Movies You Watched in August 2016
Ben Lott
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This is a geeklist to discuss the movies you watch throughout the month of August. Please feel free to post them as you see them, or if you prefer post a summary of all films at the end of the month. Also you can comment and discuss freely as others talk about films they've seen.

Enjoy...

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1. Board Game: Manhattan TraffIQ: Empire State Building expansion [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Manhattan TraffIQ: Empire State Building expansion
Ben Lott
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Mason
Michigan
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New to Me


A Thousand Clowns is the story of a care-free man who is raising his nephew, but faces the risk of the child being taken away. It's a lighthearted film that shows a sweet relationship between the uncle and his nephew. I love their interactions, and therefore it was easy to root for them to stay together. The movie takes a hard left turn after the first act, though. There's this romantic relationship that crops up out of nowhere, and the kid literally disappears until the final act of the movie. When we return to the status quo, and we are once again focused in on their loving bond, I was back on board. Jason Robards is great in the lead role. Somehow I understood why he was so reluctant to get a job, when ordinarily I would have a hard time connecting with a character who was that frustratingly stubborn. The final scene is a tour de force from Robards as you can feel the internal struggle of his nature and his desire to hold onto his nephew. I really enjoyed Barry Gordon as the kid, too. He was fun-loving and yet wise beyond his years, and Gordon made this combination feel authentic. I struggled a little with Barbara Harris as the "psychologist." She was written weakly, her behavior was illogical, and frankly her performance was a bit grating instead of endearing. A Thousand Clowns is a film that was adapted from a Broadway play, and it feels like it. There are a few scenes around the city, but most of the film is very contained. Honestly, I wonder if I would enjoy it more on stage. As a film I found it decent, but because the focus seemed to shift away from the Uncle-Nephew relationship for a long time I didn't love it.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Loses to The Edge
Wins against The Wind Rises
Wins against Gladiator
Wins against Captain Phillips
Wins against What Happened, Miss Simone?
Loses to The Last 5 years
Wins against Raising Arizona
Loses to Saving Mr. Banks
Loses to For Your Eyes Only
Ranked 528 out of 1011
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2. Board Game: Star Trek Panic [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:1474]
Board Game: Star Trek Panic
Stephen Roney
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Ladera Ranch
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Star Trek(2009)

In preparation for hopefully seeing the new one this weekend, I took the opportunity to watch the one that (re)started it all. I didn't rerun the Flickchart, because 104 seems like a reasonable place for it.

The movie opens at the time of the birth of James T Kirk, with a time-traveling Romulan attacking the ship Kirk's parents were on, with Kirk's father being killed as the mother escapes and gives birth in the shuttle, just in time for Kirk's father to hear and name the boy. It also shows young Spock encountering problems in school due to his human mother. Then fast forward through the rebellious teen years and to young adulthood, where Captain Pike encourages James T Kirk to join Starfleet instead of picking fights in bars.

This of course is now an alternate timeline, made even moreso by further actions of the Roman time traveller. The recasting of the original crew is pretty good overall and I would say the story is in the spirit of the original series.
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3. Board Game: Operation Condor: The Liberation of Spain 1942/1943 [Average Rating:5.76 Unranked]
Board Game: Operation Condor: The Liberation of Spain 1942/1943
J.L. Robert
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Sherman Oaks
California
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Operation Condor (Armour of God II, 1991)


Jackie Chan mania hit the U.S. full force with this film. It's Chan at his acrobatic best in this adventure film that is an unapologetic mimic of the Indiana Jones films of the time. Chan's a soldier of fortune on a quest to locate a treasure of Nazi gold buried deep in the Sahara Desert. The film features the high-octane action sequences that are the hallmarks of Chan's films.

Watching it for the first time in 25 years was a blast from the past. The action is still just as invigorating as ever. And while the story is paper-thin by today's standards, it's sufficient to set the stage for all of the chop-socky fun.
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4. Board Game: Whole Armor of God [Average Rating:4.83 Unranked]
Board Game: Whole Armor of God
J.L. Robert
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Armour of God (Operation Condor II, 1986)


The commercial success of Operation Condor in the U.S. resulted in a rush job to obtain the rights to the action adventure film that preceded it. In an odd twist, the prequel film was marketed as a sequel to Condor in the U.S.

