Here is everything I've read, watched, and played in 2018 so far.
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Decade: Rating: List Type:
Strictly Ballroom, Mary and the Witch's Flower, Anon, Shimmer Lake, Howard's End.... a tentative Good awarded to Eyes Wide Shut.
Strictly Ballroom and Mary & the Witch's Flower where much needed movies of lighthearted, colorful fun. I would recommend them to anyone who wants to sit back and enjoy something that isn't too serious. Anon, Shimmer Lake and Howard's End where better than I expected, but possibly because I had low expectations going in. I enjoyed them while watching them but they don't strike me as especially memorable. They all did fine and interesting things, never crossing a bar to greatness.
Eyes Wide Shut is not a movie for me and it would have been in the Bad category, but it got some surprising last minute points for not ending on a dour pessimistic note. I guess I am a little jaded but I was entirely expecting something different in the end, and like most of Kubrick's work I find it way too highly praised, but it surprised me, so for that I'll let it slide by and give it a tentative seal of approval.
Corinne Cross's Dead & Breakfast was a surprisingly nice little game and I had a nice time with it. Very simple, but it told some cute and sad stories that really pulled at my heartstrings a bit. There is so much media that is cynical, sarcastic, or flippant in these modern times, and it was massively refreshing to play through a game that seemed genuine and sincere. It just told a few simple, honest stories, and it succeeded.
The Timber and God of War where mediocre period dramas, so they where scenic and had nice costume design and somewhat lovely cinematography, but there was no reason to care about any of these characters or their goals, so the final outcome of both these movies did not seem to matter too much to me. Though I didn't mind seeing Josh Peck in The Timber, he did a decent job, and his character's somewhat out of place dramatic dialogue where a nice balance to the rest of the movie.
The Descent was disappointing... I had high hopes because I've heard so many positive reviews, and it had plenty of good things going for it. I liked the cast a lot, and the setting was perfect. Atmospheric, and traveling through tiny cave systems is terrifying even without deadly creatures. However the whole movie after a certain point was so shrill- the creatures screamed constantly, more often and more loudly than the people in distress, and every jump scare had loud "scary" music with it. It broke my immersion and ruined the tension of a lot of the scary parts. I guess I just wanted it to be a little more chill, since it seemed to be doing fine holding tension without all the extraneous noise.
Not a lot to say here, but Temple and Nightworld where both boring, cliché nonsense that did not need to exist at all. Nightworld had the set up for an interesting and genuinely eerie film but wasted all of its potential. I don't know that Temple had any potential to start with. These are not offensive films, they just fail at what they set out to do, assuming they even tried to be good in the first place.
This month I loved The Shape of Water. Some quick downsides to this film: The setting of pre-civil rights era anti-black racism, and yet having non-black main characters, is a trope I've seen in a few different stories, and I think it is poorly done. It is cheap to use the period-appropriate racism to define the villain and set up the main story and yet have nothing to do with the main characters, and I could talk more about the concept but I don't want this to be an even larger wall of text. Needless to say, the movie would have been more effective and moving with a main cast of black actors rather than having them only as mild support and set dressing. That being said, I am 100% down for having the monster movie also be a romance movie, I have been a lover of monsters for ever, and I am so glad this film did well. It is very squarely in my wheelhouse for weird and beautiful films, and there are so many excellent aspects of this film- while it seems like many of del Toro's other films in that I've never been 100% swept away, you can tell this movie was a labor of love and the people making it definitely believed in it and how good it was going to be, and it shows.
Memories of the Sword was great entertainment. I love a good revenge story that reminds us how bitter and unfulfilling revenge is, how revenge does not actually solve problems and often creates them. It is quite the melodrama but I loved it, it was a fun roller coaster, I loved every time someone cried, I loved how nobody in the whole movie could make a good or healthy decision and how they constantly dug their own graves... it seemed to me a lot like The Prestige in that way, a dance of needless obsession, this time set to the tune of a gorgeous martial arts period drama. And of course I will never complain about seeing Byung-Hun Lee in anything. He was fantastic here, as where Kim Go-Eun and Do-yeon Jeon.
Final in the movie category, Atomic Blonde was a stylish, electrifying treat. I didn't know what to think going in- it started out pretty harsh and for a moment I was worried I was in for another I Saw the Devil, a lesson in unflinching horrific violence that I didn't need to learn twice. But it was a couple notches lower than that, and also quite visually stunning, and most importantly, the action was pretty darn cool. I get really picky when it comes to action movies, how they cut shots and film action scenes can make or break a movie, completely take the wind out of a well choreographed scene. But this film pulls off some beautiful stuff, and it's worth having to see James McAvoy be somewhat boring for way too much of this movie. Setting the story to the tension of late 80's Berlin was effective at creating a sense of high stakes without having to focus too much on making a story we'd care about more than seeing Charlize Theron murder people in style (an impossible task). I was a little unimpressed with how much nudity was in it, because I think movies that will show off women's bodies but not give any frontal male nudity are made by cowards. :) But it was still worth watching, and I was left feeling like I'd found a legit good non-martial arts action film for once.
Technobabylon was the stand-out video game in May. It had a phenomenal story and wonderful characters- one of those rare games that raises the bar for writing in the industry, providing an in-depth story, excellent world building, and quality characterization, that can be enjoyed even by those who are not into gaming. It does suffer a little bit from adventure game syndrome, having a few silly or downright ridiculous puzzle "solutions" which are rather annoying. But that's a small part of the game, and if it's too much of a hassle, this game can be watched in the format of a let's play or commentary free walkthrough on youtube and be enjoyed just as well.
The Broken Girls was sold to me as a horror novel similar to IT. I haven't read or seen IT but from what I understand of the story, The Broken Girls is much more similar to The Woman In Black, with some classic detective story thrown in. At a certain point I just couldn't put the book down and I read maybe 4 hours straight to the end. It was a heartfelt and touching story and I really appreciated it, I wish there where more stories like this. It goes to show that we can have thoughtful, in-depth stories about crime and violence that involve women without also exploiting women characters or misusing sexist tropes for drama.
JAN /FEB / MARCH
This section is a mess because my early 2018 was a mess, but I'll get it all written up eventually.
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