Lego Podcast and Happy Valentines Day!

Hey guys! Quick post today but just wanted to wish you all a Happy Valentines Day.  Each year I create a custom valentine to make the holiday a little bit more fun. My friend Joan at Bitsy Creations does the design work but it is my concept.  I hope you all have a wonderful day and feel loved!

valentine-2017I also got to do a podcast today with my friend Eli on both The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie. We had a lot of fun talking about both films and would love your thoughts on what we have to say.

2015 vs 2014 Better Animation Year?

So I’ve been thinking about the year in animation to get ready for my video I am doing with Art from A to Z Reviews today.  I’ve really enjoyed the year but I keep thinking about last year.  Is 2014 better than 2015 for animation?  There can be cases made for both years.

Take a look at these vs images comparing the two years and then vote at the end which year you think was strongest.

Big Studio Films

big studios vs

Bad Movies in 2014 vs 2015

bad vsWhich year has the best of the best movies?

best of year vsThe biggest box office for 2014 vs 2015?

box office vsThe independent films of 2015 vs 2014:

artistic vsThe original films of 2014 vs 2015

original ideas vsWhich had better comedies? I’m torn because I like all 4

comedies vsBest sequels?

sequels vs2

This should be very interesting.  I think 2014 in the end was stronger just because you had so many top notch movies Lego Movie, Tale of Princess Kaguya, Song of the Sea, Book of Life, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Big Hero 6 and The Boxtrolls were all excellent.  And then even the middle tier stuff wasn’t half bad.  I think Inside Out is amazing better than all but Song of the Sea from 2014 but put that aside and it becomes more clear 2014 was best.

Best of 2014 Revisited

At the beginning of the year I posted my ‘best of 2014‘ but at that point I hadn’t seen many films from 2014.   Now that it is August I have gotten through most of the releases and my best of list has changed a bit.  I still really like all of the films I picked but they have just moved to honorable mentions.   Maleficent is still my worst of 2014.  None of those have changed.

Here’s the new video I made with my updated top 11.

And most of these we’ve hashed out to death but feel free to put your comments below anyway. Just one gals opinion!

My new picks are:

11. Captain America Winter Soldier

capt 210. American Sniper

american sniper9. Interstellar

interstellar38. Lego Moviethe_lego_movie_2014-wide7. Guardians of the Galaxy

guardians of the galaxy6. Tale of Princess Kaguya

kaguya horizontal 15. The Good Lie

good lie4. Edge of Tomorrow

edge-of-tomorrow-poster-33. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

dawn-of-the-planet-of-the-apes-poster2. Song of the Sea

song of the sea41. Boyhood

Boyhood-poster-quad

Animation Lookback 2014 Videos

I had one of the worst nights of insomnia in my life so I’ve spent most of last night and today working on a new series on my youtube channel.  It is a look-back on animation in 2014- the highs, mediums and lows.  It is basically my Rachie’s post in video form.  I thought you might enjoy them and I would love if you gave them a watch.  I would also appreciate it if you subscribed to my channel.  I do box reviews and movie reviews of which you will probably be more interested in the latter but I try to post good thoughtful content and am improving every day.

This series I think turned out very good.  I hope it will help the public at large become aware of some of the smaller special animated movies, as well as maybe seeing ‘the big 6’ in a new light.  Thanks again for watching the videos and for all your support.

Locke and Grand Budapest Hotel

I saw 2 movies this weekend and they are very different but both very good.

lockeLocke is a film that defies description. I was telling my sister about it and she laughed and said it sounded ‘like the worst thing ever’.   Why?

Well, it’s a man in a car talking on the phone for an entire movie.  I’m serious.  There are no other actors, just voices you hear and I’m telling you it is completely riveting.

locke1It’s so hard to talk about this movie without giving spoilers away but basically Tom Hardy is on a drive to do something he know he needs to do but wishes he didn’t have to.  Then as the car ride goes it becomes the worst day of his life.  Home, family, work, are complete chaos but he is a man who has a plan and knows he can make it all right, but as the story goes you and him start to become less secure that even he can salvage any of it.

It’s so tense and the music and lighting build until you worry he is going to drive off the freeway or have some kind of panic attack.  Then just when it seems he is losing control a conversation will happen that gives him a breath of hope and we start the cycle of anxiety all over again.  It was a thriller but about a person’s life falling apart and isn’t that kind of the scariest thing of all?

There are also moments where a character brings up a soccer game and after all he has been through it feels so stupid.  It kind of puts a lot of things we think are important in perspective.  It’s just pretty brilliant.

locke2

I’m telling you give it a shot.  The photography by director Steven Knight and cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos alone has to be appreciated.  The lights and reflections off the windows add to the tension.

