Movies You Watched in November 2016
Ben Lott
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This is a geeklist to discuss the movies you watch throughout the month of November. 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: Dante's Inferno [Average Rating:4.71 Overall Rank:19341]
Board Game: Dante's Inferno
A face in the crowd
Canada
Chestermere
Alberta
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My wife and I went to see Inferno the other night.

We both enjoyed the book more than the movie, but the movie had some gorgeous scenery and the memories of places we visited in Florence and Venice came flooding back ("he didn't just use "Venice" and "flood" in the same sentence? Oh yes he did!!).

They had to compress the storyline a fair bit, but it wasn't a bad effort.
I'll give it a 3.5 out of 5 rating; the extra 0.5 is for nostalgic reasons.

Of the three Dan Brown novels that Ron Howard and Tom Hanks have now completed, the best movie was the middle one, Angels and Demons.
The DaVinci Code and Inferno are about equal.
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2. Board Game: Apollo [Average Rating:3.67 Unranked]
Board Game: Apollo
Ben Lott
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Mason
Michigan
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New to Me


I was led to believe that Room 237 was a little out there, but still made for an interesting movie. I'm here to tell you that, in my opinion, it makes for an utterly stupid movie. Essentially this film is like listening to a handful of insane conspiracy theorists spout off nonsense for almost 2 hours. These people have taken a brilliantly-made film (The Shining) and decided to draw crazy interpretations out of every little thing they see. They do this with the nutty idea that Stanley Kubrick somehow intentionally put in images to slyly reference things like fake moon landing footage, or the atrocities committed against Native Americans. The movie does a good job of showing us the images the wackos reference while telling us what they see in that image and I'm looking at it thinking "You're only seeing that because you want to shoehorn your loony viewpoint into a film that clearly has nothing to do with what you're saying. That picture is just a man skiing, not a minotaur you nut job!" Room 237 is an utter waste of time listening to a handful of people you would ordinarily call crack pots, as they get their 15 minutes of fame and talk about something they are both passionate about and wrong about. TL:DR - Let's see, I used the words utterly stupid, insane, nonsense, crazy, nutty, wackos, loony, nut job, crack pots, and wrong...I think that effectively sums it up.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Loses to Sunset Blvd.
Loses to Man of Steel
Loses to Sophie's Choice
Loses to A.I.: Artificial Intelligence
Loses to Dawn of the Dead
Wins against Nurse
Loses to Identity Thief
Loses to Children of the Corn
Loses to Force Majeure
Wins against Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro
Ranked 1051 out of 1071
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3. Board Game: Vampire [Average Rating:5.91 Overall Rank:6481]
Board Game: Vampire
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I saw a lot of movies this month!

In order of worst-to-best:


Mascots (2016, dir. by Christopher Guest)
6/10
This is a Netflix original by Christopher Guest. It's one of his "mockumentaries" (along with Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Might Wind, and For your Consideration).

I'm a HUGE Guest fan, some of his mockumentaries are among my favorite all-time movies. So I was really, really excited for this.
Unfortunately, it fell kind of flat. He uses the same actors and they improv, so a lot of it was just kind of reminiscent of his other movies. It just wasn't as funny, and wasn't as engaging. It had a few bright spots, but, even for the hard-core Guest fans, I'd still say give this one a "pass".



The Magnificent Seven (2016, dir. by Antoine Fuqua)
7/10
Saw it in the theaters.
Fun "popcorn movie" action-filled Western. After so many games of BANG!, it was cool to see why the game makes such a big deal about Gatling Guns. It was relatively forgettable though - it wasn't anywhere near the epic, classic "Seven Samurai" source material.




10 Cloverfield Lane (2016, dir. by Dan Trachtenberg)
8/10
Saw it on Netflix DVD.
I was always fascinated by the "Hatch" parts of Lost, and this seemed similar, which is what drew me to it. Ended up being a pretty fun little thriller. The acting and direction was really good; John Goodman especially. Unfortunately
Spoiler (click to reveal)
knowing it was in the Cloverfield universe via the title spoiled a big part of the tension that would have otherwise been there - we know at least he's telling the truth about a catastrophe occurring.
But, still it was cool that in the end,
Spoiler (click to reveal)
he was both telling the truth AND was also a kidnapper/murderer.
Worth watching if you like psychological dramas/thrillers. Very tense.



Battlestar Galactica: The Plan (2009, dir. by Edward James Olmos)
10/10
Saw it on Netflix DVD.
I had seen the entire series twice - it's one of my all-time favorite TV shows.
But, this was my first time watching The Plan. I was a little hesitant going in. I wasn't sure if it would be better to have "the plan" be left to my imagination rather then getting all the details. But, I'm glad I watched it, it was very well-done. I ended up with some interesting insights into the cylon perspective. And, it was like a family reunion, seeing all the old familiar characters again even after the show had ended.



Shanghai Express (1932, dir. by Josef von Sternberg)
10/10
My local art museum showed a screening of this B&W classic with Marlene Dietrich. It's a drama, but also very funny, and both Dietrich and the other female lead were surprisingly modern and played against gender stereotype for the era. Their characters would've fit into one of today's movies. I loved seeing all the details of the old world of transcontinental train travel.



