Happy Birthday to Me: A Film For Every Year I’ve Been Alive

I turn thirty-eight years old today. Because film has had such an important place in my life, I decided to share 38 movies, one for each year since I was born, that are not necessarily my favorites but have a important place in my life. Hope you enjoy.

Modern Romance (1981, dir. Albert Brooks)
This wasn’t a film I watched as a kid; I didn’t even see it until I was in my thirties. However, it has become one of those that gets deeper the more times I watch it. My favorite aspect of Modern Romance is the lack of sugarcoating adult relationships; Brooks isn’t afraid to show his ugliness in terms of selfishness and codependency. The female protagonist is just as a terrible, allowing Brooks’ manic adult child to manipulate and coerce. The punchline of the whole film is the endnotes which reveal that these people become stuck in a toxic cycle never seeming to be able to break from this horrible relationship. Modern Romance, for me, is a warning about what kind of a partner to never become. However, it is incredibly funny stuff. More in my review here.

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TV Tryouts – Summer Camp Island & Hilda

There is so much television I hear I should watch and with 24/7 streaming services abounding it can quickly become overwhelming. To finally get a taste of all these great shows I will start doing TV Tryouts. Each month I will watch a couple of pilot episodes of series I have been hearing rave reviews about and see if that first episode can hook me to keep watching. Now, an argument you might make is that you have to view the first six or entire first season before a show “gets good.” To that, I say, “I just don’t have the time.” A television series should have strong enough writing that its characters, dialogue, and plot naturally compel me to keep watching. If it doesn’t, then that’s ok, plenty of shows for everyone.

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Movie Review – Jackie

Jackie (2016)
Written by Noah Oppenheim
Directed by Pablo Larrain

Jack was the third person Jackie had lost during her marriage. Two children, one stillborn and another passing two days after birth marked her journey to this ultimate tragedy, the one death that would resonantly define Jacqueline Kennedy for the remainder of her life. In this unique biopic, we follow the first lady through the four days after her husband was assassinated, focusing on her inner turmoil and the decisions around how she would send her husband off into the collective memory of America. There was a huge chance this film would diverge into empty melodrama; however, director Pablo Larrain chooses to not shy away from the darker, angrier aspects of this moment in Jackie’s life.

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Comic Book Review – The OMAC Project

The OMAC Project
Reprints The OMAC Project #1-6, Special, Wonder Woman #219
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Jesus Saiz

Continuing immediately from the conclusion of Countdown to Infinite Crisis, we find Max Lord, now the head of Checkmate, cleaning up his murder of Blue Beetle. It’s revealed that Lord has control over Brother Eye, a spy satellite built in secret by Batman after he learned about the Justice League’s mindwiping of villains. At some point, off-panel, Lord has turned Brother Eye into a catalyst for OMACs, nanobots that have infected hundreds of thousands of humans and turned them into sleeper agents. The over-arching plan is to use Checkmate and Brother Eye to “take back” power from the growing number of metahumans on Earth. Booster Gold is concerned about his old teammate, Blue Beetle’s disappearance. He works alongside Batman, Fire, and other heroes to get to the bottom of what happened.

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Movie Review – My Life as a Zucchini

My Life as a Zucchini (2016)
Written by Céline Sciamma (with contributions from Germano Zullo, Claude Barras, & Morgan Navarro)
Directed by Claude Barras

Icare, nicknamed Zucchini by his mother, lives in the wake of his father’s abandonment of the family. She has taken to binge drinking to self-medicate her increasing depression. Things get bad at home and Zucchini is picked up by a police officer, Raymond, who has deep empathy for the rough situation the boy is in. He delivers him to an orphanage where Zucchini meets kids who have ended up in this place due to parents being deported, arrested, succumbing to drug addiction, and physically abusing them. Despite their hardships, they form a makeshift family and learn how to feel empathy for each other and recognize the differences and strengths of each other.

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Movie Review – Things to Come

Things to Come (2016)
Written & Directed by Mia Hansen-Løve

What we expect is not what we will get. This is a lesson for both the protagonist Nathalie and the audience. Life unfolds with surprises that are not necessarily earth-shaking but create ripples out through your day to day choices. After twenty-five years of marriage, Nathalie learns her husband is having an affair, and it’s decided with little bombast that they are divorcing. In the year that follows she has to deal with a mother that has severe depression and anxiety, her daughter gives birth to the first grandchild of the family, she struggles with her career as a philosophy professor, and reconnects with a former student.

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Movie Review – Aquarius

Aquarius (2016)
Written & Directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho

In 1980, Clara had survived breast cancer and celebrates her aunt’s birthday with her family in her home in the Aquarius apartment building. Her home in Recife, Brazil overlooks the beautiful beach, and she feels at peace with her husband, her children, and this renewed life she has having conquered cancer. Over thirty years later, she is a widow, still living in the same apartment with only her housekeeper as a regular companion. A developing company is attempting to buy Clara out so they can demolish the building and construct office high rises. Clara refuses and has become the only resident left in the Aquarius. We follow the aging woman for the next few months as the company, who already owns the remaining apartments, tries to drive her out and how Clara reflects on her life.

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