Month in Review: July ’18

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.

Don’t look now, but this past July I produced a whopping four new film reviews. That’s like, one or two more than what I put out the last several months, but it’s also not that much. Specifically, it is 14 less 10, the result of 100 divided by 25 and the square root of 16. I produced the square root of 16 number of reviews this month. That sounds somehow . . . better. In a perfect world (or, back in 2013/’14/’15) I would make sure those numbers were bare minimums for the month, but I can no longer make those assurances because, well . . .

I’m not very good at keeping schedules and I’m just as bad with commitment. Well, maybe not as bad. This past July, my blog of old (Digital Shortbread — a name I couldn’t quite abandon so I kept it as my URL! My Earl!) turned 7 years old. Forgive me for getting a little nostalgic here but I’m proud of that, because the journey has not always been easy. In fact the longer you do this I feel the greater the challenge becomes to find new inspiration. Like, this isn’t a personal problem of mine. Getting burned out is a really common occurrence. This actually brings me to an interesting question about the blogging process.

Before we get into that though, here is a quick glimpse at what has been going on on Thomas J during the last month.


New Posts

New Releases: Sicario 2: Day of the SoldadoAnt-man and the WaspSorry to Bother YouSkyscraper

Five Most Anticipated Fall 2018 Releases

As we shift into the awards season (I know!), naturally there are going to be some priorities and as of right now, they look a little something like this (in no particular order):

  1. White Boy Rick (September 14) — the true story of the rise of America’s youngest drug kingpin-turned FBI informant. Stars Matthew McConaugh-hey as the father and Richie Merritt as Richard Wersche, Jr. From the director who brought you ’71.
  2. Venom (October 5) — with a face like Venom, who now can honestly say they don’t want to kiss Tom Hardy? The dude is stacking up an impressive list of villainous roles and in this anti-heroic origins story about one of Spider-man’s nemeses, he looks to leave a disturbing impression. Fingers and tongues crossed.
  3. First Man (October 12) — all you needed to say was Damien Chazelle and I’m there. But then you add to that the fact Ryan Gosling is re-teaming with his La La Land director on a project about astronaut Neil Armstrong (famous for something) and, well, I have no words other than . . . TAKE. MY. MONEY! This could be a classic.
  4. Beautiful Boy (October 12) — I’ll be honest here, the only thing I am using to build my expectations is the trailer for Beautiful Boy. It mesmerized me, offering up yet another dramatic role for Steve Carell in a drama about drug addiction, relapse and recovery — based on the memoirs from father and son David and Nic Sheff. Oscar nominee Timothée Chalamet will play Nic.
  5. Widows (November 16) — from the master of the gut-wrenching drama Steve McQueen, Widows tells the story of four women who join forces for a heist after their conmen husbands are killed during a botched robbery. Though the genre doesn’t necessarily scream “tough to watch,” I am anticipating another heavy-hitter. This is the director of 12 Years a Slave, Hunger and Shame, after all. This one is (probably) gonna get rough. Unless it doesn’t, and becomes something unlike anything he’s done before. Worth noting, too, is the absence of McQueen regular Michael Fassbender.

So with another month of frustration over and done with, I have to know —

What’s your writing process like? How do you set about filling up a blank page? How quick are you to the writing board after seeing a movie? Are you a throw-down-the-hammer type of producer — the kind to start and finish in an hour or do you labor over it over the course of several sessions? When do you feel most productive and accomplished?

Me? I suffer. I’m absolutely the latter. I drag myself through the trenches of coming up with a first draft, then polishing it into a second. Then, I get fucked by editing. That part is war. An attrition of deletion and rephrasing that only a great university instructor in Bonnie Hufford could have prepared me for. One of the principal tenets of this blog has always been coming as close as possible to achieving grammatical perfection. I have taken pride in my work in that way and hopefully have made my former journo profs proud here, but who knows — commas, semicolons and hyphens are tricky little fuckers and I’m sure I misuse them all the time.


Well that got boring at the end there. Jesus.

