10 Summer Suggestions 2020

Two years ago, I had the thought of looking at my collection of films and picking out some movies that would be perfect for a Summer evenings entertainment. With the current pandemic, most people have been streaming until their eyes are red, trying to fill the time that would normally be taken up by baseball games, family picnics, and a trip to the local movie house. People I have spoken too are binge watching gruesome murder mysteries, depressing true life documentaries and new films made for the streaming services (oh yeah, and Hamilton).  Hey, I stream with the best of them, but I also still rely on my physical media to get inspired. So with an aim to keep the mood light, the family engaged and to dig a little into the past, here is an updated list for your Covid Summer Family viewing pleasure.

Tim Allen Comedies

Once the king of 1990s family comedies, Allen has reverted back to television for the most part, with occasional returns as Bud Lightyear in the Toy Story Films. After the turn of the century, Allen’s star dimmed a bit with some films that did not perform at the box office, and which may have been missed by you the first time around.

Joe Somebody

Allen plays a mid-level managerial type, who is not really appreciated at his job. He crosses paths with another employee, known to be a bully, who is physically bigger and more assertive than the mild mannered character Allen plays. What ensues is the equivalent to a schoolyard challenge to fight in the parking lot of their mutual employer on a given date. There is of course a moral to the story, but there are also some pretty good laughs along the way.

Big Trouble

You don’t have to add the words “…in Little China”, this is a completely different film. It’s release date was pushed back several months in 2001 due to the terror attacks on 9/11. The plot of the film features bumbling criminals obtaining a nuclear device, while crossing paths with an ineffectual single Dad and a mob hit. The cast is phenomenal, with pros like Rene Russo, Dennis Farina and Stanley Tucci backing up Allen. It’s a Barry Sonnenfeld directed film, and I quote it regularly almost 20 years later.

Animated Fun

 

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

It is certainly not a forgotten film, but it may have been a while since you checked it out. It is a technical marvel and the lead performance by Bob Hoskins should have been an awards contender. The not so secret weapon here is the supporting cast, all the toon from the old days. This mixture of live action/animation and film noir is also very funny and perfect family entertainment for a July or August night with the kids.

 

Bolt

A Disney film in the Pixar Style with a sly satire of Hollywood entertainment built in. Beloved TV Star Bolt, is under the impression that he really is a superdog with powers that he uses to protect his beloved little girl. There are supporting animals and a spy theme.
So if you are a regular reader on this site, Dogs+Spy Stories+Hollywood Satire= Recommendation.

Gender Bender Comedies

Hairspray

Because the John Waters feature that the musical was based on featured the Cross Dressing Divine playing the Mother of our ingenue, the trick is repeated for the film version of the musical play, with John Travolta wearing the dress and the fat suit (before he no longer needed it). This 2007 musical has a nice open minded theme to promote, but even better, it has great dancing and fun songs.

Happy Texas

An oddly matched pair of prison escapees pass themselves off as a gay couple who prep girls for children’s beauty pageants. This late 90s comedy is stolen by Steve Zahn, but William H. Macy gives him a good run for the money in character charm. There is some violence and language issues but tweens and teens can watch with the family without too many worries. A detailed review for this is available in my collection of Movies I Want Everyone to See, it was originally published in 2013 but it is reprinted on this site as the post immediately prior to this.

Old School Wedding Crashers

The Internship

One of the first indicators that straight comedies were dying, The Internship has a solid premise, two reliable comedy stars and an incredible product placement campaign that is not subtle at all. It still did no business and mid level comedies started drying up right after this. Don’t worry, it was a function of audience trends, the movie is plenty entertaining with a PG-13 attitude.

 

 

 

 

70s Fun

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother

Gene Wilder wrote and directed this slapstick take off on the great detective. This movie is clearly influenced by the movies Wilder made with Mel Brooks and it features many players you would know from films made by Brooks. It is a period piece with swordfights and carriage chases and an opera scene that is quite amusing. Not as widely known as many of it’s contemporaries, it is worth a dive to find it on Amazon.

The Hot Rock

You’ve heard of serial criminals, the is a movie about a serial crime. This is a heist film with several different heists built in. A cast of 1970s stars including Robert Redford and George Segal, have the unfortunate luck to be stealing a cursed jewel for an African Government. The best laid plans go astray, over and over again. Maybe a little slow for modern audiences, but a breezy sense of humor passes the events very effectively.

The Big Stretch

The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981)

This movie does not have a good reputation, but that is unfortunate. Although it is a little clunky at times, it is a solid introduction for younger viewers to Westerns in general, and the character of the Lone Ranger in particular. Star Klinton Spillsbury, made only one feature, and it is easy to tell why. Everyone else is fine however, including Christopher Lloyd in one of his many 1980s villain incarnations and Jason Robards as an appropriately gruff Ulysses S. Grant.

Becky

Hallelujah, the drought is broken, at least for a bit.  It has been 87 days since I saw a movie in a theater, and it was driving me a little mad. I know others have sacrificed so much more than I in this pandemic, but I can only speak to my pain, and not going to the movies was incredibly painful to me. Sure, it’s not like a disease, but ask anyone who gives up those things they love, it means something to them. Fortunately my addition is relatively innocuous so there was no physical danger, just mental anguish. How did this dam finally burst, especially since movie theaters are still not open? It’s simple, there is an nearly outdated concept called a “Drive-In”. It’e been twenty years since I went to a “Drive-In” theater, and that was for a special event for a local radio program at Halloween. It was twelve years prior to that when I last saw a regular feature at a drive-in. Yesterday, I saw a post while I happened to be on Facebook, and when I clicked the link, there was a trailer and information about where the movie was playing locally. That is if you think of 20 miles away as being local. I will get to the review in just a minute but a few more words about the Drive-In first.

