2017 has been a year of all-time favorites (when I couldn’t have needed them more)

2017 has been a tough year, for a lot of reasons that don’t need to be rehashed here. On the flip side of that toughness, though, is one of the best years I can ever remember for movies and video games. Over the past 11 months, there have been two new entries on my all-time favorites lists for movies and video games* with other possibilities still on the way.

*These lists do not actually exist in any fixed form. Maybe I’ll write them up soon.

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An Update, and Some Things I’ve Enjoyed

If you’re among the ones of readers I have for this blog, you may have noticed I took last week off. After a long, sleep deprived weekend in Austin for the Austin Film Festival and Conference, I needed a break. It was nice to not worry about what I was going to post on here for a few days, even if I was sick the whole time. I’m still sick, by the way.

Moving forward, I’m going to be putting a little less time into blogging and more into my creative writing. Posts here are still going to be (fairly) regular, but they’re not going to be daily. I’m thinking it’ll be in the two to three times a week range, but I’m not promising anything.

That’s not quite true. I am promising I’ll be posting some bits and pieces of whatever creative work I end up doing, and I’ll be posting any short stories I write in their entirety for the foreseeable future.

That’s enough housekeeping. Let’s get to the entertainment I’ve been spending my time with.

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A Quick Update

I’m not going to be writing reviews anymore. Not formal, analyze every aspect of a piece of media and throw a rating on it reviews, anyway. I’ve been moving in this direction anyway, but it’s time to make the call and make it official.

I love movies. I love video games. I love TV (when I actually get around to watching it). I’m going to focus my writing on those topics on that love more often than not. I’m not saying I’m only going to say good things or I’m only going to write about things I like, but there’s something to be said for reacting to something, to anything, emotionally and leaving it at that.

There’s a place for the technical, detail-oriented discussion, but I’m realizing that place just isn’t for me. Maybe what I’m writing could still be considered reviews. Maybe it would still be possible to slap a score on them and call it a day. To be honest, I don’t really care about that.

Movies, games, and TV (not to mention everything else) would be nothing without emotional impact. I’m going to see and play things, and I’m going to have reactions to them. I’m going to try to capture those reactions, those raw emotions, as often as I can. I’m going to try to focus my writing on here on those emotions, and on the works that really draw those emotions out of me.

I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

 

 

On The Most Important Part of Travel Planning

Traveling is great. Going new places, having new experiences, getting out of your comfort zone. Traveling is also terrible, for pretty much every other reason out there. That’s why proper pre-travel planning is incredibly important. Not flights, hotels, and ground transportation. All of these are important parts of planning for any trip, but they’re not important. They make travel possible, but they don’t make it bearable.

Travel, like so much in life, comes down to a single question: How will I keep myself entertained?

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Too Much Driving Weekend Recap

I spent the entirety of this past weekend driving to, hanging out in, and driving back from Vermont with my wife and dog. Nature’s really beautiful sometimes, but it’s just not the same as staring at a screen for an extended period. Good thing I still found some time to do that.

Here’s everything I watched and played this weekend (including an incredibly enjoyable second time watching Wonder Woman, this time at home in glorious 4K):

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MoviePass: A Timeline of The First Six Weeks (Of Not Having My Card)

I, like many others, decided to give MoviePass a shot when its price dropped to the surprisingly low $9.95 a month. It was a great deal. So great I just couldn’t pass it up. So great the company was bombarded by people trying to sign up and the site wasn’t accessible. I gave up on trying to get things to work right away, but I eventually signed up on September 5. I’d planned on trying things out for a month and writing a review/summary of my experience with it.

MoviePass had something else on its mind, and I still don’t even have my card. Let’s take a look at what exactly has happened:

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Friday the 13th Weekend Recap

We’re officially into the second half of October, and I’ve once again become painfully aware of the speed of time whipping by and the crushing relentlessness of adulthood. Or maybe I’ve once again realized we’re closing in on the end of the year and that’s it. There’s really no way of knowing which it is. Here’s everything I watched and played this weekend to stave off the advancement of time:

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Five horror movies I love—and five I’m embarrassed to admit I haven’t seen

It’s October. It’s Friday the 13th. How could I not write about horror movies today? This is in no way an exhaustive list on either side, but here are five horror movies I love and five I should have seen a long time ago but still haven’t for whatever reason. I’m leaving the past few years out of this, which knocks a ton of great movies out of contention—including It Follows, The Babadook, and two of this year’s best movies: Get Out and It.

Let’s get down to it.


Love: 28 Days Later

28 Days Later

Post-apocalypse + horror + hope = a movie made for me. Danny Boyle and Alex Garland’s 28 Days Later is terrifying both in the moment and after the fact, and it stuck with me more than most other movies of any kind after watching it. It breathed new life into the zombie subgenre while not really being a zombie movie, and its assured, frantic direction elevates the suspenseful story from greatness to excellence.

 

Shame: The Thing

The Thing

This is, unfortunately, not the only time a John Carpenter movie is going to show up on the wrong side of this list. Everything I’ve heard and read about The Thing tells me I’ll love it whenever I finally get around to being a decent horror fan, but I’m a little worried my expectations have gotten out of control.

Love: The Cabin in the Woods

The Cabin In The Woods

The Cabin in the Woods is lightning in a bottle. It’s a great horror movie and an even better deconstruction of horror movies. It captures all the good of slashers and amplifies it with the perfect dose of self-aware humor. It’s never really scary, but its perfectly paced shifts between horror and comedy make it immensely watchable.

Shame: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Tobe Hooper’s 1974 film helped shape nearly every horror movie that came after it, and it’s widely considered to be a classic. So of course I haven’t seen it.

Love: Paranormal Activity

Paranormal Activity

There were several mid-to-late 2000s horror movies that could have gotten the nod here, but none affected me quite as much as Oren Peli’s Paranormal Activity. It isn’t my favorite horror movie, but Paranormal Activity‘s masterful, perfectly paced escalation of tension and suspense is undeniable. The fact that it was done on almost no budget and led to a massive franchise is impressive, but it’s the superb build and payoff of this film that stands atop the franchise’s accomplishments.

 

Shame: Suspiria

Suspiria

Everything I’ve heard about Suspiria paints it as a must-see horror film. It’s thrilling, bloody, artful, and stylistic, and it’s completely unacceptable that I haven’t seen it. At least with this one I have the excuse that it’s not exactly easy to see in the US. Hopefully the impending remake will change that.

Love: Alien

Alien

There’s no denying that Aliens outshines its predecessor in almost every way, but it’s impossible to replicate the tension and and isolation of Ridley Scott’s 1979 masterpiece. It’s one of the best and most important movies ever released, blending horror and science fiction with a tremendous performance from Sigourney Weaver. It just might be the perfect horror movie.

Shame: Halloween

Halloween

So, uh… yeah. There’s no excuse for this. I know that. Modern horror movies wouldn’t exist as we know them without Halloween

Love: The Blair Witch Project

The Blair Witch Project

The Blair Witch Project can get almost unwatchable at times. At most times, even. Heather, Josh, and Mike’s bickering is painful more often than not, but it’s also real. Put in the movie’s situation, I have no doubts that most people would fall into the same patterns of The Blair Witch Project’s characters. It’s tense and thrilling in its early moments, and there’s little out there that matches the all-out horror of The Blair Witch Project‘s third act.

Shame: Don’t Look Now

Don't Look Now

This one’s been on my watch list for a while, just waiting for me to rent it and dive in. There’s just something about the blending of horror cinema with unbearable grief that’s kept me from getting there, though.


Have a good weekend. Watch some horror. Let me know what you’re watching, and what I need to watch, in the comments.