Monday, September 29, 2014

Third Quarter of 2014

We're 75% done with 2014 and it's time for my quarter end review. (And it's also a good time to refresh your memory on the films of the first quarter of 2014 and films of the second quarter of 2014)

Long time followers of my blog surely have noticed I skipped going to see a lot of the wide releases in theaters in the third quarter and have virtually stopped writing reviews altogether.  Perhaps this is the beginning of the end of Flieder on Film, or perhaps it's just a much needed break after four years of doing this.  It's been a lot of work and for not much gain.  But I certainly haven't stopped watching films.  I'm just watching what I want when and where I want.  And truthfully there weren't many wide releases I was interested in this quarter, and based on mass critical and audience consensus, it doesn't sound like I was missing much. 

Below is a summary of my grades for the 96 films I saw released in the third quarter of 2014. Some of these (including #4,#5, and #6) are available right now on Video on Demand, so be sure to check out my What to See on VOD post for some lazy days of quality movie watching at home.
It certainly appears to have been a good quarter, with over half the films getting a B+ or above, but one should take note that, more than any quarter in the past, I have selectively not watched the movies I expected to be bad.  In other words, I have acted rationally and actually avoided having a bad evening which I used to do for FOX regularly for free.  Go figure!

Well of the mainstream, big budget, action-oriented wide releases I went to see, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Lucy, and The Maze Runner did not disappoint.  Though Snowpiercer is better than all of them, and went straight to video on demand alongside its modest theatrical release.  See it!

In the comedy category, audiences didn't really respond to Woody Allen's Magic in the Moonlight but I thought it was charming and enjoyable, thanks to Emma Stone and Colin Firth.  And if you loved The Trip and still want more road trip/food tasting/witty banter, The Trip to Italy is fun, though not quite AS fun as the first.  And if you want a wacky comedy with an all-star loveable cast, They Came Together is the one for you.  The latter two are both available on video on demand. 

The Hundred-Foot Journey really surprised me by how much I loved it.   It's terrific and the second Disney distributed Indian fish-out-of-water film of the year to surprise me by how great it was (with Million Dollar Arm being the first.)

The Drop is a crime drama featuring James Gandolfini's last performance, and he's as amazing as always, as is Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace.  It's a really great movie.

Hector and the Search for Happiness is this year's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and while not quite as good, I still found it inspiring, charming, and fresh.

Considering Big Chill-esque films come out by the droves, I really enjoyed About Alex, now available on Video on Demand.

If you love a good talkie play (and I do) then The Man on Her Mind is probably up your alley.

For docs, Life Itself got all the buzz, but Rich Hill is my favorite of the quarter and 112 Weddings comes in second.  To Be Takei and Dinosaur 13 are good too.  All on VOD.

Honestly, The One I Love and Coherence are two of the best films of the year, both best experienced without knowing anything about them, and both available on Video on Demand.  The former is a romantic dramedy unlike any you've seen before with some of the best performances I've seen all year and plenty of surprising turns.  It seems like it might take some dark turns, but it's really not a dark film.  The latter is a darker, low budget science based sci-fi that will blow your freakin' minds.  Love these two!  And if you're feeling adventurous and want to see a very ambitious and completely original film with a great performance by Robin Wright, also VOD The Congress.

