Sunday, March 17, 2019

30 Entertainment Candles! My special Birthday list

March 17th, 1989 a nerd was born. A nerd who became obsessed with movies, music, comics, and anything and all else that is entertaining. Thirty years later, I count my blessings each and every year. It's been a wonderful thirty years, all things considered. Finished grade school, high school and college. Found and married the girl of my dreams. Became a dad. Its wild to imagine all the things we've accomplished after thirty years of life. I also love that I have the freedom to create, design and execute a personal blog on movies, my most favorite vice. Instead of focusing on my quais-quarter life crisis regaring turning 30 years old (sarcasm) I love that I have this outlet where I can tell strangers and friends alike how art makes me feel. The cherry on top is that any of you have ever decided to read it, and for that, I give you all my thanks.

Some people don't find entertainment important. While yes, we could very well live without it, I do find that it plays an important part of our lives. The world has grown darker, sadder and more cynical and a good movie, a good show, a good book, a good album...these are among the things that keep me sane. So like everything, I believe entertainment does play its part.

I've turned 30 today, and when we blow out the candles on our birthday cakes, we make wishes. The list I have for you guys today are 30 entertainment-oriented things I am most thankful for, the things I am most excited about, and the things I WISH the most to NOT fail. This is not a list of my definitive favorite entertainment things, because that list changes all the time. New stuff on the horizon is announced everyday. Just at the moment these are the movie (few TV things) I am most thankful for.

1. Kevin Feige & the Marvel Cinematic Universe
This will probably end up being the biggest DUH on this list. Like I explained the other day when the second "Avengers: Endgame." trailer hit the internet, this is my favorite franchise I have had the pleasure to live through. I saw this franchise form at ground zero, I didn't have to track down existing movies from another decade. Its been so much fun watching this franchise take form, stretch, revealing other corners. I also have to give massive credit to Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige for being on-point with every single movie. Believing in his vision to its fullest. Many have tried to get their own cinematic universes up and running, and its pretty clear that nobody does it like Feige right now. There probably will come a point where this franchise begins to slow down, but I have to say how impressed that we are still enjoying this to its fullest ten years in. So yes, bring on "Endgame," bring on "Spider-Man: Far From Home," bring on "Eternals," and "Shang-Chi" and that "Black Widow" prequel. I also have no idea what else is in store for the future, and neither does anybody. I can't wait for the next wave of announcements!

2. Star Wars
Yes, "The Last Jedi" was polarizing. Yes, even I wrote a negative review on this website. Yes, I think the polarization of "The Last Jedi" affected the box office of "Solo: A Star Wars Story," which was a movie I did like. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't interested in this story and this universe. It has woven itself into our pop culture, for better or for worse. I was bit by the "Star Wars" bug early in life and it would take a lot for that goodwill to burn down. I am one of the weird fans who loves the prequels, and I love episode 7. I love most of the shows, and I still boot my old Playstation 2 to play my old Star Wars games. My interest isn't going anywhere anytime. So I am curious to see Episode 9. I am blown away we've been kept in the dark on trailers and even a title. December will be here before we know it. I am sure J.J. Abrams will bring his A-game. I look forward to the shows that will appear on Disney+. I will continue to be a Star Wars fan until they stop making stories set in that galaxy far, far away. I am a fan for life, and I am cool with that.

3. Eggers, Peele, Aster & the Horror Revolution
The horror genre is one of my favorite genres, and it seems like something is happening in the genre right now. Something I find incredibly exciting. You can trace this to 2014 with "Babadook" or possibly to 2016 with "The Witch." But I think its much more clear now. I really enjoyed "Split" and "Get Out" in 2017. That year also had a huge slew of great Stephen King adaptations. In 2018, I enjoyed "Hereditary," and when I finally caught up on "Susipiria" and "Overlord" it was pretty much love at first site. I recently read the script for "Midsommar," the next film by "Hereditary" director Ari Aster. We also are getting "Us" next week, which made a huge splash at the SXSW film festival in Austin, TX last week. There are also more Stephen King adaptations that are generating positive buzz. All of this gives me hope. The horror genre is in the hands of people who care about scaring the shit out of us, and I couldn't be happier. Jordan Peele. Robert Eggers. Ari Aster. These guys are the future. These guys aren't interested in found footage. They aren't interested in teenagers who can't act getting killed in gruesome ways. They care about putting all of our fears under a microscope and if that doesn't interest you or if that's not "cool" enough for you, they don't care. The future looks bright, and I can't wait for this new wave of nightmares.

