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Added by Michael S on 4 Dec 2013 12:01
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AesthetiX Movie Journal: 12/13

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Aesthetix Choice

The movies that caught my eye, aroused my curiosity or just happened to be in the right place at the right time while I was surfing Netflix or Comcast. I do have every intention of taking in some Christmas fare this month yet how much remains to be seen.
People who added this item 100 Average listal rating (72 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.1

Synopsis: A self-centered cattleman finds more than he bargained for when he and his partner hook up with a wagon train en route to Alaska.

This Anthony Mann western has a different flavor to it from the other Stewart movies I've seen, as does his character Jeff Webster. He's colder, more distant and takes absolutely no bullshit from anyone. While he's loyal to his partner-of-years (played by Walter Brennan), he'd just as soon not get involved with anyone else or their troubles.

Yet time and circumstance have a way of changing a person and this film is about just what it will take to change Webster. Taking place at the beginning of the Yukon goldrush days, it's a perfect setting for a time when lawlessness sets up shop before the law can be established. Where there's gold, there's greed and where there's greed...well, you get the picture.

There are many familiar faces here, including Jack Elam and Harry Morgan, and the movie is very well done. I can't say that I like it as much as other of Stewart's movies but I like it nonetheless.
Michael S's rating:
People who added this item 24 Average listal rating (15 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 6.1

Synopsis: Carlo Cofield (Tony Curtis), a drifter who loses his car and all of his possessions in a freak accident within minutes of arriving at the coast, finds himself submerged in the 60's California beach lifestyle, a love triangle and a new job as a pool salesman.

Imagine my surprise when I sit down with my first cup of morning coffee, turn on the TV and find this movie just beginning on TCM. As the vestiges of sleep slowly slipped away, my curiosity arose at the image of Tony Curtis getting out of his car at an overlook of the California coast. Minutes later, the introduction of the ever-beautiful Claudia Cardinale had me sold; I was hooked. I had no idea what this movie was about or even what it was but I was hooked.

I absolutely adore Claudia and have always enjoyed watching Curtis, too. Don't Make Waves is a zany blend of sex farce and beach party genres and this late-60's gem also showcases the likes of Sharon Tate and Robert Webber. This was a most-welcome visual breakfast and loads of fun, right up to the cataclysmically-hilarious final scene.
Michael S's rating:
People who added this item 13 Average listal rating (5 ratings) 3.6 IMDB Rating 4.2

Synopsis: When he is suspended from his university job for his outlandish ideas, Professor John Venkenheim leads a documentary film crew to the rim of the Arctic Circle in a desperate effort to vindicate his academic reputation. His theory: Mary Shelley's ghastly story, "Frankenstein," is, in fact, a work of non-fiction disguised as fantasy.

Okay, the fact that it's one of those found-footage movies should have been enough for me to give up within minutes (or seconds) of starting this but I held on. I'll admit that I was curious; the cover photo and title contributed to this for the most part. We all know what happened to the cat though...curiosity be damned.

This is the most boring film I've seen in ages and, as usual, with this type no one could act their way out of an air pocket. An interesting theory for a plot is ALL this has going for it; you're better off writing your own story.

Don't waste your time...
Michael S's rating:
People who added this item 218 Average listal rating (161 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.6
El Dorado (1967)

Synopsis: Cole Thornton, a gunfighter for hire, joins forces with an old friend, Sheriff J.P. Hara. Together with an old Indian fighter and a gambler, they help a rancher and his family fight a rival rancher that is trying to steal their water.

Not sure just why I chose to watch this tonight, but I was flipping channels and it was just beginning on AMC. I've seen this movie countless times over the years and could probably speak half the lines along with the actors. Can you tell I like it?

It's one of my favorites from Wayne and has a great cast to back him up, too. It's also incredibly similar to Rio Bravo, another Wayne movie, in many ways. I love that one, as well. However I would say that this one is a bit better. It's a bit more fleshed out story-wise and the acting's a notch higher, too.

Linus had his blanket and I have certain movies that I revisit time and again - movies that just make me feel good when I'm watching them. El Dorado is one of those films.
Michael S's rating:
People who added this item 509 Average listal rating (317 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.7
Cape Fear (1962)

Synopsis: An extremely violent ex-con is determined to exact revenge upon the lawyer he blames for his incarceration.

Finally, after years of telling myself, "You really need to watch this movie," I actually did earlier today. Now bear in mind that I haven't seen the remake w/ De Niro either but there's no way that I'll believe that it's better than this! I love Robert D (well maybe not quite as much as others do...) yet we're talking about Peck (one of the three greatest film stars EVER!) and Mitchum, who's no slouch himself.

