MoviePass Adventures: Month 15

So here we are.  The first time in my time with MoviePass and I saw how many films with the service? Zero.  That’s right zero.  Between their scheduling of what select movies were available and their app not working right when there was a film I wanted to see, I saw zero films with the service.  Now, given that I’ve seen a lot of films with the service I will be kind and give it another month.  If they keep this up, I will have to cancel.  They will give me no choice.  However, I did see through AMC A-List these films in the last month: Mary Poppins Returns, Welcome to Marwen, Bumblebee, Aquaman, A Dog’s Way Home

Total films seen overall with MoviePass: 57

(Number of unique films seen overall: 55)

(Number of films seen with AMC A-List: 18)

(Number of unique films seen with AMC A-List: 16)

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2018 Year in Review

2018…the year is finally coming to the end.  This has been one of the toughest years for me.  I would say right there with 2013 with the level of toughness it’s been.  But by God’s grace I have made it to the end of the year.

Final reading list for 2018:

Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just by Timothy Keller

Replant: How Did a Dying Church Can Grow Again by Mark DeVine & Darrin Patrick

Transformational Discipleship:  How People Really Grow by Eric Geiger, Michael Kelley & Philip Nation

Street Gang:  The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis

The Stark Truth:  The Most Overrated and Underrated Players in Baseball History by Jayson Stark

Here We Stand:  Enduring Truth and the Reformation of the Church edited by Michael A. G. Haykin

I Will:  Nine Traits of the Outwardly Focused Christian by Thom S. Rainer

This is the 14th year of keeping track of books I’ve read. Here’s the number breakdown:

2005: 19

2006: 20

2007: 18

2008: 22

2009: 29

2010: 24

2011: 15

2012: 14

2013: 9

2014: 7

2015: 13

2016: 12

2017: 12

2018:  7

Here is what I learned in 2018:

1) Show love and grace to everyone.  You never know who is hurting and could use the support.  Even more so when you’re hurting love others.  It is helpful in healing.

2) Take it one day at a time.  Literally take things one day at a time.  Sometimes that’s all you can do to make it through the day.

This is a unusually short year in review.  Like I said, this was a very tough year for me.  I hope that 2019 will be a better year than 2018.  That is my prayer for me and for you

My Favorite Films of 2018

I have been for the last couple of years sharing what have been my favorite films of the year.  This will be tough because there were so many good films I saw, especially in the theater.  They are in no particular order except from around the beginning of the year until the end of the year:

Mary and the Witch’s Flower

A film with a definite Studio Ghibli vibe, this was the first film I saw in a theater in 2018 and immediately was one of my favorites.  The animation, the voice acting, it was all top notch.

I Can Only Imagine

Based on the life of MercyMe lead singer Mark Millard, it is one of the best film depicting the Christian faith I have seen.  There were several really good Christian films in 2018 but this one was the best and my personal favorite.

Ready Player One

I still need to read the book but the film version is tremendous.  Lots of good 80s and video game references and callbacks and the visual effects were great.  It was such a fun journey through the story.

The Miracle Season

Based on the true story of a girl’s volleyball team in Iowa that overcome the tragic loss of their team captain to win a state title.  It was so good I saw it twice in the theater.  One of my top five favorite sports films of all time.

Avengers: Infinity War

The culmination of ten years of Marvel Studio films, this first part of a two part saga was tremendous.  To see all the superheroes in one film was something I wouldn’t have ever imagined ten years ago but it was real and it was awesome.  I’m looking forward to next year and Avengers: Endgame

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

One of the best documentaries and probably my favorite of 2018, the story of Fred Rogers is one that is always good to remember and share with others.

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Sequel to one of my favorite films of 2015, this one did not disappoint.  I love how not only they did a great job continuing the storyline of the first film but also brought a fresh aspect to it with new characters and maturing of old characters.

Mission:  Impossible Fallout

The Mission: Impossible film series has seemed to have gotten better with each film especially the last couple of ones.  Fallout is not only right at the top of the series but one of my favorite films period.  It not only called back to previous films and tied up storylines from them but also sets the stage for always going forward with new stories.

