Archive for the ‘movie reviews’ Category

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March 2021: Every Review I Wrote

April 4, 2021

Movies – I got back to “normal” life during the last week of March, re-activating my AMC A-list membership and returning to the movie theaters. I also got back to doing my day job: playing poker. I still watched an absurd amount of movies in March, but with getting back to the poker grind last week and doing all my fantasy baseball drafts (five of them!) the week before that, I didn’t review most of the movies I watched. I’m guess that’s how it will be going forward. I’ll probably still watch 2-4 movies a week, but I won’t have much time to write about them. If I wind up reviewing a movie that I haven’t yet, I’ll just post the link in next month’s post like this. I’ll say this much: Anthony Hopkins in The Father is my favorite performance of 2020.

Movies I watched, but didn’t review (ratings out of 10):

  • Nobody (2021) – 7/10
  • The White Tiger (Netflix, 2021) – Nominated for Best Original Screenplay – 7/10
  • What Would Sophia Loren Do? (Netflix, 2021) – On shortlist for Best Documentary Short Subject – 6/10
  • Better Days (2020) – Nominated for Best International Feature – 7/10
  • A Love Song for Latasha (Netflix, 2020) – Nominated for Best Documentary Short Subject – 6/10
  • If Anything Happens I Love You (Netflix, 2020) – Nominated for Best Animated Short – 8/10
  • News of the World (2020) – Nominated for 4 Oscars – 6/10
  • Quo Vadis, Aida? (2020) – Nominated for Best International Feature – 8/10
  • The Father (2020) – Nominated for 6 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay – 8/10
  • The Midnight Sky (Netflix, 2020) – Nominated for Best Visual Effects – 5/10
  • To: Gerard (Peacock, 2020) – On the shortlist for Best Animated Short – 6/10
  • Just Mercy (2019) – 8/10
  • Phantasm 2 (1988) – 6/10
  • Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) – 6/10
  • Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982) – 5/10
  • Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) – 6/10
  • Friday the 13th (1980) – 7/10

2021 Best Feature Films: My top 25 of 2021 through March
2020 Best Feature Films: My top 25 of 2020 through March
2020 Best Documentaries/Docu-Series: My top documentary style films of the year
2020/2021 Oscar Watch: My list of favorites for the major Oscar categories
Focused Watchlist: A list of 30 movies that are at the top of my watchlist with a breakdown of how I formulate my picks
April 2021 – New to Theaters and Streaming: Ranking new and old movies I want to see coming to streaming or theaters this month

I also went crazy and made a best films of the year list for every year from 2020 to 1982, the year I was born. I ranked 25 films for 2000 and later and 10 films for 1999 to 1982. I started fizzling out on my lists in the early 90s as I just haven’t seen most of the important films from those early years when I was a kid. I have all the lists on my blog here. Enjoy!

T.V. Shows (Ratings out of 5)

  • WandaVision – Season 1 (2021) – Disney+ – 2.5
  • Schitt’s Creek – Season 2 (2016) – Netflix – 4.5
  • Schitt’s Creek – Season 3 (2017) – Netflix – 4
  • Schitt’s Creek – Season 4 (2018) – Netflix – 4.5
  • Schitt’s Creek – Season 5 (2019) – Netflix – 4.5

Music

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February 2021: Every Review I Wrote

March 1, 2021

Movies – I went crazy again in February and watched a movie almost every day. I will probably do something similar in March, but by the start of April, I will be fully vaxxed and cleared for takeoff (back to my day job of playing poker) and my days of watching 25 movies a month will be coming to an end. Still, I have the expectation that I can watch every feature film, documentary, and international film that gets an Oscar nomination before the Oscars air in late April and that’s something I’ve never done before.

Movies I watched, but didn’t review:

  • Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution (2020) – 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)
  • Tinker Tailor Solider Spy (2011) – did not rate cause I had a hard time following it
  • In the Mood for Love (2000) – 8/10 (Great/Must See)
  • Re-Animator (1985) – 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

2020 Best Feature Films: My top 25 of 2020 through February
2020 Best Documentaries/Docu-Series: My top documentary style films of the year
2020/2021 Oscar Watch: My list of favorites for the major Oscar categories
Focused Watchlist: A list of 30 movies that are at the top of my watchlist with a breakdown of how I formulate my picks
March 2021 – New to Streaming Ranking of new and old movies I want to see coming to streaming this month

I also went crazy and made a best films of the year list for every year from 2020 to 1982, the year I was born. I ranked 25 films for 2000 and later and 10 films for 1999 to 1982. I started fizzling out on my lists in the early 90s as I just haven’t seen most of the important films from those early years when I was a kid. I have all the lists on my blog here. Enjoy!

