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Film On Something

On Film: The 30-day Film Challenge

Back in May I saw a friend of mine share on Twitter that he was starting something called the “30-day Film Challenge,” and so I decided to give it a go as well. You are basically to answer a question a day by highlighting a film, following the instructions below.

Below, a round-up of my 30 answers.

The first film I remember watching? I don’t really have a memory of it, but I’ve been told by my parents that Dumbo was the first movie I watched. I have vague memories of seeing the original Star Wars though.

Favorite movie that starts with the first letter of my name? That’s pretty easy, Jodorowsky’s Dune is one of my all-time favorite movies. A fascinating look at what could have been — and it’s maybe even for the best that it was never completed, because it later gave us The Incal.

A film with a title that’s over 5 words? Well, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension is a pretty good one at 9. This is also making me want to revisit this movie, haven’t watched it in decades.

A movie with a number in the title? I guess I’m cheating a bit by highlighting a trilogy, but I was absolutely obsessed with Kieslowski’s Three Colors trilogy, and can’t remember if I liked one more than another. I’d also add his terrific 10-part Decalogue series.

A film with a character that has a job I want? The September Issue is a fantastic documentary, and despite loving working in the games industry, I still sometimes dream of producing a magazine, from top to bottom.

My favorite animated film? That one’s too easy, Akira. I didn’t even have to think about it. It’s also one of my favorite films of all time, period — I even included in the list of “5 perfect films” I recently shared.

A film I never tire of? Outside of the Bond films, The Breakfast Club is the one film that I revisit regularly (probably every couple of years), and still enjoy it just as much as I first did every single time. Certainly a timeless film for me.

A film where I liked the soundtrack more? I can’t think of one, since for me soundtrack goes hand in hand with the movie. If I was to highlight one though, it would probably have to be Reservoir Dogs.

A film I hate that everyone likes? Hate is a strong word, but I’m pretty indifferent to the Harry Potter movies — I’ve seen them all, and don’t particularly care for any of them.

My favorite superhero movie? I could point to stuff like Logan, the first Deadpool movie, the first Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor Ragnarok, or Nolan’s The Dark Knight, but I don’t think anything has been as visually stunning and satisfying as Into the Spider-verse.

A movie I like from a genre I don’t like? I guess I don’t much care for rom coms in general, but I sure love Pretty in Pink.

A film I hate from my favorite genre? I don’t like highlighting things I hate, and fave genre is hard to define, but if I were to pick action/adventure as the genre, my most disappointing film would probably be Crystal Skull, since the Indy series is something I love so much.

A film that put me in deep thoughts? I still have fond memories of seeing Lost Highway in the theater with my roommates, and then going to a diner after to discuss what the hell we had just watched.

A film that depressed me? I don’t know if Grave of the Fireflies is a good answer, but even though I think it’s a very well made film, I’ve never rewatched this because of how sad it made me feel.

A film that makes me happy? I think there are many, but it’s hard to go wrong with Totoro, which is also still my favorite Ghibli film.

A film that’s personal to me? Not really sure how to approach this. I guess maybe Breakfast Club is a movie that really speaks to me, but I don’t want to repeat movies in this thing, so for some reason, Hal Hartley’s Flirt is popping into my head.

My favorite film sequel? I mean, can there be any other answer than Evil Dead 2? Groovy.

A film that stars my favorite actor? Not quite sure why, but when I think about who could be my favorite actor, Jake Gyllenhaal comes to mind. I really enjoy so many of his performances, and his role picks. Sure, Donnie Darko is a classic, but I’ll highlight Enemy.

A film by my favorite director? Currently my favorite director is probably Denis Villeneuve, but one name that comes to mind from my decades of movie watching is Zhang Yimou, and I’ll highlight Raise the Red Lantern.

A film that changed my life? After 2 years at university (studying math) I freaked out, not happy. Watching The Last Emperor got me to take a class in Chinese history the next semester, which led to a History Major, which led to Asian Studies, which sent me to China, and eventually Japan.

A film I dozed off while watching? It’s never happened, and until recently I’ve always been pretty adamant about finishing movies I start. But my stance on this has changed recently, and Detective Pikachu was a movie that I stopped watching after about 15 minutes because I was bored.

A film that made me angry? A Life Less Ordinary is what comes to mind. I was so excited to see it, being such a fan of Danny Boyle, and the whole time watching it I just couldn’t stand it. It’s the only time I remember really wanting to walk out of the theatre halfway through.

A film by a director who has passed away? I was going to highlight Satoshi Kon and Perfect Blue, but there’s no denying that Alfred Hitchcock is one of my favorite filmmakers, and there are so many films of his I love. I highlight Vertigo, but could have been many more.

A film I wish I saw in theaters? Having a hard time with this one as I don’t go to the theater much anymore (mostly prefer watching movies at home), but do go see special things like Bond and Star Wars movies. I would have said Akira, but used that already, so how about Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell.