Christopher Robin

This was a very fun movie (though I still think that Tigger looks off in this version).  It feels almost like an alternate reality of the real life Christopher Robin Milne that was portrayed in last year’s Goodbye Christopher Robin but I do love the story of this film and I always have a soft spot for Winnie the Pooh and the Hundred Acre Wood gang in my heart.

Operation Finale

Based on the true story of the capture of Adolf Eichmann, the acting in this film is top notch.  Both Oscar Isaac and Sir Ben Kingsley give award winning performances.

Little Women

A modern retelling of the classic novel.  I love how the filmmaker stayed true to the heart of the Alcott story while giving it a modern feel.  This was another film I saw twice in the theater because it was so good.

A Star Is Born

I had not seen the previous versions of this film but when the trailers dropped for it I was super interested and it didn’t disappoint.  Loved the performances of Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga (also Sam Elliott had a great supporting role as well).

The Old Man and The Gun

Based on the true story of career criminal Forrest Tucker, it’s one of the best performances of Robert Redford’s career.  It was both retro (given the time period) and modern at the same time.  I loved it.

The Front Runner

Based on the 1988 Presidental campaign of Gary Hart, it is a film very timely given the nature of politics in America today.  Hugh Jackman gave (in my opinion) an award winning performance and I walked out of the film wondering how things would’ve been different in America had things went differently in that 1988 election

Creed II

Sequel to the first Creed (which was one of my favorite films of 2015).  This one not only built on the legacy of the first film but also into the deeper Rocky franchise.  I loved how it tied a lot into Rocky IV (which is one of my favorite films of all time).  If they wanted to keep it going with a third film I would be more than happy to see it.

Green Book

Based on the true story of the friendship between Dr. Don Shirley and Tony “Lip” Vallelonga.  This was not only a well acted film but a great story told as well.

Mary Poppins Returns

The long (coming? awaited?) sequel to the the 1964 original film, Mary Poppins (this time played by Emily Blunt) returns to help the Banks family (the kids now grown up and one with kids of his own).  It is a fun film and definitely has that vibe that the original film had.

Bumblebee

This is the best live action Transformers film.  It definitely has the vibe of the 80s cartoon and animated film.  I would hope if they make more live action Transformers film, they abandon the canon of the earlier films and just start fresh with this one as the first one.

So that’s my list of favorite films of 2018. What is your list? Do we have similar films or are there other films that you have on your list? I’d love to hear what your films are and I’m excited to see what film will make the list in 2019

MoviePass Adventures: Month 14

Here’s what I saw with MoviePass this month (not including A Private War, Creed II, Wreck-It-Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet on AMC A-List)

1.) The Front Runner

The Front Runner is a film based on the true story of the presidential campaign of former Senator Gary Hart for the 1988 presidential election.  It covers the highest of highs to the lowest of lows from the man who was destined to become the next president only for that to be completely derailed.  I thought it was a very compelling film and Hugh Jackman did a tremendous job in it.

2.) Green Book

The film is based on the unlikely true life friendship of piano virtuoso Dr. Don Shirley and driver and bodyguard Tony “Lip” Vallelonga.  In the 1960s, they traveled through the country and particularly in the Deep South as Shirley performed concerts.  I really enjoyed the film.  Both Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen were great in it and I’ve always been a fan of Linda Cardellini.

3.) Mary, Queen of Scots

The film is based on the life of Mary Stuart, queen of Scotland and mother to James I, king of both England and Scotland.  The film goes into her life after she had returned to Scotland from France and her reign as queen of Scotland interpersed with her cousin Elizabeth I, queen of England.  The film itself was okay, like there were a lot of liberties taken with the historical account but the performances were good.

Total films seen overall with MoviePass: 57

(Number of unique films seen overall: 55)

(Number of films seen in 2018 with MoviePass: 43)

(Number of unique films seen in 2018: 42)

(Number of films seen with AMC A-List: 13)

(Number of unique films seen with AMC A-List: 11)

The Five: Five Favorite Film Franchises

It has been a while since my last “The Five”.  But I’m back and got another list of share.  With this being peak movie season, I was thinking about film franchises.  So I thought what are the five film franchises that are go to for me.  When I say “film franchises” there has to be at least five films (works well with “The Five” don’t you think).  As always, these are in no particular order:

1.) Star Wars

If there was a film franchise that would be the first to mention on any list of mine, it would be Star Wars.  Though ironically it took the prequels to qualify for this list.  I have always been a huge fan of the series and holds a special place in my heart.  Unfortunately it’s not without its clunker (The Last Jedi) but every film franchise on this list will have one.  But as a whole, I can go back and watch these films with great joy.