T.V. Shows

  • Succession – Season 2 (2019) – HBO Max – 5/5
  • Succession – Season 1 (2018) – HBO Max – 5/5
  • Pen15 – Season 2 (2020) – Hulu – 3/5
  • Schitt’s Creek – Season 1 (2015) – Netflix – 4/5

Music

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January 2021: All My Movie/T.V. Show/Album Reviews for the Month

February 1, 2021

Movies – I went kind of crazy this past month and watched a movie almost every day. I continued to put a dent in my 2020 watchlist and when I wasn’t watching new releases I was catching up on some horror movies I’ve missed over the years or wanted to re-watch. I post these reviews on Letterboxd and Facebook/Twitter as I write them, but I figure I should make a post at the end of each month with links to all the reviews I posted. Somehow, I watched 50 movies over the past two months and none of them were directed by Martin Scorsese, the director I’ve been focusing on over the past year. Ah well. I’ll be looking to correct that in February.

2020/2021 Oscar Watch: My list of favorites for the major Oscar categories
2021 Releases Watchlist: Ranking of 2021 releases I want to see including January, February, and Sundance releases
2020 Releases Watchlist: Ranking of 2020 releases I still want to see
February 2021 – New to Streaming Watchlist: Ranking of new and old movies I want to see coming to streaming this month

T.V. Shows – I completely revamped my T.V. rating page. I have also sorted all the shows by season and the year their first episode aired.

  • Cobra Kai – Season 3 (2021) – 3
  • The Crown – Season 4 (2020) – 4
  • Harley Quinn – Season 2 (2020) – 3.5
  • The Mandolorian – Season 2 (2020) – 4.5
  • Stargirl – Season 1 (2020) – 3
  • What We Do in the Shadows – Season 2 (2020) – 4
  • Pen15 – Season 1 (2019) – 4

Music – I didn’t review much music this past month, but I’ve been rating songs in my Brand New playlist all month, so I should have more albums to talk about next month even though (as you will see) January was a slow month for new music.

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Some Fun 2020 Movie Stats

January 19, 2021

I started using Letterboxd early last year and one of the cool features on the app is that it tracks all sorts of stats about your movie watching. I’m a stat guy, so I love it and when I asked my Facebook friends to guess the 20 actors and 20 directors I’ve seen the most movies from, a ton of people participated and seemed to enjoy it.

2020 Stats

Films watched: 147
Average per month: 12.2
Average per week: 2.8
Most watched (twice): The Queen’s Gambit (limited series count, I guess) and Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (Theatrical version and Producer’s Cut)
Top 5 genres: Drama, Thriller, Comedy, Horror, Action
2020 movies: 26.5%
Older movies: 73.5%
First time watches: 67.3%
Re-watches: 32.7%

Most Watched Stars

  1. Robert Englund (11 films)
  2. Heather Langenkamp (6)
  3. Harry Northup (6)
  4. Robert Shaye (5)
  5. Danielle Harris (5)
  6. Robert De Niro (4)
  7. Clu Gulager (4)
  8. Wes Craven (4)
  9. John Heard (4)
  10. Margot Robbie (4)
  11. Harvey Keitel (4)
  12. Lisa Wilcox (4)
  13. Victor Argo (4)
  14. Parry Shen (4)
  15. Murray Moston (4)
  16. Kelvin Harrison Jr. (4)

Notes: Any guesses which franchises I revisited last year?

Most Watched Directors

  1. Martin Scorsese (9 films)
  2. Wes Craven (2)
  3. John McTiernan (2)
  4. Liz Garbus (2)
  5. Daniel Farrands (2)
  6. Adam Green (2)
  7. Renny Harlin (2)
  8. Chris Columbus (2)
  9. Bong Joon-ho (2)
  10. Taika Waititi (2)
  11. Paul Verhoeven (2)

