By Donna BourgoisIf you’ve never been to Austin let me fill you in on some of the things that make the city great. Of course there’s SXSW, Fantastic Fest, and tons of live music (and tons of traffic). I combat my 2 hour commute to and from work everyday with podcasts, and being a huge movie fan of course I listen to Doug Loves Movies. This year Doug decide to challenge himself with watching 365 movies. I tossed the idea around and thought it’d be pretty fun to play along.

I’d like to take a moment to set up a framework for this challenge. While there may be days were I only watch one movie, it’s much more common that you’ll see that I watch several movies a day. If you’d like to see what I’m watching each day, check out my Letterboxd (which also includes a more glimpse-able star rating). Now that the boring stuff’s out of the way, I hope that you enjoy this, and if you’re doing a similar challenge let me know what you’re watching in the comments section below.

obvious-childObvious Child

Directed by Gillian Robespierre.

Running time: 83 min.

Screened via PSN Streaming.

This isn’t simply a film about abortion; it’s the most bubblegum, sweet, feel-good abortion movie of all time. Obvious Child is a slice of life film about Donna Stern (Jenny Slate), a NY comedian and book store clerk. Post-breakup and suffering her personal bombing at her local comedy club, Donna drowns her sorrows and ends up one-night-standing Max (Jake Lacy), an ultra-conservative, super-christian good-ole boy. Unexpectedly expecting, Donna sets the date for her abortion, all the while rekindling her disconnected relationship with a somewhat estranged mother, her comedy career, and staring in the face of a possible relationship with Max. Jenny Slate is amazing as Donna, and encapsulates the life of a up and coming comedian. Obvious Child is the perfect whirlwind of the “wtf am I doing” lifestyle, and the awkward stumbling of a new relationship. And it’s one of the few movies where the woman doesn’t die during/after an abortion.

Force Majeure 1Force Majeure

Directed by Ruben Östlund.

Running time: 120 min.

Screened via PSN streaming.

Apparently New Year’s Day (aka: first hangover of the year) is the perfect day to lay on the couch and watch fucked up relationship movies. (It’s feel-good in it’s own way, right?) I ordered a pizza post-Obvious Child and went right into Force Majeure, a swedish film following a workaholic father’s vacation with his family. The film is set in the French Alps and it is absolutely stunning: whoa nature, whoa stunning landscapes, whoa controlled avalanches. While taking a break from the slopes, Thomas (Johannes Bah Kuhnke), Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli), and their two young children sit down for lunch at one of the resort’s restaurants overlooking the mountains. Shortly after ordering, an explosion signaling a controlled avalanche occurs and panic ensues. Thomas, jumping over chairs, pushes his way out of danger leaving Ebba and their two small children engulfed in the snow. The remainder of the film is a dark comedy exploring gender stereotypes with a now crumbling marriage.

thumbnailImagePutney Swope

Directed by Robert Downey Sr.

Running time: 84 min.

Streamed via Vulcan Video.

Sited as the film that inspired P.T. Anderson and Louis C.K., Putney Swope does not disappoint. After the unexpected death of an ad agency’s chairman, its board members democratically elect Putney Swope (Arnold Johnson) as their new man. Putney Swope is a humorous satire focusing on race, government, and advertising.

still-of-sean-penn-in-mystic-river-(2003)-large-pictureMystic River

Directed by Clint Eastwood.

Running time: 137 min.

Streamed via Netflix.

Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and Kevin Bacon play childhood friends in a typical Boston neighborhood. The friends undergo a childhood trauma that puts an end to their friendship until a similar event unfolds with Penn’s daughter. There are some nice shots and the story is interesting enough, but it seems like maybe there was a little too much bitten off.

equalizerThe Equalizer

Directed by Antoine Fuqua.

Running time: 131 min

Streamed via Netflix.

Denzel Washington is the Equalizer. Whatever that means, which I guess means that he has some Rainman-like ability to kill people. Robert McCall (Washington) is ex-CIA that stumbles into a beef with the eastern chapter of the Russian mob. When McCall is equalizing the movie is awesome, there just wasn’t enough of that. Sorry, Denzel.


Directed by Paco Cabezas.

Running time: 98 min.

Streamed via Netflix.

