Tag Archives: Tom Cruise

The 2014 Movie Tally – A Year In (Comedic) Review

13 Jan

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A whole year goes by, and I’ve barely been blogging. What gives?!

Granted, I’ve been incredibly busy helping my hospital transition from old-fashioned paper charting, to our newly improved electronic medical records. I’ve also been continuing with school full-time for a higher nursing degree. But dammit, not only my movie-blogging has suffered, but my actual movie-going has too. This year marks the absolute lowest number of movies I’ve seen since…well, since I’ve started counting in college! (EDITOR NOTE: Boaz started counting from a very young age, not in his college years, he is simply referring to keeping count of his movie tally in the above statement. Any attempts to disparage Boaz and his ability to count, spell or read will be subject to lawsuit.)

While it may be unrealistic for me to think I’ll have the time to ever blog about EVERY movie I see – as I did once before – I do have a few attainable goals in mind for 2015:

1. See more movies. I need to get back to my roots and get my average back up closer to 150 per year. When you read my final number for the year you may notice it’s still more movies than anyone else you know. Nonetheless, it makes me sad inside. And teacher says that every time Boaz is sad an Angel loses his wings.

2. Blog more. Even if not constantly, just needs to happen more often. I miss writing, and a few kind readers have told me they miss reading them, so the narcissist in me must feed the devoted audience. Let’s put it this way, my next blog had better not be catching you up with my tally for 2015.

3. “Forget” to leave the toilet seat up once or twice. My wife Adi has gotten so used to me being a good husband, it’s time I bring back a little slapstick to the house. The only thing funnier than seeing someone slip on a banana peel is the noise of someone screaming and splashing as they “fall” into a toilet. Comedy gold…

4. Be a good husband and listen more, and do what Adi wants for a change because…wait, we have time for a QUADRUPLE feature on Sunday?!

Okay, now that my wish list for 2015 is on full display…

Final count for movies I saw in the theater during 2014:

– 103 movies!

– Sounds like a lot? Consider that my old average was 150, and my last two years were 135 and 139 respectably.

– This includes what I saw in the theater between January 1st and December 31st of 2014.

Ready for the breakdown of who I saw them with? Here is where many of my friends come into the picture, and I’ll give examples of movie highs and lows from each friend…

1. Adi – 71 movies. Tsk tsk, in 2012 she saw 106 with her crazy boyfriend. In 2013 she saw 87 with her obsessed fiancé. But in 2014 she saw only 71 movies with her one-track husband. Are you sensing a pattern here? Should I be worrying about my marriage? I went on at least 3 hikes with her last year, but I only get 71 movies in return? I know what you’re all thinking, men give and women take, it’s an age-old tale…I’m still unsure what I would call the year’s best movie, but the absolute 100% most FUN I had at the movies this year was a tie between Guardians of the Galaxy and X-Men: Days of Future Past. Marvel is starting to challenge Pixar as the most consistently clever, entertaining and creative movie empire in town. They keep churning out big spectacles and surprising us with good writing, smart directors and great casting. You definitely get your money’s worth…

2. Jared – 12 movies. While this is a slight decline from the 15 he saw with me in 2013, it’s actually quite impressive considering he lived in Pasadena. Now that he’s moving nearby to the city, just imagine how much better 2015 might be. The sky’s the limit…for Jared and Boaz that is. Adi may already be a lost cause with her pathetic 71 movie count. The most creative/cool/inventive movie of the year: Snowpiercer. Most disappointing movies of the year given my expectations: Tie between The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty and The Gambler. Both sucked, and I don’t say that often as readers should know.

3. Mittelman – 9 movies. The one friend I have who actually has and uses the movie app. I’m still not convinced it would work well for me, but I gotta love a friend who can see a movie every 24 hours with me. Best movie of the year you heard of but didn’t know was great: Chef. The movie that will likely (and deservedly) win Best Picture that you still haven’t seen: Boyhood (wow, what a film-making feat!)

4. Avish – 9 movies. Avish is such a good friend, she will literally come see a movie she wasn’t interested in just because Adi and I walked to the movie theater and will eventually need a ride home. She also has taste that typically is limited to art-house indies, but then randomly she’ll need to see Winnie The Pooh above all else. I saw some pretty great movies with her, but the one that was absolutely fantastic, and you probably think was a mindless blockbuster sequel: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. It won’t even be considered for the major Oscars, and that’s simply sad. Because it was awesome. Awesome. AWE-SOME. (Rule of thumb: anything with Andy Serkis doing motion capture is awesome, If he played the big screen version of Mr. Hanky The Christmas Poo he would probably warrant an Oscar nomination.)