Young Frankenstein (1974, dir. by Mel Brooks)
10/10
Watched on DVD.
Watched this as part of a Halloween double header, in honor of Gene Wilder's passing. I've seen it many times, it's one of my favorites - it never gets old. Walk this way...



Shadow of the Vampire (2000, dir. by E. Elias Merhige)
10/10
Watched on DVD.
Second part of the Halloween double header - this was my first time watching the movie. It's based on the premise that the 1922 vampire classic Nosferatu was filmed using an actual vampire. Willem Dafoe is in I'd say one of his best roles ever as the vampire, and John Malkovich is the "director" of Nosferatu. Really creepy movie, but also quite funny at times. This takes the crown as the best movie I saw in October.
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4. Board Game: Swiss Family Robinson [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Swiss Family Robinson
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Portland
Oregon
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With a toddler in the house my wife and I don't see movies during their theatrical release, if there is one. A lot of what we watch is streamable or from my friend's Plex server.

This one was "recommended" by a co-worker of my wife's. It's available for rent on Amazon so it was easy enough for us to procure. I'm thinking it may have had a narrow release, so if you're not on one of the coasts or have an art house theater around you may have never heard of it.

Short synopsis: Man stranded on island finds a corpse that has washed ashore. After that it's anything goes. Literally. The ending will try to wrap up what the viewer has just seen for the previous 100 minutes, and I'm sure those viewers were probably quite divided on their opinions.

Me? Um, I'd say research a little bit and decide for yourself. It's....different.
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5. Board Game: Astral Conflict [Average Rating:7.25 Unranked]
Board Game: Astral Conflict
Ben Lott
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Mason
Michigan
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No worries if you haven't seen the movie yet, I'm keeping this spoiler-free:

New to Me

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Doctor Strange (in 3-D)
=

I read a lot of Marvel Comics in my day, but Doctor Strange was one character I never cared about. The whole idea of magic just didn't work for me, so I was not looking forward to this film. Luckily Marvel Studios continues to impress me with the way it can take odd or uninteresting characters and make them entertaining. The structure of Doctor Strange's origin is action-packed, occasionally humorous, and surprisingly made some sense. Sadly, there's a lot of training and explaining that I am worried might feel tedious on re-watches. I mean the film is trying to establish an entire multiverse of new ideas, so some heavy exposition is going to be necessary. I also get a little tired of the constant goofy hand gestures used to create the magic. But the CGI effects that are added in somehow make it work, and not seem so silly. Speaking of being silly, they definitely attempted to put a healthy amount of humor in the film. Sometimes I found it great and extremely effective. But there were other times when the humor was a little too hokey considering the dark feel of what is going on. That being said, I'll take a couple ill-timed puns over a film that is over-serious and depressing like Batman-v-Superman.

Benedict Cumberbatch was perfectly fit for the conceited and then humbled doctor. His American accent is spectacular, and he definitely looks the part. If every movie ever made could have Chiwetel Ejiofor I'd be a happy camper. His performance is nuanced and he has his own dramatic arc through the film that surprised me. Rachel McAdams is the token love interest that often gets forgotten in these super hero films, yet she actually got to take an active role in a couple places. It's debatable whether that will continue forward into any future films, but I find her charming and would like to see her back. Tilda Swinton is odd and mystical as the Ancient One, which I suppose is appropriate for the character. I didn't feel she brought anything special to the role, so they could have avoided the white-washing controversy by casting someone else who fit the region and could spout ancient bits of wisdom. Most critics of MCU films will say that the villains are lackluster, and I can't argue with that in Doctor Strange. Mads Mikkelsen can deliver some elaborate bad guy monologues, and looks intimidating, but he doesn't have much depth to his character.

The real wonder you will find in Doctor Strange are the visual effects. It is easily the most unique-looking Marvel film to date. You get the feel for it in the trailers, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. They show a few trips through different regions of the multiverse, and I found that all stunningly rendered by the CGI team. This is also where the 3-D made the movie shine. I thought the 3-D was a double-edged sword in Doctor Strange. On the one side it made those effects-heavy moments look remarkable, but on the other side the visual style of the film was pretty dark and the 3-D glasses only increased that. The final battle was by far my favorite part of the film. There is one aspect of the climax that was perfectly suited to my taste, and I couldn't help grinning from ear-to-ear like an idiot through the whole thing. I'm concerned how it might affect future films, because we don't want this one character to be too powerful, because there would be no danger or stakes. But that was basically the last thing on my mind while enjoying these scenes. I'm still not convinced that Doctor Strange is ever going to be one of my favorite characters in the MCU, but I must admit this film was pure fun to watch. True, it was a flawed origin story but it was totally one-of-a-kind, and that's what Marvel needs right now.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Wins against Edward Scissorhands
Wins against Now, Voyager
Wins against Happy Gilmore
Loses to Guardians of the Galaxy
Loses to Short Term 12
Wins against Infernal Affairs
Wins against The Rock
Loses to The Amazing Spider-Man
Loses to Music & Lyrics
Loses to Rear Window
Ranked 109 out of 1073
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6. Board Game: Punch Your Lights Out [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Punch Your Lights Out
John Reiners
United States
New York
New York
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I saw Lights Out on ITunes. I had heard that there was this great horror/suspense movie about three teens sneaking into a blind mans house to rob him but all is not as it seems. He's actually hyper aware and can hear them walking around and they have to get out of the house before they all die. It sounded like fun, and it got some good reviews. So I saw Lights out for rent and thought I'd give it a go.

