Monday, January 26, 2015

Nuggets of Wisdom: My First 25 Years

I am officially turning 25 in three days. Yikes! I will have to admit to myself finally that I am in my "mid-twenties" because even though 24 is probably considered "mid-twenties," I was able to reason with myself that it actually wasn't because it wasn't quite halfway between 20 and 30. Now I no longer have the ability to make that claim. My bargaining tools are gone.

Turning 25 isn't the worst thing to happen to me. That was turning 12. I've now been on this planet for 25 years and, in all that time, I have to say that being 12 was probably the worst of it. Not a good year for my family, but especially not a good year for my blossoming acne, oily skin, and frizzy hair.

This is what I'm talking about:


I figured that after 25 years of Earth-living, I'm probably at least somewhat qualified to disperse some nuggets of wisdom. They say you learn something new every day, and as of this blog post I have lived for 9,112 days. That's a lot of new things that I've learned. Here are a few of them...

1. Dust Gathers On Things And You Can't Escape It

I wrote a blog post about this forever ago, but I really did not realize until I first moved out on my own just how quickly dust accumulates on surfaces of your home.

My mother made it seem like wizard magic. She has always been -- for my entire life anyway -- very particular about the cleanliness of the house. I never saw dust gather on surfaces because she dusted so often it never had much time to settle in.

Imagine my surprise when I finally started living on my own and realizing that the whole damn apartment becomes dusty seemingly overnight and in order to really keep it clean, you'd literally have to dust every day.

I don't dust every day. Not nearly. So yes, I live with the dust now. It's not really a symbiotic relationship, but we get along fine enough.

2. People Were Serious When They Said That High School Drama Is Pretty Much Meaningless

In 2006, I'm sure my mother said something of the equivalent to, "Don't worry about what people think of you in high school. In a few years, it won't matter at all."

And I probably said something of the equivalent to, "You don't even know, Mom! God!"

She knew.

All of the drama and the stupidness of high school really does disappear once you've been away from it for a little while. In fact, I can't even remember some of the reasons that I didn't like certain people or why they didn't like me or why I refused to eat in the lunch room that one year and opted to eat in the library instead.

The things I do remember from high school is how much I loved Brave New World and Catcher in the Rye, how much I hated Chemistry and still suck at it, and how to avoid doing homework and still get good grades.

3. Time Really Does Go By Faster As You Get Older

I know that time doesn't literally go by faster now than it did when I was a kid -- although sometimes I wonder if I'm getting Truman Showed and someone really is running this whole thing and they're speeding me up to get to middle age or marriage or something.

But on the serious, time just seems to fly by faster the older I get. I'm still wrapping my head around the idea of 2015 because I was just getting used to 2014 like a month ago. When I was a kid, hours and days felt so long. And now, even when I try to consciously remember and stay in the now, it seems that the "now" is already the "past" and the "future" is the "present." The whole thing is very dizzying and I do not like it. I'll be 30 within a few blinks of the eye. I shudder at the thought.

4. People Always Think Their Generation's Stuff Is Better

OJ (x)
My entire life, people my parents' age would talk about how much better stuff was in the '70s and '80s. It used to make me think, "Man, I got the shaft. Why didn't I get to grow up in the '70s and '80s?"

Now I'm realizing that my generation is saying the same thing about the '90s to the kids today. Although some people are hippies at heart who really do think things were better in prior decades, a lot of people who grew up in the '90s are now romanticizing the decade probably a little more than we should. Not saying that the '90s weren't awesome -- I mean, we did have Giga Pets and the OJ Simpson trial -- but it wasn't the greatest decade of all time. There was plenty of shit going on that kind of sucked. Also, the internet was really weird back then.

But nevertheless, people will continue to idealize their own youth and the things they loved during said youth. Similar to how my mom will probably never think that any Saturday Night Live cast has been that funny since the Dan Aykroyd/Bill Murray days, whereas I will attest that the best Saturday Night Live cast began when Tina Fey joined in 2000 and ended in 2013 when we lost Bill Hader, Fred Armisen, and Jason Sudeikis. But it's all opinion. Except that my opinion is actually correct, and I submit this clip as proof. Can't argue with factual evidence, ya'll.

5. It's Important To Relish In Your Down Time

When I was a teenager, my life basically consisted of endless amounts of free time. If we're being honest, high school isn't that hard and the homework doesn't really consume your entire life unless you're one of those AP kids. I wasn't.

