Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 books, movies, and change

So, another year is finishing up, and that means it's time for me to copy & paste the lists of media (well, books and movies, at least) I've been maintaining throughout the past 365 days. And it's time to see how much spare change I've picked up along the way, too.
As always with the books, after my thoughts/review, I'll type up the final sentence, which will be in parentheses and will be spoiler tagged, except for the final word. (And if the last sentence of the book was only one word, that will be tagged.)
This is gonna be a long entry, so may as well get started...

Books read in 2017:
  1. All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai - started off really really good. Funny, whimsical, melancholy, sci-fi fun. It was about time travel, and how in Tom’s timeline, the Jetsons basically became reality after 1965. Teleporting, robot maids, peace on earth, no pollution, all the shiny future type things that they imagined it would be, all of those exist in Tom’s 2016. Tom’s dad is a brilliant scientist, and creates a time machine. Tom goes back in time, to 1965, but ends up changing the timeline *just barely*, and it results in OUR current situation. Tom winds up in our 2016, and there are different versions of his parents, as well as sister he didn’t have in the other time line, and everyone thinks of him as John. It’s a little bit complicated, but it makes a bit of sense in-novel. Tom/John has to choose between this new dystopian society and the old utopian one that he was used to (not to mention the fact that his tinkering with the timeline ‘uncreated’ millions of lives.) Chapters 91 and 92 were pretty amazing, and in my mind I was going to give it a 5 star rating on goodreads at that point. …And then chapter 93 happened, and I very nearly didn’t finish the book. There was a VERY drastic turn at this point, and while it was semi-explained/cleared up…it really did sour the book for me. And then reading other reviews that pointed out some of the negative aspects… yeah. Pity, really, because it had a lot of great potential, and I enjoyed a lot of the book, but, well having your main character commit sexual assault/rape is gonna make things a bit less pleasant, ya know? (All along it was you.)
  2. Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan – Steph recommended I read this, and I’m so glad she did. All about a secret society dedicated to reading ancient books trying to find hidden messages. Great characters, and just a fun read all around. (A clerk and a ladder and warm golden light, and then: the right book exactly, at exactly the right time.)
  3. Paper Girls vol. 1  by Robert K. Vaughn – Graphic novel by one of my favorite graphic novel writers. This is about four twelve year old girls in 1988 going about their paper routes on the night after Halloween. And then all sorts of weird shit happens – time travel, pterodactyl invasions, mass abductions. Volume 1 has a LOT going on, and it’s a bit early to tell if it’ll all pay off, but I’m intrigued enough, and Vaughn has built up enough of a good reputation with me, that I’ll continue on with the series for a bit. (My name is Erin Tieng.)
  4. Paper Girls vol. 2 by Robert K. Vauhgn – even better than volume 1. The characters are growing, the plot is still crazy as all get out, but starting to make more sense and future seeds were planted, and there was a lot more humor. I’m not sure exactly how long it can be sustained, but as long as it isn’t dragged out for too long, I’m on board. (We’re alive.)
  5. Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong – Took a little while to get into, and most of the characters weren’t developed enough for me to care about, but this was still overall pretty fun. (Mission accomplished.)
  6. Saga vol. 7 by Robert K. Vaughn –  I think….I might be falling out of love with Saga. The depressing ending didn’t impact me the way it was intended. I had predicted a bad ending for that particular storyline, and was correct in my prediction, although I was wrong in the timeframe. It happened a lot sooner than I thought it would. But, I just didn’t care. And the other storylines/characters have largely lost their appeal, too. Maybe there’s just too much time between volumes. Perhaps if I read them all together… Anyway, I’ll stick with the series for a little while longer. Could just be a slump. (One moment, the universe presents you with this amazing opportunity for new possibilities… … and then…)
  7. Bedbugs by Ben H Winters – short creepy little novel about a family that moves into a new apartment in New York, which might just have a supernatural bedbug infestation. Quick read, and pretty enjoyable. (Every morning, when she woke, she lay in bed for a long time, until she felt ready to check her pillowcase.)
  8. Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar – this novella was good, but it was MUCH too short. There was definitely more there to be unpacked. I felt like things were teased that didn’t have payoff. (The black button; Farris’ hat; selling the coins) – And what is up with RF being… not malicious? Sure, he was creepy, but his overall plan was to… test a young girl? That’s not in character with how King has had this character act previously. Like I said, I greatly enjoyed the two hours or so that it took to read this, I just wanted there to be MORE to it. (Then she laughs and puts it in her pocket.)