4. Game of Thrones
Yeah, not a movie. But for all the creativity and quality that goes into this show, it might as well be a movie. It certainly feels like a movie that takes hours and hours to get to the end. Which is a-okay with me. HBO pretty much rules all television these days, but to me, this is their crowned jewel. This is their most prized possession. I've been obsessive about television before, but I don't think I've ever been so rabid about any type of show until now. Maybe it has to do with the show feeling so cinematic in scope. Who knows? I do know that I am curious as hell to see this conclusion. I'm sure all of my favorite characters will all be dead at the end, that's Game of Thrones fashion. But if the ending is worth it, I am okay with that.

5. Taika Waititi
The way to my heart is to make me laugh out loud. Right now, there isn't a director that is doing it better than this special New Zealander. A guy who seemingly came out of nowhere. You know this director, whether you realize it or not. In 2014, he made "What We Do In The Shadows," a silly little mockumentary about vampires that has so much fun making fun of horror tropes that I felt overwhelmed. Its the perfect type of spoof. Then in 2016, he made "The Hunt For The Wilderpeople," I don't think I could explain my love for this movie if I tried. Its so out-there, yet so confident in what it is that I love it. His most high-profile film was "Thor: Ragnarok." While the comedy was laid a little thick in that movie, its still a Marvel film unlike any other. This guy has a unique sense of humor, something that I think is rare these days. He's gearing up to make a televised version of "Time Bandits" and I can't wait. I hope he continues to make original concoctions though, and I hope he never gives up his original voice.

6. Netflix
Streaming services have begun to change up our mass media intake, and whether you use this service or not, its responsible for the ones you DO use. Netflix changed the game in lots of ways. It single-handedly destroyed home video rental stores, and now its helping tear down the foundation of cable packages. But the most fun has been them continue to churn out original content. Yes, I don't come close to keeping up with any of it, but I've enjoyed quite a bit of it. I can say that I don't think anybody anywhere is doing adult animation like Netflix. "BoJack Horsemen," "Big Mouth," "F is For Family," these are all amazing. There's others too. I can't wait to see how Netflix continues to change the game for media.

7. Amazon Prime
If Netflix is the popular kid at school, then Amazon Prime is his artsy-fartsy younger brother. There seems to be an arthouse feel to lots of their original content. If you don't dig their original content, then I hope you enjoy their wide array of movies, from all genres and types. I feel like their selection is a bit better than Netflix's selection. This might prove just how big of a movie nerd I am, but I love all the older movies you can find on this platform. That will be appreciated from everyone who doesn't need the big, the loud and the now.

8. Evan Glodell
If I could elect one person to be the face of independent cinema, I would give it to Evan Glodell. Weird, that he's only made one movie so far. That movie though, is "Bellflower," and as far as modern independent movies go, its definitely my favorite. Right now, he makes cool content on his page, something I would push all of you to follow. If you know a writer who uses it. He's got some more movies in him, and I am dying to see the end results.

9. International Cinema
As much as I like movies coming out and while I certainly praise the mainstream, I have admitted to living in a slow time for cinema. I have said before that I think we are living in the least creative time for movies. Nostalgia Overload has taken full force on our movies. You aren't seeing the same trend when you look around the world though, which is why foreign films are enriching me on a level that most American mainstream movies can't right now. Sure, you may not like reading subtitles, but you can get past that, there is a whole world of film out there and you won't believe the joy you'll get exploring that world.

10. Godzilla & his potential future
I know I made a big stink about how the Marvel Cinematic Universe is an anomaly to itself, but if there is one franchise that could give it a run for its money, it's what is happening with "Godzilla." While I love thought-provoking movies, or art that is emotional or important dramas, sometimes I just want to sit back and watch monsters. I t seems like we are starting to get monster movies with care, and the future looks bright for good, old gojira!

11. HBO in general
While "Game of Thrones" certainly stands out, I think one could pick any show out of HBO's library and find something worthwhile to watch. They have a lovely library of programming, and it all deserves to be seen.