I never realized how great free time was. I would be sitting, watching television, wishing I had something to do. Now, I have so little free time that I spend so much time just wishing that I could go home and take a nap or spend hours on Netflix. The time that I do get to do those things is the most precious time in my week.

The biggest problem with adulthood is not the fact that you have to work. The biggest problem with adulthood is trying to schedule all your other important shit around work. When you're a kid, you don't really have any commitments other than school and any kind of extracurricular activities -- which, let's face it, are usually fun and social.

As an adult you have to take your days off and run errands. You have to buy groceries and get your oil changed and take your pets to the vet and go pick up your dry cleaning. Dry cleaning! It's just terrible.

Usually I have to spend at least one of my days off doing something I don't want to do. It isn't fun and it isn't fair -- and it makes me wish I'd appreciated all that time I spent "bored" in my basement when I was fifteen. God, I miss those days.

So there you have it... those are my nuggets of wisdom from the first quarter century of my life. I hope these shed some light on the world and life and society and all of that. Now it's time for me to take a granny nap.

Friday, January 23, 2015

DIY: How to Fail at Setting Reading Goals

One of my only New Year's Resolutions was to read 50 books in 2015. As of yesterday, January 22nd, I have read one book. It has been almost one month -- nearly 1/12th of the year -- and I have only completed one out of 50 books.

It was a rocky start.

See, if you want to fail at meeting your reading goal, I recommend starting with a book about drug users that is written somewhat from the perspective of someone who is high. I also recommend that it be a book filled with dozens of characters, many of whom have insane names that you're not sure you can even properly pronounce. It also helps if the book is set in a decade you weren't even born in and contains a lot of cultural references that fly over your head.

If you pick that book then you will likely end up in the same situation I was in.

For those who are wondering what book this is so they can go read it themselves, the book is Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon. 

I've owned this book since about 2011 when I read a review that made it seem really interesting and original. I bought it and then I forgot about it until a month or so ago when I saw the trailer for the movie. The trailer looked great, so I figured I had to read the book before I see the movie. Since I own it and all.

The premise is that of a detective story clouded in pot smoke. A private investigator who just happens to be kind of a hippie gets mixed up in this very complicated legal matter about a land developer who may or may not have been kidnapped by his wife and his wife's boyfriend and also the private investigator's ex-girlfriend is having an affair with the land developer and she goes missing also. There's this boat called the Golden Fang that may or may not be linked to said land developer and this is involved also. Then there's this sax player who maybe ODed on heroin but also might be alive and working for the LAPD. And then there's this detective called Bigfoot.

You know, your typical story.

Anyway, the book is written in third person but it weaves in and out of consciousness similar to our hero and protagonist, Doc Sportello. And he has one of the more normal names.

Other characters that we have are:
  • Bigfoot Bjornsen
  • Coy Harlingen
  • Trillium Fortnight
  • Sortilege
  • Shasta Fay Hepworth
  • Ensenada Slim
  • Tariq Khalil
  • Japonica Fenway
  • Dr. Rudy Blatnoyd

This is just a few of the characters. There are probably two dozen more people who are in this book who you are supposed to remember, I guess, but who make like two appearances during the 360 some odd pages.

Now, Inherent Vice isn't a bad book. In fact, some parts of it are very funny and the story itself is pretty interesting. But I was constantly trying to remember who each character was. It was also hard to figure out when something being described was what was actually happening versus what the character thought was happening due to some level of inebriation. I think also that Pynchon knows he's a decent writer and often goes off on annoying rabbit trails to show off his intelligent and witty style. I hate when authors do that. I get it -- you have a decent grasp of the English language. Now let's get on with the story here.

I still want to see the movie. The trailer made it seem fun and the cast is great -- but damn, that book was tough to get through.

Also, I guess I can't really consider my goal a complete fail yet. It's still early, and my next book is Yes Please, Amy Poehler's new book. I have a feeling it won't take me any time at all to read through that one.

If you're also doing a reading goal, you can friend me over on Goodreads. Let's hold ourselves accountable! What books have you read lately?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

eBooks: Why They're Better Than Paper Books (In My Humble Opinion)

I got the idea for this post from a blog post over on Simplicity Relished. It's something I considered blogging about a long while back but never got around to. Daisy's post inspired me.