Lifetime Most Watched Stars

  1. Samuel L. Jackson (40 films) [previously ranked 1]
  2. Robert De Niro (33) [5]
  3. Brad Pitt (33) [2]
  4. John Goodman (32) [8]
  5. Tom Hanks (31) [5]
  6. Matt Damon (30) [5]
  7. Bruce Willis (30) [4]
  8. Morgan Freeman (29) [3]
  9. Johnny Depp (27) [12]
  10. Woody Harrelson (27) [12]
  11. Jack Black (27) [12]
  12. Jonah Hill (26) [8]
  13. Bill Murray (25) [unranked]
  14. Arnold Schwarzenegger (25) [20]
  15. Ben Affleck (25) [unranked]
  16. Tom Cruise (25) [10]
  17. Robert Downey Jr. (25) [12]
  18. J.K. Simmons (25) [12]
  19. Laurence Fishburne (24) [unranked]
  20. Jon Favreau (24) [unranked]

Dropped out: Scarlett Johansson (11), Brian Cox (12), Willem Dafoe (12), John Ratzenberger (12)

Notes: I posted my original list back in late March 2020 and since then I’ve gone through and realized I’ve seen some movies I hadn’t marked as watched, so most of the movement here is because of that. De Niro is the only actor on my 2020 list that is also on my all-time list and he moved all the way up to the #2. Also, there could be 15 actors tied with 24 movies watched, but we will never know how long that list extends because it only shows 20 names at a time.

Lifetime Most Watched Directors

  1. Steven Spielberg (21 films) [previously ranked 1]
  2. Martin Scorsese (19) [2]
  3. Tim Burton (14) [3]
  4. Ridley Scott (13) [4]
  5. Sam Raimi (12) [5]
  6. Ron Howard (12) [5]
  7. Quentin Tarantino (12) [7]
  8. Ivan Reitman (11) [9]
  9. David Fincher (11) [9]
  10. Christopher Nolan (11) [9]
  11. Joel Coen (11) [7]
  12. Michael Bay (10) [9]
  13. Robert Rodriguez (10) [9]
  14. Steven Soderbergh (10) [14]
  15. Jon Turteltaub (9) [18]
  16. Stephen Herek (9) [Unranked]
  17. Wes Craven (9) [18]
  18. Peter Farrelly (9) [Unranked]
  19. Jay Roach (9) [Unranked]
  20. James Mangold (9) [14]
  21. Robert Zemeckis [14]
  22. Richard Donner [14]

Dropped out: Richard Linklater, Lauren Montgomery, F. Gary Gray, Peter Jackson, Harold Ramis, Brian de Palma, Todd Phillips [all tied at 18th]

Note: No major movement here. Scorsese and Wes Craven were the only filmmakers I purposefully watched multiple films from in 2020.

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Movies – December 2020

January 3, 2021

I don’t think I will be posting movie reviews on my blog much longer. At least not in my traditional manner. It just seems silly to copy and paste everything from Letterboxd. It’s a lot of wasted time and energy. I’m not really sure how best to combine my blog and Letterboxd, but this ain’t it. I went crazy in December, watching easily the most movies of any month of the year and really started checking some movies off my 2020 watchlist.

https://boxd.it/5jdaM – Best Feature Films of 2020 (ongoing list)
https://boxd.it/aHeHg – Best Documentaries & Docu-Series of 2020 (ongoing list)
https://boxd.it/armXY – 2020 Movies I Haven’t Seen (ranked by interest level)
https://boxd.it/5FLKe – Movies new to streaming in January 2021 (ranked by interest level)

Mulan (2020, Disney+) I’m shocked at how poorly this is doing with general audiences because I thought it was enjoyable and I’m a harsher critic than most. I watched the animated version sometime in the last few years, but it’s been long enough that I already forgot most of it again. I know there’s a talking creature that accompanies Mulan in the original and I don’t think the witch character was in that version either, but other than that, I couldn’t cite too many differences. As such, it’s hard for me to compare the two and say that the live action one didn’t live up to my expectations – I didn’t really have any. I thought Liu Yifei did a fine job in the lead role and it was cool seeing Gong Li as the witch. I liked the addition of that character and thought it gave some added weight to the story even if it wasn’t all that well fleshed out. I wouldn’t go as far as to say this a good movie, and I suppose it could have been a lot better, but I wasn’t overly disappointed with it either. 5/10 (Decent)

Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge (2020, rental) Shockingly gruesome and plenty of fun. I’m surprised the MK franchise doesn’t have loads of these kinds of animated movies already. Definitely worth a watch for fans of Mortal Kombat. I’d be happy to see more of these kinds of MK films. 6/10 (Recommended)