  9. Morning Glories vol 1: For a Better Future by Nick Spencer – Graphic novel series that basically poses the question – what if Hogwarts existed, but were EVIL. (well, sort of. It’s basically a private school with a lot of hints of supernatural weirdness going on. And murder. And time travel, maybe?) This being the first volume, it was just a lot of setup. Will it payoff? I dunno, but so far I’m intrigued enough to find out. (Call me Jade.)
  10. Morning Glories vol 2: All Will Be Free by Nick Spencer – This was a  better volume – each issue delved into the pasts of the 6 main students, and made you care about them (and their mysteries) more. The series overall has a very Lost feel to it, which makes me somewhat leery, since that didn’t pan out as well as it should have, but we’ll see. Like I said, so far, I’m game. (What if I told you I could bring them back?)
  11. Nailbiter vol 1: There Will Be Blood by Joshua Williamson – another graphic novel series. This one is about the town of Buckaroo, Oregon that has been the birthplace of 16 serial killers over the past 40 years. Why are so many people born here growing up to become murderers? The sheriff (Crane) and an NSA agent (Finch) [what’s with the bird names?] must work together to figure that out, all the while dealing with the townspeople, as well as a possible new killer among them. Some of the twists were predictable, and sometimes the pacing is weird, but very interesting start. (If I were a serial killer, who would I kill next?)
  12. Nailbiter vol 2: Bloody Hands by Joshua Williamson – the pacing is still off, and we’re getting far more questions thrown at us than answers, but I still like Finch and Crane’s characters enough to stick with the series. I almost wish this was a tv show or a novel, though. Sometimes things (especially in this  collection) would be really intriguing, and they’d drop it when I wished they’d delve deeper. (A midnight snack has always helped me sleep.)
  13. Morning Glories vol 3: P.E. by Nick Spencer – A little  bit of a letdown after volume 2 – it’s feeling like they’re throwing more and more stuff at the wall to see what sticks. It’s still entertaining/intriguing, but I’m feeling like tying it ALL together to make sense is becoming increasingly unlikely. The bigger your ball of wax, the harder it is to make it all tie together. (Hello, Hunter -- looks like I finally caught up to you.)
  14. Morning Glories vol 4: Truants by Nick Spencer – Okay, things are a little bit clearer, but …not really much? There’s a vague sense of where the overall story may be going – but I expect that it probably won’t turn out that way. Anyway. Whole bunch of new characters thrown at us this go around, and one of the original six may be dead-dead. (Hard to know if characters actually stay dead in series such as this.) And a sort of retcon with Ike’s character took place here – still a pompous ass, but with maybe a heart of gold. Or aluminum, maybe. Anyway. Decent volume, we’ll see what happens. (Not you.)
  15. The Walking Dead vol 27 The Whisperer War by Robert Kirkman – tra la la. Too many subplots, too many characters to keep track of, and difficult to care about all of them. Plots I’m curious about still: the radio conversation, Negan (somewhat),  Rick’s “old man” comment, Carl and his relationship with Alpha’s daughter. Plots I could care less about: everything else. (Our war is over… let the dead finish what we have started.)
  16. Chew vol 12 Sour Grapes by John Layman – So, Chew is over. And…the ending was a letdown. I think maybe the series went on too long, or … I don’t know. There was a LOT of exposition to explain everything in this final volume, which I appreciate having them wrap things up, but … I don’t know. It felt sort of like, what was the point? The series, I think, maybe felt like it had to keep topping itself with weirdness, and at a point just got a little tiresome, and it was hard to still care about the characters. There were some deaths in this volume that *should* have impacted me, but …didn’t. And that ending … really? THAT is how things are gonna go out? Sigh. So disappointing overall. The series artwork was FANTASTIC, and the humor, when it was on, was SPOT. ON. Just a bummer that they didn’t stick the landing. :( Oh well. (Shunk!)
  17. Nailbiter vol 3 Blood in the Water by Joshua Williamson – hm. I have a feeling I’m going to stick with this thru thick and thin. I just hope I’m not disappointed. I THINK it’ll be fine, so long as it doesn’t get dragged on too long. I’m really hoping that the way this volume ended means that some answers will be coming very soon. Guess I’ll find out when I read volume 4. (But can you tell me what happened to my arms and legs?)
  18. Nailbiter vol 4 Blood Lust by Joshua Williamson – Characters in this series flip flop a lot. Meaning people who you hate and think you’ve got figured out are given backstories that suddenly make them more sympathetic. And protagonists go and say or do something that causes you to despise them. Is that because the writing is good, or because it’s inconsistent? I’m gonna go with “yes”. I really really hope that there is an ending -with answers/explanations – in store, and that things start coming soon. (What have you done?)
