Friday, January 31, 2020

Let's Get Ready to Schmoedown!

One of my favourite Youtube movie reviewers was the Schmoes Know. The Schmoes Mark Ellis and Kristian Harloff's channel has changed a lot since I first discovered them several years ago. The big thing is that they no longer really review movies anymore and they have changed their channel to the Schmoedown Eterntainment Network. There two big things now are a daily live morning talk show where they discuss movies, pop culture and farts and a WWE meets movie trivia league that is big enough that it actually has live events around the United States. Both guys are really talented and very funny. I think the morning show is worth checking out, but the really unique thing is their movie trivia league. I get the sense that it is only going to get bigger and maybe one day will land a cable TV deal. You can check out all the fun on their channel.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Warning About the Next Month on the Blog

I know that I already said that the daily output on here for the next month was going to either be promotion pieces, video or short riffs along with the one or two wide release movie reviews until at least March due to the massive amount of writing projects that I have right now (a good problem by the way). I just wanted to say that there is a good chance that my reviews in February are going to need to be cut in about half just for the sake of time. It also means that if I shorten the reviews than I may be able to sneak a few more in the coming month. I'm also contemplating doing a a quick compilation of movies and shows that I've watched or books that I've read with maybe a one line thought for the stuff that I don't have time to do full reviews. Also for most of the movies, there will be still be The Movie Breakdown review, which is usually at least 15 minutes of discussion on a film, which is pretty substantial.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Back to the Drawing Board

In my free time, I've been plugging away at attempt number two for the Toronto Star Short story Contest and it is now very clear that I am now ready for attempt number three. This time around my short story did not mutate into a novel, but instead, the idea in its current form refuses to become any kind of story. I just can't make it work. It is a meandering mess. It is an idea that I still think has potential but with about a month left to get this finished, I don't have the time left to try to spark some life into this current idea. I'm off to dig into the idea bag and come up with something that works now.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Today's The Day is Almost Done Question

What potato chip flavor tastes the most like what it is advertised as?

Or

Does any chip really taste like it is advertised?

While you're here. We have ketchup, mustard and pickle flavours, so how far are we from Lays teaming up with Miracle Whip for a new flavour?

Monday, January 27, 2020

The Breakdown of 'The Gentlemen', 'A Fall from Grace', 'One Cut of the Dead' and 'Hearts Beat Loud'


We are now into the full swing of reviewing movies again on The Movie Breakdown. This week we discuss a picture that I've been really looking forward to with Guy Ritchie's return to the comedic crime caper, The Gentlemen. I was less excited about Tyler Perry's return to melodrama but we still review A Fall from Grace. We also discuss a movie that made Scott's best of the 2019 in One Cut of the Dead. Our next review is a touching movie about a father and daughter's shared love for music in Hearts Beat Loud. Then we discuss what we think is the magic formula for mid-budget movies gaining box office success.

As always, we really appreciate you listening to the show. If you love this episode then please share it with other movie fans.

Reminder that you can subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes (if you enjoy the show, please help us by giving us a five star review)



The Movies' Rating Out of Four Stars

The Gentlemen ** (CS)
A Fall from Grace * (CS) & *½ (SM)
Hearts Beat Loud *** (CS & SM)
One Cut of the Dead *** (CS) & **** (SM)

Sunday, January 26, 2020

6 Ways To Make Today Great

1. Be grateful.
2. Let someone know how much you love them.
3. Really care about the big things that matter.
4. Don't give a fuck about the small things that don't.
5. Really listen to someone.
6. Share something you enjoy.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Back to Bed

No The Gentleman review today. I woke up cursed with nausea, dizziness and weakness, and it looks like I am going to be married to a bucket and spending the remainder of the day in bed.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Oops, This Short Story was a Novel

I thought that I had a really good idea for my 2500-word short story for the Toronto Star Contest. But then that idea grew before my eyes and the little pebble expanded into a boulder. What seemed like it would be a small snapshot of a person's day actually turned out to be a long several months road trip. I'm now so deep into it that there is no way of hacking it down to short story length anymore. This is what happens sometimes with the creative process. You end up not knowing what you have until you start writing it. I'm excited to have another novel in me. But I'm less excited that I now need to come up with another short story for the contest and hope that one can be 2500 words.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

8 Things You Must Do Today

1. Tell someone you love them.
2. Show someone you love them.
3. Take a deep breathe, exhale and then smile.
4. Play.
5. Whatever you buy or pay off, be excited that you were able to do that.
6. Dance.
7. Say 'thank you' as often as you can.
8. Randomly make an animal noise.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Sick Kid Curveball

I woke up at six this morning to the unpleasant sounds of Danika getting sick in her bed this morning. That would be the second time this school year of a kid starting their day with getting sick in their bed, Everett did the deed a few months earlier. That means once again the first hour of the day is spent cleaning up pajamas, bed sheets and stuffy friends while also trying to arrange for someone to take the healthy kid to school while I stay home with the sick one. This also means that what was going to be a day to really get ahead on client work and do some work on my other writing project (books, short story) has now been replaced by looking after sick child while squeezing in the must get done writing work. This is the fun in store for the parent that works from home and is 'flexible.'

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

A Blog Address and What to Expect the Next Month and a Half

At the start of the year, I made a list of 20 goals that I had for 2020. One of my goals was to post something on this site every single day. Looking back now, I think that goal may have been a little unreasonable. There is potential that I may be gone for several weeks this year, which will make it really hard to get something up for those days. Plus, there are days that I have a significant amount of paying work and whatever crazy things family life throws my way that could make it hard to write anything of substance that day. Instead, my goal should have been to write 365 posts in the year, since I would have those days where I could write more and catch up.

The goal was never really about an exact number of posts written on here, though. Instead, the goal is more to stay consistent and not fall out of the habit of regularly posting articles -- which is a thing that I've done far too often the last several years.

Technically, I have achieved my goal so far this year with something posted every single day this year. But you could definitely challenge the quality of what I have written on here this year. I've only written two movie reviews and most of my other work has been videos or quick riffs. I even had a post devoted to a piece of clothing. Definitely not the stuff that will win me my Pulitzer Prize and to be fair, outside of the movie reviews that do take me some time, everything else has been stuff that I can crank out in under 30 minutes or much less.