Die Hard: With A Vengeance (1995, HBOMax, re-watch) Finally, our New York City cop gets a New York City movie! This is the best of the Die Hard sequels (and the last good one) by a long shot and Samuel L. Jackson is a welcome addition – he has great chemistry with Bruce Willis. The initial scene they have together is unforgettable and will always be a classic. Jeremy Irons makes for a good villain and I like that his motives tie back to the first movie (somewhat). The use of the “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” music (possibly better recognized as “the ants go marching one by one?”) for such an extensive sequence is equal parts insane and awesome. This is always a fun 90s action movie to revisit. 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Citizen Kane (1941, HBOMax, re-watch) Many think this is the best movie ever made. I’m not one of them. I don’t even love it. I’m sure it was a technical marvel for the time it was made, but that was 40 years before I was born and I just haven’t seen enough movies from that era for me to say that it stands heads and shoulders above its peers. That said, I did enjoy Citizen Kane. This is my second viewing and I think I liked it more this time around. Orson Welles is great, the music is great, and the story and search for the meaning of Rosebud is fun. Perhaps I’m a bit uncultured, but I feel this is a very good but not great movie. 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Mank (2020, Netflix) There’s a lot to like about this movie. It has a wonderful 1930s/1940s aesthetic to it and the music is great. There’s plenty of top notch acting, especially from Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried, the latter of whom gives easily the best performance of her career (the guy that played Orson Welles was not great though and his final scene was borderline cringe). Herman Mankiewicz was quite the character. But at the same time, this movie just wasn’t overly interesting to me. I didn’t really understand why he wrote Citizen Kane about William Randolph Hearst and all the politics involved were over my head. Mank is technically great, but the movie as a whole isn’t all that entertaining.  6/10 (Recommended)

Elf (2020, Netflix, re-watch) Can’t go wrong with this Christmas classic. This was more of a background watch than a dedicated one, but I kept finding myself wanting to tune in rather than focus on the board game we were playing, so that says a lot about Elf’s enjoyability. Always a good one to revisit in December! 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Johnny Tsunami (1999, Disney+) I was only loosely watching this while my wife had it on. I can’t say it was all that interesting, but it had its charm and wasn’t unwatchable.  4/10 (Meh)

Sinister (2012, personal collection, re-watch) A hidden gem. This movie was truly thrilling and actually quite scary. I kind of loved it. This is a must watch for fans of horror. 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Freaky (2020, rental) I was pretty eager to watch this because it looked fun. Sure, the concept is not even remotely original, but I’m not sure it’s ever been used for a horror-type film. I was totally expecting a PG-13 movie, so I was pretty shocked by the gore in the opening sequence – it’s incredibly over-the-top and bloody. Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton both give fun performances, but I would have liked to see more screen time of Newton as the killer. Director Christopher Landon seems to be making a niche of taking popular story gimmicks and applying them to horror movies. Happy Death Day spawned a franchise and I wouldn’t be shocked if this does also. I’d be there to watch it. 6/10 (Recommended)

Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020, HBOMax) This movie is probably going to pop up on a lot of top 10 lists for 2020, but it’s worth noting the wide discrepancy between critical and general audience receptions: Rotten Tomatoes has the critic score at 99% favorable while the audience score is 20% favorable. I’m not too surprised by that. I wouldn’t call this movie riveting. The story follows a young pregnant girl in her quest to get an abortion without her parents find out about it, which proves to be quite the challenge considering she is underage in her home state. So yeah, I can see why some audiences are turned off. Imagine someone that is pro-life thinking this is a good movie. I’m sure there are people in that camp that are trashing this without even watching it. Secondly – and this is a stereotypical assumption – but I wouldn’t expect males to be overly interested in this one. Personally though, I enjoyed it. It’s a brutal psychological and emotional journey and Sidney Flanigan is really, really good in it. Some questions here go unanswered and we are left to fill in the blanks, but this movie still made me feel something so even though I didn’t think it was overly entertaining, it was still powerful. 6/10 (Recommended)

David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet (2020, documentary, Netflix) I was expecting a biography type documentary and while we get some glimpses into Attenborough’s life, this is more about his quest to urge people to understand global warming and save our planet for future generations.  It does have plenty of amazing visuals of animals and jaw-dropping scenery of various landscapes.  I actually did learn a lot watching this and it was good, even if it wasn’t what I was hoping for. 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Shocker (1989, HBOMax) I put this on my list after listening to Wes Craven’s biography on Audible because it sounded interesting and I’m a fan of most of the horror pics I’ve seen from him. This sucked though. It was so cringy and you can tell Craven was trying really hard to recreate the magic of his Nightmare on Elm Street series. It just didn’t work for me at all. The fact that Craven uses dreams as a main plot point again is weird and the villain was just kind of lame. I may have liked this if I saw it as a kid when it initially came out, but seeing it for the first time as an adult, I thought it was pretty stupid. 3/10 (Bad)