  19. Morning Glories vol 5: Tests by Nick Spencer – (Make her get up!)
  20. Morning Glories vol 6: Demerits by Nick Spencer – I have no idea what is even going on anymore. (My David.)
  21. Morning Glories vol 7: Honors by Nick Spencer – I’m not sure why I keep reading – I keep thinking I know what’s going on, because there are hints of answers, but I have no idea if any theories I come up with are close to accurate because more shit gets thrown into the mix. Sigh. (Zoe?)
  22. Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory – this was so much fun! The Amazing Telemachus family was once on the edge of greatness – the patriarch of the family (Teddy) is a conman, the rest of his family (wife Maureen, eldest daughter Irene, and his sons Frank and Buddy) each have actual psychic abilities. In the 70s during a taping of The Mike Douglas Show, a skeptic ruined the family by pointing out Teddy’s tricks. The main plot of the story takes place in the mid-90s; where Irene’s son Matty is now developing his own abilities, and Frank is trying to work his way out of financial problems with the mafia. The characters were all great, and I loved spending time with all of them. This would make a great movie if done properly. (In an instant, he’s there.)
  23. Here by Richard McGuire – an experimental type of graphic novel. The book focuses on one particular area (a corner of a house built in the 1800s) and checks in on it during various points in time over thousands of years (from hundreds of thousands of years ago to several hundred years in the future). There wasn’t really a ‘story’ here, but it was still an interesting type of book. (Now I remember.)
  24. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson – such a joy! This graphic novel started as a webcomic and tells the story of Nimona, a young girl who can shapeshift and decides to become a sidekick to the local villain. It’s set in medieval times mixed with futuristic technology, and blends it all together wonderfully. The characters all have more to them than you’d be set to believe, and the artwork is marvelously adorkable. There was a Chekov’s gun that never fired, but that is a minor nitpick. I really really liked this, and supposedly it’s being turned into a movie – if so, it should be a good one. (A friend.)
  25. Tomorrow’s Kin by Nancy Kress – First in a planned trilogy. Good first contact novel. The “Deneb” show up in a giant ship near the U.N. building in New York City. The Deneb are, it turns out, not actually aliens, so much as …human. 150,000 years ago, a small group of humans were taken from Earth, and transferred to another planet (that they refer to as World). (WHO did this is not answered. There are hints, though, that that particular plotline may rise in the upcoming novels). Anyway, due to World’s geography and whatnot, the Deneb had a jumpstart on agriculture and getting civilization going – thus allowing them to become much more technologically advanced then us Earthlings. Anyway, they built the ship and made their way to Earth for two reasons – to find their ancestors, and to warn us that there is a fatal dust cloud making its way toward earth’s orbit. Will humanity be able to find a cure in the 10 months that we have left? And are the Deneb as trustworthy as they claim? All in all, an engaging sci-fi novel. (She rose from the porch, dusted off the seat of her jeans, and went into the lighted house.)
  26. Nailbiter vol 5 Bound by Blood by Joshua Williamson – Parts of this felt like filler, but it was still an entertaining enough series for me to stick with it. (I hate reading.)
  27. Nailbiter vol 6 The bloody truth by Joshua Williamson – Well. Okay then. You want a lot of exposition and explanation and answers that are rushed and less than supremely satisfying? Because that is what you’re gonna get. One the one hand, at least the series didn’t drag on for far too long just making things more and more complicated (looks sideways at Morning Glories), but on the other hand, the feeling I get is that another volume or two would have actually benefited the series overall. Bummer. Maybe someday this will get turned into a tv series. I suspect that it could be really well done. There’s SO much potential for this idea, it really did feel like they didn’t mine it as much as they should have. Oh well. (AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH)
  28. Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke – charming graphic novel about a young girl (Zita) and her friend (Joseph) who stumble upon a strange device with a big red button on it. Zita presses the button, zapping them both to a weird alien world that has giant mice, friendly (and not so friendly) robot guards, an alien cult, and, oh, an asteroid approaching that is going to destroy the world in a few weeks. Zita needs to find Joseph, find a way home, and not get herself killed in the process. Nothing wholly original in this, but the artwork is very adorable, and most of the characters are quirky enough that you enjoy the time with them anyway. (Hey wait!)
