Saturday night is movie night at our house. By that I mean sitting on the couch with my wife, some dinner & wine and watching on Netflix or Xbox video.
I counted all the movies we watched last year at about 34, but I could be missing a few. Also Virginia has seen several more since she and Lyz go to the actual movie theater every so often. We are bombarded by entertainment from every outlet and I tend to forget all the movies I've seen, so that's one reason I'm writing this post. Also, we're nearing the movie award season, so what the heck, I though I'd share my list & review my favorites.
Firstly, none of these were terrible, which makes sense. Considering all the information available for any film (synopsis, ratings & reviews), it's tough to choose something that downright sucks. But even so, there are some surprises once in a while. Some on the list were sort of duds (Flicka 2). Some are pretty old (yeah, I never saw E.T.). Some are obscure (Musicwood), others were blockbusters.
We like documentaries, which many would consider boring. But we love to learn about something new become aware of some history or about the life of someone that was famous, infamous or notorious in some way. Of my top 5, 3 are documentaries. Virginia likes more traditional feature films including chick flicks, of which I was always sure would be to sappy, yet I was often wrong.
Here are my top 5 in no particular order:
A documentary by Mike Meyers of Saturday Night Live & Wayne's World fame. Who is Shep Gordon? Find out during this amazing story of a guy you've never heard of that shaped rock and roll, invented the celebrity chef and went on to produce movies.
This is a great behind the scenes look at rock and roll of the 1960's and 1970's. It's full of typical back stage debauchery, concert footage, deal making and new ideas from a guy that was just trying to look out for the groups he represented.
Yet along the way he had sacrifices. No family. No real friends. No love in his life. Shep moves in some new directions to find the meaning of life.
Awesome film, awesome story.
If you look at paintings by Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), it's obvious that he was able to capture a level of detail far beyond other painters of the time. It approaches near photographic detail, yet the camera had not been invented yet.
Girl with a Pearl Earring (Vermeer 1665)
Inventor Tim Jenison was obsessed by Vermeer's technique. How was he able to do this? What was his secret? Follow Jenison as he researches and discovers some amazing tricks that Vermeer used. He also sets up a studio of his own, recreates these techniques to paint his own work: a recreation of a famous Vermeer. The results are amazing. Vermeer was using a system of.... (Ha! I'm not going to spoil it here!)
Also features actor Martin Mull (who has painted for years) and helps Tim test his 'Vermeer System'. Fascinating if a little slow in some spots. But in the end Tim's Vermeer looks just like the real thing.
Great film! Note: This film was directed and produced by Penn and Teller. (Yeah, those guys...)
Set in the 1970's this is a great film that caught me and reeled me in right off the bat. Growing up in that era, the attention to details such as fashion, culture, cars and music is a perfect bulls eye. Nailed it.
Next, the story of scammers scamming other scammers while scamming the FBI is just awesome. Don't worry if you get a little confused along the way, all the loose ends get tied up.
Finally the characters are quirky, original, funny and sympathetic. Everyone is a con artist and you're rooting for the good ones while loathing the bad ones. The whole thing is a huge mess of double crossing, back stabbing, betrayal and swindling that's a ton of fun.
Great cast, music, wardrobe and story. Two thumbs up!
A documentary about the history of the modern mountain bike, this is the mountain bike bible in movie format. The disciples are Gary Fisher, Joe Breeze, Tom Ritchey and Charlie Kelly.
It all started with pushing old beach cruisers up Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County, California (just north of San Francisco) and bombing down as fast as possible. Eventually there was a weekly contest to find the fastest descent, the winner gets a bunch of beer. This resulted in lots of burned out coaster brakes, broken bike frames and flat tires.
The guys mentioned above, working together and individually over the course of several years slowly started to modify those old beach cruisers to the point that it just made sense to start from scratch.
What can I say, this is a must-see for anyone that loves their full suspension Mt. bike. All the hero's are included in old footage glory before they became legends. Seriously loved this movie!
Inside Llewyn Davis
The brothers of Ethan and Joel Coen are famous for creating movies like Raising Arizona, Fargo and Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?. So, Inside Llewyn Davis is sort of a different for these guys.
This follows Llewyn Davis, a typical folk singer in the Greenwhich Village folk scene of the early 60's. There were many like him. Most were incredible artists. Most did not make it, but tried like hell. Llewyn Davis is one of those folkies that had great songs, a great voice and presence on stage. But things just didn't quite align up for him. Which is to say, his story was typical of most in that circuit in that era. Everyone's trying to make a living at it, but not so much as to sell out.
Then Bob Dylan shows up, breaks all the rules and short-cutted himself straight to fame and fortune. Many folkies were both jealous and angry at the way Dylan 'made it'. As far as I could tell, the film is true to those events at that time.
I am entrigued by the folk scene of the 1960's. I like the music (now more so that I'm older) so this film was easy for me to like. There are several scenes that feature our hero (played by Oscar Issac) performing a well written folk song. Up close, no lip syncing, no faking. Just like you're there. Front row at the coffee shop or café, looking up at the performer. This is one reason that the film works for me, is that a true musician was cast as the lead, who happened to be a pretty good actor. The guy can play. And sing. The performances are very good. The songs are well written. The whole portrayal comes off as very authentic in terms of being a folk singer, complete with all the struggles and passion for the art form.
Another gem by the Coen brothers.
And here are the rest:
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Venture to Alaska
Wolf of Wall Street
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Saving Mr. Banks
More Than Honey
This is the End
Shine a Light
George Harrison: Living in the Material World
Ok, we've all seen at least a few movies last year. Which were your favs?