Home Alone (1990, Disney+, re-watch) The most amazing thing about Home Alone is that I’ve probably seen it more than any other movie in my lifetime and yet, I still enjoy it. Even as I enter my late 30s I still don’t mind watching it every single year around Christmas time. This movie is full of plot holes, nonsense, and unbelievably dumb characters, but I still love it and it’s charm is undeniable. A true classic, even if it isn’t exactly a great film. 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (2020, Amazon Prime) Not as good as the first Borat movie, but it still made me LOL many times and that’s saying something. The girl that plays Borat’s daughter did an excellent job, especially considering how brutal some of her scenes were. Speaking of which, I could have done without the daddy/daughter dance scene. Sometimes Sacha Baron Cohen takes things a bit too far and that would be a good example. I really like the whole premise of Cohen playing his characters and getting real time and authentic reactions from unknowing victims. I wonder about how this particular film was created. It seems like Cohen set out to make this thing before the Coronavirus pandemic started (as evidenced by him interrupting the speech in which Mike Pence says the U.S. has had 15 total cases of the virus) but by the end of the film, Covid dominates the narrative. So… what movie was he planning to make before the virus took over? If you liked the first Borat, this is definitely a must watch. Personally, I found it to be wildly entertaining, especially the first half. Strong recommendation. 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Love & Monsters (2020, RedBox) This was an enjoyable and easy watch. I know it’s not meant to be a deep-thinker, but I couldn’t help but wonder how the mutated monsters wiped out humanity – with all of our advanced weaponry, transport, and military numbers – when they seem to be rather scarce once the story moves to the surface. You’d expect their presence to be overwhelming, but we only see a handful of monsters the entire movie and they are always seen attacking as a solo act. So… how exactly did humankind fall to these things? Our hapless and untrained hero also continuously takes them out with a homemade crossbow, so I was having a hard time believing the entire premise of the movie. Ignoring that though, I thought the cast was cool and the monsters were creative and looked pretty good. This is a solid family flick that was quite fun even though it’s pretty damn silly and gets a light recommendation from me. 6/10 (Recommended)

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992, Disney+, re-watch) I can’t blame anyone involved for making this, but it’s basically just a retread of the first film set in New York City under even more unbelievable circumstances. I guess it’s still kind of fun, but it doesn’t come close to capturing the magic of the original. 5/10 (Decent)

On The Rocks (2020, AppleTV+) Bill Murray is pretty great and I like Rashida Jones but I’m not sure she’s all that interesting as an actress.  This movie was good enough but I think the narrative is kind of manipulative and that ended up bothering me by the end of the film.  I walked away pretty unsatisfied.   5/10 (Decent)

Wolfwalkers (2020, AppleTV+) Wonderfully animated, unique and plenty impactful.  The voice acting is stellar and the mystical story about the relationship between man and wolf is top notch.  Robyn is a great character – one of the better heroines of the last few years.  I was tempted to label this a Must Watch and I wouldn’t blame anyone for doing so, but it fell just a bit short for that lofty level for me.   7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Soul (2020, Disney+) Absolutely loved it.  This hit me in the feels.  Typical elite Pixar that is wildly creative and tells an emotionally moving story.  The animation of the “on earth” scenes is incredible.  The voice acting from Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey is good.  The music is great.  Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross hit another homerun.  Those dudes don’t miss.  This is a legit great film.  My second Must Watch of 2020.   8/10 (Great/Must See)

Beastie Boys Story (2020, documentary, AppleTV+) I was never a huge Beastie Boys fan but I did like their popular songs.  They peaked before I really got into music and Hello Nasty in 1998 was the first and only Beastie Boys I bought when it came out.  Unfortunately, I’ve never really gone back and dug into their discog but I still appreciate their place in music history and something like this is right up my alley.  It was cool to see how the group came together and found success in a genre that had didn’t really have any white artists.  It’s kind of strange how seamlessly they seem to have blended in to the early hip-hop scene considering how groundbreaking it felt when Eminem broke through over a decade later.  Ad Rock and Mike D share their story on stage with a live audience and a video background.  This is not your typical documentary, but definitely a must watch for any Beasties fan and a worthwhile watch for fans of music history.   6/10 (Recommended)