Lights Out is not that movie. Lights out is a generic horror movie that sucks. It's about a spirit that follows this woman around and kills people or something . I don't know because I only half watched it once I realized I had the wrong movie. Good performances for a horror movie. But, it was garbage.
It gets a 3 out of 10

Incidentally, the movie I THOUGHT i was renting is Don't Breathe.
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7. Board Game: Storms of Shambhala [Average Rating:7.67 Unranked]
Board Game: Storms of Shambhala
Atnier Rodriguez
United States
Monroe
Connecticut
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DR. STRANGE

Dr. Strange is an iconic character in the Marvel Universe that is both significantly indispensable and a pain to incorporate in any story that’s not a magic story, due to how incredibly powerful he can be. But if there’s a cosmic crisis or anything big enough to have the Avengers summoned, you bet your astral butt that Dr. Strange will be consulted at some point. We trust in Marvel to do a good job making him feel part of the ensemble of the Avengers in coming movies, just like we trusted Marvel to deliver another fun superhero movie, which they once again did.

I give it an 8 out of 10.

FUN FACTOR: It is an overall fun experience even if it is less comedic than the Iron Man entries (Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy are still the funniest by far). It does not need that humor throughout though, as its strength is the adventurous journey through the magical unknown. You will go on a journey and be awed/confused at least once. It is trippy.

THE HERO: Cumberbatch is fine as Dr. Strange. He’s neither instantly charismatic like Downey as Tony Stark, nor undeserving of the role. He basically feels like he’s Dr. Strange and how you feel about him is on you. By the end of the movie, he regains a balance between “I’m still learning” and “I am a powerful sorcerer”, not being completely arrogant, but knowing that he’s eons ahead of most people in both knowledge and capabilities.

THE SUPPORTING CAST: It’s okay, but granted, there was a lot of exposition that they had to cram in while making another origins story of zero-to-hero, so the pacing had to sacrifice some elements in some areas. Still, the Night Nurse (title that I wish was reserved only for Rosario Dawson’s character in the Netflix Marvel series), is helpful and shows some of that personality of someone who could stand toe to toe with Dr. Strange without having the same level of knowledge or power.

Ejiofor as Master Mordo is interesting enough, because he hints of having a terrible past that we never hear about. He inflects a lot of passion and pain in his words, so he’s definitely someone I would like to know more about and see what’s making him tick a certain way.

The Ancient One didn’t need to be Tilda Swinton, but she doesn’t devalue the character any further. Tilda is one of the most androgynous actresses/actors we’ve seen, so she’s definitely eerie and interesting without needing to say a single word. She plays a wise, ancient master trying to fix a mess created by a once-prized pupil gone dark. Definetely something we’ve seen many, many times.

Wong is okay. He needs a lot more screen time, because that actor can surely deliver outstanding screen presence as we’ve witnessed in Marco Polo. He’s barely here, but memorable when he’s present.

THE BAD GUY: He cannot be built to our levels of expectation of rich villain in an origin story. It just can’t happen when there’s so much ground to cover for our hero’s journey. With that said, he was a fearsome foe that looked the part and had some personality by the way he delivered some quips and well, by the gravitas that Madds Mikkelsen carries. He’s much better than Malekith in Dark World and hell, most of Iron Man’s foes in his own series.

HENCHMEN: I liked that they weren’t easy pushovers. They were all dangerous if the heroes were not careful in how they fought them, except maybe for the Ancient One, because well, she’s the Sorcerer Supreme after all.

PLOT: Serviceable, as a vehicle for an origin story but nothing too remarkable. We’ve seen the story beats before, but the caveat lies in how they are presented, which leads to…

THE BEST ELEMENT OF THE MOVIE: Visuals! Inception meets magic. Trippy by the way of M. C. Escher and Antonie van Leeuwenhoek. I watched it in regular format, but I imagine that 3D would make those visuals more special. Just like our esteemed Blott said, there’s nothing in the superhero movie world quite like this, but now there is, and we want more. Seriously, all magic used is beautiful to behold. Hawkeye firing an explosive arrow could never compare. Also, the setting for the fights and the fights themselves show that they took time to present them in way that we’ve rarely seen before if seen at all. Yes, Inception is a huge inspiration for this movie, and I’m glad it was.

AFTER-CREDITS SCENES: Two. First one right after movie but before long credits. Second one right after long credits. First one is fun and better, sets up for future team-ups. Second one is okay, but it just sets up for next Dr. Strange movie.