5. Shlomo – 7 movies. The one friend I can count on to ask me to save him a certain movie, then see that movie when it comes out, and then complain that I made him see it with me when he hates it. Every time. Classic Shlom…he reminds me of that underrated Jon Lovitz cartoon The Critic, since the first thing he says after almost every movie is “it sucked!”. Somehow I’m almost disappointed when he doesn’t say it…The best fighting scenes of any movie this year: Tie between John Wick and The Raid 2. If you’re a fan of (who cares what the plot is but) incredible action sequences, don’t miss either of them.

6a. Mike B. – 5 movies. He really wanted to be higher on the list this year, and he just barely did, but c’mon Mikey, we used to see dozens a year, we can do better than this next time! Mike holds the special distinction of being able to remember every movie he’s ever seen with me, as well as the date and theater we saw it in. But did he remember to bring milk from the grocery store like his wife asked? I think not! Best movie for anyone who plays fantasy football or watches the real thing: Draft Day. This Kevin Costner movie got trashed by most critics, but it was fun, tight and exciting, and…oh get your head out of the gutter!

6b. Ephraim – 5 movies. Sadly, this friend moved away to the Windy City, so I expect he won’t be on this list in future years. But what a great guy to see movies with…if you don’t mind someone LOUDLY TALKING AND COMPLAINING THROUGHOUT IT. And therefore yes, he was the absolute perfect person to see Blended and Tammy with this year, both quite lame and way more fun thanks to his running-at-the-mouth complaints.

6c. Josh B. – 5 movies. This sucks! Josh was the title-winner the previous few years (after Adi of course) and this year he plummeted down from 16 to 5. But wait you might argue (if you know him) that he just had a baby, that changes everything! Ah, but I know something that you don’t know, his baby is not left-handed! Oh, and also it was born at the end of the year, so it really wasn’t a relevant factor. Instead I must resign myself to the knowledge that he simply chose not to see as many movies with me, and our once strong friendship is clearly slipping away into the ether…Runner-up (to Planet of the Apes) as the best movie of the year that you THOUGHT was a big, dumb blockbuster, but was actually smart and awesome: Edge of Tomorrow. Yes, Tom Cruise was in a clever and hilarious sci-fi movie. It happened.

7a. Shira G. – 4 movies. My friend used to live miles away and I’d see hordes of movies with her. Now she lives a few blocks from here and we’re only at 4 for the year? Must be something I said…Great movie that shows that even funny Saturday Night Live actors can act amazingly well in dramas that make you want to kill yourself. Bravo: The Skeleton Twins.

7b. Cindy – 4 movies. All year Cindy kept telling me she needs to get back onto the movie list. You see we used to watch many together, but then she got a job and it became more difficult. So Cindy did the only sensible thing anyone in her situation would do: she changed jobs so that she could start working from home in order to see more movies with me again. Welcome back to the list Cindy, I expect great things from 2015…Movie and studio who’s hype is starting to confuse me: Disney’s Big Hero 6. I liked the movie. I really did. But I have the same problem with this as I did the previous year with Disney’s Frozen. Too many people said it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Frozen was a very pretty and entertaining movie with some nice songs and a story that says that men suck and sisters are the only true love out there. Awesome, liked it. But it wasn’t the greatest movie, cartoon or anything in ages, just good Disney fun. Big Hero 6 once again was a really entertaining movie. In fact I liked it more than Frozen. But when Cindy told me that her friends were raving that it was the best movie of the year I may have lost my faith in humanity for just a moment.

7d. Nathan – 4 movies. This friend spent the early part of the year piloting helicopters for the army and still managed to make the list. For those of you who think you don’t have the time to see a movie with me because of your busy lives in LA, for shame…Best cartoon of the year: The LEGO Movie. There were so many clever jokes thrown out during the movie that I honestly need to see it again.

I’ll stop my breakdown right there, but honorable mention goes to the following friends who saw 3 with me: Kavka, Yoni, Jason R., Dan & Michelle,

And a special shameful shout-out to Patrick, Abe and Farnaz, who all made the cut last year but this year saw nothing but my birthday movie with me. I didn’t know we were having problems with our friendships, but clearly I need to redraft my will before it gets too late.

Speaking of my birthday movie, I’ll finish off with this fun photo that sums up my 2014 movie year as well as my friends: a whole bunch of us crazies camped out late at night to see the absolutely phenomenal X-Men sequel. Many people were fans of the series, many more just came to spend time doing what I love for my birthday, but all of us had a damn fun night together…at the movies!

