104 New To Me Movies: Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)


Title: Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Release Year: 2018
Directed By: Christopher McQuarrie
Written By: Christopher McQuarrie
Recommended by: ME! And Top Gun: Maverick
Star Rating: 4


OK, this is a great movie. It’s so interesting and strange, especially for a late 2010s blockbuster, from a long running franchise. Focused on guilt and accountability and the ways that the past inform everything that we do.

Ethan Hunt is haunted by the ways his life and work have shaped the people around him. He’s pushed the woman he loved (JULIA’S BACK! MI: III for the win baby!!!!) into a precarious world she should have been far away from, and to make matters worse, he just cannot stop the unstoppable Syndicate.

At least he has friends now, and Ethan wants the world to know, that his friends are important to him. Tom Cruise hits “FRIENDS” in this movie the way Vin Diesel hits, “FAMILY” in The Fast And The Furious. And it’s almost as fun. This is also the movie where Cruise actually attached himself to a plane that was taking off, and it is wildly cool to watch.

The real key to this movie is Angela Bassett and Henry Cavill as a pair of skeptical CIA operatives who think that Hunt himself has gone rogue and is aiding the syndicate. Turns out that NOPE, it’s actually Cavill. Bassett is perfect because she always is, and with the death of Alex Baldwin’s Secretary, I’m hoping she comes back in the next one in command.

Anyway, this is a fun action movie, it’s heavy on regret or at least as heavy as this sort of thing can be, without collapsing. It’s pretty cool.

Series Ranking!

Thanks for taking this jump into summer with me. I’m going to get back to some serious serious art soon, but this helped me get closer to being caught up. For now, let’s rank these movies!

  1. Mission: Impossible III – I LOVED this movie. It’s pretty much further proof that I’m just in the bag for JJ and his bullshit. I really need to finish Felicity, and Alias. (This should not be taken as any kind of commitment for me to finish Felicity or Alias.)
  2. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol – Fun! Climbing the tallest building in the world! The team comes together! Great stuff.
  3. Mission: Impossible – Obviously, the original is just a wild, tight and stylish thriller. It bares almost no resemblance to any of it’s sequels except Tom Cruise and Ving Rames are in it.
  4. Mission: Impossible – Fallout – Interested in saying something about it’s main character, brings Julia back. (HEY! I like the stuff from III!)
  5. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation – I’d probably like this movie better if I hadn’t got weird Scientology vibes off it, but I did, so I only like it OK.
  6. Mission: Impossible 2 – Still fun! I love Thandiwe Newton! Just doesn’t hang together as well as all the others.

Happy Summer! It’s going to be a fun one!

104 New To Me Movies: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)


Title: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
Release Year: 2015
Directed By: Christopher McQuarrie
Written By: Christopher McQuarrie
Recommended By: It’s been a week, y’all get it now right?
Star Rating: 4.


A lot of people love these last three Mission: Impossible movies a lot. And I absolutely can see why. I’ve liked Ghost Protocol for a while, (I’d watched it because of Brad Bird), and like that movie, Rogue Nation is wildly fun, embracing the over the top world of Ethan Hunt and The IMF.

I’d carried a hint of resentment towards this one for a while, since it blew The Man From UNCLE out of the water at the box office, but watching it now, (and paired with it’s next chapter, Fallout) something didn’t sit quite right with me.

I tend to sheepishly put my interest in Scientology, the people who have left the cult, and it’s destructive policies aside when I watch Tom Cruise in a movie. But this is a movie that, kind of creepily espouses a lot of Scientology adjacent ideals and it left a bad taste in my mouth. “This One Man must prove to everyone that world needs to be saved from an anarchist cabal out to poison the world with apathy” is…you know…in that neighborhood.

But as an action flick, it’s unimpeachable. The stunts are fun, the chasing are wild, Ethan finding his match in the mysterious Ilsa is a great spine to the thing. The team is bantering in super fun ways. (I’ve come to really enjoy Jeremy Renner in this element and I hope he comes back). So do I think I would rank it higher if I didn’t know the ins and outs of it’s stars terrible religion? Probably, but I do, and I couldn’t shake the feeling about it.

104 New To Me Movies: Mission: Impossible III (2006)


Title: Mission: Impossible III
Release Year: 2006
Directed By: JJ Abrams
Written By: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, JJ Abrams
Star Rating: 4.5


Definitely into using these movies as a way to get caught up because they are just a joy to watch. JJ Abrams’s directorial debut, shows us a settled Ethan Hunt, getting ready to marry the lovely Julia, when he’s called back in to rescue a kidnapped protege (Keri Russell! I love JJ standing by his friends) and then just gets sucked back in as warring IMF execs (Laurence Fishburne and Billy Crudup, be still my heart) set him against a dangerous mercenary played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

God these movies are fun. Shutting off my brain and watching them and laughing and gasping and knowing three steps ahead of the movie who’s the bad guy who we thought was a good guy. (Crudup here, obviously) and watching the escalating silliness of the action sequences. (This time, Ethan swings between buildings in Shanghai like Tarzan! It RULES)

I’m sure I’ll have a ranking of these movies but this one is ranking pretty high and is definitely my favorite of the first three.

104 New To Me Movies: Strictly Ballroom (1993)


Title: Strictly Ballroom
Release Year: 1993
Directed By: Baz Luhrman
Written By: Baz Luhrman, Craig Pearce & Andrew Bovell, from the Play by Baz Luhrman
Recommended By: HEY! We’re getting a new Baz Luhrman movie this week, and this is the only one of his I’d never seen before. I’m UNIQUELY and OVERWHELMINGLY pscyched to see Elvis.
Star Rating: 5


I’m kind of in the bag for Baz Luhrman. I was born in 1987, I love theater and pop music, and am easily distracted by shiny things. To say that Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge! resonated with me as a teenager would a massive, massive understatement.

Which is why it’s sort of odd I never sought out his first movie. But I’m glad I have. This is a fascinatingly restrained film from a man who in a few years will have a bunch of people having gun duels while shouting Shakespeare monologues to sky. There are a few manic, overly stylized sequences, but this is otherwise a lovely grounded little romantic and family drama.

Scott is a perrennial almost champion ballroom dances from a famous ballroom dancing family. Fran is a shy beginner dancer who’s immigrant father is kind of overprotective after losing his wife. They meet when Scott blows a big competition by being too flashy and his partner calls it quits, and Fran convinces him to teach her and partner with her for a big competition. They learn, they fall in love. Scott learns a devastating family secret, they don’t dance together in competition, or win, but they wind up in each other’s arms with each other, and that’s better.

The movie is just so fun, and it’s short and wonderfully shot as definitely work checking out.

104 New To Me Movies: Mission: Impossible 2 (2000)


Title: Mission Impossible 2
Release Year: 2000
Directed By: John Woo
Written By: Robert Towne
Recommended By: Just Me! See my explanation on the First One, as I talk about it being summer and wanting to watch big action blockbusters
Star Rating: 3


I know from reading lots of articles about this series that 2 is considered a low point, and I can sort of see why. It’s got a lot of cool parts that don’t quite work altogether, it’s also a movie that firmly belongs in the year 2000 and manages to dilute the thing that made a giant of action cinema special so that it feels kind of stupid and hollow.

There’s really good stuff in this movie. The duel opening sequences of a rogue IMF agent hijacking a plane to get the McGuffin (this go round a deadly super soldier virus called “Chimera”) while wearing Ethan Hunt’s face and then Ethan himself having a relaxing vacation of free climbing giant rocks in the Australian Outback (COOL). He’s called back in by his new commander (Anthony Hopkins) to recruit a thief played by an incredibly sexy Thandi Newton (I mean, she’s always sexy, but she’s extra hot in this movie)

She and Ethan hook up, turns out she used to be with the bad guy, there are some double crosses and motorcycle chases and obviously slow motion, cuts to random nature imagery and Gregorian Chanting (this may be a Mission: Impossible movie but it’s also a John Woo flick)

The thing is that combining Woo’s aesthetics with the action thriller this needs to be to work as a sequel to Mission: Impossible just, don’t mix. Everytime everything slows down and you hear chanting it feels off, instead of awesome like in Woo’s other movies. I absolutely get why it’s considered a low point.

104 New To Me Movies: Mission: Impossible (1996)


Title: Mission: Impossible
Release Year: 1996
Directed By: Brian DePalma
Written By: David Koepp and Roger Towne, from the TV show Mission: Impossible
Recommended By: No One! I’m just in a very Tom Cruise headspace because of Top Gun: Maverick (SO GOOD YOU GUYS!) and remembered really liking watching the Fast & Furious movies last year to kick off the summer so this seemed like a fun way to do it this year. Also, I would like it noted that Scientology is terrible and Tom Cruise is terrible and I know I’m a giant hypocrite for loving his movies so much you guys, I KNOW.


How had I never seen Mission: Impossible? Well, the answer is, that as I had, just never front to back, in order, without commercials. This was a big, watch a few scenes on TNT movie for me. As I watched it I remembered each sequence individually, but watching the puzzle pieces form into the tight thriller that this movie is, well, that was pretty cool.

What fascinated me the most about this movie though? How quiet it is. Most of the action sequences barely have diegetic sound, let alone score. They’re purely visual, and that’s amazing too! Also the plot is fun, with all the twists and turns and double reverse betrayals.

Tom Cruise hadn’t gone into full maniac mode when this movie was made, and that’s interesting to watch too. Ethan Hunt here is still a very physical performance, but you never feel like Cruise’s life is in danger. (This will not be the case as we move along with this series.)

All in all I’m psyched to get going on this. The only one of the movies I’ve ever watched front to back as Ghost Protocol, so while I’ll be watching it, we’ll skip the review here. But this is going to be a fun summer kickoff, for sure!

104 New To Me Movies: Oz The Great And Powerful (2013)


Title: Oz The Great And Powerful
Release Year: 2013
Directed By: Sam Raimi
Written By: Mitchell Kapner & David Lindsey-Abaire, from the novel Oz by L. Frank Baum (loosely)
Recommended By: Blank Check With Griffin And David
Star Rating: 4


I was 100% ready to go into this movie and absolutely despise it. I’d heard it’s CGI was overwhelmingly difficult to get past, that James Franco was very bad in it and that it was overly long. Of those three complaints I agree with one of them. This movie is too long. And the CGI is bad, but I think the movie’s heart and simplicity overcome it.

Set in Kansas and The Land of Oz some 20 or so years before Dorothy showed up, Oz The Great And Powerful sets up the conflict between Oz’s witches, the ascendancy of a carnival sham artist as The Wizard of Oz and a great battle to stabilize a fantasy world.

It’s a lot, but the main performances are very fun, the script is funny and earnest and I really enjoyed watching it. I kind of wish I had seen it nine years ago so I could have revisited it a bunch and become one of those weird people who made an overlooked movie their whole personality. (Probably not, but it’s possible) Anyway, I liked this, a whole lot.


Here ends Blank Check’s Raimi series. (For me, they still have Doctor Strange: And The Multiverse Of Madness) and they’re doing Bob Fosse next. (I already did some of Fosse with Cabaret a few months ago, and I’ve seen both Sweet Charity and All That Jazz but I’ll be hitting Lenny and Star 80 with them in a month or so.) So, without that in the mix, I’m filling in the blanks on the Mission Impossible series for myself. So that’s what the next few weeks will be. It really helped me get this project off the ground that they did two directors who I hadn’t seen most of their work right in a row.

