It’s been just over a month since my last post on this blog of mine. Though my attempt was to continue to keep it flowing with new reviews and monthly round-ups, there was this mammoth-size event looming on the horizon: the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
As an avid soccer/football/futbol/futebol fan since I was a little boy, it was simply impossible to devote my free time to anything else for the past month. To make matters worse, ESPN had an unprecedented coverage of the event, probably the most comprehensive in the history of soccer broadcasting in the US, basically giving fans like me the opportunity to watch every single game in one of their stations, or through the internet. Out of the 64 games I probably watched 40 of them, if not more. I consumed soccer like there was no tomorrow and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it.
I am tempted to offer you my thoughts on the tournament but, it would get very long and tedious for those who have visited me in the past, and it would probably alienate those who happen to wonder in the direction of this blog seeking for film and other art-related reviews.
Instead of the typical sleuth of mini-reviews that I have offered in the past, I will simplify things a little bit this one time and share only the ratings and a couple of words about each. As I said before, I watched a hell of a lot of soccer in the past month, so the quota of films watched is obviously much smaller than it would have been otherwise.
Without further ado, I give you a list of movies, tv shows, books and videogames I’ve enjoyed since March (some repeats from previous posts are included):
BLUE JASMINE (2013) [3/5] ~ great performances in a cynical film
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (2013) [3.5/5] ~ chaos and excess in 180 minutes of film
OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN (2013) [2/5] ~ ludicrous and far-fetched. A few decent scenes
SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED (2012) [3/5] ~ charming little piece. Nothing remarkable.
HER (2013) [4/5] ~ immensely interesting and captivating.
PASSION (2012) [2/5] ~ a messy film by the once-great film maker: Brian De Palma
NO (2013) [3/5] ~ very political film with little replaying value
DON JON (2013) [3/5] ~ decent debut as a director for J.G. Levitt
BLACKFISH (2013) [3.5/5] ~ eye-opening, yet artistically unremarkable.
HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET (2012) [2/5] ~ bad horror flick riddled by cliché.
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY (2012) [3.5/5] ~ a step-down from the LOTR trilogy, but not nearly as disappointing as some made it out to be
THE LAST STAND (2013) [2.5/5] ~ some of the vintage Arnold still survives.
JACK REACHER (2012) [ 3.5/5] ~ surprisingly good film by the ever prolific Tom Cruise
PRISONERS (2013) [4/5] ~ very suspenseful with very strong performances.
AMERICAN HUSTLE (2013) [4/5] ~ the wildest and funniest David O. Russell film yet.
YOU’RE NEXT (2011) [1/5] ~ gore fest in very poor taste. Stay away from this!
MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA (2005) [3/5] ~ a huge let down when compared to the novel. A great set and costume design saved it.
DESPICABLE ME 2 (2013) [3/5] ~ not as charming as the first. Minions stole the show.
KICK-ASS 2 (2013) [2.5/5] ~ largely forgettable. A strong script was lacking.
CARRIE (2013) [2.5/5] ~ uneven remake. Chloe Grace Moretz not in the same league as Sissy Spacek
CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (2013) [4/5] ~ best performance from Tom Hanks in years. Gripping suspense from beginning to end.
THELMA & LOUISE (1991) [3/5] ~ a disappointing classic. Expected much more.
UNFAITHFUL (2002) [2.5/5] ~ melodramatic and unsurprising.
ABOUT TIME (2013) [3.5/5] ~ sweet and clever, yet overlong and trapped by its own conventions.
DALLAS BUYERS CLUB (2013) [4/5] ~ gripping and transformative. Important film.
BAD WORDS (2014) [3/5] ~ funny at times, unimaginative throughout. Expected more.
ADORE (2013) [2.5/5] ~ provocative…not. Boring….yes
BERNIE (2011) [3.5/5] ~ a surprisingly good faux-doc with a good performance by Jack Black
CRYSTAL FAIRY AND THE MAGICAL CACTUS (2013) [2/5] ~ forgettable and uninspired.
G.B.F. (2013) [3.5/5] ~ a silly yet funny gay-themed comedy. Better than expected.
UNDER THE SKIN (2014) [4/5] ~ Hypnotic piece of film making. Full review upcoming.
♦ Candidate to the Blog of Big Ideas’ Top 250 Films Ever ♦
COME UNDONE (2000) [2.5/5] ~ gay-themed film full of cliché and poor acting.
PARANORMAN (2012) [3/5] ~ less than I was expecting. Nothing remarkable.
BROKEN FLOWERS (2005) [3/5] ~ almost moving. Needed a bit more resolution and intrigue
NEIGHBORS (2014) [4/5] ~ very funny, though it might not be suited to watch more than once.
