Year End…Did I Make it to 300?

Here it is, December 31st and even though I’m still behind on writing my final reviews of the year I didn’t want to let 2013 be heralded in with silence on my end. You may be wondering if I made it to my goal of watching 300 movies in 2012 and I have!

Woooooo!

There are still a few hours before midnight and I’ll probably watch another movie tonight, but I’ll keep movie #300 a surprise (unless you follow me on Facebook) until I get something formal written. I’ll also outline my 2013 goals; I’ve decided on doing something different each month, so that should be a lot of fun!

I want to thank everyone for their support this year, I have had a blast writing about movies I watch, goal or no. I wish you all an amazing 2013!

-Andy

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Love Actually (12/19/12)

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At least eight different, intertwining tales of love at Christmastime in London come together in Love Actually.

The different stories –

  • Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) is an aging rock star looking to stage a comeback with a new Christmas album with the help of his manager, Joe (Gregor Fisher).
  • Juliet (Keira Knightley) marries Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) but learns that Peter’s best friend, Mark (Andrew Lincoln) is in love with her.
  • A writer, Jamie (Colin Firth) finds his girlfriend sleeping with his brother and travels to a remote French cottage where he falls in love with the Portuguese cleaning lady, Aurélia (Lúcia Moniz), who doesn’t speak English.
  • Harry (Alan Rickman) finds himself attracted to his secretary, Mia (Heike Makatsch), and his wife, Karen (Emma Thompson) begins to suspect something when she finds a gift for her.
  • David (Hugh Grant), the new Prime Minister, falls for Natalie (Martine McCutcheon), a member of his household staff.
  • Daniel (Liam Neeson) and his stepson, Sam (Thomas Sangster), mourn the loss of their wife and mother. Sam has also fallen for his American classmate and Daniel decides to help him win her over.
  • Sarah (Laura Linney) has had a crush on a coworker, Karl (Rodrigo Santoro), for years but their relationship is constantly interrupted by calls from her mentally ill brother.
  • Unlucky in love in London, Colin (Kris Marshall) decides to travel to America to find a girl, or girls.
  • John (Martin Freeman) and Judy (Joanna Page) meet while filming as body doubles for various sex scenes.

Wow, do you have all that? It’s not nearly as confusing as it sounds as each of the stories is short and all of them overlap in some way. Characters crop up in different stories and the golden thread of the film is love. Love Actually is surprisingly one of the best romantic comedies I’ve ever seen. Love Actually is incredibly charming, honest, and funny and it’s a Christmas movie to boot. In fact, it’s the only Christmas movie I can think of that has nudity, so that doesn’t hurt.

There is a lot to keep track of in Love Actually and some of the story lines play out better than others, but the film rarely feels like it is trying to pull in too much. The only real disappointment comes if your favorite story lines don’t wrap up as fully as others. The cast is so varied that even if you have an aversion to an actor, they likely aren’t on screen long enough to get under your skin. When I was reviewing Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, I noted that Keira Knightley bothered me in that film, but here she is pleasant.

I had seen Love Actually a few years ago and vaguely remembered a few of the characters and their stories, but the film felt fresh to me. I could see moving Love Actually into regular Christmastime movie rotation, but it’s also complex enough to have it be “new” every few years. Regardless, I know it’s past Christmas but let Love Actually into your heart and onto your screen when the seasons rolls around again next year.

I give it 4 “to me, you are perfect…”s out of 5.

PS – I could not have written this review without the help of Wikipedia.

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Cinephile Interview series with yours truly (and more!)

Alexander at Cinemaniac Reviews has a feature called Cinephile Reviews and he’s been kind enough to interview me. So far, he’s also interviewed A Door Into Movies and Committed to Celluloid. The interviews are all really interesting and give insight into our personalities and movie tastes.

You can read my full interview with Alexander HERE.

Also, while I have your attention, I’d like to take the time and highlight something you may have seen in my sidebar. Andy over at Rorschach Reviews held an award ceremony and I was voted Blogger of the Year! Actually, I won by a single vote so that’s pretty neat too.

I have eight more reviews to write as of right now and I still have one movie left to hit my goal of 300. I’m going to try to get all the reviews done before 2013 hits, but I’m not sure if I’ll swing that. If nothing else, I’ll do something special for #300. It’s been a crazy year and a hectic nine months since I started Andy Watches Movies so thank you all for reading and here’s to next year!

What should my 2013 goal be? (Friday Question Fun)

Friday Question Fun archive

Can you believe this is the final Friday of 2012?  I can’t.

I also can’t believe that – barring some unforeseen circumstance – I was able to watch 300 movies this year. I admire those of you that were able to watch more than I did because keeping a full time job, other hobbies, AND writing for the site has taken a ton of time…and that doesn’t even include finding time to watch movies!

A sincere thank you to everyone that has read anything on my site for your support. I have had a great time writing my thoughts on movies and taking the time to chat with so many wonderful people this year. Now, I have a favor of you to ask.

What should my 2013 movie watching goal be?

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King Kong [1933] (1/15/12 & 12/18/12)

King KongMovie Eight and Two Hundred Eighty Seven

The original King Kong is one of my favorite movies ever. It literally has everything you could possibly want out of a movie. For a movie that is nearly 80 years old it has held up incredibly well and the Blu-Ray treatment is superb.

