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The VegasGeek top 10 movies of 2013

fightclub

December is such a great time of year. You get the holidays, of course, but something else I always look forward to is the ‘best of the year’ posts. Best movies, best albums, best celebrity meltdown, sports team, goals, assists, saves… I could go on and on. I freakin’ love the top 10 lists.

I was kicking around the internet yesterday, as I sometimes do, and I found a page that listed every movie that was released in theaters this year. It even included the movies that are scheduled to be released before the end of the year. I found the page because I was at Best Buy over the weekend and noticed that the movie Jobs was out on DVD, which made me think, “wow, I didn’t ever realize it was released to theaters.” So I wanted to make a list of other movies I may have missed this year that I wanted to see. But as I scrolled the page, I ended up making two lists; Movies I saw in the theater, and Movies I want to see. So of course, I thought it would be fun to list out the movies I saw, in order, and give my two cents on each.

Before I get started, I need to tell you what I learned while doing this, because there were a few things. But the big thing… making a top 10 list is hard. Sure, I know the 1 or 2 that are on the top of the list. And, figuring out which two were at the bottom was pretty easy, too. But holy crap, the middle is difficult! Did I really enjoy We’re the Millers more than Kick-Ass 2? So, as you read my list, there are a stack of movies in the middle that could have been listed in a dozen different ways.

Anyway, let’s get started.

My Top 10

10. Gatsby
I haven’t read the book and haven’t seen the original, but I did enjoy this one.

9. Kick-Ass 2
-sigh- I was SO looking forward to this sequel. I liked it, but not nearly as much as the first.

8. Hunger Games – Catching Fire
I liked the first installment a lot. This one was good and really makes me want to see the 3rd. When the dome came crashing in, it had a bit of a Truman Show feel, which I liked.

7. We’re the Millers
Jason Sudeikis cracks me up. Jennifer Anniston is pretty damn hot. Good cast, silly fun movie.

6. Red 2
And the sequels keep on comin’! I liked Red 2 almost as much as the first. Almost. That’s saying a lot.

5. Monsters University
Has Pixar made a bad movie? Seriously, they seem to knock it out of the park every single time. If it says Pixar, I’m going to enjoy it. Period.

4. Despicable Me 2
When the first DM came out, the first trailer I saw for it looked terrible. It tainted my view of the movie. We finally went and saw it and I really enjoyed it (edit: my wife informed me that we did NOT like the first DM. Not sure why I don’t recall it that way.). I didn’t have to be talked in to going to see the second. It’s fun and funny.

3. Fight Club
Back in theaters for a couple days to celebrate the 20th anniversary. It is my favorite movie of all time, so it goes on the list. I felt bad letting it slip to #3.

2. Metallica – Through the Never
The story line was so-so, but holy shit, the 3D concert footage and the sound was absolutely amazing. If you get a chance, watch all the behind the scenes footage on youtube about how much work went in to building that stage. If there’s a better concert film, I haven’t seen it.

1. Star Trek – Into Darkness
I’ve never really been a Star Trek fan, but this and the previous movie have me rethinking that statement. Can we force J.J. Abrams to make 20 of these films? I’d see them all, in IMAX preferably.

The also-rans

The other movies I saw this year in theaters are:

11. This is The End (fun stoner movie.)
12. World War Z (I’m not a huge zombie movie fan. was very meh)
13. Jurassic Park 3D (I didn’t care for the 3D treatment)
14. R.I.P.D. (I’d rather just watch Men in Black 4 instead)
15. Oz – The great & Powerful (yawn)

Still need to see

As I said, this all started out as a list of movies I wanted to see that came out this year. In order of release date, here are the movies I’d like to see:

- warm bodies
- identity thief
- 42
- Hangover part 3
- Grown Ups 2
- Jobs
- Rush
- Captain Phillips
- Carrie
- Oldboy
- The Hobbit
- Saving Mr Banks
- Anchorman 2

Based on how crazy December is going to be for me, Anchorman 2 is the only one that’s going to happen in a theater. The rest are going to have to wait for Netflix.

OK, now it’s your turn. Leave a comment and tell me what you think of my top 10 list.