THAT AWKWARD MOMENT (2014) [1.5/5] ~ truly bad. Horrible script without focus.
THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY (2014) [3/5] ~ charming but a bit too silly
12 YEARS A SLAVE (2013) [4.5/5] ~ heart-wrenching. Deserving of so many accolades
CONTRACTED (2013) [1.5/5] ~ interesting at first, until it became ridiculously bad
BEHIND THE CANDELABRA (2013) [3.5/5] ~ great acting but the script was light on heart and a bit predictable
UNITED 93 (2006) [4/5] ~ very well-made. Surprising in many ways.
SERPICO (1973) [4/5] ~ great cop drama. Vintage Al Pacino performance
GODZILLA (2014) [3.5/5] ~ well-made but overlong. Some standout scenes
GIRL MOST LIKELY (2012) [2.5/5] ~ funny in patches
HAPPY PEOPLE: A YEAR IN THE TAIGA (2010) [4/5] ~ Herzog. Need I say more? Review upcoming
THE LEGEND OF HERCULES (2014) [1.5/5] ~ terrible flick. bad acting and direction
NON-STOP (2014) [2.5/5] ~ suspense fizzles out pretty quick
ENEMY (2013) [3/5] ~ very disappointing. Odd for the sake of being odd. I didn’t quite get what all the fuzz was about. Incendies and Prisoners by Villeneuve are far superior films.
TAMMY (2014) [2.5/5] ~ unimaginative and not very funny
IMDB TOP 250: OLDBOY (2003) [4.5/5] ~ review upcoming. Fantastic film. The best of the year so far.
♦ Candidate to the Blog of Big Ideas’ Top 250 Films Ever ♦
ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK SEASON 2 [4/5]
Didn’t quite hit the high notes of the first season, but still did very well at making these group of women extremely likeable and approachable. It felt, at times, as if the creators were not planning for a second season, and some of the writing seems a bit less inspired than in the first.
THE KILLING SEASON 1 & 2 [3.5/5]
I appreciate a lot of what this series tried to do. For one, it is a crime-solving show that truly focuses on the details of a case, and how it affects the families and friends of victims, as well as the investigators that put their time and soul into solving the case. Very decent acting throughout, but it lacked pace, not to mention good chunks of the storyline felt as if they were there to fill long seasons. Also tended to be a bit melodramatic at times. The biggest let down was the final reveal, which proved to be a little too contrived and casual to satisfy.
HOUSE OF CARDS SEASON 2 [4/5]
Once again, not as good as the first season but still quite good. Kevin Spacey continues to dazzle as the charming devil of a politician that somehow manages, almost single-handedly, to make its way towards the Presidency while destroying all of his political and personal enemies. Very well written and very clever. One of the best shows around.
BREAKING BAD, THE FINAL SEASON [5/5]
I don’t think I’ll ever watch a series as consistent and well-written as Breaking Bad. This is a show that got better as it progressed, getting more clever with each episode, and developing these characters until you grew to know them and care for them dearly. The final season is the testament to how good the show was, bringing the story to a sensational, satisfying yet heart-wrenching conclusion. Walter White’s story was worth telling, and I did well in tuning in. Probably the best drama I will ever watch.
FALLOUT 3 (PS3) [4.5/5] ~ engrossing, fascinating and extremely large. A bit too many bugs.
BIOSHOCK INFINITE (PS3) [4.5/5] ~ awesome design and storyline. Some improvements could be made to the battle controls and dynamics.
MAX PAYNE 3 (PS3) [4/5] ~ at times truly surprising and engrossing. It gets a bit repetitive and the higher difficulty levels can be borderline impossible to manage.
THE ELDER SCROLLS V: SKYRIM (PS3) [5/5] ~ it has some of the same problems as Fallout 3, but it just feels so much more developed, engrossing and beautiful. This is THE game to beat in the next console generation.
1984 – George Orwell
A true classic. George Orwell’s 1984 is a captivating and engrossing novel that has plenty to offer. It has romance, suspense and plenty of political intrigue. Published in 1949, Orwell offers a grim outlook of the future, where the industrial revolution gave way to decades of wars at a global scale that eventually formed three equally powerful nations. The story follows a man who has never quite fit into the mold of the “perfect” citizen that subjects to the whims of one of these absolute dictatorships. As expected, this man risks his life to find more about the powers that control him, his friends and life in general but, when he does arrive at some answers, they are not exactly what he was hoping for. The novel is remarkable in that it speaks about politics as eloquently as it speaks about the human condition, romance, relationships and the ever-present desire to be free and independent. A must read, if only for the many catchphrases that litter the novel and that have since become part of our culture.