The show was scheduled to start at 8:30 pm, so I left the house at &;30, and arrived at the destination pretty much ten before 8. The line of cars was four lanes wide, and backed up a block. It took twenty-five minutes to pay and get into the screening area. This complex had four screens, every screen had a full lot under the social distancing rules of one empty space on each side. So they could only be at 1/3 of their capacity. The line for the bathroom was slow and longer than most lines at Disneyland. The concession stand was also a long line, so I skipped both. I missed having popcorn more than trying to relieve myself, fortunately I was not in need as many others were.

Okay, enough about the experience, let’s talk about the movie. “Becky” is perfect Drive-In fare. It reminded me of some of the grindhouse style films that I did see in those venues when I was young and went to Drive-Ins regularly. It is a nasty piece of survival/revenge porn, that finds the most awful ideas, shows them to you, slathers on some blood, and then serves it up with enough inventiveness to make you cheer when the bad guys get their comeuppance. The premise is simple, a thirteen year old girl has to fight back against neo-Nazi escaped convicts. It is exploitation material, but it was not as lurid as many things you may have seen.

The cast features comedic actor  Joel McHale, best known for the TV series “Community” , in a straight dramatic part as the father of 13 year old Becky. The two of them have been struggling since the death of her Mother, and he is trying to move on to a new relationship but Becky is having none of it. They cross paths with the ruthless Dominick, an Aryan Brotherhood type who has lead a band of four escaped prisoners to the cabin of Becky and her dad, They are seeking a key, which turns out to be a McGuffin, simply used to bring the victims into the sights of the predators. Dominick is played by another comedic actor form TV, Kevin James. The two sitcom actors acquit themselves fairly well in the dramatic roles, though James gets the meatier part and has a chance to ham it up a little bit.

The star of the film is Lulu Wilson, who I did not know but I have seen in “The Haunting of Hill House” net series. The character of Becky is traumatized from the death of her Mom, she is in rage at the choices her father is making about her life and his own, and finally, she has reached puberty and at the age of 13 has all the resentment and anger that that stage in life often brings. When you couple that with the traumas she witnesses on this weekend visit to the family cabin, you can begin to believe she is capable of doing some of the things that the story has her executing. Imagine Kevin McCallister, only without the comedy and you will get the idea. I poke in the eye in this film does not result in three stooges guffaws, but rather dangling eyeballs that will have to be operated on with blunt instruments in the kitchen. Motorboating will not be a sex game played between a woman’s breasts. Plowing the field is also not going to feel the same after witnessing this. Maybe the Joker can make a pencil disappear without all the blood, but Becky can get a lot of blood from pencils and especially a ruler.

Sure there are a few things that don’t make much sense. For instance, the movie starts like so many films do these days, at the epilogue instead of the beginning of the narration. We never know why the key is supposed to be in the house, or how Becky came to have it. It is also hard to believe that the little girl is strong enough to overcome at least some of the men in this film. The one sympathetic bad guy, played by wrestler turned actor Robert Maillet. Frankly, if I saw that guy coming for me, I’d lose it instantly, he is a monster. Surprisingly, he is a somewhat sympathetic character in the film. Ultimately, no one gets out of the scenario unscarred, and I guess that is the point. Well not really, the point is to take pleasure in the horrible things that happen to the horrible people. Some of the films playing on the other screens were comedies or Academy quality dramas. I was happy to be enjoying an exploitation film in its natural habitat. I almost felt like I was back in mine. Hopefully soon, but till then, all hail the drive in.

Top Five Animated Title Sequences

On a recent Lambcast I discussed my Top Five Animated Titles in Movies. I thought I would write a little about my thoughts and post them here so those of you who do not listen to the podcast can enjoy them as well.

My selections were narrowed so that the on line discussion did not wander into just credit sequences, but those where animation is a key component.

I tried to exclude titles where the text is animated but there are no additional artistic elements of the sequence. So I wanted artwork. Characters, background paintings, graphics that move are all considered. If there is storytelling that is a plus, but sometimes it just has to be cool in my view. The category is fairly elastic and anyone who wants to bend it to play is welcome.

Number 5. “A Fist Full of Dollars”

It was the start of Italian Westerns.

It is accompanied by Ennio Morricone’s theme

Stark two color contrast

Starts as White on Red, then switches to Black on Red, Then Red on Black,

The Gunshots signal each title card which also uses a two color contrast.

The images look rotoscoped and the silhouettes are graphically simple and clear.

I Cheated on Number 4 because there are two films in the series that use animation that would qualify for my list, but I did not want to limit myself to just one of the other

Number 4 “James Bond Films”

Dr. No was designed by Maurice Binder, who did 16 James Bond films. I could cheat again and just say that the gunbarrel sequence counts for all of them, but I wanted something more elaborate. Unlike other Bond titles which sometimes have limited animation over filmed elements, this was strictly a graphic animation using Modernist design and color elements to grab our attention.

The first part consists of flashing colored dots against a black background, occasionally breaking into typeface for the credits, all of it over the Monty Norman/John Barry 007 theme.

Then we get a series of rotoscoped images in color over the same black background, sometimes with multiple layers and images. Finally you get the silhouette images of the three blind assassins in black against a colorful background, and then a transition to the filmed characters.