Sadly, it doesn't capture the imagination as much as the prequel/sequel. Chan's character (the cleverly named "Jackie") pursues the pieces of a legendary Armor of God, closely pursued by a secret cabal. Chan's film making craft is not yet fine tuned in this film. And while the action works, there either isn't enough of it or the pacing just seems off.

Of note is the major accident Chan suffered while filming this movie. Chan fractured his skull in a fall after the tree branch he grabbed broke, resulting in a fall (the footage is part of Chan's traditional end credit outtake scenes).
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5. Board Game: Defender [Average Rating:4.97 Unranked]
Board Game: Defender
Wendell
United States
Yellow Springs
Ohio
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DEFENDOR

Defendor was a 2009 release starring Woody Harrelson as a slightly mentally challenged road crew worker name of Arthur Poppington, who becomes a real-life superhero (Defendor) and fights crime in the big city. Specifically going after a villain name of "Captain Industry", who Poppington/Defendor believes killed his mother.

I thought it was pretty decent. Harrelson did well in the lead role. Good supporting work in particular from Kat Dennings, who plays a streetwalker who becomes a friend of Arthur's. Nothing earth-shaking, but a story well told, and rather sad.

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6. Board Game: Acquire [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:259]
Board Game: Acquire
Stephen Roney
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Ladera Ranch
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Arbitrage


We usually like Richard Gere, so tried this one out. Gere is a high-powered investment banker in the middle of attempted merger of his company with another. It appears he has engaged in some shady (illegal) financing to cover up some previous bad investments and also is having an affair with an artist he is sponsoring.

When the artist is killed in a single car accident (with Gere driving), he leaves the scene and now has to avoid a police investigation in addition to keeping his merger on track. Gere is all business, not really worried about the fallout of his actions on his family or coworkers. While he plays the part fine, even getting a Golden Globe nomination, there is not much likable about his character. His girlfriend doesn't last long enough for him to show much tenderness there, and there isn't a lot of affection shown between Gere and his wife (Susan Sarandon).

Our experience was further flawed by a defect in the disc which caused us to lose the audio during a couple of critical scenes, including the final showdown between Gere and Sarandon.

Flickchart
Loses to Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
Loses to Despicable Me
Loses to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Beats Anger Management
Beats To Be Takei
Loses to San Francisco (1936)
Loses to Pillow Talk
Loses to Schindler's List
Beats Gandhi
Loses to The Verdict
1057 out of 1170
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7. Board Game: Star Trek: Frontiers [Average Rating:7.93 Overall Rank:765]
Board Game: Star Trek: Frontiers
Andy
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Star Trek Beyond

Thanks to some friends offering to child mind for us, my wife and I were able to go and see the latest in the Star Trek reboot franchise.

I'd actually managed to miss a lot of the pre-release info and hype about the movie, so I went in not knowing much about it.. except that the title "Beyond" felt a little off putting to me. I still think it's an odd title, except perhaps that they are now going away from the previous incarnation stories, like Wrath of Khan, that they had adapted.

So enough about the title, what of the movie? Well both my wife and I had a thoroughly enjoyable time... these days, the cinema is a bit of an escape for us, so primarily we want to be entertained, and we certainly were.

In my opinion, it isn't quite as good as either of the preceeding Star Trek films, but it has plenty of excitement and is a lot of fun to watch. The cast continue to be absolutely brilliant... especially Urban and Qunto as Bones and Spock, but also Yelchin, Cho, Saldana etc. The dialogue is often quite witty, making me chortle, and sometimes mirrors lines from the original Star Trek series.. especially some of Bones' catch phrases, and the banter between him and Spock. Some of the situations and action sequences also made me laugh with how cheesy or absurd they were, but I enjoyed them just the same. Some times it did feel like they were less of a crew and more pairs of characters, like Bones and Spock, Kirk and Checkov, Sulu and Uhura, Scott and Jaylah, but I guess with so many rich characters it's hard to script scenes for them all to share. And speaking of Jaylah, I thought the new character was interesting, with a striking style, strong motivation, and an unusual taste in music. I also enjoyed her stilted grasp of English.. given that she's been offered a position in Starfleet academy, lets hope they keep her around.

