Tag Archives: Jurassic World

I’ve been lost on Kong: Skull Island

IMG_1710.JPGWell, I survived my movie challenge last year and (partially) as a result it’s been eight months since I’ve worked on this blog.

It’s fitting that my writing perch now has a view of my signed Mike Birbiglia poster (taken from the poster sale by a former coworker at the ol’ Edina Cinema) because my last post here was about Birbiglia’s film “Don’t Think Twice.” He did a Q&A about the film after the July 2016 screening at the Lagoon Cinema and, other than his obviously flawless and brilliant response to the questions I kept telling myself I would ask if I had the courage, I remember the breeze of comedic genius as he walked by my aisle seat to the front of the theater. Maybe I’ll meet him someday, but at the same time it’s enough for me to sit and listen and admire that he can sell out huge theaters and at the same time spend weeks touring to different cities doing Q&A’s and teaching improv classes to local comedians.

I could talk and write about him forever, but I didn’t come back here only to gush about Mike Birbiglia.

BUT I could keep going about him … no? Okay fine.

I know you’re all wondering about the side effects of watching 366 movies in one year (you can see the full list here) and I will say (Captain Obvious – be on alert, I’m about to steal your thunder) it’s too many movies and I think I missed some of the impact they would have had if I watched them at the pace of a normal person.

That said, there’s a good chance I would never get around to some of the classics and obscure films I made it through — “It Happened One Night,” “Charade,” “Prayer of the Rollerboys,” and “The Story of Ricky” come to mind.

This brings to mind another side effect of the challenge, any time someone asks me what my favorite or most memorable films are from last year, the answer always changes.

I should just carry my movie notebook around with me so I can consult the list and make sure I am really delivering the goods. (Dating tip: read from your movie, shopping, pet name, dream vacation, etc. list when things get awkward.)

I do have a movie notebook with my list now, which is another benefit of the challenge, although it makes me wish I had kept one all along so I would have a record of everything I’ve seen; and a tool for those extremely awkward date moments — like when a guy says you have nice veins. Um, so have you seen “Working Girl?”

This year, I only have nine movies to refer to compared to 75 by the end of this day last year when I watched “Upstream Color” and “That Touch of Mink.” Don’t ask me what they’re about.

The last movie I saw was “Kong: Skull Island” — mainly to see my girl Brie Larson and my boy Marc Evan Jackson, who delivers some great one-liners — my favorite being “Oh dear.” I can’t give away the context to that line, but just wait until you see it.

Since the beginning of the year I’ve also watched “Jackie,” “Pitch Perfect,” “Julieta,” “20th Century Women,” “Sing,” “Moonlight,” “Split,” “Baby Mama,” and the aforementioned “Kong: Skull Island.”

I knew very little about the film before seeing it and learned, from another former co-worker at the ol’ Edina Cinema when I stopped in there the other day, that the director– Jordan Vogt-Roberts — also made “The Kings of Summer.”

It’s an indie film that didn’t get nearly the attention it deserved, in my opinion, and represents a new trend of those directors breaking into the Hollywood blockbuster world with positive results: witty scripts and comedic actors coupled with special effects and action.

Another example: Colin Trevorrow made “Jurassic World” in addition to “Safety Not Guaranteed,” thus bringing together Chris Pratt, Lauren Lapkus and Jake Johnson and some pesky dinosaurs.

“Kong: Skull Island” has the right mix of action, humor (John C. Reilly) and heart and I hope the trend represented by the work of Vogt-Roberts and Trevorrow (who is making a “Jurassic World” sequel) continues.

As for me and my movie-watching challenge plans for the future, I think it’s to be continued …

I’ll see what I want to see and what I’m in the mood for this year (something I couldn’t always do in 2016) and next year might embark on a challenge of a smaller scale than 366 movies.

There are a lot out there I need and want to see and perhaps I’ll be ready to put some lipstick on and watch a ton of movies, again, by 2018.

Until then, I leave you with this reminder from Paul F. Tompkins to see ‘Kong: Skull Island” and one from me to see “The Kings of Summer.”

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Top 5 Movies

Hey hey.

My friend and I had a discussion last night about how Netflix should suggest movies based on mood, not genre, the cast or critical acclaim. For example, if you’re in the mood to watch something that will make you feel like texting your ex wasn’t a horrible idea, then watch “Gremlins.” Or if you’re in the mood to be motivated to get a new job, watch Friz Freleng’s “Looney Looney Bugs Bunny Movie.”

Okay, maybe that’s not as easy as it seems because I quickly resorted to looking at my shelf of DVDs (and one VHS) to come up with ideas that most likely would not fit either of those scenarios.

But Netflix certainly has the resources, or at least an intern, to complete psychological studies in order to rework its movie suggestions to match the mood and emotions of customers.

In the meantime, here are the Top 5 movies for all your moods, I promise (plus my favorite quote from some of them.)