  29. The End of Ordinary by Edward Ashton – Ehhhh. This was a quick read, and it wasn’t *bad*, but it felt like it wasn’t really living up to it’s potential. There were hints of ideas that were bigger and seemed like they should have been explored better (manmade viruses, altering people’s DNA, rogue AI systems). It started off interesting enough, but by the end … felt sort of empty. I have suspicions that it was set up to allow other novels set in the same universe to be written in the future. (Baby steps, right?)
  30. Paper Girls vol 3 by Brian K Vaughn – This whole volume was set in the way distant past, introduced a few new characters and potential wrinkles, but didn’t really move the story forward much. But that’s okay, because the characters are for the most part pretty great. Looking forward to future volumes. (Why too what?)
  31. Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Zafron – read this for college class, was super enjoyable! Not my usual pick, but I’m glad that I was forced to. Set in Barcelona in 1945, this tells the tale of Daniel, who has his life changed when he discovers the work of a (mostly) unknown author named Julian Carax. The stories within stories were intriguing and all of the mystery and drama and symbolism and beautiful language just worked on so many levels. Highly recommended. (Soon afterward, like figures made of steam, father and son disappear into the crowd of the Ramblas, their steps lost forever in the shadow of the wind.)
  32.   A Small Story about the Sky by Alberto Rios poetry, with a heavy desert tint to them. Some worked amazingly well, some were just meh. (Something is always fixed.)
  33. Brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson This was a autobiography/memoir told in verse form. This was like a time capsule of the Civil Rights movement of the 60s. Many of the poems were powerful, too. (And all the worlds you are - / Ohio and Greenville / Woodson and Irby / Gunnar's child and Jack's daughter / Jehovah's Witness and nonbeliever / listener and writer / Jackie and Jacqueline - / gather into one world / called You / where You decide / what each world / and each story / and each ending / will finally be.)
  34. Al Franken Giant of the Senate by Al Franken- God, how I wish more politicians were like Al Franken. The man is smart, passionate, funny and he CARES. This autobiography goes thru Franken’s early life, his time on SNL, and the majority of it is focused on his run for the US Senate. He’s not perfect, of course, but just seeing that not all politicians in this era of Trump are horrible humans is refreshing.  (And how fucking great they are.) ..sigh. And, just a week and a half after I read this, news about Franken’s behavior has broken. I’m disappointed and sad and angry and I don’t even know. The book was still interesting, and well written, but my entire outlook of Franken has been changed, and not for the better.
  35. Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King – good, but not GREAT. (A moth flutters from the branch of the old oak tree and settles on her hand.)
  36. Rhett & Link’s Book of Mythicality: A Field Guide to Curiosity, Creativity, and Tomfoolery by Rhett McLaughlin & Link Neal – my favorite youtubers wrote a book. Part autobiography, part how-to-guide to living a more ‘mythical’ lifestyle… it wasn’t all that funny (comedy in books really is difficult), but it was an enjoyable enough way to pass the time. (Now go, and be your mythical best.)
  37. You Can’t Spell America Without Me: The Really Tremendous Inside Story of my Fantastic First Year as President Donald J Trump - A So-called Parody by Alec Baldwin & Kurt Andersen – Baldwin’s Trump impression has long worn out its welcome (just like the real thing!) but this book was ...well, it was all right. Had a lot of subtle (and many completely unsubtle) jabs at the Cheeto. But I'm sure it didn't change any minds. I don't think that was even the goal, though. I guess if it helped any sane individual have a moment or two of joy, it has succeeded. I did get a few smiles out of it, but mostly it made me tired, because there has been SO. MUCH. CRAP.  (Because the president has got a question.)
  38. Legend volume one: Defend the Grounds by Samuel Sattin – Graphic novel set in a post-apocalyptic world in which humans have mostly died out (those who remain have become zombie/brainless killers) and house pets (dogs cats and hawks, at least) have gained intelligence and banded together to reform their societies. This was a lot of set up, but just didn’t work for me. The art was decent, but the story and characters didn’t connect with me. I won’t be continuing this. (I look forward to joining you… on the blooded path.)
  39. The Punch Escrow by Tal M. Klein - Definitely a "page turner" - this sci-fi romp is set in 2196, where teleportation is the norm. Then, everyman Joel Byram finds out - the hard way - that the procedure doesn't work the way everyone thinks it does.  Having it end with it more or less begging for a sequel is pretty irksome, though. (Fuck.)

 So. That was what I read. Onto the films...

Movies seen in 2017:

  1. Moonwalkers – Ron Perlman and Rupert Grint star in this comedy about the US Government having a ‘back up plan’ of fake moon-landing footage. Perlman is a CIA agent who kicks major ass and takes no shit from no one. Rupert is a manager of a failing rock band in England. Perlman wants to hire Stanley Kubrick to make the fake footage. Hijinks ensue. It’s actually pretty funny, although there’s a  drug scene that goes on a little too long. Overall, a fun little romp.
