Posts Tagged ‘2017 movies’

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So Many Movie Reviews! Three Billboards, Phantom Thread, Game Night, Lady Bird, and more!

March 28, 2018

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) was a movie that I immediately wrote off when it was announced, but as the release date approached, I was intrigued enough to check it out. It was fun. All the main actors are funny and I was laughing through most of the movie. I wish there were more animal encounters, but I can hardly complain about this sequel – it was better than it had any right to be. Anyone interested in watching this shouldn’t be disappointed.
Replay Value: It is fun enough to watch again, but unless Dina wants to see it, that probably won’t happen.
Sequel Potential: Can you believe this grossed $400 million in the United States alone? To put that in perspective, that’s just under the combined box office receipts for Justice League and The LEGO Batman Movie. It did more business than Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spiderman: Homecoming, and Thor: Ragnarok! Unreal. So yeah, lots of potential for more Jumanji.
Oscar Potential: Zero nominations.
Dina Meter: My wife would have definitely enjoyed this movie.

6/10 (Fun)

Phantom Thread (2017) was more high level filmmaking from director Paul Thomas Anderson. Daniel Day-Lewis gives his typical powerhouse performance, although this one has quite a bit less dazzle than some of his best work. Still, his high strung and OCD fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock is another very memorable DDL character. The writing, direction, and acting are all very well done in this film, but fair warning, it does get a bit weird towards the end. I doubt general audiences would be enthralled, but those of you that enjoy more artsy films should find a lot to appreciate here. Phantom Thread is a film that is already making me reexamine my new movie ratings because it doesn’t seem to fit the “Highly Enjoyable” or “Fun” categories, but it was certainly a better film than Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.
Replay Value: I would take this journey again.
Sequel Potential: Zero.
Oscar Potential: Acting nominations for DDL and Lesley Manville, plus Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Score, and an unsurprising win for Best Costume Design – it is a movie about a fashion designer!
Dina Meter: Definitely not Dina’s kind of movie and if she did watch it, she would have been out in the last half hour.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Lady Bird (2017) was a lot of fun, but I have a confession. The trailers for films are so long these days that I no longer make it a priority to be in the theater when the movie is supposed to start. The actual film almost never starts until 15 minutes after its listed showtime. Well, I walked into Lady Bird over ten minutes late and the feature presentation looked like it was well in progress. Walking in late to a Best Picture contender is inexcusable and I think it may have hindered my experience ever-so-slightly. Still, I definitely enjoyed Lady Bird. Saoirse Ronan was absolutely terrific and her character, while a flawed teenage girl trying to figure things out, was one of 2017’s best movie characters. Laurie Metcalf was also great as Lady Bird’s mother. On the other hand, this movie was a good contrast for Timothee Chalamet’s performance in Call Me By Your Name. After seeing him in this, I’m upgrading his performance in Call Me By Your Name to truly phenomenal. I give Lady Bird a strong recommendation and I feel like I owe it another watch myself.
Replay Value: High on my list to see again immediately.
Sequel Potential: Seems very unlikely.
Oscar Potential: Five nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, plus Saoirse Ronan for Best Actress and Laurie Metcalf for Best Supporting Actress.
Dina Meter: I am looking forward to watching this with Dina and I am sure she will like it.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

