Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I recently saw Contagion and before the movie started, I noticed a guy in the row in front of me was wearing a medical mask. I don't know if he was sick, scared of germs, or maybe just getting into the mood and dressing up like people do for Star Wars or Harry Potter movies. After watching Contagion, I would have to describe it with the following words: gripping, frightening, disturbing, depressing, and thought provoking. This movie is about a new strain of virus that originates in China and spreads around the world causing a global outbreak.

This movie made me think about the far reaching affects of bio terrorism or some new disease if it were to were to spread around the world. With world travel as common as it is today, the world has become a smaller place and a pandemic could be a very likely scenario. The horrible disease featured in this movie did not scare me nearly as much as the social break down which was caused by rampant death and fear. Riots, looting, and life as we know it stopping was the scariest aspect of this movie for me.

I felt the ending was somewhat abrupt. I both like and dislike this movie because it left you asking many questions. I still am not sure what the message was or if it was some form of propaganda. I think people can read several messages into it, but the important thing is that Contagion got me thinking.

I was really shocked when I learned how many negative reviews there were for this movie. I have to disagree with all the picky and unhappy critics. I haven't been so caught up in a movie for a long time. I give Contagion 7.9 stars.

Friday, November 25, 2011

4th Year Anniversary Annual Summary

I just realized that I passed the anniversary of this blog last month and didn't even realize it. In keeping with tradition, I will summarize the movies I have seen over the last year as part of The Movie Guy's 4th year anniversary.

The Dark Knight  Rises 9.0
The Avengers 8.4
The Artist 8.2
Skyfall 8.0
Contagion 7.9
Mission Impossible 7.9
Moneyball 7.8
The Amazing Spider Man 7.7
Chronicle 7.7
The Hunger Games 7.7
Pulling John 7.6
Sherlock Holmes 2 7.5
Men in Black 3  7.2
The Bourne Legacy 7.2
Snow White and The Huntsman 7.1
In Time 7.1
Premium Rush 7.0
Tower Heist 7.0
Taken 2 6.9
Man on A Ledge 6.8
Real Steel 6.6
Lockout 6.5
John Carter 6.4
Unicorn City 6.3
Total Recall 6.2
The Double 6.2
Battleship 6.1
Atlas Shrugged 6.0
Transformers Dark of the Moon 6.0
The Three Stooges 5.8
Columbiana 5.6

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tower Heist

Tower Heist is about a group of employees who work at a luxury high rise apartment building. One of their tenants who is a big shot Wall Street investor, ends up being arrested for fraud. He swindled his clients as well as the employees of the high rise since he was investing their pension fund. When it appears that he will end up going free and they will lose their retirement, several of the employees attempt to find a way to steal the money back from him.

Tower Heist is like a funnier version of Oceans Eleven. It's hard to bee too critical of this type of movie. I have seen better comedies and I've seen better heist movies, but it was still pretty good.

I liked Ben Stiller in this movie. He seemed more relatable and likable than he has been in other roles. I thought Alan Alda stole the show as the bad guy investment guru who had swindled them out of their money. Eddie Murphy plays a small town street crook who the group enlists to help them pull off the heist. It's nice to see him in a movie that isn't down right horrible for a change.

There's a lot of dirty language and crude humor in Tower Heist, which didn't really make it any funnier. Overall, I felt it was pretty entertaining and it had it's funny parts. It also has a nice soundtrack which doesn't hurt. I give Tower Heist 7.0 stars

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Favorite Directors

I'd like to acknowledge some of my favorite directors who have consistently impressed me with their work. Making a list is a dangerous activity since some people get so upset if they disagree with you. I know there are some big names missing from my list, but I just want to name some of the directors who's work I have enjoyed over the years.

1. Stanley Kubrick- He was an amazing director but what really impresses me about him is that and was so successful directing such a wide variety of genres. Horror, science fiction, comedy, war movies, epic dramas, etc.

2. Alfred Hitchcock- Still the master of suspense. He made a lot of good stuff. I love his style and the fact that he has influenced so many other directors. There have been many copy cats, but there is still only one "Hitch".

3. Clint Eastwood- This actor turned director has really impressed me with his movie making skills. He has " gone ahead and made my day" with his work in the director's chair.

4. Christopher Nolan- I love his intense and serious style. I appreciate the cerebral, complicated nature of his movies. His movies make you think and that is rare these days.

5. Steven Spielberg- He is bigger than life. I especially like his earlier work. It seems he is attached to everything these days in one way or another.

6. David Lean- A master of many epic movies. He did with real masses of people, what can only be done with CGI today. I love his work.

