OK, who is up for participating in this this year? If you are in indicate with a comment below
The inspiration for this annual challenge came from livejournal where I temporarily blogged. They had challenges like these and I participated but gradually I reached the point where I was only posting there to participate in the challenge so I rarely post there anymore.
In 2007 I asked if there was interest in a challenge to Newsviners to read at least 50 books and/or watch 50 movies. I went ahead and set up topics to do exactly that.
That year there was a lot of initial interest but few actually participated.
In 2008 too there was some initial interest and more people writing book and movie reviews but few kept track. I even lowered the reading level from a minimum goal of 50 to 25 too.
The 2009 movie movie challenge was here and the reading challenge was here.
So if you like this idea and want to participate please indicate with a comment below.
There are at least three ways you can do this? I make a point - learned the hard way while student teaching - of modelling (no, not like Vanna White but like a teacher) so...
You can link below to your reviews... or post mini-reviews below... or you can do what I do which is a list - updated regularly - of all of the movies I've seen so far this year. S
The idea here is not "who can read the most?" or "who can see the most movies?" so much as motivating more of us to share what we are reading and watching. I LOVE reading reviews by other people and comparing their opinions of a work to my own. Or, better yet, reading about something and deciding to check it out.
#1 – Anvil –Take a bit of the "this can't be real can it?" of This Is Spinal Tap (which is satire in that movie's case but real in this movie's case) and a bit of the Wilco story from its documentary about trouble with record label, add a heavy metal soundtrack and you're getting close to getting what this Anvil film is like.
As with Spinal Tap, Anvil get themselves in situations almost too weird to believe to be true, like traveling across the world but not getting paid.
But this is real and the guys are in their 50s and expecting their big break to happen any day now. And these are not nobody's – the movie and the dvd extras include members of Metallica, Slayer and other bands praising Anvil.
The movie begins showing a list of bands playing a festival together in Japan in 1984: Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Scorpions and,yes, Anvil. So the film looks at why those bands it big and Anvil just never did... and will they ever get their due? The movie's worth watching even if you've never heard of them before (I hadn't) and/or aren't into metal.
It's easy to see why this documentary won audience awards at the 2008 Sydney Film Festival, Los Angeles Film Festival and Galway International Film Festival. The film won Best Documentary at the 2010 Independent Spirit Awards in Los Angeles
#2 – Drumline – I have relatives in drum and bugle corp groups and I was in marching band for a year so this film caught my interest. The scenes of the drumlines are quite good and entertaining, those in between not so much.
Roger Ebert nails it in his review of the movie when he writes, "Drumline," directed by Charles Stone, and written by Gordon Chism and Shawn Schepps, is entertaining for what it does, and admirable for what it doesn't do. It gets us involved in band politics and strategy, gives us a lot of entertaining halftime music, and provides a portrait of a gifted young man who slowly learns to discipline himself and think of others. That's what it does.
What it doesn't do is recycle all the tired old cliches in which the Harlem kid is somehow badder and blacker than the others, provoking confrontations."
James Berardinelli also makes accurate comments about the movie: "Just when I thought I had seen every conceivable twist on the Rocky storyline, along comes something like Drumline to surprise me. Despite being pure formula from start to finish, this movie works for two obvious reasons: a star-making turn by Nick Cannon and a stereotype-busting look at one of the most frequently derided of scholastic extracurricular activities: the marching band. Drumline offers little that's surprising or groundbreaking, but, because the script is smart enough not to insult us and to develop a group of interesting characters, the act of watching the film is an entertaining experience rather than a tedious exercise."
#3 – Secretariat – If you like horses, horse races or feel good movies, this one is for you. If not you may want to take a pass. The acting is interesting, especially from Diane Lane and John Malkovich. Parts of it seem too sugary and predictable, though, but that's not all the movie's fault since viewers may already have a passing knowledge about the horse which went on to win(?)
What makes the movie fascinating are the horse racing scenes. Pretty much any scene with horses is interesting, any without is more underwhelming.
Roger Ebert loved the movie but admitted he was biased and explains why and how in his review. http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20101006/REVIEWS/101009986/1023
#4 - Restrepo – This is an excellent documentary, likely to be nomimated this year for the best documentary category.
Sebastian Junger, who wrote The Perfect Storm and other great non-fiction books, and a war photogapher, Tim Hetherington, both got embedded and followed a unit around for one year. One of the soliders who was killed was named Restrepo and the others named their outpost in Afghanistan after him. Junger wrote a book, War, on what he saw and the filmmaker made this documentary.
As a result you can just watch this movie or, if you want more details, you can read the book.
The footage in this is real, with no talking heads, as opposed to staged war footage in, say, bands of brothers.
This movie will leave you with a new perspective on the war one that is not for or against the war but just appreciative of what the soldiers have to endure. Roger Ebert has a good review of it here
#5 - The Way We Get By - review here
#6 - The Fighter is an amazing movie. I'll resist the urge to write a full length review as many good pieces have already been written. Christian Bale is amazing as is Mark Wahlberg and Amy Adams and, best of all and so deserving of the Golden Globe she picked up last weekend, Melissa Leo. I'm not a fan of boxing movies – heck I'm a pacifist – but I knew this movie would grab me by my throat and not let go and I was right. This movie meets its hype. My favorite part was the boxers seven sisters who practically stole every scene they were in.
