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Movies of 2012 [FB]
Jan 3rd, 2013 by Dan

cinema

(Photo by jimmymac333)

Man do I love me some movies, guys. The following listing of my favorites is not limited to movies that were released in 2012, but rather what I saw in 2012 that I most want to talk about.

Prometheus – I’ve never seen a movie from the Alien franchise, but something about the trailers and the Fassbender hype made me want to catch this one in the theaters. After failing to get most people interested, Ian and I caught this flick. Look, guys, it’s not the greatest movie out there, but Fassbender is amazing, the movie is stunning, and that emergency “caesarian”? Absolutely terrifying and awesome to watch. I want to make everyone watch that hyper tense scene.

The Cabin in the Woods – Kind of related to the previous movie, but I don’t really watch horror/monster movies. They’re not my thing. The buzz on Cabin was so great that I had to face my fears and step in. What I got was a brilliant subversion of the horror genre with Whedon’s fingerprints all over it. It’s not really that scary and I honestly believe that everyone should suck it up and check this flick out. You’ll never look at a horror movie the same way.

Young Adult – The first of these flicks to have actually come out in 2011, Diablo Cody’s look at a thoroughly unpleasant woman seeking to reclaim her glory days is relentless in its brutal look at the awful person that Charlize Theron plays. The absolute kicker is in the scene where Patton Oswalt’s character’s sister effectively destroys the character progress Theron has made. Watching everything shift into place on her face was probably the best acted moment I saw this year.

The Descendants – Or the movie that convinced me that George Clooney was brilliant and that Shailene Woodley had real acting chops. It’s a beautiful family movie with an almost tacked on real estate sideplot that doesn’t quite tie in like I think they wanted it to, but it’s full of great performances and it’s definitely worth seeing.

Higher Ground – I’ve been enamored with Vera Farmiga ever since I saw her in Up in the Air, so I had to check this movie out. It’s about a woman constantly searching for meaning, but frustratingly never able to find it. She plays the part with a lot of emotion and subtlety and I just adored every minute of the performance.

Martha Marcy May Marlene – Fits in thematically with the previously mentioned movie since it’s also about a girl so lost that she ends up involved in a cult (to be fair, Higher Ground is about a fundamentalist Christian sect). Elizabeth Olsen plays the confused, frightened escapee with great skill as her brain struggles to reconcile what is real with what was brainwashed into her head. Of course you also get to contrast the horrible, but peaceful cult with the materialistic and unfulfilling real world that alienated Olsen in the first place. The film is most notable to me with how it closes. Is Olsen in her right mind and is the cult actually about to exact vengeance or not?

Wanderlust – The first truly slight movie on this list, Wanderlust has David Wain’s quasi-troop at their funniest. It’s not gonna win any Oscars, but Wanderlust is a happy, fun movie filled with funny people. I mean, any movie that makes me like Jennifer Aniston has got to be worth mentioning.

The Five-Year Engagement – Sure, it’s just shy of a standard rom-com, but this flick is getting special mention for the fine work of Alison Brie and Chris Pratt. Those two are amazing.

Goon – A hockey epic for the modern day. I have almost zero complaints about this movie. It tugs on all the heartstrings with a story as far from cloying as possible. It’ll make you laugh, wince, and maybe cry, but you’ll love it.

21 Jump Street – Who knew that Channing Tatum was secretly hilarious? It’s probably getting a little too much credit, but this is a genuinely funny movie that I expected to be completely idiotic and forgettable.

Jeff, Who Lives at Home – My first Duplass Brothers film. I guess they call this kind of indie film mumblecore, but that’s kind of reductive. It’s a sweet story about brothers, which is the kind of thing I’m a sucker for.

The Avengers – The biggest movie of the year! Do I even have to talk about it? I want to give props to Mark Ruffalo for being brilliant as Bruce Banner and, hey, while we’re at it, I thought ScarJo did a fine job too (so did everyone else).