Boys State (2020, documentary, AppleTV+) This is a documentary about an annual event in Texas where hundreds of high school age kids get together and form a government from the ground up, making policies and voting on officials to represent one of their two parties. I’m not even remotely interested in the politics of our country, but I did get completely invested in the stories of the various kids the film crew decided to focus on. This has been receiving high praise for good reason. Even if a politically ignorant/uninvested person such as myself found it to be an absolute delight.   8/10 (Great/Must See)

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Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

December 26, 2020

Director: Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman, Monster)

Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal

Anticipation Level: Very High

How Was It?

Ugh.  I was really excited for this and it was such a slog.  How are you going to make a Wonder Woman sequel and have Gal Gadot in costume for maybe five minutes in the first hour and 45 minutes?  The narrative moves at a crawl and that’s not how I want my action flicks, especially if the exposition and character development isn’t particularly riveting.  Kristen Wiig’s Cheetah was fine (well, until the final act), but I did not enjoy Pedro Pascal at all.  He’s great in The Mandalorian but his performance as Max Lord here was just hard to watch… and not in a good way.  There were some charming and funny moments (mostly between Gadot and Chris Pine) and the conclusion of the movie was dangerously close to being touching, but I’m struggling to find the positives.  This movie was way too long and bored me for most of its run time.  I’m super disappointed.  I honestly can’t imagine watching this again.  My score below is probably generous.

Replay Value: Very little

Sequel Potential: They had a winning formula going here and I can’t imagine they’d replace Gal Gadot, but this movie was a huge step back. I assume they will keep moving forward with Gadot as Wonder Woman, but DC has plans to shake everything up in the near future.

Oscar Potential: None.

4/10 (Subpar)

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Sound of Metal (2020)

December 18, 2020

Director: Darius Marder (Loot)

Starring: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci

Anticipation Level: Moderate

How Was It?

This one had my anxiety levels rising from the jump. Imagine suddenly losing your hearing one day. Imagine suddenly losing your hearing when music is your passion and only source of income – not to mention the strongest bond you have with your significant other. It’s difficult and disturbing to watch Riz Ahmed’s character go through all the various stages of grief in dealing with his hearing loss, but we get an immersive glimpse at what that might be like if it happened to us. Ahmed gives the best performance of his career and will be a strong contender for a Best Actor nomination. Sound of Metal is possibly the best movie I’ve seen this year and it’s really sticking with me. I wouldn’t mind re-watching it again relatively soon. It’s heartbreaking and the most powerful movie I’ve seen that was released this year. After sitting on it for a few days, I’ve decided Sound of Metal is the first must see film of 2020. It’s streaming on Amazon Prime now so check it out ASAP.

Replay Value: I didn’t think so at first, but the more I’ve thought about this movie the last few days, the more interested I am in watching it again sooner rather than later.

Sequel Potential: None.

Oscar Potential: Riz Ahmed should be in the Best Actor mix and I expect this to be one of the ten or so movies that get a Best Picture nomination. I suppose a Best Pic nom means it’s also a fringe contender for screenplay and directing. The use of sound in this movie was pretty interesting, so maybe there’s a nomination in there, but I’m not sure if it would be for mixing or editing.

8/10 (Must See)

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Movie Ratings (July – September 2020)

November 30, 2020

So this is what happened: I wrote a lengthy review for Disney+’s Hamilton on Letterboxd (which doesn’t autosave like WordPress does) and I never saved it and wanted to proofread it before submitting, but I forgot about it and my computer reset on its own and that review disappeared forever. I didn’t have it in me to type it all up again. And then I lost motivation to write any reviews at all and here we are four months later and I have heaps of movies I’ve seen that I’ve never talked about or rated.