104 New To Me Movies: Working Girl (1988)


Title: Working Girl
Release Year: 1988
Directed By: Mike Nichols
Written By: Kevin Wade
Recommended By: Mike Nichols: The Biography & Crystan Brodsky (This is Crystan favorite movie, possibly ever?)
Star Rating: 5


There’s going to be a big dump of these over the next few days because I’m trying to get caught up and I have a plan to do so! Anyway, Working Girl, which I have somehow never seen despite it being a perfect 10/10 80s masterpiece, and in the race for the sexiest a person has ever been on film this might be the one pushes Harrison Ford in that decade over the edge.

But I also am loving how these 80s comedies I’m watching, even as mainstream as they were, were thoughtful and quiet and internal. (I had similar thoughts about Tootsie) Tess (Melanie Griffith) isn’t a flashy character, she’s very normal. She wants to move up in her job and be respected, and when she meets someone who does respect her, Jack (Ford being just IMPOSSIBLY SEXY) she’s immediately drawn to him. Her boss, Katharine (Sigourney Weaver) isn’t Miranda Priestly level evil, she’s just, thoughtless and overly ambitious. Tess’s best friend Cyn (Joan Cusack) and her ex Mick (Alec Baldwin) aren’t wrong that Tess’s ambitions are going to drive her further away from them, but they’re also not right in the ways they try to hold onto her.

There’s no clean answers in this Wall Street fairytale, but every character has a story and it’s so well made. This will probably be the end of my mini Nichols film festival (I also rewatched Heartburn and The Birdcage) at least for now, because it’s SUMMER BABY. I’m going to fill in some major blockbuster series stuff.

(I’m cutting the cocktail/wine portion for the time being, since it was getting repetitive, unless I do something special)

104 New To Me Movies: Drag Me To Hell (2009)


Title: Drag Me To Hell
Release Year: 2009
Directed By: Sam Raimi
Written By: Sam Raimi & Ivan Raimi
Recommended By: Blank Check With Griffin And David
Star Rating: 3.5


I was never going to love this movie. I’m grateful for Blank Check’s effect on my movie watching for a lot of reasons. (And hey! I’m seeing the guys live tonight!) But I think the main one, after their coverage of John Carpenter and Sam Raimi, is that there’s a level of just, apathy for me with horror as a genre.

Drag Me To Hell is a wonderfully crafter little movie. Allison Tollman is pretty great in it. It’s nasty and scary and thrilling. And I was so bored. These movies don’t do anything for me. Unless they’re absolutely terrifying me.

Anyway, Drage Me To Hell is highly acclaimed in horror circles and I like it’s subversions, and the seance scene is pure Raimi camp fun, but until then I was mostly unengaged. I wish I could say more about it.

What I Was Drinking

It was Taco Tuesday! I was drinking Corona Light!

104 New To Me Movies: Duck Soup (1933)


Title: Duck Soup
Release Year: 1933
Directed By: Leo McCarey
Written by: Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby, Arthur Sheekman, Nat Perrin (And Presumambly The Marx Brothers)
Recommended By: AFI Top 100 Films
Star Rating: 4


There’s a lot to be said for just over an hour of hilarious comedy bits and that’s why watching a Marx brothers movie sometimes just feels absolutely right.

I was amazed at how much of this movie I’d watched in bits and pieces over the year and I’m even more amazed that I have decided I think Margaret Dumont might have been the funniest person to ever live. I’m a sucker for a good straight man, and she is incredible at being the stone wall The Marx Brothers throw jokes at,

Duck Soup vaguely has something to say about hollow nationalism, the pointlessness of war, and shadow money, but it’s mostly just silly, which I needed. I’ve been in kind of a heavy mode with the movies lately, which is part of why I slowed down. I am ready to be silly. This did that beautifully.

What I Was Drinking

It was some Provencal Rose. It’s the summer. I drink Rose.