Month in Review: October ’17

To encourage a bit more variety in my blogging posts and to help distance this site from the one of old, I’m installing this monthly post where I summarize the previous month’s activity in a wraparound that will hopefully give people the chance to go back and find stuff they might have missed, as well as keep them apprised of any changes or news that happened that month.

Ah, nothing like putting out a Month in Review post a week late. And as you may have noticed, October was another insanely busy month of film reviewing on Thomas J. For those of you who have been able to keep up with this blistering pace, man. You all are the real MVP. And I thank you with one winky face.

😉

In this edition join me on the confession couch as I open up about major movie omissions and my inexplicably resurgent interest in watching more Independence Day. I also lament the disappearance of my all-time favorite movie candy and $6 Tuesdays.

Thor: Ragnarok — TONIGHT! See you there?


New Posts

New Releases: Stronger; The Foreigner

Blindspot Selection: Cujo (1983)


What’s Been Playing in the Background

October introduced me to Bladerunner. You read me right. I had never seen Ridley Scott’s classic science fiction epic until a few weeks ago. I instantly fell in love, but then, that was kind of my destiny. The Tears in Rain monologue in particular trapped me in a glass case of emotion. I don’t know how you really sort through your favorite movie moments of all time, but I do know that Roy Batty’s eventual acceptance of his own mortality is one of them. The plan was, of course, to see the original in advance of the premiere of Denis Villeneuve’s sequel. You haven’t missed anything there. As soon as I see 2049, you’ll know about it.

And speaking of falling in love: Stranger Things 2 will be my winter warmer for the next several weeks. This show is phenomenal and I have become so cozy in its world. I expect to find much solace in it while House of Cards, my first true Netflix love, is apparently collapsing.

But here’s where things get weird. While I’ve been procrastinating tending to my Blind Spot reviews and learning what those Nexus replicants are all about, I’ve had no such hesitation returning (again and again) to that terrible and awful and embarrassing sequel to Independence Day. (If you’re going to throw things at me after reading this, try to at least throw things that are soft. You know, pies and things of that nature. No beer bottles, please.) Anyway, yeah. It didn’t take many not-very-sober viewings to confirm that indeed Resurgence is, as the French would say, merde. But then I started to think about how dumb it was that Jeff Goldblum saved us from those little green bastards by infecting the mother ship with a computer virus . . . in an age where we were running Windows ’95.

Big Tom has realized that some things in this world just aren’t as holy as they were to Little Tom. The sequel may be in direct competition with Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice in terms of being 2016’s most hated movie. Audiences everywhere took this long-delayed/ill-advised sequel as a personal sleight. The writers had 20 years to prepare, apparently — so why didn’t they prepare better lines? “This is definitely bigger than the last one” is a pretty poor attempt to deflect from the fact that there’s really no justifying the aliens coming back. But, whatever. This movie has grown on me, like a benign tumor. Dr. Brakish Okun’s reappearance is the most unlikely thing ever, but I’m glad it was able to be contrived. Brent Spiner is a lot of fun in these movies. And though Liam Hemsworth is no Will Smith, I’ve also warmed to him. So here is where I stand  (and talk about damning with faint praise): Resurgence has improved from being “terrible and awful and embarrassing” to being just “terrible.”

Meanwhile, and on a less serious note (what am I talking about, this is way more serious!), my regular enjoyment of movie theater snacks has been somewhat interrupted because of Maltesers. Specifically, the disappearance thereof. My local AMC theater used to carry them. It was pretty random, though. You get shelves overflowing with American confections and then you get this one British outcast. As someone who regularly shuns concessions at the theater because things like the Dollar Tree exist and you can buy candy there for less than the mark-up price at the theater, I made the exception for these tasty little pooh-colored morsels.* What do they expect me to do now, go back to Skittles? Ugh.

This isn’t as annoying as my even-more-local Cinépolis seemingly doing away with $6 ticket Tuesdays. Down the road from me is a crummy little complex at the end of a crummy little strip mall where crummy projectors often play good movies, but those discount rates have made visits there more attractive. That theater has changed ownership more times than I can count, yet $6 night has been the one constant. (Well that and the fact that you really don’t want to touch anything once inside the theater.) The price may have only gone up a dollar, but what’s to stop it going up again? And if it does, I may have to start prioritizing my theater trips. It may well be time I start ravaging Netflix for more alternatives. Maybe I’ll become a more regular patron of AMC if it does one of two things: 1) diversifies its weekly showings or, better yet 2) BRINGS BACK MY DAMNED MALTESERS!


