Posts Tagged ‘2019 movies’

h1

Queen & Slim (2019)

December 15, 2019

Queen & Slim (2019)

Director: Melina Matsoukas (Insecure, Master of None)

Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Jodie Turner-Smith

Anticipation Level: Strong

How Was It? Good. I had never heard of this movie until I saw the trailer for it and thought it looked fantastic. I liked the idea of modernizing Bonnie and Clyde by incorporating Black Lives Matter and police brutality into the story and thought there was a lot of potential for something great here. I have to admit I was a little disappointed as the film didn’t reach the highs I thought it could. I honestly think it peaked before the opening credits and the scene that sets things in motion is by far the most tense and impactful part of the entire film. And then there’s another two hours of movie to watch. I thought the writers did a poor job with Daniel Kaluuya’s character. For a movie that’s probably supposed to feel empowering for black folk, they sure have him making some really questionable decisions. I don’t want to spoil anything in this review, so I’ll just say… gas station scene… wtf… There were multiple moments like this (although this was the most egregious) that really took me out of the movie and had me shaking my head.

Overall though, I did like Queen & Slim. I’ve never seen Bonnie & Clyde, but this did remind me a lot of Thelma & Louise and I’ve always loved that movie. I think both leads did a good job. I’ve become a big fan of Daniel Kaluuya over the last few years. The writers did a really good job of building the relationship between the two main characters, taking them from a failed Tinder date and creating a bond that few couples could claim to have reached. Also, the soundtrack for this movie is pretty awesome (and includes the return of Lauryn Hill!). I give this movie a recommendation but I was honestly hoping for more. It didn’t hit me the way I was expecting it to.

Replay Value: Well, I’d rather watch Thelma & Louise for the 10th time than watch this for the second, so there’s that…

Sequel Potential: None.

Oscar Potential: There’s already controversy surrounding this film’s lack of Golden Globe noms – apparently the Hollywood Foreign Press Association didn’t even attend the consideration screenings – so it’s not likely to garner any Oscar attention either. While I think it’s garbage that the HFPA isn’t even watching the movie, I don’t really think the film is award-worthy myself; the script just isn’t good enough.

6/10 (Recommended)

h1

Marriage Story (2019): Best Picture Favorite?

December 13, 2019

Marriage Story (2019)

Director: Noah Baumbach (The Meyerowitz Stories, Frances Ha, Greenberg)

Starring: Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson

Anticipation Level: High

How Was It? I’m not going to lie, this movie wasn’t even on my radar a month ago, but it didn’t take long for the hype to build and make me think there might be something special here. I thought Marriage Story was absolutely fantastic. It’s a tight little story about a family going through the divorce process as the adults try to pursue their careers on opposite coasts while playing tug-a-war with their only child. I could really feel the authenticity in everything that was happening – from the recollection of happier times to the disbelief that someone you used to love more than anything in the world could suddenly become your worst nightmare, the film rang true and will probably feel familiar to anyone that has been through a difficult breakup. I didn’t think there was a phony moment in this movie. Also, while it’s a tearjerker that will pull at your heart strings, it also made me laugh more than most of the comedies I’ve seen this year.

Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson give absolutely sensational performances. I was blown away by both of them and there were multiple scenes throughout the film where I was enthralled by their acting. They are already both nominated for Golden Globes and both are locks for Oscar noms also, with Scarlett looking like the favorite to win right now to me. Laura Dern is also great in this movie as Scarlett’s divorce attorney. I’ve always thought of her as the actress from Jurassic Park but after her work here and in Big Little Lies on HBO the last few years, it’s pretty clear she’s become an elite actress. She has a Globe nom for this movie also and is certainly drawing live at an Oscar nom as well.

Marriage Story is definitely a difficult and sad movie. I watched it while my wife was sleeping next to me and I was so moved by the film that I gave her a long hug of appreciation for what we have while thinking about how happy and grateful I am to have her in my life. Marriage Story is a good reminder to not take things for granted and to not autopilot your way through life, work, and your relationships. I’m not a highly emotional person and usually movies that have an affect on me just make my eyes water up a little bit, but this one actually made me spill tears.

Marriage Story is an absolute must see movie with some knockout performances. It’s currently among my top 3 movies of the year and definitely has a chance to win the Best Picture Oscar. Check it out on Netflix streaming right now.

Replay Value: Not really the kind of movie that people will want to watch repeatedly, but I think I will enjoy it again before Oscar season.

Sequel Potential: None.

