Thoughts on new movies and other film musings

March 2015 Update!

Oh, you guys thought I forgot about this old thing, didn’t you? You probably assumed I fell off the face of the Earth when I didn’t post my top 10 movies of  last year (or when I didn’t even live tweet the Oscars). Nope, I’m still alive, and the truth is I didn’t forget about A.Movie.Journey. My energy has just been focused elsewhere. While this blog will be here for life/career updates in the future, I’m moving my film-viewing journey/reviews to this awesome new place my friend Mwita introduced me to. It’s called Letterboxd.

When I started A.Movie.Journey, I wanted to use it as a way to keep track of the movies that I saw, and Letterboxd does just that. You can keep a film diary, write reviews, create lists (oh those sweet sweet lists), and the coolest thing is that you can follow other people to see what they’ve been watching. So if you want to check out my top 10 movies of last year, or see what movies I’ve seen recently, go follow me here. It’s very cool. Letterboxd, I’ll be waiting for your check in the mail…

As far as life updates:

For those who used to check out my reviews from time to time, I definitely still enjoy writing, and I’ll still have this blog for longer, thought-out critical analysis (when the urge hits, of course). Letterboxd is great for quick takes, though. I look forward to interacting with everyone at my new home, and as Pete Holmes always says, keep it crispy!

A.Movie.Journey’s 2014 Oscar Picks

That time is upon us once again! I’ll be live tweeting the Oscars this weekend, but to tide you over until then, I’d like to share with you my picks for this year’s Academy Awards. This isn’t a list of who I think will win, though; this is who I’ll be rooting for all night. Follow me @JourneyAustin during the telecast, and if you want to livetweet, too, use #AMovieJourney. 

Just a note: If you read my “Best of” post, you saw that I was still behind in some of my film-watching. I’ll have you know that after seeing Her, I think I’d have to put that at the top of my favorite films from 2013. I dig the future/A.I. stuff, sure, but it’s a really great story that examines what exactly “relationships” are, and it was just beautiful.

So, without further ado…

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2014 Oscar Noms Reaction

If you want to check out a full list of nominees, you can do so here. Also, if you didn’t get to see it yesterday, I just posted my top films of the year.

Some Thoughts:

  • It’s award season, so if you’ve been paying attention at all, most of the nominations were pretty expected. Predictable isn’t a bad thing, because at least there is a consensus of what the best work is, but it would have been nice to see a few more surprises in the main categories.
  • I’m glad to see Gravity get so much recognition. It’s probably what I’ll be rooting for for Best Picture. And pretty much every other category it’s nominated in.
  • Even Iron Man 3 got a nomination! I’m glad to see at least a couple of my favorite films were called out. Though against Gravity in VFX, I don’t think it has a shot.
  • Though I think the odds are stacked against it, I think The Wolf of Wall Street is quite deserving in the Actor categories. Leo was hilarious and Jonah Hill has been turning in a lot of good work recently. They make that movie.
  • Some of the more surprising films to get some nomination love: The Lone Ranger, Prisoners, and The Great Gatsby (which I loved–great music and style…can I say that Leonardo DiCaprio has had a good year?). Oh yeah, and Jackass: Bad Grandpa pulled a nomination for Makeup. Hm… Ok, that was at least unexpected.
  • Finally, I was a little disappointed Don Jon didn’t get any recognition at all, not even in editing. It is very deserving, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Once I see a few more of the nominated films, I’ll report back with my awards picks right before the Oscars. Remember to follow me on twitter when I live tweet the show. It was a lot of fun last year, especially as the night went on and I had a few more drinks. I don’t know if I’ll be able to top the TWO Gossip Girl references that made it into last year’s live-tweeting, but you’ll just have to see.

The Best of 2013

Since Oscar nominations are coming out tomorrow, I figured it was time to dig up the old blog and share my favorite movies of last year. Feel free to look back at my 2011 and 2012 lists. Here we go!

