Movie Project #6: Catch Me If You Can [2002]

Eric @ The Warning SignMoviesLeave a Comment

50 Movies Project #4: Contemporary Edition

The 50 Movies Project is an annual tradition at The Warning Sign. Every year, I select 50 movies that I feel I must see in order to continue my progression as a film lover. This year I’m focusing on contemporary films (1980 to present day) that I somehow haven’t gotten around to seeing yet.

Catch Me If You Can [2002]

Catch Me If You Can [2002] Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers: Jeff Nathanson (screenplay), Stan Redding (book), Frank Abagnale (book)
Country: USA
Genre: Biography/Crime/Drama
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken, Martin Sheen, Amy Adams
Running Time: 141 minutes

I’m always a sucker for “truth is stranger than fiction” narratives, which is why I made Catch Me If You Can one of my first selections from this year’s project. An imposter movie with Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken, a possibly rejuvenated Steven Spielberg… it has all the ingredients for a fun, memorable adventure. For the most part it works, but it doesn’t quite reach the levels it could have.

The story, set in the 1960s, is certainly interesting enough. DiCaprio plays a fresh-faced teen named Frank Abagnale, a con man who manages to pose as a pilot, doctor and lawyer all while earning himself millions of dollars by the age of 19. Tom Hanks is Carl Hanratty, an FBI bank fraud agent who catches onto Frank’s scheme and pursues him endlessly throughout the decade. Both are broken, lonely men who have pushed themselves beyond the point of exhaustion with their cat-and-mouse game. No matter what Hanratty does, Abagnale seems to be one step ahead of him.

Catch Me If You Can [2002]

It’s doubtful that Frank envisioned life as a con man, but his first taste of success pushes him farther and farther down the rabbit hole. If he could impersonate an airline pilot, gain access to their payroll system and even get invited into the cockpit on several flights — with minimal effort, mind you — why stop there? When Hanratty gets hot on his tail, Frank just shifts gears and becomes a doctor, somehow getting himself a supervisor gig at a hospital. At one point, Frank even pulls a fast one over Hanratty, escaping arrest by claiming to be a member of the Secret Service.

Watching Abagnale finagle his way out of tricky situations is always entertaining, though there are several moments that raise questions about just how true his claims really are. In particular, there is a scene near the end of the film in which he somehow manages to escape an airplane as it is landing — it’s as dubious as it sounds. As the film is based mostly on Abagnale’s own stories, it’s reasonable to assume he took some liberties in telling them. Perhaps in the end, he is still conning all of us watching his tale unfold on film.

Catch Me If You Can [2002]

And yet as wild and crazy as this story is, Spielberg never quite lets it reach the next level. The film overall feels safe and never really finds its footing. At times, it comes across as a comical, light-hearted adventure, while other times it gets bogged down by the drama surrounding the two leads. It’s still a fun watch, to be sure, but I can’t help but imagine how this would play out with an edgier filmmaker.

At the very least, the film does have a stellar cast to fall back on. DiCaprio and Hanks, though neither are at their best, are both effortlessly compelling, and they make for a memorable duo. Amy Adams, in one of her earliest roles, is a real highlight, playing the sweet and naive love interest of Abagnale. Christopher Walken is also terrific as Frank’s father who has issues of his own with the IRS.

Even with its flaws, Catch Me If You Can is a likable film that manages to make its extended running time feel shorter than it truly is. It’s not the best film from anyone involved, but it’s fine for what it is.

7/10

Eric @ The Warning SignMovie Project #6: Catch Me If You Can [2002]

Movie Project #5: The King of Comedy [1982]

Eric @ The Warning SignMovies18 Comments

50 Movies Project #4: Contemporary Edition

The 50 Movies Project is an annual tradition at The Warning Sign. Every year, I select 50 movies that I feel I must see in order to continue my progression as a film lover. This year I’m focusing on contemporary films (1980 to present day) that I somehow haven’t gotten around to seeing yet.

The King of Comedy [1982]

The King of Comedy [1982] Director: Martin Scorsese
Writer: Paul D. Zimmerman
Country: USA
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Starring: Robert De Niro, Jerry Lewis, Diahnne Abbott, Sandra Bernhard
Running Time: 109 minutes

(This post contains possible spoilers.)