I watched this movie immediately after finishing The Equalizer. Bad Idea? Totally. This movie made Denzel’s performance seem Oscar worthy. Here we have almost the exact same story: Russians, missing girls, shady backround. However, Rage must have had like a tenth of the budget and the set was run by teenagers. This movie is literal garbage. It does star Nic Cage, so there’s that.

Wfilmfest01_Well_Spent_LifeA Well Spent Life

Directed by Les Blank and Skip Gerson.

Running time: 44 min

Screened via Netflix.

This short documentary follows the story of the Texas blues artist Mance Lipscomb. A Well Spent Life is an interesting look into Lipscomb’s life and composition process. Blank really focuses on the life he lived, his community, and his music. A lot of pretty countryside shots and engrossing stories are what make this short enjoyable.


Directed by Michael Dowse.

Running time: 90 min.

Screened via Netflix.

Seann William Scott is great as Doug Glatt, a bouncer turned minor league goon for the Halifax Highlanders. With absolutely no idea how to skate, Doug helps his team climb the ranks to the finals against the best enforcer of the game, Ross “The Boss” Rhea. Goon has everything you want in a sports comedy and is easily in my personal top three hockey movies.

gambler_aThe Gambler

Directed by Rupert Wyatt.

Running time: 101 min.

Screened at the Alamo Drafthouse.

Marky Mark is back y’all, playing Jim Bennet, an English professor/gambling addict. This movie has pretty big names yet fails to deliver at nearly every opportunity. While there are some good performances, The Gambler just never really clicked. The story is lackluster and really just made me want to watch Leaving Las Vegas.


Directed by Lenny Abrahamson.

Running time: 95 min.

Screened via Vulcan Video.

Let me start by saying this movie is excellent and it’s now on Netflix so you have no reason not to watch it, unless of course you don’t have a subscription. Free trial that shit! Frank is a fun comedy about a group of musicians while juxtaposing fame and creativity. I had a lot of fun watching this movie and left feeling good.

inherent-viceInherent Vice

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.

Running time: 148 min.

Screened via Alamo Drafthouse.

In P.T. Anderson’s seventh feature film, Joaquin Phoenix plays Larry “Doc” Sportello, a PI in search of an ex girlfriend who is currently the side squeeze of some rich real estate tycoon. While set to the backdrop of the Vietnam war, featuring hippies and the squares who keep them down, Anderson manages to maintain a noir-ish vibe.

taking-lives-1024x576Taking Lives

Directed by D.J. Caruso.

Running time: 106 min.

Screened via Netflix.

An FBI profiler (Angelina Jolie) is called by a former colleague to Montreal to assist with a serial killer. This movie is whatever but it did lead to a lot of questions for me. Does Canada work with the FBI? Does the FBI have any jurisdiction in Canada? So great job, Caruso, you made a terrible movie that led to a million questions regarding North American jurisdictional laws.

WillowCreek-1Willow Creek

Directed by Bobcat Goldthwait.

Running time: 80 min.

Screened via Vulcan Video.

The years following The Blair Witch Project have been saturated with found footage, hand-cam horror movies. Willow Creek follows the trend as a couple goes in search of Sasquatch. The writing is pretty typical, but Bobcat does an exceptional job creating tension. If you’ve seen this movie I’d be really into discussing the ending, so tweet me up!

mon-oncleMon Oncle Antoine

Directed by Claude Jutra.

Running time: 104 min.

Screened via Vulcan Video.

What a slice of olde timey life and rapscallion adolescent hijinks. Benoit (Jacques Gagnon) is a late preteen boy that works at a small Quebec general store. Ok, let me clear the air, Benoit is a piece of shit that’s probably part of the reason why he’s an orphan. The movie jumps all over for the first half, but the second half is pretty straightforward and is quite interesting.


Antonio Tublen

94 min

Vulcan Video

First, a quick plug/shout out to the city I call home. This film first premiered at the amazing Fantastic Fest (which I highly recommend attending). If you like drum machines, synthesizers, and noise LFO is for you. Robert (Patrick Karlson) begins experimenting with sound and discovers a way that he can control minds with the noise he’s created. I think I’m becoming a Swede-ophile. I blame hockey.

Dog+Day+Afternoon+foto1Dog Day Afternoon

Directed by Sidney Lumet.

Running time: 150 min.

Screened via Vulcan Video.