Just a Quick Thought: Netflix purges 30-for-30?

30-for-30-logoTwo nights ago I was browsing through my Netflix looking for a potential stand-out for my monthly sports documentary review. As regular readers are aware, at the end of each month I like to discuss a 30-for-30 film, products of ESPN’s wonderful documentary series. Well this week I had the rude awakening that Netflix may or may not have purged the entire documentary series, as I can no longer find a single title on there. I tried every key word I could think of that might pull up the titles, but to no avail.

The Netflix addicted are well aware that the service regularly gets rid of stuff to make room for incoming new material on a monthly rolling basis. According to the internet, January saw the disappearance of merely a few ESPN film titles, but what I have found so far has proven that that’s not entirely true. There are, as of right now, no more 30-for-30 films available through this platform. Weirder still, I cannot find any article online that corroborates what I’m experiencing.

So for those of you who have Netflix, could you do me a huge favor? Would you mind checking on your own account to see if you can find anything related to the series? Anything with the umbrella title 30-for-30? And would you mind letting me know in the comments what you were able to find, positive or negative? Pretty please with a cherry on top? While I feel like this is going to be a fruitless attempt to confirm what I already fear has happened, I am still willing to believe that maybe this is just an issue on my end. Anyway — thanks for your help and as always, happy watching! (And here’s to hoping my documentary reviews can continue!)


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

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

A Timely Blogathon – Hell and Back (2015) – Digital Shortbread

 

Hey everyone, I thought I would re-blog my entry into A Timely Blogathon, an event that has been co-hosted by Rob of MovieRob and Anna of Film Grimoire. I apologize for the belated posting as the review actually went up a few days ago, but better late than never. Please be sure to visit their sites as they wrap up the blogathon with other great reviews from bloggers from around the globe. Thanks guys!

MovieRob

This post is the next entry in this month’s A Timely Blogathon being run by Anna of Film Grimoire and myself.  This review of Hell and Back (2015) by Tom of  Digital Shortbread

Check out his site which is filled with movie reviews, (long and short ones), actor profiles, 30 on 30 reviews and lots of other fun stuff!

Tnx for taking part Tom!

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Hell and Back (2015)

Hell and Back is the result of a very goofy experiment. It manifests as Tom Gianas and Ross Shuman’s crude mash-up of Beavis and Butthead‘s juvenile sense of humor with Team America‘s suggestive (offensive?) usage of stop-motion animation.

The long and short of it? If you’re a fan of things like South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut or even just the episodes of the show where Satan plays a prominent role in the narrative, this gleefully profane trip to…

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Celebrating Five Years of DSB

DSB 5.0

As I tend to do every year, this July 4 I’d like to reflect back on yet another amazing year of blogging about the movies here on Digital Shortbread™. I’m feeling more confident than ever going forward with this project of mine. Thus I don’t foresee too many changes in the way things are run around here, at least for the time being. Until I inevitably start getting ancy again. 😉

No, indeed here in year numero cinco, I’d like to just see if I can keep the status quo. I want to continue to reinvent what I do here while remaining a reliable source of diverse movie reviews and commentary. And I want to continue to learn from your experiences as much as I do from my own. It’s so reinvigorating knowing that in the five years since I’ve been here I keep bumping into more and more people with similar mindsets, interests, tastes and obsessions. I’m constantly torn in different directions to pay attention to something new and it’s both exhausting and exhilarating all at once.

The blogging landscape sure has changed since I first arrived. But the support I have felt behind each and every new post I make, each edition of the DigiBread Awards that I host, has not. So, for the fifth time in a row, I must thank you all for choosing to read what I have to write. Thank you so much for keeping me motivated.