The big thing for me is having a realistic goal of what I can achieve on this site. I have always been aware that I am not going to be breaking movie news on here considering that I have no connections and live in the small city of Brantford that is about as un-Hollywood as you can get (though, Silent Hill was filmed here because they needed a place that resembled a ghost town). But what I need to get better at is not feeling that I have to rush out my movie reviews or have my take on a news item right away and if life gets in the way of getting it out quickly to not believe that it has lost value. I need to start having the confidence that my contribution to the conversation has value outside of how fast that I can get it out. I have bought into the big website mentality that timeliness and being first is everything rather than putting more value in quality and thoughtfulness.

I also don't need to comment on every bit of movie news or have something substantial every single day. I want this blog to be fun. Fun for the reader but also fun for me. I plan to write more about what makes me passionate or what I find interesting, and less concerned about how many unique views it will achieve. My goal is still to eventually launch a Patreon and make some money off this site, but that can only happen if there are consistent and high-quality articles that justify people putting money down to read.

Even though my lack of posting the last few years would seem to contradict this, my mentality has been that I need to write about what is hot and get things up as soon as possible. The problem has been when I have failed that, I then get into a deep emotional funk and depressed. The goal this time around is to avoid the burn out that has happened every single time, and actually have some perspective on what I can manage. What I can manage is write when I can write and get it posted when I can get it posted. I do want to be consistent, but along with all the other projects that I am trying to do, I also want to be realistic.

What this all means is that the next month and a half is going to continue to be short 'check-in' posts with a few movie reviews scattered in along with the weekly podcast. I have the Toronto Star Short Story contest, a novel I'm revising, a non-fiction book I've been working on and several other writing jobs that need my top focus along with being a good dad and husband. This means that I probably can't focus much more then a few minutes a day on the blog until March.

My hope is still to post something every single day even if it is just a quick note letting you know what I've been working on for the day or to post a cute picture of the dogs or kids. The consistent posting even if the posts haven't been substantial has turned out to give really good numbers to the blog. I want to keep that up, so it makes sense to just do 'throw-away' posts rather than go on an actual hiatus.

I still have some big plans for the site this year including the weekly serialized story, some movie review series and maybe a few in-depth pieces about significant pop culture events.  None of those will likely start until at least March and even then, they will probably come at a slower pace then I'd like.

The reality is that I need to take care of myself and the best way to do that is not to get burned out on here ever again. I'm not going anywhere; it will just be some short doses for the next bit.

Monday, January 20, 2020

The Breakdown of 'Bad Boys for Life', 'The Grudge', '1917', 'Little Women', 'Bombshell', 'Cats' and 'All the Freckles in the World'


After three weeks of doing top ten lists, we have lots of movie reviews to catch up on, and that is exactly what we do this week as we're loaded up on the motion pictures to talk about. We have two 2020 new theatrical releases in the rebooted horror picture, The Grudge and the buddy action sequel, Bad Boys for Life. We also have a Netflix original movie in the coming-of-age romance out of Mexico in All the Freckles in the World. Then we head back to 2019 for several reviews in the ambitious war action picture 1917, the Greta Gerwig directed adaptation of a literary classic Little Women, the based on true events dramedy Bombshell and the musical nightmare Cats. After all that, we have even more as we discuss the latest Oscar nominations. We really hope you love the episode, and if you do, please help us out by spreading the word to other movie fans.

You can also check out my written reviews for Bad Boys for Life and The Grudge.

Reminder that you can subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes (if you enjoy the show, please help us by giving us a five star review)



The Movies' Rating Out of Four Stars

All the Freckles in the World ** (CS & SM)
Bad Boys for Life **½ (CS)
The Grudge *
1917 **** (CS)
Little Women **** (CS)
Bombshell *** (CS)
Cats ½* (CS)

Sunday, January 19, 2020

A 'Clumsy' Sunday

A few weeks back, I used Sunday to promote a Canadian band that was one of my favourites back in high school. Another Canadian band that I listened to on a daily basis was Our Lady Peace, and one of their best albums was Clumsy. The title track is one catchy little rock tune and I still find it bouncing around in my head sometimes. Unlike I Mother Earth, Our Lady Peace was not only huge in Canada, but they got some traction in the United States and this album hit platinum there. It probably helps that a few of their songs made it on the soundtracks of major studio movies with Scream being on that jumps out at me at the moment. Anyway, have a 'clumsy' Sunday.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

'Bad Boys for Life ' Movie Review: A Lot Less Bayhem Makes a Passable Buddy Cop Actioner


Four Star Rating: **½
Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton, Paolo Nunez, Kate del Castillo, Nicky Jam, Joe Pantoliano
Director: Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah
Screenplay: Chris Bremner, Peter Craig, Joe Carnahan
Story By: Peter Craig & Joe Carnahan
Source Material: Based on Characters by George Gallo
Producers: Jerry Bruckheimer, Will Smith, Doug Belgrad
Music by: Lorne Belfe
Cinematographer: Robrecht Heyyeart
Editor: Dan Lebental & Pete McNully
Production Company: Columbia Pictures, 2.0 Entertainment, Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Overbrook Entertainment
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Releasing
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rated: 14A (Ontario)/R (United States) - Graphic violence, coarse language, sexual references, drug use
Release Date: January 17, 2020
Run Time: 124 minutes

I am not a huge fan of the Bad Boys movies; I think the first was fine even though I barely remember it and I think the second is emblematic of Michael Bay's worst tendencies. They are movies that I've seen and have given almost no thought since that first viewing. Though when watching the third and newest in the series, Bad Boys for Life, I learned pretty quick there are many people who love these movies and remember the first two fondly. There was a scene early on when a character's name was mentioned, and the packed theatre gave several knowing chuckles over what may happen while the name didn't mean a single thing to me.

For many this is an action favourite, and therefore I am sure there are many who will love this picture. This is also the first in the series not to be directed by Michael Bay, but filmmakers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah crafted an action picture that feels like a toned down Bay that still contains the chaotic big explosion action, the big tough guy dialogue, scantily clad girls, a loud rocking soundtrack and cameras shooting from the ground up to the sky. But it feels like a much calmer and focused version of Bay, as the action sequences have longer cuts so you can follow it, there is a lot less mean-spirited comedy and it focuses much more on the bond of friendship rather than being cynical.

