FF+ Project Power and Boys State

For this week’s FF+, Seattle film critic Calvin Kemph of The Twin Geeks joins the show to discuss two new releases.

New For You 

Project Power – 02:45

Boys State – 13:48

 

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Music: City Sunshine – Kevin MacLeod

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FF+ Pretending I’m a Superman: The Tony Hawk Video Game Story

Aaron and Patrick chat about an upcoming documentary which tells the story of how the Tony Hawk video game series came to be, while also highlighting the history of skateboarding as a sport and the career of the great Tony Hawk.

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Music: City Sunshine – Kevin MacLeod

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Episode 243: Good Will Hunting

This week we’re shipping up to Boston for a conversation about a film that launched the careers of two eventual superstars. Not a lot of plot happens here, but the authenticity on display plus the relationships and feelings explored offer us plenty of material for rich thematic discussion.

Good Will Hunting Spoiler Review – 0:08:54

The Connecting Point – 1:09:42

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Episode 242: The Martian

In this week’s episode we discuss one of our favorite films (based on one of our favorite books) and dig into what makes this science-heavy space survival story so entertaining while also being so emotionally provocative.

The Martian Spoiler Review – 0:15:17

The Connecting Point – 1:11:18

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MOVIE REVIEW: Made in Italy

Rating: R / Runtime: 1 hour and 33 minutes

The story in James D’Arcy’s directorial debut is a familiar one. A character estranged from someone they love learns the truth about why their relationship has fractured and finds reconciliation while spending time together away from their normal lives with a focus on reminiscing about the past. In this particular telling, Jack (Micheál Richardson) is facing an impending divorce and seeks his father’s help to fix up their old house in Tuscany, Italy in order to sell it so that Jack can purchase a London art gallery from his soon to be ex-wife’s family. The villa is in rough shape, requiring much more effort than Jack was expecting, thus increasing the amount of time he and his bohemian artist father Robert (played by Richardson’s real-life Dad, Liam Neeson) must spend together. They argue often about the prospects of selling the family home and a general air of frustration looms due to the inability of the two men to discuss the circumstances of Jack’s dead mother, who died in Italy while he was a young boy, and why his father has been so removed from his life since then. While in Italy, Jack also meets beautiful local chef, restaurant owner, and single mother Natalia (Valeria Bilello), who further complicates his feelings about the future.

With very little imagination, you can likely figure out where this story goes. It is predictable in the most obvious of ways, despite the occasional surprise reveal about Robert and Jack’s past. And yet, the emotional journey “Made in Italy” takes the viewer on goes through so many feelings. It’s got a fair share of sadness and anger but plenty of happiness and hope, as well. Though the characters aren’t deeply developed, Neeson and Richardson (a first-time leading man) pair well together on screen and deliver an extremely believable portrait of these two men and their strained, yet clearly loving, relationship. The film’s mostly a drama with some hilarious natural comedy, but its romantic subplots are also genuinely sweet, handled with respect, and don’t overwhelm the narrative.
Visually, “Made in Italy” is a lovely film to look at. Mike Eley’s cinematography is effective in close-ups of characters and interior locations but really shines when capturing the beauty of the Italian landscape. There is, however, a lack of magic that many associate with Tuscany. Despite showing a few local meals and one particularly wonderful scene where the town comes together to watch an outdoor movie, it felt oddly like a side character when the setting should have been a star. Alex Belcher’s score is one other highlight to note, bringing in just the right soothing sounds to match the emotional beats of the film, and complemented well by a solid soundtrack.

“Made in Italy” is unlikely to be a film that turns heads as it does nothing flashy at all, but it is the kind of movie we simply don’t see much of anymore. There is no sex, there are no drugs, there is no violence, and its characters deal with their very realistic and human problems with maturity, kindness, and understanding, leading to a sweet depiction of relationship restoration that parallels the restoring of the house. I unexpectedly found myself swept up in its uplifting charm and find it to be some good hearty medicine during a difficult time in world history.