I'm sure the debate about reading preference will be around for a long while because there are some book people are so passionate about the paper book that it won't fizzle out as quickly as, say, CDs.

I debated this issue a lot in my own mind for years before settling on the fact that I really love eBooks. My Kindle has been a lifesaver for me, and that's not something I ever expected to say.

Back in like 2009-2010, I would have told you that I would forever be a stubborn book snob who would never consider using a Kindle because, like, you need to be able to smell the book and feel the pages and a screen totally ruins the book experience.

But the funny thing is... it didn't ruin the experience. In fact, it kind of enhanced it. Here are a few reasons why I am now a big supporter of various e-readers:

  • You can read in the dark. I love this! At the end of the day, sometimes I'd rather relax by reading a book than watching television. In these admittedly rare instances, I like the fact that I can turn off the lights and sit in bed with my Kindle. It's quiet and relaxing.
  • You only have to tote around one thing! You can put hundreds of books on your e-reader, but you can't exactly carry around hundreds of paper books with ease. It's nice that when I'm at work and I get to the end of one book, I can easily start up a new book on the same device. Otherwise, I would've have had to bring two books to work with me or I would've been bored when I finished the first one. This is also good if you like to read multiple books at once. You can just go back and forth.
  • Save the trees, man! I'm not as environment conscious as I probably should be, but I do think this is a notable win for the e-reader. How many thousands of pages are no longer being printed every year because we're just downloading our books? I'm sure the numbers are crazy.
  • You can prop it up to read. I like to read on my lunch break. I'm currently reading a paper book that I'd bought years ago and never actually read until now. I'm now finding it exceedingly difficult to read while eating. I have to make sure to hold the book in a way to where the book actually stays open. This is hard to do when I'm trying to eat. Multitasking, man! But when I use my Kindle, I just prop it up against something on my desk and then I have both hands free to read. Yay multitasking!
  • It takes up less space. As much as I like having a nice bookshelf full of pretty books, it can be kind of overwhelming to find room when you want to keep getting more and more books. With an e-reader, you simply have all your books on one portable device. Which is great because boxes of books are heavier than they look. I discovered this last time I moved.
  • You can read from multiple devices.  If you happen to forget your [e-reader of your choice] at home, you can always pick up reading on your smart phone or various other devices thanks to apps like the Kindle app. If you're reading a paper book and you don't have that paper book with you, you're kind of out of luck unless you've mastered telepathy. And you can telepathically communicate with inanimate objects. But if that's the case, this entire blog post doesn't really relate to you.
So that's my opinion. Of course, there are pros to having a physical copy of a book as well. But, for me, the pros of eBooks far exceed those points.

What's your opinion? Physical books or eBooks? Or are you undecided? I'd love to hear from you!

Also, PSA, if you haven't entered to win $180 PayPal cash yet, please click here for ways to enter!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Win $180 Cash! This is not a joke

Hey y'all. So Amanda from Knock on Wood and Anne from Love the Here and Now have both recently celebrated their respective blogiversaries and came up with an awesome idea to give back to the readers. They're hosting an awesome giveaway where you can win $180 in PayPal cash. Basically, free money!

Pink Nightmare is participating in this awesome giveaway, so please check out the easy ways to enter below! 

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Middle: Knock on Wood
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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

An Open Letter to Pixie the Cat

Dear Pixie,

When we first met, I probably didn't make a very good impression. I tried to pick you up without realizing how dense you were, and I nearly dropped you. Coupled with the fact that you are very particular about how often you are picked up and how you are held and the length of time you are retained in someone's arms, this was likely a pretty stressful experience for you.

For that, I apologize.

Pixie, I think that our relationship has been doomed from the very start. Unfortunately for you, we didn't really become properly acquainted until your mother whisked you out of the home you'd known for most of your life and plopped you in a new residence with two new people who inhabited that new residence with you.

While your mommy and daddy tried very hard to make you comfortable in this new home, I was more concerned with where the fuck your sister Sookie was hiding because I was actually concerned I'd let her out of the apartment whilst I was bringing stuff in on moving day. Thankfully, Sookie is just a bit mentally deficient and had holed herself up in various nooks and crannies around the new apartment while her tiny brain wrapped around the idea of acclimating to a new home.

But I digress.