This time around we have a son and his mom out for revenge over the death of their drug kingpin father/husband, so they start targeting many cops and authority figures they hold responsible for his death. It just so happens that Will Smith's Detective Michael Lowrey is on the top of that hit list. The murder attempt fails because it wouldn't much of a buddy cop picture if it was successful in the first 30 minutes, which means Lowrey is now on his own revenge mission. The near tragedy causes Martin Lawrence's Detective Marcus Burnett to finally take the plunge into retirement, which causes some tension between the best friends. Of course, since this is still a buddy cop picture, you can guess how long Burnet stays off the force. It does allow Lowrey some time to work with a young hot shot team of cops that includes Vanessa Hudgens's Kelly and is lead by Lowrey's ex-girlfriend Rita Secada (played by Paola Nunez).

The movie follows your standard comedic buddy cop action picture, with the two leads playing off each other with one being the loose cannon type and the other being too old for this shit. The action pieces are giant spectacles with lots of vehicular damages and explosions, but there isn't really anything unforgettable in an era of big special effect mega-events. Lawrence and Smith have a great chemistry and Lawrence really digs into his role as the aged cop who feels he is over his head. The movie also tries to be about the importance of friendship and family, and Lowrey has an arc of a guy more focused on his job while slowly seeing the importance of relationships. Smith goes against his usual happy go-lucky character common in his other movies with a harder edged character, though the movie is about softening him up.

The best parts are Smith and Lawrence trading one-liners and riffing off each other. It tries to be this big over-the-top spectacle while also having this emotional and dramatic core. I don't think any characters ever feel grounded, so the dramatic moments tend to fall flat. The ending really falls apart with one character having unearned shift that conflicts with everything from before and so it lacks the emotional heft necessary to resonate.

Like I confessed, this has never really been a series that I've connected with, but I think Bad Boys fans will get everything they want here. I do think it turns out to be a perfectly fine buddy cop action picture during a time there isn't many big studio buddy cop action movies. It doesn't bring anything new to the subgenre, and after 90 minutes, I felt like I got my fill, but this runs a little over two hours. For fans, there is a stinger in the end-credits that promises that there will be another sequel on the way. I will say the series is now in much better hands with far less Bayhem.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Your Story Sucks


There is that moment for every writer where their pristine and golden idea becomes reality on paper or screen, and the once thought to be majestic treasure chest is revealed to be a plastic bag of the dog's business tied to a ceiling fan on the highest speed setting. Realizing the first draft is splattered pet feces is a flaming bowling ball to the gut that every writer experiences. In the head of the writer, the story is majestic and magical and destined to be a massive best seller that every movie studio will want the rights. Then the writer types out that idea and forms it into a story and the smell of decay seeps out. It sucks. It always sucks. Every single respected and successful writer tells you and promises you that the first draft of that masterpiece is roadkill on a golden platter rather than a lobster feast. Whatever greatness is in your head will never turn out exactly that way once you start to write it. It is something that I've read countless times and didn't start to believe until my own "epics" were given life and halfway through I wanted run them over with the lawn mower.

What I am learning and what those successful writers figured out, is that what you end up writing will never equal what you have in your head. But if you persevere and remember a manuscript goes through several drafts, you can shape that story into something special. It may even exceed whatever you had hoped when that idea first popped into your head. A writer learns that creating a story is a journey and the path always takes you somewhere unexpected. You just need to trust that journey and be willing to suffer through those haunted woods and blizzard covered mountains.

The first step is to realizethat  you do not have a fully formed and billion dollar story in your head. You just have an idea. An idea that has lots of work before it ever becomes something readable. But you got to pack those bags and embrace that hard journey.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Office Submarine!

Not sure how well Kids in the Hall are known outside of Canada, but their sketches were talked about and their lines repeated a lot on the schoolyard when I was growing up. I'd say their best skits are right up there with the classic stuff from Monty Python and Saturday Night Live. A sketch that still makes me laugh when I think about it and is absolutely brilliant, is the one about the fabled office submarine.

Did I mention that imagination is a dying animal?

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

20 Amazing Headlines You Will Never See on a Movie News (Clickbait) Site


There are many great, insightful, and deep articles written by talented writers for various movie sites. Sometimes those articles even get read by someone occasionally. The reality of social media and the fact that clicks mean money, articles often mean less about how smart and complex they are and more on how sexy is the headline. Often you get a headline that promises a shocking and exclusive revelation of events that happened on the set of The Last Jedi and then the article details the time John Boyega shared a ham and cheese sandwich with Daisy Ridley. Scintillating.

Now, I have a confession, my own little headline may have some clickbaity properties like the word 'Amazing' or you know the promise of a list, because the Facebookers love the lists. I am still confident that those big, popular movie sites will likely avoid the following twenty headlines.

1. Ten Actors Who Had Minor Disagreements with Other Actors That Did Not Lead to Any Disaster Just Like How You Sometimes Disagree with a Fellow Employee at Work

2. The Director That Has Been Rumoured and Reported Everywhere Else is in Fact Directing the Upcoming Blockbuster as You Already Knew

3. Here are Ten Movies that I Really Liked Watching This Year and Seven of Them are on Every Top Ten List You Have Already Read

4. Two Actors Who are Dating are Holding Hands Just Like Non-Actors and We Have a Picture to Prove It

5. A Movie of a TV Show or Toy or Video Game Might Get Made in the Next Few Years as Long as a Script can Get Written, Funding Can be Found, a Director Gets Hired, and Some Actors Cast

6. This Fifth Trailer of a Popular Upcoming Movie has Most of the Same Clips Shown in the Previous Trailers but Have Now Been Rearranged and Played to Led Zeppelin

7. Ten Times a Famous Actor Acted in Movies That We Liked

8. Top Twenty Times a Movie Got Made

9. Ten Times Actors and Directors Totally Got Along to Make Popular and Good Movies

10. Here Are Production Rumours on Movies That We Got Off Wikipedia and We Hope Are True

11. The Oral History of Yor the Hunter of the Future

12. Scientists Confirm that the Remake of Your Favourite 1980s Movie Will Indeed Not Murder or Burn or Murder Burn Your Childhood

13. Here are a Series of Movie Advertising Disguised as Interviews That We Did with Movie Stars Because the Movie Studio Gave Us Tons of Sweet Free Stuff

14. This Famous Actor May or May Not Star in This Popular Movie Slated to be Released in Three Years

15. Exclusive: That Movie You Love is Hated by Someone and That Movie You Hate is Loved by Someone

16. Sixteen Times Celebrities of Varying Popularity Ate Spaghetti at a Restaurant

17. Twenty Movies that if You're a Movie Buff (and Hey, You're on This Site so You Probably Are) That We're Pretending You Never Heard About but You've Likely Already Seen Ten of Them

18. You Probably Already Guessed but the Movie That Made a Billion Dollars is Making a Sequel Because Studios Like Money

19. An Exclusive and In-Depth Career Perspective of Carrot Top

20. Breaking News: Your Life Will Still Be Great Even if the New Marvel Movie is a Disappointment

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Remember Those Way Too Early Best Picture Predictions?


