Thursday, February 06, 2014

New Sidebar Feature

Slow time here at Cockeyed Caravan! Two comments in almost two weeks. Ouch. Oh, well, I always get a lot more comments when I talk about recent stuff, so you’ll be glad to know that Sunday will begin a first-ever two-week best-of-the-year edition, because it was a really good year for movies.

In the meantime, I’ve updated the sidebar to include individual links for all of the movie and TV checklists, along with all of the accompanying posts. Check it out >>>


Joost said...


After "Twelve years a Slave" the audience I was with sat in silence for a good few minutes.
It doesn't mean they didn't like the film!


Anonymous said...

I agree. Far from being unimpressed, you tend to leave us speechless. You ideas are so well thought through and articulated that there's nothing left for us to say.
Also, I'm really glad you'll be looking at some new stuff. Please include Catching Fire (hunger games 2) if you haven't already. I had so many problems with it as a movie and I'd love to hear you talk about it.

j.s. said...

When there are no comments, you never assume the best, which in many of these cases, with films you've analyzed so thoroughly in the past, is likely to be the case: That what you've written is so detailed and exhaustive that it doesn't really call for new comments... Though, for what it's worth, I did have a couple of not so much corrective or questioning as footnote-y riffing comments about ALIENS and THE SHINING that the Internet ate and I thought better of reconstructing.

Looking forward to the best-of reflections. I saw many great films from around the world in 2013, but the ones that stick with my as having some of the most accomplished and interesting writing include: 12 YEARS A SLAVE, ALL IS LOST, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, GRAVITY, HER, MUD, PRISONERS and RUSH.

MCP said...

I second the commenter who is rendered speechless. The insights of the posts are on such a high level that I almost always feel unqualified to add anything.

That being said, with the checklist run-throughs, I would humbly request more mediocre-to-good movies be put to the test. I think there is a lot to be learned from things that kind of worked but kind of didn't. My theory is that their flaws will stand out.

The Pacific Rim and Oblivion series was great, but I thought they were so overwhelmed by their terrible logic flaws that it was harder to see how other fixes would have helped.

Anonymous said...

We're all still here, nodding silently in agreement.

Matt Bird said...

Thanks, guys! Any suggestions of mediocre movies to run through the checklist?

J.A. said...

I apologize in advance to the people who think any of these are masterpieces, my taste is a little different than some. A few might be downright bad, too. I haven't seen any of these more than once:

THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (just saw it on an airplane)
HEREAFTER ( I think Clint Eastwood makes mediocre movies that fool people into thinking they're good, I could put most of his films in this category, even the ones that win awards. This one might be interesting as he notoriously insisted on shooting the first draft of the screenplay)
YOU'VE GOT MAIL (had to include at least one Tom Hanks)

...this is fun. Not sure why crime movies kept coming up.

Matt Bird said...

Hmm, two of those I liked, four I haven't seen, and that one that was one (Black Dahlia) that I felt was awful mostly because it tried to cram in too much of the book (and had Josh Hartnett in it), so I don't think I could go with any of those...

...Oh, and J.S., as long as I'm being cryptic, I should give you advanced notice: Of your favorites of the year, four I loved, three I haven't seen, and one I couldn't stand, to the extent that I used it as "how not to" counter-example in two of next week's write-ups. Fair warning!

J.A. said...

I actually took off a few beforehand that I knew people would say were great. I didn't like BLACK DAHLIA either, but "mediocre" to me covers the spectrum from "sort of bad, but watchable" to "yeah, that was good, I guess."

It's actually pretty hard to agree on mediocrity. I'd put OBLIVION there, but PACIFIC RIM squarely in the "bad" category.


I've seen 5 of j.s.'s 8 films, and thought they were all very good. Looking forward to reading what you have to say about the one you didn't like.

Parker said...

FWIW, I've watched some of the old/obscure movies you've done posts on after reading about them on your blog.

I'm looking forward to next week's posts. Meanwhile, would you consider doing some more Meddler posts? I loved those.

j.s. said...

I'm all for more Meddler posts too. And I wouldn't be surprised if that's more or less what MCP means above. The discussions of OBLIVION and PACIFIC RIM were totally interesting. But, in a way, there were so many problems with the fundamental conceptions of both movies that, short of committing to and analyzing detailed step by step Meddler-like fixes, it was hard to have a big picture view on the ways in which each might have been more comprehensively salvaged.

Matt Bird said...

J.A.: I love Star Trek III!

J.S.: I agree that that's a problem when trying to do something like "The Meddler", which is bad news, because it seems like *almost every* movie these days is fundamentally misconceived, rather than merely poorly executed.

For instance, I thought of doing Meddlers on some of those rare instances where I find myself thinking, "okay, this could have worked, if...", but the examples were so obscure that it didn't seem to be worth it: the horror movie "P.S." and the thriller "Vantage Point", for instance.

j.s. said...

I've actually seen VANTAGE POINT. Wasn't that, at one point, supposed to be the 24 movie that still isn't happening (now they are doing a new miniseries instead)? But the other title is too obscure to IMDb without additional info like the director, stars, year of release.

I say, if you've got a way to meddle with a movie that's taught you something new, important or interesting about storytelling, you ought to have at it, no matter how obscure the title. Because you'll end up explaining the key points of the story to us anyway in the process of fixing it. And even if it's something that's relatively hard to see now, that could easily change later on.

Matt Bird said...

Sorry, it was called P2! That makes more sense. Wes Bentley as a psychotic parking garage attendant. It was awful, but I couldn't stop thinking of ways to make it better.

j.s. said...

I've seen that one too, but I quickly forgot it.

Whatever happened to Alexander Aja and his writing/producing partner? Those two made a couple of pretty good horror films -- I'd include HIGH TENSION and their remakes of THE HILLS HAVE EYES and PIRANHA -- but they've also made some bafflingly bad producing choices, like making P2 and MIRRORS. And I hear that, for the last few years, they've been bogged down in development on some kind of space opera.

Ah, okay, answered my own question -- he's directing an adaptation of Stephen King the Younger's (Joe Hill) book HORNS. Which hopefully will be the return to form it sounds like.

MCP said...

I have always tremendously enjoyed the Meddler posts. The Harry Potter one was amazing because I love that series, and the changes you would have made would have radically improved it.

I liked J.A.'s choices.

I agree too that obscure movies are good if they are inspiring to you. I would definitely netflix them if I hadn't seen them.

Here is a list of fairly big movies from 2012 and 2013 I think would possibly provide fertile ground. I think they all were solid concepts without any screamingly obvious logic failures.

And for the record I like all these movies, and some I almost love, so it's not a knock on any of them.

Jack the Giant Slayer (probably the worst one)
Oz the Great and Powerful
World War Z
We're the Millers
Enders Game
Moonrise Kingdom
Batman 3
This is 40