2.) Mission:  Impossible

Interestingly, this is the film franchise that I would say has gotten better with each successive film (which is a rarity).  I loved the TV series (both the 60s version and the 80s version which was what I got first introduced to as a kid)  So I was super interested when it hit the big screen.  Ironically, the first film is the clunker in the series to me (mainly because I hated they turned a beloved character into a villain).  But as time has gone on, the film series has gotten better with the latest film being right at the top.

3.) The Fast and the Furious

If there was an unlikely film franchise, this would be it.  I remember when the first one released and being in college and really enjoying it.  By the time they got to Tokyo Drift (which is the clunker), I figured the series was pretty much done.  But they seemed to reinvent themselves with Fast and Furious and since then have gone in over the top and wild directions and have been really entertaining.

4.) Godzilla

Talk about a long running film franchise that I love, Godzilla is that franchise.  There are essentially four eras of films in Japan (not to mention the American versions…but we’re not talking about the 1998 version..that’s an ultimate clunker) that span decades and yet the films made are ones that I find myself going back to watch over and over again, especially the Heisei era films of the 80s-90s.  Anytime I’m in the mood for watching some big monster battles, Godzilla is my go to franchise.

5.) Rocky/Creed

This film franchise is interesting because it was one I already enjoyed (minus the clunker that is Rocky V) but when Creed came along it added even more layers of depth and enjoyment to the franchise.  Beloved characters continue to be beloved and added along new characters that are just as beloved.  That is what a good franchise does.

MoviePass Adventures: Month 13

At this point, I’m surprised that I can still use my MoviePass.  But another month has gone by and was able to use it.  Here’s what I’ve seen this month (not counting seeing The Old Man & The Gun, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Grinch  with AMC A-List):

1.) Indivisible

Indivisible is based on a true story about a U.S. Military chaplain and his family and the ups and down and the celebrations and struggles of life in the military and serving in Iraq during wartime and coming home afterwards.  For a Christian film, it’s one of the better films I’ve seen because it deals with doubt and struggle in dealing with one’s faith lived out.

Total films seen overall with MoviePass: 54

(Number of unique films seen overall: 52)

(Number of films seen in 2018 with MoviePass: 40)

(Number of unique films seen in 2018: 39)

The Five: Five Favorite Super Smash Bros Characters

It’s been awhile since I’ve done “The Five” but I got inspired about the last Nintendo Direct talking about Super Smash Bros Ultimate that’s dropping on Nintendo Switch next month.  This is one of my favorite video game series and has been so much fun to play over the years.  So for this edition of “The Five”, I will look at my five favorite Smash Bros characters to use in the game.  So here are the five (in no particular order):

1.) Mario

The OG Nintendo character.  He’s always a good well rounded character to use so he’s helpful to those who are just starting the series or for those who are Smash veterans.

2.) Pikachu

I haven’t been one much into Pokemon games.  So Smash games were my way of getting to know some of the Pokemon characters.  Pikachu was always good due to his lightning strikes.  Anytime I needed a good spamming of attacks, I’d rely on Pikachu.

3.) Link

Another OG Nintendo character.  Link is great with his sword for close quarters attacks as well as his bow and arrow to attack at distance.

4.) Mega Man

Mega Man is a newer character to the Smash franchise (joining in the Smash Wii U edition).  But as soon as I used him for the first time I enjoyed it.  The Mega Buster cannon is great to attack from distance which can be helpful to keep enemies at bay.

5.) Cloud

He was added as DLC for the Smash Bros Wii U edition.  Of course being a character from one of my favorite games (Final Fantasy VII) he quickly became one of my favorite Smash Bros characters to use.

So this is my five.  What are yours?