2017: Movies & Music Year-end List

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Movies

I missed some pretty big movies this year. Just like the previous year. And the year before that. And the year before the year before that. And the year before the year before… Oh, this could go on forever. By “pretty big”, I mean movies like Blade Runner 2049 and Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. Or the last Star Wars movie. I also haven’t seen Okja and Get Out yet, smaller movies that definitely deserve no less. But I’ve seen a few films, both big and small.

Among the best reviewed films, I thought Baby Driver and Logan were overrated. So was Wonder Woman. I liked Baby Driver but there’s something lacking. I’m not really sure Logan was better than X-2 or Days of Future Past and I liked Deadpool better for sure. Wonder Woman, I liked for having the right balance between humor and pathos, which most Marvel movies lack, but the third act was just disappointing. Speaking of disappointments, Kong: Skull Island was simply the most disappointing movie I’ve seen this year, mainly for wasting the scenic locations in Vietnam for a generic thrill-less CGI mayhem. Comic book/superhero movies reached a new high in 2017. Of the three movies from Marvel, Spider-Man: Homecoming was OK and that’s the problem, it’s a merely OK movie. I’ve seen three movies featuring Vin Diesel this year and I thought two of them (xXx: Return of Xander Cage and Fate of the Furious) were a total waste of time.

Listed below, in no particular order, are the ones that made into my “best of” list.

Happy Death Day (Horror, Comedy, 2017)
The Big Sick (Romance, Comedy, 2017)
Tale of Tales (Fantasy, 2015)
Take Me (Comedy, 2017)
Kita Kita (Romance, Comedy, 2017)
Headshot (Martial Arts, Action, 2016)
Westworld (Science Fiction, 1973)
The Mermaid (Fantasy, Romance, Comedy, 2016)
Free Fire (Action, Comedy, 2016)
Logan (Superhero, 2017)
Baby Driver (Action, Crime, 2017)

And my favorites are below with added explanation, extra toppings, or one line review:

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Wonder Woman Mainly for that jaw-dropping sequence in No Man’s Land. That and Clio’s twelve volumes of ancient texts on girl-on-girl erotica.

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Thor: Ragnarok This is easily Marvel’s funniest with Hulk vs. Thor at the center and that fight sequence that burns Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” for fuel.

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Bliss Jerrold Tarog’s pycho-sexual thriller featuring Iza Calzado is the most elaborate tease of the year.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 James Gunn’s we’re a happy family of A-holes strikes back in Marvel’s most spacey and outlandish adventure yet.

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Blade of the Immortal Forget about Logan, this is the (fast-healing) superhero film of the year. Takashi Miike’s 100th film about the titular hundred killer is a killer.

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Birdshot Easily the most beautiful film I’ve seen this year. Part-Brothers Grimm, part-Miyazaki, Birdshot is a coming of age tale awash in blood, violence and corruption, a haunting political parable told through visual poetry.

 

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Music

Now, 2017 is quite a huge year in music. So huge I’ve only managed to discover five new songs to add to my playlist.

Ely Buendia and Co. goes the soul/Rn’B/funky route with Apartel. “Guijo St. (Makes You Wonder)” is something Michael Jackson would have written after listening to “With A Smile” on repeat. “Better Off” has this Al Green vibe to it but starts off like that song by this Native American band to which Star-Lord danced to in the opening sequence of Guardians of the Galaxy.

I liked Sharlene San Pedro‘s “Stars & Caramel Bars” the first time I saw it on MYX. Sharlene San Pedro covers one from Mayonnaise and one from a band I never heard of. The former child star from “Going Bulilit” isn’t writing her own material (yet) but at least she knows what she likes and I like what she likes.

I’m not really into funk or soul. Yet somehow I find myself liking IV of Spades’ “Hey Barbara”. And Barbara is cute.

The unreleased studio version of “Lift” (a.k.a. the greatest unreleased Radiohead song), finally surfaced with OKNOTOK. And it did not disappoint, unlike the new version of “True Love Waits”.

Here are my top ten songs for 2017:

ApartelBetter Off / Guijo St.
RadioheadLift / Man of War
IV of SpadesHey Barbara
UDDUnti-Unti
Sharlene San PedroStars & Caramel Bars / Paraan
Temple of the DogHunger Strike
SoundgardenThe Day I Tried To Live

 

13 Reasons Why I’m (Not) So Excited About Avengers: Infinity War

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Can’t say I’m not the least bit excited about Avengers: Infinity War. It is after all an Avengers movie. Something I have always looked forward to more than any other series or sub-franchise in the ongoing Marvel universe. Outside of the Guardians of the Galaxy, of course.

One reason I’m not too excited about Infinity War is that the Russos are directing it. And the writers of Captain America trilogy are the guys behind the script (Edit: They also wrote The Dark World, which I actually liked, but y’know Joss Whedon also had a hand on it). Sure, Civil War had some funny, sometimes witty back and forths, but it’s not the same as when Joss Whedon was still Marvel’s go to guy. Of course, Age of Ultron was a massive let down but so was Civil War.

At their best, the script for the last two Captain America movies, were just a little more than serviceable. Except for The Winter Soldier‘s bone-busting, fast-cut ADHD-style and a little shaky fight sequences (not really that good, if you ask me, since they tend to get repetitive in the long run), and Civil War‘s airport scuffle, those movies didn’t really stand out from the rest of the MCU. They didn’t have a distinct look or tone. Neither the triumphantly comedic/dramatic as the Guardians, nor as outrageously “out-there” as Thor: Ragnarok, and never as heartfelt as Ant-Man. Nothing really inventive or out-of-the-box.

