Monday, December 31, 2012

A Collection of All My 2012 Movie Reviews! Nearly 100 Reviews and Tons of Special Features!



Happy New Years Eve, everyone! It has been a long, fruitful year for reviewing and discussing movies, and tomorrow, the cycle shall start anew.

I have spent a lot of time these past few weeks reminiscing on the year in film, with Top 10 Lists of all shapes and sizes, but before moving on to 2013, I wanted to publish one final retrospective – one that took an awful long time to put together but is, I hope, worth the effort.

I have compiled, in this post, the links to every single movie review I published in 2012, with their publication dates and original letter grades. In addition, many films were mentioned in other articles, or had other articles written about them, so I have linked to those as well when applicable.

This is my final, definitive guide to the movies of 2012, and I hope it serves as a nice resource for those looking to brush up on what they missed, or to simply look back on the many, many films released and reviewed this year.

The indexed list of reviews begins after the jump. Enjoy…

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Top 10 TV Shows of 2012



Due to a new job and increased responsibilities reviewing movies, I did not get to write about television this year as much as I normally do. This is a shame. I often feel that TV has surpassed cinema as the greatest repository for smart, enriching entertainment – both drama and comedy – and 2012 seemed to bear that theory out even more than in years past. As I said in my Top 10 Films of 2012 article, this was a fantastic year for film – and yet when I sit back and look at my list of the Top 10 TV Shows of 2012, I find myself even more passionate about these titles, and regretful about all the shows I did not get the chance to watch.

That being said, I kept up with more than enough this year to make the list competitive, and was shocked to see some former favorites fall out of serious contention. Doctor Who, number 5 on lastyear’s countdown, disappointed in many ways during its brief 5-hour run this fall, and Homeland – 2011’s #4 – delivered a pretty wretched second season I would like to forget sooner than later. Chuck certainly did not disappoint in its final episodes, but neither did it deliver enough great content to be a contender for this list.

I also saw some horrible TV this year – even as I agree with every political point made, Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom was an inhumanely torturous experience I hate myself for watching an entire season of – but even as there were minor disappointments along the way, I really enjoyed watching TV in 2012, and had a lot of fun putting this list together. If nothing else, returning to TV writing for this article reignites my desire to write more about television in 2013, and I hope it offers some good recommendations and insight to the reader.

Begin reading after the jump...

Friday, December 21, 2012

2012 Retrospective Round-Up Spectacular!


Since I have not updated this blog since October, I wanted to check back in before the year ends to give some notes on what I have been up to recently, and to remind readers who may have forgotten - or simply did not get the memo - that I am now writing for entertainment website We Got This Covered, where I serve as Associate Editor and lead Film Critic.

Speaking of We Got This Covered, I have been quite busy this month watching the final films of the year, and then summing up 2012 with a whole bunch of Top 10 lists and other retrospective articles - pieces I would like to link to in this post, both for those who have not seen them and to create a central hub for all my year-end countdowns.

The first, of course, is my Top Ten Films of 2012. As you may know, this is always one of my favorite articles to write, publish, and share every year, and as 2012 was a particularly fruitful 12 months of moviegoing, this list is a good one. With pictures, mini-analyses, guides to where you can find the films, and links to my original reviews of each titles it's a very comprehensive retrospective.

To complement this list, I also published a Best of 2012 Runners-Up list, which includes 21 more titles and fleshes the original Top 10 out to #30. It is written largely in the same style as the Top 10 list, again with pictures, descriptions, and links to all the original reviews. For a deeper look at the year in film, you will definitely want to give this list a look.

And because every action must have a reaction of equal force, there is also my annual Worst 10 Films of 2012 countdown, a bitter look at the films that made me angriest these past 12 months. Again, it includes links to the original reviews, which I highly recommend reading, as they are all some of my favorite pieces of my own writing this year.

I have also published a countdown of the Top 10 Film Scores of 2012, a very fun article highlighting one of the most important parts of filmmaking. I had a very good time putting this list together, and I hope you enjoy it - of all my year-end lists, I think this one may be the most unique.