“Better to be king for a night than schmuck for a lifetime.”

So says Rupert Pupkin (Robert De Niro) in his fame-making monologue near the end of The King of Comedy. In many ways, Pupkin is right. Many people would likely trade a life of unimportance for one night of fame and possible fortune. Rupert’s problem, however, is that he goes about his night as a “king” in about the most ridiculous way imaginable.

The 34-year-old Pupkin is a fame-seeking, wannabe comedian who worships the late night talk shows. His dream is to be the next Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis), the successful host of one such show. Rupert is determined to get his “big break” into showbiz, but he is completely devoid of a portfolio or any sort of real experience. He stays at home, seemingly in his mother’s basement, studies the talk shows and acts as if he is already a famous comedian.

The King of Comedy [1982]

Rather than start off doing small gigs while working his way up like a normal comedian, Pupkin decides he’s going to talk to Langford directly. While waiting outside of the TV studio, he manages to finagle his way into Jerry’s car and even get a ride from him. It’s an incredibly awkward encounter — Rupert just doesn’t know how to end a conversation — but Jerry is surprisingly tolerant. Their encounter ends with the talk show host vaguely suggesting he would check out Pupkin’s tape at a later point.

That’s all the incentive Rupert needs to keep bugging Jerry. He shows up at the TV studio, refusing to leave the waiting room until he gets to talk to Jerry. He shows up over and over again, as annoying as a mosquito that just won’t buzz off. Eventually, when Jerry’s secretary turns him down after finally listening to his recording, Rupert gets the hint. He’s not wanted there, so he’s going to have to take matters into his own hands. Together with the help of his friend, the equally deranged Masha (Sandra Bernhard, playing another celebrity-obsessed fan), the two of them kidnap Jerry and hold him hostage until Rupert gets to be on the talk show.

The King of Comedy [1982]

As Pupkin continues to grow more and more desperate to get his big break, the film often verges into uncomfortable territory. Pupkin is just such a gauche individual (perfectly played by De Niro, by the way), and some of his interactions are just unbearable. There were times where I wished I could just reach in and pull him away before he could embarrass himself even more. The problem there, however, is that he simply has no shame. He is determined to the point of exasperation. Perhaps most amazing is that Rupert’s obnoxious behavior makes it easy to empathize with Jerry Langford, even though the host is pretty much a smug asshole.

It’s clear that Rupert is delusional and suffers from some type of mental illness (in addition to his extravagant narcissism). He is constantly drifting in and out of daydreams; some are obvious fantasies, whereas others could go either way. If taken in its literal form, The King of Comedy appears to be well ahead of its time. The film shows the depths that someone will go to get famous, and it offers an equally important glimpse at how our society is apt to reward criminal behavior. In the end, Pupkin got the fame he wanted, much like Jordan Belfort in Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. And we, as a society, are eagerly there to soak it all up.

9/10

Eric @ The Warning SignMovie Project #5: The King of Comedy [1982]

Month in Review [February 2014]

Eric @ The Warning SignBooks, Movies, Television, Video GamesLeave a Comment

In order of viewing:
1) First Blood [1982] - 7/10
First Blood [1982]

2) Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky [1991] - 8/10
Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky [1991]

3) Miami Connection [1987]* - 8/10
Miami Connection [1987]

4) On the Road [2012] - 6/10
On the Road [2012]

5) No Country for Old Men [2007]* - 10/10
No Country for Old Men [2007]

6) Good Night, and Good Luck. [2005] - 8/10
Good Night, and Good Luck. [2005]

7) Say Anything… [1989] - 8/10
Say Anything… [1989]

8) Drug War [2013] - 8/10
Drug War [2013]

9) Fast Times at Ridgemont High [1982] - 8/10
Fast Times at Ridgemont High [1982]

10) The King of Comedy [1982] - 9/10
The King of Comedy [1982]

11) Election [2005] - 7/10
Election [2005]