Casino Royale goes a completely different direction. The work is by Daniel Kleinman who took over the task of doing the Bond films from Maurice Binder. Having done over a hundred music video promos for bands in the 1980s, he used computers to animate the graphic designs that were drawn and animate them in the titles. Most of this is as the background for some Daniel Craig Rotoscoped action shots. The Playing card graphics indicate a major part of the storyline without giving anything away. I was not originally a big fan of the Chris Cornell song, but it has grown on me quite a bit.

Number 3  Christmas Vacation

Kroyer Films, who had done the titles for the previous two adventures of the Griswolds, came up with the titles after they saw a cut of the film. They were stumped because most Christmas Traditions are already pariodied in the movie. After some beer at a nearby Pub, they came up with the idea of killing Santa Claus.

They use a combination of digital, hand drawn and 3D computer animation to make what is essentially a mini-cartoon to run the titles over. The song was not complete when they were working on the images so the titles were originally scored by Angelo Badalamenti and timed to work with the gags. The studio slapped the song on, replacing the score and Bill Kroyer felt it ruined the timing of the sequence. I however think that the charm of the song works well for setting up the story and in the long run the gags work regardless of the music.

Number 2 The Pink Panther

DePatie-Freleng Enterprises created the iconic comic character to represent the image that is supposedly visible in the stone. A flaw that looked like a leaping panther and the jewel has a pink tint to it.

It is a cartoon that features interaction between the Panther Character and a comic drawing of Inspector Clouseau. The cat and mouse chase elements are pretty straight forward but there is a difference in this title sequence, the characters also interact with the typeface credits as they appear.

The Panther Spins Robert Wagner’s name and it becomes a propeller, flying him off in an invisible plane. The cat then rubs up against Capucine’s name, as a cat is wont to do, the name drops out and the Panther falls over. The Panther Watches as the film title is revealed a few letters at a time and reacts with questioning expressions and then puts the last piece of the puzzle into place.

The nature of the character is revealed as title cards come up and the Panther tries to graffiti his name into the credits. This will set up the cartoon franchise for the next decade.

The character takes on the persona of a conductor for the music credit and gets yanked. There are also a number of line graphics that get animated as the title cards come on and off screen.

All of it accompanied by the fantastic title theme by Henry Mancini. The music and the action are synched up in this one perfectly.

Number 1  “Catch Me If You Can”

FLORENCE DEYGAS and OLIVIER KUNTZEL. Designed the title in the style of Saul Bass, who is mysteriously missing from my top five list. Flowing Typeface, smooth lines and a Jazz based score.

They used Stamp Cut images to design the action sequences, mimicking some of the crude techniques used by the lead character.

Characters are drawn with an eye to 1960s aesthetics. Clothes, furniture and color schemes, like teal and black with blue backgrounds. Sometimes it looks like a cocktail party and other times it looks like it could be poolside at a Miami Hotel.[When you add the Pink Graphics against the black backgrounds that is even more clear].  The typewriters and files that are shown also evoke a 60s theme.

The long shadows and fading bottom half of the graphics tell a story filled with mystery. The settings of the film ate introduced in the titles but once again, not much is revealed. You can clearly pick out two characters that represent Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio, and you can’t tell just from the animated graphics, who it is we should be rooting for. People who say John Williams music all sound the same, have never listened to this theme.

10 Years of Special Moments on KAMAD

While the primary focus on Kirkham A Movie A Day [KAMAD] has been on movie reviews or retrospectives, there have been a lot of Special Events that I have reported on or championed myself. This Blog acts as a diary of moments in my life that are not necessarily just about a movie. Living in Southern California has given me plenty of opportunities to attend movie related activities or participate in pop culture in some way. Since I am a little older than most of the people in my on-line cinema community, I get to pontificate like a cranky old guy about a number of things as well. What follows are a few events over the last ten years where maybe the movie was not the most important thing to be paying attention to.

Supporting My Cinema Community

The same year I started blogging about movies, I found another movie fan who often did what I was doing. Eric Friedman has a site where he reviews the films in his collection and he has been doing it alphabetically. Eric also adds personal history and perspective to his reviews. He took his on-line project, and turned it into a Book.

I was proud to write a review for my friend, his book is very entertaining and insightful about growing up as a film fan. He is working on a sequel and I can’t wait to read it as well.

A Special Evening to Pay Tribute to an Actor that We Lost

Usually, any excuse to see “Robocop” on the Big Screen would be a joy. This particular evening event was great but it was for a sad occasion, the passing of actor Miguel Ferrer.

Dr. Peter Weller is tired of doing these kinds of events but for his friend, he made the effort and we were all better for it.

A Visit to the Museum

I have had the opportunity to see exhibits that are movie related at a number of museums over the years. This was a special day because my wife was not a Kubrick fan, but she loved the exhibit anyway.

Stanley Kubrick was an amazing director and kept meticulous notes. I would have been happy to browse through them for the whole day, but there was a lot to see.

Soon the Motion Picture Academy will debut it’s new museum, but I had a chance to go through the previous exhibit halls they used for a visit backstage in the costume department.

I can hardly wait to get in line at the new venue.

This one is in London, not in L.A.

A Cranky Old Guy Complains

Sitting at home one day, enjoying an artifact on a video that I own, I was inspired to talk about a few changes th the theatrical experience of movie going.

http://kirkhamclass.blogspot.com/2013/04/a-few-things-i-miss-at-modern-movie.html

This post is due for an update. Social Media, Pre-sold tickets and concession stand offerings suggest there is more to bitch about.

