Posts Tagged ‘jerry seinfeld’

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May 2020 Movie Reviews

June 7, 2020

Check out my profile on Letterboxd if you want to follow along as I write my reviews throughout the month and also because the site/app is amazing for film lovers. Movies definitely took a backseat this past month as I focused on documentaries and TV series. In addition to the stuff I review below, I also watched season three of Ozark (elite) and season one of Dead to Me (elite), so not only a few movies in May and I didn’t even get one Scorsese film in. Boo. I also hit a serious lack of motivation to write reviews. It’s so much harder to do if I don’t write immediately after watching something and that was the case for almost everything below.

The History of the Seattle Mariners (2020, Documentary, YouTube)

I love that this is on Letterboxd because I absolutely want to spread the word on it. I’m a diehard baseball fan and I’ve lived in the Seattle area my entire life, so obviously this documentary is right up my alley. That said, it seems like plenty of non-baseball and non-Mariners fans have loved what Dorktown put together here.

First off, the presentation is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. This is basically the coolest PowerPoint video ever created. The use of actual archive footage is pretty minimal and it’s basically two dudes narrating over a visual storyboard the whole time. Probably doesn’t sound awesome, but I can assure you that it is. The narrators are witty and often funny, making for a very enjoyable watch despite an almost total lack of actual footage.

Obviously, being a Mariners fan this hits close to home for me, but the reason this has been made is because the Mariners have such a unique and insane history. I’ve been an avid fan for 25+ years now and I was still surprised by some of the stats and anomalies presented here. I think any fan of sports can appreciate how absurd it all is and I’d consider this a must see.

But I am a Mariners fan so this meant so much more to me. I got to learn things about the team I didn’t know already (or forgot), plus I got to relive all the magical and heartbreaking moments this team has given me over the last quarter century. I had to hold back tears multiple times. This is a must see for sports fans – and especially baseball fans – but for Mariners fans… this is just pure magic.

10/10 (Perfection)

The Last Dance (2020, Documentary, ESPN+)

Another elite sports documentary that I spent the majority of May watching. This one follows the Chicago Bulls dynasty that dominated the NBA in the 90s and particularly focuses on Michael Jordan and the 1997-1998 season, but still manages to tell the full story of how that team came to be.

I was growing up when MJ was in his prime and he was still a pretty mystical figure to me. How many NBA licensed video games did you play as a kid that had every player in it except His Airness? Was he even real? Looking at pictures and highlight reels it sometimes seems like he might not have been.

All the key players get their moment in the spotlight, but Michael Jordan is certainly the focus, as he should be. I really just loved every minute of this 10-part series and that’s quite the accomplishment. I’m not the biggest NBA fan so plenty of this information was new to me (or long forgotten) and it was cool to see all the behind-the-scenes footage of what was going on at all stages of this dynasty.

Who is the greatest basketball player of all-time? Michael Jordan or LeBron James? Or someone else? It’s certainly a debate, but The Last Dance sure didn’t hurt the argument for Jordan. If nothing else, he was the biggest larger-than-life athlete of our generation (I’m saying that as an 80s/90s kid).

I thought The Last Dance was phenomenal and I’m not a big basketball guy. At minimum, I’d say this is a Must See, but I thought it was as entertaining as possible for nearly ten hours so…

9/10 (Sensational)

The Way Back (2020, RedBox)

I’m always on board with an underdog sports story and this one features a coach that has to overcome his own personal demons in order to help his ragtag team become something… respectable. You’d think this is probably based on a true story, but I can’t find anything that says that’s the case. Ben Affleck is pretty good in this and all the cussing he does from the sidelines of his religious school makes for multiple amusing moments. I liked this enough that I’d watch it again some day.

6/10 (Recommended)

Extraction (2020, Netflix)

A fun action movie that felt like a throwback to the good ole days of the 80s and 90s when action movies were consistently fun. Hemsworth is well suited to the be the face of the genre for this generation. Not a must see or anything, but worth watching if you’re browsing Netflix and can’t find something.

6/10 (Recommended)

Jerry Seinfeld: 23 Hours to Kill (2020, Comedy Special, Netflix)

I wouldn’t say it’s hilarious, but I found it entertaining at least. Seinfeld fans shouldn’t be disappointed, but it’s nothing special.

6/10 (Recommended)

Watchmen (2019, Mini-Series, HBONow)

I was kind of blown away by this. It took me a while to get to it because someone told me to re-read the graphic novel before watching because I would appreciate it a lot more, so I took my sweet time re-reading that while reading three other books, but I think it paid off because everything was fresh and I could easily pick up on all the subtle references to the original content.

Honestly, I think the way they continued this story was genius level writing. And the story is set in an alternate reality but still seemed so timely and relevant – especially in 2020. Is it blasphemous to say I liked it more than Alan Moore’s story? It’s totally engrossing, the characters are fully realized and believable, and I like the decisions the writers made with the older characters. It all just clicked together perfectly. And the presentation was stunning. Plus it had great acting – especially from Regina King and Jean Smart.

