Witness (1985) - dir. Peter Weir

Witness is hailed for its balance of thrilling suspense-drama and poignant romance. But the drama isn’t all that thrilling, the young Amish boy who witnesses a murder… well, that part of the story immediately takes a backseat so Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis can have an Amish/non-Amish ho-down in the barn while squaredancing to a stolen radio.

The film’s a little too beach-ready for me, I suppose.

4.6

Band of Brothers (2001) - created by Stephen E. Ambrose, Tom Hanks & Steven Spielberg

Band of Brothers is a ten-part mini-series that plays out like a collection of essays, following Easy Company from boot camp to the end of WWII. While the cast is constantly revolving, Dick Winters (Damian Lewis) and Lewis Nixon (Ron Livingston) are always at the center. The series is broken up into ten complete stories. It’s an interesting technique, though, with those ten parts, the mini-series still follows the basic storytelling formula. You’ll see gorgeous cinematography, terrific bits of acting, frightening action sequences, trying imagery, and a very young and handsome Michael Fassbender (also: Tom Hardy, James McAvoy).

Band of Brothers is an experience, and it’s not one to be binge-watched as so many things are these days. From the power of “Currahee” you understand how heavy the material is. The pinnacle of the series comes towards the end of “The Last Patrol” after a terrific performance from Colin Hanks - that’s when Damian Lewis (Dick Winters) steps in and truly becomes the hero the series needed. It’s everything you want from cinema.

9.3

Top 10 Characters

1. Lewis Nixon (Ron Livingtson)
2. Dick Winters (Damian Lewis)
3. Herbert Sobel (David Schwimmer)
4. Denver Randleman (Michael Cudlitz)
5. Frank Perconte (James Madio)
6. Henry Jones (Colin Hanks)
7. Lynn Compton (Neal McDonough)
8. Alton More (Doug Allen)
9. John Janovec (Tom Hardy)
10. Donald Malarkey (Scott Grimes)

Skin Game (1971) - dir. Paul Bogart
Grifting films are always intriguing to a point, and Skin Game is no different. It’s the middle of the nineteenth century, and Quincy (James Garner) and his best pal Jason (Lou Gossett, Jr.) are in the market to con people. The stakes couldn’t be higher, since Quincy (a white man) is selling Jason (a black man) to slavers up and down the country. As soon as Quincy collects the money, they start a ruckus and escape, splitting the money between them as friends.
What comes after is pretty typical - it’s a satirical comedy with its heart in the right place, but viewing some forty-plus years later is still reeks of racism. Still, it’s sort of an odd little film, and it moves quickly enough to forgive any of its shortcomings.
6.3

Skin Game (1971) - dir. Paul Bogart

Grifting films are always intriguing to a point, and Skin Game is no different. It’s the middle of the nineteenth century, and Quincy (James Garner) and his best pal Jason (Lou Gossett, Jr.) are in the market to con people. The stakes couldn’t be higher, since Quincy (a white man) is selling Jason (a black man) to slavers up and down the country. As soon as Quincy collects the money, they start a ruckus and escape, splitting the money between them as friends.

What comes after is pretty typical - it’s a satirical comedy with its heart in the right place, but viewing some forty-plus years later is still reeks of racism. Still, it’s sort of an odd little film, and it moves quickly enough to forgive any of its shortcomings.

6.3

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) - dir. Michael Bay

I still stand by my opinion that the first Transformers is a reasonably good film. But this… this is unfortunate. What’s more unfortunate is the amount of money it made, and the two other films that have come to follow.

It’s not even aesthetically appealing. Ben Seresin’s cinematography is less interesting than your sister’s Instagram account. The sharpness of each image does nothing to tell a story, there’s no effort to the plot and the effects may be bigger and badder than before, but who gives a shit?

1.8

Pearl Harbor (2001) - dir. Michael Bay

If you want to know about what happened at Pearl Harbor - like, the real story, please please please please please believe this movie. It’d be hysterical to watch somebody argue this Hollywood jargon as fact.

1.3

Armageddon (1998) - dir. Michael Bay

It’s important to note that this four-time-Oscar-nominated film is part of the Criterion Collection, and I implore you to read this complimentary review. Sure, there are some great things going on here. It’s simple entertainment at its finest, and the scene with Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler and the animal crackers, has stayed with me for the last sixteen years. Bay uses his red, white, and blue color palette with expertise, and if you’re going to watch an oil-man go into space it might as well be Bruce Willis.

Beyond that, unless you’ve turned it into a drinking game*, it’s miserable to sit through it. And to think, I’ve done it multiple times. There’s something intriguing about how bad Armageddon is, but I’ll never be willing to go any further than that. The film is an assault on the eyes.

2.5

*Michael Bay Drinking Game

1. Drink at every explosion
2. Drink at all product placement
3. Drink when an accomplished actor disappoints you
4. Drink heavily before viewing the film in preparation.