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Thanksgiving movie list fail

planestrains

Yesterday when I was thinking about my post for Thanksgiving, I thought it would be fun to do a list of my favorite Thanksgiving themed movies. I knew my #1 was going to be Planes, Trains and Automobiles, that was easy. But for the rest, I would just hit up the interwebs and see what other movies are turkey day related. I was picturing getting a nice long list of movies that I could pick through, find 10 that were my favorites and then do a little countdown.

Search: Best Thanksgiving Movies
Results: 592,000,000

Hey, that’s promising! Let’s click on a couple lists…

IMDB
This list is obviously crappy since it does not list Planes, Trains and Automobiles at #1. It’s not even #2 on the list. For shame, IMDB, for shame! Although, they did redeem themselves a little bit by listing Son in Law as #36. You’ll see why that’s important in just a minute. As I read the rest of the list I realized I haven’t seen hardly any of these movies.

Let’s try another list, shall we?

BuzzFeed
OK, this list starts at 10 and works it’s way down. #10 Son in Law. I may as well stop reading right now, I just know it. But, the list is only 10 items long, I’ll trudge on. Well, of the 10 they list, I’ve only seen 3. Scent of a Woman, Son in Law and Planes, Trains & Automobiles. At least they put the right movie in the #1 slot. But this list didn’t even include A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (which was #14 on IMDB). Ugh, this is hard.

OK, one more list.

AMC TV
#1, Planes, Trains and Automobiles. The rest, nothing I’ve seen. Crap.

So apparently, there is an amazing lack of quality Thanksgiving movies out there. Or, I’m just a shut-in and haven’t seen very many movies. But, I set out to do a top 10 list, so here we go!

  1. Planes, Trains and Automobiles
  2. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
  3. N/A
  4. N/A
  5. N/A
  6. N/A
  7. N/A
  8. N/A
  9. N/A
  10. N/A

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!

Disclaimer: I do like the movie Scent of a Woman, but can’t for the life of me remember how it relates to Thanksgiving, so I can’t put it on the list. Don’t like it, make your own list. :)

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A date with The Goonies

Celebrating 25 Years of The Goonies

In order to maintain your geek cred, there are a number of movies that are required viewing. The list is really long and won’t even begin to list them all here. One movie that most geeks will agree is on the list would be The Goonies. I am a tad bit embarrassed to say that I have never seen it. I feel shame.

I am not sure how I missed seeing it when it came out. But after that, it somehow had always slipped through the cracks. Last year when we had our 24 hours of movies marathon, Todd was going to bring it over, but got sick and missed the marathon. We scheduled another movie marathon earlier this year, but it got cancelled and has yet to be rescheduled. So, it’s not for a lack of trying, it just hasn’t happened. But that is about to change.

Thursday morning I received an email from Netflix letting me know that they had received the last movie I had sent back. About an hour later I received another email informing me that The Goonies is on the way. Since I had a flight to Chicago scheduled for Friday afternoon, I knew I wouldn’t be seeing the movie until I returned on Sunday evening. But then, something funny happened. Ryan sent the following tweet:

Celebrating 25 Years of The Goonies

So, it seems that my destiny was to see The Goonies for the first time on the 25th anniversary of its release. I have been looking forward to seeing it for a long time, but one more day won’t kill me.

See ya tomorrow, Goonies.

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24 Hour Movie Marathon

A few months back I was checking out a site called iwearyourshirt.com and after clicking a few links found that Jason from IWYS and his buddies had done a 24 hour movie marathon. The idea sounded cool, so I called up some buddies to see if they’d be interested. Sure enough, I know a bunch of movie fanatics. The plans were made and today’s the day!

The idea is this: invite a bunch of friends over, each person brings a movie to share, draw movie names out of a hat to determine the order, sit back and watch a ton of movies with your friends. Since our group is just 8 people, we’ve asked each person to bring 2 movies.

The following is a time log of our adventures!