Rating:


Aaron White is a Seattle-based film critic and co-creator/co-host of the Feelin’ Film Podcast. He is also a member of the Seattle Film Critics Society. He writes reviews with a focus on the emotional experience he has with a film. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

Announcing: Substitute Summer Blockbuster Tournament

In 2018 and 2019, Feelin’ Film hosted a Director Battle Month tournament in which multiple directors with four films each faced off in a March Madness-style bracket. The winning film in each quadrant was then covered on the show as one of our August episodes. This year, we’re doing something a little different, and instead of films grouped by specific directors, we are hosting a tournament pitting the biggest summertime box office winners of all-time against each other in the ultimate showdown to establish Feelin’ Film’s favorite summer blockbuster. To make it more interesting and fair, we’ve used box office numbers adjusted for inflation.

How It’s Going to Work

The bracket has been divided by month so each quadrant represents the films released during that time seeded in order of box office haul. The months included are May, June, July, and a combination of April/August.

Beginning on August 4, a selection of polls will be posted in our Feelin’ Film Facebook Discussion Group every Tuesday-Friday through August 21. Members of the group (which is open for anyone to join!) will first determine two play-in winners for each quadrant. These initial polls will each feature the #15-22 box office winners for the given month and the top two vote-getters will enter the tournament field. There are some heavy hitters in these play-in match-ups that could give our #1 and #2 seeds some serious trouble when the main tourney begins!

After the voting ends on August 21 and the Final Four is determined, the Feelin’ Film team will get together and record a podcast episode debating and deciding what the championship match-up, third-place winner, and ultimate victor will be. If we can find a way to record this episode live and engage in chat, we will, but at the very least we will release a special episode of the podcast with this conversation where we battle it out and announce the results.

We’re extremely excited for this event and hope that you’ll join us in the Facebook group for voting and discussion as we collectively determine our favorite Summer blockbuster!

The Field

MAY

JUNE

JULY

April/August

The Full Bracket (before Play-in winners) can be seen below and downloaded. Feel free to follow along at home and make your own predictions as to what film will emerge victoriously.

Substitute Summer Blockbuster Bracket

Episode 241: Mean Girls

In the narrowest of victories during July’s Donor Pick voting on Patreon, “Mean Girls” emerged victorious over “Clueless” to get the Feelin’ Film treatment. Luckily for us, there is some depth to be mined from this classic and quotable high school comedy.

Mean Girls Spoiler Review – 0:06:51

The Connecting Point – 0:55:08

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Episode 240: Furious 7

It’s the last ride in our Fast and Furious summer as we discuss the most emotional film in the franchise. With multiple scenes getting us teary-eyed and possibly more action than any other entry, this total package was a joy to revisit and ends our series of episodes on a high.

Furious 7 Spoiler Review – 0:07:52

The Connecting Point – 1:20:19

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Episode 239: The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

The outlier in the franchise, featuring virtually none of the series’ regulars and focused entirely on a different style of racing, is often considered lesser than by fans. But should it be? We make the case for why Tokyo Drift is likely way better than you remember and a valuable story in the Fast Saga.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift Spoiler Review – 0:10:06

The Connecting Point – 1:04:57

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Aaron’s Top 100 Movies (2020 Edition)

Recently I made a major change to how I rate films, doing away with half-stars altogether in favor of a simplified system with only 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 stars as an option. My hope is that by taking away the additional complication of half-stars, I will be able to more accurately rate films on the first go-around. It’s no secret that I struggle with hype and I often find myself using half-stars only to scale ratings back when the end of the year rolls around and I take another look at them. Additionally, and more importantly, I’ve come to thoroughly embrace the conversations that we have about film online in places like our Feelin’ Film Discussion Group and in person at work. What I desire is for the words in my written reviews, on my podcast, or spoken in conversation to tell you more about my feelings for a film than the number assigned to it. To that end, simplifying my ratings means if you want to understand what distinguishes films in a certain group (say my 4-star rating) from each other, you’ll have to actually read what I have to say or… gasp… ask me about them.

With this change came a mass re-rating project, and after completing that and noticing that I am 2.5 years removed from my last Top 100 list, this was the perfect opportunity to give it an update. As always is the case, gray hairs emerged during this painful process as I tried to distinguish between beloved films. As always, my list is ever-changing, but this serves as a current reflection of my personal cinematic taste – a snapshot view of the cinephile that I am at this moment in time. I hope that as you read through this list you might be able to learn a little about who I am as a person by seeing what type of stories I love the most.

