WML2020: American Idiot

I suspect you all can tell when I’m not excited about the next title on deck by how many days it takes me to get around to posting about it. And so it goes with this little gem, debatably the weirdest DVD I own. Also, I knew it was probably going to require some additional homework beyond just re-watching to do this one properly.

American Idiot: The Ultimate Critical Review dvd cover next to a Green Day concert t-shirt

What even IS this?

Is it a recording of the Green Day Broadway musical? No. That would actually make sense. *

No, this is far stranger. It’s basically just a bunch talking heads indulging in a track-by-track analysis of the titular album padded out with a little bit of the band’s overall history. It bills itself as a “critical review,” but it’s basically just a big love fest. To give you an idea of the level of discourse at play, this is part of a series called The World’s Greatest Albums. ** Keep in mind that this documentary (to use the term very loosely) came out just 13 months after Green Day released American Idiot. Even to a fan like me, that seems a tad fast.

The random assortment of expert reviewers includes the host (a seemingly prolific Scottish actor unknown to me), a couple of UK musicians I’ve never heard of, the owner of a studio where Green Day recorded, the author of a Green Day biography, and a music journalist who hasn’t written for any publication I recognize but at least does have a Wikipedia page.

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WML2020: Aladdin

This is the first time I’ve ever popped this disc in a player. It would still be in shrink wrap if I hadn’t cracked it open when I first bought it to get the digital download code loaded onto my computer before it expired. Which I also have never bothered to watch.

I purchased this in 2015, y’all. I know that because the previews before the movie advertise Inside Out on home video and The Good Dinosaur coming soon to a theater near you. Evidently I bought this the same year the Cinderella live-action remake came out (which was only the third one of those in the modern collection, mind you), and I still managed to see Will Smith’s Genie hit the screen before I fired this up.

Clearly money well spent.

Cover of Aladdin Blu-Ray on a pale aqua rug

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WML2020: 50 First Dates

So I fully intended to start Watch My Library the very next night after I posted the idea. But then I got a little distracted with what amounts to a three-day, paralyzing anxiety attack. The less said about that, the better. I’d like to say it won’t happen again, but I’d rather not lie. You know. Pandemic. Anyway, here we go. Finally.

Photo of the 50 First Dates dvd cover

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A New Project: Watch My Library 2020


I have an idea inspired by two recent events.

1) I moved cross-country.  After more than a decade in the greater DC area, last month I relocated to New Mexico for a new job and to live closer to family. As I unpacked my belongings, I made a stunning discovery.

I own xXx on dvd.

Wait. Seriously? I spent money on that? Eventually I remembered fishing it out of the used bargain bin at Blockbuster back in the day. Considering that I haven’t so much as thought about the xXx franchise in many a year, it frankly surprises me that at one time I liked this movie enough to have it on my shelf.

There were other discs that I could also barely remember acquiring. Or didn’t remember at all. A shocking number of titles are still in shrink wrap. Such a waste.

Related:  I also recently redeemed a freebie code from my cell phone carrier for a digital copy of John Wick. The problem being that at some point in the past I had already done that exact same thing, making that my second copy. Luckily, the Lionsgate folks were understanding about swapping it out for John Wick, Chapter 2. Which I haven’t yet watched because I don’t even like Chapter 2 that much.

Dude, I suck at this. An inventory is definitely in order. And maybe some collection weeding, too.

2) Immediately after I left behind my entire social support network to move to a completely unfamiliar city, an epic public health crisis trapped me in my half-unpacked apartment.

No disrespect intended to the new city or new job that I was actually pretty excited about a few weeks ago, but if I had known back in October when I originally applied for said new job that I would make it out here just in time for the whole world to fall apart…  You know, I might have made different choices.

But what’s done is done. And now I’m waiting out a slow-motion disaster in a town where I don’t know anyone. I feel incredibly privileged that I’m able to work from home, keeping me out of any real jeopardy (so far). And I have done the work-from-home thing successfully in the past.

However, back then I had a cat, a live-in partner, and the freedom to go anywhere I wanted basically any time that I wanted. None of that is true now. I’m dangerously bored and lonely already, and it’s only been a week and a half.

Hence blogging!

So I propose “Watch My Library 2020.” I’m going to view everything I own A to Z. I’m going to try to watch at least one title a night (if I don’t have anything better to do). And we’ll see how far I get before my self-imposed isolation ends.

2018 Oscar Animated Shorts

I’ve spent the last couple days ruminating on my long-time movie-going habits, the ways the changes in my life inform my cinematic practices and vice versa. You could chart the ebb and flow of it all in my annual movie lists, if you knew what to look for. In some ways, my spreadsheet of film titles is as telling a diary as any other I may keep.