Actually Robert Mitchum as Max Cady is one of the most bad-assed mothers I've ever seen onscreen! Eeeee-vvvuuulll...(imagine little music notes around that, would you?)

Anyway, Peck is as masterful as ever and this is one of the best films I've ever seen and a personal favorite now. Cape Fear is every bit the psychological thriller and just as worthy of note and discussion as Hitchcock's Psycho. It was a thrill, too, seeing Telly Savalas (with HAIR!) as the P.I. and Martin Balsam as the police chief.

I highly recommend this! 9 STARS!
Michael S's rating:
People who added this item 117 Average listal rating (76 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 6.4

Synopsis:Seductive vampire Carmilla Karnstein and her family target the beautiful and the rich a remote area of late 18th century Gemany.

Hammer's retelling of the classic novella Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu is fairly faithful yet it is most notable for the inclusion of Ingrid Pitt and Peter Cushing as part of the cast...and the infamous sponge-bath scene w/ Ingrid. This is my first time viewing this and, while I enjoyed it as I do almost all of the Hammer films, I'd have to say that it falls somewhere in the middle of them (ratings-wise) for me.

Ingrid and the other ladies of the cast are lovely and there's plenty of sensuality and skin in the Hammer tradition. I loved seeing Cushing, even if it was in a diminished role from what I'm used to. I'm glad that I finally watched this first installment in Hammer's Karnstein series; I enjoyed it and would recommend it to other Hammer lovers but, perhaps, not to everyone.

This is old-school horror and compared to the genre films of today it's rather tame; more of a drama than a shockfest...but I prefer those myself.
Michael S's rating:
People who added this item 1372 Average listal rating (925 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.2

Synopsis:A freelancing former US intelligence agent joins other mercenaries and tries to track down a mysterious package that is wanted by both the Irish and the Russians.

Everyone raves over De Niro's other films but I rarely hear this one being praised as it stands in the shadow of his earlier works. Personally, I love him in this; his character is older, wiser and takes absolutely no bullshit. Reno, Skarsgard and Pryce are good here, as well.

Reno and De Niro's characters stand out from the rest here; their assessment of one another immediately forms mutual respect and as the tale progresses they become the centerpiece of a rather interesting tale that is much more than a 'heist film'.
Michael S's rating:
People who added this item 347 Average listal rating (226 ratings) 5.2 IMDB Rating 5.4

Synopsis:A group of teenagers look to save their town from an invasion of North Korean soldiers.

I'd been putting this off because of the number of bad reviews that I've read. I wish that I hadn't because the bad press was unwarranted; this remake of the cult 80's movie was well done and highly enjoyable. I daresay that I might watch it again soon.

While I liked the original (with all it's failings and rough edges), 2012's remake was even better in every way- and more believable.
Michael S's rating:
People who added this item 765 Average listal rating (509 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 7.8
Duck Soup (1933)

Synopsis: Rufus T. Firefly is named president/dictator of bankrupt Freedonia and declares war on neighboring Sylvania over the love of wealthy Mrs. Teasdale.

This was my first Marx Brothers feature (supposedly one of their best) and while I realize they are celebrated icons of Hollywood, I found this film to be less than I'd hoped. Perhaps the hype was too great or perhaps this band of Old Hollywood comedic actors just aren't my cup of tea.

Though there were parts of the movie that I found funny, for the most part it just did not hold my interest. I'm not knocking it...but I did find it a bit overrated. To each his (or her) own.
Michael S's rating:
People who added this item 133 Average listal rating (92 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.6

Synopsis:In 1926, as China teeters on the edge of political revolution in the midst of a civil war, the USS San Pablo, is ordered to patrol the Yangtze River to represent and protect American interests.

Though it's not my favorite McQueen film (by far) it is rather well done. The cast is filled with familiar faces of the time period, including a young Candice Bergen, and were enjoyable to watch. Yet I found myself drifting (just a bit) here and there. It is a solid movie though.
Michael S's rating:
People who added this item 2091 Average listal rating (1304 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.5
Hugo (2011)

Synopsis:Twelve-year-old Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric girl and the owner of a small toy booth in the train station, Hugo's undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy.

Though Hugo took home 5 wins at the 2012 Academy Awards, the makers of this wondrous film found themselves ousted from the more coveted categories by The Artist and The Iron Lady. While I have yet to see either of these films, it seems a shame because Hugo is magnificent.

Awards such as for Visual Effects or Sound Mixing seem mere consolation prizes to me when compared to Best Picture, Director, Actor, etc... perhaps that's just me or perhaps those films actually deserved them more. I can't say, as yet, but it still seems a pity.