The Post (2017) was an enjoyable politically-charged newspaper thriller with a standard Oscar-worthy performance from Meryl Streep and lots of quality work from the rest of the cast. The story of a government cover-up and a small newspaper putting everything on the line to publish the conspiracy was actually quite a bit more entertaining than I was expecting. It’s still difficult for me to picture The Washington Post as the Oakland Athletics of the newspaper world, but this movie has a bit of a Moneyball feel to it. I tend to prefer Steven Spielberg’s adventure spectacles, but at this point, I think you have to give the guy credit for being very adept at making political thrillers.
Replay Value: Not really a movie I’m looking to watch more than once.
Sequel Potential: N/A
Oscar Potential: Two nominations: Meryl Streep and Best Picture.
Dina Meter: I think she’d like The Post.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) might be one of the most polarizing films of 2017. I’ve seen people say it was the best film of 2017 and I’ve seen people say they hated it. Honestly, it’s a tough film to rate. There was definitely times during the movie when I thought it was the year’s best film. Frances McDormand gives my favorite performance of the year – of that, I am certain. Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson also chip in with exceptional performances. Much like the film itself, Rockwell’s unhinged police officer is one that is likely to divide audiences. He’s an idiot and a total loose cannon that seems to have no leash and there seems to be no good explanation for his free reign of destruction. The character is rather despicable but Rockwell’s acting is off the charts. I loved him in this movie. Three Billboards is brutal, shocking, and full of twists and turns and will possibly leave audiences shaking their heads or unsatisfied, but I thought it was great. McDormand and Rockwell give two of my favorite performances of 2017 and the plot, although absurd at times, is insanely entertaining. This movie is a total spectacle and a must see in my books.
Replay Value: I am looking forward to watching it again.
Sequel Potential: Almost none. I guess it’s possible, but I don’t see any reason to continue this story.
Oscar Potential: Seven nominations: Best Picture, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Original Screenplay, and Woody Harrelson, plus well deserved Oscar wins for Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell.
Dina Meter: I have no clue where my wife will fall on this movie, but I’m looking forward to finding out.

8/10 (Must See)

Game Night (2018) was tons of fun. Absolutely Hilarious and totally unexpected. Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams were terrific and had great comedic chemistry. Jesse Plemons is also hysterical every time he’s on screen. I mean absurdly funny… like I laughed through almost every second of his screen time. Game Night twists and turns so much you’re never really sure what’s real and what’s not (and neither are the characters in the movie) and it doesn’t get so outlandish that it becomes ridiculous. This would have been the best comedy of last year and after a brief glance it looks like I’d have to go back years to find a straight comedy that I enjoyed more than Game Night. If you missed this in theaters, make sure you check it out on home release – it’s a must see comedy and very fun flick.
Replay Value: Comedies are best the first time, but I’d happily watch this again.
Sequel Potential: Successful comedies always have sequel potential.
Oscar Potential: None.
Dina Meter: If Dina doesn’t love Game Night I’ll be shocked.

8/10 (Must See)

Annihilation (2018) is writer/director Alex Garland’s follow up to his terrific Ex Machina. I don’t know. There’s a good movie in here somewhere, but I didn’t love it. Annihilation is intriguing, at worst, and there are some thrilling moments when the women enter The Shimmer and encounter some strange beasts, but the last 20 minutes or so of the film are definitely going to lose viewers. I’ve read a number of people that loved this movie, but I’m among those that were kind of boggled after Natalie Portman reaches the lighthouse. Ex Machina was a bit weird too, but I think it was substantially more palatable than Annihilation is. The cast here is okay, but nothing remarkable. I’ve read enough good things about Annihilation to know it has an audience, but it was a slight miss for me.
Replay Value: Debatable.
Sequel Potential: I believe this was the first adaptation in a series of novels.
Oscar Potential: A February release and a divided audience are going to hurt its chances, but I suppose a Best Adapted Screenplay could be a long shot.
Dina Meter: I think making Dina sit through this would ruin her day.

5/10 (Decent)

Red Sparrow (2018) did not grab me at all. To be fair, I was incredibly distracted while watching it, as I explained in this post, but even if I was focused on the movie, I don’t think I would have been impressed. This is the least inspiring performance I’ve seen from Jennifer Lawrence to date and none of the characters I saw were interesting or likable at all. I walked out of this movie probably less than halfway into it.
Replay Value: I will probably give this a second chance on home release.
Sequel Potential: $44M in gross with a budget of $70M is a dud. Let’s just stop now and let J-Law focus on meatier roles.
Oscar Potential: More like Razzie potential. Seriously… drawing live IMO.
Dina Meter: Dina could probably stomach this movie if she were multitasking.