MINOR ISSUES: (SPOILERISH)
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Dr. Strange’s wound is near fatal but he’s running and jumping and doing all sorts of things with nary a pained look or hesitation due to exhaustion. Could’ve been tightened up with him applying some astral seal to the wound post real world medicinal stitching fix. Or, lengthening the recovery process.

The bargain deal towards the end of the movie will not be fresh to fans of the anime Naruto (and I imagine other works did it too before), as that’s something definitely cool but it felt better used to me in that anime, where ninjas basically use magic and one of them also uses time/space distortion.

Some fights happened off-screen, like the bad guy and his accomplices wrecking Hong Kong prior to Dr. Strange’s arrival. Would have been cooler to witness everything, but I understand there was a time constraint and budget limit to meet. If they had been in animated or comics form, they probably would have covered all of them.


OVERALL: Another fun entry that makes me look forward to more appearances of Dr. Strange, magic and Marvel characters. Make mine Marvel!
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8. Board Game: Art of War [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:11527]
Board Game: Art of War
Stephen Roney
United States
Ladera Ranch
California
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Art of War(2000)


Wesley Snipes is an agent for the U.N. who is framed for the murder of the Chinese Ambassador at a dinner celebrating a new trade agreement. A Chinese interpreter knows he is innocent and helps him sort out what has happened.

Pretty typical Snipes vehicle.

Flickchart
Beats Moonraker
Loses to Deadpool
Loses to Apollo 13
Beats Honey I Shrunk the Kids
Beats M*A*S*H
Loses to Crimson Tide
Loses to The Wolverine(2013)
Loses to School of Rock
Beats Chicken Run
Beats The Two Mrs. Carrolls
496 of 1232
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9. Board Game: Mississippi Fortress [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:10051]
Board Game: Mississippi Fortress
Stephen Roney
United States
Ladera Ranch
California
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Free State of Jones


This is inspired by the true story of Newton Knight, who deserted his unit in the Civil War and joined up with runaway slaves and ultimately other deserters in the swamps of Mississippi. They eventually took control of three counties away from the Confederacy. The movie also covers Reconstruction, as well as a case involving a great-grandson, who was arrested for marrying a white girl because of having 1/8 negro blood.

It has some brutal Civil War-era battle violence, for which it gets it R rating. It seems to me to do a good job of staying true to era. I think it deserved a wider audience than it got.

Flickchart
Beats Man Who Knew Too Much
Beats Absolute Power
Loses to How To Train Your Dragon
Beats Rush Hour 3
Loses to Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Loses to Hancock
Loses to First Knight
Loses to Frankenstein(1931)
Beats The Pride of the Yankees
Loses to X-Men: The Last Stand
236 out of 1278
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10. Board Game: Dark Darker Darkest [Average Rating:6.33 Overall Rank:3945]
Board Game: Dark Darker Darkest
This is a bit of a response to #6 above. We also saw Don't Breathe last month, and I really enjoyed it. Solid film. So a friend recommended we watch Wait Until Dark.

Starring Audrey Hepburn and Alan Arkin, this 1967 suspense movie holds up rather well. Sure, Arkin's character is a bit overdone, but the film really seduces you. I was reminded of another film where most of the scenes take place within an apartment - Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder. And then I learned that both films were adapted from the same English playright, Frederick Knott. Definitely recommended.
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11. Board Game: Interstellar Envoys [Average Rating:9.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Interstellar Envoys
Stephen Roney
United States
Ladera Ranch
California
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Interstellar


Friday was Matthew McConaughey's birthday, and the Flickcharters group on Facebook did a "birthday chart" for him and Interstellar was on top. Seeing that, I immediately moved it to the top of my mental "to stream" list and watched it yesterday on Amazon Prime Video.

I didn't really know much about this movie, except McConaughey and Anne Hathaway in space. So I was somewhat surprised that it started out in farmland, in kind of a dustbowl situation. I didn't notice a date or any explanation for the state they were in, just that the earth population was significantly reduced and that McConaughey's father (John Lithgow) at least remembered when the population was six billion.

McConaughey's daughter decodes some message that gives them coordinates to a location that is now the base for NASA, which has been forced to become a secret organization which is searching for a solution to the dying planet. Soon McConaughey and Hathaway and a couple of other people are on a space ship, heading through a worm hole in search of previous missions that had been scouting possible habitable planets.

The effects are good and the story is also good of most of the movie, though I did have some problems with the end.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
When McConaughey goes through the wormhole and ends up in this weird structure, it reminded me of the worst parts of 2001:A Space Odyssey and I didn't really buy it.