Martin Scorsese helms the creation of a film that is truly magical and an immeasurable departure from the gritty, intense and dark dramas that have been the norm for him. I was more than pleasantly surprised and hope to see more of this ilk from him in the future. As well, the cast and crew (indeed everyone involved) weave an enchanting spell that left me smiling and oh-so satisfied.

Michael S's rating:
People who added this item 189 Average listal rating (127 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 6.7
The Hunter (2011)

Synopsis:Martin, a mercenary, is sent from Europe by an anonymous biotech company to the Tasmanian wilderness on a hunt for the last Tasmanian tiger.

I've been meaning to watch this since stumbling across it on Netflix some time ago; knowing no more than the above synopsis and the fact that it starred Willem Dafoe was enough for me. I had no preconceptions about this film and, perhaps, that was for the best.

Dafoe has been a favorite of mine for years and I was pleasantly surprised to see Sam Neill in a supporting role, too. I'm even more surprised to find this film rated so low for I found it to be a soulful departure from the mainstream.

This film definitely deserves a proper review so I'm going to save any further comments for that and post a link here. Suffice to say, I highly recommend it and most certainly will watch it again in the future.

Full review
Michael S's rating:
People who added this item 962 Average listal rating (630 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.6

Synopsis:A US Navy Seal team are sent into Nigeria, amidst a civil war, to rescue a doctor from a jungle mission and (if they so wish) a priest and two nuns. Yet the doctor refuses to leave without the 70-odd refugees that are there, as well.

(I decided to watch this with a friend who had never seen it and though I've viewed this movie many times, I never get tired of watching it. Needless to say, she enjoyed it, as well.)

Tears of the Sun is, without a doubt, one of the best war films ever made and one of Willis' best to-date. It is also, however loosely, based upon a real-life mission.

The grim demeanor exhibited by the Seal team is a stark counterpoint to the fear and despair of the refugees; the very-real threat of the rebel soldiers and the atrocities they commit offers a third, however dissident one. The finished product is not unlike a musical score; all finely balanced and executed with interwoven drama and action to provide a truly awesome film.

For any fan of Bruce Willis or, indeed, the war genre of film this is not to be missed.

Full review
Michael S's rating:
People who added this item 102 Average listal rating (65 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.3

Synopsis:Call Northside 777 is a 1948 documentary-style film noir directed by Henry Hathaway. It is based on the true story of a Chicago reporter who proved that a man in prison for murder was wrongly convicted 11 years before.

Jimmy Stewart will forever remain one of my favorite actors; the guy is a legend and one of the greatest actors of all time...definitely in the top three. I have yet to see one of his films that I did not enjoy.

While I can't regard this film as one of his best, it's still interesting and highly satisfying. Stewart's ability to play the 'everyman' character shines here no less brightly than in his other roles.

As P.J. MacNeal, reporter for the Chicago Times, he is assigned a story by his editor (played by Lee J. Cobb) that he really has no interest in. Yet his skepticism vanishes as he meets resistance from the police and state attorney's office in his quest for the truth and he becomes a man driven not only by his reporter's instincts but by common decency.

I would recommend this to anyone, especially if you're a Stewart fan.
Michael S's rating:
People who added this item 208 Average listal rating (146 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.4

Synopsis:An international crew of astronauts undertakes a privately funded mission to search for life on Jupiter's fourth largest moon.

I'm not sure what I expected upon watching this one and I'm not even sure what they were striving for while making it. The film starts out agonizingly slow and barely picks up any speed at all throughout. I almost stopped watching this to find something else but, patiently, I held on till the end. It did not help matters that I recognized absolutely no one in the cast, save for Embeth Davidtz who only appears in brief cameos.

Europa is of the 'shaky-cam' variety that has become so popular (and which I despise) but without most of the shaking. As in the title, the bulk of the film is the mission's transmitted Report, with inserted segments from mission control personnel.

The few interesting moments in the film aren't even an echo of the word 'suspenseful' and evoked only mild interest from me. I kept waiting for it to take off but it never did. I truly think that this film could have been so much more than it was and, while I wouldn't ask for my money back (had I paid any) I won't be rewatching it again.
Michael S's rating:
People who added this item 1330 Average listal rating (811 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8

Synopsis:A princess plays hooky from her royal duties for 24 hours with a reporter.

I thought I would treat myself, since it's my birthday, and what better way than to watch my favorite actor & actress in one of the greatest movies ever made.

I'd read somewhere that the lead roles were originally intended for Cary Grant and Elizabeth Taylor; while I respect both for their talent and accomplishments I, for one, am quite glad that things turned out as they did. I'm not sure I would have enjoyed this film nearly as much.