Huge winner. I’d love to see another season.

8/10 (Must See)

Above the Rim (1994, Netflix)

This review may contain spoilers.

Here’s a timeline of events:

March 23, 1994 – Above the Rim is released in theaters
March 14, 1995 – 2pac releases Me Against the World, his third studio album
February 13, 1996 – 2Pac releases All Eyez on Me, his fourth studio album
September 7, 1996 – Tupac Shakur is shot multiple times in Las Vegas
September 13, 1996 – Tupac Shakur dies from his gunshot wounds
November 5, 1996 – The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory is released under the alias Makaveli, 2Pac’s fifth studio album

I turned 14 in 1996 and things just felt so different back then. Tupac was 25 when he died. Look at all he accomplished in his last two years on earth. Consider this: Eminem was 26 when his first studio album was released. Tupac still had the length of Eminem’s entire career ahead of him. Can you even imagine what that looks like if he doesn’t die?

A few things surprise me about this timeline. First, Tupac had a lot of success in the movies before he really blew up as a rap artist. I feel like Me Against the World is the album that catapulted him to rap superstar status and by the time it dropped, he’d already had prominent roles in Juice, Poetic Justice, and Above the Rim. It’s just strange to me how successful his film career was before he reached hip-hop’s stratosphere. Also, how crazy is it that the releases of All Eyez on Me and Makaveli and his death all happened in the same year? When I was 14, this whole timeline of events felt like it took place over a decade.

R.I.P. Legend

Tupac makes this movie. I don’t think it’s uncommon for people to list Above the Rim with other 90s classic hood movies like Menace II Society and Boyz n the Hood but it’s just not even close to that level of quality. The soundtrack is a hip-hop classic and I think that, along with Tupac’s presence, makes people remember this movie as being better than it actually is.

Tupac is great. He’s the reason I watched this again. The man just oozed charisma and superstar potential. He had it. You take him out of this movie and replace him with an average actor from back then and I just don’t think many people are looking back on this as a classic. The rest of the movie is fine, but nothing special.

Don’t get me wrong… Above the Rim is plenty enjoyable, but it’s also pretty silly. What exactly happened at the start of the movie? They were taking turns tapping the backboard and one of them accidentally jumps off the roof? LOL. It’s so ridiculous that at first I thought it was just meant to be a dream sequence and the kid must have died some other way. But no, they stuck to that story.

This movie is also guilty of the absurd sports montage where one team scores what appears to be like 40 unanswered points. I mean… you can’t show the good guys score ONE basket? We are supposed to believe they can come back from that kind of deficit? Also, Birdie threatened Kyle’s scholarship to Georgetown and Kyle was worried enough about it that he was throwing the championship game. But then old dude laces them up and suddenly he’s not worried about it anymore? I know Bugaloo ultimately took care of that threat, but Kyle didn’t know that was going to happen.

Watch this again to remember and appreciate Tupac Shakur. Listen to the amazing soundtrack. But let’s not pretend this is something it isn’t.

5/10 (Decent)

Big (1988, HBONow)

I thought this was a rewatch, but then I didn’t remember anything about it. The piano key dancing scene is something I know, but it’s an iconic scene, so I didn’t necessarily have to watch the movie to know about it. Also, I’m familiar with the Zandar machine that grants the kid’s wish to be big. Everything else? It was like I was watching for the first time. I probably watched this as a kid, maybe once, but I thought I watched it as an adult, but it seems like I would remember Celia Hodes from the show “Weeds” being in it if I did. Nope.

I really liked Big. In fact, I just enjoy this kind of concept in general – you know, where something magical happens and the main character(s) transforms into something else but still have their normal conscious. It might not be an original idea, but it never fails to amuse me when it’s executed properly and Big does just that because Tom Hanks is really, really great. Of all the performances in similar movies, Hanks in Big might be the best I’ve ever seen (not that I’m putting a lot of thought into that statement). I just totally buy him as a 13 year old kid. He’s wonderful. I’m actually somewhat surprised Hanks got an Oscar nom for this role… not because he didn’t deserve… Big just seems like the type of movie the Academy would overlook.

Big is great. Full of charm, wonder, and Tom Hanks’ first iconic performance, it’s a film you should revisit if you haven’t seen it for many years.

P.S.: My mind can’t accept the fact that the kid that plays the best friend in Big is not the same kid that plays John Connor’s friend in Terminator 2. How is that not the same person?

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

This is Spinal Tap (1984, borrowed DVD)

An all-time comedy classic that I had never seen until now. Did it live up to the hype? Honestly… not really. It’s possible this film created the mockumentary genre so I can appreciate it for being groundbreaking even if I can’t experience what it was like to see it for the first time in the mid-80s. It’s definitely funny though and some of the original songs are pure gems. I didn’t walk away thinking this is a must see comedy, but I still liked it quite a bit.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)