1. Spring Breakers

2. Don Jon

3. Stoker

4. Gravity

5. Iron Man 3

Lot of great films this year. Spring Breakers might be one of the most underrated, dismissed movies of 2013, but I loved it. I referred to it as a”disturbing satire… a mix of Scarface, Sugar & Spice, Call of Duty, and Girls Gone Wild.” Stoker was the other art-house flick. Moody and atmospheric (with an amazing soundtrack), it was beautifully shot and had some of the best editing of the year, almost as good as Don Jon. This was JGL’s directorial debut and it was ridiculously fun. The editing makes the humor in the movie, which is a pseudo-romantic-comedy about sex addiction and finding love, and you’ve got to see it. Gravity and Iron Man 3  round out my “Best-of List.” Considering the box office returns for both movies, I’m sure you’ve seen them, and so you know why they’re on here.

Honorable Mentions
About Time
Dark Skies
Saving Mr. Banks
The Wolf of Wall Street
World War Z

Movies Still Unseen
When I put up my top movies last year, I had yet to see Django Unchained. If I had, it probably would have made the list. Here are a few I’m really excited about but haven’t been able to see yet:

American Hustle
You’re Next

I’ll be posting an Oscar Nominations Reaction tomorrow, and be sure to follow @JourneyAustin and @BrookeMatson when we live tweet the Oscars come March! Until then, I leave you with this, a song from one of the best film scenes of the year:

Projectors in ‘Oblivion’

Usually when you see behind-the-scenes footage of big movies today, you see actors against a lot of blue and green screen. It’s neat that all of these different programs can make up such realistic environments, but some of that “movie magic” is lost when you know it’s all created inside a computer. Not so with Oblivion, however–at least not all of it. One of the most beautiful locations in the film is the tower in the middle of the clouds, and as it happens, it wasn’t created with green screen, but with real-life fancy projectors. You know, how old movies used to do it. Check out the feature below, and read more about it with the film’s DP Claudio Miranda (the same guy who shot Life of Pi).

This Month in Movies: April 2013

I was finally able to see some new movies this year, all within the last couple of weeks. Here are some quick thoughts:


The film suffers from two things: an overly-long running time and a reliance on generic sci-fi tropes. Oblivion chooses to focus too much of its time on uninteresting world-building (drones guarding hydro-energy converters, blah blah blah) and incidental secondary characters (sorry Morgan Freeman’s friends), making parts of the movie feel really bogged down. It also wastes time shoehorning in typical science-fiction action sequences that do nothing for the movie. What Oblivion does right is most clearly evident in the film’s production design. Not only is this future world and all of its technology believable, but it’s also gorgeous.  Just look at the above screencap. What I was really taken with was Oblivion’s comments on the power/importance of love in the human experience and how essential that is to understanding ideas of the mind and soul. It highlights this in a pseudo love-triangle throughout the film, and it’s something I wish  had been explored more. If you can get past the film’s length and its tendencies to make sure it fits squarely into the science fiction genre (and if you can get past Tom Cruise roaming the Earth alone with his bobble-head friend named…Bob), there are some really great ideas packed in here, set against an even great visual backdrop.

Be sure to keep an ear out for the very 80’s influenced music score.

 Spring Breakers

If the idea of James Franco (as drug dealer/rapper “Alien”) singing Britney Spears while masked, gun-wielding beach beauties dance around him doesn’t sound amazing, this movie might not be for you. I don’t blame you, because I don’t think this movie is for a lot of people. In fact, the screening I attended had movie-goers walk out during this exact scene. Spring Breakers is a slow burn, almost excruciatingly slow–that’s because it’s more art house than mainstream–and as soon as the film finally finds footing as a humorous parody of today’s youth culture, it quickly pulls the rug out from under the audience and reveals itself as a much more disturbing satire of the power and influence of media on the current and upcoming generations. Without ruining anything, the film is a mix of Scarface, Sugar & Spice, late 90’s MTV culture, cocaine, Call of Duty, and Girls Gone Wild, all of that if it were seen through the lens of a demented, modern-day Gidget.  As funny as the film starts off, it’s almost hard to watch the second half, not because it’s bad, but because it feels so raw and real, and worst of all, accurate. Casting two of the biggest, most recent Mouse House products, Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens, makes the film feel even more spot-on (and disturbing). These girls are playing characters that might not be too off from real-life versions of their own fans, and the fact they constantly celebrate Britney Spears, another Disney product, now fallen from grace, isn’t only ironic, but it’s a perfect jab at how tweens interact with and are influenced by today’s media culture.