Pixie, it probably didn't help when I brought another cat home to live with us. You were finally settled into your new home and were probably just getting used to the idea that I probably wasn't leaving anytime soon. You weren't happy about this, but you were finally settling into acceptance.

And that's when Marnie entered your life. I know it's difficult whenever you have a new sister cat (or cousin cat, I still haven't figured out our little family tree) in the house. It probably doesn't help when said sister cousin is much younger and more playful than you are. Just because she wants to romp around and jump on you does not mean that you want to romp around or be jumped upon. I understand this, but I think you're just going to have to concede on that.
For all of my transgressions, I am very sorry. That is heartfelt and comes from deep within my soul.

However, I don't think I'm the only problem. As with any relationship, there needs to be an equal give and take in order to smooth out any rough patches. And I have not seen any give from you -- only take. Take, take, take.

You take the food that I give you. You take a lot of that, in fact, because you are fat. Your mother (my dear roommate) does not like it when I call you fat. She will then insult your sister cousin for also being fat, though I must continually assert that Marnie is only slightly chubby whereas you, Pixie, are fat... fat, fat, fat.

Maybe I'm not helping our relationship by calling you fat -- but you are not helping our relationship by recoiling from me petting you, hissing at Marnie, and being generally cantankerous.

Seemingly, the only way to solve our discord is for us to simply ignore each other. If we simply live our own lives -- separate, but together -- we may be able to forge a home of harmonious tranquility.

It is going to take some time, some hard work, and a lot of you refraining from ever doing this again:

And, on my end, I will stop my friends from annoying the shit out of you. Although, to be fair, it really is way too damn easy.

With Obligatory Love,

Aunt Cherie

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Ranked: Movies of 2014 (Part Two)

If you read my last post, you know that I am currently ranking all the movies released in 2014 that I have seen so far. Granted, there are dozens of movies from last year that are still on my "to watch" list, so this particular list is not set in stone.

Without further ado, here are my top 10 movies of 2014 (until I see Interstellar, probably)...

Before watching this movie, I'd heard it compared to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and (500) Days of Summer. While I understand the comparisons, I don't necessarily agree with them. And that isn't a bad thing.

There's nothing new about the story Comet is telling. There is, however, something unique in its execution. Comet is, to put it simply, the story of a 6 year relationship -- from the first time the two characters meet to when they are broken up.

The story is not told in a linear fashion. Instead, the story weaves in and out at different time periods in the relationship. Basically, everything is happening simultaneously in parallel universes, but we cut in and out of each moment throughout the film.

Comet stars Justin Long and Emmy Rossum, both of whom are excellent in their roles. My only complaint about the movie is that it does seem a little self-important and the characters are sometimes just a little too clever. They are, however, very real characters as far as their struggles, their aspirations, and their flaws. I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone who likes a good romance movie -- or to someone who likes the "quirky independent film" vibe. 

Despite watching the trailer and knowing this film was about two siblings who are, at the beginning anyway, depressed and suicidal, I still assumed this movie would be funnier than it was. That's probably because its stars, Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader, are most famous for their time on SNL.

I would definitely consider this film a drama. There are humorous moments, but the overall tone of the films is kind of heavy. 

It isn't a perfect film -- there are some eye roll worthy moments -- but it is a very heart-wrenching account of two adult siblings who just don't have it together.

Kristen Wiig is good, but Bill Hader (who is admittedly one of my celebrity crushes) knocks it out of the park. I don't think I'm being biased with that. It's extremely rare to watch an actor (especially a comedic actor) portray a gay character without making it over-the-top and laughable. Bill Hader does this, and he does this very well. He is extremely understated and I think some of the best performances are ones where an actor conveys more with his mannerisms and expressions than with the words he's given in the script.

If anything, watch this movie for that performance. But above all, watch it because it's a damn good movie.

Boyhood has been pretty hyped up lately. When I saw it was on DVD, I jumped at the chance to Redbox it. I love Richard Linklater -- from Dazed and Confused to A Scanner Darkly to the Before Sunrise movies -- and I expected great things from this movie.

This is a very good coming of age movie. Linklater took a huge risk and did something out of the box. He actually filmed this over a period of 11 years -- from 2002 to 2013 -- and captured the development of a boy as he grows into a man.

It's really amazing to see how well this came together into a cohesive whole -- despite the years it took to actually complete filming.