Double Feature

Baby Driver · June 28, 2017 · Directed by Edgar Wright · If all you need is one killer track, I choose Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver. This high-energy heist film leaks charisma all over the road as it follows a youthful and talented getaway driver named Baby (Ansel Elgort) who burns rubber day and night for Doc, a shady mob boss played by Kevin Spacey. When a meet-cute with a diner waitress (Lily James) pumps the brakes on Baby’s aimless drifting, Doc’s Good Luck Charm must make a choice between a life of crime and an uncertain future with Debora. The story’s assembled out of parts from countless other films of course, but it’s the synergy between the production’s aural and visual elements that not only make Baby Driver instantly engaging, but consistently and almost unreasonably entertaining. The choreography on display is such that Wright’s new movie becomes more a musical sans the random dance interludes, one where the song selection may be important but the placement of those songs is where the true artistry lies. Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss’ editing entrances with rhythmic precision and the director’s familiar energy and passion ensure the project steers as far away as possible from self-conscious affectedness, while barreling down the road with purpose and a great sense of humor toward something more pure and honest. One of the summer’s most feel-good and bittersweetly fleeting escapades. (4/5)

Only the Brave · October 20, 2017 · Directed by Joseph Kosinski · Only the Brave presents Mother Nature as an ultimate and merciless foe as a group of dedicated firefighters seek to prove themselves among America’s most elite responders. From the director of such vacuous (if gorgeous) sci fi fare as Tron: Legacy and Oblivion comes an altogether more impressive work, one that deftly balances visual spectacle with touching human drama. Joseph Kosinski’s steadily absorbing tribute pulls inspiration from the GQ article by Sean Flynn, dedicating the bulk of its two-hour running time to fleshing out a handful of the 20-member Granite Mountain Hotshots, a Prescott, Arizona-based squad who faced the ultimate test when they came up against the infamously deadly Yarnell Hill fire in the summer of 2013. The cinematic treatment benefits from an all-star cast who provide great depth to broadly drawn characters, with Josh Brolin leading the charge as the gruff but likable crew supervisor Eric Marsh, torn between his professional and personal commitments. He’s got a lot of support from the likes of James Badge Dale and Taylor Kitsch who contribute to the Band of Brothers-esque camaraderie but arguably overshadowing them all is Miles Teller as Brendan ‘Donut’ McDonough, a former heroin addict who vows to turn his life around by seeking employment with the volunteer fire department. Only the Brave may be the beneficiary of the gut-wrenching facts upon which it is based (the likes of which you are strongly encouraged to ignore until after you’ve experienced the film), and yet the contributions of Academy Award winners Jeff Bridges and Jennifer Connelly are as indelible as they’ve ever been. (4/5)

 

* If you’ve never had Maltesers, don’t let anyone try to convince you they’re the English equivalent of Whoppers. That’s a HEINOUS lie.

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com

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10 thoughts on “Month in Review: October ’17

  1. LOL this was a really entertaining read, thanks Tom 🙂

    Hmmmm, Maltesers are nice (I really love the hot chocolate) but pale in comparison to the South African offerings of the sort. I miss those so much 😦
    FML but cinema candy is horrifically expensive. And I hope your dodgy but consistent (in the past) cinema doesn’t hike those prices up unbearably!! Wish I had a cheap cinema to watch stuff at here.

    I have so much catching up to do with House of Cards. I will give it a shot sometime. Currently hooked on The Good Wife (at the end of this season I will be going into unknown, unwatched territory) and finishing up Spartacus with my husband.

    Looking forward to watching Baby Driver some century and Only The Brave looks well worth a watch.

    • Both the films I talked about in this post are so worth checking out! Baby Driver for the style, Only the Brave for the incredible true story it tells. I look forward to your thoughts on them if you get around to them!