There will be more coming in the next few days. Before Christmas, We Got This Covered will also feature my Top 10 Movie Moments of 2012, a list I will link to here when it is published.

Also, my Top 10 TV Shows of 2012 list has published exclusively at www.jonathanlack.com, right here on the blog! I did not get to write about a lot of TV this year, but I am still an avid TV viewer, and watched more than enough to compile a competitive Top 10 list. You may, in fact, be surprised to see what I left off!

In any case, I am happy to share that article with my blog readers, and look forward to posting more personal content here in the months to come. My Mad Men reviews, a big hit last Spring, will likely resume here at the blog when the show comes back, and I have some other fun plans in the work as well.

Remember to check We Got This Covered every day, not just for my movie reviews and feature articles, but for all the TV, Movie, and Video Game news and reviews published by our talented writing staff. We have also recently redesigned the site, improving it in every possible way.

And you may want to listen to my podcast, WGTC Radio, if you don't already - at 24 episodes and counting, the show is doing great! I am very proud of it!

Thanks for reading, and I will see you all again very shortly with much more content, both here and at We Got This Covered. Enjoy! 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Eulogy for my father, David Ernest Lack (1953-2012)


The following is the text of the eulogy I delivered today at my father's funeral service in Evergreen, Colorado. David Ernest Lack passed away on Saturday, October 20th, after a long and arduous battle with cancer. 

In what turned out to be the last lucid conversation my father and I shared, I sat at his bedside while he told me, in the plain and simple terms he always favored, that he had chosen to let go and exit this world as peacefully as possible. I was quickly overwhelmed with emotion, crying into his arms, unprepared for the pain I felt hearing him admit something I had long known was inevitable.

But my Dad, as always, knew exactly what to say to calm me down, to turn this seemingly dark moment into one of peace and spiritual fulfillment. He said to me, in a raspy and weak voice from which his love still shone through undiluted: “Tell me about your life. Tell me about your favorite moments of your life.”

He did not say his life. He did not ask for me to help him recount the innumerable highlights of his fifty-nine years, though it would have made for an endlessly fascinating and profound conversation. No, he asked me what my favorite memories were, of my life, the life we had shared in up to now.

Read more after the jump...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

David Ernest Lack: 1953 - 2012

My beloved father, David Ernest Lack, passed away this morning after a long and arduous battle with cancer. He was 59.

David went peacefully, in his sleep, with his sons and wife at his side, reading him his favorite psalms and singing hymns. He loved us with a full heart all the days of his life, and he felt our love right up until the very end. 

David is survived by his wife, Tamara Sue Lack, and his three sons, Christian David Lack, Jonathan Rolland Lack, and Thomas Walter Lack, as well as a vast and loving extended family, including eight siblings, countless nieces and nephews,  cousins, in-laws, and last but certainly not least, his nine-month-old granddaughter, Sophia Graye Lack, whose beautiful and miraculous presence helped to give David's life meaning during the hardest stretches of his illness. 


Sophie and David
He was a spectacular father, a loving husband, and a good and faithful friend, the kind of man who always put himself before others. Even a few days ago, when it was clear the end was drawing near, he put us and our emotional stability first. We have always tried to pay it back or forward as well as we could, but I doubt that any of us are quite as selfless or as filled with a burning, passionate desire to help and care for our loved ones as Dad was. I already miss him terribly. 

David came such an incredibly long way to his life. Raised in the small town of Cherokee, Iowa, his family was relatively poor, since his father was Pastor for the local Lutheran Church and had nine children to care for alongside David's mother, who taught music in her spare time. David went on to put himself through almost ten years of University education without any assistance, ultimately gaining two Master's degrees, in Music and Divinity, and following his father's footsteps to become an Ordained Pastor of the Lutheran Church. He died with a wonderful family of his own by his side, in a beautiful house in Golden, Colorado, his head turned towards the Rocky Mountains. As much as any man can be, David was a success, for he lived a life of love and received as much in turn. 



