cable. 2.5/5

Bloodmatch:  I'd actually watched this movie before and it was just so hilariously terrible I had to watch it again.  It features what has to be the most impotent revenge scheme in movie history.  This guy's "brother" "dies" (note the quotes) and so he decides to take revenge on those who were involved.  How, you might ask?  By bringing them to "Las Vegas" to a gym and then one-at-a-time trying to kickbox them to death.  Which as he soon realizes would take a really, really, really long time so he has to snap their necks instead.  But then (spoiler!) he gets his ass kicked by the woman he wanted to take revenge on.  Maybe next time just use a gun, but don't lock them in an attic with a rotary phone. 1/5


  1. Vanishing on 7th Street sounds good. I just tend to stay away from everything that Hayden Christensen is in. Now I guess I'll give it a try.

  2. I haven't seen any of these movies. You'd think I'd have seen just one of them.

  3. Good reviews Pat. I felt the same way about Alphas and Oblivion. Disposable acting but visually arresting. Alphas tried to change too much and the characters were really unlikeable by season two. I'm surprised Blockbuster is still in business frankly.

  4. Thanks for the reviews. I've been meaning to watch its always sunny in Philly for a while now. But my instant queue has about 300 shows and flicks in it. It could take a bit to get to it.



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