Argo – A strong competitor for my favorite flick of the year. Who doesn’t love a heist flick? Especially one that’s actually based on real events. 70s facial hair, great, tense performances, and international spy intrigue. It goes to show that you don’t need James Bond flair to make a good, exciting espionage movie. Plus “Argo fuck yourself” is a great line.

Lincoln – Another heist flick, but this one is about getting votes for the 13th amendment. Everyone you could possibly think of is in this flick, but I think its fatal flaw is the whole biopic aspect of it. Lincoln was an incredible man, I don’t doubt that, but in this movie he’s never wrong, always gets the last word in, and is generally a god among men. Worth seeing.

Holy Motors – Gets the WTF? Award this year. Truly bizarre in a way that only French cinema dares. It’s not my cup of tea, but it’s also brilliant. The accordion segment was pretty sweet too

Pitch Perfect – I love movies about music or singing. I don’t care that this is the most stereotypical, formulaic plotting out there. Obviously there’s gonna be discord, one girl is devoted to the old way while the new girl has a revolutionary way to look at things and, guess what, she’s right! Look, who cares about that? Rebel Wilson is hilarious and Anna Kendrick is super charming. Don’t fight it, just enjoy.

Django Unchained – I’m not above stating that this is the most important movie of the year. I’ve heard that some of the events depicted in it are exaggerations of the horrors of slavery. I don’t know if that’s true because I didn’t live in the 1800s, but I think that this movie is properly intense and strikes the right balance between over-the-top violence and the real gravity of the situation. Cristoph Waltz, Jamie Foxx, and Samuel L. Jackson all deserve recognition for their amazing performances. If you’re only gonna see one movie on this list, make it this one.

Spelunked – What I’ve Been Doing 9 July 2012 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Jul 3rd, 2012 by Dan

The cutest game to ever make you want to murder your entire family (Photo courtesy Giant Bomb)

Spelunky finally arrived last week and it was GLORIOUS! So good, as a matter of fact, that I managed to rack up 21 hours in it while taking a day off to go to Pennsylvania to celebrate the 4th. Spelunky is razor sharp, guys. Razor sharp.

Movies

21 Jump Street – I can’t think of another trailer in recent history that has inspired more ambivalence upon the people I know, but I was secretly amused by it. It turns out that it’s because it’s an amusing movie. It’s not as funny as The Other Guys, but it’s got a similar vibe. Plus it’s got almost every comedic actor working today in bit parts all over. It’s funny, but I wouldn’t spend more than $5 to see it. Oh, also, Dave Franco is like a little James Franco clone. It’s so weird!

Goon – Watched this again with Min since it was on Instant. The major reason this movie works is because it doesn’t make fun of Doug for being a oaf. He’s lovable and he means well and he just wants a place to belong. It’s really quite touching, just very, very violent.

TV

Louie – I’m honestly shocked that something as surreal and arty as this show can be is on FX and is doing as well as it is. I don’t know how the man on the street feels about Louie, but I know that I’m constantly impressed by its reach. Great show. That speech to Pamela in episode 6 was beautiful.

Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine – Speaking of arty shows, how crazy is the opening theme to this one? I mean, it’s called “New Wuthering Heights”, for Christ’s sake! I wonder how much of the look of the show is based on budget, but that’s actually the show’s strongest point. It doesn’t look like anything else on tv and it’s certainly more mature than most of the other anime I’ve ever seen. Fujiko is an interesting character, but, seriously, there’s not a single episode without her topless (nor can there be! She’s nude for the entire opening song).

Music

Heard a track by The Oneups this morning. Reminded me that they’re pretty good (if you like vidya game music)

Books

1Q84 – Haruki Murakami has never met a plot that didn’t need metaphysical, sometimes bizarre sex to advance it. Not a problem, more something to mark on your Murakami checklist. I do wonder what this means for Tengo and I worry about Aomame. Will she make it through the narrative or will Murakami use her to further motivate Tengo? What is Tengo now? Is he going to be cursed like Leader was?

