12/14: Looking Back, Moving Forward

So here we are, December. Usually by this time I'd have some story to add around here, but December has been so so busy! While the holiday season is a lot of fun, it's also the time of the year where you're getting stressed because of the holidays. Everyone has different holiday traditions around the world, so maybe I'm only part of the population that gets stressed about it, but I do hope you had a great holiday! A friend who went as an exchange student in Japan years ago shared that Christmas is a holiday for lovers, and I've read that in Iceland, they exchange books on Christmas Eve and spend the evening reading. See, different traditions! My family usually have a feast during Christmas Eve while we wait for midnight to strike, then exchange presents, followed by more festivities that last until the next day. A smaller scale of this happens on New Year's Eve, but with fireworks. What are some of your holiday traditions?

Get Shorty | Heartbreaker | Howl's Moving Castle | Memento | Mystery Men | Out of Sight | Pompeii | St. Vincent | Still Alice | S.W.A.T. | The Equalizer | The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies | The Interview | The Italian Job | The Lookout | The Maze Runner | This is Where I Leave You | Twelve Monkeys | Two Days, One Night | Unbreakable | What We Do in the Shadows

Get Shorty - This was good, but I was getting a feeling that John Travolta was pulling from his Pulp Fiction persona.

Heartbreaker - Romain Duris and Vanessa Paredis had a hard time convincing me of their chemistry. This ran a lot longer than I expected, or it probably just felt that way. I liked the Dirty Dancing scene though.

Howl's Moving Castle - This was a sweet love story between a plain girl and a magician. The supporting characters, like the fire and the kid and the turnip scarecrow added charm to this delightful animated movie.

Mystery Men - If you're up for a different take on the superhero genre, this might be the movie for you. It's quite fun to watch a ragtag team of not-so-super superheroes take on a rather loony villain. The movie focuses more on the team, but Geoffrey Rush manages to steal the scenes he's in.

Out of Sight - Two stories intertwined in this Soderbergh flick: a convict escapes prison and hatches a plan to rob a guy they knew. He didn't count on meeting a woman that he can easily talk to. The woman however, turns out to be a cop and is also out to catch him. George Clooney was being his usual charismatic self, and Jennifer Lopez was pretty decent here. The movie had steady pacing, and provided answers to further elaborate the reasons behind the heist. There was even a character crossover, which was pretty great. 

Pompeii - This sort of reminded me of Titanic: the whole star crossed lovers, an arrogant man wanting to marry the girl, a disaster that happens in real life but was shown with a love story within. Was it as good as Titanic? No. It started on a strong foot, but somewhere between the lovers meeting and the end, it just crumbled. The visuals looked good, although you know that everything is literally avoiding the main characters. The Rome-Pompeii plot was extremely forced, as well as Kiefer Sutterland wanting to marry Emily Browning's character. Kit Harrington had the same facial expression all throughout, but I will definitely look at him when he tells me to just look at him.

St. Vincent - I don't understand how Naomi Watts got a nomination for this. She was good, but not awards good. The movie itself was all right. Bill Murray was excellent, though his character was such a horrible person even if his intentions were sometimes good. Melissa McCarthy did not play her usual raunchy self, which was a breath of fresh air from her typical movie performances.

Still Alice - Julianne Moore was good, and the way she carried her character became the driving force to the film. The supporting characters weren't given much to work with, and the material could have stretched for their inclusion, but it was obvious that it was Moore's movie. I would have loved for Moore to score a nomination for Maps though, her performance was crazy good.

S.W.A.T. - If you were going to write a step-by-step process on how to make a thriller, this would be it. It looked so procedural that you already know what is going to happen next. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either.

The Equalizer - I was expecting Denzel Washington to utter the words "I am the Equalizer" at some point because the whole movie felt like a cheese fest.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies - Despite The Hobbit going out on a bang, this installment subsides what makes a movie and focused on all the CGI and battle scenes. Even Bilbo Baggins was set aside. There wasn't really any time to breathe before the next fighting scenes started. Some of the actors do get more screen time though, notably Evangeline Lilly, who's not even in the books.

The Italian Job - This movie also went the no-nonsense route, but the pacing was well so the movie wasn't bad, but it wasn't eye popping either.

The Lookout - Joseph Gordon Levitt was good in his role, though I didn't see anything special about the movie.

The Maze Runner - It was good. It had its flaws and some moments when the movie tries to grapple your emotions, but as a whole, it was a good start to the franchise.

Twelve Monkeys - This was a depressing film! How could the final act not be depressing? But it was good. Brad Pitt was exceptional as the loony person, and Bruce Willis and Madeleine Stowe had great rapport.

Two Days, One Night - I liked the concept of the film, but I felt that the film was longer than it should have been. This is also a good example on human nature; everyone has their own reasons, and you can't put judgment on them because of the varying situations involved. If you were in their position, what would you do?

Unbreakable - A superhero movie that doesn't rely on explosives, Unbreakable offers a darker turn on the genre. The vision of the movie was on the realism side, as a person who probably thought nothing of his no sick leaves, or walking away unscathed suddenly has a greater power at his disposition. I liked the concept, and I did not expect things to end that way.

What We Do in the Shadows - This was fun. I watched this because of other bloggers' pieces about the movie, and I wasn't disappointed. This was quite clever and an enjoyable movie to watch.

Fisti gives his two cents on the Sony hack.

Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Meme has been somewhat of a Thursday staple around these parts, and she's continuing the meme next year. Here are the themes for next year.

Sati shares things she loves about Gone Girl that no one talks about (part 1).

John had a Free Action Movie Week over at his blog (already listed some of them on my to-watch list).

Mettel Ray discusses the character of Jamie Dornan in his show, The Fall.

Nikhat shares The New York Times' tribute on best cinematic performances.

Rhys shares his ranking of Middle Earth's movies.


  1. I really want to see Still Alice, but it came nowhere near me. Hopefully I'll catch it before the Oscars at least.

    You're right about Travolta in Get Shorty. He's even worse in Be Cool.

    1. I heard that Be Cool was horrible, I don't think I'm going to see that one anytime soon.

  2. You've seen a lot this month, and what a varied list! Some of those I haven't seen since the theaters...like SWAT and The Italian Job. LOL, I was dating my now-wife at the time, so those are kind of fond memories.

    Thanks for the link!

    1. I think I got burnt out from watching too many movies that month that I'm currently in a rut that I need to snap out of. I've been seeing parts of SWAT and Italian Job on television months ago but haven't really started and finished them until then.

  3. Thank you for the link! So glad you liked Out of Sight and yeah Moore was so much better in Maps than in Still Alice!

    1. Still Alice was really Moore's film but yes, so much better in Maps!

  4. Great crop of movies judging from the ones I've seen. Glad to see you enjoyed Mystery Men. Twelve Monkeys and Unbreakable are both outstanding, at least in my opinion. Cool post..

    1. Twelve Monkeys was depressing, a great film but the finale hit me hard. Not that Brad Pitt is not a good actor now, but his roles back then are much meatier than his current roles. I kind of wonder why he stopped taking parts that challenged him. Same goes for Bruce Willis, I think I only see him in action franchises these days.