Happy New Year

happy-new-year-2017

Have a safe New Year.

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2016 Movie of the Year

 

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Our final category of the year is Movie of the Year. The movies I saw this year were rather average, but there were a couple good ones. I didn’t see Force Awakens until this year; a good movie but not original enough to win the movie of the year. I haven’t seen Rogue One yet. This year’s winner is…

The Adjustment Bureau. As unoriginal as Force Awakens was, The Adjustment Bureau was the opposite, with a creative premise around free will versus determinism. The what-would-you-do questions that the movie created was the highlight to a pretty average year of movie watching.

Honorable Mention: Zooptopia. A little blunt with their message, but overall an enjoyable movie for all ages.

Dishonorable Mention: Prometheus. This prequel to one of the eeriest movies of all time (Alien(s)), was too similar to the original. The slow build was way too slow – I stopped caring halfway through the movie.

Movie Review: Sing

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Released: 12/21/16

It has been a busy year for talking animals. We had a fish with short-term memory loss looking for her parents (Finding Dory), discovered what our pets do when we aren’t around (The Secret Life of Pets), a bunny who wanted to be a cop (Zootopia), and now animals in a singing contest (Sing). My cat wanted to try out, but was disappointed when auditions weren’t held at four o’clock in the morning.

Buster Moon loves the theater, but his theater is bankrupt. In a desperate attempt to save his theater, he will put on one more show – a singing competition. He gets more participant interest than he expected when his secretary accidentally types $100,000 instead of $1,000 for the prize money. Instead of cancelling the show, he just rolls with it.

The animation was fantastic. You can tell when Hollywood gets a new toy, because they always love to play with it (e.g. The Matrix); in this case it was fast motion animation. At least half a dozen scenes used this fast motion animation that I had never seen before; it looked impressive and difficult.

As far as plot goes, I was a little surprised that for all his showmanship, Buster never produced a hit. We see throughout the movie that he has a near con-man personality, and as he preps for the singing competition, he clearly has a great deal of showmanship, yet he can’t produce a hit? That seems…odd.

The singing itself was very good. I wasn’t crazy about the song selection, however. All the songs were hits from the past, and I recognized all of them, but I am not about to run out and buy the soundtrack. For a movie about singing, you would expect a great soundtrack and I would rather have the soundtrack from The Martian – a movie about space (where no one can hear you scream).

If you like The Voice, American Idol, or anthropomorphic animals, Sing is a great choice. If you don’t, why would you go see a movie titled Sing? Maybe next year the talking animals can rest a bit and let Cars and Legos do the talking.

WWYT Rating: 6.5

IMDB Rating: 7.3

2016 Hallmark Movie of the Year (Holiday Edition)

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This was a surprisingly good crop of holiday-themed movies this year (I should say Christmas-themed since there isn’t any mention of Hanukkah or other holidays). Since I didn’t review any of the movies individually, I’ll use this post to do a quick catch up of all the movies after first announcing the Hallmark Holiday Movie of the Year.

Hallmark Movie of the Year (Holiday Edition):

My Christmas Love (6.84) – Hopeless romantic, egocentric serial dater thinks she gets all the gifts from the Twelve Days of Christmas song. They aren’t even for her. The gifts were fun and the rest of the cast was hilarious.

Honorable Mention:

A Heavenly Christmas (6.81) – Workaholic actually seems happier in death than in life.

Mistletoe Promise (6.79) – Woman looks like she should be a White Walker from Game of Thrones, but is still charming as the fake girlfriend.

Dishonorable Mention: A Nutcracker Christmas (5.69) – An overly ambitious project for Hallmark falls flat on its face. The actors couldn’t dance and the dancers couldn’t act.

The Rest:

Christmas List (6.62) – Perfectionist tries to have the perfect Christmas because her mother never let her have it.

Broadcasting Christmas (6.61) – Woman competes against her ex-boyfriend for her dream job. Again.

Sleigh Bells Ring (6.56) – Woman tries to organize a Christmas parade in two weeks. Made more difficult since she tries to use Santa’s sleigh and it keeps disappearing.

A Wish for Christmas (6.55) – Woman wishes she had courage for Christmas. She turns into miss bossy-pants.

Love You Like Christmas (6.55) – Woman finds her Christmas spirit when she is trapped in a Christmas-obsessed town.

A Dream of Christmas (6.55) – Woman wishes she had never married. Not even a little bit like It’s a Wonderful Life.

My Christmas Dream (6.51) – Woman falls in love with an employee that she fired. Gives up her dream job for some reason.

Christmas Cookies (6.28) – Marketing executive goes to small town to shut down a Christmas cookie factory.

Every Christmas Has a Story (6.24) – Reporter says she hates Christmas so is forced to find her Christmas spirit in a small town.

A December Bride (6.18) – Woman is expected to forgive her cousin for stealing her fiancé because “she’s family”

Looks Like Christmas (6.18) – Single man tries to give his daughter a special Christmas, butts heads with local OCD woman.

Christmas in Homestead (6.13) – Movie star falls in love with small town mayor. Movie basically admits that it will never work.

Journey Back to Christmas (6.01) – Pfft, who actually think Hallmark can get time travel right?

2016 Hallmark Movie of the Year (Non-Holiday Edition)

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Hallmark is expanding their movie seasons. They start with Winterfest, then Valentine’s Day, followed by Spring Fling, then June Weddings, before a short break before Fall Harvest rolls into Christmas (a separate category). This year’s Hallmark Movie of the Year is…

Valentine Ever After – From my review: “While it is a pretty standard plot, what I liked about Valentine Ever After was that Julia fell in love with the area first, then she found something that she liked doing (planning a fundraiser for the hospital), and then (and only then) did she fall in love with the guy.  Too many times in Hallmark movies is it backwards (or even worse — they quit the job that they love or give up their gorgeous condo without consideration for how they will feel months or years down the road.)  You can also add another jilted fiancé to the Hallmark pile, and at least he had the decency to be upset rather than shrug his shoulders and move on with his life as if his fiancée didn’t just dump him for another man.”

Honorable Mention: Summer Love – A woman falls in love with her boss. Then sues the company for millions. Ha! No, everything turns out fine, because it’s Hallmark!

Dishonorable Mention: Love on a Limb – Petulant city employee fails to do her job and chains herself to a tree instead of trying to find a solution to the problem.

2016 Food Establishment of the Year

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Moving to a new city has opened up an entire new selection of restaurants this year. Of course, I really didn’t eat at all the restaurants in my last city, but now I have a new city to explore. With the abundance of casinos in Reno, there is no shortage of high-quality restaurants to try. This year’s winner is…

Bimini: The steakhouse located in the Peppermill casino is my top choice for the year. They had some small slip-ups in service and food prep, but the overall quality of the food was the best I had all year, especially in comparison to the Atlantis Steakhouse, which was also very good, but the food quality, while good, was noticeably lower than that of Bimini.

Honorable Mention: El Paisano’s. The pupuseria y taqueria exposed me to a new food (pupusa) and gave me the tacos I have been looking for since Chicago. Excellent street food at affordable prices, I have been back several times already this year.

Dishonorable Mention: Me. Despite the new city and an abundance of new options, I only reviewed eight restaurants. I hope I can get to a few more places next year – there are plenty more steakhouses to visit (a staple in any casino, but I’ll try to avoid the “$9.99 Prime Rib” variety). There are also plenty of brewhouses to visit as well.