The plot was not particularly original, and indeed a bit predictable too, whereby an obsessed megalomaniac, with an unstoppable fleet, puts together a super weapon to destroy the federation... However Idris Elba does a decent job of making him menacing behind all his makeup, while also conveying some reasoning behind his motivation (which reminded me a little of The Rock).

Overall I had a lot of fun watching Star Trek Beyond, and I am interested to see where they will take the franchise next...

Ranking on my Flickchart:
beats The Naked Gun 33 1/3:
beats Looper
beats full metal jacket
loses to Heat
loses to Gangs of New York
loses to Mission : Impossible
beats finding nemo
loses to spider man

74 out of 635
That seems a bit high really... I was super torn regarding whether it beat Looper or not and I think that propelled it higher up my list.
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8. Board Game: Writer's Block [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked]
From gallery of AngbandKing
Stephen Roney
United States
Ladera Ranch
California
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The Magic of Belle Isle


Morgan Freeman is an anti-social, alcoholic, washed up novelist that is also disabled, having no use of his left arm or either leg. He is being delivered to a cottage in the town of Belle Isle for the summer, where he also inherits a labrador retriever.

The cottage is next door to a house where Virginia Madsen is raising her three daughters, aged around six, nine and fourteen, while in the process of getting a divorce from her husband, who remains in New York.

The middle daughter befriends Freeman (kind of against his will), wanting to learn how to make up stories, and he gradually gets sucked in the family and even the rest of the town. It is what I would call a "charming" story, well done and uplifting. It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but we liked it.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Madsen says that she is the first actress with a romantic relationship with Freeman in any of his movies. I wonder if that also means this was his first screen kiss?


Beats Ronin
Beats Wallace & Gromit In The Wrong Trousers
Loses to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Loses to Die Hard 2
Beats Finding Neverland
Loses to Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Loses to While You Were Sleeping
Loses to Frantic
Beats Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
Loses to How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days
253 out of 1171
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9. Board Game: Star Trek: Attack Wing – Khan Singh [Average Rating:7.45 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.45 Unranked]
Board Game: Star Trek: Attack Wing – Khan Singh
Stephen Roney
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Star Trek Into Darkness


Got a rematch of the second one in before going to see Beyond tomorrow. For good measure, I also watch "The Space Seed" episode of TOS, which would be the timeline-appropriate match for this movie ("Wrath of Khan" would be much later - after the five year mission is over). This movie keeps the number 72 from the Space Seed, but not much else besides the character, who of course is also in Wrath of Khan. It borrows as much from Wrath of Khan, famously turning some of it around.

More than the first one, this movie suffers a little from foreknowledge on the rematch, but still holds up fine. All the actors are fitting into their roles well.

Flickchart
Beats Ronin
Beats Despicable Me 2
Loses to How To Train Your Dragon
Loses to Die Hard 2
Beasts Safe
Beats Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Loses to When Harry Met Sally
Beats Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones
Loses to Lucy
Beats The Jackal
231 out of 1171
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10. Board Game: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Mystery at Hogwarts Game [Average Rating:5.52 Overall Rank:18256]
Board Game: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone   Mystery at Hogwarts Game
Stephen Roney
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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone


For several years, we had watched the entire series to date when a new Harry Potter movie came out, but after the last one came out five years ago, we haven't watched any of them, so we decided to start watching the entire series again, which will help me get them placed properly in my Flickchart. I suspect we will watch about one a week, though we might go a little faster.

The first one holds up pretty well, though the original Dumbledore feels a little odd after six movies with his replacement, and Emma Watson seems to over-enunciate more than I remember from the later movies. Knowing the full story of the series takes a little of the suspense out, but it is still good.
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11. Board Game: Star Trek: Five-Year Mission [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:2520]
Board Game: Star Trek: Five-Year Mission
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Star Trek Beyond


Though I could imagine the rating on this changing on further views, or even just on further reflection, I quite enjoyed this one. My initial Flickchart rating landed it above both of the previous movies of the reboot, though I am not sure I agree with that.