Note: For the purposes of this list, any film with an asterisk (*) after it represents its series or trilogy and is only used in cases where all films of the series are rated as 5-star. The arrows and numbers after each title them are just a fun little addition that shows a film’s movement since the last edition of this list. You can see the previous editions here:

2017 Top 100
2018 Top 100

This is my list. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

#1 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring *  —  —
#2 The Princess Bride 3
#3 It’s a Wonderful Life 1
#4 Top Gun 11
#5 Before Sunrise * 4
#6 Casablanca 3
#7 La La Land  —  —
#8 12 Angry Men 4
#9 The Last of the Mohicans 7
#10 Interstellar 4
#11 Die Hard 46
#12 The Lion King 40
#13 Jaws 5
#14 The Dark Knight 7
#15 Jurassic Park 2
#16 Toy Story * 2
#17 Your Name. 41
#18 Raiders of the Lost Ark 1
#19 The Prestige 8
#20 Beauty and the Beast 44
#21 Star Wars 7
#22 The Shawshank Redemption 19
#23 Sleeping Beauty 15
#24 Black Hawk Down 46
#25 Full Metal Jacket 13
#26 The Sound of Music 10
#27 Memento 40
#28 Lawrence of Arabia 9
#29 Titanic NEW NEW
#30 National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 36
#31 The Wizard of Oz 11
#32 Children of Men 27
#33 Kill Bill * NEW NEW
#34 Singin’ in the Rain 11
#35 Groundhog Day 42
#36 Back to the Future 25
#37 The Departed 56
#38 Gladiator 13
#39 Mary Poppins 21
#40 The Social Network    
#41 The Nightmare Before Christmas 9
#42 Scream 1
#43 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl NEW NEW
#44 Hell or High Water 36
#45 Terminator 2: Judgment Day NEW NEW
#46 My Neighbor Totoro 1
#47 Fast Five NEW NEW
#48 The Incredibles 28
#49 Lost in Translation NEW NEW
#50 Gone Girl NEW NEW
#51 Blade Runner 2049 * 41
#52 Forrest Gump NEW NEW
#53 Tombstone 3
#54 Fight Club 20
#55 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs NEW NEW
#56 Happy Gilmore NEW NEW
#57 The Fault in Our Stars NEW NEW
#58 The Rock NEW NEW
#59 The Bridge on the River Kwai 15
#60 Se7en 31
#61 Armageddon NEW NEW
#62 Young Guns NEW NEW
#63 Avengers: Infinity War NEW NEW
#64 The Great Gatsby NEW NEW
#65 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade NEW NEW
#66 Alien 53
#67 Kubo and the Two Strings NEW NEW
#68 WALL*E NEW NEW
#69 Ex Machina 3
#70 Scott Pilgrim vs. the World 35
#71 The Avengers NEW NEW
#72 The Cabin in the Woods 12
#73 Pitch Perfect NEW NEW
#74 The Hunt for Red October NEW NEW
#75 Inception 48
#76 Creed NEW NEW
#77 Wreck-it Ralph NEW NEW
#78 Reservoir Dogs 10
#79 Little Women NEW NEW
#80 How To Train Your Dragon NEW NEW
#81 Almost Famous 51
#82 Friday Night Lights NEW NEW
#83 TRON: Legacy NEW NEW
#84 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban NEW NEW
#85 Crazy, Stupid, Love NEW NEW
#86 Gravity NEW NEW
#87 Les Misérables NEW NEW
#88 Hamilton NEW NEW
#89 Con Air NEW NEW
#90 The Empire Strikes Back 44
#91 10 Cloverfield Lane NEW NEW
#92 Reality Bites 23
#93 Rashomon 60
#94 Vertigo 70
#95 Moon 10
#96 Rocky NEW NEW
#97 First Man NEW NEW
#98 Passengers NEW NEW
#99 Whiplash 21
#100 A Star is Born (2018) NEW NEW
  • It’s not unlikely for films to enter/leave/re-enter this list, but any film that has dropped out at one point and come back on is still designated as “NEW” just to keep things simple.

Link to list on Letterboxd

Like it? Hate it? Think I’m crazy? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Aaron White is a Seattle-based film critic and co-creator/co-host of the Feelin’ Film Podcast. He is also a member of the Seattle Film Critics Society. He writes reviews with a focus on the emotional experience he has with a film. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.