Nocturnal Animals

The second part of my Amy Adams double bill was Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals, and wow, I enjoyed this even more than I thought I would. I liked Ford’s first film, A Single Man, quite a bit, but mostly for its luscious look. This film also looks quite nice, but it’s not what really grabbed me about it — I was surprisingly quite invested in what ends up being a “story within a story.” It’s in fact those sequences that I enjoyed the most, with fantastic work by Jake Gyllenhaal (an actor I quite like in general) and Michael Shannon.

Arrival

Without even planning it, I ended up doing an Amy Adams double bill last night, starting with Arrival. I was quite looking forward to watching this — not only because I’ve had so many friends tell me they enjoyed it, but also because I am such a fan of Denis Villeneuve’s films (especially Enemy). And yes, I enjoyed the fuck out of this. It’s smart, beautifully shot, with a story that keeps you guessing until the very end — and it really does all come together nicely. Very much recommended, and it makes me that much more excited for Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049.

Belle de Jour

So it didn’t take long after finishing my 1985 movie marathon that I got in the mood to explore another year’s releases, and this time I’ve decided to go back even further, to 1967 — I picked ’67 for the simple reason that it marks a 50 year jump back. I’m definitely not going to shoot for 30 movies this time, probably 10-15, and I started with a movie I remember quite enjoying, and that’s Luis Bunuel’s Belle de Jour. I’m glad to say I enjoyed it just as much as I remembered (the last time I watched it was probably 20 years ago). It’s deliciously weird and odd, with an ending I still quite like.

Katherine Ryan: In Trouble

I’d never heard of Katherine Ryan, but I saw her Netflix comedy special, In Trouble, pop up while I was browsing for something to watch and was in the mood for some laughs. I ended up really enjoying her routine — I definitely do tend to enjoy crass comedy from female comics (think Sarah Silverman, Ali Wong, Amy Schumer). Ends up she’s Canadian and has been based in the UK for a few years, which probably explains why I hadn’t heard of her. Definitely worth watching, very funny.

Finding Dory

So following Moana, I watched the latest Pixar film, hoping that I’d be into it — I say this because I’ve started losing interest in Pixar films, as I wasn’t crazy about Inside Out, and I still haven’t found myself wanting to watch The Good Dinosaur. The verdict? It was pretty good, I liked it fine. I was actually feeling a bit uncomfortable at first, as I wasn’t into the tragic note that it starts on (I get quite sensitive with films that deal with mental health). But it eventually turned into a pretty fun ride. I didn’t love it, but I’m glad I watched it. My favorite character was the weird seal.

Moana

I did a Disney double bill tonight by watching Moana and Finding Dory back-to-back. Starting with Moana, you can’t find fault in the brilliant visuals, and it was mostly fine in terms of keeping my interest, but I wasn’t particularly engaged. I didn’t care for all of the songs, so the movie constantly lost me during those bits — especially the ballads. It’s the same thing that bugged me with Frozen — I’m fine with watching a musical, but it’s a bummer when you really don’t care about any of the songs. I’d say my favorite sequence was the coconut attack. And anything with the crazy chicken.

The Manga Concierge

Anne Ferrero is one of my favorite creators of video content (Branching Paths, Toco Toco TV) and she has just launched yet another series you can watch on YouTube called The Manga Concierge. As the title suggests, each episode takes a look at a few manga series. The first episode is themed on games, and includes the titles Banjo no Polaris (about chess), Final Re:Quest (inspired by Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, with art that looks like an 8-bit game), and Gutshot (about poker).

Doctor Strange

I was looking forward to watching this pretty much because of the sequences I saw in the ads with the Escher-like city transformations. So let’s start with the good: The movie does indeed present some action sequences that are quite novel, from those aforementioned city manipulations to the fight in Hong Kong that takes place while time is reversing. I did quite like watching those bits, but the rest left me a bit bored. I’m so tired of seeing a hero’s origin retold in film, and we do have to spend a lot of time going through the setup, before we get to the fun stuff. The worst though is what they did with the Ancient One, and just a lot of the characters in general — it’s just a bummer to see a bunch of non-Asian people dressed in Asian garb, feels off in this day and age.

Like it’s 1985

So I started the year by watching 30 movies from 1985, over a period of a month and a half. Why? Good question. It sorta happened by accident.

During one of the first days of January, I watched The Goonies with my wife (she had never seen it), and not only did we have a really fun time watching it, but it got us talking about how movies of that era felt so different — with Goonies specifically, it’s the innocence of the kids (which you see depicted in Stranger Things) and the silly adventure. After noticing that it came out in 1985, I was curious and so checked out Box Office Mojo’s list of movies from that year, which got me thinking that it would be fun to revisit a bunch of them, most of them films I hadn’t watched since back then.

There was no method to my madness, I just picked stuff I was in the mood to watch — not necessarily the top grossing movies of the year, but most of them were. I also didn’t really know how many I’d end up watching, but the more I watched, the more I enjoyed this cultural time warp back to 1985, and so I just kept going until I got to 30, which I felt was a good number to stop at. I could have still watched more — I was planning on also watching American Ninja, Missing in Action 2, Out of Africa, and even Cat’s Eye, as well as a few more — but thought it would be good to move on to other things. I did keep track of all the movies I watched in my Debaser diary, and so you’ll find the full alphabetical list below (or just click on my “1985” tag).

  1. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
  2. Back to the Future
  3. Brazil
  4. Brewster’s Millions
  5. Clue
  6. Commando
  7. Fletch
  8. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
  9. Fright Night
  10. Invasion U.S.A.
  11. Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
  12. National Lampoon’s European Vacation
  13. Phenomena
  14. Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment
  15. Pray for Death
  16. Rambo: First Blood Part II
  17. Ran
  18. Red Sonja
  19. Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins
  20. Rocky IV
  21. Spies Like Us
  22. St. Elmo’s Fire
  23. Teen Wolf
  24. The Black Cauldron
  25. The Breakfast Club
  26. The Goonies
  27. The Jewel of the Nile
  28. Weird Science
  29. Witness
  30. Young Sherlock Holmes