Time once again to review how I spent (or misspent, as the case may be) my valuable leisure time during the year just ended...
Movies Seen in a Theater in 2007
I don't recall The Girlfriend and I consciously deciding to pare back our cinema-going, but somehow that seems to be what we're doing anyway: for the second year in a row, the number of flicks we saw on The Big Screen is down, a mere 17 versus 21 in 2006 and 31 in 2005. It's not because we've grown weary of the experience -- I still stubbornly maintain that there's nothing like sharing the emotional and visceral impact of a really good movie with a couple hundred other people, even with the high prices and the idiots who insist on lighting up the auditorium with their radium-fueled cell phone displays during Rutger Hauer's "I've seen things" speech -- but I guess we've just been finding other things that demand our attention more.
On the positive side, most of what we did see was pretty good:
- The Good Shepherd
- Children of Men
- Catch and Release
- Ghost Rider
- Music and Lyrics
- Picadilly Cowboy
- Spider-Man 3
- Hot Fuzz
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
- Ocean's 13
- Live Free or Die Hard
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- No End in Sight
- Blade Runner: The Final Cut
- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
My favorite movies of 2007: Stardust, Blade Runner, and, unexpectedly, Sweeney Todd (certainly the most unique film on this year's list!)
The best really damn depressing movies of '07: The Good Shepherd and Children of Men. Both were beautifully made, intelligently written, wonderfully performed, thought-provoking... oh, and they were incredible downers, too.
Biggest disappointments of '07: Ghost Rider (no, I really didn't expect it to be any good, but I was hoping), Hot Fuzz (which wasn't actually bad, but it didn't quite rise to the same level of Pegg and Wright's previous film, Shaun of the Dead) and Spider-Man 3, a lackluster, overblown, and ultimately forgettable conclusion to what had been shaping up to be a triple-crown superhero trilogy.
The chick-flick I expected to loathe but which actually turned out to be pretty enjoyable: Music and Lyrics
The flat-out worst movie I saw in 2007: Picadilly Cowboy, a.k.a. Anxiously Engaged, which looked to be a charming fish-out-of-water story that just happened to be made by local (Utah) talent, but which turned out to be merely another dreary entry in the floundering "Mormon cinema" sub-genre. You know, I'm really not opposed to the concept of movies about Mormon characters grappling with uniquely Mormon concerns; on the contrary, I think an honest and well-made movie about those concerns would probably be a genuine breakthrough. Every one I've seen, however, suffers from the stink of roadshow amateurism and is so tightly focused at their niche market -- you know who you are -- that no one who isn't an initiated member of the club could possibly find any pleasure in them. Keep trying, kids...
Movies Seen on DVD in 2007
I may not have been going to the cinema much, but I was certainly spinning those shiny silver discs; I saw 32 feature films on DVD, up from 21 last year and still not counting TV shows on DVD (which I forgot to record last year, and which get their own section this year):
- Beerfest (unrated edition)
- Melvin and Howard
- Must Love Dogs
- Striking Distance
- The Black Dahlia
- Stranger Than Fiction
- Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut
- I Trust You to Kill Me
- The Quick and the Dead (1995 Sam Raimi film)
- Curse of the Golden Flower
- The Illusionist
- Brother Bear
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- The Prestige
- Nate and Hayes
- Mona Lisa Smile
- The Queen
- High Noon
- Shut Up and Sing
- The Misfits
- Event Horizon
- I, Robot
- Over the Hedge
- The Polar Express
As with the theatrical movies I saw this year, this was generally a pretty good list, with only a couple of stinkers in the bunch.
The best movies I saw on DVD in 2007:: Hidalgo, Stranger than Fiction, The Queen, High Noon, Ratatouille, and Waitress
The worst movies I saw on DVD in '07: The Black Dahlia and Event Horizon. Both started off with interesting premises and respectable casts, and both drowned in a gush of gore and stupidity.
Creepiest movie-on-DVD: 1408. The ending is a bit flat, just like in most Stephen King stories, but the first two acts are an incredible exercise in rising suspense. John Cusack is one of the best actors in movies these days.
Runner-up: The Polar Express, which is creepy in an entirely different sort of way. (I really hate that dead-zombie-eyed motion-capture animation stuff. Beowulf creeped me out, too.)
Most incomprehensible movie-on-DVD: Curse of the Golden Flower. Huh? I mean... huh?
Most tedious movie-on-DVD: A dead-heat between Windtalkers and Nate and Hayes. Ugh.
My favorite of the two movies about magicians: The Illusionist. The Prestige was an excellent film, too, but it seemed somehow aloof compared to the sepia-toned fairy tale of The Illusionist.
The one I saw but don't remember a damn thing about: Must Love Dogs. Not a thing. Zip. I know it had Cusack and Diane Lane, and that I like them both, but the movie itself? Completely ephemeral...
The ones that I refused to see back in my film-snob days but which really weren't so bad: Striking Distance and The Quick and the Dead. Remember when B-grade action movies were formulaic but reliably entertaining? Now, the A pictures are formulaic but can't even manage the entertainment part.
Biggest guilty pleasure: Beerfest. Duh, isn't that one obvious?
Moving on again...
TV Series Seen on DVD in 2007
It wasn't just feature films I was watching on DVD:
- The Benny Hill show, complete and Unadulterated: The Hill's Angels Years, 1982-1985 (disc one only)
- The Best of Donny and Marie, Volume I (complete)
- Star Trek: The Animated Series (complete)
- Moonlighting, Seasons One and Two (complete)
- Miami Vice, Season Two (complete)
- Batman (1943 serial, complete)
(This one isn't technically a TV series -- the old serials were made for theatrical screening -- but it's a multi-episode, long-form entertainment, and that's more like a TV series than a feature film...)
- Mission: Magic (disc one only)
The book list will follow in the next entry...
And just in case you want to compare and contrast: