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Five Cool Things and the Fourth of July

Happy Birthday, United States of America.
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It is a holiday weekend and I'm making the most of it. So let's get right into this week's cool things. Woman in the Dark I've been watching a lot of movies from the 1930s of late and it is fascinating to me how the ones that aren't that great (like this one) are still strangely interesting. Like somehow the ways in which a not-great movie from the 1930s is so different from a not-great movie made today. If I watched a movie that was similar to this but made in the last few years, I'd find it completely forgettable,

Five Cool Things and Pearl Jam Uncensored

Here's five films I've watched this week and enjoyed.
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I'm a huge fan of Letterboxd, the social networking site for film nerds. It is a great way to track what your watching, find things to watch, and connect with other film lovers the world over. One of the many things I love about it is that it allows you to view the films you've watched through various lenses. For example, I can view data on all the films I've watched this year and sort it by the decade the films were released in. I did that earlier today and found that out of the 184 films I've viewed in

Five Cool Things and Ian Holm

We are still staying home and still finding cool things to watch.
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I was realizing today that we've been on lockdown since mid-March. That's a little over three months in which my family has hardly gone anywhere. I miss doing stuff. I've been lucky in that my job allows me to get out of the house, but in ways that remain for the most part quite safe. My wife hasn't been so lucky and I know there are times when she's gone a bit stir crazy. Me too. We were never the sort of people who were constantly out and about with a million extra-curricular activities but on Saturdays, we did like

Five Cool Things and Bill & Ted Face the Music

Here's another five cool things.
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Our house has two stories but only one HVAC unit. This means that the upstairs (where my bedroom is) always remains about ten degrees warmer than downstairs. This isn't so bad in the winter when you want it to be warm, but as summer creeps in, it gets hotter and hotter upstairs. So much so, that the afternoons are usually unbearable. Since the whole lockdown thing started, I've been doing most of my movie-watching upstairs. Our living room is usually full of hustle and bustle between my wife doing various things and my daughter running around like a lunatic. Upstairs

Five Cool Things and Lovecraft Country

I love me some boutique movie labels.
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Over the last few years, I've really upped my movie-watching game. I've gone from watching around 10 movies per week to watching at least 20. I've also tried to be deliberate with what I choose to watch. Instead of just throwing something on, I've created monthly themes and tried to watch more movies I have never seen before. While I've definitely tried to watch more classics, I've also enjoyed watching more older films that aren't necessarily classics. I've been helped in this endeavor by boutique labels like Shout! Factory, Arrow Video, and Kino Lorber. These labels and more are putting

Five Cool Things and Perry Mason

This week we take a deep dive into Italian horror for my cool things.
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I started this month planning to watch a bunch of movies from the late, great, Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune. I did watch a couple of his films and started a couple of more but then I had to review a film noir collection and that put me on a noir roll. At the beginning of the month, I was still fighting slow internet speeds with more people being home due to Covid-19. The Criterion Channel seems to have more trouble than most streaming services with slow internet and since they were the only service hosting films with Mifune in them,

Five Cool Things and Tenet

Enjoy some cool things I watched this week.
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Every week, I tell myself that as soon as I watch or read or listen to something cool I am going to sit down and write a few paragraphs about it. Almost every week, I do not do this. If I were to do this, it would make writing this column so much easier. I could simply cut and paste the things I've already written into a new, combined document. Instead, I find myself rushing madly on the weekend to pull together coherent thoughts on five different things that I consumed days or even weeks before. One day, I might

Five Cool Things and Fred Willard

Strap yourselves in for I've got some cool things to show you.
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I recently received, watched, and reviewed a boxed set of three films from Kino Lorber entitled Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema II. Ever the completist, I also snagged a copy of Part One of that series and watched them all - eight films total - over the last week. That's a lot of movies to watch in a short period of time. That's a lot of movies within the same genre to watch back-to-back-to-back. I'm the sort of person who forgets the details of something I've watched within a couple of days of watching it. When I watch

Five Cool Things and I Know This Much Is True

Cool things, I've got your cool things right here.
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This long lock-down, shut-in has created some interesting situations, not all of them bad. Don't get me wrong, I hate this virus and I want it to go away forever, but that doesn't mean it hasn't forced upon us some things that are good. For example, I've reconnected with some old friends. I stayed in touch with my old college buddies longer than most. For years we regularly e-mailed, called each other, and had periodic get-togethers. But then, like so many old relationships, especially those in which the participants live miles apart, the connections became fewer and far between. I

Five Cool Things and Movies from the 1930s

My movie theme for April was films from the 1930s, here are six cool ones.
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For the month of April, I decided that my theme should be movies made in the 1930s. Actually, my original plan was to do the 1940s but after watching several gangster movies made in the '30s last month and realizing that I'd only seen a handful of films from that decade, I made the switch. The 1930s were a fascinating time for film. The Jazz Singer, made in 1927, became the first financially successful "talking" picture. This created a rush in the production of other sound pictures, but the technology was still in development and most theaters were not yet

Five Cool Things and The Lemonheads

My house might be a wreck and my yard is a jungle, but I'm still watching some cool movies.
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I mowed and weed-eated my yard today. A small accomplishment I know, but one that felt good. Our house is a wreck. The garden lays fallow save for a few wild strawberries that have come back from last year's planting. Though we spend most of our weekends at home, we just can't find the energy to do much of anything. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way as my social media feeds are filled with people in similar situations. One of the odd things about this virus and the quarantine is that so many of us

Five Cool Things and Punky Brewster

Here are the cool things I consumed this week.
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Last weekend, I went for a walk around the neighborhood with my wife and young daughter. Along the way, she saw some of her friends playing in the yard. One of them ran over to my daughter to give her a hug. I had to shout at her, screaming that they shouldn't be touching each other. Later this week, my daughter had her birthday. All things considered, it was a good day. We Facetimed the grandparents to let them see her open her presents. Many of her friends did drive-bys; they pulled up to the curb and she got to

Five Cool Things and John Prine

It's a week full of gangsters, cool and otherwise.
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Many years ago, back when I was writing for another site, I requested to watch and review a new DVD set called Warner Gangsters Collection, Vol. 4. It contained five movies from the '30s and '40s starring guys like Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, and George Raft. I was a pretty big Bogart fan at the time and gangster movies sounded fun so I was excited to find it in my mailbox. I watched The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse first because it starred both Bogart and Robinson and had that ridiculous title. I hated it. While I was already a fan

Five Cool Things and a Murder Most Foul

Another week of self-isolation, another week of cool things.
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This month's theme was movies in which one character or multiple characters were going mad. I called it March Movie Madness. I did pretty well for the first couple of weeks, and then the virus came and scared the crap out of everybody. Naturally, I turned to apocalyptic movies then. Turns out, zombies and viral outbreaks also tend to star folks who are going quite mad. So all and all, it hasn't been a bad month, theme-wise. But it wasn't as good as it could have been. What I've learned is that choosing a theme that involves something slightly intangible

Five Cool Things and (Another) Run

Never fear the viral outbreak has not kept me from consuming cool things.
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Week #2 of Coronavirus quarantine. I'm not actually all that shut-in. On normal days, I work from home about 50% of the time. The other time I'm in my truck driving to different jobs and doing various manual labor tasks, or going to the bank, or running to the city to pick something up. Most of those things don't really involve interacting with others face to face. While I am home working, my wife and child remained cooped up in the house and that brings lots of interference into my working day. That's not meant to sound like a complaint.

Five Cool Things and Another Five Things

After a week off, I'm back with many cool things.
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It has been a weird week. My wife's mother just had hip replacement surgery and the original plan was that my wife would be leaving us today to spend time with her mom. This coming week is Spring Break which means my daughter will be out of school. I still have to work and so there was a bit of a conundrum about what to do with the girl. I kind-of, sort-of work from home so we didn't need to find full-time childcare, but we also didn't want her to sit around watching TV all day. Nor would she be

Five Cool Things and Candyman (2020)

Foreign Film February comes to and end with a lot of very American movies and the conclusion of a terrific French series.
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I watched 23 films in the month of February. That's not quite one film a day but it isn't bad either. My theme this month was foreign films and I watched 14 movies not made in the United States and not initially using the English language. I write "initially" because I watched a few low budget Italian horror films and I could only find them in dubbed versions. Still, I call that a victory. My tentative theme for March is Madness. No, I won't be watching basketball movies, or even sports ones. But rather I'm using the basketball nomenclature and

Five Cool Things and Run

There's a little bit for everyone - Stephen King fans, French film buffs, Italian horror fans, arthouse nerds - in this week's cool things.
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Last month, I watched, on average, over one movie per day. I knew going into February I would not keep up with that schedule. My plan was to watch some of the many television shows I'd missed that everyone keeps talking about. I've managed to not only not watch as many films but also I've hardly watched any series. It has just been one of those months where my pop-culture consumption has been down. Luckily, this week the things I did consume happened to also be pretty cool and so I have plenty to talk about. Bed and Board The

Five Cool Things and The French Dispatch

Another week, more cool things.
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Last week, I talked about how the themes of this month were going to be foreign films and films made by and starring people of color, in honor of Black History Month. I have utterly failed on that last one. Films by people of color are a large hole in my cinematic viewing history and I really do need to start filling it. But like so many other times when I’ve failed at watching certain types of films during one month, it all comes down to availability. White males have dominated the film industry since there was a film industry,

Five Cool Things and The Jesus Rolls

Foreign Film February is off to a great start.
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After a very successful January in which I watched many films from director Jean-Pierre Melville, I couldn’t decide on a theme for the month of February. I knew I wanted to go with some kind of topical theme rather than choosing another director or star as I feared choosing another director would mean that each month would be nothing but directors and perhaps actors, and it seems more fun to mix it up. Eventually, I narrowed it down to two choices: movies made by or starring African Americans as it is Black History Month, or foreign language films as Foreign