A film I like not set in this current era? There are many movies I’ve already highlighted that would fit the bill, but let’s bring in the visual feast that is Ran.

A film I like that is adapted from somewhere? There are so many great films based on books, so I’ll just pick Fight Club, because why not.

A film that’s visually striking? I find In the Mood for Love to be one of the most beautiful and stylish things ever.

A film that made me feel uncomfortable? I’m sure there are many, but Irréversible is what immediately came to mind.

A film that makes me want to fall in love? Pretty easy answer for me. I do quite like the entire trilogy, but the first one, Before Sunrise, is absolutely the best.

A film with my favorite ending? Feels like it’s easier to remember the bad ones than the good ones. But if I was to highlight the most memorable one, it has to be Planet of the Apes (the original one).

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Debaser Film

Caddyshack

Well, this is one of these revisits that I feel went against my fond memories of the film. Can’t say I really enjoyed it as much as I thought I would. I think the biggest offender is Chevy Chase, whose character here just annoyed me — nothing he does makes any sense, and even worse, it’s just not really funny. Murray is wacky, but it’s not all that funny either as it’s too cartoony. Sure, it has its moments here and there, but overall it was a disappointment.

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Debaser Film

Smokey and the Bandit II

I had a good time when I re-watched the first one not that long ago, and this one was pretty fun too. Sure, it’s dumb and ridiculous and over-the-top, but that’s what makes you want to watch it. They sure don’t make movies like this anymore — which is maybe for the best, or maybe not. Either way, I’m a bit surprised at how much I’m enjoying this 1980 re-watch so far.

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Debaser Film

Airplane

How’s this for a double bill — after watching Saturn 3, I immediately followed-up with this. I guess I needed a silly comedy as a chaser, and Airplane does indeed fit that bill. I wasn’t expecting much from this re-watch, but instead was pleasantly surprised by just how much I ended up laughing — I feel like when I revisited a Naked Gun film recently, it didn’t feel as enjoyable. It’s maybe because I watched this film so many times as a kid, so the jokes felt like such a pleasant nostalgic flashback. Surely. (And stop calling me Shirley.)

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Debaser Film

Saturn 3

After kicking off my 1980 movie marathon back in February with the original Friday the 13th film, it’s taken until now to watch another movie from 1980, and for some reason I decided to start by watching something I had in fact never watched before. I definitely remember the VHS box, with that imposing robotic silhouette, and I did like sci-fi even back then, but I guess I was never interested enough to watch it (and it was considered a bad movie). So curiosity got the best of me, and I gave it a watch, and I’m glad I did. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a good movie, but it’s an interesting — and definitely weird — one. It’s the execution mostly that fails, but I could see this as being a pretty neat story if it was presented as a graphic novel. It’s also funny to see Harvey Keitel playing a character like this — and I’d say, badly — but I don’t regret at all spending time on this.

Categories
Debaser Film

Friday the 13th (1980)

So here we go, the start of my movie marathon for 1980 — my plan right now is to watch 10-15 movies. I’ve been watching a lot of Friday the 13th movies over the last couple of years (all of the ones released between 1985 and 1989), and so I figured it was about time to watch the one that started it all. I honestly can’t remember if I ever watched it — it’s possible I did at some point, but I had no real memory of it. As I was watching it, I kept thinking, man, it’s amazing that this is what marked the start of such an iconic franchise, since for the most part it’s a pretty bad movie. But then that final sequence happens (the one in the middle of the lake), and that’s when the magic — and the birth of a franchise — happens. But yeah, for the most part, it’s not a very enjoyable film to watch (even with Kevin Bacon in the mix), and although it gets more exciting once Mrs. Voorhees shows up, her performance unfortunately drags it down (or is just too laughable). But hey, it does make me curious to watch the second one, and I guess that’s what all good franchises do, make you look forward to the next one.

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Books Film Games Music TV Web

Favorite Media of 2019

This marks my tenth year doing this annual reflection on my favorite media of the year, which means you can also easily see what my favorite media through the decade was (see 2010201120122013201420152016, 2017, and 2018). As always, this is a look at the media released in 2019 that I was able to consume this year that I enjoyed the most — it’s not a “best” list, and of course it doesn’t include all of the things that were released this year that I haven’t yet had a chance to check out, and that might have made the list if I did. Instead, take it as a big ol’ recommendation list of stuff that came out this past year that I liked, and so you might like it too. Each category kicks off with an alphabetical top 5, and then I include a few honorable mentions if there are other things I would like to highlight.