Yesterday, the Academy Awards announced their nominees for the Oscars. Oh boy, did that cause some reactions in me. But you know what, I am going to save those thoughts for the next The Movie Breakdown show. Not only does that build anticipation for that episode, but I also just don't have the energy or desire to talk that much about the nominations. Especially since like most years, it would just me venting with what got snubbed and how frustratingly predictable the Oscars have got with their safe selections. I also have a busy week ahead, so I'd rather save my time for things that either make me happy or pay me well. Oscars don't do either of those things.

But the nominations did reveal nine movies that are now in the running for Best Picture, and you may remember that way back in March that I made my predictions for what movies I thought would get nominated. Considering most of those movies were sight unseen a year ago and in some cases, I didn't even know if they would make their release date, let alone be good movies that would get critical praise, I think that I did okay with three right guesses.

The movies that I got right were The Irishman, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Ford v. Ferrari. In all three cases, I was smart in betting on proven directors. I feel like definitely Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese were sure things if their movies ended up being decent and, in both cases, they were outstanding.

Bombshell (back in March called Fair and Balanced) ended up getting some actor and technical nominations, but the actual movie didn't quite nail the message enough to get that strong critical buzz. The Farewell was great, but I was wrong on what foreign movie would get the nomination with Parasite getting it instead (which I don't think was even on my radar). The Goldfinch may be a critically acclaimed novel, but it sunk as a movie, and the classic novel adaptation instead went to the Greta Gerwig directed Little Women. Harriet did get an Oscar acting nomination for Cynthia Erivo, but the movie seemed to fall flat, and the movie about racism that got the buzz was Jojo Rabbit (a movie that I felt would be too odd for the Academy, but it got some solid critical buzz and as you know, my favourite movie of 2019). It's a Beautiful Day in Neighbourhood did have a shot, but the Academy deemed to fill only nine of their ten slots. I barely heard a thing about The Report, and I should have guessed another streaming movie in Marriage Story. I was right that a box office hit would get nominated but it wasn't Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker but rather Joker. I don't think I even knew that 1917 was a movie, but I am sure glad that it is.

I got three of the nine nominations right. That isn't too bad when you realize I was an entire year out. I think, I will take a stab at it again this year after the Oscar season wraps up in February.

Monday, January 13, 2020

The Breakdown of the Best of 2019


It is mid-January in 2020, so it is the perfect time to do our Best of 2019 episode! While I've said a few times that 2019 was a good but not amazing year for movies, I started questioning that stance while trying to put together my list. I had a hard time narrowing it down to ten movies, as there was so much great stuff that I wanted to talk about. But I found my ten movies, as this week Scott and I both rank our top ten favourite movies of the past year. It is a celebration of all the greatness that was movies in 2019 and also a pretty handy list of recommendations for movies you can track down.

We had a blast doing this show. We really hope you love it as well, and if you do, please help us out by spreading the word to other movie lovers. This is the end of our retrospective shows, and next week we start digging into the movies of 2020.

Reminder that you can subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes (if you enjoy the show, please help us by giving us a five star review)



Top Ten Movies of 2019

Christopher
10. Rocketman
9. Avengers: Endgame
8. Toy Story 4
7. Ford v. Ferrari
6. Us
5. The Irishman
4. Knives Out
3. 1917
2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
1. Jojo Rabbit

Scott
10. One Cut of the Dead
9. Souvenir
8. Midsommar
7. The Last Black Man in San Francisco
6. The Lighthouse
5. The Farewell
4. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
3. Booksmart
2. Marriage Story
1. The Irishman

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Getting Nostalgic for Siskel and Ebert's Throwdowns


I have been pretty open about the fact that the inspiration and format of The Movie Breakdown podcast comes from the great movie review shows starring Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. I watched the various incarnation of the shows religiously as a kid and it not only fueled my love for movies but also showed me the value in film criticism.

While I think The Movie Breakdown has become a pretty decent movie review podcast, I also realize it will take me and Scott many more years to achieve half the magic and chemistry possessed by Siskel and Ebert. These two had an unmatched wit that complimented a fiery passion for movies that just flowed naturally from them in every episode. It also helped that while they both seemed to respect each other, there was an almost hostile rivalry between the two that led to some of the most memorable arguments on their show. I'd love for The Movie Breakdown to have half the passion or have an argument with an ounce of the energy, but I also realize Ebert and Siskel were two guys that could have an explosive debate over what side dish is best to complement their entree or the best way to tie one's shoes.

Watching these old shows, you can see that the fun and energetic arguments were not contrived or forced, but natural responses between two smart, cocky and opinionated critics. They have had hundreds of unforgettable and entertaining reviews. The Nostalgic Critic has put together 11 of the funniest reviews, and it was a joy reliving some of those great exchanges.

The reviews that I remember the most are definitely the ones where they viciously disagreed like on Cop and a Half or Benji the Hunted. This list is especially great to watch, because it showed they were just as funny and engaging when they were sharing disdain for an awful movie. It is nice to see those moment where they are having fun with each other rather than looking like they want to tear the other's throat.