If anything, there was TOO MUCH action. Especially the action that took place in the dark took too long (perhaps there was just too much light in the theater).

I agree that Jaylah is an interesting new character and a speedy graduation from Star Fleet Academy and back to the Enterprise would be welcome. Especially with the loss of Chekov (and no plans to recast), there could be an opening.

The McCoy/Spock interplay is very faithful to the spirit of the original, and Kirk is close enough. Uhura is appropriately modernized to have some combat training. Sulu is fine, though he doesn't quite feel like traditional Sulu to me, though that may be the older Takei affecting me.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Do they really need to destroy the Enterprise EVERY time?


Flickchart
Beats Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
Beats Frequency
Beats How To Train Your Dragon
Loses to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Beats Big
Beats It Happened One Night
Beats Spectre
Loses to Men In Black
Loses to Under Siege
Beats Unbreakable
80 out of 1172
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12. Board Game: Giants [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:1158]
Board Game: Giants
Andy
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Manchester
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The BFG

With this movie on the horizons, I'd taken the opportunity to read Roald Dahl's classic to my Eldest, Joe (6), who had enjoyed other Dahl stories such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Twits and George's Marvellous Medicine... so having finished the book, I took Joe to see this movie.

I'm not usually too bothered with the poetic licence that is taken in book to film adaptations, but in this particular case it did actually bug me how much was changed.. some scenes were given to other characters (one notable scene being when the Bloodbottler comes to the BFG's cave, whereas in the movie it was Fleshlumpeater) and some scenes were either added, changed or even omitted (e.g. a Trogglehumper for the Fleshlumpeater). I was also a bit disappointed there wasn't more of the BFG's unusual version of English.

That said, Spielberg and crew did a good job of bringing the basics of the story to life, the effects were really good... and the giants were so menacing that Joe was properly scared a couple of times and said "I don't want to watch any more". Fortunately I was able to comfort and reassure him (it definitely helped that we'd read the story first) and he stuck it out to the end.. and ultimately enjoyed it. We particularly enjoyed the scene towards the end when they have breakfast at Buckingham Palace.
There were some decent performances from the primarily British cast... especially Penelope Wilton (known recently for her turn as Mrs Crawley in Downton Abbey) as the Queen and Mark Rylance and the BFG himself.

Overall it turned out to be an acceptable adaptation of a classic children's story.
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13. Board Game: Mystery of the Abbey: The Pilgrims' Chronicles [Average Rating:6.79 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.79 Unranked]
Board Game: Mystery of the Abbey: The Pilgrims' Chronicles
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Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Going into this, I had no idea what to expect from Scott Pilgrim, other than it was based on a comic book and that it was recommended to me by Ben because it has a videogame vibe to it.

It is a very odd, heavily stylised film... and I didn't love it to begin with... the character of Scott didn't really click with me, and he was kinda painful to watch... and I found the rest of his friends a bit annoying too. But the movie did grow on me over the course... the first fight scene, with Matthew, was something of a revelation for me, and it was pretty entertaining. Clearly modelled on fighting games like Mortal Kombat, with lots of visual effects flourishes to sell it as such. Some of the other fights were entertaining too, especially the scene with Chris Evans, though many of the victories felt a bit lame.

The film has a pretty good message about love and self respect, which initially felt like it was aimed at the twentysomethings it portrays, but does eventually manage to transcend that age group I think.

Overall it was fun to watch and I can see why it has a following. I definitely enjoyed it more than my wife, but I can't see myself watching it again.
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14. Board Game: Jaws: Deep Red Sea [Average Rating:7.29 Unranked]
Board Game: Jaws: Deep Red Sea
J.L. Robert
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California
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Profondo Rosso (Deep Red, 1975)


Considered one of the best of the Italian giallo genre of mystery thrillers, this film is also regarded as one of the very best from horror film maestro Dario Argento.

