Sunday, February 9, 2014

Some Early Year Favorites


I must say, I’m very hopeful about 2014. Perhaps this hope has been sparked by the news that Nickel Creek’s 9 year hiatus (which I think we all assumed was a retirement) is over, and stoked by news of a new album by The Hold Steady. Old favorites releasing a new album can be exciting. However, it’s often surprises that make a year. I couldn’t have predicted how much I’d love the London Grammar album last year, because at the beginning of the year I’d never heard of London Grammar. But still, there’s some thing so wonderful about an album that you anticipate for months that meets expectations, like last year’s amazing album by The National.

This year has started with a little bit of both. War on Drugs—who are currently one of the most underrated bands in music—released their first single from their new album, and it’s absolutely amazing. And although I have liked a few James Vincent McMorrow songs, I did not anticipate how much I’d love his new album and all the elements he added into his music. Foster the People and Young the Giant, two bands that released stellar debut albums that perfectly balanced alt rock and mainstream, return looking to avoid a sophomore slump, while the always chill and under-the-radar William Fitzsimmons’ first single gives positive vibes about his newest effort.

With that mini semblance of an introduction, I give you the songs I’ve been playing so far in 2014.

War on Drugs – “Red Eyes”

James Vincent McMorrow – “Look Out”

Foster the People – “Coming of Age”

Young the Giant – “Mind Over Matter”

William Fitzsimmons – “Fortune”

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Deployment Movie List

By my count, since I began this deployment process with my training in Louisiana near the beginning of last May, I have watched 76 movies. Naturally, due to my affinity for rating things, I’ve kept a list of all 76 of these movies, because why not. And now that I’ve already done that, why not post them? For science!





Ft Polk



Greatly exceeded my average expectations

Ft Polk

The Great Gatsby


Visually stunning, great music. The story itself though, is filled with an unlikeable lot.

Ft Polk

Iron Man 3


Another solid one. Pretty much what you’d expect. Witty humor, good action.

Ft Polk

Star Trek: Into Darkness


Another great addition to the catalog. Well done.

Ft Polk

The Intouchables


French indie movie’s acting/script overcome cliché plot idea

Ft Polk

In Bruges


Incredibly compelling movie. Great scripts, actors, humor, and setting.

Ft Polk

Star Trek: The Motion Picture


Liked it better than I remembered from when I was a kid

Ft Polk

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan


Far and away the best of the original movies

Ft Polk

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock


Very solid. Probably the 4th best of the originals.

Ft Polk

Stark Trek V: The Final Frontier


Clearly the worst of all the originals. Hard to watch at times.

Ft Polk

Star Trek VI: Undiscovered Country


A good redemption after V. The third best of the originals.

Ft Polk

The Purge


No exaggerating: one of the worst movies I’ve ever suffered through. Just stupid.

Ft Polk

Man of Steel


Disappointing. There was a good movie somewhere in there, but it dragged and dragged.

Ft Polk

Django Unchained


Another great Tarantino movie with memorable scenes, though not perfect.

Ft Polk

The Master


Uncomfortable and full of unlikeable characters. Surprisingly unwatchable for all the hype.

Ft Polk

World War Z


Solid, but nothing more. Well put together, good Brad Pitt, good visuals.


Despicable Me 2


Pretty disappointing. Laughs were much more occasional than the first.


Pitch Perfect


Talk about surprising. Simultaneously makes fun of movie musicals while being one.

24 July 2013



Much better than Quantum of Solace, but still no Casino Royale

25 July 2013

The Big Year


Perfectly innocent PG fun, with enough heart/laughs to overcome cheesiness

26 July 2013

Layer Cake


Well done crime movie, but lacked any characters worth caring about

27 July 2013

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World


Surprisingly touching. Good if you want a slower, indie drama/dark comedy

27 July 2013

Cold Weather


Strange. Starts insufferably slow, but mystery picks up in the middle.

28 July 2013

The Damned United


Very interesting biopic despite not knowing who Brian Clough was

2 Aug 2013

Total Recall


Fell asleep twice. Has all the makings of a good movie, but not much there.

2 Aug 2013

Beasts of the Southern Wild


Well-executed, well-made, but only for if you are looking for something artsy.

16 Aug 2013



Confess I didn’t, or couldn’t, finish. Almost likeable at moments, but beyond bizarre.

25 Aug 2013

Life of Pi


Really enjoyed this movie. Colorful, transfixing, and captivating storytelling.

1 Sep 2013

Gangster Squad


It isn’t earth-shattering, but it’s exactly what it’s trying to be, which is fun.

2 Sep 2013



A perfect drama, paced well and filled with Arkansas character.

5 Sep 2013

Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou


Despite my love for Wes Anderson, still don’t really love this one years later.

6 Sep 2013

Drinking Buddies


Missing something most the movie, but redeemed by the end by doing it right.

8 Sep 2013

Monster’s University


Good fun. No Pixar classic, but definitely plenty of smiles and a few laughs.

9 Sep 2013



As painfully slow as it is heart wrenching. Hard to watch, but undeniably good.

12 Sep 2013

The Place Beyond the Pines


Better first half with Gosling, but movie keeps the drama rolling so you can’t stop.

13 Sep 2013

Miller’s Crossing


Very good. After watching Gangster Squad, this is how you do this kind of movie.

15 Sep 2013

The Paperboy


Kept my attention, but front half better than second and missing something special

16 Sep 2013

Cowboys & Aliens


A relatively pointless film that could have been good, or at least fun, if done different

17 Sep 2013

The World’s End


Just fantastic. Hilarious and surprising. A comedy with heart and completely original.