Peck is the quintessential leading man and Hepburn the epitome of a leading lady; Roman Holiday, while not my favorite film by either, proved to be a perfect vehicle for both. A truly amazing film and a joy that I shall make a point to experience again.
Michael S's rating:
People who added this item 1157 Average listal rating (820 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.7
Event Horizon (1997)

Synopsis:A rescue crew investigates a spaceship that disappeared into a black hole and has now returned...with someone or something new on-board.

Event Horizon combines two genres that were made for each other, sci-fi & horror, yet the plot itself is nothing new. Ship vanishes, ship returns, another ship is sent to investigate/rescue and finds...

With a cast of capable actors, a decent script, etc..this film is pretty good; it's certainly better than Sphere or Contact, which came out roughly around the same time. The elements which seemed to have been pulled from Hellraiser were a pleasant surprise for me, too.

Yet it seemed to get away from itself towards the end, never realizing it's full potential and going a bit overboard. While the first part of the film was suspenseful and building towards a climax the finale felt....rushed and unsatisfying. Still a decent movie though and I'm glad I finally watched it.
Michael S's rating:
People who added this item 11 Average listal rating (8 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 5.9
The Four (2012)

Synopsis:During the Song dynasty, four constables with special powers must do battle with a rival law enforcement agency, spies, a sinister villain and the undead to thwart a counterfeit currency plot that threatens to bring down the empire.

Another night of Netflix and this was the description which lured me in, along with three screen stills. I found it to be quite an impressive offering and a perfect fit for my mood. Adventure films are among my favorite genres and Gordon Chan's first installment of this planned trilogy kept me riveted throughout; indeed, it drew my son in as he spared it a passing glance while walking through the room.

Interesting characters & story offered up by a fine cast and crew have insured that I will eagerly await the next installment. This has everything that a good adventure film needs and was a fine diversion for me while it lasted; I honestly hated to see it end.
Michael S's rating:
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Synopsis:Bored and unhappy with the life of being The Pumpkin King, Jack Skellington of Halloween Town, sets out to find something exciting. Jack discovers Christmas Town and takes it upon himself to take over the duties of Santa to deliver toys across the world to children.

A Christmas favorite of mine that I seem to end up watching every year about this time. I watched this with my granddaughter who fell asleep during part of it but (cut her some slack) she's only 4 months old. ;D

God, I love Burton! And Jack Skellington, too.....
Michael S's rating:
People who added this item 2286 Average listal rating (1477 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.6

Synopsis:An angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed.

What is there to say about this film that has not already been said one hundred times over? Suffice to say that it's been so long since I'd watched this that it was almost brand new for me. Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed are absolutely wonderful and I can't for the life of me imagine two others playing these roles.

I'm truly glad I thought to watch this for it turned out to be the perfect ending to an imperfect day.

It's a Wonderful Life isn't just one of the best Christmas movies ever made; it is one of the best period.
Michael S's rating:
People who added this item 397 Average listal rating (285 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.7
Rare Exports (2010)

Synopsis:A group of local reindeer herders living near the Korvatunturi mountain discover the secret behind Santa Claus.

This movie isn't a comedy but it had me cracking up in places. It's not that it's funny, it's simply surprisingly outrageous and damned good, with fine acting all around.

Excavations in the mountains unearth a legendary secret, and what a secret it is! I don't know if I'll ever think of Santa Claus (or his helpers) in the same way ever again. ;)

I loved it!!!
Michael S's rating:
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Netflix Instant Project

Movies of lesser renown recommended by others in the aforementioned Project currently streaming on Netflix.
People who added this item 603 Average listal rating (352 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 6.4
The Raven (2012)

Synopsis: When a madman begins committing horrific murders inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's works, a young Baltimore detective joins forces with Poe to stop him from making his stories a reality.

I love John Cusack; he's one of my favorite actors but this is a bit out of his element. This film had so many things going for it and it seemed to be one tailor-made for me personally, too. A fictionalization of the final days of one of my favorite poets, Poe, played by one of my favorite actors, Cusack. It is a gothic thriller, a period piece and a murder mystery. It even co-stars Brendan Gleeson and Luke Evans, both of whom do a fine job. Yet it left me wanting.

Cusack is completely out of character here and his trademark sardonic wit is absent. The movie is slow to find it's way and pick up steam, too. The second half is much better than the first but it's still much less than it could have been.
Michael S's rating:
People who added this item 165 Average listal rating (101 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.6

Synopsis:The deranged adventures of Gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson and his attorney Oscar Acosta, referred to in the movie as "Laslow".