Southern California Movie Palaces

Obviously the movie is an important part of going out, but it may not be the most important part. Visiting Downtown Los Angeles has given me a chance to see some of the great movie palaces that thrived her a century ago, and died here fifty years later. Fortunately, there are people out ther trying to keep them alive.

The Million Dollar Theater

We went to a screening of John Carpenter’s “The Thing” at this venue, but also spent some time across the street at a location film fans will recognize and love.

The Theater at the Ace Hotel [The United Artists Theater]

My most recent visit to the Ace Hotel was for the final podcast of “The West Wing Weekly” . Before that however, we went to a Christmas party with our friends from the Nakatomi Company here.

The Orpheum Theater

This was a great visit to a theater to see the great movie that this site pays tribute too as much as possible.

Meeting Heroes In Person

Physical Media on A Personal Level

A Special Family Memory Prompted a lookback at a Laserdisc
I Love Physical Media and I Say Why.
IMG_1019
A Long term Possession gets the right Treatment
My Attempt at a Movie Wall Begins
I Continue to Love My Laserdiscs

Something Different

My current hometown is the location of the Art Clokey production facilities, they made Gumby and a lot of other things. When you see the guest list, your mouths will drop open. 

KAMAD Video History

Although this is a standard blog, focusing on written material, I have tried to include Video Podcast/Vlogs from the earliest time of the blog. Here is a lookback at the history of Video Posts. You can monitor the weight gain and hair color/loss along the way.

This page has two brief videos about this projects first round of Jaws material.

A couple of weeks later I did a short discussion on the process I used in finding movies for the Summer Project. Very informal but the Summer attire is typical of my wardrobe in the summer.

It would be a couple of years before the next VLOG link on the KAMAD Blog page. there are multiple posts on the link but the video here was lengthy and really fun. If you are also a Jaws fan, 43 minutes isn’t too much time do you think?

Amanda and I also did a double VLOG on two classics we saw on the same day, Lawrence of Arabia and Vertigo. 

A long day at the movies capped off by two video posts. That was a full movie experience.

We were a little carried away that month, so we tried another video just a couple of weeks later on Swashbuckling films.

For Father’s day that year, I got a double dose of Sean Connery and thought a brief Vlog would cover it.

It took another year before there was another video for the blog. This was an Unboxing Video that featured a Lootcrate Special “Aliens” package.

I mentioned “The Title Pending Movie Podcast” on my previous look back post concerning podcast history. They had a Summer Movie Draft each year and it was a lot of fun to listen to the wrap up when the winner was revealed. However, in their last year they stopped doing the podcast before they did the Summer Draft Wrap Up. I took it on myself to remedy that and I posted a smart ass hi-jack of their show.

Fogs and crew actually responded by putting together one final podcast and they took my comments with the humor it was all intended for in the first place. Unfortunately the podcast is no longer available for me to post a link to.

Amanda and I started to do a series of Vlogs on “The Essentials”, films designated by TCM as important to movie history. We only did three or four before we got side tracked but here is a pretty good example of what it entailed.

I’d like to come back to this project when I can.

My most recent Vlog Post was an extended defense and re-evaluation of “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood”

If you are interested, there are a number of film reviews you can find at the KAMAD Vlog. Also if you dig around the First week of January for the last five years, there is a video to accompany my Ten Favorite film list for each of those years.

I know most of you will probably not go deep on these look back post, but when Covid 19 has you locked in your house for extended periods, I enjoyed doing this, I hope you will enjoy some of it as well.

KAMAD Podcast History

Over the course of ten years, the blog has gone in a lot of directions. I started with a narrow focus, switched to contemporary reviews, added event reporting and some special projects and generally tried a lot of movie related things. On-line movie material was apparently a ripe source of content for Podcasters.

My podcast history starts as a listener. I read a site called “Fogs Movie Reviews” and Fogs had a Podcast with Chris Tanski called “The Title Pending Movie Podcast”. I became a habitual listener but I never made an appearance on the show, I did however get a sense of what a podcast could be. I had also become a member of “The Lamb”, [The Large Association of Movie Blogs] and there was a podcast there as well, and I started listening to this show also.

My first shot at being on a podcast came in 2014. I was doing a special year long project on the films of 1984, and I connected with Todd Liebenow of the “Forgotten Filmcast” who was doing a similar project. He invited me to be on his show and I made my Podcast Debut discussing the Clint Eastwood/Burt Reynolds vehicle “City Heat”.

I really enjoyed doing the show and it encouraged me to look for some more opportunities to be on a podcast. After listening to a “Lambcast” that discussed the various film presentations of “Robin Hood”, including “The Adventures of Robin Hood” [my favorite film], I reached out to the Lambcast and I was invited to participate in an upcoming show. My first appearance on the show was a “roll Your Own” episode where each guest brought a top five list to share.

Unfortunately the link does not work, but let me assure you I was brilliant. As I remember it, I pitched my first Movie of the Month Selection on this show (or maybe it was “The Towering Inferno” episode), and lo and behold, it won, so just a few weeks later I hosted a Lambcast episode on “Streets of Fire” another film from my 1984 project.

For a while, when I was a guest on the Lambcast, I would post the shows I was on here on KAMAD so that followers would be able to find them. I had something going for me when it came to the Lambcast, I was usually available, even at the last minute. The Host, Jay Cluitt, often needed a back up for a guest who dropped out and I was easy to plug in.

Two years after my first appearance on the Lambcast, Jay asked me to be his regular co-host. So starting in Spring of 2018. I have been on the show on an almost weekly basis. My first Solo Hosting Job may be the least listened to Lambcast ever but here is a link to the post where you can link to the podcast.