  2. The Secret Life of Pets – I admit I did nod off near the end, but the parts that I saw were charming and funny. The kids really enjoyed it, too.
  3. Life After Beth – a zombie romantic comedy (zomromcom?) that is …sorta lifeless? It’s got Aubrey Plaza (from Parks & Rec) in it, which is why I watched it, but it didn’t really have a point, or many good jokes. It wasn’t a BAD movie, but was just… there.
  4. Welcome to Me – Kirsten Wiig plays Alice Kleig, a woman diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, who wins 83 million dollars in the lottery. She uses the winnings to start her own Oprah-like television show where she talks about herself. This wasn’t that good, and wasn’t funny. It was actually sad that her mental illness wasn’t being addressed by any of the people around her. Her therapist gave up on her, her ex-husband was there, but not attempting to get her help, her best friend couldn’t get through to her due to her selfishness (and her mental illness?), and the television crew didn’t care at all as long as she kept signing checks and their ratings were improving. It had the textbook “happy” ending in that she “improved” her relationships with her friends and those around her, but oof, this could have been so much better than it was.
  5. Kidnapping Mr. Heineken – based on a true story about a group of friends who kidnapped the CEO of Heineken beer in 1983. And then they received the highest ransom payout in history. (It doesn’t end well for them, though.) Anthony Hopkins was Mr. Heineken, and he was great, as usual. I enjoyed this – partly because I had no idea how it was going to play out. Sometimes ignorance is useful.
  6. Tallulah – Ellen Page plays Tallulah, a drifter who winds up taking a toddler from her neglectful upper-class mother. This was really really good.
  7. Imperium – Daniel Radcliffe plays an FBI agent who goes undercover into the world of white supremacy in order to stop them from making a dirty bomb. Lacked tension, or something. It was merely okay, I didn’t really feel anything for any of the characters, and didn’t get a deeper understanding of the white supremacists.
  8. Life of Crime – a mediocre crime comedy with Jennifer Aniston and Tim Robbins. Another case of a movie that was entertaining, but more or less forgettable.
  9. The Shallows – Millennial Jaws, I guess.
  10. This Is Elvis – a sort of documentary of Elvis Presley’s life and career. Used a lot of rare footage, mixed with a few recreations (especially in the early part of his life when things weren’t documented) and was narrated by various people from Elvis’s life. It was pretty interesting, although somewhat sad. Elvis seemed like a decent guy who got in over his head a few times. And man, the guy really did have a great voice.
  11. John Wick –  In this Matrix side-quest, Neo is almost defeated by the mini-boss, Perkins, before Player 2 (Wilem Dafoe) steps in. Eventually, Player 2 is killed by the final boss, and then Neo has to battle him in the rain. He wins, but also dies. Good news, though! He must have reached a save point right before then, because he’s able to finish out the game with a new dog.
  12. The Complete Beatles – In the 1960s, 4 young British guys got together to form a band. They had a few hits over the course of the decade.
  13. La La Land – hey, a musical! Very very pretty, and the opening number alone is worth the price of admission. A lot of the songs are, sadly, somewhat forgettable, but the ending made me tear up anyway.
  14. 1408 – Maybe it’s just me, but ghost stories are just not really that scary. John Cusack and Samuel L Jackson were good in their roles in this, though.
  15. Suicide Squad – what a freaking mess
  16. Gattac – I had seen Gattaca years ago, but remembered pretty much nothing. So, when Saren said she was going to download the movie and asked if I’d (re)watch it with her, I said sure. And... then the final 11 minutes of the movie weren’t viewable. (She found another file a few days later, watched the final bit, and then told me what happened.) Two things that stood out upon watching this – it’s interesting that in the “near future”, an obsession with 1950s-styles reemerges, and those detectives investigating the murder were really bad at their jobs.
  17. Deseierto – meh
  18. American Beauty – rewatch. This hasn’t aged well. Back in 1999 I thought it was insightful and deep. Now I found it pretentious and annoying. And most (all?) of the characters are reprehensible.
  19. Scarface – cocaine is a helluva drug.
  20. Trolls – ehhhh. Super colorful, and sing-y, and …surreal? Weird? Odd? Character design. It wasn’t a horrible movie, but it didn’t do a lot for me, personally, either.