3/10 (Bad)

Game Over, Man (2018 – Netflix) was a comedy I was looking forward to since it was written by and starring the dudes from “Workaholics,”, but this is stupid comedy, not smart comedy. Game Over, Man relies on shock value and grossout humor and while it has some funny moments, it’s mostly just really dumb. It’s basically Die Hard with three idiots instead of Bruce Willis and a posse of forgettable bad guys, none of which have the charisma of Alan Rickman. No idea how this movie has a 5-star rating on Netflix, but I expect that start plummeting as more people start watching it. This movie wasn’t trying to be good, but it also didn’t succeed very well at being silly entertainment. You can safely skip this, unless you enjoy bad comedies and a lot of people do.
Sequel Potential: There was a sequel teaser similar to the credits of 22 Jump Street. No idea if it’s a real thing or not, but it probably shouldn’t be.
Oscar Potential: None.
Dina Meter: Dina was laughing before she fell asleep, but so was I. I’m confident she would have lost interest too.

3/10 (Bad)

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Jeepers Creepers 3 (2017)

February 24, 2018

Starring: Who cares
Director: Victor Salva (Jeepers Creepers, Jeepers Creepers 2)

Bottom Line: Man. Sometimes you think something is going to be a good idea and then you wonder what the hell you were thinking. I don’t know why I thought watching Jeepers Creepers 3 would be a fun experience. I am admittedly partial to horror movies and I’ve been known to find joy in watching plenty of mediocre films in the genre. I remember seeing the first Jeepers Creepers all the way back in 2001 and how much the first 20 minutes of that movie blew my mind with how tense it and scary it was and then it blew my mind again (in a bad way) when it’s tone suddenly shifted to full blown unkillable monster movie. I thought I watched the sequel, but after reading the synopsis on Wikipedia the only thing that rang a bell was the school bus and when I watched the last ten minutes of the movie on YouTube, I didn’t remember the ending. So why did I watch Jeepers Creepers 3?

I don’t know. It was a mistake. If you didn’t love the first two movies, you can safely skip this one. It’s really, really bad. And not really, really bad in a good way. It just sucks. I don’t know how many horror monster movies I’ve seen that take place in broad daylight, but talk about a mood killer. The sun is shining radiantly for all but the last 20 minutes of this movie. So the filmmakers could save money on lighting? There is one decent jump scare in this movie and absolutely zero tension. The acting was unsurprisingly shoddy and the score for the film was laughable at times. It seems like the plot wants to tie the film’s characters to The Creeper somehow, but I didn’t really get it. Like, the main girl’s mother has one of The Creeper’s hands buried in the yard, but I don’t get how that makes the girl special? There’s some sort of Creeper bounty team, but I didn’t really understand how or why they existed, or how they were aware of the monster and its hibernation habits. Maybe it’s a call back to the older movies I didn’t see or don’t remember. It’s not much of a spoiler to reveal that good prevails over evil in the end… but I watched it… and I still don’t really know how.

Eh. I decided to type this review tonight because I knew it would be easy to share my sentiment and I’ve already wasted too many words on it. It’s amazing to me that Victor Salva took 13 years to write something this bad. Jeepers Creepers 3 sucks. Stay away. This was the worst movie I’ve seen in a while.

Replay Value: None.
Sequel Potential: Evil never dies. The film ends with a teaser for part 4. Oh joy.
Oscar Potential: Zero.

