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My 2013 at the Movies, Part 1 of 2: the Year’s Least Best

The Rock, Bruce Willis, GI Joe Retaliation

John McClane and the Scorpion King: sequel survivors perpetuating the vicious circle of lame.

Once again January is National List Month, that magical time of year when everyone’s last twelve months of existence must be dehydrated, crammed into enumerated little packets, and lined up on the shelf in subjective order for re-inspection. MCC’s first full calendar year consequently allowed me to submit entries for everything I saw in theaters in 2013. Even if this site didn’t exist, since 2000 I’ve saved lists of every trip I’ve made to the cinema, year by year. The best part of this compulsion is rereading previous years’ lists and seeing names I no longer remember. (Disney’s Teacher’s Pet? Past Me swears my son and I saw it, but we’ve mutually wiped it from memory.)

The final tabulations reveal I saw twenty-five films in theaters in 2013 and one via On Demand while it was still in limited art-house release. This count doesn’t include five 2012 films I attended in 2013 for Oscar-chasing purposes, or any old films I watched on home video. Because lists such as this one must have rules.

Links to past reviews and musings are provided for historical reference. On with the reverse countdown, then:

26. GI Joe: Retaliation. Once again Hollywood forgets the lessons learned from Halloween 3 and Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift — i.e., if you dump too much of the original cast, why even bother with a theatrical release? While Ray Park is good for a few minutes of aerial man’s-man ballet, Bruce Willis and the Rock are called in as scabs from other macho action series to shoulder the rest of this silly, overlong commercial for military weaponry and boys’ toys, in that order.

This way for #25 through #14…

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Advance Review: “Broken City”

Mark Wahlberg, "Broken City"Some evenings at the theater, the marquee only has two choices: $200 million action blockbusters and $5,000 found-footage camcorder flicks. If you’re yearning for a simple, mid-sized film with no CGI monsters and at least two famous actors, Broken City offers an R-rated option for fans of crime drama in general and tough-talking guys in particular. It’s a capable primer for anyone who’s never seen a film about political scandal or government corruption, and comfort food for those who can’t get enough of watching little guys taking down big dogs.

Mark Wahlberg is Billy Taggart, a former policeman who lost his badge over a controversial incident involving a homicidal rapist. He now runs his own PI business, though his clients are mostly deadbeats and his photos are amateurish. Russell Crowe is NYC Mayor Nicholas Hostetler, up for yet another reelection and riding high publicity on the sale of the low-income Bolton Village tenement area for a cool four billion bucks, nicely covering the city’s billion-dollar deficit and leaving plenty of surplus to earn him good Election Day will. Hostetler faces challenges on two fronts: his election opponent, smarmy upper-crust councilman Jack Valliant (Barry Pepper, who turns from stiff-upper-lip to unsettling devastation when things go wrong for him); and his wife Cathleen (Catherine Zeta-Jones, an Oscar-winning placeholder), who may be cheating on him. Or he may be paranoid. Or evil.

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MCC Request Line #6: “Les Miserables”

Hugh Jackman, Les MiserablesWelcome once again to the Midlife Crisis Crossover Request Line, in which recommendations from MCC fans send me reading, viewing, and reviewing assorted art and art-like objects, either because they want a proxy to evaluate the damage, or because my life won’t be complete without seeing them. Today’s suggestion came from Niki, one of MCC’s most dedicated fellow Bunheads fans. (Believe it or not, I hadn’t forgotten!)

Today’s subject: The world-famous Les Miserables, the mammoth French novel turned immortal Broadway play turned Hollywood film (not for its first time), today nominated for twelve Academy Awards. Niki’s original suggestion was for any version of the tale, but for some reason our local big-box stores have yet to be flooded with copies of the previous Liam Neeson/Geoffrey Rush version. The touring version of the musical performed in Indianapolis at some point, but that was before I received the suggestion. Blame the timing.

What I knew beforehand: It’s a big, famous book. More people have probably seen the musical than read the book. I knew it had characters named Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert, whose cat-and-mouse routine was an early precursor to The Fugitive. A tiny girl was prominent in all the musical’s ads and best-selling merchandise. That’s really all I knew before walking in.

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