Oscar Potential: Definitely. The film got six Globe noms in all and all three nominated actors will probably get Oscar nods as well. I’ll say a Best Picture nom is a lock and the movie should have a shot at writing, directing, and score noms.

8/10 (Must See)

h1

The Lion King (2019)

August 29, 2019

The Lion King (2019)

Director: Jon Favreau (The Jungle Book, Chef, Iron Man)

Starring: voices of Chiwetel Ejiofor, John Oliver, James Earl Jones, Donald Glover, Beyonce Knowles, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner

Anticipation Level: Medium

How Was It? I was pretty bored watching this. Sure, it looks pretty amazing, but it’s not like I was itching to see a version of The Lion King with real animals. While the visual effects add a lot of wow factor, this movie is severely lacking in the magic and fun that made the original a classic – possibly because none of the characters aside from Timon and Pumba really stand out. Actually, Beyonce sort of stood out, but not in a good way; there were a couple of spots where her voice work actually made me cringe a little and trust me, I don’t really want to say anything bad about Beyonce. The coolest thing about this movie was Chiwetel Ejiofor’s voice work as Scar. He was awesome.

I really liked what Favreau did with The Jungle Book, but the live action Disney remake trend is already wearing thin and they’re not about to stop pumping them out. I think the only animated Disney classic I want to see a live action version of at this point is Pinnochio. The 2019 version of The Lion King isn’t bad – I enjoyed it for the most part – but it’s definitely nothing special and that’s pretty sad when you think of how wonderful the 1994 version is. I can’t think of any reason I’d ever want to watch this again. Give me the original 100% of the time.

Replay Value: I think I’ve already covered this.

Sequel Potential: Eek. They made two direct-to-video sequels back in the day and I didn’t watch either of those, but this movie $1.5 billion worldwide so…

Oscar Potential: Favreau’s The Jungle Book won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects so this should probably at least get nominated in that same category.

5/10 (Decent)

h1

Good Boys (2019)

August 24, 2019

Good Boys (2019)

Director: Gene Stupnitsky (“The Office)

Starring: Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, Brady Noon

Anticipation Level: Strong

How Was It? I thought it was absolutely hilarious and the kids are wonderful in it. Jacob Tremblay crushed it in Room with Brie Larson a few years back and proves that he has some serious comedic chops also. It’s funny reading the user reviews on IMDb because almost all of the most recent ones are extremely low ratings saying that the content is absolutely appalling. Sure. Maybe it is. But how does someone watch the trailer for this movie, decide to go see it, and then get offended by it? I’m guessing most of them never even watched it and just wanted to dust off their pitchforks. I mean… I sort of get it – a solid amount of the film’s laughs come from the kids handling adult sex props without realizing what they are and some of the scenes cross the line. Would I let my own sixth grader watch Good Boys? Honestly, I don’t know. I think it depends on the kid, but I don’t envision myself as the kind of parent that is putting strict parameters on the content my offspring absorb.

Ignoring the fact that this movie is putting child actors in some questionable situations (and if their parents don’t care, then I don’t care), I thought Good Boys was one of the most thoroughly enjoyable films I’ve seen in 2019. I was laughing pretty hard from start to finish and it’s not like this movie is a one trick pony – there is some emotional weight here. Think back to the end of your elementary school days and recall how many of your best friends remained your best friends throughout junior high… and high school… and so on. Good Boys made me laugh my ass off and then it made me sadly nostalgic, thinking about all the strong friendships I had as a kid with people I almost never talk to now.

My initial thought after seeing Good Boys was that it was my favorite movie of the year, but I’m pretty sure that was an overreaction. Comedies tend to age poorly for me, as they are never nearly as funny over multiple viewings. They need a little extra oomph to make turn them into something special. I’m not sure yet if Good Boys has all the ingredients to turn it into a comedy classic, but I do know I’d be happy to watch it again.

Replay Value: Probably won’t be as funny, but it’s worth multiple viewings in my book.

Sequel Potential: Superbad never got one, but since these kids are 12, there’s plenty of school years left for them to work with if the movie is a box office success.

Oscar Potential: None.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

h1

Movie Reviews: Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, The Farewell

August 14, 2019

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019) – I’m shocked at the critical reaction to this one: it’s sitting at 81% on Rotten Tomatoes right now. I thought it was extremely dull. I read and enjoyed the book this film is adapted from when I was in elementary school, but I didn’t experience much nostalgia while watching the movie because I only remembered one of the stories (“The Red Spot”). None of the characters or actors were particularly interesting and I didn’t find the movie even slightly scary. The overall narrative put together to connect the stories was fine, but I didn’t feel any emotional connection to anything happening on screen. I was mostly bored watching this and was looking forward to it being over. For comparison’s sake, I gave Crawl a 5/10 a few weeks ago, but that film was substantially more enjoyable than Scary Movies.