* denotes rewatch

Video Games Completed:
1) DmC: Devil May Cry [PS3] - 8/10
DmC: Devil May Cry [PS3]

2) F.E.A.R. 3 [Xbox 360] - 6/10
F.E.A.R. 3 [Xbox 360]

3) Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken [PS Vita] - 5/10
Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken [PS Vita]

TV Shows Finished:
1) The Sopranos [Season 6A] - 10/10
The Sopranos [Season 6A]

2) The Sopranos [Season 6B] - 10/10
The Sopranos [Season 6B]

3) Dexter [Season 7] - 5/10
Dexter [Season 7]

4) Eastbound and Down [Season 2] - 7/10
Eastbound and Down [Season 2]

Books Read:
1) “No Country for Old Men” by Cormac McCarthy - 10/10
"No Country for Old Men" by Cormac McCarthy

Best of the Month: Ignoring rewatches, the best film I watched was easily The King of Comedy. My take on that one will be up later this week. I was also quite impressed with Johnnie To’s Drug War, which would likely make my top 10 of 2013 if I revised my list. For games, DmC was a nice surprise: a hack ‘n slash adventure with a deep combat system. And, of course, the final season-and-a-half of The Sopranos was incredible. The ending was absolutely perfect.

Worst of the Month: On the Road was a mediocre adaptation of one of my favorite novels. Rocketbird was a painfully mediocre side-scroller that I only finished due to its short length. The worst offender last month, however, was clearly Dexter. I’m only finishing the series for the sake of completionism, but I am regretting that decision every second. Amazingly, as bad as season 7 was, the finale is even worse. What a shame.

Eric @ The Warning SignMonth in Review [February 2014]

Movie Project #4: Fast Times at Ridgemont High [1982]

Eric @ The Warning SignMoviesLeave a Comment

50 Movies Project #4: Contemporary Edition

The 50 Movies Project is an annual tradition at The Warning Sign. Every year, I select 50 movies that I feel I must see in order to continue my progression as a film lover. This year I’m focusing on contemporary films (1980 to present day) that I somehow haven’t gotten around to seeing yet.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High [1982]

Fast Times at Ridgemont High [1982] Director: Amy Heckerling
Writer: Cameron Crowe
Country: USA
Genre: Comedy
Starring: Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Robert Romanus, Brian Backer, Phoebe Cates
Running Time: 90 minutes

Fast Times at Ridgemont High is a fun movie. It’s a bit strange saying that about a film involving statutory rape and an abortion, but there’s something to be said about its assortment of entertaining characters and future movie stars.

Based on Cameron Crowe’s novel in which he went undercover at a California high school, Fast Times covers the whole spectrum of student types. Jocks, stoners, nerds, middle-class kids and sexual deviants all have an equal amount of time to show us a glimpse into their worlds.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High [1982]

There’s Brad Hamilton (Judge Reinhold), a fast food manager who hates wearing their awful uniforms. Nevertheless, he is a strong older brother to Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a 15-year-old virgin who becomes obsessed with sex thanks to her best friend Linda’s (Phoebe Cates) constant praise of it. Stacy has a budding relationship with nice guy Mark Ratner (Brian Backner), though he may be too shy for his own good. Mark’s buddy, Mike Damone (Robert Romanus), a ticket-scalping slacker, tries to help him with the ladies.

At the center of it all is Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn), a surfer dude who has been “stoned since the third grade.” He is the best character in the film, hands down, mostly due to Penn’s hilarious performance. Spicoli is the kind of guy who just goes with the flow, getting high with his buds while showing up to class whenever he gets around to it. His constant truancy is the cause of a feud between him and his history teacher, Mr. Hand (Ray Walston), leading to some of the film’s most amusing moments.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High [1982]

There are a lot of characters to keep track of, and many of the random subplots are left unresolved, but the film never fails to be engaging. Much of this can be attributed to the screenplay, as well as its impressive cast of young actors. Fast Times served as a bit of a launching pad for so many careers. Aside from those listed earlier, others with memorable parts include the likes of Forest Whitaker, Eric Stoltz and James Russo. There’s even a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it role from Nicolas Cage (then Nicolas Coppola).