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A.Movie.Journey’s 2013 Oscar Picks

I hope you’re all as excited about the Oscars as I am! Only 2 more days! I’ve been lucky enough recently to catch up on some of the Oscar films I had missed in 2012, and more so than in the past few award seasons, I think this year’s winners are anyone’s guess. There are many strong, individual films that all stand out on their own–Beasts of the Southern Wild is so new and striking with an incredible star at its center; Life of Pi is one of the most visually stunning films I’ve ever seen; and Lincoln is made with such meticulous care that the man behind the historical figure truly comes to life. These are to just name a few.  Since I’m so excited about this year’s Oscars–technology willing–I am going to attempt to live tweet the telecast. Follow me @JourneyAustin and if you want to hit me up during the Oscars, use #AMovieJourney.

Below you will find out who I’m rooting for this year at the Academy Awards. You’ll see that I really liked Django Unchained, Silver Linings, and Beasts this year, but I’m also rooting for Skyfall and Life of Pi in a few of the less-glamorous categories. Let me know who you’re picking!

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Now on Twitter! And a new website!

If you want to keep up with all my thoughts on movies (and anything else), follow me on Twitter: @JourneyAustin. I will still be updating this blog, of course–make sure to check out my Best Picture article coming out in a few weeks–but Twitter will allow me to share even more film musings.

ALSO, be sure to check out my new website: www.austinjourney.com. It’s still under construction, but I’m using it right now as a digital portfolio.

Happy MLK/Inauguration Day everyone!

The Best of 2012

Though it’s been busy for me the last few months, and I’m behind on multiple reviews, I couldn’t leave you all without this year’s “best of” list. Unfortunately, I can’t comment on Django Unchained, Life of Pi, and Argo,  but they all look amazing and I am looking forward to seeing them. Hit me up in the comments to tell me your  favorite movies of the year.

1. Looper

2. The Dark Knight Rises

3. Moonrise Kingdom

4. Skyfall

5. Pitch Perfect

Honorable Mentions
Lincoln, Les Miserables, Chronicle

Most Underrated Movie of the Year
John Carter

I’ll see you all after the first of the year, especially when Oscar season ramps up. For 2013, expect more movie-related posts as opposed to solely movie reviews, and hopefully I’ll be able to write on a more consistent basis. See you soon!

Happy Halloween!!

First, I want to wish everyone a happy Halloween  and I hope you all are planning to go out dressed up as your favorite movie characters tonight.  I wanted to go as Wreck-it-Ralph this year, but do you know how hard it is to find red overalls for someone 6’5″?

Before I get into my double feature review for Frankenweenie and ParaNorman, I want to direct your attention to a couple of things:

If you haven’t already heard, yesterday brought the biggest film news of the decade thus far: Disney just purchased Lucasfilm. The biggest implication of this is that the House of Mouse now owns the Star Wars franchise,  and they are planning a new trilogy to launch in 2015… Finally, the Star Wars sequels audiences actually wanted.

The other thing I wanted to talk about is the 2011 film Dream House starring Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz. This movie is proof of the power of marketing and the influence of the Rotten Tomato-meter. As far as marketing, the trailers sold this as a psychological horror film and basically gives most of the plot away. But here’s the thing: the movie is NOT a horror movie. AT ALL. And the plot you get from the trailer completely runs its course at about the film’s midpoint. It has some elements of a thriller, but it’s much more an uplifting mystery/drama/fairy tale. Most people were expecting horror, so it was horribly reviewed by critics and owns a 6% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. DON’T LISTEN TO IT. The movie is far from perfect, but I’m going to take a stand right here and defend it. I loved Dream House and it is ridiculously underrated and misunderstood. With a very unique structure/mode of storytelling, with great actors, and with a big slap in the face to movies like Shutter Island, Dream House is awesome and I highly recommend it to all my readers.

Now, enter this haunted house for some spooky reviews… Read the rest of this entry »