David's favorite Psalm was number 121, A Song of Ascents. We read it to him in the final moments of his life:

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From whence does my help come? 
My help comes from the Lord, 
who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved,
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.  

The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade
on your right hand.
The sun shall not smite you by day, 
nor the moon by night. 

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep 
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forever more. 

And on the night before David passed, I sang this song, which he passed on to me when I was young through our mutually favorite work of literature:

The road goes ever on and on,
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the road has gone,
And I must follow if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet,
And whither then? I cannot say...

I love you Dad, and I always shall, every day of my life.

David and his family - Thomas, Jonathan, and Tamara

David's funeral is tentatively planned for Wednesday morning, October 24th, at 10am, at Evergreen Lutheran Church in Evergreen, Colorado. If you knew him, please come and help us celebrate his wonderful life. 

If you would like to make a donation in my father's memory, please visit www.clinicacolorado.org. Clinica Colorado is a not-for-profit clinic that serves the uninsured in Colorado, and was a cause my Dad greatly believed in, serving on their Board and helping to get the service started. It is a great cause. Thank you. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Millennial Anniversary: My 1,000th Published Article – A Countdown of My Ten Favorite Movies



A little over ten years ago, when I was only nine years old, my third grade teacher, Mrs. Heidi Juran, prompted me to apply to write for the Colorado Kids, a Tuesday print inset of The Denver Post written by youth journalists from the state of Colorado. It was the spring of 2002, and in August of that summer, my application was accepted, the first step of a journey that would come to define my life and career over the past decade.

Today, I publish my 1,000th written article. I have long maintained a list keeping count of every article I have ever published, and have double and triple checked over the past week to make sure the count is accurate. You can check the archive for yourself here; there is no mistaking it. You are reading the 1,000th article of my life.

There are many things I feel I should say, many people I should thank or give credit to, but after 1,000 articles, you know who you are. If I have not thanked you in person, I certainly will in the days to come. I did not publish 1,000 articles on my own, and I am eternally grateful to every single person – my family, especially – who helped me get here. If I had known, when I was nine and considering writing for the Colorado Kids, that I would one day be a prolific film critic, accredited journalist of the Denver film press, official member of the Denver Film Critics Society, and recognized critic on aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes all before I turned twenty, I think I would have been overwhelmed with pressure. When I sit back and think about how far this journey has taken me, I feel energized, humbled, and, once again, grateful.

Though I now write for We Got This Covered – which has grown, over the past few months, into one of the top entertainment sites on the web – I wanted to publish my 1,000th article in a space that felt more personal. The old blog, still one of my proudest accomplishments, felt like the right place to celebrate. This post would have been most at home, of course, at the Denver Post’s YourHub, the outlet I feel I still owe the biggest debt of gratitude. I have had the best of both worlds, though, as the main content of this 1,000th article was actually published in my weekly YourHub print column, Fade to Lack, over the past eleven weeks.

Yes, this 1,000th article is an expanded compilation of the eleven-part series I recently published in YourHub, a series that counted down My Top Ten Favorite Films of All-Time. It seems like a fitting topic for the big triple zero.

After the jump, the nature and significance of this countdown project will be explained in greater depth. For now, I will just say that what you are about to read is the basis for Part 1 of my upcoming book, Fade To Lack, which I am announcing for the very first time will be published in print and digital forms later this year.

I hope you enjoy this 1,000th article. I thank you for following and supporting me over the previous 999. And I look forward to what the next 1,000, or even 10,000, may bring.

Read about My Top Ten Favorite Films after the jump…

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Read my new "Doctor Who" Reviews - including "Asylum of the Daleks" - at We Got This Covered!



Hey all, updating the old blog to direct you towards new content.

I know a lot of you follow me because of my TV Reviews, and one of the main TV shows I write about is, of course, Doctor Who. Since I am now writing for wegotthiscovered.com, reviews of the new season of Doctor Who will be published over there, and I am updating the blog to point you all in the right direction.

You can read my review of Asylum of the Daleks, the Series 7 premiere, at We Got This Covered.

New Doctor Who reviews will appear each and every saturday night. See you there!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

This Week's Movie Reviews - "Ted," "Magic Mike," "People Like Us," "Your Sister's Sister," and "The Amazing Spider-Man"

It's Friday morning again, which means I have a whole slew of new movie reviews for your reading pleasure over at We Got This Covered, and a handy set of links to help you find them:

First, there’s Seth MacFarlane’s “Ted, an irreverent comedy about a thirty-year-old slacker and his teddy-bear best friend. I didn’t love the film, but as I write in the review, “I did enjoy ‘Ted.’ I did not enjoy it greatly, nor do I ever desire to see it again, but it made me laugh, I enjoyed the performances, and the special effects used to bring the title character to life are truly awe-inspiring. It is not a bad film, but it squanders an awful lot of potential, and though I won’t dissuade you from checking it out, I can’t recommend it too enthusiastically either.” Read the full review at We Got This Covered.

Next is Steven Soderbergh’s “Magic Mike,” a comedy about male strippers starring Channing Tatum. It’s probably the weekend’s best wide release, a very fun, ocassionaly insightful work that sees the always-interesting Soderbergh at his most energized. “If you’re a woman looking to flex the “female gaze,” go with a group of friends and have a good time. I doubt it will disappoint. Fans of Soderbergh, be they women or men, should absolutely do the same. ‘Magic Mike’ is far from perfect, but that’s what I love about it. The film is a fun and fascinating work I wholeheartedly recommend.” Read the full review at We Got This Covered.

People Like Us comes from Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, the writers behind “Transformers” and “Star Trek,” and it’s a respectable attempt at shifting into dramatic territory. Sadly, it’s not a very good one. That being said, it did provide one of the better openings I’ve written in a while: “Someday, Hollywood writers will realize that drama and frustrating plot contrivances are not the same thing, and my job shall become substantially more pleasurable. Someday, good actors will not be wasted on deplorable characters, and I will be a happier person for it. Someday, an American film company will produce a film with a father figure who hasn’t ruined the lives of all his children, and for once I won’t feel sad thinking about how many people in the industry must have had horrible childhoods. Someday, preteens shall be depicted as actual children rather than neurotic amalgamations of every annoying or off-putting quality a human being could possess, and I won’t want to shove a fork in my eye every time a child walks on screen. Alas, these are dreams of better days, and ‘People Like Us’ is proof they have not arrived.” Read the full review at We Got This Covered.

Lynn Shelton’s quiet character piece “Your Sister’s Sister” expands this week, and if it’s playing in one of your cities – including Denver – it’s definitely my recommendation for the weekend. Featuring tremendous performances by Mark Duplass, Emily Blunt, and Rosemarie DeWitt, along with a strong script from Shelton, the film gives the viewer plenty to ponder, and lots to enjoy. “I cannot say I have a great amount of passion for the film, but when one watches as many movies as I do, those that bear a strong voice and meaningful authenticity always stand out. ‘Your Sister’s Sister’ is one of those films, and I admire it greatly.” Read the full review at We Got This Covered.

Finally, I have an early review of next week’s big blockbuster, Marc Webb’s “The Amazing Spider-Man.” Though the film has been met with cynicism since its announcement, the finished product absolutely lives up to its title. “Sam Raimi’s films – the first two, at least – were tremendous interpretations of the Spidey mythos, but they hardly hold definitive claim to that territory. Raimi gave us one take on the character, and now Marc Webb arrives to give his own, just as countless authors and artists have reimagined Spider-Man in the world of comic books. The highest praise I can lend "The Amazing Spider-Man" is that Webb’s vision is so strong, his take on the character and universe so different from what Raimi imagined ten years ago, that I spent almost no time whatsoever thinking about prior films while watching. "The Amazing Spider-Man" stands on its own, and it stands quite tall indeed.” Read the full review at We Got This Covered.

If that’s not enough for you, don’t worry. There will be plenty more next week. See you there.