Favorite Games
I feel like I don’t have as many games in this category as in past years, but I think this is also a reflection of me spending more time playing fewer games. That’s especially the case with Destiny 2 — I could have listed the Shadowkeep expansion to indicate a 2019 release, but instead, I’ve decided to include a “live” game for the first time in my year-end list, since that’s how I’m consuming it (playing through the seasons, etc.) Sayonara Wild Hearts is included here and not in mobile because the best experience of this game for me was through Apple TV with a controller. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe for me was such a revelation because it was the first time I played a Mario game completely in co-op (with two colleagues at work), and it was some of the most fun I’ve ever had playing a Mario game.

  • Destiny 2 (Stadia)
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Switch)
  • New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe (Switch)
  • Sayonara Wild Hearts (Apple TV)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Switch)

Honorable Mentions: Death Stranding (PS4), Far Cry New Dawn (PS4), Luigi’s Mansion 3 (Switch), Super Mario Maker 2 (Switch), Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 (PS4)

Favorite Mobile Games
This is a category that comes and goes, as some years I see myself barely playing anything on mobile (and the stuff that I do play is usually on iPad, although my new iPhone XR has me enjoying playing games on a phone again). This year of course marked the introduction of Apple Arcade, and that got me back into playing mobile games in a big way. Below are my favorites so far, but there are still loads of games I haven’t had a chance to properly play yet.

  • Assemble with Care
  • Grindstone
  • LEGO Builder’s Journey
  • Pilgrims
  • What the Golf?

Honorable Mentions: Card of Darkness, Guildlings, Rayman Mini, Sky: Children of the Light, Steven Universe: Unleash the Light, Tangle Tower, Yaga the Roleplaying Folktale

Favorite Board Games
I introduced this category last year — following my re-entry into having a board game collection (after the purge I did when I left Japan) — and again, I include games from 2018 (that I didn’t include last year) and 2019, since I feel like board game releases are a bit of a slower thing, especially with the way Kickstarter is used.

  • Architects of the West Kingdom
  • Detective: LA Crimes
  • Gorus Maximus
  • Magic: The Gathering
  • Root

Honorable Mentions: Hokkaido, Raids, Tower of Madness

Favorite Movies
Since I spend so much time watching older movies, I do tend to have more trouble coming up with movies that are new releases — and even for this list, six of the titles included I ended up watching over the past week, as I tried to play catch up with 2019 releases. As a bonus, I include my top 5 of movies released in 1989.

  • Booksmart
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
  • The Art of Self-Defence
  • The Irishman

Honorable Mentions: Alita: Battle Angel, Avengers: Endgame, John Wick 3: Parabellum, Joker, Klaus, Midsommar, Missing Link, Ready or Not, Us

Favorite Movies of 1989

  • Dead Poets Society
  • Do the Right Thing
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  • Mystery Train
  • Patlabor: The Movie

Favorite TV
No big surprise, but this year was again a fantastic one for TV. And yes, for the time I’m including a wrestling show — this year marked my return to wrestling fandom in a big way, thanks to the new AEW league, which is absolutely my favorite thing to watch on a weekly basis (and the only one of these shows I watch live).

  • AEW Dynamite
  • Formula 1: Drive to Survive
  • Primal
  • The Mandalorian
  • What We Do in the Shadows

Honorable Mentions: Black Mirror, GameCenter-CX, Game of Thrones, Fleabag, Jack Ryan, John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch, Killing Eve, Love Death + Robots, Patriot Act, Russian Doll, Saturday Night Live, Shameless, Star Trek Discovery, Stranger Things 3, The Boys, The Twilight Zone, The Umbrella Academy, The Witcher, Watchmen

Favorite Web Series
This is another category I introduced in recent years, and this year I feel like my consumption of web shows/content really did explode. And yes, wrestling content takes up a lot of space, with both the AEW and NWA weekly web shows in my top 5, as well as the Being the Elite series, that I binged to completion this year as I played catch up, and then a couple of more channels I follow regularly included in the honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions: Abby Dearest, Archipel (channel), Chris Van Vliet (channel), Formula 1 (channel), Hundred Rabbits, Noclip, The Inside Line, WhatCulture Wrestling (channel), Yoiko no Maru Maru de Maru Maru Seikatsu

Favorite Music
This is a really weird year in music for me. I did listen to a lot of new stuff, but I didn’t really spend a lot of time with most of those records, and so didn’t develop a lot of “loves.” I think it’s telling that according to Apple Music, my top 20 of most played tracks was entirely composed of hard bop — it’s definitely what I listened to the most this past year, and I continue to do so. And in the lead-up to my trip to Japan in November, I spent a month or two pretty much listening exclusively to my old Shibuya-kei favorites (Pizzicato Five, Cornelius, etc.) One of my new year resolutions is definitely to spend more time taking in new music.