      Me and you are going to have to get into a debate about this Maltesers thing. I insist they are the best things ever, but I of course have never had any South African confections. Have you had Swiss chocolate? If so how does it compare to that? That’s top grade shit! 😉

      I am so disappointed my favorite candy is gone from the theater but at the same time it doesn’t surprise me. they were random for a place like that to have so I was glad they even had them at all! That’s the only thing I can justify spending $5 on a box of candy for! Ugh

      • Soon, I hope, soon.

        Yeah Maltesers are nice, but Chuckles, Whispers, AND Tumbles are infinitely more superior on every level against them hahahaha. Oh, I do indeed love Swiss chocolate, take it whenever I can get it.

        :/ I shall mourn with you. I miss so much candy from home, and before I left they had discontinued Tempo chocolate bars. I was crushed, so I know the feels and can commiserate.

  2. I love a monthly roundup. I need to do these again because I never get around to reviewing much of what I watch anymore. Glad you finally experienced Blade Runner! Love the original & was pretty blown away by how great 2049 was. Oh, the Tears in Rain scene is a favorite cinematic scene of mine as well. 🙂 Ha! I tried to watch the Independence Day sequel at home. Think I managed 30 minutes before falling asleep then never went back to it. Hmm. Maybe I… Should? Or not. Lol. Loved Baby Driver, though! Damn – I actually did think Whoppers were the equivalent of Maltesers. Are they not? They seemed the same to me! I feel your pain, though – I miss lot of American snacks. And we drive way out of our way to go to a mega cheap cinema because the prices are more than double at our closest one. Screw that!

    • I love doing these too. They’re keeping me on track (a bit). Plus it’s fun to open up the blog and talk about other stuff. I’ve grown a bit more uneasy with this being a straight review-after-review pattern after all this time. GOTTA SPICE IT UP!

      I’m really really pumped for 2049. I’m hoping to catch it this Friday, otherwise soon it’ll probably be out of theaters. I’ve waited too long already, it won’t be on the biggest of screens but I’ve heard almost universally amazing things about it and how Ryan Gosling fits into all of it. Can’t wait!

      Maltesers and Whoppers ARE NOT EQUAL! They shall never be. (Some fun facts: American Whoppers use more of a fake malt-y flavor in their little shits, while Maltesers, still fake-ish, use more of a natural cocoa malt. You eat one and then the other and there’s an obvious difference. 😉 😀 )

  3. I just watched Baby Driver the other night and was charmed most of the way through. I would have given it a 4/5, too. When you see BR 2049, please pop round and check out the Lucky 13 Film Club entry last month was that film–I’d be pleased to hear if we felt the same way about it….

    • Glad to hear you enjoyed Baby Driver. That’s a really fun film. Won’t be “remembered” much for anything other than its soundtrack, but I dug it.

      That sounds fun, I’ll definitely swing round. I’m really looking forward to getting a look at that and see where they’ve taken the story. Denis Villeneuve is super reliable and the reviews have been outstanding, so I’m thinking there’ll be some kind of gushing coming from me soon 😉

  4. You saw some great ones Tom. I thought of setting myself on a path to watch Bladerunner and its new sequel, but then I didn’t haha (no excuses other than this month was mad). I’d love to see Baby Driver soon.

    What’s your opinion of Stranger Things Season 2?

    Last thing, what are Maltesers?

    • Gasp! Not heard of/had Maltesers? Oh no! We need to remedy this!

      They’re malt-covered little puffballs. That reads weird, but they’re really really good. They used to be available here in theaters until recently and I’m bummed they’re gone.

      Stranger Things 2 might be even better than the first, I couldn’t believe how much things ramped up in intensity after The Lost Sister chapter. A chapter, I have to say, I gained a whole lot more respect for when everything finally came together. I don’t think the emotional response to the reuniting moment would have been the same if they didn’t show us all the stuff with Eleven. Though I do also hear what others are saying about it being tonally off and kinda funky. But I would disagree it’s an unnecessary episode.

      • Malt and Puffballs sounds pretty good to me!

        I loathed that episode 😦 The final two episodes really fixed the season for me. I think I carried too many expectations to the second season, and a large part of my love for season one was because everything was so unexpected. So great.

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