Lists / Movies

What I Watched… (Vol. 14)

Yes, OK, I know that we’re almost at the end of November and I’ll have another list of films I watched during that month to post up here, but I wanted to shake things up a bit.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve just been posting an image of the films I watched in a given month. I also noticed that the What I Watched… Vol. 10 post almost consistently ends up in the top blog posts section. I decided to combine the two ideas. So here is What I Watched… October 2013.

Dragonball Z: Battle of Gods (Oct. 4 – DVD)

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The latest feature length Dragon Ball movie features, as the title states, a battle of Gods. The action sequences become a bit redundant but the film still managed to exhibit the classic Dragon Ball charm that made it a worldwide hit.

4,3,2,1 (Oct. 4 – DVD)

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Honestly, I don’t remember much about this movie other than Emma Roberts is in it. If I can recall, I believe I was so bored with it that I ended up fast forwarding through it and catching random subtitles that would pop up on the bottom.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Oct. 5 – DVD)

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LOVED this movie! so much so that I went out and bought it the next day. The film features a nice blend of comedy, everyday life drama and a heartbreaking conclusion. Director Mamoru Hosoda followed this movie up with the even more surreal, time-themed sci-fi anime feature Summer Wars, which I watched a few days later.

Gravity IMAX 3D (Oct. 6 – In Theater)

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What is there really to say about this movie other than, “Wow!” Like most of us, I’m very selective about the IMAX 3D movies that I spend my money on. I mean, double surcharges for crying out loud. I think Sandra Bullock, director Alfonso Cuaron and the film in general is locked in to get a bunch of Oscar nominations. My biggest question is did it release too early?

5 Centimeters Per Second (Oct. 8 – DVD)

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A beautiful, haunting feature built around three vignettes about a young man named Takaki and the over-arching theme of love. Through cruel winters, technological difficulties and finally day-to-day life obligations, he struggles to keep his relationships alive. Most of the film is told in narration, but the artwork is just stunningly gorgeous!

Captain Phillips (Oct. 12 – In Theater)

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Tom Hanks’ Oscar bid finds him playing a cargo ship captain who weathers a hijacking by Somali pirates. Based on a true story, the film could have done with a bit less shaky-cam (it’s Paul Greengrass’ style). The ending leaves an emotional punch though and I just wanted to hug Hanks and tell him that the hijacking horror was over.

Summer Wars (Oct. 13 – DVD)

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As mentioned above, this was director Mamoru Hosoda’s follow-up to the excellent The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Summer Wars is an interesting mix of family life comedy mixed with a sci-fi thriller element that’s told through an almost abstract gamer’s lens. The film does run a bit long, but it’s still thoroughly enjoyable.

The Complex (Oct. 14 – DVD)

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Dark Water and The Ring director Hideo Nakata’s latest film centers on a young woman who is haunted by late night scratching on her bedroom walls. OK, that sounds silly, but while The Complex has some effective scares in it, it’s very by-the-numbers and predictable, especially if you’ve seen previous Nakata films. The moment the little boy appears in the film, you pretty much know that he’s the reason everything is all screwed up.

The Cat Returns (Oct. 15 – DVD)

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This early 2000s Studio Ghibli film was strangely captivating. The plot centers on a young girl who becomes involuntarily engaged to a cat prince in a magical world. She’s whisked away against her will and her only hope of freedom rests with a dapper cat statue that comes to life. Those Studio Ghibli folks were smoking some good stuff in the early 2000s.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Oct. 19 – In Theater)

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Overall, this sequel was disappointing. Mind you, I really liked the first film and was looking forward to this follow-up, being careful to temper my enthusiasm and expectations. While there are plenty of puns to go around and Barry the Strawberry is adorable, but I just was not very interested in this movie. Yes, it has some laughs, but it could have been a whole lot better.

Unfinished Song (Oct. 19 – DVD)

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Gemma Arterton brought me to this movie, but Terrence Stamp kept me watching. He gives a rich performance as an elderly man who goes from grumpy grouch to heartbreaking songbird in this British dramedy that feels like it adapted the 2007 documentary Young@Heart into a fictional story.

