The Lottery (2010)


It’s been a long time since I was in grade school. I have vague memories of someone in my class eating paste and being sent to the principal’s office (no, it wasn’t me); of crayons and the lined paper with extra-wide lines; the smell of the cafeteria and the joy of recess; and of a 2nd grade group called Nature Nuts which met outside of class to explore the wonders of the natural world. While my memories are distant, there is no doubt that my elementary education helped shape the person I became. At the time, I didn’t know how lucky I was to attend a good school in my small town. However, after watching The Lottery, I realized that not everyone is given an equal opportunity in education.



Day 100: Catfish (2010)


OK, I am going to come right out and say it. There is no way I am topping my X-Files review from last week today. It’s only once in a lifetime that a person comes up with a snappy phrase like: “eat it, Euclid,” and I already cashed in that chip.  In my defense, Euclid seemed to have a huge ego—granted he was the “father of geometry” but I’ve seen Judge Judy and there was a chance he could have been a deadbeat dad. The point is, I wasted an entirely witty comment on my 99th day, when I should have saved it for my 100th. That was poor planning on my part. I am sure I could have worked geometry i to my review of Catfish. Wait– how the heck did I even work it into conspiracy theories? Oh well, that’s all in the past now (you want a piece of me, Herodotus?).  I have to move on.

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Day 98: Freakonomics (2010)


I have always been kind of a numbers person. I know that, as a woman, the stereotype would be for me to hate math (oh, please, could the big, strong man do this algebra equation for me?), but I actually quite enjoy it. Heck, I even took a finite mathematics class in college “for fun”–and it was. Sigh. I miss matrices (I am not referring the plural version of the Matrix trilogies). I am sure this admission solidifies my status as a nerd, but I suppose I am past the point of trying to avoid this moniker. Naturally, with my affinity towards math and my love of the written word, it should be no surprise that I loved the book, Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. So, imagine how excited I was when I heard they made a movie based on the book and it was on Netflix Watch Instantly. I mean, math AND an adaptation of a good book AND a movie on Netflix. It was almost too much excitement for me to take. Clearly, I need to get out more.

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Day 95: American Teen (2008)


When I was in high school, I had a thing about being on time. I dreaded being late to any event. Looking back, I realize that this was because I was a shy person. I didn’t want to have any extra attention drawn my way, and walking in to a room full of people as they turn to eye the latecomer seemed tortuous to me. I even have nightmares about it to this day. So, many times, I would go to school early. Like really early. My dad was a janitor at the small town high school I attended and worked first shift. He would start at 6 am, so sometimes I would wake up in time to catch a ride with him. Dad would drive the old Renault from our farm through the gravel roads in the wee hours of the morning—usually before the Sun hit the eastern horizon– and I would sit in the stiff passenger seat. I knew the bus would take the same route about an hour later, but it barely made it to school in time for the first bell. If I could help it, there was no way I would be late.

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Day 94: Pressure Cooker (2008)


I feel like my Netflix queue is on the verge of being capped off yet again. With every film I add, I keep my fingers crossed that the title goes through. The feeling reminds me of what it was like when I was a college student and I withdrew money from the ATM. I would always exhale a sigh of relief when the money came out of the machine and my receipt said I still had funds in the account. I breathe that same sigh of relief when Netflix allows me to add another title to my queue. Now, you don’t hit the limit of movies in your queue without some help. I watch a lot of trailers, and like a perfect little consumer, tend to be excited about the movies after I see the commercials for them. And so these films find their way to my list.

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Day 84: Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)


“Documentary” is such a slippery concept. First, there is the oh-so-philosophical question of “what is reality”? Is the chair that I am sitting on “real”? Are my surroundings? Am I? And so on, ad infinitum, habeus corpus, magna cum laude. Once you decide to save answering that question for later, then you face determining what defines a documentary. For example, should a documentary be 100% nonfiction? If so, are reenactments considered “true” since these are scenes played by actors (although they are supposedly rooted in facts)? Also, how do we know we are being presented with the “truth” facts—not information cherry-picked to support a thesis-driven argument? Even then, certain films can be presented as giving all sides of the story, yet hide the biases of the filmmaker. A documentarian could try to be as unbiased as possible, but still inadvertently slant the view of her/his film because of her/his life experiences/education/mood that day. Let’s not even get in to the notion that some people buy documentaries as being always educational and without ulterior motives. And is reality TV considered documentary? Yeah, documentaries are a slippery genre to define. My brain gets all muddled when trying to establish a checklist of what makes a documentary. Then it probably explodes (it’s OK, I have a spare).

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Day 82: Best Worst Movie (2009)


I am sure it is apparent by reading my reviews, but I am a hardcore Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan. I love that show—love it. I remember the very first episode I saw, Manos: Hands of Fate. I was in my parents’ living room with a few friends, when one of them pulled out her VHS copy of this classic. As I recall, I was in high school and arguably my comedic taste preferences were being developed. Most people fell into either the Ace Ventura boat or the more quirky, Monty Python fanbase (you could tell who these fans were because they each had a distinct silly walk). Thanks to MST3K, though, I fell into both. This show taught me to appreciate the utter silliness in movies (both good and bad), yet through their offbeat references, I also began to seek out the obscure shows they quoted. After the first show, I was hooked.

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Day 79: Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (2010)


I have probably mentioned it before, but I have an almost compulsive desire to watch film and television awards shows. I download ballots, make my predictions, and prepare some tasty tidbits to snack on while I sit through the 14-hour Oscars (or whatever show happens to be on at the time). Usually, at about hour 5, I get bored. The speeches sound the same, the wrong people tend to win, and the commercial breaks are of epic proportions. Funny enough, I blame Joan Rivers for this unhealthy fascination. E! Entertainment Television used to broadcast her “best and worst dressed” Oscar shows throughout the entire day of the Academy Awards. After we brushed up on our fashion “do’s” and “don’ts” my siblings and I settled in for the pre-show where Joan would talk to various celebrities on the red carpet. Ultimately, after several years, E! (don’t forget the exclamation point—everything is better with an exclamation point!!) axed the show and replaced it with something far less interesting.

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Day 67: Walking With Dinosaurs (1999)


I know I have mentioned it before, but I have a pretty major fear of dinosaurs (yes, you read that right). I vividly remember nightmares I had as a child where I would open my bedroom blinds only to discover an enormous eye looking in at me. And that eye belonged to none other than a T-Rex. Eeek! I also was anti-straight door knobs and pro- round knobs—everyone knows that raptors can’t grip the globe-shaped handles. Sure, I spent a little too much time reading up on whether it is best to stay perfectly still or run when confronted by a dinosaur; but we will see who is laughing when the dinosaurs organize and prepare their assault on society. Not so crazy now, is it? (She says as she puts on her tin foil hat).

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Day 57: Encounters at the End of the World (2007)


Encounters at the End of the World just wasn’t what I thought it would be. Come to think of it, I don’t know what I expected from this film. I did know it had something to do with Antarctica, that it wasn’t about a family of penguins, and that it was directed by Werner Herzog (who is perhaps most recently known for his film, Grizzly Man). I also I knew it was nominated for a “Best Feature Length Documentary” Oscar (I don’t know why I actually bother to use this as a measure of a film’s quality, but, sadly, I still do at times) . And, as reliable as death and taxes, I added it to my queue shortly thereafter. As to be expected, I ended up watching this film a few years after I put it on my queue. Typical me.

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