Video Games

The Walking Dead – If Spelunky didn’t also come out this week I’d be drooling over this to everyone. Telltale has really figured things out and they’re knocking it out of the park with each episode. Pick it up now!

The Binding of Isaac – Came so close to knocking out the penultimate challenge. I’ll get you soon, BoI. I’ll get you…

Penny Arcade Ep 1 – Finished off a replay of this to prep for Ep3. The game has decent writing, but I think it’s less funny than the other Hothead episode (that or it’s less fresh for me?). Still, easy-ish S-Rank.

Spelunky – Gaming perfection, guys. Perfection! What Spelunky has that very few modern games do is fearlessness. Derek Yu is so confident that his game is good and that it makes sense that he refuses to put in handhold-y player incentives to coddle and usher along gamers. No, you lose “everything” when you mess up and die…everything but the knowledge that you obtained on the previous run. You’d be surprised how much you learn from each death and how things behave. Obstacles that seemed tough to deal with for me are trivial now. I’m starting to see two or three reactions ahead (chess style) of everything I do. Death only comes when I’m careless. Spelunky is hard and it wants you to move quickly, which also makes it harder, but getting that knowledge allows you to just fly confidently

Skullgirls – I picked this up to check out a sweet fighting game and support Min’s cousin msh. The first thing we did, I kid you not, was watch the credits to look for her name. Congratulations on the game credit, msh. It’s a fine game with fine art and I think it’s super cool that you worked on it. Now if only they could put the move lists, you know, in the game proper…That would be nice. I’m glad they got an official tournament at Evo this year, but I hope they’re a bigger part of the tournament next year. It’s a sharp game.

Jamestown – Hadn’t tried this game multiplayer until this past weekend with Min. Lots of fun, but the final boss is so hard!

Penny Arcade Ep. 2 – Funnier than Ep. 1 and a little more creative in its puzzles and areas too. Didn’t dig the final boss/puzzle, but it was fine. Really pumped me up to keep going with Episode 3 even though it was midnight on Sunday.

Penny Arcade Ep. 3 – Had to play this on Insane, did you, Dan? Ugh….SO HARD! I fought the Crabomancer like 20 times, but I finally beat him. Finished playing at 2AM. Whoops! This game has razor sharp RPG mechanics that I LOVE and even sharper writing than the previous two episodes since they’re not leaning on the art or voice acting as much as they could before. Loving it so far, just wish there were steam achievements.

What I’ve Been Doing 2 April 2012 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Mar 26th, 2012 by Dan

Goon

Seann William Scott is so innocently dumb in this movie, but it's actually quite good. (Picture courtesy nxusco)

Guys, Goon was really good. More later, but you should check it out. This week was a real scattershot weekend as I tried to play a bunch of games I didn’t give much time to before.

Movies

Martha Marcy May Marlene – The cult in the movie is an interesting contrast to the fundamentalist Christian society in Higher Ground and the hippie commune of Wanderlust. This movie really ratchets up the tension of not knowing what’s real and what’s not. Ideally they would have made Patrick a scarier presence, but the movie is still on pretty solid ground with what it accomplishes. Congrats on the fantastic part, Elizabeth Olsen. Keep it up!

Goon – This is a mostly sweet movie about a guy who had no place in life other than to fight on the ice. It’s done pretty well and it’s funny and it’ll definitely win you over. Alison Pill, who played Kim Pine in Scott Pilgrim, is great as a Canadian hockey girl and Seann William Scott is endearing. The violence of hockey and hockey fights is really the thing that might put you off the movie. It gets pretty brutal if you don’t like it.

TV

Mad Men – Last week’s premiere was amazing and I totally loved it. Can’t wait to see yesterday’s episode tonight!