Making the movie still more interesting is that it's based on a true story, that of "Irish" Micky Ward. Now I've gotten my boxers in a bunch before (including over here) about how I sometimes dread biopics because of the liberties they take with the facts. But this is a film where there was a friendship between the fighters' family and Wahlberg and by all reports it stayed pretty close to the basic facts.
According to Wikipedia:
"To mimic Ward's habits and mannerisms, Wahlberg had him "on set, watching me every single day." During pre-production, the Ward brothers temporarily moved into Wahlberg's home. To add to the film's realistic nature, Wahlberg refused a stunt double and took real punches during the fight scenes, which resulted in him nearly getting his nose broken a couple of times. Wahlberg underwent a strict bodybuilding exercise regimen, dedicating over four years of training to obtain the muscular physique to convincingly play Ward."
The movie was directed by David Russell, who previously worked with Wahlberg on the great Three Kings movie.
#7 - The King's Speech - Speaking of factual accuracy I came home from seeing this amazing movie, which I think will win the Oscar for best picture and best actor, curious about the facts on this one. And there were a few liberties taken – you can read about those at Wikipedia.
But the acting, oh, the acting is amazing, especially by Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, is amazing. You can feel like you are stuck, like King George VI, in the stammer, unable to finish his eloquent thoughts. Through working with Lionel Logue (played by Rush) he can't make the stammer go away completely but he can find techniques to make his speech sound more normal, something important especially when you're the king during wartime in England.
#8 - True Grit – While The Fighter and The King's Speech blew me away with the acting with The Coen brothers adaption of True Grit it was the dialogue that fascinated me. Heck even before I went to see people were telling me to pay attention to how the actors speak and how they even avoid using any contractions, a rare feat. And it's true, one yearns for the day when people would return to speaking with such wit and eloquence as is present in this film.
Some have called this movie a remake of the John Wayne version but I quibble with that since the directors have said – including in this NPR interview – that they never even saw the original movie. What it is is their take on the great novel Charles Portis.
Matt Damon and Jeff Bridges put in great performances but it is Hailee Steinfeld, the girl playing the narrator, Mattie, who steals the show.
I like how Roger Ebert puts it:
"In the Coen Brothers' "True Grit," Jeff Bridges is not playing the John Wayne role. He's playing the Jeff Bridges role — or, more properly, the role created in the enduring novel by Charles Portis, much of whose original dialogue can be heard in this film. Bridges doesn't have the archetypal stature of the Duke. Few ever have. But he has here, I believe, an equal screen presence. We always knew we were looking at John Wayne in the original "True Grit" (1969). When we see Rooster Cogburn in this version, we're not thinking about Jeff Bridges.
#9 - This film is Not yet rated - my review of it of it is here
#10 - Digital Nation - I watched this documentary as part of my prep work for this interview with author Douglas Ruskhoff who is in it. This is definitely worth viewing as it will make you rethink if you are really saving time - or just reducing quality- when you multitask... and how much you are sacrificing when choosing internet activities over social ones. Rushkoff raises related issues in the interview which is here.
#11 -17 Harry Potter movies #1 through seven - I've been watching about a movie every two weeks for two months to prepare for watching the "new" movie. I'd read all the books as they came out but, despite participating last summer in a Harry Potter camp (I taught wand etiquette skills among other things) had not seen all the movies. Having now caught up I plan to see the new movie within the next week. I think the first two movies were the weakest but then i'm not really a fan of that director (Chris Columbus who did the Home Alone movies) the later movies were darker and better.
18 - Social Nework Finally watched this. Just couldn't get up the interest for it before. It was good but not great. Was interesting watching it at work with people (residents and a coworker) who don't have or understand or care about facebook. t'd be like watching a chess documentary with people who have never played chess.
Trying to explain it probably affected my appreciation of it. Maybe I needed to see it in the theater. Still I think King's Speech definitely was the better movie and deserved Oscar winner for best picture.
The acting and writing were good but I think this is one of those times when I'd heard so much about the movie - both hype and criticism - that by the time I actually saw it it was a bit of "is that it?"
If i'd seen it right when it came out I would have probably been impressed by the writing esp. the dialogue courtesy of Aaron Sorkin of sports night/west wing fame (my satirical piece on the latter is here http://sbutki.newsvine.com /_news/2008/01/31/1269242- what-i-learned-from-the-we st-wing-its-actors-and-the -network ) but given that I saw Sorkin on several shows including Colbert report where he talked about not liking or ever even using facebook... that affected my appreciation of the movie and topic too.
19 - Harry Potter - deathly hallows part 2- great acting, great story, excellent resolution of all plot arcs. Very satifsying.
20 - We watched Fantastic Mr. Fox - most of us had seen it before but I'd forgotten just how original and brilliant it was. If you haven't seen it, do so.
21 - Project Nim - A fascinating documentary,as Roger Ebert talks about here, http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110706/REVIEWS/110709994 which shows once again that humans treat other animals like crap. Raises some fascinating ethical questions.