I also have to agree with the final part of this video that it would be great if whoever owns the rights to the Siskel and Ebert shows that they would restore and re-release them. They still hold up really well and are a great example of the value of film discussion and analysis. Plus they are way more entertaining than hair plucking videos.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Nothing Dangerous About Great Movie Writing


As a writer and podcaster of pop culture and most often movies, I feel it is right to help and promote my contemporaries. Especially when they are as talented and entertaining as Drew McWeeny, who is without a doubt one of the most insightful and knowledgeable film critics and writers about movies that I've ever read. I have promoted him before with his now 'cancelled' 80s All Over podcast, which was one of the best series about movies that has ever been produced. McWeeny is now starting another venture with a few times a week newsletter called Formerly Dangerous that explores both modern and classic films. I'm excited about anything McWeeny does and feel it is always worth checking out. It is currently free, though after it gets established, he has said it will move to a pay model. But jump on now and enjoy the magic of McWeeny, who is a talented writer who deserves support from those who love movies and love reading thoughtful pieces about it.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Ode to My New Sweatpants

I used to think blue jeans were the way,
But my Christmas present has some sway.
Sure, wearing slacks can be considered great,
Though my new clothing is truly first rate.

Back as a teen, they were not considered to be cool,
Now, any hater would be declared a giant fool.
In my old age, leisure clothing is the real king,
I don't think my new love is any kind of fling.

I will wear this clothing any day at home,
Wearing them turns my house into a pleasure dome,
There is no reason to waste your time with long rants,
The simple fact is I absolutely love my new sweat pants.




Thursday, January 09, 2020

Hey! Remember That Time We Had Christmas? A Pictorial Tale of the Spicers' Holidays

Have you heard of this thing called Christmas? Well, believe it or not, the Spicer family had one of those again this year. As has been tradition for the past eight years, Everett had himself a birthday the day after. Here is the proof in pictorial form.












Wednesday, January 08, 2020

My 2010s Honourable Mentions


This past Monday's Breakdown of the Best of the 2010s was a stacked show that blasted way past two hours to the point of approaching almost three hours. Considering the average episode goes about 90 minutes, there wasn't anyway to justify even more stuff to be squeezed into the episode. This meant that both Scott and I only listed our ten favourite movies of the past decade, even though we could have easily rattled off 50 more movies that we loved.

Usually, for our best of the year show, we include honourable mentions, which tend to be our second top ten list. Since we left them off the best of the decade show, I thought today I could include my honourable mentions. These aren't necessarily my next ten favourite 2010s movies in order, but all ten of these movies were on my list at some point until I forced myself to par it down to ten.

Django Unchained: I thought this one would be a shoo-in for my best of the decade, but it got bumped at the last minute by The Favourite. This still remains one of my all-time favourite Quentin Tarantino movies, and if I revisited my list in a week, it would probably end up on it.

Her: This movie seems to become more relevant as the years go by, and I am pretty confident will have 'classic' status within a decade.

Inside Llewyn Davis: Wow, 2013 was a super strong year for movies that stuck with me. I love this picture and am so glad Scott put it on his list, so that I could talk about it on the podcast again.

True Grit: The older I get, the more I've learned that I love a good Western. 10 years ago, I don't think I would put it as one of my favourite genres, but the more I think about it, I just love the themes and stories that come out of the genre. There is something about the tale of the aged gunslinger that must fight against and for his legacy. The Coens' use their amazing humour and wit to enhance a powerful tale about legends and revenge.

The Grand Budapest Hotel: I still stand by this being Wes Anderson's candy-coloured live-action children's book for adults. This movie brings a giant smile to my face any time I just think about it.

Brooklyn: This delightful and sweet romance that is about so much more than just love didn't make my Best of 2015 list, because I saw it after that episode. It killed me to leave it off a Best of list once againWhen Scott and I record our episodes where we revisit our Best of the Year lists, Brooklyn will definitely be given its proper place in my Best of 2015.

Get Out: This is a movie that keeps getting better and better every time I rewatch it. I also keep on wanting to rewatch it. If I ever revisit my Best of the 2010s list, I am sure this one will find itself on it. This was another near miss.

A Quiet Place: Horror was lacking on my top ten list, and that crushed me, but I couldn't spend another hour tinkering on it. Let me declare now that it was an amazing decade for horror and this different take on the alien invasion picture was one of the very best.

The Nice Guys: Another movie that is insanely rewatchable and I love more and more every time I see it. If you've never seen this one and you probably haven't (it bombed at the box office), and if you like a buddy action comedy mixed with crime noir then give yourself a treat and watch this one.

12 Years a Slave: Okay, it is official, 2013 was clearly my favourite years of the 2010s. This is one of the few times that I feel like the Academy picked the right Best Picture.

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Speaking About Best of the 2010s . . .


Creating my Top Ten Movies of the 2010s this week has flooded me with nostalgia and got me thinking about a lot of great movies. It also really got me thinking about some amazing movie moments. It also reminded me how much I absolutely love A Star is Born, and it is a movie that is a magnificent collection of moments that blends into an uplifting, inspiring and heartbreaking movie. All those emotions can be in found in what is one of the catchiest songs of the past few years, Shallow. The moment when Lady Gaga's Ally steps on the stage with Bradley Cooper's Jack for the first time is one of those butterflies in the gut moments as you feel both her anxiety but also feel exhilarated as you know this is her break-out moment.

One of the things that I really love about A Star is Born is that the hit songs really sound and feel like hit songs. This would also be the reason that most of them actually turned out into real life hits. 'Shallow' may not be the best song in the movie, but its connection with that powerful moment probably triggers the most in me.

Here is the official video of 'Shallow' from A Star is Born.

Monday, January 06, 2020

The Breakdown of the Best of the 2010s


It is a brand-new decade, but we aren't quite ready to say good-bye to the 2010s yet. It was a great decade for movies where there was a diverse slate at the cinema despite that some have whined there are no great movies anymore. Not only has there been great movies but this week we talk about some classics. Both Scott and I will reveal our top ten favourite movies of the past decades. It will be a great show to not only remind you how wonderful the past ten years has been for movies, but it will also create an awesome recommendation list for you to track down some movies. Hopefully, we point towards something you missed or have been ignoring for the past few years.

We had a blast discussing these great movies and it has turned into another super-sized episode that goes over two and a half hours. We really hope you love the show and can't wait to kick off another great year of The Movie Breakdown. We are so thankful for you choosing to listen to us, and if you love the show then please help us out by spreading the word to other movie fans.