David Hemmings plays an Englishman in Turin, Italy, delving into the murder of a German medium in his apartment building, pursuing a killer intent on eliminating those who may provide clues to this and an older, ghastlier crime.

Argento's brilliant cinematography, choreographed kill scenes, and accompanying music by Italian prog rock group Goblin are all on display here, 2 years before his classic horror film, Suspiria. While still a victim of its era of film making, with some now glaringly awful visual effects, this is still a tight, tense and suspenseful movie. Fully deserving of its reputation.
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15. Board Game: Shape Up! [Average Rating:6.66 Unranked]
Board Game: Shape Up!
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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Long Time No See


I saw American Beauty when I was younger and a little less savvy about movies, and at the time I hated it. Watching it again now, I still don't love it but I have a much greater appreciation of the artistry involved. The film looks stunning, and I think the writing is great. They do a good job of capturing what can happen when people become disillusioned with suburban life, and most of the relationships seem authentic. Kevin Spacey is great in the lead role, although his attraction to Mena Suvari needed more subtlety around his wife and daughter, because that felt exaggerated to an unrealistic level. Perhaps the biggest revelation watching it this time was Wes Bentley. His character is fascinating, and I love how complex the relationship was between him and his father. The movie is also a bit of a murder mystery, because Lester tells us in voice-over at the beginning that he is going to die. So we know, through the whole film, a murder is probably coming in the final act but they keep adding characters who might want to kill him. This kind of escalating mystery is something I greatly enjoy in movies. I have a slight emotional disconnect from the characters, so the movie doesn't affect me as strong as I would like. Also I feel the ending is a bit unsatisfying, almost as if they didn't know what to do after the main character was dead. But I appreciate the care that went into making American Beauty a quality film, and I recognize now why so many people love it.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Wins against The Edge
Loses to X-Men: First Class
Loses to Picture Perfect
Loses to The Wolverine
Loses to Predator
Wins against Rush Hour 3
Wins against Chocolat
Wins against The Bourne Ultimatum
Wins against The Godfather
Wins against Gallipoli
Ranked 474 out of 1012
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16. Board Game: War and Peace [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:2642]
Board Game: War and Peace
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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The first act of Full Metal Jacket is basically perfection. It is pure genius as we get a feel for life in boot camp, and the damaging effects these difficult training techniques can have on recruits. While the quality of the film-making continued once Joker left boot camp, the story dropped off a little. There were still flashes of greatness, but it didn't gel into a complete story as well as I expected. However, the themes were effectively conveyed. You really get a feel for how damaging war can be on the men who must fight it, and what the military is compelled to do in order to keep those men fighting (even in a lost cause.) The final confrontation of the film is devastating and I love how it wraps things up and pays off on things foreshadowed up to that point. In fact, the more I reflect on the movie, the more I recognize its brilliance. I wonder if, upon further viewings, I might find that this is truly a 5-star classic. The only thing that makes me skeptical about the quality of Full Metal Jacket is Matthew Modine. I don't think he's the best actor for this role, and he doesn't really "become" the character. Everyone else seems perfectly fit to the film (particularly Lee Ermey as Gny. Sgt. Hartman) but he stands out as an actor delivering an uncomfortable performance that doesn't work as well as I would like. Despite that if you haven't seen Full Metal Jacket, and you have the stomach for war movies that feel gritty and realistic, then make watching it a priority.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Wins against The Edge
Wins against X-Men: First Class
Loses to National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Wins against Inglourious Basterds
Loses to Star Trek Beyond
Loses to Stargate
Loses to The Pink Panther Strikes Again
Loses to Paper Moon
Loses to The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Ranked 181 out of 1013
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17. Board Game: Addiction [Average Rating:4.62 Unranked]
Board Game: Addiction
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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I tend to struggle with a movie like Traffic that presents a problem which exists in the real world, shows how widespread and devastating the problem is, and then essentially tells us there's nothing we can do about it. Traffic, in case you didn't know, is specifically about the issue of illegal drug trafficking. It tells the story from many different perspectives, and includes at least 7 different main characters whose lives occasionally intersect. It's like Love Actually if it wasn't funny and lacked any sign of hope. However, despite the bleakness of the film, I was impressed with some of the performances. Michael Douglas, Benicio Del Toro, and Don Cheadle were all standouts for me. While most of the stories feel familiar or even cliched, I was at least pleased to see they were presented well by the cast and the director. There are no big gaping plot holes, or fundamental flaws in the production of Traffic. In fact I would have a hard time nitpicking much that was definitively bad in the film. It just wasn't a style that appeals to me. If there was a revelation at the end that at least felt like closure, or if there were a glimmer of hope somewhere, then I might have appreciated it more. If you are not bothered by stories in this style, then I'd say you should watch Traffic despite the fact that it didn't really work for me.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Wins against Eddie the Eagle
Loses to Dave
Loses to Picture Perfect
Loses to The Wolverine
Loses to Predator
Wins against Cop Land
Loses to Son in Law
Wins against Cake
Wins against *batteries not included
Loses to Chocolat
Ranked 484 out of 1014
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18. Board Game: 19th Hole Golf [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: 19th Hole Golf
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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I am a big fan of legal dramas that involve the little guy taking on big corporate creeps, and that is mostly what Erin Brockovich is about. Yes, it's focused on the titular character and we occasionally have to sidetrack the film for family time with the Brockovich's, but the majority of the plot is about this one big case that changes her life. I loved all the legal investigation stuff and the acting was pretty good too. Surprisingly, I actually thought Albert Finney's performance was better than Julia Roberts. He was the best, and I kept wanting to see more of him throughout the movie. The actor that I could have used less of was Aaron Eckhart. He is completely wrong for his role, and every time he appeared I wanted to tell him to take off the Halloween costume and act like the clean-cut sophisticated gentleman that we all know he was born to play. It didn't help that those scenes between Eckhart and Roberts were the most tedious parts of the movie and distracted from what was far more interesting. I get the point of the scenes, because it is an interesting idea to show the catch-22 that a single mom can be caught in when she has to provide for her kids, but in so doing she can't be with her kids. Unfortunately, I thought the presentation of that dilemma was not great and they definitely gave it short shrift in the script.