For nearly two years I have done the show week by week, with a couple of breaks here and there. It is one of the things I enjoy the most as a result of this blog. I have connected with dozens of movie fans, writers and production crew members as a consequence of the Lambcast, and that would never have happened without the blog existing first.

My Daughter Amanda and I have started our own Podcast called “Catching Up” where we are doing a simple review of Television series that we may have missed or did not finish. We started with the Show “Supernatural”, but since she has moved to Texas and the point was to watch together, we are on hiatus for the moment. You can find the shows we have done at this link.

Since I am on the subject, they are not exactly Podcasts, but I have done a number of entries for this site as video blogs, and they are all available at the KAMAD Vlog. 

The lookback posts will continue for the rest of May. I hope everyone is doing well and that these links give you a fun way to while away some time  when you are in Lockdown.

10 Year Anniversary Data Dive

If you are a data junkie, this post is for you. My admittedly small reader base has gone up and down and up again over the years. Sometimes it is clear why, a good movie year will drive readers to your site. Sometimes it is a mystery, large numbers show up and you wonder if Russian Bots have taken over. For this review I have simply used the data that Google has given me for my blogger site. I have not attempted to include the data from the second site on WordPress, even though there are more subscribers there. Blogger is where I started so I feel I should stick to that for a lookback on this Anniversary.

The first set of numbers for you was the easiest to obtain. This comes straight from the analytics of the KAMAD Site.

All Time Numbers

I see inconsistent numbers between the summary that Blogger provides and the individual numbers on the separate posts. Rather than argue about it, I will simply show you the numbers as I found them. I can say that the Post Most Visited on my site is consistent between the above total and the individual post total. You might wonder why “The Deep” is the most popular post in the ten years I’ve been working on this blog. My guess is that it is because of one of the pictures included in the post. Jacqueline Bisset in a wet T-Shirt probably comes up in an image search and perverts everywhere can’t resist. Click on the link provided and check for yourself.

The Original Project

I started this blog with a project, writing about the films I saw as a youth in the 1970s, in particular, Summer releases. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, about 95 films were included in that project. The numbers for that series of posts looks like this:

I have already explained why I think “The Deep” did so well. “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” is a perennial favorite with film fans so I’m not too surprised it drew a crowd. It is also a very personal reflection so I’m happy it made the list. The other three films are oddities that most people won’t remember, and this may be one of the few sites that bothers with them.

2011 The Launch of the Blog in It’s Current Form

When the new year came around, I switched the format of the blog to a review site, with the intention of posting a review of every movie I see in a theater. I don’t always post on second or third or more viewings of contemporary films, but I do often have a fresh post on classics, regardless of the number of times I have seen them [JAWS and Lawrence of Arabia come to mind].

I’m proud to say that “Jaws” makes it’s second appearance on the blog with the most popular post from 2011. This was part of a Robert Shaw Film Festival Event I ran on the site.  “Rubber” was a film I saw on the USC Campus. I was generous in my initial response by not hating it, but by the end of the year, I had put it in it’s proper place. The Robert Shaw Film Festival scored another spot on the most popular posts on the site with a James Bond Film, “From Russia With Love“.  “The Captains” is actually a VOD film that I went ahead and posted on because of the subject. We also went to three separate screenings of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, a Fathom Event that was an advertisement for the Blu-Ray release. “The Two Towers” got the most attention from my audience.

2012 Hitting My Stride

Once I got rolling, the blog became a ritual. I posted immediately after the film screening. I hated not having the review up as soon as possible. 2012 has the second largest number of entries of any year that I have done the site. It also contains one of my favorite film experiences of the whole decade, the lead up to “Skyfall“.

Although there are several 007 posts this year, it was my controversial review of “Cabin in the Woods” that got the most eyeballs. I was disappointed and everyone else was enthused. So maybe it is the counter direction that made it the post to see this year. I’m not sure why the Gothic horror film starring Daniel Radcliffe was number two, but it does feature scary little girls. Two of the thirteen James Bond posts that I did in relation to “Skyfall”  made this top five list. “Countdown to Skyfall Part Five” featured the Roger Moore era of James Bond films. “Countdown to Skyfall Part Four” featured the 007 outings of Pierce Brosnan.  “The Archlight Poster Wall” was a visual essay of envy.

2013  We Start Getting Serious

This was the year that I saw my first big jump in numbers and I think it had to do with the films rather than any internet trend or technology glitch. There is one film on the list that surprised me by it’s inclusion, but it does contain a reference to a major female star and near nudity, so that is probably the explanation.

One of the things that happens when you go on line is that you meet people. I started reading another blog and as I posted on his site, we started to become friendly. He told me of his childhood Thanksgivings being centered around “King Kong” on a New York TV Channels. That Inspired a Triple Feature on the Three major “King Kong Films“. Eric Friedman, you are responsible for my number one post this year. Simon Pegg’s starring role in Edgar Wright’s “The World’s End” made my end of the year list, so that combined with it’s cult status probably explains these numbers. “We’re the Millers” is the odd film out here. As I explained above, Jennifer Aniston has to be the reason. When I was a kid I followed baseball, but that was a long time ago. The Story of Jackie Robinson however is timeless ans it was also on my end of the year list so that is why “42” scored so many runs on this site. The timeless question we all ask each other, “What’s your favorite movie?” was answered by me this year. I had dozens of students ask the question so I created a post for them to find out. My love letter to “The Adventures of Robin Hood” makes the top five for entries of this year.