12. Matt Reeves
So, if Evan Glodell is the face of independent cinema, then I think I can safely deduce that Matt Reeves is the face of modern mainstream blockbusters. If you watch "Cloverfield," "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," and "War of the Planet of the Apes," it seems effortless how Reeves can blend the special effects, big action set pieces with characters that count. Usually in those summer-oriented blockbusters, character and development come last. Not with Matt Reeves though, he creates memorable characters we really care about. If anybody should be directing "The Batman" in 2021, its him. I think his Batman movie will be unlike any other, in the greatest possible way.

13. Warner Brothers Animation
If I had made this list a decade ago, I would have talked my head off about how thrilled I was about Pixar and how they've changed the game of family animated movies. Now, I am not so sure. Like so many other studios, they've settled on the familiar. Pixar, along with Dreamworks and Sony Animation, just seem to make product. No matter how well packaged their content is, its all just product. Pixar used to be the shining beacon of creativity, and now they are fine making sequels. I hope someday they can get back on top again. While Warner Brothers makes product too, they make it with character first. Yes The LEGO movies are as over-the-top as movies can possibly get, but they have a heart and soul intact. Also, if DC really wanted to make a splash with their DC universe, they should have hired the team that makes their DC animated movies. Then they possibly would be kicking Marvel's ass right now.

14. A24 Studios
We are living in a time in Hollywood right now where the big studios are buying up little studios. Hell, the big studios are even taking chunks out of each other now too. Some small studios even go bankrupt. Its sad. So when I see a small studio, that isn't intimidated by the big guns, its bracing. Making movies that perform well at the box office is just icing on the cake, and if those movies are actually good to watch, all the better. They've put together a wide-range of titles, a thought-provoking, entertaining library of movies that deserve to be seen. This is what the Hollywood American Dream is all about, and I hope they continue to do their thing for many years to come. Maybe even become a major player in the business.

15. The Return to Pandora
You'd think after all the revenue James Cameron made with "Avatar" that we'd have at least one sequel by now. The truth is, we were supposed to. We should have had at least two sequels by now, maybe more. The thing is James Cameron keeps pushing these movies back to work on them, perfect them, tweak them. The thing is, you can work too hard, you sit on a project for too long. I question I have is, will anybody care once the "Avatar" sequels begin hitting theaters? I thought "Avatar" was a massive achievement, and I want to feel that power again. I just hope after all this time, Cameron has something of substance to say.

16. Bad Boys For Life
The triumphant return of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in their balls-to-the-wall police franchise. It ain't gonna be for the faint of heart. But man, I hope I can have three movies with these characters worth a darn!

17. Quentin Tarantino
A near-perfect storyteller, who has talent that seems to have not withered in any way since he began. Quentin Tarantino is my favorite filmmaker, my favorite cinematic storyteller. Bar none. I haven't hated a single movie of his, which is damn hard to do. He's thinking of retiring, to pursue other artistry and while I commend him for wanting to try other things this late in his career, I will miss his unique voice in cinema if he does retire. We don't have many unique voices in the business right now, and its cool that Tarantino has kept himself fresh for so many years. I hope "Once Upon A Time In Hollywood" this summer is another hit for him. Even though, I haven't seen a trailer, Tarantino's name is more than enough to get me excited.

18. Christopher Nolan
Yeah, I don't know if any of you think its uncool or no longer hip to appreciate Nolan's work. But for me, there is no other choice. Even when he makes mediocre films, they are neat and thought-provoking to look at. There aren't many that can dress mediocrity up and make it look nice, and its a miracle that Nolan's career has basically been bright. He's the only commercial filmmaker right now that doesn't seem interested in indulging in straight-up nostalgia and I love that he's got enough muscle to make the movies he wants to make. He's got some good ideas on the horizon, and I know I'll be buying tickets to ride.

19. Jeff Nichols
We live in a time where every piece of entertainment news is written about, devoured and digested before something even gets a chance to be released. So its nice to see somebody working in the shadows, and not allowing us to peak behind the curtain.

20. Wonder Woman 1984
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, who represents the best part of the DCEU. Yeah, this one's a given.

21. Viola Davis
Best actress in the business right now. Yeah, I said it.

22. Guillermo del Toro
Much like I tried to explain with my Godzilla piece above, I don't know if I can really explain my fascination with monsters. Thank god that somebody else in movies is fascinated by them too. I am also glad that he's decided to populate his movies with them. The horror genre is important because it allows us to confront death. It forces us to face our fears. There is nobody who has more fun with that than del Toro and I find him increasingly fascinating that he tried to understand the monsters. Nobody does it like del Toro.