Reminder that you can subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes (if you enjoy the show, please help us by giving us a five star review)



Top Ten Best Movies of 2010s

Scott:

10. Skyfall
9. Game Night
8. Drive
7. Inside Llewyn Davis
6. The Snowtown Murders
5. The Nice Guys
4. Ex Machina
3. The Witch
2. The Babadook
1. Mad Max: Fury Road

Christopher:

10. The Favourite
9. The Wolf of Wall Street
8. Blade Runner 2049
7. Inside Out
6. Arrival
5. La La Land
4. Toy Story 3
3. Star is Born
2. The Social Network
1. Star Wars: Force Awakens


Sunday, January 05, 2020

It is Just 'Another Sunday'


Well, it is indeed another Sunday, so, it seems about fitting to post the music video to I Mother Earth's 'Another Sunday.' A music video that explains both the dangers and value in eating canned tuna. Or maybe I misinterpreted the message.

I am not sure if I ever mentioned it on the site, but I actually saw I Mother Earth live about a year ago when they were doing a reunion tour with Finger Eleven. The tour was a big deal because it was the first time Edwin had reunited with the band in over 20 years after their split, so they were playing stuff from their Dig and Scenery and Fish albums. The two albums that I owned and loved as a teenager. I Mother Earth was one of my favourite bands in high school and I was pretty gutted when Edwin left the band and never really got into the group after that. I also didn't really get into Edwin's solo career either.

It was amazing to see them live and I would say that I still love them even 20 years later. It is nice to know that some of my younger years' taste holds up. It was an awesome experience and I would totally go see them again if there was the opportunity.

Anyway, here is the 'Another Sunday' music video from over 20 years ago. This isn't one of my favourite songs from the Scenery and Fish album, but it is still really good, which shows how great that record was at the time and even now.

Saturday, January 04, 2020

'The Grudge' (2020) Movie Review: A Dreary, Unscary, Gory Slog


Four Star Rating: *
Starring: Andrea Riseborough, Demian Bichir, John Cho, Lin Shaye, Jacki Weaver, Betty Gilpin, William Sadler, Frankie Faison
Director: Nicolas Pesce
Screenplay: Nicolas Pesce
Story By: Nicolas Pesce & Jeff Buhler
Source Material: Takashi Shimizu for original screenplay for Ju-On: The Grudge
Producers: Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, Taka Ichise
Music by: The Newton Brothers
Cinematographer: Zachary Galler
Editor: Gardner Gould & Ken Blackwell
Production Company: Screen Gems, Stage 6 Films, Ghost House Pictures
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Releasing
Genre: Horror
Rated: 14A (Ontario)/R (United States) - Disturbing violence and bloody images, terror, coarse language
Release Date: January 3, 2020
Run Time: 94 minutes

There is an unfair stigma that movies released in January are a blazing dumpster fires that studios are just trying to forget about as quickly as possible. I won't argue that there hasn't been a fair amount of awful January releases that gave the month this reputation. I'd also point to some delightful surprises over the past several years like Escape Room, The Kid Who Would Be King, Split, Paddington and its even better sequel.

It probably doesn't help that the first movie of the year is almost always a horror picture. A genre that I love but know there are many who despise it or have a misunderstanding about it. I have several people in my life who do not understand my affection for the genre. Discounting the entire genre means one could be missing incredible stories from the past few years that are about so much more than scares like Get Out, The Conjuring, It, The Babadook, A Quiet Place and Hereditary. This is of course ignoring all-time masterpieces like The Exorcist, Psycho, Alien, Thing and Jaws. 

Well, January can still have some pretty bad movies. I feel like the reboot of The Grudge is the type of horror that non-fans think about when dismissing the entire genre. It is a bleak, dreary, gory and heartless slog that is made worse by not even being scary. As someone who liked the original American version, I was left scratching my head as to what creative reason anyone had for returning to this story. It was the first movie all over again but without the unique spine-chilling atmosphere or creepy iconic spirit.

This story is also set in the mid-2000s and seems to be taking place in the same universe as the 2004 American remake, but this time we see the hauntings that are happening in America instead of Japan. The idea is when a horrific murder occurs in a house that vengeful spirits haunt it and then curse whoever enters the house, where it torments that person until they die. A lady who is working in Japan is freaked out by events at a house she is staying at (my guess is she is the person that the Sarah Michelle Gellar characters takes over for in 2004) and decides to move back home to her family, where a horrible tragedy takes place and the curse kicks off American style.

When I say American style, I mean instead of the creepy Japanese ghosts from the 2004 version, we now get a generic creepy little white girl that we've seen in a hundred haunted house movies since The Shining and lots of lumbering undead types with their mouth gaping wide open in near comedic fashion.

Andrea Riseborough is Detective Muldoon who moves to a small Pennsylvania town in 2006, as she is ready to have a fresh start with her young son and starts investigating an odd murder case. Her investigation leads her to learning about several cases linked to a specific house, and then much like the 2004 version, we then get a series of flashbacks learning about various characters' experiences after entering the house. There is a grim inevitability with each of these narratives since they are part of a murder investigation, so we already are aware of their fate. I think, the original was framed in a similar fashion, but it felt much fresher, had a unique style for the time and was full of scary moments.

This time around it is crammed with predictable jump scares. To make up for the lack of frights, there is ample amount of gore that seems designed to shock but is overused and feels desperate. None of the kills are memorable and even the grotesque moments are set up in a generic and standard way. Director Nicolas Pesce seems intent on beating down both the characters and the audience, which sucks out any potential hope. A horror hater may not be aware that hope has been central in many modern horror movies, so maybe that is one thing that makes this movie different but also makes it a nihilistic downer.

Every character that enters the cursed house, also has a tragedy or trauma in their life. So, there was some potential for linking the death curse with lingering sadness and depression, and how a fragile emotional state can set us up for more hardship. But the movie isn't really interested in exploring how we deal with hardship, but rather just uses the tragedies to make things more miserable for the characters before their horrible fates.

There was one interesting scene where one character explains that the reason he doesn't leave the haunted house is because it gives him hope of an afterlife and being connected with his loved ones again. Of course, before doing anything unique with that, we just get another slaughter scene.

Despite the movie being a huge downer and a generic jump-scarefest, actors like Riseborough, John Cho, Jacki Weaver and Lin Shaye really bring some emotional weight and strong performances. They give layers to characters that are paper thin and actually keeps the film watchable even if the script is generic and lifeless. The confidence of Riseborough makes you want to stick with her character, and she gives the movie glimmers of feeling like a thriller with actual layers to uncover. The story betrays her though.