DSB 5.0 movies of the year so far collage


So here are five things we’re going to do to mark this occasion:

  1. Every single one of you who has ever commented on and/or Liked one of my posts will automatically get $5. There you go! Did you feel that change in your bank account? You should, because really, it’s the thought that counts;
  2. More practically, everyone who leaves a comment on this particular post will get some combination of five emojis (don’t worry, they’ll be positive as long as your comments are positive);
  3. We’re going to start a count-down to the five films I will be most looking forward to the rest of this calendar year (in essence a truncated version of a top-that list but I will link these reviews back here instead) — and I’d like to know if I should be so excited about these films or not from you guys;
  4. Tell me: which five movies do you wish were opening up next weekend? These can be any movies you’re excited about. Anything at all. (However, if you bring up that Nine Lives movie starring Kevin Spacey as a cat our friendship will cease to exist.)
  5. Poll time! The more votes on this the better peeps so don’t be shy of suggesting one of the five films I listed below for me to go back and re-watch and give a one or two paragraph write-up on my thoughts on the second viewing. These are all films I have initially given a max of 4/8 slices to, so the goal is to see if any of these movies (whichever gets the most votes) deserved a more positive review.


FIVE UPCOMING ’16 RELEASES I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE

  1. Suicide Squad (August 5) — looks crazy, is directed by David Ayers, and . . . I mean, just look at that cast Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. I sound like a total bandwagoning fan right now but man does this movie look like fun!
  2. Sully (September 9) — story of Chesley Sullenberger, who became a hero after safely landing his plane in the Hudson River after birds flew into the engine. Predictable and overly dramatic it may well become, but this likable cast and this great director (Eastwood) make this a must-see for me this September
  3. The Birth of a Nation (October 7) — much-talked about Sundance sensation has already been putting off strong vibes à la Steve McQueen’s brutal 12 Years a Slave.  A movie that I just have to see no matter how difficult it may be to endure.
  4. Doctor Strange (November 4) — another good example of me going into a movie having little, if any, background knowledge of the story. But the film gains a lot more interest on the grounds of it starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular, arrogant doctor Stephen Strange. Plus, you know, the whole thing just looks . . . whacky. Can’t wait!
  5. Loving (November 4) — the next film from Jeff Nichols, a director that has yet to let me down. I am still in need of checking out Take Shelter, but I am more looking forward to seeing what this decidedly more Joel Edgerton-centered film has to offer. Michael Shannon is in it too, but looks to take a backseat.

Well, that about does it folks. Onward we go! I’d like to once again spread the thank-you’s as far and wide as they can go. Thank you for helping DSB stick around just a little longer and for helping me celebrate a fifth year here. Don’t forget to leave your responses below (or else relinquish the opportunity to interact with me purely through emoticons). 

Genre Grandeur – The BFG (1989) – Digital Shortbread

 

Hey everyone, I participated once again in MovieRob’s monthly Genre Grandeur. This month’s selection was a pretty easy one for me as some of my favorite films are Adventure films, and I went with something a *little* more off the beaten path with the animated original version of The B.F.G. Check it out!

MovieRob

adventure

For this month’s next review for Genre Grandeur – Adventure Films, here’s a review of The BFG (1989) by Tom of Digital Shortbread

Thanks again to Damien of Riley on Film for choosing this month’s genre.

Next month’s Genre has been chosen by Summer of Serendipitous Anachronisms. She has chosen quite a unique genre and we will be reviewing our favorite Derivative Work Movies.

Here’s Summer to explain her choice:

Basically it is anything based or inspired by pre-existing source

for example:

Amelie takes its relationships from the Luncheon of the Boating Party

The Magnificent Seven is borrowed from the Seven Samurai

Sunday in the Park with George is based on painting by George Seurat

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is loosely based on Hamlet

My Own Private Idaho borrows from Henry the IV

Cosi is about a director directing the musical Cosi Fan Tutti

Pride Prejudice and Zombies borrows…

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Decades Blogathon – Inside Man (2006)

2006

 

As we wind down another great blogathon, I’d like to thank each and every one of you for your great posts. I’d also like to tip my hat to my co-host for firstly coming up with the concept last year and for helping manage it again this time around. As always, it’s a real treat. With any luck we will return again next year. I will be adding each of these pieces to my Decades sub-menu up at the top so if you ever want to go back and catch up on something you missed, feel free to visit that drop-down menu up top. 