11:30 am – The TV is set up, food in the crock pot, snacks on the table… we are ready to go!
12:00 pm – Movie #1: Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (Paxton)
12:10 pm – DVD player fail. New DVD player set up, restart Ace Ventura
1:55 pm – Movie #2: Fight Club (John)
4:25 pm – Movie #3: Bubba Ho-Tep (Rob)
6:00 pm – Movie #4: Big Fish (John)
- 15 minute break to go grab some food.
8:30 pm – Movie #5: The Simpsons Movie (Blake)
10:00 pm – Movie #6: The Princess Bride (Chris)
11:45 pm – Movie #7: Castaway (Myya)
2:10 am – Movie #8: Grandma’s Boy (Chris)
3:45 am – Movie #9: Clay Pigeons (Marcia)
5:35 am – Movie #10: The Sixth Sense (Myya)
7:30 am – Movie #11: Super Troopers (Myya)
9:10 am – Movie #12: Man From Earth (Rob)
10:40 am – Movie #13: The Matrix (Adam)

End time: 12:50 pm for a total of 25 hours of movies.

Nobody was able to hold out the entire time without catching a little bit of sleep. Rob held out the longest and napped a bit during The Matrix.

We had an awesome group of people and though everybody is pretty tired right now, we all agreed that we’d do it again. Just not next weekend.


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Goodbye John Hughes

john-hughes

I was 15 when The Breakfast Club came out. I remember going to see it at the Del Amo mall with my grandma. About half way through the movie she fell asleep. Not me. I was riveted. I connected with these characters. They all seemed like people I was going to school with myself. I felt their pain, I knew their struggles. For the first time I could remember, it felt like this movie was speaking directly to me. Over 20 years later and I still consider it one of my favorite all-time movies.

I was sad to heard that John Hughes, the writer of so many classic movies from the ’80s had died of a heart attack. He was a man who is responsible for some so many classic movies. I’ll bet you’d have a difficult time finding somebody who doesn’t love at least one of his movies. Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Mr. Mom, Vacation, Home Alone, Weird Science, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and, of course Planes, Trains & Automobiles. And that’s only part of his list.

I found an excellent article written by a lady who, as a young girl, became pen pals with John Hughes. It was very touching and shows how not everybody in Hollywood is a jaded, money grubbing prick. Just most of ‘em. ;)

So next time you are sitting down to throw a movie in the DVD player, reach for a John Hughes classic and tip your hat to the man who has given us so many great films and even greater characters.

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Rocky Horror Revisited

Many years ago my wife and I used to perform in the Rocky Horror Picture Show when we were MUCH younger. On rare occasions when we are in Los Angeles over a weekend and we have Saturday night free, we stop in to the Nuart to see if any of our old pals are still around. We typically show up early to hang out with people in the parking lot before the show, go in to the theater and stay long enough to see the pre-show and then leave within 5 minutes of the movie starting. That’s pretty much been our only involvement with Rocky in the past 10 years or so.

Recently I learned that Todd had NEVER seen the Rocky Horror Picture Show. This came as a HUGE shock to me since Todd is a hard core geek. Well, when I found out that the Onyx Theater here in Vegas was going to be showing Rocky ON Halloween, which conveniently fell on a Friday night this year, well, there was nothing I could do. We were basically FORCED to drag him out to the show.

We put out an invite to a group of friends and found out that two other people we know, Kim & Rob, have also never seen the show. Ahh, this was gonna be fun!

The show was set to start at 8. We all met for drinks around 6 and showed up to the theater around 7:40. The theater is nestled in the back corner of a fetish clothing store called The Rack. We made our way in, got frisked by security (I made a second stop at the cute female security guard so she could pat me down a second time) and went in to find seats. The theater is really small and at first glance it looked to be PERFECT for showing Rocky. There was a nice sized stage area and the screen was low so the actors would be partly in front of the screen. Then, the show started…

The pre-show was decent. Our friends all took part in the Virgin Sacrifice. A healthy dose of embarrassing photos and a video later, they were back in their seats and the movie began. This is when the wheels started to come off the bus.

First, I gotta say that the cast, Divine Decadence, was pretty decent. They had good costumes and decent props. They did a few things differently than I’ve seen at other Rocky shows, so that part was pretty cool.