There have been much worse January horror movies over the years. The most annoying part was while watching this, I couldn't comprehend why anyone felt this movie needed to be made other than a chance to cash in on the name. This is coming from producer Sam Raimi who has given us some of the most original horror movies as a director (The Evil Dead, Drag Me to Hell). This time his name is attached to a generic horror flicks that is only memorable for being really depressing and dull.

Friday, January 03, 2020

It is Toronto Short Story Contest Time Again!


Every year the Toronto Star launches their Short Story Contest for Ontario residents. It is one of the most lucrative short story contests that I know about as the top prize is $5,000 and there is no entry fee (which has become a rare thing over the years). There are three big challenges about this contest.

One is that it has be 2 500 words or less, which is actually way more difficult than it sounds. Or at least for me, as I feel like I'm just getting my story cooking when I hit the word limit. My advice is to come up with a story idea that is just a scene or snapshot of an event, because with character development and plot progression you will wrack up the words really quick. I find that for half the contest time, I'm just cutting down my story and trying to make things way more concise.

The second challenge is that you must be an Ontario resident, so if that isn't you yet, then start house shopping and making moving plans immediately.

The third challenge is the biggest one. In order to win, you need to actually write it and then send it to the Toronto Star. The biggest obstacle for many creative people is ignoring those nasty inner thoughts that are saying that you aren't good enough or what you created is garbage. Don't listen to them. You can never win if you don't ever write it and send it. As someone who struggles with self-worth and has a thousand negative inner thoughts, I promise you that you are way more talented and your story is way better than you think. I promise.

I also promise you that I will be writing a short story for the contest this year. I will try to remember to post a few short pieces over the next two months telling you how I am progressing and give a window into my creative process. Or at least, I will if I think it is interesting and worthwhile. I may at least give a word count update on how things are going when we get closer to the deadline.

For now, if you are living in Ontario, you love to write, and you've always dreamed of having a short story published then this is the contest for you. Check out this page for the all the contest details.

Happy writing!

Thursday, January 02, 2020

My Twenty Goals for 2020

I wasn't going to post my goals this year, but I am someone that believes it is important to have dreams and goals. If I was going to have things that I wanted to accomplish this year then I mind as well, make myself accountable by posting them for all my readers to see. Yes, some of these have been on previous years lists, but just because they weren't fully realized yet doesn't mean to stop aiming for them.

1. Make sure my family knows without a doubt how much I love them. I usually have a variation of this goal each year, and it will always be my number one goal, because I can always do it more and better.

2. Land a literary agent. Traditional publishing remains the best route for an author and novelist. The best way to land a book deal with a major publishing company is still to have an agent. This year I am going to be more focused on querying major agents. Of course, before that can begin, I need to have a completed and thoroughly edited manuscript. I will be spending the first few months of 2020 completing and polishing the novel that I think has the best chance to win over an agent.

3. Join the Online Film Critics Society. This means that I really need to dig down and write as many movie reviews as I can this year. I will be aiming to write reviews of every theatrical release that I see and do some reviews of older movies.

4. Have at least one article posted on the blog every day this year. I initially put 'write' but realized there will be days that I may be away or on vacation, so I will need to write something ahead of time and post date. The goal is to at least make it appear that I've written something every day.

5. Increase listeners for The Movie Breakdown podcast. My hope is to get big enough to either appeal to sponsors or to launch a successful Patreon. I've also thought about creating a movie site that would be connected to the podcast. Scott and I have also talked for a long time about expanding to more weekly shows and tackling various other subjects, but at this point, we need bigger audience numbers to get the resources and money to justify it. To achieve this, I need to expand the places where you can subscribe to the podcast, increase the weekly marketing and just keep producing a show that will appeal to a decent sized audience.

6. Increase the audience for The International House of Spicer. The podcast and blog have suddenly had a huge spike in views this past month, and so I want to capitalize on that by providing articles and podcast episodes that will keep everyone coming and maybe spread the word to even more potential regular readers/listeners. I've got several plans to hopefully make the blog an attractive daily destination. On top of weekly movie reviews for the new releases, I want to do a series where I review every MCU movie, every animated Disney movie and every Star Wars. My goal has been to expand into TV for awhile, and I've thought about going through The Simpsons, Friends and The Americans.  I also want to do more parenting pieces where I'll mix slice of life with advice and opinions. I'd also like to try to do a serialized story where I'd release weekly episodes. I have several other things that I'm trying to figure out that hopefully with make this place unique, interesting and engaging.

7. Triple my income. I don't think I've ever put money as a goal on here. There is a stigma about wanting more money, but the reality is money is a wonderful thing that can help in achieving some of my other major goals and dreams. As well, more money will allow me to not only provide more for my family, but I can use it for charitable causes, people in my community and others in need. Over the next several weeks, I'm going to continue to explore several potential multiple revenue streams to achieve this goal.

8. Travel more. I have an earned reputation of being a curmudgeon, but Emily really likes going places and of course, my kids love going somewhere new. Danika and Everett both still talk about our trip to Rochester this past summer, which is proof these type of experiences are profound. I hope to do more of it this year and create more memories with my kids.

9. Plan more family outings. If you ask Emily, if I plan one thing this year then I'd have done more planning than any other year.

10. Teach the dogs a new trick. Preferable the two dogs that we have at home so I can bond with them more rather than prowling the streets trying to find random dogs to get to 'shake a paw' (my dogs know that one already).

11. Spend more time with family and friends. Remember that whole talk about being a curmudgeon? The downside with working from home and now that both kids are in school, I am basically by myself most of the day. I am very lucky to have some amazing friends and family, and this year, I need to be more proactive in spending time with them.

12. Be positive. I've been reading and listening about positive thinking and the value in being optimistic and believing in yourself. It has done a lot in improving my mental health and giving me renewed confidence in my ability to realize my dreams. I am going to continue to proactively do things to keep my energy and thoughts in a positive direction daily.

13. Watch more classic and older movies. I host a weekly movie podcast and have been writing professionally about movies since 2012. I have also been a movie buff my entire life. Even then, I would say that I have a lot of movie blindspots and there are many great movies through the decades that I haven't seen. In order to be a strong writer about movies, I want to continue to improve my film literacy and knowledge.

14. Read at least one book a month. Failed at this last year, but I'm totally going to nail it this time.

15. Land a weekly/monthly column for a major site or magazine. I haven't had a weekly column on a major site for about two years now. Now, I can use this blog to fill some of my weekly column needs, but I also like the idea of having to come up with creative pieces on a particular subject on a weekly basis where I also get paid for it.