Grade: 2/10 (Horrible)

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I, Tonya (2017)

February 22, 2018

Starring: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney
Director: Craig Gillespie (Fright Night, Lars and the Real Girl, The Finest Hours)

Bottom Line: Absolutely loved it. This is the story of American Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding (Robbie), her brutal upbringing by her abusive and alcoholic mother (Janney), her struggle for acceptance (despite her enormous talent) in the ice skating world because of her trashy background, her tumultuous relationship with boyfriend Jeff Gillooly (Stan), and the controversy that arose from all of these things, including the infamous Nancy Kerrigan Incident. I love the way this movie is delivered via present day interviews and flashbacks and a knowing wink that everyone involved might be twisting the truth about what actually happened. The use of multiple unreliable narrators allows the story to unfold without presenting everything as 100% factual and adds an extra layer of humor to what is easily the funniest 2017 film I’ve seen to date. I, Tonya manages to tell Harding’s story without really taking anyone’s side. Tonya Harding might be at the center of this biopic, but she’s no hero and even though the film might want you to feel pity for Harding at times, I think it clearly understands that she was an incredibly flawed human being and though she was surrounded by horrible people, she wasn’t merely a victim of circumstance – she didn’t exactly shy away from controversy. Margot Robbie and Allison Janney are brilliant in this movie, both delivering tour-de-force performances worthy of their Oscar nominations.

I, Tonya is definitely one of my favorite 2017 films. It’s hilarious and entertaining, ever-so-slightly heartbreaking, with some top notch acting from Robbie and Janney – a must see dark comedy about a troubled former celebrity that will make you laugh out loud and almost feel bad for her.

Replay Value: I would eagerly watch this again and I’m sure my wife will love it.
Sequel Potential: None.
Oscar Potential: Nominated for three Oscars: Robbie for Best Actress, Janney for Best Supporting Actress, and Film Editing. I haven’t seen all the movies nominated for Best Costume Design or Best Makeup, but anyone that can make Margot Robbie look even slightly unattractive probably deserves some acclaim. Also, it seems like adding I, Tonya as a tenth nominee for Best Picture wouldn’t be asking too much.

Grade: 8/10 (Must See)

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Call Me By Your Name (2017)

February 1, 2018

Starring: Timothee Chalamet, Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar
Director: Luca Guadagnino (A Bigger Splash)

Bottom Line: Call Me By Your Name is naturally going to draw some comparisons to 2005’s Brokeback Mountain and that might be all the information some of my followers need to decide to stay away. But 2018 is not 2005 and we live in a much more accepting (though still incredibly prejudiced) world nowadays and maybe some of you will appreciate this for what it is: a very solid coming-of-age love story set in Italy during the early 1980s… between a 17 year old boy and a 25 year old man. Yes, not everyone’s cup of tea – and the age difference borders on suspect – but I really enjoyed it. There are some cringe-worthy moments – as is the case with lots of foreign language films – but it’s funny, moving, and plenty memorable. It’s an emotional journey you are truly invested in and the Italian backdrop really engrosses you in the story. Timothee Chalamet gives the strongest 2017 performance from a lead actor that I’ve seen to date and Armie Hammer is also very good in a role I wouldn’t have really expected from him. I also really appreciated Elio’s (Chalamet) parents (Stuhlbarg and Casar). They were very progressive and supportive of what their son was up to, which would be cool enough in 2018, but is even more remarkable for a film set in the 80s.

Call Me By Your Name was a lot of fun and highly recommended. If you’re wary about a love story between two guys then it’s probably not for you, but I thought it was one of the better overall films of 2017. I think this could easily be a film I look back on in a few years and realize it’s better than I’m giving it credit for right now.

Replay Value: The more I think back on it, the more I’d like to watch it again.
Sequel Potential: Director Luca Guadagnino has already announced a sequel, which is rather surprising.
Oscar Potential: Nominated for four Oscars: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Song, and Timothee Chalamet for Best Actor.

Grade: 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

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Molly’s Game, The Shape of Water, A Ghost Story

January 9, 2018

I’m pretty far behind on posting my thoughts on entertainment content, so I’m just going to pump it all out right now.