I'm surprised that I'd never seen this before now, as I like Bill Murray. I know little of Thompson though. Oddly enough, considering the character he was playing, Murray (who is known for his antics onscreen) seemed rather subdued to me compared to his other films. It was nice seeing him playing opposite Peter Boyle (Lazlo) but there didn't seem to be a great deal of chemistry; perhaps this can be attributed to the script, which seemed to meander about.

I'm not saying it's bad, mind you, but it runs in fits and starts like a motor with a tank of bad gas. There are some good gags like the dog who attacks the crotch of the dummy wearing the Nixon mask and the fire extinguisher scene on the plane but overall it just didn't grab me and hold on.

I still haven't seen Depp's portrayal of Thompson either and I wonder how it relates to Murray's. I guess I can say that I liked this movie but it's certainly not my favorite Murray vehicle and not his best either.
Michael S's rating:
People who added this item 295 Average listal rating (197 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.4

Synopsis:As murder follows murder, beautiful Maria is the obvious suspect; bumbling Inspector Clouseau drives his boss mad by seeing her as plainly innocent.

This sequel to Edwards '63 extravaganza The Pink Panther, while a good film in and of itself, is (for me) a letdown when compared to it's predecessor. Elke Sommer is a poor substitue for the likes of Claudia Cardinale and Capucine. Likewise there is no one in the cast to fill the void left by David Niven and Robert Waqner; indeed, where Niven played the perfect foil for Sellers' Clouseau, in this sequel his archnemesis seems to be himself more than anyone.

The inclusion of the characters Dreyfuss and Kato brought a smile to my face, as did some of the gags, but (overall) I just wasn't all that impressed. The original is still the best of the lot but I enjoyed the later films more than this one.

I will say this though, this film possesses one of my favorite lines. When Clouseau is in his office w/ LaJoy discussing the 'facts' of the case, his hand becomes stuck in the spinning globe and, once freed, he says, "Look at that. I have Africa all over my hand."

For some reason that just cracks me up. ;)

Note:After a bit of thought, I changed my rating from 6 to 7 (it was a good movie) but the rest of my thoughts still hold true.
Michael S's rating:
People who added this item 33 Average listal rating (19 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 7.1

This film is exactly what you would expect it to be, various screenwriters extolling/lamenting their profession in a cut & paste format. This could prove of more than passing interest to a student of film but to the average viewer it will probably seem a bit repetitious and overlong. For myself, I fall somewhere in between.

Yet aside from inclusion of the legendary John Carpenter, I had no idea who any of these people were. As is all too often the case, the directors and actors receive the attention and accolades while the screenwriter who gives birth to the film hands it over to it's surrogate parents and watches from the shadowed wings.

I sympathize, truly I do. But I need more for my breakfast than just eggs; give me bacon, give me hashbrowns, give me liberty or give me death. ;P

Ah, never mind, this beats Battledogs by a mile!
Michael S's rating:
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Not that this happens all that often but occasionally I do find a movie that is just so bad or at such diametric opposition to my state of mind or mood that I cannot finish.
People who added this item 10 Average listal rating (7 ratings) 4.3 IMDB Rating 3.5
Battledogs (2013)

(in lieue of a pic, I offer this- it's much more interesting

Synopsis:When a strange werewolf virus threatens to decimate first New York and then the world, a rogue general uses the disease to create an army of super-soldiers.

It was mainly curiosity that had me even try this movie on Netflix. I just knew it was going to be bad but couldn't help myself after seeing that the cast included the likes of Dennis Haysbert and Wes Studi, not to mention Ernie Hudson, Bill Duke and Craig Sheffer....okay, maybe not Sheffer but the others...yeah.

I guess we all have bills to pay. Truth be told, I would have had to have been paid myself to finish this one. I think I made it twenty minutes...maybe. The werewolves looked more like were-boars and the cast just looked...bored.

If you find yourself in the mood for a seriously good werewolf flick, I recommend you go old-school classic and choose The Wolf Man or, if you really want a thrill, try the adrenaline-charged gorefest Dog Soldiers.
Michael S's rating:

Ratings breakdown
★★★★★- 4
★★★★☆- 4
★★★★- 7
★★★☆- 5
★★★- 3
★★☆- 1

Genre breakdown:
Action: 1
Adventure/Fantasy: 2
Animated: 1
Comedy: 4
Documentary: 1
Drama: 3
Horror: 4
Romance: 1
Sci-Fi: 2
Thriller: 3
War: 2
Western: 2

Added to

12 votes
2013 Movies Diaries I'm Following (51 lists)
list by Michael M
Published 11 years, 3 months ago 1 comment

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