Five Cool Things and A Quiet Place Part II

January was a great month for cool things. Here's hoping February has just as many.
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I officially watched 34 movies in the month of January. That’s more than one movie per day. That’s a record for me. Only nine of those were movies I’d previously viewed. Six of those were from Jean-Pierre Melville, my Artist of the Month. I really enjoyed trying to watch a bunch of Melville films in January. I didn’t see all of the movies he directed but that’s a pretty good chunk. I’m not sure what my theme will be in February, but I’ll have to decide by tonight. I also suspect I won’t keep up my pace. There are a

Five Cool Things and the Year of the Rat

Happy Chinese New Year, everybody.
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I watched a lot less Jean-Pierre Melville films this week than I did last week. In fact, I only watched one, but it was a really good one. I'll probably try to catch another couple this coming week to finish out my month of Melville and then I'll have to decide what February's theme will be. But what I missed in Melville this week I made up for in lots of other random things. I tell ya, I must have been eating my Wheaties or something this month. I regularly struggle finding five cool things to talk about each week.

Five Cool Things and Neil Peart

This week I dig deep into French director Jean-Pierre Melville's films and we mourn the loss of a great drummer.
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For the last two years, I have spent the months of October and November viewing movies through a theme. In October, I’ve naturally watched as many horror movies as I could, and in November, I’ve been a part of #Noirvember (November + Film Noir). Like most people, I suppose I typically watched movies randomly. I turn on various streaming services, or look through my DVD collection and watch whatever looks interesting at that moment. It has been really fun to watch movies through a theme. At the end of both of these months, I’ve thought of ways of extending this

Five Cool Things and Another New Cat

Another week filled with cool new things.
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Last month, I finally broke down and subscribed to Disney+. With The Rise of Skywalker coming out, I knew we’d want to watch some of the films, and with my daughter off for Christmas break, I knew we’d enjoy watching some Pixar or Marvel movies. We’d also be spending a week at my in-laws with all my wife’s family so I figured I could bring my Amazon Fire box and we’d all enjoy Disney+ more than regular cable TV. All of this was true, but mostly I wanted to watch The Mandalorian, Disney+’s new Star Wars series. We had a

Five Cool Things and Hunters

A new year brings many new cool things.
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I hope everyone had a great holiday season. I had a great time with mine and my wife’s family. I received some wonderful gifts (including that spectacular Godzilla set from Criterion and some Grateful Dead socks). I also got some much-needed rest. With a couple of weeks off, I have lots of cool things to talk about. It was really hard to just pick five, but never fear, I’m sure I’ll slip some of the things I consumed over my break during the next few weeks. Universal Horror Collection, Vol. 3 This collection from Shout Factory continues to cover Universal

Five Cool Things and Wonder Woman 1984

My last cool things until 2020
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It is, as the song says, beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Around here anyway. The tree is up, stockings are hung, presents are piling around the room. We don’t have a fireplace and there is no snow, but Christmas is certainly coming. This means two things for me and this little column. This time of year means the prestige, Oscar-hopeful films are all in the theaters and the big boxed sets and designer blu-rays are being released in hopes of catching all that Christmas money. I’ve spent the last week or so watching numerous films in a couple

Five Cool Things and No Time to Die

Even a head full of junk can't keep me from cool things.
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I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I enjoyed some time with my family (who I don’t see that often even though we all live in the same town) and ate way too much turkey and pie. Obviously, I took the week off from writing about Five Cool Things, but I did, in fact, consume many cool things over the last few weeks, so let’s talk about them. Briefly. Truth be told, this post-Thanksgiving week I’ve felt pretty miserable. Change in seasons always mess with my allergies and this week has been a doozy. I’ve not been sick-sick, so I’ve

Five Cool Things and Honey Boy

I watched some movies this week, and rediscovered an old game.
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This week, I saw consumed some new things, but mostly revisited older ones. I also found and rediscovered things I thought were gone. I bought a Kindle back when my eight-year-old daughter was just a baby. I bought the cheap one, without any fancy software that lets you do things besides reading (because I knew I'd do everything but read on it if it was available). I wanted to be able to read with one hand so I could hold her in my lap while doing it. I loved it. Still do, actually. I'm still a huge fan of real

Five Cool Things and Knives Out

Who needs Disney+ when we've got the Criterion Channel?
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Disney+ launched this week and it seems to be all anyone can talk about. When it was initially announced, I was excited about it. Figured I’d subscribe the very first day, and thought it might be a replacement for Netflix. Now that it's launched, I find I’m not all that interested. The thing is I already own the good Marvel movies, or I’ve watched them recently, and the other ones I’m not all that keen to see again. Ditto with the Star Wars films. There are some Disney animated films I’d like to see again, but those aren’t the type

Five Cool Things and Martin Scorsese Takes on the MCU

I am joined by a guest this week.
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We are right smack in the middle of Noirvember and it has been super fun reading everybody's discussions on the various film noirs they've been watching. My own experience has been pretty good. I've seen some excellent noirs, some not so excellent, and I've gotten distracted by films that aren't noirs at all. I finished a couple of horror films that I didn't get to during last month's 31 Days of Horror film watch. Also cool this week, I am joined by a guest and fellow Sentry, so let's get started. The Blob (1958) The wife and I started this

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