Flickchart
Beats Roxanne
Beats Rainmaker
Loses to Clear and Present Danger
Beats Jurassic World
Loses to Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Beats Hancock
Beats Vertigo
Loses to Fantastic Voyage
Beats Angels With Dirty Faces
Loses to Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan
207 out of 1283

I think when I straighten out some issues on my chart this will end up lower.
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12. Board Game: Afrika Korps [Average Rating:6.20 Overall Rank:4510]
Board Game: Afrika Korps
Stephen Roney
United States
Ladera Ranch
California
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Sahara(1943)


Humphrey Bogart is a sergeant in charge of a tank in northern Africa during World War II. He and two Americans have survived a big battle and are on their own. They meet up with a group of half a dozen or so British soldiers and also a Sudanese soldier with an Italian prisoner. They are attacked by a German fighter and eventually shoot him down and capture the pilot. This group then locates a water well and is able to get enough water to survive on, but Germans show up and want it as well, and they decide to hold their ground and battle it out.

The combination of black and white and the Hayes Code sanitizes the bloodshed quite a bit, but the enemy soldiers are portrayed fairly even-handedly for a film made during the war. Especially the Italian soldier is quite humanized.

I watched this because I am trying to fill out my Flickchart with at least the movies that I own. Some of them (like this one), I don't remember well enough to rate them, so I will be doing a lot of rematching to fill in the holes.

Flickchart
Loses to Roxanne
Beats Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
Beats Black Knight
Beats The Rescuers
Beats Ice Age 2:The Meltdown
Beats The Harder They Fall
Beats The Karate Kid (2010)
Beats Armageddon
Loses to Sleeper
647 out of 1284
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13. Board Game: Cold War [Average Rating:6.15 Overall Rank:8156]
Board Game: Cold War
Stephen Roney
United States
Ladera Ranch
California
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Iron Petticoat


It is 1956. Katherine Hepburn is a Russian fighter pilot, Captain Vinka Kovelenko, who flies her plane to Germany because they promoted a male pilot to Major over her. Bob Hope is the decorated American Air Force Major Chuck Lockwood, who is assigned to get Kovelenko to defect.

What could wrong?? Everything.....

Hepburn's accent feels very stereotypical, and the budding romance between Hepburn and Hope does not seem all that natural, but the train wreck of Hepburn and Hope did keep the movie marginally watchable, so we did finish it.

Not recommended, though.

Flickchart
Loses to Roxanne
Loses to Thor:The Dark World
Loses to Waterworld
Loses to William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet
Loses to The Pink Panther(2006)
Loses to About a Boy
Loses to Lost In Translation
Beats I Don't Know How She Does It
Beats The Seven Year Itch
Loses to What Happens In Vegas...
1275 of 1283
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14. Board Game: Woman & Man [Average Rating:2.30 Unranked]
Board Game: Woman & Man
Meat Popsicle
United States
Portland
Oregon
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No Men Beyond This Point

(Source medium: Netflix)



This was shot in the style of a documentary, which I think works well with the subject matter. In short, the movie is a look at an alternate history where women are able to reproduce without the need for sperm (parthenogenesis). The movie centers on the youngest living male who is 37-years-old and works as a housekeeper in an all-female household.

I found it to be an interesting look at an alternate history focusing on one particular evolutionary what-if. The actors, for the most part, do a great job in playing to the style of the film. The filmmakers also created fake historical video scenes to "authenticate" this alternate history, which reinforces the believability of the "story."
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15. Board Game: The Land of Cotton Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: The Land of Cotton Game
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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While I was watching the first 30 minutes of The Little Foxes I would have struggled to explain who the characters are or what they are doing. There's a lot of confusing discussion before I was on board with the story. Essentially this film is about a family that owns a large amount of cotton fields in the South, and they are trying to get a Chicago businessman to build a factory on their land to process the cotton. What we discover as this unfolds is that most of the members of this family will do almost anything to make it happen and to ensure that they get the biggest cut of the profits from the new factory. The Little Foxes is definitely a film loaded with antagonists, and they seem to often be in the power positions of the story, so for viewers (like me) who enjoy having someone to root for it might be a struggle. The acting performances were top-notch, in particular I loved the interactions between Bette Davis and Herbert Marshall. The film is loaded with clever camera work that frames the scenes perfectly, and maintains a deep focus so we can appreciate what is happening in the background. Despite the fact that the images were captured so well, the way the scenes are staged and the design of the sets felt like they came straight from a theater show instead of a film. The dialogue also felt relatively untouched from the original stage-play. There's nothing inherently bad about The Little Foxes, particularly once you know who is who and what is going on, in fact I think many aspects were done well. Yet it didn't resonate fully for me, and I can't see myself watching it again.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Loses to Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
Wins against Man of Steel
Wins against The Hundred-Foot Journey
Wins against Adaptation
Loses to Traffic
Loses to Alien
Loses to The Lavender Hill Mob
Wins against Sicario
Wins against The Pink Panther
Wins against My Dinner with Andre
Ranked 592 out of 1070
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16. Board Game: Cookie Fu: Grandmaster Chi Battles [Average Rating:3.85 Unranked] [Average Rating:3.85 Unranked]
Board Game: Cookie Fu: Grandmaster Chi Battles
Atnier Rodriguez
United States
Monroe
Connecticut
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KUNG FU PANDA 3

Saw it available in Netflix, and decided to give it a whirl. I did like the previous two, but I hadn't heard much about this latest entry.

