The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Films I’ve Watched in March 2020

If we’re going to be whipped up into a frenzy then locked out of social gathering options, then I guess I’ll return to writing things on this occasionally-defunct blog. We all know full well that my first love is writing, even if I’ve never quite had the wherewithal to make money at it directly. (I write in professional capacities but you know what I mean.)

I’m still podcasting, though in a much more limited capacity with only one show currently, down from my peak of four (or was it five?) weekly shows at the same time.

Maybe someday I’ll increase the amount I’m podcasting again, but even before the current madness I felt fairly overloaded and burnt out. I’m still doing a Star Wars show, Aggressive Negotiations, while I figure out if there are additional formats and concepts to which I want to lend my talents. There’s also a secret, special project in the works.

Of course, since I’m talking about my voice, I’d be remiss not to mention the audio adaptation of the original Star Trek V: The Final Frontier script where I played Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy. It was a lot of fun. Give it a listen.

OK, fine. I’m still kind of busy.  At least I’m not some jackanapes secretly shilling for corporate masters without direct pay and angling for red carpet invites on a fan blog.

Oh that’s right. I went there.

Back to the Matter at Hand

Since the title of this blog is “Easing Back Into It,” I’m just going to start off with a list of films I’ve watched and/or revisited since the current mania took hold.

If, for some reason, you want to keep up with what I’m watching, seek out the username “kesseljunkie” on Letterboxd. I log everything there because if services are going to steal my data and sell it to foreign governments and social media ad agencies, I might as well keep track of my movies. All the movies logged here will have links to their respective reviews on that service.

Why I Started with March

I knew that as soon as Matt Drudge started hyping things with bold headlines and red text, the tone and tenor of things would shift gears. That doesn’t have anything to do with wisdom, just the experience of living in the era of the Bad Hatted One has taught that he’s been a bellwether for decades.

I didn’t anticipate the lack of toilet paper at the stores, though. I swear there are certain things I’ll never figure out about y’all and your panic reactions. It’s like we have this primal urge to wipe our butts at the first sign of any trouble. Ask people who grew up in the DC Metro area about what people bought at the first forecast of a potential snowstorm and they’ll simply chuckle and nod knowingly.

For the sake of this blog, I’m just starting the clock at the beginning of March 2020. I had my eye on things across the Pacific before that, because that’s the sort of guy I am, but it seems like a good starting point. The first film was also watched on February 29, but that’s a non-existent fake thing that doesn’t really exist, like Daylight Savings Time, so it counts as March.

Well, they’ll chuckle as soon as they get their car fixed and wipe their butt. But not necessarily in that order. Man, I’m kinda glad I never need to deal with snowstorms again.

An Interesting Observation

The good films I’ve watched have, for a time, started to outnumber the bad, or even the ugly. This is surely a sign of stress in my life, since usually I exercise far worse choices in my entertainment options. Perhaps there’s an inversion principle at play, like when a friend who’s knowledgeable about one specific thing decides they’re automatically knowledgeable about all things for the sake of an argument.

I’ll have to keep an eye on it and see if, as the stresses balance themselves out, I express the return to normalcy by watching bad things on Amazon Prime regularly again. I promise you that Lord Bezos’ algorithms know the sweet spot to deliver that late-night UHF experience to those of us having trouble sleeping. (If you’re too young to understand what that means, it means you’re too young to understand a lot of things…even if you think you do.)

The Good Films I’ve Watched Recently

Anyway, here’s the list of The Good. This includes things that I’ve rewatched for various reasons.

The Game (1997) – The emotionally touching and magnificent third film from David Fincher. Starring Michael Douglas and subverts expectations in an intelligent and meaningful way, while being well-written and structured intelligently. Something that not everything that “subverts expectations” does.

The Edge (1997) – Scripted by David Mamet, and starring Alec Baldwin, Anthony Hopkins, and a bear. Unjustly overlooked and massively interesting film.

Color Out of Space (2019) – An adaptation of an HP Lovecraft tale, starring Nicolas Cage. If that doesn’t get you to watch, I don’t know what will.

Fighting with My Family (2019) – Cheeky and heartwarming adaptation of a true life story.