A lot of the complaints I've seen about this movie are that "nothing happens." I would say that is both true and false at the same time. No, there isn't a real "plot" of which to speak. But plenty happens. This is above anything else a character study of a boy (and his family) learning and growing through the years. And that's all it needs to be.

My mother made us go watch this on Christmas Day. I wasn't sure what to expect. On one hand, the screenplay was written by the brilliant Coen Brothers. On the other hand, Angelina Jolie was the director and the movie centered around a guy who was essentially tortured for a long period of time.

Despite all that, I was impressed with the film. It portrays the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who becomes a prisoner of war in World War II. It's a true story and that makes it even sadder.

Essentially, Zamperini can't catch a break. His crappy plane goes down in the ocean. He and a couple of fellow soldiers are stuck on a raft in the middle of the ocean for some ridiculous period of time (longer than 45 days, though I'm not sure exactly how long), at which point they are kidnapped by the Japanese.

It's a difficult movie to watch, but it's definitely worth it. The essentially unknown cast does an amazing job. 

Yes, I'm also surprised that there's a silly comedy this high on the list. What can I say? I love these movies.

It's rare for me to enjoy a sequel as much as I enjoyed this sequel. But there I was, laughing my ass off in the theater for pretty much the entire movie. I stand by my assertion that Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are an amazing duo with perfect comedic timing.

Although the film is basically a rehashing of the first movie, it knows that and it makes fun of itself for that. You see -- when you laugh during this movie -- you're not laughing at the movie, you're laughing with it.

Also, the ending montage alone is worth the ticket price. 

Get me a big box of tissues and bring me some chocolate. It's rare that I like a movie more than I like 
the book. The Fault in Our Stars may be one of those exceptions.

I like the book -- don't get me wrong -- but there are parts of it that are dripping with pretentiousness. The movie manages to avoid most of that without sacrificing the integrity of the characters.

I fully recommend this film to anyone who doesn't mind a little tugging at their heartstrings. I dragged a friend to see it. Afterward, he told me that it wasn't a movie he really wanted to see but he ended up really enjoying it. And renting it from Redbox and watching it again like two weeks later.

It's a movie about teenagers with cancer, but it manages to be very full of life and possibility. That's not an easy thing to do, but this film pulls it off.

Jill of Jill of All Trades wrote a fantastic post about this film. Please check out her post for a more in-depth, detailed explanation of why this movie is awesome. 

To me, Wild is a great film for a lot of reasons. The first reason is because it realistically depicts a woman rising above the wreckage of tragedy and taking her life back into her own hands. Reese Witherspoon plays Cheryl Strayed, a real life woman who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. After personal tragedy leaves her depressed and leads her to make terrible decisions, she decides to discipline herself and walk hundreds of miles as a way to start over.

It's very refreshing to see such a realistic woman portrayed on screen. This woman is far from perfect. She cheated on her husband, used heroin, and was essentially careless with her own health. Despite these flaws, she is strong and she is determined. And she does something that is (sadly) usually referred to as a "man thing."

Another reason that Wild is an excellent film is due to Reese Witherspoon's performance. Reese Witherspoon is one of those actresses who I have always liked, but who I forget about frequently. She stars in romantic comedy after romantic comedy, then she comes out with Walk the Line or Wild and she nails it.

I could expand on this movie forever, but I'll stop here. Just know that it's really damn good and you need to go see it.

Ok. Some people are probably going to roll their eyes at my top three. This is fine. I understand that.

I will preface this by saying that I not only didn't love the first Captain America, but I actually thought it was pretty boring. It was all right, but I put it pretty low on the list of the recent years' Marvel movies.

The Winter Soldier, on the other hand, blew me away. 

There's nothing I can say about this film that hasn't been said already, but this is a non-stop ride from beginning to end. It perfectly combines action and thrills with the occasional bit of humor. 

I think my favorite thing about the recent burst of superhero movies is the fact that they focus more on the characters than on the action itself. 

And, uh, yeah. It's just amazing. I was really surprised at how much I loved this movie.

Hey look. It's another superhero movie. 

The thing about this movie is that I really didn't love the other X-Men movies. First Class was pretty good and the plain old X-Men movie was decent, but the rest didn't terribly impress me.