The fact that Erin Brockovich fails to properly resolve problems that it raises is really the number one flaw in the film. They make it seem important that she is occasionally not giving her kids the attention they need, but then a single moment where the son offers to pick her up breakfast is supposed to make us say "Oh, now it's OK, because the kids understand." Real life tells us that this hasn't really fixed anything except that specific moment in her day. The movie is also too effective at vilifying the idea of sharing the case with a bigger firm, and the subsequent choice to go with arbitration. They really hammer this home because Erin has a very contentious relationship with the members of this other firm. Yet somewhere along the way we're just supposed to let all that go, because Ed Masry says so. However, despite some flaws, I found the overall experience of watching Erin Brockovich to be pleasant and I enjoyed the (admittedly predictable) conclusion to the film.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Wins against Eddie the Eagle
Wins against X-Men: First Class
Loses to National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Loses to Moon
Loses to Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Loses to Pitch Perfect 2
Loses to Murder By Death
Wins against The African Queen
Wins against The 'Burbs
Wins against The Hateful Eight
Ranked 246 out of 1015
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19. Board Game: Wish You Were Here...? [Average Rating:6.67 Unranked]
Board Game: Wish You Were Here...?
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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Three bad actresses meet in Italy and set the women's rights movement back a century as they desperately search for a husband so that they can feel they have worth. Yes, I realize this film is a product of its time, and the 1950s wasn't the most progressive time in our history, but I was just stunned with how backwards the thinking was in this movie. Woman #1 has abandoned hopes of finding a husband in Italy, so she plans on moving back to the US to increase her odds of catching one. Woman #2 engages in an extremely elaborate string of lies and tricks in order to manipulate a man into marrying her. And finally, woman #3 convinces her boss (who is clearly gay) to propose to her even though he may die soon and he only proposes to keep her from leaving. So we start with weak characters doing stupid things for pathetic reasons. That would be bad enough but then there's the presentation. The director of this movie clearly had about as much interest in the story as I did, because Three Coins in the Fountain plays more like an elaborate video travelogue. There are literally 5-10 minute montages of images depicting the sites in Rome placed throughout the film. Every time someone steps outside they start up another slideshow of "Places to see in Rome." Hey, and as long as I'm complaining, I might as well mention that the title is even false because only 2 of the women actually drop a coin in the fountain. I swear the best part of this movie was just hearing Sinatra perform the theme song. This was nominated for Best Picture?? Ugh!