Mandy (2018) – Also starring Nicolas Cage. One of the craziest movies I’ve watched in recent years. You’ll never forget it. Makes for one hell of a double feature with Color Out of Space.

Fight Club (1999) – Another David Fincher film! Effortless masterwork. Cultural touchstone. Still a classic.

Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) – You: “But I hate Episode I!” Me: “That’s because you’re a philistine.”

Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) – You: “LULZ I hate this one too and people who like it are stupid.” Me, in Southern drawl: “I know. Let’s have a spelling contest.”

The Last Movie Star (2017) – It’s good enough, but never quite rises to the level of Burt Reynolds’ performance. Gets a little too silly for its own good at the end.

Frozen II (2019) – Predictable and flat at points. The plot made me nickname it something playful, but you’ve got to send me a direct message to find out what. Olaf steals the show again. Brilliant use of the technology, though. The animation is stunning at points.

Alien (1979) – Showed it to my kid. She pronounced that it is “Good.” She may remain in the family.

Club Dread (2004) – I would completely understand if someone didn’t like it. It’s a silly, completely forgettable send-up of slasher flicks. It’s the sort of movie Kevin Smith thinks he’s making.

Aliens (1986) – Showed it to my kid. She was a little bored in the first half, then really invested in the last half and stated if they’d killed certain characters she’d go out and find the director and hurt him. I’m…going to hold off on showing her Alien 3.

Panic Room (2002) – This is another Fincher film (this should be serving as a hint about something if you paid attention from the start), and a good one. It’s just not a great one.

The Bad Films I’ve Watched Recently

Here we get to The Bad, which are admittedly far fewer in number than usual.

Kill Chain (2019) Nicolas Cage has a fearless filmography lately, and every so often he delivers a stinker. But if the exchange is that I get a Mandy or a Color Out of Space in the exchange, then I AM FINE WITH THAT. And honestly, it’s just that this movie is a weak imitation of 1990s Tarantino, so it’s not even that it’s “godawful,” it’s just so bland and haphazardly created that there’s no way I could recommend it.

Moonshine County Express (1977) – John Saxon in a low-budget hixploitation flick? Like there was any way I wouldn’t watch it. Don’t judge me!

The Ugly Film I Watched Recently

There’s only one “ugly” film, courtesy of the only known director – outside of Neil Breen, who isn’t really known – to have a whopping four entries on my “Worst Movies I’ve Ever Seen” list. And trust me, when I hate a movie, it’s with good reason.

Jay and Silent Bob Reboot (2019) – There’s lazy, and then there’s Kevin Smith. Imagine getting locked in a room with someone you knew in high school who never learned any new jokes. And the galling experience of knowing he’s making more money than you. I know one person who thinks it’s one of the best movies he’s seen in the last year, but then I’m pretty sure that his inner film critic suffered some sort of serious injury and is just sending random signals begging for the pain to stop.

In Conclusion

So that’s what I’ve watched in March 2020, so far. As I write this there are still a few days left, so I might even cram another entry on here because I’m an overachiever like that.

I admit that it’s sort of a lame way to start blogging again. As a counterpoint, you chose to read it anyway. So you have no one to blame but yourself.

Oh, and as a final note, it’s not that I watch too many movies. It’s that you watch too few.

I doubt, however, if I’ll ever see as many movies as these guys did.

5 thoughts on “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Films I’ve Watched in March 2020

  1. Alot of Nick Cage in your life lately. Moderation pal, moderation. I also think The Edge is an underrated film.
    I watched “Yesterday” (first time) and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (can’t quite figure out why I like this movie so much) last week. Enjoyed both.
    Hit me with your Frozen 2 rename.


    1. I completely agree that The Edge is underrated. It’s definitely got this strange vibe that’s more of a “stage” setup than a film, though. But I think that goes with Mamet’s intense focus on tightly defined character situations. Was kind of a treat to revisit it; I was actually one of the 10 people who saw it in the theater.

      The nickname I gave Frozen II was “Frozenhantas.” A lot of that earth, wind, and fire stuff (without the music!) in the enchanted forest, and a fair amount of the “look back on history with different eyes” angle. I thought it was enjoyable enough, but was really Olaf’s show. It also had trouble with its focus, sort of like how a Star Trek:The Next Generation movies couldn’t overcome the ensemble approach.

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