In a way it feels like someone in a hostage negotiation but the hostage is his life and happiness.

Steven Knight also wrote Locke and they made it for 2 million dollars.  It just goes to show with good writing and storytelling anything can be good, even a man driving for 84 minutes.

I was blown away.

It does have a lot f bombs so definitely adults only.

Content Grade- F, Overall Grade- A

GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

grand_budapest_hotelIt is no secret I am not the biggest Wes Anderson fan. Like Tim Burton, he can be more style over substance, but I don’t think any of his movies are terrible. Just not a fangirl. (I am Mormon which means I am so not a hipster…)

Anyway, the Grand Budapest Hotel is probably Anderson’s most approachable film even though I still didn’t love it but I enjoyed it.  The reason I liked this better than previous works (I haven’t seen all of them) is it is a story being told as opposed to something grounded in ‘real life’ like his other films.  It makes more sense to have his quirky style in a work in a fictional world to me.

It’s a little confusing because there are layers of storytellers.  Tom Wilkinson is an author telling the story to a little girl that he heard told to him by the GBH owner played by F Murray Abraham. So you have details from the girl, Wilkinson, Abraham and the actors.  This makes it seem like even more of a fairytale.  It is also set in a fictional town of Zubrowka (again more fairytale like).

It’s kind of a convoluted plot but basically it is about a concierge of the hotel named Gustave played by Ralph Fiennes and his devoted lobby boy played by Tony Revolori.

The-Grand-Budapest-Hotel-5Gustave is dedicated to the hotel and to giving great service with rewards from the elderly female patrons on the side.  One of the patrons played by Tilda Swinton gives him a valuable painting on her death. Her family is furious and so feeling it is his right he steals the painting and flees.

What follows is a cat and mouse chase with a lot of humor and whimsey.  We get a ton of actors involved in the chase including Adrien Brody, William Dafoe, Mathieu Amalric, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Bob Balaban and Owen Wilson.

the-grand-budapest-hotel-movie-5

It does get a little tiresome after a while but it isn’t that long of a movie so I was ok with the story and the Anderson cuteness. Like I said, it fit this particular tale better than some of his others and was generally nicer too. Some of his more popular movies I have a hard time bonding with because the characters come across as kind of mean and unlikable. (see I am so not a hipster).

But this I liked.  It isn’t my favorite movie by a long shot but I enjoyed the style, story was fun and performances all very good.

It does have nudity that is quick and easy to miss but strong and a fair amount of profanity so I would say adults or mature teens only.

gbhotelI would love to see Wes Anderson try his eclectic style in a different genre.  Like what could he do with a comic book movie or a musical?  I guess he kind of did that with Fantastic Mr Fox, which is my favorite Anderson film, despite it being more for adults than kids in pacing and tone.

Content Grade- D, Overall Grade- B

Any of you seen either of these?  What did you think? What a great year 2014 was for movies! I can’t think of another better in nearly every genre (don’t start a debate on that topic bc it really doesn’t matter what year is best.  I just really liked this one!).

Please put in your comments what you thought of either film? I’d love to hear.  Both are seemingly different but have a certain challenge to conventional storytelling which I really dug. Fun times at the movies!

Into the Woods: A Review

into_the_woodsHollywood’s latest stab at the Broadway musical adaptation, Disney’s Into the Woods, is mostly great, even brilliant, except when it isn’t.  I’ve rarely left a movie feeling more befuddled and mixed in my responses.  One side of me loved it and another was very frustrated.

In fact, if you had asked me at the 1 1/2 hour mark what I thought it would have been an enthusiastic A+ when it seemed like everything was ending and happy and then it took a turn.  In the movie’s defense the play takes that same turn but it felt like one ending too many and honestly it was a part of the play I was hoping would be omitted or glossed over.

Well, let’s talk about the good things because there are a lot.  Most importantly the singing.  It is uniformly great.  There is no Russell Crowe or Pierce Brosnan to suffer through.  They all sound Broadway level quality. Some we knew could sing like Meryl Streep (Mamma Mia, Prairie Home Companion), Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect), and Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd).  Others were not familiar to me as singers but do very well like Emily Blunt and Chris Pine.

I have no complaints about the singing and that is saying something because Stephen Sondheim’s music is no easy task to perform.  He is extremely challenging to sing because his musicals aren’t all that melodic and he loves minor keys and strange chords and key signatures.  On the Steps of the Palace changes keys like 4 times in 1 song.  It’s extremely difficult but they all did a great job.

