What I Watched in January 2015

Here is my monthly catalogue of all the things I watched in the last month, adding to the ones I already do for video games and books.  Now if I could only come up with catchy title for it, but catchy titles aren’t a strength of mine. I’m also going to start giving star ratings (1-5) to all the movies I see. If I get really ambitious, I might make an index of every movie I watch with that star rating.  That seems like a lot of work though, so it might not happen.

Movies

Gremlins – This movie truly frightened me as a child. It doesn’t anymore.  It is still amusing, and the theme song is excellent.  It really holds up well.  [***1/2]

The Whole Nine Yards – This was a favorite of mine from High School, it was one of the first DVD’s I ever purchased.  It is still pretty good. Bruce Willis is charming and Matthew Perry is really on.  It feels just a little underbaked at times, but otherwise is a solid action comedy. [***]

Stealing Harvard – Another old favorite that I still think is pretty good.  It is lightweight and amusing, full of laughs but not stupid or mean-spirited.  Really, just an altogether pleasant comedy. [***]

Patriot Games – A decent enough action thriller starring Harrison Ford.  It is the first of his two Jack Ryan movies and I enjoyed it, but it didn’t blow me away.  Really, Harrison Ford can carry almost any film, as long as he seems to care. (Not caring is how I excuse him being just as terrible as everything else in Cowboys vs Aliens) [***]

Goodfellas – This is movie exposes the lie of gangsters being somehow honorable.  It is also just incredibly well made and acted.  A great film.  [*****]

The Wolf of Wall Street – This follows the same formula as Goodfellas, but with Wall Streeters instead of gangsters.  They are equally contemptible.  It is mostly DiCaprio’s character doing drugs and ripping off everyone he can.  He is the scum of the earth and this is an extensive cataloguing of all his crimes and excesses.  It is gross, but hard to look away from. [*****]

Pitch Perfect – This had been highly recommended to me by several people, but I never really made an effort to watch it.  I finally caught it on TV a few weeks ago and it did delight.  It is just genuinely enjoyable sports movie where the sport in question is a capella singing.  There are some rough moments, like a gross out vomit bit that seemed really out of place and an odd undercutting of the competition that the whole thing is about at the end, but for the most part it is a really funny movie.  [****]

The Man With the Iron Fists – Good lord, I made a mistake not watching this sooner.  It is nuts, a weird take on a martial arts movie with all kinds of amazing weirdness.  Like Russell Crowe playing a man named Jack Knife who wields a knife/gun weapon.  I don’t know that this movie is strictly good, but I do know that I enjoyed the crap out of it. [****]

The Quiet Man – There are some old fashioned gender politics on display here, but otherwise it is just a genuinely enjoyable romance.  It works entirely on the interplay between John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara.  Wayne is a former boxer who moves to Ireland to escape a tragedy and falls in love with a spinster.  It is simple, but enjoyable.  [****]

Adventures in Babysitting – Another artifact from my childhood. I’m not sure this one holds up as well as Gremlins, but my crush on Elisabeth Shue certainly has.  This is not quite the classic that something like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off  is, but it is still enjoyable.  [***1/2]

American Sniperreview here.  [****1/2]

The Thief and the Cobbler – This is a goddamned crime.  I am speaking specifically of the version of this movie available on Netflix, with terrible voiceovers and songs overtop some truly remarkable animation.  It is painful to watch; the whole story of this film is painful.  This is worth watching, but I recommend watching it on mute.  [*1/2]

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters – This movie is horrible.  Tons of excess gore, jokes that never land and some of the stupidest plotting I’ve ever seen.  I had some hope for it when I saw the cast.  No movie with these people in it should be this bad.  Especially wasted were Peter Stormare and Famke Janssen.  Really, this movie is just a waste. [*]

TV

Galavant – I am baffled by the existence of this show and more than a little annoyed at how it ended.  Galavant is a musical fairy tale miniseries.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was different from most of what’s on television and largely charming.  By the time it ended I was looking forward to it by the time the weekend rolled around.  Many of the jokes didn’t land, and the songs and guest stars were hit or miss, but the central cast was good and there is something good here.  The standout was Timothy Omundson as the contemptible and inept King Richard. He may be awful, but he grows on you.  Too bad they chose to end things on a cliffhanger, a cliffhanger that will never be resolved unless

Psych Season 8 – I already wrote about this, but it is a marginally competent season of TV, with exaggerated highs and lows.

30 Rock – The more I watch this show, the more I think it is one of the best comedies to ever air.  It occasionally nears Arrested Development levels of nested jokes, but is never quite as impenetrable as that show.  Great, great stuff.

Malcolm Season 2 – Yup, this show is still great. Season 2 was not really the show’s high point, Malcolm still feels really young and some of the other characters haven’t found their niche yet.  Still, this is good TV.

Death Comes to Pemberley – A surprisingly enjoyable follow up to Pride and Prejudice.  It is a murder mystery using those famous characters.  While it is far from essential, it is enjoyable.

Mad Men Seasons 3-6 – I want to write up something big about how great this show is, but I don’t think I have a firm enough grasp to do so.  Especially because of how fast I rushed through all of this show.  If you don’t know about how great Mad Men is, you owe it to yourself to watch it.  It is perfect.  I guess I can go over my favorite character, Pete Campbell.  Favorite might be the wrong word; I kind of hate that little bastard.  But I love to hate him.  He is just so presumptuous and entitled.  He expects to get everything.   He wants it all given to him.  Not that he won’t work hard, he just expects that work to be rewarded immediately.  Even when he does something nice it is always just a lead in for him to get something.  Unlike some of the other characters, he is good at his job and does work hard, but he is just such a little punk about I can’t help but hate him.  The highlight of the show is when Pryce, the English accountant, calls him a “grimy little pimp” and then beats the crap out of him.  It is just too perfect.

Fawlty Towers – Perfect farce.  I can’t imagine a better take on the sitcom than this.  It is a perfect 12 episodes of Cleese’s Fawlty causing himself ludicrous problems.

Cowboy Bebop – I found the complete series on DVD for right around 25 dollars and snatched it up.  It is still the best anime. There really isn’t a stinker in the whole bunch of episodes, and all the characters are well developed without resorting to the bald-faced reliance on character tropes that seems to doom most anime.  I am really glad to own it all.

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