  21. Arrival – bit of a slow burn, but pretty good flick.
  22. Counter Clockwise – neat premise – a scientist accidentally creates a time machine, and travels 6 months into the future, where he finds himself wanted for the murder of his wife & sister, so he has to travel back in time and find out why. Unfortunately, the premise was the best thing about this low budget drek. I guess logically it all worked out, but most of the characters’ actions were WAY unbelievable, making it difficult to buy into how it was all playing out. Pity.
  23. Moana – great character arcs for both Moana and Maui, AMAZING animation, and just a great movie overall.
  24. The Remaining – it’s The Rapture, yo. Still don’t get how that’s a good thing for anyone involved – all the believers die, and those who remain get chased by fallen demons unless they “choose god” too. Or… even if they do? I don’t know, strange belief, but, you know, people believe all sorts of weird things. The acting wasn’t bad, and the production value was actually pretty decent for this type of film, but there wasn’t much of a point to the story beyond God works in mysterious ways.
  25. Se7en – rewatch. Still a pretty good flick, although this is one of those movies where, once you know the twists, it’s not *quite* as entertaining, ya know? Also, where the female characters at, yo? Also also, Mills & Sommerset were a lot more loose with the rules than I recall them being the first time I watched it.
  26. Space Station 76 – it’s like the writers said, “Hey, let’s make a spoof of the 70s.” and then got all the 70s stuff, but forgot the jokes. This was painfully unfunny. Pity, because there was a glimmer of potential there. The soundtrack was groovy, though.
  27. Passengers – not  cool, Chris Pratt. Not cool. Which the movie acknowledges… but then has Jennifer Lawrence accept/fall in love with her stalker/captor anyway. Sigh. A better ending that I read online: Jim should die because his survival is ludicrous. Then we have Aurora living alone, talking to the robot bartender, stalkerly reading up on her fellow passengers and ultimately crushing on one of them, struggling with the ethical dilemma... and then we see her with a screwdriver getting ready to open a guy's pod. Fade to black.
  28. The To Do List – I think I’m pretty okay with watching anything with Aubrey Plaza in it.
  29. Vin and the Chipmunks – Missed the first ten/fifteen minutes of Alvin and the Chipmunks while on vacation. It was…there.
  30. Rogue One A Star Wars Story – Fan service galore, but it worked. I’m not a mega-fan (the Star Wars universe is fun escapism, not a hokey religion), so this was just a good popcorn movie.
  31. The Bye Bye Man – how does a movie this poorly written, this predictable, this unscary, this unintentionally laughable get made? The mysteries of Hollywood.
  32. Kubo and the Two Strings – really, really good. The animation is freaking amazing, and the characters were fun to be with.
  33. Train to Busan – easily the best zombie movie I’ve seen in years. Loved the zombies, loved the characters, loved the action. Very entertaining.
  34. Doctor Strange –The bending cities trick was cool, but did get a little tedious after a while. However, the Hong Kong action scene near the end was freaking AMAZING. All in all just a mediocre entry in the Marvel movie universe.
  35. A Dog’s Purpose –schmaltzy and not that greatly acted, but, I cried anyway and laughed at some of the dumb jokes. They’re good dogs, Brent.
  36. Split – I bet that stinger would have made me super excited if I had ever seen Unbreakable. Since I haven’t, it feel pretty flat, like the rest of this movie.
  37. Masterminds – very few of the jokes worked (I think I laughed maybe once) but the fact that it was a heist movie (somewhat) and a true story (again, somewhat) gave it a lot of leeway. Plus Kristin Wiig and Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones all get a pass – I’ll watch pretty much anything they’re in. And this wasn’t a a *bad* movie, it just had a lot more potential than it lived up to.
  38. Hell or High Water- banks are evil, but robbing banks is too, I guess.
  39. Unbreakable – ah. Now the ending of Split makes a little more sense. (Doesn’t make that a better movie, though) This was pretty good, probably the best M. Night movie. And it did leave me wanting more of David’s story, so, well done?
  40. Green Room – holy cow. Punk band versus a bunch of heroin selling Nazis. Tense, gory, and pretty well acted, too. (Bonus – Patrick Stewart!!)
  41. Night of the Living Deb – you know how sometimes you want junk food, and then you eat it, and you’re like, “Why did I eat that? It was so not satisfying.”? This movie was that. A zombie ‘comedy’ (I did chuckle once or twice, I think) about a couple who have a one-night stand and wake up the morning after to find themselves in a zombie-apocalypse. Ray Wise is in it, which is a plus, but there’s not much else going for this, sadly.