For my entry I’ve decided to go with another contemporary release, realizing this would be a great opportunity to give Spike Lee another try. So here’s my take on a film he released now ten years ago: 


'Inside Man' movie poster

Release: Friday, March 24, 2006

[Netflix]

Written by: Russell Gewirtz

Directed by: Spike Lee

Prolific filmmaker, documentarian and notable New York Knicks’ sixth man Spike Lee, taking a few pages from F. Gary Gray’s guide to properly dramatizing delicate hostage situations, directs this thrilling and surprisingly intelligent heist film involving a cunning thief, an experienced detective, a wealthy bank owner and a not-so-proverbial bank-load of hostages.

Inside Man has Clive Owen to thank for delivering big in a decidedly (and brilliantly) complex role that sees him holding up a Manhattan Trust and many of its employees and patrons, confident he has planned for every possible outcome and disaster. No offense to Denzel the detective, who exudes charisma and charm throughout situations no other person could, or really should — but this is Owen’s film. Owen plays Dalton Russell, a name he’s only going to say once so you better pay attention because he never, ever repeats himself.

The hold-up begins like any other: Dalton and his cronies sneak in as painters and promptly reveal themselves on the inside as anything but. They’re armed and they’re not messing around. Stress levels sky-rocket within seconds. Dalton’s got plans for the vault but before we learn what those are Spike cuts away and begins constructing the world that awaits anxiously outside the building. The closest in proximity are the swaths of police and detectives, including Keith Frazier (Denzel Washington) and Bill Mitchell (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and Willem Dafoe’s Captain John Darius.

Elsewhere, Arthur Case (Christopher Plummer), founder and chair of the board of directors of this particular branch, is informed of the developing situation. Even though he luxuriates in a cavernous living room, the rich mahogany of its ornate interior boasting a life brimming with accomplishment and prestige, his concern lies with a single safety deposit box in the bank’s vault. He calls in a favor from fixer Madeleine White (Jodie Foster) to help him recover it, for whatever it contains could be embarrassing if it ever fell into the wrong hands.

Yeah, embarrassing. Let’s go with that.

If Owen is the standard to which all other performances must rise Foster proves to be the bare minimum you can get away with, playing a character so deeply rooted in some ethical and moral grey area you’re not sure if she’s being intentionally vague or if the actor ever believed in the part. Despite another wooden performance, she does manage to generate an aura of mystery as she slinks in and out of the shadows, her allegiance to any one group perpetually impossible to verify. (But are the mind games of her own creation, or is that Spike directing one of the most overrated actors working today?)

Spike’s direction assumes the role of surveillance cameras stationed at all corners of a building. The omniscience is really rewarding, as we see the extent to which this event has been planned and organized. In contrast, we come to realize the relative helplessness of a pair of detectives who want to end all of this as peacefully as possible, but who are coming up short on options — not merely because they’re bound by protocol and bureaucracy, either. In this world, the balance of power is almost entirely in the favor of the robbers. The shifting power dynamics make Inside Man a cut above your standard crime/heist thriller and one of Spike Lee’s better offerings.

Clive Owen in 'Inside Man'

Recommendation: Inside Man proves to be an involving and thoroughly surprising crime thriller featuring stellar performances from a diverse cast. Despite my qualms with Lee as a human being, his directorial talents can’t be denied. This might be my favorite of his thus far. If you can’t get enough of the bank heist thriller, I definitely would recommend this one. 

Rated: R

Running Time: 129 mins.

Quoted: “Peter, think very carefully about how you answer the next question, because if you get it wrong, your headstone will read, ‘Here lies Peter Hammond, hero, who valiantly attempted to prevent a brilliant bank robbery by trying to hide his cellular phone, but wound up,’ [presses gun muzzle into Peter’s cheek] ‘getting shot in the f***ing head.’ Now, Peter Hammond, where’s your cell phone?”