You'll imagine my surprise when I watched this and it blew me out of the water. I'm a huge fan of the butterfly effect theory. You know, that whole concept that if one thing changes, the entire outcome of the world might be different? That's my very simplistic and probably slightly off-base definition, but it executes my point. 

Wolverine has to go into the past and convince young Xavier to try and stop Mystique from doing a thing which will prevent the mutant's world from essentially crashing and burning. However, anything can happen when you alter the past. Of course, there's the ongoing conflict between Xavier and Magneto. The "will they band together for good?" or "will their pride tear them apart?" aspect of the relationship is present as always.

There's also this really cool scene with Quiksilver (played by Evan Peters of American Horror Story fame). It's actually the coolest scene ever.

Also, Hugh Jackman's ass.

I'm so sorry. My top three movies of 2014 are superhero movies. I'm sorry that I'm not sorry.

I'm gonna be honest. When I first saw a preview for Guardians of the Galaxy, I thought, "What is this shit?" Then, I heard people saying they liked it better than The Avengers.

"Are they kidding?" I thought. Then I was dragged to see it. And holy God in heaven was it great.

Guardians of the Galaxy is basically about a bunch of freaks. The main characters are underdogs who have to save the galaxy. Chris Pratt, whose career has really taken off lately, is the immature yet lovable leader of the freaks. Then there's the token female played by Zoe Saldana, the token genetically modified raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper, and this tree thing voiced by Vin Diesel. You can't make this shit up. Also, it takes place in space. Take all of that and add in a kick ass soundtrack and you've got the best movie (that I've seen) of the year.

So there you have it. Those are my top ten movies of 2014. Please feel free to attack me or agree with me. I'd love to hear your picks as well!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Ranked: Movies of 2014 (Part 1)

Admittedly, I didn't see that many movies in 2014. I'm pretty picky about which movies I'll pay money to watch in theaters and I don't usually go to Redbox since I've got Netflix. However, I did manage to watch a few really great movies in 2014 and a few movies that weren't that great.

Since I'm so picky, I didn't see a 2014 movie that I hated. So none of these movies falls on the "awful" scale for me. I am, however, going to rank the movies I have seen based on how much I enjoyed them. This is part one of two. I was going to make this one post, but it would have been very long. And I'm already kidding myself thinking very many people will read this one.

So this is the "bottom half" of the movies I've seen this year. The top ten will follow in another post. Here we go!

22. Ouija - 4/10

I didn't expect much going into this and it pretty much met my low expectations. One can't really expect much from a horror movie about teenagers that's released around Halloween, at least not these days. This movie was decent enough to keep me entertained, but dumb enough to where the characters pulled out all the cliche horror movie mistakes -- going into alleys alone, walking around with the lights off, etc. The twist wasn't super interesting. The cast did a good job with what they were given, but it was just standard, sub par horror movie fare.

21. Wish I Was Here - 5/10

This movie had a lot of potential but fell pretty flat. I wanted to like it a lot more than I did. Zach Braff, albeit possibly a douche based on what I've heard about him, does have a lot of talent. Unfortunately, his big head sometimes gets in the way of that. This movie tried to be more than what it was, which took away from what could have been a really good character study about a family.

20. Neighbors - 6/10

Another movie where I didn't go in with high expectations. In this case, I ended up liking the movie more than I expected. This is a fun little comedy. Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne play a cute settling-into-adulthood married couple. Zac Efron does an excellent job playing a smooth talking frat boy who just wants to find a way to party. It's not great, but it provides a few really decent laughs. Rogen and Efron play off each other well.

19. The Giver - 6/10

I didn't read this book as a kid, so I have no base of comparison with this. I thought it was a really interesting concept and it was a visually interesting film. Despite that, I just never really connected with the characters that well. I enjoy a good utopia-gone-awry story (ala Brave New World), but I feel like this one had the potential to be better.

That being said, I really did enjoy it and the film sparked my interest in potentially reading the book series. It's always good to see Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep as well.

18. Maleficent - 7/10

If I'm being honest, I didn't know what to expect with this movie. My roommate was very excited about seeing it, so I went along. I ended up being very surprised at how much I liked it. Angelina Jolie, who isn't one of my favorites, does an amazing job playing this character who is so broken she has turned to the proverbial dark side and wants revenge. 

The cinematography and special effects are breathtaking. The supporting cast also does a good job -- including Elle Fanning, who is just perfect as Aurora.