Breaking Bad – Finished the first season. The six episode arc they had to work with never went anywhere with any definitive statement, but I think they’re playing the long game for all the seasons. Doesn’t mean that it was bad, just that I’m used to a more dramatic season arc. The progression of Walter White from teacher to meth cooker has definitely been interesting as is the seething anger that lurks beneath hsi outside personality.

Happy Endings – A great tribute to all the sitcom tropes of old. Some really good jokes in there that helped keep it from being too hack-y (like it was when the episode started). Elisha Cuthbert’s Ellen was hilarious.

New Girl – I liked the episode, but I’m rather chilly on New Girl at the moment. It’s not bad, but it’s not amazing either.

Justified – Another table setter. The final two episodes of this season are going to be bananas. I’d like for Limehouse to continue to be a force in S4, but we’ll see if he survives the next two eps first.

Community – It’s entirely possible that this episode contained the first “boner” joke I’ve laughed at since I was 13. The Subway corpo-humanoid is the highlight of the ep. Also a highlight: “Put it in a letter, Jane Austen!”. Alison Brie is so awesome.

Up All Night – This show is kind of meh to me too. At least it’s enjoyable meh. I’d rather watch New Girl because Zooey Deschanel is cute, but this is the better show.

The Wire – Finally finished S1 and the commentary of S1. Can’t wait to get moving through S2 because S3 is amazing. I love the attention to detail in The Wire and the devastating verisimilitude of it all.

Music

“Heaven” is one of the best tracks on the Persona 4 soundtrack, but it’s also pretty awesome to listen to any time. Don’t believe me?

Books

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – I’ve got like 10 pages left. So tired of this book.

Video Games

Ghost Trick – Weird ending to this game. Just plot twist upon plot twist. Still one of the better story games I’ve ever played and excellent practice for my Spanish.

Devil Survivor 2 – Still haven’t caught the entire breadth of this story, but I do dig it. Interested in seeing where it goes, but my major play time will probably come when Min and I go to Vegas (he’ll probably sleep through the flight)

Mass Effect 2 – Slowly tearing through this a few missions at a time. For some reason I can’t stomach playing it for long periods of time. I think it’s because ME3 is clearly better and they’re so similar.

Poker Night at the Inventory – Put in a few mins to get some achievements and just play some poker. Still fun.

Jamestown – Was feeling like finally putting some time into the weird quasi-historical/quasi-sci-fi version of the Jamestown settlement in Virginia. Fighting the Spanish conquistadors and the Martians is weird, but fun. I like all the different ship types.

Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness Episode 1 – I played and beat this many moons ago, but I wanted to play ep. 2 and that required playing this. Decent RPG and pretty funny still.

Sine Mora – Tried it out on XBL. I might pick it up when I finish a few other games. Seems interesting.

Pac-Man CE DX – Um…best game on my Xbox. Period. This game is so good I had to force msyelf to stop to play…

Galaga Legions DX – I was tired of only having like two achievements in this so I went and got to 11/12. Might not get the last one (more annoying than tough), but I’ll probably cave and just do it. Not as good as Pac-Man at all, but still fun.

Shadow Complex – Cave Story + made me think the same thing this game does: Why don’t game companies make more Metroidvania-style games? They’re really addictive and fun. Weird. Also weird: Nolan North in a half-tuck role that’s NOT NATHAN DRAKE! I think the shooting is a little awkward with the right stick because they added the whole 3D aspect to it, but otherwise fun.

March Movie Preview [FB]
Feb 28th, 2012 by Dan

Looks like a much more interesting release month than February. I’ve got interest in The Hunger Games and Casa de Mi Padre for sure, but some of the others are question marks.

Will Friends With Kids be funny enough to watch? 21 Jump Street has as much chance of being terrible as not (who am I kidding, terrible is far more likely). My interest in The Raid depends on how little they rely on implausible string/CGI work, and Goon could be interesting.

Any of these interest you guys?

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