I give it a 6.5 out of 10.

It was better than I expected. Still visually colorful and at times, amazingly so. Quite a bit of humor still effective.

However, plot was generic and afraid of going into drama unlike many other animated movies are currently doing. It definitely feels like they are concerned on staying fully comedy and everything else just happens to be there accidentally.

Villain is alright. He's weaker in concept than the previous two main villains and does not really come across as that threatening. His story arc is odd too, in that he was a hero turned evil on a dime.

The climactic fight is fully resolved through tropes that are undeserving of the animation quality.

Every time I read the cast names, I can't hope but feel they are wasting so much money in well-known actors and actresses having a handful of lines and barely qualifying as support cast. Lucy Liu as the snake probably had one or two lines in the whole movie. I think they all could have done their scenes in one or two hours and go home to enjoy their checks.

Anyway, not a bad movie, but it's more spectacular visually than in actual content.
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17. Board Game: Love Affairs [Average Rating:3.75 Unranked]
Board Game: Love Affairs
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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New to Me


Now, Voyager is a film that takes place over an indeterminate amount of time as we meet a damaged young woman who goes through therapy and becomes much stronger and more independent. She then falls in love and has to deal with the difficulty of loving a man who she can never be with. This is a tour de force from Bette Davis who displays such remarkable depth and range in the character of Charlotte Vale. Also notable is the brilliant Claude Rains who adds so much to the character of therapist Dr. Jaquith in a limited number of scenes. I have a hard time with films that focus heavily on affair-based romances, particularly when they will not be leaving their spouses, and that's what happens in this movie. However, they utilize that as a plot point and actually make a brilliant 3rd act turn that I didn't see coming. It might be one of the most romantic endings without being romantic at all, which will make sense if you see the film. I didn't love the passage of time in Now, Voyager because they would jump a lot and it was kind of disorienting for me. I wish they had put a note on the screen indicating how long it has been since the last scene, in order to instantly get me in the right frame of mind for the next scene. Also there are parts of the film that drag, and in a modern romance they would have trimmed down some of that stuff. Despite some flaws I still think Now, Voyager is a very good film and one I'd gladly watch again sometime.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Wins against Sunset Blvd.
Wins against Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
Loses to Airplane!
Loses to Live Free or Die Hard
Loses to Moon
Loses to Unforgiven
Wins against City Lights
Loses to The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Loses to Tangled
Loses to Kind Hearts and Coronets
Ranked 258 out of 1072
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18. Board Game: Smugglers [Average Rating:5.78 Overall Rank:12320]
Board Game: Smugglers
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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New to Me


I thought the first Jack Reacher movie was relatively fun, but I never felt the urge to watch it again. I suspect I will have a similar reaction over time to the sequel. Never Go Back feels a lot like an extended episode of a primetime procedural cop show (one of those ones with all the initials in the titles.) But, I'll admit, I kind of like those shows. The plot of this movie is very lackluster (just like a subpar episode of NCIS.) For one thing they couldn't figure out what movie they wanted to make because the setup is all built around a conspiracy that puts a Major (who was in charge of the Military Police) and Reacher himself in jail, but then they awkwardly insert a strange subplot of Reacher possibly having a daughter. The 2 stories seem totally unrelated, and the movie struggles a lot to connect them. Yet where the plot failed to connect it's divergent strands, I was succesfully connecting with the characters. While I didn't care much about the detail of the case that created all these problems, they made the villains nasty enough and the heroes likable enough that I was invested in seeing the resolution. In fact in the final fight I actually reached that intense, gritting-my-teeth moment that I look for in movies that get me rooting for the hero to destroy the villain. Never Go Back is probably a movie that I won't remember all that well, it's not one that I can see myself recommending, and yet it I found it strangely satisfying and I'd probably watch it again if asked.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Wins against The Pacifier
Wins against Maverick
Loses to Odd Thomas
Loses to Scream
Loses to Elf
Loses to Frozen
Loses to Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Loses to Outbreak
Loses to Mother
Loses to Kind Hearts and Coronets
Loses to Yojimbo
Ranked 268 out of 1074
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19. Board Game: Smoking Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Smoking Game
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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All the root elements of this movie are the kind of thing I would ordinarily love. The murder mystery is full of twists and tough to figure out, the wise-cracking detective is engaging, but the structure of the film didn't work all that well for me. I can take a nice slow burn in a movie like this, but I didn't feel like Marlowe was ever really piecing together clues or chasing down leads. It was as if he just questioned whoever he was with and lucked into some answers. In fact his entire case seemed to be constructed based on pure chance, except perhaps at the tail end.

One of the weird things with a lot of 70s movies seemed to be extremely strange behavior particularly when drugs are involved, so I wrote off the yoga-lesbian-pothead neighbors. But the scene where the gangster starts to have every man in the room strip I was absolutely befuddled. I literally stared at the screen asking aloud "what am I watching?" It wasn't funny enough to make me laugh particularly right after this same guy threatened to beat up his girlfriend again, so I wasn't sure how I was supposed to react.