Now for the list of complaints.
- The Stage. I thought it was going to be cool that the stage was so close to the screen. However, given the size of the screen (it’s small), the actors took up 2/3s of the screen area.
- The lighting. This sorta ties in to the location of the stage/screen. When the cast members are on stage and the lighting crew is shining flashlights on them, it washes out the screen to the point of almost not being able to see it at all.
- The audience participation callbacks. The idea behind a callback is to say a line during the time the actors on screen are not talking. Then, the actor says something that goes along with what you said and hilarity ensues. Unfortunately, the people doing the call backs have horrible timing and would end up saying their line OVER the actor’s response. So, it was not only not funny, it was hard to make out the joke they were trying to make.
- The AMOUNT of audience participation. Rocky is 30+ years old. People have been watching the movie and coming up with new lines for that whole time. Over time you can come up with 2 or 3 (or 10) different jokes for the same callback. That doesn’t mean you need to try and yell them all. There was SO much yelling going on, hardly any of it in unison, so it was again, almost impossible to catch the jokes.

As a long time Rocky goer, it was difficult for me to follow along with most of the callbacks and sight gags. For my 3 virgin friends, it was nearly impossible.

We did all manage to have a good time. And yet, I’m not sure I’ll be rushing out to see Rocky again any time soon.

Here are some photos from our night at Rocky

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Movie Review: Saw V

sucked.

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Choke on THIS!

Tonight we got the opportunity to go and see a sneak preview of the new movie Choke. It’s based on the book by Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club and half a dozen other great books. I have been waiting for nearly 2 full years for this movie to come out. I’m quite pleased to say that it did not disappoint. Sam Rockwell was perfectly cast as Victor Mancini, the sexaholic who goes to sexaholic anonymous meetings in order to get laid. Anjelica Huston plays his mom and does a fine job as well.

Since this was a preview showing, there was a rep from Fox/Searchlight in attendance. Before the show he let people know that they would shoot you on sight if you tried to take a picture of the screen during the movie. More importantly, he let everybody know that he’d be waiting around after to hear what everybody thought of the movie. Oh, this is gonna be good.

So we watched the movie and there are several big laughs in it. There’s also a fair amount of gratuitous sex. Victor has sex pretty much anywhere he can. Though, he has trouble getting it up when trying to screw a girl he actually likes in church. I don’t mean he likes her in church, I mean he’s trying to screw her IN CHURCH. “What would Jesus NOT do”, indeed.

When the movie was out I stood around with the group of us that all went and we were talking about the film. We were also listening to the conversations of the other moviegoers around us. It was an older crowed that showed up for the free screening, so I wasn’t all that surprised to hear all the negative comments. However, there was one that really stuck out.

As I was walking over to tell the Fox/Searchlight rep how much I liked the film, I passed by a women who was crying. I paused long enough to listen to what she had to say to her friend. “My aunt died of Alzheimer’s and for them to be making fun of it in that way is repulsive.” So let me get this straight, you didn’t have a problem with all the sex, you didn’t have a problem with all the foul language, you didn’t have a problem with the anal beads… No, you had a problem with the fact that Anjelica Huston’s character had Alzheimer’s? Wow, perhaps next time you may want to check out the trailer for the movie that you are getting free tickets to before you go. Chances are, if you see the name Chuck Palahniuk attached to the movie in some way, you are likely going to be offended.

Go out and see this movie. Just leave the uptight friends at home.

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Kevin Smith makes a porno, and everybody laughed

I’ve known for a while that people either love or hate Kevin Smith movies (Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jersey Girl, and of course Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back). With the exception of Jersey Girl, which I haven’t seen, I fall in to the LOVE category. I think Clerks is hilarious, Dogma is smart, daring and funny, Chasing Amy is a classic and J&SB Strike Back is ridiculous and hilarious all at the same time. But, if you don’t like his previous movies, you are probably going to want to stay away from his new project, Zack and Miri Make a Porno.

The premise is simple: Long time friends need money so they decide to make a porno, hilarity ensues. Cut, Print it.

I have been reading for months that they had been having trouble getting the MPAA to give it an “R” rating rather than an “NC-17″ rating, which would kill box office sales. Then, early in August Kevin Smith went before the ratings board and appealed their ruling after they had made several cuts to the original movie. This appeal worked and the movie was finally granted an R rating.

And now, finally, after waiting several months, here is the VERY MUCH NSFW red band teaser trailer for Zack and Miri Make a Porno.

So now I have 2 movies that I can not wait to see in October. Chuck Palahniuk’s Choke comes out on the 3rd and Zack and Miri hit the screen near Halloween. I’m down for seeing both on opening day. Hit me up and we’ll make some plans.

