Posts Tagged ‘home alone’

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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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December 2019 Movie Reviews: Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker, Knives Out, Christmas Movies

December 21, 2019

Going forward, this is how I’m going to review movies – unless I want to highlight a specific movie I think warrants more discussion (i.e. leaving Parasite off this list). You can expect quick, succinct reviews here that give you an idea of how I felt about a movie and a few strengths and weaknesses, if warranted. I’ll keep track of every movie I watch throughout the month and post my thoughts on them at the start of the next month. This will include rewatches and possibly rating changes. I’ll also post some thoughts on any TV shows if I finish watching a season during the month. My rating system for TV is a little different than for movies because… I’m a psychopath.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019, theaters) – Geez. I’ve never proclaimed to be a big Star Wars fan, so it’s not like I’ve ever been super invested in these films, but… I think I’m over them. There have been eight Star Wars movies released since I was in high school and I’m a genuine fan of two of them (Rogue One and The Force Awakens) and none of them have been dear to me. That’s a lot of mediocrity. The Rise of Skywalker just adds to the list. It was mildly entertaining, but I honestly didn’t care about anything that was happening. As always, these movies are pretty good visually but I just can’t get emotionally invested in the story or find a way to care about these characters.

5/10 (Decent)

Knives Out (2019, theater) – This probably deserves a formal review but here we are. It’s a slick whodunnit with a great cast and plenty of memorable characters and is wildly entertaining the entire way. I give it a strong recommendation and would be happy to watch it again. I can actually see this growing on me and giving it a higher rating in the future.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Thoroughbreds (2017, HBO NOW) – Interesting, entertaining and a bit disturbing with some quality performances from Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy. Also features the late Anton Yelchin in one of his better roles. I recommend it.

6/10 (Recommended)

Klaus (2019, Netflix) – A worthy addition to the staple of Christmas holiday films with a fresh take on the legend of Santa and some unbelievably crisp animation. I thought this was top notch, but I want to see it again before labeling it a Must See.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Home Alone (1990, Disney+) – 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)

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992, Disney+) – 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)

Fatal Attraction (1987, Amazon Prime) – A movie that has always intrigued me but I never got around to watching. I always thought it was probably just softcore erotica, but Fatal Attraction actually got nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture! Seeing it streaming on Prime, I finally watched it and it was… pretty good! Glenn Close totally makes the movie and plays unhinged and obsessed really well. It didn’t strike me as a film that should be in anyone’s top 5 of any year, but it was definitely worth watching.

6/10 (Recommended)

Us (2019, HBO NOW) – I’ve seen it three times now. After two viewings, I was pretty confident labelling it a Must See, but after a third viewing, I think it’s just a pretty good, but not great film.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable) [revised rating]

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017, Netflix) – I thought this was really mediocre and bordering on bad the first time I saw it, but after being convinced to give it another chance (plus wanting to refresh before the new movie) I found it to be enjoyable this time around as some of the things that bothered me (i.e. Rose) didn’t anymore. I still don’t think it’s good enough that I’d recommend it though.

5/10 (Decent)

The Santa Clause (1994, Disney+) – A forgotten Christmas classic. Whenever the best holiday movies come up, I don’t seem to hear The Santa Clause get mentioned much, but it’s far too enjoyable to be omitted like that. Tim Allen is somehow great casting and this movie oozes charm and holiday spirit.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare (2018, HBO NOW) – Total trash. Like… absurdly dumb. It gets called a Final Destination ripoff a lot, but I thought the movie it really wanted to imitate was It Follows. This is almost certainly the single worst movie I’ve watched in 2019 (but note it is a 2018 release).

2/10 (Painful)

Noelle (2019, Disney+) – Apologies to Truth or Dare, this is the biggest piece of shit I watched in 2019. Unbearably cheesy, misguided, and not even remotely funny, my wife and I both thought this was unwatchable. I’ll give Dina credit for making it to the halfway point – and I was going to power through if she wanted to – but when she quit it, I figured I probably shouldn’t spend my last hours of 2019 watching the worst movie of the year, and I turned it off about 50 minutes in.

2/10 (Painful)

TV SHOWS

Big Mouth (s2, 2018, Netflix) – A guilty pleasure, I guess? It’s raunchy animation focused on middle school kids going through puberty and all the emotional and physical craziness involved when your hormones start taking over. This show is NOT for kids though. It’s a hard rated-R – and possibly even worse – with absurdly graphic sex talk and even shows the kids naked sometimes. I almost feel bad even watching it. Some of the characters are way too over-the-top and gross (Jay, Coach Steve, the Hormone Monsters). On the other hand, it’s also pretty damn charming and plenty funny, plus I think it does a good job of really digging into the difficulties and wonders of discovering your bodies at that age. Nick Kroll does some excellent voicework and I really liked the addition of The Shame Wizard in this season. I’m a bit ambivalent about how I feel about this show, but I guess I like it overall and have to admit I enjoy it.

3.5/6 (Decent/Good)

The Mandalorian (s1, 2019, Disney+) – I’m going to say it… this is the best thing to ever come out of the Star Wars universe. I’ve already mentioned I don’t hold any of the films dear to me, so when I make this statement, it’s not coming from someone that is in love with the franchise. I kind of went into The Mandalorian wanting to not like the show, but it didn’t take long to win me over. Everyone knows about Baby Yoda by now and that was a goddamn stroke of creative genius. Baby Yoda is a level of cuteness that has possibly never been seen before and adds a serious mystique to the show. It’s not a spoiler to say that this character is never referenced in the trilogy that just wrapped up, so… I’m extremely curious to see where this story is headed. I think Baby Yoda makes the show, but there is plenty to love about The Mandalorian. From a technical standpoint, it’s as spectacular as any show I’ve ever seen. The sets, sounds, costumes, and creatures are all elite. I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing what Jon Favreau and co. have in store for season 2.

5/6 (Must Watch)

Rick & Morty (s4 pt. 1, 2019, Adult Swim) – I got into Rick & Morty either this year or last year, so I was late to the party, but it didn’t take long to win me over. I devoured the first three seasons and by the time I was done with them, I was on board with the sentiment that the show was all-time levels of awesome. Season 4 is the first time I’ve watched the episodes as they came out and I have to say, I was a little disappointed with the first half of season 4. They have released five episodes so far and I thought two of them were great (episodes one and five), while episode four (with dragons?) was one of the worst of the whole series. To be fair though, the bar for the series is insanely high, but that episode was a bit of a head scratcher for me. The other two episodes I was a bit lukewarm on but still liked overall. Considering the consistent level of greatness this show has operated on for three seasons, having two cool episodes and a weak one in the first five of season four seems like a step in the wrong direction.

4/6 (Good)

Don’t F*** With Cats (2019, Netflix) – An insane story about how a bunch of internet nerds formed a Facebook group to track down some kid that made a video of himself torturing and killing a cat and then posted it online. It’s pretty crazy how the group figure out who the person is and then watch in horror as he escalates to actually murdering a human (also posted in a video online). I guess I’m confused about how the internet works because it seems like it would be extremely easy for law enforcement to find out exactly where a video was posted and track down the person that made it, but maybe these are advances in technology that have mostly be fine-tuned in the 7+ years since these events took place. Still, this is an unreal and extremely fascinating story. There are three episodes and once you start the first one, you won’t want to stop watching until you are done.

4.5/6 (Good/Must Watch)