I think this movie would have been particularly interesting if I had been alive when it came out. It’s also still pretty poignant considering the current state of affairs surround LGBT rights and the financial crisis that most of us have been plagued by our entire lives. That being said, this is a great movie.

a-fantastic-fear-of-everything-official-trailer-hd-simon-peggA Fantastic Fear of Everything

Directed by Crispian Mills and Chris Hopewell.

Running time: 100 min.

Screened via Netflix.

As an avid fan of crime shows I can totally get behind Jack (Simon Pegg) getting swept up in researching such tales. Also with the nations recent obsession with Serial, I’m sure a lot of people can understand where Jack is coming from. This movie while all over the place and kind of shitty, but it’s Netflix good.

AMERICAN-SNIPER-4-1940x812American Sniper

Directed by Clint Eastwood.

Running time: 130 min.

Screened via Alamo Drafthouse.

Here is how I feel about the film and if you’d like to have an open discussion by all means hit me up: American Sniper is a film better viewed as the struggles of PTSD in a society that could give a shit. While the subject matter is questionable on a lot of fronts the film has certainly inspired dialogue – isn’t that a mark of a good film?


Directed by Rufus Norris.

Running time: 91 min.

Screened via Netflix.

I stumbled upon this movie on Netflix and thought I should be able to throw this on get some work done, nbd. Boy, was I wrong. I forgot that someone somewhere along the line gifted the book to me. Wow, totally fucking different story. It’s almost impressive how different the book is from the movie. Too bad they are both terrible.

improvdocThe Improv: 50 Years Behind the Brick Wall

Directed by ???

Running time: 60 min.

Screened via Netflix.

A nice little documentary on The Improv featuring several comedians recounting their times at the famous comedy club. In a time where good comedy clubs are few and far between, The Improv shines a nice light on the days of old. I highly recommend this for anyone into comedy.

big-man-japanThe following films were screened during a marathon hosted by the wonderful Alamo Drafthouse. While marathons are fairly commonplace for films like Star Wars or The Lord of the Rings, it’s significantly less common to have similar offers featuring more off-the-wall directors and series. The marathon was set to highlight the comedic genius of Hitoshi Matsumoto, writer of Downtown no Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende!! the hilarious Japanese show that MTV took Silent Library from. If that doesn’t entice you to check out Matsumoto’s feature films, then hopefully my two cents will.

Big Man Japan

Directed by Hitoshi Matsumoto.

Running time: 113 min.

Screened via Alamo Drafthouse.

As far as bizarre Japanese movies are concerned this one is pretty tame, I would put this in the family safe bizarre film category. Filmed in the style of a documentary the film follows Daisato, Matsumoto, an electrically charged giant that fights the kaiju and their constant battle for Tokyo. Matsumoto carries the lighthearted and goofy comedy onto the big screen in his first feature film.


Directed by Hitoshi Matsumoto.

Running time: 93 min.

Screened via Alamo Drafthouse.

Symbol is Matsumoto’s second feature film and it’s easy to tell that he feels more comfortable knowing the comfort zone of the audience. This hilarious and bizarre film is less family friendly as the “A plot” pretty much centralizes on genitals. The “B plot” while more tame still has an absolutely ridiculous ending. Symbol s well edited, acted, and directed. If you enjoy the more serious portions of this, I would strongly recommend his next feature film. This film does not have US distribution so it may be a bit difficult to track down but if you get the chance I would highly recommend it.


Directed by Hitoshi Matsumoto.

Running time: 103 min.

Screened via Alamo Drafthouse.

The third feature film of Matsumoto is set in feudal Japan and follows a samurai and his daughter. For thirty days the samurai must try and make a depressed child try to smile or he must commit seppuku. Matsumoto shows his softer side while still serving justice to his comedic nature in this heartwarming tale. Same as Symbol, this film also does not have US distribution.


Directed by Hitoshi Matsumoto.

Running time: 100 min.

Screened via Alamo Drafthouse.

To round out the Matsumoto marathon we finished with an early screening of his most recent, most NSFW film. Unlike Symbol and Saya-zamurai, this film is being dished out in theaters, it is the most recent film stamped with Drafthouse Recommends brandishing and here in Austin is playing at The Violet Crown Cinema. Very much a BDSM love affair following a normal business man and the slippery slope of a dominatrix contract. Less hilarious and heartfelt than the others it is sure to stick with you like a leather zentai suit.


the_dog_john_with_gun_96992585-e1407060097451The Dog

Directed by Allison Berg and François Keraudren.

Running time: 100 min.