17. Horrible Bosses 2 - 7/10

This one seems to be getting mixed reviews. Although not nearly as hysterical as the first one, I think this is a decent sequel. God knows there have been worse. 

I think the biggest part of Horrible Bosses' success comes from how great Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day are together. The supporting players are all back as well -- Jennifer Aniston as the sex addict dentist, Kevin Spacey being equally cray cray, and badass Jamie Foxx. 

I laughed a lot and didn't feel cheated out of my $11, so I call that a win.

16. The Interview - 7/10

Oh, The Interview. Movie of a thousand controversies. My roommate rented this off YouTube (which -- on an unrelated note -- I didn't know was a thing) a few weeks ago. While it's certainly not the best movie that Seth Rogen and James Franco have put out, it's definitely a unique concept and it's executed pretty well.

The entire storyline is ridiculous, which is fine. It's intended to be that way. James Franco is perfect at playing the more out there, crazy character while Seth Rogen takes a more subdued role. Definitely worth watching, even if only to see what all the fuss is about.

15. Big Eyes - 7/10

It's funny how some of these movies get the same rating from me, but some of them I'm more pleased with than others. Big Eyes is one of those movies that, while I gave it a 7/10, I think could have done better. Maybe I hyped it up too much because it was a Tim Burton movie starring Amy Adams. Maybe the paintings of the little waifs with giant eyes drew me in... either way, this perfectly decent movie did disappoint me a little.

That's not because it wasn't directed well -- it was. It's not that the cast doesn't do a great job -- they do! In fact, Christoph Waltz puts on such a fantastic performance of Walter Keane that I'd consider it one of the best performances I've seen all year.

I don't know what it is. The film was good, but it wasn't great. And maybe I just expected great? I don't know. It's worth watching and it's a perfectly acceptable way to spend an evening.

14. Gone Girl - 7/10

Gone Girl is another one that I liked but didn't love. It's funny because I feel similarly about the book. It's such a clever, well-written story and the film stuck very closely to what I remember from the book (it's been over a year since I read it, but it seemed like a really good adaptation).

The movie is a little longer than I would have liked, but I feel like they did that to avoid having to cut out any important plot points. With this story, there are a ton of important plot points.

The entire cast is phenomenal and the script is, in my unprofessional opinion, really good. I think my problem might be -- like the book -- that I couldn't fall in love with any of the characters. They're all a bit detestable in their own way. Which, I know you don't have to love the characters to like a film -- but it definitely helps.

13. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (Part 1) - 7/10

This is the third in a row of "movies I liked but wished I liked more." Catching Fire was one of my favorite movies of 2013. It exceeded my already high expectations.

The first installment of Mockingjay? Good, but not great. I get that most of this film is setting up for what will likely be the most insane installment of the series, but I couldn't help but think it was a bit overly long. I read one reviewer say they were holding off on drawing a real conclusion to this movie until the second one comes out because the two movies really are just one complete story.

I am, however, really looking forward to seeing how Josh Hutcherson handles Peeta's character in the next one. 

12. Tusk - 8/10

Before Tusk came out, I released my rankings of Kevin Smith's earlier movies. Having watched Tusk now, I would probably put it somewhere between Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Dogma.

Tusk is just like any other movie about a crazy man who turns another man into a walrus. So, if you're into that -- you'll probably like this movie. 

I knew what I was getting into with Tusk before I actually went to see it. Kevin Smith doing a horror movie based on some internet posting he discussed in a pot-fueled haze on his podcast the year before. With Justin Long in a pornstache. It wasn't going to be a serious movie.

That being said, Tusk provides some deranged humor, a unique plot, and good performances from its cast of misfits. What kind of elephant?

11. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - 8/10

I liked The Amazing Spider-Man. I didn't love it. This sequel? I'm bordering on "love."

I've never been a Spider-Man girl. Of all the superhero movies, those were usually considered "lesser" to me. Andrew Garfield is a great Spider-Man and Emma Stone is a great at playing the love interest.

This movie is fun in some places, thrilling in others, and sometimes it can be very sad. I was pretty much on the edge of my seat through the whole movie. I really don't have a lot to say about this other than: watch it. It's good.

Please feel free to comment on my rankings and let me know what your favorite (or least favorite) films of 2014 were! My top ten will be coming soon!



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