Ranking on my Flickchart
Loses to Spy
Loses to Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone
Loses to Interstellar
Wins against The Goonies
Wins against Richie Rich
Wins against Grease
Loses to The Fog
Loses to The Boss
Loses to Village of the Damned
Loses to Inside Llewyn Davis
Ranked 904 out of 1016
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20. Board Game: Walter Wick Can You See What I See? [Average Rating:5.92 Overall Rank:13972]
Board Game: Walter Wick Can You See What I See?
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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Blindness is a film about a disease that makes people blind and in order to stop the spread, the blind are quarantined together. I thought the concept of this movie started off strong, but it turned bad and progressively got worse from there. The idea of grouping together a bunch of people who don't know how to deal with being blind, and then one sighted person making it in there with them is interesting. However, it seems that every human being in this film is an idiot. I mean we have a doctor who should know that clearly his wife has some kind of immunity, and therefore she needs to get out of the quarantine as quickly as possible so scientists can work on a cure. But instead he's content to have her be nursemaid to an entire ward full of blind people. Then there's the rest of the people in the ward who are so dumb that they can't realize the woman who always knows how to guide them around can see!

Finally, and more befuddling than all the rest, there's the stupidity of the seeing woman who allows herself and others to get raped instead of utilizing her huge advantage in order to take control of the entire situation. No, she has to wait until after one of the women has been murdered in order to decide it might be a good idea to do something. Blindness was literally two long hours of me just saying things like "Wait, why didn't they..." "Hold on, you could just..." "Stop being an idiot, and..." I hated the characters, I hated the story, and I hated them so much that I could not appreciate anything that might have been positive about the movie. I imagine there were some artistic choices that were interesting, and the unique look at what happens when society breaks down was special, but I couldn't care less because it was presented in the stupidest way possible. Just thinking about this movie again is making me want to punch something.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Loses to Eddie the Eagle
Loses to The Wind Rises
Loses to An American Tail
Wins against The Goonies
Loses to Richie Rich
Loses to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Wins against Hancock
Loses to Rush
Loses to The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
Loses to Volunteers
Ranked 944 out of 1017
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21. Board Game: Transportation Tricks [Average Rating:6.14 Unranked]
Board Game: Transportation Tricks
Stephen Roney
United States
Ladera Ranch
California
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Transporter 3


The third installment of this Statham series still has good action sequences, but to me, it definitely falls below the other two. The device of attaching a bomb to the wrist of the driver and cargo that detonates if it moves too far from the car is an unwelcome complication, especially for this series. It does add some constraints that cause some interesting stunts to happen, but also creates an unbelievable chase where Statham is trying to keep up with his car when another driver steals it.

The action is good, but some of the story elements are just a little too far out there for me (and I am usually pretty flexible on that).

It probably belongs a little higher on Flickchart, but I need to figure out which movie caused that.

Flickchart
Loses to Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
Loses to Despicable Me (this is probably too low - may be my problem)
Beats Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Beats Babes in Toyland
Beats How The West Was Won
Beats Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous
Beats Poseidon
Beats Collateral Damage
Beats The Medallion
Loses to Pillow Talk
882 out of 1173
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22. Board Game: Hack Trick [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:4251]
Board Game: Hack Trick
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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Long Time No See