Hamilton (2020, Disney+) The writing of this play is next-level genius and seeing the original cast perform it is awesome. This whole show is pure brilliance and Lin-Manuel Miranda never has to do another thing in his career and he will still be a legend forever. 10/10 (Perfection)

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark (2020, docu-series, HBOMax) This docu-series about true crime writer Michelle McNamara and her pursuit of The Golden State Killer starts off a little slow and rough but gets very interesting in the last three episodes, even to someone that has read Michelle’s book and has devoured most of the media related to this case.  It’s truly a mind-blowing story but the presentation in the first couple of episodes left a lot to be desired. 6.5/10 (Recommended/Highly Enjoyable)

The Silence of the Lambs (1991, Netflix) An all-time great thriller with two all-time great performances, courtesy of Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster. Foster is wonderful, but Hopkins is unreal. His portrayal of Dr. Hannibal Lecter in this movie is one of the best acting performances I’ve ever seen and he never quite captures the same magic when he reprises the role in future franchise installments. A true classic and one of the few films I’m saying is damn near perfect. 10/10 (Perfection)

42 (2013) I gave this a very distracted viewing back in the day and thought I didn’t care for it, but after Chadwick Boseman’s tragic passing, I wanted to watch one of his films and decided to give this Jackie Robinson biopic another shot and I liked it quite a bit more this time around. 6/10 (Recommended)

The Gentleman (2020) This was a nice return to form for director Guy Ritchie. It’s an entertaining and humorous movie and I thought Colin Farrell was great in it. I guess since I’ve seen very few original 2020 releases, this one quite easily sits in my top 5 of the year at the moment, but that’s not saying much. 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

High Score (2020, docu-series, Netflix) This docu-series examines the evolution of the video game industry through the eyes of pioneering game developers and the people that excelled at playing them. There’s some interesting stuff in this and it’s a nice trip down memory lane for someone that remembers when Atari was a technological marvel, but it also has a bit of a corny presentation and focuses on the players a little too much. 5/10 (Decent)

Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals (2010, HBOMax) Fresh off reading Jeff Pearlman’s book about the Showtime Lakers, I was interested in diving deeper into the legacies of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, so I was quite pleased to find this documentary on HBOMax. It was very entertaining and explores the rivalry and blossoming friendship, on and off the court, between these two legends as their basketball careers developed and they continued to face off against one another on the biggest stage. 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Back to the Future (1985, Netflix) A classic that still holds up well today. I’ve seen it many times and it’s still tons of fun. 8/10 (Must See)

Mortal Kombat (1995, Netflix) This came out at a time when the games were still seen as controversial (and maybe they still are), so it’s not that surprising that the studio pussed out and made a PG-13 film out of what was clearly R-rated source material. I can’t say this is exactly what I wanted as a 13 year old fan of the games, but I thought they made an enjoyable movie – and I still feel that way. At worst, this is cheesy fun, but considering the limitations of the rating, I think this was a pretty solid win. I’m very curious to see what they do with the R-rated reboot that’s due out in theaters in January (uh, if that’s a thing by then). 5.5/10 (Decent/Recommended)

Starship Troopers (1997, Netflix) This is a cult classic that I remember as being a little better than it probably is. It’s got some cheese in it, but I still found this to be lots of satirical fun. I think the writing and directing in this space epic are pretty good, but the cast brings the overall quality down a bit – it would almost certainly be better with a stronger leading man. 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Taxi Driver (1976, Netflix) Here I am trying to write about a movie I watched two months ago… I know this much: this movie has reason to be considered as one of the all-time greats, it’s Scorsese’s first truly amazing film (I think Mean Streets fell a bit short of that level), and Robert De Niro is unbelievably good in it. Jodie Foster is also great in this and Scorsese even has a wonderful acting scene as a cab passenger spying on his cheating wife. At worst, this movie is amazing. At best, it might be a perfect film that is one of the greatest movies ever made. I’m excited to watch it again and I won’t wait 20 years between viewings this time. 9/10 (Spectacular)

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Tenet (2020)

September 4, 2020

Director: Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight trilogy, Interstellar, Inception, Memento)

Starring: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branagh

Anticipation Level: High

How Was It?

Christopher Nolan is smarter than the rest of us and he wants everyone to know it. Sure, he’s done plenty of high concept films before (Memento, The Prestige, Inception, Interstellar), but in all of those movies the plots are relatively easy to follow and you know who the characters are and why they are doing what they are doing. Tenet? I’ll be damned if anyone can honestly say they know what the hell is going on in this movie the first time they watch it. Things are complex enough as it is, but Nolan has made a habit of drowning out the dialogue with extraneous noise in his last couple of films (see also: Dunkirk) and when that dialogue is needed to explain critical plot points, it makes Tenet pretty much impossible to follow. This film would benefit a lot from having subtitles even though it is almost entirely in English.