Elliott Gould is solid as the lead in the film. I liked his aloof performance and how he made that turn at the end. They surrounded him with a bunch of quality actors that I couldn't name, but I definitely recognized. The opening scenes of the film were my favorite part because it set the stage so well. If only Marlowe never set foot in the Wade household... Anyways, there were definitely aspects of The Long Goodbye that I liked, but the complete film wasn't quite for me.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Loses to To Kill a Mockingbird
Wins against True Romance
Loses to The Return of the Pink Panther
Wins against Sweet Smell of Success
Wins against Selma
Wins against 21 Jump Street
Loses to After the Thin Man
Loses to Big Fish
Loses to Rush Hour 2
Loses to My Fair Lady
Ranked 688 out of 1075
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20. Board Game: Dance Party [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Dance Party
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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New to Me


Footloose is one of those films that I know I saw scenes of growing up, and I listened to the soundtrack regularly, but I don't recall ever watching it from start to finish. Now that I have, I must say this movie holds up spectacularly well. I always thought of it as a movie about a town that bans dancing. However, watching it now as an adult I can see that the real story is much deeper than that. Footloose is about a boy who feels stifled in a harshly judgmental town, a daughter who feels dominated by an overly-protective father, and a father who has allowed grief to steer his actions in a negative direction. There's so much emotion tied up in the events of this movie that I never would have understood as a kid, so I'm glad to watch it now. I kind of loved every aspect of this movie.

Kevin Bacon plays Ren brilliantly as the boy who looks bad, but acts honorably. His stress-relief dance scene was one of a kind and completely satisfying. Lori Singer is great as the repressed daughter. She seems conflicted about how to react to the way her family life has gone, and her relationships are clearly a symptom of that situation. I'll honestly say, though, out of all the performances John Lithgow might be the best. He plays Reverend Moore as someone who isn't really acting out of hate, someone who has a heart and a conscience (sometimes embodied for us by Dianne Wiest,) but also as someone who has allowed his fear and grief to take control of him. The scene where his daughter finally confronts him in church was emotionally devastating for me, because I could see what was underlying that entire discussion.

I think the one big missing link in the film was a blatant conversation where they discuss the death in the family. It just seemed like they came so close, but there wasn't a cathartic moment where you could see them deal with that and achieve full reconciliation between father and daughter. But even without that, I still had so much fun with Footloose. The songs are so catchy, and almost demand tapping your toes or just getting up and dancing along. The montage where Ren teaches Willard to dance is amazing, and watching the final sequence I couldn't help smiling from ear to ear. Footloose isn't perfect, but it's pretty close and gave me something to be happy about today.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Wins against The Social Network
Wins against Kind Hearts and Coronets
Loses to Odd Thomas
Wins against The Thin Man
Loses to Airplane II: The Sequel
Wins against My Cousin Vinny
Wins against Zootopia
Wins against Diamonds Are Forever
Wins against Source Code
Loses to Airplane II: The Sequel
Ranked 169 out of 1076
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21. Board Game: Spy or Die Trying [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:11964]
Board Game: Spy or Die Trying
Stephen Roney
United States
Ladera Ranch
California
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Central Intelligence


This is one of those movies that looks like it could go either way from the trailer. The word of mouth on it led me to believe that it was pretty good, so I put it high on the Netflix disc queue. It is an action buddy comedy with a reluctant buddy.

The movie opens with a high school assembly at the end of senior year, 1996. The black athletic superstar and student body president is given an award, and his speech is interrupted by some bullies throwing an overweight kid naked onto the gym floor. The speaker gives him his letterman's jacket to cover up and then we fast forward to 2016. The superstar becomes Kevin Hart, who is now an accountant. The bullied kid becomes Duane Johnson (after "twenty years of working out every day"). I was not prepared for Duane Johnson's personality in the movie, expecting the serious superspy from Get Smart or elsewhere, and it was a little annoying to me, though he kept pretty consistent with it.

Johnson is on the run from the CIA, having been framed with the murder of his partner, and the related theft of some top secret plans. On the eve of their 20th high school reunion, Johnson uses Hart's accountant skills to track the transaction from the online auction of the plans. The CIA learns of Hart's involvement and competes with Johnson for his loyalty.

Most of the movie is fairly run-of-the-mill spy action comedy, slightly above average.

With Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy in small roles as former classmates.

Flickchart
Beats Meet The Parents
Loses to Pretty Woman
Loses to Die Another Day
Loses to A Fish Called Wanda
Loses to Inside Man
Loses to Bridge on the River Kwai
Loses to The Lincoln Lawyer
Loses to The Next Karate Kid
Loses to They Drive By Night
Beats Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
702 out of 1406
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22. Board Game: Monopoly: Marseille [Average Rating:4.25 Unranked]
Board Game: Monopoly: Marseille
Stephen Roney
United States
Ladera Ranch
California
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Passage to Marseille


Humphrey Bogart is a gunner on a Free French bomber, under the command of Claude Rains. Rains is talking about being on a ship in the Atlantic, which recovered a small boat with five men on it, including Bogart and Peter Lorre. Also on the ship is a military contingent led by Sydney Greenstreet.