Review: "The Amazing Spider-Man" is an insightful, heartfelt reboot

Film Rating: A


One of the biggest films of the year, "The Amazing Spider-Man," arrives in theatres next week, on Tuesday, June 3rd. But you can read my official review of the film right now, over at We Got This Covered.


Here's an excerpt to pique your interest: Sam Raimi’s films – the first two, at least – were tremendous interpretations of the Spidey mythos, but they hardly hold definitive claim to that territory. Raimi gave us one take on the character, and now Marc Webb arrives to give his own, just as countless authors and artists have reimagined Spider-Man in the world of comic books. The highest praise I can lend "The Amazing Spider-Man" is that Webb’s vision is so strong, his take on the character and universe so different from what Raimi imagined ten years ago, that I spent almost no time whatsoever thinking about prior films while watching. "The Amazing Spider-Man" stands on its own, and it stands quite tall indeed.


"The Amazing Spider-Man" opens in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D theatres on July 3rd. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

WGTC Radio #3 - Spider-Man Retrospective Spectacular! - Brand new Podcast!


The third installment of WGTC Radio, the podcast I host for entertainment website We Got This Covered, has arrived, and it’s a good one.

With The Amazing Spider-Man hitting theatres next week, co-host Sean Chapman and I decided to spend today’s podcast looking back on the original Sam Raimi trilogy starring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. The films arguably kick-started the modern superhero craze, and created a template for the comic-book genre that many filmmakers have since followed. What is their significance in movie history, how did they respect and interpret one of pop-culture’s most iconic characters, and how did the franchise develop from promising to brilliant to stagnant in a five-year period? All this and more is discussed in detail – it’s an episode Spider-Man fans won’t want to miss!

Enjoy, and join us next week when we go in-depth with a spoiler­-filled commentary on Ridley Scott’s sci-fi sensation Prometheus. The Amazing Spider-Man itself will be discussed in detail on podcast #5, which will arrive two weeks from now on July 11th.

Also look for my written review of The Amazing Spider-Man on Monday, July 2nd at We Got This Covered, just in time to tell you whether or not you should rush to a midnight screening!

Stream WGTC RADIO – Episode #3:


  


Friday, June 22, 2012

Read This Week's New Movie Reviews - "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," "Lola Versus," and "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World"


It's time for the weekend, and as such, I have a whole slew of new movie reviews for your reading pleasure over at We Got This Covered, and a handy set of links to help you find them:

First is Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World, "an apocalyptic character study framed through the philosophical lens of absurdism." This is a movie I really and truly love. It features tremendous performances by Steve Carell and Keira Knightley, one of the best scripts of the year, and major emotional moments to spare. As I say in the review: "I love this film, and I do not use the word 'love' lightly. As someone who watches countless movies each year, it is a rare critical emotion I only sense when I truly feel it, and I am ecstatic when I do. 2012 has been a wonderful year for movies, but "Seeking ... " stands at the top as one of my favorite films of the year." Check out the full review at We Got This Covered.

Next is Lola Versus, a quirky indie comedy about a bunch of incredibly, insufferably, unbelievably dumb characters. As I say in the review: "The fragmented title "Lola Versus" practically invites snarky writers like me to complete the phrase with a summation of our criticisms. Indeed, the longer title "Lola Versus the Writing" popped into my head about halfway through the film, because while the main character struggles with love, sex, friendship, herself, and more, her fiercest antagonist is undoubtedly the horrendous script she’s been saddled with. A script that, by the end of the film, made me loath Lola and every single person in her frustrating mess of a life." Check out the full review at We Got This Covered.

Finally, there's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, a film that quickly squanders its promisingly silly premise with an incredibly dark and serious tone. The problem? "...It simply isn’t possible to take this story seriously, and as a result, the entire movie comes across as awkwardly self-important and, at times, tone-deaf. It’s the film simplest and most obvious mistake, but it’s such an overarching, omnipresent one that it brings down every other aspect of the film." Check out the full review at We Got This Covered.