At some point, I just turned my brain off and tried to enjoy the spectacle. Tenet definitely has some A+ action sequences and plenty of amazing visuals so it scores really high in those departments. This movie will have no issue racking up award nominations in all the technical apsects, although the sound editing and/or mixing is more of a problem than an asset here. The concept of inverting time makes for some really cool moments and some brilliant-looking shots.

I can’t say I cared about any of the characters in this movie so there was no emotional weight to the story during my first watch. It’s hard to say whether that’s a result of things being undeveloped or because I just didn’t get it, but either way, I didn’t feel any type of way about what was happening. I think the acting in this movie is pretty good and that’s not surprising as John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, and Elizabeth Debicki all have good performances on their resumes already. This movie is light on comedy, but Washington still finds a couple of moments to say something funny.

I feel like it’s unfair to give this movie a rating after one viewing considering I didn’t really understand it. I think even if the dialogue wasn’t so hard to hear a lot of the time and I had a better idea of what was going on, I’d still need to do extra research online to really get to the bottom of everything. I’ll eventually do that, but I’m guessing the average moviegoer isn’t too interested in all that. As a result, I expect most people not to like this movie and they will probably dismiss it after one viewing. I’m sure everyone is going to see it anyway (when they feel safe to do so), but I don’t recommend it unless you are okay with being clueless while watching it and spending extra time reading about it later. Tenet is quite easily my least favorite Chris Nolan film after one viewing and with a 150 minute run time, I can’t say I’m super excited to get back in the theater again and figure things out.

Replay Value: Required, but I don’t know how enjoyable it will be.

Sequel Potential: I don’t expect Nolan to make sequels to his original movies.

Oscar Potential: Cinematography, Visual Effects, Production Design, Film Editing, Original Score noms all seem likely. Dunkirk won Oscars for Sound Mixing and Sound Editing but I couldn’t hear the dialogue in that movie either so… I wouldn’t be shocked to see this get Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay noms because it’s a Chris Nolan movie, but not because it actually deserves them.

???/10 (???)

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A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

August 21, 2020

Director: Chuck Russell (The Mask, The Blob, Eraser)

Starring: Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, Craig Wasson, Patricia Arquette, Laurence Fishburne

Anticipation Level: High

How Was It?

This review may contain spoilers.

The last good Freddy movie before a long stretch of total crap. I still haven’t revisited Part 2, but I’ve never liked that movie and I don’t expect that to change, even after watching the Mark Patton documentary. I felt fine skipping Freddy’s Revenge because this movie ignores that sequel anyway (Note: I do plan to watch it again soon [Note: and I did obviously]).

Dream Warriors holds up really well and has some of the most iconic moments (the Freddy worm, the whole puppet sequence, the T.V. death scene) of the whole series, but it is also probably responsible for making Freddy a punchline factory. I love the whole “welcome to prime time, bitch” scene, but let’s be real, that’s the moment that started the transition from a relatively scary Freddy to the cornball jokester he’d become over the next three movies.

This movie seems to answer the questions about the ending of Nightmare 1. Nancy’s friends and mom really died, the grey streak in her hair is back, and I guess whatever happened after she turned her back on Freddy and made him disappear was a dream?

The concept of the Dream Warriors is pretty cool. There’s a girl that can pull other people into her dreams and when she does so that person can come in with a superpower (i.e. super strength, wizardry, etc.) and that makes these kids quite a bit more formidable than the standard issue group of horror movie victims.

I think the acting in this movie is mostly fine. You don’t realize how good Patricia Arquette is until you watch someone else play the same role in Nightmare 4 and, well, it’s a night and day difference in quality. Heather Langenkamp returns as Nancy Thompson and while her presence gives the kids hope and credibility, I can’t say Langenkamp is a strong actress by any means. Somehow, it seems she has gotten worse at her craft in the three years between the original Nightmare and this one. Robert Englund has a lot more scenery to chew in this movie compared to the original. He’s wonderful. While Freddy was already a thriving entity, I’m pretty sure this is the movie mostly responsible for making him the pop culture icon he still is today.

Dream Warriors is a strong entry in the Elm Street series and one of my favorite flicks out of all the slasher movies featuring horror’s biggest icons. This movie builds really well on the original – thanks in large part to Wes Craven returning as a screenwriter – and provides some of the best kills and special effects of the whole series. A proper horror sequel and a must see for genre fans.

Replay Value: One of two Freddy Krueger movies I could probably watch over and over again as an adult.

Sequel Potential: We’re not even halfway yet.

Oscar Potential: None.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)