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; http://www.yify-torrent.org 

Decades Blogathon – The Craft (1996)

 

We have another first-time contributor to Decades ’16, and it’s Maddison from The Final Scene. Head on over to Three Rows Back for her review of The Craft! Thanks!

three rows back

Featured Image -- 60491996 2It’s the penultimate day of the Decades Blogathon – 6 edition – hosted by myself and Tom from Digital Shortbread! I’ll say it again, make sure to check out Tom’s blog; it’s the best you’ll find around these parts. The blogathon focuses on movies that were released in the sixth year of the decade. Tom and I are running a different entry each day (we’ll also reblog the other’s post) and it’s time to welcome Maddison from The Final Scene. Maddison casts her spell on the 1996 teen horror The Craft.

I can’t express how badly I wanted to be a witch in my early teen years. I surrounded myself with purple crystals, burning candles and glittery spell books from the marked down book bins.

The 1990s seemed to be the idyllic age of witchcraft in pop culture, welcoming such films and shows like Hocus Pocus, Practical…

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Decades Blogathon – About Last Night (1986)

 

And of course, I extend the courtesy once more to my co-host Three Rows Back by re-blogging the article you can find over there today. Again, apologies for such a late turn-around here. Please don’t be mad at me. Pretty please?

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Featured Image -- 60321986We’re in the final(ish) straight of the Decades Blogathon – 6 edition – hosted by myself and the legend that is Tom from Digital Shortbread. The blogathon focuses on movies that were released in the sixth year of the decade. Tom and I are running a different entry each day (we’ll also reblog the other’s post) and today I’m pleased to welcome Gill from the colourfully titled Realweegiemidget, who rewinds back to the ’80s for About Last Night (1986).

In a bid to narrow it down to a specific movie and after much deliberation, I decided on reviewing a film I could gitter for 700+ words. Options included the much reviewed The Breakfast Club (1985) starring Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy and Judd Nelson – hell yeah, punches fist in air – or as my friend in blogging suggested a lesser known one – Oxford Blues (1984) with Rob…

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Decades Blogathon – The Battle Of Algiers (1966)

 

Hey all, head on over to Three Rows Back for a review of The Battle of Algiers, brought to you by Marta, who runs the show over at Ramblings of a Cinephile. Thanks a lot!

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1966

Welcome to another day of the event of the year: the Decades Blogathon – 6 edition – hosted by myself and Tom from Digital Shortbread! The blogathon focuses on movies that were released in the sixth year of the decade. Tom and I are running a different entry each day (we’ll also reblog the other’s post) and for Super Tuesday it’s the turn of Marta from Ramblings of a Cinephile, who turns her sights on the masterpiece that is The Battle Of Algiers (1966).

The gritty and rather bloody story of the uprising that led to the independence of Algeria in 1962 is shot by Gillo Pontecorvo in a compelling style.

Commissioned by the Algerian government less than a decade after the facts, it shows both sides in an unforgiving way – from the terrorist attacks of the Algerian militants to the tortures of the French army. Pontecorvo…

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Decades Blogathon – Casino Royale (2006)

 

Ruth from Flixchatter stopped by to give us her thoughts on 2006’s Casino Royale, the epitome of James Bond. Head on over to Three Rows Back and have a read!

three rows back

Decades Blogathon Banner 20162006It’s week two of the Decades Blogathon – 6 edition – hosted by myself and the awesome Tom from Digital Shortbread! The blogathon focuses on movies that were released in the sixth year of the decade. Tom and I are running a different entry each day (we’ll also reblog the other’s post) and I’m thrilled to welcome the one and only Ruth from FlixChatter. I’m sure many of you will know of Ruth’s brilliant site and for our little event she is reviewing Daniel Craig’s first foray into the world of Bond with 2006’s Casino Royale.

I can’t believe it’s been a decade since Casino Royale came out. I just rewatched it this weekend to refresh my memory, though I had probably rewatched it a few times in the last 10 years. It’s still as good as the first time I saw it, and I still would…

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