4/10 (Forgettable)

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019) – I’ve seen people say they hated it and I’ve seen critics call it Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece. I don’t really get either reaction. Usually I am giddy watching QT’s films and find them overwhelmingly enjoyable, but similarly to The Hateful Eight, this one didn’t fill me with pure joy either. I was actually pretty confused about my feelings on the movie the whole time I was watching it and even hours after seeing it, I still wasn’t sure. I know it’s not one of my favorite Tarantino flicks, but I also know I didn’t dislike it because… there’s so many good things happening on screen. Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt are amazing in it. The set pieces and art direction are meticulously put together and bring late 1960s Hollywood to vivid life. It’s plenty funny. On the other hand, the multiple plots seem to meander along without any real meaning before uniting in a strange and nonsensical climax. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it. Still, I’d be happy to watch it again… like right now. I feel like that speaks to the film’s potential to grow on me over time.

6/10 (Recommended)

The Farewell (2019) – Since most people will probably be unfamiliar with The Farewell, let me tell you a bit about the story: rapper/actor Awkwafina stars as a Chinese girl named Billi living in America that learns her grandmother is terminally ill and her family is planning a faux wedding for a cousin in order to go back to China and say goodbye one last time. Billi is being left behind because she is highly emotional and the family is worried she will tell the grandma that she is dying. Obviously, Billi ends up going to China anyway. I mean… this is great stuff. It’s one of the more personal films I’ve seen this year and the emotional impact is pretty high. I thought Awkwafina was a ton of fun in Crazy Rich Asians last year, but she proves she’s capable of being more than comedic relief by carrying this film on her shoulders and taking on a serious role. I’ve listened to her music and, well, she is waaaaaaaaaaaay better at acting. This is a touching film with plenty of charm and humor in it. There was a bit of a quirky Wes Anderson vibe to it and some of the slow motion shots of the family walking together as a group seemed out of place, but overall The Farewell is one of the most enjoyable movies I’ve seen this year.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Batman: Hush (2019) – It seems hard to mess up one of Batman’s best graphic novels, but DC Animation continues to do just that. This is better than the abysmal adaptation of The Killing Joke, but the writers take some interesting and questionable liberties with the story here and the end result is incredibly unsatisfying. I’m honestly not sure what they were thinking. Is it so hard to just do a faithful adaptation and not try to put a personal stamp on a well known story? I guess the main objective was to take a story that was written in the early 2000s and make it part of DC Animation’s current continuity of films, so this film takes place after the events of Son of Batman and Batman vs. Robin, even though the character of Damian Wayne wasn’t created until 2006 and thus didn’t exist in the original Hush graphic novel. The coolest thing about Hush was always that it involved so many key players in Batman lore and they all show up here and that’s a lot of fun. I’ve always thought Rainn Wilson (Dwight Schrute) is an odd choice to voice Lex Luthor and that continues to feel weird here. This movie was enjoyable, but I hate the big changes they made to the core story. HATE THEM. DC has announced they are making a movie out of my favorite Batman story: The Long Halloween. Here’s to hoping they don’t mess that up too.

5/10 (Decent)

h1

Movie Reviews: Midsommar, Toy Story 4, Spider-Man: Far From Home, Crawl, Child’s Play

July 26, 2019

Midsommar (2019) – This definitely won’t be for everyone. It’s director Ari Aster’s follow up to last year’s awesome Hereditary and it is every bit as unsettling and quite a bit weirder. Florence Pugh gives another top notch performance and already has two roles this year that could earn her some Oscar consideration. For the first half of this movie, I was enthralled, thinking it was one of the best of the year, but as it moved into its last act, I couldn’t tell if I was losing interest or if I was just shocked numb. I definitely preferred Hereditary, but Midsommar gets high marks for its gorgeous cinematography, crazy setting, over-the-top gore and a great acting job from Pugh. I recommend, but be warned.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable… sort of)