When Peter Jackson remade King Kong a few years back I was very excited. When the movie released I was kind of let down. While Jackson’s take modernizes the effects and fleshes out some of the characters and story, for me most of the magic was lost. Watching the 1933 iteration is guaranteed to put a smile on my face and keep me on the edge of my seat, even after a dozen or so viewings.

I won’t bother with the details of the movie because if you haven’t seen some sort of version of King Kong you have likely been under a rock for 80 years. However, if you’ve only seen the 2005 version or, god help us, the 1976 version, then please consider watching the original.

I realize some people have a hard time watching old movies, or even black and white movies. I can understand that sometimes, but I firmly believe King Kong is an exception. It still delivers thrills and wonder, even by today’s CGI-laden standards.

[Update 12/27/12] I got around to watching King Kong again on and thought I would repost one of my very first reviews from the first week I started the site. Enjoy!

I give it 5 screaming Fay Wrays out of 5.

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Elf (12/17/12)

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Elf is the story of a child being adopted by elves in the North Pole and returning to New York City as an adult to find his real father.

After a baby crawls into Santa Claus’s (Ed Asner) bag and brought back to the North Pole, Santa and his elves have no choice but to raise him. Papa Elf (Bob Newhart) raises Buddy (Will Ferrell) as his own, but when Buddy towers over all the other elves and isn’t quite the toy-making genius they all are, he starts to suspect something isn’t right. Papa Elf tells buddy that his real father is Walter Hobbs (James Caan) and lives in New York City, so Buddy decides to go and live with his biological father  and spreads holiday cheer to everyone around him.

Yeah, I’m going to be that guy that is still reviewing Christmas movies after Christmas is over, sorry.

Elf is one of the handful of films in my regular holiday rotation but unlike Christmas Vacation and A Christmas Story, it’s a film that I generally only watch once a year. I love  Elf almost as much as those movies but I think the lack of nostalgia for me makes Elf a great movie to watch but once a year is enough to satiate me.

I don’t care what anyone says, I will always consider Buddy the Elf to be Will Ferrell’s greatest role. The naive but pure-hearted Buddy is a great character and Ferrell is perfect for it. Elf is a movie that could have easily been crude and loud, but Ferrell keeps it in check and knocks it out of the park. The supporting cast is great too with Zooey Deschanel, Peter Dinklage, Mary Steenburgen, Andy Richter, Kyle Gass, Amy Sedaris, Artie Lange, Jon Favreau (also the director of Elf), etc. While I’m on the subject, why doesn’t James Caan get better work now? He’s great.

Where my two aforementioned favorite Christmas movies both have a sometimes cynical take of the holidays and focus on the follies, Elf focuses on Christmas spirit and believing in miracles. The childlike sense of wonder the film exudes makes you really want to believe in Santa and this really sets it apart. It’s not quite a movie for kids, but it’s definitely a movie for the whole family. There’s the perfect balance of humor for all ages here and throw in all the holiday stuff and Elf is just an absolute joy to watch.

I give it 4 “my finger has a heartbeat”s out of 5.

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Breakfast at Tiffany’s (12/16/12)

Breakfast at Tiffany'sMovie Two Hundred Eighty Five

In Breakfast at Tiffany’s, a young New York socialite resistant to love ends up falling for a man in her apartment building.

After eating a pastry and drinking coffee while window shopping outside Tiffany’s, Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) heads home to her New York City apartment. She tries avoiding her date from the night before, and buzzes her neighbor, Mr. Yunioshi (Mickey Rooney) to let her in. The next morning, Holly is awakened by her own doorbell ringing and a new tenant is trying to move in. She invites him in and learns his name is Paul Varjak (George Peppard).Soon, Holly tells Paul she needs to visit Sing Sing prison and deliver a coded message as a “weather report” to a famous mobster. As Paul learns more about the true Holly Golightly, he falls for her despite her adherence to keeping up appearances of her lifestyle.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s fans be warned, I was not at all charmed by this film. Within minutes of the film starting, Mickey Rooney’s horrifyingly racist portrayal of Mr. Yunioshi almost made me turn the film off but I pressed on thinking it was just a sign of the times. Then I discovered the film was not supposed to be a comedy and Mr. Yunioshi seems to be injected, superfluously I might add, to add some “humor” to the movie. Disgusting. But my distaste for the film didn’t end there.

I also kind of hated Holly Golightly as well. I don’t understand why so many girls see her as a role model. She is lying about who she is, she is only interested in money, she doesn’t seem to actually believe in love, she is superficial, it’s hinted that she’s a call girl, she is mentally unstable, etc. Maybe she is “real” and just trying to find herself but that wasn’t my impression of her. I had never seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s but have seen Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly emblazoned on all sorts of memorabilia and while watching the film I kept asking myself  “why?”.

Now that I’m (maybe) done bashing Breakfast at Tiffany’s, I will praise the film’s sense of style. I’m a huge fan of the TV show Mad Men and while I was kind of hating Holly Golightly I did like her manner of dress.

I really don’t know why I was so put off by Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Perhaps it is just one of those movies so many people talk about that you just assume greatness. Now I know how all those folks feel that don’t like Citizen Kane. Breakfast at Tiffany’s was recently just admitted to the National Film Registry and I kind of cringed when I read that news. Maybe if they recut the film without Mr. Yunioshi it would leave a better taste in my mouth.

I give it 2 the only scene I really liked was the opening title sequence out of 5.

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