Although Cameron Crowe did not direct the film, his musical fingerprints are all over it. The music — which includes the likes of Jackson Browne, Don Henley and Billy Squier — is spot-on for its time period. There is a satisfactory amount of raunchiness, a seemingly obligatory part of any good teen film, with the highlight being one of the most paused scenes in movie history: Phoebe Cates emerging from the water and deciding her bikini top was no longer necessary. Fast Times at Ridgemont High is very much an 80s film and very much a teen film, but it earns high marks as both.

8/10

Fun fact: three actors in this film would go on to win an Oscar for Best Actor: Nicolas Cage, Forest Whitaker and Sean Penn.

Eric @ The Warning SignMovie Project #4: Fast Times at Ridgemont High [1982]

Movie Project #3: Say Anything… [1989]

Eric @ The Warning SignMoviesLeave a Comment

50 Movies Project #4: Contemporary Edition

The 50 Movies Project is an annual tradition at The Warning Sign. Every year, I select 50 movies that I feel I must see in order to continue my progression as a film lover. This year I’m focusing on contemporary films (1980 to present day) that I somehow haven’t gotten around to seeing yet.

Say Anything... [1989]

Say Anything… [1989] Director: Cameron Crowe
Writer: Cameron Crowe
Country: USA
Genre: Comedy/Drama/Romance
Starring: John Cusack, Ione Skye, John Mahoney, Lili Taylor
Running Time: 100 minutes

Is there a more iconic image of 1980s teenage romance than a young John Cusack standing outside of his ex-girlfriend’s window while holding a boombox over his head? Going into Say Anything…, that scene was pretty much all I knew about the film. It was a bit of a surprise then that this scene was so short. I sat there waiting for this magical moment, and then… she didn’t even look out the window! That’s cold, man. Cold.

John Cusack is Lloyd Dobler, a recent high school grad who is all about punk rock and kickboxing. On graduation day, he gets a wild idea: he decides to ask out Diane Court (Iona Skye), the smartest girl in school. His friends, a group of girls including Corey Flood (Lili Taylor), scoff at his idea, but he’s a man on a mission. He works up the courage to make a phone call and gets her dad, James (John Mahoney), instead. They have an awkward conversation (it ends with Lloyd saying “Good afternoon” in response to the dad’s “Good luck”), but it proves to be fruitful as she calls him back the next day. Much to Lloyd’s (and everyone else’s) surprise, she accepts his invitation to a party later that night.

Say Anything... [1989]

The two of them hit it off immediately and fall into a heated romance. However, there are two obstacles in the way of their relationship: 1) her overprotective father, and 2) Diane is moving to England after the summer. Her father means well — he has even taken certain illegal risks to make sure she can be as successful as possible — but he immediately looks down at the “basic” Lloyd. It’s a matter of two completely different social classes coming together due to an undeniable connection, but it’s a relationship that is difficult to sustain.

What impressed me about this conventional tale is that Lloyd is genuinely a great guy. Sure, he may not be sure what he wants to do with his life, but he knows how to treat a girl. Diane realizes this, too, but it’s her that has to do some growing here. It’s rare that a guy in romantic comedies comes across so well, so it’s refreshing to see things from this perspective.

Say Anything… [1989]

For this being a Cameron Crowe film, I was a little surprised to see music take a bit of a backseat here. There’s the seminal boombox scene in which Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” is the main focus, but other than that, the soundtrack is rather subtle. This is not a fault at all, just a bit unexpected.

There is a bit of melodrama near the end that feels caked on, but for the most part, Say Anything… hits all the right notes. It also certainly says something that such a small scene in the film has made an incredible lasting impression over the years.

8/10

Eric @ The Warning SignMovie Project #3: Say Anything… [1989]

Movie Project #2: Good Night, and Good Luck. [2005]

Eric @ The Warning SignMoviesLeave a Comment

50 Movies Project #4: Contemporary Edition

The 50 Movies Project is an annual tradition at The Warning Sign. Every year, I select 50 movies that I feel I must see in order to continue my progression as a film lover. This year I’m focusing on contemporary films (1980 to present day) that I somehow haven’t gotten around to seeing yet.

