Daily Archives: January 30, 2016

2015 Media Wrap-up

Yes, kids, it’s that time again (actually it’s nearly a month past that time, but I’ve been busy) when I share with you my obsessive tendency for record-keeping by recounting all the films, recorded TV content, books, and live performances I’ve experienced in the past year.

As usual, an asterisk [*] before the title indicates something I’ve seen or read before. And also as usual, we’ll start with…

Movies Seen in a Theater

  1. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
  2. *The Wizard of Oz [Cinemark Classic Series]
  3. All About Eve [Cinemark Classic Series]
  4. How the West Was Won [Cinemark Classic Series]
  5. Funny Girl [Cinemark Classic Series]
  6. Breakfast at Tiffany’s [Cinemark Classic Series]
  7. *Giant [Cinemark Classic Series]
  8. Jupiter Ascending
  9. Evil Angel [special engagement]
  10. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  11. Mad Max Fury Road
  12. *Goldfinger [Cinemark Classic Series]
  13. Jurassic World
  14. *John Carpenter’s The Thing [Summer Late Nights at the Tower]
  15. *Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home [Summer Late Nights at the Tower]
  16. The Martian
  17. Highway to Dhampus [special engagement]
  18. Spectre
  19. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  20. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2

 

My theater-going was way down this year, from 35 titles seen in a public venue in 2014 to a mere 20 this year, and most of what I did see was older classics. Partly that was just a matter of scheduling; Anne and I had a lot going on in 2015 that made it difficult to get to a theater very often, and we chose to prioritize the classics because who knows when you might get another chance to see, for example, The Thing on the big screen? But there was also the problem of very few new releases appealing to either of us. This has been a growing issue for me for several years, and one that causes me genuine distress because movies and going to the movies have been such a central part of my identity for such a very long time. I used to struggle to keep up with all the new releases; now I have a hard time finding new releases that even look interesting to me. And even when I do manage to find something I want to see, it not much fun for me because my tastes seem to have become thoroughly disconnected from the current zeitgeist. I mean, sure, I always had some disagreements with the crowd (my old theater buds will remember our infamous Darkman argument), but these days, I find myself consistently enjoying stuff that everyone says is crap (Jupiter Ascending, Jurassic World, even, surprisingly to me, Age of Ultron), and I’m frankly baffled by the hoopla over films that just don’t do much for me (Fury Road and, much as it pains me to say this, The Force Awakens). It’s like that Joe Walsh song: everything’s so different, but I haven’t changed. And yes, that bothers me. More than it ought to probably… but it does bother me. Feeling like I’m constantly on the defensive has sapped a lot of the joy out of my primary hobby, and that makes me feel, frankly, like I’ve come unmoored from something important.

But I’m running off on a tangent. Briefly, my favorite new release of 2015 was The Martian, hands down. Most forgettable films were The Hobbit and Spectre, both of which I remember enjoying at the time but are now just hazy impressions in my memory. Evil Angel and Highway to Dhampus — small films made by friends of mine — were both great and deserve a DVD release. Of the classics I hadn’t previously seen, All About Eve was a real revelation, one of those flicks I’ve heard so much about over the years but  somehow never gotten around to. Turns out, it was funny, sexy, weirdly modern in feel, and simply magnificent to see in a theater. Highly recommended if you’ve never seen it, especially if you have a chance to see it on the big screen. And of course The Thing and Star Trek IV are old friends that were good to re-visit.

Movies Seen on Home Video

Bolded items are titles I own on either DVD or BluRay, or in a few cases, VHS tape, and again, an asterisk means I’ve seen it before…

  1. Fat Man and Little Boy
  2. The Station Agent
  3. Scanners
  4. *1941
  5. Zodiac
  6. Dredd
  7. The Last Days on Mars
  8. Solomon Kane
  9. *E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
  10. *Despicable Me
  11. *The Black Hole
  12. The Bad News Bears (1976)
  13. Despicable Me 2
  14. *St. Elmo’s Fire [VHS]
  15. *Tootsie
  16. Le Mans
  17. *Space Battleship Yamato
  18. Mystic Pizza
  19. Dr. Strange (2007 animated film)
  20. Kon-Tiki (2012 dramatization, not the documentary)
  21. *The Avengers
  22. Beginnings
  23. Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Comin’
  24. *All the Right Movies
  25. Jodorowsky’s Dune
  26. Singles
  27. Adventureland
  28. *Harold and Maude
  29. Urban Cowboy
  30. *Mad Max
  31. *The Road Warrior
  32. *Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
  33. The Color Purple
  34. The Paper Chase
  35. *Highlander
  36. World War Z
  37. Magic Mike
  38. Nightbreed: The Director’s Cut
  39. John Carpenter’s The Ward
  40. The Omen
  41. *The Fog (1980)
  42. Tales of Terror
  43. *Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
  44. Russell Mulcahy’s Tale of the Mummy
  45. Roadracers
  46. Radio Bikini
  47. Mr. Holmes
  48. Lincoln
  49. The Watcher in the Woods
  50. *It Happened One Night
  51. Something Wicked This Way Comes
  52. *Star Wars Despecialized
  53. *Return of the Jedi Despecialized
  54. The Lincoln Lawyer
  55. *Bad(der) Santa
  56. *Planes, Trains and Automobiles
  57. *Westworld
  58. Big House USA
  59. *Alien: The Director’s Cut