2014 The Blog Flatlines

For a three year stretch, the blog visits remained fairly static. It may be that people moved to Podcasts and I was not doing one at the time. Maybe the films were not as great, I don’t see many memorable blockbusters. I covered some offbeat films, and I did a year long project on another site, so maybe I was over extended. Here are the numbers that show what I mean.

Annabelle” is the only one of my video posts to make the top five list in any year. However, I always enjoy watching myself so maybe others did as well. “GumbyFest” was a special event that took place here in my current Hometown. It may have drawn non-film buffs to the post because of the location and subject. “Once Upon A Time in the West” is maybe my favorite Western, so It makes me happy that it is here, the screening was a classic revival at the Egyptian Theater. “When the Game Stands Tall” is an odd film to make the top spots, but it was close to being a faith based football movie so maybe I should not be blindsided here (LOL). Finally, the “Lawrence-a-palooza” post is a hub for several posts on one of my favorite films, so go look.

2015  Normalcy Returns

The numbers here make a little more sense. They are consistent throughout the whole year, and the highest numbers are associated with the two most frequent topics I cover on the blog. I suppose you always want the biggest audience you can get, I just hope that the folks who find their way to the site get something they can appreciate, learn from, or laugh at.

This year featured the last James Bond film to be released [“No Time To Die” I’m waiting for you]. In the run up to that film, I did another series of 007 posts. The leading post this year was a top 007 things I love about “From Russia with Love“. 2015 marked the 40th anniversary of the greatest Adventure film of the century. We love this movie and we went a little overboard this summer. We had four screenings of “Jaws” in theaters, in the same week. There were also a lot of posts on the subject. I put together a list of quotes, focusing on the less celebrated lines, from a terrific script that still gets quoted regularly. It was popular enough to be the second most visited post on my blog this year. Another marathon at the Egyptian Theater brought fans of Marty McFly to the site in swarms. Another post on the fish story, featuring a visit to a Westside Movie Palace was number Four on my list for the year. Rounding out the top five was the 007 Countdown for Roger Moore’s best outing as Bond.

2016 Another Dip

The visits remained relatively stable but lower for all of the top slots this year. I have no explanation as to why things went this way, but I do appreciate that three of the top five spots went to retrospective film experiences rather than a new blockbuster. I really need to do some more film festival style posts for the next ten years.

My favorite Charles Bronson film took the top spot among my 2016 posts. If you like a 70s slow burn, watch this movie. I cannot explain the appeal of readers for “Allied“, it was a kind of bomb and very old fashioned. I sort of liked it but not passionately. The reason for the high numbers for the Vitaphone Shorts post is simple. Ron Hutchinson, the late curator of the Vitaphone Project, shared my post with his followers. It was a kind gesture and I hope it continues to bring fans to this classic film format. Strother Martin cracks the top five for the year with his role in the second Charles Bronson film on this list. “Hard Times” is a great 70s film that was the debut of director Walter Hill. The last of the top five for this year was a post that included three movies that we saw in one day so I put all of the reviews in a single post. “Everybody Wants Some”, “Sing Street” and “Elvis and Nixon” are the featured films.

2017 Big Bounce

Russian Bots or good films? It is hard to figure which resulted in a tripling of the numbers for the top five posts in this year. I did see steady growth in the numbers through the year and the high points all hit when it was awards season, so maybe I should stop being overly suspicious and just accept that it was a good year for the blog.

The top post this year was on a film that was my least favorite of the Academy Award Nominees for Best Picture that season. “Call Me By Your Name” was the most boring film I saw since “The Tree of Life”. I am delighted on the other hand that the second most viewed post this year was my commentary on “Darkest Hour“, the well crafted and spectacularly acted film on Winston Churchill. I cannot explain why “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” is on this list. The post was brief and there was not a lot to say about the movie. Maybe the hashtags brought people to my site. I had to change my Top Ten list for the year when I saw “I, Tonya” at a late night screening on December 31. “White Christmas” is not my favorite Holiday film, but this year it was my favorite Holiday experience and the audience for this blog appears to have felt the same way.

2018 Suspicion

All of the top five for this year were in the first quarter. There was a drop off in numbers after March, so maybe European Crackdowns on internet sites had some impact on the numbers to my site. I do get traffic from around the world so policies in the EU might very well impact me. I can’t get data for the Worldwide audience for 2018 but this week’s audience for my site looks like this:

I wish I had kept track of the data for prior years but the Alltime numbers on the right list a suspicious category “Unknown Region” . This worries me a little.

Here are the top five posts by views from 2018:

The top post is a freeform article I did on Physical Media. Inspired by a Twitter Post, I shared my views on collecting physical media with several illustrations. I do think that pictures often bring eyeballs to the sight through Google images. “Den of Thieves” was a testosterone driven piece of January Action, not sure why it would be near the top. On the other hand, “The Florida Project” was a well respected indie film that I saw at an Egyptian Screening wit star Willem DaFoe. The next post is another unique one so I am not that surprised by it being here. It is an Unboxing Video for a James Bond Lootcrate style box. One of the dogs makes a guest appearance and that probably helps. I have a continuing series on the blog for “Movies I Want Everyone to See” [MIWETS], this is a carry-over from the series I did in 2013 for “Fogs Movie Reviews”, a defunct site that I wrote article for over a five month period. The numbers for the “Ishtar MIWETS” likely reflect that it was a Movie of the Month on the Lambcast, and I hosted and promoted that show with this post. I’ve included one other post on this list because I know why it was widely viewed. “The Assassin’s Code” was a film starring a podcaster/radio host that I follow, and I left links to my post on those social media sites.