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Oblivion (“My Comic Book Origin Story”)

8 May

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Synopsis: “A veteran assigned to extract Earth’s remaining resources begins to question what he knows about his mission and himself.” (Rated PG-13; 2 hours, 5 minutes)

Why on God’s green-earth isn’t this smart science-fiction movie getting more love? This time I not only refer to the critics, but also the people I personally know who have seen and disliked it. I went to see Oblivion with the knowledge that a group of 3 of my friends (Ephraim, Mike and Jared) had gone to see it, and reported being really bored by it. Ephraim, who admits he gets impatient watching movies, said he was intrigued by the first half but then it lost him. They predicted that I’d like it, seemingly because I enjoy most movies, but were ready to mock me for doing so. Well, I’m sorry guys, but not only did I think it was good, I REALLY really liked it.

The movie was like a cross between 2001: A Space Odyssey, I Am Legend and WALL-E. First of all, let me address the slow-pacing of the movie. This made me feel like I was watching the classic Stanley Kubrick film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Most people to see that movie know it wasn’t exactly an exciting, fast-paced movie, but the brilliant build-up of tension as man realized more and more that he needed to battle machine…wow. And no, I’m not suggesting this movie had the extremely slow pacing of Kubrick, but each scene was certainly deliberate, thoughtful and highly suspenseful. Considering the movie was set on a desolate planet Earth, you should be able to visualize that there were long portions with very little dialogue, and it became more about man versus beast…or machine. Personally I find this technique amazing when it works, such as with Cast Away, or even the aforementioned WALL-E or I Am Legend. A film-maker who is able to create a world where you are watching a one-man play for long chunks of the time, and keep you glued to your seats…I absolutely love and admire that.

Without spoiling anything, the basic premise in Oblivion involves Tom Cruise and Andrea Riseborough as a two people who have their memories wiped, and are assigned to monitor Earth to help protect it from creatures who have been sabotaging it. All of this takes place in a post-apocalyptic future, where the two of them have a home-base that looks like a scaled-back version of The Jetsons apartment in the sky, while the rest of the world remains bare and desolate.

The visuals were simply awesome. This applied to both the fantastic set design, and also the absurdly great visual effects. My goodness half of this movie involves rocket ships and robots flying around, and it looked amazing. I was swept away in a world where menacing, flying drone robots existed, and Tom Cruise was like Maverick from Top Gun if he’d gotten amnesia and was flying around aimlessly trying to find his purpose in life. In fact, I didn’t know anything about the movie other than the previews, and it made perfect sense to find out that it was based on a graphic novel.

I grew up with an expensive hobby, and comic books be thy name. As with many addictions, it started quite innocently…It was the summer of 1994, I had just turned 15, and my best friend Seth asked me to join him for a comic book signing. Although it sounded like a boring day of nothing but waiting in line, we passed time on lazy Shabbos afternoons often enough that I didn’t mind doing it for the sake of spending time with my buddy. My immediate impressions were of amusement at the people surrounding us in the line. There was one memorable middle-aged man with a twitchy mustache who kept raving about a comic book named Shi, Seth and I joked about this for years to come. Hours passed by, and we finally got inside Golden Apple, the popular comic book store on Melrose Avenue. About 5 steps into the store an Asian man got my attention:

Asian man – Hey! You plan on signing anything?

Boaz – Oh, I’m just here to hang with my friend. Why, where do we finally do that?

Golden Apple Employee – Dude, that’s Jim Lee!

Boaz – Umm, who?

Asian man/Jim Lee – Bursts out laughing

Seth – Nice Boaz, way to embarrass me. He’s the head of Image Comics and the one everyone’s waiting to meet!

Boaz – Oh, sorry, I don’t collect comics, but I’ve been waiting in line long enough that I guess I’ll buy one and get your autograph, sure.

Entire Crowd – Laughs hysterically

When I saw there were about 3 issues released of his comic Wetworks, I bought all three, he signed them, and the next thing I knew I was shopping at Golden Apple once a week, getting about 20 comics at a time. This hobby lasted years, gathered me hundreds to thousands of comic books (I never counted) and all of my babysitting money. As with movies, some were fantastic, others were lousy, some were interesting but slow, and others were dumb fun action. (My favorites were anything written by Garth Ennis, the comic book equivalent of Quentin Tarantino.) The universes that some of these artists managed to create would bring fantasy worlds to life that were near-impossible to bring to the big screen. They were too grand and vast, technology simply couldn’t handle such a feat…yet. Cut ahead to the continued perfection of special effects and CGI, and more and more we got to see movies like Avatar and John Carter which actually transported us to different worlds. I’m happy to report that Oblivion joins the club, as it so effectively transported me to a dark, new world.