  • Flamagra (Flying Lotus)
  • Hyperspace (Beck)
  • I Know You Like It (Shinichiro Yokota)
  • Reward (Cate Le Bon)
  • When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (Billie Eilish)

Honorable Mentions: Beat Tape 09 (Eevee), Juliana Hatfield Sings the Police (Juliana Hatfield), Ladytron (Ladytron), Outer Peace (Toro y Moi)

Favorite Comics
For the first time, I don’t include any honorable mentions in my comics list, and that’s telling. My interest in BDs (bandes-dessinées, or French comics) continues to eclipse my interest in comics, and I’ve seen my weekly reading list go down and down throughout the year. The absolute highpoint is Jonathan Hickman’s House of X and Powers of X series, my favorite comics in years (at least since Hickman’s run on Fantastic Four and Avengers). Dawn of X refers to all of the separate Hickman-curated titles that have launched in its wake (X-Men, New Mutants, X-Force, Excalibur, Fallen Angels, Marauders), which I’m not as enthusiastic about, but still find them to be quite enjoyable (most of them).

  • Dawn of X
  • House of X/Powers of X
  • Peter Cannon Thunderbolt
  • Silver Surfer: Black
  • Superman/Action Comics

Favorite BDs
My rekindled love of BDs (as of last year, when I started going to my local library) continues, and has grown, with this year being easier to include a lot of 2019 releases — although there are still some late-year releases that I’m sure would be included here (like the new Thorgal and XIII) but that I haven’t read yet. I do spend more time reading older releases (reading through a series) than new ones though.

  • Amazonie – Épisode 4
  • La Jeunesse de ThorgalLa dent bleue (7)
  • RenaissanceInterzone (2)
  • Retour sur Aldébaran – Épisode 2
  • SternL’Ouest, le vrai (3)

Honorable Mentions: Alix SenatorLes Spectres de Rome (9), CarthagoLe Pacte du centenaire (9), KatangaDispersion (3), LefrancLune Rouge (30), Soleil FroidL’armée verte (3)

Favorite Podcasts
My rekindled love of wrestling is also evident here (what can I say, I’m hooked), as is my rekindled interest (since the Ayrton Senna era in the 80s) for Formula 1 — ignited by the excellent Netflix series Formula 1: Drive to Survive (which got me excited about watching races again).

  • 8-4 Play
  • Pop Culture Happy Hour
  • Shift+F1
  • The Chris Van Vliet Show
  • WhatCulture Wrestling

Honorable Mentions: All Songs Considered, Monocle 24: The Stack, On Margins

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Film

Like it’s 1989

It took a while to complete it — and I blame Star Trek V for that — but I’m now done with my latest year-based movie marathon (following 1967196819771978198519861987, and 1988) with the below list of 21 movies released in 1989. Why 21? I do usually like to keep it to a round number (10 or 20), and had planned to stop at 20, but then the day I was going to write this post I read a feature in Empire magazine about the madness that was the making of Tango and Cash, and felt like I needed to watch it — it’s also fitting that it came out at the tail end of 1989 (end of December), and so is considered to be the last 80s blockbuster. Below is the full list of the movies I watched, with links to each mini-review I wrote — you can also find them all through the “1989” category. What’s next? Next year I will be hitting 1990, but before that I plan on revisiting 1980 — this whole movie marathon endeavor started with 1985, so I still have the first half of the 80s to revisit.

  1. Back to the Future Part II
  2. Batman
  3. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
  4. Black Rain
  5. Christmas Vacation
  6. Dead Poets Society
  7. Do the Right Thing
  8. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
  9. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
  10. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  11. Lethal Weapon 2
  12. License to Kill
  13. Major League
  14. Mystery Train
  15. Patlabor: The Movie
  16. Police Academy 6: City Under Siege
  17. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
  18. Tango and Cash
  19. The Abyss
  20. The Killer
  21. The Wizard
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Debaser Film

Tango & Cash

I was supposed to be done with my 1989 movie marathon at 20 films (finishing up with Dead Poets Society), but then this morning I read a feature in the latest issue of Empire magazine about the fiasco that was the making of Tango & Cash, and so I just had to watch it. It’s also a movie that came out at the very end of 1989, and so is considered the last blockbuster movie of the 1980s. Was it worth it? Hmmm… Not really, it’s not really good, and that’s the reason I hadn’t included it in my initial selection of movies to watch for that year. But I don’t regret watching it, as it was still fun to see what was described in the article actually happen in the movie — basically, the entire third act, which was pretty much written on the fly.

Categories
Debaser Film

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

This was a bad movie then, and it’s still a bad movie. I’d say it’s the worst Star Trek film ever made. I remember seeing this in the theater at the time, and hating it the whole way through. Optimist that I am (or try to be), I was hoping to find a bit more to like this time around, but nope, it was an incredible chore to get through it, and it’s the main reason my 1989 movie marathon went on hiatus for months — I stopped watching midway, and it took that long to gather the courage to finish it, and continue watching more movies of that era. I don’t ever want to watch this movie again.