Good Night, and Good Luck. [2005]

Good Night, and Good Luck. [2005] Director: George Clooney
Writers: George Clooney, Grant Heslov
Country: USA
Genre: Drama/History
Starring: David Strathairn, George Clooney, Patricia Clarkson, Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Daniels, Frank Langella, Ray Wise
Running Time: 93 minutes

Good Night, and Good Luck takes us back to darker times in the United States, specifically the 1950s when the fear of Communism was running wild. The notorious Senator Joseph McCarthy only added to the hysteria by claiming that large numbers of Soviet spies had infiltrated the U.S. Government. This led to anyone with any connection to Communism, no matter how minute (or even non-existant), getting shunned by those in charge. Who knows what would have happened if CBS newscaster Edward R. Murrow didn’t call him out on his bullshit?

George Clooney’s second directorial effort tells the story of this very public feud between Murrow (David Strathairn) and McCarthy. Murrow first targets the senator’s unlawful attack against Milo Radulovich, a Michigan man who was forced to resign from the US Air Force merely because his father subscribed to a Serbian newspaper. This is only the tip of the iceberg, as the trial of Annie Lee Moss, an alleged spy inside the Pentagon, makes the news. Soon McCarthy is attacking Murrow directly, making false accusations about the newscaster being a past member of a communist organization.

Good Night, and Good Luck. [2005]

To Murrow’s credit, he is able to remain calm and level-headed even as he is knee-deep in McCarthy’s pile of lies. He is especially impressive in how he is able to convince his superiors — those who risk damaging certain professional relationships — to stick with him as he fights back against the delusional anti-Communism parade. His rational and sensible demeanor is expertly portrayed by David Strathairn, who got a well-deserved Oscar nomination for his performance.

While much of the focus is on Murrow and McCarthy (the latter of whom is only seen in archival footage), there are two other subplots involving those within CBS. Robert Downey Jr. and Patricia Clarkson play a married couple who are forced to keep their relationship secret due to laws within the company. Also, Ray Wise plays Don Hollenbeck, the host of the CBS News show that follows Murrow, as he struggles to deal with an often slanderous press. The latter storyline fits in perfectly with the overarching theme of the film, but the RDJ/Clarkson subplot received perhaps a bit too much attention. The film is relatively short — just 93 minutes — and it almost feels like their story arc was included to pad things out a bit. The rest of the newsroom is fleshed out with small, but crucial performances from the likes of Clooney himself, Frank Langella and Jeff Daniels.

Good Night, and Good Luck. [2005]

The film is authentic in its approach, with gorgeous black-and-white cinematography interspersed with actual news footage from the era. This provides an almost documentary-like feel to the proceedings, adding even more to the immersion into that era. You can almost smell the smoke-tinged air as everyone puffs away at their Kent-branded cigarettes. For the realism alone, the film succeeds.

It’s said that history repeats itself. Perhaps in 40-50 years, we’ll get another film of a similar nature, this time documenting the frenzy caused by the National Security Agency’s breach of privacy that is happening today. Perhaps now, more than ever, we need an Edward R. Murrow.

8/10

Eric @ The Warning SignMovie Project #2: Good Night, and Good Luck. [2005]

Movie Project #1: First Blood [1982]

Eric @ The Warning SignMoviesLeave a Comment

50 Movies Project #4: Contemporary Edition

The 50 Movies Project is an annual tradition at The Warning Sign. Every year, I select 50 movies that I feel I must see in order to continue my progression as a film lover. This year I’m focusing on contemporary films (1980 to present day) that I somehow haven’t gotten around to seeing yet.

First Blood [1982]

First Blood [1982] Director: Ted Kotcheff
Writers: David Morrell (novel), Michael Kozoll (screenplay), William Sackheim (screenplay), Sylvester Stallone (screenplay)
Country: USA
Genre: Action/Adventure/Drama
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Brian Dennehy, Richard Crenna
Running Time: 93 minutes

Before watching First Blood, I envisioned the character of John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) to be a shirtless, testosterone-fueled one man army armed with a machine gun and endless ammunition. This is the image that I had been fed through the pop culture canon over the years. I was a bit surprised, then, to find a mentally damaged Vietnam War veteran in place of the fearless commando I thought I knew.