  42. Nocturnal Animals – the novel within the movie was way more gripping than the outer story about Susan’s failing marriage/career, and I felt like there were a number of things I didn’t quite “get” about that aspect of it. This was adapted from a novel, apparently, and I feel like there were probably things that would have made more sense if I had read that. I really enjoyed the movie overall, despite the confusing parts, so maybe I’ll track down the book it was based on and read that.
  43. Life – I felt like the pacing was off at the beginning – they kind of rushed getting Calvin in and established (there should have been a whole lot more awe and wonder at the discovery of intelligent life forms, after all) and the whole thing was filled with horror movie clichés, but for the most part, I enjoyed this. The “twist” ending was not really much of a twist, but what ya gonna do? Also, I don’t think I’ve seen a movie with Jake Gyllenhaal that I have NOT liked, at least somewhat. Dude winds up in really interesting movies, if nothing else.
  44. Frozen - (not the Disney movie) low budget flick about a trio of college students on a ski trip who get stuck on a ski lift at night, with hungry wolves below. Sure, credibility was strained at times, but this wasn’t half bad.
  45. Beauty and the Beast – the live action remake of the animated classic. The bits that were spot on were SPOT. ON. And much goosebumps (and maybe a few tears) were had. But this did feel a bit …inflated? Like there were maybe ten minutes or so that could have been trimmed, just to make it a tighter movie. Eh. I’m nitpicking. This was pretty great.
  46. Logan – why is it so dusty in here? This was really good, but certainly not an upbeat flick. But, yes, very very enjoyable.
  47. Get Out – so good. One of those rare movies packed with multiple layers and symbolism, AND it was enjoyable and realistic (to a point). Very smart, very well acted, and just a great movie all around. 
  48. The Girl on the Train – blah. Just felt like this sort of thing has been done a lot better by dozens of other movies.
  49. The Belko Experiment – quick brutal little horror flick about an office in South America that is actually a government-run experiment in killing and human survival. Outlandish and ridiculous, yet enjoyable for what it was.
  50. Mindhorn – hilarious comedy about a washed up actor who stared in a crappy sci-fi police show in the late 80s called Mindhorn. In the present day, a suspected killer says he will only cooperate with the police if he can speak with Mindhorn. So the cops bring the actor in to help them out. Hilarity ensues. (Yes, really.) This was one of the funniest comedies I’ve seen in a very long time.
  51. Tunnel – Korean drama that was engaging, but probably could have been about 20 minutes shorter. About a business man who gets trapped in his car when a poorly constructed tunnel collapses.
  52. John Wick chapter 2 – sequel. And set up for ANOTHER. (Which I will absolutely see.) This world is ridiculous, and yet somehow totally engaging. Although, really, I think it would be ideal if the third chapter is the final one.
  53. Alone Here -  a slightly better than average zombie apocalypse flick. Mostly a character study, about a woman who retreated to the woods with her husband and young daughter once things started to go bad. Incorporates flashbacks to show how she ended up alone. In the present, she meets up with a man with his teenage stepdaughter who are trying to survive – they work together, trying to trust each other.
  54. Shimmer Lake – a crime thriller that was …okay. It tried to take a page from Memento by more or less playing out in reverse chronological order, which was not really necessary, but did give it a few semi-interesting twists, I guess. I saw the final twist coming way too early, and by the end was kind of thinking, “okay, what was the point of this?”
  55. The Boss Baby – um.
  56. Alien: Covenant – sequel to Prometheus, and still a prequel to Alien. Took WAY too long to get things set up, and then still didn’t care about (m)any of the cannon-fodder once the Xenomorphs started picking them off. It did look pretty, so there’s that. It was EXTREMELY cynical, though. David/Walter was the standout. (The androids really are some of the most interesting things about the Alien universe. Or at least the Prometheus-based part.)
  57. Trapped – a Hindi film about a young man who goes to rent an apartment in a high-rise building, and winds up locking himself in there. Some of it stretched credibility (nobody saw the fire!?!?) but it was overall VERY engaging.
  58. Snatched – I had low expectations for this, they weren’t met. (sorry, Amy Schumer & Goldie Hawn. This was just garbage.)
  59. Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2: It was just a tad overlong, and some of the charm from the first one has faded a bit, but overall, these wacky a-holes are still a lot of fun to hang out with.
  60. Cult of Chucky – blah. Too cynical for a Chucky movie, really. And I’m reminded of a Marilyn Manson quote – “Without the threat of death there’s no reason to live at all”. Chucky has at this point basically obtained immortality – you can’t beat him, there’s no real point in trying. Which makes his story boring.
