So I haven’t blogged in a while, or even watched a movie for a while. I have a couple of things I could blame for that, like the abysmal failure of Ridley Scott’s “The Counselor”. Perhaps I could blame a few other things like the thrill ride that is “Bioshock Infinite” or maybe the fact that I finally had the chance to relive my home school days of playing “Starcraft” (which I’ll get into a bit later).
I’m writing a short three-part series of review-unrelated posts where the purpose is to ask my readers a few different questions, as well as get you excited for some of the films premiering this weekend, and later in December. I’d also like to briefly mention by name some of the people who have given me blog feedback and how helpful that has been. Finally, I’d like to provide a brief critique on the state of gaming, as in where it has come, and where it is going. Maybe I can convince some of you that interactive entertainment is indeed an art form, just like painting or films.
Let’s start with what we know we know. Movies. Or rather, pretend to know we know.
This year, as moviegoers, we have been blessed with some pretty astonishing films so far, including Alfonso Cuarón’s “Gravity”, and Paul Greengrass’s “Captain Phillips”. On the independent film front, we have movies like “Upstream Color” and “The Act of Killing”, or the very controversial “Blue is the Warmest Color”. It is sometimes difficult to find theatrical premieres of these kinds of movies, so I encourage you to find a theater that specializes in them.
2013 was not in my opinion as exciting of a year as last year’s blockbuster smash-mouth film selection, including “Django Unchained” (which I will touch on soon) “Les Misérables”, “Argo”, “Silver Linings Playbook”, and plenty more. On the topic of things that make me sad, I must include some of 2013’s letdowns. This includes “The Fifth Estate”, a film that was once in the running for Best Picture ended up with a very poor box office run and a story that seems to crucify it’s main character before you even get the chance to make your own opinion on him. Another letdown is the aforementioned “The Counselor”. After being pretty excited for a few months to see Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt together, along with others, I was very saddened to see it’s very poor release in theaters. Downplayed for unnecessary inclusion of vivid and awkward sex scenes and philosophically flowery dialogue, “The Counselor” quickly flopped it’s way out of the box office. Of course, don’t forget about “The Lone Ranger”, which I actually liked quite a bit, or “After Earth”, try again M. Night Shamalamadingdong.
On the bright side, I’ve been doing lots of research, and there are plenty of fun times in store for us going into November and December. So don’t let something like “Man of Steel” get you down (which I never had the chance to see, so f my life).
If you are desperate for garbage entertainment that you can buy in the Wal-Mart $5 bin a month after it’s theatrical release, you can watch something like “The Starving Games”. If you would like to be enlightened, challenged, and appreciate filmmaking at it’s finest, go see “12 Years a Slave” this weekend. Being a Tarantino fanboy, last year I was very excited for “Django Unchained”. So much in fact that I saw it twice in theaters. Where “Django” was a film that attacked African American slavery head-on with suggestive hilarity on the side of violent harm done to the white slavers, “12 Years” seems to be the same topic, but from a different vein. Topping the lists of many critics for Best Picture, Steve McQueen, a director known for extremely brutal, gritty, and visceral filmmaking tries his hand at slavery. I will be seeing it this weekend, but I anticipate this being a film that needs some time to digest. Having not seen it yet, I can only provide a cautionary warning to the casual moviegoer that this movie will likely disturb you to your core. If you are willing to subject yourself to a bird’s eye view of the white treatment of slaves in America’s darker times, I strongly encourage you to steel yourself and prepare a trip to a theater.
On a lighter note, this weekend brings us the release of “Thor: The Dark World” which hopefully will do more than bridge a gap between the “Avengers” franchise. November 15 contains the black and white release of “Nebraska” from director Alexander Payne. A movie about a boozed up father and regular son and their claim to a million-dollar check. The weekend after, you can get your Jennifer Lawrence fix and go see “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” which looks to be an ideally worthy sequel to last year’s smash hit. November 29 holds “Oldboy” in it’s hands, which is a purportedly violent Spike Lee remake of another foreign film of the same name.
The first week of December looks to release “Out of Furnace” which is probably the movie I am most looking forward to this holiday season. That might be due to my obsession with Christian Bale since Nolan’s Batman trilogy, but I digress. The Coen brothers give us their independent release, “Inside Llewyn Davis” that same week. I’ve heard great things about “Llewyn Davis” but “Furnace” has been kept quiet for the moment. Anticipate a gritty story of brotherly love and vengeance for the latter.
December also premieres the second installment of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, this time with “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”. Being a Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, Star Trek Into Darkness) fanboy, I am filled with girl-like glee to hear his voice and representation as Smaug the dragon. Be sure to catch this in 3D 48-fps if you can.
The next two weeks are packed with hopefully great box office successes including: “American Hustle”, “Saving Mr. Banks”, “Her”, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, “The Lone Survivor”, “The Wolf of Wall Street”, and “August: Osage County”. “American Hustle” brings Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence together again with David O. Russell into a world of con men and mafioso. Tom Hanks is Walt Disney in “Saving Mr. Banks”, and Joaquin Phoenix gets emotionally involved with an operating system in “Her”. After facing multiple editing delays, Scorsese tries to get Leonardo DiCaprio an Oscar with “The Wolf of Wall Street”, and Ben Stiller tries to breathe life into his directorial remake of Danny Kaye’s classic “The Secret Life”. I’m unaware as to how any of these will perform at the box office, but December will be a battlefield of a month where we will likely see plenty of incredible films but even great ones will possibly be overshadowed by slightly better ones.
Of course there are other movies coming out that I haven’t mentioned (I’m looking at you Will Ferrel), but these are the most promising films you will have the chance to catch in theaters before the year is up. If I had to pick only three for you to see, I would point towards “12 Years a Slave”, “American Hustle”, and “The Wolf of Wall Street”.
So I leave you with this question: What movie are you (or were you) most looking forward to this year?