Molly’s Game (2017) – This is a rare occurrence where a movie is significantly better than the book it was based on thanks in large part to Aaron Sorkin’s uncanny ability to translate stories to the big screen with his ability to write snappy and entertaining dialogue-heavy scenes. There’s a line in the movie where Idris Elba’s character says something about the best part of Molly’s story taking place after her book was published; he’s not wrong. In fact, his character didn’t even exist in the book. All the court drama is fresh material and it is quite great. Jessica Chastain and Elba are wonderful in their roles. Michael Cera’s character is actually the actor Tobey Maguire and while he’s painted pretty slimy in this movie, he plays a much bigger villain role in the book. For instance, Tobey insists on using his own personal Shuffle Master for the games and charges Molly to use it. I wasn’t moved by the book at all. I thought it was an interesting story, but I didn’t feel bad for Molly Bloom. This movie made me feel something. Kudos to Aaron Sorkin’s writing and directing and a great cast.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

The Shape of Water (2017) – This movie blew me away. Guillermo del Toro directs a wonderfully beautiful film with a fun (but kind of weird) love story about not judging a book by its cover. Sally Hawkins is ridiculously good in this movie, playing a mute that works in a secret government building as a cleaning lady and falls in love with a Sea Monster/Man they are holding captive. This is a film that is firing on all cylinders: visually, musically, and technically. Octavia Spencer and Richard Jenkins are great in supporting roles and Michael Shannon is terrific as the story’s main villain – goodness that guy can make you hate him. The Shape of Water might not wind up being my favorite movie of 2017, but it is almost certainly the best all around 2017 film I’ve seen so far. This movie is highly artistic and a little out there, so it might not be for everyone. My friend I saw it with had the audacity to call it “alright.”

8/10 (Must See)

A Ghost Story (2017) – This was an experience. I had no clue what I was getting into and was totally floored by the direction this movie takes. Casey Affleck plays husband to Rooney Mara, but passes away after a car accident early on in the movie only to return as the stereotypical-looking ghost in a white sheet. He returns to their home and watches her grieve – including an uncomfortably long four minute scene of Rooney Mara devouring a pie – and eventually move on. There is no interaction between ghost and grieving wife and even though the spirit was able travel from the morgue to their home, it remains behind after she moves out and other people begin to move in and out, and a serious amount of time passes. It’s a weird movie. There is very little dialogue after Casey Affleck’s character dies, as most of the film is music and a ghost observing. And yet, it was incredibly entrancing, moving, and quite thought-provoking. I really wanted my wife to watch it but I’m sure she’d hate it, so I didn’t even bother suggesting it. I’m hesitant to recommend this movie, but I loved it and I wanted to watch it again right after I saw it.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Raw (2017) – Technically, this movie was viewed at film festivals in 2016, but I don’t think it was released in theaters until 2017. This is a pretty bizarre French-language film about a young vegetarian girl forced to eat meat while getting hazed during orientation at a veterinarian school and develops an insatiable desire for meat and discovers that humans are quite tasty! There’s lots of weird stuff in this movie – it’s overly gross and sexual at times – and I would not recommend it to more conservative audiences. I thought it was pretty fun though and fans of horror movies from other countries shouldn’t be put off by it’s boundary pushing.

6/10 (Recommended)

Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010) – Happened to watch this on Netflix and thought it was a pretty fun, but not great horror movie with a twist. Tucker and Dale are harmless “hillbillies” that a group of teens mistake for murderers and the teens accidentally kill themselves one-by-one while the survivors blame it all on Tucker and Dale. There’s a don’t judge a book by its cover theme here too, but it’s pretty superficial and this film is just a light horror comedy that’s worth a watch if you have some time.

5/10 (Watchable)

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

December 20, 2017

Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hammill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern
Director: Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper)

Bottom Line: I feel like it’s important to note that I’m not a Star Wars fanatic. The series has always been overrated to me and while the original trilogy is definitely classic in the sense that they were groundbreaking films at the time and have had a tremendous affect on pop culture over the last 40 years, the movies themselves are merely enjoyable to me. I’m not wrapped up in all the mythology and I don’t watch all the movies again when a new one comes out. I haven’t seen a film in the prequel trilogy since Revenge of the Sith was in theaters. I did really enjoy The Force Awakens though and for the first time in my life I felt some of that Star Wars magic that everyone else is so enamored by.