  61. A Ghost Story – uggggggggh. I watched this movie at 2x speed, and it’s only 92 minutes long, and EVEN THEN, there were scenes that dragged (the pumpkin pie scene is seriously like 10 minutes long). “Get on with it” was probably uttered by me a few times. And the time loop ending, while sorta cool …didn’t really fit with the rest of the movie. Disappointing.
  62. Blood Father – It’s Mel Gibson, so, you know, there’s that baggage. But, if you’re willing to overlook that, this was a well-acted fun diversion. It’s got William H. Macy in it, too, so there’s another plus. Mel plays an ex-con who has a teenage daughter, Lydia, who has gotten herself into a buttload of trouble – her boyfriend has connections with the Mexican cartel. When she ends up shooting him during a house robbery, she goes on the run, turning to her estranged dad to help her out.
  63. Timecrimes – Tight little sci-fi thriller about a guy named Hector who does a little time travel while trying to avoid getting killed by a mysterious guy in the woods. Could’ve done with a smidge less misogynistic overtones, though.
  64. 47 Meters Down – Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, and sharks. Perfectly acceptable (and forgettable) popcorn flick, which did have some moments of true panic-inducing tension.
  65. Hercules in New York – Ahnuld’s first movie. For the most part, this is a brainless comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously and while not anything outstanding, is pretty fun. I actually laughed out loud a few times!
  66. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – rewatch; ah, they were all so young.
  67. Spider-Man Homecoming – tons of fun! I guess the 6th time is the  charm, huh? Michael Keaton as the Vulture was a great villain. His backstory was believable and he was sympathetic – and menacing! And Peter Parker’s friends and love interests were diverse and realistic and funny and this was just an all-around great superhero movie.
  68. Bone Tomahawk – it’s like Predator, but set in the wild west!
  69. Kong Skull Island – there were a ton of “this is only here to look cool” shots, but, damn, did they look cool.
  70. War for the Planet of the Apes – This whole trilogy was great, but I felt like the final five or ten minutes of this one felt like a bit of a letdown. I’m not sure how I was expecting it to wrap up differently, but somehow it was just…slightly disappointing. Overall, though, each of the new Planet of the Apes movies has been fantastic. Maybe I was just sad that there (probably) won’t be another one.
  71. It Comes at Night – tense. And sad. But very compelling.
  72. Kill List – holy fuck, that ending is going to stay with me for a while. This was all about a retired hitman named Jay with a young wife & son who has fallen on hard times. His partner and best friend, Gal, comes to him offering a job of 3 individuals to take care of. When Jay agrees to do it, the contract is signed in blood (the client slashes his hand with a knife). Things get increasingly weird and dark from there.
  73. Sightseers – dark comedy about a sheltered woman going on a road trip with her new boyfriend, committing murders along the way, as one does.Sort of like if Natural Born Killers were done with ...just ordinary boring people.
  74. The Wizard of Oz – this is a pretty obscure musical from 1939, not a lot of people have heard of it, which is surprising, because it’s really really good!
  75. The Proposition – Excellent bloody brutal western set in Australia in the 1800s.
  76. Die Hard – this was like Die Hard in a corporate skyscraper. (hahaha)  Anyway, yeah, fantastic action flick. Alan Rickman was amazing, and John McClane was relatively human and normal, which made the movie all that much better. In the  later sequels, he was just this unstoppable macho blah, but here there were moments he was scared, he got hurt, he was someone you could root for and care about. Plus,  this had some great iconic lines.
  77. Logan Lucky – fun heist movie
  78. 31 – I watched this Rob Zombie movie in hopes that it would get better, or that there was some point to it all. It didn’t, and there wasn’t.
  79. The Muppet Christmas Carol – this was there. Maybe I’ve become a heartless bastard, but I feel like I’ve outgrown the Muppets. This just didn’t make me feel anything. 
  80. Bright -  the pacing and editing were weird with this. As was a lot of the characterization. And the message just seemed to be, "Prejudice is bad, but we all have it". I guess. Some of the action was cool, and *some* of the world building worked - if there were better writers working with this universe, I could see myself checking out a sequel.

So, there's that.
I also collected spare change this year - I already counted it up - and made it an episode of OK What Now.

In 2018, I really want to write more, to read more, to watch more movies and play more games. I want to get out of the bit of a rut that I've found myself in, and do more things that make me feel more alive (and document them so as to be able to remember them years later) I totally plan on blogging more (both this blog and my 'super secret writing' one), and we also have plans as a family to incorporate more game and movie nights. I think 2018 is going to be a really good year.