And so it goes with the Oscar-nominated animated film shorts. Another tradition that started in 2010, two years after I had first met a former co-worker, right around the same time we transitioned into friends. She introduced me to the short films, and it eventually became a February ritual for us.

Now I enjoy the animated shorts every year for how frequently delightful and unexpected they are, but I also love how I associate them with a person who has become one of my closest friends. We saw the 2018 batch this morning, and I want to share my reactions while they’re fresh in mind.

Overarching Thoughts for 2018

  • Why did they stop including the running time on the title card for each short? If a “short” is going to last almost half an hour, I need to mentally prepare myself for that.
  • Is this the first year they used additional animated “Petite Interludes” between the nominated films? I feel like they didn’t always do that, but I can’t remember if they did it last year, too. If you remember, let me know in the comments. Regardless, I don’t care for it. Title cards only, please.
  • Along with the five nominated films, they always include in the package 2-3 additional “highly commended” films. Inevitably, I fall in love with one of these and question how it didn’t get the official nod. That said, I generally find the whole concept of the Oscars utter bullshit. I don’t watch the Oscars, I typically don’t like the kinds of films that win Oscars, and I don’t know why I’m surprised that I’m not on the same page as members of the Academy when it comes to these short films. For that matter, I don’t know why I abandon my Oscar contempt when it comes to this one category. It’s literally the only one I care about.

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The Movies of 2017

I started tracking the movies I see in 2004, and I set my record for most films seen in a year in 2006 (41). That record stood for a decade. Until now, baby!


New record!!! Woot!!!

Two things aided my victory. First, throughout 2017, I perpetually felt in need of cheering up. So I was already going to the theater perhaps an excessive amount. And then halfway through the year I discovered MoviePass, and the flood gates really opened. I started seeing anything and everything that looked even moderately interesting. Which is how I came to see Lego Ninjago (which I didn’t especially enjoy, but it did have at least one laugh-out-loud joke).

Amazingly, even though I saw a lot more, my enjoyment levels stayed relatively high. I did not like only four movies all year. And even most of those ones had sufficient merit to where I debated giving them an asterisk. But no matter how much I admire the spirit behind efforts like The Little Hours and The Disaster Artist, I’d be lying if I said I really enjoyed watching them.

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The Movies of 2016

So apparently I completely forgot to post my annual viewing list last year. Just never got around to it. Whoops.

Reflecting back on that year with this unusual level of hindsight, I think this might have been when my taste in movies started to change a little. I still primarily enjoy genre fare, but I started paying money to see films like Denial. Ten years ago that never would have happened.

Plus, think about it. 2016 brought us Batman v. Superman, Captain America: Civil War, Suicide Squad, Finding Dory, and just seemingly endless supply of major tent pole releases that disappointed me to no end. Meanwhile, I did find stuff like Denial and The Big Short kind of interesting after all.

Of course, my favorite theatrical releases that year were (in order): Deadpool, The Conjuring 2, and The Accountant. So obviously I didn’t change that much.

But my true favorite 2016 viewing experience didn’t come in a theater at all. My love for Stranger Things eclipsed everything else that year, and that had never happened before.

The System:
* Good enough; worth watching once
** I genuinely liked it
X I hated it
+ Number of repeat viewings at the theater

Theatrical List (30 titles):

The Big Short **
The Hateful Eight X
Oscar Animated Shorts 2016 **
Deadpool ** +1
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot **
Zootopia **
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice *
Captain America: Civil War
The Nice Guys **
X-men: Apocalypse *
Alice: Through the Looking Glass
The Conjuring 2 **
Finding Dory *
The Legend of Tarzan **
Ghostbusters (2016) *
The Secret Life of Pets **
Suicide Squad *
Bad Moms **
Kubo and the Two Strings **
Blair Witch
Storks *
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children *
The Magnificent Seven **
The Accountant **
Denial **
Doctor Strange **
Arrival **
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story **
Assassin’s Creed
Passengers **

Home Viewing List (24 titles):

The Propaganda Game *
Fifty Shades of Grey
MST3K: Swamp Diamonds *
MST3K: Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders **
MST3K: Viking Women Vs. The Sea Serpent
Kingsman: The Secret Service *
MST3K: Tormented **
Our Brand is Crisis *
Dolphin Tale *
MST3K: Red Zone Cuba *
MST3K: The Pumaman **
Stranger Things Sn. 1 **
Bojack Horseman Sn. 3 *
Get Hard *
Patton Oswalt: Talking for Clapping **
Keanu *
Ali Wong: Baby Cobra *
The Last Witch Hunter **
MST3K: The Undead **
It Follows **
Under the Sun *
Rifftrax: The House on Haunted Hill
Rifftrax: The Guy from Harlem *

Oh, and I was really into It Follows. If you like horror, definitely check that one out. But Bojack Horseman was already starting to get a little too dark for me.