The Last Jedi felt nothing like that. Right from the jump, we are hit with cringe-worthy dialogue and humor that doesn’t land. I chuckled one time during this movie and I was supposed to laugh a lot more than that. And then we are introduced to a Luke Skywalker that is nothing like your childhood hero. Even Mark Hammill hates this version.

I can’t get into all the minutiae of why this film is a poor follow up to The Force Awakens – I’ve seen fans nitpick all the relevant little details – but what I can say with confidence is that I was pretty bored while watching it and it was incredibly long for a movie that wasn’t highly entertaining. John Boyega’s Finn – one of the highlights of the previous film – has a much less interesting role this time around and goes on a side adventure that borders on prequel levels of terrible. I wasn’t a fan of Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren in the last film and this movie doesn’t help with that. Can you imagine Star Wars without Darth Vader? He’s a huge reason why those movies are memorable. Just a great villain. Kylo Ren is more similar to Hayden Christensen’s Anakin Skywalker than to Lord Vader – and that’s not a good thing. Plus, he spends this entire movie with his mask off. Ugh.

The Last Jedi does have some cool moments, but I think they occur far less often than dull or laughable ones. The critics enjoyed this movie, but I personally can’t recommend it. I can’t even say Star Wars diehards will love it because it seems as though the fan base is pretty split, but there are enough people that hate it, that I feel it’s fair to warn people to temper their expectations.

Replay Value: I don’t have much interest in seeing this again. My friend that went with me was happy to see it a second time though.
Sequel Potential: Episode IX is due out in 2019.
Oscar Potential: Star Wars movies are always strong candidates of Visual and Sound nominations. This movie will not be a contender for Best Picture.

Grade: 5/10 (Watchable)

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Coco (2017), Gerald’s Game (2017)

December 13, 2017

Starring: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt
Director: Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc., Toy Story 2)

Bottom Line: I loved it. What a feel good movie about family, passion, music, love, loss, memory, and, of course, death. Coco is a return to form for Pixar, combining absolutely beautiful CG animation with memorable characters and an enriching, funny story that pulls at the heart strings. Bring your Kleenex! This is Pixar’s best original film since Up in 2009.

Replay Value: Pretty close to a must own. I would definitely enjoy watching this multiple times.
Sequel Potential: Hit animated films always have sequel potential, but I think this would work best as a standalone film.
Oscar Potential: Best Animated Film nomination is a lock. There is potential for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. Possibly Best Original Song for “Remember Me.”

Grade: 8/10 (Must See)

Starring: Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood
Director: Mike Flanagan (Ouija: Origin of Evil, Hush)

Bottom Line: Gerald’s Game is a taut psychological thriller based on a short, overlooked Stephen King novel about a woman that goes on a remote cabin getaway with her husband in the hopes of rekindling their marriage. He cuffs her to the bed, she hates it, implores him to let her free, but… he has a heart attack and falls off the bed, wounding himself fatally. So she’s stuck there, handcuffed to the bed, with no food, and no company except a hungry, stray dog that wanders into the house and the figments of her deteriorating psychosis. Gerald’s Game is a surprisingly deep and emotional film considering the vast majority of it takes place on a bed with a woman that can barely move. Carla Gugino gives a phenomenal performance. This movie is streaming on Netflix and I definitely recommend it to anyone that enjoys psychological thrillers and doesn’t mind the claustrophobic circumstances.

Replay Value: Not a great candidate for multiple viewings, but it’s something you could revisit many years later.
Sequel Potential: Zero.
Oscar Potential: Carla Gugino is fantastic in this. Not sure how a Netflix movie plays into the Oscar races, but I’ll guess she doesn’t get much consideration.

Grade: 6/10 (Recommended)