16. Live in the moment. It is so easy to get distracted. It is so easy to be thinking about something else while my kids run and scream around me. I want to be better at being fully immersed in whatever I'm doing and really appreciate the time I have with my kids (and family and friends and ice cream).

17. Get down close to 170 pounds. I need to eat healthier and be more active this year (maybe less ice cream, then). Otherwise, the goal of getting down to 170 pounds is going to be even more daunting than trying to lose 25 to 30 pounds (closer to 30 with being the holidays).

18. Create some signature dishes that make my family cheer. The more I cook, the better I've become as a cook. I still feel like I haven't created those dishes yet that really get my family's mouth watering. I'm hoping to build my confidence and skills in the kitchen this year.

19. Scrapbook of my kid's key life moments. I've kept several things my kids have made and done over the years. As my kids get older, the more I begin to forget what they were like. My hope this year is to start taking those keepsakes and masterpieces and creating a scrapbook as a way to hold on to some of those great memories and moments.

20. Drink beer. Already accomplished!

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

10 Great Things About the 2010s (That Have Happened in My Life)


Happy New Year and welcome to 2020!!!

The world is a trash fire. Or at least, if you spend any time online, you'd be left to believe that. I feel like as the last decade rolled on, we got more pessimistic and cynical. I'll admit that the 2010s won't go down as the decade of dancing lollipops and snuggle blankets. I also have been telling my son Everett lately that we can't always control what happens to us, but we can always control how we respond. Even though many of us were eager to say good-bye to the decade and start fresh today, I think we can also think back on some positive and good things that have gone down these past ten years. We can remain positive and joyful.

In order to ring in the new year and decade on an optimistic and hopeful note, I'm going to list ten things that made the 2010s great. I should add that some of these are very personal, but hopefully, it inspires you to think hard about great things that you've experienced in the 2010s.

1. The birth and early life of my two kids. I became a dad in the 2010s, and so this decade will always have a special place for me. I also got the privilege of working from home, and so I got to be right with my kids during their first three years. I've been amazed to see Everett become a thoughtful and creative young man and Danika form into a confident and imaginative young lady. It has been a treasure to see them grow and develop their own distinct personalities and talents. They also have been great at reminding me that the world is a wondrous place and to believe in the power of being optimistic and positive. Most of my greatest memories of the past decade have been time spent with my kids, and as much I've tried to teach them, they have taught me so much more.

2. The Movie Breakdown. Near the end of 2012, Scott and I realized that we talk about movies a lot. We started wondering if we should try out this crazy thing called podcasting and see if others would like to hear us discuss movies. While the podcast still has lots of room to grow and expand an audience, the weekly recordings have become one of my major highlights and not only is it an important part of furthering my career but has also been amazing for my emotional health. When Scott moved away at the end of 2016, it also became a way for us to keep in touch and keep the friendship strong.

3. The amazing leaps in home technology devices. Phones are now mini-computers where you can access information no matter where you are. You can talk into a small device that will dim your lights and instantly have 'Footloose' by Kenny Loggins blaring through the house. TVs are getting bigger and the picture crisper and now you can even download apps on them, but also over time, they are getting more affordable. Computers and phones can talk to you now and can often solve problems and issues within seconds. Simple day to day tasks has become easier and life is more convenient. You can say that we've become more reliant on technology, but our lives are also much more streamlined and efficient.

4. On-demand entertainment. I was going include stuff like streaming and music playing services under technology, but its rise really justifies its own number. No longer do we have to watch a show at a time specified by a network or rummage through a mountain of CDs to find that song we want to hear. There are now services that allow us to play almost any song that we want or let us binge entire TV series in one sitting. Saturday morning cartoons are now any day and any time. As a pop culture history geek, this is a great time to find those movies or shows from the past that I missed the first time. It is also a great time where classic works get revisited, because they are so much easier to access now. Friends suddenly became a hot show among Millennials, even though the series has been done since 2004. It is a great time for works to continue way past when they were initially hot and popular.

5. A great time for creative people to make a living and get their works seen. The rise of things like Kickstarter and Patreon mean that an artist has more opportunities to create for their fans but also potentially make a decent living. There are so many outlets online where one can post their podcasts or books or paintings or movies that can be seen by a large audience. More than ever, a creative person doesn't need to rely on a big corporation but rather can create work that directly goes to their fans. It is still competitive and has many challenges, but a hungry, creative and innovative artist has many more opportunities for success.

6. Another Star Wars trilogy. Not only did I get more Star Wars movies in the 2010s, when at the start of the decade I thought it was done forever, but I got to experience every movie with my son, Everett, and got to share in his joy and love for the series. I also got to come full circle, I saw the original trilogy with my dad in the theatre and got to see the final movie with my son in the theatre.

7. Hollywood taking great movements towards diversity. Even though there has been a lot of hatred over the last few years and we feel more divided than ever, there has been reason to believe that we are making our way to some great social change. One place that points to that is the movies Hollywood has made in the past few years after criticisms for the lack of diversity in movies and of course, the horrible secrets that were uncovered with the #MeToo movement. The industry took it seriously and we've seen some major changes. The workplace is becoming a more inclusive and safer place. In Hollywood, the four biggest comic book movies of 2020 will be directed by women (two of Asian descent) and that is because of the groundwork and movement made in the 2010s. We saw major box office hits like Black Panther and Force Awakens, where the leads weren't white men. There have been some very positive movements when it comes to diversity and acceptance.

8. Reading has become cool among boys. Maybe this is just within my circle, but my son loves reading. He has several friends that are really into it too. I know 15 years ago, there was a fear that young boys were not interested in reading and they had to come up with creative ways trick them into reading. Over the past ten years, we've really seen the further rise of popular book series for young adults and kids, from Dogman to Diary of the Wimpy Kid to Amulet to Fablehaven. There is a healthy continued rise of books that young boys are excited about and gives me hope that reading will continue to be a viable hobby, even during an era of so much technology and distractions.

9. Avengers: Endgame was pulled off. I never would have imagined MCU to be the massive success that it turned out or that we would have ever got a movie like Avenger: Endgame. A feature that was the finale to a massive interwoven 23 movie series. Incredible.

10. I have family and friends that I love. This is what will always make every decade worth living.