7. Ridley Scott- He has produced some great action packed movies. I like his style.

8. Roman Polanski- I've really enjoyed his recent work, but I'm not a fan of his personal problems.

9. Werner Herzog- This guy is probably one of the most dedicated and extreme directors I can think of. I have a feeling I'd hate to be working on set or acting for him, but he makes some good movies.

10. James Cameron- Has put out plenty of big blockbuster hits and action movies.

11. Frank Capra- A master from the old school days of black and white feel good movies and dramas.

12. Joel and Ethan Coen- These brothers have made many movies featuring their trademark quirky characters. Their unique style has been applied to comedies and more serious movies.

13. Mel Gibson- He doesn't have as much experience in the director's chair as the others, but I have really enjoyed the movies he has directed. Mel has lost a ton of fans over the years, but I still think he has great director skills.

14. Ron Howard- Not all of his movies have been hits, but I still like his style and he has made enough good ones for me to add him to my list.

15. Tony Scott- His movies may not be academy award winning material, but I sure like many of the movies he has directed.

Honorable Mention: Wolfgang Peterson, Woody Allen, and M. Night Shyamalan- Even though M. Night has put out so much crap recently, I still like his style.

I know there are names like Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Tim Burton, Oliver Stone, Spike Lee, and many others who people will say are better directors than some of my choices. That may be true, be but what can I say? If you don't like my list, go make your own.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pulling John

Pulling John is a documentary about the world of professional arm wrestling. It features John Brzenk who is to arm wrestling what Michael Jordan is to basketball and Wayne Gretzsky is to hockey. I knew next to nothing about the sport and have never cared much about it, but I still found this documentary to be very entertaining. Arm Wrestling is obviously a sport of strength, but technique also plays a huge role since there are certainly bigger and stronger athletes who get owned by the some of the smaller pros.

Pulling John reviews the career of John Brzenk who has dominated the sport for over 20 years. As he gets older he struggles to decide if he should retire while he is still at the top of his game or continue to participate in tournaments.

This documentary shows the rise of two other dominant arm wrestlers: Alexy Voevoda from Russia and Travis Bagent from USA and shows how their goal is to be able to beat the respected champion and take over his title as the greatest arm wrestler in the world.

It was very entertaining to see the different personalities of these athletes. John is quiet and humble, Voevoda is intense and contemplative, and Bagent is brash and cocky. It's hard not to like any of the athletes in this movie. There is a lot of pride on the line to see who is the strongest athlete. My wife kept rolling her eyes and saying " Guys are so different from women" throughout the entire movie. I could tell she still liked it though.

This documentary kind of reminded me of The King of Kong as it introduces you to the competitive nature of those participating in a sport you didn't even know existed. I also found it quite informative and educational. I give pulling John 7.6 stars. It was a low budget documentary about an obscure sport, but I thought it was pretty cool and I really enjoyed it.

Friday, November 4, 2011

In Time

I'm a sucker for any sort of futuristic movie about societies that are oppressed by "the man", who's citizens have to fight back against the system or escape imprisonment, so I have been looking forward to seeing In Time since I saw the trailer several months ago.

This movie is about a world where people barter with their time as opposed to money. Everyone has a digital clock on their arm that shows them how much time they have left before they die. They can earn, spend, or trade their time with each other. Most of the poor only have 24 hours on their clocks and frantically live day to day in order to survive. As someone who lives paycheck to paycheck and sometimes just tries to make it through another day financially, I could relate to their plight.

Justin Timberlake plays Will Salas who is given a century of additional life by a mysterious stranger. He then sets out on a mission against the corrupt powers that have kept him and the masses down for years. Along the way he encounters a rich girl who he kidnaps and they essentially become Bonnie and Clyde as they try to take the system down.

In time has some elements of Logan's Run and Gattaca. It was interesting to see so many young actors in this movie portraying people of all ages since the aging process stops at 25. I thought for being a science fiction movie, they would have better technology, but the cars were old models and people didn't even have cell phones. 

The movie contrasts the poor in the ghettos who's clocks often run down to minutes versus the super wealthy who have thousands of years to live. There are some not so subtle political statements about class indifference in this movie. I didn't care for the insinuations that the wealthy are the reason why the poor suffer in real life, but I tried not to let any political messages ruin it for me.

I thought Justin Timberlake was good in this role except for the one scene when he tried introducing himself like James Bond. Cillian Murphy was great as the persistent time keeper (cop) who tries to track Salas down. He reminded me of Javert from Les Miserables because he is so relentless and obsessed with getting his man.

I give In Time 7.1 stars. It has it's problems, but I felt it was much better than the critics said it was. I thought the concept of exchanging time with money was enough to make the movie entertaining and thought provoking, despite it's weaknesses. Also, If I were Justin Timberlake I would have petitioned to re-name the movie "Just-In Time".
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