First Blood begins with a shaggy-looking Rambo wandering the streets of a small town in the Pacific Northwest. The local sheriff, Will Teasle (Brian Dennehy), notices him walking about and forcefully “offers” a ride out of his town. After being dropped off, Rambo simply starts walking back the way he came, drawing the ire of the sheriff. Teasle arrests him for vagrancy and drives him back for a night in jail. Once there, the rest of the police force joins in on giving Rambo a hard time for no good reason. A few officers attempt to give him some unwanted grooming; when a razor is pulled out, Rambo has a flashback to being tortured in ‘Nam, and he panics. He fights his way through the entire building, steals a dirtbike and heads deep into the mountains, now a wanted fugitive.

The police force, equal parts stubborn and embarrassed, refuse to back down, and soon tracking dogs, the State Patrol and the National Guard are all brought in. Little do they know that Rambo is a former member of an elite Special Forces unit, and the odds are actually against *them* to survive. Rambo’s mentor, Colonel Sam Trautman (Richard Crenna), arrives in an attempt to talk sense into both sides, but by then it’s all too late — this is war.

First Blood [1982]

The idea of Rambo taking on an entire town’s worth of enemies is a bit ridiculous, but it never feels as outlandish as other 80s action flicks. Stallone does a tremendous job of getting us to be on his side, even as he lays waste to a poor, innocent town. He even gets to show off his acting chops in a surprisingly touching final act. The closing scene with his Colonel is what really pulls everything together, and it provides some sort of meaning to what had until that point been a relatively run-of-the-mill action film.

First Blood still has its issues — the policemen are stereotypical villains with no depth, for one — but damn if it didn’t leave on a high note. Now if only that godawful “It’s a Long Road” song didn’t play over the end credits…

7/10

Eric @ The Warning SignMovie Project #1: First Blood [1982]

Month in Review [January 2014]

Eric @ The Warning SignBooks, Movies, Television, Video GamesLeave a Comment

In order of viewing:
1) Sightseers [2012] - 7/10
Sightseers [2012]

2) Disconnect [2012]- 8/10
Disconnect [2012]

3) Don Jon [2013] - 7/10
Don Jon [2013]

4) The Last Stand [2013] - 7/10
The Last Stand [2013]

5) Oblivion [2013] - 6/10
Oblivion [2013]

6) Resolution [2013] - 6/10
Resolution [2013]

7) Her [2013] - 8/10
Her [2013]

8) Dallas Buyers Club [2013] - 8/10
Dallas Buyers Club [2013]

9) We’re the Millers [2013] - 6/10
We're the Millers [2013]

10) The Wolf of Wall Street [2013] - 9/10
The Wolf of Wall Street [2013]

11) Upstream Color [2013] - mindfuck/10
Upstream Color [2013]

12) Ain’t Them Bodies Saints [2013] - 7/10
Ain't Them Bodies Saints [2013]

13) Short Term 12 [2013] - 7/10
Short Term 12 [2013]

14) The Act of Killing [2013] - 8/10
The Act of Killing [2013]

15) Fruitvale Station [2013] - 8/10
Fruitvale Station [2013]

16) The Spectacular Now [2013] - 7/10
The Spectacular Now [2013]

17) Prisoners [2013] - 8/10
Prisoners [2013]

Video Games Completed:
1) Assassin’s Creed II [Xbox 360] - 8/10
Assassin's Creed II [Xbox 360]

2) Gone Home [PC] - 9/10
Gone Home [PC]

3) Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons [Xbox 360] - 8/10
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons [Xbox 360]

4) Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate [PS Vita] - 6/10
Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate [PS Vita]

5) Outlast [PC] - 8/10
Outlast [PC]

6) Resistance: Burning Skies [PS Vita] - 5/10
Resistance: Burning Skies [PS Vita]

TV Shows Finished:
1) The Sopranos [Season 5] - 10/10
The Sopranos [Season 5]

2) 30 Rock [Season 6] - 8/10
30 Rock [Season 6]

Books Finished:
1) “Life Itself” by Roger Ebert - 9/10
"Life Itself" by Roger Ebert

Best of the Month: For movies, The Wolf of Wall Street was every bit as crazy as I hoped. It came in at #4 in my top 10 films of 2013 list. I spent a fair amount of January catching up on last year’s films via Redbox and Netflix, of which Disconnect, The Act of Killing, Fruitvale Station and Prisoners impressed me the most. For video games, I absolutely loved Gone Home. It’s a short playthrough — about the length of a movie — but it provided an unforgettable experience.