During the story of the ship, we get nested flashbacks for the people on the boat, discovering that they are escaped prisoners from French Guyana, who have escaped in hopes of fighting for France. They learn that France has signed an armistice with Germany and installed the Vichy government. Greenstreet goes along with this, and when he sees that Rains and the captain are not cooperating, Greenstreet takes over the ship, leading to a fight led by the prisoners. As the fight ends, a German fighter plane approaches and more fighting ensues.

The action is all pretty well done, though some of the fisticuffs are a little dated in their style. Again a WWII drama made during the war that is reasonably even-handed.

Flickchart
Beats Meet the Parents
Loses to Pretty Woman
Beats Fair Game(2010)
Beats Fever Pitch
Beats Frequency
Loses to Spiderwick Chronicles
Beats XXX
Beats The Apartment
Beats Houseboat
Beats Non-Stop
375 out of 1407
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23. Board Game: Charlie's Angels [Average Rating:4.07 Unranked]
Board Game: Charlie's Angels
Stephen Roney
United States
Ladera Ranch
California
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Charlie's Angels


I think I like this more than I should (though less than I remembered before rewatching). Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu and Cameron Diaz are the current crop of Angels for the Charles Townsend detective agency, run by an unseen Charlie and managed by Bosley, now played by Bill Murray.

Just like the original show, it doesn't take itself too seriously. It takes the old detective show and updates it to an action show, using wires for the martial arts scenes, with people flying around almost like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Flickchart
Beats Meet The Parents
Beats Miracle on 34th Street(1947)
Loses to Canterville Ghost
Loses to Olympus Has Fallen
Beats Stowaway
Beats Star Trek III: The Search For Spock
Beats How To Marry A Millionaire
Loses to The Pride of the Yankees
Loses to Jurassic World
273 out of 1407
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24. Board Game: Superman III [Average Rating:3.33 Unranked]
Board Game: Superman III
Stephen Roney
United States
Ladera Ranch
California
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Superman III


It was on my rewatch list so I could rank it on Flickchart, so when I heard Robert Vaughn had died, I moved it to the front.

As I remembered, it was much worse than the first two. I did not really remember how campy it was compared to them. I would say even more campy than the third and fourth Batman films that would come later (though perhaps not quite as campy as the Adam West movie from the 60s). And many the effects don't hold up well at all, either.

It opens with a series of comic mishaps. Clark Kent/Superman only has a passing role in this, saving a man who is drowning in his car because he ran over a fire hydrant (as Superman) and then catching a cream pie that is falling and spinning around and hitting someone with it (as Clark Kent).

He is off to Smallville for a reunion and strikes up something of a romance with former classmate Lana Lang. Meanwhile, Richard Pryor is having trouble finding a job until he takes a computer programming class and shows a real aptitude for it. He programs a computer to siphon off all the fractional cents and get a check for over eighty thousand dollars. This does not go unnoticed, however, and the company owner, played by Robert Vaughn, soon give Pryor more to do.

They try to create some synthetic kryptonite, and end up with kryptonite that acts like red kryptonite, and changes Superman into a semi-evil version of himself. Eventually the good part splits out as Clark Kent and they do battle in an auto wrecking yard.

The overall plot/story isn't THAT horrible, I suppose, but the tone is a little too campy, especially at the beginning. Superman Returns is a better continuation from the second movie.

Flickchart
Loses to Central Intelligence
Beats Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Beats Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles
Loses to I Am Legend
Loses to Night at the Museum
Loses to Bringing Down The House
Beats Kim
Beats The Honeymoon Machine
Loses to Dick Tracy
872 out of 1408
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25. Board Game: Double Agent [Average Rating:5.80 Overall Rank:10764]
Board Game: Double Agent
Stephen Roney
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The Spy With My Face


Continuing with the Robert Vaughn tribute, what better Man from UNCLE movie than the one where Thrush converts one of their agents into a double of Napoleon Solo, so Robert Vaughn plays TWO parts instead of one.

This is an expanded version of first season episode primarily for theatrical release in overseas markets. It was also released in the US and I am pretty sure I saw it in the theater. It was in color instead of the original black and white, and added scenes that were too hot for TV at the time, but probably would not be more than PG today.

Thrush captures Solo and replaces him with the double to get their hands on the contents of a case Solo will be carrying with several other agents. Kuryakin gradually suspects things and figures out deception, in part because the double does not have quite the way with women that Solo has....

I was/am a big fan of the series, so I have a soft spot for the UNCLE movies. This one is well done and has some of the feel of From Russia With Love. I think it may have ended up a little higher on my chart than it should have, but not sure what I would change.

Flickchart
Beats Austin Powers:International Murder Mystery
Beats Miracle on 34th Street(1947)
Loses to Psycho(1960)
Loses to Olympus Has Fallen
Loses to For Love of the Game
Loses to How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
Beats The World is Not Enough
Loses to Cutthroat Island
Loses to Without a Clue
Loses to Message In A Bottle
341 out of 1409
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