22 - I followed that with a movie, Rise of the Planet of the Aples in which apesget to kick some human ass and this movie did that and was quite a good story as well.
23 - For a story aimed at a younger audience this was pretty good, better than I expected
24 - Breaking Bad - season 3 - I'm loving this tv series. It's full of angst and I get stressed just watching it but that's because of how damn good it is.
25 - The Incredible Hulk starring Ed Norton I was underwhelmed by this. Ebert nailed some of the problems with the movie: http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080612/REVIEWS/848151866
26-30 - Aliens 1, 2 , 3 and 4 - Roger Ebert's reviews are spot on regarding why Alien and Aliens are great as well as the reduced quality of 3 and 4. Watched this today as all four were shown back to back today on AMC.
This line sums it up best, why i think this movie is so great, its cerebral factor:"Variety noted a few years later that Weaver remained the only actress who could "open" an action movie, and it was a tribute to her versatility that she could play the hard, competent, ruthless Ripley and then double back for so many other kinds of roles. One of the reasons she works so well in the role is that she comes across as smart; the 1979 "Alien" is a much more cerebral movie than its sequels, with the characters (and the audience) genuinely engaged in curiosity about this weirdest of lifeforms."
this is quite true regarding its influence: ""Alien" has been called the most influential of modern action pictures, and so it is, although "Halloween" also belongs on the list. Unfortunately, the films it influenced studied its thrills but not its thinking. We have now descended into a bog of Gotcha! movies in which various horrible beings spring on a series of victims, usually teenagers. The ultimate extension of the genre is the Geek Movie, illustrated by the remake of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," which essentially sets the audience the same test as an old-time carnival geek show: Now that you've paid your money, can you keep your eyes open while we disgust you? A few more ambitious and serious sci-fi films have also followed in the footsteps of "Alien," notably the well-made "Aliens" (1986) and "Dark City" (1998). But the original still vibrates with a dark and frightening intensity."
31 - Friday Night Lights - So I finally saw Friday Night Lights,the movie. Funny I've seen almost the entire series but never saw the original movie that started it all. And the weird part is I didn't like it as much as I liked
the series but it may not be really fair to compare the two since a series has time to develop more
characters provide them with more depth, etc, have other plots. And I kept looking at the football coach (Billy Bob Thornton in the film) and going "you're no Kyle Chandler!"
It would have been fair to have seen this movie before the series. What's more fair, I guess, is to compare this movie to other movies about high school football and it's indeed much better than those.
32 - Drive - Saw Drive. And I'm not sure yet what I think of it - usually i'm not a fan of action scenes but this is one of those movies where I think the action scenes - the driving ones - were probably the best part. I think ryan gosling - the lead actor - has amazing potential
but didn't seem to have enough to work with here. The dialogue (what there was of it) left me underwhelmed.
The best part was seeing albert brooks playing such a dark role. And the music was sooo cheesy
INDEX OF INTERVIEWS AND REVIEWS
So I'm a bit of a prolific writer (yes that's a joke) so I decided a year or so ago that it might be a good idea to index some of my articles but then I was torn between it appearing too pompous and egotistical and then having no time to do it. I ended up deciding to do it at first with just an index of my writing advice pieces and seeing what the reaction was to that. It was here and people seemed to like it.
So I have spent some rare free time in recent months doing another index, this one: a collection of all of my reviews.I am also working on compiling indexes of my fiction and satire pieces and of my memoir pieces.
Oh and I also collected here (and just updated) most of my music rants via seeds and articles- http://sbutki.newsvine.com/_news/2007/07/30/867343-my-music-writing-and-seeds-and-interviews
Author interviews - Fiction and non-fiction mixed together
Baldacci, David - The Collectors - http://sbutki.newsvine.com/_news/2007/03/01/592147-interview-with-david-baldacci-author-of-the-collectors
Bauer, Belinda - Blacklands - http://sbutki.newsvine.com/_m1/04/3713036-my-interview-with-author-belinda-bauer-about-her-fantastic-novel-blacklands
Beaton, M.C. - Death of a Maid http://sbutki.newsvine.com/_news/2007/05/01/675418-interview-with-author-mc-beaton
Carr, David -http://sbutki.newsvine.com/_news/2008/08/20/1765724-scotts-interview-with-david-carr-author-of-the-night-of-the-gun-a-memoir-about-drugs-and-journalism
Carr, David -http://sbutki.newsvine.com/_news/2008/08/20/1765724-scotts-interview-with-david-carr-author-of-the-night-of-the-gun-a-memoir-about-drugs-and-journalism
Crais, Robert - The Watchmen http://sbutki.newsvine.com/_news/2007/02/27/589417-interview-with-robert-crais-author-of-the-watchman
Connelly, Michael - Crime Beat http://sbutki.newsvine.com/_news/2007/02/27/588427-interview-with-michael-connelly-author-of-crime-beat
Connelly, Michael - Overlook - http://sbutki.newsvine.com/_news/2007/05/21/732026-interview-with-michael-connelly-author-of-the-overlook