5. “High Fidelity.”

fidelityDo you need something to watch because you just went through a break-up, started dating someone, signed some young hipsters onto your record label or decided to reorganize your record collection? Good news, “High Fidelity” is nestled in what should be the nostalgia category on Netflix. If you’re mood doesn’t prompt you to watch this film, don’t forget that it has the best dance scene to “Walking on Sunshine” in existence.

It’s a therapeutic film on all levels, especially when John Cusack’s character Rob has fantasies of different ways he would tell off his ex-girlfriend’s new lover, Ian (Tim Robbins.) I don’t know how many times I have wanted to tell customers to “Get their patchouli stink outta my store!”) while serving up their popcorn orders and endless amounts of Diet Coke.

Customer: “Do you have a soul?”

Rob: “That all depends.”

4. “Jurassic World.”

jurassicworldMaybe everyone has seen”Jurassic World” at this point, but if you are trying to decide between blockbusters with a hunky leading man (or men) try this before “Magic Mike XXL.” Besides, I heard (through my dream nerd/hunk Chris Hardwick on @midnight) that Channing Tatum doesn’t take his shirt off until an hour into the film.

“Jurassic World” also has a bit of nostalgia in its references to “Jurassic Park,” including the score to the film. I don’t know about you but my high school band played the theme from “Jurassic Park” at our concerts so I was especially hoping that would be a part of the film.

I imagine director Colin Trevorrow must have a special place for “Jurassic Park” in his heart and decided to pay homage to it in his second feature-length film (also see “Safety Not Guaranteed.”) It’s pretty impressive what he was able to do for the dinosaur franchise while, I think, opening up the possibilities for it to continue.

Of course Chris Pratt would make an appearance in the sequel but I am also hoping for leading roles by two of the supporting characters Lauren Lapkus (Vivian) and Jake Johnson (Lowery).

Vivian and Lowery show up enough as workers in the control room of the dinosaur theme-park but their final scene alone is worthy of its own spin-off.

They certainly will (or should) be the stars of “Jurassic World in Space” or whatever the next installment of the franchise is.  In summation, “Jurassic World” has the perfect mix of camp and dinosaurs on land and water and Chris Pratt ultimately saving the day.

Lowery: “Someone has to stay behind.” (Leans in for a kiss)

Vivian: “Uh, I have a boyfriend.”

3. “The One I love.”

the one Keeping with the science fiction and romance theme (minus the dinosaurs) try “The One I Love” on Netflix. It certainly will make you think about relationships and provides and interesting look into people’s desires and curiosity and how they would act on those emotions if given the opportunity and when they think no one is watching. Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass play a couple trying to fix their marriage and, following the advice of their therapist, spend a weekend at a cabin away from the city.

What Ethan and Sophie don’t know is they are not alone at the cabin and the guests they encounter are there to help them dissect their relationship, what’s wrong and what’s right and figure out what can help solve their problems.

“The One I Love” is designed to make you think and the ending, despite being ambiguous as far as what really happens, is still somehow a satisfying resolution to Ethan and Sophie’s journey.

2. “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”

earlIf you didn’t guess by the title, this film isn’t a laugh-a-minute but it is an effective and realistic exploration of friendship and loss and family and how young people cope with all the pains of growing up. It’s also set against the backdrop of a close-knit Pittsburgh neighborhood and high school with use of creative cinematography and animation to tell the story.

Greg Gaines (Thomas Mann) is the main character who is forced by his mom to start spending time with his friend from kindergarten (who he hasn’t really talked to since then) after she is diagnosed with cancer. It’s heavy, I know, but the story has a slow burn to what you ultimately fear will happen and builds its characters well to create an understanding of what they are going through, even though it is heartbreaking.

“Usually it’s when your guard is down that you find yourself saying the most dick sentences of your life.”

1. “The Wolfpack”

wolfpackIt’s hard at this point to decide which of these films is my favorite but “The Wolfpack” is definitely the most intriguing and unique story that would honestly make for a good television show or miniseries to allow more of it to be told.

The documentary focuses on the Angulo brothers, who were raised in an apartment in Manhattan and never were allowed to leave while growing up. As some of the brothers got older their curiosity to explore the outside world  grew enough to sometimes challenge their bond to stay together and especially their relationship with their father.

At the same time they learned about life and a perceived version of the world through movies and often reenacted them with costumes and props and their own scripts. By the end, one of the older brothers makes his own film that reflects his experience and emotion from being trapped inside and not knowing society for most of his life.

It’s heartbreaking on a whole other level than “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” but also leaves a sense that the brothers will accomplish their dreams and find a way out in their own way while always sticking together.

“That’s probably the best damn apple I’ve ever tasted in my life.”

Ok, there you go, enjoy the show. Honestly I don’t know if I did these films justice, but I’ve worked on this post on and off over the past week and it’s time to move on.

Speaking of  Enjoy the Show,  here is a short film starring my Edina Cinema coworker “A Million” Mohn and manager Jed Schlegelmilch. It’s pretty fantastic.

That is all.