Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Civilian 2020 Wrap-Up and Year-End Stats!


Well, hello again!

(dramatic pause)

What a year. Where to even begin to try and summarize the goings-on of the last 365 days? I’m fond of saying that every year is different in its own way, but this one seemed to go the extra mile to distinguish itself. Amidst all the turmoil and confusion and isolation, I leaned heavily on the moving pictures to provide some sense of normalcy, and even though this did not mark my highest annual tally, it was up there for sure.

However, the fright flicks just did not capture my imagination as they had in years past. Instead I found myself gravitating toward brainless action flicks and brainy documentaries. I know the sociology students out there will have a field day with this bit of intel, claiming that the real-life COVID horrors outside my door were just too much to enjoy the made-up scares. Sorry, kids, as much as I would love to serve as your case study, the fact of the matter is that my passions were simply being pulled in a different direction, fascinated instead by Bronson’s taciturn charms, the mushmouthed flying feet of JCVD, Sly’s breakneck career highs and lows, the pleasing and pummeling indulgences of QT, that intangible but unmistakable Coen quirk, and the negected genius of Karel Zeman.

It was clearly time to follow a different beat, and so I did, spending less time looking to the horizons ahead and digging instead in the bones of the past. I regret nothing, but I understand if the results might be less satisfying for those looking for the latest and greatest.

With that bit of preamble, and having already given the fright flicks their moment in the moonlight, it’s now time to give the Civilian flicks their moment in the sun. As always, all titles listed were encountered for the first time from January 1 to December 31, 2020 (i.e. no repeat viewings were eligible), with top picks denoted with an asterisk. (*) 

There is also the annual multitude of minutiae that I love to ponder, ranging from sequels to performers to directors to soundalike titles. Hopefully you’ll find something here to giggle over as well.

Let the madness begin!

Monday, January 11, 2021

Dr. AC's 2020 Horror Wrap-Up Extravaganza!

"We made it... oh for crying out loud, 2020, don't you ever stop?"

Greetings, my fellow fiends!

In any given year, it’s not unusual to be a little stunned that we’ve finally reached the end, but 2020 was a Year Like No Other, so it’s quite something to be reflecting back on such a memorable (for reasons both joyous and ill) 12 months. More than ever, each fright flick encountered was an escape from the terrors of the real world and I’ve never been more thankful to have a ready supply of distraction.

Due to the given circumstances, I can’t say I was pushing as hard to keep current with the masses; like many, I was just doing my best to get through each day with my sanity intact. Therefore I advise approaching the following list with a gentle manner and an open mind.

As in the past, the titles listed below were encountered by your humble scribe for the first time during the past year and, to acknowledge as many as possible, I've broken them down into various categories in alphabetical order, with my top picks denoted with an asterisk. (*)

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Fool's View (12/21 – 12/31) (Part 2 of 2)

"Yeah, baby, that's the finish line!! Punch it!!!"

And we’re back!

I devoted the final week of 2020 wrapping up the triple projects of Charles Bronson, Quentin Tarantino, and Joel and Ethan Coen, a decidedly eclectic bunch of titles within their own lane and as a whole.

I had only previously dabbled in Bronson’s work, having seen his ensemble efforts (Dirty Dozen, Magnificent Seven, Great Escape) and the occasional starring role, usually out of interest in the director (Hard Times, Once Upon a Time in the West) or pop culture significance (Death Wish). But a viewing of Mr. Majestyk earlier this year piqued my interest and I concluded that an actor who regularly cranked out a movie (and often two) every year, usually with his name above the title, probably deserved a little of my attention. Besides, I find myself fascinated these days by movie stars who had thriving careers despite critics endlessly declaring that they can’t act.

Having seen Once Upon a Time in Hollywood in January for awards season, it seemed like a fine time to revisit QT’s career in reverse order, since the femalien had not yet seen them all and I hadn’t seen them in a while. It’s been an interesting, rewarding, and occasionally confounding journey.

The Brothers C. Project was born of a comfort food triple-feature at the beginning of pandemic and just kept going. 18 flicks later, I’m happy to report that they haven’t lost their touch nor their way. While they share a predilection for homage with their younger cinematic comrade, it never feels quite as shamelessly derivative or “look at me” clever, which I appreciate.

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.


Thursday, January 7, 2021

Fool's View (12/21 – 12/31) (Part 1 of 2)

Howdy, folks!

Well, here we are, a week into the New Year and I’m still wrapping up the Old. I’d chalk it up to the holiday hustle bustle except that there was precious little of that. Instead, it was mostly camping out at home, eating snacks, and watching a truckload of flickers in service of wrapping up the year’s various odds and ends. While most of the titles listed below had some sort of connection to movies I’d watched earlier in the year, whether it be a director’s work (Hill, Tsukamoto, Hughes, Zeman, Zhao) or a star (Jean-Claude, Arnold), there were also the random recs (His House), screeners (Beasts Clawing at Straws), or Kryptic Army missions (Starfish) to be tended to. We didn’t get to them all, but we sure gave it the ol’ college try.

(The final tallies on 2020’s Bronson, Tarantino, and Coen Bros. Projects will appear in the second half of this write-up, so stay tuned!)

I hope this finds you and yours safe and healthy, and that your New Year is off to a fine start. While the evening news may seem dark much of the time, there is light if we choose to seek it. Glad you’re here with me, friends. Here’s to brighter days.

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.