That's it this week! Check back to www.jonathanlack.com tomorrow for my official review of Pixar's Brave, and kill some time listening to the second episode of WGTC Radio while you're at it! Good times will be had by all! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Introducing WGTC RADIO, The New Podcast From Jonathan R. Lack and Sean Chapman


As previously announced here, I’ve been made the Associate Editor of entertainment website We Got This Covered, and as I make the transition, several items from Jonathan Lack At The Movies will be moving over to the new website.

One of those is the popular “Monthly Stuff” Podcast I’ve spent the last year-and-a-half hosting with my good friend Sean Chapman. Though the content of the show has not changed – it’s still Sean and I riffing on whatever entertainment topics interest us – it’s now tied directly to We Got This Covered and has, appropriately enough, been renamed WGTC Radio. 

Which means you have to subscribe to another new feed in iTunes. I’m sorry!

There are several benefits to producing the podcast as WGTC Radio. For one, we’ll likely reach more listeners, and more importantly, we may have more resources going forward to make the podcast the absolute best it can be. Most importantly to our long-time listeners, Sean and I have finally decided to switch to a weekly format, at least for the time being. So instead of one podcast a month, you’ll now get four or five. And if I did my math right, that’s better!

For our first episode, we decided to draw new listeners in with a discussion of our Top Ten Favorite Movies of All-Time, but the podcast was so long we had to split it into two episodes! Part 1 is the debut installment, and next Wednesday, we’ll post Part 2 as Episode 2. Simple, right? And we’ve got lots of great content coming your way after that.

So subscribe to WGTC Radio in iTunes – after next week, The “Monthly Stuff” feed will go dark – and please enjoy Sean and mine’s continuing exploits in the world of internet audio!

Listen To WGTC RADIO – Episode #1 Right Here!






Sunday, June 10, 2012

"Mad Men" Season Finale Review: "The Phantom" (Season 5 Episode 13) - “I’m President of the Howdy Doody Circus...”


The fifth season of Mad Men comes to an end with the season finale, episode 13, “The Phantom.”  It’s the last hour of a fantastic season, so for the final time this year, I’m here with my weekly review and analysis.  To do the finale justice, this review contains heavy spoilers, so don’t read unless you’ve seen the episode.

Spoilers for “The Phantom” after the jump…

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Review: "Prometheus" aims high, comes inspiringly close to greatness

Film Rating: B+

At the heart of Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” lies one of the single most subversive and unsettling questions I have ever seen posed by a major Hollywood release: What if we – the entirety of the human race and all our experiences – are not only one massive cosmic accident, but an unwanted one as well?

That’s bold, incredibly thought-provoking material to build a film around, and as such, “Prometheus” is a work of monumental ambition.  Scott and his team have crafted a rich mythology with limitless possibilities, one born from the question posed above and many, many more.  The film wishes to accomplish so much, in fact, that it’s no surprise the final product is dramatically flawed in several areas.  It’s frustrating, because “Prometheus” comes breathtakingly close to true greatness over and over again; one can sense at every turn seeds of what could very well be one of the all-time great sci-fi efforts. 

Yet at the same time, it’s rather uplifting to see the film come as close as it does.  I would much rather have Scott and company swing for the fences and miss than watch them play it safe, and at the very least, “Prometheus” aspires to be something special.  That, in and of itself, makes it an invigorating piece of can’t-miss cinema, one I’m tempted to embrace wholeheartedly, warts and all. Continue reading after the jump...

Friday, June 8, 2012

Read my "Moonrise Kingdom" Review at 'We Got This Covered'


You may recall that I was recently hired to write for the entertainment website We Got This Covered; at the time, I promised I would notify you when I began reviewing movies predominantly over there rather than here, and it looks like that time has come.

I've just published my first movie review for WGTC, an analysis of Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom," a fantastic new film that stands as the best American release of 2012. I cannot publish the review here, but please head over to WGTC to check out the piece, because I feel it's a very strong bit of writing.


Make sure you check We Got This Covered regularly for all the in-depth content I'm providing, from regular news to editorials to reviews of movies, TV, and more! 

And check back to Jonathan Lack At The Movies this weekend for my exclusive reviews of "Prometheus" and the Mad Men season finale.