The graphic novel had been written by Joseph Kosinski, and I’m thrilled that he was also chosen to direct it, as he was given the chance to realize his original vision. Kosinski had only directed commercials before being given the chance to direct the long-awaited Tron: Legacy. While that movie was a bit of a let-down, it LOOKED fantastic, and most of its flaws were in the writing. Here he was given his second movie, it was based on his own material, and it just worked as a smart, twisty story.

As interesting as I found it from the start, the movie really became incredible about halfway through, after a huge reveal. I was incredibly relieved to have seen it with my friend Yoni, because unlike our other three friends who hated it, Yoni and I both loved the film and had a great experience watching it. Bear in mind that he is the same friend who watched Tyler Perry’s Temptation with me, and helped me make fun of that one from start to finish. For the two hours that Oblivion was playing, I don’t think we said a word, other than our mutual disappointment that our friends hated it.

I tell you, when a certain twist in the movie occurred, in spite of usually figuring things out I was totally caught off-guard, and was blown away from that point onward. I’m not saying every piece to the puzzle was shocking. There were elements to the story that I saw a mile away that were meant to be giant reveals, but that didn’t take away from the overall cool factor. And the love story that ensued was quite touching, giving this sci-fi movie more brains, heart and ominous tension than most ever achieve. Between the incredible visuals and the spectacular sound, this warranted being seen on a giant screen, in a great theater. Thankfully we caught it in the amazing (and overpriced) Arclight theater. I doubt it’ll actually happen, since I’m limited with my time, but I would even consider seeing it again. Trust me, that’s high praise for someone who tries to see 150 different movies each year.

The movie was better than I Am Legend, the enjoyably flawed Will Smith movie, where he scours the Earth on his own, trying to stay alive. Thought it wasn’t as perfect as Cast Away, which was truly a one-man feat performed by Tom Hanks.

Quality Rating: A-

Boaz Rating: A+ (The first half was fascinating, but from the second half onward I was absolutely mesmerized)

Jack Reacher

7 Jan

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Synopsis: “A homicide investigator digs deeper into a case involving a trained military sniper who shot five random victims.” (Rated PG-13; 2 hours 10 minutes)

The perfect movie to exemplify how I’m an easy audience. The dialogue was bad. How bad? It’s main quips and big lines were things like:
Bad guy: “WRITE THIS DOWN!”

Tom Cruise: “I don’t need to write things down!!!”

And literally, the dramatic music swells. It was like you were watching a movie that was trying to mimic the dialogue and feel of film noirs from the 40’s, but it just didn’t work.

Oh my, there was a big climactic “figuring it out scene during this movie where I turned to Shlomo and told him that I thought I was watching the hilarious 80’s comedy Clue, because that’s exactly what his deductive speech sounded like. I kept waiting for him to name Professor Plum as the villain.

And Tom Cruise was playing a former military police officer, making me think the entire movie, “man is this a bad sequel to A Few Good Men,” that one had little action but a GREAT script.

Yes, the dialogue was often laughable, there was really no mystery to follow, and the music constantly reminded you that you’re watching a dramatic and exciting movie (there’s that music again while Tom Cruise is saying something hokey, it must be an exciting moment!). BUT…I was entertained! Not only because it was fun to laugh at the silliness of the dialogue, but because the action itself was pretty damn cool. The action scenes (few and far between) were a pretty decent imitation of Bourne movie action, and the car chase was pretty damn good, reminiscent of classic Steve McQueen movie classics, which is appropriate since most people know that Tom Cruise imitates McQueen in doing his own dangerous stunts and stunt driving.

Also, the opening scene of the movie which involves a sniper, is not only done interestingly, but is surprisingly powerful when shown again later, a case of decent film-making in many technical ways, in the midst of a movie with some pretty key laughable elements.

Something to note: one of the main actors was played by the impressive German director Werner Herzog (who made one of my favorite underrated movies, Rescue Dawn), who enjoyed chewing up the scenery; couldn’t he have given a few tips for behind the camera while he was in front of it?

Silly movie, damn entertaining for both good and bad reasons.

The movie was much better than Alex Cross (a terrible thriller from a few months ago where someone was also tracking a killer), but much worse than Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, an amazing comedy/thriller that INTENTIONALLY used film noir dialogue, and it worked!

Quality Rating: C (saved only by the well directed action scenes)

Boaz Rating: B (between laughing at it and enjoying the action scenes, I had a good time)