2019  Back Where We Belong

The numbers settle down and are consistent throughout the year. It is possible that since I became co-host of the Lambcast, more people visit my site because I can promote new work each week on a media platform for movie fans. Every week all the guests get an opportunity to talk about what they are working on, and since I am on 90% of the shows these days, I get plenty of facetime. I recognize that all views do not equal a red of the material, but it is the one measure I have and it makes me happy to think there are a few hundred people listening while I go off on a rant or rave.

In similar fashion to the previously mentioned “Call Me By Your Name”, the most popular post from this year was maybe my least favorite film of the year. Having bitched about it frequently on the podcast, “The Lighthouse” drew a lot of spectators, just as a traffic accident does.  For a completely opposite reaction, I can proudly point to the post on a special screening of my wife’s favorite movie, “The Right Stuff” . The writer/director Phillip Kaufman spoke at this event. The political Documentary “No Safe Spaces” shows up on the list I’m sure because the groups who share it’s perspective certainty shared the post when they found it. I think some people want to live vicariously through the site, I mean I get to do some cool things because of where I live. The American Cinematique at the Egyptian Theater hosted a marathon of the three “Lord of the Rings” films in their extended editions. What self respecting geek would want to miss out on 14 hours of Hobbits, elves and Wizards? Finally, there was a lot of looking at a retrospective screening of “Meet Me in St. Louis”, another Fathom event that went over with my audience.

2020 Who Knows?

We were barely two months in, when the roof caved in on the theater business and everything else that was normal. It will be hard to assess this year when the time comes. There have only been 18 posts, and most of those are not on new films. For the record the top 2020 posts at the moment are

1. My Top ten List of Last Years Films

2. “Bad Boys for Life

3. “Underwater

4. “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in his own Words

The number one post is three times as visited as the others and they are all grouped together.

So that closes this navel gazing post. I have a few more 10 Year Anniversary posts that will be going up. Hope everybody will come back for the next ten years.

10 Music Related Posts From the Last Ten Years

I am not a musician, unless you count two years of piano lessons when I was eight. I do however love music and I really love film music. One of the things I’ve done over the past ten years is include musical movie related material on the blog. What follows are posts that highlight a musical event more than the visual splendor of a motion picture. Travel back in time [or measure] and check out some of the posts that should strike a right chord with you.



Like everyone, I love John Williams and his music, but my favorite film composer happens to be the late Jerry Goldsmith. 

Here you will find a tribute I wrote about him, his music and a DVD Concert that I owned and shared my thoughts on.

Another composer that I have been aware of for fifty years, but did not appreciate as much until more recently is Paul Williams.
The actor, singer and composer has also been President of ASCAP, and late in his career, people thought he had passed away years before. He was the the Subject os a documentary that I reviewed on the site, but before that film came out, I had a chance to experience the music from his film with Brian DePalma, and see him interviewed as well.
 
 

In recent years, many orchestras have created presentations of film music by replacing the scoring track on the film with live accompaniment. Inspired by that practice, some Film Archives have made Special Presentations out of films they control with their own cultivated orchestras. “The Godfather” is one of those films, this presentation played at several venues across the country.

Of course the greatest source of these types of presentations for me will be with my hometown heroes the Los Angeles Philharmonic. For a dozen non-consecutive years, I have been a series subscriber to the L.A. Phil at Walt Disney Hall. We always tried to include a presentation like this with our subscription, but if it was not available that way, we bought stand alone tickets.


L.A. Philharmonic West Side Story

We usually look for a special Christmas Event to share as a family each year. This sing-a-long presentation of “White Christmas ” was a lot of fun but there was no orchestral accompaniment. That seemed strange but a good time was had by all. 



“White Christmas” Sing-A-Long

 The masthead on this site tells you how important the movie “Jaws” is to me. The fantastic score to that film by John Williams is famously memorable with just a couple of notes. There is of course a lot more to the music than those notes however. This time the LA Phil is in their Summer Home, the Hollywood Bowl, hallowed ground for our family, we visited eight or ten times a summer for most of the years my children were growing up. This visit is bittersweet because it was the last time I went with my wife of 38 years, just a few weeks before her passing.


One more visit with the LA Philharmonic, this time it is mainly a concert rather than a film presentation. Oh there were film clips but we were not seeing a whole movie, rather the concert featured music that Stanley Kubrick included in his films. Some of it is very familiar but there were some esoteric choices as well.

 

This post is not strictly a film related post because the subject is the artist not a movie. Jeff Bridges is a fantastic actor, but he is also a talented musician and let’s face it, a fan like me can’t really miss an opportunity to spend some time with a film star, even when they are not acting. It was a weekend trip to Vegas and the Concert was a gas,

 


The most recent of my music related posts is from earlier this year. Again, it is not strictly a film experience, but since I have seen several versions of Hamlet on screen over the years, I felt obliged to share it on this site. I think it was a One Off booking, but if it shows up anywhere near you, I think you will enjoy the effort to make it work on a limited budget.





I had an insight on a Saturday morning a few years ago and I followed thorough with a post. There are some interesting similarities in the music of these two films and I just wanted to talk about it at the time. Maybe you will want to as well.



 

10 Year Milestone Number One: My Favorite Film of Each Year

I started blogging for my classes a little earlier than May, but the project that launched my movie blog started in May of 2010. A new class schedule was starting and I ended up with a three week gap between when my Spring Semester classes ended and my Summer classes began. Frustrated by the delay in getting started on the new term, I chose to fill some of the time with a project. I decided to write a post everyday that Summer on films I’d seen as a youngster growing up in the 1970s. I limited my selections to films that opened in the summertime and the posts were not always reviews, sometimes they were simple trips down memory lane. I posted something everyday from Memorial Day to Labor Day, hence the title of my blog.