19 Sep 2013

Lee Daniels’ The Butler


Good performance from Whitaker, but the movie on the whole is underwhelming

25 Sep 2013

This Is The End


Certainly entertaining, but not worth recommending if you can see The World’s End

27 Sep 2013

Anna Karenina


Exceeded expectations. Well made and interesting despite wholly unlikeable lead.

4 Oct 2013

Schindler’s List


Why did this take me 28 years? What an amazing, impactful film.

11 Oct 2013



Excellent and suspenseful. The conclusion is impossible to look away from.

11 Oct 2013

The Way, Way Back


Duncan/Owen relationship makes this character movie with flawed people work well

12 Oct 2013

The Internship


Formulaic and generally forgettable, but it’s still a little bit fun.

17 Oct 2013



Held back by lack of development of the characters’ motivations and their world

20 Oct 2013

Pacific Rim


The story itself isn’t amazing, but I’ve never seen a movie presented quite like it.

23 Oct 2013

Kick-Ass 2


Cartoonish and mega-violent, but still undeniably fun

28 Oct 2013

Dead Poet’s Society


A rare movie where I disagree with Ebert. It feels more sincere than schmaltzy.

1 Nov 2013

Kings of Summer


Coming of age story with real heartache. Really enjoyed Moriarty and Arias’ roles.

2 Nov 2013

The Bling Ring


interesting take on celeb worship, but that doesn’t make it a captivating or enjoyable watch

3 Nov 2013

The To Do List


Some pretty funny moments, but overall doesn’t rise above any other mediocre comedies

6 Nov 2013

Oz the Great Powerful


A fun adventure with classic Disney whimsy, but suffered from being far too long.

8 Nov 2013



Triple intersecting storylines, but only one is compelling and developed well enough.

12 Nov 2013

The Bourne Legacy


Disappointed by the good start that devolves into a senseless chase scene for the 2nd half

1 Dec 2013

Clear History


Certainly watchable/nice backdrop, but I didn’t find this brand of humor particularly funny

5 Dec 2013



Unoriginal story, but nice visuals/location and pace. Surprised that I actually enjoyed it.

4 Jan 2014

Don Jon


Crisply paced and edited, but the whole second half lacked of humor and felt contrived.

7 Jan 2014

Lone Survivor


Mostly action, but foreknowledge of the story helps fill in the gaps. Without it though?

15 Jan 2014

Wolf of Wall Street


Highly entertaining, but protagonist is so awful you spend movie hoping for his demise.

17 Jan 2014

Captain Phillips


Just kept picking up steam until the riveting final third. Great Hanks performance.

17 Jan 2014

August: Osage County


Well-acted dysfunction. Very real setting/characters, but a pretty bleak display.

18 Jan 2014

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2


Its charm is overwhelmed by how disappointing it is compared to the amazing first one

19 Jan 2014

Inside Llewyn Davis


Kept my attention & I loved the music, but it was basically Crazy Heart without the uplift

20 Jan 2014

Saving Mr. Banks


After some dark movies, this was the perfect bit of charm and heart that I needed

22 Jan 2014

The Spectacular Now


More and more convinced Shailene Woodley is a star. Very convincingly real movie.

24 Jan 2014

American Hustle


Highly entertaining con story with great performances by Bale/Adams, comedy by Lawrence

25 Jan 2014



Brilliant. The acting, cinematography, drama…everything. How is this not nominated?

26 Jan 2014

12 Years a Slave


Profoundly impactful and disturbing. About as raw as it gets. Shoo in for Best Actor.

26 Jan 2014

Ender’s Game


I found it enjoyable, though the great buildup led to a rushed and confusing finale

27 Jan 2014

Charlie Wilson’s War


Really interesting watch on my way out of Afghanistan. Compelling story.

28 Jan 2014

Out of the Furnace


Great individual performances. Very tough, great setting/music. Took a while to get going.

29 Jan 2014

About Time


A touch sappy, but witty and heartfelt enough to overcome. Hit a little close to home too.

30 Jan 2014



The definition of riveting and suspenseful. Visually, one of the best I’ve seen.


My Best of 2013 (In progress)

  1. Mud
  2. Rush
  3. The Way, Way Back
  4. Gravity
  5. American Hustle
  6. Place Beyond the Pines
  7. 12 Years a Slave
  8. Kings of Summer
  9. The Spectacular Now
  10. Saving Mr. Banks


Ranking the Oscar Best Picture Nominees I’ve Seen So Far (Still need to see Dallas Buyers Club, Philomena, Nebraska, and Her)

  1. Gravity
  2. American Hustle
  3. 12 Years a Slave
  4. Captain Phillips
  5. Wolf of Wall Street


Best Comedy – The World’s End


Underrated Films/Surprises

  1. Oblivion
  2. Anna Karenina
  3. About Time
  4. The World’s End
  5. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World


Disappointments (movies I thought I would like but fell short, so not necessarily “bad movies”)

  1. The Master
  2. Lee Daniels’ The Butler
  3. Elysium
  4. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2
  5. The Bourne Legacy


My Favorite Individual Performances of 2013 (Again, Still need to see Dallas Buyers Club, Philomena, Nebraska, and Her…and from the trailers it wouldn’t surprise me if I add a few after seeing those)

  1. Matthew McConaughey in “Mud”
  2. Chiwetel Ejiofor in “12 Years a Slave”
  3. Ryan Gosling in “Place Beyond the Pines”
  4. Shailene Woodley in “The Spectacular Now”
  5. Christian Bale in “American Hustle”
  6. Sam Rockwell in “The Way, Way Back”
  7. Sandra Bullock in “Gravity”
  8. Chris Hemsworth in “Rush”
  9. Moises Arias in “Kings of Summer”
  10. Paul Giammati in “Saving Mr. Banks”


Worst Movies

  1. The Purge
  2. Total Recall
  3. Cowboys & Aliens