I officially don't get why people think that Live Free or Die Hard was the first truly awful film in the franchise. In my opinion it's actually one of the better ones. This particular film is more in the vein of Die Hard With a Vengeance because it has John McClane fighting his way all around an entire city with a buddy. I'll admit that there are moments in the film that take everything to the extreme and perhaps push your suspension of disbelief. For one thing it falls into the typical movie idea of what hacking looks like (lots of fast typing,) and also it suggests that Justin Long with one keyboard can mystically break into any computer system with relative ease. Luckily, I've always been willing to forgive movie computers and the more simplistic/silly way they work. Some of the action is also a little over-the-top and extreme, but I think if you've made it this far in the Die Hard franchise then you can probably accept the fact that John McClane is basically a superhero. If you get past the hard-to-believe parts of the film, it is actually a solid story. I love that it gets personal at the end because I can feel the emotion in Bruce Willis' performance. I also enjoyed Justin Long's character getting stuck with McClane since their personalities clash. Live Free or Die Hard isn't all that smart, but it is a ton of fun.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Wins against Eddie the Eagle
Wins against Dave
Loses to National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Wins against Inglourious Basterds
Wins against The Bridge on the River Kwai
Loses to WALL-E
Loses to The Music Man
Loses to Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Loses to Gravity
Loses to Wayne's World
Ranked 159 out of 1018
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23. Board Game: Hands in the Sea [Average Rating:7.92 Overall Rank:1614]
Board Game: Hands in the Sea
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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Winter's Bone is the tale of a 17-year-old girl who is trying to take care of her family since her mother has gone crazy and her dad has gone missing. It is a very good character piece, and I can see why Jennifer Lawrence grabbed the attention of both the Academy and movie studios. Her portrayal of this girl with the entire world on her shoulders was superb, and she went through the full gamut of emotions in her performance. The style of the film is kind of tough to get into, because it is one of those independent films with almost zero exposition. So we, as an audience, have to piece together what is going on through a number of conversations between the different characters. Even with that, I sometimes struggled to understand exactly what was going on because there was clearly so much history between everyone, and since they all know what went on they don't feel the need to talk about it for our benefit. Once I deciphered it all, the story was a little flat and uninteresting. I think they were trying to add a bit of mystery to the plot, but I wasn't intrigued by it. There are a few scenes that shine above the rest, and those are the things that will stick in my memory, but the movie lacked something for me. I can see the craftsmanship that went into making it, and I appreciate why many people would love Winter's Bone. It might not work well for me, but it could for many others.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Wins against Eddie the Eagle
Loses to Dave
Loses to Picture Perfect
Loses to Tootsie
Loses to American Beauty
Loses to Copland
Loses to Summer Stock
Loses to The Spy Who Loved Me
Loses to As Good As It Gets
Loses to Spy
Ranked 509 out of 1019
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24. Board Game: Casting [Average Rating:6.18 Overall Rank:11028]
Board Game: Casting
Wendell
United States
Yellow Springs
Ohio
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CASTING BY

This is a documentary about Marion Dougherty, who for decades was a prominent casting director. Interesting - I also learned a lot about the history of casting in movies and TV, and about the process.

Dougherty was a big player - she cast a lot of well-known movies like The World According to Garp and Midnight Cowboy and Taxi Driver and Lethal Weapon.

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25. Board Game: Dark Future: White Line Fever [Average Rating:6.40 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.40 Unranked]
Board Game: Dark Future: White Line Fever
J.L. Robert
United States
Sherman Oaks
California
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Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)


George Miller brings back to the big screen the character that put him on the film making map. Sadly, I feel he would have been better off leaving the legacy where it was.

Tom Hardy takes over the title role that made Mel Gibson famous. Here, our former police patrolman escapes capture from yet another post-apolcalyptic fiefdom, joining forces with fellow refugees from the same canyon-based empire on their quest for a better life beyond. The typical epic motor pursuit ensues, with many gallons of fuel expended frivolously in this world where processed resources are scarce.

I didn't find the story engaging. The dialogue was all but inaudible (I sat about 10 ft. from my tv with the volume cranked up to the 70's...and still had difficulty understanding the mumbling between Hardy and Charlize Theron). There was no incentive for the antagonists to have captured Max to begin with; they could have just killed him and have been done with it all. The angle of Max being haunted by his past were simply plot devices, and not explained to audiences who may have been new to the franchise.

This was really a lot of Mad Max that I've already seen back in the 80's and 90's. I don't get why this was such a big deal when it came out because it fails to bring anything new to the mythos.
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