The cast was also uniformly strong in their acting of these fairytale roles.  Meryl Streep is great, and Oscar Winner Colleen Atwood deserves another for the amazing costume and makeup.

witch and rapunzelJohnny Depp was actually very good as the Wolf.  It is the best I’ve seen him in since Finding Neverland.  It is another fairytale like creature but in small doses I didn’t mind it (I’m so sick of Johnny Depp/Tim Burton pairing).  He’s only in the movie for 2 or 3 brief scenes but he does them very well.

wolf and red ridingAnna Kendrick is also good as a very modern version of Cinderella. She can’t decide whether she wants to be a princess or not which is a clever take on the story.

cinderellaChris Pine and Billy Magnusson are also hilarious as the two princes’ singing the play’s best song Agony.princes

Like I said if the movie had ended at 1 and half hour in I would have been thrilled with it.  It’s a tacked on 2nd act in the final 30-45 minutes that begins to lose me.

I don’t want to spoil anything but basically Into the Woods is a combination in one movie of Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack and the Beanstalk.

Into The Woods 2014 Cast1The new characters are The Baker and The Baker’s Wife (Emily Blunt and James Drenton) who get told by The Witch there is a curse on their family and they must bring her back 4 items from the Woods to break the curse.  Naturally each of these 4 items are a part of the 4 fairytales.

But the last third of the story that narrative is kind of abandoned and we get a bit of a disaster/fight the giant sequence where people die, are unfaithful and everything gets very serious.  It just bummed me out because we were on such a high and then ended on a semi-high.  Still good but not as excited as I was at 90 minute mark.

Oh well.  What I did like I really liked.  The look of the film is dark but with a certain cheerful spooky feel to it.  Tracy Ulman is fun as Jack’s Mother and it’s fun to see her back on screen again.

The CGI looks fine because most of it is in the dark at night and I find darkness a bit more forgiving with CGI.

Basically I really enjoyed it until that last third.  It’s a joke it got a PG rating when you have multiple characters dying, 2 being eaten, feet getting severed, characters blinded, and a woman who is unfaithful to her husband.  Stupid MPAA. If I had kids those would all be points of concern.  I mean I don’t want to be explaining to my little child why the Bakers Wife is kissing another man.  I wish they had toned that part down from the original play. I haven’t seen the play in probably 10 years so I couldn’t remember.  I just hate it when you feel like everyone in the movie is a jerk. Need someone to root for.

Well, I can’t really give much else away without spoiling it.  Just keep in mind- I liked it, except that last 1/3rd when the personalities and tone shift.

Still a definite recommendation based on the great singing, costumes, and an overall entertaining movie

Overall Grade- B

Jeremy Jahns and I are on totally the same page on this one

Blu-ray G and H, Best and Worst Youtube Videos

I thought I would share with you some of my latest youtube videos.  I had a lot of fun making them and not everything I talk about has been on this blog.  I think most of you will especially enjoy my Worst of Video and my Maleficent rant.  Feels good to get it all out in the open. 😉

As I always say it’s just my opinion so if you feel differently that’s great! I am sincerely glad that art speaks to different people in different ways.  I would love if you gave any or all of the videos a watch and even left a comment or two.  Thanks so much for all your support.

 

Best and Worst of 2014

Overall 2014 has been a great year for movies.  I haven’t seen every movie by a long shot but I have seen my fair share.  I am still planning on seeing Annie, Into the Woods and Interstellar but I figured I’d go ahead with this post anyway.  I will do posts on those movies and add an addendum to this post in the notes.

Remember this is just my opinion.  If you liked movies I didn’t than that is awesome.  I want people to enjoy their time at the movies, so if you saw value in something that I didn’t I think that is great. If I liked something you didn’t I hope you can respect my opinion.

Pictures2

Live Action

10.  Noah

9. God’s Not Dead

8. Chef

7.  100 Foot Journey

6. Captain America: Winter Soldier

5.  Xmen Days of Future Past

4. Edge of Tomorrow

3. Guardians of the Galaxy

2. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

1.  Boyhood.

Pictures1

Animation

10. Planes: Fire and Rescue

9. Rio 2

8. Book of Life

7. Mr Peabody and Sherman

6. Penguins of Madegascar

5. How to Train Your Dragon 2

4. Boxtrolls

3. Tale of Princess Kaguya

2. Big Hero 6

1. Lego Movie

Pictures4

And now for the worst of the year.  I try to not see bad movies but I did slog through a couple this year just to know if they were really that bad.

10. Ride Along

9. Tammy

8. Muppets Most Wanted

7. Godzilla

6. Amazing Spiderman 2

5. The Other Woman

4. Transformers: Age of Extinction

3. Nut Job

2. Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return

1. Maleficent

Best documentary Life Itself (also the only documentary I watched this year so need to catch up on some!)

life-itself-poster