Speaking of out-of-the-box ideas, that scene in where Loki was falling thru nothingness for thirty minutes is one of the most inventive sequence I’ve seen among recent MCU films. Sure that sequence is simple on the surface, not much CGI required to pull off, but it definitely required more than a bit of imagination to come up with. Yes, it was played for laughs and didn’t really forward the plot but it’s actually great in that, it demonstrated Strange’s power, his magic, it fleshed out the contrast between characters Loki and Doctor Strange, and also, it was very funny. My complaint with Doctor Strange is that it wasn’t magical enough, it wasn’t really strange. (Should Waititi take on next Doctor Strange movie, I would be excited for that.)

Going back to Cap’s movies, on pure technical aspects, they’re as exciting as Ant-Man. Outside of things mentioned above, they look so run-of-the-mill. Too bad for them, Ant-Man had a smaller but more relatable, not to mention more convincing, story to tell.

So yeah, the trailer is out. And it was different from the one shown in D23, which already leaked thru the internet. Trailer breakdowns are everywhere. This guy found 13 reasons to be so excited about this movie coming out next year. So I decided that I’d rip him off and give my own—kind of contrarian—take on the list. Here we go:

Vision Goes Through Changes
Not a big fan of Vision. Though I like Age Of Ultron more than the next guy, Vision’s origin is one of those sub-plot in that movie that left me… I don’t know. It’s was kind of magical and dumb and also very contrived. I like Scarlet Witch. There’s a part in Ultron where Hawkeye told her that none of these (the things happening in the movie) makes sense, and it was followed by her character transformation. I also like her being paired with Vision in Civil War. But that brings me to one of my biggest gripes about the movie: Where the hell is Vision during that Lagos mission?

Continue reading “13 Reasons Why I’m (Not) So Excited About Avengers: Infinity War”

Thor: Ragnarok — Some Loud Thunder

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Warning: Some Lou Ferrigno-sized spoilers ahead

“What are you, god of hammers?” Odin asks Thor at one point in the movie. Then Thor does his thunderbolt thing and we’re treated to what might be the coolest battle sequence in the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe since Scott Lang turned into Giant-Man, or since Peter Quill made a giant Pac-Man to the tune of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain”. It’s so frickin’ awesome and thanks to director Taika Waititi, Thor: Ragnarok is now officially, the wackiest Marvel ensemble comedy to date this side of Joss Whedon.

Thor: Ragnarok opens with Thor captured by the demon Surtur, bound and hanging from a chain in the Asgardian underworld. While Surtur tells about Ragnarok a.k.a. the destruction of Asgard, Thor kind of breaks the fourth wall as he interrupts the background orchestra and the demon’s grand proclamations every time he slowly spins away from Surtur’s view. It’s a sequence that brings to mind GotG and Deadpool, effectively planting the movie’s overall tongue and tone, firmly in its cheek.

Minutes later, it’s family reunion time, as Thor is re-united with Loki, who’s been ruling Asgard as Odin and staging plays about his pseudocide in the last movie; then later with Odin, who’s just waiting for his final moments in Norway; and finally, with his older sister Hela, who was imprisoned by Odin and written out of history for her great evil ambitions and has now returned to take over Asgard, leaving Thor not much time to grieve or be bitter over Loki’s deception. Thor and Loki, suddenly on the same side, finds themselves outmatched, as Hela destroys the Mjolnir without much effort and kicks the brothers out into space while they try to escape thru the BEEF-roast.

The fun ride continues as Thor crash-lands into an alien planet and becomes a gladiator-slave owned by Jeff Goldblum, who, here, goes by the moniker the Grandmaster, ruler of the colorful wasteland called Sakaar (a goofy combination of neon lights, pinball aesthetics and Jack Kirby-inspired sets). Thor is forced to fight a gladiatorial death-match against the current champion, who turns out to be… the green brute Hulk (“He’s a friend from work”)—but we already knew that. Continue reading “Thor: Ragnarok — Some Loud Thunder”

Ranking All MCU Movies from Iron Man to Ragnarok

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With the release of Thor: Ragnarok, Marvel has now churned out seventeen movies. Yep, that’s right. Seventeen fuckin’ Marvel movies and almost all of them widely popular with both critics and fans, almost all of them hit big at the box office. But not all of them are great or good. There are few stinkers and there are a few gold. The list below starts with the stinkers with the movies listed in descending order.

 

hulk (3).pngThe Incredible Hulk (Louis Leterrier, 2008). Say what you want about Ang Lee’s Hulk, that’s still better than this movie. This louder rehash only improves on the special effects the action, which everyone soon forgets once Mark Ruffalo shows up in The Avengers.

 

iron2Iron Man 2 (Jon Favreau, 2010). Iron Man 2, or: How To Make A Bloated Sequel. Black Widow made her first appearance in this movie. That’s the most vivid detail I remember from this really really long talky Robert Downey Jr. movie.  That and Tony Stark literally pissing his pants.

 

capam (3)Captain America: The First Avenger (Joe Johnston, 2011). Joe Johnston brought his Rocketeer aesthetic into an alternate 1940s giving it a frozen in amber quality. It was good in that it looked different, if only it wasn’t so boring.

Continue reading “Ranking All MCU Movies from Iron Man to Ragnarok”