Toy Story 4 (2019) – Somehow Pixar keeps pumping out extremely good sequels to their first franchise. For me, Toy Story 3 was the best film of the series and a perfect conclusion to this saga and one of my favorite films of the past couple decades, but when Disney can print a billion dollars with every new entry, you knew it wouldn’t be too long before we got another movie… and this probably won’t be the last one either. I really enjoyed Toy Story 4. The story meanders differently than previous installments and Forky is an amazing addition. The animation looks as good as ever and while the movie didn’t quite meet my expectations of being mind-blowingly good, I can’t say I was disappointed either. I am looking forward to watching it again and seeing if I can find a more magical appreciation of it.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) – I really enjoyed this. It’s consistently funny, has some awesome action sequences, and the cast is great. Jake Gyllenhall is a nice addition as Mysterio and I liked the way that character was handled. This movie was extremely pleasing but I did like Homecoming more, mostly because of Michael Keaton and the amazing scene between Peter and Vulture before the dance. Far From Home doesn’t have a sequence like that and for a hero known as “the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man,” this version of Spidey has seemed to spend very little time in New York.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Crawl (2019) – If this movie doesn’t make you want to pack up your belongings and relocate to Florida, then I don’t know what will. This is basically Jaws in a crawl space with big ‘ole gators instead of a great white, so it’s not exactly breaking new ground, but it was pretty much exactly what I wanted and that made it entertaining enough.

5/10 (Decent)

Child’s Play (2019) – I was primed to hate this movie. How disrespectful is it to reboot a franchise when the original continuity is still producing new content? Series creator Don Mancini directed Cult of Chucky in 2017 and the original cast and crew are currently working on a T.V. series that continues the story of the first seven movies. So what the hell is this? Chucky is a just a highly capable A.I. doll that a disgruntled factory worker decided to flip the “bad” switch on? Eww. But somehow, some way, this movie works. It’s funny, it’s gruesome, and it’s pretty damn good. I’d… watch a sequel. *gasp*

6/10 (Recommended)

Bladerunner 2049 (2017) – There’s a lot to love about this movie – the cinematography and sound are unreal, Denis Villeneuve is a genius, Ryan Gosling is great, and the concept is really cool – but I just don’t get the Blade Runner series. I’ve heard plenty of people talk about the original like it’s an all-time classic and I’ve seen it twice now and both times I came away feeling underwhelmed. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it. I felt the same way about this sequel. It was good – fantastic from a technical standpoint – but the stories in both films didn’t move me at all. Maybe I just need to keep watching them until something clicks? The Blade Runner movies are really good, but I don’t think either of them are great.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

h1

Movie Reviews: Rocketman, John Wick 3, Long Shot

June 7, 2019

Rocketman (2019) – I really enjoyed it. Taron Egerton gives the performance of the year so far. He was amazing as Elton John and it’s pretty hard to take the role of a well-known musical legend and make it your own. He absolutely crushed it. He was arguably better than Remi Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody and that performance won an Oscar. I liked how the film used Elton’s biggest hits to help tell the story and, of course, Elton John has plenty of iconic songs to pick from. Also, the costumes in this were insane and should be a lock Oscar winner in that department. Rocketman might not be the most enjoyable movie of the year, but it might be the best one so far. 8/10 (Must See)

John Wick 3: Parabellum (2019) – More of the same here. Good, fun action and some cool cinematography. If you liked the first two movies you should like this one also, but it’s not really doing anything new or making the overarching story any more interesting. I’ll say it’s the weakest in the franchise so far, but I’d still watch a part 4. 6/10 (Recommended)

Long Shot (2019) – I really enjoyed it. The only Seth Rogen movie I didn’t skip in the last half decade was Steve Jobs, so it’s nice to see him in something that doesn’t suck and he was pretty funny in this. Charlize Theron was also great and there’s a scene where she needs to solve a national crisis that is pure comedy gold. 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019) – God, I hate to call myself a Ted Bundy fan. That can’t be the right word. Historian? I’ve read The Stranger Beside Me twice, plus various other Bundy publications and I’ve seen multiple movies and documentaries. I know this story inside and out and I’m definitely fascinated with it, especially since a lot of it happened in the Pacific Northwest and the fact that he escaped from jail twice (spoilers!) is mind-boggling and honestly kind of awesome. I also loved the casting of Zac Efron and thought he looked great. Yet somehow I absolutely hated this movie and I’m not entirely sure why. It just felt like it lacked authenticity and trying to tell this story from Ted’s girlfriend’s point of view was a misstep. I was bored out of my mind watching this and it wasn’t from overexposure. It just sucks. 3/10 (Bad)

Enemy (2013) – This was insanity. Anything from director Denis Villeneuve is must see cinema, so I went back and checked out this thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal and it was fantastic. There’s a lot to dissect in this one and it’s not obvious what everything means but I enjoyed unraveling the mystery and I was absolutely riveted the entire time I was watching. Enemy is strange and awesome, and a must see in my book, but definitely not for everyone. 8/10 (Must See)