And last, but the opposite of least, Boyhood stole all the attention from art house fans and awards afficionados.  And rightfully so.  It's tremendous, in part because it was filmed over a period of 12 years, and in part because it's just a damn good coming of age film.  I should think it will be heavily talked about and nominated come awards season, so see it now at your local art house theater if you want to be in the know.  And my other favorite film of the quarter is I Origins.  This may be personal taste, but I love a great science-based thinking person's sci-fi film.  This is that in spades.  It will make you think and make you feel, if you open your minds and allow it to.  Plus, the performances are amazing.  Though it's best experienced knowing absolutely nothing about it.  So don't even read a brief synopsis!  I'm serious!  Just see it when it comes to VOD, DVD, or Blu-Ray on a date TBD.
  1. Boyhood        Grade: A+
  2. I Origins       Grade: A+
  3. Snowpiercer      Grade: A+
  4. The One I Love      Grade: A
  5. Coherence      Grade: A
  6. The Drop      Grade: A
  7. The Giver      Grade: A
  8. The Hundred-Foot Journey       Grade: A
  9. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes      Grade: A
  10. Calvary       Grade: A
  11. Magic in the Moonlight      Grade: A-
  12. Lucy      Grade: A-
  13. The Congress      Grade: A-
  14. About Alex       Grade: A-
  15. Rich Hill      Grade: A-
  16. The Maze Runner      Grade: A-
  17. War Story       Grade: A-
  18. The Trip to Italy       Grade: A-
  19. They Came Together      Grade: A-
  20. Hector and the Search for Happiness        Grade: A-
  21. The Man on Her Mind      Grade: A-
  22. My Old Lady      Grade: A-
  23. Night Moves       Grade: A-
  24. Deliver Us From Evil      Grade: B+
  25. As Above So Below       Grade: B+
  26. The Zero Theorem      Grade: B+
  27. The Skeleton Twins        Grade: B+
  28. Third Person      Grade: B+
  29. The Calling      Grade: B+
  30. The Two Faces of January      Grade: B+
  31. Frontera      Grade: B+
  32. Life of Crime        Grade: B+
  33. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby      Grade: B+
  34. This is Where I Leave You        Grade: B+
  35. The Purge: Anarchy        Grade: B+
  36. Tusk        Grade: B+
  37. 112 Weddings      Grade: B+
  38. Life's A Breeze      Grade: B+
  39. A Most Wanted Man        Grade: B+
  40. Honeymoon        Grade: B+
  41. Begin Again        Grade: B+
  42. Life Itself        Grade: B+
  43. To Be Takei      Grade: B+
  44. Life After Beth        Grade: B+
  45. Dinosaur 13        Grade: B+
  46. The Longest Week      Grade: B+
  47. Very Good Girls       Grade: B+
  48. What If      Grade: B+
  49. Let's Be Cops      Grade: B+
  50. Frank        Grade: B
  51. At the Devil's Door       Grade: B+
  52. Bird People      Grade: B 
  53. The Equalizer      Grade: B
  54. Guardians of the Galaxy      Grade: B
  55. Sex Tape       Grade: B
  56. Land Ho!        Grade: B
  57. Good People        Grade: B
  58. A Walk Among the Tombstones     Grade: B
  59. A Brony Tale        Grade: B
  60. Reclaim      Grade: B
  61. The Nance        Grade: B
  62. White Bird in a Blizzard     Grade: B
  63. Love Punch        Grade: B
  64. Video Games: The Movie        Grade: B
  65. Ragnarok       Grade: B
  66. Starred Up      Grade: B
  67. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For     Grade: B
  68. Are You Here      Grade: B-
  69. The Prince      Grade: B-
  70. Wish I Was Here     Grade: B-
  71. November Man     Grade: B-
  72. Jamie Marks is Dead      Grade: B-
  73. Moebius      Grade: C+
  74. Wetlands      Grade: C+
  75. Another Me      Grade: C+
  76. The Damned      Grade: C+
  77. 20,000 Days on Earth      Grade: C+
  78. Battered Bastards of Baseball      Grade: C+
  79. Code Black      Grade: C+
  80. Get on Up        Grade: C+
  81. Mood Indigo      Grade: C
  82. And So It Goes      Grade: C
  83. Love is Strange      Grade: C-
  84. The Case Against 8      Grade: C-
  85. Happy Christmas      Grade: C-
  86. Monty Python Live      Grade: C-
  87. Space Station 76      Grade: C-
  88. God Help the Girl      Grade: D+
  89. Among Ravens      Grade: D+
  90. Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory      Grade: D
  91. Mission Blue      Grade: D
  92. Louder Than Words      Grade: D
  93. Days and Nights      Grade: D
  94. Radio Free Albemuth      Grade: D
  95. Earth to Echo      Grade: D
  96. Wastelander Panda      Grade: D

Films Not Reviewed:
The Admiral: Roaring Currents
America: Imagine The World Without Her
An American in Hollywood
Atlas Shrugged: Who is John Galt?
The Boxtrolls
Cabin Fever: Patient Zero
The Conformist
James Cameron's Deepsea Challenge
Dolphin Tale 2
The Expendables 3
Finding Fela
A Five Star Life
The Fluffy Movie
The Green Prince
The Identical
If I Stay
Into the Storm
Jimi: All Is By My Side
Kelly & Cal
Last Days in Vietnam
The Last of Robin Hood
A Letter to Momo
My Man is a Loser
No Good Deed
The Notebook
Planes: Fire & Rescue
The Song
Step Up All In
A Summer's Tale
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
When the Game Stands Tall
Yves Saint Laurent

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