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Summer Entertainment

Yikes, it’s been a while since I’ve written. It’s summer time and I seem to be taking full advantage. That’s not to say that I’m spending a bunch of time in the sun. Actually, I’ve done a mighty fine job of keeping myself OUT of the sun. Having had skin cancer a couple times has definitely made me more aware of the time I spend outdoors.

Since it’s been almost a month since I’ve written, so much has gone on. I’m not even sure where to begin.

Last I wrote we had just finished our cruise to Alaska. We had an amazing time. I was going to write a follow-up blog post about our trip, but just never really got around to it. Now, I’m not so sure that post will ever get written. Ahh well, I’ll have to save it for returning from our next cruise.

4 days after returning home, my Mom and my Son hopped on a plane and headed to California. This will likely be my Son’s last summer without a job as he will graduate high school next year [I just threw up in my mouth a little bit] so I hope he has a great time. Since being there he’s been to Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios, the water park, the beach and he’s spent a bunch of time with his cousins. That sounds like a pretty great trip if you ask me.

A couple weeks after we got back, my wife and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary. My mother-in-law hung out with our daughter and the wife and I went out for a nice dinner. For the life of me, I can not remember where in the hell we went for dinner. Man, I’m getting old.

That same week I took my wife and daughter to see Stomp Out Loud at Planet Hollywood. We got seats in the 5th row but off to the side. These are NOT the best seats. We would have much preferred to sit in the middle even if it meant sitting farther back. We were cut off from too much of the action. Regardless, we all still enjoyed the show.

This summer was also the first time we put our daughter on an airplane by herself. She can’t handle being away from mom and dad for as long as our son can, so we let him visit grandma for a couple weeks before sending her out. Then, we ship her out there and a couple weeks later we go pick them all up. We’ve done it a few years in a row now and it’s always worked out for the best. So far, this year is no exception.

Just this past weekend we celebrated my birthday. I managed to turn it in to a 2 day extravaganza. On Saturday night we played a couple poker tournaments at the house, then went to a casino to watch an ’80s hair metal band play until 3 am, then went to breakfast and made it to bed around 5 am. Woke up around 10 am, saw the movie “Hancock” in the afternoon and then spent the evening with a group of friends having dinner and drinks at the Yard House and the Blue Martini. The Yard House may be one of my new favorite places. Great food, 160+ beers on tap and it was pretty reasonably priced for as much as we consumed. The Blue Martini, on the other hand, I have to say that I’m not a fan. It seems a bit too high-brow for my taste. But, the live blues band sounded great.

Speaking of movies, I’ve seen a few so far this summer. Here’s a quick rundown:

Wall-E – I liked it pretty well. Cute story, amazing animation (it’s Pixar, so what do you expect) and I liked the message they were trying to convey (take care of yourself and your Earth or both are going to end up in really bad shape).
Wanted – Loved it! I enjoyed the story (as unrealistic as it was) and it had some pretty cool fight/chase scenes. I’m pretty easy to please with this type of movie, but still, this one was pretty darn good.
Hancock – Liked it. This really felt like two movies stuck together. The first half is pretty funny and has a pretty good pace. The second half is a little darker and felt pretty rushed. I think they could have added another 20-30 minutes to the movie, fleshed out the story a little better and it would have been a GREAT movie. Still, definitely worth seeing.
The Illusionist – Yeah, I know it’s old. I really liked it. Edward Norton is one of my favorite actors and I thought he did great with the roll. I also really liked Paul Giamatti in his roll.

I’m very much looking forward to seeing Hellboy 2 this weekend and The Dark Knight the following weekend. Everything I’ve heard so far about both movies says they are going to both be awesome.

And finally, my new hobby. Photography. I’ve been carrying my camera with me everywhere I go lately. I am really enjoying the learning processes. I’ve been reading dozens of blogs from other photographers and have been checking out thousands of photos on flickr. A few weeks back I had some friends over and we spent an entire evening setting up shots and just working through different lighting scenarios. I think a big part of my enjoyment with this new hobby is the fact that I’ve got a few friends who are in to it as well. They really help to ratchet up the level of fun and definitely help to keep me motivated to improve. Hell, I have to just to keep up with them.

You can follow the link to check out my photostream on flickr.

I promise to make an effort not to take so long between posts. I know how you miss me when I do. :)