Worst of the Month: I hesitate to call it the *worst*, but Upstream Color completely baffled me. I may have to give it another go someday, especially after reading Alex Withrow’s great interview with the actor, Andrew Sensenig. Nothing I watched last month was inherently bad, but Oblivion and We’re the Millers were run-of-the-mill sci-fi and comedy films, respectively. For video games, Resistance: Burning Skies was an uninspired FPS that I only completed due to its very short length. When compared to Killzone: Mercenary, its weaknesses are especially glaring.

How about you? What was your favorite film/game from last month?

Eric @ The Warning SignMonth in Review [January 2014]

Top 10 Albums of 2013

Eric @ The Warning SignMusicLeave a Comment

Last year was full of unexpected comebacks in the music scene — Daft Punk, Boards of Canada and My Bloody Valentine all put out new material for the first time in years — and it resulted in one of the best years in some time. Here are my personal favorites:

Honorable Mentions: Bonobo – The North Borders, Gold Panda – Half of Where You Live, Mayer Hawthorne – Where Does This Door Go

10) !!! – Thr!!!er
!!! - Thr!!!er
9) Moderat – II
Moderat - II
8) Kanye West – Yeezus
Kanye West - Yeezus
7) Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest
Boards of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest
6) Fuck Buttons – Slow Focus
Fuck Buttons - Slow Focus
5) The Field – Cupid’s Head
The Field - Cupid's Head
4) Arcade Fire – Reflektor
Arcade Fire - Reflektor
3) Disclosure – Settle
Disclosure - Settle
2) The National – Trouble Will Find Me
The National - Trouble Will Find Me
1) Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

Individual tracks from each album:
!!! – “Slyd
Moderat – “Versions
Kanye West – “Blood on the Leaves
Boards of Canada – “Jacquard Causeway
Fuck Buttons – “Brainfreeze
The Field – “Cupid’s Head
Arcade Fire – “Here Comes the Night Time
Disclosure – “White Noise
The National – “Don’t Swallow the Cap
Daft Punk – “Lose Yourself to Dance

For once, I actually agree with the Grammys. How about you? What are your favorite albums from last year?

Eric @ The Warning SignTop 10 Albums of 2013

Top 10 Video Games of 2013

Eric @ The Warning SignVideo GamesLeave a Comment

Last year was another terrific one for gaming, as no less than three games received perfect scores from me. It was another strong year for indies as well, especially on the PC and PS Vita. There were still plenty of titles that I didn’t get to play (Assassin’s Creed IV, Saints Row IV, XCom: Enemy Within, and pretty much every Nintendo game), so this may have to be updated at some point. For now, here are my top 10 video games of 2013:

Honorable mentions: Tomb Raider, BattleBlock Theater, The Stanley Parable, Killzone: Mercenary, Muramasa Rebirth

#10 – Rogue Legacy
Rogue Legacy
#9 – Tearaway
Tearaway [2013, PS Vita]
#8 – Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons [Xbox 360]
#7 – Defiance
Defiance [Xbox 360, 2013]
#6 – Outlast
Outlast [PC]
#5 – Dragon’s Crown
Dragon's Crown [PS Vita/PS3, 2013]
#4 – Gone Home
Gone Home [PC]
#3 – Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V [Xbox 360]
#2 – Bioshock Infinite
Bioshock Infinite [Xbox 360, 2013]
#1 – The Last of Us
The Last of Us [PS3]

What was your favorite game of 2013?

Eric @ The Warning SignTop 10 Video Games of 2013