There were a few random posts to fill out the year, including a top ten list, and then January 1, 2011,  I adjusted the blog to review/comment and report on film going experiences that were contemporary.  Most of the subsequent posts are immediate reactions posted the same day or one day later from the event. I decided that anytime I saw a film in a theater, there would be a post on it. So this blog has been a fairly accurate measure of my movie going but not necessarily my movie watching. Home video and streaming take up a lot of my time but it is rare that anything like that is included except for special occasions.

For the next few weeks, I’m going to post some lookback articles and add some commentary along the way. If you are a longtime reader, I hope you will enjoy the retrospective, if you are new to the blog, take a deep dive and look at some of the things from the last decade. Just because it did not come out this last weekend, is no reason to miss a discussion of a movie.

Favorite Films of Each Year of the Blog

2010

There may not be another movie on the list that is so satisfying to me as this pastiche comic book, comedy, action, superhero, movie geek porn.  I don’t have a full review of this because it came out before I started the project. I will have to do a retrospective review of my love for this movie at another time, let me simply say, I love all the characters in this movie, but Hit Girl is my favorite. The second movie was never going to be as great as the first but I enjoy it as well and there is a review of that on the site that you can find here.

2011

If ever a movie needed to be rediscovered on home video, this is it. This terrific story is brutal in the fight scenes and in the emotions that it forces us to face. The fact that it was not a box office hit just goes to show how marketing can fail an audience. People should have been embracing this movie and sharing it with their friends. I did what I could, and now I’m doing it again. If you have not seen this gem, put it at the top of your watchlist.

2012

You had to know there was going to be a James Bond film on the list somewhere. 2012 was when I became very active in a cinema blogging community as I discovered a number of sites that had enthusiastic 007 content. I did a series of posts in anticipation of Skyfall and we shared them on one site where everybody could collectively pump each other up for the film. I was so happy that it exceeded my expectations, and I was not the only one who had “Skyfall” as their top film that year.

2013

This movie was a complete surprise to me. I was surprised at where the story went, I was surprised by the actors who turned up in the film, and I was really surprised that Matthew McConaughey, was so good in the film. He won his Best actor Award the next year for a different film, but as often happens, the Academy was simply catching up for what they had missed in an earlier year. This is a small film, it is a coming of age story mixed with a crime thriller. It also has a couple of great performances by the young co-stars.

2014

One of the most brutal movies you will ever see, without violence. This was an emotional assault that spares no one. When you think of Frankenstein, do you see the Doctor or the Monster as the villain of the piece? This movie asks the same question. The cruelly sadistic teacher in pursuit of perfection meets his match in a surface level sympathetic character who may be as twisted by ambition as the “mentor” is in his objectives. Miles Tellar must have worked his butt off to be able to carry off the drumming sequences. J.K. Simmons however, will give you nightmares for the rest of your life. This movie was edited like a thriller and it will hold you in your seat as it bashes you around and wrings you out at the end.

2015

This is a basic science fiction idea, turned into a beautiful movie with some ugly people involved. The premise is as contemporary as you could wish for, but the ideas go back a century. What is human intelligence? Can a machine learn to be human? How will we be able to tell the difference between Human Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence? Oh, and just as you are getting comfortable with the philosophizing,  the story structure takes over and you will become emotionally invested and maybe heartbroken.

2016

I admit that I have cheated here. When my original list for the year went up, “La La Land was at the top. It was the stylized movie and the most beautiful I saw that year [barring Kubo and the Two Strings]. The more I watched “hell or High Water” however, the more I admired it and it’s performances. I wrote a second post for “Hell or High Water” for the Lamb, and I think that was the point where I could no longer decide which one I liked better. So this will be the one year where there is a tie. If you feel a compelling need to break the tie, flip a coin, I’ll be happy with either outcome.

2017

I rarely get embittered about the Academy Awards. They are often the Film Industry’s way of virtue signalling and will miss merit for a good social image at the drop of a hat. Somebody this year dropped a hat. “Dunkirk” is a movie about a critical historical moment that needs to be part of every persons knowledge of WWII. The fact that it lost to a fairy tale of invented prejudice, with a monster of a human being as the villain is unfortunate. This film tells three stories, set days, hours and minutes apart, and it does so coherently with craft that is hard to imagine. My second post for The Lamb was not second guessing, it was a second chance to champion this film.

2018

It’s a Wes Anderson movie, and it’s an animated movie, and best of all, it’s about dogs. This is incredibly inventive, a little weird but charming as heck. The effort to make the movie is worth of a high ranking, even if the film did not hold together. Joyfully for us, it does hold together very well. Amazingly enough, it not only was not nominated for Best Picture, it lost to another good film in the Best Animated Category. This was a perfect example of recency bias, as it came out early in the year and was neglected at awards time. That’s OK, I did not neglect, it was the Best Film I saw in 2018.

2019

A technical masterpiece that will seem to some a repeat of two years earlier. That’s because it was a war film which deserved so much more, that lost out to a virtue signalling Foreign Language thriller. The way the movie is shot, as a continuous  take, and the way it is photographed are marvels of modern film making.  You won’t feel like you are watching a movie, you will feel like you are living it.

Obviously these are all personal favorites. They may not represent in all cases my opinion of what the Best film of the year was, but rather, the one that I most appreciated.