Whisper of the Heart (Oct. 19 – DVD)

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This late-90s Studio Ghibli anime feels like a prequel to The Cat Returns. You’ll see Baron the Cat in this film, although the story revolves around a young girl who finds that all the books she checks out at the library have been previously checked out by the same boy. She later meets the boy and through a series of events that I’d rather not give away, they become close. The ending felt a bit abrupt but the sunrise art is gorgeous. I actually paused the film and took a pic to make it my wallpaper.

Appleseed: Ex Machina (Oct. 20 – DVD)

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If I’m forced to pick between the two Appleseed movies, I’m going to go with the first one. I really enjoyed the simplified story arc of that one. This sequel has a lot going on with multiple subplots including a love triangle, terrorists using technology to launch attacks on Olympus and more. It’s a bigger, wider movie that the first Appleseed. Both films are stunning to look at, although there are moments in Ex Machina that felt a bit cartoonish. All in all, I liked it.

Naruto: Road to Ninja (Oct. 22 – DVD)

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I tend to steer away from these Naruto movies but had heard some great things about this film. I’m glad I took the chance to check it out as it reminded me of why I fell in love with the Naruto series to begin with. There’s plenty of humor, especially in the first half including an extended bath house sequence and the ending, my God… Nine-Tails versus Nine-Tails! Everything felt anti-climactic after that, but this movie is smart in that it doesn’t linger on after the big showdown. It gives you the big fight and then wraps things up and moves on to the credits. Allow me to also dork out for a moment and say how cool it was to see Akatsuki come to Naruto’s aid during the big fight.

Barefoot Gen (Oct. 24 – DVD)

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This early-’80s Showa Era anime tells the disturbing tale of a young boy nicknamed Barefoot Gen who survives the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and somehow tries to pull his life back together. The bombing sequence will be etched into your mind for days as animated bodies are melted and vaporized before you in a very surreal and powerful sequence of animation. The only thing that annoyed me about this movie was the actor who voiced Barefoot Gen. The majority of his dialogue is shouted with a thick southern Japanese accent.

Warm Bodies (Oct. 25 – DVD)

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I missed this movie when it hit theaters earlier this year. The story itself is an interesting twist on the classic zombie genre and while I could nit-pick it to death (pun not intended) overall I was pleasantly surprised by this film.

All Is Lost (Oct. 26 – In Theater)

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Robert Redford is earning a ton of Oscar buzz for this film which is the only reason most people will venture out to see it. I’m telling you right now, he literally utters five lines of dialogue in the entire movie. The rest of the film is Redford reacting to the various hardships and obstacles that he’s facing while out on the high seas. It’s a strong acting performance but it drove me crazy as there were moments where he clearly should have said something, anything, but instead only managed a grunt. Does he deserve an Oscar for this performance? I still think Chiwetel Ejiwofor is the one to beat for best actor, but Redford makes a strong claim for the category.

Thor: The Dark World (Oct. 29 – Screening)

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We’ve come to expect this big blow-out movies from Marvel and Thor: The Dark World delivers in spades. That being said, there is way too much going on in this movie. We’ve got *deep breath* Malekith chasing after the Aether, more Thor and Loki drama, more Odin and Thor drama, Jane Foster being “infected” by the Aether, Kat Dennigs and the intern, Stellan Skarsgaard running around naked, the death of someone close to Thor and so much more it escapes me. Now I’m not saying they should have dumbed down Thor to a simple A-B-C action adventure romp. I still walked out of the theater completely entertained by what I had seen and may take the film in again in November. In the threequel, let’s remove characters that really don’t need to be in this franchise anymore.

About Time (Oct. 31 – In Theater)

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This being the final movie that Richard Curtis has said he will direct, I went into this movie somewhat melancholy. The tone of the film doesn’t help matters either, but the acting is strong all around. Rachel McAdams is gorgeous and loveable as always (yes, I’m extremely biased) and Domhnall Gleeson and Bill Nighy also give good performances. The film felt like it ran a bit long though in getting to the “cherish everyday of your life” message. Still, as farewell films go, Curtis did a good job here. Will miss his touch in the romantic comedy genre.

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