23. Fox's continued animation domination
There seems to be a piece of me that never grew up, but there is also a piece that exaggerates how much it loves being an adult. It seems like those two different sides of me are at conflict with each other, and nothing gets those sides of me high like Fox and its Sunday line-up of animation domination. The greats have stayed close, "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy" don't seem to be going anywhere. It also seems like "Bob's Burgers" is here to stay for awhile. Fox has subbed other shows in and some have been taken out. But after a long week, there no better way to end a week than laughing my ass off to these shows. I hope Fox can continue to build a strong line-up and also to keep it weird.

24. Dune
Denis Villeneuve has the coolest of cool opportunity here, and it seems like he's busting ass to make sure it turns out well. It seems like no matter who tries to make a "Dune" film, it either doesn't get made or the end result doesn't make much sense. It makes sense, kind of. Frank Hubbert's book is dense, huge in scale. It doesn't translate to film very well. There is a great documentary about how Alejandro Jodorowsky tried to get his version on its feet, which ended up failing. Then there was David Lynch's version, which was too dense, so dense that theater goers were given glossary cards. How will Villenuve fair? I am curious to find out.

25. Joaquin Phoenix
I don't understand what sense a Joker origin movie makes, but I am curious to see it, simply for one man. That man is Joaquin Phoenix. He's probably my favorite actor working right now. Always making a memorable character without ever being typecast. It might have been weird that he pursued a career in gangster rap right as his career was getting interesting, but I think it lead to something even better, and we are all richer for it.

26. John Wick 3
Keanu Reeves as John Wick. Kicking ass. Mega-Duh

27. #chifilmfest
When I mentioned how I have loved international cinema, especially in today's Nostalgia Overload, there one thing in particular that I can thank for that. In 2017, when I had the chance to go to my first international film festival, it was an experience unlike any other. I've belonged to Chicago International Film for my third year now. Through them I am always discovering something new and amazing through their incredible output. It's a great way to mix up what I am seeing in a year. I hope I can go back to the festival this October, and have a whole new host of things to recommend to you all.

28. The 50%
I get a little sad that there is a portion of our population who think that diversity is somehow getting "forced upon us." Is diversity really such a terrible thing. Is it really so bad to have movies that are a clear representation of the country we are living in right now? Regina Hall makes a good point on the award's circuit, wanting 50% of the crew of all the things she produces to be 50% women. Maybe that does seem like force to some. But is it really a bad thing to make sure that every perspective is being heard? That everybody has a loud and clear voice? That everyone's story matters? The passing of ideas can only be a good thing, can only enrich future lives. So instead of getting grumpy over it, why not embrace it?

29. You!
Its a little crazy to me that this movie blog of mine has been up and running for seven years now. That would not be possible without you. If you've read this blog everyday. If this is your first time here. If you've only read one review. If you've only read half of a review. Let me please say thank you. Thanks for reading. Thanks for giving me a shot. Thanks for trusting my opinion. Thanks for including yourself in the rabble. I don't get paid a cent for this, this is all stuff I've produced in my free time. With a baby, that free time isn't nearly as free. Even when I had a full time job and a personal life, I know I broke promises and didn't always come through with ideas and projects for this site. Thanks for sticking with me even when I did stuff like that. I sincerely apologize for it. I try really hard everyday to make this a cool outlet for you all, and if you continue to read here, that means I'm getting somewhere. So again, thank you. Thank you so much.

30. The Unknown Future
Like I said above, this is not the definitive list of things I am excited and hope for right now. I am constantly learning new things. There are always new things to get excited about, things to look forward too. Every time I feel like I can relax about being excited about something, a new thing comes along. Just when I think I've had my fill of a franchise or the bar can't be raised any higher, somebody seems determined to try and raise it anyway. If people didn't make me feel this way, everyday, I wouldn't be a movie watcher. I would have stopped a long time ago. I don't know what's coming in 2021 or 2022 or 2023 or s on and so forth. But I do know that there are going to be things I won't be able to wait to see, things I will obsess over until they are released. That's the nature of being a movie geek, which is a badge I wear proudly.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed. Happy Saint Patrick's Day.

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