Screened via Vulcan Video.

A documentary chronicling John Wojtowicz, the man who inspired Dog Day Afternoon. Spoiler alert: he will not let you forget it. The Dog is well shot and it does an excellent job answering the questions you may have had in regards to the Al Pacino film. A truly fascinating look at the man, and his struggles with the culture that rejected him.

directors-barbara-brancaccio-and-joshua-zeman-near-seaviewKiller Legends

Directed by: Joshua Zeman.

Running time: 86 min.

Screened via Netflix.

Because there seems to be a consistent trend with the media I consume, I’d like to follow up with another doc, a polar opposite, total garbage reflection of the genre. Focusing on the original crimes that inspired some of the most famous urban legends, this movie is terrible, don’t bother. You’re better off flipping through Wikipedia. Here, let this start you off.

2004_mean_creek_041Mean Creek

Directed by Jacob Aaron Estes.

Running time: 89 min.

Screened via Netflix.

A coming of age movie about bullies, drugs, and death. Sounds a lot heavier and more interesting than it is. The plot is fine (despite being incredibly predictable) and the film is well shot and well acted. The issue I have is with the ending, I don’t want to spoil the end of the good Culkin’s big break, but the ending really destroyed the entire movie for me. 

marathon-man-1976-02-gMarathon Man

Directed by John Schlesinger.

Running time: 125 min.

Screened via Netflix.

Marathon Man has an excellent cast: Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Olivier, Roy Scheider, and a really interesting premise. I’m not sure what happened with this movie for me. So many character traits that seemingly should create depth but I still didn’t care about any of the characters. The movie is as well acted as you would expect with such big names but I just wasn’t able to make the connection.

trip_05The Trip

Directed by Michael Winterbottom.

Running time: 107 min.

Screened via Netflix.

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon do not disappoint in The Trip. When Coogan’s girlfriend ends up ditching him on a trip through the North of England he ends up taking Brydon along. I laughed so much throughout, super witty, dry, and filled with shitty impressions and friendly jabs. The Trip despite my thoughts had a loose plot and oddly enough while watching I kind of wish it didn’t. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and it made me miss a lot of my friends back home. Anyone down for a road trip?

maxresdefaultV/H/S Viral

Directed by Justin Benson, Gregg Bishop, Todd Lincoln, Aaron Moorhead, Marcel Sarmiento, and Nacho Vigalondo.

Running time: 82 min.

Screened via PSN Streaming.

Well, the polarizing V/H/S series is back and I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing it would end. All of the stories are forgettable, and I honestly can’t remember any but one. They really goofed on this one.

the-trip-to-italy-whysoblu-2The Trip to Italy

Directed by Michael Winterbottom.

Running time: 108 min.

Screened via Netflix.

Much like the first installment except this time the boys go to Italy (with a little more of a budget). A lot of the same type of jokes appear but with more elaboration and more movie jabs. I did enjoy this one more, mainly for the laughs and I enjoyed Brydon and Coogan’s growth. I hope this becomes a regular franchise. I’ll absolutely support them.

vlcsnap-00009 (1)Barton Fink

Directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen.

Running time: 116 min.

Screened via Netflix.

A curious story about a playwright that begrudgingly moves to Hollywood to write a movie. Through unusual turns Barton Fink (John Turturro) becomes mixed up with his strange neighbor. An interesting glimpse at a descent into madness through surreal circumstances with everything sinister thing pointing towards the insurance salesman.

ghost-dog-the-way-of-the-samurai-113527lGhost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

Directed by Jim Jarmusch.

Running time: 116 min.

Screened via Vulcan Video.

I love Jarmusch’s earlier works I wish I could say I enjoyed this movie half as much. The soundtrack by RZA got me pretty excited before watching, Overall I was just too confused to appreciate what was going on. I really struggled with the reinterpretation of the code of the samurai. It lost me.

almanac-photo-52cbd110a7fb9Project Almanac

Directed by Dean Israelite.

Running time: 106 min.

Screened via Alamo Drafthouse. 

I was fortunate enough to be invited to an advance screening of this movie through the Alamo Drafthouse Victory program. I had a really fun time watching this movie despite the fact that I am clearly not the film’s demographic. However, if you do get a bit nauseous during POV shots this is the first hand cam movie that made me feel like spewing everywhere.

Check out Donna’s daily progress over at Letterboxd.