 

I saw 64 feature films on home video in 2014, so my viewing in this category was down slightly as well. I struck a pretty good balance between the new and the familiar, I thought. Of the titles I hadn’t seen before, I particularly enjoyed The Station Agent, Mystic Pizza, Adventureland, Mr. Holmes, Lincoln, The Lincoln Lawyer, and, unexpectedly given its reputation as a ladies-only kind of flick, Magic Mike. Jodorowsky’s Dune was a fascinating glimpse at what might have been, and Radio Bikini and the Hendrix doc were both enlightening. A number of films I’ve wanted to see for years turned out to be disappointing: Scanners, Singles, The Paper Chase, and The Omen weren’t nearly as great as I expected them to be. The Watcher in the Woods and Something Wicked This Way Comes were interesting misfires that I know I saw as a child, but didn’t really remember. I still didn’t care for Nightbreed, 20-some years after the first time I saw it, although I think I “got it” a lot more this time (seeing Clive Barker’s director’s cut might have helped with that). And one very pleasant surprise was John Carpenter’s The Ward. It’s not up to the standards of Carpenter’s early work, but I thought it was a tight and spooky little thriller that I didn’t figure out until the end.

 

TV Content Seen on Home Video

  1. China Beach Season 2
  2. WKRP in Cincinnati Season 2
  3. WKRP in Cincinnati Season 3
  4. WKRP in Cincinnati Season 4
  5. Babylon 5: The Legend of the Rangers (TV movie)
  6. Babylon 5: The Lost Tales (TV movie)
  7. Outlander Season 1
  8. Marvel’s Daredevil Season 1
  9. First Light (BBC TV movie)
  10. Space: 1999 (complete series, i.e., two seasons)
  11. The Wonder Years Season 1
  12. Michael Wood’s Story of England (complete series)
  13. Jim Jeffries: Bare (stand-up comedy performance)
  14. Craig Ferguson: I’m Here to Help (stand-up comedy performance)
  15. A History of Scotland (complete series)
  16. Last Days in Vietnam (American Experience documentary)
  17. A Very Murray Christmas (holiday special made for Netflix)
  18. The Seven Dwarfs of Auschwitz (documentary)
Books Completed (Fiction)
  1. To Kill a Mockingbird — Harper Lee
  2. A Separate Peace — John Knowles
  3. The Outsiders — S.E. Hinton
  4. Outlander — Diana Gabaldon
  5. Dragonfly in Amber — Diana Gabaldon
  6. Voyager — Diana Gabaldon
  7. Highlander, Vol. One: The Coldest War (graphic novel) — Brandon Jerwa and Michael Avon Oeming (writers), Lee Moder and Kevin Sharpe (artists)
  8. Star Trek: Harlan Ellison’s “The City on the Edge of Forever”: The Original Teleplay (graphic novel) — adaptation by Scott and David Tipton (writers), J.K. Woodward (artist)
  9. The Martian — Andy Weir
  10. Drums of Autumn — Diana Gabaldon
  11. Space: 1999 — Aftershock and Awe (graphic novel) — Andrew E.C. Gaska (writer), Gray Morrow, Miki, David Hueso (artists)

 

Another slight decline this year, a mere 11 titles instead of last year’s 13. (Actually, a decline in reading overall, since I only read one non-fiction title this year, down from three last year.) However, I don’t feel so bad when I consider the size of those Gabaldon novels, each of which is in the neighborhood of 1,000 pages or so. Given that the only time I really get for recreational reading these days is a half-hour train ride to and from work five days a week, I don’t think that’s too bad.

One book-related thing that happened in 2015: I opened a Goodreads account and started writing some reviews to help me better recall what I’ve read, instead of letting it all subside into a mushy haze of half-remembered impressions. Click the hyperlinks to see my reviews.

Books Completed (Non-Fiction)

  1. No Tourists Allowed: Seeking Inner Peace and Sobriety in War-Torn Sudan — Shannon Egan

Concerts and Live Theater Events

  1. Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band [Energy Solutions Arena, 3/13/15]
  2. Allison Krauss & Union Station and Willie Nelson [USANA Amphitheater, 6/20/15]
  3. Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band and Van Halen [USANA Amphitheater, 7/18/15]
  4. Chris Isaak [Sandy Amphitheater, 8/26/15]

And finally, the concerts. It was really an excellent year for me in that regard, as I finally got to check off not just one but three wishlist artists I honestly thought I’d never get an opportunity to see: Bob Seger, Willie Nelson, and Van Halen (with David Lee Roth). And to my great pleasure, they were all good shows, especially Seger’s. Willie Nelson played for a good 90 minutes without a break, impressive for a man who’d just turned 82 a couple months earlier. And Van Halen… what can I say? Maybe not the best-sounding show, but good lord, what a fun night!

Chris Isaak, meanwhile, is becoming something of a tradition for Anne and I and our friends, Geoff and Anastasia. He’s one of the most entertaining live artists I’ve ever seen, and consistently turns in a good show. We’ve seen him twice now; looking forward the the next one.

***

And there we are for another misspent year…

spacer